Now in its tenth year, this annual conference brings dozens of practitioners, scholars, and seekers to the famous and fabled town near the foot of Glastonbury Tor.
Liz Williams, Ph.D, author and Glastonbury resident, co-founded the conference in 2010.
“We started the GOC around 2010,” said Williams. “We wanted to have a serious conference dedicated to the occult, a little narrower than the, ‘Pagan’, remit, as the Pagan Federation and other groups do a great job of organizing Pagan conferences.”
Williams, who also co-owns the esoteric shop The Cat and the Cauldron with her partner, Trevor Jones, is a member of the organizing committee, along with Jones, Sally North, Ph.D, and James North.
“We held the first one on January 9th, 2010,” said Williams.“Since then it has been run by different people, and we recommenced running the conference directly in 2019, although we’ve been involved with it for the last few years.”
The two-day conference offered programs and workshops on a wide variety of topics, book-ended by opening and closing rituals.
“We choose speakers rather than topics,” explained Williams, “and we’re all well connected with the British occult scene. So we leave topics up to the speakers.”
This year’s roster of speakers included authors Ronald Hutton, Nikki Wyrd, David Rankine, Julian Vayne, Paul Weston, and Robert Anderson Plimer. Also featured were teacher and Secret Landscape Tours founder Louise Hodgson, goetic magician Jake Stratton-Kent, author Nikki Wyrd, and academic researcher and Ph.D candidate Deja Whitehouse.
Speaker’s topics ranged from Hodgson’s, “Deep Into the Land- the Beauty and the Terror”, to Plimer’s, “The Golem”, to Wyrd’s, “Age-Old Magic: Ways to Approach Death.”
Craft, conjure, and occult history are also on the program.
Wyrd, Vayne, Rankine, and Plimer held workshops as well.
Wyrd and Vayne teamed up to present, “Psychic Spring Cleaning Practice.” Rankine and Plimer both hosted workshops on different aspects of Kabblalah.
In addition, conference co-organizer David North held a workshop titled, “Rosicrucian Magic, Elementals and Faieries,” while Satanic Temple International founder Zeke Appolyon presented, “The Devil You Know: Modern Satanism’s Changing Face.”
Mima Cornish of Hedge Rose Healing and practitioner and author Thea Faye presented, “Ritual Techniques and Personal Praxis.”
Saturday evening’s events included a launch party for Weston’s latest book, “The Occult Battle of Britain”, and a performance by comedian and poet Donna Scott.
It is difficult to imagine a setting better suited than Glastonbury to host an event of this type, a fact that is not lost on the organizers of the conference.
“We’re keen that people connect with the town, with the spirit of the place – that if they are coming from a distance, they get to see a little bit of Glastonbury as well as just attending the conference,” said Williams. “We had some American visitors and some guests from the Continent this year. We’ve got some great pubs and cafes here, and our fellow shopkeepers have been very supportive, too.”Even those in the community who are not necessarily part of the Pagan community are supportive of their efforts.
“We’ve had a lot of support from the Town Hall itself, where the Conference is held, explained Williams. “They host a lot of Pagan and alternative events.”
She also told The Wild Hunt that the event has not drawn the kind of pushback or protest that occult and Pagan events often do in other areas.
Williams reported that while attendance at the event has varied from year to year, the 2018 conference drew approximately one hundred guests. The upward trend continued in 2019. More than one-hundred twenty people attended this year’s conference.
The organizing committee, however, is already focused on the 2020 conference.
Williams told TWH that tickets will go on sale sometime around the Spring Equinox.
The exact timing of the event has not yet been determined, though. While they have scheduled the event around the same time of year to this point, Williams said that they were considering moving to later in 2020 due to travel problems associated with winter weather.
The safety and comfort of attendees is important to the organizers of the Glastonbury Occult Conference. Their affection and appreciation comes through in official statements posted on their Facebook page.
“Some of you came from as far away as Canada and the US, some from northern Europe, Switzerland, from all over the UK, Ireland, and from our little vale of Avalon. So very touched by your support. Next year will be even better, and we have listened, are are still listening, to your feedback and suggestions – so keep them coming. Liz, Sally, Trevor and James wish you all the best until next year. Keep checking back here for news and updates as we put it together. For now – Hail and Farewell.”
For those looking for information about the conference, the organizing committee maintains a website in addition to their Facebook page. Updates will be posted as events warrant.
Correction: TWH mistakenly listed Nikki Wyrd as the head of the British Isles Section of the Illuminates of Thanateros. Soror Brigantia is actually who is head of the British Isles Section of the Illuminates of Thanateros.