BRIGHTON, U.K. – Organizers of Witchfest International, the largest Pagan conference held in the UK, announced last Saturday that they were cancelling the 2018 event due to financial challenges. The announcement was made by Merlyn, one of the organizers, directly before headliner Professor Ronald Hutton presented at this year’s conference. Merlyn said an unexpected and sharp decrease in attendance was to blame for a lack of funds to finance the conference for 2018, but he added that plans were in the works for the conference to return in 2019. “Final numbers aren’t in yet, but we think our losses are in the thousands [of pounds],” said Merlyn. Witchfest International, run by The Children of Artemis, typically attracts around 3000 attendees and is held in the Brighton Centre in the seaside town of Brighton.
BRIGHTON — For people travelling to this year’s Witchfest in Brighton, there will be additional entertainment option: the premiere of the play Doreen: An English Witch. This new theatrical production is the brainchild of director Roman Withers and writer Gavin Caine of Normal People Productions. The Wild Hunt caught up with Caine and Withers to talk about the play, its impact, and the creative process that led to its birth. Withers explained how a meeting with the late John Belham Payne inspired the very latest celebration of Valiente’s life:
“We met John Belham Payne last November, as he was the Head of the Doreen Valiente Foundation, and knew Doreen, so I decided it would be really good to put a play on. We’re both in the craft ourselves and it seemed only fitting as Doreen lived in Brighton and spent many, many years here.”
The play Doreen: An English Witch is the second outing of Normal People Productions, an up and coming new theatre company.
It was announced last week that blues musician and activist JD Taylor has died. Taylor was known to the Bay Area Pagan community, performing at the Berkeley Pagan Festival, PantheaCon, and Elderflower. Although she wasn’t Pagan herself, Taylor was heavily involved in regional “women’s and LGBT activist communities.” As noted by the Bay Area Reporter, “some would remember Ms. Taylor as the small woman who was the subject of a photo showing her being beaten by a very large SFPD officer during the Castro Sweep police retaliation in the Castro on October 6, 1989.” Taylor was born in New Jersey in 1946, moving to San Francisco in 1975.
On Saturday, Nov 14, La Ligue Wiccane Ecletique, based in Paris, held a vigil and ritual for its city, country and for the many victims of Friday’s terrorist attack. The ritual was organized through the Facebook event service and was to be held within the homes of each of the participants, or “chez vous.” At exactly 9 p.m. participants were told to follow the prescribed ritual outline and recite a specially written prayer for peace. The results and other words of prayer are now posted on the site. The Wild Hunt is currently in touch with Ligue organizers in Paris and also has reached out to others affected by the recent worldwide terrorist attacks.