Moonlight Phoenix has risen

music, feminism, spirituality, words and more

Pagan Conference 2014- My Experience

on September 3, 2014

Last weekend I went for the first time to the Pagan Conference, an event organised by the Pagan Federation who support all people who identify as Pagan and promotes the pagan lifestyle choice as the positive one it actually is. The theme of the event this year was ‘Magical Pathways’

The event took place in Leytonstone Business school in London and it was just over £10 to buy a ticket in advance and it was a bit more on the door if you got one on the day. It was a very simple journey as I only had to get a train to London, then on the Central line to Leystonstone. From the tube station it was about a 10-15 minute walk, so not too complicated. The only downside was I had to get up early in the morning as I wanted to get there for 10am, so no Saturday lay in for me!

I was a little disappointed when I first walked in, as the first thing you saw was the ‘market’ area and I had been hoping to buy some goodies, but there wasn’t really many stalls at all, and I looked at them while I was waiting for the event to officially start but couldn’t find anything at all that made me want to buy it. But I tried to reserve my judgement as I hadn’t been before and I hadn’t been to any talks yet!

The first thing I saw in the main hall was the Opening Ritual which was performed by The Kith of Yggdrasil a Heathen faith organisation, which was interesting as it was unlike most rituals I’ve seen. It did involve calling corners and certain Gods in. They made offerings and sang Runic chants.

The first talk I went to was called ‘Psychogeography: Pathways into a Visionary City’ which was led by Lucya Starza and was really interesting! I hadn’t heard of Psychogeography before but basically it’s all about investigating the atmosphere of urban areas and the effects on people. Someone who does this, goes out walking without a specific end point in mind and basically explores! It can be used for social change and even creativity as it can really provide inspiration as Lucya demonstrated beautifully by sharing some of her creative work which was inspired by her own walks, both prose and some photography. This sounded like something really worth exploring so I am planning to research a bit more into it soon and give it a go! One suggestion she had was to put a glass on a map with your home in the middle, then you go and explore the circle area around it.

The second talk was probably my favourite of the day ‘Gender and Sexuality in contemporary paganism’ by Yvonne Aburrow. Yvonne spoke about the history of paganism and how there has always been gay and lesbian practitioners. She then spoke about some of the issues she has come across as a bisexual person in paganism. I have to say as a heterosexual cis woman, I had never thought of some of these things before so it gave me a whole new perspective to think about when it comes to my own practices as I like to think of myself as an ally to ALL sexualities and genders. She spoke about a gay couple attending a ritual where they weren’t allowed to dance together as it had to by boy, girl, boy girl. She also spoke about how we tend to think much in terms of ‘male- strong, fire etc etc’ and ‘female light, water, etc etc.. So yes plenty to think about and a great talk.

There was time for a lunchbreak so I bought some white sage to bring home for Miguel and then ate my lunch outside in the garden. There was a canteen where there was a bar, but also teas and coffees, and you could get crisps and sandwiches but nothing for vegans as far as I could see so I was glad I had bought my own packed lunch as I was kind of expecting it.

The next workshop I had been hoping to attend was about the Goddess Elen of the ways but the person running it had to go to hospital so instead we had the president of the Pagan federation Mike Stygal do a talk about Paganism and the Future, which turned out to be really interesting and quite inspiring. He spoke about how some teachers have been asking wanting to know about paganism so it can be mentioned in Religious Education lessons, which is something I think would be fantastic and I feel quite strongly about, as it’s as valid a religion as any, and would help us to be seen in a better light. he spoke about the kind of things the Pagan federation do to try and get pagan to be associated in a positive way, one project they are doing in London at the moment is collecting socks for the homeless(as it’s the most requested item) and at the event they had items for ‘pay what you like’ to help raise funds for this cause. It was about how we as a community have a social responsibility to how people perceive us. He said how we can get along with other religions to get this positive profile up, for instance he teaches R.E in a Church of England School and another attendee said he was open about his paganism and also identified as a Quaker who fully accepted this. Again, I really enjoyed this talk.

After another break I went to a talk by David Benton called ‘Kabbalah’s Tree of Life’ unfortunately by this point I was feeling really tired and nearly falling asleep as I was also finding his talk very difficult to follow, so I don’t think I am ready to learn about Kabbalah just yet!

The final talk I went to was on Egyptian Magic and was done by Jim Bennett I could follow this talk more but as I was tired, I wasn’t digesting very well. We ended by doing a brief meditation from the book I’ve linked to in his name. It was nice to actually do something than listen!

After that I stayed to see if I won anything in the raffle (I didn’t) and then I was so tired I didn’t manage to stay for the closing ritual or the bands. I was in by 9pm.
An all round interesting and thought provoking day. Not so good things- lack of stalls, no vegan food. good stuff- very interesting, varied talks. Not very expensive. very welcoming and friendly.

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