The Pagan studies conference

I had the most incredible weekend. It got off to a bad start on Friday with the job interview from hell. The person interviewing me acted like it was the last place he wanted to be and barely paid attention. The temp company that sent me had said it was a 6 month job and he said it was 2 months and to top it off there was an evangelical missionary meeting with employees in the lobby and they were very actively participating with him. Talk about a hostile work environment for a pagan! It was very scary. I’ve been through that before and it’s no fun.

But it got better from there, we had our coven birthday dinner and that was lovely and fun and felt wonderful to be with my sisters. It’s hard to believe it’s out 26th birthday. 28 years if you count when we started studying together.

Saturday and Sunday I spent out at Claremont Graduate School Pagan Studies Conference. Had so much fun and gathered a ton of information and things to think about.

Connected with a lot of old friends and met a lot of new folks. Also Jeffrey put on one of the best public rituals I’ve ever been honoured to take part in. Perfectly balanced which is very hard to do with folks with as many traditions as people attending. Just perfect!

It was great to have Z Budapest and Hyperion for keynote speakers. They balanced each other nicely and gave a lot of food for thought.

One of the most emotional presentation for me was Drs Wendy Griffin and Marie Cartier’s papers on Lesbian Land. Brought a lot of memories of the West Coast Women’s Music Festival back. I hope they keep expanding on the topic.

Jeffrey Albaugh’s and Alfred Surenyan’s papers were great also. Damn they were all good.

The only thing that infuriated me was the presentation Sabina put on. She doesn’t believe in Family Tradition pagans and thinks it’s just said to provide legitimacy. Uh, No, sorry. I was trained by my grandmother and the whole family knew that it was happening at the time. I also know 2 other women trained by their Scottish grandmothers and they learned a lot of the same things I did. No, it wasn’t formal craft at least not for me. It seemed to be more related to Druidry. I learned how to see the Fae, I learned how to talk to trees and animals as if they were thinking and participating. I learned how to find places of energy and the spirits of place here in Southern California, I learned divination, some ways I’ve never seen anywhere else. I learned magic and the chants to make a spell work and I learned our family’s history and genealogy. I learned that I needed to be creative to be a whole person. Whether it was drawing or painting or making special jewelry or learning to design embroidery patterns and then making them. I learned to bake the family recipes and to use my hands to work dough instead of reaching for the mixer. Unless I had to do it. I also learned that science was a way of answering questions as much as folklore was. That science was a kind of magic too. I learned that having second sight was normal and not the be feared. If that isn’t family tradition training I don’t know what is. I know it wasn’t probably pure tradition passed down exactly the same. My grandmother was always adding to her knowledge and said you never should stop learning and growing.

This wasn’t taught by some one who was uneducated either. Grandma got her college degree in 1910 in what is now UCLA, before women could vote. She went to see the Alaskan Gold Rush in 1906 with a friend, she was 16. She climbed the local mountains. She was also a silversmith, a leather worker and anything else she deemed interesting. She was taking Japanese Cooking lessons when she had her stroke and then it made her so angry she willed her own death. The doctors couldn’t figure out how she died so quickly. I saw the angry in her eyes and understood.

I have to say there were no deities and no initiation and no ethics taught other than to treat other people as I wanted to be treated unless they wronged me. She taught me to respect all people and then every one was equal except for her two blind spots, “the stupid rounded-headed Irish” and anyone related to Robert the Bruce, who killed one of our ancestors in church by stabbing the Red Comyn in the back. Anyway when people say there are no family traditions it makes me a bit crazy.

The conference was on Pagan Identity and all the different things it could mean. And it covered a really broad spectrum. Very cool! Can’t wait to see next year’s theme.

I was on the authors panel at the end with Barbara Ardinger and Gayle Brandeis and we all have very different genres and styles. Because there had been a little heated moment with Z and 2 straight male presenters it had gotten a little uncomfortable energetically and I was up first, I decided to start with a small ritual and it was my flame shift so I lit my candle and sang out Brighid chant and had everyone concentrate on any prayer they wanted to put energy to and read the Brighid’s flame story I wrote. Then I read the first littlest Druid story and I was done. Very fun but I get terrible stage fright even with a friendly audience. Still glad I did it and Alfred asked me to be one of the authors for Pagan Pride and I sold and signed some books. I think we had druids from every tradtion possible and some had never heard of the Druid Clan of Dana that is part of FOI. All good and a great weekend with lots of hugs and good energy and I really needed it. It was amazing to be in such a group of well educated and well rounded pagans that were eager to interact and play.

2 thoughts on “The Pagan studies conference

  1. 🙂 Sounds awesome! I’m glad you had a great time 🙂

    Someone told me once that to “count” (whatever that means!) as a family trad it had to have gone through a certain amount of generations. But I think what you learned all sounds pretty spiritual and was done in a family setting so why couldn’t it count?

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  2. There are a lot of people that don’t believe that there are family traditions. It was one of the first things I was ever told when I entered the Craft. I know for a number of years I stopped telling anyone because people thought I was lying. I shut up until I met others who were and could prove it too

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