Conference, Magic, Occult Conference, Orphic Hymns, Welsh Magic, Welsh Mythology, Welsh pagan, Welsh Witch, Witch
It is often said that paganism is the religion with homework, and occultists (like reconstructionists) take this to the next level. We are the people of the library!
I love a good conference, and the Welsh occult conference is excellent. Organised and hosted by Sian Sibley and the DragonOak coven, there are always a wide range of speakers and topics, so there’s something for everyone. This May we gathered in Welshpool and topics ranged from Welsh folk magic to the issues of studying non-materialist societies in anthropology to how pagans can walk our talk better.
I loved all of it and took copious notes, but highlights for me have got to be the marvellous Mhara Starling outlining Welsh influences on modern pagan witchcraft – a topic dear to my heart! It was lovely to hear Gwyn Ap Nudd, Ceridwen, Arhianrhod and Rhiannon spoken about alongside the Egyptian, Greek, and Italian threads at the conference… and how present they’ve been (in name at least) in the history of Wicca, neo-paganism, and traditional witchcraft. The gods find a way.
Sara Mastros was inspirational, which is a good sign when someone is discussing the Orphic mysteries.
And special mention to Jack Hunter for bringing in phenomenology – which was the underlying approach in my PhD.
I have an entire notebook full of notes, as usual, because it all feeds into magical practice, even when something seems unrelated at first glance. Like questions of whether the spelling matters when, as Andrew points out, one version of the charm using the magical word “SATOR” spelled is “SAFOR” – I wonder, did the mis-spelled charm work? In which case, is it intention, Will, or vibration that makes a difference in spellcrafting? Janis Fry’s talk on Yew trees reminded me of many lovely trips to hang out in the branches of these ancient beings, hearing their time-bending music. Robert Plimer is always fun to listen to, his excitement about the parallels between ancient and modern techniques is palpable, and Sian called us to task on walking our talk as pagans who claim to honour the earth, both inspiring questions of how to improve my magical practice. Finally, Cristina’s piece on Italian folklore, of course, made me think of faeries and the similarities and differences across cultures in dealings with the spirit realm… though as Jack Hunter said: how do we know which experiences are real?
To which I have only one question: well, first we must define “real”.
And that’s a key takeaway from this event for me, we are always grappling with how to practice our magic in a world which denies magic. In a world that expects conformity, a life that steps beyond the lines is always going to be standing in the in-between. We are of the earth, but how do we walk of this earth but not in the world that denies the reality of our lives?
It’s as simple as taking a breath, slipping between, caring for the land and the spirits, and remembering that the magic is here, in the material, just a blink away.
I’m writing something more in depth for the Star Club blog which can be found here – and which is going out to my mailing list now. Join that here if you so desire.
The next Welsh Occult Conference will be in Cardiff on the 8th October – get your tickets here.
And if you want to learn to speak with enchanted voice, you can join me this Sunday 21st May for my class Words of Love and Blessing, for details: