Many Gods West 2015

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A while back I learned about Many Gods West, a polytheistic religious conference taking place in Olympia, WA in the summer of 2015. I found the goal of this conference quite exciting; a whole weekend of polytheistic matters? Oh, yes please.

I sat and thought for several weeks about whether or not I’d submit a proposal to present. Traveling is complicated; it’s expensive, I have two jobs to juggle time away from, I never know how my health is going to be, etc. etc. On the other hand, I have a couple presentation ideas that aren’t a great fit for PCon or any of the other venues I’ve taught in.I felt like these ideas would be a good fit for Many Gods West but I didn’t submit any proposals.

But here I am more than a month later still thinking about submitting a proposal. After all, sending my ideas is no guarantee of admittance so I’ve really got nothing to lose. All the same, I really want to work on this subject. I want to develop some of these ideas into greater clarity. I also would love to travel to Washington. I have friends in the area, I’ve never been, and it’s Washington.

So long story short, I submitted two proposals this morning. One is for the session I’ll be doing at PCon 2015; it’s about getting into some of the mechanics of devotional ritual and it’s some work I’m pretty pleased with. It’s got some broad appeal, so that’s good. The other is a little more narrow in focus.  I want to talk about why devotional practice matters to polytheists and what we, as a community and broader polytheistic culture, can actually gain from this work. I also want to trouble the idea that devotional practice has to achieve something concrete and measurable in order to be valuable. I’d like this to be an exploration of the subject, a heuristic session if you will, but I have some clear points I’d like to highlight.

Anyway, here’s hoping. I’ll let you know how things develop on this front. And perhaps if it doesn’t work out to present this year, I’ll have the chance to try again next year. 🙂

Almost Ready for PCon in SLC

Well, I’m down to the last couple days before my local presentation of my PantheaCon session. I started doing this in anticipation of my 2014 session and spoke to a small, four-person audience at a nearby branch of the public library. It was a very productive experience and I got some valuable feedback from it. Sharing this session with my local community gives me practice with the material as well as an opportunity to identify problem spots. And naturally, I like being able to give back something to the people who have supported me in my various research efforts; it’s nice to bring just a little taste of PCon to the SLC area.

I’ve spent part of this year studying with a local OTO body because I wanted to broaden my knowledge of the Gnostic Mass in particular. This journey has been quite enriching and I feel like I’ve gained some valuable information in this short time. Precisely how long I’ll continue to study with them I’m not sure. For a hot minute I considered joining the group but I’m not prepared to jump into anything. If nothing else, I feel positively about continuing my association with them as a non-initiate.

My presentation will take place Friday night at a local metaphysics shop and with any luck I’ll have a pretty OK turnout. The whole event is scheduled for two hours, so I’ve planned 90 minutes for the presentation and the rest of the time for Q & A. I’m close to being prepared; I need to finish revising my notes, print them out, and then do some practicing but the bulk of the work is done. Of course, I’ve got my day job and my writing job to take care of in the meantime…

At any rate, here’s the flyer I made to help promote the event locally. I’ll change it up a bit for February. I’ll let you know how the class goes once I’m on the other side of it. Plus, I might have some news about another conference I’d like to present at but let me get this off my plate before I talk about the next big project I want to launch myself into.

a thousand ways flyer 2015

Presenting at PantheaCon 2015!!

Good news, everyone! I’m very happy to announce that my programming submission for PantheaCon 2015 was accepted. I’ll be presenting at PCon for the second time next February! This is a very exciting opportunity for me for lots of reasons and I hope that if you’re at the convention that you will consider coming to my session on Sunday at 3:30.

My session is called A Thousand Ways: Exploring Devotional Ritual. It’s a revision of the material I presented last year. With any luck I will have made the material much more approachable than it was last year. Though I still feel very positively about the material I prepared I think I tried to pack too much information into the time available and left some people in the dust because of it. My aim this year is to keep the material engaging for experienced practitioners without entirely alienating newcomers to the path.

As usual, I will be taking a pragmatic approach. I like empowering people with information that can be applied in direct and practical ways. Though the theoretical underpinnings of ritual, devotion, and spirituality are important and certainly interesting to talk about, the practitioner will encounter a great deal of this information on their own simply by putting in the time. Besides, the greater Pagan community is generally more practice-oriented than theory oriented and ritual is very much about the “doing”.

At any rate, I’m very happy to be returning to a convention at which I had a very positive experience. I don’t get to travel as frequently as I’d like to and being away from home in an unfamiliar environment for several days was a major sacrifice. It was worth the effort and I’m more confident about my attendance this year. (That said, I’m dealing with all kinds of emotional reactions to the news that I am, in fact, presenting again! So much self-doubt, you guys!) I love to teach and the opportunity to share in-depth information with such a diverse group of participants is very special to me. I’m very grateful to everyone who has supported my work.

If you’re not going to be at PCon and if you just happen to be near the Salt Lake City area, I’ll be presenting a trial run of the new session sometime in December or January (time/place still to be determined). The workshop will be offered in an open, public space though a small entrance fee may be charged by the site (not by me). I’ll post those details once they’re worked out.

I hate that I have to make this post.

By popular definition, an earth religion holds as inherently sacred and intrinsically valuable all manifest creation on this planet. In the imagination of earth religionists this typically includes trees, rocks, fluffy animals, bugs, water, wildfires, and all the rest. All this rest includes, yes, human beings (we are animals, after all; we have our own scientific name and everything). Human being is a category that includes everyone. If one segregates this category into subgroups that dilute, minimize, or otherwise alter or put conditions upon the inherent and intrinsic properties that are a central part of earth religion belief, such a one is not – by definition – an earth religionist. Or, if they insist that they are, they are not a very good one.

If your particular brand of earth religion involves the honoring of personalities and processes that grant life, liberty, happiness, and agency to trees, rocks, fluffy animals, bugs, water, wildfires, and all the rest then any conditions placed upon the expression of these personalities and processes within the bodies and lives of human beings is not – by definition – honoring of those personalities and processes. If, if you insist that it is, it is not a very good way of doing so.

In either case you may continue to willfully, consciously, and with the knowledge that we’re all laughing at you continue to Do It Wrong. You may also choose to make a change.

New Book: Further Along the Heartroad

Further Along the Heartroad! It’s a thing! Or it will be – eventually.

I’ve talked for a year or so about a follow-up to Walking the Heartroad and in all honesty, this new book has been in the works for quite a bit longer than that. For better or worse this second volume is not going to be finished quickly. Most of this has to do with the fact that I do actually write for a living which means that all my energy is given over to writing copy for drain cleaning products and not to writing books for you guys. Don’t feel sad, though; having a professional writing job has made me a much better writer and I feel reasonably confident that Further Along will be a much stronger book than the first volume. It will also be quite a bit longer, a little broader in scope (not addressing spirit workers specifically), and a lot more detailed.

Here’s the sneaky peek you’ve all been waiting seven years for. It’s just a portion because, well, I want to protect my work and I don’t want to give away all the secrets right away (plus certain aspects of the outline might change). I also included a 20-page excerpt of material from this book in the Kindle edition of Heartroad and I’ll probably share other previews as the project progresses; watch this space.

I need to thank absolutely everyone who has supported and who continues to support this very humble work of mine. Articulating the self-aware emergence of a devotional current within paganism and polytheism has been a greater adventure than I ever might have expected to take part in.

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