This weekend I had the pleasure of attending and speaking at PaganCon 2015 in Preston, Lancs. The Shared Earth team of organisers were fantastic and accommodating, and I was very pleased to see old friends from my time up North, and make so many new ones.
My lecture was Changing the Past by Listening to the Future, which I'll be taking out of circulation for a little while - but fear not! Damh the Bard has recorded the talk, and will be including it on a future edition* of DruidCast, the OBOD Podcast. The slides were all explained, but there is a video I included which you can find here, Imagining the Tenth Dimension.
I saw some excellent presentations, from Urban Fae from Tara Sanchez, to a moving and eye-opening presentation on Death and its culture in the West from Kristoffer Hughes. I was also busy all day reading tarot, which was great, and catching up with OTO chums.
This was my first event in the wider Pagan/Occult community since last year, outside of my own events, and it was an absolute joy. The atmosphere was great, the family element was wonderful, and I especially enjoyed being back in the North at the bar (change from a tenner on a round?!) I also witnessed two separate feats of group magick, which I'd like to detail for posterity.
First off, when you're casually buying high quality chewing frankincense and an OBOD luminary comes out to lead a Thing, you can be sure that Brother Two Steps Forwards here will be daft enough to stand right next to him if there's a gap. This was nearly a mistake. Damh led us in the Druid's Prayer, three Arwens, and then a Hummingbird. My natural preference for personal space was thrown out of the window as we spiralled in together to form a great humming mass of bodies, thronging the air with intent, and the electric charge was impossible to ignore. It was a wonderful ritual, and when our voices raised into the sky there was a physical shift as the power was directed by Damh to our most worthy cause.
Later on, Cernunnos Rising took to the stage, followed by Damh to close the evening. I have to say, watching Damh casually flick between seven or more different stringed instruments would have been impressive in and of itself, without the way his words weaved a web of wonder across the assembled witches, druids, occultists, and shamans of the audience. I can genuinely say that the set was moving on a very deep level, and the sense of community was a joy to be a part of.
As I sat at the back, drinking in the atmosphere and singing along (beautifully of course, especially considering the whisky), I was very struck by how important the community is, and how beautiful it can be when we come together. With weekly spats breaking out on Facebook or the Blogosphere over this or that, making time to be in the same physical space as each other is not just a nice thing to do, but the lifeblood of the movement.
So, you will be very pleased to hear that Damh has kindly agreed to modify his appearance at the Occult Conference 2016! We had a great discussion over lunch, and decided that we should have our cake, and eat it too. But enough about the lunch - Damh will be having an extended slot that includes performances of his repertoire, interspersed with his thoughts on the modern Druid movement, which I have no doubt will weave a spell over our guests as beautifully as on Saturday.
Tickets are available now, and I hope to see you there. There is magick in numbers. A huge thanks to the Shared Earth team for bringing together a wonderful crowd in Preston, and I'm looking forward to heading back next year.
* The original version of this blog post stated that my lecture would appear on the next edition of DruidCast, Damh has kindly pointed out that the next episode will be a celebration of its 100th edition, so the recording will appear in the coming months subject to quality and editing.