As those of you who follow me on Facebook, twitter or my new instagram account know I spent this past weekend at a pagan convention in Dearborn Michigan called ConVocation. This is THE pagan con for the Midwest US and a very few of us in southwestern Ontario. For three days I attended classes, workshops and lectures, participated in rituals, danced myself into immobility, met Ellen Dugan, sat next to Selena Fox, received healing waters from the grave of Dr. John and totally changed my perspective on my magical practice and life all while having a hysterically good time.
It was A-MA-ZING.
Y’all are going to get to hear me geek over all of the stuff I learned and all of the books I got autographed in a big long podcast episode this week, but for now I’m going to share a few of my favourite things (yes I just sang that) from this, my very first pagan convention.
Top 3 Favourite Classes/Lectures
3. The Witch, The Healer, and the Door: Journey into Your Personal Akashic Records by Jacki Smith
– I’m very new to the akashic records and to past lives, but I am a big fan of Jacki Smith and her company Coventry Creations. I got her book on the subject for Christmas and have been trying to get into it but struggling to get it. After this class not only do I get it, but I’m in love with it and even titanic’d it up and sketched my record keeping room that she helped me see. WILD. Now I’m going to be re-starting the book with fresh eyes and even have a little re-arranging project to do in there. Serious change in perspective.
2. The Writer’s Craft by Ellen Dugan and Michelle Belanger
– These two are AMAZING presenters and fucking hilarious. This was the second lecture of theirs that I attended and it really inspired me. I’ve only reviewed one of Ellen Dugan’s books on the blog so far, but I am a huge fan of her work. Honestly, it’s all fantastic. Every single thing. Even Herb Magic for Beginners will blow your mind and entertain the hell out of you. So meeting Ellen was a real treat, but I think the best thing about this lecture is the complete lack of bullshit. Not once did either of them say that writing a book is easy and a great way to get rich – they said the exact opposite. This was not a lecture for people looking to exploit the pagan community with some fluff piece, they emphasized that it is hard work but still made it sound totally worth it. They gave great tips for where to send your manuscript, how much tings like formatters and designers cost, how much publishing has changed, and how to market yourself. Does this sound spiritually fulfilling? Maybe not. But to someone like me who has dreamed of writing a book since I followed my cat around and recorded his actions in a tiny notebook before I even knew letters (my poor mother had to pretend to enjoy reading my scribbles I’m sure.) and just never thought this was within my reach it was life changing. I’m not going to lie, I’ve already started on a book. (Please don’t ever ask for an update.)
1. Rebirth: Pagan Leadership, Ethics, and Community by Shauna Aura Knight and Taylor Ellwood
-Windsor has a serious sickness in it’s pagan community. We have splintering, predatory leaders, and a totally toxic store/class space and they’re all infecting the rest of the community. The general course of action has been, of course, no action at all. That’s not how I roll and I need help. I’d heard Shauna speak on Pagan Activism on the Down at The Crossroads podcast with Chris Orapello and she was intelligent, compassionate and totally got shit done. I knew she’d help and she did. Her and Taylor are both leaders in their own ways and shared those experiences while also asking us for hours. We all asked questions, we all put in input. I even had a bit of an Epiphany thanks to a very insightful point brought up by this wonderful girl named Rachel – it wasn’t even directed at me it just struck such a strong cord. The way I teach and practice and share will be changing for the better because of her and the rest of this discussion group. I feel empowered, confident and hopeful for the future of my community. This is huge. That’s why this one was my favourite. I think this is an extremely important discussing and should be available or present at every pagan gathering. I think more pagans should,d have this discussion. I think more pagans should have a place to ask these questions.
Also, the people in this LEADERSHIP discussion were overwhelmingly female. There was a serious majority and that made me so proud. I love being part of a spiritual community that has such strong emphasis on female empowerment.
Favourite Vendor – Violet Flame Gifts
I love everything about these vendors from Ohio. The first thing I noticed was their gorgeous purple packaging and great display – then I noticed their prices. The same $7 railroad spike being sold by other vendors was only $1.50 from VFG. Mugwort $1.50, sandalwood $2.50, porcupine quills $1.25. These prices are amazing. Their soaps and perfumes were just as decently priced and you can ask them questions about Nythjikng – like, how would you use a porcupine quill?- and any of the staff can give you a great answer – CANDLE CARVING! How cool?!- with a smile on their face. The first day I forgot to take my railroad spike with me and they held on it, responded to my Facebook messaging asking about it, remembered the friend I had been with who passed it on and then told me they’d be more than willing to ship to canada. The next day I bought a 221 mL bottle of Murray & Lanman Florida Water that goes for 17-20 Canadian dollars for $5 USD. Why are there prices so good? Simply because the owner was sick of seeing people get ripped off. She wants people to be able to buy good quality magical items at a price anyone can afford any time they need them. That is a business I want to support forever.
Favourite Presenter – Ellen Dugan
I mean, duh. Not only is she one of my faves but she was everything I imagined she’d be and twice as funny. The best thing about her books is how much of her personality comes through – and that’s true of both her non-fiction and her new romantic fiction. This is because Ellen has a lot of personality and it’s FABULOUS. This woman is NOT a bullshitter, though I’m sure she could be if she wanted to, and she knows her stuff. She is a real-ass witch who doesn’t sugar coat anything and I respect that straight to the centre of the earth.
Honourable Mention – Selena Fox
My god. I didn’t have the guts to talk to this mystical unicorn of a woman but I danced right next to her during Personal Jesus and I’ll forever pretend she knew I was there. Let me clarify- that’s entirely me being starstruck and not a reflection of her at all. As far as I can tell Selena Fox is the sweetest, warmest, most wonderful woman in the world. Every time she walked into a room I instantly felt warm and would find myself smiling. Not talking to her out of shyness and fear was a real treat that I will cherish forever.
Favourite Meal at The Hotel Restaurant – The Taco Buffet
Do I need to explain this? Other than cats, tacos are the reason I get out bed every morning.
Favourite Ritual – Honouring Legendary New Orleans Voodoo Spirit, Doctor John Montenet by Witchdoctor Utu and The Niagara Voodoo Shrine
This was insanely cool. Voodoo is something I’ve always found interesting and wanted to learn more about. I follow Utu’s updates about the voodoo shrine here in Ontario on Facebook and I always look for ways to learn from real practitioners. I was a bit too shy to participate really heavily in the ritual but what I saw was dancing, drumming, chanting and people feeling something so obviously REAL. I felt it too. It was amazing. Utu would explain what he was doing, what’s was on the altar, what kind if rhythm they’d play for this next bit and talked about his home temple in New Orleans. Despite being white he never once whitewashed voodoo or any of the people and spirits he talked about. He deferred to and honoured people of colour at every turn. It was amazing. He had healing water from the place Doctor John is buried and was offering it to people and I asked him to put some of my chin where I’ve been having skin issues (burned my beautiful beautiful face with not so beautiful hair dye, like a fool) and legit I woke up today and its a LOT better. I’m bout to go to New Orleans and rub my damn face in the dirt and beg for help. I’m really grateful to the spirit of Doctor John for that. What a great experience.
Favourite Con Injury – TIE: Bruised Butt Cheek and Swollen Right Knee
I sat in on so many classes my left ass cheek has a slight purple twinge and my right knee is about twice it’s normal size because i danced myself right up to the edge of my damn grave at the masquerade ball. Worth it.
My life is so cool haha.
Like I said, there’s a nice big podcast about the whole weekend coming this week and definitely check out my posts to instagram and facebook from the convention. In the mean time, have a fantastic new moon, everyone!