I think Chris Penczak put it best – we all eventually hit the Wiccan Wall. Although there are a ton of resources for beginners, when it comes to intermediate to advanced-level Pagan studies, the river of knowledge begins to resemble a stream, sometimes slowing to the barest trickle of knowledge. How many books on the Wheel of the Year can you read without getting bored? How many new Tarot spreads can you try before you begin to think to yourself ‘there must be something more than this?’ I’m as prone to the Wall as any of us. I’ve been on this Path for seventeen years now and I find it harder and harder to find new concepts to illuminate my spirituality, new perspectives to inhabit, new ways to find depth and connection.
As a result of that, I am beyond grateful for the Sacred Space Conference. Specifically aimed at intermediate to advanced practitioners, Sacred Space draws together a truly gifted group of presenters. They come from an impressively varied background–we have established authors who are bravely breaking new ground, ritual practitioners from every path imaginable (Reconstructionist, Shamanic, British Traditionalist, Chaos Magick…you name it, it was probably there), and luminary Priests and Priestesses who have sought out new connections to Spirit and brought that knowledge back with them. The only downside to the conference is that I do not own a time turner! There were several times during Sacred Space when I wished to be in more than one place at one time. The bevvy of fascinating topics was almost overwhelming.
It was my first year at the conference, and I will definitely go back next year. Along with the wonderful offerings on the workshop and ritual front, the whole things runs smoothly. As a festival organizer, I have a deep respect and admiration for the people who can run such an undertaking so fluidly. Events ran on time in the locations they were scheduled for without disruption or confusion–I believe that alone constitutes some sort of Pagan miracle. One of the Board members mentioned in a workshop that the Powers That Be behind Sacred Space do not sit on any other boards for any other events–their sole focus is on this one. And it shows. I felt safe and comfortable at every turn. At any point when I did need to talk to a volunteer or ask a question, the staff were kind and quick to find me an answer. It was a joy to see a Pagan machine tick along so well.
I’ll give you some quick bullet-point takeaways from some of the workshops I attended:
- We need more and better resources for our Clergy. Clergy burnout is very high, and our Clergy feels under-prepared and under-supported.
- Always, always, always send magick with love. Any kind of magick. Your thoughts and emotions at the moment of sending flavor that energy. If it’s going to go out and then come back to you, you want it to come back with love.
- To your higher Will, your entire life is a Ritual. What kind of magick are you working?
- Correspondences (herbs, crystals, astrological timing) are like the octaves on a piano. When you strike one note, the notes above and below can ring out, giving over- and under-tones to the music. It creates a fuller, more beautiful sound. And, if one octave is out of your reach emotionally or conceptually, ‘striking’ a lower note of the same octave can begin to open that energy to you.
- Sacred Space (not the conference) begins within the Self. It is a place we must find within us first, and then step out from.
- The creation of Sacred Art echoes down the line. Every time you see it or interact with it, that is a Sacred act. It also heals. When we create from a perspective of Reverence, more than just one gate opens.
- In meditation, give the chatter-voice something to do. Rather than try to force it into quiet, make it responsible for the narrative or guide of the meditation.
- Everyone has an energy they are meant to impart. It is specific to us as individuals. One question to ask yourself to help determine yours is ‘What do I do, that I love to do, that I do well, that my community recognizes and appreciates me for?’ The answer is probably not your career, but it *is* closer to your true calling.
- When working with the Ancestors, you *will* come across some people you don’t like. Count on it. But instead of running screaming in the other direction, or burdening yourself down with guilt, commit to face squarely your ancestral inheritance. Heal its liabilities, revel in its assets, and leave a better legacy for those that follow. The ‘better’ begins with you.
- We have our own Mighty Dead. These ascended souls are many-layered and fall into many different categories, but they are available to us to help our growth.
- Since we are aware and choose to truly See, we have an obligation to counteract the discord around us. Magick is good for more than finding a lover or more money. Expand your thinking. What confluence of energies is chipping away at our society? And what can we, energetically, do to help?
- Culturally, we have the originators of our different Traditions. We then have the Maintainers–those who kept the traditions as well as they could, even during times of repression. We are the next phase of that journey–we are the Transformation. We are combining beliefs in new ways and breaking new ground in spirituality and culture. We must take care that all the ingredients we add to this soup are healthy for everyone.
These are just snippets–little pieces of a larger, deeper, more beautiful conversation. I like to look for overriding themes and arcs within a narrative. If I had to pick one from Sacred Space, it is ‘Deepen.’ The entire conference was geared toward helping you get to a deeper level of the Self, of your Spirituality, of your studies. At a time when advancements in knowledge and technique can flow slowly and thin, going to Sacred Space was like plunging into a mountain lake.
Some of the concepts I came into contact with at Sacred Space have found immediate flower. My working partner and I stripped down and then rebuilt our traditional Ostara ritual to reflect that shift in perspective. Other ideas are still finding homes, and my reading list has doubled. I feel like the new-turned earth in my garden–ready to grow green as the light returns. And the hand that did the turning? That was Sacred Space, and the incredible group of people who came together to present it, the people who came together to learn from it, and the people who left on Sunday with eyes full of fire for the coming season.
Gratitude seems a poor word, so I’ll say this instead: It’s fucking amazeballs. You should go next year.