Pagan Alliance conference update
It was a typical grey and chilly day in San Francisco yesterday, Saturday, September 24th, for the Pagan Alliance’s First Annual Conference on Earth-Based, Nature Centered & Indigenous Faiths – Gender & Earth-Based Spiritualities, which, coupled with typical San Francisco parking issues may have caused the slight delay in starting. However, it can only be termed a success in production, topic, and attendance. The gravitas of the speakers called to discuss the issues of Gender and Earth Based Spirituality were certainly commensurate with the seriousness of the issue in our community. The tone of the occasion was added to by the venue. The event was held in the Unitarian Universal Center of San Francisco. Built of Stone in 1889, and added to in later years, using concrete construction attuned to the original sanctuary, its open and spiritual environment and aura of the sacred lent itself well to the topics and work at hand. Well done ladies and gentlemen, and I must say it was a very pleasant change to get off the grass and away from the porta-potties. It really is more than time that we approach our discussions with this level of serious professionalism.
Earlybird cost of this one day event was $40 for both morning and afternoon sessions not including lunch or the after event mixer. For a conference of this caliber, these were reasonable rates indeed though I half expected that such costs would be prohibitive. I am told, however, that there were nintety-nine pre-registrations and ten walk-ins, which is ample proof that I was wrong. A lovely program, bound and detailed, awaited the registrant complete with full, half, and quarter page ads to support its production; yet more proof of the level of skill that this young group has attained.
Several tables of information on other organizations were available to waiting attendees in some cases with calendars of events. These included Come As You Are (CAYA) Coven, The Circle of Dionysos, Earth Medicine Alliance, the holy order of the epicene ( lower case their preference), Fellowship of the Sprial Path, and Solar Cross Temple .
The morning began with a smudging ritual and opening invocation followed by opening remarks from joy wolfwomyn (lower case at her preference). Her remarks were succinct and I am delighted that she has developed into such a fine public speaker within the community.
Her welcome was immediately followed by the Key note speaker, Vicky Noble, “a feminist shamanic healer, author, scholar and wisdom teacher. Born in 1947 and raised in Iowa, she awakened to the Goddess and Women’s Spirituality on her arrival in Berkeley, Californiain 1976. Through a “shamanic healing crisis”, she opened psychically to the healing, art, yoga, and divination processes that led to the creation of the Motherpeace Tarot . Ms Noble spoke to two primary points: Increased consciousness, and
gender diversity in humanity. She focused on intersex births and the medical profession’s intervention both phyical and social, for the newborn. She, in turn was followed by other equally qualified and eloquent speakers in order:
Judy Grahn and Dianne Jenett, Polytheism and Gender Bonding
Daniel Foor, Embracing Ancestral Support
MamaKoatl, Beyond Belief, Reconnecting with Pachamana’s Heart
Sarah Astarte, Ph.D, Body Image: Healing, Wholeness and Gender
Dr. Sarah Whedon, It’s a Girl: Gender and Pagan Birthing
joi wolfwomyn, 3rd Genders in History
Dr. Hayden Reynolds, Messages of the Sacred Androgyne
Jeanne Eichenbaum, Beyond the Visible: Transgender Therapist’s Musing
Diana Paxson, Unmanly Men, Manly Women: Gender Roles in Viking Magic
Max Dashu, Interpreting Gender in the Cultural Record
Dr. Charlie Glickman, The Mystery and the Masculine
Derik Crowan, Social Constructionist’s Vision of Sacre Androgyne
Chandra Alexandre, Blood Mysteries: Goddess and Women in Tantra
Veronica Monet, Doorway to the Divine
Michael Gorman, Walker Between Worlds, a Heritage Reborn
Lance Moore, Integrity and the Claiming of Power
Rev. Teri Ciacchi and Tai Quyn Kulystin, Embodying the Sacred Whore
T. Thorn Coyle, Reunion of Love: Genderqueer Theology
Dr. Hayden Reynolds and Christine Brooks, Beyond a Gender Binary
Jason Mankey, The Horned God
Lady Yeshe Rabbit, Ritual of Radical Forgiveness
Dr. Judy Schavrien, Return of the Earth Goddesses: 5th Century Athens and Todayhs and the medical profession’s intervention both phyical and social, for the newborn.
Lady Yeshe Rabbit and CAYA Clergy, Presented A Ritual of Forgiveness and CAYA coven asked for Radical Forgiveness for any missteps that they may have made and offered forgiveness to thoese who have acted and spoken against them. This ritual is in direct response to misunderstandings that arose around actions last February at Pantheacon inSan Jose.
Now with such an impressive list of speakers and subjects before you don’t you just wish that they would take this show on the road? In the opinion Michele Mueller, doctoral student at the Graduate Theological Seminary of Berkeley, the audience was both appreciative of the quality of spokespersons and the relivance of their topics and that all were very engaged in the conference process.
Lunch, and a mixer after the event, were catered by Molto Benne of San Francisco. The conference hosts made sure to use funds collected to increase the quality of the event including food and drink right down to the pomegranate mimosas. Music was available throughout lunch and at the mixer after the presentations where folks could come together for some chat time with the presenters, and a silent auction.
No doubt the real key to this success was the active and continued pursuance of sponsorship and advertising. Sponsors this year included:Circle of Dionysos,SolarCrossTemple, The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, Earth Medicine Alliance, and CAYA Coven. Vendors included, Pajo’s Soaps, Art of Max Dashu, Faerie Fotos/Faerie Sexy Apparel, Willowroot Wands, Stone City Sanctuary , Beansidhe Arts.
Congratulations on a job well done! We look forward to next year with great anticipation.View more photos of event
Rachael Watcher with Greg Harder for Bay Area PNC