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Article ID: 8795
Age Group: Adult
Posted: November 14th. 2004
Between the Worlds: A Grand Magickal Congress
by Caroline Kenner
|The New Alexandrian Library Project|
UPDATE 11/26: The final numbers are in and $14, 679.00 was raised at Between the Worlds for the NAL!
Although final accounting is still going on, at this point Between the Worlds earned $7, 679.00 for the New Alexandrian Library, for a total of $58, 363.00 in hand at this time. The Assembly of the Sacred Wheel is committed to opening the library in 2010. To break ground, the Assembly needs to raise a total of $200, 000. The 33 acres of land (now valued at $275, 000) and the architectural plans have already been donated to the Library.
Broad community support of this project is crucial to Paganism's development as a spiritual and religious movement. Like The Witches' Voice, the New Alexandrian Library is a project that will benefit the Pagan community nationally.
My contributions to both the New Alexandrian Library and The Witches' Voice are part of my community service. Please join me in helping the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel build a lasting monument to magickal and esoteric learning.
Visit The New Alexandrian Library at http://www.sacredwheel.org/nal.html. Donations can be made through PayPal.
Warding the Turn of the Ages...
I love pentacles. I pay attention to pentacles. So when Ivo Dominguez, Jr. scheduled the Assembly's much anticipated Between the Worlds conferences based on three Grand Quintiles making three cosmic pentacles across the heavens right around Samhain, I eagerly signed up to attend.
Between the Worlds is an irregularly scheduled interfaith esoteric conference organized by the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, a multi-coven non-profit organization from the mid-Atlantic region. The conference benefits the New Alexandrian Library project, a magical and esoteric research library that will open its doors no later than 2010.
Between the Worlds is always scheduled in response to astrological alignments: the last one was held in 2000 and the next is in November of 2007. Two Grand Quintiles in one month plus a lunar eclipse is a once every 2000 years or so occurrence, much less taking into consideration the third Grand Quintile.
The quality and breadth of teaching at this conference was superior. There was a galaxy of the most inspiring, talented teachers from various Wiccan and Northern European Pagan traditions. Judy Harrow was there, from Proteus Coven. Selena Fox came all the way from Circle Sanctuary. Andras Corban Arthen, T. Thorn Coyle and Orion Foxwood taught Witchcraft and the Feri/Faerie/Fairy traditions. Skip Ellison of ADF taught folklore and the Celts. The celebrated writer Diana Paxson, accompanied by her oracular seidh priestess Laurel Mendes, taught Norse material. Nybor of Haven sold his beautiful artwork, and taught as well. Katrina Messenger brought Reclaiming tradition teaching to the conference. And of course the talented folk of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel taught a variety of classes.
But there were also many teachers from traditions that mingle with Pagans more rarely.
Shakmah Winddrum brought some of her large magical family. Shakmah is a charismatic presence, an elder who blends Eastern, Western and African elements into a unique practice. Her main organization in Philadelphia, the New Seed Sanctuary, sent a large delegation of initiates. And Aeptha, one of Shakmah's prominent students, came to teach with a circle of her initiates from Light Haven, in Charlotte, NC. Also from the African diaspora religions came Mambo Vye Zo, who brought Haitian Orthodox Vodou to the conference from the Philadelphia suburbs.
From another part of the magical spectrum entirely came Mark Stavish and Lon Milo DuQuette, who taught traditional Western Esotericism, such as alchemy and Qabalah. Page Bryant, the Earth energies specialist who discovered the energy vortices in Sedona, Arizona, brought her years of experience as a radio host to her teachings about archeoastronomy and the stars.
Having access to all of these powerful, talented teachers at one conference caused terrible dilemmas for the student: in every workshop slot there were five choices, and at least three of those choices were fascinating to me personally. What is a Witch to do when faced with an overabundance of superb teachers?
In my case, I was lucky. Several of my magical family members from Chesapeake Pagan Community were enjoying the conference with me. So we were able to dispatch family members to take notes at various workshops scheduled at the same time-and then share the notes when the session was complete.
But there was little time for hanging out idly. The conference was tightly scheduled and ran on time for the whole event. And one measure of the quality of the workshops: during the class/ritual sessions, the halls of the hotel and the merchant room were empty.
In addition to the workshops, there were panel discussions with three or four teachers. These plenaries enabled us to learn more about different traditions, and different approaches to magick.
Lest you think that the conference was all workshops and no play, on Friday night we were treated to a Magickal Gala in the hotel ballroom, with dance music culled from the last 25 years. Starry balloons, glittering metallic tablecloths and a lavish buffet transformed a workaday hotel ballroom into a shimmering place Between the Worlds.
The range of dance attire was fabulous: People wore leather corsets, lace and silk, Renaissance garb, business suits, jeans and t-shirts, coats of military cut and, in Eldritch's case, lipstick red high heels. And all of those incredible teachers I admire so much impressed me again with their ability to get down, dance wildly and party.
There was also an auction to benefit the New Alexandrian Library during the Gala. One of the most sought-after items was a gorgeous original artwork by Monica Sjoo, showing the Goddess at Glastonbury on Midsummer's Day, which the artist had gifted to R. J. Stewart. R. J. Stewart then kindly donated the picture to be auctioned to benefit the library, and it was a very big-ticket item indeed. In a beautiful and generous gesture, the artwork was purchased by Deborah Ann Light who then gave the picture back to the library for permanent display.
Saturday night's high-powered magical working was timed to coincide with the final planetary pentagram's celestial tide and the height of astrological Samhain. The ritual was scheduled to begin at 8:30pm and end at 10pm. According to Skip Ellison, the last blow of the hammer striking the cauldron to end the ritual came at 10:00:00 precisely. And the members of the Assembly had not even practiced the ritual ahead of time!
The ritual theme for the conference was Warding the Turn of the Ages, a magical working designed to protect the portals between the worlds as we make the transition from the Age of Pisces to the age of Aquarius. Ivo Dominguez, Jr. describes the ritual intent:
In magick, things that are repeated thrice have great potency. I believe that these Grand Quintiles are comparable to three invoking pentacles scribed across the heavens and that at the 3rd Grand Quintile the doorway opens fully. I believe that at the third repetition, spiritual influences and beings who have an interest in human affairs at the turning from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius will pass through this portal so that they can be closer to us. The focus of our ritual is to ward against those that are unhealthy influences and to call upon those whose blessings are needed to manage the turning well.
As we processed into the hotel ballroom to begin the ritual, I was in awe at the magnificent ceremonial garb. The New Seed Sanctuary people wear beautiful flowing white robes, and they carry tall staves. Their robes made me think of ancient Egypt. The Assembly's elegant turquoise tabards were much in evidence. Many of the Wiccans wore calm and relaxing black robes, while followers of the African traditions preferred calm and relaxing white robes. I saw Celtic knotwork robes, Norse feathered robes, robes of every rainbow hue.
The circle was cast by singing the names of the astrological signs, described as the Twelve Signs of Wisdom and Folly. High-level initiates from the Assembly aspected the Four Elemental Monarchs and delivered dramatic invocations.
The group built the magickal energy like a powerful symphony, each tradition like a family of instruments. We were able to maintain clarity, unity of purpose and harmony during the ritual despite our different styles.
Six men and six women from the galaxy of teachers spoke. Their invocations contained words of wisdom, inspiration and comfort. I felt the glorious power of many magickal folk harmoniously doing a very big working together, here and now, at the gateway to the Age of Aquarius. For the first time, I took myself seriously as one of the many Guardians of the Turn of the Ages.
There were many reported physical effects during and after the ritual. A number of female participants dreamed of laboring to give birth that night, or went on their moon. Others reported intense yet mysterious arousal during the ritual.
In the natural world, a huge solar storm manifested almost immediately after the ritual, leading to a large coronal mass ejection. Flying home from the conference Selena Fox saw the Aurora Borealis dancing in the sky next to her plane, and then again when she arrived at Circle Sanctuary. It was a fitting response from the natural world to the power, the love and the synergy manifested in the ritual. In twenty-one years of Pagan rituals, I have never attended anything so broad and so deep.
Now that the conference is over and I am processing my experience, my strongest feeling is gratitude to Ivo Dominguez, Jr and the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel for the work they did to create the conference. Between the Worlds was a unique opportunity for cross-pollination of traditions. There was an atmosphere of respect and admiration throughout the conference, as we celebrated our differences together and learned from one another. Not only that, it was really, really fun. I am definitely planning to attend the next festival November 8-11, 2007.
Bio: Caroline Kenner is a Pagan community organizer from Silver Spring, Maryland. She is a Harner-trained shamanic healer and is one of Sandra Ingerman's advanced students. Caroline is also a proud initiate of Cuban Santeria. Caroline has been practicing Paganism for 21 years. See her website at www.mythkenner.com
Photos by from top to bottom:
- Michael G. Smith going into aspect for before the main ritual
- Selena Fox's Brigid Healing Circle
- Shakmah Winddrum, Helena Domenic, Lon DuQuette, and Thorn Coyle after a panel discussion.
| ABOUT... |
Location: Silver Spring, Maryland
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