Sacred Space Celebrates Twenty-one Years!
Article ID: 14491
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 3,237
Times Read: 6,539
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Author: Caroline Kenner [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: March 13th. 2011
Times Viewed: 6,539
Sponsored by: Sacred Space Foundation
Location: Timonium, Maryland
Event Date(s): Thursday, 24th through Sunday 27th of February, 2011
“Metaphysics, Mysticism, Magick”, reads the tag line on the Sacred Space conference website. Held annually in the Washington-Baltimore area, this year Sacred Space hit its stride with a strong program gauged to a discerning and magickally experienced audience.
Sacred Space provides diverse workshops taught by both nationally-known presenters and local talent in a hotel-based conference held in Timonium, Maryland, a northern suburb of Baltimore. The featured and sponsored presenters at the February 24th through 27th, 2011, conference were Diana Paxson, Runemistress and trance expert, Jason Miller, Sorcerer, with a specialty in financial and protection magick, Michael Smith, Elder and High Priest of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, Western tradition and Egyptian magick, Judika Illes, magickal encyclopedist and spell collector, and Byron Ballard, Asheville, North Carolina’s Village Witch, an organizer of the Mother Grove Temple Project. The variety of their teachings was augmented by diverse presentations from local teachers.
Prolific author and magickal encyclopedist Judika Illes has attended Sacred Space as both a featured and sponsored presenter for the last two years. “The Sacred Space Conference ranks among my very favorite annual events. It is exceptionally well-organized, eclectic, and genuinely esoteric. The variety of workshops, lectures, and rituals is extraordinary. The attendees are consistently wonderful--smart, interesting, kind, friendly, knowledgeable, and generous people. I can’t imagine someone attending Sacred Space and not feeling welcome. They bring out the best in the presenters, too.”
Local High Priestess Terri Simon, of Circle of the Silver Phoenix, attended Sacred Space for the second time on 2011. “I thoroughly enjoyed my second Sacred Space Conference. The workshops were great, encompassing both fun things for personal growth: "Touch Drawing" by Angela Raincatcher, and heavy-duty material that will improve my work as a high priestess: Michael Reeder's class “Trauma and Magic” and Jonathan White's classes on "Ceremonial and Counseling work with Anger" and "Recognizing and Preventing Compassion Fatigue". I took a step or two closer to deity with Diana Paxson's class on Frigga, and learned a great technique for interviewing the Divine with Dawn Footer.”
Dawn Footer, Priestess of the Lodge of Isis in Rochester, New York, taught what I found to be an archetypal Sacred Space workshop: “Interviewing the Divine: Using the Tarot to Investigate Obscure Deities”. Dawn has developed a technique using Tarot spreads to allow mostly-forgotten deities to speak once again to those of us who would listen. After Dawn introduced the work, we spent a happy 90 minutes in breakout groups listening to the Goddess Aka, from what is now Turkey. We know Her name and a few characteristics, but the features of Her cult are mostly lost at this point. But Aka was able to speak to us plainly through the cards. Many of us pulled the Moon from our decks, and several of us also pulled Judgment and Justice. This was a classic Sacred Space workshop: it identified a need--seeking more knowledge about ancient deities when only remnants of information about Them exist, using a technique that is available to all--we all have a Tarot deck or two--to gain a new skill that we can take home and incorporate into our own magickal practice. I am planning to use this technique to allow my regular deities to speak through the cards as well. I found it to be a very flexible and useful approach I had not come across before.
A few weeks before the conference, Cherry Hill Seminary asked to hold the graduation ceremony for their local graduates at Sacred Space. Executive Director of Cherry Hill Seminary Holli Emore wrote: “Cherry Hill Seminary would like to publicly thank Sacred Space for so generously hosting our Saturday morning graduation ceremony. While we might have simply found a hall and held our event independently, our joyous gathering was distinctly enhanced by the opportunity to hold it in – well, sacred space! All those at Sacred Space gave us such a warm welcome that we began to feel like dignitaries visiting from another country. May your hospitality and giving spirit return to you, multiplied many times over.”
The graduates enjoyed a keynote address by Katrina Messenger, one of the Cherry Hill professors, and a local priestess and mystic here in Washington, DC. Katrina’s moving speech included these words: “I need to tell you graduates what you represent to all of us before I tell you what you need to do going forward. So here it is ... brace yourselves. You are our future. That’s it. You are our future. Normally we say these words to the young and fresh faced graduates who have not yet clearly stepped into the real world. But it doesn’t matter how old, or how experienced you are. For us, you represent our future. Because you are the ones that set the bar of how high, how far, how good, how smart, how committed, how serious we can be as a community. You are our future. You are our highest potential. And of course, it is not just you, it is also all the instructors and administrators. But you are the product of this system they collectively fostered. And from you we expect the best and the brightest. You are our lights of the coming dawn.”
Katrina Messenger was a featured teacher at Sacred Space two years ago, and this year she taught as a local teacher. Katrina is the founder of Reflections Mystery School in Washington, D.C., as well as teaching for Cherry Hill Seminary. First time attendee of Sacred Space Jean S. had this to say about one of Katrina’s classes: “I attended Katrina Messenger’s class on chakra clearing and my experience was amazing. Katrina is a very dynamic, passionate, authentic and courageous teacher. She presented the material with genuine love and excitement. She inspired me to engage my chakras in a way I did not know was possible. While being led through her guided journey, I felt power rushing throughout my entire body, along with enchanting visions of loving, healing energy. What a pure, exhilarating, spiritual experience! I thank you, Katrina, for inspiring me to learn and explore my own healing, creative energy.”
For the last several years, Sacred Space has comprised about 100 attendees. Diana Paxson, who has taught at Sacred Space before, was coming straight from Pantheacon on the West Coast, a much larger conference: “Sacred Space was big enough to have a lot of interesting people, small enough so that one got a chance to talk to them.” Holli Emore wrote: “Sacred Space is one of the best-kept secrets on the East Coast, and I do not expect its wonderfully intimate size (roughly 100 attendees) to remain so for much longer. My hat is off to the organizers for bringing together such an outstanding group of presenters, teaching some really meaty material, and in a venue that was friendly and comfortable for those of us who are beyond our camping days. I left Sacred Space feeling rested as well as spiritually and intellectually nourished!” And Judika Illes wrote “The Sacred Space Conference seems to have achieved this perfect balance: rituals and workshops are powerful, profound, and soul-stirring but there are also great social events— opportunities to mingle, have fun, and get to know other attendees.”
Byron Ballard was lured north from her native Asheville, North Carolina, to teach at Sacred Space for the first time: “Attending Sacred Space was a breath of fresh air--it was tightly organized, well-attended and very informative. One of the things I've brought away with me is the pleasure of attending an event with grown-ups. The presenters, and many of the attendees I spoke with, were long-time practitioners of the work in which they were engaged. I saw no displays of ego or temper, no jockeying for position or territorial imperative, no diva meltdowns. We came together to share deep knowledge out of a variety of practices and traditions. We attended each other’s workshops and classes with genuine curiosity and respect. I was impressed with the offerings and the facilities, and plan to return next year.”
Sorcerer Jason Miller, also a first time presenter, taught a two-part class on Financial Sorcery, among other classes. He echoed Byron’s impression: “Sacred Space was a wonderful conference that provided a remarkable amount of variety within a very intimate setting. The format of having three or four classes to choose from at any given time allowed people from widely different backgrounds to always have something of interest at their fingertips. The parties, rituals and Conjure Dance managed to tie everyone back together and make the conference a single unique magical working. One thing that I, and several other presenters, enjoyed was the invitation to present advanced and esoteric material that you just normally would not hear elsewhere. I look forward to attending it for many years to come.”
Michael Smith is an Elder and High Priest of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, a multi-coven organization in the mid-Atlantic region. He is a long time teacher and attendee of Sacred Space, and was a featured teacher for the first time in 2011. "It has always been a pleasure to both attend and present at Sacred Space. With hotel-based conferences few and far between in the region, Sacred Space has provided an environment for serious exploration and safe exposure to many paths, philosophies, spiritual perspective, and religious thought for more than 20 years. Balancing the demand for quality presenters and the need to keep the conference affordable to the broadest number of people, Sacred Space continues to succeed. I first taught at Sacred Space in 1995, and it is still one of my very favorite conferences.”
Apart from the classes, the New Orleans Voodoo Conjure Dance is generally considered to be one of the highlights of Sacred Space. I am the organizer of the Conjure Dance, which I produce in alliance with Firesong, superb singer and founder of the trance possession tradition Universal Temple of Spirits, and Michael Gryffyn, a Wiccan priest, local sound healer and drum circle facilitator. The Conjure Dance is a party for all of the participants’ compassionate helping deities and spirits, a sacred way of celebrating the Mardi Gras inspired by the work of Marie Laveau. We dance each year to manifest Love, Honor, Respect, Prosperity, Peace and Joy. This year’s Conjure Dance was performed in support of Egyptian democracy, with altars honoring the Ancient Egyptian pantheon, and to support the healing of the Haitian people after their earthquake and epidemics, with altars dedicated to the Haitian Lwa. There were also altars to the Ancestors, Kuan Yin and the Chinese zodiacal animal of this year, the Rabbit, the Orishas, the Celtic and Norse pantheons and the Hindu Goddesses and Gods. Surprisingly, the shamanic teacher Sandra Ingerman taught me the Conjure Dance as part of her two-year shamanic teacher training course. Sandy learned it from Martha Ward, an anthropology professor and shamanic practitioner in New Orleans, who is also one of the biographers of Marie Laveau.
One of the most enchanting moments of the Conjure Dance this year was watching Diana Paxson, wearing an eyepatch, get possessed by Odin. As seidhkona Laurel Mendes sang Odin’s songs, Odin’s devotees danced gracefully in His honor. No one was surprised to see the leer of enjoyment on Odin/Diana’s face!
Many of us are already looking forward to next year’s Sacred Space even as we recover from the exertions of this year. Our featured guests already confirmed for 2012 are catherine yronwode, of Lucky Mojo Curio Company in Forestville, California, and Lyratah Barrett, of New Seed Sanctuary in Philadelphia. Currently, you can attend all four days of Sacred Space 2012 for only $85.00, but the price goes up as time passes. See www.sacredspacefoundation.org for updated information. You can also stay in touch by signing up for the Sacred Space newsletter or friending Sacred Space on Facebook. The 2012 dates are Thursday, March 8th through Sunday, March 11th. Hope to meet you there!
Copyright: Caroline C. Kenner (C) 2011
Photo credit: David Rea, Guardians of the Windsword, Assembly of the Sacred Wheel.
1. Jason Miller, Sorcerer, teaching at Sacred Space
2. Runemistress Diana Paxson teaching at Sacred Space
3. One of the Conjure Dance altars at Sacred Space
Location: Olympia, Washington
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Bio: Caroline Kenner is a Washington Witchdoctor, a Pagan shamanic healer from our nation’s capital. She has been practicing Witchcraft and Paganism since 1984. For more information about Caroline’s shamanic healing practice in Silver Spring, Maryland, see www.mythkenner.com
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