Monday, April 8, 2013

Gatineau 2013 Program Update

Confirmed Program Topics for 2013 in Gatineau


Tradition in Canadian Pagan Identities 
Featured Guest Speaker- Dr. Brian D. Hayden Identity can be developed in many cross-cutting dimensions:  national, geographical, ethnic, ideological, historical, socio-economic status, and many more.  Being an archaeologist, what I would like to focus on is Canadian pagan identities with the past, specifically, how we relate to our ancestral pagan practitioners, whether we identify with those of the Stone Age, the Classical, Medieval or later periods.   All religions have legitimizing histories.  In pagan circles, this takes the form of frequent claims of direct descent of practices and rituals from much earlier pagan times.   Some scholars, and even some pagans, have cast doubt on the reality of such claims with the result that this has become a contentious issue in the pagan community.  I will discuss the realities and relevance of this issue for our times and our communities.  Sources for many of our practices can be identified, but whether there has been an unbroken tradition of praxis is probably not as important as what effects they had in the past, how effective they were in the past, whether they can still be just as effective, and whether we can recapture or recreate those effects.  Comparative studies of traditional religions provides a strong basis for dealing with some of these issues.
A Familiar Helper
Pagans claim to be bearers of an earth tradition originating many thousands of years ago in our ancestral cultures. As generally stated, the pagan goal is to be in tune with nature, seasonal cycles, and spiritual connections to those realms. However, our ancestors who developed these traditions were forest or rural dwellers, while the vast majority of pagans are urban or sub-urban dwellers. Thus, past practices have had to be adapted and changed in large measure to reflect urban settings in industrial cultures. In the process, I suggest, we have lost sight of some of the more fundamental aspects of traditional pagan religious practice, and this loss handicaps our spiritual development. One of the most important aspects that was omnipresent in the traditional world was the use of spirit helpers, or familiars. These are well documented up until Medieval and Renaissance times but play virtually no significant role in most pagan practices today.   Spirit helpers can provide an entirely new dimension to modern pagan spiritual practices, and I would like to advocate adopting them and experimenting with them, building on the cumulative wisdom of ancestors and other cultures.
Dr. Brian Hayden
 is a Professor Emeritus of archaeology at Simon Fraser University, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, with a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He has conducted ethnoarchaeological field research with the Australian Aborigines, the Maya Indians, the Hill Tribes of Southeast Asia, and the indigenous communities of the British Columbia Interior. He has excavated in these and other countries with most recent excavations along the Fraser River near Lillooet, B.C. His book publications include: Shamans, Sorcerers, and Saints: A Prehistory of Religion (Smithsonian Press), and  Archaeology: The Science of Once and Future Things (W.H. Freeman).
Ceremonial Magick from the Inside 
Dominque Smith
This lecture will delve into the seemingly hidden world of Ceremonial Magick from the perspective of a long time Witch. We’ll explore the similarities and differences between Witchcraft and Ceremonial Magick as well as how Ceremonial Magick can be incorporated into any spiritual practise with great personal benefit. We’ll shed away the stereotypes and misinformation to reveal the the beauty behind this misunderstood and often maligned magical practise. This lecture will also have a demonstrative and participatory element.
Dominique has been a Witch for 25 years, an initiate in the eclectic Wiccan lineage of Black Ring and is a founding member and chief to the House of the White Stag through Ordo Astrum Sophiae of the Ogdoadic Tradition.
Judith O’Grady
The book, God-Speaking, is a short book published by the Pagan Portals division of John Hunt Publishing about trancing and coming into and maintaining communication with Land Spirits and Gaia Herself with a strong folkloric and Irish bias. Judith will read an excerpt followed by a discussion.
I am a Leaf on the God’s Wind.
“I am an Irish Descendant and a Celt. One side of my family came from an island in the Far Wild West of Ireland and the other are largely Welsh people who immigrated to hilly farm country in the New World and stayed there for hundreds of years.  I describe this mixture as thinking with my dark Welsh head while feeling with my Black-Irish heart. When I was in my teens, I started researching my roots; reading folklore and history, anthropology and fiction. My people are not Kings and Heroes, they are common people, and so I began reading more specifically about how they lived and what they believed. This lead me to the fairy-doctors and wort-masters, the magic they used, and the communication they had with their environment.”
Judith is a many-years member of the Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF) and has completed their Dedicant’s program. The Goddess to Whom I am dedicated pushed her to join in public ritual with the Druids after thirty-odd years of worshipping by herself and gradually this led to her being the Grove Organizer of the local ProtoGrove Lake of Oaks. With much less hesitancy she started blogging and this gradually expanded into the exciting prospect of being published in a week (advance copies are available) and spewing opinions in essay form and discussion generally. In her published book she glances over the examples from lore that outline the necessary behaviour for Druidic Right Action in these troublesome modern times.
Nature Magic in the 21st Century – The Difference Between Science and MagickRichard Fox- Renard , The Fire DruidWe will delve into how intelligence is organized within nature and ways to communicate with it.  We will explore the distinctions between Science and Magick. And we will look into the mechanics of the universe and four primary influences that determine what a human will experience at any point in time.
Renard has camped out for most of the year in the great forests of the United States, over the last 18 years, which has given him a unique perspective about living with and communicating with Nature.  During that time, he planted more than 700,000 seedlings as he worked his way through his Earth Druid phase. He is the Executive Director of the non-profit organization Trees, Water & People, where he manages natural resource and renewable energy projects in seven countries and with 18 Native American tribes. He has a small home on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota where he sometimes lives with his Lakota friends and partners and where they manage the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center. He also serve as the Editor of Aontacht, the global magazine of the Druidic Dawn.
A History of Pagan Philosophy – A Summary
Brendan Myers
For the last two years Brendan has been writing a book on the history of pagan philosophy from the ancient world to the twentieth century. And in this presentation he will describe some of the highlights of that research. Three prominent themes tend to stand out: Pantheism, NeoPlatonism, and Humanism: or, the Earth, the Gods, and the Soul. Brendan will describe all three of these themes, as well as a few places in history where one or more of them made a surprising resurgence.
Brendan Myers, Ph.D, is the author of nine books including “Circles of Meaning”, “Fellwater”, and the award-winning treatment of pagan ethics, “The Other Side of Virtue”. And there’s a rumor going round that he recorded an album of pagan folk music too. Follow him on Twitter @Fellwater, or visit him on the web at
The Gods as Mythic Beings
JD Hickey (“Hobbes”)
Take a journey with us as we explore the power of myth and storytelling for both personal practice and performance art. This lecture will cover such diverse topics as Mytheism (using myth for spiritual expression), bardic etiquette, performance techniques, as well as practical exercises for practicing and improving your bardic skills!
JD Hickey (“Hobbes”) has been telling fables, folktales, and legends for over 15 years, winning several awards at festivals and storytelling competitions. He was also part of the organizing committee for Gaia Gathering when it was held in Montreal in 2011.
Ancient Egyptian Religious Practice
Anna Thompson
This lecture will be an exploration of Ancient Egyptian religious belief and magical practices. This overview comes from Egyptological studies and will cover mythologies, deities, practices, rites, symbols, basic tenets as evidenced in the literature for the living and for the dead. Brief comparisons will be drawn to other more familiar pagan cultures and their religious and magical rites. Information in list form will be presented for quick summarization. A laptop with illustrations will give the listener context to the explanations being given.
Anat, Het Set, Het Eset, Het Anpu, mother, pagan, wife, Scribe in the service of MAAT, Oneiromancer (studier of dreams), dancer, drummer, chantress and Priestess and servant for the House of Eset and Set.
The House of Eset and Set started off as a virtual temple honouring the Great Neteru Isis and Seth. As of 2010 my renovated home has given space dedicated to the sole worship of the Neteru and especially Isis and Seth. In the coming months a library will be available to visit by appointment. Rituals happen on a regular basis.
The Path of the Stoics or How to Live the Good LifeMichel and Pam DawThis session will explore the re-emergence of Stoicism as a spiritual and philosophical path within the larger Pagan Mosaic. We will discuss the foundational principles of Stoicism and the Community which is being formed around them.  The integration of Stoic philosophy with other Pagan paths will also be addressed.  Come and see what the practise of Stoicism can add to your personal spiritual quest.
What is Stoicism? – Stoicism is the study and practice of living a complete life based on reason and relationship, one where we explore and express our best selves, where we flourish to the best of our abilities in all places and circumstances. Stoics reach for personal excellence, which we call virtue, in all the domains of our lives, privately and publicly, to benefit ourselves and our communities.
How is Stoicism a Spiritual Path? – Stoicism is the practice of changing the way we look at life to arrive at a point where our baseless worries are defeated, our paralysing fears abolished, our violent passions tempered, and our childish selfishness turned to generosity and compassion. Practising Stoicism involves all aspects of our being – body, mind and soul. We celebrate and honour our connections to Gaia and to each other. In short, it is to live deeply, purposefully and wholly. This is the Art of Living in accordance with Nature.
Who is the Stoic Community? – We are a loosely connected group of men and women who have chosen to adopt Stoicism as an Art of Living. Our Stoicism is the same as the philosophy founded over two thousand years ago in Greece, and at the same time profoundly different, evolved for our current age and our current understanding of Science, Psychology, Philosophy and Religion. We choose to study and practice a philosophical life, in order to express our truest natures.
Michel and Pamela are modern Stoics, reviving the ancient philosophical and spiritual path. Michel is a founding member of the College of Stoic Philosophers, an online study program for the Stoic Practice. Pamela runs Stoic Civitas, a nascent umbrella organization or Stoic Spiritually they have been jointly hosting monthly Stoic workshops in the National Capital Region, the monthly Ottawa Region Pagan Discussion Night, and have spoken at festivals and conferences on Stoic Spirituality. Together, they also manage, a Stoic Website and resource centre, as well as Words of the Ancient Wise, a daily Stoic blog.
Canadian Pagan Identity
Canada is without a doubt a very diverse country into which we have as many types of Canadians as there are places in our extremely large country. We have had a lot of difficulty trying to define who we are as Canadians let alone as Canadian Pagans. This panel will attempt to narrow down who are we, how do we define our identity, and what makes us unique and stand out from pagans in other parts of the world.
Creating Local Conferences
Conferences are a wonderful way for intellectual discussion, information sharing, networking and celebrating our spirituality. Gaia Gathering, our national conference has helped connect those from across the nation, but why should we not do this closer to home. How do you create a local conference, what challenges are faced and how can you overcome them.
Gender Identity and Sexuality in Paganism – Round Table
In 2012 this panel discussion was brought forward at Gaia Gathering to explore the Canadian Pagan perspective on the public discriminatory behaviour of a well known American Pagan towards Transgender, Gay and male Pagans. This year we’ll be switching things around and opening this topic up into a round-table discussion. We’ll discuss gender balance within group workings and if gender identity or sexuality affects the energetic balance or cohesion within a group dynamic.
History of Gaia Gathering
During this panel the stories of our national conference will be shared from the beginning, how it started, which cities have hosted, themes of past and highlights of previous years.
Humanist Paganism 
Humanism is a fluid concept. At one point, during the Italian Renaissance where it emerged as a philosophy, it brought many scholars to the point of being pagan, by extolling the value and virtue of pre-Christian philosophers.  Over time it evolved, and the modern version of Humanism is largely understood to be atheist. However, many theists, including pagans, identify as humanists. So what does it mean to be a humanist pagan? How does it work, being both an atheist and a pagan? Are there contradictions to reconcile? What are the humanist influences on paganism?
Incorporating, Not Appropriating Indigenous Spirituality
In search for the sacred, some members of the pagan community turn to Indigenous spiritualities for guidance and wisdom whether their ancestors are native to North America or not. As both Neo-paganism and Indigenous Spiritualities are both earth-based in origin there are similarities but it is not necessary for neo-pagans to appropriate the native culture to celebrate the wisdom inherit. This panel will explore how both paths can be incorporated and how to respect the wisdom endemic in each culture.
Living Paganism in our Daily Lives
Our lives on a daily basis can be very busy and full of small things, groceries, picking up the kids for school, going to work, etc. We get so caught up in the bustle we often forget that wondrous feeling and energy we feel when we connect to our Gods. The reality is you do not have to stop and do a full ritual to recreate that feeling. We will explore how to generate the sense of sacred and spirituality into our daily lives?
Pagan Media, Films, Facebook and Podcasting
Once a secretive community, modern Neo-Paganism has exploded on not only traditional media, but also on the Internet and Social Media. Not only are mainstream media makers exploring Pagan themes and ideas, but Pagans themselves are broadcasting their ideas, art, insights, culture, communities on an ever-expanding media world stage. Being put under such a bright light, what are the impacts on modern Neo-Paganism? Does this kind of availability, scrutiny, and transparency broaden our horizons, or does it dilute our culture? What is the best use of media to make our communities stronger, or is it better to shy away from the spotlight and keep our secrets for ourselves?
The Literary Canon of Contemporary PaganismWhat books should be occupying the bookshelves and minds of well-read, thoughtful Pagans of the 21st century?  I asked for volunteers in our community and have been delighted by a wide-ranging response, promising an array of opinions.
Working with Local Spirits
Our pre-Christian ancestors had a deep and intimate relationship with the land on which they lived, and worked with and made devotions to a myriad of local land spirits. They gave these spirits/gods names, most of which have been lost to time. Although our culture and literature is strongly bound to the land here in Canada, local deities and spirits remain largely un-identified and un-worshiped as we focus on main pantheon Gods. Yet, there are people who are seeking to revive the practice of local spirit worship. This panel will explore the various ways pagans are building relationships with local deities, and how you can too.
Mentoring the Next Leaders
Our leaders are wise, giving, and patient people; you know the ones who are washing up the dishes after everyone has gone home. Without them the various events, rituals and groups just would not exist and we really appreciate them for all that they do. But who are the next leaders when these amazing people decide it is time to move on in their spiritual paths? This panel will address how we can recognize those who are willing to step up and be a driving force in their communities, and how to ensure that transitions are smooth and supportive.
Pedestal Worship
We as a culture we idolize our heroes whether they be mythical, cultural or iconic. Your hero could be your mother or father, your teacher, a sports star, a movie star or your priest or priestess. Looking up to and turning to our heroes is a natural course in one’s spiritual path but how does that elder deal with being revered. What if you are that elder, how do you handle the attention without letting it go to your head? What role do you take in that worship, is it necessarily a healthy relationship?
Open Communications Among Traditions
This panel will explore how the different paths within the Neo-Pagan, Reconstructionist, Wiccan, and Heathen communities can work together and build bridges to create a stronger cooperative spirit both locally and nationally.

Art is a metaphor of your vision, your quest, your vision-quest. Creating Art can be a way to search for a sense of meaning and spirituality. Can Art in action be a magick incantation? Why are you, the artist, passionate about your Art? All the questions and more will be discussed by various artists in our collective communities.

Women’s spirituality in Ottawa in the 1990s - Academic Stream
Goddess spirituality in Ottawa has been the subject of at least one PhD thesis, yet it remains a largely unexplored field. For a small geographic area Ottawa had a wide variety of pagan groups. This panel will highlight personal experiences and group dynamics of several of them during the last decade of the 20th century: Around the Goddess, Women’s Spirituality Group of the Unitarian Congregation, New Moon Circle at the Hungry Eye.


Saturday – Banquet

Heather Dale is a Canadian Celtic recording artist and touring musician. She records and performs primarily her own original songs, which draw their inspiration from the mythology, folklore and history of various Celtic and non-Celtic cultures. Her musical style is a mix of traditional and modern, with elements from Celtic folk, jazz, blues, folk-rock and world music influences.
Lecture and screening of the “Life’s Prayer” DVD – By Biljana Banchotova from the Whirling Wisdom Art Creations
Life’s Prayer -DVD
….is an invocation and a unique experience of Biljana Banchotova’s soul medicine journeys from within Cosmic relatedness. Trough this video- her visionary artworks and ceremony will guide us through a harmonious place of sacredness, unity and feminine Wisdom. In her lecture she will explain the importance and significance of finding ‘Life’s Prayer’ in the “Waters” of our life. Earth and all her beloved live forms are co-weaving, co-creation in a multi dimensional play of sacredness and interrelatedness.
There are two components to the “Life’s Prayer” DVD, the first one is the Visionary Journey- here the artworks are reflected trough the, environment & other celestial influences, like: Nature, Crystals, Power Animals, Plants and other imagery. Biljana here recognizes her relationship with Water on many inner levels of spiritual journeys and personal myths, which prospective she offers trough the art works flow and spontaneity. In the background layers of the video is guided written meditation and landscape of music: “Rivers of Stars” from “Layers of Sky” by Rob Somerville.
The second part is “Place of Gratitude” – which is a Water Ceremony, performed by Humber River, Toronto, Ontario, with her son Justin A A Stonkus. This ceremony is guided with spoken word and Native American flute – song background “Dream Cather” from “Wings of a Dream” by Marina Raye. “Place of Gratitude” is as dedication for the healing of World Waters and “For our Children”. “Life’s Prayer” DVD is offered as a prayer and a Mystical journey of a Divine Opening, ascension in Light, Love & Consciousness. It speaks of the pathways of consciousness that call in the ‘Dimensions of the Soul” and the birth of the New Earth!
DVD – Total Time- 23:13
Biljana, has dedicated “Whirling Wisdom Creations” web site as a center for her Visionary Art and all other sacred arts and training that she offers:
She invites:
… may you explore the ART of weaving into the wells of colour, of wisdom
may you flow and seek the Creator within….
while we tell the story, of our very own
ascension, light, love, consciousness….
The Art Gallery page displays the artwork chronologically; then is Meet the Artist (Biography page) and Outreach, CV (for the exhibitions & publications).
You may read words of wisdom at the New Blog; here are the offering workshops, upcoming events, Art reflections, work with the Didgeridoos and Communal Fire. Poetry is on the go!”
Be sure to visit her Healing Art Project page and the Online Store, featuring her intuitive sessions, unique transformational tools and blessings that will further deepen your journeys within”
The WinniPagans – a film by Dodie Graham McKay
Meet the WinniPagans. In the last half of the 1980’s a small group of people who banded together and began holding open circles, publishing a newsletter called The Minstrel and celebrating Beltane in a public park. From this beginning a distinct brand of prairie paganism has grown and thrived in the middle of nowhere. The WinniPagans is a 25-minute documentary film about the development and spirit of this community and a look at some of the individuals who made it come alive and become what it is today. Commissioned by provincial cable television provider MTS Allstream for their “Stories From Home” Video on Demand service, The WinniPagans highlights some of the extraordinary events and talents in the community. Featuring the poetry of Kate Bitney and the haunting panpipe music of Glen Hoban, The WinniPagans provides an intimate look at a diverse pagan community thriving in the heart of the prairies.
Dodie has been a part of the WinniPagan community since the late 1980’s. Since then she has been initiated into two Witchcraft traditions and travelled far and wide pursuing her Craft. Since returning from living in the UK in 2005 Dodie has pursued a career in film production and is now blending a love of the Craft with her career choice and focusing on developing film projects about nature, community activism and pagan culture.

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