So I casually hopped on a train on Saturday morning at the ridiculous time of 9am (it was a Saturday and I’m a teenager… anything before midday is too early!) and headed off to York with a post-it note with scribbled directions and my ticket for the Pagan Federation North East Conference (and my purse, umbrella, hat, leggings, spray, camera, batteries, socks, phone, keys, make-up… you get the picture.)
Anyway, after a brisk walk across York and almost being let into an Art Convention (the beautiful moment where I get asked if I’m an ‘art person or a Pagan person’ and get to reply ‘Pagan person!’ with gusto) I entered the PFNE Conference 2012! I got a sexy stamp on my hand (it’s a sideways cat):
I spun in a little circle with my programme until I decided what I wanted to go and listen to and then went and sat down in the appropriate place. The first talk that I listened to was ‘The Transformative Power of Archetypes & the Bardic Arts’ which was utterly amazing, especially for a mythology geek like me. I though my interest in mythology had hit a wall but this opened up a load of new directions for me. http://www.awenpublications.co.uk/karola_renard.html
Next we had a talk by Chris Crowley on ‘The Pagan Federation- Past, Present and Future’ which was really great, it made me feel really enthusiastic and passionate about the Pagan community, and it drove home the fact that people like me are the ones who are going to be carrying the Pagan flame forwards.
Then came lunch, which was a chance to have a browse around the stalls. I bought myself a lovely pentacle necklace which I’m wearing at the moment and a set of rune stones which I will take an arty picture of and post on here sometime soon. I had a sandwich and went to watch the Daughters of Gaia who were providing the entertainment- they were completely awesome, everyone was dancing around the centre and generally having a good time. We all held hands at one point and sang and danced around a bit. It was really fantastic, I felt so involved and loved by everyone there, we were all joined equally in a circle and I could feel the spirit of the community and the Gods racing through the room. http://www.daughtersofgaia.com/
After lunch I sat in on ‘Fortuna- A Goddess for our Time’ by Vivianne Crowley, she deserves serious credit as she managed to get me to sit through a talk on the Romans, a group of people I have a serious problem against. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivianne_Crowley
Next I went to a workshop on ‘Invoking the Morgana’ which was completely brilliant, everything that was said resonated so deeply with me, I was almost crying when we did the meditation/visualisation. Walking out of that room I felt so incredibly strong, I realised a lot of things in there, I realised that I could be whole without all my crap- that I could peel it away and walk on; by that I don’t mean ‘get rid of it’ I mean separate it from me. I am a whole person without all my grief and fear and violation. http://www.angel-lights.co.uk/
The last workshop I went to had the most profound effect on me, it was ‘Connecting with the Ancestors through Drumming, Song and Old Chants of the Land.’ We did a kind of intense meditation- I can’t actually remember much of it, but I distinctly remember being a bird, well, it was me, naked with feathers coming out from my arms. I was flying around the world and the whole thing was very ‘The Snowman’-esque which was weird when it then merged into reality. http://www.spiritvisions.co.uk/
Overall I met loads of incredibly friendly people, picked up lots of flyers and had my mind blown countless times.
For years I’ve been struggling to reconcile the vulnerable, violated, mentally ill Wren with the strong, passionate Pagan Wren. It was only on Saturday when I realised more than anything that they weren’t different people at all. It just hit me so suddenly, I’ve been pushing things down and down and ignoring them- but at the same time I’ve been ignoring my faith.
Part of Paganism and developing as a Pagan is looking into your heart, I wasn’t looking into my heart, I was looking into my mind, and because I was so scared of what I would find there I stopped looking, and therefore I stopped meditating and exploring divination and working with the Gods because I thought they were in my mind too- but they’re not, they’re in my heart.
When I was meditating on Saturday I realised that I was like a sausage skin filled with water (the water being sadness/anger) and that I needed to face that and let it drain away.
For the first time in my life I feel like I have the strength and the courage to do that.