This was my third year attending the Sacred Space Conference, an annual conference run by the Sacred Space Foundation. The conference is most definitely aimed at intermediate to advanced level practitioners, and I believe it raises the bar for other pagan events with its high-quality, high-level presentations and rituals.
Ever year I am blown away by what I learn, and the revelations I have, and the internal transformations that occur. I already discussed last week how this year, the weekend became a process of self-empowerment and moving on from loss. And I remember the first year I attended (which was maybe 4 or 5 years ago?), the conference became an exercise
in finding and developing my personal power after I received a shamanic healing from Caroline Kenner.
The two big highlights of the conference for me were the Ocacular Seidh on Thursday night and the Conjure Dance on Friday night. The Ocacular Seidh involves a ritual journey to the Norse underworld where the Seeress can answer questions from those in the ritual. I felt a powerful need to ask a question of the Seeress, and received an unexpected answer that affected me quite powerfully. Just the act of speaking of my pain in a sacred, supportive space was incredibly healing. The Seeress gave me a task, which I think I may do that as part of an Ostara-type ritual in the next weekend or two, depending on when I can obtain the supplies I need. Several folks also came up to me afterwards with some very supportive words and offers of help, which I am deeply moved by and thankful for.
If the seidh was a ritual of quiet and strong, difficult emotions for me, the Conjure Dance was a powerful ritual of joy and connection to the Divine. I danced almost the whole night, through pain and exhaustion that I only partly felt, in worship of the gods that I work with and the other Spirits present at the dance. I saw some powerful possessions that night, and experienced some light possession by several Spirits. My goddess Rhiannon had me laughing when she joined me in the dance for awhile, and was very insistent that my dancing be graceful and lady-like - no getting down and funky for her!
I also had an interesting thought during one of Christopher Penczak's classes, which I shared with a couple people during the conference. The beautiful thing about the neopagan community and conferences like Sacred Space is that our community is small and well-connected. So unlike, say, Catholics who will almost certainly never meet the Pope in person, we actually have the opportunity to meet our leaders, role models, and favorite pagan authors in person. And rarely do I see folks getting too fangirl/fanboy on them (though I do admit, the first time I attended a ritual led by Diana Paxson, I had an internal moment of "ZOMG she writes the Avalon-universe books that I love so much!" before the ritual began.)
My only complaint about the conference was that several presenters went well past their allotted time. This felt disrespectful of attendees' time, as it often it meant cutting into another workshop or the lunch and dinner breaks. I would suggest that in the future, it may help to have a designated timekeeper in the room who can alert teachers when their time is almost up.
Before I finish up, one final tid-bit from Luisah Teish's class that hit me like a big wallop of clarity: The creation of sacred space begins not in the physical realm, but internally.
Blessed be, and I already can't wait until next year!