Before `Pagan Frontiers of London’ ..there existed and still does.. The Pagan Federation: London, where I held the post of Events Manager for some 7 years (2004 to 2012). I organised & ran open rituals, masked balls, Gaia conferences, created and ran PF: London website, and even started the facebook page & groups for PFL that still continues (just seen my old events art work in there that dates back to 2009 or something).
After stepping down from the PFL Events Manager post ..to seek out new pagan worlds and boldly go to new magical frontiers (am a Star Trek fan), I started `Pagan Frontiers of London’ as a gateway site fit for the glitzy colourful event-driven social media era – to share info, events and my own service to the Pagan community.
Even in the wilderness years (2013 to 2015), when I had minimal contact with PFL events, I was very much supportive of PF and PF: London (how can I not…half my friends and Elders are still within it).
In 2018, I re-joined the PFL events team again, and as of January 2019, now hold the post of `PF London Social Media Officer’. This is a great honour and a thrill.. to be part of the Pagan Federation (I’ve been a member since mid 90’s..). I cherish the knowledge that back in 1970’s several Wiccan Elders got together to start the Pagan Federation.. (and I am of their wiccan lineage). So the PF is `family’ to me in more ways than one.
And as always, I fondly remember the late Jean Williams, who was `my’ District Manager in those days, who taught me much about serving the community in PF, and tempered my wild ways (well a little). I remember her every week as I pass by the hospital in Highgate – even now- the place where I used to visit her in her last few days.
So many others have stood by my side or behind me and supported me since I began serving the PF in 2004. My ritual group Hern’s Tribe, late Maureen Brown (High Priestess), Chris Crowley (prev. PF President), Vivianne Crowley (High Priestess & my Craft Elder), Mike Stygal (prev. PF president), Rufus & Melissa (prev. PFL events managers), Caroline Westbury (High Priestess & friend), Christina Oakley (Treadwells bookshop), Geraldine Beskin (Atlantis bookshop), Luthaneal Adams (prev. DM for PFL), Paul Newman (PFL Treasurer since 2004), Andrew T (PFL events team), Jeremy Morgan (Druid path), Geoff Miles (Heathen path), Philip John Parkyn (Heathen path), my sister Vathani, my prev.magical partner April, Reggie, Paul Harvey, Rob T, Marcus Lee (technomage) …to mention but a few.
I have never been alone. And always stood on their strong shoulders, and been nurtured by their affections.
And beyond them, there are my Gods & Goddesses and my faith in them – and they do put me through my paces, but also offer inner-strength. Because this work is never easy.. being in spotlight, running events, accepting good & bad projections from people, and still finding the light within to help them.
So my admiration and respect goes to any and all people who stand in spotlight, take all the likes & hates, and still get on with serving the Gods, the land and its people.
Just saw a post about one friend talking about being `allergic’ to the said community.. and trying to be with her ups and downs.. (<Sometimes thoughts and emotions may come in a flurry and sweep over us, yet what remains is our true essence. We are not broken, we don’t need our chakras aligned, our chords cut and our karma released.. we just need to be present with what is> is a line I liked in her post!).
I confess.. one reason I began to feel (remember ..my POV) distant from a particular spiritual community is because I felt it was always smiles and high. To this day.. when I post my deeper thoughts, processes, agressions.. 99% of one spiritual community of friends..hardly show any like or comment or support.. It’s as if my rawness is not real or perhaps it’s not something they can accept or process.
I see lots of posts of people longing and searching for their twin flames and soul mates.. unaware possibly of passing so many rough diamonds underfoot! I also note, at the mere hint of any flirting .. many rapidly throw in the words, `brother/ sister’ relationship.. 🙂 (I don’t really need any more sisters thanks.. I was born with 2.. I have by wiccan craft sisters of the coven and everyone else..has to have earned that very special bond over time with me to be called a `sister’).
I find the pagan communities (druids, wiccans, shamans, heathens) to be rough, ready, raw, up, down,.. but acceptable and authentic. Because these lot are wearing their hearts & groins on their sleeves 🙂 They wrangle, they gossip, they fight, they make up, they drink (funnily enough ..they don’t all smoke spliffs at gatherings.. they experience the ceremony as they are!)..
So yeah.. am all for grit and mud…and rawness.. and the real authenticity.
ps. .. yes…as we brew towards a Sagittarius full moon, am aware this post is going to ruffle a few feathers..but hey, shooting from the hips is also part of the cosmic Archer’s qualities! An I am one.. So there !
pps. the featured photo is of my friends meeting at a gathering…and each one of them is dear to me..and 100% authentic.
A spider does not keep the same web for weeks! An otter does not build the one dam for ever.
Creative people are motivated by..nay.. driven by an instinct to create.. Other factors may play a part in that process – like whims, wants, needs, projections. But the deeper play is… that is who and what they are – creators.
They consume life’s experiences, thrive in emotional turmoils, observe the order and chaos around them and be moved by it, and get swept by social currents. At times they even seem to drown.
But then they find inspiration – the small log floating in all that torrents.. and they cling to it.. and fund another floating branch..and another.. Before you know it.. they’ve built a floating island around them.. It accrues width and depth..and settles down by the shores and banks.. safe harbour for others.
Sometimes the soul jumps.. back in the waters. Because it hears the call of new islands from the future.
Children of Artemis – a Wiccan (witchcraft) group created the now popular event `Witchfest’ back in November 2002. Clever move really…and clever name..not to mention a brave one! For that I must applaud the genius of `Merlyn’ – founder/organiser of these events. (I first met `Merlyn’ at Vivianne & Chris Crowley’s home, in London, where a number of Wiccans were meeting to plan and deliver a batch of `Wicca Study Group’ in central London. So Merlyn & I were introduced under very trusting circumstances by trusted Elders of the Craft. It was only after that, that I started attending Children of Artemis Events).
Back in those days, we had lots of TV shows like `Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and `Charmed’ – where we could regularly see major Characters using Witchcraft! And the world took it with a growing appetite for such magical, Witchy adventures lived by ordinary (?) people in the modern world. It’s possible that this growing features of the occult, Wicca and Witchcraft contributed to many a young people either becoming aware of or gaining a pop-culture-style interest in Wicca & Witchcraft. This in turn helped propel organisations such as Children of Artemis who focused openly on the subject matter (in comparison to others such as The Pagan Federation – who gave focus to many a pagan paths such as Druidry, Shamanism, Northern traditions..in a more campaign sort of way).
There I must make further distinctions. People look up campaigning bodies or organisations – mostly when they are in sudden desperate need for such help. But people will look up groups and other organisations for the purpose of entertainment, lifestyle and social networking.. anytime and every day! And as Children of Artemis began to cater for this `lifestyle’ side of Wicca & Witchcraft, I believe it also started to gain popularity. Add to this the factor of CoA owning the domain name http://www.Witchcraft.org (which is bound to come up every time someone searched for that topic), and the addition of a members interactive forum ..where so many debates in so many `rooms’ were going on – it’s hard not to see why CoA grew so quickly. (The also provided a number of other services & campaign helps..).
CoA has had its critics – the other pagan organisations who liked to consider themselves as `serious’ and `Children of Artemis’ as light and a fad. I should know.. I was part of those other organisations such as The Pagan Federation. I myself was – to start with – an active member of the CoA! It is where I started making my earliest pagan friends in local pub moots (Croydon), and I also made many an online friends in those discussion forums (not to mention contributing). I was already an initiated Witch /Wiccan so I had that in common with others. I had contributed an article in the Children of Artemis Magazine `Wicca & Witchcraft magazine’ ( my article `Magical Empowerment in a Godless Universe’ appeared in issue#8 Samhain/Imbolc 2003/2004). And I have given talks at 2-3 of the CoA Pub moots (Croydon & Rochester, Kent). And of course a number of workshops at Witchfest Events…on subjects such as Quantum Magic, Elements, Dragon Magic.
I think my biggest contribution (most prominent perhaps is a better word) came when I put together a ritual team, out of strangers I had enlisted on the CoA forum, planned details by e-mails with them, and met only at the `Medieval Witches Ball’ in February 2004 at Fairfield Hall, Croydon.. to do a closing Ceremony! Some of the people I met in that ritual are still my friends – 8 years on! What precipitated from that was a regular outdoor ritual group – the first 2 – at Spring & Beltane of 2004 were billed as `official’ CoA outdoor rituals, and the organiser Merlyn himself attended – in Lloyd Park, Croydon, along with 20-30 people! (This group later became named by me as `Hern’s Tribe’ at Samhain of that Year, and still works rituals outdoors in London). Our ritual group also was asked to and did one other major ritual.. the Beltane Closing Ceremony at Witchfest England in May 2004. Shortly afterwards, my magical partnership with a fellow Wiccan ended and the ritual group changed.
Sadly, the gremlins came to work- and some of my frank discussions online in CoA Forums came under scrutiny by certain moderators. My posts (in the `Male Mysteries’ forum) were deleted, which began a spiral down path of me & CoA eventually parting company. At about the time I was welcomed by the `Pagan Federation London’. From November 2004, my focus shifted to Pagan Federation London- and for the next 7+ years (till Spring of this year 2012) – where I began to develop (over time) the `PF London Events Team’ (originally just made up of my own friends and keen supporters in Hern’s Tribe). There we have created so many features, events, brought back many an old events and made them regular features (Conventions, Balls, Picnics..) What the current `Pagan Federation London’ Officers take for granted, own and even have become rather possessive & protective about (against me of all people) are mine and my friends’ creations!
That is quite funny really (one of them recently accused me of trying to sabotage an open ritual…which dare I say I planned and booked some 6-8 months prior!). It’s all rather silly. But I appreciate that people have to find their on feet…and those less experienced tend to feel so insecure – that rather than ease into it, try and shoot their predecessors like me, as if that somehow will fix their own hidden issues? perhaps I am too much of a radical and a moral compass that they just can not face.. This process could also be a bit like children – who when hey reach adolescent have to exercise their growing adult-powers…by challenging their parents and teachers first! It’s just human nature, I guess.
Last year, at the Pagan Federation 40th Anniversary Conference, I bumped into Merlyn (creator / organiser of Witchfest). It wasn’t the first time, as I had bumped into him few years ago in a pub and shook hands. But last year, I spoke of me attending the Witchfest. He even handed me a flyer for the event in November 2011. But then the Pagan Fed wanted to have a Stall and I volunteered along with another officer (the new District Manager of Pagan Fed London now!). So I manned the stall in shifts, and attended a few talks.
I must say, looking back over the years, others have had their share of stirring or even egging me on in to certain states…possibly because my clashes have provided endless gossip and entertainment for the pagan communities in London. It’s a bit like a pagan/ witchy version of `EastEnders’ perhaps? In any case, I now stand neutral – within my own sphere, and it probably disappoints those who seek entertainment at my expense! People have shut me up for too long with excuses of `for the good of community’ – and I think it’s time that a balance is struck, and my own withheld truths – such as these I have written above- (and more) are revealed!
And today – it is Witchfest International Event.. their 10th anniversary, and my Wife and a few friends are already going. And me- I am planning to attend – not as a member of CoA, not as a Rep of the Pagan Federation ..not as Speaker, Ritualist…but just as me.. Mani.. a paying customer .. looking for a day out with my wife and friends, some fun, some workshops, and some dancing when the bands start in the evening.