When the Pagan Federation discontinued its National Conferences after the one of 2004, many wondered what will happen. Many of the districts of the PF began to hold local district conferences. Following suit, PF London also held its district conference in 2007. Instead of calling it just a district conference, I took the initiative (as the then PFL Event Manager) and gave it a name and an identity – `Gaia3 convention’ and a tag-line, `Earth, Environment, Kinship’, for that’s what the Convention was all about! This was done to bring additional awareness to ecological matters, because I had observed, at the time, that pagans in London seem to talk a lot of honouring and worshiping the Earth and natural world, but didn’t seem to put the kind of emphasis on such ecological matters – that far less earth-centred companies or other non-pagan groups were doing. It was crazy that there had never been an Earth-themed conference of any sort – not at least in the previous 12-15 years (to my knowledge).
I was new to convention organising, but did my best, with the help of the PFL Events Team and my District Manager Jean Williams! PF London didn’t have more than a few hundred pounds of funds, so an idea was conjured up – to seek temporary `loans’ of small amounts (£25-£50 ) per person from willing volunteers of the pagan community. And we raised over £500 – enough to put a deposit for the hiring of a large hall at ULU (University of London Union). The PF itself saw our efforts and gave us an equal amount as a loan also. Needless to say, we had a good ticketed turn-out of attendance, and covered all costs, and paid all the people back their `loans’. It was all informally and efficiently done. In essence, it was a Convention funded by the people!
At Gaia3 convention of 2007, we had several interactive features, such as a `Wyrd-Wall’, `Walking Witches & Wizards’ and `Pandora’s Box’. In the first, convention goers tied a small string with their thoughts/ intents, onto a `wall’ to make a random and complex web of strings. (These were used in the 4th Convention in `Wyrd-i’ in 2010). The Walking Witches were Stewards who went around befriending new comers and making them comfortable, and the Pandora’s box was a feed-back box ( a reverse of the concept!). There was also the `Copper exchange’ where each person had 5 small coins (1 penny coins) and through out the day, each person would `exchange’ his or her coins with another convention-goer. All coins were collected and magically committed to the river Thames at the end of the Convention. It symbolised the exchange of energies (and a reason to interact with one another).
There followed 2 further annual conventions. In 2008, we had the `Gaia-Fortuna Convention’ probably another first (using a double-barrel name of 2 Goddesses). It took place around the Autumn (harvest) time, and concentrated on Harvest and good Fortunes; The 3rd in the series was at Midsummer in 2009, and suitably named `Gaia-Sol convention’ , with a focus of integrating the masculine fiery energy of the Sun wit Gaia.
Year 4 saw the idea of kinship and interconnectedness evolve- and there was only one way it possibly have moved towards – to the concept of Wyrd. This is the magical web of Fates that connect all of us. So it was called `Wyrd-i convention’. People asked me what the `i’ stood for, and wondered if it meant the roman numeral 1? Maybe, or maybe it stands for `imagination’, because creative imagination is key to the working of magic!
Last year, there were no Gaia-related conventions, because the Pagan Federation held a national major conference in London to celebrate its 40th anniversary! However, last year, on the new moon of Aquarius (star sign with humanitarian qualities), we finally formed `Gaian Times’, to continue the magical and sociological work initiated by the Gaia Conventions.
Below are a full list of Speakers, Experts, Workshop facilitators and Performer – who participated in the 3 Gaia conventions, and supported its objectives.
Contributions to Gaia3 Convention 2007
|Adrian Harris & Jacqui Woodward Smith||Opening Attunement|
|Jean Williams.||Talk||What’s special about the PF?|
|Christina Oakley||Talk||Magical London in the Victorian, Edwardian and Inter-War Years of the Twentieth Century|
|Jacqui Woodward Smith & Hilde||Workshop||The Sacred in the City- workshop|
|Jack Gale||Talk||Shamanism, Gardening and the Earth Spirits|
|JOHN CROW||performance & talk||Urban Shamanism- Goose and Crow and the Cross Bone Portal|
|Adrian Harris||talk||Us and Them: Listening to the more-than-human majority|
|Ric Kemp||talk||The Deer Goddess|
|Orianna & Indigo||workshop||Court cards- Tarot|
|Alan & Mani||workshop||Drumming workshop|
|`Temple of the Four winds’||Closing Ritual|
Contributions to Gaia-Fortuna Convention 2008
|Caroline Wise||Opening/ talk||Fortuna Opening Ceremony & Talk’|
|Kenneth Rees||Talk||35 years and counting! – positive changes in the pagan/witchcraft communities since the 1970s|
|Vivianne Crowley||talk||Goddess Fortuna|
|Mark McCann||workshop||Making friends with fortune: how to weave the thread of fate and change your destiny|
|Sascha||talk, demo and mini-workshop||Gothic Bellydance (Raqs Gothique!)-|
|Hilde||workshop||Spirit in the City – The Earth We Walk On|
|Marielle||workshop||Ritual Dance within the Temple|
|Caroline Robertson||Talk||“All Acts Of Love And Pleasure Are My Rituals”|
|Mark Jeoffroy||Talk/poetry||The Poet as Magician|
|Bachus Border Morris||Performance|
|Ed & April Richardson||workshop||Sounding the Runes|
|Meredith||Talk with video clips||‘Gods of the Future?’|
|Michael Bingas||Talk||HISTORY MYSTERIES|
|Jacqui||workshop||The Bee Goddess: the Hive of Community and Justice in the Workplace|
|John Constable aka John Crow||Talk/Performance||The Goose, The Crow and the Cross Bones Portal|
|Geraldine Beskin||Talk||Aleister Crowley|
|Phyllis Pointer||Talk||‘Hoodoo, The Blues and Robert Johnson|
|Hern’s Tribe & Tribe of Avalon||Closing Ceremony|
Contributions to Gaia-Sol Convention 2009
|Tribe of Avalon & Jacqueline Anne Woodward-Smith||Opening ceremony|
|Jeanette Ellis||Talk||The Stag Horned God’|
|Steve Wilson||Talk||Paganism and Sex’|
|Emma Restall Orr||Talk||Paganism in a Modern World’|
|Chris Crowley||Talk||Myths and legends of Midsummer’|
|members of the PF committee||Presentation||PF: “Story Time: How the PF Bug Got Me.”|
|Simon Michel||Workshop||‘Dancing hands, dancing drums|
|Neeraj Davis.||Meditation||Chakra sounds meditation’|
|Bacchus Border Morris||performance & workshop|
|Marielle Holman||workshop||Gaia, the Goddess of nourishment and Earthiness’|
|Sasha Cooper||workshop||`Getting in touch with your inner Goddess/God through Gothic Bellydance’|
|`WolfTurtle’ (Mani) & Friends||Closing Ritual|
Gaian Times calls these wonderful individuals, to support the work of Gaian Times, and contribute feature articles, and share with us their ongoing Earth-centred works.
(c) Mani Navasothy. Gaian Times. January 2012,
(The above is an extract from the January 2012 (issue#3) of Gaian Times e-Magazine)