I decided to start Saturday 13 February 2010, at PantheaCon with “Ancient Egyptian Prayers” by Tamara L Siuda, the current head of the Kemetic Orthodoxy group. While Tamara holds two Masters Degrees in relevant fields she doesn’t limit herself to a purely academic approach of worshipping the ancient Egyptian deities. She and her group incorporate elements channeled through dreams as Unverified Personal Gnosis (UPG) and practice ancestor worship. UPG is a hot topic within reconstructionist circles. On the one hand it cannot be unambiguously verified from academic source texts, but on the other hand it restores the vitality which ancient religions had in their heyday. Ultimately all reconstructionists have to determine whether they will limit themselves solely to academic source texts or whether they will employ a bit of creativity. The highlight of Tamara’s talk for me was the singing of a hymn. The melody of the hymn came from Coptic liturgy, but the Copts themselves admit that the melody originally came from a temple of Isis. Tamara had channeled wording in keeping with the worship of Isis. No claims were made for authenticity, but it was hauntingly beautiful.
I then attended “AMHA 101: Primitive Hebrew Earth spirituality – the basics” by Elisheva Nesher. Elisheva is an amazing speaker – a font of knowledge about Hebrew tribal spirituality, which is a spiritual modality far removed from the better known Judaism andQabala. I’m very fortunate to meet up with Elisheva twice a year – PantheaCon andStarwood.
Continuing my academic overload for the day, I attended “The Mysteries of Demeter and Persephone” by Charles Stein. Dr Stein covered a lot of ground in his talk, admitting that very little is known about the Eleusinian Mysteries, and rehashed the theory of entheogensbeing used to facilitate spiritual experiences. Dr Stein believes that there are valuable lessons that can be incorporated into contemporary life that can be obtained by studying what is known about the mysteries, which he claims led to a lessening of the fixation we all have on personal identity.
“Global Meltdown? McGyver 101: Pagan Survival Techniques” by Patrick McCollum was just the change of pace that I needed. Patrick talked about techniques for surviving in wilderness areas using common everyday objects, so as to produce warmth and water. He illustrated the importance of his workshop by recounting the story of a man who died from exposure despite having all the requisite everyday objects around him – a tragic death which could have been preventing with just a little knowledge. Patrick then went on to talk about combining excrement and urine over a period of a few days to produce crystals ofpotassium nitrate or saltpeter, which is a component of gun powder. Patrick’s talk showed just how much knowledge we’ve lost, as virtually everything he talked about would have been common knowledge a couple of generations ago.
After four intense informative workshops it was time to socialize and network. And who better to socialize with than Jamie Martinez Wood and her boyfriend, Jeep. We went off to dinner and found ourselves sitting next to Richard Reidy and his partner. Any hope that Richard may have had for a quiet tranquil dinner quickly evaporated!
Jo-Ann and I had an early night as both of my workshops were scheduled for the following day.