A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate enough to attend the “Changing Times, Changing Worlds” conference in Northampton, MA. It was, without a doubt, the best conference I have ever attended. There were many fascinating classes taught by wonderful teachers and such a variety of topics taught by people from diverse backgrounds. There was something there for everyone, and the conversation and sharing of ideas carried from the classrooms to the hallways, restaurants and bars. It was inspiring.
During the conference I was lucky enough to get a chance to take classes from many gifted presenters including Galina Krasskova, Raven Kaldera, Ukumbwa Sauti and others…my only regret was that there were many classes and workshops I would have loved to attend but did not get the chance to. I taught a class on ancestor work and felt humbled and inspired to be in the company of so many elders and colleagues whose work I deeply respect. It was an experience to be treasured and I learned an enormous amount.
The most moving thing about the conference was seeing so many dedicated and skilled people passionate about honoring the dead and the land spirits. People are hungry to connect with their ancestors and it was amazing to see so many people with such strong links to their dead. The high point for me was Ukumbwa Sauti’s ancestor ritual in which the dead were honored in traditional Dagara fashion…it was beautiful and moving on so many levels. One of the most touching things was watching so many different people from a wide variety of backgrounds and traditions joining together to make offerings to their ancestors. We have so much to learn from one another as we strive to rebuild traditions that were damaged or broken by repression, colonialism, genocide and slavery. Seeing ancestor traditions being discussed and compared between Dagara, Druids, Native Americans, Northern Tradition shamans, Wiccans and others…phenomenal. All too often we stay in our insular circles, but there is great power in sharing information and pooling resources. Tchipakkan and Jane Sibley (who chaired the conference) did an absolutely fantastic job of providing a sacred space for connections to be made that will move this sacred work forward. Kudos to them!
If you get the chance to attend this conference next year, do not miss it. I found it to be an incredible opportunity to grow and stretch myself spiritually and it left me reinvigorated and fired up, ready to dive in deeper into the work of reclaiming ancestral traditions. Every person I knew who attended the conference came away with a similar sense of re-dedication to their craft. If you’d like to learn more about the conference, visit the website at http://www.changingtimeschangingworlds.org/
See you there next Fall!