A few months ago, I decided to book a trip to the UK, spending time first in Glastonbury for the Occult Conference hosted by the Visible College followed by a stay in London. The theme for this year was “Death and the Lovers”, or in short, “sex and death”.
The conference was held in the Glastonbury Town Hall, and I took a coach from London to there in order to be able to attend. The entire journey took over 24 hours with a brief visit in London to hang out and get some food in me before I boarded the bus. I sadly missed the pre-party Friday night, but was able to be attend both days of the event.
The first lecture I attended was conducted by Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone, two important people from my own background in BTW (British Traditional Wicca). The title of their lecture was “Sex, Death, and the Mysteries”, and covered a wide variety of related topics including the connections between Cernnunos and Shiva in addition to the relationship between the oracular trances of the Pythia in ancient Greece with the work done in both the OTO and BTW. My absolute favorite part of the lecture came when Janet Farrar stated emphatically that gender in initiation does not matter; men can initiate men and women can initiate women into the Craft. Why this remains a bone of contention anywhere here in the US amongst those within the Craft is beyond me, and thankfully the two traditions I belong to has left this so-called controversy long behind us. Sadly that can’t be said in all places, but I am very happy that we are moving along and evolving, and allowing the Craft to evolve as well.
The next lecture I attended was Phil Hine’s on sex, death, and possession in early tantras, which was equally fascinating. He had a lot to say possession as a natural state within eastern philosophies, unlike here in the west where it is seen more as dissociation and many of us learning how to do it through such. I cannot help but wonder whether or not the eastern take on it is far healthier and how we could stand to learn about that in my own traditions. I also enjoyed hearing about his take on the necessity of ditching cultural conditioning in order to reach certain mystical and mental states of consciousness.
Lastly, I got to hear Mogg Morgan speak about sex and death in ancient Egyptian magic. Informative, hilarious, and provocative–these are the words I would use to describe what he had to say! One thing that stuck with me during his talk was the importance of communication with the dead in ancient Egyptian religion and magic, along with the implication that learning from one’s initiator/priestess didn’t end in death, and both communication and teachings continued even after they had passed. Through examples in art–and grafitti even–we had a chance to see how sex, death, and magic were deeply connected to one another in ancient Egypt, and how sexuality didn’t end after one’s death but was also a part of the experience on the other side.
After dinner we got to socialize and dance to a live goth band, and I got to my hotel at a pretty late hour. Well worth it, and still got enough rest to make it through day two of the Occult Conference.