Pantheacon 2014 Art Classes

Woven Circle is a group of artists, to which we belong, who are dedicated to bringing art to everyone. William will be leading wheat weaving classes, and I will be leading a tarot pocket book class this con with the help of our very talented Woven Circle members. We hope you can join us at PantheaCon.

Our art class, “Creating a Tarot Pocket Book” will be held on Sunday at 1:30 in San Juan/San Carlos. In this class, we will be creating an accordion fold book using card stock and magazine collage. This book is designed to be used with tarot cards to mark the Seasons of the year or hold a three card reading. Students may choose which they wish to create. All materials and supplies will be provided.

Tarot Book

Our beginning class “Introduction to Wheat Weaving” will be on Saturday at 3:30 in the San Juan/San Carlos rooms. This class focuses on beginning weaving techniques along with straw preparation and sources on books, materials, and local groups. In this class, each student will make at least two pieces of straw art: a Bridget’s Cross and Harvest Knot to bring home. All materials and supplies are provided.

We will be teaching an intermediate class “Intermediate Wheat Weaving” on Sunday at 3:30 in San Juan/San Carlos for those of you who have taken wheat weaving classes or are advanced hand crafters. This class focuses on intermediate weaving techniques. In this class, each student will make a Sunspray using weaving and adding techniques. All materials and supplies are provided.

Sunspray

Posted in Art, Poetry, & Writing | Leave a comment

Remembering Our Ancestors

Tomorrow is Halloween and I am thinking about the idea of the thinning veil between the world of the living and the dead. Being a Pagan Humanist, I am not sure that other world exists; however, I can’t disregard the idea that I am somehow influenced by its mythology. Seven years ago, my grandfather died. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about him. A good friend of mine is Druid and I admire the way she has a place on her alter to remember her ancestors. I was fortunate enough to attend one of the rituals with her grove. I was moved by the way they incorporated offerings to their ancestors in their ritual. It seems to me a good way to maintain a relationship with those who have passed.

I find that I am still working out the relationship that I had with my grandfather. He was complicated but simple, full of rules and tender, driven yet could attend in silence. He was a good man and he loved me very much. I am surprised at how I arrive at things from our relationship. I have had many dreams I call “The House Dreams” that I know are about him.  My latest pondering is in the form of a poem.

That troubled Summer
when I was 12,
unable to talk,
I joined my grandfather on the job site.
He hauled a truck full of tools,
I, a tennis racquet.
Not a hammer or saw,
but it got the job done.

Late in the day,
we sat in the truck,
on a blanket that smelled of gasoline,
and sipped hot black coffee
from his green dented thermos.
Shared the silence.

A boy my age
would have been put to work.
But I hit tennis balls
against a crumbling wall
until it came down
and another
went up in its place.

I wish you all a Happy Halloween, and I hope that you have an opportunity, in your own way, to engage in relationship with your ancestors.

Aside | Posted on by | Leave a comment

Tarot Book Reviews

I have been reading tarot for about 30 years, and I have not come close to understanding all the cards. In almost all of the lectures I have attended on reading tarot, I haven’t yet met a teacher that does not consider themselves “a student of the tarot”. I think that tarot is as much about learning who you are, as its techniques and meanings. This is a never ending, ever changing journey. I like tarot books that give me choices. I like the freedom to interpret the cards in a way that I am able to look at many aspects of a situation and apply those meanings to a circumstance. I like to use tarot to gain insight into my life by using different approaches and delving deeply into my psyche using self reflection, story and human behavior. I am a teacher, a poet and an artist, and I often use tarot as inspiration for my work. Here are a few reviews of books that meet that criteria for me and that I find myself going to again and again.

21 Ways To Read A Tarot Card by Mary K. Greer
Llewellyn, 2006.

This is, by far, my favorite book on the tarot. Mary Greer goes through 21 different techniques of reading a card. This opens up a whole new world of interpretation. She urges you at the beginning of the book to choose a card and take it through the different ways of reading.  Some of the techniques include: Looking at the emotion in the card, analyzing numbers, and even sketching. It puts you deep into each card to gain insight. This book can be followed step by step or just read through. Either way, when finished, you will never look at the cards just one way ever again. This book is also filled with useful charts, questions for reflection, and appendices including a 21 Ways Worksheet that recalls the steps using key phrases.

The Complete Book of Tarot Reversals by Mary K. Greer
Llewellyn 2002

In this book, Mary Greer again gives us choices. If you choose to read reversals, or not, this book is very helpful at working through the reading to understanding and interpreting what you see and feel in the cards. In the introduction she says, “ Reversals are certainly not evil, but they sometimes represent adversity; the kind that teaches us what really counts and what truly is important, the kind that tests our moral fiber and character. By struggling with reversals, we learn to respond with integrity and a determination not to turn away from the teachings of each circumstance.”  In the first chapters, she covers a bit of history and uses the hanged man as a metaphor for seeking the hidden components of a situation. She also outlines 12 ways of reading reversals. She then goes through the rest of the book giving card by card descriptions and meanings with various solutions through problems using the Rx as a possible remedy. I like her look-at-all-the-aspects-of-a-problem approach and then try to work through different perspectives for a solution. Here again, Mary Greer provides us with many helpful appendices using keywords for quick reference.

Heart of Tarot  An Intuitive Approach by Amber K & Azrael Arynn K
Llewellyn 2003

This book applies the Gestalt approach to Tarot. It begins with two brief chapters on the History of Tarot and the Gestalt method of reading. What follows is a workbook section on reading cards with a few different intuitive possibilities per card represented. It does not include every card, but I found it to be a good sampling throughout the deck so that the reader can get the feel of the method being used. There is a generous amount of room at the bottom of each page for notes. The authors have included sample spreads including an example of a step by step reading. There is also a section on working with  clients. My favorite part is a small section on teaching activities, where they include making your own deck. The Sample deck used was the Morgan-Greer and I was so taken with the illustrations, I had to go out and get my own deck!

Posted in General Post | Leave a comment

Tarot Companions

The Tarot Art project I would like to share today is two pieces that are meant to be companions to each other. The first, I like to call, Tarot Theater(front). (Tarot really is a bit like theater, isn’t it?) This is a journal to record readings, reactions and notes. The Second piece is a hard bound folder with clear sleeves glued inside to hold cards for various types of readings(back). Mine has 7 sleeves allowing me to do a 3 card, 4 card, 7 card, or any variation thereof type of reading. I made this piece hard bound so that I could open it to stand on its own on my alter to contemplate. The idea is to use them together. Pull your reading, leave it up on your space as long as needed, then record in the journal for later study. I am actually using the journal to make my own notes on the meanings of cards. After reading Mary Greer’s “21 Ways to Read a Tarot Card”, I was taken by all the impressions that one could derive from a single card and/or reading, I plan to use it as a working text for readings.

20130120-204015.jpg

Posted in General Post | 1 Comment

How to Meet People at PantheaCon

PantheaCon provides a great opportunity for meeting other Pagans, some famous and other known mostly in their local communities. One of the best things about attending a conference is getting to meet those people you always wanted to. So if you are attending PantheaCon and want to meet your favorite writer, ritualist, singer, artist, or just plain cool Pagan then here are some helpful hints for you.

Walk up and introduce yourself

Yes it can be just that simple. We are all human and in general enjoy meeting people. Here are some tips to be successful:

  • If the person is with others, make sure that you introduce yourself to the group.
  • Be your self. If you are trying to impress them with some grand title or heritage, it will fall flat. Of course, if there is a real connection, such as you have a common teacher, that would be fine. Finding something in common to talk about is a good idea.
  • Keep it simple. A nice “good morning” or “Hello, is this seat taken” are good ways to start.
  • Prepared to be brushed off. Rejection is not a bad thing, only realistic. Remember we are all human with good and bad days, other concerns, and the need stay both mentally and physically healthy. Many people at PantheaCon are overwhelmed with teaching, keeping up friendships, professional responsibilities, and enjoying the conference. Pay attention to a polite brush off and be graceful.
  • Do not overdo the compliments. Yes, they may be great but if all you do is tell them that, it is hard to connect. Adding the why helps but keep it more engaging. Think about coming up with a statement like “your book is great, it made me rethink how I approach my own ritual style.”

Oh, dear…they are talking with me

Be prepared to answer questions. I have found that some of the most interesting people like to ask questions. Perhaps, they are interesting because they ask lots of questions. You may want to think about simple answers to questions such as what brings you to PantheaCon, what do you do, and what is your Pagan practice. We are all complex beings with lived experiences. I am sure that most of us can take at least an hour just to cover the basics of what brings us to PantheaCon. Avoid the hour long discussion by having an simple one or two minute answer to these questions. If they ask for more, then go ahead and fill in some detail. You may even want a very short 10 second answer ready for those elevator rides…okay for those of us who have experienced the elevators, you should have a little more time.

End on a high note

Remember that other people want to meet them too and it is best to leave when the conversation is going well. If you have been talking for about 15 minutes, you have done well and it may be time to move on. However, it this is a very engaging conversation, which means the other person is talking at least as much as you are then at the 30 minute mark think about thanking them for their time and even exchange contact information.

Meeting People at PantheaCon

Bonus Tip — How to make friends at PantheaCon

First, everyone at PantheaCon is cool. We come together with common interests and share in a community of the conference. We meet people that we would like to become friends with and here are my simple tips on how to begin this process that will take time after the convention had ended.

  • Be likable by listening, smiling, and being polite
  • Do not monopolized the conversation
  • Ask questions
  • Do not try to “top” the other person’s story

Remember that if you try to connect to a person and it is not working, that is okay. We are all in different place in our lives. I have seen some of the same people each year who I would like to get to know but we either just do not click or the timing is wrong. However, it f you just talk with people, be yourself, apply some of these suggestions, you will meet interesting people which may turn into great friendships.

Posted in Classes and Workshops, General Post | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Wheat Class at PantheaCon 2013

PantheaCon 2013 is almost upon us and once again The Woven Circle will be teaching two traditional wheat weaving classes at the convention. The Woven Circle is made up of talented artists who travel to San Jose each year to share their enjoyment of straw art with the Pagan community at PantheaCon.

Our beginning class “Introduction to Wheat Weaving” will be on Saturday at 3:30 in the San Juan/San Carlos rooms. Last year, we had had to turn away students because of the popularity of this workshop. This class focuses on beginning weaving techniques along with straw preparation and sources on books, materials, and local groups. In this class, each student will make at least two pieces of straw art: a Bridget’s Cross and Harvest Knot to bring home. All materials and supplies are provided.

We will be teaching an intermediate class “Intermediate Wheat Weaving” on Sunday at 11:00 in San Carlos for those of you who have taken wheat weaving classes or are advanced hand crafters. This class focuses on intermediate weaving techniques. In this class, each student will make a small Bridget’s Processional using locking and adding techniques. All materials and supplies are provided.

20130128-200044.jpg

The Woven Circle (Angela, Carol, Joe, Chris, and William) is dedicated to teaching arts and crafts as part of our service to the community. Angela (The Straw Witch) is an eclectic Pagan writer and has taught crafts for 20 years. Carol is a bead and fiber artist, who has taught for crafts guilds, both local and regional. William (A Pagan Humanist) has been part of the Pagan community for over 30 years and has been teaching wheat weaving for over 15 years. Joe comes to heckle but in reality is a talented straw artist and a great help. Chris stated out by taking these class and now he is a welcome teacher to the group.

Resources for Straw Art You can buy straw from Black Beard in North Dakota (from Dennis and Sharon Hanson). Also, you can find wheat at Frank’s Cane & Rush Supply (7252 Heil Ave. Huntington Beach, CA 92647 – (714) 847-0707). Both are good places, and good people, to buy from. We recommend two books (yes there are more books but this should start you out just fine):

  • The Book of Wheat Weaving and Straw Craft: from simple plaits to exquisite designs. Morgyn Geoffry Owens-Celli. 1997
  • The Straw Art Companion: Instructions, Projects, and History. Jeffery Paul Jones and Cora A. Hendershot. 2012

The American Museum of Straw Art hosts a spectacular collection of straw art from the US and around the world. Also, there is Wheat Goddesses, which is Cora’s web site with her show schedule. Her work is amazing and if you get a chance, please stop by one of her shows to see all the straw art. Also there is a new site for showcasing international straw art which you can find at StrawBlog.

Posted in Art, Poetry, & Writing, Classes and Workshops | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

2013 Conference on Current Pagan Studies

Pagan Conference LogoThe Conference on Current Pagan Studies (Pagan Conference) is just a month away and for those who have not attended, I would highly recommend you do. Those who have attended keep coming back so I will take that as a recommendation. I have been involved with the conference for the last several years having presented papers, set up a new website, and been the operation manager. I receive no monetary compensation only the knowledge that I am making a difference in the Pagan community.

This year’s theme is Pagan Sensibilities in Action. Pagan perspectives are manifested “as our lived experiences in artistic expression, personal and collective practices, the manner in which we hold power, and other engagements” (from the Call for Papers page). The Pagan Conference actively pursues both well known and interesting practitioners along with active scholars. Being more inclusive sets this conference apart from other academic conferences.

The keynote speakers will be Peter Dybing and Sabina Magliocco along with about 30 scholars from a wide range of disciplines presenting papers, original research, and thought provoking ideas. Papers range from Putting Descartes before the horse: Pagan identities and challenges to serving the Pagan body politic (moderated by Sabina Magliocco with presentations by Joe Futerman, Elizabeth Rose Marini, and Kimberly Kiner) to As Above, So Below: Pagan Theology, Polytheistic Psychology, and Pagan Praxis (presented by Jeffery Albaugh). Although you do not need be to an academic to enjoy this conference, you did need to enjoy interesting lectures.

I am looking forward to hearing from the Pagan History Project with Armando Marini, Aline O’brien, and Sam Webster. I fear that much of our history is maintained only within individual’s memories. I would like to see more work in oral history and am thankful for these and other people’s work to document our history.

The 9th annual Pagan Conference will be on January 26 & 27, 2013 at Claremont Graduate University, Claremont CA. This is a multi-discipline academic conference with participants both inside and outside of the Pagan communities. Also for more information, or for questions, please see the Conference on Current Pagan Studies Facebook Page.

Posted in Classes and Workshops | Tagged | 1 Comment

Gene Roddenberry’s Humanist Legacy

Gene Roddenberry's Humanist LegacyI attended the Star Trek Las Vegas Convention in August 2012. The highlight of the workshops and panels was Rod Roddenberry and John Champion’s on Gene Roddenberry’s Humanist Legacy. They talked about the underlying principles that informed Star Trek. These principles include:

* Equality
* “False God” problem
* Blind Faith
* The enemy isn’t the enemy
* Compassion
* Self determination
* Scientific answer
* Humanity’s true nature
* Freedom

These principles are often explored within Star Trek: The Original Series such as self determination with was a central theme of “The Cage” and it’s reuse in “The Menagerie” or compassion which Kirk shows in the “Arena.” What was very promising from the panel was The Mission Log, a weekly podcast that have recently started exploring these and other themes one episode at a time. My hope is to expand on some of these themes within blog on humanism.

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged | 1 Comment

More Tarot Art

My next tarot art project was designed to take with me to the annual PantheaCon, which is held each year in San Jose, California. I notice that I am always drawn to the tarot classes. I love attending and gathering all the handouts and taking notes which I promptly stick into various books and folders so they are difficult for me to find later. I decided that since I was making the commitment to better understand the cards, I should have all of those notes and useful things available for reference. I decided to make a folder that I could take with me from year to year to gather all those things and use later when I was ready for study. I began with a large piece of heavy gauge paper and folded the bottom up to make two pockets. I then folded it in half. I secured the corners with tiny decorative brads so things would not fall through. I took some drawing paper measured it, folded it in half and sewed it into the fold, so I would have some paper to take notes. With that, I added two more inner pockets (for more storage) and sewed them in with the drawing paper. I finished the ends of the inner pockets sewing up the edges with waxed linen thread. And for decorative interest, I added some beading on the side. On the front, I painted a tarot card that I felt has always spoken to me, the High Priestess.

This folder served me well as I attended all the great classes at PantheaCon 2012. The paper was durable and the folder held up well to all of the traveling back and forth between classes. I will carry it again next year. And I am still using it while I sit down with my handmade tarot journal to begin my journey of discovery. Tarot journal? You ask. That, my dear readers, is another post.

20120801-183233.jpg

Posted in Art, Poetry, & Writing | Tagged | 2 Comments

Tarot Art

Last year I embarked upon a series of interactive art projects utilizing the tarot. I finished the last one this week. My purpose was to create something I could use to interpret the cards, keeping with my commitment to better understand the cards and their meanings. I was inspired to begin these projects by the book Complete Book of Tarot Spreads by Evelin Burger and Johannes Fiebig. This easy to use book gives many ideas for layouts that are clear, concise, and easily tailored to fit anyone’s needs. My thought was to take some of these spreads that one might use throughout the year in their card readings, and create something that you could use for focus. Let me explain. I was first taken by the idea that one could do a reading for the year. Spread 96 is a variation on a reading for the cycle of the year. This variation is a monthly card that cycles through all 12 months. I collaged an accordian fold pocket book that would stand up on my alter. I could tuck a card into a pocket for each month of the year and use as a focus for the big picture of the year. Keeping it on my alter gave me a way to go back throughout the year and reflect. Then, when speaking with William about it, he suggested one could shorten it to four pockets to reflect the Seasons. Great idea! Then it occurred to me, one could use it for really any milestones. The possibilities are endless.

20120727-121844.jpg

Posted in Art, Poetry, & Writing | Tagged , | 7 Comments