The Occult Conference: 2011 Glastonbury

I arrived back from the breathtakingly mystical Glastonbury feeling thoroughly buzzed after the Occult Conference on Saturday. What a great gathering of people and the highlight of what turned out to be a perfectly magical weekend. You just know that a conference is going to be interesting when the compere is an outrageously busty, black-corseted, foul-mouthed comedian called Grim Rita. I find it tremendously encouraging that the occult circuit is vibrant enough as a habitat to sustain what clearly must be the ultimate niche comedic form (occult stand-up).

Happily, I got to meet and hang out with what are probably some of the sharpest minds in western magic. Somewhat inevitably we drank a few too many pints on Saturday evening. We deserved them. A lot of magic got talked that day:

We heard from Kim Huggens; who with a surprisingly large amount of detail drawn from various cultures as far ranging ancient Greece, Haiti and China, described how one might go about surviving a zombie apocalypse. Forewarned is forearmed!

We also heard about the subtle interconnections between Philip K. Dick, Jack Parsons and the Nag Hammadi material, from Paul Weston.

I then spoke about the possibility of learning from the underlying magical patterning imbedded within New World magics as a viable strategy for developing new culturally and geographically specific spell-craft of our own.

The luminaries of apocalyptic witchcraft; Peter and Alkistis from Scarlet Imprint hypnotically wove together the chthonic streams of thought behind their forthcoming title, Abominations.

Finally, with great wit and intelligence Jake Stratton-Kent (necromancer to the stars*) unpacked why the rather conspicuous absence of the Dead from later western magic and their restoration in fact holds the key to the Western Tradition's future. As one might expect at a gathering such as this a distinct necromantic theme managed to emerge in almost all of these talks creating a powerful interplay between much of the material presented.

Peter and Alkistis from Scarlet Imprint on the left, with me on right. Thanks to Cynthia Caton for sharing her photo with me.
Special thanks to Jake Stratton-Kent and Misha for their warmth and encouragement before my talk. I had a slight case of the butterflies but they put me completely at ease.  Also, a very special thanks to Jamie who with tremendous grace and effortless efficiency managed to keep everything flowing perfectly whilst simultaneously curbing the the black clad hordes from raising the dead right there on the conference grounds.

On Sunday morning my husband and I took some time to explore the landscape of Glastonbury and were seriously impressed by the power the place holds.

We took a tour of the Abbey, and appropriately, I noticed the three Magi; Caspar, Melchior and Balthazar (top left corner) making their way through the nativity scene on horseback, carved over an entrance...

Later, standing in the Abbey ruins right in front of the spot where King Arthur was supposed to have been entombed, we looked up and noticed that an exquisite sun circle had formed; a circular rainbow, formed by ice crystals high up in the atmosphere. I did my best to take a picture of it (below). If you look closely you will see the edge of the rainbow-ring beneath the birds.

Naturally, this meteorological phenomena dazzled us with an inordinate amount of significance, as we stood on that hallowed ground looking up into crisp blue sky. Oh cosmic alignment!

I looked for  a small stone in the grass outside, hoping to anchor the magic of that moment in some way. I divined quickly with four coins whether the spirits of the land would allow me to keep it. Yes. We then asked someone at the exit whether we were allowed to keep pebbles found on the grounds, and were informed that as long as nothing was vandalised we were indeed allowed to keep a pebble. Glad to hear it, I slipped it into my jacket pocket.

We then found our way to Chalice Well - the place where Joseph of Arimathea is said to have buried or washed the holy grail only to have a spring gush forth. And the water truly does taste of blood. I spent a few hours there reading a new book in the shade listening to the water murmur pleasantly.

Refreshed, surprised and delighted we returned to Amsterdam. It really is a deeply fascinating, spiritually stirring place, Glastonbury. 

I can't wait to see it again.

*Grim Rita's words!


  1. Yep. Good town. Fantastic part of the world.

    Also: Loving the new haircut. (Or possibly just blog photo. Whatever, it still rocks.)

  2. Thanks for the compliment G, change is as good as a holiday, they say. ;0)

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed your talk at the conference. It's a topic I think about a great deal and it was interesting to hear someone else's uptake.
    Would never have guessed you had butterflies - you were fab!

  4. Thanks Lyn, I am glad to hear it!

  5. Thank you so much for attending, sorry myself and Jamie didn't get more of a chance to talk to you, but we're glad you enjoyed.

  6. Thanks for the kind words Mr Beelzebub xx

  7. No worries! You guys had your hands full. @Grim Rita: my pleasure ;0)

  8. This was the first conference of this kind I have attended and I was really impressed with both the organisation and the vareity and quality of the speakers. I didn't manage to see as many of the talks as I wanted to because there were just so many interesting people to talk to, but I did see yours and found it really useful. You didn't look or sound nervous either!
    Many thanks to yourself and all who contributed to the event.

  9. Great to meet up with you at Glastonbury.
    Drop us an email, not sure that we have you on our list. Sure we have some more to discuss...

  10. Ahh, what an awesome mix of people, and in the one magical spot I've been wanting to visit above all others! Jealous does not describe the feeling ;)

    The pictures are amazing, by the way; especially the one of the wellhead.