If workshops are the flesh of the Changing Times, Changing Worlds Conference, then our Panels are the bones. Panels are where we get to talk to others who may approach spiritual and metaphysical topics from another perspective. We hope to bring together those with valuable information and ideas to compare notes, experiences, and make each other aware of what people approaching the same problem from another direction have learned. We don’t expect to get agreement or even consensus , but to challenge each other with new thoughts and approaches. Audience participation is vital.
As one of the major goals of this con is to foster communication between the different groups who use human (para)normal abilities, do magick, and accept (super)natural experiences, we would like to get people with different perspectives to share what they know about healing, time, invisible beings, life after death, and other subjects so we can learn from each others’ experiences, and get past the words we use to describe them.
Our panels have a more casual format than those in many conferences. We are aiming for the feel of a wonderful conversation in someone’s living room with some great people participating. While our panelists sit at the front, we often move the chairs into a large circle, to encourage others to participate. We also leave an hour between panels in case some want to stay behind and continue the discussion.
Would you like to be a panelist? You don’t need to be a speaker, or even an expert, only to have something to contribute to a discussion about the topic. If you don’t want to be a speaker, but have something you’d like to share, and it would only take 10 minutes, not an hour, this may be a good way to share it. If you’d enjoy a discussion about some metaphysical or spiritual topic with others who have another point of view, this may be a great chance. If there’s no panel this year with a topic you’d like to see discussed, please use the contact form and suggest that we talk about it next year.
Please join the conversations on the facebook group as we pick our panels for this year!
Every year there are certain panels that are variations on themes, approaching subjects from a different angle. Included in these are the book recommendations panel, some sort of divination panel, a healing or healers panel, a shaman/spirit workers panel, and an ancestors panel. We also often pick a myth that can be compared across cultures, or a symbol (from water to earth), and often pick some chronic disease and how to live with and help it. We are not averse to bringing back panels that have been fruitful in past years.
These are the panels we’re suggesting for this year. Let us know if you’d like to be a panelist (or moderator). Every year we suggest about 25 panels and we run the ones that fill with panelists first. If no one signs up as moderator, we’ll find one (or talk one of the panelists into it). If a panel you were looking forward to doesn’t run, let us know, maybe next year it will fill. Each panel needs 3-4 Panelists and 1 moderator.
(pardon us while we get the forms going- until then, you can contact us here.)
Magickal practitioners are often depicted as white bearded wizards or crones. Does this tradition come from magick taking a long time to learn, or does using magick age us? As we get older we often get weaker, slower, and sometimes forgetful. If magick works, why are we not all better looking, healthier, and richer? Are we better at it, or do we lose capacity for magick along with physical and mental strength? Do we use magick less or more as we age? Has it become so natural that we do it all the time and don’t notice it, or like many other efforts, do we not bother when their are better ways to achieve our ends? How does aging influence how people use magick? How do we pass along what we’ve learned to the next generations?
Art as a Spiritual Practice Panel
When our ancestors started painting cave walls, the subject matter and placement made it clear that this was seen as something spirit filled, not just decorative. Even now, an artist often will be in an “altered state” while working. Specific images that apparently came from somewhere else (and are recognized by an unintended viewer) are downloaded into our heads. The art itself, whether painted, sculpted, musical or other forms helps facilitate others entering sacred states. Our panelists will discuss how they work and how they interact with their daimons and muses and others who direct their art.
Ancestor Panel What if your Ancestors are A**holes?
What do you do if your dead relatives are assholes? Well, hopefully it’s not all of them. If you need a familial intermediary, you go back another generation or you go to the next closer relative. But… sometimes that jackenape of a relative is meant to work with you… that, is where it gets tricky… because they are a byproduct of their lifetime, they have baggage and biases etc. it may be that you and (s)he have synergistic issues, and you need to deal with your problem to heal him, or vice versa. Our families, living and dead, are not unmixed blessings, but they are a great resource. Let’s talk techniques for coming to terms with when family pushes buttons.
Boundaries of Religious Freedom
Folks have the freedom to practice as they will, have the right to express their beliefs, but where does the line between their freedom, and crossing the line discrimination against other religions fall? They have the freedom to live inside the confines of their beliefs, but what if that belief endangers others and their differing practice, and even their life and livelihood? At what point does expressing your religious belief become incitement to harm others?
It’s great that Weiser and Llewllyn started publishing books on how to do magick when many of us remember days when Wiccans hand-copied books of shadows from each other. But there are other sources of wisdom that we have inspired, and even instructed us: works of fiction. Starting with fairy tales and folk tales, books of fantasy and magic, and yes, even science fiction, because something as acceptable as ESP was considered a bit “out there” not too many decades ago. Our panelists will recommend old and new favorite books that served them well, and you can read and see what you can find, many that you can even hand to your children, knowing that if they are ready, they’ll find what they need to. We may even share books we’d warn people away from (always with good reasons given). We welcome audience participation in this, as in all panels.
The Challenges of Inclusion-Ritual Panel
When a ritual is being designed, we want the result of the ritual to be available to all who need it. Rituals are often designed to create a change in consciousness, and some aspects of “theater” used might include strobes, smoke and foods to which some are allergic, volume issues for folks who are deaf, sudden noises, ritualistic theatric violence, and unwelcome sexual advances. All of these can be powerful ways of creating emotional responses in the participants, but what is a symbol to some can be a trigger to others.
This is beyond simple questions of making sure your group has accommodations for people in wheelchairs or who have children. Where is the line between toasting with non-alcoholic mead or wine because one of your group is sensitive to alcohol, and doing something that makes the ritual ineffective for everyone because a small portion would be excluded. We will not find a one-fits-all-situations answer, but the discussion may help us when planning future rituals.
City Spirits Panel
Most of us tend to think of paganism as a nature-based religion, but traditionally Cities all had their patron dieties (Athena and Athens, Atun and Amarna, Bath and Sulis), but modern cities have their patrons as well (like Lady Liberty for the USA). There are other spirits as well, less often considered but whose presence is clear if you seek them: the spirits of bridges, subways, skyscrapers, Squat- the giver of parking spots…(I don’t park 6 levels underground without leaving some change as an offering to whatever it is down there… just in case). Let’s talk about these spirits and the best ways to interact with them.
Communion with the Gods Panel
How do we know what the gods prefer in respecting them? Can we apply “peer review” do this quesiton? We look to the lore and folk stories, or literary works, but use personal gnosis as well. How do you feel about this approach? How do we “vett” knowledge gained that way? Pathworking is individual, as varied as the sands on the beach, how can peer review be applied? Some believe “anything goes”, “whatever works”, snf fluidity is more important than formality, and this approach makes it into a plethora of books. How do we separate the grain from the chaff? Academic vs personal experience? When there is so much information, how do we stay informed, educated, and able to screen sources, especially since we don’t have a accepted core set of formal literature?
Conveying Bad News Panel:
This one is for healers and diviners, and spiritual helpers. How do you tell someone that their condition is not going to get better? That the one the client loves is not going to leave spouse and family for them? How do you help people understand that they need to take responsibility for their own problems, without sounding like you’re blaming the victim, but really, they are the only one who can help themselves? How can you tell someone something they need to hear, when they don’t want to hear it…? We’re in this because we want to help, but even when it breaks our hearts, sometimes we can’t bridge the gap. Many of us find it unacceptable to lie, but the truth isn’t something they want to see, or maybe something we want to tell. Panelists will share their experiences and best advice for this hard challenge.
Dream/ Dreamwork Panel
What is your approach to dream interpretation? How do you make sense of the symbols, people, and content of our dreams? There are many layers to dreams, reflecting not just our own inner consciousness, our life experiences and the people whom we’ve come into contact, but also the culture and experiences that make up that culture. The dreams encompass our beliefs, our assumptions, our knowledge, and presence of the gods and ancestors. Dreams can range from “taking out the garbage”, to communing with the Gods, and Ancestors, or processing the stuff we have experienced, but haven’t had time to process. We can learn about ourselves, and get visions about friends, family, and Gods’ directions in our lives. But how do we know what is garbage or not? How do we remember our dreams? How do we make sense of the layers of the dreams? Stay tuned! Panelists may also talk about work we do in dreams.
Ethics of Magick Panel
To Hex or not to Hex, The Wiccan Rede, the 9 Nobel Virtues and other wisdom lore address ethics of using magick. Some people believe in the Rede, others do not, and follow a more eye-for-an-eye approach to magic retaliation. Some believe in the threefold law. Some belief in nature having its own balance, and so law of conservation dictates matter cannot be created nor destroyed, is that true with Magic? When we put our energy out there, does intent and purpose change us? Them? Have you personally suffered or seen a curse in action? What do you believe and why?
Faeries Panel– Diminutive and cute, or Beautiful and Terrible?
Most people’s first exposure to fairies came via Disney, or maybe by some Victorian era storybook which featured cute little sprites that live in flowers. Yet if we look back at traditional folk sources, we find something quite different. The Good Neighbors are great powers, inspiring awe and terror. On the other hand, some of us have dealt with what present as small fairies of the stories, if they are not fae, what are they? Let’s talk about the dangers of trusting the modern viewpoint on them and how to avoid getting yourself in trouble when dealing with the Fair Folk.
Global Warming (Weirding) Panel
Climate Change (“you’re soaking in it”). Our take on the debate over climate change, politics vs scientific community, including our role as custodians of this earth and our spiritual paths. Climate change refers to the warming of our climate’s global temperatures, with effects include the melting of the ice caps, worsening of storms, changes in the jet-stream and currents in the ocean, the salinity level of the oceans, affecting life in the ocean. How does the spiritual community see these changes? Do you accept the Gaia Hypothesis? How do they affect the magical workings we do? Does it likewise affect our balance as well? What do we already do, or can we do to do our part to inform, educate, and enact actions to help resolve this imbalance?
Many of us use herbs in our practice, for healing, and for magickal purposes. We talk to plants, as we grow, harvest and prepare them. But there are as many ways to use herbs are there are practitioners. Come listen to our panelists describe their relationships to herbs and ask questions you may have been wondering who to ask. If we have four panelists, we may well have five or more answers to each question.
House Spirits Panel
Our panelists will talk about their experiences with house spirits/ Brownies, what they’ve seen personally or heard second hand, how do you contact them? Support / feed them/ attract them if your house or apartment doesn’t seem to have one? How do you get them to come along when you move? Where do they stay(under the sink like a house elf in Harry Potter)? Come if you have questions or stories to share.
“In Too Deep” Panel
Divination can’t make a decision for you, it can only give you more information. If your problem is overload, this is NOT going to help. The Gods won’t make decisions for you, and frankly, any spirit who is willing to do so probably shouldn’t.
Is an hour a day of automatic writing too much? How many times a day do you go to your altar? Are you talking to your spirit guide more than your spouse? Or perhaps you have a friend who you think is out of balance, what if anything can you do to help?
Panelists will discuss how to know if there’s too much religious / spiritual / psychic activity in your life, and how to disengage if you decide that it is too much.
“I want THAT spell!” Panel
Have you ever watched a movie and wanted to know how to do one of spells, from handlight to lighting a candle with a motion? (We are not talking about animating a gargoyle to ride on, but potentially possible ones.) Our panelists will take suggestions from the audience and suggest how we might, in the real world, get that spell (remembering always the lessons of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice story). Don’t expect to be able to fly or to repel bullets, but there are some things, like finding lost objects, that we may be able to brainstorm something workable.
Magical Tattoos Panel
Tattoos go beyond simple body decoration; they are often symbolic, showing cultural and personal identity. We may not know what Otzi the Iceman’s tattoos meant- but they show that people have been using tattooing for thousands of years. The tattoos of the Pacific Islanders tell stories, and reinforce identity, and there are many magickal signs and symbols permanently binding gods and their followers. Our panelists will share their experiences with the effects of these contracts “drawn in blood”.
Magic will change your life. Is that a good thing?
Anyone who has worked in a magical tradition or simply interacted with being or energies outside the realm of typical mundane experience knows that doing so is life altering. Glitzy workshops promise enlightenment as a result. But are those changes always positive? It’s said in many traditions that working magic exacts a price. Join us to talk about both the joys and the sorrows that come of following this path.
Myth Panel- Creation myths:
Almost all cultures have them, but what purpose do they serve in cultural transmission? What part does it play in establishing the validity of dieties, and relationship between the people and their land, their gods, their holidays and festivities? How does this tie into the rites of passage?
Occult Jigsaw Puzzle Panel, Forcing Correspondences:
You can find books with lists and charts of correspondences to use in your magickal work: which tarot card represents the same energy as which rune or Sephirot, or chakra or astrological sign. This drives some of us crazy. There are many real correspondences out there- the Sun and the metal gold and fire, masculine energy, these are the correspondences on which alchemy is based. But when people see that there’s a sun and a moon in the tarot and then try to make the various runes match up to tarot cards or astrological signs, the systems break down and chaos reigns. Come and share in this discussion where panelists will try to figure out which correspondences work and which are forced. Often the problems with such meshing are due to the fact that these systems can be meshed without an understanding or care for the culture of which they originated. This is a form of misappropriation, because these systems are inseparable from the context of culture and language. And sometimes- they just don’t work.
Let’s get a bunch of experienced readers to explore techniques that work best for them! How do you characterize hand shapes: round or square, or psychic, philosophers, spatulate? or earth/air/fire/and water? Have you seen lines change during readings? How do you compare the right and left hands? Do you read the fingerprints? Do you read from prints or scanned hand images? Is your tradition European, Indian, Chinese, or very eclectic? How do you (if you do) read the number of children or marriages? There are many differences, and many similarities in palm reading systems, it will be fun to compare them.
Raising Psychic or Magic Children Panel
Is there anything we worry about more than what we’re teaching our children? They are born with so much potential, we want them to be as powerful as they can be, and still not be hurt. How do we help them develop their talents and abilities, to do what we do, or more than what we do, safely and respectfully. How do we protect them from the world that doesn’t want them to be extraordinary- and the dangers of the worlds that are? How do we teach them to keep things we know to be OK secret so they won’t be teased, yet let them know not to be ashamed? Let’s share what we’ve learned, and hope it will make all our children’s lives easier.
Reincarnation: To be or not to Be? The afterlife permeates almost all faiths, and beliefs, lore and folktales, theatre and entertainment. It is meshed with all of our existence. But, there are many interpretations of what that afterlife entails, based in culture/religious beliefs, and social norms. What is legacy? What is immortality? Out of body experiences? Universal consciousness? What fuels our abilities? Inherited from past lives? Why do we rarely remember our past lives? Would we want to remember? What would be the purpose of reincarnating when it wouldn’t be a continuance of the last life? We hope to get panelists with many different views to compare.
Rites of Passage Panel: Marriage:
Marriage as a rite of passage: It governs the personal relationship, our relationship and status to others in society and our extended family, has ties to economics, legality, and religious values. It includes many forms, from mono, to poly, to same-sex unions, and governs all aspects of our lives. that framework is evolving, as is the national cultural discussion on the institution of marriage.
Runes and the Havalmal Panel:
How the sayings of the wise one, and the Runes are direct representations of the culture of which they originated, from norms, symbology, to expectations in interaction between people. They also shed light onto the values and commodities, ethics and resources of tools and geography, which constructed the world in which the Norse lived and interacted on a daily basis.
Rune Panel: The Rune Poems
Modern Rune users often make use of the Rune Poems: the Icelandic Rune Poem, the Norwegian Rune Poem, and the Anglo-Saxon Rune Poem (and their translations) to help understand what the symbolic meanings of the runes. The runes have been in use for 17 centuries, and the number and symbols have changed over that time, it would be more surprising if the symbolism of the runes didn’t change, than if it did. The people who used the runes for magick or divination have also interpretted the runes according to their culture and personal experience, and modern users do too. What do you do when a rune (like P) doesn’t appear in the poems, or reference is cryptic? Where does UPG (it works in practice) fall into fair practice? If we have three runemasters, we may have four or five perspectives on these questions!
Rune Panel: the Aetts (or aitts)
The Futharc is organized into three rows Feoh’s aett, Hagal’s aett, and Tyr’s aett. (although there are variations in the names of runes and their positions, and the number in each family is different in the elder and younger futharc and there are more in the Anglo-Frisian variation). This organization provides a tool for rune users, sometimes used in doing readings or workings. Our panelists will discuss the ways they use the aetts.
Sacred Hospitality Panel
What do you do if you feel that Sacred Hospitality requires you to feed any guest in your home, but you also feel that it is the sharing of food that binds the guest and host together, and you really don’t like the buddy that one of your friends brought along? Does your belief system allow you some escape clause like “I gave him milk, not water, so it’s not a breach of etiquette to run a tent-stake through his head.” Many ancient cultures had limitations- a guest bond only lasted three days, for example.
In a multi-cultural world we don’t have common rules; most of the modern world isn’t even aware of the sacred nature of the guest- host bond. But what one culture considers required, another may consider forbidden. Let’s bring some of these unexpressed beliefs into the light and examine them in the light of the modern world and our personal experiences with the gods and beings of other realms?
Shaman Panel- Hauntings and Apparitions
Our panel of shamans will talk about dealing with the spiritual world. They will discuss how to prepare a haunted place, and prepare yourself for interacting with or cleansing the dwelling of unfriendly spiritual beings and influences, or helping friendly ones. They’ll discuss their experiences in dealing with the spiritual world, and how expectation, effects experiences, and practices, and how to tell between non-sentient negative energy pools, and entities that have an agenda (at odds with those living there).
Theatrically Magickal “Stuff” Panel
Many use theatrical techniques to create the altered states for Magic. Some adorn costumes, some surround themselves with props and theatrics, sexuality, and where some partake of helping substances to achieve altered states, for magic and self-exploration, and enlightenment. Some swear by it, others are turned off by “props and costumes”, and question its validity. Magic is not always explained by science, and often shrouded in myth and lore. Where is the balance? How do we make the experiences safe, if we do partake? If they are safe, will they work? What are the ethical factors? What are some considerations people have run into?
Technology, curse or blessing Panel
Technology surrounds us, information age, they say. As technology encroaches into every aspect of our existence, too, how has that affected our practices? The value of silence, is it harder to achieve)? Ancestral veneration’s still have a role in our lives? So many people live in the now, the past is “dated”, people aren’t paying attention to history as much, how does that affect our connection to the past, our own past? People argue that online and technology is swallowing our attentions, and our interactiveness in person-to-person suffers, is that the same with the Gods? Are we making ourselves unavailable? Personally, American Gods came into mind here… What are our “Modern gods”, and are they at war with the older gods?
Things everybody knows that are wrong panel
Things we think we know, but don’t: Often, when we start on our paths, we delve in, soak up everything like a sponge, and sometimes wring out, repeat. But, often experience, and knowledge gained lends itself to a re-analysis of what we know, which is a common practice in language learning, academic learning, but how often do we revisit our “basics” and really return to our root knowledge to see what new things we can learn and re-understand with a more learned eye? For me, it came when someone asked me to be their teacher, and I had to really think about my understanding of the basics of my path, and what I truly understood and know. Its an opportunity. Next also is what do you look for in learning about a group to join? People always assume they know enough of the dangers, but yet people hear everyday about people getting into the wrong stuff, the wrong group for them, so, how do you know?
Panelists: is there something specific that “everyone knows” that you worry about? Here’s your chance to point it out.
Other possible panels coming soon- Channeling Panel, Ceremonial Food- magic food, food for special occasions, Dance, Drugs & psychedelics in spiritual practice, the Grail Cycle, Handwork as a spiritual practice, Pollution (what makes something/someone unclean? What sticks?), if you are interested in any of these and they are posted, contact Programming. We want to have the panels you want to attend and be on.
Come on over to our facebook page, join, comment, and share your ideas on what you’d like to see panels cover. Even if we don’t run a certain panel, we can discuss the topic in the fb group.
Please contact us if you would like to suggest an addition to this list, or be on a panel, or moderate one.