Pagan Phoenix Spring Conference
12th March 2022
At the Parkhouse Centre in Bude.
“Twenty-First Century Tarot”
Approaching Bude in the early morning, we travelled along Bencoolen Road with a bright double rainbow seeming to lead our way to our new venue and the long prepared for the conference day. Our 2020 conference was the last opportunity for Pagans in our region to get together and we looked forward to a return to happier times and a day of celebration, erudition, and fun for all of us.
After the loss of our long term venue due to the pressures of the pandemic, the organising team were faced with the task of finding a new home for the conference. Once this was achieved, we then had to try to work out all the extra logistics of holding an event elsewhere with different amenities. We also had to make some difficult decisions over what we could or could not do. Then we took the plunge and hoped that our attendees were ready to move beyond the trials of the past two years.
The conference team visited our new venue, the Parkhouse Centre at Bude twice before the event and were pleased with the facilities on offer. As well as a large hall with great acoustics and well-equipped with PA, screens, WiFi and other facilities, there was a separate room for stalls, two lovely workshop rooms, kitchen and serving facilities, lots of social space, level wheelchair access to all areas, and a state of the art disability loo, amongst other things. Additionally, the venue is located in the centre of Bude; it is close to the shore and next to the castle, with plenty of public parking close by.
On conference day the team arrived at 7.30am to get the venue ready. This allowed the stallholders plenty of time to get their tempting range of Pagan wares and magically inspired crafts prepared for a fantastic Pagan shopping experience. Thanks to a couple of volunteers from the catering trade, we were able to set up the kitchen to provide basic refreshments and snacks during the day. This year as a welcome back to the Pagan Phoenix Southwest conference, we offered a free lunchtime pasty on us to all attendees who bought tickets online.
At last, the wait was over, the doors opened at 9.30 am and we welcomed people into the venue. Levannah as Master of Ceremony welcomed everyone to the Pagan Phoenix Southwest Spring Conference 2022. She led us in the ‘Isis Prayer of Awakening’ by deTraci Regula, our traditional Prayer to the Goddess Isis. Then she guided people into our magical day with an attunement meditation.
Our conference was held in honour of Pamela Colman Smith (1878 –1951), an artist, and occultist. Bude was, of course, the home of this legendary Tarot artist for many years, so we hoped that this celebration of Tarot for the 21st Century at our first Bude event would be a good way to honour the memory of a woman whose images are used throughout the world and loved by many of us. She was also known as Pixie, and today she is extensively celebrated for illustrating the 1909 Rider Waite (Smith) tarot deck (RWS). Waite is credited for designing the RWS but he was not an artist and was focused on the occult and astrological concepts.
Pixie’s imagery upon the cards is her vision. Pixie’s lasting legacy is a pictorial innovation that launched more than a thousand tarot decks.
By the time of the conference, more than 70 years have passed since Pixie’s death, and her original drawings of the RWS are in the public domain. Bencoolen House in Bude was Pixie’s final home. After her death, her possessions were auctioned off to pay her debts. Pixie was likely buried in Bude in an unmarked grave.
Conference day featured three talks on the tarot from, Rachel Pollack (live online) ‘Rachel in conversation with Levannah Morgan‘, Robert Ansell ‘The Scent of the Secret Rose: Ithell Colquhoun and the Tarot‘, and Julian Vayne ‘Transformation of the Tarot‘.
For the first time at the Pagan Phoenix SW conference, we included three parallel workshops. The choice of workshops consisted of ‘Demystifying The Business of Tarot’ with Anna Shepherd, ‘Court Cards and Elements’ with Levannah Morgan, or ‘Past Life and Ancestral Tarot’ with Michele TW.
Audience members had often asked us to provide workshops as part of the conference experience but this has been impossible up to now because there was no suitable space at our old venue. Our new venue has well-equipped workshop spaces and we hope the attendees enjoyed the workshops that we provided.
This year we had a new raffle maestro, he most certainly was most capable of encouraging people to buy tickets and an excellent choice for future events. A big thank you to the stallholders who kindly donated their wonderful Pagan wares to the raffle. And let us not forget a big thanks to you for your generous donations to the 5th elephant stall. We are also grateful for the anonymous donation to our chosen charity.
You will be pleased to hear that you helped to raise £500 for Ukraine humanitarian relief.
The Conference day concluded with a Closing Attunement. Followed by, Merv Davy (former Grand Bard of Cornwall and Cornish Piper) and Alison (his Drummer) leading everyone in the traditional Spiral Dance.
To help to bring the energy of Spring into your hearts and add to the spirit of the day.
And we come to the end of a great day of meeting old and new friends, of generally meeting like-minded magical folk in actual real-life person, or more plainly put, ‘People’ after all this long, long time apart.
Thank you to everyone who attended and, hence, supported our local conference. It was great to see people we knew and get to know those who attended for the first time. Thank you for making it a great day for everyone. We also thank the tremendous speakers and workshop leaders for giving us a varied and interesting programme.
Pagan Phoenix is a not-for-profit company; we are there purely to support the Pagan community and everyone who helps out volunteers their services for free. We are grateful to them all, and if you think you can help in any way and would like to volunteer for future events, please do get in touch via the website contact page.
Bright Blessings from the Pagan Phoenix Team
Following below are the descriptions of talks, workshops, bios and links of the day.
Speakers at the Conference
Tarot legend Rachel Pollack (author of Seventy Eight Degrees of Wisdom and creator of The Shining Tribe Tarot) joins us live online from the USA. ‘Rachel will be in conversation with Levannah Morgan‘ and there will be opportunities for audience questions.
This conversation will range widely across Tarot and related subjects. Rachel suggests we might apply the maxim coined about quantum physics by Richard Feynman: “If you think you understand it, you’re doing it wrong” to divination, as a way of explaining her own approach to Tarot: “The mistake, to me, is to try and understand it.” The depth of Rachel’s knowledge and wisdom is extraordinary and her approach is always fresh, insightful and unexpected. We may also get to talk about the Goddess and magic, and Rachel’s career as a writer of SF, fantasy and graphic novels, amongst other things…
Bio. Rachel Pollack is the author of 41 books, including two award-winning novels, Unquenchable Fire, winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, and Godmother Night, winner of the World Fantasy Award. She has also written a series of books about Tarot cards known around the world, a book of poetry, Fortune’s Lover, and has translated, with scholar David Vine, Sophocles’s “Oidipous Tyrannos,” ( “Oedipus Rex”) under the title Tyrant Oidipous. She designed and drew her own Tarot deck, The Shining Tribe Tarot. With artist Robert Place she has created two more decks, The Burning Serpent Oracle, and The Raziel Tarot. She has taught and lectured on four continents. For eleven years she taught in Goddard College’s MFA writing program. Rachel lives in New York’s Hudson Valley. https://www.rachelpollack.com/
Robert Shehu-Ansell The Scent of the Secret Rose: Ithell Colquhoun and the Tarot
In 1977, the Newlyn Gallery in Cornwall exhibited a series of 78 tarot designs quite unlike any previous. Bold and complex, these strange works employed a radical non-figurative approach that seemed to reject long-held notions of tarot symbolism. The artist was Ithell Colquhoun, then aged 70. Who was Colquhoun and why did she produce these designs? And why then, toward the end of her long career as an artist? Fully illustrated with examples of her card designs and other archival images, this talk will explore Colquhoun’s long relationship with the tarot, from 1930–1977. Beginning with her work while at the Slade School of Fine Art, c. 1930, it will trace the development of her thinking from the early figurative approaches to the fully abstract Taro as Colour. Throughout, we will explore her fascination with the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and in particular, the way these interests became conflicted with her involvement with Surrealism, c. 1940.
Bio. Robert Shehu-Ansell is a publisher, curator and independent scholar. An experienced public speaker, he occasionally lectures on his field of expertise – esoteric art of the 20th century with a specific focus on Austin Osman Spare. Through his publishing company FULGUR PRESS he has represented esoteric artists in book form since 1992. Robert is also the publisher of several series publications, including Black Mirror and Abraxas Journal, which has been described as ‘today’s pre-eminent voice for the serious study of occult and esoteric expression.’ https://fulgur.co.uk/
Julian Vayne Transformation of the Tarot
The tarot beautifully illustrates how magic can be discovered in everyday life. From its literal origins to its mythical ancestry Julian will explore both the back-story of cards and their future in the digital age. A tarot practitioner for over 40 years Julian discusses how to use the deck magically as well as what happens in the process of divination. A presentation featuring humour, history and cutting edge magical ideas is definitely on the cards!
Bio. Julian Vayne is a British independent scholar and author with over three decades of experience within esoteric culture: from Druidry to Chaos Magick, from indigenous Shamanism through to Freemasonry and Witchcraft. Julian is a senior member of the Magical Pact of the Illuminates of Thanateros and is widely recognized as one of Britain’s leading occultists. https://julianvayne.com/
Workshops at the Conference
We are very pleased to announce that for the first time, we will be including workshops at the 2022 Pagan Phoenix conference. Audience members have often asked us to provide workshops as part of the conference but this has been impossible up to now because there was no suitable space at our old venue, Penstowe. Our new venue, the Parkhouse Centre in Bude, has well-equipped workshop spaces and we hope you will enjoy the workshops that we will provide.
Workshops will be included in the conference programme from 2-3 pm. There will be three parallel workshops and you will be asked to choose which you wish to attend and sign up when you arrive at the venue. The spaces do have fire limits, so we will allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, and if your first choice is full, you will be asked to choose again. We think all three of the workshops are equally interesting and lovely so we hope you will be happy with the choices you make.
The three workshops are:
Anna Shepherd: The Magician and The Queen ~ Demystifying The Business of Tarot
How many of us have wondered if we are ‘good enough’ to take our Tarot practice up as a business? What can we use to get over what holds us back and what are the benefits and pitfalls of getting out into the Tarot Reading Community? Taking her own journey as an introduction of how (and how not) to go about it, Anna Shepherd will help you to navigate your way forward into your professional practice. Using the potent process of guided visualisation you will meet with The Magician and The Queen of Pentacles for their advice and medicine. Please bring a deck of Tarot cards with you and a pen and paper for note taking.
Bio. Anna Shepherd is best known as the amazing Sacred Trust chef, but she is also a renowned tarot reader of 30 years experience who has created her business Ditchwitchtarot to help people navigate through the tangled web of life. She offers private, personal consultations with the tarot for those who are in need of guidance via email, pre-recorded or live video link, according to individual preference. Working with the wisdom of the tarot for the client’s highest and best good is the sound base from which all Ditchwitchtarot readings unfold. https://linktr.ee/ditchwitchtarot
Levannah Morgan: The Court Cards and the Elements: Tarot for creative writing and other artwork.
The court cards are often considered to be one of the more difficult aspects of the Tarot. In this workshop, you will learn about the elemental attributions of the various kings, queens, knights and princesses/ pages and how to work with them not only in readings but also in creative work. They can be used as the basis for creating characters for stories or film scripts, and in other kinds of art and creative work. The workshop will include some practical exercises and you will find it helpful to bring a notebook or sketchbook and something to write with. You will be provided with tarot images that you can take away and use in your own work.
Bio. Levannah Morgan is a witch and experienced Tarot practitioner. She has worked in the film industry and higher education for many years and has developed methods that teach screen-writers, novelists and other creative people how to use Tarot as the basis for character and story development.
Michele TW: Past Life and Ancestral Tarot.
This workshop explores the self through the medium of tarot and unconscious memory. Tarot is the language of the human condition; it is an excellent pictorial and symbolic vehicle to explore life’s more philosophical and profound questions. Our souls evolve over many lifetimes and each personality gains insights from multiple points of being. By tapping into these messages and stories, we can tackle issues in our own lives without needing to experience them firsthand. Ultimately, we can work towards being the best past life or best ancestor for our descendants to connect with in another time and place.
We will be reading a spread as a group activity using the Rider Waite Smith majors. Participants will be able to access an online PDF after the workshop with some of the material presented on the day. You do not need to take notes or have a deck.
Bio. Michele TW is a Pagan, a Shamanic Practitioner, and holds a BA (Hons) in Fine Art. She first met the tarot in her teens and has studied the discipline in-depth for over 20 years along with other divination techniques. Michele has been involved in community-focused Paganism in Devon and Cornwall since 1999. https://journeysinotherworlds.wordpress.com/