The 35th Australian Wiccan Conference was held this weekend in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, organised by the Pagan Collective of Victoria. This was the second I’ve been to, the first being on the Hawkesbury River in 2012. I was drawn to the workshop line up knowing I wouldn’t know which to choose because naturally you want to go to them all. When there’s five workshops on at once, you have to choose! Of course there’s always “workshop envy” as you can’t get to everything (I still have workshop envy from AWC 2012!), but I really enjoyed the ones I did go to.
If you’re not familiar with the AWC, it’s a three day event where Pagans of all traditions gather from across the country to socialise, to learn, to celebrate our faith. Each year a different group hosts in a different city/town/region, so accomodation and meals are included in the price. There are numerous workshops run by those who are very proficient in their field about the topic at hand. The work and detail that goes into the presentations are to be commended to those who run them, as is the level of organisation and dedication to those who organise the event as a whole. The Pagan Collective of Victoria did an amazing job this year organising it, with speakers from various states, concerts by KC Guy and Spiral Dance, market stalls, and of course holding the Ostara ritual with the crowning of the Spring Queen as an AWC tradition.
I also really enjoy partaking in rituals of other traditions. As someone who (loosely) practices OBOD Druidry, the Ostara ritual being of the Alexandrian Wiccan tradition was wonderful to partake in, and it was beautiful to see so many people of different branches of Paganism coming together to celebrate the changing season, and to crown the Spring Queen. I love seeing the nuances, the similarities, the melody of voices of those who speak the words of their tradition.
One workshop I went to was about utilising folk lore to create ritual. We created a rite in half an hour, and while very out of my element (I carried the water around consecrating the circle) it brought me back to that “I’m a learner here” mentality that I loved and appreciated. I am someone who forgets that while I know what I know, there’s a tonne of things I don’t know because I haven’t read about it, or it just hasn’t yet come across my studies for whatever reason. I realised at the main ritual that I forgot an aspect of that particular role (splashing the water on the ground) because it’s not something we do within OBOD Druidry, and it’s not something I do within personal practice.
I learnt so much this weekend. I went to camp narrowing down the workshops to “what can I bring into my personal practice” mixed with “what have I always wanted to learn about” and soaked up each discussion. One workshop reminded me of ritual practice that I did quite often when I lived in Sydney, but that has dropped from my practice since moving to the Riverina due to not having a comfortable space to practice in for a period of time (amongst depression, physical pain, excuse and another excuse). But the workshop also went deeper into describing practices that I don’t believe I could have ever conceived of doing. And I loved that!
Next year’s AWC will be held in the Snowy Mountains, which I may have squealed at because it’s my community-region. I had a wonderful conversation with one of those who will be at the forefront of organising next years, an Alexandrian Priestess, and what she envisions as an Elder of our community for the AWC going forward the day before the announcement, and it just brings joy to my heart. I’m absolutely going to next year’s event, and I really hope there isn’t another seven-year lull with my attendance because I feel these events are only going to become better and better.
These gatherings really are one of the most beautiful examples of the Pagan community coming together, leaving ego at the door, and forging friendships that can become life-long.
My one regret from this weekend was not taking a photo with my fellow Horned Gods before ritual.
Photos by Kylie Moroney Photography used with persmission.