Jason Winslade

Jason L. Winslade has been a scholar and practitioner of the Western Mystery Tradition for sixteen years. He recently received his PhD in Performance Studies at Northwestern University, where he researched Western initiation practices and occult theory. He teaches courses on a variety of topics at DePaul University in Chicago, including writing, popular culture and media, performance, occultism, Irish myth and politics, comics, and a popular course on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He has published articles on these topics in various anthologies and academic journals, like The Drama Review and Performance and Spirituality, and his essay on the use of Wicca in the Buffy television program is frequently cited by scholars of popular media. He is a member of the Pagan Studies focus group in the American Academy of Religions, which led to his essay on fire circle practice at Pagan festivals being included in the Handbook of Contemporary Paganism, by Brill Publications. He also has forthcoming articles on occultism and comic books and teaching on Buffy. Jason is a performing artist who specializes in storytelling and ritual performance, having presented his work at various international arts festivals in this country and the U.K. Next fall, he will be teaching for Cherry Hill Seminary, the only graduate level Pagan ministry program in the country.

Occulture Clash

Now that Harry Potter has a permanent place in the collective psyche of Western culture, where does this leave actual magickal practice? In the past, occult practitioners have protested the trivialization of their beliefs and practices in popular culture. But where do we go from here? Can popular culture be a tool for educating the masses about magick? Can you “invoke” Dumbledore? Can you design a ritual based on Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Can you learn about Qabalah or Tarot from a comic book? This workshop discusses the ways in which Paganism and occultism engages and dialogues with popular culture, including ways in which we can integrate the archetypes offered by popular culture into our own evolving practice.

Pagan Studies 101

Recently the American Academy of Religions approved Pagan Studies as a fully realized academic focus group. This move indicates that after decades of skepticism and ridicule, mainstream academia has finally legitimized the study of Paganism as an important field within religious studies. But what is Pagan Studies? Can you get a degree in it? This workshop will cover the basics of this exciting new area and what the possibilities are for researching, publishing, and teaching Pagan Studies. We will also discuss the many issues raised by the presence of Paganism in the halls of academia and the implications of the fact that a good many Pagan Studies scholars are also practitioners. In addition, we will discuss what it means to introduce occult concepts in the classroom. This workshop is for anyone with an academic interest in Paganism and occultism, whether you want to take a college course in it, get a degree in it, publish in it, or you already have.

Sacred Performances

The earliest forms of theatre had strong links to Pagan religious traditions, particularly the Dionysian festivals that saw the birth of Greek tragedy. From the Biblical play cycles of the Middle Ages to the Symbolist dramas of the 1920s, theatre and the sacred have always been intertwined. Occult traditions are no exception. The Elizabethan magician John Dee was intimately involved with the theatre scene of his time, and is said to have inspired both Marlowe and Shakespeare. Aleister Crowley was well known for his infamous Rites of Eleusis, a combination of drama, ritual and performance art. The Theosophical Society has similarly experimented with public dramatic performances as vehicles for esoteric teaching. More recent artists like Alex Grey and Alan Moore have combined esoteric philosophy and practice with performance modes. In this workshop, we will explore the history of occultism in performance, from the Greeks to the present; discuss theories about alchemical theatre and esoteric teaching through performance, and share techniques for successfully incorporating drama into ritual practice.

















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