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26th-28th Ecumenicon Interfaith Conference; Beltsville, MD

Apr 26

Registration is open at for April 26-28, with our business meeting being held on Thursday night, April 25. Call the Comfort Inn in Beltsville to book your room, (301) 572-7100.

We all knew this day was coming . . .

When we started 15 years ago with the Year of the Fool, we would eventually come to The Year of the Devil.

2013 is that Year.

With all the public-relations work the minority religions have had to do, to prove to the conventional/conservative world that we're not evil . . . to now actually put the Devil right out there in front of God and Everybody . . . and yet still make it clear that we're not worshipping it?

Now there's a branding challenge.

So we commissioned the fabulous Evan Keeling to give us a graphic that gets away from the traditional "devil" image . . . and instead, show how Good and Evil are often opposite sides of the same Coin!

Or apple, in this case . . . one side poisoned, one side clean.
Snow White/Malificent. Angel Wing/Bat Wing. Dove/Owl.
Leafy branch/Barren branch.

And in the middle of it all, the Infinity Loop with its Shades of Grey . . . Neither Good nor Evil.

Think about this as you conjure up class proposals for this year.

As of now, I am aiming to put classes into Four Tracks. For the Devil theme, they are:

1. The Question of Evil -- Why do bad things happen to good people? Various religions have come up with their own answers to this question. And not just for the individual person, but for whole generations and societies, especially those subject to natural disasters or acts of war. Bring your religion's perspective on this.

2. Duality and Reality -- Is Evil always what it seems? Or is it merely a matter of subjective, personal aversion to what makes us uncomfortable? Bring your strategies for seeing past the illusion.

3. The Road to Fair Elfland -- named after the folk song, "Thomas the Rhymer," where the Queen of Elfland shows Thomas three roads: the thorny one leads to Heaven, the easy one to Wickedness, and the "bonnie" road to Elfland. Bring your experiences of taking the Middle Path.

4. And, back by popular demand, Defense Against the Dark Arts -- How do you protect yourself from attacks of "lower astral" entities, as well as purely human entities who are trying to poison your mind? Lots of opportunities for hands-on workshops here -- bring `em!

Some highlights I'm working on:

* Chief Weaving Eagle and Three-Blade Jaguar have approached me about bringing their Burning Times Memorial to Ecumenicon: a powerful (and astonishingly well-researched) Ritual that brings you face-to-face with man's inhumanity to man throughout the ages, complete with an appearance by the "Devil" himself. You can't control him unless you name him.

* I am aiming to bring back Lydia Evakise, a torture survivor from Cameroon who was very popular last year, to tell her story of her culture's extremes and what people can do to combat this kind of Evil.

* As Shiva the Destroyer is one of the Gods who most directly addresses The Question of Evil, we will have a Puja to Lord Shiva that is as authentic as a non-Brahmin can make it.

* It is not only religions that persecute; sometimes religion itself is persecuted, as we saw in Soviet Russia and Communist China. And in literature, we can have societies with no religion at all. The Hunger Games is like a world that has all the planets except Jupiter! My Fantasy Without Faith workshop was a big hit at Darkover; I'll be reprising it here.

* We'll be going back to the Garden of Eden for a fresh look at "The Fall" -- an astrological perspective, involving Gemini and Sagittarius, that's probably unlike any other you've heard before. This is an excerpt from my new book-in-progress, Sane Christianity.

* Do we have any Piers Anthony fans among us? His 7-book series The Incarnations of Immortality present "Satan" as a saboteur, a man who is doing a job that nobody else wants! Yet even he falls in love with Gaia, and his curse eventually leads to a great blessing in the final book. Here's a great opportunity for someone to write a ritual with all the Incarnations as characters.

In fact, the whole Fantasy genre is loaded with philosophies about the nature of Evil. I recently discovered the "Madame Xanadu" series, where the Seer is constantly challenged by an enigmatic Tall Dark Stranger to allow Evil to happen, to prevent an even greater Evil. I would love to have someone who is more well-read than I, to bring more examples of these.

* The "entity of ultimate evil" was not always a ubiquitous feature of orthodox religion. He started out as a prosecuting attorney, whose job was to expose evil, not create it. I'd love for someone to bring a workshop of the History of the "Satan," showing how popular perception of him devolved over time.

To apply to be a Teacher, contact Con Chair Rosanna Tufts, or call (443-860-9604).

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