Report from the 17th Pagan Study Conference

The 17th Annual Conference on Current Pagan Studies was held January 16–17

Christopher Harvey
7 min readFeb 7, 2021


CLAREMONT, Calif.- The 17th Annual Conference on Current Pagan Studies was held on January 16–17. Due to pandemic restrictions, the conference was held exclusively online via Zoom without a personal component.

The conference focused on how the changes of the year affected the pagan communities. COVID-19 had the biggest impact. At each point in time, the number of participants was between the 50s and 60s.

The organizers divided the conference into four sections and two keynote speeches. Each section consisted of several presentations. Here are summaries of some of the presentations.

Trance, sacred space, and cyberspace

Melissa Harrington believed that online rituals could provide a way to examine ritual dynamics. Experiencing rituals in cyberspace could change a pagan understanding of sacred space and trance work. None occur on the physical plane.

According to Harrington, healing rituals showed that energy can travel. The person seeking healing seldom shared the same physical space as those performing the healing.

Challenges to the ritual process in online ritual

Many people reported problems with group singing and singing. In a face-to-face ritual, these group sounds created social cohesion. In online meetings, the sounds of songs or chants may be out of sync, leading to disharmony.

Several people mentioned the lack of physicality as a deficit in online rituals. Harrington interviewed a person who said, “I miss the Circle’s sweats.”

Questions of access in the online ritual

Harrington said that online rituals worked better for introverts than personal rituals. She reported that people on the autism spectrum have found online rituals difficult.

James “Pigeon” Fielder noted the presence of class problems in online rituals. People need access to computers, cell phones, and cameras. In contrast, Harrington stated that online rituals and conferences removed the barrier to…



Christopher Harvey

Just a Heathen with years of experience in pagan practice, ritual and study. I’m a long time writer and musician. I love telling stories and writing poetry.