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Portland: Burning Times Never Ended October 3-6, 2019

  • tryon life community farm tryon life community farm PORTLAND oregon United States (map)

The Burning Times Never Ended: Remembering Resistance and the Story of Disenchantment

Part history lesson, part mytho-poetic storytelling, part Shadow* spell-working, part ancestral recovery, part choose your own adventure strategy session for the times we are in and the times to come- this course is in its sixth year with over 1500 people having attended.


This course is for: witches, healers, warriors, queerfolk, nonbinary folk, outlaws, rebels, fae, clowns, heretics, feelers, thinkers, those with a willingness to learn and to share what has been learned, those who have unearned privilege, those who feel broken or lost without understanding how possibly come, and especially those who want to begin to un-spell the ensorcellment of power-over and disenchantment by practicing subversive magic for perilous times.

We are at the nexus of converging crises including, prominently, a 6th mass extinction event. Violent oppression and injustice are rampant and deadly. Power-relations are grotesquely skewed to favor the few. The tactics of propaganda, scape-goating, and divide and conquer are ubiquitous. The same template for the Burning Times then is still being used now, with similar and more global consequences. Understanding the what and how of the historical trauma more fully makes it far easier to metabolize and combat: economically, politically, culturally, and magically.

Ancestral resistance was real. today that is our birthright or resource.

The emphasis of the course is on the later stages of the colonization of Europe and the impacts of that for the land-based, wylder, and the variably indigenous peoples of those lands. It includes how the impacts of that historical phenomena and the ways in which it has been made invisible, forgotten, and storied today, influence(d) the colonization of the Americas and the current climate of anti-BIPOC racism, radical horizontal aggression, and perpetuation of control dynamics in "the movement". It is an exploration of how the underlying dynamics of social inequities and continuing oppression are a legacy of those times of Disenchantment, and how the erasure of such is a gaslighting.

Premises: The pathological system of capitalism necessitates human disenchantment. Confrontation of our own internalized capitalism is necessary for the dismantlement of capitalism externally. We must stop burning each other and recognize our shared adversary is capitalism, and by extension Empire.

This course will draw mainly on readings from Caliban and the Witch, Rewilding Witchcraft, and Dreaming the Dark. Other supplemental resources will be provided and solicited.

Trigger Warning: This course includes content which references historical trauma, sexual assault,
enslavement of human people and beyond human people, suicide, torture, gas-lighting, self harm, and possibly more. Registration is best by groups in order to ensure that there is adequate support for folk who endeavor to attend, and confront and metabolize these topics and their residual energy in the world. The presentation and discussion of the above content is not sensationalized in the presentation, yet is an unavoidable component in the context of this course and is handled by rain with fierce and gentle mindfulness and a trauma-aware approach. Each participant must decide if exposure to this content is appropriate for their well-being.

*To have magical people growing their radical political analysis woven among radical people growing their magics.
*To convene a strong enough container for the emergence and metabolization of grief, rage, desire, and joy.
*To nourish alliances and web-weaving for strategic and magical collective liberation.
*To further reveal, and take sustenance from, the inheritance of ancestors of resistance and resilience in service of a beyond our lifetime vision.
*To continue to transform the latent energy of the historical trauma of the Burning Times through learning and magic into sustenance for the ongoing dismantlement of Empire.

This course uses symbols and imagery for collective spell-workings, linked magic, and dream-callings. For each theme, a different symbol is shared and explained for its relevance. The opening session is one in which the meta-themes of the course are offered and explained, and the culminating session has extra space for whole course harvesting of learnings. Many of the participants who have gone through the course and are in various ways continuing the work through performance, art, writings, and local and national organizing work. Many groups which formed to attend have continued to work together as affinity groups, study groups, and covens.

The book Caliban and the Witch, by Sylvia Federici examines the historical European shift away from the village market economy and toward proto-capitalism. The book illuminates the campaign of terror which was imposed in order for capitalism to take root, and become what it is today. It also reveals the rich ancestry of uprising and other forms of political and social resistance from which we may draw upon in our own struggles for justice and liberation.

Learn how land enclosures, exploitation of workers, persecution of the impoverished, interruption of gender and class solidarity, criminalization of the wyld, magic, and the feminine, control of sexuality, misogyny and homophobia, and the mechanization of the body were all necessary undertakings for capitalism to thrive.

Note: While Caliban and the Witch speaks from a gender-essentialist voice (because of when it was written), and aspires to understand and present from the viewpoint of "women" as a class of people which also includes other traditionally marginalized and persecuted groups: gender-fluid/non-conforming, homosexual, transgender, enwilded, neurodivergent/neuroqueer, and magical. Biological reproduction of human beings, and cultural reproduction of enchanted relationship to the animate living world both came under control of capitalism (as a function of Empire) for different reasons and are often not discussed in this context. I use the word "feminized" as a substitute for women, as it is more inclusive of different biologies, genders, and experiences today.

Come and explore the following enduring questions:

  • How were European ancestors made to forget, and thus become severed, what needs re-membering to confront and repair the inheritance of oppression?

  • How does the terroristic legacy of the witch hunts continue to impact today's organizing work for justice?

  • What is historical trauma, and how does that of the Burning Times still play out in modern times, through betrayal, competition, scarcity, submission, control, and punishment? 

  • What is the relationship between disenchantment, capitalism, extinction, and magic?

  • What is subversive magic in perilous times?

  • How do we liberate the enclosure of the imagination?

  • What is whiteness? How do insecure ancestral attachments fuel settlerism today?

  • How does the disciplining of the body express itself in the mandate of "One Right Way"?

  • What could it mean to release the energy of the trauma of the Burning Times in the dimension of Whole Time as a healing spell?

  • How do we reclaim in ourselves that which we Other?

  • How can working with the historical trauma of the Burning Times strengthen your work as an accomplice to ongoing liberation struggles and foster intersectional feminism?

  • What if facing the grief, shame, and rage of the hunts then, and now, could strengthen your work as an accomplice to the ongoing liberation struggles of BIPOC, rather than enable a paralysis from debilitating fear?

  • How do we use the learnings in class to regenerate the reproduction of community in our movements today? 

  • How are the trans-Atlantic slave trade, colonization of the Americas, and the witch hunts all related?

A note: I'm of European ancestry; Croatian, Ukrainian, and Polish. I am also the beneficiary of living in a culture of indoctrinated white supremacy. In the course as in life, I cannot speak for POC, only attempt to draw on the learnings of intersectional feminism and anti-oppression frameworks to the best of my ability. I still make mistakes and I still expect to get called out (it actually is not the worst thing in the world at all-btw). That is a part of this work. In that, if you are someone who identifies as POC, indigenous, or mixed race and you are thinking about taking this course, I'll share some here, and you are also welcome to get in touch privately if you have more questions.

In the course, I attempt to take folks (mainly of Euro descent and who identify as white-encultured/skinned/privileged) on an arc of understanding of what it was that has been taken from their own European ancestors. Sometimes, especially in the first two to three sessions/modules, this may appear as centering whiteness. However, even from the beginning I do speak to the importance of understanding all of the learning/feeling that particular ancestral damage as a way of confronting white fragility today. I make space for white grief and ALL grief, because working through that grief and shock is what generally makes it possible for folks to move through the rest of the course with an amplified empathy and grounded responsibility for the ways that the trauma of colonization was and is exported onto other cultures and bodies. It may feel slow at first, and having done this many times, I trust in moving slowly, but with adherence to the need for the outcome to be rooted in unsettling the colonial psyche and actions, dismantling white supremacy, and embodied solidarity. For many people this may be their first exposure to certain concepts & language, awakened memory of ancestral violence-both ways, and whiteness as a foundationally violent social construct. It is an approach which works in both shadow and complexity.

This course is available to all POC and indigenous participants who want to join. Your voices are welcome, your feedback is welcome. 

Begins: Thursday October 3, 9am - Ends: Sunday October 6, 4pm

Sliding scale: $225-450 (includes lodging and dinners)

Location: Tryon Life Community Farm, Portland OR