Speakers (Past and Present)

Past Speakers:

Steve Ausband (repeat presenter)
Stephen Ausband is a founding member of Gollinkambi Kindred, which is located in southwest Virginia, and public relations assistant for The Troth.  He grew up in Virginia where his father, a professor of English, read bed time stories to him in Old and Middle English and taught him about Norse, Greek and Roman mythology at a young age.  He has always had an interest in travel, language, culture and comparative religion.

Ned Bates (repeat presenter)
Ned Bates has a BA in Literature and Anthropology, an MFA in Creative Writing, and is currently working toward an MSEd in Educational Leadership. He is a public school teacher and writer. He has made a life’s study of the places where objective and imaginative worlds meet, and is especially fascinated by the collision of modern and ancient worlds and the resulting plurality and syncretism of world-views. He is a heathen who seeks to balance reconstruction, pragmatism and poetry. He has presented at East Coast Thing, Trothmoot, and The Polytheist Leadership Conference, and erratically blogs as the Heretical Heathen: http://hereticalheathen.blogspot.com.

Denise Bowen
Denise Bowen has been involved in the Northeast Asatru community since 1997. She brought the first ve to the ECT in 2004. She has been the chair of the ECT Ve committee since it’s official inception in 2015.

Gregory Darwin
Gregory has a BA in Classics and Celtic Studies from the University of Toronto, and is pursuing a PhD in Celtic Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. He has taught courses in the Irish language and in the study of folklore at Harvard, and has led community Irish language classes and discussion circles in Toronto and Boston. His main academic interests include the Irish language and Irish-language literature, folklore, legends of the supernatural, magic, witchcraft beliefs, folk medicine and healing, and Gaelic-Norse cultural exchange. He is a heathen, and a member of the Troth.

Janine Marie Gorham
Janine Marie Gorham has been a practicing Polytheist for twenty years and a practicing Heathen for the past eight. She always found discussions around gender both insightful and enlightening. She is a practiced facilitator. She has lead many workshops in Maine and at regional conferences, and presently she is the President of the Maine Pagan Clergy Association.

Annie Cúglas Humphrey (repeat presenter)
Annie has been a member of the Northeastern United States heathen community since 2006. She is a co-founder and goði of the Kindred of Mann, a Norse-Gaelic heathen fellowship in its tenth year. Annie serves as a State Steward for The Troth and the workshop committee chair for East Coast Thing. Formerly a college lecturer and museum educator, she is now a PhD student in medieval history at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. Annie is genderqueer, mother to a three-year old, and married to an amazing heathen cis man.

Dave Iverson
Dave Iverson lives in Lowell, Massachusetts with his wife Lynn, son Tor, and daughter Lilac.  He has been an English teacher at Greater Lowell Technical High School for almost a decade, a feature columnist for Merrimack Valley Magazine for the past five years, and is currently working on a seventh album with his band Ichabod. He holds a BA in English and a M.Ed. in English curriculum and instruction, both from University of Massachusetts, Lowell, where he is also just six classes away from a BA in psychology.  He is at the halfway point to a MA in English (literature concentration) at Southern New Hampshire University, where he was recently inducted into Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society.
The seed for Iverson’s interest in Asatru was sown early due to the abundance of Norwegian folkloric tchotchkes his parents kept around the house.   The seed eventually sprouted due to steady exposure to the Norse myths and a deep-seated interest in religion that led to his being a deacon with the UU church at one point, where he was involved in the CUUPS group and delivered at least a few Sunday sermons using lore as his didactic source material.
This has all led to his current research into and execution of applying various literary/cultural theories, or “lenses,” to the myths in order to mine new understandings from them.

Burt Johns
Burt Johns was born/raised in a traditional Pennsylvania Dutch household without a Christian affiliation.  He has been the Gothi of Mannaheim Kindred since its inception (2002).  Under his leadership, Mannaheim and its volunteers average 40 events per each year to include liturgical services, craft days, speakers/teachers, “pub moots”, “community service days”, and team building events (camping).

Patricia Lafayllve
Patricia Lafayllve is the author of “Freyja, Lady, Vanadis: an Introduction to the Goddess” and “A Practical Heathen’s Guide to Asatru”. She has given lectures and workshops at conventions and festivals around the country for about eighteen years, although this is the first time she has spoken at the east Coast Thing. Patricia has a MA in English, and currently teaches English Composition and Literature and Composition at a nearby university. She is a proud member of Two Ravens Kindred!

Austin “Auz” Lawrence
Auz is one of the Stewards of Raven’s Knoll. Raven’s Knoll is a campground in Ontario, Canada that serves the Pagan and Heathen communities. Raven’s Knoll hosts Canada’s first permanent Vé for the worship of our gods. Auz, along with Erik Lacharity, is one of the founders of the annual Hail and Horn Gathering.  Auz has a Master’s degree in Anthropology, which has led to a full time career working for Public Safety Canada alongside the “hobby” of running Raven’s Knoll with his wife, Maryanne Pearce. Austin is an oathed goði associated with the American Vinland Association, since 2008. He is also a regular member of the Troth. Auz is interested in medieval martial arts, but is currently training in the Filipino martial arts with Siling Labuyo Arnis.

Rev. Caryn MacLuan (repeat presenter)
Rev. Caryn MacLuan is a retired Coast Guard Chief Warrant Officer who has been a pagan/heathen/magic practitioner  for over 40 years.  She is a leader and 2nd level priest in Ár nDraíocht Féin (ADF) and has been a leader in CedarLight Grove for 16 years.  She also is a member of Gladsheim Kindred and the Troth.  She holds a graduate certificate in herbal studies, teaches hands on healing and workshops on various Indo-European studies.

Jo McKee-Spinks
Jo has been spinning since she was introduced to it, and fell in love with it in 2012. She is the keeper of Frigga ve, where she can often be seen spinning.  Joann as is also a member of the band Nornir Call. She is excited to be attending her 7th ECT!

Paul “Gage” Mercurio
Paul has been an urban planner for over a decade, focusing on large-scale roadway reconstruction projects.  He holds degrees in Landscape Architecture, Geography, and Geology.  Previously Paul has presented at NYC Pagan Pride, and hosts monthly lore chats in Manhattan.  He is a member of the Elm & Hearth Kindred in Brooklyn, and is the Regional Steward of the Troth for the NYC Metro-Area.

Ristandi (repeat presenter)
Ristandi has been working with the Northern Mysteries for well over two decades. He holds a Ph.D. in Folklore and Mythology from UCLA, with a particular specialization in the study of Vernacular Religion, Folk Belief, and Ritual. He is a member of the American Academy of Religion and co-chair of its Folklore and Religion seminar. Ristandi is also a Master in the Rune-Gild (which he joined in 1993) and currently serves as a member of its standing High Rede. Over the years, he has presented on various as-pects of Germanic magic and religion at events like Pantheacon, the Feast of Aegir, Starwood, Rites of Spring, Trothmoot, and Summer’s Wane. This is his 9th East Coast Thing.

Jósúa Hróðgeir Rood (repeat presenter)
Josh Rood is an officially offered PhD candidate at University of Iceland with an MA in Old Norse Religion. His expertise is on religious continuity and change in southern Scandinavia prior to and during the Viking Age. He has given lectures and seminars on ritual practice in heathen Scandinavia, and on modern day Asatru. He is also the executive editor of Odroerir: The Heathen Journal. He has written articles for CNN, performed interviews for radio, television, web media, and academic research. He’s been an active member of the Northeast Heathen Community for 13 years, a member of the ECT Planning Committee for the past 7 years, and he has run blóts both in Iceland and here in the United States. This is his fourth year as the Chairperson for the Ritual Committee for ECT.

Rob Schreiwer
Robert L. Schreiwer is a founder of the Heathen denomination of Urglaawe, Ziewer (godsman) of Distelfink Sippschaft, a trained practitioner of the Pennsylvania German healing tradition of Braucherei. Through the Pennsylvania German Heathen Alliance for the Urglaawe, he has been conducting a project to gather oral lore from all regions of Deitsch (Pennsylvania German) settlement. He was an Instructor of Pennsylvania German at Kutztown University in 2008-2009, and he is currently working on other language advancement projects. He is the current Steer (President and CEO) for the Troth, the Program Coordinator of The Troth’s In-Reach Heathen Prison Services program, and the Troth Steward for Eastern Pennsylvania.

Ann “Gróa” Sheffield (repeat presenter)
Ann “Gróa” Sheffield has been an amateur student of Germanic culture since the 1970’s and a practicing Heathen since the 1990’s. She holds a Ph.D. in analytical chemistry (University of Maryland College Park, 1988), which comes in handy when reading archaeological studies that include chemical data, and she recently completed an MA in Medieval and Renaissance Literary Studies at Durham University (U.K.), where she wrote her dissertation on the conversion of Iceland to Christianity as described in saga-literature. Gróa is the author of two books on Heathen subjects: “Frey, God of the World” and “Long Branches: Runes of the Younger Futhark.”

Mike Smith (repeat presenter)
Mike Smith has been an open, public member of the Ásatrú and heathen community for over 20 years. His group Úlfar aff Jera Þjóð has been based in Washington, NH since 2005. Over the years, he has written many articles, participated in various Pagan Pride Days, and is a regular presenter at East Coast Thing since its inception in 1999.

Jay Stratton
Jay Stratton is a long-time heathen and retired foreign language teacher, as well as an amateur farmer.  His book Pomona’s Lost Children (dedicated to Idunna) is a memoir and cookbook detailing the history and botanical and heathen lore of a dozen old-fashioned fruits like quince, elderberry, medlar, gooseberry, etc.  He grew up in the Swedish area of western New York and much of the lore and many of the recipes in this book have a heavy Scandinavian influence.

Eirik Westcoat (repeat presenter)
Eirik is a longtime attendee of the East Coast Thing and a multiyear winner of its Skaldic Competition who has been writing poetry in traditional heathen meters for many years. His recently-released first book, Viking Poetry for Heathen Rites, is a collection of poems for use in ritual, written in those traditional meters. He has an MA/MPhil from the Viking and Medieval Norse Studies program at the Universities of Iceland and Oslo, with a thesis titled “A Vision of the Skald: Seeking the Ideal in the Probable Works of Snorri Sturluson.” He has also presented papers at the annual International Congress on Medieval Studies on topics in Old Norse Literature. Other interests of his include the Runes and the Grail mythos from a heathen perspective. He is a member of the Hearth of Yggdrasil Kindred and the Rune-Gild.