I attended Pantheacon in San Jose this past weekend. Every one else has their review posts up; I’d like to add mine to the mix! It was a bit of a ‘working vacation,’ but since I consider my ‘work’ my entire life, practice, family, and all, the overwhelming feeling coming home was more joy at having had my cups filled, in ways that a regular, ol’ vacation rarely does for me.
Pantheacon occurs every President’s Day weekend at the DoubleTree Hotel in San Jose. Between flights, rooms, and mediocre, overpriced food, it’s an expensive weekend, one that my husband, Adam, and I saved for months to do. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend that you go at least once! This was my fourth time there. Twice I’ve been pregnant, once with an 8 month old, and the only non-parenting trip was a mere day pass. I miss out on the late night rituals and some of the more…. daring presentations by constantly breeding. But I’m grateful I get to go at all!
Getting my spiritual cup filled was the most challenging. I attended three major rituals: Morningstar Mystery School‘s Guardian ritual, Sharanya‘s Kali Puja, and the Coru Cathubodua‘s Ancient Queen ritual. I have a regular devotion to Kali, and I’d circled with, studied with and/or knew personally many of the people involved with the other two rituals. Yet none of the rituals were the deeply powerful rituals I’d hoped for. I went in with as few expectations as possible, but given the dearth of ritual in my life in general, I was aching for some communal, divine contact. The problem was not so much with the rituals themselves, but with being 7 months pregnant. My energy levels could not sustain even an hour’s worth of intense ritual focus. It’s also very distracting to be kicked from the inside during trance work – and this baby kicks.
There were a few special moments for me in what were beautiful rituals. I was asked to sing with the opening chorus in the Morningstar ritual. Being able to chant as the participants entered helped me align, focus, and enter into a sacred space. I was honored to actually be part of something at PCon, not just a participant. Also during that ritual, Adam and I were on opposite sides of the very large circle, but we both had visions of our coming baby. The visions were in alignment and we received a name! A beautiful gift.
To satisfy my inner nerd, I attended two lecture style workshops. The first, Jason Mankey’s exploration of the Horned God/s, was beset with technical difficulties, but he handled it with panache and good humor. I would gladly attend anything else he presents. He is clear, witty, and thoroughly researched – much like his blog! The second was Sam Webster‘s workshop on his Tantric Invocation of Hermes. He had me at tantra, even though his angle in is through Buddhist tantra. His work here is interesting, and I look forward to exploring both his specific invocation and his technique in my own practice. I would also take a workshop or class from this man. I am not always a fan of the tone he takes in his blog writing, but he is funny, sincere and warm in person. Listening to him speak has definitely added some humanity to his often blunt and academic prose tone.
Perhaps the best part of this year’s PCon for me was the social aspect. I got to connect with old friends who are doing amazing work in the world. I got to make many new friends. I met several readers of this blog! I got to connect in person with many colleagues here on Patheos. Discovering that my ‘co-workers’ are even more incredible in person than they are online was a huge joy. Adam and I bonded particularly well with Jason Mankey and his wife, Ari, and John Halstead and his wife, Ruth. Why, oh why, can’t these people live in Olympia?? One thing that shouldn’t surprise me, but did anyway, is that many of my fellow bloggers are much more shy in person than they are online. I feel I am the opposite.
I have a few regrets from the weekend. I never made it to the Coru hospitality suite. I did not get to T. Thorn Coyle’s panel on Pagans and Privilege – I was napping, post-ritual. Being pregnant certainly limited my engagement in many ways. Yet I still managed to walk away from the weekend feeling fed, emboldened, and deeply encouraged.
In my next few posts I want to unravel several topics that came up in private conversations, a series I want to call ‘The Conversations We’re Not Having.’ There were two panels on privilege, Thorn’s and one on Wiccanate privilege. Neither one did I attend, but after being inspired by several conversations I had over the weekend, I want to wade into these topics. The only way to find some way forward as communities is to, well, push forward with the awkward questions.