Ways That Pantheacon 2013 Supported Change for Pagans of Color

Pantheacon is an irreplaceable part of my spiritual path every year. It is the time of year I get to connect with many of my Pagan family that have become my family of choice, I can teach and learn from others within the community, I get to do some of the best Pagan shopping and I also spend the most valuable bonding time with my coven mates. This year was the same in those respects but there were some changes in tide that I saw come to fruition this year, more than others.  Last year I saw two specific programs on the program regarding discussions around race relations in the Pagan community; they were the Shades of Faith panel and the People of Color Caucus.  This year we saw similar offerings and yet some additions.

Here is my short list wrap up of the ways that Pantheacon has supported the movement of change around racial diversity at its 2013 event and within the community. I hope to expand on these pieces throughout the month, and although I am exhausted with post-con energy, it is important to continue the momentum.

Shades of Ritual ladies. Picture taken by Lisa Spiral.

  • The People of Color Caucus did a second workshop this year and were able to successfully fund and host a POC hospitality suite at the Con.
  • Four of the contributors from the Shades of Faith: Minority Voices in Paganism anthology came together to offer the Shades of Ritual on Saturday morning. I was honored to stand aside our very own Daughters of Eve writer,  Nadirah Adeye, and authors Luna Pantera and Szmerelda Shanel. This ritual worked to show a concept of interweaving diverse paths into one, collective, cohesive ritual celebration. It was an enjoyable experience.
  • T. Thorn Coyle moderated a panel on the very intense topic of privilege within the Pagan community. River Higginbotham, Elena Rose, Xochiquetzal Duti Odinsdottir and I were panelists in this discussion. While this did not make it onto the official PCON programming, one of the hospitality suites stepped up and offered this panel a space to be.  Hosted in the Covenant of the Goddess, New Reformed Order of the Golden Dawn and New Wiccan Church’s presidential suite, this small (yet powerful) panel packed 35 people into a small room for this discussion.  It was reported that another 10 were waiting in the other room and others were turned away. The sponsorship of the suite and Solar Cross made this possible and Solar Cross will be releasing the recording of this in the future.
  • Patheos Pagan portal authors hosted a panel discussion on intrafaith within the Pagan community. As a Patheos Pagan Portal writer, I got to be a part of this panel discussion, among some incredible Patheos authors.  Moderated by Christine Kraemer, Patheos Pagan managing editor, this panel was packed with exciting information and perspective. Being invited to participate on this panel was an honor for me as an author and especially since it was in my relation to this very blog. Daughters of Eve has been an space holder on the web for the perspectives of African American women in Paganism. To speak from the view of an AA Pagan woman on this panel was a powerful statement and hopefully gave some wider lens understanding of the varying needs within our community.
  • For the second year in a row, collaboration between Devin Hunter and Yeshe Rabbit has brought Pan Dianic practices to the floor of the Con.  This year’s Rite of 1,000 crowns was another installment in offering gender inclusive Dianic rites that celebrate and honor the growing concept of equality within the public ritual arena. Any opportunity to promote equality in public celebration is a win for all.

 

Movement is progress, interest in these offerings show progress and attention to the collective needs of our community is progress. May progress continue to thrive.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chkraemer13 Christine Hoff Kraemer

    I really appreciated your contributions to the intrafaith panel! You’re a great speaker.

    I just put the audio up on my blog today: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/sermonsfromthemound/2013/02/pagan-intrafaith-a-patheos-pagan-panel/

    • Crystal Blanton

      The panel was fantastic and it was great to be included. I was honored to be able to add a perspective that might have added to our discussions. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1319112170 Darvin Gipson

    Oh wow, thanks for that. I had given up on  meeting other black Pagans :) Called to the faith since 1986,  Maybe one day ill catch a panel.

    • http://twitter.com/Teri_lyn Teri_lyn

       And i as well! Would love to catch a panel and meet other pagans of color! :)

    • Crystal Blanton

      There have been more chances to engage with Pagans of color in the last several years. I got the privilege of meeting some incredible PoC through the coordinating of Shades of Faith. Hopefully you will have a opportunity to engage with others at an upcoming event. Blessings!!!

  • Amber K

    I’m so glad to hear of all this progress. I’m white but I’m not comfortable at festivals or events that don’t reflect the wonderful diversity of people on our planet. The Pagan movement needs men and women of color, we are not a complete community without you. Blessed be, Amber K

    • Crystal Blanton

      Amber K, thank you. Diversity in our community means of many different paths, varieties and cultures. I am excited to see more inclusion of diversity in all aspects too. Many hugs and thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/mary.hellmann.1 Mary Hellmann

    Dear brothers and sisters…just because my skin is pale, doesn’t mean what that my grandmothers were white as well.  Many walk among you unseen and unaware.

    • Crystal Blanton

      Mary, no one made assumptions about your ancestors. We all come in many colors, shapes and sizes. 

  • Soli

    I did not get a chance to attend any of these panels unfortunately, but am glad to hear that I will get to experience them in some format. And after months of reading your posts here I was very glad I got to meet you in person. This was a good Pantheacon.

    • Crystal Blanton

      Likewise! This year was great and it was fantastic to meet you too.  I am looking forward to next year and more opportunity for genuine connections within the whole community. 

  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

    It was excellent to meet you and be on a panel with you, and I hope I can meet you and see you in action further in the future at PantheaCon and/or elsewhere!

    I was also very happy to attend the Pagans of Color caucus, and to gain some very important insights into my own (very flawed) consciousness on some issues in a manner that was not only cogent and well-received on my part, but in a way that was done with the utmost compassion and support for my own lack of awareness on certain matters.  I look forward to learning more in the future in this effort to be more conscious of my own blind spots.

  • Joel Milan

    Paganism still expanding as a mainstream alternative to many of the established spiritual paths and traditions.  Persons of color are entering the various paths in research, networking, seeking like minded or path groups.  Non European based systems of magick and aboriginal beliefs, the intrafaith process of another level of syncretization has it’s adaption process.  

  • Lisa Upshaw

    I wanted to post and just say Thank You. 
    I have been following your blog for so long now, being one of the only pagan persons of colour in my community in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.  (I suspect there are many who are solitary practitioners). 
    Reading your blog helps me remember that it is OKAY for black women to want to follow the path of the Witch, and that being pagan doesn’t have to mean we only work with African deities. 
    So again, thank you for your support from afar. It can be a tough, lonely world here. 
    Blessed Be.

    • Crystal Blanton

      Lisa, I want to say thank YOU! Ultimately we all want to write and offer information and support to our communities but it is a special privilege to know that it helps someone. It is an incredible path we walk as an African American Witch, one that is beautiful and natural to show. 

      It is good to know that there are people like you out there in Canada, representing for us all. 


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