Pantheacon Envy

This weekend is the 2013 edition of Pantheacon in San Jose, California. It’s the largest Pagan convention in the world, with attendance expected to be in the 2000–2500 range.

I’d like to be there. I’d like to hear some of the presentations and participate in some of the rituals. I’d like to see some of the entertainment. I’d like to meet some of the authors and teachers whose work has been influential in my own spiritual growth.

Mainly I’d like to meet a lot of people I know only through their on-line presence. I’d like to see their faces, hear their voices, give them a handshake or a hug and discuss the finer points of Paganism over a glass of wine or a cup of tea.

I won’t be at Pantheacon.

I can’t blame my absence on anyone or anything but me. I looked at the total situation and came to the rational decision that I’d be better off skipping Pantheacon. It was the right call.

That doesn’t mean I don’t feel a twinge of regret when I see all the Facebook posts with pictures of luggage and details of travel arrangements. And it doesn’t mean I don’t have a flashback to high school when I was home on a Saturday night and I just knew the cool kids were out having fun somewhere.

For me, not going to Pantheacon is a question of limits. We in the Pagan and magical communities don’t like to talk about limits. Limits are for other people and other religions. I really need to give limits a longer exploration some time, but for now let me just say there are three kinds of limits.

There are hard limits that represent reality: the law of gravity, the number of hours in a day, the amount of oil in the ground.

There are soft limits that represent the reality that some things which are possible individually are impossible together. As an old boss used to say about project budgets and timelines: “good, fast and cheap – pick any two.”

And then there are self-imposed limits, the things we don’t try because we don’t think we can do them even though we very likely can.

For me, the cost of Pantheacon is a soft limit. I only have so much money to spend on travel and there are at least three other Pagan gatherings I want to attend this year. Two of them will require air travel. I need to make occasional trips to Tennessee to visit family. And at some point, Cathy and I want to go away for a nice vacation. I can do some of these trips. I can probably do most of these trips. I can’t do all of these trips. There are limits and something has to give.

I have a self-imposed limit with crowds. I don’t want to criticize an event I’ve never attended, and the only serious complaint I’ve heard from Pantheacon attendees is that there’s not room for everyone in the main hotel. I’ve stayed in overflow hotels for other events and I have no mobility issues. I’m sure there will be long lines for some things and pressing crowds for others, but I’m not a six-year-old – I’ve learned how to deal with these things.

But I would be lying if I said this had no impact on my decision to spend my limited travel dollars elsewhere.

So I’ll be home this weekend, trying to finish reading one brand new book and make a dent in reading an ancient one. I’ll be checking Facebook, enjoying the pictures and comments from those who are there. In the coming weeks I’ll be looking for podcasts, transcripts, commentary, and other reports of the event. I’ll look forward to the Pagan gatherings I will attend and the face to face meetings I’ll be able to have.

I made the right decision. I’m good with it, even if I am a bit envious of those who are there. I hope everyone at Pantheacon has a great time and goes home happy and energized.

Maybe 2014 will be my year.

About John Beckett

I grew up in Tennessee with the woods right outside my back door. Wandering through them gave me a sense of connection to Nature and to a certain Forest God. I’m a Druid graduate of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids, the Coordinating Officer of the Denton Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans and a former Vice President of CUUPS Continental. I’ve been writing, speaking, teaching, and leading public rituals for the past eleven years. I live in the Dallas – Fort Worth area and I earn my keep as an engineer.

  • http://myownashram.com Niki Whiting

    Next year! At Pantheacon!
    Maybe it’ll be my year too, and we’ll be able to share a nice cuppa together. For me, PCon feels like the family reunion (even though I’ve only been twice). It is intense, but setting limits and not trying to do everything makes the weekend so very worth it. I’ve been thinking of writing my own post on this very topic.

  • https://thepagangardener.wordpress.com/ Marlon Hartshorn

    I’m seriously considering Pantheacon 2014 myself. I absolutely loved Teo Bishop’s account of the Morrigan with T. Thorn Coyle. I think next year I’d love to go to learn and commune with other like-minded Pagans, maybe learn a few things, enrich myself, and be the better for it! If you do go, would greatly enjoy meeting you! Really like your blog too! I”m from Texas originally, near Houston.

    • http://www.12stepwitch.com 12stepWitch

      Yes, that account made me very sad I was not there!!!!!!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/ John Beckett

      Glad you like the blog, Marlon. Next year may finally be my year, but we’ll see how things go between now and when they start taking reservations.

      I really, really wanted to be at the Morrigan ritual.

  • http://heathennaturalist.wordpress.com/ Amanda

    I’ve got Pantheacon envy too. One of my best friends went a few years ago, and wanted me to go with her, but I think it was while I was unemployed, so I decided spending that much money was not the smartest thing to do while I was on benefits.

    Now I’m only under-employed, but this time of year is very, very busy in my job. My husband has a very little vacation time at his job, and he used it all up for our honeymoon last year. He’s also on-call a lot, so it’s very hard for him to get time off even when he does have vacation time saved up.

    So not this year. Probably not next year either, or the year after that, unless some miracle happens and I ever get fully employed.

  • Pingback: The Reality of Limits

  • joel schonbrunn

    Hi John,
    I usually run a hospitality suite at Pantheacon. Please let me know if you need a place to stay, or other local logistics help to make you attending Pantheacon 2014 more likely. Our Druid community needs you to attend!

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/ John Beckett

      Thanks, Joel – I really appreciate that. I’m going to do my best to make it next year, but that’s a long ways away. I’ll let you know when I start making firm plans.

  • Vivianne Crowley

    I attended 2013, John, all the way from Europe, and it was well-worth it. I had a great time and met some wonderful people. Definitely worth going to at least once.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnbeckett/ John Beckett

      Thanks, Vivianne. I’m already registered for 2014. I doubt it will become an every year thing (if only because of the travel costs), but I need to go. So I am.


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