There were quite a few rituals at PantheaCon and unfortunately I couldn’t make them all. I was determined that the rituals I did attend wouldn’t be Wiccan so I could experience the rites of other Pagan religions. Here are my thoughts on the three rituals I was able to participate in over this hectic weekend.
A Ritual for Our Neopagan Ancestors facilitated by the ADF
As so many of our elders have recently passed I really wanted to participate in in this ritual. The opening of the gates and call to Manannan was interesting and very evocative. You could feel the power being welcomed into the room as the gates opened. Everyone was allowed to add the names of their own Pagan ancestors to the list of names called out and honored. It felt good to add the names of elders in my tradition that had passed, both recently and in the past.
What I liked best about this ritual was the music. There was a lot of singing and chanting. My favorite part was singing Breaths, which is a fantastic song that I’m glad to see Pagans embracing. That song really helped me connect to the ritual, which was one of three rituals for the ancestors at PantheaCon this year. I’m really thankful that we were given so many chances to honor those who had passed on at this conference.
Bakkhoi Antinoou facilitated by the Ekklesia Antinoou
This may be the hardest ritual to accurately describe. Conveying the atmosphere may be impossible via blogging but I’m going to give it a shot.
This ritual was a sacred drama regarding the Greek God Antinous, who is the deified boy-lover of the Emperor Hadrian. It was once common for sacred dramas and rituals to enact the story of the God they were honoring, a sort of show and catechism in one. Essentially that is what this ritual was about. Through chanting sacred space was established, participants were allowed to approach the statue of Antinous to request a blessing, there was a sacred drama and then sacred space was closed.
What made this unique was the sacred drama itself. It began as a tragedy, carefully paced so that when the death of Antinous was revealed (although of no surprise to anyone present) it had an emotional impact on me. Later, the tone of the drama lightened up with comedy to lighten the lessons in theology and mythos for the cult of Antinous. This included a parody of Lady Gaga’s Alejandro that I hope will be made available to the public, because it was both fitting and hilarious. With great costumes, genuinely well-crafted drama, interesting surprises and a group of facilitators that were committed and talented enough to make me forget that they were reading off of scripts (not an easy thing to do), this may be one of my favorite Pagan event rituals.
One of the reasons I chose this ritual is because although I’m a straight woman, I have family and friends who are GLBTQI. I’m ignorant of the issues regarding queer spirituality, and I’ve recently come to realize that some of the Gods I reverence have queer aspects to them. My being straight shouldn’t mean my spirituality is straight, anymore than my being female should mean I only reverence Goddesses. I’m not going to pretend I have all of this all figured out now, but this ritual, aside from simply being a really good ritual, helped me see how I can incorporate queer spirituality into my practice, so my spiritual relationships reflect the human relationships I engage in on a daily basis. My thanks to P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, Erynn Rowan Laurie, >ogam- and the rest of the facilitators for putting this ritual together.
The Troth Blot: Honoring Welund the Smith facilitated by The Troth
I am a devotee of Hephaistos, and although I kinda wanted to check out other workshops he made it clear that I needed to check this out. Had there been a ritual to Vulcan, Brighid, Govannon, Goibniu or Tubal-Cain I’d have been there front and center as well. It’s my belief that the Gods of Blacksmithing keep in touch across cultural lines, almost as if they have a workman’s guild. Besides, I’d never attended a Heathen ritual before.
This ritual also took the form of a sacred drama, only this drama involved silent-yet-intense actors with a narrator. The story of Welund was enacted by participants as it was read aloud. It was well done, very dramatic with that wonderful Northern storytelling cadence and imagery. When the horn was passed I admit I wondered if they were a bit worried when a pink-haired Wiccan wearing a pentacle and Witches Brewfest shirt stood to toast, but I hailed Odin, who I am learning to work with and trust, and sipped the delicious homebrew that was the offering. I really enjoyed the toasting, and how different Gods were honored. One of my favorites was the man who toasted Heimdall with dramatic and descriptive language. I have always admired Heimdall since I once briefly dated an Asatru man who was aligned with him.
I think my favorite part of that ritual was the emphasis on blessing the Folk, or community/tradition. My tradition has a similar blessing and it was good to feel that commonality. I felt a lot of resonance with the blot ritual and hope I get a chance to be a guest at a Heathen ritual again.
PantheaCon had a lot of interesting rituals I wanted to attend but either didn’t have the time or appropriate attire (I packed nothing white for the Vodou ritual). It was interesting to be in a building where there is almost always a ritual in progress. The energy resembled a thunderstorm and even though my room was quiet I found it hard to sleep. When I did sleep I dreamt of rituals, and once I dreamed I scrubbed Erynn Rowan Laurie’s bathtub. I don’t know what that means beyond that there was a bunch of weird energy bouncing around this hotel, but if she’s reading maybe it means something to her!