PantheaCon 2015; Pain, Healing Work, Allyship in Action and Coalition Building

PantheaCon 2015; Pain, Healing Work, Allyship in Action and Coalition Building February 19, 2015

Several pieces have been written in blogosphere by now about the ups and downs of PantheaCon; I do not feel the need to repeat the details of the PantyCon satire piece and instead will link other pieces that reference this. I instead want to focus on the experience of transitioning from pain to healing work that happened for me at PantheaCon this year, and for many people of color (POC) and allies. The amazing transformative experience has left me continuing on a road to processing the healing experience I had.

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photo by Stephanie Del Kjer

From Saturday night to Monday day I felt like I was on a roller-coaster, one that was full of anxiety and sadness… coupled with laughter, hugs and support. I spend a lot of time processing several triggering feelings of marginalization, while attempting to hold the needs of a larger picture in mind. What do I do with the experiences and feelings from “othering” in my spiritual community while also helping to build a bridge that will someday be the ground under my children’s feet? How do I stay focused on the goal and not allow my pain to derail me from standing firm against discrimination and alienation? This was my challenge this weekend. This was the challenge of many people.

I am an emotional creature, it is what lives inside of my spirit and forges a connection to Yemaya. I ride the waves to wash things clean, while I also experience the crushing power of water that can destroy. I shed a lot of tears this weekend, and I felt the mother’s screams vibrate on my tongue.

After I read the satire piece in the PantyCon about racism on Saturday night, moments before the Bringing Race to the Table Panel, my experience of the Con changed. I immediately felt like I was holding a fragile balloon in my belly. From that point, through my own tears and those of the people in the audience as they spoke of their triggering, I struggled with the intricate balance of pain and faith in my community. What happened next in this community helped me to hold onto a vision that I believe in, that I need to believe in.

  1. I watched PantheaCon Department Head Lori and staff rise to a place of allyship that blew me away. Incredible support that consisted of listening first, and being present every step along the way. There was immediate action resulted, support from Con ops, programming, and incredible amounts of follow through. They even sat outside our panel, Lori spoke to the audience on two different occasions, and made sure we felt supported.
  2. Allies stood up and provided immediate action in support of the situation; listening and mobilizing. The Solar Cross Board Members, members of Coru Cathubodua, members of Heathen’s United Against Racism (HUAR), members of the Temple of Witchcraft and several other practitioners stood outside the doors of the Pagans of Color Caucaus to support the POC inside. They silently stood in support of POC going into safe space for support. They worked along side of the planning efforts in coalition with POC, and supported the POC leadership instead of attempting to take over.
  3. Many POC and allies stayed for the 11:00 forum that was provided for us by PantheaCon staff, so that we could unpack some of the unintentional harm that was created by the triggering events of the PantyCon and several other random situations that served as microaggressions over the weekend. They showed up…. and they stayed.

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    photo by Stephanie Del Kjer

There was a moment in the forum when the POC went to the center of the circle and the allies held hands in support around us. The POC collectively released a primal scream… one that I felt come from a place I do not recognize, echos of pain from my ancestors past. And while the other POC released some of their primal screams next to me, I was not scared…..I felt their ancestors standing with mine.

I sobbed. We sobbed together. Our allies cried with us.

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Xochiquetzal and I. photo by Stephanie Del Kjer

I remember, while I had my eyes closed, tears streaming down my face, the voice of my powerful friend Xochiquetzal Duti Odinsdottir. She was walking the circle of POC repeating to each one of us, “I see you, I feel you, I hear you, I know you, I am you, I love you”. And she then walked the circle of allies, repeating “See us, feel us, know us, you are us…. love us”.

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Yvonne and I. Photo by Stephanie Del Kjer

Some of the most powerful words ever spoken in POC/ally space. Some of the most powerful moments in the movement for equity in Pagandom happened in the walls of the Doubletree this weekend, sealed with a magical act of coalition building and love.I am truly grateful for every moment this weekend. I am grateful for the relationship building that happened with my fellow Pagans of Color and with my friends and allies. We shared something tangible that weekend that made everyone bridge the gap a little bit closer to one another, and something magical that goes beyond the tangible.

I am truly grateful for Lori and the staff, for showing that people can and do show up.

I am grateful to the PantyCon’s unintentional harm for being a catalyst to something that pushed me to connect in ways I had not before.

And I know there is a lot of work to be done, and we are right where we need to be to manifest change. I see you, I feel you, I hear you, I know you, I am you, I love you; let us keep speaking these words to one another until they are automatic.

Now let’s keep building.

 

Jonathan Korman’s open letter to the authors of PantyCon:

http://miniver.blogspot.com/2015/02/an-open-letter.html

 

Taylor Ellwood’s piece on the incident:

https://ipmbblog.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/pantheacon-bringing-race-to-the-table-and-racism/

 

Shauna Aura Knight’s piece on the Pagan Activist:

http://paganactivist.com/2015/02/17/racism-and-activism-at-pantheacon/

 

Tim Titus piece:

https://intersectionsandcircles.wordpress.com/2015/02/18/learning-from-pagans-of-color-at-pantheacon/


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