Many Gods West – The Returning

Many Gods West – The Returning August 9, 2016

The subtitle is mine, not the event’s, but it sure does make for some hilarious movie trailers in my head.

First, here’s what I wrote about last year’s event. What I remember most fondly about it is the quality time I got to spend with one of my best friends Anaar, and meeting a wonderful group of people who I now consider good, dear friends.

Collection of Ephemera from MGW 2016
Collection of Ephemera from MGW 2016

Despite that overall positive experience, I had been a bit on the fence about attending this year and my level of involvement.  Due to watching a shitstorm of P-word drama unfold online, I started to have reservations – not at all because of the people directing the event, but because of the cacophony outside. In the long car ride back from PantheaCon, I had talked it over with Nathaniel, and decided no, taking it off of my digital calendar.  And because the universe has a divine sense of humor, that very evening when I got home, I received a message from one of those good friends that changed my mind. It pretty much cemented the message that I’d been receiving – that in order to combat that cacophony, people need movement and different perspectives. Back on the calendar it went.

And I’m really, really, really glad I did.

Technical notes: The venue was a definite upgrade – spacious, friendly, beautiful.  Alas, no longer a quick walk to downtown, but it was a very short drive (or slightly longer walk along a beautiful lake) to downtown Oly.

Due to traffic, we arrived after the opening ritual started, but that meant time to unwind and have some lunch before the first panel of the day, Plenary Session: Building Polytheist Community. Lots of interesting points here, but I took down the most amount of notes from Syren Nagakyrie’s part of the presentation, specifically that community does not and should not have a static “pinnacle” that it’s trying to achieve to follow with regular maintenance and general support, but to understand that it’s constantly growing, changing, dying, evolving, reforming.  John Beckett brought in a quote by Gordon White about starting simple, that we often try to complicate things too early, too quickly.  Excellent observation. His point of “putting the Gods at the center” resulted in my nearly subconscious drawing of an atom.  Though I’m not sure how much I agree with that concept, unless it also includes the nuance of the Self Divine – definitely something to mull over.  Another crucial point that was made: decisions and communities are made by those who show up.  Showing up means getting involved in some way – which brings up one of my pet peeves – people who complain about events, but don’t actually bother to participate or offer some way to make it better.  Put up or shut up. If you don’t like it, then work to build your own in the way you can.  Otherwise, bitching online about it is pointless and useless, and only about drawing attention to your self, not building community.  (Ahem, soapbox rant entirely presented by me here, not the panel.) 

After that, it was time for my own presentation: Sigils in Motion: Sacred Movement.  The room was enormous, which ended up being a good thing to accommodate the 40-50 people who showed up.  From the feedback, it seemed very well-received and inspiring to a lot of people, so that makes me really happy.

After a quick dinner downtown, Anaar and I made it back for Gwion and Phoenix’s Rhiannon – A Devotional to the Great Welsh Queen.  It was a lovely experience, and I learned some new aspects of Rhiannon that will have me thinking for a while. Afterwards, we “prepped” for the Mankeys’ Dionysian Revival Ritual.  It was a lot of fun and a great way to end the evening, with my favorite part being Ari playing the part of Persephone at the well, as I’m a huge Persephone geek. (surprise!)  Short on sleep, I didn’t make a late night of it.

Saturday brought something new and different to MGW – having one day of vending!  As an event producer myself, as well as a presenter, artist, and vendor, I believe that vending does bring multiple excellent elements to an event.  It helps directly support artisans in the community (makers, artists, writers, etc), vending fees can help offset venue costs, and it allows for a good atmosphere for people to meet and talk about what they do.  The downside of having it one day was that we spent most of the morning setting up, and then once I was done, I just wanted to sit and soak it in for a bit – resulting in me missing all of the daytime panels, several of which I was really interested in.  For next year, if the vending expands to the entire event, set-up can happen before the panels kick-off, and not break down until the end of Sunday, which makes scheduling time to attend things easier.  All that said, I didn’t have any expectations, so I was beyond pleased with the response to my artwork and having many great conversations with folks along the day.  So even though I missed planned panels, I was able to talk extensively with folks I may not have had a chance to otherwise.

For dinner I had a steak as big as my face, and I needed it to have stamina for our presentation of the De-Possession Ritual.  Folks might not have known (I don’t think there was a group bio in the program), but Anaar, myself, and Gwion & Phoenix all come from separate traditions.  We had a common point of inspiration back at PantheaCon, and this presentation was the result of it.  We each brought our own flavor to the overall ritual, with the distinct intent to keep things fluid with a light outline, letting the attendees help us shape how the evening would go.  It felt very much successful, and it was wonderful to work with everyone – I expect there will be more collaborations in the future.  My only sad point was that many of my friends were presenting the Antinoan Devotion opposite of us on the schedule, so we missed experiencing each other’s rituals. Doh.

Afterwards, got to get some good socializing in with folks, but alas, staying off campus with family meant heading out a bit earlier (and more sober) than I would have liked.  Next year, definitely staying on campus!

I had plans to attend panels on Sunday, but when Sunday rolled around, my body and brain wasn’t having it.  Headed over for hugs and seeing some friends off, then started back home.  I was asleep in bed with cats piled on top of me by the time the last panels started.

I really love the size and feel of MGW – it helps you become more familiar with really fascinating people, and the format is not so overwhelming – despite it being hard to choose between 2-3 options.  I missed attending the tea room and the healing room, which I have heard great things about.  In contrast to the first year, it’s funny that the majority of things I attended this year were rituals versus workshops like last year, and I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out in my own life. It is definitely a worthwhile and beautiful event to be a part of it!  And I think everyone who attends is truly made to feel a part of it.

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