What you say? I did two large festivals back to back? PantheaCon AND ConVocation? Why yes, yes I did. And I survived! How? Why!
In recent years, in an effort to expand my audience and connections, I have been adding what I call “risk” events to my travel schedule. The risk refers to spending money to possibly make money and grow my network. As an independent artist married to an independent musician, there’s often not a lot of financial cushion or down time. For most conventions and festivals that we do professionally, we’re generally paid to be there to perform/teach/etc – and that tends to also include travel and accommodations. So for me to purchase booth space, registration, pay for flights and hotel rooms, that’s a significant risk factor. (Paganicon was one of my major risk events last year, and it paid off! And this year I’m honored to be a Guest of Honor!)
Jason Mankey talked highly of ConVocation in Detroit, MI, so I figured, what the hell, let’s be totally insane and do it! Alas, I missed the vendor deadline, but I got into the Art Show. I also had my “Art of Sigil Magick” presentation accepted. I also had Southwest points to cover one of the flights, and a dance buddy to share a hotel room with. Since I did haven’t a booth nor any of my music/movement offerings were accepted, it meant leaving Nathaniel at home to cut down on costs – which the cats were happy about.
So essentially, we got home late on Tuesday, I spent Wednesday doing laundry, prepping artwork, and packing. Thursday I was up at 3:45am to catch a 6:30am flight to Detroit. I was rewarded with a rendezvous with my friends Storm Faerywolf and Devin Hunter in Chicago! They’re just as nutty as me, because they also just did PantheaCon too. (Read Storm’s round-up here).
After checking in, we parted ways while I found the Art Show Room and got down to business. I wisely had set aside 20 of my “shrine” pieces and 6 of my large “temple” pieces, along with prints and coloring books to populate my display. Following my tendency to “go big or don’t bother,” I had purchased the largest space available, and luckily had also scored the space you see first upon entering. I hadn’t even finished setting up or checking in when people started taking the art down to purchase it, so that was a great sign!
Once I was done, I got settled into my room, checked in to registration, then realized I was starving. Everybody I knew was off doing their own thing, so I dined alone…and ate ALL THE THINGS. (San Jose DoubleTree needs to take a page from the Detroit-Dearborn one – fantastic dinner buffet for $16? SO THERE. Also their breakfast buffet was $12 for con-goers with more options. Seriously guys, I’m all about the food.)
Then I had to choose between Jason’s workshop or Storm’s. Knowing I would see Jason again in 2 weeks at Paganicon, I went to Storm’s (but not without stopping to check in on Jason and help him find his power ;)) “Intro to Feri.” There is now a running theme/joke that people think I’m Feri (a different blog post on that coming soon), so I figured it would be good to find out more WHY people think that. It was enjoyable! Then margaritas were had! Later that evening, I discovered my room was across the way from the “Scotch room”, which was a delight for me in my pajamas.
Somewhere Thursday night, I had the following revelation: I’m in Detroit. (duh, right?) No, this was a revelation because I suddenly remembered that the woman behind my favorite episode of The Moth was from Detroit…and a Witch! Would she be at ConVocation too? Looking her up, I didn’t immediately find her name (Dame Wilburn) with anything on the schedule, then I saw the photo in the program next to “Dameon” and made the connection. Alas, her presentations were against other ones I was either presenting or involved in, but I tweeted to her about my possible fangirldom (I rarely fangirl folks….but I must have listened to her story at least a dozen times…I am an NPR nerd.) She graciously responded for me to come and find her, which I did (well, she was suddenly there in the hallway on the way to the Art Show, so the Fates decreed it…), and hopefully I didn’t come off as creeper witch. I also suck at remembering to take photos, so oh well.
So that set the theme for Friday to be MEET ALL THE PEOPLE. I first spied Dodie Graham McKay and Kerr Cuhalain in Jason’s “Wica to Wicca” workshop – then we met later officially that evening. Dodie and I hit it off (I seem to be collecting Canadians…), and I alas missed Dame’s ritual while we were consuming red meat like beasts. Followed by the world’s most sincere hot tub and thunderstorm. (Dodie has a great write-up of ConVo here, minus the feasting of flesh and bubbling witches notes..) Not having a lot to do on Friday really allowed for me to enjoy myself and not overdo it.
I eased into Saturday morning, taking extra time to prepare for my “Art of Sigil Magick” workshop. I was worried about there being the tech I needed (a pad or whiteboard, a projector), but thankfully they were all there….and the room was beyond packed. I think it was set to seat about 40-50, and we had far more than that: people all over the floor, standing in the back – for 90 minutes! A few people commented that they loved that I was so excited about what I was teaching – which I found amusing, because shouldn’t everyone be excited about what they are teaching? Just a thought. Anyway, the class was super enthusiastic, and I think most people really enjoyed it.
(I’m going to skip over the trip to Wendy’s…)
Then Storm, Devin, Jason, and I gathered to go over Jason’s “Witch Cult” ritual. I was to be “The Maiden” – so I decided to take that to the Huntress/Diana level and wear my antlers. (I actually remembered to bring them, versus having to craft a pair out of straws…). It was interesting for me to participate in two different rituals crafted by others, one week apart – and both had extensive notes and scripts. Definitely a challenge for me, as my ritual tends to be a lot less…scripted and more improv on the spot. But I did it!
Afterwards, I got changed for the Masquerade Ball – though I spent more time in the bar and at various room parties then in the actual ballroom. However, I was introduced to the tradition of the singing of the “Mekong” song by The Refreshments (one of my favorite 90’s bands), so that was awesome. Less awesome was the guy whose hand lingered a bit too long on my back afterwards, but that’s another thing. Overall, I had a great evening just talking and drinking with folks.
Sunday morning was packing up the hotel room and then the art show, then an early ride to the airport where I then consumed more meat. I managed to sell 14 of the shrine pieces, 4 of the temple pieces, and a lot of prints and coloring books. So in terms of both the Art Show and the new people I met (and there are sooo many more people I could list, but I don’t want this to be name-drop central, but much love to many new folks!), ConVocation was definitely worth the risk for me.
It definitely has a different feel to me than PantheaCon, yet there’s this odd-sensation that everyone looks familiar – you just don’t know them yet! It was weird for me to travel without Nathaniel, and that may have made me more aware that I appeared to be a single woman – which led to a few awkward moments. (One partner + 3 cats is enough for me.) But overall, I definitely enjoyed myself and experiencing another facet of the P-word community. I hope to be back next year!