Holding a Torch to Illuminate: PantheaCon Round-Up

Holding a Torch to Illuminate: PantheaCon Round-Up March 3, 2017

I’m home! And I have about a dozen blog posts all angling to get out of my brain at the same time.  I figured the safest thing to do is to release them chronologically.  So first up is PantheaCon!

a view of my booth
a view of my booth

This was my 4th consecutive P-Con – I had previously attended from 2002-2006 when I still lived in the Bay Area, and presented 2003-2005 (that I can remember).  Each year, I try to sculpt my experience so it’s less stressful, that I get in social time with friends, and take care of myself – and I’m happy to report that I was much more successful this year.

Now there’s a tendency for folks to dis indoor conventions (vs outdoor festivals) as not being “real”, but as someone who is often vending, presenting, and performing – while I love being in nature, taking being directly in the weather and camping aspects out of the equation allows me to enjoy it more.  It means I have a better chance of getting respectable sleep, of acquiring hot food, and taking care of myself properly. That means more energy to focus on interacting with others!

We drove down from Seattle (like we do) on Wednesday – and minus some rainy weather in Oregon, it was an easy trip.  I credit this to our buying of snow chains for our new van right before we left. We stayed with family in the North Bay, then Thursday did the rest of the trek down to San Jose, which was made interesting by the recent rains flooding out some roads – but otherwise it was a brilliant beautiful day.

This year, vendors were allowed to load-in and set-up on Thursday evening.  SO MUCH LOVE.  I have a new set-up (gridwall that fits in our new van, that I couldn’t fit in my Toyota Matrix) and that can always be a stressful thing.  The past couple of years setting up on Friday morning trying to figure out the space had me at the point of a breakdown – which is an extremely rare thing in my world.  So having all of the time to work out the booth and hang art (it took about 5 hours) was glorious. I also had a team of awesome folks helping me sort out all of the Power Sigil and We Are Aradia merch.  Alas, this also meant I missed the Many Gods West meet and greet.

My "notes" from Judika's presentation
My “notes” from Judika’s presentation

Friday morning was a weird revelation in our hotel room (shared with our friends Anaar and Onyx) as we were all a bit mystified about not having to stress to set-up our booths and wondering what to do.  Overpriced breakfast buffet to the rescue! Pretty soon it was time to open the booth.  Not being stressed and having to focus on the booth meant I could leave Nathan in charge while I ran off to Judika Ille’s Witchcraft & Herbs presentation, which was lovely.  We have been corresponding online, and I wanted to introduce myself in person, but the room was packed and I had to get back to my booth.  I figured we had all weekend, but alas, as is the way of PantheaCon, some people you see everywhere and others you only get a brief blip.

Friday night was the Black Rose Sabbatic Dance Ritual – and Devin had invited Anaar and I to participate to help energize the dancing. It was a lovely theatrical presentation, complete with a choreographed broom dance and live DJ mixing experience.  Then a trip around the hospitality suites afterwards.

Saturday was supposed to be my more chill day with hitting a few more presentations, then performing in the Mythpunk Masquerade in the evening.  Then I realized that I had left my antlers at home.  (Like you do…)  I was supposed to wear them for one of the MM pieces, particularly for one of Betsy Tinney’s new songs.  And while there were plenty of horns to be had in the vendor room, no suitable antlers.  It was then that the words of my friend Steven Archer came to mind – he had commented on my fb post about the lack of antlers: make them out of straws.  At the time it had seemed a joke, but then my design brain kicked into gear – and I went to harvest some wooden coffee stirrers, napkins, tapes and tissue paper.  Yes, this is why I have a degree from a design school.  Lacking a headband, I had to do some tricky

pcon2
behold! antlers!

work to get them to stay put, but I was successful!

The year for the Mythpunk Masquerade, it was Sharon Knight and Winter, S.J. Tucker, Betsy Tinney, Nathaniel Johnstone and Dogwood – and me dancing. Instead of doing defined sets for each group like last year, the bands intermingled, sat in on each other’s songs, and basically kept it going for the whole time – which I think was much more successful overall. (Though maybe it was a bit confusing for the audience who was wondering which CDs to buy, who was doing what song – well, the answer is: BUY ALL THE CDS!).  Then this was following by a private room party with both dear and new friends – a perfect ending for the night.

Sunday was my marathon day – with a movement workshop (Into the Labyrinth) at 11am, and our ritual presentation (Hekate at the Crossroads) at 11pm.  This year, I was assigned one of the large ballrooms for the movement workshop, which was fantastic, because it was packed – yet we still had room to move.  This workshop was a new concept I especially designed for the theme of PantheaCon this year, and I’m super pleased with how it went.  We explored movement through journeying through our own life cycles – and there were several times that I was moved to tears watching the students embrace the dance and themselves.  It set the tone for the evening ritual – which was in the same large double ballroom the Sabbatic Dance had been in on Friday – and again, so very glad for the space, because we easily had 150-200 people in there.

Although Nathaniel and I had done this ritual at Paganicon, I didn’t have specific plans or expectations.  I knew I would have to read the room to determine how it developed and progressed.  For this incarnation, Nathaniel was on the stage with his violin and effects pedals – along with S.J. Tucker on vocals.  I sat in a chair in front of the stage (in a lighted area), triple-veiled.  That was what people saw as they entered the darkened room.  Then Sooj read the words I had written down for the welcome, and the music began.  After that moment, everything took on a different time, space, and feel – as is typical for invocations/possessions (at least for me).  One at a time, I shed each of the veils, moving around the room and engaging the crowd, then I invited them to join me in dance.  A huge spiral dance began, eventually culminating in the center of the room in an amazing cluster of bodies. Then words came for those who had gathered.

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback about the ritual, but some of the most interesting (to me), was that some people weren’t expecting it to be so “dark.”  This is a bit baffling to me considering Hekate is known as a “dark goddess” and the crossroads aren’t known for being a delicate place.  Nor would I have considered what was done unusually dark (for me).  Upon turning those words over now for nearly 2 weeks though, I think it’s about illumination, lighting the darkness.  We don’t know how dark something is, until we have a torch to light the way – and perhaps that’s what they meant. Hekate, for all of her underworld associations, does hold a torch in her hand.  She illuminates and guides us through our own darkness.  So that we can see it better, face it, and empower ourselves.

a book! a book!
a book! a book!

Oh, I forgot to mention that while taking a break from performing at the Mythpunk Masquerade, I checked my phone to discover a photo from Ari Mankey, showing Jason holding the galley of my book! I was missing the Llewellyn Suite Meet & Greet!  Since I was pretty much done performing (with a possibility of doing a few more songs, but more folks were getting up to dance, and there was no space on stage for me), I high-tailed it over the suite to lick my book.  (No I didn’t actually lick it, but I considered it).  And OMG bookmarks!

Now, it’s been decided that the Witch’s Tools series are all getting new covers, and it’s going to start with my book – so the image you see here is the old mock-up.  The new one is fabulous, and I’ll post more about that later.

Anyway, after Sunday’s ritual, I was wired until about 3am, so I spent time visiting with friends in their rooms and at the Black Rose suites (one of my favorites to hang out in).  Somehow I managed to be upright and fairly functional for most of Monday – which involved battling tremendous rain and flooding to get us out of town.  Thankfully, we stayed again with family instead of trying to rush home – and we were rewarded with a gloriously clear and beautiful drive home to Seattle.

To really fully document all of my PantheaCon experiences, I’d have to extend the length of this post by 3-4 times, and no one’s going to read that. (I congratulate you on getting down this far!).  Overall, I really had a blast this year.  It seemed very low drama (from my perspective) and I always love seeing friends and meeting new people.  If you’re looking to network with all sorts of P-words and experience really diverse programming (and soooo many choices), awesome shopping and socializing, then you should start planning to be at PantheaCon next year!

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