This was my first PantheaCon, and I have never met a warmer, welcoming, and spirited group seeking to share and learn / experience together the richness of what it means to be Pagan.
I had the opportunity to attend PantheaCon 2017 last weekend, and have been thinking about it and processing the experience all week. For anybody who is not familiar with it, this is the largest (indoor) Pagan conference in the country, and with over 2,000 attendees, it may also be the most inclusive. There were young people and older people, those with various (dis)abilities, shapes, sizes, colors, cultures, creeds, and levels of understanding and intensities. Children and dogs were present and welcome, too!
Yes, there was a diversity of practices, belief systems, and religious plurality as well!
Given this festive event over President’s Weekend in San Jose, California, and given I took a flight before the sun came up on Friday morning and then back home after the sun went down for the red eye on Sunday evening, I felt I was intentional in my actions enough to embrace all the experiences I was able, while also not doing it to an extent that I did not take care of my own needs and comfort levels. In this manner, it was a success.
There were several people, sessions, rituals, and experiences that really made the time memorable for me. Moreover, many of these continue to have an effect on me, and before we get too far from PantheaCon, I want to share my top 8 memories from the event. Like the Wheel of the Year that helps us orient time in quarters and cross-quarters, I will do similarly, also in some loosely related order of their happening (and not necessarily in order of importance or impact).
I will not make any claim that one was better than the other, but my PantheaCon experience would have been lessened had any of these not been present.
- ADO Triskelion Ritual Connecting with Land, Sea & Sky & the Awen— I had been wanting to experience one of the Anglesey Druid Order’s rituals, and as it was led by Kristoffer Hughes, it could not have been more reverent, prayful, and hysterically funny than it was. That I met Kris in person after knowing him from a distance for many years made it only more special.
- The Awen I sing from the Deep I bring it — The second of the two sessions I attended of Kris’, and this time I was able to get two of his books I did not have. Again, for anybody who has never heard Kris present, he has a way of taking very serious material and making it so funny and fitting, that I can only wish I presented more like him. Next stop, Wales!
- Magickal drumming – Ritual/Ceremonial Drumming workshop — Don Schulz did such a wonderful session that I bought one of the drums he used during this before I left on Sunday evening.
- Into The Labyrinth: Change Through Movement — Laura “Tempest” Zakroff had me moving in ways that I usually do not. Nothing revealing or the like, but as I spend so much time living in my head instead of in my body, this helped me experience something that I often try to avoid, namely bodily movement and feeling comfortable in my own skin.
- Thanks to the Aquarian Tabernacle Church for hosting their “Drunken Divination Party.” Lots of fun, snacks, and drinks, along with the sense that there was a healthy community present; kudos Dusty! Not only was I able to get a fantastic reading from Phaedra Bonewits (she was spot on before even sharing my question for the cards), but I also had the opportunity to spend time and many laughs with Shade, Cotodia, and Rick, all of whom contributed more than I was able to share back! Ever have the feeling that you have known folks much longer than the calendar indicates?
- My visit to the SHARANYA Hospitality Suite was a rich, rich experience, finally allowing me to meet with Chandra, the greatest spiritual nonprofit and fundraising professional I know!
- I was able to spend two occasions with my colleagues from AODA (Ancient Order of Druids in America) — Larisa, Mizket, Pkford, Carmiac, and Oliver. How good is that — speak and learn with and through these distant grove-mates over the years and finally meet, informally more than once, at PantheaCon! Next year we should schedule something as well, perhaps for the benefit of the larger Con!
- Finally, I had the opportunity and privilege to have deep and exciting conversations with Laura, who was kind enough to offer me a ride to and from the airport to the conference. Truly paying Karma forward and most humbly passing it on.
There are many others who I met along the way whose presence added to my experience, but I wanted to share this while we were still within the week from the Con. Thanks to the many who helped make this such a spectacular event. I hope to take what I learned and share it back tenfold.