Intersections: A Pagan View of Modern Culture

An exploration of culture, the arts, and science through the lens of modern paganism.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Learning from Pagans of Color at Pantheacon

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I’m still trying to wrap my head around Pantheacon 2015. It was a very different con for me, a strange mix of ups and downs. It started off incredibly when I got to watch my wife present for the first time. She got wonderful feedback on her work as a hypnotherapist. Throughout the con, and even after the con, a number of people expressed their appreciation for her session and for the work she did for them.

I got to help Shauna Aura Knight in her ritual facilitation workshop. By simply repeating a chant about Air as three others chanted the other elements, we raised some pretty amazing energy in a small space. I got a tiny glimpse of her ritual skills, and it left me wanting more. Much more.

I was the bad kid in a class on knot-tying, that poor student who wants to learn but needs the individualized attention from a teacher too busy to give it. There was important lesson there for this high school teacher to learn. My fellow witches and I sent protection to the witches of future at Devin Hunter’s Rite of Grand Convergence, and I worked to restore order in the world with Christopher Penczak. I met with men about men’s issues, talked with David Salisbury about establishing a Pagan lobbying day in the nation’s capital, and had the opportunity to meet Krampus, who was taking a break from his holiday season duties.


Those were the ups, but then there were the downs.


My new friend Krampus had some bad children to flog at this Pantheacon. As you may have already heard by now, PantyCon, the satirical newsletter that always appears at Pantheacon, published an Onion-esque blurb that was aimed at the recent failings of the Covenant of the Goddess and other groups to adequately address the fact that Black Lives Matter, but the language frightened and angered Pagans of Color. Here is what it said:


Ignoring Racism: A Workshop for White Pagans
Large Umbrella Pagan Group

Isn’t all this talk of social justice and racism just tiring? Don’t you wish you could just ignore it and put out meaningless statements of pure pablum? We’ll discuss how to ignore requests for consideration by pagans of color, cover up racist actions of high-ranking members, and pretend that you don’t understand the resulting outrage. Remember, #AllLivesMatter, except when it’s uncomfortable or inconvenient.

Large Umbrella Pagan Group has been around for long enough that they think that they can get away with this stuff.


Like many others, I found it kind of funny. I thought it was clearly aimed at CoG and other organizations who stumbled around trying to find the simple words to say that racism is wrong. I’m sure that is what the author thought too. But it failed to take into account how people of color, who it was supposedly supporting, would feel. Jonathan Korman at the Miniver Cheevy blog has done a wonderful job of examining this angle on the issue.  I encourage you to sign on to his letter if you choose to.

It hurt people. It hurt in a way that I, as a white heterosexual cis-male can’t really understand. Worse, there were reportedly people who expressed that they would have liked to attend this session if it were real. To me, that’s the real concern. Satire forces out truth, and the fact that some convention attendees expressed a desire to attend a session that worked on ignoring the rights of people of color validates the concerns expressed by the Pagans of Color Caucus.

On Monday morning, a meeting was organized to air out concerns about the issue. I attended, but stayed back, knowing that my role was to listen, not speak. My job was to listen to people of color the way that they have had to listen to others over the past 300 years.

There was a lot of pain in that session, but one single piece of pain stuck with me. From what I saw, it also struck a chord in other white allies. I learned that Pagans of Color have an entire back channel of Twitter hashtags and private messages meant to ensure that they can safely walk the halls of the con. They need this feed to create a buddy system to ensure that they are safe as they navigate the halls.

Part of me rebels at that. I want to say, “Of course you’re safe. Pagans aren’t racists. We’re all minorities.” But then I remember that there were Pagans who said they’d love to come to that satirical pro-racism session. My thoughts seem pointless. I have much more to learn.

I think that’s the big recognition out of all of this. We all have more to learn. There will always be more to learn. Diversity and opposing, even shocking points of view force us out of our ignorance and into an ever more real world of pain, struggle, and truth. It’s not pleasant, but it’s real. When we listen with our hearts, without the walls of protection we so naturally seek to construct, we learn from the lived experience of others and begin to understand how we can move toward true equality. We leave provincialism and move toward true community. It’s not about shedding tears; it's not about defensiveness. It’s about helping everyone thrive.



Last modified on
I am a teacher, theater lover, and witch who loves both reason and magick. I believe that all things are connected, so I strive to write about connections between Paganism, pop culture, science, and the arts. My work was published in the Ancestors of the Craft anthology and in Finding the Masculine in the Goddess’ Spiral.  


  • Piper
    Piper Thursday, 19 February 2015

    Sorry I missed this year, I enjoyed last year alot, The POC suite was full of great people, and there were more offerings along my paths and those I knew nothing about. I have been a practicing curandero sine the 70's and until last year had never encountered another a PCON. While I am a POC that would have been very amused by the pantycon article, I do understand how some would view it and I do think Jonathan wrote a well reasoned appeal to the authors of the piece. I would also ask that everyone support his call for forgiveness of the package (tone, language etc.) of the message, But hold that message as the truth it is. I see more cultural appropriation at PCON than at a hipster music festivals and more viciously unapologetic. My soap box I am now off rant.
    Thank you for sharing your Pcon, I am enjoying the vicarious thrill

  • Tim Titus
    Tim Titus Thursday, 19 February 2015

    Thanks Piper. I agree with your thoughts. I felt that Jonathan Korman's letter was well done and the response from the PantyCon writers showed true apology while also presenting some very thought provoking ideas. It reminds us that there are people behind the newsletter, and people make mistakes. They aren't evil. They just made a mistake like we all do.

  • Please login first in order for you to submit comments

Additional information