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PantheaCon - My wonderful moments

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I went to PantheaCon this past weekend. PantheaCon is a real, honest to goodness gathering of all sorts of folks that identify in some way as Pagan. It's made up of vendors and presenters and ritualists and authors and seekers and party people and dabblers and long, long time practitioners.

There were many moments throughout the conference that just made me proud of being a Pagan and more than a few moments where I was in complete awe of our community at large. As I was writing this piece, I noticed that I tend not to write about other people in the Pagan community, but rather about my experiences as a Pagan. So this is a bit of a departure for me.


Wonderful Moment #1 - Putting the Pan into PantheaCon

Jason Mankey, a well known and prolific blogger, was presenting a workshop called "The Horned God 2.0" in which he traced the many faces of antlered or horned deities from antiquity to the present. It's a thoughtful piece of work that marries facts with fiction, knowledge and assumptions and left me with a real sense of why I'm so affected by the images of a shadowy figure in the forest with a crown of antlers. But that's not what was so special about Jason's presentation.

Jason is quite public in his adoration of Pan, but when he's in "presenter mode" one rarely gets to glimpse how he personally relates to or feels about Pan. Towards the end of the workshop, Jason cited several poems about Pan and that's when it happened. He stopped reading the poems and began breathing them to life. Something shifted, and I must say, it was incredibly beautiful. It appeared to me as if Jason was in communion with his beloved. The words became a prayer and an invocation. His body movements changed, his voice changed and as the last words faded into silence, he slammed his notebook and said "Now THAT'S my Pan."  

I had goosebumps on my arms, the hairs on the back of my neck were standing at attention and there were tears streaming down my cheeks. The factual workshop turned into a stunning ritual invocation and left me speechless.



Wonderful Moment #2 - The Eye of the Storm

"Betwixt and Between" was billed as a ritual designed to open the doors and journey to the faery realms. What it became was a masterful piece of public priestessing. Storm Faerywolf lead a group of nearly a hundred or so people through a realms trance. His technique was expert and he clearly loves the subject matter. But again, it wasn't how well he leads a trance that was impressive. There was a distraction. I won't say more about it here, but let's just say there was clearly a disruption in the flow. It became clear to Storm that he'd have to take action, but he and a hundred-odd people were deep in it.

Imagine his predicament and what must have gone through his head - Stop the ritual? Ignore the disruption and let it impact or ruin the evening for everyone else? Tough choices indeed. But drawing on his thirty years of experience, he deftly and effortlessly diffused the situation and quickly returned to his role of facilitating the evening's work without missing a beat.

In that moment, I thought of my own teaching path and reflected on my teachers and my teacher's teachers and the arduous, unheralded years of practicing the Craft and the craft of the Craft for just such moments.




Wonderful Moment #3 - The wise men

As PantheaCon rolled on, I found myself increasingly drawn to the company of men. I've detected a peculiar and fascinating ache in the stories that many Pagan men, from many Pagan traditions are telling. I sense that there's a growing need for dialogue between men and about men. So I found myself in a hospitality suite sponsored by a Pagan men's group that I'm part of and in a workshop for and about men (both were open to folks of all genders and folks of all genders were in attendance at the workshop).

In both cases, I'd say the wide and diverse spectrum of men were so well represented. We dived deep into our practices, explored our myths, and talked publicly about our desires for what manhood could be defined as. What became so apparent to me is that the men gathered in those rooms were not interested in the status quo. Most were aware that our dominant culture needs more men like us that are willing to say "I don't subscribe to your definition of a man or men's roles". That these conversations are occurring and that the stories are so similar, confirms for me that real and sustaining changes are possible and, in fact, happening.


Did you attend PantheaCon? What was your experience like?


Notes: I have the expressed permission of Jason Mankey and Storm Faerywolf to share portions of their presentations or their experiences of their work for the sake of this article.

Note: I used the term "priestessing" to describe Storm's work. I believe Storm would use the term "priesting"

Note: I attended very many rituals and presentations that featured folks of all genders that also had some real "aha" moments in them. I'm focusing this article on men, because is just sorta happened that way!

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I've been a practicing witch and ritualist within the Reclaiming Tradition since 2003. I love being in service with this community of witches and world changers.   My own practice, my own way of changing the world is through devotional practice. It's my belief that we can re-enchant our lives by re-framing the so-called "mundane" as sacred and divine. By imbuing the familiar with a sense of wonder and infusing daily life with acts of magic, we choose to consciously make all of life devotion. Whether we engage in large, public rituals or sink sumptuously into the pure ecstasy of eating a delicious meal by ourselves or meditating at sunrise, our daily rituals can draw us back into harmony with the world and each other.  


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