28 February 2013

Pantheacon 2013 Recap

Two conventions on two consecutive weekends is really one convention too many.  I desperately needed a breather in there somewhere, but instead I went straight back to work to earn that pesky "living wage" thing.  Ah well.  I feel like I need to sleep for a week.  Here is my report on this year's Pantheacon.

After four days of magickal madness I was content, excited, and completely exhausted.  I have to say that this year might have been my favorite Pantheacon yet.  I went to amazing workshops, powerful rituals, and met some great people. I have to give huge kudos to the organizers this year because I think things went very smoothly, despite a bad case of con crud that decimated our numbers (including me) and made schedules a bit erratic.

I got down to California on Wednesday afternoon with the rest of our Seattle contingent and enjoyed spending a low key evening with friends that involved massive amounts of tea and sushi - as it should.  On Thursday we began our day by visiting the Winchester Mystery House, which I had always wanted to visit but had never had the chance.  It was all that I hoped it would be with its ookie yet beautiful architecture and resident spirits.  I saw the ghost of a young woman in fancy dress looking up at us angrily from a staircase.  She wasn't frightening at all, just rather annoyed with us.

We checked into the hotel that evening and were happy to see that the casino across the road had finished construction and had a decent restaurant in it.  Food is always a bit of a problem at Pantheacon since the regular hotel rooms don't have fridges and the restaurants in the Doubletree are super busy and less than spectacular.  We had a nice dinner and then I went back to my room to finalize my notes for my presentation.

Friday began early, with my pre-workshop nerves waking me up at 6:30am to finish up my handout and get it down to the printers.  We checked in and got our badges just after reg opened and had no lines or issues of any kind.  Then we sat down for a spell of people watching before heading to the presentation room.  I talked about my presentation earlier, so I won't rehash that here.

I decided to skip the next presentation slot and decompress by visiting the splendor of the vendor room.  On of the gals I was with had never been to Pantheacon before and had no idea of the garden of temptations she was about to enter.  Watching her eyes pop out of her head was quite enjoyable.  She didn't make it a quarter of the way through the room before she found something she just "had" to have.  I felt quite lucky that I both knew what the vendor room was like and that I had a full compliment of tools before going in there.  This year the vendors were really at the top of their game.

I wound down the evening quietly.  After dinner I went up to to the CoG suite and met a bunch of very cool people.  It was a little intimidating walking into an established group as an outsider seeking entry and I had to fight my nerdly inclination to sit quietly in a corner.  Why is it that I can happily present to a hundred strangers, but approaching a stranger in a one on one situation is terrifying?  The world may never know. 

Saturday began with the CAYA Waking Up the Spirit ritual.  It was a fun and engaging ritual that really started my day off on the right foot.  It was all about recognizing the divine in all the folks around us and I think it helped me to approach the rest of the con with a more open mind.  After that it was over to Kay Pannell's Magickal Stones workshop which was very interesting.  She approached crystal work as a geologist, and thus had very different ideas of which stones did which things than a lot of mainstream crystal guides.  It was really interesting and I'm quite looking forward to her writing a book about it.

Then I hopped over to the vendor room for the Grey School picture.

After lunch it was time for a little Vodou 101.  I know a little about Vodou, just what I've gotten from a few books really.  I'm coming to realize that Vodou is a lot like any other branch of magickal beliefs - you get really different explanations of the same thing from the different people you ask.  It's all quite fascinating.

That evening I went to one of the most entertaining rituals I've ever participated in: Papa Gede's Boneyard Boogie.  Oh yes, it was a New Orleans jazz style devotional to honor the ancestors.  There was singing, dancing, drumming, and a whole lot of incredible energy.  If they do this again next year I am so there :)

After that I went to an interesting presentation byJason Pitz-Water on Gods and Goddesses of the Forge.  I went to their workshop on Hecate last year that was fantastic, so I had high expectations.  I admit it was a bit of a let down.  The material was mostly interesting, but by 9pm my energy was flagging and I think theirs was too.  They spent a goodly chunk of time reading deity descriptions off a piece of paper and it was less than thrilling.

On Sunday I slept in and decided to get some Starbucks rather than run to a 9am workshop.  That left me refreshed when I went to Jason Pitz-Water's workshop Preserving Our Past, Preparing Our Future.  It was a really interesting discussion on preserving the work of our elders, making things more accessible, and bridging the divide between the old guard community elders and the tech driven solitary newcomers.  I think this and the hallway discussions afterwards were probably my most valuable moments at Pcon this year.  There's a great write-up of that workshop over on Patheos that I highly recommend.

After grabbing a quick peanut butter sandwich in my room I ran to a 1:30 over in Club Max where Thalassa was talking tarot.  This one wins as one of the most entertaining presentations I went to.  She was hilarious!  I think the technical glitches she had to deal with just made the whole thing more entertaining.  She basically talked about how she essentially scrys her tarot cards rather than following the book definitions because the book definitions rarely feel right.  Since I do tarot exactly the same way I felt quite a kinship with the folks in that room.  It was good fun.

After that is was a workshop on Public Ritual presented by the Dark Forest coven - the same group that put on Papa Gede's Boneyard Boogie.  It was a fun workshop on what to do and, more particularly, what not to do in a big public ritual.  We all had a good laugh talking about our "worst ritual moments."  It reminded me of the ritual I went to where the organizers called the quarters into the corner of the room so no one could hear them and then did what I can only describe as a symbolic great rite quickie.  Ah, memories.

I took the evening off to do some divination and catch up on some writing in my room.  By Monday morning I had completely run out of steam and spent my time having a leisurely breakfast after a mad dash to pack and check out in time for our driver to get to a 9am workshop.  I spent the rest of the morning cruising the vendor room and sitting out in the wifi area attempting to ground.

All in all it was a fabulous and utterly exhausting weekend.  I can't wait to do it all again next year :)

26 February 2013


So, we got a new firewall at work.  It's setup to block virus, pornography, gambling, gaming, etc.  Sounds reasonable right?  One problem.  It classifies magick and the occult as "adult/mature" content.  Doesn't filter the bible, abortion, or mainstream news.  Doesn't filter tumblr.com (which will let you browse pornography with the right tag search) but does filter out my tumblr if you go to it directly because it's got the witchcraft tag on it. 

This kinda pisses me off.  I kind of want to write to SonicWall and bitch at them for discriminating against the magickal community.  I'm not ok with this.  If I can go to Catholic.org I should be able to go to The Wild Hunt.   And yet I can go to Witchvox.com?  Makes no sense whatsoever. 

Time to go all lawyer on them.

22 February 2013

Faeriecon West

Tonight I'm headed to Faeriecon West, right here in grey and damp Seattle.  It looks to be quite an interesting event.  They seem to be trying to attract a very broad audience, with presenters from the worlds of art, literature, fantasy, and magick all together.  It will be really interesting to see how well the different folks can mesh together. 

They've also got a great mix of musicians performing, including one of my favorites Adam Hurst.  I haven't heard him play since the last time he did the Portland Vampire Ball, so I'm hoping to make at least one of his performances.

Also quite squee worthy, one of my favorite illustrators, Stephanie Pui-Mun Law,will be there.  This is the gal that does the exquisite Shadowscape Tarot deck that I love so much.

The con is all weekend, the 22-24th.  I'll definitely be there tonight, and may be back for bits and pieces on Saturday and Sunday.

515 Madison Street
Seattle, WA 98104

19 February 2013

Conflict Resolution for Magickal Communities - Handout

On Friday I had the privilege of presenting at Pantheacon on the topic of Conflict Resolution for Magickal Communities.  It was an intimate workshop with as much group discussion as lecture (which I always love). I felt honored that folks who attended were primarily elders in their communities looking for ways to improve their group dynamics. I think I probably learned as much from their comments during the discussion as they did during my lecture.  It was a wonderful exchange of ideas and I hope I can continue such an important dialog next year.

One of the best things brought up by an attendee was the topic of dealing fairly with income disparity in a magickal group.  Holding public ritual, feasting, obtaining tools, ritual space, etc., all takes money and some have more to give than others.  In order to make sure everyone is able to contribute equally, although in different ways, the attendee's coven invites its members to contribute "talent, time, or treasure."  People can create objects, sing, volunteer, or give cash, all depending on their personal situation.  It's a very fair way to approach a sticky subject.

For those of you who weren't able to attend, here are the contents of my handout from that workshop.  It doesn't make perfect sense without the lecture component, so feel free to ask for clarification.

3 Tools for Conflict Resolution

Identifying positions vs. underlying interests.
• Positions are a person's assertion of opinion about what they want.
• Positions are often "my" statements. E.g. "My way is 'x'" or "I need you to do 'y'."
• Underlying interests are the needs and desires that motivate people. E.g. Safety or validation.
• Ask "why"? If there is more than one possible answer to "why do you want that?," then that is not the underlying interest - it's a position.

Check your understanding.
• If you want to be listened to, you must be willing to listen.
• Make sure you really understand what is being said - don't assume.
• Reflect back, paraphrase, and ask if you got it right.
• Restate what appear to be the most important points to the speaker, not what is important to you.

Validate and respect emotions without buying into them.
• The experience of emotion is always valid and genuine, even if the reasons they are being experienced doesn't seem to be.
• Empathize with the speaker's experience, but remain objective.
• Excessive buy-in (over identification) clouds judgment.

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In
Dealing with People You Can’t Stand
Mediating Dangerously: The Frontiers of Conflict Resolution

16 February 2013

Saturday Night Marathon

Why are all the good workshops so late at night? I just got out of a great ritual called Papa Gede's Boneyard Boogie. It was a fun New Orleans jazz ritual for the ancestors. Next up is Gods and Goddesses of the Forge presented by the K's. I'm hoping to make it to an 11pm ritual tonight because there's a Kali Puja. How often do you get to do that? Need more caffeine.

Pantheacon - Day 2

I just attended one of the better rituals I've been to at any Pantheacon. Huge kudos to CAYA coven on a great ritual on waking up the spirit. It's wonderful to start the day with a life affirming, energetic, and inclusive ritual. Recognizing the divine in yourself and others, thanking the powers that aid you in your life, and a great spiral dance should be the way I wake up every day!

15 February 2013

Pantheacon Morning

It's finally here! It's Pantheacon morning. I'm working on a few last minute presentation details before I run to the copy center to make my handouts. The reg desk opens in a few hours and at 1:30 in Pine I'll be talking about conflict resolution. Very exciting!

11 February 2013

Prepping for Pantheacon

I cannot believe Pantheacon starts on Friday.  Where the hell did the last few months go?

I leave for San Jose Wednesday morning and will probably spend most of the trip frantically writing myself presentation notes.  My workshop, Dispute Resolution for Magickal Communities, is on Friday at 1:30 in Pine.  Originally it had been set for the Silicon Valley room, a tiny little room that seats about 25 people, but was switched to Pine a few weeks ago.  Pine is one of the big ballrooms that seats over a hundred people.  Will that many people show up?  Probably not, but a girl can hope right ;)

Dispute resolution isn't exactly a whiz-bang topic, but it's incredibly important and it's something the magickal community desperately needs more of.  We've had too much sniping and hard feelings at the convention the last few years.  I really hope my presentation can help us create a better dialogue and set a more positive tone for things this year.  If I had to choose three things that I hope people will come away from my presentation with it would be:
  • The ability to clearly see their own conflicts
  • The ability to really listen to someone they're angry with
  • The ability to clearly communicate what they really mean
Just a few little things really ;) 

I'm quite glad my workshop is so early in the con.  It means I can get the hard part over with right away and then get on to enjoying the rest of the convention.   Of course, it also means I might get roped into mediating anything that comes up during the rest of the con, but that's ok too. 

06 February 2013

Protection Balm

A protective balm is a solid lotion (think lip balm) that you can anoint yourself with when you need extra protective energy.  Rub the balm on your temples, pulse points, the back of your neck, the base of your spine, or anywhere else you’re feeling vulnerable.

To make a discreet and portable protective balm you will need:
  • ½ oz. beeswax (either a solid chunk that’s been grated or small pearls)
  • ¼ c. olive oil
  • 40-80 drops of a protective essential oil(s) (e.g. dragon’s blood, sage, rosemary, or any of the oils discussed in “Defensive Techniques 301”)
  • A closable container to hold the finished product (Any discreet container will work, e.g. old lip balm tins or even a clean mini-altoid tin.  If you want to get a special tin just for this I recommend those found at Mountain Rose Herbs http://www.mountainroseherbs.com/supply/tins.html)
  • Optional - small protective stones (e.g. hematite, malachite, jet, etc.)
  • Optional - a small amount of crushed protective herbs (e.g. angelica, bay, clove, etc.)

Begin by preparing your container(s).  Make sure your container(s) is(are) clean and dry.  Place the container(s) on a heatproof surface (such as a trivet or cutting board), near where you will be heating your oil and wax base.  If you are using small stones or herbs, place 1 stone and/or a pinch of crushed herb to the container.

Combine the olive oil and beeswax in a heatproof bowl and melt the wax either in a double boiler or the microwave.  If using a double boiler, melt the wax over fairly low heat and remove it from the heat as soon as it’s fully melted.  If using the microwave, melt the wax by setting the microwave on high for 10-15 seconds, then stir.  Repeat until the wax is fully melted.  

Test the consistency of your balm by dripping a few drops on a plate you’ve chilled in the refrigerator..  This will quickly cool the balm to its normal consistency.  If you’d like a more solid balm add a little bit more wax, and if you’d like a more liquid balm add a little more oil.  (I personally prefer a solid balm because it’s less likely to make a mess in your pocket on a warm day.)

*CAUTION* Do not overheat the oils, they are flammable! If your oils begin to smoke remove them from the heat IMMEDIATELY!

Once the wax is fully melted add your essential oil(s) and stir to combine.  Once combined carefully pour your mixture into your container(s) and let cool until solid.  When the balm has solidified you can close your container and take it with you wherever you’ll need it.