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 :)