1. PantheaCon as always gives me such joy and such stress. This year however, I can honestly say was less stressful than the year before *by quite a margin*.
Inevitably though, other points must be made. Like the following:
2. No, actually. Your personal politics don’t belong in conversations about specific topics. But, your personal politics do have bearing on the kind of attention and platform you are creating for yourself (and others) when you present.
3. The work that happens in hospitality spaces should be respected. If someone says to you that the event is private and for an “affinity group” and you do NOT belong then your job is to accept it and move on. Being snotty to the person who gives you that information is NOT the way to respect the space. And it’s not very respectful of someone who has chosen to spend this time at the door letting in people who need to be in that space. They are taking time out of the potential offerings to sit there and your snotty attitude does NOT endear them to this work.
4. The work I do, is NOT the work that you are required to do. It is my own work and it is fulfilling and happy-making, even when it leaves me completely broken and breathless from its pain. But I am more than willing to do it because I don’t know what else I would be doing. Please honor the people who do their own work.
5. The PoC Hospitality Room is the work of many people. Those people sometimes want their names attached and sometimes they don’t and that’s fair but I hope that when this room is someone else’s job that they will do better than I have. That they NOT make my mistakes. Because I have made them. But no one will see them because they are using the space and utilizing it in ways that people need to and that’s what matters.
6. It’s taken a while to find a way to succinctly state my own beliefs. Currently, that’s to say that I identify as a polytheist. But because there is no specific dogma or church attached to that label, people figure that we are some sort of weird amorphous blob on the pagan spectrum. Polytheists have been around far longer than neopaganism. Polytheism is (to my way of seeing things) a movement to recognize that an individual’s role is to establish a relationship with their G*ds, because They are real. I don’t get into P/polytheist debate much because I don’t get the focus but I do witness it on my feeds and it makes me feel batty at times because the questions are always the kind that require DISCERNMENT. It’s a scary word but it’s a vital one. Vital because in order to establish relationships we have to actually put in a bit of effort.
All this being said!
7. I had a blast! I horsed Nerthus for the Vanic Conspiracy’s “Four Thrones of Vanaheim” ritual and that went really well! Tidbit for those of us who offer our bodies for trance possession: try the ritual bits you specifically HAVE to do and check that you CAN do them. Otherwise, you’ll end up like me: discovering as soon as you open your mouth to sing a refrain that you’ve known and have worked on for a while that all you can taste is Her bog where She receives sacrifices. I got through it and the rest of the folks found the melody to sing it for me but it was definitely an interesting moment.
8. It is always a pleasure to sit down with PoC at PantheaCon and this year’s caucus was the BEST yet! New people and faces and from such faraway places! Their expression of how great it was to have the PoC hospitality room really made it clear to me how vital this work is, not just for individuals but as a community-wide endeavor to give us a space that is both carved out from the cloth of the conference but has also now been woven into it. People LOOK for that room, specifically. People have conversations there that they don’t have in the rest of the conference floor, people share ritual and information and knowledge in ways that don’t happen on the ‘con floor and that is amazing.
And vital. Allies (those new and those weathered) discover a renewed zeal for their own work; as anti-oppression fighters and as people who seek spiritual guidance (because we are there for that, too!).
9. Thank you to Dee and other discussion leaders for the Gender Diversity discussion because it was GLORIOUS to sit in a room with other gender nonconforming people! Many good points were raised and thought-provoking moments and I look forward to continuing these conversations and these ways of supporting each other that were pointed out. Yes, even as a genderqueer individual, there are ways I can support other gender non-conforming folx. We all can!
10. Thiasos Bakhios puts on amazing Dionysian devotionals! I am elated and grateful that I was asked to take part as a maenad! I apologize for that maenad bringing out my SoCal and Valley Girl affectations. But we did have a blast! We went through a case of wine, we danced, we frolicked, we shimmied, we shouted, and the whole time Dionysus of the Revels smiled at our antics! The divination that people received were spot-on from all the people who shared theirs with me. I’ll revel with this group ANYTIME!
11. I am grateful to the people who attended, sang, danced (as they were able), and lent energy to my Pomba devotional. I am glad that I was able to share with the attendees a little bit about Pomba Gira Maria Padilha and bits of the tastes of Brazil proper. I hope that the technical difficulties I experienced beforehand did not detract from the experience you all had and I hope I get asked back!
And the list of what I MISSED!
12. The Coru Cathubodua hospitality room and temple-space. Again. One of these days I will be able to get away during your regular hours and be able to stand with Her in that space beyond the ONE time I have done it. It is a fervent wish and prayer.
13. The rituals and performances and presentations from friends and chosen family members: Elena’s “Loving Our Monsters”, “Facets of Freyja”, and so many more!
Now that I’m mostly back in the real world, I do want to say thank you to so many people who were amazingly helpful in the suite and in presenting in it or holding events there to draw people to the suite:
– Niki Whiting for hosting a meet and greet for Many Gods West which will take place in August 2016.
– Heathens For Social Justice for their “Social Justice as Heathen Praxis” which we are hoping to do as a Zoom! videoconference lecture for sharing!
– Jasper for leading a radical self-care drop-in that helped people get to balance and have a small amount of time for themselves and the Cauldron of the Celts for their donation of self-care goodies and the other donation that showed up as well (I’m sorry, I never caught the name!)
– Darcy and Geoffrey for leading an intense discussion for PoC who experience white-passing/presenting/reading privilege. In talking to the Beloved about their own struggles around this I knew that this was a topic that needed time and space to be explored and I knew also that this was NOT a topic for me to try and lead and Darcy and Geoffrey stepped up beautifully. I look forward to watching where this new avenue leads people!
– To Áine, Beverly, Luna, and Tanisia who co-facilitated a beautiful ritual for those who identify or have black ancestry. Getting to stand outside the door as it was wrapping up and feeling the power and love and strength in voices gathered in song. That was life-changing for me and I thank you for honoring the space by using it in this way. I will forever remember it as a highlight of the ‘con for me.
– To the people who stopped in (both staff, volunteers, attendees, etc.) for a bite to eat, a sandwich, a hot dinner that they didn’t have to pay a lot for: thank you for sharing time and space with us. The hospitality room is a labor of love and is set to celebrate five years in 2017. We look forward to doing something really special!
Okay, I think that’s enough. I will be updating on a more regular basis and trying different media options (maybe a podcast!).
So be it. See to it. – Octavia Butler