Posted by: aediculaantinoi | February 26, 2014

PantheaCon 2014: Friday and Saturday

I plan to do one further post of this nature, on the other events of Sunday (which were mostly of a social sort!), but this fills in all of the other gaps of my PantheaCon experience not yet accounted for from 2014 on Friday and Saturday.

My arrival to PantheaCon was, generally, good. I had to get the shuttle from my hometown the night before at 7:15, to arrive at Sea-Tac slightly earlier than expected at about 9:30. I then got the hotel shuttle from the airport to my hotel for the night, and arrived there around 10ish. I had hoped to be in bed by 11 since I’d be having to get up just before 3 AM, but that didn’t happen: I got engrossed in internet matters, and wasn’t in bed until after midnight. I had a brief sleep, and then got up, got myself ready for the airport, and was headed in that direction on the 3:30 AM shuttle. I arrived there, got my baggage checked, went through security (which didn’t take too long, all things considered), and then had some food before heading to the gate and making this post while I waited. I made a few further notes, both physical and mental, for my first presentation that would occur in a few hours.

The plane ride was uneventful, and we arrived in San Jose. I went out to the area where the Double Tree shuttle was supposed to pick up, only to find that there were no phones to summon the shuttle (as there were at Sea-Tac), and I had no way of knowing what their number was. I contemplated what to do about this for a few moments, and resolved to call home and see if the number could be looked up on the internet…and then, a Double Tree shuttle rolled up and I didn’t have to call them at all! It let someone off, and I was the only one going back in that direction at that moment, so I rode it, and found my way to the hotel. I discuss my arrival slightly in my most recent Patheos.com post, where I encountered Angus McMahan immediately, and soon after spent a nice long while with Jason Mankey.

I went to get registered just after 10 AM, and that took a lot longer than expected, as I ran into various folks. Before going to the Green Room to sort out all of the room needs for the next day and other presentations, I saw Victoria Slind-Flor by the fire, where she often holds court, so to speak, and thus had to stop and chat with her for a little while in case I didn’t get to see her otherwise during the con’ (and, alas, I didn’t get to see her outside of that–drat!). We had a good chat, and various other folks happened by in the meantime.

I went to the green room and had all of that sorted, and met Silence Maestas for two seconds…and, alas, that was also it for any interactions we had.

From the Green Room, I decided it was time to get my luggage, and found Jason Mankey to retrieve it. Once I had it, I tried to go to one of the hospitality suites, where I was told I could leave it. I shared an elevator, alone, with Ruth Barrett (!?!). As happened throughout the con’, I found that my nametag had turned around on the lanyard which I brought for it, so my name was not visible. I was grateful for this in that particular instance, and did not move to alter it. She was not warm and friendly to me, but she also wasn’t mean either. I got out on the tenth floor, as did she, and found the hospitality suite in question wasn’t open, so I went back down again with all of my luggage, and went to the room where I’d be presenting to catch my breath, walk around and chant the Ephesia Grammata a few (dozen!) times, and just prepare myself for what was going to come for that session, as well as the rest of the con’.

And the results of that session can be read about further here!

From there, I went to Brandy Williams’ presentation on Pagan Theurgy, which was quite good. Much of the audience from the previous session was also at this one. While I knew most of the material discussed therein, it was good to have a review of it and a kind of contextual overview. I wouldn’t call myself a “theurge” in the “classical sense,” and yet I do magika hiera or theourgia as a kind of default a lot of the time as part of my ritual and devotional activities; and, depending on who you ask, my daily Ephesia Grammata practice might fall into that category as well. Hmm. I was able to speak briefly with Tony Mierzwicki between sessions, and for a moment at that point after Brandy’s as well. I did not get to see him and Jo Ann as much this year as in previous years, and wasn’t able to attend any of his sessions either, unfortunately, but I did see him several other times, and was in a session the following day that involved him (and Asklepios!), on which more later!

Following this (and some logistical frustrations meanwhile for many others, alas!), was the Sanctification ritual for Lady Olivia Sancta and Rev. Dr. Eddy Hyperion Sanctus.

After that, my friend, colleague, and co-religionist, and the eventual Acolyte of the Ekklesía Antínoou, Duffi (about whom you’ll be hearing more in future posts!), and my roommate Signy Ragnvaldsdottir, went over to the Fairfield to deposit my luggage, and then we had a very nice dinner before the evening sessions.

I then attended Finnchuill‘s session at 9 PM on Experimental Reconstructionism. It was a good and relatively casual discussion between himself and those who attended, and topics ranged across the board from trying to do this sort of work without cultural appropriation, and various topics within the specifically Celtic sphere of this variety of work with a reconstructionist methodology. After that, Finnchuill and one of the participants in the discussion (who, if that individual would like to identify themselves in the comments, is free to do so!–I didn’t want to just divulge it, though…) had some dessert in Sprigs at the Double Tree. After that, I had an encounter with my Anomalous Thracian colleague that eventually involved Orion Foxwood and his lovely husband Sethlan (who I had never previously met nor seen, alas!), a box of leftover steak that was then characterized as “Anomalous Thracian’s puppy” (not unlike Schredinger’s cat), and a tall witch’s hat, which you can read more about here. Then, at last I headed back to the Fairfield for a well-earned (but not easily-obtained) rest, after I wrangled with my luggage and what I’d need for the next day’s activities.

I woke up early, had a shower and then breakfast, and got ready for Inundation; I went over to do that, strolled around the vendors’ room, and went back again to change clothes and re-group for events later in the day, which included immediately after that Lupercalia, as I’ve already written.

After our near-record tear-down after our ritual, I went with Finnchuill, Duffi, and several others to the panel discussion which followed at 3:30 PM, organized by T. Thorn Coyle and the “Kick-Ass Panel,” which included recent Lupercum Xochiquetzal Duti Odinsdottir, Crystal Blanton, Charlie Glickman, and Elena Rose Vera. It truly was an excellent panel, and I’m glad it was on the main program this year. It will be available soon on Thorn’s Elemental Castings podcast series, so watch for it, and I’ll certainly post about it here when it goes up. I did have a contribution to the discussion, which several people immediately took action on, and which I received generally good feedback on throughout the weekend. I’ll reserve further comment on it at present, unless people either want to discuss it, or have things they’d like to add for themselves, until the podcast is available and can be reviewed by me and consulted by others so we’re on the same page, so to speak! But, it was a well-attended and important event, and I’m glad it was able to fit into my schedule for the weekend.

After goign to the FoDLA hospitality suite with Finnchuill to get changed into my next outfit for the night, I had a rather quick-and-dirty (and yet not-at-all-dirty, and not-very-quick) dinner at Sprigs before my next commitment, which was the Healing Ritual for Margot Adler, organized by Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary (and many other things!). It was one of the first pan-Pagan rituals I’ve actually been a part of in more than an “attending” capacity (and there have not been too many of those for me, to be honest, either!), and I’m happy to have been able to contribute something to it. Many very well-known modern pagans were there and contributed something, including Selena herself: Starhawk, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, Glenn Turner, Ruth Barrett, Tony Mierzwicki, Sabina Magliocco, and others whose names I have probably heard but did not hear on that night and whose faces I don’t necessarily know. I won’t say much on Margot’s specifics health-wise, though she did explain them to us in detail on the occasion, and said that apart from various conventional and alternative treatment options, she “feels fine” and doesn’t expect to slow down her activities at present, which is about as good as anyone could wish for in a similarly serious but uncertain situation. At one point in my remarks, I said that I expect a “fourth edition” of Drawing Down the Moon in 2026, and let’s hope that there is even a fifth edition after that, eh? ;) The ritual itself was eclectic and rather free-form (which there isn’t necessarily anything at all “wrong with”–may I assure you!), with some bits that didn’t quite work from my particular practical/theological framework (e.g. silently calling upon “the Divine,” which is hard when one’s gods are not omniscient), but in the part where we actually got to do direct healings and blessings on Margot, I used storax oil, called on Antinous the Liberator, Antinous the Navigator, and Antinous the Lover to heal and support her in various ways, and then used the Ephesia Grammata ritual in three parts for those purposes. I noticed that of all those present who did spells and healings of various sorts, only those of myself and Tony Mierzwicki (who, with Jo Ann doing the “physical” bits involved, did an ancient healing prayer/hymn of Asklepios) called on specific deities to intervene for healing purposes. It’s a noteworthy thing, I think, and demonstrates the deity-centric focus of reconstructionist polytheistic practice, if nothing else. In any case, we all wish Margot well, and I encountered her further the following two days in both discussion, ritual, and social contexts, for which I am most grateful! :)

After that, my all-white outfit (apart from my blue shoes!) took me to the Danbala Sevis ritual put on by Mambo Chita Tann/”Mambo T.” This was the first Voudun ritual I’ve ever attended, and while it was certainly interesting for various reasons, and powerful, and I did get to speak with the Big White Snake for a moment (though I don’t know that I can usefully say much about it here, other than that it involved Paneros of the Tetrad++ Group…?!?).

I completed my evening on Saturday with the “Dreaming the Raven: A Morrígan Dance Ritual,” danced by (the awesome!) Tempest and with violin music by (the phenomenal!) Nathaniel Johnstone. My fellow audience members and I did not know, until it was completed and we asked questions and discussed it, that the entirety of it was improvised, both in music and in dance, which made it all the more impressive and appealing and interesting in the aftermath. Of course, I asked difficult questions (hey, it’s me!), and I do think that they could have said more about what they were thinking and feeling with the music and the dancing that emerged as far as a potential “story” of what we were seeing, or even a few impressions outside of what was given…nothing is self-interpreting, and even though an artist’s interpretations are not the only or even the most important ones to consider, nonetheless they do exist and it is often nice to know what some of them might have been. (In the same way that someone writing a paper defines their terms beforehand, even if they are terms that one might assume everyone knows…) Nonetheless, it was entertaining, and I was able to speak with the dynamic and dastardly duo afterwards briefly, as I obtained copies of Nathaniel’s latest CDs (which I still have not been able to listen to yet–drat!–but, in fairness, it’s only been eleven days…).

From there, I hied myself hence once again to the Fairfield, and eventually slept relatively well, ready for what was to happen the next day, which I’ll discuss in a further future post.


Responses

  1. Thanks again for attending “Dreaming the Raven” – I find it is rather difficult to really talk about a ritual performance immediately after it takes place (especially around midnight lol), but I also found that some things coming out of mouth about the piece (interpretation-wise) I hadn’t even considered beforehand. Also, something I have learned in 15 years of performing dance, and 20 years of ritual – what works best for me is an inkling of an idea (right-brain arena), rather than having a focused agenda (left-brain arena). It’s an inherent part of my tradition – similarly how I approach both dance and visual art. I am armed with the tools I need, I have a general direction, but I’m open to see where it takes me. Which is certainly not for everyone. One of the crucial things about improv being successful: NOT overthinking everything. Which is pretty funny considering both Nathan and I believe we’re overthinkers in general ;)

    • Thank you for doing it, and for reading and commenting here! ;)

      I am in the over-thinking category myself…and, of course, the sorts of things art- and spirituality-wise I am involved with don’t emphasize that, but instead require one to use that over-thinking in ways that are, well, verbal since I mostly do poetry, drama, and so forth (though I’ve done music, dance, and visual arts as well…just not as much any more, though I am singing more these days than I have ever been, really). The improvised poetry and storytelling and so forth that I do, of course, relies entirely on the words I use being identifiable, and occasionally even on the stories I tell to be familiar, or at least discernible without having to hear parts of them more than once, etc. (unless one is repeating it for emphasis, or for the “rule of three,” etc.!). With a lot of this, we don’t always know where the end is, and only the general direction as well…but, I am used to having the words there all along…and I find that having that stock of words, of bits of stories, of phrases, and so forth is what allows the improv to be successful when one has to do dichetal do chennaib and so forth, as one often does. In any case…

      …This isn’t to “correct” you or anything of the sort, but as I viewed and heard your piece, I saw a story, and heard it as well, and thought as I was seeing it that it had been “worked out” between you (not knowing that it hadn’t been!), and thus wanted to be “in on” what that story was; then, once I found out it hadn’t been something rehearsed or pre-prepared (and being astonished at it even more as a result!), I then wondered what story you might have been seeing and hearing as you were feeling it out, and likewise Nathaniel.

      Perhaps two weeks or more on, you might have some further ideas, and if you do, I’d love to hear them! But, of course, if you’re “not in the story department,” and would like me to give it a go, I can see what I can recollect, and take it from there. ;)

  2. Hmmm….well, in the many dance/music classes that Nathan and I have taught together in the last few years, we have discovered we have a common cornerstone for how we make our art, and what happens to it once it is at there. While we are making it by ourselves (him composing, me working on painting/drawing/etc – each in our own spaces), it’s all about whatever story/idea is in our heads – but once it’s “out there” – we love to hear what other people think it’s about – how they see the story. (Some artists are really insistent that people only see THEIR story, and any other option is therefore wrong in their eyes…meh!) So I would definitely love to hear what you (and anyone else who attended) saw for the story.

    I know specifically for my visual art process, there is part of me talking to myself, telling myself a story, and it has been that way as long as I could remember. Being so much younger than my brothers growing up, I practically was an only child for most of my developing years, so I learned to amuse myself with drawing stories – that I would tell to myself. Which, when you are having an intimate conversation with yourself – it’s really not designed to be a story told in the same way to others. It wasn’t until my later years of art school (high school and RISD), that I had to think more in terms of other people, but at the same time, we focused on how to elicit feedback/response from the art that was presented, without needing to explain it. I want to emphasize that it’s NOT “I don’t have to explain my art to you” more than it IS “if I have done my job correctly, then you should have some response/reaction to it.” And I think both dance and visual art tends to fall into a different form of communication – that it is another means or way to express something the artist/dancer can’t express completely in words.

    Also with art (both dance and visual), I find that no matter how many times I approach a certain theme or subject – it’s always different. Even a choreographed piece is never the same exact piece as the last time it was performed. I know for some people, they believe it is….but I’m more fluid in my boundaries and body, so a lot of factors make it different every time – the stage, the lights, the music, the audience, how I’m feeling, the time of year.

    So the most I can tell you about “Dreaming the Raven” – it’s been over 7 years in the making for me, since my first crow/raven-inspired dances…and then I evolved the concept by bringing Nathan into the mix. Personally, I was more familiar with the various myths and interpretations of the Morrigan than he was, but I sat down with him and went over some of the concepts. I then outlined what I felt would be the flow of the piece: coming into the space/invocation, preparation for battle, going into war, the melee and aftermath of war, and a settlement/peace/collection of souls…and back into self. That is pretty much as explicit as I can make it. And as about as detailed as I got for this particular story in my head. Whatever actually happened on stage – for him, for me, for the audience…well, it had its roots there, but there is definitely an aura of mediumship in it from my perspective. It was me yet not me/the state of invocation/transference.

    • *Nods*

      I’ve only done a little bit of dance, myself. It’s mostly been folk-type dancing (e.g. Scottish Country Dancing), though I was involved in a few dance pieces when I was an undergraduate, and some of the choreographers in the graduate program thought it would be interesting to have me in certain pieces. Because these were rather set pieces (though how many footsteps I took in any given part was never particularly regulated, etc.; it was more “be in this area doing this thing during this part of the music,” etc.), and we were going for something relatively specific in each case and I was the performer rather than the creator/visionary behind it, my way of conceptualizing the whole experience is “You’re Cookie Monster, now eat Kermit the Frog’s record at this point,” and that isn’t an exaggeration or hyperbolae, as that was pretty much exactly what we were doing! ;)

      Being steeped in the Irish literary tradition, and all of the texts about the Morrígan being fresh and familiar in my mind, what amazed me the most and intrigued me the most about your piece was that it wasn’t any of those stories, or even any of those patterns, at least as I saw it and heard it. Truth be told (since I didn’t know it wasn’t worked out and choreographed beforehand), I thought the whole thing was an extremely poignant commentary on the continued wars in the Middle East: this was, in essence, the Morrígan as she follows some Irish or Irish-American soldiers in Afghanistan, kind of arrives expecting things to go the way she’s used to warfare going, and then finding that it isn’t that way at all, and having to adapt to that new situation; I also got the sense that there was definitely a transformation at one point, not from humanoid to raven (though those are both involved throughout, to one degree or another), but I got the feeling that there was a serpent transformation as well, which wouldn’t be too far outside of Her orbit (given she does transform into an eel in one memorable instance!), and that perhaps there was also one of her other transformations involved as well–a land animal of some sort, but I wasn’t sure if it was the red heifer or the grey wolf (both of which she turns into in the same incident when she becomes an eel). For me, that was part of what made it so exciting to watch: this was not the Morrígan we’re used to, because she is no longer (or at least no longer exclusively) the Morrígan we know from the tales and the texts. There was a Middle Eastern feel to parts of the music, as I was hearing it, and that directed me toward that interpretation, I suspect; and I know that you also have training in the styles and techniques of several of those cultures.

      But, then once I heard that you hadn’t worked out a specific meaning or story, I then thought, “Well, that would be rude of me to interpret this as I saw and felt and heard it, both to the artists who may not have intended such, and to anyone else who thinks ‘Oh, that’s an interesting interpretation!’ and then ignores whatever it was they felt or saw or heard because of what I said.”

      I also have to comment on the most recent dance-theory-related thing I did, a few years ago with Erynn at a Sarah Lawrence College (where I went to school, and did some dance, and got to hang out with the amazing and dearly-missed Viola Farber!) On The Road presentations in Seattle, where Roseanne Thom of the dance department, who teaches history of dance, came and showed us some pieces on video, and then told us about an essay by (I can’t remember who, but a famous recent literary critic) called “Before Interpretation,” and she asked us to view the pieces and then just describe what we saw without interpreting them. Almost everyone in the room who commented said “I think it meant…” when that’s exactly what she was trying to get people NOT to do, and to instead focus on the actual movements rather than what they might mean or are trying to convey. It was a hard activity for me, being that I am so story-focused in almost everything I do, but I managed to do it there.

      Your piece was so powerful and evocative to me because, I felt, it had a strong story…I just wasn’t sure if the story I was seeing and hearing was anywhere in the ballpark, so to speak, with what you and Nathaniel might have thought.

      In any case…perception, reality; communication, reception/interpretation: welcome to the difficulties of human interaction, folks! ;)

      It was still (and always was!) wonderful to be able to see you two perform together, and I hope to do so on many more occasions, since I had not seen you perform yet, and it had been ages since I heard himself perform either (the last time I saw him perform before this, I think, was the Abney Park show in Port Angeles over the summer in…whenever that was…?!? A long time, anyway–in the time before Erynn was officially dating Caera, in any case, as that was about when they sealed the deal, so to speak!

  3. It was me you and Finnchuill had dessert with! And I would not have minded if you divulged it here; but thanks for being such a gentlemetagenderperson! ;-) And I loved every second of our wonderful conversation. I also loved Finnchuill’s session. And you both inspired me! I was so inspired that I’ve start working on your online course in Reconstructionism and am enjoying it and learning so much.

    Wow, you were soooo busy at PCon! I admire your great energy in being able to do all that! :-)

    • Thank you for identifying yourself!

      I’ve had problems before with mentioning someone was at this-or-that event and PantheaCon, and the person demanding that I revise/edit my piece to leave them (and everyone else) out of it, because it might be “incriminating” for them to be in any way identified with my organization, me, or any of our activities (even though this person is just as queer and just as academic as I am). Anyway…so, I didn’t have your permission, so I didn’t want to assume. But anyway, there we are!

      It was lovely to spend some in-person time with you and to get to know you a bit better, and I’m looking forward to doing the course with you, too!

      The lack of sleep I have before, after, and during the con’ can be alleviated in its energy-and-attention-sapping properties by a regular supply of meat, I’ve found. I’ve been missing the bacon and eggs (and occasional sausage!) each morning since returning… ;)

  4. Oh, yes, you’re right: some people are very careful not to be identified. So, thank you for being careful for me. :-)

    I am actually very very fortunate that I live and work in a place and situation where I can be totally out about who I am. I’m a fifth generation native Californian raised around all sorts of our famous Californian “fringe religions”. And I have been out about being a Pagan and Polytheist for most of the time I have identified myself as such. Yes, I have lost friends when they learn about my religion. So, I try to tell any potential friends up front so I can find out right away if they don’t want to be my friend. Occasionally someone will not realize what I mean and when they do, decide they don’t want to know me. That can hurt, but I figure they were not real friends anyway. And all the jobs I have worked in have had very strong anti-discrimation policies.

    In social groups since college I have been the “fag hag” as they say. ;-) I want to be friends with good people — any good people with whom I share values and interests. The queers I know are amazingly courageous! And my former room mate of ten years is a M to F transgender whom I supported since from a few weeks after we met when she was brave enough to share that part of herself with me. And so, it is pretty impossible for me to hide where my loyalties are when one of my best friends transforms into another gender right before the eyes of everyone we know! LOL! Well, I always feel so bad for those who have to hide. Sigh. I think I would explode if I could not be who I am in public.

    I totally relate about the meat thing. I was a vegetarian for three years but kept getting so tired that my dietician insisted I at least eat more beans and tofu if I did not have meat. I don’t love most beans and dislike tofu. Eventually I found it best toI go back to eating meat, for myself.

  5. […] So, amongst my various PantheaCon posts for this year (of which I still have one to go…!), the one which has had the most traffic and has been a hot-button issue around the general Pagan Intarwebz of late is the Wiccanate Privilege discussion. However, there was another discussion, in one of the main ballrooms and on the main PantheaCon program, on “Pagans and Privilege,” which I mentioned here. […]

  6. […] The Sanctification of Lady Olivia and Hyperion The Sanctification according to Anomalous Thracian The Rest of Friday and Saturday Lupercalia 2014 Lupercalia (and other things) according to Anomalous Thracian “Pagans and […]

  7. […] last year at PantheaCon 2014, I was able to interact with her at four points: in the healing ritual for her, during the Wiccanate Privilege discussion, at the beard-blessing ritual, and at lunch at […]


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