While I still have TONS to do at present, and I’ll have been awake for almost the entirety (apart from perhaps 15-30 minutes) of the last 24 hours when this is posted, nonetheless I wanted to get this particular albatross off from around my neck, given that several weeks have passed since the event, and we’re in a new month now. So, with out further ado…
Picture yourself in a Space with a Needle…
I was happy to have spent a few days before the EBC started with my friend, colleague, and co-religionist Michael Sebastian Lvx in Seattle; though we didn’t do much other than hang out, and I worked on a few things for the presentation and for the wedding I had to perform over the weekend as well, nonetheless it was a nice space of sanctuary away from some of the madness that was taking place at my house in the run-up to the wedding.
On Friday night, myself and Michael joined Erynn Rowan Laurie–our friend, co-religionist, and fellow EBC presenter this year–for the reception/meet ‘n’ greet the night before the festivities began, which was held in a very interesting art gallery downtown that I’d highly recommend everyone visit if possible: the Jose Luis Rodriquez Guerra Art Studio, which had some quite wonderful mythic/surrealist paintings on display. On that evening, I had the opportunity to meet and speak with a few of the upcoming presenters, or to at least meet them briefly, while other presenters from years past and various other friends and associates of the local esoteric community also passed through.
Relatively early, we headed back to Chez Michael, and made preparations for sleeping that night…only no sleeping took place until much later. As we intended to roll out of there by 7:30, we were up much earlier…and, ended up being slightly late, but still arrived at the conference by 8. Many wonderful folks (some of whom will be pictured later!) were in attendance, and there was a bit of socializing and browsing before the first event at 9:30.
The first presenter was also one of the organizers of the conference, who has not presented at any of the previous ones: William Kiesel, the founder of Ouroboros Press and a fascinating person in his own right. His topic was “Books in the World of a Magus: Dr. John Dee and His Library,” which was an excellent and fascinating lecture that gave me some insights I had not previously known about Dr. Dee (e.g. that his library was larger than Oxford University’s at the time!), although I’m no expert on him. What particularly intrigued me about this presentation was that Dr. Dee had a manuscript that he was very fascinated with, and which was sort of the beginning of his channeling of the Enochian tables, called the “Soiga Manuscript,” with whose authenticity he was most concerned. William showed a few slides of some images from it, and a few of the squares looked similar to the Serpent Path glyph–and, luckily, an edition of the Soiga Manuscript is being prepared for publication, and should be available shortly…score! So, that was very exciting! A nice way to start the proceedings, certainly, and a good occasion of actually hearing William himself expound upon a topic about which he’s quite knowledgeable.
The next speaker on the program was Mambo Vye Zo Komande LaMenfo, who spoke on “Esotericism in Haitian Vodou.” I had spoken with her and her husband quite extensively the night before, and found a great deal to enjoy in what she had to say. Just before her presentation, during the interval, I asked about my own recent experiences with Damballah (particularly in relation to the Tetrad myth/All-Soul, All-Body, All-Love, All-Power), and she had some very interesting insights into that, including that given my own syncretistic involvements, it makes a lot of sense that Damballah would be involved in some manner. Fascinating! While I cannot possibly do justice to the full contents of her presentation, one thing that Mambo did extremely well–and that I appreciated from an entirely different viewpoint–was to begin and end her presentation with actual ritual…you know, that thing that all of us at this conference sort of do in our spare time, and are kind of involved with that ultimately brings us together there? Yeah, that! So, I felt very good about that, and found the small things she did in themselves very nice; I was glad that in terms of my own planning on the matter, I wasn’t too out in left field for this particular iteration of the conference in my plans to likewise begin and end with some short ritual bits.
Unfortunately for me, I had to hie myself hence after Mambo’s presentation for the wedding I was performing up in Port Townsend, which involved a taxi ride (that was totally on-time!) to the Bainbridge Island ferry in downtown Seattle, where I waited a short while, then boarded, had a quick lunch, and ended up waiting on the other side to be picked up for almost an hour since the person picking me up went to the Kingston ferry instead. Mayhem ensued…but, other than that, everything else at the wedding went well. I ended up spending a bit of time with some of my extended family as they gave me a ride back afterwards (on the Kingston ferry!), and found out a few interesting things about some of my recent ancestors, while also putting up with an awful lot of patronization (in two different manners) about how each of the individuals involved thought I could improve my life or find my vocation…if only they knew…!?!
As a side note at this stage, something that I acquired recently, and was wearing for the entire weekend (and have worn every time I’ve left the house ever since!), was the Antinous pin shown here. It’s a simple line drawing of his statue from Olympia, which shows him rather younger than he would have been at his death. They were made as souvenirs for the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, and can be acquired relatively cheaply from Greece, if you’re interested in having something that is visible “Antinous bling” that can serve a devotional purpose. (If Wiccans have their pentacles, why not Antinoans wearing small images of Antinous in some form or other?) No one at the wedding asked me about it, even though I wore it during the ceremony; and only one person (who didn’t already know what it was) has really asked about it at all over the last few weeks, and she ended up concluding after I explained quite a bit of it and my own “spiritual orientation,” as it were, that “Well, really, aren’t we all polytheists?” Unfortunately, no, but nonetheless, point well taken! ;)
Sleep was somewhat better that night, and then the next morning, it was back at 9 AM for the next installment of the conference.
The first talk of the morning was by the brilliant and totally adorable Pam Grossman, who spoke on “The Occult in Modern Art 101.” I only met her very briefly the night before, but I have to say, her presentation was one of the highlights for me (though I wish I could have seen the several further ones on the program the afternoon before), as the art-related sessions at the EBC often have been. Her presentation was engaging, informative, and enjoyable, and a very good one to have on for the first session on the second day, in the “hangover slot,” as she called it. She ranged in her topics from the symbolists to Picasso to Austin Osman Spare to–at the end of her talk–Alan Moore and Grant Morrison (who were both in my presentation as well!). Thoroughly wonderful, and I hope to have the opportunity at some stage to go to New York City once again, visit Pam’s gallery, and perhaps do a presentation of some sort, as well as having her show me around MoMA and other modern things, while I return the favor with some Greek, Roman, and Egyptian bits at the Met. ;)
As you can see, the two of us–as well as a disembodied arm (how surreal…?!?)–had an animated quick conversation after her presentation, and we were also able to speak a little bit further at the after-party, along with several other friends. She is one to watch, and I hope that she writes a book on this subject in the not-too-distant-future! (Though, please remind me in the future: no photos of me from side-angles, please! Eeesh…)
Unfortunately, the session which followed this was one of the two easily-identified low-points of this year’s EBC for me. The topic seemed like it would have been very interesting, and very potentially relevant to my own Serpent Path work, but it was almost entirely useless. (There was one and only one useful point that I got out of it.) The rest was a lot of mistaking myth for history, incorrectly pronounced words, factual errors, and lengthy pauses spent just looking at the slides that were being shown–not in a truly thoughtful or deep manner, but what just seemed to simply stall for time…then followed by the complaint that it would be impossible to get through 40,000 years of history in the time allotted for the presentation (not true! It could have been done if he hadn’t paused so damn much!), and the entirety of the proceedings done in a manner that sounded like he was bored, unhappy with giving a presentation at all, and sort of condescending to speak with us and somewhat put out by doing so.
My Thracian colleague said to me a while back that there are two types of magic for serpents: there’s the regeneration and shedding of skin; and then there’s also paralysis, because poisonous snakes have neurotoxins that shut the body down, and constrictors restrict movement and breathing so that one eventually suffocates. It seemed to me that if there was any operative serpent magic in what was being presented in that session, it was of the negative and paralytic kind, and not the transformative and regenerative kind.
Lunch followed, which was rather enjoyably spent with mostly Mystai in the Center House (which had much diminished offerings in terms of food choices, sadly).
I met up with a few people I had hoped to see, books were exchanged, and some visiting occurred…nowhere near as much as I would have liked, but I wanted to attend the sessions as much as possible as well.
This year’s EBC panel session followed, which was on “Eastern Thought in the Western Occult World,” and two of last year’s presenters–Gordan Djurdjevic and Craig Williams–were the panelists. I didn’t catch the very beginning of the panel, nor the very end, but most of the middle part, while good, was information that I heard in some form the year before in many cases. Craig did make the point at one stage that in India, hearing the same story over and over again, or the same song over and over again, is not considered a bad or boring or repetitive thing…and while I don’t think he was intending to make a metacontextual point in saying so, it sort of had that effect all the same! ;)
After the next interval, the true low point of the conference occurred in this presentation. It could have potentially been interesting, but it was delivered in a lifeless fashion, read off a script (and while I do that myself at academic conferences, I do try to liven it up as much as possible)…and, what’s more, he over-shot his time slot by more than thirty minutes. Very bad form on his part, needless to say…and, unfortunately, a lot of people left his presentation, and then did not return for the final session of the conference, i.e. my session. As you can understand, I was a little bit pissed off that this was the case, and that many people who told me they were looking forward to my talk didn’t come to it, didn’t stick around for it, or ended up having to do take-down for their displays and such rather than attending even part of the talk because the guy before me had overshot it so far.
So, I have to say, going into the presentation, I wasn’t very happy. I did my prayers to Antinous, and then visited the Hermes shrine that was set up in the back of the room by Leon Reed. When I picked up my rock to add to the growing herm on the base of the shrine, the one I picked up out of the bucket happened to have a small spider racing around its surface! Knowing the Hermes- and Antinous-related spider connections, I took this as a good sign going in at those last few moments…
My presentation went about as well as could be expected, I think–I took a little longer than anticipated, but was told that I could go over a few minutes if I wanted to in light of what happened in the previous presentation. But, don’t take my word for it! Have several thousand words on it instead!
Apparently, the later parts of the presentation were better, because there aren’t any further photos of them–the photo-taking individuals were too busy actually listening to it at that stage! ;)
I also got some useful feedback afterwards from one audience member: string theory isn’t a total bust (as I’d said in my presentation and in A Serpent Path Primer), and the discovery of the Higgs Boson and other recent matters at CERN doesn’t entirely disqualify it; and that brane theory is part of general mathematics, and not just string theory. So, good information on that! I’m thankful for these types of correction whenever I’m in error! ;)
As this occasion was the first where the largest group of assembled Mystai of the Antinoan Mysteries have yet been able to appear in one place together, further photos had to be taken.
Here you can see Erynn Rowan Laurie, D. (the partner of Lazarus/Sister Krissy Fiction–Dan is a non-Mystes at this point), Lazarus/Sister Krissy Fiction him/hirself, and Michael Sebastian Lvx (and, unfortunately, that’s the only photo of him from the occasion we were able to get, alas).
And here’s me (at the book-signing table after my presentation) with Erynn, Jay (who provided many of these photos–thanks, Jay!), Jimbo, BlackCat, and Lazarus/Sr. Krissy (who provided several of the other photos–thanks, Lazarus!), and Devotio Antinoo: The Doctor’s Notes, Volume One.
I had the idea earlier that perhaps, with one of the visual aids I had made for my presentation–which was a three/four-dimensional model of the “square side” Serpent Path glyph–I should have someone wear it on their head and lead them around to drum up interest and an audience for the presentation. I started calling it the “Antinoan Helm of Awe,” and when people put it on, they always said “It’s really echo-ey in here!” (Of course–there’s a whole universe inside it!) After the presentation, Jimbo very kindly decided to model it for us, and thus became the first Antinoan Serpent Path Golem:
And, as you can see, a lot of people were amused at his Antinoan Serpent Path Golem antics!
We had a very nice dinner after this at a nearby Thai place, with several of the individuals mentioned above as well as Lis Wright Ivec, who recently did an Antinous icon that many of us picked up at the EBC, as she had it on display and was selling copies of it in the art exhibits room. (It’s not online at the moment, but perhaps it will be soon!) She was very cool, and I hope to see more of her and interact with her further in the future!
We then schlepped up to the after-party at the Masonic hall up on Queen Anne, and that was enjoyable–I had a shot of Jägermeister, which I haven’t done in practically a decade (the first Foundation Day ritual featured a Jägermeister libation!), and chatted with various folks at further length. However, tiredness and such was starting to set in, and I had to get up relatively early the next morning to be on my way through the series of buses and a ferry that got me back home. I had some interesting encounters while waiting for the ferry (which we had just barely missed), and also on the bus on the way up the island, in terms of younger gay men (one of them a teenager, another a young twenty-something that I know otherwise) engaging with me in conversation that was in some manner helpful to them on a practical level, etc. So, I felt like I did my “civic duty” in the process of all this as well.
Then I got home, totally crashed, and was sick for most of the next week.
In any case, the EBC was good this year, even though I would have preferred to have attended more of it than I was able, and even though two of the presentations I did attend were bordering on abysmal for various reasons. However, the “good” of the entire event was far greater than the bad, and I am thankful that the organizers let me present a whole session!
It might be interesting next year to see if we can organize a panel on Esoteric/Occult Poetry, with Ruby Sara, Erynn, myself, and others…Ruby Sara is a Chicago-area person, though, if I’m not mistaken, so we’d have to investigate that further as a possibility…perhaps a small faction of us local to Seattle can get it together ourselves. Who knows?
I look forward to the next EBC, certainly, and hope to be attending this event for a long time to come–and I hope that it continues to go well and prospers even more in the future!