I originally submitted two workshop ideas and one academic presentation; all three were accepted. Additionally I was asked to be on one panel and one live podcast. Then, life being what it is, an opening came up to do an additional class when scheduling had to be moved around, so a fourth class was added. On the one hand, this was a good thing (I think) because I definitely felt like the trip was worthwhile, always a worry for me when travelling like this isn't exactly inexpensive. On the other hand though I was basically going flat out from the time our plane landed at 6 am friday morning until we arrived back at the airport to head home at 5 sunday night. 4 classes, 1 panel, and 1 podcast appearance was a lot to try to do in 59 hours, considering I do need to sleep and eat as well and in retrospect a little less willingness to jump in to everything may have served me better. The biggest downside to things being so hectic was that I wasn't able to attend many other workshops or have much time to decompress, which is an introvert essential.
So, Mystic South.
First of all I think this was the most fun I've had at a bigger pagan conference, despite my interesting life choice to schedule so much. The organizers are amazing, the volunteers were amazing, and the overall feel of the conference is amazing. Did I mention that it was amazing? It wasn't perfect by any means, nothing is after all, but the feel of it was friendly and fun and the class line up was a great blend of more academic and more experiential.
I taught a class Friday called 'Trading on the Goblin Market' which was about dealing safely with the Good People - think of it like a crash course in fairy lawyering. Friday night I had a small spot on the Desperate Housewitches live broadcast along with several other presenters. That was super fun. Friday itself is a bit of a sleep deprived blur - my friend and I had to get up before 3 am to catch our plane - but I did reconnect with friends and meet some facebook friends in person.
Saturday began with a morning conversation with friends over hot chocolate (for me) before I taught a class on Celtic Fairies in America (kind of self explanatory). Afterwards I managed to catch one of the academic presentations 'The Effects of Muse Misuse in Popculture' by Clio Ajana which was fascinating. She talked about the way that a Hollywood movie and its later remake shaped our understanding of the muses and the problem of sexualization of the muses in popular culture. I'm looking forward to that presentation possibly being published as a paper.
After lunch I had my own academic presentation of my paper on the evolution of the Fairy Courts in popular culture. I was very nervous about this because I have never done a formal academic presentation before and I haven't done a presentation with a power point since college. I think it all went well though and I was really impressed with the questions and comments afterwards.
I also attended a panel on navigating paganism as a person of colour. I'm still processing that discussion, which I think was a lot to unpack. It probably is a topic that needs more than an hour to really get into, and I do wish there had been a woman on the panel itself, although in fairness the moderator was a woman. As someone who is white-passing mixed race I think conversations like that panel are essential and I was really glad to see it as part of the conference.
Dinner was a large social affair replete with both casual conversation and deeper philosophical discussion on the future of paganism and witchcraft. Saturday night ended with a really fun 'swamp witch' themed party which I dubbed 'pagan prom'; it was a blast and I actually danced although not as enthusiastically as my travel companion. Costumes had been encouraged so I dressed up as a swamp fairy because that seemed close enough to swamp witch. Plus I hardly ever have a reason to where my horns in public.
Sunday I had a panel first thing in the morning about Reconstructionism. I was surprised to see how well attended that one was for something so early on the third day of the conference, but it seemed to go well. I thought the moderator asked good questions and I felt like the flow on the panel was good, although at a few points I felt like I was talking too much. That might just be my own issue though. After that (and with a side trip to get checked out of our room) I had a class on Wodan and the Wild Hunt. It's always fun to start out a class by warning people that I have publicly called Odin a *ahem* shifty bastard before - yeah I didn't use the word shifty. Close though. But the class itself I think went well and it was interesting to discuss Odin, Wodan, and the fluidity of who and what the Hunt is.
Beyond that recap - I had several good conversations with friends, old and new, and was able to connect in person with people I'd previously only known online. I met some wonderful people whose knowledge and passion for their subjects was beyond impressive.
And I did something I almost never do at these things - I had fun.