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Thursday, February 19, 2015

The Obligatory Pantheacon Post

 I attended my first Pantheacon this year, so here is the obligatory re-cap of my experience:
Day one - travel. Who'd have thought I actually enjoy airplanes? Airports however are a form of elaborate torture. I arrived in California and was hit with immediate culture shock - you can get alcohol everywhere and it feels like early summer, and this is so not Connecticut. It was great to travel with a good friend and reconnect with other friends I had made at the Morrigan Retreat last June. I also had fun setting up a communal altar in the hotel room I was sharing with these three friends.
    Horse omens started immediately. No really, in the airport and then everywhere afterwards, horses, horses, horses. I have witnesses! Also crows everywhere. I really should have understood where this would be going but I can be slow on the uptake.
  It was a great experience setting up the traveling altars in the hotel room with my roommates. Although I am very open minded about sharing space with people of other religious persuasions and approaches I must admit staying with other polytheists was nice because there was never any need to explain anything. We all understood that altars were needed, that offerings were required, and we all had the same basic respect for those spaces and things. The communal Morrigan altar was especially powerful as all four of us are devoted to her in different ways, and since there was another Odin's woman there as well he got his space and offerings without any issue as well. There were space for other Gods being honored as well, and several jokes about the number of altars and the amount of alcohol around the room but the overall feeling was friendly and pleasant. I also set up a small space for the land spirits and Fay, as it was important to me to try to connect to the local wights.
  Later on Thursday we went to the Doubletree, the hotel where the con actually takes place, and poked around a bit, met some people including a friend from an online group that I really enjoyed spending the weekend hanging out with (we dubbed her the unofficial mayor of P-con). And then jet-lag of doom set in. Later in the evening I met the Coru Cathobouda crew at their meet and greet event which I attended with the rest of the Tuatha De Morrigan contingent (my roommates at the hotel).
Day two - registered for the con. And so it begins. Today's theme was horse skulls. Everywhere.    
    I taught a Morrigan workshop in the ADF suite and it went so well I was asked to go back Sunday and do another. Met Lora O'Brien who is really wonderful and reconnected with some of my favorite ADF people. I can safely say the ADF hospitality suite is entirely full of awesome.
 I also was able to meet several other people I had previously only known on facebook which was great. I love putting a FB name to an actual face. I must admit even though I had been warned about the size of Pantheacon I wasn't prepared for the sheer scale of it. It was larger than anything I had ever been to by orders of magnitude and because of that I didn't end up seeing or doing nearly as much as I wold have liked to, although what I did see and do was amazing.
   I attended a class by Orion Foxwood where he talked a little bit about his Faery Seership approach and also his theory of the four types of witchcraft. He is a very engaging speaker and puts on an entertaining workshop. 
Day three - the horse skulls continue. Those of you who know my old LJ/yahoo group name will get the entertainment value of my being stalked by the Lair Bhan (although it was being called the Mari Lwyd here). I'll probably do a future blog post just on that topic, but suffice to say it became something of a running joke with the group I was with.
  Very early in the morning I went to a smashing class on the Irish sidhe by Lora O'Brien - if any of you ever have a chance to go to any of her classes, DO IT!
   Later that day we wandered in to relax a bit in the Sisters of Avalon suite, admire their artwork and connect with some great people who are helping with the Morrigan sacred sites pilgrimage I'm involved in next year*. Later we hung out with some Faery Seers and learned a bit about their approach - not my cuppa but always good to learn other ways. The hospitality suites were an interesting experience in themselves, and I have to admit I thought it was really fascinating to look at the approach each one took.
      There were some spiritual shenanigans on Saturday including making offerings on a rock in a small island of trees in the parking lot. Part of my personal experience as a polytheist and Reconstructionist is that you end up making a lot of offerings, and I was lucky enough to be bunking with other people who felt similarly although the actual lead up to making the offerings should probably be categorized as a misadventure.
Day four - very early Sunday morning I went to a class on working with skull spirits because at that point it felt like I needed to figure out what was going on with all the skulls I kept seeing. It was very interesting stuff (and the Mari Lwyd was discussed of course because at that point I was still being stalked by horse skulls). Went to a class about the Morrigan, Poetry, and Prophecy - interesting info on Irish poetics but there can't ever be enough rosc catha discussion for me.   smile emoticGot to have a good chat with Morpheus and Brennos Agrocunos over lunch with the Coru and Tuatha De Morrigan folks, sort of an east coast/west coast gnoshy thing.Went to Lora's Morrigan class which was amazing, even if there were a mad amount of people crammed into a little room for it (seriously should have been in a bigger room). 
  Lora O'Brien did a workshop on the Morrigan which was intriguing and had some great food for thought in it. Hearing her talk about her firsthand experiences with the Morrigan's sacred sites, especially Oweynagat, makes me even more eager to go visit them myself. She also had a guided meditation at the end of her workshop which I found very profound. 
 Later that day I taught my second workshop, "Morrigan 2.0" in the ADF suite - anyone else noticed a theme at P-con this year?  - and had a blast doing it. ADF Druids rock! The class went well and we ended up talking about a variety of things relating to Irish Gods and mythology with a bit of Boudicca thrown in. Afterwards I was as asked to invoke Macha at the ADF unity ritual Monday morning, as if I'd say no to that! 
 That night I was dragged up to a meet and greet in the Llewellyn suite. It was an interesting experience but by far the loudest hospitality suite which made conversation a bit difficult. I enjoyed meeting Jason and Ari Mankey though and seeing the new Llewellyn releases displayed around the room.
Day five - Up very early Monday morning for the ADF unity ritual, which went really well, even if my brain ceased functioning at this point. I think I was suffering from convention burn out. And as I was standing there getting ready to thank Macha at the end of the ritual I had a strong feeling that Herself wanted the thank you in Irish. I have no idea where I pulled the words from if not Her, because by that point my mind was pretty mushy, but the words came.
    Afterwards down in the lobby I had an awesome chat over coffee with Vyviane Armstrong, Lora O'Brien, and Stephanie Woodfield about the sacred sites tour that's being planned for next year which may be one of my favorite parts of the whole con, although its hard to pick any one favorite thing.
And then - the vendor room. Wow. Please take my money awesome pagan vendors. (And I got to meet Jen Delyth and talk about, what else?, the Mari Lwyd).

The less fun part was the Epic Quest Homeward which involved two airplanes, an overnight layover in Salt Lake City airport, and New England welcoming us back to her frigid arms with a snow storm.
That's the highlights anyway, I'm sure I'm leaving half of everything out. In short, met a ton of awesome people, the craic was mighty, and I had my priestess hat on, quite unexpectedly, the whole time. Because the Work never ends.

Since people seemed to really like it, here's the Macha invocation from the ADF ritual:
"Macha Mong-ruadh
Macha of the Red Hair
Great Queen, Mighty Lady,
Uniter of opposing forces
Who was queen by her own hand
and chose the king from the most deserving
You who brought unity
Where there had been opposition and strife
Be with us now."
The "thank you" (and anyone who can correct my Irish feel free to jump in, it was a spontaneous thing) was:
"Macha Mong-ruadh
Mór Ríoghain, Bean uasal,
go raibh maith agat as do bheannachtaí
imeann i síocháin
gach croí, do bhaile"
(Macha of the Red hair
Great Queen, noble woman,
Thank you for your blessings
Go in peace
Every heart, your home)

Copyright Morgan Daimler

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