What a day. My previous experiences with groups of Pagans couldn’t have prepared me for the sensory overload that is PantheaCon. It is literally jam-packed with Pagans of all kinds everywhere you look. No sooner had I arrived, it seemed, that I was meeting and greeting with folks I’ve only spoken with on the phone or conversed with over the Internet. I had a chance to briefly connect with Pagan chaplain Patrick McCollum and talk about the important work he’s doing, and I also got to chat with Pagan scholar Sabina Magliocco, along with several of my fellow board members at Cherry Hill Seminary.
As an aside, and speaking of folks I’ve only met previously on the Internet. Poet and author Erynn Rowan Laurie, one of the founders of the Celtic Reconstruction movement, has run into some horrendously bad luck with her car in the process of getting to this convention. So if you’ve been meaning to look into her writing, why not buy the PDF version of “Circle of Stones” for only $10 (there’s other stuff of hers’ you can purchase at the link as well). You’d get some great writing, and you’ll be helping out someone in a bind.
Turning to the events I attended today, I started out with a class, “Introduction to Hindu Deities”, that I mostly attended so I could meet a long-time Internet acquaintance, Kulasundari Devi, the President and Pujarini of the Sri Kamakhya Mahavidya Mandir. I thought that I had a pretty good grasp of Hindu theology and divinity, and would find the presentation remedial, but I was blown away by her depth of knowledge, talent, and ability to transmit her passion for the Mother Goddesses of India. She also plays a mean harmonium.
Later, after some “dinner” (it’s hard to stop and eat around here), I was able to attend a concert by Pagan singer-songwriter S.J. Tucker. Tucker, aka “Sooj”, is a singer who really knows how to work an audience, and there were some definite ”chills” moments during the performance. This was her first time at PantheaCon, but it was apparent that she was adored by the audience, who were more than happy to sing and clap along to her songs. Highlights of the show included her version of “The Witches’ Rune”, and Tucker’s horned-god ode “Hymn to Herne”. You can sample and download her musical wares, here.
Finally, I went to an expertly-executed and intense ritual led by T. Thorn Coyle, Anaar, and Morpheus Ravenna, with help from M. Macha Nightmare, Pandemonaeon, and several others. Entitled “Red God Revel: an Ecstatic Invocation”, it had the entire room, myself included, dancing and chanting for the horned hunter, focusing our passions and pride in a magnificent cone of power. With a group as diverse, and often rowdy, as the one you’ll find at PantheaCon, it’s a testament to their abilities that they were able to focus and direct the room so ably. One of the best public rituals I’ve ever attended.
There’s even more happening as I write this, but I’ve been up since 4:30 am, and my batteries need some serious recharging. Tomorrow I’ll be attending “Pagan Power: Pagan Freedom, Pagan Rights”, a talk led by Selena Fox and Patrick McCollum, “Making the Transition”, a talk by Starhawk, and I’ll be delivering my own presentation, ” Pagans and the New Media”.
Stay tuned for my next update, and keep an eye on The Wild Hunt’s Twitter feed, as I’ll be sending occasional updates there from my phone (also keep an eye on the #pcon hash-tag for updates from several PantheaCon attendees).