Culture and Community: Countdown to PantheaCon

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[Pixabay.com]

For many people January symbolizes the start of one of the busiest times of the year. It is the start of the New Year, post holiday detox time, and a time for goal setting and planning. It is also during this month that PantheaCon preparation kicks into high gear for many people, and the count down to the mid-February convention begins. PantheaCon, a Pan-Pagan convention, consistently draws between 2,000 and 3,000 participants a year to San Jose, California for four days of non-stop magic, music, shopping and fun.

It is at this time we see fundraising requests for hospitality suites, Facebook invites for workshops, and an increasing number of updates from the PantheaCon staff as the date gets closer. PantheaCon continues to be one of the largest and biggest Pagan conventions to date, and one of the few events that pulls people from all over the United States.

I have personally come to acknowledge this time as a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts, one that has become a part of my regular routine every year. There is a sense of nostalgia in the spiral circles on the hotel carpet, the tingling of magic in the air, and the anticipation of friends old and new, all of which bring me back every year with a sense of anticipation and wonder. I imagine that these are many of the same things that bring others from across the country to the little old Doubletree Hotel in San Jose.

The 30 day countdown for PantheaCon has already begun – four days with 223 presenter slots and lot of talk about change makers in our community. What is different this year? Who is coming? What workshops to go to? How much is parking? What food are you taking to save costs? Did you get a room in the Doubletree? What time does your flight get in? Wanna have a drink? What kind of wares will there be in the vending room? How much money do I need? What hospitality suites are coming back this year? How will I decide what to go to?

These are all common questions heard during the PantheaCon countdown; all questions that will continue to float around social media until the day that the doors open.

[Photo Credit: commons.wikimedia.org]

[Photo Credit: commons.wikimedia.org]

What exactly continues to draw people to this convention every year varies from person to person, but it is clear that everyone is looking for some particular experience that they hope to find in the halls of the con. For some people it is the perfect place for networking, while for others it is a place of magical experience. Authors, artists and musicians come to share their work, and healers come to heal. Priestesses and priests come to present rituals, and plenty of others come to simply find community.

This year PantheaCon promises some new presenters, a new theme, and new opportunities to network and have fun. I reached out into the community to ask what is everyone is looking forward to this year.

This year, I’m looking forward to getting to know people. Most cons I fly under the radar, but this year I am presenting on a tough topic (divorce) and I’ve just published two more books so I’m going to be putting myself out there to meet people. I have social anxiety, so that’s not easy for me, but I am going to make myself do it! Also, it helps that there is usually absinthe. Last year I mostly went for the absinthe.  – Diana Rajchel

Pantheacon is always a high point in my year with its four days dedicated to ritual, pageantry, and revelry. This year I am thrilled to be included in the cast of Golden Gate Kindred’s Lokasenna ritual drama on Sunday night. But more than the programs or frippery (much as I love donning my corsets), Pantheacon has become much more about the connections and conversations I explore there. In the past several years, conversations at Pcon have paved the way for social justice work, deepening my practice, and important personal relationships. I am certain this year will yield the same. – Nathania Apple

 I am looking forward to seeing old friends and finally meeting face to face with folks I have only known online like Crystal Blanton. – Katrina Messenger

I was so disappointed when I had to cancel at the last minute last year so I’m especially excited to be back.  I’m looking forward to meeting new people, talking about my books, and finally getting around to presenting that workshop.  I’m also looking forward to checking in with all the folks who sent energy to me in the last year and saying THANK YOU! – Lisa Spiral

I look forward to attending many of the panels and big rituals. I choose panels on topics I know little about, to gain more knowledge of how others interact with the divine. And the big rituals I go to mainly because they seem fun. It’s also a time where I feel I am among similarly minded folks. – Akasha

pantheacon

Every year About this time I start getting ready for PantheaCon. I eagerly look forward seeing friends from far away that I don’t get to see often and just feel the energy of place that exists when we are all gathered together. That energy, that spirit has been one of the touchstones of my year for quite awhile now.

There are presenters, teachers really, that come every year I look forward to of course, but this year there are new people I’m excited about – Tommie StarChild, Lora O’Brien, Lasara Firefox Allen, Byron Ballard.  I’m also looking forward to how the conversations on social justice continue.  There has been great work at the conference over the last few years, not always comfortable, but extremely important.

I go through the program book in the weeks leading up to PCon, work out how which events I’m going to, there is so much on the schedule and in the suites there is always way more I want to do than is physically possible. The first couple of years I went I tried to do all the things.  Now I usually have one or two must-be-there’s and the rest of the convention I ride the wave of that energy we have all raised by our presence and let spirit guide me.  

This year the must-be-there for me is the Ole Time Good Spell Feri Pagan Tent Revival.  In keeping with the conference theme of “Change”, it’s title is “Changes – Turn and Face the Strange”.  I’m not going to miss this one.  I may cry, but I’m not going to miss it. – Jo Lynx

PantheaCon is a time of community, connection and service for the Coru Cathubodua Priesthood. We’re fortunate to be hosting the Temple of the Morrigan and the Blood Heroes blood drive for the third year in a row. We’ve received such an outpouring from attendees for these endeavors. We’re really looking forward to providing hospitality and a place for religious devotion to attendees again this year. This type of community service is both a joy and a sacred duty for us. – Rynn Fox, Chief, Coru Cathubodua Priesthood

These last days leading to the conference mean a lot of preparation, solidifying travel plans, creative food shopping, and lots of wardrobe practicing. One of the largest draws of this event is the ability to experience a lot of things in one place, meet different types of people, and have fun among other Pagans, Heathens and Polytheists.

[Photo Credit: Michael / Wikimedia]

San Jose, California [Photo Credit: Michael / Wikimedia]

Personally, I am really excited for the new presenters this year and learning some new chants. Most of all, I always look forward to spending time with friends that I don’t get to see often and meeting new people in person that I have only known online.

In the preparation for PantheaCon there are many things to consider. My personal list of tips for anyone who will be coming for the first time would include:

  • Bring multiple outfits, some comfortable and some fancy, so that you can change when needed.
  • Bring snacks and some easy meals to eat in order to reduce costs and save you from having every meal in the restaurant.
  • Bring what you need to help you sleep. The energy in the building makes it difficult.
  • Pace yourself; things will get hectic.
  • Schedule time to socialize and shop.
  • Shop during workshops. It is gets busy during lunch, dinner or breaks.
  • Don’t forget to eat. Make sure to have a plan.
  • Spend time going over the program online, and picking out what you are interested in by using the online tool.
  • Be flexible; things change easily.
  • Don’t forget the hospitality suites; they are pretty awesome.
  • Bring your own coffee. The coffee in the room is not that great, and the Starbucks line gets very long in the morning.
  • Make sure to have some cash on you for vendors.

The countdown to PantheaCon can be hectic, but the reward is always a good time. Hope to see you there.

PantheaCon
February 11th – 15th, 2016
Doubletree Hotel in San Jose, California
Theme: Change Makers

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This column was made possible by the generous support of the members of Come As You Are (CAYA) Coven, an eclectic, open, drop-in Pagan community in the San Francisco Bay Area.