Tuesday, April 01, 2014

PantheaCon -- Part III

Jo-Ann Byers-Mierzwicki, Corby Lawton, me, Tony Mierzwicki
If readers are confused, PantheaCon – Part II, is about veils.

Saturday began with breakfast Jessie Olson, who explained her Cornerstone Pagan Fellowship being launched at PantheaCon in a welcoming hospitality suite I’d visited the previous night.  I’m down with their motto of “Making the Old Ways New,” but less enthusiastic about “Let’s make Paganism mainstream!”  I question whether that goal is either something to strive for or realistic.  Having said that, I do hope – and work for – Pagans achieving visibility and respect in the wider world.  I wish Cornerstone good luck.

Sometimes making it to a presentation at the appointed time is difficult.  Restaurant service can be slow; we can get deeply engaged in discussion with an individual or small group; and sometimes we just need a break.

I wasn’t able to make any of the 7 pm programs, although I was drawn to “Dancing with the Elements: A Magical Bellydance Show.”  Unfortunately that was one of the offerings that was closed once it began.  I guess it was big magic.

Remembering Our Forebears

I noted there was “A Wake for Hyperion,” put on by The Unnamed Path Brotherhood.  I didn’t know Hyperion in life, but I can see what a profound influence he had on many Pagans so I was heartened that they created a special memorial in this large venue.

Years ago after my friend John Patrick McClimans died, his photo graced the registration area over which he’d presided when he was alive.  I also missed seeing Barbara Glass.  We’re losing so many of our “founders” (by which I mean early Pagan presences, teachers, and activists).  I miss Sequoia and Bone Blossom, Judy Foster and Raven Moonshadow, Alison Harlow, Beki Fillipello, Tara Webster, Tyrell O’Neill, Moher Downing and Luanne Blaich, and so many others.  On the feedback form I suggested that PantheaCon have a room dedicated to our Beloved Dead so an altar containing photos of these departed loved ones can be erected and maintained throughout the Con, enabling mourners to honor them, as well as providing an ongoing link to our Pagan history.  I’m aware of two or three people who attended PantheaCon this year who are unlikely to be there next year.  Further, I hope to be remembered by my Pagan communities when I’m gone.  I’m in no hurry, but in only 29 years I’ll have reached 100, if I make it, so…..

* * * * *

I reluctantly passed on Tempest and Nathaniel’s “Dreaming the Raven: A Morrigan Dance Ritual” (belly dance), which appealed to me because of my personal affinity for the Phantom Queen and because I seldom see Tempest and enjoy her dancing.

That same evening I also missed “Sekhmet Empowerment Ritual: Claim Your Power,” intriguing because of a very powerful experience I had with Sekhmet at Her temple in Nevada.

Instead, I visited various suites and schmoozed.  Had a fun time in the ADF suite with Sean Harbaugh of the Sierra Madrone Grove, William Ashton from Denver, and others whose names elude me.  It was fun to tell them of Cherry Hill Seminary’s “Sacred Lands and Spiritual Landscapes” symposium, co-sponsored the University of South Carolina and featuring noted British historian Ronald Hutton, last year, and the fact that the papers delivered there will appear in book form shortly, under the aegis of ADF Publishing.  Here’s an informative report from one Druid’s perspective.

Since I’m a part of two, and sometimes all, of the three sponsors in the Pagan Scholars Den, I hied myself to that suite for the Pagan History Project’s meet-and-greet.  Unfortunately, we had a lot of technical problems with the screening part; however, we made up for those problems with fun conversation.


Over (1) “Second Generation Paganism,” because I’m interested in the overall health of our communities, and their sustainability; (2) “Hypatia’s Ancient Spiritual Magic for Modern Times,” because Hypatia is our Guardian Ancestor at Cherry Hill Seminary, and a fascinating woman; and (3) “The Etruscan Discipline and the Oracle of Geomancy,” with Murtagh anDoile (the only one of those three presenters I had any familiarity with), I opted instead for “Pagans and Institution Building” with Amy Hale.  Judging by the good turnout on the first thing Sunday morning, and the discussion this presentation engendered, this topic is one whose time has come for Pagans.  Well, it’s obvious I’ve been on that bandwagon for many years now, since I’ve been active (and sometimes inactive) in CoG since 1981, active in various interfaith groups and activities for 10 or 15 years, and deeply committed to making CHS a sustainable institution for scholarly- and/or service-inclined Pagans since circa 2000.  Most recently I’ve joined in the work of the Pagan History Project.  I’m always interested to see how others set these things up.  As it turned out, this was mainly a launch for the Pantheon Foundation, as expected.

I’ve seen Pagans attempting to establish various kinds of institutions for decades.  Most are worthy dreams that don’t end up finding themselves grounded in the reality of nonprofit institution building.  We have tons of talent, lots of brainpower, plenty of enthusiasm, yet I feel that some of us end up working at cross-purposes.  Or stepping on each other’s toes.  Ideally, I’d like to see more collaboration and mutual support.  I wish the Pantheon Foundation good luck.  I wish the same for the newly established Cornerstone Pagan Fellowship (also launched at PCon this year), the Temple of Witchcraft, and all the other Pagan institutional endeavors.

Lots of reports, experiences, opinions, and deconstruction have already been posted on several blogs about the “Wiccanate privilege” discussion held in the CoG/NROOGD/NWC hospitality suite on Sunday afternoon.  As a Witch (technically not a Wiccan) who’s been active in interfaith efforts locally and nationally, of course it concerns me if other Pagans feel un- or misrepresented in those fora.  I went and listened attentively.  I’ll contribute my tuppence about the “Wiccanate privilege” discussion in a subsequent blog. 

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