Oh PantheaCon, how I love you, let me count the ways.
If you haven’t yet attended PantheaCon, let me urge you to do so right away! Move heaven and earth if you have to but please join us.
Living in the Bay Area for seven years, I kept hearing through various circles about the annual gathering of Pagans known as PantheaCon (PCon). Every year, thousands of my kin descend upon the DoubleTree hotel in San Jose, CA. There, we meet new friends, network with old ones, expose ourselves to traditions and techniques outside of our personal paradigms and participate together in some of the most intense spiritual rituals. As with most things, you will benefit in proportion to what you put into it, but there is generally something there for everyone. According to the presenters:
We are a conference for Pagans, Heathens, Indigenous Non-European and many of diverse beliefs that occurs annually over President’s Day weekend. Well over 2000 people attend more than 200 presentations that range from rituals to workshops and from classes to concerts.
While I could go into great detail about the Con as a whole, I would like to share my personal experiences from the latest incarnation of this amazing event.
You may remember that I posted previously about the death of my spiritual teacher, Eddy Gutiérrez, aka Hyperion, which occurred this past January. Since then, my fellow Initiates in the Unnamed Path have been holding space for each other on a daily basis in an online presence via Facebook. Not all of us were able to attend the conference this year, but for those who could, PCon provided us with an in-person opportunity to share our collective grief and plan for the future of our tradition.
For the past two years, Eddy was approved by PCon’s Programming Committee to present rituals from our Path. This year was to be a return of our highly successful Circle of Bones, a spirit contact circle. Check out the link for more about our sacred holidays. With Eddy’s passing, the community banded together and decided instead to hold a memorial and Circle of Light, a ritual in which Initiates offer energy healing, one of the four parts of our path, to the community. Many, who were unable to attend the funeral services, stood up and offered words of tribute to a man who’s work touched their hearts.
Memories were shared and many tears flowed. However, I was most humbled by how my fellow Initiates stepped up to the challenge of leading ritual space in Eddy’s absence. Everyone contributed to the work, but I am especially grateful to David S. who came up with the ritual’s framework, one that needed few tweaks. Participants later shared with me about the power of seeing all of us perform our circle casting in unison. I feel pretty sure that we did Eddy proud.
This year, PCon was much more about fellowship than ever before. Due to our various locations across the country, it is difficult to have all the Brothers together in one place. The Con provided the perfect backdrop for our continued grief, and many other traditions expressed their deep sorrow over the loss of such a powerful voice in our community. Indeed, I and my fellow Brothers felt very held by the community at large. We began dialogues with other traditions to find out how we can support each other. To T. Thorn Coyle, Storm Faerywolf, Orion Foxwood, Christopher Penczak and many others, we are forever grateful.
Among the myriad happenings, one other stood out in stark relief: Taking of the Veil, a ritual led by the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. According to their website, the Sisters “use humor and irreverent wit to expose the forces of bigotry, complacency and guilt that chain the human spirit.” While I have seen firsthand the generosity of these men and women, who work tirelessly to enrich the LGBTQ community, I had not yet been fortunate enough to witness to power of their Priesthood. They may be known at large as nuns or Sisters, but these individuals are deeply in touch with their Inner Power, and I could only marvel at the power and majesty that was revealed. I am in debt to Sisters Krissy Fiction and Dirrtie San Chez for their puissance.
Finally, I must take a moment to honor my new Mom, Vicky G. Vicky is Eddy’s mother and she has embraced me and my fellow Initiates as her own sons. She attended PCon this year for the first time, after acquiescing to Eddy’s repeated requests. I know it was a bittersweet time for her, but like everything in life, she jumped in and allowed the spirit to move her with abandon. It was truly an honor to have her witness rites of the Unnamed Path, the legacy left behind by Eddy.
This year was a first for me, as I let go of the need to attend a session during each time slot. More important was the time that I spent in the company of like-minded, yet fully individual souls who are pursuing their own unique paths to Spirit. Namaste my Brothers and Sisters.