I missed PantheaCon last year, because I was in hospital, so I was determined to make the most of going this year, and by golly, I managed it!
Firstly, with six of us travelling together, I decided to rent a behemoth of a SUV, the Ford Expedition EL Limited, which held allof our stuff and us quite comfortably. I've never been a fan of Ford, but this trip may have changed my mind, especially the Sync system. My wife loved the heated seats and the reversing camera.
There were a lot of obvious improvements at the 'Con... the Doubletree in San Jose had obviously heard the calls for more staff and better food, and as a result we only had to wait for a table once in the entire weekend. The menu had more choice, and issues were dealt with quickly.
As usual, we only made it to a fraction of what we intended to attend... and this year we didn't make it to any of Orion's workshops. "Reading the Stones and Bones" was good, informative, but did not match the description or even the title. The "Excorcism and De-Possession ritual" was a great concept that was somewhat lacking in execution, in my humble opinion. The idea was for folks to dance out their negative emotions, such as shame, fear, rage, greed, etc., which they did, but the transmutation into pure energy - and returning that energy to the people - was incomplete, leaving psychic "ick" in the room. There did not appear to be any warding (they may have done some that we didn't see, but it didn't feel like there was any).
The Avalon Ritual led by R J Stewart, on the other hand, was magnificent. RJ - looking very well and full of life - began by explaining the background to this rite, whic hwas to counterbalance the threat of nuclear energy, both in the form of reactors and bombs, describing it as star-fire in the wrong place. He recounted the role of his mentor (whose name I forget) and other adepts in starting this process, and then went on to explain what we were going to do.
It basically involved using the concept of the ley-line (as a line that joins two places/times through the center of the world) to place us all in connection with the ancient Shrine of Avalon. Note, we were not to visualize ourselves "going there", but rather to bring both here and there together in the now, a much more effective thing.
His partner Anastasia(?) effected this process by singing a haunting song, and his assistance brought in the quarters, and then they raised the Fire of Avalon beautifully and simply. RJ shared the birdlike flute playing he received in meditatrion, that would have been played in ancient time on flutes made from the bones of birds.
Apparently they originally intended to obtain representations of the Sacred Tols (sword, bowl, spear and plate) from vendors, but RJ wa inspired to use the actual invisible tools as energy forms, which we all lined up to hold over the sacred flame and then pass on to the next person. It became apparent to us all that the important act( and the one with all the power) was not the receiving of the tools, but the giving them to the next in line, and indeed, we finished by en-masse handing them off to the future students of the Mysteries.
A personal moment that was ver special was when I got to hold one of the tools over the fire myself - although all my coveners were in the same section of the room, and had therefore lined up in the south for the spear, our line was longer than the others, so at the end two of us got moved by Anastasia to the east and west, and as my wife and Priestess Linda held the spear over the fire, I held the bowl and Carrie, our circle sister held the sword, and a man unknown to us held the platter/oracular head, before handing them back to RJ's team.
Those who held the platter, with the Oracular Head upon it, reported that they felt as if the platter was empty when handed to them, and it was their own head that became the Oracular Head on the platter as they offered it over the fire.
All in all, a very moving ritual, that affected all of us profoundly.
Ofcourse, I also presented two workshops of my own. Both of them were well-attended, and I think they went over quite well. As usual, I got a little choked up sharing some of my personal stories in "Gods and Ancestors and the 21st-Century Crafter", but that is as it should be. My "Invocation and the Ancient Art of Ritual Possession" was packed, with people being turned away as the doors closed on a capacity crowd. Over 100 people put up with my jokes and witticisms, and then watched as I commited the supreme act of folly... demonstrating not one, but four distinct full possessions, using three different techniques. Admittedly, the possessions were kept short (I "had a word" with the deities concerned before-hand, to ensure they would allow me to do this and cooperate with the time), but they definitely kicked my ass... in fact I've spent large parts of the last two days dozing in an attempt to recoup my energy - though that could just be post-PantheaCon fall-out!
Lastly, there was the whole Z Budapest vs. the Trensgendered incident. I've spoken at length about this elsewhere, so I'll keep this short here. I must confess that I've never been a fan of Z, finding both her insistance on mixing politics and spirituality and her insistance that all women are victims and all men are rapists distasteful, but the level of bigotry and hate demonstrated against the trans community - suggesting that they are men trying to sneak into the women's rituals - was positively offensive. Some are calling for a boycott of PantheaCon over this, for allowing her Dianic rite, but I feel that Glenn and her team handled this with sensitivity, allowing both sides to have their say and their space. The Trans community and their supporters protested silently and respectfully, and Z responded with mor hate and misrepresentation... she could have been a GOP Presidential candidate!
So now the Con is over, we're all back home, at work, planning for next year. I got great feedback from my workshops, sold a bunch of books, and we have nefarious plans bubbling away for next year too.