Pantheacon always has that Summer Camp kind of feeling. It’s awesome while you’re there, and you miss it when you’re gone, but you also know that it wouldn’t be as special if you lived in that space all the time. Today, I miss it, but I’m also glad to be home and resting.
The Circle of Cerridwen had a suite this year, and this made for a very different, and amazing, con experience. We were intentionally a dry suite, as we have members who are in recovery, and while our suite didn’t get to the point where no one could move, it did have many interesting people come in and out. This also made for really interesting conversations. Some I didn’t think I’d have, and some that I really didn’t know the impact of until I came home on Monday.
But I (and the coven) did the work of pastoral care. Caring for people, sometimes, who would get ignored by other attendees for many reasons. Mostly ignored because they were different in some way, which, even at Pantheacon (as pleasant and awesome as this one was), does happen.
I’m still thinking about the work we did. My own personal pastoral work and impact, the impact of our coven, and the impact of the rituals we performed (The Descent and The Sacred Body). I’m really surprised that the Christian elements we brought with us didn’t get any overt push-back, and that we were thanked for talking about Jesus in a ritual. It’s really made me think harder about what my path really is. It always seems when I come up with a plan, it changes again. But the biggest message I got is that what I’m doing and the way I’m doing it is really important. I’ve been helping people, affecting and effecting people, on lots of levels. Some levels where I don’t even know what I’ve done for people.
But I do know I’ve gotten the best compliment a pastor/minister/priest can receive. Where someone takes the time to tell you that what you did, said, or preached has had an effect on them in some special way. That you’ve made an impact on their lives. That you’ve helped them realized something about themselves that they didn’t know before. That you’ve brought Spirit to them in some way that healed them.
It’s easy to say to myself that I didn’t do any of that, it was Spirit moving through me that did it. But really, Spirit can’t do this work without me (and those around me). Spirit can’t plan the ritual, bring the props, make music, make Keynote slides, break bread, make oil, and all the other things that can only can be done by a human being. But I’m really in awe of it. It’s scary sometimes. It’s scary because it just seems so much bigger than me, and because it’s so easy to get a big head about it. I know I have good folks around me to keep me from going there, but it’s hard not to go there.
It brings up the question of what I’m meant to do and where I’m meant to be. It brings up a lot of self-doubt. Do I get ordained in a Christian organization? Do I just hang on and figure that out after graduation? What organization really would want me in it? Do people really want my ritual, my preaching, anything I have to say?
Pastoring in the suite seemed so easy, really. I just did it. I was my priestly self. I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t doubt anything. I just did it. It’s only now when I’m technically “off duty” that my brain starts it’s litany of doubt.
And maybe that’s the answer. I just do God’s work and let (most) of the rest attend to itself. It seems too simple to do that, but….
So, it’s morning, and we have yet to get all the gear together and clothes together, but we’ll be doing that soon. (Most likely after a good breakfast and caffeinated beverages.)
If you’re going to be a Pantheacon, give us a shout, or better yet, come up to our suite! (Room 966…the crosstown neighbors of the Beast.) Check out our schedule of events, and don’t forget to come to our two events!
We’ll have snacks, chocolate, ribbons(!), and pagans to chat with up there, so swing on by!
If you are:
- gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual, asexual or any other sexual orientation…
- transgender, cis-gender, androgynous, multi-gendered, or any other gender…
- white, black, brown, red, or any other race…
- short, tall, fat, skinny, or any body type…
- Pagan, Wiccan, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Feri, Druid, Norse, Yoruba, Khemetic, Ceremonial, or any other faith path…
- a human being who likes to hang out with other human beings (or any flavor of being, for that matter)…
YOU ARE WELCOME TO OUR SUITE!
It’s that time of year again! The time of year where we get out the fancy stuff and head down to San Jose for 4 days of Pantheacon mayhem and magick!
This year is going to be double exciting because Circle of Cerridwen has a suite this year!!! For our complete schedule of Pantheacon events, see our wiki page.
If you’re going to be at the con, please feel free to come by and say hello!
“You are afraid of Me.”
It was’t a question. Although, I was compelled to answer, weakly, “Yes.”
She returned to Her Cauldron, stirred it three times, and then sat. She offered me a stool opposite the Cauldron, and said “Sit.”
I began to stir the Cauldron. The smell was enticing and repulsive all at once, and I couldn’t describe it as anything remotely of our world. It glowed, but was deep and dark, like a starry night in a field far from city lights. She smiled at me, and I felt warm.
“I will tell you a Truth.”
She paused. I stirred.
“There are many stories about Me and Gwion Bach. Who he was, what he became, and My role in it. You are familiar, yes?”
I nodded. I stirred.
“Good. Now, I told him to stir the Cauldron, just like you are now. He was a frightened little boy. He was so worried about disappointing Me, and stirred so carefully, that little things made him jump. I tried to tell him to relax, but he didn’t. He couldn’t let go. It got to be so that even the littlest things frightened him. One day I dropped My shoe, and he jumped so hard that he got three drops of the potion on him, gaining the knowledge and wisdom that was far beyond his years. With his eyes now opened, he tried to hide from it. So he ran.”
She paused. I stirred.
“Of course, I chased him. I wanted to help him, to teach him what he need to know to control the knowledge and emotions that plagued him. I was angry, too, because I was so busy with my own duties not to see how far My hireling had regressed. So I chased him, and you know how that turned out.”
I nodded. I stirred.
“So, in My Womb, he learned what I couldn’t teach him as Gwion. He became Taliesin and was great in knowledge, wisdom, and love. But, do you know, which lesson he really learned?”
I looked up and into Her eyes. It was as if She was staring straight into my soul. I looked away, and in doing that, I fumbled with the great spoon used to stir the Cauldron.
I felt fear, anger at my clumsiness, humiliation in my failure, embarrassment. I was so caught up in my emotions, I hadn’t noticed the single drop of hot potion landing on my hand until it started to burn.
I began to panic. I could feel what Gwion had felt, and I understood why he had run. I could feel the clarity. I could see all of myself. All of the emotions that were open, and all that were buried. I started to take a step backwards, away from the Cauldron.
I looked up at Her, eyes wide, and She grinned. I took another step. And another. Before I knew it, I had turned and was running hard.
“Go ahead. Run! You can’t hide from Me!”
I can’t really describe the discussion we did at Pantheacon this year. Partly because I was channeling Crow in Warrior mode and it is difficult to remember things exactly, and partly because I am still trying to understand the effect it had on me.
Because I know, for a fact, that no one left that room unchanged in some way. Not even me.
What I do understand is that this is only the beginning. The beginning of the deeper conversation. The beginning of learning things about myself that I didn’t know before, or didn’t acknowledge. The beginning of the work of radical inclusion that is so desperately needed in all religions.
Was it perfect? No, of course not. We didn’t know who would show up or what would happen. It was stepping into the unknown, for all of us.
The biggest thing I remember though, is the beginning, where Sarah (who was also channeling Lilith, the Buddha, and Jesus) went around the room and said to each person as they introduced themselves:
“I love you unconditionally, and I surrender to your compassion.”
The energy shift in the room while she did this was palpable. How everyone received that, I don’t know. I do know that this was not a small thing.
I also know, that this is just the beginning.
We have a choice here. We can continue to be angry at each other, point fingers, and place blame. We can write angry words on the internet and speculate about who does what.
Believe me, I know about being angry. Sometimes letting it out is a good thing.
But the other option is to channel it into something more. You can let it become the passion that drives change.
I choose to channel this into the work of radical inclusion. I choose to recognize that everyone, of all races, genders, orientations, and creeds can sit at the table together. I choose to work for this in the pagan community because I know we can do better. I choose to work for this in the Christian community because I know we can do better.
But, being radically inclusive doesn’t mean we can’t be real. There are serious problems and deep wounds that need healing. These need to be aired out and discussed, then we can let them go.
This is not a comfortable process. Radical inclusion doesn’t mean that we kiss and make nice. It means we listen to what is being said and figure out how to make things better.
We are human. That means we make mistakes, screw up, and do really stupid things.
But the question is: do we learn from the mistakes we make?
Do we truly listen to people when they are hurt and angry?
Will you truly listen, or just react out of fear?
This is what we intended, this is what we brought with us.
Love is the law, love under will. Nor let the fools mistake love; for there are love and love. There is the dove, and there is the serpent. Choose ye well!
There’s 3 more days until Pantheacon!
I think it should be a rather interesting Pcon for me and the Circle of Cerridwen this year. Not only do we have our Gender and Transgender Open Discussion on Sunday, but we will also have paper copies of the book available at the discussion.
The book was very interesting to help put together. We had 19 authors contribute and 5 editors. It took quite a bit of coordinating on my part to make sure we had things where they should be. Granted, it’s not perfect, and we had hoped to have some other voices contribute, but for now, we’re happy with it.
I’m curious to see what happens at the discussion this year, especially given what happened after Pantheacon last year. Personally, I hope we can help people come to a better understanding of gender, and especially transgender, issues in our community. The discussion on this really needs to continue if pagan religions are going to grow. Evolution doesn’t happen overnight.
So, we’ll see you at Pantheacon! You’ll probably see me with my books over the weekend, since I have papers due next week, but come over and say hello anyway!
Besides, you can’t miss me with my bright orange hair!
The Spring term has started this week, and it’s really nice to be back at school. It’s funny that I’m as glad to be back at school and see everyone as I was to get off the hill at the end of last term.
It took a lot of rest and a lot of crafting to get back to a point where I was ready to get back. (If you check out my crafting blog, you’ll see what I’ve made in the last month and a half.) In a lot of ways, I’m glad I’ve gotten back in to crafting as it helps keep me calm and focused. It also gives me something to do with my hands instead of fussing with my iPad during class.
It’s a win-win situation! Don’t be surprised if I give you something crocheted or some sort of jewelry for birthdays, holidays, and special events! I also got asked during class last week if I made iPad bags for sale (they really liked mine), and that’s not a half bad idea. I might be persuaded to do it on request. (Although, if you wanted a special color yarn, you’d have to buy it.)
I’m going to try and write on this blog at least once a week. I want to make this a regular practice again. It’s looking like either Wednesday or Fridays at the moment, but that may change depending on how my homework goes.
Also, my fellow ministers are now getting into the blogging thing, and so check out the sidebar for links to their sites (not all of them are up yet).
Pantheacon is in two weeks, and I’ll have announcements about the book this week and reminders about our discussion on the Sunday of Pantheacon at 3:30 pm. It should prove to be interesting, and I’m really excited for the book to finally come out! It was really interesting to put the book together, and we have an excellent collection of authors (some well-known, some not) who have contributed. Hope to see many of you there!
On a final note, I just want it to be known that I have some of the awesomest friends on the planet! If I didn’t have them to give me a metaphorical 2×4 to the head now and again, I don’t know where I’d be! I love you all (you know who you are)!
It’s been awhile since I’ve written about myself and there’s just been so much going on with me, it sometimes feels like I have no idea what to write about.
Or, there are things I’d write about, but they’re too personal.
This week is reading week, however, and I have a little bit of time to write between a take-home midterm exam, a 10-12 page paper about sex magick and Christianity, and many things that need to be read.
School is going well. It’s very busy, and I’ve had to really make sure that I keep doing my magick and spiritual practice. It’s been a couple of weeks or so since I made my prayer beads, which really came out of a moment in one of my classes where I felt like the capital “P” pagan. But the biggest realization is that I hadn’t done devotional work in a very long time, and I really needed it. Funny enough, getting devotional work together has also pulled more magick work into my life, and doing more magickal work with Sarah, which is a very good thing.
I’m finding, magickally, that I’m working with new techniques, especially in regards to divination. I made a black mirror awhile back, and that seems to work better for me these days than tarot. I think that it’s because I have a tendency to see things visually. In fact, visions and dreams for me show like a movie, a cross between the 2D and 3D that movies are. The mirror makes a great focus, being kind of like a “screen” my mind can use. I don’t think I’ll totally abandon tarot, but I think I’ll use a mix of both for the moment.
I’m looking forward to our Samhain ritual on Friday. If you want to come, let us know! One of our coven mates and I have created a really interesting ritual that I think will be very powerful. This is my, well, not necessarily favorite holiday, but definitely the holiday I hold the most sacred out of the wheel.
Tomorrow I head to SF to work with friends on a special ritual that I hope will bring healing for those who it’s for. I feel very honored to be asked to help in this. I know I’ll be learning a lot, too, but I think learning experiences are better when they actually lead to something that will bring so much to people.
I have a group of friends at school who I do mutual ministry with, and besides the work we do for each other, I think we are an amazing team. We have some really neat ideas on things to do in regards to interfaith work, and I hope we’ll be able to fulfill our visions.
Don’t let anyone tell you different: seminary is spiritual boot camp. There are some days after classes where I just fall over from the brain power and spiritual insight! (I nap a lot these days, especially Tuesdays.)
I’m also taking care of some health stuff. Went to a new PCP today, and, because I’m tired of dealing with weight-focused doctors, I took a letter stating: 1) that I practice Health At Every Size, 2) that unless it’s my annual physical or absolutely medically necessary, I don’t want to be weighed every visit, and 3) that my doctors do not use weight-loss or weight-loss surgery as an initial diagnosis. Not only did the new doc seem excited that I wrote the letter (with HAES info attached), she actually said that BMI and dieting is bullshit before I even said it myself. (She also liked my hair, and said that the only reason she didn’t have her purple hair now was because of work. I told her about some of the red dyes that I’ve used.) The best thing is that, with the prescriptions she gave me, she said that I only need to take them as symptoms persist, that I could decide when that was.
I can totally work with her. (If you have Kaiser and want her info, email me.)
Sarah’s been really studying up on movie stuff, and I keep being her idea person, more or less. (Well, ok, the steampunk movie was more of a want than an idea giving, but, still, it’s steampunk!) I told her a few weeks ago about a book we were reading in my Gender and Sexuality class called “Immodest Acts” and like me, she found the story pretty compelling. Now it’s becoming a movie idea with the script percolating in her head. It’s always fun to watch her thinking about these kind of things, especially since she usually comes up with something really cool.
I’m also in love with the Cupertino Public Library. Very Silicon Valley, but very nicely done! And self-checkout for books! Tables with plugs built in! Woot! Oh, and it has a Coffee Society cafe too! I think I’ll be going there more to study when I’m home.
I’m also getting addicted to beading, mostly for the purpose of making magickal jewelry and prayer beads (As I showed you all in a previous post.) I’m making prayer beads for my little ministerial group. I re-did my guardian bracelet with different beads (chinese red marble). And I’ll be making some Christmas/Yule gifts, too. I’m also digging making bits with silver clay, and considering it’s much easier to fire stuff, it’s much easier than regular clay. I miss doing regular clay stuff, but this works quite nicely so far to fill that art gap.
Ok, time for me to go to bed. It’s going to be a busy week, even though I technically have this week off. (It ain’t called “Reading Week” for nothin’.)
This is a paper I wrote for my Spiritual Disciplines for Leadership class about our tradition. This paper goes into some of the history of Alexandrian witchcraft and the thought processes behind why we started the Open Source Alexandrian tradition.
The most interesting comment I received was that the professor found it refreshing that I was willing to be open and honest about our tradition, particularly when it comes to it’s history. I am critical of Alexandrian’s history, because there is a history of discrimination that we want to change. I think that in order to change and grow our tradition, we can’t ignore where we’ve come from, nor can we create a fantastical past (which, if many pagans are being honest with themselves, happens more often than not). You can’t know what to change if you don’t know how something got broken in the first place.
I do welcome opinions about the paper, since I’m sure there are things in it that could raise hackles for some (just be polite about it).
(And yay!!!! I got an A in my first paper towards my Mdiv! Woot!! *bounce*)
This is just a post to say that the Open Source Alexandrian Wiki has been updated. The calendar, mailing lists, and a new section on OSA membership has been added.
Another new thing is that there is now an OSA discussion list. This list is for anyone who’s interested in Open Source Alexandrian or would like to learn more about it. Find out more information about our mailing lists on the wiki.
We’ll also be posting more about the anthology and Pantheacon 2012 in the coming months as things get finalized.