Paganicon 2017

Paganicon has come and gone, and I am now home with lots of thoughts rolling through my head.

On Friday I attended one panel in its entirety, “Research without Tears and Thievery for Pagans” by Soli. I was largely familiar with the resources she presented, but I got the name of a researcher who has apparently done quite a bit of work on Seshat which was awesome. I’m also planning to poke at her wordpress blog- Syncretic Mystic- and will probably end up following it. I planned to attend “Tarot in a Magical Practice” but I felt odd and restless well before the presenter began, so I stuffed the handout in my purse and wandered off; Nykti and I also went to “The Authentic Witch: Crafting a Working Tradition” with Laura Tempest Zakroff, one of the guests of honor, but it was really basic introductory stuff. I kind of regret leaving- I need to get better about giving things a chance, giving people a chance to get comfortable, but at the same time we were treading well-worn ground and it wasn’t framed in any kind of way that was lobbing lightbulbs at me. Nothing wrong with the panel, mind- just not anything I seemed to need at the time.

Saturday was busier, mentally at least. Jenett’s “What is Remembered Lives: Historical Research for Pagan Practice” was great; like Soli’s it was a lot of familiar territory but I got some more Seshat stuff to track down, as well as information about statewide services/resources that I had no idea existed. “Dance with Uranus, Wrestle with Jupiter: An Experiential Approach to the Astro-Transits of 2017” by Heather Roan Robbins & Teri Parsley Starnes was possibly the highlight of the con for me in terms of being exposed to new ideas and giving me things to think about. I’m not sure whether it would be better described as a panel or a workshop- maybe an interactive panel? It was informative and engaging, with a performative/theatrical aspect to it that really immersed me in the moment and kept my thoughts from wandering too far off course, while still giving me the room to mull over the questions being asked. The beginning portion, which was more strongly interactive, asked us to answer three questions: 1) What is awakening in me? 2) What is my guiding foundational principle? 3) How do I hold my power?

The first took some thinking- I settled eventually on the desire to be my authentic self, the person I am beneath my depression. I’ve felt a bit like I’m waking up the past few weeks, like the fog is starting to lift from my head. I’m not all the way there yet, but the winter is coming to an end and for once I’m faced with the potential to do something, the capability to actually do something. The second was out of my mouth without a thought: honesty. I think that’s tying back into some of my thoughts lately on my materialistic tendencies, my agnostic tendencies, etcetera, that I will poke at below. Honesty with others but also (maybe more importantly) honesty with myself. The third I wasn’t able to answer, even after hearing Jenett and another woman talk about theirs. I don’t know how to define my power, and if I can’t define it than how can I know how I hold it? (Or don’t, as the case may be?) One thing Bo said to me later (I’m paraphrasing) was that power is how we make change, or choose not to. It’s a thought that makes sense, especially after listening Jenett talk about her work, but I’m not sure how to turn that mirror on myself and see clearly. Something to work on, certainly.

It’s also really reinforced my interest in learning about astrology; I’ve had an interest for ages but never strongly enough to actually do something about. I bought a book and then never really opened it, I did my natal chart online but only learned a little bit of it. So that’s going on my 2017 To Do List at some point or another.

Sunday was fairly chill. Net & Veggie did “The Journey of the Sun: Paving the Way Within the World” which talked a lot about cycles and the parallels between them. They are strongly considering a panel next year just on the concept of ma’at and I really, really hope they do, because it would be amazing. After that I attended Laura Tempest Zakroff’s “The Witches Art” which ran long and didn’t quite manage to get into the part that I’d been looking forward to the most, about integrating art and design into one’s own practice, but her work and her commentary were both inspirational and it’s given me some thoughts to poke at.

Being rather tired from the cumulative reduced sleep across con weekend and all the peopling and the travel, my brain isn’t quite where I want it (but then, is it ever?) but I’m hoping to put together a list of questions on all of these topics that I want to answer for myself. Hopefully that will be pulled together within the next week or so.

As I was falling asleep last night, I also got a teeny lightbulb about a subject that I could potentially give a talk on next year, though the idea of speaking in front of strangers makes me feel rather queasy: “Faithful Heart and Skeptical Mind: Reconciling Agnosticism and Paganism” or something like that. I’ve realized lately that I’ve been studiously ignoring my agnostic tendencies because they make me feel…. guilty isn’t quite the right word, but it’s close. Ashamed, and detached, and not fully present are all close as well. Something in there. I’ve hidden it with shrine items and calendars and fatigue, but it’s there and I need to acknowledge it. So I’m going to work on an essay, discussing the topic as though I were telling an audience, and if my friends in the Blanket Fort and possibly Yak think it’s worth sharing at con, I might give it a go.

Some of the questions I want to tackle in that essay/talk are: What is faith? What is skepticism? Why is faith important, and why is it not? How does skepticism hold us back, and can it help us be better? How do we have a healthy spiritual life and practice when we have agnostic leanings? Can agnosticism lead to better interpagan and interfaith relations?

I’m sure I’ll stumble on more as I go, but that’s probably more than enough to start on.

There were also a lot of panels that I wasn’t able to go to, between needing food and sleep and a trip to the yarn store as well as normal schedule conflicts. “Little Miss Understood” by Cara Schulz was about Hekate and Kore; “Paganism and Mental Health” by Engstrom-Reese, Iantaffi, and Merriam is apparently an ongoing series that’s been really good; “Magical Traps: How to Avoid Getting Stuck” by Dominique Smith, “Living the Process: Conscious Creation” by Tinnekke Bebout, and “Everyday Rituals” by Gayle Wyant all looked really interesting; “Aesthetics of Sacred Space” by Angela Raincatcher was apparently good and looked it; “Minzoku Shinto Concepts of the Afterlife” by Volkhvy looked cool, as did “Accidental Talismans” by Christensen and “Pagan Artists: Spiritual and Creative Process” by Effinger-Weintraub and Knight. I wish there was a way that presenters could share notes or resources with the con attendees at large, as inevitably there will be conflicts that prevent people from seeing everything they want to. In the meantime, I guess I’ll have to start tracking down blogs!

Did you attend Paganicon? What did you see, what did you want to see? What have you taken away with you?

Image from Paganicon 2017 Programming book, art by Laura Tempest Zakroff.

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