Friday, February 24, 2012

Pantheacon 2012 Post-Mortem (part 3)

(Or, what I actually did, versus what I said I was gonna do.)

Part 3: "Dude, it's only FRIDAY".

(You will probably benefit from first at least scanning parts ONE and TWO. There. All ready? Let's go.)

Well, apparently we DO need
our Steeenking Badges.
Friday morning. Soooo nice to be at the Con already. A dawdling breakfast at café Ho-Hum and then a leisurely stroooollll back up to the room to take a long shower and get ready for the opening bell. Will I try out the hotel’s body wash, body spray, activator gel, and post-conditioner-vapor-hood-scalp treatment? I think I will.

First order of business is Registration. It’s time to get my con badge and get this party officially started! But who do I spy in line – Belfry! Ack! No wait, she’s calm and pleasant. Hey, she’s working! She’s directing traffic for the Reg folks, no doubt to earn a Reg badge by working for the Convention. Yay! Good for her. Maybe her story would have a happy ending after all. (That’s foreshadowing with a touch of Irony - for those of you playing along at home.) 

Then it’s off to the Green Room on the second floor to check in as a presenter and get my Helper Badges so my video guys can get into my seminar on Sunday Night. And the ribbon madness commences. But this year, I have my own ribbons! Ha! Take THAT!

Since we’ve switched to coming in on Thursdays I’ve made it a point to attend the Opening Ritual. There are several reasons for this.

  • 1)    It’s a way to say thank you to Glenn for creating the largest (and most importantly BEST) Pagan convention in the country.
  • 2)    I really do think of the entire convention as one, long ritual, so it’s behoovial to Cast the weekend properly.
  • 3)    It’s a great way to get a jump on who is going to be your “Con Crush” for the next 3 – 4 days.
  • My rebuttal to the ribbon madness at Pantheacon:
    "Ribbons are kinda lame"
  • 4)    It’s only half-an-hour.

Friday, 1:30pm

From there it was a sprint across the first floor to the San Juan / San Carlos rooms for “Village Witchery 101”. I had not planned on seeing this, but I met the teacher, Hexeba Theaux the night before at the Sushi Bar, and I was impressed with her intelligence and energy. (I mean, you can’t have TWO “X”s in your name and not be cool, right?) The class was very practical and hands-on, which I always enjoy. It was about showing us some techniques you can use to help people out when they find out you are a witch and ask for your help. Right up my alley!

Highly sophisticated divinatory tool.
Who knew?
I partnered with Roe Griffith, a friend of mine from Santa Cruz, who is a kindred spirit. The technique I liked the best was the “Egg Roll”, where you diagnose your client by slowly rolling a chicken egg from the crown of their head down one arm, then down the other, then down one side of their face, over their chest and all the way down to their feet, then the other side of their face all the way down, and then repeat on their back. When the egg slips is where you know there is a problem spot on your client.

It sounds ridiculous, but a quick glance around the room showed that people were discussing their aches and pains and nodding, so it seemed to work “like a charm” as the saying goes. Eggs are apparently superb vibrational receptors. With Roe I correctly zeroed in on her stiff neck, and she deduced that I was the second warmest person I’d ever met. “Honey – you cooked my egg!” is how she put it.

Great workshop, and a wonderful way to start Pantheacon.

I popped up to my room in the half hour interval, and as the elevators opened to take me down my good friends Katie and Kelly bowled out, all full of young nymph naughtiness. They pounced on me as I tried to get into the elevator car, much to the delight of the woman already in the car.

Katie and Kelly;
elevator assault squad.
I fought my way free and leaped into the car just as the door closed. The woman gave me a mock disapproving look. “Dude. It’s only FRIDAY” she chided me, with a smile.

Friday, 3:30pm

Next up was my good friend Jenya’s presentation: “Magick, Poetry, Wisdom: A Journey into Power”. This was a re-imagining of the Cerridwen / Taliesinn saga told in lecture and guided meditation. A full house at check-in time on Friday; impressive. She had me in trance long before we were told to “get comfortable”.

Jen was careful enough to make sure that the Magick of the tale affected our mind as well as our heart and spirit. I felt like I had been forced through a hand-wringer of Magick by someone who truly cared. Amazing stuff. I am so glad Jenya is on Our Side, as the saying goes.

I staggered out of the San Juan room and found myself in step with a young woman who had also attended Jen’s workshop. We agreed that we were both in a vulnerable state and that the very worst thing we could do right now was to go shopping. And with that we entered the vendor room. No! Wait! Ack!

We said that we would watch out for each other and stop any wild, extravagant purchases. But of course then we lost each other in all the sparklies and pretties. A few minutes later she appeared, modeling a gorgeous, corseted dress full of sequins and rhinestones – and a glazed look in her eye. So I guess I failed that one. That vendor should give Jenya a discount next year.

Dinnertime Interlude

I dawdled around the Vendor room for a while, signed up to read Tarot on Sunday Morning, and did not have dinner. I was waiting for Karen to get off work, so we could dine together.

I went back to my room, where I got a text from Kelly and Katie, asking if the Sharks Hockey game was on in my room. Now, what would I say to these two gorgeous young women? I grabbed the remote and frantically started pushing buttons in the direction of the TV. “Sure it’s on. Absolutely. Come on over. And bring Amanda with you!”

Margie and Mykey
But alas, none of us could figure out how to get local sports channels on the hotel TV. DARN. And just when we were discussing what else the four of us could do in a hotel room – my wife calls, from the parking lot!

I shoo the hotties out of my room and race down to greet Admiral Karen. We start schlepping bags and drums up to our room. It was a rough time for her. Having to work on the Friday of Pcon always sucks, but it had been a hard day, then driving over the hill, then being smacked in the face by the Con already going full blast, then the feeling of already being “behind” everybody else. Ugh. I unpacked quickly while she took a relaxing shower and then we had as nice a dinner as Café Ho-Hum can provide.

We ate with our friend Mykey, who was playing hooky while his wife Margie danced her cute butt off at the Deva Gnosis dance at 7pm. I heard later it was a great ritual / dance, but I had more important things going on. I took Admiral Karen up to our room and put her to bed. She could catch up to the merry-go-round tomorrow.

Friday, 9pm

Me though, I was off to Don Schulz’s Drum Circle 101 class. Now it may seem surprising to some that I would choose this activity, considering I have taught classes on Public Ritual Drumming and two days before I was laying down conga tracks for my band’s first album. But to be a true percussionist is to never get tired of the basics, and every year I find that I can help some folks out as well.

The Goth Fairies for Beltane 2007:
Victoria, Angus (& doumbek), Amanda
Major embarrassment though: I unwrapped my old glazed doumbek and found that I had snapped the head string on it, which caused the drumhead to lose all tension. My drum was a brick. But improvisation is the name of the game, and drummers are a friendly lot. I played my emergency shaker, mooched some drum time off my neighbor Chris who had just bought a lovely frame drum and borrowed my other neighbor’s claves to assist Don in demonstrating the 2/3 clave pattern.

A lovely time. If all drum circles were like Don’s I would actually show up to more of them.

Back up to the room to drop off my brick of a drum I find Karen all snuggled in the bed with her Kindle and chocolate. Nice.

Friday, 11pm

All the way back across the first floor I am only a few minutes late for the Pombagira. The Pomba has always been a strange beast for me. It’s a super-serious ritual (It’s full title is the “Pombagira Devotional”) BUT it takes place at the maximum party hour on the first day of Pcon, when people are totally wired. It’s an extremely safe place, bright lights, roaming guards, harsh rebukes for ANY photography or displays of affection, BUT it’s all in praise of the Sacred Harlot of Rio De Janiero. Like I said, strange beast.

No photos of the Pombagira. No! Not for you.
The folks who put on the Pomba have made some adjustments that were well received. The singers have improved, the drummers are more numerous and better rehearsed (and playing more types of instruments) the lights were down some, and the whole thing seemed tighter and more focused.

Amazingly I saw very few people I know there. But this worked out quite nicely. I was free to just lose myself in the dance. In the breaks I gulped water and met some nice people. I even got chided for taking a picture of two of them, even though they asked me to do it and no one was in the background. The strolling guards were kinda busy anyway: Belfry was back, and she was definitely out of control. I kept my distance. On my side of the dance floor I connected with friends of friends and did an improvised tango with a handsome blonde devil. Fun times.

At the end I was surprised to find that it was the end and that I had stayed until the end. Thank you Umbanda House! And thank you, dear, dark Pomba Gira. I think I understand you much better now.

And that was the end of one long, epic day of magick. Holy Moley. The nice elevator lady had it right: “Dude. It’s only FRIDAY!”

On to Part 4!

Angus McMahan

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