Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Pantheacon 2016: Thursday/Friday

One of the rare occurrences of 21st Century living: Nothing to do. We arrived on Thursday afternoon and the Con doesn’t start until noon on Friday, soooo…..

Life had been pretty frantic before that, however: I had packed for Pantheacon a week ahead of time, clearing space for a predictable push on Wednesday....

My videographer had only had 8 months to finish the film of my Epic Birthday Party, so of course it all came down to the wire if I was going to sell it at the Convention.

On Wednesday morning at 7:00am I was waiting at the bottom of Mark’s driveway, motor running. He finishes burning the first DVD and then rushes it down to me in the car.

I race it across town to DejuVu video services to have it duplicated. And then I race off to work, and arrive only 10 minutes late.

Yes, I trust my video guy so completely that I would spend hundreds of dollars to copy a DVD that I never got a chance to view ahead of time.

(And yes, it came out very well.)

(And you can have one of your VERY OWN)

I lost 17 pounds between December 1st
and Pantheacon. Also, lots of WiiFit.
Once I am off work I spend the rest of the evening and all the next day making 200 covers, back covers and inserts for the copies. Went through a whole ink cartridge and a ream of paper, and my hands hurt from working my $10.00 paper cutter well past its comfort zone.

Karen got off work on Thursday afternoon and we threw 15 bags of schtuff into Hymie the Hybrid along with the crate of DVDs.

And Thursday night at Pantheacon was kick back, as always.

In socks and sandals we had a quiet dinner at the M8trix casino - well, as quiet as a sports bar ever gets, anyway. 

And then Jason and I had to put on our Pretty Hair Twins wigs and get to work: Hanging lights at the Green Fairy party suite. 

Staging Area for the luggage experience.
Crate of DVDs lower right.
This year we brought Ari, Jesamyn and Sabrina with us, and they got treated to a whole different side of the freewheelin’ absinthe bacchanal that we have come to know and love.

The Irony about the happiest party of the year is that it is put on by a fairly grim group of earnest volunteers who take every detail of the party extremely seriously.

The evening ended down in room 733 with a late night counseling session as the Priestesses grilled the Priests about non-profits, public rituals and coed circles. Plus, Homemade cordials.

So I was a little post-pickled on Friday morning when the Admiral and I had a typical breakfast at Cafe Ho-Hum. I had the buffet and she ordered the oatmeal. Translated from the Ho-Hum this means that I chewed on granite biscuits and greywater gravy, dry scrambled eggs, shriveled potatoes and pineapple slices that were a foot wide - while she sat and waited for her oatmeal.
Most of the luggage knot, minus the food and drink.
15 bags = equals one groaning luggage cart.

The people next to us, who arrived after us, ordered the same dish as her - and received it. Meanwhile our waitress was busy hanging out and talking with several other booths. 
As I finished up my the last of my meal - a taste-free blueberry muffin (hold the blueberries, apparently), her oatmeal finally arrives. 

But hey, oatmeal is an insanely complicated dish, so I let this one slide. I mean, come on! the chef had to 
  1. get a bowl (!), 
  2. set it on a dish (no way) and then - get this - 
  3. pour the oatmeal from the pot INTO THE BOWL. No, really, I saw a show once. Insane. 
This. This is why we come on Thursday night:
The most glorious sight at Pantheacon.
Luckily we had stuff to do while the entire cookstaff rallied together in order to somehow pull off this delicate, Herleculean feat of culinary cunning:

We had to peruse the program and figure out what we wanted to do. And no, we hadn’t done that little bit of homework before we set out to attend this mighty convention.

See, Pantheacon is all about energy. We are surrounded by 2,500 energy workers, and we each time slot we have 13 choices of seminars, concerts and rituals that are all about the movement and application of energy. 
Mapping out one’s trajectory ahead of time is silly in such a chaotic, rip-currenty environment. Better to just surf on the Zap and pick out ones trajectory as one goes. 
The empty foyer outside of the Rock Star rooms on Thursday.

(My pendulum swings here, yes, but its more of a bellydance undulation than a smooth, round arc.)

And our choice is the simplest of all: 1. The Con opens with an Opening Ritual, and its the only thing on the program.

So after a leisurely morning of reading (her) and napping (me {hey, I was out till 1am}) we troop on up to the tables outside of the upstairs rockstar rooms to wait.

New for our room this year was a humidifier.
Not new was the kickass playlist and fans from
previous Feri Tent Revivals.
This is one of my favorite things to do at Pantheacon. Because every time you pause anywhere you are like a grizzly bear at the top of a small waterfall, and you just haul in whatever interesting trout that happens by.

So in short order we had a whole big table full of fun folks, and we were having a blast.

So much so that when it came time to load everyone into the ballroom for the Opening Ritual, and our table saw 400 people troop on through, we decided that they could handle it by themselves, and we just continued to hangout and gab and gossip and pull tarot cards and laugh ourselves silly.

And figure what all of us were going to do next!

And that's what our humidifier did all weekend.
It brought a little bit of foggy, moist Santa Cruz
to the barren confines of Silicon Valley.
($5.00 at a garage sale!!!)
At 1:30pm Karen attended LaSara Firefox’s “Fivefold Goddess” workshop, which she then talked about for the rest of the day.

I chose “The Many Faces of the Celts” which was described as a ‘roundtable discussion’. After a brief intro and blessing from a priestess named Branwen she opened up the proceedings by asking the room to introduce themselves, say a few words, and help themselves to the generous smorgasboard. 

30 minutes later - 1/3 of the workshop - and we are still checking in. But we are not bored! This turned out to be a fun group of hams, full of story, song, cheese and blarney. 

Branwen eventually calms us down and we do engage in a bit of dialogue and interaction, but really this workshop was more ‘meet and greet’ than ‘polished seminar’. 

Jason, doing what he does best.
One topic that popped up was ‘name 3 things that you do regularly’ that are  characteristically Celtic. This got my brain doing all sorts of bellydance undulations - so expect a separate post about that soon. (bug me if I don’t get around to it soon, K?)

At 3pm I had a half-hour between events, but instead of heading up to my room, I weirdly wandered out to the lobby, where I met Ankhira, who was lugging in some serious luggage and boxes. 

“Ah, good, there you are” she greets me. “Watch this while I get the rest.” 

So I stand there, marveling at how smoothly powerful some witches are, and when she brings in the rest of the gear we troop on up to the Hexenfest Hospitality Suite to drop it off. 

Me and Annika at the Patheos writers dinner. (Not
pictured 140 decibels. Also not pictured: My dinner.)
She did thank me heartily for Summoning and using me like a pack mule, so that was nice.

And then it was time to troop on over to Jason Mankeys seminar on Athames. As the elevator door opens I see Jason stagger by with four bags. Ah, I see; this is my theme for this interval. 

Pack mules is us! We walk over to the rockstar rooms and Jason, as always, lives up to the hype, teaching this grizzled old pagan all sorts of new things about the tool I’ve been using for two decades now.

5pm had Karen trooping up to the Hospitality Suites to catch an illuminating talk in NeuroDivergence while I got to attend a dinner for all of the Patheos Pagan writers.

The scene for this was across the street from the hotel, at the always cheesy M8trix Casino (pronounced “Card-Room”). The Sports bar there has plenty of seating, a huge menu and fair prices. Sorry, Cafe Ho-hum!
I've seen worse hotel carpets

And what could possibly be louder than a Sports Bar with 100 ginormous TV screens all blaring at once? Why 20 writers, of course.

My fellow word-jockeys made the ‘checking in Celts’ from that morning look like mute, inanimate objects. 

So much epic blahBLAHblah! And the din only slightly ebbed when everyone else’s food arrived.

I say everyone else’s……because me, who missed lunch somewhere along the line…….mistakenly ordered the most delicately byzantine thing on the menu…….and so I surrepticiously stole french fries from everyone else’s plates while I waited, non-patiently, for my Herleculean feat of culinary cunning to appear.

I mean, when a chef sees “Chicken Quesadilla” appear on the order slip, they have to be quaking in their shoes, right?

Consider what those cooks were up against:
  1. Get a tortilla. (I know. Sit down if you need to. It only gets wilder.)
  2. Add cheese to the tortilla. (There. I said it. Straight up.)
  3. Add chicken. (take a rest while you read this part, if you need to.)
  4. Fold the tortilla over the cheese and the chicken (no typos! Thats actually what you do.)
  5. Heat (!!!) and slice it. (Your mind is in pieces all over the room, isn’t it?)

Admiral Karen, Mykey and Azalyne. Above them,
hovering protectively and unobtrusively is the
fabulous lighting and tulle work from Ari, Sabrina,
Jesamyn and the Pretty Hair Twins.
An hour into the Writers Dinner Admiral Karen arrives (after attending her seminar) and orders a burger and fries. And our two orders arrive at the same time.

THATS how daunting it is for a professional cook to make a chicken quesadilla. I hope they got a smoke break (or a raise) after pulling that one off. 

And we still have time to make it to a 7pm event!

Except, nothing really summoned us and said “Carry my luggage”. So we followed the theme of the day (the energy flow of the Con), and hit the hospitality suites on the 2nd, 9th and 10th floors.

And I am new at this part of Pantheacon, and my notes are fuzzy after ingesting the mind-bending complexity of a chicken quesadilla, but it seems like we hit 10 different rooms - and all of them were druids.

Nothing against them, they love to eat and drink and talk just like me, but lords and ladies there sure are a LOT of them…

No, this wasn't taken at the Green Fairy Party.
Other friends of ours used their luggage cart
space in other ways.
At 8pm we were at the Green Fairy party, where a Transformation had transpired. Thursday nights Grim Parade had been stirred into the pallet of booze that had just arrived and voila! The fun had begun.

After admiring the Pretty Hair Twins (+3) decoration work from the night before, I noticed a small little mushroom of a pagan cowering in the corner.

Her name was Chanterelle. She was here alone, her first time, and was a beginner to the Craft of the Wise. I gave her some tips and tricks and ‘who-to-go-to’s’ and advised her to go easy on the absinthe here on night #1. Chantrelle was very thankful and I now had a ‘smile buddy’ for the rest of the convention. 

And when I say that I am Dedicated to Service, I don’t mean just to the Pantheon of Goddesses and Gods that I revere. My path takes the long way Home, twisting and turning through the dark forests and hidden corners, where the small, shy mushrooms grow and bravely stretch towards the light. 

Welcome to the Old Ways, Chanterelle. I’ve been you. And because of that, I am honored to being a helping hand to you now.

Emerging chanterelle mushroom. Community Seed
Earth Energy Walk, Jan. 2016. Photo by Chris Illes.
By 9pm Admiral Karen and I were pretty beat, but we had an promise to keep at 11pm. 

So we wondered down to the fireplace and sushi bar, and sure enough we found scintillating folk to hang out with. 

Still, it had been a day full of Sound and Fury, so when we finally trooped into Jenya’s “Deep Well - Great Heart” workshop, we were calling it “Deep, Great, Whale Heart”.

And, Thank you Gods, it turned out to be PRECISELY the thing that was missing and needed for the weekend. 

There were only 20 people in attendance, but they were 20 who really wanted to be there, and had come to this place and time to learn and grow and give.
The Times they are a-changin'. I was delighted to
see this, and for the record, the experience
is remarkably unremarkable.

And we left that ballroom in the small hours of the morning with a sense of place, and of Purpose.

Pantheacon 2016 had officially begun, and further trials and tests would await us. But we would face them with our greatest ally: ourselves.

Let the (Yawn) adventures (yaaaawwwnnnn……) begin!

TOMORROW, preferably.

Angus McMahan


  1. It was wonderful to have Karen in the room for The Fivefold Goddess. Please thank her for me for attending? I look forward to seeing you guys sometime before next PantheaCon.

    1. Wiil do - your seminar was definitely one of her highlights.