Pantheacon Report: 2018 Edition

Every year all kinds of people come to San Jose for the 3 day Pagan conference, Pantheacon; which I have attended for 6 years now. And true to my nature, I write about my various experiences over the President's Day weekend. The following is a summation of my thoughts and shenangians as they occurred to me, with every day's divination drawn from Aleister Crowley's Thoth deck. Day 1: The Devil

Magickal Safety 101

Every person who practices magick, especially in a group, should take a class like this. Covering both self care and the well-being of others, Magickal Safety was scheduled at the very beginning of the weekend, organized and presented by Hannah Storyteller and John Medellin. Even us seasoned practitioners can learn new things.  For example this class, while certainly for newbies, covered a wide range of techniques someone at some point might have overlooked. I learned how to ground another person...which I never realized was a new experience for me. I have helped groups ground, and I certainly am able to do it quite quickly. But helping one individual was something different, with several approaches including the laying on of hands, guided breathing and even simply talking with the person (what is your name? where do you live?). Sometimes we get so caught up in the moment of ritual, especially an entire weekend full of it, it can become more difficult to 'turn off' or even calm down long enough for repose and rest. 

Fucking Mandrake

My experience with baneful and witching herbs was just beginning when I became pregnant and set aside those growing things for the safety of my new daughter. I had never seen nor held the flowers or leaves of the Mandrake, in particular. My experience with Mandrake has only included flying ointments, purchased in the past by Sarah Anne Lawless, never as an isolated simple. I have a mandrake root given by another witch, and seeds stored away for planting one day, but had not considered it’s uses for any other purpose than to aid in magickal flight as a traditional plant ally. So when I saw a workshop at PCon on the Magick of the Mandrake being presented by Christopher Penczak, I got curious.

When we arrived each person received a small cup of water in which a few drops of a mandrake flower essence were placed; some folks got 3 and others received 5 drops. After being seated and listening to a short background of the plant, including Mr. Penczak’s own experiences, we invoked the plant’s spirit and quickly drank our potion. We then were taken on a guided meditation to meet the Mandrake and be properly introduced. Like most of these kinds of things, I was two steps ahead: when everyone was still back at the meadow, I was at the hedgerow on edge of a dark woods. When the Mandrake DID appear, He came straight up out of the ground and walked over to me, on woodsy root legs with a crown of pretty flowers on His head. It seemed a curious creature walking upright, kind of like a clown wearing big shoes...it was a bit goofy looking. Then He sat down, as if on an invisible chair. I then heard in my mind the Mandrake Man speak to me beckoning me to come have a seat. He wrapped His root arms around me, hugging and caressing. Then He spun me around, to face His featureless face and wrapped my legs around Him. He then grew a long penis, which I sat upon and began to rock with, slowly back and forth.

I felt His root penis grow inside me, reaching out the roots to spread throughout inside my womb, hips, stomach, up through my breasts and arms. It was black, feathery and delicate, these roots. When it finally enveloped my heart Mr. Penczak told us about a green light shining from our hearts… and that is when my light began to ‘infect’ the Mandrake Man’s roots; it spread throughout turning the black roots into green. This exchange was pleasant, not at all intense but enough to where I was concerned an orgasm was sure to follow… and right here, in the Con, surrounded by all these strangers. I expressed this concern to the Mandrake Man and He gently respected my wishes, withdrawing Himself from my body. When we were again standing, face to face, I asked if there was anything He wished to tell me. I acknowledged the connection we had made together, and thanked Him for initiating such a strange and profound congress… but had the feeling there was something more to this experience.

It was at this point Mr. Penczak reminded us of the mythological origins of the Mandrake; how at the gallows the sperm of a dead man ejaculated from his penis onto the ground, which the Mandrake plant first appeared. This was when the Mandrake Man suggested to help me with something I had been considering: dark moon devotionals at a hangman’s tree less than a few miles from my home. The Mandrake Man said if I made a flower essence to ingest, He would protect me from any and all spirits of that place which might wish harm or follow me home. I was not expecting this, a protective quality of the Mandrake; I always understood it to be a witch’s herb for trance work or poisoning. But this plant is so much more...and I very much look forward to future lessons it wishes to teach me as I grow from seed.

Good-Bye Green Fairy

This was the final year of the Green Fairy Party. Whilst I am not a drinker, I have enjoyed having one small drink with good friends who have hosted this Bohemian and wyrd service at Pantheacon since 2008. As a backer of the fundraising I received a beautiful commemorative goblet and keepsake ribbon...when I went to collect I received so much more. From the depths of the bar, the man in the op hat poured for me a tiny, wee little glass of a special brew not given to just anyone. A concoction infused with damiana, wormwood, rose water and all manner of psychotropic herbs I carefully sipped this absinthe, which evaporated on my tongue leaving a sweet breathe of spiritual inspiration. I walked on clouds the rest of the night.

Pop-up Gnostic Mass

It was refreshing to see a heavy Thelemic presence this year. The free-range Thelemites of Healiopolis and the OTO chapter of 418 Lodge co-sponsored a true Gnostic Mass presentation at the 11pm hour. As a non-member, but rogue Thelemite, I find the Mass to be a reaffirming drama of the cosmology in which I have submerged my spirituality. The altar was brilliantly executed: being a printed backdrop with electric lights for candles (per Doubletree regulations) and the tomb being a camping style shower/toilet stall.

I could tell who only came to be lookie-loos and see the nude Priestess, when the time came for the communion they actually left. It is a GOOD thing for these people to have witnessed, even if they did not participate...because these McWiccan folks need to know where their OWN rituals came from. Gardner went through the first initiation rites of Thelema before creating his own tradition of a religion-based witchcraft. It is my fervent prayer that more and more Thelemites keep attending , presenting, and educating at Pantheacon in the coming years.

Day 2: Prince of Wands

Deity Possession

Over the past 2 years I have noticed a shift at PCon: most of the really juicy events are starting to only happen in the hospitality suites. The general activist trainings and magickal 101 things are taking up the slots in the packed schedule, with scatterings of good bits at weird times (and often canceled). One of the presentations this year was a topic that very few are giving workshops on, but very much is needed in the community: healthy Deity Possession. Facilitated by Sam Webster, the topic is one with loads of source material, both ancient and modern, which lays out the full process, levels of possessor work and the self care required to make it fully worth doing. Webster's source material included works such as Iamblichus' De Mysteriis and Divine Horsemen: Living Gods of Haiti by Maya Deren.

Essentially there are 2 kinds of people involved in true possession: the Controller (who ‘draws down’ the Deity) and the Channeller (who ‘catches’ the Deity). When this occurs there are varying levels of possession which is a bit like a spectrum, with one end being the faintest ‘inspiration’ (a ‘whispered’ motivation to do something guided by Deity influence), with ‘mantling’ somewhere in the middle (carry Deity but being fully conscience and in control of one’s own body to perform services such as oracle work), and finally the most extreme being full possession. Fully engaged possession is actually much rarer in the pagan community, with the exception of several of the African diaspora traditions such as Vodou and Ifa. When this occurs the Channeller isn’t even the backseat driver… they are in the trunk; people can perform amazing feats of strength, undergo extreme bodily harm, etc. The worst case scenario of this kind, if not done correctly, can result in the Channellor being completely merged with Deity; in other words the carrier is no longer present. Most modern pagans really don’t go beyond the middle layer of this spectrum, and even then aren’t doing it according to ancient traditions: the Channeller is secluded in preparation the days before an event, only coming out to give service as a vehicle of Deity, and then go back into seclusion AFTER for regaining control of the body and spirit. This is hard to do at events like Pantheacon, where the night before an event oracles can be seen partying in suites and the next day offering themselves up as priests of Deity in an unpurified body. Most of this is really just ego feeding, venerated as Deity or as being someone strong enough to hold and control Deity.

The Rite of Mars

The political scene invaded PCon, as it has progressively been doing over the past few years. While there is panels, workshops and other empowering activities there really wasn’t much I was particularly interested in, except the very intense ritual coordinated by the ritualists of the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn. I have been lucky enough to be studying with their founder, but to also be a participant of several planetary workings; Helios/Sun, Selene/Moon, and now Aries/Mars. It was ‘safe’ in that there wasn’t a particular political agenda given as their motivation, except to invoke the retinue of Martial Spirits and activate a magickal ‘war machine’...a huge iynx wheel that, when spun, sent these spirits out into the world to right wrongs, empower the just and defend the weak. I found it especially refreshing they asked for blessings on the civil servants; a group of workers who are often looked down upon by many Pagan-activist groups who see us (because I am now one of them) as being part of the PROBLEM and not the SOLUTION. I met many of them over the weekend, those of us quietly working within the machine of corrupted government to make a difference; it’s easy to be angry in the streets demanding change, it’s harder to work within the parameters of the system. It was part of my personal prayer to include an unbiased vision for everyone: to see the truth of what is happening in our world, so we can set aside personal opinions and DO what is right in ally-ship.

I also found out my natal chart included Mars in Aries, which explains my motivation to speak up when I see wrongs, especially in our niche community, and being compelled to protect those who are weak. There was an underlying theme of planetary magicks throughout the entire weekend: lectures on Theurgy, the Lunar Mansions of Astrology, all of which are causing me to look more closely at where the other celestial spheres play out in my chart. This only makes sense as I have been doing daily planetary workings for the past 2 years, as part of my priest training.

Day 3: 9 of Swords

Other Hybrid Moments

Between a rudimentary lecture about Crossroads and Graveyards that I left early, drinks with sushi, then initiating as a Chicken Qabbalist, there was a lot to process. Since things were again canceled, I spent the day shopping and eventually went back to my room early. I received a ton of compliments on my fishnet tights… as if these people had never seen them before.

Day 4: Ace of Swords

Fear

While there might have been pertinent information for others in the lecture by Tommie Starchild, I personally didn’t really get much out of it. After performing such workings as Chod and being an initiate of Hekate, I have plenty of experience with Fear. Mr. Starchild was very informative and spoke from a Western perspective, explaining in terms Pagans could understand; mindful presence, viewing fearful thoughts and emotions as a non-participatory spectator...all I kept thinking is “Man, these people really need Bodhicitta and Buddhism”. And it’s true! This is why their magick never works, why their communications with Deity is sometimes only internal psycho-babble. They are not so sure about what they are doing nor do they have a full comprehension of themselves; they are not coming to the Work from a place of compassion, loving kindness, equanimity and joy in the joy of others… what we call the Four Immeasurables. In my tradition these are pretty much the ONLY place from which my magick is performed; why I am able to do hex work without getting splattered with karmic shrapnel. I hope to see more empowering lectures given in the future, Mr. Starchild perhaps do a weekend intensive on these skills as most of these magick workers tend to be damaged or dragging around their toxicity.

In Conclusion…

Unless I am presenting next year (I DO have a proposal I think many would benefit from),  this may have been my last Pantheacon for a few years. Less and less is there anything I am interested in learning about, or that will feed my soul and renew my practice. I think the final straw was canceling of the Red Tent; the last vestige of feminine empowerment this community truly had at PCon. With threats of protest, the suite was shut down to keep participants safe; even though the EXACT same scheduling occurred quietly last year in the Red Tent for men, trans-women, women without wombs and all manner of exclusive programming to empower all, not just those of us who bleed. It saddens me there is no longer a welcoming space for women’s mysteries to be safely explored at this weekend-long event, especially in the highly patriarchal and oppressive climate of our world. We are forced to hide in shame of our bodies, our nature, our sisterhood...not something I would ever have thought to come out of the Pagan community.

More and more Pantheacon is for who I call ‘tourists’: attendees there to cosplay, hook-up for sex or feed off the magickal ammunition of others. I don’t need magick to give my life meaning… it is a byproduct of living my True Will. Magick just happens, naturally and unforced.  It does not gift us with ethics or morals, we come to magick with those already; magickal work only intensifies what is already inherent.

The PantheaCon Report: 2017 edition

Gather round stardust children for a tale of journeys with Egyptian Gods, magickal plants, Pokemon battles and a prophecy of Pie. Annually, over the course of 4 days hundreds of practicing Pagans, Occultists, Witches and ‘tourists’ descend upon the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose to share, present and sell at Pantheacon. There is a story within each person’s experience, and this was mine. Day One, Jupiter: The sun was shining, hundreds of crows surrounded my crappy motel, cawing and squawking to the beat of my heart. The evening was lulled by their chattering: breakfast for dinner, “The Color of Money” on television and polishing my ass-kicking boots. Nervous energies supplanted and the ground of being invoked...not all have enemies, but it’s better to be prepared when arriving at a place full of other magick workers. Expansive in Her wings, Mother Hekate placed the Cowl about my shoulders, making me invisible to some but accessible to others. I walked, I wandered.

Day Two, Venus: Rain and wind molested festival goers, making an otherwise difficult unpacking moreso. I was set to install and erect the Hekate altar, but was fresh out of graveyard dirt...a very specific part of my devotional shrine. Since the boys from The Vodou Store were not vending this year, I searched all through the commerce areas but only managed to find black salt as a substitute. With that on one side, and rain water the other, a large black cauldron sat before Her with a bottle of mead for pouring libations. As I set Her in place, both Her torches managed to come off the statue…I super glued them back on and did not realize the personal significance until the very end of the conference, when I was packing Her back up.

First up for me was an intriguing lecture, "Deconstructing Crowley: Don’t Fear the Beast" by James Stone. Upon walking into the room, a dark ambiance captured the tone of  chants, the focus being on a Thelemic altar with a lotus-seated man wearing the head of a goat... as Baphomet. I was giddy and about to get ‘fangirl’ when the music changed to “Mr. Crowley” by Ozzy Osborne and a woman supplied a black ‘curtain’ over the transforming Deity...and a devil puppet appeared to be singing the lyrics. The emotions completely shifted in the room, immediately becoming much more light-hearted and one of entertainment, versus the heaviness I first encountered. The rest of the lecture was of the same entertaining vibe, presenting the many interesting trials and facts of The Beast...much I already knew due to my reading “Perdurabo” by Richard Kaczynski. I was very much PLEASED to see a good, accurate and thoughtful presentation given to break up the otherwise generic and often misunderstood stories surrounding this groundbreaking innovator of magick; most McWiccans run the other way for fear of pollination. I was hoping to see some of these newbs in the class, but unfortunately it was the older crowd who were probably more fans of the subject and lecturer than folks actually NEEDING to get educated. Still, a worthwhile effort on the part of Mr. Stone. Side Note: I got to speak with him VERY briefly on the very LAST night of PCon and wished to have more time together...so will engage through his Facebook page Deconstructing Crowley .

The next was really more of a discussion than presentation, “Witchcraft Herbs and Plants” with the renowned author and editor from Llewelyn Worldwide, Judika Iles. Now, I DO have one book from her that was gifted to me, an Encyclopedia of Magical Beasts. I never really bought her “5000 Spells” or other reference books for a few reasons, but mainly because I lack the shelving space. I have become a bit of a witchcraft book snob, staying away from mainstream publishers and detouring around reference books by single authors because I always figured, WHO is gonna know ALL this information except to copy it DOWN? Illes is a highly knowledgeable, intelligently spoken and one of the more well-read witches whom I’ve had the pleasure of changing my opinion of in recent years. Her discussion of witchcraft plants was indeed slimmed down to the scheduled time slot, as we easily could have all shared for HOURS our stories, experiences and expertise on various botanicals useful in magick. Suffice it to say, she really emphasized the importance of growing/developing a relationship with any herbs we use, even for people who have a blackthumb. Some favourites mentioned were mugwort, wormwood, and datura...all dangerous if misused and all highly effective to varying degrees for the Arts. She gave props and mention to two well-known and skilled cultivators, Marcus R. McCoy  and Harold A. Roth ...two I admire in the botanical world.

Later that evening, the worlds of activism and Pokemon collided in the Discordian ritual, “Fifty Shades of Greyface Go!” Occultists gathered outside the doors holding signs in protest, “Down with the Trainers” and “Free the Pokemon”...which I found personally hilarious; referencing a conversation I had with my own kid regarding these creatures: they are essentially slaves to the trainers, who make them fight and hurt Pokemon for their own glory. In the ritual, attendees were given soft Pokeballs and pens to draw sigils or symbols or simply to replicate the cartoon balls. These were then used as projectile weapons at actors in Pagan scenarios with inappropriate behaviors. Some examples included “Surprise Animal Sacrifice”, “Vegetarians, it’s okay to eat meat this time”, “Don’t worry about your allergies, it’s Magick!”. Laughter, smiling faces and flying balls made for good fun with purpose.

Day Three: Saturn Bright and early, a small hidden room with a large, round table was hard to find. “Advancing Devotional Practice” was just that, a round table. I was looking forward to what I thought was a presentation or ritual regarding devotional-centered paganism, but mostly it was author and teacher Silence Maestas facilitating discussion amongst attendees. It was interesting to hear from so many, and to be counted among the few who actually have a fully engaged altar. Whilst both are valid in the eyes of the Gods, there was a split in how people felt about the opposite. One daily devotional practitioner mentioned how others have expressed disappointment in her for not “getting past altar work”, that somehow this was only a beginner’s level of working with Deity. For some people simply doing their jobs, cleaning their homes or acknowledging Deity all day long were sufficient enough… but then they mentioned their dusty altar tools and unkept waters. It is a personal thing, sacred space. For those of us who fully engage with Deity, it is near impossible to be in Union with Them and still be functional. We start with prayer at our altars, but we carry Them with us in the secret shrines of our hearts. That is the effect from devotional work... not the cause.

The HIGHLIGHT of the weekend, and I didn’t even know it, was “Enochian Magick as a Consciousness-Altering Ceremonial Drug” by none other than Lon Milo DuQuette. Now, I have absolutely NO experience whatsoever with anything remotely angelic, with the exception of the LBRP . I don’t fuck around with angels because I don’t care for their Deity. However, as my late work has me ascending out of the Underworld and into the Heavens, I realize there are critters above and below for which I must acknowledge. Who better to introduce their magickal language than Mr. DuQuette, a magician I respect very highly and a kindred spirit in humour. But please don’t ask WTF we did, because I couldn't even tell you (obviously plan to buy the book).

 

All I CAN tell you is what we DID: First we attuned to the Angels and were instructed to pay special attention to whatever image we saw, then to draw that very thing as a symbol, one which we could focus on later. Then with paper laman and Solomonic ring, we activated the exterior circumference of DuQuette’s beautiful holy table, painted and inscribed with Enochian invocations and squares, whilst he activated the interior. The words were strange on my tongue, but I fervently tried to keep up. Our voices going faster and faster to keep up with the master. Until we were finally finished and stopped...sitting in meditation and observing whatever imagery came to us. It wasn’t until after this ritual was finished did I even understand it’s effects...I first saw wings (obviously I was projecting the imagery of angels). But then I saw a snake...then a rod. I knew already there was a Caduceus appearing in my mind’s eye; this was my symbol. Then the second image it was a bowl of water. When I checked with others throughout the evening who had also been ‘zapped’ by Mr. DuQuette, I saw a pattern emerge: the first image always something phallic like a rod (a staff, a wand, a tree), and the next image was something solid combined with something fluid (a crocodile on water, a boat, a chalice). This REALLY blew my mind and I am STILL processing this. DuQuette will always make me turn fangirl in his presence, but now it’s even worse.

 

Once I put my Self back together, I participated and assisted the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn’s world premiere presentation of “Aum Duat: The Night Journey of Ra”. It was a multimedia event including sacred costuming, theatrical props, musical processions and a dramatic reading from ancient texts, describing where the Sun God Ra goes when He dies each night. Recognition and honoring the path of the Undead prepares our Ba/Ka for the one we all walk someday, through the Underworld.

Day Four: The Sun ‘Twas an early day, with heavy academic lectures through most of the morning and into the afternoon; at least, this was the plan. “Akhenaten and Moses: Origin and Consequences of Monotheism” fascinated me...I had some inkling of this before this most quality presentation by Jehon Grist . I had to cut it short for the other fabulous lecture, Practical Neoplatonic Theurgy; there is a book by presenter Bruce MacLennan which explores the science of this methodology through the philospher Hypatia and her contemporaries. I put in service to the Red Tent  where serpents slept and yonis ruled. At dinner I ate beef stew, medicated with several hash joints and later went to “Hekate at the Crossroads: A Meeting of Mind & Movement” with veiled Priestess Tempest and the Nathaniel Johnstone Band. I watched as She danced to solitary violin, heard soft calling from a vocalist, and with each layer She removed another aspect of Hekate was revealed. Hekate Chthonia, Trivia, Brimo...She lead everyone in a beautiful spiral dance. I saw what She was doing, dancing them into Her spiral, Her Strophalus , the Labyrinth of Her mystery. I sat next to my sister-Priest...we held that space for their work to be protected. They were linking Her energy, allowing everyone who wished a connection to Her. I already have a connection so didn’t feel the call to participate in THAT capacity. The music was ethereal and I found myself simply swaying and enjoying the company of fellow Hekateans. It was joyful and inspiring. Sitting in meditation I awaited a message to come through to me and the clearest image was a pie...a large pie I could share with everyone else. When the dancing Priestess sat down to some oracle work, a message of strength and unifying for common goals came through. This was confirmation of Her message from my personal practice, which is always exciting. I come from a place of agency with compassion, liberation and the freedom of finding common ground where I can. Everyone likes pie...if not, then let them eat cake. Either way, we can come together at the table.

Day Five: The Moon This year everyone played nice. There were solid sacred spaces and gentleness as a storm raged outside the Doubletree Hotel. Freeways were closed that weekend for flooding, people were evacuated, and power was lost in some neighborhoods of San Jose. Yet everyone took care of each other, not because we HAVE to but we WANT to. Walking around were folks volunteering as “Emergency Magical Help” first responders: any suite or attendee bearing a red, cup like symbol can be be asked for assistance in grounding, cleansing, de-possession, etc. This has been a much needed service as some people get swept up in the carnival aspect of the Conference, forgetting that we do very heavy work there too. For some it is difficult to reconnect with the ‘reality’ of the really, real world.

It’s hard to walk any magickal path over a significant amount of time and NOT notice the hurting hardships of others. The trick is not to let it overwhelm you. It was my role to offer a place of reprieve all weekend at the Hekate altar. Way up, in the corner of the 10th floor amongst Kemetic Gods with Her friend the Herm, Hekate received mead and barley and salts and rainwater...enjoyed the people who came in and sat with Her. Some cried, some smiled, some just looked at the statue and wondered who made it. When I dismantled Her altar on Monday,again Her torches came off; I was able to super glue one back on all the way but the other will not stay. I am not sad as I slowly step into Her priesthood, as She hands me a torch. Perhaps next year I shall present, too.

PantheaCon Report ~ 2016 Edition

A lot can be said by an attendee's first and last presentations during the long weekend of PantheaCon; mine were “Willful Bane: the History, Techniques and Ethics of Hexing” and “Rite of Needful Unbinding”. Although the schedule was rather bland, the few exceptional rituals and lectures I attended  really rejuvenated some witchy feelz. I wrote haikus to pass the time, but some were post-Con also. Orange sunburst, leaf

A funk has arisen here.

A room of Pagans.

Appalachian

Wit and humour empower.

Magick of true grit.

Urine in bottle,

Spit over the left shoulder,

Eating of power.

 

Horse-faced one sat close,

You are forever the fucked.

Exorcism, lost.

Crumbling castles,

False One of the Happy Camp,

Surround and keep you.

Brown bird in her nest,

Piety does not protect

Justice in the wind.

Cover your babies,

prepare for the coming storm.

Excrement flies far.

Enemy thine mine,

Look to your mountain and weep,

Rabbit on the run.

Disco, Baba witch

The dark mask of a Mother.

And you shall have none.

Over-rated suites,

Danger is so near

And much cheap liquor.

Man who stands too close,

Violate and desecrate

Holy woman, FIGHT!

No one noticed this?

Masters of Destiny here

Ignore the victim.

Is it Boy or Girl?

Spirit does not care witch one.

Practice magick, now.

Give of your Self child

And know the universe Is.

We are all learning.

Selene, honour.

Chthonic Ones, forgotten.

Hekate, old key.

Absinthe and battle,

Discordian candy flies!

Warrior standing.

Running with scissors,

Mead with the Librarians,

Sweet Asian kisses.

Priestess binding me,

Chains made of my own doing.

Rattle shake, drum bass.

Domina, we cry!

Vulnerable space, bless-ed!

Foot in mouth, pale, raw.

The bullshit, no more!

Release what does not propel!

A blade deconstructs!

While the weather was sunny and warm outside the Doubletree, indoor climates ranged from freezing cold to stifling rainforest in many rooms; most wondered if we really WERE having hot flashes. Surges of power, others might say... and they were. Witch Giants were everywhere, filling the halls and rooms with their subtle energies. Real practitioners of magick came together in corners of the Con, discussed and invoked, banished and destroyed. Several times I was surrounded by a group of powerhouses in the Craft and felt slightly woozy...this concentration of power is overwhelming but also reassuring as I was among them, an equal finally. I also dropped some baggage for more capable hands, for annihilation. Leaving behind those things and people who no longer serve me, who are nothing but asuras... banishing bellicosity and distractions from my Work.

On a disappointing note, it was really too bad all these warriors and holy people did not notice the women being assaulted over the course of the weekend... several violated for simply being intoxicated, and not by just 'men'. Over and over I heard the words “consent”, “safe space”, “proper pronouns” being spoken by presenters, but their words were lost on many. These people are lucky I didn't see it myself...because I am not one to be polite or soft about others hurt and pain. And there was plenty to go around. The overtly sexual environment was sickening sweet: beautiful rituals such as the honeyed-Pomba Gira were replaced with artificial saccharine imitations that didn't come close to satisfying, except for those with vampiric appetites. It's scary to me that we “police ourselves”, I imagine to save public face; abusive leaders are kicked out of organizations without charges being filed, predators escorted out of festivals but not into police custody ...it happens in plain sight and so many choose to ignore. It is my eternal wish that we take off our blinders, use our true witch vision (if you have any at all) and finally learn some compassion, develop empathy and generate loving kindness with equanimity.

It was an added bit of bummer to NOT see the "PantyCon" schedule distributed throughout the hotel; I guess the party-poopers had that removed too. And yes, the community seriously lacks a sense of humour. Between the leather clothes, crystal pyramids, special snowflakes and over priced books there are those less pretentious ones who play Fool to the World. Those easily offended are missing out on the worship of Eris, inviting discord into one's practice is liberation with entertainment.

But honestly, we really are so very lucky to have access to highly qualified and experienced ritualists. I realize after attending some bad rituals, my spiritual path has been really blessed. Groups like the Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn and the Discordians were a breath of fresh air. The genius of sacred space was kept sentinel again in the Coru Cathubodua's Temple of the Morrigan, even though I did not need to visit. Every year I go and make offerings...but I also end up taking folks there who are broken or needing reprieve. As one of the only purely sacred spaces available in the Con, I am glad to see it offered for those who need to experience it.

It was also really awesome to meet and give a sniff to some oils from Rosarium Blends, Catamara is a witch who knows her stuff. Decanting from the mother bottles, the oils were oozing with herbal essences of magickal concentration...it was lovely. I, of course, had been eyeballing some of their Hekate oil online, so was glad to get the chance of smell before purchasing. Together with her partner, they are organizers for the Viridis Genii Symposium held in Oregon... I am already making plans to attend.

Pantheacon Report: 2015 Edition

With the podcast being such a great success, and personal things occupying most of my time lately, it has been rather difficult to keep up with regular blog writing. So to my regular readers, I apologize for making you wait so long for the next posting! But here it is, my annual PantheaCon Report. Every year I choose a different format in which to write it: rhyming prose, snarky gossip columns, etc. This time, in the fashion of non-creative writers everywhere, I give a “top five” of my experiences and moments at the Con. There is some snark, some love, but all is genuine and personal to how I observed.

#5 Hermes playing tricks.

Several times events were printed in the convention booklet, double checked in the Daily Oracle, AND on the billboard near registration... only to find upon arrival the thing was posted at a wrong time or was completely canceled. Do people ever proofread their shit these days? How can an organization NOT notice all weekend their misprints? Being in the shadow of Mercury's retrograde transit resonated well after it returned to the direct fashion of His orbit.

#4 Attending all lectures and none of the “woo-woo”.

This was not entirely planned, and maybe it is something which just happens when you get enough woo in home/community practice already, but I found it much more satisfying for my soul to not engage on such a deep, spiritual level with the other 3000 pagans converging on the Con. And to be quite honest, I am better for it! I was in bed at decent times, avoided the “Con crud” and didn't get anyone's psychic shrapnel all over me.

#3 Heavy Metal

I NEEDED the presentation from Jason Mankey on “Heavy Metal and the Occult”. Whilst I already knew most of what he was sharing, like the band “Coven” being the FIRST to record a black mass on vinyl, it was a much needed antidote to the fluffy, loving New Agey vibes the Con generally has. Not that I don't enjoy that TOO, but hearing some Mercyful Fate after sleepy harp sounds was a much needed boost to my Saturday afternoon. Bands like Coven, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, King Diamond, Iron Maiden, Venom... all were mentioned with a call from the audience with applaud, yells, and the occasional “yeah!”. It was really refreshing to be with other metal-heads in a Pagan environment.

One thing Mankey really should have included though: Dave Mustaine. In the early days of Megadeth, it was rather well known that Dave used magick and accompanying themes in several tracks from the first few albums: “Five Magicks”, “Bad Omen”, and one in particular, “The Conjuring” from the album Peace Sells But Who's Buying?, is actually a SPELL. In many interviews, even more current tellings by Mr. Mustaine himself, “The Conjuring” is spoken of in hushed tones due to the effects of this very potent magick on the listener. Now that Dave has converted to Christianity, and already received the career benefits from occultist experimentation of the early years, he refuses to play it in concert:

“Behold the flames rise, From the compass' cardinal points, Burn the sacred oil, And, with the ashes you'll anoint,

Arrange the symbols, Of the wizard, and, magician, Light the candles, Place the parchment paper in position, Between its leaves place, The lash from a black cat's eye, A straw of a broom, Fold, and, burn, and, centralize,

Don't summon the devil, Don't call the priests, If you need the strength, The conjuring,

I am the devil's advocate, A salesman, if you will, You know my name. [You know my name],

I met your father years ago, Gave him what he'd please, He called my name, you'll do the same,

I'm claiming what is mine by right, It's time to close the deal, You're bought and sold, bought and sold,

Come join me in my infernal depths, Mephisto's hall of fame I've got your soul, I've got your soul, The conjuring. Obey!!!”

And one more thing, on a personal note: Mr. Mankey if you are reading this, THANK YOU for not talking about Led Zeppelin. I bow to the masters, Jimmy Page and the Boys, but I got overkill as a kid (my Dad is a HUGE fan). Besides, I am more a Deep Purple kinda witch...

#2 Broken Priests

At first I thought it was a fashion statement, all the people walking around with canes and staffs. Then I looked closer and saw the limping, the wounded walking with walkers or with a slight shuffle. Physical manifestations of some battles, many with a tinge too much of madness in their eyes... the kind which comes with psychic wars fought within. Aging elders of many traditions hovered as future ghosts, whilst a changing of the guard is occurring. And who is the “new sexy”, the up-and-coming, or trending teachers? The hyperbole chamber of “Panelists” I just couldn't stomach to hear? The “Goddess of the Month Club” serving communion on behalf of the Virgin Mary to unsuspecting 'playgans'? The “cool kids” wearing sunglasses indoors? I cannot understand how anyone with magick in their veins cannot see or sense this? Perhaps they are too overwhelmed by what another broken priest described as “the witchflame/witchblood" and how it enflames and is drawn to each other. Maybe this is true for Pagans, but I find witches and other “shiny” folks rather repel me. Look at magnets, for example... what happens when you put the two same poles toward each other? They do not seek out the other but rather push against. That can really scramble up some folks if they aren't properly prepared, as we know spiritual work can effect physical matter. This is why it is important to have healthy bodies, healthy minds, healthy speech...and healthy relationship with spirit if we are to practice magick effectively. When one part comes out of balance, it effects the rest like fallen dominoes.

As a witch, magician, druid and overall magick worker... let's just say I can 'sense' things. There is a reason I am not quick to jump on the newest bandwagon. I am not the pique of perfect health either, being 38 with the innards of an 83 year old woman essentially does not say much about my physical well-being. However, I have seen the pagan community, and the wider world as a whole, in the midst of a spiritual battle. And my friends, it's not looking good. Yes, the pessimistic, party-pooper of PantheaCon title is proudly worn on my lapel. I cannot help it, having a Cassandra effect on my prophecies. There is an intense lack of awareness going on, a kind of narcissistic apathy in which these individuals bring others into their bubble of fluff (even dark fluff, with it's ooey gooey bloody kisses). Pats on the back for online statements, rivals in book sales and products competing with 'boring' genuine practice, edgey styles trumping hidden gems...these were the faces which walked the pathways of the Doubletree all weekend. And the whole thing kinda made me sick.

I did not attend panels filled with people considered to be well-meaning yet highly personal in their politics. Because, frankly... I don't care. I don't care if someone is a racist. I don't care if someone mish-mashes gods together or is even an atheistic-otherkin witch who dresses up as a furry. None of it matters at ALL. What does matter is how you live, not what you say. And those who 'walk the walk”, walked strong. When your nose is to the grind, you don't notice what others are doing.

#1 The Grown-Up Table

I hear, “I WANT to be one of the cool kids!”; to that I say, “Keep your cool kids, I want to sit at the grown-ups table”. What that means is this: there is something exciting, something fulfilling in being part of a public group or priesthood which everyone wants to join or participate in. I know something “new” to the community is exhilarating, especially when wrapped in leathers and the politically correct du'jour of the day. I guess there is a certain amount of power one can get from another person's fear of you, the popularity of your Gods, or being a Pagan that gets along with everyone. That being said, I am in it for the long haul not to be a rock star.

So, this year I hung out with the elders. I talked to people who have been at it for 30 years or more, seen all the trends and done all the things. I asked questions about their practice, how they stay involved without getting others' poo on them, and what it was like for their children to see it all. I shook hands with and smiled at people who KNEW they had done me wrong, had insulted my intelligence or otherwise wasted my time and energy. After completing a year's worth of very disciplined spiritual work, I was able to walk up to elders that otherwise would have made my knees shake, told them about my own process, and sometimes made them laugh. I can reminisce about times I fucked up, or times I succeeded, without getting theoretical.

A wide-eyed girl came up to me, asking how to become a witch and what the difference between a magician and witch were and who do I suggest she study with.... it was just exhausting. But then I remembered how I was that girl, but she had more guts than me in the asking. So I told her my story (briefly) and gave her some advice: talk to everyone she could, ask after them in the community and to actually DO the Work. She looked at me like “Gee, thanks lady” and walked off. Guess I wasn't sexy enough for her short-attention span, but the seed was planted. I have a confidence and maturity now which does not make me indifferent or apathetic, only more discerning with a high ethical standard seen as being 'conservative'. But yes, this is what being a grown up means! It means we hold our tongues, we recognize and call-out injustice or hypocrisy, we have boundaries and provide protection, but most importantly, we don't have TIME for the bullshit. I have offerings to make, spirits to invoke, children to bathe, the Dead to service and spiritual battles to fight for. Keep your cliques and social clubs... I am too occupied tasting the marrow of magick.

 

*Further Note (2/20/2015): I want to add, for the sake of clarification... I DO care very, very much about the oppression of other people, regardless of culture or skin color. The inherent racism and bigotry in our society these days is very much a sickness of spirit. I have been, and always will be, a supporter of those who stand up for the rights and liberties of others. However, I realize I am also NOT the person to do it either. When I say "I don't care about racism" I only mean this within the context of my spiritual practice...activism is not part of it. Until I am told HOW to be an ally by the very people being oppressed, I will stand sentry for those needing support, shelter and spiritual healing.

PBP: “D” is for Detoxing, Deflecting and Dirt, The 2014 Pantheacon Report

Day One: I arrived way too early for enjoying anything: the bars, vending room and hospitality suites were still not open, many people were still arriving and the only thing to do was sit under a tree for joints and grounding. I just really wanted to avoid traffic to San Jose. Dirt: No one has dirts like my boys from The Vodou Store! Not only did they bring all of their wonderful graveyard dirt, baths and hand rubs, but the amazing artwork of Jeff Cullen graced the Vending hall with Hekate, Baron Samedi and Lady Brigitte ruled. Their eyes moved over us all, statues as watchers and witnesses.

Dedicated Temple Space: I wonder, is this the FIRST time in the PantheaCon history there was an actual permanent temple raised? The Coru Cathubodua established a living space for the Queen Morrigu and Her tribe, the Tuatha de Danann. I somehow 'ended up' at the initial raising and whilst the Raven One is not my Mistress, I serve Her sister Hekate in the Sinister Sorority. Much reverence was shown and the holiness maintained through ritual purity by taking off shoes and asperging with sea water before entering the temple, maintaining silence in the temple space, offerings specific to each deity available...it was remarkably PAGAN. It was the first time I felt peace at the Con. In the process, I became the “death doula” over the course of the weekend: bringing devotees to Her feet for the cathartic crying, screaming and grieving. It was wonderful to have space which was only sacred to a specific intention for the duration of the Con...instead of the rotation of energy occurring within physical space every 3 hours as workshops/lectures finished and began again in a different current.

Detoxing of Druidry: I was finally able to actually hang out there this year, and the ADF  suite was un-hospitable. I sprayed it down with Bitch Be Gone, and then found myself unable to really go in the room! The décor was reminiscent of Thanksgiving, with small, easily knocked over, succulent plants no bigger than my pinkie toe, at each table. The Costco bar food really wasn't too bad (chex and nut mixes, room temperature cheese and a plethora of processed foods), but the lack of recycling or composting bins was rather surprising for a group of Druids; especially after the beautiful efforts of last year.

I was also quite disappointed by the pile of cigarette butts that accumulated out on the hospitality suites' balcony in general...Pagans used to be well known for leaving spaces cleaner than they find them. As a non-smoker I noticed it; as a medical cannabis patient, it was even harder to stand around breathing the secondhand fumes and toxic fog.

What was supposed to be a great Pan-Druid panel ended up cancelling... and no one really understood WHY. Included were members from several Druidic faiths, OBOD, ADF, RDNA, and FoDLA; several members of these organizations who were at the Con were just as confused and bummed as I.

Another embarrassing Druid moment included the “hard launch” of the Cornerstone Pagan Fellowship; a newly formed organization which follows along with several 'teachings' shared by ADF founder Isaac Bonewits. I believe this is a schism occurring with ADF, according to the very definition: “A division or split within a religious group”. Whilst normally I welcome new approaches to spirit, especially rebelling paths, my personal experience with the people involved cannot allow me to support it. Cornerstone President and Founder Jessie Olson, who was suspended from ADF Clergy, has since left the organization of ADF after nearly 15 years of service and moved on directly to form this new organization. It will be interesting to see what shall become of something which seems to be very localized, focusing on Northern California community...the website doesn't really spell out HOW the funding is used on a bigger level except for a land purchase. Unfortunately, Olson probably should have waited for the smoke to clear with ADF before attempting such a feat, but good luck to her anyway.

Day Two: The morning began for me with sacrifice and the panel presented by the Coru Cathbodea was something the community needed. Although all the panel members were academically and theoretically able to discuss this practice, Mambo T. Chita Tann was the ONLY one to actually have ever performed a blood sacrifice; several in fact. Although not as normative like most horror movies and outsiders seem to imagine, the act of sacrifice is something not taken very lightly in Mambo's Haitian tradition. Religious scholar and Master Mage Sam Webster  gave wonderful insights to traditions of sacrifice in the Ancient world, reminding us all of the most basic religious connection we can make: BBQ. We pray, kill, pray again, eat, then pray. In the modern world we are missing this connection with food; unless raised on a farm, meat usually comes butchered and wrapped. Money has become the commodity, not blood. It was wonderful “food for thought”. Amy Hale, Folklorist, reminded all of the nature of blood sacrifice and raised questions of why it is even needed in the first place. Ideas of the Gods needing sacrifice in order to be sustained IS a somewhat outdated idea, but it was a way of encouraging a relationship based on reciprocity. I am paraphrasing here and these are just my impressions...so Dr. Hale please excuse me for not getting 'direct' quotes. Another member of the panel who I was not at all familiar with, but found to bring some much needed laughter to lighten the mood, was Jeffrey Albaugh  from Cherry Hill Seminary and is the program manager for the Conference on Modern Paganism. The last remaining panel member was Crystal Blanton, there representing the 'social' aspect of sacrifice; her area of expertise is as social worker and cultural empathy advocate. I felt she didn't really have much to add to this conversation for several reasons, one being the idea of “self sacrifice” she advocated, which to me is a very Christian concept. Blanton further mentioned how sacrifice is a culturally specific act; which is true in form only. Why was other ritual specialists not brought to the panel? I saw several people in the audience whom had much more hands-on experience in this area, yet their wisdom was not drawn upon. No matter...in the bigger picture this is a can of worms long ignored by the Pagan community discussion table and I was very excited to see it handled with integrity.

Donations: over the past few weeks Sam Webster, along with several other members of the Bay Area Pagan community, has launched the Pantheon Foundation . This very transparent and genuine service to the Pagan community will give educational support, fiscal and tax exemption status for the community at large, whilst also maintaining the anonymity Pagans love so much in their individual paths. The Foundation will seek to assist with several issues including healthcare advocacy, hospice and “end of life” services. We are hearing the aging generation of baby boomer Pagans call for help, this has been especially true over the past few months as several community elders have asked for assistance with funerary expenses, chemo costs, and other financial/emotional support. It is our obligation to step forward and give back to the folks who have lead, taught and inspired our community; now and for future generations. I hope to help in any way my skills and talents can be used with this most powerful offering to the Gods and community. Stay tuned.

Dance of Darkness: The Hexenfest dance party highlighted the upcoming event in April, 2014; dark rock band Pandemoneon with guest DJ Jason Pitzl-Waters of the Wild Hunt  was an added bonus! Whilst I missed the band due to shenanigans at the Green Fairy Party, something too easy to do with the darkly ambience and generous pouring, getting my “old goth” groove on to the decadently dark sounds of Ministry, NIN and other goodies was the highlight of this day!

Day Three: The morning crowd of Pantheacon was definitely well hungover; booze, sex, sweat, and the juices of the accumulated energies of the weekend. This is usually the most magickal day of the entire weekend for me and this year was no different. I started the morning learning about the simple, and powerful, Arte of guising and mask-making. I have tried so many times to attend a Peter Paddon workshop and was so excited to FINALLY be there, my IBS kicked in. Now I will just have to buy his book.

Divine Sovereignty: The Coru Cathubodua's Great Queens ritual invoked over thirty sovereign daughters from the span of human history. In what could have easily been a Dianic rite, the Macha was called into Be-ing as guide for each participant, which was a nice balance of male and female, to reach into the folds of time, through the bloodlines in which we are all meant to be connected with in royal currents, and find our own personal 'queen'. During guided meditations, I tend to play “ahead of the game”; sort of like when you are in school and some kid is reading out loud slowly.... so you read ahead. Before the rest of the group met Her, the Macha was before me with the flaming hair, blue woad gown and shining brow. She asked “Why are you here?” I replied, “Holding space in this ritual for those I love” With that, She offered Her hand. Through woods I followed Her chariot, flying alongside as golden sparks flew from it's wheels. I came to MY ancestor, MY queen, the one whom I am descended or that will be in the future... and She was Self. This confused me because the point of the ritual was to identify who the queen of our lineage was; but I think this is the secret mystery to it all. We already ARE stars, as Crowley tells us...and so now do these Pagans know their rightful place. It was so very beautiful, heart-wrenching, empowering as we all began to 'rise up'; stopping feet, risen arms joined together, linked through our hearts and blood. It was beyond gender, beyond form...and now we all remember.

Dimensions of Drama: Traveling through time was a theme for Sunday apparently, as that evening I attended the most anticipated ritual of the weekend for me: Jason Mankey's 1899 Ritual. Now apparently this is infamous and well known through his blog Raise the Horns; and whilst I DO tend to read, and often disagree, with Mankey's historical articles and occultic commentary, this was something altogether different. Whilst usually a funny and light-hearted fellow by reputation, there was definitely a more serious undertone as the coven performed a poetic, dramatic and magickal composition of reconstruction by Mankey. I was highly impressed with the energies being raised despite the high theatrics. Unfortunately I ran into two issues: 1) the wine-infused pebble I had drawn out was a rather LARGE one...keeping it under my tongue whilst reciting what seemed a LONG charm of protection. I felt ridiculous at first, mumbling and drooling, but quickly saw the significance from the absurdity. There is also the fact I am known as a 'big mouth'. Well played, Mr. Mankey. 2) The cakes were made according to traditional standards so I took NO chances! The demons of my lower intestines would have made the ritual experience much more painful with gluten, dairy and who knows what else in the Wiccan concoction! Whilst everyone else enjoyed, a highly talented, singing Priestess stole my heart as she sang a nostalgically “The Pipes of Pan” in a beautiful soprano. That being said...it was my first truly Wiccan ritual and it was a tremendous triumph. Bravo Jason, bravo.

Day Four: Bittersweet and stewing in the broken realities of fractured vision, I watched the massive exodus from the lobby. I was filled with good humors from the singing of Lon Milo DuQuette the night before...having a drink and listening to his sweet songs of heartache, fear and humor reminded me that to be re-made we must become broken. I am smelted, melted into a forge and hammered out thin. I am pliable to shape, by the Will of the Gods and my own Summon Bonum. I saw the blood, sweat and tears in the dark corners of the Con and the brilliant, changed faces that emerged at the end. Another weekend of change, replenished nourishment and vulnerability. Thanks to everyone for the insights.

PBP: “D” is for Detours

This week I shall be immersing my Self in the strange world of public Paganism and will be taking a break from the PBP . Yes, there will be several people I don't like there. Yes, I plan to “hardcore it” as always at Pantheacon 2014; non-stop ritual and workshop for 12 or more hours each day. Yes, I plan to actually have some drinks...a rarity to those who know me. And YES I will return with an epic story, although maybe not in prose as last year. Have a great Lupercalia with DANCING, DRUNKENESS, and DIRTY DEEDS! 

 

PBP: “Q” is for Queenly Ways

Playing with my daughter, I notice she is much more 'girly' than I was at her age. I never wanted to be a princess, waiting for some prince to rescue me. When I was a kid the only role models I had which even remotely reflected what I could aspire to be were more like She-Ra (a tough and tumble feminist), Rainbow Brite (who was really more like Strawberry Shortcake as a thoughtless little girl), and Barbie (ruining girls' self images since before my mother was born). We were playing in my daughter's princess dresses (she settled on Merida) when she told me “Mommy, I am the princess and you're the Queen, okay?” I asked her, “Why do I have to be the Queen? Why can't I be the witch in the dungeon?” And she reminded me: “Mommy, Queens can be witches TOO!” She made a good point. This reminds me of the 'sovereignty' which has been a theme in the Pagan community lately. Here in the Bay Area, I am blessed with seeing the microcosm reflecting the greater magickal population, at least I think it's fair to say. It started flowing through with the work of T. Thorne Coyle with Morpheus Ravenna and the Priests of the Coru Cathubodua at Pantheacon last year... a blood ritual to the Morrigan. It was through this donated blood which participants became part of the same tribe, under the leadership of this Queen. And what does this mean, 'sovereignty', for the Pagan community in general, not just devotees of the Morrigan? Why would a bloody war Goddess be interested in modern Pagans embracing their own power and independent nature? Does Be-ing a Queen mean authority of others as well? Is it a superiority complex or Satanic focus of Self fulfilling prophecies? Perhaps it's not so much this particular deity/entity/Be-ing which is requiring it, or should I say commanding us all to look at self rule.

The sorority of feminine sovereignty is pretty big: ancient Ishtar/Inanna, Babalon of the New Aeon, blood thirsty Queens such as Morrigan and Kali; red dakinis are reaching out in Her name as Lilith and Tara/Kurukulla. Heeding the call are priestesses, witches, energy workers, and many others who are attuned with the currents our planet passes through. This wave of new generation community leaders reflects how our Paganism is evolving and changing with the times. They are initiating and ushering new ways of thinking and practicing ancient concepts. I was deeply reminded of this during conversation with another initiator in this sovereign wave, Lasara Firefox Allen; Priestess, International Author, Educator, and Activist for sexual liberation and revolution. Allen published Sexy Witch (2005, Llewellyn Worldwide) and  is currently preparing to facilitate a weekend workshop she has titled “Embracing the Red Queen: Women, Competition, Cooperation and Co-Creation”; an intensive She reminded me that the actual etymological root for the word Queen is actually “wife”... “a sovereign woman as in one who does not need a King... (symbolic of ) the evolution of consciousness”. This is interesting in that lineages were at one point carried through the royal lines of women... a King was made by the Queen he married, not the other way around. Women are learning to have worth not in comparison to her consort, but standing in her own community of women.

From "Through the Looking Glass", 'Queen Alice' by John Tenniel.

 

For Lasara Allen, the Red Queen is not just the Sacred Whore but a kind of 'egregore' which has evolved from the consciousness of all the ones who connect with this red current, something beyond the simple Archetype. “For now just think of it as RED; power, sex, love, anger, passion, desire, strength, blood, wounds, healing, birth, death. QUEEN” (Lasara Firefox Allen). Something I have known for a long time, and that is also a factor for many other women, is that ladies have a tendency to “tear each other down”; sure we might be supportive face to face, but even at rituals or other public events I have overheard the cattiness which still lingers, usually spurned by envy or cowardice. Allen explained to me how “Women do not have a language for competition... this is about stepping into full power, full actualization”. She describes a place many feminists promise but eventually fail to deliver: a real sharing of power. In her 30-something years of training and service (which consists of several formal titles along with applied practice), Allen draws from her experience in reviewing patterns and seeing what stages of development worked in success situations.

COMPETITION: Learning how to claim our power in an authentic, straight-forward, honest way. Owning the edges that we stand at and sometimes step over. Admitting we are powerful. Admitting that we are vulnerable. Entering into a willingness to become naked in our RED QUEEN energy.
COOPERATION: When we come together in our truth, we learn to become true allies to one another. We learn how to support one another in full expression and creative action. We learn how to hold one another up while staying strong in our core.
CO-CREATION: Building from cooperation, we move into the ability to trust ourselves and one another enough to give ourselves over to the process of creating a whole that is more beautiful, powerful, complex, healing and healed than we may have ever thought possible.” (Lasara Firefox Allen)

As a Queen, Allen also holds a title I find many leaders in the Pagan community lacking: Mother. Allen does what she calls “Transparent Parenting”, not hiding the services she provides or teachings from her family. Surrounded by a supportive network of family and friends, Allen, like many Priestesses, lives her life “walking with the entity”. “Our life is the biggest prayer we can offer” she tells me. The openness shared with her children and spouse gives me something I can realistically envision for myself: the Queen rules the house, with one hand on a child and another a septor.

 

**Embracing the Red Queen Retreat will take place on privately owned, beautiful, Goddess-Blessed land here in the Willits area. It’s out Pine Mountain way, south-east of the valley. Spending the weekend in the great outdoors, we will ground our practice and process in the Earth Itself. Sleep under the stars, bring a tent, or sleep in the large, common-room tent space. There may be space inside the house to sleep on the floor by prior request, and there are a couple of beds that will be available by prior arrangement. There is a jacuzzi (bathing suits optional!), a beautiful fire circle, a lovely little garden, and a beautiful home in which meals will be prepared and served. Directions to the location will be made available with your other registration information before the event.

The PantheaCon Report

Day One: Lost the phone, All alone

Somewhere betwixt parking and lobby.

Con staff ruled, I got schooled

In keeping track of what's on me.

ADF Suite, Things nice and neat,

If ever a pagan group was.

What a pleasure and treat, To finally meet

Those brave enough to keep laws.

Maenads landed, With ivy and grapes branded,

Into the car we stole away.

A gifted poetress, bruja and temptress,

In a far-off hotel we did stay.

Sushi and vodka, champagne will knock ya

Down a peg or few.

Wendy Rule romancing, Pomba Gira dancing,

A smoke then bed at two.

 

Day Two:

Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Early workshop failed,

For lack of a better term.

Another was deleted, Partly completed

Hexed enemies did squirm.

Traveled through time, saw a death of mine

With Priest Lon Milo DuQuette.

Suicide, murder or brushed aside

With a train my body had met.

Crossroads of vendors, all a witches' splendor,

Handshakes in alignment.

A grimoire of spirit, a magician so writ

Such art of poetic refinement.

Bone Yard Boogie confusion, rock n' roll infusion

Saved the night for me.

Hekate as sin-eater, teacher, death-greeter,

Hail unto thee!

 

Day Three:

Friends had to leave, time past to grieve,

Reunion is soon at hand.

Wrong workshop, Attacks to stop,

Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.

Floating around, old friends found,

Vodou people with most integrity.

Thracian Priest, friend of beast

Gimbal the Raven, Pagan celebrity.

Peace of mind, to self be kind

Back to my own room I did go

With head aching, spirit reeling,

To sleep after my favourite show.

 

Day Four:

Time to pack, wearing all black 

With owl on breast, an apple to eat.

Lilith of three faces, asteroid of graces,

Dark and Black Moon, plans to greet.

Last minute shopping, hugs and slogging

On a Monday morning I did goeth

Uncoiled, whorrled, and well oiled.

No witch better primed since MacBeth.