I arrived mid-afternoon and was happy to find parking easily and get through the pre-registration line quickly. We were handed our programs and walked off to choose a session at 3:30. We wandered around a bit, and eventually sat down to watch the people.
I imagine that there are a disproportionate number of people from the San Francisco Bay Area who come to Pantheacon. However, I have met over the years people from all over the globe: Australia, Germany, UK, Netherlands, Canada, and of course, all over the US. It is amusing to watch the reactions of hotel guests who are not there for the convention. Pagans tend to take any opportunity they can to play dress up: there are lots of corsets, many steampunk and gothic-inspired outfits, ethnic or cultural costumes (especially Indian), dance garb (belly dance is easily the most popular, but burlesque ensembles make an appearance), renaissance fair wear, and some costumes that defy description.
The first session we attended was taught by Chic Cicero titled, “The Bornless One: Invocation and Shapeshifting.” I have attended seminars taught by the Ciceros before, but they were hosted by a local Golden Dawn lodge. I got the impression that Mr. Cicero was accustomed to speaking to other ceremonial magicians, and wasn’t expecting that the general Pagan population would be interested. I suspect they were attracted to the talk by the word shapeshifting.
It was an interesting discussion of an old ritual that has evolved over many, many decades. We were given a packet that had several versions of the ritual, including references to Aleister Crowley’s version and the full text of Israel Regardie’s version.
After the dinner break, we attended a very interesting presentation about a woman’s many travels to Turkey, her experiences with Hekate and other Gods and Goddesses from the region, and their relationship to bee culture. I was immediately struck by how personal each of our journeys are in this spectrum of religious and spiritual experience. We each find ourselves attracted to unexpected places, deities, and symbols. We are constantly called and pulled in strange directions, and if we are brave enough to follow the breadcrumbs, we can connect the dots of synchronicity in some astonishing ways.
Next, we attended a Heathen blot. The community offered thanks for answered prayers and blessings received. The Norse Gods, the beloved ancestors, and the land wights were all acknowledged and thanked.
Trance Dancing with the Jinn was the last, late night session I attended alone. We spoke about the history of trance dance, the science behind the changes brain chemistry undergoes when a person transitions into a trance state, and last, we practiced some techniques from different religious culture in and around Egypt, including the Sufis. I had an amazing experience working with the techniques to enter trance and I can’t wait to practice them at home. I rode the waves of the music and lost myself in the dance, but when it was all over, I did feel a bit lightheaded and nauseous. When I got some, having a bit of salt and a glass of water helped ground me and relieve the nausea.
On to Saturday!