This was one of the best Pantheacon events ever. I heard estimates of between 2,500 and 3,000 people in attendance. Here is my experience…
First, I had been quite sick. My cold was primarily coughing. No fever. No nausea. But for someone who was going to be speaking, this was a disaster. Plus, coughing is exhausting! I kept thinking, “I’ll be better in a day or two,” but it didn’t happen. I finally broke down and went to a doctor. I received a steroid inhaling treatment and prescriptions for antibiotics and two inhalers. By the day before traveling to the Con, my cough was decreased but not gone. I was also using two heavy cough medicines (one from a previous prescription), cold meds and Ricola cough drops!
Meanwhile, I had already put new tires on my car (a VW GTI) and had a tune-up. To be prepared for the trip I washed it and filled it up with gas. As I pulled out from the gas station I stepped on the clutch and the clutch pedal wouldn’t come up! Worse, on examining the car, there was a small pool of fluid under the car. I had it towed to my mechanic and rented a car. Grrrr.
Next morning I was up early (about 5:00) and getting ready to go. I was going up with my fiancé, Holly Allender, and we waited for the third person on our trip, Lon Milo DuQuette. Lon has been joining us for the past several years and we all shared stories of what we had done during the year and what we were planning for the future. We stopped off for a brunch at a small restaurant where everything was served on metal skillets. Back on the road we passed a giant holding pen for cows which, we assume, would lead to them being taken to slaughter. Lon referred to it as “Cowschwitz.” A smaller one was “Moochenwald.”
We arrived around 12:30. I had to park fairly far away from the DoubleTree Hotel’s doors, and the line to get rooms took almost an hour to go through (message to the DoubleTree: you need more staff at the desk on the Friday of Pantheacon and a much wider selection of food at your restaurant).
I just had time to unpack and go down to give my first workshop on Pendulum Divination. The room was absolutely jam packed to overflowing. Unfortunately, some people were turned away. The presentation went great and many people had “Aha!” moments or returned to using pendulums after not using them for years. If you’re interested in learning about pendulums, you can get the basics in my multi-part posting: part 1, part 2, and part 3. Although the contest described in those posts is over, your comments are always welcome.
I had intended to attend a workshop by Richard Kaczynski (author of Perdurabo, what I consider to be the best biography of Aleister Crowley. I used to recommend a combination of Israel Regardie’s The Eye in the Triangle for its psychological interpretation of Crowley combined with Crowley’s autobiography, The Confessions of Aleister Crowley, but now I prefer Kaczynski’s work) on sex and sex magic in the Victorian age, but with the cold and cough and car problems I was exhausted and ended up falling asleep early. Richard is a great occultist and musician, and I hope he still doesn’t regret his purchase, years ago, of a synthesizer module after he saw me demonstrating mine.
Saturday came and I had a nice hotel breakfast of overpriced powdered eggs and canned pineapple. Yum!
The day was filled with great workshops and rituals. A friend, Vere Chappell (whom I hadn’t seen in far too long) had recently published two books on an amazing woman named Ida Craddock, a late 19th century sex magician. John Michael Greer talked about his new important translation of the Picatrix. Other workshop topics included the Tarot, Burning Man, trance, dance, astrology, and a wide variety of goddesses. Speakers included Selena Fox, Starhawk, and T. Thorn Coyle. Dr. Kaczynski gave a different workshop on Crowley and there was a humorous Pagan Home Companion.
There was a Pagan and Hindu Ritual, Lon DuQuette discussed his “Magical, Musical, Midlife Crisis” and Margot Adler discussed chanting. Mary K. Greer spoke on Tarot, Joseph Max discussed Radionics, and to cap off the night I was part of Llewellyn’s 110th Anniversary Author fair along with many other authors (see my previous post for a listing). Llewellyn gave out some great prizes and had so much cake I think Elysia and Brandi may have had to take some home with them! Later there were concerts by bands like Pandemonaeon and Hauk, and one of my favorite singers with a Pagan flavor, Celia.
Sunday morning had Holly Allender leading a yoga class in her unique fashion that included focusing on the spiritual as well as the physical motions, and concluded with her giving mala prayer beads to everyone who attended as well as showing how to use them. Jason Pitzi-Waters (you have to follow his blog, The Wild Hunt, one of the best Pagan blogs) introduced the Pagan Newswire Collective, a growing real news network focused on Pagan issues. I wasn’t able to attend either as I was part of Book Publishing 101 held by Llewellyn and led by Elysia Gallo (acquisitions editor) and Brandi Palechek (marketing specialist). Also on the panel was Lon, Amber K and Azrael Arynn K, Deborah Black, Tess Whitehurst and Alaric Albertsson.
Immediately afterward there was a workshop on polyamory by Live The Dream, Spiritual Spring Cleaning by Deborah Blake, Weiser authors talking about Dion Fortune, a workshop by Luisah Teish, and another on vampires led by Margo Adler. I couldn’t attend those, either, because I was giving a workshop on the Magick of Self-Hypnosis. Again, my workshop was to an over-filled room (with even more people sitting on the floor and and several people standing) and was a great success. People learned self-hypnosis, practiced it, and discovered how to use it as part of magickal rituals.
I hadn’t had a chance to have breakfast or lunch, so I was hungry and stopped for more hotel food. I missed the workshop by Sabina Magliocco, a brilliant professor of anthropology at California State University and a Gardenerian Priestess, but I had a chance to finally meet her and talk with her and I deeply respect her knowledge, work, and ethics. I also wanted to attend the workshop by my friend Sylvia Brallier leading a Tantric Shamanism Breathwork Ceremony, but with my cough I had to pass on it. Diana Paxson had a workshop on Frithweaving (developing cooperation between kin and community) with Frigga.
Holly and I decided to go out of the hotel for dinner. There was little within walking distance so I drove to a small Indian restaurant in San Jose. When we came back, the parking goddess (Asphaltia) was, once again, very good to me, giving me a parking place right in front of the doors to the hotel. I bless the Goddess and thank Her for her kindness.
I know I missed several great speakers, authors, musicians, bands, and more. Although the event continued on Monday, Lon, Holly and I packed up and returned to L.A. It was a great time and I want to thank everyone involved, especially Glenn Turner, the people from Ancient Ways, Fields Books, all the volunteers, Elysia and Brandi, and everyone who made Pantheacon such a great event. My deepest thanks to everyone who came to my workshops and to everyone who attended.