Ever been to one of the many Pagan-themed conventions? How about a local gathering?? You know – the places where all the authors, bloggers, podcasters, and well-known Pagans come to?? Ever go all fan-boy or fan-girl on these folks? Well, let me relate an experience to you, along with a handful of observations.
This year, I made my first trek to Pantheacon. My very first time in California. My very first time to a Pagan-themed conference of any sort. Previously, the largest Pagan-themed event I had attended was the Dallas Pagan Pride Day. And I helped work part of that, so I didn’t get to play free-form experience like I did at Pantheacon. There were a metric ton of people there, and then some. And there were a metric ton of authors, bloggers, and even musicians there as well – some of whom I had more than a passing knowledge of their material.
I was lucky enough to have a part-time guide, and roomie for the entire Convention from my local area – John Beckett. Now, John’s a fairly well known Pagan in his own right, and I not only highly respect John’s point of view – some of his blogs have influenced aspects of my own perspective on personal, individual spiritual experience. John provided me with a few helpful hints of how to survive Pantheacon, and even spent a bit of his time walking me around to get the lay of the land (so to speak). But for three days, I was essentially on my own. I had my own panels that I wanted to catch, mostly from Pagans that I knew or had talked with online.
My first experience of meeting someone that I knew/read was with Shauna Aura Knight. It took a few minutes – actually quite a few – to hold back in the background and let other folks talk with her. Eventually, I got my chance to meet her, shake her hand, and talk with her for a short bit. And yes, I fan-boy’d a bit on her. After all, her blog introduced to some of the more difficult to grasp concepts of group leadership – an area, which I admit to being so lousy at, that I tend to stay in the background in most groups I am with. Because I know I am no good at it. Talking with her via Emails and Facebook messages was great, but getting the chance to talk to her face-to-face was a really big moment.
My second experience was catching a panel by Kristoffer Hughes. I had already been around Kristoffer at the East Coast Gathering, but here – he was just off the hook. I was introduced to some of the funniest moments of the entire Pantheacon experience in this panel. Kristoffer’s off-hand comments about the heat of San Jose were nearly side-splitting. His panel was one of the most intense moments I experienced, particularly from a knowledge perspective.
My final experience was in a very laid-back, very cerebral panel on the cross-collaboration between Science Fiction and Fantasy with Mythology. Here, I came face to face (nearly) with an author I had read for a long time in my life – Diana Paxson. She was one of three individuals on what turned out to be a fascinating time, which I have written about in several previous blog posts.
But I found myself doing something I had never realized I had done until long after the fact. Many of the authors, bloggers, musicians, artists, and even us lowly podcasters get placed on pedestals and treated differently than other Pagans. Its almost as if the books that are written, the blog posts that are thought out and articulated, the music that is played, the podcasts that are formulated and mixed down, the sculptures, paintings and other items that are created — its almost as if all that makes those folks different.
None of that stuff truly makes any us different from anyone else. As a podcaster and a blogger, I am just trying to present ideas and points of view that can help people start a discussion – even with just themselves. Our community’s artisans (I will use this as a collective term for all that I have mentioned here – as well as some things I haven’t) are sometimes placed on high pedestals. These folks are championed for having the bravery to place who they are and what they have to say in a format that we all take in and incorporate (or not) into our own lives. Sometimes, we even forget that these folks are just like we are. They laugh, they sing, they have good days, they have bad days. They cry. They do everything that we do. And sometimes we forget that and hold them to an even greater standard. When these folks may have had the shittiest day in their lives for whatever reason; sometimes we expect them to place all that behind them and be there for us. Because we happened to be there. We make them into super-heroes – and they are that indeed – but e forget to let them be ordinary people, too.
We sometimes forget that they don’t always want to talk Pagan stuff. Sometimes, they want to talk about ordinary, everyday stuff too. I had a wonderful time at Pantheacon. I had a wonderful time talking with Shauna, listening to Kristoffer, and allowing Diana and the panel she was a part of to absolutely melt my brain on the concept of modern-day mythology. When I got ready to leave for the airport, I walked over to Shauna to say goodbye. She asked for a hug. And I got my first taste of being treated on equal footing. By someone I admired from a long distance and had spent time in her panel gleaning more information on leadership techniques that I have found ways to apply within my own mundane job. And sitting at the airport, waiting for our flight back to Dallas – I ate dinner with John, and we talked some about American football. Afterwards, I teased John about the many pictures I took of my foot at his panel – waiting for the right moment to get a single shot of him. If I happen to see Kristoffer or Diana at the next Pantheacon, I plan to take a moment and just ask them how their day is going. Nothing of a Pagan-esque nature. Just how their day is going. So they don’t have to be super-heroes every single moment of the day.
Super-heroes. Indeed. It must be the cloak….