kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Wizardess)
[personal profile] kleenexwoman
THIRD TIME IN A ROW. The theme this year was "Judgment," which is the second to last card in the Major arcana.


I got there on Thursday night this time, went straight from work. Registered, then checked out the dealer's room. Last time there had been some pretty unique booths that sold cool books, but this time it was mostly jewelry and candles and essential oils and shit. Meh. I did enjoy looking at some really detailed leather masks, and bought a peacock feather ornament for cheap that had a clip on it that I could stick stuff onto.

The first workshop I went to was about space/time magick. It was put on by a guy who was very nice and soft-spoken and dressed like a particularly princely hippie. We talked about what space and time are, and about whether they were illusions or not. "Time is a verb that acts on space." I liked that. He said that he saw spacetime as a spiderweb--things and events and objects are nodes in the spiderweb, and time is the strands of web, and we are sitting at the middle of it. He explained what he saw as spacetime magick--you take yourself out of linear time and you access the past, or other possibilities and universes, and then you bring them back within yourself and you effect the change using the knowledge and skills you've gained from that perspective. He also namechecked William S. Burroughs and his cut-up magick (yay!), and then he discussed deities and spirits that can be worked with to deal with time. He also discussed using divination as a way to act upon the future, not to uncover it--with regards to Heisenbergian ideas about the way that particles interact with human observation, the act of divination itself can define the future, and as long as you're pulling Tarot cards you might as well make sure they give you a good future rather than just letting the cards fall where they may.

I ran into Preseli Avalon, who I'd sort of made friends with after the first time I was at the con and her wife channeled Artemis, which was a major event for me. We hung out a bit more and caught up, and we chatted at each other all the way to the Poison ritual, which was supposed to be a super heavy hitter of an event, so obviously I was quite interested. It was held in one of the big ballrooms, and we were chatting it up so much that the guy sitting next to us kept snapping at us to stop even when there was nothing happening. He was grounding, I guess.

The Poison ritual started with Jess, the presenter, explaining that in her practice there were three classes of people with regards to energetic flow: Warriors, who grounded and shielded and scared bad things away; Counselors, who moved energy around; Priests, who gave up energy to the Divine and let it come in. I said I didn't know which one I was, and she said, welp, pick one. I ended up picking Warrior, because fuck if I can do much else. I'm way on the ground floor when it comes to psychic stuff. We gathered in groups to discuss our roles in the ritual, and a lady named Bluedove asked if I kept my head in a crisis. I said, "Yeah, as long as it's not my own," and she said I was in the right place and then she started telling me about how incredibly cool and competent she was in horrible crisis situations.

The ritual involved drinking an herbal tincture (the presenter told us exactly what was in it and what she'd done with it and offered alternatives for people with allergies, yay!), and then taking a guided presentation into the deepest recesses of your soul. I honestly didn't get much out of it, but then I did a hell of a lot of serious soul-searching in college and I feel like I explored a lot of the deepest recesses of my being then. Anything after that is check-up work. A lot of people had serious emotional experiences or past-life regressions, and I'm pretty sure a lot of them were faking it (when a presenter tells you to just think about your life and who you are and that you should start trying to work up to being the person that you want to be already and what you come up with is "I was murdered six horrible ways in six different past lives and I just realized it now," I'm sorry, something is awry). I wandered out during the aftercare because it was late and boring, and then on the drive home a friend I'd ran into during the ritual called me to make sure I was OK. I told her that I was fine, and she told me about her experience (she actually had done some past life work in it and seemed to have come to some satisfying conclusions about her current life from it; the other person who got murdered six horrible ways was, frankly, trying to one-up her without actually understanding what the fuck she was doing), and then said that she had something to show me next time we ran into each other.

Friday, I got up early and packed my bags, since I was staying with my girlfriend and some friends in the hotel. I have never stayed in a hotel for a con, because the ones I go to are usually a half hour or less away from my house and I don't see the point of shelling out tons of money to avoid a half-hour drive each way. But Colleen really wanted a hotel room so she could party and not worry about driving home, which was legit, so we got one. It was only $50 per person for the weekend, turns out. I also packed changes of clothing for rituals, and I had bought this gorgeous peacock poncho that went really well with some occult goggles I'd made, so I wore those throughout the convention and got a lot of compliments.

I went to an Invocation 101 workshop, run by Mia, who I had talked to about jewelry and wire-wrapping in the dealer's room. It wasn't anything I didn't know, but it was a nice refresher and a good way to get into the mood of the con. For those who don't know, invocation of a deity is taking on that deity using yourself as a vessel--you can do full-on possession where your body is a vessel for that deity (not suggested for beginners), or you can do "aspecting," which means that you take on some part of that deity and embody it for a while. Usually when you do this you're still in your own head in some way and know what's going on, although you may have varying levels of control over it. Mia reminded us that we do not have to blindly do whatever the gods decide; if they want to do something we are uncomfortable with or know is a bad idea, we can say "No, we aren't going to do that," or "No, I'm not going to be involved in that" if it's someone who invoked a god who is interacting with you.

I ended up chatting with a girl named Miranda in the hospitality suite afterwards. She was talking about how her family disowned her for being pagan and she couldn't work so she was trying to start a business, and my friend Ted suggested that she go into business with a guy he knew near her who was trying to start the same kind of business. She then complained that it was very hard to make friends with people at a con, and I said, "Well, let's you and I be con buddies." I quickly realized that this was an idea with repercussions. She was highly focused on being a "white witch" and really liked to interrupt me when I was trying to explain things to her and was generally kind of socially oblivious :/ But she was nice, even if she seemed a tad judgmental. People who come into a scene or culture for the first time have all sorts of adjustment periods.

We went to Jason Mankey's Horned God in the British Isles lecture. I particularly like him because I think he combines a jokey, conversational attitude with solid research in his lectures and articles, and he isn't afraid to debunk myths (myths as in "inaccurate ideas about things that have grown far bigger than their initial inaccuracies," not myths like mythos)--and there are a lot of really inaccurate ideas about history in the pagan community. The talk was fascinating as usual, and he went from cave paintings in France to the history of Cernunnos and of Herne the Hunter. One thing I found really interesting but a little disappointing was that the Green Man you see in churches isn't necessarily pagans sneaking in images of a primordial god they worship in secret--they are meant to be images of souls in purgatory, because for some reason the early Catholic church associated the fallen nature of man with leaves. Also, the Jack-in-the-green isn't a pagan fertility ritual left over from pre-Christian times, they were walking advertisements for chimney sweeps. (After, I told him that I was a bit sad because my favorite prof who got me into paganism is obsessed with the Green Man, and Jason was like, "Well, could be that god sneaking in, anyway, you never know!") I wanted to hang out with him and chat afterwards, and he seemed nice but distracted. I told him that he got me listening to T-Rex and he seemed pleased about that. I also asked him about Elen of the Ways, who is a reindeer goddess whose worship supposedly extended from Scandinavia into England, and who I found a webpage about but nothing else. He said he had never heard of her and to e-mail him, so I gotta remember to do that.

I mostly hung out in the Hospitality suite for a bit after that. I ran into Helen Pattskyn, who I almost didn't recognize because she had pink hair. We had wanted to hang out but we never quite got to beyond passing in the hall, but she lives near me so we're planning to meet for coffee and bookstores. She had to go off to a ritual that I happened to be going to--she was being one of the gods, and I wanted to check it out.

It was the Judgment of the Dead, with Egyptian gods. It wasn't so much a ritual as it was a deity open house. Five gods were set up around the room to talk to. I made a beeline for Thoth, who was a super hot dude in a bird mask. I was almost giggling as I approached him--there was so much crazy energy in the room and it was all such a huge amazing deal. We'd passed through the door and had people give us dates, honey, water, and beer, and then the lights were darkened and there were altars set up...all very, very heavy and cool. Thoth stared at me like a bird and asked what my story was. I said, "I have so many of them." Then he said, "That is your quest--find your core story." He said that truth was married to truth, and talked about writing down the deeds of man. He also looked at my necklace and said, "Keys...you are a Guardian. Keys also are important." It was SUPER COOL. I went to sit down to relax for a bit, then went over to Ma'at, who was a motherly woman with no mask. She told me to don't worry about activism and to first work on myself and the world would right its path. I could kind of tell that she wasn't really really psyched to talk to me.

Then I went to Michelle Belanger's lecture on the Energy Body. Michelle Belanger is a psychic and energy vampire, and she's one of the sanest people I've met in this community. She discussed how the Rhine Institute is studying people who are energy workers and they have some pretty rigorous standards--measuring the photons that the human body gives off. Literally every photon. She discussed the idea of chakras and how different traditions see them in different ways, and ways of sensing energy, and some good ways to get used to feeling things and understanding how you process. I've been fairly skeptical of this stuff because I can never see or feel the kind of things that other people claim they can, but a lot of the things Michelle said made me go, "Huh, that makes sense." She also discussed how a lot of people in the pagan community have their crown chakras all open and ready to receive messages from the universe, but most people have their energy all coiled up in their root chakra or around there, and she said that that was OK, some people are naturally open and some people aren't, and it's all a matter of comfort level. Then one lady in the back raised her hand and was like, "Hi, I'm a special snowflake, and I feel really bad for people who aren't, how can they live like that?" Michelle was trying to explain that some people are basically like newborn souls and they have to go through a learning process to become all enlightened and shit and sometimes they hang back like the Buddha to help others, and this lady would not let it go. Finally I raised my hand and explained that I was autistic, and I had trouble organizing sensory information and also spiritual information, and it wasn't that I was stupid or willfully blind or closed-minded, but I literally wasn't set up to process information from the universe in a lot of ways and that it was a matter of self-protection. "I consider myself to be pretty aware and intelligent, but I know that if I walked around with my crown chakra open all the time I would just go completely insane." Apparently a lot of people thought this answer was highly satisfactory, and I got several people who came up to me later or during the rest of the con and congratulated me or told me that they were also autistic.

After that was dinner. I ended up wandering around meeting people I knew and asking them if they wanted to go for food, and I got to catch up with a lot of people, but ultimately I ended up going to dinner with the same people I'd come with and was planning to spend the weekend with. We went to Red Robin, and I ran into Mark Mandrake in the foyer! (He is no longer going by Mandrake.) We chatted about how we were doing and how our lives had been, and he seemed a lot more down-to-earth than he'd been that first year at con. He also has a girlfriend. We ended up not being able to sit together, so I hung out with my friends and had a beershake. (AWESOME.) A couple of the friends I was sitting with had been having a years-long fight and had recently made up for the good of the community, and it was really good to see them chatting and laughing like they didn't hate each other. We talked about why people learned magick, and I got some food and beershake into me, which helped.

Colleen finally came down; she had wanted to attend the entire con with me, but she had had to work. She was not in a great mood, and she was pissed off that we got a hotel room with one bed and a sleeper sofa instead of two beds, since we were sharing. Got her calmed down, and then we went to Registration. She was also pissed that she had to pay $10 extra just to hang out during the evening, and the guy at Reg was so sorry that she'd had a terrible day (she had) that he comped her the evening. So she got her badge and we wandered around and then went into a Gnostic ritual. Although before that, I ran into a lady named Becki who I knew through mutual friends, and she said she was having sinus issues so I went and made her some Ku Ding tea in my own mug, which she was touched by.

There weren't a lot of people at the Gnostic ritual, which is unsurprising because it was a Jesus thing. It was performed by four young men who said they'd created this group specifically to present the ritual at Convo. They explained a little about Gnosticism, and then they baptized us three times, and then they led us through a meditation through seven levels of heaven and defeating Archons of seven deadly sins. The Archons were all weird creepy half-animal mutants. I felt sorry for them. I wasn't too thrilled with the ritual, but I've gotten used to really polished rituals, and these guys were first-timers and they did a really good job for first-timers. It was Colleen's first ritual that wasn't done in Dan's living room, and she said she really enjoyed it and liked seeing a kind of religious ritual that she wasn't used to.

I actually ran into a confriend there, who was the mother of someone I knew. She said she'd got a lot out of it, which was good, so we went and fixed ourselves up in the bathroom and then went to the drum circle. I led Colleen and my friend in a crazy circle dance for a few minutes, then I went and danced by myself. It was a really good vibe, and I really enjoyed pretending I was some kind of ancient ritual sexy scarf dancer. There should be more drum circles in the world. Eventually my abs got tired, so we went out to sit and drink water, and I ran into Mark and his girlfriend again. They invited us to a room party, and I ran into Miranda on our way up and invited her.

The room party was held by a very well-dressed magus who had some really excellent alcohol. I chatted with Mark and his GF about magickal paradigms, new spells for social consciousness (he wants to summon Monsanto, put it into a dummy, put the dummy on trial, execute it, and put it on Youtube!), and then Mark wandered off for a new drink, and I counseled Miranda on networking and spellcraft. Then Miranda had to go, and Davros (a guy who is at every convention ever and has this old-school nerd charm that has nothing to do with neckbeardiness and everything to do with being a silly, fun, outgoing guy) came over and his girlfriend sat on my lap. She was drunk and adorable. Then I got a little overloaded, and I went to hang out with Paul, an autistic vampire, and Becki, who thanked me for the tea. We had a really nice chat about writing porn.

Then we went to bed.
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kleenexwoman: A caricature of me looking future-y.  (Default)
Rachel

April 2015

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