In February 2017 we flew to California and attended our first Pantheacon. Max and I were invited as guests to talk about the White Spring Sanctuary in Glastonbury and to take part in a Double Dragon Ritual with RJ Stewart. I was mega excited, what an honour!
“What, us? Really?” the playing small part of my brain said. Then reason kicked in and I remembered that we have been working with ceremony and magic for over 25 years, nine of which were dedicated to tending the White Spring. So, why not us? It felt like a gift for our time in service for the love of it.
We set off on our journey to Heathrow early and as we traveled through Bath, two swans flew up alongside the bus and kept level with us. I made a little prayer that we might fly with such grace. It was my first trip on an airplane. I was like an excited child and my face was glued to the window for much of the ten-hour journey.
So we flew direct to San Jose and took a shuttle bus to The Double Tree Hotel which was practically across the street from the airport. RJ met us in the lobby and after dropping our cases in the huge hotel room we went to register for our talk.
We soon began to settle into a huge serving of ‘culture shock parfait’. Layer upon layer of magic and mysticism in a fancy hotel. It was like a big festival in a most unusual environment. We chatted in the bar while watching the delegates, hosts, and presenters arrive in all their vibrancy and glory.
Pantheacon is a magnificent gathering of pagan kith and kin, a heartfelt sharing of skills, teachings, and hospitality. The whole place is a hive of activity with beehive patterned carpets to reinforce the feeling of a great community working together. There were so many presentations and curiosities that it was hard to decide what to do.
The Double Dragon ritual went rather well. Robert is an accomplished ceremonialist and teacher. I knew it would be high quality – it was impeccable. We’d smuggled in the red and white waters of Avalon and a stone from Glastonbury Tor. The stone, the centerpiece of the ritual, looks more and more like a dragon each day. It is a large lump of sedimentary rock from the ancient seabed with traces of ammonites and clam shells evident on the surface. Stained red and white it will remain in the White Spring, taking its place in the holy of holies.
The double dragon image here is created by a wonderful artist and our new forever friend Jen Delyth who gifted us with t-shirts to bring home for the children. How we met her and her beloved, Chris Chandler is a great story I will tell you sometime. For now, check out her astounding artwork here. http://www.kelticdesigns.com/
Robert asked me if I would do my Glastonbury Poem at his concert on Saturday night. Blimey, I would be sharing a stage with RJ Stewart! I was suitably whelmed, but I think the poem translated well. With hindsight, I probably should have said booger instead of bogey. My accent was morphing into some kind of American/Irish mash-up (what was that about?) I began to wonder whether I should channel Dick Van Dyke to help. It was funny to hear our co-celebrants
My accent was morphing into some kind of American/Irish mash-up (what was that about?) I began to wonder whether I should channel Dick Van Dyke to help. It was funny to hear our co-celebrants Sally and Jessika reflecting our English accents, they were less ‘gurt lush’ Somerset and more retro-cockney. We shared some wonderfully British phrases with Sally who delighted in writing them down.
The White Spring talk and meditations caused a few leaky eyes and I am taking that as a good sign. We created a community field and, safe within it, journeyed to Fae realms to meet with the archetypes of The White Spring. At the end of the class, Max gave the group a choice. We could have 10 minutes of Q&A or we could chuck water at them. They went for the water… hoorah! So with joyful abandon, we threw waters of Avalon around the room.
All of the talks that I wanted to attend and missed looked great; the ritual misa (mass) for La Santisima Muerte, Crossing Stony Ground, The Bawdy Divine, The Sock Puppet Scapegoat Ritual, Working with Difficult Gods, Into the Labyrinth, and The Magic of Grace. All remain highlighted in my Pantheacon programme as a testament to the fact that I must return next year.
Was it the drunken divination or the absinthe party that distracted me?
It definitely wasn’t Naked Kabala Twister; I had no intention of taking part in that and I wasn’t going to sit in and watch because that would be weird.
Seriously, there were such a plethora of quality classes on offer. The hospitality suites and temples that had been created in hotel rooms were great places to meet people and have a few deep meaningfuls.
Where are all the pictures? Well, Pantheacon has a no photography policy. No one can take pictures without asking permission first. The result of this was that I saw hardly any phones. All the connections were face to face and wholly human. What a blessing that was.
What is most impressive at Pantheacon is the attention to wellbeing. The whole place feels safe. There is guidance on keeping grounded and advice for those who might succumb to spiritual overload. Everyone there knows about ‘621’: For every 24 hour period, you must get a minimum of 6 hours sleep, 2 meals, and 1 shower. Now Glastonbury Festival could do with having that little gem of wisdom out there … especially the shower part!
If anyone was still feeling out of sorts after taking care of their 621, there were flow charts to direct them to the right ways to get grounded. There was 24/7 support and plenty of volunteers ready to help out. We felt safe, welcomed and nurtured for the whole of our stay there. Unity in diversity … it sings out at Pantheacon.
On Monday morning, as everyone was getting ready to leave, we were invited to have breakfast with Tiffany (Yes, I know). Tiffany is one of the worldwide Sisters of Avalon, benefactors and close companions of The White Spring. I really wanted to spend some time with her, so we missed the talk at 9am, ‘The Magic of Grace.’
On Tuesday morning, the presenter of that talk, Orion Foxwood, caught up with us in the lobby to tell us how he had observed how we all walk with such grace. He shared some of his teachings on grace with us before we left. What a nice farewell from Pantheacon. Merry meet, merry part, and merry meet again.
The United States of Amazing Grace.