By the time this publishes I’ll be in San Jose and PantheaCon will be well under way.
I’ve been having an odd time of keeping my head straight. PantheaCon is here. Even typing that feels strange to me. It’s like some vast part of me simply does not believe it. Not in some sort of defiant gesture, mind you, but rather in the way that thinking of Christmas in March feels. It’s far off, completely irrelevant to the moment at hand, and really just silly to be worrying about. Every time I get flush with drawing my lists and trying to find the things I ought to pack, that little speck of disbelief stirs in me and I can’t help but feel like nothing is true. My priorities immediately swivel, and before I realize it, I’ve completely disregarded all the things I need to be doing.
I’d like to say it’s some grand metaphoric expansion on my current state of mistrust. That my recent run with betrayal, unforeseen onslaught, and complete loss of place has impacted my opinion and knowing of PantheaCon somehow. But frankly, I just don’t think that’s true. Still, I can’t help but wonder why I feel like this – between the spread of mild worry for the current balance of my mental health. I have no true things to point to, and no suspicions worth airing publicly, so instead I sit and spin my time, trying to check things off of a list that feels ridiculous. Of course, by the time you read this, I may have overcome the feeling entirely, being in the thick of it. Then, maybe not.
I’ve been going to PantheaCon every year for a long time now. At first, just for a day/evening, and then as the years went on and my affiliations grew, I would stay the whole time and participate in the facilitation of many rituals and events, and for a while, playing host for my community’s common room. But all that is long and far away now.
This last year I was confronted with the surprising loss of many relationships, I retired from the coven that I’d dedicated a huge portion of my life, time, and energy to, and summarily lost touch in that community. The details are irrelevant, as what is done is done, and I am glad that I chose to leave when I did. This is what is best for me. But it will also be the very first PantheaCon since the very first time I attended, that I will be without them. It’s a strange and rampantly awkward mess to hold up and look into. All a tangle with events recent and long past, emotions, and a fucking ton of anxiety inducing and depression stoking potential. But then, that’s only in the moments that I believe it to be real, other times I may as well be imagining a future trip to some fictional foreign land for all the impact it has.
I’m not sure why I’m writing this here, like this, other than to say that I wanted to. It’s important to me to not hide – and that may well be a part of it – because all too often, people hide who they are, where they’ve been, why they’ve left, who has wronged them. I will not be that person. I know who I am and where I stand. I could draw off lists of the wrongs I’ve made excuses for these past few years, and I could rail against the weight of my broken feelings, but I won’t. It’s over and done, and it is – none of it – in my life anymore. And I will continue to cut through and remove any remainders of that which held me down beneath my truth and my potential. I will continue to encourage others to do the same, and I will no longer lie or deflect from telling the truths that need told.
I guess what I’d like to really say here, is that it’s more important to live in a safe, healthy, and supportive environment than it is to just have one. It’s more important to stand up for yourself and others when they are being hurt or put down, then it is to be ‘nice’ and well liked. It’s easy to fall into an abusive relationship, and easier when that relationship is with a spiritual leader or community. It’s easy to make excuses for the bad behavior of the people close to you or of people you admire. Especially if they have any amount of power or influence over you and yours. I encourage everyone to stop and to honestly reflect on their encounters and interactions. If you feel bad or afraid or find yourself often making excuses for the bad behavior of others, then you’re overdue for some serious reflection and a ruthless analysis of the situation. There is no excuse for abusive or cruel behavior, and you should never be made afraid to take care of yourself or to keep others from being hurt.
Why do I bring this up now?
PantheaCon is a flurry of experiences and encounters. People meet, whether for the first time or the hundredth, and there’s an overwhelming energy of change and newness to everything and everyone. You may find rituals, talks, or casual events that inspire you – or scare you – and you may be drawn to new people or groups… and let’s face it, if nothing else, pagans and witches and all those other nouns and descriptors, they know how to throw their personalities. Magnetized or polarized, drawing in or encouraging outward, and whether they be sincere or driven only by a swelling of ego, they will get your attention. So be safe.
Talk to other people about the groups and people you meet. Look them up online, see how they interact with others socially and what they present themselves as publicly. Don’t be afraid to ask about them. Don’t be afraid to wait and think and observe. If they’re forcing you into making a choice on the spot… chances are their intentions are not in your favor. Remember that your consent is sacred, and that you should be valued as much as the next big name.
And if you’re feeling something wonky in your dealings, with new people or old acquaintances, analyze that questioning feeling. Maybe you just need to check in with them and talk it out… or maybe there’s a larger reason.
Listen to your friends and the people you trust. Consider why everyone makes excuses for that one person who’s always a dick to the waitress. (Seriously, who can you trust who treats service staff badly?) Look at abuse warning sheets and information packets. Read a cult danger pamphlet or three. And if you know something, share. That’s how we can talk care of each other best, by building networks of sharing.
And if they don’t value you or get mad that you want to make sure you’re entering a safe encounter/space/date/room then why do you want to be there?
Hold onto your sovereignty. Exercise your right to choose. If you mean No, or want to say No, then just say No. You never have to justify that.
Be safe. Be happy. Feel free to say hello if you spot me in the hotel, and remind me that this is real.
And if you are so inclined, we’d love to see you at the Rite of Needful Unbinding, Sunday at 11pm in the San Jose/Santa Clara room.