Our last full day at Pantheacon. Much of our work here is done and we begin to relax a bit more. Our only commitment today is to be at the ‘meet and greet’ that Storm Faerywolf has arranged. Pantheacon Sunday Schedule is rich with teachings and offerings. I want to get to the Llewellyn suite at some point, so that’s on the agenda for today too. Time for for fun, learning and shmoozing.
Breakfast with Tiffany
We ease into the day gently and have breakfast with the ever delightful Tiffany Lazic, joined by another member of The Sisterhood of Avalon, Rachel. I hope I have remembered her name right.
With so many new people to meet there are too many names to remember. When you really click with someone, you’d think that remembering their name would be a breeze, but that’s not always the case.
We have endless coffees and we talk and talk. So much of our work is in alignment and it is great to share our new projects. We talk about our upcoming trip to Germany for the Dragon Legion Grimm Fairy Tale Event. Tiffany tells us about Mythwood in Ontario.
Mythwood is a 61-acre EVENT campground in beautiful Grey County, roughly an hour and a half northwest of Toronto. They specialize in private retreats, living history events, as well as art, music and yoga retreats. Mythwood also welcome inquiries from movie location scouts, LARPers, and Medieval Festivals.
Max and Tiffany get stuck in a long excited conversation about role-play and the kind of events we could hold at Mythwood and we put it on our map of places to visit in the future.
We could talk all morning, in fact the waiter comes over three times before we even look at the menu. Eventually we all order different omelettes. I am pretty sure I don’t have the omelette I ordered, they got switched around, but hey, eggs and vegetables, what can go wrong?
Asparagus, that’s what!
While it is worth missing the first set of talks to spend some time with the Sisterhood of Avalon, we really want to get to see RJ Stewart and Holly Tannen presenting Folk Songs and Neo-Paganism at 11am.
Folk Songs and Neo-Paganism.
Holly Tannen was in the bar with us when we met RJ Stewart there on Friday night.
Talk of what the hell is going on with Brexit? What the hell is going on with Trump? What it is like for poor folk in America and Britain and what about a much needed global rebellion, dominated the conversations. While Holly’s stories of Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seegar and Robert’s stories of Van Morrison and Clannad reminded us that we were in the presence of two folk music legends.
Now, here we are at their presentation. Holly is a famous 60’s folk musician who I never heard of until this weekend. She is still playing the dulcimer and writing protest songs, satire, and powerful and funny folk songs. Do pop over to her website and check out her work.
The talk is on folk songs, their history in pagan folklore and influence on neo-paganism. Singing ‘Lulay, Lulay, the falcon hath blown my make away’ and other magical ballads, Holly introduces us to the idea that there are song families. Many of them have 10 or 15 different versions, they grow and change as culture does.
Particularly taken by Holly and Robert’s take on ‘Ballad World’, I close my eyes and continue to listen. Ballad world is an otherworld of images and stories. These stories exist worldwide in different cultures and languages. When folk songs are sung, or stories are told and images are not provided by you tube or television, the listener has to engage. Familiar with this otherworld, I get my inspiration from the same place. Though not a writer of ballads, not yet anyway, I experience this world as the Axis Mundi.
Folk history isn’t linear, it spirals back on itself. All you can know is the first written record. Many versions may have existed before. Most Christian songs that don’t make sense were pre-Christian songs, re-written to gain church approval.
Filking is another term used, more to describe folksongs written about science fiction. Originally “filk music” was a typo for folk music in a never-published essay on the influence of Science Fiction and Fantasy on folk music. Its first known deliberate use was by Karen Kruse Anderson in Die Zeitschrift für Vollständigen Unsinn (The Journal for Utter Nonsense)
‘Whatever term you want to use to describe the evolution of folk songs,’ Holly concludes, ‘these songs are to teach people how to live right.’
Robert Graves once said, ‘Don’t think of the words, what are the images they describe?’
Black Rose Witchcraft
Next on our agenda is a ‘meet and greet’ hosted by Storm Faerywolf in the Black Rose Witchcraft Hospitality Suite. We go along prepared to talk about The White Spring and take the red and white waters of Avalon with us. Arriving just as they are clearing up from the previous night’s party, we wait for folk to arrive, but no-one comes! With presentations happening by such luminaries as Selena Fox, Starhawk, Kristopher Hughes and Orion Foxwood, it is no surprise.
What a Relief.
We get a chance to relax in the Hospitality Suite and chat with Storm and some of his friends. It is so nice to meet him on the level, where none of us are on show or presenting.
It turns out that much of our work and philosophy is along the same lines. What’s more, our ethos, morals and understanding for the fae realms are in concert. We get to talk more informally about spiritual activism, right use of power and being teachers of the craft whilst maintaining authenticity in the face of expectations.
Storm will be making a trip to Glastonbury next year to discover the sacred places. We made a promise to meet up at the White Spring. Feeling revitalised and nurtured by the wonderful hospitality, we go on to the next thing.
I want to say goodbye to Robert before he leaves. We go to his room and knock on the door. The maid comes out from another room to tell me he has gone! She opens the room to show it is empty. We head down to the lobby and find him there with his cases. Holly offered him a ride to the airport, so after a quick farewell, Robert leaves.
It’s nearly 6pm and we are quite frazzled. I go to get some water and run into Jessika coming out from a Thelemic Mass which she found intense. With all of us feeling a little discombobulated, we go and get some noodles at the place across the road.
Journey Through the Faery Shadow
We cross the highway back to the Doubletree Hotel and make our way to ‘Journey through the Faery Shadow’ with Storm Faerywolf. This is billed as a ritual for intermediate or advanced magical practitioners.
Wow, what a crowd! The room is full of people with the chairs set out in a vesica piscis shape to accomodate as many as possible. Storm stands in the front. He holds the attention of the room with a gentle power that is engaging, explains the ritual. Speaking of Thomas the Rhymer and the road to Faery, he reinforces how it may become treacherous if we do not confront our shadow.
Following an initiatory process deep into the inner planes, he takes us on a guided journey. We encounter the Faery Queen, travel through the river of tears and blood, and receive a blessing from the shining realm. Storm uses vague language to skillfully give just enough information to allow images to become clear and unique for each one of us. I don’t remember any of the words, but the images are clear.
Fortunately, I don’t encounter much by the way of shadow, but I have done a fair share of confronting shadows. This realm is familiar to me through my work at The White Spring, and maybe that has made the path clearer.
Now we are well stoked for the Bardic Circle hosted by Valarie Voigt. The format is ‘pick, play or pass.’ That is, we go around the circle and when it is your turn you pick another singer or poet, pass your turn, or perform. When I introduce myself as a Chaired Bard of Glastonbury one of the people in the circle comments that she feels a bit intimidated. I try to reassure her by saying, it’s okay, I’ve got some rubbish poems. I don’t really know if that helped.
It is an impressive gathering of bards and we are treated to songs, chants, poems and performances of all kinds. I took the chance to do another rendition of Taliesin and followed up with the poem written for an Extinction Rebellion march. Max surprised us with a rare telling of his ’10 of cups’ poem that he performed in the Bardic Trials a few years ago.
I met the Bart Station Bard who blew me away with her wisdom and dedication not to mention her perfect bardic attire and fabulous drum. We remain friends and I find her to be a continued inspiration.
Pantheacon Sunday Night Party Time
Time goes so fast and it’s already past midnight. There are parties happening everywhere and we are invited to one in the Black Rose Witchcraft Suite. On the way we pass a door which has hundreds of condoms pinned to the front, a woman makes eyes at Max and only I notice. We are told there is an orgy going on inside. I am still not sure if that’s true, call me a prude … but I wasn’t going to check it out.
If we don’t get a move on we will miss the Black Rose party, so we hurry up to the room and find it in full swing. I get a drink of something alcoholic, maybe vodka and fruit punch and mingle.
We meet up with ‘cute unicorn girl’ and her new husband. He has never experienced anything like Pantheacon before and has had an amazing time. At lunchtime today, they were handfasted. Blessings on their new life together.
With so many lovely people to chat to we stay late and get into deep conversations about paganism, magic and gender. I’ve avoided the gender topic since I got here, since it seems to be so sensitive at the moment, but at this party I find people open to honest dialogue.
Late Nights, Early Mornings
Storm is a Master Host, his hospitality is excellent and he buzzes around the room making sure everyone feels welcome and looked after. Getting more and more drunk, we talk with lots of different people, meeting many wyrd and quirky pagans. People gather around listening carefully. Our friend John comes up and tells us he could listen to our voices all night. I begin to think the fascination is as much about our accents as about what we have to say. Eventually the party is over and everyone has to leave.
We politely drink up and go outside for a bit, meet up with other late night folk and talk about all kinds of esoterics. Pinned down in a fascinating one sided conversation about British Magical History, I get the full shebang in about 15 minutes flat. Michael is a mix between two of my friends, Tim and Merlin, only he talks in a New York accent at three times the speed. Deep wisdom, so fast and intense, sends me to bed with my mind racing. I didn’t manage to get to Llewellyn. Nevertheless I fail to sleep, formatting the layout of the book in my mind.
Well that’s Pantheacon Sunday, the last night of the conference done with, but it’s not all over. Monday has a lot going on right up until the closing ceremony at 3.30pm. Even though it’s late, we have a breakfast date with John and Bree, so it will be an early start.