R and I attended PantheaCon (http://www.pantheacon.com) this last weekend from Friday through mid-day Monday. PantheaCon is really a convention for the various spiritual fringe groups of neopaganism drawing largely from the Bay Area, in my opinion. Though people do attend from all over, I would guess that more than half of the people there are relatively local to the convention.
Luckily, via the OTO and various pagan and/or personal involvements in person and online, we have quite a few friends and acquaintances down there. R's family lives in Berkeley and we are down around there once or twice a year (for me, slightly more often for her it seems). The con allows me a chance to catch up with friends that I normally only ever speak to online and to meet the occasional person that I've spoken to online for years but never actually met in person.
I flew down and arrived a little after noon on Friday. The Double Tree where the con is held is near the airport so I arrived with little delay. I checked into the room and decided to register for the con and wander around. Not ten minutes after doing so, I ran into my mother and her partner, who pointed me to where R was checking in... One thing that becomes clear after being at the con for a while is that it isn't a very big place, even with the people, and if you sit still in an open areas for long enough, you will run into people that you know or that you are looking for. This has its downside, of course, as someone that I was once quite close with (and attended college with) was a speaker at the con and it seemed like I couldn't turn around in public or at a presentation without seeing him and his shrew of a wife hovering near me, occasionally glaring at me. While it is something that can be dealt with, it was occasionally annoying. I did resist the urge to flip him off or otherwise cause trouble and didn't even speak to him (and since he was on my plane coming down and going back even, is something of a trick).
Friday afternoon and evening, we settled in, ran into friends from Portland, Santa Cruz Los Angeles, and the Bay area, attended an alchemical imagery presentation as well as one on hypnosis, and checked out a couple of party type events. Saturday was the big day of events, starting at 9:00 am, and we got an early breakfast and jumped into things. I attended a couple of panels, got bored and walked out of at least one, and eventually wound up in a ritual organized by my friend Sam Webster, his wife, and a number of ritualists that they work with. That ritual was a bit more haphazard than I would have liked but I did get a chance, earlier in the day, to attend a group version of Liber V vel Reguli (http://www.hermetic.com/crowley/libers/lib5.html) being performed by Mons Abiegnus Oasis (http://www.pyramis.us/oto/index.html) and some of my friends from there. I went into it with fairly low expectations as it is a pretty common ritual and I was quite impressed with the version they came up with and their performance of it. Saturday night, we attended a large Absinthe party partially sponsored or organized by some friends of mine and then wandered to another party, which we eventually left when they closed the room down. Being decently drunk at that point, we staggered off to bed.
On Sunday, recovering from the night before, we slept in a bit and missed the early morning presentations. Eventually, we attended the Gnostic Mass, where friends of ours were Priestess and Priest, and partook of the Rocks of Light therein. Along with this, we attended another ritual with Sam Webster's Open Source Order of the Golden Dawn (http://www.osogd.org), which was a well done planetary elixir type rite. In the course of things, we found out about a semi-private initiation ceremony to be held later on in the evening and were invited to attend, which we did. This was followed by a much more limited set of partying and drinking before crashing.
Monday morning, we attended our friend Jason's lecture for his upcoming book, "The New Hermetics," which was his take on integrating Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), Kabbalah and other consciousness based spiritual practices. It went fairly well even if he was ill prepared (a two hour power outage in the area that morning didn't help) and I'm looking forward to his book coming out. Following all of this, we had the inevitable goodbyes to friends and family and then the trip to the airport...
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