February 22, 2005

Being Quoted for Being Snarky

Posted at February 22, 2005 11:04 PM in Paganism .

Hey, it looks like I got noticed on khephra.org:

http://www.wildhunt.org/2005/02/covering-con-this-weekend-is.html

To be clear, I'm a 33 year old pagan (sometimes Tibetan Buddhist) who has been involved in paganism since I was 18. I was at the con to visit old and online friends, attend rituals and see my mother present for the second year in a row.

This blog above links to a San Jose Mercury News article on the con as well:

http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/states/california/the_valley/10948175.htm

Since it is behind a member site (free), I'm posting the article here.

Pagans work magic at San Jose hotel

By Dan Reed

The pagans have invaded San Jose! The city's going to hell!

Well, maybe not. Pagans don't actually believe in such things.

Many of them, however, do believe in ghosts, sprites, fairies and witches. And some of them actually are witches.

As of Saturday -- the second of the four-day pagan convention -- it's been so far, so good. No one's been turned into a newt. Yet.

Called Pantheacon, the convention began 11 years ago with about 200 attendees. This year's, held at the Doubletree Hotel in San Jose, has drawn more than 1,500 witches, druids and others, the largest yet.

It was pretty easy to pick out the pagans from the other guests. The pagans were often the ones in kilts or pointy hats.

And they were on their best pagan behavior.

``We will be sharing the hotel, including the elevators, with the rest of the hotel guests,'' the program cautioned. ``Please be covered as if for the street when traveling through public areas of the hotel. This is not to discourage dazzling costuming.''

Organizers offered tons of workshops. A sampling: ``Ghosts Are People, Too.'' ``Magick Mushroom Cultures Around the World.''

The Rev. Paul Fitzgerald, a professor of religious studies at Santa Clara University, said pagans during the 16th Century were ``nominally Christian'' Europeans. They were peasants who lived in the countryside and developed beliefs in such things as magic, ghosts and witches, outside the Christian mainstream of the cities.

The Reformation and Catholic Counter-Reformation changed that, Christianizing most of the land. Missionaries then turned to other continents -- Asia, Africa -- to convert others.

``When I was a kid 40 years ago,'' Fitzgerald said, ``during Lent, you put in a nickel every day to save a pagan baby.''

Coming out of the 1960s was the New Religious Movement, Fitzgerald said, which created a range of beliefs. Some imagine god as a feminine force. Some see lots of gods. Some find signs of the divine throughout nature.

And some have witches for wives.

Kilt-wearing conventioneer Mike Musick said his wife wasn't a witch when he married her. It happened sometime after the wedding. And it's OK by him.

``As long as she's happy, I'm happy,'' said the 33-year-old from Hayward.

His wife, Michelle Musick, 30, was raised Catholic. ``It didn't feel right,'' she said, ``too many limitations.''

Being a Wiccan is about ``peace, love and nature,'' she said. ``It's the perfect freedom.''

She said witches do have brooms, not to ride, but to ritualistically clean sacred places.

Is she going to hell?

``There's no hell,'' she said. ``That's the great part!''

The conference, organized by Glenn Turner, who owns the store Ancient Ways in Oakland, also had a big room with people selling stuff to pagans -- knives, kilts, candles, drums, lots of jewelry and even a belly dancing workout DVD.

So what's with the kilts? Turner said she likes ``men in skirts,'' but they have no great religious significance.

Karl Elvis MacRae of Saratoga, a software engineer for Apple Computer, was volunteering at a kilt stand. He's not a pagan, he just likes kilts. ``Men have worn un-bifurcated garments for thousands of years,'' he said. The kilt offers freedom, especially when it's hot out.

Why not just wear shorts?

``Not as much of a breeze in shorts,'' he answered. And he sometimes wears it to work. ``You know, it's Apple.''

Tyler Willingham, a 14-year-old high school freshman from Hesperia, was there with his witch parents. He had sound reasons to go: ``Have fun, learn some things, get out of school.''

Tyler said he figures he's a witch, but his dad has encouraged him to find his own path. A witch, he said, is someone more in touch with the earth and the elements. ``They can see and move energy,'' he said, ``but they can't force it, they're asking for it to move.''

That's a power for good that can be used for healing, he said.

He was wearing a shirt with a grumpy smiley face and the words: ``Have a nice day -- somewhere else.''

Reporter: ``That's not a very nice witch shirt, is it?''

Tyler: ``No, but it's funny.''

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