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Photo by Piermario

Photo by Piermario

It’s the last morning of the last day. I’m in my hotel room, waiting for the rest of the attendees to rise. I’m an early-morning Pagan, it seems. I’m in the minority of this minority.

Intentionally reflective blog posts can be a saccharine mess if you don’t watch yourself, so I’m choosing my words carefully. There is a temptation to speak about my experience of the Con as though it is indicative of all experiences of the Con, and that would be wrong. I could make statements that say, “PantheaCon is…” or “PantheaCon is like…”, and while that may be useful to some of my readership who has never attended this conference, it would inevitably be a little (or a lot) untrue, and completely one-sided.

The real truth of the matter is that being at Pantheacon provided me the space and opportunity to reconnect with the things that are meaningful to me. I have found myself remembering and affirming what it is about all of this messy, complicated, Pagan stuff that I love, and what it is about my messy, complicated heart that I love, too.

The heart is the only nation, we sang. Our voices lifted upward to the Morrígan, and we made an affirmation of our sovereignty. To be honest, I’m not sure I understand what sovereignty means in relationship to my own life, or how to make it so (how to do sovereignty, if you will). Twice it came up in ritual for me this weekend, and when I read John Beckett’s post on the Morrígan I saw the word repeated again.

This heart may be sovereign, but I also feel a deeper sense of my kinship to so many people after this weekend. My heart is not a nation with border patrol. My heart is a nation so big and so great that there is no need for fear of invasion. My heart/your heart/the heart is the only nation, and this truth is clearly something I need to sit with for a while. I’m considering tattooing the words on my flesh to make the reminder more permanent.

(I let out a sigh. I am acutely aware that the Con is ending for me. Even with my morning’s presentation on the Fellowship on the horizon, I can feel myself coming down from all of this. I peer into my memory of Friday, a day that is an epoch away from this moment, and all I remember was anticipation for something real; something visceral.

I was given that this weekend. No — I claimed that for myself this weekend.

It was, I suppose, an exercise of my sovereignty.)

I have a lot to unpack about PantheaCon and I’m not exactly sure when that process will begin. Rather than diving into the world of inquiries and examinations, blog posts and dialogues, I will be spending the remaining two weeks of the month immersed in music. Perhaps what has been born here will influence that process, or maybe the music making will inform my processing. I don’t know.

I do know that I feel changed again by all of this. The change is less like the overhaul that took place after last year’s PantheaCon, and more of a subtle shift; an awakening of a dormant awareness; a rekindling of a fire.

And that’s what these things are supposed to be, right? That’s the point. We gather together, and we make ourselves vulnerable enough to be changed, to be shifted, to have our awarenesses adjusted, vertebrae-like. We walk away a little taller, a little more firm in our bodies. We remember our names — all of our names — and we honor the parts of us that are, and possibly have always been, unnamed.

We honor — I honor — much as I leave this place. I honor you, those who read this blog and participate in the dialogues that take place here. I honor those who have opened their hearts up in ritual for my benefit. I honor those who inspired me to radical honesty in my life. I honor those who have listened with kindness and compassion as I sorted through the messy, complicated beauty of my innards.

And from this place of honor, this place of embodiment and sovereignty, I recognize that there is still much work to be done.

I have met the Morrígan.

I have stood in a circle, a shape unlike any circle I’ve stood in before, and beside my human kin, a spiritual kin sharing breath and space and smell and touch, I made contact with the Warrior inside myself.

At this moment it feels as though I have never been in this body before, nor have I ever been to a ritual before this one.

I expected something great from Thorn and her tribe, but I did not know I would be shaken so profoundly.

And I feel shaken. Shaken to the core. The hot lava core. Forge fire core. The core of something that both transcends and embodies; all at once harmonious, and resonant, and ripe with the tension of anticipation and climax.

This is not what being alive is like. This is what being alive is.

Photo by Olivier Bacquet

Photo by Olivier Bacquet

My focus has been directed toward liturgy, which I continue to believe is a valuable tool. But at this moment, charged with the energy of an army calling out to a Queen, I recognize the need for something greater than just ceremony.

Ritual and ceremony are not the same thing.

The tools we use for ritual are tools, and they are not the same thing as the juicy, bloody, fleshy, powerful potential of what ritual can be. There must be magick.

There must be.

There must be a movement of that stuff in the belly of bellies, in the gut of all guts. The words you speak are only useful if they mean something. They have to mean something. If you are going to speak — if you are going to stand before an altar and recite words to your Gods — you better say something that matters.

Liturgy is empty without heart, and as we sang at the tops of our lungs tonight —

The heart is the only nation.

A Goddess cut me deep tonight.

Cut a hole and filled it up with…

reverence…

awe…

wonder…

power…

unexpected gratitude for the force which drives me to fight, to have sex, to use this body for all it’s worth, to stand up and speak…

These are the things which flow through me right now.

There may be no one right way to have a spiritual life, but fuck if this wasn’t a right way tonight.

If I had wings, they would be those of the raven.