This is my witness of the silent meditation led by T. Thorn Coyle to protest the Z Budapest ritual at Pantheacon 2012.
[Note: I use the term “cisgender women” or “cis woman” to distinguish from “transgender women” or “trans woman.” Both groups may identity with the word “woman.”]
8:33pm I arrive in the City Foyer, a long hallway on the main floor of the DoubleTree hotel, and make my way toward the San Martin room. I find a corner in which to sit. I feel the strong need to write down all of what is happening.
Beside me sits a man with a spinning wheel in front of him. He pedals gently and spins the roving into thread.
8:35pm I watch a coordinator of Pantheacon show Thorn the statement prepared by Z Budapest. Queens in white face and glitter makeup gather and shimmer while cisgender women line up to enter San Martin.
Thorn speaks to the coordinator.
“My aim is just to keep the energy smooth.”
The coordinator responds.
“It’s an imperfect world. I’m doing my best.”
The coordinator exhibits genuine concern for those gathering behind Thorn.
“We are on your side.”
A group of three cisgender crones sit beside the entrance to the presentation room; one on the floor, and two on chairs. The one on the floor sits with legs crossed, eyes closed, and focus directed inward. She rocks, chanting and muttering words under her breath. It appears that the three are holding space.
Thorn walks back and forth in front of the growing group of protestors, instructing them on “keeping the energy smooth.”
8:40pm The cisgender woman continues to rock, her voice more audible than before.
Thorn stands, faces the protestors.
“Let’s all take a breath together. Find your center.”
I write down: For Thorn, protest is magick. Leading is the art of expanding the boundaries of sacred space.
8:42pm The number of cisgender women in line for the ritual: 9
The number of people sitting in protest: 22
I stand in the corner, watching.
Coordinators ask if anyone wants water. I see no one take water. The protestors sit and kneel behind a barrier of white tape on brown and beige conference hotel carpet.
The crones continue to pray and chant. A cisgender woman standing at the front of the line holds beads in her hand, repeating what sounds like a Vedic chant.
“Take a breath and enter silence.”
Both sides are holding space, seeking peace in the face of the other.
Thorn places a sign before her. It reads: All Bodies Are Sacred.
8:45pm A processional of The Amazons & Living Temple of Diana lines up, their faces marked with black paint around their eyes, their attire coordinated as if for ritual. They hold drums.
All are holding space.
I see one cis woman stare at the silent protestors with a bemused smirk. Others in line with her look at the floor.
8:47pm The crone rocks, eyes closed. She lifts her hands up to the sky, to her left, to her right; entreating. The cis woman in line continues to chant with her mala.
8:50pm More gather to kneel beside Thorn.
The Amazons sing.
“We all come from the Goddess…and to her we shall return…”
Their voices fill the space. The begin to walk from the far end of the hall, between the protestors and the ritualists, moving slowly and intentionally.
At the end of the processional of singers is Z Budapest.
8:51pm Someone at the front of the door is attempting to film **, and there is an argument between her and the Pantheacon coordinators. I overhear something about “consent to be filmed.” This argument is the only palpable conflict yet. Until this point, it has felt like two groups holding space.
But, the energy feels different now.
The singing continues.
8:54pm Z Budapest speaks, and the camera person has been given permission to film her. She is offered her prepared statement, which she takes, but she does not speak from the paper. She asks the Amazons if they are present to support her, to which they respond that they are present to support all; they are “in between.” Lady Yeshe Rabbit says,
“There is no them; only us.“
Z looks at the group of men who have gathered behind the cisgender women. They are led by Hyperion of The Unnamed Path.
“There are my guardians,” Z says to them.
“No,” Hyperion responded to her. “We are only here to bear witness and hold space.” ***
Z begins to speak off script, and the following are excerpts from her spoken statement.
“I am not your enemy….
I understand the new consciousness….it’s very Aquarian.
I love the transsexuals… interesting costumes… very colorful…”
I am struck by the fact that she is a person, where up until now she has been spoken of primarily as a symbol.
I hear one of the protestors begin to weep.
“Every minute a woman dies in childbirth…EVERY MINUTE A WOMAN DIES IN CHILDBIRTH. And from there, it just goes on….
I am your mother’s mothers….
I am the elder on whom you can build revolution!“
9:00pm Z Budapest turns and enters the San Martin conference room.
The singers leave as they came.
The Pantheacon coordinator faces the protestors, and reads them the prepared statement which Z chose not to read.
Then, silence. Stillness. The only sound, the spinning of the wheel and the chanting of the crone.
9:12pm Glenn Turner counts the number of silent protestors in attendance. There are 89 present.
9:15pm Thorn walks up to the front, and chants the OM. The protestors break their silence.
“I love you all so much. It’s an honor to sit with you…”
The protestors begin to rise, many embracing. Thanks are expressed. Someone passes out girl scout cookies. They silently move through the hallway, away from the sounds of the cis women laughing, chanting, calling the quarters.
There is a spirit of relief and exhausting.
The crones stay behind, and continue to hold space.
*** UPDATE on 2/23/12 When first published, this post did not contain a quote from Hyperion. I was unable to make out the exact words he said to Z, and because of this I did not include his statement in my notes or in my account of the event. I appreciate his coming forth to clarify, because it is important to understand the motivations and intentions behind all those present (as best we can).