Pantheacon Fallout and the Seeds of Community 

Witchcraft is a tool against oppressors. It sides with the oppressors at its own peril, for power is ever fickle, and our gifts ever mistrusted by the bullies and abusers who would make our power their own.

Practitioners of a racist Witchcraft, or a homophobic Witchcraft, or a transphobic Witchcraft, or an ableist Witchcraft, do not understand Witchcraft. Witchcraft is a gift to the oppressed, not the comfortable.  – Jason Thomas Pitzl “Witchcraft Today, Witchcraft Tomorrow A Manifesto”

Mural in Oakland, CA

Mural in Oakland, CA

I watched a battle goddess shake the foundations of my community and expose our weak points.  For the sake of honesty I have to say, I did more than watch.  I aided, I assisted, I called Her name,  honored Her, gave Her offerings.  I asked Her to open our eyes to the battlefield that we are all standing on today, the battlefield that we tell ourselves doesn’t exist.  The battle that won’t be won by generals, or scholars, advanced weapons or technologies.  The battle that if we are to survive, we will survive by raising each other up and building strong and open communities together.  For we rise not by political structures or by wise governance, we rise by reaching out and grabbing the hand of our neighbor,  We all rise together.

The dust is starting to settle from Pantheacon and people are assessing the stress fractures in their hearts, minds and belief systems.  In some ways, Pantheacon is a gathering of individuals each searching for their own taste of the sacred, in other ways it is a gathering of tribes, a place for diverse traditions of spirituality to meet as a community.  A place for us to meet face to face rather than on blogs and Facebook posts.  A place to learn and share with each other, common ground on which to build our future….for 5 days a year.

For some, the event is a place to escape their day-to-day lives and immerse themselves in magic, and costumes, and parties.  And there is nothing wrong with this, provided you remember that there are predators as well as fairies in the night, and keep your wits about you, especially during the hours when the hungry ghosts walk the halls.  But there is more to our shared community than parties and costumes, and hopefully more to our spirituality than that too.  Community is not something that happens because people have similar ideas, it is working and living relationships that we have with each other, with the spirits, and with the gods.  Community is work, and it is processing, and it is uncomfortable self-reflection, and it is compromise.  It is an ongoing dialectical process between many different individuals, and many different philosophies, and many different cultures.  And that is a good thing.

Mural in Oakland,CA

Mural in Oakland,CA

The weak spots in our community are a reflection of the weak spots in our larger society.  As our country struggles with the demons of racism, homophobia, and transphobia, among a multitude of others, we Pagans, as a microcosm of the larger society, struggle with those same demons…   and its frustrating for us.   Just like some people come to Pantheacon wanting to get away from the drudgery of their mundane lives, some people come to Pantheacon wanting to get away from these demons as well,  to distance themselves from the debates on racism, or to be in a place where they wont have racist behaviors thrown in their face,  a space where they wont be challenged about their privilege, or a space where they can be safe to be themselves without fear of rejection, or violence against them.  But we can’t get away from these issues, because Pantheacon does not exist in a vacuum, and they exist in our community as well, and it is our duty, as members of the community, and as human beings, and as a collection of religious communities, to face these issues and to confront them and to work together to create a stronger, more just and welcoming community.

People must rule themselves; there’s no other way.  We cannot hope for benevolent dictators or kind benefactors to end our suffering and fractiousness and abuse.  No great ruler will make racism go away, no brilliant queen will re-grow the forests.

We beg the government to give us recognition, to restrain the police they hire to kill us, to protect our sexual preferences and drinking water and children from the very same abusers who bankroll their political campaigns.  The answer isn’t the coin, it’s the fucking soul, the reclaiming of our sovereignty not just as will-to-power but responsibility-to-love.   – Rhyd Wildermuth “Perceval”

When I see that battlefield that we are all on and apprise the situation, I see a path to victory, a path to a better place.  A place of justice and healing of wounds.  A place of abundance, with healthy seas, nature restored, food, shelter and dignity for all.   A world of people in rightful relationship with the land, with the gods and most importantly with each other.  A future of wealth for children, of children well learned, of tales told in poetry, a future of honor.  And I see this path because I see the strength in our community, the people who won’t sit idle and accept things the way they are, the people who tirelessly and ceaselessly hold us accountable for our mistakes, who sometimes gently and sometimes fiercely confront attitudes in our community and in themselves that mindlessly harm others.   Because the first step towards this rewoven future is facing these toxic attitudes within ourselves and learning how to address and overcome them and a large part of that process involves actually listening to marginalized communities.  Straight, white people are not the saviors of marginalized people and we will not be rescuing anyone.  We are all partners in this community and we must allow everyone their voice and listen to their experiences.  Unexamined ego and privilege has no place in the creation of a better society and those who refuse to see past their own, will find themselves rapidly losing credibility and relevance as the community steps past them, seeking a more just and egalitarian future.

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3 thoughts on “Pantheacon Fallout and the Seeds of Community 

  1. This is beautifully written, it and soothes my burning soul. Tears are drying on my face now because of this piece. The last paragraph really got me.

    Thank you. So much.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. About 15 years ago I worked in a department where I was the only White person, and
    everyone else including my manager was Black. I had very good relationships there and enjoyed it.

    One day there was some downtime, and a conversion started about racism, and I just listened. At one point a younger msn named Andre turned to me and said “We didn’t mean you when talking about White people being racist, your the most not racist White guy I’ve ever met”.

    I thanked him, then said “If you think White people mistreat Blacks, you should see how they treat their own kind”.

    Andre replied “Yeah, that’s true. Y’all be disowning your own family and shit! “.

    At the core of the problem, I think, isn’t race or privilege. It’s the idea that the person next to you is less than human. Less than you, Less than anything but what work or value can be extracted. Nothing but a resource to be exploited.

    If you want to address the core of the issue, this is where it is. Anything else, isms and discrimination, all come out of a culture that *encourages* us to treat people as disposable. To value not themselves, but what they can do for us.

    Like

    • Hi Ed,
      I agree that the root of all of these “-ism”s is the dehumanization and “othering” of members of our communities. I also believe that this type of “othering” is hard wired into our primate mind. That’s why this process of community building is so difficult for us, and also why it’s so important an exercise to take part in.

      Like

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