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Corridors of Power: Pantheacon 2011

Morrigan by Jade Moon

Kings arise to the battle! Queens arise to the battle! 
We rise up! With the power of the spear. 
 Rise up! With the strength of the sword.
 Rise up! With the courage in our hearts.
 Rise up! Rise!

I haven’t posted in the last several days because Pantheacon: Walking the Talk occurred last weekend and I was there along with well over 2,000 other people. Three themes rose up for me during this year’s Con: gender, service, and power. I want to treat the last for right now, saving the other two for a different time.

In the hallways, after classes or panels, at parties, over wine or meals… I listened to people’s stories, lent energy when that felt necessary, relied upon the kindness of friends and strangers when I needed it… and walked the corridors of power with a goodly number at my side.

While teaching “Battle Goddess: Self-Defense and General Kickassery” – in the presence of Freyja and the Morrigan, and 150 or so Gods made manifest in flesh – I made a throw away comment, as I so often do. A little humor, sometimes grounded in reality, helps to lighten things up. When teaching a defensive block, I paired it with the words, “No thank you” and said “When Fred Phelps comes at you, you can make this motion and say ‘No, Thank you!’ and send him back to Westboro Baptist Church.” People laughed, then went back to practice. We taught each other to break out of choke holds. We struggled. We moved with our energy until we shone like suns. We had a great time.

When talking to people afterwards, one man, wearing leathers and carrying a helmet, said that he was one of the veterans who protects funerals from Westboro Baptist. He had watched the whole class, but sat out on the exercises, giving me the reason that his training in martial arts was too different than the techniques we were offering and he didn’t want to mess anyone up. In private, another reason came out: he was healing broken ribs from his last encounter with Fred Phelp’s people. He had taken the baseball bat wielding man to the ground, and held him until the police came. He then told me, “Both my brothers died in Iraq.” My throwaway comment all of a sudden took on meaning. It was real. It had impact. I hugged and thanked him, wondering yet again at how everything we do matters.

You never know when what you do or say will have a profound effect upon another. Do what you need to do. Say what you need to say. Stand – like the citizens of Wisconsin, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya… – for what your body, mind, heart, and soul inspire you to.

A lot of courage was shown in that class: rape counselors sharing tips, abuse survivors facing the very attacks they had suffered in the past, children and their parents training together, to protect themselves from bullies… Several people spoke of wanting to organize trainings for people with physical disabilities. I left inspired, feeling the Goddesses we had invoked into our space watching over us in blessing.

Then I sat on several panels: Hindu/Pagan Dialogue, Dion Fortune, Pagans and New Media… In all of them, I found myself slightly fractious, a little less overtly compassionate and graceful than I sometimes manifest. I wasn’t sure what was happening. Energy was building in me, and around me. It eventually became clear: It was Sunday night, time for “Call of the Battle Raven,” a devotional ritual to the Morrigan, where we were called upon to face fear, find our heroic hearts, and make pledges upon Her sword. We did. My sister Morpheus writes eloquently of her experience here. My co-priestesses and I – and a capacity crowd of 500 – raised massive amounts of energy in that ritual. People were coming up to us all night, at parties, in the hallways, in the cafe the next morning… all wanting to thank us, to process, to get advice, or tell us stories. And the effect of the ritual upon myself was instantaneous. After I left the ballroom, having tended to those whom I could, I felt buoyant, warm, and in love with the world. It was then I realized that my fractiousness earlier had all come from moments when I felt myself or another not walking our talk! The Morrigan was manifesting, flowing through me and the other priests, taking us into the working whether we knew it or not. My psyche was preparing for the call, the charge, the energy that was to be channeled and released. I wanted everyone else to take part, but did not quite know it yet, so – despite my yoga, weightlifting, meditation, breath work, and re-centering – the sharp comments sometimes emerged, along with a certain amount of my impatience. If you got caught in that, my apologies, though it is equally likely that it was noticed only by myself and my partners. Here is what I think was happening:

In the midst of this building power, I wanted myself and everyone around me to stop for a moment. To listen to what we were saying. To stand tall, as best we could. I wanted us, somewhere in a corner of my soul, to Walk our Talk – which was the theme of this year’s gathering. I wanted those reminders, everywhere. In the midst of this, I’m sure I missed several opportunities myself. And so I would recenter, and so I would return, opening further to the flow of power. This makes me wonder what others were doing, how they were handling the mandate of this year’s Pantheacon. I’d love for us to pool our stories so that we can better help each other do this work to which we feel so called.

Where do you find your power? When you need the strength to stand up for yourself, or for justice, what is the platform you stand upon? Where do you get your support? How do you share this with others?

Magick works. Intention is everything. It was no mistake that the ritual Morpheus, Sharon, and I organized with our stellar crew was one in which we all wore black, and that in the next ballroom over, Syliva Brallier and her people were all in white. Balance was in the making. We were all participating in the intention that Glenn Turner and the other organizers of Pantheacon set when they chose the theme. And the group of us that answered the call of the Morrigan carried this into the Con. Every single priest and priestess manifested Her power, preparing to channel it into the group that was practically pounding the walls in the hallway outside the room while we were readying the space.

My favorite moment of power, out of the many I witnessed and took part in over the weekend? When I walked out, and saw the line of people singing raucous songs to keep themselves entertained, and felt their energy. They were 6 deep, stretching all the way down the hall to the mezzanine. I started a tone, signaling to those closest to begin with me. The tone rolled all the way down that massive line, until all that wild energy was channeled into one voice of power. Then, after signaling for quiet, like a conductor of a choir, in the silence that followed we found our feet and connected to our cores. We were ready, all 500 or more of us, including those who were turned away when the ballroom filled. We were prepared to face ourselves, to face our Gods, to face fear, and find our heroic hearts.

With magick like that available, we can be ready for anything. We can help each other, this planet, and the people, animals, and plants that dwell here with us. We can rise up and answer the call.

With you in power – T. Thorn Coyle

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