Journey Journal: Pantheacon 2015, Four Jacks, A Queen and The Wheel of the Year + Ritual and Warding
I had the pleasure of my first Pantheacon (PCON) this last February. One might think that as a Californian, originally from Northern California, this would be a CON I was regular about, however up until about 3 or 4 years ago I was fairly solitary in my spiritual pursuits choosing instead a less public life and more friend and family life, for no other reason than I preferred the smaller workings and gatherings. Honestly I just can't think of a good reason that I have missed out on such a good time.
This year with my dad's birthday on the horizon, right near PCON, and some friends both distant and local going, and factor in that Ayamanatara and I were in line as potential presenters if someone couldn't make their commitment--which by the way I learned was a bigger achievement than I imagined. Gather that I'm new at this public stuff, again. Please pinch me. I just had to go. We didn't end up presenting mostly because of material costs and the nature of our ritual contingent on a head count, and so grateful but declining, continued with the learning and festivities. Two of my most important pulls to Pantheacon were two very good friends, sister-friend Kaynek and another who was presenting several rituals, as well as hosting a hospitality suite for their organization.
But I'm not here to write about connecting with people I love, and long time friends, because I could go on and on about that, or my dad's birthday and our time together. I'm writing about the ritual and the panel I attended because they both deserve attention, and I liked them. And they are both important to me, and you.
Saturday, the only day I could attend Pantheacon, I arrived with Kaynek and Ivette to the thing. Huge. We caught up, chatted, met with mutual and new friends, and planned out our day. It's amazing how much is happening in one day, and how impossible it is to attend it all. Note to self, buy tickets ahead and plan out the calendar in advance. I wanted to attend Christopher Penczak's talk and guided visualization, Four Jacks and a Queen, and Kaynek had spied out a panel Warding & Ritual Safety Panel, with Maia Sumthingr, River Devora, Branwen, and Shauna Aura Knight. I'll get to that one, it was good.
Four Jacks, A Queen & The Wheel of the Year
The Wheel of the Year has become a fundamental concept for my work. It spiritualized the cycle of the seasons and allows me to be a part of the turning of the wheel. In magick, in this case my spiritual practice, I am ritualizing my connection to the elements in my life, and taking part through my senses in the area through the timing of the tides.
Pantheacon: "The God of Witches turns the Wheel of the Year through his birth, life, death and rebirth. Often seen as a God of the Waxing and Waning light, of Oak and Holly, he can also be seen as a God of Vegetation and a God of Horned Animals. Explore the Vegetative God as manifest through four Jacks—Green, Corn, Lantern and Frost—associated with Beltane, Lammas, Samhain and Imbolc, as they turn the Wheel of the Year for the Great Queen of the Earth! Presentation doors closed at start time for deeper vision work ritual."
In December I joined an online class through the Temple of Witchcraft to get deeper into this practice, and if you remember from the later part of last year as I gave up the give away of Daily Tarot musings, practicing my craft to deepen my work was one of my bigger goals. I think that there is always room for moments to go further into the mystical experience and having a model helps me to catalyze the desire and the moment, through practical hands on means, and draws much of what I know about healing and intuition into method. Next time this one rolls around I highly recommend it.
In this year-long online class presented by the Temple of Witchcraft’s Sagittarius Ministry and teacher Christopher Penczak, go deeper into the soul and spirit world through the Turning of the Wheel of the Year. Examine specific mystical teachings involving the approach towards the Wheel found in the Temple of Witchcraft, yet adaptable and inspiring for your own personal practice and traditions. Learn more about the annual journey of the Goddess and God of the Wheel as they shift their forms from Mother and Child to Lovers, Monarchs, Sacrifice and Mourner and Hidden Ones. Work with some of the Sabbatic deities most often associated with the Holidays – Brid, Ostara, Bel, Lugh, Mabon, Modron, Morrighan and Dagda. [LINK]
Having a method, for me, is essential. And I think that it also helps me to become better at what I do. It hones and expands my skills.
Four Jacks, A Queen and The Wheel of The Year was an exciting chance to see someone I love, and take part in circle with others who also want to be a part of the turning of the wheel. What made this particular speak and visualization interesting was the Green Man aspect of the journey around the sun. The Four Jacks as four faces of the death and resurrected deity in the faces of the Four Jacks, and the central tree or living nature, the Goddess.
Finding the face of God in nature, in various aspects such as Jack Frost, who for me has the psychic imprint of the nature that will rise in the spring, or Jack Green who represents the greening power of nature bursting forth was intriguing. It added a lot to my writing. The meditation itself with Goddess as the center or world tree, creatrix, sustainer, destroyer places the earth, in reverent center.
"Veriditas is the marriage of two latin words: Green and truth. Coined by the 12th Century abbess Hildegard Von Bingen , the word Veriditas describes nature's divine healing power, transferred from plants to humans... The Greening/Healing power of the God in plants.
-- Queering Christianity: Hildegard regards Christ as the "greening of greeness" (Pg 69).
It's tangible spirituality. It relates to the planet, and helps me stay focused on the present cycle and season. The tides as Christopher explained them. I think the imagery is important because it brings ones awareness into the elements of life, some of which are critically changing, faster and faster, all around us. I think it's important to understand the wheel animistic, to bring consciousness back into nature as a living being, and we as the small beings we are on the surface of a vast organism.
Warding and Ritual Safety
The second event I attended was a panel on Warding and Ritual Safety. Not what I expected, in fact I didn't even know that there were real Warders and Tenders involved in ritual.
Pantheacon: "Rituals can have lasting emotional and magical impacts on the participants. But how can we ensure that impact is positive? Is it even possible to ensure that, and if so, whose job is it? Our experienced and opinionated panelists will discuss ritual safety with a focus on warding and give their answers to questions such as: What type of warding is required for different types of ritual? What items, techniques, or procedures should warders use? What can our gods do to help us ward? What non-magical things should we do to help keep our participants safe?"
I learned a lot here as well. This panel, hosted by Ted Infinity, with Maia Sumthigr, River Devora, Branwen & Shauna Aura Knight was fantastic not only because of their unique perspectives into averting simple but potentially bad accidents, the nature of a Rituals Aspect, meaning the divinity or spirit involved in the ritual, but also for the no-nonsense practical perspectives of being folks involved with spiritual matters and dealing with people often in altered states of awareness.
My take away had many notes especially about my ritual and healing practices. This was a pane of serious professionals who were very matter of fact about the nature of their practice, the diversity was enlightening, and their experience and approaches to safety, tending participants, and handling potential hazards. Shauna Aura Knight had a funny (in retrospect) story about ritual fire, and how quickly that can get out of hand.
As a massage therapist I'm insured but I make the extra effort to clean and clear my space, carpet floors where bare feet my step--I don't want slips-- and constantly check in with my patients. When I lead meditation or ritual, part of my job is making sure that everyone is in their body; but I found some of my own weak spots as I listened and compared to my work. For instance I can learn to give better detail about the step by step processes of a meditation or ritual so that participants can better decide if it is the right event for themselves. "Healing circle" says something but indicating what sort of healing, what kind of environment, and adding essential details to give anyone thinking of coming will not only prepare the interested, but probably draw in those who could really benefit from the work.
Good food for thought. Lots of note taking. Yes, I have work to do myself.
We all do.
Pantheacon is a unique event. I missed the after parties, healing rooms, hospitality suites, more socializing, and many other wonderful discussions and classes. I did have some second-hand exposure to things that had simmered up in the community. I did get to see old friends, heartwarming, and meet a few new ones.
I wont be missing Pantheacon in 2016.
- More about Christopher Penczak here: http://christopherpenczak.com/
- Temple of Witchcraft here: http://templeofwitchcraft.org/ and I'd like to mention again that I hope to spend the next two or three years continuing my study with the ToW so that I can bring Temple Events and Wheel of the Year events to the Los Angeles area!
- Full video recording of Warding and Ritual Safety here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o8lHIlKSuTA
My love to you,
Scott K Smith
ealer. Intuitive. Artist
© 2015, Scott K Smith. All rights reserved.