[Note: This is a copy of the report I did up for my pal Rebecca at The Magical Buffet...I'm also posting it here, because I'm still getting over my con-cold and don't have the energy to write up a whole new one! But please feel free to stop by over there and say hi, too... http://themagicalbuffet.com ]
Pantheacon 2011 Report
I don’t much like crowds. Or traveling. So why do I haul my witchy butt across the entire expanse of the country to go to Pantheacon? Because it’s worth it.
Pantheacon is the largest gathering of Pagans/Witches/Wiccans and assorted Heathens in the country, with well over 2,000 people attending over the course of four days in February. (I heard a rumor that they hit 3,000 this year for the first time, but I don’t know whether or not that’s true.) It is held at the beautiful Doubletree Hotel in San Jose, California, where they give you a warm chocolate chip cookie when you check in. Yum.
This was my third Pantheacon. I first went in 2008, after my book Circle, Coven & Grove came out. I had such a blast, I went back last year, and then again this year. My traveling companion from my first visit, my step-daughter Jenn, loved it so much, she actually moved to San Jose after last year’s con, so one of my perks was getting to spend some time with her. I also got to meet up with my fiction-writing partner, Lisa DiDio, who lives in Northern CA and took the train down to stay with me. We had a blast together.
On the official side of my visit to Pantheacon, I got to go to two great workshops (they literally offer HUNDREDS over the course of the 4 days, including classes given by such Pagan notables as Starhawk, and everyday folks who are willing to share their wisdom with others); a fabulous chanting workshop with the amazing Margot Adler, and a lovely, healing Pagan Death Passages ritual with the also-amazing Selena Fox (I had lost my beloved grandmother less than a week before PCon, so the timing was perfect).
Both these ladies are wise and warm and gracious, and I was beyond pleased to be able to spend a little time in their company.
I also took part in two Llewellyn events; a “Meet the Authors” and 110 Year Anniversary celebration (with cake) on Saturday night, and a Publishing Panel on Sunday morning. [I met a great new Llewellyn author, Melanie Maquis, at the Meet the authors event…you are going to want her new book, Bag of Tricks, when it comes out in June. I’m reading an advance copy right now, so I can write a blurb for it, and it is fabulous!]
I also led a workshop of my own, called “Spiritual Spring Cleaning.” There were about 80 people attending, and we had a great time. Raised a lot of good spring cleaning energy, too!
Of course, no trip to Pantheacon would be complete without spending time with my wonderful Llewellyn editor, Elysia Gallo. This year, Lisa and I decided to look for a really fun place to go out to dinner that first night, and we ended up at a Moroccan restaurant called, fittingly enough, Moracco’s. We dragged Elysia out with us, along with my step-daughter Jenn and her friend Madeleine. And, oh, man—the food! If you are even in San Jose, you have to track this place down. It was some of the best food any of us had ever had. We got a variety of things and put them in the middle of the table to share, which made it both cheaper and a lot more fun.
The deserts alone made it worth the trip. And the company was as good as it gets. We had a blast.
That’s Jenn, Lisa, me, and Elysia at Moracco’s.
All in all, it was another great Pantheacon. I got to see old friends, make some new ones, visit with authors I admired, meet a few of my fans in person (some of whom I’d already “met” on Facebook or Twitter), eat some great food, and even learn a thing or two. It was worth pushing myself outside of my comfort zone to do it, and I recommend it highly to anyone with the slightest interest in Paganism. Bring an open mind, as much energy as you can muster, and a few dollars to spend on goodies in the Vendors room. (Pagan chocolates…that’s all I’m saying.) And if I’m there next year, be sure to come on over and say hi!