This year my February was a bit ambitious. Every year I make a point to attend and to present at PantheaCon, the nations’s largest indoor Pagan event, held in San Jose, CA every President’s Day weekend. This is enough on its own, but this year I also went to ConVocation in Detroit, which is the following weekend. Here the report of back-to-back Cons commences!

This was my 13th year presenting at PantheaCon. Whether it has been participation in larger rituals, being on various panels, or offering my own workshops, rituals, and trance journeys, I have had the honor of being able to share my particular spiritual and magical interests with the Pagan public in a venue that is both diverse and far-reaching within the Pagan community. While most attendees are local to the San Francisco Bay Area, many people fly in from all over the world, some from as far away as Canada, Europe, or Australia. This year, in addition to offering a workshop and presenting a large ritual with my group, Black Rose, I also worked our vendor booth for The Mystic Dream, as well as hosted events and parties (including a release party for my new book) in our Black Rose Hospitality suite (which both rocked, by the way, just sayin’.) 😉 Needless to say, it was the busiest PCon I have had to date.

Altar to Diana at the Black Rose suite.

Diana, Goddess of the Moon.
Diana, Huntress of the night.
I am your priest, descend I pray,
And fill me with your silver light.

On Friday afternoon, Aurora, Jo, Circe, and Blaze (the “Priestesses of BlueRose”) assisted me in creating space for a trance journey to the Faery realm. I’ve led this particular journey several times, but over the years it has evolved to include more ritual elements to assist in the group process. The room was packed, every chair filled with many more participants sitting on the floor. Together we journeyed into the Underworld and sought the Faery Mound, where we asked to meet an ally and requested certain magical tools to help us deepen the work of connecting spiritually with the intelligences of the land.

Later that night the crew of Black Rose Bay Area offered, “The Black Rose Sabbatic Dance” a large ritual of transformation and flight which aimed at aligning the individual witch with the archetypal form of “the Witches’ Sabbat”, to meet with the Magister who is the “Devil” or “Man in Black”, a form of the Horned God, and tutelary spirit of the Black Rose coven. This began with a broom dance led by Devin Hunter (which I guess at this point has become a signature public ritual component of Black Rose, thanks to Devin’s previous training in color-guard). It was definitely a lot of fun to watch. We invoked the elemental Guardian Beasts and then Aurora invoked the ancestors, along with guest-priestesses (and talented dancers) Anaar and Tempest.

‘Black Rose Bay Area’ ritual team (L-R):
Aurora, Lynx, Circe, Lisa Dawn, Marcus Wolf, Devin Hunter, Storm Faerywolf, Blaze

Then came the invocation of Hecate, performed by Circe, who then prompted each participant to journey deep into themselves to catch a glimpse of their inner animal –their “fetch beast”– and then to shift into that form, as the witches of old. Then I took over, using my stang to lead the participants in their animal form to take flight as we tranced with the music and flew across the night to the mountaintop, where the bonfire burns, where the witches gather and perform their rites. We chanted and invoked the Magister, feeling his presence as we danced around a “bonfire” (crafted from yellow, orange, and red tule, with red LED lights) and the whole scene morphed into a big witchy dance party, complete with thumping electronic music. We danced for awhile… raising energy and just celebrating the lusty blessing of being alive… then were instructed to go to the flames… underneath which were several “wands”, each marked with their type of wood… a blessing from the Magister. The pace slowed, and then we began our journey back, taking our new found power.

But we weren’t done yet.  Guest priest, Jason Mankey was next, demonstrating to everyone on how to charge our new wands, with intent and power, especially in these dark times of political unrest, with the instruction to use our power to protect each other, the earth, and our Craft. It was a great time, and while there were a few minor glitches on our end of things (“Wait? Am I calling Air???”), the feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive.

Feeling political in the vending room.
Photo by Shelby O’Connely who also gifted me the shirt.

After that it was pretty much all about the smaller events hosted at our hospitality suite, running our store’s booth in the vendor room, and hosting our parties, both Saturday night (“The Black Rose Ball”) and Sunday night (“Black Rose Ball, Part 2: The Magister’s Revenge”; aka “What else are we going to do with all this alcohol?”). These were all great social opportunities for the con-gers to just hang out and talk in a casual setting, make some friends, and wear sassy clothes. And in the case of the parties, to share a drink (or two… or four) and maybe even run into some Pagan artists, authors, and other creatives while you are at it.

During the day, you could drop by and attend any number of offerings. We held an “open temple” in which angone could come by and talk about witchcraft, or ask questions about our Black Rose project. We had a couple of meet-ups for fans of the Modern Witch Podcast, and one for those interested in the Faery tradition. I signed books, talked to interested parties about witchcraft, politics, magic and much more.

A Tale of Two Christophers: Christopher Penczak and Christopher Silva

Christopher Penczak, Adam Sartwell, and Steven Kenson from the Temple of Witchcraft were there showing their support. They are some of my favorite people in the whole world. (And I’m loving Christopher’s new beard!)

I was very happy to have had the opportunity to formally meet Starhawk at one of our parties this year. I took the opportunity to introduce myself and welcome her to the event. (“Hello, Starhawk! You don’t know me, but I love you. I’m Storm Faerywolf and your work was very influential to me early on. Thank you for coming to my party.”) I should have asked to take a selfie with her, but I almost always forget to take pictures. Damn! Maybe next time. (Starhawk, if you’re reading this, I hope you had a nice time.)

Also in attendance were M. Macha NightMareJason Mankey, Thorn Mooney, Tomas Prower, and Laura Tempest Zakroff, plus a slew of others whom I am forgetting right now. The place was packed for much of the night.

Christopher Silva and myself. I may have had a drink or two by now.

Much love and gratitude to Lisa Dawn whose initial donation enabled us to supply the room and the parties with everything we needed to make the space what it was. Without you it would not have been possible. Thank you to everyone who donated to Black Rose, your donation goes toward us being able to do this all again next year. (And thank you, Christopher Silva for the use of the party photos. I’m glad to have met you and hope to have you back next year!)

I had a little celebration in our suite for the release of my new book, Betwixt and Between. There were even surprise cupcakes, provided by an employee of my store The Mystic Dream. They had fondant peacock feathers! (Squee!) (And… delicious. Thank you, Jessica!)

Peacock feather cupcakes? Yes, please.

I attended a couple parties at the Llewellyn suite, one for new releases which included my book, and another that was an “author-only” event, so I got to rub elbows with a slew of other Llewellyn authors. We each remarked at how much Llewellyn has changed over the years, especially since the 90’s, and how their level of quality-control has definitely been increasing. There are some really interesting books coming out of Llewellyn these days, and I’m glad to be a part of it.

Standing next to my book cover poster I feel like a real author.
Photo by Elysia Gallo.

Because of my level of busyness I was unable to attend anything that anyone else did… but at least I was able to reconnect with some old friends, make some new ones, and even wore a kilt for the first time. All in all it was a very sucessful con.

Then it was home for a few days and then Devin and I flew off to Detroit for our very first ConVocation.

We flew in Thursday, and met up halfway with Tempest, with whom we shared the remainder of our flight. It was great to get some (non-party, non-ritual) time to catch up and to plan what was to be the first ConVo for all of us. We were picked up by the fabulous Jacki Smith (of Coventry Creations fame) and then we met Heather Killen (of Violet Flames Gifts and the Earth Warrior’s Festival) with whom we shared a room and some time in the vendor room.

Heather Killen and myself, rocking the vending booth for Violet Flame Gifts.

That night I was to present an intro to the Faery tradition… but I started to come down with something, the dreaded “Con Crud” (it’s real, folks) and I had to do some self-care to be able to present. But I was successful and spoke to a small but full room of interested witches who came to learn more about this wacky west-coast Faery thing. I talked about our history and some basic practices and took questions, before leading a Soul Alignment and a Waters of Purity Rite (aka Kala). I got to see my friend Winter, however briefly (he also came down with the “Crud”), and then, as I was feeling better, a margarita was waiting for me, and then it was off to bed.

The drink was probably not the wisest choice in hindsight, as I woke up feverish in the middle of the night. That Crud had come back with a vengeance! I spent nearly all day Friday confined to my room, sleeping, with only a brief excursion to the hotel restaurant to eat meals, but by that evening, after having a steak (RED MEAT, GOOD!) I was starting to get my life force back, albeit slowly. Saturday I taught the Rite of the Seven Jars, a Faery rite involving Melek Ta’us in his role as redeemer, and we journeyed into Hell to assist in its transformation and the redemption of those trapped there. An intense rite for some, there were many tears, and I was privately shared some individuals experiences afterward. Later that night it was a special event of the Witches of the West Coast, as Devin, Tempest, and I participated in Jason Mankey’s “Witch Cult” Ritual, based on Margaret Murray’s accounts. I’m pretty sure I was invited just to be polite (and perhaps to keep the West Coast theme alive) as there was no speaking role for me, a feature that provided me a good amount of relief, since I was still sick and couldn’t do words well. I was a “ritual waiter” (I named myself, thank you very much) which meant I was to pass out the Sabbatic wine and just otherwise look cool. Jason embodied the “Grand Magister”, the same type of figure as described in the ritual above, Devin was “Robin Goodfellow”, and Tempest was “the Maiden” (Hey, blame Murray) and they both rocked it. I had a blast. Jason knows how to work a room, both with thoughtful interjections as well as with well-timed humor. I’m looking forward to working with him ritually again.

Tempest and I getting ready to help perform the ‘Witch Cult’ ritual.
Tempest is rocking those antlers big time.

Sunday afternoon I sat in on Devin’s workshop, “Ecstatic Witchcraft and the Gates of Heka” which perked me up with some ecstatic dancing. He lead the group in some specific breathing techniques and then we engaged in dancing while he instructed us on the movement of energy. It was definitely a hit.

Since I didn’t get to attend anything else, the con was really all about meeting people, and I am pleased to be able to say that everyone was so kind and welcoming. The convention seemed well-run, and there were many different offerings. I’d say it felt about a third of the size of PantheaCon, which was nice. Devin and I both sold out of our books which was even nicer. 🙂

Since PantheaCon is local for me it’s definitely going to take precedence over any other Pagan event in February, but I’m actively looking into how to make another trip to ConVo financially viable for me. Keeping my fingers crossed for next year!