I went down to the revival, to give my soul a chance….
This weekend, in a hotel in San Jose, California, the Pagans gathered. This was to be my 12th year attending Pantheacon. My first was my first year here in California, I had only been living here a few months when I drove into San Francisco to meet people I had only known from the internet and that weekend changed my life.
I was in a transitional phase, not just because of the move and the new job and all that went along with that, but I had completed what I saw as my initial learning phase of embracing of paganism. I was ready to take the next step, to find my place in a new community, to seek out the teachers and learning that would take me the next step.
I believed that I had “recovered” from the spiritual trauma of my past, and thus was free to throw my arms open to the spiritual work of the future. I had yet to be claimed by the Morrigan. I had yet to really, firmly decide what path I wanted to walk from there.
In that first Pantheacon, I found community, people so like me and so vibrant and alive. I found education, and an energy I remembered from back in my tent revival days. I also found myself sitting in meditation that went far off what the guide was saying and took me to an unfamiliar landscape within myself where my spirit guides asked me a simple question that would have profound impact on the rest of my life.
“Are you ready?”
So caught up in the joy and wonderment of finding my tribe, of soaking in the power and energy of so many gathered together for similar purpose, I sang out a resounding “YES!” without really giving a lot of thought to asking what I was supposed to be ready for.
It was barely three weeks later that the Morrigan found me and I set out on the path I walk still today.
Now, heading into Pantheacon this last week, I was dragging my feet. In part it was due to the fact that I was going to have to drive back and forth from home all weekend, because I didn’t have the money for a hotel room. But there was also a sense of dread, foreboding. I have been very lax in my spiritual practice this last year (or more) and I have been feeling a deep call to service that I have been ignoring or pushing aside.
I knew that the time was coming I was going to have to face it, embrace it, fulfill it. I also had no clue what that service could be. I was out of ideas, I was resistant.
I had no idea that in many ways what I was feeling was a call home.
Saturday at Pantheacon, I chose to put myself in a ritual that I knew would make me uncomfortable. I’ve tried to go before to this particular ritual, but had always backed away. See this ritual is based on the old tent revival format, uses adapted songs that I sang back in the day, used the tone of voice I remember well…and while the entire content of the songs, of those voices, was Pagan, it wasn’t the content I was having trouble with. At least not the content of the songs or “sermon”.
The contents of me, however…that was another story.
As I sat there I was brought face to face with part of myself I had long put away, scars I long thought healed came open and bled…it wasn’t painful necessarily, it was heart breaking in some ways, it was unexpected and not entirely welcome, it demanded my attention.
When the ritual was over, I tried to shove it all back in under the scar tissue, smooth it over, forget it, go back to my life. Of course, it’s never that easy once you’re awake, going back to sleep becomes problematic. Every where I went, every person I spoke with, every class or ritual I attended for the rest of the day kept bringing it back to the fore.
I chose not to go to the Morrigan ritual on Saturday, because I knew she would reinforce everything the tent revival ritual brought up, so I went with a dear friend to something called Papa Ghede’s Bone Yard Boogie for some good ole jazz in a ritual format…and found myself singing revised hymns that had once been a big part of my Christian practice.
It was as I was driving home, processing the day, that a few epiphanies happened. I found myself a focus for the year ahead. I found my path back to service, not a new service either, but a return to my Pagan roots, to that first place of calling.
So, I owe gratitude to those who made my Saturday at Pantheacon an uncomfortable one…whether in ritual or in conversation. I have heard you. I have taken note.
The coming months will have their own challenges as I revive my daily practice, as I study and prepare, as I take care of myself so that I may one day soon take care of others again.