So, next week I will go to Pantheacon 2019. I am a volunteer on staff, which is how I am able to afford to go.
I always have mixed feelings about going. Part of me is excited to see friends, meet new ones, and share Atheopaganism with others. Part of me is anxious: will people show up for my events? Will I be challenged or heckled?
The usual brain chatter, honestly. We all have it.
This year, though, I come at Pantheacon at a somewhat different angle. In previous years, I have thought of PCon as “encountering The Pagan Community”. But now I realize that there is no such singular thing. Just as Paganism is a constellation of religious paths, the Pagan community is a cluster of different and sometimes-overlapping communities, some of which share nothing more than self-identification as Pagan. The “culture” we share is very limited in scope. Pantheacon provides us an opportunity to “cross-pollinate” a bit in sharing our perspectives and practices with new folks, but mostly, we hang with our friends.
I find this perspective helpful because it makes it clear that “the Pagan community” is not the primary audience or target for my writing and work. It is the Atheopagan community–and those who might consider joining it–who I actually keep in mind as I develop these things.
In a community of somewhat overlapping circles of practice and belief, there will be many different motivations for participation. Some in the Pagan community are devoted to their paths as true personal and spiritual growth explorations; others are attracted to the culture of Paganism and may not even have altars or participate in rituals. Some are drawn to the prospect of “magical” power; others, to the idea of reverent devotion: perhaps to gods, perhaps to the Earth and Cosmos. Some find being a Pagan a source for creativity and craft; some, honestly, just like to party with us.
All of that is okay.
The particular folks I’m most interested in talking with and to are those who embrace and pursue the spirituality of the living natural world: who revel and steep themselves in the truths of this magnificent Earth. Who are content with it, neither needing nor seeking augmentations imagined nor ephemeral.
Those for whom the miracle of Sun on soil is, after all, enough to swell with joy and wonder, and for whom a path of fierce kindness, of humble effort, of a raised voice for justice and a gentle stride on the Earth are a calling and an aspiration.
It’s not for everyone. I wish it were, because we need as many as possible today in service to the Sacred Earth and to a more just and kind world. But people are as they are, and Atheopaganism, like any Pagan path, is an “opt-in” arrangement: a choice.
So, I’m going to Pantheacon this week.
And though some of those attending will not be my audience, will not be open to what I have to offer, a much higher percentage of them than of the general population will be. It’s for them, and for my friends that I go, and to contribute to the larger ongoing conversation of that constellated and shaggy crowd, and on the odd chance that a person or two will find what we are doing, we Atheopagans, to be intriguing or exciting or to feel like coming home.
Time to go and pack.