Pantheacon, the largest indoor gathering of Pagans in North America, is no more. For a variety of reasons, Glenn Turner, the organizer, has decided to close it down and is retiring.
I have been associated with PCon for a very long time. I attended the first one (I think), and have been to most of them over the 20-odd years it continued. It was a chance to see friends I didn’t see otherwise, to learn new things, meet new people, enjoy performances and generally to enjoy a majority-Pagan space for awhile, in stark contrast to the ordinary world.
In recent years, it has provided opportunities to present and share about Atheopaganism, to meet fellow Atheopagans, and to discuss our growing path.
The love was palpable. The parties were epic. (Many of) the rituals were powerful.
It was a good time.
This year was no exception. I enjoyed myself greatly, our round-table discussion on nontheist Paganism was packed, one of the rituals I led went terrifically (the other was kind of meh, to be honest). I was glad to be there.
That said, Pantheacon had its problems. It was slow to respond to problems with bigotry and lack of safety on the part of oppressed minorities, and as a for-profit enterprise, it was not in any way transparent about its finances nor its decision making.
I have written before about how the Pagan community is changing. While there is a movement to have a new event in the same hotel and over the same weekend, but under new vision and management, next year, I believe that we have simply become too big for a single major event to accommodate us either in our diversity nor in our numbers.
I think and hope that smaller regional events will begin to connect Pagans from their local areas not only with one another, but with their land and biome. Certainly the experience of traveling long distances to get together with fellow Pagans does not bring us into closer encounter with the Earth.
Accordingly, I am organizing an event in June called Midsummer Dawn. Held in a group campground at a magnificent local state park, Sugarloaf Ridge, it will be an opportunity to get together with like-minded others, hike in magnificent country, enjoy one another’s company and conduct a couple of evening rituals.
Midsummer Dawn will be simple. It will have no workshops, nor vending spaces. It’s just a camping trip intentionally focused on Pagan folk, with some rituals to connect us with one another and with the land. While not the four-day rush of Pantheacon, I think it will take us into joyful places together.
It will certainly have a far smaller ecological footprint, and that counts for a lot in my book.
What I most loved about Pantheacon was seeing my friends, and making new ones. In California—because fire is such a danger in the summer—it is very difficult to create a large outdoor festival for Pagans, so we have to go small. I hope my friends and folks I don’t yet know will take a chance on a low-cost event like Midsummer Dawn.
In the meantime: thanks, Glenn. Thanks to all the many volunteers who made the event possible over all those years. Thanks to those who sought to keep it accountable to progressive Pagan values. Thanks to those who helped to create the many golden moments I will cherish from Pantheacon.