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I drove up with some recently-made friends of ours, Mike and Megan, to San Jose for this big annual pagan event. We were all nervous; all three of us are pretty "normal" and were wondering if we'd be caught from Friday until Sunday with all kinds of stinky religion fanboys/fangirls/fanbeings. While there were a few odourous types, and some walking cliche's, overall we had a good time and would go again.

The dealers' room was pretty heavy on the Wicca stuff, but as a few of my friends pointed out, the dealers bring what sells, and Wiccans apparently have money burning holes in their pockets. I bought a plaque of Bacchus and a statue of the antlered man from the Gundestrup Cauldron at the table run by Oberon and Morning-Glory Zell, along with an anthology from their historic magazine "Green Egg". I bought a Holy Card Tarot deck which is brilliant; Steve oohed and aahed over it when I got back and showed it to him. And that was about it for the dealers' room.

I did pick up some books from P. Sufenas Virius Lupus because he's the guy who taught my online Reconstruction as Methodology class. Since he's a professor in liberal arts he doesn't make a lot of money, so buying books puts food on his table. He does have a PhD in Celtic folklore and we got a kick out of addressing each other as "Doctor". I also briefly met Mojo and Sparrow, the Vancouver hosts of the podcast The Wigglian Way.

Friday I got into a talk on Sacred Trees with Diana Paxson, but Steve called me and it was important so I had to leave. (It was very good news, but nothing final, so I will share later.) I wandered the hospitality rooms sponsored by various groups, but it overall felt really cliquish. Except for the Earth Medicine room; this was run by Native people and they were great. Some conversations were disrupted by members of the Wannabe tribe, but at least one of them brought s'mores, so that was a good thing.

Next I attended the Military Pagans panel, which was Rev. Selena Fox taking notes on where we military people felt freedom of religion was being impinged in the armed forces. She also gave all of us veterans medals produced by Circle Sanctuary. They're nice too, metal and enamel with an acorn on them. I'm very proud of mine.

I had wanted to go to the Pomba Gira devotional, but when I saw the line outside my claustrophobia tapped me on the shoulder, so I went to the Lupercalia event instead. This was put on by the Ekklesia Antinoo, which is a Greco-Roman group dedicated to Antinous, the deified lover of Emperor Hadrian. I had a few off-putting moments because Catholicism derives so much of its ritual from Roman pagan ritual, so I had to remind myself that no, I wasn't at church and so I didn't need to cross myself when sprinkled with holy water.

The next day I started my day with a talk on Mithras and Mithraism, which was very interesting. There has been a fair bit of research done lately on Mithras, and the Tauroctony is apparently an astrological chart, not an illustration of a myth. Next was "Finding Freyr" with Diana Paxson again. This was a devotional to the golden god with the great big tonker of Norse religion. As such, it had solemn moments and lighthearted moments and raucous moments. It wasn't a reconstructionist Norse ceremony, but it was effective in making Freyr feel real and present. Although Mike, Megan, Sufenas and I had a snork at the ball-joint doll that someone had dressed up as Freyr. Megan particularly; she's really snarky in a fun way.

I went to Prudence Priest's Baltic Paganism talk and walked out. She had some really neat video of a Romuva wedding and May Day and Midsummer, but she cannot answer questions directly and keeps ending up talking about herself. It was frustrating and I gave up halfway through.

By the time I got to the next Ekklesia Antinoo ritual I was pretty worn out. This was a devotional about gods who are responsive to the lives, loves, sufferings and joys of LGBT people, with emphasis on the T. One transwoman just beamed all through it. This was the EA's response to the brouhaha with Z. Budapest being horrible about transpeople last year (Google it; there's a lot of pixels spilled about it.) It was a very moving event.

After that it was close to 9 pm, and Megan and Mike were already in our hotel room, in jammies, drinking beer and watching a Harry Potter film, so that's how I ended Saturday.

Sunday was a devotional to Columbia, who some people feel is the patron goddess of the U.S. This ended up being a devotional about immigration and ancestors, but that was okay. Lastly was a talk on the Black Madonna by Leni Hester. She wasn't used to public speaking and didn't have her material too well organized, so I very carefully summarized what I'd learned in the course of my master's degree. It came out all right; she has been to Montserrat in Spain, so she had that experience which I haven't and was able to talk about it. I came up at the end and asked if she was okay with me interjecting and she gave me a big hug.

8 hours later I was back in San Diego. Steve was still in Arizona, where he had gone to shoot in an action match, but I had the kitties.


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