Full disclosure: I have volunteered with Paganicon on the Marketing Committee. However, no one has approved this post. It is purely my opinion and experience.
Paganicon is a 3 day Pagan gathering that is on the weekend of the Spring Equinox that is back for the first time in person since the world went pear shaped. Over the course of 3 days there was programming on a wide variety of topics, a vendor room that insisted on taking my money, an art show full of pretty things, a healer room, and evening concerts and party rooms. In the days of Covid a negative test was required of everyone and mask wearing was mandatory.
To sum up my experience at Paganicon: it is good to be back. I did go to Convergence last August, but that was first time I have ever been to that convention, and while I had a blast it wasn’t a chance to catch up with old friends or explore paganism. It felt like 2019 was last year instead of 3 years ago, and Paganicon 2021 left me hungering to meet people in person again.
Like any big conference, it was hard to decide what to do. There were a couple of frustrating scheduling snafus and navigation difficulties (I missed the opening ritual because I couldn’t figure out where it was, gave up and went to dinner.) I got a reiki session and a reading (not back to back), and my big complaint is that the healers and readers are in one room. Because they share a space, when I was laying down for my Reiki I heard snatches of other people’s readings, and when I had my reading it was interrupted by the singing bowl of someone doing Reiki.
I enjoyed listening to the fabulous Kelden talk about folk magic and the witches sabbat, which is the topic of his new book that I picked up a copy of and got signed. I enjoyed listening to Lilith Dorsey talking about Voodoo and Afro-Caribbean Paganism, and unfortunately she didn’t have any copies of the book of hers I really wanted. While I didn’t go to a topic by Jason Mankey, I did get his new book the Horned God of the Witches signed. I am not Wiccan, but he knows about the history of the Craft and is always entertaining and informative.
The art room had Shauna Aura Knight who along with her books has many gorgeous sketch/notebooks that I must get and then can’t think of something special enough to use them for, although I also got a snake bracelet that went perfect with my costume (I don’t know why but snakes were calling to me that weekend…) I also bought a mask at Burton Art Studios. I was looking for a mask to go with my masquerade party vampire dress, and he made a red, black, and silver mask for me that night that was fabulous.
In the vendor room, Freya’s Folk had lovely amber pieces at some of the best prices (disclosure: the owner is a friend of a friend and I helped set up her booth). Little Dragon Designs had weighted stuffed dragons to help people with anxiety as like a weighted blanket, and 3 of them found their way home with me. Local stores the Eye and online Spirit Parlour had their selection of candle and oil goodies, and Devonshire Incense and Soap had their soap and bath goodies that I go gaga over. (I limited myself to a sampler of bath teas…)
On Friday night I missed Kari Tauring but I saw Wendy Rule, who performed some songs from her album Persephone which is an opera of the store of Hades abducting Kore who becomes Persephone. Her songs were moving and richly dark. Saturday night was the Masquerade Ball and party time. I loved my outfit but was busy hanging out and didn’t enter the costume contest.
To compare to 2019, there definitely wasn’t as much programming. There were far fewer rituals—I remember them being constant, and this year outside of the main rituals there was only a handful. I wish there had been a chance to do a guided meditation or some other ritual, but all of the ones were for gods I don’t work with (and am not interested in working with) or at a time something much cooler was going on. As we all get back into the swing of doing stuff that involves crowds of other people, I need to work on my grounding and centering. But the Reiki definitely helped. Socializing in large groups feels like a muscle that has atrophied.
I can’t say that being slightly below 2019 in terms of people attending and activities was completely a bad thing. I actually felt I could see more of everything that was going on outside of programming topics, and feel like it was a little easier to meet and find people. Hopefully next year will be another Paganicon in full swing as we move out of this time of uncertainty.