Pagan Conferences: Why Would Any Thinking Person Willingly Go?



I’m heading out tomorrow for Sacred Space, and I thought that it might be worth discussing some common-sense techniques for getting through a Pagan conference.

I came to Paganism via books, back in the days before the internet, back when I lived in an isolated, rural area.  So I’d been reading ABOUT Witches and other Pagans for a number of years before I ever actually MET real Witches and other Pagans.  And, or course, the reality could never have met my fantasies.  Here, I’d been reading these descriptions of perfect love and perfect trust in Drawing Down the Moon and these lovely notions of religion in action in Spiral Dance and The Chalice and the Blade, and then, there they were, real people, with all their warts, not living up to my high, illusionary ideals.

I was not amused.  I spent a long time secured away with only a small group of wonderful Witches and ignoring the larger Pagan community.  I got over it.

I’ve found, INTJ that I am, that it helps me very much to book a hotel room, even if the conference is not too far away from my house.  I can retreat to my room for lunch and dinner, get away from everything between sessions, avoid the noisy, evening party.  Pee in private.  Go to sleep right away without having to drive home and process.  Take very long, very hot baths.

This is mostly a personal preference, but I attend very few public rituals.  I opt for lectures instead.  It’s easier for me to control my reactions and to monitor how much I’m letting other people affect me.  I’ve certainly made exceptions, but I’ve made them consciously, and I’d never attend more than one public ritual a day.   You never know where those people have been. 😉

I bring a glass water bottle, one of the kinds with a plastic sleeve, so that I can stay hydrated without using a hundred paper or plastic cups.  I drink a LOT of water.

When I first get to the conference, I check into my room, put stuff away, cast a circle, and then go outside to make friends with the local landbase, watershed, foodshed, trees, dirt.  I bring some offerings from home and leave them wherever is appropriate.  I try each morning, before everything starts, to go back outside to a special tree, or body of water, or some place that calls to me and to spend some time in communion with the Powers, and Spirits, and Beings of the place.

I bring some knitting with me, to keep my hands busy while I’m sitting and listening.  Knitting serves as a mnemonic for me, and it also gives me a bit of distance from everything.  The project needs to be complex enough to keep my interest, but not so intricate that I can’t do it and listen to a discussion.

If I possibly can, I take the “day after” off from work.  That gives me some time completely alone and lets me get the laundry done, lets me go to the grocery store, lets me adjust my internal clock.  After all, the real reason to attend a Pagan conference is to come back and be even more effective in our everyday lives.

I shan’t be gone long; you come, too.


6 responses to “Pagan Conferences: Why Would Any Thinking Person Willingly Go?

  1. This triple Taurus INFJ has only ever been to Pantheacon, but I’m a late-comer to Paganism, having spent most of my life as an Atheist who had long conversations with the moon. When I was drawn into Wicca by my curious teenage daughter, I realized that I had found my tribe. And what I love about Pantheacon is that I can spend a glorious weekend living in a world where Paganism and Pagan sensibilities are the norm, where I am among my own kind and do not have to conform to materialistic society.

    It’s also not what I would expect from my usually shy self, but I load up on public rituals. I join in to as many rituals as I can. It’s amazing to become a part of that big flow of energy. And I like going places I haven’t been to before.

    And then I go outside and sing to the redwoods. I’m a terrible singer, but they like it – every redwood I’ve ever met loves to be sung to. And I find my own center again. So, yes, step one: make friends with the trees. They will look after you.

  2. I know you will thoroughly enjoy the Sacred Space Conference, and as an INFP, I heartily endorse your method of filling up on the meat and retiring to your cave to digest it in peace. Sacred Space is designed with the mature Pagan in mind, no matter what the calendar age. I had not intended to go this year, but two enthusiastic twenty-something friends who drove in from Ohio for it have convinced me to attend at least one day.

  3. Reblogged this on bay witch musings and commented:
    Honestly, this sounds like great advice anyone going to these things!

  4. I can totally relate to this. I love paganism and enjoying going to talks and rituals but find being around lots of people for extended lengths of time really really draining and need space away to rest and recuperate. I couldn’t cope with more than one day or two at the very most.

  5. I feel the same way about Christian conferences. As my mentor says, “ground and shield, ground and shield.” I am also an introvert and totally get where you’re coming from. I usually learn something from these kinds of gatherings, be they Pagan or Christian, but I definitely have to take them at my own pace. This includes quiet time away from the noisy, and sometimes overly opinionated, crowd! : )

  6. Yes. I am INTJ (on the border of F T, P and J actually), and I just attended my first Sacred Space and my first indoor conference. I loved it, and I adored the presenters, but I have to spend chunks of time in the hotel room to process and decompress. And I can’t do everything.

    I wish I’d met you there! Or, who knows, maybe I did 🙂 — Anna Helvie

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