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.