Wow, what a time! I just got back from Convocation – one of the biggest Pagan conventions after Pantheacon. As one might guess, it reminded me of Pantheacon – with most aspects reflected in miniature. Really cool classes/presentations, wonderful people, great conversations, and incredible sights were at every turn! What a fantastic way to connect, to inspire, and to reach out!
Just like Pantheacon, it was a mix of many things. A good friend of mine is a committed empath, and along with, devote polytheists, Naturalistic Pagans, herbalists, and others, they form a core of people committed to finding the transcendent among our mundane lives, the magic of our realities. Yes, I know that our realities are different, and that there are plenty of aspects of these realities that I don’t personally think are real – yet, to join together in ritual, in action, in discussion, in community, is a powerful thing.
In addition to the community of wonder, the many vendors too affirm the wonder around us. Again, many of us may see the details differently, but there few other places were so many natural and real things are accorded the sacred honor and celebration they are due. For instance, the many beautiful geologic specimens are recognized by everyone as so much more than “just a rock”, but rather the bones of our Mother Earth, things to be held with reverence, to give us power of various sorts, to help us feel whole. I guess that’s a lot of it right there – here are so many others who refuse to see so much of our natural world as “just” anything.
When I wrote that, it seemed to somehow ring a bell. A day later I realized what it was. It was a scene from Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, which I saw 10 years ago. Some searching found it, but it deserves a whole post, so that’ll be coming later.
Where else can I see prominent statues of the gods of our Ancestors, of Greek, Roman, and so many other pantheons – gods who’s ideas sustained the hope that helped get us here today? I’m sure I saw dozens of ancient goddess statues (such as the goddess of Willendorf or Lespugue) – while their exact use can’t be known for certain, they too were clearly objects of reverence that were made and used by the Ancestors of everyone alive on Earth today. And that word! “Ancient”. We call things “ancient” that are 2,500 or 3,000 years old, yet these goddess figurines are ten times as old! It’s as if we need a new word.
Every time I make it to a Pagan convention, I learn something – often something surprising. This time, I learned a lot, ranging from the convoluted history of Wicca (from Jason Mankey’s interesting presentation), to the current state of Satanism (which we have a lot in common with, actually), and even to the use of a calcium compound by my Ancestors (much more on that later – very cool!).
Many of the most powerful spiritual experiences I’ve had have been in rituals with other Pagans – rituals where the fact that some of us saw the ritual a bit differently was unimportant. Each of us can raise some power, but dozens or more of us together can bring up power beyond what I can myself. I wish I could have made it to the Living Earth Devotional ritual held at Pantheacon a couple weeks ago.
I’ve also been amazed a how far we have come as Naturalistic Pagans – at how we are most often openly welcomed at fellow Pagans now (see Mark Green’s Pantheacon reflection). It was nice to be able to feel comfortable being open at Convocation. Of course, there is still a lot of areas where there is room for growth, and life is rarely a bed of roses (as John Halstead pointed out about Pantheacon). As we grow in so many different ways, experiences of many kinds help us build.
Dr. Jon Cleland Host
Dr. Jon Cleland Host is a scientist who earned his PhD in materials science at Northwestern University & has conducted research at Hemlock Semiconductor and Dow Corning since 1997. He holds eight patents and has authored over three dozen internal scientific papers and eleven papers for peer-reviewed scientific journals, including the journal Nature. He has taught classes on biology, math, chemistry, physics and general science at Delta College and Saginaw Valley State University. Jon grew up near Pontiac, and has been building a reality-based spirituality for over 30 years, first as a Catholic and now as a Unitarian Universalist, including collaborating with Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow to spread the awe and wonder of the Great Story of our Universe (see www.thegreatstory.org, and the blog at evolutionarytimes.org). Jon and his wife have four sons, whom they embrace within a Universe-centered, Pagan, family spirituality. He currently moderates the yahoo group Naturalistic Paganism. Jon is also a regular columnist here at HP. His column is called Starstuff, Contemplating.