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February 13th, 2010
08:25 pm
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Restless on the con floor

To expand on a comment I tweeted earlier about Pantheacon being an adjustment:

Every con has its flavor. Compared to scifi/regional/general cons, furry cons are a lot more hands-on and close-knit, because a much higher proportion of the fandom is creators and there's a much more DIY aesthetic than with fans of various flavors of traditional media. Pcon is DIY too, but in a different way. It's a gathering of the tribes - the various organized sub-units of the giant mass known as "pagan," from Wicca and Thelema and druidry to the shamanic/neoshamanic paths, reconstructionists, Discordians, voudou, and even farther afield (I have seen "feri", pronounced "fairy" but from a Latin root that shares its etymology with "feral", a number of times and there's apparently a fairly prominent group behind it).

You don't have to be from a tradition to attend - but it sure helps. Virtually every event and/or ritual is put on by one "tribe" or another and is in that group's style. There is a lot of magic being thrown around the con, and .. in some weird way ... that unsettles me.

I'm an eclectic mage. ("Everyone here is, dear," a friend of a friend said while we were chatting last night. While this is probably true in our modern syncretic era, when I say so about myself I make a stronger statement, that I have no "source" tradition to identify myself by.). And, more seriously, through some circumstance or accident I have largely been conditioned to view magic - energy work - as an intimate act. In the literal sense of the phrase; an act of opening up an unguarded place within you, revealing a secret, letting yourself touch and be touched in a special place.

Clearly this is a minority view. I'm okay - even relieved - that it doesn't work that way for everyone; the benefit of magic being shared far outweighs my own personal discomfort. But it does have a badly isolating effect. I have a really hard time doing energy work that is either public or with strangers; so rituals at a venue like a pagan convention are basically guaranteed to intimidate me.

Beyond that, I do appreciate the chance to socialize and network - but even there, it's a challenge talking to strangers about magic work or even theory. (it's safer, but still a bit daunting, on the Internet; for a post like this I can pretend I'm writing notes to myself, and then the act of sharing isn't a conversation with strangers, it's a button press.) I also don't open up to new people well, even about nonmagical topics. So I spend a lot of conventions being an extroverted introvert with folks I already know and like. Pagan cons even more so.

And that's tougher here. More than any othe con I go to, Pcon attendees are here for the events, to share ritual space and talk theory and chill with their tribe. Last night, a little after 11, all of the various event rooms were packed to bursting, the parties were all swinging - and the halls were empty. Until I found the DJ'ed dance and hit the floor, it was like I was wandering through the Monday-afternoon ghost con, when 2/3 of the attendees are already home and the rest are packing or catching up on their sleep.

I still haven't hit any rituals or other energy-work events this year and I'm not sure I will. I'm looking forward to lupagreenwolf's Therioshamanism ritual in an hour or two, but it's a performance ritual, not participatory. I've also got half a dozen friends to hang out with. But still, after several years, Pcon makes me feel like a n00b in ways that other cons don't.

Posted via LiveJournal.app.

Edited to add: There are some con-badge ribbons floating around with the phrase "ouk gnosko touto legei." This is wholly unGoogleable and the ribbon owners I've asked don't know either (just took it because it sounded cool). Anyone want to win a bunch of Baxil points and solve that mystery? </p>

ETAx2: So of course not two hours later I'm anointed official edge guardian for lupagreenwolf's therioshamanism healing ritual, transforming most of my comments into hollow emo whining. This is a consequence I am happy to live with. Although the greater points about the tribalism of the con, and my attitude about magic being intimate, still stand.

Current Location: ~iphone
Current Mood: discontentDisquiet
Current Music: The static of crowds
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(32 comments | Leave a comment)

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[User Picture]
From:krinndnz
Date:February 14th, 2010 04:48 am (UTC)
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That last phrase - it looks like creatively-Romanized Greek to me? Does that thought lead anywhere useful?


Have fun at the con - it's interesting to hear this report, since I've been to only 3 kinds of cons (furry, gaming, homeschooling).
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From:circuit_four
Date:February 14th, 2010 05:06 am (UTC)
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There are some con-badge ribbons floating around with the phrase "ouk gnosko touto legei." This is wholly unGoogleable and the ribbon owners I've asked don't know either (just took it because it sounded cool). Anyone want to win a bunch of Baxil points and solve that mystery?

*stares daggers at you*

Well, there goes the rest of MY evening.

Asshole.

( I'll let you know what I find. ;D )
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From:circuit_four
Date:February 14th, 2010 05:08 am (UTC)
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Attempt 1: "Touto legei" is indisputably Greek -- judging by the hits I'm getting, Modern Greek. Will convert to Greek letters as best I can and see what I get outta Babelfish.
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From:circuit_four
Date:February 14th, 2010 05:10 am (UTC)
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"This it says."
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From:circuit_four
Date:February 14th, 2010 05:14 am (UTC)
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From:circuit_four
Date:February 14th, 2010 05:15 am (UTC)

Screw you, Baxil. ;D ;D ;D

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...

(dawn breaks)

I think it means "I don't know what this means." If you knew this going into it, you are ONE MAGNIFICENT SCALY BASTARD. ♥
[User Picture]
From:circuit_four
Date:February 14th, 2010 05:20 am (UTC)

Whenever there's trouble...

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(And if not, cue the closing theme to The Bloodhound Gang.)
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From:baxil
Date:February 14th, 2010 10:34 am (UTC)

Re: Screw you, Baxil. ;D ;D ;D

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I may or may not be willing to admit that I didn't, depending on what that does to my chances of claiming the Magnificent Bastard honoraria. };=8)

I suppose at this point Baxil Points are a moot point, but have 25 BPs anyway, along with the knowledge that you just made me use the word "point" three times in seven words.
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From:jenett
Date:February 14th, 2010 05:19 am (UTC)
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It's Greek. My Greek is very rusty, but...

Ouk = not
gnosko = knowledge - I think this may be the verb, because it's not matching any declensions I can rustle up. If it is, it's first person. (I know, or in this case, I don't know.)
touto = 'these things' (either nominative or accusative singular: hard to tell from the transliteration, but I think accusative)
legei = he/she/it says (third person singular)

Accusative case means it's the object of the verb, the 'these things' is. The 'not' modifies the first part of the clause, and Greek conventionally puts the main verb at the end of the sentence, so to speak.

Thus, my best guess is something along the lines of "He/she/it says I know nothing." (do not know these things.)

I'm sort of unhappy about my theory about the declensions, but I can't see anything else that fits better.
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From:circuit_four
Date:February 14th, 2010 05:22 am (UTC)
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I'll defer to you on this, since you have experience with Greek and I absolutely don't, but given the context... any chance it means something like "I know not what it says?"
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From:sashajwolf
Date:February 14th, 2010 09:14 am (UTC)
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I think it's supposed to mean that, but has been written by someone who doesn't know Greek.
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From:circuit_four
Date:February 14th, 2010 11:48 am (UTC)
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That sounds... very plausible. :)
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From:jenett
Date:February 15th, 2010 03:09 am (UTC)
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Yeah. Because the verb form is very definitely third person singular. (First person would be lego - lamda epsilon gamma omega.)
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From:baxil
Date:February 14th, 2010 10:36 am (UTC)
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Thanks! I am enlightened. 25 Baxil Points for your well-explained scholarship!
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From:jenett
Date:February 15th, 2010 03:10 am (UTC)
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*preen*
(Deleted comment)
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From:baxil
Date:February 17th, 2010 02:40 am (UTC)

Experience sharing

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Now that you mention it, you're right that a lot of the panels at sci-fi cons are geared toward writers (or other creators). I think that's at the heart of the selection bias here. My primary skiffy con is BayCon, where I have been working newsletter (truly a full-time job) for over a decade, so I spend a lot of the con either holed up in newsletter room, covering the big-ticket events, or socializing in the halls/room parties. Even though I don't work FurCon, I tend to stick to the same patterns.

The things that I notice at FC aren't the panels, but are the social spaces where creators mingle with each other and their fans: the Creator's Lounge, the Dealer's Room, the art show, etc. (FC vs. BC: The art show at FC is consistently one of the hugest events there; BC's is reasonable but sort of a formality. The FC dealer's room is almost entirely creators; the BC dealer's room is full of merchandise. BC does have some writer's workshops, but I don't recall any room set aside the whole weekend just for the purpose of sitting down with a laptop.) This is why FC reads to me as more of a hands-on con, and why it feels like there are more creators, even if that feeling's wrong.

As for close-knit? In furry, it seems to me there's less of a division between "pro" and "amateur" because most professional furry artists are people who started arting within the fandom and stayed in the same niche as they grew in popularity. A lot of them still have the same DA and FA and VCL accounts that all the "amateurs" do; there's not really anywhere to graduate to, because the niche market served by pro furry art is the same niche market served by amateur furry art. Whereas you start looking at big-name F/SF and you're seeing people that tour the country at book signings and show up on the NYT bookseller list, etc.

As for the tribe mentality, I don't think there's a way to weed out the confounds, honestly. Meeting new people happens in so many different ways at a convention -- panel discussions, hallway conversations, room parties, mutual friends, etc -- and the range of experiences within each of those categories, in both furry and skiffy, is so broad that I wouldn't even know how to start comparing the two. Most of my skiffy friendships have been made via staffing Baycon (and so I've developed more of a SMOF circle than a skiffy circle), and most of my furry-con friends have come via people coming up to me and saying, "Oh, hey, you're Baxil! You wrote that Draconity FAQ thing!"
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From:makhsihed
Date:February 14th, 2010 06:24 am (UTC)
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I'm jealous. I've been wanting to go to Pcon for several years now. One of these years... when I have a different job... and vacation time... and travel money that isn't getting spent on House Kheperu's gather or Kemetic Orthodoxy's new year... x.x
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From:baxil
Date:February 17th, 2010 02:45 am (UTC)
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Yeah, it can be tough to juggle the different events that all beg for travel, time and money. Though I went to the Denver Dragon Gather 10+ years ago, I've never actually been to a convention outside California/Washington. It doesn't help that for most of my adult life I've been in a job (tech support/small newspaper pagination) that doesn't leave a lot of spare money, demands a lot of strange hours, and makes it difficult to schedule time off.
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From:makhsihed
Date:February 17th, 2010 07:07 am (UTC)
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Huh! There was a dragon gather here in Denver? How neat~

I only know one dragon-person locally (I know a few more back in Ohio), but she's one of my closer friends. Also the most draconic person I've ever met. (Very Western dragon.)
From:(Anonymous)
Date:February 14th, 2010 03:09 pm (UTC)

drive-by comment!

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I'm an eclectic mage. ("Everyone here is, dear," a friend of a friend said while we were chatting last night. While this is probably true in our modern syncretic era, when I say so about myself I make a stronger statement, that I have no "source" tradition to identify myself by.). And, more seriously, through some circumstance or accident I have largely been conditioned to view magic - energy work - as an intimate act. In the literal sense of the phrase; an act of opening up an unguarded place within you, revealing a secret, letting yourself touch and be touched in a special place. [...] it's a challenge talking to strangers about magic work or even theory.

I feel the same way. In fact, I don't technically consider myself Pagan because I'm so far outside the traditions. (I'm more of a fiction-based mage than anything.) I think I'd feel torn at a place like that: wanting to know more about the magic going on, but too vulnerable within myself to open to discussion from my end.
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From:suti_bun
Date:February 15th, 2010 12:27 am (UTC)

Re: drive-by comment!

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I am a Acanthus* or Fate Mage by nature and follow no creed myself and I guess that makes me an Eclectic Mage as well. I find that the best magic comes from within and what someone else says generally is not the way for me. As a Fate Mage things tend to fall into my lap: ideas and inspiration often just come to me whenever. Following these inspirations tends to grant me more power than looking to books or what other people are saying though I do get inspiration talking with people. I also find that working with others is hard because my power is more personal and comes straight from my fiery essence and it is often not very compatible with others ideas and workings. This lends itself to problems when trying to break down my personal way of power to work with someone else in their ideas and things.

I am also very uncomfortable working around others and find it hard to even do a working when there is someone in the same building as myself. I can work some basic things like moving energy and whatlike but I feel cut off doing anything else around others.

Talking theory is about as far as it goes, and though I have been thinking of attending P-con sometime in the future, it seems like you and I would be in the same boat. I will have to make sure that if I go you and I can have some quality time together ;)

* Reference to the Mage the Awakening rulebooks. Even though this is a roleplaying term, I am quite serious about what I said. In fact I have some interesting stories about this fact...
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From:baxil
Date:February 17th, 2010 02:53 am (UTC)
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With you there. Totally with you there. We'll have to compare notes at some point. Conveniently, since you actually live in my town (unlike 98% of LJ users on my friends list), this is possible!
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From:baxil
Date:February 17th, 2010 02:51 am (UTC)

Re: drive-by comment!

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> In fact, I don't technically consider myself Pagan because I'm so far outside the traditions. (I'm more of a fiction-based mage than anything.)

I know how you feel! A lot of my magic is informed by my dragon background, and what I do is spirit and energy work best described as quasi-shamanic (the same friend I quoted above suggested "dragon shamanism", although that's not without its etymological problems, due to the appropriation issues if nothing else), so I'm in an awkward place trying to summarize my path when surrounded by mages with a convenient self-label.

There is, happily, a modest contingent of "pop magick" and/or chaos magick types at Pcon, and I seem to more naturally fall into those circles than anywhere else. What you describe as "fiction-based" seems to overlap a fair bit there, and I'd be curious to compare notes.

Hopefully you're still reading comments here, because you didn't leave a name or any contact information ...

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From:quen_elf
Date:February 15th, 2010 12:02 am (UTC)
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I don't know anything about this kind of thing, as you probably realise... but I just thought I'd mention that after reading your last post that mentioned going to this pagan convention, I had a strange and detailed dream that you had in fact taken me there.

(The 'details' bore no relation whatsoever to anything that could possibly take place at such a convention - or in fact to any neopagan rituals I'm in any way familiar with - so don't worry, I wasn't having astral visions and spying on anyone. Just a dream. :)

Odd though given that we've never met IRL (the 'Baxil' in my dream was necessarily extremely hazy and I basically only remember the effort in trying to pronounce your name right; and we split up after arriving anyway) and barely communicated online for years, either. I didn't pay any special attention when I read yesterday's post either, just skimmed it and went onto the next thing on my friends list.

Anyhow I know dream-stories are always hideously boring (and the details are perfectly explicable, i.e. just the sort of thing my brain would make up given the overall concept) so I won't go any further into it, but I found it unusual enough to comment anyway. :)
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From:baxil
Date:February 17th, 2010 03:03 am (UTC)
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I don't really know what to say in response to that, but it's cool and amusing and I appreciate you letting me know. :)

Should I ever actually drag you along to a con, I'll make sure to introduce you to folks!
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From:arethinn
Date:February 16th, 2010 09:31 am (UTC)
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(I have seen "feri", pronounced "fairy" but from a Latin root that shares its etymology with "feral", a number of times and there's apparently a fairly prominent group behind it).

"Apparently"?

That you have only just now heard of the Feri tradition is kinda boggling my little mind.
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From:baxil
Date:February 17th, 2010 03:01 am (UTC)
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Boggle away. I haven't actually been attending Pcon all that long; I do almost no exploration of random magical traditions on my own (due to the various factors previously mentioned); and any connection I would have gotten through Otherkin is scotched by the fact that I really follow dragon circles much more than the wider theri/kin ones.
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From:arethinn
Date:February 17th, 2010 03:23 am (UTC)
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I don't know many/any kin who practice Feri, actually. This doesn't surprise me a lot because from my own dabblings in it, at least, it is very "human-y". This isn't a value judgment, just a statement about what kind of energetic system it seems tuned to. And believe you me, as fey I have a hard time with an exercise called "the Iron Pentacle", heh. (actually I like it just fine as a psychological too, but it is apparently connected to molten iron energy in the earth's core, which is, er, not something very tasty to me.) And in publicly available material, at least, I have not noticed the presence of many (or even any) threads of working with the Faery Realm as such, unlike Orion and RJ's material. (Perhaps it's initiatory material and not available to be seen.) It has unique spirit contacts to it, but IMO it's witchcraft in the regular sense and despite its name not a "faerie tradition" the way people usually mean it.

In both Orion Foxwood and RJ Stewart's streams of faery practice I've encountered the statement that what I am cannot possibly exist, so I tend to just turn a blind eye to that inconvenient bit. But again I can't think of any other 'kin I'm acquainted with off the top of my head who really work in these paths, except maybe the connection between Rialian and Orion (esp. on faery caern material), as they seem to know each other by name. But Rialian is pretty eclectic on that kind of thing -- takes bits and pieces from everywhere and although I don't know about his private practice, somehow I don't think it's Faery Seership (Orion's stream).

Anyway, what I mean is I wouldn't necessarily have expected you to pick up exposure through otherkin, rather through the general pagan community, reading websites and whatnot. Attending Pcon "not all that long" actually makes it even more likely to me, since further back there was less of this stuff on the menu. Faery stuff is pretty big these days and getting bigger. Feri especially is big news in the Bay area since it's pretty much the center of it on Earth AFAIK; people on the east coast often complain they can't find someone to train with.

Edited at 2010-02-17 03:26 am (UTC)
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From:baxil
Date:February 17th, 2010 03:44 am (UTC)
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True. More was made of the feri/feral connection than the feri/f(a)eri(e) connection, although the name is clearly designed to be evocative of the latter.

It is simultaneously amusing and distressing that any path with a name like "feri" could have an Iron Pentacle exercise. >_<;

> Faery stuff is pretty big these days and getting bigger.

Oh, for sure. I do remember there being a lot of "fa(e|i)r(y|ie)" material at last year's Pcon, and I spent some time in the faerie chill room listening to some bloody awesome music. However, I don't recall the specific "feri" trad being big last year. (I'm sure it was, in some fashion, and it just didn't register to me among all the other various spellings.)
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From:makhsihed
Date:February 17th, 2010 07:09 am (UTC)
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Feri is actually really fascinating. Ecstatic tradition. Not for me, but I have a lot of respect for the philosophy and some of the approaches.
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From:siege
Date:March 4th, 2010 03:25 am (UTC)
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And, more seriously, through some circumstance or accident I have largely been conditioned to view magic - energy work - as an intimate act. In the literal sense of the phrase; an act of opening up an unguarded place within you, revealing a secret, letting yourself touch and be touched in a special place.

I have, in recent months, been reacquainted with someone, in spirit; I once died while offering flowers to them under the nose of an opposing entity. This is, apparently, the very nature of their magic, as well, and they may have known you at some prior time. I'm told that they have attempted to regain your acquaintance this evening...
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