Why I Sat at Pantheacon

Pantheacon is a large, wonderful convention where Pagans from across the country gather once a year to grow community and explore spirituality. This year, the main event for me was a sit-in on Sunday night.

The sit – I love this contemporary version of the sit-in of the ’60s, where one sits in silent meditation – was held in the hall outside of Z Budapest’s cisgender-women-only ritual. Z Budapest is a founding figure in modern Paganism; so important to the early feminist thought which broadened and deepened the emerging collection of spiritual practices deemed Paganism. She is a true Grandmother.

Her importance only adds to the heartbreak of her hate speech. Her attempted explanation and apologies devolve over and over into defining trans women as ‘other,’ as ‘not women.’ There is room for separate space (though likely it will still get its protests); there isn’t room for telling other people what they are, or are not, nor for labeling them violent or invaders.

There was no point in arguing; so we sat. T. Thorn Coyle (a erudite teacher and blogger) organized a peaceful, silent protest. With only one day’s notice, over 80 of us gathered to sit outside of Z’s presentation. Others also came to hold space and chant. It was a powerful, difficult experience.

I found a wave of grief crashing over me; I couldn’t even name all of its parts – sorrow for my own experience, for this fossilizing in a Pagan elder, for the pain of the community. It was a blessing I have an actual meditative sitting practice; I used that experience to remain present and open, to the wave, to my own body, to the astonishing outpouring of silent support around me. It turned into an experience of healing I couldn’t have dreamed of.

Thank you, Thorn, and all members of the sangha of that night.

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4 Responses to “Why I Sat at Pantheacon”

  • Comment from Thorn Coyle

    Thank you for being there.

  • Comment from Wendy

    I don’t understand why there was so much fuss over women only.

    Women have gotten the short end of the stick throughout history in body image and self worth. We’ve been chattle and worse for centuries. Is a rit to finally find beauty in the bodies we’re told are too fat, too skinny, too asymmetrical, too flat, too saggy, whatever. How many women and girls are bulemic or anorexic to have some form of control over their lives. Some are so abused they turn to cutting their flesh. Tell me why we can’t have a rit of out own?!

  • Comment from admin

    I think women’s only spaces are just great – as are men’s only, etc. etc.

    I don’t like hate speech, and that is the heart of the issue at the con.

    It would be possible to have a women’s only event, even a cisgender (better yet, including physically transitioned women) women’s only event, if the invitation to it was respectful.

  • Comment from Wyatt

    I find it interesting and frustrating when bumping up against peoples fears, especially these emotionally driven fears which they cannot adequately express and cannot be logical approached. In my experience, for gender this always comes down to penis (ever had a penis) & no penis (never had a penis) [the difference the single letter “n” can make :^)]. I have spoken with many women about this and it never comes to any better understanding or resolution. As one woman told me “I can’t explain it, at some cellular unreachable level, penis (bio, ejaculant manufacturing) equals death.” In looking at my own still existing fears I can only say I get it, I completely understand. It is even more of a quandary in straight men, for whom this same fear often is experienced but only when the penis is not attached to them. So perplexing and complicated to be so attached to one of your own while at the same time be emotionally and illogically full of fear around one on someone else. The equivalent fear for many gay men may be vagina (ever had a vagina) & no vagina (never had a vagina). It would be really wonderful if we could some how come to understand why these particular body parts hold so much power and fear.

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