The entirety of Many Gods West is going to be broken up into three parts. The first part is about my experience, the second part focuses on the panels and people, and the third part is my hopes for next year.
To begin, I have never been to the Pacific Northwest before! Just being able to visit Washington State was a gift unto itself. The flying was less enjoyable than I remembered it being when I was 17, which was heartbreaking. As I told someone on the trip, I’m “too young to feel this old about traveling!”
A weirdly spiritual part of my trip wasn’t at Many Gods West at all, but Thursday night in Tacoma. I met up with someone who was very important in the early stages of my life and had a really reflective time as I saw how we both had grown.
I arrived at Many Gods West Friday morning to help volunteer with registration. I was really excited about this part because it meant I got to meet a lot of folks without having to step outside my comfort zone. I was very happy to volunteer and almost wish I could have done more! Many Gods West was such an undertaking, but it was anything but disastrous.
Most of the weekend I did my best to attend the panels I could while also socializing with attendees as much as possible. I slept when I could, too, opting for it over partying in most cases.
For those who don’t know, I have Social Anxiety Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I was very pleased with myself that I wasn’t triggered during the weekend, despite meeting many people in a short amount of time. This is partly because I wisely took time to decompress in the hotel room between events or instead of going out. The only time I was considerably triggered was when I went to a bar with my friend. After arriving, my friend promptly got a drink and vanished from my site and I was abandoned among groups of people–some I knew, most I didn’t. I don’t blame him, since he couldn’t have known how much that would triggered me. Luckily my fiance called me and we agreed to the game plan of walking home. That was also scary since it was quite a ways away through crowds of people, but I made it to the hotel alright.
In regards to social anxiety, I was really happy to see that someone (who I later learned was Ember Cooke) put up spoons for spoonies attending the conference. I was ready to cry upon seeing them!
Most of the weekend, I spent contemplating my “home” and whether Washington would be a good fit for it. While I certainly am not ruling it out, I got a vision told to me during a seidr that seems to be pushing my concept of Home to something different. The seidr has given me a lot to think about, and a lot to look forward to as well. And the seidr seerer (forgive me, I don’t know the correct terms…) channeled Lugh, whom I definitely felt present during the seidr. I’m still processing the advice, but I feel like I have a direction now. Which is more than I had before.
Speaking of Lugh, I have a fun little anecdote from this weekend about Him: Prior to coming on this trip, I tried vodka for the first time. Finding I did not enjoy it, I decided to bring it with me on the trip to give to someone I met. When I arrived at my friend’s apartment on Thursday, I found that the bottle had somehow spilled during the trip–despite the lid still being securely fasten. Luckily, none of the vodka spilled on my clothes. But…Instead….
Lugh’s picture I brought took the liquid? Which had me giggling that He had wanted a drink, obviously!
Then, at the end of the trip, when I retrieved Lugh’s picture…
Another drink had spilled on him! Perfectly centered and not distorting the actual image of Him!
So I was cackling at this point. Lugh apparently was not getting enough offerings this weekend, so He had to create some of his own.
Speaking of offerings, I was pleased to see that someone made offerings to His picture on the community shrine:
We were told the offerings were for us to do as we pleased with, so I took the offerings Lugh got and made sure they were handled in a properly Gaelic way–which is to say, I went across the street to the park and buried them in front of a tree.
The first major experience I had was after Elena Rose’s panel on Monsters. We were doing a visualization in which we took up our monster crowns. Mine was made of bloody glass from my years of self harm and being mentally ill…then I threw it and it sprouted yellow flowers. To me, I took this to mean that my mental health–while making me a “monster” to some people–meant I could do a lot of good with it. And I think I have been, just by being vocal about having mental health illnesses.
Another experience that was very intense and moving was during the ritual by the Coru Cathubodua Priesthood. The ritual was a dedication to Cathubodua, a Gaulish goddess I have never personally sought out. I had a very intense and moving experience…too intense and personal that I don’t want to go into all of that in this post. But I was very privileged to attend.
Another ritual I was privileged to attend was the Freya ritual done by Ember Cooke. I was not expecting anything more than education to come from it, but I had a relatively simple experience. I felt that Freya enjoyed my presence, but realized we were not meant to create any relationship together. She felt so warm, kind, and loving…I was not expecting that. It was a beautiful ritual and visualization.
Lastly, I was very pleased that my hotel room had an impromptu shrine set up on our TV stand:
Overall, I had a very safe and enjoyable time at Many Gods West. I never felt threatened and no one interfered with my comfort zone. I felt that after every ritual there was adequate people to help me if I so needed it. Everything felt like it ran smoothly as an attendee, though I know that there must have been a lot of chaos behind the scenes.
I think that sums up my experience. The rest can be better expressed by the next two blog posts: The People & Panels and The Hope.