I’m going to ramble a bit here why I love Many Gods West, and then I’ll do a better overview of the presentations and knowledge I learned on another blogpost.
But first, my feelings:
Let me start by saying that I didn’t think I was going to make it to Many Gods West this year. I didn’t have any money, and I didn’t have the capacity to run a fundraiser so others could help me make it. So June came around and I just feebly asked my father if he could pay for my hotel room and airplane tickets so I could make it to Many Gods West. He and my mother were going through financial troubles so I really doubted it.
… Long story short? He said yes, he would, because he knew how important Many Gods West is to me.
Many Gods West started in 2014 around the time when I was thinking how there weren’t any religious communities for me. I attended pagan events much to my disappointment. The local community where I am is a disappointment. I stopped identifying as a pagan and only as a polytheist. And voicing these disappointments and realizations led to someone pointing me in the direction of Many Gods West. I am so thankful I made it the first year, and then the second year, and now its third year.
This was the first year I was able to afford my ticket to attend. Previously, I had to volunteer so that I could be allowed admittance. This year? I volunteered anyways. At first, it was because I knew volunteering allowed me to meet people I would otherwise be too shy to meet. Then, as the event approached, I realized I could help alleviate some stress the core organizers would be going through. And finally, I could give back to the event that has given me so much.
And I feel like those goals were met. I definitely got to meet some wonderful people as I sat behind the registration table. I was told that I helped alleviate some stress off the organizers. And I feel like I gave back to the event.
This year was different in previous years in two ways. First, I gave myself permission to miss things so I could talk with people. I actually didn’t go to any evening rituals this year, preferring to spend my time in the Community Tea room and socialize. I knew that going back to my apartment in Nebraska would mean that I would lose the chance to just sit and talk about polytheism with like-minded people — or even talk to people at all. So I tried to soak up a years worth of socializing in a three day weekend.
Then, there was my health. Last year the Gods seemed to have granted me a remission from my narcolepsy so I could present and enjoy the weekend. This year, I was not so fortunate. I felt tired a lot. I felt spacey. I got headaches from pushing myself to stay upright. I felt terrible that I spent my Sunday evening with a friend who was gracious enough to house me and take me to the airport early Monday morning in a half-asleep state. I also wanted to do readings for people I met at the conference, but alas I couldn’t bring myself to offer when I knew my focus was so terrible. I spent all Monday recovering, and part of today is going to be spent recovering as well.
But I really enjoyed the socializing. I met new people and got to see again people that I met even the first year of Many Gods West. It was such a great experience.
The people really do make Many Gods West how great it is. I overheard so many times people checking in with organizers to make sure they were eating, and I got scolded for trying to skip dinner (someone even just brought me their leftovers to eat so I wouldn’t go without food.) When someone’s hotel room situation left them without a place to sleep, someone stepped up to offer them their room. There was so much goodwill and support from everyone this weekend. It still warms my heart.
I am thankful this year had a few things focusing on community, because while this conference feels like the community I want… It’s brief community. We come together, and then everyone kinda goes back to their separate communities. For some people, there is a lot of overlap. For some people, the community gets to continue throughout the year. But for me, there isn’t anything for me to go back to after this conference. I need to change that, and this year gave me some tools to do that. We’ll see how successful I am though.
I don’t think I expressed well enough how much this conference means to me, but I am running out of words and to be honest energy. I’m going to leave this post here. I’ll be returning later to write about what I learned this year.