Many Gods West 2017: I Have Feelings About this Conference Edition

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The sigil created to represent and fuel Many Gods West 2017 (drawn by Tempest)

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.

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2 thoughts on “Many Gods West 2017: I Have Feelings About this Conference Edition

  1. I’m glad that you had a great time at Many Gods West. I hope something similar can be put together here on the east coast someday. I’ve been looking for spiritual community since I moved back home back in 2015 but I’ve been very disappointed and somewhat disgusted with what I’ve discovered so far in my local area for very similar reasons to some of the problems you’ve wrote about before on your various blogs. Also, I hope you are having a great Lughnassadh!

  2. Thank you so much for volunteering again this year! It did indeed relieve some stress to know I could leave registration in such capable hands. And I am so glad you had the opportunity to fill your cup! May it overflow into finding and forming the community you need.

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