Sunday afternoon of PantheaCon I was supposed to ward Seidhjallr’s usual Oracular Seidh which was scheduled for right before the dinner session this year. One of my congregants, Hannah Lipsky, had also asked me to ward her Runes of the Ancestors ritual on Sunday night. She was running a guided trance sequence with Morpheus Ravenna of Coru Cathubodua (who I knew and liked) and Grant Guindon (who I had never even heard of before).
After Saturday’s burnout, I realized I had to choose one. If I warded for Seidhjallr, it was quite possible I wouldn’t have the energy to ward for Hannah. Seidhjallr is a team of highly experienced people doing what they’ve done every year for a couple decades now. I knew they could do without me this time around. This was Hannah’s first time helping lead a major trance ritual at PantheaCon, and she had asked her trusted friends to help make sure it was as positive an experience for the attendees as possible. Granted, Morpheus knows what she’s about and could probably have recruited some really amazing people at the last minute if they’d come up short-handed. But as far as I was concerned, this was Hannah’s big day, and I didn’t want to let her down or give her any reason to be anxious. So I contacted Lorrie Wood for Seidhjallr and let her know what was up. I knew she would agree with my judgement, but it was still a relief to receive her validating confirmation in response.
As it turned out, the “Runes of the Ancestors” ritual could have been called the “Ancestors of the Runes”. The ritual was a fascinating experiment in exploring the great primal animals referenced in several of the runes of the Elder Futhark as precursors to their symbolic power. Morpheus had dreamt the ritual, including that Hannah and Grant would be running it with her. Hannah was the keeper of the runes, guiding the participants in intoning them each as they arose. Morpheus and Grant took turns guiding the trance.
I’d never actually been in ritual with Morpheus before – I can’t say I’m surprised to find that she pulls up some serious energy, but it was still impressive to watch her work in that setting. She has a very distinctive presence. Between her guiding and Grant’s, there was a driving momentum that left very little downtime for anyone to get lost or wander off, spiritually. The ritual flew by much faster than any of us realized, we had such momentum. We finished early, simply because we were actually done.
Although the room was close to full for a circle setup, there were only two or three people total who needed help handling the results of the trance state during or afterwards, which I think says good things about their choices in ritual structure. I’ll have to keep that in mind for my own future reference. I usually like to give people more room to explore and experience whatever personal messages are waiting for them, when I lead a group through a trance exercise.
I hadn’t actually known going in what the ritual was going to look like. I just knew it involved guided trance, rune galdr, and Odin. That’s more than enough to tell me what my job as a warder would entail. I was one of two people set to keep an eye specifically on the people, while the rest of the warders focused on holding the space as safely and cleanly as possible, and alerting the two people-focused warders to any specific problems they spotted. My half of the room had no obvious problems, and only one person reporting a problem after the fact. I count that a win.
After the ritual, I helped the other warders settle a young woman from the other side of the room who had a harder time than the rest. She wasn’t too bad off, just in a transitional point in her own spirituality, and thus more open than she was ready for when the trance work started. She needed help coming down. They were talking her down, and helping her ground out the energy when I arrived to offer a somewhat more experienced hand, some water, and salt. We didn’t want to let her leave without a friend to keep an eye on her, so one of the other warders volunteered to stay with her until the ritual next door let her friends out.
I headed up to the Coru temple suite to catch up and debrief with the rest of the group. Alas, by the time I got there, any debriefing was already done, so I don’t know how the others felt about how the ritual went. They had moved on to passing mead and ale around, raising toasts. This is familiar territory to a Heathen. I wasn’t sure if I fit in or not at first, but they seemed to accept my presence. I knew several people there other than those I’d just met.
One lovely woman who I was already acquainted with, but whose name sadly escapes me just now (it starts with an ‘A’… Amalia? *sigh*) caught my interest in the temple room next door, and invited me to explore it more closely. We had a quiet discussion of the Irish powers enshrined there. The Coru temple had, of course, a large altar for The Morrigan set up, but there were also realm altars set up for groups of other Irish Celtic deities and heroes. I remember one, maybe two of the deities for each altar, but I went through and paid my respects to Them all whether I knew Them or not. There was a bit of interestingly-timed shifts in lighting coming from the Brighid altar, which I found amusing. I meditated briefly before the altar that included Fionn MacCumhail, asking for clarification of any messages there might have been from a dream that invoked His name that I’d had several months before and had never managed to make heads nor tails of. I got more answer than I was ever expecting, but it still amounted to “No, there’s no message, just passing through.”
I returned to wrap up the camaraderie next door and then headed the rest of the way down the hall to meet with Xochiquetzal in the Pagans of Color suite. There were several friends and strangers gathered there, having a lovely time. I sat with old friends and talked for several hours, decompressing, and then headed home for the night.
All in all, Sunday made up for Saturday’s pains quite handily. My PantheaCon was back on track. Too bad it was almost over!