PantheaCon 2014 – Monday, Iron Priest[ess]

For Monday of PantheaCon, Angela Carlson, who runs the Heathen Hospitality Hall and the Gryphons Volunteer department (with help in both cases, of course), had asked me to be in the parody ritual competition Iron Priest[ess] (inspired, of course, by Iron Chef). I had some fantastic ideas for poking fun at Seidhjallr’s [in]famous Oracular Seidh ritual, so I was looking forward to that as a silly way to wrap up an intense weekend.

My designated competitor was my longtime friend Bella Crow, who we jokingly designated “Iron Priestess New And Improved Reformed Kemetic Orthodoxy”. We determined (with permission) the other Iron Priests must be Mambo Chita Tann as “Iron Priestess Voodoo-You-Do”, Diana Paxson as “Iron Priestess Heathen-Hippie”, and P. Sufenas Virius Lupus as “Iron PriestISH Rome-If-You-Want-To”, all of whom were friends of ours who were names on the program people would hopefully recognize, but alas, none of whom could actually attend the ritual. I was to be the Challenger, a protege of the Heathen-Hippie tradition. I had a whole story prepared about how I was going to challenge Diana in order to usurp her position, when I heard about how this Bella Crow person thought Bast was a better Cat Lady than Freyja and that’s just RONG.

Alas, most of this silliness never actually reached the audience. Maybe we can use some of it next year. ;p

So Bella and I each had a partner. I had my friend Dee, who is also one of my congregants and a genderfluid Freyrsperson. Bella had our friend Perlandria who is usually very busy helping run the PantheaCon Hospitality suite upstairs. The rest of our assistance had to be pulled spontaneously from the audience, although we did make a point of seeding the audience with friends we knew wouldn’t mind if we suddenly pointed at them and blurted out something ridiculous or potentially insulting. I brought silly garb for the four of us to wear and a box full of semi-random props, some of which I had ideas for, others I’d just grabbed because they looked fun. Thank goodness most Pagan garb can be easily parodied using a handful of bedsheets and some safety pins. šŸ˜€

We’d been allowed to do some preparation in advance, but the Secret Ingredient was indeed a total surprise. (I know some pictures were taken of the four of us in our cheesy regalia. I’ll have to acquire them to post here for you folks to see.)

All tied up in our sheets, candy “amber” jewelry and funny hats, we strode importantly into the ritual arena, and waited to find out… The Secret Ingredient:

Princess Hats!

A pair of identical conic children’s princess hats, lavender, with little flowers and long tulle veils streaming out of the tops. Kind of like this, only pastel. We looked suspiciously at each other and then grabbed one hat each and ran to our partners to make our nefarious secret plans (like ya do).

Since both my and Dee’s skulls are quite large, it was obvious neither of us could wear the thing, so I immediately ran around the room looking for someone who the hat would fit at least well enough to stay on their head for the duration of the presentation. Much to my delight and amusement, the hat chose Hannah Lipsky. Perfect! Suddenly I knew exactly how to fit this into my ritual parody plans – and I knew I’d need one more person to make it work, so I ran back across the room and grabbed my friend and fellow Vanic Conspiracy founder Cara. I gave my team instructions, and then we settled in to wait.

A coin toss determined that Bella’s team was to go first.

Bella brilliantly turned her team’s princess hat into a “cone of power” into which she gestured sprinkling magic Catnip. She and her team sang an engaging Bast-themed parody of Walk Like an Egyptian, sprinkling the whole audience with this etherial catnip and encouraging them all to act like stoned kittens, in a tongue-in-cheek nod to the popular Bast trance rituals of PantheaCons past. The audience had great fun, and by the time she was done there was much mewing and giggling to be heard across the room.

And then it occurred to me – she finished in only 5 minutes. I started to freak out, because I’d thought I was supposed to present a 15 minute ritual and there was no way I could cut down my ideas into something that short that would still make any sense to the audience. Many things I am, but succinct is rarely one of them. I conferred briefely with Angela, and we agreed that Seidh was quite infamous for running longer than other PantheaCon rituals, so I may as well take as much time as I needed.

Of COURSE!

So we got out there. I “cast a circle” by throwing an aerobie, and called on the Travel Gnomes of the directions, giving four audience members felt hats I’d assembled with decorative duck tape.

Then we sang a parody of the call-and-answer Summoning Song:

I know a song that doesn’t end
Oh gods, when will she stop singing?
It goes on and on my friend
And you are going on too long!

We invoked the Golden Cat Lady of the North using my knitted golden cat-ear hat, and the Great Sorcerer of Anaheim using a Mouse-eared Sorcerer’s Apprentice hat from Disneyland.

At our prompting the audience shouted out Power Animal options, and we chose the Wombat to guard and guide us with a bastardized old campfire song.

Finally it was time to settle down to the serious business at hand!

I put the Special Ingredient Princess Hat on Hannah’s head and declared that she was our “Seidh Princess”. I dragged her around the room for her Journey, and then invited audience members to ask her their questions. The questions were suitably inane, her answers were suitably ridiculous, and Cara, as requested, provided wry translations.

Alas, I can’t actually remember any of this part in detail. You’ll just have to come next year if you want to see it in action. (Spoiler: I’ve been asked to return as next year’s Iron Priestess.)

Finally, one of the judges – the dreaded Goblin Queen – asked her own question:

“WHERE IS MY LUNCH?”

Hannah once again tossed the flowered necklace about to determine the answer, and then resigned herself to the fate the Powers had decreed.

Seeing my poor seeress about to get devoured by the Goblin Queen, I grabbed the hat from her head and told her to run away. Then I instructed all my gnomes to run and hide as well. Finally, I grabbed some string from the props box, offered the Goblin Queen my right hand for lunch, and convinced the other judges to help me wrap her up.

Needless to say, after all my efforts, and thanks to the input of a deeply fair judge, as is only right and proper…

It was a tie!

–Ember–

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About EmberVoices

Ember Cooke has been a member of Hrafnar and Seidhjallr for more than a decade, where she trained to be a Seidhkona, Galdrakona, and Gythia. She founded the Vanic Conspiracy and made ordination vows to the Vanir and her congregation in the summer of 2013. She has contributed to several publications on Heathen and Northern Pagan subjects and regularly presents rituals and workshops at festivals. Her personal practice is more diverse, as the Vanir have lead her into cross-training and service for the wider Pagan community. This has including medium and servitor training in American Umbanda, clergy training with the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, and jail ministry for local counties. She holds a BA with honors in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University. Ember has lived all her life in the south San Francisco Bay Area, and is intimately bound to the valley of her birth.
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