rough timeline of my Polytheist Leadership Conference

thursday in the AM:
So, my train from Toledo was running an hour and a half late, and it was about the time they informed us of this that I realised that I had forgotten to pack my notes for the Sexual Ethics Panel and the coffee divination, so whilst on the train, around the time I guessed my friend Emily, who jumped in to fetch mefrom the Poughkeepsie train station and let me share her room, was getting herself ready to go, I texted her to let her know I needed some index cards or scrap paper to re-write all my notes.

Thursday afternoon:
I notice from the Amtrak Timetable on the back of the seat in front of me that the Poughkeepsie train station does not have a staffed ticket booth –people buy their Amtrak fares either online or from those little electronic kiosks –which kind of pissed me off, cos I’d’ve liked to see if I could trade my return date for Sunday afternoon, cos I still had no plans for where I would be sleeping Sunday night. Also, the train from Toledo to Poughkeepsie had no wi-fi, and the assholes who had portable 4g and even 3g connections weren’t sharing –which is why my Twitter went silent.

Thursday evening:
My train arrived around 8pm, and Emily came to pick me up, and I was HOUNGREH! Since I usually Amtrak to Chicago, which is barely an eight hour ride from East Lansing or Ann Arbor, I don’t usually eat on the train, especially now with my soy allergy confirmed, cos I don’t believe in paying $5 for a crappy ham-n-cheese on white, especially since now all I can eat is the ham, so I was HOUNGREH, and just barely fending off dehydration with my trusty aluminium water bottle, so we dropped my crap off in the room and went to the I84 Diner, a very shiny 24hr place run by Greeks. They lacked a proper allergy menu, but based on what I know is usually safe, I decided to take a chance on a turkey club wrap. They also have an in-house bakery, which I will get to. We went witb the moderators of the sexual ethics panel, and I ended up in Em’s quote book. 😀

Thursdah night:
I was excited and chatty, and Em and I stayed up until about 2am or so, then I showered and decided to turn in, but I had the damnedest time trying to get any sleep.

Friday morning:
I got up with barely enough time for the complimentary continental breakie, and made my way to the opening statement and keynote address.

Unfortunately, some things had to be changed up, cos Aine Llewellyn missed her plane and Alex Bettencourt (my original plan for weekend roomie) fell ill and couldn’t show up. I attended the Dionysian ritual Sannion put in at the last minute (wnich was great, clearly intense for many, and got a little bit weird on my own end), the Raven Kaldera and Brandon Hardy’s discussion on Henotheism and Polytheism after which, Kaldera signed my copy of HERMAPHRODEITIES (which he even said wasn’t even for all trans people, which I’ve suspected since it got such a scathing “review” from a certain K Berger, and pretty much only started reading so as to spite said, but have genuinely enjoyed, so far).

Friday Evening:
During the break for Dinner, at the encouragement of some people, I brought out the badges I packed, which proved incredibly popular with Galina and a few others (especially this small pack of DFAB queer folk of, what I’m assuming to be, mixed genders, at least one of whom got some badges from me, before –you have them to thank for the Thyrsos one ;-). Then I saw Rhyd Wildermuth’s lecture on Radical Relationality and Polytheism. I gotta say, while I do generally enjoy Rhyd’s blog, especially his anti-Capiltaism ranting (which kinda makes my dream about touching him inappropriately –in a consensual way, of course), I think he makes for a better speaker (he should probably consider teaching, if he hasn’t, yet)

Friday night:
There was a Dionysian ritual around 9:30pm, hosted by Thiasos of the Starry Bull –all were welcome, of course. I was really impressed to see a few people from YSEE show up, too –which is kind of a Big Deal, amongst Hellenists.

As an aside, I was really happy to meet all the Hellenists I did this weekend, some of whom you might even know from the Internet! Big thanks to Kayleigh, Julia (from Hellenion), Jessica, err…, that sweet non-binary kid whose name I’m *totally* blanking on at the mo’, Emily (of course!), Alder Knight, PSVL (who I had previously met when they were briefly in Ann Arbor about six years ago –and apparently I have a reputation from that, as another person I met this wekend said to me “oh! you’re the one who showed Lupus that movie!” Ah, they mentioned that? “Yes, in great detail. :-D”). Great apologies to any other Hellenists, Helleno-x(-y(-z)) multi-trad people, and similar who I met and who I may have forgotten about –it’s been a busy weekend, I hope you understand.

Saturday morning:
I had another hard time sleeping –in part cos of a nightmare that woke me up, about being chased by a vicious raccoon– which let to waking up later than I wanted to, and cos I was on the panel later, I decided I’d rather shower and miss breakie, after all, Emily bought snacks, so it’s not like I was going to starve until the lunch break.

After I finished getting dressed, I went to Edward Butler’s lecture, “On the Gods and the Good”, which was about the apparently “radical” notion that Platonism, being born of an inherently non-monist polytheistic society, was itse,f non-monistic, in spite of considerably more recent portrayals of it as such (which, to be fair, stems from long-term appropriation by Monotheist and Monist religions). In my opinion, he’s definitly among the top Classicists out there, in spite of what certain people from a certain non-accredited seminary imply all over the place.

Break for Lunch:
I went to the I84 Diner, again, cos it’s literally a two minute walk across the car park from the Fishkill Quality Inn, and my turkey wrap the other day seemed safe. The one I got with Saturday’s lunch, though, had a gross white American cheese single on it instead of the shredded cheddar from Thursday’s wrap –but cos I was dragging my arse to get it, in hopes of having someone walk over with me, at the least, I pretty much had to eat during PSVL’s lecture on the Ephesia Grammata, which was followed up with The Anomalous Thracian’s (or, as he seemed reasonably receptive to: Baron Anomalous von Bigglesworth III) presentation on Regional Cultus in contemporary polytheism, accompanied by Gimbal, the hybrid raven who is also a Hatian(?) priest of some sort –I don’t recall the details about that, or even if I asked about them.

Saturday early evening:
There was then a twenty minute-ish break before the sexual ethics panel, cos a lot of people really seemed to need it, so what should have started around 4:30 didn’t get going until almost 5pm. i was expecting the panel to be more free-form amongst the panelists before the Q&A portion, and the notes I wrote, and the ones I kinda-sorta re-wrote, were geared that way, cos I didn’t recall seeing anything reading anything in the emails prior suggesting anything but. The panel instead began with first Ned Bates and PSVL delivering prepared statements, then came me. Fuck.

Those of you who may recall my Wyrd Ways Radio interview, I don’t do well unprepared. I may have done better than I felt I was doing up there, but I seriously felt like I was just seconds away from a full-blown panic-attack, as I was winging it with an unplanned explanation of Classical Hedonism and how its ethics work.

Then was Tamara Suida, who delivered her statement, firsg addressing the difference between ethics and morality, and then on how sexual assault can be handled in groups.

I was doing better during the Q&A portion, wherein someone brought up the *very common* question most Hellenists get, “How can one honour gods that rape?” I explained that this is largely an etymological convention held over from the 19th Century / Bullfinch era, which many Hellenists unfirtunately still lean on, and the root for “rape” originally meant “to steal, robbery”, and witb the (originally euphemistic) use of “stealing” a girl from her family –basically, eloping or otherwise marrying a young woman without the consent of her family. PSVL (I think?) added that the Hittites also had a way to deal with the issue of “marriage by rape”, essentially taking a woman to marry without her family’s involvement, and (as I recall) it was especially common during wartimes, it seemed implied that this was not unheard of amongst neighbours or otherwise during more-peaceful times. basically that while “rape” (in its most-common use) has a very narrow definition today, it was something applied more broadly until approximately the mid-20th Century –unfortunately, the convention with Greek myth is still to translate as “rape” when “elopement” or “abduction” would be more appropriate.

I wascalso pleased to see, especially with regards to that portion of the Q&A, one of the Greeks from YSEE spoke up to further elaborate that it’s still tradition in most of Greece, even if the daughter and her enfianced have the blessings of the parents, it’s still the convention to call the grandparents and announce that the young woman has been “stolen” –a tradition I know to basically go back, in some form, to ancient times, and back then, it would often even feature a staged “kidnapping” of the young lady by her intended.

As a whole, I think the panel went generally well, I just wish tgat either a) it was a more-conventional sort of panel or b) that I had actually prepared a statement rather than just some reference notes.

7:30pm Divinations in Room 2:
I did, though, work just fine fro. reference point notes on index cards for the kaphemanteia introduction and session, and the whole session went *beautifully*. I really could not have asked for that to go better –except maybe if I had a proper six-serving birki (mi is small, likely a 2serving size, but I can squeeze three outof it).

Apparently the people from YSEE got excited to see me preparing an area for the coffee divination session, cos they agree (as all right-thinking people should) that American coffee sucks, and a proper, sweet, Greek coffee is the best. None of them actually purchased a coffee divination from me, but one of the women seemed to be taking notes as I explained coffee history and the “geneology” of cup-reading. (A lot of the YSEE people seemed to be taking notes –mostly good things, I hope.)

After a single round, I re-read one gentleman’s cup, cos I don’t know if I poured wrong for him the first time, or if I was unclear and he drank more of the grounds than is best for a good reading, but I made a seconcup for him cos he just needed a good reading, right? After that, I read for Galina, cos she covered my massage on Friday, and she seemed fairly impressed with my skills at kaphemanteia –itvwas nothing she didn’t already know, but as I explained in the introduction, cup-reading is not an inquiry-based divination, it’s closer to palmistry but with a general overview of a “what’s going on right about now?” sort of thing –what’s at the bottom of the cup (which becomes the “top” in a reading) can show lifelong influences or constants, such as deity or spirit influences, the ‘sides’ I generally read clockwise fro. the handle, and from the base down, depending on the size of the images, I tend to interpret as a story, but if it doesn’t seem to work that way, I’ll just look for things that could signify recent or upcoming events or even just other recent influences on a person’s life.

Galina’s cup had some of the clearest images I’ve ever seen in a cup, even the saucer formed a very clear (if asymmetrical) heart shape. The young man I re-read also got some very clear symbols, and so did one or two other people.
It also occurred to me as I was giving the introductory talk that I’ve been doing this (startingvwitb tea, but moving on to coffee when I was 20) since about 1995/96 — that’s nearly twenty years. I don’t do it very much, but it never ceases to amaze me how clear some things can be.

After the first kaphemanteia session, it didn’t seem like anyone elsevwas interested, so I let my hotplate cool while I joined the Hellenist discussion in the lobby.

After I packed up my kaphemanteia stuff, I headed downto the room to just put it away for a bit. I passed two people whonasked if I needed help, but I said I was OK, but by the third offer to help, I figured I might as well admit that I could use it, and let one of the YSEE people help me get things back into the room and on my bed. He asked where I learned, and I’m pretty sure I said I wasvself-taught after inheriting tea from my grandmother, and switched to reading coffee when I decided tgat I liked it better, and that I learned how to make the coffee myself when I noticed that nearly every place in Centeal and Southeast Michigan thatbserves Greek/Turkish/etc… coffee (it’s the same basic method, but the difference is mainly how it’s fkavoured and whether it’s typically serves sweet or unsweetened), and most of the places around me serve it unsweetened and often *very* bitter.

After I put my coffee stuff away, I gave Galina the portion of the divination money I had promised forthe RAINN donations (and I will PayPal the portion I promised to the Maetreum of Cybele, shortly). Also, upon realising that I had a bit more moneh than I expected to, I made a bid on a set of prayer cards –first, cos it was for charity, and second because they’re small and it was one of the more-inexpensive things being auctioned. It was a set of Goddess prayer cards, and I didn’t even look through them completely, figuring that I’d keep whatever ones I wanted and give the rest away. Since the set was all Norse/Germanic/Heathen goddesses, I’m giving them away! I already passed out a few, but I’ll post the rest after I get back home. 🙂 These are going to be FREE, to anyone (even International!), first come, firsg served, but if you want to PayPal me a dollar or two to defray my postage costs, feel free (the PayPal Tip Jar is on the sidebar of my main blog page).

Around midnight, I was feeling snacky, and I remembered that the I84 Diner has their own bakery and does ice cream, so I cobbled together a small group of people to walk back over to the dinervwith me for dessert and snacks. I ordered a vanilla ice cream soda, and a slice of a basic cream chedsecake.

If the cheesecake at the 84 Diner were a person, I would make sweet love to it. It has a very balanced richness to it, the texture was almost whipped, and it was just so creamy and melty and amazing…. And at $4.99/slice, they give you a HUGE piece, too. Oh, and get this: No grahm cracker crust! with my soy allergy, I have to watch for some snacks and crackers, but this wasjust cream cheese, and sugar, and eggs, and HEAVEN.

Sunday was short. I attended Galina’s class on ancestor worship, the Common Cause panel, and the closing ceremony.

A friend decided to get me a final night in the hotel, cos I was unable to come off as sufficiently pathetic to others, and I have a ride arranged. A couple other people decided to stay tonight, as well, and we went out for dinner.

While out, I noticed a Wells Fargo branch, so if I’m lucky, I could stand to deposit some of this money directly into my account, but it would depend on whatever plans my ride may have had in addition to picming me up and dropping me off at the train depot in Poughkeepsie.

So, so far, so good. If I never update again, after this, it means that aliens abducted the train, and I bequeath care of my Ni-Ni-Nigel to my friends Susie and/or Phaedra, who can split the profits of anything left in my Etsy shop and any future royalties on my novels –butvon the condition that none of VC Andrews’ ghost-writers come within a few miles of my unfinished manuscripts. The ghost of VC Andrews shouldn’t, either.


6 thoughts on “rough timeline of my Polytheist Leadership Conference

  1. I feel so old and lame that I couldn’t stay up and party with everybody till 2 or 4 in the morning Saturday night. It’s not as though I had people as fascinating as all of you to hang out with when I was a youngster. Is that just? Anyhow, it was wonderful meeting you in person, and thanks for this writeup, it will help people get a sense of how the event felt.


  2. Well, since I didn’t write in gory details about how much wd had to bow and make offerings to Pharaoh Tamara, and how Raven Kaldera force-femmed all the mens and spanked everyone, and how Sannion rubbed his dick on everything, or how the YSEE folks were goose-stepping and lighting all the present queer folk on fire (and considering how many visibly queer folk were there, it would’ve been a fire visible from space, I’m sure), andabout Galina’s secret lectures on how Neopagans are destroying everything… There are still going to be people who think that I’m talking crap or something, but oh well….


    • I knew I was going to be wrong –I was making a wild guess based on when I had my chest surgery, which was seven years ago this last June, and the February after, i had the nipple reconstruction. I couldn’t remember if we met before of after the revision.


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