Reflections on Paganicon 2018

Paganicon was my first foray into hotel-based Pagan conferences. Overall, it was a positive experience. It took place at the Doubletree Hotel in St Louis Park Minnesota over three days. It included workshops, lectures, book signings, demonstrations and panels. There was a vendor room and two evening entertainment events.

There were something like 750 people in attendance or more. Apparently, the conference has grown in recent years, because they appeared to be at the limit of what this venue could accommodate.

I was very pleased to sit in on a workshop lead by Ivo Dominguez, Jr. on Political Magick. I also had a chance to meet and talk with Ivo afterward. I found him warm and generous, and it was wonderful to meet him in person after years of being connected online.

I had the chance to catch a Sigil Magic Workshop with Laura Tempest Zakroff, which was very inspiring. In spite of the room being packed and a bit overheated, the audience was very engaged. At the end of the presentation, a woman in my row turned to her companion and said “I can do this!” That’s pretty great praise for an instructor.

I had a chance to sit in on Diana Paxson’s talk on the various natures of Odin. Diana is a very well-known author and was one of the guests of honor. I enjoyed this presentation too, particularly when Diana sang the runes for us.

On Friday evening, there was a performance by SJ Tucker, who put on a great show. She is well known and loved as a performer in the Pagan community so it was no surprise that it was an engaging performance. I particularly liked “La Sirene”, which is not yet on any of her albums.

Saturday night was the Equinox Ball, which featured a fun funk/pop cover band called TTime Machine, as well as a costume contest. Many of the attendees were creatively dressed, in everything from Viking attire to something that looked like Dr. Suess characters. There were kilts, flowy goth dresses, wizard capes, and more than a few sets of horns. Lots of people enjoyed the dancing, and it was a joyful event.

A few general observations:

There were a lot of Heathens in attendance. I don’t know if this is just part of the character of the conference in general, or if this was because several of the featured guests were from Heathen paths. Next year the featured guests will be Druids so I wonder if that balance will change.

A large bulk of the guests appeared to be locals, coming from within a few hours drive of the Twin Cities. Several of the panels that I sat in on had a very localized flavor, to an extent that I felt very much an outsider to the discussion.

They have already announced that they will be moving to a larger venue next year which is good since both the vendor room end the workshop / panel spaces would benefit from more space.