Pantheacon is a large, wonderful convention where Pagans from across the country gather once a year to grow community and explore spirituality. This year, the main event for me was a sit-in on Sunday night.
The sit – I love this contemporary version of the sit-in of the ’60s, where one sits in silent meditation – was held in the hall outside of Z Budapest’s cisgender-women-only ritual. Z Budapest is a founding figure in modern Paganism; so important to the early feminist thought which broadened and deepened the emerging collection of spiritual practices deemed Paganism. She is a true Grandmother.
Her importance only adds to the heartbreak of her hate speech. Her attempted explanation and apologies devolve over and over into defining trans women as ‘other,’ as ‘not women.’ There is room for separate space (though likely it will still get its protests); there isn’t room for telling other people what they are, or are not, nor for labeling them violent or invaders.
There was no point in arguing; so we sat. T. Thorn Coyle (a erudite teacher and blogger) organized a peaceful, silent protest. With only one day’s notice, over 80 of us gathered to sit outside of Z’s presentation. Others also came to hold space and chant. It was a powerful, difficult experience.
I found a wave of grief crashing over me; I couldn’t even name all of its parts – sorrow for my own experience, for this fossilizing in a Pagan elder, for the pain of the community. It was a blessing I have an actual meditative sitting practice; I used that experience to remain present and open, to the wave, to my own body, to the astonishing outpouring of silent support around me. It turned into an experience of healing I couldn’t have dreamed of.
Thank you, Thorn, and all members of the sangha of that night.