Pre-Con Interview Series: Jason Mankey
Jason Mankey, local practitioner and writer, is relatively new to living in the Bay Area but he is not new to Pantheacon. This year Mankey will be offering workshops at the convention and gathering plenty of topics for his Patheos blog, Raise the Horns. The popularity of Mankey’s Raise the Horns blog has been in based on good topics, intelligence and his biting sense of humor. Mankey has a book out called The Horned God that focuses on the lore of the Horned God archetype; available on Barnes and Nobles online and lulu.com.
Mankey answered some questions for the Pagan Newswire Collective Bay Area Pre-Con Interview Series.
How many times have you been to Pantheacon?
As silly as this sounds I’ve been to PantheaCon seven and a half times. In 2011 I was only there for about 14 hours, which makes it a half in my book. My first Pcon was back in 2005 and I’ve been going consistently ever since.
A lot has changed over that time. I used to make the trip out here from Michigan, now I live in Sunnyvale and just 12 miles from the Doubletree. My first visits to California were always PantheaCon related, and as weird as this sounds, every time I pass the DoubleTree it’s kind of like passing by an old home.
Can you share with us one of your favorite past Pantheacon memories?
Just one? I feel cheated because it’s near impossible to just talk about one without offending half of California and parts of the Midwest. Outside of my Steelers and Penguins winning titles, the most amazing moments of my life (while wearing clothes) have been at PantheaCon. Words can’t describe how cool it is to walk into the Fir or Pine Rooms (or as my friend Angus calls them “the rockstar rooms”) and find 150 people there, all waiting to listen to me. That will always blow my mind.
Last year I did a workshop on Drawing Down the Moon and it was at the same time as presentations by Orion Foxwood, Raven Grimassi, and Christopher Penczak. It was like this murderer’s row of presenters I was up against and I was literally expecting 15 people. Surprisingly I had a full room, and it was one of the big rooms, that was extremely gratifying.
I take the presenting thing very seriously. I’m there to inform and to entertain and I put a lot of work into it. When I succeed it’s a huge jolt of adrenaline and just the best feeling in the world. When I speak in public I try to leave it all on the floor; I put that much energy into it. So when it works it’s a really great thing.
The Morrison Rituals I used to do at PantheaCon bring back a lot of good memories too. One year we had 300 people there, so many that we couldn’t get through the entire ritual. It’s been four years since I’ve done one of those rituals but people are still wearing their mardi gras beads from those nights. That’s really cool.
You are doing workshops this year; tell us about your workshops and what someone can expect to get from going.
Right now I’m doing three and a half presentations. I’ll be doing a panel discussion with other Patheos Pagan Bloggers on Friday afternoon. Our topic is intrafaith dynamics, and to be honest I’m not sure what to expect from it. Since there will be so many opinions tossed back and forth it’s possible that we might all set intrafaith back ten or twelve years.
It’s probably a good discussion to have right now. Paganism is going through a lot of changes. There are more and more humanistic and atheist Pagans, and a growing number of people who have formally identified as Pagan now forsaking the term. We are currently in the middle of some serious growing pains as an extended community so there should be plenty to talk about there. I just don’t know if I’m going to come across as a “big tent positive” force or an old curmudgeon during this discussion. I find myself leaning each way depending on the day.
On Sunday I’m giving a talk on everyone’s favorite goat-foot god, Pan. It’s a talk I’ve given at PantheaCon before, but it’s one I always enjoy doing. My talks on Pan are a strange mixture of academic lecture and dick jokes. During the workshop I talk about how Pan was worshiped in the Ancient World, his rebirth in the 19th Century, and my own experiences with him. It’s a lot of ground to cover in a very short period of time, but it’s full of information, personal reminiscences, and of course penis jokes.
A few hours later (again on Sunday) I’ll be speaking off the cuff about the History of Modern Paganism with my friend Kenny Klein. Kenny and I “toured” the East Coast/Midwest last year going to festivals out there and we had a lot of people tell us that our campsite bickering/pontificating/discussing was more interesting than most workshops, so we thought it would be fun to do it with a hundred of our closest friends. Weirdly, my wife has her very first PantheaCon workshop at the exact same time that Sunday. She was upset because my workshop with Kenny was the one she wanted to see.
I have a workshop on the waiting list, that might be added to the schedule if someone cancels. That one is called “Magick and the Occult in America: 1820-1953″ and was the one I really wanted to do this year, and was the one I’ve been working on for the past seven months. I was pretty dejected when it was rejected (that could be a poem!), but maybe it will still pop up on the schedule. That workshop is a whirl-wind tour of Spiritualism, Freemasonry, 19th Century Frontier Ceremonial Magick, and a whole host of other things. Obviously the topic is far too broad to present an exhaustive overview in just 90 minutes of workshop time, but I had a lot of cool things planned just the same. Maybe next year.
Why do you feel that events like Pantheacon are important to the Pagan community?
PantheaCon does two very cool things. One; it’s the only “national” Pagan Festival left in the country. When I used to visit before I lived here, the Monday plane ride home was always interesting because it contained several dozen East Coast/Midwest Pagans. No other festival today has the cultural impact of Pcon. A lot of that is probably because of the location, and because it’s always easier to fly to an indoor festival than an outdoor one.
The second thing is that PantheaCon is the only real moment where all of California Pagandom truly comes together for a few days. We’ve got the biggest Pagan Community in the country, but there are so few opportunities to see each other. No matter where I go out here on the West Coast, PantheaCon is a frequent refrain. Things like the Spiral Dance are certainly huge, but it’s hard to talk to lots of people at something like that. So for many of us PantheaCon is the only time of year we get to see certain people.
What are you the most excited about this year and what are you determined not to miss?
I’m just excited to see folks. I love the little moments, finding myself in the middle of a conversation on ceremonial magic or hanging out with Druids or whatever. I worry the most about missing people, not so much about missing workshops. I hate leaving PantheaCon realizing I missed my chance to speak with so and so.
What can we expect from Jason Mankey in 2013?
More writing on Raise the Horns, being involved in the Pagan Community here in the South Bay (yes, South Bay Pagans exist!), and trying to visit more “Pagan Things” all over the Bay Area. I feel like I sometimes don’t get out enough.
You can see Jason Mankey at the following workshop times at Pantheacon 2013:
- Friday at 3:30: Pagan Intrafaith in the Boardroom
- Sunday at 11:00am: Pan, the God of all in the Pine room
- Sunday at 3:30: Odd Fellows: A Spirited Discussion on Modern Paganism in the San Carlos/San Juan rooms
Pagan Newswire Collective Bay Area would like to thank Jason for participating in our pre-con series and being a great sport about it!
Crystal Blanton reporting, Pagan Newswire Collective Bay Area