Crystal Blanton, one of PNC Bay Area’s own writers and editors (and my sister in Solitaires of the Second Circle), will be highly featured this weekend at the 19th annual PantheaCon in San Jose. A Wiccan High Priestess who works full time in the Social Services field, Crystal has a degree in Psychology and is working on her master’s degree in Social Work at Cal State East Bay. She has four children and three grandchildren, and somehow still finds the time to blog for us, Patheos’ Daughters of Eve, serve as first officer in the local chapter of the Covenant of the Goddess and as a board member of Solar Cross, and has even found the time to write three books for Megalithic/Immanion Press.
I recently asked Crystal a few questions about her plans for PantheaCon.
On Friday afternoon you will be featured on the Patheos Pagan Intrafaith Panel with other Patheos bloggers. What is it like being a well-known pagan blogger?
I don’t know that I am as well known as I have been blessed with several opportunities within the community. Working with the Patheos Pagan Portal was something that happened through connections and because of the release of the Shades of Faith book. I was able to accept an offer with the then editor of the portal and it has supported me in building an author platform.
Later that evening, you will be presenting the next stage in a series of restorative justice workshops that have occurred at PantheaCon over the years. What progress have you witnessed in the past?
For the past several years I have brought workshops to the Con in an attempt to offer another view of managing community dynamics in a healthier way. Last year’s restorative justice circle was small but powerful and supported a sense of importance that everyone has in community. This year I plan to do the same by supporting the ability to increase capacity for compassion, tolerance and love. I have seen a willingness to engage in a new process and that is very important. The more the community is exposed to alternative ways to manage conflict or build community, the more options we have for a system of restoration.
You will also be a part of the Shades of Ritual on Saturday morning with other priestesses featured in the anthology by the same name. What can attendees expect in this circle of faith?
Anyone coming to the Shades of Ritual on Saturday can expect some pretty diverse women putting on a diverse ritual. The fact that four different priestesses from different paths can come together to show the value of diversity is very important for the growth of our community. As we continue to thrive, we will see more diversity in race, gender and practice. Celebrating those differences and honoring our similarities could be the keys to continued sustainability.
The ritual we have planned is simple yet complex, representing many different things in one intricate dance of spirituality. I would hope an attendee walked away feeling like they too have something very special to give to the community and that our differences are of value.
Will there be copies of the Shades of Ritual book available for purchase at the event?
There will be several book available for purchase at the ritual.
Lastly, you will be on the Immanion Press panel on Saturday afternoon. What is it like to be affiliated with a publisher like Immanion?
Immanion Press is a great publisher to be with. I enjoy the personable approach of Taylor Ellwood and Storm Constantine, the are invested in the people who write for them. I enjoy the diversity of the writers at Immanion as well, it is the value that is put in our personal visions that excites me, not the marketing value of the books produced.
Do you feel that there is a right or wrong publisher for a writer?
Not every publisher is the best publisher for every writer. Finding a publisher that shares your values and mission is important, it can shape the voice that comes from your books.
What advice do you have for new pagan writers?
The best advice I would give to a new Pagan writer is to write…. consistently. Get use to the process of writing, being edited, being visible and being heard. I would also include that an author platform is one of the most important things an author can do for his or herself. Books don’t sell themselves and neither do reputations. Building an author platform means putting yourself out there, networking, writing for the public and creating a brand for yourself as an artist.
And as an accomplished Immanion author, will your books — including you brand new book Pain and Faith in the Wiccan World — be available for purchase at PantheaCon?
I plan to sell books at the Con, including the new one, Pain and Faith in a Wiccan World. This book is several years of growing, learning, grieving and counseling wrapped with the bow of spirituality on top. It is a book that focuses on the natural transitions of life and how counseling techniques and Pagan spirituality can correlate for healing. Death, grief, fear, anger, anxiety are all normal processes that we have to go through and the more tools we have, the more successful we might be in growing through them.
And now for a little fun. You’ve been going to PantheaCon for a couple of years now. Give me your “Top 5 Things for Newbies to Do at PantheaCon:”
1. Go around and collect the ribbons from various organizations and people.
2. Shop till you drop. Make sure to slate enough time and money for the vending room.
3. Go to a CAYA coven ritual. One of the first things I did on my first PantheaCon.
4. Talk to people and network with those you don’t get a chance to see normally. PantheaCon is a great environment to meet others and have incredible conversations.
5. Go to the Pomba Gira. Dance, sweat, chant, sing, and enjoy the power of the Pomba on Friday night. Don’t forget your black and red outfit!!
Times and places you can catch Crystal at PantheaCon:
Boardroom, Pagan Intrafaith by Patheos Pagan Channel Bloggers
San Martin/ San Simeon Room, Restorative Community Circle; Tolerance, Cooperation and Love by Crystal Blanton
Carmel Room, Shades of Ritual; Minority Pagans in Practice by Shades of Faith Authors
Silicon Valley Room, A Publisher’s Embodiment of Co-operation, Tolerance, and Love by Immanion Press
CoG/NROOGD/NWC Suite, Room 1054 (Presidential suite), Pagans and Privilege Panel
Jelen VanderYacht reporting, Pagan Newswire Collective Bay Area