This month, PantheaCon has been under scrutiny. A firestorm has erupted, dividing the community and showing us where the rifts are, perhaps rifts that have been here for a very long time. The Wild Hunt summarized the issue succinctly in this December 3 post (first three paragraphs).
Presenters were announced for the 2019 PantheaCon scheduled programming and segments of the community weren’t happy about two of those presenters. The trans community reported concerns with Max Dashu’s alleged stance against trans women participating in events intended to celebrate biologically-born women.[*] Pagans of color reported concerns with Witchdoctor Utu’s alleged cultural appropriation. In both instances, I want to emphasize “alleged” not just for legal reasons, but because there really are disputes about whether these allegations are even true or have, at least in part, been misrepresented and factually distorted.
[*] – Psst… please see updated notes at the end of this post.
In response, the organizers at PantheaCon then un-invited the two controversial presenters. Yes– their presentations were accepted, announced to the public, and then in response to the reported concerns, un-invited publicly and neither will now be presenting at PantheaCon 2019.
PantheaCon has also issued a public statement here (undated) noting that it was “a mistake to include Max Dashu in the program” because having Dashu at the event could pose a safety issue for the trans community. Furthermore, “all trans-exclusionary advocates and those in close association with them will not be presenting at PantheaCon for the foreseeable future.”
A late November issue of pagan community notes from The Wild Hunt, here, reports that allegedly Witchdoctor Utu was un-invited from presenting at PantheaCon 2019 because of his “veneration of certain black ancestors and the Underground Railroad” that were construed as cultural appropriation (Witchdoctor Utu is not black). Yet let’s not overlook the public support Witchdoctor Utu has received from native practitioners of the tradition he practices, so really, the only conclusion anyone can take away from this is the community is divided. For another perspective, Irene McCalphin of Mammy Is Dead shared a beautiful, powerful, and poetic piece here, “Social Gaslighting and the Make Witches Great Again (MWGA): Love Letter to QTPOC Witches here inspired by what went down with the PantheaCon and Witchdoctor Utu controversy.
Further note that members from all camps on all sides have reported receiving death threats, hateful and demeaning even defamatory remarks, trolling, and doxxing. Several members of the pagan community who dared to take a public stand along one of those noted position lines then had to subsequently disable all their social media accounts because they began receiving death threats, hate, and harassment. I believe every one of those members who say they’ve received death threats and harassment because I get those too for the most asinine reasons– like, “I hate what you said about reiki/starseeds/hexes/the tarot and you’re a total ignorant stupid bitch I hope you die a miserable lonely death and watch out my coven is going to curse you fuck you bitch die die die.” Not kidding. So I’m not one bit surprised people are sending death threats over serious controversial issues like the ones presented here.