Without moving in with each other, how can we actually make connection with someone else? How can we turn the fear or distrust of people and things that are different into understanding and acceptance? How do we build an empathetic inclusive community?Nathair from I AM WE introductory remarks.
Ribbons, ribbons, ribbons!
One other thing that we have seen a lot of over the years are badge ribbons. When you register for the conference, you receive your name badge and a black ribbon that reads 'PantheaCon Member.' For some, that is where the ribbon collecting ends, however for many, it is only the beginning with some even collecting so many ribbons that they have to wrap them around their bodies several times. In all of our years of attending PCon, we have never had our own badge ribbons printed to share. Since everyone attending the con has to have a badge to participate, we saw the badge ribbons as a common thread that we could weave into a working.
There is so much divisiveness in our country at the moment that we wanted our working to offer some sense of hope. We recognize that as a Los Angeles based coven, we have more local community resources at our disposal than PCon attendees in less metropolitan areas. We also know that for some PantheaCon is the only opportunity they have to connect in person with like-minded individuals. In addition to providing hope, we wanted to help these individuals know that they are not alone by giving them a way to recognize the many layers of connectedness that they may have with others even if they don't share the same spiritual path. We settled on the phrase "I AM WE" as an empowering affirmation of this connectedness.
Feel the Love (and Spread It)
Putting it all together, we came up with a series of questions to ask the ritual attendees, ranging from the number of PantheaCon's people have attended to whether they still believe in Santa Claus. For each of these questions that the celebrants identify with, they are asked to collect a ribbon from the center altar. The point of this was to show the many different communities to which each of the celebrants belongs without even realizing. Granted these aren't traditional communities, but the shared qualities represent shared experiences and potential common ground upon which to at least start a conversation.
We knew that we wanted the magick of our ritual to spread beyond the boundaries of our timeslot, so we chose questions that would ensure each celebrant would receive at least two ribbons. We asked those with two or more to share them with others they encounter over the course of the weekend that either exemplify the spirit of community or could benefit from feeling the connection to others. To empower the ribbons with the qualities necessary to spread the love, we lead everyone in the following chant:
I AM WE
It wasn't until after we settled on the phrase I AM WE that we realized that it had been used as part of the marketing campaign for the Netflix Original series Sense8. We did briefly contemplate changing the name of our ritual and the chant of empowerment but ultimately decided that the message of the show was similar to the message of our ritual. No matter who or where you are in the world, no matter the color of your skin, who you love, or how you identify, we are all one people. Even if you feel isolated by place or by circumstance, you are never alone. We're all in this together!