IT would be easy, I suppose, to narrate my story like Oliver Twist and treat you to the place where I was born, and of the circumstances attending my birth; my growth, education, board and how I came to be the person I am after all my adventures and misadventures, but that would be impossible and perhaps a little tedious.
Suffice it to say, I don’t know the circumstances of my birth nor how Fate seemed it kind to fortunately place me in the loving hands of a family of farmers in the Puyallup River Valley who themselves were the children and grandchildren of homesteaders from Northern Europe, primarily. What I can tell you is about the beauty of growing up in a community – perhaps one of the last of its kind in my part of the world – where everyone knew everyone and everyone’s story. I grew up raising cattle, playing in the barns and cabins built by my maternal grandparents, and attending to the acres of raspberries and other crops we raised alongside Native American and Latino day laborers.
I went to the same school as my parents and my brothers before me. Many of my teachers were either former classmates of my parents and also had the pleasure and dismay of teaching my older brothers – depending on who’s telling the story at the time and how many beers have passed since we gathered around the bonfire blazing high with the limbs of corn and bramble branches with a healthy dose of gasoline thrown on top for show. These circumstances and many others may be unremarkable to some, perhaps you’ve experienced them yourself. This is of no matter because to me it was magic and that’s where my story begins.
After the fires died and my parents and their friends adjourned to the kitchen to warm themselves from the crisp Autumn cold, I stayed by the dying firelight and watched the shadows play off the cracked windows of the barn as the coyotes emerged from the grasses in the lowlands where the river used to flow before it was levied in order to provide farmers more place to field their livestock. In the dying firelight I saw sparks dance like miniature people rising toward the stars and descend into a labyrinth of red and black and gray. As the stars came out, I saw bodies wrap themselves in mist and congregate row after row in the berries and share stories with one another in words that I couldn’t hear.
When it came time for me to go to bed, I’d smell roses in the room where my grandmother spent the last years of her life with us as her body faded away and remember the times we’d spend praying the rosary and watching television while she smoked her Malibu thins and drank beer. I’d also remember stories of my uncle John, whom I never met, but probably would have liked if I knew him when he was alive. I also remember rushing past my the room where my great grandfather lived when I had to go to the bathroom at night because he honestly hated kids – good thing he was dead and would politely just close the door.
“The improvements that have been effected in natural philosophy have by degrees convinced the enlightened part of mankind that the material universe is everywhere subject to laws, fixed in their weight, measure and duration, capable of the most exact calculation, and which in no case admit of variation and exception… in the infancy and less mature state of human knowledge. The chain of causes and consequences was yet unrecognized; and events perpetually occurred, for which no sagacity that was then in being was able to assign an original. Hence men felt themselves habitually disposed to refer many of the appearances with which they were conversant to the agency of invisible intelligences; sometimes under the influence of a benignant disposition, sometimes of malice, and sometimes perhaps from an inclination to make themselves sport of the wonder and astonishment of ignorant mortals.”[i]
I don’t pretend to know how I came to magic, but I knew what it was – it was in the change of seasons, the agricultural cycles we followed, raising cattle from calf to steer, chicken from egg to hen, and all the stories of how my mother divined the names of me and my siblings’ by birth order with the aid of a Ouija board and pendulum. It was also in the apocryphal stories of a young monk who fell to his death and haunted what would become my alma mater. It was being taught by a large Native American woman how her people greeted the day and made offerings to the day. It was also in books that I stole from Barnes & Nobles that promised ancient wisdom and symbols to effect change on the face of reality. It was also singing Christmas carols with family and friends year, after year, after year and trips to Pike Place Market or going to the Washington Coast and seeing the sun rise and fall over the Pacific.
When I started my studies in magic, I knew it all. Not that I was some Merlin-like prodigy by any stretch of the imagination – hardly that at all – what I mean to say is that I was an unusually bright child with a penchant for tall tales and insatiable curiosity and wouldn’t shy away from causing mischief if it would suit my mercurial impishness or attitude problems. I suppose that’s why I ended up making the school bully get hit by a car, breaking his legs and hips, with the use of my mother’s sewing needles, a chicken heart and a heavily redacted ritual to the Horned God and Lady compliments of Cunningham [ii]and Leland[iii].
As I grew up and my family got the internet, I would spend hours researching whatever I could find on magic, folklore, and mythology. There wasn’t much back then, but there was Hermetic.com, hours of porn and learning the hard way the importance of making browser history disappear at the stroke of midnight. But then I digress – I’m a sucker for storytelling and thank you for your indulgences. I’ll need those when I go to join the ranks of the dead (hopefully a very long time away from now).
SO, why should this blog interest you?
Well, if you’ve found this blog it’s highly likely that you’re probably a magician of some stripe or one of my friends who’ve been pestering me to get back to writing in a more focused manner.
If you’re the former, I hope that in sharing my observations and engaging in dialogue we might be able to inform our practices and respectfully critique our experiences in a courteous manner that is mutually beneficial to us as individuals as well as to the benefit of the level of discourse in the greater community.
If you’re a friend of mine whose been pestering me to get back to writing in a more focused manner, I apologize in advance for anything I write that might disappoint your estimation of my abilities, magical and mental prowess and penchant for shenanigans.
If it so happens you’re both, I think you’ll enjoy my writing and musings and occasional snarky comments on Ye Arte of Social Magic. In all seriousness, though, whether you’re a practicing magician or merely interested in it from an academic perspective (or secretly writing slash fic about me and need fodder to build a more believable character – in which case please share!) I imagine there will be something to delight and intrigue.
By and large, my esoteric interests lie in the history and phenomenology of magic from the Antique to Contemporary era. I’ll leave it for you to decide what this means, but in practice it largely means reading a lot of old texts like a 21st Century scholar and abusing them like a 12th Century renegade cleric. I’m primarily concerned with the intersections between necromancy and the grimoire genre as well as their influences and confluences into historical and contemporary spiritualism in both Old and New Worlds. On occasion I might veer off the beaten road and into other territories such as American folkloric witchcraft, pre-Christian Scandinavian religion, Chaos magic, lodge ceremonial, and indigenous or traditional practices of the New World, but for the most part what you’ll be reading are the musings of a very Cascadian, would-be Wise One following the paths of the magicians and graveyard wanderers who came before me and hopefully leading those who will come after down an interesting path.
[i] Godwin, William. Lives of the Necromancers: Or, An Account of the Most Eminent Persons in Successive Ages, Who Have Claimed for Themselves, or to Whom Has Been Imputed by Others, the Exercise of Magical Power. London: F.J. Mason, 1834.
[ii] (Sorry) Cunningham, Scott. Living Wicca: A Further Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1993.
[iii] Leland, Charles Godfrey. Aradia; Or, The Gospel of the Witches. London: D. Nutt, 1899.