Words and Gold

Greetings and welcome to my blog.

An unglamorous salutation for a place for writings about magick, occultism, Paganism, research, religion, reflection and social science. But I’m of a mind right now that there’s just a little too much glamour (of both kinds) filling up the occult blogosphere. But that’s me. Magic and magical religions are inherently beautiful, powerful, and meaningful cultural traditions that don’t need an influencer or a highfalutin celebrity to keep a seeker of knowledge interested.

That’s how I approach talking and writing about these traditions; as someone who sees and knows their cultural importance and as someone who loves them. I’m not here to teach anything. Far from it. I’m surfing on a mobius strip between anthropology of religion professor and student apprentice of various cultural folk magic practices. I know a thing or two about many, I’m utterly at a loss about others. As often as I’m going to be answering questions, I’ll be questioning answers. I’m not using this space as a platform to recruit students or acolytes.

Truth? I’m just as enamored and puzzled and challenged and delighted by esoteric religions and magic as anyone who goes looking for it. All I’m bringing to this are reflections and stories — from past research, present studentship and apprenticing, and future exploration — that lay bare a magical life. I am expert in some places, neophyte and others, and rankle at having to commit or settle on one way to see and experience the world; if anything, I tend to unravel things to see how they are made then celebrate creative reassembly. This makes me a problem in some circles, but I’m alright with that. 

I will be reflecting on my experiences with Western esotericism, this remarkable modern Pagan community I’m part of, academic and artistic study of magic and new religions, witchcraft, hoodoo, folk magic and traditions of various cultures… and on how to balance being a longtime academic with a fairly new (and overdue) calling as a spiritual advisor, rootworker, and psychic reader. There will be pontifications and strong opinions here, but also real exercises in humility and having my ass handed to me. As I tell my secular students, you can’t learn anything if you don’t screw up from time to time. This will not be a space where I pretend to know more than I know.

I’ll also be sharing the stories of some remarkable people I have known and still know, who have terrific stories and lives as magical religious folks. I am currently part of a grant funded archive project to document the Pagan community of Minnesota; while there are official interviews that people can access, there are also those interstitial moments where relationships are cultivated and expressed — the cultural effect of shared magical and religious practice — that I’ll take lots of space and time here to share. Real magic is done by real people who are far more brave, beautiful, and fascinating than any fictitious wizards, fairy-tale witches or occult superheroes. I love them, and I have crafted a difficult life around them because the meaningful relationships you make are the most powerful of magicks.

So, I’m doing this anyway, but stick around if you like. My bio is on… the bio page (I’m so clever!); you’ll see I approach this space not only as a practitioner but as a scholar of religion, community and magic. I won’t be doling out advice here — that part of my profession will be elsewhere on the web when it’s time. I won’t be reading or responding to comments — I don’t have time for that, but a formal communication is available on the contact page. If I review anything it’s because I want to, not because I’m getting compensated (though I’m not opposed to that, but I will tell you what I really think). I do hope to continue to make and use magic and to keep people who are interested — seriously interested — to study and love it as much as I do, and to see the cultural importance of esoteric and folk religions.

We are in a time of profound transformation within our culture. The more literate, practiced and excited we become around ultimate transformation, the more we will not fear it and embrace it – and we’ll rightly use magic to stop escaping the world and to engage passionately with it again.

 (And that’s my intro, and probably the last time I’m this lecturley.)  

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