Pantheacon 2016 – Reading Lists

Here are the reading lists I am recommending for each of my presentations – to save you the time to record them!

Reading list for Radical Thelema

Reading list for Advanced Theurgy

  • Tony Mierzwicki, Graeco-Egyptian Magic
  • Richard Reidy, Eternal Egypt, Ancient Rituals for the Modern World
  • Bruce McLennan, Wisdom of Hypatia
  • Patrick Dunn, Practical Art of Divine Magic, Contemporary and Ancient Techniques of Theurgy
  • Jeffrey Kupperman, Living Theurgy
  • Brandy Williams, For the Love of the Gods, the History and Modern Practice of Theurgy, Our Pagan Inheritance (Llewellyn Sept. 2016)

Pantheacon 2016 schedule

Here’s what I’ll be doing at Pantheacon this year. Hope to see you there!

Pantheacon 2016 – Change Makers!

Saturday, February 13

  • 11 am: Radical Thelema, social justice in Thelemic practice
  • 7-10 pm: Llewellyn New Book Launch party

Sunday, February 14

  • 9:00am Advanced Theurgy – The Soul and the Gods
  • 1:00 pm Consent Culture release party, Four Paths Hospitality Suite, rm 1064
  • 10:00 pmLlewellyn party

Pagan Theurgy done, vacation time!

It’s done!

Well, mostly.

Two years ago, September 2013, I started writing “Pagan Theurgy”. Six months later I turned in a manuscript that in retrospect looks more like notes toward a book. My (fantastic) editor kicked it back to me for a rewrite. I turned in the rewrite the first week of September 2015. So that’ll teach me to think I can write a book in six months!

My editor likes the rewrite and has placed it on the launch track. It’s such a relief. I’ve got some edits to clean up by the end of the year, but compared to the extensive reworking of the last 18 months, they’re pretty darned minor.

To celebrate I promptly went on vacation. Every free weekend and vacation week for the last two years has been spent on the writing – it’s time to party! In my case this means taking Alex on a week long vacation to…Sequim, where I’ve been doing all the writing. We closed the bookstore for a week and just went.

It was very interesting to be in the same house doing something completely different. I actually didn’t sit down at my computer once that whole time. We stocked up on local food at Nash’s Farm Store and Sunny Farm store and mostly cooked in the kitchen, saving our money for a really great dinner at Alder Wood Bistro on our last night. Ted came out one evening and we had a family dinner and breakfast, with the great conversation we have when we’re all relaxed and have the time.

Being in the same landscape on the same month felt like starting over. It was such a vivid reminder of when I first visited to start writing two years ago. I remembered the color of the light, the seasonal notices in the stores, the look of the farmland. With the book behind me it felt like I could relax and enjoy it all. I am very fond of Sequim and expect to spend more time there when I retire. In the meantime I can look forward to editing weekends.

Oh, and I took half an hour at Hurricane Ridge and scribbled notes for three more books.

Here’s what we did on our end-of-summer vacation.

Cline Spit fishing

Cline Spit fishing

Cline Spit county park is very close to the house. It was a calm day when these fishermen set out.

22015SeptElwhaDam

Two out-of-commission dams have been removed from the Elwha River to restore the salmon runs. This is where the lower dam used to be – hardly looks like a dam at all now!

32015SeptCapeAlava

Cape Alava is the northwest tip of the continental US. The walk out to the viewpoint is three quarters of a mile of slick boardwalk but totally worth it.

32015SeptCapeAlavaAlex

Alex took much better images than I did all weekend. He was dressed for the part too!

42015SeptLakeCrescent

Lake Crescent. I grabbed this quick shot leaning over Alex in the driver seat on our way back from the Makah reservation.

52015SeptHurricanRidge

Hurricane Ridge on a rare cloudless day. The visitor center is open all year long, gets pretty snowy in the winter!

62015SeptCedarbrook

This used to be Cedarbrook farm. Now the restaurant Crave serves local food out of what used to be the gift shop.

72015SequimDungenessFarmland

There’s a settler cemetery close to the house with a spectacular view of Sequim-Dungeness farmland and the Olympic mountains.

8Sept2015DungenessSpit

Dungeness Spit. It’s five miles one way to the lighthouse, mind the tides!

92015SeptRailroadBridge

If you mean to take a picture of the railroad bridge, best do it right away. It’s coming down to be replaced by a safer but less picturesque pedestrian bridge.

We spent a beautiful week in a beautiful place. Now I’m catching up on all my blogging and such before wading back in to finish the edits.

Pantheacon 2015

Here’s where I’ll be at Pantheacon:

  • Saturday 11 am Santa Clara Lives of the Pagan Teachers
  • Saturday 7 pm San Juan/San CarlosBring Race to the Table Panel
  • Sunday 9 pm Llewellyn Mingler, Llewellyn Hospitality Suite

I’m sorry to miss the Patheos blogging event Friday at 1:30, our plane doesn’t land until 2:15.

See you there!

The working class writer

Ann Bauer’s Salon piece about how privilege aids writers challenged writers to talk about where the time and money comes from to write.

I have a full time job. When I travel, or work is heavy, it can take up my evenings and weekends too. Being White made this job much easier to get. Being a woman made it harder, but since I am a token, I am making a man’s wage. Even though the job comes with periods of high stress I appreciate that I can partially support three families with it.

I don’t have kids. I do a share of the housework, cooking, gardening, and taking care of the pets (including the chickens, technically livestock but treated more like family). I am lucky enough to live with two adults who do their share too.

I know a Black woman who has a full time job and kids who manages to crank out a lot of articles and edits anthologies. She’s written a book as well. She’s a hero – I frankly don’t know how she does it.

I respect the writers of my acquaintance who support themselves and their families with their books. I don’t know any one of them who doesn’t also augment that income with lectures, workshops, classes, and other related gigs. Unless you’re James Patterson, Stephen King or Nora Roberts, it’s hard to make money on content alone. The ability to create is increasingly a privilege of the one percent.

Let’s get real, it’s hard to integrate writing into a working class life, holding a job and caring for the house (no outsourced labor here.) It’s easier to write blog posts and articles in the little slices of time left over than to complete a book length project requiring sustained thought. I’ve managed to complete three books in three decades by working on weekends and on vacations. I assure you the book that is overdue weighs heavily on my life.

All the appearances I make are time and money drains too. I was lucky enough to have one all-expenses-paid gig in my life. Otherwise, my expenses are at best defrayed and I use up my vacation time on the events. The prep time eats up writing time too.

So here’s my privilege: I have a job, a house, and a great family. I plan to retire as soon as possible and write full time, understanding that the ability to retire is also a privilege. Under these conditions I’ve been able to do a fraction of the work that I planned to do as a young writer. I hope my health holds out long enough to finish the work I know I am meant to do. Starting with the overdue book.

Editing

I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t want to leave my people and my cats (dog, chickens, bees, garden) and go spend another weekend in isolation. Duty drove me to leave my desk at the dot of 5 and climb into the car to make the hour and a half drive to Clallam County.

The world is so beautiful. I remembered this as I crossed the Hood Canal bridge, the water shimmering silver around the little islands. This is why we leave our homes and travel. On the pass the wind’s strong hand send clouds scudding and cars skidding. Across the pass the mountains relaxed into pleasant valleys dotted with barns.

Back porch view

Back porch view


At the store (Sunny Farms) (really) I picked up two days worth of lunch and dinner. The squashes are in, so are the cabbages, and they are ginormous, and there were little bags of candy corn by the cash register.

I realized that this is where I came in. The wheel has turned one whole round and I’m back in the season where I started the book. It’s been a year. I’m still playing out that contract, delivered a draft by deadline, now working out the edits. My editor wished me a happy writing weekend which means more than you can know if you haven’t left everyone you love to stick yourself in the echo chamber of your own mind.

I re-read the draft I made at the Labor Day vacation. It did not suck. This is immensely reassuring. Before anyone else can like what I’ve done I have to like what I’ve done. The draft, to be honest, felt like a slog, a whole lot of work squeezed into not enough time, and the prose felt dry. It’s lively now, less prosaic and more poetic. When the draft ended where I had stopped I was disappointed – wait, what next?

After a year in this house I know its little sounds, they no longer alarm me. I still wish I could bring Fiona the wonder dog along, but this very nice place belongs to a non-pet owner, so that’s out. But a warm cup of tea sends me to sleep.

In the morning the storm had passed and the Olympics came clear. There is nothing here to do but write which is the point. So I write. I’m leaning more into story as I go along and when I do my voice settles. It’s a nice feeling. Almost compensation for the absence of loved cats, and people.

Theurgy presentation notes

Last night I gave a presentation on theurgy to Horizon Lodge. The audience was generous and attentive. The writer’s life is isolated and it was a wonderful opportunity to talk about the work that I am doing. I also find it critically important to discuss the ideas and rituals I’m working on with live people, it makes the work better. If you were there, thank you!

Several people asked about the initiatory order of reading Plato’s dialogues. The blog Practical Theurgy lists them: Reading Course of Ten Platonic Dialogues Devised by Iamblichus.

I also promised a link to a bibliography and the names and dates I reviewed: Pagan Theurgy notes.

How to Write a Book in Six Months – specifically dicatation

Usually it takes me a year to write a book. So when my publisher and I agreed I would write a book in six months, I knew I had to step up my game. I had read a book called How to Write a Book in a Weekend in which the writer outlined this process: first he gathers research on a topic, then he spends the weekend dictating the book, then he sends the book out to be typeset and then copyedited.

I thought I might as well give dicating a try. Did anyone else besides Vic Johnson write this way? I found that the fiction writer Kevin J. Anderson dictates novels into a tape recorder while taking hikes. He says it makes writing landscape descriptions easy! Keeps him in shape too. However, he too has his material transcribed. Kobo Writing Life, “It’s Okay to Talk to Yourself”

I didn’t want to spend the money on hiring a transcriptionist. Instead I explored dictation software. I’ve been following the Dragon company since their very first product. Voice recognition took longer than the industry expected to become reliable. However I’ve started using voice recognition for phone texts, and these turn out to be pretty good, so I figured Dragon surely had caught up by now. Dragon Naturally Speaking v.12 got very good reviews. I bought the premium version to get recording transcription functionality.

I spent some time figuring out which microphone to buy. I finally settled on the Logitech H800 as it got the highest reviews for accuracy. It fits over the ears rather than in the ears and has an adjustable mike.

I was pleasantly surprised at how easy the process turned out to be. It was harder to get my Windows 8 computer to recognize the microphone than it was to train Dragon to understand my speech. The book I was writing has a lot of philosophical technical terms and proper names that the software couldn’t be expected to understand. However, once I discovered that I could train Dragon to recognize a specific word as I spoke it, I found the software handled those terms gracefully.

I was also interested in the idea of dictating while walking. My writing process involves lots of walking to clear out my thoughts stimulate ideas. After a walk I will spend time rapidly scribbling the ideas that came up. Also, the drive home from my writing retreat location takes about an hour and a half, and I often think the whole time I’m driving about the writing. When I come home the family turns out to greet me, people, cats, the dog, the chickens. This tends to wipe out everything I have been thinking. If I could capture the thoughts in transit I could increase my productivity.

When I started researching recorders I wondered how you get the data off the recorder. I found a YouTube video that demonstrated exactly what happens. It turns out that little portable tape recorders these days have a USB connection you can just plug into the USB port in your computer. Dragon has a function that allows you to pick “transcribe recording” and then select the recording straight off the device. It’s magical to watch it happen.

I settled on the Sony ICD-SX733 mini handheld. It wasn’t incredibly expensive and Dragon rated it among the top recorders for transcription accuracy. Using a handheld is tricky while driving, so I only turn it on when I’m on straight roads with no other traffic, which does happen quite a bit between Sequim and my house.

Transcription from the Sony handheld is not as accurate as transcription from the Logitech wireless headset. Partly I think this is because I use the tape recorder in noisy environments. Even so, for normal English words it’s pretty darned good. I believe every word I dictated on those drives home made it into the final manuscript.

An unintended consequence of this change in writing technology is a change in writing style. My voice is literally my voice – there is no keyboard between myself and the words on the page. It’s more conversational and relaxed. I like that very much. This technique also lends itself really well to writing blog posts.

After six months of hard use I managed to damage my Logitech headset. The company graciously agreed to replace it even without the receipt. In the meantime, I discovered I can plug any microphone and headset into the microphone jack of my PC and Dragon will recognize it. I am dictating this on a little headphone plus microphone gadget I bought to listen to music on my phone. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that this would actually work! However it is not as comfortable or accurate as the Logitech headset.

Even with dictation I still can’t write a “book” in a weekend; not a 60,000 word book on philosophy anyway. I can do about 6,000 words of draft, and I think Anderson does something like ten. I’m eager to try the technique with a less dense subject.

This of course is another reason to go on writing retreat – I’m talking to myself the whole time!

Writing Retreat Recharge

Having turned the latest manuscript over to the publisher for editing, I’m giving myself time to “dink around”. I’m writing pamphlets, blog posts, fiction, and other experimental pieces. I needed to knock out a set of blog posts and tried doing it at home and rediscovered why I go on writing retreats. Even when Alex and Ted leave me strictly alone, with only the occasional interruption for something urgent, there’s the cats! There’s no cutting a deal with cats. Especially Princess Ludmilla, who baps me with her paw until she gets what she wants.

So I decided to do a writing retreat and see if I can just focus on doing small pieces. I’ve been doing writing retreats for more than a decade. I used to hunt out cabins in remote places: the Cranbury Coast, Lake Cushman, Silver Lake, Westport, Long Beach, Pacific Beach, Guemes Island, Quillayute River. When I could spend a week I booked into the Whidbey Island Writers Refuge.

To knock out the latest book I needed to get away almost every weekend. Renting a cabin that often was cost prohibitive. Fortunately Ted’s mom Carol offered me the use of her house. After Ted’s dad died she moved to an assisted living apartment in Bremerton where Ted and I can see her very frequently (we take her to dinner and the theater and Nordstrom’s, because that’s how she rolls.) I bought a Costco chair and a laptop table, brought in some sheets and pillows from home, and took over her den.

I spent some time tidying up the house. Ted’s dad had left magazines virtually everywhere and I stacked them in the garage. I hired a housecleaner to come in and clean up the refrigerator and wipe the house down. After that, I took on the housekeeping chores myself, because with one person spending a small amount of time in the house there isn’t really much that happens to it. I did get cable TV, Internet, and the phone bundle from the local provider, as Carol had turned off all of those services. She had also turned off garbage and I got that back in place as well. I was introduced to the gardener/caretaker who monitors the house after he came out on a Friday and politely asked if I knew Carol! He’d forgotten that we’d met. Carol tucked a note into her monthly check to him authorizing my presence.

In the early months of the draft I was finding my voice. I don’t think a single word I wrote in the first month made it to the final draft. To get myself into the writing mood, I went for long walks, and I explored the area. This is an amazing retirement community dropped into a fully functional agricultural ecosystem. Houses with big views are tucked in among fields of cows. . There is a 10 mile food shed furnishing almost everything you’d need to cook – vegetables, meat, diary, flour – and retired folks eager for decent restaurants. I ate lunch and dinner at every eatery with a local food connection. I went to the First Friday Art walk, I joined the local museum, I poked around the little downtown shops.

As I gained traction in the writing I did less recreating. I would drive out on Friday, read what I had written in the previous weekend, wake up on Saturday and draft until I fell over into the bed, get up on Sunday and draft to the end of the section, and then drive home. The winter weather was conducive to staying indoors – it was cold, rainy, and dark. I edited the manuscript in pretty much the same way.

So this weekend was a reset in the writing process. I have been out here in a month. Dire things have happened to the house in the meantime – it had sprung a leak and needed to be repaired. Also the Internet router had reset itself needing to be reconfigured. I spent Friday night managing these things.

I slept in on Saturday and woke up moving very slowly. I live with two retired guys and I know the truism that it takes two years to recover from the sleep deprivation of American working life plays out in practice. I didn’t hear the words in my head. When I write, I am really rather taking dictation, and I wake up with that dictation already flowing. On workdays the thoughts vanish under the present I can just get up and start recording. On writing retreats I get up and start recording.

I have a lot of thoughts and no focus. So I went into town. I ate at nourish, a local food restaurant in the old Herb Farm. I went to the art museum and checked out the photos of Ross Hamilton in a 14 year retrospective. I took pictures of local food outlets for my food blog.

I drove down Dungeness Landing and took pictures of a young bald eagle and the lighthouse in the distance. When I found myself cruising past the Dungeness Cemetery I recalled that Ross Hamilton had said it has the best view of Sequim-Dungeness Valley. It’s a lovely place.

So it wasn’t a production weekend, but I got some material, recharged my batteries, and made space for the creative process. Which is what dinking around really means.