Pagan Theurgy

Pantheacon 2016 – Reading Lists

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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)

Pagan Theurgy done, vacation time!

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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.

Editing

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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

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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.

Writing Retreat Recharge

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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.

Pantheacon 2014

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My Pantheacon schedule is finalized. Here it is:

Day Time Where What
Thursday 2/13 7:30 pm East West Bookstore The Woman Magician
Friday 2/14 3:30 pm Pantheacon, Santa Clara Pagan Theurgy
Saturday 2/15 3-4 p.m. Pantheacon, Suite 1057 Panel: Ceremonial Magick, The Way In
Sunday 2/16 3 p.m. Vendor room – Fields Bookstore Book signing
Sunday 2/16 7:00 p.m. Pantheacon, Silicon Valley The Woman Magician