An Open Letter to My Peers and Students…

To all my friends who learned ritual and magic way back in the day when I did:

  • Please teach.
  • Please do public rituals.
  • Please start training covens/circles/temples/whatever.
  • Please pass along your depth of knowledge and skill as we were taught by people who were deep in their knowledge and skill.
  • Please give people the opportunity to learn from your example and mentorship, not just from books.
  • Isaac Bonewits standing at altar with flames rising 2008

    Isaac Bonewits 2008

    I am constantly meeting people who are so hungry for the real thing. They don’t even quite know what the real thing is, but they know something more must be possible. It’s just that, they don’t know how one gets there.

    So many people have never experienced the powerful rites that we took for granted. They are earnest, they are committed, but they don’t know what can be achieved because they’ve never actually experienced it.

    We can’t (and some would say shouldn’t) teach everyone. Over the years, I haven’t taken on that many personal students. It’s hard work, and if you move around the country a lot as I have done, it’s not possible to do one-on-one work with people for long periods of time. (And yes, teachers of mine, you were right; students will break your heart.) So you do what you can do, which is heaps better than doing nothing at all.

    I would not be the practitioner I am today without the generosity of those who shared their skills and experience with me; to name a few: Christa Heiden Landon, Althea Northage-Orr and the late John Northage, Alan Salmi, Aidan Kelly, my beloved Isaac, of course, and many more, some well known, many not.

    I also owe something to everyone who gave a workshop I attended, or put on an event, or officiated at a powerful ritual that I had the privilege to attend. All you old-school Pagans and occultists in Chicago who set such high standards, I owe you.

    We’re getting old. We’re dying off. Too many of those who drove the scene (however you think of it) are already gone. (If you think at 50 or 60 you automatically have decades still ahead of you, believe me, it’s not something you can count on.)

    Students and initiates of mine, have you trained at least one person? Have you done a ritual for guests or for the public so they can get a sense of what good ritual feels like? Have you done a presentation or given a lecture or led a workshop? Have you done these things the past decade? If you have, bless you, keep it up. If you haven’t, give it a shot. Do it for me.

    Heck, do it for everyone. And for the ones who will come after them.

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    Did You Know? #3. The Wheel of the Year (Part 1)

    Everyone talks about the Wheel of the Year, but where did it come from? A first installment about that famous cycle

    #3. The Wheel of the Year: The Basics

    The Wheel of the Year is the name given to a cycle of eight seasonal festivals spaced approximately every six weeks throughout the solar year. These celebrations are also known collectively as Sabbats, High Days, the Eight Great Festivals, the Greater and Lesser Sabbats, the Quarter and Cross-Quarter Festivals, or other names depending on your tradition.
    Graphic of the Wheel of the Year

    Four of the holidays are based on observable solar events, and in the Northern Hemisphere will fall on or about the following dates:

    Spring Equinox March 21 (Sun enters Aries)

    Summer Solstice June 21 (Sun enters Leo)

    Fall Equinox September 21 (Sun enters Libra)

    Winter Solstice December 21 (Sun enters Capricorn)

    The equinoxes are days when day and night are the same length—equal. From Spring/Vernal Equinox onward, the days get longer and the nights shorter until Summer Solstice, which is the longest day and shortest night of the year. In far northern or southern latitudes, the sun may never totally set. After Summer Solstice, the days gradually become shorter and the nights longer until Fall/Autumnal Equinox when they are again equal. The nights then become longer than the days until Winter Solstice, which is the longest night and shortest day of the year.

    The Solstices and Equinoxes are in some traditions called Quarter festivals, or the Lesser Sabbats.

    The other four observances fall more-or-less between the solar dates. Some groups choose to observe them at the exact midpoint between solar events, but they are most commonly observed on specific calendar dates:

    February 1 Imolc, Candlemas, Brigid, Oimelc

    May 1 Beltane, Bealtinne

    August 1 Lammas, Lughnasadh, Loaf Mass

    October 31 Hallowe’en, Samhain, All Hallow’s Eve

    These in-between-solar-events festivals are often called Cross-quarter Days, or the Greater Sabbats.

    As you can tell from their various names, this second group of holidays has strong roots in Celtic and British cultures. The cross-quarter days were the traditional dates in Britain for collecting rents and taxes and other quarterly activities.

    Many people observe cross-quarter days starting on the night before. In the Celtic calendar system from which they were originally derived, the new day started not at dawn or at midnight but at sunset the night before, similar to the Hebrew calendar system. For one holiday, Hallowe’en or Samhain (SOW-when), the eve is observed by Pagans while the next day, All Hallows, is ignored.

    The solar holidays are not always named, although Winter Solstice is also known as Yule and Midwinter, and Summer Solstice as Midsummer. Spring Equinox is increasingly popular as Ostara, but that is as much a back formation from the link between Easter and the equinox as it is a known date for a festival of the Germanic vernal Goddess Eostar/Ostara.

    Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox are also known as Litha and Mabon, but those names are completely ahistorical; they were first applied to the festivals in the 1970s by Aidan Kelly, who thought it would be more aesthetically pleasing if all the Sabbats had Celtic names (although Yule and Ostara are clearly Germanic). Although there are Celtic heroes and observances using those names that happened vaguely around the same dates, there is no historical evidence of those names being applied to Summer Solstice and Fall Equinox before Aidan Kelly did so. But the new names caught the attention of Oberon Zell, the editor of the influential Pagan magazine Green Egg, who liked them and popularized them. Such is how modern ancient Pagan traditions are born.

    There is also no record of any Pagan religion before the modern era observing all eight holidays, although there is evidence that each individual holiday was celebrated by some group at some time. The Celts, for example, observed only the cross-quarters until the Romans introduced solstice observances; some regions celebrated either Summer or Winter Solstice, but not both. The equinoxes were the least observed of all. Though all were celebrated somewhere, at sometime, by Pagans, the cycle of eight that we call the Wheel of the Year is a modern invention.

    But even if there is no precedent for observing all eight as an integrated system before the 20th century or so, it’s a good, workable Wheel. And it’s especially nice because the Wheel of the Year provides the perfect reason to have a good party every six weeks!

    Isaac Bonewits’s Neopagan Druid Calendar

    Eight Sabbats for Witches by Stewart and Janet Farrar

    Wheel of the Year: Living the Magical Life by Pauline and Dan Campanelli

    The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain by Ronald Hutton

    The Wheel Of the Year At Muin Mound Grove, ADF by Skip Ellison

    The ADF Dedicant Path Through the Wheel of the Year by Michael J. Dangler

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    Did You Know? #2. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

    Magicians and mystics from more than a century ago had tremendous influence on both occultism and contemporary Paganism. Number 2 in a series of brief looks at esoteric history and practical magic.

    2. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn

    Back of Thoth Tarot card showing the Rosy Cross with Isaac Bonewits's ex libris stamp

    Back of Thoth Tarot card showing the Rosy Cross with Isaac Bonewits’s ex libris stamp

    The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was an influential magical lodge whose heyday spanned the last years of the 19th and the early years of the 20th centuries. Many famous people of the period such as the poet W.B. Yeats, actress Florence Farr, A. E. Waite, the controversial Aleister Crowley, and others were members of HOGD and its various descendants and offshoots.

    Members of the Golden Dawn entered at the Neophyte grade (0=0) and progressed through additional grades (up to 10=10) as the result of study and merit. Each member had a mentor who was only one grade above them, because they believed that once you got too far along in your occult studies, you wouldn’t be able to explain things in a way that a beginner could understand.

    The numbers of the grades relate to positions on the Tree of Life, a diagram from the Qabalah, a system of Jewish mysticism which influenced Western esotericism as early as the 16th century. HOGD was deeply influenced by the Qabalah and other traditional aspects of Western occultism, classic occult texts such as the Key of Solomon, the Enochian system of John Dee, and writings of early 19th century occultists such as Frances Barrett and Eliphas Levi.

    Tarot was part of the Golden Dawn curriculum, although it was studied as a tool for inner development not for divination. Members drew their own decks using the Order’s symbolism. In 1910, Arthur Edward (A.E.) Waite collaborated with Pamela Colman Smith to produce a Tarot deck to his specifications. The deck, published by the Rider Company and known since as the Rider Waite, has influenced modern Tarot profoundly right up to today. Near the end of his life, Aleister Crowley also collaborated to produce a deck, with artist Lady Frieda Harris, but it was not published until 1969, almost two decades after his death. His Thoth deck differs, in some ways radically, from the Rider Waite, and is highly prized by many occultist.

    Although the Golden Dawn’s teaching documents and rituals were considered secret and only available to members—and members of the appropriate grade at that—mid-20th century, many of the documents, practices and rituals of HOGD were published by Israel Regardie, who was once Aleister Crowley’s secretary and an initiate of a Golden Dawn offshoot. The National Library of Ireland holds W.B. Yeats’s HOGD journals and has exhibited them.

    Golden Dawn ideas and rituals strongly influenced magical and occult/religious practices all through the 20th century, and still in the 21st. Many groups claim to be direct descendants of the original HOGD, but there is much dispute over this. Sadly, I am not qualified to judge which of those claims are valid.

    For further information:

    The Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie

    Women of the Golden Dawn by Mary K. Greer

    What You Should Know About the Golden Dawn by Israel Regardie

    GoldenDawnPedia FAQ

    Interactive Online Exhibition of The Life and Works of William Butler Yeats at the National Library of Ireland
    Of interest is the section called “The Celtic Mystic” which shows artifacts from his time with the HOGD

    Images from a copy of W.B. Yeats’s HOGD journal

    Tabitha and Chic Cicero’s website

    “The Golden Dawn is Alive and Growing!” blog post by Donald Michael Kraig

    The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn on Thelemapedia

    The Golden Dawn Lectures

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    Did you know? #1. 19th Century Romantic Neopaganism

    I’m starting a series of brief blog posts about Pagan and occult history, called Did You Know? Hope you find them of interest…

    Die Heilge Stude (The Holy Hour) 1918, painting of sun worship

    Die Heilge Stude (The Holy Hour) 1918

    1. 19th Century Romantic Neopaganism

    The word neopaganism was first coined in the mid-19th century to describe a segment of Romanticism, which was an artistic response to the dawn of the industrial age. A subset of Romantic poets, playwrights, and artists used metaphors from a highly idealized European Pagan past to illustrate the dissonance between industrialization and their more recent rural past. Figures such as Pan, satyrs, and fauns were used to stand for a sense of connection with nature that that they felt was being lost.

    19th-century Romantic neopaganism influenced the start of many back-to-nature movements, nudism and other natural lifestyle movements. There were quite a few Germans, for example, running around naked worshiping the sun in the late 19th and early 20th century. It’s from these movements that we get the idea that Paganisms are nature religions. It’s also from these movements, which were often very nationalistic and local heritage-focused, that the idea grew that only certain ethnicities should practice certain religions.

    In the 1960s and 1970s, the word Neopaganism was resurrected by Oberon Zell-Ravenheart (Tim Zell) of the Church of All Worlds to describe contemporary Pagan practice, and then picked up and further popularized by our very own Isaac Bonewits.

    For further reading:

    The Triumph of the Moon by Ronald Hutton

    Hippie Roots & The Perennial Subculture

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    On Gifts, Friendship, and Love

    I’m not going to say that it’s been a long time since blogged (although it has been more than two years) but let’s just say I almost couldn’t remember how to log in. For quite some time now I haven’t seemed to have the concentration to write. But one story has been on my mind a lot lately, so I feel I need to share while I can form the thoughts.

    It’s sort of a Christmas story, my favorite happy/sad holiday memory from December 2009.

    Isaac and I liked holidays. In October, we’d put up a little Halloween tree with wizard and witch ornaments, transition that to Thanksgiving-y harvest decorations & then on to Yule. We both had collections of holiday decorations formed over the decades, and we’d have fun putting up a little tree. He collected Santas, especially those that were more like the Ghost of Christmas Present or vaguely Druidic, green robed Father Christmases, or white-robed wizardly ones. I had holiday dishtowels, Twelve Days of Christmas drinking glasses, and tons of vintage cookie cutters. We took great pleasure in the festiveness, although it was always a little hard on me because I was working retail during most of our years together.

    The holiday season in 2009 was different. Isaac had been diagnosed with cancer in early October. By December he was still getting chemo and radiation, both very hard on him. I was taking him to treatments and doctor’s appointments anywhere from once to three times in a day, five days a week. Weeks of radiation treatments were frying him from the inside out. The chemo had miserable side effects, usually at their worst during the middle two weeks of the month. At those times, he couldn’t do much beyond try to get comfy on the sofa, which wasn’t easy because of the radiation burns.

    At the same time I was working the holiday season at the mall. I’d done it before, but this was maybe the second year when the mall decided it had to emulate the crazy extended hours that big box stores had adopted. As December progressed, it was required that our store to be open longer and longer, sometimes as crazy as eight in the morning until midnight. You might say, well, lots of stores stay open that long, and you’d be correct. You might say, so what’s the big deal? Well, our small store had a grand total of three employees all year round. The three of us had to cover all the store’s needs over those sixteen hours, while still accommodating days off (no overtime–that would cost the corporation money!). Sometimes, with commuting time figured in, an employee would have less than eight hours between the end of one shift and the start of the next. I know some employees at other stores would just sleep in their cars in the parking lot. Luckily, I lived close enough so I never had to resort to it.

    Thus, that December a typical day for me was take Isaac to the radiologist first thing in the morning, get him home, maybe put on a crock pot, go to work, come home, often quite late, and then get up and do it all over again. As the mall began to open earlier and earlier, I’d drop him off at the radiologist’s, and he’d have to take a cab home (he couldn’t sit upright in the car, so his driving anywhere was out of the question). When I had my days off–always weekdays, of course, at that time of the year–I still had to get Isaac to multiple medical appointments. I hardly felt like I had days off at all.

    (In addition, either of us had a clue that the whole time I was nursing Isaac through his cancer, I had cancer myself, second or third stage non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Two and a half years later, I’d finally be diagnosed when it reached fourth stage. No wonder I was tired!)

    By mid December, I was exhausted, mentally and physically. I had no holiday spirit whatsoever. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. I was a bitter, hollow-eyed shell, hating what the so-called festive season was putting me through. One day I came home from work and told Isaac, “The only thing Christmas means to me is that I’ll get a day off.” And I absolutely meant it.

    Days later, the Hermes Council, Isaac’s men’s group of some twenty years, was scheduled to meet. (You can read all about the Hermes Council in his book The Pagan Man .) The guys were going to meet at our apartment, small and cramped and chaotic as it was, because he really didn’t have the strength to go anywhere else. Women weren’t allowed at Hermes Council, but that didn’t matter because of course I was working.

    When I got off of work the night of the meeting, I hoped I wasn’t getting home too early. The Hermes Council was very special to its members and I didn’t want to disrupt their time together. But I was really to exhausted to head anywhere else. I decided when I got home I would go hide in the bedroom and hope they’d overlook the intrusion.

    As I feared, when I first opened the door I saw the Council members were still there. But the second thing I saw made me stop dead in my tracks. A Christmas tree. Lights strung around the room. Garlands on the bookcases and over our computer desks. Isaac’s favorite Father Christmas ornaments and figures on display.

    I did the only thing a reasonable, exhausted person could do. I burst into tears. I just stood in the entrance way, crying. Partly from happiness, partly from relief, partly from gratitude.

    Our friend Vann came over and gave me a big hug. “I hate all this Christmas stuff,” he told me, “but seeing what it means to you makes it worth it.” So of course, I cried even more.

    That night was the brightest spot of a miserable season. I thought I would burst from gratitude. I love those guys to this day, each and every one.

    That Christmas of 2009 was the last holiday season Isaac and I had together. He passed the following August. I haven’t really done much fussing for the holidays since then. Partly because after you lose someone, holidays seem off. Partly because in the course of moving, almost all of those treasured holiday decorations got left in New York. (Long story, that.) Mostly I just haven’t had the heart to bother. I helped hang a few ornaments on my friends’ tree in North Carolina, but I felt disassociated from it. Living alone the last couple of years, I really haven’t done anything at all except to put on display the cards I received. It all seemed too much, too ephemeral, too stressful.

    This year, I was invited to a tree-trimming party by a local Pagan group in Oregon, where I now live. As I hung an ornament or two on the tree, all the memories of that night, almost to the day five years earlier, came rushing in. I had to leave the room to shed a few tears. But I was able to go back and hang a few more.

    Now I’m in the suburbs of Chicago getting ready to celebrate Christmas with my family for the first time in about 15 years. (When you work retail, holiday travel is next to impossible.) Last night I helped my sister and her family decorate a tree with all the ornaments they’ve collected over the decades. I could relax and enjoy it in a way I haven’t done for many years. I’m grateful for that.

    I’m also grateful, and always will be, to the Hermes Council for their gift in 2009. Hey, I miss you guys! I want you to know how much that simple act meant to me. I’ll never forget it, or you.

    Nope, no bah, humbugs from me. Merry Christmas, if that’s your thing. Happy Yule, Blessed Diwali, Happy Kwanza, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, Happy Whatever Winter Holiday of Your Choice. Bring back the Sun with love and laughter, and do what you can to make someone else’s holiday bright. I think Isaac would agree with that.

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    Coming Out of the Cancer Closet

    Today is my birthday. I am 61 years old, which means I have reached one more birthday than did my late, beloved husband Isaac. It would not be such a milestone except for one odd fact—just as Isaac was diagnosed with cancer in his sixtieth year, so was I.

    I don’t have the same cancer as Isaac did, nor the same prognosis. It’s a lymphoma, a liquid cancer, so there are no tumors to be removed. They tell me this kind of cancer is treatable, but not curable. I’m hoping that means I have years and years ahead of me, but until they see how I respond to treatment (I’ve already had two rounds of chemo) no one knows. They also tell me I’ll feel better after a few treatments, but I’m still waiting for that to happen.

    I haven’t written about this publicly before because it’s been hard to know what to say. I have drafts of this post that sound cranky and angry, and some that sound maudlin. Both are true reflections of where I’m at, although neither by themselves are entirely useful. This is my new normal, so I guess I might as well get used to it. However, the new normal is not much fun. I feel like I’m getting the flu, or have the flu, or am getting over the flu, pretty much all the time. If you’ve ever tried to get stuff done when you have the flu, you can imagine what a pain it is to get through an average day. It’s really getting old.

    On the upside, I’m glad I moved to Oregon before this hit me full force. Had I waited only six weeks longer, I wouldn’t have been well enough to drive cross-country. I also get to joke that moving to Ashland was on my bucket list—good timing! Ha, ha. But more importantly (and seriously) the medical community here is quite good, very collegial. They all talk to one another. I really feel like there is an entire team on my side. And of course, they did something that doctors in two other states with fine medical communities could not, which is give me a diagnosis. I’ve been having symptoms periodically for years and years, but no one could figure out what was wrong. It turns out that’s not uncommon with this type of cancer. The cosmic joke becomes that all the time I was nursing Isaac through his cancer, I had cancer myself. That irony continues to boggle my mind. No wonder I was so tired all the time. And I thought it was just overwork and stress.

    On the downside, I’m living alone now, which is hard. I got ill so quickly after I arrived here, I wasn’t able to develop much of a friendship or support network here, either, which has also been hard. I hope if they are correct about my feeling better in a few months I’ll be able to network more. But right now, I feel pretty isolated. I am so grateful for my online friends, and long-time friends (and family) who keep in touch with me online. You have been an immense support for me as I muddle through this.

    So if you’ve written to me and I haven’t written back, or were hoping I could do something for you but I haven’t been able to, I hope you understand.

    Yes, I will accept all your prayers, good thoughts, and healing energies. This has all been pretty depressing, but it has let me come to the realization that I’m not ready to give up yet. So I will accept all help to keep me going. Send away!

    But some things I do not want from you. (Here’s the cranky/angry part:)

    Please don’t give me any advice. Please. Don’t tell me what I should be eating or drinking, don’t tell me what treatment I should be getting, and don’t tell me what cured Uncle Joe’s or your sister Carol’s cancer. Please do not tell me these things. It’s not that I don’t appreciate your concern. I know the advice and recommendations are being given from a loving place (mostly; some people are just busybodies). But it upsets me, for several reasons.

    The first is because we got tons and tons and tons and tons of advice and recommendations when Isaac was sick. I got a pretty darn good education on cancer then, and I really don’t feel the need to be told everything all over again. My Google-fu is strong. I’m a good researcher; Isaac used to tell me I was a better Internet researcher than he was. It is wearying—nay, exhausting—to be told the same thing over and over and over again. I appreciate your concern and love. Send that, not advice.

    The second reason is that we investigated a lot of stuff and tried a lot of stuff with Isaac, and he died anyway. And that upsets the hell out of me. He died, dammit, despite the fact he had a positive attitude (he was extremely cheerful and optimistic) and despite magic, and despite conventional medicine and despite alternative medicine and and despite “charged” water and odoriforous herb teas. That experience taught me that a lot of things may help, but there are no guarantees. None, zip, nada. So don’t tell me something “will” work, or is “guaranteed” to work or “cures” cancer. I just cannot take it seriously.

    Please also respect that I have common sense, that I know when to come in from the rain, that I know when to take naps, that I have a grasp of what constitutes good nutrition, and that I’ve had a pretty good first-hand education in dealing with the side effects of chemotherapy and other cancer treatments. Send hugs, send love, but don’t send advice. It’s exhausting to be told the same things over and over, and I’m exhausted already as it is.

    I especially need to remind folks that “cancer” is not a monolithic disease. There are thousands of different cancers, and thousands of ways to treat it. What works for one kind of cancer may do nothing for another, or even make it worse. And the field changes rapidly. There may be something available to me that was not available to your Aunt Matilda (no disrespect to Aunt Matilda) a couple of years ago. Or a “standard” treatment may now be discredited. That’s why I’m paying the oncologists the big bucks, so they can keep up will all that. My experience with the medical people here has been great, really great. I trust them. You haven’t met them, so please do not give me your opinion of them. What I’d really like you to do is to send them energy, too, so their intuitions and skills stay high.

    Which brings me to the issue that is perhaps the most important to me. All you, my readers, (and to an extent my friends and family, too), know about my condition is what is in this blog or my posts or what I tell you. You do not know my complete medical history. And you won’t, obviously. So if you were to give medical advice, you have no way of knowing if it is in the least appropriate for my specific situation. Thus, I ask you to please respect my medical privacy. I will talk about what I feel comfortable talking about, but not about everything. If you ask questions, I may answer them or I may not. They may come from love and concern, or they may come from idle curiosity. Either way, I will feel no obligation to answer. And if I say, “Thanks, but no thanks” to something, it is unlikely that I am going to go into detail as to why. Please understand.

    Anyway, telling you all about this is how I chose to celebrate my birthday today. I feel grateful that I have a birthday, and as the days continue, I will feel grateful that I can continue to put one foot in front of the other. Maybe it’s not much, but it’s what I can do.

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    The Great Oregon Road Trip Crowdsourcing Experiement

    For the last few months on the social media sites I’ve been hinting around about my impending move. It’s getting close now, maybe four to six weeks before I’m on the road.

    I’ve been planning – for years actually, but things like the death of my spouse got in the way – to move to Ashland, Oregon. I lived there for half a year back in 1989, and wished at the time I could have stayed. All these years later it still feels like of all the places I’ve lived the place to which I want to return. Admittedly I expected to get there before what are essentially my retirement years, but there you are. Life happens.

    However, I do need to crowdsource some of the move. Crowdsourcing is the social networking Internet way of doing what we used to call rattling the network or pulling in some favors. I like the idea. I have found the world is full of an astounding number of interesting people I never would have stumbled across but for things like blogging, FB and Twitter.

    So here’s what I need in a nutshell from you, my wonderful crowd: company on the road and somewhere to stay when I get there.

    Here are the details.

    The Trip Itself

    I’ll be leaving from central North Carolina sometime soon after Saturday, April 21. Can’t leave before then, because I have a workshop to teach that day, but I want to be on the road before mid-May.

    I’m gonna load myself and the three “c”s—cat, clothes, and computer—into my old Volvo station wagon. (The rest of my stuff goes into storage to be shipped later.)

    I’ll drive from Pittsboro to Chicago. I usually take two days to do that. I’ll then stay a few days in Chicago to visit with my family, and maybe see old friends, too. Depends on the time. From Chicago I head west on I-80 for a long, leisurely drive through much flat land, stopping at scenic wonders and roadside attractions as the impulse occurs. Then I detour to northern California so I can leave Isaac’s ashes in Yosemite, and maybe visit some folks who live in that part of the world. From there I head up I-5 to Ashland, where I intend to stay put for a good, long while.

    I’m estimating the whole trip start to finish will last anywhere from two to four weeks, depending upon how long I stay in Chicago, and how many people I visit along the way.

    Though I’ve done my share of cross-country driving, I’m not thrilled at going that long and that far alone. My son had hoped to accompany me, but it turns out he can’t get the time off of work until much later in the summer. I can’t travel with a cat in the car in high summer, not to mention I’d rather be out of the South by then myself. And I don’t like driving after dark much, anymore, which seriously shortens my driving day if I’m alone.

    Who I’m Looking For

    So I am looking for a traveling companion—a substitute son, if you will—with a few weeks to spare who can leave with me from North Carolina, or join me from Chicago onward. This person will have a valid driver’s license, a clean driving record, a bit of a sense of adventure, more than a bit of a sense of humor, and feel perfectly capable of helping me who cope with delays or mechanical difficulties (which will give me serious anxiety attacks).

    In exchange, this someone gets a free trip to California and southern Oregon. I’ll pay gas, food, lodging and other reasonable expenses (such as admission to National Parks) plus a plane ticket back to the person’s point of origin. In other words, if you can get to Chicago or NC on your own, I’ll fly you back to your home (from the airport at Medford OR to wherever in the lower 48) as part of the deal. Plus, of course, you get to pick my brains or listen to my stories or put up with my old codger taste in music for a couple of weeks, and maybe meet some interesting people, too.

    Interested? E-mail me at phaedra.bonewits (at) gmail (dot) com, or message me on FB. If I don’t know you already, be prepared to provide some references.

    What I Need in Oregon

    When I get to Ashland, I’ll need somewhere to stay temporarily. I hope to find a room to rent (I like living with other people) or a modest studio. I will have a cat with me, in a crate. If you can put me and the cat up temporarily anywhere in the Ashland area (Talent, Medford, etc.), or know someone who might be able to, contact me at the same email: phaedra.bonewits (at) gmail (dot) com, or message me on FB.

    Exactly when I leave will depend on the availability of the traveling companion (wow, sounds Dr. Who-ish, doesn’t it?) and arrangements at the other end, but I really need to get going before the weather gets too warm.

    So, my peeps and FB friends and Twitterers and blog followers, let’s take this social experiment to another level, shall we? Oregon, Ho!

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    The Great Isaac Bonewits Online Estate Sale, Part the First

    I arrived in North Carolina to crash with friends at their farm one year and two weeks ago. It’s time I take my future more firmly in hand. I’m clear in my mind now that I will move out to Oregon. More on when and where later, but I’ll wait till late spring or early summer, as I have no desire to cross the Rockies in the winter.

    In the meantime, I’ll be in the process of simplifying my life even further than I already have done. My winter project is to go through the storage locker and to be very, very cold about what I have that’s really worth taking cross country. More stuff to sort, more stuff to get rid of.

    That does mean going through a lot of Isaac’s stuff, too. I kept so much of his, both because I wasn’t ready to part with it for myself, and because I thought other people might like to have something that once belonged to him. I have boxes and boxes of magical memorabilia, as well as boxes and boxes of books and music. And boxes and boxes yet unsorted. My winter will be busy.

    His papers, as many of you know already, are being sent to the Davidson Library at the University of California, Santa Barbara. UCSB has a special collection for American religions, and now they have the Isaac Bonewits Papers as part of that collection. They’ll be there for scholars and researchers for generations to come, instead of rotting in a storage locker somewhere. Which makes me very happy.

    As for his other possessions, those I’m not keeping, beginning today (yesterday, actually) they will start appearing on eBay. It’ll be the Great Isaac Bonewits Online Estate Sale. I think he’d like that.

    First items to appear are vintage audio cassette tapes. These aren’t tapes of him, they are tapes he collected for his own listening pleasure. Some are Pagan, some are Celtic or folk, and some are pretty obscure. So if you are interested, please take a look. They’re available in lots of two to six tapes, with bidding starting at a mere 99 cents.

    As I get more stuff available, I’ll announce it here, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

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