wgseligman: (Default)
2014-03-09 01:15 pm

Bull of Heaven - a review

In the past few years, modern pagans have started to reclaim their history. As Ronald Hutton points out, pagans have always had a strong sense of "history" (an interest in past events), but not always in "historicity" (understanding what actually happened, as opposed to what you wish had happened).

Hutton's Triumph of the Moon traces the factors that led to the founding of the modern Neopagan Witchcraft movement. Philip Heselton's Witchfather focused on the life of one important individual: Gerald Gardner. In other words, Hutton told us about the times, Heselton told us about a life.

Michael Lloyd's Bull of Heaven: The Mythic Life of Eddie Buczynski and the Rise of the New York Pagan does both.
wgseligman: (Default)
2014-03-05 01:58 pm

Can a blog survive switching sites?

For about five years, I've used LiveJournal to post my meandering, over-footnoted, and over-semi-coloned thoughts. It's also been an important tool in organizing my work on Isaac Bonewits' biography.

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wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
2014-02-03 09:43 am
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A little more progress...

...on the biography.

I've exchanged a couple of e-mails with Michael Lloyd, author of Bull of Heaven. He was kind enough to share some of his process in approaching the biography.

As I read BoH and composed the e-mails to Lloyd, I had an insight: I need to find some narrative thread(s) to make the story of Isaac's life of compelling interest to people other than "Isaac Bonewits fans." I never heard of Eddie Buczynski before I learned of Lloyd's book. I only knew about Bull of Heaven when Margot Adler mentioned it to me, and I wanted to see how someone else handled a biography of a pagan figure. Now I'm anxious to continue reading the book because I've become invested in Buczynski's story.

I need to do something similar with Isaac's story. I've got a couple of ideas, but they need to percolate a bit more as I gather more facts.

I also wrapped up a series of interviews with Deborah Lipp. In theory, there's more I could ask her, but at some point I have to mark a particular research avenue as "done" and move on to the next thing.
wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
2014-01-26 07:23 pm
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Getting back to work

I spent most of this weekend working on Isaac's biography:

- I interviewed Stephen Abbott, an old friend of Isaac's from Berkeley.

- I sent out messages to a couple of other folks I want to want to interview, to (re-)establish a connection.

- I wrote to Michael Lloyd, author of Bull of Heaven, to ask another biographer how he approached the kinds of problems I've encountered. (Quick review: read this book. I'll have more to say in a later post.)

- I spent several (aching) hours coding more of Isaac's old documents. I've barely made a dent, but with enough visits eventually the bird's beak will wear down the mountain.

I can't give the project this kind of attention every weekend. It did show me that, with persistence, I can get this done.
wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
2014-01-24 07:49 pm
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Thrills and chills

Yesterday was quite a day.

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wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
2014-01-11 03:02 pm
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Someday my prince(ss) will come...

Folks are coming for a ritual this evening. I have to mop the floor. The WetJet isn't working. I can't find my mop. There's nothing else to do but get on my hands and knees, and scrub with water and Pine-Sol.

As I'm doing this, I'm humming:



Of course, the title of this post has nothing to do with the need to scrub the floors by hand occasionally. It's something I'll have to do, with or without a princess, even if I had magical talking mice.

It's also part of an HP's job.
wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
2013-12-30 06:07 pm
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Stupidity and privilege

I got a bad case of the stupids today.

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wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
2013-12-19 04:45 pm
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The mojo is insane

Mojo is mojo, but this is getting ridiculous.

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wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
2013-12-18 05:26 pm
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Mojo follow-up

In my previous post, I mentioned that I was working on a talk about the history of Nevis. I presented that talk yesterday.

I'd been worried about how the talk would be received. I focused more on the history of the Nevis estate and on the construction of the Nevis synchrocyclotron than the research we've done in the past 35 years. Anyone who came to the talk expecting to hear their work or name mentioned would be disappointed.

My stomach was doing flip-flops in the two hours just before the talk.

I needn't have worried. Everyone loved the talk. They were more interested in learning something new than having their egos stroked. I made the talk non-technical, so the family and friends of the physicists at the holiday party had no problems following it.

The mojo lives!
wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
2013-12-08 12:07 pm

Playing with the Mojo

I recently picked up Playing at the World by Jon Peterson. This book is a history of the game Dungeon & Dragons.

Since many of my readers are Wiccan, I'll use an analogy that will make sense to them: Playing at the World does for D&D what Ronald Hutton's Triumph of the Moon did for Wicca. It explores the different elements and influences that resulted in D&D, and follows the chain of influence forward as D&D affected the world around it. [1] [2]

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wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
2013-12-03 08:19 pm
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True steel - part three

In which 30-year-old Argothald questions are finally answered.

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wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
2013-12-02 01:33 am
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True steel - part two

In part 1 of this Argothald story, I talked about the game's first players. In this part, I want to delve into how I designed part of the fictional world of Tala, the planet of the Argothald.

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wgseligman: (Ren Faire)
2013-11-30 02:53 pm
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True steel - part one

I want to tell a story about Argothald. It's a geek story. It spans 35 years and two worlds, one real and one fictional. There's no moral, no point, no great insight to be had. It's merely a story I wish to share.

It's also long enough that I want to split it into three parts.

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wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
2013-11-29 02:15 am
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Thanksgiving nightmare

I know the holiday of Thanksgiving has its origins in colonial activities with a dubious morality at best. I know it's not a holiday celebrated world-wide, nor is it religious. Be that as it may, it's a holiday that's come to have a meaning that transcends its origins and the demands of a belief system.

I had a lovely Thanksgiving dinner at the home of a friend of mine. Afterwards, we went out to see a late movie (Thor: The Dark World; nice superhero action film) and didn't get out of the theater until after midnight.

The mall was crowded. Many stores were open. There was a long line in front of the Gamestop. According to a sign, JC Penney had opened at 8PM would remain open until midnight on Friday night. There were restaurants open as well, to feed the people standing on line and looking for sales.

It's bad enough that we start seeing Christmas sales as early as Labor Day. Thursday was supposed to be a day that's an acknowledgement of the good we've received and connections we have with others. Now we see it distorted into an excess of mass consumerism.

I don't blame the stores, though my heart goes out to all those employees forced to work those outrageous shifts on a holiday. I blame all those who made use of those sales to save a few bucks. Corporate America goes where the money is.

And now we have "Black Friday" and "Cyber Monday," names which have been acquired due to the practices of consumers and vendors on those days following Thanksgiving.

I have an idea. Why don't we have a sale only for those who don't commit acts of violence? Or who can demonstrate that they've never posted a racist/sexist/homophobic comment on the internet?

If people are willing to sacrifice anything for money, can't we get them to sacrifice bigotry and hatred instead of family?
wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
2013-09-22 10:34 am
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Tootsies

I hung with out with one of my Wicca students yesterday. She's incredibly pregnant, due in under a week. She looks just about ready to pop.

You can see and feel the baby's feet move as he shifts around in her mother's tummy. It's an amazing experience.

Mother and baby are both healthy. The baby may be a little too healthy; Momma is worried that having such a large baby may make delivery difficult. I guess sometimes good pre-natal care and nutrition has its price.

Obviously, having a baby will mean profound changes in my student's life. As a Wiccan teacher, it will bring some changes in my life as well. Will my student be able to attend Circles as often? Is my apartment "baby-proof"? Will having a baby present change the energy in the Circle?

We are all going to learn something new from this, both the students and the teacher.
wgseligman: (Ren Faire)
2013-09-15 02:07 pm

Ren Faire 2013

I visited the NY Ren Faire yesterday. It was a different experience than the last time.

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wgseligman: (blue eye patch)
2013-09-02 08:04 pm
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Pillows

If you've met me, you know that I like to wear colorful t-shirts. I typically pick up a new shirt at each festival or convention I go to.

What happens to the t-shirts when they wear out? It used to be that I'd just use them as rags. I've learned something else I can do:

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wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
2013-08-29 01:00 pm
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Bookcases

My bookshelves were full of all the games I've purchased recently. The games had spilled over onto the floor, stashed in canvas bags so I could easily grab them to take to a friend's place or a game night.

A friend of mine had a couple of bookcases she had to give away. They were the same style as the Billy bookcases I already had. I took action.

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wgseligman: (Celtic garb)
2013-08-14 01:00 am
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Using Shapeways, part 2

Remember that libation bowl I mentioned in my previous Shapeways post? Here's how it turned out.

What I designed Material I chose What I got
Bowl rendered ceramic with pale yellow glaze Bowl from Shapeways
wgseligman: (tuxedo)
2013-08-12 05:06 pm
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Something more

From 1993 through 2001, I was part of a close-knit Wiccan circle. That group remained stable, adding or losing only a couple of people, from its start to its finish.

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