The New Encyclopedia of the Occult: TWPT Talks to John Michael Greer
(Copyright TWPT 2004)
TWPT: When was it that you first realized that there was more to this life than what met the eye? Specifically, when did you begin to suspect that magic was not all smoke and mirrors like you saw on the stage but instead a layer beneath the visible?
JMG: As far back as I can remember, I had a sense that the world couldn't possibly be as two-dimensional as parents and teachers insisted it was. As a child, I was fascinated by just about anything out of the ordinary, from Ripley's Believe It Or Not on up. Fantasy fiction made up a lot of my reading -- I discovered Tolkien's Ring trilogy at the age of ten, and the wizard Gandalf became my childhood role model. Yes, I was the kind of kid who signed junior high school yearbooks in Elvish.
I have a condition called Asperger's syndrome, which is related to autism but doesn't mess up your language abilities. Kids with Asperger's have a lot of trouble learning social skills, and usually become loners with some sort of obsessive interest to make up for the lack of social contact. That was me, and my obsession was anything weird. Growing up in middle-class suburbia in the 1960s, though, I didn't encounter magic as a practice, something I could actually _do_, until one day in 1976...
TWPT: When was it that you formally began studying magic and why was it that you moved from spectator to participant? What was it that you decided to pursue first in your magical studies and how did you come to the decision to start where you did?
JMG: It happened on a bleak December day in Seattle in 1976. My mother had taken my sister and me along on a shopping trip downtown, and we were on the eighth floor of the old Frederick & Nelson department store, long since gone out of business. While my mother shopped, my sister and I wandered over to the book section to kill time. I browsed through the science fiction and fantasy section, then found the "weird stuff" section, which in those days was full of books on pyramid power, and the Bermuda triangle.
There was something else, though, top row of the rack, just left of center. The title was _Techniques of High Magic_, and the authors were Francis King and Stephen Skinner. The cover art showed a young man in stylized robes raising his arms in a gesture of power, with sword, cup, wand, and pentacle hovering about him. The back-cover blurb spoke of magic as "the yoga of the west" and promised access to a universe of spirits and powers through self-initiation into a tradition of high magic.
I literally stood there shaking, feeling as though someone had just handed me the Holy Grail. I wanted that book, I think, more desperately than I've ever wanted anything else. I knew, right down to my core, that I wanted to be a magician, to practice magic, to devote my life to magic. Reality intruded; I didn't have the money to pay for the book. I made myself put it back on the rack.
A little while later my mother came bustling back from wherever she'd been shopping. Something had apparently put her in a good mood, and out of nowhere she told my sister and me that we could each have a book if we wanted one. She _never_ did that. I made a beeline back to the rack, retrieved the Holy Grail, and tried to be as nonchalant as possible while she gave it an incurious look and took it and my sister's book to the nearest cash register.
I read the book cover to cover as soon as I got home, and went from there. It was basically a manual of simplified Golden Dawn ritual magic, and so that's the system I started with. It was years later that I finally sorted out the different magical traditions and realized that the Golden Dawn's approach was one system among many. For those first years it was magic, my magic, and that was all that mattered.
TWPT: Did you have any written resources at your disposal as you began this journey? Do you remember some of the basic texts that you started with?
JMG: Books were my best friends already, and they turned into my teachers and initiators as I started magical training. Aside from _Techniques of High Magic_, a book that became central to my magical practice early on was W.E. Butler's _The Magician: His Training and Work_, which I'd still recommend to anyone interested in magical training. A little later on, when I'd begun to develop an interest in the wider context of magical practice, Richard M. Bucke's _Cosmic Consciousness_ and Theodore Roszak's _Where the Wasteland Ends_ provided important guidance; neither one's explicitly about magic, but the first explores the psychology of spiritual transformation and the second relates spirituality to nature. Finally, in my early twenties, I made Israel Regardie's immense tome _The Golden Dawn_ my central focus, and spent a dozen years working my way through it, cover to cover. It's not a book I'd recommend to a beginner, but once you know what you're doing, it's still one of the best things in print for systematic magical training.
TWPT: Were there any organizations or individuals that gave you some guidance during your initial forays along this new path?
JMG: I was strictly a solitary practitioner until well after I turned thirty. A good deal of that was the Asperger's syndrome, which made dealing with other people a challenge -- much more so when I was younger. At this point I belong to several magical organizations, and have studied in recent years from some very inspiring people, but that's a fairly recent development.
TWPT: Do you consider magic and spirituality separate paths or do they converge at some point?
JMG: For me the point of magic is that it's a way of spirituality and a set of tools for the work of spiritual self-transformation. It doesn't have to be pursued that way, of course -- you can limit yourself to practical magic, and never use it for self-transformation at all. My own interests are primarily in the mystical dimensions of magic, though, and so it's not a matter of the two converging at some point; my magic is my spirituality, and has been since I took up the magical path.
TWPT: Have you always wanted to write? How did you go about developing your writing skills?
JMG: I wrote my first book at age seven. I have no recollection of what it was about -- something short, and illustrated with my not very good seven-year-old drawings. By the time I was eleven I wanted to be a fantasy novelist, and pursued that dream for nearly twenty years, through rejection slip after rejection slip. I must have finished and submitted a dozen novels, none of which went anywhere. I finally turned to magical nonfiction in the early 1990s, and was able to get into print almost instantly.
As far as developing writing skills goes, the best advice I was ever given came from George Scithers, former editor of Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine. George commented that everybody has a million or so words of bad writing in them, and the only way to get them out is to write them down. Once you've written them out, you can get to the good writing that's also inside you. The same advice also works for magical practice, by the way.
Of course there are shortcuts. Strunk & White's _Elements of Style_ should be required reading for would-be authors -- it's amazing how many people don't realize that the best concept in the world won't get you anywhere if your manuscript is written in sloppy, garbled English. Learning another language is surprisingly useful -- I think it was Goethe who said that if you only know one language, you actually don't know any at all. The experience of putting the same thought into two different languages gives insights into structure, rhythm, tone, and connotations that you can't get any other way.
TWPT: Tell me about Geomancy and sacred geometry in their very simplest forms, and what was it that attracted you to them.
JMG: Geomancy is a system of divination, very popular in the Middle Ages and Renaissance but mostly forgotten these days, using sixteen figures made of single or double points; people with computer backgrounds can think of them as four-digit binary numbers. It's part of the Golden Dawn system and had a chapter in _Techniques of High Magic_, so inevitably I studied and practiced it. Later on, doing research in medieval magical writings, I found out that there were whole dimensions of geomantic divination that nobody remembered any more. Done the traditional way, it's as complex and subtle as the I Ching, and gives clear, straightforward, extremely detailed answers to practical questions. My book _Earth Divination, Earth Magic_ was a first pass through these older methods; one of these days I plan on doing something more extensive on the same subject.
Sacred geometry is another subject that used to be required study for magicians and is mostly forgotten these days. Magicians use pentagrams, for example, because the geometrical relationships that form a pentagram have certain predictable magical effects. There are many other geometrical figures with powers of their own. That's become a major interest of mine, since there has been very little work done on the subject in the last three hundred years.
TWPT: You are a certified Tarot Master, tell me how it is that one gets to use that title and how Tarot fits in with your magical studies.
Actually I'm a certified Tarot grandmaster. Those titles are issued by the national certification board, which in the US is the Tarot Certification Board of America (TCBA); their website is at www.tarotcertification.org . There's a process you go through to get certified, and there are many levels of certification; the grandmaster level is for those who have made significant contributions to Tarot study and practice.
Tarot is one of the fundamentals of the Golden Dawn tradition, as a basic alphabet of symbols that can be used in many different ways. It's not simply a method of divination! The Tarot is the Swiss army knife of the magician; you can do almost anything with it, from meditation and visionary experience through ritual magic to self-initiation, and more. I'm currently working with a magical order that plans on expanding its work with a publicly available correspondence course; the course will cover every area of magical practice, including some things that nobody's done for hundreds of years, and the Tarot will be the tool of choice every step of the way.
TWPT: Tell me about the first book that you had published and what it was like to see your thoughts given a form that others could share.
JMG: My first published book was _Paths of Wisdom_, my book on the magical Cabala, which came out in 1996. The material was originally written for a correspondence course on Cabalistic magic which I taught for several years in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Teaching the material via correspondence was quite a learning experience; there's nothing like questions from a bunch of enthusiastic students to show a teacher how much he doesn't know yet! It required a lot of work on my part, though, and I ended up deciding to transform the course into a book.
I'd spent most of my life up to that time working on my writing skills and learning how to get ideas down onto paper, so writing the course and then the book was straightforward enough. The whole time I was asking myself, "What would I have wanted to see in a book on the magical Cabala back in the days when I was first starting out?" To judge from the reviews, that worked fairly well -- a lot of people found _Paths of Wisdom_ very useful as a training manual.
Of course it was a rush when _Paths of Wisdom_ first came out. Sales were steady, but modest enough that the original publisher decided not to keep it in print; I'm talking to another publisher right now about a new edition. I understand copies of the original edition go for fairly high prices on the used book market, when you can get them at all.
TWPT: In your book Circles of Power you are taking a look at ritual magic in the western tradition. Give me an idea of what the "western tradition" is and how it differs from other magical traditions.
JMG: That was the publisher's choice of labels; I'd asked for "ritual magic in the Golden Dawn tradition" but didn't get it. I wonder how many readers know that authors have no say in the title and cover under which their books are published. Dion Fortune and some authors of her school used the phrase "Western mystery tradition" to distinguish their post-Golden Dawn magic from Theosophy, and that's more or less where talk of a "western tradition" came from.
_Circles of Power_ was my first serious effort at a handbook of ritual magic in the Golden Dawn system. What set it apart from nearly everything else in the field was that it didn't just copy the original Golden Dawn tools and techniques -- it expanded on them, dropped some things that didn't work too well and replaced them with other things. There was some bellowing in the stricter end of the Golden Dawn community when it first came out. Too many people in the occult scene these days are obsessed with authenticity, even when it gets in the way of effectiveness. The magicians of the past would have laughed themselves silly at that attitude; for them, the important thing was what worked.
TWPT: Has it been easy or hard for you to share some of the complex ideas of ritual magic in written form?
JMG: Ritual magic translates into written language very easily. There's a good reason for that: for many centuries, it's primarily been passed on in written form. All through the Middle Ages, for example, ritual magic was written up in grimoires -- literally "grammars" of magical practice -- and students would basically be handed one and told to follow the instructions. All the major magical orders of the last century and a half taught via written lessons. As a result, the techniques and tools central to modern ritual magic are precisely those that translate well into print.
TWPT: Who are your books aimed at? Those who thoroughly understand magic or those who are just beginning to explore ritual magic?
JMG: All my books are aimed at the beginning-to-intermediate market. Expert magicians need very few books. The further you go in magic, the more you develop your own personal style and approach to the magical arts, and the more you learn from experience rather than from books.
TWPT: If someone had just decided that ceremonial magic or ritual magic was something that they wanted to pursue seriously how would you advise them to begin?
JMG: I'd tell them to choose one book on basic magical practice, select a set of practices, and do those every day for a year. Magic is like music; you learn it by working at it, and daily practice is the one absolute non-negotiable requirement. Very few people would try to become musicians by reading a bunch of books on music, getting together eight times a year to play one tune with a group of friends, and never touching their instruments at any other time. It's embarrassing how many people seem to think the same level of work qualifies them as magicians.
One year of daily practice is what one of my magical teachers used to call a "flake filter" -- it screens out people who want to pursue magic as a fashion statement rather than an actual practice. It actually doesn't matter what practices you choose. The important thing is that you do the same practice each and every day, seven days a week, for a year. Sometime in the first week, usually, the glitter wears off and you learn that magic is hard work. Sometime in the first month or so you realize that magic will actually change you, and change the way you relate to the world. Sometime after that, it sinks in that magic is real -- that it's not just make-believe and dress-up games, something to shock your parents and make people think you're way out there, but a real power that can hurt you if you mess with it incompetently. A lot of people hit one or another of those realizations and run like rabbits. Those who don't run, who keep on with the practice despite the fear, become magicians.
TWPT: In another of your books entitled Inside a Magical Lodge you give folks an insiders view of what a magical lodge is and how it operates, did you have any goals in mind when you decided to write this book? Do you think that you were successful in what you set out to accomplish?
JMG: _Inside a Magical Lodge_ came out of my contacts with the old fraternal orders. Most people nowadays know next to nothing about fraternal lodges -- the Freemasons, the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, the Grange, and so on. A hundred years ago half the adult population of the US belonged to one lodge or another, and the lodge system -- the set of ritual methods, organizational procedures, and habits evolved by lodges over the years -- was the standard way to organize most anything in the Western world. Nearly all the old magical orders used fraternal order methods; the Golden Dawn copied a lot from the Freemasons, for example.
In 1992 I joined a fraternal lodge, and found that its initiations and procedures helped me make much more sense of the puzzling details of the Golden Dawn system. I also knew a lot of people in the Pagan and magical community at that time who were deeply dissatisfied with ongoing political and organizational troubles, and it was pretty clear that most of those problems were caused by the lack of a workable way of managing organizational issues. I was talking with a Wiccan one day, swapping stories about some of these problems, and she finally burst out, "You know what our problem is? We have too many High Priestesses and not enough secretaries."
The old lodges didn't have that problem, and were (and are) able to run their affairs without most of the difficulties that so often beset modern Pagan and magical groups. Since I didn't see much chance of getting Pagans and magicians to join lodges and learn firsthand how they were run, I decided to do the next best thing and write a book about it, providing the complete toolkit for starting and running a magical lodge and encouraging people to give it a shot.
Was it successful? The book says pretty much exactly what I wanted it to say, and reviews have been very favorable. They have also been very, very few. Almost nobody in the magical community read _Inside a Magical Lodge_. It's had by far the slowest sales of any of my books, and nearly all the people who have written to me about it have been magically inclined Freemasons, who already know this stuff.
TWPT: What is the purpose of a magical lodge and why should someone consider being either a part of an existing one or starting their own? What advantages does group magical workings have over solitary ones?
JMG: A magical lodge is a group working with a particular set of organizational and ritual tools. You can use those tools for nearly any imaginable magical or spiritual purpose, but the tools do have their limits, and they demand practice and commitment. If you want to hang out with friends and do the occasional magical working, a magical lodge is probably not for you. If you want to do intensive magical work with like-minded people, on the other hand, a magical lodge may be just what you're looking for.
Group magical workings have three advantages that solitary work doesn't have. First, you can build up a lot more energy, and share the energy among participants. Second, solitary workers tend to exaggerate their own imbalances-- they tend to do more of what they already do well, while neglecting the things they don't do well, and they often choose symbols and approaches that feed their bad habits rather than countering them. In group work, the personal imbalances of group members tend to cancel one another out, since the group has to find a workable compromise among the needs and desires of its members. Third, initiation rituals are a lot more effective if you have a bunch of people pumping energy into them and one person on the receiving end.
TWPT: In your next book Natural Magic you explore the connections between magic and the things that surround us each and every day, plants, animals etc. , why is it that we have lost touch with this "natural magic" in our lives and how does one go about restoring some of these lost connections?
JMG: How did we lose our connection to the magical dimensions of everyday life? That's going to require a little bit of a history lesson.
Three hundred and fifty years ago we had something called the Scientific Revolution. It's too rarely realized that this was a revolution in the political sense. First in Britain, then in other countries in Europe and Europe's colonies, power passed from landed aristocrats and kings to business interests. What we call "modern science" was the ideology of the new ruling class: a worldview in which nothing exists except matter and energy, in which nature is nothing but raw material, religion is purely psychological, and magic is impossible. It's the perfect belief system for a world in which money is the prime source of political power.
The interesting thing is that nobody ever actually proved scientifically that magic doesn't work, that spirits and gods don't exist, or any of the other things paraded as definite fact by the publicists of modern science. You can test magic by experiment...but the experiments weren't done. The promoters of the Scientific Revolution simply insisted loudly and repeatedly that magic had to be impossible, and that was that. When Rupert Sheldrake did a few experiments on nonphysical causation a few years back and published the results, the editors of the very prestigious British science magazine _Nature_ called for his book to be burnt. Sheldrake committed what, in scientific terms, is the ultimate sin: he'd subjected the basic assumptions of science itself to experimental test, and showed that they don't hold water.
It's often argued that the ideology of science must be true, because technology works. By the same logic, the earth must be the center of the universe, because navigators in the days before Copernicus were able to use earth-centered astronomy to navigate by the stars. Scientists basically take the things that happen to work and cobble together theories to fit them -- that's the scientific method. Of course modern science has a very good working model of how some kinds of matter function, but it's radically incomplete because it leaves out so much.
The movie _The Matrix_ revolves around the idea that the beautiful world we think we inhabit is an illusion, and the real world is this dark, decaying, inner-city junkyard place. The reality is exactly the opposite. For three hundred fifty years, people in the Western world have convinced themselves that they live in a bleak world of dead matter spinning in empty space, when the real universe all around them is aflame with magic and power and infinite life. We need to wake up from the trance of scientific materialism and embrace the dancing powers that surround us at every moment.
How to do that? Natural magic is one part of the answer. The basic theory of natural magic is that everything in the world is alive and full of power. By learning to work with the material substances around us, making contact with their energies and using them to heal and bless and shape the world, we begin to wake from our trance.
TWPT: It seems that lately I've seen many "encyclopedic" types of books hitting the streets, what was your motivation for your new book The New Encyclopedia of the Occult?
JMG: The main inspiration for the encyclopedia came from my contact with the academic literature on magic, which is immense these days but almost totally unknown in the occult community. There's been a huge amount of research into the history of magic and Pagan religion in the last few decades, since Dame Frances Yates and a few other scholars made it respectable in the academic world. A lot of nonsense has been cleared away, and a lot of very good translations have made ancient, medieval and Renaissance magic much more accessible than it was even a few years ago. Unfortunately most modern occultists have no idea this has been going on, and haven't made use of the wealth of new material.
The result is that there's still a fantastic amount of nonsense passed on as fact in occult circles. You'll still meet respected Tarot teachers and diviners who insist that the word "Tarot" comes from the ancient Egyptian words _tar_, meaning "road," and _rog_ or _rosh_, meaning "royal." It takes about five minutes with a dictionary of ancient Egyptian to find out that _tar_ doesn't mean "road" and neither _rog_ nor _rosh_ means "royal"; in fact, they aren't Egyptian words at all. "Royal road" in Egyptian is _wat nesw_, and if you can get the word "Tarot" out of that you're doing better than I am. The whole "royal road" business comes from an eighteenth-century French crackpot, Antoine Court de Gebelin, who simply made it up.
Yet the nonsense isn't the worst part of it. Modern occultists make do with scraps and fragments of ancient magical traditions, when there's an extraordinary wealth of material ready to pick up in the scholarly literature.
There are entire systems of ancient, medieval, and Renaissance magic, published in English translations with footnotes galore, sitting unused on the shelves in university libraries, while today's magicians are content to rehash the same half dozen approaches under an endless variety of new brand names.
An encyclopedia seemed like the best way to put people in the occult community in touch with the remarkable work that's been done by scholars in the last few decades. Yes, there are other encyclopedias of occult subjects out there, and some of them are fairly good. I haven't seen anything that covers the subject the way _The New Encyclopedia of the Occult_ does.
TWPT: Is there an underlying arrangement for the material that you presented in The New Encyclopedia of the Occult?
JMG: Besides alphabetical order? Not an arrangement so much as a set of common themes expressed in many different ways. The cross-references link things together, and readers who follow them will get a sense of the common patterns.
TWPT: What kind of research went into producing a book such as this? What kinds of sources did you find yourself looking into as background material for this book? Did you have something this large in mind when you first started work on this book?
JMG: I was surprised to be able to make it as short as it turned out. Most of the research was drawn from the scholarly literature on the history of magic and Pagan spirituality; I also made contact with scholars in the field with some specific questions. One other form of "research" was simply an effect of the fact that I practice several different forms of magic. The one real weakness of the academic literature is that most of the people who write it don't have any practical experience with magic, and make certain kinds of mistake as a result.
Normally you expect biologists to write about biology, and musicians (or at least people who listen to lots of music) to write about music; with any luck we'll get to the point someday where people who write scholarly works on magic have done enough of it that they know which end of an athame to grab.
TWPT: Do you find that the term "occult" still carries with it certain connotations that still come to mind when the word is used? What does the word occult represent to you personally and as used in the title of your latest book?
JMG: I rather like the literal meaning of the word, which is simply "hidden." The occult is what's not seen, what's hidden away. Historically that was true; there's been a huge occult subculture all through the history of the Western world, including many very famous historical figures, but until very recently you could look around and not see a bit of it. Isaac Newton put more of his time into studying alchemy than he did into inventing the theory of gravitation, but you'd be amazed how many biographies of him somehow manage not to mention that fact!
So the Encyclopedia is a guide to the hidden spiritualities of the West, the traditions nobody talked about. It's also a guide to some parts of the hidden history of the Western world. Magic has been much more influential in the political sphere than most people suspect. Its influence hasn't always been positive, either; the Nazi Party was basically an occult movement -- it quite literally started out life as the political action wing of a racist magical lodge in Munich -- and carried a particularly nasty form of occult philosophy to its logical extreme.
TWPT: When all is said and done what is it that you want folks to take away from a book like The New Encyclopedia of the Occult?
JMG: I'd like them to realize that the real history of occultism and Pagan spirituality is a lot more complex, lively, and interesting than the granny stories and fam-trad mythologies marketed so often in today's occult community.
People sometimes think that magic, or their particular tradition of magic or spirituality, is invalidated if it wasn't handed down in carbon-copy detail by a succession of identical third-degree grandmothers turned out by some granny factory in the New Forest. Nothing could be further from the truth. The sheer creativity of the occult traditions is one of their greatest sources of strength; a tradition that remains unchanged for more than a generation or two is pretty much a museum piece. It's amusing to watch modern Pagans who would never settle for a two-year-old computer arguing that their tradition is better than someone else's because it's older!
This doesn't mean that we need to forget about our history, or go about reinventing the wheel all the time. What it means is that we need a more critical, more open-ended, and more creative approach to the traditions -- whatever their sources -- that we've received from the past.
TWPT: Is it harder to write a book like this than a book about a single subject? Seems like it would spread your focus over a wide variety of topics forcing you to cut to the meat of each and every topic very quickly.
JMG: Yep. The upside is that I have material for about another two dozen books on more specific topics, out of research I did in the process of getting down to the meat. Expect some projects in the Druid field first.
TWPT: Where do you see the study of magic heading over the next few years? Do you see a growing interest in the general public about the subject?
JMG: Nowhere but up. The fantastic success of the Harry Potter novels and films topped off a period in which magic has moved step by step from the fringes to the edge of the mainstream. Pagan and magical groups in the US, the UK, and elsewhere are getting more media savvy and more professionalism -- it's harder and harder to dismiss today's Pagans as frosted flakes. The bellowing of the fundamentalists and the occasional acts of hatemongering worry a lot of people, but these are actually signs of weakness. The fundamentalists are scared. They feel momentum slipping away from them and opinions turning against them. Could you imagine gay marriage even being mentioned in public as an issue thirty years ago?
My guess is that one of the modern Pagan religions, probably some form of Wicca, will become the dominant religious form in the Western world for the next two thousand years or so, and the twenty-first century will see most of that transformation. The momentum is there, and it's been building for more than two centuries, since the first public Pagan revivals in England in the eighteenth century. (Most modern Pagans don't know that open worship of Pagan gods took place in eighteenth-century England -- another example of the way our real history is more interesting than the bogus history so often circulated!)
TWPT: Tell me about what you have in store for your readers in the near future.
JMG: Quite a bit. If all goes well, I'll have three books out in 2004. Weiser is releasing a handbook of basic magical training for the solitary student, which I co-wrote with two other Hermetic magicians; the working title is _High Magic: A New Handbook for the Apprentice_. Chivalry Bookshelf is planning on releasing the first of two volumes of my translation of a seventeenth-century manual of swordsmanship based on magical philosophy and sacred geometry; the title is _Academy of the Sword_, and the author of the 1630 original is Gerard Thibault.
The third, though, the book of mine I'm most looking forward to seeing in print in 2004, is _A World Full of Gods: An Inquiry into Polytheism_, which is under consideration at a publisher right now. In 2002 I started trying to work out the philosophical implications of a universe with many gods, and ended up writing a book about it. What I discovered is that the case for polytheism is very strong; if you compare it to either monotheism or atheism, polytheism makes more sense, begs fewer questions, and offers more plausible explanations of things like human religious experience.
The standard literature on theology, philosophy of religion, and the like ignores polytheism completely. That's probably not an accident; if you admit the possibility of many gods, most of the pitched battles in philosophy of religion pop like bubbles, and you have a hard time using them to prop up either Judeo-Christian monotheism or atheist scientific materialism. I'd like to see more Pagans get involved in theology and philosophy and bring their own points of view to bear on these old debates, and this book is an attempt to contribute to that. It might also be useful as a starting point for Pagan clergy training in theology -- something that many traditions are working on nowadays.
For 2005? Expect the first of three books on Druid spirituality, with the others following close behind. I have other projects on the back burner as well. This is an exciting time for me, and for the Pagan and magical communities as a whole.
TWPT: Any last thoughts that you would like to share with our readers that I didn't touch on in my questions?
JMG: I think the words of the Buddha pretty much sum it up:
Do not believe in what you have heard.
Do not believe in tradition just because it is handed down over many generations.
Do not believe in anything just because it has been spoken many times.
Do not believe just because written statements come from some old sage.
Do not believe in conjecture.
Do not believe in authority or teachers or elders.
But after careful observation and analysis, when it agrees with reason and it will benefit one and all, then accept it and live by it.
TWPT: It has been a pleasure talking to you John and it sounds like you are going to be a fairly busy guy in 2004 and beyond. Best of luck to you in all the projects that you are currently working on. Thanks for your time.