Just because I dropped out of traditional college, in as much as Antioch was traditional, it doesn’t mean I haven’t taken any additional training. For me, though, most of that additional training has been in the realm of dreams and magic. What follows is a summary of some of my previous and current coursework for my own self-education.
I first encountered the work of Robert Moss in my early twenties. I listened to his audio course Dreamgates: A Journey Into Active Dreaming. It was important to listen to Robert before reading his books, even if only a cassette, because there is something vital that is transmitted from one person to another through the power of breath, through the power of voice (perhaps that’s why I’m such a fan of radio). Afterwards my dream journal practice became much more Sirius, I read as many of his books as I could, and when I had the chance I took a daylong workshop, than two years later a weekend long workshop, and after that participated in his online community (sadly, no longer around in that incarnation) for more than a year and a half. All of this cost me much less than traditional school and I was more engaged than I would have been in a college where I had to take certain classes just to meet requirements -not because I had any actual interest or need for them.
All of this immersion into Robert’s approach to dreaming was an immense education for me. Dreams are perhaps one of the best forms of education available to a person. They come every night, whether you remember them or not, and they are free. Learning to work and play with dreams has enriched my life immeasurably. Awaken to their power! I’m reminded of William S. Burroughs last book, My Education. In his dream diary, as he approached the end of his life, he was being prepared to join with those who had gone before him into the Land of the Dead. That sounds like a good education to me. I’ll want to be prepared when my time comes to journey into the Western Lands.
THE PROCESS OF MAGIC
Speaking of Ancestors… today is Hallow’een (if you go by the Full Moon).
The end of the year is approaching. Whether you consider the end to be October 31st or December 31st endings are also ripe times for beginnings. This year as a birthday present to myself I enrolled in Taylor Ellwood’s Process of Magic correspondence course. I decided to take this class after many years of magical practice and study as a way to reboot my work. I’ve been involved with a few traditions. I’m a current member of Horus-Maat Lodge and The HermAphroditic ChaOrder of the Silver Dusk and was an initiate in H.O.O.R. a group I quickly fled. Though I have a background in Thelema and the Current streaming out of the Aeon of Maat I have generally been very eclectic in my approach to magic. In my view eclecticism is a strength if you can find a way to synthesize all of those disparate takes on the path. Taylor has stripped away most of the window dressings associated with magic. Instead of focusing on style and aesthetics he focuses on the roots of practice and the processes underlying them. For those who are already involved in magic but are wondering how to weave together the rich variety of strands available to us in the 21st century, examining the processes that underly all magic, no matter the flavor, this course is an excellent place to start. For newcomers and beginners these lessons will help you quickly move beyond the 101 stage and help you start getting your hands dirty with practical magic.
This class has been very good for me. By looking at the processes behind magic I’m thinking up all kinds of new ways I can do rituals and work on my Multidimensional Art Projects. It’s been very helpful.
If you do sign up please mention my name to Taylor. The next round begins on Hallow’een.
Though I am by no means a reconstructionist my dreams have called me to explore the Celtic Mysteries, particularly the Druidic Revival and the path of the Bard. I believe in taking what is best from the past, and honoring tradition, but I also believe in innovation. In looking into the wealth of material out there in this are I particularly resonated with the work that both the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids are doing, as well as the Ancient Order of Druids in America. The funny thing is, when I started pursuing this knowledge my dreams shifted and I began working, again, with the Egyptian pantheon. For the previous few years many of my dreams had been in Scotch-Irish realms. What I like most however about these two groups and others working in this vein is their emphasis on being in tune with your bioregion and the Land. I find ecological consciousness to be very strong within the Druidic Revival to a larger degree than in other Western magical groups. I had thought about joining the A.O.D.A. because I really like their curriculum. I’m also a regular reader of John Michael Greer’s blog and am in accord with his thoughts on the end of industrial society. I decided however, that instead of joining another magical group, I would do the work of the A.O.D.A. curriculum on my own for a year. If I still wish to join at the end of that year, around the beginning of June in 2013 at this point, I may still do so. I will be blogging about some of my work with the A.O.D.A. curriculum. I like their curricula better than that of O.B.O.D. because it is much more self-guided and directed, yet still has enough of a structure to give you a good grounding in your Land and in basic Druidic principles.
I should perhaps mention that when I was a teenager first coming into magic it was Druidry I first felt a call to. When I discovered the Qabalah and Thelema it was a game changer, and I went down those roads first. Now I feel like I’m circling back to some earlier inspirations.
POETRY AND THE BARDIC ARTS
In December of 2011 I had a dream where I was working at the Mercantile Library with Gertrude Stein as my supervisor. I awoke from this dream with a sense of urgency. I knew I needed to become a member of the Mercantile Library in part because of some of things I had written about in my talk The Library Angel & It’s Oracle. I started looking at their website. I then saw that there was an interest group for poetry at the library , the Walnut Street Poetry Society, that met once a month on my lunch hour. The Mercantile is just a few blocks from my own library workplace. For 2012 the group has been discussing Irish poetry all year, as the Nobel Prize winner Seamus Heaney was going to give the 25th annual Niehoff Lecture that year at the library. So I became a member and joined the Walnut Street Poetry Society. A number of synchronicities followed the first dream of the Mercantile (I’ve since had others).
This again has been incredible for me. Poet and professor Norman Finkelstein who teaches at Xavier University moderates the group. Starting off we had two sessions on W.B. Yeats and talked quite a lot about Yeats occult activities and his involvements with Florence Farr and Maude Gonne. We’ve since gone on and covered Patrick Kavanagh again with two sessions, then Paul Muldoon (whom I really came to love), and two sessions on Heaney. (There was a two month break over the summer). Besides the connection Irish poets have to the traditional role of the Bard, this immersion in reading and discussing poetry has really uncorked my own creative bottle of wine. Poetry has been flowing out of me more this year than it has since I was in high school and at Antioch. As a writer I was a poet first. Prose came at a very close second.
Next year the Walnut Street Poetry Society will be looking into Long Poems by American Poets. I’m excited to explore this realm and hope we have a chance to delve into Gary Snyder‘s Mountains and Rivers Without End. Gary Snyder’s body of work and thought have been of singular importance to me over the past three years.
Through all of these activities I have quite a course load, but at the fraction of the cost of traditional school, and I’m learning and doing the things that are important to me. Through similar methods you can design your own curriculum. I’ll be talking about some other aspects of how I am teaching myself what I need and want to learn in future posts.
My job as a basic kind of clerk in a library is very important in all of this. When approaching magic and the arts I feel it is important to have a “right livelihood”. And while I do aspire to a situation where I can put most of my efforts into my Arts, at the moment my job is supportive of me for where I am at. I have no moral qualms with my job. It is rewarding and causes little stress. Finding such a job and doing that work is an important part of doing the Real Work and the Great Work.