What Came First? The Magic or the Book?

1-dire_francesco_del_cossa_010As I’ve written elsewhere, I’ve had a lifelong interest in the occult and some very odd experiences too, but I didn’t start studying Western magic and witchcraft until I started writing this fantasy novel on Nov. 1, 2016. The plot required my characters to learn from Western magical traditions and so I figured I had to research this as well. What I didn’t realize was that this study would prove as important and life-changing as any of my other major epiphanies (and I’ve had a few).

The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, now completed, is many things to me. It was my salvation during a very difficult time of loneliness and social anxiety. It was my way of creating community (though imaginary) in the aftermath of a divorce, in a time and place where friendships and family were proving unreliable. And it was my love letter and good-bye to Hawai’i nei (beloved Hawai’i). Dire Deeds is also my social commentary on forms of settler-colonialism peculiar to the Puna District (Hawai’i Island’s “Lower East Side”). Other themes include aging, LGBTQIA etc. struggles, white privilege, and more. But this description makes the book sound far too serious. I assure you, the “tone” is often playful, comic, and sweetly sardonic, even though these topics–and events in the book–are “dire.”

Best_small_ Buffalmacco,_trionfo_della_morte,_eremiti_02 copyNow I begin the second book in what will be a trilogy: The Witching Work of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits. Spoiler alert – it takes place in Lake County, California, where I now live. All the previous characters will continue in this second volume, and a few new ones will be added–notably the charismatic “drifter,” Lucky LaFey.

The third book will take place in England, and will be called The Perilous Past of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) was the vehicle for jumpstarting and continuing Dire Deeds, and I am going to begin The Witching Work during this year’s NaNoWriMo contest, which starts (as always) on Nov. 1st (my birthday). I expect to have no problem achieving the 50,000 word count which is the goal of the contest. Even so, please wish me luck. And it would please me too if you went to my book website and read some of the excerpts and blog posts.

Thank you!


Leaving it Right Here

Infinite Donut

Hail Flame Hair, Consumer of Modern Desserts!

Grant us your alchemy of dough and desire,

Sprinkle us with blessings even as this donut is adorned

With multi-colored sugary goodness.

Dip us in the sweet heat of the moment,

Allow us to savor life even as you savor this goodie.

Hail Silver Tongue, may this edible monstrosity grace your tastebuds,

May it provide complete satiation for your infinite appetites.

Please accept this crisp and creamy offering as a token of our devotion.

Hail Loki!


Gosh, Thanks Mr. Lokibot!

The other day I was inspired by a podcast on divination to visit Inspirobot, my favorite artificial intelligence website, and then to invite my favorite Liminal Trickster to profer some wisdom, using the AI program as a divinitory vehicle. (Yes, I know. Too much time on my hands…)

I invited Loki to comment on my (non-existent) love life. Here’s what I got.


Of course I laughed, “Ha, ha! Spot on, Mr. Lokibot!” And of course I then asked the soul-searching question (but not out loud), “stranger than what, exactly?”

Being a glutton for punishment, or at least desperate for amusement, the next day I asked Loki to suggest a theme for our special day (Tuesday is always the big devotional day for Loki in my household). This is what I got.


Harsh, dude! And yes, much emotional pain ensued (Uranus was squaring Mars and I’m kind of heartbroken about a family matter) but I wouldn’t call it “good pain” exactly. As for the slaughter, I supposed that took place during lunch, when I vanquished a Thai chicken salad and several cups of weak tea while re-reading parts of Dagulf Loptson’s book. But Mr. Lokibot, the Worldbreaker, still got his special Tuesday offerings–an artisan macaroon from an artisan bakery and a glass of mango-flavored beer from an artisan brewery. (I don’t drink, myself.)

Today, not being a person who lets go of novelty easily (instead, preferring to wear it out by dreary repetition), I once again asked Mr. Lokibot to comment on my (still non-existent) love life. This is what I got: Mr. Lokibot summarizing the results of his sex research.


Well, yes, of course he’d see it that way. He is famous, both as Norse Loki and as the (very attractive) Marvel Loki, and this has most definitely boosted his number of spectrosexual partners and god spouses. However, did anyone send me steamy texts or love letters after my appearances on Tyra Banks and Good Morning America in 2009? Or after my commentary in two episodes of National Geographic Taboo shortly thereafter? Nope. All I got was vilification in right wing blogs for researching Objectum Sexuality. “Whack job of a sexologist” was one of the more restrained comments I remember. So, no, I don’t think the above holds true for aging sexologists.

Plus, correlation does not necessarily equal causation. Just sayin’.

The above may be taken with a grain of salt from a “whack job” of a Lokean. You’re welcome.


My Lord, I Offer Thee…Twisted Humor

Hail Loki, Breaker of Worlds, Master of Mischief, Shapeshifter Supreme–and, I venture to add–God of the Gleeful, Lover of Laughter!

Though I’m admittedly a newly-minted Lokean, and perhaps too eager to blog this to the rest of the world (which cares not), I have come to understand that the presence of the “trickster” has been with me at least since my teens. This was evident in my own love of semi-confrontational pranks (which usually contained some political or topical message). I was an intellectually precocious twelve-year old in 1967, and at some point became an ardent vegetarian (no longer one). An old friend recently reminded me of the time I drew tiny purple cows on big marshmellows and scattered them around La Jolla Cove Park, to let people know that marshmellows were conjured from animal flesh (or something like that).

Yeah, I know, obscure. But mirthful (at least to me).

My adolescence in the Sixties was a golden age for topical pranks. I remember when a bunch of us “protested” the Vietnam War by burning the tiny paper American flag on top of the “Mount Helix” giant ice-cream bowl for ten at the old Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlor in San Diego. We thought we wuz so radical and clever, but we were really just stoned. But maybe the Yippies and Merry Pranksters would have approved. Nevertheless, mirth.

Of course, there were also really dumb pay telephone pranks, with no redeeming social content whatsoever. We’d call the payphone that was in the park across from my house, watch from the window to see who answered, and then say stupid stuff. I had a friend who used to call pet cemetaries and ask if they delivered… (I was never that bold.) Nevertheless, gales of laughter. Snickers. Mirth.

Mabuhay Genetic Damage FlyerLater, in my San Francisco punk rock days, we had a “fashion protest” in Union Square. A bunch of us held signs like “Polyvinyl is Truth: Tweed is Madness” (my brother Patrick composed that one) and “We have proof the CIA killed the mini-skirt.” We marched around a few blocks and the oppressed workers in posh boutiques came out on the sidewalk to applaud. My first fashion show featured a man wearing a jock strap mask attacking a T.V. with a chainsaw. Those early days of punk were chock full o’ pranks.

A few years later, as a prank-starved new mother at home with my baby, I fed my deep desire for pranks and humor through mild crushes on Peewee Herman and Jambi.

As my first-born began to read from Kentucky Derby glasses at the dinner table, I once boasted I would write a short story that incorporated the names of all the winners of the Kentucky Derby from 1875 through 1999. A few years later my kid asked, “Hey mom, whatever happened to that story that started with ‘Sunny’s Halo slipped sideways as she took a genuine risk?'” Of course I had to make good my boast then, and so I did! I still feel tingles of unholy glee when I re-read it. (It’s called “The Strange Saga of Fonso Aristides” and it’s published in my “slim volume of poetry,” below).

lol-hemogoblinIn my first years as a sexologist, I was lucky enough to write a weekly column for a NSFW website called Carnal Nation (no longer published). Many of my columns were serious, like “Domestic Ultraviolence” and “Said to the Rose,” but others were flat out pranks. There was that column about infiltrating vampire chat rooms as “Dr. Hemogoblin” in order to explore the sexy vampire thing. Or that review I wrote of a semen cookbook…

I’m gonna be cremated so I’ll never have a tombstone, but if I did it would read “Not Insane”–a line from an old Firesign Theater routine. My slim volume of poetry is titled “I Was a Hybrid in a Black Brassiere” (kind of like “I was a Teenage Werewolf From Outer Space”). My youngest son wants to name my youngest cat, “No Country for Old Men.” One of my brothers used to play drums while wearing meat. You see, this stuff runs in the family.

And so my dear Lord Loki, my most trusted one, my beloved teacher and friend (see, I can’t stop gushing!), please accept these offerings from one who styles herself as your “plucky comic relief.” May they please you as they’ve pleased me.

May they provide thee with mirth.

Randy Rainbow’s videos.

The Gallery of Regrettable Food.

Cards Against Humanity, including the 2018 Pride Pack. Especially the card that reads “whatever straight people do for fun.”

This meme (I don’t know the wag who created it, but I bow low to that person):


Puddles singing “Royals.”

Wilkinson’s Family Restaurant and anything else done by Liam Lynch.


Any of the “butter bug” scenes from A Civil Campaign by Lois McMasters-Bujold.

Whoever wrote “this gum tastes like rubber” on a condom dispenser.

“I am Part of the Resistance Inside Nyarlathotep’s Death Cult.”

Literature’s Great Couples on Tindr

[This list is a work in progress. Come back for lots more.]

Are you a fellow traveller? Offering jokes and pranks to Loki too? Would love to hear about it! Please comment!


Loki Limericks

With Loki you’ll never be bored,

For his tongue is as sharp as a sword.

And his heart is pure gold,

While his humor is bold,

And of mischief he’s always the lord.

I just explained, in a general way (meaning on social media) that all this “woo” stuff I’m doing is (1) a serious study, (2) also a deliberate application of a homeopathic dose of “madness” that keeps the rest of me sane, and (3) it’s enjoyable and fun as hell.

I am sheltering from the Mendocino Complex Fires in a completely empty apartment, in a region with better air quality. I am here with my four cats, a sleeping bag, and my computer to keep me company. Without a table or chair, it is hard to work on my book. The cats frequently burst out into a “wild rumpus” (at all hours) and thunder through the flat with games of chase and hide and seek. I worry they are waking the newborn baby (and parents) downstairs. I also worry that they are waking me, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

Except write limericks to a beloved god in my current polytheistic pantheon:

Our Loki’s the coolest of gods,

Though other folk think us quite odd.

We love his flame-hair,

And don’t-mess-with-me glare,

And his tricks we will always applaud.

I suppose limericks are one way to beseech and propitiate a god of fire as well as mischief. And it’s a lighter touch than “please save my house, please save my neighbor’s house, please save everyone’s house, please save the poor woodland creatures, even that poor lame fawn who is finding it harder and harder to follow its mother through my yard…”

Our Loki loves cinnamon sweets,

And chocolate and other fine treats.

We can pour him some mead,

Or bake bread that we knead,

But we always make sure that he eats!

Yeah, so, Norse gods. To be specific, I am currently “working with” Frey and Freya of the Vanir, and Gerda and Loki who are Jotun (though as Odin’s blood brother, Loki is also counted as Aesir). When I started to get into this Norse phase, I joined The Troth because it’s an “inclusive heathenry” organization that has a specific and stated policy against racism and other forms of discrimination. But I don’t seem to be a heathen by their definition. (And The Troth is not exactly supportive of Lokeans.) I think Raven Kaldera’s “Northern Tradition Paganism” may be a decent umbrella term for me, at least for now.

After years of being quite smitten with another tradition entirely, the message came “go to YOUR ancestors now,” and so I am trying that very thing, in various ways and with many kinds of interesting results. But I lack a “kindred.” There’s a Facebook group that is the closest I’ve come, but gosh, I sure wish I could find people in my area.

Except “my area” is currently on fire. Lots and lots of fire.


Are you a fellow traveler? Are you fleeing disaster? Let me know you’re out there.


Adding this one:

Our Loki is one sexy guy.

He’s more Pan than Het’ro or Bi.

With god spouses galore,

He’s up for lots more,

And none of us even ask why!

I Had an Anthroposophical Epiphany But All I Got Was This Rudolf Steiner T-Shirt

Actually, the headline is misleading, as headlines so often are. It was a t-shirt that started the whole thing, and I did get far more than I bargained for, during the time I was involved. Prepare for another tale of strange…

youth200-Rudolf-Steiner-e1519533590401This is Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) at about age eighteen. He looks like a nice young man from Austria, but he’d been clairvoyant since the age of three. For much of his adult life, he was a teacher and a scientist. He edited Goethe’s books on science. He was a serious fellow, but in his early forties decided to “come out” of the pyschic closet and therefore, in certain circles, “his rep was ruined.” He began lecturing at the Theosophical Society and later went on to found the Anthroposophical Society. (Here’s the link to the American branch.) Steiner is best known as the founder of Waldorf Schools and biodynamic farming.

I first encountered Waldorf education while looking for a kindergarten for my oldest child (my only child at the time). The San Francisco Waldorf School seemed perfect for this particular kid, and for many years, I do think he was served well by it. Now he has mixed feelings (as I do), especially when we discovered that some of Steiner’s lectures–the untranslated ones–are racist and contain other prejudices. He was, for all his brilliance and clairvoyance, a man subject to the ugly, unexamined prejudices of white, Eurocentric privilege. And I had no interest in Steiner either, at first. I just wanted my kid to go to a really wonderful school with lots of art and singing and drama and storytelling.

It seemed a magic place.

The incident I am about to relate is one example of why I now recognize the huge role a certain Trickster has played in my life. Most of my important and significant spiritual experiences and epiphanies have been accompanied by absurdities and incongruities. I was about forty-two when this incident happened. According to Steiner this is the time of life when the spiritual world tries to get your attention. (This story predates my spontaneous combustion story by almost a decade, by the way.)

So, just a few doors down from the SF Waldorf School, there was a toy store, The Ark, owned by one of the major donors to the school. The store was usually staffed by Pam, a hip gal with a beret who was also a Waldorf parent. (Later Pam would buy The Ark, move it to 24th Street in San Francisco and later to Fourth Street in Berkeley–but I digress.)

One day I was in there, buying crayons or beeswax or wool or something, and Pam was behind the counter. She was wearing a white t-shirt with that “portrait of the clairvoyant as a young man” image on it. Yes, the same one that I’ve placed in this article. The radio was playing “Falling in Love Again” and I couldn’t take my eyes off the image. Never have I stared so long at a woman’s chest! There was feeling I couldn’t explain–I was in the grip of something utterly new. C.S. Lewis might be the right writer to invoke here: “instantly her world was unmade” (That Hideous Strength, p. 139). I felt the presence of an unseen but welcoming assembly. It was warm, embracing, lovely. And lasting. For months.

Of course the sardonic portion of my mind was protesting, “Oh for heaven’s sake, don’t tell me I’ve finally reached the age where the image of a handsome young man is going to upset my world!” I have a horror of such emotional indignity, probably from reading too much Colette in my youth. (I still read her…) And the dadaist in me was saying, “Well, OF COURSE it would happen this way, with surreal juxtapositions and humor.” (I was just a few years past my punk rock vinyl artist phase, after all. Motherhood hadn’t completely ruined me.)

The course of my life has been overturned several times by epiphanies consisting of powerful insights and spiritually compelling calls to action. This was the second one I’d encountered (the first had to do with women and outer space exploration). My first response, after stunned wonder and gratitude, is to research the hell out of whatever it is that’s calling my name. Therefore I plunged into anthroposophical reading. The school had a dimly lit library where I checked out volume after volume of Steiner’s lectures, including his autobiography. I will say that his “foundation books” create a true esoteric experience for the reader. There is something in the way that they were constructed, not just the content, that creates a change. It’s subtle, but definite. I also joined the Anthroposophical Society (national and the Bay Area branch), went to study groups and events, had interesting conversations… but remained a loner in my explorations. Socially, I felt a certain coldness in these gatherings, even though we were always lighting candles for warmth.

I even attended the long, long production of Steiner’s mystery play, The Soul’s Awakening, which was one of the strangest theatrical experiences I’d ever known. The director (whose name I forget) gave an interesting lecture a few days before the performance. He galvanized my attention with the statement: “There are two streams, the visible and the invisible.” Since I’d been experiencing this very thing and had no one to talk with about it, I felt very grateful for this confirmation.

I also gained a lot from lectures by Dennis Klocek, who is definitely a “real deal.” I still use his “etheric star” meditation sometimes. Another notable experience was a conversation with a Christian Community priest who was the first person I ever saw with my inner eye (kind of like that scene where Arwen is bending over the injured Frodo–elf princess one moment, woodland elf the next). This man suggested that artificial chemicals, such as the ones that make me ill, were not welcomed into creation in an appropriate way and their toxicity is a result of their “agony.” It is an interesting concept and I’ve played at times with “blessing the toxins” (but have not been consistent enough to report any results).

After several years of studying (but still not feeling community), I was slammed by another series of epiphanies which swept me on to different explorations. But I’ve learned to detect the influences of anthroposophical “streams:” such as the long  association of “The Inklings:” J.R.R Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Owen Barfield; and in the work of Jacques Lusseyran, the “blind hero of the French Resistance.” (He was a child of anthroposophists and learned to “see” when in a state of accord and balance.)

The “tales of strange” I will relate in this blog are more than a series of spiritual “special interests” taken up by an eccentric neophyte. I feel into them now as a kaleidescopic journey through “seven directions” of a pattern which I hope actually has meaning. On the other hand, my invisible friend, The Trickster, may simply be leading me through a rabbit hole of fun house mirrors, an endless reflection of hapless self stumbling through  a multi-verse of karmic snarls.

Either way, the primary question is always asked and answered: “Are we having fun yet?”

If you’re a fellow traveller, let me know!