I would not like to send you questions


“Would you like to send me some questions?” Actually no, I would rather not send you questions before I interview you.

I get that some people want to understand a journalists “angle” before they begin, but I also understand how human minds work. There are two things which can go terribly wrong when I send you written questions in advance, namely:

  1. You will infer bias because written communication has no tone of voice or body language, which make up the majority of how we communicate, and thus you will unconsciously insert in that huge gap whatever your past experience suggests is my likely agenda, or, even worse,
  2. important information will never be revealed because you carefully and narrowly answered the questions I presented, likely because being interviewed makes you nervous.

These are two sides of the same coin. If I send questions ahead, I am aware that it’s likely I will learn nothing which isn’t laid out in those questions; I must therefore make them as broad as I possibly can to combat the narrow responses which naturally follow. That can feel overwhelming, and lead folks who are already uncomfortable talking to a reporter to feel defensive and search for clues as to my hidden agenda.

The truth is that my angle, my agenda, is the find out what I need to know to write an accurate story that helps readers understand what’s going on. Journalists are not subject-matter experts, and regularly must bring ourselves up to speed on a completely unfamiliar topic. That isn’t going to happen when we send questions in advance, because we don’t necessarily know enough to know what to ask.

Even asking, “Is there anything you were hoping I would ask that would help me understand this better?” doesn’t help; in well over 90% of interviews I’m told no, there’s nothing more.

What would I rather do? Have a conversation, a form of communication which is much older, and thus suits our species better. My interviews are often spirit-led, and I consciously choose to enter a state of worship when I am conducting one. This is to help me to be fully present and listen with all of myself, to what is said without words. Tone of voice, pauses, volume also communicate. Even those who don’t feel they have strong verbal skills are excellent interview subjects, but I often don’t know what I will ask until I absorb that non-verbal information.

If push comes to shove and my subject won’t budge, I’d rather send one question at a time. Any more presumes I know enough to get into depth, and the result is the kind of superficial treatment of a subject that makes people mistrustful of reporters. It’s an ugly cycle.

Asking for questions in advance is an attempt to control the information that’s revealed. Instead, I suggest that if one does not wish to reveal some tidbit, one simply does not. This is country is not run by some jurisdocracy, a government of attorneys, by attorneys, and for attorneys. Don’t hide behind an attorney’s tricks. The best way not to comment is by uttering the words, “no comment.”

Be kind


There are many reasons to be angry:

  • those people who aren’t taking this pandemic seriously enough
  • those people who are taking this pandemic too seriously
  • those people you live with whose habits are becoming more irritating every day
  • those people online who are too stupid to live
  • those people who are making terrible decisions about how to manage this crisis
  • those people who are blocking brilliant leadership
  • those people who kept having babies
  • those people who tried eating bats
  • those people who are politicizing everything
  • those people who aren’t willing to just die already
  • those selfish people
  • those greedy people
  • those scared people
  • those people

It matters not what other people believe.  It matters not what you believe.  Be kind today.  There will always be another chance not to be kind, but today, be kind.

My life away from blogging


  1. I got a part-time job in the legal world.
  2. I’ve been working on several book-editing projects.
  3. I’m writing a book, under contract.
  4. I’m deepening my ancestor practice.
  5. I’m preparing for my first enthusiasmos with Poseidon.

Planting prayer for Poseidon


Gentle Ennosigaios,
now we ask you to move the earth.
Not with all the vast power
which rages under roiling brows
of Labrandeus,
nor the tenacious focus
of dashing Prosclystius,
nor any of the many ways
which Pelagaeus could bring to bear.

Subtle Ennosigaios,
now we ask you to move the earth.
With the steadfast resolve
by which Isthmios endures,
with the silence to which Eirḗnē
is eternally inured,
with the fate of all your people,
as Genethlios procures.

Slow-moving Ennosigaios,
now we ask you to move the earth.
Ease the burden of each seed
so that life fulfills its need.
Thus Phytalmius will nourish
and the land again shall flourish.
Ennosigaios, move each pebble
so these crops can prove their mettle.

Praised be Poseidon,
bringer of small shakes and great quakes.

This is included in my book Depth of Praise, which you really ought to own.  Read it, enjoy it, link to it, but do not reproduce it without my written permission.  Thanks for understanding.

Reviews in waiting


It takes a lot of time and it doesn’t make me any money, but I do enjoy writing honest book reviews.  Jason Mankey has kindly given me a higher platform for that work, “Pergamum Unfurled.”  Reviewing books are various kinds is something I’ve done for some years; I have even done it for pay.  (That didn’t work out in the long run because authors paying for reviews are expecting something unabashedly positive, while I believe my fellow readers deserve honesty.  However, I give props to Shirley Roe, who ran All Books Review and hired me even though my test review — of her own work — was frank and not entirely complimentary.)

pergamum

Part of me is hesitant to do this because I am no speed reader, but I am now accepting pagan books for review.  However, be advised I only review books, not electronic files; you will have to mail me a copy of the work.  Publishers and authors interested in having a pagan book reviewed should fill out the form embedded herein and I’ll reach out.

Holiday greetings


My wife and I send cards at this time of year, and not just cards, either:  we include a little newsletter giving a synopsis of what we’ve been up to in the past year.  It’s old-school, it’s time-consuming, it uses up lots of paper, it’s entirely unnecessary, it often gets little or no response, and it’s entirely worth the effort.

IMG_7460We add people to our list every year, and we’ll send them a card for several years running in hopes of a paper response before taking them off again.  Most people are part of that rotating crowd, but the few who do respond make it worthwhile.  One friend stopped short of naming me as her inspiration to send out an update, but made it clear in the handwritten note.  Another wrote, “It’s always amazing and lovely to receive your letters – thank you!  These things mean more and more as the years and social media wear on.”

My life is in that social stratum in which I do not worry about paying the bills each month, but travel is both infrequent and modest.  When friends move away, I may not see them again for years, if ever.  Yes, they can tag me in memes and like my posts, but the weight of a holiday card is more than physical.  We share something of ourselves when we send out this sort of mass mailing.  The cards we get back do the same, sometimes through the power of words, but also through images.  More and more, I’ve been sending cards that we get free via various charitable organizations, but our friends return ones much more lovely.  We have a growing collection of really astounding Pagan greeting cards, as well as a number of secular ones which are quite excellent.

IMG_7461One friend this year ran into me at a Yule ritual, and laid out a selection of cards she’d made herself.  “Pick one, and I’ll make it out,” I was told.  Who does that?  The cards which are a family portrait have become more dear to me as I age; I find myself nostalgic about people growing up and living their lives, connected to mine yet all the same distant from it.

If you believe in the value of community, if you feel you might be able to commit to the practice, if you recognize that time and effort spent yield immeasurable results, ask me to send you a card next year.

IMG_7462

Oracle for one


I have noted before that I have pulled back on ritual work for the moment, something which Apollon this month confirmed through divination is still appropriate by saying, “Stay, friend.”  In practice this means I stick with what’s daily and have laid down weekly and monthly work, including many of my priestly duties.

Poseidon and chariot

My oracular work remains, and during my preparations yesterday I was told, “Bring an extra index card with you.”  These are the cards on which I transcribe the questions ahead of time, and write down the responses during the session.  For this one I had no question.

When my ritual engine is running on all cylinders, my weekly time in the temple space with Poseidon nearly always results in something to be written down.  I have pages and pages of words which have come just from being in his presence.  Most often it’s just a sentence, something which might be found in a fortune cookie if one were to frequent a Chinese restaurant with an Hellenic bent.  Other times, including but not limited to during the Vigil for the Bulls, I’ve received full hymns and even insight into mysteries I’ve never seen referenced in ancient texts.

I could feel his presence more closely than ever before, and the period after each answer was delivered was quite long as I basked in his company.  When he bid me pick up the final card — the blank one — it was to give me a gift such as he is wont to in the temple.  As it happens, in the back of my mind I have been pondering if the end of my time as a pagan journalist might be better used as the beginning of a period teaching sacred journalism, a way to seek and reveal truth.  This has been nought but a notion, no more solid than the diaphanous garments I always find for sale at festivals when I am looking for something to warm my bones.  Poseidon warmed my bones by offering some ideas as to the tenets for initiating others into such a path.

What’s curious is that Poseidon isn’t personally vested in sacred journalism.  He gave me this because he misses me, and wanted me to know it.  I miss him, too, and I am grateful that even in the dark and the silence he is present.  I may not be able to bear as much of his immortal self at the moment, but he desires me whole and is patient with the process.

Soon, the temple will be open again.  Never doubt the gods are with you, friends, even when you have pulled away or they seem to have withdrawn.  The gods are undying and unfailing.  The gods make us whole when we are broken or near to breaking.  The gods complete the universe.

Essays on Hellenic Theology — Henadology


I’ve read some of these and this book should be in any Hellenic stocking this year.

I’ve collected all the essays I’ve published so far in Hellenic devotional volumes into a single book, available for the Kindle and in paperback. It’s the first time these have been available outside the context of the original devotionals. (*Amazon affiliate link: https://amzn.to/2Eis1P3)

via Essays on Hellenic Theology — Henadology

Glimpse into my oracular process


I’ve been serving as an oracle of Poseidon since July, and recently a colleague asked me about my process.  There is little which is certain about how such rituals were performed in antiquity; regardless, even if it’s how it happened at Delphi, I’m not planning on inhaling volcanic vapors anytime soon.

Delphi is a location associated with Poseidon, largely before the Apollonian period.  The Pythia needed protection as much as Troy did, and I am of the mind that there is more to the relationship between these gods than the scant myths suggest.  In any case, my work is done in the shadow of an ancient tradition.

I cannot say why it’s the case, but Poseidon did not send me to the books or demand I master ancient Greek to serve as manteis.  I have engaged in ritual possession and deep contact before I walked the Hellenic path, which has helped me gain the discernment to recognize what’s my own voice, and what is not.  That being the case, my training in one sense began close to 30 years ago.  To refine what he needed of me, however, Poseidon sent me to become a Quaker.  What’s relevant of what I have learned as a member of that community is the technique of expectant listening.

On the morning of an oracular session I begin with my usual offerings, then enter the space which my wife is kind enough to allow me to use for this work.  I review the questions for the first time, and transcribe them onto index cards.  I light incense, pour a libation, and settle into worship.  I sometimes use a mild entheogen if I am led to.  Whether I wear my wreath or not varies; my the tradition followed in Temenos Oikidios it is not use in chthonic rites, and sometimes that’s what is asked of me.  Poseidon is a god who stands between, and brings me his word in the manner which suits him that month.

While my Quaker friends may not use this language, I descend into a trance.  They might say I open myself to spirit, which is certainly true.  I use the silence in the manner some use drums or chanting.  As with any spiritual journey, it can take some time to unload the mental clutter and begin the actual work, but when he and I are in harmony, I reach for the first question.

Invariably I have some anxiety when transcribing these questions.  People ask very important things, life-altering things, and I get clutched by a worry that I will lead them astray.  When I pick up that first question in ritual space, however, none of that is present.  I see the question through his eyes, or maybe he sees it through mine.  Sitting before the antique writing desk in the library, my hand reaches for the pen and a response is provided.  Watching it unfold, it seems simple enough.  Just pick up the pen, and write down an answer.

What seems simple takes most of my morning, though, even when there are few questions to address.  In any case, I don’t make appointments for that day to do anything but this work.  It’s something for which I have been trained as long as I have been Pagan, and the fact that this is also simply training for what he asks of me next is both daunting and exciting.

It is an honor to serve.