Biography Mojo

It’s been months since I last did any substantive research on the biography of Isaac Bonewits. Several week ago, my writing coach suggested that I write a blog post on how to “get my mojo back.”

This is not that post. This is a post on what happened to my mojo in the first place.

Physical limits

The point at which I lost my mojo is easy to find: it’s when I was hit by a major series of health problems. It took the better part of a year to recover; in some ways these issues are going to last the rest of my life. I’m still dealing with the physical and financial consequences.

That last one is an important factor. Last year, I was thinking about taking trips to conventions and festivals to interview people. That’s not possible now, perhaps not ever. I have medical insurance, and I have enough income to handle the co-payments, but I don’t have enough left over to plan special trips.

I also face a new set of physical challenges that make it unlikely I can attend outdoor festivals by myself. I could possibly manage an outdoor trip with assistance; about a year ago there were two people who volunteered to help me with this project. But they faced their own life challenges, and those offers went away.

What have I got that’s new?

Shortly after Isaac’s passing, the RDNA published the Sept 25, 2010 issue of The Druid Inquirer; this is a 152-page compendium of everything Michael Scharding could find on Isaac, with links to the material he could not publish. This past February, Llewellyn published Merry Meet Again, Deborah Lipp’s memoirs.

Together, these documents describe much of Isaac’s contributions to Druidry, the Craft, and what he was like as a person. It’s hard for me to find something new to add, as opposed to re-writing and regurgitating what others have already said. In all good conscience, I can’t turn the biography into what would essentially be an extended term paper; that’s not a fair representation of the kind of scholarship that Isaac tried to inspire.

What questions could I answer? Thinking about it, the only one I could come up with is: What was the path that turned a kid raised in a conservative religious environment into one who became an expert on magic and a founder of a pagan religion?

That seemed like an interesting enough question to justify a biography. That’s leads to the next mojo-sucker:

Lack of cooperation

I’m finding it hard to interview those people who be in the best position to answer that question. All they need to do is talk with me over the phone; I can handle the technical issues of recording the conversation and even paying for the call if necessary.

Some folks won’t speak with me. Others will, but only if I jump through a bunch of hoops… and each one has a different set of restrictions.

If folks can’t or won’t spend a couple of hours speaking with me, to talk about someone who was fairly important in their lives or in the history of the pagan movement in the US, then that reduces my motivation to spend hundreds of hours going through the research and writing process.

I already have one answer to this interview problem, supplied to me by Jimahl di Fiosa: if folks won’t contribute to your interviews, then don’t use them. That takes me back the previous point: Without that cooperation, I don’t have as much that’s new to add to what’s already out there.

That’s where I stand. Anyone got any mojo-riffic ideas?

I suspect that I’m going to have to find my own mojo before I can move forward.

This Post Has 0 Comments

  1. Anonymous


    You know my idea, and that is, to fucking write and stop worrying what it will contribute In the Grand Scheme Ta!Da!

    Writing forms itself. You will have a better idea what you are writing by the act of writing it. Writing is a magical act of creation, it frees words and ideas that were trapped.

    My book only tells my version of Isaac, restricted not just by time period but by an individual perspective.

    If ALL that you do is collate a variety of perspectives on a very important man, so that they can be experienced side-by-side, you will have done a great service to the Pagan world. I suspect, however, that in the very act of writing, you will do more.

    The biggest mojo is self-trust.


  2. spiffnolee

    Are you still directing this project, or are you slavishly following a thesis and outline you established over a year ago?

    Are you developing any knowledge or skills from this book? Or is it uninspiring because it feels like a term paper you could write in your sleep? If you’re stuck because on undeveloped, atrophied, or inaccessible (due to health) skills, what’s your plan to shore up those skills?

    Does your original question, “What was the path that turned a kid. . .” still seem important? It sounds like you want an angle that is both a compelling story and a broader parable. What’s the parable? How does this project fit with your greater life’s purpose?

    Magic requires Focus, Energy, Discipline, and Ethics. Your energy is low because of your health; I’m not your physician, so I can’t say more than, “Take care of yourself.” Focus relates to the Purpose question above–do you know the story you want to write, and why? The discipline lies in jumping through the hoops.

    That’s how I would counsel a student, anyway. Take whatever you think it useful.

  3. Anonymous

    What was the path that turned a kid raised in a conservative religious environment into one who beca

    His brothers will talk to you even if his sisters and mother wont. Do you need my number?

    1. wgseligman

      I’ve spoken with his brothers, and plan to speak with them again… given a sufficient quantity of mojo.

      LJ didn’t record who you were; you’re just listed as “anonymous”. Depending on who you are, I may need your number anyway.

Leave a Reply