My 7 tips for students of anything (but especially magic)

Harry Potter charms class
Hmph. Teacher’s pet.

A couple of months ago there was a bit of a to-do regarding various attitudes toward teaching and students in the occult community, especially the WMT. (See for example here, here, here (and also the comments), here, here, and also here, although the last link doesn’t address the issue of the original proposed “ten tips.”) As a former teacher of academic subjects, now a student of the occult, I thought I’d turn the telescope around and offer a holistic point of view. I was inspired by the 10 tips format, but since some of the original points were redundant in my view, I have condensed my list to 7.

1. You know a lot of stuff. Your teacher knows more.

It’s not a matter of hierarchy or of your relative ages, grades, or statuses. Quite simply, there’s a reason you wanted a teacher–you wanted to be taught. By definition, if you accept someone as a teacher, you are accepting that they probably know a lot more about this subject than you do. But occult learning isn’t grade school–no one should force you to accept anyone as your teacher. A good teacher is an eternal student, and will learn from their students in a reciprocal exchange. At the same time you should respect the amount of time, energy, and work that has gone into forming their expertise. If you already knew the material, you wouldn’t be here.

2. When you ask a question, listen to the answer. That’s what you came here for.

Every student should feel comfortable asking any question, including ones that challenge the teacher. However, it should always be remembered that the goal of the question is to further learning. I once took an online free course about Mexican curanderismo. Venturing into the student discussion forum, I witnessed a display of immaturity that I found embarrassing as a fellow student. One student–a self-described Wiccan–had started a discussion to complain about one of the teachers using the word “witch” in what he took to be a pejorative manner. (The curandera had stated that curandero/as are not witches.) Now, from my point of view, the teachers were graciously offering–free of charge!–to share their knowledge with us. Since no one was forcing us to take this course, all of us students were presumably there by choice to seek that knowledge. To then try to control the teachers’ use of language seemed bullying and self-aggrandizing to me. Especially bearing in mind that because of the subject matter, the teachers were frequently moving back and forth from Spanish to English terminology, but also attempting to make concepts from Mexican, Spanish, and Southwest Native American cultural contexts intelligible to Americans. It would have been perfectly appropriate to ask for elaboration of what the concept of “witch” means within the context of curanderismo, to open a dialogue about differences in terminology and religious perspective. It also would have been an excellent opportunity for the Wiccan student to examine his own biases and “triggers.” But he only wanted to make himself the center of attention.

3. Not every question has an answer. Even when there is an answer, the teacher’s job is not necessarily to give it to you.

When I was teaching this was probably my biggest frustration. After 12 or more grades focused on passing standardized tests, my students came to me believing that teaching is all about giving students facts, and learning is the memorization and prompt forgetting of those facts. It is unfair to expect students to transition from that style of “learning” to the old-fashioned humanistic model of the university, but that’s what we have to deal with. I found that many of my students had effectively been cognitively hamstrung by never having developed the neural networks for basic critical thinking or logical inference. In school, they learned half-assed memorization and obedience to authority; outside school, they learned that accuracy is irrelevant, and what matters is what makes you feel good or who can shout their opinion the loudest. Coupled with their belief that teachers are service providers who work for the students’ parents (as taxpayers), late-20th century “special snowflake syndrome,” and our tl;dr culture, you have a recipe for misery for both teachers and students.

From a more empathetic standpoint, imagine how scary it is for a student who has never learned to make logical inferences to suddenly find themselves in a milieu where their grade depends on being able to weigh competing arguments and thoroughly explore material that may challenge their personal beliefs. To discover that life is full of questions without answers, leading only to more and more refined questions, must be utterly unnerving. No wonder most bury their heads in the sand and carry on pretending. That doesn’t mean this trend should be allowed to grow unchecked–what passes for civilization is already showing signs of disrepair due to these failures of the educational system.

When I was a kid, if I didn’t know what a word meant, my teachers told me to look it up in the dictionary. But I didn’t stop there. I didn’t just look up the meaning–I also learned the word’s etymology and its component parts (prefix, root, suffix, etc.). I did this because I always wanted to know more and understand better. As a result, whenever I encounter an unfamiliar word–sometimes even in foreign languages–I am frequently able to figure it out based on its components. If you have accepted the reality of magic, that attitude should sound familiar. You should already have experience with looking beneath the surface, doing your own research, and breaking with convention. You should have figured out that nothing worth having comes for free (it might not cost money, but it always involves work). You should regard pushing and stretching your abilities as fun, because magic requires a lot of it.

4. The student’s role is very important, and should be taken seriously.

Good teachers regard it as a solemn responsibility to guide the next generation. It’s such a big deal, it can lead to big egos. Students should never feel embarrassed by a relative lack of expertise but should recognize the gravity of the project they are undertaking and their role as the next generation of teachers.

When I was teaching university courses, I frequently heard that the problems of academia would be fixed if it were treated as a marketplace and the students as customers, with teachers forced to compete for their attention. In fact, this is the root of the meltdown of the Western educational system currently in process. The undergrad students I knew mostly regarded class as onerous, the teacher as a terribly boring burden to be endured. If the teacher had to cancel class for some reason, students were thrilled. When was the last time you went into a retail business looking for a good or service for which you had already paid an extravagant amount, and were happy that no one showed up to serve you? Exactly. University is not a “service,” teachers are not “knowledge-delivery solutions,” and students are not “customers.”

It is well to remember that undertaking magical learning is a great responsibility, but no one forced it on you. You wanted it–now embrace it.

5. Use discernment in choosing a teacher.

Since no one is forcing you to take on a particular teacher, make sure you choose a good one, who recognizes your unique gifts and wants to see you bloom to your full capacity. Make sure what they are teaching is worth learning. That said, nobody’s perfect.

6. Do the work.

You have to do the work, no one else can do it for you. It’s hard because it is by nature challenging. Anything worth learning will take you apart and put you back together again in a new configuration. Anything worth learning forces you to take a long hard look in the mirror.

7. Keep your sense of humor, fun, and adventure.

You’ll need them all.


To arms, to arms

True story: For a while my parents considered naming me Boadicea.
Fun fact: For a while my parents considered naming me Boadicea.

Recently there have been a handful of calls to arms in the magical blogosphere, which have stuck in my memory because they resonate with an urgency I’ve been feeling. It’s time to get to work.

The first place I encountered the call (other than in my own mind and heart) was Josephine McCarthy’s blog. You may know that she has been developing an entire course in magic called Quareia. Back in February she wrote:

“…I was not planning originally to have [Quareia] apprentices working on anything but themselves and their immediate surroundings. But over this last year, powers that are out in the world have gathered to polarise heavily and this is playing out through the barbarity we see in the near east, the corruption of our own officials, and the general blights of poverty and cruelty that are marching across our planet with such power and speed.

“So maybe it is time while writing the last module, to put the apprentices to work magically. Through the module on destruction, the apprentice will learn first how to spot real destructive power (it is not as simple as it sounds) and then they will learn to take action. No one magician can stop what is happening, but collectively, small but powerful magical actions done in a focused and knowledgeable way can start to halt and then turn the tide.”

Hmm, interesting. Then in June, Rachel Izabella counter-cursed a transphobic preacher who declared his intention to basically psalm-magic Caitlyn Jenner to death (which, by extension, is a threat to other trans* people who, if they crossed this preacher’s radar, would likely get the same treatment). The counter-curse is an ongoing project. This preacher may just be one guy, but if he is calling his fellows to the fight, then maybe it’s time we started mustering our fellows against their ilk.

Clearly, that post has gotten others thinking about their own line in the sand, the crossing of which would prompt them to action. Just a couple days ago, Kalagni wondered why it is that more magical folk don’t seem to put their magic to work on the big issues?

“…I challenge all of you, to find some injustice in the world, something big, something beyond your life, your neighbourhood, your city, something so big you’d never think of trying to fix it. Then make a plan, find a specific element in this injustice, and make a magickal plan, figure out how to attack it, how to shift it, how to heal it. Piece by piece we nudge the world toward a better place, we make change more possible, we make it easier for those of us working on the mundane to succeed to improve these things.

“…this is raw, desperate, but targeted magick, trying to throw a wrench in the gears of a systemically corrupt status quo, and bring some good into the world.”

Now, I am all for rolling up my sleeves and getting to work, though at this point I don’t have much skill or knowledge to bring to bear. Still, it has often been commented that when one is planning a magical working, it often seems that the “effects” start manifesting before the “cause” has been enacted. So maybe even just bringing our minds to bear on magical action for a better world starts the wheels spinning. Or even more likely, the wheels are already spinning, and that works on our minds.

But there’s one thing that has often stopped me from applying magic in what is customarily called “practical” ways, and that is the fact of limited vision. We as embodied humans cannot see all the pieces in play in any situation. It’s not that I just trust “higher” powers to take care of me without me doing any work, but even just from my human perspective, I can look back on my life so far and see many episodes where my limited view caused me to make a really dumb decision or would have, had it been in my power to decide.

Mistakes are part of magic, like anything else. And you don’t get on this path because it’s easy, safe, or secure. But if one habitually acts from a relatively short-term and narrow point of view, one gets caught in an unending cycle of screwing up and then scrambling to clean up the mess, in the process only screwing it up even more. (This is pretty much the story of civilization, by the way, which is why I don’t believe in “progress.” But that’s a tale for another day.) If one is lucky, it only effects you and not the rest of the planet.  The potential of getting trapped in that cycle is always there. To break free of it and change things at a level where it really counts, it seems to me we need a bigger perspective. That, I presume, is why there has always been a mystical current in magic, and also why we practice divination. Otherwise magic would be like giving guns to a bunch of toddlers. So, you know, about like 21st century America.

I woke up early this morning, not by choice. It is a rare luxury for me to have time by myself to think, so there I was, thinking hard about this issue of well-directed magical action. Or at least, I thought I was awake and thinking. As it turns out, I wasn’t really fully awake. When I did wake up I realized I had been in a hypnogogic state all along…and as is so often the case in that state, some weird shit went down.

I found myself, uh, thinking? dreaming? about how nice it would be if the magical community could cut some evildoers–say, the Koch Brothers–off at the knees. As I was imagining? (dreaming?) what that might be like and what bad dudes those guys are, I heard in my mind’s ear a sort of combined roar-growl, something like the sound an angry big cat makes. At the same time in my mind’s eye, something flew at me. It only lasted a split second, but the message was clear: Do not go there. I have no idea who sent the message. Was it my guardian angel or an ancestor saying, do not even think about it, grasshopper? Maybe it was my own better judgment. Maybe I had slipped into pure dreaming for a moment. Hell, I wouldn’t put it past the Koch Brothers to have magical wards up to keep out even the wandering minds of half-asleep apprentice sorceresses. (They wouldn’t be the first corporate bad guys to do that, from what I hear.)

So make of that what you will, but it sent my mind off in a different direction. I then thought, what if the Koch Brothers and their ilk are part of a necessary balancing destructive force? (I strongly doubt this by the way, but I still think it’s a useful thought exercise.)

(Sidebar. This line of thinking would probably make more sense if I told you the background context, but it’s a long story so I think I’ll save it for the next post. So if you’re especially interested in my new acquaintance with universal destructive powers, or if this post sounds crazy, you might want to read the next one.)

In light of these questions about magical action for the general betterment, I thought the latest post at Circle Thrice was interesting. Ivy writes (my emphasis):

“I’ve heard it suggested that the reason there are copycat crimes is that the original criminal gives other’s [sic] ideas. But I don’t think it’s that simple. I think it’s that evil is contagious, just the same way that violence or panic is contagious in a mob. There are currents of violence and destruction just as there are currents of cooperation and love. When someone taps into a particular current, others find it easier to tap in as well.

Destruction always seems cruel when you’re on the pointy end of the stick. I don’t like seeing baby antelopes die, but I know lions gotta eat. How does one know when the destruction is part of establishing natural balance at a scale too big for a mortal to perceive or understand, or even just an inevitable cyclical eschaton, versus when it is out of place and time and, to put it in Kemetic terms, contrary to ma’at? (Or as I like to call it, wrong or bad.) And even when one is confident of the need to take action against evil, where does one best apply force?

These are questions I am not qualified to answer. I am still learning to walk in magical terms, and any effect I could have on the abundant nastiness in the world today would be pretty small. In a way I get a chuckle out of me asking these questions at all, because I swear I came into this world banging a gavel with one hand and pointing the finger of shame with the other.* When I was a little kid I had few friends because I was a narc. I was not only a tattle-tale, but a self-righteous one at that. If I couldn’t stop someone from wrongdoing, I took it straight up the chain of authority to someone who (I thought) could and would. I mean, I thought that’s what adults were for. Bullying particularly pissed (pisses) me off. When my mom suggested that maybe I might want to dial it back a little, I said in high dudgeon, “But how are they supposed to face the consequences of their actions?!” I was six. My name, in the more popular translation, means “Defender of Men” (as in humans; the Greek is gendered like the English). The less popular, but I’m told more accurate, translation means “She Who Wards Off Men.” Most of the stuff in my horoscope is in the 8th and 9th houses and my whole chart is ruled by Jupiter, the planet of Justice.

Point is, I’ve never been able to identify with the white-lighter crowd because my own experience tells me some people are born to walk right up to badness and slap it across the face with a glove. It doesn’t go away because you turn your back on it–we’ve tried that. But we have to work smart, not just hard–and it’s never too early to start the reconnaissance mission.

*Technically I came into this world asleep.

Gimme that old time religion

I often think about where I’d be now if I had followed my earliest instincts. I have always had what you might call the religious temperament. The earliest thing I can remember wanting to be when I grew up is a priest. My mom believes that small children should have to sit through boring church services so they’ll learn to be well-behaved in school, and she also thought religion would be edifying for me, but she didn’t much care what sort of religion. So, as she tells the story, she decided she would take me to a different house of worship every week and let me choose which one I liked best. The first place we went was our local small town Catholic church (we’re not Catholic), and that was it. I didn’t want to go anywhere else. I was about 4 at the time. I can still remember how much I loved the stained glass, the statues, the paintings of stations of the cross, the singing, the incense… I begged my mom to sit in the front row. She made me a deal: if I behaved, we’d move forward one row every week. So the weeks passed, and we moved up, until we were in the second row back. That Sunday, as the priest was preparing communion, I stood up on the kneeling board, turned to face my mom, and said in a stage whisper that reverberated through the whole church, “Hey Mom, how come there aren’t any women priests here?” The priest started laughing. My mom was mortified. As I seem to remember happening so often during my youth, she said, “Shhh, I’ll tell you when we get outside.” And she did. “I never want to go back there,” I said. And I meant it. The Church lost its most devout follower that day, I tell you what. I was 5. Thenceforth I felt I was on my own where religion was concerned. I became obsessed with reading about every kind of mythology. By the time I was about 12, I was a hard polytheist, though I didn’t know it at the time. I was using tarot cards and had started learning astrology. Looking back, I have no idea how that happened. It certainly didn’t come from my family–I was an only child, my mom was raising me by herself, and she was and is a New Age Unitarian-Universalist-type Christian. She was not super thrilled about my proclivities, but didn’t make much of an attempt to discourage me because she was sure I’d outgrow it. I remember I would beg her to take me to the local Tower Books, and bless her heart, she bought me a lot of eclectic stuff over the years, including my first tarot deck. Had I not been discouraged, I would probably have become some kind of Celtic or reconstructionist. But there was a subtle disapproval. My mother has this dismissive way of saying, “Well…” when you propose something she suspects is tomfoolery that is like icewater in the veins. I was always very independent, but also very obedient–I think mainly because I hated it when my mom turned out to be right about something and thus I turned out to be wrong. Also I began to realize that mainstream society did not look kindly upon polytheism. I once told the librarian in high school that I was inventing my own religion, which I thought would be better than saying that I was a budding Celtic reconstructionist, not that I knew what to call it, and she naturally scoffed at the idea. I was going through a rough time then, and I just sort of put religious themes aside. I believed in God mainly because I was afraid not to, but felt no connection (and in fact, a good deal of bitterness) to the Christian god. My maternal family have passed down stories of ancestors who were witches, mystics, and psychics and it was taken for granted that it runs in the family. Yet my mom didn’t want to teach me anything about it, ostensibly because I was “too young.” My mom is convinced that I will manage to kill myself performing even the safest and most routine activities, so when it comes to magic she is certain I will summon and become possessed by legions of demons. The unintended consequence is that I became convinced that I was the black sheep who had no psychic or magical ability. I don’t think anyone in my family had any idea how much pain and shame I felt because of this. Everyone said it would come eventually. I just wanted to be special, and to think that everyone in my family but me had been gifted special specialness was hard. I know, cry me a river, right? But being special matters a lot to teenagers. When I was 15 my mom got a job in Sevilla, Spain and we moved there for the then-foreseeable future, which turned out to be three years. For the first time, I set foot in Christian churches again, put purely from historical and anthropological interest. One day during Holy Week of 1993 we went to one of the major churches as tourists and I had my first direct UPG (Unverified Personal Gnosis) experience.

Nuestra Senora de la Esperanza Macarena.
Nuestra Se~nora de la Esperanza Macarena.

Every church in Sevilla has at least one statue of Jesus and at least one statue of the Virgin Mary. Of these two, the Virgin is unquestionably of greater social importance. She is almost always depicted as a dolorosa, weeping for the deceased Jesus (though a church may also have a gloriosa, a mother holding Baby Jesus). When I lived there, I was asked more than once whether I was a follower of the Virgin or Christ. Or, not and. During Holy Week, crowds of thousands gather in the streets and each church’s principal images are put onto ornate pasos (sort of like holy parade floats) and carried through the city on young men’s shoulders to the cathedral and back. The air is filled with incense smoke and lit by candles. Drums roll through the night, while bands play dirges for Jesus and exuberant marches for the Virgins. Penitents carry crosses behind the pasos, wearing pointed hoods that gave the Klan the idea. On the way, people throw flowers at them and sometimes are so moved that they break into extempore devotional songs. Followers of a given Virgin will hail them with shouts of “Beautiful! Beautiful!” while members of other churches, and thus followers of other Virgins, yell “Whore!” The whole thing produces a very altered state of consciousness, especially at 3 a.m.

La Macarena on her paso. Her trip through Sevilla takes approximately 13 hours.
La Macarena on her paso. Her trip through Sevilla takes approximately 13 hours.

Things may be different now. Even then, the archbishop was trying to crack down on the insults and fist fights that occasionally broke out between parishioners of different churches. Devotees would start shouting “Beautiful!” or “Whore!” and then a wave of “Shhhh!” would run through the crowd. But then again, it might be the same as it ever was. In my experience, the more authorities or people from outside Spain encourage Spaniards to abandon something, the harder they hold on to it (bullfighting, for example).

El Baratillo going through the Plaza de San Francisco. Our apartment was on the top floor of the building second from left.
El Baratillo going through the Plaza de San Francisco. Our apartment was on the top floor of the brick building second from left (or third if you count the little sliver of building at the very edge).

And some of the statues move. I have seen a statue of Jesus reposition the cross he was carrying. I have seen a Virgin smile, move her hands and eyes, and turn her head to look at the people sitting in her church–and that was also witnessed by three people with me, one of whom was an atheist who had a transformative religious experience because of it. Most of these statues date from the 1600s-1800s, and they are not mechanical. Anyway, I’m not talking about mechanical movements or optical illusions. The reason people can call the Virgin Mary a whore without cognitive dissonance is because these different statues are not regarded as mere representations of the same holy person. Each one is seen by her followers as the true Virgin, while all the others are impostors. Yet the statues of Jesus seem to be regarded as all the same being. Certainly Jesus never gets insulted, but nor does he get ecstatic praise. I can tell you that each Virgin has her own unique “vibe”: La Macarena feels like the sweetest, most unconditional love, sympathy, and joy, while El Rocío feels like a wild mare who will smite your foes with extreme prejudice. At least that’s how they are to me. Far from being one saint, they are different goddesses. (I wrote a bit more about El Rocío and her horses here.) But they are tied to their locality and the cultural context that gives them relevance, and I found that they didn’t transfer very well back to America. (Neither did I, actually. So. Much. Depression.) I spent the years between then and my Saturn return, approximately a decade, trying my best to adult and keeping my nose clean and to the grindstone. I finished college and went to grad school because that was what everyone expected and I didn’t have any better ideas. I had always been good at school so at least I got positive strokes for that, and I enjoyed and was good at teaching and writing. But I was having increasing difficulty fitting into my atheist, super-scientistic academic milieu. I loved doing scientific research, but hated seeing the name of science being used to bully others. I saw myself as a believer with nothing to believe in. As my research questions evolved, I began to see that I would not be able to answer them from inside academia. I desperately wanted to think divergently, but no longer remembered how. I got very interested in Buddhist philosophy, but I had difficulty embracing the idea of being a Buddhist, in no small part because most of the others I met were annoying. The Saturn return gets a lot of bad press, but it was actually a pretty good time in my life (Saturn is a cake walk compared to the shit Pluto throws at you, but I digress). I began to realize that I was no less mystical or psychic than the rest of my family. I came to terms with and embraced my need for spiritual fulfillment, even though I hadn’t found the right outlet. I finally voiced out loud what I had long suspected, that most New Age pop-spirituality and the Law of Attraction in particular are BS. I guess you could say I finally started to come into my own, to see myself instead of the many expectations about who I should be. As I finished grad school, my mother became seriously ill, and I moved back to California to take care of her. This freed me from having to decide whether to abandon an academic career–the choice was made for me. Although being a caregiver is in many ways the most difficult thing I have ever had to do, being stuck inside for 20+ hours per day does give me a lot of time to read and write. In spite of all the work I do taking care of my mom, I have made massive progress on my Great Work, even though I am still just at the beginning. Hey, it’s a long road, and I walk slowly. Oh, and in case you’re wondering what religion I ascribe to, I have come back around to polytheism seasoned with animism, pantheism, and panentheism. (And yes I know those last two are supposed to be mutually exclusive, but I don’t see it that way.) I guess you could say I believe in all gods, though I wouldn’t work with all of them. There is no one cultural pantheon that calls to me more than another, but certain deities from various cultures. I find that I cannot bring myself to identify with the term “pagan,” though I suppose that’s how others would identify me, and there doesn’t seem to be any other term that fits me either. I naturally rebel against hierarchy and am not a joiner, so will probably never become a priestess within any organized lodge or temple, though someday I may choose that service. All remains to be seen.

The unlearning process


Beginning about four years ago, it became obvious that I needed to re-enchant the world, and I meant that literally, not metaphorically. I knew in my gut the reality of magic and that a world which denies its existence is one I don’t want to live in. Although I didn’t–and still don’t–know exactly what this will entail, I felt intuitively that this would not only bridge the rift that had grown in my own psyche, but would be an act of service. I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant–I can assure you, dear reader, that I have no idea what I have to contribute at this point. I just know I have to do the work. I have to get Other-wise.

This blog is the story of how I am trying to unlearn the mental and cultural conditioning that has shaped me over the last three decades. Of course, unlearning is really just learning a new way, learning otherwise. Before I started college, I was an artist. I was passionate. I was frequently inspired. During my first year at college I suddenly noticed the well of inspiration had run dry. Technically, I can still draw, but I no longer had that compulsive need or ability to tap into something larger than myself. In part, this is because I have branched out to other arts and crafts, including writing, and with so many irons in the fire no one of them gets all the juice. But a bigger problem is that in college I resigned myself to being “realistic,” while at the same time I had to intensely cultivate analytical reasoning at the expense of intuition and other modes of processing. It was the biggest in a long series of resignations that started in childhood, grew unchecked as I did the things a good adult is supposed to do, and ultimately left me alienated from myself. My life circumstances have gloriously aligned in such a way that I can actually devote time and energy to this, and write about it.

There are a lot of excellent blogs on magic, the occult, broadly-pagan religions, and what Chris Knowles calls “reality-based high weirdness.” The one thing I’d like to see more of is learners’ stories. I like reading about people’s experiences and how they were personally affected, the mistakes they made and how they grew. To paraphrase Gordon White (I can’t remember the specific post where he said it, alas), I am looking for blogs that share rather than teach. It seems to me that many writers in what we may broadly term the online occult community are unwilling to share their experiences lest they appear anything less than expert. Also, there is an incredible amount of backbiting in minority communities that tend to be persecuted by mainstream ideologues. Too many people have set themselves up as authenticity police, and nobody wants to be on the business end of the billy club.

Of course it’s also hard to write about things which, by their very nature, transcend language. And some things are too personal to share. The fourth pillar of the old adage is To Keep Silent, and there is wisdom both practical and esoteric in it.

But I think sharing personal stories helps others find and stay on their path. Not because of the nature of the experiences per se, but just because of knowing you’re not alone. So I guess that’s what I’m going to do here. It’s uncomfortable for many reasons, which is why I think it needs to be done. To be honest, I don’t know what I am bringing to the table that’s different from all the other blogs, and a big part of me is screaming at me to just keep my journaling about this stuff to myself, as I have always done. But a voice has been nagging at me to start this blog for a year now, getting louder and louder, so I’m going to obey it and see what happens.

You’ll notice that many of my posts begin with questions. That reflects my feeling that a questioning approach is the best one. To paraphrase Socrates, the only thing I know is how much I don’t know. You don’t need answers from me; after all I’m just like you, figuring it out as I go. But you might like to have some new questions. Maybe you’ll find some here?