Over 40,000 Words Since Nov. 1

The Witching Work of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits is humming along, thanks to National Novel Writing Month. There’s nothing like the challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month to get the creative juices flowing!

But I’m fortunate to have an exceptional muse for this second book, the Norse god Loki, who appears front and center as Lucky LaFey, a “sweet-talking drifter” with a fondness for donuts. But he but soon reveals his true identity to the merry band of newly transplanted “Hermits of Hermitville” and their magical mentors, the Elves of The Realm (saucily referred to as “Elven Overlords” when out of earshot).

Babe Bump, Oyster Olson, and Tomma Bedlam are still at the center of the second book, narrating most of the chapters. Oyster gets suprising news about his birth parents, Tomma settles into a polyamory triad, and Babe begins to master her talents as a medium. At the same time, they and the rest of the Hermits struggle with their exile from Hawai’i and their new life in Lake County, CA.

And even before the Elves can get their mortal charges up to speed on magical skills, a new villain, the Big Dipper, arrives on the scene. He’s big, he’s bad, and he looks exactly like Malibu Ken. He has his very own cult and is opening a resort in the hills surrounding the lake.

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The Big Dipper has an uncanny resemblance to this innocuous childhood toy.

It’s hard to write without giving spoilers, so I’ll just say I am having as much fun writing this second book as I did writing the first. My characters continue to surprise me and I love them all. Even, in a horrible way, the villains.

I have four queries out to literary agents and if they turn me down, I’ll send out another batch of letters. I believe in these characters and I believe in these books.

Thanks for reading!

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Western Magic Influences

[Updated and Revised, Feb. 9, 2019]

Since 2016, I have been researching magical knowledge, neopagan traditions, and other esoteric resources for The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits and the sequel, The Witching Work of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits.

A_grotto_containing_a_magic_circle,_books_and_mythical_creat_Wellcome_V0025853
Creative Commons/Wellcome Images. A grotto containing a magic circle, books and mythical creatures. Etching by J. Vezzani after G. Rocchetti.

Here are some of the sources and teachers who have become important and inspirational since I began writing these fantasy novels. I am absorbing quite a lot of material and ideas from these and other sources, however I am combining what I learn in a fictional way with my own fantasies of the magic practiced in Hermitville and the Realm (the Elven home). Faery cities are important to this made-up magic, as are many other things.

Again, I emphasize: nothing that I am writing in my fantasy novels should be considered an accurate portrayal or reflection of the teachings and sources below.

Even so, I want to take grateful note of the teachers and books which are helping me scrabble a magical system together.

Ariel Gatoga’s podcasts, The Witch’s Primer, is a course in the basics of “non-denominational witchcraft.” Ariel is an engaging teacher and I find his approach refreshing. His was a cheery voice during a very depressing period in my life. I’ve also enjoyed many of his Druidic Craft of the Wise podcasts as well, especially the one called A Charmed Life. Unfortunately, Gatoga’s websites have been hacked and his podcasts are almost impossible to find. That link above to the Druidic Craft of the Wise lectures is on Google Drive.

Dr. Daniel Foor’s Ancestral Medicine website, lectures, book, and classes, convey a practical, luminous path for working with ancestors. This is exceptional work and I am so glad to have found Dr. Foor’s teachings.

Gatoga and Foor were two of my most meaningful discoveries during the first year of writing and learning.

Podcasts such as Missing Witches (hosted by Risa Dickens and Amy Torok),  Bespoken Bones (hosted by Pavini Moray) and Down at the Crossroads (hosted by Chris Orapello and Tara Maguire) provide thoughtful conversations with practitioners and authors. Orapello and Maguire have since published their own book, Besom, Stang, and Sword: A Guide to Traditional Witchcraft, the Six-Fold Path & The Hidden Landscape.

Also influential:

Aidan Wachter’s Six Ways: Approaches and Entries for Practical Magic.

Sex, Sorcery and Spirit: The Secrets of Erotic Magic and The Elements of Spellcrafting: 21 Keys to Successful Sorcery, both by Jason Miller.

Sigil Witchery: A Witch’s Guide to Crafting Magick Symbols by Laura Tempest Zakroff.

For divination, I rely heavily on Nordic Runes by Paul Rhys Mountfort and The Ultimate Guide to the Rider-Waite Tarot by Johannes Fiebirg and Evelin Burger.

I have a lot more magic books in my library of course (ditto for tantra and hypnosis) but the above are the ones I seem to go to the most.

I have enjoyed Magic in the Middle Ages, taught online by instructors at the University of Barcelona on Coursera. This class provided some wonderful background on one period in the history of European magic, as well as the criminalization of witchcraft and spellwork.

“Inclusive heathenry” and “Northern Tradition Paganism” has also made its way into my life during this time and so I owe a debt of gratitude to The Troth and Hrafnar, as well as to various Lokean websites and groups. I am particularly happy to make the acquaintance of the Norse deities: the trickster god Loki, who is my “most trusted one”; Freyr and his Jotun wife, Gerda; and Freya.

Aside from the Poetic Edda and the Prose Edda, two books on Loki have been hugely helpful, as well as a delight to read:

Dagulf Loptson’s Playing With Fire–An Exploration of Loki Laufeyjarson.

God in Flames, God in Fetters: Loki’s Role in the Northern Religions by Stephan Grundy, Ph.D.

I’ve also drawn freely on what I know about trance states as a hypnotist and as a practitioner of Western Neo-Tantra.

So my fantasy novels are definitely “a work of art, on the whole, but showing the influence of too many schools” (as Oscar Wilde wrote of his character, Mrs. Cheveley). But in this case, perhaps it’s not a bad thing!

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August Natterer: Witch’s head, c. 1915, Prinzhorn Collection – public domain.