Meditative Acts – Research 3: Forced Idleness

My original plan had been to begin my meditations Monday by making the first round of candles, which would be dedicated to Dionysos.  Unfortunately, Sunday night I cut my hand badly while doing dishes, and that plan was immediately scrapped.  I can’t make candles or build altars without reopening the wound at this stage.  Taking this as something of a sign, I spent yesterday coddling my hand, reading actual printed words, and living life unplugged from the internet.

I type this post, now, entirely left handed, still full of peace from my first day of real leisure since … I don’t remember when.  I spent all of yesterday reading, and half of today.  Depending on how quickly my hand heals, and how far behind I get as a result of this setback, it will be the 11th or the 18th before I start the Do Magick challenge.

Sitting still for a day felt so good, though, that I cant quite bring myself to be upset by this delay.  I think that my meditations will be improved by the slowdown.

In the meantime I will continue my research.  I’ve ploughed through Detienne and bookmarked both the Homeric and Orphic hymns, but Otto and Burkurt yet await.  And I still have a lot of art to dig up.

Season of Contemplation

The final months of the year are always a period of deep contemplation for me.  Samhain, Yule, New Years.  My birthday and my partner’s, and our anniversary.  Five different calendars turn over from 31 October to 1 January, plus Thanksgiving and Christmas and all the navel-gazing that goes with that.  This year, even more than most, I have a lot to contemplate.

Usually, I begin the season with a sort of revel: dressing up for days leading up to Halloween, each costume more outrageous than the last, and greeting each night with as much wine and ecstacy as I can muster.  I have pushed the boundaries of dress codes at my places of employment, unnerved the casual libertines of a residential liberal arts college, been too weird for the weirdest town in Kansas.  I have gone out into the world to be seen, to confront the squares with the life they could have if only they’d grow a soul and a spine.

This morning, however, I woke in a mental place of quiet.  I have no revel in me, today.  My thoughts circle on who I am and what I want.  I find that my answers do not come as readily as they have in the past.

Mine is not a simple life.  Much of that is by choice, but at the core it’s also my nature.  I am not now, nor ever have I been, nor ever shall I be a “get-along, go-along” kind of person.  I have always believed in things that others do not; always wanted things that were not what was prescribed for me.  I have always not pursued those desires – all other arguments aside, there are only so many hours in the day – but I have always stood up for what I believe in the face of not just convention, but actual authority.

This year has seen a great deal of both those things.  The one has left me blessed, surrounded by more love and stronger community than in many years.  The other has left me adrift as certain ambitions were broken on the rocks of my ideals, shattered by my refusal to be expedient with my ethics.

This year, I have been victorious and beloved.  This year, I have been disappointed and betrayed.  Certain magical operations have, all rather suddenly and together, born fruit: I feel like there is more of me than there has been in years, and that I can see more clearly than I have since the Sunrise Temple … or possibly even Lawrence.  At the same time, though, I feel like the world is murkier by the day, and that even more of me isn’t enough for the work at hand.

The last year has seen the rise of a new autocratic strain in US politics, and a savage resurgence of white supremacy in both the US body politic at large and the KC neo-Pagan community in particular.  Homophobia and heteronormativity are coming back like a tide, and allies are mistaking the most banal lip service for real support.

In this moment, I’m feeling mostly good.  In an hour that might change.  Looking back over the last year, I’m really not certain I can say that there hasn’t been more down than up.  So begins the season of contemplation.


SEC Final Report

At the June meeting of the Heartland Spiritual Alliance, two of my crew on the Sacred Experience Committee put their hats in for the position.  Exhausted by my work over the last two years, I was relieved to see such enthusiasm for leadership within the committee.  At the June meeting, this past Sunday, my successor was elected, and I submitted this final report.

[Satyr Magos] Final Sacred Experience Report

When I joined the Sacred Experience Committee in 2014, I was signing up to work committee head with whom I had had loud and public disagreements over the nature and ethics of public ritual.  At the end of the year, he nominated me to succeed him.  For the two years, now, that I have run the committee, and the prior year in which I worked the ritual crew under Jason Truman, I have striven to create public rituals which have participants rather than an audience and which are both magically effective and as safe as effective ritual can possibly be.    I believe, overall, that I have been successful in my goals.

In that time, I have changed the culture of the Sacred Experience Committee Ritual Crew from one where an inner circle writes rituals that they recruit others to perform to one where all of the ritual facilitators are actively involved in the design process.  In 2014/15, there were four of us on the Ritual Crew.  This year there were nine.  In the years prior to my joining, there had only been two main rituals; this year there were five.  When I took over the committee in 2015, I inherited two totes worth of costumes, ritual bling, and craft supplies; I leave the committee now with six totes and a bit of overflow.

I speak chiefly of the Ritual Crew, because the Vision Quest and Sweat Lodge both came with existing crews and leaders accustomed to operating independently.  Out of respect for their bodies of work, and in the interests of the festival and the organization, I permitted them that autonomy without question.  I wish, now, that I had more deeply involved myself in those aspects of my committee.

I am proud of the crew I have built, the work we have done, and the prestige we have restored to the public rituals at the Heartland Pagan Festival.  The two people who ran for the position today have both been with me to the beginning, and are excellent ritualists who would have been excellent leaders of this committee going forward.

Congratulations to Lorelei.  I wish her the best of luck, and hope that she finds the garden I left her well-tended.  I look forward to continuing to work with the committee, and making the Heartland Pagan Festival a magickal and ecstatic experience for our attendees.

I am grateful for the opportunities I have had over the last two years.  I am proud of the ritual arcs we executed.  I am proud of the work we have done in the community.  I am honored to have served, and look forward to continuing to work with the Sacred Experience Committee and he Heartland Spiritual Alliance in the coming years, in less demanding capacities.

I am also grateful for this opportunity to step back, to internalize the lessons I have learned in my two years of leadership, and to refocus on my art.

I Stand Against White Supremacy

I stand against white supremacy.  Full stop.

I stand against white supremacy in the Pagan community.  Full stop.

I stand against white supremacy in modern neo-Pagan witchcraft, and in reconstructionist polytheism, and in the New Age movement.  For that matter, I stand against white supremacy in academia, and in queer culture.  I stand against white supremacy in art and literature and in fantasy and science fiction and horror and every other community of which I am directly or tangentially affiliated.  On the one hand, I would hope that — however I may, at times inevitably, fail to live up to my antiracist ideals — that would be clear from my record.  On the other hand, I’ve been around the block too many times to think that it goes without saying.

This comes to mind today because it has come to my attention that an occult store in the Kansas City area has given a platform to a white supremacist author.  When the author’s political leanings and affiliations were revealed, and the store owner was asked to cancel the event, the store owner and the general community at large responded predictably: doubling down, waving the false flag of free speech, and accusing all detractors of censorship.  They say it is the author’s detractors who are the real racists, that membership in an explicitly white supremacist organization is not proof that the author, himself, is a white supremacist.

I am utterly unsurprised by any part of this.  What else does a white conjure shop owner have in common with an Asatru author?  And the deflections are fucking textbook: “They’re not really racist, just proud of who they are.”  “Giving racists a platform doesn’t make you racist.”  “Censorship!”  “Do you believe it’s possible to be racist against white people?”

Meanwhile, over on the author’s folk assembly page, he and his crew are bragging about rumors of Antifa intervention.  You know who brags about fights with Antifa?  Fascists.  Out-and-proud fascists brag about confrontations with Antifa.  Fucking Nazis.  And the KKK.  And, apparently, folkish Asatru assemblies.

Giving a white supremacist a platform does not make you one, per se, but it does make you complicit in white supremacy.  Likewise providing a platform for homophobes, transphobes, and mysoginists.  Denying them a platform is not censorship, nor is it denying them their free speech: it is the exercise of your own free speech.

So, too, is providing a platform an exercise of speech.  It is a statement: this is speech I support.  If, per chance, you offer an individual or an organization a platform on a particular subject, and it is brought to your attention after the fact that they are best known for speaking on another, then … then you have a choice.  You can either double down or make a judgment call.  Mainstream racists will attempt to convince you otherwise, but there is a difference between sticking with an author who, say, believes that our government is run by lizard people or that the pineapple and anchovies are an excellent pizza, and sticking with an author who is part of an explicitly white supremacist, homophobic, transphobic, and misogynist organization.

In case you didn’t know, that’s what “folkish” Asatru is.  Don’t take my word for it: go check out their websites.  There are dog whistles everywhere, and you don’t have to dig very deep before they get really, really explicit about those views.

Stand against white supremacy.  Stand against homophobia.  Stand against transphobia.  Stand against misogyny.

Stand against them in the Pagan community.  Stand against them in the world.

Success! Now the work.

Success!  Now the work.

If you have been living in a hole or otherwise not seeing my posts across various media platforms for the last 30 days, you may not know that I had a kickstarter running, trying to raise funds through preorders to publish my novel.

That campaign was successful, and I am excited and thankful beyond words.

Forty-five people came together to support my project, and pledged a total of $2284, with an average pledge of $50.76 per backer.  Thank you all for bearing with me as I focused on promoting that rather than producing content for this blog.  Thank you doubly if you are one of the eight backers that I’ve never met in meatspace, or one of the four who know me only as a Kansas City magician and priest.

If all goes according to plan, The Mark of the Wolf, the first volume of the Book of Secrets, will be available for purchase via major online dealers by the end of May.

In the meantime, despite festival preparation heating up, I will hopefully be able to return to producing actual content for this blog.  I just taught a class on Elemental Energies that I have a lot of post-facto thoughts about.  I just did a witchcraft photoshoot with a friend of mine, and have finally secured a model release for the shoot I did back in January.  I have things I want to tell you about the upcoming festival, and all the fun you’ll have if you come.  I hope you’ll join me for the ride.

Settling In and Going Big

Well, friends, it’s been a wild ride these last few weeks.  Some of it is good stuff that I’m proud to share, some of it has been a rampaging nightmare of social politics and conflicting interests about which I will never speak publically.  As for the latter, please raise a toast and pray for my strength.  Regarding the latter, however …

Firstly, I am pleased to announce the opening of my campaign, where you can support my art and bribe your way to first access to literally all my art and writing projects, including blog posts here.  Monthly support will also free me from a lot of the financial stress that’s keeping me from writing.

Secondly, I have also launched acampaign to raise funds to get my first novel, The Mark of the Wolf, in print.  The novel is done, ready to rock, but starting an LLC publishing company, securing consecutive ISBN numbers for the sequels, and actually getting printed copies is somewhat beyond my current means.  You can support me with as little or as much as you want, but $20 or more is preordering a copy of the novel in either paperback or hardcover.

And, yes, because these are the End Times, the inaugural post here at the new address is me begging for money.  But I promise you’ll get your money’s worth.  And that the blog will continue to be free, and — as an added bonus — no longer advertise anything but me.


Relocating Soon

Hey, friends –

I apologize for my long silence.  The holidays ate me alive worse than usual, and I’ve been sort of reassessing everything re: my web presence.  The good news is that I’m not going away.  Hopefully I’ll be MORE here.

I have purchased my relevant domain names –,, and – and web hosting.  In the short term, what that means for you all is a new site to follow, and a disappearance of all 3rd-party advertisements.  In the long term, I hope that this will be an exciting journey for us both.

See y’all on the flip side.

JS Groves

Satyr Magos

Witchy Vibe

I had the opportunity to shoot some photos with a friend of mine last week, which was a great deal of low-key fun, particularly after my NaNoWriMo victory.  A couple of them turned out a little witchy, so I thought I’d share them here.

Presenting Lottie Dha:



I began this blog in November of 2009.  My adventure into public occultism began under my own legal name, and on blogspot, and it’s been a hell of a ride.  A lot has changed since then.  I’ve taken a pseudonym that sort-of-no-really turned itself into a magical name.  I’ve migrated to wordpress.  The blog has been personal and political and experimental by turns, and at its best is all three at once.

When I started the blog, I was doing little enough in the rest of my life that it made sense to talk just about my magic.  When I started pursuing a career in academics, it made sense to cordon off this portion of my life in the name of respectability, and to that end I obscured my identity and location with poetic pseudonyms.  I was so little known, at the time, than anonymity frankly improved my credibility in the occult community.  But things have changed since then.

I have given up my dreams of professional academia – if not, perhaps, my dreams of some day, in a different cultural and economic climate, of continuing to educate myself in a formal setting – and no longer fear my private life being a professional concern.  Even in my day job, I no longer work for squares: I now work for Kansas City’s premier New Age book store and jeweler.  Respectability politics … well, they will always be a hobgoblin that haunt my life, but I’m now being judged by wholly different criteria.

Now, by this point, you all, my highly intelligent readership, will suspect that I am going in one of two directions: I am either going to re associate this blog with my legal name, or possibly burn it to the ground.  You are neither wholly right nor wrong

I am also now doing a great deal more with my life, today, than I was seven years ago.  I have published my first novellas and am attempting to publish my first novel.  I have taken up art photography.  I am now a public leadership figure in the Heartland Spiritual Alliance, stewards of the annual Heartland Pagan Festival.  I have nothing to hide and, if I may say so myself, quite a lot to show off.

My dilemma, then, is how to show off all the things I do in one place, because I am frankly not enough of a coder to create however-many interconnected “standalone” websites — one for the novels, one for the photography, one for the masks and jewelry, one for the occult, and all somehow feeding into one blog.  (Because I’ve tried it and i know that I can’t keep up with multiple blogs.)  More to the point, the question is how to do so with the least disruption to either myself or my readership — because I love y’all and I don’t want to lose you.

Toward that end, I am actively soliciting suggestions.  What is the best way to integrate my various projects?  How do I migrate the blog without an epic shit-pile of off-site links (like I’ve still got knocking around, linking back to  blogspot)?  What is the most graceful way to integrate my online presences into  something marginally cohesive?

One Witch’s Gender

Although I have only very recently acquired the language to articulate my experiences, I have never identified comfortably with my assigned gender.  From my earliest memories, I have struggled against the things that have been expected of me in the context of my presumed masculinity.  I was too sensitive, too passive, too interested in emotional fulfillment, in intellectual pursuits.  I had no interest in sports fandom or physical competition – a matter of great consternation to my peers and the adults who surrounded us, given my physical size.  I was drawn to darkness, but not to cruelty – I had been subject to too much of it, and could not comprehend the logic whereby it was validated by making others, in their turn, suffer as I had.  While I certainly wished destruction upon my enemies, I rarely wished them to suffer or be humiliated, and never carried through on that impulse.  I was drawn to contemplative, experiential mysticism, not the violent and muscular Christiantiy that pervaded my home town when I was growing up.

My earliest spiritual practices, after rejecting both the God I found in the Bible and the one advocated by my Protestant peers, began with a pubescent and misinformed obsession with the Yin-Yang, the first non-theistic  spiritual symbol I encountered.  In a world filled with hard dichotomies of antagonistic oppositions – good versus evil; men versus women; Christians versus everyone – the notion of complimentary opposites, each containing echoes of the other, was deeply appealing to me.  It was ignorant wank-sauce Orientalism, I know that now; for what it’s worth, it was 1996 and I attended public school and I didn’t know any better.  And, more to the point, today: it was the only place in the world that I had found any context for the parts of myself I now describe as queer.  The notion that I might be energetically yin, rather than yang, gave me a way to contextualize myself and my experiences.

When I discovered Paganism, proper – not just energywork and New Age mumbojumbo – I was drawn to Goddess-worship and the effeminate undertones of witchcraft, though I was yet too contaminated by the respectability politics of the 1990s to embrace confrontational quality of the word.

I have more words, now.  Better words.  I am bisexual.  I am queer.  I am genderqueer.  I am something man-ish; something woman-ish; something neither; something both.  “All of the above and none of the above,” I tell people when I’m being pithy.  Sometimes, I am more sincere, and just tell people that my gender is “witch”.  My pronouns, though I rarely insist on them, are xie/xir.  Damn right I use the weird ones that got dropped from even the most inclusive lists.

I started coming out as bisexual in 2001.  I embraced the witchcraft identity in 2006, at about the same time that I embraced the label queer.  Though I recognize this is not true for everyone – or even most people who use either identifier – those two words are inextricably linked for me.  My queer identity and experience inform my witchcraft; my witchcraft shapes my experience of gender. “Witch” is not quite as confrontational as “queer”, but it’s better than “Pagan” (though I use that word, too).

I’ve touched on these themes beforeSeveral times, actually.  More times than I’ve just linked.  More times than I can remember.  And I’ll keep talking about it until the world is a better place.  Until admitting to those identities publicly is no longer a potential job-killer at any level of society.  Until they no longer come with a risk of having everything you own and/or love taken away by a hostile judge in a divorce hearing.  Until they no longer bear the risk of being executed by police and vigilantes.

I’m here.  I’m queer.  I’m tired.  And I’m angry.

I am a witch.  I have seen visions such as are granted only to prophets of other faiths.  I have raised my friends up and laid my enemies low.  I have made love to monsters and screamed in the faces of gods.

I am an artist.  I have a penchant for drama.  That doesn’t mean I’m lying.  Just that I talk about things others would rather keep quiet.

Today is National Coming Out Day.  Here I am.  Fucking fight me.

Come out if you can.  And if you can’t, know that you have friends and allies.  You are not alone.