Are You the Author of “Postmodern Magic?”

Holy cow, I got my first out-of-the-blue “Hey, are you the author of — ” thing yesterday.  I was working with someone I barely knew at this thing I do for community service (not the “busted with drugs” kind of community service but the “volunteering because it feels awesome” kind), which involves working with kids who are learning creative writing.  Since I’m also a poet, I talk mostly about poetry, but since I’m also the only counselor at the camp who has sold a book, I talk about the publishing process and the vast quantities of glorious, glorious money one makes off of royalties.  ahem.

Later, on the way to run an errand, the camp director — whom, as I said, I met essentially this week — said “Patrick, are you the author of Postmodern Magic?”  “Yes,” I said, “I certainly am.”  Keep in mind this guy is nearly twice my age (and I’m twice the age of the kids at the camp — it’s a neat mathematical thing), pretty clearly has never stopped in the occult section of his local bookstore, and probably wouldn’t believe in magic if it bit him in the bum.  So he had clearly googled me.  As part of a background check, I’m guessing, and that has had me chuckling for the last two days straight.  “So I guess you’re . . . Pagan?”  “Yup,” I said, “I certainly am.”

A moment of silence can have a flavor.  It can taste like a strenuous attempt to accept the odd, it can taste like cognitive dissonance, it can taste like the gap between two worlds that really can’t touch, no matter how hard one or either of us might try.

This year was the first the other counselors weren’t my friends, but absolute strangers.  We not only didn’t share a world view, I’m not sure we shared a reality, and our views of the numinous powers of writing were kind of — ahem — different.  I said to our female counselor, “I look forward to this every year; it really means a lot to me.  Often, it’s the high point of my year.”  She said “That’s really pathetic.”  But she didn’t see God in the face of these kids, when they found a way to say what they thought.  One of the kids told me that he had never, in his entire life up until now, found a way to feel like himself and write from what he really was, instead of what he thought he should be.   That’s God.  No wonder it’s the highlight of my year.

I didn’t make friends with the counselors.  They’re too far away from my world, in other orbits entirely, but I wish them well and hope they find pleasure in what brings them pleasure.  As for the kids — I am looking for a way to work with teenagers more regularly.  I think poetry has a lot to offer kids, a kind of magic so much more important than the invocation of the Holy Guardian Angel and so much miraculous and unlikely than the mere idea that a talisman might affect my world.


7 Responses to “Are You the Author of “Postmodern Magic?””

  1. Hello

    I stumbled upon this site when looking for blogs made by people who wanted to share their magical outlook on life… it was about the only one I found too, well, the only one that seemed mature at least, having flicked through quite a few teenage powertrips. I hadn’t even realized you had written a book on the subject until this post here.
    I myself am still at a lost regarding magic, haven’t really given any active steps towards it, I keep delaying them, out of a varying mixture of laziness, fear, and pointlessness… still it’s always on the back of my mind, the burden of untapped, wasted potential. I believe in magic the same way I believe in beauty and truth, I’d say I hold these three as synonyms, words from the same idea, so I already see magic as reality, as an aspect of all life, but sometimes this just doesn’t cut it and I feel ashamed that knowing this little I should not try to put it to use. A little over a year ago I went out and got myself the Franz Bardon trilogy, and that sums the length of my efforts, the peak of them, and the books have since then been gathering dust, glanced at but untried. Anyway I don’t want to spill myself all over this comment here, I just needed to introduce myself a bit because the purpose of this message is to ask you if you could please talk a bit about this, well write about this, with me. As would be expected it’s kind of hard to meet people who you can really talk about magic with, when I try most just tend to look at me like I have the answers when I’m just beginning to look for them. I’m sorry to sneak up like this but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to try, and I didn’t find an email anywhere on the site so I resorted to this public comment, which is probably better than sending a full fledged letter to your email straight away. I guess my email will show up to you beside this message so if you can spare me some of your time, drop me a line there, I’ll reply with a better introduction than this. I’ll completely understand if you can’t or simply don’t wish to, I see perfect sense in either so I’m not holding my breath for a reply, but well, I guess it would be silly not to ask.



  2. Lavanah Says:

    Goddess Bless, Patrick
    When people think of “doing things for kids” they usually envision the cute small ones, who are grateful for a teddybear or a doll. What you are doing for the teenagers than you are working with is truly tikkun olam.

  3. Patrick Says:

    Lavanah, that’s the thing: it’s the teenagers I really like. They’re funny, intelligent (some of them are brilliant, but all of them are intelligent, at this camp) and they’re very much cooler than most of the adults I meet on a given day. They’ve got a sense of possibility and a willingness to feel that most adults don’t seem to have — or if they have it, they don’t want to share it, hiding it behind an easy facade of glib meanness.

  4. As someone once said about my old boss, Howard Rheingold, Patrick, you’re a real mensch. (Probably should work in the word mitzvah here, too.)

    Personally, I enjoy working with younger children. Perhaps it’s because I started out teaching fifth grade for 10 years. For the past 13 years I’ve taught everything from K-7.

    This summer I’m working with two special needs students. It’s a real challenge for me because the great majority of my career has been in general ed. You can see my two charges (BTW – I got their parents permission to post their pix on my blog) at Our Stories at

    If I may, I’d like to speak to Filipe. (I would have simply e-mailed him, but I can’t find an address.)

    Filipe, I believe you’ve already got the most important requirement of all – curiosity. Of course, you must find your own way, but I suggest you ponder John Lilly’s “law” and, if it rings true for you, then make it your own – “In the province of the mind, what is believed to be true is true or becomes true, within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the province of the mind, there are no limits.”

    I enthusiastically recommend Patrick’s book to you. It is the most practical text I’ve ever read. And, of prime importance to me, he pretty much embraces Lilly’s law, whether he knows that or not. You see, I’m not looking for cut and dried recipes. I’m looking for inspiration. His text, and some of the texts on Chaos Magic, ring true for me, and so become my path.

    Good luck to you, Felipe. If you wish to e-mail me, it’s

  5. Christine Says:

    Kudos Patrick! I’m grateful that someone out there is really capable of making a difference to these kids!

  6. Brittany Says:

    That is pretty sweet, Patrick. I am still hoping that I get to be a Social Studies teacher… but I guess English would not be *too* bad. 🙂

  7. Pecca –

    This is an awesome post.

    I’m really happy that you sound so fulfilled working with children – it sounds a lot like my own discovery when I started nursing school.

    I admit a slight envy that you are now famous (ok, maybe just a little bit, but only one other person I personally know has a book on the shelf) even if they can’t accept your world view.

    How one can be turned so inward to not see the amazing-ness in which they are taking part when working with children boggles my mind.

    Oh – and regarding my other friend with a (a few) books on the shelf – few read his stuff either. He writes mostly about poverty and economics.


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