I have been married since 1981 and a father of a daughter since 1982. My wife is simply amazing; quite easily the smartest and nicest person I have ever known. Shes had a very successful career as a vice-president at an insurance company and as an actuary, a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries. On top of all this, she is cute. I don't just mean cute in a physical sense (although she is). Cute is as cute does, and she does cute. I sometimes wonder how I ever won her.
My daughter is, of course, equally amazing. As well as being beautiful (not just my and my wife’s opinion, by the way), she is brilliant. She speaks Spanish fluently, and shows an interest in languages in general that makes me very happy. Like her mother, she has a big heart, but like her father she still can accept some of the hard facts of the world without blinking. I hope this comes in handy in her chosen field of social work. She's a truly amazing combination of the best of both of us, with her own mysterious nature added.
And since September of 2016 I've been a grandfather! I simply love it! My grandaughter is named "Hope," after the Rhode Island flag. Her father is from there, and very proud of it. I'm proud that I suggested it. The great thing about being a grandfather is that you get to feel all the love of being a father, but without any of the fear and uncertainty. I highly recommend it.
I myself was born in 1957, in North Tonawanda, NY, and spent my early years in Tonawanda. These two towns, separated by the Erie Canal (they are, in fact, where the canal really ends, despite what the song says), are delightful reminders of a nicer time. Visiting them is like taking a trip back in time.
I didn’t live there long, though, since my father was in the Air Force. We lived in a number of places, including Germany. It was while we were there that I went to Berlin. This was while the Wall was still up, and I was privileged to see it, and to cross it into East Berlin. The contrast between the two was shocking -- the West, a vibrant, colorful, living city, and the East, a city of grey, with rubble left over the WWII, even then in the late 60s. When I was taking classes at the University of Massachusetts years later, I would see Communist students handing out copies of the Daily Worker, and I would want to shake them and scream, "You've never been to East Berlin. You've never seen the Wall."
For college I went to Holy Cross, a good Catholic school, where I met my wife. I received a degree in psychology, with a secondary concentration in Eastern religions, in 1979. The fact that after twenty-five or so years my training in psychology is obsolete leaves me with mixed feelings. I am grateful, however, that pyschology majors were required to take a course in statistics. That has stood me in good stead, and I think that everyone should be required to take it, on at least a high school level. We are confronted daily with statistics -- polls, gambling odds, and such -- but few of us really understand them. Many people still believe that if a series of coin flips has come up consistently heads, the odds against the next flip coming up heads are greater than 50%, or that the odds against a shuffled deck of cards being in order by suit and number are greater than those against any other order. Just the other day I read how in a poll the majority of people polled believed in one thing, with the breakdown something like 49/47%, with the rest undecided. A plurality rather than a majority, but it was even worse; the error of measurement was 4%. In other words, statistcally speaking, the question was tied. People should know these things. But I digress.
After college I served in the Air Force myself, as a communications officer, stationed in England. (I had gone to college on a ROTC scholarship.) My wife and I developed a love for England and the English, and have been back a number of times. We have even considered living there after my wife retires.
I served my hitch in the Air Force and got out. I won't say that the Air Force and I parted on the best of terms, but I know that both of us seemed relieved. My wife and I didn’t like the idea of someone else raising our daughter in daycare, so we decided one of us would stay home and take care of her and the house. My wife wanted to try the working world. Fortunately, I was quite eager to take up the househusband role, so that is how we raised our daughter. It was one of the best decisions of our lives; all three of us are happier than we would otherwise have been. As you might guess from the rest of this site, I know quite a lot of rather obscure things, and I made sure that my daughter knew them. To make things worse, she came home one day early in her school career very upset because she already knew the things she was being taught. We promised her that we would only teach her things she wouldn't learn in school. I'm sure you can appreciate how unusual an education she had as a result. Eventually, school caught up with her, and the odd things started to come in handy. One of my proud moments came when her Iranian chemistry teacher in high school started to count in her own language. Realizing what she was doing, she stopped, and asked the students if any of them knew what language she had been speaking. My brilliant daughter said,"Farsi," amazing one and all. But her thought was, "Of course it's Farsi; she's from Iran." Like I said, we taught her some unusual things.
After some time in Stamford, CT, my wife got a job near Boston, so we moved to a town south of there, where we lived from the next twenty years. When her company moved to Des Moines, Iowa, we moved instead to the seacoast of New Hampshire. My urban wife was shocked to learn how much she liked living in a small town.
I became a Wiccan (Neo-Wiccan) in high school, and was one for over fifteen years. When I started to research what we actually know about ancient Paganism, however, I realized that it was the Old Gods that I was attracted to, and that I wanted to worship them in the old ways. I am now an Indo-European Reconstructionist, with, as this site will make abundantly clear, a particular interest in the Proto-Indo-European religion and language.
My first book, The Pagan Family, came about almost by accident. I was talking to a friend on the phone, telling her the ways I practiced Paganism with my family, and she said, "You should write a book." (Beth, if you're out there, e-mail me.) I laughed, and we continued the conversation on other subjects. A few days later, finding myself with nothing to do, I wrote an outline of chapters. I looked at it and thought, "Man, I could write a book." So I did. And then I wrote another one, and then a few more. Now I’m working on a number of projects, and whether anything gets published or not I expect to be writing for the rest of my life. That’s what writers do.
Here's an interview with me:
Deep Ancestry - a conversation with Ceisiwr Serith. My part starts at the beginning of minute 23.
Here's me doing my Cosmology Song at a ritual (my part starts around 2:07):
The Pagan Family. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications, 1994. Out of print, alas, but it still comes up sometimes on ebay or half.com, or through out-of-print booksellers. The second edition is on this site, though.
A Book of Pagan Prayer. York Beach, ME: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2002.
Deep Ancestors: Practicing the Religion of the Proto-Indo-EuropeansTucson, AZ: ADF Publishing, 2009. The Proto-Indo-European portion of my site is related to this.
A Pagan Ritual Prayer Book. San Francisco: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2009.
Back to the Beginnings: Reinventing Wicca. Lulu Press, 2012. Ronald Hutton once pointed out to me that Gerald Gardner used the best scholarship of his day, which led me to ask myself what Wicca would look like if he'd used today's best scholarship. So I stripped Wicca down to its basics -- duotheism, small groups, initiatory structure, etc. -- and rebuilt it with modern scholarship in mind. It probably won't be surprising that I use a lot of comparative Indo-European material, with an emphasis on the Celts and the Germanic peoples. Excerpts can be found here.
The last four are available from me, autographed and with free shipping. Check out my publications page for prices.
A Family Ritual for Brighid’s Day. Circle Network News, Summer, 1989.
Finding the Third Way: Becoming a Man. EarthSpirit Community Newsletter, Summer, 1991.
To Her. Enchanté 9 (Litha, 1991).
The Charge of the Goddess in Elvish. Enchanté 11 (Oimelc, 1992).
An Elvish Circle Casting. Enchanté 11 (Oimelc, 1992).
The Proto-Indo-European Creation Myth. Enchanté 15 (Midsummer, 1993).
Household Guardians: The Home as Altar. Enchanté 16 (Samhain,1993).
Creation Myth. Enchanté 17 (Spring, 1994).
Practice, not Belief. Moosewood Circle Journal. Beltane, 1994.
The Gundestrup Cauldron: A Response to Taylor. Keltria 22 (Summer, 1994).
Cernunnos: Iconography and Meaning. Keltria 23 (Fall, 1994); 24 (Samhain, 1994).
The Charge of the Goddess: A Source Analysis. Enchanté 21 (Carmentalia, 1996).
Review of Ronald Hutton, The Shamans of Siberia. Enchanté 21 (Carmentalia, 1996).
Proto-Indo-European Cosmology. The Druids’ Progress 13 (1994).
Proto-Indo-European Altars. The Druids’ Progress 15 (1995).
The Hearth in Indo-European Religion and ADF. The Druids’ Progress 16 (1996).
The Triple Demon of Samhain: An Indo-European Tale. Keltria 36 (Winter, 1997).
A Celtic Beltane Ritual. Oak Leaves 6 (April, 1998).
A Celtic Lughnasad Module. Oak Leaves 7 (1998).
Household Shrines: Shrines and Deities in a Roman Home. Enchanté 24 (Scirophoria and Alban Hefin, 1998).
Other People's Myths. Oak Leaves 10 (1999).
A Simplified Version of ADF Ritual. Oak Leaves 10 (1999).
Sacrifice, the Indo-Europeans, and ADF. Oak Leaves 16 (Samhain, 2000 - Imbolc, 2001).
Seeking the Wisdom of the Ancestors: A Form of Indo-European Divination. Oak Leaves 18 (n.d.).
American Paganism – Not about Paganism as practiced by Americans, but a Paganism that uses American deities, like Liberty, Justice, and Columbia, American ritual styles, and an American calendar of festivals.
Cernunnos of the Gauls -- Cernunnos is a common name for the Wiccan God. But how did the ancient Gauls see him? I use a large number of ancient images to explore this.
Indo-European Sacred Drinks -- Mead, nektar, soma -- the Indo-Europeans sure did have a lot of sacred drinks. What are they, how were they made, and how were they used?
Mithraism – What was this ancient Roman mystery religion about? Where did it come from? What were its beliefs? What do we know about its rituals? It’s sometimes said to have influenced Christianity. Did it?
Pagan Family Values – What are Pagan virtues, both ancient and modern? What does it mean to practice them? How can we pass them on?
Proto-Indo-European Paganism – Who the Proto-Indo-Europeans were, how we about them, why we should care. Cosmology, rituals, deities.
Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice – What ritual is, how it’s structured, how it’s performed, and how to write and perform better ones.
If you are interested in my presenting any of these at a gathering, bookstore, or other event, contact me and maybe we can arrange something.
Things About Me