Of Blogging and Poetry

Now that I’ve been blogging for a few months, I have some opinions about it. I’m grateful that Star recruited me to do this. I’m glad to have more of my writing out where people can see it. But I’m not entirely happy with how this is going. The initial concept was that this would be paying work—if I got enough hits. I probably won’t. Serious writing about things religious does not attract a mass audience, unlike action thrillers and other children’s literature.

Q: How should one score the soundtrack for an action thriller?

A: With sax and violins.

I do not write in terms of what will be popular. I never have. My friend Floyd Salas once said to me, “Aidan, you’re a poet’s poet, but you’ll never be popular.” True. I regard the writing of poetry to be experiments in epistemology, not entertainment. I know I’m a very good poet. There’s no point to engaging in either hyperbole or false modesty. I published a traditional “slim volume of verse” back in 1975 and gave most of the copies away to friends. One went to the late Robert Anton Wilson, who said to me, “Aidan, I read poems hoping to occasionally run across a line that makes me say, ‘Far effing out!” You’ve got six per page. At least.”  Another went to Sir Fred Hoyle, who was one of my teenage heroes. Working for Scientific American Books, I got to edit six of his books and become friends with him. He graciously wrote one of the letters of recommendation that got me admitted to the Graduate Theological Union and to the graduate division of theUniversityofCalifornia,Berkeley. (The other two I needed were written by John Archibald Wheeler and James Schevill.). In it, Hoyle said that he considered me a major poet but that I have trouble blowing my own horn. I guess I’m willing to believe them.

Another hope about this blogging has been that it might improve sales of my books. As far as I can tell, it hasn’t. I think it was worthwhile to document how I and my friends created the New Reformed Orthodox Order of the Golden Dawn, but I don’t expect that to be of much interest to the current generation of Witches, many of whom seem never to have heard of Gerald Gardner. I’m also glad that some people can now read my Goddess Murder novel, which had been growing for about 40 years and incorporates serious research and audacious speculation about Christianity, Gnosticism, and Witches.

I used to think I had not written much in the way of poetry, but when it occurred to me to count, I discovered that my volume of collected poetry contains more poems than are in the Collected Poetry of W.B. Yeats, also one of my heroes. That’s because I craft poems carefully, as he did. I have friends who pour out hundreds of poems as a stream of consciousness, but I cannot do that. Of course, after 50 years of practice, I can sometimes write a poem that comes out on the first draft in quatrains with perfect scansion and rhymes, but I then know it had been percolating the Deep Mind for quite a while.

I had thought up Theodyssies and Paradoxologies as the title for such a book years ago, long before I decided to go for it. I think that title tells a lot about me. The first word is a pun on “theodicy,” the theory of divine justice, but as it is spelled, it would mean “journeys in search of the divine,” which has been a major project since 1955. The other word is what Lewis Carroll called a portmanteau. A “paradox” is a concept or an event that seems self-contradictory, implausible, yet there it is. A “doxology” is a hymn that sings of the central beliefs of a religion. A paradoxology would then be the sort of hymn an agnostic must sing in those moments when one must sing, despite not knowing who or what one is singing to. Not all of my poems depend on coined words like that, although my “History” poem certainly does. Its full title is:

“History,” or Shiny Pieces Found in the Ruens of a Mythology (A Catechlysm in Dialectical Sonata Form, Which Suite Accompanies a Miracle Play): Exploration of an Inscape by Meditation on the Tarot.

(That title is based on the White Knight’s explanation to Alice of the meaning of names.)  It is in 22 sections, of course, and is certainly one of my best achievements. Maybe I’ll include it on this blog. I’m thinking about that.

The actual difficulty with this blogging is that, since it makes no money, it has only the priority number appropriate for a hobby. As I write, my conscience bothers me that I’m not doing more (when I can find more) to earn money to support my family a little further away from the edge of the cliff. We’re in no danger, merely thoroughly inconvenienced. Christmas is a hard time of year. That’s why Twelve Step groups have marathon meetings on major holidays. That cuts back on the number of suicides.

I will continue to work on the sequel to Goddess Murder. It will be called (I think) A Different History of Mary. I’m also working on my general history of the Craft in the US and Canada up to about 1995. It will be called A Tapestry of Witches. I’m 72 and in good health. I think I have a good chance of being around long enough to finish all that and maybe more. I hope to be around to see my 10-year-old Bella, my Baby Bear, get married—if that’s what she chooses to do.

And why do I write so much about Jesus and Catholicism and all that on here? Because if Jesus was married to Mary, and she rather than Peter was his true successor, then a faith focused on a joyous married couple would make much more sense to Witches, who focus on the God and the Goddess of the Craft or on other Divine Couples, such as Shiva and Shakti. All that will need a new foundation myth. I’m working on that.


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