Where are we?

Originally posted on 9/9/2015 and utilized as this site’s front page for over a year.

When the Wizard of Monadnock was first self-declared three years ago, the original tagline for this site was “Because every mountain needs a wizard.”

…Interesting, right? Not awful, but definitely not great.

Nonetheless, I still stand by it because I believe it to be true – though on its face it doesn’t necessarily mean anything at all. Let me now take the opportunity to welcome you all with the proper clarity.

This is a place for the wild ones – for the mountain spirits and forest creatures and island beings and lake dwellers.

This is a place for the outcasts – for the ones can never find contentment at the office, even if they’ll spend most of their lives there; for the highwaymen, smugglers, and other outlaws; for those with that perennial prophetic vision that gives birth to all the world’s true pariahs; and to all those without a place or a home in today’s geography or society.

This is a place for the hopeless causes – for those making their last stand for collective survival, for any who believe in conquering a higher (some might say more sacred) existence right here and now, in this life, and, most broadly, for those of us who still grasp frantically for hope and light amidst the darkness and easy despair.

To be very clear, this is a place for anyone sick of New Age bullshit, of “Western Yoga,” of self-help platitudes, and of the self-parody that is The Law of Attraction (or whatever) – yet who still concern themselves with the condition of the Spirit.

It’s a place for the seekers and mystics, the Taoists and Chaos magicians, for those who seek the truth that lies behind all religion and esoteric wisdom and those whose spiritual awareness is inclusive of the world’s grays and willing to take all the difficult steps to the Edge.

I’ll never purport to be all things to all people, and I know damn well that the target audience I just described is a pretty slim minority. That’s totally cool with me. No sense making promises I can’t keep, and therefore I won’t promise there’s something here for you. What I’ll do instead is tell you what we already have, and what you can expect going forward. Even if only one of these key elements interests you, I want to welcome you aboard.

  • Regular Meditations covering any and all topics and scenarios and ranging from songs to poems to prayers to boxes of prose contemplation
  • A thick body of Thoughts and Sermons, essays and polemics on living a full and spirited life in today’s less-than-ideal conditions
  • Reality’s Windows, an ever-expanding collection representing our boldest, deepest, most challenging explorations of the cosmos and the nature of all existence (NO JOKE)
  • An ongoing informal and vernacular examination of all 64 hexagrams of the I Ching
  • Comedy – because we’re effed if we can’t laugh sometimes
  • Trips Elsewhere is our portfolio of myths, legends, mystical short fiction, and hidden magical spells
  • A reference guide to the seasons and High Holidays of the Solar Year that gets better every time we swing round the sun

A final note for longtime returning readers wondering where the politics went (after all, our most recent slogan was “The interwebs’ only intersection of leftist politics and eclectic spirituality”)  – to be totally frank with you, my insatiable political impulses (and the chronic episodes of burnout associated with such a thing) made it difficult for me to prioritize the competing sectors in this space. It generally led to an identity crisis for the site as a whole, perhaps even for myself as a whole, to a certain extent.

Accordingly, I decided at the beginning of summer to host all my political commentary, advocacy, and activism over at Communique New England. I’m both pleased with it and proud of what it’s been able to do so far. If that’s your bag and that’s why you’re here and you haven’t been over there yet, do it now, before you do anything else.

For the rest of you, while I won’t promise political elements won’t creep into some of our discussions of society, this balkanization ensures this space stays tight and focused.

Once again, welcome. Salaam.


This Wizard is BACK, Son!

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No more messing around.

This entire endeavor is predicated on the notion that there is more to the experience of life as a conscious being than what we can see in front of our eyes and measure with the usual array of instruments.

It is not a rational enterprise. How would I call myself a wizard if it were?

It’s been three years since I got this whole thing started. Now, take it from me – you really have no idea where you’re going to be three years from now. Even those wizards particularly skilled in foresight, the ones who claim and seem to see everything coming, discover eventually how much easier it is to predict the fate of others than to predict their own.

To date, no one has challenged me about being the Wizard of Monadnock. Nobody seems particularly bothered by it. Perhaps I’ve just been lucky, or perhaps we live in an age when “local gonzo sage” isn’t so highly regarded or in high demand.

My focus and indeed a good chunk of my mission has changed in that time. This was evolution, the kind which comes of a natural consequence of the changes I’ve personally experienced in that time. That’s true of all writers and wizards and crusaders and artists and priests and kings.

But it’s more than just that.

Bursting onto the scene with characteristic arrogance – and no small measure of brazen deceit – I declared myself the Wizard of a very sacred and very ancient mountain, and all the magical lands that lay in its shadow. I knew well then, just as I confess it now, that I was, at best, a half-cocked novice/apprentice/initiate wizard. I had no real business or credential, certificate or training to support my claim to such a lofty title. I did it anyway. Fake it ‘til you make it, amirite? Plus, I mean, the office was certainly unoccupied. To date, no one has challenged me about it. Nobody seems particularly bothered by it. Perhaps I’ve just been lucky, or perhaps we live in an age when “local gonzo sage” isn’t so highly regarded or in high demand.

I never made the mistake of believing my own claims. I set out to become what I claimed to be by doing the job.

Oh, well. I believe now as I believed then that the office of the Wizard of Monadnock is real and the office is important, and so long as nobody superior comes along to usurp or rightfully assume the mantle, I will continue to hold it with as much pride, honor, and seriousness as I can muster.

Fortunately, I never made the mistake of believing my own claims. I set out to become what I claimed to be by doing the job; by studying religions, sacred texts, and fellow mystics to divine what they have to offer; by living my life mindfully and perpetually cognizant of my environment, my nature, and my spirit; and through the process of creating and developing this site itself.

It’s working.

The good news for you, dear readers, is that I’m through feeding you lines of bullshit. I wasn’t a true Master Wizard in 2012, and I’m not one now. Frankly, nobody but a prodigy groomed from toddlerhood could ever hope to already be a master at my age. I’m in the midst of a very long path on which I expect to travel until my dying days. All things considered, I may well still be at the beginning of that path.

To spiritually retreat from the world, seeking for ourselves an internal enlightenment at the expense of external action, determination, and exercise of will, borders on the immoral. That’s a defeatist New Age crock of shit.

What’s different now is that my claims are not entirely empty. My initially half-baked intentions are paying off. I’m no longer a novice, no longer an amateur. In trade professions, those who are no longer apprentices but not yet masters are often known as “journeymen.” So, too, will I adopt this title for myself.

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So what does it actually mean?

In a lot of ways, it’s a matter of increased clarity of perspective and purpose. Significantly increased. When I began, my approach and sense of message was, to be kind, immature. I was working in a positively hellish office environment in the possession of very little political or material hope – no hope for advancement, escape, or even respite. About five years earlier, I once attempted to lead an open revolt among the cubicle-dwellers and learned very quickly the disastrous consequences. After that, my belief, for a time, came to be that external liberation was impossible, perhaps even unwise, and that hope could only lie in internal liberation. If we changed our perspective, used our imaginations, became more aware of nature and her cycles, of the true nature of our existence and experience, we could transcend the shitstorm and discover the only real freedom in existence, the freedom of the spirit.

That’s a defeatist New Age crock of shit. Turns out, that’s not my bag – at all – and it took a serious and dedicated exploration of this path for me to understand that.

To spiritually retreat from the world, seeking for ourselves an internal enlightenment at the expense of external action, determination, and exercise of will, borders on the immoral. Such an approach not only ensures that immediate conditions will not improve, not only prioritizes the solitary transcendence of the self over communal atonement, but may well aid and abet the extinction of our species, the end of the world for our brand of conscious life.

I’m not being hyperbolic about this. Without drastic and possibly violent changes in the status quo, environmental catastrophe will render this planet uninhabitable for people – pretty soon. That’s not mystical or magical or oracular. That’s just real.

That ate at me. Over time, it got me pretty down. What the hell use was any kind of spiritual advancement, even if experienced as a group, if we knew we couldn’t even pass it on because there’s no future to hand it off to? Not much! Is devoting myself to flights of fancy and empty daydream really the best use of my time as a being alive in this present aeon? Nah.

So I found myself swinging violently towards a more single-minded devotion to the political and the radical. The impulse was correct, but the construction was faulty – I swung too far in the other direction. Political immersion has the upside of being practical and the downside of exacerbating the depression and despair I struggled against to begin with. That’s the kind of shit that, without the benefit of a spiritual undercurrent, burns me out quickly. The net effect is that I’ve already abandoned the spiritual and now all I want to do is also abandon the political, abandon anything at all that requires much effort because none of it matters anymore anyway and I get tired of working for what sometimes seems to be no reason.

I had to talk myself down. Get myself to breathe. After a long while of this, the fog cleared some. The experience, like all periods of growth, was unpleasant and often painful, but upon reaching the other side it was apparent that all of it was necessary. At last, I arrive at a point where I can understand the role of the mysterious, mystical, and divine in a proper context without trying to escape or leave everyone behind, in a way that doesn’t get in the way of practical strategy and action.

It’s still more than that. The slide of misplaced certainty into doubt and defeat also served to grant me a renewed, hard-won confidence in my aims, method, and philosophy.

In order to allow these new assets to gestate and properly develop, I took the summer off and concluded it with a full review of everything I’ve produced so far. All told, I’m extraordinarily proud of the effort and output of this project…but I also read plenty that made me cringe. Boy, I’ve come a long way from where I was in some cases. I was able to identify that which I can produce most skillfully and imbue with the greatest amount of objective value. Now that I know that, I can focus in those areas and maximize the impact.

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More specifically, I was able to identify some key concepts that can be said to comprise my deal, or my shit, or my hot take – however you want to phrase it. Looking over the sum total of these humble insights, I could see that my prior attempts to illustrate and demonstrate these esoteric concepts were unclear and incomplete. I had never really done anything to help readers connect the dots. It’s important that I do so, and doing so requires a lot of rewriting and revision – a task I’m happy to report I’m almost finished with.

To keep up with the latest releases, check in on Reality’s Windows on the reg. Some of it is already there, and the rest I will be releasing over the next couple of months, generally at weekly intervals – this way we can kind of go through a sort of Recap Journey together.

Previously, on the last 3 years of the Wizard of Monadnock, Jay Monaco began by stating time was like a record album

When that’s done, we’re looking at a really solid spiritual and philosophical foundation on which to continue to advance and develop our spiritual structure. If we do it right, we’ll eventually have ourselves a fortress.

This construction, right here, is the mission of the journeyman wizard. I will not promise you any kind of eastern enlightenment or western salvation. I no longer claim to have figured out how to make your workday better. Good fucking luck with that. But by persistently, defiantly examining reality using all the tools available to us, we might well develop the kind of structure that enables us greater real freedom – that’s external and material freedom in addition to internal and spiritual. Just maybe we can make it possible for us to experience our individual lives more fully and our collective journey with more actual, supported meaning.

We’ll see.

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