Remembering Gary Gygax

Posted in Dice Upon A Time on March 4, 2015 by cairnwood


“You are not entering this world in the usual manner, for you are setting forth to be a Dungeon Master. Certainly there are stout fighters, mighty magic-users, wily thieves, and courageous clerics who will make their mark in the magical lands of D&D adventure. You however, are above even the greatest of these, for as DM you are to become the Shaper of the Cosmos. It is you who will give form and content to the all the universe. You will breathe life into the stillness, giving meaning and purpose to all the actions which are to follow.”  — Gary Gygax

E. Gary Gygax died seven years ago today. He was 69. I discovered the game he helped create in 1978 and it’s been an important part of my life, and the lives of some of my closest friends, ever since. Dungeons and Dragons, and its imitators, has evolved quite a bit from its earliest imaginings, but at its heart, it is the same. It is about co-operative storytelling and camaraderie. Especially camaraderie.

Rest in Peace, Dungeon Master. You are gone, good sir, but your legacy remains, and we thank you for it.

Foretold by a Wizard

Posted in Liber et Auda, Media Macabre, Sword & Sorcery on March 3, 2015 by cairnwood

We’re almost a month shy of the 34th anniversary of the US release of John Boorman’s Excalibur and, oddly enough, I dreamt of this movie last night. It’s one of my favorites. Yes, I know there’s a lot wrong with it (not the least of which being its misogynistic narrative), but there are some truly great performances throughout, including Patrick Stewart, Gabriel Byrne, Liam Neeson, and the always brilliant Helen Mirren (as Morganna) and Nicol Williamson as the definitive Merlin.


Boorman’s Excalibur was a spectacle of epic proportions and in all facets — sets, costumes, music, weaponry, armour — all of it was writ larger than life, the stuff of legends.

And, by the gods, it was everything I could have hoped for in a movie in 1981.

I guess one of the reasons the movie has been on my mind of late, hence last nights dream, is that it was one of Brent’s favorites too. He passed away five weeks ago today, and I regret not watching this one with him again.

This was a special film for us on several levels. See, in ’81, not only were we not of driving age yet, but, with the movie being Rated R, we needed adult supervision to get in to see it, and luckily for us, my dad was amicable. So, my pops, Brent, me, and our pal, Barry Bowyer set out for, I think, the Raintree Plaza (don’t hold me to that).

Barry had been 15 for several months, I had just turned, and Brent was a month shy. I’ll never forget the look on my dad’s face when Uther raped Igrayne in full plate armour. For teen age boys, this was some heady stuff, let me tell you.

But for all the sex and violence of the picture, there was some deeply moving spiritual moments as well, some things of such sublime beauty that one could not help but be captivated and intoxicated by the sheer majesty of it all.

Brent and I probably watched that film together more than a dozen times, first on the big screen on opening weekend and then through vhs, laser discs, and dvds.

Watching it now will never be quite the same, but I think I need to give it a run, for old times sake.


Magical Dis-Orders and (un)Natural Disasters

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error on March 2, 2015 by cairnwood


“Pondering: is “Magical Order” an oxymoron?” — @LilithsPriest

“Ha! Yes — “Chaos Magic” was young yet when people started Chaos Magical Orders. Shoulda had Strange Attractors instead.” — @OutlawBunny

“Magical Odor, more like :)” — @OccultDetective

Though I certainly knew of their existence, and dabbled in similar waters tentatively, it was late winter, perhaps mid-February of ’86, before I met my first “chaos magician“. A likeable chap, he frequented a New Age bookstore I was making drinking money in by performing Tarot readings and general cartomancy for the curious college crowd (generally with far deeper pockets than the cats I rubbed shoulders with). As I recall, he claimed to worship Isis. Not the Egyptian Goddess, as such, but the Mighty one from the ’70s children’s program (played by JoAnna Cameron).

Tim, who we of course called The Enchanter (“There are some who call me… Tim.”), was heavy into Discordianism, the Church of the Sub-Genius, and was a devotee of Peter Carroll (not to be confused with the coach of the Seattle Seahawks, though “none shall pass” except for him strikes me as funny all of the sudden).

Anyway… I was living off-campus with a pot-dealing dwarf and my best friend, the late-great Brent Smith. The dwarf worshiped money and working out, oddly enough, while Brent was, you might say, a Gnostic Christian. His interests lay mostly in the Kabbalah, some Golden Dawn Hermeticism, and all-around white-witchery.

I was a bit more gray than all that, especially back then. Though I was certainly knee deep in all the Golden Dawn crowd, especially Dion Fortune, my particular brand of soda was the Thelemic triumvirate of Crowley, Spare, and Grant, though heavily flavored by Robert Anton Wilson, Timothy Leary, and Terence McKenna (who I discovered through a professor in the Anthropology Department). I will readily admit, however, to a weakness for Alex and Maxine Sanders’ brew at the time, but, in my defense, I was enamored with more than a few of the ladies who made up the local coven. It was 1986. I was just escaping my teen years. I believe some semblance of understanding and forgiveness should be imparted by my faithful readers for my youthful dalliances.

But there I go again, off topic and disorganized, which perfectly sums up my point, I suppose (if there even is one, I’m not quite sure anymore).

Tim the Enchanter and a few other well-meaning cats used to swing by Brent’s and my place and we’d have a few laughs (wink wink, nudge nudge) and engage in rational discourse about all things magic… hahahahahahahaha… Of course we didn’t. We argued. A lot. Over every little thing. Not the least of which was The Enchanter’s desire to form a Magical Order.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I, admittedly, have dipped my toes in more than a few. But chaos magicians (of which I suppose I am more than I am not) gathered is akin to the herding of cats.

I mean, it’s sort of in the name. Chaos. Which is what I tried to explain to Tim the Enchanter, though he disagreed and left in a huff one night (and still owes me thirty bucks).

Which I guess is a round-about way of saying, “friends don’t let friends join magical orders”.



Posted in Liber et Auda on March 1, 2015 by cairnwood


Another year older. Another year wiser?

If you told me when I was 15 (the age I was when I bought Warlord #49 off the spinner-rack back in’81) that in 2015 I’d be happily married with an 11 year old chip off the old block… and a published author to boot, I’d have taken it in stride. I am, minus a couple of million bucks in the bank, living my dream life.

Not that I haven’t had my share of tough times and heartbreaks. But where it matters most, spiritually, I am content.

I’m still reaching for more, but what I’ve had and have is more than I could’ve hoped for. I am surrounded by people who love me and I love them in return. Anything more is just icing on my birthday cake.

So raise your horns, brothers and sisters — here’s to me celebrating my forty-ninth revolution and lesser feast.

“Là breith sona dom! — Almien! Avo ‘osto! Merin sa haryalyae alasse!

Cloudy with a Chance of Dragons #GoT5

Posted in Media Macabre, Sword & Sorcery with tags on February 28, 2015 by cairnwood


’nuff said

Lived Long & Prospered

Posted in Liber et Auda, Media Macabre on February 27, 2015 by cairnwood


“We are assembled here today to pay final respects to our honored dead. And yet it should be noted that in the midst of our sorrow, this death takes place in the shadow of new life, the sunrise of a new world; a world that our beloved comrade gave his life to protect and nourish. He did not feel this sacrifice a vain or empty one, and we will not debate his profound wisdom at these proceedings. Of my friend, I can only say this: of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most… human.” — James Tiberius Kirk, The Wrath of Khan

Godspeed, Leonard Nimoy.

Save the Date: Mo*Con X

Posted in Writing in Theory & Practice on February 26, 2015 by cairnwood


Is this really the tenth year of Mo*Con?


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