Passing the Torch #DnD

Posted in Dice Upon A Time, Liber et Auda with tags on June 30, 2015 by cairnwood

ohdndcDungeons & Dragons has been, quite frankly, a huge part of my life. I started playing in 1978 when I was twelve years old. Some of my oldest friends took up the game as well and it wasn’t long before we became close friends with a slew of other like-minded people.

The first person I got to share my passion for gaming with was Brent Smith. We’d been pals since kindergarten. We played ball together, traded books and comics and bubblegum cards, watched the same tv shows… it was only natural that we’d fall into Dungeons & Dragons together.

This past weekend, Brent’s son Kasey took his father’s place at our gaming table. He sat next to my own son, Connor, and I couldn’t have been more proud. Kasey, 12, and Connor, 11, are becoming fast friends. Seeing them sitting there on the other side of my DM screen I couldn’t help but flash back on Brent’s and my younger selves.

The torch was passed.

After our session with the boys ended, and we old men were left to sling dice late into the evening (as we’ve been doing for nearly forty years), Shaun Keenan shared a story that sort of cemented our youthful dedication to the game.

He recalled a time in high school when school had been cancelled due to snow. Brent drove his snowmobile from Converse to Sweetser (8 miles) to pick him up and ride to Swayzee (12 miles) to Chris and Mark Kaiser’s house to play D&D. Brent must have been 13 or so, Shaun 15.

Brent had insisted Shaun wear a helmet… something that came in handy when Shaun fell off the back end and cracked his head against the ice covered highway. But they soldiered on and slung dice in the Kaisers kerosene-infused home, the destination being almost as dangerous as the journey itself.

That’s dedication.

And now, here we are, decades later and we’re passing the torch to our children and honoring the memories of those no longer with us.

We caught a lot of flack back in the day from the religious right, folks who labeled us devil worshipers and worse because of a fantasy game we played. I am happy that my son and Brent’s won’t have to suffer through the same. But even more so, I’m honored that the friends Brent and I grew up with and slung dice with now get to do the same with these young men. And even better, I’d like to think that some day, they’ll pass the torch on to their own children and the Oak Hill Dungeons & Dragons Club will live on…

True Detective Season 2 Unmasked

Posted in Media Macabre, Occult Detectives on June 29, 2015 by cairnwood


So who killed Caspere the friendly ghost? I’m going to post a picture that is either a red herring or a freaking neon sign arrow pointing right to the killer. Have a look, then we’ll talk.


Foreshadowing Velcoro’s date with Ravenhead we see the not-really-dead-but-we-want-you-to-think-he-is Detective in conversation with Dr. Piltor, Caspere’s shrink, who appears to be in desperate need of one himself, while a raven overlooks the proceedings.

Pitlor, played eerily by an unrecognizable Rick Springfield, is almost as creepy as this:


I have very little doubt that the good doctor is up to his Jim Jones shades in this one.

We’re going to find out there’s some kind of funky, occult-themed, mask-wearing, sex club thing going on with Pitlor in the middle of it. His shrink house doesn’t just change heads, they change faces too.

It’s all about masks.

Everyone on this show is wearing one, except Velcoro… there’s the mobster trying to go legit, the CHP trying to play straight, etc… Everyone’s hiding who they really are…

I’ve got more to say on all this, but not enough time to say it, but trust me… Masks. It’s all about the masks.

Supernatural Stories In Need of a Good Home

Posted in Gothic Horror, Occult Detectives with tags on June 26, 2015 by cairnwood


So, I’m shopping this around to agents and publishers. Hoping to find it a good home…

93 Skidoo

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error with tags , on June 25, 2015 by cairnwood


I devoured all the Lovecraft I could get my hands on before I reached junior high. I was one of those odd kids that always had a book on hand. To be honest, it was usually Robert E. Howard that had my attention, but Lovecraft certainly was a close second. I generally kept a paperback book shoved into my back pocket, just in case. Don’t believe me? I could show you my ragged and tattered copies of Conan the Freebooter and The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath as proof.

Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. The real subject of today’s blog entry has to do with an odd sort of synchronicity.

I had, for some peculiar reason, Lovecraft on my mind this morning. Not his fiction, mind you, but the man himself, and so was perusing a collection of photographs when one in particular caught my eye.


Taken on the shore in Magnolia, Massachusetts, on June 25th, 1922, a few stray thoughts crossed my mind and these in turn led me to one of those surrealistic synchronicities that makes one wonder about the underlying connections between the world we see, openly, and the one hidden from us, that greases the wheels of madness.

Seeing Lovecraft strike this pose on the Magnolia cliff led me, first, to think on Aleister Crowley, who was something of a mountaineer and climber. Then I noticed the date — June 25th. Funny, that, being today’s date as well. But that year, 1922, was scratching at my brain. Something about the year was striking my as strange. June 25th, 1922. June 25th, 2015. Then it dawned on me… 93 years.

So, my lizard brain, seeing this picture of Howard Phillips Lovecraft, led me to associate it with one Aleister Crowley, a picture separated to the day, from then to now, by 93 years.

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law? Weird coincidence or someone trying to tell me something? You decide.

It’s a Kind of Magic

Posted in Liber et Auda on June 23, 2015 by cairnwood

Quick one, then back to work.

Yesterday, in a book review, I mentioned Brent and me turning wands on a lathe up at the Woodcarvers Building. That really was a great time, and recalling that memory led me to thinking of a couple of prized possessions that came to me from him.

One was a willow shaft Brent had cut. About a foot and three-quarters or so. He sanded the hell out of it too. Dropped it by my house one night and said, “Here, this’ll make a beautiful wand.” So, we made plans to hit the lathe again in the near future. We never did. So I’ve still got that willow shaft waiting to become a wand and now I don’t know if I should work the wood or keep it as he gave it to me?

That’s not the only thing he’s given me that has inspired that line of thinking.

Right after Brent remodeled our house, I gave him a gift. It was one of my prized possessions — a cold steel tanto with a 12 inch blade and an almost 6 inch kray-ex handle. As my kid would say, that knife was a boss. Anyway, I gave it to him out of appreciation for the great work he did on our house and I knew he loved it. He was with me when I bought it back in 1987.

Anyway, the thing is, he appreciated my giving him the tanto so much that he gave me a gift in return. Never mind that my gift was because he had given my wife and I a beautiful home. So, he pulls up a couple of days later and says, “I’ve got you something,” and out of his van he pulls this badass shaft of wood, a little over 6 feet of awesome walking staff.

He said he’d been working it for awhile, and it wasn’t quite done yet, but he wanted me to have it. He promised we’d sit out by the fire over several nights and finish her up.

We never did.

There are other things, like the hand-carved bokken he made for me, or the hockey stick that had come from his Grandpa Dick’s Store, or the empty tanto sheath… all he had left after his misadventure in Florida.

They’re all just things, but they’re infused with his sweat and blood… with his spirit.

We used to believe objects could be ingrained with mystical energies. If that’s true, then I’ve a den full of such items, each one imbued with a kind of magic that will linger until our last memories fade and we are cast adrift on a sea of fond remembrances.


My review of The Witch’s Guide to Wands by Gypsey Elaine Teague

Posted in Magick by Trial & Error with tags , on June 22, 2015 by cairnwood


I’ve had a lifelong fascination with wands, staves, and walking sticks. Having grown up in the midst of a small ash woods and a short walk to an even large woodland, I never lacked for any of that hallowed trinity.

While the majority of the wands that I’ve been attached to have been of the “found” variety, I’ve also turned a few, on the Eastern Woodland Carvers Club lathe, with some valuable assistance from my father and the late Chuck Leming.

I’ve fond memories of those turnings, a few winters back now, when Brent and I were crafting Ollivander-styled wands as Christmas presents for our kids.

We took it quite serious, and I’m happy to say, that same sort of seriousness is found in Gypsey Elaine Teague’s new book,  The Witch’s Guide to Wands: A Complete Botanical, Magical, and Elemental Guide to Making, Choosing, and Using the Right Wand.

If, like me, you have any sort of interest in wands and the crafting of them, I believe you’ll be delighted by this book. One of the things I’ve always appreciated about Teague’s writings is her whimsy and embrace of pop culture.

Look, no book on wands would be complete without addressing Jo Rowling’s magical universe, and Teague does so with style.

More importantly, however, The Witch’s Guide to Wands is a pretty inclusive text and of particular interest is the section on Organic Wands which is authoritative and insightful. With personal anecdotes strung throughout, the narrative is elevated from a dry, scholarly work to a more intimate examination of the materials and the mindset behind them.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t add that Weiser Books’ design team did a fantastic job on this one, as well. Good, bright paper stock goes a long way with me, but the font choices and graphic design really sold the book, especially the illustrations which elevated the work tremendously.

I really enjoyed the time I spent with The Witch’s Guide to Wands and expect I will revisit it often as an invaluable resource. As such, I cannot recommend it highly enough.

The Witch’s Guide to Wands: A Complete Botanical, Magical, and Elemental Guide to Making, Choosing, and Using the Right Wand by Gypsey Elaine Teague is available wherever books are sold. You can order directly from the publisher by clicking, well, HERE ;)

Happy Father’s Day!

Posted in Liber et Auda on June 21, 2015 by cairnwood

Yeah, so, this morning I woke up to this —

dadsdayI’m one lucky Dad, that’s for sure.

To all you padres out there, especially my own, Happy Father’s Day. And to our All-Father, who art in Asgard, thanks for staving off Ragnarok for another go around ;)


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