Isaac’s influence – a query

My name is William Seligman. I’m working on a biography of Isaac Bonewits and I could use your help.

I’ve often read that Isaac was an important influence on the Neopagan, Druid, and Wiccan communities. I agree with that statement, but exactly how did he affect them?

In pursuit of that answer, I ask those who were influenced by Isaac to send me their stories. I’m looking for statements that begin with something like:

"I read something by Isaac and…"

"I listened to one of Isaac’s lectures…"

"I was in a ritual with Isaac…"

"I was at a festival and listened to one of Isaac’s songs…"

"I saw an appearance by Isaac…"

From there, what did you learn, or change, or do, as a result of what Isaac did?

A couple of caveats: I’m interested in primary sources, where possible; if you’d start out with, "My friend Pat read ‘Real Magic’ and…" then please ask Pat to write me directly. I know Isaac had a broader influence as, for example, the Arch-Druid of ADF; I’ll contact the relevant people in due course. Right now, I’m looking for comments from individuals.

I’m also in the market for "wild Isaac stories" if you have any!

Please send responses to [bonewits.research] of [] (and I apologize for the anti-spam obfuscation). Feel free to send them anonymously, though I’d prefer it if you include an munged e-mail address (like I just did) so I can follow up if needed. This minimizes the risk of having spambots obtaining our e-mail addresses.

My background: I am a physicist at Columbia University’s Nevis Labs, and a Gardnerian Witch. Isaac was one of my first teachers in the Craft. I am mentioned in Isaac’s books "Real Energy" and "The Pagan Man". I am in contact with Phaedra Bonewits, Deborah Lipp, and Sally Eaton, and have their approval for this research.

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17 thoughts on “Isaac’s influence – a query

  1. With my blessing …

    Just in case you’re wondering, Bill has my full blessing for this project. I’ve been sharing Isaac’s archives with him.

    Blessings bright and dark,
    Phaedra Bonewits

  2. My encounter with Isaac

    Isaac and Ian Corrigan attended WicCanFest in the early ’90s to speak about modern paganism and ADF. I went specifically to hear them knowing from my reading that they were major luminaries. Both were lucid and refreshingly focused whenever they spoke. By contrast, other presenters peppered their offerings with obscure jargon and mystery. I was convinced on the spot that their vision was unique and worth exploration. I have been an ADF solitary adherent/member ever since and am now pursuing the training starting on the Dedicant path. It really just adds some formality to years of independent study and contemplation, but I have remained constantly reminded of those first inspiring encounters with Isaac and Ian.

  3. Real Magic

    Reading Isaac’s thesis/Real Magic helped me to truly let go of the idea of “black” or “white” magic, and to look at the practice as in and of itself a morally neutral tool. In the long run, I think this knowledge has actually made me a more aware, ethical practitioner.

  4. isaac bonewits

    atho we never formaly met , i did get to say hello in passing at a talk at a sorta pagan festival this past year , probly one of his last appearances .the wicked winter fest in north new jersey. i was greatly influenced by his writings and the organisation he founded and lead in it’s early years . i can literaly say ADF changed my life. over my journey in the pagan ways as my path has changed and morphed along the way druidry is now my home.i am now an ADF grove member ,cederlght grove in balt. MD and a warrior giuld member in ADF. i started out on this path as a celtic pagan , then a celtic pagan warrior ,and finally a druid warrior a progression of over twenty yrs , isacc’s writing, i own most of his books , have influenced me along the way and now i belong to ADF the druid organisation he founded. the one thing i truely like about ADF is the influence of actual history in the teachings, real academic studies are used , not unprovable myths . the king arthur tales are widely used in many druid groups altho wonderful stories there is no historic proof of arthurs existance.the teachings of ADF are based on actual scholarly work and indo-european history.this means alot to me as a celt[scot] living in the american dispora. Dennis Nock AKA

  5. Isaac Bonewits

    I read a couple of his books and various blogs/articles (one of his most memorable was his take on Satanism and the cult awareness articles). I never met the man, but I think he brought a much-needed voice of reason and level-headedness to pagan literature and thought. He held a very practical, unromanticized view of what we’re all about, and he wasn’t afraid to cast a critical eye on a subculture which has often been insular and tended to circle the wagons against criticism of any sort.

  6. Episode 18 of “Standing Stone and Garden Gate” podcast may be of interest to you. The episode is a recording of his second-last public lecture. By way of introduction, I also offer a description of his influence on my life, and the very decisive role he played in my career as a writer. Frankly, I would almost certainly never have been published but for him.

    Here’s the link:

    Episode 3 of the same podcast includes a panel talk that Isaac participated in, recorded the same day:

    Brendan Myers

  7. i know i am super late with this comment, but the pallisades even opens early (thestores closed) for people who want to use it as a “track” . at least it used to

  8. Wow. You are employing tremendous patience, wisdom and intelligence in managing this challenge. I admire you greatly.

  9. Ritual

    Barbara Giacalone
    I always disagreed with him regarding placing the climax of the ritual in the middle, building and deconstructing the ritual took almost equal time. I think he understood where i was coming from when i asked him where the climax appeared in a book, movie or even sex, and i think he “got” it after that

  10. HAH! I usually do Surrender, but this time I was inexplicably drawn to Affection!!!

    And for some reason, I never saw this answer…We can SO hang out!

  11. my sympathies, having gone through similar. as far as air fare- always ask for bereavement fare from airlines and check places like kayak and airfarewatchdog. Sometimes being there just helps. also encourage your mom to do grief groups if she is up to it- it helps.

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