There was something I’d expected to find in Isaac‘s papers.
After all, he saved or made copies of every scrap of correspondence he ever had. Going through his files was like walking through the biggest names in the pagan community for the past forty years: Gavin and Yvonne Frost, Aidan Kelly, Selena Fox, Carl Weschcke, Robert Anton Wilson, Tim Zell, Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, Sybil Leek.
Apart from those names, there are at least twice as many whose correspondence Isaac had saved, but who are not as recognizable to the general pagan community. Or at least I didn’t know their names, which may not mean much.
There was one letter I’d been expecting. Had Isaac saved it? Or had he discarded it, as he might have tossed away an unimportant letter that was no longer relevant?
Today, I found it. It was in a box labeled "Authentic Thaumaturgy" (AT). Among many other letters, copies of reviews, and contracts, I found the letter I wrote to Isaac in July 1978, in response to a letter he’d written to me.
I read Real Magic in 1973, I think. By 1978, I was an avid gamer. I had the idea of combining the concepts in Real Magic to role-playing games, and published an article on the subject in the now-defunct gaming magazine, The Dungeoneer. I’d written the article a month after AT was published, but a month before I saw AT in a gaming shop.
I read AT, and recognized that the auther of Real Magic had done a much better job than I had in adapting his ideas to the gaming world. My main hope was that my Dungeoneer article would "fall below the radar" and that Isaac Bonewits would never see it.
In my own words from my letter to him:
Upon receiving your letter, I was filled with trepidation about opening it. Would it contain a curse or a lawsuit? To my pleasant surprise, it contained neither — it was actually a note of constructive criticism with no malice born towards me for borrowing your system in any way…"
He had sent me a review copy of AT, in case I had not seen it. When Chaosium published a second edition, he was even kind enough to use one of my ideas and give me credit for it.
In 1978, I was 18 and Isaac was 28. I am now roughly twice as old as he was then. Ahead of me that year was flunking out of college and two suicide attempts. I’m still learning what was ahead for Isaac.
Where does the time go? Where do the people go? At least we have good times and good people along the way.