LAKEWOOD, Colo. — In 2007, when Melanie Marquis was a solitary Pagan “who didn’t really know anybody else,” she started writing for the Pagan group. She determined to contact this Carl Llewellyn Weschcke man for feedback for an article, so she wrote to Llewellyn, the corporate that Weschcke had purchased and reworked from a small writer of astrology titles right into a metaphysical/New Age/occult publishing juggernaut.
“I didn’t know him at all at the time,” Marquis stated by telephone from her house in Lakewood close to Denver. “I contacted Llewellyn and they told me ‘You know of course he really doesn’t do interviews and things like that anymore. You’re kind of out of luck.’ But I kept internet sleuthing and found a blog post that Carl himself had written, inviting readers to contact him to initiate dialogue about what books they would like to see.”
She emailed him for his ideas on why it was necessary for Pagans to be open.
“He wrote me back and somehow or other we started a dialogue and we corresponded for years and years after that about all sorts of things,” Marquis stated.
So it was that Marquis went from being a solitary Pagan to having a relationship with one of the influential metaphysical/Pagan/New Age/occultist personalities of recent occasions. That relationship made her a pure selection to put in writing the brand new biography Carl Llewellyn Weschcke: Pioneer & Writer of Physique, Thoughts & Spirit – revealed, in fact, by Llewellyn.
“I didn’t really realize who he was at the time,” Marquis stated of her early correspondence with Weschcke. “I guess that’s why I wasn’t shy. I was like, ‘Well he’s inviting people to write to him so I’m gonna write to him.’ I never got to meet him in person, oddly and sadly, but we developed a pretty good friendship just through correspondence. I guess you could say we were pen pals.”
Llewellyn Publications would go on to publish such Marquis books as A Witch’s World of Magick: Increasing Your Apply with Methods & Traditions from Numerous Cultures and The Witch’s Bag of Tips: Personalize Your Magick & Kickstart Your Craft, in addition to her Trendy Spellcaster’s Tarot deck.
However, Marquis stated, “I didn’t realize how much Carl did until I wrote this biography. The more I researched him, the more I was blown away by how he played such a deep role behind the scenes in many ways. He was the orchestrator of so much in Paganism and New Age and all these metaphysical avenues that people can now explore. I was just totally blown away by the larger role he played in making that information available to people, and giving people the platform and spaces to do that.”
Within the introduction to her biography, Marquis writes that within the early 1960s “the occult was very much occult, or hidden. At worst, it was demonized or sensationalized in magazines and on TV, and at best it was hidden away in the darkest shadows, something that wasn’t typically mentioned unless you wanted to become the topic of the next Sunday sermon . . . .”
The obtainable occult books “were often impractical, focusing mostly on abstract spiritual concepts and theories rather than hands-on, user-friendly applications.” Writers on esoteric issues sought to “keep any significantly valuable mystical insights or genuine practices well hidden amidst a sea of overall nonsense, contradiction, and ambiguity, carefully constructed to confuse and frustrate all but the most adept of seekers.”
“Weschcke,” Marquis writes, “was a different sort of occultist: he felt that anyone with an interest should be invited to the party. He was very passionate in his belief that magick and occult knowledge should be brought into the light, made widely available and accessible to all who wanted it.”
Her biography is “about more than Carl Llewellyn Weschcke . . . . It is impossible to tell his story and the story of the modern rebirth and expansion of interest in occult sciences, witchcraft, Paganism, and the New Age without the stories being intrinsically intertwined.”
Marquis’ exhaustively researched biography (which incorporates virtually 400 footnotes and an in depth bibliography) chronicles Weschcke’s childhood together with his Spiritualist grandfather, his in depth work for the civil rights motion as president of the St. Paul, Minn., NAACP, his personal magickal work as a Wiccan excessive priest and astrologer, his household life with spouse Sandra and son Gabe, the expansion of Llewellyn Publications, and extra.
Together with dozens of private pictures, the ebook consists of remembrances or reflections by Raymond Buckland, Selina Fox, Anodea Judith, Silver RavenWolf, Michael Night time Sky, and different Pagans, plus quite a few reflections and segments of writings by Weschcke himself – together with, for instance, his rebuttal to accusations that Llewellyn revealed “too many books for beginners, the so-called ‘fluffy bunnies.’ ”
After Weschcke handed away in November 2015, the biography took root in early 2016 at PantheaCon, the annual indoor Pagan pageant in San Jose, Calif., the place a remembrance was held with quite a few attendees from Llewellyn Publications. The guide started as a joint undertaking between Marquis and Night time Sky, a Pagan author who had interviewed Weschcke for Witches & Pagans journal, and who had queried Weschcke for years, requesting to write down the writer’s biography.
“Carl wasn’t sure about it,” Marquis stated. “In fact, he had come to me in confidence and asked me my opinion: ‘Should I let this person write a biography about me?’ Honestly, I had a weird feeling about it. I told him that I just didn’t think it was time: ‘You’re not done yet with what you’re doing now.’ Basically he agreed.”
However Weschcke did start giving Night time Sky “information to keep in his files,” Marquis stated. “But he didn’t really want anything like that to come out until at least three years after he had passed. He didn’t think the time was right to do it just yet. So that was that.”
Early within the challenge, Marquis and Night time Sky mutually and amiably agreed that she ought to write the biography alone, however Night time Sky, who likewise had been a frequent correspondent with Weschcke, “did provide a good amount of material that made it into the book,” Marquis stated. That included Weschcke’s reflections on his “karmic brother” Raymond Buckland, a phase of the Witches & Pagans interview that didn’t make it into the journal.
Marquis’ analysis took her to newspaper archives, the Minnesota Historic Society and the Llewellyn workplaces. Together with her biographer’s eye and her personal Pagan apply, she knew that what might sound trivial at first look might be fairly revelatory, as when she found a shifting sale discover within the native newspaper archive. The discover listed “the vast array of interesting items Carl had procured over the years as a bachelor living in the old haunted mansion,” together with “a chastity belt!”
After listening to that Weschcke was closely concerned with the NAACP, the path led Marquis to the historic society archives, the place she found “pieces that Carl had written and presented.”
Weschcke’s spouse Sandra and son Gabe “welcomed me to the Llewellyn offices where they had gathered boxes upon boxes of Carl’s own personal files and things he had kept over the years: many of the speeches he did for the civil rights movement, all kinds of newspaper articles that he had clipped, stuff he had saved going back to the ’50s,” Marquis stated.
“He kept excellent files. Everything in there was alike a piece of magical history. It wasn’t like he was a pack rat. I honestly didn’t find a single thing that was worthless. He had 15 or 20 boxes worth of this extremely interesting stuff dealing with Llewellyn, his own life, his civil rights work and different authors of magical acclaim.”
The biography’s web page on llewellyn.com features a quote by famend author and historian Ronald Hutton, writer of The Triumph of the Moon: A Historical past of Trendy Pagan Witchcraft: “With this book, another major piece goes into place in the jigsaw of the history of modern American Paganism and witchcraft.”
Did Marquis really feel the burden of historical past as she wrote the Weschcke biography, provided that the e-book probably can be THE doc of an important time and character within the trendy occult/metaphysical/Pagan period?
“I did,” Marquis stated. “Once I began researching it, I assumed ‘Oh, I’m writing a biography about Carl Weschcke, oh he’s so fascinating. I’m positive I’ll discover out a lot.’ However as I obtained into it, each little bit of his historical past tied into the historical past of the bigger motion of magick and Paganism. I noticed that I wasn’t simply writing about Carl – I used to be writing the historical past of the way it developed in America.
“I began to really feel this bizarre weight like I needed to get this info out. Additionally, together with his civil rights work, I used to be capable of doc a lot stuff concerning the civil rights motion within the Twin Cities space particularly from 1954 to the mid to late ’60s. By means of Carl’s paperwork I used to be capable of inform that story too.
“So I did really feel like I’m getting this necessary stuff out right here and it must be out right here. I began having bizarre visions of paranoia like, ‘Oh what if I get ran over? I need to tell someone my password to my Google docs so they’ll be capable of find these information.’ I felt this monumental, monumental strain – ‘I’ve obtained to get these things to my editor.’
“I feel a great relief that it’s in book form now. It was an amazing experience that I will never forget. It was definitely all-consuming for literally two years of my life. I feel like I’m just now re-emerging and re-entering my life again. But I’m grateful that I was able to do it.”