Most Popular Posts

This blog is nine years old on the WordPress platform.  Truthfully, it was about 10 days ago… somehow I missed the blogoversary when it passed by.  I can’t do the 10 most popular posts of all time, alas. But here’s the five most popular posts from those years (with the caveat that none of them from the list are repeated… it’s often the case that the most popular post from one year is also a popular post the following year).  If you’ve been meaning to dip into the archives, here’s some places to get started, below the fold:

2018

  1. Learning to Draw the Tree of Life: the actual set of geometric techniques for learning to draw the tree of life diagram.
  2. The Headless One — the date of the Headless One’s solar execution is coming up; as I recall it’s around June 7 this year, when the Sun rolls off the shoulders of (invisible) Orion…
  3. The Memory Palace — I used to teach basic artificial memory techniques to middle schoolers. If you’re looking for a way to get started as an adult, this is a place to begin.
  4. Geomancy: a technique for the shield: This is how to go about calculating the Magus character, for talismanic work when you’re looking to boost your divination chart’s result.
  5. Sun and Moon Sonnets: When I lived in northeastern Connecticut, I wrote a three-year-long sequence of sonnets for the Sun and Moon’s progression around the year, and the changes I observed in the landscape. This is the result of that effort.  Some of the poetry is now available from Amazon.com in eBook form.

2017

  1. The Google Calendar of Pagan Days — the Google calendar is now broken, but there’s an alternative now. I’d be curious to hear from someone about whether the new one works.
  2. Learning Geomancy — a collection of resources and techniques on Geomancy that I’ve assembled.
  3. The Horse May Learn To Talk — my own retelling of a Sufi folk tale.
  4. Tattwa Card Printout — Tattwa Cards are an occult mind-training technique for focus and meditation used in some Golden Dawn style orders; they’re probably a holdover from some form of Theosophy… but you never know.
  5. Magic: A Winning Lottery Ticket — how I used magic to win a lottery… and some unexpected lessons along the way.

2016

  1.  A book review of the Anarchist’s Design Book — I’m an admirer of the writing of Christopher Schwarz, and this is a review of one of his books.
  2. Make Summer Camp: Hungarian Map Fold Book — One of my favorite hand-made book designs.  I really like this one, and I should make some more of these this summer.
  3. 31DoM: Make an Elemental Servitor — The tag, 31DoM, was a magical blog project about doing magic for 31 days at the start of the year. This post, for some reason, has been particularly popular.  I don’t know why, but maybe because it contains a sample of my attempt at a cartoon, Dabbling.
  4. Book Review: StarShips — For some reason, this has been one of the more popular posts on my blog, a review of Gordon White’s book, Star.Ships.  Gordon is the author of the chaos magic blog, Rune Soup. I was reading Star.Ships the week that I left teaching, and it was one of those books that leaves you wondering how much of what you’ve done in your life was totally wrong.
  5. Neo-Orphic Hymns — In April 2013, I posted the Neo-Orphic Hymns, a collection of poetry for the seven planets.  It’s supplemented by material in Festae, one of my eBooks on Amazon.

2015

  1. Design Lab: Finished Workbench — Someone once told me it would take $50,000 to build a MakerSpace.  I did it for around $5,000, by learning the carpentry necessary to build the first workbenches, sawhorses, and tool racks myself. A MakerSpace that’s all fancy cabinetry and high-tech lighting is nice (if you’ve got the money to build and maintain it), but the truth is you can start anywhere, with anything, and build up/out from that.
  2. Paper Engineering — For a while, I was running a school MakerSpace.  I’m not sure I’d go back to that work, though I do miss it.  One of my long-range key insights was that if you have a large supply of paper, you really have a lot of what you need to teach Maker methodologies, particularly drawing and thinking in three dimensions.  There’s not much that you can’t do with paper that doesn’t apply to other kinds of Maker learning.
  3. Today I learned to Lucet — a lucet is a fork-shaped implement used in weaving to make strong braided cords.  It’s a pretty basic tool for teaching one of my key insights about MakerSpaces and Maker education, which is teaching people that tools make tools make things.
  4.  Seventeen Things: toward a Maker Curriculum — part of my business life these days is coaching schools and libraries on how to start MakerSpaces. But most schools and libraries don’t have Maker-teachers.  Here’s a set of seventeen things you can do in the next year to become better at being a Maker-teacher. (Or you can hire me).
  5. Neglect Not the Robe —  a lot of modern magicians insist that you don’t really need to wear a robe to do magic.  In this essay, I try to explain why that’s not actually the case — that the robe (or the ceremonial garments, whatever your tradition) should be more than just t-shirt and jeans.

2014

  1. On Jovial Nature — a long essay on the nature of Jupiter/Jove in magic, life, art, Making and games.
  2. Easter is Not Pagan — an evaluation of the meme that Easter = Ishtar and that somehow Easter is a pagan festival.
  3. The First Decan of Virgo — I was reading a lot of Austin Coppock in those days and striving to understand something of astrology.  Some poetry came out of that.
  4. Second Decan of Libra — working on a piece of art for my dad. Why this became so popular, I’m not sure.
  5. Poem for the Mighty Dead — my humble contribution to the lore and written texts around Samhain/Samhuinn in the various communities that I belong to.

2013

  1. Poem for the Winter Solstice — this was written for the EarthSpirit Community’s Open Yule festival this year.
  2. A Not So Theoretical Walk In the Woods — a journey up a mountain in honor of Jupiter the planet.
  3. An Alhambra of Memory — I wonder what happened to this pop-up book panel? I remember that it was on my desk one day, and then I went to find it a few days later and it was gone.
  4. Wood Work: Japanese Style Toolbox — I still have this toolbox, but I haven’t been able to use it much. There’s no place to work here without sawdust being an annoyance.
  5. Discovery loved, cause hated —  I remember how excited I was to discover that a bunch of third graders were trying to repair a 3-d printer in our prototype design lab… and in the process they’d taught themselves about the x-axis, the y-axis, and the z-axis. They were thinking in three dimensions, even though the machine they were trying to use was broken.

2012

  1. Inside Locker — Craziest thing.  At one school where I taught, every kid got a locker… and virtually no one used them.  I had to teach kids in one of my classes how to use one, and how to structure/organize this working space so that it became useful to them.
  2. Emotional Intelligence by Peter Salovey — I attended a workshop by researcher and author Peter Salovey. These are my working notes, expanded into paragraphs, sorta, from his lecture.
  3. From the Sewing Machine: Notebooks — a sewing machine is useful for much more than making clothes and cloth napkins.  They can also make books.
  4. U.S. Constitution Scavenger Hunt — I still had this idea that the Internet would make researching more fun and easy in 2012, instead of the fire-hose of misinformation that it’s turned into. The idea was to write a list of 20 questions that would help students navigate the US Constitution and understand its contents. How times change — even if you understand it, it doesn’t mean that the officers named in it are doing what they’re supposed to, today.
  5. Book Review: Tantric Thelema — Sam Webster seemed to think that Thelema was broken, and that it could be fixed by adding certain practices from Tantra to Thelema.  Most of the book went over my head at the time, as I wasn’t either a Buddhist or a Thelemite, and I’m still not.  All the same, finding this review makes me think the book is worth another read-through, sometime soon.  I think it presents a number of really important ideas about ways that both magical and pagan practice can be repaired.

2011

  1. Guest Post: Stephen Downes on Fads — Stephen Downes remains one of the few people to kick my a** and critique me to my face on my blog (and his own).  His guest post marked a turning point in what I did and thought about on this blog, but I’m still interested in the Medieval Seven — the original seven Liberal Arts.
  2. Organization: Moleskine — I was keeping a bullet journal long before it was cool, or before we called them bullet journals.  My post on how I keep my journal still gets a few hundred hits a year.
  3. Anti-Teacher Upsurge — That year, 2010, saw an incredible upsurge on both the right and the left, of anti-teacher rhetoric.  Most of that anti-teacher rhetoric, alas, drove a lot of good people out of teaching… and left most of the bad methodologies that both sides critiqued, still in play. And American kids are still dying in the classroom from gunfire, and becoming mentally-broken by the teach-to-the-test culture.  It’s bad.
  4. Driven By Data (Book Review) — Paul Bambrick-Santoyo’s approach to assessment design in schools changed the way that I thought about teaching and learning, and how to go about redesigning assessment.  It’s still incredibly labor-intensive for the teacher, but a powerful way to assess what students are and aren’t learning.

2010

  1.  Final Exam Data — Doug Lemov (in a book called Teach Like A Champion) and Paul Bambrick-Santoyo (in Driven by Data) offered a variety of techniques for teaching more effectively. In June 2010, I put those techniques through the wringer during the lead-up to June’s final examinations. And the results proved to me that I needed to teach differently.
  2.  Sunday WebQuest: Galileo — More than a decade after the web came alive for civilian use, I tried to figure out how to build a WebQuest. For some reason, this one has remained absurdly popular, even now.  How times change.
  3.  Mise en Place & the Nude Classroom — How could we make an American classroom more like a French kitchen, with an organized and methodical way to build learning?
  4. Boy Scouts and Teaching — Merit badges, compartmentalized learning by 5-hour and 10-hour blocks, and why can’t school be more like camp?
  5.  Student Writing

2009

  1. The Mountain and Me — One of the most difficult things I’ve ever done in teaching (besides leaving it) was to help a student down off a mountaintop.  This is that story.
  2. Fine on Leaving Teaching — There was an article from a teacher named Sarah Fine in 2009 explaining why she was leaving teaching for the Washington Post.  Many of the reasons why she left teaching resonated with my friends who were teachers, and we were all commenting on this story.  Nearly ten years later — we called it then. And now, there’s #redfored, and other movements trying to help teachers earn a living wage.
  3. NECC 2009 – animation-ish — ISTE (International Society For Technology in Education) used to be called NECC (National Educational Computing Conference or something like that). I went, the year it was in Washington DC, and I was quite taken with a computer program called Animation-ish which I thought had important uses in the classroom.  A decade later, it no longer seems so relevant.
  4. Paperless Friday — In 2007 or so, I built a labyrinth in the muddy despond that would eventually become my school’s new baseball diamond.  Along the edges of it, I planted about 30 upright stones that marked things like the Helical rising of Sirius, the solstices and equinoxes and their sunrises and sunsets. This was no Stonehenge — none of the stones were more than about 10″ above ground.  In light of Rune Soup’s most recent solo podcast about Gordon’s visit to Uluru in central Australia, this seems relevant, though.
  5. Animation & History — I think it’s one of the great “roads not taken” that we’ve turned to

There won’t be any other posts for about a week or ten days, to give you time to dip into the archives.  Enjoy!

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