About and Contact

Word, Card, and Star – a journey through language, divination, and inspiration. A chronicle of my search for guidance, insight, and a connection to nature and the ancient world. Along the way, I hope to discover beauty, connection, groundedness, and a sense of wonder.

I am a druid, linguist, and author. I write about meditation, relationship with Spirit, soulful fulfillment in scholarship and art, reconnecting the ancient with the modern, creating beauty, and healing the world. I write and podcast with my wife and partner Alison at Faith, Fern, and Compass.

Professionally, I am a computational linguist, with a focus on speech science, lexicography, lexical semantics, syntax, comparative linguistics, sociolinguistics, and historical linguistics. (My LinkedIn profile is here.) I have a keen interest in the minutiae of the working of the human mind and the centrality of its manipulation of symbols, as well as the broader patterns of social change and development. I have published papers on conversational implicature, dialect analysis, lexical semantics, and syntactic universals.

Spiritually, I was raised Zen Buddhist in the culturally conservative South of the 1970’s and 80’s, and am now a revivalist Druid. I have worked in the fields of internet search, speech processing, and the defense industry, and am the father of four children. I live in Seattle, WA with my wife Alison and our black cats, Cu Gwyn, Pangur Ban, and Rowan.

Like most of us in today’s world, I wear a number of hats. I’ve been Alison’s husband since 2011, and her partner since 2009. I’ve been a father since 1998. Longer than that, I’ve been a linguist — I began my studies in 1991, and have been working professionally since 2000. And I’m a follower of the Druid path, though it’s hard to say how long I’ve been doing that. I’ve been doing “druid things” all my life, but I only put the label “Druid” on them in 2006.

What are “druid things”? Meditating, especially meditating in and about the natural world. Feeling connected to the spiritual realm, and cultivating a relationship with its denizens. Finding soulful fulfillment in scholarship and writing. Reconnecting the ancient world with the modern one. Creating beautiful things, and healing the world with words.

I was raised Zen Buddhist in the southeastern United States, which led to some difficult experiences. Regardless, I’ve always been drawn by the spiritual side of life, and though I usually waffled around between Zen, atheism, and agnosticism, my explorations of Spirit were ongoing and earnest.

Then, in the late spring of 2006, I began struggling with a number of issues, including debt, exhaustion, and fear — a lot of fear. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was the foreshadowing of the end of my first marriage.  For no reason I could figure out at the time, I suffered random attacks of panic that were almost paralyzing. (You can read more about this fear, and some of the things I did to overcome it, here and here.) During meditation, I made contact with a spirit / being / archetype who called himself Apollo, and who urged me to create a blog, though he was vague about its purpose. You can read more about this encounter here. Around the same time, I picked up John Michael Greer’s Druidry Handbook, and was amazed to realize I had been a druid all my life without knowing it.

I have always been interested in just about everything under the sun, but there are disadvantages to that. Chiefly I felt that my interests and passions in life were somewhat weakened by being so spread out and unrelated. I was brought up American Zen; my interest in writing and music, my fascination with historical and cognitive linguistics, my reading in comparative mythology and Jungian psychology, my love of nature and commitment to renewable energy lifestyles, the Waldorf education my children are receiving — all these themes seemed either completely unrelated, or related in some way that I could sense but not grasp.

But it all flows together naturally under druidry. As I went further along the path, a dozen disparate themes in my life were converging, tributaries merging into a single river.

So it came to me that I could blog about my journey down the druid path — a journal of my journey into Druidry. Beyond that, I had no idea where the blog would lead me.

Top Ten reasons I’m a Revivalist Druid:

  1. It gives spiritual context to my love of nature and commitment to environmentalism.
  2. It gives religious depth to my fiction and non-fiction writing.
  3. It fits well with my American Zen upbringing.
  4. It is a great companion to my interest in history.
  5. It gives depth and meaning to my linguistic studies.
  6. It fits with my interests in Jungian psychology and mythology.
  7. It gives me an excuse to make music.
  8. It gives guidance and comfort in difficult times.
  9. It offers the deep peace of the Buddhist tradition, the grounding of an indigenous tradition, and the cultural comfort of a European tradition.
  10. It has a big holiday every six weeks. (Woot!)

Top Eleven Favorite Places I’ve Visited (there were ten, and then I visited more places)

  1. Chaco Canyon, NM: for the colors, the sense of deep history, and the long-forgotten tragedy.
  2. Angel Oak Tree, SC: the oldest and largest oak in the eastern US.
  3. Olympic Mts., WA: for the sense of scale, seclusion, and fae wonder.
  4. Seattle, WA: a city poised between land, sea, and sky, where the evenings glow with the light reflected off the water.
  5. Santa Fe, NM: for its museums and landscapes and memories.
  6. Big Bend, TX: for the bamboo on the Rio Grande.
  7. Sedona, AZ: for the hoodoos and vortices.
  8. Tyrol, Austria / Italy: for the castles, white capped peaks, and cows.
  9. Boone, NC: for the mountains and the parkway.
  10. Bryce Canyon, UT: see Sedona.
  11. Black Hills, SD: for the buffalo and prairie dogs and sacred caves.
  12. White Mountains, NH: for the mists, the stones, and the falling waters.

A Parable of Religion

This is a meditation I experienced around the time I started this blog.

An archipelago sprawls across a tropical ocean, each man an island.

My island is large and populous; even the jungles and deserts are dotted with villages. At the center of the island is a handsome mountain, its slopes decked with manicured gardens. At the top of the mountain is a strong ivory tower, where I live, alone.

I have everything I need. The lower portion of the tower is stocked with a rich and varied library, for example. I have met few other monarchs who have libraries as large and heterogenous as mine. A whole section of the library — in fact, one of the oldest sections — is devoted to my own works. My drawing studio, where I spent many happy hours as a child, goes unused much of the time these days, although I do enjoy dropping by from time to time. I spend hours trying to tend the gardens on the mountain, despite my lack of skill in such things.

I have a radio near the top of the tower, and I communicate with the monarchs of other islands thereby. When I speak with them, my lonliness drops away, for a time. Sometimes I can even imagine that I am speaking directly to them, in their very presence. But there is always static and interference, and one can never really be sure a real connection has been made.

After the tropical sun sets into the sea, I watch the stars rolling overhead and try to find patterns in them.

There are servants in the tower with me, I am nearly certain of that. I glimpse them now and again, but whenever I look directly at them, they are gone. Perhaps I only imagine that they smile impishly at me as they disappear. But the evidence of them is everywhere. I always have sumptuous feasts laid out for me when I dine. I find books and pictures set out for me to find in opportune places. When I am painting, or writing, or speaking on the radio, I sometimes suddenly find helpful notes and ideas pressed into my fingers — and if I turn quickly to see who did it, no one is there. And when night falls and I creep downstairs to exit the tower, an unseen hand opens the door.

Yes, I leave the tower at night. I pass down the garden paths to the base of the mountain, and wander the highways and woodland paths among the villages. Here, I see my subjects. Sometimes they all ignore me. Sometimes they follow me, watching, saying nothing. Some try to speak to me, and I to them, as they go about their tasks, but it is a difficult process, because they do not speak my language, and my knowledge of theirs is very incomplete. Usually, I have to try to remember what they said and consult my library in the morning to interpret their speech. If I do so, I find that their words are full of wisdom.

Somewhere on my island, I feel very strongly, is a temple — perhaps deep in the jungle, perhaps buried in the desert. I seem to remember having seen it once before when I was young. (Were there others on the island then, that I could speak to? It seems to me as though there were.) Perhaps there was a great statue there, wound round and bound with vines, with eyes made of huge emeralds; perhaps it was a monolith, baked in the sun, carved with faded characters. Sometimes, when the air is clear on a bright morning, I look out from the top of the tower and try to see the temple; or I search my library (which contains many incomplete and partially accurate maps of my island). Frequently at night I search for it, wandering, a stranger in my own land, through mist-filled jungles, over parched deserts, surrounded always by my subjects, watching me curiously and speaking unintelligibly.

At the temple —

Was there a ceremony there? A coronation? One child was chosen from among the people of the island, chosen to be king, at least for a while. A monarch alone he would be, one set apart. He would serve the island, and the island would serve him. There on the altar of the temple his memory was sacrificed, for only by forgetting all could he be pure enough for kingship. No memory of companionship, family, or speech was left to him; naked and empty he was set in the tower — attended by servants that had to be invisible and inaudible, lest his innocence be corrupted — and left to learn what he could. A sacrifice of one child for the good of all.

But I am grown now. Surely I am old enough to be allowed to remember. Let me remember.

I must find that temple.


13 responses to “About and Contact”

  1. Hi Jeff – I just wanted to thank you for your “Meet A Guide” meditation. I have been wanting to meet my guides for a while, but have not been open enough to do so. I had a dream recently in which I met two of my guides – one male, one female -, but didn’t remember their names when I woke up. During your meditation, the female guide sat with me on the bench and very clearly revealed her name as Anya. I plan to use your meditation again to see if I can meet the male guide this time. This is so cool! Thanks again!


  2. Leah, thanks so much for your comment! It’s always great to get positive feedback! Give my regards to Anya and your other guide! 🙂


  3. Hello. I was referred to your blog by a member of the Black Hat Society Network, because I was looking for people who’ve had experience with Emerson Waldorf School or other Waldorf programs.

    If you could please contact me via email, I would be very appreciative of any information! I’m trying to search around your blog for the Waldorf info they sent me here for.

    Rocky Mount, NC


  4. […] constructing a rough chart of the island. Perhaps your island is shaped somewhat like mine. Together, we will locate the […]


  5. Hey Jeff,

    I have made many attempts with your meet a guide meditation, and I would like your advice if you are open to it. Meeting a guide has been one of my goals for many months now. I have prepared myself by reading “The Inner Guide Meditation” by Edwin Steinbrecher, a spectacular book in my – although amateur – opinion, but I still seem to be having difficultly making progress. Visualizing “the beach” in your walkthrough is tough but doable. My conflict involves the process of actually meeting one of these entities. On my first attempt, it seemed as though the entity, who I did successfully manage to establish a communication with (unlike the following attempts), was not a very nice one. It presented its self as my grandma. She acted quite loving and formerly made me feel very happy and excited. After trying to speak with her, my visualizations of the garden and her were skewed as an image of her face, but deranged and almost demonic, flashed before my sight. I left this session early and without the proper conclusion, feeling paranoid, disturbed, and upset. Since this event I have not been able to visualize the point at which I must meet a “guide” and I am starting to lose hope. This experience may be some sort of ego blockage where I must overcome an unconscious fear or break down the boundaries of my ego, but truthfully, I am quite lost and would appreciate some help. Thanks for your time.

    Best Regards


  6. Jason, I’m sorry to take so long to reply. I hope you’ve had some success in the meantime. In any case, deranged and demonic twistings are not uncommon — I’ve certainly had them plenty of times — and they’re nothing to worry about. They generally occur simply because you are worried, stressed, or just tired. The thing to do in these cases is just to come back to it again when you are feeling rested and happier.


  7. Lisa 'Lassair' McCune Avatar
    Lisa ‘Lassair’ McCune

    I just wanted to say hi – I’m a SW PA native, having returned to Pgh after a 5 yr stint in northcentral Ohio. I’m also an ADF Druid, a solitary, though I was once a member of Sassafras Grove, ADF. I still meet with some other solitary ADFers. Nice to see other Druid paths in Pgh. Very interesting blog, looking forward to reading more.




    1. Lassair, thanks for dropping by! We (my fiancée and I) would like to explore the local ADF scene a bit more, but haven’t really had a chance. We both work pretty much full time, and my children visit on the weekends, so it’s sometimes hard to be social. But keep in touch — we should meet up sometime! 🙂 We’re pretty easy to find on facebook.


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