Merry we meet - Merry we meet - Merry we meet
Pagan Pioneers: Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others
John Michael Greer
Written and compiled by George Knowles
John Michael Greer is currently the Grand Archdruid of the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), a Druid Companion of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD), a certified Tarot Grandmaster, and a practicing Geomancer. Since 1996 he has authored numerous books on magic and the occult including: Paths of Wisdom: Cabala in the Western Tradition, Natural Magic: Potions and Powers from the Magical Garden, Circles of Power: Ritual Magic in the Western Tradition and Inside a Magical Lodge. He has also contributed articles for: Renaissance Magazine, the Golden Dawn Journal, the Journal of Asian Martial Arts, Mezlim, New Moon Rising, Gnosis, and Alexandria.
John Michael Greer was born in 1962 in Bremerton, a small town suburb of Seattle, in Washington State, USA. Raised in a non-religious family, his parents, John D. Greer and Jo Ann M. Greer (nee Smith) were both schoolteachers in the local area, and as John reveals: “They were not so much atheists as simply apathetic toward religion, which simply didn’t matter to them,” as such they had no influence on his own later religious evolution. John also has a sister Pamela J. Smith (nee Greer).
As a child, John was very much a loner and often shied away from social interaction, however it was clear to those who knew him, his parents and schoolteachers, that he was also a very bright child, if a little obsessive about things that gained his interest. It was not until much later in his life, that a name was put to this obsessive side of his nature. In 1998 he was diagnosed with a condition called Asperger Syndrome (AS). AS is a sub-group of autism, it contains many of its symptoms but without it’s history of language delay. Those with AS are most likely to have a better than average IQ, but have trouble learning social skills, instead they take up obsessive interests to make up for their lack of social contact.
One of John’s early interests was reading fantasy fiction, and by the age of ten he had discovered his first role model, the wizard Gandalf from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, an obsession that led to his later interests in Spirituality, Mythology and Esoteric traditions. Indeed while still attending Highline High School in Burien, WA (another small suburb of Seattle), he was already studying the Golden Dawn system of Hermetic magic.
After finishing High School in 1980, John started his college education studying Comparative History at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Washington State, but in 1983 took a 7-year break from his academic studies to concentrate on developing his skills as a writer. Shortly after starting his break, John met his future wife Sara Carroll, a Ceremonial magician, herbalist, musician and a Priestess in the Pagan arm of the Universal Gnostic Church. They were married on the 28th July 1984.
Sara Greer (nee Carroll)
Throughout the remaining 1980’s, John took on a variety of jobs to make ends meet, including: work as a certified nurses aide in nursing homes, a clerk in a photocopy shop, work in a dry cleaning shop, and work as a microfilmer. In 1991, he returned to complete his college education at the University of Washington in Seattle, from where he graduated in 1993 with a BA (magna cum laude) degree in Comparative History.
By this time John was becoming dissatisfied with some aspects of the Golden Dawn system of Hermetic magic, and wanted to explore a more nature based spirituality, which led him to Druidry. In 1995 he started a correspondence course taught by the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD). The OBOD is an English Druidic Order founded by Ross Nichols in 1964, and is now the largest Druidic Order in the world with an international following. The Order takes it’s named from its three traditional grades, each of which normally takes seven years to complete. The first grade “Bard” focuses on the powers and gifts of song and poetry, the second grade “Ovate” teaches medical knowledge and healing (herb craft etc), while the third and final grade “Druid” is centered on spirituality in conjunction with nature.
A year later John’s career as a writer took-off when his first book: Paths of Wisdom: Cabala in the Western Tradition (1996), a handbook based on the Golden Dawn’s cabalistic philosophy and published by Llewellyn Publications. Since then he has averaged at least one new book each year. By the end of the decade and in order to supplement his correspondence studies, John tried to make contact with other Druidic Orders in America. One such was the Ancient Order of Druids in America (AODA), a Church of Druid nature spirituality founded in 1912 by a Dr. James Manchester M.D. However, the Order had been going through a management crisis, and during the late 1990’s had become non-active. Unable to make contact with them at that time, in 2001 John joined the Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF), a modern Druid Order founded by Isaac Bonewits in 1983. Both John and his wife Sara, who had also joined the ADF, allowed their membership of the ADF to lapse in 2004, this due to other pressing commitments.
In 2002, in just 7 years, John completed all three grades of his OBOD correspondence course and received certification as a Druid Companion of the Order. He was further honoured with the ‘Mount Haemus Award’ for Druid scholarship in 2003. That same year he finally made contact with Betty Jean McCloud Reeves, the Grand Archdruid of the struggling AODA. After a series of discussions about their future viability, he was invited into the Grand Grove as Archdruid of the East (Air). Later that year on the 21st December 2003, when Betty the Grand Archdruid resignation due to ill health, John was elevated to the North (Earth) as the seventh Grand Archdruid of the Order.
John has long held concerns about the depletion of the earth’s natural resources, and in 2003 signed up for a Master Conservers course in energy conservation. This was a program started in the States of Washington and Oregon with the aim of training volunteers in energy conservation. Participants in the classes then volunteered their time to local communities using methods such as weather-stripping and insulation to help conserve natural energy resources. After returning to Seattle from Washington State, John received his Master Conservers certificate in 2005.
In 2005, John was also initiated into the Reformed Druids of North America (RDNA) and received his third grade ordination in 2008. Founded in 1963 by a group of students at Carleton College in Minnesota, the RDNA was initially formed as a protest against their forced requirement to attend main line “established” Church services on Sundays. As an alternative, a group of students put together their own liturgy and theology base on Earth and Nature spirituality, and held their own services outside. As a result, the College relaxed their religious requirements the following year, but the RDNA continued grow and expand. As original members of the group left the College and formed their own groves, so did the RDNA influence the formation of other Druidic groups in North America.
John’s wife Sara, who had been a Priestess in the Pagan arm of the Universal Gnostic Church since 1994, also joined her husband in the AODA. Initially she served as the Almoner, but is now the Archdruid of the West (Water). In addition, Sara is also a member of the OBOD, the RDNA and the Druid Gorsedd of the First Circle (DGOFC), an Order co-founded in 1995 by Paul Anthony Dunn (Nathairwen) in South East Tennessee, USA. Under her pen name Clare Vaughn, together with her husband John, she is the co-author of: Learning Ritual Magic: Fundamental Theory and Practice for the Solitary Apprentice (2004) and Pagan Prayer Beads (2007).
As well as writing books and attending to AODA business, John has had a long time interest in Oriental mystery traditions and Martial arts, and in particular the practice of “Neigong” a set of Chinese breathing, meditation and spiritual disciplines associated with Daoism. In 2001, he started studies and training in the Yang style of T'ai Chi (a system of physical exercise, based on slow controlled movements and thoughts to relieve stress and develop inner spiritual force) with Sifu Andrew Dale of Seattle, and in 2009 received his teacher’s certificate from Sifu Gene Burnett of Ashland, Oregon. John is also a certified Tarot Grandmaster, a practicing Geomancer, and a student of Sacred Geometry. John and Sara relocated to Cumberland, MD, in 2009 and now live in an old mill town in the north central Appalachians.
Wisdom: Cabala in the Western Tradition
Power: Ritual Magic in the Western Tradition
Magical Lodge (Llewellyn,
Divination, Earth Magic: A Practical Guide to Geomancy
Magic (Llewellyn, 2000;
reprinted as The Encyclopedia of Natural Magic, 2005)
Encyclopedia of the Occult (Llewellyn, 2003)
High Magic (with Carl
Hood Jr. and Clare Vaughn - Weiser, 2004)
Full of Gods: An Inquiry into Polytheism (ADF Press, 2005)
Handbook (Weiser, 2006)
(Renaissance Astrology, 2006)
Encyclopedia of Secret Societies (Element, 2006)
of the Sword by Gérard Thibault d'Anvers, 1628
(translation; Chivalry Bookshelf, 2006)
Pagan Prayer Beads (with Clare Vaughn; Weiser, 2007)
Atlantis: Ancient Legacy,
Hidden Prophecy (Llewellyn, 2007)
Druid Magic Handbook: Ritual Magic Rooted in the Living Earth (Weiser Books - 2008) See at Amazon
The Long Descent (New Society, 2008)
The Art and Practice of Geomancy
The Fires of Shalsha (science fiction: Starseed Publications, 2009)
The UFO Phenomenon (Llewellyn, 2009)
The Ecotechnic Future (New Society, 2009)
Secrets of the Lost Symbol (Llewellyn Publications, 2010)
Picatrix: The Classic Medieval Handbook of Astrological Magic (translation, with Christopher Warnock; Renaissance Astrology, 2010)
The Wealth of Nature: Economics As If Survival Mattered (New Society Publishers, 2011)
The Druid Grove Handbook: A Guide to Ritual in the Ancient Order of Druids in America (Lorain Press, 2011)
Mystery Teachings from the Living Earth: An Introduction to Spiritual Ecology (Weiser Books, 2012)
My grateful thanks to John Michael Greer for his correspondence and help in compiling this short biography.
Plus too many others to mention.
Best wishes and Blessed Be
Site Contents - Links to all Pages
A Universal Message:
Let there be peace in the world - Where have all the flowers gone?
Wicca & Witchcraft
The Wiccan Rede / Charge of the Goddess / Charge of the God / The Three-Fold Law (includes The Law of Power and The Four Powers of the Magus) / The Witches Chant / The Witches Creed / Descent of the Goddess / Drawing Down the Moon / The Great Rite Invocation / Invocation of the Horned God / The 13 Principles of Wiccan Belief / The Witches Rede of Chivalry / A Pledge to Pagan Spirituality
Traditions Part 1 - Alexandrian Wicca / Aquarian Tabernacle Church (ATC) / Ár Ndraíocht Féin (ADF) / Blue Star Wicca / British Traditional (Druidic Witchcraft) / Celtic Wicca / Ceremonial Magic / Chaos Magic / Church and School of Wicca / Circle Sanctuary / Covenant of the Goddess (COG) / Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS) / Cyber Wicca / Dianic Wicca / Eclectic Wicca / Feri Wicca /
Traditions Part 2 - Gardnerian Wicca / Georgian Tradition / Henge of Keltria / Hereditary Witchcraft / Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (H.O.G.D.) / Kitchen Witch (Hedge Witch) / Minoan Brotherhood and Minoan Sisterhood Tradition / Nordic Paganism / Pagan Federation / Pectic-Wita / Seax-Wica / Shamanism / Solitary / Strega / Sylvan Tradition / Vodoun or Voodoo / Witches League of Public Awareness (WLPA) /
Other things of interest:
Gods and Goddesses (Greek Mythology) / Esbats & Full Moons / Links to Personal Friends & Resources / Wicca/Witchcraft Resources / What's a spell? / Circle Casting and Sacred Space / Pentagram - Pentacle / Marks of a Witch / The Witches Power / The Witches Hat / An esoteric guide to visiting London / Satanism / Pow-wow / The Unitarian Universalist Association / Numerology: Part 1 / Part 2 / Part 3 / A history of the Malleus Maleficarum: includes: Pope Innocent VIII / The papal Bull / The Malleus Maleficarum / An extract from the Malleus Maleficarum / The letter of approbation / Johann Nider’s Formicarius / Jacob Sprenger / Heinrich Kramer / Stefano Infessura / Montague Summers / The Waldenses / The Albigenses / The Hussites / The Native American Sun Dance / Shielding (Occult and Psychic Protection) /
Sabbats and Festivals:
The Sabbats in History and Mythology / Samhain (October 31st) / Yule (December 21st) / Imbolc (February 2nd) / Ostara (March 21st) / Beltane (April 30th) / Litha (June 21st) / Lammas/Lughnasadh (August 1st) / Mabon (September 21st)
Rituals contributed by Crone:
Animals in Witchcraft (The Witches Familiar and Totem Animals) / Antelope / Bats / Crow / Fox / Frog and Toads / Goat / Honeybee / Kangaroo / Lion / Owl / Phoenix / Rabbits and Hares / Raven / Robin Redbreast / Sheep / Spider / Squirrel / Swans / Unicorn / Wild Boar / Wolf / Serpent / Pig / Stag / Horse / Mouse / Cat / Rats / Unicorn
In Worship of Trees - Myths, Lore and the Celtic Tree Calendar. For descriptions and correspondences of the thirteen sacred trees of Wicca/Witchcraft see the following: Birch / Rowan / Ash / Alder / Willow / Hawthorn / Oak / Holly / Hazel / Vine / Ivy / Reed / Elder
Rocks and Stones:
Articles contributed by Patricia Jean Martin:
Apophyllite / Amber / Amethyst / Aquamarine / Aragonite / Aventurine / Black Tourmaline / Bloodstone / Calcite / Carnelian / Celestite / Citrine / Chrysanthemum Stone / Diamond / Emerald / Fluorite / Garnet / Hematite / Herkimer Diamond / Labradorite / Lapis Lazuli / Malachite / Moonstone / Obsidian / Opal / Pyrite / Quartz (Rock Crystal) / Rose Quartz / Ruby / Selenite / Seraphinite / Silver and Gold / Smoky Quartz / Sodalite / Sunstone / Thunderegg / Tree Agate / Zebra Marble
Wisdom and Inspiration:
Articles and Stories about Witchcraft:
Murdered by Witchcraft / The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / A Battleship, U-boat, and a Witch / The Troll-Tear (A story for Children) / Goody Hawkins - The Wise Goodwife / The Story of Jack-O-Lantern / The Murder of the Hammersmith Ghost / Josephine Gray (The Infamous Black Widow) / The Two Brothers - Light and Dark
Old Masters of Academia:
(Ancient, Past and Present)
(Departed Pagan Pioneers, Founders, Elders and Others)
Pioneers: Founders, Elders, Leaders and Others
Abramelin the Mage / Agrippa / Aidan A Kelly / Albertus Magnus - “Albert the Great” / Aleister Crowley - “The Great Beast” / Alex Sanders - “King of the Witches” / Alison Harlow / Allan Bennett - the Ven. Ananda Metteyya / Allan Kardec (Spiritism) / Alphonsus de Spina / Amber K / Ann Moura / Anna Franklin / Anodea Judith / Anton Szandor LaVey / Arnold Crowther / Arthur Edward Waite / Austin Osman Spare / Balthasar Bekker / Biddy Early / Barbara Vickers / Bridget Cleary - The Fairy Witch of Clonmel / Carl " Llewellyn" Weschcke / Cecil Hugh Williamson / Charles Godfrey Leland / Charles Walton / Christopher Penczak / Christina Oakley Harrington / Cornelius Loos / Damh the Bard - "Dave Smith" / Dion Fortune / Dolores Aschroft-Nowicki / Donald Michael Kraig / Doreen Valiente / Dorothy Morrison / Dr. John Dee & Edward Kelly / Dr. Leo Louis Martello / Edain McCoy / Edward Fitch / Eleanor Ray Bone - “Matriarch of British Witchcraft” / Eliphas Levi / Ernest Thompson Seton / Ernest Westlake / Fiona Horne / Frederick McLaren Adams - Feraferia / Friedrich von Spee / Francis Barrett / Gavin and Yvonne Frost and the School and Church of Wicca / Gerald B. Gardner - The father of contemporary Witchcraft / Gwydion Pendderwen / Hans Holzer / Helen Duncan / Herman Slater - Horrible Herman / Heinrich Kramer / Isaac Bonewits / Israel Regardie / Ivo Domínguez Jr. / Jack Whiteside Parsons - Rocket Science and Magick / James "Cunning" Murrell - The Master of Witches / Janet Farrar and Gavin Bone / Jean Bodin / Jessie Wicker Bell - “Lady Sheba” / Johann Weyer / Johannes Junius - "The Burgomaster of Bamberg" / Johann Georg Fuchs von Dornheim - the “Hexenbrenner” (witch burner) / John Belham-Payne / John George Hohman - "Pow-wow" / John Gerard / John Gordon Hargrave and the Kibbo Kith Kindred / John Michael Greer / John Score / Joseph “Bearwalker” Wilson / Joseph John Campbell / Karl von Eckartshausen / Lady Gwen Thompson - and "The Rede of the Wiccae" / Laurie Cabot - "the Official Witch of Salem" / Lewis Spence / Lodovico Maria Sinistrari / Ludwig Lavater / Madeline Montalban and the Order of the Morning Star / Margaret Alice Murray / Margot Adler / Michael Howard and the UK "Cauldron Magazine" / Margaret St. Clair - the “Sign of the Labrys” / Marie Laveau - " the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans" / Marion Weinstein / Martin Antoine Del Rio / Matthew Hopkins - “The Witch-Finder General” / Max Ehrmann and the "Desiderata" / Michael A. Aquino - and The Temple of Set / Monique Wilson / Montague Summers / Nicholas Culpeper / Nicholas Remy / M. R. Sellars / Mrs. Maud Grieve - "A Modern Herbal" / Oberon Zell-Ravenheart and Morning Glory / Old Dorothy Clutterbuck / Old George Pickingill / Olivia Durdin-Robertson - co-founder of the Fellowship of Isis / Paddy Slade / Pamela Colman-Smith / Paracelsus / Patricia Crowther / Patricia Monaghan / Patricia “Trish” Telesco / Paul Foster Case and the “Builders of the Adytum” mystery school / Peter Binsfeld / Philip Heselton / Raven Grimassi / Raymond Buckland / Reginald Scot / Richard Baxter / Robert Cochrane / Robert ‘von Ranke’ Graves and the "The White Goddess" / Rosaleen Norton - “The Witch of Kings Cross” / Rossell Hope Robbins / Ross Nichols and the " Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids" (OBOD) / Rudolf Steiner / Sabrina Underwood - "The Ink Witch" / Scott Cunningham / Selena Fox - founder of "Circle Sanctuary" / Silver Ravenwolf / Sir Francis Dashwood / Sir James George Frazer and the " The Golden Bough" / S.L. MacGregor Mathers and the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn” / Starhawk / Stewart Farrar / Sybil Leek / Ted Andrews / The Mather Family - (includes: Richard Mather, Increase Mather and Cotton Mather ) / Thomas Ady / T. Thorn Coyle / Vera Chapman / Victor & Cora Anderson and the " Feri Tradition" / Vivianne Crowley / Walter Brown Gibson / Walter Ernest Butler / William Butler Yeats / Zsuzsanna Budapest /
Many of the above biographies are briefs and far from complete. If you know about any of these individuals and can help with additional information, please contact me privately at my email address below. Many thanks for reading :-)
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