The Way to the Northern Chair
Born in 1962 in Bremerton, Washington State, USA, John Michael Greer was raised in a nonreligious family but developed an intense interest in spirituality, mythology, and esoteric traditions in childhood. He began studying the Golden Dawn tradition of Hermetic magic in his teens, and followed the "golden thread" of esoteric teachings into a wide range of related subjects, from martial arts and Asian mystical traditions to environmental science and sacred geometry, in the years that followed.
He attended college at Western Washington University (1980-1983) and the University of Washington (1991-1993), graduating from the latter magna cum laude in 1993 with a BA in Comparative History of Ideas. In the interval between his college years he married and worked at a variety of jobs while developing his skills as a writer. His first published book, Paths of Wisdom, a handbook of Golden Dawn cabalistic philosophy, was released by Llewellyn in 1996, and has been followed by eight other books to date.
Dissatisfaction with some aspects of the Golden Dawn system, especially its lack of contact with the realities of green nature, led him to Druidry. In 1995 he joined the Order of Bards Ovates and Druids (OBOD) began its correspondence study program, and progressed through the three degrees of Bard, Ovate and Druid, receiving his certificate as a Druid Companion of the Order in 2002. In 2003 he was honored with OBOD's Mount Haemus Award for Druid scholarship. In 2001 he also joined the Druid fellowship Ar nDraiocht Fein (ADF). He remains active in both these organizations.
His journey to the northern chair, the seat of the Grand Archdruid in the Ancient Order of Druids in America, was made complex by the Order's own difficulties during and after the resignation of Grand Archdruid Robert Johnson in 1998. Unbeknownst to him, his first attempt to contact AODA - after reading about it in a reference book, and finding its traditional Druid Revival approach intensely appealing - was made during the middle of this crisis and went nowhere. He finally succeeded in making contact with one of the Order's Archdruids in 2001, only to find the Order inactive. In 2003, after a series of discussions about AODA's potentials, he was brought into the Grand Grove as Archdruid of the East. On December 21, 2003, on the resignation of Grand Archdruid Betty Jean McCloud Reeves due to ill health, he moved to the North as the seventh Grand Archdruid of AODA.
He currently lives in Ashland, Oregon with his wife Sara, an herbalist, musician, and writer who serves as Almoner of AODA and is also active elsewhere in the contemporary Druid movement.
John Michael Greer's published and forthcoming books include:
Paths of Wisdom: Cabala in the Western Tradition (Llewellyn, 1996)
Circles of Power: Ritual Magic in the Western Tradition (Llewellyn, 1997)
Inside A Magical Lodge (Llewellyn, 1998)
Earth Divination, Earth Magic: A Practical Guide to Geomancy (Llewellyn, 1999)
Natural Magic (Llewellyn, 2000; reprinted as The Encyclopedia of Natural Magic, 2005)
Monsters (Llewellyn, 2001)
The New Encyclopedia of the Occult (Llewellyn, 2003)
Learning High Magic, with Carl Hood Jr. and Clare Vaughn (Weiser, 2004)
A World Full of Gods: An Inquiry into Polytheism (ADF Press, 2005)
The Academy of the Sword by Gerard Thibault (translation; Chivalry Bookshelf, 2005)
Druidry: A Green Way of Wisdom (Weiser, 2006)
The Element Encyclopedia of Secret Societies (Element, 2006)
Photo credits: Portrait by Bob Carroll; JMG at Stonehenge by Sara Greer
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