Before The Pomegranate There Was Iron Mountain

Iron Mountain, my first venture into Pagan studies. Title calligraphy by Pat Musick. Coffee stains by me.

Having more or less majored in poetry in college, I was always involved in the world of “little magazines” (the more literary term) or simply “zines”1)I also helped to put out an underground newspaper in high shoool, which actually turned a small profit. Our overhead was low: one staff member stole all the necessary paper from the school office, while the “printing” was done on a spirit duplicator in the office of one student’s father, a physics professor at Colorado State University.Although a lot of zines were typed and photocopied, for awhile I owned my own Multilith offset duplicator, a hand-cranked mimeograph,2)After the revolution, brothers, we will just print with used motor oil. and a small letterpress.

A couple of the zines I was involved with were Wicca-related, but I don’t even have copies. When I decided to go to graduate school, I thought I might start my own journal of “magical religion.” Innocently, I thought that once I arrived at the University of Colorado, I could get funding for it. I was wrong about that. Since it was not a faculty project nor a class project, there seemed to be no money for it.

Its name was Iron Mountain: A Journal of Magical Religion. Iron Mountain was where M. and I were living (on its lower slopes) in Manitou Springs, Colorado, and I liked that its name had a vaguely Daoist resonance as well.3)The real Daoist, Gia-fu Feng, author and translator, had his communal house, Stillpoint, elsewhere in town, over in Ruxton Canyon.

I typeset it on my brand-new Kaypro II personal computer (this was the early 1980s), took a floppy disk to the local weekly newspaper to get the “cold type” galleys—long strips of paper—and then cut them and hot-waxed them to pasteboard page layouts that went to the printer.

I printed about two hundred of each issue, but by the time a librarian at a Georgia university approached me, all that was left was the scribbled-on and coffee-stained office copies, one of each issue.

These went to Georgia where they were scanned and put online as part of Valdosta State University’s New Age Movements, Occultism, and Spiritualism Research Library.

You may download each issue for free. You will find the table of contents of each issue online.

Partly through Iron Mountain, I got in on the ground floor of Gnosis: A Journal of the Western Inner Traditions, which was published from 1985–1999. That was an education in itself.

Around the time that Gnosis ran out of steam, Fritz Muntean, attending graduate school at the University of British Columbia, created his own larger and better-produced zine than Iron Mountain, which he and co-editor Diana Tracy called The Pomegranate: A New Journal of Neopagan Thought.

I was flattered when he told me that Iron Mountain had been part of his inspiration.

Fritz invited me to help, and The Pomegranate got a new subtitle, The Journal of Pagan Studies, around 2000. At the American Academy of Religion annual meeting in 2001 we went shopping for a real publisher to make it a real scholarly journal, and eventually connected with Janet Joyce, who was working to open her own firm in the UK, Equinox Publishing.

And of course it’s now The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies. Long may it wave.

Notes   [ + ]

1. I also helped to put out an underground newspaper in high shoool, which actually turned a small profit. Our overhead was low: one staff member stole all the necessary paper from the school office, while the “printing” was done on a spirit duplicator in the office of one student’s father, a physics professor at Colorado State University.
2. After the revolution, brothers, we will just print with used motor oil.
3. The real Daoist, Gia-fu Feng, author and translator, had his communal house, Stillpoint, elsewhere in town, over in Ruxton Canyon.

One Comment

  1. Medeina Ragana says:

    ““cold type” galleys—long strips of paper—and then cut them and hot-waxed them to pasteboard page layouts that went to the printer.”
    Oh my, does that bring back memories of my part-time job at a local newspaper in Stuart, FL back in 1979/1980 when I did the paste-up for the TV insert in the Sunday newpaper section!

    Thanks for the link to the download of Iron Mountain, and yes it does have a vaguely Daoist/Chan flavor.