I am Phil.
Most people would, or do, consider me a strange mix of things.
I have a degree in Electrical Engineering (May 1990) with a specialization in the design of computer systems from the chip level. I started work on three more bachelor degrees but grew tired of college in 1992. Meeting your significant other tends to do that to you. I taught computer science and math, did all the computer work, was bookstore manager for a year as well as been assistant dean of students and registrar at a junior college for three years. I taught 3 or more classes a quarter as well as everything else. After I left the junior college, I went to work for one of the largest banks in the southeast as a programmer/systems analyst/network administrator. The group that I was part of was a strange mix Ė we did some of everything Ö this group was responsible for keeping all branch server and workstations running, create the server and workstation images, send out software updates, send out critical bank operating information, and a lot more. We provided top level technical support for hardware, branch network systems, file distribution systems, loan transfers, etc. I specialized in database systems, programming, and system design (software). For example, the software distribution system was written in house, involved 30 programs working together over a variety of platforms including Windows 9.x, Windows NT, Widows 2000, Windows XP and the mainframe (VMS). All together the 30 programs allowed software updates to be distributed to over 800 branch servers and 12,000 workstations. The 30 programs would essentially be called applets I guess. And for the kicker, the system was designed to work over a time sliced 56K line (the branch servers were given a 19.2K slice) through the mainframe. I am not kidding. Somehow, for over 4 years, a group of at most eight people managed to keep these branches working with very little downtime as well as making improvements and designing new systems as well as providing top level technical support. I did not write the original software distribution system. I inherited the base system and over the course of about 4 years rewrote most of the programs as well as adding several. I think that I am most proud of a system I created that allowed any setting in Windows NT Server User Manager to be changed via a configuration file as well as the ability to create/modify users, change passwords, expire accounts, etc. One part of the program required me to create a system whereby passwords could be sent as a set of numbers embedded into a list of other numbers. Before you gasp in horror, each character in the password was encoded using a random equation out of 25 encoding formulas and the result was inserted in random positions within a random length list. In other words, if you encoded the same password 10,000 times you would have 10,000 unique files. Oh, I forgot to mention each encoded value was offset by a random offset value with each encoding. My favorite encoding equation was a solution to a fifth degree polynomial.
Yes folks, I am a geek and a witch.
One of my dreams for the past five years was to open my own metaphysical store. In May of 2003 I decided to begin the process of turning my dream into reality.
My interest in magick goes back as far as I can remember and have been working magick for over 20 years. As a child, I was raised Southern Baptist. Yes, I survived. I knew that there was more to the world than what was taught in that religion. From a very early age I knew that it was not my spiritual path. When I was sixteen I ran across a book, "The Black Arts" by Richard Cavendish. This was my first real exposure to magick. For those of you who have not read the book do not let the title fool you Ö the majority of the book discusses the basics of magick Ö only a small portion addresses what would be termed negative magick. I skimmed through that section and was rather disgusted by it. Please keep in mind, this was back in 1983 Ö long before magick became a topic that was carried in mainstream bookstores. I found the book in a used bookstore in Panama City, FL.
When I was 18, I put out a call for a teacher. It turned out that one of the guys that I played RPGs with was also magickal. He taught me the basics of shielding but that was as far as the instruction went. Our schedules never matched up to allow more in-depth training. We were both in college, two very different degree programs and different magickal paths. However, at that time, he taught me what I needed to survive until I could meet up with a more compatible teacher.
Oh boy, as I am writing this, I just realized that the events that brought me to Montgomery and allowed me to meet the person who was to be my teacher/mentor was actually started in 1986 at a Christmas party. It was the year after I graduated from high school and a friend who graduated in 1984 invited me to her party. The party was sort of a spur of the moment event. When she called, my best friend, Greg was at my house and I asked if he could come along. Greg didnít really want to go but didnít have anything better to do. She also invited another one of her friends, Martha. Martha didnít want to go to the party either. We all had gone to the same high school but Greg and Martha didnít really know one another. They immediately went outside for a smoke upon arriving. Outside, they got to talking and found out that they liked each other and rapidly became an item.
Six years after I put out the call, Greg moved to Montgomery to work for a computer firm. He invited me down for a couple of days. Martha had discovered the shop my future mentor owned and had taken Greg there. Greg knew that I was interested in magick and took me to the shop when I visited. It was at that time that I first met Michelle, the lady who would become my teacher.
A strange series of events, over the course of a couple of days in August of 1992, landed me the job at a junior college in Montgomery. I had been working for about three weeks when I went to lunch with the guy I shared an office with. We were traveling back from lunch on a road that I had not been on and I just happened to notice the store. Michelle had moved the store from where it had been when I visited it with Greg a year or so before. And, it turned out the new location was only 2 blocks from where I was working. I went to the store the next day at lunch, met Michelle again and it just happened that she had just started a new session of the magickal classes she taught. I signed up and the rest is history.
I guess that many students say this about their teacher but Michelle was a truly exceptional and a terrific person as well as being an extremely powerful witch. Her store was an absolute wonder filled with marvelous items. My words do not do justice to her.
I consider myself to be eclectic Wiccan. I looked at the various sects of Wicca and didnít find one that grabbed me. There was not a single sect that incorporated a majority of my beliefs. To me, arguing over whether to use a wand, sword, staff or athame while performing certain tasks is about like Christians arguing over the nature and number of the sacraments. While researching I definitely decided that degree systems were not for me. I read the list of requirements for various degree systems and was rather distressed by some of the items. For instance, many of systems list the ability to use a Ouija board as a first degree requirement but have channeling as a third degree item. This would be very bad for me because I am terrible at using a Ouija but can naturally channel. Yes, I could push the planchette around with my fingers and make it appear like I was getting the information but that wouldnít be very honest and definitely not in the spirit of any degree system. I believe that all magickal people progress at different rates and have different natural abilities.
The previous paragraph is not intended to discourage anyone from following a traditional Wiccan sect or from following a degree based system. Those are not the paths that I chose.
Everyone must choose his or her own path.
On April 13, 2008, I completed my Reiki Master training. I am now an Independent Reiki Master.