If you love books, you know the feeling of excitement and possibility that comes with delving into a promising new read. Books provide us with fresh thoughts, fresh inspiration, and fresh experiences. Metaphysical books in particular can truly open doorways into "new worlds of body, mind, and spirit," as Llewellyn Worldwide's well-known slogan proclaims. Carl Llewellyn Weschcke—owner of Llewellyn from 1961 till his passing in 2015—was a great lover of books, and it was his passion for the possibilities that books can bring that first compelled him into the world of publishing and continuously inspired him to give it his all. The purpose of life, as Carl saw it, is to become more than we are, to evolve to a state of higher consciousness and functioning where we exist in greater harmony with the universe as a whole and more effectively embrace our roles as co-creators of that universe. He saw books as a means of transmitting knowledge, and he believed that knowledge is an essential key to achieving our full potentials. Carl once commented that if he'd only wanted to make money, he would have done something else. Indeed, while he grew Llewellyn from a small mail-order publisher of astrology texts into a booming multi-million-dollar operation that sells hundreds of books each day to customers around the world, Carl was building more than just his business.
I recently had the opportunity to write a biography about Carl Llewellyn Weschcke and his incredible, magickal life and adventures. Doing so was a tremendous honor as well as a tremendous task. I knew Carl had lived a full life and had accomplished much in his 85 years on earth, but as I researched and dug deeper, I was absolutely blown away by how much he managed to do each day, each year, each decade. The amount of effort and energy that I put into writing this book taxed my tenacity beyond anything I've ever before experienced in the course of my writing work, but learning how Carl gave so much of himself to everything he did reminded me that I, too, could find a way to keep moving forward for the sake of something larger than myself. The work was well worth it, for amidst the countless newspaper and magazine articles, research library archives, interviews with friends and colleagues, and boxes upon boxes of Carl's own personal notes and files, I found the pieces of many untold and nearly forgotten stories longing to be heard. Time and again, my research into Carl's life led me to broader discoveries about the development and spread of metaphysical concepts, New Age philosophies, witchcraft practice, and more. Everywhere I looked, there seemed to be Carl's hand in it, quietly stirring the pot and adding the spice while chuckling merrily to himself from just around the corner. He provided a platform for so many different voices on New Age and magickal philosophies, resurrecting many classic works that might otherwise have been forgotten, while also seeking out and encouraging new and innovative authors. He made information on occult topics easy to come by, giving the average reader ready access to a wealth of books on a vast array of metaphysical and magickal subjects. He opened a bookstore, started a magick school, and hosted America's first large public gatherings of witches and other occultists, creating a space for people to come together, share ideas, learn from one another, and grow. He carefully forged meaningful connections with reporters and editors nationwide, gaining thoughtful media coverage for topics like witchcraft and astrology that were generally treated as make-believe. In short, Carl helped to create a more magickal world, because he truly believed in magick.
Writing about Carl's life gave me a glimpse behind the scenes of a movement that continues to this day, a movement towards more personally meaningful spirituality. Whether New Age, Wicca, Paganism, meditation, or magick, the possibilities afforded to the individual seeking to take their daily lives and personal growth into their own hands provides immediate attraction to the free-thinker ready to use all the tools in their arsenal to live their best life possible. Through the books he wrote, the books he published, and most of all through his compassionate soul that had a knack for recognizing potential, Carl shared with the world his vision of empowerment and enlightenment for all. Though he served as High Priest of a Wiccan coven, the Seventh Grand Master of the Aurum Solis magickal tradition, and was even teasingly nicknamed the "Pope of the Witches," Carl cared little for titles and hierarchies. He believed in equal opportunity for every human to become more than they are, and throughout the course of his life, he poured his body, mind, and spirit into doing his part to help further this Great Work in which he felt all people must play a role.
In Carl Llewellyn Weschcke: Pioneer and Publisher of Body, Mind, and Spirit, you'll learn the details of Carl's work and vision, and in the process you'll discover secrets to success that you can put into practice in your own life to help you achieve your goals. You'll also find an abundance of funny stories, unusual encounters, surprising facts, and first-hand accounts from Carl, Raymond Buckland, Selena Fox and others who were on the front lines of the modern magickal revival. Although I had corresponded with Carl for years before his passing and felt that I knew a good deal about him, in writing his biography I discovered so much that I hadn't known. Did you know that there's a nut tree named after the Weschcke family? Did you know that Carl had a passion for fashion? Did you know that Carl started a new career as a book author at the age of 79? From his extensive work for the NAACP and ACLU during the Civil Rights Era, to his role and motivations in organizing the Council of American Witches and drafting the "Thirteen Principles of Wiccan Belief" that eventually found their way into the U.S. Army Chaplain's Handbook, you'll find many never before published details and tidbits about Carl's life that may surprise you.
Considering that in the early days, Carl rolled out many Llewellyn publications by hand on a tabletop printing press that was operated by turning a crank, the company has gone far and continues to go farther under his legacy of vision and leadership. Today, Llewellyn books can be found prominently and proudly displayed on the shelves of bookstores and homes around the world. Carl was a dreamer, but he was also a planner, and it was his thoroughness of intention and attention to strategy that helped him to succeed and redirected him whenever he failed to make the mark. Every day of his life, Carl considered himself a work in progress, and indeed progress was the outcome of his life on earth. He left behind a wellspring of wisdom, hope, and inspiration that will continue to quench the thirst of spiritual seekers like you and me for years to come, empowering us with the knowledge, insight, motivation, and ability to make our own positive impacts on ourselves, on our world, and on each other. Carl lived a life of love, for he truly had a love for life.
Melanie Marquis is the founder of the United Witches global coven and the organizer of Denver Pagans. She has written for Circle, Pentacle, and the American Tarot Association. Melanie's books include Llewellyn's Little Book ...