Alferian Gwydion MacLir is the druidic name of Dr. James Warren Scott Maertens of Minneapolis, Minnesota — Also known as Brother Owl. He wears glasses, size ten shoes, and has a rather bulbous nose, inherited from his Belgian family all the way back to the ancient Celtic Belgae renowned as fierce fighters against the Romans and named for their bulging schnozolas.
Alferian is a scriblerian, who spends time writing things on the Internet and is currently finishing a book on wandmaking. James is a Master Mason and brother of Lake Harriet Lodge No. 277 in Minneapolis, where he currently serves as Lodge Education Officer. Brother Owl completed the entire set of Scottish Rite degrees during the Fall class of 2007 at the Minneapolis Valley’s historic temple. He is proud to be a Knight of the Rose Croix and Knight of the Temple, and Master of the Royal Secret 32°. He is also a Druid Companion of the Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids, a member of the Ancient Order of Druids in America, a member of the Royal and Antient Fellowship of Wandmakers, Past Clovis Man and Grand Panjandrum of the Piltdown Gentleman’s Club, and an Honorary Combustible of the Honorable Company of Tobacconists.
James holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Minnesota (1993) but has given up a lucrative career as an English professor in order to raise his daughter, keep house, and carve magic wands. In 2005 Alferian founded the non-profit scholarly center, Avalon Center for Druidic Studies (ACDS), which was intended to grow into a residential center for the scholarly study of modern and ancient druidry and other peculiar subjects of interest to modern druids, including nature spirituality, sustainable living, and the arts of the imagination. In November 2008, the board of ACDS decided to dissolve the corporation and throw in the towel after Dr. Maertens retired from the directorship in order to devote himself to writing.
Owl is now writing a young adult novel series about a world of magic that is true to his own experience of magic rather than like most of what passes for magic in that genre. The first novel arose out of a bit of foolery in the summer when James and his daughter began composing ideas for a parody of Harry Potter. James realized that what he really wanted to do was write a story about magical kids at school that was not silly and full of the sort of “magical thinking” that populates children’s “fairy tales.” He hopes rather to capture the real wonder of living a magical life and the real magical cosmology of druidry rather than simply appealing to children’s wish-fulfillment fantasies and hackneyed Manichean ideas of Good vs. Evil. In this he is inspired by writers of novels of character such as Jane Austen and Emily Brontë, rather than writers of rolicking adventure yarns and action-packed plot-driven stuff. As a writer, he is finding the philosophical mystery novel more inspiring than the novel of action.
Dr. Maertens lives in Minneapolis with his wife and daughter, a tabby cat named Minerva, a gold fish named Poseidon, and a hermit crab named Spikenard, as well as many squirrels, chipmunks, moles, and birds in his garden. He cultivates as many trees as possible in his small urban nematon and serves as the chief druid of Geal-Darach Grove, an OBOD seed group in Minnesota. His favorite Winnie-the-Pooh character is, of course, Owl.