Jay Kinney grew up in the Midwest, went to school on the East Coast, and has lived on the West Coast since 1972. Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1950, he attended high school in Naperville, Illinois, college at Baldwin Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, and art school at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York. One of the first generation of alternative cartoonists, his comic art first appeared in Bijou Funnies in 1968. Along with fellow cartoonists Art Spiegelman, Bill Griffith, and Robert Crumb, Kinney helped redefine comic art as an adult medium, both editing and contributing to numerous publications throughout the ’70s.
Starting in 1975 he began writing regularly for various Whole Earth publications including Co-Evolution Quarterly and the Whole Earth Catalog. He was also editorial cartoonist for In These Times from 1977 to 1979. Kinney joined the staff of Co-Evolution Quarterly (later Whole Earth Magazine) in the early ’80s and became editor of the magazine in 1983. While editor, he oversaw two special issues of CQ: one on “Religion and Politics” and one on “Islam as Other.”
All throughout this period Kinney maintained an active interest in spiritual growth and esoteric traditions. He studied with the Theosophical Society and the Integral Yoga Institute and completed ten years of training leading to ordination within an independent sacramental church, the Ecclesia Gnostica Mysteriorum. He was ordained a gnostic priest in 1990. He has also worked with Sufi teachers based in Istanbul, Turkey.
In 1985 Kinney founded Gnosis: A Journal of the Western Inner Traditions as a vehicle for the nonsectarian exploration of esoteric and alternative spiritual paths. As publisher and editor-in-chief, he helped establish Gnosis as a serious yet lively source of information for both neophytes and experts alike. Through his own research and through his contacts with the top scholars in the field in the course of publishing Gnosis, Kinney acquired a unique familiarity with the range of Western spiritual traditions.
In 1999, he co-authored Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions with Richard Smoley, published by Penguin/Arkana. He is editor of The Inner West: A New Consciousness Reader, published by J.P Tarcher/Penguin in 2004.
Kinney is a member of Mill Valley Lodge #356, under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of California F&AM, as well as a Fellow of the Scottish Rite Research Society. He is a recipient of the Society’s 2005 Albert Gallatin Mackey Award for Excellence in Masonic Scholarship. Kinney lives in San Francisco with his wife, Dixie, and their feline and canine family.