Saturday, December 24, 2011

Where Winter Has No Domain - My Southeastern Refuge - Part 2

Tallahassee and the Great Magickal Revelations

Oddly enough, Tallahassee is where I performed some of the most incredible magickal work that I had ever performed before. The reason was two-fold: I had a perfect magickal temple space, and my magickal work had matured to the point where my rampant creativity seemed to have no boundaries. It was the time when I created the system of magick that I call Archeomancy, and greatly deepened the lore of the Order, bringing it to the exceptional level that it now occupies. I also managed to map out the practices that became the lore of the inner order, or the initiatory degrees of fifth through seventh. I also had quite a number of friends, although only a few were actually interested in the magickal work that I did. It was a very exciting time for my magickal development, and I reveled in the new lore that I was developing.

At that time I lived in a wonderful two story, two bedroom townhouse located on Keily Run off of N. Paul Russell Road. The first level had a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room and dining room. The second level was a fully enclosed master bedroom with adjoining full bathroom and an alcove (with sloping ceilings) that could function as a walk in closet. I set up this alcove as an occult study area where I kept my grimoires and other ritual documents. The master bedroom had a door leading to the stairway, so the entire area could be closed off for maximum privacy. The master bedroom had high arched ceilings and even a small round window at the apex point where the angled ceiling met the wall. There was also a wooden plant shelf ensconced there, which I used for the placement of magickal icons. The only problem with that temple was that the vaulted ceilings made cooling difficult, so it was often too warm to work magick robed, even at night. Because it didn’t get cool in Tallahassee until November, and then it warmed back up in March, I was limited to doing my more engaging magickal work during that four month period. I lived in that fabulous townhouse from 1990 until I moved in the summer of 1994.
Tallahassee was a very marginal town in regards to occultism and paganism. If it weren’t for the two large universities (FAMU and FSU), I would have found it quite intolerable to live there. There was just one tiny occult bookstore in town, and very few individuals seemed to visit it. However, through that store I met two individuals, one of whom would be important to my occult work. One was a young college student named Trevor, and the other was a local pagan and witch named John. Trevor turned out to be a good friend and a magickal accomplice. We spent a lot of time going over the Order’s ritual lore, and he assisted me in performing some of the more complex workings. John, on the other hand, introduced me to some people who became my friends, but my association with him was short-lived. I found John to be completely unethical and untrustworthy. He seemed more interested in spreading malicious gossip about me and then innocently pretending to be my friend. After busting him more than once, I decided to break my ties with him. Yet through my association with Trevor, I met many college students from FSU who were interested in paganism and occultism, although not to the degree that Trevor and I had established for ourselves. Because of my friendship with Trevor, I had an inside connection with a younger crowd than I might have had, being by this time, in my mid thirties.

The office where I worked (on Old St. Augustine Road) was within walking distance of my townhouse, and most of the other necessary stores and services were just a short drive away. Tallahassee was a small town, and parts of it were quite old, but I found it a pleasant place to live. It never snowed there, and only some of the trees briefly lost their leaves in the winter. Late February was the beginning of Spring, and in March, the temperatures went back up to the high 70's and low 80's. Summer time, which lasted from around April through October, saw average temperatures in the high 80's and mid 90's, the air saturated with high humidity. It often rained in the early afternoon during the summer, too. Since I was expected to wear dress shoes, slacks, a buttoned down shirt and tie, I often had to wear short sleeved shirts (looking sort of like Dilbert), and I would skip wearing a suit jacket. The heat and humidity made it imperative to wear a new set of clothes every working day, even though the office was heavily air conditioned. The brief periods of being outside in the hot summer would cause my shirt to be soaked with sweat. Laundering was a weekly affair that took up my Sunday afternoons until I could afford to take them to the Laundromat.

Tallahassee is an old southern town, with cypress trees and Spanish moss growing everywhere. There were avenues that were framed by trees and hanging moss forming kind of a natural tunnel called canopy roads, which looked quite picturesque. The town was surrounded by a forest and a swamp, and in fact some of it was just down the two lane road that adjoined my apartment complex. This made Tallahassee into a haven for alligators and various breeds of snakes, not to mention a hoard of mosquitoes and lots of other bugs. I also heard that at one time, perhaps more than half a century ago, it was a place frequented by malaria and yellow fever, although there appeared not to be any cases of it by the time I lived there. If it wasn’t for air conditioning, I doubt that it would be habitable there for most people. In finding a place without any winter I had also unwittingly found a place that was almost unbearably hot several months out of the year. 

Often I would leave my car parked at the apartment complex and walk to work, cutting across the municipal golf course to get to my office. Because the apartment complex adjoined the golf course, there were typically golf balls in the yards and the parking lot left there from individuals who would terribly slice their drive down the fairway which ran parallel to the complex. In fact one weekend day someone had their car window badly cracked, setting off their rather loud car alarm, simply because a falling golf ball had bombarded the parked car. I also recall that the car was an expensive silver grey Mercedes, obviously owned by some rich parents visiting their college student son or daughter. I am quite certain that they were not pleased with the surprise. Since no one came around looking for their lost ball, there was no one to blame for the damage. 
Luckily, my car and townhouse were never hit by these errant balls. I also never bothered to learn golf, so I have no idea what hole number caused so many balls to be sliced to the left and bombard the complex. I only ventured onto the golf course a few times, and mostly at night. One time I remember having a very enjoyable sexual tryst on the downy soft grass of some dark fairway with a young woman. That was about my only real scoring engagement with the peculiar game of golf.

Tallahassee had a large contingent of strident feminist witches who called themselves Dianics, but who were actually more aligned with Reclaiming. Of course, I was a traditional witch and also a middle aged male, so I was pretty much excluded from that group. There were also some rumors being spread around about me (probably by John) that I was some kind of sexist and sexual predator, which was pretty funny because I had been practicing a form of strict celibacy at that time. I did that because I felt it was necessary for the magick that I was working and also to avoid involving myself with someone who might turn out to be too great a distraction. I had been burned by the “Girlfriend from Hell,” so I was attempting to protect myself. Therefore, accusations about me being a sexual predator had a high degree of irony associated with them, since I was about as squeaky clean as any man could be.

Looking back on those times, I can understand my need to create boundaries and to stave off the disaster of a previous bad relationship; but to live in a town that is filled to the brim with very attractive young women while declaring to be celibate was amazingly stupid. While I was pining for a relationship and putting out magickal feelers and asking the Goddess to help me fulfill that aspect of my life, I was also inadvertently turning down a lot of opportunities for having some good clean fun. To this day, I continue to scratch my head about why I behaved in this manner. It’s my assumption that the Goddess was trying to help me resolve my issue with being single, and I was turning a complete blind eye to all of the potential possibilities that came my way. I sort of wonder if the Goddess found me to be an exasperating idiot. Examining some of my magickal diaries at the time, it would seem that the spirits were trying to tell me what was going on, but I was too oblivious to get it.

During my stay in Tallahassee, I also became involved with a coven of witches in Tampa. One of my old students and initiates (Debra) had assembled a coven in her home in Tampa, and requested me to act as High Priest because she lacked any qualified male to take that role. Since I was her elder and former teacher, and had recently moved within a five hour drive of her home, it seemed to me like a good thing to do. For a year or so I traveled down to Tampa for Sabbats, teaching sessions and initiations. I met and became friends with the members of her coven, and experienced some really wonderful gatherings down there. Tampa had a much larger pagan community, and through my connections down there I also attended some pagan festivals and community Sabbat gatherings. I had the best of two worlds - working high magick with myself or with Trevor, and then traveling down to Tampa to celebrate the Sabbats. One of the more memorable initiations that we performed was when we initiated Jacky into the craft. She was vivacious young woman who was just beginning her path. We incorporated a “seining” rite where the candidate was immersed in the salty brine of the Gulf surf as part of her initiation. I still have the ritual that we used, and it was really quite beautiful and inspiring to celebrate that part of her initiation rite on the beach at night.

As you can see, my life was very full, and even though I lived in a small college town (and the State capital of Florida), I had a lot of pagan and occult contacts. I still visited my friends in Atlanta from time to time, too, so it was a truly great time for me. My involvement with the coven in Tampa drew to a close after a year or so of being the high priest. I had some rather heated disagreements with the high priestess and felt that she would be better served selecting someone else to fill my role. Even so, I remained friends with some of the coven members long after my tenure ended. Trevor and I proceeded to work some very advanced ritual magick together, and I also performed a number of ordeals by myself. That work managed to help me to complete three major ordeals, and they took me to a level of magickal work that was far beyond anything I had ever imagined. Previously, I had only been rewriting and reworking rituals and techniques that I had initially invented in the early 1980's. Now I was inventing lore that was completely new and different. Here is a brief description of those three ordeals. (I will write more detailed descriptions of these workings in future articles.)

(To be continued...)

Frater Barrabbas

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing all this in your blog. As a Georgian and your friend, I look forward to reading about the rest of your Southern adventures.