Wednesday, March 31, 2010

MPUC Ostara Conference 2010

On March 28, I attended the Milwaukee Pagan Unity Council’s Ostara gathering at the Wyndham Milwaukee Airport & Convention Center located in the Grand Ballroom. It was actually a fairly well attended event and one that is urgently needed in Milwaukee, since there has been little of any kind of organized pagan gatherings going on there for some time. Hopefully, this event will trigger a larger organization of pagan and wiccan groups in that area.

In addition to the large vending area of crafts and goods, and an opening and closing ritual, there were presentations, workshops and discussion groups given by individuals with a certain amount of expertise. It was sort of like a mini version of Pantheacon. I had requested and was selected to give a presentation on Elemental Magick - one of my stock presentations that I have been working on and perfecting since before Pantheacon. I also had enough time to attend one of the morning presentations on Ancient Celtic Religions, given by Rev. Kirk Thomas, which focused particularly on the religious beliefs of the Gauls. I found his presentation to be very informative and packed with lots of insights and interpretations that were new to me. Kirk is working on his master’s degree in Celtic studies from the University of Wales. So Kirk’s workshop was based on historically known and verifiable facts, but he had a lot of interesting suggestions for those who might follow a modern adaptation of the old Celtic religions.

Kirk Thomas is a Druid Priest and current Vice-Archdruid of Ár nDríaocht Féin, currently in line to be the next Arch Druid. He is also the outgoing President of the Board of Directors of Cherry Hill Seminary, a Pagan institution which exists to train folks in the skills of Pagan Ministry. He currently lives near the base of Mt. Adams at Trout Lake Abbey in Trout Lake, Washington, with his spirit partner Kozen (a Soto Zen Buddhist Priest). They intend to have two monasteries sharing the site, one Druidic and one Buddhist. You can read more about Kirk at his web site located here.

My presentation was well attended, much to my surprise. The room was filled to capacity and I ran out of handouts. I had made 25 of them, so I am estimating that there were probably around 35 attendees. The number of attendees made me realize later that there are a lot of folks out there who are hungry for knowledge about ritual magick. There was also quite a mix of age groups in attendance as well, from young adults to middle aged practitioners. I was slightly overwhelmed at the number of attendees, and I also found some additional things to add to and improve this workshop for future attendees. One thing that I did, as I have done previously, is to go over the workshop notes and structure them in a more efficient manner, making the message more clear and easier to understand. I would like to share what I came up with you in this article.

First of all, the energy model or theory of magick works exclusively with the concept of magickal power and energy. While few if any actual magickal systems would use this model in such an exclusive manner, isolating the concepts helps to make them more clear and easier to understand, even if the system described is a bit unrealistic.

I have had a little bit of difficulty in defining what magickal power actually is because as an analogy, it is treated as a kind of force closely identified with electric power. Of course, magickal power is not at all like electric power, since it doesn’t appear to be qualified by any of the known forces associated with the electromagnetic spectrum. This may be either because science has not caught up with identifying and classifying subtle energies relating to the experience of human consciousness, or it might be that there is no actually quantifiable energy to measure.

When individuals discuss magickal power, they seem to be talking about the intensity and meaningfulness of the magickal experience, even though they may use terms that sound a lot like electric power. For this reason I feel that the term “magick power” is probably a metaphor for something else entirely. Magickal energy also has qualities of sentience, independent action, and it often eludes any kind of strict cause and effect analysis. When examining magickal phenomena, it might be that strict causality is often and consistently overwhelmed, so attempting to test the effects of magickal power may be quite tricky. I guess it’s because of all of these inconsistencies and the general illusiveness of magickal power that I seek to refrain from attempting to build a theory to completely capture it as a natural phenomena. Instead, I seek to focus on the method used to generate, harness and utilize magickal power in a manner that is easy to understand and objective enough for others to use them with consistent results.

First of all, magickal energy is movement of some kind within sacred space. Movement generates magickal energy when the conscious mind is attuned to subtle and spiritual phenomena. Magickal energy is best perceived and manipulated when one is in the proper mental state, the kind that meditation and simple breath control can produce. So the first step is learning to become competent with alternate states of consciousness, mastered through the basic processes of asana (assuming a comfortable posture), prana-yama (fourfold breath counting technique), and perhaps even some mantra work, such as the ubiquitous mantra AUM. Performing these techniques, one should focus the mind strictly on what is occurring - in other words, to be a witness to what is occurring within the body and the mind, but to avoid and side step distracting thoughts and emotions. Performing these techniques as a meditation session will produce a refined state of consciousness that will allow one to perceive subtle and paranormal phenomena.

Learning to attune to the subtle will assist one in being able to sense phenomena that normal conscious states would typically omit, and it will allow one to perceive magickal constructs and sense magickal energies.

From this foundational state of consciousness, as produced by the meditation session, one can then perform actions that will produce magickal energy. So what are these actions that one can perform? The key is that they all are a form of movement - and I have listed them here:

  • Circumambulation (around the sacred space or consecrate magick circle)
  • Slowly turning in place (dervish dance)
  • Sacred dance (alone or with a small group)
  • Ritual actions (drawing lines of power, etc.)
  • Breathing techniques (advanced forms of prana-yama)
  • Visualization - building mental images (moving the mind)
  • Sacred sexuality.

The symbolic analogue representing magickal power is the union of the archetypal masculine and the archetypal feminine. So this could symbolize the joining of Light and Darkness, Life and Death, the Yang and the Yin, the Lingam and the Yoni, or the joining of a god and goddess. From this state of union, all power and energy proceeds. This is how visualization alone can generate magickal power, since one would visualize this sacred union of opposites.

Techniques of using magickal power have a fourfold progression, which begins with the generation of magickal power through one or more of the above methods, qualifying, focusing and imprinting the energy, intensifying it to a climax and finally, releasing the energy.  This fourfold pattern, taken from the beginning point to the place of release is called “resonance”, because it represents a process of both iteration and intensification. However, when you think about it, this process sounds a lot like the human sexual cycle, too. And indeed, it is quite significantly analogous. Perhaps this is why sacred sexuality has always been an important part of the practice of ritual magick.

So, looking at the above concepts, it would seem that magickal power, as defined in the energy model of magick, is a very important tool in the repertoire of the practicing ritual magician. Like any tool, the more it’s qualified and defined, the more effective it will be in performing the tasks that the magician wants it to do. Generalized power is less effective because it’s not defined enough to be able to accomplish a specific goal. The more specific the goal, the more defined and refined should the accompanying magickal energy be to achieve it.

How do we qualify magickal power? There are a number of ways of doing this, and the following list of four qualifiers represents the most simplistic ones that could be used. Obviously, there would be as many as there are opinions about magick in general - it’s up to the mastery, creativity and genius of the practicing magician. For now we can consider the following four qualifiers.

Four Elements (Fire, Air, Water and Earth) - these are expressed through the artifice of drawing in the air the invoking pentagram.

Shaping - magickal energy is shaped using ritual structures - based on the points in the magick circle (or other mechanisms). In my system of magick there are eleven points - the four cardinal directions, the four cross-cardinal directions, the nadir, midpoint and zenith in the center of the circle. From these eleven points I am able to produce a myriad of prismatic energy structures, such as the pyramid of power, the vortex, the tetrahedral gate, the inner circle, the step pyramid, and numerous others, used singly or in combination. While the system of magick that I use makes extensive use of shaping the energy in many different forms, systems of Tantric yoga also have an elaborate system of classifying energy and moving it through the body.

Vectoring - energy direction - typically either widdershins or deosil, but also ascending and descending.

Gender - mostly masculine or feminine, but sometimes, neutral.

So these are some of the additional points that I brought up in my workshop on Elemental Magick. To get the full insight and the techniques of deploying the magickal structure of the Octagon, you would have to attend this class and receive my opinions and thoughts on the matter. However, I think that I have given enough here, combined with what I have said previously in this blog, that you would probably be able to put together your own ritual to raise, imprint and release an Elemental power.

Frater Barrabbas

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kriya & Tantra Yoga are the Foundations of Ritual Magick

I have just completed level one and two of the intense series of programs learning to master the art of Kriya and Tantra Yoga, as taught by Richard and Antoinette Asimus of the Tantra Heart organization. They follow the teachings of the Satyananda and Bihar schools of Kriya and Kundalini Tantric Yoga. The ultimate founder of this line of yogic practice is Mahavatar Babaji, who brought it out of obscurity and assembled this system in the mid 19th century, to be passed on to others. Babaji’s life and revolutionary practices were brought to public notice by Paramahansa Yogananda’s book “Biography of a Yogi,” which has given worldwide recognition to this spiritual path. You can find a link to the Tantra Heart organization here

During these sessions I was taught a very rigorous system of daily and periodic practices that focus on formulations of asana, pranayama, mandala, mantra and internal visualizations and actual physical exercises with the seven classical chakras. The basic premise of this regimen is that the lower four chakras, covering the area of the root, genitals, solar plexus and the heart, need to be greatly empowered and mastered before one is ready for enlightenment. The root chakra (Mooladhara) is the key to the whole process, for that is where the Kundalini serpent slumbers and where the focus of the discipline begins and ends. I can’t reveal too much more without violating my confidential obligations to my teachers, but what I have discovered in this process is not only something that I feel is very important to share, it must also be greatly emphasized and integrated into the whole of the discipline of ritual magick. I believe that without it, the obtainment of enlightenment in the practice of ritual magick may not only be much more difficult, but perhaps even impossible.

In my previous writings I have emphasized the requirement for a basic practice of meditation, which is asana, breath control (simple forms of pranayama), contemplation and the use of simple mantras and mandalas so as to aid the practitioner in learning to master the mind and deliberately cause to occur altered states of consciousness or even ecstasy. However, Kriya and Tantra yoga take this simple practice and add to it a greater degree of complexity and internal control, articulating a spiritual system that is based on an elaborate variation of the energy model. What this does is assist the operator not only to master higher forms of altered states of consciousness, but also to build up a complex relationship between the mind, body and the spirit that ultimately leads to the highest states of consciousness that one can achieve and maintain. If this advanced practice is integrated into a full practice of ritual magick, then the operator will not only master the inner self, but also the various domains of spirit as well as the material plane. Thus I believe that a fruitful combination of these techniques can forge a magickal practice leading to complete enlightenment and union with the Deity.

How is this integration accomplished? How does a practice of Kriya and Tantra yoga fit into the practice of ritual magick? Are they truly complimentary or do they somehow contradict each other? These are important questions, and ones that I must seek to answer in order to prove the premise of this article - that Kriya and Tantra yoga are the key to ascendancy in regards to the practice of magick. These are, of course, just my opinions, but they are neither original nor am I  stating them for the first time. Aleister Crowley was a great advocate of adopting an entire regimen of eastern yogic practices for the sake of building a foundation for magickal practices. Many others have also made this point, but some have focused specifically on the practices and philosophies of Tantric yoga, incorporating certain physical practices into an ancillary system of sex magick. The author, Donald Michael Craig, with his book “Modern Sex Magick” has done a truly remarkable job of integrating Western practices of magick with Eastern practices of Tantra and Kriya Yoga, and I would highly recommend everyone purchase and read this book. Such writings and their associated practices represent, in my opinion, the backbone or foundation for any truly serious practice of the high art of magick.

I will now attempt to answer the above questions and seek to explain how these forms of yoga can readily fit into a full and complete system of ritual magick. It has always been my intention to incorporate these practices and disciplines into my practice of ritual magick, since I believed that they were an integral part of ritual magick, even though I had put off truly engaging with this study until now.

For my part, I have always had problems with individuals who have seemed to espouse sex magick as a kind of trendy practice, yet who not only lacked a fundamental knowledge of sacred sexuality, but who also lacked a strong working knowledge of ritual magick as well. If one is going to practice sex magick, then one needs to fully understand sacred sexuality and all of its disciplines and practices as well as having a deep and committed practice with ritual magick as well. One should be something of an accomplished adept at both before engaging in such practices.

However, to master the art and practice of sacred sexuality, one can and must study and practice the disciplines of Kriya and Tantra Yoga. These studies and practices can be started while alone and not engaged with any partner, but ultimately, they will bring the magician to a point where working with a partner and a lover can produce the greatest and ultimate achievement. So let us get to the basic definitions and compare Tantra yoga with the practice of ritual magick.

Kriya yoga is aptly defined in the following manner. Notice that some of its tenets appear to overlap the practices and beliefs of Kundalini Tantric yoga.

“Kriya Yoga: Kriya  means action  and Yoga  means integration. Kriya Yoga [emphasizes] integration of separative consciousness (generated by unceasing movement of thought) with an [awakening] (that is, a non-elective holistic attention free from mental [fragmentation]) through actions of perception and not through the activities of [conceptualization].

Kriya deconditions and sets the seeker free from the past karma. It transforms fundamentally the gross ego-centre of the seeker into a subtle individual uniqueness which also includes universality. It brings harmony with the wholeness of life by piercing through the ignorance of the ways of self. It is a unique combination of Hatha-Raja-Laya Yoga. It settles the seeker in his natural state in which his body receives instructions only [from] glands and Chakras.”

Tantra or Kundalina Tantric Yoga is defined somewhat differently than Kriya yoga, but there is an overlap between them, particularly in the area of the focus and use of the six chakras. However, Tantra seems to be more like an eastern version of magick, since is breaks with traditions that adhere to either the Vedic texts or the world-renouncing restrictions of traditional yoga. Tantra means literally “weaving”, which denotes that practices and techniques are woven and melded together to form a complete practice. I have taken the following quote to succinctly define Tantra yoga.

“Tantra is an accumulation of practices and ideas which is characterized by the use of ritual, by the use of the mundane to access the supra-mundane, and by the identification of the microcosm  with the macrocosm. The Tantric practitioner seeks to use the prana (divine power) that flows through the universe  (including one's own body) to attain purposeful goals. These goals may be spiritual, material or both. Most practitioners of tantra consider mystical  experience imperative. Some versions of Tantra require the guidance of a guru.

In the process of working with energy, the Tantrika, or tantric practitioner, has various tools at hand. These include yoga, to actuate processes that will "yoke" the practitioner to the divine. Also important are visualizations of deity, and [verbalization] or evocation through mantras, which may be construed as seeing, listening internally, and singing power into a stronger state within the individual, resulting in an ever-increasing awareness of cosmic vibration through daily practice. Identification with and [internalization] of the divine is enacted, through a total identification with deity, such that the aspirant ‘becomes’ the Ishta-deva or meditational deity.

Tantrism is a quest for spiritual perfection and magical power. Its purpose is to achieve complete control of oneself, and of all the forces of nature, in order to attain union with the cosmos and with the divine. Long training is generally required to master Tantric methods, into which pupils are typically initiated by a guru. Yoga, including breathing techniques and postures (asana), is employed to subject the body to the control of the will. Mudras, or gestures; mantras or syllables, words and phrases; mandalas and yantras, which are symbolic diagrams of the forces at work in the universe, are all used as aids for meditation and for the achievement of spiritual and magical power.

During meditation, the initiate identifies herself or himself with any of the numerous Hindu gods and goddesses representing cosmic forces. The initiate visualizes them and takes them into her or his mind so that she or he unites with them, a process likened to sexual courtship and consummation. In fact, some Tantric monks use females partners to represent goddesses. Also, in left-handed Tantra (Vamachara), ritual sexual intercourse is employed—not for pleasure—but as a way of entering into the underlying processes and structure of the universe.”

First of all Kriya and Kundalini Tantric yoga are more centered in the physical reality of the body and the material world and typically don’t require a complete renunciation of the material world, similarly, neither does the practice of ritual magick. These systems of yoga have as their foundation the same identical point - the focus of all the practices use the root chakra as their place of origin and source. Thus, the more baser qualities of material existence are neither avoided nor renounced. They are instead integrated into the greater spiritual practice. This is also true of the practice of western ritual magick, since the magician is not only required to function in this world through self-mastery, but also to master the spiritual domains that lie beyond it.

The main difference between Tantric yoga and ritual magick is the explicit use of complex ritual and ceremony to cause changes in the material world - to draw the domain of spirit into tighter union with the material world so that there is no difference. Otherwise, they are, for the most part, identical variations of the same ultimate practice. Ritual magick is a western oriented spiritual discipline, and Tantra is an eastern oriented one. However, there are techniques in Tantra and Kriya Yoga that can and should be incorporated into the practices of ritual magick, since they represent processes that appear to have been lost over the ages. These techniques are godhead assumption, intense practices of asana, pranayama, mantra and mandala techniques that utilize the seven chakras to build (or become aware of) a powerful spiritual facsimile of the human body. The objective of ritual magick is to become one with the Godhead, but through the artifice of sacred sexuality, this achievement can be completely realized and experienced through a material artifice - the union of lovers and the fusion of their spiritual bodies. No where else is this discipline taught in such a succinct manner, so one must assume that it is important for the ritual magician to expropriate these practices into one’s personal magickal regimen.

If we consider the basic tenets of Kriya and Tantra Yoga merged into the basic practices of the ritual magician, the overall methodology would produce a powerful foundation to the practice of the spiritual discipline of ritual magick. That foundation would consist of the following practices and techniques.

  • Body based methodologies (asana) and yogic isometrics
  • Expanded concentration exercises
  • Full body breathing
  • Variations on Cobra Breath (Ujjayi breathing)
  • Fire Breath orgasm
  • Yoga Nidra
  • Mantra and Yantra practices
  • Use of various strategic Bandhas (Moola, Uddiyana, Jaladhara)
  • Visualized chakric exploration and integration
  • Meditation and deep contemplation

In addition, the above practices would be performed as part of a daily regimen that I call the comprehensive meditation session, which can last as long as an hour a day or more.

Along with these foundational practices, there would also be liturgical practices (saying Mass, assuming the Godhead, performance of rites of sacred sexuality and engaging the cyclic mysteries of the Moon and Sun) as well as periods of devotion and spiritual service. The practitioner would also spend time to research, study, perform self analysis and receive some kind of periodic peer review. All of these practices would represent the foundation of a ritual magician’s regular work.

From this foundation there would be the progression caused by periodic transformative initiations, which would fully engage the practitioner of ritual magick through the performance of specific ordeals. These ordeals would represent specific challenges at incremental levels of difficulty that the magician would undertake to precipitate and encourage rapid spiritual growth.  

If the foundation represents the roots of a symbolic tree, then the process of performing ordeals and experiencing transformative initiations would be the trunk of this tree. From the trunk there would be three branches, each representing a level of comprehension and accomplishment more greater than the previous, but each branch would be fully incorporated by the practicing magician. This means that mastery of one branch does not rule out its continual use as one seeks to master the next branch. These three branches are the three practices of ritual magick - earth based magick, theurgy and evocation, and the higher ordeals beyond them.

Earth based Magick - these practices include Elemental Magick, Planetary and Zodiacal Magick. A knowledge of several forms of divination would also be included, particularly Astrology, Tarot, I-Ching, Geomancy and Runes. Earth based magick is a methodology that is required to help the magician fulfill the basic material requirements for self-actualization. Once that material base is established, then the magician will have need to resolve issues and take advantage of material opportunities from time to time. This basic methodology of magick is never really outgrown, since there is always something that one must resolve or develop in regards to the material world.

Theurgy and Evocation - invoking strategic and various spirits from within the over-all spiritual hierarchy. This would include an immersion into the domain of the spirit and receiving intimate communications and direct transformative experiences. Ascending through the hierarchy of the inner planes would represent specific initiatory processes that the magician could deliberately establish. There could also be a slight overlap between certain spirits and Earth based magick.

Higher Ordeals - the workings of Lesser and Greater Archaeomancy, the progressive levels of the invocation of the Bornless One, Abramelin Lunar Ordeal, Tetra-sacramentary Temple workings, ordeals of Stellar Gnosis and the Abysmal Transition. These higher ordeals are covered as part of the rites and ceremonies of the inner order of the Order of the Gnostic Star.

All of these various levels work together to formulate a comprehensive and profound system of practice - one that is assured of obtaining total mastery of the self, one’s world and samadhi, enlightenment or illumination. So now, we begin the work of integrating all of these practices into a single spiritual and magickal discipline. I will continue to report my progress as I gain greater mastery of the techniques of Kundalini Yoga and integrate them into my magickal practice. I have only recently begun this path, so there is much more for me to learn and develop in the days and years ahead.

Frater Barrabbas

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Autumn of Golden Mysteries Revealed

Daring Dreams over Coffee Spoons -
To this beginning
Early and late - we remember last night’s sigh
the breath of finality - a rebirth
We are random avengers, looking in pools of letters
to make a word - “The Word”

And yet, after fresh openings, the Door closes, solid
We remember - the Dragon Smoke, Morning stars, and
split second smiles;

The Day Breaks -

S.M. 1972

This article reveals the events and the time that was probably the most creative in my life, when I was aided by a dear friend who helped me build the foundation of the magickal system that I use today. The most amazing thing is that what happened was almost 38 years ago when we were only around 17 years old. We were young, self-absorbed, ill-informed and idealistic. We truly believed that anything was possible. We thought that we were on the edge of the greatest discoveries ever sought in the world of the occult, magick and witchcraft. How silly it all seems today, except that some of what we discovered was quite revolutionary and unique. It led to a whole new way of looking at things that was quite revelatory. We were romantic fools, but we were definitely on the path of discovery. This is the story of that time and how those ideas shaped the magician and occultist that I am today. I apologize in advance for length of this article, but I think that you will understand that such a tale requires quite a bit of telling.

I was triumphant and full of my own power and self-worth. I was definitely on quite an ego trip, but one that was founded on my youth, inexperience and ignorance. This was after I had become a witch and a worshiper of the Goddess, when the mysteries of magick and occultism began to reveal themselves to me. I had recently and apparently successfully cursed Norman Slater and his group, and stood down his teenage allies at my highschool. Nothing seemed impossible at that point in my life. It was June of 1972, the days were warming in the quiet industrial town of Racine, and I was attending my last days of school at the large traditional high school before transferring in the autumn to Walden III. I was having to put up with a fair amount of harassment from my peers for being an outspoken proponent of witchcraft and occultism, but I took it all in stride. The gateways of the mysteries were finally opening up to me, and I stood at the threshold of the greatest time of my life, and sensed it in a strange and prescient way.

One sunny warm afternoon, I found myself outside and across the street from the school, hanging out with a bunch of students, sitting on lawns, the sidewalk and the curb. We were outside on a break between classes and it was probably one of the last days of that semester. All of the testing and grading was completed, so there wasn’t much left to do except being idle and dreaming about the coming summer vacation. It was so warm that coats and jackets were discarded, some boys stripped down to their t-shirts, and everyone was absorbing the sun and its friendly rays. In this golden and brilliant day, I was sitting with some acquaintances when a boy with dark tousled hair, dark haunting eyes, and the rudiments of a moustache and goatee approached me. Apparently he know who I was, even though I had never seen him before. We began to talk, but it soon became obvious to me that this individual was an ally of Norman Slater, a person so obviously odious to me that it boggled my mind how anyone could still be associated with him. As I said, I had occasional conflicts with members of this clique ever since I left them and denounced Norman as a fraud and a psychic vampire.

So this dark haired young man engaged me in conversation with the intention of besting me in an argument, or somehow convincing me that I was wrong about Norman (and everything else). He introduced himself to me as “Scott,” and then began to criticize my involvement in witchcraft and magick. Of course I blew him off as an ignorant follower of an evil man, so we sparred back and forth for a while, much to amusement of those who were around us. Scott obviously got frustrated with this witty repartee and the fact that I seemed so deadly certain of what I was doing and engaging in. He left me with a warning, and even drew a couple of pictures for me of a vision that he had in a note book. He tore out the page and gave it to me, and I still have it to this day. The picture consisted of some arcane symbols with the poorly spelled Latin words “In hoc signo vinces” (in this sign shall you conquer), but the symbol looked more like a double serpent (or two S’s) than a cross. There was also a drawing of a tree with a circle of light around its center, and an ancient burial mound with steps spiraling around it. He also told me to watch my back and said that he had an important message for me, something like “Ignorance is the weapon of total destruction” - I said that I had to agree with that. I guess the irony was lost on him and he got up and walked away. I thought to myself, “Ye gods, another follower of Norman Slater, shall I ever be rid of them?” I looked forward, even more fondly, to being transferred to a new school, since then I might get away from those who persecuted me.

That was my first encounter with Scott Malueg. He was someone who would become an important and creative friend, although at the time, I had dismissed him as one of Norman Slater’s lackeys. I knew all too well how charismatic that man could be and how he could abrogate a person’s self interest to his own. He was dangerous and a threat to the community, and I had just met another person who was enthralled with him. How sad that few seemed to realize how much of a fraud and a menace this man was, although unknown to me at the time, the press was beginning to have a field day with Norman. Public doubt was starting to form a very negative opinion of this man and his various absurd pronouncements. However, I was more concerned with my activities that summer and my pursuit of all things having to do with witchcraft and magick.

Although Scott attempted to put me down, it was obvious that he was also quite fascinated with me, making it a very strange situation. I was not sad at leaving my old high school, since being the class “witch” had a lot of disadvantages, including being the center of a lot of gossip, ridicule, spite and even fear. Some of the messages written by my fellow students in my year book show how some had a great deal of pent up hostility towards me. I wasn’t understood by my peers, and only a handful had any respect for me or my chosen path. I had felt that Scott was another person who was not understood, that there was more to him than one might suspect. But then I promptly forgot all about that brief encounter, since it was summer time, and I was celebrating the forthcoming “young man’s leisure.” 

That summer was the first and last year that I played a contra-bass bugle for a what was known as a drum and bugle corps. This organization was called the Racine Kilties, and they dressed up in uniforms consisting of full Scottish highland regalia, including wool kilts, wool uniform coats, tams, horse hair sporrans, tartans, argyle socks and tall white spats. Outwardly we seemed like a well behaved and regimented group of young men - it was an all male group. There were probably something like a hundred of us in the corps. Yet underneath the mask of well behaved young men, we were a band of juvenile delinquents who drank, smoked pot, fornicated, cussed and swore, sang bawdy songs, and behaved in a generally lewd, rude and bad manner. Some of us were engaged in petty theft, arson, broken windows, damaged property, and fist fights with the local punks. We traveled to several major cities that year, competing with other corps and basically spreading mayhem wherever we went.

This year, the corps traveled to Boston, staying in the highschool gym in a small town called Lynn, a gritty nearby blue-collar suburb. It was within walking distance of Salem, so I and a few others walked up Highland Avenue to that town looking for any witches or remnants of them. Needless to say, I was quite disappointed. Not only was Salem something of a pathetic tourist trap, the notion of witches and witchcraft was for them an historical oddity. They told everyone that there really weren’t any witches, it was just part of the hysteria of the times. I also discovered that there were no psychic traces of witches anywhere, although in a town nearby I did get a tingle when we went into an old church that was also a museum. Supposedly, one individual who had escaped prosecution in Salem came to this community, where he became a leading citizen and was buried in a place of honor in that church. I felt that maybe he was also really a witch who had actually had the sense to escape being tried and executed in Salem.  Anyway, it was an interesting diversion, and I must admit, I probably looked fairly conspicuous in my black shirt with the belled sleeves and the handmade copper witch amulet around my neck. I wore that amulet in full display whenever I could get away with it. Yet the experience taught me that witches were not common nor easily found, so I would have to search for a long time to find a group.

After I had become a witch that Spring, a copy of June John’s book “King of the Witches” was lent to me from a classmate who was in my English class. This was a biographical piece done on the life of Alex Sanders, the leader of a faction of Gardnerian witches who later became known as Alexandrians. I quickly read the book from cover to cover and discovered in the appendices a list of the supposed laws that witches must follow. These, of course, were the “Ardanes” that Gardner had supposedly wrote. These laws were subsequently adopted by Gardnerian witches, of whom, Alex Sanders was a faction leader. As I read over the laws, I quickly realized that I had already broken quite a number of them and this knowledge quite distressed me. But I soon was communicating with the Goddess herself and she told me that the laws were more like guidelines, written with a more antiquated definition of witches and witchcraft. I took her word, but the experience had made me somewhat uneasy, being a public witch and having read that witches are supposed to be completely secretive. However, it made sense when I discovered how underground a lot of witches were even in the present times - it was part of the law that initiated witches were supposed to adopt.

Also during the summer, I learned how to drive automobiles and got my drivers license. My father allowed me to use my brother’s old motorcycle, an aged Harley Davidson Sprint, a rather muscular small engine bike. I used this to travel everywhere, including driving to my favorite occult book store in Milwaukee, Sanctum Regnum. I was now something of a regular customer, although typically I had little money for much more than some incense, scented oils or self igniting charcoal. I could not afford any of the fascinating jewelry, tools, weapons, tarot cards, or the fabulous array of hard covered books. I probably spent most of my time ogling all of the stuff that I couldn’t afford but would one day buy, and chat with the assistant store manager, Jeannie. She was an exceptionally attractive woman who knew quite a lot about the occult, but she was not, unfortunately, an initiated witch. Nor could she tell me where I could contact any, since traditional Wicca had not yet come to Milwaukee (that would change in just a couple of years).

Jeannie was short, petite, had a dark olive complexion, dark expressive brown eyes and long dark brown hair that was naturally curly. She was very hip and in fact was kind of a hippy witch, so I was charmed by her and secretly fell in love. Jeannie liked me and would spend time talking to me when the store was empty of patrons. When it was busy or when Fritz was around, I would discretely spend time browsing the store instead of trying to talk to her.

Sanctum Regnum always smelled inspirational and wondrous to me, the air gently clouded with church incense. There were candles burning and small spotlights shining down narrow beams of light on the merchandise. The music that was usually playing was either Paul Horn’s “Inside” or John Renbourn’s “Sir John Alot.” The store was one large room that had many shelves and glass display cases. It even had a respectable collection of herbs for sale. The walls and ceiling of the store were painted black, and the shelves were black with red trim. The carpet was a fashionable shag with alternating black and red threads. I loved that place, since it seemed like the only place where I actually felt at home and was accepted.

I recall the first time that I ever came into the store, since what happened was quite humorous. I was walking around as if I had died and gone to heaven, looking at all the very cool stuff. The books really fascinated me, so I would spend time looking them over, even if I often couldn’t afford to buy any. I was also in awe of any of the customers who showed up, since I thought that any of them might be serious occultists who might either consider to teach me or know someone who would. So sometimes I would carefully and discretely engage a fellow customer in conversation. I had learned to be discrete because the first time that I was there I walked up to the book shelf marked “Kabbalah” to talk to two long haired mysterious looking men who had an air of magick and witchcraft about them (they were dressed as the male version of hippies). I recall blurting out to these two men, “Say, do you know anyone who is practicing magick or witchcraft around here?” They had been talking quietly together about some book one of them held open. One of them asked me, “Do you know of the Kabbalah?” I, of course, had to reply honestly, “No, I don’t, but do you..” Before I could continue, they both looked at me, looked at each other, then turned their backs to me and pretended that I didn’t exist. I heard one of them quietly say, “too bad.” My words died in the air and I felt fairly humiliated by my obvious ignorance. A little later, after the two had left the store, I complained to Jeannie about the incident, which she thought was pretty funny, but she consoled me after seeing that I was hurt by being shunned in such a manner. I was mollified by her kind and compassionate words, but from that point onward, I was much more discrete and careful about approaching other customers in the store.

During the summer months I also worked a lot of magick, often late in the night, since I didn’t have a part time job and had a lot time to kill, even though I was regularly busy practicing with the drum and bugle corps. I was also listening to a lot of the music from the Moody Blues rock group. I purchased their records, one at a time, which allowed me to get deeply into the lyrics and the music of each one. I managed to cobble together some rituals that seemed to work, although my knowledge of what to do operantly with magick was pretty slim. I do recall going to the beach after working magick and staying up all night, and watching the sun rise over the lake, an almost unlimited expanse of sky unbroken by trees or buildings. It was a very incredible and idyllic time. Each day brought me another small step further in my quest to master the occult and the paranormal, and I began to have many powerful dreams, visions, with my head full of the words of the Goddess and the voices of other spirits. I had been able to influence others to have psychic experiences and now I was starting to have them myself. So the summer finally ended in a blaze of youthful glory, and now with the end of Labor Day, I returned to school, but this time, to a totally different kind of school - a free school.

My first days at this new highschool were sort of chaotic, since the building hadn’t had any classrooms conducted in it for some time. The teachers and staff were still ordering the room furniture, figuring out where things were supposed to go and gathering the supplies to teach. Each of the several teachers got their own classrooms, which were large, wood paneled and antiquated. Desks were moved in, but so were stuffed chairs, sofas and tables. Nothing was new, all of the furniture either came from the school district warehouse or from people’s discards. Some small round tables were old wooden cable spools converted into tables. None of this mattered to us, since we all had a hand in helping to build the different class environments.

There was also room for many of the students to carve out their own private studio space. I was one of the lucky ones, since I had claimed a very small office with a door on the end of the second floor. The room was too small for a classroom and wasn’t needed for anything by the school. There were a number of small rooms, other old classrooms that were divided up, some enterprising individuals literally patching together their own walls out of old lumber, door frames, walls, etc. We used whatever was at hand. My studio had a small old couch, tables and chairs, where I could set up my painting easel and my paints. I almost immediately started painting pictures on some of the walls, particularly in the break room in the basement, which had a couple of vending machines and even an old jukebox. I felt like a great creative power had been unleashed in me and was now taking root in this wonderful old place, this golden time of my youth - the last year before I was expected to act and function as an adult.

The thing that made all of this even more pleasant and interesting was that Scott and I were reacquainted through a clique of teenaged artists, musicians and writers. I am sure that Scott and I met in the break room where I was busy painting my messianic and visionary insights on the walls. We talked a lot and the previous hostility between us was completely gone. Because student allocated space had to be shared with at least one other person (or more), Scott and I decided to share the studio I had staked out. Scott was also a painter, and boasted that not only was his father a noteworthy artist and painter, but he knew how to paint in oil paints. Scott’s artistic skills were nearly as good as my own, and he was very much interested in everything mystical, magickal and occultic. We were quite different from each other, but there were strong sympathies between us.

When Scott moved into my studio space, he also introduced to me his clique of friends, who I found almost as dear to me as they were to him. We were a very eccentric group of young men and damn proud of it as well. Scott, with help from his friends, had carted away an ornate window sill and a beautiful mahogany inside door from an old mansion being demolished a few blocks down on the lower south side of town. We tore out a section of the wall of the studio next to the actual door and installed the sill and the door, which fit perfectly. None of us knew how to install a door with hinges, so we just nailed the door to the sill. Since the sill was white with ornate pillars carved on either side, and a cornice above them where they joined.  I got up on a chair and painted the word “Asylum” in black script on the cornice. We nailed small wooden pedestals on either side of the title where we occasionally would put long stubby candles. However this was done rarely, since the building fire ordinance prohibited it. The studio, known as the Asylum, would become infamous as a place of art, poetry, incense, heavy occultism, and even a secret place to discretely smoke marijuana and attempt to seduce young women classmates. I also used it as a place where I attempted to learn to play the flute, a feat in which I quickly made much progress, reinforcing my opinion that all things were possible.  

As I got to know Scott better, I discovered that he was an incredible psychic, an immensely creative individual and a great catalyst for me. If I were to make a movie about this period of my life, then a young Johnnie Depp would play Scott, because he was darkly handsome, brilliant, quirky, creative, old-world-ish, a notable poet and painter, dope and cigarette smoker, suave and savvy, unwashed, long-haired, attacking life with a devilish flair and hopelessly romantic. I was impressed with Scott, and I believe that he was suitably impressed with me. By this time, he had long been kicked out of Norman’s group for some infraction or perceived impiety, so we were now on equal terms. Scott was very curious about my magickal practices, beliefs and my newly acquired faith of witchcraft. Whatever pretenses Scott held allowing him to belong to Norman’s group were easily discarded.

Scott and I began to spend a lot of time together. We slept over at each others house (although my large and private room made staying at my place much more convenient if we wanted to work magick), we traveled together on my motorcycle, we even went to Sanctum Regnum together, where I introduced him to the very cool store and to the nonpareil, Jeannie. I was amused when Scott declared that he thought that Jeannie had interests in him - both of us knew that she was far out of both of our leagues. However, Jeannie seemed to like both Scott and myself, although she often had problems with the level and frequency of our magickal experiments, telling us that we were going to get into trouble with the things that we were doing. We believed that we were destined to push all of the envelopes as far as occult practices and witchcraft were concerned.

All the time that Scott and I spent hanging out together, we were undistractedly seeking to engage in heterosexual relationships with the various young women in the school. There was nothing of a sexual nature or attraction between us and neither of us had any thoughts of anything sexual happening between us. We behaved as two very close platonic male allies in nearly everything. Of the two of us, Scott was decidedly more hip and cool. I still wore white t-shirts under my outer dress shirt and I looked quite conventional. My hair was not very long (yet), but I was attempting to grow sideburns and a moustache. Scott was also attempting to grow facial hair, but only succeeded better than me because his hair was black, and mine, a reddish brown. I had found a cheap derby hat in some junk store, so I was wearing that to try to look more cool. Scott attempted to help wherever he could, but one thing that I couldn’t seem to adopt was smoking cigarets. Scott smoked a strange brand himself, it was Marlboro green, a highly mentholated cigaret that he claimed helped make him high.

I can recall that at one time he carefully pushed the tobacco out of one of these cigarets and reloaded it with finely ground marijuana. We tried it out, and it was rather pleasant, except that the filter probably did too good of a job filtering out some of the marijuana smoke. You see, Scott also turned me on to drugs, particularly marijuana. He even officially organized my very first session of getting quite stoned. I had previously attempted to smoke pot, and either had failed to inhale correctly or the stuff was of poor quality, so I didn’t get high. I told Scott that I thought that marijuana was over rated. He, of course, scoffed at that claim and proceeded to prove me wrong.

I recall that I crammed myself into the back of a white Volkswagen bug along with a couple other friends, including Scott, and his friend who owned the car, named Pierce. Pierce was a trust-fund brat, so he always had a lot of money. He was tall, distinguished, had long disheveled blond hair, dressed very hip and knew quite a bit about occultism and magick.  We walked out of school (something that was oddly permissible), and then we were driving around the lower south side of town, sharing a couple of carefully rolled joints of marijuana. Needless to say, I was quite intoxicated by the drug, and it was even stranger when we came back to school, higher than a kite, somewhat disruptive (there were classes going on) and ended up congregating in the small studio - one group of happy stoned young men.

Although some of the students had access to quite a variety of different drugs, acquiring anything cost money, except when a few students would generously share what they had when socializing. So this new experience was something that didn’t happen very often, but when it did, it was enjoyed and used in a creative burst of insights, visions and dreams remembered. I must admit that this drug did a great deal to aid me in my creative efforts. Scott was an old hand at this kind of abuse and preferred it to alcohol. I had become quite discouraged from abusing alcohol due to my antics of the previous summer with the drum and bugle corps, where I had experienced a number of sessions of becoming drunk, all of them producing feelings of nausea, vertigo and general physical discomfort. I preferred the affects of marijuana, since I was able to maintain a high degree of self control without the debilitating side effects. Marijuana was also able to produce mild hallucinations and feelings of euphoria - a very valuable tool in the practice of ritual magick, particularly since I possessed only a rudimentary knowledge of yoga or pranayama.

I remember one of our first sleep overs, where Scott had spent the whole weekend at my place. We had rearranged my bedroom so that we could have as much floor space as possible for practicing ritual magick. Two single beds, divested of the head, foot boards and wood frames, became two very streamlined beds that were close to the floor. These beds were placed at the west and southern ends of the room, a desk had been removed from the south end, and a small frame couch was placed at the edge of the eastern side of the room. We used dyed old black sheets to completely cover the twin windows in the north and installed colored lights in the ceiling light fixture. I preferred blue and red lights, later the blue became a black light. The strange colored lights brought strange hues to the room, which now was dark during the day as well as the night. I couldn’t paint the walls since they were a beautiful stained knotty pine, but that didn’t matter since the room was often dark with either colored lights or candles and incense burning. We worked magick that evening, I shared with Scott my most intimate connection with the Goddess, and much to my delight, he experienced the same thing, hearing her in his head as well. The other strange thing was the synchronicity, everything that I experienced, he also experienced, as if it were an objective reality, which I suppose on one level, it was.

Anyway, during the night when we were supposed to be asleep, Scott and I experimented with astral projection. I had complained that I was having problems getting out of my body, and Scott said he was a virtuoso at astral projection, naturally. We decided to both lay on our respective beds and go into as deep a trance we were able to manage. I don’t believe that either of us had any pot to smoke, so the experience was drug free. I went into a deep trance, as usual, feeling my body stiffen and vibrate as if my whole body had gone asleep. I was wide awake, but deep in a free floating self induced hypnotic trance. I felt a pleasant rocking, a sibilant hissing in the background, but all was dark around me. This was the limit to what I normally was able to experience when attempting astral projection. Then I was aware of someone standing over me, although I couldn’t see them. I felt my hand rising up, reaching out, and felt a hand take mine, and pull me up and out of my body.

I found myself standing before my bed, holding the hand of my friend, Scott, who was also out of his body. We both saw our physical bodies laying in their beds, deep in trance. I felt joyous and exhilarated - I was actually out of my physical body and in my astral body. Scott said to me, “See, that wasn’t so hard, sometimes you just need a helping hand.” I knew then that I would be able to repeat this experience again without Scott’s help, but I said to him, “Okay, now what do we do?” To which he replied, “Hell, anything we want to! We can fly, go anywhere on the earth, or travel to places that we’ve never seen before. There are no limits, except the ones we create for ourselves.” So, to really test the boundaries of what was possible, we both took off from the floor of the room and flew through the ceiling into the outside world, where we floated above the street, looking down at the street lights.

Then we flew high into the sky at an incredible speed. The night time world with its stars, crescent moon and velvety black sky just melted away to reveal a completely different world - a small beautiful tended garden, full of golden sunlight that I had never seen before. Scott seemed to know this place, but it was completely new to me. Then to demonstrate how the astral functioned, Scott said to me, “In the astral, things always respond to our attentions in very strange ways.” So he knelt before a beautiful red rose and cupped it with his hands, saying, “What a beautiful and exquisite rose, so like a poem it is.” The rose then grew in his hands to be so huge that we almost seemed engulfed by it. We both laughed at this strange occurrence, and the rose then shrunk back again to its normal size. I was astonished! Everything seemed as protean and mutable as the dream world of Wonderland that Alice had experienced more than a century ago. We then set off from the garden, looking and scrutinizing at everything along the way until we discovered the most wonderful place, a location in the astral plane that I would visit many times afterwards.

This place of wonder was like a large wooded area in a park. There were no overgrown weeds or bramble bushes, everything seemed cultivated and tamed. The trees and even the various flowers and plants were all placed with an eye towards perfected aesthetics. It was an extension of the garden that we had previously been in. This area was circular, even though the borders of the periphery seemed to have no end. In the center of this wooded glade was an old fashioned gazebo, or what later I would have described as a round Grecian temple with beautiful white marble pillars and a round copula type roof. Vines grew in this temple spiraling up the white pillars, there was a statue of a naked woman in the center, and it was completely open to the air on all sides.

The glade had a mysterious quality to it, since the rounded area was divided into quarters, and each quarter had its own season. Thus when one would walk as we did around the periphery of the glade, some distance from the central temple, we would traverse the four seasons fully manifest. We would be trudging in new fallen snow, then cross a boundary and everything would be blooming as in spring, then another, into a blissfully redolent summer, and then again, into a golden, red and brown brilliance of high autumn. It was the grove of four seasons, owned, as we later found out, by the Goddess herself. Nor did we have the place to ourselves, since there were others who would occasionally find themselves there as well. We also found nymph like creatures there, which we could sport with and even make love to, although they acted as if they didn’t like those kinds of attentions. They were putting up with us because we were favored by the Lady whom they must obey.

When we finally returned from this seemingly endless excursion, we both woke up from our deep trance states a few hours later, limbs stiff, chilled and tingly. We rubbed our hands, feet, faces, legs and arms to get the blood circulating again. Then afterwards, we talked about what we had experienced. Being the skeptic, I questioned Scott about what had happened, and he knew everything that I had seen, heard and experienced. We had a completely shared astral projection, so I knew that it had been real. I was very happy to have had my first astral adventure, and there were many more to follow that one, since we started to make it habit for him to sleep over. In just a little over three months, we had spent over half the number of weekends together. Sometimes we would go over to his house, but that happened only rarely. Scott’s parents were very eccentric and very kind, but they obviously did not have a lot of money. Although there were signs that Scott’s family had been wealthy at one time, one of their cars was an older model Jaguar, and some of their furniture and artwork was expensive. They rented an old house with only three small bedrooms for themselves and four children. Scott was the only boy, the rest of his siblings were sisters. Scott spent most of his time, and even slept, in the attic where he had his studio and a make shift magickal area. He gave me an old wooden box from that attic, probably an old tool box, which I took home, cleaned up and painted a bright orange. I decorated it with some of the Altantean sigils and occult symbols, and used it to house my magickal treasures. I still have this box to this day, kept under one of my altars.

Perhaps the most important magickal tool that Scott introduced to me was the use of animal totem keys, which were painted icons on wood of a particular colored animal. He drew the first for me on paper, which he called “the Card of the Red Fox”, which was modeled on a kind of Tarot card. After I had transferred the design to wood and painted it, Scott had me smear the image of the Red Fox with my own blood, establishing a link between it and myself. We called this animal totem key an “ally,” which we got from the books written by Carlos Castaneda. This powerful ally became my spirit intermediary in all things. Soon we had developed a whole system of different classes of allies, and I helped Scott design his ally totem key, which was the Golden Fox. Other friends that we would meet later would be given painted totem keys and brought into this magickal system as friends and associates. I would also give them a new magickal name, based on the magickal language that we were creating. With our magickal allies, we were able to extend our power and influence things remotely, but we were missing other pieces of the puzzle and couldn’t make as much use of this magickal tool as we might have had we been initiated into a magickal tradition. As brilliant as any idea was, we lacked the knowledge, experience and discipline to make that idea into an effective and workable magickal component. It would require years of study, research and experiments for these various ideas to be made truly useful.

Scott and I also traveled around together on my motorcycle, although sometimes I would get to use my father’s car, a red AMC Gremlin. He would ride on the back seat and we would travel to various places. Often we would meet up at school and then we would either go to his place or to mine. I can remember he and I, after one really powerful night, riding my motorcycle in the early morning countryside past manicured lawns of some very expensive estate homes not too far from my home. We drove around the curving roads past the newly built large homes of the Nouveau riche and dreamed that we would some day own such mansions when our magickal powers came into full manifestation. I recall the soft golden light of dawn, the sounds of the motorcycle, the wind in our faces as we sped along the unmarked asphalt road, the seductive and aromatic smells of autumn. There were idyllic small lakes and wooded enclosures, almost a bit like the places we visited in the astral world. This was the golden time for me and for Scott, a period that would be all too short, but would stand out, at least in my memory, for a lifetime.

One of the trips that we made, although for the life of me I couldn’t understand why, was to see Norman Slater’s old garage flat in Kenosha and maybe visit him. When we got there, Norman was not at home, and some neighbor told Scott that Norman was in the hospital. So we drove into town and stopped at the hospital, and went up to Norman’s room to visit him. He graciously accepted our visit at first, but I could tell that he was not too happy to see me again, nor was he pleased that Scott and I were friends. After a few words and exchanged fake pleasantries, he dismissed us both, since he was obviously not feeling very well and had little energy. Scott felt sad at Norman’s condition, while I was quietly exultant. Since Scott had been removed from Norman’s inner circle for some reason and I had obviously left as an enemy, the fact that we together saw Norman, sick and frail in his hospital bed, would have marked Scott as someone that Norman would never have had anything to do with in the future, that is, if there was a future. I felt a bit responsible for Norman’s condition, but I wasn’t at all sorry about it. Scott’s reasons for visiting Norman was so he could tell him all of the outstanding things that we were doing, but I think that he understood now that Norman had no interest in anything that we were doing. That was the last time that Scott ever mentioned anything about Norman to me or anyone else. 

Halloween came, and after some intense magickal workings, we traveled together to the school’s masquerade Halloween party held at the old Decoven Foundation. We were still dressed in our makeshift robes and stinking of incense and scented oil. We made quite a strange impression on everyone. Then there was the time that we put on our robes and traipsed around the hallways of the school, uttering words of power and drawing Atlantean sigils on the walls. We were quite the pair of crazy teenage magicians. Few either understood what we were doing or cared enough to find out. But we didn’t care one bit, so self absorbed were we in our magickal works.

Scott had a close friend that we hung around with whose name was Grant. Where we were occultists and artists, Grant was something of a mad scientist. His older brother was also a painter and was attending the same school as we were, but we tended to favor his younger brother, who was more hip and accessible to us. Grant’s older brother not only didn’t like the occult stuff we were doing, but also didn’t like our artwork either. He was probably more serious and mature than we were, but we thought that he was too stiff and conventional. In addition to Grant, there was also another person that I had met at Walden III, and this was Bob. Bob was also very creative and quite fascinated with what Scott and I were up to. He also began to hang around with us, and he, unlike Scott or myself, owned a car.

Scott and Grant had a friend who was also an occultist named Robert Day and he was probably a year older than me. His magickal name was Cefrian Esquirial, and being an ex-Roman Catholic, he was proud of having written the Pope asking to be excommunicated. He, of course, never received a reply. Scott and Grant said that we looked like twin brothers, but I only saw a superficial resemblance. I had a great time meeting this fellow and talking about the occult with him. He was also a poet of some ability and had coined the phrase, “The Poet, assassinated on the Street of the Alchemists.” (This had been a line that Scott had used as a signature by-line for himself.) He graciously lent me a few books on the Qabbalah, most particularly, Gareth Knight’s book “Practical Kabbalistic Symbolism” in two volumes. I devoured these books, read them cover to cover probably more than one time. From them and a couple other books, I quickly managed to introduce the Qabbalah into my magickal workings, which helped to give them greater depth and authenticity.

One personal secret that Scott and I shared, which was really amazing, was a personal prophetic interpretation of the lyrics from the Jethro Tull album, “Thick as a Brick.” This album had just come out that summer. Scott said that the lyrics were a prophecy about our personal lives. That in less than ten years, the world as we knew it would end. We were humble sorcerers now, but by then we would be hailed as prophetic kings by our own people. We particularly liked the lyrical phrase, “The Dawn Creation of Kings, has begun,” since we saw ourselves as two of those mythical, magickal kings. We avidly listened to and interpreted directly into our lives many other parts of the lyrics of that strange concept album. We were on a messianic ego trip, which seemed quite natural, since that is what Norman Slater had fed both of us not too long ago.

This reinterpretation of music lyrics as prophecy was all mysterious, strange, astonishing, and also very enjoyable. Additionally, I was a great fan of the Moody Blues, rhapsodizing with the lyrics of “Nights in White Satin”, “Are you sitting comfortably,” “Question of Balance”  and “Voices in the Sky.” We were drunk on our heady occult experiences and singular interpretation of reality. It fostered a creative maelstrom that allowed us to build an entire magickal system from nothing but dreams and visions. Yet it also promoted a complete lack of objectivity or any kind of down to earth sensibility. We tried to share this with our friends, but only Bob, and to lesser extent, Grant (who Scott called “Biggles”), seemed to understand and appreciate what we were going on about. Other friends and acquaintances probably thought that we were quite mad. I remember the science teacher at school had taken quite an offence at our various pronouncements and wrote on the wall in front of his classroom “There is no Magic!”, signed with his name. We wrote next to it, “There is no [teacher’s name], signed Merlin” - this of course was amusing to many, except the science teacher.

Our teacher of choice at Walden III was named Gerald Kongstvedt, although we respectfully called him Mr. Kongstvedt. He was a tall, portly man with a full white beard, who looked like a combination of Socrates or Santa Claus. He was the English teacher emeritus and we thought that he was the wisest man on the planet. We often conferred with him and talked about our discoveries. He indulged us, was polite, and attempted to steer our exuberance into more academic pursuits, and in this he was actually quite successful - to a point. We all began to study a lot about myth, ancient religions, archaeology, even some philosophy. Gerald would often say to us, misquoting the original literary quote, “When ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise. So drink deep from the Pyrean Spring of Knowledge, or do not drink at all.” We believed this to be fundamentally true and made it our excuse for getting ever deeper into our occult studies.  

Within this highly charged and creative environment, Scott and I became something like magickal playmates, so without any schooling or idea of what we were about, we created a completely unique system of magick with astral domains and inner worlds (the Amiasatik Archetypal Kingdoms), a strange system of sigil-like writing, and a strange magickal language consisting of unknown words of power. It’s mythic core consisted of the wisdom of lost Atlantis, and we truly believed the magick that we were discovering was the lost magick of that ancient world. We added to it some smattering of Enochian, Ancient Egyptian and borrowed ideas and lore from other magickal systems. Scott came up with a powerful technique of pranayama, although I never knew where it came from. It was a system of extreme hyperventilation that he called the Lotus 7-Breath, because it was started by inhaling the fumes of Lotus scented oil.  We would use it to cause our minds to immediately go into very a deep trance and shoot out our astral bodies into the astral world.

The final version of this created magickal system that we had contrived actually worked quite well and we were much pleased with ourselves! The system of language that we used was called Tykleotonis, which was used to group the strange language and writing systems under a single discipline. The system of magick that we used was called Eniemorphukiatus, the magick of Lost Atlantis. The full and mature version of this system was never completed and eventually it was abandoned for more practical lore. But I still have many dozens of pages of a writing in an unknown tongue, and rituals that were long on sigils and verba ignota, but very short on substance and structure.

Scott could automatically write in this sigil like language whenever the impulse struck him, and I used a variant of Enochian, which I had extracted from a book that had plagiarized Aleister Crowley’s writings on Enochian magick (Liber vel-Chenok). I managed to pick up this sigil language myself and we proceeded to produce reams of it, believing that they had an inherent magickal power, even though we had no idea how to decipher them. After a number of months, I finally came up with a system to determine what the sigils meant, but by that time, Scott had left town and was living in far away Mexico.

This incredible time of dreams, visions, magick, astral projection, and the learning of everything about occultism had to end sooner or later, since it just couldn’t be sustained. Reality had to enter into this arena, whether we wanted it to or not. What happened next really caused me to crash to earth, almost bursting the dream. That whiff of reality came abruptly when Scott told me that he and his entire family were moving from Racine to faraway Mexico. That move was immanent, due to occur in January or February, and would take my close friend and magickal playmate away from me permanently.

I was devastated, at least for a short time. Scott had helped me to start a very engaging process of creative magickal speculation that had given birth to a new magickal system. However, being the young selfish prick that I was, my disappointment quickly gave way to a kind of glee; for I now could continue this work without Scott, and it would be all about me instead of having to share it with another competing male. Also, because my studies had greatly deepened my understanding, with my readings in the Qabbalah, astrology, classical mythology and anthropology, I had begun to really fill out my occultism with some real authentic information. It made my work much more objective, creative and intelligible to others. Scott was not as driven as I, and he didn’t spend the time or work at learning new things. Scott preferred to be unfettered, untutored and free to speculate in any direction he chose, regardless of whether someone else had written about these same things. Scott had no problem reinventing the wheel if his creative urges so pushed him. I wanted to know what was already known to establish a foundation that other occultists would both understand and find intelligible. So, because of this difference, Scott and I had already branched onto different paths. We would never see eye to eye ever again, and our bond of friendship was ended, even if we celebrated each other and pretended otherwise for years afterwards.

So over the years, I continued on my path of growing and mastering the arts of magick and witchcraft, and Scott dropped out of occultism altogether. Though we are just barely a year apart in our ages, Scott found a different path and a completely different life. Even when I went to visit him in the summer of 1974, and again in 1977 in the Colorado Rocky Mountains (where he and his family had eventually moved), he had not changed much in all that time, whereas I had been briefly in the military, graduated from college, and had been fully trained and initiated in a coven of witches. Scott wasn’t interested in the occult beyond a kind of superficial trendiness, and that didn’t change until years later.

When spirituality became a serious concern for Scott, he instead got involved in a fundamentalist Christian church that blended messianic end-times with survivalism. Scott refused to pay taxes, keep his drivers license and license plates current, and even disposed of his Social Security Number because he believed that the government was an agent of the Anti Christ. He lives today almost like a squatter with his wife and several children in western Colorado, constantly on the run from local law authorities and living purely on a cash only basis. Occasionally the law catches up with him and he ends up in court, attempting to keep his freedom while blatantly disobeying the law wherever it appears to conflict with his faith. Even his sons have gotten into trouble because they were nonconformists living in world that could barely understand them. So our lives couldn’t be more different and our paths are quite distinct.

Yet, I honor the times that Scott and I spent together, during that golden autumn of 1972, when we shared a mutual dream, vision, and the crafting of a new methodology of working magick, one that I would work and perfect over the next 30 years. It was probably the most important time of my life, and one that I have celebrated, thus ensuring that I would remember it almost as if it had happened yesterday.

Frater Barrabbas 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Controversy Over Demons

Well now that the blogs are all in a tizzy over Goetic evocation and demons in particular, I have decided to state a few of my own opinions on the matter. Over the past few months I have learned a lesson from adherents of the Left Hand Path, that it’s all too easy to judge a group of spirits by their class, even though like human personalities, they are actually unique individuals, and really need to be judged as such. To say that all Goetic demons are of a certain nature is to make a generality that is at best, inaccurate, at worst, a kind of prejudice. I admit that I have fallen into this trap, because magicians tend to categorize classes of spirits in order to place them into a greater context. However, all models and systems of categorization are heuristic devices that help one to understand what actually is a diverse and very loosely organized body of spiritual entities. Knowing a spirit’s alignment and determining its place within a spiritual hierarchy and class is an important tool for understanding and identifying that spirit, but its true identification can only occur when one has actually either invoked or evoked that spirit through some kind of magickal operation. This means that the old grimoires can’t be completely trusted in regards to how they describe and qualify specific demonic entities.

I am not going to name any names from the individual authors of these blogs, of course, since everyone who is commenting on this thread are experienced magicians in their own right. Magick can easily get out of control, but most of the time when this happens the magick just fails to really produce any verifiable effect. It’s also easy to blame magickal operations for being the cause of catastrophes, such as a house catching on fire, having an auto accident, causing the breakup of friendships or love relationships or any manifestation of bad health. Those of us who are committed and consistent workers of ritual or ceremonial magick can tend to paint our realities with too much literal and metaphorical magickal phenomena, since that is what we are particularly focused on.

Each situation requires a thorough examination, but I have found more often than not that mundane causes and chaotic accidents are usually to blame for the supposed “bad luck” that does occur from time to time to magicians. To blame one’s magick for disasters is probably all too dramatic and pretty difficult to refute or prove erroneous. When a magician makes such a statement they are no longer able to really objectively examine the facts. If my magick produced disasters that I had to suffer through (and I could objectively prove that it had indeed been the cause), then I would probably cease all magickal work for a while until I had discovered and corrected the flaw in my practice and operations.

I have often found that when accidents occur, it was a lack of magick that allowed them to happen without any warning or indication that something bad was going to happen. Also, magicians tend to believe their own tales of power, maintaining a kind of mythic perspective on the reality of their lives because it's more “magickal” to do so. But all human beings succumb to accidents, sickness, disasters and other unplanned events as well as unmitigated stupidity, and magicians are not immune to these occurrences either.

Getting back to the topic of demons, as a class they represent the unconscious forces and intelligences that exist both within and without human beings. However, some of them will impact and react with the unconscious mind of the operator in what could be judged as a harmful experience or an unleashing of an unconscious issue or complex. Whether or not a demon can have this effect depends on the quality of the unconscious mind of the operator and the exact personality of the demon that is evoked. Individuals who have a strong self definition and who have worked out many of their unconscious issues will probably not have the potential for encountering a demon that will produce in them a harmful experience. The older and more experienced the magician, the more likely that life itself has worked out a lot of that individual’s internal issues and complexes. However, everyone has an Achilles’ heel, so if one were to serially invoke all of the demonic spirits, eventually one would be found that produced a bad experience. The supposed bad experience could also be turned to one’s advantage, especially if it were used to work out that issue or complex it triggered, allowing it to be completely resolved.

Possession and obsession can be hazards that anyone who traffics with spirits could potentially experience. These are the risks that one takes to perform invocation and evocation. Either state can occur even with supposedly friendly spirits, depending on the psyche of the operator or one who engages in such experiences. Possession trance is not actually the same thing as being possessed by a spirit that one is invoking or evoking - being ridden by a godhead is quite different, even if the experience was not sought and produced unpleasant side effects.

In my unpublished treatise on Invocation and Evocation, I define these two terms in the following manner. I know that my definitions may be quite different than what others might believe or even how these terms are classically defined. Some may argue that spirits have as much a physical body as a human being. However, in my experience, spirits have a very different physical makeup and structure than a human being. The fact that they can assume multiple forms or even be completely invisible should give magicians a clue as to their actual physical quality.

“The primary difference between human consciousness and the consciousness of a spiritual entity is that the human egoic distinction between the self and not-self boundaries are sharply defined, based as they are on the physical body; whereas ego-less spirits do not have the same sense of distinctness and uniqueness. This is because a human being, like all living sentient physical beings, has a highly developed identity that is based upon that physical body. Human beings are only partially aware of their connection to other beings within the ocean of consciousness. The spiritual dimension of a human being resides within his or her higher self, wherein the experience of the unity of consciousness is primary. A spirit is aware of its union with all other conscious entities and uses its personal identity only as a means to focus itself so that it may temporarily function as an independent individual; otherwise it is only a participant in the undifferentiated mass of unified consciousness.”

“As stated above, a human being relies upon a highly evolved identity in order to function in the material world. A spirit uses an identity only for the purpose of functional differentiation, otherwise, it has no material identity. The danger to a human being from a spirit is the potential for a loss of identity or a loss of will. How this is accomplished is that the spirit may assume the mundane identity of the human magickal operator, or the spirit may enchant the operator, causing delusions and impassioned fantasies. When a spirit is said to have assumed a human's identity, what is meant by this is that it has entered that person's sphere of personal awareness and taken control of the normal egoic functions, thus taking possession of the individual's whole conscious being. Human beings may also experience delusions when a spirit is able to seduce their will and thus become far too influential, causing an obsession to occur.    

A spirit has an amoebic ability to attach itself to or completely engulf the consciousness of a human being. Because a spirit exists in an undifferentiated state of consciousness and has no restrictive physical component or material body, it does not understand the primitive necessity with which human beings require the maintenance of a distinct and unique awareness of self. Therefore, a spirit may possess or obsess a human being without harm to itself, but with dire consequences to those unprepared for an exposure to a spiritual being. However, a human being who has developed to the point of having an awareness of self that resides in the world of Atziluth would be immune to possession or obsession, but he would seem to have no personally distinct identity either. But this immunity would only include spiritual avatars and would not even include those who are even considered spiritual adepts. So therefore, you should take great care in dealing with spirits and assume the paramount responsibility to guard yourself from obsession or a loss of soul.

When a person has been possessed, he no longer functions as an individual, but is clouded and obscured by the consciousness of the spirit. Yet his own state of consciousness is twisted and distorted by a lack of normally occurring cohesive structures that are used to express his individuality in a coordinated manner. What remains is a fragmented self which cannot focus and is guided by whatever momentary impulse captures the imagination. The only remedy is an exorcism, which consists of withdrawing the interfering spiritual influence through an intercession with the ruling God-form, and causing the healing of the individual through purification, the restoration of the self-image through trance techniques, and an enforced period of spiritual fortification and retirement from all occult practices.

Obsession is easier to understand, but actually more difficult to rectify than possession. When a person becomes obsessed, she must be removed entirely from the source of her obsession and given other tasks to occupy her. All occult activity must be halted for a period of time until the danger of a relapse is past. Then the individual must undergo self analysis until the source of the obsession is discovered and its relevant issue resolved.

Both possession and obsession occur when a person's psychological issues are over stimulated. This causes the self to become vulnerable and then, subsequently, overwhelmed by the shadows of the unconscious mind that seek to extinguish its frail identity. Therefore, the disciplined adept continually deals with his personal issues and never attempts a magickal operation when depressed or emotionally distraught. Also, great care must be used when selecting others of lesser spiritual achievement to assist in an invocation. The adept is solely responsible for the welfare of his assistants, and he should discriminate against those who are psychologically unstable or unsuitable for withstanding exposure to supernatural phenomena. The performance of the magickal procedure for assuming a God-form ,which acts as a magickal identity for the magician, is the best means of safeguarding the self from possession or obsession. When you assume a God-form, you have taken upon yourself the protective grace and authoritative control to both direct and deflect the influences and powers of a spiritual entity. This is because the God-form is the primary archetype that governs the spiritual world and is, therefore, used in exorcism to extract unwanted spiritual influences. So long as you can maintain the connection to his God-form, a spirit cannot cause either possession or obsession.”

Since I have actually witnessed a few individuals who were possessed and even performed exorcisms, as well as counseled individuals who suffered from some kind of spiritual based obsession, I think that I can tell when someone is suffering from these maladies or not. I would judge that nothing that I have read so far in anyone’s blog would indicate to me that someone has succumbed to either obsession or possession. These are very serious maladies, and they usually require a fair amount of time for not only healing and recuperation, but also to avoid such an occurrence in the future. Once inflicted by one of these maladies, it can make it more likely for the victim to be inflicted again.

So, being balanced, emotionally and psychically clear as well as having powerful allies and intimately associated godheads are important if one is to ensure that neither possession or obsession can occur. I also tend avoid individuals who have a natural capacity for obsessive compulsive disorder, since they are prime candidates for obsession.

I think that these opinions and ideas will hopefully not only explain my perspective on the manner of demonic evocation, but also that possession or obsession can occur with any spiritual entity or process, regardless of whether it is supposedly positive or malefic.

Frater Barrabbas

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

More Dark Tales from the Home Town

I thought that I would tell the tale of my spiritual and magickal origins, since this is probably one of the most interesting and compelling of all of my biographical material. Everyone wants to know how a person got started in his occult and pagan path. Where he learned about these subjects that he now uses almost reflexively. To understand my origins is to understand where I have come from and perhaps, where I am ultimately going. So here is the tale of my origins, full of truth, myth, some exaggeration and coloring due to the passage of time and many retellings. I hope that you find it informative and insightful - perhaps knowing me a little better than other occultists who would rather keep their life story a strict secret. I apologize in advance for the long length of this article.

Probably one of the most interesting stories in my repertoire is the one about my spiritual and magickal origin. One could say in a mythic sense that I came forth out of darkness, selfishness, a lust for personal power to combat an obvious self loathing and low self esteem. But I was just a goofy teenage witch learning about the gods, magickal powers and who my magickal friends and enemies were, all around the same time. I had no coven to guide me, or High Priestess or High Priest to teach me. In fact I had few books or other written resources and only an individual older friend who was also a non-initiate. I was about to begin my path as a kind of Trial by Fire. All of this occurred almost 38 years ago, back in what was for me a simpler and more optimistic time of 1972.

That was the year that Richard Nixon was president, the Vietnam war was escalating with U.S. aircraft dropping bombs in Laos, Cambodia and North Vietnam. There was an intense protesting of the war worldwide, others supported the war and the status quo, and it seemed as if the unity of the nation was in jeopardy of being pulled apart. It was a time of the radicalization of both the political left and the right, but for someone who was not yet old enough to be drafted and whose father was extremely pro military and a Republican, I was untouched by these issues. For me, the battle ground was between a newly risen pagan religion of witchcraft pitted against the rising of an evangelical social conservatism. Those times were different than now, but in some ways, they were eerily similar.

Having recently turned seventeen and messing around with the occult, paganism and magick, I was oblivious to much of these social upheavals. I was self absorbed and deeply involved in not only discovering who I was, but also searching for spiritual and personal meaning. Mine was a life bereft of spiritual meaning, since my father was an avowed agnostic who believed that religion was a blight on modern existence - one that should be eliminated. My mother was a gentle soul who had no intellectual taste for theology or philosophy, preferring to accept what society had established for spiritual truth. I was different, because I neither accepted my father’s beliefs nor did I accept the social norms for religious faith and practice. I heard a different drum beating than most of my contemporaries, but that was not either unusual or peculiar, since the late sixties and early seventies was a time of questioning orthodoxy in all fields and areas of life experience. It was a time of discovery and rediscovery.

Outer space was being conquered, but inner space was also being explored in a manner previously unknown. Science was poised to discover the inner powers of the human mind, or so we thought. Ancient disciplines, like astrology, alchemy, magic, yoga, tantra, and witchcraft were being re-examined with an open mind, and science was introducing a radical pharmacopeia that opened the mind to new dimensions. Even psychism and ESP were being studied and taken very seriously. It was the infamous period of the late sixties and early seventies, and although I was too young to participate in what was happening to the youth culture of that time, I was very much aware of what was going on around me in that regards, since it potently answered the emptiness that I felt within me. So I tried to be hip in my own fashion, seeking to grow up and pass myself off as an adult as quickly as possible. Some parts of me grew up very quickly, other parts remained quite adolescent. All of this jarring, uneven growth accompanied with an exploding self awareness was typical of the times.

Previously, when I was 15 in the summer of 1970, I had foolishly experimented with LSD, having acquired a small portion of a powerful dose of drug impregnated after-dinner mints, obviously based on the famous Owsley’s Acid. This dose had been freely given to me because I had helped some friends acquire this drug through a close intermediary. I had no idea what I had ingested, since I had not yet even experienced being stoned on marijuana. LSD was a thousand times more potent, as I soon discovered. I probably had gotten the maximum dose of a thousand micrograms, and the hallucinative  state lasted for a total of 13 hours. I managed to just barely cope with what I was experiencing, being left alone in my bedroom with no one to console or guide me. It was a terrifying experience, but I weathered the storm of complete dislocation with reality for hours.

I pretended to be sick so that my mother wouldn’t know what had befallen her son, making up the excuse that I had succumbed to a bout of mild food poisoning - nothing serious enough to warrant seeing a doctor. I managed to reassure my mother that all was OK, even though I weathered a storm of visual images that were totally unprecedented. I must have been made out of tough psychic stuff, because I made it through this experience without managing to loose my mind entirely. It was one hell of an initiation, and one that I was not interested in repeating for some years in the future. What it taught me was that reality is not iron clad or objective, it is in fact fluid, subjective and determined by many interpretations. The experience left permanent scars on my mind and in my visual capability - I saw tracers, auras and other odd phenomena from that moment onward. The occult world of the paranormal had been opened to me, and I was unable to close it. I stumbled around for a few days afterwards recovering from this powerful experience, but the impact on my mind was profound and permanent. This experience was probably responsible for most of my occult interests and the pursuit of all things paranormal.

The early seventies was a period when there was a lot of cheap and inexpensive books and magazines published about the supernatural, occult, mysticism, ESP, astral projection, hypnosis, and many other related topics. I was fascinated with everything having to do with the paranormal, and as I began to travel around with a marching band and later, a drum and bugle corps, I discovered some books here and there in the various cities that I visited. These occasional and rare acquisitions began to build up my repertoire of studies. When visiting a museum in Chicago, I purchased a book written by Gerald B. Gardner, but unfortunately, there wasn’t much that was useful in that book. It was full of history but contained no rituals for me to use. I also began to learn how to hypnotize other kids and how to put them into a trance state. I became something of a menace as far as other adults and parents were concerned, since I seemed to be able to elicit paranormal experiences in others. To the kids around my age, I was a pioneer and a hero. I finally got to show some basic hip intelligence and creativity that elevated my esteem in my peer group.  I was also very keen on astral projection and attempted many times to acquire this experience for myself, with limited results. I seemed more capable of helping others to experience these phenomena rather than get myself to experience it directly. I graduated from studying about paranormal phenomena and psychism to harder forms of occultism.   

Then I began to seriously explore the occult, but to facilitate that quest I needed more books. I attempted to borrow books on the subject from the local library, although it revealed little that was useful, since all of the good books seemed to be checked out and never returned. But finally, with a little cash and some digging around, I began to buy cheap books on the occult. Later I managed to buy some books that required some real savings to purchase. My book store of choice was an occult book store located in Milwaukee, on 615 N. Milwaukee Street, called Sanctum Regnum. Although I was chronically broke and had little money for books, I was inspired by the spooky accouterments of this store, right down to the throne in the back that opened up at the pull of a rope, to reveal stairs leading into a cavernous basement, containing an office, a ritual area and niches for Tarot readings. The owner of this store, Fritz, was also rather impressive and bombastic, looking and even acting a lot like King Henry VIII, with the red beard and corpulent body, and even dressed up to fit the part. His assistant was a lovely slender brunette named Jeanie, who was more accessible and friendly than Fritz, and who gave a lot of good advice and counsel to me.

The first two books that put me on the road to piecing together my practices of magick were Paul Huson’s Mastering Witchcraft and Lady Sheba’s Book of Shadows, and then later I managed to buy DeLaurence versions of the Greater Key of Solomon and the Goetia of the Lamageton. There were a few other books that I used extensively, such as June Johns, The King of the Witches, and books by Israel Regardie, W.E. Butler, Gareth Knight, Dion Fortune, William Grey, and of course the master of them all, Aleister Crowley. I also got a copy of Aradia, the Gospel of the Witches by Charles Leland, Witchcraft from the Inside, by Raymond Buckland, and Witchcraft Today, by Gerald Gardner. As I stated previously, I was disappointed by Gardner’s book, since it had no ritual information that I could use. But the books by Paul Huson and Lady Sheba provided the necessary information for me to cobble together a workable magickal system.

At this early time, I also met an older woman who became my friend and ally in occult matters. She was in her early 20's, while I was just a mere teenager. She had been practicing as a solitary witch for a few years and was looking in vain for a coven to join, since Racine was not a hotbed of occultism and witchcraft. I think her name was Gail. She had a crazy younger sister named Marlene who was lustfully obsessed with me. I must admit that I found Marlene’s attentions not at all to my liking, so realizing that she was obviously overly zealous in her pursuit of me, I tried to avoid her wherever possible. Yet her good and wise older sister had mercy on me, kept me out of reach of her younger sibling, and refined my nascent abilities in self-hypnosis and trance mediumship. She also had a car and occasionally took me up to Milwaukee to visit my favorite occult book store. I can remember her waiting for me after school in her car and then we would drive the thirty or forty miles from Racine to Milwaukee on the newly minted interstate freeway system to visit Sanctum Regnum.

I was learning to become quite a competent psychic. Once I mastered how to enter into a trance state, I then learned how to run a seance that really worked. This feat both intrigued and scared the hell out of my school chums. I remember being invited to attend parties of the more hip members of my school for the sole purpose of running seances. One evening in particular, I performed a seance that produced remarkable results. A couple of people automatically went into trance and channeled the spirits of dead people. I even had some difficulty getting one of the individuals out of the trance state that he had entered, which did kind of startle me somewhat.

The fact that I was able to successfully produce paranormal phenomena made me at first quite popular. Then my classmates, after having had an exposure to these phenomena, became afraid of what they were experiencing. For me, it was all a powerful validation of what I had believed possible. It made me into a young man who possessed occult powers, to be feared and respected for having such arcane knowledge and abilities. I also demonstrated a virtuoso talent for reading Tarot cards, even though I had not read a single book on the subject. An admirer gave me my first Tarot deck, and I began to give accurate readings almost immediately. However, after I started studying the Tarot, I become a much better card reader, and this of course was the case for the rest of my nascent talents. Training and practice helped to discipline and refine what I was able to do.

My witch friend often criticized me for pandering after mental powers and magick spells, using them to build up my reputation and attempt to control others. I also had the gall of calling myself a witch and not even really practicing the religion. Yet my excuse was that I was a callow youth who seemed to know everything and did not listen to anyone, not even Gail. I suppose that I aroused her maternal instincts, since she did seem willing to indulge my abilities and cater to me. I can recall that she encouraged my abilities as a trance medium, giving me Nettle tea to aid in this activity. She never attempted to be anything other than my friend, guide and confidant, so to this day I have doubts that her interest in me was anything but platonic and idealistic. I was also the only person that she knew who was also interested in witchcraft and magick, so I was someone that she could talk to about these topics. As I said, occultism was rare in my native town.

At the same time, I also began hanging out with a group of people who idolized a local Christian psychic named Norman Slater, a resident of Kenosha (sister city of Racine, my home town), who was in his late twenties at that time. Norman taught a class on the paranormal at the local technical college in Kenosha county. From this venue Norman began to build up a reputation as a powerful psychic, however, he kept his real beliefs and intentions to his inner circle. When I met him, he was entering the peak of his career and already had quite a large following.

Norman was a peculiar man. He was short of stature, solidly built, and had what almost seemed a hallow of blonde curly hair, like some Roman general. His eyes were a blazing blue and seemed to often look through one. He would often squint his eyes at a person, looking above their head to examine their aura, which he was supposedly able to read like a book. He was not a remarkable man in regards to his height or appearance, but he did have a powerful charisma. His one defect was an odd speech impediment that made him mispronounce words in a peculiar manner. He also had a kind of squeaky voice, but this did not detract from his charisma. I suspect that Norman was of good Anglo-Saxon stock, but his background was obviously lower middle class, since he didn’t seem very educated or eloquent. His mannerisms actually seemed crude and almost a caricature. Norman said nothing about his past or his level of education. This part of his life history he kept quite secret, for obvious reasons - he wanted to be a man of mystery.

Within his inner circle, Norman was more outspoken. He preached that his psychic powers had revealed to him the actual source of the mysteries of the Bermuda Triangle. He believed that this mysterious location contained the remnants of the lost civilization of Atlantis, which is what he thought was causing all of the strange phenomena. Norman not only believed that he knew where these ruins lay in the shallow depths and coral reefs of the sea around Bermuda and Florida, but he had convinced others that these amazing discoveries could be found if divers were to explore areas that Norman would point out. Word of these revelations began to circulate the community, and Norman began to talk about these ideas in public. For the average person, this was exciting news, of course, and Norman made himself the head of a group of people who were going to assemble an expedition to discover the actual physical ruins of the Atlantean civilization.

Norman was a truly psychic and charismatic man who had a lot of strange and possibly delusional ideas about himself and the world, but he was also something of a confidence man. He coldly used the gullible people around him, accessing their money, skills and support. These people wanted desperately to believe everything that he said. So he promoted himself as a great prophet, keeping them spellbound with amazing psychic prognostications. What psychic powers he did possess could not be reliably used in this manner, so he obviously compensated by unabashedly manipulating other people and situations. I believe that a lot of Norman’s abilities were used to charm the people around him, to gain the trust and unwavering loyalty of his followers. Of course, being fascinated by anything paranormal, I was also attracted to this man like a moth to a flame, even if his spiritual beliefs were contrary to my own.

Over time, it became obvious to me that Norman was only interested in becoming famous. Such fame and notoriety would allow him to get other people to financially back his various projects. Already, he had backers who were sending him to Loch Ness, Scotland, to locate and reveal the Loch Ness Monster. This project obviously took money and connections, which Norman’s followers had abundantly supplied to him. Other projects were also discussed, the one big one was the expedition to the Bermuda Triangle. Norman and his supporters formed a group of young men and women to be trained and certified as divers, who would also act as his sponsored fund raisers and labor pool for whatever else was needed. I attended an early meeting where this expedition was discussed, and was hooked! I wanted to dive in the tropical seas and help the team find the ruins of the lost city-state of Atlantis. We were all quite thrilled at being the advance group of a very special expedition - history in the making and seekers of adventure.

Although Norman was a psychic and had to promote psychism and paranormal abilities in human beings, he was very strict about what he considered to be acceptable areas of exploration, and other areas that he considered forbidden. Norman believed that psychism was a gift from God, but he steadfastly denigrated anything that even remotely appeared to be occultic or deviated from Christian doctrine. So, Norman was very rigid and sectarian. He didn’t like or trust anyone who was not deeply Christian, as he  himself affected a pious Catholic faith. He believed and preached that he alone was unique amongst men in regards to his gifts, and could therefore dispense of his visions and insights as he pleased.

Norman seemed to be always psychically sensitive, nearly omniscient, but of course, he was deceiving his followers about the true nature of psychism. Used alone, psychic sensitivities are generally unreliable, requiring other disciplines and techniques to make them a truly useful tool. I believe that Norman did a lot of acting and pretending to build up his reputation of being a great psychic. To this day, I honestly believe that Norman never questioned his abilities or critically examined his rather prophetic and messianic pronouncements. Nothing that he predicted later ever came true, but his followers were quite in awe of him and believed that the end of the world (as we knew it) was at hand. Norman was the prophetic messenger, combining the artifice of an evangelical preacher with a lay person with psychic powers. The real truth was that Norman was deceiving everyone around him, creating a kind of vortex of illusion and glamor centered around his person.

As it turned out, Norman became for me the ultimate example of a Christian hypocrite, representing all that I learned to despise in that creed. The irony is that Norman was exactly the kind of person that I had aspired to be - a man of power and mystery. Probably because of the similarities between us, Norman seemed actually fond of me. He felt it was his duty to teach me that I was really a wicked boy who needed to be converted to the ways of Christ and bathed in the blood of the lamb, or else shunned. I, on the other hand, was not so easily fooled, or so I thought. Yet I ended my adventure with Norman by becoming the pure victim and fool, but then turned things around and became the instrument of fate, indirectly assisting in his downfall. Truth and objectivity was Norman’s greatest enemy, yet it only took a short while for these powers to catch up with him, destroying his organization from the inside. Yet because I was such a sucker for anyone with extra ordinary powers, I sought to follow this man as well. Strangely, Norman became the very instrument that forced me to become fully committed to being a witch and a ritual magician.

My involvement with Norman Slater and his group and my penchant for working risky magick forced an event to occur that changed my life forever. I usually note this time as the point of my true conversion into the religion of witchcraft. It was at this time that I was finally and quite forcefully brought into the spiritual path of witchcraft, although how that happened was really something spectacular, or at least it was for me. It was a lesson that I had to learn the hard way. That lesson was this: that what you said about yourself and how you conducted your affairs must have some congruence if you were to remain intact while messing around with psychism, magick and occult spirituality. I didn’t understand that lesson. I also ignored the warnings that Gail gave me, thinking that I was somehow special, thereby being protected from my own stupidity.

I was fooling around with the Key of Solomon and the Goetia, trying to cobble together a cogent magickal system from these books. I even went out into the woods one evening in the summer of 1971 and attempted to invoke one of the Goetic demons. To my trance-trained eyes, I had even succeeded somewhat. Unfortunately, I forgot to use the magician’s triangle to constrain the demon, so he appeared to wander freely around, a giant ghost, inspecting the world and me, while I was trapped in my magick circle. I experienced a period of curious horror that lasted at least several minutes, although it seemed a lot longer. When the demon finally dematerialized, I hastily doused the candles, collected my regalia, covered my spoor and hastily left the area. But that evening’s experience did not teach me to stop fooling around with Solomonic magic, in fact it emboldened me, since the magick had indeed worked, albeit, in a dangerous and chaotic manner.

Discovering the Key of Solomon and the Lamegeton for the first time was an intellectual milestone for me, but I soon found the lack of practical ritual structures very annoying as well as the dearth of any kind of realistic instructions. Yet the talismans and sigils presented a great temptation for a young sorcerer to play with them, so it was only a matter of time before I got burned. I was ready to experience some real trouble in my life and for the first time, to taste true evil.

It was the spring of 1972, and on the night of April 11, I finally got blasted with my own magickal manipulations. I put together a session of black magick ceremonies that I performed for a few acquaintances who wanted to be amused by a magickal demonstration. I used a badly mixed system of new-age shamanism and hard-core Goetic magick. It produced a very nasty uncontrolled energy.

For once I was actually a bit afraid, particularly when one of the women in my group of voyeurs took an athame and tried to stab me with it. She was obviously tranced out, perhaps even mildly possessed, since her movements were stiff, slow and ineffectual. I was never really in any danger, but the incident unnerved me. I quickly caught her arm and removed the athame from her hand and put it back on the altar, telling her to sit down and behave, which she seemed to do, although with some obvious wild-eyed nervous trepidation.

This event was followed by another more frightening event. All of a sudden the candles were simultaneously and inexplicably extinguished. The nervous woman at that moment completely lost her nerve and briefly screamed. There was some fumbling in the dark to relight the candles and see what had occurred. The woman was sitting on the floor with a look of complete terror on her face. She babbled that she had seen something that looked like a demon, but to this day I don’t know what she saw when the lights briefly went out.

I was also quite puzzled by how the candles had gone out in the first place, since there were no windows open in the room and no one had detected any perceptible breeze or current of air. However, it seemed that I couldn’t proceed any further with the working, since whatever focus or raised energy had been developing had obviously and quickly dissipated. That scream had ended the magickal working right then and there. My acquaintances had experienced more than enough from my little demonstration. They were quite convinced that I was a very “far out” guy, but way too far out for their tastes. My demonstration did not amuse them, so they hurriedly left, never to return. (In fact, some of them actually sought to steadfastly avoid me, spreading gossip that I was a practicing Satanist.)

At that moment my friend Gail arrived to visit me, walking into my room while the participants were quickly stumbling for the door. I can imagine that she was somewhat amused by the looks of fear and paranoia that greeted her as she entered my room, being briefly jostled by those who were eagerly leaving. Soon we were alone in an awkward silence, amidst the obvious stench of incense and the artefacts of illicit magick. When she was ensconced on her favorite chair in my room, she remarked on how obnoxious the spiritual atmosphere felt in my temple area. I demurred at first to explain the situation, but she pried it out of me after a short while. I tried to laugh it off and even managed to amuse her a bit. She laughed, more at me than with me. Then she said, “You have much to learn, little one, and you dare a great deal.”

Then she bade me go into a trance to determine the nature of the problem. I did as she asked and discovered that I had finally created a profound spiritual crisis for myself, unbeknownst to me, the first of many. I was standing on a threshold, a kind of slippery slope. I had pushed the forces of my own duplicity and selfish lust for magickal power too far. I worked the powers in the name of the goddess, but denied her a reality in my life. I had two choices in front of me. I either crossed the threshold, paid the price for my foolish actions and went on as a true witch, or dropped my dark practices before I caused myself greater damage. I was hooked on working more magick, so I chose to become a real witch and to undergo the ordeal of death and resurrection, although I did not know what my immediate fate was to be. How strange it was, that the day was Palm Sunday, the week before Easter Sunday. Since I had abandoned the church, I was no longer aware of the spiritual significance of the season. I only later realized how strange was the coincidence of these two events.

As I went into that trance, I was pulled down very deeply into it, and felt as if I were falling into a great pit of darkness and desolation - it took a while for me to hit bottom, too. As I stood in the very bottom of that pit of stygian gloom, I saw the silhouette of a great black cat enter into my space. It had large amber eyes and a loud purring noise emanated from it. I did not feel comforted by the appearance of such a large cat, for I sensed from it a great menace. Then I heard an angry whispering voice and a silky dark presence came over me. The voice was feminine and the whisperings of her words sounded like the wind blowing dead leaves. This was my first encounter with the Goddess and she was quite angry, calling me a fool and an idiot.

I had allowed Norman Slater, a few weeks previously, to defame her by name (Goddess = Devil) without defending her, when he publically spoke in an auditorium to my whole highschool class, condemning all forms of the occult, especially magic and witchcraft. Afterwards, I was silent when it came time to ask questions or make remarks, being wholly mesmerized by those psychic powers. I was in Norman’s thrall and that is what angered the Goddess more than anything. The entire experience of meeting a deity, to feel it riding my body, was quite astonishing to me. However, before she departed, a period of psychic stasis was laid upon me, and I was cursed so that I would be unable to work any of my psychic talents for a week. Then I would experience the transformation that I had previously tried to avoid, becoming a true witch of the Goddess and thereby earn her forgiveness. So ended the trance session and the atmosphere was completely cleared up; but in fact the energy became empty and stale, and all was placed in a darkness of deprivation. I was blinded and powerless, so I meekly awaited my fate.

The next few days were uneventful, but also frustrating for me because I was psychically blind. I was off from school for the Easter holiday, so I attended a going away party for Norman Slater on Thursday (April 15). He was traveling the very next day to Loch Ness, Scotland, to reveal to the public for the first time, the truth behind the mysterious beastie known as the Loch Ness Monster.

We all thought that we were seeing the arrival of the miraculous times and that evening, Norman stood before everyone in a haze of golden candle light, went into trance and made many pronouncements and prognostications, telling us that the hour of judgement had drawn near. Our expedition was the trigger of this event, since we were about to discover the awesome remnants of Atlantis. That discovery would cause the end of the world due to the many relics of a future and as yet undiscovered technology. Norman melded his obvious occult beliefs with those of the Bible, making himself the first prophet to declare that the end times were now here. We were all suitably stunned and in awe of him. We felt privileged to be a part of his inner court. Then we proceeded to celebrate in a quiet and friendly fashion. Not long into the evening I started to feel kind of giddy. I had my first unfortunate experience becoming drunk, and much of what occurred later that evening was forgotten in an alcoholic haze. For such a pious group, they allowed minors to consume alcohol, and several of us took advantage of this opportunity. I apparently, over did it, consuming enough to get fairly smashed.

Norman used my moment of vulnerability to take me to task, first to mock and ridicule me in front of the others, and then later in his garage flat, to reveal several of my most wicked past lives. This was his opportunity to apply some real pressure to me, to change and convert my obvious occult and pagan practices. He had already planned on such an occurrence, since his followers were ready to denounce me, but I unknowingly had made myself available for some old fashioned brain washing.

He put me through a kind of informal Karmic tribunal, which was attended by a few of his key followers. I was cast as an evil young man - and of course, it was all absurd. Norman went through a recitation of all my previous past lives, all of which had been evil and diabolical. I was a spiritual miscreant. He even acted out one of my murders in a former life in ancient Egypt. Where I had felt powerful and privileged, I was brought down to the lowest level imaginable. However, I was also very stubborn and far less malleable than Norman had anticipated. All Norman accomplished was to make me feel very badly about myself.

I ended up finally sleeping on a couch at his garage apartment. Although I was physically unmolested, I was emotionally and mentally raped by the experience, and my identity and ego were dashed upon the rocks of despair. On good Friday (April 16), I dressed in the previous day’s clothes and accompanied Norman to the airport with his official entourage. I was chastened, feeling pretty sorry for myself, and perhaps even seemed repentant in the eyes of Norman and his clique.

When I finally got home that evening, I knew immediately that I was really unrepentant. I was actually quite angry at what had been done to me, particularly the more I thought about it. When the seven days were finally over, all of the powers and abilities came back to me. I invoked the Goddess again and she rode me with jubilation, praising me for my steadfast ways. It was then that she began to teach me the real art of witchcraft magick. But first, she had a task for me to perform. It wasn’t long after my humiliation that I ritually cursed Norman and his group, being shown how to do this by the Goddess herself. It felt exhilarating and empowering, so from that moment onward, I was  drawn into a battle for the honor of my Goddess. It must have worked quite well, because when Norman returned from Scotland he had nothing to show for activities. There was no revelation of the Loch Ness monster, and the press ridiculed him as a fraud and a confidence man. Other factions of the press got a hold of his story and what he planned to do in the Bermuda Triangle and made a laughing stock of him. Norman was just too vague about the details of the whereabouts of the Altantean ruins. There was also no scientific corroboration for his many claims. A remnant news article of the time can be found in a Miami Herald newspaper piece on Norman Slater, dated August 1972. (By this time, he was already in decline.)

My magickal war with Norman was actually precipitated when some of his followers at school had threatened my life in front of bystanders. I had, of course, left the inner circle and had denounced Norman to my peers. They said that Norman’s powers would seek me out and destroy me because I was evil and in league with the devil. I told them that we would see who was the stronger psychic; me, standing alone, or Norman and his group. As it turned out, by the end of the year Norman’s great plans and his group had fallen apart. There were investigations of tax evasion and improper use of funds, Norman had become erratic and chaotic, and then succumbed to illnesses and various sicknesses. He spent two long sessions of time in the hospital, although to this day, I don’t know what was causing these illnesses. Norman’s fragile world was falling to pieces and as members quit and left his group, his powers seemed to grow more feeble and weakened. This led me to believe that perhaps Norman’s powers had been syphoned off of his followers, like some giant bloated tick.  However, I was relentless in sending bolts of magickal power to combat and defeat this man - I sought no more than that. I never attempted to be unjust or to physically hurt Norman. 

Some time later, when his mission had failed in disgrace and bankruptcy and all his followers had left him, I turned my back on that evil, vile but broken man, and went into the protective custody of the Goddess. Since then, I have never had to personally use magick to harm anyone, even though at the time that I did it, it was to protect myself and others from this psychic villain. A man who readily exploited others in the name of Christ.
I had bravely passed the test and was received into the Goddess’ heart and soul. She possessed me and made my life full of wonder and realization. To celebrate this transition, she named me on two separate occasions. The first name was Barrabbas, because I was a holy rebel and her magickal son, and the second name, Tiresius, she gave to me because she sought to show me my masculine and feminine sides blended together.

She began to teach me magickal rituals and lore, communicating to me through trance. She showed me how to practice them, to worship her divinity and how to be like the Gods. As I seemed to become her mortal consort, I lived my life with her inside my head and heart, listening to her whispered words of compassion and insight, and glorifying in her visions of power and majesty.

It was thus that I suddenly discovered I already knew how to use the rituals and talismans from the various occult books and grimoires that I now possessed. I used these and her insights to create the first structures of the magickal system whose foundation I use today. The origin of this system was the illumination of the Goddess guiding my hands and senses to a greater understanding of magick. I was a goddess intoxicated young man, and wandered through life as a ghost, living only for the magickal worlds of spirits and gods. What I needed was a good sexual grounding, but unfortunately I was still a virgin. I had offered myself to the Goddess as a virgin, and the offering was most heartily accepted by her.

However, I had gained a powerful alliance and alignment with the Goddess of the Witches, so it was only a matter of time before she guided me to a real coven. Until that time, I was to have a number of remarkable adventures, some of them good and some revealing a greater darkness in the occult world that I had entered. I had a basic magickal system that seemed to work, but the greatest revelations would occur later on that year, in the golden autumn of 1972, a time that I would fondly remember for my whole life.

Frater Barrabbas