Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Inner Plane Contacts and Creative Fever

This is another autobiographical piece written by me. Since I had told the story about what happened to me just before I joined the Coven from Hell, I wanted to relate what happened to me after I quit, four years later. That time period was very important for me, since it was when I had laid the foundation of the magickal system that I use today.
Sometime between 1977 and 1978, while I was engaged with the Coven from Hell, I discovered a powerful occult contact that greatly inspired all my occult abilities and insights, and fueled a creative burst in my soul that lasted for decades. I had entered the coven with some new ideas and concepts, but they weren’t worked out or vetted in any fashion. I also possessed and used a rather cumbersome and ineffective personal system of magick, which then underwent a complete transformation. Allied with an effective occult background, generously supplied to me through numerous books and the teachings of my High Priest and High Priestess, I was rapidly rewriting my personal magickal system during that four year period. The older Atlantean tropes were being dropped and replaced with a Golden Dawn and Thelemic hybrid system, and I was undergoing an intellectual metamorphosis, progressing through a magickal and spiritual evolution that was breathtakingly fast. It was as if I had been intellectually dormant for years, and then suddenly fully awakened.

As I look over my notebooks and ritual files from that period, I can see the birth of the system of magick that I use today. By the time I had reached the end of my term of membership with the Coven from Hell (1980), this new system was ready to be fully written and deployed. I consider myself quite lucky that I had continued my work and was nominally independent of Christopher Syn and his lady, Alexandria Pendragon (Bill and Sharon Schnoebelen) even before I decided to leave. My final break with that group occurred just prior to the beginning of the most creative period of my magickal career. It would seem to me today that somewhere during that time, I had achieved a truly splendid inner plane contact with some godhead, inner master or inspired genius. I only later found out who that Deity was, but for years it drove me to ecstatic heights that I hadn’t even dreamed existed. Ironically, once I was fully divorced from the Coven from Hell, that inner plane contact flowered and pushed me to new frontiers of magickal knowledge and expertise. The rapid progression was quite thoroughly documented by me, because I left behind a mass of papers, notebooks, rituals, drawings and illustrations. Many of these papers are now kept in various file folders, overflowing a large black filing cabinet. These papers represent a paper trail of the transition that I made from an imaginary occult system to one that was based on real occult principles.

So the year 1980 was very pivotal for me, since it was the dawning of the time when I would forge the magickal system that I use today. Not only that, but that magickal system also became the blue-print for the rites and ceremonies for the Order of the Gnostic Star. Unbeknownst to me, I was already starting to configure the grade system of the Order when I was still a member of the coven, choosing to use a gnostic version of the apostolic succession as its initiatory backbone instead of a Masonic one. As the year progressed, I had reached the end of my friendship with Christopher and withdrew as a member of his dwindling cult. The dark times were already starting to begin for me and for other members who had recently left, and I felt the need to escape from this group whose collective fantasy no longer held any meaning or significance for me. As I said in my long autobiographical piece about Bill Schoebelen and his Coven from Hell, I simply woke up one day highly disgruntled and decided to quit.

“How I left the group was really simple, I stopped going to their gatherings and functions, starting in June, 1980. I had to see Bill three or four times a week at work, which was unfortunate, and I began to really loath and despise this man. I also saw that my coworkers made fun of his posturing and pontificating, and I joined in with them. I had lost all respect for Bill and my adulation for him was forever destroyed. It was the end for me, but I did mange to pass out of his life in a blaze of glory. I wrote him a letter that was filled with the truth, and it was quite a bitter and harsh critique and rebuke of Bill and his ways. Because of this ‘missive’, Sharon supposedly worked some black magick on me, seeking to protect her husband from his once close friend and now mortal enemy. I imagine that she focused together all of her anger, wrath and hurt, and forged a pretty formidable death spell that she then sent against me.”

Actually, the period when I had assumed that Sharon had put a death curse on me happened later than that date (July 1980), just after the Christmas holiday of 1980. I ran into Bill at the garage where our company kept its paper delivery trucks, and he effusively wished me a merry Xmas and a happy New Year. Of course, since I despised this man, I coldly ignored him, rebuffing his attempts at breaking the ice with me. It was a snotty thing for me to do, but then again, I had taken so much of Bill’s condescension and assumed superiority that I was no longer able to tolerate any contact with him. I had left his group in June, wrote the letter to him in late July, and had to continue to see him for the next five months or more. I didn’t have the opportunity to work out my issues and perhaps forgive him for all of the hurt that I had received. I just wanted him to leave me along and let me pass out of his life, and I felt Bill wasn’t really willing to allow that to occur. So after I had given him the cold shoulder in response to his Xmas greeting, I felt that something had strategically changed between us. A darkness descended on me, and I sensed that I was being targeted with some rather nasty black magick.   

“A current member of the coven who was also a close friend of mine alerted me that Sharon had announced her intention to kill me, and I on the other end of that spell did feel a great darkness descend upon me; but it passed me by after a few months, since I laid low and did nothing to aggravate it.  But my remorse and guilt for my behavior in the group and my fall from grace had far outweighed the impact of any deadly curse, in fact it made the curse darker and more bitter still. At that point [late winter 1981] I had lost my driver’s license, lost my job (I was a driver for the morning news paper), and had to move back in with my parents. I had gotten my college degree, but there were no jobs. This was because by the autumn of 1980, there was a bad recession ruining the economic landscape, quelling the buoyant economy of the late 70's, and it only got worse in 1982. Perhaps these trials were the result of Sharon’s death curse or just my bad luck. I felt sad, full of darkness and bitter, but I didn’t die. Instead I got to deal with my darkness the old fashioned way, by [facing it and] striving through it.”

Some other important events of 1980 had the effect of rehabilitating me, and giving me a completely new perspective on my magickal career. I started hanging out with the rest of those who had either quit, like me, or got kicked out of the coven. We were the dissenting forces who warned others of the inherent trap of dealing with Bill Schnoebelen and his cult. I also began to meet other witches and occultists in town who I hadn’t even known existed. I had thought that Bill’s coven was the only one in town, and both Bill and Sharon had warned their members to avoid making contacts with other folks in the witchcraft and pagan communities. In early August, I attended my first pagan festival, which was the Pan Pagan Festival of 1980. There, I met the various movers and shakers of the pagan and witchcraft movement from all over the country. It was a very eye opening and awakening experience. I realized then how much of a fraud Bill was, and that his various posturing and pompous mater-of-fact statements about magick and witchcraft were either dead wrong or terribly inaccurate. I discovered that I had a lot of un-learning to do in addition to exploring and experiencing completely new perspectives.

Pan Pagan introduced me to wonderful people. I got know and become friends with Gwydion Penderwen, and even played my flute at his festival concert. I also befriended Lugh McGhee and many others. But two witches that I met there who were also from Milwaukee were to become the most important friends that I would meet at that time. In fact, they are still two of my best friends to this day. They were Keith and Anita, and our meeting was actually quite comical.

I chose to accompany a couple of women friends to the festival (who were also cast offs from an affiliate coven of the Coven from Hell) and camp with them, since it would be more economical to do so. However, these women had never camped before and were clueless of what was required for a weekend camping experience. I organized all of the equipment and supplies that would be needed, and stacked it all neatly next to the car, and they packed it away into the vehicle. For some reason or another, the tent posts weren’t packed, even though I had strategically placed them so they would be packed. When we got to campground, I discovered that the tent posts were missing, so I had to use nearby trees and some rope to help hold up the tent. While I was attempting to get the tent tied up, my neighbors were finding the whole mission quite entertaining. I was being laughed at, and it pissed me off. I went over to the couple who were neatly camped next to me and had an exchange of words with them, but they invited me to share their wine and smoked Gouda cheese (I was starving) and that quickly mollified me. That couple was Keith and Anita, and I found their company to be warm and enjoyable for the next couple of days. We exchanged phone numbers and other information, and they invited me to contact them when I got back home, which I did.

The rest of the festival was also quite amazing and very rewarding for me, even though Keith and Anita had to leave the festival before it ended. What I discovered there, and also later, was that my burning creativity needed some outside challenges in order to keep me balanced. I had a lot of creative and insightful ideas, but I also had a lot of misinformation and outright bullshit in my head, too. What Keith and Anita did, and why their friendship was so important, is that they made me accountable to myself and to others. If I said something to them emphatically, and it made their bullshit detectors go off, they had no problem telling me what they thought. Anita was pretty direct (being the no-nonsense person that she was), but Keith would eagerly warm up to a verbal debate by mockingly gazing at me, raising an eyebrow, and saying, “Is this true?” When he said those three words, I knew that I had just said something that was, in his opinion, patently false. Most of the time, he was right. I have found it a pleasant experience in the long years of our friendship on those few occasions when I have actually proved him wrong.

Over time, I learned to be more cautious and discriminating with my beliefs and opinions. One of the really bad habits that Bill had fostered in me (and others) was a kind of absolutism. He would say things, even things that sounded crazy, and we had to believe it was true. He had no tolerance for anyone challenging his words or authority, so he had a free pass with the group, and took advantage of it. For a while, I had also taken on the trappings of an absolutist, and Keith made certain that I learned to be accountable, since anything I said could (and sometimes, would) be challenged. My friendship with Keith and Anita was kind of tough sometimes and perhaps even a bit harsh, but I knew that they loved me, valued my friendship and even respected me. In treating me this way, they showed a kind of important tough love, and it demonstrated that they cared enough to tell me their opinion, completely unfettered. It was strong medicine, but after four years of the delusions of the Coven from Hell, I sorely needed it. My brother and some of my friends who had also quit the coven gave me their opinions about what I had experienced and what they thought of Bill and his wife, Sharon.

Some other events that happened to me that year and the next were softened by the strong friendship and powerful allies that I had acquired. I wasn’t alone with my thoughts, and that helped me out a great deal. Still, my luck and fortunes continued to tank all during this period. I had to move back in with my parents in the Autumn of 1980, and had to deal with the humiliation of not being able to find a job after I had graduated from college. There were two back-to-back recessions, in 1980, and 1982, and both of these events conspired to make my start in life very difficult indeed. In the winter of 1981, I lost my drivers license for sixty days and had to quit my job driving a delivery truck for the Milwaukee Sentinel. At least I no longer had to deal with Bill and his nonsense, but I also was stuck at home most of the time and was fairly broke. My parents went on a long vacation that winter and left me in care of the house, so I had a lot of time alone to work on my occult studies and even practice some magick in a temporary temple setup in my parent’s den. After sixty days, I quickly got my license back, but I was a very cautious driver from that point on. I also had to settle for a job as a janitor, since there were few jobs available at that time. I worked as a janitor from that time to the winter of 1983.

During this time, the various dissidents from the old coven came together to form a new coven, which we called Satyria. This was an old teaching coven that I had previously run when I was an active member of the coven (1976 - 1977), but Bill and Sharon made me close it down (so it wouldn’t compete with what they were doing). We managed to initiate some new people and completed the training and initiations of some of the older members, but I think that we were all burned out on attempting to do things as a coven, and after a year or so, the coven formally disbanded, but we would continue to socialize and meet with each other until many of us moved to other parts of the country. I guess you could say that we were all haunted by the Coven from Hell, and couldn’t get over its negative shadow and dark influences. We had some fun times together, but then we would end up talking about our past experiences, and then the enjoyment would be tempered by guilt, outrage and a mutual dislike of Bill and even Sharon.

Things were not particularly happy for me at this time, and I felt the guilt and ill will associated with my four intense years in the Coven from Hell. I decided that I had to do something to completely break all spiritual and magickal ties with Bill and Sharon. I was replacing my old system of magick and witchcraft with a new system, and I had abandoned everything that my former teachers had given or taught me, except of course, what I had learned on my own. In the late spring of 1981, I stayed over at friend’s house and performed a triple invocation of Lucifer, Shaitan and Awaiz, combining them into a three part Godhead that I called PAN. The purpose of this rite was to completely break my connection with the egregore of the Coven from Hell and to remove any nefarious influences or negative magick off of me. To ensure that I would be completely and wholly immersed in the magick, I also took five hits of LSD in the form of windowpane. Needless to say, I was powerfully in the grips of that drug trip for hours, and in fact, it lasted the whole night and into the morning. I worked these very dark rites and completed them just before the sun came up. I got to witness the brilliant winter morning and the sun shining upon me in all its glory. I was like a new dawn for me, and in fact, it was. I recall actually being able to function and perform all of the invocation rituals during that ordeal, but I would certainly not ever do such a thing again, and I wouldn’t recommend it to any else. In fact, I believe that was my last trip using such harsh hallucinogens, and from then on, I would only use natural and organic drugs, and then, very rarely.

That powerful ritual working really helped me break the evil spell that the Coven of Hell had cast over me and my spiritual path. Yet the damage had already been done, and it would take me another couple of years to completely overcome all that had occurred. The magickal working had the power to break the illusion that I was surrounded by darkness, and it also completely nullified the curse that Sharon had placed on me. To this day I wonder about the impact of that working and what it might have done to Bill and Sharon, since any kind of spell reversal will have some kind of blow-back effect on the sender and their associated clients. It was in 1984 that Bill and Sharon converted to fundamentalist Christianity, and prior to that they had broken away from witchcraft, magick and the occult, perhaps as early as 1982. It would seem that maybe my act of reversing the spell had the effect of frightening and forcing Bill and Sharon from their occult connections and pushing them into the arms of conservative Christianity. I will never know the real truth, but it does seem like an interesting coincidence.

I wrote to all of the friends that I had made at the Pan Pagan festival, and visited those who lived close to me. I traveled to Madison to visit with Lugh, and I would hang out with Keith and Anita. I even went down to Chicago to visit my friend Mike and to meet with his coven, the Temple of the Sacred Stones. I even performed a Luciferin Mass for the coven members, although I am certain that they found it quite strange. One of the high points of that visit was going to Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum and seeing the intact collection of Gardner’s Witches Museum. That was before the collection was broken up and distributed to other RBION musuems. 

All during the time from 1981 through 1983, I was attempting to figure out a career path for myself as well as developing a completely new system of magick. I wrote up a series of four Mass rites for the four sacramental systems of Thelema, Thanatos, Agape and Eros, and produced a system of invocation and evocation nearly from scratch. During this time, I wrote probably around 30 rituals and a couple of massive ordeals (Ordeal XV and the Tessarenoi - Four Temples) - my creativity was boundless. 
I spent many hours developing this new system of magick, and used the temple space of friends to experiment with it, since I no longer had an operating temple. Many of my most fundamental works were written in the period of 1981 through 1983, and I also envisioned the Order of the Gnostic Star at that time, although it was only in an embryonic phase. I was on a very high plane with all of these creative ideas passing into my mind, yet all during this time, I didn’t know who was behind these inspirations. All I knew was that the actual lore worked, that it had a context (which I would later verify through research), and it was consistent. I was building a comprehensive system of magick and testing it as I went along. Everything pointed to the fact that I was receiving a level of magickal and occult knowledge that was beyond anything that I had previously received, and the source was veiled and invisible to me.

This was happening to me despite the dark times, my despair at ever getting ahead in life and becoming independent of my parents. It was a time when I really needed my friends and their companionship, and I was seeking to emerge from the negative influences of the Coven from Hell. It was in a word, the worst of times and the best of times for me. Since that time, I have had profound periods of creativity and insight, but that time was so terribly important to the foundation of my whole life - who I was and what I was to become - that it sticks out in my mind as no other period of my life so far. However, the most important decision that I was to make concerned my ability to make a living and chose a long term career.

I come to the conclusion that I would not be able to break into a professional career unless I got some kind of associate’s degree to go along with my BA in English (Linguistics). After searching around and trying out some classes, I decided to pursue an associate degree in Computer Science. I took some courses at the local technical college, and found that I seemed to have an ability at programming. In the autumn of 1982, I enrolled at Control Data Institute, which was an computer aided education facility owned and funded by Control Data Corporation (now defunct). CDI used a computer system called Plato to interactively train students in computer programming and computer electronics. I managed to complete the course work in four months, which was something of a record.

During all that year, in order to make money, I had continued to work as a janitor for a cleaning company and spent four hours in the evening (and some weekends) helping to clean the offices and bathrooms of some local small factories. During the day, I was at CDI, and commuted by bus to and from Milwaukee instead of using my car. Whether it was occultism, or a career, I was doing everything that I could to advance myself, and felt that even my humble job as a janitor was preparation for much better work in the future. My attitude was very positive, and it showed in my work and in my studies. I was going to dig my way out of the hole that I found myself in, and I applied hard, constructive and practical work to that end. It finally paid off for me, but not until the winter of 1983.

In the early winter of 1983, my parents went on another of their long vacations to the tropics. I, of course, stayed home and house-sat for them. I also converted the family room into a temporary temple and proceeded to experiment with some of the new rituals that I had developed. I also requested and received from my friend, Halina, a Bishop’s consecration, witnessed by my friend Cathy. Halina had received her consecration from Bill, who of course had been consecrated by Michael Bertiaux, so I had now gotten what I had originally wanted from Bill. I also was able to receive my consecration from someone that I had deeply respected and even venerated, so that was definitely a plus as far as I was concerned. I continued to honor my initiatory linkage to Halina for over a couple of decades after that time, even though we both moved in entirely different occult directions.

The lore that I had received not only covered the four Elemental degrees, but also covered the degrees of five through seven. I didn’t have all of the pieces, but I had most of them, either fully developed or in notes, and these I would use to develop the lore of the Order of the Gnostic Star. Even though the magickal lore that I had developed was highly personalized, the patterns and structures could easily be adapted and successfully used by others - as I found out a few years later. Still, getting the Bishop consecration, along with my priesthood ordination, was the final key that I needed to completely break out of my magickal and economic rut. I was about to undertake quite an amazing adventure, forcing me to leave my home state and begin a period of relocation that would continue on until 2005.

In the winter of 1983, I was able to use the graduate resources of CDI to get a job as an computer operator at a company that processed and stored insurance company data for the national association of state insurance commissioners. That operator job became a programming job in just a day or two, and when the company was relocated to Kansas City, I opted to be relocated along with it. That was the beginning of my computer career, and by June 1983, I had relocated to live in a new town, and I was now completely independent. I had a nice two bedroom apartment, and that meant that I finally had my own temple. I had broken free from the trap that I had unwittingly created for myself, and I was now on my way to fulling my destiny. It was a joyous time for me, but not one that was without a sense of loss and sacrifice. I had to leave my important and close friends, and even a woman that I passionately loved, behind in Wisconsin so that I could follow my destiny. It was an ironic trade off, but one that I stoically took upon myself.

In the years that followed, I continued to receive all sorts of inspirations and new lore, but it wasn’t until around 2002 that I discovered who was behind the inspirations, insights and wise guidance. It was Hermes Thoth Trismagistus, but it also included a few other deities and demigods (that must remain unnamed) all of whom had been very much invisible and moving in the background throughout my formative period. These invisible and inner plane contacts were crucial to my development, and I suppose that they remained invisible to me for such a long time so I wouldn’t be able to interfere with them. I was puzzled by that kind of unknowable connection, but I am mentioning it in this article so that others might realize something within themselves, and learn to trust their own process. I trusted it with all my heart and soul, and it served me brilliantly even unto this day.

Frater Barrabbas

1 comment:

  1. I kinda know what you mean, for I am in such a dark hole right now. But i also feel that I'm guided by unknown forces, although I've had a few encounters in the form of brief conversation with them. One of them woul be Saturn and the other one, Mercury.