Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Excellent Hallows 2011

I just wanted to thank everyone for their warm wishes and kind words regarding the passing of my mother on November 1. I took a week off from writing because I wanted some time reassess my life, but also because I was very busy with a lot of mundane things, such as work, business travel and feting guests from out of town.

It was a truly wonderful weekend for me and my lady, and one that I shall remember for some time. Not only did the presentation La Balle de la Danse Macabre turn out really well, but I had two good friends from out of town who also visited and took part in the presentation. We were gifted by the appearances of Frater Arjuna and Soror Rekhetra, and their company was well received and enjoyed. For those of you who might not know, I have known Frater Arjuna for many years, and he was one of the original members of the Isis-Sophia lodge in Kansas City, founded back in 1986. Frater Arjuna is still active in the Order, and in fact, he and I were for a while, the only active members left from what had once been a nice group of people. Soror Rekhetra is also a good friend and has done a fair amount of the artwork used by the Order to illustrate some of the more unusual ritual devices and other interesting diagrams. She is also one of my faithful students and a steadfast personal friend and spiritual ally. Both of these good friends are particularly important to my work, and I must confess, that they have, from time to time, been instrumental in aiding me in objectifying my thoughts and practices.

I must also mention my lady, Soror Grace, who was a great help to me during the tight weekend schedule, and who was the photographer and helped with the setup and break down of the lighting system that added tremendously to the ambience of the underworld. I truly cherish her as an able helpmate, muse, friend, peer and lover. I am blessed to have such a wonderful woman in my life, after all of the difficulties that I have had during the last few decades in finding someone to love and with whom to have a relationship. Spending quality time with her and my friends over the weekend makes me realize just how precious friends and lovers are in the life of an initiate, which can be typically a lonely and solitary existence.

The presentation and event turned out to be remarkably good as well. The acting ability of Steve Posch was fantastic, and he made a really incredible le Roi Morte. With his make-up fully applied, and ratty tuxedo coat and golden crown, he was arguably the Lord of Death in all his fearsome glory. The same could be said of the blue-skinned character Checher de la Morte (Seeker of Death), played by the artist and theater impresario, Paul Rucker. Paul also did the make up for Steve and others. The other characters were also brilliantly made up and played, especially the grand dame who played Madame de la Morte. There were a few glitches in the design and execution of the presentation, but overall, it went extremely well, and I was quite pleased with the results. Time was the great limiting factor, and the thin resources available were pushed to the very limits of practical allotment. Yet it was memorable and had quite an impact on me and everyone who either took a part in it, or who attended.

I guess you could say that sometimes real life has a way of following the currents of magick and mystery that one unwittingly projects into the world through an artistic presentation like the La Balle de la Danse Macabre. On November 1st in the evening, my mother passed away, so my presentation perhaps was a way to celebrate and also mourn her passing. She had been living nearly a vegetative state for the last couple of years in a nursing home, so it was a merciful and much needed passing on her part. I had also been mourning her passing out of my life ever since I last saw her in April of the previous year; but the long distance and a very busy life-style kept me from getting to see her again. I do regret that I didn’t get a chance to see her before she died, but my memory of her as a caring and compassionate mother will never die in my mind. In my heart she is still alive, and youthful in her middle years - as it should be.

The following weekend we were visited by two of my oldest friends from Milwaukee, Keith and Anita, and we had a truly wonderful time with them as well, culminating in a feast day on Sunday where two of the stars of the presentation also showed up. Keith and Anita are witches in the very old style that is beyond any tradition with its degrees and dogma. They are also culinary epicures, so we had some very interesting meals. I engaged in some very foundational discussions with Keith, seeking to bridge our differences in our perspectives and build on our mutual agreements. Because I respect Keith and value his opinions, I always find myself thinking about our discussions long after our visit is over.

One thing that we discussed, that has also been going around my mind lately, is that we each have within us a conceptual map of the Spirit world lying dormant in our deep minds. We might not be aware of what it is or that it has any kind of formulation, but when we work methods of mysticism or magick, that map comes out and determines what we experience in regards to our contacts with the Spirit world. This can account for the different experiences that individuals might have when even working with the same magickal system or grimoire. While some might experience demons as evil spirits, others might experience something that is more ambiguous or even reversed in a kind of antinomian perspective. I have written about this phenomenon previously and it has changed my opinion about the nature of spirits in a generalized manner. No longer can I take the word of the grimoires, theologians or various occult pundits. If I use a matrix to define the table of spirits, giving each one a specific definition, then that matrix will be the foundation for what I will experience, even if that foundation allows for quite a bit of variation in experience between operators.

What this means is that our interpretation of the Spirit world is based on something that already exists within us, waiting to be released. All it needs is a proper stimulus to trigger a full and comprehensive experience of that “map” actualized into our conscious beings. The map can have some considerable variances between individuals who have different predisposed beliefs and spiritual practices. A Christian magician will experience something quite different than a pagan or Thelemic magician, and a Theosophist would experience something entirely different. This map is not a static thing either, since it can change and evolve over time as a person’s beliefs and practices are evolved through their experiences.

Our ever present source for this map is based on our geographic location, our generational affiliation and our life experiences. If a culture develops certain ambiguities or uncertainties that impact religious organizations, forcing them to be either more liberal or conservative, that will certainly have quite an impact on what an individual will experience when they begin to perform ritual or ceremonial magick. The stuff of our culture (including all of the elements of pop culture and urban legends) is the ultimate source for all systems of magick, even if they are derived from apparent traditional sources. What is important to any budding magician is to somehow trigger that internal map and cause it to become exteriorized or projected into the magician’s conscious reality. Ecstasy helps, but it can’t be the sole source of that stimulus that triggers the map.

Chaos magickal methodology stipulates that what really stimulates a operating magician is the use of something unusual, sinister or even completely alien. Instead, I would say that novelty helps, but pure occult techniques and practices associated with a deep spiritual encounter would appear to cause this trigger to be activated. Using something deeply significant and meaningful would also be very helpful. Somehow, though, many years ago, I activated the trigger of my inner map of the world of Spirit, and once that happened, I was able to experience phenomenon that could be loosely defined as paranormal, perhaps even supernatural. Prior to that eventful (but barely remembered time), I only was able to sense or taste various vague impressions of that domain. I knew what I was looking for intuitively, but I couldn’t articulate what it was until it manifested to me in all of its wonder and terrible glory. Something blasted through those doors or perception, I believe that I recall what it was.

After thinking about it for a while, I have decided that the most powerful thing that had happened to me, which opened the doors to the spirit world for me, was when I ingested over a thousand micrograms of LSD-25 when I was a mere teenager of 15 years. I had only recently experienced alcohol, but had never gotten high on Pot or any other mild hallucinogenic. The results of that terrible and amazingly long arduous trip completely and irreparably changed my perception of reality and made the world of Spirit suddenly and easily accessible to me. I was, in a word, never the same after that event. I know that somehow that would make my long tenure as an occultist, witch and ritual magician somehow suspect or even detract from whatever I have previously written. I insist that I am not addicted to drugs nor was I ever predisposed to take drugs instead of adopting a spiritual discipline. The context of the times when this event occurred was a time when many young people were experimenting with drugs, occultism, magick, paganism and witchcraft. It’s just that event, which happened so many years ago, that triggered my internal map of the world of Spirit, even though it wasn’t something that I had planned or even guessed might happen. In fact, I was completely oblivious and naive about any consequences for my actions. I was just a young fool, but in some manner, wisely foolish. However, I would never advise anyone to do as I did, and in fact, I would request that anyone who sought to take any variety of powerful hallucinogens to carefully think about what they were about to do before committing to any action. I survived my experience, but it could have turned out bad for me as well. It’s the kind of gamble that I wouldn’t think of doing in my middle years.

My inner map was exteriorized on that summer day way back in 1970, and I was never the same carefree and oblivious youth ever again. I lost some of my innocence, and I acquired from it the knowledge of a kind of brave new world. Yet for me, it was not a world of fear or paranoia ruled by forces of evil and good, instead it was a complex world of forces and intelligences that could guide, help, aid, or even destroy me. Madness was always a potential possibility, but I was buoyed by a powerful optimism and a spiritual love whose source is a mystery to me even in this late time of my life. Perhaps it was intrinsic to my nature, or maybe it was due to the unfailing love and acceptance that I have always felt emanating from my mother. It might also be true that now that she has passed this world and into the next, I might discover the answer to this riddle.

Frater Barrabbas

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