Thursday, July 14, 2005

First Degree

On July 9th I took my first degree initiation in the O.T.O.

There is a part of me that says nothing should be written about this event beyond the single sentence above. There is another part of me that wants to record every last detail. Perhaps a middle ground will be taken.

I attended Mass on June 17th at Dave Hermman’s place. It was a good mass, with a friend from work accepting an invitation to attend. Before mass, one of the officers informed me that I was scheduled for the 9th. Then silence. I was expecting at least some sort of follow-up, but not a peep until a week before when an e-mail went out to the Yahoo group announcing a bunch of things, and "oh, by the way..." an initiation at Pam's place at noon. I will interpret this lack of special attention to the "designated victim" as faith in my abilities to get along without being led like a small child.

As with all such events, I was the first to arrive (not counting the officers for the ritual). After ringing the bell and getting no answer, I figured Pam was inside setting things up and far too buried in her tasks to hear the bell. So I ambled down the drive to wait a few minutes and try again. I was instantly rewarded with the arrival of Beverly and Holly. Then more people arrived, and very soon we had a group of six or seven, plus three officers. We were set to go.

I read once, many years ago, that a proper Luciferian Initiation possesses some or all of the following elements:
A threat to the well being of the candidate (real or perceived).
Full or partial nudity.
The granting of a new (usually secret) name.
Imparting some secret wisdom or teaching.

The first two of these are closely related, both invoking similar emotional states. They are used to place the candidate in an altered state of mind, through invoking a fight or flight reaction, or pushing the candidate outside of deeply ingrained social mores. You can use a number of terms to describe this state of mind: Heightened awareness, altered consciousness, etc. But it all boils down to creating a shock or opening to allow the successful integration of the next two elements.

The last two elements are aimed at metaprogramming. The candidate should leave the ritual fundamentally changed, or with the seeds of such change planted in his psyche. The secret teaching and/or name will be part of this seed. The trappings of the ritual will reinforce the seed.

(A fifth element that lies outside the ritual is embodied in the study, rituals and obligations that are imposed on the candidate as part of his regular spiritual practice. This is what cultivates and nurtures the seed planted in the ritual. That may be discussed later.)

A healthy subset of these elements was used to good effect in my initiation. I was definitely pulled out of myself, and some seeds were planted. But rather than discuss my initiation here, I will "Not Discuss" it in the same spirit that I was once "Not Dating" Marta, by engaging in a one-sided contrast to my initiation in the Mormon temple nearly a quarter century ago. It may be worth noting that the rituals of both the O.T.O. and the Mormon church trace some lineage back to the rituals of Freemasonry. This is not to say either set of rituals is "based" on the Freemason rituals, or that they bear more than the tiniest resemblance in script, execution or intent. Both were rewritten completely by Crowley and Smith, yet there are base elements in common, as there are other elements that diverge widely.

"A threat to the well being of the candidate (real or perceived)"
In the Mormon ritual, this is folded into the oaths taken to not reveal names, tokens and signs. These oaths are accompanied by penalty signs, such as drawing the thumb across the throat. The wording of the oath is to promise not to reveal something, followed by the words, "...rather than do so I would suffer my life [execute the sign] to be taken." Within the context of the ritual, these oaths were weak. They also seemed not to fit with the surrounding elements and mood of the ritual, almost as if they had been put in there without the author quite knowing why. This was further weakened by the words of my bishop before I went to the temple, where he told me not to worry because the penalties were just a figurative thing. It is my understanding that even this weak version of things was removed when the Mormon rituals were revised in the 1990's.

Contrast this to a few of the Masonic tools, such as hoodwinking the candidate, placing a [dull but beautiful] sword against his body, or pushing him backward into the waiting arms of his companions. At least there is a bit of contact, an actual show of a threat. Even so, it still lacks something that will actually raise the heart rate of the candidate, or even cause him to check after the ritual to see if maybe the tip of the blade didn't at least leave some tiny mark on the skin.

Yes - my heart rate was raised and the adrenalin did flow. More than once. This much I can say without violating any oaths.

"Full or partial nudity"
The only reference I find to this in the few Masonic resources I have are to the candidate being stripped to the waist. This would explain why the good and proper gentlemen of this tradition indulged so seldom in the creation of co-masonic lodges. We can't have any titties wandering about uncovered.

The Mormon tradition has what is called the "Washing and Anointing", done with water and olive oil. In the days of Smith, the washing was done nude with a tub and basin. I assume the anointing took place in a similar manner. Care was taken to segregate the genders, having men minister to men and women to women. This has since been diluted to a version of "washing" that consists of dabbing a drop or two on the body with the tip of a finger, and likewise the anointing with oil. In addition, the candidate wears a "shield" that covers front and back, to the knees, loosely attached at the sides but otherwise open to allow access to the body. It is all quite modest, considering what is happening, and is - once more - rather anti-climatic. The rule of separating the genders is also intact.

A side note is in order for the Mormon washing and anointing. The body is washed then anointed in five locations, each accompanied with a related admonition and/or blessing. These five points later form the template for the "Five Points of Fellowship" at the veil of the temple. Contrast this to the Five-Fold Kiss of the Wiccans - which I am sure was lifted from some Masonic rite that I am not aware of. These five points in the Mormon ritual are the Feet, Knees, Genitals, Breast and Lips. The Mormons get around the genital quandary by anointing the small of the back and pretending it is close enough. At the veil, these five points get moshed a bit to form the "Five Points of Fellowship" - Foot to foot, knee to knee, breast to breast, lips to ear (to speak the words), and the hands joined in a secret hand-grip. Notice that genitals suddenly cease to exist.

As with the element of threat, the nudity element is watered down not only in they way it is scripted, but also in the fact that is it required only when the candidate takes out his own initiation, not when he returns later to do work "for the dead."

"The granting of a new (usually secret) name"
My ever-so-secret Mormon name is Ammon. I am now going to hell.

After my Mormon initiation I looked up Ammon in scripture. There is one Ammon in the Book of Mormon. He is a good guy - about as good as they get. There is another Ammon is in the Bible. He's a bad guy. I can't help but delight in this contrast.

Again, I have no comment related to the O.T.O. ritual. At the same time, anyone who is familiar with Thelemites knows that we all go by some sort of name beginning with Frater (brother) or Sorer (sister) and ending with something that holds meaning to the aspirant. I have taken the name Frater P.P.P, which stands for Perstatum et Providentia eteum Perstatum, which further translates into "Persistence and Foresight and again Persistence."

"Imparting some secret wisdom or teaching"
The whole concept of the secret handshake or password is the stuff of legend, and the worst kept set of secrets in the world, especially as related to Masonry. Even "The Simpsons" played all over this one in the Stone Cutters episode. To my knowledge this is the one part of the Mormon ritual that holds most true to its Masonic origins, and the words and grips are portrayed as nothing short than required for entry into heaven.

Then there is the drama of the ritual. In the Mormon world, this is the story of creation, Eden, and the machinations of the serpent.

But what of some secret? Something really juicy that gives the candidate the ability to say to (inwardly) to the world, "I know something you don't know!" There was much instruction in my O.T.O. initiation. Little of it made sense to me, but will be revealed over time as I study and practice. But there was one moment that was most enlightening - Luciferian, if you will - when I was asked a question. The answer to this question was simple - a single word.

The initiator asked the question the first time. The answer came at once into my mind, but I feared to speak it. This is, in itself, a lesson that points back to the very answer that I dared not speak. I remained silent.

The initiator asked a second time, drawing out and emphasizing her words. I responded that I didn't know the answer I was expected to give.

She asked a third time - stern and unforgiving, her voice harder than slate and sharp enough to rend the veil of the temple. I had an image on my mind of her pulling a club from behind her dias and braining me if I didn't get it right this time. My heart was racing and my lips were dry. After the briefest of moments I allowed the single obvious word to fall from my lips. Even as I spoke, before my initiator responded, I knew it was the correct answer. I felt the tension beginning to flow out of my body into the earth.

This secret, which I revealed to myself, was the one bit of silver that I drew from the ritual.

All of the above sounds less like a journal entry and more like an essay. That is my style, but it tells little of "What happened to the Andy today?" What happened to the Andy was that he was initiated into the O.T.O.. The organization itself is a little odd and it takes people who are a little odd to join up. But the people who were there to support me, or to learn about their own initiations by watching mine, or who were the officers who helped to birth me into a new world, are among the finest I have met. Pam as my initiator was splendid. Chris and Sara (daddy and mommy) as officers were great. Sara was the very picture of nobility, treated me with genuine respect, and seemed almost proud to be associated with me. Chris is Chris and can never escape his generous and humorous nature, as witnessed by the few times he broke with decorum and whispered complements or encouragement to me.

Before the ritual, and the attendees were being tiled into the temple, Sara mentioned that I might have to wait a while. I joked that the wait served no purpose and that they would all be drinking and smoking and telling jokes while I was forced to wait - all for the purpose of making me nervous. I do believe she gave me an actual dirty look. But then, as my mommy, that is her job.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Like hitting your head with a hammer then wondering why it hurts

I am insane. I have started a study group.

At the beginning of June, Renee (coffee goddess at Steamers) mentioned in passing that she had once been going through Donald Michael Kraig’s book, Modern Magick. It is a book I own and have wanted to work through. Then I found another person with the same story to tell. So I went to Renee and proposed a study group. We contacted people we thought might be interested, and we started the last week of June. Right now we are spending a few weeks on the LBRP (Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram) and the Tarot.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Magpies and Lawn Clippings

I'm spending coffee money in the hopes of meeting chics. It isn't turning out to be a success. Renee is dealing with grass and vacuums from last night’s show. It seems the band decided to enhance the show by emptying a few bags of lawn clippings into the crowd. It spread from the dance floor to just about every corner of the shop. Renee had spent hours cleaning it, and was just finishing up as I arrived. She was not happy.

In addition to chics, I was also after some peace and quiet. Finding neither, I left Steamers and went to the Paul Reams park. Here I was entertained by Magpies. There is a nest at the West end of the park. I counted six Magpies - two adults, two chicks, and what may have been two yearlings (I wasn't sure - they weren't quite as large as the adults and the coloring was subtly different). I spent about an hour watching the birds, being captivated by their antics. Then headed back to Steamers.

The roots of my depression have not changed in the last 25 years. What has changed is (looking for a metaphor that works here...). Think of the cause of the depression as what casts the shadow. This is still the same. What has changed is the source of the light. It used to be the expectations imposed on me by the Mormon gestalt. Now the light is cast by my own expectations. In both cases, the shadow is cast by my failure to live up to what is expected. For the last few weeks (or several weeks, if I feel like beating up on myself) I've not been living up to my expectations of myself.

"Englishmen, especially Englishmen who drink, have strict habits." - Bill Gaston in 'a Forest Path'

"You notice that very young babies move with the whole their bodies toward an object that excites their interest. Arms, legs, mouth, everything is in motion. Over time, they do not develop fine-muscle control at all but learn instead to restrain all but those the need to pick up the tiny object. The capacity is there. But with so much interference there is no freedom. And freedom after all is what's important in the subject of restraint." - 'Another Axis Within' from Parabola, XXX, 2.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Horus Chorus

I’m at the First Unitarian Church waiting for the Horus Chorus to perform.

I arrived nearly an hour early with the plan of reading and writing. Expecting to find no one here, instead I found a pair of gentlemen out front practicing their juggling - the sort with pins where you toss them back and forth. One of them look familiar and, as I approached, my suspicions were confirmed - Dylan. Such a delightful surprise.

It has been ages since I have written here - if I’m not busy, then I’m empty of motivation. Lately it has been the latter. I am quite upset with myself about that. About a week ago my motivation was drained. If there was a lead-up to it, I didn’t notice. It was as if someone planted a spigot in my ass and turned it on full flow. I have done nothing but the bare basics at work, and even less at home.

Bleh. The first ordeal marches on.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Under the Whip

Everything under this date heading was written July 8 and July 20. Except for this paragraph, it was culled from the end of the previous entry and from random scribbles. Events were somewhere in the time frame of April and the first two weeks of May.

Around the first of May, the Thelemic Magick seminar stopped. Mark and Amber broke up and he moved out of her house. There was some noise for a few weeks about getting it going again at a new location, but that didn’t happen. I did see Mark once after this, May 15th at Gnostic Mass in Ogden, but not since then. At that time he was living in a small trailer at the KOA on North Temple, and he was in the ever-so-intimate company of a woman whose name I can’t remember, but who said I could just call her "Angel." Right. I was not impressed with Angel (but I have been wrong about such things in the past). I was also wondering about Mark. He didn’t give a lot of detail about what had happened, and I didn’t ask, but he was talking it up like it was a good and needed thing, and that he was much happier. I had my doubts - it sounded to me as if either he was talking like this in an attempt to convince himself of his own words, or as if he was ignoring a few ugly side effects that had yet to seek him out and shake him up a bit. But I dismissed all this from my mind and decided to just make use of the man...

I was at Ra Hoor Khuit Oasis for the purpose of being baptized. I had e-mailed ahead to clear it with the people in charge, but found out at the last minute that I needed two people to sponsor me. As soon as Mark showed up, I knew I had one person. I found the second in the person of a gentleman named Rick. About 10 years older than me, he had lived for awhile in Provo at the Hotel Roberts. He and I had a good talk together, and I felt comfortable with him. He was pleased to help me.

The baptism was pretty cool. I hadn’t reviewed the ritual before Mass, so I was pleasantly surprised by some bits of it. I loved the phrase "...deliver me from evil and from good...", as well as the symbolism of dipping the rose in the wine then letting the wine fall from the rose to my head.

Somewhere in this time frame I had a minor adventure with Beverly and Holly. I found myself at their place after another activity and was introduced to the game "Exclamation Poker". In this game you are dealt a hand and then come up with the word or phrase - the exclamation - that best fits the hand. The winner is not the person with the best hand, but the person who best describes his hand.

During this period of time I was also preparing for my first degree initiation in the O.T.O.. Among other things, I got the application from Sara, talked Beverly and Holly into sponsoring me, and purchased the material for my Tau robe. While She Who Spends Money in Exotic Lands was in Europe in May and June, on a few Department of Defense contracts, I made an utter mess of the living room and got the robe made. It was tiring yet satisfying work. The finished product was pretty good looking, especially for a duffer like myself.

Also in this period of time, I saw my internet habits once more interfering with my life - taking time and directing choices, so I reigned it in. I haven’t deleted and purged, but I set some rules. The rules have taken hold and, gosh and surprise, I’ve hardly looked at it since then. I am such a monkey.

I also got a notebook that will be devoted to the First Ordeal as Depression. As mentioned before, if I am pegging this wrong, at least the work won’t be wasted. At the same time, I have been able to write barely a page in the book. It seems that I am usually too busy or too tired and, and least on one occasion, too depressed.

Friday, April 15, 2005

Another unwanted blast from the past

[Somewhere in the few weeks after March 20]


A few months back I had given up on Marta. I decided it was time to take the hint and leave her alone. She had stopped answering my e-mails. I figured she was too polite and dysfunctional to just tell me to get lost, so she was ignoring me in the hope that I would go away. So I went away. Actually, I sent her one last birthday card, telling myself it was my own personal good-bye. I did this without rancor or drama. And it was good. A few days later, before the card had time to travel to Washington, the phone rings and there she is on the other end of the line.

She just called to say hello, talk, catch up, and tell me she was moved into her new house (her own house, not a rental). It was a good conversation. I was wrong - she wasn't wanting me to go away. Funny thing is, in the weeks since then I haven't really felt like writing or calling. Perhaps my choice to let go of it took on its own life and was never reversed. Perhaps some day I'll pick up the phone and call her. Who knows.

She did give me a few ideas on dating and money. Basically tell the chicks that my wife told me about being lesbian years ago and let them make what assumptions they will. Then the truth can come out after a few conversations - build the rapport, then drag out the ugly truth. On money she suggested that I just ask She Who Spends With Wild Abandon point-blank what portion of the household budget she is responsible for, then hold her to it. Then set up my own checking account without her name attached to it.

There was much more discussed, but very little recalled.

In other news, I am eternally pissed off at Steamers for - once again - not being open on a Sunday (and this one being a Sunday where the coffee bitch swore in advance she would be there). I will not be returning for a while.

Around the Equinox was Gnostic Mass at Dave's place (actually it was in the clubhouse). It was good to do Mass again, and to have it done properly without savage country rules imposed. The turnout was excellent. Willow was there, and broke the news that she is preggers. This may be more than I can bear. If I run into her when she is about 5 months along, I may just drop to my knees and beg for sex. (Pregnant women do this too me...) Gretchen was also there, and dragging along a new companion.

Priest for this mass was Jeffrey. (whose last name escapes me), a man of accomplishment and talent who is about 10 years older than I am. I mentioned that I was the local Minerval, but managed to do it in a way that wasn't self deprecating. We got into a bit of a conversation about his early days in the O.T.O.. He took out his Minerval when I was a pimple faced kid at Dixon Jr. High. He also spent enough time hanging put at the Thelema Lodge to be able to tell some interesting stories - it seems the raid on the lodge that everyone in the O.T.O. wails and moans about was probably justified.

Somewhere in this time frame I asked Pam about getting my first degree initiation. I had been in waiting mode, figuring the urge would hit me at the right time. It sort of did, but not as I had imagined it. What hit me was the desire to act the role of deacon in the Mass. Things are open enough here that any competent person can act the role, but to be ordained to the office of deacon, you need to be second degree. You also need to be baptized and confirmed in the EGC. So I figured I needed to get the ball rolling by asking for the initiation, then memorizing the deacon role in the mass.

Friday, March 18, 2005


The depression I mentioned in my previous journal entry looked like it was going away when I wrote, but instead it turned worse and stayed around for a while. This isn't the first time I've gone through bouts like this, but it my reaction to it this time was different. Something in me stood up and said, "Enough is enough." The time has come to make some changes and deal with the depression, once and for all.

The O.T.O. members I talk to speak in reverenced tones about "The Ordeals", but not as something written in stone that comes down from the initiators or body masters. Instead, the ordeals happen on their own, at the bequest of the universe. The consensus is that, as soon as you choose to seek an initiation (either making the choice or handing in the application) the wheels of the universe are set in motion and the ordeal begins. Only Mark has given the details of one of his ordeals, having to deal with his 16 year old daughter having a baby. With my Minerval, it seemed to be LL crawling out of the woodworks. So this last weekend I decided to get the ball rolling for my First Degree and baptism at the next Gnostic Mass. This was about the time I decided to do something about the depression. This isn't a new thought for me, but after hearing the other people talk, I backed off from it, thinking it was written in stone that the ordeal would choose me instead of me choosing it. But then this fit of depression hit, and the uncharacteristic reaction to finally do something with it, and I had to reverse myself yet again. I think this is the ordeal. And if I am wrong? The effort won't be wasted…and the real ordeal will certainly find me.

Friday, March 11, 2005


First let me report on the mundane happenings in my universe. ADP informed us all last month that we are moving to a common review date for yearly raises. April 1st for the raise, so the reviews get done during March. My last review was in November, so this one will be prorated for the short number of months. The money part of it has the potential to be rather nice, but I'm not sure this makes up for what a pain in the ass it was to do the review, especially when I have barely recovered from the trauma of my last review. But it was nice to be dealing with Johnny this time instead of Kris. I also found that my classification is Tech 3 - top for my department (but likely lower than reality). This is better than the Tech 2 they pasted on me after the acquisition.

The last several weeks I have been attending a 'Thelemic Magick and Mysticism' class at Amber's place, taught by Mark Anthony. While the quality of the 'class' is nothing to strike fear into the hearts of college instructors, the actual flow and results have been great. Every week turns into a pretty good discussion, even when it veers wildly off topic. But most important, the class has got me (and a few others) started on doing a daily practice. We started out with the first leg of Yoga and tried to progress though them one each week. This is an absurdly fast pace for true practice, but there really is no other way to teach it in a group such as ours. I have settled on a version of yoga that emphasizes observing body and mind, while not trying to control the mind. I'll move to that later. I'm up to 30 minutes of asana (admittedly it is sloppy asana), 3 to 4 times a week. It feels good.

Last weekend I made myself a white robe. I had two aims in mind. First, I needed to learn and practice for making a black robe for my first degree initiation. Second, I need a white robe for my confirmation into the ECG. The project took me most of the weekend. It looks pretty good on me, has no major flaws, but would make a real seamstress swoon in dismay. Among other things, I learned the black robe will have to have the edges all sewed up to keep end threads from unraveling in the wash. I'm hoping to purchase black material tomorrow and get started this weekend, then finish next weekend. Also next weekend, I'll be asking for my first degree application.

But all that stuff above is just bookkeeping. The real issues right now are depression and anger. It is odd that one of the results of the yoga has been to increase self awareness and observation - seeing the bullshit for what it is and separating from it. I would expect this self awareness to be good for me, but it isn't working out that way this time. It seems that the self awareness is only having an influence on the level of the intellect - the "thinking" Andy. On the level of emotion, the "feeling" Andy, I am - to quote Trent Reznor, "Down in it." It's an odd feeling, sort of like the ego-dystonic state that an OCD victim finds herself in. Here I am getting all wrapped up in bad reactions and feelings, while a part of me is watching it all happen, detached and separate, with a sort of shock and amazement.

The stage for this was set last week when Kate e-mailed her first play in our Scrabble by Mail game. She used all seven letters to rack up a hefty opening score, but with a word that she essentially made up. She confessed that it isn't in the dictionary, but that it was still valid for some bullshit reason or another. I plugged it into Google and found that Microsoft uses it as some sort of private geek term, but only in the same way half a million other non-words flash in and out of existence in sheltered settings. "Isobits." Whatever. So this put me in the position where I can either call her on it and be the asshole, or roll over and accept it, losing the game while allowing her to push my ass around. Great - I can lose, or I can lose.

This and other incidents set the stage for the depression, but I was still barely above it. The trigger point for down in it came a few days later, and was the most stupid and embarrassing incident. On the way back from the track on Wednesday, I made the mistake of swinging by the H.H. residence and trying to say hello to H.H.'s whelp. I was soundly ignored. So I just went away. But it really bugged me - more than it should have for anyone, and far more than it should have for an inbred shit like her.

[Redacted gripe and moan centered on wenches]

I must make one thing very clear at this point. The events above are not causes for depression. The causes are several and varied and tied up in all aspects of who I am and the little universe I live in. The events above are triggers. As such, they aren't the problem and really don't matter. If there is a problem to be addressed, it is to change how I respond to the triggers, not to make the triggers go away.

Despite my complaining, there is a good side to things. The discussion at the seminar was good, and the only thing better than a good group discussion is good one-on-one brain sex. I also finished my white robe last weekend, and it actually looks pretty good (as long as you don't look too closely). This clears on hurdle for confirmation into the EGC and I'm ready to make the black robe for my first degree initiation. And, to leave of this feel good fest, we bring up my favorite obsession - my weight has been staying down.

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Walter Mitty meets Adolph Hitler

The Yoga practice from the Thelema class has moved along to observing the thoughts without trying to change or control them. Just observe. The phrase I initially jotted down after the first time ding this was, "Floor show in the brain while doing yoga". I have since stopped calling it a Floor Show and started calling it a zoo. In my magickal journal I noted it was like a series of overwritten and overacted dramas, played out with me as the star of them all, acting a role that is an odd combination of Walter Mitty and Adolf Hitler. Having been forced to observe my thoughts like this may have changed what is happening in my every day mind. I am playing out fewer dramas and spending less time obsessing. For the past several months I have also had this same awful little 2-bar tune repeating in my mind, day and night. For the first time since it started, I realized a few days ago the tune was gone. This was something of a minor shock. The tune has since returned, but is less obtrusive than it used to be. I am also wondering if there is a connection between the yoga and my earlier complaints of some of my Monkey Boy reactions. I recognized my behaviors sooner and more completely than I am used to. In other words, I have been more self aware. I have also done better at asking myself how to change future reactions, and have come up with better answers. Having said this, I will probably by punished for my hubris by doing or saying something in the next few days that will truly mortify and appall me, maybe even getting me into a serious trouble with a friend or coworker. This will be the equivalent of the universe smiling, rocking back on its heels, and saying, "This is the real lesson, bub. The other shit was just a warm up."

Beverly is reading a book called The Brain and the Mind by a Dr. Schwartz who has also written a few books on OCD. It looked interesting enough, so I got a copy of my own tonight. The central thesis of the book is that the brain doesn't stop growing and connecting at a certain age. The adult brain has been found to have stem cells and to generate new cells, new neural connections, and new pathways. The way Beverly phrased it is that it is possible to get a new brain. Like the old quote, "If you want to be somebody else you'll have to change your mind." I also bought the CD Summertime Dream by Gordon Lightfoot. This was a pure and simple nod to nostalgia - this was one of the first albums I bought as a teen. When I listened to the album later I realized just how good it is. I found myself singing along with a few of the songs as if I had never forgotten them.

Sunday, February 06, 2005

To betray the Bread and Salt

The Web Migration project at work is ahead of schedule and is really being a turn-on for the left lobe of The Wombat’s brain. It has been ages since something at work has really reached out and grabbed my interest. Part of why I like this project is that it is coming together so well - better than I had hoped, and better than what I told the boss to expect. On Friday it want live for Alpha testing. Most of the HTML conversion worked as planned, and it looks sweet as hell. There is still some work to do on it, if fact there is a lot of work to do on it, but so far the conversion program has things over 80% of the way to where I want them. If I wanted to, I could take support live on it within another week. But then the bosses would expect that kind of action all the time. So I’m going to stick with the February 28 date and get it as pretty as I can before that. At least this way I don’t run the risk of being late, it will look like a good job, and I get time to do the shit I know I need to (but the bosses never see as important).

There is other news at work that isn’t really good in itself, but has nice timing. We are all moving to a common review date in April and I need to do the whole PMF process again, even though I did it just last November. It is a pain in the ass and I never enjoy it, but this time it will come right on the heels of my completing the Web Migration. Even better, we may be integrating the web search into Vision (our call logging software) and I have already figured out how to enable importing the solution from the Knowledge Base entry into the Case (call log) in Vision. I am seriously thinking this might justify having Denos reclassify my designation so I get paid more.

I was thinking a few days ago about my decision not to write too much about my Minerval, and especially about the content of the ritual itself. I used to look at stuff like this as being no big deal, laughing at the seriousness of the Occult Initiation thing. I laughed (or at least scratched my head) at the way people take it all so seriously and pretend it is all so secret (and that there is something to be had from playing the secrecy game). But something happened after my own Minerval. I think I am beginning to understand. The fact is that the ritual was no big deal, at least when taken from my old position described above. But in the study materials I got from my sponsor a few weeks ago there was mention of the fact that you get more from it if you treat initiation with respect, as if it really does mean something. Expectation forms reality.

Before the ritual, I had trolled the internet looking for the text of the ritual, but didn’t find it. The O.T.O. must do a good job of chasing down the copies posted on the web and getting people to take them down. Either that or there just isn’t much interest in the topic. Then about a week ago I was looking for instructions on making a Tau robe for my first degree (something that is surprisingly scarce) and stumbled on a file claiming to have the texts of all the O.T.O. rituals. So I downloaded it and took a look. The table of contents listed them all, right up through the degrees that a schmuck like I could ever dream of. As The Wombat sat there looking at the screen, something happened in his fuzzy little psyche. First he had to see if it was the real thing, so he ventured into the text of the Minerval ritual. It was the real deal. Now the dilemma had teeth. On the one hand I could just read the scripts and it would be no big deal (this coming from the pre-Minerval Andy). On the other hand, it would be cheating. To look at the rituals, to learn the secrets he had not yet earned, would be to betray the bread and salt. So I made my choice. I printed up the Minerval as a study aid, then carefully closed the file and vowed not to look at it again.

I suppose printing up the Minerval was hedging, but my initiator hasn’t been available for questioning. G. has also been a bit scarce. So I’ll use this as a resource until I can dredge up a teacher or two. Another reason for not looking at the other rituals is that I know how initiation is supposed to work and what it is supposed to do. If you go into it armed with the script, it is all lost on you. I don’t want to do this to myself. I want to get the full bang for my buck and let the rituals work with me as designed.

Friday, February 04, 2005

Collisions and Conversions

Last Saturday Michael (my son) and I went to get him a new bicycle. It was fun, and it was also nice not having to mess with Kathleen being in the works (she is in Colorado dealing with her grandmother’s funeral). We were going to shop around a few different shops, but there was a good deal on a Schwinn at Bingham Cyclery, so we bought it. Michael really likes it and I think he is taking satisfaction from having paid for it with his own money. But yesterday, on the ride home from school, he managed to crashed it. He reached down to adjust something while riding, went a bit off track, and hit the back of a trailer. He claims he was out cold for ten minutes. I don’t doubt the out cold part, but the 10 minutes may be a stretch. The bike also suffered a bit of damage, but the guys at the shop managed to fix all the important stuff, and didn’t charge for the labor. This was pretty damned cool, and I think they just made a loyal customer of me. In fact Kathleen went back there to get a helmet for Michael, not even making noises of going to Wally World to get one on the cheap.

There has been an interesting turn of events at work. I have been pointed to the task of pulling the Knowledge Base out of the current format and search program and converting it all to a web based search. It has been interesting. Among other things, I get to extract over 5000 individual entries from a single formatted text file and shove each of them into a discrete HTML file. If nothing else, it will be educational. Most of the work has centered around programming tasks, writing one conversion program for the database search engine and another program to create the discrete HTML files from a single text listing. Then there is programming the search screens themselves and adding a few features into them that the good people at Inference didn’t think of (or maybe they did and I’m just reinventing the wheel).

Thursday, January 27, 2005

To initiate is to begin

To initiate is to begin

But now that the initiation ritual is passed, I read this and have an initial reaction that I haven’t really started anything. But then I stop and realize I am doing some things, and some meaningful things, mostly in the context of Mark Anthony’s class. It has been good. Where the initial reaction and frustration come in is with looking at the suggested study list for Minerval and having the usual reactions of intimidation for never getting it done coupled with lust for having it all done and perfected now. This will happen in its own due time with steady reasonable effort.

A few days ago I finished reading The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed ben Clifford. Great book. The combination of humor, common terminology and metaphor really did the trick. Great book, and I’ll have to re-read it soon (and more slowly and carefully).

Sunday, January 16, 2005

43 Skidoo & Gnostic Mass

In the immediate wake of my Minerval, my mind went blank - at least for writing in my journal. Then, starting a few nights ago, the thought started coming again. Fast, though not furious. I should have captured more of them, but life was just moving too fast and I never took the time. Nevertheless, here is a bit of what I remember.

An expected friend wasn’t at the Minerval, for all of her expressed excitement beforehand. It was a disappointment, but then my expectations wee misplaced.

Just after my Minerval, Mark Anthony announced the Thelemic Magick and Mysticism class to be taught weekly, every Thursday night at 7:00. So I rearranged my workout and work schedules and have been attending. So far so good. It has been a growing crowd, and only one loose wheel in the bunch (but a congenial and harmless loose wheel). Actually, I have given the loose wheel a ride home a few times and he’s a fit flaky, but then even as he acts the flake he’ll babble about a topic and have the most amazing information, both in quality and sheer quantity, roll out his mouth.

Once again, my initial impulse is to write something like ‘no big moments or revelations yet’, but then I have to stop and correct myself. It is true the heavens have not opened and, with the singing of the seraphic hosts, imparted to us secret wisdom in the voice of Metatron. But there have been some small things that, in thinking of them, may not really be that small.

First among these small things is writing an essay after the first week on “What is my Will”. It was good to have a formal writing assignment and clean the cobwebs from that part of my psyche. But this is also the first time I have taken on the task of formally defining my Will. For a supposed Thelemite, this is a profound indictment of The Wombat. Only after finishing the essay did I realize how vexing this omission was for me and how refreshing it is to have it corrected, even if the end result was the following:

I do not know what my True Will is

It is my will to find my True Will

It is my will to use the teachings, practices and brotherhood of the O.T.O. to find and realize my True Will

After the first class I had an interesting conversation about the situation with Kathleen and not having a lover, etc. It produced an interesting nudge in my outlook, albeit in a direction I was heading anyway. One of the things she ran by me was the “If you really had to” notion. “If you either had to get laid tonight or die (literally), you would be able to get laid, even if it was with Kathleen.” The point being, none of really needs the things we pine for. We get along just fine without them and obviously have some reason for choosing not to take the have to route and doing without instead.

Another good thing about the class is that we are all being encouraged (forced kicking and screaming) to begin a simple daily practice of Yoga. It has been educational and refreshing to get back into a daily practice. We have also been encouraged to record the results of our practices in a Magickal Journal, so that is where the details of my practice will be found (not cluttering up this narrative).

I attended Gnostic Mass last night at the shop above Jack’s Drum and Guitar. This was the second Mass I have attended with J.P. being the priest. The first time was over a year ago, and the man intimidated the hell out of me, as have others associated with the O.T.O. and The Mass. But this was totally different. As I helped set up for Mass, and as the ritual progressed, I felt myself the equal of each and every person there. I had no illusions that I was equal to them in knowledge or practice or accomplishment, but on the root level I felt no lower and no higher. We are all Men among Men (Women among Women). Since then, I have retained this feeling. I have also come to realize that my knowledge of Thelema and related ideas is on par with most of the people in the Oasis. I also have some small capital in experience, but not near so much as the others. But I have potential and I am working to realize this potential. It feels good to feel equal.

It was also interesting to watch Jeffery perform the Star Ruby in preparing for the ritual. Somewhat dramatic, but not the way I would have done it. I’ve seen other people do the ritual, and have made similar observations. This got me to thinking about rituals, and variations, and what it “right” or “wrong” in doing a common ritual. I have concluded that such variations are of little or no consequence - each mage does what resonates within the self. This doesn’t mean that you can depart wildly from the script without raising an eyebrow or two, or even having a short talk with the person in charge of an event (in the case of public ritual). But it does mean that, so long as there is a basic understanding of the core of the ritual, and so long as variations are reasonable, there is no right, no wrong, and no need to criticize. For example, at the beginning of the Star Ruby, is it said “So-Eeee” (the way I do it), or “So-Eye” (the way I’ve heard everyone else do it). I suppose I am “wrong” on this point, but it works for me, so I do it.

After that first class with Mark, I had an interesting conversation with Amber where we poked at the idea of desperation for companionship as opposed to dumping the desperation but placing the self in the path of possible companionship. In other words, just go do the things you love and don’t be surprised when you bump into that special someone. This isn’t a new idea for me, but I never seem to get off my ass and actually play the script to its logical ending. This was another nudge in the direction that I have been heading, and am mostly arrived at, that I just need to stop jonesing for sex. I’ve lived long enough without it, I’ll continue to live, so get over it. The more concrete result is that I’ve stopped obsessing on the young attractive wenches I encounter (A few members of the local O.T.O. and a fw more in the Provo pagan scene). Besides, as related, with at least Andrea there are plenty of reasons why anything with her could be real bad news.

On larger issues, I’ve been trying to find a balance between the two common extremes (at least for me) in my new association with the O.T.O.. On the one side I am resisting the urge to overdo the whole thing and spend every waking moment obsessing on it, surrounding myself in piles of books and grand numbered lists (after which I will collapse under the weight of it all and end up doing little or nothing). On the other side I need to overcome inertia, laziness and distractions. The deal is to find the sweet middle ground of a steady reasonable effort.

As a short random note, I’ve mentioned that the number 43 haunted my up to my Minerval. But 48 has also screwed with me - so what happens in 5 years?

Saturday, January 08, 2005


Existential angst tour 2005. 5:20 PM at Steamers. I took out my Minerval initiation today. It was at D.H.'s place, with D. officiating. True to my previous journal entry, I studiously avoided doing anything to prepare. To initiate is to begin. So I knew that the ritual was the time to begin. So I didn’t begin before the beginning. It was interesting, but if I write anything at all about it, it will be after I’ve had some time to digest the events.

Driving home, as I hit the freeway entrance, I was thinking to myself that I sure didn’t feel any different. But then I realized was a beginning. Not the end. So I wasn’t supposed to feel different or changed or complete or anything. I was supposed to begin. Actually, we had a conversation earlier that rituals do that - they leave you feeling like, “So what?” Then the next morning you wake up in a totally different world. But as of now, I’m just the same old guy, with the same old ache in the pit of my stomach on the drive home, the same doubts, etc.

Before going home I headed north to the cemetery to pay homage to my dad. Then, I allowed my car to drive me to Golden Braid. Lo and behold, there was Bill, formerly of the O.T.O.. (He does tarot reads there). It was an uncomfortable conversation for the first bit. At first I didn’t want to mention the Minerval, but when I did it actually brightened him up a bit. Somewhere in there I said thank you to him “for all he had done.” His brows knit in question marks. Then I told him I understood his questioning, but he really had done something for me. What I didn’t tell him was that the conversation at Pagan Pride Day, and helping with the mass, really made up my mind to take this path.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Small Sacrifices

In her novel The Sea Priestess, Dione Fortune stated that any true temple demands a sacrifice. In this story the sacrifice was the retarded son of one of the workman constructing the edifice. In Kate's life, this was her cat "Soji" who died the week before she opened her shop A Different Path. Earlier this evening, Kathleen and I buried Smudge, out beloved cat, a Siamese/Calico mix, just to the west of the circle in our back yard. Tomorrow, my 43rd birthday, I will take out my Minerval initiation into the O.T.O..

All of my life, since puberty(?!?), the number 43 has dogged me - not always nipping at my heels, but waiting for the moment that I would barely forget it, then rising up and giving me a friendly bite on the ass, thus restoring its small place in my psyche: Scout Troop 43, route 43 for the Daily Herald (my first job), numbers assigned to me in school and such. I had intended to take my Minerval at least a year earlier, but things conspired against me. First there was stuff with Kathleen (such as nursing he when she hurt her shoulder, time spent out of the country, etc.), then trying to set it up with Bill and having that fall apart. Then things turned around when I found out about Mass at Pam’s (which was actually intended to be a members only event). I got the papers there (as recounted above) and everything just fell into place for the 8th. Shazam.

The one thing that bothers me in this script - the one thing I can't quantify, figure out, and place a measure to - is the fact that it wasn’t my cat that was the sacrifice, but Kathleen’s, or better still Shannon’s. Why would some one else sacrifice for my temple? But then, in the novel, it was the son of the workman, not of the priestess, that was let go.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Tits on a Platter Vs. Kenya Dark

Yesterday was another Saturday without mail delivery. The family stayed up to ring in the new year. I went to bed an hour early, having lost a battle to the effects of swilling down an entire bottle of Champagne (extra dry). This morning's missive is being written at Juice and Java. I've given up on Steamers, for a little while at least, as being a bad place to try to write or read. They also don't open early enough on Sundays. I sort of hate to admit it, but the people at Steamers are (how do a say this) a bit below what would prefer to associate with. I speak this mainly in terms of conduct and motivation. If I have to look at the barista's 'tits on a platter' show one more time, I'll lose all self control and say something she will regret. Perhaps I will someday tell the other barista to just shut up and stop being the Universal Instant Expert.

Bonus - I just discovered, to my delight, that the Kenya Dark they serve here at J&J has a real punch to it.

Last week was a short one at work, with one day trimmed off the front for Christmas, and another off the end for New Years Eve. I'm really getting sick of time off. I don't get enough done at work and I don't have anything lined up at home to make my time there worthwhile. Wait. I misstate. I have plenty to do at home, this being proved by the list on the computer that I just took a peek at. The real problem is that I allow myself to get waylaid by the diversions and distractions. It will be good to return to work for a long string of full work weeks. Much to do, and for once it is the right stuff (not fruitless diversions) and only a bit behind schedule.

Last Wednesday was a class at the Sprague Branch Library, put on by the O.T.O.. The original plan was for Gretchen to present on the Mystic Rose, but she had to cancel. Too bad, because a part of me was curious to see if our previous conversation would come up and continue itself. But the class we did get was well worth the time. Thomas did a presentation on Vibrating Holy Names. It had a lot of overlap with the CM presentation in Phoenix. It confirmed some things from that class, then complemented and expanded others. It was good.

Thursday on the way home for my extended weekend, I purchased a copy of The Chicken Qabalah of Rabbi Lamed Ben Clifford by Lon Milo DuQuette. I had seen the book and would have dismissed it if not for the author. Then it was recommended by Thomas, then I learned that another of DuQuette's books, The Magick of Aleister Crowley, is recommended on the O.T.O. main web page as a better beginner's manual for the fledgling Thelemite than Magick in Theory and Practice (which is said to be better suited to more advanced students). So...... I bought it. So far I am still in the first few chapters, so it is all about laying the paving stones and not yet about traveling the path, but it has offered some good insights and some better laughs. It looks like money well spent.

As to The Magick of Aleister Crowley, I have two copies on the way from Amazon - one for me and one for Kate. She wanted me to send her a book that would let her know what is going on with these crazy Thelemites (or something like that). I phrased it in terms of wanting to know what is going on with the Andy, but she said that was wrong - that is was the O.T.O. and CM thing. This didn't really ring true to me, but then I think between conversations with me and other recent exposures to the CM/O.T.O. gestalt, she may have concluded that she really doesn't know what is going on with the whole thing. Or as an alternate theory, I think she took one sliver of Ceremonial Magick and assumed it applies to every person who chooses to wear the CM label - sort of like meeting a fringe member of the Mormon church (as portrayed in any of a hundred Pat Bagley cartoons) and assuming all Mormons are like this. It could be fun reading the books in tandem and having a few good conversations.

The big news came last night. About 10:00 PM I got a call from Pam. My Minerval is scheduled for noon next Saturday. It will be at Dave's place.

While out walking yesterday I was wondering how to prepare for the Minerval. Then I realized that the Minerval is not 'to be prepared for'. It marks the beginning of the time of preparation, with the first degree ritual being the object of preparations. So I smiled inwardly and determined to just live life and not do anything special to prepare. Just make sure I am sober and rested and in the right place at the right time. Wait for the books to come in from Amazon. Read the Chicken Qabalah. Get the UNIX docs wrapped up from work. Normal life.

The same problem, but on a lower plane, is with the new year. I was tempted to mark the new year with some sort of 'must do something' reaction, then had to remind myself that my year begins on the eighth. I don't have any plans for the Existential Angst Tour, and I don't think plans are needed. For Saturday, my hands will be full with the Minerval. For Sunday, that is when I will plan the next year. No matter where I go, there I am. So the planning (or The Tour) might take place at home - no....not at home... - in one or more coffee shops, a Denny's, the Mall, a local park, or something like that. Just find a place where Andy can have a private conversation with Andy.