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.