May 24, 8:20 AM
I am at Peery's Egyptian Theater Convention Center in Ogden, Utah. This is the "Unite the Divided" conference sponsored by Hoor-Paar-Kraat Oasis. I am here (in descending order of influence) out of guilt (payback for making the March 15th Horus event so good), the chance to meet Lon Milo DuQuette, and just plain insanity. Except for the few hours last night between work and bed that I used to stage for the weekend, I am booked solid through late Monday night. I will be spending only enough time at home to switch context and attach a trailer to the back of my car. I will spend all day today at the event, arrive between 10 and midnight tonight at Lisa's, drive her to the airport at 5:00 Sunday morning, then back to Ogden for half a day. When that half day is done ate 3:00 I will drive to Provo, stop long enough to swap out the junk in the car and hitch a trailer to the back, and go to Cedar City. I will collapse in a quivering heap for a fitful night’s sleep. Then I get to move Michael, pack up Melinda’s stuff, drive it north to Provo and unload. I will once again collapse in quivering heap, then go into the office Tuesday morning.
Why do I do these things to myself?
I am listening to Lon play guitar, in preparation for the 'lecture'. He plays guitar? As part of his presentation? This should be interesting.
Having given all the wrong reasons for being here, it is time to choose my real inner reason. And that is....don't know.
[Break in writing to listen to Lon – then to see the film]
The film maker was wearing a t-shirt with the name of the film on it, "A Hero Denied". Walking past him, I misread it, with the folds of the shirt helping, as "A Herd Divided". After thinking a minute, I realized that the name fits. We, as a people, are little better than a herd. We are also quite divided. It fits very well.
I guess when you have fame - even within a small tribe such as the O.T.O. - you can show up for an event and please the people even if you don’t do freaking much of anything. If you do a little 'much of anything' it is well received whether it is related to the theme of the gathering or not. Toward the end of his time, Lon asked us, "What is this supposed to be about?" OK – it really was much better than that. But there was an undercurrent of ‘slack for the adored’.
"Unite the Divided", he was reminded. The largest single bit of Lon's presentation was very entertaining, but had nothing to do with the matter at hand. What preceded and followed was very much on topic, and will be better remembered for having framed a fun little story.
Yes, Lon did play guitar as part of the presentation. He was a professional musician earlier in life, and now uses this to add to his other endeavors. The songs were witty and had a good point to them.
As with any such event, for all of the talking, there are only a half dozen things the presenter really wants to say. Given a chance he could say them in a few minutes. Each person in the audience will remember only one or two of these points - if anything at all is remembered - but will still feel well served. The other 58 minutes are just fluff and frame and repeating the messages often enough to make them stick. Without consulting my notes, here is what I got for my money:
1. The people who are the most divided are the ones who share the most in common.
2. The people who are most united are those who have met face to face.
Interestingly enough, these statements were made during the question answer period after the presentation. As truth number one was given, it was all clear to me. The Muslim factions tearing Iraq apart right now are mainly fighting other Muslims. Fighting the U.S. occupation is something of a side show for them. More of the bombs going off in Baghdad are meant to kill Sunni or Shia than are meant to kill U.S. forces. After all, it is easy to dismiss a member of the 'other' religion as lost soul and a hopeless cause, just so long as he doesn't get between me and my piece of the pie. But when a so called member of the True Faith takes the word of God, the TRUE word of god, then distorts it for an EVILE purpose, corrupting believers and turning them into infidels....well....THAT needs to be dealt with in the harshest manner. There is nothing so low as an apostate. (Example - in the Mormon reality, the only soul to become a son of perdition and get to the lowest ring of hell is the one who once possessed the truth, in knowledge and not in faith, then turned against it.) The other side of this mirror is that the person in the other schism is the one most likely to tell me what to do and how to do it. Until this happens, I am willing to ignore him, even if I know he exists. After this happens, I sure has hell know who he is and am likely not to like him.
As for truth number two, this seems obvious. It is obvious. And it works. Because it works, it is the job of the leader to keep us apart from the other, and to cast them in a light that makes them less human, less of a brother or sister.
Lon opened with a statement, "Magick is not my life, but I use magick to make my life magickal." He expounded and expanded on this. If 'magician' is how you define yourself, then you have a problem. If you just MUST make sure everyone you meet know you DO MAGICK, then you have a problem. If you self define in terms of your joys, then count magick as one of the tools used to achieve your joys, then you have...different problems (but at least not this particular problem.)
There were books for sale, and I fell to the temptation. "The Accidental Christ", a book I judged to be fairly well reeking of irreverence. So far I have read a few pages and there is no irreverence yet. I may be wrong. But wrong or right, I think I will be well entertained. Yes - I got it signed.
When the crowd cleared for a bit, I pulled Lon aside and asked for advice on how to handle Horus. I start by saying, "I am acting body master of Horus Oasis and I am hating every minute of it." That statement brought a smile. I knew I was talking to someone who had 'been there, done that'. The first thing he said was, "Be a benevolent dictator, but don't let them know it." So I asked, "What part don't I let them know: The benevolent part, or the dictator part?" (The dictator part.) He expanded on this. "Don't EVER decide on things by taking a vote. Accept input, and make a choice based on this. But once the choice is made, just tell them when and where they need to be to participate, then let them choose to show up. He mentioned the term 'ipso facto', I responded with my translation of 'this is the way things is' and that worked.
The rest of the answer fell into the category of things I already knew but had forgotten that I knew. He mentioned that he knew large lodges that only had a few people showing up for activities, so that was nothing new. Then he gave an example from his own life, of holding a weekly class on magick. During the early stages, he was usually the only person there. (He also mentioned making then short classes of 6 to 8 parts max.) Isn't this close to the essay "It takes more than goats"? I guess this could be called “Finding My Zen” on the matter. So I will pretend the Oasis is just me and Holly and Beverly, I will take steps with them to make that work (Mass team, initiation team, etc.), and we will keep on playing OTO. I will also assume that the larger and wonderful oasis that will exist 5 years from now will be made up mostly of people who have not been initiated yet.
Finally, he said this: The most important thing for me is - be true to myself: Before the order, before the body, and before Grand Lodge.
Hold the events, make it regular, and expect that, for quite some time, the only person there will be me.
I'm still pissed off about how March 15 turned out. An initiation shouldn't be surrounded with so much effort on the part of the initiate. (Maybe it is an allegory - Maybe the universe is telling me that I'm going to have to work real hard to bring about my own death. Isn't that just encouraging?)
For the last several weeks, and especially this last week, the theater of my mind has been putting on some grand productions. I have imagined all sorts of events, betrayals and slights followed by my wounded and righteous withdrawal from the OTO. As usual, this shit was going on for a while before I stopped myself and recognized it was happening. Then it took a little while longer to analyze why it was happening. This is my subconscious telling me I want OUT. But the drama also often is framed in terms preceded by the failure for the large wonderful oasis to materialize. So is it that I want out all the way, or that I don't want to fail? Either way, it seems I want to be able to conveniently have someone else to blame (hence the imagined slight or offense). Holy crap. I thought I was slightly past this sort of drama? Then again, silly monkey is wired to learn lessons over and over before they finally stick.
So - brass tacks for Horus. Monthly mass. Coffee and/or class twice a month. Declare a day and do it. Tuesday? Monday? One of those. I will commit to this for a period (six months? three?) and see what happens. If I make it open ended I will get discouraged too soon. If I commit to a period, I will stick to it even if no one ever shows up.
"A Hero Denied" is the story of Patrick Stewart, a Nevada National Guard Member killed in Afghanistan, and the fight to allow the Wiccan pentacle to decorate his Veteran’s Administration supplied headstone. Good movie. Educational. I find I interesting that the VA didn’t fight the pentacle issue because anyone in the White House told them to. Instead, they fought it because they tried to second guess the White House, and surmised that – if they knew about it to begin with – the White House would tell them to fight it. Is this how bad the Bush Administration is? Do we have government agencies living in such fear of the Bushies? Is everyone spending more time looking over their shoulder for the shadow of Big Brother that is begins to interfere with the correct execution of their jobs?