The Magician’s Assistant

The ego is an amazing construct. That’s all it is, though.

“I” does not exist. “I” is a construct, and we forget that “I” is a construct. It is a convenient fiction that we use to communicate with one another. It is sort of a place-marker as well, a milestone in the old sense of a stone that marked the distance between one mile and another.

Or maybe a better analogy is to say that our ego is a bookmark. Here is where we are in this story, in this place, at this time, but there is story before and story after, and this character is going to be different at the end of this story than they were at the beginning. Maybe not even the same.

Or if the story is a tragedy, or a comedy (which are often interchangeable) the person, that “I,” does not change, does not learn, does not grow, and becomes a sad, stuck being. Or that “I” becomes a comical thing that is most useful as an object lesson, some”one” to be laughed at and not by any means imitated.

So when we become unstuck, and lose track of who we are, this is important, because it reminds us that the “I” who we thought we were is not “I” at all, is not even real in the remotest sense. Every day “I” is a reorganization or a recreation in response to what is happening in the world around us, for the most part. The true “I” is not the ego, is not the being named Harold Dlorah or Debra Sue Eusarbed.

Whatever the True “I” is, we are its expression at a certain point in space and time, in response to stimuli and circumstances. Whatever is experiencing this existence is the True “I” and most often what we feel to be ourselves is not our Self at all.

We apparently need reminders from time to time that we are not who we believe we are, that Harold Dlorah and Debra Sue Eusarbed are only characters in a tale that is still being written and played out on a stage far larger and more complex than we can imagine or behold. And behind every character is the same Author who is not One but Many, and who is not Many, but One and None.

It is wise to remember not to take the ego too seriously or believe in it implicitly, because when we lean in to take a look at it, it vanishes like the magician’s assistant; there but not there. Somewhere? Perhaps? Behind the curtain, under the false floor or reflected in the mirror or, or, or? She was there, now she is not, now she returns again. Where was she?

By going away, she becomes someone else. The magician’s assistant is not the same person who stepped into the magic box; she is changed because she underwent transformation, she was there and not-there at the same time. In a way she is more mysterious than the magician. Who is she? She is the one who was not there, and is there again now; One and None.

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In Defense of Kim Davis

No, I haven’t lost my mind. Kim Davis’ actions are foolish and against the law, and as such she has rightly come under public censure. It’s her job to grant marriage licenses. She isn’t doing it because of her religious beliefs. That is against the law, and she was sworn to uphold the law. She has broken the law and she will get the sanctions provided under the law.

We have the right to say that her actions, as a public official, are not right.

The part that bothers me is that we now know that she has been married four times and has what could be called a colorful, or troublesome, relationship history. She has been divorced three times, which, as many people gleefully pointed out, goes against Jesus’ teachings on divorce. And it is also true that Jesus said not one word about homosexuality, even though homosexuality was no secret in his day. The Romans and the Greeks were quite aware of it.

However, I have two questions. First, how did we, as a whole, find out about Kim Davis’ relationship history, and second, why are we so gleeful about it?

We found out about it because it’s a matter of public record, and public record is easy to search, especially online. Google provided the first clue, of course, and people followed up from there because a great many public records are online and easily accessible.

People laugh at Kim Davis’ “secrets” being revealed, but to paraphrase her favorite prophet, is there any one of us, really, who can presume to cast the first stone?  I won’t ask for a raise of hands, but how many people reading this have been divorced? How many have had children “out of wedlock?” And how many people reading this, when it comes down to it, have had a relationship history that is spotless and contains no heartache or train wrecks?

Thing is, Kim Davis’ actions should be enough for us. She is supposed to do her job, and she’s not doing it because of her religion, which is against the law for her to do. Really, honestly, that is it.

That is enough to censure her and it will be enough for the state of Kentucky to eventually fire her from her job or otherwise make her do what she is being paid to do. That by itself is enough to get aggravated at Kim Davis for, right there.

She is in the way of progress and she is bigoted. That much she has made no secret of, and so we can judge her by those actions.

The fact that she has been married four times and has a history of bad decisions when it comes to relationships is honestly not our business.

This is the flaw with saying “The personal is political.” It takes only a little further to go before we start making politics personal, and doing the kind of dirty infighting that should not happen. Because, ladies and gentlemen and all in between, it IS dirty pool to use someone’s personal flaws to rag on them in public; you learned that in 2nd grade, I hope. That is bullying, pure and simple. And we are supposed to be above bullying. Aren’t we?

The plague of both the Right and the Left is self-righteousness. People feel that they have the right to pronounce judgment on other people’s lifestyles and personal choices, and going even further, they feel that they have the right to mock other people for those life choices and personal choices. If those of us on the liberal/progressive side of things don’t like it when the right does it to us, then what makes us justified for doing it to them?

Nobody needs to make fun of Kim Davis for being a religious fundamentalist and for making bad relationship choices. She needs to be censured for the fact that she is not doing what she is being paid to do, and because she is standing in the way of progress. Mocking her because she’s been married four times is not really part of the deal.

I would dare say that chances are, the average person reading this has been divorced at least once and has had long-term relationships that ended as total flaming ruins with heartache and anger all around, and quite possibly kids involved. Because as Americans, we are really not all that great at marriage, statistically speaking.  It’s pretty well known that half of all marriages don’t make it.

So, before we talk about Kim Davis’ marriages, let’s check ourselves. You don’t have to be a church lady to be a hypocrite.

We also need to think about what gave anyone the right to know about Kim Davis’ former marriages. What actual need did we have for that information? What is it being used for? How did they get it?

Would you want someone to do the same thing to you?

No? Then why is it OK when it happens to people we don’t like?

Part of what is going on here is violation of people’s privacy.

Kim Davis is not right to do what she is doing. It’s against the law.

That’s enough. We don’t need to know anything else. But we do. Why? And why are we happy about it?

I’m asking this. What if it was us? What if our secrets were revealed? What if our pasts were made public? Are we that clean and that free of drama, trouble and “sin” that we can pick up that first stone?

Just asking.

Let’s keep it civil, folks.

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Happy Fourth of July

Any time Americans become afraid, especially of change or of things that they don’t understand, we keep running back to “God.”

Inevitably it is the Christian god, always the Protestant Christian God.

Particularly the most virulently ugly version possible, the one most resembling the primitive hill god of the Old Testament with his taste for blood, murder, slaughter, vengeance and abasement. A god of invaders and thieves, of people who had to justify their usurpation of the good lands their neighbors owned.

This is not a coincidence.

Americans need to be careful who we invoke because it says more about us than we think.

Happy Fourth of July.

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No letdown necessary.

The thing about working with Crowley and his system is that there will never be any Bill Cosby moments. Or you could think of them as Osho moments too. Or Ted Haggard nega-epiphanies.

That moment where something is revealed about someone that jars your perception of them and leaves you horribly disappointed and bitter. “No! Cliff Huxtable can’t be a serial rapist! Nooooo!”

Or, “Osho was Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh? The guy that was called The Sex Guru? The guy that ripped off all those people for all that money and took over a town to rename it after himself? NO! NO!”

Or, “Wait, you mean that my hero, Reverend Ted Haggard, who preached against homosexuality and sexual immorality…snorted crystal meth with his personal trainer and boned him in the butt? NOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

And then the post-crisis. Sob sob, boo hoo, the crushing bitterness ensues. The former True Believer ends up cursing all religion, and becomes a bitter Dawkinsist atheist who burns down nativity scenes, posts 47 page long screeds on the internet about how Buddhism causes ebola, and petitions City Hall for permission to lecture the City Council about how all religion is evidence of psychopathy. All that is within your rights to do, of course, but doing it out of bitter disappointment rather than pure clean hate provokes eye rolling and sighing from everyone but you.

None of this happens with Crowley. You know his reputation before you even come to the door.






Etc., etc. and so forth.

The shock with Crowley is reading something he wrote and going “Hey, wait, that made sense.”
That’s almost more shocking. “OK, so this guy said that? Huh. Light, Love, Liberty and Life? Really?”

So all of a sudden you find that this guy who was presented to you as the real live Depravo The Rat was a real, complicated human being with a lot of ideas and a crazy desire to experience the Divine in a completely different way than anybody had tried before.

Now of course some people go the other way and start worshiping Crowley, which is not the way to go about it, either. For one thing, it’s exhausting and expensive (and hazardous to your health) to re-enact everything he got up to. For the other thing, that’s not what he wanted.

I admit that my visions can never mean to other men as much as they do to me. I do not regret this. All I ask is that my results should convince seekers after truth that there is beyond doubt something worthwhile seeking, attainable by methods more or less like mine. I do not want to father a flock, to be the fetish of fools and fanatics, or the founder of a faith whose followers are content to echo my opinions. I want each man to cut his own way through the jungle.

So the end result is neither hero worship nor fear and disgust, but curiosity, and a head-scratching feeling: “OK, let me look at this again, because I think I missed something, but I almost got it – I think.” And I don’t think anyone will get it completely, because I’m not sure Crowley got it himself, Some in the dark, and some in the light.

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patti and my black heart (from old blog dated 11/12/08)

Patti Smith.

The piano comes in, almost not there.

“Jesus died for somebody’s sins but not mine,” she says.

You have to be with me there, a boy in Mississippi in 1975, 10 years behind the rest of the country, surrounded by florid pigfaced men screaming DEATH HELL DAMNATION SIN. Only two years before I was at Bible Baptist Christian School listening to preaching in the morning and at noon and a prayer before you went home.

“Jesus died for somebody’s sins, but not mine,” she said, again, as if to make sure I heard.

What she said went through me like lightning, like a spasm of pain, like coming, like standing on the edge of a building naked to the sky. Patti was speaking from a world where Jesus was not the be-all and end-all of existence. Where Accepting Jesus As Your Personal Savior was not automatic and Hell was not feared, nor was the sick raving Father mollified and coddled by people running to the altar every Sunday.

“Madmen, thieves
A wild card up my sleeves
Thick heart of stone

It split me in two and my pulsing heart was in there. My pulsing black heart was in there singing with her and I saw it. For her there was no terror of the sick Father Nobodaddy of Blake’s perception. She didn’t heap her sins on Christ’s shoulders. She took responsibility for them and not only that, she reveled in them, they were her possession, she wore them around her neck and her fingers and her waist and on a chain where they rested against her breasts, inside the man’s shirt underneath the tie,
on the cover with her chin lifted up saying I FEAR NOTHING IN HEAVEN, HELL OR EARTH and my black heart pounding in heretical fierce joy, the fierce joy of rebellion which is as the sin of witchcraft flowing through me too, and I afraid of this fierce joy and this new black heart beating and this pure act of witchcraft I was committing by even listening to her sing this perfect and beautiful blasphemy. Terrified and entranced I was transfixed

“I move in this here atmosphere
where anything’s allowed…”

and in a breath I knew that this here atmosphere was within me too, that the secret blasphemy of the black heart of fierce joy was my calling and my true self was there and the world was not Mississippi, the endless red dirt and churches with sickly hymns and the red faced red eyed men with choking ties and burnt-off hair praising God with one breath and cursing everyone with the other, that Mississippi was not a world at all and I DID NOT BELONG THERE and My True Black Hearted Self was Revealed to me for the first time and I stood there swaying in Terror and Dazzling Joy as Patti told her tale of woman to woman transfigurative Holy Fuck Lust to the rising roar of electric guitar and it comes crashing:



and then I knew who I was, at last. I was one of Them, I had found my wolf pack crazy tribe and they were calling me and finally my werewolf black heart ripped out of my chest and I Knew. Jesus Died For Somebody’s Sins But Not Mine. And I couldn’t fool myself any longer no matter how much I tried after that, because underneath the skin I could feel my black heart beating the werewolf tune. That was how I found myself that time.


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Some thoughts on Thelema, all of which could be wrong

mia may, 1919, Die Herrin der WeltPeople keep asking me questions about Thelema. I have no idea why, because I am a Minerval.

But here is what I have to say about some matters Thelemic. Mind you: this is MY OPINION and nothing more.

And by the way: if anyone ever tells you that there is ONE absolute interpretation of this or that part of the Book of the Law, or Crowley’s writings, or Thelema, or whatever, that person is to be avoided. Do what THOU wilt shall be the whole of the Law. Not what he wilt, she wilt, they wilt or even what the Grand High Walla Walla of the Secret Order of the Ingdab Pigbones wilt. What THOU wilt.

So nothing I say is to be taken as writtten in stone. Nor is anything else anyone else says to be taken as written in stone.

1) A Thelemite is simply someone who accepts “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law,” and “Love is the law, love under will,” as a guiding rule of life. That is all. And that is according to Crowley, not me. You don’t have to be a member of the OTO, or the EGC, or A:.A:., or any other Order of any kind to be a Thelemite. You just have to accept the principles of Thelema as a guiding rule of life. The End. All these other orders I named above can be extremely helpful in understanding Thelema. However, membership is not necessary for being a Thelemite.

2) You should believe very little of what you hear about Aleister Crowley, and almost none of what you read online. The best bio of Crowley is by Richard Kaczynski, and it’s called Perdurabo. It is also about the size of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and weighs approximately the same as a brick. That’s not to say that it isn’t interesting as hell and well written; it is. And if you want to know about Crowley, that’s your source. And it will confirm or deny all the rumors you ever heard about Aleister Crowley. So rather than make assumptions, I wish people would read the biography and have done with it.

Was Aleister Crowley a nice man? No, he was not. Was he a complete wretch? No, he was not. Like the rest of us, he did things that were good and bad. He made some awful mistakes and had some grand triumphs as well. But there is no denying that he could be a quite difficult person. There is also no denying (as far as I am concerned) that he was the leading occultist of his age. Without him, a lot of what we know as occultism now would not exist, or it would be in a very different form. That includes Wicca, because Gerald Gardner was involved with the OTO and was a sometime student of Crowley.

Could Crowley be an awful person? Absolutely. But I will assert: why does it matter? I worked for a hospital as a secretary in the Cardiology department. I knew doctors who were horrible people to work for, horrible people to be around, cheated on their wives with nurses, spent way too much money, partied hard, you name it. But in the operating room they worked miracles and saved people’s lives routinely. Does it matter if they were horrible people? Good question.

Crowley put himself in the position to be an occultist. He could have done just about anything, but he chose to be an occultist. He put his money where his mouth was. Whatever else you can say about Crowley, he did the work. He put himself in harm’s way and did everything he could do to get in contact with the Divine. That is not in question. He had a considerable fortune, and blew every cent of it. Most of it went for publishing his books about Magick, philosophy, yoga and other esoteric subjects. Sure, he definitely spent a chunk of it on wine, women (and men) and song. But the majority of it was spent in the pursuit of the Divine.

When Crowley died, he was in his 70s and had a lot of health problems related to his asthma. He was pretty sickly there at the end. He died broke, but he had a suitcase of money under the bed that he didn’t touch. It was earmarked for publishing his last book. He could have made his life much easier by spending it, but he didn’t. That says something about him.

I’m not cutting the guy any slack. But if you separate what he did as a magician from the car wreck he could be as a person, it’s a fairly amazing body of work. And I am someone who did not start out as a fan of Crowley. So, for whatever that’s worth. My opinion only.

3) The worst place to learn about Thelema is online. DO NOT go to the Facebook groups. DO NOT snoop around the Thelemic bulletin boards, news groups, and all such. (There are a few exceptions, but even then you must be careful.) There are a lot of people with a lot of axes to grind, and a lot of people who are ex-members of Thelemic organizations who are very angry. There are a lot of people who were wanna-bees and dropped out because of their misinterpretation of what Crowley was talking about or their misinterpretation of what this, that, or the other person purporting to explain Thelema said. Nitpickers and nutcases abound, conspiracy theorists and flying saucer reptile people from the Pleiades enthusiasts, and on and on and on and on.

So what is the best way to learn about Thelema? Personally, I think that reading the Book of the Law is a good start. It is a short book and an uneasy read. Crowley himself was very troubled by it and hid it away for a number of years. The first time you read it, it is very unlikely that you will understand it. I don’t. But if it’s any consolation, Crowley himself never fully understood it.

And that’s the point, I think. If we keep reading, keep experimenting, and keep on until the end (and there is no end) we will learn who we Are. And that, I think, is the point of Thelema. From my POV. Individually. As a person. Who could always be wrong.


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August 23, 2014 · 6:41 pm



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