From the heavens…

July 21, 2009

As I prepare an essay on an odd occurrence from my formative college years, I thought I would give you something to ponder… a discovery on youtube that you may find illuminating.

The Occult Detective


A Transformative Event, Part I

July 21, 2009

Part I, Strange Bedfellows

On August 9th through 12th of 2006, I attended Wizard World Chicago, a large comic and pop culture convention held every year at the Donald E Stephen’s Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois, on the edge of the Chicago O’Hare International Airport.  It was Friday evening, following the second day of the show, and first full day of the show, and I was in my 6th floor room at the Embassy Suites across the street.  I slept deeply, because these shows can wear your out.

I’m a large, middle-aged man with severe sleep apnea, so I sleep alone and wear a breathing apparatus attached by a hose to a Respironics CPAP machine.  This was nothing new, and I had been assisted by this machine for two-and-a-half years at this point.  Even with the room’s air conditioner turned to max, it was still uncomfortably warm for me, and I slept with only a sheet over me.

At approximately 2:00 a.m., after having been asleep for at least four hours, I awoke to witness three beings standing by the edge of my bed.  My first impression was that these people (?) were literally downloading information into me.

For whatever reason, I was neither alarmed nor puzzled.  I don’t know if I suffered from sleep paralysis or not, because I made no attempt to move, but likewise didn’t feel constrained in any way.  I can’t say if it was because I didn’t want to upset the process, or what, but I was calm and at peace with what was happening.

The beings were somewhat indistinct.  They were, I believe, physical, or perhaps very realized on an astral level.  They were all three identical, in form-fitting white garments that lacked seams or folds.  Either they were nearly human sized, or they floated high enough off the floor to appear human height.  I could not see their hands from my vantage, which were at their sides.  The oddest thing about them was that their heads far outsized their bodies, or, more likely, the radiance/aura they emitted did, and the light of their heads hid their actual features away.  It was as if they had large light bulbs for heads.

For an indeterminate amount of time, I observed these three.  I knew there was an exchange or downloading of information going on, but what it was I didn’t know.  Unconcerned, I drifted back to sleep.  It sounds outlandish to go to sleep when confronted with something so blatantly paranormal, but part of the experience was a feeling of safety and calmness.

The next morning, I awoke with a crystal clear memory of what had transpired, and the memory became set as something of a signpost in my mind.  I didn’t tell anyone about it for weeks, and I didn’t want to.  To be honest with myself, I almost felt lucky to have been treated to this.

If you came to the conclusion that perhaps I had had a particularly vivid lucid dream, I wouldn’t blame you.  Nor could I categorically deny it.  I’ve had many lucid dreams over the years, as have most people, but this felt completely different.  Perhaps you might say that what I encountered was founded not in our four-dimensional consensual reality, but in some subjective reality of my own.  Again, maybe.  There were no physical trace effects in the room or on my body that I could see, and absolutely no evidence that anyone or any entity had made an outside entry through the rooms sealed windows.  Consequently, despite these people’s feeling of mass and physical presence, I can only think that they were astral, or materialized there, or some such.

Am I particularly reliable witness?  As far as I’m concerned, yes: I’m educated, traveled, and reasonably well respected.  But, as a cartoonist and writer, I make a meager living off my imagination, so I doubt that makes me unimpeachable.

At first I felt that this was some sort of astral initiation rite, that perhaps the so-called Secret Chiefs of 19th century occultism had singled me out for some sort of elevation.  (That idea was courtesy of Bob Freeman, who I consulted early on in the process.)  Later, I became concerned that these people were aliens, and perhaps I had been abducted.  I’m glad to say that I don’t believe the latter is the case.  There was nothing ‘alien’ or unduly ominous about these three, and I don’t believe I was taken from my room or marked, tagged, etc., in any way.

In any case, despite the singular nature of this encounter for me, I suppose it could have been written off as some sort of bizarre dream state if nothing else happened.  Things did happen, though, and this event led into a particular odd period of my life laced with high strangeness.  I’ll cover that in another post to this thread.  I’ll also post a drawing I made of this event.

In the six months that followed what I now refer to as a Transformative Event, a great deal of change and synchronicity entered my life.  While I wouldn’t call most of this High Strangeness, it was still all quite strange for me.

As soon as I got home from Chicago, I began to fill a journal book with ideas.  Information was cascading in at me from every direction, and I made a point of trying to get my thoughts down.  I had always been interested in cosmology, but now I was being assaulted by rather complete and coherent ideas about consciousness, reality, space and time, psychic ability, and magic.  As I filled page after page of my notebook, I kept suddenly coming across interesting idea synchronicities, where I discovered that lead thinkers in their fields were coming up concepts similar to what I had written down.

I’ll cover these ideas in the next installment.  I also will make it clear that I am not trying to put myself on a level with the great thinkers of our time when they arrived at similar conclusions.  I won’t even claim that that I haven’t come across some of these ideas in singular forms in my past readings, conveniently storing them away in my subconscious.  I will say, however, that all these ideas had reached a critical mass, assumed a coherent and workable form, and piled into my mental queue waiting to be written out.  Where these ideas part of the “download” I had experienced in that hotel room?  I believe so.


An Arctic Mystery?

July 19, 2009
By WESLEY LOY / ANCHORAGE / Sat Jul 18, 3:30 pm ET

A group of hunters aboard a small boat out of the tiny Alaska village of Wainwright were the first to spot what would eventually be called “the blob.” It was a dark, floating mass stretching for miles through the Chukchi Sea, a frigid and relatively shallow expanse of Arctic Ocean water between Alaska’s northwest coast and the Russian Far East. The goo was fibrous, hairy. When it touched floating ice, it looked almost black.

But what was it? An oil slick? Some sort of immense, amorphous organism adrift in some of the planet’s most remote waters? Maybe a worrisome sign of global climate change? Or was it something insidious and, perhaps, even carnivorous like the man-eating jello from the old Steve McQueen movie that inspired the Alaskan phenomenon’s nickname? (Read Richard Corliss’ review of The Thing, a sci-fi film set in the Arctic.)

The hunters got word to the U.S. Coast Guard, which immediately sent two spill response experts to fly over the mass, which looked sort of rusty from the air. They also approached it by boat. The North Slope Borough, the local government for the vast and sparsely populated cap of Alaska, sent its own people out the main village of Barrow to have a look. They scooped up jars of the stuff for analysis in a state lab in Anchorage.

“We responded as if it were an oil product,” says Coast Guard Petty Officer Terry Hasenauer. “It was described to us as an oil-like substance, thick and lingering below the surface of the water. Those characteristics can indicate heavy, degraded oil, maybe crude oil, or possibly an intermediate fuel oil.” Meanwhile, the story spread over the internet like an oil-spill, giving lots of people a queasy feeling. (Check out a story about the coming battle for the resources of the Arctic.)

Test results released Thursday showed the blob wasn’t oil, but a plant – a massive bloom of algae. While that may seem less dangerous, a lot of people are still uneasy. It’s something the mostly Inupiat Eskimo residents along Alaska’s northern coast say they could never remember seeing before. (See pictures of the Arctic.)

Algal blooms are a common and often menacing event along many U.S. coastlines. Some strains are toxic and can close beaches and poison seafood, posing a hazard to consumers. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration maintains a forecasting system for the Gulf of Mexico to warn of harmful Florida blooms. On Thursday, on the other side of the continent, U.S. Sen. Olympia Snowe, a Maine Republican, urged NOAA to direct at least $500,000 to assess a disastrous red tide – a form of algal bloom. “The state of Maine is currently besieged by the most virulent red tide event ever recorded in the region,” Snowe wrote. “As a result of this outbreak, virtually the entire coast of our state has been closed to the harvest of clams, mussels, ocean quahogs, and other shellfish.”

While Alaskans may find the algal blob unusual if not frightening, scientists say that algal blooms are nothing new in Arctic Ocean waters, though the blob itself might be a little weird. Brenda Konar, a marine biology professor at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, said algal outbreaks can and do occur even in icy Arctic waters. It just takes the right combination of nutrients, light and water temperature, she said. “Algae blooms,” she says. “It’s sort of like a swimming pool that hasn’t been cleaned in a while.” The blob, Konar said, is a microalgae made up of “billions and billions of individuals.” “We’ve observed large blooms in the past off Barrow although none of them at all like this,” Barry Sherr, an Oregon State University professor of oceanography, said in an e-mail. “The fact that the locals say they’ve never seen anything like it suggests that it might represent some exotic species which has drifted into the region, perhaps as a result of global change. For the moment that’s just a guess.”

So far in Alaska, nothing suggests the Chukchi Sea blob is toxic, although the Coast Guard’s Hasenauer said toxicity tests were planned. In any case, virtually no commercial seafood production comes from the waters along Alaska’s northern coast, but residents do fish, hunt whales and harvest other animals as part of a traditional subsistence lifestyle. In the meantime, the blob for the most part is staying away from the shoreline and slowly drifting farther and farther away.


The Windows of Perception

July 17, 2009

The Windows Of Perception

One of the key skills in the world of the paranormal is learning to see things for what they are, not what they appear to be.  I used to think that this was an inborn ability, and one more common to the Celtic peoples of the world (those descended from Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Mann, Brittany, etc.)  I’m not so sure about that anymore.  I’ve encountered people from many different ethnic backgrounds who have had the windows of their perception opened.

First, a little more about myself, and my relevance to this subject.  I’ve always been able to see the invisible, glimpses of the world behind the world.  I would not say my skill in this is anything more than moderate, but I have no real way to gauge that.  In recent years, I’ve taken to drawing people I know, but not as they physically appear, but as they resolve into symbols and extreme imagery.  I’m a comic artist, and that means I can draw anything, so taking these perceptions and putting them down of paper is not a challenge for me.  Soon, when I get the gumption to scan these arcane portraits, I’ll show them off here.

These visions of the other world usually come unbidden and are fleeting.  Sometimes, when you are in the right frame of reference, you can take longer, harder looks behind the veil.  It has long been my contention that we can easily access the paranormal, that it’s all around us all the time, and that even many of the things that seem mundane are magic forces in action for those who can recognize them for what they are.

I believe it’s worthwhile to say a few words about achieving the right frame of mind.  I’ve practiced meditation since I was a teenager, and I’ve discovered in my 40’s that I can often reach a profound state of   “no mind.”  That is the one of the primary points of meditation, to clear the clutter and competing voices of the mind and find inner silence.  Then, when everything is quiet, and there are no distractions, you can produce powerful feats of will, projecting your thoughts out across the aether and the universe.  (I’ll cover this in much greater detail in the future.)

I am not trying to sound New Agey when I make these claims.  Unfortunately, many of the primary sources have already influenced the New Age movement, and thus it shares much of the same language.  It is also useful for you to remember that achieving a state of no mind, or Zen, is essentially the same as prayer, or religious ceremonies, or magic, or whirling dervishes spinning themselves into alternate states of consciousness, etc. etc.  Henceforth, I shall refer to all such states as Alternate States of Consciousness, or ASC’s.

In my teens and twenties, I had a powerfully effective technique for self-hypnosis.  As the years wore on, traditional self-hypnosis became less and less effective for me.  Now, it works not at all.  I don’t know why this is the case, but it is.  I also have no access to hallucinogens, legal or illegal, so that’s off the table too.  This doesn’t mean that I have no access to ASC’s, though.  Indeed, there is always meditation, but perhaps my most powerful access point is music.

Songs are powerful gateway drugs, really.  When I abandon my mind to the music, I am suddenly energized, ideas start flying at me from all directions, and I receive powerful inspirations.  Not every song or artist will do this for me, you understand.  It’s got to be music I really love, and music that I’m very familiar with.  I’ve even gone so far as to have music change my perception of my surrounding, making everything seem hyper real and paper thin at the same time, making my every thought and observation seem rich and resonant.  It is an exhilarating state, and I’ve done most of my best artwork in this frame of mind.

There may be other such trigger mechanisms, one’s I’ve never considered.  I’m sure it’s different for every person.  The actual nature of the ASC is the same across the board, and it’s one of our most powerful tools in contacting the “other.”  So, while I have no intention of putting on hot clothes and spinning in the sun until I see visions and am granted wisdom, I’ll certainly be happy to put my favorite CDs on and rock out to the cosmos.



Spirit Animals

July 15, 2009

shadows dark

I wrote this post well over a month ago, and just haven’t had time to stop by to post it. I’ve since debated whether or not to post it at all, however I am curious about others’ experiences and would really like to see some discussion generated on this topic. I do have some heavier, more serious topics coming up, I promise.
Jodi Lee

A small menagerie resides in my house. There are six cats, three dogs, a guinea pig and a fish. Four cats, two dogs, the guinea pig and the fish have heartbeats, the others are spirit animals.

I know what some of you might say. ‘Animals don’t have souls so they can’t leave a spirit behind.’ I’d challenge that with every living thing has a spirit, a soul – even the planet. I know what I’ve seen and felt. We have two spirit cats and a spirit dog. Actually, there may be two spirit dogs, as one appears in the altar mirror once in a while, but as for walking around, tail wagging and doggie-breath, it’s one. I’ve told Bear’s story elsewhere, but suffice to say here that she had a few bad years in the ten or so of her life, most of which I could have prevented, and I will forever be saddened by. She forgave me my leaving her behind, and is one of the spirits in this house, one of many we brought with us when we moved in here.

I have awakened to a cold, wet nose on mine more than once, we hear her toenails on the floor in the kitchen, we’ve seen her shadow move through a room. I have, still half-asleep, reached out to pet her when I felt her get on the bed. While our Little Bear physically shares the same build as her grandma, they are different in coloring… Bear Sr. was almost all black, except for her legs, which were palest cream, almost white. There is no way I could mistake younger for the elder, particularly since the younger sleeps in my daughter’s room every night, and the door is closed. There is just no way around it, despite all the hardships she was put through, Bear has stayed with her family, even in death.

My first pet, Maggie the Cat, has been with me since I was five years old. She was thirteen years old and almost overnight it seemed her age had caught up with her; she became very ill. The vet informed us she had liver cancer, and even at sixteen, I knew the best option for her was the Rainbow Bridge. The poor vet had never had such an emotional pair as my mother and I, and after it was done we took her home to bury her under the apple tree. My grandfather had built a tiny coffin, and lined it with silk stolen from the lining of my grandma’s good coat. I was heartbroken, and nearly inconsolable.

A week later, she came to sleep on my bed, curling up by my pillow, and purring. She has done this almost every night for the last twenty years. I know I’m not dreaming, and I know it’s not my imagination. I’ve been sitting up in bed, wide awake, with lights on and reading, and I’ll feel the steps across my legs, and movement near the pillow. Within moments, I’ll hear her purr.

The most prominent animal spirit in the house is that of Pyewacket. Pye was originally meant to be my cat, but in no time Pye became my youngest daughter’s constant companion. He was only two years old when he was killed in a most cruel and inhumane way. Care was heartbroken, as were we all, but she lost all of her spark and hid away from everyone and every thing. It was several months before we were able to accept he was in fact gone for good, and only after the persons responsible told the girls how it had been done (also in a very cruel and inhumane way.)

Pye is now a regular visitor in Care’s room, and occasionally stops in mine. Some nights, usually around the time of year that he was killed, we hear his voice, yowling as only a Siamese can. We have a picture of him looking out of the altar mirror; very obviously Pye, but there is no cat in front of the mirror.

Have you had a similar experience? Perhaps someone you know has been visited by a deceased furry family member? Share your thoughts!

Jodi Lee


A story that begs to be retold

July 13, 2009

Being a History of the “Simon” Necronomicon

The Doom that Came to Chelsea

by Alan Cabal

My ex-wife died back in March, after a long and heroic bout with cancer. She walked out on me in 1997, but we remained on good enough terms that I hosted her first and only visit to Vegas in October of 2001. Las Vegas was a refuge from the maudlin hysteria of the time. She was dazzled by it. I got to spend a week with her last year, just before I drove to California. I didn’t think I’d be coming back, and we both knew that this would probably be our last time together.

She had just enough strength to walk down the driveway to the mailbox, so we spent the week just hanging out, smoking pot and watching television, going over old times. The pot counteracted the nausea from the chemo and kept her appetite up. I brought her a stuffed toy camel from the Hard Rock Cafe in Bahrain and a keffiya from Beirut, and offered pep talks about spontaneous remissions and her old Lotto habit.

“The odds on Lotto are pretty bad,” I said, “but you played it twice a week. Your chances of beating this are much better.”

I managed to hold back the tears until I got back to my apartment in Manhattan. I had a tricky moment in the airport bar, but then again, I always do in those places.

I first laid eyes on Bonnie at a bar called the Bells of Hell on 13th St. just west of 6th Ave. where the Cafe Loup now resides. The Bells of Hell was a hardcore Irish joint with a bar in the front and a good-sized performance space in the back. The location and name made the place a natural watering hole for the customer base of Herman Slater’s Magickal Childe, up in Chelsea at 35 W. 19th St. The Magickal Childe was ground zero for the occult explosion in New York City in the 1970s.

Herman Slater and his lover Ed Buczynski had a little occult emporium on Henry St. in Brooklyn, just off Atlantic Ave., back in the early 1970s. They mainly sold herbs, candles and oils, but they also carried a modest selection of books. The Warlock Shop was just a hole in the wall, but despite its humble appearance, it was a true cash cow. In 1976, the duo pulled up stakes and moved the operation to Chelsea.

At the Magickal Childe, there was enough space to dramatically increase the merchandise offered, and since Herman had the cash and the connections, the new store became, in effect, the one-stop-shop for any and all conjuring needs. In addition to herbs, oils, candles, books, robes, swords and other accoutrements of the Art, one could find human skulls, dried bats, mummified cat’s paws and a wide variety of unusual jewelry, a large portion of which was created by Bonnie, my ex-wife-to-be. A room in the back of the store served as a temple and classroom for the various strains of wicca that began to gravitate to the place.

That temple also served as the launching pad for the explosive growth of Aleister Crowley’s Ordo Templi Orientis (OTO) in the city in the late 70s and early 80s.

Herman had vigorously encouraged and supported the creation of the Schlangekraft Necronomicon, edited by “Simon.” No doubt he’d grown weary of explaining to customers that H.P. Lovecraft’s fabled forbidden tome was a fiction, a plot device for great horror stories and nothing more. He was savvy enough to sell leftover chicken bones as human finger bones to wannabe necromancers, so he surely knew that the market for a “genuine” Necronomicon could be huge–with the right packaging. In 1977, the book made its debut in the window of Herman’s little shop of horrors in Chelsea. It generated a scene of its own, a scene bursting with mad, unfocused creativity and slapstick mayhem.

Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shea had just published their Illuminatus trilogy, and interest in secret societies and occult lore was sweeping through counterculture circuits. Grady McMurtry was attempting to jumpstart the long-dormant OTO in California and had just succeeded in having Aleister Crowley’s Thoth tarot deck published. Punks and proto-goth/industrial types searched out obscure Satanic treatises and rare tracts from the seemingly defunct Process Church of the Final Judgement. Unrepentant hippies and uber-feminists found common ground in the gentle, woodsy eco-cult of the wicca, available in enough variant “traditions” to suit any palate with an appetite for sweets.

None of the wiccan “traditions” were any older than the electric light bulb, and the OTO had its origins in a very dubious Masonic lineage of no greater antiquity than aniline dyes, but that didn’t stop any of us from having a good time. The Necronomicon was not merely the icing on the cake: It was the hideous formless mass that squatted gibbering and piping where the bride and groom should be.

This was the 1970s, and the whole scene was awash in drugs and crazy sex. Herman had an appetite for rough trade and kept a steady stream of dope-crazed street hustlers flowing down from the Haymarket Saloon up on 8th Ave. above Port Authority. He’d keep them around until they ripped him off, then give them the boot and move on to the next one. He liked them big and stupid, a total contrast with Eddie’s graceful and intelligent demeanor.

The differing wicca groups were squabbling over the supposed validity of lineage, and there were no fewer than four established OTO groups internationally, each claiming exclusive dominion over the brand and trademarks. As a lifelong student of what Crowley termed “magick” (the “k” inserted to distinguish the practice from prestidigitation), I have never been a big fan of what I call the “booga-booga” school of magick. I tend to see the practice more as a form of radical self-help and advanced covert sales technique than any kind of actual traffic with disembodied critters and goblins. That said, between the copious amounts of hallucinogens ingested and the spells and counterspells hurled around, there were times when the vibes around the store congealed and quivered like a great Waldorf Salad.

Into this bubbling swamp of spiritual fecundity stepped Peter Levenda, aka “Simon.” Charming, soft-spoken and aloof, well-versed in all aspects of occult theory and practice, he eased his way to the center of the scene. The Necronomicon was a team effort. Herman provided the sponsorship, while the design and layout were the work of Jim Wasserman of the OTO, a raving cokehead from Jersey named Larry Barnes whose daddy had the production facilities and a fellow who called himself Khem Set Rising (who also designed the sigils). The text itself was Levenda’s creation, a synthesis of Sumerian and later Babylonian myths and texts peppered with names of entities from H.P. Lovecraft’s notorious and enormously popular Cthulhu stories. Levenda seems to have drawn heavily on the works of Samuel Noah Kramer for the Sumerian, and almost certainly spent a great deal of time at the University of Pennsylvania library researching the thing. Structurally, the text was modeled on the wiccan Book of Shadows and the Goetia, a grimoire of doubtful authenticity itself dating from the late Middle Ages.

“Simon” was also Levenda’s creation. He cultivated an elusive, secretive persona, giving him a fantastic and blatantly implausible line of bullshit to cover the book’s origins. He had no telephone. He always wore business suits, in stark contrast to the flamboyant Renaissance fair, proto-goth costuming that dominated the scene. He never got high in public.

In short, he knew the signifiers and emblems of authority, and played them to the hilt. He hinted broadly of dealings with intelligence agencies and secret societies operating at global levels of social influence. He began teaching classes in the back room, and showed a genuine knack for clarifying and elucidating such baroque encrypted arcana as John Dee’s Enochian magick system in such a way as to make it understandable even to a novice. He also lacked the guts to let a woman know when he was through with her, or so Bonnie said. She was positioned to know at the time, despite her failing marriage to Chris Claremont, the comic book author who put the X-Men on the map. Chris was her third husband. I was her fourth, and last.

As Simon, Levenda threw parties with various forms of live entertainment and staged rituals presented by the various groups that swarmed around the shop. He had no political enemies on the scene, owing to his adamantine and resolute refusal to affiliate with any one group. There has always been a very heavy crossover factor between the Renaissance fair/Society for Creative Anachronisms crowd, the science-fiction fan circuit and the occult/wicca scenes. Simon had friends throughout all of these arenas, and they all showed up to support this effort at unity.

The house band for these affairs was Turner and Kirwan of Wexford, whose sound was primarily influenced by Irish traditional folk music, Pink Floyd and the esoteric “Canterbury School” of so-called “progressive” rock inspired by the band the Soft Machine, which school included Mike Oldfield; Hatfield and the North; McDonald; Giles, Giles and Fripp. Connor Freff Cochran (known then simply as “Freff”) was nearly always in attendance, juggling and entertaining, ornamental and always a hit with the women.

Copernicus–second only perhaps to G.G. Allin on the obnoxious meter–had his performance debut at one of these events, and occasionally even Norman Mailer would pop in, with his assistant Judith McNally in tow. Judith and Simon were rumored to be an item, and it was also rumored that she had done the bulk of the work on Mailer’s big hit, The Executioner’s Song. She’s listed in the acknowledgements of the Necronomicon.

Certain theories have it that even a bogus (or, to be kind, synthetic) grimoire will work if it is internally consistent, but that means following the rules to the letter. Simon’s Necronomicon contains a manual of self-initiation in the form of a series of “gates” that are to be “walked.” Following the instructions given in the book, walking these gates should take just shy of a year. One certain Martin Mensch–an adepti who had received the book in manuscript form for examination, as had Bonnie due to her status as a Gardnerian wiccan high priestess of some repute–decided to accelerate the process, and ran the gates in a matter of weeks. Shortly after completing the final gate, he stepped out of a cab at 10th St. and 1st Ave. and got capped in the head in one of those random acts of mindless violence that were coming into vogue at that time.

Simon decided to start a group of his own, one that would span the different traditions and merge the gentle current of the wicca with the rigorous scholarship of the Golden Dawn/OTO trend under the umbrella of the Necronomicon. Heavily inspired by the Illuminatus books and Timothy Leary’s exopsychology theory of the eight-circuit brain, he launched Stargroup-1 at these parties.

As the 80s dawned and the Reagan era began, the Berkeley-based Caliphate OTO swelled to become the dominant force among the Crowley crowd, and the internal politics of that group morphed into a drug-soaked, sex-crazed caricature of I, Claudius. The wicca continued their ongoing disputes regarding the validity or lack thereof of the various “traditions,” and Stargroup-1 issued the New York Tarot, a genuinely cute endeavor to replace the traditional tarot card images with photographs of New York City and certain members of the group. People were having mad sex of every conceivable variety in every imaginable combination. Turner and Kirwan of Wexford streamlined their sound and turned into a new-wave effort called the Major Thinkers.

Simon was finding Larry Barnes increasingly difficult to tolerate, an understandable position given the man’s outrageous level of cocaine consumption. Simon refused to attend a book signing, so Wasserman recruited me to impersonate him and forge his signature on a run of hardcover reprints. Barnes kept laying out rails of blow until I simply had to refuse any more; I thought I was going to have a stroke. His skin had that bluish tinge one usually associates with corpses; he couldn’t shut up and made no sense at all. He was completely obsessed with numerology, a classic symptom of incipient paranoia. Shortly thereafter, Larry snitched out his suppliers and entered the Federal Witness Protection Program, never to be seen again. In 1980, Avon released the paperback version of the Necronomicon, which remains in print and has been selling very steadily ever since.

For me, the scene peaked at a reception thrown by a prominent tax attorney from DC at the Plaza Hotel honoring Grady McMurtry, filmmaker Kenneth Anger and Simon. There was a screening of Anger’s film, Lucifer Rising, a splendid buffet, rivers of free booze and a full range of sense-deranging substances. It was the last time that particular crowd got together on friendly terms.

Not all of us took Simon’s hints of dabblings in intelligence work all that seriously, but apparently the Feds did. An agent infiltrated the OTO with the apparent intent of getting close to Simon, who was doing a great deal of consulting for the local lodge and seemed to be flirting with affiliation. As the noose tightened, Simon became more and more critical of the OTO, finally denouncing it as “fascist” and vanishing, some said to Singapore. Other reports placed him in Hong Kong or Shanghai. The truth is, no one knew.

Bonnie and I headed out to San Francisco, where we were married by a Justice of the Peace on October 6, 1983. Grady McMurtry led the Caliphate OTO through a series of court battles aimed at establishing it as the one true OTO and died of congestive heart failure on the day the judge granted his victory. Stargroup-1 quietly disintegrated, and the wicca made peace with one another as fundamentalist Christians took control of the White House. The Major Thinkers broke up. Pierce Turner went solo, and Larry Kirwan formed Black 47.

Herman Slater sailed his little pirate ship through it all, indomitable and ornery, the very fairy godmother of the entire scene. Every now and then the issue of unpaid sales taxes would pop up and he’d threaten to sell the shop, but he never did. The books, such as they were, consisted mainly of scraps of paper stuffed into shopping bags. There was no earthly way anyone but Herman could make any sense of it. The cranky old fucker fired me no fewer than three times in the course of my tenure there, but Bonnie’s jewelry sold, and he eventually bought the line from her. She never had much business sense, not that I consider that a flaw. She was an artist, first and foremost, and a damned fine one at that.

In 1989, Ed Buczynski died of complications from AIDS. On July 9, 1992, Herman followed him into the Western Lands. He left the shop to a handful of employees who had managed to avoid pissing him off. Unfortunately, he also left an incredible tax debt. The shop limped along for a few years, deteriorating gradually and finally closing its doors for good in 1999. The space remains vacant as of this writing.

During the last ten years of her life, my wife embraced Tibetan Buddhism, specifically the variant known as Dzogchen. In our last conversation, she mentioned that my picture was sitting next to the Dalai Lama in her makeshift shrine in the hospice where she was spending her final days.

“I am honored by the gesture,” I told her, “but I’m not so sure I belong there. It might give His Holiness weird dreams.”

She left me her Necronomicon, number 141 of the first edition of 666 hardcover copies, inscribed by Simon: “To Greymalkin, As per the missing page of the Nec… ‘Blessed Is, Blessed Was, Blessed Will Be…’”

She was a wonderful woman. It was a very colorful scene, a very colorful time. We were all naive and completely insane, but we had a good time together. It was, in a word, magick.

The New York Press
Volume 16, Issue 23


Screen Memories . . .

July 11, 2009

Hi, Folks!

I hope you enjoyed my last essay, “The Others.”  I’m just getting wound up, though, and I have a lot to talk about.  While I have often not claimed to be an extreme paranormal experiencer, I am without a doubt a serious experiencer.  Some of the things I’ve witnessed are rather outrageous.  I’ll be getting to some of those events in future blogs.

Today, however, I decided to write about something a little lighter.  Owls.

I believe it was Bud Hopkins who coined the term “Screen Memories,” or false memories created to cover up other events.  Whitley Strieber in “Communion” also recounts some of his memories that he knew were fictitious.  And, we’ve all heard of abused children who block out the abuse in their memories.  This is not a new idea, and pretty well accepted in most clinical settings.

If you have a memory that you are sure is not real, where did it come from?  If you were abused, then most likely there are other hints of this in your life.  Maybe the memories came from home movies?  Maybe dreams?

Dream imagery is very powerful.  I go to sleep easily and wake up hard.  Often, for the first ten or fifteen minutes after waking, I’ll catch glimpses of things that aren’t really there.  I’m always quite aware that this is a result of my semi-conscious mind trying to come to grips with consciousness, and I know the images are a false, dream-like overlay to what I’m actually seeing..

When I mentioned home movies and implanted memories, I did so because it’s happened to me.  When I was little, say between ages 2 and 5, I saw the home movie of my parents’ wedding ceremony.  I incorporated this as actual memories, and for many years I thought I was there for the wedding, sitting in the front row.  (Well, I certainly was there at the wedding, but not in the front row!)

I mention all this because I want to show how incredibly imprecise memory is.  Long term memory can fade, and combine, and change tenor, and selectively toss portions.  I suspect we are editing and refining memories to fit our world views all the time.  The memory of your life is not your actual life!

So, screen memories.  Here in 2008 and 2009 I’ve had one very odd occurrence.  I was riding my bicycle alone on a nearby country road.  It was mid-day, and quite warm out, but I wanted to take my bike out and have a turn. Heading back towards home, I passed a small wooded plot on my left, and the perpetually open fields on my right.  Suddenly (for I should have seen such a thing from a great distance, being in an open field), I passed within a few yards of a dead animal (road kill?) and an owl.

What an owl it was!  It stood about four feet tall, from feet to crown, and it was snow white.  We have owls in Indiana, but they are rarely seen, and almost never in the daytime, and they stand about 18” to 27” tall.  The Snowy Owl, not native here but known to fly as far south as Tennessee, is 20” to 26” tall, is primarily white.  Not 4’ tall.

As I rode parallel to the owl, I was shocked, because I’d never seen such a creature like this up close.  The owl rose from its meal and flew away, its wingspan simply herculean in width.  I felt in real jeopardy around the owl, because I new a creature that big could quit easily kill me.

I don’t remember the rest of the ride home.  That part is gone, wiped clean.  Later, I told my wife and a few friends about the encounter.  Yet, every time I related this story, it felt “off” to me.  I finally came to the conclusion that this was not a real memory.  They don’t make owls that big!  Had I even gone on a bicycle ride?  I think I did, but I can’t be sure.  I was alone, after all.

In other words, I remember the encounter in some detail, and I’m pretty sure that it never happened.  The memory seems very suspect to me, and has for a while.  Had I suffered a snap-attack of momentary schizophrenia?  Was it a hallucination?  More importantly, if it was none of those, what was I doing out there, and what really happened?

The answer, of course, is that I don’t know.  I simply have no idea, and no inkling as to what really went on.  Maybe nothing happened, and this memory is a thing in and of itself.  One thing I can say is that I’m reasonably well versed in alternate states of consciousness, and this was no shamanic journey or out-of-body experience.  I was not out looks for a spirit guide animal, or whatever.

So, there you go: Screen Memories.