It is impossible to separate what is real from what is personal. The attempt to do so in the name of journalistic or scientific objectivity has managed to more or less derail not only human consciousness but the equilibrium of a rather resilient and forgiving holistic ecology; the planet on which we live; which is, part of a larger organism, our solar system, beyond which we can only grasp and guess at the significance of interplays, but from conclusions drawn from our observances of life on the extremely small scale, we are somehow all inter-related.
The Universe, or the fabric of reality, if you prefer, is made of language. As Terrence McKenna has proposed, the core substance and its function is not particle points or vibrating strings or any other quantifiable thing other than ideas. This is why very sophisticated systems of inter-related concepts that have tier gradations of modular and quickly swappable logics, composed of very specific yet multidimensional types, tend to complement the universe’s synergy, and are granted blossoming rights within manifestation. If they have great humor, poetic fluidity, potential for great drama, or a particularly viral nature in the substrata of their structure, then the Universe amplifies and echoes them, as they say, more loud and clear. Consider all the world’s languages, along with each culture’s webs of myth, the entire canon of literature, the rubric of cinema, all grimoire and magickal systema, technology itself, computer programing and its vastness yet barely unexplored. The Universe is language and the faster you make yourself a language the sooner you will be delivered from the Death part of the Death Card and set within the Change part people stress so assuringly when it’s pulled on your behalf; namely, within the flow of Flux.
On Halloween / October 31,1982 at 3:23 am in Boston Massachusetts I was born to a sixteen year old girl who had entered the ER not knowing what was happening to her and had to be told that she was giving birth. She claimed to have no idea that she was pregnant and had received no pre-natal care and no one else had noticed her condition. A nearby adoption agency was informed of my arrival into the world and that night a young couple, the female of which was infertile from a pharmaceutical complication rooting to drugs her mother was given during labour, which left my adopted mother and her two brothers all unable to reproduce. Halloween happened to be my adoptive mother’s favorite day of the year, so she rushed to work out the paper work and in not too long I was her official legal son. I was the only child in the home I was raised in which consisted of my mother, father, two uncles, one of their fiancés, their dog and my grandmother and grandfather. They were Catholics, a mix of mostly Italians and Portuguese with some Irish to my father’s side. My Grandmother was a Tarot reader, palmist, spell castor and visionary necromancer who had been born blue and not breathing with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck, only shocked back alive with the doctors intervention. The effects of this seemed to imbue both a lifelong childishness and the ability to hear the voices of spirits and to see the dead around her. Her son Alan grew up with major fascination, appreciation and draw into the Great Outdoors, spending most of his childhood camping and learning survival skills until he encountered acid, witchcraft, was repeatedly abducted by UFO’s and rendered Paranoid Schizophrenic, attempting to light himself on fire and kill my father led to his institutionalization and later release into our home under strict medication routines. He dressed in all black, wore sunglasses, adorned himself with amulets to saints and Seth, sat around chainsmoking with Rolling Stones records permanently on the turntable, letting his finger and toe nails grow long, drinking so much water he would need to be periodically hospitalized, and always loudly laughing. When I’d ask him what he laughed about, he’d answer, “jokes.” “Jokes about what?” Which his reply would be, “Jesus and the Devil!” With a roar of laughter. I later understood this I think encountering Finnegan’s Wake.
Their Catholicism was crude, highly superstitious and viscerally supernatural. Hauntings and dead relative’s appearing were of regular occurrence. Italian slang and English pidgins, invented languages and Boroughsian cut-up tapes were the house Rosetta Stone. With no other children in our family my time was spent split between exploring the forest on my own or working out seemingly meaningless metaphysical puppetries and sympathetic chaos dioramas with my Grandmother. My Mother was a cake decorator and gingerbread house competition winner (this was one of the several deep sensory dimensions they vectored, along with my Uncle’s enclosed porch cigarette sub-fumigated chamber, and my Grandmother’s Oriental motif hoarder’s nest piled chest high with rows of 78s and every newspaper she ever bought, heaps of clothes from the 40s, books, perfume atomizers and all manner of arcane knick nack) The house my Mother and my Father built was styled swiss chalet, gingerbread house, honeymoon sweet, fantasy temple filled with player piano’s, saloon furnishings, jukeboxes, mirrored chambers, round beds, heart shaped bathtubs, bear skin rugs, faux suits of armor and so on. By the time I encountered Boroughs, Lovecraft and Philip K. Dick at fourteen-fifteen I had a very comfortable sense of how reality could be heavily stretched and contorted. Other children’s home lives did not resemble mine at all. Although, certain branches of our family tree did to some degree. With our immediate family it was particularly acute, but that residual old world energy from those of my grandparents' generation, and certainly of their parents, some of which were still alive when I was a child, accepted an amount of this mundane world synthesized to that of the sacred and spirit inhabited. I don’t believe it would have been so if they were more educated; the posturing of the intelligensia being staunchly materialist. The fact that this was a particular rabble of those few that tumbled out the boat only half a generation back into a vivified proletariat mosaic retained classical spiritual cohesions, even as they were twisted and mangled quickly by the vice of both America the place, and America the decades of the 60’s and 70s. The result was a heavily warped yet copiously magical environment. The Saint devotion was crude, the Tarot was crude, the necromancy was crude, the spellcraft was crude, much of what was going on was utterly unintelligible and arte brute, but it was all very thorough, and very real. I don’t mean that sentimentally. I mean as real as spirits in your face, seeing things happen that by definition should not, and Paranoid Schizophrenic violence.
It was only after leaving for several years, taking up the life of a chthonic and infernal vagabond, did I notice out in the trenches that all of these books I was seeking were printed in my parents town, i.e. Samuel Weiser, York Beach, Maine. A place I had passed nearly everyday as a child not having any idea what it was. It had been on the way to the pond where we would go to feed the ducks. Like many other well worn paths, that of the old world, the kind that circumambulate, breech walls and thick woods, tend to deliver us past, but only in the particular widdershins circles do we arrive at what had previously blended into the foliage. On return visits I would peruse the store they kept in their office, trying to find a few things I could afford and use as ammunition. Around this time I was traveling with a small nucleus of people that morphed into todays core. I’d conduct workings in the swamps, rock outcroppings and creeks of my youth, where memories of my childhood explorations included events in which I cannot separate dream from reality. I came upon a small shack smoldering on the moss from which we plucked a brass door nob, the area littered with bones, and laced with such visceral terror. The place existed sometimes, and the shack existed sometimes. There was another such shack down a similar long trail near a creek, where no one ever seemed to be. On the way I was once hissed at by a bobcat. Coming back to work magic several times in my life, I’ve nearly never had as vivid results as in the forest around the place of my childhood. Much later it felt the bones I found at the smoldering shack were somehow my own.
The tribe I was running with took up the task of astringent contrarian. We insisted scourge of every creative enclave we came across in every town we visited, fountains of vitriol in confluence with libation absurdum, cleansing fire and shrieking liquidation, solve-solution, the purity of ashes, never in hate, always in love, but a love entwined in primal wrath. The poison sometimes poured heavy, the conjurations were a few times a slim escape, the escapades labyrintine and sprawling, the divinations breath stealing, and the thresholds to which we were fooled or molested by Tricksters-- glacial. The sacred forests we passed through from town to town were approached with absolute reverence, and harbored us itinerants in their familiar shadows. This went on for several years, bonding strongly with those who could harmonize with such odd harmonics in overt dissonance, and forming many social oppositions. We would return to Maine to reorient almost every year, Magically, physically and mentally, normally spending a spell raking blueberries for a pitiful amount of money, although, the servitude, bondage and unyieldingness of the earth heavily impressed us, living lifestyles that negated all boundaries whatsoever. We did our final stint in a city, then committed to rural life completely.
Suddenly we were forced to learn skills to support ourselves, make pacts with farmers, grow food, repair destroyed buildings, bend with the seasons, enjoy vast solitude, and submit absolutely to the earth and it’s cycles. Within a few years a pattern of worship began to emerge with the seasons. Local spirits would come to reside in our totems and talismans and teach us some of their language. We listened, very intently, knowing that what we would make of their words could never sound the same as they sang them, but our songs and theirs might be brought to some fugal parallels. We pleased them, amused them and at times offended them and vis versa. Traditions began to become glued to the year, some in observance and others in operative synthesis, together in gesture, allowed to contort and shift shape depending on the ovality of the trajectory, the particular personality of each rung of the circle. A lexicon filled our world, an ideographic system of symbols, from which images and songs could be formed. Technologies of devotion and divination flooded in to bolster these forms. Friends and loved ones traveled across the country to join us in elaborate ceremonies that were only half prepared, the divinatory equipment present really ran the night. A decade in to this bioregional, animistic reality rather separate from the world we would see on the road or visiting friends in cities, we suddenly realized that our system was the root-stock necessary for grafting star-lore onto.
Being born in America and growing up there is an odd experience. Most people that go a route analogous to ours realized at a very early age that their environment is almost completely devoid of culture. For someone residing in Cassis, a Mediterranean isle, or most of the world where folk traditions are still intact, whatever form they take, may not need to first spend a decade in the woods developing complex rituals, divinatory equipment, scores of poetic hymns and idioglossaic languages before they can appropriately digest the Picatrix or the Greek Magical Papyri or come to terms with a Zodiacal Christ figure. These conventions of Grimoire understanding, as sentient languages, can meet, mix and mingle with blood or born-into regional folk or cultural languages of place and behavior, and properly marry. For those of us not lucky enough to be endowed so, culture must be carefully coaxed into manifestation.