My early religious background.
My first magical experiences.
So I was with a group of people. And they all did some kind of magic. And for someone looking for validation for my own experiences and a sense of belonging, it was a dream come true. So much so that I was willing to overlook the fact that these kids were fucking weird.
There were about five in this group, not including myself. And they saw auras and talked to dragons and did simple spells. Oh, and they smoked a lot of pot and dropped a lot of acid, neither of which appealed to me.
Jack spoke of a rather elaborate cosmology. At one time, there were great dragons who were masters of the elements. They regulated and ruled the elements, and were probably indistinct from gods. In fact, Jack asserted that the elemental powers that they controlled were what the gods themselves relied upon for their own power.
Each of these elemental powers was manifest in elemental “orbs”, which were sort of elemental singularities or nexus points, and were tended to by these dragons. But the dragons, over time, became tainted by other concerns, and lost their pure devotion to their own particular element. This led to a loss of balance in the world. So the orbs themselves manifested new elemental masters, which challenged and overthrew the dragons.
The exception was the dragon of Spirit, who refused to relinquish his hold on the spirit orb, and instead shattered it. This resulted in a massive imbalance in existence, which was corrected by the splitting of reality into three planes: the physical, the astral, and the celestial.
You following so far?
Now, on its surface, it sounds pretty bizarre. If you really think about it, the notion of elemental points or orbs isn’t too horribly off from simplistic understandings of the Tree of Life, and the thought that there are elemental masters, layers of reality, and some sort of “descent” into the physical world aren’t that unusual in metaphysical and magical systems. And this can easily be interpreted in metaphorical terms as well, as many magicians understand crossing the abyss.
But there’s more. You see, Jack talked about how the spirit dragon was planning to free the other defeated dragons. And how the children of the spirit dragon would rise to challenge the current elemental masters and defeat them. And when this happened, the Children would remove a “shard” from the orbs and present them to the spirit dragon, who would reforge the Orb of Spirit.
Which would return balance to existence. By destroying the world.
If you still follow, and you really want to, you can still interpret this as metaphor. Balance of the spirit, rebirth into enlightenment, that sort of thing. Sort of like evoking the Goetic demons to get them to swear allegiance to the corresponding archangels and balance the Tree of Life within.
But Jack had none of this “metaphor’ crap. He described it literally. Oh, and guess who was the reincarnation of the dragon of spirit?
What does all of this have to do with working with magical groups?
Because that was my first introduction to doing magic with a group of people. A person who believed himself to be the embodiment of a being of power, and his chosen children, who were all going to cause the end of the world.
I was lucky. Jack never tried to convince me I was one of the Children. I was something else, and no one was sure what.
This group fell apart in fairly short order. Jack had quit his drug use, and was more interested in disciplined esotericism. And the high kids, who had mostly been humoring him, were having none of that discipline crap. So they kind of fell to the wayside, although Jack maintained that once he found the rest of the Children (there were eight) they would come back.
I didn’t buy it very much, and mostly humored Jack as well. We were doing other magical work, and were getting real results. If anything, I was more disturbed than encouraged when the dragon spirits Jack spoke of came around and referenced the elemental masters.
Then we had a second group form.
By this time, I had encountered some other folks from high school who were into witchcraft. We’ll call one of them Sarah. And through Sarah, I met Angelina, whom I began dating. And Jack, Angelina, and I formed the core of a new group, with Sarah and a few others working on the periphery.
Jack brought up his cosmology, and used it to structure a lot of the exercises we were doing. But the exercises brought results, the spirits gave us information that we confirmed separately, and the magic worked.
Sarah never believed a bit of what Jack had to say. Angelina bought in to some of it, but became more skeptical as she realized I was humoring Jack myself. What was happening was that we had a group founded upon a mythology that only one person seemed to take seriously, but which everyone else was involved in because we were getting concrete results from. We never really sought to find those same results from other sources because we were never sure what other sources there were, and the mythology Jack presented offered plenty of ideas for exercises and magical work that worked just fine outside of that mythology.
This did not create a very solid or trusting environment. At least this group did not involve extensive drug use.
Eventually that group fell apart as well. Angelina and I stopped dating, and no one else wanted to put up with Jack. The value of what he was teaching was fast being outweighed by the skepticism of those involved.
Jack decided that these groups weren’t worth the effort (at least for a little bit), and we continued working on our Octogram studies. And we now had something else to play around with, because we had found some new sources of information.
Through the mother of one of the periphery members of Jack’s second group, Jack had encountered someone who was teaching a class on metaphysics. It covered Qabalah and tarot as well. It was taught by a person I’ll call Walter, who described himself as a wizard.
This class was an informal one, meeting at one of the student’s house. But it was rather structured. And we covered some very interesting topics and performed some interesting exercises. And unlike the questionability of some of the theories going around the earlier groups, and the inevitable skepticism and distrust, this group was open and honest.
It was what I had been hoping for. It was a group led by a serious and experience magical practitioner, and attended by serious and honest students. And it provided information that had sources that I could verify independently.
I had discovered the Qabalah. I had discovered the tarot. I had discovered ceremonial magic.
I had discovered a Mentor.