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It is with heartfelt and genuine enthusiasm that I approach the subjects of psychological imprinting, reincarnation, Freemasonry, and the signs posted by my Holy Guardian Angel to kindly point out the Way.

My parents had an Atari 2600, and this was my introduction to video games at age five or six. For this, I am eternally thankful, as I have been given the tail-end of Generation X's perspective of observing the evolution of gaming. I have also taken with me through the years Generation X's cynical overall approach, and have come to the conclusion that the evolution of video games has amounted to little more than a gradual devolution. But this is neither here nor there.

Anyway, besides such memorable titles as Combat, Adventure, and Pac-Man, I was given the beautiful opportunity to play one of the, if not the, earliest versions of what would eventually evolve into the role playing game genre: Swordquest. There ended up being three of these games—though four was the original intention—and each game revolved around one of the four Elements of nature and alchemy. The first of these was subtitled Earthworld. The gameplay took place within twelve subterranean chambers, each corresponding with one of the twelve signs of the zodiac. Sixteen “magical objects” were scattered throughout these chambers, and various skill-and-action trials were to be completed before being allowed entry into some of these. The object of the game was to pick up and arrange a number of the sixteen items in the correct zodiacal chambers, thus triggering numerical clues accompanied by a flood of colors and a mystical tune. The numerical clues referred back to a word hidden in the picture of a specific page and panel number of a comic book that accompanied the game; this comic book told the fantasy of Swordquest. When these clues were collected, five of them created a line of poetry which was to be submitted to Atari to be entered into a contest. The prize was “an 18-karat gold disc studded with twelve diamonds, the birthstones of the twelve zodiac signs and a miniature white gold sword set atop it.” The monetary value of the Talisman of Penultimate Truth, as it was called, was $25,000.

Sound complicated? It was! Impossibly so. To this day, I cannot fathom how anyone could have the patience to complete this successfully. The entire game boiled down to a tremendous feat of trial and error. In fact, the first time I ever completed this game was when I was sixteen or seventeen years old and I found the solution on the world wide web, or “internet.”

The contest was long-since won by the time I began my own quest for the Sword of Ultimate Sorcery, and my tender age and inability to comprehend the rules made it a fruitless endeavor. I could not fathom what $25,000 meant, nor was I in the least bit interested; for the seeds of MAGICK had been sown in my heart, the sixteen magical objects were imprinted on my soul, and the value I have come to place upon this silly game is without measure. My earliest experiments with writing were directly inspired by it, and it has continued to inspire my writing. Fans of maudlin of the Well will find my inspiration for the “Leaving Your Body Map puzzle” in Swordquest. Fans of The Sword of Satan will find sixteen “Ethics” in its pages, which are the same magical objects that impressed me as a child. I have one of these, the Talisman of Passage, tattooed on my right forearm. It is not an obsession, mind you, but the symbolic language I have used to communicate with my Holy Guardian Angel since I can remember. It is my link with the Divine. It is written that the Holy Guardian Angel will communicate in the simplest way possible; the smoothest, the most natural, the most direct route—as it should be.

We will now skip ahead to 2004, one of the most important years in my life. April of 2004 marked one century since the reception of The Book of the Law, the three days of which I spent on a little magical retirement in Vermont. The timing for this is worth noting because of its uncanny proximity to the holiest day of the Roman Catholic year, Easter. I drove up to Vermont the day before Holy Thursday, performed my Thelemic rituals Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, and concluded with a baptismal ceremony in the forest at dawn on Easter Sunday. The following day, I was initiated a 1° Entered Apprentice Freemason back in Massachusetts (with newly shaven head), taking my 2° and 3° in May and June. I experienced the miracle promised to all Neophytes, the “signs and wonders” meant to spur on the Aspirant and kindle his faith, in December. This was when I met my wife, but that story is for another time. (Incidentally, her zodiacal sun sign is Virgo, which resonates strongly with me because of the Swordquest comic book's humanization of the Sign and the funny way it made me feel.) It is the month of June I am concerned with here, the month I was Raised as a Master Mason, which is to say, initiated into the Mystery of the Immortality of the Soul.

I had taken the day following my Raising off of work so that I could spend the time absorbing the experience and reflecting upon it. Illumination doesn't happen all at once. There is always a period of adjustment in any spiritual experience. To assist me in my understanding, I invoked the aid of the Spirit of Sol, whose name is SVRTh (Sorath), and whose name, by gematria, adds up to 666. I constructed a talisman of his name/sigil, and used the Divine Names of Tiphareth as my invocation, or conjuration. I performed my ritual and went for a walk in the beautiful and sprawling cemetery across from where I lived to burn the talisman.

I haunted Forest Hills Cemetery in Jamaica Plain between 2001-2004. I performed rites quasi-pagan and chaotic amongst the many hidden groves and alcoves as the sun went down behind the trees; poured out libations, worshipped Shiva, meditated. I spent countless hours of the day and night wandering and thinking and dreaming up poems and stories that would hardly ever make it to paper. I carried a small ceramic green turtle in my pocket for a time, and when the head finally snapped off, I took it as a sign to be rid of my attachments. I buried it on top of a hill concealed by a copse of trees and monoliths in full ceremonial, the lingering effects of which having followed me to the present in their own beautiful way. I've performed Eucharistic MAGICK, including Crowley's own Mass of the Phoenix, beside the graves at the tops of stone steps and between the avenues of mausoleums. To this day, I miss the place dearly, and will always think back on my time at the necropolis with the greatest fondness.

The fifteenth of June was no different. I squeezed through the bars that somebody had managed to bend open, climbed the rocks up to the path leading into the cemetery as the sun shone and the birds twittered happily around me, and collapsed in a fit of sobbing, overcome by a tremendous and entirely unexpected emotional release. I can remember looking up, reaching toward the rows upon rows of lichen-covered stones, and my eyes falling upon the Square and Compasses etched upon their surfaces to indicate deceased Brethren. The strength of the chains of initiation hit me squarely in the heart; it is difficult to describe. The closest I can come, I think, is this: to consider the wisdom of ages, the Mysteries, communicated via ritual refined and perfected through centuries. And the ritual is performed by Officers with the diligence and solemnity demanded by long practice, transmitting ancient energies to modern initiates through their joined effort. In short, my Raising (which, if you are not aware, refers to the resurrection of the dead) was effective in unlocking and throwing open a door in my unconscious.

As I stated above, illumination does not happen all at once. Yes, it is like throwing on a switch, but after stumbling around in the darkness for so long, the shock of sudden overwhelming light is equally as blinding. It takes time for the spiritual eyesight to adjust. My invocation of Sorath, Spirit of Sol, therefore, can be easily compared to looking up and being blinded by the sun.

Spiritual experience is extremely difficult to describe; nay, impossible, for it does not at all coincide with regular waking consciousness. It happens on a level that is superficially unfamiliar to us, though we have all experienced it to one degree or other many times in or lives. It happens—perfectly naturally, at that—but we are conditioned at a very early age to both repress and suppress these experiences as reveries and flights of imagination and delusional wastes of time. This is one of the reasons that psychedelic drugs are so appealing to so many; they give the mind a chance to expand itself and rebel against the illusory model of the universe forced upon it from every angle since birth. It is unfortunate that so many people seem to have convinced themselves that they “require” a substance like LSD or DMT to experience what a healthy and disciplined mind and imagination can access through spiritual practice alone. In fact, I would go so far as to say that psychedelics are detrimental to the process, as an undisciplined and unpracticed mind being shaken awake will eventually fall asleep again; whereas a mind subjecting itself to conscious spiritual refinement will remain awake. We have no further to look for proof of this than the bloated, conservative, greedy, and over-materialistic hippie generation, which thrived on sex, drugs and the temporary expansion of consciousness, but seem to have drifted back off into self-centered oblivion after the drugs wore off.

But this is a digression, and I will expand upon it another time.

Anyway, let us refrain for the moment in trying to describe that which cannot be described. I will simply say that as a combined effect of my initiation into the Sublime Degree of Master Mason and my invocation of the blinding Spirit of Sol itself, I was given what I call the Vision of the Sword of Satan. In a flash, I had received what would take me the next seven years to work out and develop into the Official Document of the OSS—the Order of the Symbolic Sword. What I ended up with was a lengthy communication which succeeded in utterly scouring away any vestiges of religion-induced childhood guilt that may have continued to cling to me and negatively impact my spiritual perspective. Besides being sound religious advice to anyone, the Book acted as a therapy for myself, and taught me how to access my own unconscious. It wasn't the content as much as the forging of a link; but again, I digress and will save this for another time.

During the summer of 2004, I began to ask myself the question, “Which came first, the chicken or the egg?” regarding signposts.

The Square and Compasses with the capital G in the middle has beed recognized worldwide for centuries as the identifying symbol of Freemasonry. This symbol is replete with meaning, spanning generations, and is something that would be just as recognizable in the eyes of a man born in 1778 as one born in 1978 as one of the builders of the cathedrals—especially so after being initiated into the Craft. It is a symbol which belongs to Jung's collective unconscious. It is what I refer to as a signpost. A signpost is a marker left at a crossroads or along a path to indicate what lies ahead in a specific direction. They are especially useful if one is wandering about alone in the wilderness with no one to ask directions. But this is fine, because the vast majority of us have no idea where we would ask directions to.

Expanding upon this, I considered the idea of signposts being left behind by your Holy Guardian Angel, dispersed throughout your incarnations to nudge you, if you were observant enough to see and heed them, in the direction you should tend toward. The Square and Compasses of Freemasonry is a valid example of this, as I myself can remember being attracted to it when first seeing it by chance as a child. I knew nothing of the subject, nor was any member of my family a Freemason; it was simply something I more or less unconsciously took note of and shelved.

But, instead of something as obvious as the Square and Compasses, I thought deeply about my twenty year relationship with Swordquest and saw something subtler at play. I thought about my lifelong love affair with the occult and where it could have started. Reasonably, I followed the path in my life from Aleister Crowley and the Golden Dawn back to Satanism in high school to the Necronomicon in eighth grade to experimental paganism and witchcraft and Final Fantasy and Iron Maiden in middle school to vodou and ghosts and the unexplained and Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster and UFOs in elementary school to Roman Catholicism and primitive magic and Swordquest at the beginning.

I ventured a step further from even this fascinating revelation. Was I attracted to the occult because of Swordquest, or could Swordquest be a signpost urging me back onto the Path from a previous incarnation? Did my early exposure to the wheel of the zodiac and its mystical and mysterious sixteen magical objects rouse a fascination in me that was not latent, or did it awaken a memory of a past life, trigger subconscious recall?

It feels natural, like using my left hand, or writing. MAGICK. It is my earliest fascination, and I feel like I have been practicing for a long time.

It was the summer of 2004 when I got the Talisman of Passage tattooed on my right forearm at a hole in the wall shop next to an adult video store on the Berlin Turnpike just outside of Meriden, Connecticut. I did it to commemorate my initiation into Freemasonry, but I did it more to emphasize the depth of that summer's meditation and its tremendous spiritual yield. For it was only after my experience in the cemetery that I first realized I could use the aesthetics of Swordquest as a language or system of mnemonics to facilitate communication with my Holy Guardian Angel in the depths of my subconscious. Remember, your Angel will communicate in the simplest way possible; the smoothest, the most natural, the most direct route. Like water.

And, perhaps, once a magician, always a magician.

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