left biblioblography: A LOSS OF GODS

Saturday, September 09, 2006

A LOSS OF GODS

Very superstitious, writings on the wall,
Very superstitious, ladders bout to fall,
Thirteen-month-old baby, broke the lookin glass
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past.
When you believe in things that you don’t understand,
Then you suffer,
Superstition ain’t the way

Stevie Wonder, Superstition

Once upon a time, the world spoke to me, in voiceless promise and unspoken whispers. Around the corner and beneath each stone, unknown mysteries beckoned. Speckles of energy motes danced in the air, unseen naiads laughed silently behind oaken trees, and dark shadows had deep secrets folded into their unsolid substance. I flew in dreams, and battled cankerous foes.

My entire life was a baroque meritocracy wrapped in an appeal to wonder.

I was brought up a loose Roman Catholic (my mother having been excommunicated for marrying a divorced Protestant), which in retrospect, kept the moorings of superstition somewhat looser than for most.


At the age of fourteen, I found a book titled Mastering Witchcraft, by one Paul Huson in the Pleasanton library, and became enchanted with it. In the summer of 1972, I began to walk the Left Hand path.

Occultist supplies were difficult to find, especially for a teenager in the 70’s, and so I had to make due. I improvised with what little I could.

I never did quite muster up the desire (or courage, I am unsure which) to summon up a spirit or a demon. I never really cast any spells, of light or darkness.
Somewhere before (or during) that period, I had also discovered marijuana – this helped my critical thinking skills not at all.

In the tender years between fourteen and seventeen, I had some unusual experiences, and studied all the forms that would allegedly grant me some sort of mastery over the self-esteem issues I suffered from. Once, I had a dream where an invisible entity was trying to split my soul asunder – I awoke with a cry, and fancied I’d blasted it away. One night, under the influence of some strong pot, I hallucinated. I imagined four distinct shapes emerging from all corners of my room, cloaked creatures, oozing malignancy that set upon me to tear my spiritual self to pieces (the closest image I can invoke, is that last part of the movie Ghost, where the bad guys get theirs). And again, I triumphed in my delusional fantasy. Another time in a dream, a jackal-headed man chased me through a fog-laden landscape. Somewhere between those years, I began to keep copious notes. I came home one day, to find my mother and older sister bragging about how they’d burned them (my family disapproved of my hobby, as well you can guess). I shrugged. In the meantime, my circle of friends all dabbled as did I, and J. R. R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings became our ‘bible’ of sorts. God became Eru, or Il├║vatar. We even formed a ‘Fellowship of the Bong’ (what did I say earlier, about critical thinking skills?). I fancied myself a wizard, and one friend even began insisting he was an elf (he was the one who went on to become ‘born-again’). I lit candles and danced in front of a mirror. I had an athame (it was a black handled large knife, is all), stole a silver spoon from my mother and had a friend turn it into a ring for me (I got in deep water over that one, lemmee tell ya) at one point, I even bought a gold one, 14k no less with my ‘magic name’ carved in runes on the inside, read the Key of Solomon, the Satanic bible, Castaneda, too many books to list here, took LSD and ran in the hills with my witless buddies. I had dreams that I thought came true (mostly mundane moments – nothing earth-shaking). I learned to read a mean tarot – I favored the Celtic cross spread. I studied exorcism and divine possession, fancying I could do spiritual battle with demonic beings. I even predicted the deaths of two thugs I knew, ages and method of death, while in middle school (that one bugs me to this day – I was spot on – no dates or locations, but weird). I ate mushrooms, but never wrestled with Coyote, or had visitations.

As teenaged years became early twenties, I still was the dilettante – I learned to read an ephemeris, ran off with the carnival (twice!), where I amazed my fellow workers after hours by telling them things without even knowing their names (via the tarot). There was even an episode where I thought I’d healed a dog hit by a car. I could still fly in my dreams then (and it happens still, to this day, but not as often), and I could take control of them upon the awareness of my being in a dream.

I lived with my older sister and brother-in-law, somewhere in-between, for a bit. She told a story not long ago of which I had completely forgotten.

I had hung out with a number of people (stoners all), and we played backgammon relentlessly. At some point, the meme emerged that we could affect the dice with our minds. So after this, when I’d gone to live with them (sister and brother-in-law), I’d play the game with him. She (para) phrased it so: “Doug and Lee would play backgammon. Lee would get so upset, because Doug ALWAYS rolled doubles. He’d ALWAYS beat Lee.” That brought many memories to the surface. My bro-in-law indeed would lose his cool. “Arrggh! You did it AGAIN! The odds against that are astronomical!” I was accused of cheating: I think he even used different dice. If I had a chip on the bar, nine out of ten times (guesstimate here), I got out. If I had two chips, I’d roll doubles on the one opening to get out. This isn’t to say that I won every game: I’m fairly sure he won a few. But only a few.

It made no difference, as I can recall. How’d I do it? I have no idea. Did I palm them, slide them, or have some trick up my sleeve? No. I’d read Scarne on Cards, but hadn’t done any homework on dice. We weren’t playing for money, just for the fun of it. I think he even had us use a Yahtzee cup (but memory is spotty: it’s been some time since then). Still, the results ended up the same.

If you put a gun to my head, and my life depended on doing this today, I admit freely: I’d be dead. I’m sure that some of my more learned readers could probably figure out how I managed this: I’m stumped, to be sure.

The years became decades (the Chinese have a wonderful saying: “Beware time, young man, for in the blink of an eye, you’ll be an old man”), and one by one, the substances I abused became discarded distractions. I gave up marijuana due to a sequence of events that demonstrated how stupid I became under the influence. As each item dropped from my life, the supernatural occurrences also seemed to vanish.

In 1987, my father passed away, and my immediate family was beside themselves. I recall late one night, believing that I sensed my father’s presence, and a distinct feeling of his worrying over us. I remember telling that presence that we’d be fine, and that it was to pass on. I also have the moment in my mind’s eye, that I told God himself that I would gladly surrender my place in heaven for my father. To this day, I still have the sporadic dream about him (punctuated years apart from each other), where he returns, sometimes changed to being younger or wilder or distant, dreams where it turns out we only thought he was dead, but no explanation is given as to where he’d been all these years.

In my late thirties and early forties, when I lived alone, I’d hear voices. Sometimes, I’d hear my name shouted. These startled me at first, but I learned to ignore them. Once I stopped heeding them, they went away. I’d long since given up my occultic studies, due to a chapter in the bible.
Let me digress a bit here:
My first experience with out of context (age 17-18?): reading a chapter out context was reading a book by Lady Sheba (I think it was this one), where she quoted in one of the chapters, from Isaiah 47 – “47:12 Stand now with thine enchantments, and with the multitude of thy sorceries, wherein thou hast laboured from thy youth; if so be thou shalt be able to profit, if so be thou mayest prevail.
47:13 Thou art wearied in the multitude of thy counsels. Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, the monthly prognosticators, stand up, and save thee from [these things] that shall come upon thee.
And offered this as proof that the bible condoned it. What’s my motto? Oh yeah – LOOK IT UP. So I did.
47:14 Behold, they shall be as stubble; the fire shall burn them; they shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame: [there shall] not [be] a coal to warm at, [nor] fire to sit before it.”

It was this passage, many years later that convinced me to drop all this occultic nonsense. Special note for my beloved readers: Lady Sheba’s main claim to fame is that she stood on a rooftop in San Francisco, and summoned up a wind at command. If you’ve ever been to S.F, you’ll see how ridiculous such a claim is: it may not be Chicago, but you’d be hard pressed to find an outdoor area where you won’t get buffeted a bit.

In my late thirties/early forties, I met a sweet, lovely Phillipino woman, who’d been married eighteen years to an abusive, psychotic alcoholic. She tried to bring me into her church: it blossomed into romance instead. She left him, and her church (the Iglesia ni Christos) left her, for divorcing him in court. Her hubbie then proceeded to drag anyone he could into the separation, not only their church, but also his banker. In the meantime, I met her 11-year-old son, who took to me almost immediately, and I became his stepfather (of sorts), to the point where whenever we had disputes, I never, EVER heard the phrase “You’re not my father!” (Yeah, his dad was that bad).

The boy began taping his sessions with this church, and brought them home. He also brought home handouts about their religion, upon which he asked me my opinion. Being very familiar with the bible, I immediately pointed out big huge gaping problems with the written indoctrinations. Things such as queries: “What happens to those who don’t attend the Sunday masses?” “They burn in the lake of fire!” That sort of thing. Or the recorded lame nonsenses, like “Kids are divorcing their parents because the parents want them to clean up their room” (I wish I was kidding!). Claiming their church was foretold by some obscure passage in the bible (“ I will bring your seed from the east.”), a church member who offered to ‘court’ her back to her husband, another who gave them psychiatric advice the equivalent of putting a band-aid over a gaping wound (“Buy her flowers”, “Take her out to dinner”, all of this a year after they were divorced). Meanwhile, this idiot would call her all hours of the day and night, begging that she take him back, to the point where I told her to get an answering machine (she was running her own business of sorts, crafts, and she didn’t have one. I found out later, most Phillipinos don’t like these machines – they’ll holler for someone to pick up, or rattle on and on until someone picks up – at least her sisters did). The kid actually gave up on the church till many years later – when her sister’s family moved in with us. I’m fairly sure that this was pivotal in his brief return to it.

Fast forward, some years later: her husband suicided, and her church invited her back. I offered to marry her, not once, but several times. However, it was conditional: I had to join her church in order to do so. This was one of the reasons we split up. I had moved out prior to this – living alone in a mother-in-law style apartment. I was still hearing the occasional voice (I’ve mentioned this elsewhere), which I learned to ignore.

Black Tuesday came, and every American felt the reverbations, both then and now. I became intensely religious – I was positive that the End of Days was nigh. For five years I believed. Not intensely enough to seek out other ‘seekers’ (to this day, I march to the beat of a different drummer in everything), but intensely enough to the point where I became nervous about the identity cards discussion in the US, and when I applied for welfare (which I never got), they did a retina scan, which worried me to no end. I swore I’d never take the ‘Mark’, or deny the divinity of Jesus.

I have spoken elsewhere, here, here, and here about the personal details of my path to atheism. Once I made my choice, the voices ceased. Nightmares became story content. The shadows became simply shadows, not creatures but the absence of light. Mythology became what it always was, in the beginning: only stories.

I embraced a light of a different sort – that of knowledge, of science, of humanity. No more goblins and ghosties and long-legged beasties. No more deadbeat deities with promises of castles in the air. No more immortality.

I still dream vividly, I still do Tai Chi (it works, ‘nuff said), but I have become more familiar with logic, with critical thinking, and neurons are still cutting paths of knowledge into my grey matter, and will do so till I die. I can still see motes of energy dancing in the air; still enjoy the feel of gooseflesh (I can actually do that on command), but the freedom! Ah, the freedom. Of being accountable only to my fellow human being, to society, not answerable to some abstract anthropic principle of which much is said and written about but never seen or heard from. No presence outside of the voice heard within.

It is my voice, and my voice alone, that I hear now. When I think, it is only I. No one else, no divine father or evil schemer. I welcome this sort of loneliness: but I have always been a loner of sorts, an independent spirit.

Everything I truly need, I have within me. No more searching outside myself, for external validation. All that I am is I. No more shifting responsibilty off into the void.

There is the sporadic occasion where I wish I were still a praying man. But those grow increasingly intermittent. Soon, that too shall pass. I steeple my fingers in thought, not supplication.

It is quieter now: the din has ceased; the cool breeze dapples the skin, burdens lifted, and silence is no longer frightening.

Being alone is a good thing, when one has a loss of gods.

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8 comments:

remy said...

Have you heard of Shelleytherepublican? ("Compassionate Conservatism") Is it a joke? I'd include the link but I remain blog-inept.
There is an "article" on Aug. 28 defining atheists. It's hilarious but a wee bit frightening.

Krystalline Apostate said...

remy:
No, I haven't.
You can just copy 'n paste. I do it all the time.
I think I'll drop by, ring a bell or 2.

Krystalline Apostate said...

remy:
There is an "article" on Aug. 28 defining atheists. It's hilarious but a wee bit frightening.
I've been scanning the site.
Those people are pinheads. 'Hitler was a liberal'. Comparing Clinton to HITLER?!?!
Mental midgetry is the term that comes to mind.
I left a comment. I'm crossin' my fingers, hoping it's a satire site.

remy said...

I've been reading it and it seems to have been there a while. I think this person actually exists. Someone dumber than phreedumb!! It's hypnotic. I still can't believe what I'm reading. I can't stop myself.


( The way the blog is configured on my computer makes it impossible to paste. I'll make due.)

Krystalline Apostate said...

remy:
( The way the blog is configured on my computer makes it impossible to paste. I'll make due.)
????
You got a PC, or a Mac? If it's a PC, I can probably help ya.

Bronski said...

The link to Shelley the Republican is http://www.shelleytherepublican.com/. I can't beleive that this guy is for real!

Krystalline Apostate said...

bronski:
I think it's a gal, but am unsure.
I'm hoping it's a satire site.

remy said...

Thanks Ka' I'll send an email?

I thought female. I still can't believe it's real.