The Kindly Psychic

To set the stage:

As a young man, Israel Regardie in America applied to the by then notorious Aleister Crowley, and though lacking credible bona fides, managed to secure a position as the Great Beast's private secretary. He set sail at once.

On the first night in London, Crowley, his inamorata and Regardie sat down for supper. This obviously was still part of the "getting to know you" routine. I can well imagine idle chit-chat throughout the repast, and the young amanuensis still agog at actually joining Baphomet himself for something so routine as eating. I mean, does a Logos of the Aeon really need to indulge in such activity?

With the meal concluded, I suppose Regardie expected port and cigars to follow in such a posh setting.

Instead, Crowley pushed his chair back from the elegantly set table, took the Scarlet Woman by her hand and escorted her to the floor, at which time they proceeded to copulate, the shy young scribe serving as an unbiased witness to the joining of flesh.

Not a bad initiation for a virgin, and of course I refer to the spectator, not the mummers on the dusty floor.

A day or two later, Aleister summoned the young Regardie to take dictation. It was a letter to someone or other on the subject of fingernail hygiene. As Crowley dictated, he emphasized to the recipient the importance of clean nails, cropped cuticles and a tasteful manicure if one is to enter society as a gentleman. Regardie dutifully jotted all this down and prepared the letter for posting.

In fact, the missive was a gigantic fraud, never intended for franking.

Rather unbelievably, the entire episode was concocted as a gentle persuasion, sort of a second-hand object lesson, because the young and newly hired secretary was guilty of dirty nails himself. And yet Crowley chose this uncharacteristically kind approach to getting the message across. There's more to him than meets the eye in many ways.

Fast-forward to around 1989 or so. 

Minnesota. An assistant professor of Computer Science now, but returning to the East Side Pharaohs for esthetic release. Being ditched by the cocaine-crazed Hustler magazine editrix after a too short fling, and waiting for the next amorous audition.

That summer break, after yet another heavy battle slogging muddily through the mire of academe, I took a short venture to the Twin Cities to procure a new telescope. Teaching had quickly taught me that it's far more rewarding to look
up when everyone else finds their feet so fascinating. When you get a moment, investigate Thales falling into the well. That's how I felt, and would gladly join him down there.

On a whim, I decided to work in a Plymouth side-trip to see my old college buddy, Joe, whom you met in The Unitarian Center. Goddamn, how I have always loved this guy! I was very lucky to have met him before reaching my majority. You know how most people's views of the world are dominated and constricted by the Law of Excluded Middle? (I'm a Roman Catholic, therefore Islam is false, or I'm a Muslim, therefore Lutheranism is false, or I'm an atheist, therefore Roman Catholicism is false, ad nauseam.) Well, what made Joe so special in my estimation is that he believed in everything! Christianity, flying saucers, crop circles, Dianetics, Silva Mind Control, Transcendental Meditation, tarot, astrology, vegetarianism,  eye exercises in lieu of spectacles,  Atlantis, pyramid power, biorythyms, playing Mozart recordings to tomato name it. Joe believed in it all. Lest you think him a dangerous Madison Avenue whore of the Aquarian Age, keep in mind that all, except the first in that list, were essentially harmless activities not likely to disrupt other's lives.

I mean, think about this a bit. I would venture a guess that 99.99% of the population believe in at best one thing only, and
know that everyone else is wrong to believe otherwise (a useful trait if running for president). And then there are those who believe in nothing and swell the ranks of MBAs, television marketers and carnival workers.

Oh, with regard to those who believe in nothing, let's not forget the Cloth, which has always provided an easy berth for predators unfit for useful work. Brother Bill always said that was the biggest racket of them all. Speaking of whom, did I ever tell you how he answered the telephone? For several months, he'd pick up the handset and respond, "This is the Parsonage." When that wore thin, Bill switched to my favorite: "State your purpose and I will decide if I wish to speak to you." I still remember using that myself for the first time when Mike called. After a half-beat pause, he responded with the witty riposte "Fuck you." The English language is so rich!

To repeat for emphasis: what set Joe apart was that he believed in everything.

Moreover, he is one of the sweetest persons I've ever known in my six decades here.

Joe kind of makes me think of the natives' response to the conquistadors wreaking havoc in Mexico some five-hundred years ago.

Conquistador: Here, you, native! This is the crucifix and it bears the likeness of Christ whom you will worship, else we will slaughter you and your family.

Native: Of course! We'll be glad to add your deity to those who have served us well for the past several thousand years.

Conquistador: Hmm...the verb "to add" is not in my vocabulary. Obviously, you don't understand that the social contract I propose is exclusionary.

Native: Obviously? What are you, British?
You get the idea. The poor indigenous people were more than glad to worship yet another beneficent, not understanding that Christianity is a blood sport.

Anyway, Joe epitomized "We are not sent into the world to air our moral prejudices." And he was just an incredibly kind person by nature. Though we stood on opposing ends of the scales in many ways, we loved and respected each other tremendously. I've already described elsewhere how he despaired of my weight-gain diet (though I never confessed the steroids to him), and the tobacco and the liquor, yet he always accepted me for what I was. Likewise, in return. I like crazy people, and so did he, but I have a suspicion he'd never own to it aloud.

So, back to the visit after a decade's absence. I pulled into his ranch, sort of in the sticks, encircled by a moth-eaten and weed filled "lawn," where we tossed all sorts of ideas back and forth. Tons of astrology. I patiently listened to his new interest in an incredibly complicated system of Indian harmonics and what the Vertex is up to, and in return I touted the astrology of Claudius Ptolemy, Johannes Kepler and Alan Leo which had always seemed and still seems perfectly serviceable to me. Naturally, neither convinced the other, but unlike the SOP of Jew killing Muslim or vice-versa, we didn't care. Maybe that was the essence of the Aquarian Age: when confronted with a seemingly odd or contradictory belief, the standard response was: "huh!" (That's an auditory "huh" which is best translated into this written form as "Well, I'll be!") In other words, a response which conveys neither belief nor disbelief, simply an acknowledgment that you heard the speaker. If you're a thinker, that's all that needs to be conveyed.

I just remembered that mid-afternoon we popped into his car (one of those dreadful imported Volvo station wagons he was so fond of restoring), and headed to downtown Minneapolis to deliver some newly crafted horoscopes he had etched to an occult bookshop. When we entered, some dozen browsers were poring over the books, and I noticed not one of them was taking in the Crowley section. They all clustered around the Jeanne Dixon or Edgar Cayce racks. Kind of an irony; Joe really was one of the finest astrologers ever, but this crowd only craved sun-sign delineations and prophecy over-easy; but that's America.

Anyway, as Joe and I entered through the hanging beaded curtain over the door, virtually all of the patrons nodded a knowing "hello" to Joe, as did the two clerks. He definitely was the astrological celebrity in the Minnesota universe.

Back to his ranch, near the end of our visit, as dusk approached, and we relaxed after our intellectual battles, he pulled a chart out from his filing cabinet for a bit of a discourse.

"Studs, here's an interesting chart of a good friend. This guy is young and brilliant, but I'm so troubled about him."

I took a quick peek and instantly noted a prominent Uranus square Venus. I don't recall much else.

Joe continued. "He's just a great guy and I've known him for years. But recently he's fallen into drinking scotch every night and reading the poetry of John Keats. I'm really worried that's all he cares about and is losing touch with reality."

I've never been a particularly disingenuous chap; usually my emotions are painted plain on my face. And so, as I recall it, I'm sure I started, for two reasons. First, it staggered me that Joe even knew who Keats was. As said before, irony is lost on the guy, and that necessarily implies poetry is a black hole in his universe.

But more to the point, that was the very month in my life that scotch whisky and Keats called like some irresistible siren.

At the time, and more so these decades later, I believe the ever kind and ever caring Joe was dictating a letter to me.

Next installment: Synthesis

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