It was my early teens that set out my stall for my theological position on the world also. I had been a server (alter boy) at my church and had completed my confirmation which was a huge disappointment to me. Far from the divine light on the road to Damascus I had been led to expect nothing whatsoever manifested to me at that time and I began to take a closer look at the church and its patrons. I found myself nurturing a secret and, so it felt, forbidden disgust at the weekly host in church as it contemplated it's own affluence and finery - new hats and shiny shoes in abundance and yet every single one so far from divinity it was unbelievable to me. Even the choirmaster loved his music more than his god and the sickly spectacle of people behaving as if their righteousness was directly proportional to the amount of time and (worse) money they spent in seeing to it that the church brass was polished and the flowers fresh. I looked on with the feeling that a few less flowers in church and a few more bowls of soup in the homeless shelters of Nottingham would be a good deal more godly. Music too seemed to confirm that I was not alone in my thoughts, lyrics such as "And the world that Christ fought is supported by using his name" and "The bloody church of England requests your earthly presence at the vicarage for tea" spring to mind.
It wasn't just on the material level that I saw the precarious and increasingly unsupportable role of the church if not in the whole of society certainly in the relatively affluent and privileged part of it to which I belonged. I remember writing at the time that if a tramp came into our church during a sunday service the vicar would be snowed under with letters of protestation by the monday morning.
Turning away from the church was one thing which was, for me, a process long in the making and somewhat hindered by my initial reaction which was wrong though understandable to turn towards something else. In the long run I turned away, in the short term I turned, naturally enough, to the church's sworn enemy, Satan. It was around this time that the incidents described in part 1 occurred which is a great pity as I was on the verge of uncovering the greatest scandal in Western history over the past two thousand years. Before I could arm myself with the dangerous knowledge which I used so successfully to set the demons of Crowley's sphere upon my trail I learned much about the Satan figure. Our church very rarely mentioned him, it was, to give credit to the rector of the time, a positively based church prefering to focus on the love and compassion of god rather than instill fear of the devil. Thus my discovery of Satan came from my own more independent research. I learned how Satan was a figure never mentioned until the spread of Christianity across northern Europe in the 3rd & 4th century AD and further that he was a tool of the early church based profitably (a church watchword of the time) in Rome. Satan was a formal Christian corruption of the ancient horned god sometimes called Cernunnos who was widely worshiped as the consort to the Mother Goddess of the predominant populace at the time. The church used Cernunnos / Satan to show the people that the old gods were evil and hateful and through it's enormous influence (supported of course by its enormous wealth) that salvation from this evil could be found in the all embracing and compassionate God of the new testament. Through persuasion and when that failed through persecution and the political manipulation of the declining Roman empire the church set about systematically eradicating all forms of worship of the gods who had been most people's mainstay way of life. More informed commentators of the time noted that "The one God comes to drive out the many". It was hard, as a fourteen year old, to digest this lie on such a grand scale, to consider the prospect that my whole early life's religious teaching was based on such a huge falsification of theology AND history. All those generations that preceded the coming of Christianity were not the savages the church would have us believe - indeed our great archetypal heroes like Arthur Pendragon had always sat uncomfortably with the church until it decided to place Arthur in an historical period where it seemed plausible that his great deeds stemmed less from his paganism and more from his Christianity. That said it does seem highly likely that Arthur's success and popularity stemmed from his willingness to bring people the best of both religions rather than utter acceptance of only one. I was later to find out that this imagined history was also not completely true!
Although still fascinated by Crowley and the magick arts I found my spirit drifting towards the ancient religions of the celts and their traditions and I caught myself up in a confusing world of mixed theologies and mythologies. Much worse for me was the continued presence of the demons in my life, mind and spirit. I was, as I described in part 1 a most disturbed and unhappy adolescent. It got better very gradually. As I learned more of the nature of what I had done that night in the churchyard I began to understand more about the forces I had unleashed upon myself and also some basic means of protecting myself from them. It was here that I began to practice a reduced form of witchcraft which involved charms and spells gleaned from such unsuitable sources as the Malleus Maleficarum and A. E. Waite's "Book Of Spells and Incantations". I was yet to discover the renaissance of modern witchcraft begun in the fifties by Gerald Gardner.
The demons however were more than equal to my attempts and by the time I came of age and went off to university they were as hot on my tail as ever they had been. I was under constant assault from depression, despair and horrifying nightmares, my symptoms were a more adult manifestation of the adolescent ones described previously. I would be gripped to paralysis in the middle of the street by a deep and soul bending emptiness, at night my sleep would be a turmoil of paranoia and self depreciation fuelled always by something unseen lurking in a dark cave above me which was often visualised in terrifying relief in my dreams.
It was here, while at university that my inevitable breakdown occurred. I unsurprisingly succumbed at last to the pressures of these forces at work in my spirit and underwent what I later discovered to be a complete spiritual withdrawl. This is not to say that it was in any way induced or conscious, in fact I had no realisation the this was occurring but it went this way:
My room in the university flats became infested with a poltergeist. I tried discourse with it on several occasions but it frightened me so greatly that I eventually went to see the university chaplaincy. They did, to their credit, come over to see me but concluded that an overactive imagination and a basic mistrust of the church underpinned my experiences and that the whole incident was, if not self-imagined, at least self-induced. Faced with no other choice I researched and carried out an exorcism by myself which, although partially successful was no doubt hindered by my lack of faith in some of the words I was saying. I followed the the rite taking the part of the priest myself and forcing the entity to name and reveal itself before casting it out of my life in the name(s) of god. Needless to say it (and the ever present demons) liked this not at all and although the poltergeist activity ceased abruptly I was left more desolate than ever before. So much so that I underwent complete breakdown, miraculously survived a suicide attempt (being talked off the top of a building site crane at the hospital next door by an entity unknown) and finally by a visit to the university doctor and later psychologist.
It was at this point that my path took on some direction and some meaning and this was in no small measure due to my meeting and deep friendship with Kevin who I came to share a flat with for two years and who I came to know as Brother Max. Our time together working and discovering magick will form thenext part of this text . . . .