Last time, we took a trip through my looking glass of politics; today, it’s through my looking of religion. Lewis Carroll would be proud of this trip, for, like Carrol, my trip was often enhanced by hallucinogenics of various kinds. It is not uncommon for fledgling mystics to us chemical enhancements to achieve trances. Who am I to argue with tradition? *Wink* I was born in Germany in 1948, my mother was Lutheran my father was Bulgarian Orthodox. I was baptized a Lutheran, originally. Because the Methodist Church sponsored my family to emigrate to the United States, we became Methodists, and I was raised a Methodist. I was such a good Methodist that, in either Second or Third Grade in Sunday School, I won a competition for memorizing and reciting Bible verses. I still have the prize I won: a leather-bound, gilt-edged, Revised Standard Version of the Bible from the Jenkintown Methodist Church. It’s falling apart a bit now, but I treasure it still. A few years later, my mother took me to Philadelphia to a Billy Graham Crusade. I signed up for and completed his Bible study course for kids my age. As I recall, I did pretty well. In case any of you are as big of an asshole as my son, who is typing this, a Billy Graham Crusade is basically a revival meeting, not a military campaign against the infidels. 😄 Michael is quite disappointed.
It was in my senior year of High School, that I became interested, at least on an intellectual level, in Eastern Religions. I started reading things like Khalil Gibran’s The Prophet, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, and The Bhagabad Ghita. In college, I really got into mysticism. especially meditation and the Kabbalah[for the unitiated, the Kabbalah is a form of Jewish mysticism.]. It was also at this time that I took up smoking marijuana, mainly for meditation purposes. My readings at this time expanded to include Aldous Huxley, Frank Herbert, J. R. R. Tolkien, Robert Heinlein, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Jose Casteneda, and others. And I still only smoked dope! In 1968, I came to Chicago. It was here in August that I took my first LSD trip, something I did fairly regularly for the next 4-5 years. I know that many people will have a very negative reaction to that; however, in some ways, my religious development would have been seriously stunted without the use of LSD. The most memorable acid trips were…
1) In the winter of 1969 I had an acid trip where i underwent Crucifixion [No, I was NOT pretending to be Jesus, or even Saint Peter, just a random Crucifixion.]
2) In the early 70s I had a Mescalin trip where I was watching shifting Navaho sand paintings on the sidewalk.
3) A year or two later, on a real trip to the Black Hills, I had an acid trip where I participated in a plains Native American Sun Dance. Michael refuses to use the word “Indian” in that context.
During all these years, I was also working on my meditation and yoga skills. I actually got pretty good at it, although the Lotus position was, and still is, very difficult because of my bad knees. My readings in these included a lot of Occult stuff like Aleister Crowley, Madam H.P. Blabatsky, H.P. Lovecraft, Jose Phillip Farmer, Nikos Kazantzakis(The author of The Last Temptation of Christ). In some ways, that book ultimately triggered my return to Christianity, but that did not happen for a number of years. Another author that I read several books by Black Elk, a Sue Medicine Man.
As you can see, the decade after High School really was a trip through what can best be described as a religious Wonderland. I felt for years much like Alice, chasing the White Rabbit, and finding only the Mad March Hare and the Red Queen.
… To be continued.