When I went to high school the only good musicians were in the school’s jazz band. I didn’t want to play jazz, I wanted to rock out! I ended up in a variety of bands playing all over. Here is an early picture of me playing on my highly customized Hammond B3 organ. The small box on top of it was a theremin I had built from a kit.
The photo was taken at a huge rock concert on Venice beach in southern California. I was also in bands that opened for groups such as Great White and Elton John. So when it comes to rock and roll, I know it.
For a time, I lived in a small apartment right next to the famous Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood. If you want to see where I lived, get a copy of the movie, The Day of the Locust staring Donald Sutherland and Karen Black. Many of the characters lived in a quirky court with a fountain at the center. I lived with some other band members in the apartment where famed actor and little person Billy Barty lived in the movie. We practiced in the garage behind the apartments. You can’t see the apartments today because the Chateau Marmont bought the complex and walled up the entry to them. You can, however, still see a few of the stairs going up to the walled in area right off of Sunset Blvd. and down the street from Greenblatt’s Deli.
Our drummer was incredible. But he liked cocaine far too much. High on the drug, he fell off a second floor balcony at a party. Two days later he was dead.
The cocaine didn’t kill him. Band life didn’t kill him. Some people simply become so attached to one or more drugs that nothing else matters. He was one such person. He could go weeks without any drugs. Then, when at a party, he’d go on a bender. He was responsible. The drug and fall may have been the bullet, but he pulled the trigger.
So what does this have to do with magick? So far I’ve just been establishing my creds.
On the Augoeides blog, Scott Michael Stenwick draws attention to the recent comments of Megadeth guitarist Dave Mustaine. To understand Mustaine you really need to look at his history. According to Wikipedia, he had a rough childhood and by 15 was on his own, living by dealing drugs. Eventually, he learned guitar and in 1981 joined the band Metallica. The owner of the band’s record label claimed that although very talented, Mustaine “had an incredibly large problem with alcohol and drugs. He’d get wasted and become a real crazy person, a raging maniac…” By 1983 the rest of the band were through with him. “Mustaine was officially fired from the band because of hisÂ alcoholism, hard drug abuse, overly aggressive behavior, and personality clashes…” Mustaine, however, went on to form the band Megadeath.
So far, this sounds just like rock and roll. Recently, however, Mustaine released his autobiography. He claims that he “…became fascinated in [W]itchcraft as a teen and he’s convinced spells he cast have come back to haunt him.” He claims, “When I got into black magic I put a couple of spells on people when I was a teenager and it haunted me forever, and I’ve had so much torment. People say, ‘G*dda**, Dave never gets a break, he’s had such a hard life,’ and I just think, ‘No, Dave didn’t – he got into black magic and it ruined his life.’”
I call steer excrement.
A ruined life? The lead singer and guitarist for one of the most successful bands in history? A man with sponsorship deals, record contracts, and now an autobiography Â (co-written by Joseph Layden who specializes in “helping” people write autobiographies)?
I call steer excrement.
The person responsible for his drug and alcohol use was Mustaine. Yes, he had a difficult life as a boy. So have millions of other boys and girls who didn’t become drug and alcohol abusers.
The saddest aspect of Mustaine’s confessional is that he didn’t learn one of the most important principles of magick: you are responsible for what you do. Each of us is responsible for our actions. Because they realize they can use magick to obtain what they need, real magicians are especially cognizant of personal responsibility. So what is it that has caused Mustaine to blame anything other than himself and not take personal responsibility for his actions?
Mustaine was primarily brought up by his mother who was a member of a strict Christian sect. Now, he is again following a fundamentalist Christian path. Contrary to much of mainstream Christianity (which is not the extremism that is so often represented as Christianity per se on TV), in Mustaine’s style of Christianity the responsibility for anything you’ve done that is bad get’s pushed off onto Jesus’ shoulders. Jesus not only died for your sins, but is responsible for them. Therefore, you are not responsible for anything you do. This particular style of Christianity removes the problem of personal responsibility completely.
But there’s another problem. If Jesus gets the blame for everything you do, then it follows (in their logic) that you’re also not the cause of anything you do. So what is the cause of everything bad? To quote The Church Lady from the old “Saturday Night Live” skits, “Could it be…Satan?”
Yep. Do you have an ailment? Satan or one of his demons is the cause. Are you broke? Blame Satan. Lost your job? Blame Satan. Abusing drugs and alcohol? Satan was the cause, or in the case of Mustaine, his alleged dabbling with some form of magickal work.
To slightly change the quote from “2001: A Space Odyssey’s” HAL 9000 computer, “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t buy that.” Â We’re each responsible for our own actions. That’s what you should have learned from your time with magick. I believe that’s what all magicians should know. Your failures are not due to dabbling with Wicca or something supposedly like it, they’re due to you.
Personal responsibility is at the core of magick. We are responsible for what we do.