Two things have happened recently that have caused me to look at why I do what I do. The first is something I like to do every year in December: examine my goals for the year to see which ones I’ve fully accomplished, which ones I’ve partially accomplished, and which ones I’ve not accomplished. This is not done to give myself an “attaboy” for the things I’ve done and a acknowledgement of failure for those things unaccomplished. Rather, it’s just a way to look toward the next year:
- I accomplished goal X: Does this thread in my life end or do I need to have further goals that build on this?
- I partially accomplished goal Y: What did I do correctly and incorrectly in my attempt to achieve this goal? How can I change to fully accomplish this in the coming year? Do I still want to achieve this goal?
- I didn’t meet goal Z: Why? Was I approaching it completely wrong? Was it unrealistic in the first place? Should I abandon this goal and try something else?
Please note that there is no blame or reward in doing this. It’s just an analysis. I agree with the NLP concept that “There is no failure, only feedback.” So I’m trying to get feedback from the past to prepare for my future. I’m trying to discover the “whys” of my life.
The second thing that reminded me of this was a recent post on the Talking About Ritual Magick blog by FraterÂ Barrabbas Tiresius. The title of his post is “I Am Not Frater Barrabbas,” taken after the early autobiographical book by Leonard Nimoy, I Am Not Spock. Written in 1977, Nimoy’s book isn’t a distancing from Nimoy’s Star Trek character as the title led many to assume. Rather, it is a series of dialogs between Nimoy and Spock because Nimoy was having an identity crisis. Nimoy, of course, not only successfully dealt with this issue but went on to acting success in other TV programs as well as returning to the Trek franchise.
In his post, Frater Barrabbas writes, “Mr. Nimoy discussed how some fans had approached him with absurd requests that only the character Spok could have done, such as mind-melding or other attributes associated with the TV show character. This caused Leonard Nimoy some consternation, since he was, after all, just an actor and not an alien named Spok.” (Spelling in original post.)
He continues by saying that Frater Barrabbas “is a fictional persona that I use to promote the books that I have written, my system of magick and the magickal order that I represent to the public.” So this dichotomy in his life is similar to that of Nimoy’s. He also gets requests that compare to those Nimoy received: “I have recently been getting, from time to time, more unusual emails making fairly outrageous requests of me. A few have presented me with terrible life issues that are afflicting them, and have asked me to intervene so that through magick I might miraculously change their fortunes.”
I had to smile at this. Virtually every occult author gets requests like this. I, too, get emails like this. I used to get a tremendous amount of snail mail (now replaced with a tremendous amount of email). About once a month I’d get what I called “THE Letter.” Each one was from a different person and different location. Each had a different story. And yet, the format was surprisingly similar.
- Each letter was very long, often 20 pages or more.
- Each letter was hand written and usually difficult to read, often with poor spelling or grammar.
- Each letter claimed they had just started reading one of my books and they were “sure,” though, that I could help them.
- Before asking a question, they felt it was necessary to tell me their life’s story, often in excruciating detail.
Finally, on the last page, they would ask their question, basically saying that if I could just help them win the lottery or find them a girlfriend (the letters were always written by males) it would solve all of their problems. Frankly, after awhile, I wouldn’t read THE letters at all, I’d just turn to the last page and see what it was that they wanted.
Frater Barrabbas and I have different ways of responding. First, and perhaps the most obvious, is thatÂ Frater Barrabbas is a “persona” and not the real person. He writes:
So if I say as a reminder to everyone that I am not Frater Barrabbas, then you might understand that I am just stepping away briefly from my authorâ€™s mask to speak to you as a real person. It wonâ€™t happen often, but at least you have been advised about this little fact. I am hoping that by writing this article that I might be able to stop some folks from sending me outrageous requests that I could never accomplish. I donâ€™t know the winning lottery number (if I did, I would use it myself), I canâ€™t levitate or cause others to fly, and I am not a miracle worker. As I have previously stated, my purpose for writing is to help people learn to use their own magickal powers.
When I first submitted Modern Magick for consideration, I had to decide whether to use a nom de plume or my real name. For most of my life I had gone by a short version of my first name, Don, and my last name, Kraig. I decided to go all out and use my full given name. This has, unfortunately, led to people running together all three names as one word, DonaldMichaelKraig. In a previous post I wrote, “The donaldmichaelkraig is an entirely fictional cartoon character who has attributed to him vast magickal abilities beyond any other human. Although the donaldmichaelkraig is imaginary, this cartoon creature is based on a real human being who has a little more magickal knowledge and skill than some people and a lot less than many others. The real person on which the cartoon is based would rather have friends than followers and who shares, to the best of his ability, what he has learned.”
My situation is a bit different that of FraterÂ Barrabbas. He chose an alter to represent himself. I chose to be completely open (I have no secrets from my readers) but have had a bit of an alter thrust upon me. Still, it may be closer to who I am than Frater Barrabbas and his real person.
Why I Do What I Do
Frater Barrabbas explained that his “purpose for writing is to help people learn to use their own magickal powers.” This is the second way in which we differ. My purpose for writing, lecturing, giving workshops, etc., has never been to help people “learn to use their own magickal powers.” It has always been to help people discover how to become self-empowered, to become independent thinkers and to learn how to become masters of their individual universes. Magick is a great pathway to independence and self-empowerment, but it is only the means, not the goal.
Frater Barrabbas responds to the challenge of questions that are found at the end of THE letter like this:
Since I am writing through an authorâ€™s persona to help teach others what I know, it doesnâ€™t mean that I am all knowing or all powerful. Far from it! I am just a human being with certain particular virtues and flaws. If you send me an outrageous email request or come up and ask me to perform miracles for you, then I will have to back off and politely say to you, â€śI am sorry, but I am not that Frater Barrabbas!â€ť
That is his solution and it is perfectly valid. It’s the “I’m just a writer solution” and it works for him and probably others. It’s just not my solution.
For me, since my goal was not to teach magick but teach self-empowerment, responding, “Hey, dude, I’m just a writer. Would you ask Stephen King who writes about characters with strange abilities to give you the lottery number? Of course not. Why ask me?” just didn’t seem right.
And then I realized the major difference. Frater Barrabbas does what he does to teach magick. It’s what he does. I do what I do to help others achieve their goals, including self-empowerment. It’s what my readers and students do, not what I do.
If I did a divination to help someone win the lottery, cure a disease, get a girlfriend, etc., I’d be empowering me, not them. They would have a big debt to me for their entire future. Being indebted to another person in this way is not a function of self-empowerment. Doing these things for people goes against my purpose and ideals. Sharing with people how to do these things for themselves helps them to become self-empowered and independent.
I am very proud to say that I have been successful in this. People who have become self-empowered as a result of what I’ve shared have found new loves and married, have better paying jobs, and have become healthy. This is not because of anything I’ve done. They’ve done the work. They took the information and acted on it. They took the time and exerted the effort to learn and use magick. They became self-empowered. And I can’t help but smile because every time one of my students or readers reports on how they improved their lives, I know that I’ve achieved my goal yet again. And I like that!
Why You Do What You Do
Frankly, I don’t know. I can’t determine that for you. You, however, can. You can start right now by looking at the past year and analyzing it in the ways I noted above:
- What goals did you have for the year that you achieved? If you didn’t have any goals, what realistic goals would you like to have for the coming year? What one new skill would you like to learn during the coming year? How can you advance on the goals you did achieve this year?
- What goals did you have that you partially achieved? Did you really want them? Do you still want them? What did you do that allowed you to partially achieve those goals? What did you do that prevented you from achieving those goals? What can you do to overcome the things that prevented you from achieving your goals? Did you include some sort of magick for achieving each of your goals? What ritual or spell can help you achieve them in the coming year?
- What goals did you have that you didn’t achieve at all? Did you really want them? Do you still want them? Were they realistic? Is there an in-between goal you should have achieved first? What can you do to achieve the goals you didn’t achieve in the coming year? What specific magick can you do to help you?
Answering these questions can help you on your path to self-empowerment. Magick, in my opinion, is an important assistant on that path. However magick (again, in my opinion) is not the goal.
Note to Frater Barrabbas: Almost two decades after writing I Am Not Spock, Nimoy wrote I Am Spock. Even if you try to stay independent from Frater Barrabbasâ€”as I stay a bit different from donaldmichaelkraigâ€”there is, over time, an almost inevitable blending. See what happened to TV’s original Superman, George Reeves.