Those of you who have followed Mad Mister Mark through previous incarnations know that spiritual seeking is a big part of my story.
From my early days training as a Southern Baptist minister and playing with tarot cards and astrology charts; from contemplating the priesthood and monastic traditions within the Episcopal church; from wild Dionysian hedonism to nihilistic despair to rooms full of folding chairs and the smell of burnt coffee promising twelve steps to sanity; to my deep dive into Buddhism, Zen, the Tao; to winding up full-circle in the Fortune’s Wheelhouse of western esoterica, astrology, qabala, and tarot. My path has been confounding and circuitous, to say the least!
Through my podcast, I’ve had the amazing fortune, in a few brief episodes, to interview some giants of contemporary metaphysics. Each conversation has offered an opportunity to find my own place in the esoteric landscape.
Lon Milo Duquette reminded me of the importance of living in the present moment. He observed that traditions are like different facets on lenses of glasses. That it is important at some point to stop fiddling with the glasses and look through to see what there is to be seen.
Robert M. Place talked about trusting your intuition, dreams, and inner guidance.
Christopher Warnock noted astrological traditions are like languages and magick is a technology, but they require a spiritual framework to have meaning.
T. Susan Chang and Mel Meleen have created an amazing body of work connecting the symbols and correspondences of the tarot, astrology, Qabalah into a luminous frame through which to view life.
Folks like Austin & Kaitlin Coppock have created lives and businesses deeply interwoven with astrological and magickal workings.
I spend a good deal of Facebook time interacting with folks in the Fortune’s Wheelhouse Academy group, who are thoughtful and devoted practitioners of a host of traditions all linked by the tarot.
These conversations and relationships have led me to deeply examine the “to what end?” aspect of my metaphysical fascinations. Do the wormholes I giddily enter lead me deeper into or further away from my life?
The site and podcast I launched at the end of Taurus season have picked up steam and gained traction more quickly than I imagined. The increased attention has increased my questioning. I enjoy the dizzying heights of mercurial metaphysics–numbers and paths, signs and houses, courts and majors. Such elaborate systems that wrap the universe in symbols and secret knowledge. I’ve learned so much about the uncanny accuracy and power of traditional astrology. I’ve heard mesmerizing meditations on materialism and animism. Angels and demons. Egergores and thought forms. And dozens and dozens of draws from a bewildering array of tarot decks. The experience has been kaleidoscopic, brilliant, and sublime.
Still, underneath it all, my question persists, “to what end?”
The modus operandi for most of my life has been escape. It began as a small child with a love of trains and the wonder of where such magnificent mechanical beasts must go down rails smelling of oil and summer. My first book was the Wizard of Oz and for a long time, I wished for cyclones. On to Narnia, Middle Earth, and a galaxy far, far away. The church, theater, and finally booze–they all were vehicles out and away.
When I got sober, I learned the importance of living close to my life–living “life on life’s terms” and connecting to my experience authentically. Buddhism and Zen helped me do that in a practical way. I learned to see the wonder and mystery in the everyday.
The Great American Eclipse of 2017 and my discovery of the Fortunes Wheelhouse podcast reminded me that there was a western mystery tradition that had been used by mystics for the same purpose for centuries. I found great comfort in reading ancient texts and revisiting the astrology and tarot of my teenage years. I loved finding connections and creating charts and spreadsheets to connect the dots. But in climbing the Tree and fixating on stars, I began to drift slightly off center. My 12-step meetings started to seem passé when there was so much new metaphysical meat for my brain to chew on. I love rendezvous-ing with my Facebook friends to see who has posted what and with what deck, but my face-to-face encounters with offline friends have grown scarce. Then a few days ago, a very close friend of mine called to say he’d just gotten out of rehab. A gregarious, life-of-the-party dude whose suffering I would have never suspected. Suddenly I found myself sucked back down to the messy, material plane of Malkuth.
I know for my sanity and health, I can’t get too far removed from the suffering that brought me down a dozen years ago. An important way of staying plugged in is being with others who are suffering in the same way I’ve suffered. As much as the metaphysical captures and delights my imagination, it does not keep me grounded. For other people, it might. For other people, it may even keep them sober and sane.
For me though, I find myself on the edge of a thin limb. With each new wormhole, I feel faint panic at the back of my throat–a restlessness, a fear of missing out. I keep thinking the big answer I’m looking for is in the next article, the next deck, the next book. My jaw clenches and I can’t finish one thing for fear the next thing will start without me.
It’s not nearly as dramatic as it sounds, it’s just a shimmery, sweaty buzz around my brain. And I know that feeling. And I know where it can lead…
I love creating my podcast. I love having online interactions with the amazing folks I’ve met along my journey. But it’s time to regroup and figure out what I need my voice to be. It’s important for me to live intentionally and consciously. I’m not sure I can do that within the western esoteric tradition.
The Mad Mister Mark site and podcast will stay up through the Summer Solstice, then it seems a fitting time for them to go dark. I’ll keep you up-to-date on what’s happening next. Perhaps you’ll be interested in going along for the ride.
Thanks to all the folks who have been so kind, supportive and enthusiastic about my presence and participation in all things esoteric over the past couple of years. You are marvelous, magickal folk whom I treasure. It brings me great joy and comfort knowing you’re out there rattling the cage of the cosmos, tinkering with the astral back-end, and making art, poetry, and prophecy.
As for me, I’m going to kick around in Malkuth for a bit and try to decipher what the ol’ Princess of Pentacles is manifesting. In the meantime, I wish you all wonder, revelation, and joy.
All my best,
Mad Mister Mark