The Vital Importance of a Magical Persona
Part 1: "I'll reveal your true form!"
The person writing this article does not exist.
Frater Pera is a construct. He is a mask that I wear when I present myself to the public. In this disguise I am able to carefully curate the experience that I have with people and the experience that they have with me. When I speak off-the-cuff and in-person I often find myself struggling to express ideas in a way that is measured and thoughtful. Anxiety surges to the fore and the first words to leave my mouth are often charged by impulse and emotion. The man that I am, the one who walks around in meatspace, is flaky and suffers from a short attention span. He is easily bored, always horny, and prone to forget the details that you need him to remember. He enjoys talking to people but has no time or talent for small talk. He is nervous, a little shy, and quite often feels physically ugly due to baldness, weight gain, and the cruelty of time. I, the mundane man who wears the mask of Frater Pera, am a less-than-ideal figure to walk the sacred grounds of mythology.
This is why I wear a mask. This is why Spider Man wears a mask. Setting aside the danger that Peter Parker’s loved ones face were his identity to be known by his enemies, the mystery goes a long way to reinforce the power of wall-crawling and super-strength. And before you dorks bug me online, I know. They’ve revealed his identity a million times in the comics and they’ve walked it back just as many.
Work with me, guys.
Consider how different the struggle would be if Doctor Octopus were to fight dweeby Peter Parker in the classic Steve Ditko books and not Spider Man of the classic red and blue. Peter’s super hero powers would be no less diminished but Doc Ock would likely be emboldened and empowered by the image before him not of a super-powered crime fighter but of a sweaty teenage boy. Spidey would be constantly aware that he’s just this kid trying to stop a megalomaniac with four nigh-unbreakable mechanical arms going all over the god damn place. Quip all you like, Pete. You still look ridiculous in that sweater vest. When Peter wears the mask, Doc Ock isn’t fighting Peter Parker. He’s fighting Spider Man and that helps Peter out an awful lot. He inhabits the persona of Spider Man. Spidey is still very much a part of him. Spider Man comes from within and bears his best, most idealized characteristics. It’s a mantle that he wears to pack away the frail human pieces of him so his best self can come out and get the job done. Peter is a smart guy but he has a lot going on. He has to keep his grades up and take care of Aunt May. J. Jonah Jameson is constantly up his ass about getting more pictures of Spider Man. He lives with the guilt of Uncle Ben’s death. But Spider Man doesn’t have to worry about that stuff. He has ripped abs, web shooters and a sharp wit to go along with a series of seriously awesome comic book advantages. He can punch Doctor Doom in the face and leave a dent in the mask.
Peter Parker is just a dude.
Spider Man is fucking awesome!
If you look back through the storied history of the occult you find example after example of pioneering magicians whose personalities strike you as larger than life. It is often impossible to pin down which parts of their biography are true and which are the fabrications of history and rumor. No greater example of this can be found than the example of Aleister Crowley. The Great Beast, though dead by many decades as of this writing, continues to haunt the world in ways that I’m sure would amuse him to no end were he alive to see it. The so-called Wickedest Man in the World bears the blame by twitchy conspiracy nuts for everything from orchestrating 9/11 from beyond the grave to accidentally spilling hot coffee in their lap on their way to work in the morning. My mother, to this very day, exclaims in shock, “But he was a satanist!” at the mere mention of Crowley. In life he went out of his way to shock people. He pushed limits and let their imaginations run wild because that specter of terror is as much a conduit to magical power as The Middle Pillar Exercise. Even Crowley’s failures were fuel on the fire. Though, his experiment at the Abbey of Thelema resulted in a squalid dump where he literally ate poo among many other awful occasions, he ended up kicked out of Italy altogether by Mussolini and that’s the sort of thing you want to put in bold type at the top of your resume when you’re trying to convince the world that yes, you are in fact that bad.
Crowley is the obvious easy go-to name but look around you! Poke Runyon, when prompted to speak on his past, rattles off a story that sounds like the dust jacket of a pulpy men’s adventure novel. The lines between the life of Franz Bardon and his fictional occult detective, Frabato, are blurred so severely that separating them is impossible. Was he imprisoned in Hitler’s concentration camps because he refused to perform magic for the Third Reich? Probably not. While he was, in fact, held in a camp it was likely because of his esoteric associations, as were many other outwardly weird occultists of Europe that got caught up in the Nazis’ dragnet. But people tell that story about Bardon, regardless, because it’s awesome to think of this powerful magician spitting in Der Fuhrer’s face. Dion Fortune is alleged to have led a coven of witches to magically repel Jerry from The King’s Shores, a rumor so persistent that Walt Disney engraved it in film history with the movie Bedknobs and Broomsticks.
And on and on it goes. Were these rumors true? Who knows? But most importantly, who cares?
Consider the power of villainy. Think about the most villainous figures of the last twenty years, Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. At the height of their respective reigns of terror, the world thought of them as a genocidal maniac who rained chemical weapons on the people of Iraq from the safety of opulent palaces in Baghdad or the all-seeing sinister eye of Jihad, striking at the West with the accuracy and ferocity of a cobra, hidden deep in underground mountain complexes of The Hindu Kush. When finally found, they were both withered and filthy old men, hidden in a spider hole, connected to a dialysis machine. But for literal decades, the governments of the world with a vested interest in carrying out warfare in the Middle East fed the illusion that no force of man was more treacherous and crafty. The public responded in kind.
Self-mythology is the key to the first doors of initiation. Getting carried away with self-mythology is the turning of the key. Blurring the lines between the mundane you and the magical you is the mechanical process which opens the lock.
In part 2, I will explain the theory behind why this works.
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