Glass Grimoire is an online fantasy novel that is also Mysticism 101.
I would like to take this opportunity to clarify that, while I have had no sorcerous or magical training of any kind, I have been an aspiring mystic my entire life.
I would argue that, being well read, and in some cases formally educated, in Buddhism, Taoism, Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Gnosticism, Occultism, and Hermeticism, I know more about metaphysical affairs than most. Though not an expert to be sure, I can confidently say I’m no slouch either. But it doesn’t really matter either way because, while I know a lot about them, I don’t believe in any of the systems of belief listed above at all — at least not as anything other than stepping stones to mystical awareness.
I became interested in religion and philosophy mostly because of my interest in what I will call an inner reality constructed mostly from comic books, Dungeons & Dragons and Star Wars. I’ve always been fascinated by religion, but I’ve never been religious. Indeed, I’ve always been perplexed by such willingness to double down on just one of so many paths to the divine. It seemed much too risky to me. Call me a coward — fair enough. And to get on the record straight out of the gate, I consider atheism to be a religion. For how is a professed certainty that there is NO GOD any less perplexing (not to mention zealous) than a professed certainty that there is one? I am satisfied to say I don’t know if there is, or isn’t, a God, which technically makes me agnostic I guess; but as a mystic, I’m not even sure I believe in agnosticism either.
Growing up I wondered about the possibility I was born incapable of believing in things. I also wondered if that would have been thought of as a curse or a blessing? Being a left-handed, freckle-faced, red-head in the seventies, I had stopped believing in blessings early on and had gone all-in with the curse angle. This fostered a lifetime of wondering if something was wrong with me.
In life, I thrashed and flailed through a number of careers. I worked as a soldier, a political scientist, a journalist, a social worker, a copywriter, a teacher, and a creative director — always searching, thinking, contemplating and looking for a place to fit in: trying to find a way to some sort spiritual comfort through the contentment I thought came with belonging. There were times when I longed to believe in something. I just couldn’t. Then suffering came.
Recently, I went through something of a rough five-year span during which I lost both parents. This is not suffering per se. It is nothing comparable to what others go through and is frankly a natural development in the span of any given life. But relative to my experience, it was harsh.
During this rough patch, as I came face-to-face with a lot of the BIG questions in life, I concluded that I really was a full-on philosopher at heart. More important than that, I realized that a philosopher, impassioned by the blurry lined fantasy mindset of the gee-whiz, four-coloured, pulp realm of comic book, RPG and sci-fi/fantasy lore was predisposed and empowered to blur the lines in life just as easily as in imagination. But most of all I finally realized that being a philosopher was okay: that it wasn’t useless or pointless.
I accepted that mysticism: acknowledgement of something unifying in existence that transcends the predominately social construction of self — or even the traditional notion of God (or gods) was okay to believe in.
This personal revelation didn’t mean I thought I was a holy man, or a wizard, or a sorcerer or a seer. I thought of myself as a mystic: someone who didn’t believe in the lines humanity imposes upon the reality it occupies. And I don’t say it boastfully. It is my belief that we are all mystics. Or at least that we could be, if we try (or is it stop-trying?) hard enough.
I have undertaken daily mindfulness meditation, faithfully for years — and now believe it to be more important to personal wellbeing than physical exercise, though I do that too; again, just to be safe, because you can never be too sure.
To me, the gist of mysticism, which I have come to understand mostly through meditation and Buddhist thought, is that reality as any one individual perceives and knows it, is a fabrication of imposed and arbitrary definitions and delineations. This false, delineated sliced and diced reality is constructed purely to serve the individual’s need for approval and validation from family, peers and society in general. In essence, people take on the false constructs of others (religions, countries, political affiliations, fashion brand loyalties) because their need to belong overpowers there need to be free — or awake.
Sleepwalking with the crowd has trumped the alienation that comes with being awake. It doesn’t have to be that way anymore. THAT is why I write about mysticism!
A line on a map is not real. letters, words, numbers. races, beauty, ugliness… not real!
As a mystic, but also as a retired soldier, I really don’t care about the line on a map that someone tells me separates my country from someone else’s country. It’s an entirely made up thing. If I’m being really honest, I have to tell you I actually feel uncomfortable standing up for the national anthem in the same way I once felt uncomfortable saying the Lord’s Prayer in school. I do it, just to be nice. But on some deeper level, I am embarrassed to be heeding a completely nonsensical conceptual construct as though it were an unquestionable and absolute truth!
Likewise, the fact that I came into the world in a hospital where a certain coloured rectangle of cloth flapped in the wind on a pole overhead does not elicit pride in myself or anything else. I do not perceive it as something that elevates my worth or diminishes someone else’s in any way whatsoever. Why would it? My superiority because of my imagined association with a completely arbitrary, forcefully imposed and socially enforced construct like nation or country is not something I believe, so much as it is something I am told I have to believe or should believe (or else!). It is a falsehood sold to be me as an absolute truth because that deception, that affront to true reality suits someone else’s agenda.
I also don’t believe there is a God. I don’t believe there isn’t one either. But I DO empty my head on a daily basis with hopes that I will stop being burdened by all the cultural delineation on the subject I’ve been over-exposed to in either direction. Same goes for all the nonsense of lines, categories, names, words, numbers, measurements, symbols, religions, economies, political systems, institutions, classifications, ethnicities, distinct sexual orientations and other made-up things we have come to confuse with a truly organic, dynamic reality that doesn’t require them at all to be truly understood.
To me this is what mysticism is. And I do (or at least try to do) what a mystic is supposed to do… most of the time.
For me this is the mystic’s credo.
1) What the Hell do I know!? and really, what the Hell could I know?!
2) Let go.
3) The “I” part goes away.
I like to think we are living in a time when we might all come around to the realization that the lines we draw in reality – and therefore between each other – are just nonsense constructed by people who would keep us down, keep us ignorant, keep us obedient – and therefore to quote another mystic – [keep us] “working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need”
So to be clear, I am a religiously informed, inherently philosophical explorer who was impassioned about metaphysical affairs by sci-fi, comics and RPGs. I guess, I don’t believe in anything, which as Andy will tell you – is paradoxically exactly the same thing as believing in everything.
The above picture in this blog is from a trip I took to Nepal because the sorcerer Doctor Strange did it in the comics. I didn’t really believe I would learn anything super-duper there – but I wasn’t sure I was right about that so I had to go just in case.
Isn’t this the kind of wonderous ignorance that makes life worth living?
In the beginning I was almost certain not many people would want to read my book about mysticism wrapped in a pulp fantasy about an 80s metal-head sorcerer and a Banjo-playing Lord of Limbo traversing a magical multiverse populated by mythological and religious figures, but I couldn’t be completely sure of that so…
We don’t know where the signs, messages, or inspirations that will make us into myths will come from – but it’s important that we not believe in ourselves too much – or too little – to ignore them.
In my view (as a mystic) the important thing to believe is this: let go, chill out, and trust the awareness in you underneath the part of you that makes the mistakes of 1) believing in the lines others have drawn for you to believe in, and 2) drawing new lines of your own.
Shut down your thinking mind once in a while. And try to find the part of you that moves the air in and out of your lungs or fixes your finger when you cut it. Hint: I don’t know what it is — but it isn’t what you tend to think of as you or what I tend to think of as me.
The purpose of my book, which admittedly has lines in it, is to maybe show the way by colouring outside them.
Together then! May we find the bliss of the nowhere that is everywhere.
Hell, Hades and Helheim! Anything’s gotta be better than what we’re doin’ now!
For any who haven’t been reading Glass Grimoire: the Mystical Web Serial Saga of Andy Crowley, a summary (and a plug) follows. The above was for purposes of transparency. What’s below is blatant promotion.
A Pulp Ontological Adventure for a New Age of Mysticism
In 1986 Andy Crowley is as much metalhead and Dungeon Master as he is sorcerer. Humble beginnings for one who – in thirty years – will rule all reality.
From Corbyville to Heliopolitan Mars, through the United Hells to Limbo, join Andy Crowley, sole sorcerer of Sanctuary; Kipling Kilroy, swashbuckling freebooter of Stygian Olympus; the banshee, Jasco, renegade reaper of the realm of Fey; and The Banjoman of Limbo as they race for the most feared relic in all reality – The Glass Grimoire.
But of course, it’s all easier said than done.
In the robot body built for him by Nikola Tesla using stolen Atlantean schematics, Aleister Crowley (no relation), now called the Tin Prince, wants The Grimoire as well; and though feared and admired throughout the multiverse for his superiority with both sword and spell, he has problems of his own. For how much simpler would immortality be if he didn’t have to share his perfect new body with the nagging soul of Mark Twain, be hunted mercilessly by the ghost of Harry Houdini, or rely on the almost limitless supply of spell-fueling souls available to that dandified do-gooder – Lucifer?
Beyond Earth, across the event horizon of Sanctuary Rim, and into the wider, wilder cosmos, where probability is but a plaything of sorcerers, there is a saying…
“…Somewhere in the multiverse, everything is a true story.”