You know a few things now. You know who you are, what you can do, and how you can change. You know how to handle yourself in a fight, even if that means slapping a number on your back and making like the marathon. You’ve even popped your hood and gotten your hands dirty mucking around inside your brains. Now it’s time to learn what to do with all this. It’s time to play the game.
There are no instructions on how to find the occult underground. You don’t get it handed to you on a platter, complete with a copy of Secret Magick Cults For Dummies. You have to find it for yourself. The best way to do this isn’t spending time in a library or asking your guidance counselor for help. The best way is simple: pick a goal, follow your obsession, trust your passions, and get ready for trouble.
The secret to finding the occult underground is to create it for yourself. You and your group start doing things, learning things, and the fact that you’re making things happen attracts attention. Just deciding you’re going to be part of the occult underground is like putting out an “Open For Business” sign. You start giving off vibes that tell the right people you’re one of them. Next thing you know, there’s a knock at the door or a tap on the shoulder and somebody’s got a proposition for you.
Get prepped. Start acting like you’re a part of the occult underground and it’ll become a part of you.
What do you want? Your group wants something, sure. But what do you want? It could be something selfish, altruistic, or indifferent. It might coincide with your group’s goal, or your group may just be a vehicle for getting what you want. Power? Wealth? Pleasure?
There’s something else to consider: what would you risk to get what you want? You might be willing to die for it, or lose a friend, or just lose your job. The more vital your goal, the more it’s going to violate the comfort zone of everyday life — and the closer you’ll be to finding the occult underground.
Figure out your goal and make a note of it, plus how you’re going to achieve it. That tells you some useful things right there. If your goal is to pull a bank heist and retire, the first thing you need to do is hook up with some people who can take down the score.
One more thing about your goal: people who get everything they want are dead people. It isn’t the destination so much as the journey. It’s the friction between what you want to pursue and what you are able to achieve that makes your life interesting. Don’t skip to the end of the book just to read the last page. Throw yourself into every single day, make every stage of your goal a lifetime in itself.
It’s been said before, but here it is again: your obsession is critical. Still haven’t clicked on it yet? Memory not so good? Go back and refresh yourself on what your obsession is and why it’s so critical.
Your passions mean a lot to you. They are stronger than reason and intellect. They are stronger than willpower and drugs. They come bubbling up from deep inside you no matter what you do.
When your passions erupt, you lose some control. Those are the times when you are at your most human, the most true to yourself. Your social filters drop away and you are pure existence. They may conflict with your goal, or even your obsession. They may arise at the worst time, and put you in terrible danger. But to deny them is to deny yourself.
Strong people find ways to channel their passions. Maybe you’re in a tense negotiation, with everything riding on the line. Something triggers your rage passion and you lose your temper. Use that anger. Instead of just lashing out at the source, reframe why you’re angry in the context of the negotiation. Turn your fury to your advantage. If you can.
You may find yourself in situations where your passions threaten to defeat you. Don’t suppress them. Embrace them, channel them, use them, be them.
Opening Your Mind
Going mad is the worst thing that can happen to you short of death. It is a terrible, shattering experience, not a cliché-ridden Oscar-grabbing thrill ride of hammy acting. Don’t approach it as an opportunity to get wacky. Respect it for what it is: the ultimate betrayal of your own mind.
Going mad leaves you naked. It robs you of choices. It means your mind has been stressed so hard for so long that in the moment of panic, only primal animal reactions remain. Fight with tooth and nail. Flee headlong, abandoning everything and everybody. Or freeze, shut down, turtle up in hopes the threat somehow overlooks you.
Once the moment passes, the more insidious side of insanity can emerge. A mental illness does not change or replace your essential character. Instead, it often brings that character to the fore in distorted and disproportionate ways. If you were always cautious, you become recklessly violent — but only if the caution was just a mask for a powerfully repressed impetuousness. If you genuinely were cautious, permenent madness is more likely to come to you as an irrational caution, a disproportionate caution, a caution that makes no logical sense — but which has a meaning to you that transcends logic.
Insanity is the failure of your rational side. It is the death of options. It is when you cannot choose between reasonable paths because you can no longer judge them.
Madness is what you see when you’ve got nothing left to fall back on.
Closing Your Mind
Getting callous towards threats is a dead-end street. Where’s the challenge in being a null? What’s the excitement in deadening your head? It also cuts off options. Your emotional inputs are clogged. True, you don’t get scared when something nasty happens. But you also couldn’t care less when something good happens. You’re so emotionally insulated you can’t feel a damn thing.
You only have so much “fuel” for your feelings. When you get callous, your emotional gas tank is empty. You’re running on fumes. Nothing is worth doing because you know there is no payoff. No pleasure, no sensation of success, no satisfaction in camaraderie. It all loses meaning.
It may be that you dig this for a while. If you approach it as an opportunity to give you and your group interesting problems, maybe there’s some value there. But you can’t maintain it for long. The bonds that hold you to the group don’t last when you’re a walking corpse. Make some trouble, explore this terrain, and then fight your way back to life.
You can’t do this alone. You need allies. Not just the people in your group, but other groups too. There’s two ways to make the decision of who to approach: common interest and common sense.
Common interest allies are like-minded people who fight alongside you because you’re all after the same thing. Chances are good you can trust them, as long as you can share whatever it is you’re after.
Common sense allies are those you hook up with to get what you need. President Lyndon Johnson kicked ass when it came to using common sense allies. Top law dog J. Edgar Hoover had been a major thorn in the sides of JFK and RFK, but Johnson slapped him hard and kept him in line without making him an outright enemy. He even said this of Hoover: “I’d rather have him inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in.” The man knew how to use people. You may end up fighting next to whacked-out psychopaths, but they’re pretty good in a fight, so what the hell?
You’ll find that a lot of people in the occult underground are stone paranoid freaks. But that doesn’t mean they can’t cut deals — it just means you have to play to their fears and delusions.
Then there’s betrayal. You realize your allies are costing you more than they’re giving in return, and you know it’s time for the kiss-off. But divorces in the occult underground can be messy. There’s the weasel play, the equivalent of having an affair just to get caught. Convince them you aren’t worth their time anymore and they drop you like yesterday’s boyfriend. Just don’t pull this at a point where you are worth something to their enemies, or they might Judas your ass on the street for dimes.
You could screw them over. The trick to betraying an ally is the betrayal has got to be complete. The last thing you want is to see your old penpals out for revenge, with a special delivery just for you. No, if you’re going to turn on somebody you need to do a holistic hosing. Leave nothing standing and keep your hands as clean as possible. Just remember that bastards have friends, and even a total hosejob probably leaves some weeping kid brother, third cousin, or secret acolyte standing in the rain, screaming your name, and swearing a blood oath to nail you to the wall. Oops.
Stuff to remember: Without allies, you’re doomed. You’ll make new enemies no matter who you ally with. Your allies are thinking the same things about you that you’re thinking about them. Someone who betrayed others for you is likely to betray you for others. And snitches get stitches.