> Seth Returns Back Story
Seth Returns Back Story - Episode 1
Seth Returns Back Story - Episode 2
A Tale of Experimental Drug Use, Odd Reading Habits and the Search for a much Higher Consciousness
When I was twelve I had an amazing adventure on a piece of land that was once a part of the local Hill Air Force Base
. While investigating (snooping around) an abandoned trailer there I discovered a small cache of Fate magazines
along with some other mags with pictures of UFOs
on the covers. There was also a men's magazine, I think it may have actually been called Men
- that contained an extremely titillating story on Hells Angels culture and marijuana. I became very interested in exploring marijuana
at the nearest available opportunity. Also, I had my consciousness expanded by the articles in Fate
. This is where it all began to seriously take shape.
published pieces on UFOs, ghosts, the afterlife, premonitions
and other forbidden topics. This was my introduction to magic and what we used to call "the mental powers" and "ESP"
back then. I cherished these magazines and hid them under my bed to read at night. When we moved to California in 1963 I had to give them away, along with what would eventually become some very valuable comic books and Mad magazines
Our Halloweens in Utah
were incredible. We often made our own costumes, like kids did back then. And we would go door-to-door in the neighborhood asking for candy, like kids did back then, that is, without an armed bodyguard for each kid. One year I made a huge green alien headpiece in school and went trick-or-treating as a disgusting extraterrestrial. I modeled the mask on something I saw on The Outer Limits
TV show. It was made out of paper mache and wood and wire and it weighed about 5 pounds.
I actually did feel like an alien, primarily because I could not breathe with the mask on. It was like I was on the planet Venus, where the air is mostly carbon dioxide
. The neighbors felt sorry for me wheezing underneath that hot mask and gave me lots of candy. This strategy would prove helpful later in life. (Make your own joke here.)
Then there was my uncle Bill. He was an electrical engineer at Hill Air Force base. He collected science fiction books and shortly before we moved to California he gave me several dozen of the best ones: Heinlein, Bradbury, Le Guin
etc. That began my Sci-Fi obsession. I also devoured the Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazines
and Sci-Fi anthologies as they were published. My favorite stories were those that combined humor, the macabre and the supernatural. The Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazines filled that bill regularly, specializing in the O'Henry ending. I'm a sucker for the O'Henry ending
, like they would do on The Twilight Zone
. (Talk amongst yourselves about your favorite TZ episodes.)
The best story from the SciFi collections of that era, imho? A short story by Richard Matheson
titled Dance of the Dead
, about a sort of post-apocalyptic dance contest held in a cyberpunk bar. This tale helped deform my mind. In a good way...
Though we were smack dab in the middle of Mormon territory, our family interests were decidedly non-Mormon. We had a Ouji board
and sometimes played with it when there was not anything interesting on the tube. My sister was gifted in that regard and did contact some
spirits that were trying to break through the dimensional gridwork of 50s Utah. (Seth? Aleister Crowley? Jimmy Hoffa?)
But I was a little frightened by the experience and have kept clear of the Ouiji board ever since. Ironic, in that, as some of you may know, Seth first made his appearance in the lives of Jane Roberts and Robert Butts via the Ouiji board. Just not my thing. I do enjoy Scrabble though.
The Ghost and the Roll Top Desk
is a true story we tell in our family about what occurred when we lived in a big strange house in Ogden, the last one our family occupied before we moved out of Utah and into California. The place had a few skin-crawling mysteries about it.
There was a locked room just off the kitchen in which, we as renters, and particularly we, as children, were not allowed. In my room was a huge antique roll-top desk where I did my homework, such as it was, and began my career as a writer, such as that is. After I was done using the desk I would delight in rolling down the top to keep everything safe (from my sister.) Imagine our family horror, then, to be lounging around on the living room rug, watching television one night and hearing the closed roll top slowly roll itself up
. No one was in my room at the time, we were all watching TV. Spooky
The kicker? We found out after we had moved to California that the locked room held the belongings of the owner's daughter who had committed suicide. My father said he sensed the ghost, too. Apparently, Dad's ghost aversion was instrumental in his deciding to take the family far away from the house. California was far away...
"But generally speaking, Mark, what was life like in the San Francisco Bay Area in the 60s?" Here are the references: Winterland - The Fillmore - Avalon Ballroom - Altamont Rock Festival - Mescaline - LSD - Acapulco Gold - Diet Pills - Boone's Farm Apple Wine. Basically I exchanged the Egyptian and Paramount movie theaters for Winterland, the Filmore and the Avalon Ballroom. And instead of jumping off cliffs, spinning and imagining in the clouds, to change my consciousness, I used the powerful "access codes"
(a Tim Leary term) of liquor, psychedelics and drugs to get me there. Here are the preliminaries to the debauchery that ensued
, to act as context in this one-way conversation.
A life of moving frequently from house-to-house in Ogden turned me into a boy with security issues by the time we got to Vallejo, California. I was somewhat outgoing in Utah, gregarious and active, but when we moved to CA I became shy and introverted. I avoided classes at the new Junior High I was attending and instead spent that time in the library studying Russian. (It seemed to be an important thing to do, considering what was going on in the world.) It took the administration a while to discover that I was not going to classes.
One other stressor in the mix: Utah schools were so superior to California's at the time that they wanted to put me a grade ahead. I pleaded with them to not do that. I found that the extra book learnin' gave me an advantage with kids my own age. It was a slim advantage but I needed all the help I could get. (Violins)
So gradually I did begin to attend classes and I did become socialized and found my place in the group. I was in with the In-crowd Part B. There were the Want-to-B- Gangsters, the In-crowd Part A (Student Body leaders and the pretty boys and girls) and the Nerd types who occupied the In-Crowd Part B, me and the other pranksters and misanthropes. That's where I belonged then. That's also where I wound up too, as an adult/teenager. (see neotony)
Humor is a Social Lubricant
I used humor to ingratiate myself with my peers in Junior High School. I was the new kid and I was shy, but I stood in front of everyone in English Class, and as we all waited for Mrs. Reed to come in the room, I drew stick figure cartoons on the chalk board depicting her being devoured by a giant python snake. In retrospect, I can see that it was pretty Freudian. It's true, I did have a crush on Mrs. Reed. Her husband was in the Armed Forces overseas. I gave it my best shot.
I got a lot of laughs by making fun of the teachers and this led to a place on the yearbook committee and a post on the student newspaper as a humor columnist. I called my column Frosty's Funnies
and it included very tame jokes that I would get from Boy's Life magazine (I'm not kidding.) They wouldn't let me use any of the cutting-edge jokes I was hearing on the Steve Allen Show. I was also reading about Lenny Bruce at the time, and wanted to use some "potty humor," but all of my material was censored by the staff. (See Mondo Gonzo in Episode III for later incarnations of Frosty's Funnies.)
The Satirist's Dilemma
As a natural born satirist, I listened to what people were saying around me and then deconstructed that information on the fly - automatically. I became the witty kid, the one expected to crack a joke, but because it's automatic you can't stop it. The satirist's fatal flaw: We continuously pick apart what you say and send it back at you in a funny way. It's a gift and a curse
, like almost everything else, but this time it's personal. (Cue angry police detective going rogue)
Premonitions of Tragedy?
Some of the occult weirdness of Utah followed us to California. We first lived in a tiny little duplex very near the local High School that I would attend in a few years. The other duplex in our unit was empty. We shared a common wall with that unit and sometimes it seemed to my sister and I that, even though the place was empty, we could hear a baby crying in there. This went on for quite some time. It was a major mystery for us two, but when we moved after a few months we forgot about it. Then, a few years later we were back in the neighborhood seeing friends and we heard about the tragedy
. A baby was kidnapped from that adjoining duplex some time after we had moved away. Obviously, my sister and I made that connection, but we didn't tell others about our premonition that came true until years later. Too freaky.
Looking for Magic
I've always had a good sense of the magic in things. So the first album that I ever shoplifted from the department store in Vallejo when I was a teenager was Freak Out
by Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention
. The next album was Piper at the Gates of Dawn
, the first Pink Floyd
The shoplifters among you - current and reformed - may relate. At the time, nothing could compare with the feelings of freedom and accomplishment that came with shoplifting a beloved LP from the department store. Everybody was doing it. Of course this was before the surveillance culture took hold. But it was totally worth it, even though you are quite terrified during the act. And the after-effects, when you have the object in hand, and the anxiety has subsided, you are one with the teenage universe.
Unfortunately, my life as a serial shoplifter was cut short one day, when, as I entered the department store I heard over the PA system, "Attention everyone, Mark is here." I did an immediate turnaround with my hands in my pockets and walked home. Never to shoplift again. Pretty much.
Now the question may be: Were they referring to me personally over the intercom? Probably not. It was probably Mark in Pharmacy. When I got a job at Kentucky Fried Chicken (I get it, KFC
. The more things change...) at 16, I was able to pay for my music with my own earnings. I was also able to buy materials with which I could alter my consciousness. Is there another reason for youth to work?
Neoshamanic Rites of Passage
I was about 15 when I took the advice of one of my buddies to grind-up some Morning Glory Seeds
and drink them in water to get high. I did get high, but only after I got sick and delirious. We found out later they coated the seeds with poison to prevent kids like me from getting high on the natural psychedelic found within them. That was in the early Sixties and the PTB are STILL poisoning seeds to prevent us from expanding our minds. The Powers That Be are very persistent.
Then, also on the advice of one of my buddies, I ate a teaspoon of nutmeg
to get high. I did get high, but only briefly, and only after I was sick and delirious for a few hours. If I only knew then what I think I know now! My advice: If you are going to ingest that much nutmeg, don't. Please don't.
I first smoked marijuana when I was in high school. A friend of mine bought a matchbox full (I know, a matchbox, how quaint.) and brought it over one warm summer's night and we went out into a field and smoked some of it in a pipe. That was good because it helped me to slow down my brain, which was capable of spinning out of control at times. It was a good dissociator
too. What's that, you ask?
I grew up with parents who were just growing up themselves. Dad had a big alcohol problem. My mother tried to create stability in the house but we moved so frequently that was an impossibility. So as a kid I learned how to dissociate, or enter a Trance State, while bad things were going down at home. Pot was the perfect medicine for me at the time. This practice of dissociating also came in handy later in life, when I trained to be a Clinical Hypnotherapist. I basically taught my clients how to achieve what I had already mastered: the skill of entering a Trance State of consciousness at will. (Trauma memories make you want to be anywhere BUT where you happen to be. Sort of the opposite of the Ram Das adage, Be Here Now
The first time I took a refined psychedelic substance was when I was 19 and I dropped some LSD I got from a girl at the Altamont Rock Festival. She called herself Suzie Sunshine
and she offered us free acid as we were leaving the concert. We left early in order to avoid the violence we could feel brewing in the audience. This was a few hours before the Rolling Stones famously took the stage and all hell broke loose. I took the acid a few days later by myself. That was a game-changer
. For about 10 hours I walked through the streets of Vallejo psychedelicized up to my scalp. I had a long, ripe Cat's Tail (T. latifolia) in my hand and I tapped it on things as I walked by and hundreds of seeds were liberated and floated upward. I was in my wizard consciousness, for sure, maybe a little bit too much. I was also in my hippy uniform and must have made quite an entertainment for those who drove by me. Some of them honked and waved as they drove by. Did they approve of my psychedelic consciousness that I was broadcasting to the neighborhood? Yes, It was the 60's
and so we we were all in love and vibrating to the same frequency. (long uncomfortable pause)
Let me be clear: This was not dissociation. This was a door-opener. I was able to validate many of the things I had been reading about in the metaphysical literature. Mainly, it was suggested to me by my Higher Self that my thoughts helped to create the world around me. Then I came down.
Will Mark take acid again?
Will he explore the psychedelic culture further and perhaps raise his consciousness even more? Tune in next month for another stimulating Episode of the Seth Returns Back Story