Over the years I have been lucky enough to experience many supposedly occult and paranormal events. I have been ridden by succubi, played hide and seek with shadow people and even lost a mental duel with the spirit guarding one of the graveyards that I had hoped to raid for supplies. I have seen the ghosts of children appear and disappear before my eyes, including one notable case in which a young girl dissolved into a gooey blue creature that defies further description. I even called upon the very Norse Gods themselves and in my hubris challenged them to a duel, before blowing a hole in the clouds above me and showering everyone present with ice and snow.
I have done all this and much, much more, or so I believed, and all in the brief period since moving from a skeptical paranormal researcher to self appointed chaos mage a little over ten years ago. However, as I look back with the cold eyes of a more mature, more questioning occultist, I am almost embarrassed by what I so easily considered to be fact. My earliest magickal notes read like a third rate creepypasta, a one man journey into self inflicted paranoia wherein I stood as a lone point of light against darkness that others could not see. Had I not been lucky enough to find a lover who could stabilise my worldview I hate to think where I would have ended up.
Said overestimation is normal among new wizards of course, especially those who lack a group structure to reign in their mental excesses. Such support is one of the few points that stand in favour of the old hierarchical systems of occult teaching, though this positive is ultimately tempered by the long trail of failed adepts who are discarded to their madness once the group realises that they require too much work to become a viable pawn in the greater game. Of course, as a natural born anarchist the thought of deferring my will to another of supposedly higher rank never appealed to me anyway.
I claim a charmed life, though one far less exciting than I originally argued. Many bizarre experiences still ring true, still resonate, and as such I do not intend to deny every bloodstained step that got me where I am today. But I am also looking to acknowledge those events that seem to grate a little with my psyche, that lack evidence or just feel downright stupid in light of my current learning. I am an intelligent being capable of telling the difference between fact and fantasy, and very much aware of the possible future that awaits me should I fail to maintain some sort of balance between the seen and unseen worlds.
In reality it is highly unlikely that an inexperienced wizard could challenge Odin to a bar fight or hunt down the very shadow entities that have plagued the rest of humanity for centuries. I am all too aware of the fact that much of my prior experience may have been the result of misattribution, hysteria or delusion. In accepting that humbling fact my observations beyond this point, after the mental house-clearing that I am attempting to carry out post a particularly unsettling Halloween, hold greater weight. Sometimes it is worth taking a step back to catch a breath, and that is exactly what I have decided to do.
Some of you may well think that I am purging my history for no good reason, or discarding evidence that others would prefer to make into the cornerstone of their occult origin story, yet this is not the case at all. I still maintain a working relationship with Lilith and her children, remain a dedicated necromancer and expert in dealing with the wondering dead. I have played on tramlines with the ghosts of children at Oradour-sur-Glane and bathed in the mystical energy that spilled forth from the ground floor of Tredegar House. My existence is already weird enough that it does not need any embellishment, either by myself or anyone else.
Ultimately, my counter argument is as simple as looking long and hard into the faces of the kind of person that I would become if I did not remain true to myself. We have all met them, of course. Those damned souls active within whichever occult community we frequent who appear to have lost touch with the drumbeat of reality. That claim experiences that are just too difficult to believe, yet do not seem to notice the eyebrows raised and hushed accusations when they nip back to the bar for another beer. We are all just a heartbeat away from becoming one of those people, unfortunately, unless the time is taken to weigh up the truth and discard the lies.