Walter was teaching what he called a “Metaphysics” class. The class was ostensibly centered on the tarot, but the topics and exercises ranged far and wide, which any decent Qabalist can tell you is how it should be. After all, everything is connected, and as Lon DuQuette said, if you focus on any one thing long enough, you can see the rest of the Universe through it (or something to that effect).
But Walter saw a potential in me, and we began meeting outside of this class. It was very Karate-Kid-esque, with me helping him clean his basement, fix cars, and mow his lawn. And he showed me how he did things in his life: shopping auctions, buying old cars and fixing them up, and most importantly, how to get people to do what you want.
Cleaning the helping around the house was a way for him to see how I operated. Auctions were a way for me to see how he operated. And the lessons were subtle: he was teaching me how to see value in things very few saw, and how to find the people who did see it (and sell to them). He showed me an art form that I had little experience with in my youth: charisma. And it is a powerful force, which can move mountains and summon armies.
Walter really is a bit of a mystic, and I suppose in a very real sense is a true wizard. His craft is the craft of the wise, and what he taught me was how to see how things fit together, where the patterns are going and how they fit together, and how to anticipate shifts in the patterns and upcoming trends. He came from the old school, that focused on states of being, and it seemed to work for him. The problem is that he had such an innate grasp of what he was trying to show me, he couldn’t readily explain a lot of it. I observed a lot, and began to watch him with all of my senses to see how he did things.
The magic was just a side effect. His experience with ceremonial magic was minimal and mostly theoretical. He didn’t do ritual work because he didn’t need to. He could work without it.
Walter’s demonstration of charisma showed how confidence and self-assurance can get you where you want to be, and how flirting and flattery really will get you everywhere. (Say what you will about pick-up artists, but they are masters of practicing the art of charisma.) Unfortunately, he also showed me some of the down sides of charisma: it can run out. He functioned in large part on the adulation of his students, and when his class stalled out, all of his other activities did as well.
But having a mentor isn’t just about having a teacher. It is about a deep personal relationship with someone who imparts a part of their magic to you, that it may awaken something withing yourself. It is about having someone you can trust, or fight with, or who you can teach back. And I’m pretty sure that I taught him almost as much as he taught me. And there were ebbs and flows over the years, as he succumbed to his depression or I rejected some of his advice on self-important moral grounds. And new classes would pop up, more focused on one area or another. And new people were met, new connections made. And in time, I was not just his student, but an assistant, a student teacher, an apprentice.
And I was brought in to his inner circle.
He really did have a group of very select people that he met with on a regular basis. I’m not even sure if Jack knew about it, for while he was also taken under Walter’s wing, he did not appear to receive the same attention I did. (I asked Walter about that once. He said that unlike Jack, I “was willing to pull the trigger.”) There were really only four people, but I was allowed to join in. And as green a noob as I was, I found my opinions in our discussions being met with respect. It was pretty damn cool.
And one night, Walter and our friend (whom I shall call Gina) were sitting with me, and they told me quite simply: “Chiro (No, they used my real name. Duh.), you have no value whatsoever to society. You are worthless.”
Yeah, that stung a bit. But they were kind of right. Fortunately, they gave me a solution. “Get educated.”
The Inner Circle fell apart, mostly because of the impact Gina’s stroke and death had on us all. Walter went into another depressive bout, a pretty bad one. He went off the radar for a bit.
I went to college. And I herded cats.