I have a lot of personal projects going at all times. These are usually very complex, technical hobbies. My projects can last months or even years, depending on the state of my focus or creativity.
Without revealing too too much, I am just writing here to celebrate, to commemorate, a great personal triumph in the field of chemistry. I have performed a procedure that has resulted in a great Mystery. A precious, beautiful substance of great price. This week, I feel like the alchemist who has finally transmuted his base substance into gold. I have extracted, dissolved and purified and bottled a Wonder.
I’ve been studying chemistry for a number of years now and (second to astronomy) it is the most mind-expanding practice I have discovered. It makes me feel like a god, but it’s more like an intelligent ape playing with the building blocks of the Universe.
From start to finish, it is a practice of mindfulness and forethought. Every step taken is deliberate and intentional. It is as much an art as a science. Watching reactants interact with each other, transferring energy, moving towards equilibrium, changing state, color and temperature, all at my own direction.
So, after years of toil both in the classroom and the lab, it is such a high feeling of reward to see something of my own crystalize before my eyes.
“How long have you been coming here?” “Probably since about 2004” “Oh wow. That’s the year I was born!”
This was part of the conversation I had with a baby goth on her 18th birthday recently while waiting in line outside the local goth club. As we stood there chatting and I came to the chilling realization that I have been frequenting this establishment for the entirety of this young woman’s life, a feeling of local pride and inspiration came to me. The rest of the night I had a much deeper appreciation for the long history of my favorite place–and where I have always considered to be my spiritual home–the world renowned nightclub, The Castle.
Hidden away on the back streets of the Ybor City district of Tampa, Florida, looms the building whose crenelated façade, stained glass windows and square tower harken back to the Cuban and Spanish influences which marked the beginnings of the sprawling city which has been built around it. Throughout its lengthy history, The Castle has served as a nexus of both a political and social community. Over the past near-century, The Castle has been transformed into a vinculum of art, movement and personal expression. It is easy to see that this belovèd building has held meaning for many disparate groups over generations of time.
A Capitalist Town With Communist Roots Prior to 1885, most of the area around Tampa Bay was sparsely populated by the Floridian pioneer families who had begun their southward expansion, starting from the end of the Civil War. It was at this time that the Spanish industrialist Vincente Martinez-Ybor founded the corporate town of Ybor City, which established a unique, multi-ethnic community populated almost completely by immigrants. Here arose the cigar rolling factories which would be producing 500 million hand rolled cigars each year by the early 20th century.
In 1930, the structure located at 2004 N 16th street was built by the Order of the Golden Eagle, and began its first life as the Ybor Labor Temple, while the building itself was formally called the Castle of Christopher Columbus (Castillo Cristobal Colon). At this time, labor guilds and unions were separated by race. In a multiracial town like Ybor, this resulted in the construction of many different guild halls, of which only a handful remain. The Ybor Labor Temple would then serve as the communist labor union for white Cuban immigrants. The very next year, the YLT would become the center of a clash between police and cigar workers whose right to assemble was being suppressed. Once the first arrest was made, the crowd of several hundred workers rioted against the authorities, resulting in an even harsher response from the governor on the “threat” of Communism.
Cigar City In Decline Once a proud and booming center of industry owing to its many cigar rolling factories, the cigar business had already been in decline by the later 1950’s. Then, in 1962 everything came to a sudden halt when diplomatic tensions between the United States and Castro’s Cuba resulted in the trade embargo which has remained in place to this day. As the cigar factories closed, the communities who built the city of Ybor dispersed for other opportunities while few remained. By the 1990s, Ybor had fallen into neglect. The main strip of 7th Avenue was not yet considered a “destination” spot. Before then, the only bar nearby was the Spanish Park Tavern, Las Novedades (also later a nightclub called Czar), which held a record for most consecutive years with a murder. It was in this transitional period that the new foundations of The Castle were to be laid down.
Darkness On The Horizon After the massive swelling of the Goth subculture in the 1980’s, its evolution into the future, though fragmentary, was still shepherded by the musical artists who embraced and expanded on those intersectional themes of the macabre, the romantic, and the melancholic into the 90’s. It was in this new decade that the post-punk movement would mature into forms of universal influence. As gothic subcultures began to further develop in the United States, the time was exactly right for the arrival of the next incarnation of the old Labor Temple.
In 1992 the aging building was sold. At the time of the city’s annual Latin-flavored Halloween celebration (Guavaween), “The Castle” opened its doors to the world. The ground floor saloon, which had always served as a bar since the very beginning, first opened as an intimate watering-hole with strong drinks and only a jukebox for entertainment. At the time of purchase, the large upstairs space, once rented out to Union members for parties, could be found covered in old wood paneling and the ceiling full of bullet holes. Over the years the nightclub has had many renovations, most famously its saloon bar which boasts a cobblestoned top and a moat with running water coursing around patrons’ drinks. “Every castle has to have a moat”, said John Landsman, one of the longest staff members.
After trying many themes for its events: attention was brought to a group of wayward goths who met on weekends across Tampa Bay in St Petersburg. These folks would get together on a weekly basis, dressed to the nines and needed somewhere better than the old Bennigan’s to hang out at. So began Goth Night at The Castle, every Friday. Since then not only has The Castle outlasted most of the other night spots in Ybor which were present when it first opened, but it has become world famous for its nightlife and the eccentric crowd it caters to. It has been recognized internationally as the premier dance club for alternative electronic music: EBM, dark electro, synth pop, goth, power noise and many others.
With such a title to bear, The Castle has inserted itself into the wider culture in several ways: as the inspiration for the 90’s SNL skit “Goth Talk”, the setting of a very ridiculous B-movie , and the home of the long-running internet radio show Communion After Dark (available on streaming platforms). It is the regular host of many major nightclub parties and events such as The Vampire Ball, The Taboo Masquerade and The Hallucination Before Christmas. It has been featured in countless travel shows at home and internationally.
If These Walls Could Talk The true history of any place like this is less about the brick and mortar, but the people who have come through the doors over the years (and decades). Some of these eccentric faces have haunted The Castle so frequently that they become part of the characterization of the place itself. There’s “Peter Pan”, the pixie-dressed fellow who is never seen out of a leotard. “Phi-Phi”, the seven foot tall bob-haired harlequin doll (so sweet, a dear friend) who I have never EVER known to be absent from a dance night. “Lilith”, the devil-horned temptress who is often to be found being flogged against a St Andrew’s Cross (much to the delight, confusion and damnation of the menfolk). “Leonardo”, the handsome Satanic wizard, usually seen swaying to the heavy beats in a druggèd trance, casting who-knows-what spell over the crowd (Hey he sounds familiar!) Celebrities and important figures are also known to visit including Cedric the Entertainer and even Peter H. Gilmore, High Priest of the Church of Satan (I said this place attracts all types!). Yet no face was as well known as the One whose status rose to that of legend: The Senator.
The Senator (Michael Ricardi) reached Legend Status because of his unique appearance. After years of hearing about this man, I finally first spotted him by complete chance. As I turned around, there his fully erect penis was, staring me right in the face, followed by the rest of him. He was usually seen wearing lace negligees and other delicate boudoir elements, or sometimes he’d just be totally naked. Then, that first night, like a magic act, I turned around and he had disappeared without a trace. Sadly it seems The Senator has departed, though many younger lads have stepped forward and pulled their cocks out for the crowd, ready to claim the throne for themselves.
“It’s pretty much about life, even though it looks like it’s about death. You should be able to look the way you want to look and live your life the way you want to live it. As long as you’re harming nobody else, you should be able to be the person you’re meant to be.” – Angel Crane (from a news interview in the 90’s). While its outward beauty has blessed the city for nearly 100 years, the true blessing of this place today is what a haven it has become for people like me. When the sun goes down, the night brings to The Castle a world of endless possibilities. Here, everyone is free to be themselves (and whatever form of themselves that may express). Here, everyone can become a beautiful creature of the night, no matter who they are in the day.
Ghost announced their new tour with Volbeat and Twin Temple. I cannot put into words the Satanic ecstasy that a Ghost concert provides. Such moving music–it pales in comparison to the sound of the albums. I have been to a Ghost ritual before and I consider it one of the high points of my entire life. Twin Temple will also be present! I am so so so so excited.
Did my friends and I just get very good seats? Yes.
Do we live on the complete opposite corner of the country where this is happening? Yes
Does this mean things can return to normal baseline reality? I sure fucking hope so.
A portrait to reflect these ever unprecedented times. Taken in the brief period of summer when I was going out again. I at least got to do a Sunset Music Festival, Disney World, Busch Gardens, family reunions, breweries, sauna, Black Mass, “bus, club, ‘nother club, ‘nother club, plane, next place. No sleep. No fear.”
But now after doing many adult things including buying a new house and moving my magical HQ, summer break is over and it’s back to the books. More chemistry, more biology, more seclusion.
Having recently become vaccinated against Covid-19, and yesterday partaking in an especially potent and intoxicating visionary potion: the light is beginning to return to my eyes, the fog is lifting from my mind, and the hope of a life in the world of tomorrow looms above the horizon once more. Now beginning my plans to re-enter society one step at a time, I am inspired to take a moment to reflect back on my notable experiences of life during the pandemic.
While constraints were sometimes dire for me, and being also a man who believes the words of scientists, I have been faithfully observing safe social practices this entire time to the best of my ability. As my immunity against Covid continues to increase over time, I feel a new power in me and a sense of cautious invincibility rising.
While this past year has been a time of deep, long solitudes, I have not been alone. I have been spending the days in my diminished sphere while keeping good company. Long have been the hours spent dreaming, philosophizing and sharing ideas with a brilliant mathematician and programmer, biologists, artists and performers, entrepreneurs, witches, Satanists, and other accomplished folk. I even got married!
Some of us have begun combining our skills to perform new experiments, artforms, and creative projects. We have spent time exploring vistas of the mind, penetrating our consciousness, and comparing experiences to better understand ourselves.
When it finally began to look like the pandemic was not going to be a short thing, I wanted to make sure that this time was well spent in perfecting myself, pursuing my interests, and honing in on my skills.
Over a period of eight months, I poured much of my creative energy into a piece of art which will soon be unveiled. It was a constant practice in self discipline, dedicating long hours to toil and care to make sure that I was producing the very best of my current ability. As a result, I have much to show the world in the coming weeks, the fruits of these labors.
I dedicated other time to pouring over books I was waiting to buy or read. You can see in posts below this about my recent astrophotography work as well. All of these things I did while working my full time job (now at home), and busting my ass off to keep straight A’s in my pharmacy school work.
Three hundred and sixty-five days is a long time to isolate oneself. To withhold from loved ones who don’t understand why we have to stay apart, and to even loosen ties with some of them who deny the dangers out there despite the evidence, has been a long hard year of absence that can never be recovered.
Yet oftentimes for me, even more space was needed. The stress of the American election cycle, the hatred I withstood while living surrounded by idiotic Trumpers, the mounting danger of disease and the rising death tolls, all in a state where the dumbfuck governor was letting things run loose and lawless against it all, was wreaking havoc on my mental health. Many, many times, I went into the woods for days at a time. Some of the longest periods were planned retreats, where we would all disappear into the wilderness and go off grid to disconnect from the bullshit.
Walking in the dark woods, miles away from any other human, with only the moon to light the way. Working in silence to gather ancient light from distant unreachable stars above me. Or even screaming spells and curses at the planet Mars or pouring out all our pain into the Earth with beating hands and bitter tears flowing.
Other times completely and utterly alone with nothing but the stillness of nature, and my own mind. This past year, those woods have become my refuge, sanctuary and a place of inner peace. My practice of meditation is regular again, and my mind and I are becoming reacquainted with each other.
As mentioned above, this was a time of cultivating knowledge, deepening understanding, and exploring the mind. One of the major themes of this website is about my magical practice. You can see that some of my biggest work was directed at hexing the political sphere, to put an end to the corrupt, and to seek out justice.
I am proud to say that as part of the Bind Trump movement, I participated in each group ritual every single lunation, and then some. But once the election was decided and the final binding took place, I lost my direction! I had absolutely no magical practice and no idea what to do with myself. Even when the time felt right to start up again, each divination plainly said “Wait….rest….recover…”
Now my energies are more directed, and they are directed back at myself where they belong. I am back on track applying what magic I know to project my very large Will into the universe to manifest my desires. I have a year of new mental, spiritual, academic, and skillful discipline under my belt. I am ready to soar again!
I am currently abiding the seventh Satanic Rule of the Earth: “Acknowledge the power of magic if you have employed it successfully to obtain your desires. If you deny the power of magic after having called upon it with success, you will lose all you have obtained.”
I am glad to say that most times, my magic works for me! Hope you enjoy what is to come in the future days of Book of Faustus.
The most sacred and important holiday of the year is upon me. My birthday! This year’s festivities were scaled down due to the pandemic but they were no less decadent than in the past. My small chosen-pandemic social group got together to assist a Black Mass to celebrate my LIFE (and what a life it’s been so far).
This year’s altar was in stark contrast with the severe torch-lit ceremonies of the past. To celebrate indulgence and all the pleasures of the world, we built an altar toFaustus, the god who is ME–covered in gold, jewels, and all sorts of glittering trinkets which glowed in purple light. My favorite music filled the air as I offered (myself) choice incenses and an oil of frankincense, cinnamon and violet. Our holy communion was a delicious goat cheese with raw honey, and the “Elixir of Life”, Veuve Clicquot with a hearty splash of Chartreuse.
The Faustus candle was lit and bedecked with all the treasures of the altar, where its flame will continue to burn for many days, fortifying ME in my renewed hunger for LIFE.
Readers of this Book, and visitors to my Instagram, will already be highly familiar with my deeply seated hatred for Donald Trump and his cohort of evil. I have been an active member of the #MAGICRESISTANCE and Bind Trump movement since the very beginning. Unfortunately over the years, I have found the common spells used in the movement to be weak and pusillanimous. I do believe that the Trump Binding ritual has been effective in containing a great amount of what human evil this man is capable of unleashing on the world (things could be MUCH worse).
Still, the time for binding is over for me. I, and a large number of witches I know out there, have moved on to cursing. The stakes are too high in this election/pandemic/uprising/disaster fueled year to take any chances. Not only are we cursing the president himself, but his enablers, the GOP, and even his local supporters in my own town. If you fly a Trump logo near my house, I will be happy to include you in these workings. (Coincidentally, as soon as we started cursing some of the neighbors, the Trump flags started to disappear).
Some in my coven are working a series of rituals both simple and complex, almost every night for the foreseeable future, including the Operation of the Grand Bewitchment being held on Tuesday, June 15th. Below is a description of one such ritual we developed, which after a month of introspection, has shown itself to be effective not only against Trump’s reputation, well-being and safety, but has been a much needed catharsis for us internally.
Saturday, May 16th 2020, ☽︎ in ♓︎, Day & Hour of ♄
On this night of a waning moon, and in the day and hour of Saturn (which governs death, destruction, illness, and other dark influences), the Priestess and I gathered to conduct a five part ritual of destruction against Donald Trump, the GOP and other far right evildoers. The altar having been prepared, the torches lit, and the concelebrants in full regalia, we intoxicated ourselves with liquors, cannabis and visionary herbs.
I. Opening the Hellish Vortex
The LBRP was omitted for this circle casting, as we welcomed all malice, wickedness and evil spirits to be present at our baneful altar. In its place, the Banishing Ritual of the Hexagram was used to remove even any positive influences present. Infernal powers were invoked with the solemn ringing of a bell, and calling out the names of the princes of Hell: Leviathan to the West, Belial to the North, Lucifer to the East, and Satan to the South. Then using the formulae of the Opening by Watchtower, the elemental powers at each quarter were called upon, and their influences equilibrated at the center of the altar. Next, as Saturn began to rise above the horizon, we performed the act of Drawing Down Saturn. As the gong sounded beyond the Sphere of Art, the space was enveloped in a dark flame which burned with wrath and fury. The elemental, diabolical and planetary energies now filling the chamber, we circumambulated the altar to form a vortex of these powers.
II. Binding the Enemy
We then performed the binding traditionally used by the Bind Trump movement, only now including the printed images of all our GOP worst-favorites as well. This time, however we had a secret weapon! You see, after Congress authorized a stimulus payment to the priestess and I due to the pandemic, by law the IRS was required to send notification to each recipient by mail. In this case, Trump decided that it was necessary to make the IRS send a letter in his name, and with his own signature at the bottom. By the Law of Contagion, this granted us immediate magical access to the person of Donald Trump, granting us a new avenue of magical influence over him we did not have before. The first Trump letter was consumed for this binding. To prepare the next step, a special Saturnal incense was prepared (henbane, sulfur, chicory, pepper, myrrh and dried blood) and the space was fumigated thereby.
III. The Curse Jar
Continuing to circle the altar, we entered the next phase by reciting the mantra, “Bring forth the flames of Hell!”. As we marched around, reciting this mantra with great passion and hatred in our hearts, we visualized the writing and scorching black flames of hellfire rising in this space, as the drum and the gong continued. A cauldron had been set in the center of the altar for burning our photos of the victims. Each of us took turns with these images, pouring our hate out onto them, piercing them with nails, and imbuing them with enmity, then casting them to the fire in the iron pot. Whenever we held an image that inspired additional outrage, we were free to throw burning phosphorous into the cauldron as well. Bring forth the flames of Hell! Seeing the faces of Trump, McConnel, Pence, DeVos, DeSantis, Scott, Rubio, and others–GOP lobbyists, EPA violators, alt-right murderers, criminals, killers, liars and cheats–burning up in our hands, brought us great delight at the thought of their downfall. Bring forth the flames of Hell! We continued this movement, until the heat, the sweat, the panting, the rage, the tears and the fury were built to a horrible crescendo–FRENZY!! Bring forth the flames of Hell! We took our coven’s sacred sword aloft, and pierced it through the air towards the burning cauldron, thrusting all our rancor, wrath and despair into the smoke and ash of their smoldering, writhing faces. Bring forth the flames of Hell! The images having been consummated by flames, we removed the ashes from the cauldron and added them to the Curse Jar. Inside the jar were the artifacts from the binding (above), the second Trump letter, the Saturnine incense, dirt from the yards of all the Trump supporters in my neighborhood, and my own concoction of Goofer Dust. This dust contained quantities of the following: graveyard dirt, cayenne pepper, habanero pepper, snake skin, a snake’s head, bone dust, salt, poppy seed, coal, the hair of a black dog, a spider and her eggs, and iron filings. Bring forth the flames of Hell! The Curse Jar was then topped off with an anointed death’s head candle, inscribed with the name Donald J Trump, whose wax was then let to drip through the whole jar as it melted and finally suffocated itself. We poured the rest of whatever malice we could find inside our hearts, into the jar, and sealed it with black candle wax. Bring forth the flames of Hell!
IV. Toast of Destruction
Having spent our rage to the utmost of our ability, we then poured out blood red wine infused with bitter herbs, into ornate crystal chalices. “A toast…to the end of the GOP, to the death of tyrants, and to the suffering of Trump!” I let the bitter wine flow down my throat to drown the fires of my burning anger, to soothe my body and comfort my soul.
V. Down by the Riverside (Closing)
The Curse Jar made ready, the conflagration within drowned with wine, and all our energy spent, we left the circle and marched in solemnity and silence to my town’s canal, carrying the Curse Jar (and a second curse jar made months previously) in hand. To the ritual mind, it felt like holding a ticking time bomb, a hand grenade which could explode with our condensed acrimony and blistering vengeance. With some solemn words of release, we dropped the jars into the canal, letting the water carry them away to the sea. When we returned to the circle, we dismissed the quarters, bade farewell to the Infernal powers, and purified ourselves with the LBRP and other purifications.
The ritual was then concluded, and we left to go spend time and play games with our friends across town to refresh ourselves.
Apart from becoming recently engaged, every single plan I had this year has been uprooted. I was supposed to design in another fashion show, I was supposed to travel to several wonderful places, and we were even going to plan a Halloween trip to Salem, MA this year. Alas, the world had different plans for us all. So while my travel, recreation and research is currently on hold (and while I still thankfully have my day job I can do from home), we are learning to party it up on camera with each other.
My initial hesitation to do video calls has quickly been overcome by necessity. Now I’m livestreaming every week, whether it is my live astronomy shows, group spells, or attending the fun at Club Quarantine, the isolating internet’s coolest queer hangout. Incidentally you can see us performing for the people there this coming Saturday night, around 11/12 EST.
This may be the last place you’d expect to find content like this, I’m sure. At the time of this writing, the world is currently stuck in the clutches of the awful Covid19 pandemic. Naturally my our energies are spent on more important things than writing on a niche website. But this particular bit of papal magic was not only extremely interesting, but also quite moving. More importantly, it is living history unfolding before our eyes.
Last week was the Pope’s semi-annual Urbi et Orbi declaration, where he traditionally pontificates on the state of the Church and the world, took place in an emptied St. Peter’s square. After his address, the small number of clergy present performed the rites of Eucharistic Adoration and Benediction. Here, the pope took the ostensorium in his hands, and blessed the whole city of Rome, and perhaps the whole world, with the sacred host. As he did so, the basilica and the surrounding churches began to PEEL with thunderous resounding, while the sirens of the gendarmeria blared in salute. As soon as the pope had finished, the bells stopped and silence again fell over the empty square. It was like watching something from the end of the world.
Also present was a miraculous crucifix which was reported to cure the City during a plague in 1522. The pope reverenced this relic as it was also exposed to the open square, obviously in the hopes that the pandemic will soon end. We shall see what efficacious qualities this rite may bare.
I admit that I’ve been scoffing at the Christians who have been pleading on the blood of Jesus to stop the pandemic. But so many of those crazy shitheads have been foolishly using their faith as the only means of protection, with no clear intentions of actively containing the spread.
Meanwhile, my country’s government has been pretending this was all a hoax until just the other day, and we are starting to prepare for a worst case scenario where our under developed healthcare system will fail us, and we will be left to our own devices. My state’s government has shut down bars, nightclubs, movie theaters, and many other gathering places. Meanwhile food and sanitation products are becoming difficult to obtain.
As much as I personally would love to see the collapse of society while a plague rushes over the land, I am going to do my part. While using scientifically proven best-practices, you all know what that entails by now, AND spiritual exercises of compassion, we can get through this weird fuckin’ period of history.
My coven will be conducting a spell for the containment of SARS-CoV-2 on Saturday, March 21st 2020 at 22:00, EST. If you want to join in virtually, see the livestream on my instagram, @heissowitty .