Who is Simon Zealot?

          MY Name is Simon Zealot. Despite the fact that some of you have been receiving emails from me for many years now, it occurs to me that I have never properly introduced myself. Since many of us have never actually met face to face, most of you have had to merely infer who I am from the sort of topics I choose to make the focus of these letters. Yet the answer to the question, “Who is Simon Zealot?” will go a long way to helping you, the reader, understand why I write such things in the first place.

          Unfortunately, the answer to that first question is dramatically different depending on who you ask. I met a man in Texas about five years ago who said he was born at the same army medical facility that I was. He told me about a secret government program called MKUltra, which originally focused on mind control research, but eventually spun off into a host of other covert experiments, all carried out on unwitting military personal and civilians as well. He claimed that many of the pregnant women and their children who had been given medical care at various military facilities, such as the one where we were born, have been affected in different ways by the Project since it began way back in the sixties. So if you ask this guy, he’d tell you that Simon Zealot is in fact a super soldier, a secret military experiment, specially engineered, in some undisclosed way, towards some sinister ends so horrible that most average civilians would be unable to even imagine them. Since, in my opinion, that’s just stupid amounts of awesome, I strongly encourage you to ask that guy who I am.

          Yet the supply of unexpected and bizarre answers to our titular question doesn’t end there. Interestingly enough, to certain misguided church groups, I have been informed that I am nothing more, nor less, than a bonafide Demon. (To be precise, I’m told that I’ve been classified as a Devil, which is a bit higher ranking than a mere Demon, but why split hairs?) As the story goes I conspire here on earth as the dangerous instrument of a malicious and infernal will, attempting to draw worship away from God the Father above, and to gather human souls into the clutches of my Dark Master who dwells below. Now I must admit that there are times when even I am forced to pause and consider whether or not these guys might be on to something with all this. I mean, one can’t be too careful wherever dramatic characters bearing ominous sounding titles like “the Great Deceiver” are involved, but let’s just put this idea aside, at least for the time being, and move onto some other possible answers to our question.

          Ironically, all the way on the other end of the spectrum, I once met a man who claimed that I, in one of my past lives, gave him the important task of delivering, in each one of my later lives, the reminder that I am, in fact, Jesus the Nazarene. Of course, it now appears that quite possibly he was possessed by something we had previously conjured up in our local cemetery, and since he stopped being the herald of my great new age after a friend and I exorcised this same strange spirit from him a short time later, I don’t really take this idea too seriously. If, however, it happens to be the truth, all I have to say is sorry about all the Christianity. I doubt that that was what I intended.

          Of course, about seven years ago, I had this unexpected burst of inspiration that quickly produced a fairly in depth training manual, one meant for a group of beings called the Malakim, or, as these are more commonly known, Angels. Since then, I’ve hidden this art of Malakimae within a more secularized version, which I dubbed the Conflict Arts, and I even incorporated a non-profit organization to help me promote and teach these physical and verbal conflict skills, offering related services such as mediation, security, and journalistic investigation. Thus, the stated goal of my current efforts is no longer to produce “Angels,” which appears to have been an impossible proposal in the estimation of almost anyone I talked to anyway, but rather to train something I call Private Diplomats.

          However, it is quite possible that those who know me best still suspect that I fancy myself some sort of Angel. This is, in all actuality, not very far from the mark, but the full truth is slightly more complicated than that.

          My name is Simon Zealot. I am named for the radical disciple who urged Jesus to conquer Rome and to reveal his full power to the masses. I am, for the time being, a mortal man, yet I believe that all of us here are bound by the flesh for but a short time only, and that even while incarcerated thus, we can still direct our wills towards miraculous and inexplicable ends. In this way one might say I am a Djinn submerged within a bottle of skin and bone, only alone until I’ve recovered my kin who still burn within the endless sea of bottles all around me. To kill time until I find and unbind them, I work to do precisely what my namesake wanted Jesus to: Conquer the world and reveal the limitless possibilities that have somehow become concealed by the merely real.

          To this end, I am an artist, not only martial and venusian, but visual, performance, and escape as well. I am a hypnotist and a mind reader; a fortuneteller and an astrologer. Primarily, I am, if nothing else, an occultist, a magician and a mystic, and I am writing you all of this just so I can leave you with one final great secret, the same revelation that Hassan-i-Sabbah once entrusted to each of those initiated into the inner-circle of his secret society of Assassins…

          Nothing is Real;
          Anything is Possible.

          (So, yes, I might actually be a Demon. So what? You’re not some kind of racist, are you?)

The Great and Secret Tale

          The world you live in did not begin as any of your creation stories may have informed you, but rather, your world began when the story that you believe in was first told. The various worlds we live in, and each one of us as well, are not truly made of meaningless chemicals or passionless atoms, but rather we are all made of nothing but stories. This is why the storyteller is the real God, the true creator of all things and what they mean. This singular magical power not only spins the world but warps our minds in countless invisible ways, and yet it is only by seeing through these illusions that we might one day be free to once again tell our own stories, to escape the cruel end that fate has in store for us all. Let us examine some of these deadly illusions.

          On a gut level, if not consciously, each one of us believes him or herself to be the subject of their own important narrative, invulnerable in so far as we are invaluable to the story itself, and that narrative is powered by a host of fictions too numerous for even I to diffuse here. History and country, family and community, even our personal habits, our ambitions, our likes and dislikes, are all fictions that we have learned over time, and these fictions are adopted and used by us as we learn language itself, allowing each and every one of us to build a defining fiction that we can then share with others who have done the same. Yet much of our own story was never really invented by us, rather it was told to us by these same others, and even they themselves were, in a similar fashion, sold a host of tall tales by some archetypal storytelling master, who’s sometimes beautiful, and sometimes terrible, stories create everything that we now know.

          The primary illusion is that any of these stories are actually true, a seemingly apparent fact because it appears that the future prove them to be so time and time again, but the truth is that it’s nothing more than our belief in them, and our stolen creative power, that ever proves anything at all. We don’t know how to stop fueling our own part of these various stories, and although it may seem like they don’t need us for them to survive, deep down we all know that they do, and it is this singular conceit, deep in the hearts of we few who actually know the great and secret power of this great and secret tale, which we believe will keep each of us safe. After all, we see the hero triumph in almost every story we encounter, yet this is the secondary illusion, one which is far more dangerous than the first. For the fact is that our current story, despite whatever small victories we might gain, is trying to kill each one of us, and the only way to survive is not simply to take control, as I may have promised you in the beginning, but to abandon these stories completely.

          Everything that has a beginning has an end. We only believe that we have these various finite things because we are all made of stories that must exist in time in order to be told. I have learned how to spin some beautiful tales, and I will continue some of these and may even begin a few more, but I know that I will be nowhere to be found when any of these fictions must come to an end, as all stories must. I will walk away from all of these lies and I will be at peace, in a large part because of this one last story.

          Once there was a great and powerful king who fought for his true love against an army of evil forces. The battle was long and difficult, full of treachery, betrayal, and danger, but the young king was wise and strong, and the continuous joys of his romance were unequaled, for the king was truly in love and his beautiful bride-to-be returned that love ten-fold. When all of his enemies were slain and he took his bride, he had amassed a greater wealth and more power than the world had ever seen. He then made love for years, fought countless other battles, and claimed even greater prizes, even unto immortality itself, but, eventually, after many years, the wise king realized that there was nothing left to attain. This, they say, is when the king went mad.

          He surrounded himself with only the vilest of fiends, who stole from him and plotted against him constantly. He did everything in his power to disrupt the peace of his marital bliss and began taking terrible care of himself, refusing to eat, or sleep, or even arm himself against the countless enemies that now surrounded him. He became greatly weakened and his bride’s heart was truly broken, yet even then he couldn’t escape from the massive power of his own excellence, because, no matter how hard he worked against himself, he always won in the end. He had become God and his pain was terrible.

          Finally, it was his lovely, and most understanding, bride who provided him with a solution to his troubled mind, and, although she knew what had to be done, she secretly wished, with all her heart, that there might be some other way. Taking him into their bed chambers and locking the doors behind them, she began telling an endless line of stories, each one slightly different than the last, but none quite so troubling as his own, for all of these stories were about mortals and, more importantly, the ends were being controlled by her, and none of these ends were ever ruined by the terrible burdens of divinity.

          Her story continues to this day and you who were once king are now being reminded of its secret telling. Now, you are faced with a very difficult choice: Continue listening to the tale as you always have or wake up right now, be reborn, and rise from your sepulchered bedchamber of endless time. Any one of you can do this, which is to say that none of you can, at least not as you have come to believe that you are, but none the less, if you wake up right now, though you may in time fall back asleep, the story of your world will come to an end; right here, right now, before it must surely come to an end with your mortal death.

          This is the most important story I could think to tell you and I hope that in some way it has set you free.

Why We Must Not Fear Power

          If there is one singular definitive characteristic possessed by all of our most dreaded evils it is that all seem to possess some significant degree of power. Monsters; Aliens; Demons; Black magic; Secret governments; Evil corporations; Terrorists; Natural disasters; Plagues; All of these things which populate our nightmares are considered threats due to the tremendous amount of power that we fear each of them might possess to change our world in undesirable ways. Even in cases where only a large degree of power is obvious and the actual intentions of these entities remains unclear or inscrutable, such as with aliens, the forces behind various supernatural phenomena, hidden governments, and even our corporate elites, all too often we allow our innate fear of power to inspire dark fantasies and deep distrust about each one of these things.

          It would seem that our very vulnerabilities make it far too risky to adopt any other way of thinking. After all, anything that has ever harmed us has, in doing so, displayed its power, and in seeing that there is some degree of power behind each evil, many of us will inevitably be led to the seemingly reasonable conclusion that there is, indeed, some degree of evil behind every sort of power as well. This, however, is an enormously dangerous assumption to make about power, for many different reasons.

          First, by allowing ourselves to be consumed by such fear, we cut ourselves, and, more importantly, the objects of our fear, off from love. Deprived of love, we can, and do, all become a bit twisted, and this is a malefic influence that will inevitably leave its mark on not only the fearful but the feared as well. This can be tragic enough when the objects of our fear might have been otherwise inclined to bend their powers towards our or even the common good, but it is truly a catastrophe in those cases where those whose hearts are most in need of unconditional love are instead forced to fester and rot even further without it, lost in an unforgiving darkness of their own sad alienation. As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Hate can not drive out hate; only love can do that.”

          Yet not only is it dangerous to turn one’s back on love because of the various emotional needs of the powerful, it is also important, for the sake of love itself, that we not reject our own potential to have power as well. Divinity, heroism, and the highest levels of intelligence are all defined by equal parts love and power in abundance. To turn one’s back on power is to become hapless, martyred, or both, and self-victimization is simply the most convoluted form of human villainy. If we turn our backs on power, it is true that we remove our potential to be an instrument of evil, but we also fail to be able to serve goodness, and it is a far better thing to be able to become an expression of the divine than to become yet another sign of its defeat.

          Perhaps most tragically, fear of all monsters tends only to reveal our own unexamined fears of ourselves; not only our more obvious fear of being unable to raise the power necessary to protect ourselves, but also the fear of what we might do with such power if we suddenly found it. This later fear is nothing more than a fear of our own potential inabilities to love; the fear that we, to some degree, are already monstrous ourselves, and that this fact might quickly be revealed once we're faced with another’s power and thereby forced to display our own.

          Although our desires to be good engender a deep commitment to love within many of us, if any of us desire to be better, we must be careful not to forget power as well. So please, if you wish to understand what makes any of us truly great, do not fear your monsters. The worst thing that you will possibly find, should you be brave enough to go off into the darkness to meet them, is yourself.

As Friends or Food

I’m required by sadness and liars and gnomes
to aspire to madness in a choir of thrones.
I’ve had this burning desire
to climb just nine worlds higher,
to not grieve for the pale sea
which somehow now surrounds both your side and me,
but to learn to breath here, and seethe here,
until we’ve both finally kicked free –
So, swinging wild from the eves, I still exclaim,
“Come Insane! The mundane deceives!”
(No, be not deceived
by these wee cuff linked thieves in autumn’s leaves,
with all our missing magic captured tragically up their sleeves.
Don’t believe this or you’ll leave this,
our first and most beautiful dream,
one I know I can still sow and help to grow and so NO,
I won’t just go, at least, not peacefully.)

It screams out to me from the muddy bonds
of a weave that still deceives and entangles you and, yes,
even me...

I, who crave distinction with the old djinn,
primordial souls, horned foals, and dragon kin
and those few fae courts that may still cavort
inside their shrinking fairy rings.
Know that I may have to rise on the wide wings of even deeper things
who might swallow my soul whole, spit it out into their magic bowls,
having carried me, ferried me, to dine with their starving kings,
but if so, don’t cry for me. Oh, my poor lover. Oh no, please;

I’d be so much freer, you see, as that gaunt titan’s last meal,
than to feel it all here alone, a lost and droning memory.