John Jeske is He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Interviewed.

By - Oct 1st, 2004 02:52 pm
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By John Jeske & the Scribe

Cleverness, thy sin is Ego!

Any writer with even the slightest tendency towards thinking their own ideas are great can fall for this one. The staff of Vital was planning the October issue, when someone threw out the idea of interviewing a Witch for Vital Lives. It didn’t catch on at first, but the seed of a thought had been planted… what if, instead of interviewing a plain old Pagan about a simple Harvest holiday, we spoke with a real Warlock who openly practices Magick? Wouldn’t that be much more interesting? For some reason, this sounded like a good idea at the time. We even instantly concurred on the perfect Warlock. One person said “Who could we talk to?” Immediately, another shot back “John Jeske.” It seemed perfect. I contacted Jeske the next day and we met at the agreed-upon time a few days later. There was only one problem. The man cannot be interviewed.

An elder statesman of Milwaukee’s poetry scene and artistic and political undergrounds, Jeske is by turns brilliant, charming, angry, wistful and vaguely disoriented. He read my cards, told me the meaning of my name and examined my palm. If lines don’t lie, I have a long life to look forward to.

We had a deeply fascinating conversation. Unfortunately, it wasn’t linear in any sort of narrative way. I tried to pin the man down on facts, but was left with impressions, bits of past-life history, some of the duties and responsibilities of persons of his Order. Not being an expert on the subject, it wasn’t much to go on. And it’s not like the facts are posted anywhere in plain sight. At least not where I could find them in regards to his specific affiliation.

When I contacted Jeske again and told him I needed more tangible information, he informed me that he didn’t care to be interviewed, per se, but he would be happy to share some thoughts with me in writing, which he did.

So after much wringing of hands, I’m taking the easy way out, just sharing his words as they were shared with me.

John writes:

Somewhere in this messy, ever-changing world of mine, is a stack of journals, a few feet high, that records all of my magickal adventures. You see, a sorcerer keeps meticulous records of all the fantastic happenings in its life. Without your journals, your magickal career is worth exactly the value of the air you blow over your teeth as you proclaim yourself Magus, master of Magick, minerval, man of earth, king, queen – and why not? I don’t know, sorcerers don’t give or get medals and usually; when too many of them are in one place, there is, well, change.

I ask: How did you discover Magick?

John replies:

When I was 17, my first performance at the Avant Guard [2111 N. Prospect] was watched by a 35 year-old woman who was as powerful as she was beautiful. There was a room with a batik covering the door. From the couch you could see the stage and not be seen, you couldn’t really see into the room. It was rumored that users of the Devil’s Weed sat back there and talked about being stoned.

She sat on a couch and watched but could not be seen. Literally looking over the stock, she’d joke with Jan Smith, whose daughter Jenny brought me to a wonderful house where my cards were read. This was also secretly observed. Thinking back, there was always a room with a sheet across it, so seeing was limited. In later years, I used a mirror.

The daughter always introduces the traveler, who meets the mother but not always the mother’s friend… I met the mother’s friend, two years later. When a coven looks you over, it takes years sometimes. You don’t say no because what you are offered is so wonderful that you will spend the rest of your life treasuring that moment. You are only asked once.

Officially, I consider myself a member of the Order of Oriental Templars. O.T.O.s are considered independent operators, magickal knights like samurai, but samurai are bound to their master. When samurai are released, they become ronin. I am an unattached magickal operator. I have the ability to go anywhere and start my own group. I just go out and gather the people I need. It’s a lot like when Dylan used to literally run up and down Tin Pan Alley, grabbing musicians off the street to take back to the studio to work on his album. I’m like that. I’m mission-specific, so I find the people I need to get a particular job done.

So you see, I don’t come from the World of Llewellyn, Weiser or Falcon. I qualified as an Astral Adept until my Opus [the next step in the initiatory grade he follows; the initiate is required to write down “an explanation of everything in the universe, how it works and how it got there”] was undertaken – it’s publish or perish in the Land of High Magick, believe me. Ya wanna get close fast, get to editors of the appropriate publishing houses. You’ll find they move in a very refined circle, where personal questions are viewed with disdain.

John writes more:

I have a soft spot for the Queen of Diamonds, poetic imagination, the Queen of Dreams. I’m in love with a number but I won’t tell you what it is. I’ll only tell the Editor, to whom all scriveners must pay greasy obeisance.

I ask: What is your focus now?

John replies:

Devotion to Gaia, as Diana, Queen of the Hunt, has led me to undertake priestly duties for the Serpent’s Tail coven. This witch does not proselytize. Neither does his Queen, Karin. Once she took the name of a guy who could pour iron. I really respect that, so withhold his name, out of respect to Hephaestus.

Karin and I will be opening an occult-themed retail shop this fall. We have a storefront and will begin construction October 1. Classes, geegaws, jimcrack, handiworks and things will be on sale. Maybe I’ll turn it into a museum and charge admission at the door, show home movies of extremely bad taste.

This is but one of Jeske’s current missions. The rest happen on a different plane, one not visible to the rest of us.

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