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The Hard Road Home – conclusion

Within my circle of psychonauts, something unexpected was brewing. One of the guys — a huge fan of Led Zeppelin — began to uncover bizarre occult themes in the music. No, I’m not talking about backward masking. This was much less subliminal. Lead guitarist Jimmy Paige was known to have a fascination with the black arts. Not only did he own an occult bookstore, he purchased Aleister Crowley‘s Boleskine House, on the shores of the Loch Ness. Crowley was considered one of the foremost practitioners of the magical arts in the world. He fancied himself as the Beast of the Book of the Revelations, the anti-christ, satanic-ledzepplin.jpgand referred to himself as the most evil man in the world. What interest would the Crowley’s house have for Paige?

Normaly, this stuff wouldn’t phase me. I mean, it’s not like Satanic symbolism was new to rock. But, for some reason, after my brush with death and headlong surrender to chemically-induced enlightenment, this info troubled me. And it would only get worse.

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Lots of oddball details began to pop out at us. Like the Zeppelin logo of a fallen angel. As we discovered, Lucifer was a fallen angel. Coincidence? Later we learned that Paige was initially pegged to compose the soundtrack for iconoclastic occult director Kenneth Anger’s film, Lucifer Rising, a film eventually scored by The Rolling Stones’ Mick Jagger.

h_hurdy_gurdy_player.jpgAnother tidbit was in the movie, The Song Remains the Same. The footage from Zeppelin’s Madison Square Garden concert was spliced with fantasy sequences, one of which involved Jimmy Paige, sitting before Boleskine House, cranking a musical box. As the camera approaches, Paige looks up and his eyes are glowing. The musical box he is playing is a hurdy gurdy box. Interestingly enough, Paige was initially listed as the guitarist for Donovan’s Hurdy Gurdy Man. We broke the song out and re-listened to it.

Thrown like a star in my vast sleep
I open my eyes to take a peep
To find that I was by the sea
Gazing with tranquillity.
‘Twas then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man
Came singing songs of love. . .

Histories of ages past
Unenlightened shadows cast
Down through all eternity
The crying of humanity.
‘Tis then when the Hurdy Gurdy Man

Donovan wrote the song while in the Himalayas studying under Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It contains various eastern instruments. But what is the song about? Who’s the hurdy gurdy man? We traced the concept back to the Book of Revelations where, after “histories of ages past” and “the crying of humanity,” the Hurdey Gurdey Man rises out of the sea. Sound familiar? In the midst of the Great Tribulation, the Beast rises out of the sea “bringing songs of love.” Needless to say, I was L5.jpgstarting to look over my shoulder.

The harder I gazed, the clearer (or darker?) things got; an intricate puzzle seemed to be falling into place. Jim Morrison considering himself a shaman, or Brian Jones’ study of tribal trance music, the Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesty’s Request and Sympathy for the Devil. Was there more to this occult connection than met the eye? Could something — no, someone — be working to delude me?

Then the hammer came down.

I’d begun to listen to a program on a local college station, every Sunday night, entitled Rock and Religion, hosted by Warehouse Christian Ministries. It was not preachy and contained lots of rock info. The show explored spiritual trends in rock music. At the time, they were interviewing Kerry Livgren, lead singer for Kansas. Well, I loved Kansas, had several of their albums, and had recently seen them in concert. Livgren was their founder and main songwriter. But, to my horror, he was describing his conversion to Christianity.

Up to that point, I viewed Christians as a shallow, narrow-minded, irrelevant bunch. But Livgren’s testimony hit me like a spiritual sledge. He had been studying the Urantia Book — a book believed to have been written by extraterrestrials — and through a series of debates with another musician, was convinced the Bible was the genuine Word of God. His eyes were opened and he came to see all his talents as having been twisted toward some evil end. And then he said something that struck at my core: “I didn’t like the fact that I was being used.”

For some reason, that statement haunted me. I was being used. As I mentioned in a previous post, I was writing and drawing, and had a reputation for being a creative person. But I began to see my works in a new light. The themes had become decidedly dark — spirits, phantoms, death and dying. Was it possible I too was being used?

The final kicker was reading Hal Lindsey’s Satan is Alive and Well on Planet Earth. The book is about the reality of Satan, his nature and tactics, and his work on earth. At times during the reading I would weep, awestruck by the fact that Someone could be watching out for me. At other times, I was gripped by paranoia, feeling that the drugs, the music, the mysticism were portals to an insidious evil; that I was in the clutches of the devil.

the-wall.jpgThe straw that broke the camel’s back was Pink Floyd’s, The Wall. I went to see them in concert and they performed the entire album. The experience pushed me over the edge. It’s a concept album about a man who goes insane. He battles a doting Mother, a monstrous Judge, and eventually the Worms. During the show, a giant wall is constructed on the stage as the protag retreats into insanity. But I was hardly entertained. Not only was I convinced an ominous Judge was waiting to sound the gavel on my life, I too faced the worms and was dangerously close to my own personal Wall. I left the arena spent and convicted; I could not live in this hell any longer. It was the last secular concert I would attend for a long, long time.

I had walked enough Stations of the Cross to know the Story. Lindsey had outlined the steps in his book, so I had no excuses. Several of my stoner — now ex-stoner — buddies had attended Calvary Chapel Riverside. To my surprise, the church had rock concerts on Sunday nights. I went with the understanding that I would make a public profession of faith. So in March of 1980, I went forward at an altar call and publicly confessed Christ. That same week I destroyed my rock albums, my drugs and my occult paraphernalia.

That event was only the beginning — which is another long story — but it’s why spring is my favorite time of the year: winter is past and new life is in the air. So yeah, the hard road will get you home. You’ll just arrive bruised and bloodied. But in my case, I’m no worse for the wear.

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{ 13 comments… add one }
  • Ame April 11, 2007, 3:02 PM

    Wow … thank you, Mike, for sharing your story. This comment box comes up right next to your Flickr pictures … your family, your anniversary trip, your new grandbaby … what a miracle you are … what a beautiful miracle your family … God is SO alive in this world … in you. Dear God, Mike’s story brings me in awe, once again, before You. To see so much of what You’ve created lived out already. No, staying faithfully married and raising four kids is never easy, but it would never have even been a viable concept in Mike’s life without You. So I worship You and praise You, for You have revealed Yourself to, in, and through Mike and will continue to do so in his lifetime and in generations to come. I’m amazed, God, as I read Mike’s story, at Your patience … You long for everyone to come to You, and You are willing to patiently woo us unto You little by little; You are awesome God! Thank You for Your Sovereignty in Mike’s life, for drawing him out of the dark side, and for the heritage he is passing onto future generations for You. I love You, God, Ame

  • janet April 11, 2007, 7:32 PM

    I’m real glad God got His hands of you. Now, your creativity is being “used” for good! Here’s a tiny snippet of Janet-history- the ONLY time I did acid. I was visiting a friend at her college dorn in Troy New York. She had a boyfriend, who had other friends, who were having a party in a basement. Sure, why not? Beer and pot, but they were doing acid too. Wanna try it? Sure, why not? I took not one, not two, but two and a half hits. I HAD grown up religious. I saw all kinds of things, heard all kinds of things, felt and smelled all kinds of things… Above all, I was certain that Satan was trying to get me. I remember freaking out, asking if there was a Bible in the house. I felt I needed it, but everyone just laughed at me. I remembered the movies they showed us in high school about kids who did LSD and went crazy, never returning to normal. It was scary. It wasn’t enough to bring me back to God (man, we are STUPID sheep,) but I never did acid again…

  • Chris April 12, 2007, 1:30 AM

    Found you through Ame’s blog… thanks for sharing this testimony. I don’t think my generation has any idea overall just how much satanic power was (and is) active in the music world, especially ahrd rock. The only comparable testimony I know of directly is that of Keith Green, who walked a very similar walk to yours in some ways. In any case, this was a huge blessing – a reminder of the power of God to free us despite our own sin (and our own love of it). He works in the hearts of even those most blind.

  • Mike Duran April 12, 2007, 2:59 AM

    Ame, thank you so much for the beautiful prayer. And for the reminder, as humbling as it is, that my life and testimony may actually glorify God. Janet, thanks for sharing the snippet. Hope you don’t shun me now that you know I was such a freak. It’s amazing that, despite all the drugs, I’m so normal.

  • janet April 12, 2007, 3:34 AM

    I could sense that you were a freak. ha ha. takes one to know one. anyway, praise be to God, Jesus came for freaks like us.

    Who said it? Was it Bob Seger? “Everybody’s got a hungry heart.” You were looking for meaning. I was looking for love. Both of us looked in the wrong places and got pretty beat up on the way, but the Shepherd is a healer. Gives me chills thinking about Him caring so tenderly for His weak, shivering, bloodied, battered sheep- carrying them until they can walk again…

  • Ame April 12, 2007, 1:27 PM

    “that my life and testimony may actually glorify God.”

    Mike – all of this … it is ALL about God and nothing about you … it is His hand all the way … so that God could reveal Himself … through YOU … in such a *glorious* way (as my mentor always said 😉

    There’s nothing “may actually” about it. Your life DOES glorify God. Can you imagine? Having not chosen Him? And four children? It would have looked SO different. But it doesn’t. God picked you up, and you let Him. He loved you, and you let Him. He has taken all of your imperfection and made it stunningly beautiful, as only He can, and you have let Him. It is intentional. It is God. And you and your beautiful wife and your amazing children and your stunning grandson get to be the recipients of God’s infinite love! That is SO cool!!!!!!!

  • matty April 12, 2007, 4:20 PM

    >

    Nope, the Boss (Springsteen), from “The River” album… and I’m pretty sure it’s about a guy who leaves his wife and family.

  • matty April 12, 2007, 4:36 PM

    oops (my previous comment was sort of stripped of content)… one more time:

    ummm, someone asked, “Who said it? Was it Bob Seger? “Everybody’s got a hungry heart.””

    Nope, the Boss (Springsteen), from “The River” album… and I’m pretty sure it’s about a guy who leaves his wife and family.

  • janet April 12, 2007, 5:08 PM

    Oh, of course it was Bruce. thank you. But the point is, every time I hear it, i think, that is probably the truest statement in any eighties song. Everyone does have a hungry heart. why did hte guy leave his wife? a hungry heart. same reason we do anything stupid- looking for fulfillment. but only Jesus can fill us:)

  • Kelly Klepfer April 13, 2007, 7:14 PM

    Glad I stopped by.

    Thanks for sharing your journey.

  • Mirtika April 13, 2007, 10:56 PM

    For the record, the image on Swan Song is a picture of Icarus, not Lucifer. Icarus falling from taking his reckless flight too high and close to the sun. 🙂

    I think that Satan works in all arenas, music included, but I think we can also make ourselves nuts finding demons in every song or album.

    Sometimes, a sea is just a sea.

    Mir

  • Suzan Robertson April 16, 2007, 10:43 AM

    Hey, Mike, we’ve a lot in common. I was a hippie, a rocker and into the occult, big time, since my early teens. I read Hal’s book in 1983 and God chose that moment to save me. I also felt I’d been used, duped when my eyes were opened.

  • Jacob April 21, 2007, 1:44 AM

    Mike,

    I just had the chance to finish reading these posts. They were great. I guess I see most in them, how God can use everything to reveal himself to humans. It’s great story you should share it, especially when Theo get older…

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