m1thr0s 729 is the founder of our order and the creator of the discipline known as Mutational Alchemy. This article and interview were created in 2015 at one of our art symposiums in Olympia Washington. In it he talks about meeting Hymenaeus Alpha (Grady McMurtry,) his name, his history and his work. For more information, current TAI members can check out the audio recordings of his life story available by request.
m1thr0s 729: a biopic by Izi Ningishzidda
I met m1thr0s in 2008, after knowing him online for years through various occult study groups. I went to study and work with him in 2009 for The Mutational Alchemy Tarot and also because I had hit a wall with my research. Intelligent occultists who are also genuine masters in any discipline are hard to find, and I felt I was ready for and needed a more engaging and serious dialogue.
I knew of a few masters I would have liked to learn from – Masaaki Hatsumi in Japan was one of them. He’s the grandmaster of the traditions of Ninjutsu or Bujinkan Budo Taijutsu as it is properly called. Martial Arts was never my primary interest however, and what was only the very loftiest and most esoteric teaching in the Bujinkan was what I felt needed to be my everyday dialogue. I would have to spend upwards of 30 years getting my ass kicked brutally to see if there was anything at the top at all worth looking at. I didn’t know exactly who I could learn from or where I could find these teachings – I started with Tantra, Magick and good old demonology (Yes, run away screaming now….but they’re all in your head.)
After spending years online learning from m1thr0s long distance, about Mutational Alchemy and its core element, Bigrammaton, I was getting pretty excited at the potential in all of what I was seeing – finally I had a path forward – and it was unbelievable – the stuff of stars, the loftiness of human potential and a direct link between Heaven and Earth, just as indicated in countless global religious texts. It was very clear I could only grasp some of the loftier principles of Mutational Alchemy in person, and at the time m1thr0s was in need of a good student and secretary (yes the kinky kind) as well. When I made the decision to go, the entire universe seemed to stop and help me make the transition.
m1thr0s was born in 1953 on the cusp of a Water Dragon and Water Snake year according to the Chinese astrology calendar in Berkeley, California, then, a quiet Republican dominated city. His parents graduated the University of Berkeley and moved together to Mexico City for the first year of his life. His sister was born within the next year and his mother annulled the marriage to his father, moving back to the United States with the infants. He was a top student, even though he describes his family situation as dark, chaotic and violent. At age 12 he ran away from home in Sunnyvale, California. With the the approval and support of the state he began living on his own with friends in Berkeley at age 14 after a series of failed foster home situations.
He flew to Mexico City twice for summer vacation to meet and visit with his biological father who was a professional independent photographer for National Geographic, the Mexican government, and marketing departments for companies around the world.
He met his first girlfriend, Catherine, an Italian-American in his sophomore year at Berkeley High School where he graduated in 1972. Later he began attending the U of U in Salt Lake City as an English Major, where he lived until 1985. His primary interests were Eastern Philosophy and mysticism, including Tantra, Buddhism and The I Ching in particular. Anyone who has studied Eastern philosophy tends to apprehend m1thr0s’s work more correctly right off the bat – mistaking Mutational Alchemy for a religion is common only among those who don’t understand how Chinese, Greek and Judaic stem research developed – very different from the dominant Western view. The Judaic Tree of Life, or Sephiroth as it is commonly called, is the cornerstone of Hermetics and work on a prototype for the fusion of the Sephiroth and the hexagrams of the I Ching began during the mid seventies through m1thr0s’s explorations of these two great cultures.
Soon after arriving in Salt Lake City he was introduced to Aleister Crowley’s work through a group of friends he was involved with, who were following the revival of the OTO in the bay area. They had permission to open an unofficial chapter by Grady McMurtry, who was still involved in the long court battle over who would be the proper head of the OTO. McMurtry came out during the initiations for m1thr0s’s 1st and 2nd degree.
He recounts his meeting with McMurtry:
“He wasn’t very tall – he was a fairly energetic, kind of shortish guy that had long gray hair and a long beard, and wire rim glasses he had probably been wearing since the 20’s. He, really – for all outer appearances – looked like a thousand other aging Berkeley hippies that I knew. He had a good sense of humor – he kind of had a warlocky sense of humor. (laughs) He didn’t dress really fancy, he wasn’t into robes and didn’t go for all of that, at least not at the time. He was into chess, so we played chess together.
They came and found me, which was really weird, at the time. I was living in a total dungeon of an apartment – the basement of a house that had been divided into rooms for students at the university. One day I’m just playing my guitar and I hear a knock at the door and him and his entourage of OTOer’s came waltzing down the hall into my room. I can’t remember why they were looking for me, but they were actually just trying to make some connections that they thought might be at my place. I wound up talking shop with him for several hours, playing chess and talking about magick and the history of the OTO and what had happened to him.
We talked about his philosophy of the OTO and his vision of what he thought it should be. After that I saw him again since he was in town to do these initiations. So he was there for my first degree initiation. On the second degree initiation I only saw him very briefly, just at the party. At one point he pulled this ring off his finger and said “Hey have you ever seen this ring?” and he hands it to me and I realized I was holding Baphomet 729’s…Aleister Crowley’s ring – the Outer Head of the Order’s ring. He was very cavalier and impish about it.
At one point during chess I (jokingly) told him I was coming after his crown, and he bristled at that…(laughs) I didn’t play my best game because I didn’t want to be too hard on him. I was kind of all tripped out that all this stuff would be coming to me in such a weird situation. It seemed to be an essential rendezvous of some kind, though. I saw him again briefly just weeks before he died in San Francisco – my friend and I had been travelling in a van up and down the coast. He was looking very stressed out at that time. His health was not good. He had gone to Europe trying to get to Yugoslavia and they had given him a lot of trouble.
There are places in Europe where the OTO is very illegal – you can be jailed and killed for having anything to do with it. He had papers and permission to go in but they turned him away anyhow at first although he had eventually gotten through it was an ordeal. I didn’t really have anything else to do with the OTO once I got to Seattle. I decided not to take the third degree in the OTO. The first three degrees of the OTO are all degrees where you swear an oath to The Book of the Law, to uphold the principles of The Book of the Law and uphold your life in accordance with The Book of the Law. The third degree starts a commitment to the OTO as an organization. It gave me three years to get to know the inner politics, study magick and help run initiations. At the end of that time I didn’t feel the OTO was living up to the standards of The Book of the Law….and so I elected not to take the third degree.”
He and his friend arrived in Seattle in July 1985 after checking out San Francisco and Berkeley which they deemed extremely appealing but too expensive for two college students just starting out. They settled down in the (at the time) wildly eccentric and colorful Wallingford District near The University of Washington. m1thr0s worked at The Last Exit, a famous dive for artists, musicians and alternative culture in the University District while attending the University of Washington, and at the same time began treating Magick, Hermeticism, Qabbala, Tantra and the I Ching as serious school worthy of a lifetime commitment, after recognizing certain parallels in the doctrines. He recounts how the TwinStar was discovered:
“I ran into the relationship between the Lo Shu and the Tetractys when I was still in Salt Lake City. I had been working with the Lo Shu and had been using it to navigate the Tree of Life. There is a formula that happens where you take the Lo Shu and you build on the four points that are formed by the grid of 3×3 lines.You build a Tetractys along the edge of the Lo Shu. If you do this you end up with a collapsed pyramid. If you connect all the dots together on the Tetractys what you get is another nine chambers. At that point I realized the Tetractys was a form of the Lo Shu. And that started my investigation into the Tetractys and eventually the discovery of the TwinStar at The Last Exit in Seattle – just having coffee in a booth with my charts. I already knew what the numbers were, I was trying to deal with the number arrangement from the Lo Shu and figuring out how to put that in the Tetractys….and that’s where the TwinStar came in.”
He continued research and study on the emergent Mutational Alchemy principles. He met his future domestic partner, Vivian Bedford at The Last Exit in 1987. She came to him after a series of dreams lead her to him – he describes her as “a wreck.”
“There were several things going on with her at the time she came to me. She had multiple personalities and was being attacked constantly by these…things that had set up house in her head. I mean the whole scene was something out of the Exorcist -bites and scratches all over her every night, talking to the television, etc. After observing her for a while I finally determined that her supernals had just completely collapsed, so I set about rebuilding them using the TwinStar and trained her on its use. She managed to pull herself together after I did the initial exorcism, and that was that. She went on to get a degree in anthropology at the U-Dub and somewhat manages to run a business today.”
They stayed together for the next fifteen years. m1thr0s and her then moved to Suquamish, Washington, and then to the beautiful Northern tip of the Olympic Peninsula where he worked as a marketing specialist at the bizarre counterculture publishing company Loompanics, famed for such titles as The Anarchist’s Cookbook and the Principia Discordia, as well as other assorted controversial literature worldwide. He became chief copy editor at Abundant Earth after a 2-year stint at Loompanics.
The relationship with Bedford turned out to be a disaster he recalls- “More and more I felt like it was all about her, leaving next to no time or energy for my work. In the end she betrayed me pretty seriously, sleeping with the guy who was building “our” supposed house in Port Townsend – sleeping around with a whole string of guys, actually. The only person she didn’t sleep with it seemed was my “best friend” at the time, Jeff, who made a move on her as soon as he saw she was “available.” So it was a bad scene all around at that time. She became pregnant shortly afterwards. Unfortunately I had trusted her enough to leave the house, constituting our entire life savings in her name for credit reasons – we had been building up her credit while I was working as a marketing director at Loompanics. She sold the house out from under me, took all the money and ran, ditching me in the worst possible circumstances.”
In March 1998 m1thr0s’s daughter was born. He began experiencing more serious health problems shortly thereafter and was subsequently diagnosed with chronic COPD, later upgraded to Emphysema.
Despite all of this bad news, m1thr0s, now living alone in Port Townsend, immediately returned to his old work and managed to establish Abrahadabra.com in 2002, two years after he and I had become acquaintances online. There he began publishing his work and distributing links to it on Occult Forums, at the time the busiest and most popular haunt for occultists online, with 30,000 members. At the time, he was leader of the Satanism and Ceremonial Magick forum. Occult Forums was hit with repeated hacking attempts which succeeded in destroying the boards and their contents several times – including over 10,000 of m1thr0s’s posts. Dozens of members began splintering off and creating new work groups and forums. Among them was the new add-on to Abrahadabra.com: Abrahadabra Forums, with m1thr0s, already a favorite amongst occultists online, at its helm.
In 2007, m1thr0s and I started corresponding, recognizing a serious mutual interest in Mutational Alchemy and a definite romantic spark between us – actually it was more akin to a firestorm…
By 2009, at great personal cost to myself, we had moved in together and were knee deep in the Mutational Alchemy Tarot project. I was determined to give him the best shot at making the most of his last years under the terminal diagnosis he had been hit with, I worked pretty much every odd job I could find while studying alongside him, in order that he might spend every moment doing exactly what he did best and enjoyed the most – Mutational Alchemy. I had taken a page from the Bhagavad Gita from the very beginning, and it turned out to be the best decision I had ever made, as the rewards for my investment continue to roll in and the well does not appear to be running dry anytime soon.
“Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized soul can impart knowledge unto you because he has seen the truth.”
The Bhagavad Gita – Chapter 4: Transcendental Knowledge
I managed to get some time to interview him for the 2012 Art Show. It’s hard to get him to talk about himself – mostly he always wanted to focus on his work, which isn’t particularly good for learning about him as a person. You’d think it was but there is a lot more to him than just the work, even though that does comprise the bulk of the going ons at The Abrahadabra Institute.
Izi: So first of all you go by Mithras, right? I know better but I’m sure some want to hear you explain it. (laughs)
m1thr0s: It’s pronounced *mith-roce* and yes, the number and letter replacements are important. It is a reference to the Persian Mithra and Roman Mithras. It’s just a magickal name I picked up that sort of stuck since everyone seems to like it and I can’t shake it. There are a numbers of things about the historical Mithras that interested me. As a solar deity of the 365 days of the year and more than that as a god that started out as a man, following the path of the hero – he only became a god through his heroic deeds and by the seat of his pants so to speak. I was always particularly taken with godforms who weren’t born to it. The Orphic egg fascinated me. The assumption of the godform is always important – you’ve done that with Ningishzidda for example – he’s also a god that is in the trenches, in the fight, rather than above it. The idea of Mithras at least according to some legends was that he was the first to crack the outer shell of the universe and step out of it. It cross references really well with everything. Once I made a binary formula out of it with the one and the zero, then it had more relevance to me on a personal level and fit the work that I was doing.
Izi: So tell me a little about your art and how you came about being an artist
m1thr0s: I have always been “eclectic” both artistically and philosophically. I turned to the study of Metaphysics and World Philosophies in my early teens. Comparative Religion. Alchemy. Mysticism – all that spooky foreign stuff. I was attracted to the art even more than the weird ideas. That kept me pretty occupied for awhile, sorting out *all-and-everything* (however precariously). I got interested in computer graphics about the time computers could display colors and have been hooked on it ever since, still fascinated by everything digital media can do.
Izi: How do you get your images so precise and distilled?
m1thr0s: I’m a dedicated symbologist and a content specialist and probably the most meticulous visual formatter I know.
Izi: Mutational Alchemy is the name of the system you have developed, and it’s what all of your art is about, is that correct?
Izi: Could you tell me a little about it starting from the top?
m1thr0s: A little about it? That’s going to be difficult.
Izi: (laughs) I know, but maybe just from the top and we’ll see if I can keep up.
m1thr0s: Without delving into the science of it which cannot be dealt with briefly, it might be better to explain how it began…why a different approach to things seemed necessary to me. In all of Crowley’s work, the thing that most interested me – really I would say haunted me – was the language of stars. It pervades his work. It is really the thrust of the Book of the Law. Within his work is an approximated guidelines for what that term actually means, but it’s only an approximation. There’s not enough of a definition in all of his work to really tell us what the hell stars are. I had from very early on decided it had to be understood in a literal sort of way, since otherwise it’s just an overplayed metaphor not much worthy of our attention. But nobody – no resources I could find – nobody that I could talk to – was able or even willing to address that particular mystery. So I began a research project to try and understand The Body of Light in as technical a way as possible, and I began researching the anatomics of the Body of Light as well as I could find it, all over the world.
Izi: What authors or scholars did you research?
Well many but my best leads, the leads that gave me the most to work with were in the areas of Tantricism, some branches of Western mysticism such as Qabbalah and Hermeticism, Alchemy both East and West, and certain aspects of Shamanism.
Izi: Is it true that you are a satanic warlock?
m1thr0s: Oh that’s interesting. I don’t understand. Did someone say that I was? I mean maybe I am. They’re pretty sneaky, maybe I fooled myself! I don’t share anyone’s hysterical fear of Satanism, so that’s not something that affects me or bothers me, because I’ve studied it. There’s a lot going on there that is very relevant and interesting. But the best answer is no, I’m not.
Izi: So is Mutational Alchemy about God?
m1thr0s: Well it could be, but God does not dominate my thinking or take up much of my time. Mutational Alchemy is an evolutionary strategy. It encompasses God in that God is embedded in the evolutionary development of man. But it’s not about god. It’s about man. It’s not a religion. And it’s also not competing with religion. You can believe whatever you like and still take advantage of the principles and tenets of Mutational Alchemy.
Izi: Can you tell me what your art is about?
m1thr0s: Well it’s about the Body of Light. Most of all it’s about stars and about an emerging physics, really.
Izi: Thank you.