Can’t Take Me Home
It all started… where did it all start, really? The ancient cult of Cybele is as good a place as any, probably. She was an odd goddess: wild, yet linked to cities; a Magna Mater with an unfortunate tradition of priestly castration tacked on; simultaneously an insider and outsider in whatever pantheon she found herself in. Which, as everyone knows, gave the goddess tremendous arcane power. Magic is fueled by contradictions, and the Greco-Roman pantheon is a positive whirl of cheerful contradictions.
Which is why Classical imagery was so popular among the Masonic occultists who set up the United States; oh, certainly, the austere republicanism and service-minded mindset was appealing, on a purely exoteric level. But when it came to the hidden esoteric infrastructure there’s simply nothing with the same theurgic resilience as the Roman gods. They’re extremely easy to customize, after all; plus, its theurgical rituals don’t interfere much with those of the Judeo-Christian religion, which is a definite plus. The Abrahamic faith-network is notoriously touchy about integrating with other theurgic traditions.
But that’s not the point of this discussion. This is actually all about how the Secret Masters had to use the Cybele cult to patch the problem of West Virginia.
It was a unique problem, really: most states progressed along the path of colony/territory, then achieved statehood after a reasonably straightforward process. West Virginia, on the other hand, did not; it ripped itself out of an existing state (albeit one currently in an illegal rebellion), and its actions were later retroactively ratified by the ruling civil authority. At the time, nobody thought anything much of it — including the civic mages handling America’s occult infrastructure. It was in reaction to an illegal rebellion, after all; plus, West Virginia kept its original True Name in its title, which seemed to keep things from going too odd. The relevant authorities kept an eye on things, and when nothing happened they gradually relaxed.
Fast forward a hundred years. It was now the 1970s, which was of course the most dangerous decade of the occult Cold War between the USA and the USSR. Esoteric patches that seemed reasonably sturdy in a time where the United States was seen as a mere picturesque entertainment on the world stage were much less so in a world where it was facing down a collection of bloodthirsty death cults. Further reinforcement was necessary.
So the Secret Masters at the time went looking through the archives, and decided that the Cybele cult was suitably under-used enough for their purposes. After all, it venerated a mountain goddess who had populist appeal and enough internal contradictions to mystically patch a state that had been born from a literal war with itself. All they needed to do was come up with a suitable exoteric focus for the patch.
It being the 1970s, they went with a folk song. An obscure traveling hymn from the original cult was acquired and suitably adapted by a team of DC-based occult operatives with talent in both music and theurgic retrofitting; the result, of course, was “Country Roads.” Forget the official history of the song, of course: crafting it took six months of steady, sometimes dangerous work by the two arcane songwriters who took lead on the project. It was and is a masterpiece of its kind, and it worked perfectly. The population of West Virginia readily accepted it — and with it, the increased occult linkages with the rest of the United States’ magical defense grid.
And, for the record: it was not intended for John Denver to take mystical possession of that song. It was not. Ethically speaking, that song was just too heavy a burden for an untrained or unprotected person to bear. The plan was to have Johnny Cash shoulder it, because he was a long-term veteran of the occult Cold War and had enough of a connection to the Abrahamic faith-network to shrug off Cybele’s influence; but Denver was in the wrong place at the wrong time and managed to get himself entangled with the song anyway.
The Secret Masters then spent the next twenty years trying to keep the poor bastard alive. And frankly, Denver should have been dead in ten. It’s really impressive, particularly since Denver had all the inherent esoteric potential of your average piece of beige fabric. But the esoteric forces of the universe caught up with him eventually: and now, here we are.
And where are we? Well, when somebody dies like John Denver did, they can leave relics behind. Sometimes those relics can act as foci for unquiet spirits. And Denver’s spirit is somewhat unquiet, these days: he’s occultly linked to a state that he never really lived in, and the link is via an ancient cult that perhaps was just the slightest bit bloodier than harried 20th century civic adepts might have realized. He’s currently haunting Clopper Road, in Maryland (that’s where the song is technically located; yet another contradiction), and it’s not precisely a country road anymore, either. And no, that’s not helping. Denver can’t get back to West Virginia, in his current state — and, even if he gets there, doing so won’t let him Move On. Pretty soon, he’s going to become dangerous. Let’s not let that happen, all right?
Try to exorcise him as peacefully as you possibly can; he served his country well, and too much damage to his spirit will set up resonances that we do not want. But he’s got to be exorcised. And whatever you do: don’t engage the ghost of John Denver unless he’s in direct sunlight. The last team reported that that’s the only really safe time to approach him.