About two weeks after Michael Bowen had moved into the Commercial Street studio, Michael McCracken came in one afternoon and took Bowen aside from the others that were there and said very seriously, “Hey man, listen, there is a wizard that lives down the coast in Carmel Highlands.” Bowen, “Really?” McCracken, “Yeah man, I think you and I should go meet this wizard.” Bowen’s attention now turned to the possibility of meeting “the wizard of Carmel” and checking out another supposedly very “cool” scene. Michael had a little money, McCracken borrowed a friend’s car, and for gas, they immediately siphoned many gallons with a hose from an anonymous car parked on the street and they started driving down the road to see the wizard.
The two artists had the address, a person called a wizard to see, and that was all. They had also just recently met a beautiful woman who complemented the two rough bohemian artists when gathering huge bunches of flowers near Muir beach to bring back to their studio. “Yeah, that’s the wonderful witch of the North. She’s got really great energy,” said, their friend Roger Sommers. Thoughts of that beautiful and wonderful witch of the North remained with them as they drove straight down the coast of California to see the wizard of Carmel Highlands. Bowen noticed one exceptional event on that trip. Just as they passed into Carmel and filled up their tank at 17 cents a gallon, they drove up the rest of the road to the Carmel Highlands, the sun had turned to a golden light over the sea. Moreover, in front of him, Bowen saw the road turn yellow from the light of the sun five minutes or so before they found the address, stopped the car, opened the large gates, and drove into the wizard’s estate. As they got out of the car Bowen said to McCracken, “Did you see what I saw, the road turning yellow and the driveway we are parked on is made of yellow bricks?” McCracken said, “Yeah man, I did see the color change to yellow and the bricks on this driveway are definitely yellow. We’re on the yellow brick road. Do you think inside the house is really the Wizard of Oz?” and the two Michaels laughed as they stepped toward the giant wooden door of the house overlooking the sea.
Waves breaking somewhere below on the shore filled their ears as the fresh salt air filled their lungs. At the giant wooden front door, which was open a few inches, piles of shoes lay outside. Obviously, in the Oriental fashion, that is where you leave your shoes before entering the house. Off came the dirty boots and the two Michaels stepped through the door. At that instant, the door was fully opened and the view of the interiors huge living room was in front of them both. Bowen stepped through the opened doorway without a word being exchanged between anyone. Michael’s eyes were immediately focused on the huge blue eyes of the balding man sitting on a couch in front of a blazing fire. A gigantic white marble coffee table, which had on it a small packet dominated the space between those blue eyes and the red orange fire. At the instant Bowen’s eyes connected with the man in front of the fire, Bowen knew that the small blank white packet on the coffee table had Aleister Crowley’s personal Tarot Deck inside. Michael then said, while those incredible blue eyes stared up at him, “Those are Aleister Crowley’s personal Tarot Cards.” The blue eyes seemed to get bigger and suddenly John Starr Cooke raised his right arm waving them in and said, “Well, you’re in.” And that was it. They had met, been approved of, accepted, and became an instantaneous part of the life of the wizard of Carmel, John Starr Cooke. That moment in 1958 began a relationship with John Starr Cooke that would last beyond the illusion of death. John accepted that mystery in 1975 in Tepoztlan Mexico. In addition, as Bowen has since learned, the relationship was always there, it is there now, it was there before anyone was born, and it existed before the earth formed or the solar system came into existence. At the moment Michael entered the Carmel Highland house and first saw John Starr Cooke, the realization that there is only ONE, became crystal clear.
Michael Bowen’s education was good but nothing compared to what was about to happen in the next few years. McCracken and Bowen stepped into the living room and left a few days later. During that first meeting, time, family, obligations, all became irrelevant. The only thing of importance was being in the presence of a being that had the permanent experience of One. All who came near him were somehow locked in an embrace of a truth, which transcended time, dimension, or any other description of anything. From then on there was only One, and this paradox became for Bowen the only reality of any importance to explore. A new kind of energy was experienced in that house in those few first days. A powerful light flowed through every nerve and electron in Bowen’s body. Without understanding any of the details at that time, Bowen’s entire life had led up to this moment.
‘The quest of the filling cup is upon you.
Behind you is you; that which you are, you have not been.
And that which you will become, you are. The play is real.’
In John Starr Cooke, he had met a creature living in a spiritual state, which the Hindu sages call Nirvakalpa Samadhi. At the same time everything in that house appeared as normal as one could find anywhere in the world of artists. Bowen would come to learn even that was a seeming only. Sometime later in the evening, the two Michaels were casually sitting one on each side of John by the blazing fire. Without saying a word and with a hand that moved as swift as a cobra strike, John touched the blank white card packet, opened it, and deftly spread the cards out in an arc perfectly measured on the marble table. It was then that John said, “You can see where Crowley wrote all over this deck in little tiny hand writing.” Then he added, “I don’t really remember how this deck got here.” After that they all ate dinner, laughed, drank, laughed some more, fell asleep, woke up, looked at the waves, smelled the air, and then Michael had the distinct realization that across the vast Pacific Ocean in front of us lay Hawaii, India, and China. Bowen sensed that he would cross that vast ocean many times in the illusion we call the future.
Before leaving to drive the long road back to San Francisco, John told Michael Bowen, “You are going to represent me you know?” Michael was really surprised but said, “Yes,” in return. Then John said that, “It will take many different manifestations”, as he suddenly sprinkled some water on Michael’s head. The two Michaels said their goodbyes and found themselves driving back up the coast to the Commercial street studio. Both were very different than they were before they arrived at the Wizards house. Bowen had entirely forgotten about his paintings, the studio, his world of friends and family, and even his precious new baby son. By the time they reached San Francisco and entered their studio, Michael knew that a new awakening had occurred in him. He tried to find words for how he felt to tell Arthur Monroe and Michael McCracken, his two beat-buddies. However, all he could remember was the Japanese word Bushido, the way of the warrior.