"Think not, o king, upon that lie: That Thou Must Die: verily thou shalt not die, but live. Now let it be understood: If the body of the King dissolve, he shall remain in pure ecstacy for ever. Nuit! Hadit! Ra-Hoor-Khuit! The Sun, Strength & Sight, Light; these are for the servants of the Star & the Snake."
"Yea! deem not of change: ye shall be as ye are, & not other. Therefore the kings of the earth shall be Kings for ever: the slaves shall serve. There is none that shall be cast down or lifted up: all is ever as it was. Yet there are masked ones my servants: it may be that yonder beggar is a King. A King may choose his garment as he will: there is no certain test: but a beggar cannot hide his poverty."
"Man has the right to live by his own law -- to live in the way that he wills to do: to work as he will: to play as he will: to rest as he will: to die when and how he will."
On the 23rd of March 2005 Era Vulgari, my 54th birthday, I received word that my good friend Tom Yagusic had died the previous Saturday at the age of 54. I was not even aware of the fact that he was ill. Tom was like that. He did not wish to be a burden to his friends and family, to cause them to feel obligated to him in anyway and uncomfortable. He cared more for his loved ones than he did for himself.
As I have said often these days, time for me seems to be slipping into the future. I hadn't seen Tom for at least six months, and we exchanged only a few e-mail messages during that time. He never even hinted to me that he was ill, that a cancer was eating away at his physical body, the garment his True Self had chosen to wear in this incarnation, and I believed that my friend was in the best of health, enjoying the new apartment he had just moved into. Yet, oddly and very casually, the thought often came to me: I will never see Tom again. I did not think of death. I had no reason to think of death. Yet somehow, deep within the very core of my being, I knew that I would not see my friend again in this lifetime, on this somatic plane of consciousness, and it was unconsciously accepted as something quite natural. Therefore, when Tom's ex-wife, Joann, contacted me and informed me of his death I was not shocked. He was by no means an old man, a Scorpio sun sign whose birthday was October 23rd, and as I have said, the last time I had seen him and we had spoken Tom seemed to be in the best of health. There was something "natural" about it. Some inner sense told me that it had been his time, that while his persona would have preferred to remain on this plane longer, That which gave life to my friend, his True Self, had accomplished that for which It had chosen this particular incarnation. As for the man himself, my friend, the last time we spoke he was, as usual, eager for the next great adventure.
But who was Thomas J. Yagusic?
As I sat through the funeral service listening to the drone of the pastor, I thought about this man who had been my friend for more than three decades. Sitting with Joann, his daughter Melissa and his son Jason, I endured the interminable readings from the Bible. A member of Tom's family talked about his interest in astronomy and rock collecting and it dawned upon me that it was the boy that Tom once was that the speaker was talking about.
Tom Yagusic, when I met him at the Sign of Aquarius circa 1970 E.V. was already deeply devoted to the science and art of astrology. He was an accomplished astrologer and member of the Pittsburgh Astrological Association, an organization he would eventually break away from as he did Christianity, finding falsehood and hypocrisy intolerable. The Sign of Aquarius was an occult bookshop in a section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania called Shadyside, for all the trees that still shade the beautiful homes and yards, the peaceful streets of that community. The shop, its exterior and interior painted an appropriate green and purple, was there in the psychedelic sixties when the most wonderfully weird characters could be seen in the streets and shops of Shadyside, and the Sign lived on even when the old houses were remodelled and yuppies took the place of the hippies and flower children. However, Tom and I outlived the Sign. Eventually its owners, Fred and Harriet Friedlander, grew old and retired. Tom and I had outgrown the place before its end, but while we were young it was a marvelous place to spend time. We would meet in the Sign and have conversations that would last for hours. Tom was always a very animated, enthusiastic conversationalist. And we met and were amused by a wide variety of interesting individuals who frequented and sometimes just breezed through the Sign on their way to an unknown future. Some of these people were bright and intelligent. Many were, well, let us be charitable here, fascinating psychological studies.
And Tom? He did not put his spirituality on display. He did not use his spirituality to adorn his ego and parade that ego about with a desire for admiration. Tom's spiritual nature was, for the most part, a private thing untouched and untainted by the demon ego. He was not the kind of "mystic" to don black clothing, wear occult jewlery, and act very mysterious. Tom Yagusic was not a typical "occultist". He was an honest man, real and sincere. Going hand in hand with his deep interest in astrology and the human psyche was my friend's fascination for technology. Tom had been an employee of Bell Telephone even into the days when it had become Verizon and he had given over thirty years of his life to that job. He began by simply installing residential telephones, but he had become an expert in the installation and maintenance of vast and complex computerized communications systems for instutitions such as UPMC, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre. He had learned by heart that mysterious language referred to as DOS, the very foundation of computer programming, and with the growth of technology Tom's knowledge grew. He was the first person I went to whenever I, who had to be dragged into the computer age kicking and screaming, experienced problems with my computer -- from my first 486 with Windows 3.11 which another friend had given me, to the Compaq with Windows XP that I am currently working with. If I had a problem and he did not have an instant solution for me, Tom immediately came up with that solution and was there for me. I am not sure I could have made it this far without his assistance.
My friend in thought and conversation loved to enthusiastically fly off into the more ethereal realms of speculation, but he was nevertheless a very down-to-earth man. As I have said, he did not take to the affectations of most of those who have an interest in things "occult". When I saw Tom he was almost inevitably dressed in sturdy work boots, a pair of blue jeans and a short-sleeved shirt, with one or more leather cases attached to his belt containing a cell phone, small tool and/or flashlight. While I am losing my hair, he kept his. In looking through my now digitized scrapbook I discovered to my surprise that after all these years I have only one photograph of my friend Tom. That photograph, which is above these my verbose ramblings, was taken in his birthday month of October of 1985, and yet he looked no older when last I saw him around the end of 2004 E.V.
Tom Yagusic. I don't think his family knew him, not as Joann, Melissa and Jason knew him; not as I knew him. The man that Tom had become was a man well worth knowning. Deeply and sincerely spiritual as well as practical. A man equally interested in the mechanics of the universe, the inner workings of the human psyche and the advances of technology. He perceived no difference between spirit and matter, recognizing that their duality is but an illusion. Tom had lived life much more honestly than most, he was always there to help a friend in need, to share what he had learned with others, and when I saw his son and daughter at the service for the first time in more years than I care to think about I realized that my friend had also been a good parent. His daughter Melissa when I had last seen her was a little girl with a button nose, joyfully leaping off of the couch onto the cushions she had tossed on the floor, and Tom was ready to fly to her rescue should he notice in that instant she was airborne that she might come to harm. She has grown into a beautiful, charming and intelligent young woman. Her brother Jason was a skinny little kid when last I saw him, but now he is an imposingly tall attorney. Looking at and talking with Melissa and Jason, I find it hard to understand how anyone could have disapproved of Tom's choices in life, for certainly they prove beyond doubt that he was a wise and accomplished parent who had instilled in his children a deeply respectful spiritual sense of honesty and fairness.
Now Tom is gone. And yet, while his body is "dissolved", his ashes preserved for the service in a beautiful urn adorned with the Tree of Life, he lives on in the minds and hearts of those who loved him, whom he loved. I find myself occasionally talking to him, alone in my apartment, going about my business. He does not speak to me, I do not hear my friend in so many words, but his presence seems to me somehow eternal. And I am certain that if I ask him for advice a solution to whatever problem I am experiencing will come to me. My only regret is that I was not a better friend ... at least as good a friend to Tom as he was to me.
Although he has gone on to his next great adventure, I'll not say goodbye to my friend Tom Yagusic, for he is in my mind and heart eternal.
April 10, 2005 E.V.