This weekend's trip to New York City (more on that later) has had more magic than I anticipated – and nearly all of it has been good. Definitely one of the highlights of the weekend was our visit to the Tahuti Lodge of Ordo Templi Orientis (The OTO), and taking part in the Thelemic Middle Pillar – an hour-long exercise in meditation, and generation and focusing of energy, that left me more refreshed, relaxed, and content than I've felt in a LONG time. There were ten of us there, and the experience of performing a communal meditation was far different than the self-practice I've been doing since I started using magic (or "magick with a K"). Even as I meditated and let my mind roam, the skeptic in me still noted now the repeated incantations and slow breathing exercises were inducive to creating a minor deprivation of oxygen, which makes the mind and body more conducive and accepting of exactly the sort of feelings and sensations we achieved yesterday. That, of course, is a large factor in how people get sucked into religious cults of the kind who deliberately use this experience to control their flock. (Think of the love bombing" techniques used by many Bible cults.) However, these were thoughts I already knew and were familiar with, nothing new; and no one there was trying to "control" us. We just had a relaxing and pleasant session of meditation and incantation – and because of that, I just let myself enjoy it immensely. Combined with the other major emotional moments of last night, this was definitely a high point to the year 2013 so far, one that I will be hard-pressed to top.