Mystic Journey is the answer to the hardest question I’ve ever confronted: “What do I really want?” It took me nearly two decades and a bout with cancer to finally be able to answer this question. Of course, there were a whole series of synchronistic (some would call divinely intervening) events that played a part, as well.
My walk along a spiritual path began when I was 13 years old. At the time, I became friends with another boy, of the same age, who asked me to come over one day to his apartment and “use this board to talk with spirits”. I went, and we sat down and used his Ouija Board. Almost immediately, the pointer began zipping around the board. We would ask a question, and the pointer would start to spell out an answer, letter by letter. Over time, our “relationship” with the spirit in the board grew. We would ask questions and the pointer would move around, letter by letter, and answer our questions. We would each have a single finger on the pointer, and it would move, effortlessly. We asked questions about life, death, and God. We asked about historical events, and the future. Sometimes it would answer so fast that we had to have the spirit repeat its answer. At times the spirit would tell us unsolicited jokes. It was truly amazing. Over time, we grew closer with the spirit. I asked if we could see it, and it said no. But the spirit said it could “enter” me if I like and we could talk more directly in that “arrangement”. I, of course, said yes.
Following specific instructions from the spirit, we set up a time and place for the spirit to “enter” me. I laid down, with my friend in the room, following the instructions given by the spirit, and suddenly, I was in a park with the spirit. The spirit was in a trench coat, but I could not see its face. We walked near, and sat on a set of swings, and talked about the things most would ask a spirit – the meaning of life, the afterlife, what it meant to be on the physical plane, and the like. After some period of time, the spirit left me, and I remember being absolutely freezing and shivering. My friend covered me in blankets and I eventually warmed up.
I did this “entrance” twice. We again asked to see the spirit. This time it said ok. We again followed specific instructions, and we saw the spirit, an amebous form in the room with us. We went back to the board and asked if that was the spirit and it said yes. But after that session, for a reason we never fully understood, our connection with the spirit was lost. We never could connect with it on the Ouija Board, or by other means, again.
Interestingly, my friend moved away shortly after this, but he had changed my life. He had opened the door to the metaphysical world to me.
However, at 13, I was still a boy, and even with these events, I didn’t experience, or wasn’t ready to experience, much more along this path.
After going to junior high and high school in Brentwood, I went to Occidental College in the Eagle Rock area of Los Angeles. After taking a year away from school, I decided I wanted to go back, and do so away from Los Angeles as I had spent virtually all my life here. I decided I didn’t want to go to medical school and be a doctor, and business school didn’t interest me as I had no plans to ever open a business. By default, I decided to go to law school. While attending, I had my second “spiritual awakening”, even though I didn’t know it at the time.
In my last year of law school, my girlfriend was working for a psychic. I went for a reading, as well, and I asked about the type of law I would end up practicing. She said I would be dealing with something smelly in the ground. At the end, I asked if she could direct me to a book or a place where I could get more information about the spiritual realm and the metaphysical world. She simply handed me a card, and said contact the organization on the card. I put the card in my pocket, left, and didn’t end up looking at it for over a year.
I had just failed the California Bar Exam, which was truly one of the low points of my life. I felt like I needed some help, any help I could get, and I remembered the card the psychic had given me. It was truly one of those cliché spiritual moments. It was a card for a Spiritual Order. Contacting that Order changed my life. It changed everything. The teachings I received from them over the course of 20 years shaped me, my world view, and my life philosophy. Those teachings gave me the foundation for all my abilities to manifest what I wanted – including passing the bar! But truly, my greatest challenge up to that point in my life, led to my greatest blessing up to that point in my life.
After I passed the Bar, I found a job – one I stayed at for 27 years! My legal career involved, almost exclusively, determining who was going to pay to clean up toxic waste sites - the polluter or their insurance company. Not the most exciting stuff, but exactly what the psychic had predicted – working with smelly stuff in the ground!
I became a successful lawyer. Our firm grew from 10 attorneys in one office, to over 100 in multiple offices around and outside of California when I left. But as we were growing, I became disenchanted, disillusioned, and unfulfilled. Like so many people, I kept feeling, more and more, that there had to be more to life than this. I grew to despise what I was doing – living a life of adversarial confrontation as a lawyer. The time, the stress, the battling. I abhorred it. I wanted out for over 15 years. But I couldn’t let go of the security of the job, the salary, or the prestige. I tried. I got a real estate broker’s license. I applied to become a Marriage and Family Counselor. I started to paint, and even had a show at Bergamont Station, where I sold some pieces! Nevertheless, I couldn’t let go.
I was lying on the floor in my condo one day, and I said to myself, “If I don’t get out of law soon, I’m going to get sick”. Well, about 1 year later, I was diagnosed with cancer. I thought about becoming sick, and sure enough I became sick. Put simply, I gave myself cancer. But again, this second great challenge in my life, led me to the second great step in my life.
I had testicular cancer. Surgery was performed. I was told it was caught early, just Stage 1, and that I would be fine. I needed to follow up with MRI’s and all should be good. I vowed to myself, that given this “break”, I would for sure get out of law and find a new path. Instead of acting on this vow, I continued with my law career, and just kept thinking about leaving and ways to do so.
I guess life decided this wasn’t good enough, that I needed an even harder smack, a true kick in the ass. The results of my first follow up MRI showed an abnormality in my lymph nodes. The oncologist said, “chemo”. Instinctually, I said “no”. I don’t know where it came from, but I knew chemo wasn’t the right thing for me. I knew it wasn’t needed.
My best friend was my “regular doctor”, my internist. I told him I wasn’t going to do chemo. He insisted, saying that it would be very dangerous not to. Standing my ground, I told him that I decided to try an alternative approach, a “natural” approach. I was adamant. So, he said, “ok, you try your (crazy) thing for 90 days, test again, and let’s see where things stand”. The deal was made.
That day I started to put my team together. I called a close friend, explained the situation, and she said, “Wow, I just heard about this ‘pranic healer’ in Orange County who is supposed to have done amazing things helping people with various health issues, including cancer.” So, boom, I called the pranic healer and I had my first teammate. I added an acupuncturist, a body worker, a traditional therapist, and I had amazing support at home to round out my team. I took a sabbatical from my law career (tough way to get away from the law!) and began my healing path.
After 90 days, as my friend and doctor asked, I had another MRI. Lo and behold, the abnormalities had shrunk 50 percent! So, I had bought another 90 days from my friend. I continued my healing with my team and tested again another 90 days down the road. This time, the MRI results were normal. The abnormality had disappeared. I was cancer free. That was over a decade ago. No cancer has returned.
This time of healing was certainly one of the most important times of my life. I spent many hours, days, weeks, thinking, walking the beach, painting, all the time contemplating what I was going to do with the rest of my life. This time, there was no turning back. There was no way I would go back to being a full-time lawyer. I thought, and I thought. I had been taught by my Order, the one I came to after failing the Bar, that the most important question to face, and answer in life, was “What do I really want?” This was my time to answer that question.
Ultimately, it came down to “What am I passionate about?” The answer to that question was “my spirituality”. That’s what I love, that’s what I am passionate about. All that I had learned from my Order, about life, it’s mysteries, and how to work with the powers of the Universe - that’s what turns me on. After coming to know that, I turned my focus on how to make this into a new life.
I realized that while the Bodhi Tree Bookstore existed in West Hollywood, and The Psychic Eye existed in the valley, there was no spiritual bookstore or spiritual marketplace on the west side of Los Angeles. And thus, Mystic Journey Bookstore was born.
I went back to work as a lawyer, but only part-time. Life had blessed me with putting amazing lawyers around me, and supporting me while I went on sabbatical. When I came back, I let them keep doing what they were doing in my stead. I took back the reigns of my department, but was much more removed, and really focused on opening the bookstore.
I looked at many areas on the west side, including Brentwood, Westwood, Santa Monica, Montana Avenue, but no matter where I went, my intuition was that Abbot Kinney was where the bookstore should be. Abbot Kinney was a nice retail street, but nothing like it is now. It was the summer of 2008, the time leading up to the stock market crash. We opened Mystic Journey Bookstore in October of that year, which happened to be the exact month of the crash. In one of the many, many synchronistic, or divine moments, that confirmed alignment with my path and what the Universe wants me to be doing, I was listening to the radio in the late summer of 2008. I was putting together the financing for the bookstore. Things were tight. It was just me, with a little help from my friends, and I wasn’t “rollin’ in dough”. I just happened to hear that something was up with IndyMac Bank, where I had a line of credit I was going to use to finish my build out and get my inventory for the store. I thought to myself “I need to get to the bank today, and take all the money I can out of my credit line”. I stopped my car, turned around, went home, got a line of credit check and pulled out six figures of funding from this line. The very next day, IndyMac bank was shut down by federal regulators. If I had waited one day, if I had not listened to my intuition, my inner voice, that very moment and pulled out that money, Mystic Journey Bookstore would not have existed. But I did, and it does.
Over the years there have been challenges with the bookstore, none more significant, and more interesting than when we moved to our second and larger location on Abbot Kinney.
In our original location, we had an issue with the landlord expanding the retail space of the store and seeking a permit to sell goods in the additional space. In the end, the landlord could not get this permission from the City, and we were going to be forced to move or close. I was absolutely certain I didn’t want to be anywhere but on Abbot Kinney. This was now 2013, and Abbot Kinney was different than in 2008, it had grown up, and out. It was extremely difficult to find a suitable location to move the bookstore. Finally, I found a location, on the far west end of Abbot Kinney. I negotiated, and signed a lease. I wrote a check for the deposit, gave it to my broker to give to my new landlord, in exchange for his executed signature page of the lease.
I remember the way the whole day played out. I had gone to get acupuncture for the first time in over a year. When I came out of my appointment, there was a message from my broker. When I called, he immediately instructed me to sit down. He said that the landlord of my new building, which was really a family that owned the property, had changed their mind at the last minute and that they would not sign the lease over to me. I was in shock as he confirmed that the lease was not going to happen. I was suddenly without a place to move Mystic Journey again, and with only a few months before I had to vacate my current space.
I tried to go back to the family to see exactly what led them to change their mind, and if there was anything I could do or offer to allow me to still lease their building. In what must be the smallest of small world things, I learned that the family was four children of a parent who had willed them the building upon the parent’s passing. Three of the children wanted to lease to me, but the fourth had decided he wanted to sell instead of lease. Without all in agreement nothing could happen. I wanted to reach out to this fourth sibling and asked my broker to find out who it was. To my utter amazement, this fourth sibling was the surgeon who performed cancer surgery on me and removed my testicle!
I tried to contact him, plead with him, but to no avail. The lease didn’t happen. What a great thing this ended up being.
Less than a month later, I met the landlord who owns the building that the bookstore is now housed in. It’s such a better building, and such a better location, than the previous space that I had fought so hard to get on the other end of Abbot Kinney. Here I was again, with another great challenge turning into another great blessing.
Since our move, I watched Mystic Journey grow and expand. In that growth, I watched our crystal sales flourish more than anything else. I also watched my interest and passion in crystals deepen more than anything else too.
When I first opened Mystic Journey Bookstore, and for many years after, I had wanted to open a second, and even multiple, bookstores. I came close nearly 5 years ago. Then in 2015 I came even closer to opening a second location on Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena, but it didn’t happen. In that moment, I decided I didn’t really want to pursue this desire any further.
I did, however, continue thinking about getting into selling larger crystals. We had started to sell some at the bookstore, but we really didn’t have the space for many large crystals there.
Simultaneously, my relationship with my crystal dealer friends from South America also grew. I got to know many them quite well from going to the Tucson gem show, and in 2016, we set up my first trip to Brazil and Uruguay to visit the mines, and go right to the source. I saw how the geodes were extracted from the earth. I learned the entire process of their journey, from being in the earth to a cut and polished piece we sell at Mystic Journey. I stayed with my friends at their homes. I went to many other homes in Brazil and Uruguay to see the pieces, to see them actually cut and polished in people’s back yards and garages. It was amazing. Each piece, even small little angels, and Amethyst heart geodes, hand-carved. I bought pieces for the bookstore and had them shipped back to Los Angeles!
During all of this, I kept thinking about how nice it would be to have a space where I could be selling larger crystals, but that I really didn’t want another bookstore. There wasn’t any space to put big crystals on Abbot Kinney, and I didn’t really want them to go in a warehouse in some industrial part of town. I decided that I would just keep selling a few large crystals out of the bookstore here and there.
Then, in late January 2017, on the rainy Saturday before I was going to leave for the Tucson Gem show, I got a call out of the blue from the bookstore’s landlord. He said, “I’ve got this building that you have to look at, it’s perfect for you.” Telling him that I wasn’t looking for another location, he insisted, remembering that I kept talking about larger crystals. Continuing to turn down his offer, as I was busy getting ready to leave for Tucson in just a couple of days, he asked me one last time, and had arranged for someone to be there to let me in. Finally deciding that it was worth the quick trip over, even in the rain, I went.
The door was locked. I knocked. No one answered. I figured “oh well, I didn’t really care about this anyways, I just did it because I like my landlord and he asked.” I was getting in my car, and suddenly, the door to the building opened. I stopped, went back, explained who I was and went in. The rest is now history. Mystic Journey Crystal Gallery and Studio and Event Space was born.
What is amazing, and another in a series of synchronistic or “aligned” events, is that six months before I had even gone to look at this new building, I had set up another trip to go back to South America to get crystals. The arrangement of this trip lined up EXACTLY with when I would need to be there to get the crystals to stock the gallery. Truly, it was divine timing.
My goal, my mission now, and for the past number of years since my cancer, is to simply be of service; be of service to others, to the community, and to the Universe. I have never thought of, or felt that either Mystic Journey Bookstore, or now Mystic Journey Gallery are “mine”. They are here for everyone. They are here to help people find what they need, whether it be a book, a crystal, a spiritual reading, a workshop, and now a yoga class, a meditation class, or even a place to hold a large spiritual gathering of friends or students. I want the bookstore to more and more be known as the one stop place for all your spiritual needs. I want the gallery and studio space to become known as a transformational center. For me, I want to more and more live in the belief I have for, and of myself, “That I am a completely transparent vehicle for the expression of the One Life, the one Will to Good”