It seems that Frater Marabas/Chris Bray has had some subtle but important effects on my life, despite my initial doubts about his authenticity. I had been fascinated by the burnt studded doors of the Sorcerers Apprentice shop since my arrival in Leeds some ten years ago. I chanced upon it on a midnight walk and didn't notice the faint lettering on the now defunct signage.
Four years or so on, my best friend at the time who I had just met, lived on Burley Lodge Road in Leeds just a few hundred yards away Marabas's residence. Googling the street name one day revealed to us that the sinister exterior was far more interesting than we imagined.
We pondered his existence, whether he lived there with tattered cardboard blacking out the windows, light occasionally gleaming from cracks in the upstairs window, and a padlock on the heavy doors. We debated the ethics of selling rocks collected on Ilkley moor. We eventually ordered some small items from him by mail order, and marveled at the doors whenever we passed by.
Some research revealed his previous shop had existed at Hyde Park corner, but had been firebombed by Christian extremists during the Satanic ritual abuse craze of the 80's. Chris Bray spoke openly about his beliefs and opposition to the unfounded prejudice directed towards magical beliefs at the time, which I felt was a brave and unselfish thing to do regardless of whatever stance you took on his rock-peddling. Further research revealed that he published the Lamp of Thoth magazine in the 80's, a delightfully anachronistic revival of a magazine published by the Society of Dew and Light, who operated in Keighley at the turn of the last century. One of the members of this group was Daniel Murgatroyd, whose grimoire and magical equipment were recently up for sale.
Two years ago I was introduced to the love of my life when a mutual friend was sick of listening to me talk nonsense about magic and thought it would be better directed at him. The first thing we spoke about was Chris Bray and the Leeds chaos magic scene.
Much has happened in between then and now, but we often speak of the shop and its owner. I wish it wasn't mail order only so we could visit and pay homage to the true magic of Frater Marabas, whose thread has been weaving a beautiful pattern through our now interconnected lives.