Don and I met in October 2003 at a Dionysian ritual hosted at a local Pagan shop called Raven’s Flight in North Hollywood (the shop is now long gone, but well remembered). I moved to Los Angeles in March 2002 and was finding the city’s immenseness overwhelming. I had a difficult time finding friends or building a community because LA was sprawled. Let’s face it, sometimes Pagan communities are a challenge to find. On a friend’s recommendation, I went to the ritual at Raven’s Flight.
I arrived early at the shop and talked with a few acquaintances. At the time, I was studying Western Paganism and Magick. I had no clue what else to read as I was in the midst Ellen Cannon Read’s The Witch’s Qabalah. I asked a friend if he could recommend a book on the Qabalah. “Sure!” he said. “But I can do you one better. I’ll introduce you to DonaldMichaelKraig.”
He said the name so quickly; it didn’t register. He motioned me to follow, and we headed into the store. There was a man that my friend introduced me to and said I was interested in studying the Qabbalah. I’m sure something was insinuated that Don could easily answer my questions. Don laughed, thrust out his hand and said, “Hi! I’m Don.”
Over the next few minutes, he and I chatted about what I was studying. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, I had no clue who I was talking to. He didn’t seem to mind. I told him I was reading. I can’t recall how it came about, but he ended up showing me his book. I was dumbfounded. I met an author. I worked in publishing and always loved meeting published authors. I understood the effort that went into writing a book and getting someone to pay you for it.
Don and I chatted after the ritual. I found out he was a slight of hand magician. I remarked I loved that kind of magic. He said, “We should go to the Magic Castle.”
I should mention there was a pesky young man that was attending his first Pagan ritual. Of course, he drank too much. Of course, it was a Dionysian ritual where sexual vibes were bouncing off the walls. Of course, he got overly friendly with me. Of course, my acquaintances wouldn’t believe me when I said he was more than insistent and pushy with me. Of course, the drunk kept insisting we go out to my car to make out.
So when Don asked if I wanted to go to the Magic Castle, I was assuming it was something along those same lurid lines.
“What is the Magic Castle? Your bedroom?” I blurted out. Instantly, I remembered a PBS documentary I had watched recently, and I realized that the Magic Castle was an amazing private club for stage magicians. I was horrified to think I had just insulted this nice, handsome man and had ruined whatever we just built up.
Don laughed. It was a rich, fully, belly laugh. Even his eyes seemed to laugh.
I immediately apologized, and he dismissed it all with a wave of his hand. It was funny, and I eventually laughed a bit at myself. Something I would learn to do in the years to come with Don.
We continued to talk a few more minutes when my self-confidence took another nose dive. I decided I should stop monopolizing his time and leave him alone. I took a step away from Don when I felt a hand on my shoulder. A voice whispered into my ear, “No, you need to stay here.” I looked around, but no one was there. I was puzzled. What just happened. Still, as I talked wit Don, I felt the presence standing there next to me ensuring I didn’t go anywhere.
That night, I asked Don to be my boyfriend. Truly, I asked him to pretend to be my boyfriend, so I get the jerk newbie to leave me alone. Don was gallant and rose the occasion.
At the end of the evening, he escorted me to my car and kissed me goodnight. We made arrangements to meet up the next weekend at Ellen Cannon Reed’s memorial service at a UU Church where I was attending. Indeed, our first date was at a memorial service. But that’s another story for another time.
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About the Author:
Holly Allender Kraig Helton was with Don for over 10 years and married for a bit over two years. She and Don shared many adventures together. She’s got lots of stories to share as well as Don’s unforgettable wisdom.