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When Tom McKeating's father died in late 1992, it was no surprise that the old man's last will and testament completely excluded his only child. The two had had very little contact throughout McKeating's lifetime, and, during one of their rare conversations, the father had pointedly informed McKeating that he was disinherited.
In the stuff of which great fiction is born, a peculiar event emerged. Though copies of the will were abundant, the original was not in evidence. Since the state of Washington requires an original will, the elder McKeating's attorney commissioned an extensive search. The attempts to locate the original will proved futile, and the state of Washington declared the deceased to have died intestate and his son to be the sole heir. The bitter, angry man, who in life had given him not a moment's love, affection, or even regard, in death was to give Tom McKeating the seemingly reluctant gift of the means to realize a persistent dream--the dream that was to be named The Guild for Hermetic Revelation.
The Guild, explains McKeating, "is a group of people that got together and decided it was time that we began to disseminate all this metaphysical and spiritual and psychic information for the general populace." McKeating admits that naming the group The Guild may have been influenced by his "long association with the Texas Renaissance Festival, the era depicted having been the Age of Guilds."
"Hermetic is essentially another word for secret, and of course revelations means reveal," explains McKeating. He suggests that what was once thought to be magic is simply a poorly understood body of skills that may be taught to any serious and willing student. "These secrets we don't believe should be secrets anymore," says McKeating, "and we're going to present them to the general populace as well as the metaphysical community."
Beginning as kitchen-table meetings in 1990, The Guild's high aspirations were thwarted by the limited means of its members. McKeating talks about his personal frustrations, "Even though my visions were extremely clear and detailed--I could picture The Guild in physical form and watch it in operation over a span of many years--I could not see where the money to get it going was available. I didn't have it. There didn't appear to be a magic benefactor in the offing. And, even though I was discussing the concept again with my friends and loved ones, none of them was financially capable. I was literally beside myself in my consternation and frustration."
Receiving his happenstance legacy in mid 1993, McKeating immediately set about materializing his vision. On August 29, 1993 the Board of Directors of The Guild for Hermetic Revelation held its first meeting, and on September 16, 1993 The Guild was certified as a Texas nonprofit corporation.
In an idealistic fervor, McKeating appointed all 21 staff teachers to the Board of Directors and declared all decisions were to be by consensus. Twenty-one directors for a new enterprise--definitely not an idea from the Harvard School of Business. Yet, 21 individuals repeatedly reached consensus on the multitude of details that demanded attention. It was not the last of McKeating's miracles; they continued to unfold.
The search for appropriate housing for the new venture was not encouraging. "Either it was too expensive, or it was too far," states McKeating. Resigned to the prospect of bargain space with a somewhat inconvenient location, The Guild began working with a new agent who took them to view space in a very central, very desirable location. It was another disappointment when they saw the space would require more construction than their budget would bear. Halfheartedly, they agreed to view a neighboring space that was being offered "as is."
"We opened the door and we walked in, and there was The Guild," states McKeating. He describes "this wide open 1200-squre-foot space for doing lectures and things of that nature and offices that were easily built into classrooms all around the perimeter . . . it couldn't have been better." The price was right, and no expensive remodeling was required.
The Guild is committed "to some pretty strict, financially sound business practices," states McKeating. "There will come a point," he adds, "when I quit loaning money to The Guild, and at that point The Guild has to make it on its own, because I'm not going to put any more money into it . . . I personally believe I'm going to get paid back most of it before the year's out. I have this tremendous confidence that this Guild is going to take off."
Despite the Guild's metaphysical direction, some course offerings are "non-metaphysical." Writer Chris Rogers will be teaching a course in writing skills, and Kenan Branam, with 33 years of television experience, will be teaching a course on creating video for broadcast, entertainment, business-to-business marketing or corporate training. Participants may even choose to create a music video, a documentary or a special interest home video.
Guild teachers, all of whom serve on administrative committees, as well as on the Board of Directors, are established in their chosen fields. Many are published authors, and most boast traditional format educations with an impressive list of college degrees.
McKeating will himself be teaching introductory courses in tarot and astrology. Other instructors include attorney Michael Boltz, Sat Kartar Singh Skahsa of the 3HO Foundation, author and well-known clairvoyant Wayne Blackburn, computer expert George Sofka, computer tutor and professional dowser Anne E. Dickinson, and nationally known portrait artist and former automobile interior designer Eve Myles. Along with their fellow teachers and board members, these represent McKeating's pick--the best and the brightest for an eclectic (Renaissance, if you will) mix of 42 class offerings in the broad realm of human potential studies. He recruited from among those that he knew to be "talented, technically proficient and dynamic."
In conjunction with the school, The Guild is sponsoring an apprenticeship program in which students may work for The Guild and its teachers in exchange for course tuition. The Guild's bookstore will stock rare and hard-to-find books and materials, as well as books that will be required in The Guild's courses. Future plans include a "Circuit Guild": Guild teachers will travel to smaller communities where the types of services and classes available at The Guild may not be locally available.
One of the driving forces behind McKeating's effort is the distant memory of an abandoned dream. "When I was graduating from high school, baseball was my prime love," he begins. "I was going to college at the University of Houston, and the Colt 45s were holding a tryout camp. I was a pretty good baseball player--hitting 300 or better in every league that I played--and I wanted to get married, too. I got married and never went to the camp. The possibility was there that I could have been a major league baseball player. I never tried. I beat myself over the head many years after that for never having taken the shot. I could have delayed getting married a month or two. I didn't do it."
"If I hadn't tried to get this thing [the Guild] off the ground," he declares, "20 years from now I would be beating myself over the head. I can't get over that 18-year-old-wanting-to-go-to-a-major-league-tryout thing. That's still something I didn't do. But damned if I'm going to give myself another thing to beat myself over the head with later on."
"In my own visions," states McKeating, "I see The Guild expanding to--almost a university as far as the school is concerned. It may take 10, 15, 20 years to get to that point, but if it's steady expansion, it's going to keep the life blood coming in, the new people coming in."
Tom McKeating, a data processor systems analyst for over 20 years, is a man with a dream--a dream that has taken life and breathes its first deep public breath on Sunday, January 9, with the Grand Opening of The Guild School & Bookstore sponsored by The Guild for Hermetic Revelation.