My Miraculous Month of Magical Mambo

Sometimes the night was beautiful
Sometimes the sky was so far away
Sometimes it seemed to stoop so close
You could touch it but your heart would break…

May is my month. I was born in it and I think it’s maybe likely that I will die in it. And this particular May has chosen itself to be special in my life; at the end of the month I will begin hormone replacement therapy.

Lately I’ve also begun a more robust set of magical practices and we are living in a house on beautiful land that a year ago we barely dreamed might be possible. I largely attribute this to an incredibly successful sigil-working which I named “Kevin”(I don’t honestly know why). We are now in a rural enough area that part of the property is largely invisible to the only neighbors who might see it so long as it remains dark.

Not coincidentally it seems, that part of the yard had managed at some point to grow a rough ring of trees around it, so I’ve done some things in it to make it into our very own little “magical grove”. Perhaps also not coincidentally, just a day or two after I finalized my consecration of it, an acquaintance offered to send me a copy of Gordon White’s “Chaos Protocols” which, as a paying-member of his Rune Soup group, I’ve been feeling rather behind having not actually read.

Also I’ve been having various “coincidences” and other imaginary correlations pointing me in the direction of performing the “Headless Rite” for a few months now. The book arrived just a few days before the 1st of May. Just in time for Beltane or whatever else you choose to call May-day, which is commonly thought of as a time of thin borders between the spirit-world and our perceived “real” world.

Also also, I’d recently come across and been taken with the idea of trying out the idea of a month of ecstatic, meditative dance thanks to another acquaintance/connection from the same group.

In my mind these all correlated to an idea spawning and being decided fairly quickly after I received the book: I would perform a month-long fast and ritual, culminating with my beginning hormone-therapy on the 31st. A ritual and spiritual process of transformation preceding the beginning of my physical transformation. A liminal experience that would lead to a liminal physical reality.

As with many things magical, the process “began” working and building inside of me as soon as I made the decision to do it. That night I had an extremely vivid dream, which is rare in itself for me regardless; I only occasionally recall having dreamt at all during the night, maybe once every couple of weeks, and actually memorable ones only come to me a handful of times a year at best. I’ve only had dreams this vivid perhaps a dozen times in my life.

The content was also of particular note: I’ve been considering beginning a process of magical communion with my ancestors; in this dream I was spoken to by an ancestor. My mother’s father’s mother came and “woke me briefly” to speak to me at some length about her husband(my great grandfather). She told me about their relationship as well as his ancestry and revealing that he had covered up his native-heritage. According to my dream-great-grandmother, his mother had been a “Sioux-woman” taken as the wife of my twice-great-grandfather as a sort of trade or something for services rendered(she was a bit fuzzy on the circumstances) and it was tolerated in the rural southern-Iowa community they lived in because of his influence, although it was seen by most of them as somewhat beneath him. This would have been in the 1870’s probably. I’ve done some research and she would have most likely been Dakota or Yankton. Their son apparently managed through some help from his locally influential father and through intense civic-service beginning during his later school-years to avoid being labeled as “Indian” on census and other official paperwork, effectively “passing white”. In the dream I was shown several faded photographs of him and read me letters that he sent to her and to other people which she had retained, some of which mentioned this, and a few newspaper clippings related to his work in various social-clubs and playing in a community marching-band.

This was an intense beginning. I don’t think this means in any way that it would be acceptable for me to claim Native American heritage(culturally I’m definitely white) but if I am to properly honor my ancestors this information, and particularly having made contact with this woman(who’s personal history, incidentally, I know almost nothing of, other than seeing the picture of her that my mother has) is an important piece of the puzzle! Obviously I need to do a bit of genealogical work!

I continued to have semi-memorable dreams and actually have continuously since that night, which is a thankful relief to me(I’ve always felt vaguely left-out of the whole experience when people talk about them, since I have them so rarely).

On May 1st I performed the Headless Rite proper. It was chilly and I wore my spouse’s hooded-cloak, carried a purple candle, and the book for reference, and wore a headband of plain white with the words AŌTH ABRAŌTH BASYM ISAK SABAŌTH IAŌ written on it in black.

The ritual went as planned; I won’t go into it in depth as there’s not a lot to say: I felt remarkably disconnected through the whole process. Wearing a cloak and holding a candle between yourself an an open book tends to reduce the world down to those dimensions alone. It definitely felt as though it “worked” though, with a strong sense of connectedness to the Being in question as it’s temporary representative in that space here on earth and later as ambassador to the courts of the Four Kings.

When it was done I danced around the circle, hooded and cloaked, quite a whirlwind in black cloth, and after some minutes of spinning and jumping and becoming more and more… alive is how I guess I’ll put it, but also slightly dizzy.

In retrospect, I think I had read about doing part of the Rite blindfolded, which I hadn’t been able to find again when I’d looked for it so I hadn’t done it. But while I was dancing the voluminous hood kept slipping down over my face and so I semi-spontaneously decided to continue the dance “headless”; as the emissary of the Headless One, I myself would become headless. So I drew the hood down, engulfing my sight in warm shadow, then danced and spun, now aimlessly in the dark.

A few times I brushed up against the trees around the circle and it always felt like hands were guiding me gently to stay within it’s bounds. I also somehow never stumbled, despite the ground being muddy, rutted in places, and rather overgrown, since it had been raining extensively and I hadn’t been able to mow for quite a few days.

It may have been a bit reckless, but by the end, when I spent the last several minutes actually spinning around the circle like some kind of blind, mad dervish, I stopped and found that while I had thought I was near the bottom of the slightly sloping circle-grounds, I was actually at the top, exactly at the entrance.

Since that night, my dancing has continued unabated, despite once having my foot punctured by a stick(have been wearing shoes since then until I rake the circle) and despite rain and mud on several nights. The re-connection with my own place in nature seems to be the strongest effect, and occasional spine-tingling thrills for no apparent reason, which I assume is when spirits happen by.

On the third night it was raining and 44°F, so I went out and trugged around in the muddy grass as gracefully as possible for about fifteen minutes, touched the trees, laughed into the rain… etc, mostly trying to work through the process as quickly as possible so I could get back inside. Just a sort of spiritual check-in. One or two steps before leaving the circle, I heard a rough male-sounding laugh from somewhere off to my left. There wasn’t anyone there(I can see very well in the dark), and though it was a bit creepy and the laugh was… somehow assertive..? I still had the impression it was more a laugh at me dancing in tights and a sweater around a muddy circle in the cold rain. I must have looked ridiculous, especially since I was rushing!

Tonight will be my tenth night dancing in the circle. Each time it feels more natural but also somehow as though it is bringing more potential into the world, even on the nights that don’t seem quite as intense. So that is my experience of the Rite and my ongoing dance working so far.

If anything particularly interesting happens in the rest of the month I’ll make sure to post about it, and I’m quite sure that I’ll post about my doctor’s visit and beginning hormone therapy. I expect the rest of MY month will remain eventful.

PS: I don’t actually remember how to Mambo, tho I did learn it in a dance-class long ago; I was looking for a 5th “M-word” for the post-title since I was born on the 5th of May that would be related to dance and the translation just fit so well

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Resistance is Useless

“Dark and difficult times lie ahead. Soon we must all face the choice between what is right, and what is easy.” ~Albus Dumbledore

I was trying so hard to put off or avoid writing a post about politics.

This blog isn’t really about that: it’s about parenting, and magic, and my struggles with my own weirdo personal issues as someone who is very much the “outsider” living secretly in the middle of “normal” folk. Nearly no one reads it. And somehow I’m kind-of hoping nobody reads this either. Gods know that there are thousands of think-pieces out there, from more popular writers.

But I can’t really avoid writing it all out anymore. Politics has become unavoidable, even in my own “safe corner” of the internet. For the record, in case anyone wonders, I am an anti-partisan, mostly pacifistic, social-anarchist, professionally-closeted trans-person, with numerous “progressive” friends, living in the capital of a U.S. state that tended towards conservative politics before this election. This year swept all major state offices into that category. My parents are serious evangelical Christians and I know many of their friends from when I used to attend the same church. I inevitably have friends and professional contacts who are therefore fairly conservative.

While some people have the luxury of avoiding those they disagree with, I do not. So, especially given who I am, Political liminality is unavoidable. As a Vogon guard once put it to some rather unlikely heroes being carried along towards certain doom, just for trying to survive:  Resistance is useless!!!”  Well, maybe it isn’t useless and maybe resistance is exactly what we need, but that should beg a question with a less-obvious answer: what are we actually trying to #resist?

Politics, whether we like it or not, is a manifestation of ideas and opinions that people actually hold. So unless you are one of the stubborn few who are able to completely ignore politics(how do you even manage it? I’d be impressed if it weren’t part of the problem! also, you’d best stop reading this post!) then you realize that at this point in history, getting political is a nigh inevitability.

We’ve been chucked into the air-lock. Time to write-up an improbability drive so the story can progress with our heroes still… resisting! In our present reality resistance has yet to be proven completely useless but only if you actually think and consider what need to be confronted and done carefully.

Unfortunately, the lousy/unhelpful opinions have been rather louder and more popular lately than the ones that are practical and useful. Probably because they are easier than what really needs doing while providing enough of a sense of action to let people pacify their consciences.

There are some things that have been coming up and voices of reasonable, if difficult I’ll post a short list of the useful ones that I’ve seen recently:

  • Echo chambers are the same thing as putting your head in the sand. Pull it out and listen to the people you disagree with and even the ones you hate because you can’t fight for useful change if you don’t know what you are actually fighting against, or who you are actually fighting for. More than half of my liberal friends fall into this category, in one way or another.
  • There’s plenty of blame to be placed on plenty of people. We do not now, nor will we ever have, a shortage of blame. Much of what is being said about blame is well-founded, much is not. It doesn’t matter which is which. Blame is detrimental to a nuanced understanding of what is happening and therefore to practical problem-solving.
  • If you think things are suddenly bad now, you are wrong; they were already terrible and this is simply a manifestation of that in several ways. Try to look back over the past decade or two and think about what has lead to all of this. If it makes no sense whatsoever, then you’ve got a massive blind-spot or two somewhere that you probably need to look at and see about filling-in.
  • America is no more racist or prejudiced in any other way than it has ever been, which is to say, that it always has been. It’s just displaying it more openly. If this surprises you, again, you almost certainly have a blind-spot, probably from living in a privilege-induced echo-chamber(see above). If you don’t have meaningful interactions on a regular basis(several times weekly) with people of colour, “rainbow folk”(as I prefer to call us in the LGBTQIA+++ alphabet-soup), immigrants, or people from minority religious groups… or if you avoid talking about issues that are pertinent to those aspects of their lives, then it’s obviously past time to start, so you can know where they are coming from and how your ignorance might have contributed to it.
  • Just because someone voted for an agenda that the media has roundly deplored as racist doesn’t make them racist. Often it means they are ignorant or brainwashed or just focussed on different issues and dismissive of “overzealousness” they have been culturally trained to dismiss. Given the sheer number of people who did this, but voted in the immediate past for the “other side”, we need to be raising our eyebrows and examining the reasons why. And also why that is so surprising.
  • Actions speak louder than words. It’s clear that the time for merely sitting around on the internet and complaining about problems is long past. The irony in making a blog-post about this is not lost on me at all, but I’m mostly doing this to get these thoughts out of my head so I can get on with pursuing some kind of useful action. Being an “ally” is all well and good, but only if it means more than just wearing a pin(which anyone can do, regardless of whether they are a real ally or not by the way). Real “allies”, acting from a place of privilege to help facilitate meaningful social change will need to be involved in actual volunteer capacities if real change is to occur.
  • Sometimes words can be actions in one space, but not in another. If someone rants about how terrible something is to people who agree with them it doesn’t count for anything. If the same person instead explains how bad that same thing is to people they know who are part of continuing that problem then they are doing important work. A good rule of thumb is that if you don’t feel discomfort or fear of social repercussion in standing up for something that needs to change, then you almost certainly are “preaching to the choir” and it doesn’t count for anything.
  • Both actions AND words can be damaging if done without proper examination. If you try to persuade people of something, but it’s not the right thing, then you are distracting from the real point(probably because you don’t know it from being stuck in an echo chamber). That’s just words. Riots reinforce stereotypes, and without any practical aim, do nothing to advance practical solutions. Protests and rioting are often totally called for, but I’ve yet to see a single coherent explanation for what the ones going on right now are meant to actually accomplish! Anger and frustration with a broken society are completely understandable, and can be useful if not diverted or hijacked. But when they aren’t guided towards practical and effective change they make it more difficult to find actual solutions. Both ineffective words and actions can and are widening the rifts in our society. People who might otherwise empathize and support practical change become alienated. It also vents anger that desperately needs to be channeled into pursuing real change. While violence can sometimes be an answer, directionless/generalized violence and protest isn’t.
one-does-not-simply-like

That goes for social-ills just as well.

Ok, that’s enough listing. But look! There were some good thoughts up there! Don’t blame! Listen! Gather information from all sides! Use it to work together to deal with the real underlying(not superficial) issues!

There’s actually quite a few people saying these things, in various ways, across the internet. So despite some well-intentioned people spreading bad ideas long with the good ones, there’s a lot to be hopeful for; a ray of light through the darkness of confusion and fear.

There’s one key tho – we can’t just sit around.  An awful lot of us have been resting on perceived laurels. It seemed like things were getting better, but that was really just the illusion of our social echo-chambers amplifying the things we wanted to hear and drowning out the sounds of ongoing trouble and oppression. Whether it be from POC’s and LGBTQ+’s who are in danger both physically and economically, or WASP’s making the terrible mistake of falling for Trump’s propaganda because they are drowning in debt in the “Rust Belt”, we need to listen and realize that, even if we often act as enemies because of competition over economic resources and socially induced fear, we all have the same arch-enemies. Those are the powers who have been actively promoting fear and division between us over every difference or mistake we have for most of recent history. The ones who literally feed on the products of everyone’s suffering and struggles and need those conflicts and struggles to continue for them to continue devouring our lives in the name of profit.  

We are all humans of various sorts, and until more of us start focusing on our shared needs and goals and laying aside the miasmic biases that fill our world and cloud our understanding of reality nothing will get better. Yelling about how blind the other guy is does nothing, and is an excuse to avoid confronting the things you have power over in your own life.

As Gordon over at Rune Soup puts it: “Become invincible, have better ideas, never give up. That’s always been the play. That is the play before elections. That is the play after elections. That is the play during tsunamis, alien invasions, and zombie viral outbreaks. It has not and will not change.”

~ The Song Remains the Same ~

I had a dream. Crazy dream.
Anything I wanted to know, any place I needed to go

Hear my song. People won’t you listen now? Sing along.
You don’t know what you’re missing now.
Any little song that you know
Everything that’s small has to grow.
And it has to grow!

California sunlight, sweet Calcutta rain
Honolulu Starbright – the song remains the same.

~ Led Zeppelin ~

Magic. Magick. Magik. Majick. Whatever. Ick.

Whatever it is, it’s interesting enough for people to get in dumb-fights on the internet about how to spell it. Personally I can never decide how I want to write it, because being silly with language is kinda a thing I just do. So if I switch between spellings as this goes on, please realize that I am just messing about with thoughts and minds with some playful absurdity. And if you are one of those peoples, I will kindly thank you to maybe try to loosen up a bit eh? Sure, maybe language as it relates to mage-work should be something taken seriously, but I’ve often thought that taking anything too seriously is the most obvious sign of being out of touch with reality! Coming from me… that’s a laugh.

So. What the hell is magick anyway? There are so many attempts at answering that question and I am here to tell you: they are all Right! They are also all Wrong!

That’s because the question itself is like asking “what is the purpose of human existence?”(perhaps awkwardly similar in fact). Magik is different for each entity that uses it, and since almost all humans use magic(most unknowingly), there are at least as many answers as there are people. That’s a lot of answers.

So I’ll share my ideas of it, and my theory about why it’s so different for everyone, and as the Bard says you may “Take it in what sense thou wilt!”

Magick is the process of manifesting imagination to re-create some aspect of Reality. That’s it. Nice and stupidly simple and painfully broad. Yep.

So many people get hung up on either the complexity or the simplicity and can’t get past them. In my experience though, the reason people get hung up on both is because of a misunderstanding of the nature of reality. People feel like reality is solid and coherent because that is the way their experience, and science, and modern western culture presents it; Reality is defined and those definitions can be discerned. So people see magical acts as somehow violating or bending the rules of reality.

This is only as true as we let it be tho, because we’ve got it a bit backwards; the laws and rules of reality are actually guided by magick on their fundamental levels.  The reason that seems backwards is because our collective version of reality is the product of generations of human magick(through philosophy, linguistic subterfuge, and theoretical science) attempting and in some ways succeeding, at pressing reality into a form-factor that is comforting and comfortable. This is not the case everywhere. Anyone who has been to certain parts of the world that are largely untouched by these ways of thinking(for whatever reason) can often feel a sense of “otherness”. Specifically an idea that somehow reality is different there. That’s because it truly is! Because as I said in my previous post, reality is much more fluid and mutable than people think.

This idea is frightening to many people. In fact that standard response of probably half or more of the population is to be simultaneously creeped-out and fascinated when they are confronted with bits of reality that are different than what they are used to. This can be anything from feeling completely overwhelmed with awe in St. Peters, to stark terror after following the pull to visit a local haunted house, to finding a waterfall hidden in a patch of woods in a nearby neighborhood and feeling like you’ve stumbled into fairyland. It’s because you are in a part of reality that actually is different and often hanging onto some connection to other, less-visible parts of reality. That waterfall probably matches one at the same “point” in fairyland. St. Peters is clearly connected metaphysically to the Catholic idea of Heaven. And the haunted house has a connection to a darker part of the spirit-world. 

But we aren’t here to talk about reality specifically. We’re here to talk magic! And mage-work only connects to reality in certain ways. Currently, because of the force of generalized human will, our overall tendency worldwide is to see magic as having relatively little overt impact on physical reality. This is certainly less applicable in certain cultural areas than others, but still; in effect those of us who practice what lay-people call magick are operating in a global dampening field, created by the combined will of every single bit of doubt and skepticism generated by humans on the planet. This suits a lot of people, particularly those who have Power over their fellow humans, because historically magic has been used for two prime purposes; to oppress and to rise-up against oppression. Because of this, it’s in the interest of those in power, particularly those who are more or less aware of the interactions between magic and nature, to manipulate people into disbelieving in magic, and thereby not only handicapping themselves, but also acting as a buffer against anyone or any thing that might try to undermine that power using magical means.

So generation after generation of humans have been pushing out thoughts and theories and ideas that say that we understand and that we are in control. That someone has to be in control! And because reality responds to human thoughts and ideas(through magik, particularly language and culture), it has been shaped into this seemingly definable form where humans will “eventually” be able to “understand” the complete nature of existence; where the supernatural doesn’t exist; and where human beings do not have souls or exist outside of their internal perceptions. And also where “someone” is in control.

Some  have gone so far as to suggest and believe that our human perception of our own existence is a biologically defined imperative and that all of our thoughts and actions are the product of our genetics and personal history; that free-will is an illusion that has developed because it’s evolutionarily adaptive in some way.

And I say that is total bullshit! If you want to believe that that is true about yourself then by all means, go ahead and believe that you yourself have no ultimate purpose and that even asking that question is just the result of evolutionary programming. Just don’t assume that this is the case for everyone else around you. More than one type of reality existing simultaneously isn’t just possible, it’s a foundational premise of logic! As integral as the idea that we share a world, is the idea that we each have an fractally unique and experience of that world, which can be observed as such by any other outsider(Entium varietates non temere esse minuendas – “The variety of beings should not rashly be diminished.” p541). Therefore because of our own perspectives we each inhabit our own, fully developed and unique world, within which other people come and go. No other person experiences that same world because if they did, that person would be us. We generalize that same experience to others to a greater or lesser degree, which is where we get empathy, and also the idea that our reality is shared.

This idea of a shared-reality is a Good Thing because otherwise we would all be completely self-serving and psychopathic! However, that doesn’t mean that we don’t also still live in our own little separate universes. Effectively, the best way of dealing with this is by not only accepting the existence of “Consensual Reality” but also by recognizing that sometimes our understanding of reality may be well and truly at odds with that version of reality.

As we’ve said above, The Powers That Be have a vested interest in keeping the focus on a single consensual reality that benefits them. But many people in the world do not believe or accept this. For some it’s because they are more in touch with nature and it’s various aspects, which can be incredibly abstract, fulfilling and yes, sometimes frightening. And for some it’s because they willfully reject the overarching and oppressive reach of that reality. And for yet others, the current version of reality simply chafes them in some fundamental way that drives them slowly towards madness(in my estimation, that psychic chafing is the primary cause of most mental illness).

That being said, realizing all of this, what does it mean and why do people not think in these terms?  The main reason is fear: it means that we have both a huge amount of control we didn’t think we had, and a huge amount that cannot be easily controlled. And who could blame people for wanting to avoid living in a scary version of reality that can visit unpredictable and often uncontrollable harm on them? The thing is, we already do.

What an understanding and practice of magic does then, is give us a manner of approaching that underlying and mutable nature of reality and gaining whatever control we can wrest over reality from those around us.

Personally I find the idea that reality is at least a little pliable to human consciousness very appealing, and the idea that I have no freedom of will whatsoever to be completely unacceptable. I think many people share that assessment, despite the seeming collective will of the Masses to define our reality in ways that only benefit an oppressive elite. Maybe that’s confirmation bias, but it’s also possible that our culture itself is subject to it’s own confirmation bias that has progressively restricted it’s own freedom of thought.

But I’m getting a bit off track into speculation; my point is that currently, within areas that fall within the realms of “Science” and “Rationality” we have a pretty staunchly defined and defended set of fundamentals. People believe they can know things in an absolute sense and that that knowledge can be clearly communicated to one another. 

Unfortunately for science and rationality, human beings throw a huge wrench into this system. On a day to day basis we recognize that we can’t know for certain many things about ourselves. If you ask me if I love my mother and I tell you yes, what do you think of my answer and why? Is your knowledge complete enough to form a judgement on my own secret thoughts? Is there even a single coherent answer to that question? How the hell are we supposed to define love, and would people who speak different languages have different answers to all of these questions?

Ok, then, let’s leave out the humans and keep it basic instead – let’s talk about physics; what is light and how does it work? Does the universe have size-boundaries(biggest thing/smallest thing)? What is infinity and can it exist? How does gravity work? Can we even trust our own senses? If we can’t trust our own senses, how can we understand anything about reality?

The simple answer to all of these is that there is no coherent consensus on any of them, and anyone who tells you otherwise is trying to convince you to believe their perspective over  that of their rivals. It’s all well and good to practice logical argumentation and skepticism, but it’s not good to arrogantly assume that you know better than someone else how they should think, or that everyone else experiences reality in the same way you do. That’s where prejudice takes hold.

However, as overwhelming as all of this sounds, in the overall scheme, it doesn’t matter: we keep on living our lives and dying our deaths and will keep doing so on and on, just as we have since whenever we may or may not have started in this whole mess.

And we are really pretty good at it! How do we do this? Well we come up with a lot of ideas about the way reality works and we teach them to each other and our children and whatever system seems to make the most sense is what usually gets used.

Magic is the process of manipulating those fundamental ideas to affect how we and other humans interact with our reality, and also how that reality will respond for us. It encompasses basically everything humans do; building a bridge is just as much of a “spell” as taking someone else’s hair and doing an incantation and some other hinky stuff to it so the person will fall in love with you. One is just more consistent than the other in our current approach to reality. If you believe a thing it’s more likely to work on you. If everyone believes it and says you should believe it, it’s unlikely to NOT work on you!

Now what people think of as Magick is actually what happens when people manage to undermine, defy, bend, distort, or otherwise manipulate the general human consensus on how reality is supposed to work. This is a lot easier of course if people don’t particularly understand how something works or if you are working in an “artisitic” system where the sciency rules of “how things work” are suspended by general consensus. Alternately it can be done by “tricking” other people and/or reality into forgetting how things are meant to work(at least for the duration of the “spell”)so that something particularly useful or marvelous can happen. After the fact people(including the practitioner) can believe whatever they want about the “trick” of it, because if it has worked then clearly it must fit into the overall paradigm somehow right?

So to put some kind of temporary wrapper on this so that I can stop rambling(and go to bed) I will summarize:

  1. Reality is really weird and squishy(duh).
  2. We try to function a lot as tho it isn’t because the alternative is difficult.
  3. Trying to make reality less weird than it is gives us cognitive dissonance.
  4. Our ideas and perceptions have a major impact on our own realities.
  5. Since our realities interact with others’, we have an impact on “shared reality”.
  6. Magic is the practice of leveraging our own understandings of reality to more effectively modify everyone else’s perceptions of reality.
  7. Reality changes. Possibly related to the above.
  8. Abracadabra.

And thus the spell is cast. And thus(and always) The Song Remains the Same.

A Primer on (My)Reality

My perceptions about reality are constantly evolving, and I think that reflects a reality that isn’t actually static. I think a lot of what we see as static or ongoing processes in the universe are only perceived that way due to modern human expectation. In the sense of cosmic time and space, do a couple of hundred years of scientific “observations” really prove anything other than that the last few centuries have had a few fields that were relatively stable as far as certain forms of observation? And of course a certain amount of bias in inbuilt into the idea that you are measuring for certain chosen things.

I also think that maybe human thought has a larger affect on reality than “quantum” effects when taken in aggregate; I think “magic” is a manifestation of human will on reality, but that for the last few hundred years most humans have been using their wills to make the universe more predictable and observable. So basically the fact that science has seemed to work better and better, and developed better and better tools for quite a few generations in a row now is because western civilization as a whole, and some elements of human culture on a more generalized global level, have been driving a narrative of reality that reinforces itself and makes reality more coherent and “rational”.

In other words, science and rationality are basically forms of magic which attempt to reign-in chaos and make it more understandable. I think that can be healthy to some extent but has gone a bit too far. Most early founders of scientific thinking were magicians and alchemists, and I want to get back to that sort of lovely fusion of wonder, magic, skepticism, and rational-insanity that has produced some really interesting ideas in all sorts of directions besides mere rationality.

The problem with a materialist perspective to me, is that a completely “rational” universe would be really boring to me, and possibly to most people. I’m definitely biased here, but I do think we’ve gotten to a point where more and more people are beginning to WANT to believe in the irrational, because the current setup for western industrialized culture and reality leaves so much to be desired. Be it in economic or spiritual senses, people don’t really like the main options that are offered to them, at least within the geographic area of “Christendom”. Interestingly that’s the same area that has been tied to western industrialized culture and I don’t think that that alignment is an accident. Culturally in Europe and North America there seem to be two ideologies(Christianity and Materialism) which have been struggling with each other since the Enlightenment developed in response to Christian corruption.  These two forces have respectively subsumed and corrupted numerous other independent ways of thinking or spiritualistic approaches which were once thriving, creative, and diverse. In my perspective that system of thinking is beginning to fail because humans can’t really accept a completely one-dimensional version of reality, regardless of whether that singular perspective is monotheistic or atheistic. That’s not really how humans operate on a deep-level. This is a manifestation of our spiritual understanding of the universe. We’re also sick of it because the culture that has gone along with this whole situation really sucks!

Now, I recognize that I could be wrong about all of this; it could just be wishful thinking. I myself am tremendously bored and depressed by the prospect of a materialist universe and/or western-style industrial economics, and to be honest, while I appreciate a few things about Christianity I feel basically the same way about that. I’ve always tried to maintain a certain internal skepticism for my own ideas because I think that’s healthy and valuable. But at the same time, given a choice between satisfying pure rationality and it’s exponents or being labeled as various forms of outsider or “insane” I choose the later. If for no other reason than it’s more interesting to me to be a crazy wierdo than a drone. I do try to strike a balance, which I get from lots of ancient philosophical and spiritual perspectives, which I think generally have a lot to offer that modern people seem to overlook as if we’ve moved past and somehow superseded them. I particularly utilize a lot of Taoist, Stoic, Buddhist, Neoplatonic, Animist, and Hermetic ideas.

Whatever a person thinks and believes though, I think it’s long past time to disabuse ourselves of the idea that those ideas don’t matter; with the collective will and cultural power of humanity behind it, any idea can and does impact reality. We need to do a better job policing ourselves and not just cruising along in the two crappy lanes we’ve been provided with.

It’s time for spiritual off-roading.

My own worst enemy

I have been struggling to write a particular blog post. The one about magic. And I’ve basically got it all figured out but… I can’t do it. Or haven’t been able so far. Nothing is final or absolute with me. Absolutely. The sarcasm grows strong.

So here I am, I’ve decided to just get on here and write because sometimes just pouring the jug of bullshit thoughts out through the keyboard is what it takes to get to the ones that aren’t quite a much bullshit.

Can you tell I’m frustrated? Other people get frustrated with me when I get like this and it just makes it worse; seriously I am more frustrated with myself than anyone else could possibly be!

It’s a bit odd actually. We’ve been accomplishing huge amounts in life; raising a child(and pretty damn well if I do say so!), almost have secured a home-loan, exercising regularly. The Spouse figured out that if we set a specific goal for exercise it will work much much better for getting in shape. So the goal is to train hard over the next few years so that we can complete their dream of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Which is a tremendously difficult, yet certainly achievable goal(barring accident or injury). So we’ve been hiking a few hours each day the last several of days. Which has helped improve our self-image already, as well as leaving me physically wiped out. And we are going to keep doing it.

I’ve also been back to enjoying flirtatious back-and-forth on my Twitter and exploring the world through all of the interesting people I follow on there. Very strange sometimes how you realize you know more about what is going on in the world than people who watch 24 hour cable news regularly. And much more accurate view too; biases are much more clear when people don’t feel some professional sense of needing to hide them, so you can read between the lines and form your own opinions more effectively.

Also have been catching up on my favorite blog/podcast about magic, which is largely how I sorted my ideas about how magic actually works, even if they don’t exactly line up precisely, that’s actually part of my worldview: nobody’s ideas should exactly match up because we are all unique entities in space/time/spirit so if everything matched up for even two people it would be… disturbing.

Anyway, need to go grab my lovelies from home and go vote in local primary-elections(probably the only ones that matter and certainly the ones where our votes have the most statistical impact!) so that is all for now. Tonight is my scheduled “writing night” so maybe this will have broken something loose and I can finally knock that draft into something like publishable format so it doesn’t just seem so much like the long, arcane, and vaguely argumentative piece it currently is.

 

Ta!

~K

An Incantation

We wend our Way between the lines.
Twixt East and West we stride.
The North and South mean nothing here
All borders stand aside.

The mental map humanity
Has lain upon this Earth,
Must be surpassed and overcome
For new thought to have birth.

The frontier lands of home and hearth
Are where our quest shall start,
To venture forth through spirit-sight
And enter realms apart.

So further up and further in
Our hearts and minds must flow;
Hind curtains’ shroud the back of stage
Where watchers’ eyes shant go.



**Re-appearing Note**: When I posted this, this note was accompanying and it seems to have disappeared for some reason. Anyway, this is obviously a magickal incantation. It precedes a short series of posts that will be coming out in the next couple of weeks about my ideas about magick and the paranormal and how they should(and often do) interact with our everyday lives. It’s a bit of a teaser, a placeholder, and also a motivator to keep me moving on this blogging adventure.

A Working in Progress

I’ve probably let this sit longer than I ought.

I have several mental differences from your average person. Of those, perhaps only one of those can be clearly labeled a fault(for which I am thankful). That one fault is my fairly regular inability to do things.

It’s not depression. I do sometimes struggle with depression, and it can occasionally put me in the grips of a period of inaction. But it just as often happens independent of any other depression-related issues, and often these periods have lead me into the worst periods of depression because I become so frustrated that it makes me feel useless. Thankfully it isn’t something that is a truly constant struggle, just a very common one, that strikes particularly hard when it comes to any creative work I want to do!

I have an acquaintance who has autism and has this issue, with a few differences, most likely as part of a package deal with their autism. They gave me the term for it though: Executive Dysfunction and simply having the term has let me begin to confront and deal with it constructively.

This is a pretty good summary of how this issue often plays out in academic areas. When I was in school I dealt with a lot of those issues simply by leaning heavily on my incredible gifts when it comes to academics. Occasionally my “procrastination” would be something I couldn’t overcome with a last-minute binge of writing, but for the most part, the 6-12 hours I would spend reading a couple of hundred pages of material researching, and then writing 10-20 page research papers, would result in grades in the solid B-range.

That was in college; in High School I really never had anything to work on last-minute that would take me more than maybe 3 or 4 hours of concerted effort(also always the night before, or sometimes finishing on the bus on the way to school). And while my school-mates have historically been jealous of my ability to get by with “so little work” I have always been jealous of their ability to actually spread that work out over time, and to avoid the stress of doing everything at the last-minute!

I made it though, and successfully graduated University with an Anthropology degree a few years ago. It did, however, take 12 years altogether to get my degree, due to an unfocused class-schedule that barely followed a coherent course of study, and because of dropping many classes that just didn’t feel like classes I could bother attending. Plenty of them seemed interesting, but for whatever reason I simply couldn’t persuade myself that they were worth going to. Looking back, I think it’s practically a miracle that I was able to make it through an entire Bachelor’s degree program, and I’m pretty proud for succeeding eventually. But it also seems like I wasted a huge amount of time that could have been much better spent.

I’m not using my degree now, except as an elaborate way to build credit by giving lots of money to loan companies. I could have learned most of what I learned in University from online courses and spending time at the library! Except that without the motivation of the actual process of going to classes and being “forced” to complete assignments I’m fairly certain I would have stagnated.

I’m not in school anymore though, and this issue manifests in altogether more profoundly troublesome ways now that the guidance of a specified life-course has been removed.

I have wanted to be a writer for many years. Originally the dream was to do so professionally. But being a “writer” requires you have to write. Not just dream up stories and characters and clever dialogue. Not just come up with ideas you think people will find interesting and innovative. All that is worthless unless you actually sit down and put it onto the internet, or into a word-processor, or through a typewriter, or write it out by hand. And as much as I adore the actual process of forming words into sentences to do the very real Magick of making other people consider or perceive things that they otherwise wouldn’t… it is very hard.

Simply sitting down and putting my hands on a keyboard with the intention of doing something creative(such as writing this blog-post) is often a tremendous struggle. I want to, but I will have a block on the actual act of starting. I know how to start, but I often don’t have the capability of actually doing it. Somehow if I’ve had the ideas it seems in my brain as if they should simply exist for everyone else to be aware of. And the Will to do anything to actually birth them into reality will seem comparable to actually birthing a child; how is it even possible when you think about it?!

And sometimes it’s like when I fill-in paperwork(particularly job applications) and I’m asked to answer fundamental questions about myself. It seems actively demeaning to me to record information for others that is available in the public domain. For some reason, my brain tells me that I should not have to go through this necessary process because it is somehow beneath me. Because for some horrible irrational reason, some part of me feels that since know what I’m thinking, then everyone else should also know the same thing.

Rationally I know these problems are absurd, to the point where it took a very long time for me to even realize that I have them. It’s not a problem “normal” people have to deal with so there isn’t a lot of language to describe it, aside from variations of “lazy” which couldn’t be more inaccurate. It often takes about the same effort for me to make a cup of tea or a sandwich as it does to go jog a mile or exercise for an hour, sometimes more, so really I work incredibly hard just to be a functional adult. I have declined to apply for jobs that I would truly love before, simply because the application was too much in some undefinable way and I was actually unable to complete it.

This has been a constant frustration, particularly in my writing. It is the creative thing which I am probably the most skilled at, and a favorite thing to do to relax… but only when I can start! And I need to do creative work because not having a creative outlet is one of the primary causes of my periods of depression!

Thankfully(getting back to the theme of the blog as a whole) I am a new parent! As part of becoming a new parent I’ve been going through my life and finding my weaknesses and things that are lacking, with the idea of changing them to be a better example for my child.

So in my mind I’ve been building a subtle sort of “spell” for myself. Now, when I do magick, that can mean many things, but in this case I mean I am reprogramming my own perception of reality. I use the energy and force for positivity and self-improvement that having a child has given me to enable me to think of these creative acts as involuntary actions required for properly living life. Specifically, I am hacking my mind to instinctively see creative expression as an integral part of proper parenting.

I do this programming every night that I sing the baby to sleep. I hack my mind every time I make funny voices, faces, and sounds at the little-one to help them gain some understanding of communication. I do magick every time I write in this blog so that my child will be able to understand what being a good parent and being a human whose soul is truly alive means in our life.

In the future this will only expand. As this nascent human grows more and more into their potential, I will finally grow into mine through using teaching and parenting to destroy my own barriers in life. Specifically because I have to be an excellent example for them to follow! I have no choice but to show them that we must express ourselves even when the deck is stacked against us. Whether that means society, economics, family, or our own minds, if we don’t struggle on for success then we’re just giving up the essence of life.

I do still have plenty of difficult days and weeks(this last week was particularly difficult creatively for some unknown reason). To make a cowboy analogy, sometimes the horse bucks you off, but you get back on the horse and keep riding, because otherwise you’re giving up on riding the open range.

And riding the frontiers of creativity, thought, and emotion is what makes us human. Without it, we are lost.

The Dualistic Distortion

Day and Night. Black and White. Left and Right. Wrong and Right(Ok, that’s enough rhyming). Chocolate and Vanilla. Happy and Sad. Optimist and Pessimist. Fate and Free Will. Body and Soul. Yin and Yang. Logic and Emotion. Arts and Sciences. Male and Female. Mine and Yours. Holy and Profane. Human and Inhuman. Man and Nature. Liberal and Conservative.

Us and Them.

Humans have a problem, which we’ve  ingrained in our cultures, and therefore, in most of our ways of thinking; we are addicted to binaries. Whenever we find a topic that has two significant components, it takes very little for most people to begin thinking of those two components as the only components.  Or at least the only ones that “matter”. So if “you” disagree with some element of “my” opinion then “you” automatically become associated with the other camp. Never-mind that maybe “my” experience is outside of your sense of absolute binary.

As I am writing this, I heard about the Orlando Nightclub Massacre which happened last night. Like lots of things along these lines, and maybe more than some others, the media frenzy and on a more personal level the human reactions to this are going to intersect with a whole lot of dualistic perspectives.

People are arguing over whether this was a hate-crime or terrorism(personally I don’t see a lot of difference). It’s being blamed on “Islamic extremism” and he’s being called a “monster” which are just different ways of making him into the dreaded “Them”; “The Other”. Except he was an American citizen, and he was the friend and family member of many people, who are also horrified and shocked that this happened. We need to look further to understand what really happened.

He was a human being with emotions and ideas that were as real as any others, and those are what drove him to commit this terrible act. In using the “Us/Them” duality we distance ourselves from understanding his motivations as a human being. It’s uncomfortable for us to realize that this is a very human act, and that any one of us is capable of being a “monster” in some way or other, because that potential exists in any human being. Which is scary and can make us confront our own biases and the evil within our own hearts.

And because understanding the underlying causes(not just the superficial motivations) behind such things is a necessary first step to confronting the problems with our culture and our society, that Othering that comes with a sense of dualism is actively harmful.

Another thing that is (very reasonably) being brought up is gun control. This is another incredibly dualistic issue where again, it shouldn’t be. For some reason this, like many other political issues, devolves into an extreme binary very quickly. “We need to take guns away from everyone so this can’t happen anymore!” says one side, while the other basically says “We should give as many people guns as possible so when something like this happens, someone will be able to stop it!”

Both of these positions are incredibly naive, and based on an instinctive reaction to take a “side” based on which mistaken extreme seems more reasonable to the individual making that false “choice”.

To those who want to arm “good guys with guns” it needs to be pointed out that without proper training in how to handle a gun, especially in high pressure situations, it’s very likely you’ll do more harm than good, with friendly-fire and the like. That’s not to mention how many people fail to follow basic safety procedures with guns. I say this as someone whose life was actually saved by a properly trained “good guy with a gun”(a friend of mine with his concealed carry permit who protected a group of friends from an armed criminal).

To those who want to start “taking the guns away” it seems pretty painfully obvious that black markets for guns will always exist, and that mass shootings happen even in countries that have fairly strict gun-control laws. Maybe not as often, but they still do.

I think we desperately need more flexible and nuanced ways of approaching things. The perspective that treats “compromise” on political issues as heresy is only a couple of steps away from the one that condemns gay people to death because their existence doesn’t jive with their religious or personal perspective.  Never-mind the political fact that compromise is the only thing that gets anything useful done in political democracies!

But I digress; this post isn’t directly about politics, because the fucked-up nature of our binary political system is a secondary problem. The arguments over abortion, over gender and sexuality, the arguments over gun-control, over big government versus small government, over use of military force versus pacifism, etc, etc, etc… they are all based on the fundamental cultural error of thinking that there can only be two real choices or opinions for most things. The same applies to arguments about religion(“our religion” v “everyone else’s”), international politics(“us/our allies” v “our enemies”), interpersonal/relational conflict(“men” v “women”), race (“black” and “white”)and more.

We do this even though, on some level, we know better. We know that categories like this are mental stereotypes that trick us into thinking we understand a vastly oversimplified reality. If a person takes a minute to consider what it would actually take to convince them(rather than some abstract Other person)that they should go and mass-murder a bunch of people, it will quickly become apparent to them that it would take a complex interplay of negative influences and bad experiences through life for a person to get to that point. People aren’t born “monsters”; even if humans have some negative predispositions, we have to grow into them to do something so fundamentally horrific.

The same goes for people who are less blatantly destructive, like politicians or the corporate psychopaths who are perfectly happy to bomb or starve those weaker than them for their own benefit, because their binary thinking lets them dehumanize others and value money/power as the measurement of “success” v. “failure”.

Or for that matter the parent who harms their child by teaching them that “boys don’t cry” or “only sluts dress like that” or “participation ribbons are for losers” or “only our religion is correct” or pressure them to follow the parent’s conception of “success”. This list is long, and these sorts of things all have underlying binary dichotomies that teach children to think in those terms, and whether they eventually accept those exact concepts or not, they are often trapped in that thinking.

So why do we fall into these ways of thinking? What is it that makes binaries so appealing anyway?  Should we try to reprogram ourselves as a species? Can we even do it?

Well a lot of these issues are touchy ones themselves in academic circles. Thankfully I’m not an academic, so I don’t mind just speaking my mind without hiding behind academic double-speak and technical language that’s about as clear as mud! [note: comment if you think I do this; I want to be easy to understand!]

So it really boils down to this: as humans, we’ve used binary judgements of situations and people to help us survive since we first developed rudimentary critical thinking skills(Academic writing warning!). All animals have some basic wiring that is tied into a “safe” v. “unsafe” binary judgement. Lots of us also have the “beneficial” v. “unhelpful” judgement as well. It(mostly) helped our species, and occasionally even individuals can do pretty well with it. But nature/evolution is a heinously cruel parent and doesn’t really give a shit about individuals; lots of people get screwed over by “survival of the fittest”, depending on what traits are most useful in the moment.

So we instinctively apply these fundamental dichotomies when it comes to food and mates. Which is all well and good(maybe)? And because we are extra-complicated animals, who have developed creativity and critical thinking, we’ve taken these tendencies a few steps further. We’ve gone and mutated them to “help” us make more complex judgements that aren’t as “simple” as, say, who we should have children with……

In other words, that instinctive use of binaries is a simple throwback to other basic binary decision systems from our deep evolutionary past. As I’ve already pointed out, they clearly aren’t capable of handling the complexity of human society, but people keep trying to instinctively use them anyway. And it’s not as though humans haven’t developed a couple of different methods for understanding and decision making. Plenty of those have mistaken binary ideas about reality also, but from a critical point of view, those can and should be broken down so that our decisions are more nuanced and reflective of the complexity of reality than simple dichotomies.

So to me it seems that if we can, we should. Since we have methods of approaching reality that are more reflective of that reality than dualistic “this or that” choices we should use them! If, in teaching change, we can prevent one person from going on a shooting rampage, or bombing an abortion clinic, or even just committing suicide, we should do whatever we possibly can as individuals to make that change happen!

What we need then is to make an effort, as individuals, as parents, and in whatever institutions we participate in, to teach and influence ourselves and those around us to be better thinkers and actors. Whether it is about the man who murders people at a gay nightclub, or about awful presidential candidates, or an acquaintance or friend who expresses an idea that seems distasteful, we need to try to understand them. And in understanding them, try to help the people we interact with(friends, family, children) to confront and bypass their own binary biases.

Only each of us working within our own spheres can change culture. It has to start like a snowball rolling down a blanketed mountainside, culture change happens with a few people compounding their influence through others and butterfly-effecting all over the world.

Certainly, there is always the temptation to boil things down because, unfortunately, lazy-thinking is comforting and easy.

But it can be interesting to break down and overcome binaries too. Once you start looking for binaries that don’t really make sense, you find them all over the place. And breaking out of them can really help in life; a clearer view of reality is just comprehensively useful, but it also means you avoid the stress of cognitive dissonance that crops up when binary thinking is confronted with situations that “don’t fit”.

And beyond self-interest, we owe it to our children; it is the one thing we can each do to help make the future a less-judgemental and partisan place.

It will probably even help prevent a few massacres and maybe even wars! So, maybe worth the cost of a little effort of self-betterment, and confidence that we can change the world?

I think so. Let’s do it!

A customary explication

Sigil3

Well, here we are. A blog. This has been churning down my brain-pipes for a while now. And if you are reading this then you are likely the curious sort who wonders about beginnings. First it might  help to read our “about us” page… ok, done? Good.

Now we shall elucidate this beginning more fully.

This blog has been a “thing that should be done” for some time now, but the real start for this final beginning(or perhaps transition) would have to be the sense of responsibility to do something that would benefit the  world my child will see after me. Perhaps that may be a bit lofty, but it has sprung from an idea our spouse had while pregnant with our child, which was to write “letters” to them so that when they grew older they would have a touchstone to their parents from the very start of their lives, and that this would carry on even if we should unexpectedly pass from life.

That idea quickly became fairly-uncommon emails to the little-one. It’s often difficult for us to make and continue habits. This blog will change that. It will be about Magick, and Learning, and Beauty. It will be about Trauma, and Difficulty, and Endurance. It will be about Madness, and Change, and Living.

Because while our child is now born, and growing at some kind of insane rate only comparable to other rapidly growing things, it may also be comparable in many ways to the changes which are occurring in our world. That change is going to be difficult, unpredictable, and largely unguided. Perhaps a few voices may have some positive influence upon it’s development, and if ours can be one of those voices, or perhaps be heard by those whose words truly are influential and have a small ripple effect, then we will consider this development an unrivaled success.

Perhaps more reasonably though, I think that this blog might serve as something of a guide-book and investigative exploration of what life can and should be like, at the beginning of, and in the midst of, these rapidly changing times.

Be prepared for  discussion of Philosophy and Magick. Be prepared for discussion of parenting. Be prepared for a bit of conspiratorial nonsense and predictions of the future. There will be some poetry and imagery which delve into trying to find the beauty in the natural and the mundane.

Basically, a narration of life in motion. This life shall not be still.