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the difference between magic and madness

  • Nov. 1st, 2007 at 7:32 AM
From this interview with Alan Moore:

Another way of looking at this is to say that every human being has their window onto the world, the window of their senses. You've got your mind and your senses. Your perceptions. That is your window onto the world. Now just as we look out the windows of our rooms and houses and Yeah we can't see the whole of reality outside. We can see the houses across the street, a bit of sky above them, whatever. We understand that there is a much wider world out there, but we can only see this little bit of it. Now, using this metaphorical window, a magician is trying to, perhaps, change the angle of elevation of the window. Or widen it. But change what that window can look at. At will. He's trying to tilt the window so it'll see higher realms, or lower ones. That's a magician. What's happened to a lunatic is that their window has been kicked in. So: they've both got the same flood of perceptions rushing in, but the magician has got a framework into which to fit those perceptions. The magician has got a little filing system called "Magic," in which he can put these various things into the drawers of it, and not be overwhelmed by them. The schizophrenic has just got cats with human faces talking to him, and strange shapes floating around the room, and voices in their heads and no idea where they’re coming from. That’s the difference between madness and magic.

Now to some degree, by its very definition, magic has to be kind of transrational. You have to go beyond the rational to take your first step in magic. So, they're both talking about the same territory. You have to be mad to be a magician, but you have to be mad in a controlled way. You have to be...deliberately mad. It's no good going crazy by accident! By then it'll be too late. Go crazy on purpose, in a controlled way, and you might find that you're getting somewhere.

i AM the Darkness

  • Nov. 1st, 2007 at 6:00 AM
smile kitties
So I haven't posted here in a long time. School and work and the standard excuses got in the way. Also, I've been keeping yet another spirituality-related blog, this one for a class. Honestly I don't know why I didn't think to just keep using this one for that assignment, but I didn't and I still don't want to. Blogspot looks more professional, anyway. But here's the latest post from there:

The other night I dreamt that a friend was being pestered by this freaky black demon?spirit?cat-thing with an overlarge head and a disproportionately wide mouth with very long, almost triangular teeth. Cartoonish, really, except that it was rather terrifying and occupying my friend's closet. She asked me to help her get rid of it and I had no idea how I was supposed to accomplish this. This cat was made of some serious stuff, and apparently fancied itself a servant of an immeasurably vast, ancient, powerful entity collectively referred to as the Darkness, with which I had in this dream been working for some time.

So finally, after a few fearful and unsuccessful attempts to roust the demoncat out of my friend's closet with a broom, I decided that the only other recourse was for me to invoke the Darkness and face the cat. And so I did, despite the fact that I was deeply concerned about the possibility that this thing would wipe out all traces of what made me me. I walked carefully up to the demoncat filled to the skin with this alien energy, my sense of self balancing precariously on a tightrope over a sea of Darkness sloshing in my brainpan, and stood about three feet from the closet in which the demoncat was hissing and spitting and showing off its many teeth and puffing up in a threatening manner. I said in a voice that was mostly my own, "Oh, little kitty, I AM the Darkness." And it flared up behind me, a tidal wave of the devouring black of space stretching into infinity, and engulfed us both, and when it was receded, the cat was gone, but I remained.

I think this dream was meant to reassure me, or empower me, or tempt me over to the Dark Side with cookies, or something. I suppose an underlying concern with invocation of ANYTHING was always the fear that it would take me over for always, because I don't have a strong enough sense of identity to fight for it, for control. (This was and is also the reason I refrained from serious study in demonology.)

Rage, my old friend, helped me get things done. I could move mountains when the red mist descendeth, because it meant action without over/thinking, and when it took over it left no room for fear or doubt, and I accomplished a lot of good because of it. But as I got older it left me more drained, with an unpleasant headachey feeling, and it was hurting people I liked, so I went to the anger management sessions that helped me chase it away. And so now I don't fly into screaming, flailing, violent fits at the drop of a hat, but I also feel empty, apathetic, dulled. The rare occasions that I did lose myself to that all-encompassing fury in the past couple of years, it felt warm and familiar, even nostalgic, but it still made me tired, and it was still more detrimental than anything.

Maybe I just want something to fill me again, give me that assurance, that drive. Maybe this Darkness thing, whatever it is, is looking for a friend. I like making new friends.

on death and life and the in-between

  • Jul. 25th, 2007 at 1:04 AM
ooh shiny
Maybe each life is like being in a room. You walk around the room, check out what cool knick-knacks are in it, rustle through the closet, take a nap. Then when you're done with that room, you step outside and the door locks automatically behind you. Can't go back to that room, but you can hang out in the next one for a little while. And each house is a different world. Eventually, dying is kind of like moving; you leave behind the things you were used to, but this new house will grow on you. And so on.

It's a fun idea, and a reassuring one. I might keep it.

It kinda sucks when someone you knew and liked dies and you don't have any solid beliefs on where this person has gone or even on whether or not there's anything left of this person to go anywhere as opposed to simply be a piece of broken down biomachinery decaying in the ground.

"He's in a better place now." What better place? How are you so certain? What quantitative evidence can you offer to assure me that this is so?

Is any part of faith not self-assuring bullshit?

Why do people keep leaving bulletin posts and messages on dead people's websites as though they're still alive and can read these things? Why do people visit grave sites and leave crap on spots where other people have died? Going out of our way to honor someone's memory as though anyone is watching. How much of this behavior is just to make ourselves feel better?

Survivor's guilt is a bitch.

(Funny how this stuff bugs me now, and when I was ready to punch my ticket early, I was happy just thinking that things would stop.) Too many possibilities, not enough to go on. Death is a tunnel, death in a train stop, death in an anthropomorphic personification, death is two bicycle police in Paris. I want to know where you've gone, Ronton; I want to know if I'll ever catch up.

Bah. I have a headache.

Jun. 19th, 2007

  • 1:25 AM
I follow gods: Brigid in the woods, green and gold and white in the grove with the stone chair carved with spirals, the oak throne wreathed with mistletoe, fire and anvil and sheathed sword; Anubis in the cool dark dry places under the moonlit sand, teaching the value of silence, of the spaces between the stars.

And I think I know what they are: facets, or archetypes, the unknowable given known forms. Inventions to which a mind shrinking from loneliness clings. And I know, or think I know, that when I see and speak to them and they speak back, it's only a pocket of my brain talking back to me in defense against the fear of being alone in my head, screaming into a void. And while there is a part of me that wants to be satisfied with believing in the warmth and lessons and good company, another part wants me to start making my own gods, naming my own saints. This is the part that is still afraid of claiming the godhood I wrote about before. I don't know if I can do this without feeling some measure of guilt.

My problem is that I don't believe in anything, not really. I wish I did. But I only pretend to believe in things that make me happy, and maybe some things that don't. Because I don't like the world as it is and want there to be layers, secrets, hidden things, mysteries. I want there to be something more, something to strive toward, something to make being here worth it. So far, I'm unconvinced that there is. So I pretend.

Anyway, I would make a piss-poor god. I wish there were more in me than war and madness, but sometimes I think that's all I am. Except when I'm by the sea, in a position to be destroyed by it, and then there's no room in me for anything but joy.

Adflatus / Revelations tarot

  • Jun. 14th, 2007 at 1:34 AM
I'm going to end up as one of those people with bookcases full of tarot decks and a deflated wallet. This time, I got Zach Wong's Revelations. Here's my initial reaction:

The Iffy
I read a review that said these cards are good for people with small hands. This reviewer writes lies. Lies, I tell you! Then again, I'm on a fruitless search for a tarot deck the size of playing cards. They're not HUGE, but I'll feel the strain when I riffle these. The cards are also just on this line of flimsy; not so much that I feel like getting them laminated, but enough so that I'll have to make a conscious effort to take care while shuffling. They just don't make 'em like they used ta. The symbolism is not as salient as in some decks; the images are sometimes tiny or so abstract as to be unidentifiable, which is when the book comes in handy.

The Spiffy
They're very pretty cards. Bold, vibrant colors in pleasing combos, stained glass stylized images, aesthetically pleasing characters. I have a hard time reading cards whose characters have blank or dead expressions; not so with Wong's, who have very expressive faces that help convey a lot of meaning. And the niftiest part is that the Revelations deck has reverse images to which equal artistic care and attention is paid as the upright versions. No longer will lazy or forgetful readers have an excuse to avoid memorizing reverse meanings--for lo, they can all be read right there off the cards! Oh, and the backs of the cards don't give away the direction the face is in, which is always a plus.

I think it's an excellent deck for beginners and veterans alike. The book contains interpretations of the cards and explanations of the symbols, along with directions for four spreads (none of which are the Celtic Cross). I have yet to give 'em a test drive; more observations when I do.


put that in your pipe and smoke it

  • Jun. 13th, 2007 at 12:15 PM
This is secondary-(or even tertiary-, I don't know)sourced because I am a Bad Scholar.

It's religion-related. It's allowed. Emphasis and parenthetical comments mine.

Did you know?

  • Of 32,000 verses in the Bible, only five directly mention homosexuality.
  • The Qur'an only directly mentions homosexuality once.
  • Leviticus, the book of the Bible which stipulates death for homosexuality, requires the same punishment for adultery, pre-marital sex, disobedient children and blasphemy. (A cup o' death for everyone!)
  • The Biblical Jesus does not condemn homosexuality.
  • The destruction of the Biblical city of Sodom was due to their mistreatment of strangers.
  • The Bible never condemns same sex marriage.
  • The Biblical David and Jonathan had a formal same-sex union. (I don't know which David or Jonathan these are. Anyone familiar with the big B and willing to shed some light on this?)
  • 'Traditional marriage' in the Bible includes polygamy.
  • No known sacred text forbids same sex marriage.
  • Very few sacred texts even mention homosexuality.
  • Hindu and other far eastern sacred texts do not condemn homosexuality.
  • Homosexuality is not unnatural, it is practiced (<changed the spelling here from the heathenish European version because I felt like it) by hundreds of species of animals.


    • Jun. 10th, 2007 at 2:01 AM
    Figured I might as well keep track of this kind of thing.

    As recorded on October 3, 2006:

    Those of you who read your Facebook newsfeeds may have noticed that I've converted to Gaimanism (and yes, that "m" is supposed to be there). This is not so much a religion as it is a set of spiritual beliefs based on concepts presented in Neil Gaiman's various works. That is not to say that I believe these things simply because it is Neil Gaiman who presented them—after all, they are not all necessarily his in origin; I believe them because I like a lot of these ideas.

    See, here's my view on religion: there is not any one faith that can claim incontrovertible proof of its validity. Not a one. That's why they call it faith. So I figure, if I'm going to believe in anything, I'd rather believe in something that I like, something that makes me happy, and something that makes sense to me. I've bopped around a number of spiritual tracts--Catholicism, various Wiccan trads, primal shamanism, Taoism, Celtic recon--and I haven't found anything yet that really fit. Which is why I've decided to design one for myself.

    Gaimanism can be different for everyone, and it will probably change continuously for me, too. But so far, here are the tenets to which I adhere: My GaimanismCollapse )

    And at the same time, I'm down with Philip Pullman's description of a Republic of HeavenCollapse )



    Jun. 9th, 2007

    • 2:35 PM
    The more I sit back and realize just how much of what I prescribe to is a social construct, the more I feel simultaneously frustrated and liberated.

    The value of a thing is not predetermined by a great Creator. Gold over brass, diamond over cubic zirconium. Human beings apply values to everything around them, but values change. Social norms fluctuate with every generation, with every era. The things that matter only matter because we make them matter, because we want them to or because it's easier to go along with the people who say they do.

    We create our own realities. Dig our own graves.

    I think if more people realized that, they would feel a lot less confused and helpless and afraid. On the other hand, maybe that's what some people are afraid of: having to take responsibility of their own lives. After all, if we're our own gods, then what use would we have of others? And maybe a godless universe is too lonely to contemplate.

    Jun. 8th, 2007

    • 1:03 PM
    Recently (and by recently I mean in the last two years), I've run into a streak of extraordinarily good luck. Everything I truly wanted, I would receive. Furthermore, in difficult situations I tended to remain unconcerned, encompassed as I was by the unshakable belief that events would ultimately play out in my favor. For these reasons, I would jokingly say that the universe conformed to my will, or that I might possess some small divinatory power after all, or that my sheer arrogance was sufficient for my assured success.

    All the time, I was a bit worried that I was turning out like Achilles from Orson Scott Card's Ender's Shadow series. He thought the universe was handing him his victories on a silver platter, too. Destined for greatness, he was. Crazy little megalomaniac.

    But I've recently (and by recently, this time I mean in the last ten minutes) read this article, which has made me think that maybe I wasn't too far off the mark. The sides of the Witches' Pyramid, after all, are To Know, To Will, To Dare, and To Keep Silent. I'd heard or read it a thousand times before, and supposed I understood it in theory, but I had never before fully realized just how effective this whole To Will business could be.

    Now I do.

    It's really, really cool.


    • Jun. 8th, 2007 at 12:28 PM
    giving tree
    Hooray for yet another new topic-central journal! I shall be using this one to keep a record of my spiritual journey, or intermittence thereof. Here's where I've been so far:

  • 11 years as a Roman Catholic
  • 4-ish years as an Eclectic Wiccan with heavy leanings toward Celtic and generalized Shamanic trads
  • 4-ish years as a nondenominational pagan
  • a little less than a year as a self-professed gaimanist

    Recently, though, I've been describing my spirituality as "Bwah? ::throws arms up::" I've looked into a number of the more "traditional" paths under the grand umbrella of paganism, along with Buddhism and Taoism, but none of them have fit. I find it terribly frustrating.

    Not enough credit is given to the comfort and stability of being able to claim a nutshell. Two decades of ambiguous identity is quite enough, thank you, and for once I would like to be able to describe myself succinctly and accurately, to declare incontestable membership of one particular clique. In short, I want my damn nutshell. The other kids get one. I'd like one, too. For me.

    And so the quest continues for a single spiritual path on which to set my feet!


    i am the sea
    Hyena Tabu

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