When we moved to Northern Germany, two gravediggers from my wife’s parish helped us move south just across the border. We had been denied our Family Reunification in Denmark and so this Priest and Wizard couple were forced to relocate to stick together.
My wife, who officiates funerals, and myself, who facilitates a course that teaches ancestral healing and working with the dead, were literally carried by graveyard attendants to the south and across a border during a Mercury retrograde.
Now, over half a year later, we have finally been approved to move home to Denmark and to the quiet village we call home. Interestingly, the approval news came upon Danish Liberation Day, a significant nod from the spirits during these tyrannical times, which also happens to be beloved Danish philosopher and father of existentialism Søren Kirkegaard’s birthday. This is especially significant to us, as he has always been important to my wife and I was reading him when I first visited Denmark at age 17- I didn’t even know he was Danish and I had gone on a walk by the sea when I discovered a giant stone memorial to him, blowing my little mind.
So standing here, looking at everything and the kitchen sync, and getting ready to move again during retrograde, I’m forced to ask myself, honestly; Is it different for necromancers?
It’s impossible to say how much of the following is because of any given factor, but I find the shape of it worth glancing at here. As someone who has debilitating ADD, I notice different frequencies of thought fairly acutely. In a similar fashion to the way a pure sativa will send your thoughts into an electric, active, bristling dynamism but indica will create a dreamy slow, hungry, smooth, deep river, so do I experience rational thought and emotional thought as high and low. One is in the head, one is in the belly and heart.
This experience of thought spectrum is useful. If I think too many thinky thoughts I get overloaded, my momentum spins out of control (what my parents would call getting wound up when I was little, which still feels right to this day) and this can be instigated by just too much sensory input.
So what I’ve noticed in MercRx is that those high frequency logic thoughts simply don’t get as loud and out of hand as they usually do. And that the lower frequencies are all dialed up. And I fucking like this.
If communication feels like too much of a struggle I just give up, stop trying. Feel things out in that lower register instead. That’s often the state I’m already reaching for in daily prayer, there’s just less static to slough off in Rx times.
I like it here.
So I’m just wondering, am I the only one? Am I the only weirdo out there who moves during retrograde, who prefers his thoughts to break down easily and communication to be forced into a more earthy, bodily modality?
And is this because I feel so pulled to working with the dead, or is my pull to the dead because of my ADD?
Two conversations I listened to recently got me buzzing inside in that way that most things don’t after a certain age. It was one of those ideas that takes your current mode of thought and crumbles it calmly in its hand and stares at you blankly, indifferent to your reactionary protests. The talks in mind were both featuring everybody’s favorite sex-positive theosophist Conner Habib (once on his own show with Alkistis Dimech and Peter Grey, the other on Rune Soup as a guest) and feature some difficult concepts relating to Rudolph Steiner’s work on a being called Ahriman. Now, I’m no Steinerite nor am I even well-versed in his work, however the characteristics of Ahriman are a matter I believe most of us can identify as alive and active in the world today. There is something about the personification and inspiriting-through-myth of these forces in the persona of Ahriman that somehow makes the task of grappling with such dark and mechanistic powers a bit more manageable.
Ahriman is a far older being than Steiner’s work, though his prophecy and interpretation seems to have pulled this being from the abstractions of ancient (or the reinterpretations present-day) Zoroastrianism into a practically-applicable contemporary relevance. Steiner’s vision of Ahriman is one of a being who possesses no framework or capacity for empathy or compassion, meaning there is a deficit in its ability to relate. For a being that is conscious and alive, having no ability to form a sense of realness or aliveness in relation to the Other would reduce the possibilities of interaction so acutely that self-expression would necessarily be limited to such truly meaningless and contextless acts as the application of force, increase of efficiency, volume, output, or any other factor which is void of a deeper relational meaning but have a visible, measurable, material impact on the world. Complex expression relies upon the way one identifies, relates, and adapts with the Other, therefore without empathy one would likely exist in a world where everything (and everyone) else is perceived as unconscious, un-aware. All feedback data relating to the nuance of well-being, coherence, sentiment, joy, pain, or trauma would all be purged as irrelevant and the being in question would never respond to cries of pain, unless these data indicated that they were disrupting its self-expression or efficiency, or could be employed as manipulative tools to increase these factors over time.
Now, if this shape is beginning to set off some alarms, bouncing off of literally everything you know about financial tycoons, late-stage capitalism, and the frenzied conversion of earth-matter into profit then I’d say your’re getting the picture. These tangible phenomena seem to be the impact of Ahriman expressing itself in our world via technological and human means, though as with the tyrannical uber rich who pull the strings behind the scenes- you can’t really fight these forces head-on, lest you find yourself destroyed by them, or worse, subsumed.
Regardless of which version you’re familiar with, the essential structure of the hagiography of Saint Cyprian remains in place. A powerful character, Cyprian, finds great gains in being capable of manipulating the world through the force of magic, presumably making his living and enjoying notoriety, but primarily the satisfaction of being somehow superior to others. A full commitment to being powerful enabled him to disregard other human concerns and become a magic-learning machine, until he encountered an anomaly. The faithful Saint Justina was able to thwart the very best of Cyprian’s sorcery with nothing more than faith and the sign of the cross, an act that should have, by his accounts, been impossible. This was far more than a simple defeat; this was an existential crisis. Cyprian had gladly given himself to the Devil in exchange for power and there had yet to be an instance in which this power fell short. This was a restructuring of Cyprian’s cosmology to include the impossible, to adapt to the idea that the most powerful being he had ever encountered may have been a small fry, and the subsequent awe and humility one cannot escape from following a reality disruption of this magnitude.
Now, currently we are experiencing Ahriman hard at work in zee fourth industrial revolution. It is mining all of our data, creating digital twins of us to be used in predictive simulations for social and carbon credit systems, predetermined education and career paths, advertising, law enforcement, military training and psyops, and the creation of new human futures markets which literally make us livestock. This means that as someone watches their marriage fall apart, or slips into addiction, or becomes suicidal due to the ever-unfolding consequences of lockdowns, job loss, foreclosures, closed businesses, and mysterious lingering health issues, every change in behavior from social media scrolling to their phone microphone may as well be the eyes and ears of Ahriman observing, learning, and formulating new strategies to make the world better (by force) through future manipulations. As stated, this isn’t the kind of thing one can wage war on, so what do we do?
And this brings us to Conner’s point about our human responsibility to humanize this being which has made its firm arrival into our world. We have an obligation to our realm to be a living example of that which is both irrational and illogical, but inherently human. Conner shared in those talks that he had come to understand that the only option is for us humans to grow Ahriman a heart. If we can’t fight it, and we can’t make it go away, logic dictates that we must somehow learn to live with it. This idea was the aforementioned hand that crumbled up my previous mode of thought and watched it sift through fingers to the floor. In the Rune Soup episode, he said he wasn’t quite ready for the task. And me neither, not directly. But it also got me thinking of practically how we would go about this work of offering compassion to an enemy. How do we do the thing?
We do this by defying Ahriman’s expectations. We find our center and we dig deep for calm and compassion when we don’t feel up to it. Like when we’ve been stuck in the house with the same person(s) for weeks at a time and we speak kindly when we want to scream. Like when everyone around you is a toxic mess who doesn’t deserve your respect and you give it to them anyway. Like when the future seems incredibly dark and we still find it in our hearts to whistle as we stroll, to lose ourselves in the resplendent joy of being. Like when a mechanistic intelligence from another world is invading yours and you throw a wrench in its gears by being the compassionate outlier, the factor that won’t behave predictably and selfishly. Because the anomalies will not be ignored by this being. When by all accounts you should break, but you don’t, it breaks the predictive logic of the machine. It suggests that there is another power at play, one it hadn’t considered formidable, or hadn’t considered at all. This power is very much invisible and it is an absolute mystery. It is the same power that Justina found in her savior, the one she imbued in the triple cross. The very same that thwarted Cyprian and the Devil thrice, the anomaly that makes saints of scoundrels and adheres that which would otherwise be desiccated. It is the power that restructured Cyprian’s understanding of, and relationship with, power itself. It is the anomalous expression of this power which will, over time, force Ahriman to include factors in its computations which it currently deems irrelevant. It is this power that saves us all, but is reduced by its compartmentalized verbal utterance, therefore I care not to say it outright here. It doesn’t need to be mentioned. It’s more of a thing to be done.
Over the past few weeks I’ve had to learn a hard lesson. My dreams could not be remembered, and my consciousness felt as if it were in a vice all night. When I awoke, my body was tense and I immediately went back into the hyper-vigilant trauma state that is following current events, as if hypnotized by a fear-based FOMO. This state felt somehow familiar, but not so much as to be pinned down to a specific memory or time, at least at first.
After a couple weeks of feeling completely disconnected from the spirit world both while waking and asleep, having no centeredness or gumption to stick to a daily practice as usual, I began to remember when I had felt this way before.
The first instance that came to mind was rather unsettling, as it was rather recent and should not, by all logic, have been difficult to place at all. It was during the BLM protests.
The others, which came a day or two later, were even more unsettling to have forgotten even though they were from further into the past, as they were a vast series of similar moments in which I was hopelessly addicted to a highly dangerous and weaponized stimulant.
So how in holy hell could these states possibly be forgotten so easily, unless they are a significantly altered state of consciousness? Perhaps a form of hypnosis? At any rate, what I had discovered was that, as a practitioner, I had the advantage of taking note of the metaphysics involved. What seems inescapably obvious to me is that I had somehow temporarily entered into a state of shock and/or trauma which, as the condition is extended in duration, usurps a state of normalcy, posing as base-line reality. This seems to force my consciousness up and into my head. There’s a sort of anxiety that develops around not thinking. It’s as if I truly believe instinctually that if my mind ceases its hyperfocus on a train of thought even for a second, I’ll simply die. Clearly, this is dissociation.
What happened after I unplugged from the news completely, and screen time almost entirely, for 24 hours was not what I expected. The state had only lessened by a few noticeable degrees indicating the state is less acute, and probably deeper and more cumulative than I had initially thought. After another 24 hours I began to dream again, though they could still not be recalled, and I could feel my consciousness connecting to my immediate surroundings again, not back to a state of normalcy by any means, but an improvement nonetheless. Which brings us to perhaps the most disturbing point for me.
Once the hypervigilant state had a chance to unwind a bit, the frequency of emotion and energy had started to descend to operational levels. This meant that the anxiety I had been dissociating from was now manageable enough to house inside my body again, meaning shaking, trembling, etc. And through this time what I’ve noticed is how often my mind keeps referring back to what news I may be missing, what disaster might be going on without my knowledge or involvement. And I know this pattern very well from, of course, crack cocaine.
So, clearly, what is happening here is unhealthy, fear-based, dissociative, and generally a terrible way to exist. And this is just what happens from following the news, both independent and left/right mainstream alike. And in a time where epic troubles are more plentiful than fish it has become exceedingly difficult to simply write off the horror stories as being “over there” or “far away” or “the kind of thing that could never happen here” or even adding “, again.” in some cases.
But what I’ve been having to ask myself the past few days is… so what? What if I miss the memo and I get wiped out by a meteor, or aliens, or autonomous World Economic Forum murder droids? There are many fates worse than death, a sentiment far more easily accessed by those who are not materialist atheists, but a True one nonetheless.
I consider losing my last few moments, weeks, years, upon this perfect and glorious rock trapped in a prison of anxiety, disconnected from the beauty for fear of losing it, to be a fate worse than death.
But then on the other hand..
I consider the loss of our lifeways and our friendships over fear of death to be a fate worse than death.
Part of digging one’s way through the rust and mud to a magical life is reaching back to those profoundly wyrd experiences which have occurred in one’s past but we’re potentially glossed over or not met with the same willing, open eyes with which one currently seeks the numinous. I know that I, personally, tend to find as much (or more) insight and inspiration from processing the accounts and experiences of other practitioners who I would consider to be peers as I do from practical texts. For these reasons I thought it would make sense to share another story.
I had just moved to New Orleans and was ironing out the kinks in a set of all-new songs using vocals, guitar, drum machine/beatboxing, synth, and base loops which I would record, layer, and mix on-the-fly into gritty indie jams. It would be my first performance in this unbelievable city as well as my first ever performance under my newly-chosen moniker, which was not just another band name to me, but a declaration of intent; a magical act that would have precisely undefined, but self-evidently real consequences.
Having spent eight-ish years prior to this in a locally successful five-piece band back in Florida, I had noticed that as our local popularity had grown, so had my wondering about the efficacy of what I was doing as a means for doing good. I struggled with the idea that many people out there dancing couldn’t hear the desperate cynicisms and ironic empathies within my words for the cacophony of booze and personal demons that always seem so empowered for most trauma and ghost-haunted humans when they find themselves wading through the swamps of social gatherings.
For me, the whole point of writing, composing, practicing, and performing music was to do something inherently good for others (it definitely wasn’t for the money), and while there were some who went out of their way to express that what I was doing really did mean a lot to them or helped them in some way, mostly what arose were meal-opportunities for personal demons and sickly social dynamics by means of addictions, both chemical and emotional.
So by the time I had moved to New Orleans this had all been fermenting inside for some time, and the trimming season I spent in NorCal that led up to my move provided plenty of time to ruminate away from writing and performing and that whole world. I was still pretty sure I wanted to make music as my primary output at that point, but I didn’t want the words to get lost anymore, and I needed to pinpoint the exact gears that made what I was doing helpful for others and focus on them.
So the tempo dropped and the sound became more moody and communicative as opposed to dancey, a choice that may have been an unknown cowardice on my part all along. And after an uncomfortable period of analysis and contemplation I began to feel that what I was really offering which was of-worth was the permission to feel anything without judgement that seemed to permeate the audience when I performed. When there’s a skinny drunk screaming his heart into a can up there, you, as an audience member, have zero chance of being the most obnoxious/ridiculous-looking/crazy/likely-to-be-hated person in the room, because that’s my job and you can be as weird as you like without fear. In my mind, that was so beautiful. A tiny martyrdom. A minor shamanism. And that became my answer.
Now that I finally knew what I was obviously supposed to do with my entire life, it needed a name. There is a concept a roommate told me about which I found on a Feng Shui website around that time called Sha. It was defined as harmful energy, the Chi that is present when people are angry or when a place has a threatening feel to it. Immediately I heard Issac Brock’s Ugly Casanova side project echoing in my ear “SHA SHA SHA SHAAAA” and it struck me as fun that these two contradictory feelings would be tied to the same three-letter word. But then it occurred to me that this idea of dispelling Sha was essentially the same mechanism of creating an emotionally safe place for the audience which I’d just, quite dramatically, identified as foundational to my craft, and the pseudonym Sha Sha Shaman was born.
Now, I feel I must contextualize that at this time in my life I had no magical education. I had my own occasionally-functional grassroots brand of Castaneda-inspired psychonautical shamanism, but my depth of study and practice was that of a teacup. An observation which is, in all honesty, still true, albeit nowadays a travel thermos may prove a more apt metaphor. The point is that my ignorance as to the cultural specificity and significance of the two terms involved, and the subsequently less-than-graceful appropriative line-walking contained therein, are not lost on me. My bad.
So back to the show, the first show under this declarative new name. I meant it to be just that, a pronouncement of my intentions to help, to serve, and to enjoy myself at the same time. I held a simple, small ceremony, which for me at the time was a pretty big deal, to commemorate the occasion before heading to the bar and I remember getting that hyperthick feeling in the air, one I was familiar with, but not yet intentionally. When it was time for my set I hurried to finish my beer and get another one, plus water, for the set and choke down a cigarette as I checked all my levels. Loop pedal work is absolutely ruined if your volumes aren’t dialed-in by NASA (or equivalent) and the dials on my pedal made it possible to adjust these, if necessary, while performing, however shoes were too bulky and socks too slick, so to do so required bare feet for the sake of traction. I tossed my shoes to the side and began to emotionally prepare. The sound guy gave me the go-ahead from his little booth and I remembered there was one little detail I had forgotten to mention to him which, to be honest, I cannot even recall now. So I intended to hop off the stage, take two steps to approach and deliver the message, then return to the stage and play a set so fantastic that they name a fucking parade after me. What happened was different.
I hopped down off the stage and was greeted, not with the familiar cold and sticky grime of a New Orleans dive bar floor, but with screaming pain from the arch in my left foot. I had quite literally looked before I leapt, but the dark of the bar and the beer I had been breathing rendered my best self-preservative intentions moot. I hopped on my good foot over to the sound guy and delivered the original message, too drunk to feel shame, and told him I needed to “fix my foot real quick.”
I sat in a chair and a friend came over with a cup and began collecting the dripping blood from my glass wound to keep the bar from becoming a hazmat zone, all red mixing with remnant beer foam. It was this moment that a man I’d never seen before, or since, saw what had happened. His eyes lit up and he walked very slowly and deliberately over to where my friend and I were sitting while praying under his breath and making the sign of the cross. He never broke eye-contact with me as his own eyes became wider and he dipped his finger in the blood-foam cup, which my friend still held, and continued to pray as he marked a cross of booze and blood upon my forehead and gestured as if to signify some sort of honor had been bestowed. I taped a bar napkin tightly around my bleeding foot and hopped back up onstage and played my whole set with that bloody cross on my head (and rather well for someone using foot pedals and having only one foot, if I do say so myself.) When I was finished the man was nowhere to be found.
In the months following this performance I would slide into addiction, a demon I knew I had within but had been effectively avoiding. It would begin a process that would take years, the process of being shaman-ned by the universe through the process of finding true bottom, dismantling everything that I was, losing most of my human relationships, and eventually overcoming addiction in a way that means true liberation, rather than the approach of institutional rehabilitations which hold as a core tenet the impossibility of that liberated state and offering treatment to the symptoms of a deeper, spiritual issue rather than the issue itself.
Looking back, I believe that this declarative ritual on my part, and the unpredictable mystery of the world meeting me halfway to significate the experience by means of a bloody forehead-cross barroom-baptism, was the initiation of that horrific but necessary journey. Sure, I could have white-knuckled it for the rest of my life, always having within me that desire for feel-good drugs above all other things, people, and experiences, pulling my consciousness partly away from being present and embodied and leaving me bitter about the banality of so-called normal human existence, but it’s unequivocally better this way.
I never would have been capable of maintaining the relationships I now have in my life, human and non-human, without that journey. I thought I was supposed to be doing what I was doing, believed it with my soul, and I was right about the structure, just not the specifics. I declared that I would give myself to the service of sanctity and the betterment of the Whole, and that call was answered with an intensive psychospiritual training program and eventual promotion.
For the time I have left on Earth as this self, I get to be fully present. I long for little that is damaging now, and I do not fear myself or my own judgement. I get to be whole. I get to be a husband, a mentor, and hopefully a father.
All this from a noob with a purpose.
I don’t want to sum this story up with some catchy little moral, because there isn’t one. But I will say that I don’t look at people who appear stuck as lost anymore, knowing that I seemed completely hopeless to all outsiders at certain stages in my life and would have probably slapped someone if they’d told me that one day my passion for music would migrate to spiritual practices. Paths don’t diverge in the wood on their own, we must participate in the approaching of the forks and accept, with open eyes and arms, the unfathomable possibilities we call to us when we act with meaning and heart. It is interesting though, to think that sometimes we may be auditioning for a much bigger role than we realize due to the potential in us that can only been seen at the current time, by spirits.
I just wanted to share, in case it reminds a reader of a time they need to go back and properly venerate within their own lives. These moments are our plot points, our nodes, and they simply can’t be shared or studied enough. For practical gain, yes, but also for pure enjoyment and fellowship.
It’s been a while. How have you been? I’m sorry I’ve been so bad about keeping in touch. It’s been a very strange year. I’m sure you can relate if you’re also human. I imagine we’ve all been going through some deeply personal experiences in myriad forms, both outside, and in, irrevocably blurring the dividing line we were taught to imagine separates them, and bringing a different reality into view.
So much has happened and I’ve been trying to sort out just why I haven’t written, which has opened up a fresh can of questions regarding the point of this blog and sharing things publicly, in general. The horrifying astrological configurations this year are reflections of tides and cycles in the causal, literal world; very real powers, in the face of whom we can only hope to appease, ride, or get out of the way. It would seem as though at times where we are collectively wading through the shit together, the sharing of personal experiences, trials, tricks, and triumphs would be exponentially more relevant and important.
So why then? Why has my gut feeling been that radio silence has been almost necessary for so long? Part of it is that my life has never been so good. Sharing that feels almost inappropriate when so many are having a terrible time. But with the difficult stuff, it’s been exactly what I said earlier: Personal. Which is exactly why I’m going to share some of it: Because I’m a little scared to.
I recently had some very intense and major “energy” work done that revealed something behind my left shoulder, on my back. A bubble pushing on my left back shoulderblade. Imagine a twisted balloon, the smaller bubble being a part of myself which I had, at some point, made a choice to cut off from the flow of my conscious being. As my practitioner friend and I isolated it with our combined focus, I began to notice that the pains in my arm, shoulder, and back that had been there chronically hurting for years, began to intensify and eventually lift off of my skin slightly. My friend then said they were seeing the aforementioned bubbles, then the small one breaking the seal and being reabsorbed into the larger one as a whole. They said, upon further meditation, that it was a big masculine energy that I had chosen to “turn in on myself” as a means of preventing the possibility of any output of toxic masculinity, and that while this was a somewhat noble action, this was not an healthy or sustainable flow pattern. They told me I was strong enough to hold it now, that I had earned it. They then told me to bring it into my heart chakra and “love it.”
My initial internal reaction was to complain that I wasn’t sure how to do that, but something in me took over and just did it. Then, for a moment, I became genuinely frightened having this agitated intensely masculine force burning and twitching in my chest, but I did somehow find the capacity to see it as a wounded thing and simply love it. This took a few moments, but eventually it stopped twitching, cooled slightly, and held a steady warmth. Then it expanded downwards filling the lower areas of my Orphic egg/energy body/whatever you wanna cal it. This sensation was truly astounding. It was as if I had anchored in to the earth and connected to a strength I hadn’t known in years. And it was about this time that I noticed my shoulder and upper back on my left side, a source of torment for over a decade despite numerous chiropractor visits, exercises, massages, and prayers, or more accurately noticed that I wasn’t noticing it in any pain. The source of that pain had been relieved. It was around that time I realized that I had been crying. It felt like I was embracing an old friend whom I not only thought was dead, but had altogether forgotten their existence. That was three weeks ago or so and my neck and back are still 90% healed, with residual tension and physical damage correcting itself as time goes onward. But those three weeks were no picnic.
It turns out that the part of me I reassimilated had not been encoded with any of the lessons or temperences I have been enriched by in the years since our disconnect. Imagine suddenly having a version of yourself talking to you in your head, commenting on fucking everything, and that version of you is ten or twenty years younger. The selfish, ignorant, destructive bullshit tendencies and worldviews of a younger you just haunting the living shit out of you. So what did I do? I talked to him gently every time and said “Look, we did it. We can do things this way now. Isn’t that nice?” And never once did he protest, but gladly and immediately re-patterned to the new, better way of being/thinking which was before him. This still took a few weeks, but the process is pretty much complete now.
So why am I sharing all this? Well, because I know as well as anybody that this sort of thing can be very difficult to believe sometimes, even when you’re in it. And perhaps my story or my ways of coping with something like this could come in handy for someone else. Or let them know they’re not crazy.
Also, because I want to start writing again. One thing that really helped me figure out what this blog is for was receiving the upcoming bill to keep the lights on here at reverendjanglebones.com for one more year. Turns out, it’s for whatever I want. And what I want right now is to do whatever I can to be helpful, even if that just means sharing what I’ve been wading through lately and hoping it lands for somebody out there.
I never much identified with other boys or men growing up, at least not any that I met in the waking world of direct and tangible consequences. Sure, I spent some of the countless daydreaming hours of childhood in roles that were decidedly masculine such as saving princesses or leveling battlefields single-handedly, but in most cases I was riding my dragon friend, exploring fantastic new worlds, hanging on every moment of my imaginal high-adventures and even in those hetero-boy dreams the enemies I was leveling were representations of phenomena I was gleaming from waking life observations about human habit and character, and the princess was almost always a swashbuckler like myself. It was not uncommon for me to imagine myself being saved by said princess-wizard or princess-witch, or even princess lizard-warrior-person; whatever I was into that week. I think it was about the intimacy of trust and surrender, more than anything; things I couldn’t find in waking life when I was young.
My brief foray into team sports was forced upon me and consisted of a constant barrage of the very worst of homophobic slurs and hate-speech and a whole lot of chewed-up sunflower seeds projectile-launched into my hair and face, all straight from the mouths of creatures who called themselves “boys” but seemed to me more like mistakes that we had collectively made as a species and a prime directive for birth control for future generations of forward thinkers. Yes, I was that cynical when I was twelve.
Years went by and there was a brief time when I thought it reasoned out for me to forego the title of “man” altogether. Gender-fluidity is an attractive creature. We are all a compilation, an unique master-cut gem composed of varying quantities of elements and minerals, forever blessed with striking the eye differently depending on the light, depending on the angle. In this sense gender fluidity is more honest and more accurate for every human person, but eventually it occurred to me that this distinction is only necessary due to the horrific reduction of “male” and “female” down to an harmful obtuseness, an archetype to which autocratic control of the idea is relinquished.
I mean to say that I could take a stance on the way “men” are overwhelmingly problematic by refusing to identify as one, but therein lies a failure on my part be active within the solution: I disagree with, and take offense to, the common conception of what a “man” looks and acts like, but when I choose to identify as something else all my efforts to re-pattern are no longer working towards the reformation of that definition of man. In essence, it’s just easier for me to abandon the man-ship than it is to fight that current and stand for a better idea of what men can be, how they can think of themselves, and how they can be nurturers as well as protectors. Hell, they can even still engage in psychologically healthy, culturally sensitive, well-placed violence when another man is giving us decent broheims a bad name, whether that be through physical conflict (which is another area seeming to lack an abundance of nuanced non fear-based analysis/thinking) or through strategic blog-posts and simply living well and treating others with respect and consideration (but with that secretly satisfying internal victory over all those who threw abuse in my general direction and expected me to become like them.)
I’m not asking anyone to change anything, to be clear. I just feel that this thought process has something worthwhile therein. The areas that need the most attention are the easiest to abandon, and I get that the concept of imagining a better male archetype is not a one-person job. It’s not even a one-generation job, but it’s one that inevitably needs to be done or I presume the collective spiritually conscious “we” will always be fighting the “men” in one way or another. We may not be able to change hearts and minds, but we are certainly familiar with working with ideas as living things. Perhaps that is an apt place to start. I’m not super comfortable with the versions of male archetypes that are running around in minds at-large these days and I’ll bet you’re not either, but if you believe like it do that the imaginal is a real place that is ever-presently interactive with the tangible, then we have a responsibility to start enforcing better ideas. If we abandon the masculine to the erroneous masses, we allow those archetypes to continue thrashing about throwing tantrums disguised as chivalry unchallenged and unchecked throughout the unconscious. We magicians have the upper hand in the realm because we know it’s real. Use it. Feed the good “guys.”
I know for myself Serapis has been a place to begin because, as it turns out in most cases, the fewer stories there are about a male deity the less there is to dislike.
I would love to hear about your own grapplings with masculinity in the comments. No rules just right.
Anyway, it feels good to talk about this. Because as much as I would love to just opt-out, the facts remain that I’m Man. Now it’s a question of how to nurture a non-toxic version of that and manifest it here in waking life as a collective activism and a living example to the emotionally underdeveloped, the testosterone-tweaked, and the just plain ignorant. Every domino that falls may knock two more down. Every time a decent man can show strength in vulnerability, he does the others a favor in striving for balance and providing an example. If enough of us acted as such, the tyrants could find no purchase on the climb to dominance.
It seems obvious that any time someone compulsively avoids an issue it’s because there is something present within or connected to the issue of which they are afraid or by which they’ve been traumatized. Sometimes that’s due to the action of others, sometimes our own foolish folly. In either case what we find is a partition between the actively aware self and some dark corner of the mind. It reminds me of instances where a parent loses a child and seals up their room as a sort of museum shrine to their lost beloved offspring. The rest of the world keeps changing with age and experience, but the room becomes an out-of-place fixed anomaly, which in turn can become a petri dish for less-than-pleasant phenomena. So too goes the shadow.
My first experience with my shadow was when I was 18 years old and in Florida. One of my best friends had stopped by, distraught over yet another argument with his long-time girlfriend (for eighteen year-olds anyway) who was quite clairvoyant, but had little control and was often tormented by her abilities. My friend and I decided to go to the beach, but at his request we drove an extra fifteen minutes to an access point we rarely frequented and parked far back in the dunes where the car would be hidden from potential friends driving by in our small town, where everyone (and their cars) were overly familiar and recognizable. It was no more than forty minutes later that his girlfriend came walking up behind us along the shore, now nearly a mile up the beach from the car, asking him if they could talk, as if there was nothing strange about any of this whatsoever.
After they had talked (for a teenage relationship’s length of time) I approached her about the only thing on my mind the whole time I waited: How the fuck did she know where we were?
Her casual reply when I asked her was, “Your little boy told me, the one that lives in your yard.”
Of course, I started to shake. Sure, this would have been urine-inducing enough on its own, but add to that my experiences within the month or so leading up to this conversation, the ones where I knew I was being watched regularly at night when I was out on the screened-in porch, and I was lucky to have nothing but salty air on my shorts. I had also, within the couple of weeks prior, experienced an escalation. I was getting rocks thrown at me from the exact spot it seemed I was being watched from; a stand of three palm trees and a wild patch of Florida brush beneath. And what’s more, I had also felt that it was most assuredly a young boy.
“He’s mad at you. He doesn’t want to be ignored, don’t be afraid of him.” She said.
Having zero evidence to the contrary, I took her advice with total conviction and much apprehension. I went home and I mowed that wild patch. And I put some potted jade and a couple trinkets down there, along with a lawn chair and an official address in which I fumbled over every word, terrified that the neighbors, or worse my mother, could see or hear me performing this seemingly insane ritual action. Nothing noticeable happened except that I felt a little more crazy. At least, until the next time I was out on the porch at night. Where before there was the thick fog of an ominous and envious gazenow it felt fine happy even, though still not entirely healthy or free of presence. When I looked over at that spot it felt like someone winking at me, still imbalanced, but no longer bitter and jealous for attention.
In the following year it became apparent to me that I had been attempting to separate from my inner-child because at that time in my life my inner-child represented a threat to my well-being. For me at that time, survival seemed dependent on the sacrificing of the inner-child for the sake of functioning in a nightmarish soul-sucking workforce when all I cared to ever do was create. Combine that with male adolescence in a social climate where toxic masculinity seemed an exclusive option and you have one sad puppy who doesn’t feel allowed to express any sadness. When placed in the proper context, nothing about any of this is surprising.
It fascinates me to this day that my inner-child was throwing rocks at me, having been twisted into a shadow by my miscalculated judgement and misdirected survival instincts, but that is exactly what happened. This was a special kind of experience. One where because others were a part of it, it cannot be unconfirmed in my mind no matter how much time or distance comes between me, here in the ever-living now, and the boy on that beach.
I wish I could say that I was suddenly adept at identifying and integrating my shadow, but I had barely yet begun creating it at that time in my life. Just as eventually the mother redecorates the bedroom and begins the arduous work of healing, so too have I now done so with more emotional trauma and self delusion than I ever thought myself resilient enough to endure.
All this leads me to the current climate and the question of ethical malefics. Allow me to explain, but first we need to take a slight detour that turns into an on-ramp. Come along.
Now, to anyone who disagrees with malintent, be it through magic, physical force, psychological manipulation etc.; How would you feel about someone murdering your child or partner? What about emotional abuse or manipulation? Are you actually opposed to retribution itself, or is it more the issue of losing yourself in the indulgence of revenge? What about real-time self-defense?
As was elucidated in the video this too is a symptom of the shadow, albeit a much more deeply seated one than with which most people are used to working. But that doesn’t mean some don’t dare to delve that deeply into the depths. Some have no choice. And I would argue, as Jordan Peterson did, that this can be one of the most difficult aspects of the self to dissolve and reintegrate and those who have done so are worthy of respect, but what’s more this seems the only possible way of accessing the realms of necessary resistance without falling into warped emotional reward systems in relation to resistance or violence. Retribution is not sononymous with vengeance.
What if you have done all that inner work, dissolution and coagulation, with aggression like I did with my inner-child? What if you’re entirely comfortable with your moral boundaries and know that when you seek justice it is not out of an imbalanced emotional need? Why couldn’t a release of justified rage be controlled and focused on an outcome that is an appropriate outlet for that feeling rather than repressing or redirecting it? Certainly I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone (on good days) but something like “Those who swore to uphold the law shall be judged by it.” certainly wouldn’t be putting anyone in harm’s way that doesn’t absolutely deserve it. Perhaps it has no effect other than being the correct place to release that anger, but perhaps that is okay too. If outrage isn’t properly worked through it will spill out into portions of our lives in which it has no business whatsoever, and if focusing that outrage back onto the cause through magic has even a slight chance of efficacy, then why the hell not? As long as it’s genuine and not some social justice piece for your own self-propagandization.
That last question was not rhetorical. I want to hear your thoughts.
Be safe out there and take care of each other. You’re irreplaceable.
In the first of at-least-more-than-one Venus retrograde posts, I’m doing a little dedication in hopes of remediation. Please enjoy this Lady In The Underworld-sympathetic playlist. I’ve been working on it since last friday. Most of these are a little on-the-nose in a very deliberate way. The idea is that we find ourselves contemplating her journey at this time while falling into the emotions of directly correlating lyrics and music. The experience becomes the offering.
Please enjoy. Or suffer. Whatever is best right now. I trust your judgement.
Habits. The bad ones seem to arrive suddenly like intruders in the night, until you begin to notice the signs of their presence dating back to before even so much as a suspicion stirred within. The good ones are trophies that didn’t come without a hard fight, but more like degree certificates than second place at regionals. The bad ones are the behavioral equivalent to Frankenstein’s monster.
It seems to me that most people find it more manageable to enact a strategy of self-indoctrination than reduction, intentionally attempting to cultivate helpful habits rather than actively prevent negative ones. It seems there is a resting (and rather unexamined) belief that if good habits occupy a certain portion of our conscious lives then we will have created an inhospitable environment for unhelpful habits to form, like antibodies. There are obviously cases where this is true, but generally speaking you are not a secure system no matter what you do. We’re far too complicated and too mortal for that matter, but especially in our minds which are forever an open system, even in quarantine.
Take, for instance, visualization. Any spiritual practitioner is aware of the vast improvements to this skill that comes over time, but what happens when this skill is plugged directly into constant thoughts of maintaining physical barriers and caution around all humans at all times? Reinforcing an imaginal bubble will put you in a cognitive one. What happens when the impulse to hug a friend is inextricably linked, through time and conditioning, with a guilt response? Are you comfortable with hugs meaning heresy? A failure to follow the cognitive and emotional consequences down to the depths of their seriousness is undoubtedly a side effect of materialist thinking. In official reality, the interiority doesn’t matter until it’s so unhealthy that it’s directly influencing the exterior world, typically though violence or dissent. The internal conditions that create these states are ignored or brushed aside, marginalized until they demand attention. Why? Because they’re invisible.
Yes, we’re apparently toddlers.
Each cognitive experience we have shapes us. We are a result of our lives, at least more so than the other way around, and even with the good habits in place we are being asked to intentionally create some very very bad ones at this time as a matter of civic duty. If not, you’re letting the whole world down and potentially a threat to the state. Yes, these bad habits are going to save some lives, but distance from other humans on a long enough timeline would be a conscious decision by the human species to put safety above literally everything else that defines us, safety that is entirely illusory from the start. This judgement call places the loss of human life as the worst possible fate imaginable. Death, the first and absolutely most natural requirement of life, is viewed en-mass by our society as the worst thing that can happen. Not the loss of our humanity.
This all stinks so heavily of a collective festering unattended fear of death that I’m worried it’s going to frighten the children. The problem is that the lack of peace made with an inevitable end causes all kinds of strange psychic and metaphysical phenomena to manifest in the intense avoidance thereof. These complexes are now being collectively shoved down our throats as we’re declared traitors if we don’t sing along.
You’re going to die. If you’re comfortable with that, then you have my sincere and total thanks. Perhaps trying to talk to others about death in a non-covid context could open doors to helpful discussions. Perhaps not. But isn’t it worth gently trying? Just remember the operative word there is “gently.” I’m also open to ideas here. Pease, by all means, leave us your thoughts. Donate a feeling in the comments section. No wrong answers, folks. Do you have any ani-SD tech to share with the class?
Well, I don’t know about you, but I just don’t give two fucks about living in a world without hugs. I’m playing along though, humming and cursing under my mask and reminding myself that there are a great many fates worse than death.
Hang in there and beware the mindfulness you’re not as mindful of.
There seems to be some strange assumption, when we think of old friends we’ve lost touch with, that they’re probably doing just fine. Maybe even better than we are. That was the assumption I was under when I heard the news that a beloved friend had chosen to end their life. I’m not telling their story today, as I am severely under qualified to do so. No, I’m only telling my own role in the strange events following this unfortunate end to a young and brilliant life: I’m telling the story of how one suicide ended up preventing another one through logic that is altogether non-human.
When I got the call that this friend had exited the material world I was still running ragged; 115 lbs wet, no hope, and a center-console full of empty baggies and broken crack pipes. Even through the fog of rampant addiction I very much felt the impact of this loss, though I did not have any capacity for facing or working through it at the time.
This was summer. The memorial, I found out, was scheduled for fall.
By the time the date was drawing near I had lost my entire world to addiction, moved back in with family, and accumulated six months clean-time. Getting to see that group of old friends and mourning with them was one of the most important events of my life, and to no surprise; our times together when we were younger were equally as significant. But that is not part of this story, either.
The best friend of the departed had a sister, and that sister and I had chemistry. Our conversation didn’t stop for several months after returning to our home states and towns, her and I. She ended up proposing to me, to which I agreed. It wasn’t the kind of thing where you know it’s a good idea. In fact, it felt a little silly even at the time, but my heart was telling me something very clearly and plainly throughout the duration of that relationship. My heart was saying “You’ll be sorry if you don’t.”
This is not the usual fodder my heart spouts to my brain. This was an anomaly. I’m used to a heart that yells out grand declarations while inebriated as others are trying to have conversation.
But then we fast forward to Thanksgiving a couple months later and she’s meeting my family. Fast forward to Christmas time drawing in and I’m getting ready to go spend the holiday with hers.
I’m nervous. I’m anxious. I know that it will all be okay, though, once I see her face and feel that connection that had been powerful enough to sustain me for months with a thousand miles between us. Except when I saw her, at home in this world utterly foreign to me, I noticed within the first few seconds that the connection was gone. Vanished.
I did my best to maintain, but she would not connect. She outright refused to. Here I am a few states from home, hours of bus ride from any kind of safe place, in the livingroom of a family I don’t know, and the woman that asked me to marry her only a month prior was treating me like an indigent phantom limb.
I spent three days in this living hell, all the while she maintained that nothing was wrong and that I was being, basically, crazy before finally ending things with a ten-cent breakup excuse and leaving me alone in an Airbnb to peacefully enjoy the walls closing in.
That night I almost relapsed. I wanted to. I could feel pure sorrow and anguish swirling around me in geometrical patterns. I felt so close very to God. I was not, however, going to let this bullshit steal my clean, so I mustered up the guts to call someone. Maybe the only someone that could have helped me at that moment, someone that I had known almost my entire life and with whom I had been through hell. Someone that never picks up the phone on the first try. But this time, they did. And they were so very good and kind to me that I made it through that night without doing anything stupid whatsoever.
The next morning I received a message from this old friend, the one that saved me the night before. We hadn’t spoken much at all around that time and you can imagine the surprise, the mind-melting gratitude, the reality-bending record-scratch that the following data incited.
As it turned out, the friend who answered the phone, the one I thought was saving my life the night before, was on their way to end their own life when they answered my call. If i hadn’t called them right then, as they explained, at that exact time and on that exact day, they would not be with us now, today.
I followed my heart when it didn’t make sense and someone truly precious to me still walks the Earth as a result. I guess I’m sharing this because we should all be aware. No matter what the critics say (and that includes the self): listen to your heart. You may be much, much more sorry if you don’t.