If Coyote taught me anything in my life, it’s to never be a specialist. Being a jack-of-all trades has its benefits, and it’s much easier to avoid stagnation and being stuck in a rut. Coyotes themselves aren’t specialists, they are immensely flexible creatures both genetically as well as socially and intellectually. They can function in small packs or large, or completely solitary. They can scavenge, they can hunt. They can adapt to almost any environment. The pressures put on them by humans and the ever-changing environment around them only seem to aid in their transformation. They are indeed a very alchemical creature.
There are advantages to being a specialist, just as there are advantages to being a jack-of-all-trades. Just compare a hunting coyote to a hunting jaguar (which, the two do share overlapping territories in South America and formerly states like Arizona and New Mexico) and you can see which one is the more specialized hunter. However, there are also advantages to adapting oneself in multiple areas at once–of the two animals, which one happens to be endangered, and which one thrives despite the pressures put upon it? I’m going to throw the breaks on this metaphor for now though, because it dances dangerously close to lauding one totem over another, which is certainly not my intention nor my focus.
Steering back on track, my focus here is that, as a totem, teacher and even godform, Coyote has taught me that it doesn’t benefit me to stay in ruts. This is especially true of my magical and shamanic practice. Sticking to the tenets of my primary totem, I always make sure to keep myself constantly flexible, so that I’m able to evolve and adapt my practice, and my mind, as often as possible.
I’m backlogged on the things I really want to write about in here. Part of this is being highly engaged with things going on in my life right now (not a bad thing), but also needing to become more disciplined in handling time and other such things. Procrastination happens to be one of my weak points.
It’s Thanksgiving here in the U.S. Today I get to reflect on all the things I’m thankful for–which are a great many things, really. I do consider myself a very wealthy person, even if I do have the occasional moth or two fluttering out of my wallet. Given the way the economy has been, I’m surprised–more like thankful, that it isn’t a swarm. See, when I look around me, and see oh, not the material things, but the emotional, how can I say I’m not? Yes, I’ve got a great many struggles to overcome, but the fact that I seem to be moving forward instead of backward should speak for something, right? I think it does. The material wealth pales in comparison to one’s emotional wealth.
Technoccult posted a good article on the nature of forgiveness which is a good thing to reflect on today. Well, at least for me it is. I won’t deny that I have a habit of holding grudges, and some of the latest work I’ve been doing involves cutting myself free of those grudges, or transmuting them into something else. This is an ongoing process of course, and I will say with no shame that there are some people in my life I will not be able to forgive, that I even have feelings of bitterness or hatred towards. These are normal human emotions that, instead of being confined or denied, should be acknowledged for what they are, and worked through without condescension or shame. Because sometimes “just getting over it” isn’t enough.
In that, I am thankful for the person I am today. Looking back in time at the angry ball of rage I used to be, I’m surprised everyone around me hasn’t flown the coop already. Man did I have some issues. Well, I still do. But I guess it depends on what and how I choose to transmute those issues into. If life gives you lemons, you can either make lemonade or squirt it into your enemy’s eye, but whatever you do, never content yourself with just sucking on bitter juice.
On that note, I’m going to gorge myself on food. For all those reading who live in the States and/or celebrate Thanksgiving, hope your day is a plentiful and peaceful one.
A very important question, one commonly missed in the melee that’s grown in the wake of the Prop 8 passing.
I plan on becoming more involved with the Human Rights Campaign. Its a great group to get involved with, and I’m going to sign up for volunteer opportunities and such. Since I live close to the DC area, this would work out quite well.
While I’m here, setting up a separate blogroll/links list of activist groups and organizations I support would also be helpful, too.
Lately I’ve been reading Patrick Dunn’s Magic, Power, Language, Symbol: A Magician’s Exploration of Linguistics, and it’s by far becoming one of my favorite books (my list of favorite books keeps getting longer, it seems). It’s given me quite a bit to chew over, and this isn’t going to be my last commentary on the book. But something he mentioned really stuck out with me, specifically as it relates to some of my earliest forms of magic-working which I initially referred to as “playing pretend with myself”, which I later augmented to a form of ritual-working or “sacred make-believe”. This technique he talks about is called derive and is mentioned in an article called ‘Beneath the Pavement, The Beast’, written by Stephen Grasso in Generation Hex. To quote Dunn:
Derive (pronounced approximately “duh-REEV”) was originally a way of integrating artistic sensibility with the environment, by deliberate derangement of the senses and drifting from locale to locale as if they were unfamiliar or alien.
Just recently I can recall doing something very similar to this, in my travels to Germany, were everything was unfamiliar to me in a very direct, literal sense as well. But, seeing as some of the specific places in Germany I was visiting had ancestral or symbolic ties, I also saw it as a very magical and very, hm…to take a page out of Patrick Harpur’s book, diamonic quality to it, in which multiple layers of awareness and multiple levels of existence were overlapping. This was especially apparent in my trip to Kassel-Wolfhagen, my ancestral hometown. Even the beginning plane-ride into the country, flying from west to east, and back again a month later from east to west, held for me very deeply symbolic connotations. Dunn goes on to say:
The practice of using derive for magic is not entirely in line with situationist principles, such as they were, but it does provide a means of regarding the world not as an alien piece of art but as an analogue to the astral plane.
This seemed to hit the nail right on the head with some of my previous practices, things that started out simply as pretending with oneself (something I did often, as I was a bit of a loner as a child–something that seemed to bother the adults more than it did me), and which I later became to call “sacred make-believe”, if for nothing else when I realized early on, at least subconsciously at first, that these sorts of “quests” or “missions” had very real impacts on the world around me. And still do. That said, I do like the term derive much better, and I get this funny sort of feeling when I realize how giddy it makes me when I find words to pin to things.
I’ve always enjoyed this more active role to astral-journeying, a way were one can interact on many different planes at once. Then again, I’ve always found myself a threshold-creature, never really keeping both feet in the same place at any one time.
I am deeply moved by his speech. I guess some people might wonder why I’d post this here. As a transperson, and a person in a binational gay relationship, I guess the proper question would be, why not.
Mostly for my own notes, but I figured whoever reads this might be interested, too. This originally came from a publication that my partner was studying for one of his classes. He posted the quote into his private LiveJournal, and I’m reposting here to share.
“In Neoplatonism, the bond of love forms a correspondence among all things, a “common relationship“ that allows the equation of love with magic. As Ioan Couliano states, the relation between love and magic depended on the analogous relation between microcosm and macrocosm, the “structure of cooperation” between “the world’s parts.” Marsilio Ficino writes in his Commentary on Plato’s Symposium on Love that “from this common relationship is born a common love; from love, a common attraction. And this is the true magic.” Extending Couliano’s discussion of the relation between love and magic in Italian Neoplatonism to include its implicit political dimension makes it possible to envison the manipulation of the cosmic hierarchy from the middle of the social ladder. In other words, the Neoplatonism of both Castiglione and Ficino suggests that the courtier may control the prince through “love,” the representation of their interconnection that he hopes to turn to his advantage.
Representations of Elizabeth’s sovereign Chastity contained the magical assertion (with its distinctly religious overtones) that the queen occupied an intermediary position between God and her subjects as well as between nature and mortals, as the means to assert her divine power. And on occasion, she was not simply an intermediary, but pictured as God himself.”
(Susan Frye: Elizabeth I. The Competition for Representation. New York, Oxford 1993, p. 110f.)