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Sacred Make-Believe

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.

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