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The Relic Hound

April 14, 2009 Leave a comment

The Relic Hound

Totemic jewelry and tools, fossils, teeth, bones, antiques and antiquities, and other objects from the natural world. For the Pagan, animist, or naturalist at heart.

I guess you can consider me officially open for business. This little shop of mine has been running for a little over a week, and I’ve already made twelve sales. I’m becoming more confident in my artwork, and putting some of my knowledge of old and dead things to a good use.

Portion of proceeds from the sale of all artwork containing animal parts goes to nonprofits dedicated to animal rescue and wildlife conservation. You can find a list of places I’ve donated to on the main page.

I am also working towards paying off some debt, and building a savings for the eventual move to Germany to live with my fiancee and make our marriage legal. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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Call for Papers/Writers: Queer Magic Anthology…(title to be determined…)

April 10, 2009 Leave a comment

E-mail for inquiries and submissions: aediculaantinoi (at) hotmail (dot) com; please put “Queer Magic Anthology” in your subject line.

Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press (Stafford, U.K./Portland, OR, U.S.A.) is seeking submissions for an anthology on queer magic and/or ritual.

For the purposes of this publication, “queer” is primarily defined as anything of a non-majority sexual orientation (e.g. gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, etc.), or atypical gender identity (e.g. transsexual, transgendered, intersexed, genderqueer, metagender, etc.). Other things may be part of the widest understanding of “queerness,” including relationship styles (e.g. polyamory, etc.) or sexual practices (e.g. BDSM, fetishes, kink, etc.), and indeed magic, occultism, and paganism themselves (since they are “non-normative,” which is an agreed-upon definition of “queer” within many academic circles), but the focus of this volume will be on queerness particularly as it applies to gender and sexual orientation.

This is not an anthology that is intended to be about “personal stories of the intersection of magical/occult/pagan/spiritual identity and queerness,” but instead about queer perspectives on magical, occult, and esoteric topics especially, but also possibly the impact of queerness on pagan or spiritual topics (e.g. theology). Further, where and when these topics of paganism and/or spiritual identity and affiliation might be addressed, this is not an anthology about “coming out spirituality” (e.g. the idea that it is okay to be LGBTQ and pagan/Thelemic/Santero/Hellenic/whatever/&c.; “coming out” as ritual/initiation, etc.), nor should essays primarily be about how queerness of whatever sort gives one a better perspective or understanding on energy polarity or gender wholeness within any of these magical/occult/pagan paradigms (e.g. the idea that gay men are more naturally gifted, magical, or shamanically-inclined because they are more in touch with their femininity, etc.). The latter has been done to death already; the former is an important first step in these matters, but as with all Megalithica publications, the intention with this anthology is to go beyond introductory matters whenever possible.

Personal stories that are primarily about alienation from mainstream magical/occult/pagan circles because of one’s queerness are not the focus of this volume; if discussion of such is relevant to the wider aims of one’s essay, that’s fine, but having those wider aims is a necessity. If you want to do a piece on “queer love spells,” it would be better to address theoretical issues of how they’re different or in what ways their methodology is unique and presents challenges or enrichments, rather than giving templates or sample ritual/magical texts. Essays on how to adapt “non-queer” spells/rituals/practices to a queer context, or lists of correspondences and deities for particular queer issues, are not very desirable…unless they’re extremely innovative and unique!

Some particular issues of interest might include:

How does one’s queerness suggest different viewpoints on particular aspects, methodologies, or theories of magical practice?

Just as one’s queerness may give one more useful insights on some magical or spiritual matters, are there likewise blind spots that one’s queerness may cause, and how can one address those usefully from a queer perspective?

Are there historical precedents or particularly interesting figures in relation to queerness within one’s magical or spiritual tradition?

Are there any useful practices or texts from the past (e.g. the Greek Magical Papyri; mythological tales featuring queer figures; established traditions with queer themes; historical figures who were known to be what we understand as queer; etc.) which can be used today, usefully adapted, or mined for insights for use in the very different contexts of the modern world?

What are some magical methods or procedures that one might use to creatively deal with what are viewed as queer-specific issues, like homophobia/transphobia/etc., safer sex practices and education, forming and interacting with the LGBTQ communities, legal and political activism, LGBTQ rights and equality struggles, etc.?

Are there “pop cultural” and “multi-media” magical techniques (see Taylor Ellwood’s various publications for further ideas/information!) or practices that can be employed in interesting ways for queer folks? Ideas may include: use of personals websites/Craigslist for spell casting or divination; drag performances as aspecting/invocation; uses of cruising and the entire bar/club scene for ritual work (which can be rather edgy, and not always in a good way, but nonetheless it’s a possibility); using queer-themed literature and films as bibliomancy or interactive ritual texts/sacred drama (on the latter, think The Rocky Horror Picture Show as ritual/liturgy, but with other possibilities for the film that is the subject of the interaction); use of historical figures (e.g. Harvey Milk, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein), living personalities (e.g. RuPaul, Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John), or characters (e.g. Valerie from V for Vendetta, Sterling [Patrick Stewart] from Jeffrey, Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist from Brokeback Mountain, etc.) as archetypes or spirit/deity-forms/egregores/etc. for queer magical/spiritual work; and so forth.

What are the challenges that can be encountered with the interactions of LGBTQ people and non-queer folks in magical/spiritual communities, and (most importantly) how can they be overcome creatively? What are the challenges that can be encountered with having interaction with a non-magical/non-spiritual person in one’s personal life as a lover/partner/relationship, and (most importantly) how can they be overcome creatively? (By “overcome creatively,” what is meant is anything non-manipulative, non-triumphalistic, and non-resentful that can be done to address and/or alleviate the issues in a situation—which is to say, specific actions, not adoption of attitudes or viewpoints that run the gamut of “try to be open-minded, understanding, and compassionate; deal with people on an individual and context-specific basis,” etc., as the main resolution offered. These should be things that are tried and tested, not theoretical matters. In this type of essay, of course personal experience and sharing of stories are necessary, but if the one you’re considering does not meet all of the above criteria, it will most likely not be considered for inclusion in this anthology.)

…And anything else you might think of which is innovative, interesting, different, new, unique, fascinating, scintillating, wonderful, and fabulous that involves queerness of whatever type, and its relation to and intersection with the practice and theory of magic, occultism, and paganism/spirituality!

Requirements for submission:
Citations for all quoted, paraphrased, or otherwise unoriginal material
Bibliography for works cited
Format should be “Vancouver Style” footnotes—look it up if you are not familiar with it!

Do write in your voice! If you’re academically inclined or trained, feel free to be as intelligent and technical as you like. If your work entirely speaks in the first person about your own experience, that is also permissible, but please use a more formal writing style for as much as possible in one’s piece that is not quoted speech. Unless you do so sparingly, or define your terms (either in the main text or footnotes), DO NOT use lolcat-speak, text message speak, or anything else that could be considered para-English.

Rough drafts are due August 15, 2009. These drafts will be edited in a back-and-forth process with the editor. Essays should be 1500-4000 words, although if your work falls outside those limits, do submit it – we can discuss this during the editing process. Do drop us an email if you are unsure whether your idea fits into the content. The sooner you start the communication process the better, as after the deadline we won’t be considering additional ideas.

Compensation will be ($25) (paid via twice-yearly royalties from book sales) plus a free copy of the anthology when it is published and additional copies sold at 40% off the cover price to contributors. All contributors will be provided with a contract upon final acceptance of their essays, not when they are accepted for editing. If your essay is not accepted for the anthology, we will tell you after the first round of edits.

The anthology will be edited by Phillip A. Bernhardt-House. Phillip is the author of several articles (academic and non-academic) on religion, spirituality, mythology, theology, Celtic Studies, paganism, queerness, werewolves, and a variety of other topics, as well as a published poet, and is a Celtic Reconstructionist pagan and a founding member of the Ekklesía Antínoou (queer Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretist reconstructionist polytheism dedicated to Antinous, the deified lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian). Phillip’s e-mail address for this anthology is aediculaantinoi (at) hotmail (dot) com.

Immanion Press is a small independent press based in the United Kingdom. Founded by author Storm Constantine in 2003, it expanded into occult nonfiction in 2004 with the publication of Taylor Ellwood’s Pop Culture Magick. Today, Immanion’s nonfiction line, under the Megalithica Books imprint, has a growing reputation for edgy, experimental texts on primarily intermediate and advanced pagan and occult topics. Find out more at http://www.immanion-press.com.

Categories: news, paganism, Writing

A Few Notes on Weakness

This is moreso a follow-up to my post Falling Apart, Coming Back Together that I had been meaning to write, plus a supplement to my more recent Past, Patterns, and Keeping Silent.

To help me begin, I’m going to bring up Phil’s comment in the former post, in which he brings up some very good points. In order to help me compile just what I’m trying to say however, I’ll start off by saying that I too have chronic illness–in fact it was the onset of this chronic illness that tipped the scales when it came to my shamanic practice. I had leanings most of my life, but it was in 2005 when this thing hit, that the dam really burst open for me. I still have it. No amount of discipline, praying or “mind over matter” will ever make it go away. It’s here, and here to stay for the rest of my life. This doesn’t make me weak, or inadequate, and certainly not incapable of performing the duties in the path I walk. I walk a more ordeal-oriented path as a result–but this wasn’t my choice. Psychological scars also are present, and there are things, mentally and physically, that I will never “get over”.

Or, to put it this way: Certain things never will be gotten over–and no one should ever expect you to.

Sometimes it is only in the presence of injury, disease and related hardship that true knowledge can fully blossom.

In fact, this is one of the reasons why I always detested and despised the New Age drek The Secret or the Christian Purpose Driven Life, or otherwise related ‘name-it-and-claim-it’ philosophies. No matter how skilled a magician you are, or how hard you pray or how disciplined you are…shit happens. It just happens. It’s what you do with that shit, what you transmute it into, that matters.

Phil’s quote in his one reply was quite handy in this:

This is where the idea of lycanthropy as a disease can be useful. If you let it control you, and it is the master, that’s the bad situation where you have amnesiac werewolves who go on killing sprees. If you can control it, and use it most productively, let the beast out when it needs to get out and so forth, then that’s a position of true power and mastery, and it doesn’t involve squelching it or conquering it, or getting rid of that disease either (which is something one rarely sees in films and such…).

Of course you can apply this to a wide variety of ailments, but the general idea is there. And I think, for the moment, I’ll leave you all to ruminate over that, because my ability to form intelligent words right now is drastically flagging at the moment.

The Past, Patterns, and Keeping Silent

April 8, 2009 3 comments

In looking back through my childhood (not an easy thing to do), I realize that I had all of the (stereo)typical behaviors of a magician and shamanist in the making. Traumatic events, both explained and unexplained. My brain was wired differently–so differently that I was consistently medicated for it from the age of seven, and reminded of it for every day of my life. I didn’t start actively trying to make friends until college, and even then, I wasn’t very social. I’m still not. As far as practitioners go, I’m very, well…solo.

Though unlike some, I was very underwhelmed when I began reading about magic, paganism and the occult back in my preteen years. It all seemed to describe to me things I knew already, or was already experimenting with. I somehow didn’t seemed too incredibly surprised to find others doing the same, though I was surprised to be able to connect with like-minded individuals who fit that niche. When it came to the occult and the paranormal, the big thing that really surprised me was that a thing like “otherkin” and “therianthropy” existed outside of my own little island of being. The honeymoon period with that, however, is long since over. I no longer actively seek connection between peoples that fit those two descriptors, simply because most of them are merely trying to escape from themselves and the species or world they were born into. I have no commonality with the false, the damaged, and the confused.

It leads me to wonder why I deal with the occult or animistic community at times. I can’t really say I deal with it as much as some–I am virtually inactive on most social fronts aside from my writing. But the patterns I seem to pick out most readily is the glorification of the bullshit artists and “internet shamans” that float around out there. The ones that are glorified for their fanciful storytelling, name-dropping, pity-partying and attention-seeking through their traumas (which, they feel, is an automatic badge for the practice of shamanism). Although they claim to be healers and to (desire to) help others, in the end they help no one but themselves–if you can really call it “help”. The people they surround themselves with are nothing more than yes-men, psychophants and enablers. But amongst these people are those who, I was astonished to find, are actually reasonably intelligent people. It stunned me to think that people who were so smart could be duped by such high school grade behavior. It wasn’t until I read Daniel Pinchbeck’s Toward 2012: Perspectives on the Next Age did I find out that Carlos Castaneda had actually duped a fair amount of professors who even had studied the Yaqui culture. Suppose this thing could happen to someone regardless of intelligence, though it leads me to speculate why, and how. The essay within the book, “Shamans and Charlatans: Assessing Castaneda’s Legacy” is well worth the read and relevant to this part of my rant. In fact, Reality Sandwich has some great essays in general on a variety of topics.

But it’s one of a few reasons why I step back, or remain on the periphery of what people there call “community”. I was never much a social being, which is kind of funny you think, coming from someone who claims strong alliance to canine archetypes. But witnessing this sort of thing is a turnoff towards community. The bullshit artists, the spindoctors. Plenty of people can write books and still be completely incompetent, and just because you’re popular doesn’t always make you right. I’m also a private person, and the extreme freedom by which occultists and shamanists share in gross detail their experiences is beyond me. I hold strongly to the clause, “To keep silent”, or as Christian Sedman in Generation Hex puts it:

We could tell other people straight out, but of course the minute you talk about magic–the shit you’ve turned into gold–is the minute it turns back into shit.

But hey, at this point you’re thinking “Well hey Solo, you do write about magic, right? Yes I do. I love doing so. I want to inspire people, or at least shoot out that signal flare out there that yes, there is someone else out there who isn’t doing this for wholly selfish reasons, or to find some sort of crutch for an inadequate life. Sedman goes on to say:

Sometimes you can write about it. That kind of works. The best thing you can do with something you’ve written about magic, I think, is inspire somebody else enough to try it themselves, so that they can see for themselves.

Even within the paradigm of magic and the animistic, there is so much people aren’t seeing, and it can be frustrating. I try not to waste too much time myself though. I am too constantly involved in the magical and animistic world to always pause enough to write about it or network or “do business”. Or, perhaps it’s too involved in me.