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.
You know, maybe its just me, but somehow this election seems to have the most occult references. Between Palin getting protection from witchcraft, to right-wing dominionist Christians claiming Obama’s African family is performing acts of witchcraft on McCain, let alone these same nutjobs whipping themselves up in a fury of spiritual warfare and fanaticism, it does make me wonder. Like it or not, this election is definitely very spiritually charged. Not that it’s any surprise, given certain trends, but observing various patterns has proven to be quite intriguing.
The beach I was standing on was dry, sandy and very white. The sun was high up in the sky and shining brightly, and the ocean was somewhere in the distance, I could hear it sighing softly. I heard seagulls calling too, and somehow they made me feel melancholy, reminded me of a time I was spending with my partner, probably in Ocean City or thereabouts. I look all around me and half-buried in the sand are gigantic, dried-out skeletons. I look down and see a skull laying on its side, half-buried. It looks almost like the skull of some sort of gigantic seafaring creature, like a prehistoric whale. I see conical teeth, and molars in the back. The skull is huge, and I’m thinking I could climb down inside of it, through the eye-socket maybe, and have enough room to spare to make it into a little dwelling in the ground. As I was peering through the eye-socket, I began to hear a voice. It was a very loud voice, and it didn’t seem to issue from anywhere in particular–in fact, it seemed to issue from all over, from the huge primal skeletons themselves. The voice sounded very masculine, and very very old. It also echoed, as if reverberating from some vast cavern underground. The voice echoed, simply and yet powerfully: “We are the Cathedrals of the Dead.”
The voice continued to echo and reverberate in my mind as I slowly began to wake up. I checked the time on the alarm, about 45 minutes before it was supposed to go off. I switched the timer off and got up to put on a pot of coffee. The echoing voice gave me chills, and also a profound sense of sheer antiquity that it seemed to carry along, an age that goes beyond my understanding. This was one of those dreams that aren’t easily forgotten, ones that grip you firmly and stay with you long after you enter the waking world, and continue to haunt you when you least expect it.
I am now left with a profound sense of awe, and in a state of deep contemplation.
The DVD’s available for purchase November 1st, and I’d like to snag a copy for myself. Reality Sandwich did a review of it, which seemed pretty good. The comments in the review were also interesting to note. I for one was not a fan of Descartes’ ways of thinking and operating regarding the animal kingdom (for example, performing vivisections on still-conscious dogs), but one can’t deny the benefits of his work overall. The same could be said for quite a lot of things, be it occult, scientific, or somewhere in-between. I think Tristan Gulliford hit the nail on the head in this reply here. I’ll probably be able to comment more on the topic once I see this for myself though. Looks to be interesting in any case.
This is the coat of arms of Wolfhagen, the ancestral hometown of my family from my mother’s side. I had the opportunity to visit the place while on my long stay in Germany. As it turns out, one of the Brothers Grimm lived there for a time, and the famed fairytale road runs through it, where children’s celebrations and readings from Grimm’s Fairytales are still held. I am somehow reminded of some of the things my grandfather (whose grandparents immigrated from Wolfhagen) used to tell me, that gnomes came from Germany and liked to pop out of knotholes in wood–something that was later repeated when I stopped to re-read some of the Brothers Grimm during my stay.
Wolfhagen and the Hessian area around it is rife with old occult and mythic lore. The large town of Kassel nearby is quite the hotbed for paranormal activity, where crop circles are a yearly occurence. Kassel is also the birthplace of the Rosicrucians, with the publication of the Fama Fraternitatis, and the town’s very construction is believed to be on profoundly occult principles (see the above link on crop circles for more info). I would have loved to tour the area more closely, but sudden illness in both my partner and I forced us to turn back prematurely from Wolfhagen. I would like to plan a more detailed trip in the future though.
I do begin to wonder if Kassel had something to do with the intense feeling of presence of my grandfather while at the Kassel train station. Although granted, I already had a psychological link in my mind associating my grandfather with the land, it was a feeling that was vivid, intense, and in my opinion, rather hard to trick myself into feeling. What was going on external of me was weird enough–everything in the train station suddenly became dead quiet, almost as if someone had hit a mute-button. The pigeons flying over my partner and me seemed to be floating in the air in slow-motion, and a sudden breeze had whipped up out of nowhere from an otherwise still afternoon.
Psychology, or something else? Either way, it was certainly interesting.