Forgotten tales

Magical revelation of the day: I was thinking about how television supplies us with pre-packaged narratives.

Each episode or documentary gives us a structure, beginning and end, occasionally with a carefully delivered challenge or question. These stories may be split over several episodes to keep us addicted, and the challenges can be subtle or obvious to promote discussion. It occurred to me that to manufacture these stories, life needs to be generalised, filtered and distorted c.f. NLP modelling ( ).

On the kaballistic tree of life, there is a strange place – DAATH – see Wikipedia for an intro. Strange for its omission from the structure. My relatively inexperienced perspective conjures the idea of forgetting, and the analogy of a lens or prism which is effectively invisible but known by its effect.

The reason I mention this is because I intuit a connection between this narrative artifice and corresponding exclusion of information to that end, and this core ‘gap’ in the tree of life where all things originate and dissolve.

It makes me look at stories and narratives afresh: I want to reject these narratives. This addiction to narratives is like a drug, or possible poison. To craft a narrative is to harm the complete narrative of existence. Try looking for the story behind the story, the aborted and stillborn foetuses strewn about us which we cannot see. See the world in all its horror and glory.

The other term which enters into my awareness is ‘silence’. To contain everything, there must first be emptiness. When the narrative coaxes you to speak, try breaking the flow. Experience what is happening rather than delivering the same old responses and patterns, time and time again. Words are like silk, which can bind us within our own prisons.

EDIT: After feedback, I want to clarify that this is not meant to be attacking narratives per se. I love narratives as I love breathing or eating. I am attacking an addiction to particular narratives, and even becoming accustomed to accepting a certain narrative structure. Narratives, like concepts, are both restrictive and empowering. They channel our thoughts and behaviours down some paths and not others.

Magickal Causality

From Aleister Crowley’s ‘Magick’ there is a brief discussion of the nature of Magickal cause and effect.

In summary – the efficacious nature of Magick and its practices is not necessarily to ‘directly’ effect a result. i.e. Magick in the high fantasy Harry Potter sense of pointing wands and fireballs erupting may be misleading. So in what sense can Magick be said to actually cause something to happen? Well, this is the bit I like as it chimes in perfectly with everything else I have uncovered so far! It works by transforming the agent, the relationships between agent and the world, and hence the world, making them all into the kind of things which accord with the will of the Magick user.

To clarify: I might perform rituals to focus my will on a particular task, build confidence and strengthen links with others who may assist in doing my will. But do the rituals ’cause’ the task to happen? Certainly the mental and emotional focus and strengthening of relationships with others assists in accomplishing the task.

This is why a spell that summons a person to you may ‘work’ even though the person in question started on their journey to visit you BEFORE the spell was cast. Practicing such spells makes you more powerful. The holistic nature of Magick is evident here – it thrums through all the strands of symbolism and power that guide and shape, a power that subtly whispers but in its crescendos there is indisputable puissance.

This touches on the purpose of prayer and worship too: By seeking communion with the divine will we are not necessarily diminishing ourselves by subjecting or demeaning what we are. Rather, we are becoming vessels dedicated to actualising divine will – our will. I think many people have conceptions of worship that stereotype and ridicule, alienating and stifling the possibility that it is something very important, practical and essential. I remember my GCSE Religious Education teacher saying something which stuck with me: Worship is ‘Worth-ship’, about showing how something is important to you. To those who remain Atheist and Agnostic as anything other than a reaction to established religious stereotypes I ask: What is it that you live for? What makes it all worthwhile?

Focus on those things, craft yourself about them, respect and celebrate them. After all, that is worship.

Seeing the matrix

I started to see the matrix today.  More specifically, the semiotic web as described in Patrick Dunn’s text on Postmodern Magic.  The semiotic web/matrix is the totality of interrelated symbols and meaning that chart our experiences.

The term matrix or lattice has connotations of being crystalline and rigid – an oppressive sentiment that may be apt for the film the Matrix – which is why the web description is more appealing to me.  It occurred to me however that the description of the semiotic web is still lacking something, or at least, it was for me.

The symbols are ALIVE.  Do not view the semiotic web as a collection of things/points/nodes.  The Net of Indra is a beautiful metaphor worth thinking about, and although the gems are like things, their identity is partly eroded and partly composed by the fact they reflect all the others. i.e. the identity of a thing is contextual (its place in the semiotic web).  A change in one affects the others.  But even more than this, the symbols are the landscape of our desires, ideals and motivations – which makes them decidedly ACTIVE.  Imagine the landscape topology, with rivers flowing between peaks. Then consider the topology of the semiotic web:

In a crude sense, the symbol of a wall or obstacle serves to channel most ambulatory beings towards symbols of access and passage.  Otherwise we would walk into walls more often!  The very nature of the semiotic web serves to channel energy and direct us.  More significant symbols, like ideals (and arguably gods) similarly distort the web, so that energies flow in different directions.  As a ball rolls downhill into a depression, as the gravity well draws in objects, so too does the semiotic web guide and influence.

This is why I love Aikido so much: It works within the semiotic web so well.  Rather than cruder approaches which might strike blows to deal with threats, Aikido literally takes advantage of the individual’s situation and interrelations within the web.  Aikido is a form of magic made manifest – and as you get better at it you start to see the channels of people’s intentions.  A bit like the scene in Donnie Darko when he starts to see the space-time worms emerging from the solar plexus, you start to see these energy flow more clearly, and how to direct them in different ways.  I think a true master never has to fight, simply by virtue of avoiding conflicts before they even erupt.

Double Take

I have highlighted some sections in bold if you want a quick read. The rest just provides some background for anyone looking a little deeper… This is a quick reflection on the importance of perception, touching on a few issues with a hint of magic for good measure.

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It’s the little things…

Apologies – I have not posted for a while and this is more of an observation, but my website, my rules :-p

The other day I bought a DVD from a charity shop. If you must know, it was the film for Joss Whedon’s Firefly series: Serenity. It has been sat on my desk for months now, but not forgotten. It’s status is somewhat peculiar – it’s a promise. In my mind I mean to watch it, or rewatch it as I have seen it all before(!), but I’m not sure if I’m ever going to do so. It persists on the edge of my awareness as a motivational reward, something to look forward to, but I honestly can’t say if it’s ever going to happen.

I think it is important to remain sensitive to these little tricks of the mind, and hopefully make sure they work for you rather than against. The reason I mention this is because I was recently introduced to an anime series called xxxHolic which is based around a Japanese student plagued by visions of the spirit world who finds his way drawn to a magical shop where wishes are granted. The owner, Yuuko, takes him on as a part-time ?slave? in exchange for helping him. Frankly, she spends most of her time drinking, so she might just be a crazy alcoholic, but there are a lot of discussions based around superstition, myths and psychology. Some things are a little dubious, but there are a lot of interesting observations in there. One episode that springs to mind is about a lady who seems to keep sabotaging her life with bad choices, but it emphasises that one needs to accept good things in to your life just as much as bad things. For instance, this lady in the story did not destroy her life, but would not actually accept good ‘luck’ – she rejected it through suspicion, guilt, and the inability to see herself as ‘worthy’ of good things.

This episode was quite clearly not about the supernatural, and yet most or all of the others can be read similarly, teaching about quirks and traits of the human mind and experience although the story couches them in the language of magic and spirits. Arthur C. Clarke’s 3rd law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic (ref: see wiki). I would also remind the reader that we often forget just how ‘magical’ technology and science – and the mind – can be.

I recommend paying attention to the little things in life that matter, whether they be gifts, handshakes, smiles or whatever, and try to cultivate a sensitivity for them. If it helps, try couching them in a language you understand, which is why I often resort to using the language of magic and the supernatural myself to explain and remember things. In my Aikido practice there is much discussion about ‘Qi’, a pretty abstract concept initially which has very magical effects given the power of Aikido when applied to the human body. However, as you progress in the martial art you start to appreciate just why such abstract and ‘magical’ language is used: Because it fits.

Working with Circles

This is an observation stemming from some comments overheard years ago by a self-proclaimed ‘black magician’ about how stupid ‘white magicians’ were to believe a ‘protective circle’ of chalk would do anything to protect them.

Fair comment. Here’s a story dealing with that.

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