“Hoping for something that tastes of deliverance,Waiting for answers to fall from the sky.”- Assemblage 23, Ghosts
Plenty of talk about Toxicity seems to be running in waves across the Inter-Webz these days. And, given that I happen to find toxicity interesting, I thought I'd take a few moments to point at a few things I like.
First: Samm posted Bertrand Russell's Ten Commandments on Facebook not long ago. I like them. In fact: I like them in a way I never really anticipated. While hunting about for the link, I also came across this secondary version. I like it, too.
Second: Miss Sugar's post today about toxicity in relationships. I want to take a moment to point out that her use of rubber band therapy is... actually, well, a well known and quite deceased occultist has discussed something similar before. In Liber III vel Jugorum (Magick in Theory and Practice, p. 427), Aleister Crowley advocates something that has been treated with abhorrence by a lot of neo-Pagans who probably annoy me. He basically advocates that any student of magick ought to make oaths againsts certain arbitrary actions they make use of without thinking (such as touching one's face when nervous, chewing on one's nails, etc.) and cutting one's self if the oath is strayed from.
Not unexpectedly: tons of people freak out when you tell them this. I suspect that it's because they think cutting is the only way; the secondary reason is that most neo-Pagans I know have very little thought control or mental discipline. Which is hardly my problem. (My problem happens to begin when I, myself, lack said discipline. And pop right into your dreams. Which I endeavor to do far less these days now that it's no longer novel.) They, however, miss the point which is the discipline; not the cutting. As Stephen Mace notes in Stealing the Fire from Heaven:
“Crowley recommended the use of a straight razor on the forearm, but that's overkill... It's also an example of Crowley's sense of humor and may have been intended as a blind, an absurdity meant to scare away those aspirants not gifted with common sense...
It is important that we stress that the acts you forbid yourself must be arbitrary. If they had any moral or emotional value, for instance if you forbade yourself between-meal snacks or thinking about your ex-husband, you would be corrupting your will with your desire and also risking mental sickness that can come when dark nasties are repressed. It is better to strengthen your will first on denials that are entirely innocuous.”
Sound a lot like Rubber Band Therapy? Well, Mace even recommends getting a thick rubber band and using it.
Third: Everyone should read this. It's a list of phrases used to invalidate one's feelings or thoughts. Now, sometimes such things are necessary. However, in most cases using many of these invalidating comments can be... A pain. I've done it without thinking, so I assume others have, too. But every once in a while you'll meet a Master of Invalidating Your Thoughts. If you catch someone doing nothing but constantly undermining your feelings, opinions, or thoughts with invalidation statements: use them back. Either for equilibration of the discussion, or to shock them out of their pattern of speech as it's direct toward you.
Fourth: If you're attached to an egregore in which the group situation has become toxic... Disconnect immediately. Step back, buy some popcorn, and watch the show. But do not, and I mean this seriously, do not assume you can “change” the situation or “make it better.” All that may end up doing is making things far, far worse. I have, over the years, screamed the words “pull out” at more people than I probably ought have. I think I'm pretty much done with that.
And now. To try and coherently answer a great formspring question.
[EDIT]: I found Mace's Stealing the Fire from Heaven on Scribd. Yes, you're welcome and you may worship me if you feel that's necessary. See the hyperlink if you're interested. The essay on Elementals and Power Spots was also my starting point for Genius Loci work. And before you think the man mad: Spare himself backs Mace up on a number of occasions. He once even crazily discussed trying to avoid an elemental with a journalist.