Thursday, December 22, 2011

Witch Councils, and America

I have remained largely mute about the recent attempts to re-start the “American Council of Witches,” which appears to have ended in failure. This is not especially surprising, given the history – as I understand it – of the original 1973-4 “American Council of Witches.”

It is still a subject I should like to see others shed more light on, as it seems to be fundamental to the present state of Wicca in America. Amongst the members was Jessie Wicker Bell, who in 1971 had first published (via Llewellyn) Lady Sheba's Book of Shadows. She claimed it was her family's hereditary Grimoire, and that she had been commanded by the Goddess to publish it.

In fact, it was a somewhat altered version of the Gardnerian Book of Shadows. According to Michael Howard's Modern Wicca (p. 221-222), Bell was sent her BoS by his coven and she was initiated after a year and a day by proxy. He writes: 

“Reluctantly, I was persuaded by my own Gardnerian initiator Rosina Bishop to pass on a copy of the version of The Book of Shadows we were using so Bell could be initiated into Wicca by proxy. This is also done in traditional pre-Gardnerian witchcraft where “the power” can be passed through a written text or magical object. However, as was the trend among other Gardnerians, we had made some important changes to the BoS. This including amending the Craft Laws and also adding a poem written by Doreen Valiente originally published in the WRA newsletter Pentagram...”

Of course, I very much doubt that the “Traditional Witch Square Dances” found in Lady Sheba's BoS originated from Howard, and so it's clear that she added her own material as well. That said, in 1974 she integrated herself (along with a few other Llewellyn authors) into the Council of Witches. This might not have been a huge problem, except that Bell seems to have decided to use a tactic that often backfires terribly: 
“This group put forward thirteen principles that all Wiccans could adhere to, and that were later incorporated into the US Army's handbook for its chaplains.* Unfortunately, not all American witches wanted to sign on to these principles and became suspicious of Lady Sheba when she started reffering to herself as America's Witch Queen.” (Italix mine.) According to an internet article on “Wicca Fundamentalism” by Ben Gruagach (dated August 11, 2007), Jessie Bell declared she was the leader of all American witches (italix mine) at a WitchMeet in 1974.”
From those I have been able to discuss on the subject, this was – or has at least been presented to me as – the catalyst for what may have been America's first Wiccan Witch War (yee-haw!). I could probably take this discussion into the realm of near-conspiracy theories, but I will resist.

The original 1974 Council of Witches, suffice it to say, was a fiasco and has resulted in a noticeably negative impact on the subject of Wicca ever since. I honestly have no idea why anyone in their right mind would have ever wanted to try and repeat it, or even pay homage to the event.

*This claim has, I believe, been criticized as a-historical and mythical.
Edit: Or not. Wild Hunt indicates that the addition was made to the Chaplain's handbook.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Golden Opportunities of Fast Food! [Edited]

It is only by the Will of God that you will Get Through This.
There comes a time in every bastard's life when his parents point out how poor they are, and tell him that he has to grow up and get a job.

For me, that commentary came alongside the revelation that working as a soccer referee for two years during my teens did not exactly constitute a “real employment history,” and lacking contacts to other jobs I was left with but one solution: Fast Food.

So, I got a job with the Yum Corporation at a Taco Bell not too far from my home. I road my bike there for two years, working nights while trying to survive my first few semesters of City College. I'd arrive on the premise at 4 PM, and look forward to riding home at 3 AM... If I was lucky. The store officially closed every day at 11PM-12 AM, depending on what day of the week it was, but getting out meant that the entire place had to be cleaned. The day shift was always “too busy” to clean up after themselves, and so we'd end up doing it: regardless of how busy we'd been that night, or how much shit was left to be done.

Every night, you'll wish this happens.
There are some things you should know about going to school and working at a Taco Bell:
  • We'll work with your school schedule!”
Your employers will tell you this. What this means is that, in exchange for having the time when you're in class unscheduled, they'll be calling you in every time you have a day off. Don't expect to have friends, and don't expect to have any time to yourself. Except when you're sleeping.
  • This management position is an opportunity!”
Those words are your doom, kid. If you listen to them, you can look forward to a 50+ hour work and dropping out of school. Who survives 50 hours of Taco Bell management and goes to school? Fucking no one, that's who. But the Yum Corporation and its acolytes will knowingly try to get you to take up that position of responsibility, complete with lines about how much more you'll be making. Which is where it gets funny, because that pay raise might be between 10 cents and three bucks. Don't expect to make more than 13 dollars an hour, unless you spend a lot of time accumulating raises as a team member and then take the “opportunity” that's offered.
  • We'll pay for your school!”
But only if you take business courses, and only if you pass. See the above warnings and then apply them to this.
  • We have scholarships for team members!”
They also have something like 2 million team members in the U.S. alone, if not more. You're not getting the one scholarship that they offer and pluralize to make themselves look good.

There are some things you should know about working at Taco Bell, period:
  • People are going to treat you like crap, routinely.
Just accept that you'll be yelled at for things that aren't your fault (“I told you, no onions on my burrito!” - Especially funny when you're the cashier. Because I totally made your food, Hoss. Hey, Bong, spit in that guy's fucking burrito, will ya?)
Just 89 cents! Wow, why don't we buy 60$ worth! Through the fucking Drive Thru!

  • People are going to regularly order 60$+ dollars of food and then expect it through the drive-thru.
They will never want to pull over. Most of those doing this will be well over 300 lbs., they will have ordered an extra-large Diet Pepsi (because, really, that'll help the calorie intake!), and they will want to flatten your face if you ask them to pull around to the front of the store, because other people want food, too. You can look forward to two or three of these folks on a good week. You can look forward to one a night on a bad week.
  • People are always “sick” when they ought to be at work.
What's better than coming in to your place of employment to find it trashed, and knowing you'll be held responsible for that state of affairs? Having your team-mates call out constantly. See, Taco Bell also keeps track of what they call “Employee Turnover” and rates a team according to how low that state of affairs is. So, people just claim to be sick nigh-endlessly, and never get fired. You end up short staffed – sometimes just a cashier and a manager trying to get by, and watch the amount of time you'll be cleaning things increase after work. I actually quit the job on a day when we had two people there, and we'd just had a 350 lbs woman (whose stomach caved in around the steering wheel of her SUV, she was so fucking huge) order 60$ of food and scream at me. It was the combination of knowing I would not be seeing my then-girlfriend that night, being screamed at by yet another idiot, and knowing that this state of affairs would continue until I did something about it.

So I declared, “FUCK THIS SHIT!” and went to get a better job.

Listen to me, if you be a young bastard looking for employment: It is only a job. Do not give them your heart or your soul. It's not worth it. Do not let them make you more responsible for anything. The whole point of this tactic is so the corporate wankers with BMWs and Benz's have someone to hoist all the blame on, while looking good themselves. Do your time, and get the fuck out. Fast Food is not an opportunity, it's a trap. You spring the trap and then get free as quickly as possible. But you don't ever remain.

However – and I know this works because I almost caused a riot at a company party one night by suggesting it – you can annoy your bosses easily and often. This is the only pleasure you'll find in the job, alas. Thus, when they ask what your “team name” should be? Vote for the “Wage Slaves.” It makes them freak out every time.

(The corporate individual veto'd our – by all accounts winning majority vote for being the “Wage Slaves” – and thus I was for a time part of Taco Bell “Team Fairy.” … Sigh.)

EDIT: I got a bit of back chatter a little bit ago via Facebook private messages about my cruelty towards the Obese in this entry. So, I feel compelled to apologize to anyone that felt insulted by my comments. It's not my intent to mock the obese.

There are a few things I learned very quickly working at Taco Bell. The biggest was that new items are driven by tests establishing how often people will return for an item. In a sense, the more addictive the food is to you, the better it will sell. And so, top chefs (I use those words with amusement) put together these items and market them out. People try them out at various corporate locations (stores, corporate offices, test pilot shit that team members never see) and the higher they rate with the public in terms of taste and a desire for the repeat, the more they get brought out as new items.

We wanted to sell you the closest equivalent of food-crack that we could. It doesn't matter how bad it is for you, how it will affect you if you eat too much, etc. These just aren't concerns. The concern is that you spend as much fucking money on us as possible. Then we would pull those items off the market for 6-8 months, and cycle them back in again later. This would often upset many people, who felt entitled to their crack. It made things unpleasant, to say the least. "We just don't have that," was never taken happily as an answer. In some cases, we couldn't even approximate the product, because it came with unique ingredients that we wouldn't carry any longer. People would throw fits about this, as if whoever they were whining to could fix it.

But. The addictive part of this business is what I'm talking about. It created a very unhealthy dynamic between workers and those they're serving on many occasions. People would be upset it was taking too long to get their food. They'd be upset because they lacked their fix. Sometimes, they just had bad days and took their anger out on you. I was a cashier for those full two years, and so I was always a half-assed public relations consultant. I was paid because I had curly, golden locks and  a winning smile. And hopefully, I could convince you to calm down, fix the problem, etc.

But then, there are just some people who feel entitled to looking down on you. Ironically, they're not always the rich or those in expensive cars. Often, they're obese, or lower class (based on what they're wearing and driving, which is hardly concrete proof), or... Whatever. I had a few goths get on my case for working for the man once, even. It was somewhat funny, honestly.

But the more the other person might be used to being treated like crap (such as for being fat), the more likely they were to go nuts on you. And for some reason, half the people ordering too much food and expecting instantaneous results had a higher likelihood of being poor or larger in weight. I have no idea. They also had the highest chance of flipping out on you over something.

If you're larger in weight, and I can say anything to you, it's this, I hope. Avoid fast food. It was created to make you fat, feel terrible, and keep coming back for more. I know it's hard, but find a way to fight the habit. Because it will fucking kill you in the end, just like smoking cigarettes or drinking too much will. In the end, the choice is yours. But if you choose to continue an addiction to fast food, please. Please, please, please. Be nice to the poor folks that work there. They aren't paid crap. They get treated like shit all day. They're struggling, just like you. And they don't need you screaming at them about some small error or another. Most - anyone with sense - will want to correct the error, if you ask. You don't need to fucking scream at them about it.

And don't ever order more than $30 worth of food in the drive-thru. That's just fucking lazy, and annoying. Be an adult and walk inside the fucking restaurant and wait like a decent human being. You lazy fucking wanker.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Scarlet Imprint, Ebooks, & Etc

Some time ago I was quite critical of Scarlet Imprint, after they (and a few less savory characters joined them) complained about Piracy.

At the time, they were just preparing to – or just had – announce(d) their “Bibliotheque Rouge” books, and had not yet said a word about e-books or digital editions.

In November they announced that they'd be releasing their Rouge books in ebook formats while saying:
We want the same information which is in our fine editions and hardbacks to be accessible. We have also struggled to buy books, pay rent and put food on the table whilst being committed students of magick.”

This basically means that SI, in my book, can now complain about piracy as much as they want. They've met every criticism that I had initially over the discussion, and they've worked towards making their books accessible. This is something I not only applaud, but I further retract my earlier criticism(s).

Now, I'm still very critical about Llewellyn complaining about low book sales, but that's another matter entirely.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Magical Thinking

Magical thinking is correlative reasoning which ascribes meaning to various acts or occurrences in the world around one. It's powered by correlation – that is to say, association. In so many ways, we can totally say that magical thinking is supposed to be the magician's forte.

And so long as the magician maintains a clear head and doesn't let fear or paranoia conquer their internal state, it is not especially dangerous to engage in. (And you will.)* There are some issues when it comes to combining magical thinking with paranoia; one of these is that it is easy to become overwhelmed by a sense that one is constantly being threatened by powerful, evil forces.

This is not to say that there are not powerful, evil forces out there. But the question of how often one encounters them, or what forms they take, is a fairly important one. When you're making use of both magical thinking, and engaging what I call The Paranoia Engine (“Fuck! ALL KINDS OF UNWHOLESOME OCCULT/DEMONIC/WHATEVER SHIT WANTS ME FOR BREAKFAST!”), you're giving a lot of power (in terms of psychology) to the Other. If you simultaneously make the other, via association, into a monster?

That is profoundly, spiritually, fearsome.

And the pesky thing about Fear, when discussed in the context of weird shit, is that the Fight or Flight Response is still a part of the equation. Having grossly empowered these ideas, with your own thoughts, you then create and give the monster flesh. The mind finds all kinds of reasons for these ideas to be True.

And suddenly you're going through Youtube looking at signal degradation errors, or video codec errors, and thinking that you're seeing Reptilians. And since all of this other bad shit in the world is happening, you ascribe those happenings to the agenda of your personally created monster.

And does it live? Oh, yes. And it spreads from your mind, to others, every time you insist it must exist. Every time you beguile someone that doesn't know enough about information theory to know crap television reception when they see it. And in spreading your monster abroad, in giving it a context to live, you do two things:

- First, you deprive yourself of the actual ability to confront horror, and terrible things and take power back from them. The cacophonous demons of urban legend? If you shatter them and take back the power that you've given them, then you will find yourself purged of certain worries. If you're engaging in pure Paranoia and Fear as a dynamic for mapping certain ideas, and you ascribe real certainty to them, then you're not confronting your internal demons or the events that are making this reality seem so utterly certain. Instead, you're running away. Projecting your demons into the world outside you, and ascribing every terrible event to them.

- Second, you are not making those who are responsible for true terror, and true horror, actually responsible for their crimes. You're creating a creative, magical gloss, in which their inhumane acts are part of a bigger, far more terrible picture. This is the reason you're more concerned about Reptilians that eat babies (oh, Satanic Panic 2.0! How you make me laugh!), and not concerned enough about the Tuskegee Experiments in which individuals were unknowingly afflicted with syphilis and left untreated. You're focusing on Monarch Programing, when you need to pay attention to MKULTRA. If we are to trust Naomi Klein at all, and we might at well, the big point behind MKULTRA was not Manchurian Candidates, nor the LSD tests that helped pave the way for the Hippy movement (at which point the CIA lost control of it's beast, and legislation sought to correct what it discovered to be a grave mistake) but to facilitate better torturing techniques, including but certainly not limited to, information retrieval from targets that were resistant to torture. As I understand it, this was the “real” purpose of techniques like “Psychic Driving”.

When you're looking for the monstrous aspects of MKULTRA, it's easy to focus on the cartoonishly evil aspects of the project (that just might be intentional disinformation) and to forget that underlying it is this: individuals were subjected to extensive psychological projects intended to hamper aspects of their personality, without their consent. It is very easy to forget just how harmful such projects were to those exposed to them. But, and this is more important, it's just as easy to forget that if the reason for MKULTRA was better psychological torture and information retrieval from hostile targets then those techniques are almost assuredly being used, right now, on prisoners of war. In prisons our government doesn't like admitting exists.

That's real horror, right in your backyard, right now. And the people who did and do such things should be found and put on trial. They should face human rights violations. They should be held accountable.

But they will never be fucking found as long as people focus themselves on the most outlandish and unbelievable, and try to make it seem like the world is overrun by fantastic monsters from beyond. This hides, right in plain sight, the people walking around and doing terrible things around us all the time. It leaves them unaccountable. And the world, see, remains tarnished by their continued ability to perpetrate evil.

The ideas inspired by magical thinking – those used to navigate and investigate, via association – should never be treated lightly when you're engaging them. You need to ask yourself what the consequence that you're ignoring is. You need to stop assuming you see the world clearly; you do not. You simply see it differently. And there may be some truth in it. It's just very rarely literal, unless we're talking about thaumaturgy.

But magick, like magical thinking, is best when it's subtle. It infuses the “mundane dross” of our every day reality, of the ideas we play with and spread, and just gently brightens or darkens them. Ultimately, there is a question of how much power you're giving to certain notions. If the world has nothing but demons – and I don't really care how you contextualize them be they grays or succubi or Men in Black – then there's something important missing. Like, for instance, icons of love and and wonder and worship that exist alongside you, constantly. Allies that provide you with insight. Moments of bliss, lost looking at the beauty of the colors and their vibrancy in the world all around you.

And no matter how much you invoke the light, no matter how much you try to call it to you, it will be diminished by the spectral presence of the (largely internal) monsters that you've cast into the shadows around you.

Is that the way anyone really, and I do mean really, wants to live?

I thought about it long and hard for years. I wandered to weird astral places. I did strange, spooky shit. The darkness isn't as terrifying, and contains more wonder, when you bring the love and amazing experiences that have shaped you for the better with you into it.

Nothing is quite as good as holding and kissing someone you love. Nothing is quite as fantastic as seeing the smile on the face of a friend. Nothing is quite like knowing that you can comfort them in the time of need, if they should ask. We make the world better, in so many ways, by choosing to interact positively with those around us. But it is far, far harder to actually do this when you've got a dozen urban legends, and a few half-baked-half-mad thoughtforms to boot, breathing down your neck.

The fear comes in, and you have to run away. Or fight it!

In reality, the fear is the enemy. Yes, there is horror and very real terror in the world. Yes, there are human monsters and astral ones.

But there's other, better, things too. There's also being in the moment. The magick of friendship. The bonds of solidarity. The love of one's community.

So you have to ask, which is more important? Trying to fight the monsters you've empowered with your own mind in a state of Fight or Flight, or focusing on the people around you right now, who both need and love you?

Call me a sell-out, wanna-be white-lighter if you want. It's cool. I've heard worse. But I'd rather fix myself before I try to locate all the world's problems and fix them. Because I know that if I don't continue to work on my microcosm, to shed the poisons and feed the positives, then inevitably I'll destroy everything I love and cherish. And then it will all be for nothing.

I threw in my chips a long time ago on the side of love. Somehow, it actually made the monsters less threatening. And there was no need for paranoia after a while, either. In it's place was something else, something indescribable, but totally better.

Which is not to say that I don't occasionally scry an urban legend now and again. Sometimes, it's just fun to do the old dance without taking it too seriously. Call it gnostic agnosticism about certain subjects if you want.

You may now return to your Prison Planet, and worries about the NDAA, which is still a totally fucking horrible bill that should never happen. And don't even get my started on SOPA.

* Most toxic aspects of magical thinking can, in my experience, be slain with the raw talismanic power of Occam's Horrible-Ass Razor. Magical thinking is rarely simple, and thus often susceptible to the Razor.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

EVP, Paranormal Practice

Via the folks at Paranormal Practice.

I'm related to one of the folks involved with this project, and they're (the individual, that is) always asking me about haunted houses and where to find them. So, in the event that there's a place you think just plain needs some EVP recorded within, drop them a line!

All that said: man, why the hell am I not trying to spend all night in haunted locations and do EVP recordings?! Although, truthfully, I'd rather try using things like U.D.'s Gaze Techniques found in the first volume of High Magick: Theory and Practice (or Jason's version of very similar techniques) at such a place.

This makes me seriously ponder if I could ever, in any sort of good faith, claim to be a psychic and join such an excursion. I really don't think I'm psychic enough, when you get right down to it.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

“When Kingdoms Come” - A Jupiterian Anthology

“O Jove much-honor'd, Jove supremely great, to thee our holy rites we consecrate,
Our pray'rs and expiations, king divine, for all things round thy head exalted shine.
The earth is thine, and mountains swelling high, the sea profound, and all within the sky.
Saturnian king, descending from above, magnanimous, commanding, sceptred Jove;
All-parent, principle and end of all, whose pow'r almighty, shakes this earthly ball;
Ev'n Nature trembles at thy mighty nod, loud-sounding, arm'd with light'ning, thund'ring God.
Source of abundance, purifying king, O various-form'd from whom all natures spring;
Propitious hear my pray'r, give blameless health, with peace divine, and necessary wealth.”
- Orphic Hymn #14, To Jupiter.
We, by which I mean myself and an entire cult dedicated to Jupiter, are pleased to announce the forth-coming “When Kingdoms Come” (title tentative) – an anthology dedicated to Jupiterian magick, comprising essays by a dozen or so members of the present Cult, and brought to you by the wonderful Hadean Press. Contributors to include:

Mr. Chris Bradford, better known to bloggers as Fr. AIT, who has just unleashed Opening the Book of Lambspring
Derik Richards, who has written on the subject of the The Lunar Formula of IAO.
Mike Cecchetelli, author of Crossed Keys and the Mardukite Magick ebook.
Logan Hillier

All these talented individuals, plus myself, and more!

For those members of the (ladies and) Gentlemen for Jupiter that wish to contribute and have not yet heard the news, please contact Mr. Sef Salem.

Until then – Happy Thursdays, Jovial Blessings, and...

Be seeing you.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Left-Over Hostility

This image was found by searching for Enraged Donkey...

About a year ago, I had a conversation with someone else that was just... dismal. I'm not really sure how to convey the mood it left me in, except to say that some of the hostility I've displayed in this blog has been a response to that very conversation.

It was with someone that many people would call a “craft elder,” at least if you base your assumptions about what an “elder” is on age. They were easily two to three times my age. And the conversation began harmlessly enough: they were telling me about the evolution of the neo-Pagan and Ceremonial Magick circles, from the perspective of someone that saw them arise. But at a certain point of the conversation, they began asking me questions that left me feeling uneasy. The reason for this feeling was readily revealed when the individual admitted that they'd spent god-knows-how-many-hours on initiations, rituals, regular ritual work, and so forth and then... Said that nothing, nothing at all, had happened.

Since I was so knowledgeable or something, they started demanding answers from me: “why didn't this initiation work? Why can't I invoke the Gods? Why do I never have moments of Gnosis?”

It was almost as if I was being accused of being the reason, though I'm sure that wasn't the case. When I couldn't offer any explanations, except to ask “have you ever thought about making some internal changes?”

The person just snapped on me. I was told that my practices were obscene and evil, that I embodied all that was wrong with the Neo-Pagan community, and about a dozen other things. I honestly chalk it up to the individual being very, very emotional about the subject. But it's left me feeling very irritated ever since. The conversation ended thus: “I know I'm right!

Here was someone with decades spent on research, on trying out magical rituals, on working hard to try and refine their subtle body – and they admitted that it meant nothing. All that time wasted. If I'd had words to ease that sensation or help them, I'd have said them. But I didn't. All I could do, in the end, was sit miserably and listen to how horrible I was.

Since then, I've avoided the individual. Not because I don't like them, but because I just... I don't have time or the emotional energy to try and help them. And with the way the conversation ended, I was left not wanting to even bother to try. I wanted to say: “Well, if you know everything, then tell me – why isn't it working? Why aren't you becoming more spiritually aware? Why don't the Gods or spiritslisten to your calls?”

But that would have been cruel, and pointless. They didn't know, nor did I. It would just be like rubbing salt in what was obviously an old wound.

Since then, I've pretty much stopped talking to anyone who I could tell has put up walls against certain knowledge. People who can intelligibly discuss As If or Ex Opere Operato and then create massive walls, pointing out all the things they don't know about a subject annoy me to no end. If you're going to lionize the idea of As If or Ex Opere Operato, then you need to be 100% holistic about that shit and understand that by performing the act of magick, the person is themselves engaging in a process. This does not require complete knowledge of any given system. You must be willing to receive the knowledge that you lack, before you can receive it.

Otherwise, you're just wasting your time and creating walls that will keep you from Doing the Work.

On paper, all rituals are but words and pictures (pretty or otherwise). The ritual must be engaged before sufficient understanding is ever made. Experience is a pivotal part of magical development, and if experience is what you're lacking then you need to address the walls to knowledge that you've put up within your own microcosm, and the reason you put up those walls.

This is a personal matter, and in the end, I suppose no one can really help unless you let them. But please: don't ask me to, because I'm sick of being yelled at by the Elderly and Inept.*

*This entry may disappear if VVF says I'm being a douchebag. Fair warning. It's my goal to address the subject without being a complete dick...

EDIT: There is a difference between someone that's done decades of magical work that worked and tells me that they're right about something, and someone that tells me that nothing has worked. I wish to make these differences explicit right now. Yes, tons of folks in the bloggosphere make my just-over-a-decade of practice look miniscule. I do respect that.

I do not respect the alternatives, who throw up road-blocks to the work, and claim things don't work (when they can't do them, but know damn well that others can).

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Mask

From the earliest times man has experienced in the face with the penetrating eyes the truest manifestation of anthropomorphic or theriomorphic beings. This manifestation is sustained by the mask, which is that much more effective because it is nothing but surface. Because of this, it acts as the strongest symbol of presence. Its eyes, which stare straight ahead, cannot be avoided; its face, with its inexorable immobility, is quite different from other images which seem ready to move, to turn, to step back. Here there is nothing but encounter, from which there is no withdrawal – and immovable, spell-binding antipode. This must be our point of departure for understanding that the mask, which was always a sacred object, could be also put over a human face to depict the god or spirit who appears.

And yet this explains the significance of only half the phenomenon of the mask. The mask is pure confrontation – an antipode, and nothing else. It has no reverse side - “Spirits have no back,” the people say. It has nothing which might transcend this mighty moment of confrontation. It has, in other words, no complete existence either. It is the symbol and the manifestation of that which is simultaneously there and not there: that which is excruciating near, that which is completely absent – both in one reality...”

No suffering, no ardent desire of the human soul speaks forth from out of this excitement, but the universal truth of Dionysus, the primal phenomenon of duality, the incarnate presence of that which is remote, the shattering encounter with the irrevocable, the fraternal confluence of life and death.

This duality has its symbol in the mask.

True, there have been other masked dances in the past, and there still are today. But what must remain in them as anticipation or as indication, emanates as reality from the depths in which Dionysus holds sway. Here we have not only the spectral presence of demonic beings of nature and the dead. The whole splendor of that which has been submerged draws imperatively near at the same time that it is lost in eternity. The wearer of the mask is seized by sublimity and dignity of those who are no more. He is himself and yet someone else. Madness has touched him – something of the mystery of the mad god, something of the spirit of the dual being who lives in the mask and whose most recent descendant is the actor.

This spirit of madness in which the miracle of immediate presence becomes an event was the spirit which breathed new life into the tragic mythos and had it reappear in a form which manifested its high seriousness and majesty more over-whelmingly than any which had come before. And so Dionysus made his appearance at a time of his choosing in the spiritual world of the Greeks, too, and his coming was so shattering that if still affects us today.” - Walter F. Otto, Dionysus: Myth and Cult (1923)
 Some time ago, I asked one of my mentors what he thought the ultimate goal of Dionysian magick was. His response was that the individual pursuing such ecstatic experiences was attempting to “wear the same face.” While in every day consciousness, we maintain and facilitate a “respectable mask,” which is not our true selves. While intoxicated (physically or simply in trance), we encounter the Truth of the God as he (or it) is approaches. In vino veritas, is but one part of the equation. The rest is integration of that truth - that intoxicated joy - into everyday, conscious reality.

I've been thinking about that response for a long time, and reading Otto's comments on masks (taken from the sixth, and then the final chapter: pages 90 and 210 respectively) makes me contemplate those same thoughts. If the two masks: the mask of the self immersed in the moment of the God, and the mask of false identity worn during everyday awareness end up completely entwined, what happens?

Do I end up a mystic after all, or do I simply continue life as I have, grinning ear to ear because I've discovered the key to recovering joy?

I have no idea. But, hell, it's worth a shot, either way.

I Find My Inability to Make Distinctions Dissatisfying

Sorcery: c.1300, from O.Fr. sorcerie, from sorcier “sorcerer,” from V.L. *sortiarius, lit. “one who influences, fate, fortune,” from L. sors (gen. sortis) “lot, fate, fortune” (see sort).

Sor·cery: 1: the use of power gained from the assistance or control of evil spirits especially for divining : necromancy
I have been, since reading a certain hilarious tirade on Jason's blog (I'd probably have said something like that to him at 19 or 20... Or even 23 years of age), trying to figure out at what point in history the word 'sorcery' became essentially blended, as a term, with Maleficium (“mischief” or “wrongdoing” - punishable by law in many places in the ancient world).

While the indictments against various forms of magic, divination, or dealings with spirits are explicit at different places in the Bible, I find myself somewhat puzzled over how a term that initially meant “one who influences, fate, or fortune” (Sortiarius) to the present definition.

Did it occur about the same time that sorcery and witchcraft became technically similar (in the context of the day) terms? Something like 1400s CE – 1600s CE?

And when people – who are not complete and utter w... Heh – refer to sorcery, what are they typically alluding to? When I refer to myself as such, it's normally an indication that I make pacts (or agreements, or enter into a relationship with) spirits; or I'm referring to a mode of practice similar in many, if not most, respects to witchcraft of the 'traditional' sort. However, when I think of the word “ensorcell,” which means to bewitch or enchant, I'm forced to not that the ability to influence seems also to relate intrinsically to spell work as well (if not glamors and many other types of the magical... crafts).

This leaves me at a loss as to what the distinction really signifies, if anything, from any other of the labels that float around?