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March 1st, 2010
01:29 am
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Best. Ritual. Scheduling. EVER
Time to close the books on Pcon 2010, which means sharing the awesome and never-before-told Sunday evening anecdotes!


1: I chose that day to wear my Three Keyboard Cat Moon shirt. Although I did not achieve spiritual enlightenment, I did procure the following unsolicited testimonial: "The 3-Wolf Moon T-shirt is only surpassed in manliness by Keyboard Cat. There are women in other rooms who are wet right now due to the awesome manliness of that T-shirt." I don't remember much of the rest of that night, only that I woke up the next morning in a hotel room with two women and a hangover ... wearing a wedding ring.


2: Notes toward the guiding principles of the spirit work I practice -- what one person suggested I call "dragon shamanism" (though I think I agree with the other friend who said the name treads too far into cultural appropriation):
Principle 1: Have friends. Not helpers or guides. Friends.
Principle 1a: Make friends. Don't summon ... welcome.
(Note: Cons, esp. pagan cons that put out huge levels of the right kinds of energy, are great places to cruise and/or network and/or find new friends to invite home.)
Principle 1b: Treat them like friends.

3: I attended the Visceral Magic panel (watch for the upcoming book from Pendraig Publishing). A few choice tidbits from my notes: "To escape a nightmare, look for the END of the story. Escape at the exit, not through the side." And a trick that can allegedly induce a short-term (1/2-hour) state of dissociation/magical perception: Put essential oil of clarey sage (specifically clarey sage, which "smells like cold wet tea bags") on your left wrist pulse point, under your left nostril, and on your left temple. (This sends the intuitive side of your brain into overdrive; he says you can get the same effect by putting frankincense oil in the same places on the right side of your body, which lulls the intellectual side into sleep.) No idea whether this works, but it's cheap, legal, basically safe, and worth a try.


4: I attended the Sandman reconstructionist ritual put on by the Discordians. It was a ha-ha-only-serious performance ritual with a retelling of a major arc of the Sandman comic books, capped off by summoning the spirit of the character Destruction.

I'm going to expand on this one. Bear with me -- because there is a punchline, and it is worth it.

The room was a small island of concentrated mayhem, which was only to be expected -- Discordia is about the celebration of chaos, and everyone was correspondingly doing their own thing. (My thing was to largely sit back quietly and take in the ritual, because I was curious as to how it would go. The thing of the woman on my right was to sort-of pay attention in the manner of a bored 5-year-old, and occasionally overtalk the ritual leaders in a manner that made it difficult for me to do my thing. Eris forgive me my impatience.)

The Sandman comics focus on a group of beings called The Endless -- seven siblings who embody natural forces, whose names all start with D, and who are older and more powerful than the gods. In the comics, Destruction walked away from his post -- causing destruction in the universe to become less directed and meaningful. During the comic series, Delirium tried to find Destruction again and bring him back -- roping some of her siblings into helping, and ultimately locating him again.

We started off by summoning Delirium by blowing bubbles and blowing into "sacred noisemakers"; she arrived and moped about her brother Destruction being missing -- some time ago he had abdicated his duties. She helped us summon Dream (by all feigning sleep) and Death (by popping black balloons: "vessels of our last breath"), and the three of them asked around the audience if anyone had seen Destruction or any of the leads that should have taken us to him. Finally, we were all asked to create a Destruction sigil (crafts time! Construction paper and crayons!), and to tear it in half as an act of destruction to help summon him.

At that point, Destruction -- who had been quietly sitting in the back of the room all along, participating in the ritual with the rest of us, leapt to his feet in disgust. "I'm here already!" he yelled, cranky at all the effort being undertaken to find him -- and grudgingly answered the question of why he had left his post. Humans are too good at destruction already, he said, and don't need his help. But what his supervision was doing was removing human responsibility from the act of destruction: if he was guiding human hands from behind the scenes, then the destruction humanity was causing wasn't really their fault. When he refused to assist in that process, the responsibility was laid on humanity -- where it belonged. He then told us to take home our half of the Destruction sigil as a reminder of the responsibility and the power we all possess.

It was exactly what I needed at the time: pop magick done seriously and presented well, in a setting where there was no expectation of the crowd taking anything at face value, and everyone was free to decide exactly how much they wanted to take out of it. There was a nice, affirming takeaway message, and -- as I found out afterwards -- a hilarious demonstration of the power of creative destruction.

You see, in the next room over, there's a Goetic demon evocation taking place.

The summoner has gone through about half an hour of meticulous preparation and explanation, and is halfway through drawing the evocation circle. Evocation is Serious Business. Every mark has to be perfect, every line complete, before the demon can --

-- and the darkened room full of onlookers suddenly hears the muffled voice of Destruction shouting through the wall: "I'm here already!"

As one, the room stops dead.

Then bursts into helpless, relieved laughter.

(Discordians 1. Demons 0.)

Current Location: home
Current Music: Carnival of Faith, "Schizophrenic Demon"
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From:siege
Date:March 1st, 2010 11:43 am (UTC)
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I recently did some investigating into "root words", the foundations of a given language... and after going through a few different cultural roots, I started receiving roots for non-cultural things: the root word, that is, the base idea of energy is "flow". The root word for matter is "be". The root for time is "process". And so on. Or at least, that's what I was told.

Interestingly, the root word for dragons in general is also "flow".
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From:athelind
Date:March 1st, 2010 08:54 pm (UTC)
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As Wikipedia likes to say, Citation Needed. This etymology intrigues me; I want to read more.
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From:krinndnz
Date:March 1st, 2010 01:55 pm (UTC)
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Anecdotes! Ah, story.
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From:baxil
Date:March 2nd, 2010 08:32 pm (UTC)
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Unrelated: Having done a little googling and reading up on Rozen Maiden (and knowing you as I do), I think I get why furry Suiseiseki is a tiger. But would you indulge me with the full story behind the icon?
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From:zuki_san
Date:March 1st, 2010 03:08 pm (UTC)
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"I'm here already!"

Good story, I'll remember that.

I've got to save up the money and get myself to a PantheaCon sometime.
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From:baxil
Date:March 2nd, 2010 08:28 pm (UTC)
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As previously mentioned, it's a bit of an adjustment if you're used to conventions more generally; PCon is more of a Gathering Of The Tribes that happens to be in a hotel and tagged with the "con" label.

But if you walk in knowing what to expect, it can be really worthwhile!
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From:baphnedia
Date:March 1st, 2010 04:16 pm (UTC)
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Yay keyboard cat! :D
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From:baxil
Date:March 2nd, 2010 08:30 pm (UTC)
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From:paka
Date:March 1st, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
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I'm with you on 2) there. Pretty much the only in-person guidance I ever had about this animism stuff (and my "mentor" who wasn't really, may have been completely hokey - so take it with a little skepticism) was that basically, the other spirits out there are, first and foremost, people. Treat them like you'd treat anyone human you talk to; don't ask them for help if it's not something they can do, really don't ask them for help if it's not something they're okay with, and don't just blankly assume that they're going to be thrilled to help you out.
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From:baxil
Date:March 2nd, 2010 08:44 pm (UTC)
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((Vigorous nodding.))

I should be careful to specify that this isn't a universal thing. I/we work with spirits, which is to say, people like us who happen to be disembodied, but there are definitely Other Things out there that should be approached on their own terms; totems/archetypes/gods do work on a different level and the people who work with them in those other ways are doing nothing at all wrong.
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From:tracerj
Date:March 1st, 2010 06:53 pm (UTC)
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When a Discordian ritual can get a little serious in the right way and make someone else's serious ritual a little silly in the right way, that is the most successful ritual EVER. Nicely told.
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From:baxil
Date:March 2nd, 2010 08:46 pm (UTC)
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Thank you, and agreed! (The ritual leaders got quite a kick out of the story too.)
(Deleted comment)
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From:athelind
Date:March 1st, 2010 09:10 pm (UTC)
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Ah, synchronicity.

I am wholly in line with Pop Culture As Ritual right now.

You see, when I was in the process of moving out, I realized that I needed to get my head together, and brought with me a box full of books to "feed my head" with "Things I KNOW, but need to LEARN". Books about philosophy, about General Semantics, about thinking and feeling and reaching into the spiritual life of the world.

I've picked them up, started them, and put them down again, each in turn. None of them were speaking to me.

thoughtsdriftby, as it turns out, has the entire run of Babylon 5 on DVD. Since I haven't watched the show since its original airing, I started plugging in a disc every now and then and watching it, a few episodes at a time.

And that spoke to me. Mr. Straczynski's "novel for television" has been telling me the story I need to hear right now -- it resonates with my life and the choices I have to make.

And that's why an anecdote about a pop-culture ritual about Destruction and Responsibility that culminates with the revelation that "I'm Here Already!" just got plugged into my LJ Memories.

Edited at 2010-03-01 09:13 pm (UTC)
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From:baxil
Date:March 2nd, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
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I think that, in a subtly profound way a lot of people miss, Pop Culture magic is the most honest magic there is in our culture. All of the various reconstructionist and historical magical traditions draw from symbols that used to be central to the cultures in which those people (and magicians) were embedded, and now those symbols are basically arbitrary because we (as educated, suburban, technological, thoroughly modern beings) have only tangential connection to what they used to represent.

Magic that draws from our modern myths can seem silly on the surface, but it's telling the same stories and working with the same archetypes and enabling the same psychological transformations as it ever did; and by giving those things to us in terms of something we truly can resonate with, pop magic is part of a proud and relevant tradition going all the way back to magic's first roots.

(Of course, this isn't 100% of what I believe; I take my draconity and its embedded spiritual system seriously, and I deal with that on a different level from how I approach the pop-culture work. But there's a reason I ended up at the Discordian ritual that night rather than any of the other dozen equally profound rituals that were running throughout the evening.)

Increasingly, both my players and I have been finding that the Fireborn game I'm running is spilling its mythic content out into our real lives. (As with so many other things, I need to write up a post on this.) So I definitely hear you about the B5 resonance.

Thanks for the +memory. :)
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From:arethinn
Date:March 1st, 2010 10:27 pm (UTC)
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And a trick that can allegedly induce a short-term (1/2-hour) state of dissociation/magical perception: Put essential oil of clarey sage (specifically clarey sage, which "smells like cold wet tea bags") on your left wrist pulse point, under your left nostril, and on your left temple. (This sends the intuitive side of your brain into overdrive; he says you can get the same effect by putting frankincense oil in the same places on the right side of your body, which lulls the intellectual side into sleep.)

You're supposed to do the clary sage and frankincense at the same time.

Also, I have no idea why he's characterizing the smell of clary sage oil as "cold wet tea bags"; it's not how I'd describe it at all, although I can't think of what other words to use. To me it's one of those things which smells like itself and which you refer to when trying to describe other smells (such as, to use a more common example, peppermint).
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From:baxil
Date:March 2nd, 2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
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Oh, thanks! Noted for future use. From your correction, can I assume you've tried this yourself? What were your experiences?

(Having no experience with clarey sage, I'll take your word on the smell.)
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From:elynne
Date:March 2nd, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)
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heeeheheheheheee. Ah, Discordianism. ^.^ That's an excellent story, thank you!
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From:firestrike
Date:March 3rd, 2010 02:01 am (UTC)
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I woke up the next morning in a hotel room with two women and a hangover ... wearing a wedding ring.

And where, pray tell, does a hangover wear a wedding ring?
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From:baxil
Date:March 3rd, 2010 07:21 am (UTC)
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My dear sir, you misread me! I woke up in a hotel room with two women and an ellipsis.

Perhaps the confusion stems from that latter specimen being a rare and wily Hangover Ellipsis (Punctuatrix postmargaritavilli), which (as I discovered in conversation after staring somewhat rudely at its terminal dot) was married to a lovely semicolon from Lodi.
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From:tyrsalvia
Date:March 4th, 2010 11:21 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for the great review! Glad you liked it! We really enjoyed meeting you.
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From:pvck
Date:March 6th, 2010 03:45 am (UTC)
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I'm here already, too. ;>

Speaking as Destruction, I'm glad you liked it. And thanks for the write-up, I've been pointing people here when they ask for the story.
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