The Disguised Gods–Xenia and the Necessary Tension of Xeper

Xenia is a concept engineered by the ancient Greeks which is essentially what we would regard in the postmodern era as hospitality. This idea was fundamental to the Greeks as it served as a cornerstone for human interaction in their households.

There are three rules to Xenia when it comes to the relationship guests and hosts have with one another:

  1. A guest could not insult the host, make demands of the host, or refuse Xenia.
  2. The host could not insult the guest, fail to provide protection for the guest, or fail to be as hospitable as possible.
  3. Gifts and exchange of gifts is customary. Guests weren’t necessarily expected to bring gifts but it was considered good Xenia to do so.

Xenia Proper

I find Xenia fascinating for providing–at least in my opinion, the ground work for some of the ideas brought forth in modern Satanism in the twentieth century. It’s no secret that many of the ideas expressed in “The Satanic Bible” were quite literally lifted from the likes of Ragnar Redbeard’s “Might is Right,” Niccolò Machiavelli’s “The Prince,” and Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.” Anton LaVey’s “Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth” are no exception to this re-appropriation of good ideas. The similarities between Xenia and the following should come to no surprise:

Rule 3. When in another’s lair, show him respect or else do not go there.

Rule 4. If a guest in your lair annoys you, treat him cruelly and without mercy.

Rule three is essentially the guests’ rule for Xenia. Rule four, however, is much more curious. It goes without saying that the hostess should put every effort to insure her guest’s comfort and needs. What isn’t overtly spelled out in the ancient Greek concept of Xenia that is in LaVey’s “Eleven Rules” is the course of action the hostess should take if bad Xenia is expressed towards her and her household. Here LaVey essentially wrote the unwritten rule to the concept of Xenia.

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The ancient Greeks were very well aware of this “unwritten rule.” The repercussions for displaying bad Xenia in another individual’s household popped up again and again in many popular examples of ancient Greek literature. The best example comes at the end Homer’s “The Odyssey” with the death of Penolope’s suitors who give a great example of how to be bad guests in another person’s home, eating and drinking large quantities with no respect for Odysseus, his son Telemachus, and Penelope. They were also more or less squatters taking up residence in Odysseus’s home for over three years. This line towards the end of the “The Odyssey” foreshadows their fate with regards to their transgression towards the unwritten rule of Xenia:

“For these were laughing aloud as they prepared a dinner that was sweet and staying, for they had made a very big sacrifice; but there could not be a meal that was more unpleasant than this one, such was to be the attack that the powerful man and the goddess would make on them. For they had first begun the wrongdoing.” (Homer 308)

The Disguised Gods–Lesser Black Magic for the subtle

One aspect of Xenia that intrigues me most is something I like to call the disguised god. Essentially what this entails is using a disguise to test a person’s true character towards you. During the course of “The Odyssey” both the goddess Athene and Odysseus use disguise as a method to confirm the sincerity of others towards their expression of proper Xenia. Penelope’s would-be suitors would eventually pay with their lives for coming to blows with the rules of Xenia, with Odysseus killing them all off at the end of the poem.

This concept can be applied when we come into contact with various sources of new information through our interaction with the multitudes of people constantly coming into and out of our lives. Picture your mind as a house. Information coming in from outside of yourself are guests in your house. Without a constant flow of information coming in and out of your “house” it would be impossible for you to be able to refine yourself in such a way that you are able to understand the things that make you tick–as well as what your limitations might be. Using Xenia with regards to your “mind-house” allows for one way of apprehending the necessary tensions in order to encounter Xeper.

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The knee jerk reaction to topics of discussion and/or people we disagree with is embodied by LaVey’s fourth rule of the earth. It is vital to recognize that our natural reactions mean to treat these things “cruelly and without mercy.” In postmodern society, we encounter this on a regular basis. Perhaps this is one of the reasons you should never bring up politics or religion in a bar. Some liberals, blue-haired man-hating femininsts, Nazis, men’s rights activists, Christians, and even Satanists, really under-emphasize their love for existing within self-contained echo chambers. These echo chambers may be called something else, such as a “community of like minded people,” a “congregation,” or a “coven.” While I will not discount the advantages of having a group like this to be a part of, if every person shared the same ontological and spiritual views it would be one boring planet.

Being able to argue with individuals who share other perspectives without killing each other, or taking personal offense to potential discussions serves as a springboard for bringing about tension to understand, shift, or solidify your own views that much better. In the context of the mental household and how it relates to Xenia, it’s important to recognize that a little tension helps to strengthen character as well as the ability to present an argument outside of the echo chamber of whatever demographic you belong or don’t belong to.

I’m all for a healthy argument, and we do in fact need tension in our initiatory pursuits to be able to experience Xeper. Where we must be aware that we should be able to have civil conversations with individuals that exist outside of our echo chambers, we must also be aware that there are people who will never be able to argue outside of their own. Many of these people aren’t bad per se, they just choose to attach existential limitations onto their views.

In my opinion, by employing the concept of the disguised god in situations like these you are also employing the rules of Xenia by essentially closing doors to the potential for a productive discussion–because there absolutely cannot be one.

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You never want to reveal vital personal details about yourself when testing character. Pulling back the curtain ever so slightly when appropriate is enough. The disguised god is a lot like being an inquisitor that cannot be seen. Allowing a person to tell me all about themselves or whatever they would prefer to talk about is a good strategy in extracting information I might find pertinent. The intention is to always disclosing their true natures whether they’re conscious of it or not. Also it’s important to keep in mind more than what an individual is actually saying. For example, body language, mode of dress, the way a person carries themselves, changes in voice inflection, and above all the eyes are a good way to delve deeper into a person’s character.

In the context of determining true natures, Xenia can provide simple rules to engage others by. These rules can provide an invaluable tool in the exploration of your own beliefs by opening yourself up to the right amount of necessary tension that may illicit a positive change or growth to your worldview.

 

 

 

 

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The Disguised Gods–Xenia and the Necessary Tension of Xeper

Rûna Goes Meta

Meta is a term that’s been kicking around in various gaming communities for a few years now. When we talk about meta in a game it is the self-referential process which something must be done in order to arrive at a satisfying conclusion. I.E. Winning. This process can be changed and can evolve with time through trial and error. Meta urges players like Rûna urges initiates to seek out the proverbial “hidden.” For instance when you sit down and play a game like Guilty Gear X2 meta compels players to act and react in certain ways against other players. As older strategies for dealing with other players become common place, meta-game evolves as a way to leverage potential future victories against your fellow competitors.

Meta, much like Rûna is able to be applied to how we form questions and answers, discover solutions to old problems, and arrive at new questions as a result of those solutions. Compelling literature and television shows, can offer a microcosmic depiction of how the process of Rûna can work and how it also is meta at the same time.

Rûna is what you might call an impelling word. Through Rûna we are driven to seek out seemingly hidden questions and unknown curiosities that burn deep within the mythos of the self. She whispers simplicity to which we reply with dissatisfaction.

First time viewers to the anime (巌窟王) “Gankutsuou,” an adaptation of Dumas’s “The Count of Monte Cristo” is an example of how our curiosity for the world we cannot see can drive us to obsessive investigation. Who is the Count? Why is he making an effort to become acquainted with Albert? What is his relationship to Mercedes? etc.

In the fantasy microcosm that is Gankutsuou we are exposed to a world that is filled with more and more questions. When new details are brought into focus, our perception warps triggering false positives, blurring our interpretation of previous questions we may have had before.

When we witness the mysterious we are driven by our curiosity to discover what makes it so. This is what makes Rûna is an impelling word. This force of curiosity is also the primary cause of how the meta-game in various gaming communities are both created and destroyed.

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“Gankutsuou” is an exercise in how the mind can work when exposed to a body of work that provides few answers. It replaces these answers with whispers of details that provide the viewer/witness with questions, and questions within questions. These questions are intentionally meant to steer us off course. And in order to illicit an emotional response through the resolution of the process that is “Gankutsuou” we must be bombarded by an extended session of false answers and questions. This allows us to witness a transformation of the hidden into an unexpected tragic loss of life or ideals.

It’s all very meta. Of course, Rûna in it of itself is meta. You have a question about something that’s completely unknown to you? Try to find the answer. You’ll always find a bombardment of more questions, many of which often reference one another. The subtle irony in all of this is the simple idea that when we arrive at an answer we will always find a way to pose another question as to why we’ve arrived at that specific answer.

In an initiatory sense, the process of becoming is also meta. Lady Rûna urges you to evolve through her “Awaken, See, Act” mantra only to have you start once again when you reach your next preferred state of existence. Initiation is a room of mirrors stretching into the very limits of your desire to continue with it.

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Application–Awaken, See, Act

Speaking from personal experience, I’ve spent the better part of the last year just completely at a loss of what I needed to do in order to feel “whole.” It’s hasn’t been an easy ride. Leaving New England last June meant I was leaving all of the things that I used to do in that space.

The only thing guiding me through this new and unknown life in the desert of Arizona has been my curiosity for the possible. Rûna, like a fly buzzing in my ear has been urging me to seek out new avenues in which I can be sovereign in this new space. I’ve had a lot of false starts–I even tried to do some of the same things I did back in Massachusetts.  Unfortunately, I’ve come up short every time.

One of the things I’ve become hyper focused on in my life through this period of trial and error is an investigation of what it means to live a balanced lifestyle. This is directly related to how I view myself in an unfettered sovereign environment. It is also related to how I view myself in general.

If achieving a more balanced lifestyle is the answer to my current dissatisfaction in my life then how do I get there?

A balanced lifestyle only has one law: don’t spread out too much into one direction. It’s all too easy to become too situated into an easy lifestyle, which means having concern for being comfortable. In the 21st century, the easy lifestyle means spending 80% of your day on your ass and the other 20% finding ways to spend it there. We relax entirely too much. Relaxation has its place, but it isn’t something that makes me feel particularly  fulfilled.

I need strife. So where do I find it? Over the last year, I slacked real hard on physical activity. In New England, I used to work a job where I was on my feet all day. I now work a job where I sit at a desk all day. Add that to a rather sedentary lifestyle at home and you have a recipe for disaster.

The question I’ve had for myself over the last nine months was, “What can I do to add something physical to my lifestyle?” I assessed what I knew and came up with several possibilities.

Running isn’t all that fun. I used to run five miles four times a week with my Rhodesian Ridgeback. It sucked. Anyone that says it’s amazing is wrong. Running sucks. Stop lying to yourself, the human body isn’t made to run long distances like that. Aerobics also suck. I used to do that a few times a week as well. Both are hard on the knees, and both aren’t especially cerebral. I’ve never been the kind of person to enjoy team sports, or lift weights either. So what else is there?

I played with the idea of doing Wing Chun for MONTHS. I really liked the style after watching Ip Man four times in a row one day. I never acted on the idea, however, since the only place to learn it in Tucson that wasn’t a McDojo was an hour drive from my apartment. Long drives can get brutal. I eventually settled on joining a group that did Tai Chi at our local Chinese Cultural Center. I went religiously every Tuesday and soon caught on that it was a club for 60+ singles to bang after class. I discovered that Tai Chi had some things I liked, although it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. Especially when it came to joining in on extra curricular activities with people twice my age. I’m sure they would’ve loved that.

Old. Hairy. Balls. SAY NO MORE. I’M ALL SET.

My search continued. It was clear that I wanted to do martial arts. I spent more time looking, researching, visiting places to pursue my interest in martial arts further. Like a fly buzzing in my ear, my fiance kept mentioning a dojo to me that he tried a class out at last summer. He said they did three hour training sessions twice a week, which had scared him away from it. They did this weird style of martial art I had never heard of–Bagua Zhang. The best part? The dojo was less than a mile away in a re-purposed villa down a hidden road.

I was scared. I decided to email them for more information, to which they said I should come down and give it a try. I asked my fiance if I’d be okay going down there on my own, and he seemed to think that I would. I was still scared despite having his vote of confidence. The attention that one woman can get in a place swamped with a bunch of men can be intimidating.

In the end, I decided to make the short drive out to their dojo to investigate whether or not this was something I could get on board with.

The dojo was very traditional. I was greeted by two evil looking chinese guardian lions on the outside, and four very quiet people on the inside slapping the shit out of their bodies. They were warming up. I jumped in. The dojo had a nice vibe to it. Wooden chinese style shutters. No a/c. No punishing fluorescent lights. There were paintings of various Wudang masters all around us. There was a huge imposing statue on the far end. The training session was oddly quiet. I felt like I could genuinely hear myself think in there. My workday melted away. I came back for another session. And then another. And another.

I had just successfully added meaningful physical activity to my weekly routine. And besides, how many people do you know have a bunch of old Wudang masters watching them workout for six hours a week? I know at least one now!

I’m by no means near the end of my never ending pursuit of the hidden. As I’ve come to find out in my practice of Bagua Zhang there is so much I don’t know about myself. There are so many variables to consider that I was never aware of–for example, making deliberate movements requires an intense control over your consciousness. I feel like in the practice of this art I’m somehow interfacing with a part of myself I never knew. In the previous iterations of myself I always regarded myself to be an intellectual. For some reason though, while Bagua is an intense and difficult workout I have been excelling at it. Much to my surprise. I never knew I had this much belly fire. Maybe I actually have the capacity to be physically “intellectual.” Might as well give it the old college try while I’m young.

I mean what’s the worst that can happen? I develop a lifelong practice that will prove everything I used to think about myself wrong?

Conclusion

Part of figuring out where we want to go in life has to do with finding our own answers. Like a math problem we’re often given the answer first. Curiosity for what hides behind the value of X, is the why, the how, and the means to arrive at the desired answer. Sometimes you don’t get it the first or second time. Sometimes you don’t even get it the third time around. Pursuing wonder is what drives the working initiate forward into the places he or she wants to go. Losing that sense of wonder takes them away from it.

Reyn til Rûna!

 

 

 

 

Rûna Goes Meta

Buying the Self

I woke up this morning and realized that I’m not okay. I realized that I am an easy going person. That I don’t let anything bother me. Even if those things should bother me. I blow them off with laughter, put on a facade, or use selective hearing to block them out. I figure that if my brain doesn’t register something as a conflict then I can avoid it.

For as long as I can remember I’ve regarded myself to be an autonomous individual. But honestly, that couldn’t be so far from the truth. I’m evasive. I care what other people think, and what I say always takes a back seat to the agendas of others.

Being an easy going person is wonderful for everyone–except yourself. You make certain concessions to your personality that allow you to “overlook” the shortcomings of others. To concepts that you disagree with. And to the situations that you could’ve avoided all together if you would’ve just put your foot down instead of doing the nice thing.

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The nice thing isn’t always the right thing. And as I’ve come to realize sometimes the right thing isn’t always nice. 

Courage is what makes this especially troubling to deal with. I tend to be naturally scared of the world. Of doing things. Of doing the things I like to do. Of telling people what I think. Typically, if the risk is too high I don’t bother to take it for fear of what might happen if I do.

It’s easy to look at initiation and simply say, “it’s hard.” Yeah–it’s hard. But that’s not enough of a reason to understand why it’s like that. Over the course of my own initiatory work I’ve become bombarded by ideas, personalities, and concepts that beg for you to accept them as valuable and worthy of assimilation into your own sense of self. At the end of the day though, the difference between a successful examination of these three things and a failed one is determined by a fine line how much of it you actually buy into.

The situation: You join the Temple of Set. You become excited at all the possibilities of having a magical school in your back pocket to use as a tool for your own initiation. You shred through all the materials available to you in the Crystal Tablet and at the end of the day you’re nodding your head. You agree with everything that you’ve read. And seeing that you’re in this for the long haul–you can’t afford to fail in understanding the basic ideas brought forth to you during your mutual evaluation period.

You’re sucking up this bombardment of ideas so fast that you’re absorbing none of it. And you’re losing the ideas so quickly that you don’t have any way to clean yourself up long enough to make any sense of it. Yes, the Setian method of initiation is messy. But make no mistake, there are no shotgun weddings in the Temple of Set.

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So you got your blue belt in a year at your local McDojo. What a badass you are. I’m sure you earned it. You earned that blue belt in a year because you bought into it. With money. Just so your Ted Danson lookalike of a sensei could proclaim that you had the skills to pay his bills with your credit card. At least you look smooth in that gi.

I’m rolling my eyes right about now.

Cultivating self-honesty is partially responsible for why initiation is exceedingly difficult to continue paying attention to over time.

Nothing in your world worth doing is ever easy.

And just because you understand something doesn’t mean that you must also agree with it.

Buying into every idea that comes your way makes you less of an individual. Being open to the possibility of philosophical, ethical, and logical divergence, however, does make you become more like yourself. Having the bellyfire to disagree with an idea, a concept, or a person gives you a good indicator that you’re headed in the right (or should I say left?) direction that’s both unique and individual to your initiatory needs.

And that babycakes, is why Xeper is endless.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buying the Self

Almost Certain Hurt

I’ve been thinking about a lot of different things lately. Death is among one of the most intriguing things I’ve really been jumping into. I feel that as I’ve grown older it’s around me more and more. I’m more keen to it.

Winners and losers. They will always be there. Last year, I stepped on a few people consciously. For the first time in my life I stood by myself first and let other people in my life take a back seat. When we stand to lose the things important to us we have two options. One, we can choose to be stepped on–because we’re too scared at the possible consequences that might come out of being the one who does the stepping. Two, we break a few eggs.

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Belief. We make up a large majority of the things that cause us almost certain hurt inside of our heads. Selective hearing. We can consciously choose to elect ignorance in the same way that we consciously choose to fuck a few people over in our lives to get ahead. Fucking other people over isn’t exclusive to those subjectively evil individuals in the world.

We are held back because we hold ourselves back. Desire. He who restrains it does so because he is weak enough to be restrained. But why? Because we are taught that weakness is okay. Weakness is not okay. Weakness means you are not fit. Not being fit means you’re off to the gallows. You dig the holes and bury yourselves.

Everything we know, everything that we think we know exists only on the basis of what we experience. What we perceive. There are so many things out there in the so-called universe that we cannot perceive. An infinity of possibilities, an ocean of knowledge you and I will never know or understand. I used to think that uploading my consciousness into a computer would be the most sovereign thing for me to do at the end of my life. But now I’m not so sure. What part of my monkey brain wants to keep living on in the same way that I do now?

Almost Certain Hurt

Keep Swimming

Excuse me while I do some thinking out loud.

I don’t often say this, but I’ve been sad lately. I don’t mean a depressive–“I want to kill myself” sadness. I’ve just been sad. This probably sounds like an entitled first worlder having the blues over her materialistic life. I could see that. I assure you that it isn’t. I would simply call it–indigestion to change. This year has been a lot to take in–a major surgery, a cross-country move, and a job change. It’s a lot to adjust to. You could say I traded my old life for a new one.

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Overall, life is better than it ever has been. I can’t complain. There is still something missing though. In some ways I can identify that that something is independence. I miss New England. There’s nothing quite like being able to walk in the woods alone in the late afternoon. The silence is deafening. Make no mistake, I’ve spent time investigating the desert. I can’t wait until Summer is over. I hear Autumn and Winter are definitely something else from what we have back in New England. I’m looking forward to having my first snowless winter in quite some time.

The skies around Tucson can be gorgeous. There’s something about being able to look up and being able to see the stars. It’s like opening your eyes for the first time. I’ve always lived in areas with a lot of light pollution, clouds–or both. It’s interesting to be able to finally see the stars. I’ve been missing this my entire life.

My musical endeavours could always be better. I’ve been learning a lot of new things from a production stand point, but I’m still having a hard time. I miss having creative people to jam with. I want to get into an actual studio again with an actual band. Being able to produce my own songs at home is great, but it’s extremely self-limiting. I like getting instant “no-bullshit” feedback about the music I write. The Internet isn’t good for that. Sure, you can get instant feedback–but it’s slathered head-to-toe with bullshit.

swimmingI’ve had to let go of a lot of things this year. I still think there are a lot of things I still need to let go of. It’s not enough to simply tread water. I need to jump in and keep swimming.

Keep Swimming