The Fifth Eclipse 

In all directions, I see mountains. And beyond those mountains exist the Great Darkness. Nothingness. Abstraction. Time moving forward, dragging its rusted body across the dimensions in a spiral. Every minute inevitibility comes more and more into focus. What does it mean to End? I gorge on the Never, bringing into being a renewal of sacrifice. My subconscious, a conduit, digests that which lies on the other side of the black towering Eclipse. My first deed, created out of the earth like a disfigured shape wrapped in decay, engulfs the whole of the earth in flaming fire. 

Yes, I am willing to forget myself for myself. Sacrificing the who I was for the who I am to be. 

The walls do weep the saddest shade of red wailing for relief to shine the light of divinity elsewhere. Their shadows creep towards the pinnacle strangling every rose that dare bloom in the absent sun. 

O HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is she who raises the glass of invention. Her flesh a vessel to be shed–motionless and Dead. 


Raise up your beleaguered body from the ashes of the old, for there exist no gods without imperfection, the means to create, and the ability to recognize that even the future can be reshaped and disfigured in the image of We. 

Hard is the heart of fate. And every tribute? A feast for the hand of Me.  

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The Fifth Eclipse 

Just Send Me To Hell

Dear Readers,

The biggest lie that you can ever tell yourself is that you are perfect. I remember a time when I was the paragon of perfection. I was perfect in every single way–I could do no wrong. I was the prettiest. The strongest. The absolute Queen of all and everything. This was a product of a self-imposed solipsism–the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist.

In a vacuum, perhaps all of these things would be true, but as far as I can tell, that isn’t reality.

Reality is communication. Without communication you are nothing. Without it, you will never get anything you want or need. Without communication you don’t exist. Humans are created through communication–through the physical transfer of genetic information. We are brought into this world through information communicated to doctors for years before they’re permitted to deliver babies. We are raised through communication, and eventually we discover our true natures through it.

Xepera Xeper Xeperu.

Solipsism

As a millennial, my struggle is vastly different than my parents, and even moreso than their parents. I have had the displeasure of living through the death of the old world, and adapting to the new. When I was little, there was no Internet. If we wanted to communicate, the most convenient method was through using the telephone. I remember writing a physical letter in the fourth grade to Lynn Reid Banks. And she never answered. I probably sent it to the wrong address.

Communication used to be much more visceral. It also used to be much more veiled and hidden than it is now. I remember the first time I logged into America Online sometime back in 1995. Email excited me, but what really got me going was the ability to instantly search for information. I could search for anything that I could possibly imagine. The only limitation in this respect was my imagination. The best part of this? Is that I could do it with some measure of anonymity, free from the judgement of others and what they might think of me for spending way too much time reading about obscure anime that hadn’t yet hit my local Suncoast video.

The Internet was so groundbreakingly wonderful because it gave me a liminal space in which I could be myself, by myself. After being introduced to this channel of nearly unlimited knowledge and information it was hard to even imagine going back to the way things were before.

As a function of being a millennial, I spend a lot of time by myself cruising the Internet for various reasons. To most of us, the Internet is nothing more than a toy to edify our body’s need for endorphins. The danger in this is that reality becomes warped when we don’t get out of the self-imposed internet bubble. As a function of “living” in a bubble, we become warped from confinement, thus creating various complexes within our identities.

In Setian jargon, these complexes are best represented by the serpent Apep, filling us with delusion. The perfection delusion created by embracing solipsism is one that offers comfort, peace of mind, and confidence–so long as our subjective selves do not directly interface with the subjective bubble of somebody else. With the convenience of indirect communication over the wide wide web, many of us have lost our ability to interface with other people directly. Visceral communication is a rare commodity right now. My generation can’t keep their jobs, relationships, or lives in order because we were brought up with Apep constantly whispering lies into our ears. Lies telling us that “we are all special.” I mean, honestly, in a way, we are all special. Each one of us a unique flower. We shouldn’t let that go to our heads though. It limits our ability to understand who we really are. 

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Being perfect is bullshit. Society in the United States has always been framed around the so-called “American dream.” Nowadays that entails being a baller with shitloads of money, women, the perfect body, the perfect life. You know–being comfortable without a worry in the world. I often imagine the Christian ideal of Heaven to embody this type of situation. I’m pretty sure I would get bored after a few months of living like that. Just send me to Hell already.

If I recall correctly, “the American Dream” used to represent something much more meaningful. It used to mean, escaping the country, the situation, or circumstance that held you down from truly becoming an autonomous human being. Becoming autonomous is a messy, uncomfortable process. Of course, that just makes it all the more exciting. It gives us something to look forward to. It allows us to exercise true freedom through our choices, both good and bad. If we could predict everything, many of us would bet the farm at horse races everyday. I know that I would. But how long would that keep us entertained? And at the end of the day, is mere entertainment true delight? Or just a means to murder mother time?

True delight is derived through communicating your needs to the world. Directly. It comes from finding your tribe. From that physical handshake. The smell of farts in your three hour Yoga class. The discomfort of having to wake up at 4am for work. It comes from doing the things you don’t really want to do, in order to be the person you want to be. It’s okay to hide from the world every now and then. We all need alone time. But Xeper can’t be experienced without the vital ingredient so many of us millennials have grown apart from. Human interaction. Be awkward. Be weird. Be aloof. But remember to communicate. This is your reminder for the month of June to communicate. And to smile when you do it. Even if you have a face only a mother can love.

Xeper through Imperfection,

Nikoletta Winters

Just Send Me To Hell

Finding Ekstasis: Xeper in the Art of Fighting

Last spring, I began studying Baguazhang. I had spent the year before acclimating to a new job that required me to be in an office forty hours a week. About eight months into my tenure as an office dwelling pencil pusher I started feeling sick. My body ached. My stomach was constantly in shambles. I started shaking all the time. This wasn’t surprising considering the lack of physical activity I was getting between my day job and producing music at home. Both of these things required me to be sedentary for upwards of eighteen hours a day. I would go to bed and repeat the cycle the next day, which, in retrospect is a horrifying experience to re-live in my mind. The process of breaking out of this self-destructive cycle began with my investigation into traditional Japanese fan dancing, Wing Chun, and Tai Chi. Unfortunately, I couldn’t participate in the fan dancing classes because they happened while I had work. The local Wing Chun school was quite promising, but it was about forty minutes away from where I lived. I did actually start doing Tai Chi for about two months with a rather nice group of people at the local Chinese Cultural center in Tucson, but I quickly bailed on them after realizing that it was a glorified swingers club for people above the age of 55.

I began searching for solutions closer to my apartment and discovered a school that taught internal Chinese martial arts literally a mile down the road. I wrote their association and was informed about their meeting times and attended my first class. The school was hidden in plain sight. The only indicator that the school was different than the houses around it were the two ivory “foo dogs” that stood watch at the entrance. When I entered, I was greeted by paintings and photos of smiling Bagua and Xingyiquan practitioners Dong Hai Chuan, Liang Zhenpu, Gao Yisheng, Zhang Junfeng, Li Guichang and a group of five people slapping the shit out of their bodies. At first I wanted to laugh, but I was quickly beckoned into the circle to join in on the “light” body slapping.

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I later discovered that light body slapping is done at the start of every class to essentially wake the body up by getting the blood flowing. In the context of my initiation this fit in well as a way to physically explore what it meant to literally go from white to red and back again. With every slap, my circulation improved, my blood rose to the surface of my skin, and for a few hours several times a week I began to realize the importance of using exercise as a way to quiet the brain.

Notice, I did not say my practice of Baguazhang shuts down the brain. Baguazhang is an internal martial art. It works by activating different structures in the brain that I don’t normally use while simultaneously quieting the prefrontal cortex. This allows me to stimulate a state of Flow by being able to focus wholly on what I’m doing without being interrupted by my self-consciousness. Bruce Lee referred to this as the “emptying of the cup.”

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Bagua has given me an outlet to stimulate my ability to achieve a state of Flow with greater frequency and ease. My initial experience with using martial arts in this way didn’t come until I was able to have a grasp the basics of my chosen fighting art. Which is why I’ve only really begun to write about it now–this is a new, unexpected development in my personal quest to constantly improve.

Flow requires us to bring several automatized skills together in order to kick up our focus to a level that allows us to experience it. It takes awhile when we begin to learn a new skill or artform before we can actually experience a brain quieting flow-state. Steven Kotler, author of “The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance” would describe this experience as “Transient Hypofrontality:”

“In flow, parts of the brain aren’t becoming more hyperactive, they’re actually slowing down, shutting down. The technical term for this is transient, meaning temporary, hypo frontality. Hypo[…]the opposite of hyper means to slow down, to shut down, to deactivate. And frontality is the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that houses your higher cognitive functions, your sense of morality, your sense of will, your sense of self.”

I get a sense of deep embodiment when I practice Baguazhang. There’s nothing quite like being locked eye to eye with another person while focusing on multiple outlets of your own physicality. The ancient Greeks called this deep embodiment, ἔκστασις (Ekstasis). Ekstasis can be best described as an altered state beyond the normal “sense of self.” Ekstasis is NOT Flow, but it is a byproduct of being able to achieve Flow on a regular basis. In a Setian context, being able to experience Ekstasis means tapping into my “divine pattern.”

Now just imagine how amazing I feel by being able to achieve Ekstasis a several times a week! Baguazhang has all but become not only a powerful tool, but a conduit in which I can interface with my higher self so long as I continue to practice it or something like it.

Tapping into Flow takes practice. When it comes to my practice of Bagua I fail at tapping into it several times a session. This is usually caused by me trying to mentally dissect forms or movements. In terms of my physicality this “over-thinking” comes from making use of my prefrontal cortex.

I’ve experienced wonderful success imprinting myself with the overload of information I get from my practice the less “think” about it. And the less I think about it, the more I experience Ekstasis by having meaningful personal breakthroughs on a regular basis.

For instance, I was able to fully retain the positions of the nine palaces and the thirteen elbow form last month after working with them each for half an hour. Everything prior to that took several months for me learn. Part of my ability to retain this information comes from the challenge of seeing if I could actually do it, which I could surprisingly, but part of it also comes from a grasp of the basic movements I’ve spent perfecting since last spring.

Bagua has taught me how to get in touch with my immediate physicality–a.k.a. those things that I can see in the mirror. It has also taught me that I am fully capable of interfacing with of my physicality that I previously regarded as impossible to connect with like blood flow, internal energy, successful breathing, and various parts of my brain.

While it could be argued that certain notions of “emptying” the cup could be misconstrued as more of a right hand path philosophy I would argue that the “loss of self” that is experienced by learning to stimulate Flow through shutting down the prefrontal cortex requires the same control it takes to move our sovereign consciousnesses through the objective universe. “Emptying the cup” is something I do voluntarily for the purpose of stimulating Flow in an effort to connect with my divine pattern through Ekstasis.

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Ekstasis: Xeper in the Art of Fighting

Keeping Up with the Alex Joneses: An Atmosphere for Apocalypse

We went to go see “Arrival” Friday night. I chose the movie not just because there were aliens in it, but because I was expecting it to be a quiet evening out and a decent flick. Decent movie it was, but it was packed. Go figure. You would think that people would’ve gone to see Dr. Strange instead. It’s pretty obvious though that we are fascinated by the prospect of communicating with beings from another world, because there’s something, clean and humanizing about it. I suppose the reviews helped “Arrival,” but I think the movie was packed because it speaks to our concept of personal mystery. Needless to say, I was shocked there were so many people there to see a movie of that nature. Of course, this week has been a week of shocks. Yeah–I’m going to talk about the giant elephant in the room. King Koopa. I mean Donald Trump. I want to talk about why it was so shocking that he won and why it created an atmosphere that felt socially apocalyptic.

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All hail our glorious new President! Crazy hair? Check! Red power tie? Check? Has a tower named after himself? Check! Plumber alert!
I have lived in an America that is filled to the brim with conspiracy theories. And thanks to the advent of the Internet going  mainstream sometimes in the early 2000s most of us have immersed ourselves in a culture of conspiracy. You know the days, when you start cruising on YouTube or Wikipedia searching for how hummus is made and somehow end up on a video detailing how Nancy Pelosi is a reptilian a la David Icke. Everybody loves a good mystery, and even more, we love uncovering them. We love shining lights in dark holes hoping to find some semblance of clarity to the questions that can’t easily be answered. Type the words “September 11th attacks,” “Adolf Hitler fled to South America,” “the Bilderburg Group,” “moon landing faked,” or “JFK’s assassination” into your search engine and you’ll see what I mean.

Humans are not made for communicating in the smartphone age. We can’t handle it. What makes it even worse as we approach 2017 is the Internet is adapting to us. Have you ever done a search for something you’re shopping for and then it suddenly shows up in the form of advertisements in your social network feed? We all have. It’s like when Netflix suggests a new Hitler documentary to me, because I’ve watched Tarantino’s Inglorious Bastards one too many times.

Most of us are too busy in our day-to-day lives to realize that this is especially dangerous because it immerses each one of us in our own little worlds that we can’t seem to break out of. Humans have created a means to give us this tool to create our own little echo chambers and stay there. This becomes even more dangerous when we find “like-minded” people and band together on social media websites, reconfirming the ideas we romanticize in our own worlds with each other. What’s worse is by limiting our exposure to types of people that do not conform to our own sensibilities, we create a reality for ourselves where we don’t have to confront the actual facts–because we don’t have to. People have forgotten what it means to have a civil argument. Instead when something upsets us, we send assassination threats to the President-Elect and hope that this nightmare will somehow end.

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I believe that Donald Trump won the election because we all collectively as Americans bought into conspiracy. Even Donald Trump himself. I guarantee you that he was just as shocked as we were to hear the news that he won the presidency. He even made remarks during the debates that he wouldn’t accept the results of the election because he knew it was “rigged.”

Hillary Clinton has had an amazing track record of dishonesty with the American people in recent memory. Benghazi, the email scandals, stealing the DNC nomination from Bernie Sanders last summer. She’s like the boy who cried wolf. We all expected her to pull it out because she’s so incredibly gangsta that there was no way she could lose. Many people chose not to vote this election because they believed their voice didn’t matter. They believed that a liar would continue to lie to the very end and rig the election against a man who couldn’t possibly win. Hillary was supposed to rig the election. Shit–George W. Bush did in the 2000 election right? It was a whole big conspiracy that George W. won! Right? So why couldn’t Hillary do the same thing? Our votes don’t matter–she’s got this.

The shock came after on Wednesday morning when we all woke up to find that Trump not only won the election, but completely obliterated Clinton in the electoral college. Really, he killed her dead. She had zero chance. She spent her entire political career shrouding herself in lies and in the very end honesty killed it. She didn’t rig the election. And the result was that the story didn’t play out in the way we all thought that it would–both liberal and conservative alike. This is why we are all shocked. And will continue to be until we start seeing how the next four years will go.

My Takeaway

Americans love buying into conspiracy. I think it’s going to take awhile for the shock of this election to go away. I do believe that the political pendulum will swing the other way in the next couple of elections. That’s how it always goes, right? Probably–but maybe not. If there’s anything that this election has taught me is to stop trying to be a goddamn mystic all the time. I can’t always predict the future correctly. And it’s during these times of vulnerability that I have to keep my eyes open. The apocalyptic atmosphere that this event has created cannot be easily replicated.

And so ends the longest week. Things are probably a lot more transparent than they may appear to be.

I’m not saying that there’s no possibility for conspiracy to exist, but in my world, and in my perception of the world around me it’s become all but worthless.

Do you know anyone who actually believes the results of the Warren Commission following President Kennedy’s death? Oswald couldn’t have acted alone! The Warren Commission is filled with lies! One bullet couldn’t have done all that damage! Stephen King wrote a book called “11/22/63” about the JFK assassination, it involves portals and time travel and all sorts of crazy bullshit–but he still has Oswald as the killer. Why though? Maybe because he makes up his own opinions.

Or maybe because Oswald actually did it.

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Keeping Up with the Alex Joneses: An Atmosphere for Apocalypse

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

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