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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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?
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.
The first thing I want to talk about is my current understanding of Xeper. The tried and true “Coming into Being,” and “Mindful Evolution” are great and wonderful, but it’s important for me to define Xeper in order to understand how I’ve applied it to my own initiation. This is tough, because in order define what Xeper is, I have to experience it first.
Initiation is hard. There are no supervisors to make sure that I’m doing right. I have to know what I’m doing while I’m doing it. I have to be honest with myself. I have to be heroic. I have to volunteer myself, to myself, for myself. Initiation is not about how big my ego is, it’s about the work I’m doing to make me into the “best me,” the best version of myself, and remembering that there will always be another “best me” to strive for, when I never get there.
How I define Xeper
Xeper – the adaptation of subtle self-awareness.
It’s the re-discovery of a thing you should know and then applying that recognition to a method of understanding to stimulate growth within the self.
I’m going to tell a story about something that happened to me rather recently. It’s about the obsessive struggle.
What is obsessive struggle?
Xeper. Cell division. Once. Twice. Three times. Where does it stop?
Experience. From here there is no return.
By my very nature I am an angry person. I usually wake up every morning around 3:45am and I’m on the road by 4:30am. I like routine. But when any little thing gets in the way of that routine, I flip out. If I can’t find my keys—I yell. If someone cuts me off on the way to work, I “what the fuck” all the way there. If someone knocks on my office door when I’m on a phone call—I lose my shit. I’ll always put on a nice face when I answer, but you can be sure that I’m annoyed at the prospect of having to get up from my desk for a stupid question and a stupid person.
I tend to keep to myself. My nose often buried in a book during my lunch breaks. I hardly speak. I’m even less inclined to say anything when I hear tall white men discuss their sometimes erotic sounding love for their lord and savior Jesus Christ. It’s a little bananas in Arizona. It really makes me miss New England—not the winters of course. I miss being within reach of more—how can you say, down to earth people? Lesbians looking off bridges. Theatre auditions. Chocolate peppermint brownies for lunch. When I moved to Arizona, I was all in, and now, I’m not so sure. I won’t be staying here for good. I have “big plans.” An endgame so to say. My day job? Merely a tool to get me to that point. I don’t have to work, but I like having my own money. Autonomy. A day job can do that. Going through the motions. Working in that small office is the least important thing in my life, by far. Although, I often find my time there to be somewhat magical. So, I keep to myself and observe the comings and goings of my workplace.
I had a co-worker in late December spread some pretty nasty rumors about me. I was kind of surprised. And even though I have anger issues—I’m well-mannered. I always have been. When I was made aware of this person talking shit to everyone in the building I felt like an attack had been carried out on my never ending obsessive struggle. I felt like everyone else knew something about me that I did not. This was a problem. It was a problem, because reminded me that my past was as real as the surgical scars I now wore. It reminded me of who I was. Who I really was. And that made me angry.
I spent the last ten years of my life in the obsessive struggle of making myself into something I physically couldn’t accommodate. Doctors. Psychologists. Magistrates telling me “no” I couldn’t change my name. Government offices. Airports. Universities. Professors. Surgeons.
Last February, I underwent twelve hours of surgery on my face to feminize it. I was born a male, but I underwent six different procedures to essentially reassign myself a face different than the one I was born with. The surgery included a forehead reconstruction, rhinoplasty, chinplasty, a trachea shave, mandibular reduction, and a lip lift. As my skull was quite masculine to begin with, I felt every procedure to be a necessary one. It hurt. A lot. And despite throwing up buckets of blood when I woke up, the surgery was a success. The changes brought about by this immensely invasive trip to the doctor’s office made my life much easier to deal with. I can’t begin to tell you, what a delight it’s been to feel a little more comfortable in my own skin.
A co-worker came into my office one day late in December and told me some disappointing information.
“Do you know Hooker Bitch?”
“Can’t say that I do.” I said.
“You know that chick who has the grandma hair?”
“Oh yeah…” I laughed.
“She’s been telling people that you were born a man.”
I was so pissed off that I couldn’t see straight. My focus narrowed. After work I went to the Fourth Avenue street fair with my fiancé. Smiling faces. Pinball machines. People asking me to sign petitions to legalize everything. I should’ve been having a good time. But, the only thing on my mind was getting revenge against this person for blowing my cover. I needed to weigh in on the alternatives.
Let’s take a step back.
I had been through too much to let this hooker-bitch bother me. And yet I did.
I felt compromised. The obsessive struggle somehow invalidated.
I considered several alternatives in dealing with the situation.
1. I could openly confront her about it.
2. Go to HR. Yeah right—they never help with anything.
3. Find a new job.
4. Do a destruction working against her.
“I’m a black magician,” I thought. “Let’s toss some lightning bolts around.” And so I did a pretty nasty destruction working. Three weeks later, this girl was on leave of absence for some kind of illness she had developed out of thin air.
Hooker-Bitch started a witch hunt against an actual witch. And that pissed me off. She embodied everything I hated about the Christian rednecks here in Arizona, and I wanted to see her suffer for talking shit.
Let’s get real here for a minute. Destruction workings are too easy. Why? I mean, would I be willing to pull the trigger on someone instead of doing a destruction working if I could get away with it? The answer? Always no. That would mean destroying myself. I would be put away for life–or worse. Totally. Not. Worth it.
Hooker-Bitch wasn’t worth the expenditure of energy. Knowing this–the real question is: why did I commit to doing a destruction working against this person if I wouldn’t even be capable of picking up a gun, let alone pulling the trigger?
Why did I do it?
The answer is simple, but not so simple. I wanted to feel powerful. Although, there was another aspect to this that I was overlooking.
Was I understanding myself? What was the driving force behind my lust to feel powerful?
If I wasn’t going to ask the tough questions then nobody would.
I wasn’t confronting something. Something important. My problems weren’t with Ms. Hooker-Bitch. That was obvious. As far as I knew I outed myself. My name is plastered all over Google in LBGT related topics and interviews from when I lived in New England. I mean really–how far could I run away from the facts?
At this point in the game, I still wasn’t understanding the problem.
In Tucson, we are surrounded by the Sonoran Desert. When I need to mentally digest something, my fiancé and I hop into the car, find a trail-head, park, and we start walking. I like the desert for the silence. I can hear myself think when I’m there.
During one of my many walks following this incident, I felt bothered and confused by the results of my destruction working. Not because of what happened to my target—but because I couldn’t justify wasting my energy like that no matter how many ways I tried to look for a good reason.
A quote from MindStar:
“As Plato illustrated in the Meno, the underlying basis of all knowledge – the primal building-blocks upon which learning and reasoning depend on their accuracy and coherence – are inherent to each incarnate intelligence: anamnesis – “recollective awareness of the neteru/Forms.” In non-metaphysical terms, humans know “instinctively” whether they are thinking reasonably and without validity.” (Aquino 72)
You see, I did the destruction working when my feelings were on auto-pilot. And by auto-pilot, I mean, even though my anger was directed at this person during the course of my working, I did the working without awareness. All I cared about was doing something that would make me feel strong and powerful.
I did the working on impulse. With emotion. It takes a titanic effort to see things from the outsides of ourselves. It takes patience and self-love. It takes compassion. And a lot writing in our journals. At the moment in which I was at my lowest, I chose to act. And I chose poorly—I compromised my ethics. My values. I forgot to pay myself before I paid everyone else. I instinctively knew that I wasn’t thinking reasonably or with validity. I just chose not to see it.
Addicted to Water
I had to dig deeper. I had to continue to ask why. The ancient Egyptian spell for crossing the desert. I always think about this when I visit the trail-heads outside of Tucson.
Ipsissimus Webb writes:
“The spell [for crossing the desert] is not intended for illustrative purposes, although it does illustrate the myth of Creation. It was an operative spell for survival across the expanse of the desert. This is an interesting moment. You are leaving behind the Known and are entering the Unknown. The Known is the divine land of Khem, before you the Unknown desert with its mirages, bandits, scorpions, sandstorms, etc. Beyond that are the foreign lands ruled by Set. What do you say as a charm? Not a prayer to Set, whose lands you were entering. Not a prayer to the familiar gods of Egypt. No, a statement of one’s Coming Into Being as the Creator. Now why would this be protective? Or more to the point, what was being protected?
The answer is that it is not protective of the body. It’s not a prayer for rain, nor a cantrip for food, nor a conjuration against desert brigands. It is for the soul. The smart traveler has already taken care of the body’s needs in the proper realm. They’ve stored food and water; they’ve sharpened their swords. But now they pause — at the edge of the Unknown — to strengthen their mind/soul. They are going into a realm where they may lose their purpose– even die in a distracted manner. What better time than using the urgency of an upcoming struggle to Work for the immortalization of the mind/soul?”
The obsessive struggle. A foreigner in an unknown land? Me? I was from New England. Arizona made me uneasy. Call it peaceful hostility. The years I spent becoming the person I am today. Preparing myself for the unknown desert. My sword—sharpened. I was angry at Hooker-Bitch because I forgot the first reason I started this unending journey through the desert of myself in the first place. I was putting too much, far too much, emotional currency on my physical self as opposed to remembering who I was at the core.
Anamnesis. First forms. Neteru.
As I walked through the desert with my fiance, he said a word that reminded me of something Immortan Joe said from Mad Max: Fury Road:
“Do not, my friends, become addicted to water. It will take hold of you and you will resent its absence.”
The one word he said to me was: “Attachment.”
I was addicted to water. What do I mean by this? The destruction working was a waste of resources. I became fixated on the things that caused me to be angry because I didn’t fully understand how to apply the situation to a method of understanding. Let’s get real—at the time, I didn’t want to. My problem was that I was constantly looking for validation of what I was physically instead of just knowing it for myself. I was attached to my body. I was attached to time. To my youth. To my past. All of these ever slipping through my hands like sand in an hourglass. I set myself up to be hurt. And I was put into a corner. I reacted on impulse without rationalization. I forgot my ethics. And more importantly I forgot myself. I was angry because I began to resent water’s absence. Ten years of work, come and gone. I had to let go. I had to stop being addicted to the past that made me who I was, and start living in the present in order to continue pulling myself forward towards the unknown matrix of the future. Change—is scary.
Attachment is the root. It is entropy. Attachment is fear. I should’ve known this. I had just forgotten.
My reactionary, impulsive, use of a destruction ritual was a Remanifestion of a negative pattern. It’s likely that I’ll do it again. But it’s also less likely that I won’t. Why? I have this experience to draw from. To actively change the course of the future. It’s here where I will stimulate growth within myself with the subtle self awareness to KNOW how I naturally want to react in situations like this. My capriciousness isn’t a newly discovered weakness. I had just forgot about it. Through this ordeal, I have come to recognize that it is there, and that it is mine.
The obsessive struggle. Why does it have to be obsessive? That only means that I am attached. And attachment? Attachment means standing still. That I want to stand still. Do I really?
Goethe wrote that:
“Until you discover and accept yourself fully, you won’t have the conviction or the courage to be free. As soon as you trust yourself, you will know how to live.”
How do you learn to know yourself? You remember who you are. You remember what you need. You keep asking why, even when you don’t want to. To become, you must overcome.
If standing still means being destroyed when things change, when routine is broken, when water becomes scarce then I want nothing to do with it. It’s perfectly okay to be angry. Everyone gets angry. What is not okay is to become attached to things that cause that anger. Attachment is misery. It’s so very easy to destroy. It’s easy to stay addicted to water as we cross the deserts of ourselves, even if we know that that water is poisoned. What’s difficult is to build. To be the creator. To not mind matter, but to mind the self. That’s how you cross the desert and learn to finally live.
Back in 2011 I had a really tough choice to make. It was a little after a year since I rebounded from rock bottom. The year before I was so broke that I almost prostituted myself in order to pay for tuition to one of the many expensive New England universities. As my bills closed in all around me, I desperately started applying for jobs everywhere. Somehow, by some immense luck I was hired to work the world’s shittiest retail job. This job wasn’t glamorous or fun by any means, but it paid the bills. By the end of 2011 I decided that I had a choice:
1. Finish my school and be more in debt than I could ever hope to pay back with the English degree I was going for.
2. Buckle up and work my ass off in order to work towards paying for facial feminization.
I chose to buckle up.
Fast forward to 2015, it was a solid choice that paid off. I’m always worried that I’m a goddamn quitter, but I suppose that’s not an accurate observation of myself. I’m just not a multi-tasker—because who believes in that bullshit phenomena? I had the foresight to understand the needs of my big SELF and ran with it. If I had decided to go the school route I probably would’ve ended up quitting eventually anyway.
During this four year period, I read absolutely nothing. Unless you count Kotaku, but let’s get real, Kotaku doesn’t count. Reading Kotaku is more like reading a coloring book. I probably killed more brain cells reading it than if I had read nothing at all. Amidst all of this heavy mental lifting I ultimately decided in late 2014 that I needed something to rekindle my reading spirit. Enter Ipssismus Don Webb’s book “The Seven Faces of Darkness: Practical Typhonian Magic” (#2AG). I was drawn to this book for a few reasons:
1. Its scarcity. At the time there weren’t any reprints available for any of Ipsissmus Webb’s more popular Rûna-Raven books. It made me want to get a hold of it even more.
2. I had just finished marathoning American Horror Story: Coven. This show was rocket fuel for me. It definitely inspired me to investigate the Left Hand Path moreso than I had done in the past.
3. At the time, I recently played Bayonetta 2 and replayed Bayonetta 1. As someone who once sang about dissecting angels in a Satanic Black Metal band I felt connected with Bayonetta on a visceral level. A witch that kicked angels asses? I could see myself doing that. What was the next best thing? Investigating the writings of Ipsissmus Webb of course! I can’t explain how that works into any kind of rational thought, but that’s how it went!
Initially, I decided against buying (#2AG) in light of the fact that it was going for almost $300 USD on Amazon. I found a really crappy PDF copy of this book online that I had to reformat. I eventually ended up buying physical copies of Ipsissimus Webb’s entire Rûna-Raven backlog from Lodestar after they were re-printed earlier this year (2015).
As someone who knew absolutely nothing about traditional ceremonial magic “The Seven Faces of Darkness” proved to be an invaluable resource. If I could call (#2AG) anything I would call it a crash course in what it means to be a practical traveler upon the seemingly not-so-practical roads of the Left Hand Path initiate. The Left-Hand Path isn’t exactly the easiest thing to understand from the outside looking in. “Seven Faces” gave me a small taste on some of the more intricate aspects of a traditional magical system–Hermeticism, without overwhelming me with the drier details. Those drier details I found later in other books like Ipsissimus Flowers “Hermetic Magic: The Postmodern Magical Papyrus of Abaris” (#3Y), and Franz Bardon’s “Initiation into Hermetics.”
I will admit, upon my first reading of “The Seven Faces of Darkness” I felt very confused about what I needed to take away from it. I found Chapter 6 on “Spells” to incredibly useless—at first. The selection of the PGM (Papyri Graecae Magicae) available in this chapter is home to some pretty heinous shit. The first time I read the words for the Coptic spell “Oil Spell for Sealing a Marriage with Hot Sex” I laughed a little bit. I couldn’t ever see myself using most of these spells within the context of how they were written. As I look back at them a year later, I see something different. I see examples–models which I can apply to my own workings.
As a former English major I take an interest in understanding context. Especially with details that might not be entirely apparent at first glance. For example, Dante’s “Inferno” can be interpreted as an allegory for the political conflict going on in Florence during the 14th century between the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor. Dante even puts people he actually knew in real life, like Filippo Argenti, in the poem.
(Incoming EXTREMELY loaded paragraphs…)
Of course, understanding the historical context of something seven hundred years old isn’t nearly as difficult as trying to ascertain the “assumed” to be second and third century contextual meanings of Hermeticism. I say assumed, because there are so many details we don’t know about Marsilio Ficino’s translation of the “Corpus Hermetica.” The “Corpus Hermetica” was “lost” during the middle ages but magically reappeared after the de Medici family acquired it somewhere in Byzantine.
Alchemy was in vogue during the Renaissance and much of the Ficino translation—appears to be biased towards the “lead to gold” obsession of the seventeenth century. Regardless, let’s assume his translation is based off of authentic texts used to compile the Hermetic Corpus. It’s still not first hand information. I would say it’s more like third or fourth hand information. Contextually, much of what we have from Ficino’s translation is through the lens of the seventeenth century alchemical philosophy and not from the entire perspective of the second century author(s) of the Hermetic Corpus.
Much of what the original authors of the PGMs were going for have been all but lost. Unless, of course, we take an educated guess as to what they were going for and applying that knowledge to what we know about Greek, Coptic, and Demotic traditions and languages.
Ipsissimus Webb writes, “Postmodern theories argues that magical language isn’t gibberish, but an appropriate form of discourse with another realm of existence.” (15) I appreciate the fact that he included a detailed analysis of three Hermetic workings in Chapter 2. It breaks down the seemingly confusing spells as models for further assumed understanding of magical formulae. We can be apply this model to other Initiatory practices/traditions.
The PGM may seem especially dangerous to those unfamiliar with it, in light of the fact that we don’t necessarily understand the context of, or the exact precise meaning or pronunciations of words written down in these works. When we say words like “BOLCHOSÊTH” without any knowledge as to what that word means, what is that doing for us? For all we know when we say this word our subjective interaction with it might send an encoded message to ourselves that may cause some unintended consequence in our “world.” Though, this sort of superstitious Mickey Mouse bullshit sounds closer to a Right Hand Path contextual understanding of the PGM.
Herein lies the most interesting aspect to (#2AG). When does historical context become useless in terms of applying it to the use of magical technology?
Even after we begin to recognize simple formulaic words such as BOLCHOSÊTH as “Ba’al strikes Set” are we even pronouncing it correctly (BOLE-CHO-SEET)? For all we know this could be the wrong pronunciation of the word. We don’t know for sure! We’re two thousand years away from understanding the actual implied context of the words found in the PGM. For all we know pronouncing BOLCHOSÊTH as “BOLE-CHO-SEET” with a hard “T” sound at the end instead of a soft “TH” sound could make the word mean something entirely different.
For a more up to date example let’s look at the Japanese words for cute and scary:
Scary is kowai (怖い,こわい) . ko – why
Cute is kawaii (可愛い,かわいい) ka – wa – ii
Notice senpai–that these words sound awfully similar to the Western ear. However, they mean the exact opposite thing in relationship to one another. One lazy delayed pronunciation of 可愛い (kawaii) might make your Japanese friends think your waifu is a scary bitch! Case in point, you used a word with the wrong pronunciation and it produced a different result than you anticipated.
For another example see “Army of Darkness” and Ash trying to say the words “klaatu barada nikto” correctly:
“WAIT A MINUTE. EVERYTHING’S COOL. I SAID THE WORDS. I DID!”
So why is all of this vital to our usage of ancient magical technology?
Well—the fact of the matter is, context isn’t all that important. Unless of course you’re using the PGMs or magical technology like it under the veil of superstition. Only then does context become everything. This why magical technology, in general, can be dangerous to use. If your subjective sense of self perceives a misalignment of context to be dangerous in the usage of magical technology then it will pose an actual danger to your subjective self.
Seeing beyond this, my biggest takeaway from (#3AG) with regards to magic is that magic comes from you. It doesn’t come from saying ABLANATHANALBA sixteen times or from the trappings of the ritual chamber. Magic comes from you, and the only thing that is vitally important to its use is intent. Everything else is auxiliary to the usage of the PGM or other forms of magical technology. Understanding how to formulate more and more accurate forms of intent in the magical chamber is much like habit forming (think neuroplasticity)–it takes practice. Webb writes “The magician will (after practice) free him-or herself from the text, and as each successful immortalization of the soul occurs, the magician begins to act on a more and more divine level. For the advanced magician every act becomes a magical one. He or she is said to have become magic (heka) itself.” (39)
Acting on a “more and more divine level” screams to me as being able to form clearer and more clearer routes of concise and exact modes of intent in the magical chamber. We practice this “freeing” from the text as Ipsissimus Webb writes in order to get magic to do what we want it to do, which may not be what the authors’ of the original texts had intended for a working . “Each successful immortalization of the soul” or intent is accomplished by practicing this over and over again. Only when we truly “say what we mean and mean what we say” with regards to our intent in the usage of magical technology can we “become heka” itself.
I created a graph called “The Intent Funnel” to illustrate the various levels of effectiveness in terms of formulating an accurate intent for workings. You can chart intent on this graph based its specificity. The more specific the intent the better—obviously. The more vague, the easier it is to read anything as a possible result from your workings. I tend to think this is bad, especially in operative workings where you’re trying to accomplish a specific thing. A vague example of intent in an operative working would be “I want to be rich!” You didn’t say by what means you wanted to be rich, and you didn’t give yourself a time frame. You also didn’t even say what you wanted to be rich in. For all you know you could become rich in sorrow! Which is why this sounds like a vague mode of intent to me. That would be charted right at the very top of the graph.
On the other hand, an example of a more specific mode of intent would sound something like this: “I want to go to Harvard to study astrophysics with Dr. Von Loki and graduate in 2019.” This would be charted closer to the bottom of the graph as it is much more specific than the first example.
To conclude, Intent is not wishing for something to happen. Intent is like a GPS, and magical technology is like the car. The destination is the result of a working. You may want to go down the road that might result in making you part of the nouveau-riche elite, but unless you program your GPS with precision, you might be taking the long way to get there.
You know what scares me most? Not being able to do what I want to do. The most interesting aspect to this is that I’m currently doing a lot of things in my life that I don’t want to do. A paradox! If our lives are measured by the time, and time is the currency in which we have to spend on both the things we must do and things we want to do–then why do we waste that currency on the things we don’t want to do?
I had a revelation about social media recently. The single most irritating aspect to social media is how much people rely on it to validate their own existence. Yes, I’m guilty of this too.
When people post on social media about how they are feeling it can come in many forms. Posts are made expressing delight, dissatisfaction, happiness, bragging, and straight up bitching. Aside from the fact that instead of spending their time doing something productive with the forty minutes it took to write a post, we must take into consideration where posts are broadcasted. Public channels.
What does this mean exactly? Well, for one, other people can see these posts. But why is this important to assessing whether or not an individual is adept in the art of wasting time? Posting status updates in a public channel where other people can potentially see it is basically the same thing as screaming:
“I’M HERE! I’M ALIVE! SOMEONE RESPOND TO ME TO MAKE SURE MY CLAIMS OF BEING ALIVE CAN BE CORROBORATED!”
At the surface level, posting status updates can be done in pursuit of social validation. But it goes much deeper than that. The serial social media addict post status updates as a way to validate their existence.
People that post on social media make an observation about their lives and by doing so induce a conscious moment for all of their friends, followers, and would-be adherents to see. This phenomenon is a futile attempt at what P.D. Ouspensky would refer to as “self-remembering.” He defines self-remembering as follows in his book “The Fourth Way” (#19C):
“To remember oneself means the same thing as to be aware of oneself–‘I am.’ Sometimes it comes by itself; it is a strange feeling. It is not a function, not thinking, not feeling; it is a different state of consciousness. By itself it only comes for very short moments, generally in quite new surrounding, and one says to oneself: ‘How strange. I am here.’ This is self remembering; at this moment you remember yourself.”
By posting in social media as a method of existence validation–people are trying not only to make an attempt to remember themselves, but also to get other people to assist them in this process!
For example, when social justice warriors get offended by the multitude of things that they tend to get offended by they scream from the mountain tops for attention. Are they really offended or are they simply trying to get the Internet to remember that they exist because they had something really “important” to say?
Smartphones–Obliteraters of Consciousness
Do you know anyone in the proverbial “first world” without a smartphone? If you do, they’re probably your grandparents or a conspiracy theorist. Regardless, they’re in the minority. Let’s be honest with ourselves–“first worlders” live in a phone society. Over 61% of Americans own a smartphone. We’re obsessed with staying connected.
With regards to having a social media presence, a smartphone, and how those two relate to self-remembering I would like to pose two questions.
How often do you check your smartphone on a daily basis?
Have you ever forgot your smartphone at home? How did that make you feel?
The New York Daily News ran an anonymous poll in 2012, 84% of the people that responded to the poll said that they couldn’t spend a single day without their smartphones.
People feel naked without their phones because they feel disconnected from everything. It makes our monkey brains feel insecure when we accidentally leave them at home. After all, the world is nastier than ever. By being disconnected, people feel helpless, unsafe, and alone.
Assisted Self-Remembering and the Left-Hand Path
In terms of how this relates to my exploration of the Left-Hand Path I think it’s important to consider the basics.
Dr. Stephen Flowers defines the Left-Hand Path as “the path of nonunion with the objective universe. It is the way of isolating the consciousness within the subjective universe and, in a state of self-imposed psychic solitude, refining the soul or psyche to ever more perfect levels. The objective universe is then made to harmonize itself with the will of the individual psyche instead of the other way around.”
In the strange case of existence validation in social media, I view assisted self-remembering as a very Right-Hand Path mechanism to cope with adversity. By seeking existence validation, you’re seeking to unify yourself with the collective consciousness of would-be “individuals” on the Internet.
As autonomous individuals we must consider how we make use of the tools available to us. However, the user must not become the used.
As the old platitude goes–everything in moderation, but sometimes that just doesn’t work. Especially when it comes to dealing with intense co-dependence on things that should be used as tools to make our lives easier. Social media is a tool, but when we become dependent on it, it can needlessly complicate our lives in a vortex of both wasted time and consciousness.
Some people become so over-involved with their smartphones and their social media presence that they experience “phantom vibration syndrome.” I’ve experienced this first hand. What’s more, is that during the time I was experiencing phantom vibrations I was checking my phone so much that I began to lose sight of the things I actually wanted to do. I was wasting so much time posting cat photos, Twitter drama, and how many likes I could get on my new profile pic. Yeah, I had issues.
My solution? To cut. To be more specific, to cut out social media.
I was starting to become really disenchanted with Facebook back in August, but because I depended on being constantly connected I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I eventually opted to deactivate my Facebook account for an entire month. During that time, I wrote some bad ass short stories, finished an album, and started vacuuming my apartment more. On top of all that I began to socialize more with actual people! Imagine that. When I came back to Facebook in October I didn’t feel the same about it. I don’t need anyone to help me remember who I am. That’s my goddamn job.
During my glory days of being a social media junkie, my experiences with phantom vibration syndrome was a physical subjective reaction to my consciousness becoming overloaded with stimulation. Mentally, I was malfunctioning. In “The Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution” (#19B) Ouspensky writes:
“We cannot become conscious at will, at the moment when we want to, because we have no command over states of consciousness. But we can remember ourselves for a short time, at will because we have a certain command over our thoughts. And if we start remembering ourselves, by the special construction of our thoughts; that is, by the realization that we do not remember ourselves, that nobody remembers himself, and by realizing all that this means, this will bring us to consciousness.”
Smartphones embody what Ouspensky is trying to overstate here. When we carry smartphones it’s a shitty attempt to gain control over our consciousness. We’re aware that a smartphone is in our pocket or purse, and if it’s not there then our monkey brains panic because we’re disconnected and alone. In turn, by abusing social media as a means to assist in remembering ourselves, we stop remembering ourselves.
But why? Because we’re wasting time with bullshit that does nothing to improve our sense of well-being. By over-stimulating our consciousness through our overuse of the social media tool we cause ourselves to malfunction by becoming dependent on assisted self-remembering. In short, we’re making a meaningless expenditure of consciousness that could’ve been spent doing something that we actually wanted to do.
A Closing Thought
I recently discovered that I enjoy going for short hikes in the Sonoran Desert surrounding Tucson. I’m not killing myself when I go out for these hikes–but it’s still exercise. Aside from the obvious physical health benefits of hiking a few miles daily, what does this do for me mentally? It allows me to focus on one thing. The desert. It’s a tranquil experience that I’ve adopted for myself, and it’s become more and more important to me as a means to clear my head of all the negativity I’m surrounded with on a daily basis.
Our brains weren’t meant for the amount of over-stimulation that we get on a daily basis from the Internet void. It’s absolutely impossible to be conscious at all hours of the day. As much as we’d like to convince ourselves otherwise through the illusion of multitasking our direct consciousness is most effectively put to use when we’re focusing on one thing at a time.
It’s important to cut out the things in our lives that hold us back. While we may cut things out of our lives because they are terrible, we must consider why they are terrible–because they prevent us from being autonomous divine life forms.
I have a few problems with Magus Anton LaVey’s “The Compleat Witch” (#13D)—the most glaring these is his reliance on anecdotal evidence to support his claims of how women can make use of the “Law of the Forbidden” in order to charm both men and women alike. He makes outrageous declarative statements such as “the most effective turn ons will never look staged.” How does this actually work though? And more importantly how does he know this type of statement can be understood to be a fact?
Magus LaVey is relying on two things here to support his claims—(1) the fact that women reading this book are primed to agree with what he’s saying not only because of who he is but because they are looking to make themselves “Compleat Witches” and (2) his claims are supported by compelling the reader to put them into practice.
A blue-haired feminist reading of this book would probably dismiss it as being absolutely outrageous. How could he possibly know anything about what it means to be a woman? He never lived as a woman! Magus LaVey is a white cis-gendered male born into a life that invalidates every claim he makes in “The Compleat Witch.” However—from my point of view, I would find the feminist reading of this book to be ill-informed. LaVey is an outsider from the experience of what it means to be a woman. Therefore, he can make observations women can’t make for themselves. In other words, he can see our blind spots.
Aside from his somewhat perverted assertions about how a woman should go about putting the Law of the Forbidden into practice (strategic panty slips) there’s something endearing about how Magus LaVey views what can make a woman charming.
What LaVey never addresses directly in the book is where exactly he lies on the LaVeyan Personality Synthesizer (LPS) clock. The way he writes leads me to believe that he regards himself as an eleven o’clock or twelve o’ clock on LPS. He makes over abundant references to women that have qualities of a five or six o’ clock.
So why is this important?
He believes that it adds to his credibility in a subliminal way by conveying himself to be the all-seeing, all knowing alpha male. People who are naturally leaders fall in between the eleven to one range on the clock. The problem with this is very similar to the feminist argument—how can he know so much about the rest of the positions on the clock when he’s a twelve o’ clock male?
While it would be unfair of me to say that “The Compleat Witch” was written with five to seven o’ clock women in mind, I do get the feeling that his Demonic Minority Self is catering to women in that range on the LPS.
The LaVeyan Personality Synthesizer as Applied to Gender Transition
Magus LaVey’s work in “The Compleat Witch” is very female positive in a back-handed sort of way—he does constantly acknowledge that not all women are bombshells, but he does make an effort to point out ways to improve. This includes all types of women. The LaVeyan Personality Synthesizer was included in this book to not only address diversity issues that may arise from his sometimes biased suggestions but also as check and balance to his own claims on what works and what doesn’t work in the application of “The Law of the Forbidden.”
To me, the most interesting aspect of “The Compleat Witch” were a few very brief mentions of where transgender individuals fall on the LPS. Considering when this book was written, I find it interesting (and progressive!) that LaVey included this detail.
He writes, “the woman most prone to stereotyped lesbian activities is the twelve o’clock. The man most likely to fit the established image of the homosexual is the six o’clock. All types, however, have their respective homosexual counterparts. This simply implies that a twelve woman and a six man are ideally suited for sexual interchange and often are transsexuals. When a sex change operation is performed, it is most complete and successful in these individuals.” I wish that LaVey explored this more fully, but based on his writings in (#13D) I have come to an understanding as to how transsexuality interacts with his system. I’ve come to this understanding because of my own personal life experiences as both a transgender woman and also as compleat witch.
As a male I wasn’t exactly the paragon of all things alpha—on the LPS I was on the lower spectrum of the clock, probably a solid five o’clock or five-thirty. I had always been the more subdued outsider struggling to be the alpha I wasn’t. During that time in my life my Demonic Minority Self was a strong female figure—which is something I wrestled with prior to the start of my transition at nineteen in 2005. What I find interesting about how the LaVeyean Personality Synthesizer applies to my transition is how my Demonic Minority Self as a male surfaced to the top and became my Majority Self as a woman.
To me, this makes sense because as we transition to our new gender identity we still stay the same in many respects. If I now embody the identity of an eleven o’clock female, my former male self (a 5 o’clock) becomes my new Demonic Minority.
By the nature of what it takes to transition, transgender women are primed and ready to become compleat witches out of the box. A very curious excerpt from the “Sex Magic without Sanctimony” section of Magus LaVey’s book further supports this idea:
“The emphasis on the power of strong contrast is supplied by the fact that you are ‘dressed up’ in all the readily visible areas of your body while totally naked under your coat. The same element is present in the incongruity of mingling with people who are clothed while you are naked in an unstated environment. If this does not present a feeling of self-consciousness, you’ll never make it as a witch, for you lack the emotional response of the individuals on who you would be working your magic. If you are so alien to other’s emotional responses, I would recommend you give up on trying to be a witch or else take a few lessons from a Martian or Venusian who has learned to ‘pass.’ The Law of the Forbidden is subjectively practice in your constant awareness of your outrageous behavior.”
Transgender women, especially at the beginning of our transitions are easily recognizable by those around us as being both different and unnatural. Most people aren’t stupid. Mode of dress, the voice, facial structure, and height are huge giveaways for the would-be male bodied individual making the attempt to “pass.” Trans-women are self-conscious by our very nature—and this adds to our power. The aspect to this that I find most interesting—is that by going out into the world to operate as our Demonic Minority Self as opposed to what we are naturally, we employ Magus LaVey’s Law of the Forbidden not only against other people but also against ourselves. The power that we draw from our self-conscious behaviors is therefore doubled because of this phenomenon.
If was born into this world as a five o’clock male then my Demonic Minority Self would be that of an eleven o’clock female. As a five o’clock male I was attracted to the idea of becoming my Demonic Minority Self because of how attractive she was to my sensibilities. She was everything I wasn’t. Assertive, pretty, outgoing, and extroverted. Because I was attracted to the eleven o’clock woman, my sense of self-consciousness was amplified when I finally summoned the courage to go out into the world. I was attracted to myself, but also shy of myself—and therefore working the Law of the Forbidden…upon myself. Because I adopted this identity that wasn’t what other people perceived to be my Majority Self as a male that also caused me to become even more self-conscious by projecting the Law of the Forbidden onto those people.
I remember as a young twenty year old trans-woman back in 2006, believing that I was passing as female one hundred percent of the time. I thought that my size and age made me untouchable. I thought I could wear anything without being clocked as trans. How wrong was I? I was making huge fashion mistakes, like wearing pants way too tight, too much makeup, etc. I was aware of this in a subliminal sort of way, but I was made more aware of it when other people pointed out my many fashion oversights.
LaVey writes, “In utilizing the Law of the Forbidden, you can make many of the things you do appear as though you were unaware of them happening. Thus, you will be employing a double threat by your proper and conducive choice of garments and also by your apparent lack of knowledge of your exposure.”
The difference between what he’s suggesting here, and what I was going through early on in my transition is that I wasn’t acting like I was unaware of my fashion fubars. I actually wasn’t aware at all! So when LaVey says “the most effective turn ons will never looked staged,” the fact that I was going out to bars with pants on so tight that my cock ’n balls were poking out of one of my pant legs while dressed like a woman—this potential turn on wasn’t staged. I wasn’t acting, because I wasn’t aware. So when I was getting unwanted attention by would-be tranny chasers trying to bed me, I was genuinely drawing power from their awareness of my difference from all the other “girls” at the club.
Magus LaVey writes that “The power of the vampire lies in that no one believes him.” At the onset, this rule is one-hundred percent true when it comes to dealing with other people as a trans-woman. In the beginning, no one actually believes—including yourself, that you’re a woman. A lot of our power as trans-women is drawn from this knowledge, and as we become more aware of ourselves we can use this to our benefit should we decide to venture down the path of the compleat witch
“No true orientation in life is possible without both pleasant and unpleasant sensations.” —P.D. Ouspensky
I’ve been growing more and more skeptical of everything as of late. I question everything—it’s exhausting…and fruitful. I am constantly restless. I am hungry.
Where was I this time last year? Not here.
I want to look at the facts. What does it mean for something to be factual? What is a fact? Are facts merely the things that happened—or is there something more that makes them facts? Facts are derived from truth. Facts are something known to be true—verified through observation.
What does it take to make a truthful, and honest observation? Experience to know better not to lie? How do we accumulate experience?
Flesh + Time = Experience.
What does it mean to scrutinize everything under an intellectual lens? Can everything that we interact with, in the scope of the Objective Universe, be explained with a propensity for the scientific?
We like the echo chamber because it is pleasing for us to hear the things that we agree with. Does agreeable also mean pleasant? Happiness is derived through the pursuit of values which we perceive to be preserving of life. Cruelty is always up for adoption.
Lining up the entirety of the things I have encountered in my lifetime, there is nothing that I haven’t been able to explain. My eyes report what I see. My ears, what I hear.
Dreams are the truest anomalies.
How do I learn to understand the person I have become? Through love and rational apprehension.
Actual magic is only tangible so long as it produces tangible results.