Category Archives: philosophy

The Spark

sparkThe hope for the future lies in our past.  I believe this to be true. 

But, not as a collective.  Not as a society, or as a country, or as a race.  The hope is in our individual past.  It is in, The Spark. 

It’s that moment, or series of moments that we’ve all had.  Perhaps for some it has long been buried by years of apathy and the leavings of a crumbling self.  Perhaps for some it was squelched by an overbearing parent or militant grade-school teacher.  Regardless, I believe we all have had it. 

What is The Spark?  It’s when you discovered you could be Ian Paice using the pots and pans in your mother’s kitchen.  It’s when you figured out how to turn a piece of paper into a soaring jet plane.  It’s when you strummed your first E5 with the gain turned up to 10.  It’s when you blew out your gut onto a piece of lined paper.  It was when you help hope and promise, not for the world, but for YOU.

Youthful exuberance.  Vim and vigor.  As you think about it now you are probably remembering back to fond times of yesteryear.  That’s good.  Because when you become reacquainted with that feeling, you need to drag it back with you.  Reinstall it into your psyche, your personality, your YOU. 

It’s hard to think that The Spark was what landed the Accounts Payable position for the financial institution.  It’s hard to conceive that it was The Spark that lead to the junkie with the needle in his arm.  It’s unimaginable that it was The Spark that has us deep into a conflict in the desert that is seemingly endless.  No, it would seem in these cases, and many, many more, that The Spark was relegated to the back seat while The Retreat was riding shotgun. 

The Retreat is where we went, and where we still go, when we don’t want to cause trouble.  It is where we, well, retreat to when we don’t wish to take on the challenge of choice.  When we fear the choice of becoming a professional Clown, egged on by The Spark, we then decide to pursue the safety of becoming an insurance salesmen presented at the job-fair hosted at The Retreat.  We’ve learned from others that The Retreat is safe and will allow us to live a life of comfort and a resulting joy.  The edges are all smoothed to keep us from harming ourselves. 

The Spark is rough and ragged.  It is possible that it can hurl us off a cliff into a crevice of danger, yet it also can propel us to the pastures of potential.  We could go all in, sell our stuff, hop on a bike with just a guitar and some gusto and maybe make it as a well-known musician.  In the effort, we may have to wait tables to put food on our own table.  We may have to forgo owning IPODS and cellphones while forging ahead.  But, the potential rewards for the soul, I would argue, are much richer than those who languish in the lap of luxury. 

It would seem that far too many have forgotten their Spark while living in their Retreat.  Many are unconscionably ignorant to the lack of fire burning within, while simultaneously feeling the chill coming, unheeded, through the windows of their Retreat.  And so, that’s where we find things.  Those in the cold far outnumbering those still yearning and burning for what tomorrow will hold.  But, it is not lost.  We simply need to form the search parties to explore and excavate that which was left in the dead days’ dust.  Meanwhile, for those who have managed to maintain their fire, we need to keep stoking it and assuring that it is never quashed.  It is this hope from our past that is going to give us the promise for the future…

John Gray kicks up a storm at Comment is Free

While some of you may remember that I was not totally impressed with the conclusion to John Gray’s book, Black Mass, I nevertheless found it a good and enjoyable read, which tied up the links between utopianism, religion, the Enlightenment and secular extremist movements rather well. Gray’s got a lot of perspective in his worldview, which I like. He instinctively understands both the historical context of the movements and how that applies when considered in the current context of events.

Which is why I am enjoying his book review/Comment is Free article. Gray committed the hideous crime of knocking down a few New Atheist sacred cows, and so the usual suspects have come running, howling and moaning with their usual strawmen about atheist inspired terrorism, totally ignoring the context of the argument or addressing any of the issues.

I have yet to see a commenter actually address his point about repressed religion being much like repressed sexuality, or the origins of secular liberalism being tied into the history of Christianity, and Nietzsche’s critical attacks on this. I have yet to see someone either deny that belief in such secular follies as free markets, global revolution or the global spread of democracy and progress are any less ridiculous than belief in a god, or try to claim they are in some way different.

Sure, the comments page may be filled with 300+ screaming monkeys trying to make Gray look like an idiot, but if they think they succeeded in this task, they’re only fooling themselves.

Even a committed agnostic such as myself can take pleasure in such a spectacle.

Wherefore all the Popes?

As some of you may know, one of the things the POEE (Paratheo-Anametamystikhood Of Eris Esoteric) came up with was the True and Holy Fact that every man, woman and child is a pope (“so please treat them right”). Some people wonder what’s up with that. Well, I’ll tell you what that means to me.* 1. It pisses off the Catholics (not that hard, but fun anyway).2. It causes mild confusion in cabbages that can’t get their head around the idea of multiple, non-Catholic popes.3. It is a fairly precise and concise slice of what it means to be Discordian.

Perhaps I should expand/expound on that third one. To wit: The Christian Catholic Path teaches that Jesus gave unto Peter the earthly access of heaven’s kingdom (Matt.16:18-19: “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”).

Stemming from this tradition, the Pope has become the singular conduit of God’s will on earth, having final say on moral, ethical, and spiritual matters. Their will in such matters is not to be denied.

Well, Discordians aren’t down with that. They are typically skeptical of any dogmatic authority (or, for that matter, any authority assumed rather than requested). To a Discordian, the self is the final arbiter of moral, ethical, and spiritual behavior. It would simply not do to have some old guy in a funny hat ordering me not to have fun, “just because”. I, Myself, am the key to Heaven, and the Gate; I am the Jailor; I am the Prisoner; and I am Free.

But you see, this applies to everyone. My papal edicts do not affect you, if you so choose, because you are the Pope, as well. Of course, you all know what happens when two popes disagree: SCHISM! And in that chasm awaits the One True Goddess, Eris.

And there’s nothing better than looking into the Eris’ Crack.

*It should be pointed out that, of course, I speak for myself, the One True Pope of the First Church of Last Exit Before Toll. Other popes can damn well speak for themselves, if they so choose.

Magickal debates

There have been a couple of these lately, both on POEE and EB&G. While this probably means little outside of the context of the threads themselves, I still thought some of the insights and discussions on the topics were well worth sharing.

I have to admit my own personal biases run towards psychological models in this, but it seems a fair few other people thought the same so…well, anyway, here is some cut and paste of the more interesting sections. I think the most important lesson we learned from this debate, along with most philosophical topics, is to define your terms.

Cydira: Ok, there’s alot of people out there in the pagan community talking about spells and energies and alot of other things like that. listen to ’em and it sounds like you’re trapped in D&D or LARP hell, especially if you get the one’s that are deep into the whole trend of communicating with other entities which are generally accepted as mythical (fairies, dragons, etc.). it’s almost enough to make you wonder if the pagan community is populated mainly with semi-functional schizophrenics or people suffering with some other neurological disorder.

I have seen and experienced somethings that stand outside of the realm of typical daily experiences. This is not something that makes me crazy, rather, it has made me inclined to accept evidence presented to me upon the basis of either my own personal experiences (because some of these things I wouldn’t have believed if I hadn’t seen ’em myself) or if the evidence is presented in a manner that is sufficiently persuasive. as such, i’ve found that many of the people who claim to have experiences such as sexual encounters with animals or spiritual entities while they are tranformed into a different being are highly suspect. few, if any of the accounts, have been presented in a persuasive enough method to convince me to believe them.

this said, i do not expect anyone to believe me. what i describe here is a result of my own personal experience, occult research, and what i have observed as trends in the occult research of others. you can call bullshit on this and that’s ok. what i put forth here is a theory. theories can be accepted or disregarded on the basis of evidence presented. i will apologize if my phrasing is such that it does not adhere to the conventions of presenting a scientific theory. this is in part because i’m a bit rusty on that and in part because the subject matter doesn’t exactly bode well to that presentation format.

LMNO: Please try not to conflate the vague scientific term “energy” with the vague psychological term “energy”. It tends to piss off the scientists. Neither have been properly defined. You might as well say “aether waves”. Even “orgone” has been better defined that either of those.

Buddhist Monk Wannabe: This is interesting, because it goes back to the whole idea that magic is just something that you can do that other people don’t know how to do. I don’t call it casting spells, but I use meditation/visualization in much the same way.

Cydira: direct observation of magic is exceptionally difficult, especially when one is working with these ‘energies’ ascribed to objects, emotions, etc. indirect observation is somewhat easier.

an example of this can be given in something i’ve done in the past on several occasions.

there is a route that my husband and i drive to go visit our friends. traveling at the posted speed limit (65 mph, using cruise control) with favorable road conditions (fair weather, clear road conditions, and no traffic hazards), we can make the drive in 2 hours. when i concentrate on arriving in an hour and a half rather then 2 hours, i ‘bend’ time.

the conditions are the same as above and the time has not only been measured by myself, but also by others who are informed when we leave our home. i’ve yet to test this under other road conditions, but thus far, this has yielded the same result for about 75% of the trials done over the last few years. (the trip is a semi-monthly trip, so i regularly have the opportunity to do this little experiment.)

some may say that i’ve manipulated the energies around me to ‘bend’ time. i’m disinclined towards that argument. i think that it operates differently. unfortunately, i’ve to figure out a good way to phrase my theory before i post it. give me a little time and i’ll have it posted up here.

Singer: Like you… I am offended by the over-use of the term “energy”. I believe “energy” in all it’s categories is quantifiable and measurable. I believe that all life-forms create quantifiable and measurable energy as a necessary product of living. In fact I think I plunged into this thread with a fairly lengthy treatise on how to measure the electrical energy of thought.

I’m all about the potential application of personally generated energy. It seems reasonable to me that the bars of the BIP are maybe bent a little when someone or something (like a “healer”, or a “placebo”) triggers a mechanism by which an individual can bypass their own BIP to effect a desirable outcome… one that would not be as easy or possible without the help of the trigger.

This concept may have broader implications than the purely personal.

But, we’ll never know as long as we keep saying “well… it doesn’t seem possible so it’s not worthy of serious study”… especially since this leaves ANY study of “magical” phenomenon to the tin-foil hat brigade…

Rev Burnstoupee: so maybe science takes an objective approach to understand the universe, and religion/mysticism/magick takes a subjective approach. it seems silly to try and describe a religious/mysical/magickal experience in terms of objective reality. take certain ‘methods’ for enlightenment for instance. often times one method flat out contradicts another method. its not because one is ‘true’ and one is ‘false’. one method that works for one person might not work for another becasue of the variation of the qualities and experiences of the mind. so to discuss ‘energy’ in terms of a magical subjective experience can only be metaphorical. that isn’t to say that it doesn’t “work”. take kundalini energy, the ‘energy centers’ and the two ‘psychic pathways that travel up and down the spine. now they’re not really THERE…but in terms of a method they are used AS IF they were there. and apparantly there have been achievable results. nothing i can personally attest to and i wouldn’t expect a scientist to be able to measure any of that, but the practicioner seems to be different than before. it’s like the tree of life isn’t an actual TREE, ya know?

i need a :barstool: and a drink to match. at least alcohol is objective.

Ratatosk: Magic, in my experience appears as the change of perception through conscious will. That is, the conscious manipulation of filters and programs which process the data that our senses pick up. This includes not only relatively simple things like RAW’s “Quarter Experiment” where focusing on quarters leads to finding more quarters… but also complex things like body language, reactions of other people etc.

In more depth, I generalize magic into multiple types:

Perception Manipulation (Modificaton of which bits of reality to focus on)
Personality Manipulation (Invocation of Godforms, archetypes etc)
Programming Modification (Metaprograming, NLP)
Program Creation (Egrigores, NLP, “Spellcasting”)
Comfort (Ritual)

I’m sure there may be a thousand other ways to generically classify different forms of “magic”, but I hope the above gives you an idea of what I mean.

It appears to me, that magic was simply a model created without the advantage of modern neurology, one that we can replace to some extent with modern scientific models. However, and this is only my opinion, while we can discuss the theory in both magical and scientific terms, the magical model seems more useful in practice… probably due to the difference between ‘the road we can speak about and the road that we walk upon’.

As for the quantum model discussed earlier, I have given this much thought. Quantum mechanics, in my opinion are useful when discussing magic in one very important fashion. Quantum mechanics give us an example of a very useful model which seems magical to most people. It discusses things in symbols which kind of relate to reality, but not really. Our concept of what an atom looks like is symbolic.

Magic, I think could be seen in a similar vein. It’s a different model used to discuss concepts which may be very hard to otherwise discuss or attempt to implement.

Cainad: So we’re talking about two (or possibly more) rather different phenomena here. Allow me to make a very clumsy attempt to distinguish them, so some of you smart-alecks out there can point out the flaws in my explanation and clarify it for everyone else.

First off, we have “magic,” the thing that is supposedly indistinguishable from sufficiently advanced technology. This is very true, but only if you haven’t got the slightest fucking clue how that technology works. If you know how to use or make something of high technology, then that makes you a magician to the ignorant, but you know yourself, at best, only as a technician. A dude in a robe who throws fireballs around or summons demons by drawing circles with wonky symbols around it, a shmoe who wears a suit and makes things appear and disappear for the amusement of his audience, and a guy who can kill people instantly by pointing a funny-shaped metal tube at them and pulling a trigger are all ‘magicians’ to someone (like, say, Pacific Islanders before encountering Westerners), but to themselves they are merely using or applying something that they know and understand perfectly well.

Mahdgjickque, on the other hand, is the attempt to produce effects of the ‘magical’ variety (whatever those may be, according to the nature and level of one’s understanding of the world) without involving too much sciencey-sounding or applied technological stuff. These may be fireballs without fireworks, visions without schizophrenia, or even as internal as mind alterations without lobotomies. At the most basic level, it is an attempt to impose the Will (what we want) on the world without going through all the complicated, impractical, and/or dangerous steps normally required to make these things happen, if they are possible at all. Mahdgjickque is what happens when we cease to be content with seeing magic happen, and we decide to try and become the magicians.

So what I might be trying to say is that ‘magic’ and ‘mahdgjickque’ are the reflecting and non-reflecting sides of a two-way mirror. Studying mahdgjickque is the equivalent of putting your face really close to the mirror’s reflecting side and blocking out the glare with your hands so you can see what’s on the other side of it. Maybe, we tell ourselves, if we get really good at mahdgjickque we can figure out how to get on that side of the glass.

Cain: Well, this is why we need to define our terms in order to speak about this in any sensible way. English is well known for its multiple homonyms and if you are using one with an already pre-accepted meaning which is different from what you mean, then we are going to have problems. I can, quite easily, accept a psychological model of what is being proposed here. A metaphysical one is alot more difficult, however. If we don’t say from the outset what we are talking about, then natually the majority of people are going to go for the most obvious explanation and conclusion – that you are talking about magic in the sense of Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer and proceed to mock you.

This furthermore isn’t helped by people in the ‘occult community’ who themselves cannot seem to agree what they are tallking about. Which is fine, to a degree, because neither can Discordians about chaos, and they seem to get on with it fine. But when you have Wiccans and Ceremonial Magickiqians rubbing shoulders with people advancing a more believable and approachable theory, you are always going to have some serious problems. Furthermore, some of these people who don’t accept the usual mumbo-jumbo about spirits and demons will then proceed to use badly understood scientific models to try and ‘prove’ their theories, which is pretty much as bad as the imaginary monsters, when confronted by someone who understands the models being discussed.

Now, for the technology example, I don’t buy that at all. Why? The examples we have are of people who are utilizing processes that at least some other people know, and can explain with reference to established natural laws, to make repeatable results. The “can explain” bit is important, because while you could claim all the rest apply to mahadqickians, they fall down on explanations that can be verifiably tested (and often on repeatable results as well). Using a fighter jet is substansially different to evoking Ares, for example.

Again, I’m not down with the “faith” business either. I’ve seen enough fanatics who fervently believe in something, with the sort of faith which you could break rocks on (and trust me, it was tempting to test this). The point is, despite their faith, that alone cannot change anything outside of themselves, and often little inside themselves either, once that state is reached. Its an end state, not a process used to achieve a goal, and I think the consesnus is that magique, whatever it is, is for doing stuff with.

In fact, I was listening to my podcasts I have again last night, and I’m not sure who said this (it may have been Chris Titan on Occulterati, but I’m not sure. It could have been Curcio as well) but they came up with a brilliant explanation. Magick is pulling the wool over your own eyes, and then being able to do that to other people, in order to achieve your goals. Or words to that effect. He was explaining how he got really deeply into biology, Sumerian mythology, psychology, Hermetics etc and how using all these different lenses or ways of looking at the world, allowed him to convince himself first that he could change himself, and thus how he interacted with the world, and then later on being able to cause that change in other people too. Which is a nice blend of the psychological/sociological arguments put forward, and also a nice lock-in with NLP.

Bonsai Ent: “magic is the Will expressing itself against the physical universe and bringing about a change”

“why that is no different to me going downstairs and making a cup of tea!”


“accept mine works…”

I could be called a fan of the Derren Brown, or indeed Granny Weatherwax school of magick.
Better known as the “if you want something done, do it” school.

I think the social/psychological magick is closer to theatre than anything else, one could use the drama of magic to bring about psychological changes, make oneself more confident, feel strong, feel attractive… I’ve been trained in drama and we’ve gotten quite good at it. What is the Method but Reality Tunnel shifting at the drop of a hat?

My only criticism here, is why call it “magic”. Again, it seems to me sticking to the aesthetic, it is just role-playing and escapism.

Nothing inherently wrong with it, I just don’t buy it.

Ratatosk: The difference that I’ve found exists in the idea that we’re dealing with different models. When I’m looking at information using a scientific model, I use the terms appropriate for a scientific model. When I’m playing in a philosophical model, I use the terms appropriate for that model. When I put on a Christian hat, I use the terms used by people who live in that model of reality. When I play with ‘magic’ I use the terms that are used in that model.

Just as an earlier post misused the scientific quantum model, some people misuse the ‘magic’ model. Some people think that quantum physics means that there is no reality until we look for it, that doesn’t mean that there’s a problem with QP, only that there’s a confusion in their ability to read the map. The same seems true for ‘magic’. In every model of magic that I’ve studied, (Wicca, Thelema, Chaos Magic) there’s no discussion of rabbits in hats, or sleight of hand… no fireballs getting thrown from bellies, no flying etc etc etc, in almost all of the cases, we’re dealing with metaphors which are more aligned with psychological manipulation, rather than manipulation of the physical world.

That’s the reason Crowley added the ‘k’ to magic, to separate the ‘stage magic’ from the stuff of consciousness change.

We could discuss magic in entirely non-magical terms. I have a great book which is called Mind Hacks, put out by O’Reilly and Assoc. It has experiments and exercises that nearly mirror those in Liber Null and Liber Kaos and The Book of Atem (all chaos magic books). However, (and this depends entirely on one’s opinion of how neurology works) it may be much easier to effect changes through some metaphors than others (considering that no matter how direct Mind Hacks tries to be, its still using metaphors).

For me, I play in magic sometimes, not because I think it works, but because I like to examine reality through as many tunnels as possible. It seems to me that we can spend our life looking for THE ANSWER (which may or may not be possible), we might spend our life in one single model/map and experience only the stuff that gets labeled on that map, we could spend our lives asleep like the poor pinks and norms… not even realizing that they’re looking at the menu, rather than the meal. For me, I choose to try as many metaphoric restaurants as possible… I don’t mind if the Menu is in French, German, English or glowing on a big board behind the cashier. I don’t think it will get me closer to THE ANSWER… but I do enjoy getting to experience the different perceptions and ideas used by different people. Further, it means that if I’m talking to a Christian, I can use words, terms… the model, that they are familiar with and sometimes describe new concepts to them using their own map. When I’m talking to an Atheist, the same ma be true. When talking with a Chaos Magician, I can use their metaphors and when talking to a Wiccan, Buddhist or Hindu, I can use their metaphors.

I don’t necessarily understand all of those maps as well as a person who spends their entire life looking only at a single model… but I’m ok with that.

The Menu is not the meal. Magic, based on my experiences, references a set of symbols on a particular map. You can choose to not use the map, but that doesn’t invalidate the map or its symbols.

Bantu: To avoid any impressions of fawning…that’s neither here nor there.

I think you’ve [LMNO] explained your positions with clarity enough for a layperson to understand and with little room for dispute. Cains last post especially was the icing on the cake.

I’ve enjoyed reading the all varying opinions and ideas here, cheers to Cyd too.

I’ve come late to the realization of the elements of Fundamentalism in prevalent in Paganish belief systems. l always thought that one could hold certain ‘beliefs’ for what they were and then recognize what is measurable scientific theory with ease in these systems. I’ve seen and experienced some pretty incredible things I don’t yet understand or can find explaination for. That doesn’t make it manisfestations of supernatural energies. In my ‘beliefs’ the supernatural is somewhat antithetical.

And UPG covers my ass. Okthxby.

LMNO: Well, one thing I found intersting in this thread was that no one said, “ok, big guy, so what do you think is going on here?”

There was pretty much just an assumption I was like James Randi, and thought it was all bullshit.

So, here goes:

I believe the universe is wierder than science can currently account for. The history of science has shown itself to be islands of knowledge in a sea of ignorance.

I believe that things happen that cannot be explained easily.

I think most forms of “magic” are combinations of yogic practices, NLP, self-hypnosis, the placebo effect, psychology, metaphor, reconstruction of the BIP, self-delusion, and unadultarated bullshit.

I think that people who try to describe the wierd shit in the universe using scientific terms are deluding themselves.

I think the people who “know” that their magic practices create weird shit are making false correspondences.

I think that some people who are adept at certain kinds of magical practices have a greater tendencey to either belive their own metaphors, or see the BIP more clearly.

I think more research is needed in all areas of study that lend themselves to scientific research.

I think people who use fairy tales to make themselves feel better aren’t necessarily bad, but also make boring dinner guests.

Cydira: I’m pretty sure that the explanation of why magic works is grounded in a combination of psychology and physics, though I haven’t been able to establish what precisely is the reason. I’ve been trying, but no real success.

I’d like to see one of two things happen. Either a new term needs to be invented to describe the phenomena that results from successful magic, thus leaving the term magic to retain it’s socially accepted connotations, or a change in the connotations associated with the term magic. As I highly doubt the second will happen (despite the flailing and other efforts of the Pagan sub-culture among English speakers), I think a new term is needed.

I just don’t know what the hell to call this.

The people who oppose the use of the scientific method and decry it as opposed to occult studies are fools, in my opinion. The scientific method is a highly valuable tool that we use on a regular basis. The process of developing a theory, testing it, and evaluating the results is done daily in a wide array of arenas. Sure, we’re not dressed in lab coats, running tests on chemicals, recording the results, and submitting papers detailing our findings to any of the scientific publications. But we use this process to evaluate why something isn’t working, how to navigate problems that arise in the workplace, and address other quandaries that come up in our lives.

It also forgets something important. The use of the scientific method is a continuation of a long line of occultists’s work. It just happens to be accepted into mainstream society and the places where it is used are no longer hidden under a veil of secrecy. One can still argue that rituals are still used in scientific study today. The donning of protective gear and the setup of laboratory equipment is no less an act of ritual then putting on robes and lighting candles. The distinction made is that the use of protective gear and setting up laboratory equipment is viewed as practical and necessary by the general public, where as the rituals of religion and occult studies are viewed as superstition by the general public.

All of that said, I’ve got to say that there’s alot of crackpot occultists out there who irritate the hell out of me. I can’t stand the people who lie and insist that one must blindly accept the lie. Outrageous claims are hard to accept, but arguments can be presented to persuade some one. To refuse to attempt that and expect blind faith, it’s just something that stinks of a con being pulled on me and I will actively resist it.

Open and Shut

Enlightenment can be a tough road.
Having an open mind does not mean an open highway bereft of tribulation and conflict.  Indeed, so it would seem, it can increase both of those.

The knowledge and understanding of how limitations can choke.  But yet, when others do not share or recognize this, one’s societal world, one’s social circles, can quickly become very limited.  Or at the very least, strained.

This has become apparent to me as a parent.  Watching my little girl, eager and wide-eyed with the world.  A thirst to experience all that she can experience.  No shame in sillyness.  No inhibitions for idiosyncracies.  Yet, when amidst others of her age, who have already begun to develop their blinders, it can be painful to watch.  Because I remember what it was like, to be just a little different then all of the other straight and narrows.  I remember the giggles.  I remember the pointing.  Being comfortable with myself, yet lonely as others decide that they are not.

And so I see it beginning with my little one, before she has even entered the public school system.  To be sure, kids still like her, and play with her.  To be sure, she still enjoys that which is deemed normal and traditional for a kid her age, and of her gender.  And to be sure, I can see in her playmates the happy anarchy of childhood innocence is still there, and viable.  But I can also see where they are being introduced and indoctrinated to the typical paths that so many others unquestioningly navigate.  The hard and fast rules of what boys do and what girls do.  The mantras of how to properly experience the universe we are in. 

And so the tricky part comes.  How to maintain integration without fostering isolation.  How to cherish and champion individuality, and at the same time, teach companionship and comradery.  To impart that though others may not jive with parts of the personality that their friendship is still valuable and vital. 

It’s an odd thing.  We are invariably social creatures.  It is undeniable that at some level we all want to belong to something.  To be a part of a collective of characters.  At the same time, there are parts of our identity that will cause clashes, and sometimes, with those we most want to be friends with, or partners with, or lovers with.  As an adult this is easy to understand and rationalize, and so too with time will it become obvious to my little one and others like her who are growing up now. 

In the meantime, I make it my duty to keep that which may dull to not lessen her shine. 

Cabbages and Greyfaces

One day I was storming down the street howling to the skies and mud about the greyfaces that assaulted me on a daily basis, when I suddenly heard someone nearby howling louder than myself.  It wasn’t hard to spot the gnarled old bastard with a face like a chewed caramel zigzagging back and forth across the streets grabbing people by their ears and bellowing “IS ANYONE THERE?” into their faces, then turning to someone else and repeating the same procedure.  One after the other after the other . . . I watched, stunned, wondering why the people being screamed at didn’t take offense.  If someone grabbed me by the ears and screamed into my face he would be swiftly introduced to my good friend Mr. Steel-Toe Boot, but these people seemed to swoon, and then stare off into space in a daze.

I had to find out what was going on.

Eventually the old coot made his way toward me and grabbed for my ears.  Before he could take hold I said, Yes, I am here.  What do you want?

The old man didn’t blink an eye but just grabbed me by the shoulder and walked me onto a quieter side street.  Thank the goddess, he said, sputtering and breathing hard.  I thought I was the only one left, he added.

The only what?  I asked.  He turned his paper-slit eyes toward me and said:  The only person left.

The only person? But what about all the people you were shouting at??  I asked.  For a few moments he stared blankly at me, as if he hadn’t heard what I said.  Those weren’t people, he said finally, they were Cabbages.

Cabbages?  I asked.  They looked like people to me.  The old man laughed.  Of course they looked like people, Cabbages look exactly like people.  They walk like people, they talk like people, they eat like people, they sleep like people, they go to work like people, they see movies like people, they watch tv like people, they read books like people . . . they are the best copies of people you’ll ever see.  But they are not people, my son, they are most assuredly Cabbages.

What’s the difference?  I asked.  He leaned toward me, and said:  People dream, my boy, people question.  People think.  People play.  People laugh.  Look at these poor souls, sleepwalking through life . . . they think they’re people, but they are vegetables.  Blind, ridiculous, vegetables.

Ah ha, I said with glee.  I know many Cabbages, my life is full of them, and they are the bane of my existence!  I know them as Greyfaces!

No!  the old man said quickly.  Do not mistake the two . . . Greyfaces and Cabbages are not the same, except when they are.  Greyfaces are much more dangerous.

Dangerous?  I asked.  How?

Well, let me ask you this, he said, which would you be most wary of . . . a sleeping dog, or a dog having a nightmare?

I suppose a dog having a nightmare, I said.  The old man smiled.  Exactly, he said.  A Greyface is a Cabbage who is living a nightmare.  The Greyface’s nightmare is truly terrifying.  He is told that the world will crumble around him if all do not think and act exactly as he does, the only sane person on the face of the planet, and will stop at nothing to ensure that his nightmare doesn’t come true.  Greyfaces believe the world is humorless and product-driven.  He believes there is a way to draw a perfect circle and you damned well better find out how, or pay the price.  Never turn your back on the Greyface, my son.

I pondered this.  So, I said after a while, those I referred to as Greyfaces were actually Cabbages?

I don’t know them personally, the old man said, but I would imagine they were.  Almost everyone you meet is a Cabbage.

What’s the difference, I asked the old man.

All Greyfaces are Cabbages, he said, but not all Cabbages are Greyfaces.  Some Cabbages wake up and become real people, some even become Children of the Goddess if they are very on the ball . . . but Greyfaces rarely become people.

How do I know if I’m a Cabbage?  I asked.

He stood up, and patted me on the shoulder.  Son, the Cabbages never even ask that.

The old man began to walk away from me, toward an older lady.  I could see his fingers twitching with anticipation at the thought of grabbing hold of her ears.  WAIT!  I called out to him, What is your name?

He turned back to me briefly.  Coleslaw, he said.  For, I shred the cabbage of people’s minds.

The Legend of Zaurn The Grey

by: Tabula Rasa, KSC
El Kabong Kabal

1. When the world was still young and called Pangaea by the gods, a man came from out of the sea clad in robes of black and scarlet, his hair was long and brilliant ivory white; his skin a powdery light grey; his eyes golden. He beheld the inhabitants of Pangaea: little more than Hairless Apes, with no idea of Intelligence; Consciousness; Morality; Illumination; Credit Rating . . . these were little more than common animals. He pulled himself up to his full height, placed his slim smooth hand onto his chest, and said in a strong, beautiful melodious tone: ZAURN. The Hairless Apes looked up at him, scratched their heads, scratched their crotches, sniffed their hands, then looked back up at Zaurn the Wise. Zaurn pointed at one of the Hairless Apes, and said forcefully: MAN. Then, he placed his hand back on his own chest and repeated: ZAURN. One ape scratched his chin, cocked his head to the side and repeated: “Zaurn.” Thus was communication known to Humanity.

2. Soon after the Hairless Apes conquered speech Zaurn the Magnificent blew their minds anew. He wrote on a nearby wall his name, which at that time was spelled: IA. He gestured to the name, IA, then told the Hairless Apes that it referred to himself. One ape scratched his balls, approached the writing on the wall, pointed to it, then pointed at Zaurn the Brilliant, saying “Zaurn.” Thus was writing and graffito known to Humanity.

3. Zaurn then instructed the Hairless Apes that they really must name everything, for If It Is Not Named: It Does Not Exist. The apes quickly began to name everything around them, with various levels of success: if a good word didn’t immediately present itself they would make up a word on the spot, such as “boob” or “diarrhea”, thinking a better word would eventually present itself in the future.

4. Zaurn the Verbose was pleased, and his golden eyes twinkled, but mentioned that there was still much more for the Hairless Apes to learn, for he had yet to teach them about the important concepts of RIGHT and WRONG, which were intrinsically intertwined with the heavy concepts of GOOD and EVIL . . . it would take a long time to explain these Objective Truths to the apes, and an even longer time to get into the esoteric concepts of WORK and LAZINESS, not to mention such crucial topics as NORMALCY.

5. Once the apes knew what was RIGHT and what was WRONG, Zaurn the Grey was truly delighted: the Hairless Apes were both Free and Trapped simultaneously, just as EIEIO, the Goddess of All had intended. EIEIO, the Great Kaos, had sent Zaurn the Grey to the Hairless Apes to both free and ensnare their minds: giving them the gifts of speech and communication so that they may be able to form thoughts and thus become more than they are;, while at the same time having these thoughts bind and constrict their ideas, through endless labeling and defining so that it takes true imagination and magick to break beyond.

The Parable of the Cat

by Requiem

A cat sat scratching at the door, asking to be let out.

“But it is cold outside” said the human.

To which the cat began to meow loudly.

“But you could get hurt.” Said the human.

To which the cat threatened to hork a fhairball on the human’s shoes.

“Fine” said the human, who opened the door.

To which the cat ignored, and went into the kitchen.