Public Sigils

Chaos Magic works very heavily with sigils. And one fun technique involves viral sigils: sigils copied and placed in public locations so that random people will activate them (without realizing it). The idea here is that you get a scattershot approach, and instead of one result from your spell you get numerous. This works well in healing and money magic (as well as if you’re trying to get laid).

Somewhat related to this is the notion of trading sigils with other magicians who can help charge them. The idea here is that other magicians lack the lust of results and conscious awareness that can lessen the effectiveness of the sigil launch.

But there are some concerns with this approach, which Satyr Magos has pondered in a recent blog post: Continue reading

Wixen

(This was initially posted on my Tumblr blog, and is being cross-posted here with some slight adjustments.)

So a while back I was rambling about magic-users and sensitives and whatnot. What I was going on about is that people who are sensitive to magic are people that occupy or work in the liminal spaces, the between places at the edges of normal reality and whatever is beyond.

We have a certain obligation in occupying these spaces. When people encounter them unprepared, we are able to help them make sense of it and integrate back to reality. Or, if they insist on pushing on, we teach them how to make sense of the place we are and how to function there.

But I didn’t have a word for the people in the Between Place.

“Witch,” “magician,” “sorcerer,” “wizard” all denote certain technical skill sets, and have certain cultural connotations to them that exclude others. “Magic-user” is awkward, and not all of the people I’m talking about actually use magic, even though they’re sensitive to its actions and can be aware of it. And not all magic-users are psychics or clairvoyants or mediums (Would it not be media? Meditate.) But I want to include them as well. And the spirit workers and reiki healers and all of those, too.

“Sensitives” is okay, I suppose, but has a newagey feel to it that connotes a bit too much flakiness for my taste.

And then I came across the term “Wix

‘Wix’ is a gender neutral term for someone who practices magic, since the term ‘witch’ is more often than not seen as a feminine term. It’s very popular in the HP fandom, taking the word ‘mix’ but adding the ‘wi-’ of ‘witch’ and ‘wizard’. I haven’t seen the term used much in the pagan/witchy community.

Of course, “witch” is gender neutral already, although a lot of people outside the pagan community (and some inside it, I suppose) don’t seem to be aware of that fact.

But “witch” connotes a specific approach, a certain craft or practice. What I like is that the term Wix approached the gist of “someone who knows about spooky stuff and can maybe play with it” without the specifics of practice, religion, approach, action, or perception. It is a truly neutral word (so far) that has the association of those who play in the Between Place, but isn’t particular as to how they do it.

So I get to a point.

I’d like to use the word “Wix” (plural Wixen) in the following way:

A person who is sensitive to or aware of the existence and perception of things that are regarded as mystical, magical, spiritual, metaphysical, or beyond the realm of normal day-to-day perception and functioning

But me using this word in the way is little more than mental masturbation unless it catches on.

So I ask you, my followers and fellow Wixen:

If you like this idea, actually use the word. Use it in your writing. Use it in tags. Reblog this post so others become aware of this.

And beg forgiveness of the Harry Potter fandom.

 

 

[Addenda]

There have been some points brought up in discussion on Tumblr I thought worth mentioning.

The first and most important is the plural form, “wixen.” Concerns have been raised that it may be easily confused for the word “Wiccan.” This has led to the suggestion that both the singular and plural form be the same, “wix.” I can see the argument here, and frankly am open to accepting both as proper and favoring whichever one becomes more natural in actual usage. Some consideration must be given, however, to the fact that the word is being borrowed from the Harry Potter fandom, however, and their choice of the plural form should be respected, at least to some degree.

The second is somewhat relate, but a little more awkward. As it turns out, “wixen” is also German for a particular form of fetish involving men masturbating, often in lingerie. This is a problem because there is a strong potential to see things you may not want  while searching the tags on various blogs or websites (especially Tumblr.) Many of these sites do have an adult filter on search results (should you decide to use it) so this problem can be mitigated to some degree, but it has been used as a string argument for “wix” being the plural form as well. (I wonder if the HP fandom has dealt with this problem?)

 

Continue reading

Witches in Popular Culture

Steven Posch has a brief article on what he calls witchsploitation.

You know the genre. Wicker Man I (“the one without Nicholas Cage,” as a local movie marquee put it during the midnight Samhain run last year), To the Devil a Daughter…so many to choose from. Somewhere off in the sticks there are (bwa-ha-ha) still real, live witches (or left-over pagans) and they still practice…(shudder)…human sacrifice. Whoa, dude, way scary.

A coven-sib recently confessed to me that her bookshelves are filled with trashy novels with the word “witch” in the title. Magenta, you’re not alone. I resemble that remark myself, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.

The most amusing are the ones written by people who have done just a little research. Remember that 1964 cauldron-boiler Book of Shadows? In the opening scene, police are called to a gruesome murder in NYC’s Central Park. A man has had his belly ripped open, his guts nailed to a tree, and he’s been forced to walk around and around the tree wrapping a grim maypole with his own intestines.

Continue reading

Setting Roots

Jacki the Pint-Sized Pirate had a little bit to say recently on wanderlust and being rootless.

Wanderlust is deep in my bones and soul.  Traveling is a compulsion, much like writing, not only am I incapable of ignoring it, I don’t want to.  It’s every bit as addictive as my tattoos and piercings.

[...]

I dream of seeing so many places and things, and I’m still longing to be back in England, so I thought I’d share with you a list of places I’m dying to visit, because there is magick in travelling.

There is magic in traveling. Going to new places. Meeting new people. Seeing new lands. Adjusting to the energy and feel of those places.

I work with an obscure magical system that emphasizes journeying, to the point where it calls its magician “travelers.” According to this system, you draw spiritual energy from your surroundings, and must travel regularly to new places, meeting new people and seeing new things, in order to restore your spirit. The harshest curse in this tradition is one that anchors the spirit in place, causing it to stagnate and eventually starve to death.

So I love to travel, and view all travel as a spiritual exercise.

I’ve been to Chicago twice, and it has a fun and energetic vibe to it. I’ve been to New York a few times, and although the city is vitally alive and constantly moving, it feels much less harsh to me than Chicago. Colorado is mesmerizing, its mountains tense and fresh. Las Vegas feels like a giant playground, brimming with indulgence, and I love it.

The energies if all of those places are different, and each one is a little more conducive for a different type of energy or magic — especially of you’re a visitor who hasn’t adapted to that vibe the way the natives have.

And therein lies the magic. Making the optimal use of the unique flavors of a different city, and of adapting yourself to that energy. And taking some of that energy and understanding of it with you, and growing from it.

But I’m a Scorpio with a Cancer Moon and a Cancer Ascendant. I need a lair. I require a stable and secure base of operations from which to work out of. I have to have a safe p[lace to rest and process and relax my defenses.

I need to establish roots.

Rooting in a place is a long process for me, and it’s difficult for me to operate at full capacity until I’m settled. The basic process is the same I described above for adapting to new places — traveling to locations, adapting to the energy and cycles, meeting the people, and adapting to the vibe. The real difference is that while setting roots, I am integrating myself into a place fully, whereas when I travel I integrate enough to function and bring the lessons learned and energy absorbed back home to digest later.

Perhaps “root” isn’t the right metaphor — I’ve always preferred “web.”

My lair is the center of the web. I make strong connections to the places I inhabit the most, where I need to know what is going on and who is going to be there. Places I visit less often have looser connections, but are still integrated in. But the caution against stagnation applies: events closer to home become more routine, and those father from home more memorable and profound.

In essence, the web allows me to bring that energy and insight from other places in to my safe place, where I can make sense of it with less risk.

And this is also magical. It is related to the magic of traveling, but is on a different level.

Some people don’t need that base to operate from. For such people, being in one place too long can be highly detrimental. But I need to lay roots.

My roots run deep, but they grow far, and bring in nourishment from distant places.

Creating Gods

Taylor Ellwood talks a little but about pop-culture paganism, and pop-culture entities being “real.”

What makes a pop culture character real? The connection you have with it and the interactions that occur as a result of that connection. The research you do to learn more about the character, and the way you integrate the character into your magical work is also other ways that you bring the character to life. The more you build the connection, the more you bring the character to life. What also makes pop culture entities real is how many other people are also building connections to that same entity. All of those interactions aren’t necessarily the same and may not mean the same to a given person, but they all add up. For those of us who are open to working with a pop culture entity, it provides added fuel to the fire. The pop culture entity becomes real, for us, when we accept that it can have an objective existence, and yet also have a symbiotic one in relationship the interactions it has with us. Pop culture entities become real because they mean something to the people they interact with. An impression is made, a connection established and an experience is had that moves the person enough to continue working with that pop culture entity. To other people it may seem like it’s all in the head of the person doing the work, but if that person is relatively sane and functional and the working consistently produces results, who can really say if it’s just in that person’s head?

A while back I read an anecdote about a chaos magician that created a servitor to adjust his experience of time. (I can’t find the link, so I’ll relate it as best as I can.) Basically, there are two types of time: measured time, ruled by Chronos (what the clock ticks away), and personal time, or the subjective experience of time. The servitor adjusted the latter, so that the magician would experience time passing faster during unpleasant or boring events, and slower during more enjoyable events.

As the servitor worked better, the magician shared it with his friends. It learned and grew into a larger egrigore. More people used it and its realm of experience increased even further. Eventually, it aspired to godhood and hoped to challenge Chronos.

I’m not sure what happened to it.

In traditional Chinese religion, it is accepted that spirits become more powerful as they receive more offerings and worship. If a ghost causes trouble, it will receive attention to appease it, and if its cult grows large enough it can attain godhood.

And of course the Ancient Greeks deified their heroes, and the Romans deified their emperors.

So why can’t we deify fictional characters? And why can’t they develop a life of their own?

A servitor, tulpa, or similar thoughtform is given life to perform certain functions. If given enough license to learn and given more authority, it can become more powerful and develop more of a personality. When several people come together for a common purpose in a group, the egrigore they create can long outlast individual members of the group.

Are not fandoms feeding these egrigores? Is the energy they direct into the characters not a form of worship? Can the characters not easily develop a life of their own?

And when they do, can they not be petitioned like any other entity?

On how pop culture gods and other entities can become real or deified

Also, countering Pete Carroll on why astrology is useful

Audience

Mike Sententia talked a bit about experiences explaining magic to people.

I get nervous explaining magick. Even to friends, even if they believe too, even after writing this blog for four years. I expect they’ll be bored, or they’ll trivialize my work as just another visualization, another arbitrary way to communicate intent to the unconscious. And so, I rush.

I rush through the model, defining terms rather than explaining the ideas behind them. I talk about one technique, rather than walking them through the overarching model and my reasons for using it. I try to finish quickly, rather than drawing them in so they want to explore the ideas with me.

Of course, rushing creates the exact problems I’m anticipating.

But if you take the time to consider the fact that they don’t know what you’re talking about (or at least not to the detail you are familiar with), and take them slowly through it, you get better results.

This week, I explained my current work to a friend. I made myself slow down. Explained ethereal muscles before discussing communication. Talked about referred sensations from imagination before discussing the tingles that come from energy. Stepped her through each idea while we had breakfast.

And she got it. She even offered to help me test some techniques

The problem here is twofold.

First of all, when you’re really in depth into something, it can be very difficult to remember the perspective you had as a novice. This makes it very easy to jump over an important term or concept, forgetting that the person you’re talking to isn’t familiar with it. And then you jump back and forth in a disjointed fashion, which makes it easy to lose people. Lost people become bored easily. (Notice how Sententia had better results when he presented his information in a more organized fashion?)

Secondly, this has a lot to do about passion and interest, and isn’t exclusive to magic. It’s easy to do this with whatever your passion or hobby or love is. It can be magic, the occult, or paganism, sure. It can also be gushing over the latest episode of Sherlock, or Supernatural, or going on endlessly about cars, or politics, or what color you baby’s poop was. We gush about what we’re passionate about.

Both of these issues are about perspective and empathy. It is very easy to forget the perspective of someone not as emotionally or intellectually invested in something as you are, and tone down your responses appropriately. Keep your audience in mind, and you will find it more receptive.

On problems of explaining magic, the occult, paganism, fandoms, or anything that is unusual and cliquish to outsiders

Solitary Practice

Carl Neal at Pagan Square offers an interesting and stressful experience in a local wooded area years past:

When I opened my eyes and looked around, I saw there was a young couple on the adjoining trail with their small child. Although the look on the adult’s faces was priceless, it was clear that they were disturbed that I was hugging and talking to a tree and telling it not to be afraid. I smiled at them and started to explain what I was doing as I stood up. The couple didn’t wait for my explanation. Apparently standing up made them think that the “crazy tree-guy” was going to attack them so they ran down the trail like jack rabbits, with child in tow, and vanished onto the main trail leading back to the central parking area.

Exercising the better part of valor, I bade the tree spirit farewell and slide back to my car (parked near the “secret” back parking lot) just in case Park Rangers were dispatched with a straight jacket.

I’m willing to bet that most people who have done any sort of pagan or magic thing in a public areas know the nervousness that comes when other people approach. At the very least, it can be disruptive and embarrassing. At worst, it can pose a safety risk, especially if you are doing anything at night.

I can’t help but think that had there been a crowd of tree huggers that the couple would have passed on by with a chuckle, but seeing a Solitary left quite a different impression. Yes, being a Solitary Pagan can be a risky proposition. Not because being “out of the broom closet” might cost a job but because saying hello to a fairy just might get you put in restraints!

Depending on what you are doing, there is a risk that you might be seen as slightly insane, and there may be some authority figures involved. I myself have had encounters with the police in which they expressed concerns about ritual tools and weapons and wanted to know why I was in a given area at a given time of night.

My own past activities are not something I want to go into great detail about, but let’s just say that there were times in which I was in public parks past posted hours. I was lucky that the police officers I spoke with were friendly and happy to let me be once they were satisfied I was not doing anything dangerous or seriously illegal. There may have been other times when I was on privately owned wooded land — this was very stupid and I cannot endorse such actions, as private landowners may take more aggressive measures, and companies that own land are willing to prosecute those who ignore “no trespassing” signs.

The issue here is one of personal safety. If you are a solitary practitioner, and don’t have anyone to buddy up with when you go into wildish areas, you must exercise extreme caution. (I usually went out with Jack or other folks when I prowled around in my younger days, so at least I wasn’t totally alone.) If you are too far off the beaten path, there can be a risk of simple falls and injuries, but if you’re close to the beaten path there can be risks involved from people walking up on you. I’ve never had anyone come up on me when I was doing anything too weird that couldn’t be resolved by being still and quiet for a moment until they went by, but Neal’s story illustrates a potential for more direct and awkward encounters. And as I mentioned above, take care where you go, as access to some places is limited and can potentially get you into legal trouble.

So if you’re going to go out and play among the trees and things, and insist in going by yourself, keep a few things in mind:

1) Know the area first. Don’t tread into unfamiliar territory by yourself.

2) Dress for the weather. Make sure you’re warm if it’s cold out. Make sure you have water if it’s hot.

3) find a secluded spot for any work you plan to do. Even in busy areas, you can usually find a quieter place off the main path where people don’t go much.

4) Be careful about what tools you take with you. This is especially important if you have any ritual knives. Know what is legal to carry in your locality.

5) Be respectful if law enforcement becomes involved. Sure, they might think you’re weird, but most of them don’t care if you’re weird as long as you’re not causing trouble.

6) Be aware of your surroundings. While it’s hard to keep an eye out for passersby if you’re in a trace state, listening when doing any other work can let you know if anyone is approaching. Sometimes just being quiet for a moment is enough to avoid a potential conflict.

7) Be mindful of land boundaries! Most public parks close after dark, and you may have the cops called if you are seen. Be careful about trespass signs and warnings. I could offer tips on how to access such land with care, but for liability reasons I will not, and will simply advise you to stay off other people’s property.

8) Make sure someone knows where you’ll be. Just in case.

On the risks and considerations of solitary practice