Goals for 2014

I keep saying that I’m not bog on the New Year’s resolution thing.

But I also recognize that this is a good opportunity to evaluate past goals and set new ones, especially since I did not do so on my birthday.

Bach in March, I set some goals for myself. In June I reviewed and revised them. Time to see where I’m at now. Continue reading

Art

I’ve never liked to call myself an artist.

When I was little, I used to play with clay. The kind that you can get from Crayola, that never dries out and is in bright colors. I would use butter knives and toothpicks to sculpt rather intricate detail into my work. My mother used to bring her friends into my room to show them my elaborate Star Trek sets, which included the entire Enterprise D bridge and crew. The figures were less than an inch tall and had recognizable details, like Worf’s sash and Geordi’s visor.

I always had a lump of clay hidden in my desk in grade school, and would sculpt space shuttles, cars, and Transformers by touch during boring lectures.

In high school, I produced ceramic bowls, plates, and vessels, as well as characters and ships from video games. I once managed to construct a two foot ceramic rat and a large Vic Viper.

Mine didn’t look that cool. I never thought to make the Options, either.

I did paper-mache on wire frames. Some rather simple designs. Oh, and a three-foot tall model of Beavis and Butthead choking each other.

Uh huh huh. It was pretty cool.

I did jewelry work in high school. I made some necklaces and rings. When I was a little older, I made my (now ex) wife’s engagement ring. I even created some pieces for magical use.

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You saw this briefly in my toolbox video. Penny is for scale. That is solid sterling silver.

I’ve done some woodworking. I used to make small altars for stone a candle magic. I even sold a few of them. I once build a double-cube Qabalistic altar on commission for $100.

In grade school I played the violin. And the clarinet. And the slide trombone. I still play my ocarina, and I have a guitar, although I’ve never had the time or money to take lessons. I sing all the damn time, and very frequently filk songs or make up my own random ditties. I have sang ballads to pad thai and odes to tacos.

In middle school, I once created a dummy that I could punch and beat up to release aggression. I sewed it by hand. I’ve helped my partner make period clothes for SCA events, and have constructed my own ritual clothes.

I’ve been writing stories since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I’ve written horrible poetry by the truckload, some decent and clever poetry, and most science-fiction themed short stories. I wrote a 50-page novella for a creative writing class in high school. I’m getting back into the practice, and am working on a few short stories and ideas for a few books. And I suppose designing, editing, and writing for the several websites and blogs I’ve had over the years ought to count for something.

I used to do photography. Hidden somewhere are dozens if not hundreds of pictures, of people, landscapes, unusual objects, animals, insects, buildings, vehicles, and whatever else looked interesting. I actually worked as a portrait photographer for a while. And hopefully you’ve seen some of my experiments with videos. I’ve even made some video games before. (RPG Maker FTW!)

And I cook. I cook very well, and I’ve been doing it as an occupation in some form for at least 13 years. Now I am by no means a trained chef, but I cook well, and I take pride in making food that is not only tasty but is presented in a very visually appealing manner.

In high school I was in theater. I can apply my own and other people’s stage makeup. I can set lighting, design sets, and build them. And I can assume a persona and present that to the audience.

And I am a magician. Through imagery, voice, and movement, I commune with the divine. It’s like acting, but the gods are my audience.

 

But I’ve never liked to think of myself as an artist.

A little while ago, I wrote about feeling lost. My Mentor told me that I was struggling because I have the soul of an artist, but I wasn’t making art. I said this about it:

You see, I have equated “art” with “pretension” for some time. I get very annoyed with pagans, witches, and magicians who flaunt their “artist” credentials and drone on about incorporating their art with their magic in some grand project. This has even led me to not think of valid artists as “artists” if they’re not annoying and self absorbed. In my mind, people like Lupa are highly skilled craftsmen (uhhh, craftspersons?) and technicians. Anyone who perfects a technical craft is making art. One of the most beautiful examples I have seen of this was a a cook at a Pizza Hut who flicked his wrist and flipped a 12 inch pizza straight from the pan into the box. That’s art. Bloviating for 20 minutes about your “vision” isn’t.

Art is about seeing connections between things that other may not have seen before. Art is about form and function. Art is about pride and grace. Art is about quality. Art is about creating something that someone else recognizes as valuable because it has a beauty or quality uniquely its own. It is also about capturing the beauty of objects or moments in the world and expressing them in unique or thought-provoking ways. It is all these things and more.

Anything that humans put there hands to with mindfulness, creativity, and passion is art. And I must begrudgingly admit that this includes the self-serving pretentious assholes who ejaculate on trash and present it as a political thesis.

I am an artist. I am owning that fact.

Beware.

Patterns: Divination and Creativity

Tyler Elwood posted some thoughts on divination and pattern recognition.

It’s not so much that the person has read my future but rather has shown me some existing patterns as well as other ones to be aware of. I’ve found the same to be true with Tarot readings and other forms of divination. What is being read are patterns of information and behavior and from that a person can get a good idea of what s/he needs to anticipate in the future.

I’ve done a lot of tarot readings at psychic fairs, and many of those readings are for people who have never had readings done for them. A common, and sometimes frustrated, observation by these querents is that I do not tell them much that they didn’t already know. But most of them observe that I put things that they did know into the context of a larger pattern or picture, which helped them determine a more appropriate course of action.

Tarot does not divine the future. I shows the present, and what is most probable to occur in the future if the current course is followed. This can sometimes throw new tarot readers off if the querent makes sudden decisions or changes their mind during the reading: the pattern shifts before you finish describing it, and that can in turn produce a disjointed or confused reading.

Tyler seems to be of a similar frame of thought:

The same applies to a Tarot reading. Someone does a reading for you and what it supplies you is an awareness of patterns of information. The cards don’t reveal the future but they show you what to look out for. Of course the only problem with this approach is that when you are looking at specific patterns you may not be aware of others. Pattern recognition helps you to be aware patterns, but it also acts as a filter so that you may only see those patterns. This is why although getting a divinatory reading can be helpful, sometimes it can be just as helpful to leave yourself open to experience to see what happens.

Tyler’s post stems from an astrology reading. Astrology is a curious case because we can see what influences are coming up far enough in advance to prepare for them, or at the very least if something big seems to be going on we can look at the astrological weather to see what’s going on. The problem with astrology is that it can be very vague, and how those influences impact you can vary widely.

But the real important issue for me is that connection between patterns and divination. My partner always says that she isn’t psychic, she just sees the bigger pattern and can tell where things are likely to go. And this is how I do readings, tarot, dice, or otherwise. It is recognizing how things fit together and then relate to the larger motion of the world that we find trends and patterns that guide us not in what will happen, but what we ultimately hope to have happen. If your outcome is not want you want, you need to look at what patterns are keeping you from that goal and change the expression of those patterns in your life and how they affect you.

I always felt this was why Apollo ruled both art and divination. Art and creativity depend largely on seeing new connections where others do not, and putting things together in new and unique ways. It is about recognizing a larger pattern that may not make sense to a lay person, but is apparent to the artist, and made manifest through his work. And this is the same process that divination undertakes, and why my prayers to Apollo address divination and creativity in terms of the ability to see new patterns as they emerge.

Lost

I’ve been lost for some time. I’ve always had an overwhelming feeling that I am Fated For Something Great(TM), but I’ve never had that Aha! moment of being totally certain that X or Y is the One Thing I Am Destined to Do. And I’m good at a lot of things: there are plenty of things I could do if motivated and credentialed. I can teach religion or history, I have an aptitude for geography and meteorology, I am capable enough to practice law, I have enough of an inclination for instruments that I could play several if I just went and learned, I am a very capable cook, had I stuck with it I could handle computer programming, if I wanted to put up with the scratched hands I have the aptitude for auto mechanics, I can sculpt, carve wood and make furniture, and make jewelry. If I focused on any of these things seriously and properly accredited myself, I could perform them well enough to establish a career.

But none calls to me.

A friend told me I should write. He said that writing and writing alone is my primary talent. And he said this is because I have an artist’s soul.

I cringed at that one.

You see, I have equated “art” with “pretension” for some time. I get very annoyed with pagans, witches, and magicians who flaunt their “artist” credentials and drone on about incorporating their art with their magic in some grand project. This has even led me to not think of valid artists as “artists” if they’re not annoying and self absorbed. In my mind, people like Lupa are highly skilled craftsmen (uhhh, craftspersons?) and technicians. Anyone who perfects a technical craft is making art. One of the most beautiful examples I have seen of this was a a cook at a Pizza Hut who flicked his wrist and flipped a 12 inch pizza straight from the pan into the box. That’s art. Bloviating for 20 minutes about your “vision” isn’t.

But at any rate, I was told by a trusted mentor that I was an artist. But I don’t feel like one. So I’m lost.

I think it’s my past lives.

I don’t talk about past lives much, but I’ve got quite a few vivid memories (if they can be believed, which I’m not sure, but whether they’re real or not, the psychological impact is about the same). My last several lives have been in pretty rapid succession. I’m on my fourth lifetime since the late 1800s, and of those, this is the first one I’ve had where I haven’t killed anyone (yet), haven’t been in the military, and have lived longer than 25 years.

So here’s my theory. If I’m an artistic spirit, and I’ve spend the 80 of the last 120 years or so as a soldier, would that leave me feeling a little lost? When the past life that calls strongest to me is the one where I was a general in Rome, might that explain why I’m a little disoriented and can’t settle on an art project?

 

I like to write. I think of Ideas to write. But the sitting down is difficult, because there is Stuff that Must Be Done. The duty to others takes precedent. Orders first.

I’m open to ideas …