So this one isn’t technically a music video so much as a video with music in it. It begins with Teng expressing an erstwhile fear of never becoming a great artist because it isn’t only about technical skills, creativity had to come from being an interesting person whereas Teng’s own life had been so ordinary. Fortunately, there were people who lived in this artist’s head, and one very beautiful and very powerful one who did not always have Teng’s best interests as a priority…but who could inspire hauntingly moody, powerful and beautiful music such as this.
In German there is a word betrachten which means giving something life, growth, and greater number when you give it attention. There’s something to be said for simply ignoring what isn’t constructive to address, something to be said for shutting down or shutting out what’s outright harmful, but not (in this instance) by me. (Though the philosopher Swift made a video lecture explaining the humanist existential concept of shaekitoff.) I believe art and fiction as a medium overwhelmingly often take what we’d rather eliminate within (and we can try, but nothing of the psyche truly dies) and put it outside where we can have more control over it, where we can watch what once festered in invisibility and silence, and transform or direct that force or focus more beneficiently. One does not become “enlightened” through figures of the light only, but by making the darkness conscious.
The mythic adversarial figure of Mircea (and the Mircean Firebird) may never be redeemed, even as much to the status of challenger—but I don’t consider it a glorification of evil necessarily to acknowledge the presence and nature of evil.
So come to me, my love
I’ll tap into your strength and drain it dry;
Can never have enough
For you, I’d burn the length and breadth of sky
For I must die for what I’ve done
A twist of fate, a desert sun
For I see what I destroy
(Sweet reflection knife into me) For I see what I destroy
I can see what I’ve begun
2. “Just Like Fire” by P¡nk
I keep mishearing a line in the chorus, “If I can light the world up for just one day” as “fucking, like, the world up for just one day“.
…That’s my only comment. It’s a song about being like fire and being different; if that’s not laethic, I don’t know what is!
3. “Wide Awake” by Katy Perry
This definitely isn’t a song I like, but I do like the visuals in the video. It speaks to me especially of some more contemplative Dark Laethas: martial and strategic Alaria, hypercritical Artois, competitive Azure and healer Alma.
4. If I could find the official music video for “Indestructible” by Alisha’s Attic, I would have included that too for the CGI animation from 1997. The song generally gives me feels of the Laethas Ava and Alma’s sisterhood, and also a rare and harshly defensive side of the human Arabella—that I think of as Traumabella (as Mircea’s ex-lover, and Only Human, some vestigial habits of living with evil I have heard called “fleas”.)
At least here is “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Buggles.
Retro-futuristic sci-fi nostalgia about technology. LAETHIC AS HARK, HOLY HEARTS. For such an enjoyably campy video, too, the sound production has so much dimension.
In my mystic life, I think it’s safe to conclude that the Dierne Pallis does not like me. It’s been thirteen months since the first heavy hint of that. I still haven’t figured out why that would be, or if that even is the case as I’d expect some limitations to come with that tension—and the most obvious one hasn’t. For instance, Lilybell’s been around a lot, no trouble.
And in my laity life, I still include the Dierne when speaking the litany, still keep the Dierne in mind when I make small efforts to enjoy life sometimes, still explore the Dierne’s symbolic associations…Well, what’s supposed to happen with all of those, when a faery sovereign mystically dislikes someone who speaks and thinks and lives the ‘faith with that one in it? Should a fresh canker sore form on my tongue for every time I dared to speak the title? Must I commit to an ascetic life, with respect to joy being the domain of the Dierne—uh-oh, communicative consent is the Dierne’s domain, too, do I live among corporeal people without regard for that from now on too? (Better to keep that a secular value.) Do I stay away from star shapes and diamond shapes for religious reasons?
I get the sense that the Dierne really doesn’t want a personal relationship with, but would still preside over eir domains that I’m living in. Or, I expect at least that much, and if that’s not the baseline compromising way of it then I should make something diernic and dedicatory for the sole purpose of desecrating that thing. Because I’ve already asked why, nicely, with genuine curiosity, several times. If I wanted a religion that arbitrarily demanded I make life purposelessly difficult for myself under the silently judgmental gaze of a spiritual lord, I’d’ve stayed Catholic.
Life is difficult, though (…wrote the literate Anglophone with internet access.) Sometimes that’s an outright burden, other times I have the privilege of reframing that difficulty as an opportunity or challenge.
Maybe if I could drive, I’d appreciate another level of interconnectedness with the city, or some awareness of my body as I wrestle with the steering and pedals. The way I’ve watched some people extend themselves into their cars is almost transhumanist.
When I was very young and somewhat smaller than I am today, I was always a passenger. I would be ushered into a machine full of cushioned seats, and doors with rubber at the edges that sealed them shut, and a movie would play at every window of the world passing by, and finally I’d get out of that room and find myself magically teleported to a new place. I’d watched the same movie run outside the window enough times that I should have had it memorized, but I never put in the effort: it was just a movie, and not even a favorite one. I didn’t process the turns, or the lifts over the bumps; in The Car, I’d take it as sitting still.
It wasn’t until I was 17 that I took the jeepney and train route alone for the first time. I sensed that my sibling had fallen into a grump, before I left: at not much older, ey’d been flown abroad for university and had to figure it all out alone. The both of us had taken the commute route together enough times. I should have known it by then, so ey’d argued over the phone to our parent. And I’d agreed, and I very much wanted to go pet-sit because I like animals, and all the young protagonists in all the books I’d read were never so troubled at wandering another dimension of reality—one city to another ought to have been easy.
I still felt as though I was going to die if I set foot out the door. And then, several foot-sets out the door and into a jeepney, that I wouldn’t recognize the train station if I watched for it. I felt as though I’d miss my stop when everyone and the driver had left for theirs, and that the jeepney would keep rolling into and through a wormhole in the fabric of spacetime where everything gets stretched out into some void cosmic darkness, and that I’d die that way. And then that, if I asked the jeepney driver one more time if this was the station, that ey’d take on a snappish tone answering no, and then my feelings would be hurt…and I would die. From that. Somehow.
My one parent called me anxiously on my cel, said not to go pet-sit for my sibling’s friend after all because the commute would be full of smog and bumping into strangers, and what if I contacted lung cancer or got mugged or the weather was bad or I lost my way? As I was already halfway there, comfortably within my bearings, it was too late to warn me off.
Since then, I’d found a lot to like about commuting. To be sure, it’s exhausting, body and fumes; the train’s always getting more expensive (I can’t say enough how lucky I am to keep up), inclement weather isn’t always enjoyable, so much can go differently in crowd movement and/or machinery that I can’t get to where I meant to be exactly when I meant to be, and while the vast majority of commuters are really just trying to get from one place to another…even after having gained a tolerance for crowds, there’s a few I wish I hadn’t been quite so near, and that wasn’t even traumatic (which is always a possibility.) It’s far more of a privilege than it is a virtue for me to have gotten past my fears and maladaptive sensitivities, to have the funds to even travel, and to be part of the majority of the population that’s ambulatory. Subway elevators in my city are very narrow; subway escalators are very steep and very very narrow. More vulnerable people still have to fight for this practice, whether the approach is sacred urban paganism or (more likely) secular utilitarianism—even in a developed nation. In my offline social circles, walking and the commute is the resort of the almost-destitute. Nobody does that for fun in this city. To be a commuter, especially a pedestrian, is so pedestrian.
Maybe one day I’ll have the time to learn to ride a bike, or the money to get my license and a Volkswagen beetle painted red and spotted black, and I’ll explore the transhumanist aspect and declare myself half machine (at least while traveling—Maybe similarly, if I need to be somewhere I’m not familiar with, I surf Google maps on my phone, which I couldn’t have done as easily in the 90s.) Maybe one day I’ll appreciate the childhood luxury of being chauffered, in that cushioned film reel room with the dreadfully chilly wind. I remember that time and feel only this queasy revulsion at such powdered-and-perfumed helplessness.
I know this city (and the next one over) well enough, and the flow of the travel well enough, that I feel as though I become it when I travel and it becomes me. To learn the art of the commute meant more personal power, and freedom. I do it when I have to, when I have a responsibility to, and things go wrong—but when, where, and how is a decision nobody else makes for me. Beyond that, the passing of the world outside isn’t merely a movie anymore. It’s a reason to catch sunshine, toasting my skin and filling me with life, or else burning and sweltering. It’s the way it glints off the skyscraper-scape of the business district, where the sidewalks are almost pavilions. It’s the smells of street vendor’s food frying, and a nearby chocolate factory, and a sort of oceanic version of petrichor riding in a gust from the bay. It’s the steampunk technology of the jeepney drivers—cooling fans, pull-stop lights and horns on a literal shoestring—army vehicles deconstructed and neon-painted and rainbow-beribboned in times of peace, and sitting up front with a co-commuter and eir bamboo cage of live chickens. It’s a memory of a Japanese superstition (overheard from a non-Japanese friend of a non-Japanese friend, who’d been there, I can’t add “or so they said” because I was there with them in Tokyo but couldn’t speak a word of Japanese,) concerning train spirits that may take offense at commuters using their phones, and my now knowing by what national partnership the main rail came to be in my own city, and wondering. I don’t know what’s poetic about buses, but I’ll think of something later maybe.
Often, it’s ignoring the litter and walking guiltily past the many, many, many beggars.
On occasion, it’s feeling cramps around the hamstrings and having a pack of salty batter-fried peanuts for dinner when I get home because I’m too tired from traveling to cook. Compared to my youth in The Car, I don’t feel the same revulsion at having a room to call home. I think everyone ought to have a way to stay out of the rain, where richer people won’t prod you with a stick for trying to sleep just because the sidewalk doesn’t look nice with people lying down on it (as though there were always somewhere else to go!) It’s only a thought: I’m not given what I call home by right, but by luck. And not a small amount of express entitlement.
the Dierne Pallis should be here, too: in the room called home, in the natural light from the window, in the mechanical breeze (from that spinny thing sounds like an admirer), in the box of winter that keeps the ice cream sandwiches that I eat in my bed—in that last one, the option of that, or batter-fried peanuts, or groceries that have been stored and just need a bit of cooking and have actual nutrition. To have options! To choose what you want!
Until everyone has at least that much, though, my headcanon Pallis continues to wander.
To the Dierne Pallis, the Pedestrian, the Streetwalker, the Wanderer. When one in destination longs for another, may you lend them your comet’s tail. Keep us lofty wealthy restless ’til we uplift those who have fallen where the pavement breaks. The ways within the City between the Cities are yours, the rush of the hour, the press of the crowd. Hold us together and keep us apart. This I pray.
the Clarene’s laid claim to fairy tale compilations and I heartily agree to adopt this headcanon. However, I haven’t felt like doing a cover-to-cover read of my copy of the Grimm fairy tales, to gather familiar symbolism and maybe spark some insight.
So, I’ve started doing bibliomancy instead, that is, taking the book, letting how I randomly feel like turning to some random page, and paying attention to whatever random line on that page that I randomly feel like reading.
Figuring this out has been an adventure in thinking about how I think about it.
“What a beautiful bird I am!”
For example, that line from “the Juniper Tree”. Is it the Laetha catching me away from a communion I’d set out with the Clarene again, or the bluebird Sky Ophelia, or the first Dierne because of the singing? Or is it a fairy tale of solace because of the simply-told yet unfathomably complicated position of the enabler/victim, the favored younger daughter of an abusive stepmother, who in some versions is named Marleen and in others Anne-Marie (like one of the ghosts who haunt the Laetha’s mansion)? The Moth Diaries film has the vampire-ghost Ernessa sing a version of this fairy tale’s song to the tune of Roud Folk Song Index #13190 (wouldn’t give up a millstone for that, personally,) where I first heard it, though I didn’t know that it was from this tale, or what it meant. Do I incorporate that association in my intuitive process?
My intuitions settled on the story itself being a message that, in a post-truth world, it’ll still all work out.
She had a fairy looking-glass, to which she used to go, and then she would gaze upon herself in it, and say:
Sometimes I read ahead or behind, enough that it makes more sense simply as text.
“Tell me, glass, tell me true! Of all the ladies in the land, Who is the fairest, tell me, who?”
There we go.
My version’s big on stepfamily conflicts, I know the original Snowdrop or Snow White had some very flabbergasting animosity between the biological mother who wished for a beautiful daughter and the beautiful daughter that the now murderously envious mother wished for in the first place. As this is the first instance of that rhyme, is the mirror’s answer an affirmation of self-love, just taken in isolation from the rest of the story? Or is it a calling to Mirror Work, taken in isolation from the rest of the story and associated to Otherfaith? Or ought I take this passage as an omen against self-absorbed obsession that gets taken out on innocent wee princesses, and is this my own self-absorbed obsession to be wary of or is it somebody else’s?
The moon shone brightly, and the white pebbles which lay in front of the house glittered like real silver pennies.
Hansel collecting markers for a trail back home before (as ey well knows) eir parents abandon em and eir sibling Gretel. It reads like an encouraging thing, out of context. I also parallel this with “the Juniper Tree” in the positive brother-sister bonds. Hansel and Gretel work as a team: though Hansel’s the planner and implementer of the operation the first couple of times, it’s Gretel who defeats the ‘final boss’ when Hansel’s locked up. With Anne-Marie and the unnammed brother, they’re more a team in terms of deciding when compassion or retribution are appropriate.
Bibliomancy interpretations haven’t gotten so very methodical to me, yet, right now I’m just flipping the pages around, and dipping back into the classic tales that way.
The descriptor that got through to me, that I could understand a labyrinth as sacred geometry after, was grace. The shape of a labyrinth can mean: In this place, there is nowhere else you must be; in this movement, there is nothing else you must do.
It’s like any other way to alter the mind enough to catch at some soul-high message, maybe, except this is what’s been working for me right now. It used to be a variety of breathing patterns into blankness, then entering a tarot card illustration, then guided audio meditations, and I keep hearing about binaural beats but that hasn’t worked all that much better to me. Considering how often I’ve had to change up my methods when the previous one stopped working, I might get into it in the future. So far, though, no.
I was aghast to read about a meditation class where the instructor insisted on the fourfold breath to a student for whom the instructor knew that breathing pattern did not good-feeling stuff to the student’s cardio. There are so. Many. Other. Ways. To. Breathe! Must I also add that someone else’s way to breathe comfortably is valid for meditative practice? Or even, like…life? (I am so harshly judging that instructor.)
Labyrinth travel is hardly as basic as breathing, though in that vein, I’ve been fortunate enough to try out a variety of designs.
When I started getting into finger-tracing miniature labyrinths as a prayer practice, I had this idea of a labyrinthine part of Western Faery built of red brick—which it looks like Aine’s portrait of the Clarene sits on! I didn’t catch that detail the first time, or I forgot and it stewed in my subconscious until it bubbled up as the Sierra Sienna (which I sometimes call the Sienna Sierra.)
This next picture below shows the Ophelia. Mine’s the very anthropic version on the left panel, Opalfish’s gives me the vibes of (to paraphrase Granny Aching from the Discworld series) “‘Taint what the River looks like, it’s what the River be.”
So I certainly make room, even in my little pocket altar, for both the relational experience of the fae presenting/performing and representing as anthropomorphic (and zoomorphic—aww, I wish I’d figured out how to work in some of that in my portrait, butterfly wings, or gills or blue peacock feathers or something, maybe another time,) and this more phenomenal, animistic, symbolic sort of representation…and whatever it means to an individual Other Person, in haphazard combination or in-between (as I expect to be the case, usually—these are liminal beings.)
Next pic below is Aine’s portrait of the Laetha Arabella, and mine of the Dierne before Pallis (the Princess Irene, with whom I generate an unexpected lot more headcanon.)
the Laetha portrait turned out the best on photo paper, I’d say—bold lines, the colors just pop, and I feel it’s a style that generally conveys well that the Otherfaith is a contemporary religion, especially the upstart regent that the Laetha is (along with the Dierne Pallis.)
Maybe I’ll get around to adding some written prayers to this. More likely, though, it’d be adding more images—of the Dierne Pallis, at least a few more of the Laethas, and the fusions. Maybe some non-royal fae. Images alone feel right enough for now.
and the thing is I keep trying to post something not frivolous, such as practical conversational formalities to navigate conflicting headcanons, or the moral philosophy metaphysics of oppression and abuse, or how human history/geography and body politics convey specific qualities or characteristics of these fae (despite fae not necessarily being human, temporal, spatial, or corporeal—therefore not consistently subject to human narrative expectations/associations, not at all!) and how—though I’ve gotten so comfortable and open to the fae Others enough to find them and theirs in the world and life that I experience more corporeally—the Otherfaith remains very much an American religion to me. That last post would’ve quoted the earliest email exchanges I had with Aine Llewellyn back in 2014, and a more recent conversation with Morag Spinner about the dynamic between diaspora pagan gods and indigenous ones in the continental Americas. And there would have been footnotes 1.
Some of the fae Others suggest that I lighten up. My response to that being: the world the way it is, how about no.
Just as the title says, this is a post about incorporeal otherworldly weapons. I wish it were relevant.
My earlier paradigms of mysticism focused on finding consistent empirical evidence for forms of wishcraft that claimed empirical effects. Psychokinesis and remote viewing were the most practical skills I never accomplished, telepathy had too much bias interference but was fun to practice, lucid dreaming could be personally insightful but not much else unless at least two people could manage to have the same dream—and then there were the warriors. Frankly, from what I’d read, the ones who talked about it the most tended to come off as arrogant bullies, in discussions about anything else too. Their otherworldly lives would be filled with world-ending dangers, that no one else noticed because the rest of us were unintelligent or cowardly or otherwise worthless for being powerless…or even just civil.
No surprise then that I much preferred shuffling homemade Zener cards, and guessing at what fruit someone on the other side of the internet was thinking at me…until the otherworld dubbed me with a sword, and my spiritual life pupose became clear: arrogant bully with melodramatic otherworldly double life.
Even if some reasoned argument could be made for it: that arrogance is too often a word for frankly harmless expressions of power that aren’t the accuser’s own, or that also the word bullying can and recently has been levvied against those who recognize the way of the world as full of inequality and injustice and move to push back…
…I still wouldn’t recommend this as a method of finding one’s weapon.
Step One: Invest your emotions unwisely and conform to ill-founded societal standards of what is good and right Step Two: Sustain such a deep and sudden emotional injury from the betrayal that an identity crisis in imminent Step Three: A year and a month later—or four years later, or in between or more years later—get thrown into an intrusive memory (more like an engulfing memory) of one of the worse events your life Step Four: Quest in that memory and there’s probably going to be some thingy
I hope anyone in the accursed position of giving this a go—though it’s more like all these events have a go at you—finds a wise and kind guide instead (or a family of them), or a healing landscape, or a jetpack, or a walnut shell containing an exquisite miniature scene wrought from gold and many coloured precious stones depicting a strange and interesting temple. Or a walnut shell containing a walnut. (But that last one would make too much sense.)
By now of course I have motive to claim that there’s more to it than a calling to arrogance and bullying—as I suppose spiritual healers generally have a deeper and more complicated way of being called to the Work than “wishy-washy condescending privileged pacifist”.
I’d learned to feel violently because I’d suffered violence, oppression, and abuse. The latter doesn’t always lead to the former in everyone, so I’ve read and heard, but it’s not the way of it in my case (wishing the otherworld had given me an airship instead, or a healing potion, or a camouflaging cape.)
I found a weapon and knew it as part of me and mine. And I took it…as a sign of inherent moral failing, really. A weapon is violent by design.
I say I feel or have felt violently, and the ethereal weapon came out of that, though the quest to find the weapon somewhat redefined emotion. An ethereal weapon can also signify being able to say how about no; especially of having had to say no, of having that instinct challenged into definition. (“Challenged”…that words the process so kindly that it’s a lie.) I could wish that my soul said it with track shoes instead, but that wasn’t the way of it for me; it’s still not the way of it. While I learned to wield my weapon once I had it, in many other aspects and processes, my conscious ego could only observe the mystery.
Otherfaith mysticism mentions two aspects consistent with my own experience. The first being that these weapons could be conjured from the otherworld emotionally—to that I propose additions that ethereal weapons may be conjured imaginatively, emotionally, or philosophically.
Imaginatively, it is an exercise of active power for a mystic to manipulate their own experience in the otherworld—unless I’m being targeted and suffer the consequences of someone else’s questing, it’s not for me to say whether that’s “authentically” mystic, as opposed to shallow fantasy-fulfillment that’s easy to imagine the awesome. (I think it was Encounters with the Soul by Barbara Hannah, one of the first apprentices of Carl Jung, that I read some categorization of how to tell the difference between ego imagination and more purposeful psychic work by the same mental medium—but that’s Jungian psychology.) If you can call a weapon to mind just by knowing what it is, even if you have aphantasia and too many mystical traditions emphasize visual imagination—then you’re on the way to this. My own otherworldly quests are usually very visual to me, so even my emotional-philosophical weapon is imaginative too.
Emotional processes with ethereal or surreal expression, I’ve touched up on above and will get back to. Mythic weapons I’d categorize here include Blass, an energy-sink hammer of Mircea’s anguish under which everything becomes a nail and ey wielded that in the direction of the Sundering. Nialtrois, throwing knives that stop working if they escape the Laetha Ava’s possession, doesn’t have the advantage then of corporeal daggers that don’t run out of ammo—as the Laetha Ava is reputedly exuberant about throwing Nialtroiseseses about, I’d categorize them as maybe-emotional-but-not-sure.
Philosophy encompasses all of these and carries its own qualities. Philosophy-grade ethereal weapons include Fortitude, which is the name of the sacrificial dagger of the Laetha’s Oracle. How Althaea Altair came in possession of this dagger may not be the way that I found or forged my sword or arrowhead; these weapon origin stories have not yet (at the time of this writing) been disseminated. In any case, another example may be the pistols Fürst and Fürstin, the existing information of which describes the Dierne Pallis wielding them both, but are not associated with the wielder so much as they are associated with one another. The philosophy of these pistols is that, when it comes to the consideration of any one justification, the opposite is also true.
My sword changed forms over time, though I considered them one thing by intuition, and named the final form (rightmost of the four drawn above) Heartwrench. This is another Otherfaith mystical custom that matched my own experiences: the naming of the weapon. I’d categorize Heartwrench as emotional-philosophical, and still a weapon, although…I’d found out by accident that Heartwrench generates protective bubbles when the tip is grounded, and then I learned to replicate that experience when the weapon is positioned ungroundedly. Heartwrench can also give off the occasional blast of force, so it’s more like a very elaborate wizard staff…really not so much with the hack-and-slash. The discovery and discipline of this weapon, to me, I associate very much with a personal movement between territoriality (or personal defensiveness) and personal integrity. Generally, when someone’s secure in the latter then they don’t need the former anymore, but I wouldn’t dismiss the former as immature or worthless; in my case, at least, I can’t believe anything resembling the latter could have developed without the privilege of being that immature former.
Every ethereal weapon has its own design, function, and nature—is what I’ve gathered so far. Weapons that work for any wielder, weapons that don’t work depending on the wielder, weapons that don’t work depending on the weapons, weapons aligned to a philosophy or emotion, weapons that don’t conform to the expected corporeal things that informed recognition of a weapon’s form in the first place…and when I say Heartwrench is both me and mine, I mean that I find the nature of my ethereal weapon as exactly like Casimir, sword of Casimir, and Casimir, sheathe of the sword Casimir, and fairy prince Casimir who might be both. Hashtag it me, from the Department of Redundancy Department.
The unnamed elf-shot pictured below has given me more trouble than Heartwrench. It replicates itself by randomly exploding, and communicates to me that I should kill myself because it despises me. It’s technically me and mine but it’s not exactly on my side when it comes to the problem of violence. Elf-shot at least has more prominence in the pre-Otherfaith fairy lore—but maybe that’s for a whole other entry after I’ve read resources other than Alaric Hall’s Elves in Anglo Saxon England (in which Hall argues that elf-shot is a throwaway metaphor that was never considered a literal thing, and that while the variants of the phrase may have come into popular use as “elf-stroke” or a stroke as in a blood clot in the brain being attributed to elf-shot, many maladies not yet explained by medical science back then were blamed on elves. Jaundice. Measles. Hay fever. Epilepsy. Malaria, which I didn’t know medieval Europeans could even get all the way over there in Europe. “Feeling empty and sad” that, as Hall wrote it, sounded to me like depression—also attributed to inimical elfin activity, just not archery. These and various other ailments.) Or, perhaps, after…so fae regents help me…I’ve had more experience with this weapon in particular. It’s already changing form, but I haven’t gotten around to drawing the short double-pointed metal knitting needles that are flat on three long sides—by that description, I really ought to have simply drawn it—so anyway the elf-shot’s become a series of dark iron shivs, suspiciously similar to what I’d been pulling out of my fetch’s wounds two years before I found my elf-shot. I expect in the future I might be moved to aim at my past self and shoot several times without my past self knowing it was my future self—but the simpler explanation is just my mind/psyche boggling symbols like “now we make this thing look like another thing.”
This isn’t the person I wanted to be, emerging from an identity crisis with a weapon in my hand. (It’s violent by design, as I’d mentioned, and that fact bothers me.)
“Whyyy…” I’d whined to the Clarene, “…did you build a whole otherworldly schoool around combaaat??”
What we can say for sure is that empire makes all innocence impossible.
— M. Jacqui Alexander, “Pedagogies of Crossing: Meditations on Feminism, Sexual Politics, Memory and the Sacred”
Ey’d replied, “We are the other people.” Inclusive we, as in ‘you and me, we’ (the English language doesn’t make the distinction between that and ‘not you, I meant me and someone else’, unfortunately). And the word other didn’t nudge my mind towards fae, but othering—echoes of overheard conversations from richer and smarter, more educated, people about…humanist Levinas, existentialist Kierkegaard, infuriating Derrida. Dead white dudes that refined the definition of otherness. If the Clarene knew them, and the Clarene knew such an awful lot, I believe ey would keep them in mind but remain more pragmatic: “Whatever led you to believe that life would not come down to a fight?”
I almost replied, How about n—
—oh but too integrated into thinking that phrase at all and meaning it too is, at least in my case, Heartwrench-ing.
I don’t suppose that I can retract any part of that wish that could be consequentially tethered to violence becoming relevant to perpetuate? What a dangerously thoughtless wish.
Devotional ritual in the Otherfaith may involve light (lit candle, incense embers, reading lamp), libation (tea if hosting, coffee if business, liquor if serious business—probably, I just offer whatever’s already there…and water if there’s nothing else there, which can happen), and language. Other People whose devotional rituals involve none of the aforementioned and any/all of the something else—creative works, social/community work, housework, journaling, daydreaming, what have you—if you count it, it also counts. I personally make the distinction between Expressive Prayer (litany, petition, closing) and Receptive Prayer (meaningful coincidences, altered mindstates) to include the latter in my understanding of what’s prayerful—and Interactive Prayer, for when the first two kinds aren’t as distinct; the third may also be known simply as prayer, as too may all such persnickety descriptors be left to inference by conversational context.
My practice started off with language alone, or specific words at specific times. I’d wondered about how guiding the prayerful language and time with beads—like mala, or rosaries—would add a tactile or kinaesthetic touchpoint to religious practice.
I haven’t managed to organize the existing unimprovised prayers into some unique numbered sequence, though, that could be mapped in beads.
For a spatial-tactile-kinesthetic touchpoint, lately I’ve gotten into labyrinths. While I am currently ambulatory, there is no public park or garden with a full-size labyrinth that I can walk, near where I live. Here’s a picture of a miniature one for finger-tracing, I made from air-dry terracotta clay stocked at the local franchise stationery store:
(I’m also righthanded, though I’ve read advice to trace with the non-dominant hand.)
Initially, I associated this exercise with the Clarene: As though to make it to the center were to make it to my center of personal sovereignty. The winding path may provide the time to settle into the possibility and process, to shed whatever it was from outside the labyrinth that kept one off-center. One-way walled paths are so claeric!
It could probably still work that way. The quality of presence I’ve felt lately, while prayerfully tracing the path, has been laethic.
Whatever that would mean to the matter I’ve been praying about remains a mystery, for now, that I observe and appreciate.