Captain Foxglove Takes Umbrage

 Warning: The following entry may contain triggering material.

When Captain Foxglove acts out of character, I’m inclined to interpret this as reflecting a psychological node of sorts, that is breaking down due to some subconscious program of a sort gathering “error data” of a sort. So, Foxglove, usually encouraging, supportive, incisive with honesty at his worst becomes prone to verbally violent outbursts.

In this instance, however, it holds more significance to me to keep to running with the spiritualist program. I just really feel like I make more progress with believing in the experience than I do with meta-analysis.

So, Foxglove has three faces: the first I saw when I first met him, the second I saw on a quest where I caught sight of him lounging on a grassy cliff by the sea (and I sensed it was Foxglove even though he looked so different), and the third when I followed him down a flight of steel steps and he turned around when I asked to know more about him—and his face shattered, like the spaces between a perfect spiderweb only it was meant to shatter, because behind the human masque revealed pointed petals that blossomed into rows upon rows upon rows of pointed teeth.

That last bit could be another example of error data in my subconscious, though, crossing over my pirate fantasy with one of the Resident Evil genetically engineered monsters. But I told myself that I wouldn’t be going with that, at least in this entry.

Because, within the spiritualist paradigm, the thing that I figured out was that while they’re all Foxglove, he’s managed to get jealous of himself when one face gets more of my consideration than the other.

If only it could have been as simple as some evil mischief-maker stole the image of Foxglove that I knew, to impersonate him getting angry so that I would be upset or misled. Then I just have to call out the trickster and keep it real with Foxglove.

It might still turn out to be that way. The stuff of the otherworld and the otherworld itself can be so capricious.

The very night before this all happened, I did have a dream of my ex-mentor in psychism, let’s name him Mar, sat at this bar in a stable and radiated smugness about something terrible that he (Mar himself, not Foxglove) had done to me. While I was embodied in the dream, sitting somewhere across from Mar in this bar that was also a stable, I felt detached and unafraid.

Now I don’t know if my own response was because I’ve developed the strength to have my own standpoint from which I see that Mar is wrong about enough that nothing he does has the effect on me that he intends to have (because I can’t respect his point of view anymore) or if my own response was because I’ve shut down attachments and fears to the point that that I no longer panic when I ought to panic.

Part of me is convinced that this dream meant that Mar did something. This is preposterous to consider, of course, because there’s no empirical evidence for that sort of thing. Inner alchemy or practices with similar effect? Maybe. Dreamwalking and curses? I’m not so sure about those anymore.

So I bring it back to mind.

Perhaps there remains a node in my psyche that can manifest as Mar, and that’s who corrupted Captain Foxglove somehow, if that is even what the how is. That’s the way I’ll speak of it, if so, because it’s an important distinction for me to make right now between corporeal, certificate-of-life-birth possessing, social-security-number having, other-people-can-see-him-too Marr and surreal Mar.

But back to Foxglove.
 
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Another Sort of Faery Court

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Shadows, in the Jungian psychology sense of painful truths that we’d prefer to ignore but consume and corrupt our souls if we repress them, come in many forms. I guess they call for many different sorts of processes. Sometimes, it’s just a matter of making a safe space and safe time to get in a particular half-conscious state of mind where Shadow confrontation-processing can happen.

In addition to the example I linked, more recently on the 10th of September 2014, I achieved this again with confronting platitudes about my deceased abusive mother. Her voice seemed to come into my head from outside me, bypassing my ears, and echoing, “I sacrificed everything for you” “I’m not perfect” “I did the best that I knew how to do” and I wrote that down, as well as my direct responses to each of them, saying exactly why they were wrong. I seemed to get responses, so I continued this sort of conversation with whatever was generating a reply. It seemed to take form, too, at the edge of my thoughts, a dark and spiky-plated Western dragon in a cave with, I intuitively sensed, a tendency to hoard kidnapped maidens and turn them into her daughters. I named this dragon Rafflesia, to keep this floral and arboreal theme with naming my imaginary characters.

But returning to the actual notions being dealt with, when I hear the same from other people, I get similarly defensive. In what I call the blacksmything mindset, however, I could get to the heart of those harmful messages and dismantle them and dissipate them.

Other times, it’s more symbolic, such as witnessing the effect of the Shadow upon what I call the Fetch, or witnessing and interacting with a shadowy separate person (probably… I just don’t know about that last one, it’s just strange. Does it count as a Shadow of something like “my self-righteousness” when I have such a thorough conscious conviction that I’m right to have developed such an elementary thing as personal sovereignty?)

What I describe below is the most elaborate blacksmything experience I’ve had, if that’s what it even was. It did involve mulling over events that I’d prefer to forget about for their implications, but it took place in this surreal paracosm and involved characters that didn’t fit the classical image of the Jungian Shadow. This episode of manifestation of it simply dissolved, without conveying catharsis or epiphany, without even with some hint of how to progress with the process so that I can get to that point—another characteristic I attribute to blacksmything.

The hues of the “Shadows”, if that turn of phrase is even sensible, was rather different. Captain Marigold confronted me with the religious edicts utilized by my emotionally abusive family, but blacksmything would vet what part of me still believed in the feasibility and validity of such edicts that would condemn the rest of me, and I didn’t even have a single grain of that. Captain Foxglove confronted me with how my needs have violated other people’s boundaries, and that felt more like blacksmything because I believe it was wrong even as I couldn’t have done otherwise, knowing my character and the circumstances.

Neither of them brought up this one particularly sharp and many-hued shadow. No, not this one. Well, maybe something like that one. But it’s one I haven’t mentioned yet because I only have this nascent notion of it, which was why I would have thought someone below would have brought it up at some time. I mean, it’s kind of got to do with my sexuality, and as both Marigold and Foxglove showed up, who I consider my Anima and my Animus respectively, I thought that Shadow would have been their priority. But no, instead…

Well, first, I found myself in a mindscape that I’d visited before. It was a city of white marble pillars and white granite steps that lead into clear waters under clear skies. The rivers wrapped around every block of this city, like a road system.

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The tops of the stairs that led into the rivers didn’t have bollards, so I imagined some in there so Foxglove could tie his ship to it.

The plot that I imagined on that spot was that I would seek out a book in a library. Foxglove declined to come with me, so I went to explore the city on my own. I found an archway of a building and walked through it. That was in August.

In mid-September, the fantasy continued from whatever stasis had halted it, and I wanted into a courtroom. Well, it was more like a giant void with a giant statue of a giant blindfolded figure holding balancing scales. Foxglove stood on one. Marigold stood on the other. I walked through the archway onto a jut of stability that just sort of elbowed me into the void, and the double doors slammed behind me.

Except there hadn’t been doors there before, there had just been an archway leading into a void. In any case…
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My Shadow Self 2/2

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WARNING: The follow entry may contain triggering material.

Previously, on the Codex of Poesy: I wrote about psychological shadows. The notion, I call blacksmything; the billows and characters, I called umbrage. I even thought up a character to narrate the turmoil to myself between what I wanted to do that was destructive, and what I felt and was taught I should do instead—which doesn’t count, because I had to think about what this character would say and do every step of the way, this character was a conscious, deliberate dis-association unlike other characters.

And this was different from any of those.

4 March 2014

I heard screaming, but not through my ears, so I went to my library to see what was going on. My shadow was screaming in rage, swearing cosmic revenge against Auntie V for keeping me out of a job on top of being a homewrecker and encroaching on sexual boundaries when I was adolescent and volatile and needed basic consideration not to turn out so messed up…

And I replied, “Eh, this is okay. I can let that go. The effects of all those curses do certainly sound interesting, but…one thing at a time, hey?”

She flew out the library door and down the hall, still screaming.

And, for once I felt like I could be glad that I actually for once did something about what I was unhappy about: my family environment, my new family environment (what I thought it would be), my true family environment (what I thought it would be), and someone else’s family environment.

I was living alone now and could recuperate and, as I was such a burden, hopefully so could they.

In an insight that came much later, I was glad that I didn’t shoot off an angry letter to Auntie V about keeping me out of a job. Part of the turmoil was how Miasma told me that I shouldn’t complain about the violation of my sexual boundaries and the invalidation of myself as an existent subject, only because the perpetrator of the acts which conveyed those notions, Auntie V, was giving us more money than imaginable and she didn’t have to. I took the position that money didn’t matter, because emotional trauma and silencing cost so much more: eight years of my life, and the quality of life for my future. Miasma, of course, held that I’d done that to myself—which is frequently a convenient fallback for abusers and their enablers.

But if, just because I myself was (relatively) emotionally stable but financially in dire straits, I turned the tables and told Auntie V to check her economic privilege and set her bad feelings about me aside so that I could take a job opportunity provided by Auntie J.J. (her friend and my psychic mentor) that would have been quite hypocritical of me.

12 May, 2014

This was, I thought, an experience worth having. It wasn’t that I felt unworthy of food or that I needed to achieve a sense of control that fasting gave a little sense of. It was a simple fact: I had no food. I had no way to get food. So, part of me watched the rest of me for what I missed out before: the effect that starvation really had on the body. The stomach stops hurting after a while, I even think that was the first thing I taught myself to ignore, and years after I recovered from my eating disorder I still didn’t feel hunger as an ache in my stomach. I only felt it as fatigue. Now it was plummeting blood pressure, and the feeling like static electricity all over my skin, or as if I were being dissolved in acid. That hurt so much that I could only curl up and heave dry sobs, at which point I noticed my Shadow Self in the otherreal, who seemed to be standing at my bedside and saying something, baiting me somehow with something she was saying.

Because I was in the state of mind where I only notice, though, this was just something that I noticed.

I don’t remember much of what happened after that.

During the -ber months, I kept on with projects and things began to look up.

13 September 2014

Today I noticed something like my Shadow-self screaming in the surreal, again, or well I say “again” but that  last time had been months ago, and this time it sounded like a tiny and pining, plaintive cry for help.

I thought it might have been Foxglove or one of the Roses. It couldn’t have been Marigold, and Lavender didn’t ever communicate through anything that I could take and translate into sound. I asked Foxglove, and he was sure it wasn’t any of them, so I went into the Surreal to see.

I walked around the bottom of the ocean floor with Foxglove, following the crying. It sounded like a woman. “Miasma?” I guessed. I approached an underwater cave and saw my Shadow Self waiting at the bottom.

Somehow, I knew the story instantly. She’d been angry and gone to wreak havoc on the people who’d hurt us. But somebody was well-defended and wounded her enough that she would stop and seek refuge here.

“Didn’t I tell you not to go after them?” I said to my Shadow-self. Actually, I hadn’t, but she replied as if I had: that it was her nature, and our tragedy.

I can’t remember anything after that. This day had actually been pretty busy. Foxglove and Marigold put me on some sort of trial in the Surreal before this encounter, that was chock full of painful truths that I would consider the real Shadows in the Jungian sense, not just the appearance of a character being shadowy. But the trial is for another entry, probably.

3 November 2014

The wound in my back returned. Foxglove was nowhere to be found, so I would just let the substance sort of leach out. This time, however, it took form… Not of a Shadow version of myself, but something far more masculine that rose up over my back and arched over my head to look at me.

It would fade to a twinge in the morning and return at night again with a form and face and habit, but it wouldn’t say a single word.

Ten days after that last entry, I noticed that the spot at my back disappeared again, even at night. I had started back on anti-depressants for oversleeping and brain fog, not so much for the emotional state (which was, despite it all, the best it’s been in a decade) but I doubt that had anything to do with it, because the psychiatric medications hadn’t had any effect on the otherreal/surreal wound on my back before.

*

Before the March entry, my Shadow Self might have been so much mental effort to bring alive because I identified so much with it. I was wrathful and bleakly depressed. Maybe, somehow, the shift to my being merely irritated and melancholy… created or projected actual Shadow people, from who I couldn’t even process or glean any insight by talking.

So, I have no idea what they signify in regards to my mental and emotional state.

And I have no idea what they could possibly signify in regards to reality: the interface, if there is any, between my experience of the surreal/otherreal and other people’s experience of the corporeal. Did that Shadow self make, what, poltergeist activity among my abusers and their enablers? I never checked. I don’t care to.

Better out than in, I guess.

My Shadow Self 1/2

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WARNING: The follow entry may contain triggering material.

The arising of the Animus, while it had brought about a drastic internal change, wasn’t enough. Or maybe it was exactly the push needed, just not in the direction that anybody predicted. Maybe it was entirely the wrong change. Sometimes, I’m sure, I learn the wrong lesson from life.

Escaping my older sister, let’s name her Miasma, when I didn’t have a job or savings or any plan beyond “I can’t live like this anymore”…this did have its difficulties, more difficult than staying, but there was nothing for it. Miasma wouldn’t budge, and I wouldn’t endure a living death. I sought refuge with my godmother until said godmother tried to reunite us, at which point I ran off to Alpha’s place, then the estranged extended family discovered that Alpha (and I) lived in the same neighborhood. Alpha kicked me out. The extended family took me in until they found out what I was really like, at which point it was clear that I didn’t fit in (although I’d known that from the get-go,) but instead of spitting me out my uncle…began…to…chew…and basically eat my soul.

Well, I had invaded his home.

So, again without a steady job or anything saved up, I left. Well, I’d taken for granted that there were no safe spaces that I could afford. I mean literal safe spaces, as in rooms in buildings that keep out unpleasant weather and thieves. There would be bedspaces for rent, but I would never be sure of my roommates, and my only skill was writing website content, so the laptop had to be kept safe.

As it turned out, there was a boarding house down the street that rented out rooms in a bundle package with water and electricity. It cost as much as I could make freelance writing, in a good month.

The first few months were not good months. My mother’s friend who got my foot in the door for my first job, let’s name her Auntie J.J., she lent me some money to start off. She was also one of my psychic mentors and believed that everybody who makes it to her reading room is destined for her to help. Alpha and I reunited, I’d like to say reconciled, and she bought me all my meals when I’d had a bad week … until we fell out again.

I didn’t want to ask Auntie J.J. for more cash. My godmother, when we reconciled, didn’t have any to give. Alpha had thrown me what I believed to be a valid criticism that I was really only using people if I kept going back to the extended family for dinner.

Captain Foxglove vehemently disagreed with Alpha, but he isn’t real. So, I starved.

*

While I had no plan, I certainly had an appalling sense of entitlement for the standards of living that I would keep up for myself, at my godmother’s cost and those of her family, even at Miasma’s cost when there was still a possibility of reconciliation, at my godfather’s cost, at the cost of a mutual friend of Miasma’s and mine (I’d say three mutual friends, but I feel like the other two owe me therapy bills), at Alpha’s cost, at Auntie J.J.’s cost, and definitely at the cost of the extended family.

At the worst of Miasma, when we still lived together, I thought, I’d rather live out on the street. But that’s not what I did. I’d invaded other people’s homes instead, with hopes that I could build myself up enough to leave and return the favor some day, but never with a plan.

At the same time, when our mother was still alive, I’d had a messed-up hierarchy of needs and a sense of frugality that bordered on the ascetic. I’d go dutifully along to vacations in foreign places, set my opinion aside while clothes shopping, and I had a soft and springy bed to lie depressed in—but I didn’t feel worthy of the food on my plate.

So, I starved myself back when food was available. It was part inferiority complex, part hunger strike. When my family found out, they figured that it was just a matter of forcing me to eat, and not that it was being forced to do most things that set off a need to control something, that my attempt to transcend the need for food became that avenue and forcing me on that too just made it so much worse.

Still, I could cheat. I’d eat things that I cooked myself, because the effort I put into cooking made me feel like I was allowed to eat the final product. I’d eat at Miasma’s friend’s places, because they hadn’t complained about what a burden it was to raise me like my mother did. The rest of the time, every spoonful would be like a round of arm-wrestling with myself. It would be a match between the hunger that I’d taught myself not to feel, and my shame and anxiety of being attacked just for eating. The match would be tense. The side that was for my continued survival, rarely ever won.

My uncle knew this. During a lecture about how I had to get myself together and forgive Miasma because living out on the streets was not worse than living with her, because I didn’t know what it was like to starve—he stopped and backtracked, saying that maybe I did know what it was like to starve, but that I didn’t know what it was like to starve…

I understood. Starvation due to poverty wasn’t the same starvation as a hunger strike, a spiritual fast, a vanity diet, or an emotional drive towards self-destruction.

*

So, I starved this time because I couldn’t afford food, quite literally having nothing of worth on hand to offer for it; not simply feeling that I was unworthy of it, or keeping to some stop-gap effort to regain personal sovereignty.

This was when The Shadow appeared.

To Be Continued…

The Animus Effect

 

So, I met Captain Foxglove on a quest that I didn’t even know was a quest, because it was more like an admirer’s romantic fantasy than a transcendental meditation or something where you sit in your meadow and find your spirit animal or whatever.

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Some time in late November, I think it was, I was taking a shower (in the corporeal world) when the Surreal pulled me into the poop cabin of Foxglove’s ship. The sun streamed in through the windows and Foxglove was loudly declaring that it was time to fight.

For a few nights after that (because waiting for sleep is usually the time that I do my quests rather than the Surreal interrupting my waking thought process while I’m in the shower) I would dream that he and I were on deck and he was training me in swordfighting, although he used a cutlass and I a broadsword and this was all imaginary which I didn’t consider entirely conducive to learning how to do anything. I’d wake up feeling slightly anxious, which, despite the relatively mild depression that I’d fallen into hadn’t factored in months.

As the lessons went on, however, my depression had cleared up enough that I was washing dishes with some regularity, which the extended family had requested I do when they first took me in. My uncle suggested to me that I not live in the past, which before then would have genuinely enraged me because by the nature of trauma and unresolved issues, the past would be the present; but under Foxglove’s unrelated imaginary lessons, somehow, my attitude had shifted closer to, “Can do.”

Psychic Chirurgery

 

Early November, 2013

My ankles are chained to an iron weight, and I wait at a low rock at high tide. The sea foam rushes up to my chin like a quilt, like I’m being tucked in for a final sleep.

How does a body rot underwater? Does the salt preserve some parts? Does the whole body grow bloated like melting waxwork? I imagine, when my chest stops aching for air at last, that starfish and crabs will welcome this body to the ocean with a silent, “May we take your coat?” like good hosts do. And a coat of scalp will hang on a claw, and a coat of toenail will hang on a tooth, and a coat of eyelid will hang on a gull’s beak, guts on a crest of wave, muscle fibers combed by shrimp, and the rest left to the sun to iron smooth. It is cold now, but I won’t miss all these coats by then. My bones will blossom into coral.

Inspired writing doesn’t always result in flowery prose. Around August of 2014, I felt moved to begin writing things out, about three hours every day at a convenience store with seats by a sunny window, on a notepad–but they were all just vague philosophical ideas about the world.

This was a different sort of inspiration. It began with an obsessive admirer’s fantasy, which I’d picked up somehow that this was A Bad Thing, so the segue into otherreal effectiveness certainly troubled the part of me that believed in mortification as the only valid path to personal development, because the Good and Right Thing Is Never Easy or Pleasant. So, the worse I feel in any aspect, the more on-track I should be to some mysteriously divine virtue, because contentment and joy are always evils in disguise. If I ever feel a light or warmth in my heart from doing something right, then I should snuff that out, because right is a duty to the world whereas something that has such a positive personal effect on myself is by nature selfish, and spoilt the good deed irreparably to feel it.

…Wow, that is a horrible worldview. That’s the part of me that was so dominant?

I don’t know how that happened, and I don’t wonder. What I can remember is how this was undone.

Basically: Captain Foxglove is overwhelmingly charismatic. My whiteboard doodles and Photoshopping don’t do him justice. He showed that desire and fantasy is a path to the numinous, not necessarily a distraction from it.

Where was I? Ah, yes. In the corporeal world, lying in a borrowed bed, waiting for sleep, fantasizing about my own death by drowning.
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The Method of Loci

Where My Library Was Supposed To Be

In early 2013, I had sought refuge in Alpha’s home, and while I was there I tried to find a way to better manage one effect of my depression, which was memory loss. I’d recovered enough that the far more insidious “thought process loss” effect of depression had become manageable, so I directed it to supplementing my memory through the method of loci.

The method of loci as a memory tool that attaches a notion to an imagined location. This makes a notion much easier to access than if that notion were just of the mind like an ordinary thought.

The proper use of this method is more complicated than imagining a happy place, though, and… I’m not.

So, I could think up of a round-walled library with a glass dome of a ceiling to let the natural light in, with stairs and wheelchair access to a fireplace area that had cushioned armchairs, and a hidden passageway in the central bookshelf. I imagined this enough that I eventually didn’t need to try so hard: my library would always be ready for me to go into in my mind.

Attaching a grocery list to the banister, however, was more psychologically acrobatic than I could manage.


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