Mixed Metaphors, A Ramble

The following entry may contain triggering material.

Still letting percolate how to shmoosh together Fairy gold (which is traditionally and in my quests A Bad Thing) with Alchemical gold (which is supposed to be the best thing, and in the context I go well okay then.)

Mostly, though, I realized that in all my excitement about Proscenium, and stage magic, and pledge-turn-prestige cycles, and how spatial that poesy is and shmooshes well with Fairy chess…I was developing a new language for the exact same ideas that I ought to have been working on all along: proper Glamour and correct Spelling. Here’s a relevant link to introductory linguistic semiotics. I haven’t read all the way through it; I’ll get to it!

I’d been allocating some one-on-one time with every guiser I’d ever met, or at least to pace and focus my consideration for why we would be (or have been) in one another’s lives.

Cookson from Captain Foxglove’s crew told me that I’m too angry for him (Kelp Cookson) to want me to get to know him better.

So for once, I thought to work on that, because I’m so reluctant to let go of anger that tells me enough is enough after a lifetime of being some weak, kind, doormat of a person…and I still don’t feel that “not being enraged and embittered anymore” is a choice that I consciously made, with step-by-step instructions to repeat next time anger starts giving me acid reflux and a pirate’s vocabulary. But I feel much better now, and I think it’s going to last.

Next on the list to plan some quality time with is Queen Myrtha of the Wilis—who only shows up when my anger has evaporated into this unadulterated, concentrated venom that even I sometimes mistake for calm rationality.

But, the Queen’s been around several literal hells of a lot more often than Kelp “Simmer Down” Cookson…and when it’s mattered, too. But the timing’s wrong, but I should practice making things I think and want to happen actually happen instead of leaving it always up to timing, but I probably should, but I really shouldn’t, but I want to not want to…eh, she showed up in the Otherreal for the first time last December, so maybe she’s a seasonal guiser.

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An Expeditious Retreat

Rose ought to have a better introduction than this. I was in my mid-teens, mulling over gritty reboot fairy tale retellings that I could do, and she was one of them. I could have sworn that I’d seen Rose as Chelsea Hobb’s Gerda in The Snow Queen (Hallmark, 2002) but apart from the ringlets she’s given when she’s trapped in springtime, there’s not much resemblance. Which is odd, because her actual face and body keep changing whenever I meet her.

The drawing above is of the youngest-looking version of her I’d encountered, who seemed to wear a specific world all the time.

And during our most recent encounter, I was going to suggest that she leave it.

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Tuning in to my surreal fetch sometimes comes with senses, attitudes, or memories that my corporeal and sidereal fetch don’t have. Sometimes it manifests in feeling as though a guiser I’d never seen before is a very old friend. Other times, it manifests in my freezing up in the middle of doing something that I surreal-y know how to do without thinking, because I’m sidereal-y thinking about how I do it (because that part of me had never done it before.)

This time, it was an information dump.

I’d taken it as a given that the center of the red brick labyrinth is a walled garden where Rose would sit with her tea set. And I can never find the door. If she randomly wants me to join her for tea, I am randomly summoned there for tea and randomly banished. We never do anything else.

This time, I managed to walk in uninvited, and give a stern warning about someone else who might walk in uninvited; and this was my own fault, but this was how I could minimize the damage, if she would cooperate by evacuating then she’d be one less possible—

What? My corporeal-sidereal mind pulled away from myself a bit. What did we do this time? What did you do?!? This isn’t happening.

That’s an exaggeration. I didn’t answer, because I didn’t ask. I only felt moderately confused by myself.

“Nobody can find this place,” Rose said, meaning that she wasn’t leaving. I’d pointed out that the labyrinth remained open to the sky, but…she had a point. One entrance, one exit, one winding path, and I’d still manage to take a wrong turn. Rose knew this place better: the place did whatever she wanted to whoever else was unfortunate enough to wander into it. Of course she was safe, here.

Then Captain Foxglove strode in and said, “I’ll escort her.”

I might have gesticulated between us and the walls, bleating, to try to communicate that if I could find the center garden of my own volition for once, and Foxglove could do the same and they hadn’t even met, then the security wasn’t very good anymore.

On the other hand, Foxglove and Rose kept looking at each other with expressions that at least told me that they knew one another very well.

So Rose listened to Foxglove after he’d made the exact same report to her, and suggested the exact same course of action as I had—and without any argument at all Rose wrapped up her own tea set in the tablecloth and looked to the bottom of the stone bird-bath for pearls.

“There are seashells in almost any harbor we stop at,” Foxglove told her, though he’d looked terse, he’d kept his tone encouraging. Rose decided not to waste time on the pearls. She had a flower crown that she’d reached up to put on Foxglove’s head. It got there; they’d both looked so solemn about it.

I could make sense of it. Before, I thought that I’d found Rose by a slightly different form accompanying Captain Marigold, and when I’d looked in that one’s eyes she appeared empty of any mind. I wonder now if this exact moment was always going to happen, so that the shell that followed Marigold around would be ensouled by a real Rose. Maybe the shell was a sort of ghost from the future.

I’d stopped this Rose, right before she left, to look in her eyes. I couldn’t. It was like starting mirror work, and all I could see was a mirror. This Rose wasn’t empty that I could see, but all I could see when I looked at her eyes were…eyes.

Despite being sort-of around for a decade, even despite all the tea parties…this was, really, the first and only conversation-like exchange that Rose and I had ever had. I’d described her before as “too obstinately enigmatic to blog about” and maybe that is the thing: she’ll always have a labyrinth of some kind around her, maybe she is safe and content by nature, inherently inaccessible, and I had made some grave mistake in sending her out into the world. Even if she were going to bring life to Marigold’s pet ghost from the future.

Nah, Foxglove’s made the grave mistake, if that were the case, because he’d said the same thing but she listened to him.

Besides, one of Foxglove’s crew had eyes pop out of sockets at the end of accordion springs when I looked into them. Had they been coil springs, I would have guessed that mechanism were built into such a guiser-body to facilitate expressiveness in the eyes. That they were accordion springs swayed my suspicions more towards that every otherworld I quest in is potentially trolling me.

So they both left. Somehow. I didn’t catch them going over the wall, but the center garden of the red brick labyrinth has no door.

Candle Spells

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Here’s this 5000-word essay from Cantrap that traces the history of candle making; comparisons between bayberry oil, tallow, beeswax, and whale oil; and how late in candlemaking history oil-soluble dyes came in. It describes the dipping rack, to which would be tied hand-knitted cotton or flax candle-wicks, for dipping repeatedly in hand-gathered animal fats melted in a vat or cauldron.

It definitely gave me an appreciation for contemporary candle wishcraft. My housemates keep some in stock for power outages during monsoon season, whether because candles are cheaper or seem more environment-friendly than battery-hungry torches. Sometimes the candles might also be vividly colored, or made of see-through solid gel, or some crystalline metallic kind of wax, shaped in many other amusing ways than “candle-shaped”, scented like citronella (which keeps some kinds of pesky insects away) or ocean breeze (how did that even happen wait what)…most stores stock some fancy novelty varieties like these.

The glamour of candle spells comes at me from…the fact that a naked flame is more of a process than it is an object; that the candle as an object is something I can hold and move around, so this externalizes my intent and anchors it in symbolic action; maybe even an echo of the sort of children’s birthday parties in which ritual leaders traditionally set cakes on fire and then challenge the celebrant to put a stop to this devastation (as the cake belongs to the celebrant’s age-peer community. In extinguishing the flame, the celebrant displays their heroism and commitment to serve the tribe, as well as their willingness to keep silent about their personal desires or “the birthday wish.” Perhaps this privacy also encourages integrity and independence, or is otherwise a lesson or test in maturity.)

I voice my wish to the candle, and let it burn for as long as I can attend it, until it puts itself out.

The tea light pictured above is magenta-colored and rose-scented. The spiky twigs are dried cloves that I’d arranged on the candle before lighting it. Each part mentioned is associated with a notion active in this spell, as well as some I haven’t mentioned or kept in the picture.

The pictures below show the cloves sinking into melted wax, the miniature clove bonfire that formed after the wax ran out, and the charred cloves after the wick burned down.

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The last time I tried one of these things, it was with a white unscented tea light. I’d scored a minus symbol on the metal cup and wished at the flame to burn away my depression. As it burned, I could feel the misery and fogginess growing—the exact opposite effect I’d wanted. I wouldn’t say that I’d done it wrong so much as I didn’t really know what I was doing, I was just hoping.

When it came to the spell in the pictures, it felt so much less like (ha, ha?) backfire. I still haven’t figured whether candle spells work like distance-defying sympathetic magic, or whether the flame razes or unleashes and magnifies what the wax was told to symbolize, or if candle magic is better suited to area spells that can see the light or feel the warmth or smell the paraffin, or if it’s more like a communication beacon to someone otherworldly who’d just so happen to have any interest in getting something along those lines to happen.

I’d like to cast like this more often, though. I’m already imagining cocoa powder on a cinnamon-scented candle for a housewarming spell (or cinnamon powder on a chocolate-scented candle), a way to invite healing numinous dreams that might include lavender and milk scented candles burning at the same time, and I could probably figure out something to do with ocean breeze once I figure out how the manufacturers got something like that into a candle in the first place. Right now I’m going with “they employ wizards”—of course candles are magical.