Ten Thousand Spoons When All You Need Is A Knife

The following entry may contain triggering material.

I thought I’d been here before, here being the meadow just within the Gates of the West. It was an overcast day, and I wondered if some sympathetic fallacy would at least spare those from being sung out the door under moderately sunny skies, by chirruping tiny birdies. The Spider Lady’s eyes were like eight dark glass marbles of varying sizes pressed into dough, over a beard split by the make—and stirred by the movement—of eir fanged mouth. Eir limbs appeared human: knees were human elbows, feet were human hands. Eir elbows, too, were human elbows, four of these human arms ending in human hands that—

—cast the razor net.

My beloved became a collection of net-hole shaped pieces as the threads fell through him, though it can’t have been heavier than a cobweb. I suppose the physics of the otherworld, the metaphysics, are largely signifiers. I thought I’d been here before, although hadn’t, I thought I’d watched this happen once or twice before—not to someone I knew who blessed the air with every exhale, who would stop my chest from aching just by consenting to my holding him in my arms. Of course this was “different”, an “exceptional case”, of course: I was upset.

Pieces of him fell bloodlessly, though, which my imagined memory compared to the others who’d burst—tellingly.

Cobb reeled in eir net in the moment it took for me to throw myself onto his body parts. They sunk into the ground, and I turned around up to cry to the Clarene, bring him back, heal him, there wasn’t a drop or sliver of the vile stuff so how could you—

The Clarene looked on with human eyes, set in a darkly beautiful human face, under though mostly in front of a magnificent frizz of human hair, anything other than anthropic or able-typical of her body swathed in a gown made of celestial eclipses. When she spoke, her tone was blunt as a lightningbolt. “What will you pledge in exchange?”

Nothing! I’d answered, because I had nothing suitable for pledging, which itself is unsuitable for pledging. I lose my mind fairly frequently, so I might not have had it with me. Despite my crying over somebody else getting hurt, I was sure I was heartless. I couldn’t pledge any service with a lifetime of learning that I’m useless. Mostly, though: Do it, or don’t do it! But you know what’s right!

If that’s call to close the gate against me, so be it. Even in my despair and desperation, I trust the Clarene’s judgment.

The Clarene melted away—into a more godly-cosmic form, as I can only imagine one does when one is a god—or summoned away maybe? I don’t know.

My beloved resurfaced from the earth, whole and sleeping.

Before I could thank the gods, though, the Spider tsked and threw the net again. I heaved his body away at the threat of eir movement, too slowly: a thread caught on his left forearm, and the hand fell away in chunks. Those didn’t sink into the earth this time.

“Cobb!” I shouted eir name, or at least what I called em. “What the Hell?!?”

The Spider’s marble eyes betrayed no emotion, no reason. I held my beloved tightly—his back to my chest, like I learned in swimming class in the human world, to rescue someone who doesn’t know how to swim—and found Heartwrench’s hilt had appeared, between my hand and his chest. I’m not supposed to still have this.

In any case, the Spider had reeled in the net and made to throw again. Of course Heartwrench’s blade was out, too, and if I only thought through the sword enough then—

—there. Like a bubble of glass, or like an air bubble in water, the rind of a sphere appeared around us. With my free hand, I tugged at his jeans, to try to get his feet inside the sphere. Heartwrench’s spheres are only permeable to those and whom I treasure. Usually. A knowledge dusked on me then: Heartwrench’s sphere couldn’t stop Cobb’s web.

I suppose the physics of the otherworld, the metaphysics, are largely signifiers. Heartwrench makes bubble-shields…and most of the bubbles I’ve taken as a reference, the ones from the human world, those can float. Heartwrench and I had never done that before. Usually, though, if I only think through the sword enough then—

We floated up, and away. Cobb didn’t even look up to watch us go.

~

Even in the otherworlds, my emotional metabolism is too slow. I was still crying in despair when really, I should have been relieved. I didn’t know where we were headed, on what currents we coasted, through the overcast day into clear late afternoon. I caught sight of a dome in the sky, the average size thereabouts of an airport near a capital city, stained glass in no particular pattern, something like stairs sort of notched around it coming from and back around a single wide balcony.

Princess Irene waved us through the balcony opening and into the dome. A description: anthropic, except for the butterfly wings; about as tan as I am, but with slantier features (more refined); hair that could be described as a pixie cut; and wearing something between a toga and a Regency-era gown made out of gauzy veils, so a simple cut and line, but as many hues in the layers as there were in the dome.

Heartwrench and I dissolved the protective floaty sphere over a divan, where I laid his body. Maybe I shouldn’t have been relieved: the color was draining from his body, his hair, and even his clothes.

“He’s not going to die,” I said, although I didn’t know it until I said it, and then I spontaneously knew a bit more: “He won’t wake up, either. It’s not really sleep, it’s…a curse, you know, like in modern versions of the fairy tales he…”…needs somebody who loves him truly to kiss him and wake him up. I sighed. “We’ve got to summon his husband.”

Irene shrugged as if to say, “If you’ve got to, you’ve got to.” Then she wandered back to the balcony.

I might’ve been misled about high fantasy adventures. In the ones I’d read, usually, everybody rushes to help the hero and they fret anxiously until it’s done and okay (especially hospitable bystanders.)

In my experience with the otherworlds, if you know enough about somebody—who’s subject to the metaphysics of that world, anyway—and you find a space that has the potential for that somebody to be there, and you project your own expectation onto it…then they’re there. That’s what I call summoning.

Sometimes you don’t know them well enough. Sometimes there’s no potential to be intuited. Sometimes we don’t know how to project that expectation. Sometimes, I’m sure, they just don’t want to be there. So then they won’t be there.

The husband strode through, too swiftly and determinedly for me to want to slow this with more description—I tried to say how glad I was that he’d come over, but he glanced at the stump of our beloved’s left arm and snapped at me, “Haven’t you done enough?”

I backed away and went over to the balcony.

Epilogue

I shouldn’t still have this, I thought to Heartwrench, and at the corner of the balcony stood the one who was supposed to have it. She was a warrior princess, anthropic, with a quick smile, armored and caped like the Ophelene, but white—for that moment. The next moment—even before I could say hi or how are you doing here—she began to dissolve, starting from the head, into silvery glitter that fell upwards and vanished. A single orange-red, translucent stone appeared, buoyed up in the last curtain of glitter.

I took it and held it into Heartwrench’s hilt until silvery thorns grew around to hold the stone, because that seemed to be the thing to do. From Spenser’s Faerie Queene (Book II, Cant X…okay, the real source material is Shakespeare’s King Lear) I’d called the princess Cordelia—though perhaps she was really Carnelian, some new Crystal Gem from Steven Universe.

So anyway, that was odd.

The Proscenium

The proscenium is a category I gave to a Scape in the Surreal, also to the process of creating it. It’s one of the turnkey concept-methods between the receptive liminal activity—receptivity?—and active liminal…activity. The preceding sentence is why I don’t like dualism, by the way, it gets everywhere into everything when the concept I’m trying to get at is really just one (third?) thing with differing things in the thing.

The library I call my “third chamber” originated as a visualization exercise called the Memory Palace, or the method of loci. As I recall, it’s ancient Roman, but I can’t recall when it became a thing and who authored what specific information about it. As I understand, concepts should become easier to remember if symbolized by an object that occupies spacetime, in the imaginary sense. While I could imagine this place that I’ve never been to, I couldn’t attach specific ideas. I ought to have been able to attach a grocery list to the banister, for instance. Instead, while I could see the banister clearly, I couldn’t help but think there was—because my mind’s eye could see, because my fetch-heart knew—this hoary old man with an eyepatch named Odin (the man’s name, not the eyepatch’s) rattling his cane impatiently against the bars and referring to me as ‘sonny’.

So, that’s one possible example of how something mundanely imaginary can overlap with spiritual significance. I could understand, at least I anxiously anticipate, the embarrassment of interacting with a symbol of my oedipal issues as though they were a cosmic power personified. I could also understand the frustration of hearing something, “Oh, you’re Jung’s Wise Old Man archetype!” over and over again by mortals who want to claim so much is just in their heads that it almost becomes a humblebrag—having so much more in yer noggin’ than most other people, eh?

However an individual decides—or feels is the best way—to interpret it, though, is probably the right way. Even if that inclination towards the psychic-like-psyche or psychic-like-psi-phenomena changes during the process, as the individual gains experience.

I liked that it was a round room. Sometimes, it would develop corners. Rather than wonder what the change in architecture symbolized, what self-work I ought to do so that my imaginary room would be round again the next time I glimpse it…I would make an effortful visualization of the room being round again. That would work well enough. It wasn’t so effortful to get it there in the first place, though, so I wouldn’t say that the mental effort alone makes it -real in the Surreal.

My Proscenium appears to operate on the wishcraft of a fiction. Once, two regular residents of that room vanished with all the furnishings. I re-established the third chamber as it used to be, but I still believe that happened. Am I deluding myself that the third chamber is still fully furnished? It feels awkward, but it doesn’t feel wrong.

I have never attempted to domesticate the landscape of Erstvale like this. I control my fetch when I quest. I wield Eidems like Heartwrench and the something Of Doom (with the pointy bit). We all have stories, and inaudible names I know, and some kind of vibrance. That’s what I experience, and whether I decide it’s in my head or some otherworldly journey, it helps to keep that possible.

~

It would feel wrong for me to summon those two residents back to the third chamber. I thought I could deliberately visualize a ghost-guardian person in Erstvale, the same way I rounded the walls of the third chamber…and, she simply wouldn’t take. I decided not to make the effort anymore, and a year or so later had an unsettling dream about her being melted (something alive or at least moving within the slurry of what used to be form.)

I write stories. I shape my mind for them: plot, aesthetic, voice and style. I let images form in my mind, emotional beats, manifesting potentials like a lucid dream (or, when writer’s block comes around, like a nonlucid dream or dreamless sleep. Is it a mineral deficiency, or do the muses leave me? Whatever.) It’s so common to speculate on the psychology of creators—while that is not the only literary analysis approach that exists, I took for granted that that would keep them safely contained.

But then Captain Marigold fired the cannons through the walls of our realities, so if I thought I made her up (which I shouldn’t have been able to—poor ghost-guardian of Erstvale,) she’s fairly self-made now.

That’s part of the Proscenium process, too: metaphorical thespians, characters, scripts and improvisation, rehearsal and orchestra, backdrops and backstage, costumes and makeup and lighting and masks. None of it strictly real; some level of it always true. Detached, we know it for what it is. Immersed, we know it for what it is.

Foxglove and Stitches

The following entry may contain triggering material.

In the corporeal world, I attended Catholic mass. It was at a smaller church, more like a giant gazebo. I sat at the periphery, with the lattice-wall at my back. The homily was about a pet parrot of a priest’s friend. The parrot had been trained to say a specific prayer depending on which claw someone pulled. When the priest wondered aloud which prayer the parrot would say if they pulled both claws, (I think it went) the parrot responded: “I’d fall without anything to perch on, you dolt.”

The point was that even a parrot can pray. Human churchgoing Catholics should pray with meaning in their hearts, and with a mind to community and humility rather than bargaining with a cosmic God for selfish purposes. The Paternoster goes “give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us” and “thy will be done” not me and mine.

I want to say that Catholicism is complex, not inconsistent or contradictory, because so is life and the universe and everything. Still, it strikes me as suspiciously convenient to couch attractive and advantageous offers in terms of this religion—and then that anyone can cut down what they don’t like, also in the terms of this religion. Whether someone has the real goodness of the One True God in their heart and live the One Truly Proper Way, or if someone’s being led astray by the Adversary, becomes most obviously (to me, anyway) a matter of “yuh-huh” and “nuh-uh” back and forth into infinity about every little thing and big thing.

Such conduct is not unique to Catholicism, of course, but while the homily set up some no-nonsense structures (say what you mean, mean what you say, and have a care!) I kind of flinch inwardly at external attempts to fiddle with internals, because some days I don’t even know if I’m really myself or if I’m just a collage of what people have done to me. A break from that would be nice. Conforming to normalcy and the concept of a United Front have only ever been used to shut me up about things that were killing me (I exaggerate, of course—eating disorders and suicide don’t count as real death, as my family kept implying, it’s just a rude inconvenience by attention-seeking brats) and that sort of abuse has always been justified in terms of this religion. That might not have been what this priest meant to reinforce, but I don’t think it’s in me to be more than a cultural Catholic. Hey, culture is a lot—It's why we're the only country in the world where divorce isn't legal, we technically have Straight Pride Parades that shame even straight people, and atheists get put in jail (well, that one protest cosplayer, who in my opinion was out of line, no accounting for style.)

If I could decide, I should pull a Joan of Arc and protest against the cultural effects based on guidance from living half in Christian otherworlds, not play to cultural and bureaucratic stigma while half living in fairyland.

But it’s time I mentioned fairy pirate captain Foxglove, who stood outside the lattice looking out, as everyone else in the gazebo-church began singing Don Moen’s “Two Hands, One Heart”: “Two hands, one heart / One life to offer You / Two hands, one heart / That’s what I give to You…”

“I don’t like this song!” Foxglove exclaimed, raising both his arms (both starting from the shoulders, one ended in a hand and the other in a hook prosthetic.)

*

He probably has a point, but that doesn’t mean he’s not also melodramatic, and I hate dismissing anything as “just drama” because I have had some very real suffering treated that way, and feel as though that horrid phrase should never ever be possible to pronounce or spell. Then some abusive corporeal offline people I used to know really tempt me to say it, and the internal fracturing of my principles get me rocking back and forth while humming the theme from Galavant to soothe the turmoil. And after I’m soothed, I still don’t know right thing to do.

I left Foxglove out of this entry. I never know what’s going to be a Significant Otherworldly Exploration Discovery Event Development and what’s just zany and goes nowhere. He was there, around that same time, but all sighs and “We Shan’t Meet Again Because You Need Me No Longer, Yet I Remain Always In Your Heart…”

And I was like, “Yeah, right…”

Because I don’t want to put out there that I don’t believe it if someone says we’re over and done with.

But after that I wandered into Quartermaster Camshaft’s cabin and found Camshaft in pieces, and Foxglove shook my shoulders and shouted a lot at me to, “Get it together!”

But after that I lay in bleak and speechless conviction of my uselessness in a probably godless world anyway, and Foxglove kept prodding my head with a finger and saying that the high seas, at least, were his if they were anyone’s, and if I went on some paracosmic adventure right now then real-life Neo-Imperial China would quit the shenanigans in international waters.

“Stop giving me delusions of grandeur,” I’d muttered.

“At least take a shower,” he’d replied, with another prod. (By complete coincidence and not because he told me to while prodding my head, I pushed myself up and ambled over to the shower.)

But after that he stood outside church during mass and criticized the choir’s song selection. He doesn’t even usually go to church with me in what I call the otherreal. He doesn’t even have a corporeal human body, let alone a consistent disability to complain pointedly about. He is such a drrgrrargh!

***

Last night I felt a hollow pain in my chest. It’s a cliché for reasons of being a common human experience (probably? I’d say…) but clichés are bad for reasons. What if it’s only a common human experience because people who haven’t experienced it just keep saying the phrase, so people start thinking in that phrase, and use it upon feeling something “close enough” or to elicit an expression of empathy from whoever we say it to, so we’ve convinced ourselves that we feel it when we don’t actually or otherwise wouldn’t have? (Holy hearts, what sort of gullible and disingenuous person am I, that this would even be a pragmatic and intuitive distinction to make?)

What if the constructed associated meanings are misleading? I have felt what I describe to be a hollow pain in my chest when I tried to go vegan: It was a vitamin deficiency. I have also felt a hollow pain in my chest related to emotion. They’re both hollow pains in the chest, but they’re different hollow pains in the chest in ways I don’t have more words to explain right now.

This time, I intuited it to have some otherworldly overlap, so I went there in my mind and reached around and took the pain-thing out of my fetch’s chest.

It looked and felt like a sheep’s heart I dissected in biology class once, except the incisions came down from the big top end and met at the ventral node-tip part. They hung like a cartoon octopus’ tentacles, and flopped fleshily like flat noodles.

Well, I thought, It’s better than the black-gray goop that I usually get!

library

So, I went to my library, because it seemed the likeliest place to find a stapler, rather than Erstvale or Foxglove’s ship. I didn’t draw the furniture above because I don’t always know exactly what’s in my own sort of Surreal Save Point. One time it was zombies. My therapist thinks it Means Something. This time, there was a conference table between the door to the inside of the crescent bookshelf and the door to outside the library (as there usually is.) A chess set rested on the round table by the window in front of the mezzanine stairs, although their players had gone a long time ago. Up on the mezzanine were more bookshelves, a fireplace and armchairs, and a glass casket containing an ostentatiously ugly gown.

No staplers.

So then, I went through the crescent bookshelf door and into the poop cabin on Foxglove’s ship (that door doesn’t always lead to the same scape, but usually to the scapes that press up against the door like they’re eavesdropping). I shouldn’t be surprised that he was there, but I was, so I held up the heart and said, “I think I broke it. Have you got a stapler?”

The poop deck had maps, pencils, calligraphy brushes, sextants, astrolabes, pocket watches, Victorian keys, for some reason a weather vane and an orrery—but no stapler that I could see, and Foxglove wasn’t even looking for one. He just kicked over a trap door to another cabin and dropped through. I followed. He found a sewing needle and a bit of yellow-beige fluff in one of the caskets.

I sat on the table and waited as he got out a bit of paper card. With one hand, he began to twist the fluff into thread and I groaned. His hook had no trouble catching more fluff, and eventually the card was covered in a spool of looping thread. Eventually. Very eventually.

“I’ve got an REM cycle to catch,” I said, as he took a threader out of the casket. He shrugged and grasped the needle in his teeth. I said, “Maybe it’ll be faster if I did it—” because my fetch had two hands.

He shot me a disdainful expression and threaded the needle, then held his hook out for the heart. I hung the heart on it by an artery. He started to sew.

Having watched a pet kitten get stitches at the vet’s office after a bad fight with another cat, I did get the idea that sewing up flesh was different from sewing up fabric: each stitch is separate, so pulling one stitch wouldn’t pull the others along with it in a continuous running line.

I asked, “What does it mean if your heart feels hollow?”

Foxglove answered, “Of course it’s going to be hollow, there’s got to be room for the blood to go through.”

“That’s awfully literal!”

After swinging my legs over the edge of the table for a while, I glanced over at how Foxglove was sewing, and saw that he was embroidering long stitches so close together that they looked like hatch-shading.

“Quests were more fun when you were teaching me how to swordfight,” I remarked. “And I don’t even like combat at all.”

“Mm. Are archery lessons going well?”

“Under Marigold, it’s one of the more lenient levels of my personal Hell.”

“What did happen to Heartwrench?”

I didn’t want to tell him. I don’t even want to tell you right now. So we lapsed into a silence awkward to me, but I think Foxglove already knew because he had this smug grin all the rest of the while he continued sewing.

Eventually I got bored enough to flop down on the table and bounce my head against the wood.

Then Foxglove paused to take out his broken pocket watch, then made a face of dramatically exaggerated shock at what the unticking clock’s own face showed the time of. Then he politely left the cabin, and the heart half unsewed on the table.

I rummaged about the caskets and found a large blue stapler in one of them, and just used that on the rest of it, which was sooooo much quicker than sewing, Foxglove, you are such a troll. Then I put it back in my chest (the heart with the staples, not the stapler itself.)

And I felt better, so there.

*

I really never know what’s going to be a Significant Otherworldly Exploration Discovery Event Development and what’s just zany and goes nowhere, but this did seem like it would be an entertaining anecdote, so here it is.

Guisers: Shell Collecting

I grew up with imagination as a very mundane thing. What does a word look like when it’s spelled correctly? I imagine rather than remember. How will that piece of furniture look in the room instead of in the furniture store? Select marquee, copy, paste. I resisted applying that to my spiritual life through visual meditations because it was too easy.

When I opened up to that, I discovered that imaginative constructs and imaginative interfaces can serve as vessels for some strange things. It felt like imagination, it had the same texture, but there would be aspects that I couldn’t make up or force out. Strange things, by themselves, had always been around; I figured that the persistently nagging sense that I exuded billows of invisible ink and everybody did, or the feeling of there being a shark in the swimming pool even though all evidence was against that, were born of the same neurological quirk that got me losing sleep and cocooning in wretched anxiety for months over a typo.

Stories shape imagination. Mythologies are stories, but hypersignificated ones. Hypersignificating a typo wasn’t helpful at all, but the hypersignification of mythologies was tolerated and even encouraged in my childhood. If I decided that they’re all stories, and I get to decide what to hypersignificate, well…not exactly.

Thenea wrote about some experiences with mythological figures that left shells of themselves for spiritworkers to experience, and proposed that fictional characters were the same with a few exceptions. In any being with sentience, one can find conflict deep within their eyes.

So I decided to go around and give all my Guisers eye examinations. ALL of them. Well, the ones in recent memory that have potential to overlap with fictionaries.

Continue reading

Vorpal Sword 3/3

swords

It doesn’t matter that my weapon is a sword. At least, it doesn’t matter in the way that I thought it would matter. I thought, “Why a rapier? My short stature wouldn’t have an advantageous reach: why not a spear? I don’t like direct stabby-slashy confrontation: why not an archery set? I don’t like combat at all: why not something defensive like an invisibility cloak, or a shield? Sure, I wanted a sword, but I wanted a katana.”

My sword does have ranged attacks. I don’t “blast” out billows combatively without my hands—my sword does that. My sword also creates protective bubbles and warps, so that’s a defensive function that doesn’t suit the symbolic form. That’s archery and shielding together, and I don’t know how or why that is.

The form that it takes, if it means anything, means something else that I haven’t figured out yet.

So, I propose a notable difference between the real world and otherworlds: form doesn’t always determine function.

I noticed that there’s a certain kind of anger that arises in me, that seems to correlate to the sword’s blade lengthening. There’s another kind of anger that correlates to the sword’s color darkening. Other times, I feel like I won’t get carried away with any sort of anger, and my sword turns into something that looks like silver or ivory. (It doesn’t turn into a flower, or anything like that.) This started on New Year’s eve, 31st of December 2012.

In mid-January of 2013, my sword took on the appearance of a gold hilt with a red gemstone: definitely not my style, but there was a rightness in that form. Or so I thought. When I descended into the surreal with the red-gold sword in hand—I was wandering the most unhappy grade school I had ever attended, and not voluntarily—I encountered what appeared to be an aggressive figure. I also identified it as an acceptable target, because (I sensed) it would continue to be aggressive and do harm without any capacity for negotiation—so, I ran it through with my red-and-gold sword. It only grew bigger, and appeared jauntier, without necessarily becoming friendly.

I snapped out of Surreality, and haven’t seen the aggressive figure again, but I figured that this was yet another example of form defying function in Fairyland. To wit, when you attack a target with the intent to damage, that target shouldn’t get healthier.

It continued to bother me that this had no name. I could think up of some way to refer to it or another, but it would always feel vague or wrong.

In September 2013, I was walking around the mall with the extended family. We passed by a hardware store, and I saw a wrench. We chatted, had dinner, and I recalled that the red jewel on the gold sword sometimes pulsed like a heart.

I named it Heartwrench, and while I recognized it when it was in my hand the next time, the form had changed to one even more cumbersome. It was a broadsword, with a central fuller groove.

Sometimes it would darken, and I would feel the cursedness of the sword being its main feature, and then it would be useful for attacking. Other times it would redden, and I would fall upon the blade and come out feeling healthier.

It remains terribly ugly and not at all the weapon I would have chosen, but it’s mine–perhaps it’s even me. I don’t need to use it, I’m even loathe to use it—but I like having it. I never thought I’d be like that.

I guess Heartwrench represents the warrior ideal, which is that it’s an innately noble and harmless thing to have a warrior’s spirit. To be a warrior does not mean just being a mass-murderer with good public relations. Rather, it’s a philosophy that adds fullness to life…I’m guessing. I haven’t quite figured any of this all out yet.

Later on, I consciously recalled this “black, red, white” psychological jargon that I’d read in Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Women Who Run with the Wolves, and “nigredo, rubedo, albedo” that my own therapist had mentioned. When I finally got around to looking up alchemy, I found some version which had four color-coded stages: black, white, yellow, and red.

The symbol for psychological alchemy was more applicable to my psyche than I’d thought, then.

Vorpal Sword 2/3

 

01 December 2012

First, for Thanksgiving dinner with the extended family, Miasma didn’t say anything that renewed my trauma or even offended me, and I didn’t spontaneously hallucinate bird-winged lizard knights standing between us just so that I could stand to be near her. (That’s another story). I mention this in order to present conditions wherein I am perfectly sane and fine, in Miasma’s presence! Unlike other times, when… well, bird-winged lizard knight, because it appears that I can’t bear to be anywhere near Miasma, otherwise. Although, it was just the one. There wasn’t, like, a flock of them.

So, this was odd that less than two weeks later, the extended family then invited both of us to a casual dinner.

The invitation wasn’t the strange part.

The dinner wasn’t the strange part.

The casualness was a bit forced, but that wasn’t the strange part.

When we all sat down, I sensed–no, more than sensed, I witnessed–a dark stormcloud that rolled and billowed around Miasma, and it extended towards me, to hover above and then around me.

At this point, I also want to clarify that I have developed some mundane ways to sense and resolve conflict. I can make a note of muscle tension, and physical pains, in my own body and interpret it as the effects of cortisol. Deep breathing, or massaging myself, can alleviate this affliction. I can hear words and interpret concepts, and then talk it out with other people with a sentence constructed like so: “When you X, I feel Y because Z.” This is supposed to break down many interpersonal communication barriers. Additionally, I can interpret my dreams as a collection of symbols for my inner state in the face of waking life conflicts, and sort it out in myself rather that outside…

This wasn’t a dream. I could interpret it as such, because it was a very strange thing to witness while awake. And, there are reasons for it not to be there: Miasma isn’t an extensive practitioner, to my knowledge as Miasma’s sibling, which isn’t much or else we wouldn’t be estranged. My psychic mentor (ex-mentor now) had taught Miasma some visualizations, so that somebody else could help him prevent my going out-of-body, and neither of them told me more than that, but that was a few years back and I doubted that he would mentor Miasma much more than that. Yet, this stormcloud behaved… very… skillfully.

PIC_1660A

Admittedly, I didn’t confront Miasma about it afterwards, because, on the social level, I very much dislike any and all interactions with that person whether so-and-so thing said was intended the way it was understood (conveniently for Miasma-on-the-offensive, it never was)—so, what more with something like this? Language actually exists. What I describe isn’t merely something that “I see that no one else sees”. If no one else sees it, then it doesn’t exist and I am at fault for being out-of-touch with reality, and I only upset myself. Those are the rules. I only play when I share my experience, so… no, I won’t, not then and there, not to that person.

Here, now, I will express this certainty: A stormcloud tried to eat me, and I believed that it came from Miasma and not from my imagination of what Miasma can throw at me, even though it very much sounds like something that I would merely imagine Miasma throwing at me, because we have issues. According to Miasma, hers are bigger than mine.

Did I mentioned that I had a sword? A sword that, when stuck in the ground, (in my mind–the sword in my mind, the ground in my mind) it grows a bubble-shield that feels far more effective than anything I ever consciously made? I could make a bubble in my mind but that never had any sort of protective effect, not until I found the sword.

Even if I wasn’t doing much more than hallucinating, then, at least I could hallucinate a solution. That would be my point, except at this point in the story, I would speak too soon. There was something about my sword-generated bubble that indicated to me that it wouldn’t hold up effectively– or wasn’t completely holding up effectively– against Miasma’s cloud. So, I visualized pulling my sword out from the ground. This diffused the shield, and I changed my strategy to something I’d read but never practiced.

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The techniques were deeply rooted in the visual, spatial, and temporal. The writer explained “psychic attacks” as a garden hose. Instead of attacking what was coming out, instead attack the extension towards you. This should turn the attack away. I tried, even though my present experience of the cloud was that it was not shaped like a garden hose. When I scanned for parts that could be considered “for extension” and not “for attack”, and attached myself to the concept of “seeking target”, and told it to “seek another” with the force of my thoughts. That simply didn’t work. The attack itself had target-seekers at its teeth.

So, I resorted to the final strategy I remembered from that tutorial—-forgetting the sword, forgetting the analysis and suggestion, and simply reaching for a billow that I felt deep in the ground beneath my feet, pulling it up—and around—and cocooning myself in it.

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Immediately, I ceased to suffer. I didn’t feel put upon by any cloud. I no longer could see any cloud, or sword, or cocoon. I still felt on edge, but that was emotional rather than intuitive. Miasma appeared to be as fine as she was on Thanksgiving. Nothing was pulling my attention to the otherworlds, and I couldn’t even see the very thing in the otherreal that seemed to be keeping me comfortably out of attunement with the otherreal (and surreal, where most of this battle took place.)

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Vorpal Sword 1/3

swords

25 August 2012

It didn’t feel like falling asleep. It really felt more like rolling over and falling off the edge of the world. This was not my usual transition into dreaming. I remember that my mind followed the feeling of motion, into a dream-body of mine as the waking world was suddenly and completely shut out. That was a little disconcerting: I had been ready for bed, but had been fully awake only a moment ago. What if this happens again while I’m walking in the middle of the road, or cooking something with real fire, or something?

I was in some room lit up everywhere by this steady red glow from the walls. I’d seen this red glow before, once, years ago, during one of the first nightmare sleep paralysis experiences where I also sort of went out of body. I never figured out exactly what it signaled, but take it as something unpleasant and out of the ordinary. The room—that appeared more like a mix of my childhood home and the apartment I had just fled—was filled with giant black beetles, swarming the walls and around a silhouette in the corner. I could make out a humanoid figure, with two horns curved upwards.

I mentioned before that I have a couple of dream weapons, the larger of which I use for larger-scale battles–a white-handled katana that I named Mercy. So, I used it now, slashing across things, building up the energy in the sword to blast out clouds of white ball-lightning… those cool stunts that usually end in a satisfactory victory and I don’t dream of those enemies again, at least, not for a long while.

For this battle, though, they wore me down. There were so many of them, the beetles, and they just kept coming, and while I could keep them at bay I noticed that my efforts were keeping them less and less bay-bound. And… I didn’t want them scuttling on my skin. I mean, eeurgh. So, I decided to fly out the window instead. The scene outside was of a peaceful night, over my childhood neighborhood. So, by then I must have been dreaming. The red-light critters didn’t follow me, it was like they were really confined to my room in the dream of my old neighborhood.

28 August 2012

Since then, I’ve dreamed of leprechauns, Spanish donuts dipped in hot chocolate, a castle of my own with sparkly violet stonework everywhere, Snow White from ABC’s TV series Once Upon A Time discussing lace lingerie with the one-eyed aunt from Pushing Daisies on a long pedestrian bridge between the fairytale land and the real world* (you could see the cities), and ballet dancing with emerald green pointe shoes. That has nothing to do with anything.

The dream that does having something to do with the previous one, was of me walking around the mall where the waking life, corporeal person that I was upset with, moved me to tears with his verbal bullying, all these months ago. In the dream, in almost exactly the same spot of that humiliating waking-life event, I found a sword stuck in the ground.

I pulled it out and just kind of decided “finders keepers.” It was almost like a rapier, long, thin, and double-bladed, with a black hilt, the bottom half of which was inlaid with gold squiggles that looked to me like narrow wreathes of flame.

29 August 2012

Seriously, though: in waking life, the only thing I really know about swordfighting is that the blunt end goes in your hand, and the pointy sharp end goes into your attacker.

So, sometime later– just now woke up from what I’m about to describe, as a matter of fact– still non-lucid, I just spontaneously dreamed of barging back into that red room with all of the beetles, and holding ready with my brand new (unnamed) sword.

This time, all the beetles (which were still there) just stopped moving. They weren’t dead, they just sort of all turned to see, but didn’t attack. And if they aren’t attacking… I don’t want to. So none of us moved for several awkward moments. I don’t know if this had anything to do with anything, but the horned figure was nowhere to be seen. Eventually, I relaxed a bit, and sort of got the impression that the beetles were waiting for my order, because they saw my new sword, or something.

But we remained at an impasse until I woke up.

Considering that this all converges towards that person who I had been so upset with, I’ve considered commanding all of the beetles to swarm and torment that corporeal waking-life person, but since I’ve fought the beetles before, and that was unpleasant, I reconsidered if I really have that much hatred. But then I figured, this was all much too well-tailored to my psyche, so I might as well do it because it would make me feel slightly better and have no ill effects on that other person really.

30 August 2012

I dreamed of that room again, this time with the horned thing present, and I called across the room to it–just out of curiosity, it wasn’t a challenge–asking if it liked my new sword. It responded by shooting giant grubs and maggots at me from its midsection. They were slow, but definitely aggressive, so even though I felt bad about killing what I essentially understood to be babies… I hacked at them and the pieces didn’t move. And the horned thing kept shooting more at me, which I just cut in half in mid-air while I ran towards him. The closer I got, the more frequently it shot, until I stabbed at the shadowy part where I hoped would be under the rib (since it was humanoid-shaped) and into the heart. Then I swung upwards, because the ribcage if it had any bones, was that frail, so that I essentially sliced the upper half in vertical half. And then it exploded. When I set the sword down in the ground, because it didn’t have a sheath, it made a bubble around me… just as a few of the beetles flew into it, because they’d been trying to fly at me, because they were all angry again. I told them that whatever I just killed, it was its own fault, because I was just trying to have a conversation.

07 September 2012

The rapier remained unnamed, and I had been feeling an aversion to using it. I haven’t needed to use it, and it is definitely more effective than my katana, perhaps because I found it in the depths of my psyche instead of forging it at a conscious, lucid, ineffective level of personal experience.

Whenever I expected it to be present, whether in a dream or in waking life or somewhere in-between, there it would be. When I forgot that I had one, it wouldn’t be anywhere. When I had it, I would also consistently feel it: the thirst of its blade, the scream of its presence, and the nigh inviolable shape of its protective bubble. That wasn’t something my katana did.

I’d been play-training with its bubbles since then, in waking life, visualizing myself sticking the sword point in the ground and seeing if I could make a blue bubble, a black bubble, a white bubble, make it spiky… It was fun, and I could actually feel protection working on another level.

For all its inspired efficiency, it bothered me that I had no name for it, and that it had no sheath. If I thought up of either, it would just feel wrong.

 

 

 

* On the 22nd of August 2014, I had deja vu for this exact dream while walking this bridge overpass from a rail transit line that I had only just discovered. Snow White wasn’t there, the aunt from Pushing Daisies wasn’t there, fairytale land wasn’t there, the ocean beneath the bridge wasn’t there, and the city was different…but, the bridge was exactly the same. It was like a two-and-and-half-minute deja vu moment.