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.

Dreaming and Tarot

The cards shown above come from the Shadowscapes deck, and the spread is a favorite of mine for dream interpretations. Here’s a link to the original spread from Aeclectic, although I modified it a bit and call it “the Red King’s Crown”.

1. (Center) Signifies the Querent. Eight of Cups.
2. (Crossing) The crux of the issue. Seven of Pentacles.
3. (Top) Themes to consider. Eight of Pentacles.
4. (Upper left) Symbols from the dream. Four of Pentacles.
5. (Upper right) Symbols from reality. Four of Cups.
6. (Lower left) Why the dream doesn’t wake up. The Hermit.
7. (Lower right) Why reality doesn’t sleep and dream. The Wheel of Fortune.
8. (Bottom) Future, culmination. Ace of Wands.

09 April 2016. I dreamed of being in a computer laboratory where all the work stations had boxy beige monitors from the mid-1990s. It felt like a grimy, cluttered place and someone out the corner of my eye kept muttering out loud to no one in particular how everything I was doing was going exactly according to their plan. This creeped me out, so I went back to this apartment I don’t live in in waking life, and Miasma was there in a black trenchcoat and lying facedown on a giant mattress. We kept giving each other the silent treatment.

I like that this reading feels like it actually says something meaningful. For a long while recently, any spread I laid out would feel like a number of random cards had been randomized in a shuffle and then randomly drawn.

One of my beliefs in how the tarot works does go that way: The trouble with personal reasoning is that it develops trends and regularities. When one gets stuck in a thought pattern or a life pattern, then something random can get someone unstuck. Specifically, the ideas introduced by some system of divination, which itself can rely on external patterns that don’t reasonably apply. Reasoning can form a trap.

How regularly I read, and the associations that I’ve developed by reading each card, might have made a regularity of a random thing like a deck of cards. Still, I conjecture that the shuffle keeps things fresh.

Another one of my beliefs in how the tarot works developed after a Quest to some vague idea of a tarot or oracular intelligence. She was one of the first guisers I’d met, before I’d even taken to calling these people ‘guisers’. I named her Lavender. After about two years of sharing and working within that liminal space, Lavender vanished with Eddy and all the furniture in my astral home. I can guess at, but can’t be entirely sure of, what happened there. And I have no clue at all about Lavender’s history or nature, apart from that we could interact in the otherreal and surreal, and that Lavender had some association with this tarot deck.

I still read this same deck after Lavender left. It still operated the way a tarot deck would, but without Lavender, it would kind of bother me that I didn’t know how. I could default to thematic apperception, subconscious knowledge coming to the consciousness as intuition, or the Weirdly ordered universe doing that weird thing where everything is perfectly ordered and therefore meaningful. That third option which I outright reject because it doesn’t validate my pessimistic and cynical worldview.

Onwards, regardless, to the reading pictured above. The querent’s significator denotes an inner emotional questing, which matches up with a spread for dream interpretation. The crux of the issue appears to be a frustrated fruition of something. Themes I should consider would be the ordinariness, or stability, of daily corporeal life, represented by the Eight of Pentacles.

Symbols from the dream represented by the Four of Pentacles could indicate the sort of expeditious retreat from whoever was in the dream computer lab and verbally holding me to my own nature, just because it would affect the speaker positively (and I neither intended nor consented to that.) It could also indicate the “silent treatment” that Dream Miasma and I were giving each other, when Miasma was literally not doing anything in the dream, and I had felt that same sort of contemptuous repression.

This becomes a symbol of reality, the Four of Cups, in how the tendency to compress ends up draining more stamina than it should (by all reason) save.

The “dream won’t wake up” (whatever that means) because, well, the way the Hermit mirrors the dragon hoarding the coins, it’s a dream that’s already going to be as awake as it’s going to get. And, “reality won’t fall asleep” (whatever that means) because it isn’t the, umm, metaphysical season for the waking and dreaming worlds to cross over each other?

In a spread so locked into ordinariness, regularity, and inwardly-bound movements, the card that represents the outcome is a welcome one. The Ace of Wands represents to me some burst of inspiration, some way out of the rut.

Compass Rose (tarot spread and reading)

EDIT 2017-02-11: Oy, stop reading and re-reading this years-old entry! I write other way more interesting stuff too now that I’m not so fucking emo. And literally ANY other spread in my cartomancy tag worked better, which is why I use those other spreads way more often instead of this one. Go look those up instead, go on, shoo! Or go to Aeclectic!

Seriously the amount of traffic I get to this specific post is bizarre, and even kind of hurts my feelings. Because I blog way more articulately about so many other topics, too, you know! 😦 Look, Jungian psychology! Look, Arthurian Alchemy from a postcolonial standpoint! Do you like mudkipz? GET OUTTA HERE.


Lavender (the personification associated with my Shadowscapes tarot deck,) eloped with Eddy (who’d been a sort of dream guardian.) This was a long time ago, but I haven’t really felt like adjusting my reading style since then. This is the first deck that I’ve truly connected with, had truly intuitive readings with, and it was probably because of that first time I opened it up for a reading…I lowered the inhibitions of my imagination and thought of some consolidated space of all calculated information, and I saw a floating island like a cluster of amethyst crystals, floating over an ocean at sunset. Lavender coalesced later, but I think that she’s from there.

When I’ve taken this deck up again, though, it seems that something got in there, because the deck just feels heavy and grouchy most of the time. When I was feeling particularly anxious last night over professional duties that I’ve been failing, I dusted my deck off, shuffled, and drew The Devil.

Tonight, I thought that I’d give myself a proper reading, like I used to but with my uninspired but reliable beginner deck (Rider-Waite Smith.)

I think that something else came into my Shadowscapes one, and I’ve gotten a feel and method for which cards I should pick, but I didn’t have a spread in my foggy mind until this new one came to…from what I would like to believe were the Otherfaith deities because there was such a strong “compass rose” vibe from it.

As a reading, though, it came off to me quite all over the place.


Clockwise from topmost card, then center:

1. Clarene : 9 of Swords, reversed
2. Darren : 3 of Pentacles
3. Dierne  : 9 of Wands
4. Laetha-Dierne? : 3 of Swords
5. Laetha  : Temperance
6. Laethelia : 10 of Wands
7. Ophelia : Judgment
8. Ophelene : 2 of Swords
9. Center : The Devil
10. Cross : 4 of Wands

(Apologies to the Other People if I got the elemental-directional correspondents wrong. My mind has ingrains of quarter-calling.)

My long interpretation and oversharing rambles (about addictions, disorders, and supernatural suspicions) under the cut.

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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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