Entheogen: Happy Pills 2/2

The following entry may contain triggering material.

Previously on the Codex of Poesy :

After a week, if I didn’t have too bad a reaction to the meds, I could up the dosage to a whole pill. It would take about three months for the brain cells to unshrivel from the damage of depression, and then I’ll have the energy and clarity to do what I used to be able to do. I shouldn’t expect effects right away. Three months.

The sort of proto-wishcraft I practiced at that time focused on empirical evidence of psychism, with the idea that the mind was the key. To clear the mind of the usual chatter would invite intuitions, so fellow practitioners claimed. Intuitions could tell us the number or suit of a playing card before we could see, or the thoughts and emotional states of the people around us. Willpower directed forcefully through a clear mind could move physical objects.

I could never manage any particularly consistent outside effect. Sometimes, I’d dabble in guided imagery, which would never yield any insightful result. Those quests would usually go in some nightmarish, unhelpful direction. As for within: I could clear my mind, though. I could notice and simply be with the pain, and my mind would go silent, no images would come to mind…and, it was something like peace.

This did not improve my attention span, when depression began to dull the world. This did not hold my thought process high as the structures crumbled into ruin. This did not improve my memory, in those exercises to clear the mind, I may only be now but everything else carried over pains and troubles of the past.

Myself out of meditation knew that my health was failing and I was losing my mind and I’d never meet my goals, the way everything was going. So, I started on what they gave me.

The next time I tried to sit still and clear my mind, the usual chatter would not stop.

That one thing I could do from years of regular practice, now rendered impossible by a pill the size of a rice grain.

It wasn’t so devastating. Once I decided to act to change everything, my mind, my life, my family’s habit of alternating abuse and comfortable silence, I can hardly complain about the changes.

So, I allowed my mind to create images around the chatter. My mind chatter was like that of a crowded, noisy room…like a restaurant, I thought. I saw the milky sunlight through the windows, the swatches of color of so many people’s clothes, heard the chatter and the clatter of metal utensils against porcelain. I could shift my attention to the tablecloth, and the backrest of the chair, and the noise wouldn’t go away.

I didn’t quest in a way that occupied my Surreal Fetch, back then, I would always be watching my Surreal Fetch from somewhere outside myself—another reason these quests annoyed me. This time I was embodied, I knew, seated and smoothing over cloth.

Then I saw myself approach my table, and draw a chair to sit across from me, and sit and watch me. Ey was ready to listen, and to talk.

Much as I loved biology class and the neuroscience unit, and the security it lent me in that I was doing a factually correct and right thing, it’s not what prepared me for the shift in value priority: Forget empirical evidence of telekinesis. This was our life on the line, so now this was the Work we’d do.

~

The skin over my sternum felt as though someone had rubbed mentholated ointment over it, though I was certain this wasn’t the case. When I’d looked up models of the Fetch in other traditions (Otherreal, or Sidereal) I wondered if this were some vortex of compassion activating. Incidentally, I was beginning to care again, about wilting plants and injured animals and what people anticipated or loathed.

Eating used to be like arm-wrestling with myself, the defending champion you damn well know how your mother resents your eating your life away since you were born and now she knows that job security is a lie she hates still having to feed you because she’ll never have a good life like she did as a rich kid, the challenger of but I’m going to faint and they’ll notice and fuss and blame me (which might not be unwarranted, but certainly doesn’t inspire more positive changes) and I’m shitting bloodclots from the ulcers.

If I could muster up the temerity to request therapy and psychiatric medication, I could eat. The oils around meats tasted awful to me, but fine to everyone else who knew it to be my favorite. Eggs and dairy products took on a cloying texture that I couldn’t bear. Fish was barely tolerable. My psychiatrist told me that she’d never heard of a side-effect like that.

I went vegan, and carried it on for far longer than the aversion and tastebud weirdness alone would have kept me away from real proteins. I considered the lifestyle change a result of some spiritually superior calling, which I’ve got to admit was a huge mistake.

~

I chose life. My birth family really hammered in how badly I should regret it. It surprised me that I could enjoy something at all, so maybe when I would have taken a silent satisfaction in an outfit I liked, I’d smiled. “What happened to my kid?” My mother snarked, “You’re smiling and eating and interested in fashion.”

“It’s a lot sooner than the doc said the meds would work,” my sibling said pointedly. “You’re just looking for attention.” Drama-mongering faker isn’t really sick. After our mother died, she tsked at my continuing to purchase antidepressants, saying, “I’ve spoken to friends of mine who went through depression. You only need to take meds for one year, then you’re fine, and you’ve had your year.” She’d never studied psychiatry. I’d doubted that she’d even taken a proper survey of depressed friends, plural, it was probably just the one whose personal experience she’d consider the most convenient to impose. “I respect what you’ve gone through,” she lied, “But you were a bitch. You’re not allowed to get depressed or eating disordered again. I know I’m not allowed to say this, but your not-eating thing was a choice.”

~

I’d described to my therapist long ago what the mind fog felt like, like white mold growing on the inside of my skull so I could only find the fuzzy outlines of my thoughts. She suggested, knowing what an iron-cast meditative practice I had, visualizing a way to make that mold go away. I’d made a metaphor out of my experience, couldn’t I make an experience out of that same metaphor? No. No, I could not. It was neurological, biochemical, not a matter for the quests. I’ve read that some people find half an hour of meditation effective in doing away with what they describe as brain fog, and I envy them.

I ran away from home to home and to almost homelessness. I had a roof, at least, and walls, but could only afford to eat so little that my fingernails began to splinter as they grew from the quick. The brain fog came back. I could have a whole meal for slightly cheaper than a single antidepressant pill, and ought to have the meal instead, if the brain fog was from malnourishment rather than depression. It was that sort of way of working within financial limitations. The fog felt familiar as depression, so I took the meds on an empty stomach. I needed a clear mind to work.

Besides, a fusion deity of Hela and the Morrigan was wandering around my room, and I was beginning to get the sense of what She really meant. I named her Lady Hawthorne.

Nausea had always been a side effect, but this time it was surprisingly incapacitating. It’s amazing how nauseous a body can get without vomiting even stomach acid, and by “amazing” I mean “torture” and I can’t brag about it as a feat, really, it’s more like a betrayal: How could my corporeal fetch do this to me. Why would my corporeal fetch do this to us. I wanted to die. Once it passed, I decided against taking the other half of the pill when I was supposed to, and I still wanted to die, but at least I wasn’t nauseated.

Before it passed, I sat on the floor and leaned into the corner, trying to breathe as slowly as I could without fainting, because inside movements made the nausea wane, which meant it would wax full right in a trice. I was trying to keep the nausea steady until it flowed away, like trying to find a part of a river that flowed without ripples.

I’d been reading about the Ophelia, a modern god of rivers (of course: the greatest civilizations in human history formed around a river or two), time, death, and depression. Depression had taken on a broader definition to me: the cold and hollow exhaustion of anxiety, the eroding attention and memory, the restless slumbering.

The suicidal ideations, that’s what Lady Hawthorne attended to. The Morrigan aspect of this fusion god represented the battle, the aspect of Hela (from Proto-Germanic *haljo “the underworld” … Literally “concealed place” compare Old Norse hellir “cave, cavern”, from Proto-Indo-European *kel- “to cover, conceal”) represents the hidden nature of this particular kind of battle.

When I thought about the Ophelia as a god of depression, this included the recovery, no matter how nauseating. Time and death, too, it occurred to me had life as an integral part, at least the way my nascent headcanon of the Ophelia claimed. Should I die of natural disaster, injury, illness, or age, I expect to glimpse the Ophelia in that last moment. If I kill myself, I’m the Helrrigan’s.

And if I starve to death in self-imposed poverty rather than eating disorder comorbid with obsessive compulsion (or depending on who you ask, choice)…? Eh, how many angels can fit on the head of a pin.

They were both in my room then, new gods perhaps summoned by new rituals and new ways to travel so far beyond your ken into the realm of horribly wrong. We three got through it all right. We’re still getting through it all right. All three of us, around this.

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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.

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Loose Canon: Hades and Satan, Syncretized

So, a while back I phant’sied this presence of (I intuited) a syncretism of Hela from Norse mythology and The Morrigan from Celtic mythology, which at some points go together like a turkey ham McFlurry, which is to say they don’t actually go together but there she is.

I just refer to her as Lady Hawthorn, and wonder why I didn’t get another syncretism instead, for instance, Kali and Izanami, or even somebody else entirely such as Death as a perky Goth girl from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.

I did wonder if syncretistic deities were still happening, though. In a way, I sort of got my answer:


(transcript here)

I forgot where exactly I typed up a wall of text, I might have typed it up at multiple places, about J.M. Barrie’s Neverland being misconcepted as it became popularized out of the novel that he wrote. The misconception, however, came off to me as an echo of a place or basically a fairyland in an even older story: Tir na nOg, returning to the collective consciousness by another name.

It could be a combination of coincidence and personal bias, and certainly much of the beauty and profundity of Barrie’s version is lost when Neverland is shunted to regressing into an imitation of something perhaps simpler and less challenging a description of the otherworld and what it would mean.

The point being, I waffle between trusting the collective consciousness to generate and popularize the stories that the most people need, and mistrusting the stories as lies to advance some agenda, such as sustaining the imbalance of representational power. (I haven’t gone so far as to detest fiction and storytelling completely as ungrounding and misleading and untrue by nature.)

In the former consideration, the old stories of Poseidon’s attempted conquest of Olympus or Hera’s being displaced by Hades’ attempts that are a new thing, could show how much more uncomfortable the collective consciousness is with mortality (than, say, natural disaster or women.)

On the other hand, I am so bored by the antagonization of death, and Lady Hawthorn and I might not be alone in this but there aren’t comparatively as many stories that show death as an inevitable and not particularly inimical presence, even adapting from mythological spheres where it (in this case, Hades) was that. So, now I can consider the damage of appropriation, and understand a little better why the flow of stories (which I’d previously considered a natural resource that belongs to everybody, even if the money attached to intellectual property has its own separate flow) ought to have dams and filters.