Beginning Mirror Work

The following entry may contain triggering material.

To share anything—performed, expressed, or explained—no matter how artfully, takes something apart from the lived experience. That dissociation remains valuable.

Here comes a thought
that might alarm me
What someone said
and how it harmed me
Something I did
that failed to be charming

Things that I said are suddenly swarming…

and it was just a thought, just a thought, just a thought, just a thought, just a thought. It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay. We can watch (we can watch) we can watch (we can watch) them go by…from here, from here, from here.

Was this Erstvale, Surreal? Whatever. It had trees on turf. I’ll call it Erstvale. Beyond the corner of my eye, unhorsed ballerinas swathed in gauze and mist keened faintly for blood. The last time I saw them, they seemed to be kicking body parts around, and chasing where the others kicked. There may have been some splattering. Now, they seemed calmer.

(“Soon,” Giselle had crooned at me, “You’ll find out. Any way that takes you as far as that is not your way at all.”

I’d replied, “When that time comes, it would be because I’ll have the luxury of rejecting allies to getting anything done at all. Kill me before that happens.”

But Giselle would rather die than harm anyone, pure and perfect Cinnabon soul that she is—I loathe her.)

Queen Myrtha stood uncharacteristically still in the clearing, and spoke with uncharacteristic legibility. She and Giselle were never too far from one another, even when they seemed so. The Queen held up an unbroken, unstained hand-mirror and silently asked what I saw.

After a moment of looking, I sighed with disappointment. It was the same thing I saw when I started mirror work, tail end of last year. It hasn’t done much since. “I see a mirror.”

YOU CAN’T SEE A MIRROR!!!!!

That sounded more like Queen Myrtha. No quotemarks to contain her speech; it’s as though the fabric of the multiverse is screaming. It comes into mind bypassing the ears. You’d be surprised what you can get used to.

“But,” I said, and pointed, “There’s one. Right there. There it is. Mirror.” If I overthink, of course, a functioning mirror never can show itself: it shows everything else that’s not a mirror. Hypothetically, then, those with vision have never seen a mirror, but only seen reflections in the theoretical object we think up to explain those reflections. We can support this hypothesis by understanding the material, weight, size, shape, texture, taste and temperature of what we may then conclude to be an object—

DESIST LICKING THE MIRROR!!!!!

I couldn’t. The forest I thought was filled with mist was really more like filled with infinitesimally small snowdrop-beads, moving in wreathes. Some things in the Surreal world do function the same way as the Corporeal, maybe because I think they should…even though I don’t want my tongue to have frozen stuck to a warlord fairy queen’s mirror.

It wasn’t a good hypothesis, anyway. A mirror is a tool that we’ve made, so we know mirrors exist, what one is, how it does, why it works. I suspect that so is Myrtha, or else this would just be embarrassing. (And this has never happened to me in the corporeal world. It’s probably not what it’s really like. One day I should go somewhere cold and get my tongue frozen stuck on something. For science.)

~

Mirrorwork takes the approach that everybody is made up of three things:

1.) What you think of yourself.
2.) What others think of you.
3.) What you think others think of you.

No reason this list should exclude “what others think you think they think of you” or “what you think others think you think they think of you” or even “what they think you think they think you think they think of you”. What they each think of themself is their bailiwick.

She raised the hem of her dress slightly and looked down at her shoes.

They couldn’t be real glass, or else she’d be hobbling towards some emergency first aid by now. Nor were they transparent. The human foot is a useful organ but is not, except to some people with highly specialized interests, particularly attractive to look at.

The shoes were mirrors. Dozens of facets caught the light.

Two mirrors on her feet. Magrat vaguely recalled something about . . . about a witch never getting caught between two mirrors, wasn’t it? Something she’d been taught, back when she’d been an ordinary person. Something. . . like . . . a witch should never stand between two mirrors because, because, because the person that walked away might not be the same person. You were spread out among the images, your whole soul was pulled out thin, and somewhere in the distant images a dark part of you would get out and come looking for you, if you weren’t very careful.

—Witches Abroad

The moment Queen Myrtha frees me from the fairyland mirror that has connived my capture, I can move onto more Intermediate Mirrorwork.

Preferably with the Dierne, instead.

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.

Sandoricum Season

The following entry may contain triggering material.

Excerpt
An excerpt from Natural History Drawings, The Complete William Farquhar Collection: Malay Peninsula (1803-1818)

Sentul / Sentul / Sandoricum koetjape

Native to Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia, the sentul is widely distributed as a backyard plant in tropical Asia. it is a semi-deciduous tree reaching up to 45 m. The fruits are large round berries that become bright yellow when ripe. These are eaten fresh or made into chutney or jam. The plant is also used in traditional medicine. Sentul, also known as kecapi, is an endangered species in Singapore.

Unlike with the durian, I don’t know a myth about this fruit off the top of my head. I do have a story, or more of an anecdote. A memory of the santol tree in my grade school campus serves as the marker for a scape I named Erstvale:

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The tree didn’t corporeally have a door at the root, the rest of this Scape is not from my grade school, and I have no idea where the pine trees on the left side came from. There should be a bamboo grove there instead.

Some of the older kids taught me to throw a basketball at the boughs to knock the fruits down. I’d been so taken up by the sheer novelty of eating fruit from a tree (instead of from a grocery) that I would never notice that it wasn’t entirely ripe. Most would be so tart that my gums went numb after the third or fourth santol, but I’d kept eating anyway. The end.

Pictures of fruit under the read more tag, because it’s currently santol season. The fruit segments are like chewing a damp, maybe half-felted cotton ball soaked in fruit juice. When they’re really ripe, the sugar seeps into the skin, so even that can be spooned out and eaten. Being slightly more tart than the fruit segments, it goes well with chili salt or soy sauce.

Continue reading

Poetry, Queen Myrtha, and Giselle

Giselle, Giselle

you’ve not stepped well

enough to excuse

those you would rescue



so comes the swarm

more harm for harm



by pain, by wrath

by maiden Mathilde

by loss, rebirth

by mother Myrtha



Justice wrought and polished keen

by talons, fangs, and Faery Queen

I haven’t written in verse in a long while. And I don’t consider the above a very good poem, whether that’s for devotionals or spellcasting. Last week I felt another bout of rage at everything from early memories of family dysfunction to capitalism. When I scribbled the poem, the rage dissipated. I’ve read some contradictory things about how to manage anger: that it worsens with repression, or that it’s performative so learning how to express anger then incites it. It’s probably going to be too contextual, whether interrupting someone’s process for the sake of a complacent and serene environment or calling something out as aggressive, oppressive, and influential to a toxic degree.

A few changes: Princess Bathilde becomes Mathilde, Giselle’s beleaguered mother Bertha becomes Myrtha. The cast comes off to me as soft around the edges, with the named characters serving as nodes of distinction. So, my headcanon that I’m applying made Queen Myrtha out as some form of Giselle’s grieving mother. The princess hunter Bathilde (that is, Bathilde is both a princess and a hunter, not a hunter of princesses) takes on some aspects of Matilda from Roald Dahl’s novel of the same name, and Matilda from The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man in the Moon Marigolds.

Canon Queen Myrtha herself (the Faery Queen) diverged into my headcanon by getting on board with causes other than the fall of the patriarchy. This, I discovered in one of those Quests during writing with touchbacks to other Quest levels that I think there should be a word for.

*

When the horde had vanished over the horizon, Giselle appeared in misty forested Erstvale to remind me that there’s more to life than curses. I’d always had very little patience for her platitudes. Something specific she said was interesting, which was really a contradiction of the personal being political. “You’re a cause to the Queen, not a person,” Giselle said. “They don’t care about your perspective or what you want to make happen. They only think they do.”

So if Queen Myrtha’s movement comes back to maul me, Giselle can laugh and say she told me so?

“Of course not,” she said, “You can try to cut me off as a weakness, but forgiving is just what I am.”

But the first thing was to wait and see if anything even actually happens, other than Guisers coming into the surreal who had previously been conceptual or wispily/flatly otherreal…although that’s been interesting, too.

Meeting the Paraspirituals

The following content and links may contain triggering material.

…radio silence since the year started, then all of a sudden, take a number and have a seat there’s such an awful lot of you!

This entry was supposed to be about how I woke up one morning and found a Faery Gold Arrowhead of Radiant Shame in the otherreal hanging over my bed in the corporeal, from a necklace that I tried to wear after but it made my chest feel clouded over because the faery gold arrowhead of radiant shame was the pendant. It radiated shame. When I figured its effects would be more difficult to keep track of unless it was on me, I knitted the laces into a glove that fit into my left hand. That way, I would always know where it was, but it wouldn’t put the whammy on me.

And then this entry was supposed to be about Marigold suddenly appearing in the grassy knoll I call Erstvale with an archery bow (Marigold had an archery bow, not the grassy knoll,) and showing me how to send a shard of the shard flying from the glove, and we argued. And I had my own interpretation of what all that was about, which was supposed to be humane and craftily written and poignant about the symbolism or something. Marigold suggested that I visualize my abusers in the field with us, and start shooting at them for practice. When I suggested scarecrows, instead, because I actually don’t like to think about my abusers or interact even with mock-ups of them, Marigold responded with a sternly-worded reminder that those scarecrows didn’t do anything to me. Frackking Fairylands.

Instead, I’m ramblogging about after the lesson, which lasted about a week in corporeal time and maybe four hours or so in Faery. I wandered from Erstvale into some random room with a clean, friendly-looking concierge desk and papers stacked on it. Two people sat behind the desk, who I knew well but never met before. One, let’s call him Vanilla, is one of the fathers of my fairy mother Vanda. He comes off as basically a very beige and distilled sort of…if the Prince Charming most twee had aged out and retired from adventuring without ever fully losing the twee. The other one was Marigold’s daughter, let’s call her Marjoram. She comes off more like the Goth girl who hates the world and always has a pen knife up her sleeve, but from what I gleaned of her story before I met her, she really aspires to be sheltered. Continue reading

Some Explaining to Do

 

When the surreal doesn’t come to me, I find assistance to let me go to it. I probably shouldn’t, in case the surreal swallows me up only when it has something worth imparting that I need to attend to and therefore must pay attention to, but I usually enjoy just being there nowadays, so I do direct some conscious effort to facilitating exploration of that world.

Audio recordings of guided meditations help me immensely, and the ones that I like best usually lead to a meadow. I’d described it before: the memory of a tree from my grade school playground, beside the lake from my mother’s friend’s summer house.

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Lately, though, I’ve felt that the tree and even the actual summer house being there made it feel too crowded.

So, I walked around looking for another meadow.

Where I started from used my memory, and so beside my mother’s friend’s summer house was a dirt path that sloped upwards.

There was never a stairway.

Well, now there was, and I didn’t put it there. Not consciously, anyway. The steps were cut from something like sandstone, and built into the coarse wall of a cliff by the ocean. Wasn’t I in the mountains? Wasn’t that ocean and sandy shore, a lake with clay banks just a few moments ago? Weren’t the slopes gentle, not these tide-crumbled bluffs?

Those sudden and surprising changes could be interesting.

And then they wouldn’t be, because as I ascended the steps, I sensed a movement behind me, and from a cave in the cliff emerged a tall, cloaked figure.

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It was a very tall cloaked figure, and the cloak was black unlike in my drawing.

It blasted something out at me, a sort of flame I guess, which I turtled myself up against with Heartwrench (my sword that makes protective bubble-shields when the point gets stuck into the ground.)

It didn’t insist upon defending its territory. It just straightened up and ambled on past me and the stairway, all fifteen feet of it.

I followed the stairway up to a meadow, where a sort of round clearing had been sort of paved by polished panels of some light wood. I seemed to have walked in on some sort of meeting…

That was a few days ago. Today, I returned and the clearing was once more uncrowded except for Foxglove. For some reason, I had a parasol and was dressed in some Edwardian-era gown.

PIC_1793 The tall cloaked figure was there, too, and it seemed humanoid-shaped but I can’t remember if it was just wearing a very plain masque.

So, I asked Foxglove, “Do you know what that is?”

Foxglove only gave a slight knowing smile, a slight affirmative nod. He continued to watch the fifteen-foot-tall cloak pass by the meadow, I guess in the same way that corporeal-world people sometimes stop to watch somebody busking.

I watched with him, except that I considered this sight much, much stranger than busking. “So, what is that thing?”

Foxglove did answer, but I didn’t understand the syllables. I tried to get him to repeat himself, but he wouldn’t.

I nagged, “Why don’t you want to tell me what it is?”

“Because you’re too bloody cerebral! It doesn’t translate.”

So, that got me thinking about the process that I use to understand and communicate with characters in the surreal world.

In my mind’s eye, an image simply comes to me: Foxglove’s mess of wavy black hair, the angles of his eyes, his uncommonly pointed chin, and a ghastly complexion that’s white as paper.

The same isn’t necessarily true for voices and the content communicated. They usually feel more like ideas transmitted first, accompanied by some expression that I can witness. So, if instead of writing: “Because you’re too bloody cerebral. It doesn’t translate.” I wrote: “You rely on logic far too much. You wouldn’t understand something like this.” Or, “You’re waaay too heady. I couldn’t explain.” It wouldn’t necessarily be inaccurate, because I didn’t hear any actual words. I only caught at ideas.

Somehow, though, the general idea has a cadence and quality that I tried to capture using the sentence fragment, the use of “bloody” as intensive rather than adjective, the neutral observation phrasing of “It doesn’t translate” over “You wouldn’t understand; I couldn’t explain.”

When he spoke the syllables that I could not understand, I could see his mouth moving and sense some ideas being transmitted, but it was all a garble. It was a garble, though, that I could hear with my mind’s ears. I’d wanted Foxglove to repeat himself so that I could catch the exact pattern of consonants and vowels that I’d heard as the garble, so perhaps the explanation of this tall cloaked creature’s habits, motives, uniqueness and so on–all that could be understood, but the word for the creature itself would be otherworldly (or should I say “other-wordy”?)

Apparently, it doesn’t work that way.

A rare couple of times, the words did just come to me. One bad day in the corporeal world had people calling me all sorts of names that I didn’t give myself, and I went into the surreal and took it out on Foxglove, confronting him with, “You’re the part of my psyche that’s out to turn me into an immutable heterosexual and then convert me to monotheism, aren’t you. Who I am now is getting crushed to death by cultural pressure, and you’re the harbinger of a future version of me who would spit on my own grave but nicely and then project so much unnecessary suffering on anyone who seems to be like I am now.”

His, “No,” was a concerned murmur, followed by another that was personally amused but recognized and respected what an awful day I’d had. “No.” But I’d heard the words first.

Another time, I made a momentarily bad decision for the wrong reasons, and Foxglove called out my name in a panic. Not the idea of, “Alert, you!” Or, “Radiating sudden emotional reaction!” But my offline name that my mother gave me, the one that goes on my birth certificate, which I’d actually never told Foxglove and didn’t think he’d use if he knew because I don’t identify with that name.

Most of the time, though, I do get the sense that I’m mostly missing out on stuff that doesn’t translate.

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