Wishcraft, Stagecraft, and Pepper’s Ghost

The following entry may contain triggering material.

Wishcraft looks like it goes: believe in something and it will happen—maybe do something to express that belief, like a lot of wishing superstitions. Maybe that’s enough.

I examine my belief system, though, to make sure it’s still working (and I wonder with what I’m examining it, which keeps me paralyzed in a philosophical paradox until something sudden distracts me.) I’ve found two separate processes in action: 1.) making sense out of nonsense, and 2.) making more sense out of something that makes sense.

This comes up when I cast Ogdoad glyphs based on chess pieces. I’m casting them onto whatever poetic metaphysical equivalent of a chess board there is, and I have a specific idea of their nature and purpose—but not always the rules of the game, or that this vocabulary has the correct Glamour, or that who or whatever I address would listen and understand enough to join in on reinforcing this belief system by effective response. (Linguist Ferdinand de Saussure made a better connection between speaking or parole as the chess pieces, and language or langue as whatever it takes to make those chess pieces more than decorative.)

Fairy Chess changes the rules: that the pawns can now move like kings without having the value of a king, or that every move transports a piece to a corresponding square on a parallel board, or that there’s one extra piece on nobody’s side whose move is determined by the roll of an eight-sided die and so help your pieces who can’t get out of the way fast enough.

In a way, I’ve come to recognize these more as Proscenium stuff. A chess game can be theatrical, full of errant knights, flying castles, bishops moonlighting as assassins, and pawns that can rise to power as royalty. It’s not a frequent courtesy of the game I’ve seen, that players ever give one another the satisfaction of striking down the king. When such is a mathematical certainty, there’s no point in acting it out. The loser tumbles the king, and the players shake hands on it. Of course, the loser can flip the table over in a snit, instead, but that very real act somehow cannot undo the loss never enacted: “offstage” as it is, in the rules of the game, somehow less real. (If a player flipped the table over when so many other possibilities in-game remained, that would have a different effect.)

So, I’ve come to another distinction. The one is Conjecture Proscenium, which claims all those mathematical certainties of the downfall of chess kings, and the maths, and whys, and hows, of symbolic meanings, and all in a space where it really is just a game. The other is Conjure Proscenium, which I’d touched on when defining a deliberately created Scape (although I called both concepts Proscenium, then.)

I see the same process in the way I cast glyphs in the Otherreal, which is really very much like projecting a Pepper’s Ghost.

In the sidereal or otherreal, I sometimes feel qualities of otherwise undetectable billows in the air. They don’t change meaning or quality according to what shape I’ve put them in by waving my hands about, though—I’ve tried, and maybe that way simply doesn’t work for me. I build glyphs below the stage, the back of my mind or the bottom of my heart, and then play them out on the plane I perceive. I still wonder how it works, how it doesn’t, what is it about the world that has metaphorically conducive properties? But that’s applauding the scenery. Belief moves somewhere between the players and the props.

Ogdoad2016

Advertisements

[Ether Err] Tea Time with Lilibell

The following entry may contain triggering material.

"Sampaguita in Birdcage" photo by Faemon

“Sampaguita in Birdcage” photo by Faemon

It’s been raining, and then flooding. The proprietess of the haunted mansion allowed my corporeal friend Cecilia and myself to move from the basement to right below the attic. In the afternoon, Cecilia invited me to the cafe where she was catching up on the papers she was supposed to be writing instead of the asthma diagnosis and recovery that she’d actually been doing. Because I didn’t want to wade through through the ankle-deep swamp that our old room had become to bring another rucksack full of paperback books up three flights of stairs (and because I thought that maybe my adorably effervescent presence would defuse some of that stress,) I accepted. It did excuse me from the swamp trek that afternoon, but Cecilia gruffed that she was going to have to ignore me and then continued typing on her laptop. Occasionally, she would eke out a single bubbly peal of laughter, and I would think it was my adorable powers working effervescently, but Cecilia assured me that it had been deranged laughter. Then she would drink more coffee. As I recall, she’d been on her fifth-and-a-half cup when I arrived. We discovered a third alternative spelling of Taklamakan. I may have laughed in a similar way, because I’d proofread the paper of a mutual friend from Cecilia’s class, and gotten stuck on keeping that one desert’s name consistent.

I scribbled some developments on Ogdoad, a form of wishcraft symbolism based on chess. Zugzwang could be my word for a meditative state of mind, of stillness and emptiness, by which which intuitions could develop. The protection spell for Castling kingside (or shortside) would be target-specific nullification, like a shield; Castling queenside (or longside) would be more like keeping everything out except that which would be invited. When it came to the manifestation of a creative force, expressed by Queening the Pawn, there could be some advantages to underpromotion such as Knighting a Pawn. It all depended on what I called the Weird of the board, the rules that I shared with whoever and whatever the Ogdoad pieces would affect, and this sharing would not be so much agreed-upon but subject-to (with luck and perspicacity, maybe, noticed); that was what the Weird would be. Some spaces would be more chaotic or less well-understood, more Wild, and if the rules changed or there were no rules, there Ogdoad would have a different meaning or become meaningless. I still didn’t understand en passant Pawn capture, but there must have been something there to do with approximations of liminal transferring of information…

These were a lot of rules to re-learn. To set those up as mirrors to liminal experiences would be important, to keep the meaning, but might begin to contrive the liminal experiences to suit the rules instead.

Untitled by Guillermo Tolentino

Untitled by Guillermo Tolentino (detail) photo by Faemon

An image appeared in my mind (or in what I call the Surreal) of a young girl, fine hair as white as lightning, and a lunar glow to the rest of her body softening the outline of an already softly-shaped figure. This I recognized as my headcanon of Lilibell, first formed during a read of Lilibell of Two Hearts, and she sat at a table across from what looked like C-3PO from Star Wars if redesigned by Steve Jobs in the early 2000s: a slender humanoid form cast in seamless yellow gold, with no musculature, no hair, no unnecessary protrusions in the way of nipples or genitals or ears, and maybe there were facial features but they gave me a headache to squint through all the golden surface reflections to make those out. My headcanon Aletheias tended to look like that. What appeared to be a strobe light shone on the table between them, the shadows of the room around them concealing an audience like an amphitheater.

When I brought my mind back to the cafe, the glow at the edge of the Surreal table remained in what I call the Otherreal—a glow at the edge of the corporeal cafe table that probably no one else could sense.

My thought processes had leapt to a story-shaped conclusion:

Lilibell had been something of a champion in something like a ritual-sport-game-thingummy that was somewhat like chess. Aletheia 002 had been built and programmed to calculate all the possible moves in this game, and to play each move to the best advantage. The Clarene had apparently taken some pride in raising them both to this point. Lili played A002 to a stalemate seven times in a row, and on the eighth, A002 won. As this particular string of games hadn’t been particularly fun, Lili decided to not play for an ever again.

The game grew in popularity among the star spirits who had settled in the West, and the King began to grow suspicious. This had, emphatically, absolutely nothing to do with the King’s not-unwarranted prejudice against star spirits. The King had simply grown to realize how domineering and divisive the nature of the game was at all, creating ranks and hostilities between players. Its very structure generated a desire to win out over others. This game could not be good for society. And By Complete Coincidence, the minority of society that built a subculture around the game happened to be…in proportional majority…stars.

Lilibell, in a show of support for them, took once more to the competition area even as Centries reinforced the closing of the same. This may have involved some amount of violence and noise. Lilibell made a convincing case to the gods to the contrary, and the game once more became playable by anyone who wanted to play.

Eventually everyone should be utterly flabbergasted by all the fuss.

I turned to a fresh page in my notebook and wrote a letter to this presence, I thought of as Lilibell. What I took to be the ensuing conversation didn’t bring about anything particularly revelatory. Mostly, I remember the mood shifting in her glow. To me at that moment she carried such a charming, easy company. She could technically be snarky and rude, I was sure, inasmuch as that could jolt someone out of their comfort zone. Still, I couldn’t word it that way when twining wreathes of uncontainable compassion and goodwill rippled between us like the beating of mighty wings. If ever she suggested I change anything about myself, I’d do it, because she was the fulcrum between honesty and compassion, the spoke of that wheel. That sort of glamour can easily be used for evil, I thought, which was much less cynical than my usual thoughts. A front such as that always conceals some sort of evil, for one. Nobody’s really like that inside and out, unless their world is too small to know better, in which case there’s the bigger world for that sheer ignorance of damage to further damage. (For another.)

But I can believe in some aspects of the stories about her. I can believe Lilibell had made compromises, faced consequences, suffered fear of abandonment and betrayal. I was particularly inspired to write her internal struggles with evil. (As in, evil so pure that it can’t exist and yet it still manages to evil in its own evil absence. Even its privative remains evil. That’s how evil the evil evils.)

I can still believe those aspects, and Lilibell in the cafe didn’t come off as disagreeable on that point. Yet it remained difficult for me to believe that anyone could go through, or even brush up against any of that, and not sustain some stain that will never become wisdom, something irreparably broken in the beat of a wing or a heart.

How did you do it? I wondered. Whether it is fronting because we’d only just met for Otherreal, or one of numerous aspects (neither the Dierne’s joy or fear are necessarily less authentic for being different traits within one god), or the defining feature of Lilibell’s true self—it would be helpful to know. As I mentioned, though, the conversation was nothing revelatory. I couldn’t understand the response, or couldn’t translate. Maybe she really can’t give me a how-to, or won’t as she doesn’t and shouldn’t have to. She gave me a thought to the possibility. I feel like that’s a lot.

Aristotle’s Poetics and Finally Some Structure to Wishcraft

Tune in for Aristotle being such a sexist!

Lately, I’ve been thinking of Poetics. The word reminded me that I never got around to reading Aristotle’s lecture notes on Greek theatre, The Poetics, so I finally got around to reading it.

It didn’t have much to do with my Poetics, or my ideas of what it would be as these ideas form, but it was an interesting read.

Much of it pertained to the technicalities of Greek theater, specific meters, how the Chorus should be treated, dramatic beats defined as Reversal of the Situation (Peripeteia) and Recognition and the necessary setups for that (I’m guessing that’s now like the chase scene as a narrative convention that Charlie Chaplin rebelled against in his time, which is not to say that narrative conventions such as “chase scene” or a “main character” aren’t worth exploring the significance of in its context or even today), but a lot of it could be applied to any narrative. It’s definitely dated, although interesting that Aristotle made the distinction between that which was virtuous, that which was appropriate, and that which was “ennobled”: so, characters in a play must be good and even a woman who is also a slave and doubly lowly can technically be so; but must also be appropriate, and valor and cleverness in a woman was inappropriate to show to audiences onstage (while learning something new would be a big draw, on some levels individual audience members do expect some validation of some of their worldview as-is); and yet, every defect of character preserved and presented onstage is necessarily ennobled by a poet. There were also some recommendations for information that must be left offstage, even as it affects the story shown onstage. The definitions and history of comedy versus tragedy were also interesting, with the comedy having no history according to Aristotle because it wasn’t taken as seriously (ba-dum-bam) as epics and tragedies.

The Poetics proposed that the stageplay was an imitation of life, and there was a whole chapter on how to address critics of a play on the basis of how the imitation went. To me it spoke of how artistic license and the tumultuous relationship between the work and the audience have been issues for a very long time.

*

Six parts of a drama that determine the quality according to Aristotle (translated by S.H. Butcher here): Plot, Character, Thought, Spectacle, Diction, and Song. I conjecture that they go in order, when Aristotle continued that two constitute the medium of imitation (so, I’ll guess that’s Plot and Character), one constitutes the manner (Thought, or perhaps theme as the political and rhetoric), and three constitute the object (Spectacle, Diction, and Song.)

I think of it more like the story as medium versus the story at large and at small. If we start small, a story is primarily description, dialogue, and narrative (or spectacle, diction, and song.) As a medium, audiences infer characterization and plot development or plot twists from the primary. I sometimes think of narrative as broader than plot, so they should switch places in size rankings, but I’ll position Song in a special way in my own system later. Thought, or what I could call Theme, positions the work in the context of society, which is the larger view of storytelling.

I recognized notions as both the basis of a belief system and generated or synthesized by the same. Beginning to think in ritual structure, now, the qualities in parts of a drama can serve as placeholders of a structure that can synthesize notions, the filler of the structure being the Ogdoad (and the application in Ways, that I haven’t yet written about.)

(Developments in Ogdoad can be followed here, although I recently decided to just do away with affricates and plosives already and just make a language with what’s left.)

I have thought about some significant differences between the Animist approach to mystic elements (that treated these powers as animate) and the Ceremonial (that tended to treat these powers as inanimate or resonant worldly extensions of the elements within oneself). Ogdoad would be neither, rather themselves being a perception filter construct, strengthened by recognition of how these notions (or elements) invite or apply to the greater world.

A one-to-one correspondence of narrative parts to Ogdoad definitely made it simpler, but I guess if intuition moved for a ritual that was all Pawn, or all Castles (even in the song, plot, and character positions) then that’s how it would go.

At first, I figured that the Pawn would always be in the position of Song, if I think of Song more as the connections that make the whole more than the sum of its parts. Depending on the notion to be synthesized, (which would only be complicated if one thinks in categories that would then fracture the notion rather than activating a whole that can then only be described in what would once have fractured it) the “plot” of the spell can either be imbued Kingly, Queenly, or Pawnly; same as the “character”. And the final three qualities would be imbued with the remaining pieces, for balance of the spell, and compatibility with that which the spell applies to.

Outside of this, where most modern spellcasters would put a circle, I’d put a triangle instead: sea, sand, and sky; the pledge, the turn, the prestige; or craven’s, maven’s, and haven’s ways. Craven’s Way applies more to personal development, Maven’s Way applies more to external entities on the same wavelength, and Haven’s Way applies to external forces and entities not on the same wavelength.

Ogdoad Again

Wishcraft is a method of conveying meaning to the world significantly enough to change it. I should say that wishcraft would be what I described, if only I would settle on a method of practice. Instead, it’s mostly ideas about how causes ought to make particular effects. Even that, which I ought to lead with, made its way to the backburner in the etiology of power on corporeal, social, and psychological registers.

I owe a lot to this Grand Unifying Theory of all Witchcraft that covered subtle energy and symbolism, even though I feel that I’ve outgrown the subtle energy paradigm as a metaphor or symbol, and perhaps some influence of the deplorably solipsistic New Thought did still get me leaning away from bothering with symbolism at all. Without subtle energy, thought is world, and there is either no self or all self (even others are self and only other with higher self, it’s all a bit vague.)

But language has ever been as irresistible to me as the aesthetics of fairy tales, and they go well together.

Fairy magic is traditionally known as glamour, a word that shares a possible word history with grimoire and grammar, and so the word effectively bridges the assertion that Words Mean Things with understanding the social climate of privilege and prestige (glamour).

Words Mean Things, but how? The temptation to answer that they just do is, I think, an indicator of how compelling the representation is, how deeply-held the belief system. Words are difficult symbols to dissociate from meaning, but I continue to categorize them as referential or representative rather than real.

So, I gave Marcel Danesi’s A Basic Course in Anthropological Linguistics a read, and it definitely turned my development of Ogdoad in some direction.

Ferdinand de Saussure made the distinction in language between the system and the practice, serendipitously enough to me, like a game of chess. Only those who know the rules of a chess game can play. Without knowing the rules (what Saussure referred to as langue, or language), especially without your opponent’s agreement to the rules, it’s just moving the pieces (what Saussure referred to as parole, or words.) Note that this is a more structuralist than functionalist approach, and is not without its critics.

When it comes to written words in human history, pictograms would often be the first logical step: simplified drawings that imitate that which is referred to. I’d like to think that the idea to represent units of sound in writing was the result of reflective people who examined the more dominant medium of communication, deconstructed its representation (if a written representation of spoken language already existed), and reconstructed that representation more efficiently*.

And written representations influence visual representations. For instance, timelines that put the past in the left side and progress to the right are influenced by horizontal writing systems that start from left and continue in a rightwise direction. Ogdoad is written vertically from the top down, and I wondered what that would do to the spatial perception of time. Is the future grave (like gravity as opposed to the levity of the past)? Or does it bring ideas of the future back down to earth? It thought it would be more efficient, like checking a list.

If it’s going to be a language of wishcraft, though, it might be better served written vertically from the bottom up. That creates an outward movement. If I wrote notebooks of it where the pages were meant to be turned the opposite way from most books written in English, perhaps the anticlockwise movement would also have some effect.

* Unfortunately, with a basis of chess piece “groups” on clock hand diacritics, Ogdoad remains inefficient as a writing system. I must admit to also being awfully precious about it, so much that I don’t want to follow Zipf’s Law (which states that languages trend towards simplicity as they develop.)

When I read through the chapter on phonics, I was relieved to find that my amateur analyses of the corporeal acts that link to spoken language weren’t too far off. My uninformed thoughts were, of course, much simpler. I think I’d like to keep it that way.

Phonetics include consideration of sounds that don’t involve the voice box (squee! Odgoad has a group for those!), sounds that do involve the voice box, the tongue’s position as high, mid, low, front, central, back, if the tip of the tongue is flat or retroflex, if the jaws are clenched or agape, lips rounded or unrounded, is the sound bilabial, labiodental, dental, alveolar, uvular, glottal, plosive, sibilant, affricate, vibrant, lateral, nasal, continuant, obstruent, or sonorant?

Updates

First, I spent the better part of last week refining the ogdoad poesy, which is supposed to be a magix script based on chess pieces, but anyone who wants to can use it for representing the phonics of real words in established languages for mundane means…even though I curse myself for how clunky I made it, and wouldn’t personally use ogdoad for such a purpose. At least in the context of spellcasting, “clunky” can mean “opportunity to concentrate on imbuing meaning.” Mundanely: “I already know what I mean to say. Why did I make this so difficult?”

Second, related to the first, I tried to use it the ogdoad for magix and realized that I’m still lacking a way to, essentially, systemize glossolalia. The sounds or symbols involved would be determined by the traits of each piece as well as the moves that could be made: castling a king, queening a pawn, en passant capture, or capture of any piece by any piece…I should put in a symbol for “to capture” or to differentiate a desire for internal effect versus effect upon the external (or “opposite playing side”).

Third, unrelated to the first and second, The Pagan Experience blog prompt for February is humanity and earth, which I think can combine well into a post about Changelings and Earthlings. That would actually make a rocking band name. I cannot word the other thoughts I have about those right now, maybe not for the rest of the month.

Fourth, I believe that I can be, and am, both a changeling and an earthling. But mostly I’m a gruelling as in turned into gruel from trying to figure out how to organize the papers for this new job for a tax audit, and trying to figure out why I keep messing up the daily collections reports when I’m already being as careful as I can but I keep missing the obvious and important details…and I consider myself a fan of organizing data so why can I not do this?

Fifth, my immediate superior invited me to join a yoga class, considering that is the service we provide, and might help me with not being so scatterbrained.

The following content may contain triggering material.

Continue reading

Poesy Ogdoad Continued

The primary group of gutteral sounds are now classified under Pawn.
The secondary group of sustained tongue-muscle sounds are classified under Queen, the tsks and clucks (interrupted tongue sounds) under Knight.
The tertiary group of sustained lip-sounds are classified under Castle, the interrupted “lippy pops” classified under King.
The quaternary group of sibilants are classified under Bishop.

Continuing from this post. The diacritics begin from one o’ clock and end at twelve. Twelve, three, six, and nine on the clock face become reference lines for the next “hour”, so one, four, seven, and ten are wedges to show how they follow up on those reference lines. Two, five, eight, and eleven stand alone as strokes because they are neither reference lines themselves nor can they be supported by a reference line.

The diacritics can be stacked to combine sounds under a single classification, such as G being a combination of Pawn’s K and H.

ogdaod6

Although I had to find a way that they wouldn’t appear too similar without the circumference of a clock to give it some context.

So, I decided to turn the indicator for ten upside-down from what’s shown below.

ogdaod12

Seven through twelve are beginning to look a bit like Japanese, which actually doesn’t go all that well aesthetically with the symbols that they’re modifying.

The more or less final…whichever the following is.

Two Bishops are missing their diacritics because I wondered if Z and S are less a progression of resonance from the aft to the fore, and more vocalization versus breath: compare the French J with a Stateside J, which in turn (the latter) might just be D plus Sh.

As I’ve established, doing away with the Knight, D is L combined with N. Vocalized J (or “Tch” for that matter) would then be “L-N-Sh” and maybe the Knight can indicate that a Bishop variant is vocalized so that Knight and Bishop go together like the letters of Q and U in English.

Edit to add:

The Bishop group goes (beginning from the 7th, swapping around J and Sh) Z, S, J, Sh, V, F. To me that’s a movement of sound resonance from aft to fore, also alternating between vocalized and air-pressurized. Z is the same position as S, but Z has voice added. J is produced by the same positions as Sh, but J has voice added. V is the same position as F, but V has voice added. So, the Bishop group would really have only three sounds, but the Knight symbol preceding the Bishop would indicate either a Z, J, or V.

I’d also have the Knight precede the B in the King’s group. The King alone in scripted Ogdoad would indicate a P.

When the Knight precedes “L-N” (same as D) it turns that into a T.

I don’t like how J can then be written both as “L-N-Sh” and “(Knight)-Sh” because I want to keep these as phonetically simple as possible, unlike modern English where there’s a C that can be both an S and a K, and X and Q for similar or the same sounds.

Although I don’t know where “Tch” or “Ch” fits in. “(Knight)-L-N-Sh” or Tsh? Maybe J can be “L-N-Sh” whereas Ch can be “(Knight)-Sh”.

So the Knight itself is silent, but it does cue a forcefulness behind the successive sound-symbol.

~

I would still want Ch to have its own symbol, because in something like English it makes the difference between telling someone, “You have to choose!” and “You have two shoes!”