The Red Shoes

The following entry may contain triggering material.

Dance you shall. Dance in your red shoes ’til you are pale and cold, till your skin shrivels up!

You shall dance in your red shoes until you become like a wraith, like a ghost, ’til the skin hangs from your bones, ’til there is nothing left of you but entrails dancing.

Dance you shall, from door to door through all the villages, and where proud and wicked children live you shall knock, so that they may hear you and fear you!

When people peer out they will see you and fear their fate for themselves.

Dance, red shoes, you shall.


The story behind this story, as I’d read it, was that the young Hans Christian Andersen watched a parent make a pair of shoes. The customer, who had provided some of those materials, wasn’t at all pleased. “All you’ve done was ruin my silk,” scolded the customer. The shoemaker Andersen took a pair of scissors to the shoes and replied, “Then I may as well ruin my leather too.”

With that consideration, the story read a bit like the fairytale-writer Andersen avenging his father on a bad customer’s child. It became awfully bleak and full of misaimed moral indignation.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés, whose middle name I can never manage to leave out either, redeemed the story through interpretation. It became a cautionary tale, an examination of how to lose touch with one’s instincts and the tragic effects of that loss. Estés called it the hambre del alma, the soul’s hunger, or the soul injury that leads to an often destructive pursuit of some substitute for whatever had been lost.

Much of the material for Estés’ interpretation remains in the Andersen version, which I take to mean something about stories taking on a life of their own apart from authorial intent, if sadistic wish-fulfillment were ever even Andersen’s intent. The tragic heroine, Karen, either makes a pair of shoes herself or receives them as a gift from someone who doesn’t know how to make shoes (but who made them with a kind thought to Karen, who couldn’t afford to buy shoes). A wealthy elderly woman adopts Karen, and has the shoddy priceless soul-whole shoes burnt. At the shoe store with this newfound benefactor, she selects a pair of red patent leather shoes to make up for the ones she lost…even though red shoes are inappropriate to wear to church. The elderly woman has some eye problem and buys them for Karen without seeing that they’re red, and some supernatural character puts a curse on them because the girl continued to wear them to church even after being informed of the inappropriateness. She’s saved from the curse by a woodcutter or executioner—somebody with an axe, anyway—chopping off her legs. (Although the main character begged for that mercy while in the thrall of the dancing curse, that’s hardly a dashing rescue.)


I wondered if the alternative would graft well into Queen Myrtha’s backstory, I otherwise knew nothing about. Deadly dances are a part of her character, so if it weren’t exactly the link I thought could be there, I couldn’t imagine Queen Myrtha having no opinion about it at all. At least the Queen would be opposed to the idea of shaming a girl for something she wore?

Giselle met me on the way to the misty wood mindscape. She doesn’t stop anybody, really, she doesn’t even warn or grumble against, she just tends to haunt. She’s a reminder that there’s always another way to go about things, than the way the Queen does it. Giselle doesn’t stop anybody. But this time, Giselle radiated enough worry and distress that I felt as though she was grabbing my elbow and shouting at me to run.

“Red shoes,” explained Giselle, instead, “means that the Queen is holding auditions.”

And Giselle didn’t like it, it seemed, even less than my interest in the wilis, even less than the existence of the wilis (who she never leaves, though I think she can, but would rather stay and dislike it). It was a new, unexpected idea to me. That’s not how I got in.

“No, that’s not how you got in,” agreed Giselle, with an uncharacteristic curtness. More gently, even encouragingly, “You’re not one of us. Don’t frown, that’s the best thing anyone can have said about them!”

That’s the most straightforward she’s ever been.

“But I can still watch the auditions,” I’d figured, since the idea was developing, and I thought I ought to stay with it as much as I could. Why did I keep going to them, knowing next to nothing but their perpetual mood, and (so Giselle said) not even being one of them?

Bless her, but Giselle doesn’t stop anyone.

Quest: Disarmed

The following entry may contain triggering material ; rape mention.

Last year, I witnessed flabbergastingly compounded unconscionable callous injustice—like most of the developed world that year, but while I understood that stuff going on on the level of nations was bad, it was this awfully petty thing that I kept focusing on. I seethed. I steeped. I’d feel physically ill seeing the usernames of people involved.

And I tried to figure out why. I didn’t have any personal bond with the instigator. I hadn’t been the target, and had I truly stood by the target then I would have let it go maybe around the fifth time she’d told me to drop it. I’d try to glean by what process more involved people who were already over it, got there.

This consuming rage just had to have really been about something else. At least also.

And I swear, I searched.

— Was it too much like schoolyard social shunning for contrived and unsubstantiated reasons, that this event is reminding me that I’m not over yet?
— No, I’m well over that, I just expected more sophisticated conduct than kindergarten.
— Did really nobody else notice that this accuser was so eager to violate boundaries and control people unrelated to the original conflict(s)?
— “Specious” is too generous a descriptor for the evidence and inference: It told me nothing about the target, but a whole lot about what the accuser considered relevant to include and how. Reprehensibly.
— Why hasn’t getting spoken over about what is or isn’t racist against Asians bothered me quite this intensely before?
— So that’s how stupid I sounded complaining, about my sexual abuse by lesbians at 17, to a girl whose stepfather raped her when she was 8.
— I brainstormed a short comic to cope instead, not all that good to know what I’d be accused of had I actually drawn it.
— But sure, let’s censor survivors’ personal expression and networking, because the behavior of potential perpetrators is totally our responsibility. I’ll quit wearing skirts after sundown, too, it’s too easy to access and I would totally be asking for it. This is how to fight rape culture.
— And it wasn’t enough to say “not for me, I’m uncomfortable” and not have to do with anyone who blocked them and forgot about them. If you have to universalize your personal perspective to feel “safe” you’re probably a boundary-violating abuser, and did really nobody else pick up on this? Nobody who claims to be savvy to abuse dynamics? Really? Just stand by and signal-boost a stalker, liar, boundary-violating abuser. Who holds awfully convenient and downright unethical double standards for what extenuating circumstances of a person’s suffering should be considered (to their own benefit) or disregarded (to their targets’ detriment). Well alright then.

But the lattermost possibly unresolved issues led to one of those mindscape quests where I reunited with a shard of me probably, that took the form of an arrowhead and kept voicing a depression script that I thought I didn’t have anymore. One of the pirates returned it to me in the form of a necklace, which I wove into a glove on my hand to keep away from my heart. The glove became a spiked gauntlet welded to my hand, and eventually I had fizzling bolts of black lightning instead of one arm.

Whatever I got out of this event was metaphysically eating me alive.

“Put another glove over it,” my therapist suggested.

The moment I did, a spiked gauntlet appeared on the opposite arm, no additional mindscape questing needed—it was just here for the food. (But that it was on my dominant arm now, which I purposely kept the first one away from, and I couldn’t get it off.)

So I left the metaphors alone and started venting far more directly and publicly—A real inner alchemist wouldn’t have resorted to that. (Theoretically, anger has value because that’s what sets boundaries but really—nobody wants to live there, like this.)

Whenever I think I’m okay about this, something comes up and I’m not.

My therapist, unusually, became less concerned about where this disproportionate outrage truly came from. Instead, the question that session was, “What is this anger calling you to do?”

I thought it was to start speaking out against unsubstantiated accusations, and especially against underlying belief systems that made disseminating misinformation so easy, so commonplace and destructive.

This morning, I woke up and my arms had become arms. I felt okay: contented but uncomfortable because all that anger was gone.

Which just happens, sometimes. As I said, I’ve thought I was past it and then was not. This was suspiciously sudden and easy. But I could pick up on that rage, distantly, like a nudge somewhere—but there was all the rest of that space to occupy with what might bring happiness today instead.

If I get off the rageholic train here, permanently, I wouldn’t miss it. I wouldn’t wonder about that calling I thought was so clear. I wouldn’t look back.

Songs for the Helrrigan

The following entry may contain triggering material and spoilers for Spring Awakening.

The Helrrigan hasn’t shown up in a while, except for one odd dream I had a couple of months ago in which her eye socket was a lagoon. I take this as a good thing, as this fusion god of Hel and the Morrigan generally only drops by when I contemplate suicide.

Although I have technically been contemplating it, it’s been in a more contemplative way. Not so much with a “How shall I…” or “I should because…” but more that it’s theoretically a thing. My grasp of the notion, and relationship with it, is different now. I think the wishcraft would be too, but the songs are the same.

Well this first one at least I discovered more recently than the others. I think it’s one of Florence + the Machine’s more plodding songs but…sounds like the Helrrigan’s vibes, right here.

“Don’t Do Sadness” definitely misses a very significant something to me without “Blue Wind” to counterpoint, but I’m very much liking the ASL revival Moritzes.

I appreciate just how much movement and brightness and life there can be in an uptempo growl-song. When I watch the music video, though, I find myself unsettled. The lead vocalist’s brother had killed himself, from what I’d read. That a song came of it, that’s fair, cathartic, could reach people who need it…and then I imagine what it was like to film the music video, how many takes just to capture the appropriate look of grief, what it would have been like to look at a storyboard so close to the event that inspired the song, casting the family left behind, concept, post-production, editing it all to a marketable gloss and having the artist re-visit the cadence tied to the event over and again.

Listening to the lyrics, I feel that the speaker is saying, accurately in my opinion, “I get it—” ( Hate the mind. Regrets are better left unspoken; For all we know, this void will grow. Everything’s in vain, distressing you…feels so right, I’ll end this all— spot on, and I personally might pick up on a tinge of genre-appropriate anger but not a trace of blame or posthumous shaming). To balance that understanding with how they’re not in such a bad way that they’d actually do the same, retaining instead the dubious privilege of “survived by” status—as in the deceased is survived by so-and-so grieving family members—and the perspective that comes with. (Call your name everyday, when I feel so helpless / I’ve fallen down…but I’ll rise above this, I’ll rise above this doubt, I’ll mend myself before it gets me).

Refresher in Craven’s Way

The following entry may contain triggering material.

I began calling this node of poesy “Craven’s Way” because I believed Jungian psychology to be purely psychology, with any paranormal associations a misunderstanding of the collective unconscious. As I read more, though, it turns out that Jung—or at least one of Jung’s apprentices, Barbara Hannah—believed a number of common psychic visions to have, in hindsight, been prophetic of World War I. Hannah had a peculiarly casual attitude to time travel, even, sort of brushing it off as boring and so let’s get back to how much this case patient hated her dad…but Barbara, you traveled through physical time and back. No, let’s not move on to this patient’s personal feelings!

I’d gladly continue differentiating Craven’s and Shades, as I had a simple concept of Shadow Work that I’d rather continue to keep simple (and call Craven’s Way) for the practice of it: the more we experience and parse, the more we miss out on and reject, and that can sometimes generate tension that people suffer from (personally or interpersonally) so Craven’s Way is tuning that dissonance to be more harmonious or even utilizing the dissonance in casting. The metaphysical stuff of it is necessarily phobogenic: when I’m not even a little bit afraid, I’m not doing the Work even if I think I am.

So, while it originates internally and emotionally, 1. it’s witchcraft rather than mysticism, another distinction that Barbara Hannah makes in Encounters with the Soul, the witch being a part of the collective consciousness that demands the whole be subservient to this one part whereas the mystic surrenders the whole self to harmony with the whole collective—and I want to work on not being complacent in the face of the unconscionable, so I don’t appreciate the value judgment Hannah and Jung seem to cast on mystics who fit that description, like, the mystics are in the right for having transcended wrong and right; 2. I’d like to keep Craven’s Way practice-orientated, whereas Shadow Work has extensive theory behind it.

And the complexity of that underlying theory I consider still worth examining, just as I still have mystic leanings and hiccups.

Excerpt from “Creating the False Self” by Harville Hendrix:

A child’s reaction to society goes through a number of predictable stages. Typically, the first response is to hide forbidden behaviors from the parents. The child thinks angry thoughts but doesn’t speak them out loud. He explores his body in the privacy of his room. He teases his younger sibling when his parents are away.

Eventually the child comes to the conclusion that some thoughts and feelings are so unacceptable that they should be eliminated, so he constructs an imaginary parent in his head to police his thoughts and activities, a part of the mind that [Freudian] psychologists call the “superego”.

Now, whenever the child has a forbidden thought or indulges in an unacceptable behavior, he experiences a self-administered jolt of anxiety. This is so unpleasant that the child [represses] some of those forbidden parts of himself. The ultimate price of his obedience is a loss of wholeness.

(…) the child creates a “false self,” a character structure that serves a double purpose: it camouflages those parts of his being that he has repressed and protects him from further injury (…) At some point in a child’s life, however, this ingenious form of self-protection becomes the cause of further wounding as the child is criticized for having these [neurotic] traits.

His attackers don’t see the wound he is trying to protect, and they don’t appreciate the clever nature of his defense: all they see is the neurotic side of his personality. He is deemed less than whole.

Now the child is caught in a bind. He needs to hold on to his adaptive character traits, but he doesn’t want to be rejected. What can he do? The solution is to deny or attack his critics (…) These negative traits become what is referred to as the “disowned self,” those parts of the false self that are too painful to acknowledge.

We have now succeeded in fracturing your original wholeness, the loving and unified nature that you were born with, into three separate entities:

1. Your “lost self,” those parts of your being that you had to repress because of the demands of society.

2. Your “false self,” the façade that you erected in order to fill the void created by this repression and by a lack of adequate nurturing.

3. Your “disowned self,” the negative parts of your false self that met with disapproval and were therefore denied.

The only part of this complex collage that you were routinely aware of was the parts of your original being that were still intact[,] and certain aspects of your false self. Together these elements formed your “personality,” the way you would describe yourself to others.

It amuses me how Hendrix puts it, “succeeded in fracturing your original wholeness” like despair or numbness is an accomplishment.

As unwieldy to incorporate as this is, it rings true to me. Back when I could far-fetch, those vivid out-of-body experiences began to take on one dreamlike quality in that once I was out, the plans and priorities I’d held to so rigidly in the interest of being scientific about this phenomenon…would go out the window. The way I behaved in that—whatever that was—was lustful and mischievous. My then-mentor in psychism, my sibling, and corporeal Cecil back then agreed that was so “so unlike you!” that this otherworldly self had to have been made up of all of my most rejected repressions.

I was glad, then, that that self-of-mine-sorta was whoring herself out and wreaking havoc far, far, far away from the “real” or default world.

In a completely mundane way, we integrated. It was a magnificent disaster. I’m not proud of all of it, there’s a great deal of that integration that still leaves me conflicted…but I can’t say “it was my faery fetch did it” or “made me do it” or “not me” just because it’s not who I strive to be/become; by the nature of this fetch, it was all me. And fortunately, this explosive reintegration, if it could indeed have been disastrous on a notably supernatural level as well, remained merely mundane in its expression—and not even criminal, though that doesn’t mean much.

A Study in Bones

The following entry may contain triggering material.

I think I mentioned before that I’d read Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés when I was about eight-ish: my family had a copy on the shelf, it was a collection of fairy tales, kid-me thought…okay, a collection of fairy tales, I can totally read this. I wasn’t wrong, I read it all the way through without a lot of difficulty. Words I didn’t know could usually be figured out from context, and more adult concepts that I couldn’t have known sailed right over my head. I didn’t know to skip the commentary. I’d like to think that it imprinted on me an appreciation for meta.

And I remember how particular Estés was about Baba Yaga’s torch with the skull on it, and how wondrously emotive and plotless the dreamlike retelling of La Lorna who sang the bones back into a living wolf, and how futile it seemed for a battered wife to tame a bear for some magic spell to soothe her PTSD soldier spouse (it wasn’t a magic spell that the bear gave, but the skills to “tame a bear”, geddit? Geddit? — Beww! Not cool! Said eight-year-old me.)

I do not remember, from that very early reading, the Skeleton Woman. I’d recently been introduced to this story, though, and the reteller’s meta struck a chord with me.

First, THANK GODS I AM NOT TIGER LILY FICTIONKIN that had been so awkward to carry. My first quest-meeting (or, as Carl Jung called it, and Clarissa Pinkola Estés is a Jungian…active imagination) with Captain Foxglove the Fairy Pirate, that started with the sea creatures eating my fetch to the bones, echo more the archetype of the Skeleton Woman. I can’t even say Skeleton Woman shard or kin, because Jungian psychology and psychospirituality doesn’t have that vocabulary, but it’s probably something sorta maybe kinda like the referent…but not. I can say that I’m the Skeleton Woman because—in this Jungian paradigm, anyway—everyone is and has been, at some time in our lives, the Skeleton Woman, and the fisherman love interest, and the abusive father who turned a flesh and blood woman into the skeleton woman, and the NPC’s like the townsfolk. Each of us are all of them. That’s why Jungian psychology capitalizes Self, inclusive of our ego-self that we identify (or identify as), and of all life experience and the total subconscious psyche.

There is something to be said for applying principles and standards of a paradigm consistently, but the I get back into Jungian psychology, the gladder I am that I have been exposed to these eclectic philosophies. Familiarity with the paradigm of the kyriarchy has been immensely liberating and helpful to me; yet, despite its insistence on universalization, it has no place in this entry and that’s a good thing. Like Jungian philosophy, if it’s your only tool, everything looks like a nail when it’s not. Constructive. To apply. Actually.

I find this a lot in Shadow Work, how Jung frames any and all irritation, pang, pain, or trauma as an opportunity to examine the inner self for the underlying beliefs we hold to that cause such pain.

For instance: A grade-school classmate telling everyone not to talk to me because I had an absent biological father and I was therefore probably demonkin. Why was I so needy and entitled to the attention and conversation of such cruel and illogical peers? Why would I have bought into this idea of a model nuclear family as a value judgment on my own home life? Why did I not take demonkin as a kickass awesome thing to be accused of?

I’m sure the world would also have become a slightly better place had someone taken Trish aside and told her that she shouldn’t use her words to shape people’s behavior like that, or even put out the idea among us grade-schoolers that the Catholic figure of Satan wasn’t so literal that they could be classmates with Satan’s actual child. My inner world would have become a much worse place, had the questions in the paragraph immediately preceding this one had come out of self-loathing rather than curiosity. Like, the words might be the same, but the feeling underneath would be more: Why can’t I just get over it, why can’t I be more independent, my inherent needy nature is so annoying to everyone, the world would be better off without me, I’m a pouty bastard child like Jon Snow-nothing, Otherkin are attention-seeking special snowflakes and demonkin are evil to boot why am I… That sort of attitude or approach, I believe, would be disastrous; but the Jungian method is, I believe, sound enough that it ought not be thrown out the window entirely just because I myself personally could have very easily approached that Shadow Work in a self-harming way that would lead to all-consuming despair and suicide, or just because I might write a lot about the Jungian process but a lot of recovering the wounded inner child was just meeting more people later in life who weren’t colossal dickweeds. Such is life!

The story of the Skeleton Woman introduced to me something like Shadow Work, but the opportunity provided is more positive: upon attraction or desire, treat it the same way as a Jungian would treat pain or irritation—and look within for why.

3,000-ish words under cut about Captain Foxglove and me

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Mini Labyrinth Pictures


After a disastrous attempt at salt dough labyrinths during a humid, rainy month, one of my coworkers (I have coworkers again! I has a jobs!) introduced me to the wonders to air-dry clay. I’ve been really into this new hobby.


Clockwise, big white one first: Chartres labyrinth, mirror of Erwin Reißmann’s (blogmymaze) inspired by Lea Goode-Harris’ Santa Rosa labyrinth, classical or Cretan labyrinth, my own zigzag spiral design.

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Mixed Metaphors, A Ramble

The following entry may contain triggering material.

Still letting percolate how to shmoosh together Fairy gold (which is traditionally and in my quests A Bad Thing) with Alchemical gold (which is supposed to be the best thing, and in the context I go well okay then.)

Mostly, though, I realized that in all my excitement about Proscenium, and stage magic, and pledge-turn-prestige cycles, and how spatial that poesy is and shmooshes well with Fairy chess…I was developing a new language for the exact same ideas that I ought to have been working on all along: proper Glamour and correct Spelling. Here’s a relevant link to introductory linguistic semiotics. I haven’t read all the way through it; I’ll get to it!

I’d been allocating some one-on-one time with every guiser I’d ever met, or at least to pace and focus my consideration for why we would be (or have been) in one another’s lives.

Cookson from Captain Foxglove’s crew told me that I’m too angry for him (Kelp Cookson) to want me to get to know him better.

So for once, I thought to work on that, because I’m so reluctant to let go of anger that tells me enough is enough after a lifetime of being some weak, kind, doormat of a person…and I still don’t feel that “not being enraged and embittered anymore” is a choice that I consciously made, with step-by-step instructions to repeat next time anger starts giving me acid reflux and a pirate’s vocabulary. But I feel much better now, and I think it’s going to last.

Next on the list to plan some quality time with is Queen Myrtha of the Wilis—who only shows up when my anger has evaporated into this unadulterated, concentrated venom that even I sometimes mistake for calm rationality.

But, the Queen’s been around several literal hells of a lot more often than Kelp “Simmer Down” Cookson…and when it’s mattered, too. But the timing’s wrong, but I should practice making things I think and want to happen actually happen instead of leaving it always up to timing, but I probably should, but I really shouldn’t, but I want to not want to…eh, she showed up in the Otherreal for the first time last December, so maybe she’s a seasonal guiser.