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

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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.

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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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Symbols: the Labyrinth

So it took some explaining for me to appreciate the labyrinth. Mazes, I could understand the appeal, as those “require acute attention to choices at intersecting paths and a high degree of critical awareness to remember detours and dead ends. Mazes do not grace those who enter; they taunt, tease, and challenge.”

Cretan Labyrinth

Cretan Labyrinth (pg. 81) “Exploring the Labyrinth” by Melissa Gayle West, Broadway Books NY 2000. ‘It is the oldest (…) form of the labyrinth, dating back at least 3,500 years.’

Labyrinths, in Melissa Gayle West’s case studies, do grace those who work with them. They provide a time and shape-of-space set out for liminality, for psychic (as in, pertaining to the psyche) development—yet, the structure is open enough that anyone can travel in them at their own pace, in their own way, with any approach they have. I find two common processes in the cases included in Exploring the Labyrinth: The first is those who have been harmed and hardened (into “small selves” as West describes it; having created a complex or intense focus around a specific issue) travel a labyrinth and gain a bigger perspective through that walking meditation; that intensity, or that defensiveness that precludes healing, tends to soften and release. The second are labyrinth-travelers who enter too lofty, too cerebral, and find the travel grounding—the labyrinth has an opposite effect of focus and integration.

Mentioned often, too, is the benefit of Second Thinking. If a traveler can catch how they approach the labyrinth, they can examine how they approach life. I’d considered labyrinths pretty but pointless. From entrance to center and out again, it’s too easy to be worth working with. It took more explaining before I could appreciate it.

Three labyrinths featured in the book included the organic, off-center Cretan labyrinth above, drawn from an equal-armed cross axis. West presented the Chartres labyrinth below as an innovation in labyrinth design that diverged from labyrinths throughout world history, but I can’t help but expect more than a surface scratching of art or architectural history would show the lineages and influences of it.

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Chatres Labyrinth (pg. 96) “Exploring the Labyrinth” by Melissa Gayle West, Broadway Books NY 2000. ‘Named after the permanent stone labyrinth set into the floor of Chartres Cathedral in France during the thirteenth century…It is a distinctly Christian pattern, an equal-armed cross visible in its elegant layout.’


The third labyrinthine pattern, a simple spiral, made a brief mention.
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Ibid.


My one’s more like a spiral, really, as the path doesn’t ebb to the periphery before flowing towards the center again. It just zigzags towards the center.
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While the full-sized labyrinths are meant for walking meditations, I very much like the idea now of having a hand-held labyrinth to work with. The meditative mind state can be done while the labyrinth-traveler traces the path with their fingertips. Made out of pottery clay or salt dough, that would provide a tactile component, and of course the same time and symbolic shape-of-space that labyrinths make, to invite or facilitate that meditative mindset.

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.

An Expeditious Retreat

Rose ought to have a better introduction than this. I was in my mid-teens, mulling over gritty reboot fairy tale retellings that I could do, and she was one of them. I could have sworn that I’d seen Rose as Chelsea Hobb’s Gerda in The Snow Queen (Hallmark, 2002) but apart from the ringlets she’s given when she’s trapped in springtime, there’s not much resemblance. Which is odd, because her actual face and body keep changing whenever I meet her.

The drawing above is of the youngest-looking version of her I’d encountered, who seemed to wear a specific world all the time.

And during our most recent encounter, I was going to suggest that she leave it.

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Tuning in to my surreal fetch sometimes comes with senses, attitudes, or memories that my corporeal and sidereal fetch don’t have. Sometimes it manifests in feeling as though a guiser I’d never seen before is a very old friend. Other times, it manifests in my freezing up in the middle of doing something that I surreal-y know how to do without thinking, because I’m sidereal-y thinking about how I do it (because that part of me had never done it before.)

This time, it was an information dump.

I’d taken it as a given that the center of the red brick labyrinth is a walled garden where Rose would sit with her tea set. And I can never find the door. If she randomly wants me to join her for tea, I am randomly summoned there for tea and randomly banished. We never do anything else.

This time, I managed to walk in uninvited, and give a stern warning about someone else who might walk in uninvited; and this was my own fault, but this was how I could minimize the damage, if she would cooperate by evacuating then she’d be one less possible—

What? My corporeal-sidereal mind pulled away from myself a bit. What did we do this time? What did you do?!? This isn’t happening.

That’s an exaggeration. I didn’t answer, because I didn’t ask. I only felt moderately confused by myself.

“Nobody can find this place,” Rose said, meaning that she wasn’t leaving. I’d pointed out that the labyrinth remained open to the sky, but…she had a point. One entrance, one exit, one winding path, and I’d still manage to take a wrong turn. Rose knew this place better: the place did whatever she wanted to whoever else was unfortunate enough to wander into it. Of course she was safe, here.

Then Captain Foxglove strode in and said, “I’ll escort her.”

I might have gesticulated between us and the walls, bleating, to try to communicate that if I could find the center garden of my own volition for once, and Foxglove could do the same and they hadn’t even met, then the security wasn’t very good anymore.

On the other hand, Foxglove and Rose kept looking at each other with expressions that at least told me that they knew one another very well.

So Rose listened to Foxglove after he’d made the exact same report to her, and suggested the exact same course of action as I had—and without any argument at all Rose wrapped up her own tea set in the tablecloth and looked to the bottom of the stone bird-bath for pearls.

“There are seashells in almost any harbor we stop at,” Foxglove told her, though he’d looked terse, he’d kept his tone encouraging. Rose decided not to waste time on the pearls. She had a flower crown that she’d reached up to put on Foxglove’s head. It got there; they’d both looked so solemn about it.

I could make sense of it. Before, I thought that I’d found Rose by a slightly different form accompanying Captain Marigold, and when I’d looked in that one’s eyes she appeared empty of any mind. I wonder now if this exact moment was always going to happen, so that the shell that followed Marigold around would be ensouled by a real Rose. Maybe the shell was a sort of ghost from the future.

I’d stopped this Rose, right before she left, to look in her eyes. I couldn’t. It was like starting mirror work, and all I could see was a mirror. This Rose wasn’t empty that I could see, but all I could see when I looked at her eyes were…eyes.

Despite being sort-of around for a decade, even despite all the tea parties…this was, really, the first and only conversation-like exchange that Rose and I had ever had. I’d described her before as “too obstinately enigmatic to blog about” and maybe that is the thing: she’ll always have a labyrinth of some kind around her, maybe she is safe and content by nature, inherently inaccessible, and I had made some grave mistake in sending her out into the world. Even if she were going to bring life to Marigold’s pet ghost from the future.

Nah, Foxglove’s made the grave mistake, if that were the case, because he’d said the same thing but she listened to him.

Besides, one of Foxglove’s crew had eyes pop out of sockets at the end of accordion springs when I looked into them. Had they been coil springs, I would have guessed that mechanism were built into such a guiser-body to facilitate expressiveness in the eyes. That they were accordion springs swayed my suspicions more towards that every otherworld I quest in is potentially trolling me.

So they both left. Somehow. I didn’t catch them going over the wall, but the center garden of the red brick labyrinth has no door.

Candle Spells

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Here’s this 5000-word essay from Cantrap that traces the history of candle making; comparisons between bayberry oil, tallow, beeswax, and whale oil; and how late in candlemaking history oil-soluble dyes came in. It describes the dipping rack, to which would be tied hand-knitted cotton or flax candle-wicks, for dipping repeatedly in hand-gathered animal fats melted in a vat or cauldron.

It definitely gave me an appreciation for contemporary candle wishcraft. My housemates keep some in stock for power outages during monsoon season, whether because candles are cheaper or seem more environment-friendly than battery-hungry torches. Sometimes the candles might also be vividly colored, or made of see-through solid gel, or some crystalline metallic kind of wax, shaped in many other amusing ways than “candle-shaped”, scented like citronella (which keeps some kinds of pesky insects away) or ocean breeze (how did that even happen wait what)…most stores stock some fancy novelty varieties like these.

The glamour of candle spells comes at me from…the fact that a naked flame is more of a process than it is an object; that the candle as an object is something I can hold and move around, so this externalizes my intent and anchors it in symbolic action; maybe even an echo of the sort of children’s birthday parties in which ritual leaders traditionally set cakes on fire and then challenge the celebrant to put a stop to this devastation (as the cake belongs to the celebrant’s age-peer community. In extinguishing the flame, the celebrant displays their heroism and commitment to serve the tribe, as well as their willingness to keep silent about their personal desires or “the birthday wish.” Perhaps this privacy also encourages integrity and independence, or is otherwise a lesson or test in maturity.)

I voice my wish to the candle, and let it burn for as long as I can attend it, until it puts itself out.

The tea light pictured above is magenta-colored and rose-scented. The spiky twigs are dried cloves that I’d arranged on the candle before lighting it. Each part mentioned is associated with a notion active in this spell, as well as some I haven’t mentioned or kept in the picture.

The pictures below show the cloves sinking into melted wax, the miniature clove bonfire that formed after the wax ran out, and the charred cloves after the wick burned down.

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The last time I tried one of these things, it was with a white unscented tea light. I’d scored a minus symbol on the metal cup and wished at the flame to burn away my depression. As it burned, I could feel the misery and fogginess growing—the exact opposite effect I’d wanted. I wouldn’t say that I’d done it wrong so much as I didn’t really know what I was doing, I was just hoping.

When it came to the spell in the pictures, it felt so much less like (ha, ha?) backfire. I still haven’t figured whether candle spells work like distance-defying sympathetic magic, or whether the flame razes or unleashes and magnifies what the wax was told to symbolize, or if candle magic is better suited to area spells that can see the light or feel the warmth or smell the paraffin, or if it’s more like a communication beacon to someone otherworldly who’d just so happen to have any interest in getting something along those lines to happen.

I’d like to cast like this more often, though. I’m already imagining cocoa powder on a cinnamon-scented candle for a housewarming spell (or cinnamon powder on a chocolate-scented candle), a way to invite healing numinous dreams that might include lavender and milk scented candles burning at the same time, and I could probably figure out something to do with ocean breeze once I figure out how the manufacturers got something like that into a candle in the first place. Right now I’m going with “they employ wizards”—of course candles are magical.