Monday, January 11, 2016

"Ain’t that just like me."

Yesterday I made a friend watch the videos for both Blackstar and Lazarus by David Bowie. "It's almost like he's planning the return to his home planet," I joked.

Last night not long after midnight, my sister texted me to tell me that David Bowie - the man who fell to earth - was dead.

I was stunned. I had strange dreams all night, and when I woke up this morning and checked the internet to really confirm the news, I found myself much sadder than I thought I'd be. I'm still sad, if I'm honest. I've cried a little, which seems sort of stupid as I never met the man, but there it is.

I was born in 1981, and so my first introduction to Bowie was Labyrinth. As I got older my mother informed me that the Goblin King was the one singing many of the songs I loved on the mixed tapes she would make. I remember playing Modern Love on my baby-pink tape player - running on batteries - in the back of my mom's car. She, my sister, and I all sang along. As I grew older I would discover Station to Station, Ziggy Stardust, Diamond Dogs... all of it. My sister and I watched The Man Who Fell to Earth, and for a while Voodoo even had the same hairstyle as he did in that film. He was a fascinating character who never truly faded from public consciousness, and the more you learned about him the more interesting he became.

David Bowie was more than just a rockstar. I think anyone who ever enjoyed his work felt that.


We were lucky to have him.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Majesty

It's a brand new year, and the blogosphere is full of articles on how to make this one the year of a new you.

I think Matt Bellassai has the right idea about that, really.

Hey, I've tried it. You can look at this very blog and see that. I'll be honest with you - every year it's usually the same shit: exercise more, meditate more, write more. 

This is not to say that I have not improved in those areas or that it's bad to have goals. I actually think it's great to have goals, because it gives us something concrete to slog towards when the going is tough. But once you reach a goal, there's another and another and another. It's not like you finally run that 5K and then just quit altogether.

Will I be the same person this year as I was last? Yeah, pretty much. I'll probably still drink too much wine, judge the outfits of every last one of my co-workers, play music too loudly and hate meditating. But there will be new shit, too.

The monthly show I help produce with Voodoo Pixie and Aleister Crane, The Comedy of Terrors, will be coming to an end. We had a good run, but we all have other demands on our time. I have a job scheduled to run through to the fall that is shaping up to be pretty demanding, Voodoo and I are trying our hands at a new project - a series of roundtable discussions on horror and an accompanying podcast, both called Dark Entries. (Why yes, I did pick the name.) I'm cancelling my membership at the YMCA, but my running is picking up again and I plan to take pole dancing.

Slowly, I am developing some sort of relationship with the Old Man. I'm still not sure what it's going to become. At the same time, I have discovered Sabbatic Witchcraft and find myself eager to read more about it. (How has this been hiding from me for so long? And now I seem to trip over it all over the tumblr and on blogs.)

Life progresses, although rarely in an instantly dramatic fashion. We shouldn't expect massive changes just because we said "happy new year" and we should not hold ourselves to such an insane standard. On the other hand, we also cannot use the fact that most often life is a case of same-shit-different-day as an excuse for our own inertia.

So do the shit that you want to do. Your habits now will help shape who you are ten years from now, so maybe make sure at least some of that shit is healthy. I highly doubt much of what is over the horizon will be easy, but I'm also quite confident that we're all a bunch of tough motherfuckers and we can handle whatever may come.

New year. Same you. (ie: still badass.)

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Facelift.

So, I've been maintaining an online presence since... the 90s? The early 2000s? Back then I had a livejournal, because of course I did. Eventually I moved on over to blogger, and I've had this sporadically updated slice of the blogosphere since 2011.

We're closing in on 2016, and I decided to give this place a bit of a facelift. Tidy up some information, and perhaps most importantly... change the name.

'Walk Softly Witch' was taken from a pulp novel - something about it tickled me, and I loved the cover. I actually started doing burlesque when I was heavier than I am today - this was before my breast reduction surgery, and I remember feeling that to do burlesque you had to go full pin-up. There was a period where I would pin curl my hair every other night  and I actually wore colour sometimes. It didn't last, obviously, because goth is like a stylistic version of herpes.

But that's not really who I am anymore. People evolve, or at least get better about paring back the shit that isn't truly necessary to their enjoyment of life.

So, looking back on over a decade's worth of both blogging and magic, what's the constant?

Music.

And here we are.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Another Girl

I ave spent the past two weeks on a roller coaster of social activities, including two large scale holiday staff parties - one for the company I currently work for, and the other for the one I had recently finished at. (Both at the same venue, which was kind of funny.) I drank too much at the former but was relatively well behaved at the latter, and wound up with sore feet at both.

Outside of that, I attended a craft fair, had a meeting about the upcoming Comedy of Terrors show, went to see Nightmare Before Nutcracker, and had a very intense magical evening with a friend who has not been doing so well lately. For a hermit like me, that's a lot of socialising.

I'm pleased to say that on this stormy Saturday I am doing nothing. I've had my coffee, and shortly I will clean the house and then go get a sandwich from the bakery around the corner. The house is fairly clean - aside from some dishes I've been hoping will vanish into the ether - but it definitely needs a good psychic scrubbing. As I said, some pretty heavy magical work was done earlier in the week and it's best not to assume all of that emotional discharge took care of itself any better than my dishes have.

I don't do a lot of magical work with others. Including a person in ritual is different than doing a spell on their behalf, and requires more consideration. There are people who I know and love that I think would be very difficult to work with, not because they're assholes but because I think they would have a difficult time opening up.

Magic and ritual looks goofy. Combine that with the fact that you really only get out of it what you put in and you can see why the more cynical you are going in the less effective the whole thing is gonna be. Those of us filled to the brim with sarcasm, or those who are naturally skeptical or filled with doubt are prrrrobably better off working on their own shit alone so that the presence of others does not trigger performance anxiety.

Obviously my friend was not one of those people - she's a very artistic person who is very open with her emotions, and so the evening went off better than I could have hoped. But there's still the clean-up to do, especially with all the usual emotional drain December brings. No sense living like a filthy hamster when you know it will further zap you, no?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Black Celebration

November in Vancouver is guaranteed to be two things: wet and cold. Not the nostril-hair freezing cold of most of Canada, mind you - ours is a bone-deep dampness. It's a rotting-skeleton-at-the-bottom-of-the-ocean cold. The sun sets earlier and earlier, and the city raises more lights in defiance of the primal dark.

Bleak months ahead. I find myself looking forward to it.

Earlier this week, I was on the Coru Cathubodua website. I have been a follower of The Morrigan since I was a teenager - she was my first true experience with the divine. On 'The Morrigan's Call' page, the author(s) discuss what it means to be claimed by this particular goddess, and this in particular struck me:

"It means you yourself will be reshaped, and this can also be quite terrifying. But here is what She offers in return: She makes a weapon of you."

How sharp of a knife she's made me I really can't say - sometimes I feel pretty dull - but I can certainly attest to the fact that she is a force that will not allow you to remain static, even if it hurts. I would go so far as to say that if you cannot learn to breathe through the pain, your relationship with her will probably be short lived.

I figured out that I was going to die when I was ten. For the next three years I wanted nothing more than to become a stage magician.  So I suppose it's really not shocking that I am drawn to gods of death and magic. This also seems to mean that I am prone to attraction to difficult figures.


Last winter I told my sister I had a feeling I was being drawn to another such figure. And then, to be perfectly blunt, I put off doing anything about it because I was chickenshit. I didn't want any upheaval, and I did not feel like being remolded into someone else. After a rough few years, I just wanted to grow comfortable with my life again.

But, you know. Death and magic. I'm not a witch because it's comforting. I want to know things, before it's too late.

The sky is frigid ebony. Inside my beloved apartment it is cozy and safe. The cat is curled up in front of an electric fire, while a black candle warms the air with the smell of eucalyptus and sage. The next year is now set to be stable, financially. Spiritually, I doubt it will be so. Earlier in the week we had windstorms so severe that they contributed to the collapse of part of the seawall in Stanley Park; I had gone out jogging along the seawall like a fucking genius, and although I did not see anything destroyed I did get to witness waves smashing into the rocks and more lightning than I think I've ever seen before above the city. It would have been miserable if it wasn't so exhilarating. That is how I imagine the year might go.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Boo!

I can always spot a Lokean.

I don't know if it's just because I've known several over the years and so can see the warning signs, or that there's some kind of cosmic irony at work that a god of lies attracts people who are really obvious. Either way, it remains amusing as all hell.


Anyway. Here we are, in the month of October! Looking back it seems the last time I sat down to write was, oh, August. That's about right. I was working two contracts over the summer, and then once September hit it was all AbraCadaver preparation with a week's respite to take a vacation to New Orleans.

I haven't gone on an actual vacation in like, a decade? Voodoo and her boyfriend were preforming in the Burlesque festival, and my brother-from-another-mother Pete flew in all the way from England. Actually getting to the Big Easy was anything but - my sister got held at the border and so she and I missed our flight. Then they lost her luggage. The whole thing was one fuck-up after another, with Pete meanwhile also almost missing the trip on the other side of the ocean. Ultimately we all made it, and I feel we have exactly one god both to blame and to thank. All praise to Legba. In fact, the day after we landed priority number one was buying him rum and leaving it at a shrine that just happened to be a block from the hotel.

I have to pause to say that Voodoo's boyfriend is adorable. We're standing in a tourist liquor store, and he holds up the rum and shouts to my sister, "honey, is this ALL for sacrifice or do we get to drink some, too?"

Subtle.

Anyway, New Orleans is beautiful. Too fucking hot, but beautiful. Pete, Voodoo and I took a day to just do witch!shopping and hit every single shop we could find. We actually didn't wind up buying a lot - I bought some candles at Hex and then some oils and such from this weird hole in the wall place where customer service meant eventually stopping talking about catfish fishing to ring me up. Then the woman who owned the store and the catfisher - an old black dude - got into an argument about the woman's high priestess whom I apparently looked like. But the VanVan oil was well priced and clearly hand-made. I also got to see snakes in some other hole in the wall place, and got a map from a vampire on my last day.

We of course did a ghost tour, and a tour of St. Louis #1. Turns out you can't get into the latter without a licensed tour guide anymore, which was initially annoying but wound up being worth the money since our guide was quite good. Both tours we took through French Quarter Phantoms, because Henry on Last Podcast On the Left recommended them. You get two-for-one hurricanes with a ghost tour ticket, but I am here to say they are NOT worth it. I haven't had anything so disgusting to drink since that faux Irish pub that made 'Oscar Wildes', blech.


The LaLaurie house.
We saw the infamous LaLaurie mansion, which turned out to be a few blocks from our hotel. The guide claimed some tour goers had complained of things following them home after they walked under the house's awning, so Pete and I promptly ran underneath. Spookily enough, he and Voodoo and I all slept like shit that night. Voodoo felt something run into her bed, and her TV acted up right after.  OOOOooooOOOoooo.

Pete and Voodoo.
Anyway, the tours were great, the booze was plentiful, and I only got food poisoning once. Pete and I generally stuck together in the evenings so Voodoo and Arnt could go check out the jazz - we preferred to hang out in rock bars and some scuzzy punk dive where we decided that a beer and a shot for five bucks was a good idea. (Spoiler: it was not.) We hit the absinthe bar on the last night, where we blew the last of our American money on the expensive shit. As is usual, we talked variously about bullshit and metaphysics because that's how we roll.

Pete dancing with Ariel Helvetica.
I can't say I'd ever go back, but it was a wonderful trip. I returned home to realise "oh shit we only have a few weeks until the show" and so went into full panic mode over that.

AbraCadaver itself went off quite well. The ticket sales were great, and the show itself I feel was solid - we had some issues with the sound and volunteers, but nothing is ever perfect. My solo was botched from star to finish - the sweepers forgot my chair, and then my costume malfunctioned - but sometimes when things ALL go wrong you achieve a sort of zen and you just roll with it. Apparently that attitude worked since the feedback was all positive. I'm just happy that the opening number went so well - we had a fog geyser!

I'm still sick, although having Thanksgiving weekend to sleep has helped. I'm beginning to suspect I have some sort of chest infection because it is just NOT going away, so I need to call my doctor tomorrow and set up an appointment. But for now I'm sitting here as my dinner cooks, in a house I finally had time to clean.

Ah, yes, cleaning. Leading up to AbraCadaver the house was just a fucking mess, physically and to a lesser extent energetically. I'd come home from work and do show shit, then collapse. I'm shocked the cat didn't decide to just start shitting everywhere because it was such a sty. (Not really - she's too much of a lady.)

So I've spent much of the weekend cleaning and putting proper Halloween decor up. Tonight - the New Moon - the place is going to get a good deep cleanse too, because it is the Month of Spook. You gotta do your prep, no?

I hope to blog more this month too, as I have some crap rattling around in my brain I haven't had a chance to talk through with myself. We shall see.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mining the Vein

When you enjoy an artist of any kind, it is not uncommon that you go in search of their influences or related art.  In the process, you are exposed to more art and so your appreciation grows and your tastes broaden. My friend David calls this discovery process "mining the vein" and I had until today assumed it was something that literally everyone on the face of the planet does.

And then I discovered that two of my friends know nothing about David Bowie.

Okay, that's not fair - they know Labyrinth. But Space Oddity? Heroes? Life On Mars? Ziggy Fucking Stardust?!

Nope.

I'm not saying that everyone should love Bowie. You like what you like. But we're talking about some of the most influential and famous rock music in the western world, and the idea that these girls - who are seven years my junior - have not been exposed to it just blows my fucking hair back.

You look for shit similar to the shit that you love. In the days before the internet it was a little harder to trace influences, but you managed. Maybe your mother heard the cover and told you who sung the original, or your father laughed and corrected you when you asked if the Rolling Stones were dead. ("They just look that way." Thanks, Dad.) Or maybe you actually looked things up at the library. And then when we got the internet... Oh, goodness me. I remember terrible geocities pages listing goth bands that I could search for desperately at HMV and second-hand stores. There were lists of movies to see, books to read.

You found that vein and you mined it until you were exhausted, because those things never really dry up.

Even my magical practice comes from this impulse. Chaos magic in the pages of the Invisibles leads to Chaos Magic, which leads to a DisInfo guide which leads to the discovery of Rosaleen Norton.You just keep digging, and sure, you may not like everything you find and some of it is shit, but you just keep on going.

There's gold in them thar hills.