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


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?"


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?!


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.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Questions. Answers.

So I found this YouTube based quiz on Veles' blog, but I didn't give a shit about a lot of the questions and decided to just answer the fun ones.

7. What is your favorite magical tool?

The knife. Which is sort of funny, because I almost got rid of it several years ago. See, I was scaling back on a lot of stuff before I moved briefly to Ireland, and was also at a point where a lot of the stuff I had been into when I was younger seemed sort of silly. So I had this big old blade I'd bought from the House of Knives that seemed a bit too Ren Faire - I wished I'd held on to the much smaller black handled knife I'd bought instead, that would be soooo much more authentic, man. 

But you know, I kinda love it now.

8. What is a song or type of music that gets you into a witchy mood?

There's a lot so I'll give quick examples. 
Dead Can Dance type stuff. DCD and This Mortal Coil were bands I discovered around age fourteen or fifteen (on cassette!) which was about when I also started studying witchcraft. 
Fleetwood Mac.  Does this legit need explaining?
Beside You In Time by NIN. Back when I was playing with a lot of chaos magic I had this album on repeat a lot. I figured out how to do the LBRP to this song. 
Anything that sounds like the soundtrack for a 1970s devil movie. Ghost BC, Blood Ceremony, Black Widow, Goblin... fuck even like, Donovon.

When I first learned about sigil magic, I used to make sigils before we'd go out to the goth club and then fire them on the dance floor. Music is a really important part of my practice, and indeed just my life. 

16. What was your first homemade tool for your practice?

It was an altar that was a cardboard box I painted black and then painted a silver pentagram on. I kept it in my closet and we took it outside once and then the neighbours thought we were devil worshippers. Ah, the 90s.

40. Who is a past witch that has inspired you ,famous or not?

Rosaleen Norton.

41. How do you handle rejection from a fellow witch that refuses to do a reading or spell for you?

I find this question hilarious because it makes me picture like, high-school level meltdowns. "Tiffany won't cast a spell for me! THAT BITCH!"

56. What fictional witch book/screen inspired you the most?

The first were the witches in fairy stories, and then a bit later Morgan leFay in the Arthur myths. As a teenager? Nancy Downs. It might have ended badly for poor Nancy, but that bitch was the only one of the coven working on her own. She had the drive. And of course my sister and I intend to wind up as the Aunts in Practical Magic

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Belated Spring Cleaning

I have a friend who jokes that my apartment is haunted by a demon monk.

Let me back up - I have a friend who is a practising hedgewitch. She spent the night here once when she was blitzed out of her gourd on Absinthe (I am a good hostess with pretentious tastes) and as she lay on the couch, about to pass out, she told me she could heard some sort of chanting.

A few days later I sent her a clip of the LBRP and asked if that was what she'd heard. She said that yes, it sounded an awful lot like that although surely it was just my neighbours practising tonal singing at two in the goddamn morning.  I said uh huh, sure, and concluded that a likely explanation was a psychic echo - I'd just done the LBRP and the Rose Cross Ritual the day prior. I advanced my theory, and my friend insisted that she "wasn't psychic" and so decided that instead it was more likely that the home I've lived in for years without incident has a demon monk in the walls that I somehow never noticed.

Now, this IS a joke. But it was a joke that just happened to annoy me over time, because I pride myself on keeping a clean home. My natural paranoia coupled with a week-long case of emotional malaise, this wonderful article, and then this one as well, and I was well and truly ready to psychically carpet bomb the apartment.

Which is what I proceeded to do. Just to be on the safe side.

Apparently my paranoia.
After the smoke had cleared, the apartment definitely felt secure. But it also felt off somehow. A few days passed, and the feeling persisted so I invited my sister over, telling her to bring her cards. She obliged and with their help articulated what it was that was throwing me - the house was safe, but it was also sterile.

Like a complete dumbass, I'd bleached out all the spiritual energy of the house.

The solution was simply to re-cultivate the vibe I wanted, so it's not like it took a lot of additional work, but it was definitely  a good reminder that being over zealous can cost you. Focus too much on the potential spooks and you could wind up buggering the good shit, too.

Speaking of spooks and buggering...

The local Chapters is closing (sad) and so a bunch of the shittier books are on sale half price. That means I picked up a copy of "Fighting Malevolent Spirits: A Demonologist's Darkest Encounters" by Samantha E. Harris. I finished it today as I lounged on the couch with the cat, and hooooooooooooly balls is it terrible. The stories themselves are not particularly outrageous - it's typical Amityville/ghost show shit - but the writing is extremely poor, with words used improperly and sentences that occasionally don't make sense.

There was one story in the book, however, about a succubus/incubus - it apparently gender swapped at will - that was fucking a couple and some poor teenager. I'm certain that if it was legit it was utterly terrifying, but sadly all I could think of was Ghost, Alien or Molested?, further proving that I'm a terrible human being. Ah well, we all knew that already.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Fictional Works that Changed My Religious and Magical Beliefs.

Saw this on Veles' blog, and I figured I'd do it myself. I've been bad for writing lately, and it's a good prompt.

In the order that I remember reading them:

Grimm's Fairy Tales. I remember this old paperback because several of the stories were older versions and so did not align with the Disney movies I'd seen. Ashputtel, Mother Holle (which was also the first place I read the word 'slut'), and the Juniper Tree all nestled side by side, with witches and talking animals galore.

Greek myths in a set of encyclopedias . My sister and I are apparently unusual in that we were raised in a truly secular household - prior to my parents' divorce, I think we went to church with my Grandmother exactly once at Thanksgiving. In our bedroom we had a set of ancient encyclopedias, and I read and re-read the myths about a million times. 'God' was a vague concept; the gods were people.

Pet Semetary by Stephen King. I read this in grade four, and it crashed the concept of death into my brain. Never did get over it.

Some Fucking Book. I've been sitting here googling for twenty minutes now trying to remember what the everloving hell this book was, but no dice. I DO remember for grade eight or nine we read some book where there was a world these people went to where magical society had been divided along gender lines. The women were associated with circles and I think the earth, and the men with straight lines and fire or some shit. I remember this because as a project we had to make games based on the book and I made some bullshit card game because I was good at drawing and used this as an excuse to draw people murdering the fuck out of one another with magic. (I relied heavily on my mom's Conan comics for help.) Anyway, I remember thinking the male magicians were self righteous pricks. (I also suspect this was not the main part of the story. Seriously if anyone remembers this please tell me what the crap I was reading.)

The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger by Stephen King. This is going to be a weird one to explain, I think. This was the original cut of the novel, which I picked up secondhand at a used bookstore in downtown Abbotsford. It's not a long book, and I started reading it on the bus ride home. It was early summer, so it was hot out. My bus stop was up a side road - I would get off and walk down a fairly quiet street for a few blocks before I hit the main drag, which I would cross and then continue into the less affluent residential area where our apartment was. I got off at my stop and kept reading as I walked to the main road because I just could NOT put the fucking book down. The first Dark Tower, especially before King re-edited it to make it fit the later books better, is a tale of utterly desolate magic. It's not hopeful.

Dave McKean
Sandman by Neil Gaiman. If you can't see why then you've clearly never read any of it.

I'm going to pause here to say that a LOT of Vertigo titles were inspirational to me as a teenager, even though at the time I used to get them via single secondhand issues. I hardly ever knew what was going on, but there was Constantine fighting demons, Timothy Hunter bitching about fairies, and Jesse Custer hunting down God the Almighty. This was all pretty anarchic shit to a girl now stuck in the Bible Belt.

The Diana Tregarde Novels by Mercedes Lackey. I had some online friends who tirelessly recommended fantasy novels to me, and although I tried several of them it just never clicked. The Tregarde novels, however, were set in the real world. I look back at the pseudo-history of Wicca included in the books now and I chuckle, but at the time Diana was sort of heroine I needed to read about.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman. A friend told me to read the book - "you're in it," she said. It remains one of my all-time favourite novels, and one of my all-time favourite depictions of Thoth and Anubis.

The Invisibles by Grant Morrison. This was one Vertigo title I'd missed when it was being published. I actually found the Barbelith forums before I read the books. I blame Pete for this one. Chaos magic used to be really sexy, you guys. ...even if it was still pretty goddamn phallocentric.

 I think that everything we read becomes part of our mental compost heap, but these are certainly the titles that stick out as having had a conscious influence on me as a witch.