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The universe is amazing.

Posted in Media

I was listening to an episode of This Podcast Will Kill You earlier today about chytrid. It’s a fungus that has killed off 6% of frog species worldwide. It’s horrible. And at the same time, it’s amazing. Because it’s a tiny fungus that can swim. And when it senses a frog nearby, it changes directions and swims straight for the frog. A fungus. That’s motile and can sense prey. (It then bores into the side of the frog and eventually kills it.)

I just laid there for a while (I was in bed, as my second covid shot is kicking my butt a little) and felt this awe and reverence for nature. Because holy fuck that’s weird and mysterious and a bit humbling, that this thing exists and humans have no idea how it works.

I hope I don’t come off like the Insane Clown Posse talking about magnets. Biology is full of crazy shit we don’t understand. You want to be blown away by how strange and interesting reality is? Pick up a book on biology, or find a good podcast about it. Life is really fucking weird.

Weird moods.

Posted in brain fun, and Mental Illness

I’ve been all over the place, the last few days. Emotionally speaking, that is; I’ve only left the house to pick up groceries. On the one hand, I got a WordPress consulting job I did over the weekend. I really liked my client, she was easy to work with, and she’s planning to hire me again in a few weeks for some small edits to her site once she has more content to post. I also got about 12 ounces spun of my current spinning commission, and am almost done with that. So I’ve been productive and happy about that. I enjoyed all the work immensely.

But in the quiet moments, I’ve been depressed. Depressed about my weight, my debts, the point of existing. Not that I’m suicidal or anything; rather, I’ve just been trying to convince myself that I have worth. This fucking capitalist society makes me feel worthless for not being able to hold a steady job. I know, logically, that that is bullshit, and my life has value outside of that. But to me it’s not about the money, it’s about being a consistent person.

I cannot do the same thing every day for eight hours, five days a week. My energy levels simply aren’t stable enough for that. Because I’m chronically ill, and it’s so fucking hard to accept that even with my intelligence and creativity, I’m so very limited. I’ve been trying to accept it for 20 years now. I get a little healthier, try to achieve something, crash, fail, repeat. I’m not going to try school this summer. I was going to take trig, but I don’t think I can. Which crushes me. Learning calculus is one of those things I’ve wanted to do for decades but either haven’t gotten the chance or else haven’t been healthy enough for.

My therapist says it’s cruel to raise kids believing they can be anything they want, do anything if they’re smart enough. There are so many memes about us burned-out gifted kids who feel we didn’t live up to our potential. A dash of realism would have been nice, not that I’m mad at my parents about it. They really believed I could do anything. They never thought mental illness would be an issue, much less a stumbling block that would affect my entire adult life.

A new online friend was surprised that I feel pointless. She says I’m always doing something, crafting or writing or programming or reading something educational. She had a point. And I regularly help my family and friends in any ways I can, so I’m definitely making at least a few lives better.

I miss being able to donate blood. My elbows are too fucked up. I need to exercise more, do some weights or bodyweight exercises. I feel myself losing some of my strength, and it scares me, but not enough that I’ve done anything about it yet. Another thing I’m depressed about.

Ugh. I’ll stop whining and go spin. At least I can read while I do it, and distract myself from this funk…

Daimonic Reality

Posted in books, and magick

Notes on Patrick Harpur’s Daimonic Reality, jotted down here as I read.

The discussion of the Neoplatonic “personal daimon” — a spirit that is both part of a person and active in the outside world — reminds me a great deal of Crowley’s “Holy Guardian Angel”. Also, in some traditions there’s the notion that each of us contains part of “God” or some higher connection; would the personal daimon be the Godhead, or is that another facet of a human?

Harpur’s talked some about mental illness and relationships to the daimonic. All I can think about is my OCD; while I don’t suffer symptoms any more, when I’m unmedicated I (and everyone else with the illness) have “intrusive thoughts” — thoughts that feel like they’re not coming from our Self. It’s not hearing voices. It’s thinking things that “I” would definitely not think. For people with OCD, those thoughts are often socially inappropriate or even shameful, and we don’t want to talk about them for fear people will think we really believe those things. It’s a huge source of stress.

Most people think of OCD as the compulsions. The stereotype is germphobic, extreme handwashing or cleaning. I have some of those (when unmedicated), but by far the worst is the obsessions/intrusive thoughts. The compulsions are a symptom of the obsessions. “My baby will die if I don’t knock on the counter three times every time I enter the kitchen” kind of thing. (Not one of mine, I don’t have kids.) The obsession is about the baby’s death, and the intrusive thoughts might be mental images of the baby’s corpse, or worse, “alien” thoughts about killing the baby. The person would of course be horrified by this.

So, to bring Harpur back into it, would he see intrusive thoughts as coming from a broken connection between the Self and the personal daimon? Maybe he’ll bring it up as I read.

The idea of believing something is metaphorically real but not literally real is a hard concept to wrap my mind around. I need to sit down interrupted and meditate on it for a bit.

I find myself wanting to experience the shamanic initiation, or an external quest as described in the book. Yet I need to be careful what I wish for. I’m too prone to madness as it is. I’m not certain I could return to myself safely. But still, I crave it.

I am a very vivid dreamer, but I don’t have what Harpur refers to as “big dreams”. They usually don’t say anything very deep. I’d prefer quality to quantity… On the other hand, I recently started lucid dreaming, and that’s something I need to explore further…

Final notes: excellent book, definitely recommended. I realize this isn’t very coherent to anyone who hasn’t read the book. Maybe I’ll review it properly at some point…

Another step on the path

Posted in books, and magick

I had another mini-epiphany while reading John Higgs’ book on the KLF. Higgs talked a lot about what Alan Moore calls the Ideaspace. Ideas are as real as reality, the theory goes. I’m typing this on a laptop. The laptop exists because someone had an idea for it. The couch I sit on was also just an idea, once. Everything humans have ever created came from ideas. Ideas, therefore, must be real. Not in the same way this sofa is real, but if the idea had never existed then there would be no sofas.

Moore’s Ideaspace has a lot in common with Plato’s realm of forms. Which I always thought was bunk. I don’t think, as Plato did, that the physical world isn’t the real world. I think perhaps Ideaspace and Jung’s collective unconscious are facets of reality, just as the physical is a facet.

After all, science can’t measure a thought. It can watch my brain light up when I think the thought, but it can’t see the thought. But I can share that thought with others. I can manipulate the thought inside my own head, and think about the thought. The thought is real. And now I’ve written the word “thought” enough times that it no longer looks real. Gotta love semantic fatigue. (And love the fact that the phenomenon has a name!)

And I’m sure I sound so amateur and basic when I discuss these things, because I’m taking baby steps along a path many others have tread. I don’t know where the path will lead. I’m not sure Enlightenment is really a thing. But I do feel myself changing and growing as I read, and I adore it.


Posted in transgender stuff

I came out as genderqueer over nine years ago. And today was the first time I’ve ever anyone talk about me and use my correct pronouns (they/them) with no hesitation. Tommie Kelly and his friend Spud were discussing my Discord bots on the new episode of their podcast, and Tommie referred to me as “they” like it was the most natural thing in the world.

Do you know how fucking weird and validating and wonderful that was? Most people who try hesitate. I can see them mentally reminding themselves, and it comes out like I’ve asked them to call me Godzilla or something. Like it’s unnatural. Even with people who didn’t meet me until after I came out.

Of course, lots of people don’t even bother trying. “That’s too awkward,” they say. I apologize and tell them it’s okay to use “she”, and from that point on I cringe every time they refer to me. Not only because it’s wrong, but because I didn’t stand up for myself.

(This includes some of my dearest friends, by the way. Who call me “she” even though I hate it. I’m not bitching behind their backs, I’ve told them, and I share these posts with my friends after I write them. I’ve talked about it on Facebook, too, not that it helped.)

I should stand up for myself more, I really should. I just hate being disappointed. Like, a number of people abbreviate my first name. I hate that too. My name has two syllables. It’s not that hard to say both of them. But it keeps happening. I wind up resenting the people. And life is too short to be angry at one’s friends/loved ones over stupid shit.

Of course, Tommie’s never heard my voice, either. Which is pretty feminine. Lots of people start calling me “she” when they hear me talk. Why does androgyny have to be “mostly masculine” in this culture? I’m not about to start talking in a deeper voice just to pass. I don’t care if waitresses or librarians know I’m trans, but for fuck’s sake, my friends and family know and have for years. They’re the only people who matter to me. Why can’t they get it right?

A month of change

Posted in getting shit done, and magick

In the last month, my life has changed drastically. Maybe not by looking at it from the outside; I still spend most of my time sitting in my apartment, on my computer or spinning or reading. But what I’m doing has changed. A month ago I was complaining that I had nothing productive to do. Now I have almost too much.

  1. Building/fixing web sites
  2. Spinning commissions
  3. Volunteer gig
  4. Learning to build phone apps
  5. Learning to build WordPress plugins
  6. Writing my own original material

That’s a lot, at least for me. Some of those things, like the volunteer gig, have been ongoing for a while. But the writing is new. In the last month I’ve written a few Discord bots that have gotten popular, at least with certain demographics. (One of them is on over 150 servers so far!) I’ve written a graphic novel. I’ve made some new online friends. It’s been a busy month by my standards.

I credit all this to getting back into magick. The timing is interesting; a lot of this started when I began a 40-day sigil challenge 35 days ago. So I’m doing something spooky on a daily basis, which seems good for me. I’ll have to find a way to keep it up after the challenge is done!

The Jung and the restless

Posted in books

Forgive me for the title, but I needed a laugh. I’m reading Jung’s Modern Man in Search of a Soul, and it’s depressing me terribly.

My degree is in psychology. I’ve always loved the subject. But seeing how far we (haven’t) come since Jung wrote this in 1931 is soul-crushing for someone in love with the field. Because, in a lot of ways, psychology hasn’t been very useful at all.

I’m not talking about therapy. Therapy is awesome and amazing and has helped millions of people in the last hundred years. I mean experimental psych. Oh, sure, we’ve learned plenty of weird tics and foibles of the human mind. But acknowledging a thing is very different than knowing why the thing happens. We don’t know why for hardly anything.

And many of those things we’ve found aren’t as universal as researchers would like to think. Most experiments have used white, cishet, middle to upper class subjects, often college students. Try to apply them to other demographics and other cultures, and they fail.

Additionally, many studies can’t be reproduced. It’s a big problem in the field.

Jung is depressing me by pointing out the truth. For years, my dream has been to get a PhD in statistics so I can help experimental psychologists design better experiments. I find myself thinking there’s no point to that. Experimental psych is too flawed. Why work that hard when it’s not going to make much difference?

Honestly, at this point I’m not sure what to focus on. I have a lot of balls in the air, but I don’t know yet which ones are the most important to me…

The Infinite Self and the sacred

Posted in books, and magick

I finished Stuart Wilde’s’s Infinite Self today. And I had a wonderful experience this afternoon while reading. Wilde was talking about making life sacred, and I started thinking, well, nothing is sacred. No object, no person, no idea.

Suddenly I was overwhelmed by the realization that everything is sacred. Existence itself is sacred. Not that I think Hitler is sacred, but the fact that we’re born and can choose to be Hitler or Mister Rogers or anyone in between? That’s sacred.

Obviously this is a realization many people have had over the millennia. I’m not the first to feel this. But the emotional awareness was so deep, so intense, that I had to put my book down and close my eyes and just sit with the feeling for a long time.

Eventually my cat interrupted, because he is Eris and he’s very good at being an Eris. I just smiled at him. He’s a brat, but he’s sacred too.

I’m still feeling echoes of this a couple of hours later. I hope it lasts. Feeling it feels good, and there’s a particular joy in being humbled before the universe.

Thanks, Mr. Wilde.

Echo chambers and critical thinking

Posted in books, and magick

Lately I’ve been reading a ton of new-to-me authors. Books about philosophy and spirituality. I read a lot anyway, but my current selections have required a lot of deep thinking and critical thought.

I love it. Normally I read history or science, books where I am taking in facts written by an expert (or someone who has interviewed experts for the book). I don’t analyze them too much, just enjoy them. So flexing my mental muscles so much is delightful. I can almost feel my neurons lighting up with connections as I read and think. It’s glorious.

(And I’m thinking about doing a book blog. I used to, ages ago. Might resurrect that.)

I was talking to someone this morning about Jordan Peterson. I asked why he listened to the man, when he’s against trans rights. My acquaintance said he tries to listen to people whom he doesn’t agree with, and often finds value in some of their work even if he doesn’t like the person. And it got me thinking.

On the internet, it’s really easy to get trapped in an echo chamber. It’s also easy to write off someone’s work completely if they say one problematic thing. I think my acquaintance is right; it’s more nuanced than that. Someone can be both great and terrible, and you can learn from the good parts even while acknowledging the bad.

For example, I’m currently reading Stuart Wilde’s Infinite Self. It’s a roller coaster of reactions. About 70% of what he says is worth listening to, and he makes some good points about ways to approach spirituality. But he also believes we shouldn’t help those worse off than us, because it would be interrupting their spiritual journey. And that there is no such thing as a truly innocent victim. It’s repugnant.

But I am reading every sentence with more awareness than I normally have, because I want to take in the good ideas and make use of them. I can separate the wheat from the chaff as I go, and appreciate a great idea when I see one. I’m also not getting angry about the things I don’t like. I’m analyzing, not getting overly emotional about it.

That said, I have no desire to financially support someone who is, like Peterson, transphobic. I will not buy his books (if he has any; I’ve only heard of him making YouTube videos, but I imagine there are books somewhere), I will get them through the library or borrow from friends. I suspect it’s a fine line to walk.

I’m going through a period of great personal growth right now, I think. Taking in new ideas, tasting them to see if they’re congruous with my personality and worldview, and incorporating the ones that pass muster. I’m also learning to speak up for myself more. I attempted to read Alan Chapman’s Baptist Head trilogy last week, and when it wasn’t to my tastes I bluntly said so to the people who suggested I read it. I was polite, but explained my reasoning. It was accepted and we all moved on. Even last year, I would have made some bland but positive comment about the book and then quickly changed the subject because I was afraid of making people angry when I dissented. So that’s growth, too.

This journey I unwittingly started on a month ago is taking me to new and wonderful places. Stay tuned.

A Secondhand Anecdote

Posted in family

My eighteen year old nephew drives for a restaurant delivery company. He told me this story this week, and I asked if I could share because it’s adorable and wholesome.

He got an order for a made-to-order burrito chain restaurant: two kids meals, and nothing else. A little strange, but he picked up the order and drove it to its customer.

The house was large and fancy, and had a smart doorbell. My nephew pushed the button.

“Hello?” a male voice said.

“Hi. I’m from the delivery company. I have your order.”

The man shouted. “Goddammit, Marla, stop giving the kids the password!”

The sound of feet clomping down the stairs followed.

The door opened. Two girls, twins, about six years old, excitedly took their kids meals from my nephew.

And this, my friends, is why you should stop giving the kids the password.