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May Misery (with a happy ending)

Posted in health

Content Warning: graphic description of a dental procedure

May was pretty horrible, in that I was in constant pain for four weeks. It started with a tooth on the bottom right side of my mouth, a pre-molar. I had broken it years ago and had a crown on it, but it hurt so I went to the dentist. He did a root canal on it. It still hurt. He sent me to an endodontist (root canal expert). Turned out it was a mutant tooth with two canals. So this tooth had two root canals on it in the span of a week.

But I was also having pain up into my sinuses, specifically the right side of my face next to my nose. It turned out that a top right molar was infected as well. Having it taken out was an… experience. It took two full hours to extract the tooth. The problem is that the infection was so bad that it made the procedure really difficult: besides all the pus, everything was super-sensitive. The dentist had to cut the tooth in two, then flush up into the roots and inject anesthesia there. He wound up cutting the tooth again, and 3 of the four pieces didn’t hurt but the one with the infected root made me start crying. And this was with a ton of anesthesia.

Finally, finally, it was done. It was sorta funny, though — I love my dentist, and his sister is the assistant, and the three of us were carrying on laughing and joking between attempts to get the tooth out. He and I hugged each other twice after the procedure was over with. He’s a good man, and he did his best by me. I cried again, after, from relief. And I am NOT a crier.

I would have been dead within the week from the infection, even with the antibiotics, if I hadn’t gotten that molar pulled when I did. He didn’t suture it, so the infection could drain. (He gave special stuff to swish with three times a day, too.) I’ve thought a lot over the past few weeks about how the infection would have killed me weeks ago in the days before antibiotics, and how much pain I would have been in.

Weirdly, I was hyper productive during that time. Mostly to distract myself from the neverending agony. I got some small web sites built, and got some spinning done. (I haven’t read any books since April, though. I couldn’t focus through the pain.)

I’ll be paying off dental bills for the next six months, but my mouth is fine now. I do take good care of my teeth; of the two problem ones, one was previously broken and the other (the top one) had a filling in it from when I was eight years old. Guess even good tooth hygiene can’t prevent every problem.

Visitations from a goddess

Posted in magick

The goddess Selene came to me in a dream in April, wanting me to worship her. It was startling, considering she’d never been on my radar before. I got sick immediately after (which I’ll talk about in a future post), so didn’t do anything about it until last week.

The first night I prayed to her, I was blessed with shockingly vivid dreams of people from my past, embracing me and telling me they loved me. (One is dead, the other is an ex I haven’t spoken to in years who I presume is still alive.) It felt so real. Like a gift.

Last night I prayed to her again before meditating. I entered a trance of sorts. Selene didn’t appear, but she made herself known through words and images popping into my head. She was a little irritated that I can’t offer her menstrual blood (I have an IUD, so no periods), and then instructed me to weave her a cloth and hang it over my bed and she would show me her generosity.

I knew immediately what it should look like. Non-weavers would think it was a tapestry, but it’s actually a technique called overshot. It will be the three visible phases of the moon — rather like the Triple Goddess symbol — outlined in one of the sacred Greek weaving borders (which I have on my computer already). I don’t even need to buy the supplies; I have black, white, and marbled gray wool already, and I need only spin them.

The cloth will be 9″ high by 18″ wide, black and gray on white. Spinning the yarn won’t take terribly long. I need to draw the design on graph paper. Shouldn’t take too long either. I have a spinning commission I have to do first, though. I hope she doesn’t mind a delay of a couple of weeks.

I’ve never had a deity take interest in me like this before. Normally I initiate contact, and am lucky if they interact with me. Selene started this. I’m honored and a bit baffled. Why me?

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.