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Location: Portland, Oregon

Otium cum Dignitatae

Monday, October 10, 2005

Fictive Warfare

It's ten years ago in Olympia, and Tremblay has a point he'd like to make.
"There's a fairy mound in (whatever) Park!", he's exclaiming. He's telling me that actual nature spirits pervade a small city park in Washington state's capitol.
I respond by saying, "They tend to leave me alone, because they know I don't believe in them." Nonetheless, I am fingering the cold iron ball on my hippie necklace. They also hate cold iron.
My statement there reminds me of the Sufi poet (name?) of the 1100's who said the famous line, "There is no God, and his messenger is Mohammed."
He was later put to death, of course, by the loving true believers, but that's not the point.
The point is that the nature of magic and all true belief falls into a category of willing blindness. I don't really believe in fairies, but I know that they are mean little bastards, so just in case, let's keep their little asses in check.
Ever hear of W.Y. Evans-Wentz? Of course you have: he was the first whitey to translate the Tibetan Book of the Dead into some language that us civilized folks over here can read. After this, he engaged in a somewhat more mysterious project.
In 1912 or so, he went all over the Celtic lands (everything from Brittany to the Isle of Man, and all points in between) and interviewed all these folks who believed in fairies the way you and I believe in Our Socks. The overwhelming consensus was that fairies are mean bastards who will sour your milk, give you dandelions and tell you it's gold, steal your child and leave a cold eyed changeling in its place...Nothing but bad. I found this pretty hilarious in the middle '90's when I found myself surrounded by yer well-meaning types who would put signs and stickers on their bikes and cars that said things like "This car guarded by fairies", or "Fairies watch over me".
Whenever I'd try to tell them that if they really had an ancestral belief in fairies, the last thing they'd expect is protection from them, the conversation would already have moved too deep, kinda like the "angel" thing most of America was also undergoing at the time.
After seeing a few too many cars claiming that the occupant of said gleaming death chariot was watched over by angels, and too many books of postcards featuring pre-Raphaelite paintings of angels, and middle-aged women everywhere (let's face it: this wasn't a marketing trend aimed at men ) starting up entire belief systems regarding these suspiciously baby-looking celestial beings, I decided that it was time again to whip out The Necronomicon.
That book has a long and varied provenance. Supposedly written by one Abdul Ahlzared (perhaps fictional, perhaps a mistranslation of al-Zahreed), "the Mad Arab" in sixth century Damascus, it is said to be the "book of the Black Earth", full of spells to raise demons from beyond.
Mind you, it is also more commonly said to be the work of H.P. Lovecraft, a horror novelist of the nineteenth century with a more than passing interest in Sumerian mythology. I later read a great deal of that mythos, and was stunned by the open theft of so many of the tales, albeit with different endings, as given by (whoever actually wrote the damn thing).
Before we go too far here, the joke was going to be; when the rest of America was going Angel crazy, which makes a lot of sense considering the degree to which we idealize our infants, I decided that I was going to make a big noise about having a guardian Demon. From the Necronomicon's "Book of Fifty Names", I selected Agaku, "who knows the thoughts of those around him at a distance". That was me anyway, demon or no demonic assistance. I can be looking at you from across the room and pretty accurately tell what you're thinking.
Thing is, I ordered the damn thing from Avon Paperbacks when I was in seventh grade, and a big fan of heavy metal music. Even at that age, I found it suspicious that a book of such dark reputation would be available from a major paperback distributor. Mind you, cheese evil will pervade unabated, and...
In the last section of the book, The Mad Arab starts to get scared of what he has called up, with his evil writings: "The sign of IGIGI hangs over my writing desk. The dogs in the street whisper my name (which no doubt would have sounded funny as hell)...Maybe this book will-"
And that's where it ends. My showing up at school carrying this book garnered me a reputation as an evil dude indeed, even though I had about as much belief in it as I had The Virgin Birth, or The Miracle of Transubstantiation. This unfortunately led to my being identified as the leader of a Satanic cult.
The only problem was, there really was a Satanic cult in Pendleton, and they had supposedly killed a man. To this day I'm not sure, but I was once shown the place where he supposedly had met his end, head bashed in on a handrail on a bridge, crossing McKay creek. I only found this odd "fact" about myself years later.
Fun fact about Sumerian mythology: they have a flood myth too, and their own Noah. His name was Ziusudra, but beyond there, the facts are roughly the same. This would have taken place a good five-hundred (at least) years before the writing of The Gospels.
Funny thing about Tremblay was, he was one of those people who was never comfortable having their picture taken, and so therefore was always doing things that would ensure that a decent picture of him was never to be took. My pal Ichabod had one and one only picture of the guy. He was looking pale as a ghost, flipping off the camera.
"Serves 'im right, don't it?", I asked upon seeing it.
And from that, one might take the impression that here was a pale, pasty ghost of a person who was always flipping people off while appearing listless. It was the nature of sympathetic magic working against him. He actually was a pretentious, quite lively sort, but all the photographic record would show is this resentful guy who looks like he can't stand to be alive. Now, the difference is, unless you knew him, you'd never know that, and the appearance was the same as Truth, if you didn't. I appeared to be a guy with an entree into the world of magic and demonology, but really I was a thirteen-year-old heavy metal fan with an Avon Paperback book in his bag that had arcane-looking symbols all over it.
The truth of the lesson was never lost on me. They look good? They lie, probably to make a quick buck. They look bad? They're fooling themselves, probably to get laid, probably unawares. They seem to have some sort of mystical cachet? They're crazy, or maybe...
My baby-mama and I were fond of taking in homeless people, in our first venture out into the world. One was Michael Cervantes, who kept consulting this book he had there.
When I was giving him a ride out to the freeway, he consulted his book (I never got a look at the title) and said, "No wonder you seem so familiar to me! I last met you in the Age of Cortes!" He also claimed that in the basement of The Vatican, there is a banner stolen from a temple in Guatemala, and when it is restored...The Age of Aquarius will dawn, or something. Or the birthing of the New Jerusalem, which was a central tenet of the belief system of...
Eli, who we had also taken in. He believed...Lots of things, but we really had taken him in so he could get a shower and a good meal.
He eventually pointed out to us that he was soon to head out to the coast, where he would burn several carvings he had done (and he was an exceptionally gifted wood carver), and put to an end the twenty years of "psychic warfare" he and his ex-wife had been engaged in, "stretching all up and down the West Coast", and involving the lives (and deaths) of Many People.
The funny thing is, after he told us that one, he was never to be heard from again. He had said that perhaps the ritual would not be successful, and he might not come back. His whereabouts are a mystery to me, to this day.
But this is the central tenet of all magic: you believe in it, or you don't. As the comic book character I've spoken of before, John Constantine once put it, it's like stepping off the curb into the street. That simple, and that dangerous. I too have engaged in psychic warfare (without any belief in any New Jerusalem to come, or Angels, or Demons), and know that it succeeds because no one sees it coming. You can fool people with the right combination of words, if delivered properly, each and every time. You can also do things like leave a little bit of you (an object, say) behind, and have it do the magic for you, and you end up owning their ass, whether they choose to believe it or not.
As I've said, I try not to engage in such things these days, and if I use my knowledge of the proper manipulation of people, it's for Good. But I also sometimes want to talk a little shit to those who only have the trappings.
If I see some schmuck with a pentagram necklace who wants to be taken as a serious Mage, or Warlock, or what have you, I always want to say, "Have you ever found yourself spinning a web without realizing that you're doing it? Like it's just you living your life, and the ramifications form themselves around you? Then come talk to me."
It's not a question of incantations and spells. It's saying the right (or wrong) thing at the right (or wrong) time, and you not thinking about it, so much, since it's still just You, living Your Life. If it was any other way, it would be impure, and would subject you to the first law of witchcraft:
That which you do will come back to you, threefold.



Blogger rich bachelor said...

And as a private aside to Jacq- his last name really was Tremblay: that wasn't me trying to mess with anyone's head.
The quoting of the first law of witchcraft: That Was.

1:59 AM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

Whoops. Shit.
That second item wasn't me messing with you, either. That was me reminding a few others in the blogoshop of a point worth considering.

2:01 AM  
Blogger Jacq said...

Oh, I figured that since you are positioned in the part of the country that is heading up towards Canada way, that there would be SOMEONE with that name. It is very rare, however, that name. As a matter of fact, there are quite of few ladies in Quebec with my exact name. Of course, when you look at my monstrously LONG, hyphenated middle name, you'd definitely have a different person altogether.

Just remember, I am not always thinking the other person is referring to me, unless they say, HEY YOU, to which I'd reply in my best Robert Deniro, "HEY, R U TALKIN TO ME?" heh heh

5:41 AM  
Blogger Jacq said...

Another excellent, well articulated post. SIGH

5:42 AM  
Blogger Jacq said...

Oh, I did some thinking about the reference you were referring to. To clarify: I am not remotely or in any way like a fairy, in size shape or attitude. And with regard to the "mound," don't have that, either.

5:45 AM  
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10:09 AM  
Blogger Erudite Redneck said...

Check this out: The mound of which Lovecraft writes is, appropriately called Ghost Mound. Hairs stood up on the back of my neck when Dr. ER and I drove by it a couple of years ago. (Not even really close; it's a fur piece off the highway). Then, when I stumbled across this story my whole dang red neck like to flew off!


10:52 AM  
Blogger rich bachelor said...

Oh man-that is great.

2:34 PM  
Blogger Jacq said...

Hey Doggie Wear...

In all seriousness, I'll refer my aunt to you. She's always dressing up her dogs in those ridiculous outfits for Halloween. I think the sweaters are cool, no offense at all to you, but my aunt really takes it above and beyond. Last Halloween, she and her Min Pin dressed up as SKUNKS. This shit is too funny to be made up, I promise you.

5:32 AM  

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