Sunday, March 26, 2017
Because the universe is a bit random, divination methods have to be as well.
If you want that in more technical language, it is probably the embodiment of the principle of 'as above, so below'. The cards show the events of the invisble and material worlds, and because the unexpected can always happen, the cards have some surprises up their sleeves. What I specifically mean here, is that it would be very wrong to say, for example, that you have got at *the* meaning of a tarot card. Any divination method worth its salt will be able to jump up and surprise you with something completely unexpected. And this variance is found in the different ways of understanding tarot cards, which are all ultimately ways of assigning experiences or events to a particular card. It is also a common experience that particular understanding will come or go as the student is ready.
I was reminded of this when working a night shift recently. It was a very quiet night and my two colleagues and myself sat and I showed them some tarot cards on my phone. They had never even seen the cards before, and the only thing I told them was that they work by the reader projecting onto the card their own inner world so that the person's psychology is revealed by how they see the actual images. I was very interested to find that from a literally standing start both of them were absolute naturals, and in fact just by seeing how two people without preconceptions would see tarot cards, I actually learned a lot about what they can show. Of course it helped that the two people were intelligent and open to the idea of just describing a picture and making connections.
This little experiment reinforces the conviction I have had forever that it isn't really possible to be dogmatic about how to read the cards. In fact anyone can read them - as long as the deck is a pictorial one. In fact I have always suspected that the snobbery about the Marseille tarot is a way of keeping it in the hands of a clique of 'experts'. The major way of understanding the tarot cards for the past century has been looking at them and seeing what they show.
It is also very apparent to me that because so many people have had a go at creating maps of the universe over the centuries, different ones will come into play for an individual at different times. One I have previously tried to learn and actually did understand at one point, is the attribution of the tarot cards to the qabalistic Tree of Life. This is of course a venerable magical way of understanding the universe. My personal difficulty with it as it relates to tarot is that I always think the Majors should be on the sephiroth and the Minors on the paths, rather than the other way round, which always seems to me to imply that the Minors influence the Majors. The other major arguments about the Tree and the tarot (such as whether or not tsaddi is the Star - if you want to know about this one you really will have to look elsewhere on the internet) suggest to me that the Golden Dawn attempted to marry the tree and the tarot and there are a few problems.
They succeeded better with astrological correspondences - this is of course my personal opinion, and I think the reason they succeeeded better was that they actually moved the tarot round to fit the astrological signs. I don't have a problem with that, myself, since the point I started this post with was that divination systems have to be mutable to cope with the chaotic nature of the universe. I never got on well with this system, and in fact always found astrology rather implausible until two things happened. Don't get me wrong, the sort of free-form witch I am absorbs knowledge by conduction rather than anything else so that I am unlikely ever to internalise a complicated magical system, but astrology's worth was suddenly revealed to me. I have a friend who is a much more studious witch than me, and she commented to me that I don't seem at all like an Aries to her, much more like a Taurus. I swear I hadn't already told her this, but the fact is that I should have been a Taurus: I was born a month early. I simply couldn't wait to get out of my mother, and I wasn't receiving enough nourishment or developing properly so I was born at a bouncing 3lb 2oz and am a month older than I should be. My friend had correctly divined that actually I was functioning as if I was a different star sign, the one I should have been born under!
The other thing which brought home to me that there may be something about is a sudden conjunction between the astrological understanding of the tarot and my own understanding of the cards. I found among my notes on tarot, the cards attributed by the Golden Dawn to Leo, which is my mother's sign. Regular readers will know that my relationship with my mother is at best ambivalent and at worst totally conflictual, so it comes as no surprise to me what her birth sign's cards are (pictured). I can see my mother in those pictures clear as anything, in fact they look like a family album!
The astrological attributions of the cards have therefore become my current understanding of choice. Of course I may return to the qabala at some point and being me, reserve the right to understand the cards as I damn well please. Personally I find the Inappropriate Tarot tumblr very very revealing indeed, and am currently reading a book called Tarot for Grownups. The journey of tarot literally never ends, but the reader can find himself on different pathways as he goes along.
Thursday, March 16, 2017
I'm not good at waiting for things which can't be rushed. For Goddess' sake, I'm putting the drops in, why can't it get better now?
There is another aspect of having a wound (one which isn't really anyone's fault) - it requires its recipient to sit with the fact that sometimes these things just happen, something always difficult for someone as willful as me.
Some wounds of course are spoils of war. I personally keep souvenirs of several wars which gave me wounds. You may feel that this is the wrong attitude to take, but those people shouldn't have gone a-warring.
Visual wounds, of course, have particular associations. With criminals for a start, since you never see a pirate portrayed without an eye patch. Magically, of course, there is no such thing as being blinded, since we put so much effort into seeing in other ways. Also forced inactivity and sensory changes forces you to see in other ways.
But the main thing this opportunity has given me is the need not to be dramatic about it. It's getting better and if it doesn't completely recover I'll go back.
Plus when I rang work I chanced to get one of my colleagues who is a c#nt - I took great pleasure in going into stomach-churnung detail which plainly revolted her :-D
Saturday, March 11, 2017
Thursday, March 9, 2017
This year it is a book I have been nibbling at for some time already, My Father's Guru by Jeffrey Masson (the picture illustrates him with the said guru). The guru in question was a chap called Paul Brunton - I hadn't heard of him until the book's title caught my eye in a charity shop.
It tells the story of how his parents' relationship with the guru strongly influenced Masson's upbringing. In fact one of the crits on the cover describes it as the most peculiar upbringing imaginable. While I don't think that is necessarily true, for me the book is a strong portrait of how parents' more bizarre interests can fuck up the kids. Of course I can say that secure in the knowledge that I am never going to have children, so will never have to deal with the problem of telling them that their dad is a witch and while we know that's fine, the world outside may not be keen.
Masson's portrait of Brunton is not without its critics, as you would expect:
'Many well-respected people -- whom one simply can't pass off as easily duped -- hold a view of Paul Brunton so markedly at variance with the one created by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson in "My Father's Guru" (review, Feb. 7) as to cast significant doubt on the objectivity of Mr. Masson's memories and the conjectures based upon them.
'Library Journal, for example, described Brunton's posthumously published "Notebooks" as "vigorous, clear-minded and independent . . . a synthesis of Eastern mysticism and Western rationality." A review in Choice said that "his work can stand beside that of such East-West 'bridges' as Merton, Huxley, Suzuki, Watts and Radhakrishnan." The San Francisco Chronicle observed that "the meticulousness of [ Brunton's ] reading and interviewing, as well as his personal, inward application of that knowledge, reveals a genius for balance."' (http://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/14/books/l-my-father-s-guru-878893.html)
I don't really have an opinion on Brunton's character or philosophy, which seems to be the standard adaptation of Eastern ideas by a Westerner, but frankly I'm not impressed by that list of the Great and the Good who are bridges. I was so pleased when a deacon visited the monastery where I was a novice in my misspent youth and said of Merton, 'Imagine having that prick in the monastery'. And of course I'm never impressed by the Great and the Good or by gurus for that matter.
It has even come to my attention that there are even people who read this blog in the hope of learning something about witchcraft from me!
I like Masson. His only other book I have read is the one against psychotherapy, in which I thought he made the mistake of referring to abuses of psychotherapy to bolster his argument that the whole of psychotherapy is an abuse, while in fact very few psychotherapists use cattle prods. I think the guru book will always be open to criticism because it is the recollections of a teenage boy. Nonetheless the musings of a grown man on the nature of spiritualiry and sexuality and so on, are present. This book is a reflection rather than a biography. Masson is vegan and his more recent books are all about animals. If such is his Will, then so be it.
My reading of this book has come at the time of the downfall of two monastic turds I knew in my youth. One has been sent down for child abuse and perjury - I and others genuinely had no idea which probably indicates the great danger of the man. The other has not been caught breaking the law but is a shit of the first order, and this is now finally out in the media. These events and reading this book have reinforced for me how dangerous putting people on a pedestal can be and how turds seek protection in respectability.
That said I have a feeling that one of my present colleagues is a paedophile. I have no evidence, I just Know in the way witches do. I conferred with my Goddess mother who had exactly the same sensation, and I am really impressed with how extremely ill he has been looking since then. As it happens, the witches are the ones who make the difference in the world and I would hope that turds in our ranks are firmly prevented from harming.
Sunday, February 26, 2017
On the other hand, I'm a witch, and part of my stock in trade is rejoicing in the way funny things happen around me. I myself am the spell the universe has cast and I have to believe people meet me for a reason - usually to correct or balance something in the trajectory of their life.
Yesterday, for example, I saw a former colleague in Harborne. She was with her girlfriend, and since I liked her I would have gone to speak to her but couldn't stop myself giggling. You see, when I knew her, she liked men. Until her mother, who also worked there, took it upon herself to offend the Hound. I gave her the gypsy's warning to back off, but then she made the mistake of announcing in the office that she would die if a daughter of hers came out as a lesbian. I wasn't there when she said it, but the universe heard and of course it was fated.
Then this morning my novice master (from my misspent youth) rang and happened to mention that someone from Brum is thinking of joining his current community. I think even he was rather surprised that I knew all about this person and was able to tell him that and how he screwed me over. Silly boy shouldn't have done that to me - it turned out there was a matter of simple fact about himself which he hadn't told them!
My point here - apart from that it's nice in my INFJ way to use the information I squirrel away - is that these kind of things happen when you're a witch. Of course they also happen if you're not a witch, but since witches pay attention these events gain a greater importance for us than they do for muggles. I've deliberately avoided using the word karma, but I believe the purpose of our life is to get to the point where not one action or thought is not willed, and paying attention to these events is a way of getting there. The witch is the facilitator if this learning.
Friday, February 24, 2017
I went at this like a bull at a gate, applying for jobs I fancied and was eligible for. Don't get me wrong: I do feel rather bad because I've only been in my current job five minutes and they've been fair and nice to me. But the job I'm in won't stretch me and waiting for promotion there will be a case of dead men's shoes.
So I've wound up having three interviews very close together, and got offered the job I was interviewed for today. It is in a different one of our three UK employment 'sectors', one I've never worked in before so it will new in many ways, and the job title will look good on the CV.
I got this all on my own; my previous employers offered me an equivalent post just before I walked out - in my opinion as a quid pro quo because they treated me badly. But this job, on the other hand, I got on my own on the open market, and they were very keen to have my skills and experience.
Fuck you, Zippy.
Image credit https://www.thebalance.com/job-interview-question-how-would-you-describe-yourself-2064058
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
(This is a piece written in his book Good Money by George Selgin. My source for it is the Mises Institute Website at https://mises.org/library/ramble-round-old-birmingham#part3 . Selgin was most interested in Birmingham for its role in banking and manufacturing in the early nineteenth century. His account is most interesting for me, for the depiction of how different Birmingham was at that time. The streets he walked along hold no or few manufacturing nowadays! Nonethless it is an interesting ramble for the student of history. I am unable to account for why there are references of much later date than Selgin's writing, since the piece is presented as his own work and it is not stated that there are later interpolations: nonetheless it remains interesting.)
Birmingham, Brummagem, Bromwicham, Brymingham, Bermingeham…. Spell it or say it however you please, there is something queer about the place. Even before the canal boom, it managed to become England's preeminent industrial city, and was well on its way to becoming the "the workshop of the world." Yet it was located far from sources of the principal raw materials — especially copper and zinc — that most of its manufacturers relied upon; and transport was a problem, since it was also a good distance from any port or navigable river. The place didn't even have all that many streams capable of being reliable sources of power for its hammers and rolling mills.
How, under the circumstances, did Birmingham manage to attract and to breed such a disproportionate share of Great Britain's outstanding entrepreneurs, inventors, and skilled artisans? Why, in particular, did it — and not London or Bristol or Sheffield — become Great Britain's leading center for all kinds of metal work, including commercial coinage? Although numismatists have had plenty to say about the tokens and other numismatic products made there, they've had relatively little to say about the town itself, and the mints it nurtured.