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Permission to heal

A lot of people new to the use of magic are very interested in the ethics of what is and is not allowed. It seems to me, though, that these questions are often a way of glossing over other, more important, issues.

Someone asked me the other day, “Under what circumstances is it ethical to do a healing spell without permission?” A question like that envisions a universe in which there are XYZ allowed circumstances, and ABC disallowed circumstances. A rulebook.

Now, I could say “there is no rulebook,” or I could approximate the rulebook, and give you an extensive list of hypotheticals, but all of that is beside the point. There are other, more important questions to ask before we even get into a bunch of ethical what-ifs.

Why don’t you have permission? If it’s someone you aren’t comfortable communicating with, why are you doing magic for them? Is your magical connection going to be effective if you can’t even have a conversation with them? How much can you even know about the illness if you haven’t discussed healing it? If you don’t have permission because they disapprove of magic, isn’t that something of a barrier to your work? Won’t you be thinking about that disapproval while you work?

Under most circumstances, in the absence of other information, it is ethical to assume that people want to be well. Absent a DNR (Do Not Resucitate order), medical professionals assume that an unconscious patient would wish to be resucitated. In other words, you don’t need a Do Resucitate order, because that’s the default.

But chances are, you’re not talking about doing magic in an Emergency Room. You’re probably talking about a chronic or active but non-emergent condition. And in that case, your question shouldn’t be ethical at all; it should be practical and interpersonal.

Before healing, what you want to know is, who is this person? What is our connection? What is this illness? Securing permission is one way to answer all these questions. A problem securing permission could indicate a problem in knowing what needs to be known in order to be an effective healer.

Filling in the “the”s

On the surface, I’m doing an acrostic puzzle. But really, I’m with Nana.

The acrostic is in a Simon & Schuster spiral bound book of “Crostic” puzzles edited by Thomas Middleton. I am doing this puzzle at the kitchen table, but the binding and the flat, hard cardboard cover make it easy to sit in bed and do these puzzles on my knees.

Like Nana did.

When Nana would come to stay with us, she would have a suitcase full of mysteries and Middleton Crostics. She would read and do puzzles. She used sharp pencils, deadly, blood-drawing sharp pencils, always long. She never seemed to have stubby pencils. And I would get in bed with her, and she would teach me how to do the puzzles. » Read more..

Toddler religion

I saw a bumpersticker tonight that said

The Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Wisdom

…and I thought, Wow, that’s just about everything that’s wrong with religion today.*
Now, this quote probably originates in an older meaning of “fear.” Something more like “awe” was probably intended. And indeed, awe can be the beginning of wisdom. The left hand of awe is humility; the understanding that there are things we cannot understand, things greater than us, and that our answers are not the be all end all of answers.

But y’know, I think that’s not what the mini-van driver meant by it.

Fear of the Lord drives the kind of religious thought that is based in obedience. Doing what God wants and avoiding what God objects to. Because of the fear. Because you might get your ass spiritually kicked. “I’ll be good, God! Don’t kick my humble ass! PUH-LEEZE!”
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Things that happen to pressure cookers

Here’s my take on the whole Foley thing: It’s not a coincidence.

It’s not a bizarre coincidence that the co-chair of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children is also a pedophile. And it’s not just a coincidence that it’s mostly (not exclusively, but mostly, and by an impressive margin) Conservatives who are being knocked down like tenpins by sex scandals. Yeah, part of it is that power corrupts, and the consolidation of power that has increased dramatically in Washington these past five years has been massively corrupting, particularly of Conservatives.

But it’s not just that. It’s that it’s built into the system.

When you suppress, suppress, suppress, you create a pressure cooker. Pressure cookers only do the one thing, yet everyone is all suprised by the explosion. In terms of psychology, you generally only suppresssuppresssuppress when you have something serious that needs suppressing, and you generally only blame everyone else for being a perv when you need to avoid blaming yourself. It’s called “projection.” Look it up.

These Conservative freaks with their constant and intense fascination with Teh Gay and Teh Sex and Teh Dildoes, who want to make laws about my bedroom and yours, my marriage and yours, my orgasm and yours, what do you think is on their minds? This morning, while I was deciding if I should go back to using an alarm clock, and thinking about a writing project, and making coffee, and thinking about t-shirts (I swear by the Goddess, I was thinking about t-shirts), the Foleys and Dawn Edens and Santorums and Fred Phelpses of the world were thinking about gay gay naughty gay sex with boys how naughty how gay I must write a column to denounce that oh look I have a woody.

That’s how it works.

Two things: (1) If you’re a sick motherfucker, you have a higher tendency to denounce everyone else for being a sick motherfucker. (2) If you have natural, normal urges, ’cause you’re, lemme think…human, that you suppresssuppresssuppress, those urges, when inevitably expressed, won’t be expressed in the nice, normal way they started.

I’ve written about this before. Suppression is not only a bad model, but it’s had a good long test run, and people should have figured out by now that it’s not working.

Monday Movie Review: The Long Riders, the Wild West, and Whores, Whores, Whores

The Long Riders (1980) 7/10
Jesse and Frank James (James and Stacy Keach) ride with the Younger brothers (David, Keith, and Robert Carradine) and Clell Miller (Randy Quaid), robbing banks and being pursued by the Pinkertons.

The Long Riders
is stylish and earthy. It feels authentic and sticks fairly close to history. It is a sweeping celebration of outlaw machismo, a pure boy sort of experience. This movie is so obsessed with the idea of brothers—real brothers—that the fourth Younger brother, John, is here called a cousin, presumably because there wasn’t a fourth Carradine to play him. (The brothers motif continues into Dennis Quaid playing Ed Miller, and Christopher and Nicholas Guest playing the Ford brothers.)

David Carradine gives one of his most relaxed performances. He’s terrific, and the performances in general are good. The complex history of the Civil War guerrilla actions that took place on the Missouri/Kansas border; important to the story of these men, is lost, but then, it is complex, and it’s not the story the movie chooses to tell.

I have lately been fascinated by Westerns. I find them terribly sexy—not in an artificial fetishistic Midnight Cowboy sort of way, but in a cool, silent, scary Man With No Name sort of way; although I suppose that, too, is fetishistic. They are washed, rinsed, and wiped down in testosterone; stark, iconic, and dramatic. They rely on silence, restraint, and very cool costumes.

So naturally, they are usually sexist.

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Like a pigeon From Hell—what’s up with THAT?

Tom tagged me with this evil bit of humiliation. Name five songs that make you cry and explain why.

The humiliation part is that I am a total sap. A sappy sap. And the songs that make me cry are sappy songs. I am not one to have guilty pleasures, I will gladly tell you my favorite schmaltzy movie or corny TV show, but the songs? The songs are a genuine red-faced guiltfest.

And here they are.

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Spheroid Crocodiles and Non-linear Floor Lamps

Over at Lover of Strife, Evn made the following aside:

Speaking of perspectives, my personal perception of reincarnation is spherical rather than linear. As such, I sincerely hope [Steve] Irwin comes back as a crocodile in ancient Egypt.

The problem with perceiving reincarnation as linear or spherical is that any perception of reincarnation is de facto a perception of time. If time is an illusion, as physicists and philosophers increasingly agree, then a shape for time, like a line or a sphere, is also an illusion. Or, more accurately, a construct that we use to help us perceive it. And to keep our brains from hurting.

What if time is really simultaneous? What if all of the moments of now are co-existing in a way we can’t perceive?

I like to compare time to space. When you enter a room, you reach the lamp, then the couch, then the table, then the TV. So objects in space can be perceived as linear, occuring one after another, and indeed, if you are born blind, this is how you perceive them. But if you can see it, you can know space is really simultaneous.

I think past and present and future are couches and floor lamps and television sets. Crocodiles in ancient Egypt exist simultaneously with Pagan bloggers and swashbuckling pirates (who are, after all, eternal).

It’s a very informative view of reincarnation, really, because instead of having past lives that influence future lives, we have many simultaneous lives influencing one another. Which is cool.

Story of my love

Because I haven’t told it before.

I miss the times when we were together, when we were really being together, but I suspect, in our ten years, those times cumulatively make up three or four. The rest was breaking up, or being together but not being able to get together, or making and cancelling plans, or catching sneaky kisses in elevators.

I loved those elevator kisses.

I hear his voice in my head, even three years since I last heard it. He had a deep rolling voice that hit me like a shot of whiskey; burned the core and then moved through me, warming the fingers and toes.

I miss listening to the things he said, his infinite opinions about the world and the theater and politics and cooking and actors and things that mattered and things that didn’t matter. He taught me a trick for opening a jar and every time I open a jar I hear him.

I miss the presence. He had an aura, a weight, a just being there, sitting on the couch or in the next room or in this room, not talking. Like he generated more heat than other people. No one else ever feels that way to me. I miss that weight.

I miss the idea of the relationship. When I think about other relationships, the idea of it, the abstract, was something important or meaningful or anxiety-producing or delightful. But this one relationship, when I had it, in those moments, was peaceful. I could tell myself that I had Bob, and that was a soothing thing to hear. Even when we were apart for weeks because of scheduling, the in-between times were filled with that peace.

Which he stole from me every chance he got. Maybe it’s a mistake to love an abstract, and I think he wanted both less and more. He wanted me to have more, and he wanted to give me less and so he withdrew it all. What a martyr he imagined himself to be! Abandoning me because I deserved better. Bearing the burden, he could tell himself, of being the bad guy, to spare me. I cannot roll my eyes enough to express the bullshit. Because there was something so crazy there, so pathological, that I cannot even type up a plausible explanation for blogging purposes. He just walked. Just like that.

I miss the gin rummy.

The sex was amazing, fantastic, and my desire for him was constant and infinite, but I don’t miss the sex. If he was here now, I think I’d make him a cup of coffee, and sit across from him and look at him while he drank it, and then sit in his lap. I think about that more than I think about jumping his bones, although undoubtedly I’d jump his bones.

I don’t regret a minute.

Bridezilla shoes

My friend got married a couple of weeks ago, and today I was looking at the pictures on the web. You know those photographers that take twenty zillion pictures and put them all on the web and then you choose what to buy? Like that.

So, there are all the posed pictures (groom with best man, bride with mother, bride with father, groom with children from previous marriage…) and there are pictures of the ceremony, of the first dance, of the reception, and then there are pictures of…stuff.

There’s a close-up of the dress; just a big picture of some of the detail work on the buttons and beading. There’s a picture of the flower petals that were given out to throw at the couple instead of rice. A picture of a table setting, a picture of the cake. And at first I was thinking, these were nice memories, these were nice keepsakes. But it went on; more gown closeups, the veil, the tiara, and finally…the shoes.

Not with feet in them, mind you. Just the shoes. A full size, extra large shot of white satin shoes with rhinestone buckle. I believe you could read the brand name still embossed on the insole. This is when I understood.

It’s a fetish.

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Nerd Art

(Note: This is an original post I wrote for a guest gig at Pandagon. It never appeared here. I have some new thoughts on the topic that I’ll be getting to over the next few days, so I thought I’d start by posting this.)

Stan Lee and Gene Roddenberry. I should throw Jack Kirby in there too, since Lee took credit for a lot of Kirby’s work, so they say. What do they have in common?

Naked fantasy.

I first started sparking on this idea while reading the wonderful The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon, a chronicle of many things—escape artistry, survivor guilt, the Golem, coming out—among which the birth of superhero comics figured prominently. And clearly these characters were fictionalized Kirbys and Lees, or, going back further, Siegels and Schusters and Kanes and Fingers. And there they were, these guys, these kids, really, a boys club of boy fantasies; hoping and dreaming and basically jerking off, unself-consciously, unanalytically writing and drawing their nerdy fantasies and sharing them with the world.

That’s what makes them so great. These are raw fantasies, innocent, really. Newer comics are self-conscious, post-Modern, post-Freudian, either studiously artistic or cynically pornographic. Either carefully feminist or sadistically anti-feminist. Not these guys. From the 1930s through the mid-1960s, these guys wrote their dorky little dreams and sold them en masse. “I wanna be a boy sidekick,” “I wanna fly,” “I wanna smash the bad guys and get the girl.” Simple, innocent, fiercely, magnificently false-to-reality and true-to-heart.

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