Sunday, November 28, 2010

Magister of Philters.

Normal Dreams
I peel away the flesh of the living world. It comes off not unlike a wet bathing suit, sticking in corners and bends. Beneath is smoke, and shadow. One moment a hunched beast, the next a lithe serpent. I am roving the world, with strides that seem like flight. The world is the color of burned herbs, the vegetation I find has the brittle character of desert grasses. The sky is a mantle of ever-shifting cloud, there are no stars here. I'm galloping toward a great door that never seems to get any larger - I know it's hours away even at this speed, it's just that large. I keep moving, always moving.

Er... perhaps I spoke too soon.
Suddenly I find myself in a stone circle of sorts. There are stars, and I'm clothed in my usual body. Smoke curls away from me not unlike "materializing death eaters" - even in the dream I giggle about how fricken -awesome- that is. Everything is in a sharp relief, defined to it's very extreme, but colors are wrong - this is not my dream. As soon as I realize this, I see the figure.

He is tall, and slim, and wearing all black. He is perched on a three-legged stool, stirring a cauldron which hangs from a three-legged rack, being gently simmered by a threefold fire (nine sacred woods). He gives me an impatient look.

"How in the hell did I get here?" I ask, violently flailing at the trails of cloying smoke that still hang onto my clothes. "I was galloping through the wastes of the Elfhame..."

"Because I summoned you." He grumbles. The words slide out of him like someone sexually stimulating a cello. "Sit. Pay attention. Learn something worth having in your otherwise empty skull."

And I do. His authority is as plain as the neat little buttons on his coat. It is as plain as the look of barely contained contempt on his face. I want to ask how in the hell he summoned me, and exactly who he is - but the vissage he uses makes a suggestion so hilarious that I don't dare.

He shows me a philter which, by the removal of one herb and addition of another can either attract or repel serpents. He explains the subtle differences between Ferula species, and how these differences can be elevated, highlighted and made valuable.

He explains how some philters must be crafted in earthenware, not metal, and kept "cradled" by heat rather than "tossed" by it. He refers to stages of heat in fluid so subtle that Japanese tea houses would shriek. Here the alkaloids of Henbane are released, here they are 'sterilized', here they are destroyed, here all virtue of the plant is gone, "and at this stage you're burning it."

We discuss ingredients too fantastic to exist, and what substitutes someone such as myself might employ. Waxes and oils and herbs and subtle incantations - and he gives to me a single, small, black candle. And now I know how to summon him.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Bullying, Spirit-Day, etc...

Now that the festivities, and solemnities are over, and I'm stuck with 20lbs of candy that my extended family couldn't give out, and still doesn't want, I turn to the somber notes of The Dark Night, which have altogether passed, sort of.

At the local Unitarian pagan circle (I went back, and I'll probably keep going back) we adapted a ritual from Michelle Belanger's "Vampire Ritual Book". The ritual compared themes of death and transition to self-sacrifice and betterment. Committed to flames was the word "dispassion". Wrapped up in it was "keeping silent", "hiding" and "feeling shamed". So expect some interesting blog posts about how foolish it is to divide ourselves in the coming days.

I'll say that though I might be comparable in age to most of my fellow bloggers (inching up on thirty while slamming the breaks and screaming "Sweet mother of GOD, not YET!") I lived more like their grandparents, or great-grandparents. I grew up on a farm, raising and killing my own food, wild-foraging, hunting and fishing. And yes, I was home-schooled. After Kindergarten I was never in the sort of social schooling situations other people are. The idea of "peer pressure" was, and I mean this sincerely, completely alien to me. To this day, those ideas are still exceptionally foreign. This has caused me an unmeasurable amount of bullshit.

But I'm not exactly an alien, here.

I've had people shout things, or behave strangely because of the way I look, or the persons I associate with. I can remember having things shouted in the mid-90's. I remember that after Columbine shit got "real" and I got into a few close calls. A couple of years ago a botanica owner near to my then-residence sent a student to come fetch me, having assumed I had knowledge about some rather dark dealings. I've endured precious-less bullying than others because I was home-schooled, but I did endure 'my share' in the halls of Church.

The Last Gasp... and the last straw.

When I was in my tweens I parted violently with the Christianity-lite that my family sort of gently wafted the air with during my childhood. My grandmother was a Minister, and tried to instill a strong sense of faith in me. Unfortunately, through various dark matters (losing a friend to drugs) I had a falling out with Christianity-lite, or any other form.

But, because of my Grandmother (after a few years of trying and failing to remain an Athiest), I decided to go to Church with my then-best-friend, where I experienced bullying (of the type not doled out by older siblings) for the fist time. It began with taunts. It progressed to threats. It progressed to following through on those threats. During a touch-football game one of the teenaged boys kicked me in the lower back. Something went twinge, and I rounded on him. That may have been what's brought on a lifetime of lower back problems. I was attacked like that, on and off, any time I visited.

These incidents were all reported to people of "authority" in the Church, and no one did a damned thing. I was, conversely, lectured for my manner of dress, attitude, the evils of witchcraft, the evils of homosexuality, and my general evilness. Despite my being there, in a gorram church.

Then, one night many moons down the line, there was a Church lock-in, and the Pastor's son decided that simply taunting me wasn't enough. He backed me into the woman's bathroom and attempted to sexually assault me. He came out worse for it. I got lectured for my attitude and manner of dress. Essentially that I had "asked for it". I, according to them, was the source and cause of all of my own problems because I was different. I stopped attending that Church. I stopped attending -all- churches.

Troubling Revelations.

While I may have a female body (I say "may", because I'm not altogether certain what it's up to sometimes) - I am not a "woman" in my heart. I live between male and female, and while it would be quite nice to be done of this body (or rather rid of the absolutely crippling "female complaints"), I am happy with who I am and what I am. I have no need to draw an artificial line in the sand, and declare that I exist solely on one side of it.

I can recall being about 9-ish years old and watching a female sacker pack groceries. I recall being, yes, rather enamored of her bosom and catching myself suddenly with the curious question "Does this mean I'm gay?" and the old standby "that means I'm going to hell."
I struggled with this issue, through loss and regaining of religious faith. I met a girl... and I fell in love. And then I struggled harder. She moved on, I got my heart broken, and I met someone else (male this time) and I fell in love. And I got even MORE confused.

It took me until a couple of years ago, to realize that there is no "default" setting. It's not a switch that is toggled on or off, it is a free-floating dial with no stop-point. It is a fluid, circular spectrum, this sexuality thing. And for me gender, sex - they don't matter one whit, because my own sex and gender are not on the more common factory-settings.

Raymond Chase, Tyler Clementi, Asher Brown, Billy Lucas, Seth Walsh.

It was because of this disconnect, that people had poor reactions. It wasn't me that caused the trouble, it was their issues (fear, and hatred). I didn't see it then, but hindsight is 20-20. I was a kid for fuck's sake! I didn't have the constant impression of girls being "girly" or boys being "boyish". I only had myself, and the honesty of my developing feelings. It is the reason that my "attitude" and "manner of dress" were always "the problem". It is the reason a teenaged boy felt the only way to 'deal' with me was to dominate me via a sexual medium - turn the queer strait, so to speak. I see that now.

Had I lived a more "normative" life, I would still have struggled. But my struggle would've been a public display, open to that public feedback of broken bones and soured worldviews. I've often told my mother that I am thankful for my homeschooling, because had I been subjected to that I would not be me - and I like me. More than likely I would have made good on the various dark thoughts I had, and ended my own life.

"It gets better"

It will never get better if you subjugate yourself to others.  Shame and guilt are -their- weapons, don't actively use them on yourself. Realize that there are evils in this world, and consenting love is not one of them.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Shelby Ellis and a Culture of Fear.

The Backstory.

A 16 year old girl named Shelby liked black clothes, vampire books, and the ilk. She liked to dress goth, and was on the social networking site "Vampire"

Her parents didn't like what she was into. They forbade her wearing goth clothing, makeup, or hanging out with certain friends - so she sneaked around behind their backs and did it anyway. They cut off her internet access so that she could not log onto the networking site - so she sneaked around behind their backs and did it anyway.

Things got more restrictive at Shelby's house, so like a lot of teenagers she ran away from home. Of course, if the story ended so simply, I wouldn't be blogging about it.

"Vampire Cult"

Shelby's alarmist parents referred to her interests as a "dark cultic behavior", apparently being a teenager is now being in a cult, ya know. And when Shelby and two of her friends ran away around the same time, her parents jumped not to the conclusion that their daughter (who stole $160 and a cellular phone) had run away to evade strict parenting, but that she had been abducted by a dark, dangerous, vampire cult.

The young lady had an account with the website "". This website, despite a dark theme and color-scheme is really just a dark version of Myspace or Facebook. In other words it's the "Hot topic" of social networking sites. "Vampire" doesn't have groups, or forums... instead (trying to be cutesey and "konstantanos dark") they have "cults".

Yeah, I think it's dipshit too, but then again, despite wearing black clothing for the last fifteen years - I'm not a total douchebag (only about 1/1oth douchebag). The parents, already alarmists and freaking out about the dark clothing take a social networking site's categorization style as gospel truth - dark, dangerous, vampire cult!

CNN picks up the story, showing images of vampire video games, clips from the twilight movies and True Blood, and various video bites of rotating pentagrams, candles, and people in hooded robes. CNN begins first asking, then just openly stating, that a teen runaway involved in a silly, dipshit, social networking site is actually a member of a underg- oops, forgot my formula - DARK, DANGEROUS, VAMPIRE CULT!

The Facts.

Shelby and the two unnamed friends were members of "", and all went to the same school. The other two girls had already been recovered and refused to give any information on Shelby's whereabouts. There were no ransom notes, no suspicious letters or e-mails, no phone calls, no signs of struggle. Just a girl, vanishing.

There was no indication, including a lack of breaking into the girl's computer to recover e-mails/forum posts, that anything had happened to her.

Media Response, and Community Reaction.

Amongst the voices raised was that of Author, Lecturer and house-leader Michelle Belanger*, the governing body of the Atlanta Vampire Aliance,, and numerous local houses and individuals who've made it their mission to spread correct info. Info stating, without hesitation, that there were no signs of her ever having been in contact with the vampire community, no one had heard of her - that also, there were no signs of violence or abduction, so it might be prudent to cease the scare tactics, and focus on her return.

Within a very short period of time the Vampire community had circulated photos, news articles and potential locations for her whereabouts. A few papered towns with leaflets out of their own pockets. Those of us who are witches were working to make her visible, nigh unmissable, and for her safe return. And even as we did these things - we were being labelled as dark, cultic, dangerous, and responsible for her vanishing.

Found safe. Now what?

A day or so after it hit the national news, Shelby was found. Alive. Unharmed. NOT being held against her will. She had made it all the way from Georgia to Washington, where she was found in the company of at least one adult, and several minors. She went willingly with police and is awaiting extradition to Georgia in a Juvie facility.

Her parents still believe she was abducted by a "vampire" cult, though Shelby herself has not weighed in, and the other girls are tight-lipped. The news media is still spinning the angle that a dangerous cult is somehow involved, even though every indication is to the contrary. No apologies have been issued, no retractions or clarifications have been made.

Per usual, being different, being goth or a witch or a self-professed vampire is enough to scare up a nationwide culture of fear. Fear over what?

Good fences make good neighbors.
because then we can spy on them when they think they're safe and know what they're REALLY getting up to!

People don't want the truth from their news. They want scandal and sensation. The average American doesn't give two shits that Shelby Ellis came home safely - to be honest, most of them probably really wanted her to be dead. Another statistic, a lesson, an example they can point to and say "This is why THOSE PEOPLE are inferior, and why we're so goddamned awesome."

This sort of topic is as important to the Pagan community as it is to the Vampire community - Because while we may have internal distinctions and solid lines, no one on the outside will make those distinctions when the time comes, and things get rough. We have to defend each-other from accusations that we know are baseless, before those accusations get applied cross-category. That whole "United we Stand" bit, y'know...

* I know some folks seem to have an issue with Michelle Belanger, but I've never quite figured out why, or how. No one's really ever explained it other than "I just dislike her" or "Vampires should've stayed in the shadows!" So, if someone can offer a lucid insight into their own dislike, I'd at least "get" why mentioning her is sometimes met with sniggers - unless it's about the S&M photos, which I get, but c'mon...