Musings on Political Correctness As a Concept

I’m going through a lot of excellent self-knowledge programs, each of which require a bit of introspection. I’ll post that, but not today. Today is for a bit of a rant.

“Politically Correct” is NOT about “don’t be a dick”. That’s simply “don’t be a dick”. I will not call people names or insult them or speak with hatred against others simply because that’s what you do in polite society – you know, be polite. Calling someone bad things or tell them they are going to hell (who does that??!) is more about heinous manners and BEING a dick.

Political correctness is about thought control and looking for reasons to take offense at something as a means of controlling them. “You can’t call someone a janitor.” “Why not?” “Because that’s bad.” “How the hell is it bad?” “It implies they are lesser.” “Who the eff put THAT judgment on the word? It sure as heck wasn’t me. There’s NOTHING wrong with being a janitor, except for NOW that you said it and put your dirty little judgment on it.”

Today a friend was describing something and called it a Jewish Bowl, the item being a historical one. She eventually said “I shouldn’t call it that, that’s racist.” Genuinely perplexed, I asked “why?” She said, in short, because. Because why? Eventually I managed to get that the artifact is from Babylon and around that area, so it might not actually be Jewish. My reply was “then calling it a Jewish Bowl is hardly ‘racist’, it’s just not accurate.” She continued to insist that labeling as Jewish was racist.

*sigh* Dude, naming something as being from a culture (correct or not) is NOT racist. That’s an attempt at identification. Racist would be saying the bowl or the culture that produced it was somehow deficient or exalted simply because of the culture which created it. Just saying “that white guy” or “that black guy” or “that albino dude” or “that Persian bowl” is NOT racist. Following that up with “is lesser for this trumped up reason” WOULD be racist. Do you see? Saying “the guy with the blue shirt” is about as racist as saying “the white lady”. It’s just a descriptor, like blonde or brunette. Someone assuming that when I say “the blonde guy” I’m actually saying “the moron”, well, that tells me more about the listener and what’s in their mind’s eye. Hall of Mirrors! Besides, I think racist is just a euphemism for xenophobia. “They’re different, and I blame it on what I can see with my eyes. I hate them because they are not like me.” Xenophobia.

Are people really so desperate to find reasons to be offended? Really? Why?

Ooooh, wait. It’s victim mentality, which our culture has going ON right now. OMFG are we totally steeped in the Victim mindset. There was an item in the movie Mystery Men that I thought was brilliant: the Blame Thrower. Like Cupid with his bow, we have some little invisible force running around right now randomly shooting the Blame Thrower at any and every one, causing an epidemic of thin skins looking for reasons to be offended (real and imagined!) resulting in a rising tide of righteous anger. “We’re oppressed, we’re so stepped on and downtrodden, it’s The Man’s fault, it’s corporations, it’s women,  it’s greed, it’s socialists, it’s big government, it’s men, it’s religion, blah blah blah.” Usually these statements are followed by things like “You should pay for me to do/get/have X; I expect you to apologize for X/Y/Z and own it as if it’s yours because that keeps it alive for me; I want … I deserve … poor me.”

No one is immune to it. If you’re in this culture, you’re plugged in. Looking around at the global culture, I’m starting to think it’s not just those in the US either. No exceptions, the degree however is personal choice. The Victim is a survival archetype, and serves a vital role in helping to identify and protect personal boundaries, but when it’s allowed to run unchecked it’s not a pretty sight. It’s present, I think, because we’re now at a point where we collectively have to own our shadow. “Whaaaa?” Yes, our cultural shadow. No culture is as pure as the driven snow, NONE. Every group, regardless of size or age, has a seamy underbelly. We in the US are now just hanging it out there so darn blatantly that only those completely trapped in the Hall of Mirrors can’t recognize what’s going on.

So far, we’re denying it pretty thoroughly, looking at everyone else saying “But I’m not on that crazy train, so it’s not my fault.” Hmmm. Interesting choice of words. Not my fault. Those are victim words.

You know what victims excel at? Attempting to control the external world in an effort to control their internal world. It’s a safety mechanism. I’ve known a few abused folks, but I’ve far more deeply known abused animals. Control is everything, followed pretty much immediately by predictability. I had a rescue who was so freaked out by change that even moving his food dish a few inches to the left would have him hiding under the couch. Tragic! So people who get so caught up in the political correctness and the need to publically shame others is actually an expression of the victim as it attempts to control the outside world through mob mentality. Think about that the next time that someone says something which isn’t “politically correct” and consider whether or not they are saying something which is actually dickish (mean-spirited) or are they saying a truth that you just don’t really want to hear. That second one is the victim consciousness. “Oh! You can’t say that! It’s too close to the truth and I really don’t want to be facing that.” Too bad. That’s a victim mindset statement right there, and people catering to it are actually trying to be polite by walking on eggshells.

I don’t live in North Carolina, but if I did, I’d want to use the men’s room. I’m not transgendered, but who the hell will know? It’d be more of a statement. Will folks need a birth cert to use public restrooms? If I get beat up (or worse!) because some hick thinks I’m a man who chose to be a woman, I’m not sure if that would be covered or ignored by the media. What would the arrest warrant read if some man complained about it? Will they REALLY spend tax payer dollars to track me down, arrest me, incarcerate me and then pay for a trial? Ugh.

But anyway, back to my original point. Political correctness is about thought control done through a victim mindset. It has nothing to do with being a polite, socially ept individual who seeks to be considerate of those around them. From now on, I think I’m going to ask people who tell me I can’t say X or Y “is that because you think it’s been said maliciously or because it raises something you are uncomfortable thinking about?”

Hermetic, Magick

Magic and Drugs

This is a subject which has been beat to death, but there was a perspective I never actually considered before. Another throw away line in Dan’s Modern Hermeticist podcast was that, historically speaking, to be a magician WAS to use drugs. They went hand-in-hand.

Huh. I never really thought about it through that lens before. Personally, I’ve never used drugs. I was sorely tempted to though. If I’d been with a different crowd at the point in my life where I was living and breathing magickal experimentation, I would have dropped acid or whatever else at the drop of a hat. I even attempted to make my own acid but couldn’t bring myself to take it because I had a feeling I was about to poison myself. A rare moment of wisdom shining through there at the ripe and seasoned age of 20. But I also learned during this that I didn’t need drugs to expand my mind, I just needed to focus … or unfocus as the case may be.

I learned many years later I was in the vast minority on this one. Talking to a group of OTO initiates, the stories of drug use and the resultant experiences were flying around the dinner table. I’m wide eyed with shock – never been exposed this before! Then they turn to me and ask me what drugs I’ve done, just assuming “you’re into magick, therefore you must have done something.”

I learned recently of another type of practitioner who uses drugs to teach them the path to take, and then they don’t need the drugs any more.

So there’s 4 camps I’m aware of. (1) Drugs are evil and should never be touched. (2) Don’t really need drugs to enter altered states, so why use them? (3) They are good for learning the foundations, but aren’t needed all the time or as learning progresses. (4) If you don’t do mind-bending drugs, you’re not really a magician.

I don’t give a rip what camp others fall into, though I would be curious if there are other camps I’m not aware of. I’m sure there are, it’s a hotly debated topic because some folks feel so strongly about various aspects of the topic. (See Hall of Mirrors and the ‘hot emotional response’ meaning.) Overall, I guess the concept that Dan stated (to be a magician WAS to use drugs) just had me ruminating on the concept. I’m attempting to find an active group of Hermetics to inspire me to keep working, but they are few and far between. *sad panda* I’m curious if drugs are as rampant among this crowd as they were with the other crowd I worked with for a time.


My Personal Picatrix

It’s often said that pursuit of magickal studies needs to be done with awareness of the potential dangers – madness and the like being high on the list. Indeed, some schools actually have a requirement of working with a therapist to deal with issues that might come up.

Considering the hell I went through when I first started in it, I would definitely say it’s not for the faint of heart. What, in essence, is being done is looking into the Abyss, to discover the True Self which lies there. I love the stories which invite characters to look into the Mirror of Truth and there they see themselves, and it drives them mad (unless, of course, you are Zaphod Beeblebrox). Same idea.

But I never really took it past this. Beyond the emotional warnings. I certainly never considered the dangers to be literal ones.

Then I learned about Dan Attrell’s work with the Picatrix. He has a podcast that he did for a little while, like 5 episodes or something, and for a couple of those he talks about this medieval grimoire. Being a grimoire, it contains a great deal of recipes for magical potions. What Dan speaks of it just how many of those recipes included poisonous herbs as well as other types of poisons – the mind altering stuff is rather par for the course though. Couple that fact with the warning that use of this grimoire was not for the uninitiated, and I suddenly got a very, very different interpretation of the warnings that are intended to steer the non-serious away from the study.

Granted today there aren’t many published grimoires that I am personally aware of which include hemlock and various other poisons as ingredients, but I’m far from a scholar of modern magical grimoires so take that with a grain of salt. Given the medieval “poison the recipes, so those who shouldn’t be working with this will get a nasty surprise” fact, now I’m relooking at the modern warnings for the study of magic.

I certainly never got close to literally going “mad”, as in insane, but I certainly got lost. I lost myself, and by consequence my footing. The first time I started studying it seriously, I ended up getting divorced. The second time, I spiraled down until finally I was forced to declare bankruptcy. The third time, I sunk into a depression which lasted for years and pretty much destroyed all that remained of the relationships in my life. And here I go for a fourth time?? Perhaps I did go mad to even consider it. But I also know that each time I was broken, I remade myself a little better. This last one was a catastrophic destruction of self-identity and value system, leaving me to seriously ask myself who I am at the most fundamental level and what do I really, truly value.

In the movie The Watchmen, Adrian attempts to kill Dr Manhattan with blowing apart his atoms. Considering this is how he was transformed from ordinary man into Dr M by learning how to remake himself from his component pieces, perhaps it wasn’t the best attempt at getting rid of him. It appears to work for all of 3 seconds, and then the glowing blue guy is back. Upon his reappearance, Dr M says “Reassembling myself was the first trick I learned.”

I think that’s the key – every time I broke, something new broke. Something which needed to break, broke. And I learned how to fix it, slowly, painfully. Now it’s not the same thing which breaks, so applying the same techniques don’t work in new situations but I’m becoming aware of the process. This time, when I open my personal Picatrix, I’m aware that the recipes are poisoned to weed out those who shouldn’t be dabbling. By now, I know what it feels like to be poisoned in myriad ways (metaphorically speaking), so I know what to watch for, and I know ways of restoring myself to wholeness — better than before.

Reassembling myself was the first trick I learned.

Hall of Mirrors, Personal Growth

What was I protecting?

Know thyself.

That’s a maxim I’ve tried very hard to live my entire life by, even though I don’t seem to be very good at it. I have my own business, the most successful one to date since I’ve had several. This time, I’m listening to business oriented podcasts and augmenting that with money management podcasts. Some of them are truly great, and it’s quite surprising how many of the self-awareness perspectives are now foundational business coaching tactics. One I listened to a couple of days ago really laid down something which shook me up in the best way.

One of the biggest issues I’ve been working on tackling was getting to the root of all the self-destructive behaviors I have. Usually, they take the form of “oh shiny!” in terms of being distracted by new ideas enough that I run off and leave everything unfinished. Then there’s the deliberate failing to deliver a job on time, or follow-through on a promise – I didn’t realize this was deliberate until this most recent job I was doing. I was stunned to finally root out the emotion itself, though the cause was an unknown.

In an effort to find the answer as to why I do various sabotaging behaviors, I tried on all the usual answers – fear of failure, fear of success, general unworthiness, etc. Nothing fit. Nothing hit me with that full body resonance that comes with truth. I hadn’t found the reason yet, and it was frustrating.

So a few days ago I was listening to one of my business/money management podcasts interviewing Joan Sotkin. I had never heard of her before, and I was clearly the poorer for the lack.  About 1/3 of the way through the podcast the host said something about self-sabotaging behavior and Joan essentially said “we never sabotage ourselves. When that happens, we’re trying to protect ourselves in some way.” It was like a 2×4 upside the head. “Protect myself from what?” I’m thinking, and the host asked for examples. The one which gave me the full-body resonance was “identity”. I will destroy everything I’m consciously trying to build because subconsciously my identity declares that to be impossible.

I am not a savvy business person – bang! Done and verified. Identity protected. *proudly preens*

Now I have a new tool and it seems to be far more effective than anything else I’ve come across for this particular challenge. As I go back and revisit these old behaviors, instead of asking myself why I sabotaged things — I’ll be asking “what was I protecting?”

Air, Hermetic, Magick

Another note on Wands

Yesterday I reviewed a conversation about why wands were a symbol for air. Today I’m at work and suddenly a picture pops into my head:

Followed immediately by the question: Why doesn’t the Scarlet Witch use a wand?

The answer is pretty easy if you think about it: perspective. The Marvel universe doesn’t really feature “magic”; she herself doesn’t seem to see what she does as “magic”. Now I’m not a huge Marvel Universe aficionado – I’ve seen the movies, that’s about it. But I have friends who are, and I confirmed with them that what she focuses and gives shape to is the energy of herself and the world around her. She’s a mutant, and her ability is not some metaphysical something beyond herself. It’s inborn, part of herself. She uses her own body to give it shape, and her hands are the material component which grounds her will into reality, not an external component like the wand.

In another post a few days I was torn between adopting tools or not. I think my brain threw this question at me in response to that quandary — urging me to consider how do I view what I do. Is the energy that I work with external or internal? I view it as internal, and extension of me. I call it forth and give it form through intention and action, but it’s still me, my energy, my connection to the world around me, my will. What would the Scarlet Witch do with a wand??

So I think the question of whether or not to use tools is actually a question of “what are you doing?” or, more specifically, “where is the power coming from?” Knowing that then allows me to answer the question of whether or not to use tools.

Another thing of note: the Scarlet Witch doesn’t create something out of nothing. Wizards/Witches with their wands/staves … do. Both affect the world, both use unseen forces to do their will, but wand users tend to think anything is possible if they know the right combinations.

Air, Magick

On Wands

While driving long distance one day, I was attempting to keep myself awake by verbally exploring a variety of ideas. The entire Earth series came out of this, to which I will return shortly. One of the things that I was talking about during this drive was the association of sword with fire and wands with air. Now, sword and fire I totally see. The metal is forged in fire. But wands and … air? Why would air and wood go together?

Then a picture popped into my head.

Followed by another.

Then another.

Three story wizards that I personally really like. All 3, plus all of their in-story magic using characters, use wands with their magic. Huh, I thought to myself. Why? It’s pretty interesting that I can answer myself at times like these, and so I did.

Because the wand as a tool helps the wizard shape his will through the magic. The magic is the raw stuff, but he has to shape it, give it form and direction. The wand is the foci. He doesn’t NEED the wand, not really. It’s a tool, shaping thoughts in a tangible, perceivable way. “Move the wand like this and speak (air) the words (air) in order to affect the material (earth) world.” So the staff, the rod, the wand are associated with the air element because the air element is associated with mental processes, words and ideas. It’s not a walking stick that is intended, not a cane or a tree branch — but a magician’s wand, in whatever size or shape that may be.

Likewise, the wand is a physical thing, with the most powerful of magic usually coming through special woods and the like because this is a representation of earth. The wand is the bridge that connects air and earth, ideas with manifestation.


Magickal Instruments

Most every magickal practice I am aware of uses a variety of symbolic instruments — from the athame and chalice to a wand and incense. Some practices are very specific, while some are a little more free form.

When I first started working magick far too long ago, I attempted to follow the directions. I had all my stuff. I liked my stuff. It was cool (at the time) stuff. But for every practice in which it was used, everything felt “wrong”. It felt like I was working with one of those glove box cabinets that you see for handling hazardous materials.

Cumbersome. Inexact. Remote.

So I pretty quickly ditched all the instruments. Got rid of the athame, chalice, wand et al and just used my imagination. My body became all those things. If I needed to call on fire, I’d summon the spark from within and through that connection then call to the fire without to join me. Same with all of it. Very quickly, I realized this worked quite well for me. I’m a strong visualizer, with a wonderful imagination which allows me to picture very exactly precisely what I wanted. My basic nature then allows me to work with what results. Energy is something I can work with very easily, when I’m attuned.

Now I’m returning to a formal magick system, and they are asking once again that I use instruments. I am torn. Do I take up the spirit of the exercise and work with the glove box cabinet, or stand fast to my experience? For the most part, I will still be working alone but with the very occasional group ritual. So for the most part, it doesn’t really matter – no one will witness my use or non-use of tools. But I will, and my familiarity with the tools will very quickly be evidenced as I fumble through a ritual with this foreign object.

That said, if I get the tools, then I have to explain them to a hostile household. *sigh* Or hide them and do my work in secret, which is pretty much what I do now just I don’t have to hide anything. Quandary quandary. Just had a thought: I’ll practice as if I have tools, complete with reaching for and picking up, or lighting, or pouring, etc. Walk as if there’s a physical altar. Move as if the tools are physical. Then in group, I can use whatever tools are there smoothly and with familiarity yet don’t have to hide anything at home or feel as if the majority of my work is done through heavy plastic gloves. I wonder if that will work…