A Brief and Humorous Foray Into My Feminism

Yesterday Shakesville, one of my favorite sources of news and criticism, pointed me to an amusing online tool: the Gender Analyzer.  This idiot website reads a website and somehow comes to a conclusion on the gender of the writer.  Yesterday, it was 62% certain that I am a woman.  Today it is even more certain (65%).  Who knows what it will say when I update again?

I am unspeakably amused by this.  Doubly so as the guy who that he can walk into a gay bar wearing a skirt, nails painted red, and more jewelry than anyone else there … and be mistaken for straight.

Now, the reality of the matter is somewhat more complicated than that.  I am male bodied, and generally pass as cisgendered.  I don’t actually identify as male, I just let people assume that when explaining that I’m third-gender/genderqueer in a magical-transgressive-shamanic-liminal-brainfuck sense is just way too much work … which, admittedly, is most of the time.  In the simplest terms my gender identity is not so much “male” as “witch”.  Of course that’s too much for most people to people to parse, let alone a program trained on a measly 2000 cherry-picked blogs.

Further, as Melissa points out, a legit AI experiment would explain more about the rubrics in play.  As it is, it reads to me as some sort of bizarre internet gender-shaming devise.  It’s also pretty damn clueless.  For reference, as I was composing this digression I checked out how several of my favorite bloggers rate:

* Rufus Opus is “quite gender neutral” but also probably (52%) a woman.  Which is odd, because he always struck me as fairly butch.

* Scylla rates almost identically (51%) to RO.  Right this time, though only barely.

* The Wild Hunt is also identified correctly, though they’re only 65% sure.

* The Tiger Beatdown is probably a man, but also “quite gender neutral” … despite the majority of contributors to the front page being women.

* Deborah is also correctly identified, and they’re somehow much more certain about her (75%)

Food for thought, y’all.

Colored Pencils and Air-Dry Clay: This Magician’s Best Friends

Last night I made my first ever attempt at anything that might be called planetary magic.  In the Hour of Mercury on the Day of Mercury, I blended a planetary incense—ground nutmeg, ground majoram, fennel, and lavender (because that was what I had on hand, and could get at my local pagan store; looking to Cunningham’s Book of Shadows for the correspondences)—and made two talismans under the auspices of Mercury.

The first was a pure Planetary Talisman, with the Planetary Talisman of Mercury on one side and the Planetary Seal of Mercury on the other (the Talisman did, indeed, come from Asterion; the Seal I used for refference may have come from anywhere).  Because I am a decidedly post-modern Magos, and because I lack the proper tools to inscribe the Talisman legibly into clay, I printed out the Talisman and colored it by hand; pressing the clay onto the back of the paper Talisman, I then scribed the relatively simple geometry of the Seal into clay on the other side.

The second talisman was to a much more specific purpose.  Attic Greek kicked my ass last semester, and I can’t afford to let that happen again.  Fortunately, I’m a witch, and there are Powers I can call upon for aid; in this case, the Powers of Mercury, the glib god Hermes, and the Titan muse Mneme.  The quick wit and silver tongue of Hermes are things that I desperately need, and the aid of goddess of memory even more so; besides, who better to call upon for this assistance than two gods first worshiped in the language I’m trying to learn?  Each are credited (by some, obviously conflicting, sources) with inventing language all together!


[More and better pictures once I’ve finished painting them.]


And what was the purpose of the Planetary Talisman, you ask?  The specific inspiration came from Lon Milo DuQuette, as I mentioned the other day.  In his new book Low Magick, he discusses using planetary talismans to help balance and enhance his life (Low Magick 49-55), as suggested by Israel Regardie (Talismans pp).  And I would, of course, be lying if there weren’t a certain element of “to see if I could”.

So … behold!  My first ritual magic of the new year!  Magic of a sort I have barely dabbled in before!  And hot damn, it was fun.  Ritual magic plus arts and crafts.

Both talismans are mixed-media, using a combination of printed paper, colored pencils, air-dry clay, scribed with a copper stylus, and painted with acrylic.

New Year, New You: Checking In With My Goals: Talismans and Astral Projection

I set myself a number of goals to complete by then end of break:


1) Finish the car-protection talismans … [Complete]

2) Write up my Dark Moon rites … [Complete]

3) Keep up with the New Year New You prompts … [So far, so good]

Short Term: Complete Before Break Ends

1) Interpret the natal chart I’ve calculated for Sannafrid … [FAIL]

2) New title for my book of shadows … [Complete]

3) Research or design and make a talisman to help me with my Greek language studies … [WIP]

4) Resume my attempts at astral projection.  [WIP]

So far, I think that I’m doing pretty well.

The car-protection talismans, as it turned out, did not need more work so much as to finish “baking”.  A second round of orange (Mercury/Hod) chime candles and a few more days in the altar was all they needed to feel “done”.  I could feel mine at work—along with the Ganesha who, as Deborah suggested, now lives on the dash—as I made the drive.  There were no scary moments, no construction delays, no cops, and no accidents or detours anywhere between the Western border of Missouri and the Eastern border of Indiana.  For those of you who’ve never made that drive, that’s really pretty improbable. 

I am even now working on my Mercury talisman to help me with my study of the Ancient Greek language(s).  Since I’m going to be drawing on Mercury anyway, I’m thinking now’s as good a time as any to make a more general Mercury talisman to help me with the Retrograde and somewhat afflicted Mercury in my natal chart—an idea for which I must thank Lon Milo DuQuette (Low Magick), who in turn got it from Mr. Israel Regardie.  The designs are done (or as done as I get things before going into trance and, well, doing them), and I just need to go shopping for some supplies (Setting up a new temple takes so much work.  I might be done before I finish my undergrad.  Maybe.)  More on that tomorrow when the Work is done.

Last night and the night before, I made my first attempts at astral projection in a number of years.  An actual book on the subject does not seem to have made it back to Indiana with me, but fortunately for me: we have the internet.  The first night I simply tried to pull the techniques from memory (I did study the subject intensively, once upon a time), and got as far as walking around my apartment … but I made the attempt as part of a larger, visionary Moon-working, and I believe that I was hemmed in by my Circle.  The second night (last night)  I attempted a sort of modified Monroe technique, and got as far as the vibratory state.  Unfortunately, I repeatedly fell asleep while making the attempt and ultimately gave up for the evening.  Still: the goal I set myself for “before classes resume” (they resumed today) was to renew my attempts.  My goal for success is Valentines Day and the goalpost of the New Year, New You project.

That leaves only one goal for the break between semesters unaccomplished: Sannafrid’s natal chart.  I suck.  In my defense: I did get a lot done, and her chart is complicated: two very busy Houses, lots of aspects, and three empty Houses.

Musing On One of My Personal Devils

I have mentioned one Chirotus Infinitum from time to time.  He and I stopped talking over a year ago—over what is beside the point—but we mostly left one another alone.  Recently a series of miscommunications culminated in a brief scare that I might find myself in a no-holds-barred fight with a serious, competent magician … and not just any magician, but one with whom I had worked extensively in the past.  A flurry of e-mails ensued, a couple mutual friends were contacted, and it all turned out to be a(somewhat amusing, in retrospect) misunderstanding.  We made a formal peace-pact, reaffirmed the bond and nature of our previously shared hospitality (he is a Roman reconstructionist, I a sort of neo-Hellenic type … the sacred binding power of hospitality is a Very Big Deal to both of us) and the whole thing would only be interesting to our mutual friends except for one point: it got me to thinking on something that I haven’t put serious thought to since before I could drink legally.

If I were going to go to war, what would I do?

Since then, the subject seems to keep coming up.  I found an essay on Classical magic which focused exclusively on curse tablets and poppets (the essay called them “voodoo dolls”, proving that the area of study requires attention from actual practitioners).  A friend of a friend was talking about the curses and “blessings” her Rom ancestors liked to make use of.  A very close friend, in seeking justice for an in-law, almost-but-didn’t-quite-ask Aradia and I to curse the ever-loving shit out of the perpetrator (We didn’t do it: sorry, you have to ask me in clear language for that sort of thing.  I can’t just take it upon myself.  And you have to help.)  I got a coworker fired by reporting his sexual harassment of another employee to management, and there was a small risk that he might swing on me if he found out—at which point, as I told someone only half-jokingly, I would “call the police and curse his name.”

A lot of people I know have been fucked over in the last few years, one way or another.  And having the knowledge to not just try to raise them up out of the muck, but to smite their oppressors, assailants, and tormentors down … is awfully tempting.

This is knowledge which I have actively avoided for a long time.  I know myself: I’m a fucking Scorpio.  Power tempts me.  I would only use it for Justice … right?  Except when I used it for Awesome.  And I know better what constitutes “Justice” and “Awesome” better than anyone … right?  Guys?  Where are you going?  What are those torches and pitchforks for?  I’m not the monster here, I’m just doing what you would have if you had the …


I know what a slippery slope is, and what it isn’t.  Marriage equality is NOT a slippery slope to anything … except maybe actual civil rights for us queers.  Me wielding the power of curses and bindings in the name of “justice” IS a slippery slope to me using that power in the name of my best interests, ethics be damned.  Whether or not this is the Nature of Power is up for debate.  But, at just over three decades of being me, there is no debate over the Nature of Me Wielding Power.  I know what’s up.  I know myself.

This knowledge is a sort of power which, if I ever wield it, I must do so only under the most clear-cut and singular circumstances.  Because it tempts me too much to trust myself and my motives.  I lust too hotly for revenge.

New Year, New You: Rest Break

I am embarrassingly grateful for Deb’s permission to take the week off.  There are problems with making use of it, of course: I’m already behind on some of my goals, and there’s a lot of work to do this year in many, many senses of the word. But it’s the last week of my winter break, and there are things here in the mortal Now which need to be tended to. 

Too much of my break already consumed by work.  I spent my New Year only a little better off than good master Jow: my food poisoning struck Thursday, but I was still too weak to do much of anything on Saturday.  Far too little of my break has been spent with my family and closest friends.  Schedules just haven’t lined up.  Things have come up which have prevented me from spending more than a cursory amount of time with several people who really deserve my undivided attention.  Yesterday was spent trying to correct that: breakfast with my mother, a free haircut from my stylist sister, a long lunch catching up with D after way too long, meeting my old boss (the man who taught me jewelry in the first place) for coffee, dinner with another friend, and finally catching up up with my tattoo artist/writing buddy to get a piercing redone and for a long overdue game of “so what have you been doing”?  Today and tomorrow are shopping and packing and trying to catch up with people in a last-minute fashion. 

That said, I have gotten a lot done.  Aradia and I made the safe travel talismans which I still need to blog about.  I have come up with a new name for my “BoS”: Book of the Labyrinth (βιβλιου ὀ λαβύρινθος).  I have made good progress on Sannafrid’s natal chart, though not as much as I want; in my defense, she’s got a lot going on.  I did write up my Dark Moon rites (most of them), and I have been keeping up with the New Year, New You prompts.

And catching up with all my people has been an adventure, too.  Aradia has started a blog of her own, largely (but not exclusively) talking about Tarot.  Two friends of mine (that I don’t often talk about here because we haven’t practiced magic together in years) have started a daily Tarot practice, engineered themselves into a better apartment, and one of them has managed to put herself back in school.  Pasiphae has escalated her magical practice since I left, is talking to gods, and has started selling incenses and blends.  D, who has been in business for herself for a while, has found two brick-and-mortar outlets for her teas.  Whytar has gone from Forever Alone to engaged to a woman from his (relative) youth in a matter of months.  My sister has (wisely, finally) given up on Texas and moved back closer to the family. 

Cancerous Employment

How could I forget how toxic the mall is?  The miasma of capitalist nihilism.  The poisonous classism of the upper-middle class against the working-class goons who sell them their gewgaws.  The screaming children.  The way the mall security stares askance at any person of color.  The suspicious predominance of Spanish-speakers in the janitorial staff.  The crushing desperation of so many of the workers.  That shit is living death.  How did I forget?

It is, after all, one of the major reasons I quit that job in the first place.

I’ve grown un-accustomed to living my life with heavy shielding.  I like being open, clued in, with one hand on the heartbeat of the world. It’s not safe to be that way in the mall.  It’s like being a plague doctor with an immune disorder: you’re tempting Death.

I work in two different kiosks for the company, in two different malls.  The smaller, less prosperous of the malls is easier to manage: I picked out a set of four matching steel rings and borrowed “modeled” them all day, using them to regulate my in/out like a gas masks.  It worked fine, with minimal effort. 

The larger of the two malls, however, was more of a problem: more prosperous, with a more “affluent” (higher pre-tax income, overextended on debts and a lifestyle they can’t pay in the post-crash economy) and psychically toxic clientele, more in need of free therapy in the form of abusing retail employees and jewelry to reinforce their crumbling middle-class racial and gender identities.  Keeping that space clear enough for me to work without setting anyone on fire required a daily application of a pentagram banishing rite.  Yeah, that’s right, I had to go back to a banishing rite. I hate banishing; I would much rather invoke, conjure, or tune.  And it worked.  Barely.

I’ve made it through, now.  Tuesday was my last shift until I need to work over my next break.  And don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful to them for giving me the opportunity to make rent.  I love having a roof over my head.  But I need to find a new source of greenbacks: one where I’m not selling and fixing slave-made baubles for petty asshats.

State of the Dream: New Years 2012

It’s been a hell of a year for the blog and I. 

I graduated from my community college with honors.  I applied to real colleges and went on a road trip to see them.  In the process I made my first forays into practical divination, exploring the options using Tarot.  At the conclusion of which, I pulled a Tower and a Hanged man at the same time, moving from the Westernmost end of Missouri to the Easternmost point of Indiana for said college. 

I performed my first wedding and conjured gods I’d never even heard of before.  I started my experiments in Western Ceremonial Magic. I did so much magic that I couldn’t even write about it all.  I did so much research I don’t even know where to start writing.  Even so, I wrote a hundred and one posts in 2011, just over four times the previous two years combined.

My followers have doubled over the last year—many of them people I don’t know in the physical world!—and my hitcount has skyrocketed over the last months in particular.  There as that post I pimped out on /r/occult back in September.  And participating in Deborah Castellano’s New Year, New You project has definitely gleaned me a few hits.  Several times, I’ve actually gotten as may as sixty or seventy hits a day.  I have had readers from Russia, the UK, Malaysa, Canada, Germany, Australia … just to name a few.

This is kind of a big deal.  Thank you all for being along for the ride.  I hope to see more of you all soon.