Phos kai Sophia

In light of, er, all this light work I’ve been doing lately (which is fantastic bee tee dubs, but I’m starting to sense the price and risk associated with it all), a few lines of a song crept into my head this morning.

And through these doubts and through your confusion
Know that you are chosen to this fight
Look to find a soul filled with compassion
Look to see a living source of light

They’re from a song I heard…jeez, more than six years ago?  The guy I was dating then (we met in the most fantastic and silly of ways, and I need to get my ass out to the West and see him again when I’ve the leave and money to) gave me a mix CD from a gothy store once, and I immediately took a liking to a vast majority of the songs.  One of the songs was called Sophia, by the Crüxshadows, and it’s been one of my favorite songs for a long while now.  Not only did it get me more into EBM, dark dance music, and helped me out explore some of my more darker emotions and thoughts, but it’s been surprisingly fitting to my current work lately.

Despite affecting a very dark and edgy look, the Crüxshadows are very dominant with messages with life and light (which, I’d contend, is a mark of being a true goth).  Sophia is one of their big hits that made it onto several billboard records, but it also scored a big hit with me.  Now that I’ve started to work intensely with light as a force, I’ve started to rethink some of these lyrics in terms of my current situation.

After going through a small emo, ranty phase earlier, doubting pretty much what I was doing and only being told that I was doing things right even though I didn’t know what I was doing, I’m starting to see what the spirits and divination readings meant.  There is a purpose to what I’ve been doing, and even though it’s by no means complete, I’m just barely starting to get glimmers of what’s going on and how to get there.  And, to start with, this purpose consists of being a proper human being.  Right, human beings are animals, and we’re born into an animal dog-eat-dog (sometimes literally) world.  But as humans, we don’t have to kill, we don’t have to have packs and alphas, we don’t have to wage war on everything just to get our next meal.  We have the ability to help and share, right down to our emotion, minds, and spirits.

To be a proper human, we have to be able to act as light would in the darkness.  After all, we are descended ultimately from the Infinite Light, and even when we shut our eyes to it, the Light still shines around and within us.  It may be filtered through different crystals to form different colors, and sometimes it might be dimmed or warped or shifted to a degree that it becomes invisible to us but apparent in other ways or to other eyes; the Light still shines.  And it’s by knowing this Light, both outside us and inside us, that we know what we really are.

“How can I hope to be what’s inside of me?”  Look, and let the light guide you.

Litany of How the World Sucks

I’ve recently been hooked on an artist called Janelle Monáe.  You may have heard of her: she’s a fantastic singer and dancer currently working on a four-part series of albums about her android character, Cindi Mayweather, being persecuted and then leading the androids of Metropolis to freedom.  It’s a pretty neat sci-fi theme, but is certainly rooted in real-world problems in black and other marginalized communities.  Anyway, one of her more fantastic music videos is the short film “Many Moons”.  It stars Cindi Mayweather as the prototype of the Alpha Platinum 9000 line of androids, auctioned off at a high-stakes high-class gathering of some of the bigger names in the Metropolitan community.  At 3:39, though, things go awry in her “programming”, and she sees what living in the world can really be like.

The fast-paced lyrics for this part of the song:

Civil rights, civil war
Hood rat, crack whore
Carefree, nightclub
Closet drunk, bathtub
Outcast, weirdo
Stepchild, freak show
Black girl, bad hair
Broad nose, cold stare

Tap shoes, Broadway
Tuxedo, holiday
Creative block, love song
Stupid words, erased song
Gun shots, orange house
Dead man walking with a dirty mouth
Spoiled milk, stale bread
Welfare, bubonic plague

Record deal, light bulb
Keep-back kid, now corporate thug
Breast cancer, common cold
HIV, lost hope
Overweight, self esteem
Misfit, broken dream
Fish tank, small bowl
Closed minded, dark hold

Cybergirl, droid control
Get away now they trying to steal your soul
Microphone, one stage
Tomboy, outrage
Street fight, bloody war
Instigators, third floor
Promiscuous child, broken heart
STD, quarantine

Heroin needle, coke head
Final chapter, death bed
Plastic sweat, metal skin
Metallic tears, mannequin
Carefree, night club
Closet drunk, bathtub
White House, Jim Crow
Dirty lies, my regards

In no time, in each line, Janelle Monáe describes whole scenes of day-to-day life for people in all walks of life, from the blissful and high-brow to the most vulgar and depraved.  Bringing up plights of the poor, the sick, the misguided, and the trapped, she drives home what is driving Cindi Mayweather onto freeing people from their own plights and leading them to a better world.  More often than not, it’s their own trappings that keep them trapped (“you’re free, but in your mind your freedom’s in a bind”), their own upbringing causing vicious cycles passed down onto the next generation, and the one after that, ad infinitum.

This is the crucial part of the song, I think, that really answers one of the central questions of the whole Archandroid project: why is she doing this?  Because the world sucks.  The world hurts, the world is unfair, and most importantly, the world is our creation.  The world is not the same as the Earth (the material realm we live in) or the Cosmos (the sum of all experiences, all places, all thoughts, all of which consist in the All).  The world, quoth Margaret Case in the comic series “Promethea”, is “our systems, our politics, our economies, our ideas of the world…it’s our flags and our banknotes and our border wars”.  The world is how we’ve decided to make use of the places we work in and the resources and people we work with.  And, frankly, we’re not doing a very good job of it.  When companies put profit of their CEOs before well-being of their clients, when countries fight in other countries instead of helping them build, when institutions degrade human beings based on superficial attributes like color or creed or orientation, when people fight or struggle against each other for anything but the common and shared good of themselves, we’re doing it wrong.  It leads to starvation, discrimination, murder, sorrow, grief, and despair.

We need to remember humanity, both that of ourselves and the others around us.  We need to remember that, no matter how much we may dislike someone, they have a mother who gave birth to them, dreams and aspirations that lead them, fears and worries that tie them down.  We need to remember our race, heritage, and value, and we need to reclaim these things.  That’s the entire goal, according to Plotinus, because once we do that we remember who we are, and we remember to work with each other instead of against each other.  Once we awaken to what the world outside our little bubbles can be like, once we get our freedom out of the bind we’ve put it in, only then can we really be free to start working in and on the world, making ours better, and thereby making the shared world we all have better.

I’m adopting that set of lyrics above as a personal litany, a reminder that the world is not perfect and this shows how.  This is a display of the symptoms, not the causes; it’s up to me to figure out what causes underlie why the world sucks and how I can fix the ones I can tackle.  That’s not just my job: that’s the role of any magician.  Hell, that’s the role of any human being.  This is our Job.

Get to Work.

Apropos Perfection

So, it’s not apparent to many, but I’ve got a goth streak in me.  If I had the money and the social skill back in middle and high school, you’d’ve seen me dressed in fishnets, spikes, and whatever dregs of the goth subculture was filtering down through Hot Topic down to teens about ten years ago.  Now that I’m halfway done with my student loans and will be free of obligation to pretty much anyone, I might actually explore more of that side of me, fashion and otherwise.  It’s on my todo list to take a walk through my dark side in contemplation before too long; I might just tack this onto my ever-growing list of NY NY tasks.  Also, I’m considering an industrial piercing in my right ear and a transverse lobe piercing in my left, and this is from the guy without any body modifications whatsoever.

Anyway, I recently got hooked on more industrial and EBM-styles of music again, and I just discovered Aesthetic Perfection.  Besides having the most awesome style ever, this song has very strong parallels to my current practice.  Talk about reclaiming one’s race, heritage, and value as a human being.

One day, I pray, I’ll be a human being; stay with me, and have faith that I can change for the world.  It almost sounds like something I could tack onto my nightly Headless Rite practice.

“Never revel in recovery mode”

One of my favorite songs of all time is “Not that Big” by Temposhark featuring Imogen Heap, specifically the Metronomy mix.

I was first acquainted with it a few years ago when I was in my first real relationship, which had its definite high and abysmal points.  It brings up a good number of memories; rather, it has a lot of memories, feelings, thoughts, and sensations that it picked up as I listened to it back then.  I’m sure everyone knows the feeling of a particular song associated with a stage or part of their life, and I’m the same way.  Some songs are associated with happy times, others with sad times, and others with really important or pivotal stages in my life that really got me to where I am today.

One specific memory that this song brings up is walking past the front of one of the major academic/administrative buildings at my college (before they went and had another delayed construction project nearby, so there was still a massive parking lot in front of the building across the road and the sidewalk was a ribbon of asphalt).  It was at night, probably sometime in the late winter or early spring since I was dressed a little warmly.  The streetlamps were shining, giving everything up the hill where the building sat a dull underglow and everything below in the parking lot a bright orange glare.  The stars were out, and not many people were, so it was probably a weeknight and around 11 or something.  I remember walking past the building listening to this song on my third-gen iPod (before Apple got all touchscreeny) and not much else save for the distant hums of cars driving a few blocks away towards the town’s medical center and Main Street.

It was on that sidewalk that night that I was thinking about the relationship I was in with this one boy, who had also introduced me to the song.  Things were going mighty shittily, and I had started to make up my mind that it really wasn’t a great relationship to stay in.  We had already broken up once (with significant amounts of drama) then gotten back together (with yet more drama and much eye-rolling from all the people who knew what was going on).  There wasn’t much good in sticking around, and he was a good guy but it was doing much more against me than for me.  The song, I felt, was applicable.  Still is, in a lot of ways, so it’s taught me a fair lesson or two since I first listened to it.

For me at least, you can see how something as simple as a song can bring up a fair bit of memory and sensation.  Sometimes, especially when it’s from a pivotal or important part of my life, these memories can be completely immersive, with everything being reseen, reexperienced, and refelt.  Songs like this afford a pretty good opportunity to talk to yourself from the past and see what was going on, or what the hell you were thinking.  The more immserive the sensations from the song are, the better, and it’s easy to see why.

Being able to visualize clearly and really put yourself back in that spot helps you relive that time and experience what was going on, from the chilled breeze on your face to the stress in your heart.  With that experience, you can put yourself back into the timeline of things and know what’s happened and what is going to happen, something not afforded you at that point in time unless you’re mad prophetic.  With that sort of “foreknowledge” at the time, and a bit of detachment, you can really see a little clearly in what was going to happen and what should have happened with a bit more thinking or planning.  With a bit of detachment, knowing that this is really only a memory, you can analyze what was going on and what was going wrong, and give yourself a chance at consoling yourself meaningfully.  It can kinda be a means of healing or lesson-learning for events or situations that weren’t great, and it can be a powerful tool when used as a kind of pathworking or scrying during meditation.  (I realize that better situations in life don’t have as much negativity associated with them, but I’m sure things could always be reigned in or learned from again).

Besides, as the song says, “I’m gonna pick myself up and put myself together, never revel in recovery mode”.  Life, as it always has and always will, goes on.  Move on.  You’ve lived that, and now it’s time to live this.  Pick up any stray pieces, put back together any broken ones, and get to Work.