June 26, 2011

A New Season of True Bleeding

Ah yes... the new season of True Blood begins tonight. Is there a seer out there who can tame the powers needed to tell me if they'll be able to recover from their miserable third season?

Even ratcheting up the sex and violence- which they did nicely in season 3- couldn't spare them from lame story lines, needless character assassinations, and more insufferable Anna Paquin as Sookie. I'm certain that Madame Paquin is a gifted actress well suited for other roles, but I've always felt that her casting as Sookie was a mistake on the part of the casting team.

The added touch of the Wiccan who showed up at the end of season 3 and performed the worst pennyroyal tea administration ever seen was just the new-age icing on the cake: and she had to have been the most realistic depiction of a Wiccan yet seen on television. (Her invocation of the "Goddess" was majestic- up to and including her "Okay, she's here!" announcement after glancing up into the air above her circle.)

I think I speak for everyone when I say: Eric, grow the long hair back and stop getting skinnier... Pam, please get your lesbian on more... Jessica, please get more camera time and less clothing on... Lafayette, you are awesome and you need to become the main character, not whiny annoying Sookie. And if your brujo boyfriend has any power, make sure you learn from him. And Sam: please stop being a douche and turning out to be a killer with a bad temper. We know you're really a nice guy, no matter how much the writers want to add a ridiculous "dark" dimension to your character which is totally unnecessary.

The Second season was probably the best, so long as you could ignore the shameless and inaccurate equating of Dionysos with Satan. Beyond that, superb. Good and realistic characterization of fundy Christians. Good show, really. I hope it gets good again.

Being from South Louisiana, it is impossible for me to avoid watching- and critiquing- a show like True Blood. I'd watch it just for the artful opening sequence, if nothing else, which captures the delirium of my homeland quite well. I have always watched the show hoping for a more "in the right spirit" depiction of southern occultism, but always been dissatisfied. Naturally, it being television, I never expected an overly accurate depiction. But as an occultist, it is my duty to examine all angles of popular culture for traces of the Old Sorceries and Old Practices when they arise, for arise they do, in surprising ways.

True Blood as a whole is, in my opinion, a good show. I like the blend of grit and humor and sex and the supernatural- and I've always loved Vampires and shape-changing things. Perhaps it is the distant blood of the Balkans in me; whatever the case may be, the swamps of Louisiana are a good place for sweltering mysticism and blood drinking, even today: if the mosquitoes don't get you, creepy rednecks or black worshipers of snake gods will- or maybe just teams of idiot libertarians who are all in denial about being republicans.

Sadly, the fictional town of "Bon Temps" is set in North Louisiana, not south, where it properly belongs. There are no Cajun-seeming enclaves of Spanish moss and good old fashioned southern hospitality between Monroe and Ruston. Charlaine Harris is certainly using her imagination big time there- trust me, as someone sentenced by Fate to spend a lot of time in Monroe, you would be more likely to find redneck, Budweiser-swilling werewolves, actual vampires, and cheesy dancy fairies in North Louisiana, than you would a town like Bon Temps.

All is well. All is as it should be. Join me in watching the beginning of Season 4 tonight, as we go into our new season which (from what I understand) will have "real" witches as the main bad guys- and dark powers preserve us, Harry Potter's aunt from the HP movies plays the lead witch. Aunt Petunia's gone to the dark side! I hope she can overcome the Petunia thing, to give us a good villainess.

June 6, 2011

Spell of the Crossroads

Spirits of this place, weirds of needled pine, of stout oak, weirds of ragged grass, of wild onion, of nettle, of dandelion; weird of the seven-sharp holly, weird of the brown rot mask that hides a black soul, weird of the choking wet heat that rakes fingers into every space, weird of the buried stones, weird of the iron spikes, weird of the screeching locust swarm, weirds of the twilight birdsong, weird of the water trickle, All you indwellers of this lonely place, the strength of the mighty God's blessing be yours, as my words speak it so!

The Master of the Word is present in this spell spoken for you, made potent with the warmth of my breath and my very life! Know that His power swiftly accomplishes what my words declare. Here is the Water of Life, and the white milk of the nourishing cow, poured into the land for your increase.

By your leave, let it be that I pass through your tangle of bodies and shapes unseen! Faces in the ground and wood, move aside, give way, and part the hedge for me, beyond which lies that Hallowed and secret place where the Road to the North crosses the Road to the West- the radiant and dark heart of all places, which touches all lands seen and unseen and joins them together in fateful union. There at the crossed roads, I will make petition to the Master who has flown on the road of the Sun to his invisible throne at the crossing of every forest, road, hamlet, bog and meadow.

Cunning Master, Oldest Thing in the Land, Clever One that moves to the ends of the Earth and back again with the ease of thought, you guard the gate marked with your own sign, admitting whom you will. Open the Door to All Places for me, and let that door close when it must again. Master with two faces, Master who holds the keys, Master of spirits, herald of Great Majesty, open the Door to All Places for me! Between the country of living men and the country of dead men, let me know the true gate and the true crossing in my soul, and let my fetch move like a luminous moth through the eternity beyond.

You are the utterance of these words, Master; I celebrate your invisible fire in me, and my flesh thrives with your secret life. You indwell this very breath! So let these words pass the Crossroads on the witch-wind and reach those powers that my heart desires! In the Name of the Old Trinity, So mote it be.

June 5, 2011

Some Myths Die, But Myth Never Dies

The Onion- America's finest (and most humorous fictional) news source recently published an article entitled "Church Canceled Due To Lack of God." As funny as the story was, it got me thinking about the collapse of modern organized and revealed religions in the west, and the need for a mythical life in us, despite the failure of certain myths and the organizations that calcified them to death.

I think that churches are emptying not because "god" isn't real, but because "god" isn't what people have been taught to think it is. They are falling apart on the weight of their myths- the particular myths embraced by Christianity are heavy and clunky and can't hold up to modern scrutiny. Of course, I think myths are generated in every era- a "myth" here being a story we tell ourselves to explain things. Atheists particularly hate the word "myth" because they think it just means "made up and fake", but as any student of actual mythology (or analytical psychology) will tell you, "myth" has more functions than just empty explanations, and they are more than just stories told in the pre-scientific world.

So, for me, "myth" almost never means "fake", however, SOME myths have outlived their usefulness- assuming they ever had any- and crashed and burned in the modern world. The myths of Christianity are perfect examples. The sad thing is this- ancient people were not just ignorant primitives. The human psyche has not changed that much in 100,000 years. The contents of our psyches, the focus of certain aspects of the psyche- those things have changed. But the innate intelligence, adaptability, and perceptiveness of humanity has remained constant.

New bodies of knowledge have been created, but the psyche of man has remained the same- and the psyche has a myth-creating function, because the psyche is itself a mythical force, a story-generating power that is part of the larger story of "mankind".
I think ancient people understood that greater powers were part of our world, and part of us. There is nothing "out there" that isn't "in here"- this universe is a whole, not shattered, sundered parts. It is one great event, and our psyches are just the medium by which we receive this universe in symbolic form. Our languages, for instance, are another expression of the symbol-creating function and the assignment of meaning to sounds and signs.

The ancient peoples knew that there was a massive, deep, dark depth to everything; they knew that life and intelligence was not limited to just themselves. They expressed these half-conscious insights in many forms, and certain "myths" arose to suit that expression.
The problem is that the mythical function of the psyche has to alter itself to suit the changing of the world and the changing of the psyche, which are two events that might be seen as a singular event with two ranges of intimacy, at least from our perspective. When organized, revealed religions "locked their canons", they froze their myths and refused to evolve.

This is the real reason why they are rightly scorned as false today. Their conception of "god" is meaningless outside of the original culture that manifested it, though the power that was interacting with that culture likely was an autonomous collective of force that really affected those people, and defined their character, as they went on to define its character.
But was a single culture's notion of "god" the absolute? Of course not. It was an event of power- full of the predictable errors and terrors that come with humanity- unique to a certain time and place. The only relevance it has to us now is as a warning, and a guide on the path of avoiding the dangers of absolutizing moments long past. The powers of our Ancestors, and of our time and place are still working in conjunction, this very moment- and waiting for the Seers among us to recognize what power means today.

This universe holds more for us than we can realize at this point, and only the hints that come in non-intellectual dreams, visions, and intuitions still remain- in that dim way- to alert us to the fact of the mysterious vastness that exists. It's fashionable these days to worship at the feet of the Gods of Rationality- the pantheon led by Sagan and his fellows- and to dismiss the non-rational and the non-intellectual as so much background noise, but I think this is just as big an imbalance as existed when we killed people like Sagan, and floated in defiance of the intellectual.

I side with Jung in his insistence that rationalism and doctrinairism are the diseases of our time. His full and superb quote (from "Memories, Dreams, and Reflections") reads:

"Critical rationalism has apparently eliminated, along with so many other mythic conceptions, the idea of life after death. This could only have happened because nowadays most people identify themselves almost exclusively with their consciousness, and imagine that they are only what they know about themselves. Yet anyone with even a smattering of psychology can see how limited this knowledge is. Rationalism and doctrinairism are the diseases of our time; they pretend to have all the answers. But a great deal will yet be discovered which our present limited view would have ruled out as impossible."

He goes on to say:

"We cannot visualize another world ruled by quite other laws, the reason being that we live in a specific world which has helped to shape our minds and establish our basic psychic conditions. We are strictly limited by our innate structure and therefore bound by our whole being and thinking to this world of ours. Mythic man, to be sure, demands a "going beyond all that", but scientific man cannot permit this. To the intellect, all my mythologizing is futile speculation. To the emotions, however, it is a healing and valid activity; it gives existence to a glamour which we would not like to do without. Nor is there any good reason why we should."

On the question of the myths of life beyond what we call "death", the Master Jung waxes even more powerfully. He says

"...Naturally, such reasoning does not apply to everyone. There are people who feel no craving for immortality, and who shudder at the thought of sitting on a cloud and playing the harp for ten thousand years! There are also quite a few who have been so buffeted by life, or feel such disgust for their own existence, that they far prefer absolute cessation to continuance. But in the majority of cases the question of immortality is so urgent, so immediate, and also so ineradicable that we must make an effort to form some sort of view about it. But how?

My hypothesis is that we can do so with the aid of hints sent to us from the unconscious- in dreams, for example. Usually we dismiss these hints because we are convinced that the question is not susceptible to answer. In response to this understandable skepticism, I suggest the following considerations. If there is something we cannot know, we must necessarily abandon it as an intellectual problem. For example, I do not know for what reason the universe has come into being, and shall never know. Therefore I must drop this question as a scientific or intellectual problem. But if an idea about it is offered to me- in dreams or in mythic traditions- I ought to take note of it. I even out to build up a conception on the basis of such hints, even though it will forever remain a hypothesis which I know cannot be proved.

A man should be able to say he has done his best to form a conception of life after death, or to create some image of it- even if he must confess his failure. Not to have done so is a vital loss. For the question that is posed to him is the age-old heritage of humanity: an archetype, rich in secret life, which seeks to add itself to our own individual life in order to make it whole. Reason sets the boundaries far too narrowly for us, and would have us accept only the known- and that too with limitations- and live within a known framework, just as if we were sure how far life actually extends. As a matter of fact, day after day we life far beyond the bounds of our consciousness; without our knowledge, the life of the unconscious is also going on within us.

The more the critical reason dominates, the more impoverished life becomes; but the more of the unconscious, and the more of myth we are capable of making conscious, the more of life we integrate. Overvalued reason has this in common with political absolutism: under its dominion, the individual is pauperized."