“Wellness” in the Culture of Capitalism

Heavy title. I know.

Seems pertinent.

Seems pertinent.

A friend of mine told me I should talk about a “writing exercise” on here. So I am. Yes, this has everything to do with writing.

The United States needs therapy. As a Whole. It needs to get in touch with its humanity, because too many people are trying to make too many other people into tiny business models. I feel we’re artificially being injected with a new form of beauty, and it’s corporate beauty. Dollar signs look so very, very delicious.

Right?

For those of us who disagree (myself among them), some of us have a difficulty understanding how to find our humanity, or even ourselves, among the overstimulating commercials, the numbing effects of fake sugars and complex carbs, and the general desensitization toward sex and violence. We also live in a culture of instant gratification: faster phones, communication, shorter distances, etc. And the faster you get it, the better you supposedly are at being an American.

I disagree.

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My Brand of Fantasy Magic

…isn’t really fantasy at all. Magical realism, perhaps?

I recently re-watched Constantine (starring The Man of One Face: Keanu Reeves), where the protagonist spends his life fighting to keep the balance between heaven and hell via magical relics, know-how, and insight into traveling to hell and back. He’s dark, brooding, quippy, and so self-destructive he’s dying of lung cancer. It’s a delve into what I consider magical realism: people, many people, believe wholeheartedly that the ability exists (even if it’s only for one person) to… insert random miracle here. Be it travel through hell, talk to the dead, turn water to wine, transform into a totem-animal, talk to rocks, converse with ancestors long dead, see auras, dowse, possess another person/animal.

A lot of people don’t. And that’s cool. A lot of people pursue religion as a form of self-government, so instead of spending the time to understand themselves, they look to religion: “This is bad (according to the Book), so I won’t do it.” It also kills multiple birds by creating a community of similar-thinking people, which reinforces the feeling of “this is right.” Which is cool. That’s what certain governmental bodies do. And we’re governed by many circles, be it personal, family, friends, religion, spiritual (separate from religion), communal, work, local, federal, world. And that’s just what I pulled off the top. This is a digression and I’ll stop it now. I’m trying to show how this also holds its own forms of power: any single one of these bubbles could specify “this is bad” and a person follow it simply because, well, someone says to. Even the “personal” circle. Which in itself is a form of mind control.

I had a simple purpose when I began writing twelve years ago: have fun, connect with people, share my thoughts. It’s still the same purpose, albeit a little evolved. My thoughts developed into something a little stronger: magic is real. Some magic is real. Not all. Magic Missiles and two hundred foot orc giants with enchanted tree trunks for armor isn’t. Science keeps trying to say it has all the answers worth knowing (while people touting Science as the new religion also try to say, like a marijuana enthusiast, Science has ALL the answers), but it doesn’t. Neil deGrasse Tyson recently said, “That’s what’s so great about science. You don’t have to believe in it for it to be true. It exists without your permission.”

Mostly.

I know enough about Science to know the importance of “observable” and “human fallacy.” I’ve been reading about human beings having more than five senses. More like nine. Pressure, balance to name two. It really doesn’t matter how often Science revises what truths it accepts as fact. What matters is it’s always changing in its definition, always updating its databases.

Next, to define science into two subcategories: hard science (physics for one) and soft science (psychology for two). I know too many well-meaning Science worshippers who put it all together. Soft sciences, the stuff our thoughts are made of, the stuff of our dreaming, of our extra-sensories, of our deeper knowledge, of our abstract pattern recognitions, is very wide open and mostly unexplored, despite the 100 or so years we’ve had to study it. Why? Unobservable. Or, difficult to observe. Assumptions based on calculations and patterns of tests.

Magic is a soft science. In fact, eventually, all that “magic” will fall into some sub-sub category of either a sense or quirk of one or two chromosomes in some errant mutative family line (or, you know, something a person develops through meditation and a proven set of practices). Since our realities are subjected to the extent of our senses, there is nothing–absolutely nothing–to say I can’t dream another person’s dreams, for example. Or travel a place constructed wholly of peoples’ thoughts, over time, like a great big living world placed overtop our own. Or fight constructs of modern religion with sheer self-certainty alone.

We all give off energy. That’s a fact. We exist because of it. Byproducts of processes going in in our bodies. We can’t see it. We assume the effect of said energy release is negligible to our surroundings simply because, since we can’t see it, it doesn’t exist.

I find a new awakening going on, in this culture. In this society. A long, long time ago, during the time of the birthing religions (200 BC to, say, 1000 AD), the understanding exploded of a second, third, and perhaps even fourth sublayer above the Real. This is the stuff of the new old religions. It is the backbone. Now that religion is failing so many people of this time of “Scientific Certainty,” they’re turning to Science and Atheism. Which is cool. They do their thing. As long as they aren’t killing in the name of Neil deGrasse Tyson, it’s all gravy.

The New Reformation, I guess, comes. Or a Second Enlightenment. I’m only sorry I don’t get to know it fully.

So the magic I use in my writing comes from a deep place, a sub-tonal to the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, and the Gitas, and the Books of the Dead, and whatever else. It comes from a constructed place–a governing place similar to those I listed–where the reality is multi-faceted, science is currently too short-sighted to involve itself, and energy talks with the voice of long-dead preachers. The magic I use is energy, plain and pure, built up on the shoulder-plates of imaginative thinkers and socio-pariahs like Einstein and Twain and Jung who, in another century (or life), would be heralded as prophets or even gods.

My brand of fantasy magic comes from the coupling of intelligent thought and passionate realization, of fever dreams and deep stillness. My brand of magic is the extent of the human condition, of spirituality that exists for itself, of ripe power sieved through governing filters. And that’s just in the reality.

In my writing, it collects the results of What Ifs and runs tests until the pattern is undeniable in its repetition.

Sorry. Magic is a lot of things. For me, it must stem from reality. It must stem from science and its branches are religion. Its fruits are you and I, the readers and writers, and it’s more than simply an axe-like tool. It’s a whole undiscovered place, like a continent with slightly different rules. It’s a way of breathing. It’s a way of bleeding. It’s a way of interaction.

It’s so. Fucking. Sexy.

I prefer Coleman Barks for Music

Spirituality is creeping into my lifestyle again. It’s always been there: creeping around, playing tricks with me, dancing at seemingly random odd times of importance while I ignorantly stare at its naked behind.

So I embrace it. I should always have embraced it, truly, but I was more caught up in the rest of the world, making ends meet, surviving, and trying to enjoy time with my fiancee. You know, diabetic stuff.

I made a dreamcatcher last week, two weeks ago, after taking a recommendation from Cygnus. She made one about three months ago, and had just recently finished. It’s a bit more difficult to make , much more time-consuming, and in the end much more rewarding than I initially thought.

First off, Hobby Lobby is my best friend. I didn’t have to, but I ended up spending over 50 bucks at the place just to get the materials I needed. You don’t need to spend that much money. You can stay under 10 dollars if you shop there. Why?

Nature is Free. I’m talking about everything nature. Shells, wood, stones, all that—free. I spent money on shells because Illinois is landlocked, though if I looked I’d find plenty of periwenkles and oysters. In fact, I bought river pearls. They’re purple and cool and I’m gluing them to the outer ring as soon as I get the opportunity. Now, if you DON’T buy these decorations, what DO you buy there?

A ring if you don’t have it—although you could use branches, scrap metal, or anything else that strikes your fancy that’s laying around—twine/rope if you don’t have it, and I decided to put an extra layer of leather around the ring to protect the twine’s fragile taut rope rings from damage.

This is a Native American tradition. I extend no deeper knowledge/spiritual insight to the religions of the Native Americans except my love for spiritual objects and my love for dreaming peacefully.

My experience in scouting comes into use with the knots I incorporate. I use a “clove hitch” for the starting/cementing knot on the ring, and over/under knots for each “loop” on the spiderwebbing outer edge. Clove hitches are best to use while cinching a rope to a round object because whether your string/rope is flat or round, it cements it strongly in place every time. Plus the hitch does a great job of minimizing movement on the ring.

After the over/under knots are finished (I made 14 around my circle), you weave the rope through the open loops left behind. Note: Make certain you have more than enough rope to spiral around around twelve times. Otherwise, you’ll be adding a bulky knot to your rope. Not a bad idea if you like that: the end result won’t look much worse. I’m just not a fan.

You grab a big glass of tea/coffee/goldschlager, and boldly embark on a three-to-six hour ordeal of listening to your favorite Sitar music and focusing on not tightening the rope too much as you spiral your way around your inner dreamcatcher. Try to meditate on cool things: stressful thinking turns this art project into a mire of wasted effort.

Add beads/trinkets to the rope as you go, if you like, or leave it blank. The dreamcatcher’s web is finished when the holes for threading your rope are too small for you to fit your rope. I tie the rope off as simply as possible—nothing special here, just make sure the knot isn’t too bulky (triple half hitch is overkill).

A second clove hitch for my 1mm thick leather rope, and I then spend another 2-5 hours spiraling the metal ring in black leather. It looks so much nicer when I’m finished.

Cygnus added feathers of birds she felt connected to along the top and sides, and shells from a previous dreamcatcher. I had pewter beads in a spiral, and the aforementioned river pearls to add. I also have a shock of driftwood I found roaming the wilds of Vermilion Lake that I’ll be incorporating to the bottom of the piece. Perhaps even some white paint.

It’s fun. Decoration possibilities are endless. There are even other ways to thread a dreamcatcher—I just don’t know of them.

It’s a fantastic meditation tool, and the end result is a wonderful decoration, if not a strong spiritual object.