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“For those unacquainted with the blues, it is not necessary to know much except all blues sound essentially the same. What counts is the individuality of the singer, the soul of the performer. Everyone plays the same three or four chords; the melodies are almost indistinguishable, so the captivating part is what the player brings to the form. In the presence of a rare and gifted player or singer, one can capture for a moment a special feeling. It may cause you to cry or laugh. Sometimes it can change your life. It is this essence that compels everyone who hears the blues to listen to more.” – Michael Nesmith, The Long Sandy Hair of Neftoon Zamora.

“There exists a unique language, halfway between a thought and a gesture.” – Antonin Artaud

In Platonic philosophy there exists a belief of the perfect form of things. Any manifestation of that object or person is only an imperfect instantiation of the perfect form. Working with this model in mind, we all have pre-programmed into our minds the concepts that exist of these objects. It is not the rabbit itself that is the ‘rabbitness’ and in truth there is no form needed to truly encompass the idea of rabbit. This is to say, the concept of rabbit and rabbitness is independent of the actual form of rabbit. This can be witnessed by taking a picture of a rabbit and slowly taking away each part of it. What is the defining point? The nose? The whiskers? One ear? The tail? Or is it in truth the fact that you have an image of rabbit that goes beyond all of these things?

Should that be so – and in truth it is – you have now in your mind the ‘Style’ of rabbit. It is this that we are trying to capture and this that this note is focused upon. The concept of style is abstract, but it is also vital to understand in what I will be discussing in future notes at this time. To grasp the concept of style is to grasp the elusive, mercurial language that Artaud sought to exemplify within his Theatre of Cruelty. To understand style is to understand that ephemeral “special feeling” that Nesmith wrote as being a driving factor in the widespread appeal that the blues has been known to have. To be able to recognize style is to recognize an ongoing theme within the music of the late, great, Townes Van Zandt. It its these things and more that I am focusing upon.

To reiterate – the function of style, as defined here, is to serve as the all encompassing meaning behind any object or thing. Style is what makes a rabbit recognizable despite the condition it may be in. Style is what allows you to recognize that someone has entered the room and who that someone is before they speak – irregardless of any other indicators. Style is that innate ability to recognize things that we each have within us. As an alchemical concept, it is nearly pure abstraction, but a basic enough form of abstraction that we each should be able to grasp it with ease.

We can have Forums!

Alright, dear Readers, I have an announcement to make.  We have, for us, the addition of some forums.  Feel free to go and register if you’d like.  This will allow for better contact and more discussion.

All the topics discussed here are available, as are more topics, etc. and if ever you want something specific addressed – just ask.

In addition, there is a Contact section where you can feel free to suggest topics for future posts if there is anything you would like to have me address in the future.  🙂

EDIT:  Upon realizing that the previous site was being very unfair to its members and requiring them to register for “offers” I have decided to relocate to here.

The link above has also been fixed.

Totemism (Part 1)

The word totem itself can be etymologically traced back to the Ojibwe word ‘ototem‘, the meaning of which can be roughly translated to “he is a relative of mine.”  Ototem, then is a good way to start with understanding the spiritual beliefs behind the practice of totemism in both its social and personal forms.

In ancient belief it was seen that the distinction between human and animal was one of recent invention – prior the forms had been fluid, subject to change and alteration.  In this manner, it was viewed only as logical that a Clan could trace its lineage back to the Lion or the Crow or any number of various creatures.  The Clan name would be that of the animal, and generally it was seem as simply a surname, a tool to assist in maintaining exogenous relations and keeping track of everyone in the day to day.  The distinction had meaning, and a meaning that was well-established even between the Clans – the meaning, however, was certainly not especially personal.

The personal importance of the totem generally came into being once a person hit puberty.  It was then that they would be sent on a journey to discover the animal that was their own.  Those who had visions, who saw or communed with their animal, were given the higher positions within the group whereas those who did not were not held in such high respect.  The creature the teens would come back seeing in many ways embodied characteristics that they themselves held or desired, whether subconsciously or consciously.  It has been postulated that due to growing up in an environment that immersed itself with stories of these animals, the children were then predisposed towards choosing what creature was closest to them either consciously or subconsciously.  Which leads to the question of what a totem is:

The psychological aspect of a totem is one that has already been lightly touched upon.  People who are prone to totemic beliefs are generally those who have grown up in an environment where they are likely to be exposed to stories about these animals.  The animals, then, take on the psychological role of what the person is seeking to find, either inside or outside themselves.  In relating to the animals, they are then leaving themselves open to the suggestion that the animal is part of the identity that they may hold for themselves.

Joseph Campbell has spoken of totems as being the embodiment of archetypes – something that is easy to see through the traits each animal is supposed to posses.  In the times when totemism arose it was vital to survival to understand the workings of nature itself.  How the predator could ambush the prey.. and what response the prey was likely to use in such a situation.  The invisibility of the fox was something to be witnessed by the animals relative scarcity in the Northern Plains whereas the playfulness of the fox was emphasized in Japan where the fox was fairly present, invisibility still in essence but downplayed heavily.

Another way that the archetypal nature of animal totems can be seen is through the totems that people often find themselves choosing.  Wolves, Bears, and other large prey animals abound and the relation that people hold to these animals can be viewed in part due to what they have come to represent.  In the mindset of the majority of people these animals are seen as the ones that primarily symbolize “the wildness of nature” and “strength” which is what people tend to expect to find within their totems now – as opposed to the personality characteristics which previously were embodied by the animals.

Meditation *Part 1*

Meditation is a practice that has been gaining popularity in the United States since the 70s. The purpose of meditation is manifold, and it is hard to argue against the benefits that it can offer to the general practicioner. Even if casually dabbled in, meditation can help cure insomnia, reduce stress, and energize and revitalize you in mind, body, and spirit. For those interested in any sort of magickal practice, meditation is also the first step to take.

The first step to meditation, and often one of the most complex, is figuring out what to visualize when sitting there with your eyes shut. It is recommended to visualize a place that is calming to you, a place where you feel at peace. The place must be pictured in every detail, every sensation – do not hold back, you are trying to recreate this location within your mind.

There are two locations that I can think of where I felt truly secure and at peace. The first was Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. One year I went there in January, and it was virtually deserted.

If I close my eyes I can picture the way the beach looked at night. I can imagine the way the sand felt against my bare feet, chilly yet still yielding, devoid of the graininess present during the summer due to moisture that lingers in the air. I can imagine how cold I felt, shivering in my sweatshirt with the hood drawn, but how good I felt still.

I can imagine the scent of the ocean, salty but sweet with the tinge of some underwater plant rotting in the breakers. I can imagine the crispness of the winter air and the very feint scent of food from the restaurants out beyond the boardwalk.

I can imagine the way the wind bites at my bare cheeks, even with my hood up. I can imagine the taste of salt left on my lips, I can imagine how good all of this feels. For me, this was peaceful. For me, this was security.

The second place that I visualize is the field behind the elementary school I attended. During recess I used to lay on top of a metal car skeleton, looking up at the sky and watching the red tailed hawks circle. I would shut my eyes and feel the warm sun beating down upon me. I would smell the scent of pine and hay, the earthy scents of the farms near the school. I could feel the cool metal and lose myself to the calmness of the decidedly rural scene.

Do you, readers, have any similar memories that calm them? Would you all consider meditation as a form of stress relief?