Spellbound

February 17, 2018

Two women on a train
sit beside me.
I am young and the world
is flying and I am watching.
One of them is frosty.
The other turns like a leaf
to hand me something? —
it looked for all the world like a page.
I thought at the time
that it needed me and I was right.
The letters fell into place
and simple flowers grew.
Now it talks unceasingly
in long white verses
as if at a wedding,
something women understand
and gently want and then regift.
I myself agree with Herbert,
who in a dark mood conjured
the mushrooms underfoot
unseen by bride or groom
and with him I say, Perhaps
the world is unimportant
after all, though this is not
what one discusses with
women on a train, no matter
how long the journey,
or untroubled the land.

Sara Miller

modern sexual magic

February 17, 2018

ritual

…the origins of modern sexual magic flow out of two very different currents in the Western religious imagination. The first is the largely fantastic, but remarkably enduring, nightmare of sexual license and black magic that was associated with virtually every heretical group from the Bacchae down to the witches. For the most part, the charges of sexual licentiousness brought against them were the mimetic projections of the dominant order’s own fantasies, fears, and desires, now deflected onto the mirror of these marginalized groups. But more importantly, these fantasies tended to center around specific fears of social and political subversion. Many of these groups, such as the Gnostics, Bogomils, and Cathars, did in fact seek some form of liberation from the existing social order through their sexual practices. Ironically, like the early Christians, these groups were usually highly ascetic, at times even antisexual. And yet they were attacked as dangerously subversive, not because of what they were actually doing – namely, challenging the dominant systems of marriage and religious authority – but instead for the imaginary crimes of sexual license and black magic. As we see in popular novels like The DaVinci Code, this highly imaginative narrative is still very much with us today. Brown’s story once again revives the image of ancient groups of Gnostics performing secret sexual rites, even in the face of ongoing persecution from the Catholic Church. Indeed, Brown’s description of the secret Gnostic rites seems to be taken directly out of Epiphanius and other early Christian accounts:

“ On a low, ornate altar in the center of the circle lay a man. He was naked, positioned on his back, and wearing a black mask…. Straddling her grandfather was a naked woman wearing a white mask, her luxuriant silver hair flowing out behind it….[S]he was gyrating in rhythm to the chanting….The chanting rose to a fever pitch. The circle of participants seemed almost to be singing now, the noise rising in crescendo to a frenzy. With a sudden roar, the entire room seemed to erupt in climax.”

Hugh B Urban
Magia Sexualis

an initial gift

February 17, 2018

wriiting 5

Anybody can write. You know, one of my daughters teaches writing at a community college. She teaches kids how to put sentences together, and then make the sentences hang together so that they can express themselves in writing as well as they do in speaking. Anybody with a normal IQ can manage that. But saying anybody can be a writer is kind of like saying anybody can compose a sonata. Oh, forget it! In any art, there is an initial gift that had to be there. I don’t know how big it has to be, but it’s got to be there.

Ursula K Le Guin
Interview with Choire Sicha 4th September 2015

impenetrable darkness

February 17, 2018

a storm at sea

…overwhelmed by the sense of that unknown infinity, like one bewildered by a strange persecution, confronting the shadows of night, in the presence of that impenetrable darkness, in the midst of the murmur of the waves, the swell, the foam, the breeze, under the clouds, under that vast diffusion of force, under that mysterious firmament of wings, of stars, of gulfs, having around him and beneath him the ocean above him the constellations, under the great unfathomable deep, he sank, gave up the struggle, lay down upon the rock, his face towards the stars, humble, and uplifting his joined hands towards the terrible depths, he cried aloud, “Have mercy!”

Victor Hugo
The Toilers of the Sea

ABYSSES OF THE UNCONSCIOUS

February 17, 2018

There are strange and wondrous things in these lands of darkness…I must intoxicate myself on magic perfumes in order to fathom the secrets that lie hidden in the abysses of the unconscious.

Carl Gustav Jung
The Dionysian Self
Letter to Sigmund Freud