Sunday, January 27, 2013

Winter's Pattern

Summer rushes through fall, long after it should retire.  It's bones and sinews older, ragged, kept awake at night by rheumatism and indigestion, powering through the day on a steady drip of adrenaline.  Hits winter's wall: Slow down!  Winter cracks its whip, ice where once was blood.  Movement becomes impossible, the body wants hibernation.  To go underground until spring, exploring caves in darkness where the temperature stays the same. Wiping chalk and blood on the wall, leaving a lasting human legacy like garbage, like plastic, forever.  The sun spit back out again, and the sleepers wake, leave the cave.

At 11 below 0 farenheit, the first breath I take in the morning hurts.  Nose hairs and snot freeze immediately. The ache that takes 20 minutes in 20 degree weather sets in within 20 seconds.  3 minutes later frost begins to form on my mustache.  Having lived in the south for most of my life, I have yet to adapt to this experience.  Cold infiltrates.  Drills to the marrow,  can feel it all day.  Even after I've sequestered myself back in the warmth of my cave for a few hours.

The fascicular spiral, wound tightly round bone in summer has less torque, less potential with frozen tissue.  Warming up seems to take more time, I have yet to master tummo, but still grasp at stoking cellar heat.  I won't give up.  In winter I feel my age, or older.  Aches and pains don't disappear and remain for days before abating.  The heat of practice stills them somewhat, but distracting my neurons seems more effective in most cases.

In the absence of movement I can watch for transmissions issuing forth from the hole in my brain.  Make something out of nothing.  The active brain searches, watches.  The tired brain interprets.  Winter questions survival, brings out the death trance, very peaceful, very visionary.  I write everything down now.  I draw it all into a story.  Winter provides the opportunity to get work done without the distraction of the out of doors.  I can stay in my warm, modern, cave: drawing and dreaming until the harsh season's secret explodes into spring.

12 more pages by September.  I think I can I think I can I think I can I think I can.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Do you remember the first time you saw something that changed your life completely and immediately imprinted some new possibility for reality that you would never have otherwise considered?

The first time I can remember this happening, I was about 5 years old.  My father read a lot, a lot a lot, the house of my childhood had walls lined with shelves full of dusty books. The living room in particular had 2 large bookcases all full of various articles of classical literature and thought: works by Homer, Chaucer, Aristotle, Erasmus, Keirkegaard, Aquinas, Shakespeare, Huxley, etc.  All great magicians in their own right.  On the lower shelves were books with wonderful pictures of dinosaurs, sea monsters, aliens.  A small space on the bottom of the lefthand bookshelf held my father's small comic book collection.  His mother disposed of the collections of his youth (except for a few vital items) when he left for college.  Sometimes, very wisely, he would read to us from this small collection letting our eyes linger on the pictures while he did the voices for the each of the Avengers or for Spider-Man.  I remember having an affinity for "The Vision", but only vaguely.

No, what really stuck, and changed me, happened on one fateful day while I was home sick with strep throat, or walking pneumonia.  My father stayed home to take care of me and I asked him to read a comic to me, so I could follow along.  On this day he pulled three oversized comics off the shelf.  These 3 were reprints of Tales from the Crypt, the Vault of Horror, and the Haunt of Fear, respectively.  For the next couple of hours my father good lord, -choked- his way through every story, pausing after each to survey my wide-eyed, fearful, face to ask if I'd had enough.  "More" was my answer.  On this day I was reborn.  My brain permanently changed.  Bernie Wrightson, my new hero.

Art and magic have an inextricable link.  Change in accordance with personal will broadly defines the goal of magic.  What change?  Environmental changes, physical changes, internal changes, really any change as long as the will accomplishes it.  These changes come much easier when a practitioner learns to communicate with whatever they wish to change, by learning the language either through careful study or intuition.  Change occurs first in the mind, as an idea takes root and begins to prune away long-seated opposition with nimble and dextrous fingers.  As the process continues it works its way through the body, altering motor units to produce, ultimately, some manifestation, some pattern for others to follow.

You can never know what lies inside of another person beyond their anatomy.  The information they spit out through their various signals has a high degree of noise, as does a person's ability to receive it.  Through constant meditation and practice, people seem the same, oneness steps forward, the clay all mashed together, all brown and grey.  Then because sensitivity to certain things inside creates a type of knowledge through its experience,  this can apply itself meaningfully to others.  Thus begins compassion and empathy.  Learning the language of people.

I draw to communicate.  The tandem paradox of spoken words both abstracting and specifying renders them mostly meaningless.  In order to understand someone by speaking to them, so many words have to come out of both people, this vocal torrent constantly checking and editing itself on the fly to ensure the other party understands.  With a drawing or painting, the effect occurs almost immediately, and the viewer can linger in silence.  The imprint can happen immediately.  Art allows the inside to come out, so people have the opportunity to acknowledge internal processes, and sympathize, or empathize with them.  It causes long lasting or permanent change in others as well as in the creator AND it manifests some critical internal idea.

I started writing and drawing a comic in July after a lengthy daily practice and meditation with a singular goal in mind: to reconnect myself to my will (HGA).  What emerged was the germ of an idea I had carried with me from childhood to know, that has taken many shapes and had many false starts.  All signs said "THE TIME HAS ARRIVED".   The Crowelyan true will.  My will's flow interrupted by life, work, sloth, etc.  But I always come back to work on it.  Getting faster every time I sit down.  Working hard at communicating clearly.  Sometimes I have second thoughts.  The trickster universe throws so much in front of what I feel I need to accomplish.  Crowley would say that means I've found the right track.  Slowly but surely, all blame on my father for instilling me with a love of comic books as a child.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Illumination's hooks

Self-Discipline, at first,  can provide a critical foothold in the war against whatever habit (physical, emotional, mental, systemic) no longer serves.  Gradual synaptic change requires this humble strength, won through willful masochism.  The patterns of life largely find their creation in chemical reaction and the firing of neural pathways, the ensuing combination of neurotransmitter and hormone cascading into subtle, hidden sensation, floats upwards into the system of habitual process.  The impressions left in the matrix from moments and events become all the deeper when they seem to repeat, even if only in spirit.  Life resembles chaos, and the events often only have meaningful connection here in the broadest strokes.  External patterns provide security from either their predictable structures or from their simple beauty (essentially the same thing).

While appealing to this broader perspective provides a certain sense of calm and a feeling of rising above whatever discomfort the experience engenders, the habit of objective participation must first develop.  While some possibility must somewhere exist that accidental lifestyle and habitus themselves provide this critical habit, most of us require hard work.  This work all the harder because the work will not feel natural at first.  Eventually it gets better and larger more intricate patterns emerge from what seemed the aether, but now tangible connection.  As the altitude inclines the tendency towards uprooting and dispersal steadily increases.  Looking down provides practical solutions, but without great care the gaze moves up towards something wholly different.  Upon looking back down, the seeming mirage of details sweats away, lost in beauty all grounding vanishes.  This insipid dispersal has far reaching, hazardous implications first for punctuality (because time is not divine unless measured in days!).   As more awareness withdrawals from the body and pumps itself upwards into this newfound archon colds, flus, simple illnesses begin to occur more regularly, nothing terribly pernicious, but providing an oscillation of subtle and abrasive incapacitation.  All this while maintaining self-discipline.  Now the head expands, and the imagery and revery that fills where only emptiness provides liberation, seem more important than eyes-opened.  And when eyes-opened, an overlay of ever-increasing complexity falsely imposes itself over the most basic of events.  Two extremes either lost in the detail, or the largesse.

Attachment to a set of actions eventually renders their ritual fruitless.  Mistaking discipline for the specific actions undertaken in its name occurs with great regularity.  A special type of staleness sets in, removed from normal resistance to change it will increase steadily with time.  Moderation in moderation.  The ability to recognize this only comes with prolonged exposure to and participation in attempts at self-discipline.  Once the actions are removed, discipline reduces quite simply: the ability to direct the entire capacity towards one particular thing repeatedly.  AND the ability to change this one particular thing with a minimum of concentrative dispersal.

The best practitioners maintain a defensible position by transmitting no sakki.  Preparation for events can only occur as they happen due to our constant inclusion and communication with the process of reality.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The second dragon

"Tell me... 

At what precise moment... 

...does an individual stop being who he thinks he is? 

You know, I don't like complications. 

Cut off my arm. I say, "Me and my arm." 

You cut off my other arm. I say, "Me and my two arms." 

You...take out... 

...take out my stomach, my kidneys, 

assuming that were possible... 

And I say, "Me and my intestines." 

Follow me? 

And now, if you cut off my head... 

...would I say, "Me and my head" or "Me and my body"? 

What right has my head to call itself me? 

What right?"

~The Tenant, Polanski, Brach, Topor 1976

Old challenges rise up.  The same complex interactions that allow for habit and breaking habit, the firing of neuronal sequence, can, sometimes, push old connections and patterns to the surface.  The game seems stacked against having a body in the first place.  What with its two brains.  Old habits die especially hard with a greater number of champions, lying in wait.

If you look at an image of the human intestine, particularly the small intestine, it bears a striking similarity with its winding, labyrinthine convolutions to the gyri and sulci of the brain.  It comes as no surprise then that this part of the body contains its own, partially separate nervous system.  Although it still receives a great deal of enervation from the CNS it contains its own patterns of learning and development, habit.   These habits and mostly private impulses direct everything from peristaltic rate (through Basal Electrical Rhythm), to secretion of intestinal and stomach juices.  Having a nervous stomach.  Even when the brain's bravery waits manifest.  Seems like a cruel joke.

Clearing out the brain's, and even the body's,  habits of nervousness and tension may not be enough if there are deeply engrained patterns of illness and violence lurking somewhere beneath the abdomen's surface.  The gut has a delicate sensitivity, too much of one secretion or too little of another and you get to know the feeling of cool porcelain on cold/hot sweats.  If a body habitually vomits due to some pathogen for a long enough period of time, it will continue to vomit long after the destruction or removal of the violator unless some other intervention occurs.

The sneak in your head, you do well for years and years, then the smell of hospitals or roses triggers some long dormant pattern of neuronal chaos and you find yourself back where you began or even worse off than you started.  Most of the time, with your brain, its relatively simple to determine what caused the downfall.  Who uses the gut as the primary center of consciousness?

What factors contribute to the firing of old habit in the gut?  The factors from the CNS can be mitigated consciously and easily enough, but what internal factors contribute?  Textures?  Chemicals?  Without concise consciousness in this vital center this may never be known.  While some say "open this chakral center" that phrase has no real meaning.  Directing awareness in this place seems a simple solution for experiment.  Awareness will accrete where the breath directs, does a sentient sensation follow or does the mind, as usual, play tricks?

The vagus nerve, so called due to its wandering, like a vagabond, down from the brain to the heart and to the gut.  Due to its location and structure it contributes signals to heart rate and the perstaltic, digestive, movements of the gut, all this from the brain.  The vagus nerve passes through the diaphragm, the primary muscle of respiration.  Ideally, and with training, breathing occurs almost solely through this mighty pump.  As this muscle rises and expands laterally, sensory portions of the vagus nerve receive stimulation.  When this stimulation reaches threshold, the nerve sends information about respiration rate to the brain.  Slow and deep, and the brain begins to turn on the parasympathetic circuits eventually triggering a rest and relax response, slowing heart rate (remember the vagus nerve enervates the heart?) and easing peristalsis.

While this may not cure a closed system gut freak out, remember that in this battle, you have powerful allies within your own body.

 Counting from the first, this post IS post #39. How appropriate.