Magic Isn’t Fun Anymore

Magic isn’t fun anymore. I’m on the wrong path. I’m not having fun any more.

Magic isn’t fun any more.

I wrote a poem about it. I won’t expatiate or gall you with self-pity any more than that.

I’ve lost the Word — lost Mystery —
Imagination barren — abiding in Atrophy —
How recover the Angel in the Word? —
When Sun’s a beetle — Earth — a Turd? —
A path I — thought — would gift me the Moon —
Word & World — both sere — clashing Weeds —
Dead stalks in this blazing — Noon —
Dream has reft His very Self from — me — Woods
Call to me — no more — I
I am Poor — I am Poor —
Great Pan is Dead — They say, A Lie —
The Great God Pan — to me I know
Did surely Die —
The Path — but the Path — the very Path I — walk —
Did I — did the Path — did the Daystone stalk
The Great God Pan — and kill? —
Or was it my Will — my Will — my Will? —
The Will of the Will of the Will of the Will —
I know this — the Word is a Corpse — to me —
World without Word — this cannot —
Will not — shall not — Be —
New Paths anew — Seek them without Seek —
Thus — by Chance — again I — and by Grace — may See —

Don’t Fight Your True Will: or, Follow Your Own Crooked Path

February 2011 I was in agony. Every sound, every sight, every moment hurt. And the hurt made me behave like an asshole to my wife and children. I now believe it was entirely because I was slowly, inescapably coming out to myself as a transsexual woman and I fought that truth of who I am so hard.

Early March I packed my truck and left my wife, my children. I went back to the mountains where I’m from. I broke my family’s heart and almost destroyed myself in the process. I’d say it was stupid, useless, but I also believe that — secretly from even myself — I returned to my old home to discover who I really am. I’m a transsexual woman. In part I knew the truth. But I was so scared. I fought it.  Alone, with enormous challenges but surrounded by the sights of my childhood and the melancholy beauty of the Smokey Mountains, I was finally able to come out to myself a few months later.

Sitting on the porch of my new place, my man-cave, I wrote this poem one Spring afternoon. It’s obscure, it follows no rules. A belief in rebirth or metempsychosis is implicit. But, for me at least, it’s visceral. I reread it and I can feel the pain, distantly, again. My recommendation to you is, Don’t do this to yourself! The last two lines say as much.

The good thing is, this story has a very happy ending. Maybe I had to take the pain first and overcome it, which I did, in order to come out to myself as trans. For what it’s worth, here it is:

 When you've not much — And
 Your little agonizes —
 You'll give All up —
 You will cry —
 Keen lost agonies — As I
 Agony of agonies sup —
 Wish for — Any End —
 My beauties tore —
 My loves rent — Me —
 So poor —
 I now flee Moon —
 As Sun before —
 I seek some — Empty Tune —
 Though no End may Be —
 To Raucous Organ's score —

 The Grinder's Inept — But
 Forever the Roar —
 Awls in Ears —
 Infinite Years I'll Prance —
 Words, words — Gut
 Like trout are —
 Infinite years — I Only —
 We only mock some — Dance —
 Aeons, aeons more —

 Gnosis pays Dividend —
 I found, flipped the switch —
 Dark makes — this Sound — Stray
 Dear Friend — And
 Into Grey bend —
 Not Night, not Day —

 Stay your Hand — Let itch
 That envied Itch

Make of it what you will. An object lesson, maybe. If you’re life’s graph paper places you outside the bell curve, that’s OK. As somebody said, “Wherever you go, there you are.” Accept it. Accept it radically.

I came out during an unforgettable all night vigil in July. Five weeks later I moved back to the Piedmont region to be near my children. I thought there was a slim chance my wife would let me be part of their lives. I moved into an apartment that made the tornado-proof trailer I was living in in the highlands seem palatial, it was so bad, but I was a 15 minute drive away from my family. A slim chance, I thought … so I came out to my wife…

And, slowly, something strange happened. —I’m back home again, my real home where I belong—with my wife and children. My wife and I are more in love than we’ve ever been I believe.  I’m home again and my wife and children accept me just as I am: as a woman. I’d not have believed that possible when I first returned to town.

I’ve been full-time about three months. I’ve been on hormones 9 weeks. The morning I voted in the presidential election, two days ago now, I overheard a hushed conversation: “That person’s name is <birthname>?!”  Like they could not believe I was born in a male body.

But I had just showered and cleaned up—and I looked good.

Spiritual Purity and the Empty Places

On FaceBook, Lance Foster shared this:

“Life for us has become an endless affair of trying to improve ourselves, achieving more and doing more, learning more, always needing to know more things. The process of learning and being taught has simply become a matter of being fed facts and information, receiving what we didn’t have before, always being given something different from ourselves. That’s why whatever we learn never touches us deeply enough; why we sense this the more we rush around trying to find substitutions for the void we feel inside. Everything pushes us outside ourselves, further away from the simplicity of our humanity. “-Peter Kingsley, In the Dark Places of Wisdom

Many thanks to Lance for quoting this. I haven’t read him, but Kingsley seems, if I may judge by only one paragraph, an excellent writer and thinker. And a timely one. I need to read him. (Peter Kingsley’s book Reality also comes highly recommended to me). —Meanwhile climate change changes faster. Greenland melts away. Arctic sea ice will soon be gone. Our world civilization is on the brink of running out of not just energy but water (water! does no one see what might be round the bend? — wars, the biggest human migrations in our history — surely you can see that something will arise from our running out of water).

This disaster and disordering of the macrocosm is mirrored in the microcosm, in us. It is mirrored in, most importantly, our souls. I think it’s this inner disaster area that we must in all honesty call our souls that Kingsley is talking about above. I think it’s a good guess that most of us, me included, usually find our souls in states of disaster. Nowadays, at least, I usually do. It’s only rather recently that I’ve had hints and guesses concerning another way to be/live/do.

When our souls are in states of disaster the following sorts of things begin to happen. They’re sure signs that spell DISASTER AREA sticking up out of the deep waters of our souls. They’re like strange anti-Excaliburs and it isn’t the Lady of the Lake handing them to us. In fact, we’ve already seized them by the hilt and it’s ourselves we’ve wounded with them. Whether your poison of preference is overachievement or the endless pursuit of pure knowledge or too much time goofing off on the Internet, we’re most of us metaphorical cutters now, committing self-harm in our efforts to feel real.

We neglect listening to the birds sing, and the sigh of the wind. We no longer see the color of flowers or of a gray, rain-filled sky — how beautiful they are. We cease to sense the Gods — or God, or the Great Spirit, or “Him who speaks with the voice of the winds”, whatever your preferred words for external spiritual realities might be. We lose our connection to  — not just the spiritual face of reality but even more the soulful face of itand we fall out of touch with ourselves, and our lives are gray. Or worst of all, we dwell in “those whited regions where [we’ve] gone to hide from God” (Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian).  Beautiful, perfect reality has now become, in Robert Lowell’s phrase, “the whited monster IS.” We do not see the hints or read the inklings that we already live in the Pure Land. If fact, the notion becomes absurd. It’s a hard road to find, the first steps of the road to the Pure Land, and a hard road to remember even once we’ve found it, and hardest of all to find it again when we invariably lose our way.

Meanwhile we Westerners pursue the hollowness of our electronic lives. Orwell got everything wrong in 1984. But Aldous Huxley got it just right, in his preface to the 1946 edition of Brave New World: “A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.” Read that again: this is us, this is you and me. Here. Now. We love our servitude. We love the psychic robbery committed upon us by our overbusy, overconnected Western lifestyle.

But—enough of my dystopianism. Back to the emptiness where our hearts should be.

I’m becoming very familiar with the “void we feel inside” that Kingsley mentions. I’ve become slack in my thoughts and deeds and oblivious of the world around me. Just a month or two ago I remember thrilling to the choruses of coyotes late at night and to the hooting of owls and the wind in the pines. Now I don’t listen for them anymore. —My transition, of course, has occupied of most my awareness already, my head-space, and that’s OK because it’s a necessity.  But now I’m losing even what’s left over. And the worst of it is that it’s happened so quickly, just this last week or two. There were warning signs beforehand, of course, which I ignored. And now I’m drifting into the maw of the “whited monster IS.” I’m living in my own private Unknown Kadath in the Cold Wastes. This has happened because I’ve not been paying attention. It’s scary how it only takes a few days of inattention, of laziness, bluntly, for me to lose my way.

Perfection is unachievable of course. But even a small lapse in self-vigilance can lead to days of just staring at pixels, and loss of the awareness of the world we’ve struggled so hard to attain. That’s me, at least. —Maintaining a state where I’m at least partially aware of reality itself and more than just pixels on a screen, or “current events”, where I’m caring for my body, soul and mind, is very close to what I think of as “purity” in my magico-spiritual practices.

And thus I’m in purity free fall and must take steps. Today. Starting with a spiritual bath. Then maybe a frankincense smoke bath later. These are outward deeds, but such simple real-world acts are, for me, the best first steps on the path back to some measure of inner purity. I highly recommend such outward deeds for outward purity, they’re good rudiments for beginning the journey back to inward purity. Truly they always remain useful, and maybe they even remain necessities. I’ll meditate too, and stretch my stiff muscles. If I’m very, very good, I’ll pray and sacrifice.

I’m not positive in my mind about my equation of Kingsley’s “rushing around trying to find substitutions for the void we feel inside” and the lack of purity of, especially, soul. But it works for me this afternoon. The notion will have to do, for now.