A Précis of My Horrors

No persona now. No mask. Just some bare and barren truths about my life, my depression, my anxiety disorder. Anxiety is too weak a word of course. Just some truths about my horrors.

—Two days of hypomanic blogging which garnered me new followers and likes and views of my blog. Then the horrors began. The days, months, years that came before of course were not free of horrors either. But a new season of horror had come, a new arising of horror.

I am frightened that it was in fact hypomania which fueled me those two days. Hypomania and perhaps thus some variety of bipolar disorder would be a new prize in my collection of disorders. I have not contacted my psychiatrist about the possible hypomania as my therapist has repeatedly encouraged me to do. I do not want new pills to take. I do not want to have yet another disorder in my brain, yet another mental illness. So I do nothing, irrational, quite paralyzed by fear.

I sit here in paralysis unable to force myself to move for hours at a time. I neglect showering, brushing my teeth, eating, even going to the bathroom because I simply cannot move. Trash accumulates in the kitchen where mold grows on a long unwashed bowl. Clutter clots the living room and bedroom. My apartment is an embarrassment, a folly, a horror to me. I am out of food that does not require preparation and I do not visit the grocery store so I sit here, pangs of hunger arising and then vanishing again into nothingness. Some days I neglect sleep. Some days I sleep most of the day and night, waking for an hour or two. During my waking hours I generally do either literally nothing, sitting staring into nothingness while I wait for the horrors to pass, or I watch television shows on my computer. Occasionally I chat with friends, friends I have never met in real life, on Facebook.

Two days ago I thought I was going mad. My friend Stephane typed these words to me:

I wish I could just take the hurt away and make everything better

I cried — because no one had said such sweet words to me for years. Crying made things a little better. For a while. I was chatting with Stephane while fearing that I was becoming insane or already was insane. The fear was unbearable. I typed to my friend quickly, frenetically, in an effort to ease the pain, the fear, in an effort to express it somehow to someone kind enough to listen, or rather to read. Getting it off my chest however did not help. I took a two milligram Xanax and two capsules of Neurontin. In about an hour my terror had subsided into the background. Now I knew why I feared and whence the terror. I had been suffering a panic attack, a new species of panic attack with no physical symptoms and no fear of death but instead a fear or rather a certainty of madness. Now I attempt to take the Xanax-Neurontin cocktail every six hours because Xanax is effective, according to Wikipedia, for about six hours. As I take four two milligram tablets of Xanax every day taking this cocktail every six hours is practical, sensible, and feasible.

—I was going to type, to tell you so much more, but my mind wanders and clouds. I wish I could tell you the truth about mental illness, my mental illnesses, my major depressive disorder, my anxiety disorder, and now, I fear, a possible bipolar disorder although this remains undiagnosed and, I hope, spurious. But I can’t express it to you, I can’t convey it in words. And why would you, my dear readers, even want such a thing conveyed to you? You have no reason to want such a thing.

I am a powerful sorceress — when I am well. Even now I have spirits that protect me while I am unable to protect myself. My therapist knows all about my sorcery and my experiences with spirits, magick, and so on. She does not think these things madness. Rather she thinks my madness hinders my powers in these arenas. I believe she is correct.

Was it wise to attempt a précis of my horrors? I am also infinitely weak. Was it wise to air this fact to the entire Internet? Will I lose face before my small but beloved readership? I do not know the answers to these questions. Fortunately I do not care about face and I am either wise or a fool and cannot change which one I am, whichever that may be.

I value the truth. I value the minority, the unloved, the despised, the Other. I am mentally ill. Therefore I have attempted to tell you the truth about the unloved minority which is comprised of the mentally ill, we who are most certainly Other. If you have read this broken account I hope you have learned something or have otherwise profited from your reading of it. Much love to you. —Rachel Izabella

 

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I Ain’t All That Depressed, Folks

Melencolia_I_(Durero)

Melancholia I, Albrecht Dürer

A few of my friends read my post about losing my cat Wednesday and my depression and got worried about me. But —

As it turns out, I’m hardly depressed at all. I believe I may have a slight case of dysthymia (very low-grade depression, self-diagnosed), but that’s all. What I needed above all was some peace and quiet — a good dose of solitude. I’m very introverted, and I was getting way too much input under admittedly trying circumstances.

Rather paradoxically since I’ve moved and am living alone I’m being much more social. I have friendly neighbors, and I like to sit outside my apartment and talk to them. Add that extra people input to days of busy-ness searching for my cat, acclimating to my new environment and way of life, etc., etc., and it all added up to a major case of emotional, sensory, and people overload. I’ve increased my alone time considerably, and the overload has mostly vanished along with the very short term depression. I still feel unhappy at times, but that’s about it. A lot of the time I feel great.

In other words it seems not to be a case of depression. It was a bad case of what’s known as unhappiness. That’s all. I apologize to all those who were worried about me because I used the D-word (depression).

So — dysthymia, probably … depression, no.

And, yes, if you’re wondering, I’ve talked to my therapist about my possible dysthymia. We agreed that I may have a case of it and that it’s nothing to worry about.

Love. —Rachel

Wednesday, Depression, Magic

Wednesday My Cat

This is a picture of my cat Wednesday. He’s been missing for one week now. I haven’t given up hope, but neither am I counting on ever seeing him again. It’s a difficult act of emotional juggling.

I’ve divined about him, I’ve done magic to get him back, sigil shoals and deals with spirits. A friend even had a direct perception of him (the term direct perception is from the Greek Magical Papyri) but either my friend’s vision was faulty or when I got there Wednesday had moved on. I check the animal shelter’s website several times a day, I’ve described him to every neighbor who’s walked by as I sit outside, and I sit outside my apartment sometimes late at night, just in case. —Nothing. Wednesday is probably just gone. I can’t bring myself to divine again whether or not he’s still alive.

Now I’m going to go all antinomian on you and confess a nigh unforgivable sin. —I’m depressed. There, I said it.

Life’s handed me a lot of lemons over the last couple of months and I managed to deal with them one and all — and quite well even if I do say so myself. But Wednesday’s disappearance and the cases of me getting my hopes up when somebody tells me they’ve seen him but it turns out not to be him after all — my brain couldn’t deal. It’s a mild depression and it won’t last very long — I know my own history in such matters all too well.

The stigma attached to depression in our society isn’t as bad as it used to be — in most circles. But in the small world of the online occult community most still speak of their problems guardedly, or not at all. As if a magician or witch or sorceress were supposed to be able to ward themselves from every ill whatsoever. I’m exaggerating, of course. But when it comes to a mental illness, I may not be exaggerating at all.

Well, fuck that. I’m depressed!

So what am I going to do about it? I’m going to do magic, that’s what. Magic is the ultimate antidepressant. It won’t magically cure the depression, but it sure is a lot of fun. And a lot of fun is about the best thing for depression. —I’m rather pious, and for a lot of the more pious pagans out there their Gods are what make their world go around. Not me. For me it’s magic. Magic rocks my world. Magic is my panacea. (It’s a good thing, btw, that my Patroness is a Goddess of magic.) —Well, magic isn’t literally a panacea. But it feels like one.

If you’ve read much of my blog I hope you know that I value openness and honesty. I value them over saving face. I felt I owed it to my readers — the few, the loyal — to explain why I’ve let the blog languish … yet again. Well, now you know.

Now, if you’ll excuse me I have some magic I need to go do.

Frankincense Cures the Blues: And Other Uses

frankincense-resin-incense-pack

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or mental health professional. If you think you might have serious depression or panic attacks please see a doctor. There, that’s out of the way.

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There is scientific evidence that frankincense can relieve depression and anxiety in mice. The abstract for the scientific paper can be read here. You can also read the article on frankincense on Wikipedia (which is where I got the above link). Through personally trying it out I can confidently state that frankincense has the same beneficial effect on me.

What does this have to do with sorcery? Aside from the sorcerous connotations of burning clouds of frankincense, it’s a basic principle of sorcery — or it ought to be — that mundane efforts and sorcerous efforts should always be worked alongside each other. And if the sorceress herself is depressed or has a panic attack, what is she to do? It’s hard to do magic when depressed, and it’s impossible when having a panic attack. The cunning sorcerer/sorceress resorts to mundane uses of materia magica. (She also resorts to chamomile tea and valerian capsules.)

The sheer effectiveness of breathing rather thick frankincense smoke for an hour astounds me. This presupposes a rather small room, easily fillable with incense smoke. If you’re house is huge, or you happen to be unavoidably outside, wafting the smoke into your face and breathing it in deeply will suffice nicely. That’s the treatment.

Here’s some anecdotal evidence. After a long stressful day yesterday I had a very, very sudden panic attack at about 9pm. I went to my shed, lit the charcoal and put it in the censer, and sprinkled a few lumps of frankincense on it. Soon the smoke was a think fog in the small shed. I added a couple more lumps of frankincense and sat down to meditate. I dozed off for a few moments, and then continued to try and meditate. I had some odd visions of following a stag through a forest at night that just came to me with no will or effort on my part. I added one more lump to the censer, and my frankincense “bath” lasted about an hour or maybe seventy minutes all told. —My panic attack was almost completely gone. A slightly elevated heart rate was all that was left of it.

Then I took two valerian capsules and went to bed early.

I know from experience that the same treatment is effective for me against a feeling of mild to moderate depression. I’m not a doctor, as I said, and if you think you may have major depression, please see a doctor, but — it works for me. If life has got you down, give it a try.

Frankincense does not work, however, for everyone. A few friends have told me over the Internet that frankincense has no psychoactive properties for them. You may be one of this unfortunate group. So the title of this blog entry isn’t a promise, it’s just a probability.

If you don’t know where to get any frankincense I can recommend two places. For the highest quality visit http://www.alchemy-works.com/. Harold Roth carries the best herbal and other plant products sold on the Internet, in my opinion. You should also visit http://www.luckymojo.com. Their frankincense works just fine, but it’s the astounding number of different items they sell there that you should look into and explore.

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A Note and a Question.

Frankincense also has the property of drawing good spirits. By “good” I mean spirits who are more compatible with humanity and are more likely to do you a good turn if you ask them, maybe even for free. Their simple presence increases the degree of pleasantness in an area. They lighten and improve the atmosphere or the vibe of a place when they are around.

To me this raises a question. How much is the lack of these good spirits responsible for one’s low mood or anxiety in the first place? How much does the presence of mostly “bad” spirits cause one’s low mood or anxiety?

Usually people speak of how call ’em bad spirits are attracted to sickness, depression, anxiety, etc. They’re not commonly seen as an underlying cause of the condition. In fact the notion that spirits cause sickness might be viewed by some as primitive and superstitious. —But what evidence do we have that we’re not getting cause and effect backwards in our modern thinking?

It could well be, in my opinion, that the presence of the good spirits drawn to your frankincense home remedy is a contributing cause to the efficacy of frankincense. We are not just chemistry: we humans too are also spirits.

My 2¢ worth. —Much love, Rachel Izabella

How I Learned Astral Projection

I learned astral projection by accident, or at least unintentionally.

In 2007 I had to quit my job. It was not a happy parting. I’d been set up to fail, to make room for a reorganization. When I realized this, all I could think about was smashing my boss’s kneecaps with a baseball bat and destroying all of the organization’s data — wipe the servers, wipe all backed-up data. I could have done it. I’d been the sysadmin for years. But I didn’t really want to hurt anybody, deep inside, so I went on disability. In conspiracy with my then psychiatrist and therapist I was conveniently and quickly diagnosed with major depressive disorder. All those years at half the pay I could have made in the corporate world — I earned that disability. Those five months of hideous stress — I was in truth majorly depressed.

I didn’t get any better though. I started driving 90 miles an hour down country roads full of curves, and doing other dangerous things which I don’t feel like divulging. I was suicidal in other words. I think I didn’t get better because I was in such deep denial of my transsexuality. I was in trouble.

I started seeing another therapist who specialized in clinical hypnosis. The first thing he taught me was to meditate. The second was self-hypnosis, which he was honest enough to just call trance.

I was good at entering a trance state, really, really good. I was reading C.G. Jung at the time so I knew about active imagination. I read Michael Harner’s Way of the Shaman, which is a terrible book anthropologically but is a pretty good guide to journeying in your own mind, your own psyche, and the Imaginal World, as scholar Henry Corbin termed it. Another term for the Imaginal World is the Astral Plane. The big secret about astral projection is it’s easy. The reason it’s easy is sort of mind-boggling, at least when you experience it in so-called normal consciousness. There simply isn’t any boundary line, astrally, maybe even energetically to some extent, between you and the computer screen you’re staring at right now, the chair you’re sitting in. Also, Paracelsus rephrased the famous Hermetic maxim As above, so below to As within, so without. La Société Voudon Gnostique has taken it one step further: What is inside is the same as what is outside. And they’re right. The Voudon Gnostic Workbook may seem like a huge joke, but it conceals (I have this on the most excellent authority, a sorcerer whose skills I admire tremendously) a flexible, powerful system of magic. You can experience this yourself if you become familiar with your subtle body. The channels or meridians that end at your fingertips do not end at your finger tips. They don’t even end with the keyboard you have in front of you right now. They don’t really end at all. When you literally feel this, when you feel that there’s no line of division, no terminus, between you and the cocktail table in your living room — well, the first time it can make you feel a little crazy.

But I digress. The point to take away from that is that it’s easy to astral project because you already have an astral body, and it’s not, not all of it anyway, firmly attached to your physical body the way your chi or prana or energy is. Journey enough inside, and one day you may accidentally journey outside, projecting part of your consciousness outside your physical body and into the Astral Plane.

That’s what happened to me. I thought it was all crap, after all, shamanism, the Astral Plane, occultism, all of it. So I knew no fear and pushed my inner journeys farther and farther until they weren’t inner journeys any more. I was astral projecting and I didn’t even know it.

Astral projection isn’t dangerous. You can always just open your eyes, snap out of trance and be back in your body. You only need to project a portion of your consciousness outside your body, not all of it. Projecting all of your consciousness into an astral construct, a procedure so often recommended by some magical organizations, is difficult and potentially dangerous. Project part of your consciousness, and part is still with you — there’s no possibility of getting lost because you can always snap back by opening your eyes. Project all of your consciousness — you might well get lost. There is no silver cord as so many books state attaching your astral body to your physical body. It’s a myth. Also I was taught that creating a stable astral construct to house your consciousness conceals an even greater danger. Upon death, the energetic body dies. Normally, the astral body decays in a few days. If however you have created a stable construct to house your consciousness and astral self, then getting stuck — not moving on to wherever the destination of your yet more subtle bodies is — becomes a possibility. Supposedly it seldom happens, but it can happen. So, as for me, I trust no book that says you must loose consciousness completely or that astral projection is difficult or that you must create an astral construct to house your consciousness. None of that is necessary for safe and completely successful astral projection.

So there I was having a blast. It was so much fun that I limited myself to two “Travels” as I called them per week, because I have a bit of an addictive personality. They say that on the Astral Plane men like to fight, women like to have sex. When I projected I almost always, without intending to, assumed a female form (even that didn’t fully clue me in to my transsexuality — though eventually I began to believe I had a woman’s soul, a belief later mentioned to me as a truth by several spirits I’ve evoked). Having striven for many years to be the man I could never be, and being truly a woman, I did both: I fought monsters and I had astral sex with spirits. I saw spaceships around the planets of Sirius (not necessarily the star Sirius you see in the sky — the Astral Plane is complex in ways I can’t describe, redundant and unmappable). I spoke with Gods, and one or two of them may really have been the Gods to whom I thought I was then speaking, I just don’t know…

It got to the point where I had trouble some days not spontaneously entering a trance state every once in a while. Especially during meditation — at some point I stopped meditating and all my meditations were really trances. It was at this point that something happened that changed my life forever — I saw my first astral being, a spirit in other words, while I was going for a walk in the woods. How did I know it wasn’t a figment, a hallucination?

I’ll save that for another post.

I’m not going to teach you how to astral project. There are already too many how-to’s in print and all over the Internet. I recommend bearing in mind my two warnings above: don’t project your entire consciousness and don’t create a permanent astral construct to house your consciousness. Other than that, it’s easy. You may not succeed your first time, you may not succeed your tenth time. But if you persist, you will succeed.

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 —

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.