October? I Hardly Know Them

Now that I’ve not only made an awful joke, but messed it up on purpose because it’s so awful, welcome to October! October is a hell of a month for me. Probably like most of you, I like Halloween season. I also like autumn. I got married on Halloween, so that means my anniversary is coming up.

Also, though, my dad died in October. And it’s usually midterms. And while I like the weather, it’s bad for this circulation problem I have in my feet, so I begin the long journey of wearing lined slippers until May basically.

But I’ve got a window open and I can hear wind in the bushes and trees, and also traffic which is less good but ok. This post is, like my recent work, more in the way of personal reflection. I like to use October as a chance to think through the year, in some ways. I’ll try to make sure there’s something useful in here as well though.

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Hanging around in the Turn of the Seasons

Or, the Equinox as a Necessary Breathing Space

As of my writing this, on Sept. 25, the Equinox has come and gone, though for many of us, stuck between tropical storms and perhaps even hurricanes, we still feel balanced between two winds pushing us in opposing directions. I, like many folk, observe the equinoxes, but perhaps in vaguer, and less powerful, ways than it deserves. So I thought I’d write about what I think it is and what it can mean to us. It’s the pause between things, after all — and I wonder if our cultural assumption that we have to be "always on" affects our enjoyment and use of what turns out to be a cosmic day of rest.

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Development, Tree Branches, and Justness

Let me tell you about the trees in my backyard. And then, I’ll tell you something about how to think of life, and why all these horticultural and biological metaphors I use matter.

I’ve written a lot — like a lot a lot — in the past year about a few things. Tarot is one. But another is the "ecosystem model" of magic and spirituality. I’m not sure yet if I’ve really said what I think the point is. I’ve talked about why using a gardening metaphor can helpfully complicate Hermeticism. I’ve written on how a strictly linear model of the universe ignores the world we actually live in. And so on, so forth.

But it’s worth asking, right? If I’m not insisting that this model is somehow more fundamentally correct than others, what’s the point? And I’m not insisting on that.

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Mutual Reception in the Tarot Minors

I sat down recently and tried to figure out if any cards in the tarot minors create a situation of mutual reception. If I didn’t miss anything, eight cards do so. That creates an interesting situation in which pairs of cards are linked by their planetary rulers and thus can be contemplated together, as though they’re linked in some way.

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Eruption at the End of Things: the Tower Sequence in the Tarot

I was thinking about how the Lovers card is an expression of Gemini and brushing my teeth when this sequence dropped into my head, almost fully formed.

These three cards — The Devil, The Tower, and The Star — are in order, and what’s more remarkable about them is that they are two Saturn cards bookended around a Mars card. And with that, an entire sequence, a narrative, forms around the three cards that is worth investigating to increase our facility with reading with and meditating on these cards.

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Stage and Ground: Scenic Tarot and the “Open Reading”

Open reading is a concept that, as best as I know, comes from the Marseille tradition. There’s much more to it than this, but you can think of it this way: looking at the way the cards are oriented on the table, do they look forward or backwards? Where are the obstructions? Taking in general patterns visually is how I might try to define it.

Now, the thing is, a lot of figures in Waite Smith decks are in scenes, which is to say, their facing can’t be taken on its own. They face certain directions to convey certain information already, and so while you could call attention to many figures facing backwards, some of them may or may not fit in with the overall "open reading." This essay is an attempt to test out certain possibilities for using the Waite Smith’s famous scenic composition to recreate a kind of "open" reading through distance.

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The World is a Forest, Not a High Rise

This essay is on ontology, and anyone who’s spent five minutes talking with me knows that I don’t really care for that much. I find it, at best, irrelevant, and at worst actively pernicious, backing people into corners that they must then act from. Trying to figure out where something comes from, if it’s a constant, is much less useful than figuring out how to interact with it and how we tend to think of it.

However, this post is, as I said, just that. It’s not that I don’t have ideas about the spiritual ontology of the world, I just don’t prioritize them so much. This is more common than you might think: anthropologists have recorded some indigenous groups saying that they do technically have a creator god somewhere, but they’re not usually prayed to — to the point that many won’t know the god’s name. Now, please, keep in mind that’s some studies of some groups, not a blanket statement about all indigneous peoples. I’m just pointing it out to demonstrate that while I may be a crazy person, I’m not that crazy.

Basically, the problem for me with many contemporary religious, magical, and Hermetic conceptions of the source of all things, the capital g God. The Big Boss, is that, well, it’s a god, a Big Boss. This isn’t exactly rare. In fact, it’s fairly common. So when I say to you that I don’t find it satisfying, I’m not exactly criticizing anyone who does. This essay probably won’t change anybody’s mind. But all magicians should practice thinking with multiple world views when they get the chance, right?

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Ineffable Experiences and Effable Gender

After what let’s call a "heated debate" on the HHoL, I find I have something to say about the perennial problem of gender, and especially the gender binary, in occultism and mysticism. I’m not going to bury the lede here: they’re just not things. Genders, I mean. They can be important to people’s experiences, but they cannot be ascribed to things outside of our social context.

That’s basically the thesis. Oh joy.

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