Wednesday, December 10, 2014

ANOMALY

Twice this week already different people wanted to praise me for my thoughts about math and magic. I don't think I deserve any praise as I don't think that having math thoughts or magical thoughts is so special. Culturally speaking, sure, the two clearly belong to two distinct fields. One is science the other woo. But that is only if we're speaking culture and hierarchies and good name versus bad name.

I never think of math, or when I literally dream about solving Riemann's hypothesis or that Cantor comes to see me, as something weird. Just as I never think that divining for a math solution with cards is weird. It wouldn't be the first time the cards have helped real mathematicians formalize their proofs.

I have math thoughts simply because I find math beautiful. And I have magic thoughts simply because I find magic useful. The fact that people have informed opinions about each is not something that interests me, especially when these informed opinions are the result of ignorance. Not everyone has heard of real numbers and complex analysis and not everyone has any clue about divination with cards. Which is fine. I also happen to be ignorant of many things.

But I wonder what the world would look like, if we simply stopped thinking that disciplines are separate, and that if I'm interested in one thing, I cannot possibly also be interested in the other thing. What if my reputation will be busted if people knew I flirted with the woo? Now there's a real concern. I wonder what Cantor would make of that. He was ever so afraid of that imbecile algebraist, Kronecker, who kept putting sticks into his wheels.

As a general rule, I believe in nothing. I keep saying this but people don't believe me. And I think of separateness as being a question of perception, not a question about the thing itself.

I live. And as I live I put my aliveness in the service of my curiosity. And that's all.



Image: 'Bestiary' by Hugo of Fouilloy, 1270 
Public Domain, Digital images part of the Getty’s Open Content Program

Monday, December 1, 2014

GREENS

My sister has celebrated today the Romanian National Day. I don’t do anniversaries. But while she was sporting the same Romanian national costume blouse as she had on some 40 years ago, commenting on Facebook that she hadn’t grown much since then, I was having a Romanian moment myself. Albeit, a twisted Romanian moment, as I rightly consider myself between the worlds, neither here, nor there.

In fact I almost blurted at her caption for her picture, something about how being a Romanian is either a blessed curse or a cursed blessing. Honestly I can't care less about what being a Romanian means - and technically speaking I'm a Dane now. I believe that what matters is how the others see us. I wanted to say to my sister that she had better reflect on perception, than on entertaining the illusion of belonging. If you ask the Danes, among whom we now both live, about Romanians, they’d tell you that all Romanians are a bunch of criminals and thieves. If you ask the Romanians themselves, ah, well, there’s nothing like a Romanian, they’d tell you, without necessarily specifying anything by it, but happily suggesting that it’s a good thing. I said nothing, however, simply because I was busy with my own perceptions: Of the culinary kind. Now that is something I am much more fond of than either politics or cognitive philosophy. And I don't like to waste my time investing great effort in proving people wrong when they decided that they are right - about what kind of lot you're made of.


I was cooking some green stuff the way my mother used to cook it, though my soup in the end had absolutely nothing to do with either what I used to eat in Romania or what my mother used to concoct. Quite befitting, as I’m not in Romania anymore. 

I kept throwing more green stuff into the pot, one and two and three and twenty different kinds, while thinking of the day I mourned for three days the day the best chef on the planet, Keith Floyd, died. Now Keith had the same style of cooking as me: throw into the pot neither too much nor too little, but just exactly as much as it's necessary. But then he'd keep pouring some more vodka into it plus more garlic and more ginger. No measuring. None. The only proof of perfection being that after you eat the stuff in the end, you simply just die and go to heaven. - Don't call me.

To Keith: 'Hello lover, how do you like this soup I’ve just made, while thinking of you and your art of eating?'

Keith to me: 'Shut up and enjoy death. I'm dying again, as we speak. Thank you, thank you.'




Friday, October 31, 2014

TALISMANIC CIRCLE


Dana, a woman I dearly appreciate, first and foremost as a precious friend, but then also as a colleague in critical studies, and as the wife of supreme master silversmith Aidan Watcher, entices me often to articulate how I view the magical life insofar as it is bound up with the people who feel a genuine impact from our encounters. Not that I make an effort, which is just the point.

Aidan Watcher's talisman for Taroflexions after my own design

So, last night I gave her an example, of, say, my ‘powers’ of summoning. I told her about how my Tarot de Marseille teacher, master horary astrologer, and eminent professor of psychology in a far away land, had just written to me about his impending visit to Copenhagen in two months. He said that he had just gotten an email from Lufthansa threatening to close his ‘silver points’ if he didn’t book a flight to Europe immediately. So, he went to the booking site, and the first city that was recommended was Copenhagen. ‘No way’, he thought, rightly having the feeling that this might have something to do with me.



I saw him last some four years ago, and we have talked since on and off. We came close to having a rendez-vous in Paris not long ago, when he was there, and when he tried to lure me to zip over, saying, ‘I’ll take you to the famed fortuneteller, madame Colette Silvestre, [whom we both adore], for a tarot reading.’ I missed that boat, as I was engaged with other things. Recently, however, as I’ve expressed frustration with the calculating astro gadget programs on the market for Mac computers, we have gotten into some interesting discussions that orbit nicely around all sorts of old stuff. Me: ‘The Chaldeans thought of annual profections this way’. Him: ‘William Lilly is more mundane’. I have a soft spot for Lilly because I know someone whose father lived in Lilly’s house – another master in old stuff, also a professor friend, family, and alchemist, who doesn’t mind being named, Anthony W. Johnson (incidentally I write about Anthony all the time). By a swerve, whenever I talk astrology these days with the other professor we always end up making plans for getting together at Anthony’s childhood home, the home of master Lilly, where we can do some serious horary stuff. It’s incredible what professors are interested in these days, which makes me think that they possess the quality of what Aidan has described as talismanic. But before I get to Aidan’s idea, let me say something about what I told Dana.

I said: ‘You know, because obviously I must be suffering from some blind spot, I need the master astrologer right here to set me straight in my ways.’ But how can one order other people around? This is where ‘the powers that be’ come into the picture. Magically speaking, and by the same kind of swerve as above, I told Dana that for a moment, in the subconscious summoning act – the best kind – ‘I’ was Lufthansa. ‘I’ was also the algorithm that gave the man Copenhagen as the first choice. There was no other way for him than to simply say: ‘Yes. I’m listening. I’m answering the call. I’m coming’. So he’s coming. He is coming because he gets it. Because his own magical powers are made of the right stuff. On my part now, all I have to do is make sure to channel William Lilly by the time the professor gets here, as he likes him the best, or else, if I should stumble, I’ll just need to pull another summoning stunt, or simply get plugged into Anthony’s cauldron. There’s no way Lilly won’t answer. So help me by Anthony’s dead father’s grave. Is this magic or not? It certainly is.


Tonight, as I was communing with my own dead folks, as tradition has it, Dana asked me if I had seen Aidan’s piece of writing on the Talisman as object and being. I went straight to reading it, and I have to say that it moved me exactly in the right way, which is the way that bypasses my head. Which is the way that makes me lump together the circularity of magical swerves. I welcome such, other than mental, pulsations, as they don’t come very often. I left a comment on Aidan’s website, which Dana picked up. By way of quoting me ad literam, she then issued the following request:

If you have it in you some day, I would deeply appreciate it if you would post about the … “With a talisman you inflict a change in the course of events the way culture or science dictates. The great teacher teaches that kind of violence that makes us snap out of cultural constraints and begs us to look at ourselves. The first thing that happens in such an act is that you lose your tongue, and start responding to the world with your being as is, as the thing itself.” I’d love someone to speak up for us who’ve become somewhat “incoherent” or rather, “forbidden” to speak of some things and instead encouraged to simply “be it.” I think it’s important particularly now with all the nonsense flying around about being LOUD and VISIBLE and OUT THERE. There are other ways… so for me, some day, I would love to see this piece. Please.

Well then, here it is. The talismanic people don’t know what lies are. They don’t speak in clichés, and that’s how you know them. The talismanic people are not popular because they are not interested in stolen magic. They are more interested in how you get to sing a song of the stars by looking at the stars themselves, and then by riding on their flickering light. How do you get your visions right? That’s the question they ask, and they don’t go to the popular thought for answers. They fly with Lufthansa when the time is right. The talismanic people act from behind the scenes, where another set-up than the status-quo orients their actions. Aidan defined the talismanic people this way in his fine piece:

They are like pole stars, and can be used in the same way one might use a more classically defined ‘talismanic object’. They intrinsically hold power, and they can transmit it. It’s often accessible to other people, it’s not something they only ‘hold’ for themselves. These are not always the people setting up shop/temple/church/spiritual office. These are peoples’ sisters and grandmothers, grandfathers and uncles, midwives, watchmakers, fishermen.

Excellent insight on Aidan’s part.

Sarah Lawless reliquarium

And so it is as it has always been with the good teachers. The good teachers transgress boundaries in a subtle way. Yet they are more than supersonic when they break silently and violently through the cultural trumpeting of what else is new, or what else is popular. When the good teacher speaks, the earth breathes, and we all know that in such breathing the ‘incoherent’ and the ‘forbidden’ are the only states free of fake solutions. Solve et coagula. Abracadabra. Barhuyex, Emirex, Hamerix, Sehix, Deryx, Meyer, Deherix, Baix, Faurix.
§

Note on the cards: Tarot de Marseille, Jean Noblet (1650), as reconstructed by Jean-Claude Flornoy (the hand-stenciled set).

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

ECLECTIC

While contributing a solicited essay to a forthcoming book, This Ancient Heart: Landscape, Ancestor, Self (2015), and which gathers leading anthropologists and historians of religion who also happen to be druids, practicing shamans, or astrologers, I couldn’t help thinking that this particular area of study, that is, spiritualities in the world, has always stood me in good place. When I embarked on my years-long academic career in Denmark, culminating with the highest consecration in the form of what the Danes call the Dr.Phil. degree and tenure, I never thought that I was going to end up as an ‘eclectic’.

I blame it on my very first-semester group project at Aalborg University in 1993, when, although in the English program, I ended up writing about new religions with a focus on theosophy and scientology, Madame Blavatsky and Ron Hubbard. And I have to say that this was not even my idea. I mean, I wanted to write a project in religious studies (heh!), but I hadn’t at the time thought about any particular topic. Now, however, I am quite grateful to the one student in the group of 5 who came up with this focus, for I keep returning to both, Blavatsky, for her astonishing ideas of astral planes and thought-form, and Hubbard, for being so amusing, running off with the occultist and rocket-scientist Jack Parsons’s first wife and money, resulting in Parsons’ conjuring up a nice typhoon in a place where never in the history of meteorology have there been recorded any typhoons, and stopping the culprits from crossing the Mexican border and thus the possibility to avoid a lawsuit. Nothing can beat such stories.

Sometimes I want to say to myself, ‘that was a sign for what I ended up being interested in’, but then I go further back in my personal history and I find that I can’t really think of a time when I wasn’t interested in such things.

For the sake of convenience I tell people that I do English Studies with a twist, but these days I see myself conflating more and more ideas about practice and beliefs with knowledge systems, discourses on magic with the practice of magic that bypasses any beliefs, and Neo-Platonism with mnemonics and astronomy as inroads to the supreme knowledge of how to read between the lines. I’m grateful to the Anglo-American field for having produced enough material out there that allows me to dive straight into such weirdness and without feeling guilty for potentially doing something that may not exactly be aligned with the noble requirements for academic research.

Apart from having to care about gatekeeping and the other academics’ perception of my pursuits, I like it when people ‘in the know’ sometimes tell me that I can read cards and charts like a devil. But I like to think of it this way: Nothing is hidden. Nothing at all. And we can all train ourselves to register the magic around us. This kind of magic is not something that you read about in books, for it relies precisely on the ability to read between the lines. ‘What is there,’ some would ask, ‘apart from assumption?’ And I would answer: ‘Between the lines is not only the finest knowledge there is, the most subtle and therefore most powerful, but also love. Love that is anchored in what we know at the deepest level. The level of the highest creativity and imagination. The level of the highest fantasy that sends us with our noses straight into the ground, now filled with autumn leaves, and smelling of rain and tears. Our tears. The level of the mystical experience where the tapping into another’s consciousness is not merely a matter of belief or disbelief, but a matter of the highest practice, of the ‘being there’ all the time, watching. The level of the piercing gaze that sends you exploring the longest infinities that exist. The level of the mind when it is connected, plugged into things that make rationality look like a poor orphan.’

There is no knowledge like the knowledge that informs me right now that, in astrological parlance, the answer is ‘yes’, because the ruler of the Ascendant in my horary chart is in a trine aspect to a planet in a house I’m interested in. The answer is ‘yes’ because the poetic Sabian symbol going with the cusp of the astrological house I want to know things about creates an analogy that fleshes out very clear scopes. There is no knowledge like the knowledge that comes from reading three cards, and seeing what happens when the Priestess is followed by the Empress who is then followed by Death. There is no knowledge like the knowledge of the geometrical pattern that bones thrown on the table form.

Indeed, some knowledge belongs to the ancient heart. It is not dogmatic, nor consecrated. It is the knowledge of the interstice, the place of the soul and of surrendering.


§

As the comments left to this post here reference my work on Taroflexions, I have upgraded them to a post in itself on Taroflexions, especially since the concern of Anonymous is shared by many into the magical arts. Pay a visit and read the comments left there. They are quite insightful.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

CAMELIAS



My nephew, Paul, is 20 today. My sister’s present to him was an invitation to the ballet, La Dame aux Camélias. This invitation was also extended to me, since my name is Camelia, and also since, as my sister believes, and perhaps rightly so, I am the hopeless romantic. I don’t know about the hopeless, but the romantic part is true. Paul said: ‘It’s all about sex and then about getting respectable.’ ‘Yes, yes,’ I said, ‘and then what? What about the forbidden, the forever love? The undying love? It’s all there, surely, for if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be sitting here right now’.

I like the ballet. It’s ever so simple. Defying a few laws of physics and then flying. Flying all the time. In and out of the impossible, the forever love, the love in gut, the love in the passion, the love in the bones, the love in the eyes, the love in the kiss, the love in the breath, the love in the toes, the love in the hand, the love in the flower.

Paul, happy birthday. May you find the forever love. May it find you.








Tuesday, September 16, 2014

MISSED TRAINS

I always rejoice when I miss my train in Roskilde. I get to go over to the cemetery across the station. There I wait for the next train. Pondering. Some like balance, but balance doesn’t suit them when what they want is either the hot or the cold. Either the one or the other, yet both at the same time. Only a master can make sense of walking in the beauty of such contradiction. But then again, who is a master? For most, balance is nothing but a higher order of ambivalence. Or lower. I look around. A good time for mushrooms. The intelligence of pigs comes to mind. Pigs are both fertile and destructive at the same time. They reproduce joyfully and can eat their offspring. Life and death. Pigs are not concerned with what fire you feed. What ice you drink, and whether you can do both at the same time. They are little machines, sometimes commanding their heartbeats to find a truffle. The one special mushroom to uncover, to behold, and to adore. But they are not always in the position to eat it. Sometimes they let it go to the highest bidder at the auction. Some exchange. A passion for a coin. I think of the life of the truffle. A few more minutes to my train. I look at the entrance to this place. I forgot to salute the first dead buried here, now guarding the gate. I’m convinced she was a Queen of Hearts who died in Autumn from thinking too much. A Queen of Hearts who could reason her emotions. How perplexing. At least she got style. At least she never said to herself: 'I only did certain things so that I can regret them.'

I leave the cemetery with the Polish poet, Wislawa Szymborska’s ‘A few Words on the Soul’ in mind. It’s obvious that you cannot step twice into the same death.


We have a soul at times.
No one’s got it non-stop,
for keeps.

Day after day,
year after year
may pass without it.

Sometimes
it will settle for awhile
only in childhood’s fears and raptures.
Sometimes only in astonishment
that we are old.

It rarely lends a hand
in uphill tasks,
like moving furniture,
or lifting luggage,
or going miles in shoes that pinch.

It usually steps out
whenever meat needs chopping
or forms have to be filled.

For every thousand conversations
it participates in one,
if even that,
since it prefers silence.

Just when our body goes from ache to pain,
it slips off-duty.

It’s picky:
it doesn’t like seeing us in crowds,
our hustling for a dubious advantage
and creaky machinations make it sick.

Joy and sorrow
aren’t two different feelings for it.
It attends us
only when the two are joined.

We can count on it
when we’re sure of nothing
and curious about everything.

Among the material objects
it favors clocks with pendulums
and mirrors, which keep on working
even when no one is looking.

It won’t say where it comes from
or when it’s taking off again,
though it’s clearly expecting such questions.

We need it
but apparently
it needs us
for some reason too.

(Translated from the Polish by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavanagh)



Friday, September 12, 2014

PERCEPTION

‘The King of the Fairies approaching his domain’ is a higher conceit of the other symbol ‘The university professor lecturing to his students.’ When Mars enters Scorpio one degree off the Descendent, all calculations get suspended. Raw action penetrates Pluto’s fiery and bottomless pit, and what we think is the perception of the Other in Seven is force. The kind that lulls you into spying on yourself in the black mirror. The moon delaying her purpose in the house of the evil Daimon is a transcended moon. Horary games. The professor greets the King of Fairies by allowing Pluto to bomb all traditions in Capricorn. ‘All for love’, says Venus ruling Taurus in the Ascendant, and taking the risk of coming very close to the frightening Algol. ‘Stop it’, Mercury clamors, squaring off against the idea of having a horoscope sound like a live commentary at a football match. But who is Mercury addressing? All for one? We are back with Mars ruling the house where Uranus resides right now. But Mars is busy stomping in the secret fire. Fumes come out of it and the oracle acquires a smell. The smell of ‘no limits’ and of the insatiable You.





§

Note on the method:

For this poetic reading, I've used both horary and electional astrology. As this is a poem, however, I have not disclosed the question - the question being crucial in this branch of astrology. The quoted sentences in the first line are a reference to both the Sabian and the Kozminsky symbols. The 'interpretation' is all my own.

Monday, September 1, 2014

SIGIL

‘There’s magic in the world and I get to live it.’ This is what I wrote earlier today in connection with a gift I have received this morning. This one was truly very special, and given the circumstance, quite beyond perfect. It was prompted by an occasion connected with a magical task I have assigned last month to one of my cartomantic students, the brilliant and tenacious Ryan Edwards. ‘A hard task’, he said, but by Jove, how he managed. Today I’m very pleased to see what materialized beyond the ritual that I have determined that he had to perform on the night of the dark moon in July. 

When magic works, creativity is an understatement.

I wrote a longer account of this working on Taroflexions – to the extent that I can distinguish between what is my story to tell and what is not – but suffice to say here that today's event made me feel vibrant and alive, and in love with young people who are dying to know what you know. Keep them coming, Lord, keep them coming.




Friday, August 15, 2014

THE MOTHER

Santa Maria
Madre di Dio
Maria Vergine
The dead head of Saint Catherine of Siena
Guadalupe in the fire
Black Madonna, mother of all
Life and death –
Dead children can also come out of you – bless their souls
Santa Maria
Madre di Dio
Lilith, mother of the ultimate disobedience –
How dare you give birth to a God out of wedlock –
Bless the Gods
Who offer their semen to Goddesses
More powerful than them to drink
Santa Maria
Madre di Dio
What is yours is not also someone else’s
That’s the law.
The law of non-contradiction.
Guadalupe in the fire
Santa Maria
Madre di Dio
Abracadabra
Black Madonna
Only you can suspend the law
With your swift ‘and yet’ and ‘amen’ –
If you so please.
Black Madonna
Madonna vergine
Santa Maria
Madre di Dio
Lilith
There’s compassion in the bond.


Monday, August 4, 2014

POWER

I take the truth by its horns and let it kill me. The thunderbolt works with Scylla today. Thor knocks on the stone-carved chalice, and the she-sea-dragon spits thunderous flashes. All is illuminated. The water unleashed. The power of nature is just that, power. The only kind worth talking about. I work with the weather Gods of Norway. Lightening strikes next to my toes. The thunder calls to me: ‘Louder! Say yes, louder. Louder than me’. Raw power goes through me like an arrow, and I make a bridge to the sun to cross over. ‘Louder, I said’, says he, Thor, while hammering on my yelling and screaming and thumping my feet in Scylla’s waters. ‘Faster’, she goes. ‘Dance faster! Don’t let the wind catch you, unless you want to snatch a kiss from him on your naked body.’ But I want the wind to kiss me. I want the wind to whisper to me between the wild beats of light and stone: ‘Know your heart, and own this knowledge. Act like I do. Cut through it. Cut past the gaping neighbor with his chainsaw keeping the grass neat. Cut past his son training with a rifle and speaking in clichés of familial bliss and traditions. Cut a cold corner and radiate your own peace.’ Scylla sets my boundaries and Thor goes: ‘I like your voice’.












Tuesday, July 22, 2014

PRAYER


For the love of Norway. For the love of my white hair in the photographs I take of myself. For the love of asking myself, ‘what's up?’ And in that love, for the love of the most intimate distance that a photograph creates. For the love of posing that a mirror asks me not. For the love of my own theater. And in that love, for the love of capturing my deepest desire. For the love of my fear whose force I awesomize. For the love of the Druid’s prayer, and in that prayer for the love of the White Witch. For the love of the reason that I have not, to hate. Because I love. And in that love of love, for the love of the sober task of walking the path. And in that walk, for the love of sensing another’s soul. And in that soul, for the love of finding myself. For the love of devotion, and in that devotion for the love of the longest infinity that does not end. For the love of numbers, and in those numbers, for the love of words that seal. And in that seal, for the love of magic. For the love of the dreadful spell that binds. And in that bind, for the love of afterlife where black is black and white is white. For the love of saying, ‘I’m here now.’ And in that love, for the love of what IS.




Friday, July 18, 2014

INFINITE GAME

Sonnet 116
by William Shakespeare

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
O no; it is an ever-fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not Time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come;
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.

§

“I've been in love for five hundred million years…”
― Italo Calvino, Cosmicomics



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

RAIN

I got caught in the rain and sought shelter under the tree I call Drop. If you stand under it, drops of rain will wash your face, but no more. It protects you from the torrent. Then there's Vinculum. This tree is linked with Drop, and together they form a portal. But the pièce-de-resistance is Absalon, the largest tree in this grove. No one knows where this place is. I put a spell on it so no one can find it. People pass it by all the time, and no one ever stops. No one sees anything. No one ever walks through the line of 11 trees hiding Absalon and the others. I go there every day. As no one owns this place - located exactly one minute from my apartment - I claimed it as my own. But I do have to seek permission from the municipality - the presumed owner - if I want to plant more trees. Which I do. A sacred grove with its sacred trees, Absalon, Vinculum, and Drop, performing magic the invisible way.












On to my annual Norway devotion · Hit in the heart.







Sunday, June 15, 2014

NEMESIS

‘The Magician is my father’, the High Priestess says while buckling up her white pompons. ‘Oh, Erebus, you who left this earth before Nemesis could figure out what she was.’ ‘But she always knew’, you whisper, and then go: ‘That’s the nature of magic, to cut with your sword through what needs imparted. Dip your finger in some plum brandy, let some smoke come out of your Orlik pipe, and deliberate. Let your ‘But’ be but the action of your shadow. Pay a visit to the underworld and leave a trail of blood. I shall know you by your smell and the whiteness of your robe. And you will choose.’



Thursday, May 29, 2014

GUIDES



'You don't write on Frag/ments as much as you used to', people say. I point to having 'transitioned'. I write more on Taroflexions these days. This more focused website allows me to be all three at once without a particular involvement: a storyteller, a teacher, and an enchanter. These are Vladimir Nabokov's categories, by the way, for the good writer. I don't presume anything where writing is concerned, but occasionally people do tell me that what I have to say is helpful. That's good, as being helpful is actually aligned with my intention. A friend has recently written these lines below on Facebook, which reminded me of a certain practice of 'meeting' people, a practice which I have already written about as being a form of testing one's hyper-soul.

"If you ever meet someone brave and powerful enough to walk with you directly through your most unconscious wounds and shadow caves – someone with the stupefying courage to see through the chinks of your armor and then help you take it off – love them. Because they have done something for you which is impossible to do alone. They will show you the treasure you've been seeking all your life, and they can do this because they aren't afraid of your fear." (Jacob Nordby)

It's good to know that there are more of us like this out there, acting as guides, as psychopomps, or simply as enablers, helping others to breathe into their own souls, and live a life of excitement in complete harmony with one's self. We've had our own guides in turn. My mother was one who would never talk to people unless she was allowed to look into their naked souls. Always a disturbing demand for most. But so rewarding for all involved, when such gazing was allowed. 

The other day my sister and I discovered that we were both blues singers in our past lives, according to the venerable source of: "Google this: died on (your birthday) and the first wiki article to pop is who your were in your previous life." Such fun. She got Lucille Hegamin and I got Rosa Lee Hill. She made a collage of herself and me alongside these singers, though for some reason she inserted the picture of another, that of Alberta Hunter, next to hers. Sometimes internet bibliomancy can be very funny. It can also be quite revealing. As far as I'm concerned, I say, hooray, for all forms of divination. So liberating to be free of our calculated selves.

So, yes, if I have a  calling, then it's for that form of establishing an encounter that gets me to the end of the world and beyond. Be with people that allow me to look into their souls, and through that act travel with them to their most hidden treasures.





Saturday, May 24, 2014

SMOKING LOT

One of the best things about going to certain conferences is meeting special friends. This time around friend and famed historian Elliott Gorn asked me: 'How is your lot?' We share a bit of Romanian history, and I always get to hear how, when Elliott went to Moldova to search for his Jewish roots, he got to hear from the villagers that 'the Gorns were not nice people'. Right. So I told him a story. My grandmother on my father's side smoked lots of heavy pipes, wore coloful layered skirts, and liked to go out and pee while standing. 'Whoa,' Elliott, said, 'that's more information than I'm ready for.' 'Really?', I asked him, and then we stuffed ourselves some with Finnish delights, while drinking ourselves under the table, laughing.

But my grandmother could also do more things than just provoke the establishment. She was a master weaver - I still have some of her loom pieces - and she would make my mother order my father around when she was visiting, claiming that she didn't raise all those boys (some 4 of them) to just sit around. She taught them to cook and be decent, and go for it. Well, they did. My father was a mathematician, one of his brothers a dentist, another became a general in the army, and the fourth I can't remember. He was handsome, though. That I remember. And they could all cook. I would have loved more of that lot's company, if it weren't for the distance between us. We lived miles apart from my father's family, which is why I never got to see them very often. Alas.



I smoke pipes. For ritual purpose. I inherited a few Orliks and some other special ones. I call on those who smoked these pipes before me. This is something that Elliott gets. The spirit work. We get together for the Maple Leaf and Eagle conference every other year, organized by our common friend, Markku Henrikkson. Markku also knows about spirits, as he has been hanging out with all the Native Americans you can think of.



But now Markku has just had announced that he was going to retire - before his time. 'Why?', we were all gaping? 'Because I'm tired of bullshit', he said. In his farewell speech he made me cry so hard like I'v never done it before. In plenum. He was articulating what most of us academics are thinking, but do nothing about: 'Surely I can't buy this crap rhetoric about points and global visibility and marketing and ranking and competing with ghosts and pretending and selling and selling and selling and selling again, selling all we've got and according to the best cliches developed by the phoniest consultant-like idiots who can claim to teach us something about intellectual value and relevance.' He pretty much told the Finnish posh university chancellors to go screw themselves. In plenum. Oy vey. So it goes. The rest of us say nothing against all the crap university reforms and politics that we're confronted with daily, because we are ever so grateful for the fact that we have a job to begin with. We all tremble in our pants from fear. 'What if I'm next, when they'll decide to shut a program?' Besides, we think, and as they say, 'surely giving Cesar what Cesar wants is part of a higher wisdom, no?' Right.



I'm thinking of my grandmother and wonder why it was only her sons that got something out of it, culturally speaking. Why wasn't SHE a general? She died before I could ask her about her secret magic. But I fancy that the smoke I send up in the air brings me a hint of that now and then.

So, here's to all women who know things, and who also dare to live according to their knowledge. May their secret lot increase.