Saturday, August 17, 2013


My mother, Ana, and my father, Georg.

As I often think of what my father would have been like at my age – he died at 39 and I’m very close to 45 – I find myself strange places and feeling his force. Well, he worked for the armed forces, so perhaps therefore. But above all he was a mathematician. And to the surprise of a few in the family, he was also a magician. He saved my life when I was three and suffered from unexpectedly high fever coming from nowhere. When the doctors were giving up, he performed a nice folk magic ritual and vanquished the fever on the spot. I still remember his pose over a glass of water in which he had extinguished three matches. He made me drink that water, and abracadabra, all returned to normal. One of the other few memories I have is our discussion about what to become. He wanted me to become a teacher at the university. His wish came to pass, for, although he died when I was 8, I never forgot what he wanted me to do. But these days I think of all sorts of teaching that I do outside of the university, and which also brings me most joy. Perhaps the reason why I find this more joyous is because I don’t have to do it for a living. My cartomancy website Taroflexions is an example of such teaching, where I try to say something useful about reading cards - even though, god only knows, I probably exhibit there the same presumptuousness and arrogance as I do in my day job. As they say, a woman’s got to do what a woman’s got to do. Positions of real power are rarely available to us. With this in mind, I would have liked to ask my father about power and women in positions of power but without any real access to it. You can ask me. I know all about it.

Lundkvassberget, Norway

So yesterday, as I was climbing a little mountain in Norway to see a stone from the ice-age landing in the middle of nowhere, I was thinking of my father. Once I reached the top I saw a circle of stones near the big stone. The historians don’t quite know what to make of it. Some say it’s a burial ground from the stone age, some say it’s a sacrificial place, in which case it can go back some 5000 years. Be that as it may. As I was inhabiting the circle, with the big monolith behind me, I picked up a round pebble from the ground.

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This was a most precious gift, as it gave me the idea to search for some other 23 and make a rune set. I had just bought an antique little box from a local shop, and somehow the idea of making it the house of 24 new rune stones, which, however, have lived close to a very old stone, seemed appropriate. I rather enjoyed making this set, and I was keen to see it at work here in the wilderness.

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I posed a question about competence. I wanted to know wherein my best competence lies, and what I can use it for. I guess this springs out of the perennial self-check with reality, especially when I, like most, fancy doing something else for a living that’s very little related to what I am also fortunate enough to possess, namely a job that gives me plenty money and plenty to think about. I won’t focus on the hassle aspect as we find that in everything else too. I cast all the runes on the table – this is what I like to do best, namely use all the stones, and here’s what the stones say.

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 The strong cluster in the middle formed by Fehu, Kenaz, and Thurisaz, tells me this:

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I have financial strength and control over my property (Fehu). So my competence lies within the ability to manage my estate (if I can call it that, as it’s not that grand). What I do for a living is teach (Kenaz) – surprise, surprise. I use the torch to illuminate the path of others. But this torch is also made of a burning fire, for indeed, who wants to hear the truth? Truth is never popular, and as I have a habit or spelling it out (Thurisaz), more often than not what is illuminating is also very discomforting. Thurisaz, the rune of giants and trolls is not one you want to find landing in your lap. Thor’s hammer is sacred to Loki, the trickster, who both covets it and fears its force. So, from this cluster I can conclude that my best competence is to speak loudly a truth that comes out of personal conviction. The horse rune here, Ehwaz, touching the cluster, and especially Fehu, the rune of wealth, enforces the idea that that although my convictions are personal they are also consecrated. You hear a message, or you have a message, you don’t just leave it there, but rather bring it forth in an institutionalized setting.

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Ehwaz here is also the link to the next cluster that almost forms a circle. These stones are not as close to each other, but they definitely have something to say that’s very coherent. Algiz, the Elk rune of protection aspires to create a link to the spiritual in its manifest form. This rune is opposite Ansuz, the shaman’s rune, or the rune of the spiritual leader. Sacred to Odin, the god of wind and spirit, Ansuz is the rune of language. The symbol must be translated into coherent speech, so it can properly mediate between the uncontrolled forces of Hagalaz, the rune of hail and destruction, and Jera, the rune of harvest, accomplishment and generosity. Together they tell me that the disturbing teachings I’m doing prepare the ones who bother to listen, not so much for how to avoid destruction and accept the cycle of tides, but more for how to honor the destructive powers in nature insofar as they always lead to light.

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An almost hidden rune, but still facing up in alignment with Hagalaz and Jera is Sowilo at the end of the tunnel, the sun rune, suggesting the idea that there is life force, hope and attainment outside of all that necessitates the call for protection and the investment of energy in conflicting forces.

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On the far axis to Wunjo, the rune of joy, we find Uruz, the rune of the wild ox, standing for all the wild, raw, and creative power. Uruz is also in alignment with Thurizaz, which enforces the untamed and frightful nature of Uruz as a stuborn, undomesticated force. Leaving from Wunjo, the only far off rune in this cast, and acting here more as a satellite for everything else, we can see how Uruz is also aligned with Kenaz, Fehu and Ehwaz. So there’s a direct line from pure joy to pure wildness that resists being contained within the culture world.

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The bottom line would be to say that while my best competence lies within giving off passionately from what I have, and however violently (Kenaz, Fehu, Thurisaz), what backs me up in my endeavor is the wisdom of knowing (Ansuz to Kenaz) when to back off (Ansuz to Hagalaz), and when to act from a defended space with view to restoring peace and balance (Algiz to Jera). See here how the central runes form a boat. I have no idea what my father would make of all this, but I’m pretty sure that he doesn’t regret my not teaching mathematics in favor of talking about stones, and wind, and ice-age old divination.


Note on the rune stones: Self-made from stones surrounding the ice-age stone at Lundkvassberget in Norway in an antique Norwegian box from 1880. I make magical things like this for friends and others on special request.


Note on the post: This was first published on Taroflexions, my cartomantic and divination website, but as it has a bit of a memoir in it, written in the same style as other texts on Fragments, I reproduced it here as well in its entirety. For more readings of the sort described here - especially cards - you are welcome to visit the appropriate website.


pathom said...

Hello Camelia,
Maybe this is not the right place to ask this but I can't quite decide where exactly to put the question so I will go ahead . My question is about the connection between your interest in magic /shamanism and your work on critique of texts and philosophy. Your Magic/shamanism posts show an (easy?) acceptance of a perspective that seem to contradict the pushing of thought in, for example, your essay  'The nothing that is: Espistemologies of creative writing
I seem to remember you expressing somewhere an interest  in occult questions despite your Marxism. I can understand that since they both address fundamental questions.( and because Marxism is not simply a critique of religion as simply wrong or bad)
Still I have never been able to reconcile them and cannot honestly accept, in the light of my Marxism, the existence of a transcendental realm or sphere. Am I being too literal in ascribing to you a belief in such a metaphysical domain? Are you speaking metaphorically when  you 'drum'  into another dimension ----a spirit world?  Is this what you mean when you describe poetry as a form of incantation akin to magic? Or are you speaking literally?
I can understand that there is a way in which one can learn be drawn to both perspectives at once but I don't know of a justification for esoteric knowledge that is not undermined by critical thought. As an example, during my teens I read everything I could find on or by the Bronte sisters, especially Emily. At the same time I became active in politics and received a pretty doctrinaire education in Marxism as a member of various left factions. I found I could read Emily's work from two levels--- a critical level where the  text functioned as an ideological formation at a precise historical moment in the development of capitalism,  and an imaginative level where an autonomous  'world' came into being  complete unto itself ( although with a sort of parallel or synchronized relation to the world that produced both Emily and her creation.) and in some way articulating its own Truth. I lived in these two worlds simultaneously and was always trying to find a reconciliation between them. I guess I am still trying some forty years later!
I wonder if you might have explored this question somewhere else and I have simply missed it. Reading your work as a whole, I cannot believe that you have not ( even for your own benefit) explored  how to reconcile belief in a transcendental realm with science, rational thought and critique of ideology. Or maybe I'm just being over-simplistic and you have reconciled your  interest in critical thought and the esoteric in a way that transcends a crude dichotomy between immanence and transcendence.( if thats what my question implies)
I came across this from you but can't find where. (referring to esoteric texts)
“What we still appreciate is the ingenuity associated with their building up systems of thought that were not imagined before. In other words, such texts and contexts can be said to have produced a lot of creative criticism, which means rigorous thinking that is not deterred by factual knowledge.
I can see that there is something here but but only just----a truth that can be discovered in the very act of creating a structure of thought that is not a factual representation of reality but a creative evocation or even incantation. But still doesn't it have to relate to facts in some way?

Really enjoy all of your writings...apologies for the longwindedness.”

Camelia said...

Dear Patrick, thank you for your questions and appreciation of my writings. To keep it simple, perhaps I could say this: there is no reconciliation in the sense we normally think of the word, where we think of making an effort to let two different worlds meet. What enables me to walk between the worlds is the fact that I keep the narratives that inform each world apart. I make a strict distinction between them. I do not reconcile the metaphysical with the physical. I practice being in each world as I please. I don't THINK about being in either world. I just am. I follow the rules of what works for me in each world. If anything in my PRACTICE of living approaches the idea of a reconciliation, then it is to be found in bringing things and ideas from one world into the other. This obviously presupposes that I don't THINK that what I bring from the woo woo world into the rational world is woo. Nor vice versa. As a Marxist I can still accept the idea that what life is all about is how to maintain being connected to all things, which is the very core of shamanism. It is of no good to me to be disconnected from my material possessions - it is still a truth that money makes the world go round, not love - any more than it is good for me to be disconnected from my sense of being in the world as a spiritual being - here, with a wink to all the atheists I know, and who are very spiritual. I don't know if this answers your questions, or particularly the question that pertains to your asking why I don't offer a critique of the transcendental as I do of ideology. But the truth of the matter is that if you stand your ground, whichever ground, you do so because you are familiar with the house rules. So, in effect, it is never the thinking that informs my living but living. Sometimes this living involves an appreciation of having a luxury cabin on top of a mountain in Norway, only so that I can get to talk to the spirits of the land. So, indeed, I never speak metaphorically when I speak about the spirit world, but in fact quite literally and without any (Marxist) remorse. Good luck with your searching.


P.S: The reference you quote is from my interview with Biblioklept.