Saturday, February 28, 2009

Why I'm a Solitary Neo-Pagan

Not much in the dream department today; all I can recall is a mish-mash.

So instead, here's a review (another one) of Gay Neo-Paganism:

I've been frustrated for a while with Neo-Paganism, the major approaches of which seem to be
  • "Everything's the Goddess" (which seems about as unbalanced as saying "Everything's God"); or,
  • "Girl-Goddess meets Boy-God, and Their love makes the universe go 'round" (which strikes me as terribly heteronormative); or,
  • "You can do spells to get parking spaces" (which seems to view the universe as a psychic mail-order catalogue); or,
  • "I had a counselling session with my deity yesterday, and S/He told me that I needed to be less codependant," (which seems more like therapy and less like religion)

Unfortunately, turning to my "gay brothers" doesn't help much. Most gay male Neo-Pagan schools of thought fall into several categories:

  • The "Adam and Steve" approach -- we'll make Robert Graves' Winter and Summer Kings lovers. Well, yeah; OK. Sacred sex is nice, but I'd like my spiritual practice to be more than sex. Is there more to being a man than physiology ? Besides -- when one doesn't kill the other --the Winter and Summer Kings are traditionally either brothers or father and son, so recasting them as lovers feels like a gay Pagan retelling of Lot's Daughters. I'd say that Micheal Thomas Ford's The Path of the Green Man falls into this category.
  • The "Goddess in Drag" approach -- we'll put on our Cher wigs and draw down the moon. I'm sure this can be fun, and I like dressing up as much as the next guy. And sure, Cher's a goddess. But I'm interested in exploring divinity as a man. I mean, how far can singing the praises of a wig get one? I'd say this is the approach advocated by the likes of Harry Hay.
  • The "Jungian Anima" approach -- since all Wiccan rituals require one man and one woman, we'll get in touch with our inner woman. This is kind of insulting to me, as it has an implication that queer couples choose one partner to "be the man" and the other to "be the woman." Conversely, you would be hard pressed to find this sort of suggestion in a book for lesbian Neo-Pagans who seem to have no problems forming Dianic Circles; but it's what you find in The Gay Wicca Book by Bruce K Wilborn.
  • The "King Victim" approach -- we're a persecuted minority of men, and persecuted minorities have heightened powers of perception and consciousness. I'll grant you minorities have a different perspective, but if you carry this one out, then victims of social injustice should have some pretty impressive powers of ESP and magic. Harry Hay came up with this line of reasoning, and you'll find this approach in Mark Thompson's, Gay Body.
  • The "Left-Hand Path Adept" approach -- the purpose of sex is to combine the participants' auras so that the scattered divine cosmic energy from the male may be "earthed" through the female on its journey back to the divine source. Since the male-to-male sex act does not complete the "cosmic circuit," the raised sexual energy may be used for "left-hand" rituals and Black Magick. This one shows up in Dion Fortune's writings (along with many euphemisms, references to decadent, decaying cultures, and electrical batteries) and is illustrative of homophobic (and sexist) attitudes of some of Neo-Paganism's roots.
  • The "Ritual Semantics of High Magick" approach -- this one actually works a bit for me. The argument is that, ritually, a man and a woman coming together is symbolically the same thing as touching a chalice to a blade and vice versa. It's not about sex, it's about the ritual symbology behind the sex. I read this one on the web... and it turns up in Wilborn, too. And what's this got to do with getting in touch with the divine? It's all very well to clink a chalice and a blade together; but it's so vanilla and it reduces the world to terms of electronegativity and which battery-ends are showing. So what happens when you touch two blades (or chalices) together? And, uh, if it's not really about sex, how can it be about sexual orientation?

So there it is: after years of reading books on Neo-Paganism and gay men's spiritual studies, it appears that in order to be a Real Western Neo-Pagan, I have to have a gender change or to think of The Goddess when I'm having sex. Some other common approaches that attempt to address gay male spirituality are:

  • The "Dutiful Initiation to Love" approach -- since our heritage as whole gay men has been lost, we must seek to reconstruct it from feudal or aristocratic societies -- usually from Greece or Japan. This typically involves an older, more experienced man instructing a younger, less experienced man. I think some people find it attractive because of the defined roles of Mentor (really the Goddess Athena) and Telemachus. But, it's so Lord and Page Boy; so Coach and Athlete. It's so Iron John. So NAMBLA.
  • The "Jesus Loves You Even If You're (a Sinful) Gay" approach -- this one would work for me if I wasn't a Neo-Pagan and if I were into the whole sin thing. Not to be confused with the ...
  • The "Jesus Was a Sexual Deviant" approach; which would also work for me if I wasn't a Neo-Pagan; although it is fun to wonder what kind of "foot washing" was going on in Gethsemene between Jesus and the unnamed man in a towel. (Kripal, J John 1962. "The Serpent's Gift." Chicago. Suggests that when the authors of the bible wrote "foot" it was a code-word for penis. This gives a whole new meaning to the phrase, "The Goddess is alive and magic is a foot." Roscoe, Will. "Jesus and the shamanic tradition of same sex love." San Fransisco. Suggests that Jesus may have performed ritualized, erotic baptism, and that the man in the towel was Lazarus.)

At least I don't have to deal with Original Sin, but I do wish that I could connect with more folks who were interested in Neo-Pagan Communion, Celebration, and Transformation -- and less hung up on finding sex and parking spaces.

I guess there's a reason I'm a solitary practitioner again.

Friday, February 27, 2009

02-27-2009 Dream:  Construction Nun

We join the dream in progress...  I was on a level beach with a bunch of other people.  There was an earthquake, and the sandstone cliffs on either side of the beach crumbled a little.  

There was a tsunami, but it was a little one.  I thought that my green VW van was going to get flooded... but it turned out that I didn't own a VW Van, I owned a yellow, very large diesle crane.  I think I helped pull other cars out of the water.

Then it was time to drive it home.  Really far away, on the interstate.  Up hill.  I think I was Maria Von Trapp by this time, which meant I had a young Julie Andrew's body.  

As the crane's engine whined while I raced it up a steep interstate incline, I was singing, "Climb Ev'ry Mountain!"  I'm not sure when I got my own body back....

There was something about running out of fuel.  And modeling / giving dance lessons in a kind of mall boutique.  

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Contented with Just One Tequila Drink

Just got back from a discussion on the Holocene, Lillith/Ishtar, the copper age tools, ESL, "The Tipping Point," "Outliers," dream interpretation, critique styles, novel outlines, hypertexting, tag clouds, "democracy" in the French monarchy, IQ tests and testing, theta waves and thinking out of the box, education and graduate schools, the history of Wicca, Neo-Pagan theology and philosophy, hypertext concordance tools, Margaret Murray, Merlin Stone, Carol Christ, Starhawk, the World Bank protests in Quebec, Gerald Garnder, Dion Fortune, Alestair Crowley, Doreen Valiante, the Mystical Qabalah, numerology, seeing Deity in a rainbow, being in the Here and Now, and Neo-Pagan appropriation of the Christian phrase"Removing the logs out of my eyes."  

I think we closed down the bar.  

Man, sometimes I wish I could be a Neo-Pagan rabbi (and I guess I really do need to write that text concordance tool).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

2009-02-24  Houstin?  Dream

I was working in some sort of academic office (maybe the English Dept. at the University of Oregon).  It was a holiday of some sort, and we were all waiting for it to be time for us to leave (we were working a half day).  

Somehow, I was going to get to ride the Space Shuttle.  I think with Jerry Oltion.  The pilot was an amalgam astronaut.  I think the office had somehow become a NASA airport departure gateway.  

I'd just gotten a new ID card made at the academic office.  But the font on it had a drop-shadow effect that confused the security card.  The student working the gate's kiosk tried scanning my card a few times before he gave up and said, "Oh, I know who you are; just go in."

At this point the shuttle taxied up and I jogged down the short runway.  Somehow I had a small plastic red and white cooler in my hands.  I sat down on the shuttle.

I remember looking at the seats and a saftey bar and thinking, "Wow.  I made it.  I'm in a vehicle that's made history!"

There was some sort of discontinuity in the dream.... I was still in the shuttle, and I think we were taxing into a liftoff position, but at the same time I was in a room that had a balcony overlooking a resort swimming pool.  There's also something about parachuting and filming skydivers / astronauts.

I opened up the cooler.  In the very short time between leaving the gate and entering the shuttle, my ice and Pepsi had gotten mixed up and water had seeped into my digital camera.  I took the camera's case apart, dried everything carefully, and prayed that the photos I had taken hadn't been zapped of the card.  All the camera components were stretched out on a work table, still connected, and I managed to get the pictures to show up on the LCD screen. 

And then the dream turned into a "James and the Purple Crayon" dream, only it was me, in a jail, with a black crayon.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dreaming Rediscovered

Dream journalling is going well; my dreaming self has obliged by coming up with some interesting (to me, anyway) dreams. I am pleased because I had stopped remembering my dreams. I used to tell them to Mark, but he really isn't interested in hearing about them in vivid detail, so if I do tell him one, it's a one-line description. I thought maybe the wonderful, convoluted weirdness that goes on in my head when I sleep had atrophied; but looking at some of the images, I see that my sleeping self is better at coming up with things than my waking self.

2009-02-23 Quest Dream

Mark and I were in a castle with a bunch of other folks.  We were in mediaeval clothing.  I think I had some brothers (or in any case male relatives) and we were on a quest to find a hidden book.  I have a vague recollection of the three of us (me and my "brothers") moving chairs and a table up through a chimney and then using a rope to lower it from a roof. 

The next morning, everyone went off for breakfast, and I went to "Dragon's Tower" (the tower on the corner of the castle), named such because there was a man-sized dragon carved on the outside, just underneath a bunch of iron rungs up the tower's outside.  

We knew that there was some sort of book or treasure to be found at the top of the tower.  I decided the rungs were too obvious, and went inside the tower.  Inside was dark; there was a kind of furnace (cold) or possibly a pipe organ, and the tower stretched up like a massive chimney.  I stood in the middle of the room, on a kind of raised metal drum.  Something about the furnace's shape and slots suggested a face, so I said, "Hello?"

The furace turned on and came to life.  Its iron sides glowed with new ruddy light.  It greated me and said I had to give it coins; the drum I was on began to spin like a park merry-go-round and raised me to the ceiling.  All this time little white numbers were flashing through on things and I got the impression I needed to put together $3.28.  

So I'm something like fourty feet in the air, on a metal disk about six feet across, with the ceiling about four feet over my head, with the strangest sense that gravity is going both up and down, fiddling with coins which are suddenly available through dream-logic.  Eventually I get them into a rice paper envelope and push the money through the slot in the ceiling. 

And someone on the other side tells me the book that I want isn't exactly available just then.  But I figure out that I can go to the library on the next floor up, at the top of the tower.   ... and the dream continues past where I remember it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

02-22-2009 Surreal Art Dream

... we join the dream in progress. I am either Tim Powers (the author) or one of his characters (a sort of almalgam of the protagonists from "The Anubis Gates," and "Drawing the Dark"). I am in a darkened French cabaret. Based on the music, it must be around 1970.

The cabaret walls, floors, ceiling and furniture are painted black (and reminds me of the black box theatre at Reed College). Severely sloped seating surrounds a cramped square stage area on three sides. I remember it was difficult to move around, as one had to step around other patrons' chairs and tables.

A man and about ten women began their stage show. They were pale. The man wore a black suit which had been randomly slashed in many places so that his white shirt ruffled out from it in all directions. He might have worn a matte black top hat or bowler. The women seemed to be wearing accordian-folded black crepe paper or crinoline which fell in streams from where it was gathered at their shoulders; I am unsure, I think they were wearing very loose, low scooped, peasant blouses (too short to be a proper chemise) underneath. My sense is that they wore black footgear, as I don't recall seeing their white feet. Everyone stood still, in a Fossie-style tableau, with burlesque (variations of naughty, nasty, pouty and amused) expressions on their faces.

A four-four beat began on a tambourine. The man started to move and started singing in English, a sort of patter song about a special word (I don't recall the words, only the sense of the beat). For the sake of description, it went something like,

"Va-VOOM! When a fellow's got a something that will catch a lady's eye --"

"Va-VOOM!" sang the ladies (with a French cabarette accent), and they stayed in place, but took on a new tableau.

"he'll ignore it or conceal it but no matter what he tries -- "

"Va-VOOM!" the ladies vogued again ... the song went on for a verse or two more, and the chorus was "Va-voom! Va-voom! Va-voom! Va-Voom! VA-VOOM!" at which point the ladies unfroze from their vogueing and worked their way in two's and three's throughout the theatre.

The next time the chorus of "Va-Voom" (or whatever the word was) came around, several of them had worked their way over to where I stood and picked me up, then careened around the crowded black theatre shouting "Va-Voom!" with other groups of their male-carrying sisters. I'm trying to keep my balance, but really, there's not too much I can do because squealing cabaret dancers have a hold of my feet and calves and if I'm not too careful I'll get clobbered by a chandelier.

There's a break, and I'm trying to pay for my drinks. I think I'm still Tim Powers (or one of his characters), but I've got my shoulder bag. My tarot cards fall out of my bag and land underneath the high heels of the cashier, who is having an argument of some kind with one of her co-workers. I don't recall if I was able to retreave my deck, but I do remember trying to slid my cards out from underneath her feet.

There's another break, and I've woken up in the streets. I think I'm in Paris, but I'm not sure. I'm in a stone street, and it feels like it's 4 AM. It's dark and shadowy, and when two policemen walk by, I learn from their discussion that I am a famous artist wanted for displaying obscene art (I never did figure out in waking life if I was a painter a sculpter or what). There's some more that I don't recall, mostly of me dodging roving police, and at one point it's day time, and the French citizens are out. Two fifty-something men are walking along the sidewalk and one is saying (about me) "But he eats his Mueslix plain!"

I'm unsure about what happened next; I think I was working my way through the streets installing guerilla pieces of art. I made my way to a university of some sort. There was a covered colonnade of some sort -- flat roofed, white concrete, supports which were square rods holding up a thin flat roof. The art students there were having some sort of interactive art show. One of the student's pieces was him sitting on a small wooden bench in
a white, oxford shirt (looking very clean-cut), holding a sign which read "25¢ for tequila." They recognized me and begged me to do more public art.

By now I was wearing a plastic chest with slits cut into it. In each slit was a marble. Each marble was a fortune. I went around and invited people to reach into the slits and pull out a fortune. I remember explaining the divinations; but I don't remember the content.

Eventually, two art commissioners chased me through a building. I've forgotten how I knew them; my sense is that we were friends at one point, but that I threatened them somehow. The chased me through one of my installations: a black wooden ladder; the legs were square dowels which rotated -- making the ladder a kind of turnstyle or gate.

There was another break, and I had a book deal with them; the rest of the dream was a quick flash through the book's pages, which consisted of icons or illustrative photos for a particular design concept.

And then I woke up.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Cartoon Self Dream 02-21-2009 

Long involved dreams, but I really only remember the part that was live-action cartoon.  The setting was a beach (mostly).  I was a chartoon creature of some sort -- I think small and stickly.  My sidekick was slightly larger, ?sort of like a small, jellowy hippo?. 

We were supposed to be taking care of an elephant (I think the elephant was real).  But because this was a cartoon, my sidekick wanted to goof off.   All I clearly remember was that I ran through a door (?in a cliff?) looked for a place to hide my cartoon-self, and decided that if I stick myself into the (real) sand and brachiated my arms, hands and hair, I'd be able to pass myself off as s bush.   My sidekick rushed out onto the beach, looking frantically around for me, and completely missed me.  

I think a raucous brass orchestra provided musical background.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Still More

I was in a cafe / art gallery.  Very light, lots of white; large square columns going up about two stories; booth seating with light wooden table tops.  

I ordered salmon and chips.  There were a bunch of Wordos there, so I think it was after a Tuesday critique.  My order got lost, but I finally realized the fish that the cashier was trying to was mine and went with the orphaned plate of fries.

I walked over to a table.  I had a paper number in a kind of stand (in waking life I don't know why, as I already had my food).  I lit the number over a conveniently (and inexplicable) candle flame, and discovered the number wasn't paper, but a kind of plastic.  I blew it out.  I placed the charred number on my table and watched the smoke rise and make interesting patterns.  The proprietess, a thirty-something woman in blue jeans with brunette hair pulled back into a long ponytail, commented that I was being strange.  I said I liked to watch the play of rising strands of smoke.  

Other Wordos appeared, and we tried to cram eight people into a booth for six.  I had to stash  my "man purse" / shoulderbag under the seat.

More Wandering Dreams

I was in a hotel lobby.  Everything was upholstered and tawny.  I got into an elevator, and was holding the door for a woman (I think she had a cart).  "What floor?" I asked.  "Fourth," she said, "but that's not on your panel."  She took out a key and opened a service panel with extra buttons.  

The doors opened on the fourth floor --  a bi-level atrium filled with lush tropical plants - lots of wide green leaves.  A stream burbled through the room.  "Oh," I said, "can take a peek?"  

"Sure," the woman said, and I had the impression that I was being allowed in because I had held the elevator for her earlier.  She left to do her errand, and I walked along a path.  I said to someone that this must be the green room where Lassie waited between acts.  I set my "man purse" / shoulderbag down.  The path went around the corner of a wall, and through a door.  When I went through the door, it locked behind me.  Some marketing folks were there and for filling out a questionnaire I got two discount coupons to Disney World.  About this time I missed my bag.

Someone let me go back and get it.

2-20-09 Wandernig Dreams.

I was wandering on a campus.  It was day, and sunny.  I think I was at a conference for Women's Rights.  The part of the campus I was on was very paved over; wide, white concrete buildings and lots of post-modern concrete buildings.  I think I was on the edge of campus, as I have an impression of a green hill with some mid-sized deciduous trees.

I think I was between lectures.  I walked out of a building, the entrance of which was in a passage way in the building's center (like the old physics building at Reed College).  As I was walking around the building, I came across a knot of women openly plotting to take over the conference for their own purposes.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

02-19-09 Dreams and Happiness

The dream setting was mostly my old middle school -- lots of scenes walking the halls.  I think Mark was there.  There were lots of teachers and doctors walking around.  At one point I was dressed up like a doctor.

At another point I was helping teachers.  Some kids were putting on a play, and I told them to reherse their play (I think it was a Shakespeare play) the way it was written and not do spoof rehearsals.  I told them a cautionary tale from my Comedy Sportz days where a ribald inside joke managed to "stimulus-response" its way onto the stage.  

In the "Things that Make Me Happy" meme; I found a leaded crystal and hung it up in the kitchen window with the other crystals (we've got four now).  I love the spinning rainbows and there's something limbically pleasing about seeing white sunlight split up into a prismatic spray.

Or maybe the sunlight was zapping my dopamine receptors.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Run John Run

(Cue the techno...)

I wish I was a writer / who sees what's yet unseen

I wish the truth was captured /  on my computer screen

I wish I had some Pepsi / to help me change my mood

I wish I had some chocolate / because it tastes so good.

Dream 02-18-09

Dreamt that Mark and I went to someone's (a dream amalgam of several people) apartment.  It was early in the and our host was with two other guests, watching early morning cartoons.

I knocked over a bowl of popcorn on a side table, and as I was picking up the kernels, I asked our host, "Is this a bad time for us to be here?"  

He said it wasn't.  

I think I went into the kitchen, and Mark and I started cleaning up.

I think . . . what followed was . . . 

The elevator dream!  I was in a kind of 80's concrete and glass building.  The elevator was chrome and glass.  I got in (possibly after the kitchen scene).  I pressed a button (?for the 8th floor?) and then the elevator started yo-yoing up and down the building.  I think the doors were open, too, so I could see the elevator shaft zipping by me.   

The scariest part was when the elevator went to the very tippy top of the building.  The day was really bright and sunny and I was impossibly high in the air (insert feeling that the elevator was going to fall off of the building with me inside).

At some point I dreamt that so much water got on the bathroom floor of our house that the wood floor came apart.  About three feet underneath was another wood floor.  That's funny, I thought, I don't remember a wood floor being there when I went underneath the house. (And yes, there were secret labyrinthine passages under our house.)  Removing the current floor made the bathroom much more expansive. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Dreams 02-17-09

Not much to my dreams last night.  They were all about Thomas the Tank Engine.  Or, more specifically, Toby the Steam Tram.  

I really don't remember too much, except that last night was all Thomas All the Time, and that Toby's big square frame was a central image. 

In other news, I got friended by friends of friends and declined the offer (they seemed to be a business and I got the weirdest feeling that they simply wanted to friend me so they could troll my friend list).  I've decided that for the most part I need to limit my Facebook friends to people I've actually met (or e-mailed a ton of times).  

The whole Facebooks owns your content issue is troubling as well.  I had been thinking I might post some short stories there, but not if I give away the content rights.  I had been thinking of posting twitterature, too.  I guess I'll have to paste it in directly to this blog.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dreams 02-16-09

I was trying to sleep at my folks' house.  The sun was still shining at 10:30 PM, and it was keeping me up.  So I got up, put on my white bathrobe and stumbled outside onto their deck.

There was some sort of 1960's cocktail party going on on the deck (quietly chimed samba, guests with little drinks having quiet conversation).  I made a comment to my Mom about the sun in February.  

Across the valley, on Bald Hill, someone had inflated four, brightly colored (three yellow, one red) disk shaped balloons.  They were about four stories tall, and they flopped over the oaks and pines.  They were ugly.  They were supposed to be "art."  

I dreamt something earlier in the night -- but all I remember footsteps in the dark, and when I try to remember harder Philip Glass's "Ankhnaten" plays in my head.