Archive for May, 2013

This is part 10 of a series. Here are Part 1 & Part 2 & Part 3 & Part 4 & Part 5 & Part 6 & Part 7 & Part 8 & Part 9


Wednesday, and we’re tired of waiting. Tired of wondering when the other shoe will drop, when the story will be complete. Forces outside us, circumstances beyond our control, are jerking us around, pushing us this way and that. Tired of trying to keep our heads above water, of all the grinding repetition we must perform in order to stay in place.

It never ends does it?

The things we have to respond to, and the things we can’t do until we get a response, get feedback. Without that, we don’t know where we are. We crave some sense of response, some sense that what we’re doing actually matters. That all this maintenance actually accomplishes something – that we’re not stuck on some cosmic treadmill until the day we die.

And yet, we’ve talked about the power of delay – and the potency of the gap, the pregnant silence, haven’t we? And I’ve been a tease, forever promising the next part of the story – which means that, if I’m not just being a contrary sod, there’s a reason for it, doesn’t it?

(For the record, ‘contrary sod’ is one of the names the gods carved on the inside of my bones, but not the only one, so you’re OK.)

So the reason is that – and you do remember that, don’t you – the story is its own thing. It has a life of its own, and the storyteller knows precisely when to let its internal rhythm dictate the pace:

And back in the inn, here the storyteller leaned forward and tapped his very own seeker on the forehead.

“Do you think you have the guts to dig that far, my friend? To give up what you are, for what you will inevitably become?”

Remember the pause there? Remember the disrupted flow to accomplish something greater? Remember what the seeker replied?:

“I don’t know.” They said.

And the storyteller grinned. “That’s the only answer worth any salt, I’ll give you that. But the story’s not done yet, not by a long chalk, so – Would you know more, or what?”

So, the question hung there in the air, and a lesser seeker might have sought to have halted the hanging, disrupted the slow spin of the wheels. But our seeker was, as ever a quick study – they held the storyteller’s gaze with a smile, refusing to give him an answer, a way to twist and turn and loop the words!

Silence stretched the neck of the conversation; the communication creaked and groaned – would it break, would the moment pass as the swell of the inn’s background noise came to the fore? Would it be the snap and the crackle of the fire in the grate that did it, or perhaps the clink of glasses and the sound of laughter?

Long seemed the look between the two of them, their smiles meeting each other with equal measure. Who would be the first to give? Which of them would be swept under by the sudden mirth that appeared in their guts, threatening to bubble up and flood the world?

Then: “Just so.”

Said so gravely, and yet furnished with a storyteller’s wink, the words broke the tension. Laughter came from both, on the same page at long last.

Sipping his drink as the chuckles died down, so the storyteller commenced anew!


“Now it came to pass,” said he, “That the hero of our tale laboured long beneath that black sun, learning all the mysteries of those small dark spirits whose smithcraft is best of all. Many years passed in the realms of men, years turning to centuries, century upon century – so long in fact that even bone would begin to crumble, were it not wreathed in dark and potent earth.

Now aged well beyond mortal span, our seeker paid time no mind, nor thought much about the circumstances of his predicament. Instead, the Mysteries and Wonders he beheld, and even had a hand in crafting, captivated him wholly. Yet as all know, even those same spirits may be found above the earth on certain nights, collecting materials for their work. It is at these times, and times of feasting, that mankind often encounters them upon the roads and in the woods.

But our seeker did not encounter their former fellows, on that night when they rose above the skin of soil!

Indeed not, for as they rose to forage in the shadow of that tree, beneath the cold bright stars, the moon was brighter still. So bright in fact that the shafts of moonlight formed gleaming paths, roads all pure and and clean, as the Man I’the Moon looked down, clothed in burnished vestments.

And our seeker’s eye fell upon those ethereal roads, made of solid dream, and they conceived a mighty desire to incorporate it into their work. So focused were they on liberating silvered stone for their own ends, that they did not hear the rapid sound of approaching hoofbeats.

For as everyone knows, there are times when the folk of Elphame pass along such roads. Sometimes they come in armour, with the sound of thunder and roaring wind, and on yet other occasions they come in laughter and music, full of bright mischief and uncompromising wisdom.

Alas for our seeker – those that came upon that path were a warrior band, full of grim beauty and sworn eternally to the rulers of that realm through death and even beyond. Swiftly they seized the thief who would pillage the bright roads, gripping tight and raising them up; everso fastly bound and trapped once again, that was our seeker, just as before.

Yet now, well-learnt in smith-lore and the grammar of such fetters as the immortals do deploy, our seeker did not struggle. To be sure, they tested the bindings to their limits in discovery alone, but made no attempt to escape. For they knew that every thrash, every wriggling protest would serve to tighten those bonds, and so contented themselves with the merest study of the same. Wisely, they chose not risk the ire of the elphen horde, instead seeking to see to where they would be borne.


Less of a surprise to you and I perhaps, than the seeker, nonetheless the band bore them to the court of the Queen of Elphame. Some say that court lies amidst the stars and others deep within the hills and mountains. Only those who have been there for certain may say with any certainty, yet all the lanes and paths do lead there, or so it is said – even those who pass between the Gates Of Fear, watched over by the Grey Man himself!

But bound our seeker was, friend. Hand and foot, head and neck – all were enfolded tightly as they were brought before the sister-wife of he who came to rule on the day he cut his first tooth. They say the Lord of that place, who men call King out of ignorance alone, is ever abroad and hunting far and wide, and yet more they speak of Her.

Beautiful and terrible both, older than mortal reckoning and ever youthful, so flesh and blood is hers to witness, to skin and shape. Equally fair of face, she is fine of feather and fettle, and bright of eye with furthest sight, higher in seeing than any of her kin.

“Child of the Black Sun,” said she. “Why do you steal what is not yours? Your skin is darker than night, what need of you of Moon’s light?”

Made canny now was our hero, burnished by long years. “I sought to craft a crown, my Lady. A crown so glorious that it might hang in the horns of the proudest stag in all the forest, yet I see now that it would look better upon your brow, so that even the Man I’the Moon might turn his face away in shame and leave the Darkest Of All Nights to you alone.”

She laughed, a winter’s wind and a summer’s breeze so intertwined. Bright red her lips, red as holly berries; white her teeth, whiter than the most bleached of bone. Gold her hair, reddened as with flame as she tossed her head in mirth.

“Your tongue is swift, thief. Your mind is lively, and yet, for all of that you have overstepped your bounds.”

The seeker bowed their head. “Would that it were so my Lady, for bound I am, now here before you. By my presence alone, in Elphen fetters, is it not true that I am within those very same bounds which it is claimed I overstepped?”

Here, the Queen stood, descending from her throne. She circled our seeker like a cat – once, twice, thrice!

“I do perceive, oh thief,” said she, “That your light burns in, instead of out. Your kind have little need of illumination, for the purposes of sight.”

Here again, with feline grace she came to face the seeker, eyes gleaming amber as cat’s-eye in candleflame. Said the seeker:

“This is true, and this I have learnt, my Lady – coal black burns longer than green wood. I have felt the hard roots of the Ash Beyond All Ashes, and touched the embers of all that has long since burned cool.”

“Yet you do not know all – you did not know of your crime, after all.”

At this, the seeker flexed their bonds, feeling them tighten against skin. Another might say they dared to shrug in the face of the Queen, but I should not do such a disservice to either of them.

“I did not know. I have found the Secret Of All Things, and thus I do not know. Thus shall I know not, either.”

At this, She Who Rules bestowed upon the seeker a kiss, and whispered:

“I know all that you do not know that you know. Would you like to?”

[More next week]



This is part 9 of a series. Here are Part 1 & Part 2 & Part 3 & Part 4 & Part 5 & Part 6 & Part 7 & Part 8


It’s a Wednesday, and I’m staring at the screen, trying desperately to get the creative juices flowing. It’s a Wednesday and I’m staring at the screen, with no idea how this is going to go. Nor is this a new thing, because every time that I begin to to write or tell a story, I have absolutely no clue where or how to begin, or what I’ll say.

All those words I put together, all those images, sensations and memories I conjure for you – the ones that somehow have led folks to say very complimentary things about this series? The ones that catch your attention, and also the ones that end up up sinking into the depths of your mind, yet will surface when you least expect them?

All of those. All of that.

I have no idea where it comes from. None at all, and yet rationally, I know it must come from somewhere, some kind of alchemy of experience, talent and years of putting one word in front of another. I don’t even know if I’ve repeated myself, re-emphasised points over and over again, or used the same phraseology over and over again.

It’s as if I’ve stepped blind into a dark room.

And in that kind of scenario, all you have available to you is yourself, isn’t it? The room’s so dark that you can’t even comprehend what might, or might not, be present for you to use. You have no frame of reference.


Theoretically, you could step further in, stumble about, try to find a way to locate a wall or something. But anything could be in that room, from a predator, to a pit yawning inches away from you. In that sort of situation, it’s best to proceed slowly – and in fact what you want is to somehow achieve a sense of where you are, without moving. Without betraying yourself to any monstrous hungry watchers, or tripping any any traps.

I’m correct in that – and in thinking you want to keep living, right?

So what do you do, given the principles I’ve outlined in these posts?

Rather than attempting to extend your awareness outward, use what you have. Notice your breathing, the way you’re standing. Soon enough, you’ll begin to notice things about yourself, you’ll begin to feel your senses sharpen, as the distractions of the external world are somehow no longer there.

With nothing to focus on, your eyes will be moving, pupils expanding, trying to get as much light as possible. Your body will begin pumping stress hormones to organs, ready for fight or flight. Everything you are, will want to do something – to change the circumstance to your advantage.

And here’s where it gets difficult, because you need to not do. You need to observe only, and you will find that change happens without you doing anything, because the universe is always changing, always moving.

And this might sound counter-intuitive, a little like I’m advocating laziness or procrastination. I assure you, I’m not – as terrible procrastinator myself, I recognise that procrastination happens because you’re actually afraid to fail. There is a difference between procrastinating, and being a procrastinator – if you’re putting something off because you dislike it, because you don’t want to experience the drudgery of taxes, housework, homework or whatever, then I salute you.

I salute you because you’re human. Because avoiding unpleasantness is very sensible indeed, on some level.

But if you are a procrastinator, it is often because you don’t want to fail, because part of who you are, is what you do – what you can give to the world, and if you fail at that, your self-esteem takes a hit. So you put off the inevitable failure until the last minute, and then get things done in a mad rush of adrenaline because it overpowers that potential doom.

Or you don’t do it, because why the hell bother, you’re going to fail anyway, and it’s just more evidence that you’re a shit person, isn’t it?

I’ll lay odd that both of these positions are familiar to a good chunk of readers right?

But I’m not suggesting we indulge in either of them – quite the contrary.

Because everyone would like to be an expert, to know exactly what to do, the precise arrangement of actions and thoughts to Get Shit Done. That’s why there’s so many How To books, manuals and courses. I’ll bet that’s why some of you started reading this series. Hell, I gave you basic exercises and such like early on, didn’t I?

The funny thing is though, that experts and novices are not that far apart – the financial experts who precipitated the economic downturn knew their stuff. The Captain of the Titanic knew his ship. And yet, disasters still occurred – precisely because something changed, and rendered their expertise irrelevant. But they were experts, and they had weathered many things – pulled things out of the fire many times before.

This time however, all those processes did them no good – indeed there’s evidence that their expertise, their knowledge of how to Get Shit Done, actually made things worse!

So let’s go back to that dark room, shall we?
Actively not-doing means precisely that – you strive not to do anything but observe. You take all the sensations, all the things you perceive, as things in themselves. But you do not react. You focus solely on allowing your body to adjust, to do what it wants, to try and frantically sort out the stimuli. You ride the adrenaline, you observe it. Think of it as a kind of tantra – the exquisite delaying of action, until the precise moment when its coming is inevitable. Then, all that action is compressed into the last moment.

Or, to put it another way, not-doing frees up a lot of space – you can act with more information than anyone else in the room. Think of the professional athlete – most of them, particularly in tennis, cricket or baseball, operate at speeds of fractions of a second, and yet they are professionals precisely because they are able to bring all that training to bear in the last possible moment – the rest of the time is observation.

The same thing applies with storytelling – the delayed action of pregnant pauses and observing your audience can enable you to tell a better story. The delaying then, almost seems counterintuitive to what we’re being enculturated with right now – streaming video, instant bank transfers, online downloads.

The ability to act instantly, as soon as possible, is feted, but in terms of both storytelling and sorcery, delay truly is your best friend.

Which is why I’m not going to tell you the rest of that story until next week!


It’s not a Wednesday, and I’m not a chaos magician.

I do have a background in chaos magic, but the last time I identified that way was oooh…over a decade ago now. I mention this, because there’s an interesting debate going on in certain circles (and has been going on for years) about using fictional figures vs apparently ‘real’ deities and spirits.

This one’s been triggered by someone seeming to suggest that the ancient idea of Heroes and modern Superheroes are the same. More details on this can be found over at The House Of Vines

My dear beloved brother in arms Jack Faust has a post on it wherein the major positions are linked to, though I also suggest you go and read Notitiae Doctoris for albeit long but very important look at things in terms of cultus and doing honour to folks. (The good Doctor has some great points on devotion, which need wider reading).

My dear mophead brother (Who is looking increasingly like a sordid Californian Austin Spare as he ages) talks about thoughtforms and going on adventures and value judgements and stuff. Read his post, since this is a quick one from me (I hope (ETA: I was very wrong)) and draw your own conclusions. He’s not as dyed in the wool Chaos Magickey as that seems, I assure you, and in fact this post will possibly get me yelled at for the next month but sod it, I’m British and blatant mockery of friends is a veritable necessity.

Anyway, everyone loves thoughtforms. They’re relatively easy to create, with practice, and once you know how to make ‘em, it’s easy to break them. Seriously, watch people you know who have certain tendencies to fall into repetitive thought patterns/actions. They do it without even trying. Don’t even get me started on people who suffer depression and what kind of mess we can generate. Yeesh. There’s a reason mental discipline is important in magic, folks.

Anyway – as I said, I have a background in Chaos Magic, but I’m a Heathen. Maybe I’m not a proper Heathen for some, but you know what, I do not give a fig. Point is, in my experience, the world seems full of Stuff & Things, and some of that Stuff & Things fits the shapes ascribed to gods, landwights, and ancestors according to lore. Some of That Stuff & Things does not.

I’ll be blunt – I’d never ask Batman for help. You know why? Because I don’t live in Gotham. I’d never pray to Superman because frankly, he’s too much of a boy-scout. But if you want to? Knock yourselves out.

On the other hand, I’ll call on the old gods and the Mighty Dead, and maybe even the man-god that is Yeshua because dammnit I have family history, my Dad’s a bloody priest of his and I’ve been initiated into some of the rites associated with him – having been baptised and confirmed and all.

Why them? Why have I even hung with the Lovecraft squad in rituals?

Not because ‘it works’ though it does, but because of something very bloody important:

I have a relationship with them. I have a tie to them.

Cthulhu, Nylarathotep and the rest – fictional all. Yet when you call, there’s at least something that moves behind the names for me. And I hate to tell the chaos magicians in the audience, but ‘belief’ is a blind alley. It’s as nebulous a concept as prana or chi or orgone. [ETA: As far as the average Westerner is concerned [1]]

Just a name, just a story to tell ourselves, to try and get our heads round the fact that we did something weird, maybe a little kooky, and something happened.

And we don’t know why.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s repeatable, and if it is? Bully for you. Really. Let me know when your all encompassing Grand Theory Of Everything is published.

But also bear in mind this – it may only be repeatable for you. You may have a mutant nervous system, or your life experiences may have altered you in such a way as the linkage of imagery, sound, feeling, thought and memory mean you can do things other people can’t.

Or, as it more likely, it might just be a freakish one-off, like a shotglass full of blood emptying itself after a ritual.

You see humans like to know why. It’s a survival trait, and one that has served us in good stead, so we tell stories, we make shit up to fill in the gaps, or tweak theories or models to get good-enough approximations.

Do you know what a Cargo Cult is? Read the link, please.


Now, some of you might be laughing at how ridiculous that is, being modern, technologically aware folks who have probably seen The Matrix, or read Simulacra and Simulation or something like it by Baudrillard.

Except, welcome to the unpleasant notion:

Reality is a Cargo Cult. Everything you learn is by repetition, mimicry and extrapolation. The Gnostic truth of it is that you are at the mercy of your sensorium, locked into it until you die, at the very least.

I’m not saying there is no Real. I’m just saying that you’ll never,ever get to to touch it. You may experience a close approximation, but you will never, ever hit zero per cent error.

So stop buggering about with belief. Stop worrying about what’s real and what’s not. Work with what’s in front of you. Use what you have, and use it with inhuman bloody precision. Don’t ever be satisfied with it, but never give it up. Spend the rest of your life studying your Mysteries – not anyone else’s.

A blade of grass – study it. And then when you are done, abandon what you know, and start again.

There are mysteries of land and song, of blood and bone and breath, of word and deed. You are a Mystery that takes a lifetime to discover, one of infinite depth.

You are a damn rune, one that is risted with the blood which runs in your veins.

The rune-god, the Terrible One, the Father Of Magical Songs – for nine nights he hanged himself, wounded. No escape, no quarter. No bread, no mead.


No. Escape.

All that he was, burned to ash by fire, and frozen by ice. He gave it up, sacrificed it, because he acknowledged there was no other greater Mystery in all the worlds. He sacrificed himself to his Self.

And if the superheroes are part of you – if you truly bleed Gotham, if the you can hear the Joker in your own voice, feel the pain of immigrant from a destroyed world who is feared, shunned and worshipped. If you get down on your knees and weep the heartfelt sobs of an orphan boy who watched his parents get murdered in front of him, or feel the unending rage of the strongest there is, while all the while struggling not to hurt anyone?

If those are truly yours, and not just mirrors, not just reflections, because you want to escape the face in the mirror for somewhere better, then you know what, what the hell are comics creators doing reading my blog?

Me? I shall take my Mighty Honoured Dead. I shall drink with them, and laugh with them, and love with them, as I did in life, and as my kin did with their forefathers, and their forefathers did with theirs. I will take every piece, every moment of my life, every breath, and I shall not move from the centre of my Self, at the crossroads of the worlds. I will fail at looking constantly at myself, but I shall keep looking, keep seeking. I will fall, and I shall be bewitched, and in that bewitching, I shall be bound, and in that binding I will discover the laughter that breaks all fetters, and find that I never left.

And I shall burn with the light of my own lamp, which has been fuelled by my ancestors, that burns blood-red across ten thousand years. I shall eat the flesh of every moment, every experience, and every word and song that calls to that unuttereable infinite self shall strengthen me, shall echo and reflect that Mystery.

Do you understand yet? Or would you know more?

My ancestors, my heroes, my words, my deeds; my mistakes, my triumphs, my betrayals, my hopes and my dreams. My gods, my songs, my stories, my breath, my bone; my thoughts, my memories, my sex, my death.

My love, my life, my body, my mind; my tears, my blood, my pain; my despair, my joy, my agony, my ecstasy.

My fury. My wodh.

All of these and none, are doors to my Mystery. They are the bindings and the ties, the dreams that point the way, the prophetic speech that encompasses my life.

I am a word spoken, a rune sung by the voice of the All. There is nothing else for me, but me.

Austin Spare once wrote:

“However great your reach, whatever you touch, shall touch flesh.”

Perhaps chaos magicians should listen to their Grandfather, eh?

That notwithstanding, only unflinching devotion to that which makes you, you ,matters. And although you are, in some sense utterly alone, you are not and cannot exist in isolation. So I say again, learn the Mysteries of your land, of your living, and your dead and they shall show you the path. Perhaps then a god will smile out at you from the pages of a comic book, or pass you by in the skin of a stranger on the street.

Perhaps your ancestors will greet you when you look in the mirror, and if you sit with them long enough, enjoying their company, perhaps they will introduce you to long dead heroes, now so much more than mortal?

I’ll leave you with words which are not mine, and are from fiction, yet are spoken and written truly from the heart:

“Lo, there do I see my father.
Lo, there do I see my mother, my sisters and my brothers.
Lo, there do I see the line of my people back to the beginning.
Lo, they do call to me.
They bid me take my place on Asgard in the halls of Valhalla,
Where the brave may live forever.” –The 13th Warrior

Be seeing you.

[Addendum [1]:It\’s been pointed out to me that prana and chi are not nebulous concepts within the contexts of their own traditions. This is entirely correct. It\’s just the Western Materialist Paradigm that views them so within the context of not being satisfied with traditional forms of measurement, and hence would regard them as nebulous. Mea culpa for falling into dominant-culture unconscious biases. I hope the drift of the sentence can still be grokked. ]

This is part 8 of a series. Here are Part 1 & Part 2 &Part 3 & Part 4 & Part 5 & Part 6 & Part 7


A story within a story. A dream within a dream.

I had a dream the other night – one of those odd anxiety dreams that show up occasionally. For some reason, my psyche likes to throw up a variant on the not having done your homework subtype. Specifically, I had turned up to my history lesson for the first time in an age – in the dream I’d been skipping it for most of the year, you see. My teacher was as snarky and sarcastic as he ever was in the waking world, taking pains to note that I’d really screwed up and would never get into University now.

In the dream, I remember shrugging. Sort of a “So be it” crossed with “Meh.”

“What are you going to do, now?” he asked me, moustache waggling dangerously.

“Now..?” I looked straight at him. “Now I’m going to quit.”

The shock reverberating around the classroom was almost physical, as if I had slapped every single dream-person around the face with a wet fish.

And I had done it really hard.

That was the point at which everything stuttered and froze. A person might suspect that such a thing could have bad consequences – and yet the whole experience was like one of those inevitable train-wrecks that we’ve all seen. The kind you can’t look away from, even though, inside, something wants to be as far away as possible from there, pretty damn quick.

Maybe that’s happened to you in dreams before – the inability to look away? Or maybe some other form of dream logic has gripped you tight, and no matter how much you try, you just can’t wake up, until the dream has run its course. Then again, maybe you’re an expert in the art of lucid dreaming, or just plain lucky.

Nevertheless, in that frozen moment of dream logic, the paralysis was total, and yet…

Yet I began to notice something, and as we’ve said in the previous posts, sometimes you don’t know what it is that you’re noticing. Sometimes you don’t know, what you know, until that moment when you’re able to notice that it’s already begun. It’s even more unknowably noticeable in dreams; that vague, murky somethingness.

That inchoate sense, that odd feeling that you can’t quite identify, can’t quite describe. You just know that there is something there, right?

Something close and near, even though you don’t quite know what it is. Maybe it’s tension in your chest, the knotting of your gut, that sense of pressure in your head – or maybe it’s one of myriad sensations that bring you an indefinable knowledge. We’ve all had it – something like it, haven’t we?

And when you have that, what happens then?

When you’re fixed in place, faced with that rising sensation, something happens. If you’re lucky, sometimes in dreams, then that’s when you’ll wake up. More often than not though, that murky sensation becomes impossible to ignore, until there’s no escaping the knowledge. A person can suddenly become aware of something that they didn’t know before – and it’s that change in perspective and perception which really ramps things up – for good, or ill.

In the case of that particular dream, the sensation was of everything holding its breath. As the moment stretched, it brought with it the realisation that I had apparently gone off script somehow. Whatever part of my brain was running my sense of self had, in some way diverged from the rest that was spontaneously creating my classroom, my snarky history teacher and shocked classmates.

I hadn’t taken control of the dream – hadn’t stretched out my hand and shaped it to my will. I was still paralysed in that moment – my sense of my self locked in a holding pattern, and yet it was one of those odd teaching moments that will happen when you least expect them to.

Imagine for a second that my dream was in fact a computer simulation, and that some part of me had realised the import of my shrug. Because even though I was apparently supposed to be having an anxiety dream about screwing up, long years after graduating University and doing postgraduate work, I didn’t care.

The usual reactions and responses to such a situation are well established – that’s why most, if not all of you, will recognise what I mean when I write about an anxiety dream – we’ve all had them at some point, after all.

But suddenly, the hardware and software was being forced to generate a new environment, to change the parameters.

And what happened?

The whole thing crashed, because it couldn’t cope. It couldn’t cope with the lack of the usual responses

Think about that for second – no move was made to escape, and it still crashed the system. What could that mean?

If control is impossible, what then? Nothing is static after all, and even the smallest change can engender massive effects. That’s the essence of what we do – we change worlds with words and deeds. Like I said, think about that.



When last we left our erstwhile seeker of knowledge in the tale told by the storyteller, they had been digging for the secret of all things beneath the roots of a certain tree and the earth had collapsed on them. Trapped underground and slowly running out of air, they had encountered an earth spirit:

“..So the seeker explained that they were trapped and waiting for death, and that there was no escape. The spirit looked on open-mouthed, so much so that his pipe fell from his mouth!

Why should one wish to escape the earth? He shook his head in stupefied wonderment. Rock and stone, earth and soil was all one could ever need, surely?

Would that I could be as you, lamented the seeker, but alas, I am not.

The spirit’s perplexity increased. For after all, he noted, he and his kind had arisen from the earth and nothing but! It surrounded them, and permeated them – were all mortals this silly?

With a hand, so the spirit gestured, and the earth gave a groan. What little room there was about the seeker collapsed inward, sealing them in completely!

The crushing weight was all about them – the air slowly being squeezed from their lungs…

Until, suddenly, they found themselves moving amidst the blue light, swimming through the earth – and to their surprise, the dwarf had grown to normal size!

Smiling, so he reached into his pocket and handed the seeker a pipe of their own – and with a shock, the seeker realised that their skin was as dark as the spirit’s!

For its part, the spirit seemed pleased – now, it explained, the seeker had assumed the necessary shape. This, it explained, was only natural as such things went, because none could ever return to what was before. The earth had no time for anything that was not itself, and it was far, far older and more patient than any mere mortal. Its shifts were aeon’s long, the thunder of the continents themselves.

The seeker protested that they were mortal, and the spirit snorted!

This was not so, could not be so, it insisted. No mortal could ever dwell here. The pressures alone would end them, grind them to pulp. No, the only way to live was as himself. Their conversation was proof of this, as the dwarf led the seeker deeper still into the earth, until at last they entered a large hollow chamber in the centre of which, something hung gleaming, obsidian black and cold.

It presided over a plethora of machinery and furnaces, it shone over the busy backs of labouring spirits as they crafted their art. About it, all things seemed to turn – like planets around some interior sun.

The spirit pointed. There, he explained, lay the secret which the seeker had sought! See there – the way the tip of a root quests downward to bathe in that luminescence?

The seeker looked on, amazed beyond all reckoning. For that inner sun seemed equal in size to the burning orb which hung in the vault of the heavens, and our seeker had learnt much of astronomy in their time.

How was this even possible, they wondered aloud? How was it that something so vast dwelt here, all unknown, at the centre of the earth?

Not a little grandly so the spirit informed them that such things had always existed, but were by their very nature occluded from mortal eyes, untouchable by apish, grasping hands. Were ever the earth to be broken open by a mighty hammer, and its innards laid open to the sky, that secret heart would never be found.”

And back in the inn, here the storyteller leaned forward and tapped his very own seeker on the forehead.

“Do you think you have the guts to dig that far, my friend? To give up what you are, for what you will inevitably become?”

Now, dear reader, do you not remember that the story of the tree and the seeker is a story within a story? A tale told to a seeker in an inn, newly descended from the mountain?

A story within a story. A dream within a dream.

We shall soon hear the seeker’s reply to the story, yes indeed. And when we do, then you perhaps you will ask yourself what it is about yourself that can be illuminated by such a tale.

But we won’t be doing that quite yet, at least not until I close the loop and set us on the next level of the spiral. Because you’ve probably noticed that, contrary to first impressions, the real work of this comes not from the how-to. Instead, it comes from the stories themselves. And you may be wondering when exactly you’ll understand what it is that I am uncovering for you now.

So, consider this – what if stories were your environment?

What if you were shaped by their subtle pressures, and all that that entails?

Because remember, everything you perceive is that, is it not? Are you not already changing in ways that you will only become aware of, after those changes have occurred, even as they are happening.

And they are happening, right now. Right as you read this, minuscule changes are happening that you are as yet unaware of, which means quite precisely that you are not the same person as you were when you started reading the post.

So a person might get to wondering what exactly will occur when you’ve read this whole series, especially as we are by no means done yet, are we?

As you’ve been reading, I hope you’ve been thinking about that crashing of the system, because we can give that a more accurate name, can we not? Rather than saying we crashed the system, we might say that it was disrupted. That the dream tore itself apart when one tiny piece acted in a minutely different way.

All those stresses and strains within the dream, all the parts that made it what it was, were precisely what made it fly apart into pieces. But before I tell you what emerged from within that wreckage, don’t you think we should hear what the seeker’s reply to the storyteller was?

For there was a pause, and then the seeker said three words – if I were a betting man, I wonder if I could count on you knowing what they were, already?

“I don’t know.” They said.

And the storyteller grinned. “That’s the only answer worth any salt, I’ll give you that. But the story’s not done yet, not by a long chalk, so – Would you know more, or what?”

An eternal question – but before we leave the answer for next week, I must tell you what emerged from the wreckage of my dream – a dream within a dream.

A dream composed of three words:


Catch you next week!


This is part 7 of a series. Here are Part 1 & Part 2 &Part 3 & Part 4 & Part 5 & Part 6


Hail to you dear readers!

Did you know that ‘Hail’ comes from the Old Norse heill – which means a sense of good luck of prosperity? It comes from the same root as ‘health’, which derives from the sense of being whole, and of good omen. You see, there’s a whole (heh) number of connexions to it, ranging from health to wholeness, to holiness and sacredness.

So the next time someone hails you, implicitly or explicitly, remember that on some deep level, one might say they are wishing you well – uttering the intent that you will be well, whole and complete.

A person can do that for you, without even realising it, and after all, when you consider the wider implications of what happens in the dark spaces which exist before you’re aware of thoughts and actions it doesn’t seem quite as far-fetched as before, does it?

“[I] Waxed and throve well;
Word from word gave words to me,
Deed from deed gave deeds to me,”

The above verse comes from Icelandic poetry – an Old Norse piece purported to be the sayings of the god Oðinn. I will tell you this – that simple verse contains the secret you need to do this work.

To lay out the words like bricks in a road – one at a time – so that you can get to where you want to go. To tell your tales without restraint; to make what you do inevitable and irresistible.

Remember back in part 1, when I said that this isn’t for you? When I said that, if you dream of wealth and power, then this isn’t for you?

I was telling you the absolute truth, and you may find that, as you are beginning to realise why I said that, you’ll experience something strange.

Because this isn’t for you.

That, on the other hand?


And because of that fact – that it is – and yet this is still not for you, a person can, if they wish, begin to understand a peculiarity of language.

This is not for you. That is.

It doesn’t matter if the line above doesn’t make sense yet, just as it doesn’t necessarily have to be anything other than a small step along that path.

What matters is that you’ll realise that, even if you don’t understand it yet, you will. And you will, because like everything else, that understanding happens before you’re actually aware of it.

So, it’s actually perfectly sensible to realise that you know things, and have understandings, which you don’t know you know yet, isn’t it?

After all, so much is going on that you’re not aware of – and so much indeed already has, and will have gone on, without you being aware of it, hasn’t it?

Think about your breathing, and notice how it carries on without you being aware of it. Now, imagine what it would be like if you had to be aware of something to make it happen. What would happen if something caught your attention?

Obviously, stopping breathing every time something pulls your awareness in another direction would be severely detrimental to you as an organism. So you carry on breathing unless something blocks your oxygen extraction, and yet you’re not aware of that, are you?

Remember – this is not for you.



That genius, that faculty which we have spoken of, is the essence of what we do.

And ‘that’ is different to ‘this’, is it not?

If we’re talking about the merest, purest, most precisely focused form of work, which will enable you to access your creative powers in all their myriad forms – as we surely are – then when you begin to notice that genius, that impulse, you are noticing what it has already done.

Everything is that.

Everything that you perceive, everything you are aware of, is that.

By now, you already know what I am saying – you already have known it since forever, whether or not you are aware of it, yet. And now, as any good storyteller does, it is my job to allow you to become aware of it – to use communication to direct your awareness.

Remember our storyteller and the seeker of esoteric knowledge? Recall back in part 5, the storyteller said:

“Just so – yet how would you answer my questions? How will you discover what lies buried in the earth? Do you come to me for truth, lies, or esoteric wisdom?”

And the seeker thought for a moment, for they knew much, even before that moment.

“All of them.”

“Just so.” The storyteller grinned. “So, the tale goes thus:


“There is a tree with roots that stretch down into the deepest worlds, and up to the highest heavens. Its branches spread out beyond the sky, widening out into the spaces between the very stars themselves. Buried below the tree’s trunk, there is a treasure, the likes of which no mortal man has ever seen. There, in that dark earth, waiting to quicken to life, lies the secret to all things.

And it came to pass that a seeker heard of this treasure, and resolved to discover it at any cost. For nine nights they travelled to that tree, and for three more they circled its vast trunk, clambering over the roots which lay above the surface as they tried to decide where to begin their excavation.

Now, if you’ve ever dug near a tree, you’ll know that roots can spread wide, and dive deep. So our seeker thought long and hard before selecting a particular root and beginning to dig, for the work was hard and back breaking.

Three feet down they dug, then a grave’s-depth, then nine, and then twelve, following that root all the way. Down they went, digging, trying to find the end – deeper and deeper until the walls of earth towered above them, until the weight of soil began to fall inward, slowly at first – the merest trickle. The seeker was so intent on digging that they did not notice the trickle become a small slide, and it was only when the ground began to rumble that they realised their mistake.

By that time, of course, it was far too late, and the earth came down upon them, hard and fast, entombing them in darkness!

They lay trapped in the darkness, unable to move, barely able to breathe, and what air that there was was running low soon enough. No matter how they struggled, they could not move – and indeed their struggle merely used up the air even faster.

Irrevocably imprisoned, and surrounded on all sides by the press of earth, the seeker resigned themselves to death. Time passed and the seeker’s thoughts and hopes and dreams exhausted themselves – how could they not, for they were unable to move from inescapable gravity of death, just as the body could not move.

But the smiling face of Death did not appear immediately, for it keeps its own time – and so the seeker found themselves with naught to contemplate but their surroundings. Surrounded on all sides by impenetrable darkness, so the seeker began to see a strange light, one which did not extinguish the darkness, but emerge from within it, complementing and enriching it somehow.

And by that light, clear and unwavering, burning blue and cold, so the seeker beheld a dark little man, sitting before him, and calmly smoking his pipe.

Now the seeker could not speak for fear of earth entering their mouth, but they knew, without knowing how, that this little man was a dwarf – a spirit that lived in the realms under the earth, and who may pass through stone as easily as you or I might pass through water.

Such spirits, the seeker knew, were master makers and smiths. Tales were told of their smithing skill, and it is said that is they who crafted the items which the gods esteemed as the highest of all gifts.

The spirit sat calmly, the smoke of his pipe rich and heavy, watching the seeker. Without speaking, he conveyed curiosity. What, he wondered, was this mortal doing here?

Though unable to speak, at the other’s question, the seeker found they could answer in kind. Swiftly, they told the spirit of their quest and misfortune, as I have told you, and begged for aid.

For that creature’s part, there was much laughter.

Did the mortal not know that such treasure was the province of such as he and his kin? It lay, so the spirit explained, deep within the earth, glittering brightly as lit by a hidden flame at the centre of all things. No mortal could ever behold it, it lay so deep amidst the crushing pressure – so much so that the weight of the earth which pressed down currently upon the seeker was as the merest pebble.

Only such spirits as he could pass within to that most interior of realms, he explained.

And oh, how the seeker despaired and fell silent in their way, feeling all that weight anew. Yet into their despair crept the curiosity of the spirit – why should the seeker fear the earth, what were they waiting for?

So the seeker explained that they were trapped and waiting for death, and that there was no escape. The spirit looked on open-mouthed, so much so that his pipe fell from his mouth!

Why should one wish to escape the earth? He shook his head in stupefied wonderment. Rock and stone, earth and soil was all one could ever need, surely?

Would that I could be as you, lamented the seeker, but alas, I am not.

The spirit’s perplexity increased. For after all, he noted, he and his kind had arisen from the earth and nothing but! It surrounded them, and permeated them – were all mortals this silly?

With a hand, so the spirit gestured, and the earth gave a groan. What little room there was about the seeker collapsed inward, sealing them in completely!

The crushing weight was all about them – the air slowly being squeezed from their lungs…

Until, suddenly, they found themselves moving amidst the blue light, swimming through the earth – and to their surprise, the dwarf had grown to normal size!

Smiling, so he reached into his pocket and handed the seeker a pipe of their own – and with a shock, the seeker realised that their skin was as dark as the spirit’s!”

(Join me next week for the conclusion of this particular story, when you can finish joining the dots that this part has started to connect, even if you’re not sure how yet)

This is part 6 of a series. Here are Part 1 & Part 2 &Part 3 & Part 4 & Part 5


hiatus (n.)

1560s, \”break or opening in a material object,\” from Latin hiatus \”opening, aperture, rupture, gap,\” from past participle stem of hiare \”to gape, stand open\” (see yawn (v.)). Sense of \”gap or interruption in events, etc.\” is first recorded 1610s.

Ginunngagap – the yawning primal void. On either side of this lay the primordial realms of Fire and Ice, and when they met and interacted, the giant Ymir was formed. Norse myth tells us that it is from his slain corpse that the worlds were built. A triad of brothers killed him, cut him up, remixed him and arranged things into the worlds we know.

Last week, this series went on hiatus. I was having an empty brain day – couldn’t summon enough words to make them worthwhile your reading, so I went and did something else I worked on other projects and then gave myself the rest of the day as an ‘input’ day, rather than an ‘output’ day. I don’t believe in writers block; you can always do something, even if it’s not what you originally planned.

I didn’t consciously plan the hiatus, but, as it turns out, it gave me exactly what I needed. Rather than scurry back to my original notes and attempt to wring some filler out of them for you, I followed my instinct.

Well, I say instinct, and yet what I really mean is my ‘demon.’ There’s a quote from the esteemed Science Fiction writer, Roger Zelazny, which I posted on Facebook the other day:

Occasionally, there arises a writing situation where you see an alternative to what you are doing, a mad, wild gamble of a way for handling something, which may leave you looking stupid, ridiculous or brilliant -you just don\’t know which. You can play it safe there, too, and proceed along the route you\’d mapped out for yourself. Or you can trust your personal demon who delivered that crazy idea in the first place.

Trust your demon.

And here, dear readers, is where we are beginning to notice a pattern, aren’t we? Recall from Part 4, that a genius is really a tutelary spirit. Recall that “The bones is yours, dad! They come from you!

Creativity takes work – it is rarely a matter of sitting around for ideas to come. Anybody who says that is not a creator, they are merely a passive channel, unreliable at best and unpredictable and corrupt at worst. Such folks as these who partake in occult pursuits are often subject to what Mr. White of Runesoup refers to as “extradimensional trolling.”

From a storytelling standpoint, this makes for boring stories that make no sense at all, leaping from point to point.

Trusting your demon is like trusting a friend or sibling. You only trust them because you’ve built a relationship up – you know each other, and you trust them to be themselves, and that’s something you’re fine with. But knowing them is key above everything else, in engaging in the back and forth which builds connection – in the communication.

Remember the rabbit in the hat? Remember how important it was to keep talking – to not edit? At base level, that exercise was about becoming comfortable with creating on the fly without restriction, and yet there was also another purpose.

When you learn about your body and your voice, when you begin to use that toolbox, you begin to learn and gain knowledge of yourself without the pesky censorship of society.

Slowly, you are beginning to learn that the default modes of communication are often reflexive, and that with deliberate and careful observation and practice, you achieve more nuance and depth. You can communicate and convey different internal states to the world, and change your own. All this is a pre-requisite for communication with your ‘demon’ or genius.

(Note that these terms are fluid and I’m deliberately keeping them vague, because I’m certainly not silly enough to offer definitions.)

Your ceremonial magicians will no doubt be muttering about the Knowledge & Conversation of the Holy Guardian Angel. Those with more of a yen for the Greek Magical Papyri will no doubt be muttering about various daimones or supernatural assistants.

Within the context of this series though, I am referring to the quality/faculty/entity with which one may develop a relationship, so that one is capable of turning everything and anything to use.

This demon is precisely why one may confidently allow a hiatus, and be sure that, while seeming to be empty, such a disruption may, in fact, be pregnant with creative potency. To do that though, one must be thoroughly and literally obsessed by one’s demon. Quite literally, one becomes a child of the ‘god’ – those with grounding in the Graeco-Roman schools of magic will no doubt see the parallels with the underlying roots of esoteric Christianity and other tradition, but that’s quite enough comparative theology for now!

It is not a path for everyone – it’s not particularly ‘safe’ either, being as you can’t ever stop doing it, and if you try, things have a tendency to go awry. But it is something that a creative person will recognise, every artist, writer, musician and actor and countless other folk. One might even say that it was ultimately left-hand path in nature, but that’s neither here nor there.

By developing this communication skill, this recognition and method of riding and coexisting always with that inspirational force, everything becomes source material and the division between the two ceases to matter.

Remember that question from the end of the last post – “What will you do right Now?

That is possibly the second most important question I’ll ever ask you. We’ll get to the first, in a moment.


Being aware of what’s going on is highly important in life in general, but specifically in storytelling and sorcery. You need to know your audience, and to be able to watch and tailor your story to them. You need to know where you are and what kind of action is appropriate there.

The difficulty arises when, unfortunately, you can’t possibly have all the information you need. For most, a best-guess or a prediction based on previous similar experiences will do.

But we’re not most people. We understand that the map is not the territory, and that the medium is the message. We understand the world whispers a twilight languages writes books on iron-grey skies and weaves tapestries out of rain. We understand that the light of sun and moon provides pathways to other places, and that nothing is ever still.

Which brings us to that most important of questions: “What’s happening Now?”

Some of you may know some mindfulness techniques – the act of remaining present and observing what is occurring, without judgement. They’re highly useful, and I recommend them. Just observing what’s going on, without drifting off into what it means, or associated memory, helps deal with a great many things.

We can’t escape the Now, not really, although we try through mental chicanery. Recognising that, and engaging with experience as-is, will very often change the quality of the experience completely.

As an example, next time you have a pain, instead of ignoring it or wishing it would go away – focus on it completely and utterly. Within thirty seconds, you will notice that the sensation begins to change. By continuing to focus on that ‘new’ sensation, you will notice that it too will begin to shift in nature. Now, rather than interrogating the change, bring your focus back to the original area and keep it there.

In no time at all, you will notice just how significant a shift mere focused attention may engender.

However, this is actually not the most interesting product of that important question – because in fact, due to the quirk of biology we possess, what we experience as the Now has already actually occurred a split second earlier.

Everything we do, we have already done!

I have already begun the necessary process which produces the words I hear in my head which I am typing now before I am even aware of it. Decisions about which word to use are made without my conscious input:

I’, is at best, an echo or an after-image, a residual impression. Consequently, to use the example of pain – the pain, when it it shifts or ends, does so before we realise it!

Now, what does this nervous system quirk have to do with us? After all, the lag is usually less than a second, surely?

This is true – but given how quickly decisions are reached before we act, that gap might be said to be nigh infinite. Suppose then, that we argue that our conscious awareness arranges experience in such a way as to create a narrative to justify the decisions and actions taken in that void?

Suppose then equally, that that narrative is created on the near edge of that abyss – and that we react according to that narrative.

So then, there is a chain of action stretching on and on, with our awareness merely along for the ride? If that’s the case, why bother with the exercises I have given you in previous posts? Quite simply this:

It’s a feedback loop – yes, there is lag, a nigh infinite yawning space that disrupts our idea of cohesion and flow between events. However, by mindfully bringing these processes into awareness, they become fine-tuned – think of martial arts drills and repetition.

This means that the actions and decisions taken in that dark space become more refined, more useful to our idea of narrative. Subjectively, change happens more rapidly – thats to say more occurs in a shorter time.

Work solidly and completely for five minutes on one thing alone, with one thought, one goal, and you will achieve more than thinking about 3 connected thoughts in 15 minutes. Equally, the more occurs, the more we can tweak – one suddenly finds more resources and potential paths.

So, finally, circling back to storytelling, what to do? Why, nothing short of total utter commitment to every word, every syllable and letter. Make its transmission inevitable, as inevitable as the rest of your existence.

Join me next week when we’ll see just exactly what this means for us as storytellers and seekers of esoteric knowledge.