Jack of Many Trades

Art and Aesthetics with a hint of Apotheosis

Originally posted: 2022-01-08

If we're using a broad definition of art - and I am - then my primary way of enacting magic over the last few years has been art. I do some ritual, sure, and I make offerings and meditate and research, but I mostly write, and I do some painting and, while I haven't for a while, I also needlefelt and make dolls for icons.

I like to paint as a sort of sigilization work, where I use the colors and shapes to call a goal that I'm spelling for. It's part meditation and part energywork and as a bonus I often (though not always) end up with a neat abstract painting at the end of it.

Lately I've been working on a working loosely derived from the Headless One working and other practices where you align yourself with gods, the HGA, etc. Different schools of thought but all of them reaching for something greater than what we appear to be at first glance. Naming ourselves something greater as the key to being something greater.

I guess in Theos Logos, in writing magic, it would be the Mary Sue work, though I don't really think of it that way much anymore. Mary Sue still has gender hangups and negativity that I haven't quite figured out how to put down, and the writing that I do for this isn't really for public consumption anyway. I write it for myself or my partner and I write together, and the magic isn't in sharing it with an audience but in the writing itself, the emotions and experiences we write and the energy we put into being it.

The actual mechanics of it are basically the same as any kind of fiction writing or roleplay, which I know people have used for self-transformation before - there's that running joke about eggs roleplaying as their eventual gender and lots of otherkin and similar non-humans will use writing to explore the mindset and experience of their true self. You can make it as structured as you like, if structure helps you. There was a time when I would light a tealight and take dictation until the candle burned out. Now it's more a matter of finding the small bits of time and drawing them out.

And speaking of roleplaying, well...

When I came to paganism lo these many years ago, there was A Look. (also there was A Scent.) And then there was the backlash against the look, so of course you could complain about people who were LARPing. The person I was dating at the time was very much a Look type, where I had previous leaned towards complaining about the Look even as I was drawn to expressing myself "in real life" as much as online. One of the things I liked about her was how she seemed to be able to be effortlessly magical in her everyday life.

Of course, it was more complicated than that, and for a long time I felt like leaning into the aesthetic of it all was too much like her, so I pushed back and pushed back and pushed back, but I've all but pushed myself in a circle now. I'm a grown-ass married adult and I can be as weird as I want to be. My partner and I can have huge altars, and we do. I've painted sigils on the walls and hung strands of chain and beads to direct energy through our home. I can make and trade for magical objects that look like magical objects, and not everybody enjoys this but for me, yes, having a tool that fits the work I'm doing, that matches the story I'm telling with my spellwork, it helps everything flow more smoothly.

The argument I've always heard about dressing in robes or garb for ritual is that it puts you in the correct headspace, and this is the same. I'm telling a story with words, but I'm also telling a story with the way I do my magic, the way I decorate my house, the altars I lay out and the choices I make. What I look at every day reminds me what story I'm telling.

I've seen mention that Headless One rituals work better if you do them in public, despite the fact that you're enacting them inside your head, because the way people perceive you changes and empowers you. I think about that, about glamour, about what it means to choose to look like A Middle-Aged Dad and what it means to choose to look like A Wizard On The Bus, what I can take from how other people perceive me and what I can leave. I spent so many years just trying to completely block out and ignore how people saw me, and in retrospect a lot of that was knotted up in dysphoria, as evidenced by the fact that my first experiences of gender euphoria were always from being mistaken for a boy in college. I learned shapeshifting and glamourwork only once I was able to articulate what I didn't like about the way my body worked and the way I was seen, only once I'd begun to decouple my desire to live an authentically magical life from my feelings about the way my ex went about trying to do it, and only once I'd started unlearning the anti-Mary-Sue "storytelling rules" we're taught as young teens in fandom.

There is considerable freedom and power in writing what I want to write, living how I want to live, looking how I want to look and being who I want to be.