Tori Amos’s album, Night of Hunters, was absolutely vital in processing my grief when my mother died. On the trip to spread her ashes, I listened to it endlessly. The album helped me process another, earlier wounding, from when I stopped singing. I have a degree in vocal performance, but I stopped singing. Don’t get me wrong. Some of you have probably heard me sing and you are thinking me a liar. I can still sing, but I stopped singing, if you know what I mean. My band had broken up in a rather dramatic fashion in college, and that changed the pattern of my fate, for the better, I think, as I suddenly put my energy into a new pattern, with a few transitional years that the gods gifted me with to show me it was not a mistake, and the dreams I had dreamt to be a rockstar were not longer my dreams to have. I got to see rockstars up close, and for the most part, really unhappy people. I didn’t want to be unhappy. But it was still a wound, even though it was a blessing that I stopped singing. Yet there I was singing again, Night of Hunters, at least for a bit.
I find myself in a similar darkness these last years. Functional, yes, but not singing still. The wound is not the sharpness of a band break up and the loss of your best friends, or the deep loss of a parent, but the lead-like heaviness of miasm upon the soul of a nation and its effect upon local community. The heaviness is a different kind of grief, a loss of what you thought would always be there on some level, or a realization that perhaps it never was. It’s like a person slowly wasting away to illness, but something larger, and less personal. Still grief. I think a lot of about the Arthurian Wasteland and yes, I feel it. And I have found myself listening to Tori’s Night of Hunters again, a weird mix of modern lyrics and melody set to variations of traditional classical music. A theme that shows up in the album, particularly in the song The Chase, a variation musically of a piece from Mussorgsky retelling the chase of Taliesin by Cerridwen, is that she must “out-create” rather than be violent and emulate harm and destruction.
Out there are hunters
Let’s say predators
I have weapons
That could destroy them
You must out-create
It’s the only way
“It’s the only way,” “Anabelle” sings, a guiding shapeshifting character played by Amos’ daughter in this musical epic. In these days, in these times of “shelter in place and quarantine, I think about how we must out create. Are we taking this time, if we can, if we are lucky and privileged enough, to think about how we want to be, individually and as a society. I read an article recently that I am having difficulty tracking down again, but it looking at Covid-19 in a way that was reminiscent of a teaching from chaos magician and comic writer Grant Morrison, in his The Invisibles comic.
“That is why we are devouring our environment. Man, like the caterpillar or the maggot, is a creature in its larval stage. We consume to fuel our imminent metamorphosis.” – Grant Morrison
Trying to reconcile our destructive, growing consumptive nature, my hope that this was true on some level, and then there would be a period of cocooning and coming out as something different. I don’t know if corona virus is it, but I don’t know that it’s not. I wonder what dreams caterpillars who are liquifying and transforming are dreaming. I wonder if their dreams are creating the beautiful wings that will carry them. Birth to the butterfly is death to the caterpillar.
I have decided to dream, to envision. What are the new things I’d like to see in my life, and in the life of my community, our greater society? What are the models of rights, of society, of daily life, and of family you’d like to see happen? Think and feel deeply. Dream them.
Do we seek transformations in this modern world of our basic rights. There was a time when homesteading was a fact of life, but in our urban world, is the right to clean water, healthy food, housing, education and health care as important as any other right enumerated in any of our documents?
I see the unthinkable before this, a nation like Spain, starting Universal Basic Income. When I dream, despite being a fantasy romantic, I think of our Star Trek world, and a humanity that has gone beyond the need of money, where there is no want or starvation, and people pursue their interests to better themselves. Fiction, but does not the best fiction point us towards a potential future. If my choice is Star Trek or Mad Max, I choose Star Trek every time. Though even in this fictional world, there was strife leading to it, and strife afterwards as well.
Does the model of endless growth economy finally show us that the only thing in nature that has that kind of growth is (with a few exceptions) cancer, and the cancer, like an endless growth economy, will kill us.
I know while I love my life and love my job, I dream of a slower pace and more depth of connection rather than the multitude of connections everywhere, always. I am enjoying being more present now, taking time in nature and being more local. I dream of a world, despite social media, where there is less narcissism and shallowness, and more depth in general. I am envisioning the societal wounds of feeling lost, not present, not good enough, constantly producing, proving and hustling as a thing of the past.
Reflect on the wounding, your wounding, the communal and generational wounding that is occurring now. How do we help those of us who are traumatized, or the youth whose arc of life has radically changed, as it did for so many after 911? It took 15 years and a parent of someone who was a little kid at 911 to realize he had a fear of travel because of 911, and no ambitions to see the country, let alone the world. It never dawned on me that fear of leaving home, of big cities, or foreign places became a part of that generational pattern, not being a parent. I think of my own youth wounding around the AIDS crisis, and yielding a generation equating sex and death literally. Today are we garnering a fear of physical contact, of affection, hygiene obsession, scarcity, or that every sniffle or cough could be the start of a deadly illness? How do we work magickally, psychologically, and personally on these things before they grow too strong?
I am not advocating any big unified magickal ritual or global meditation, for a new society or for healing. I’ve participated in a lot of them over the years, and I don’t think they work. Or maybe they just are on a slow arc, but they are not where I place my energy now. I think we need more cohesion as a group mind to make them work, and dissonant thought from even the most well meaning can short circuit that kind of magick. I think there are reasons why covens were not more than thirteen, working in secret, and have found that even well trained people using a variety of techniques, images, and ideas don’t seem to get too much accomplished unless they build a strong base of common mind first.
But I do believe in how individual dreams coalesce organically and naturally, and draw a center of gravity together to manifest. And I do believe in the power of individual choice, to take both individual and collective real world action. So it is important to out-create the destruction. Will there be dismantling of old systems? Sure. But we must be building towards something. Take this time to dream, to vision, to potentially plan if you can.
I think of another influential comic author, and his magickal series Promethea, a Hermetic-Qabalistic Wonder-Woman at heart. Promethea ushers in the end of the world, but after the worlds ends, there is still the world to deal with. Her alter-ego, Sophie Bangs says,
“I mean it’s not like there weren’t going to still be questions and choices after the apocalypse. What did we think we’d all just go to heaven and there’d be no more problems, or diseases, or earthquakes? No, we all woke up, the day after the world ended, and we still had to feed ourselves and keep a roof over our heads. Life goes on, y’know? Life goes on. It’s not even like there aren’t still wars and murders and rapes. Everybody had the revelation, but not everybody understood it, or took any notice of it. Though maybe enough people did. Things are changing.”
If you are facing horrors daily, if you are just getting by, if there is no time to dream and this is not a cocoon for you, then do what is necessary before you and no more. But if you in a place to take notice, to find revelation and can out-create the current vision of the world, then out-create, and let our creations gather mass and gravity on the astral and become reality here and now. Thoughts are things. Let’s us project than enough people do take notice, and work together to make change that benefits us all.