Wednesday, November 13, 2013
I am, by natural inclination, a very superstitious person.
Wait, let's start here instead.
Once upon a time, when the Earth had just formed out of a coagulation, a collision of rocks and space dust, when it was just a ball of smashed together minerals, the heat from the impact of all those little bits and pieces grew to be so hot all the metal was able to run together, and the planet was nothing but a molten marble, a suspended drop of swirling heavy poisonous rock. And when this happened, all the iron and nickel in the molten mixture started to gather and sink to center, pulled by gravity and whirling dervishes, and it all came together in a dense crazy whirlpool of super-heated stuff, and is now what's known as the Earth's Core. The thing that gives us our magnetic field and therefore allows our entire atmosphere to exist. This is known as the Iron Catastrophe, Jere told me about it as casually as one sends a link to their friend of a Dogs Eating Pickles tumblr. And I felt two things when I read it - first, shame at not knowing about this already or more likely, having forgotten about it already, and two, gratefulness that it existed and a desire to honor that it existed and tell people about it.
I think this is the base emotional process behind superstition - the shame is basically fear of being found not worthy, unable to prove your value or competency in the face of a huge universe that isn't capable of showing mercy for your best intentions, and which you will likely never be able to know or conquer, whose attention you may never be able to catch. Right, like, when you are something way smaller trying to not get killed by something way bigger, it's important to decide if you either need to hide from their attentions, or you need to try and get their attention so they don't step on you. I guess it depends if you prefer to see the universe as something hunting you, or something marching past you unaware. I prefer the latter, it seems less psychopathic. So first, the shame and fear. That's where the gesture of a superstition comes in - the throwing of salt, or the motion of avoiding a crack, or the carrying around of certain objects.
The second part then is the belief. Once you've made the gesture, you have to have the belief behind it, or it won't work. Any 15 yr old witch will tell you that. Spells require real belief, and that's where the gratefulness comes in. Because it creates a rush of emotion that sings out "Yes, and Thank You", one of top ten most powerful things you can utter when you really mean it.If I were to believe, for instance, that all I had to do to conjure something I wanted - a desire or a safety - was to think very hard about the molten core spinning around at the center of our planet for millennium, and the very wonder of its formation and existence and slowness of process, then if I was clutching a magnet in my hand and thinking of its mother iron at the same time, that would be a spell. Superstitions are just the little spells we all do, all day, to compartmentalize our worlds.
I have excuses for believing in these kinds of things, and also for looking and seeing signs of synchronicity all around me. I was raised Catholic, and I was read fairy tales every night before bed. What else could possibly have happened to me? Of course I was going to have an unwavering sense of magic, more so than god or law. Here are some examples:
- My birthday is 7/10, Sean's birthday is 10/7. I believed this was important for the longest time, and attributed significance also to the fact that the last number in the year I was born was the last number in the year he was born, but flipped upside down, and also kinda believed this was why we always had such bad birthdays together, because we were birthday opposites.
- A few years ago, I created a fake fb profile for my fake boyfriend, just so I could have my relationship status read things like "Bridget is currently separated from Sunny Disposition. Today is Sunny's birthday, according to the random date in November I picked when I made his profile. Turns out, today is also the birthday of a guy I met 8 months ago, whom I'm consistently halfway in love with. No part of me really thinks that's a coincidence.
- A guy bought me a rock. I carried it around with me cause I liked it a lot. I lost it, and we started being awkward around each other. I found it again, and everything smoothed out and got better. So now I'm attributing the health of our friendship to whether or not I've got this rock on me.
Obviously all these things are crazy. Only a crazy person would believe they were true, and I know they are not true, but....I feel they're true. I know they're not; I feel they are.
And lately I think I've come to a decently solid interpretation of this contradiction, which is that I don't believe in God, but I believe in the Narrative. I believe in the human brain's infinite capacity to turn anything into a story, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. I believe that the practice of drawing those lines between events in order to sequence our experiences is the creation of time, and the constant evaluating of our memories creates place, and the position of hero or villain in our stories creates our sense of identity, creates us. We honor the great Narrative in our lives when we create these stories and recognize them.
In my particular story, I am apparently boy crazy. Anyone who knows me will tell you it's true. I don't really know why, I'm just that kind of person and always have been, I relate everything in my life to sex. I take a morning supplement that is basically what they give to guys to increase virility, and honest to god, it's the healthiest for keeping my coat shiny and my teeth sharp, the sex plant simply works on my cells best. I think some people are just based in certain emotions, like the humours of the body or the elements. And to write it off as just an excess of lust, like it's something a little common decency could fix, is oversimplifying and naive. There's a lot of emotions and actions and choices and beliefs that play into my kind of personality. It's a very vulnerable and risky thing to be - the kind of powers you choose to fuel your life say a lot about you, and sex (not as the act, but as the mindset) is one of the most uncontrollable, but also one of the most potent. When you choose to use it to try and relate to the universe, to let it be your key into understanding reality, your filter or translator or however you want to take this metaphor, then you are saying "It's more important to me to be powerful than it is to be safe."
My point is, I'm a girl who knows about spells, and it doesn't surprise me at all that I would seek out the most dangerous power source for my own magics. I don't know how you're supposed to be a priestess of the Narrative otherwise.
Posted by Bridget Callahan at 12:20 PM