5: Waking Up

I fear my pronouns will be all over the place in this one. I suspect they often are anyway.

I have thought about how to get at mûl-ôl without the topic derailing and tangenting into half a dozen other topics. If the psychic censor, if halthaya and hurur distract us from the magical and from the Otherworlds, if they lead us to forget the magical and the Otherworlds, then mûl-ôl is the experience of living life with the censor. It is the daydream, the numb lingering dream of living a life of drudgery, of powerlessness, of forgetfulness, of mere work and labor punctuated by brief ventings.
In many senses, mûl-ôl reflects the overall spiritual malaise and sense of dis-enchantment that other pagans and polytheists have written about. I will point to these two 2013 posts by Rhyd Wildermuth that cover very related conceptual ground.

Mûl-ôl encourages a passivity and sense of reactiveness—living, thinking, feeling on autopilot, and falling into the inertia of habit. These habits include habitual actions, habitual thoughts, and emotional reactions. Mûl-ôl reflects the ongoing disenchantment of not only the world but also of ourselves. However, this “dream” extends beyond the magical and well into everyday life. As DeRay McKesson reminded folks recently, “a tactic of oppression is to inculcate the conditions of hopelessness so deeply that we cannot function, that we forget to fight.” Mûl-ôl includes the disenchantment of the world and ourselves. Mûl-ôl includes the dull nightmare of surviving. Mûl-ôl includes how we internalize cultures of abuse, violence, rape, racism, misogyny, and privilege.

Mûl-ôl is just as political as it is magical. For some folks, I suspect the political rouses them from the dream. For others, the personal (which is very often political!) leads them into the magical.

In part, disentangling yourself from mûl-ôl entails “waking up.” Admittedly, the point I am getting at is very much the call to “wake up!” but also to stay awake. For me, I find myself having to devote time to “recovering” myself after work or after engaging in some obsessing task like typing, editing, number-crunching, etc. Or after feeling the overwhelming force of—I’m tempted to call it “the world” but the reality is it’s the culture that wants me to be quiet, to cry in the dark and not bother anyone else, to suck it up, to look away, to feel hopeless and powerless, to distract myself with for-profit addictions, to just lie down and take it, to not imagine myself as anything other than what those in power want me to be. A good worker who accepts the system and moves on. And I find myself spending so much time, it often seems, in ritual recovering myself, reminding myself of what and who I can be, can experience, can live and act as.[1]

Of course, everyone does or tries at some point to recover ourselves from this force, this nightmare of life in this world–no, culture. You get home, and you have a beer, take off your work shoes, sit back, and try to relax and feel “sane” or “normal” again. In a sense, we work to reclaim ourselves from the trance of work, the dream of work. The dream of living in this culture. To do so, we may also seek to trade out that dream with others. We will watch TV or movies or look at our phones or computer monitors, and we will immerse ourselves in other dreams. In all of these dreams, we are not ourselves but some other ego suited to those dreams. In this sense, we adopt another ego that can become hurur, as an expression of the psychic censor and halthaya. At the same time, our experience within these “dreams” constitutes another aspect of halthaya and the censor. It is that dream wherein you are never really living or in charge of or shaping your life. Art can inspire you in your life, and that can include Star Wars or The Clash or comic books or Shakespeare, but “mere entertainment,” to borrow from Adorno, will lull you into other people’s trances until you have to go to work again.

Mûl-ôl is the dream where you cannot have any power or control in your life, in what you desire and will and want to do, what want to enact. My focus here is the magical side of things, and that lack of control should be obvious in its effect it can have on magic. However, I have come to see that the point of “magic” is to get at living and experiencing life as I want it while appreciating the consequences of my choices—the effect my choices and desires have on the world and other people. In these senses, re-enchantment is not just trance states, projection, practical magic, etc., but also living.

[1] Like many folks, I have grown wary of being, and I have recently noticed that it is easy to fall into similar habits with living. 

Image: Sky (by me)

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