I wrote this post a little while back, but I held off on sharing it because the experiences pointed me to a particular experiment to perform, and I wanted to do that operation first before sharing the post. Then, “Black Seas of Infinity” came to me as I was reading through The Brazen Vessel, and I felt it pointed to many of the kinds of things I’m going to talk about here.
This is a story about myths, motifs, synchronicities, and fortune telling with tarot cards—and reality proving a bit The Ninth Gate.
My sister and I are twins in many ways, though we are not twins. I am four years older than her, but we’re often mistaken for “twins,” or people want to see us as twins. However, over the years, I have noticed how much we twin. I remember when she played various role-playing games—D&D and White Wolf and more exotic fare—and she would use gaming and fiction to explore herself and facets of herself. And she found names, some more common than others, some particular. The names of saints, of fictional FBI agents, of angels, of faeries, of aery spirits, of demons, and she pulled forth mythologies and epic cycles—
And I had pulled names forth as I had plied my enchanted way, the names of saints, of goddesses, of horses and lionesses, of angels, of faeries, of aery spirits, of demons, and I found myself journeying into the Kingdom and the Imaginal, into lunar mansions and the indestructible stars, guided by the faerie Sibyl, Olympians, and pre-congregation saints.
And I saw how, on reflection, my sister had been weaving her way through similar landscapes and mythologies—in fact, damn strangely synchronous landscapes and mythologies. I mentioned some of them to her once, and all she could say was, “That’s…strange.”
She viewed her process primarily as “psychology” and “imagination,” as an emotional escape and release valve, but ultimately pleasant, exciting, meaningful, intimate fictions. Desires for other worlds and lives.
I found that my expressions, my eruptions of these mythic motifs, characters, and situations, started presenting themselves more and more. They presented more as I tried, as I worked to somehow embody them, to give them places to boil forth into my life.
These mythologies have their gnostic dimensions, and there’s a particular spirit who long ago was Big and Important and Respected, a queen and “shakti,” as it were. But something gnostic and demiurgical happened. A fall happened. This spirit tumbled down through history through forms and roles and identities—from someone almost a Creatrix, through angel, through angel or a demon, through a fiction, through a poetic device, through a metaphor, through a demon, through an aery spirit, through a demon, through a siren and faerie and so on. This has happened to a few spirits, surviving and shapeshifting and looking for ways to thrive, to rise, even as they tumble down the centuries.
And as much as I recognized this snaking line through time, I could see the same snaking line through my sister’s “fictions,” through the variform experiences I wound up having.
I started seeing expressions of it in the synchromystics’ mad ravings, though I think the mythologies I’ve been living aren’t especially unique to me—there are many instantiations of the larger archetype of the Siren, of the Mistress of Beasts, and Fallen Sophia out there. And some of them are rather more loud and public than mine. That said, I have found spirits associated with those other instantiations to be rather…aligned to my interests. I think they smell, or can recognize, our likeness. We’re sisters, as it were. Like twins.
I had reflected on my sister’s blocks in her life, and I wondered how her stuckness related to my life, especially if we’re twinning as much as we are. In very real ways, we’ve both been surfaces through which this particular myth can erupt, or can try to. A good friend showed me a 3×3 tarot tableau method, and I threw some cards.
What’s the relationship of myself, my sister, and our spirit?
I showed the spread, without my explication, to a couple of colleagues in enchantment. One offered an apt, though generally positive take. The other offered the caught-in-the-mire-of-potential-negativity take. My take was somewhere in the middle. I had the opinion that we were seeing the hologram from different angles, and we pretty much had the same with the spread below.
You see, in several versions of the myth, the Spirit is bound or trapped, thwarted by a Demiurge. The Demiurge needs the Spirit to be trapped in the Demiurge’s reality, partly I think to help power that reality. But my sister’s stories had similar Demiurge figures and bindings of the Spirit/self. I once heard her describe what the Spirit’s primary motivation was to her partner, while discussing writing and the mythology she had fashioned, as “absolute freedom against everything…even when it winds up being self-destructive.”
And I had enough dreams—and I recall hearing enough of my sister’s dreams—to recognize eruptions of that Demiurgic Imprisoner. Hell, I remember dreaming of a name that I knew was that of a gnostic demiurge, and it wasn’t until I looked it up again that I realized it was a demiurge associated with the Spirit.
And, well, the tableau struck one colleague as being emblematic of a frustrating, recurring, nigh unending struggle and blocking. Trying to rebuild and un-fall, to escape, only for that blocking figure, that Demiurge, to drag everything down. I see him in that King of Swords.
I threw another tableau. How do I liberate myself, my sister, and this Spirit?
And I was looking at this spread, and there was more of trying to do that rebuilding, getting out of the fallen condition, and so on—even as it seemed to point to failure or even “getting out requires sacrifice…or dying.” That is, as I was reading the tableau, I wound up interpreting it as pointing to suffering through this lifetime towards the hope of something better after death.
I threw these tableaus a little while back. Meanwhile, my sister had to get a new car over that weekend. Totally unplanned. Now, in one of my sister’s instantiations of her engagement with the mythology, she had a character who had been a mortal instantiation of the Spirit, and said character had a magical, souped-up, red Mustang. Practically a faerie Mustang.
The only car my sister could manage to get—because of time frame, finances, and negotiations—wound up being a red Mustang. I mean, I also petitioned a couple of saints to help her pull off getting a car, even though it certainly wouldn’t have been her first choice. It’s ultimately kinda cramped for her needs. Anyway, I observed to her that I would have to get used to seeing her drive that character’s car, and she observed, “I…hadn’t thought of that.”
I had this hypersigily synch on my mind, and I wound up doing a bunch of candle magic with four pillar candles with petitions under them atop the altar—and as I was going to lie down to rest, I noted how the pillars with flame reminded me of Place’s wands—and that 4 of Wands was one that came to mind. I lay down there and listened to some ambient music, with some candlelight while I closed my eyes, and I relaxed enough that I slid into a trance state somewhere between the hypnagogic and journeying.
I had some hypnagogia, something that struck me as being elsewhere, then what I recognized like tarot tableaus in my vision, and I realized, I was seeing something like the tableaus with that King of Sword, that Demiurge figure. And I reached out to allies—how do I…get around him?
You see, this King of Swords relishes conflict and confrontation—that’s his preferred game, the game and reality he likes to draw folks into. Rage against the Demiurge, and you’re stuck fighting the Demiurge within the Demiurge’s domain, within his logic and narrative of, well, violence, confrontation, and so on. It’s like trying to fight wetiko with your fists. You will only be feeding his story, his logic, his power. If you merely try to flee, then you just adopt the role of prey. You’re still in the story and its logic from that perspective instead.
And it was a Queen of Heaven, Mary even, who basically put me into a little scenario of her own, letting me glimpse these pitfalls briefly, with some mediation between me and the Demiurge. And a thought came to me: put a mirror at him. Surround him with mirrors. He was stopped and confused—another King of Swords looking back at him, and it was like using the Demiurge’s carceral powers against the Demiurge—who is, after all, blind and caught in his gnostic prison, too. Let him chase himself. Let him fight his own reflection. I had the experience of binding eight mirrors around him so that he’d be caught. Then I could just…go on my way. Let him chase his tail while I move on. And I had the sense of a particular rhythmic and rhyming add-on to some of the Agathos Daimon hymns and spells in the PGM—to use an actual creator, a serpent creator (that 2 of Pentacles, but also the snek with Place’s Magician/Hermes), to weave that mirror prison together. A prison would play to that Demiurge’s own carceral qualities even as he would be the one powering that reality. And the feel of the ritual was specific and significant enough in the trance state that I was like, “Fuck, write this down.”
I almost didn’t as I sat there afterwards.
As I pondered some of this while getting some fresh air outside under the trees and waning moon, I pondered the eight mirrors and made an association with bagua trigram mirrors for feng shui. And some simple magic started coming to mind: get such a (concave) mirror, tape the same King of Swords (his name written through 7 times, and crossed by his own name) down to the mirror, and enchant it with some adapted PGM business. Then wrap it up in black cloth and put it away.
I pondered the logistics. I decided that it should be Saturday, probably a solar hour, and I then remembered that a Sun hour of Saturn day is good for making lords fight each other. It was as I was doing this planning that I realized that the recurring eights of the tableau were suddenly making a different story out of the tableau. I had originally interpreted the diagonal from the Nine of Pentacles through Eight to the Eight of Swords as describing the Spirit’s attempts to fashion their way back to that whole, healthy world tree (the figure in the 8 of Pentacles is in the process of fashioning a Ninth), but I had interpreted that King of Swords as blocking and pulling the Spirit back into being trapped in incomplete, demiurgic reality (8 of Swords instead of 9 of Pentacles). But I realized that the tableau was now also describing using a larger reality (via Agathos Daimon) to fashion an eight-sided prison…for that King of Swords to inhabit the 8 of Swords.
As I realized this, while I was deciding for the concave mirror (for absorbing negative chi rather than reflecting it), I had a holy shit moment. The potentially defeatist, or even Well, I guess it’s about suffering through to the end of this life and trying to find a way out then? story—I’d been shown a way to recontextualize the story to a very cunning end.
I threw some Noblet tarot cards at what the consequences of such a gambit would be.
And I saw a weave and knot [ed: 10 of Batons] behind a King (of Batons) staring and brandishing against an eight spoked wheel that suggested a mirror even as it’s the Wheel of Fortune—staring at Kings rising and falling eternally. Even the X mirroring catches my attention now. But, I said something like “Well, shit” as the cards showed me the King fighting against his image, oblivious to the wall behind him.
And the bottom card of the deck…the Bateleur, both Magician and very literally a Juggler. The trick isn’t to fight the Demiurge: it is to game the game, to pull a switcheroo. To be clever.
It’s a mind game, a mind war, after all.
What does this wind up looking like so below? I have no idea yet. But I’ve been pondering how to break my own stuckness—and my sister’s—for a while. Indeed, I had done a blockbuster operation for her leading into the journeying experience: it was one of the candles, one of those wands.
The Operation Itself
I had set my alarm on my phone for about 45 minutes before that Sun hour on Saturday. It’d been a busy and tiring two days previously, and the operation was on my mind as I went to go to sleep. I had decided to work in a Marian element to the ritual I had planned, and I had most everything set aside.
When the alarm went off, I still felt damn tired. I dismissed the alarm, turned over and decided at first to get more sleep. Maybe I’d do it on the second hour of the Sun. I went into a dream.
Fair warning, I’m going to tell you about the dream. In it, I was teaching a witchery and magical martial arts class. A bizarre fly with the face of a man flew in, and it was big and fat and disturbing to look at. It landed towards the front of the classroom, and one of my students leapt atop it with a coffee can. It was trapped for a time. We were trying to figure out what it even was, what to do, but as it started to distort and stretch the coffee can, we prepared to battle it. The critter distorted the can into a stretching, long tube with an angry face on the end.
The dream shifted to after the fact. Someone tried to convince me I had been injured fighting the critter and needed his medicine to avoid an infection/infestation. We were then interrupted by someone who, in the dream, I think I recognized as “boss.” He told me we needed to be punished for consorting with demons, and he refused to listen to any explanation on what had actually been going on. He said that he was going to punish us by threading a cord through our flesh “like the demons like to do with their servants.” As he started to do so with me—”gently,” he assured me, as my crime had been lesser—I found he could only pinch me a little. He couldn’t pierce my flesh.
My aching shoulder shocked me awake. I checked the time. It was just into the hour of the Sun.
At first, I wondered if the dream was a warning against doing the ritual. Was I trying to put a coffee can atop a spirit? Surely it wouldn’t work. I reminded myself what my own fortune telling had said (see above) and that it was Mary who had pointed the way. So, I went ahead and finished the operation. It wasn’t until afterwards when I was writing down my dream, that I realized that the “boss”—that archon—had been trying to pressure me away from doing the ritual. I mean, as I wrote about the boss doing “like the demons like to do with their servants,” I had the conscious sense to comment, “So what the hell are you, mate?” Furthermore, the way he positioned himself off to my side so I couldn’t see him too well and the sheer otherness of the fly and the boss, I realized something had tried to dissuade me from doing the experiment.
Ultimately, I figure my allies and my body were telling me to get the fuck up and get to work. That archon didn’t want me to do it, and in the end, I said “fuck you” and did it.
Featured Image: “Strength” cards from the RWS, Tarot of the Sevenfold Mystery, the Noblet tarot (Force), and the Tabula Mundi (mini) (Lust).