Thursday, March 27, 2008

Barbelith Advice part 3

To summarize from last week’s blog:

  1. Magic is communication with the universe: develop an important theme of communication in your hypersigil.
  2. Research godforms of communication, including Hermes/Mercury. Thoth, Odin, etc, as powerful symbols of what you want to accomplish in communicating with the universe.
  3. Work your hypersigil into a serialized story – the more interaction from fans or other people, the better.
  4. A hypersigil should reflect the spirit or trend of the times.
  5. Start off with a setting that is a glamorized setting of your own world.
  6. Slowly add in personal references, like people you know, things you’ve done, and places you’ve been.
  7. Act like your characters.
  8. Acknowledge that many of your beliefs are fiction.
  9. Maintain the integrity of your story despite any need to make faster magic.
  10. Keep a journal.
  11. Use the third person instead of first.
  12. Provide emotionally charged scenes.

To continue with more advice from Barbelith, I’m actually including names this time instead of just vague references to anonymous writers.

Sebastian comments

I mean, first you come with the magickal intention, then you design the plot, then you start writing it as a story or as a novel or whatever.

Magickal intent equals goal of the story or your life. Every story needs a dramatic need that drives the story forward. Every person’s life needs a goal or multiple goals to give their life focus. Plot is the movement and activation of your goals: how do you achieve them or try to achieve them, realistically? Writing is doing.

He continues,

At some point, you are going to pay a lot of attention to strictly literary matters, so that you go for the literary richness of the text,

By paying attention to the literary conventions of your story, you are enhancing the symbolic nature of the hypersigil. The subconscious mind and the universe doesn’t work through words because words are human creations. Your subconscious reality works through symbols and literature is about the interweaving of symbols with real life.

and you start paying attention to the length of sentences, adjectives, the order and repetition of words, so that the whole thing will look fresh and nice for publishing under the eyes of an editor, an eventual reader and the crappy literary critics we all have read from.So, at this stage, you may literally blew the plot out of your mind while becoming obssessed in finding "the precise word", the tempo, the glittering perceptions that only the writer can convey to the reader so to blast him full into the literary experience. And you re-read the whole thing one time and another, changing articles, adjectives, commas, periods, tiny details. And I think that is how the thing is charged and creates momentum.

At first I didn’t agree with what Sebastian was saying but after re-reading what he said a couple times, I got the gist of it. Normally, freewriting works best when writing a hypersigil but here Sebastian is talking about the process of editing and interacting with an editor as a way of charging the hypersigil. Interaction with others is necessary as stated in the previous blog posting, and the process of revision and preparation to meet the editor and face the critics creates emotional turbulence that like with freewriting further charges the hypersigil.

El Directo adds in:

So much of our thinking is shaped by narrative structure, practically from the moment we’re born. We map these structures onto our lives in ways we don’t even realise, and the fact that so many people are doing it creates can create the impression of vast narrative made up of everyone’s interlocking stories.

In a nutshell, what El Directo is stating is that human cognition is created mainly through loose narrative sequences, that we are composed of stories, many which we may have long forgotten about but which are still shaping our present-day behavior. If we are narrative creatures, hey, why not rewrite the story of our lives?

Since those notes were short, I’ll continue with another thread from Barbelith:

David Roel comments

Don't sigil for what you want. Sigil for what you need.

Yeah, my preliminary research on sigils has uncovered the same advice. The basic premise is the Monkey’s paw where you have to be careful what you wish for. I read a story where a guy wished for mad crazy success for his new online business and then got millions and millions of hits and orders to the point where he couldn’t fulfill them all. His business went under. Likewise, in wishing to possess a certain specific lover you are sabotaging yourself. It is best to desire to meet someone who is compatible with you rather than forcing your subconscious to fit your external desires. Who knows better, you or your subconscious?

XXII:X:II = XXX reiterates the same idea:

START with what you need. What you NEED. There are certain bare essentials that have to be in play if any sort of improvement is to come into your life. Write these down. Understand how one relates to another. From these basic elements, you can then set certain goals as long as you understand how those basics will help you reach those goals. Start simple. See it clearly. Understand the path from here to there. Believe that you WILL achieve these ends, that the end result is not in question. Envision yourself at that point; really see it clearly.

Eh, kind of New Age-y with the whole “believe you will succeed” crap, but again, part of the hypersigil is to start a life improvement program. A problem that many people have is that their life is marked by a lack of goals or a lack of understanding about what they want, why they want it, and how to go about getting what they want, or rather what they NEED. The hypersigil forces the writer to plot out goals because goals (and conflict of achievement) is necessary for the success of a story. The story goals intertwine with life goals. To properly understand the story goals, the writer has to understand and focus upon these goals in real life.

LVX23 takes the advice into a more practical area:

Do some preparatpory [sic] divination, visualization, invocation - basically anything to draw out the underlying symbols and metaphors gestating within you. Or pull from an already existing set of metaphors you're used to working with. These will be the characters of your hypersigil, as it were.

Preparation is important like when you cook, you first have to set up the ingredients so that everything is ready for the actual cooking. The initial stages of the hypersigil should be a gathering stage whereby you set up the components in stages: what characters, what settings, and what plot scene do you want to include in your hypersigil? This can take some time.

So far my hypersigil has taken several steps going in circles back to previous steps.

I started mainly with a dissection of fantasy and science fiction motifs, mainly analyzing and taking apart popular movies and books like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, the Terminator, Harry Potter, and the Matrix, as well as influential comic books like the Invisibles, Planetary, Watchmen, Swamp Thing, and the like. This was a major first step where I had to go back to my original inspirations and pull them apart into a raw imaginative form. The end result was literally hundreds of scenes and conventions pulled out of respective influences.

I then began writing out my life, focusing on events in particular years but also other life-altering events that were out of chronological order. At first I portrayed these events as my life but then reworked them into separate scenes and individual stories about my characters.

Yeah, having characters would help. I made up characters that symbolized important people: some were literal like my family, while others were more symbolized, like my friends turned into gnomes and trolls. I based a lot of their characters on astrological personalities as a way of studying and portraying astrology. As of yet, I’m still developing each character.

Likewise, I am still developing setting. My first step has been to create iconic genre settings, for example, a sci-fi world where different locations represent different sub-genres, like military zones, soft sci-fi centers, hard sci-fi laboratories, apocalyptic zones, virtual reality centers, etc. My next step is to start incorporating more of my own travels into the setting.

All of the above resulted in a big mess, especially the plot, eventually resulting in over 200 stories that I wanted to combine into one novel. My current step is to organize my narrative timeline more and then actually start with the magic, freewrite the individual stories, sigilize them and start weaving them together.

LVX23 continues

When envisioning your idealized self - the self you wish to be as a result of the working - don't just think of what would be cool or how you'd like to be Spiderman.

Yes, that is a pitfall, getting too far into a fantasy self with no practical attempt at improvement. It is better to imagine yourself as a calmer, thinner, richer self than a web-spinning super-hero.

You need to honestly expose negative aspects of your self- the shadow - identify and personify them, then go about the necessary means to engage and overcome them or integrate them in more productive ways.

While reading up on sigils, I saw a similar idea related to binding demons. Since your hypersigil is autobiographical, the villains in your stories should relate to your character flaws. What are your flaws? Personify or characterize them as the enemy of your story. For example, a significant scene in my hypersigil involves taking my flaws and turning them into demons that are bound by the hero.

Conversely, look at the positive characteristics already present in your personality that you'd like to extend and further develop or integrate into your being. Work these in as the counterbalance to the Shadow, the protagonists or guiding angels, the sentinels of Light. The flow between these forces, and the ritual work necessary to invoke each will surely generate enough experience to inform your hypersigil.

The opposite, your hero or related characters should capture what is good about your personality. The positive and negative aspects of your personality battle against each other symbolically, but make sure to approach this conflict realistic through your symbolism. If you have an anger problem, how then do you conquer your anger? You must show how to realistically bind this demon of wrath.

Another writer on the Barbelith message-board codenamed FinderWolf throws in his two cents:

You can ask for the next steps to come into your life that will be part of the journey towards getting a book published: free time in which to write, research or ideas coming to you when you need them, and further down the line, contacts with folks who will help you in getting the manuscript read, etc.

If you read a good book or watch serialized television shows, you’ll notice that the plotline calls for the greater task to be broken down into smaller plotlines. The same goes for any goal. You can’t just move from beginning to end but must have a sequence of stories that each contribute to the final result. If I want to get into a PhD program, I have to figure out my area of interests, improve my GRE scores, write up my application essays, find a program to go to, have enough money to apply, get recommendation, etc. Work your magic step by step; don’t try to fly before you learn how to walk.

The Tower Always Falls gives practical advice:

What I did was write a series of journal entries. All the same date, roughly a year apart for 13 years- detailing what I would be thinking about or writing about then. I mostly wrote with some very bland, mundane events with the backdrop of certain events that I wanted to happen. Sort of in a trance state as I wrote them, not really examining what I wrote or if it was a good event or bad event so much as free-writing and letting myself drift within this future self. I then sealed these entries into a folder and put it away, never to look at again until the right year and date. Now I mostly forgot what I had written, but I remembered enough that I was worried that the whole "lust for result" would color my working. The result when I finally opened the 2003 entry was interesting. Many of the mundane details were completely off. But the main thought I used as a backdrop to the entry ended up coming somewhat rue. I wrote with the backdrop of having a new job as a "film writer" (I think there was some ad in the paper for that job as I wrote the hypersigil). Turns out I'm not writing film reviews, but I AM writing a screenplay in an oppurtunity [sic] just happened to pop up. So the hypersigil interpreted my "film writer" backdrop slightly differently, but the base result was the same.

Mm, I think he is over-reaching a little bit but the theory and practice is still coherent. What The Tower Always Falls did is write is hypersigil up in parts, like scenes or chapter, in a freewriting trance. The freewriting is where the power is. He wasn’t working with one unit but more in sections. His results were similar to his writing but only at a general level. It is better to be general rather than to focused. Instead of wishing for a specific person to fall in love with you, wish for the right person to fall in love with you, or perhaps use a specific person as simply a symbol and hope for the right partner to arrive. Write out your scenes but expect the results to be more interpretive or different. I get this result with money magic: I don’t magic to win the lotto but I get job offers from resumes a year old or from unexpected tax returns.

Lastly, Rex Feral warns

Bearing in mind that a lot of results magick involves getting laid or getting rich, I can't see how people expect to conjure for these things and have everything else in your life remain static.

Expect consequences. Changing the nature of things creates unbalance and a vacuum.

1 comment:

Aerozopher said...

thank you sooooo much for sharing!!
this is a gem on my path!