The fire roars while William Briar visits with his family. #domagick #developingyoureye

Domagick Challenge Day 5 #domagick

I had a good deal of writing I wanted to get done today for the course I’m teaching at the beginning of April, and I expected it to fight me every step of the way. Strangely, the writing came easier than any I’ve done in years. I can’t help but think that’s because I’ve decided I don’t have to write anymore unless I want to do so. I am doing it for me, not anyone else.

I know I can be an extremely resistant individual. If you keep telling me I have to read a book, it doesn’t matter how good that book is; I will never crack its covers. The thing is, I’d never describe myself someone who dislikes authority figures. I’ve always been the kid who sits at the front of the classroom and hands in their homework on time. I remain a mystery, even to myself.

After meditating briefly with Salleos, I consulted the Tarot about this tendency and turned over the Sun and Death cards. I interpreted this to mean that I know my place in the universe and want to do what I like. I also want to make space for frequent new opportunities and growth, i.e. I hate getting bored. I just have to make sure I am pursuing of meaningful change and not being contrary for the sake of being contrary alone.

Besides this, I made took a couple of photographs for the #developingyoureye challenge WordPress. Whether or not I initially feel inspired by each day’s photography prompt, I always become absorbed playing with the act of playing with my camera and altering the photos. It may make me a wannabe hipster, but I adore this kind of thing.

Today’s prompt was ‘connect’ and I planned to take pictures of my cats alongside a necklace which means a great deal to me. When I pulled the necklace away from one of their paws, it formed a natural heart shape. This represents the person who gave me the necklace perfectly, as she is all heart. C, these are for you.

(The photograph at the top of the entry are for yesterday’s prompt, bliss. I took the photos too late in the date to post on time.)

 

"Angel or Daemon" by William Briar #angel #demon

Augury Through Cat Puke and Tarot #domagick

DOMAGICK CHALLENGE DAY 2

I feel like I was kicked in the teeth this morning. One of my cats jumped up on the bookshelf and knocked down what I’d I spent a week crafting with Malphas. One of its parts cracked right down the middle. It wasn’t just a trinket. I’d spent days charging it with positivity, security, and creativity. Now I either need to repair it or start again. Worse yet, when I came home one of them had puked spectacularly all over my desk chair. I couldn’t help but think the universe was trying to tell me something. Last night’s question kept coming back to me. “I’m a writer, aren’t I?”

I suppose I am. I do, after all, write. Sometimes I even enjoy it. I blog at demonolatry.org and have a good time doing it. I’m may ache after my time at my desk, but I don’t resent that. It feels like time well spent. I feel the same way about the posts here. I’m not sure how many people are reading, but at least I’m being given a chance to express myself.

Other times, writing feels like a burden. I don’t mean the business aspect of it. Although marketing yourself on the internet is never fun, I’ve gotten used to that over the years. Perhaps not savvy at it, but I recognize that it is a task I cannot ignore. Yet that isn’t the part of writing I’m referring to, or even the Dreaded Novel I Cannot Finished. Rather, it is that people think of me as a writer. It is what they expect me to do with my days, and what they expect me to be good at, and to be satisfied by. Writing has always been at the core of who I am. I fear that saying it no longer makes me happy a good portion of the time will make me seem like an entirely different person: a lesser person, someone not as worthwhile in their eyes.

The people I admire most are storytellers. A few have been published—many times, in fact. Others struggle to place their stories. They remain among the most gifted tale-tellers I know. I always feel blessed when they open up and share one with me. In all likelihood, most of them wouldn’t even consider themselves storytellers at all. They might say they have the gift of the gab, that they can make people laugh, or that they are natural healers. Indeed, they should be allowed to define themselves, but they remain storytellers to me, and they seem a little bit magical because of that.

Two tell stories with something other than words. The teacher of my sound healing class can spin tales with graceful movements alone. On the other hand, my husband weaves stories with color and light. He paints in three mediums now, with oil being the latest he’s trying to master. He once wrote together, but he could never quite express with words what he can with the brush and he always felt as if he was trying to catch up to me.

I admit it sometimes frustrated me that such a knowledge gap existed between us, but I knew he would catch up. I’ve often wondered if the joy went out of writing for me when he moved onto painting. Deciding that would be the easy but not true; in many ways, I prefer to work alone. Still, I often resented the excitement with which he raced to his easel while I trudged to my desk. I knew fibromyalgia and all shit-ton of other health conditions made harder and harder for me to sit there, but I also realized stress worsened fibromyalgia. After years away from drawing, I finally tried my hand art again to spend time with husband and to relieve that stress.

When absorbed in lines and color, the world disappears for me in the way like it used to when I wrote fiction. I cannot connect with stories that way anymore. I have to fight through fibro fog to write at all. I was amazed when I could edit a friend’s work so easily the other day. It took me hours, but I could concentrate in a way that I can only with visual art and meditation now. I know if I keep plugging away at it, that I can probably could force those neural pathways open and write again… but I don’t want to do so.

I think that’s what my spirits were trying to tell me when they brought up the Novel That Dare Not Be Named and all its labyrinth symbolism again. It was a story about a man who felt himself changing and became terrified of that change. I felt myself changing while writing it and became similarly afraid. Back then, I was certain that any metamorphosis providing me with the key to happiness would also guarantee I’d end up alone. I still fear that, only now I can see that my chrysalis involves art. The tarot deck I consulted today said no change will come at all unless I am willing to admit what I want, no matter the risk. I’ve known this all along.

Not so long ago, the writer I admire most suggested I take a break from writing. Other than my current commitments, that’s what I’m going to do. I will even play what if with myself and pretend I am not a writer, at least not a professional one. I may be good at writing, I can support my friends and all they do, but I do not have to write anything new this months unless it makes me happy.

Somehow I forgot that muses must be nurtured. They must live in a healthy environment to thrive. I’ve kept mine in a coal mine, working him 24/7 for years. Even when I wasn’t selling my work, all my writing was aimed at eventual sale or getting me forward in some way. I stopped writing for fun—except for the few bits and bobs I mentioned before. I’ll keep up with those because there’s no reason not to; it makes no sense to throw away what still works, does it?

In light of what I’m figuring out about myself, I’m ratifying my original plans to bring them more in line with working with daemons of love and understanding. Therefore:

EVERY DAY I will write my novel for one hour, without planning anything in advance, using a soundtrack I created for inspiration. I will not judge or even looking back at the work until the end of the month.  Listen to the soundtrack. Meditate on and disperse any anxieties it brings up with dance and sound. I accomplished this today.

EVERY DAY – At minimum, sing the enns of the daemons I’m working with and run their energy through my chakras. I accomplished this today as well.

EVERY DAY – Make some new art, even if all I do is photograph or draw something I love. If possible, I will listen to upbeat music while I work. I haven’t managed this yet, but I still plan to after dinner. I feel like saying I want to make is major movement on this front, since I’ve been nearly paralyzed to say it out loud and disappoint people I love. In addition to completing day two of the #developingyoureye challenge through WordPress and snapping the photo you can find below, I took a snapshot of the angel which sits on my porch. Do you love her as much as I do? You can see her at the top of this post.

And, of course…

EVERY WEDNESDAY – Attend a sound healing class here in my city.

MARCH 10 to 12 – Attend workshop on the how to use the 5 Warrior Syllables.

A photo street lit by street lamps take for #developingyoureye
“A Quiet Night” by William Briar
"Home Away From Home - The Flock" by William Briar #domagick

Sound Healing Brings Realization #domagick

DOMAGICK CHALLENGE DAY 1

Last night, I participated in the first of four sound healing circles. One thing I learned about myself is that I don’t play crystal bowls very well yet. I also discovered I can make a wide variety of animal noises. However, neither of these things was as important as my third realization.

The evening came to a close with an art exercise meant to integrate our new knowledge. When asked to contemplate what part of my picture disturbed me the most, it wasn’t the negative faces I’ve drawn surrounding my body that bothered me, but the paintbrush and pallet I held. I couldn’t understand why. I’d intended to draw myself as creative and happy, and my dancing figure seemed to portray all of those qualities, yet my eyes grew wet as I stared down at it. All I could think was, “Why didn’t I draw a pen in my hand or show myself holding a typewriter? Why didn’t I draw words flowing out of my hands? I’m a writer, aren’t I?”

Also accomplished today, as per my original agreement with myself:

  • Six hand-written pages on my novel, while listening to the soundtrack I made for it.
  • Sang the enn of the daemon Salleos while in the shower and ran his energy through my chakras as I washed.
  • Took a photograph based on the #developingyoureye photography challenge, which you can find above. I titled it “Home Away From Home – The Flock.” It is meant to represent the Axis Mundi which stands within every one of us, the core of power around which our personal universes spin. I’m learning mine may not be what I thought it was…
daemon demon Malphas

With a Song in My Heart, I Look Fear in the Face #domagick

In the past, many people have said, “music hath charms to soothe the savage beast.” That’s because they got the quote by Congreve wrong. I understand why, too. The phrase “savage breast” brings such strange images to mind nowadays. Maybe the public chose to go with the sentence which made more sense to them, quote be damned. After all, what parent hasn’t tried a lullaby at least once when their child started crying for no reason?

In our infancy, we are at our most primal—driven entirely by our needs without thought for what society says we should want. Those worries come later, when we learn how to be civilized. Sadly, the better we become at fulfilling others, the worse we tend to be at fulfilling ourselves. If we’re taught to fret about the opinions of others too early, we might not even remember the goals and desires we left behind. This leads some of us to search outside ourselves for missing pieces that aren’t really gone at all, only suppressed and ignored. I believe music has the power to lure the angry and wounded parts of us back into the light for healing.

Previously on my blog, I talked about a novel that scared me so much that I couldn’t finish writing it, and how my fear blocked me from nearly any writing fiction afterward. Since posting how I’d decided it’s time to tackle the project again, I’ve had nightmares frequently. Some are truly awful, others merely nonsensical, but a good deal of them feature labyrinth symbolism I can’t ignore. The book is obviously weighing on my mind although I haven’t started it yet.

demon daemon MalphasBut I didn’t want to go in unprepared. First, I wanted to work with the daemon Malphas to build myself a place of safety and creativity in which to write. The old books magicians are supposed to care about say he can strengthen our defenses. The grimoires also depict Malphas as a giant, humanoid raven. Considering that makes Malphas look like the long lost, twin brother of my novel’s monster, I figured I could face a fear or two when I contacted him.

Few people know that ravens are our largest songbirds. Of course, their love songs sound a little like gargling rocks, but so do mine on most days. That’s why I chose to invoke Malphas with song this week. I sang his enn whenever I invited him into my circle, occasionally adding the beat of my rattle as a counterpoint.

It was difficult for me to open up that way. I know each spirit-song was meant to be a conversation between me and the Divine, but I remained keenly aware of the size of our new apartment. My family sat just down the hall every time I worked with Malphas, and I was certain they could hear me crooning and cawing away. It was nerve-wracking until the rites gained momentum. Then it was just… me and Spirit. I didn’t care who heard.

I hope that I will feel the same way throughout March. To support the work that I will be doing on the novel, I’ll be integrating sound into my life in the following ways during the #domagick challenge:

EVERY DAY – I will write my novel for one hour, without planning anything in advance, using a soundtrack I created for inspiration. I will not judge or even looking back at the work until the end of the month.

EVERY DAY – I plan to make some new art, even if all I do is photograph or draw something I love. If possible, I will listen to upbeat music while I work.

EVERY DAY – At minimum, I will sing the enns of the daemons I’m working with and run their energy through my chakras. This month I’ve chosen Salleos (for love), Ose (for self-understanding), Sitri (for a passionate life), and Crocell (to soften hard emotions).

EVERY WEDNESDAY – I am attending a sound healing class here in my city.

MARCH 10 to 12 – I am attending a workshop on the how to use the 5 Warrior Syllables.

In short, I aim to use music and sound as a method of lessening my anxiety and improving my confidence level throughout March. Whenever I feel particularly stressed, I hope to use vibration as the reset switch for my mood. If nothing else, I am learning two new sound-based techniques that I can add to my shamanic practice and Reiki repertoire.

Wish me luck. Now get out there and #domagick!

Dry lake bed labyrinth by Jennifer Bayers.

Entering a Maze of Fears #domagick

Several days ago, I asked my creative friends on Facebook which of their works defined them best. I learned something about each of them from their answers, but it was the question one asked me in return which led me to learn the most about myself. An author I admire both personally and professionally expressed a desire to read more of my work and wanted to know if I planned to write any more in the future. I can’t paraphrase what I said to her now because it wasn’t memorable. I know it wasn’t a lie. Of course, I plan to write; I just rarely get around to doing so.

I complete shopping lists, hand in reams of homework notes, and pen posts like this on a semi-regular basis. I’ve also managed to write two classes of what I’d consider a decent length over the last year.  Despite that, none of those accomplishments are what I mean when I talk about my writing. I don’t believe my friend was referring to any of those things, either. Fiction remains my first love, and I suspect it is the same with her. Why, then, am I not writing it?

I want to blame my body. I’ve been diagnosed with more conditions over the last ten years than I can count on both hands, and many of them make it difficult to sit at a keyboard for long periods. Luckily enough, there’s almost always an app for that. Technology isn’t perfect, but it has provided me with numerous workarounds for my health problems. I often ignore them—and my writing—to do other things. When my conscience gnaws at me, I’m still apt to say fibromyalgia or carpal tunnel are at fault, even though I know I shouldn’t. I’m a magician, for Pete’s sake. I understand mind over matter. I’m also damned stubborn. When a doctor once told me I’d never lose weight, I walked out of his clinic and forced myself to shed 150 pounds. I struggle to keep it off, but I know I can do it. I know I could conquer the other physical problems keeping me from writing too—if I really wanted to do so.

Part of me must want it. My family frequently asks me if I’m brooding over something due to my faraway look, and I’ll have to admit I’m writing novels in my head. When on the treadmill or out for a walk by myself, I play the same albums over and over and watch as stories unfold in time with the soundtrack thundering in my headphones. Long ago, I’d hurry back to my desk to jot these tales down, but now I don’t bother. After I get the first few lines down on paper, the words twist back on themselves like snakes. I can’t see my way through to the end of the plotlines like I once did.

I’ve always used outlines for my novels, sometimes creating them in such detail that I could have considered my rough notes my first draft. In my mind, however, that was only research: the scratching in the dirt meant to help me eventually race across the finish line. Somehow my characters still found room for improvisation, and I loved the times when they had become so real they surprised me with their actions. How could that happen when I had put so much of myself into them? After all, aren’t writers supposed to write what we know?

The last book I tried to write proved I didn’t know myself so well after all. About four years ago, I named a character after myself, using a nickname only close family members knew. I don’t know why other than the fact I felt I could edit out such lazy writing later. He wasn’t meant to be the main character, anyway. In my mind, he was a plot device meant to bring the two protagonists together. Just to make sure I’d hate him enough that he would disappear into the scenery, I gave him every one of my faults, only bigger. Yet he refused to go away.

First, he wandered from my script and then he bucked my characterization. He kept all the flaws I’d created for him and came up with a few new whoppers along the way, but I began to despise him for an entirely different reason. He made me feel. He’d become overwhelmed and I’d end up blinking back tears. He’d face something he found frightening and my stomach would knot with dread. The thing is, he hadn’t even faced the monster yet. That far into the novel, I hardly knew who or what the monster was. My outline had been a tad vague on that subject this time around. I figured the beast the characters faced at the end of the book would play second fiddle to the one in their heads. When the main characters descended into the labyrinth to confront their personal Minotaurs, I hadn’t thought this character important enough to join them, yet there I was, too afraid to keep writing his story because I’d discovered I was journeying down into myself. Without planning it, the novel had become shadow-work, and I was afraid to confront the ending. As a magician and a person, I was terrified of what I would learn and become.

I stopped writing the novel. I stopped writing everything, except for bits and blogs and shopping lists. I continued to call myself a writer. It sat badly with me, knowing how little fiction I still produced, enough so that I’ve put artist first in my description here. It must sit badly with some of the spirits I work with too, since Amaymon recently gave me a tongue lashing about only using labels I feel I deserve. He knows how I hate feeling like a poser.

I suppose that is why prayers to my patron about what I should do in March for the #domagick challenge were answered with nightmares about fighting my way to the center of a labyrinth, endlessly building a labyrinth, or scaling a labyrinth wall. When I was so coy as to ask if he meant I should work with maze-related spirits, I swear I heard my patron’s eyes roll all the way from the astral plane. Since then, all I’ve gotten from him is silence. He doesn’t enjoy speaking to the purposely obtuse. Neither did Seere last week. I know if I keep being so stupid they’ll stop talking to me altogether. It’s happened before.

They won’t tell me what to do in March—or at all. The nagging voice in the back of my head is entirely my own, and the knowledge that I must decide how to fix this mess gnaws at me. It’s why I’m so frequently out of sorts. It’s why I feel trapped all the time. I cannot blame a failing body I cannot escape, or even a series of unfortunate circumstances. I was the one that turned my back on writing, and by doing so I was the one that chained me here. With writing, I could go anywhere and do anything I wanted. The price to be paid was knowing myself a little bit better after every voyage, and it was a price I’d finally found too high.

It seems I’ve paid it anyway by not writing, only in smaller increments and with a different currency. Instead of whatever terrible secret about myself I once hoped to avoid, I have learned I was cowardly–that I am still a coward. I am no more eager to write myself to the center of that maze than I once was. Truthfully, I sometimes wonder if I am still capable of following that particular thread to my Minotaur again. Surely he awaits me in other stories, should I be brave enough to venture into them, but I realize the walls on that novel may have long crumbled. Knowing they could lie in ruins gives me little comfort. New tales could trap me just as easily.

Aren’t we all afraid of being trapped in a cycle of pain at one time or another? I worry I will start to write and get swamped with emotion again. I fear a dam will break inside me and I will not be able to hold back the flood of tears or terror that follows. Friends have said similar things to me when they have been frightened about opening up, and I have assured them such strong feelings will pass. Yet what about the damage in the meantime? I have no idea how I could handle this within the context of a thirty-day challenge.

Perhaps that is it. I can’t. I can’t put a timeline on it. I know I can turn to the spirits I work with for help, if only to ask for the courage to finally tackle this problem. I know the courage is somewhere deep within me, just like I know talking about all this is the first step towards finding a solution.

The first step towards the center of the labyrinth…

alternate sigil for the spirit seere by william briar

Spirits: Can They Take Away Our Free Will? #domagick

My brain hasn’t quit churning since the day Andrieh Vitimus announced his domagick challenge. I knew right away that I wanted to take part, but exactly how I would transform myself in March remained elusive. What spirits would I speak to in those thirty days? What realm of my life should I concentrate on, knowing I’d share my work here, on the internet?

black and white symbols used to contact the spirit seere
These are the sigils regularly used for the demon Seere. I discovered the sigil above during a meditation with her.

Unfortunately, no one could answer those questions for me, though I certainly pestered friends and family for advice. Fates bless them, they suffered me patiently enough. So did Seere, the daemon I worked with this week, when I sought her help to see the matter more clearly. I admit that the cards I turned over this week didn’t seem to make much sense at first, but I’ve frequently had trouble doing divination for myself in the past. It’s not that cards don’t read true, but that I can’t understand what they mean because I am too close to the situation at hand.

I kept asking Seere, “Do you mean I should be doing this? Or that?” I was asking for specifics, to be spoon-fed… and daemons don’t work that way, at least not in my experience.

First off, there’s the language barrier. When we ask spirits concretely worded questions, we general get Tarot card type answers in reply: images, symbols, a few keywords. Except in books, I haven’t heard of too many psychics who receive complete sentences when communicating with spirits, daemonic or otherwise. Maybe our brains are too small to catch more than a glimpse of what spirits are trying to show us, or perhaps they just don’t speak human.

More importantly, spirits have their own drives and motives. Sometimes it behooves them to be a tad reticent when doling out information. My patron is notorious for wanting me to come to conclusions on my own, and I’m beginning to suspect he’s gone to every other spirit in the universe and said, “Don’t tell that one jack shit. Make him figure it all out on his own. It’s the only way he learns.”

My favorite name for him at this point is King of the Red Herrings. Last month, during one of those rare moments of truly crystal clear communication, he suggested I could do something—if I wanted. Of course, I immediately did what I was told, thinking it was in my best interest, without even stopping to consider what my best interest actually was. Only afterward did I begin to regret the action and brood about it, wondering why he’d made me do such a thing.

Again, daemons don’t work like that. If a daemon is telling you to do anything against your own will, it isn’t a daemon talking. If anything, it’s most likely an internal need to self-sabotage. And, oh, how I love to sabotage myself! I follow paths of action on a regular basis that I know damn well aren’t good for me, usually in the hopes of receiving outside approval. I’m rarely satisfied when that approval comes, if it ever does. By then my martyrdom tastes bittersweet. I know I only have myself to blame, but I often end up subliminally resenting whoever I put myself in that position for in the first place. I’m only human, and as the video I posted above points out, humans make very little sense sometimes.

With Seere’s help, this time my hindsight was truly 20/20. I finally understood the lesson my patron had specifically set up for me and how easily I’d taken the bait. I’ve created a heap of extra work for myself by doing so too. I haven’t wrecked anything irreparable, but I definitely have to go back to square one without collecting my $200 dollars.

Strangely enough, as soon as I realized this, the confusion I’d felt concerning the #domagick challenge cleared up. I saw a pattern in the spirits I’d been considering that I missed before. I began to intuit how I could work with them to transform my writing, the area I’d wanted to work on most. I can’t say I know the entire shape of my March work yet, but that’s what the rest of February is for, isn’t it?

Hail Seere, she who helped me see clearly! And hail my patron, who keeps me on my toes! May I continue to learn from them both.

-Will