24 October 2012

Being Ethical is Hard

This is a rant.  There will be no redeeming value in what follows.  Just go with it.

More often than not I enjoy my job.  It's stimulating enough to keep me from getting bored and I like the satisfaction of actually accomplishing something everyday.  However, there is one HUGE problem with my office - our communication culture is utter crap.  I'm part of the IT department at my firm.  I work on case management sysyem.  I don't really deal with the day to day support that the rest of the team deals with.  This gives me a rather unique perspective: not fully IT, not fully attorney. 

We have a gal in our office who submits a lot of help tickets to IT.  Really a lot.  Like 8-10 a day.  Often repeating what she asked about in a previous ticket.  Her tickets are almost always in all caps, with multiple exclamation marks.  Not once have I read a ticket from her that actually contained enough information for us to actually help her.  She raises all of our blood pressure.  We do not like her. 

Despite her inherent obnoxiousness we still have to help her.  The things she needs are actually important for the proper functioning of our business. A few weeks ago she submitted a ticket to us for something that was not actually an IT issue and we couldn't have helped her.  Did anyone actually tell her this?  No.  The ticket languished unclaimed in the system until one of my co-workers decided to just close it.  Without actually telling her that it wasn't an IT issue would she please go talk to the folks who are actually responsible for that.  Yes, she is obnoxious but if we don't tell her to change her behavior then we are partially responsible for it.  If someone (the particular person who first noticed this) had just taken the time to respond to the damned ticket when she saw it we wouldn't have gotten yelled at.  Our behavior turned something that wasn't actually our problem and made it our problem. 

Take the 30 seconds to communicate before it becomes a problem.  Why is that so fricken difficult for some people?  My urge to hex everyone involved is large.  As much as I would love to see some just desserts it would just make things more difficult.  I'm going to have to create some kind of mini-altar to communication on my desk instead.  Probably better in the long run but not nearly as satisfying. *sigh*

22 October 2012

On Demons and Demonology

This weekend I read a book called Encounter with Hell by Alexis McQuinllan.  It's a supposedly true account of a woman with some psychic ability and her encounter with a demon.  It's a very quick and rather thought-provoking read, though I'm not entirely sure if I liked it or not.  The basic gist of it is that Alexis moves to a smallish town and immediately becomes obsessed with a haunted house.  She goes there and ignores a bunch of metaphysical red flags that would have had me out of there in a heartbeat.  She goes blundering about and eventually really pisses off the demon that happened to be living in the basement.  She then fails to get proper help in dealing with the situation she's created for herself and her life becomes a living hell for a while - as it would.  This book is a worthwhile read as a cautionary tale of what never to do.  The author seems to realize this and repeatedly points out the mistakes she made, which I respect.  I certainly didn't do everything (or if I'm honest even most things) right the first time I came up against a demon, but at least I had a better idea of what I was dealing with.  If you're interested in how demons tend to actually behave this is a worthwhile read, just do not emulate the author.  If you think you've encountered a demon get help, serious help, wherever you can find it.

Reading this book really got me thinking about demons and demonology. What most people think of as demonology is based in Ceremonial Magick (see The Lesser Key of Solomon and other Goetic grimoires for more info) and Ceremonial Magick is based on Abrahamic lore.  There are lots of books and websites (like Demonicpedia) that list out all of the Goetic demons, their descriptions, habits, dominions, and places in hell.  That's all well and good if you believe in the Abrahamic cosmology - heave, hell, purgatory, and all that.  However, I don't.  Therefore, the classical view of demonology just doesn't work for me.  Yes, yes, I know that all of these cosmologies are just frameworks through which people learn to relate to things we don't understand rather than how things actually are; and yes this framework is so pervasive that it's gotten enough energy put into it to make it "real" even if things weren't that way originally.  However, I just can't work with this.  Further, it just doesn't fit with my experiences.  

I've had the misfortune of dealing with a couple of demons in my time (and I sincerely hope that I won't again).  In my experience demons are essentially distilled malevolence with independent thought and a lot of power.  Now, that picture probably has a lot to do with how I experience energy; I feel it intuitively and sometimes "see" it.  I didn't learn about energy from within an existing framework with ideas of how things should be, so I didn't immediately label particular energies (e.g. oh that energy is a pixy, that energy is an imp, that energy is Amon the seventh lord of hell).  Rather, I'd feel the energy and look at the behavior it exhibited and try to fit it with the best label I could find (this is the method behind all the identifications in my book Defense Against the Dark).  Using this method of feeling out what things are, nothing I've encountered and labelled as a demon makes me think they were any of the Goetic demons. 

In my experience demons seem to evaluate people as either prey or a threat.  If you have the misfortune of being identified as prey, well you're going to have a very bad day.  Demons are insidious bastards and will do everything they can to sour every good thing in your life without you realizing what's happening until it's too late.  They threaten, cajole, and generally manipulate the shit out of you.  If you are identified as a threat you are probably going to be attacked - hardcore.  I'm talking scratching, biting, pushing, screaming, nightmares, visions, and anything else it can think of to get you to run far, far away and never come back.  They are horrible miasmas of malevolence.  There is nothing good about them and they need to be banished back to wherever they came from or completely dispelled.  There are no other ethical options in my opinion.

Goetic demons are an entirely different thing.  They seem to be intelligent, non-human, amoral entities that can be worked with as long as the practitioner understands their natures and is cautious.  I personally believe that Goetic demons are just thought forms and that calling them demons at all is a misnomer, which is why a lot of practitioners call them daemons (after the greek intermediaries) rather than demons - totally different connotation.  

It's for this reason that I don't think traditional demonology is terribly useful in defensive situations, except psychologically.  If you encounter something horrible and decide it's a particular Goetic demon then you have a psychological advantage.  Something with a name that other people have dealt with is a lot less scary than dealing with an unnamed, unseen malevolence (think of the difference between scary movies that show you the monster verses the ones that just suggest it and leave your imagination to fill in the blanks).  In the human mind if you can name something you can have power over it.  So, using traditional demonology as a tool can be helpful, but it's just not quite accurate. 

The entities I call demons are not the same as Goetic demons and require a very different method of approach.  In my encounters with demons the best defense you can possibly have is a strong sense of self, extreme confidence, and either massive shields or a totally uncracked aura (easier said than done).  Demons can taste weakness and will exploit it to the Nth degree.  All the circles, incense, and prayer in the world won't help unless you KNOW that they will keep you safe.  All it takes is one seed of doubt for your fortifications to crack and let it in.  Demons are not to be messed with by the inexperienced - they are scary, scary bastards and can take down even the most skilled and experienced if they get caught on the wrong day. 

If you think you might encounter a demon one day be diligent in your shadow work and heal those cracks in your aura.  Every internal demon you vanquish is one less thing for an external one to prey on.  And, for the love of all that is good, get help IMMEDIATELY!

18 October 2012

Apropos of Nothing

This is my little Halloween kitty.  Cordelia will turn one year old on the 31st. 
I just love the fur between her toes!

10 October 2012

Eastwood Cemetary

A few weeks ago a friend and I were traveling through Medford, Oregon and decided to spend our evening exploring their old settlers cemetery, Eastwood Cemetery

Entrance to Eastwood Cemetery
It was just an hour or so before sunset when we arrived, the side light giving the place quite an other worldly atmosphere.  Near the entrance is a little outbuilding with information on notable people you'll find in the cemetery.  We noted that there were more than an couple notorious people, so we figured we were in for an interesting time.  We weren't wrong.

One of the oddest things we experienced was the presence of a white cat.  Yes, yes I can hear you thinking, "What on earth is so odd about a cat?" Well, you kinda had to be there.  This was a pure white cat with gold eyes that sat calmly be the entrance of the cemetery, then led me off to a corner of the graveyard where it promptly sat under a tree and just stared at me.  It didn't hiss, meow, or run away when approached.  It just sat there calmly looking through you. It set of all my spidey sense and if I had to guess I'd say it was actually a Fay taking the shape of a cat.  It's hard to describe the energy this "cat" emitted, but as someone with three cats I can safely say it wasn't normal.
An interesting feline.
It even went back to the entrance as we left to see us off.

Another odd experience happened in the back of the cemetery, a little off to the Northwest. I was wandering around, and suddenly smelled smoke.  The ground was incredibly dry, so I worried that something might have caught fire.  I looked around and didn't see anything so my next thought was that maybe I was smelling someone's grill (as this part of the cemetery was very near some houses).  I wandered around a bit trying to find the source of the smell and came to the odd realization that I only smelled the smoke when I stood directly in front of a particular tombstone.  I had my friend Rae come over and check if it was just me, but she had the same experience.  Makes me wonder if this person was a firefighter or perhaps died in a fire (or maybe was just a big pyro).  Who knows?  Gotta love phantom smells.
When I stood directly in front of this tombstone I smelled smoke.

However, undoubtedly the most disquieting experience I had started just as the sun finally sank behind the hills.

I was moving through the back of the cemetery when I began to get the distinct impression that I was unwelcome.  I heard the voice of a little girl saying, "No, no, no.  He's a bad man! A bad, bad man!"  Not the most comforting thing to hear I must say. I could feel the spirit of the little girl leave and something much darker take her place.  It felt heavy and wild.  The hair on the back of my neck stood straight up and then I felt a sharp pain on the back of my hand.  It was the first time I had ever been physically scratched by the unseen.  Now, I was not going to take any of that nonsense so I quite firmly stated that if whatever it was felt the need to do that again I would smack it into the next world.  It didn't touch me again, but I could feel that it was angry and did not like my being there. I'm not sure if it was a ghost or something darker.  I get the feeling it saw itself as some kind of guardian, so perhaps it had a good reason for wanting me out of there.

I decided it was time to head out and leave the shadows in peace.  We walked out under the mistletoe infected oaks and bid farewell to the not quite cat. 

Mistletoe growing on an oak tree.

Quite the kitty.

08 October 2012

Post PPD

A big thanks to everyone who came out and visited me last Saturday.  PPD was fantastic and I had a great time.  I got to say hello to some old friends and made a new one or two and that always makes my day.

Alas, after meeting up with so many people I seem to have caught the inevitable cold.  I've been fighting a bug for a week or two now and my weekend seems to have pushed me over the edge.  I shall now have a bowl of soup and go back to bed.

My chicken soup:
2 chicken breasts
half an onion
1 green pepper, veins and seeds removed, flesh finely minced
2 russet potatoes, peeled and minced
1 carrot, peeled and minced
1 small zucchini, cut into small chunks
about 2 quarts chicken stock
about 2 tbs minced garlic
pinch herbs de provence

Put everything but the zucchini in a big pot and bring to a boil.  Once at a boil cover and lower heat to a simmer.  Cook for about 20-30 minutes, when the chicken is fully cooked.  Once cooked remove the chicken breasts and shred.  Put the shredded chicken back in the pot and remove the half onion.  Add the zucchini to the pot and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, until the zucchini is tender.

I eat about a gallon of this stuff each time I catch cold.


05 October 2012

Pagan Pride Tomorrow!

Just a reminder folks, I'll be at the Central Puget Sound Pagan Pride celebration tomorrow at the Grey School booth.

The event is free for all and there's free parking!  So no excuses, come on down and say hello.  (Please do bring a donation of canned/shelf stable food for our local food banks!)

2501 E. D Street
Tacoma, Wa


I'll be presenting a workshop on Magickal Intent at 5pm.

Me at Eastwood Cemetery in Medford, Or last weekend.