15 April 2013


Wow.  You know how yesterday I went on at length about being compassionate and almost never cursing people.  This.  This is something that warranted being hexed until you rot alive.

I went to undergrad just outside Boston.  Every year I looked forward to Marathon Monday.  You see, Wellesley is the halfway point for the Boston Marathon.  There are no classes on Marathon Monday, instead we have a carnival.  For me the Boston Marathon was about getting my fried dough and screaming my head off for all the runners.  They call it the Wellesley Scream Tunnel.  WZLY sets up outside Munger Hall and plays music while Black Bart watches over all with a benevolent eye and volunteers hand out water and orange slices.  One year I got to watch the marathon from the roof of Pomeroy alley (I had a tower room whose window opened out onto the roof).  I loved every moment of it.

That someone would try to turn a celebration of human achievement and perseverance and turn it into a horror show sickens me.  This.  This is something awful enough to warrant a hex.

14 April 2013

Shadow Magick and Compassion

I've been doing shadow work for so long, I sometimes forget how ooky it can seem from the outside.  Yes, shadow work is dark, difficult, and sometimes scary.  And yes, the magick that derives from all that work is potent, sharp, and has the potential to break things.  But the darkness isn't the point.  The ooky spooky scary bits are there because if you want something special you have to earn it.  The ookiness is a means to an end, not the end in and of itself.  Shadow magick isn't about being angry and dark and wanting to hurt yourself or others - and if you approach it from that point of view you will either change in a hurry or deal with the consequences.  For the Shadow to work for you, your intent actually has to come from a place of compassion.

It's easy to hurl your anger into the darkness; but shadow work isn't easy.  Real shadow work is about facing the darkness and having compassion for it.  It's about coming face to face with your flaws, with your fears, and both forgiving yourself for your weakness and forgiving the world for allowing the thing you fear to exist.  It's not about conquering your fears; it's about learning to live with them.  Shadow work is about seeing yourself and the world around you clearly, warts and all, and learning to accept that truth.  The only way I've found to accomplish that without going completely mad is to learn to have real compassion. 

When I tell people that I'm a "black witch" or a "shadow worker," they will usually either say "what does that mean" or they will completely freak out.  The freak out is rare and it always surprises me a little.  You see, I don't tell just anyone that I'm a shadow worker - people whose only exposure to the spooky is television will inevitably react uncomfortably - I generally only tell other practitioners and I generally expect other practitioners to be able to look at my aura and realize that I'm not evil.  Sadly, that's not always the case.  There are always those folks who were taught that anything outside their particular brand of magick is evil (anyone who calls themselves a white witch will always react badly to someone who calls themselves a black witch, regardless of what either one means by those terms), and they do not tend to like me very much.  It's always a little disheartening to see that kind of knee-jerk prejudice in my own community.  I expect an abrahamic fundamentalist to object to what I do, I don't expect it from my own people.  It always makes me sad when people who should know better never bother too look beneath the label to find out what shadow workers actually do.  Maybe it bother me because my own reaction to something I fear is to find out all I can about it (this almost always alleviates me fears), so I have trouble understanding why other people don't do the same.

You see, people who are afraid of shadow workers are actually quite ridiculous.  It's almost impossible to become adept at shadow work without developing a deep rooted sense of compassion and understanding.  An adept has to learn to look at their own flaws every day without melting into a useless heap on the floor (this can be rather difficult), and one of the side effects of this skill is the ability to see those same flaws in others.  And let me tell you, it's really difficult not to feel at least some compassion for someone (regardless of how awful their behavior) when you see that their doing it because they have the same damned flaws you've got, that they just haven't dealt with yet.  It's hard to sustain anger with someone who you can see only lashed out because they don't know how to handle their own pain or fear.  This doesn't mean shadow workers all turn into Mother Theresa - hell no - but it does mean that our knee-jerk reactions aren't terribly violent and don't usually last very long.  The only "curse" a shadow worker is likely to lob at another person is one to make them see themselves more clearly and to develop a better understanding of what their doing - nothing more than what we voluntarily do to ourselves every day. 

Sure, the process of becoming an adept at shadow magick is difficult and often painful, but that doesn't make us bastards or masochists or anything else.  All it makes us is honest people who don't lie to themselves.  To be afraid of us just means you're afraid of yourself and we remind you of what you aren't willing to do.  Fear is a natural and healthy thing, just point it in the right direction.

06 April 2013

Portland Beyond Bizarre Ghost Tour

Last weekend I headed down to Portland for the uber-fabulous annual Vampire Ball.  My friend and I decided to go down Friday night and enjoy a little more of Portland.  Our favorite way to learn about a new city?  Take a ghost tour of course!  There's no better way to get a quick and entertaining bit of history and culture than a good ghost tour.  We had heard about the Beyond Bizarre Ghost Tour and decided to give it a go.

 The tour began at Old Town Pizza with a discussion of the "Shanghai Tunnels."  If you've ever seen any of the paranormal shows that go to Portland they're always going on about the Shanghai Tunnels.  The story is that the basements of Portland were interconnected so drunkards could be abducted and made to work on ships in the Pacific.  This story makes for great dramatizations, so it's what the tv shows go with.  In truth, the tunnels were made to deal with the periodic flooding of the Willamette River (that bisects the town).  They've been almost completely sealed off since the 70s and now the "tunnels" are about 3-5 foot long cubbies.  Not so spooky.  I appreciate that this was the kind of tour to actually make that sort of clarification rather than going for the easy scare.

Still in the basement of Old Town Pizza, we were all given K2 emf meters and invited into a very dark, earthen floored area.  There was a nice circle of chair for us to sit in as the guide told us stories of happenings in the basement.  I don't remember the stories too well because I was kind of entranced by my friend Rae's K2.  Most people's meters were dead steady with two lights showing - which is normal.  Rae's, however, was pulsing from nothing to three bubbles, up and down, slowly - not so normal.  Rae also felt a cold spot where her meter was.  When I put my meter near hers it would pulse the same way.  The strange part was that once Rae got up, the spot was completely normal again.  So something down there liked her.
From there we went exploring through Chinatown and came across several old nightclubs that are supposed to be haunted by former owners, patrons, and folks who died there.  In the location above (the Roseland I believe) the spirit of a former employee is said to haunt the upper floors.  He was supposedly murdered by his boss when he tried to extort his boss for drug money.  Not the smartest move apparently.

From there we moved to a nicer part of town and went into the fabulous Benson hotel.  This hotel is supposedly haunted by the ghost of several suicides that happened there.  It's said that if you look into the big mirror on the main stairs you might see people or objects in the reflection that won't be there when you turn around.  I didn't notice anything all that unusual, but I'll admit that I didn't look too carefully because mirrors, in general, creep me out - to easily turned into portals for my taste.  We sat up in a little lounge area overlooking the main hall as the guide told us the extremely creepy story of a woman stuck in a telephone switch office with a ghost (the office in question being about five feet from where we sat).  It was creepy.
From there we went over to the old Portland police station, that is now mostly vacant but for one small law office.  This was an extremely creepy place.  Just standing next to the building you could tell that some very nasty things had gone down in there.  Tales of police corruption, crime bosses, and murdered stool pigeons just made it worse.  Although the building itself wasn't as odd as the parking lot just across the street.  In that parking lot I got the very odd sensation that energy of the place was hungry, and I could actually feel it sucking at my legs, drawing my energy down into it.  Needless to say I didn't feel terribly comfortable and didn't want to linger.  Apparently this was the only parking lot in all of Portland where you were guaranteed not to see a homeless person camping out for the night.  I believe it.

From there we went back into the more lively bar district and passed by the original Voodoo Doughnuts location.  Since our guide had a deal with Voodoo we all got a free doughnut without waiting in the gargantuan line.  Hooray for shortcuts :)  There was an interesting haunted theater/strip joint next to Voodoo so we heard our next tale of vice and tragedy while dodging drunks on sugar highs.  The added color actually enhanced the experience.
The next spot we talked about was the Portland Kells.  Now I didn't realize that Kells was a chain - there's also a Kells in Seattle that is also haunted.  The Portland Kells has haunted bathrooms (so haunted that the staff are trained to deal with freaked out patrons) and the Seattle Kells is just all haunted (former mortuary, oh yeah).  So this was quite an interesting site.

Towards the end of the tour we talked about an old saloon and the Oregon Leather Company.  Apparently several of the businesses in the area have reported seeing a large, hairy creature lurking in their basements.  Sasquatch or a really gnarly shadow person?  The world may never know.

All in all it was a very fun tour and I highly recommend it.  So next time you're in Portland, take the late night Beyond Bizarre Ghost Tour.