‘You’re not who you think you are’

The title of this blog is one of the more provacative statements made by Carolyn Elliott in her exhillarating 2020 book Existential Kink.

Existential Kink: Unmask Your Shadow and Embrace Your Power (A method for getting what you want by getting off on what you don't) by [Carolyn Elliott]It’s tempting to respond, “Oh yeah, well then who the hell am I?”

Students of metaphysics, medicine, psychology, philsophy, and new age ideals–among others–have pondered the who am I really question for years. I don’t really feel competent to write a review of Elliott’s book here. She draws on a lot of areas, many of which we have stumbled across but never put together into a coherent system, about why we aren’t who we think we are and why our positive affirmations don’t seem to work.

One key is that we are more than our ego (in terms of ego, superego, and Id) and that the ego tends to ignore the unconscious part of the Self as though it’s either unimportant or doesn’t exist. So, from Elliott’s perspective–which agrees with Carl Jung–who we really are includes the part of ourselves we tend to deny. When we do this, the unconscious part of ourselves is actually running the show, that is to say, (in Jung’s terms) the shadow.

The answer, which appears counterinitutive, is integrating the Self rather than denying/disliking most of it. I leave that idea here as something to ponder. Jung says that the part your Self that you don’t include in your conscious approach to life will come upon you a fate. Elliott mentions that the whole Self always gets what it wants and that much of what we do in our daily lives amounts to magic we don’t realize we’re practicing.

Personally, I think I need to keep studying her book (or else).

Malcolm

My novel “The Sun Singer” is a hero’s journey book, one means of integrating the Self.

Remembering Bob (not his real name) and his thousand keys

Years ago during one of the new age tidal waves of enthusiasm for all things psychic, spiritual and otherworldly, I took a course in one of the disciplines of the day that promised to show me how to improve my psychic powers. The course did what it said it would do.

oldkeyWhile the course followed a set lesson plan everywhere in the country where it was taught, those of us in Bob’s course probably saw many phenomena and discussed many ideas that weren’t on the agenda elsewhere. Quite simply, the reason was Bob and his enthusiasm for everything that might tangentially be related to the course’s core ideas.

Bob had the kind of vision that would have made a university’s doctoral dissertation committee proud, for he was forever “surveying” the literature and finding new associations to ideas most people would have lost track of in the more obscure footnotes. The downside, however, was that if he were writing a new age doctoral dissertation, he would never finish it because the data about practices, techniques, theories and methods was, of course, open ended and could never be compiled into a definitive research paper.

Keys to Everything

chakraDuring late-night, after class discussions, Bob was forever saying “if we can just find the key, we will finally know how everything in the psychic world works.” This was, of course, what we wanted to hear. But, once again, there was a downside to this approach because it meant that every time Bob came across an ancient (yet newly discover) system/book/method, THAT was suddenly the key to the world–in his view. We went through phases on new keys and newer keys. Certain principles of Yoga became a key, followed by an in-depth study of Huna mysticism, and then some of the deep secrets being channeled by discarnate entities.

Bob’s enthusiasm led us to discover many new ideas (new to us, though often very ancient) and to consider that there are many approaches to new age techniques that, in fact, are more related to each other in substance than might initially be obvious. People talk about the same things with different words and/or enhance what they’re doing with rituals that make the object of their work appear alien when, in fact, it’s similar to something one already knows.

I don’t know if Bob ever found his master key because those of us who were the mainstay members in his courses moved away over time and lost track of each other. In some ways, Bob couldn’t stick with each new thing long enough to totally understand it or to see if it could be totally integrated into the techniques we were already practicing. Sadly, many of us started to become a little jaded about some of the new ideas Bob brought into the classroom because we knew it was a matter of time before they were proclaimed as the new key.

But what about last week’s key and the key from the week before that?

My thoughts in those days–and since–have probably traveled down many roads I never would have seen had it not been for Bob and his preoccupation with keys and the idea that something miraculous was always just around the corner. Then, as now, I believed that we create our own reality and that whatever we perceive as keys and miracles are our own creation. Bob didn’t believe that and we had many debates about whether or not he was creating clues (without consciously knowing it) and throwing them out onto the road ahead for him to find later.

While we never came to a common ground on this subject,  I’ve carried his scatter-shot enthusiasm with me for forty years because it keeps me young, open minded, and willing to look at alternative ideas. Perhaps we all need a Bob in our lives who can’t stick with anything long enough to fully know it but who serves as a catalysts for the rest of us.

Thanks for the ideas, Bob, and for showing me so many real or imagined doorways.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism, fantasy, and paranormal short stories and novels that probably came to mind one way or another because years ago, Bob said, “I’ve found the key that unlocks the world.”

Great Energy Shift? I don’t know, though we definitely need one

“As we are heading into the Age of Aquarius, new energies are encompassing our bodies and are reflected in various physiological symptoms. Within this transition of the ages, many people will begin to feel many of these energy shift symptoms on a regular basis as our bodies are adjusting and upgrading to the higher frequencies.”

– from the Esoteric Metaphysical Spiritual Database

Is there really a great spiritual energy shift coming? I have no clue. I do know what there are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of spiritual coaches, mentors, facilitators, teachers and writers spreading the word across the Internet that the shift is coming or has already begun and that they have the meditations, symbols, light language, breathing exercises, visualizations, and podcasts that will definitively place you on the right road to be part of it all.

I hope they are right.

newageThe world’s a mess now. We’re hearing this from both ends of the political spectrum, from experts at think tanks and research centers, and from mainstream and alternative religious leaders.

Perhaps there is a great spiritual transformation on the horizon. Or, perhaps there isn’t, but soon will be because it will be created by all the people passionately telling us that a great change is coming. Maybe they are creating their own self-fulfilling prophecy, assuming they aren’t really the first to know a secret the rest of us don’t accept yet.

In the 1960s and 1970s there as a new age movement with a lot of talk about the Age of Aquarius, the Silva Method, Transcendental Meditation, making love not war, and many people were convinced “this was it” in the same way others were convinced years ago that World War I was the war to end all wars. But then life went on with the same old problems and a lot of the new age faithful slowly returned to logical, mainstream lifestyles.

I often think we’re attracted to new age ideas and books like “The Secret” because we’re looking for a spiritual quick fix. I don’t necessarily think the beliefs behind the former new age movement or the current spiritual shift movement are wrong. My own beliefs are by no means mainstream. I just think it’s hard to stay the course. One goes to a spiritual retreat and returns to the real world freshly energized and with a new sense of purpose and certainty. But in the face of what the rest of the world thinks, they have trouble maintaining that high, keeping up with the visualizations and meditations, and slowly slip back into the muck of a mainstream lifestyle.

Perhaps there are more seekers now. Perhaps they have more endurance and will persevere in spite of the fact that everything they see in their workplaces, in their communities and on the news is telling them quite strongly they’re wrong.

At my age, I no longer have youth’s passion to be a preacher for any belief system, much less advertise myself on line as a spiritual coach. In fact, if I did have the energy, I wouldn’t do it because–great energy shift or not–I see beliefs as very personal and not something to be sold or taught. You’ll find some of my beliefs echoed in the beliefs of the characters in my novels. That’s the best I can do. I didn’t get the memo about a great energy shift, so I’m not going to try to convince you there is one, much less sell you a course about how to ride the whirlwind.

Truth be told, I’ve always thought that–as well-intentioned as  it may be–the missionary approach is misguided and arrogant. How can one say that his/her beliefs are better than the spiritual beliefs of another person or group? Perhaps I’m hiding behind my books. Hard to say. They are stories, though, rather than sermons.

My approach to spiritual ideas is that we all have the capability of discovering them for ourselves. I may be wrong about that, and since that’s possible, I won’t offer you a podcast or a DVD to bring you around to my way of thinking. If my novels and short stories suggest there’s something “out there” other than science, technology and doggedly earning a living, then I’m pleased. I don’t know any secrets to sell you, and that includes the real or imagined great energy shift.

–Malcolm

SarabandeCover2015Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of “Conjure Woman’s Cat,” The Sun Singer,” and “Sarabande.”

Website: http://www.conjurewomanscat.com/

 

Myth and Magic Resources and Links

While working on Conjure Woman’s Cat, Sarabande and other novels, I compiled a list of resources for others interested in writing about magic or learning more about spiritual/new age resource materials.

mythclipartThe following resources, collected from this blog’s posts, may be helpful to others studying or following the heroine’s journey, folk tales and magical pursuits. These are books and sites I found helpful as I researched my novels and short stories.

Dark Moon

Black Moon and the Black Madonna on Sophia’s Children

Goddess Meditations by Barbara Ardinger

Dragontime Magic and Mystery of Menstruation by Luisa Francia

Moon Phases Calendar

Planting by the Moon

The Moon Watcher’s Companion by Donna Henes.

Moon Watching by Dana Gerhardt

Moon Tides, Soul Passages by Maria Kay Simms

Moon Mother, Moon Daughter by Janet Lucy

Witchcraft vs. Wicca – See one view here on Hecate’s Cauldron

Death and Rebirth

Descent to the Goddess by Sylvia Brinton Perea

The Myth of the Goddess: Evolution of an Image by Anne Baring and Jules Cashford

The Pattern of Initiation in the Evolution of Human Consciousness by Peter Dawkins & Sir George Trevelyan

Inanna, queen of heaven and earth: Her stories and hymns from Sumer by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer – This book, first published in 1983, presented a long-awaited translation of the original Inanna material from the 2000 BCE cuneiform clay tablets.

Folk Magic

HOODOO IN THEORY AND PRACTICE –  An Introduction to African-American Rootwork by Catherine Yronwode – An introduction to hoodoo, including basics, spells, herbs, and related blues songs.

The Black Folder, edited by Catherine Yronwode, 2013.

Drums and Shadows, folk magic practices in the state of Georgia assembled by the WPA in the 1930s. The online overview describes the book this way: This collection of oral folklore from coastal Georgia was assembled during the 1930s as part of a WPA writers’ program, under the supervision of Mary Granger. The accounts in this book, framed by colorful descriptions of the rural locales where they were collected, were principally from elderly African-Americans, some of them centarians. Most had been slaves. In some cases they had known first generation slaves who had been born in Africa.

Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic, by Catherine Yronwode, 2002.

“Remembering Hoyt’s Cologne,” Malcolm’s Round Table

The Sanctified Church, by Zora Neale Hurston, 1981.

SOUTHERN SPIRITS: Ghostly Voices from Dixie Land – Web site features reference materials from the South during the slavery years about conjure and hoodoo.

Mojo Workin’: The Old African American Hoodoo System by Katrina Hazzard-Donald, University of Illinois Press; 1st Edition edition (December 17, 2012)

Conjured Cardea: Full-Service Botanica and Rootwork Services – supplies, services, blog

Heroine’s Journey

The Heroine’s Journey by Maureen Murdock

From Girl to Goddess: The Heroine’s Journey through Myth and Legend by Valerie Estelle Frankel (See the July 2011 “Mythprint” review of this book here.) Frankel’s website includes a lengthy heroine’s journey reading list.

Sarabande contemporary fantasy by Malcolm R. Campbell released by Thomas-Jacob Publishing in a new second edition November 20151.

“The Way of Woman: Awakening the Perennial Feminine” by Helen M. Luke

Apple Farm Community – The Writings of Helen M. Luke

Real Women, Real Wisdom: A Journey into the Feminine Soul by Maureen Hovenkotter  (See a review here.)

The Heroine’s Coach, the website for Susanna Liller’s journey-oriented coaching services. The site includes an e-mail newsletter for women following their own paths called “Journey News.”

The Heroine’s Journey appears on author Leslie Zehr’s Universal Dancer website and includes a discussion of Sylvia Brinton Perera’s Descent to the Goddess, a book I found essential for my understanding of the journey. Zehr is the author of The Alchemy of Dance: Sacred Dance as a Path to the Universal Dancer.

Light of Nature

Light of Nature Website, exploring the science and the philosophy of the concept.

“The Female Brain” by Louann Brizendine

“The Spell of the Sensuous” by David Abram

Messages from Mother – Author Mare Cromwell’s website.

Heroine Literature

The Heroine’s Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder by Erin Blakemore

Fearless Girls, Wise Women & Beloved Sisters: Heroines in Folktales from Around the World by Kathleen Ragan

The Heroine in Western Literature: The Archetype and Her Reemergence in Modern Prose by Meredith A. Powers

The Art of Fiction: Illustrated from Classic and Modern Texts by David Lodge

Mythic Archetypes

Goddesses in Everywoman: Powerful Archetypes for Women by Jean Shinoda Bolen

Patriarchy

The Dance of the Dissident Daughter by Sue Monk Kidd

Unplugging the Patriarchy – A Mystical Journey into the Heart of a New Age by Lucia René

Reviving Ophelia by Mary Pipher

Ophelia Speaks: Adolescent Girls Write about Their Search for Self by Sara Shandler

Surviving Ophelia: Mothers Share Their Wisdom in Navigating the Tumultuous Teenage Years by Cheryl Dellasega

Story Within

And Now The Story Lives Inside You, poems by Elizabeth Reninger

The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram

Alchemical Studies by C. G. Jung

Harry Potter – A New World Mythology? By Lynne Milum

“Dark Wood to White Rose: Journey and Transformation in Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’” by Helen M. Luke

“The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling” by James Hillman

Tarot

LaVielle’s Book Jacket Blog

Raven’s Tarot Site

Writer’s Muse

The Sister from Below: When the Muse Gets Her Way by Naomi Ruth Lowinsky

Marry Your Muse: Making a Lasting Commitment to Your Creativity by Jan Phillips

The Voice of the Muse: Answering the Call to Write by Mark David Gerson.

20 Master Plots: an How to Build Them, by Ronald Tobias

The Hero’s Journey: A Guide to Literature and Life by Reg Harris and Susan Thompson (This is a series of lesson plans for teaching the hero’s journey in a classroom setting.)

Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, and Related Stories

Myth & Moor – Terri Windling’s blog

Marina Warner Website – Writer of fiction, criticism and history with a strong focus on fairy tales.

The Endicott Studio – “The Endicott Studio, founded in 1987, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to literary, visual, and performance arts inspired by myth, folklore, fairy tales, and the oral storytelling tradition.”

“The Irresistible Fairy Tale: The Cultural and Social History of a Genre,” by Jack Zipes. A wonderful study of the genre available in paperback and Kindle.

Fairy tales and Literature – An online bibliography from author and professor Theodora Goss. Great introduction of resource material.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism, contemporary fantasy, and paranormal stories and novels.