The Digital Spellcast

 

While I was at the Urban Mystery Skool I had the pleasure of performing a piece I created called Digital Spellcast. Listed below is a brief history of its creation.

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Acid Orphan and me performing Digital Spellcast at De-Construkt

At the beginning of the winter of 2014 something tragic occurred in my life. I separated from my husband of 5 years. The emotional trauma that hit me was so intense it launched me into a manic episode of epic proportions.

I had a work friend named Andrea (a rapper, who performs under the moniker Acid Orphan). She and I existed parallel to one another, with an amicable yet not particularly intimate relationship. One night we had to stay at our jobs until the wee hours of the morning for store inventory. As we were wrapping up, I was discussing astrology with the group. Andrea (a Virgo) made a skeptical comment about the topic of astrology. To that I replied (rather impishly), “that is such a Virgo thing to say.”

My comment angered her so much that I launched her into a manic episode of her own, causing her to trudge through the Philadelphia snow barefoot and take a $100+ dollar cab ride to her parents’ place in West Chester. While at her parents’ she began writing a short story that is really one of her finest pieces to date. It involved a deep analysis of the inner workings of society with a classification system for different personality types (we’re all either Emperors/Empresses/Emperxs, Oracles or Maniacs–but that’s another story for a different time). She realized she wouldn’t have written such a story had I not provoked her, and so she gave me a phone call which would forever change our lives.

We spoke feverishly about the cosmic plane and how the world worked. Suddenly life made so much sense to us and we felt this immense connection with one another. It’s difficult to explain outside of the throes of mania, but I think you get the picture. We called what we shared between us the Mega-Brain. This is the moment when our fates became intertwined. It was the moment our parallel lines intersected.

Once she left West Chester she came to my empty house in Fishtown where we began a month-long sleepover that would eventually evolve into another performance piece/immersive art experience we called the Cosmic Treehouse. During the first days of the forever sleepover Andrea and I shared many ideas, hardly sleeping at all. Keyed up, we wrote down every idea that occurred to us on pages and pages of computer paper with a red Santa marker. We compiled these pages into a book we call the Maniac Bible.

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Some pages of The Maniac Bible

Naturally, compiling this list of ideas was very important to us, and within our manic logic it took precedence over going into work. One night (perhaps the first night?) we were texting everyone we knew, desperately trying to get our shifts covered to no avail.

I had been studying the principles of magic and spellcasting prior to this mania, and Andrea and I had been fervently discussing the intersection between magic and technology. It was then that we concluded that a text message is not unlike a spell. Think about it: you write an intention down on a tablet (in this case, your phone) and you send it out into the ether with the expectation that it will garner the results you desire.

I came to this realization; if a text message is a spell and technology is really just a form of magic, then we can harness that energy (or at least try) in order to get our shifts covered, right? So in that moment I came up with the following process:

  • Find a spellcasting partner (in this case, it was Andrea)
  • Write your intentions down on a piece of paper
  • Both of you take a screenshot of the spell
  • Take the spell outside and burn it, distributing its ashes into the air
  • Go back inside, sit down and send one another the screenshot you’ve just taken
  • Take a screenshot of your conversation, send one another the screenshot
  • Take another screenshot of your conversation, send one another that screenshot
  • Continue this process until the images begin to look like little pieces of ash
  • Your spellcast is complete, sit back and wait for the results to come in
  • Try to distract yourself
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Analog spell being burnt

I should probably mention that this was during a full moon super moon. That’s sort of a side note, but kind of relevant to the story.

We went through this process and then went back into my living room to continue our prior conversation. Just as we began to forget we had even done the spell, we received a text message from three different coworkers at 3:33 am! All of them were offering to cover our shifts. Three had become a very important number to us, without any knowledge of its magical importance. We screamed our heads off, angering my tight ass neighbors. The spell had worked! We have performed many spellcasts since and they’ve always garnered positive results, and this is how the Digital Spellcast came to be.

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Digital ashes

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The High Priestess

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A doodle I did of the High Priestess

 

During my time at the Urban Mystery Skool, I was fortunate enough to take a class with the wonderful Ashni called Demystifying Divination. I am a tarot reader myself so naturally, most of the divination portion of our class focused on developing greater intuition when it comes to reading the cards.

Upon our first meeting (we went to the Cloisters), she asked me about my birth card and whether or not there was a card in particular I felt some sort of connection to. They both happen to be the same card: The High Priestess. She’s very special to me. I couldn’t quite articulate my compulsion toward her then and I still can’t now, but you know what? Part of the High Priestess is about developing a comfortable relationship with the unknown. However, I’m getting ahead of myself…

Ashni asked me to focus on the High Priestess during the upcoming weeks. I was to meditate upon the card, think about her as a personality and emulate the way she would dress were she a live person. I even went so far as to sleep with the card under my pillow until I crumpled it by accident, and then I put it on my nightstand.

I began having the wildest, most vivid dreams. I found myself being a lot more quiet. I found myself observing and taking in much more detail than I had before. The world began to burn a little brighter.

Upon thinking about the way she would dress, I realized I did not have the right wardrobe and if I were to acquire a lot of swishy garments and layers and dress in dark colors (like I imagine she would), the July heat was not exactly in my favor. Most days I opted for shorts and a t-shirt out of the need for survival.

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A special charm given to me by a man named Buck

 

I did feel drawn to a piece of jewelry I own that I think aligns with her in many ways. It’s a charm that was gifted to me by a man I barely know named Buck. It’s a clear stone that’s inset with a black background and three golden symbols: a cross, the Star of David and a crescent moon. These three come together to represent the Abrahamic religions. I am not trying to make a commentary on any religion, nor am I trying to exclude other religions in this dialogue. What I am trying to say is that I felt this charm was something the High Priestess may adorn herself with. In fact, if you look at the High Priestess in the classic Rider-Waite deck, you’ll see that she holds the Torah with a crescent moon at her feet and a cross on her chest.

 

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The High Priestess in the Rider-Waite deck

 

Now what does this all mean? Well, I don’t think the High Priestess excludes other religions any more than I do. What I do think is that having these three religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) represented in one place speaks to wisdom and understanding. Now, the moon and cross in the High Priestess card don’t traditionally represent Christianity and Islam (like they obviously do in the pendant), but the beauty about reading Tarot intuitively is that the symbols are ascribed whatever meaning you see in them! Also what a weird coincidence, no?

Wisdom and understanding! Those aren’t the only things the High Priestess represents, but for the sake of the length of this blog post, let’s focus on those two things. I did the same thing in my exploration of her this summer at the Urban Mystery Skool. I had to narrow things down, because she has a lot of meaning to unpack, and wisdom and understanding alone can mean so many different things.

I began to focus on what wisdom means. I felt if I figured this out then I could nail understanding because one can’t really exist without the other. I thought about this long and hard. What is wisdom? I meditated upon it and wrote about it in my journal. Obviously wisdom can mean so many things but what does it mean in the context of the High Priestess? I didn’t really find a definition that satisfied me.

Speaking of coincidences, my entire experience this July with Ultracultural Others was filled with synchronicities. As I was pondering all of this, we had our new moon wellness ritual, Dream Beat. It was wonderful, and I can go on about that forever. However as we sat in a circle, UNDAKOVA asked the most synchronistic question of all: “What does wisdom mean to you?”

I realized that was what I had been doing wrong. It’s why I hadn’t come up with a satisfactory answer for the meaning of wisdom. I wasn’t supposed to be thinking about the academic definition of wisdom, I had to think about what wisdom meant to me. The tarot, after all, is about self-reflection.

I gave myself a moment to think about it, and that’s when I came up with my answer. Wisdom means sitting back and observing. It means gaining understanding of what’s around you, of what’s happening to you. It means taking a step backward and really paying attention. Most importantly, it’s about learning from what we see. That, to me, is wisdom and that is what the High Priestess taught me.

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Me, holding the High Priestess card from the Herbal Tarot deck