Now I've got some free time, how about a bit more about WtT X?

Jun 19, 2007

What a week. As the Finn once said, "There's no rest for the wicked," and that seems to be the absolute truth anymore. Between driving, running around, paperwork, getting things together, and a whole right host of other things, I've barely had any time to sit down and write a proper entry. Last night was something of an anomaly because I'd managed to free up some time and do something with it.

So let's see if I can do it again.

Lyssa and I got up at some point on Saturday morning, cold, shivering, damp in ways that H.P. Lovecraft wrote about, hungry (because we really hadn't had anything to eat before the sweat lodge the night before), and generally in a rather poor mood. If nothing else, the showers down at the bottom of the hill had warm water, with which we managed to clean off the remains of the mustiness from the humidity the night before. It was the times following that which I'd rather not write about. Suffice it to say that it took a couple of hours before the majority of the words heard at Four Quarters Farm were civil ones.

Hasufin and Mika were kind enough to make a slew of pancakes over the campfire, of which I helped myself to a half-dozen or so. Between that, a cup of coffee (which wasn't very good - my stash of ground coffee hadn't survived the humidity well at all), and a hot cup of coffee from the kitchen (and Helen's coffee bean grinder - I need to add her to my will for that touch of home!) i felt almost together enough to run a workshop and get ready for the main ritual. It was around this time that it was suggested to me by a large number of people that I run the second workshop of the day as well (the Lost Boys were still on the shelf due to the antibiotics they were taking), but I wasn't terribly comfortable doing so without any preparation or someone to bounce off of, so I decided to make it a Q&A session instead of a workshop and went in search of someone who could help me jumpstart things. I asked around a bit and discovered that Shadowmorphic (of the New York City crew) could help, and so I went in search of her.

Shadow- had been MIA all night, and no one had seen her. Just the same, I left word with a half-dozen people that I needed to talk to her about the Q&A/workshop, and that I would greatly appreciate her assistance.

Past this point, dear reader, lie many unusual things. If the unusual references make you uncomfortable, then treat them as a short story, similiar to the one I wrote early last week for "Blog Like It's the End of the World" day. Following that, I happened to chance across The Wrong Hands, a friend whom I get to see only rarely because her life is even more busy than mine is most times. Still, she's good people: We're alike in a lot of ways, we know some of the same people, and we share similiar perspectives on certain things in life. She's also a very good listener, though it would be rude of me to actually cry on her shoulder.

At any rate, we went hiking farther into the woods of Four Quarters, following a trail that was more worn slate and shale than soil at some points that ran parallel to the stream. We went past the swimming holes, past the sweat lodge (where Butterfly and I had gotten turned around the night before), and well past the semipermanant lodgings that people (I think some of the folks who live at the Farm) have assembled over the years. I mused on for a while about what had happened the night before, trying to process what I'd seen and what I'd been through. I must confess, I'm no closer to a conclusion now than I was that day, or the day after, but my life tends to work itself out like a game of Tetris: Two blocks fit together and something bigger opens up. Sometimes several of them at once.

We compared notes on a couple of things that we've noticed over the years, and found out that we're a lot more alike than I'd thought. Interesting, how that happens... if nothing else, it's nice to be blunt once in a while, and have people not mind because sometimes that's how the blocks fall.

I don't know how long we sat by the edge of the stream talking. I did a lot of breaking up dead twigs and flicking them away; some throwing of rocks into the water, too. At some point, I looked up at the sun and realized that we should probably start heading back to the main camp because things were going to start happening there at some point, including the two workshops that I was running. So we picked up, dusted ourselves off, and started the trek back to base camp, retracing our steps along the base of the hillside that would clatter once ina while as a small critter would knock a piece of shale or a fallen branch loose. I think that it was somewhere around there that we stared discussing hormone chemistry and the weird things that can happen when something's not quite right... We stopped by the Inari shrine before climbing the fence - The Wrong Hands stopped to pay her respects while I had a Harry Dresden moment.

It's never wise to get on the wrong side of shrine foxes, but then again I smell like anything but an organic lifeform: "Hi, guys, it's me, Bryce. Please don't make me into a badger or anything, I'm just passing through."

I ran into Shadowmorphic just as we hit the top of the hillside: "Hi, I'm doing a Q&A panel on eccentricity vs. mental illness in an indeterminant number of hours, and would you mind tag-teaming with me? The Lost Boys aren't here and I'm on shaky enough ground as it is."

Much to my surprise, she accepted. I found out later that the subject matter was touchy for her for reasons that I won't go into; if I'd known this I would not have asked her out of politeness, though I am profoundly grateful that she accepted my request of help.

The first workshop I did was originally supposed to be the technomagickal portion of the main ritual, namely, the theory by which orgone accumulators are supposed to work, and how they are constructed. I started off with a basic overview of the life of Wilhelm Reich, who originally came up with the idea and developed various devices that were supposed to manipulate orgone energy, which could be likened to 'life force' in many traditions. Reich was a weird sonofagun, no two ways about it, but he was also hounded and hunted, in much the same way that Kevin Mitnick was through most his black hat career, come to think of it... after the history lesson, I went into the basics of constructing orgone accumulators, and then touched on something that I was supposed to put together for the main ritual, which was a supply of orgonite, or self-contained, shock-resistent orgone accumulators.

Hey, I can drag and stretch the text entry windows of the new release of Pivot, the weblogging package that I use. Neat! Wish I'd known about this earlier... anyway:

Yes, it's strange. Scoff all you like - believe me, I do, even after having lit myself up a couple of times with stuff that's "not supposed to work." It's amazing, how many easter eggs can be found in the universe. Araxcies and I were going to use a couple of orgone accumulators to jumpstart the main ritual, but that didn't happen, and I didn't have the stuff to build a quickie 'accumulator to show everyone, though I did ask permission to dismantle parts of the stages and kitchen for components (just to see if they'd actually let me get away with it) before the workshop started. So, what the rest of the workshop amounted to was sitting around talking about orgone energy and how it relates to other practices. We really came up with some good ideas, I think: Rialian and I are going to try to brew a couple of batches of mead in an accumulator at some point to see what happens.

Immediately following that workshop was the Q&A that I'd even less preparation for, a workshop on the fine line between eccentricty and madness, or just how weird can you get before they start talking about involuntarily committing you?

Much to my surprise, this panel was heavily attended by a significant fraction of everyone at Walking the Thresholds this year. Exactly how many, I don't know because I didn't count, but I figured that the best thing to do was the counterintuitive thing: Sit down on a picnic bench, prop my feet up on one of the wooden beams that held the roof in place, and follow in the footsteps of J.R. "Bob" Dobbs: "I'm here with absolutely nothing to say today. And that's what I'd like to talk to you about..."

The Q&A didn't take much to kickstart: I outlined the basics of it and Shadow- and I bounced off of each other for a while, talking about some of our experiences, some of the people we knew, and dipped back into the waters of abnormal psychology from time to time, lest the discussion become too ungrounded (and thus too difficult to follow). It was gratifying to see the people who'd come to the panel jump in with their own experiences and observations. There are, I've come to conclude, a lot of people who live largely inside their own heads these days, though I do not have any solid hypotheses at this time to explain why. One of my suspicions is that we live in a very media-centric society in the twenty-first century: We are constantly bombarded by advertisements, news segments, video clips (have you ever seen a Youtube video make its rounds in the office), sound bites, and of course, people talking about what happened on their favorite television shows (which I confess myself guilty of, if you've ever read one of my entries about The Dresden Files).

In a nutshell, it's really hard to get any peace and quiet these days. If you're at work, there are your cow-orkers and instant messenger to deal with. At home there are neighbors and drive-by rumblings from bassmobiles. Hell, even the white noise from air conditioners gets annoying after a while. Getting wrapped up inside your own mind is one of the few ways left to get any peace and quiet. Going camping is another one. Something else that Shadowmorphic noticed is that very intelligent people are more apt to live inside their heads, and they often have interesting things going on inside of them. For example, Nikola Tesla rarely constructed any of his fantastic inventions before working out the designs inside his imagination in such detail that he could visualize each and every screw and coil of wire. There are also some other tricks that, with a lot of practice, allow one to run multiple tasks in parallel, or nearly so. It's very much like turning your math homework loose inside part of your head to finish itself, and it reports back when it's all done so you can write it down.

After the Q&A was over I had to run off and get ready for the main ritual, which basically consisted of changing my clothes (note to self: dress shirts and BDUs work well together), putting my contacts in, and shaving. After that I ran back to the tent to get a couple of things and put together for the main ritual. That actually didn't take very long, but it's the waiting after you can feel your nervous system lighting up like a Christmas tree that gets to me. I went through all of this, and I have to wait a half hour?

At some point, Araxcies went to ring the going at the edge of the stone circle-in-progress to call people up the hill from the campground. Unfortunately we didn't get nearly as many people joining in as we'd hoped, but you can't herd cats, either.

I don't remember much of the main ritual. I wasn't there, really. I had a job to do and I did it as best I could. In the process, I came pretty close to wearing myself out from the strain. By the end of the rite I was dripping with sweat and in a considerable amount of pain (which isn't unusual in my case, given the architecture of my nervous system). The other people in the inside circle got some water into me and helped prevent me from falling over. Araxcies was considerably more social than I was, and went around making sure that everyone else was all right and not in any sort of distress. I wish that I had a better head for languages: He demonstrated a technique that involved a mantra in Tibetan (Araxcies is a Buddhist, albeit an eccentric one) that I'd like to add to my bag of tricks one of these days.