Exorcising Neo-Platonism 2: Modalities & Magical Images

In the place I use for my ritual space, there’s a closet. For the longest time, I kept it shut unless I needed to get into the closet for something. I always felt off having it open and dark when I was trying to do something else. I always had the sense that something might come out.

Well, that’s kinda the point sometimes, though, right?

I’ve noticed that ignored things become suggestive when you pay attention to them or pay attention to them in a different way (e.g., odd lighting), and some entities can take advantage of otherwise ignored spaces. Most homes have corners people don’t pay much attention to: the eye doesn’t linger there (maybe it’s kinda plain or shadowed), no one has much of a reason to do anything with it. Maybe you have doors or rooms you rarely use. What about that access hatch no one remembers how to open?

Forgotten Places

Creepy locales are creepy often because they’re new to us, unfamiliar, and abandoned or rarely visited sites have the lonely, isolated quality that magical folks have always sought out—in part, probably because spirits also gather, linger, migrate through those places. We also tend to feel weird or at least in atypical modes of consciousness in those kinds of places. And that’s before you get to spirits of place: old cemeteries are one thing, but my town has plenty of mostly abandoned, somewhat isolated industrial relics from the ‘40s through ‘70s. Many of them run alongside the train tracks—which are themselves liminal places slicing through the countryside like latter-day steampunk ley lines, dividing the Land and connecting far-flung places. I remember Warren Ellis talking about the modalities of American vs. British train horns, and there remains enough drifter mythology and isolation to make those places suggestive and home to spirits and the Dead. I remember walking to work before dawn in the dark and passing over the tracks, especially as it ran through somewhat un(der)developed territory, and there’s something—forgotten and ignored and open to spirit contact and the Weird in those places. I’m half-convinced there’s a tradition (or an imagined tradition) of railway magic that plays on those associations.

(Ahem, of course, please be mindful and careful of wandering around crossroads and suburban decay.)

Forgotten Spaces

There are places in the home like that, too.

I lived for a while in a rural shithole of a town named “Venus.” Packs of wild and feral dogs roaming the countryside. Grasslands and dirt and wind. And at the place I was living at the time, we noticed little “doors” in the more ignored parts of the house that were maybe a couple of feet tall. Of course, the doors weren’t “there” to touch, open, or anything like that. But they were still there. We tried to look beyond the door, to see what was there, and we had the impression of a warren of dark tunnels moving through the—well, darkness. We attracted unwanted attention at the time, and we saw occasionally a “gnome” or something clad in dirty scarves or rags or wraps of some kind.

Of course, we got freaked out about that.

Those ignored spaces are good places for things to hide and lurk. But sometimes, they can even “open up.” I had an out-of-the-way corner in one room (furniture and stuff making it generally inaccessible and ignorable), and while I was doing some Work, I saw a narrow, otherwise hidden passage.

Now, I will often dream of moving through passages and corridors in institutions, urban decay, etc., and sometimes they narrow down to maybe a foot wide—and that typically stops me in a dream. But those passages still presumably go somewhere. Unfortunately for me, my lucid dreaming has never been particularly consistent or useful for outsmarting such obstacles.

But here was an Otherworldly narrow passage, and here I was otherwise awake. And I had started working with Hekate after several flirtations over the years. And I had found myself thinking of Hekate of the Paths, Hekate of the Mazes—She’s also typically Hekate at the Crossroads, of course, but the Paths and Mazes stuck out to me. And during some of my early workings with Her, She would seem to come out through that narrow passage.

You see, when I looked out to see where those passages led, it was off into, well, a maze. She grabbed me by the arm once or twice and rushed with me along paths off into the Mazes until we came to a “windowed” room. At another point, two of my other allies grabbed my hands and led me off at high spirit-led speed through the Mazes until we came to a beach on a bright day.

I was also aware that others could come through the passage, but I could use it for my own journeying work. But I eventually realized that a darkened, open closet does something similar, too. I will note that I’ve had allies prodding me to open that door while Working, and I finally started doing so. And there can be something very evocative about a darkened space just next to your ritual space.

Magical Modalities

You see, I think about event boundaries—how humans seem to compartmentalize their thinking and experience, from room to room: you go into another room and forget why you were going there?[*] That’s because you physically crossed a cognitive event boundary. Well, as magical techné, I’ve pondered how your “aura” or mental, spiritual, and cognitive space can “fill” the room you’re in—unless you’re in a very large room, of course—and a closed-off room can in many ways close you off. But what happens if you have an extra space attached to that, a darkened space? Does that leave the ritual space open for your working? Can that give you a way to augment your working?

On one level, I’m talking about modalities—using our environments to “trick” us into synching or aligning with Otherworldly reality, or the Unconscious. If I think I see a narrow passage in the corner, can I play with that, use that sense to actually access or get at an actual narrow passage there?

Think of it as re-enchanting the forgotten spaces around us.

Weeping Images

I’ve noticed/have done something similar with magical images and statues. My altar/shrine space has a lovely statue of Danu and lots of images on the wall above, as well as other figures. And at times, I can imagine/notice they start moving. At first, that can be unsettling and potentially terrifying! A bit of almost pan-ic can set in. But press on that—or I have—enflame the mind and spirit with that sense that they’re moving, and the result can be rather hermetic in the sense of animated statues.

I recently read Madonnas that Maim by Michael P. Carroll after a recommendation I saw by Mallorie Vadouise, and Carroll describes accounts in Italian folk Catholicism of statues of the madonnas seemingly acting and expressing their will (curses, blessings, signs, etc.). From a magical perspective, each of those statues points to a specific BVM apparition and title—each an image or symbol of the “actual” BVM.[1] At the same time, from a less Neo-Platonist perspective, each of those statues or images is/can be an eruption of those BVMs into our world: that is, they represent local “windows” for the faithful to venerate the BVM but also are windows through which whoever is on the Otherside to come through, too. Carroll’s accounts even suggest to me that it’s not necessarily a “window” scenario (I resist calling it metaphor): they are instantiations of the BVM in question.

I can’t help but think of the Weeping Angels from Doctor Who: “That which holds the image of an Angel becomes itself an Angel.”[2] That which holds the image of the BVM itself (can) become itself a BVM. Or Cyprian. Or Loki. Or Shub-Niggurath. Or your grandmother.

Or the image in your mind of the corridor in the wall can become itself a corridor in the wall…

Featured Image: Circle Maze

[*] I have to wonder about an outdoor mind and working outdoors, but that’s rarely feasible and never practical for me these days.

[1] I’ll ignore at the moment the Magonian associations for most BVM apparitions, but…

[2] In case you were curious, I can’t stand the Angels after their original appearance in “Blink.”

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