Here There Be Flying Elephants (Ask Me How!)

I came up with the following mojo bag several years ago, as part of a homework assignment for an online course some friends and I were taking. I was not sober at the time, but believed I could quit drinking through Witchraft alone — so I lit candles and worked rituals, and, in one particularly epic moment, I smashed a bottle of bourbon at the crossroads. I made it about three weeks before I caved and had what was supposed to be one glass of wine, which turned into multiple glasses, which turned into sloppy drunken escapades until 2012.

What I learned from those experiences is that willpower, even when backed up by formidable training in the Dark Arts, is not enough to keep me sober. First off, I had to actually want to quit drinking (which I didn’t: I just wanted the consequences that were the door prizes of my drinking to stop). Next, I had to actually ask for help, which meant relying not only on the Gods I venerate, but on other recovering alcoholics — which is effing hard, especially for a Olympic-level isolator such as moi.

But I eventually gave up and did just that, and I’ve managed to stay sober ever since. I hung onto that assignment, though, and tweaked the recipe a couple of times. It’s a solid piece of spellcraft, and more than just a folk-magic version of Dumbo’s feather, which totally reminds me of a conversation between myself and my ex-partner:

Him: “What’s that thing hanging by the front door?”

Me: “It’s a protection against thieves and lightning strikes.”

Him: “Um, you’re joking, right?”

Me: “Hey, we haven’t been struck by lightning.”

Him: “…”

The point I’m trying to make is that the talisman described below won’t work on it’s own — it only acts as a bolster, a physical manifestation of the recovering alcoholic’s commitment to remain sober. But strength can be drawn from it. Plus it smells nice. So there’s that.

Anyway, with all that said, I humbly present…

An Herbal Charm to Encourage and Support Continued Sobriety
To be assembled on or just after one’s sobriety date
(or, if preferred, on the first New Moon after your sobriety date)

On a small piece of paper, write your name 12 times. Turn the paper 90 degrees clockwise, then write your intent across your name 12 times (i.e. “Stay Sober,” “Another Year Sober,” “Keep Coming Back,” etc.).

Prepare a small blue cloth bag by smoking the inside with an incense appropriate to your Gods or Higher Power(s). (Sandalwood is a good all-purpose incense.)

Place a piece of amethyst or your desire chip in the bag, and then add the following herbs:

Eucalyptus – to remove evil.
Hyssop – to end crossings.
Althea – for serenity.
Yarrow – for courage.
Solomon’s Seal or Sage – for wisdom.

Fold your name paper in half towards you, then rotate the paper 90 degrees clockwise and fold again; keep turning and folding until the paper will no longer fold. Slide this packet into the bag and tie off with white or orange thread. Anoint the bag on both sides with an oil sacred to one or more of your Higher Powers, then sprinkle it with salt water and pass it through the incense, while invoking your God or Gods via the Serenity Prayer (changing “God” to “Gods” or the specific name of a Deity or Deities, as you see fit).

Keep the finished charm on your person as often as possible, sleep with it under your pillow, and/or place it on your altar or workspace where it will be consistently visible to you. Renew the charm around the same time every year.

I Am My Own Worst Mogwai

[A text conversation between myself and Cross.]

Me: “I had a dream last night that you and I were sitting around bored and trying to think of something to do, which I’m taking as a sign that we should go do something.”

Cross: “Dance naked around a fire?”

Me: “Again?”

Kidding aside, I left out the part of the dream in which two dragons — the stronger one being part polar bear and able to shoot ice from the sarlacc at the end of its tail — broke into Cross’ house and started beating the shit out of each other. It wasn’t particularly relevant to the discussion, and it kind of lends itself to more pointed interpretation than is necessary.

Also, while dancing naked is underappreciated as a national pastime, I really just wanted to rent a movie and order Chinese food, and I feel like telling Cross about the dragon thing might discourage him from letting me eat after midnight.

Is this my most inane post to date? I vote probably.

The Amazing Appropriated Race

Over the past week, I’ve grown angrier and angrier about Rachel Dolezal pretending to be black. At some point I realized I was taking the whole thing personally, which is weird, because a) I’m not black, and b) I was never in the running to be president of the Spokane chapter of the NAACP. So, y’know, it’s not like she robbed me of the title.

But then I thought about it some more, and eventually a light bulb fizzled on, and I was all, “OH, right. Phantom penis.” And I finally understood why I was so pissed off.

I should probably explain that last part.

Several years ago, a buddy and I decided to start a social group for gay male Pagans in the Houston area. We wanted to gauge interest before planning anything, so we posted a message in a local Yahoo! group (remember those?) to see if there were any other gay dudes around who might want to participate. A couple did, which was nifty, but the majority of responses we received were divided between heterosexual men accusing us of being exclusionary, and heterosexual women calling themselves “hag fags” [Ed. note: They meant “fag hags,” which, hi, is almost but not quite as offensive] who announced that they would be joining us, regardless of whether or not we wanted them there.

My favorite response, though, came from a cisgendered woman — let’s call her Viola — who informed us that she qualified for membership because she was a gay man trapped in a woman’s body. We did our best to explain that, no, that did not actually make her a gay man, and Viola replied (I swear to the Gods I’m not making this up) that she had an invisible, “phantom limb” penis that got her into all sorts of trouble. Because you know how gay men are. Thinking with their dicks or whatever. Like she does. On the inside.

And on that note, allow me to relate a true story of a gay man trapped in a woman’s body.

Back in college, my friend Kathleen sat a few of us down and let us know that she was transgendered and would be transitioning to male. In return, we let her know that we’d already figured that out, on account of her unusually large collection of books on gender reassignment, and the fact that she’d been living as a man for about a year and a half. So Kathleen became Georges, and then he fell in love with a cisgendered gay man, and they’ve been together ever since. And the rest of us were all, “We’re confused, but you’re happy, so it’s all good.”

To review…

Georges: “I was born physically female, but I am actually male, and I went through several costly and painful surgeries in order to be true to myself and comfortable in my own skin.”

Viola: “I am capitalizing on my hetero privilege to violate other people’s safe space.”

A subtle difference, but a difference nonetheless.

So anyway, yeah, that’s why I’m all discombobulated over Dolezal.

I get having an identity discordant with one’s anatomical and/or biological makeup. Really, I do, if only because I know way too many Furries — selfhood is polymorphic, The End. But if owning that identify means contributing to the marginalization of the community to which you claim to belong, then honestly, you’re a whole lot more part of the dominant culture than you’d like everyone else to believe.