[NB Phase I or IV-ish speculation] Hauntings and the Modalities of Spirit Contact

This is a post that has been floating around in my drafts for almost a year. I come back to it, consider posting it, consider revising it, and never quite do either. I don’t quite like the tone here, it is a little too abstract, a little too analytical, but there is something useful going on in inside it, which might provide some fodder for the summation. So, with these caveats, enjoy.

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We have been talking about hauntings around the house a bit and Stacey mentioned that she had recently seen a book note that most hauntings seem to be the response of land spirits having their land disturbed. That can be obvious disruptions, like plopping a house down on a sacred bit of land, but it can also be more subtle violations, the sort of taboos you might not know about until you thoughtlessly break them.

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[NB] Mittens, Gloves, and Bundling: Metaphor and Metonymy

I almost deleted this one, but the question of metaphor and metonymy is going to come into play in the summation phase, so I decided to post it anyway. For the heck of it, I have left in some of my revision notes (the bracketed text at the end). I was writing this one mid-December, 2016, so not so long ago.

. . .

I have been reflecting about how to talk about the nature of the work undertaken and on how often I write/talk about it through a mitten, and how to find my way to a glove. I don’t think I’m always working the mitten, that I have been closer to glove at some points rather than others, and to that end I want to list some of the writings that helped me shift how I work in the hopes of working back toward changing how I talk and write.

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[NB] Thoughts while Crossing the Great River

A powerful urge last night just to gather together all of this and take a picture, put in front of myself the trajectory of this long trajectory of writing I have been involved with. It looks a little mad, doesn’t it?

A number of notebooks of varying size and quality arrayed on a striped pink and purple bedspread.

The top row begins somewhere in 1993 and those numerous, tiny notebooks were filled in front to back, then back to front. They are crammed with thoughts, excerpts from books, quotations of people that I knew, drafts of poetry (some of it is, well, let’s say not terrible; philosophy absorbed my poetry and nowadays I tend to only use poetry as a gesture in my thinking, to tell myself to change my speed, alter my rhythm). I had one of those on me almost all the time.

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[NB] Kinship, Maternity, Gender

Ancestry and lineage are hot topics in magical circles these days, but in talking about these things we often fall into vague and romantic notions about how kinship is constituted and defined. Having talked about the very concrete connections between kinship and kalunga recently, Lucien Scubla’s Giving Life, Giving Death: Psychoanalysis, Anthropology, Philosophy has been a timely read. The way in which Scubla repositions kinship studies to emphasize the central fact of maternity (and highlight how it is often overlooked) resonates with much of my own thinking.

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[NB] 7 Husbands

Yuval Harari’s Jewish Magic before the Rise of Kabbalah includes material that clarifies the relationship between magical skulls and incantation bowls, the tight linkage between witchcraft and harlotry, the invocation of angelic spirits (‘princes’) to acquire knowledge of both a practical and theoretical sort (most especially knowledge and understanding of the Torah), and so on. As the title suggests, it focuses on the pre-medieval dimensions of the Jewish magical tradition, looking quite a bit at the rabbinic material, but it does dip into the debates that are taking place on the eve of the medieval era (most prominently those defined by Maimonides).

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[NB] Kalunga, or why we have fire in our eyes

Recently, I had the chance to attend an exciting panel of talks around the challenges of translation in the context of African diaspora religions. The panelists talked not just about the practical issues that plague every translator, the challenge of finding corresponding meanings across languages, but also the challenges of appreciating how Africans forcibly displaced from their homeland both preserved and remade the language of their religious practices in a generations long effort to translate themselves and their spiritual world into an entirely different social and ecological milieu. And of appreciating the folks who tried to speak on their behalf.

It was helpful to think with as I have this very small but dense translation enterprise that has been preoccupying me lately, that of understanding the term ‘kalunga.’ Since the term contains both a prefix and a root, that led to other related terms (lunga and -lunga derived terms, as well as others more distantly related, like -lambo/-lombo derived terms).

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[NB] Revelation and Gnosis in Context

Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation (ἀποκαλύψει; apocalypse), or by knowledge (γνώσει; gnosis), or by prophesying (προφητείᾳ), or by doctrine (διδαχῇ; didactic knowledge or instruction)?—I Corinthians 14:6

I have mentioned Revelation a bit, but I came across this more recently and realized it provides a useful model for talking about what is going on in the text and how it might meant to be received and used. I like it, too, because it helps to flesh out what the gnosis of gnosticism is supposed to be and how it relates to other forms of knowledge and communication. There is also something to be taken here about the place of knowledge derived from ecstasies and trance, which is no small thing either.

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