[NB] Evidentiary Ghosts II: Trash Heap and Salvation

“All things are lawful to me, not all things are expedient. All things are lawful to me, all things edify not.”—I Corinthians 10:23

Philip K. Dick noted that one of the first places that the spirit of salvation tends to manifest is in the trash heap. Some trashy bit of fiction, a cheap bit of jewelry, a character in a TV show, becomes illumined all out of proportion to their material presence and speaks to us. It’s the sort of thing that superficially seems to justify all sorts of pop culture magic experimentation, but if placed in the context of the ghost-ridden fallen world, speaks against such efforts.

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[NB] Evidentiary Ghosts

So, now for something entirely different.

Stacey and I have been talking about ghosts a bit lately, particularly the parasitic sort, and I realize that there is probably something to be said about ghosts that I haven’t said before. The family of pretenders that often first appear to us as we set out on a magical path (which we hopefully learn to distinguish from the higher powers with which our destiny entwines) do provide a useful service; they educate us about ourselves and our spiritual make-up.

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[NB] The Ghosts that Haunt Me

I have been dipping in and out of the Friedson’s exceptional Remains of Ritual. The book is a delightful fusion of philosophy, ethnography, and musicology. More than that, Friedson takes seriously the world of gorovodu, reporting seriously spiritual and magical experiences, neither sensationalizing them nor downplaying them. While the book focuses on Ghana, Friedson’s work clear applications to the Americas and the dynamics that shape religious life there parallel (with differences, of course) those in the Americas.

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A Witch’s Guide to Deconstruction

A blog post really won’t cover this, but I hope to lay out a rough set of orientations, a framework for exploration that might help orient us in the great wide world of spirit work. I don’t think deconstruction and witchcraft are such odd bedfellows, though I suspect few would agree with me. Still, consider the degree to which the sort of structuralism popularized by Claude Levi-Strauss began as an exploration of cognitive foundations of a cosmology. Those cosmologies have a deep tie to myth and rite. Derrida’s deconstruction, responding to this, is also, therefore, responding to a way of approaching myth and rite.

(Oh, and yes, I am using deconstruction to refer mostly to the Derrida-inspired variety, with its decidedly philosophical rather than literary or linguistic bent. Folks like Guyatri Spivak and Rudolph Gasche, yes. Folks like Paul De Man, not so much; though there is surely some overlap. I’m a sucker for the 1960s Derrida, so essays like “Force and Signification” and Of Grammatology loom large–those who know, will see why as I get going.)

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Glittering Antiquity

Okay, while I’m at the keyboard and thinking about consciousness and magic, I’ll gripe just a little. (And, by gripe, I do mean to imply a certain lightness to what follows–not a burning critique, just a little grousing.) Why in the world are some folks deadset on making magic and spirits something that emerges from some era untouched by the taint of modernity? I get that, yes, there are a number of cool techniques that have developed in history that got sidelined in the eager march of materialism and that some salvage operations are in order. I get, too, that some of those techniques are connected to specific sorts of spirits and so developing those techniques requires a little face time with spirits we have come to associate with a (more or less) distant past.

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