Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A New Start on an Old Road

“Anybody who’d prefer to think I’m hallucinating is welcome to work along that line, but don’t tell me about it; I’m not interested.” – “Through All Your Houses Wandering,” by Ted Reynolds


I called this blog Dark Dimension because it was always meant to cover almost any topic that is generally thought of as associated with the night; not “dark” in a sinister sense, necessarily, but “dark” as in the things we discuss quietly at night with friends. The Dark Dimension is also the depths of our own psyche, our subconscious, the things that inflict those “dark nights of the soul” upon us, when mortality preys upon the mind at 3 AM and marches in from the corners, a looming, surrounding shadow in an already darkened room. But it is also secret hopes, dreams we hold within that shine like lights in a distant window, helping to guide us home. These things and more, the things kept hidden away, make up the Dark Dimension. The occult is the very definition of this.

I admit that I hesitated to even approach this topic, or, more accurately, this spectrum of topics. I’m not one to broadcast to the world my spiritual beliefs. It’s too personal a topic, too easily exploited as a source of ridicule. I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to avoid looking like a fool, too concerned with what others might think. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve gradually come to see that isn’t the way to live. Even now, though, writing this, I still feel a bit like Linus at Halloween:

I've been struggling with the direction of Dark Dimension for a while, and finally decided to just open up and write about whatever compels me. It comes as a result of a restless search for...something...personal truth I suppose you could call it. In years past, when this urge, this compulsion, was upon me, I’d turn to books. I still do, but the internet now is a vast resource for any such contemplation. The thoughts and opinions of much of the world can now be easily heard and ruminated upon, with like minds finding one another across vast distances without the necessity of a gatekeeper. It's a fragmentation in one respect, but the beginning of a wider spectrum of beliefs to choose from in another. As my pal Bryan McMillan over at Dog Star Omnibus put it:

I think there's a lot to what you say about the internet tearing off the lid on so many topics/ avenues of research. It's a crude (though not so crude) version of global telepathy/ global dreaming.”

Yes, exactly – global dreaming and a de facto telepathy. Now our thoughts and dreams can instantly wing across the electronic firmament, finding and touching others, inspiring and being inspired in turn. This is where our society, our species, begins to show its true strength and potential: the individual is allowed to share wisdom to the vast whole at once. It is no longer a gradual, generational dissemination, but a weekly one, a daily one, an hourly one.


The Rise of the Kitchen Witch

First, I know what a kitchen witch is. It was the first term that leaped to mind when the concept occurred to me, and I’m sticking with it. It isn’t meant to belittle those of whom I write; it is meant to evoke the same basic idea writ large: a warm, benevolent, protective presence that is welcomed into one’s home.

Delving into YouTube looking for insight, after a while I began to gravitate towards the astrologers. I’d always had an interest in the subject, and had read about it a good bit, but never to any great extent – the books I most remember from early on were annual overviews for each sign and Linda Goodman’s sweetly loopy Love Signs, all of which were stocked, oddly enough, on the same racks as the comic books at the Open Pantry convenience store at the end of the street. Here, though, was an opportunity to get more depth from the subject, and a human touch, as it could be assumed that those willing to stake a claim on a bit of YouTube real estate for such a purpose would not do so too lightly. After all, it takes a certain courage to put oneself out there for the world to see, but to do so while also espousing a belief system that too often takes knocks from those overly concerned with societal norms? That takes real guts and commitment.

Let me address something here: our society is quick to scorn and dismiss those things traditionally thought of as “feminine” in nature – music, art, the sharing of feelings, the occult. Since these things cannot be quantified or experimented upon or reproduced reliably in a laboratory setting, they cannot be worthwhile – or so the established culture says. Yet we seem to forget we are not at the apex of human knowledge or achievement, that there are discoveries left to make that might reveal energy sources or influences completely unknown today. Imagine trying to explain, or even conceive of, radio waves in the 10th century. Now imagine that we will seem as benighted as those denizens of the 10th century in a millennium. So the prejudices against that which cannot be quantified with today’s scientific knowledge have much to do with cultural myopia rather than actual, objective, measurable proof of non-existence. The internet has allowed these societal barriers to be, if not broken down, at least circumvented. The balance between the masculine and the feminine is thus allowed a way to begin to right itself, to finally, and more than a bit ironically, take the emphasis off just the one side of the equation, the strictly rational, hard science side, by way of technology.

I want to be clear about something. I’m the first to insist on the use of Occam’s Razor and the scientific method when extraordinary claims are made. In this, though, I will freely admit that I can offer no empirical evidence, no data, to bolster what I believe and give it the force of fact. Every example I would give as to why I put stock into anything I discuss here could be explained away by someone else as coincidence or me trying to make the facts fit my theory, or rationalizing how something can be interpreted. I get all that. Hell, I’ve done it myself when hearing similar assertions. All I can say now is that my gut tells me this is the way it is. I’ve seen too many sincere folk assert what they believe and why, and have personally witnessed enough manifestations of astrological principles to deny it to myself. And if that’s not good enough for you, well, as the Dude would say:

So who are the kitchen witches (remember them)? They are astrologers and tarot readers, mostly – but not all – women (in my experience, at least), many of whom seem to be recording their videos at home, judging by the fussy babies and barking dogs and howling computer fans and traffic and generally homey surroundings most of them have. They dispense insight and advice, both in their videos and in the comments sections of those videos (another brave move, given the noxious nature of many YouTube comments sections). The common denominator among them is that they’re real people, not the polished media professionals we’re accustomed to from mainstream media.

After viewing a spectrum of such people, one in particular came to exemplify to me the kitchen witch, the oracle-next-door: Larisa Ozolins. 

With Larisa, there is a rough smoothness, an unpretentious but confident delivery; there is a twinkle in her eye when she says something she finds silly, a laugh when she loses her train of thought, and a general feeling that she, too, is searching for answers, not just dispensing them, and looking for truth in what she does. There is a sincerity to her that has to be real; if she did not believe in what she professes, the medium would make it obvious. YouTube videos are too transparent a window for insincerity to last long. And that is the strength of YouTube videos, what sets them apart from traditional media: more than ever before, media approaches being a true conduit from content creator to viewer and back again, allowing a dialogue not possible before. Plus, in the end, as far as I’m concerned, Larisa has established a track record of being right-on-the-money about the trends and influences derived from astrology, and insightful as to how to apply the knowledge gained thusly. She is the quintessence of what I’ve come to think of as the kitchen witch.


Thesis, Antithesis, Synthesis

Also as far I’m concerned, none of this conflicts with my rock-solid faith in science. I’ve followed as the Grand Unified Theory has been pursued, grasping at understanding yet still enthralled. I’ve listened repeatedly to the audio of the Huygens lander as it descended through Titan’s atmosphere. The La Brea Tar Pits were the attractions I wanted to visit when I first went to Los Angeles, the grand parade of evolution having always had a grip upon my imagination. I remember watching Carl Sagan’s Cosmos as a teen, rapt with attention as he opened up the vast and wondrous universe to me. Later, his words about the Pale Blue Dot would once again remind me of just how awesome – in the true sense of an overused word – the universe is, and how ephemeral we are as we try to understand it.

I also understand the irony of rhapsodizing about Sagan in the same piece of writing where I discuss my belief in astrology. The inherent tensions between conflicting beliefs helps me more closely examine those beliefs.

So there you have it. Here in the midst of the Halloween season – my favorite holiday – with the veil between the worlds thinning and blustery days losing ground to sharp-starred nights, I find this the perfect time to let go of old fears, to dispel boundaries that I see to be illusory. Life is fleeting, and to spend those moments we have here not being true to ourselves, and not working towards that truth, seems a tragedy to me. However you want to define it, what magic there is in this world is brought into being by us, all of us, but only by trying. So why not try?

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