Go Ask VALIS, Pt. 2: The George Constanza of Magick

When I’m asked what I “did” with my life (as if I was just about to set foot upon the stoop of St. Peter), I’m left with a bit of a quandary. It all depends on the person asking the question, you see; what they value. I can’t be tasked with the responsibility of assigning values to things, you see.

When my mother says to me, “what have you done with your life,” what she usually means is: “you have utterly squandered your life.” It’s a rhetorical. There’s no answer expected. she knows the answer. My whole family knows the answer. And that answer is:

1) I don’t own property

2) I don’t have kids

3) I’ve squandered my life

Now, if some pop-culture savvy folk were to ask me the same question, I’d be like: “oh I wrote this and that major licensed character, I once worked for MTV, I was interviewed on TV by Ronan Farrow.” I shook Doctor Who Matt Smith’s hand. I think the Greatest American Hero was flirting with me at a convention once. This whole list of achievements.

But the thing is…while I really wanted (badly) some of those things (such as working in the comic book industry) when I was younger…I don’t have a lot of feelings about them now. Other than them being a series of bizarre footnotes. I still don’t believe I wrote an actual X-Men comic unless I take the damn book out & look at the credits. Like my experience in the acclaimed academic honors program I discussed in Part One, it was all just…**shrug**

Now: recording my dreams, chasing synchronicities, weaving my dreams & synchronicities into stories that have elements that later seem to come inexplicably true…All that weird shit, all that liminal shit…THAT’S the stuff that, at the end of the day, per my theoretical discussion with St. Peter on the stoop, I will probably feel most satisfied with in terms of my life.

And St. Peter himself may not be exactly “impressed,” if you know what I mean.

***

I was listening to this woman, a self-described “demonologist/exorcist,” explain on YouTube how witchcraft ends up getting into family lines. Because that’s exactly the sort of shit I watch on YouTube. Anyway. Here’s how it happens, the witchcraft thing:

Young woman from poor and/or undereducated and/or immigrant family is married off, and things quickly become shitty for her. She has like many babies, no rights, her husband is an alcoholic who cheats & beats on her. In desperation, she goes to a local “wise woman” who will do “root work” on the husband for a fee. Now “the Spirit of Witchcraft” has entered the family line, which could lead to “generational curses,” “spirit spouses,” etc.

When I first heard this story, it sounded familiar for this particular reason…the old lady selling the roots was most likely my Brazilian great-grandmother. My ancestors were industrious. There was no potentially lucrative market they weren’t going to tap.

Technically, my great-grandmother was a “natural healer.” Or is that the correct nomenclature? You could have told her a little under 100 years ago that what she was doing was “natural healing,” and she probably would have no idea what you were talking about. Call her a “witch,” and she’d probably punch you.

The way my mother (you know, the microbiologist & champion of the Scientific Method) described my great-grandmother’s medical practice was, that she “prescribed herbs” & worked in conjunction with a psychic named “Magellan.” Just some regular shit, you know…

The only other thing I know about my mother’s family along those lines is that my relatives & cousins in Brazil all did stuff like read tarot cards on the church steps & etc.. One cousin emigrated to the U.S. and became an ultra-orthodox Christian because, I guess, fuck that shit.

To be fair, I don’t know a hell of a lot about Brazil, or said Brazilian ancestors. I’ve never been to Brazil. Do I plan to ever visit Brazil?

***

I was introduced to what may be charitably referred to as “Wicca” in the mid-1990s, through a fellow member of my honors program. It is at this point that I should mention that one of the leaders of said program, Professor Ruiz, was an expert in the topic of the “witch hunts” of the Middle Ages. In fact, one of the highlights of his much-sought-after college class on the subject was a supposed reenactment of an occult ceremony.

Did my fellow honor student, who I’ll call Molly, first get the idea about learning witchcraft from this professor’s class? Or was it from the older woman in the wheelchair she met in one of her other classes, the woman who literally worked with roots in jars with people’s names on them & specifically mentored her in “Wicca?”

As I said in Part One, I was already interested in the paranormal (per my impromptu prayer sitting at the college library reference desk). So any type of weird shit was going to get my attention. And it was college, after all…

Here is one thing I learned early early on throughout this entire process: if you keep putting your attention on the Weirdness, the Weirdness will follow you, will multiply, will replicate itself into seemingly endless endless variations of itself.

Like, if all you ever did was simply write down these experiences in a simple single-subject spiral notebook…not even put in commentary or hypotheses, but just simply noted things down in a hasty dated scrawl…you’d start to see the Weirdness.

Or would it just be Confirmation Bias?

Glass half-full, glass half-empty. A fitting attitude/altitude for a person on the Middle Path. I have no real dog in this race.