they are varied and many

9

Today’s Robert Francis Friday post: Character alignments!  With all the many and varied characters Robert played over his career, I was confident that I’d find at least one example for each alignment.  And I did–

Lawful Good: Napoleon Solo (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.)
Neutral Good: Lee (The Magnificent Seven)
Chaotic Good: Albert Stroller (Hustle)
Lawful Neutral: Hunt Stockwell (The A Team)
True Neutral: Harry Rule (The Protectors)
Chaotic Neutral: Gelt (Battle Beyond the Stars)
Lawful Evil: Walter Chalmers (Bullitt)
Neutral Evil: Hayden Danziger (Columbo)
Chaotic Evil: Ross Webster (Superman III)

Thanks to @ksturf and @theniftycat for help with this!

autism spectrum disorder is not a linear spectrum. there is no “less autistic” end or “more autistic” end. when we say autism is a spectrum what we mean is that it has many different and varying characteristics and that each autistic person will experience it uniquely to them.

I want to talk about this whole “punching nazis” thing, which I have been thinking about for some days.

To start, let me clarify that I have no moral or ethical qualms with Richard Spencer getting punched in the face on tv. I’d be happy to see it happen again.

But I do have a couple issues with much of the dialogue that has emerged in the wake of this event.

A lot of the people suddenly talking about nazis right now are people who didn’t seem to even realize they existed in this country prior to this election.

A lot of people seem to have gotten some strange ideas about how and where nazis are typically encountered, or who they actually are.

So, I’d like to talk about some of the times in my life when I’ve encountered nazis.

Before I do that, let’s try to establish a definition. There are a lot of different stripes of fascists and white supremacists out there, with varying agendas and varying degrees of organization. In the US we’ve got many types, ranging from the KKK and Aryan Nation to various unorganized skinhead rabble to the newish group calling itself the Alt Right. It seems easiest, at least for the sake of this argument, to lump those all together under one general “nazi” category. But does that really make sense? I’ll come back to that. But for now, in most of the examples I will describe below, these were people who openly called themselves such.

Also, I want to establish a bit about who I am. I don’t like to discuss any of these things publicly, but I also feel like I kind of have to, to explain where I am coming from. So: I am Jewish, I am bi, I am neurodivergent. Due to this last thing, I have certain issues navigating the physical world. I am physically fit but not athletic. I have very little self defense training. By occupation I am a musician.

And lastly I want to point out that these examples are from 15-20 years ago and describe some of my earliest encounters with these forces to provide context. And I’m going to start with some clear cut cases:

I first became aware of the existence of modern nazis my first year in high school. This was in the suburbs of San Francisco. I had a few friends who were into punk music and culture. I heard about “white power punks” and nazi skinheads who would sometimes show up at shows. When I started going out I would see them every once in a while. When I started going up to the city, at that time there were places that were absolutely notorious for nazi skinheads. I never interacted with them, I always steered clear of them, and never really fell in with the punk scene anyway. But that’s when I first became aware that there were people in modern America who called themselves nazis and directly advocated for white supremacy.

To be honest I did not think of myself as their “target” because (in my mind, at that time) Jewish culture in the SF Bay Area was practically invisible and unlikely to be on their radar. In fact I didn’t think too deeply about who their target was. I mostly thought they were crazy people who loved violence and called themselves “nazis” because it was the meanest thing they could think of, that they were in favor of “white power” because it was so obviously wrong. At this time, there was fair amount of tension in the state around the issue of immigration from Mexico. But it did not occur to me then that there could have been any relationship between the xenophobia I saw expressed by mainstream circles in conversations about Proposition 187 and the blatant, violent white supremacy expressed by the skinheads on the periphery of local punk scenes. (also please note that I am aware that not all skinheads are nazis and that there is an anti-racist element within skinhead culture as well)

In college, in Pittsburgh, I lived on a store with a convenience store on one end. One of the people who worked in this store was a skinhead who wore a jacket covered in various white power/“rock against communism” band logos. He had a group of similar buddies that often hung around nearby, a couple of whom had aryan nation tattoos. On several occasions when I woke up in the morning I would find leaflets distributed up and down the block decrying the Holocaust as a “Jewish scam to make money”. These flyers were attributed to Church of the Creator, one of the more active neo-nazi groups in Pennsylvania at that time. Every once in a while I would cautiously engage in arguments with some people on the fringes of that crew of guys who hung out in the area. Things were sometimes tense but never got physical. Soon after 9/11 most of them disappeared. I don’t know why or where to.

While traveling alone in Slovenia, I nearly ran into a parade of about 40 skinheads chanting and marching in the street while I was on the way back to where I was staying. I do not know what specific group they were affiliated with but wore patches with the common “celtic cross” symbol used by far right/white nationalist groups all over the world. At that time, fascist graffiti covered Ljubljana.

Those are just a few of the more blatant examples from that time. These experiences were not rare. The KKK and various neo-nazi groups held public parades and rallies all throughout this period, and sometimes showed up as counter protestors or forces of violence at protests for progressive causes. They marched through downtown Pittsburgh - with the local government’s blessing - and many other cities in that region.

There were protestors at those marches, and there were people who fought the nazis directly, but the general consensus in mainstream liberal circles at that time seemed to be that nazis had the right to march just like anyone else, that any violence against them would be bad. It certainly wasn’t at all common to hear college educated, NY Times-reading liberals talking about the glories of “punching nazis”. This is a problematic but very complicated phenomenon: they were to be tolerated up until the point at which they’ve come into power.

But let me explain why _I_ didn’t go around punching the nazis I saw, during those times when I encountered them personally. To some extent, part of me did follow that logic mentioned above, but that’s not the real reason. The real reason is pretty simple: most nazis are a lot better at fighting than I am, they do it more frequently, they usually travel in numbers, they are often armed, and in almost every circumstance when I’ve encountered them the odds would not have been remotely in my favor had things gotten physical.

Richard Spencer was alone and unarmed standing in front of a video camera busily talking about an internet meme while he was sucker punched. This occurred in broad daylight in a very crowded, open area with a ton of media and police present. While I applaud the anonymous puncher for seizing upon that opportunity, that’s not really a typical situation in which one encounters nazis.

Recently, Richard Spencer posted a video in reaction to this incident. In this video he mentions that the Alt Right will not succeed if they are unable to be who they are in public. I’ve seen a lot of people pointing to this video as a sign of victory over the Alt Right, a sign that they are scared. I think the latter half is true but not the former. What Spencer is saying is that they are going to ramp up security. And I would anticipate that these people will begin to receive even more protection from the current administration.

So, this is one conclusion I’d like to leave here - in most cases “punching nazis” means getting involved in serious physical violence in which your life will be at risk. And that risk is only going to increase in the future. Fantasizing about punching some idiot talking about a frog on tv is fun, but I think it ignores the realities that many have faced and many more are about to face. And while many of us have disabilities that hinder us in this department, I think it would behoove anyone who is serious about getting physical with fascists to study and learn how to do so before getting involved in a situation you are unprepared for. I would also think long and hard before making that demand of anyone else. But that’s not the most important point.

I’d like to circle back to talking about definitions. The examples I gave above are obvious. These were people who, in almost all cases, were openly wearing the actual logos of white supremacist organizations. So let me bring up a different example:

About one year after 9/11 I was in Budapest, taking an overnight train to Amsterdam. I had a spot in a sleeper compartment on a train. I got on and a couple other passengers came in. One of them was a young guy, a little older than me (I was in my early 20’s at this time). He spoke English very well and we got to talking. It turned out he was an Austrian who worked in finance. Middle management at a major bank. He bought us a couple of beers and we were getting along. Inevitably, the topic of 9/11 came up. Seemingly out of nowhere, he explains to me how “there were no Jews in the building that day”. He then goes on to explain how 9/11 and the entire War on Terror that was then unfolding was all a Jewish plot to direct money to Israel’s armed forces. And hinted that the Holocaust was a similar plot. I tried to argue with him for a bit (without letting on that I was Jewish) but it was nearly impossible to get through to him, and he soon became surly and then passed out. I tried to do the same. But what caught my attention was that this man was well spoken, dressed conservatively, he looked every bit the upper middle class finance professional. It was difficult to imagine him in a street fight. No one would have described this person as being on the fringes of his society.

Up until a year ago, if I told this story to a European, or to an American person of color, they were unsurprised. But if I told it to a white American their reaction would usually be “yeah, well, that’s Europe for you”.

But that’s never been the case.

One common narrative is that many of the groups of fascists have figured out that they aren’t going to get very far if they are seen just thugs who march around on the street wearing in leather jackets getting in scraps. many of them have figured this out some time ago, and have been infiltrating mainstream education and corporate life. And yes, that is happening.

But there is a big problem with that narrative: it ignores the fact that many of America’s institutions and businesses are, themselves, organizations that promote white supremacy. Many of our banks, many of our police departments, our prison system, much of our media. Does these mean they are all “nazis”? Not really. But what it does mean is that white supremacy is not some outside force that just suddenly popped out of Steve Bannon’s suitcase. It’s been here for a long time. It is deeply engrained in our society. Fascism is not some new danger that we suddenly need to prevent from being “normalized” - for much of America, fascism has been the norm for a very long time.

Here’s my point with all of this: sooner or later, Trump will be defeated. This regime is monstrous, but I have seen the power and anger and sheer volume of opposition to it, and I do not think that this regime will last. My worry is, once this most obvious of enemies is defeated, the liberal establishment will go right back to completely forgetting that white supremacy and fascism are a major problem in this country. The sad fact is, even when Democrats in power, even when the POTUS is the most progressive sounding person electable, the nazis are still here, white supremacy is still here, fascism is still here. And not always on “the other side”. We need to remember that, we need to keep pointing to them and ostracizing them and speaking out against white supremacy and fascism even when it looks like things are more comfortable, because that comfort is a trap.

The Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year is an annual cycle of seasonal festivals, observed by many modern Pagans. It consists of either four or eight festivals: either the solstices and equinoxes, known as the “quarter days”, or the four midpoints between, known as the “cross quarter days”.

The festivals celebrated by differing sects of modern Paganism can vary considerably in name and date. Observing the cycle of the seasons has been important to many people, both ancient and modern, and many contemporary Pagan festivals are based to varying degrees on folk traditions.

In many traditions of modern Pagan cosmology, all things are considered to be cyclical, with time as a perpetual cycle of growth and retreat tied to the Sun’s annual death and rebirth.

Yule/Winter Solstice: a festival observed by the historical Germanic peoples, later undergoing Christian reformulation resulting in the now better-known Christmastide. A celebration the beginning of longer days, as this is the shortest day of the year in terms of sunlight. 

Imbolc: the first cross-quarter day following Midwinter this day falls on the first of February and traditionally marks the first stirrings of spring. It is time for purification and spring cleaning in anticipation of the year’s new life. 

For Celtic pagans, the festival is dedicated to the goddess Brigid, daughter of The Dagda and one of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

Among witches reclaiming tradition, this is the  time for pledges and dedications for the coming year.

Ostara/Spring Equinox: from this point on, days are longer than the nights. Many mythologies, regard this as the time of rebirth or return for vegetation gods and celebrate the spring equinox as a time of great fertility.

Germanic pagans dedicate the holiday to their fertility goddess, Ostara. She is notably associated with the symbols of the hare and egg. Her Teutonic name may be etymological ancestor of the words east and Easter.

Beltrane: traditionally the first day of summer in Ireland, in Rome the earliest celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times with the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. 

Since the Christianization of Europe, a more secular version of the festival has continued in Europe and America. In this form, it is well known for maypole dancing and the crowning of the Queen of the May.

Litha/Summer Solstice: one of the four solar holidays, and is considered the turning point at which summer reaches its height and the sun shines longest.

Luchnassad/Lammas: It is marked the holiday by baking a figure of the god in bread and eating it, to symbolize the sanctity and importance of the harvest. Celebrations vary, as not all Pagans are Wiccans.  

The name Lammas (contraction of loaf mass) implies it is an agrarian-based festival and feast of thanksgiving for grain and bread, which symbolizes the first fruits of the harvest. Christian festivals may incorporate elements from the Pagan Ritual.

Mabon/Autumn Equinox: a Pagan ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and the God during the coming winter months. The name Mabon was coined by Aidan Kelly around 1970 as a reference to Mabon ap Modron, a character from Welsh mythology. Among the sabbats, it is the second of the three Pagan harvest festivals, preceded by Lammas / Lughnasadh and followed by Samhain.

Samhain: considered by some as a time to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on, and it often involves paying respect to ancestors, family members, elders of the faith, friends, pets, and other loved ones who have died. In some rituals the spirits of the departed are invited to attend the festivities. It is seen as a festival of darkness, which is balanced at the opposite point of the wheel by the festival of Beltane, which is celebrated as a festival of light and fertility.

“Here at bioware we make sure our players can have many different and varied hairstyles for their Ryders! Options inculde: a Bob, a bob, a short bob, an asymetrical bob, a bob with an undercut, a bob tucked behind the ears, a bob tucked behind only ONE ear, a bob thats blow dried, a teased bob, and finally a bob in a ponytail!” 

life has gone to shit in the past few weeks and so i decided to start waking up early and taking charge of my life. it’s going ok so far. i am a night owl, though, soooo listen to me my tips work y’all

getting ur sleep hours

  • okok so iK that this is not always possible n u stay up late doing crap for school or smthing BUT
  • waking up early becomes so much better and easier and calmer when u get ur hours ok
  • find out how many hours u need (varies from person to person; me it’s 8 hours which kills me bc so much frigggging time)
  • depending on what time u want to wake up at, calculate it backwards and this new hour is ur hour that u absolutely cannot stay up past*
  • (* unless u absolutely absolutely have to. i understand that sometimes u just have too much stuff to do and u gta get it done. so in that case u would have to go to sleep as early as u can - meaning after ur deadline has passed, u focus focus focus n don’t do shenanigans.)
  • the idea here is u want a routine ok bc ur body likes routines ur brain likes routines and eventually it’ll wake up naturally at the time

ur alarm

  • this can either go both ways, whatever works 4 u:
    • make it RLLY RLLY shrilly n hella annoying that u hate it and u go and turn it off
      • warning: this can backfire bc u just turn it off and don’t actually wake up
    • or u make it like soft and happy and pretty
      • warning: similarly this can backfire bc u r still sleepy bc soft and happy and pretty
  • either way!!!!!!! DO NOT HIT THE SNOOZE
  • u made the promise to urself to wake up early, honour it. don’t be a shitty person who can’t keep their word. (look @ me guilting u)
  • some ppl like their alarms far but i don’t have enough self control for that lol like my alarm is my phone n getting out of bed b4 sleep to put my phone across the room eh

ur awake. now what?

  • ur probably still sleepy af bc ur a sleep-deprived person who would ideally be sleeping but u persevere my friend
  • ok first thing u do is get out of bed bc the bed is ur enemy and it distracts u ok it sucks!!!!!!!!!
  • couple things to stay awake:
    • in the winter especially i blast light in my face 2 tell my brain “yooo it’s like the day now can u wake the hell up” and then serotonin comes in and it’s like “yooo ty
    • wash my face w/cooold (diduthinkiwasgnasaycool) water bc that wakes u up !!! if u’ve ever been woken up w/water!!! yes it works !!!
    • some ppl r like exercise but be warned: this only works if ur body is somewhat used 2 exercise like mine is not and so exercising in the morning just makes me tired tbh
    • stimulate ur mind ya ok some ppl r against electronics in the morning but idk watching a funny vid or smthing cheers me up a lot (laughing!!! important)

rewards

  • bc we r humans driven by desires
    i make like a nice breakfast that i like w/like fruits and like good things and it makes me feeling nice n it’s usually rlly tasty
    • things i like to eat: berry smoothies, burrito wraps, congee, dates lol i’m obsessed w/dates rn
  • sometimes i also plan my outfit n i’m like yooooooo i look so good and it gets me feeling rl nice
  • i also have a short impromptu dance party bc like i can afford it w/the time i have now like i don’t listen to music that much anymore :( but now i have a special time to dedicate to music and dance and it’s gr8

final words

  • pls persevere; habits r not made overnight n u will miss some days n it will be totally ok
  • sunrises r nice to actually see and it’s x108908394 easier in the winter bc later sunrise time soooo js
  • my best friend just texted me “can we nap together tmrw” and that pretty much sums us up idk why that’s relevant but s.o. to him !!!
  • i rlly want a burrito rn
  • ur a superstar u can do it also wtf is sleep who needs that???
  • <3

What if humans are the only species with rites and traditions?

Imagine an alien textbook

“Humans, by and large, are fond of strange and unnecessary things. While they vary from colony to colony, many of these things are related to what they consider key points in an individual’s life cycle - the birth of a new member, the bonding of a mated couple, the disposal of the dead. Every clan and continent appears to have completely different, unrelated if not altogether arbitrary rites, but the most important feature of these strange and unnecessary things is simple: they are present.”

Memorization Tips

View a video version here!

Aim to understand before you memorize. It’s so much more valuable to know the meaning of the word than to be able to recite a word for word definition out of a textbook.

Try to get the correct information the first time you learn about it, by paying attention and asking questions. It’s hard to remember things, but it’s even harder to overwrite incorrect memories.

Organize the information. There are theories about how many spaces our working memory has, the numbers vary but it’s not very many. If you’ve never heard of working memory, it’s your short term memory and where the information you’re currently handling is stored. For example, let’s say I showed you this random string of numbers. Memorizing it would be pretty hard, because we definitely have less than 16 spaces in our working memory. But as soon as I group them like this, each group is a single “thought” and you only need to remember four things.

Some ways to do this are with numbers and categories. If you can remember that there are 16 numbers in the sequence, it’s much easier to be sure of the numbers than if you have no clue when to stop. You can also group information into categories, so they’re like the four groups of numbers instead of the 16 individual ones.

The way we recall things from our memory is using cues. Sometimes they’ll be test questions, sometimes someone might say something that reminds you of something else. The best way to make it easy for you to remember something when asked is to have a lot of cues connected to it. You can connect the information to an actual example. The best connections you can make are ones that make the information interesting or connected to your life.

Get an impression of the material from as many senses as possible. For example, you could read your notes out loud. Then you’d be getting the information through sight, hearing, and even feeling your mouth moving.

Active studying is more valuable than passive studying. If you just read over your notes or textbook, you’re only reinforcing that you recognize the information, not that you can actually recall it when you have a blank test paper in front of you. Some active studying techniques include practice tests and flash cards.

Take breaks between study sessions. It’s generally better to study for 15 minutes a day over a span of a week than for two hours on one day.

Sleeping is also very helpful to strengthen your memory.

It also helps to walk while you study.

Write instead of typing. Unless you can’t get all of the essential information down fast enough when writing.

Use mnemonic devices. For example, you can use HOMES to remember the names of the Great Lakes.

Make up a rhyme or song. I did this in sixth grade for a project and I still remember the song, and I still remember a bunch of random facts about plate boundaries.

it is not insignificant how many lgbp fans are saying things like “yuri on ice makes me feel loved,” “yuri on ice makes me feel happy,” “yuri on ice is the only thing getting me through hard times right now.” i’m hearing this from friends who have varying levels of familiarity with the genre and storytelling conventions and so many of us all agree that yuri on ice makes us feel warm and safe.

yuuri and victor are gay, safe, and happy. this is universally understood. so so so many lgbp viewers are resonating with the show for a reason and i could honestly cry about what it means to me and to my friends that we have something like this and that the creators clearly care for us and that there’s just a story that’s for us. and it’s a good story.

it’s not insignificant. it’s important.

Imagine children of Hephaestus being born with parts of their bodies being made of metal. It varies how weird or horrific the placement of these parts are. Many children with born with metal limbs build better, more stylish ones for themselves

Imagine children of Aphrodite that are born with the power to change their appearance, but they can’t control it. They change when their emotions are high or just randomly throughout the day. Sometimes they’ll have two different faces and not be able to do anything about it

Imagine children of Apollo being literally made of light. There’s always a soft glow coming from their eyes, nose, and mouth. They get hard to look at when they’re mad but they also make good flashlights

Imagine children of Ares who just casually spill blood all the time. Out of their mouths, ears, eyes, and noses. Just randomly, no warning. Sometime random small wounds will open up on their arms, legs, and faces. New campers are very scared of them

Imagine children of Athena who physically shut down from information over load; they can’t move, can’t speak, don’t even breathe so their brains can review all the things they know. When they’re in this state you can literally see words and pictures flash across their eyes. Don’t disturb them in this state, it won’t be good for either of you

Imagine children of Demeter who have flowers and other flora growing out of their bodies. Little roses (thorns and all) growing out of their heads, lilies growing from their shoulders. Sometimes their hair will start turning green

Imagine children of Dionysus with grape juice for blood. When they get older, it ferments and turns to wine. They can will vines to grow out of their bodies, though the grapes on those vines will make anyone else sick

Imagine children of Hermes who talk so fast, their voice can’t catch up. They’ll be talking and suddenly, their voice gives out. But they still keep talking. When they stop, their voice keeps going once it’s able to catch up

Imagine children of Hades with see through skin. All the bones, veins, organs, and everything is visible. Sometimes, depending on a lot of things, their skin is more translucent than normal

Imagine children of Poseidon being born with aquatic features; scales, gills, webbed hands/feet, slimy skin, etc. Some are able to go fine without water, while some need it or they get sick. They won’t die but they will be quite miserable

Imagine children of Zeus who are made of lightning. You can see it under their skin, jumping from one body part to the next. Their eyes have lightning and them always look like colored storm clouds. Touching them is always an endeavor in trying not to get shocked too badly

Imagine really cool side effects to being half all powerful God

Contacting Spirit Guides and other entities

If you have questions, message me. Spirit work is no joke!

Before we go over the steps of real contact with spirit, let’s go over some warnings and some advice on technique. This guide will work for calling any spirit, whether it be a fluffy unicorn bunny or something extremely uncomfortable and dangerous. It’s like picking up the phone: anyone can be on the other end.

When you do spirit work, you are interacting with a real world filled with infinitely many, and infinitely varied, beings.

  • There are some spirits that prey on humans like wolves prey on rabbits.
  • There are some spirits that are extremely kind and helpful.

In my experience, whatever you call will come.

If you leave your request open-ended, anything may come to you.

The more specific you are, the better.

But you must understand what you are doing when you call spirits to you.

For example:

  • “Spirits of light, come to me!” Many demons are considered to be “of light”, as well as gods you may be uncomfortable dealing with (Lucifer comes to mind).
  • “All spirits of darkness, leave me!” Well, spirits of all nocturnal animals could be interpreted as being spirits of darkness. The essence of storms and night-time, or even a spirit of sleepiness, could be considered spirits of darkness. Are you sure these are forces you want to send away?

Do not use poetic language. Speak plainly.

Instead of using flowery language, simply say what you mean.

Begin by writing down your intent.

  • What kind of spirit do you want to interact with? (Good, evil, nice, kind, mean? Nature, elemental, bunny, unicorn, demon?)
  • What is your purpose for calling this spirit? (Searching for a guide/guardian/teacher/friend? Have questions to ask? Need help with magic?)
  • How powerful do you believe this spirit will be? Is it going to be more powerful than your abilities to banish it? Never call up what you cannot put down.
  • What do you have to give back to this spirit? (Offerings? Time? Energy?)

In my experience, all spirits get something out of an interaction with a human. It could simply be that their curiosity is sated. A spirit could just be curious as to what kind of human is sending out a call in to their world! It could be that helping or aiding you assists their calling in life or a job they currently have. It could also be that they would like some kind of payment in return, such as offerings of incense, food, or drink. If you have the ability and inclination, have some small offerings on hand. Coffee, tobacco, any foods (I find they seems to like processed foods less), and any alcohols are good. Even a glass of fresh water and/or a little incense will be good.

Once you have your intent written down, formulate your call. Here are three example calls that I would use myself.

  • “I am [magical name]. I am calling out to the spirit world. I am seeking any good and helpful spirits that are willing to help a human such as myself. I wish for assistance with [guardianship/teaching/guidance/etc]. Please come to me so we may interact.”
  • “I am [magical name]. I am calling out to the spirit world. I am seeking any noble and strong warrior spirits that are willing to help a human such as myself. I wish for assistance with guarding my home. In return I can offer brandy and cigars. Please come to me so we may make a deal.”
  • “I am [magical name]. I am calling out to the spirit world. I am seeking a spirit of storms and rain that are willing to help a human such as myself. I wish for rain to be brought to my region. In return I will tell others about my experience so you gain fame in the human world. Please come to me so that we may help each other.”

Quick notes:

  • For spirit work, try adopting a magical name. It does not sit well with me that someone uses their true name immediately with spirits. It’s like giving your telephone number to every stranger you meet. I use my online name, typically Briar although now it is Thicket. Magical names do not have to be permanent. Choose any name or word you like.
  • “I am calling out to the spirit world” can be replaced by any phrase or action that connects you with “the other side”. Find an action or method of connection that feels comfortable to you.
  • It is important to mention that you would like a spirit who wants to help you! It may seem self-evident, but trust me, it is not. Plenty of spirits come to my call who just want to see what’s going on, or who want a chance at the offerings at my side.

Actually calling the spirits, interacting with them, and formulating a relationship

Suppose you would like to meet any guardian or guide spirits that you may have already. Try using a call like this:

“I am [magical name]. I am calling out to the spirit world. I am seeing any guardians, guides, or helpful spirits that are attached to me. Please visit me so I may get to know you.”

Take your notebook and write down the exact call you plan on using. If you like, have some offerings on hand (this is just good form in general). Have with you any divination tools you plan on using. Also have with you the basic tools for banishment.

Sit in a quiet place. Make your environment as witchy as possible to get you in the right mindset. Candles and incense work great if you have them, otherwise try atmospheric music. Do whatever it takes to make you feel like you are connected to the “other” world. Try praying for protection or wearing protection amulets that you may have.

When you are ready, read your call. Read it out loud or mentally, it doesn’t matter; nothing on this plane of existence will hear it anyway.

At this point one of two things will happen: a spirit will visit you, or it will not.

If a spirit does not appear within a few moments, read your call again. Repeat this for three calls total, then try again the next day or the next week. If necessary, do divination to discover why spirits did not want to appear for you. Is it possible the spirit you called for does not exist? Try a different call (more will be listed below) for practice. Is it possible you just do not know how to detect a spirit if it does appear? If nothing seems to be working after a week or so of trying, send me a message. Please send me the exact calls you used.

Remember that spirits are not physical. It is extremely uncommon that a person will see a spirit with their two eyes. A being isn’t just going to appear three dimensionally in your bedroom. Most likely, that being will appear within your imagination. The imagination is an extremely powerful magical tool and should not be ignored because it is “make believe”. If you call an air elemental you may imagine a whirlwind, a bird, a cloud, or anything else that is ‘airy’ in nature, for example.

When your imagination suddenly changes with an image of something, mentally or verbally greet it. Try, “Hello, you may call me [magical name]. Are you replying to my call?”

Understanding what a spirit is communicating to you is tricky. If only they spoke plain English! Look for any sign that the spirit has responded. The image of the spirit may seem to move closer to you, or further away. It may appear to be happy, sad, or upset. You may suddenly get empathetic feelings of agreement or disagreement. You may actually hear, feel, or think words. It is your job to interpret what the spirit is trying to communicate with you. If you like, ask the spirit to influence your divinatory tools so you can communicate through those.

Avoid repeating questions. They do not seem to like it. Ask once, and if you can’t interpret, apologize and ask another question instead.

If absolutely nothing seems to happen, take it as a sign that the spirit did not respond to you. In this situation, if the spirit does not respond, say, “if you are not here to answer my call and assist me, please leave. Thank you for your time.” There is no need to be hostile or rude, just send them away. If they refuse to leave, it is time to banish.

If something does happen, for example if you sense a feeling of agreement or the image seems to nod at you, take this as an affirmative that the spirit is here to answer your call. Continue with your line of questioning. Try these questions:

  • “What may I call you?” (Do not ask for their name directly, I have never had good results when I do).
  • “Are you [the spirit I asked for]?”
  • “Would you like to continue communicating this way?”
  • “What is your role in my life?”

If you are here to make a deal and get it over with, don’t drag out the small talk. “Are you the spirit I called for? Will you protect my house for some brandy? Awesome, I’ll pay you once a week and we’ll revisit the contract in a month.”

If you are there to make a lasting connection, speak for as long as you like or until the spirit appears to become restless or bored.

When the spirit departs, or when you ask it to depart, the mental image of them should leave their mind. Carefully distinguish between having that spirit actively within your imagination, and memories of the spirit within your imagination.

After this first meeting, you can call the same spirit by the name they gave you. Try, “the spirit that gave me the name [spirit’s name] on the date [the date you first met the spirit], please come to me so we may speak.”

Banishment

I don’t have the time or inclination to include full banishing rituals in this small guide. Simply google “how to banish a spirit” or ask a friendly Tumblurian to help :)

Detecting fakes

Alright, so here’s what you gotta do. Just pay attention. If something feels disturbing, wrong, or scary, DO NOT IGNORE THOSE FEELINGS. Fear is an instinct that exists to keep us safe. It is not you being a scaredy cat. It is not you being silly, nervous, or having stage fright. Ask the spirit to leave immediately and do a quick cleansing on your space.

Think about what you asked for and judge a spirit by those standards. An air spirit is not going to take the form of a boulder. A rain spirit is not going to take the form of a candle flame.

If something sounds too good to be true, it is. If a spirit is telling you that you are the chosen one, that you need it to be powerful, etc., you are going to be dinner. Send it away.

Practice calls

I would consider these calls to be relatively safe and good just to get a little experience in. Ask these spirits to come visit you for a short time, then bid them farewell. There is no need to get a name from them unless you really want to call them back. The offerings are just suggestions, to give you some ideas.

  • “I am seeking rabbit or hare spirits that wish to visit me in exchange for some fresh lettuce.”
  • “I desire to contact any spirits of flowers who are nearby, so I may appreciate your beauty.” (Remember to give the flowers many compliments in exchange for their time)
  • “I would like to visit with a good and benevolent water spirit who will teach me about healing.”
  • “I am seeking a dog spirit who would like a nice treat in exchange for his time.”
  • “I wish to speak with a bird spirit, who can show me what the world looks like from the sky. In exchange I can offer bird seed.”
  • “I wish to contact a spirit of beauty who can help teach me magics for clearer skin. In exchange I can give you three dried roses.”
  • “I would like to call upon the spirit of clutter that lives in my home, so that we may make a deal for you to leave my property.”
  • “I would like to call upon the ghost of [my deceased pet*****] so we may visit and share good times.”
  • “I desire to contact any good and benevolent spirits who are directly involved in my life, so we may speak and get to know each other.”
  • “I desire to contact any spirits who wish harm against me, so I may make amends and heal our relationship.”
  • “I am seeking a spirit of hard work to bless me in my future endeavors, in exchange for a small shrine built in your honor.”

*****DO NOT call human relatives to you at this point. It is way too easy for a demon or spook to pretend to be a human relative. It is okay if human spirits come to you in general, but it is a suckerpunch to the gut to realize that your beloved departed is really an evil spirit in disguise. Stick with animal friends for now.

Calling gods and other such beings

This method will work to call gods as well. Be very careful of petty spirits that pretend to be gods. Judge each being by its folklore and what you know about them.

What to do with offerings?

For any offering, set it aside and watch the spirit enjoy it. When the spirit is done, dispose of the offerings just as you would clear a plate from the guest table.

Pour any liquids on to the ground or down the drain. Bury or compost foods, or dispose of them in the trash. Simply allow incense to burn and throw away the ashes.

The 5 Senses of Attraction

Romantic chemistry is all about warm, gooey feelings that gush from the deepest depths of the heart…right? Not quite. Actually, the real boss behind attraction is your brain, which runs through a very quick, very complex series of calculations when assessing a potential partner. 

We know. The idea of so much of our attraction being influenced by chemicals and evolutionary biology can seem cold and scientific rather than romantic. But the next time you see someone you like, try to appreciate how your entire body is playing matchmaker to decide if that beautiful stranger is right for you.

After all, just because the calculations are happening in your brain doesn’t mean those warm, fuzzy feelings are all in your head. In fact, all five of your senses play a role, each able to vote for (or veto) a budding attraction.

#1. Sight

The eyes are the first components in attraction. Many visual beauty standards vary between cultures and eras, but signs of youth, fertility and good health, such as long lustrous hair, or smooth, scar-free skin are almost always in demand because they’re associated with reproductive fitness.

#2. Smell

The nose’s contribution to romance is more than noticing perfume or cologne. It’s able to pick up on natural chemical signals known as pheromones. These not only convey important physical or genetic information about their source but are able to activate a physiological or behavioral response in the recipient.

#3. Hearing

Our ears also determine attraction. Studies have shown that heterosexual men prefer females with high-pitched, breathy voices and wide formant spacing, correlated with smaller body size, while heterosexual women prefer low-pitched voices with a narrow formant spacing that suggest a larger body size.

#4. Touch

And not surprisingly, touch turns out to be crucial for romance. In one experiment, not realizing the study had begun, participants were asked to briefly hold a coffee, either hot or iced. Later, the participants read a story about a hypothetical person and were asked to rate their personality. Those who had held the hot cup of coffee perceived the person in the story as happier, more social, more generous, and better-natured than those who had held the cup of iced coffee, who rated the person as cold, stoic and unaffectionate.

#5. Taste

If a potential mate has managed to pass all these tests, there’s still one more: the infamous first kiss, a rich and complex exchange of tactile and chemical cues, such as the smell of one’s breath and the taste of their mouth. This magic moment is so critical that a majority of men and women have reported losing their attraction to someone after a bad first kiss.

Once attraction is confirmed, your bloodstream is flooded with norepinephrine, activating your fight or flight system. Your heart beats faster, your pupils dilate, and your body releases glucose for additional energy — not because you’re in danger but because your body is telling you that something important is happening. To help you focus, norepinephrine creates a sort of tunnel vision, blocking out surrounding distractions, possibly even warping your sense of time, and enhancing your memory. This might explain why people never forget their first kiss.

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

From the TED-Ed Lesson The science of attraction - Dawn Maslar

Animation by TOGETHER

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For the record, aliens in my headworld range from generic space-furries to uninspired humanoids that can crossbreed with humans (though in the Clawish’s defense, the guy who created them aimed for that for Reasons, long story) to “what the actual heck.” It really depends on who made them or guided their development, since most of the sentient life in my headworld is there Because Angels.

I was gonna share this a long time ago, but chickened out. Now I’m just like whatever, but it is a bit outdated and incomplete. I’m still pretty happy with it though. And yes, these all have writeups with varying levels of length and complexity (many of them are intended to mostly be ‘background aliens’). @heartlessmushroom can vouch for that.

The Nomoc are not actually mine entirely, but I don’t think the guys who made Heiankyo Alien for GB in 1990 spent like 25+ years sloooowly building up a backstory and culture and relative ecology for them since childhood, so this weird overworked version of them live in my headworld. The fact that they’re not mine is even part of the meta-narrative surrounding them (Go basically brought some in with him when he moved there and they flourished from there).

idk tl:dr my headspace is messed up and i’m blubbering and unoriginal

The MBTI Types as Buildings

ISTJ: The Courthouse ~ organized, decisive, strong, prominent influence from past designs, detail oriented

ISFJ: The Welcoming Inn ~ caring, attentive, provides comfort and familiarity, inviting

ESTJ: The Fortress ~ strong, powerful, commanding, in tune with sensory environment, hosts power

ESFJ: The Suburban Family Home ~ welcoming of guests, good host, attentive to all needs of family members and friends 

ISTP: The Houseboat ~ experimental, adventurous, functional, aware of and works with physical environment

ISFP: The Mountain Cabin ~ solitary, peaceful, surrounded by inspiring physical environment

ESTP: The International Airport ~ bustling, full of diversity and many people, the starting place for countless adventures 

ESFP: The Expansive Mall ~ endless possibilities for sensory excitement, great for social fun, inviting

INTP: The House on Wheels ~ creative, experimental, open for endless changes and search for a perfect spot

INTJ: The Castle ~ commanding, solitary, full of endless interesting corridors, decisive

ENTP: The World Trade Center ~ a place of debate and diverse possibilities, many varying people, and a big picture, global view

ENTJ: The Skyscraper ~ high reaching, central in bustling and thriving cities, pushes limits of building technology

INFP: The Extensive Library ~ holds intricate maze of knowledge and imagination, many cozy and unique areas, endless exploration

INFJ: The Old Mansion ~ mysterious and hard to see behind gates, caring and protective of few residents, deep concern for quality, creative grounds

ENFP: The Expansive Museum ~ wide variety, invites discovery and thought, offers glimpses into many different times and cultures

ENFJ: The University Building ~ brings people together, inspires, teaches, pushes conventional limits, creative environment 

me as kid: magical girls are pretty and good! They look cute and fight evil!

Teen Years: the magical girl genre is stupid and pointless, the characters are flat, girly and solve everything with “heart.” I don’t know I wasn’t just watching DBZ or something the whole time

me now: magical girls are pretty and good! (And continue to be a genre that largely focuses on depicting healthy female friendship and empowering young protagonists to overcome obstacles through their own abilities- whether it be kindness or compassion, the many girls are depicted as important and varied- something you won’t see in other TV) They look cute and fight evil!