Sovereigns of the Golden Path

or, how I learned to stop worrying and start my own cult.

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I refer to the SGP as a cult as a way of using humor to minimize the terrifying immensity the task; to start a magical tradition.
When envisioning something as purposefully heterodoxical as starting a cult, you’ve got to maintain a sense of levity, even if it is born from anxiety. I want to create a space, a haven for people who are too strange to fit anywhere else without ignoring or cutting bits of themselves off. Within that space, a conversation.
I want it to be like lichen, defying easy classification; something erased from people’s minds by the limitations of artificial constructs and poor education. Lichen is a symbiotic being, a unity of fungi, algae or bacteria. I love lichen for the same reason I love tardigrades and those alien creatures that live around the hot sulphurous vents in the constant darkness of the sea floor. Against all odds, they persist. They endure. Their regents are very, very old.
When the fungi from a lichen is separated from its symbionts in a lab environment, it is able to survive but loses its shape and structure, becoming a formless mass of hyphae; a purposeless blob. Sometimes I feel like a fungus-less lichen.
The SGP is my attempt to inject a bit of structural bacteria into my practice, along with a desire to spread, to survive. That seems like an inelegant metaphor but it’s going to be organic with a lot of junk DNA to start with that’ll get honed by evolution, and hopefully, helpful outside input. The average human body contains a staggering, uncountable amount of bacteria. Down to our very basest physicality, we are communities, conversations. No thing is born perfect. We grow through error.
The SGP will be about the pursuit of personal sovereignty and truth. The further we stray from truth, the more we suffer. Truth is a stand-in word for freedom, authenticity, spirit, unity, god, source, whatever ineffable, holy quality you need it to be. The name refers to the sun, but it won’t be a path in denial of shadows. The lights in the night sky after all, are themselves tiny distant suns. It’ll be animistic, BYO gods if you have them, a tool not a dogma. It’s firmly rooted in chaos magic, but the more it evolves, the family resemblance becomes less clear.
It’s early days yet, and not all offspring are viable. But I remain hopeful that one day this will grow into a conversation that can continue on without me.

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The sun muscled manticore

Parental love, chaos magic, and a reason to run.

When I was younger, I believed that adulthood meant escaping any emotional reliance I had on my biological parents. I thought I would outgrow a need for parental love, guidance and approval. I was wrong on both counts; this need isn’t something that one sheds with age, and you can’t outgrow something you never had in the first place.

This lack of positive parental/familial guidance has been a real shackle on my personal development and is something I continue to work through. But how? It’s awful hard to get adopted when you’re in your 30’s, which left me with a dilemma. I don’t have many strong community ties and the AIDS crisis eliminated most of my chances at having access to a supportive network of elders.

What I do have is my magical practice and a certain narrative malleability with regard to my own life. I am part of a house and legion; the boundaries of my body and self defy scientific materialism. I’m a jumble of metaphors that defy easy classification as figurative or literal. I thrive on ambiguity.
My grandmother and my son were both housecats, and one of my mothers is the sea.
I recently discovered an aspect of the Earth is another maternal figure for me. She appears to me as a Venus of Willendorf-like figure. She is nurturing and full of love, cradle comfort and simple safety. She is not an empowered earth-goddess-mother figure for me as I am neither a woman nor a birth-parent, but a powerful grounding force of warmth, forgiveness and acceptance, and I am loved. Love like being hugged tight and safe, words of wisdom so practical and grounded they are cunning and sly, warm food and solid ground. She asks little in return but goodness, to walk softly and with the bravery to be kind.

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Venus of Willendorf figurine from the Paleolithic era. Photo credit: Wikipedia.

While the Earth provides me a well from which to draw this love, I still lacked a positive fatherly influence. I needed fierce protective love, rationality, teaching through demonstration, expressions of pride and uplifting frameworks. Trust, capability and responsibility. None of the masculine deities/beings I already have an established relationship with fit this role.

Depictions of the sun as a masculine, fatherly figure in real-world mythology aren’t unfamiliar to me but none of them ever struck me as being personally relevant. Luckily for me, practicing chaos/pop culture magic I’m not restricted to the trappings of eclectic witchcraft-I can cast a wider net for inspiration than traditional mythology.

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“The sun is a wondrous body. Like a magnificent father! If only I could be so grossly incandescent.” Solaire from Dark Souls, Namco Bandai Games 2011.

Playing Dark Souls and meeting Solaire of Astora was something of a watershed moment for me. In that simultaneously delicious and maddeningly cryptic way of all Souls series characters, he tells you he has deliberately become a member of the undead in order to undertake a journey to find his own sun. This in turn this reminded me of these two songs by SJ Tucker, featuring the writing of Catherynne M. Valente:

I recommend giving these two tracks a listen, one after the other. Manticore’s lullaby punches me so hard in the feelings I cry every time I hear it. Like Grotteschi, I was denied the exaltations of a good and proper childhood. I’m doing my best to catch up but I’ll carry some wounds forever.

The manticores in this story, naturally, see the sun as a glorious, shining manticore, their father. I adore the fantasy trope of the equivalent of anthropomorphism for creatures that aren’t human.

My favourite forms of pop culture magic are those that can be ported/carried over to our world with a little creativity and tweaking. While manticores exist in the mythology of our world, their depictions are relatively scant. They are nonetheless symbolically important to me with deep personal connections. With this in mind I’ve decided to engage with the sun in the form of a glorious golden manticore, lover of the Upas tree and father of the manticore fruit-and me.

Left to my own devices, I tend to become almost wholly nocturnal, both literally and otherwise. I can be prone to detachment, anhedonia, stagnation and feelings that I do not deserve happiness or pleasure. I do not feast gladly or sink my sharp teeth into offered fruits but decline, cringe, shy away, refuse. It’s not humbleness and piety but a harmful self-flagellation.

Not leaving my cave in the daylight hours has a lot of negative effects for a person prone to depression and withdrawal from the world.
To worship the sun is to tend to my little garden of potted plants; weeding out the oxalis, gently brushing away harmful bugs, to water and prune. To take my vitamin-D pills, as like many pasty Australians worried about skin cancer I’m terrifically deficient. To burn Frankincense, which has a beautiful golden scent, using homemade beeswax tealights.

And lastly; exercise. I’m doughy and unfit and I struggle with various ailments that make sticking to exercise regimes difficult. Lions, and thus also manticores, are fabulously muscled creatures. Making exercise an act of devotion is likely to give me the fortitude to reach the goals that I’ve so far failed to reach or sustain.

I wish to steep my life in magic, to revel in it, to live it.
In the past I’ve taken up running as a way to deal with pent-up anger. While my rage is a renewable resource, I’d prefer to run for joy, satisfaction and glory. From now on I’ll run for the manticore of the sun.