Tuesday, 24 March 2020

On COVID-19 and the new graphic novel...

New look for Sister Penance?

Well, things are getting tight in the city, including the fact that my printer pals have gone on a work hiatus due to the virus scare.  So the comic is going to be delayed (again) before printing... and I am not sure when the book launch will be happening.  I just wanted to make this update, because I had said that it was at the printers, getting prepped... but then 2020 had to pull a dick move and put us all in this situation.  One day, though, that book will be out there for purchase - sorry I delayed it for so long, and then got it in while this was starting up!

I was laid off temporarily from work due to COVID-19, but promised my job back when this blows over.  I receive benefits so at least my basic needs will be met, and I might even get additional compensation because of the relief funds coming.  I am still not letting myself worry, am just living a more cautious, enclosed life, only heading outdoors when I need it.  I must admit, I like a brief stroll when I can get it, for mental health hygiene, but I do so while respecting social distancing, and so far the government hasn't said that's something I should be avoiding.  I already live like a hermit - I am an ambivert, but leaning more towards introversion.  I hope we don't get to a point where I can't do walks anymore, as it makes things more tolerable for me.  Hopefully Canadians who are not respecting social distancing will behave themselves so that others who are can still have rights like this.  I am sure I could find the strength not to go out for walks, but it would still be hard.  Solitary confinement sucks, I have lived it before, and although it would be in my home, cabin fever could set in anyway.

I thought I could concentrate on things other than contemplation again, but I guess my days of doing so are not yet over.  I will continue to explore the soul as this goes on, doing psychic readings, praying the rosary, reciting psalms to get through the pandemic.  It's been a while since I have visited a church, I miss doing that as well.  I haven't cracked yet... the Spirit reassures that I will be able to handle what unfolds.

-Saraƒin

Saturday, 21 March 2020

COVID-19: An inconvenient blessing?

This song is stuck in my head now.

Ok, so things are really starting to get intense with COVID-19, and I am certainly not being flippant about it.  I take precautions with regular hand washing, using sanitizer, a respirator when I step outside (which is up to twice a day, never more than 3 times, never for long, and never for socializing), and latex gloves.  I am obeying instructions about social distancing, and am mostly at home, in my one bedroom.  Thank God, I say to myself, I have a one bedroom, and not a shitty little space in a rooming house anymore!  That would be horrible, especially if I had ongoing pest control problems, or issues like that.  This place is relatively nice, and even though it's small, I can at least go from the living room to the bedroom when I need a change of environment.  A bachelor or single room would get to me with this in effect, even though I have mastered some degree of stillness, and can handle hours of doing absolutely nothing when I do my job at work.

Yet, despite this difficult new normal, I still feel, deep down, COVID-19 is what this world needs right now.  Some stories of animals roaming free as humans hunker down have been discredited, but not all have, and nature seems a bit more relaxed with this going on in the human world - I mean, it must be.  Mother Nature is using tough love measures to dismantle everything that was taking advantage of Her.  Though many currently live in fear and anxiety, I find that a lot of the more spiritually minded people I know are seeing a silver lining in all of this - certainly, some Indigenous elders seem to be chill about it.  Any anxiety I do feel tends to be before bed, a time when anxiety can bother me anyway, and it's all in the head - the head being the region of consciousness that often feeds us lies and worries.  Other parts of me almost feel excited about what might eventually come of the world.

I'm sure some would think I am nuts for feeling that way, and, as I said before, I do not wish to belittle the lives of the poor people who have died from this.  But perhaps these were necessary measures to usher in a new era - to bring natural order from the resulting chaos.  We certainly couldn't continue in the direction we were headed in... our planet has suffered immensely.  So, if capitalism wouldn't listen to Greta, maybe COVID-19 was the answer.  Also, on some metaphysical level, this must be karma shifting and correcting things, this is how the Spirit is presenting to us, so this is a time of hope for me, when I consider everything.  The light shining in the darkness is an outpouring of love and humanity.

I see COVID-19 as a massive social inconvenience, but perhaps a good lesson in getting in touch with our true selves, and I will do my best to weather the storm.  I am a soul accustomed to suffering and tragedy... one year locked away in a mental institution taught me about tolerating quarantine, so at least now I can experience this in my own home.  I joked recently that if things lead to strict lockdown, I may begin to identify as a "cloistered nun".  I am making light of the situation by owning it with style and humour.

I got some painting done again today - I finally began working on my "St. Tommy Wiseau" piece, which might be done in the next few days.  When it is, I will post the final painting.  Who knows, maybe quarantine will be the push I needed to really get back into art!

-Saraƒin

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Thoughts on "The Exorcist", after possession...

I thought that with all this self-quarantining in effect, it meant it was a great time to hunker down with a classic movie, so I pulled my copy of "The Exorcist" from the shelves, and decided I'd give it a watch so I can comment about it in an article.  I hadn't seen this film since before becoming possessed, putting it off due to the concern that it might be upsetting.  But now I am at a point where I felt I could handle it, and having just watched it, it wasn't so bad.  Some thoughts:

First off, I am not sure what possession (an extremely rare but legitimate condition that might be more prevalent in some cultures than others, largely ignored and written off as mental illness in the west) is like for other people, but I never physically got as messed up as Regan here.  I can relate heavily to the component of the film where western medicine fails to understand what is going on, except in my case it was even more infuriating because at least Regan got several specialists on board to try to make sense of her case.  (Also, Regan avoided psychiatric institutionalization, her mother was a rich woman - I have been a poor woman on my own, and I was thrown into an insane asylum.)  In my situation, apart from an EEG that later came in hospital due to violent convulsions, and an MRI when I had a seriously horrible reaction to marijuana that led me to an ER in an ambulance, I never got any kind of PETscan to determine faulty brain chemistry - one particularly infuriating doctor mused that a PETscan could "prove" I was schizophrenic, so when I asked for one to confirm his suspicion, he said it was only for research.  I got the standard, lazy treatment of doctors listening to my case for about ten minutes, and making a clinical decision based solely on their personal opinion.  This medical decision was to change a couple of times, because different doctors meant different ideas about what was going on... because, "science".  All the while, for the longest time, no one cared to hear about my perspective.  So the frustration Regan's mother has with psychiatry is the kind of shit I had to deal with for years - I am not sure how my family felt about it behind my back, but I know it must have been difficult for them as well.

Another thing I can relate to is how this crept over me and became increasingly worse with time.  My behaviour began to go very weird with people, and I wasn't even aware of how odd it seemed.  In this movie, Regan starts by acting slightly strange, they think it's a nerve disorder, and prescribe Ritalin.  It started, in my case, with me accusing people of things I strongly believed about them, acting weird in emails, going off and doing things in the middle of the night, and inventing peculiar rituals.  It was like being in a trance, and I was losing my footing as an ego.  The possession case I had was more like a haunting or spirit obsession until one day, in a room I was renting, the demon entered me through my sacral region and flooded my mind with a horrible sensation as though I was being ripped to shreds by angry bats.  Before this time, I was being playfully manipulated, but also subjugated, so that I couldn't think for myself as easily, and I was under the command of something other than my own mind.  How do I know it was not of my mind?  I can't say, only that I know.  It's not something that can be quantified by any other means except to experience it oneself.

Unlike Regan, I got the sense God was making this easier, for I had reached out to God before this attack on my soul, so God was cushioning it with slight whimsy, to make the experience less painful.  Something to mention from my youth: when I was 14, I had played with a homemade ouija board with other kids in my high school.  Something calling itself "Napoleon" spoke through it, and got us to keep going back to it, under a flight of stairs at the school.  From what I know, none of those other kids were affected, it just wanted to toy with me.  One night, with a neighbourhood kid, it changed its tone with me, saying it was going to kill me, and that's all it would say from that point on.  Then, it said it was in my "black yin piece" necklace, which promptly broke off its chain.  Not having a religious upbringing, and not knowing how to proceed, I stupidly kept that yin piece for many years in a shoebox.  When I felt spiritual problems creeping into my life, I found the yin and tossed it into Lake Ontario.  Shortly thereafter, my soul was under attack from something calling itself "the devil".  I am still trying to make sense of what holding onto that item meant as far as how it affected my life, but perhaps it was causing me depression, self-injury tendencies, and problems at home.  This is the stuff of teen horror movies, isn't it?

Things that didn't happen to me: I never levitated, though a rosary in my hands did at one point.  I didn't vomit or spin my head around, though I had a tendency to claw at myself, and thrash, beat myself, and for this I required hospitalization to keep from seriously damaging myself, or others.  Also, my body would often move on its own.  There were a few weird things that happened with electronics, but nothing truly dramatic.  Nightmares were horrific when they happened, and often implied horrible sexual depravity and abuse, the tone was gritty, as though through a really raw, horrifying filter, and they would shake me awake in terror.  My voice changed to a different tone like Regan's, but maybe only a few times... it got deeper, as though a male's voice.  I felt like I was growing a phallus at one point, there were strange sensations as though my energy field was being played with.  My mind was flooded with visions, some funny, some horrific, some repulsive, some just plain chaotic.  I talked in tongues and I shouted coprolalia... it's possible I spoke in another language at one point, and I suspect it was Aramaic.  There was a creeping sensation throughout my body of irritation and filth, and my senses were in so much agony that this was another reason I would claw at myself, or beat myself to calm down, the tendency to self-injure having already been a pattern in my life.  Thankfully, aside from one suicide attempt in 2012 due to a failure from the medical establishment in stabilizing me, most self-injury was mild, and I don't have permanent marks from it.  It was just bruising and light scratches from my fingernails.  Though I used to be a cutter, I wasn't at the time of possession, and I have scars but not as many as some people I have met.

I kind of reacted to holy water like Regan, though it wasn't as dramatic - I would simply flinch from it, smudge was a bit more dramatic in how the demon would react to it.  If I touched crucifixes, sometimes I would feel an intense electrical burning sensation, but this was only a couple of times.  It was so strange how powerful these reactions could be, it dramatically transformed how I view reality.  The truth really is stranger than fiction.

I know possession cases are extremely rare, so rare that I gather most people don't believe in them, but I know this happened to me.  Thank God I have been able to find ways of getting out of this on my own.  My understanding is that convincing a priest to perform an exorcism requires certain religious protocol, and I wasn't expecting Toronto to exactly be a spiritual epicentre that could provide for something like this.  Life is still about being cautious, I am not feeling 100% free as a mind (though I am dramatically freer now than ever before this began, and not even affected in a dark way, I am just slightly different than I probably should feel, and it keeps getting better).  I really had to fight for my life, tooth and nail.  Many things kept me going... the fear of dying and facing this thing on the other side, the fear of disappointing God and my loved ones, and even the concern of people spreading rumours about me killing myself due to "schizophrenia", later to do something well meaning but equally insulting, like starting a foundation in my name, donating money to CAMH for a disease I didn't even have, CAMH being a place that didn't listen to my perspectives, and locked me in freezing cold isolation cells for days on end.  To me, that would be like pissing on my grave, and I needed to tell my story anyway.

"The Exorcist" still holds up as a classic horror movie, and though I can't relate to all phenomena in it, I enjoyed it.  I think what truly makes this piece disturbing, when it is, is seeing Linda Blair as a young girl saying and doing horrible, provocative things with herself, and imagining a child actor being instructed to do this.  That in itself is very creepy.

-Saraƒin

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Fun with COVID-19: Riding out the pandemic... in style!

I had bought this old cybergoth respirator mask very many years ago from a local goth subculture shop.  I can't recall how much I paid for it, but it was an impulse buy, and the mask was later put away in storage, as I began to shy away from the whole rivethead look with time.  But now, due to COVID-19, I'm rather glad I bought the damn thing, because it means I can go out and about and run my errands while feeling like Tank Girl.  (It needed a repair when I dug it out, but that was nothing a trip to Canadian Tire couldn't fix - I just needed a nut and bolt to reattach one of the straps to the mask.)

People seeing me wear it already want one, and have asked where I bought it, including a girl with a compromised immune system who is very worried about this pandemic.  I am not sure what is happening with the mail system right now, but I wonder if cybergoth is going to make a mild comeback, if people are ordering masks like these, because they are a lot more interesting to look at than wimpy dust or surgical masks.  (BTW, that's a functioning respirator with real cartridges - there's decoration over the filters, which might make breathing slightly more challenging, but the filter is functional, so it's real protection.  People wondered how functional it was - it's real, it just looks like pure novelty.)

As bizarre as this sounds, part of me is very hopeful about this COVID-19 thing.  I feel in my gut that, despite the deaths, this might be exactly what Mother Nature wants... it may even force current systems that are in place to re-examine themselves.  I'm not one who is politically up on everything going on in the world, but in my gut, I am not afraid, I am not the least bit worried.  I am looking out for my needs, being cautious, and staying on top of everything.  Work hours have been cut, but I think things won't get that bad for me.  People in my circles are looking out for one another with supplies, which is a nice demonstration of the heart.  In the mildest of ways, this is like a lame, enforced version of Burning Man, just in that I see people looking out for one another's needs, and this is a bit of a break from the standard day to day reality.

I think one of my next articles will be a re-examination of the classic horror movie, "The Exorcist", which I haven't seen since before demonic possession.  Coming out of the experience, I want to watch this movie again, and write about how I feel about it now.  I have it on DVD, purchased second hand from BMV... I didn't watch it immediately after I bought it, because it is rather hard to watch on a bad day.

-Saraƒin

Sunday, 15 March 2020

A freaky incident with a Jesus prayer candle...

Yikes, sinners - I think God is sending me a very clear sign not to be dabbling in any kind of "spellcraft", and it's powerful!  This made my hair stand on end!

A delightful goth boy who loves all things witchy reached out to people on Facebook and asked that we do what we can spiritually with prayer, magick, and intention to curb the current pandemic.  Seeing as I had a free day, I was in the market and saw inexpensive Jesus prayer candles.  So I bought one and brought it home to do a Christian folk magick spell with it against the worsening of COVID-19, as an experiment.

I set intentions with it through prayer, lit the candle, and as I was reciting a psalm, the flame sizzled out in a spark before I could get that far into the recitation.  I found the wick to be impossible to ignite again, and on the last attempt to do so, a large crack formed in the glass of the prayer candle - a powerful sign that God doesn't want me to engage in this.  I guess any "witchy" experimentation phase I had is now over - the Lord hath spoken.

When I did a psychic reading on it, I got that Jesus says I am simply not to engage in this kind of thing anymore - I am just to pray when I want to enact change, this is not to be a part of my spirituality.  It's not that God was ticked or anything like that, it's simply something I am not to do.  I take signs like this very seriously, after what I have been through.

I will likely still light prayer candles in churches, but no more folk magick.  So, I guess I am a mystic after all, it seems, not a magician.  Either that, or COVID-19 is something I should just not bother combating with things like this, and God is showing me this with a very powerful sign.

-Saraƒin

Saturday, 14 March 2020

My current feelings on this COVID-19 situation...

Everything feels like this right now.

I was just at a local Indian restaurant for lunch, where I discussed the coronavirus with the owner after paying my bill, and we had some laughs over it.  While we agreed that it's wise that precautions be taken to ensure public health and safety, we found some of the attitudes unfortunate that we have encountered in people affected by bans and closures.  One example is the whole toilet paper hoarding thing - some are selling bags of TP on Kijiji for ridiculous prices, trying to cash in on the necessity for these items.  While I don't want to hop on the ageist, ableist bandwagon of saying "it's no big deal - it's only dangerous for the elderly and the compromised", I wish people would relax a little bit.  I, for one, refuse to live in fear, after what I have been through in other areas of my life.

Although some have been a bit peculiar in their attitudes and with all the hoarding (and also with some racism directed at the Chinese, for example), there seems to be a touch of solidarity involved in this as well, which I hope might be a great lesson from this for society.  When I was demonically possessed, I was completely alone in it - no one understood the sorrow I felt, the fear and dread that I might have to kill myself so as not to be a time bomb waiting to go off, the fact that most people brushed it off as schizophrenia and refused to understand what I was dealing with.  This situation, to me, seems more like an interesting lesson rather than something "apocalyptic"... it might, in the end, be a great teacher.  Again, I don't want to dismiss the lives of those who actually have been harmed by the pandemic, but perhaps there is a message in all of this.  I feel there's a sense of community in what is going on, rather than a loneliness, like the one I felt when I was being subjugated by something only I knew was affecting me.

Having lived through one of the worst case scenarios for a human soul and survived, I try to be as optimistic as I can with things, so I take on a sense of hopefulness that we'll figure out how to put all this behind us.  Worrying is never worth it - concern and caution are useful in keeping safe, but worry will just confuse the mind and lead to rash decisions.  I still live with anxiety from time to time, but have been able to curb a lot of it with my spiritual practice.

Hopefully the world finds a vaccine soon, that a solution is discovered - in the meantime, I'm going to wash my hands, wear gloves at work, and stay confident that there might be riches to be found in all of this.

-Saraƒin

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Tarot lap table...

I began to use an old piece of plywood as a lap table on a pillow when doing readings on my couch.  I wanted to decorate it to look nicer than it was, so I painted it and now it has this golden sun on it.  Just a little art project to try and get back into the swing of making things again.

I decided my business card logo was just too scary with the creepy eye over the heart, so I borrowed this sun and pasted it over the old design.  Witches and occultists might have liked the eye heart, but any suburbanite named Karen may have wanted to flee in terror at the sight of it, so I figured something more conventional and friendly than the first design was better.  It looked like, with the first design, I might have been all about omens of death, once I thought about it a bit more.  People aren't usually as odd as I am about design.  (Also - although I am a decent enough illustrator, I know nothing about graphic design, so everything I come up with is a shot in the dark.)

Went thrifting today to see what kinds of Catholic oddness I could come across.  Not much was found on this hunt - I did find an oval shaped piece of the Holy Family, surrounded by seashells, which was tacky enough, but it was almost too much to know what else to do with it, so I didn't get it.  I feel like if I can't figure out within 10 minutes what to do with something, I might never, and so my hunch was to return the piece to the shelves.

My current suspicion is that my third eye, which is clearly open, perhaps never should have been opened, and so now I am focusing my efforts on closing it.  It is my heart centre (also open), not my third eye, which allows me to experience true psychic perception.  Third eye opening is only meant for some people, it seems.  The demon must have opened mine up, not Divinity, so it created a lunacy in me from it, one I need to recover from.  I am hoping a closing of the third eye will mean a quieter mind, less tension headaches, and less anxiety.  At least I feel heart dominant right now - when I was third eye dominant years ago, it was horrible.

-Saraƒin