Sunday, 8 December 2019

"The Two Popes": A papacy buddy movie...


Today I saw this in the theatre with a friend of mine - it was one I had been looking forward to for quite some time.  Though I quite enjoyed it, the tone was not what I expected at all.  I thought from the trailer that this was going to be a serious period piece, but it in fact turned out to be a bit of a dramedy.  That in mind, I still felt it (mostly) worked.

Though a great deal of artistic license was taken in the story, this is based on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI and his relationship to Jorge Bergoglio, the cardinal that would be Pope Francis.  Beautifully shot and expertly cast, the look does not disappoint.  It starts to get really quirky, however, when a rendition of "Dancing Queen" by ABBA plays while the cardinals are entering their chambers to cast ballots for the new Pope - and that's just the tip of the iceberg.  If you can't handle quirkiness in a historical religious movie, you will not like this film.  Sometimes the choices raised even my eyebrows, but in a way I liked how the tone could be rather silly - it was not without a sense of humour, and usually the humour worked.

This is kind of a story about a conservative curmudgeon and a progressive freethinker initially being at odds with one another, ultimately coming to be good friends - so yes, I think of this as a buddy movie.  There are some powerful scenes, though, including flashbacks to Bergoglio's youth, so not all of it is comedy.  It could also be very moving.

I can't for the life of me figure out what the church is going to think of this one - they may like the relaxed tone here because it makes the papacy look slightly friendlier in some ways, or they may find it annoying.  I had to warn my mother, who also wants to see it, to be prepared for the feel not being what the trailer presents, but I think she will still enjoy it.

If anything else, it's something different, and quite entertaining.  Recommended.

-Saraƒin

Saturday, 7 December 2019

Demon at the gay bar...

Some weird shit went down last night for me... hopefully I cleared the issue, but we'll see.  This seems to be something I draw into my life because of something about my presence.  Oh well, let's get into it:

I went to a gay leathermen bar last night for a synthpop event that was being hosted (I had never been to this club before - fairly nice, though not much in the way of seating, and mostly it's for the guys, only a few women were around here and there, but it's welcoming to any gender).  I got the impression a curious spirit was taking an interest in me, which I didn't understand was not a good sign.  I thought it might have just found the spiritual company around me, or something I gave off, fascinating.  Wrong!

Well, this spirit followed me home after I left the event, and began preventing me from sleeping - I kept bursting into laughter as a reaction every time I tried to nod off.  My guide then told me it was negative and that I needed to get out the smudge - I began to feel a dark, creeping feeling in my lower body as it seemed to try to overtake me.  My guide had tried to shoo it away, but the spirit wasn't listening.

I went to my altar and got out the sweetgrass and invoked Metatron to kill it, and used my "Devil, Get Out!" mixture to torment it a little - I also prayed to the Spirit and to St. Michael for assistance.  I took a sleep aid, and after a little while, was able to bed down for the night.

Waking this morning, any sign of it seems to be gone, I think I took care of the problem.  When I did a reading about this, it said some leather daddy in that club was heavily involved with this thing in some occult practice, and the spirit noticed me and decided to mess with me instead.  I didn't know it was a demon until it followed me home.  It wasn't nearly as powerful as the really nasty one I fought for over a decade - this one was small time by comparison.

Maybe I should carry sweetgrass and a lighter with me on my person at all times - sigh.  I was warned negative spirits might be drawn to me again.  But I prayed to the Eastern spirit keeper to be prevented from being invaded again, so that might help.  Never again do I want to experience possession!

-Saraƒin

Friday, 6 December 2019

Let's talk about: Toxic Femininity...

The Sixth Sense - Videotape scene

With all the talk about "toxic masculinity" that is popular right now, I find it frustrating that no one seems to be discussing the feminine equivalent.  As someone who has been harmed by men, I understand the need for the discussion of how toxic masculinity must be stamped out - however, bad feminine traits also exist, and I want to discuss those a bit, as this is a conversation I have had a couple of times with others, where we tried to figure out qualities that could be filed under the negative feminine.

The most classic example of this that I can think of (and probably one of the worst) is the Munchausen syndrome by proxy person, which is demonstrated well in this scene from "The Sixth Sense" by N. Night Shyamalan (back when he could make a film I could stomach).  The Munchausen syndrome by proxy means a parent or caregiver, often a mother, hurts their child or patient to keep them ill, often to promote the need for medical attention, or to simply cause harm - it's a strange kind of poisonous motherly quality that often is seen in old age homes and hospices, especially.  I file this under "toxic femininity" because of the role of being in charge of someone's care being of the more feminine qualities, and it is not restricted to just women, of course... only that it seems women engage in it more than men.  Not as common as most examples of toxic masculinity, but definitely worth discussing.

A more common example of the toxic feminine would be the partner who presents with a gentle facade of sweetness, but underneath this, uses manipulative emotional tactics to get their spouse to do exactly what they want, controlling the situation and hiding behind excuses like, for example, common mental health disorders or addictions, things that would not hold up as an excuse in court if there was a trial for something serious.  Mental disorders such as schizophrenia and sometimes an acute bipolar manic episode mean people who have committed crimes while not well have been legally freed of doing jail time (though not necessarily mental hospital time), and can be excused for certain behaviours, the person not being of a sound enough mind to be criminally responsible.  However, things like certain personality disorders and most mood and anxiety disorders mean the person has enough wherewithal as a mind to control themselves enough not to cross the line, and most never will.  It is a person's responsibility to better oneself mental health wise, despite a diagnosis, and I am tired of the idea of people identifying heavily with psychiatric labelling - not everyone does this of course, but some use mental illness labels as excuses for poor behaviour.  I consider this, also, a form of toxic femininity that any gender can be responsible for, and it seems to be growing in the populous.

These are just two examples, one severe, and one milder and more common, that I can think of when I think of toxic femininity.  I wonder if this subject has or will be discussed at large... I have endured a bit of this sort of energy in my life myself, so I wanted to discuss it here.

-Saraƒin

Thursday, 5 December 2019

The Wolf Medicine Man...

Years ago, during my visionary states, while in trance, I saw some images of a dog mask faced figure who would come and go, whenever dark visions overtook me - the figure would push the visions aside and ask that I work with him.  I also later randomly saw a vision of a wolf headed man appear, but I never pieced together until yesterday what these visions might have been saying.  Turns out I have had a wolf medicine man following me around as a spirit guide, and I had to learn to invoke his aid.  I did so last night after I got home from a round of karaoke.

I am still coming to understand this new connection, so there's not much to say right now, only that I gather he is helping me to heal.  My soul is still weary from the fight with the demon and the initiation, and I need rest, mostly... but any help from the spirit world is going to help me to recover faster.  My body is feeling stronger thanks to a better diet and vegetable supplements, but I still need a lot of sleep and downtime... hence why I am not pursuing any major career moves right now.  I am trying to make my life about fun, rest, and more socializing - something I couldn't do that much of for a very long time, feeling that humanity didn't like me anymore.

This new connection seems to be changing the flow of the channel again, making it easier to read... I will see where this goes.  I got the impression for many years that "a friend" was with me, but I didn't know who this was.  So it seems I have finally figured this out.  Certainly, I have had ancestors and friends from life visit... this is a friend I never knew I had until yesterday.

-Saraƒin

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Focusing on Native American spiritual practice, and why I am not so keen on certain cultural appropriation arguments...

So now that I have worked extensively on my growth with the more esoteric Catholic kind of devotion, I am exploring tobacco and other plant medicines, as I have discussed recently.  My spirituality is a bit of a hodge podge, and though I do have a tendency to want to label myself (as is human nature) I sometimes need to focus on components of other paths that have worked for me as well.

This book, "Dancing with the Wheel" by Sun Bear, is a wonderful guide on how to pursue practice in Indigenous based spirituality.  I had a copy, but lost it, and had to get another copy a couple years back.  Now that things are moving forward with usage of tobacco for prayer, I am once again turning to this book for ceremonial use of this plant.  There is quite a bit of information about plant medicine and other methods of practice and tools, and I have not read this cover to cover, but I refer to it on and off, more so as of late.  Using tobacco, I am focusing on opening more to the Creator, and in working with the spirit keepers of the Four Directions, because of their attributes and how they might aid me in healing and growth.  Eagle was showing up a lot as a vision, I came to assume it indicated a need to work with the Eastern spirit keeper, so I began with that, and today I started to consider the other directions.  I used tobacco as an offering on a burning charcoal and made requests based on the attributes these keepers might be able to help me with.  Now I wait to see how things move forward.  Just an update.

I wanted to briefly discuss the concept of cultural appropriation on here, something I assume I am bound to be accused of again and again because of my interest and workings with this branch of spirituality.  First off, I want to mention that every elder I have talked to encourages my exploration of indigenous spiritual practice, and none have deemed me using smudge or tobacco the way I have offensive or appropriative.  Maybe I was appropriating tobacco when I was smoking it recreationally, but not anymore.  Secondly, this medicine has made a significant change in my health (sweetgrass and tobacco, mainly), I know it has worked, so this is not for some angry "activist" to decide whether or not I should use it, this is something the gods want me to use.  I do have a bit of ancestry that is native on my Mom's side (I think it's Cree), not strong enough for me to be considered Metis, but that's really not the point.  If this kind of spirituality is not some fad for me, if it serves a purpose and fulfills a need, is this truly worth criticizing simply because I am (mostly) white?  I kind of feel that cultural appropriation becomes a problem when it does harm, and when there is ill intent involved, but if something is done in a positive manner, I don't see it as particularly offensive.  Perhaps there are other components to consider, and I can't speak on a native person's behalf, only that the First Nations people I talk to see no problem with my approach when they understand it.  I don't even see the German obsession with native culture as harmful, even if they look funny about it.  They love it so much they want to experience it, and though they don't get it quite right, I have heard that a lot of elders have smiled at how they want to explore it, and often fall short.  (BTW, Germans are often to Native American spirituality as the Japanese are to "Anne of Green Gables", if you want some idea of this obsession.)

So I get that it's a touchy subject, but I also, as a person with an intense call to explore several components of spirituality (and a need to do so), feel I should be allowed to practice without criticism, and it shouldn't ever come down to race, no matter what race it is.  I hope to one day meet an elder / medicine person who might be a close guide... I know some, but I don't have a regular teacher in that regard as of yet.

-Saraƒin

UPDATE: I am gathering that I am meant to focus on the Eastern spirit keeper, that the others won't necessarily work with me.  So Eagle shall be my focus from this point on in this respect.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

My desire to be Holy -or- "It's not a PHASE, Mom and Dad!"...

Since developing spiritually after what came of me with my religious problems, after reaching a certain level of growth, I have a driving urge to pursue the holy life, but perhaps in a way that works for my character, the personality of an alternative art chick.  As I have mentioned before, I am likely not suited for the monastic life, though I like to stay in convents from time to time to take in the atmosphere... I still desire to see the world through the eyes of a saint.  I am not calling myself a saint right now, only that I aspire to be one, or to get as close to saintliness as possible.  I want their joys, their religious highs, their insights, their power... I want to see goodness where others can't, I want to be at peace with the way things are, no matter how hard things get.

I saw in 2006 a damned world approaching, or at least a troubled one, and I knew that at the level I was at during that time, I would not survive as a mind.  Pursuing the typical western capitalist thing just didn't seem as appealing a lifestyle as it might have at one time... my old pursuits seemed hollow and dissatisfying, and any art I could create wouldn't mean much in the grand scheme of things without the self awareness I would need to make it strong.  Clearly, I needed to grow, and this became extremely evident as soon as I was spiritually attacked.  So, it wasn't mere desire, but also the necessity that I commit to a kind of holy life, where I could put my relationship with Divinity at the forefront of my pursuits, making the strengthening of that my main goal.

Most, I don't think, understand this kind of drive - some may be curious, but they don't give it enough attention, others try to force it but feel nothing in the process.  The drive has led to me almost obsessing, but I feel this is an example of good obsession.  My analyst often says obsession that is positive is actually a good thing - a surgeon who obsesses about details is infinitely better than one who skirts them during a procedure, for example.  I take great pleasure in my work with Spirit, it is a joy and a simple & inexpensive pastime that leads to healthy results in my character building and personal strength.  I now suffer extremely well in life, so as a result, I suffer much less when I must face suffering.  Complaining about pain does not take it away, it may be validating for a while, but it does nothing to remove it.  So, I choose to find ways to adapt and grow from the suffrage, so I don't experience it the same way anymore.

This is not to say I don't have weak moments, only that I have learned when to have them, and I do so behind closed doors, away from others.  I feel that sharing these moments alone with the Spirit means I don't regret the outbursts as much as I would among my peers, plus I can receive guidance out of my negativity from the Spirit.  I am not slamming others for sharing their pains online or in public, only that I have come to learn that in myself I no longer wish to do this... I feel more comfortable expressing these pains alone, or perhaps with my therapist, or maybe a close family member once in a while.  I do sometimes discuss issues with a close friend, but I always try to be constructive in the conversation, and lessen negativity where I can.  Better conduct in my relations lessens my anxiety and frustrations, and it really dropped after I refused to give online arguments my attention.

I have come to learn to hold my tongue where I might not have in the past, especially when it comes to opinions about certain things, even if I have some kind of authority based on my experiences.  Many things are for people to come to understand on their own, and that is up to them to figure out in a way that suits them.  So, it is best that I be supportive, not preachy - if someone desires my opinion, I may suggest things, but I do not have the right to force ideas on others, and I find some attitudes that are common on the web rather frustrating when this sort of thing happens.  I can set a good example and focus on being a positive presence in the world... if I move people in the process, that's wonderful, but my journey is not their journey, and they, ultimately, are their own journey's authority.

I suppose that after a certain point, in any seeker's life, this kind of drive comes with ease.  It's rather like how making graphic novels became easier after a certain page count - it becomes sort of second nature.  Like anything in life, it just takes devotion.

-Saraƒin

Monday, 2 December 2019

Reasons I am still finding it hard to make art...

Finishing "Asylum Squad" was a bit of a struggle for me.  It shouldn't have been, once I was in the homestretch I was amazed at how hard it was to complete the damn thing.  But I finally did - actually, I just reread the entire plot the other day, and I think it reads well straight through.  I am satisfied I made this comic, but I am not sure I can do another series yet... any art at all seems a struggle.  I made that Hallowe'en costume, but that was for a special occasion, and Hallowe'en always gets me excited about costuming.  Yet even painting has been something I haven't been able to get back into, even though I want to paint Tommy Wiseau as a patron saint.  So why the dry spell?

One reason is because, after a project of the size that "Asylum Squad" was, I need a hiatus, even if it's going to last indefinitely.  I just don't have any projects inspiring enough to start anything new, and I don't even want to do commissions for anyone.  Going to the Toronto Comic Jam has been less desirable, and I barely pick up a pen except to make note of something, or do spirit writing.  If I have any career in art at all, it's on hold, and I am focusing more on the possibility of becoming a professional psychic.  Some have suggested I design my own deck of tarot cards, but that seems like such an art school student cliche... plus, I am graduating from using tarot and oracle decks when I read.  So no... I doubt I will do that.  It's been done to death, my deck would just get lost in a sea of other decks.

The other reason, perhaps the main (and more tragic) reason is because of the impact of my father's death.  My Dad had some rather unfortunate "words of wisdom" about quitting comics for me back when I was working on "The Psychosis Diaries" - he saw that book as "self indulgent" and told me to quit this form of art because he said I had yet to succeed in what I was doing, so it was bound to fail.  He was a man who only liked cartoons in "The New Yorker", but hated all other cartoons, and would often, though not always, talk down to the idea of me being a cartoonist.  I am not so much miffed that he said these things as I am affected by his words, and now I don't find cartooning fun anymore.  Kind of like a "you were right, Dad" kind of thing... I just don't get the same level of joy from drawing and cartooning that I once did, which set in around the time he was in palliative care.  I kind of think the only thing that could bring my lost love of art back would be a major career opportunity... otherwise, I might be a hobbyist who does this sort of thing once in a while from now on, and nothing more.  It's possible a renewed love could come, but it's been two and a half years since Dad died, and I am still completely bankrupt in this respect.

Though I don't feel like I can do much in the way of art right now, I do have a drive to write - hence this blog.  I want to tell my real story, I want to explore who I am and what I am becoming.  I may take this writing down one day when I am done, but for now I want to see how things develop, and explore that.  I am not sure what people think of this page, but I feel the need to keep working on it regardless.

I keep getting a premonition (that I hope isn't just psychic nonsense) of a golden, 10 of Pentacles opportunity on the horizon.  Not sure what to make of it, only that it has come through quite a few times.  In the meantime, I shall aspire to think like St. Francis of Assisi and try to love lady poverty... it seems easier than making it as an artist in the big leagues in this city.

Speaking of St. Francis, seeing as Christmas is approaching, here's a fun fact: he invented the Nativity Scene, which makes perfect sense considering the animals surrounding the manger, St. Francis being a mighty animal lover.  I didn't know this until recent times.

-Saraƒin

Sunday, 1 December 2019

"In Solidarity" inks...

So here are the inks for the next cover - the collected book is to be called "Asylum Squad: (The Complete!) In Solidarity", or perhaps I will just call it "Asylum Squad: In Solidarity", as there will only be one book of this portion of the story.  I am going to likely get around to colouring this cover on my computer soon, and I will then proceed with all the inner workings for the graphic design before putting the files together to get to my printers.  They graciously do all the In Design work for me, as I don't know how to do that, so it takes time for that to get done.  So I expect a spring release book launch for this novel.

For this cover, I decided on a montage of characters from this part of the story.  Trish Adams and Josh Lyon made the cut, as did our protagonist Liz Madder (of course), the other members of Squad, and Armananstantanu.  I did not include Anaya Gupta on here because she's kind of a spoiler - the Squad isn't, because it's presumed that they get back together anyway, because of how the story is structured.  The tower of St. Dymphna's Psychiatric Hospital is also here, to suggest a return.  I think I will have a kind of evening lighting to this cover, and I want the moon visible at the top, which I will add later.

Often my comic is compared to that Zach Snyder film, "Sucker Punch", which makes my eyes roll back in my head so far I can see my brain stem.  That movie was basically a music video trying to be a video game, and I was stunned that something so over the top and pretty could be so dull.  Yes, there are some mild similarities, but I actually think that parts of my comic in some ways are more like "Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors", a much more fun piece of camp.  Also, those elements of the comic came before "Sucker Punch", so it's not ripping that movie off, and I must have unconsciously included like elements of the latter film because I didn't even see that until after "The Jung Ones" arc was completed.  I like to think of it as its own thing - certainly it has elements that are similar to other pieces in it, but it's like those elements were mixed in a blender to create a new flavour.  There are enough mental health related comics out there, but very few talk back to the status quo of how we frame what we call mental illness, and about how messed up the psychiatric system is right now.

Maybe "Asylum Squad" came out at a time when people were not ready for these kinds of ideas... maybe I am ahead of my time, I am not sure.  It would be cool if it had been a bigger hit... then again, I shy away from promoting myself, I feel arrogant in doing so.  Fame is also rather daunting when it goes sour.

-Saraƒin