Upcoming Creative Projects

I have A LOT of personal stuff going on in the next few months. I have been working hard, sometimes overtime (plus a long commute), trying to get my own apartment, and preparing for some new steps to be taken on my educational and professional journey. That said, I don’t know how much time (or funds) will be left over for fun creative projects, but I’m hoping that at least a handful of my many ideas can manifest within the next year or so. I wanted to share with you all some of the ideas I have had lately:

1. First of all, I plan to participate in NaNoWriMo next month, so that will be a test of my time management skills and perseverance for sure. The challenge is to write 50,000 words of an original work of fiction as the first draft of a novel. I have characters, a setting, and a trigger event. Beyond that, I have no specific direction that the story will go, it will depend on the decisions the characters make and how the world events fall into place, so it will be a fun journey even for me. I will be posting updates along the way.

2. I have been editing and adding to my book of magic – a long-term project to create a sort of guidebook for an eclectic, inclusive, scientific-religious-philosophical worldview and magical practice based on my own spiritual beliefs and lifestyle (not to be published, just for my own personal benefit and to pass down to my children) – which has been really uplifting and relaxing to me lately. I want to continue this project by experimenting more with natural ingredients and creating more magical crafts. I will begin a new journal soon, so this will be a helpful tool. I have also thought about hosting workshops in which friends gather to discuss their own spirituality, make crafts, and participate in group rituals. (But first I need a space in which to host these events and money for materials).

3. I have five or six albums I want to record – the songs are written and I know which ones go together, it’s just a matter of having the money for studio time (and the time for studio time). In particular, though, I want to create an EP of the six most recent songs I wrote (excluding a short, personal one), several of which have not been heard more than once by anyone. These songs are very good representations of my music and the direction my writing has taken recently (despite a terrible bout of writer’s block that I’m still struggling with). I think this would be the perfect little collection to pull Alice In Space out of her musical hiatus, once I’m able to make it happen.

4. I want to make dolls. This has been on my mind for a long time, and I don’t know when it will actually happen since I don’t know the first thing about making dolls, but I have the characters in my mind and eventually there will be dolls.

5. I  have a very special project that I have already begun but which requires a lot more work before it can be revealed. It is a storytelling project involving writing, art, and possibly music. It will probably rise up pretty high on my priority list come the new year, once the other more immediate priorities have been dealt with.

6. I love the idea of starting a little comic strip featuring my plush toys in which they journey through space searching for treasure. This was inspired by Steven Universe, and I don’t think it would be very difficult to do one or two little doodles a week.

7. In general, I want to do more arts and crafts – more drawing, painting, sculpting, sewing, scrapbooking, cooking, potion-making, etc. Part of this is because the “very special project” mentioned above requires a lot of art which I feel I don’t currently have the skill to produce in the way I imagine it, so I want to practice and build up to it. Also, I feel like I haven’t truly been able to express myself openly for about a year now, as I’ve been flying around (or “falling with style” you might say), and doing a lot of consuming – listening to other people’s stories, gathering information, reading – and now that I am a little more grounded I feel the urge to “unpack” and let some of this inner stuff out so it can be untangled and woven into something beautiful.

So there you have it. Those are just a few of my ideas, and only the creative ones not including all the intellectual or research-based projects or any of the other skill-based life improvements I want to make. If you read this and you want to talk with me more about any of these, please send me a message on facebook.com/alicedaisyspace or email me at alicedaisyspace@gmail.com!

 

 

 

 

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What I’ve Been Saying All Along

Occasionally, I post something on Facebook born from the marriage of frustration and hope. Most of these are inspired by socio-political events or the general political atmosphere. I have collected several of them below.

I am not a perfect example of practicing what I preach. I make mistakes. I can be prideful and judgmental, and I’m not the purist environmentalist out there. But I continually strive for improvement. I want to understand the reasons I choose to live the way I do — how my priorities accord with my values. I have friends who have called me out along the way, and I’m grateful for that, even if it means working a little harder sometimes. Still, these excerpts do a good job of  exemplifying my values and my approach to societal and political issues.

January 4, 2015
Progress does not always mean more. Progress means better. Growth is evolution, transformation. Let us improve towards efficiency. Let us adjust to the inevitable evolution of society and the ecosystem. Let us strive for balance amidst an ever-changing world, and let us become stronger with every step.

August 24, 2015
I think it is amazing and magical that a human being, for no particular or logical reason, can develop such an incredible love for another creature simply by becoming aware of its existence and realizing the value its life brings to the world. That is how I feel about the creatures who live where I work, a few of them in particular. If a human can feel that about another species, can we feel the same thing for other humans? And more importantly, how can we express this feeling in acts of compassion for the lives around us?

August 26, 2015
We all have so much rage inside of us. So much jealousy, resentment, anger, and pride. We desire, we judge, we consume, we criticize, whether based on truth or assumptions. I do it too. That’s why I play music. Turn it to creation, make it something beautiful. Practice acceptance and embrace emotions, all of them, while choosing to act with compassion for others. Because we need to stop fighting. Turn it to love, and realize that it’s all love to begin with, in some strange form or another. In my childhood, and in life, I learned forgiveness, I learned reflection, I practiced creativity, analysis, compromise. In society, in culture, in your own home. We are all connected. Let’s find the center, be the circle, strive for balance, and live in harmony.

October 5, 2015
Everyone has their own beliefs, values, opinions, preferences, and priorities. Each individual, let alone community, has a distinct idea about how the world *should* be, if they have even thought about it at all. And most likely they are all going to be a little bit, if not very, different. Hence the varying candidates within a party and the various people who support one of the other for whatever reason. The key is to cultivate, among the entire nation, a society that can function as effectively as possible while taking all of those values into consideration. Not everyone can get everything that they want while living amongst people with different values and priorities, but if we can be open-minded, understanding, and supportive, we don’t have to lose everything either.

I will add that, as people on Earth, we are all in this together.

June 12, 2016
What do terrorist do? They spread terror. They give people reasons to be afraid. Afraid to go to work, afraid to go to school, afraid to go to the movies, afraid to go out dancing. Afraid to be themselves and to do the things in life that they feel good about because they never know when someone might take that life away in a matter of seconds.

Why do terrorists terrorize? Perhaps because they are afraid. Afraid of not being loved. Afraid of not being accepted by their family or by God. Afraid that the world they believe in will never come to be. Afraid that those who are different from them, or who do not share this belief will keep the world from being as they imagine. That is what terror is.

So can we all just… not be afraid for a minute? Can we all just realize that there are people out their who are hurting right now, because they lost their brother or their daughter or their father or their friend, or because they feel misunderstood and angry. And let us not pretend we can figure them out or know how they feel, and let us not be angry at them. That is how terror wins. Please. Can we just love for a minute. Please.

November 11, 2016
(In response to an article entitled “Dear White People, Stop Saying Everything Will Be OK”)
This was the most disturbing thing for me: that so many people in this country supported a campaign driven by hatred, discrimination, and fear. And I know that Clinton got more popular votes, and I know that a lot of non-whites voted for Trump, but there are significant numbers of people all across the country who voted in accordance with this agenda, whether they personally supported these ideals or just chose to ignore how it may affect people — how it already has. And that is appalling to me, that we are not only divided as a people but that there are so many fundamental issues being ignored.

November 11, 2016
Calling someone a racist for making a racist comment is not name-calling. It’s letting this person know that their comment implicates negativity toward a group of people that have historically been discriminated against. Racial minorities that have dealt with prejudice for decades, centuries, are not trying to collectively overthrow or seek revenge on those in power who have consistently viewed, spoken to, or acted upon them as lesser. They are trying to be heard, to speak out against prejudice and for equality. They are trying to let people know that racism is real, it affects people daily in subtle and extreme ways, and that it has to stop.

January 30, 2017
In a society driven by capitalism, something every one of you can pay attention to on a daily basis is how you are spending your money. Forget taxes for a moment… what are YOU CHOOSING to buy?
What companies do you support by buying their products?
What industries do you promote?
Do you shop from corporations or small businesses?
Are you buying pasture-raised meat?
Is your makeup tested on animals?
How much of what you buy contains petroleum?
Where were your clothes manufactured?
Is that item really going to make your life better? Easier? At what cost?
Do you EVER donate to organizations working for what you believe in?

Ask yourself these questions. This is one way that we can enact positive change. Not the only way, but in this world it’s something.

Scientific Witchcraft

There are many different forms of witchcraft: shamanism, voodoo, black magic, white magic, kitchen witchery, et cetera. As I wandered forward on my eclectic spiritual path, I came up with a method of coming up with a method for how to personalize and effectively utilize magic. I call it Scientific Witchcraft, and yes I made it up.

Scientific Witchcraft is the practice of using scientific processes for magical results. This means using observation, experimentation, and analysis. While sometimes this may include making hypotheses and testing results, more often it means using the knowledge gained through experimentation to create magic for specific purposes. In this way, it is more of a technology than a science. In fact, it is not a science at all in the true sense of the word (hence why the word “scientific” is used as an adjective to describe witchcraft and not the other way around). It is a magical art – it just takes a more scientific approach than other more spiritual or myth-based approaches. Yet it still has to do with magical results rather than physical results.

In order to understand this, we must distinguish between magical results and physical results. First of all, let me delve a little deeper into the word magic. As stated in a previous blog post, my version of magic is defined as 1) the invisible and ineffable source of energy in the universe; 2) the conscious mental, emotional, and spiritual engagement with the flow of various forms of energy; and 3) the process by which a person, creature, or thing can intentionally influence or be influenced by these energies in a physical or psychological manner.

The first definition is a bit abstract and requires a more in depth examination involving quantum physics, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy, which I am not going to get into here. But if we can accept this definition as somehow true, then let us focus instead on the second and third definitions. A very basic way to understand these is to compare “magic” to “imagination”. Imagination is the formation of new thoughts, ideas, or associations (whether based on memories and sensations already experienced or born anew from the void) that are not immediately experienced by the senses. This is basically where magic, as we understand it, begins. It is the ability to imagine that something could be real and then use certain energies within nature in order to make it so. Sometimes this requires more imagination, more belief. Other times it requires specific materials and actions. Often it is a combination of both.

Now that we have a basic understanding of magic, let’s get back to distinguishing between physical and magical results. A physical result is the product of a combination or reaction of physical elements. A magical result is the situational outcome of the intermingling of various energies. For example, a physical result is soup when you cook vegetables in hot water for a long time. It is the chemical reactions within your body when you consume the soup that allow nutrients to disperse throughout your body and into your cells. In contrast, a magical result is the feeling of comfort that the soup has on your psyche. It is influence that the soup has on your overall health even days and weeks after you eat it. Psychology is really what connects the spiritual realm to the physical realm, because it allows magical and spiritual ideas and emotions (remember: imagination) to manifest physically.

Human psychology is very complex and individualistic. Some people feel more relaxed when listening to music while others feel more relaxed with silence. Some people are overstimulated more easily than others. Some people believe that symbols are arbitrary and useless and that illusions should be shed to reveal true reality, while others believe that rituals and stories (which are essentially symbols in action) can help us to connect more deeply with nature and our true selves.

Scientific Witchcraft is also very individualistic, as it is a process that the individual enacts in order to better understand oneself with respect to the universe. It is the constant learning, the trial and error, and the eventual application of knowledge and wisdom within one’s life. It is based on nature and fueled by love.

Just a moment ago, as I was writing this, my brother sat on the sofa, mentally and physically drained. He wanted to get up and do something productive, but decided that making coffee first would help to give him more energy. If he left it at that, he could have just made the coffee, his body waking up from the caffeine with no overt magical reaction occurring. (I would argue that even this is magical in its own way, but I won’t get into that as it is more clearly physical.) However, before he got up, he gently pet his dog and touched his forehead to hers, requesting that she bestow some of her vibrant energy onto him so that he could have the motivation to get off the sofa in the first place. Besides the potential “happy” chemicals in his brain as he made contact with a creature he loved, this verbal plea combined with the act of their two foreheads touching had no direct physical function to help energize his body, and yet this little spell did help him achieve the motivation to get up. He probably would have gotten up anyway, but this ritual added a boost that probably made the following activities less painful and more fulfilling, because they weren’t just for him, they were because of her.

That is what everyday magic is – using the properties of natural elements and beings for your mental, emotional, and/or physical benefit so that the results, otherwise mundane, will be charged with more of whatever energies go into them. Behaviors will be more aligned with goals, actions will be more effective, thoughts will be more focused, and life will be more enjoyable. Scientific Witchcraft is the conscious practice of learning about the best methods for each individual to achieve this within his or her or their own life, as a body within a universe and a universe made up of cells. It the process of experimentation and modification for the purpose of yielding certain results. It is also the active cultivation of a mindset that enhances awareness of oneself, and the active creation of an environment that enhances the flow of energy through the universe in harmony with everything else. It is the alignment of these, combined, intertwined, ever growing and evolving.

 

Note: I realize that most serious witchcraft is approached very much like the above, with experimentation, trial and error. I think the difference has more to do with the combination of magical properties and physical properties, not just within a ritual but within the function of the spell itself. I will get more into this concept later on.

 

Opening Up to Politics

I try not to get too political online for multiple reasons, but for months now I have felt a shift coming.

I always want to make sure I am listening to all sides of any argument. I believe that terrorism is born from feelings of oppression, and that the solution is not to shoot down the terrorists but to stop the oppression. However, in some cases this oppression is an illusion. What is feared is challenge to the status quo, challenge to what certain groups of people have been taught to believe is their entitlement (even at the expense of others, whether they realize this or not). Again, the solution is not to shoot these people down, it’s to shatter this illusion.

Right now we are facing many major disagreements as a nation. I see multiple sides calling the other sides wrong, and truly believing this. It is so hard to make others see your truth when they are so determined to make you see theirs. I used to think that everything could be true depending on your perspective, and while perspective does influence personal reality, it does not mean that, societally, this reality is just as correct as the one we collectively share.

I don’t want to ignore or rebuke someone’s beliefs, especially since these beliefs are what may be causing such hatred within and violence without. I do want to address them: What are the people I disagree with actually feeling? Why do they feel this way? How can I explain to them that they don’t have to feel this way, if only they shifted their perspective? That way, hopefully, no one would need to resort to violence. But then, I may not be able to convince them after all, just as they will not be able to convince me. We may just keep clashing until eventually someone gets hurt.

Opinions are valid to the extent that the person possessing them has a right to have an opinion. That doesn’t mean this opinion, or even the belief upon which it stands, is valid within the larger societal sphere. As a species, there are certain biological necessities for survival, but as a people there are other more intricate moral necessities that allow us to not only exist but to evolve culturally. These are what all people need to be aware of, to discuss, and to implement.

I want to be someone who listens to all sides, and who tries to understand, but I am realizing that ths is not enough. Listening and understanding are useless if I am not then applying this knowledge to help people, to take a stand and be able to defend it. I’m not going to stop listening, but I am going to start speaking up.

I always prefer to promote what I believe in rather than oppose what I disagree with – feeding the positive rather than dwelling in the negative. But you need both to have balance, and I am starting to understand that when it comes to politics. So from now on, I am going to do both, starting with this:

I oppose racism.
I oppose violence.
I support gender equality.
I support creative expression.
I oppose persecution.
I oppose the exploitation of people for financial gain.
I support the rights of people of color.
I support the rights of trans people.
I support the wellbeing of immigrants and refugees.
I support the protection of wildlife and wilderness spaces.

 

This is not a final statement, it is only the beginning. If you oppose something I support or support something I oppose, let’s talk – explain it to me. If you think I am being hypocritical at any time, let’s talk – show me. I’m open. I try to be as open as I can, so I’m no longer going to keep my mouth shut.

I am a woman, a United States citizen of Mexican, Native American, and European descent. I am a pagan. I am an artist. I am human. I love the United States for its many cultures, its art and literature, its colorful cities, and its beautiful land. But my loyalty to this country as a country is NOT as important as my loyalty to actual people, actual animals, and the actual world.

 

In Honor of Monkeys

One of my biggest pet peeves is when I hear someone refer to a chimpanzee as a monkey. It happens in movies, TV shows, books, and in life. It is rarely used as an intentional misrepresentation for ironic effect – most people are actually equating chimps to monkeys, which they are not. Chimps are apes, as are gorillas, orangutans, gibbons, and humans. This is a separate category.

Now, technically these categories were decided upon by humans (based on scientific processes), but there is genetic merit to them. All the apes mentioned above are more closely related to each other than any of them are to monkeys. Although there are hundreds of monkey species, all of these are more closely related to each other than any of them are to apes. These categories are fluid and there are still apparent “missing links” in genetic ancestry, but there is overwhelming evidence to denote that the taxonomic relationships in place are valid.

I think that many people actually realize this. Perhaps they call chimps monkeys out of pure cynical laziness. I think more often people just lump all non-human primates together into this perceived sub-human category. In either case, the error is inexcusable.

Another thing I hear sometimes is a person calling other people monkeys. This is used as a derogatory statement emphasizing the lack of intelligence that many people exhibit, similar to calling people “sheep” for being ignorant and easily manipulated followers.

What bothers me most about this is not its insult to humans, but its unfairness to monkeys. By claiming that humans who appear unintelligent or less evolved than they should be and equating this to being monkey-like is as unjustified as saying that humans evolved from monkeys. This makes humans out to be more evolved than monkeys when the truth is that both humans and each species of monkey are in a continuous state of evolution (albeit each at their own pace based on genetic and environmental factors). While apes did evolve from catarrhines, they did not evolve from modern-day catarrhines (Old World monkeys) but a common ancestor.

Each species of monkey has its own level of intelligence necessary to its survival, and this will either evolve as needed or lead to extinction in time. Such is true for every species. It’s okay to compare humans to monkeys in an intellectual and even philosophical manner. There are many lessons that we can learn and information that we can obtain by studying our primate cousins. But if we continue to view them as inferior versions of us or to view ourselves as (sometimes) superior versions of them, we’re not doing justice to anybody.

So in honor of monkeys, I will correct this verbal misdeed any time I hear it.

 

Defining Magic

There are many words in the English language that have multiple meanings depending on who is using them and in what context. One of the most ambivalent of these words is magic.

There are many definitions of the word magic, some of which have to do with tricks and illusions, others that have to do with apparently supernatural forces, and others that involve psychological or emotional experiences. I want to talk a little about all of these, how they are related, and how they are all essentially true.

The magic of magic tricks is basically a choreographed performance that creates the illusion that something unusual or even impossible is happening. What is actually happening is quite logical and well known to the performers. If seen from a different angle or from a wider focal point, the illusion ceases. This is similar to the idea of supernatural magic, because the word supernatural itself means anything that cannot be explained by the laws of nature, or that which is beyond nature, and therefore outside of our focal point.

From a scientific perspective, everything in the known universe is inherently natural and therefore abides by natural laws. We may not know or understand all of these laws, nor every aspect of nature, but just because we don’t understand it does not mean it is beyond nature or unnatural. So if we were to pair the concept of magic with science, then supernatural magic is basically another kind of illusion – not on a stage hidden by a performer, but in the universe hidden by our current limitations within the realm of scientific discovery and understanding. Perhaps what occurs when people witness strange and seemingly supernatural phenomena actually does have a scientific explanation, but we just don’t know what that is yet. Some people argue that in many cases these are illusions created by our own minds.

The human mind is incredibly powerful. Our brains are quite large relative to our body size, and we have evolved both biologically and culturally in very complex ways throughout the lifetime of our species. Many studies have been done on the impacts of thought and emotion on our physical bodies. This idea has also been practiced by spiritualists for millennia in the form of meditation, exercise, and healing. So although we still do not understand everything about the human brain and how it works to impact our thoughts, feelings, and even our bodies, we know that in many ways it can and does. We also know that each person’s perception is individualized based on nature (genetics) and nurture (social and environmental factors).

With this in mind, it is plausible that when a person witnesses or experiences a seemingly supernatural phenomenon, they are really either creating it within their own minds for some psychological benefit, or they are interpreting a more natural phenomenon as magical, again most likely for some psychological benefit. Whether this is a benefit solely for the individual or a capability that has evolved within humans for the survival of the species as a whole is a debate which I won’t get into at this time. What I do want to emphasize is that many people, regardless of their religious backgrounds or philosophical ideologies, have confessed to feelings of delight at the wonder and excitement of “magical” experiences.

This was not always the case, however. Historically, magic has been seen as the cause of havoc within certain societies. In some it is viewed as the work of demons or the Devil itself. In others it is the unnatural work of malevolent sorcerers and witches. Most modern witches profess that magic is really just a greater understanding of nature and using natural energies to attain particular goals. These contrasting ideas lead to a religious, philosophical, and scientific discussion which I don’t have time for here. The point is that magic has been viewed throughout history as all sorts of things – natural and unnatural, beneficial and malicious, a force that occurs on its own and an action that someone can perform, something which exists throughout the entire universe and an illusion which is created within our own minds. With so many contradictory definitions, how do we practically utilize such a word?

I will explore this topic in more detail in future essays, but for now I want to offer a simplified and broad definition which encompasses as much as possible: Magic is the invisible and ineffable source of energy in the universe; the conscious mental, emotional, and spiritual engagement with the flow of various forms of energy; and the process by which a person, creature, or thing can intentionally influence or be influenced by these energies in a physical or psychological manner. The idea of  consciousness and intent is one that I will elaborate on in future essays, and I may modify or add to this definition at some point, but it sets the groundwork for several subjects I want to write about that have to do with magic and magic-doing.

Arrivederci!

Just Friends

I’ve found that when it comes to men and women, and perhaps everything in between and otherwise, friendship is highly underrated. Several of my friendships have ended because the other person wanted a romantic relationship and I didn’t. They called this “more” and wouldn’t settle for just friendship. It was all or nothing, and they were the ones to cut it off in the end. (Shout out to the friends that didn’t scram when this happened. I love you guys.)

But is romance really “more”? I mean, you could say that a relationship is a friendship plus romance and sexual intimacy, making it “more” than just a friendship. But I’ve had friendships with hints of romance, and I’ve had friendships where physical affection was given with understanding of its intent. More importantly, I’ve had friendships that have been stronger and lasted longer than any of my romantic or sexual relationships have. And at this point in my life, those are so much more important to me than dating or even finding a life partner. Yes, I would like to be in a romantic relationship someday, and yes I entertain the idea of having a life partner, but I think that before either of those can really happen, I need to be in a good place within myself and have a good direction in life. And this all sounds like it would be so much more enjoyable with the support and company of friends.

Every friendship I have is unique, because every person is unique and so every relationship between two people is a unique combination. Some of my friendships are based on our mutual interests and goals, others on mutual appreciation and respect; some have withstood the tests of time and tragedy, others are only acknowledged when we’re around one another and otherwise not really thought about; some are more flirty and humorous while others are deep and profound. In every case, there is a mutual unspoken agreement between us: we are friends. That’s it. As long as we’re both willing to keep this statement true, things will be okay between us. That’s my belief. It’s only when that either becomes too much for one or both of us, or something mutually exclusive becomes more important, that that agreement is broken.

But having it be not enough?? That is where I simply cannot relate. If something needs to be changed – you communicate, you set boundaries, you make adjustments and see how it goes. Things will work out if you’re willing to try. Like I said, it’s only when things get to be too much for one person or both that the friendship has to stop or pause indefinitely. I’ve had friendships discontinue because of jealous girlfriends, lack of interest, overwhelming energies, differences in worldview, and decreased communication because one of us moved away or got involved in something that took up more of our time and energy. And this stuff happens, and it’s okay. Maybe it’s not forever and we can pick it up again in the future. Friendships don’t really die unless you kill them, and even then it’s possible to someday revive them. But when both people actually want to be close to each other, are willing to put in the effort, but one of them wants romance and sex and the other doesn’t… and that’s why the friendship has to end… forever… and they completely cut me off… sometimes blaming me or insulting me in the process… that’s what really stumps me.

And the reason I am writing about this is because it has happened to me MULTIPLE times. Like, the same exact thing. It makes me want to write all my friends and say, “You and I will never ever date – still want to be friends?” and see who sticks around. It makes me want to use a disclaimer every time I meet someone new. It makes me want to wear a sign on my shirt that says: “Friendship only, no dating, no relationship!” But of course I can’t do this, because I do want a relationship someday, and you never really know who it might be with no matter what you think you’re looking for at the time. And it’s not like I’m keeping people around just in case maybe someday we could be “more than friends”. No, I’m keeping them around because they are my friends and that’s what friends do! If you’re committed to friendship, then you know that will be there regardless of whatever else may (or may not) happen between you. I wish that was more important to people.

So please, let’s be friends.