Pray to the Moon when She is round,
Luck with you will then abound,
What you seek for shall be found
On the sea or solid ground.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Transforming "Spiritual Warfare": Day 33 (Ohio) [A Photo-filled Magickal DIY of Epic Proportions]

3/3/2014: This post has been added to the Animist Blog Carnival: Dreams edition. To see more animist perspectives on dreams, please visit: Animist Blog Carnival: Dreams

Note: If you are unfamiliar with my "Transforming 'Spiritual Warfare'" aka. Mushroom Hatred Remediation Program, you might want to read the midpoint recap, Transforming "Spiritual Warfare": Back to Business &/or the project's inaugural post, Transforming "Spiritual Warfare": Day 1 (Hawaii), to understand what I am attempting with this post. (I know it's weird, but what magick isn't?) If you are not familiar with the theocratic prayer campaign referred to in this series, see Desultory Philippic's excellent discussion 40 Days of Light, To Bring Back the Darkness, &/or the coverage over at the Wild Hunt.

An Additional Note: If you are participating in Dianne Sylvan's "Spiritual Nomads" E-Course, you might recognize this as falling under Week Two's "Weirdness" discussion. Admittedly, it qualifies.

I-80/Ohio Interstate shield. Courtesy WikiCommons.
I-80/Ohio Interstate shield. Courtesy WikiCommons.
The eyes have it.

I have traveled I-80 through Ohio twice in my life. Both times I was moving & both times were rough transitions. While my state of mind may have slightly tainted my experience of Ohio, I am certain I am not alone in being very underwhelmed by this state from the vantage point of this East-West highway. Somewhere along my image search I came across some vacation bloggers who described touring I-80 in Ohio as some of the worst interstate travel anywhere in the U.S. Uncharitable, but true.

Image found HERE.
While browsing the Ohio state welcome signs, I learned that this place has a variety of slogans ranging from meh, to quite clever: "Birthplace of Aviation Pioneers," "With God All Things Are Possible" (really?), "Mother of Presidents" (seven of them), "Ohio, The Heart of It All," "Ohio: Don't Judge Us by Cleveland," "Ohio: Sorry About the Smell, We're Working on it"... Of all the tag lines (& there are many more) the one that stuck with me was "Ohio, So Much to Discover." This is the official Ohio state slogan according to the Department of Development, Division of Travel & Tourism. What struck me was that it felt like a challenge. So much to discover? Really? 

Discover, I did.

Wait. Before I begin with the discovery business, I've decided that perhaps I can recruit some help with this epic & ongoing "hatred remediation" process. So, this time I am going to write it as a walkthru. This will make it epic in length (& chock-full of fabulous imagery!), but if you feel patient & inspired (or perhaps you have read so many of these by now that they do not seem completely bizarre anymore), please feel free to hop on the mycological magick bus & do the "working" yourself. Fungi are so friendly & they just don't get enough hobnobbing with us hominid folk. I'm sure they will appreciate someone else talking to them besides crazy me.

To talk to fungi about remediating waste left over by the prayer campaign, I use a technique called "Dream Incubation." Because this post is going to be very, very long, I am going to give myself a break & snatch the Wiki's words to define this process:
"Dream incubation is a practiced technique of learning to "plant a seed" in the mind, in order for a specific dream topic to occur, either for recreation or to attempt to solve a problem... While somewhat similar to lucid dreaming, dream incubation is simply focusing attention on a specific issue when going to sleep." -- from Wikipedia's article "Dream Incubation"
"Dream Incubation" by kyriemance of DeviantArt
"Dream Incubation" by kyriemance of DeviantArt
I use the dream incubation for several reasons: 1) Working in your sleep bypasses all the hang-ups & distractions that can plague your work during the wakeful hours. 2) Since the working is on a mental/spiritual/telepathic (or however you understand it) level, using the subconscious to do the "talking" is really very pragmatic. You can't get caught up in being verbal. 3) I could do this the Woo-Woo way, but honestly, I am not very good about getting things done with Woo. It's so complicated & I get obsessive about all the Woo-ey details. Much akin to the altar issue, for me, it's best to just keep the toys to a minimum. 4) Fungi seem like dreamy beasties to me, so why not? 5) This is a big project which takes a great deal of time & effort. Additionally, I have a family & they are busy, noisy people. Thus, I have to get things done when everyone is asleep. What is more practical & expedient than to use my sleep time to get the work done? It's magickal multi-tasking at it's best. 

Besides, it makes for great dreams.

Now for a very cursory history of dream incubation, a brief discussion of technique, followed by a list of resources for the curious & ambitious: 

Μορφεύς, god of dreams. Courtesy Wiki "Morpheus & Iris" by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin
Μορφεύς, god of dreams. Courtesy Wiki
"Morpheus & Iris" by Pierre-Narcisse Guérin 
Many cultures throughout history -- past & present -- have made use of dreams to foretell the future, problem-solve, communicate with deities &/or the spirit world, etc. It is speculated that the Mesopotamians, ancient Jewish & ancient Celts used dream incubation for spiritual guidance, oracular work, prophesy, etc. & there is ample evidence that the ancient Japanese, Chinese & Egyptians used dream incubation in an organized fashion, having specialized dream temples, halls or other structures specifically for this process which often served as a means for solving political issues. However, the ancient Greeks can be credited with elevating the technique of dream incubation to an art form. The Greeks left us with dream diaries, a lengthy text on oneiromancy (see Oneirocritica, The Interpretation of Dreams) & the remains of their dream temples (e.g., Asclepeion) where dream incubation was primarily used for psychological & physical healing. Many of the same techniques used by these widespread & varied ancient seekers are also used in dream incubation today.

Dream incubation technique varies by culture & individual, but the goal is to create for yourself a period of intense immersion in your dream subject. The most basic way to do this is to spend dedicated time thinking about it during the day & then as you fall asleep, focus on the subject intently, repeating it, expanding upon it until you enter sleep. To strengthen your process you can employ many other tools such as meditation, journalwork &/or appealing to Divinity through ritual, prayer or symbolism. Some people find that using cues are helpful, like burning incense at the bedside, anointing with essential oils (clary sage, for example). Others employ dream-inducing diets, herbals &/or sleeping positions. There are many other techniques & tools to assist the process of dream incubation, but it is not my intention for this post to be about incubation techniques... after all, we're supposed to be discovering Ohio, talking to mushrooms & cleansing our country of theocratic detritus.

However, if you are interested in learning more about dream incubation, here is a medley of random resources to explore:

    With the background information out of the way, we can return to the project at hand. Every time I work with a state, I do the following procedure, give-or-take a few state-specific adaptations as needed:

    First, I try to look at artwork by artists from that state. There is a great deal to be said for looking at the world through the eyes of local artists. Then, I spend copious amounts of time browsing the Wikimedia Commons category for that state. I try to look at the majority of the photographs if possible, although I have been known to cease & desist when it might cause me to develop carpal-tunnel syndrome. Next, I visit the local mycological society websites, state-related fungi websites & images to develop an idea of the fungal fauna in general. Then, I wait for some kind of sign that indicates the fungi du jour. This answer comes in various ways, sometimes it is decided by serendipity, sometimes instinct, sometimes even in a dream. I prefer it when the fungus is one I have met personally. This way, I can search my own image files & select my favourite images of the fungi, recalling memories & really "connecting." However, sometimes it is not a beast I have met. If this is the case, I do my homework, checking my books & preferred mycological haunts on the internet, browsing photos & finding someone with whom I can work. Then, I might write a poem, entreaty, chant, or other clever & apropos verbage to help clarify my intent or, I might use someone else's words. Sometimes, words are just not necessary. FINALLY, I take all that to bed & incubate a dream. In my dreams, I ask the mycelia of the focal fungi (as well as the other local fungi species) to remediate the hate. 

    Ah, & you thought you were weird...

    So, back to the business of discovering Ohio. You will now be visually spammed with some (but, by no means all) of what I discovered about Ohio. The goal here is to immerse yourself in the Ohio landscape. (A note on credits: all the following photographs are courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Links to image page sources are in captions.)

    The Crystal King/Ohio Caverns, Beech in Autumn/Hueston Woods, The Devil's Bathtub/Hocking Hills 

    Conkles Hollow/Hocking Hills, Winter in Blacklick Woods, Indian Point Park/Lake County

    The Wilds (ICPWA) a private, non-profit wildlife conservation center on 9,154 acres of reclaimed coal mine land. It is home to over 25 non-native & hundreds of native species & is the largest wildlife conservation center for endangered species in North America. 

    Cedar Falls in the Winter, MacCracken Hall/Miami Uinversity, Oxford in Winter

    The Blackhand Gorge State Nature PreserveSquire's Castle/Cleveland North Chagrin Reservation

    Sunset from Fairfield Beach/Buckeye Lake, A-Frame Bridge/ Old Man's Cave

    Campbell Mound/Columbus, Williamson Mound/Indian Mound Reserve

    Dexter Memorial/ Spring Grove Cemetery, Lorain Lighthouse/Lorain, Serpent Mound (aerial view)/Adams County

    "Angel"/Spring Grove Cemetery & Arboretum, Corn Field/Ohio

    Brown's Lake Bog/Brown's Lake Bog State Nature Preserveone of the few remaining kettle peatlands.

    Glacial grooves/Kelleys Island, Brandywine Falls after a storm/Cuyahoga Valley

    Zoraville Bridge NHP/Conotton Creek, Fairfield Township, 
    The Genius of Water, aka "The Lady"/Fountain Square, Cincinnati 

    Kamelands/ Highlands Nature Sanctuary, Yellow Springs/Glen Helen Nature Preserve

    Wasn't that lovely? Now that we have developed a concept of Ohio, or at the very least, have ample fodder for visualization, let us move on to an exploration of the native fungi in this very "discoverable" state. As luck would have it, a photographer with a penchant for fungi (read: well-versed mycophile) & a macro lens offered up a plethora of truly spectacular images to the WikiCommons. The following images were taken in the Wayne National Forest, Strouds Run State Park, "The Ridges" at Ohio University & various other Ohio locales by "Shroomydan" (aka Dan Molter of the Mushroom Observer). I will do my very best to use restraint.

    Well, so much for self restraint. If you found yourself fully immersed, but still yearning for more, go visit the Wikimedia Commons & search "Ohio fungi." The collection is extensive, diverse & gorgeous.

    Now for Ohio's fungal remediation representative. You might have noticed a delightful little red & black ditty up there on the second row. That's Scutellinia scutellata & it's an old Alaskan friend of mine. Otherwise known as the Eyelash Cup fungus, Eyelash Pixie Cup or Molly Eye-winker, these diminutive cuties have the prettiest little rim of "lashes" about their outer edge making them appear a bit like tiny orange or scarlet (thanks to carotenoids) peepers. It's very easy to find them in droves on moist, rotting wood -- this is because the are saprobic & thus, perfect for the plan. Also perfect for this project's theme of search & discovery! Didn't you & your eyes discover amazing things about Ohio? 

    S. scutellata with a slime mould friend
    S. scutellata with a slime mould friend
    On a tangential note, I did not discover the function of those lashes. None of my sources offered any kind of explanation for their function, yet there was a consensus among professionals that they are "beautiful," "attractive" & they make people smile (see, it's not just me)... I am thinking that cuteness (to hominids) is not the purpose of this adaptation, but no one appears to be asking/exploring the question. Despite failure in my pursuit of an answer to the eyelash mystery, I did receive two consolation prizes: 1) I learned that S. scutellata likes to fraternize with "mosses, slime moulds (!!!) & other cryptogams"(emphasis obviously mine) & 2) I found this spectacular photo of a slug eating an eyelash cup. Just look at this: "Naturally Curious with Mary Holland." Awesome. If you weren't already convinced they are cute, I bet you are now.

    Onward to the final immersion! This time, I have paired my own images of S. scutellata with a variety of prayers/invocations to Morpheus. I think this is an apropos treatment for this particular effort. Feel free to come up with your own expressions if you prefer. 

    Scutellinia scutellata
    I wol make invocacion,
    With special devocion,
    Unto the god of slep anoon,
    That duelleth in a cave of stoon
    Upon a strem that cometh fro Lete,
    That is a flood of helle unswete,
    Besyde a folk men clepeth Cymerie...

    -- Chaucer,  The Book of the Duchess

    Scutellinia scutellata

    Morpheus Lord of Dreams, we call unto thee.
    Scutellinia scutellataWeaver of webs in the attic of the subconscious.
    Great Jackal, Manifesto of impermanence,
    Magickal King, Sandman, Anubis, join us now.
    Come down from your moon lit mountain,
    with wispy cloak and eyes of light.
    Past the stars, through the clouds of disbelief.
    Awaken our imagination, throw your poppy like sand upon our distracted minds. For we come to dream, to pay homage to the art, the joy, the reality of fantasy. Opening our subconscious we invoke hermetic truths, universal archetypes and mythical legends. From the depths of our inner most void- align our energies with the ray of wisdom.
    Descend thee Morpheus.  -- Korinne (via Evolver), Invocation to Morpheus

    Scutellinia scutellata
    S. scutellata

    We open our eyes to discover. We close them to sleep. May we never lose sight of liberty, may we ever dream in freedom.

    The eyes have it.

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