Donald Trump & The Babbler in the Void

How An Occult Metaphor Can Help Us Understand this Decaying Landscape

DURING THIS STRANGE and difficult time, I have, as a spirit worker, attempted to draw connections between the past, present, and future, connections which could shed light on how things got this way. In the process I came across the following reflections. I would like to share with you my thoughts on how occult forces can emerge in the human psyche , and how that can have political implications.

There is something eerily familiar about Donald Trump. When I watch him I feel a lot of things…fear, rage, sadness, anger….and something like déja vu.

How could he seem familiar?

I have never met him, and though I have known countless assholes in my life, there is something unique about Trump when it comes to vileness. But what is this elusive quality? There are countless blogs and rants about this vileness, and all are justified, but I feel we need to look deeper, and ask hard questions about where this vileness comes from.

The problem is that everyone already seems to know how vile Donald Trump is, even his supporters, and yet none of that stops him. He has made every error, every mistake. He has had every embarrassment, every misstep. He has every flaw a politician could have. Huge parts of the Republican Party hate him. With all this, how does this man keep going forward like an armored car?

That brings me back to why he is so familiar.

I am a 30 year old transgender Occultist who was initiated by spirits 9 years ago. My path involves Scandinavian magick, Spirit Work, Ordeal, and my devotion to the Thelemic goddess Babalon. As a result of how these currents have shaped me, apocalypse–and the behaviors its various babbling illusionists–has become a lifelong study. And throughout that journey I have encountered another being like Trump.

A creature that is fragile yet indestructible: harmless yet containing the worst venom that exists, narcissistic and yet containing no singular self. A creature that says the most offensive things, and yet makes himself seem authentic. Who makes every mistake and yet seems perfect, who disregards all wisdom and knowledge and yet seems to have some strange elusive genius. A brutal method to the madness, a terrifying mesmerizing dance of order and chaos….but with the positive parts of order and chaos neutralized, leaving only a colorless entropy that atrophies and decays everything it touches. A being that you could argue with for hours using flawless debate skills only to find you have accomplished nothing because the whole debate was a distraction.

The dweller in the abyss, Choronzon.


BUT PLEASE LET me be clear, this is not a conspiracy theory rant. This is not about the illuminati or how Trump deliberately invokes this being in secret. I do not think he is part of some vast plot involving the antichrist, or that he is a distant relative of (name of random Occultist), blah blah. Such thinking is problematic and is often based on seeing connections where none actually exist. (Douglas Rushkoff called this “fractalnoia” )

I instead prefer adopting Terrance Mckenna’s attitude: no one is in control. But if we stop there, we may be missing the point.

babblerThe biggest missing piece in this dizzying hailstorm of false flags, fake news, and misleading theories is an actual understanding of chaos itself. Chaos is not an unfortunate accident caused by bad apples of Eris thrown into congress, it is a force of nature, like any element. It is the margin of error lying slyly in the periphery of every well-made plan. Chaos is the mad tumbling out of every factor we can’t calculate. Nevertheless, there are steps a magician, or an activist, could take to revere, respect, and dance with this force. Unfortunately, many activists and magicians do not revere, respect, or dance with this force, and instead take it for granted, underestimate its power, and pretend to have mastered it.

It is exactly this kind of hubris that makes one vulnerable to infection by creatures like Choronzon.

I hope you will forgive me a personal gnosis or two, and trust that I speak from real experience, when I say the following: Choronzon is not a being that needs to be summoned in order to manifest. If we look for him only in ritual actions and ancient tomes, we will completely miss the dark carnival of his other manifestations.

He can be seen in mania, crystal meth comedowns, schizophrenic states, hallucinogenic panics, and, yes, he can very much be seen in the empty-headed blathering which fills CNN day in and day out. You can see him in monkey dust and emergency rooms, in television commercials and hear him in stupid radio jingles. To borrow some phrasing from a chaos magician I have always deeply admired…Choronzon is the ego eating out its own brains, interrogating itself endlessly in an internal monologue with no end.

Choronzon is a self-obsessed entropy which seeks to form a perfect circuit, and a perfect prison. Choronzon is a demon, yes, but dealing with him forces one to throw out the entire playbook of classic demonology, because he’s not about seals, or summoning, or glyphs, or rituals, or reductionist psychology. You may, after an entire day of preparatory rituals, finally decide to confront him, only to realize he has been watching you the entire time. It is my deep conviction that our very culture is infected with this force, and that that is what makes it monoculture.

So the question of the hour is, what makes my personal gnosis so special? What proves that I am not just another ‘guru’ cluttering up the already troubled landscape of occultism with unproved theories? Well, true to my form as a spirit worker, I can only answer this challenge with a story.

I had a psychotic break in my early 20s, due to a number of issues. Some of these were ritual cult abuse, hormone problems, initiators with hidden agendas, a recently discovered patrilineal demon, extreme stress, and high priestess disease.

In other words, I was unstable to begin with, thought I would explore occultism, and fell down a rabbit hole. But rather than my breakdown being the logical sum of a series of quantitative ‘bad things’, it was more like a discordant orchestra under a hailstorm. The worst thing was not the discordant noise, but the fact that something was conducting it, and how relentless and persistent the conductor was. One way of framing this is that it was the beginning of my walk onto the madness road of northern tradition shamanism. That is very true, though putting it that way, ironically, makes it sound like a heroic epic quest that made some sort of linear sense…. A sort of Oddessey.

Yes and no.

Where the conductor took me, a story would have been a luxury. Emotions, actions, meaning, boundaries, form, dreams, icons, symbols, all these things became distant luxuries in the conductor’s meaningless discordant world. During much of the 8 year ordeal that followed, politics was little more than an ambient noise. My endless desire for healing, for answers, consumed me utterly. It was only through my experiences with Madre Ayahuasca in 2011, and through the enormous generosity and wisdom of her healers, that I exist at all.

Throughout the integration of this story, I have had no choice but to build an intricate map of the Dweller in the Abyss, written in the scar tissue of my stitched-together psychic body. Written in diaries of runes, collages of mental hospital paperwork, and countless cathartic therapy sessions. Through this, I have concluded that, though Choronzon is real in every possible sense, he is also an essential component of the human psyche, and an unavoidable challenger to anyone who seeks enlightenment. I will not insult this beautiful monster with reductionist western psychology and its “archetypes,” nor will I treat him as something which sits neatly contained in some Occult ritual instructions. He is in us all, and he is out there too.


CHORONZON is a temporary personification of the raving forces that occupy the abyss. They are impossible to define because their behaviors almost completely depend on the content of the magicians mind. And we cannot remove Da’ath from ourselves anymore than we can live without throats. If a zen master encounters Choronzon, he will see Maya, the lord of illusion, but is likely to remain calm. If a meth addict sees Choronzon, he will see the most horrifying devil imagineable.

In this regard it’s important to not see Choronzon as essentially evil, because such a label would imply attachment to a static identity and thus a kind of predictable order. That being said, the vast number of experiences with him, in spite of their variation, have one common thread: he challenges. He tests. He demands payment for entrance to his realm and he demands tolls for the crossing of his bridges. And by challenging, he initiates and offers a path to enlightenment. But keep in mind, this path is the most brutal, painful and difficult way to become enlightened.

Mocking this being would not harm it, as it had no ego to defend. But as long as I had an ego it could mock me. It was not egoless, because all its poisons pushed me away from enlightenment. I could easily prove it wrong, in fact proving it wrong was the easiest thing to do, and yet every time I proved it wrong it changed the subject, snuck around and mixed up the whole paradigm. This always gave me a sense that no matter how good my argument was, I would realize halfway through that it didn’t matter.  Then I realized that following its train of thought was missing the point: it wasn’t about whether it was right or wrong, it was about how I chose to interact with its babbling. Eventually I realized that all its babbling was a distraction and a device to exploit my attachments, anxieties, and fears.

babblerAbove all, this being’s strongest tendency was towards extreme, polarizing chaos. But all that chaos concealed a group of core tendencies which remained constant and strangely orderly. Those core tendencies served the purpose of driving my psyche to extremes: I would either be utterly destroyed or I would gain a power greater than I ever imagined. In Choronzon’s realm they could make anything possible, except enlightenment, healing, or freedom, because Choronzon is incapable of imagining anything outside of themselves. This is why detachment, unconditional love, and surrender always defeat them. They are not just chaos, they are entropy and negative disorder, as opposed to positive disorder which I define as healthy rebellion and creative inspiration. None of the chaos of Choronzon nourishes the creative impulse, it destroys it ( unless you win the jackpot of passing through the abyss.)

When I went from mental health peer support to Thelemic study, I found writings on Choronzon and felt chilled to the bone. Words like decay, entropy, babbling, madness, jumped out at me. I devoured every bit of info I could find and everything resonated. Its modus operandi in literature was an exact match to what I thought had been my personal schizoid tormentor.

The crucial point was that the only way to beat this thing was to focus on what was real, true, sacred, and good in yourself while knowing that whatever Ch said was just a distraction . Ch would say vile things, hoping the mage would take them personally, or engage in passionate argument, or otherwise stray from the path. eventually Ch would, like a virus, run its course, run out of energy, and disappear.

It has been said that when there is no way out, there is often a way through. Surrender was my way through. I took the approach that when choronzon started saying vile things, I would focus on what was sacred and good about myself while holding space for the vileness to just Be. I loved Choronzon unconditionally as my sacred inner monster. This healed me.


HOW THIS RELATES to Trump is tricky. I dont want to take the most painful divisive issue of the decade and apply some generic new age wisdom to it. Admittedly, there are huge ways these beings are different. The only way to overcome Choronzon is to hold space for his vileness to run its course while holding on to everything true and sacred within oneself. This is a kind of surrender. In the case of Trump, such a strategy would seem irrelevant and pointlessly sentimental. However, I dont think this is because of a lack of connection between the two. I think it’s because the Occult world and Matter based world have very different rules.

If Choronzon somehow incarnated in a physical body, the practice of surrender would have to be re-evaluated and physical self defense would be a vital concern. That being said…there are many martial arts which take spiritual disciplines such as surrender and give them kinetic form. Japanese Jiu-Jitsu, for example, often counsels yielding to the opponent’s momentum in order to throw them off balance, almost as if they are harming themselves. The form taught to me focused on conflict resolution, de-escalation, and using an opponent’s aggression against them. Japanese jiu-jitsu uses leverage, physics, and a strong understanding of human anatomy to neutralize an opponent’s rage. All of this is done without sacrificing any component of effective self defense.

It is a complex issue. We should be angry, should engage in argument, should fight Trump with everything we have. On the other hand, Trump rallies are like an abyss…and like Choronzon, he stands as a temporary personification of its raving forces. It is thus important to keep in mind that defeating Trump would not slay the monster, as it is much larger than him. In order to kill the hydra we must go for its heart. We must understand on a deep level who and what he is and where his power is coming from. When he speaks he is legion, and that legion is an ocean of ignorance, desperation, reaction, and fear. It has all of the markers of a cult…but its not a conspiracy. its far more simple, and far more awful.

bblleChoronzon gives shape and form to the ugliest, most poisonous side of the human psyche. Choronzon babbles endlessly but never says anything, values nothing but is always wealthy, commits atrocities and perversions but makes himself appear traditional and honest. The ultimate shapeshifter, a paradox. Those infected by him rapidly lose sight of what is real, truth begins to seem relative and all that is left is helplessness, desperation, and empty reaction.

This is not an argument for pacifism. Trump is racist scum and if he died tomorrow the world would be a better place. That being said…the body of humanity is poisoned and Trump is just the most obvious symbol of that sickness…just as Choronzon is just a name in a book describing an ocean of monsters whispering in the dark.

I theorize that Trump and Choronzon are similar and different because they both are central characters in two different abysses. Terrance Mckenna believed that there were four abysses within a fifth. The four are:

  • the biological abyss, represented by death
  • The historical abyss, represented by the apocalypse and ‘end of history’
  • the psychological abyss, represented by visionary experience
  • the physical abyss of outer space.
  • The above four are within a fifth abyss, which Mckenna described as “unspeakable.”

In other words, Trump is a kind of Choronzon of the historical abyss, and whereas surrender is an extraordinarily effective technique in dealing with the psychological abyss, the historical abyss requires a different approach. At this stage though, it is very hard to be sure what that approach would be. Every act of violence against racism is always necessary and always sacred.

But I would also say that that sacred battle could be made stronger by way of a deeper understanding of what this monster is and how it can be destroyed on a deeper level.

Choronzon and Trump, these “conductors of discord” …rule over realms with very different rules, thus a weapon used against one may not work against the other. But there is a link between them and understanding that link may, perhaps, shed some light on how we are to defeat Trump.

Just as a individual soul is in crisis when crossing the psychological abyss while being tortured by Choronzon, this country’s soul is in crisis trying to come to terms with what has been done and what must be done. Trump appears as a Choronzonic figure because in a perverse way he has mastered the divisive, polarizing language of the historical abyss. (Thus it is no accident that he is often seen as a despotic figure). I theorize that this is why those politicians who debate him based on an outdated playbook end up frustrated and confused.

We must recognize that we are not dealing with a politician. We are dealing with a warlord, and we are at war. The historical abyss is also a very hard thing to accept, and scapegoating and denial are much easier routes for the morally irresponsible. Those who are in denial want to stay in denial and like Choronzon block the country’s (in this case, metaphorically, the magician or fool’s) journey toward healing, accountability and reconciliation. America’s institutions and privileged groups have committed horrible crimes and are slowly collectively realizing they must show accountability in order to heal.

Like death, the first stage is denial, and many want to stay there. My suspicion, however, is that most of that group are of the older generation who are deeply set in their ways. Choronzon’s job is always that of blocking enlightenment and healing…so that the soul can be driven back in terror. As a Lord in the historical abyss, Trump seems to be taking the same role.

Thus it becomes clear where America’s soul finds itself: on a perilous rickety bridge over a vast abyss. An abyss filled with fracked gas, racist murdering cops, ecological collapse, and economic devastation. Can this country find its way to the other side, or are we doomed to fall into the void where Choronzon, or Trump, will rule?

I have never had much of a sense of where I belong in this landscape, but I know that I cannot allow that to happen anymore than Icould allow the abyss to destroy me for good so many years ago. Something had to change, and it did.


GG Irkalla 

gg-fox-finalGG Irkalla is a 30 year old transgender spirit worker who is devoted to the goddess Babalon. She founded the collective “oly witch crew” and manages the zine “Up the Witchpunx.” She lives with her girlfriend in Olympia Washington. She can be reached at gg_irkalla@riseup.net & through www.upthewitchpunx.com


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What Wants Us Gone

[This essay contains a very frank discussion about suicide, mental illness, and child abuse. It was originally posted at PAGANARCH on September 23, 2015]

I don’t want to write about this.  My whole soul screams against it, like when my quads scream against riding on a hard-gear up a Seattle hill, or my arms groan agonised protest against another set of bicep curls.

I don’t want to write about this, like when I don’t want to meet new people, don’t want to get out of bed some mornings.  Like when my heart refuses to let itself be loved by someone unfamiliar to it, or my mind aches upon reading something more complicated than it prefers to handle.

I don’t want to write about this, but I will.

I.

I remember staring at the pavement below, crying.  My hands were slippery with blood, the palms pierced with bits of glass which took a long time to remove later.

It was chill.  I was shaking, drunk.  I was 20, too young to drink, but had drank half a bottle of whiskey.  I still can’t even handle more than a shot of the stuff; two beers and I’m sloshed…I have trouble believing I’d drank so much of that shit, but I had.

It was the ‘thing’ to do, I guess.  I had someone else buy it for me.  I’d never had the stuff before–I’d only three or four times even had alcohol, and I hated it.

Also, I didn’t smoke yet, but had gotten that same friend to buy me a pack of cigarettes.  I smoked half of them.

Something was in me, I guess.  Some idea that’s never fully left, which is also a process that has never fully ended, and a presence never exorcised.  There’s little difference between the three; a god’s an idea, and a process, and a presence.  Some insist only the first, some allow the second, almost no-one but polytheists will admit to the third.

But…this wasn’t a god.  None would give such a thing worship, except perhaps the most foulest of humans, and even then they’d be consumed by its hunger long before it had a chance to spread its disgusting gospel.

What it was, I still don’t know, but I see it sometimes, right at the moment I least want to see it, right at the moment I’ve taken off every piece of armor I’ve donned my entire life to protect myself from it.

I’d punched through a window with my fists.  Windows don’t shatter like you’d think they do when you punch through them.  You have to punch a few times, especially if you’re intending then to crawl through to a short ledge.

I sat there in the glass, picking up shards, slicing repeatedly into my skin, the physical acts of a ritual that felt pre-scripted, written before men ever walked the earth.

What went through my head, I don’t remember.  I couldn’t breathe; something was pressing there, crushing my lungs, pulling the air from my body.  Like a ‘panic attack,’ or hyperventilation, except the feeling (and here’s where things get crazy) was from without as well as within.

The ‘trigger’ was a scenario of abandonment, but neither the scenario nor the trigger are quite as relevant as you think.  We mythologise the human psyche like we mythologise our infections, our conditions, and our failures, all dark, injurious laments rather than epic strength and heroism.  ‘Abandonment issues’ one might say, dismissively, or as a shorthand for a slightly deeper ‘complex.’

But I, being the one who survived it, may call it what I like, name it as I saw it.   I call it a haunting.

II.

When I was eight,  growing up in Appalachia, I had a strange series of dreams and waking visions

I woke up in the middle of the night with my nose touching the ceiling; turned around to see my body laying on my bed and panicked, finding myself back asleep.

I remember sitting in a bath asking my cognitively-disabled (and later schizophrenic) mother what happened to all my siblings she drowned in the bathtub.  Except it wasn’t her who had drowned them, but another mother, and there’d been 5 or 6 of them, and I’m sure it didn’t help my mother to hear that from her child.

And then a long series of dreams after that where a man in a spaceship who actually lived in a monk’s cell and wore robes had me read strange writing in a book so he could ‘return to the stars.’

A few years later is when my father started beating me.  I remember it deeply; he’d whip me with his leather belt repeatedly, and then make up horrific rituals for it.  He’d make me go fetch his belt.  One time he made me take his belt off of him before beating me.

The beatings were so bad I began to go into convulsions at random times, crying that I wanted to ‘go home.’ And both my parents would assure me I was home, but I knew better, because there was the woman who’d come to me as I slept and would hold me, a large Black woman, much bigger than anyone I’d ever seen.  She’d hold me really close and assure me that it was going to be okay later and I shouldn’t worry, but I remember she’d cry when she held me.

I’m crying right now.

There was this other time when I was so terrified I thought I wouldn’t survive and this guy came to me.  He was with me, but a later me, and we were in Paris, and he told me that I’d be in Paris later (I didn’t even know where Paris was at the time) so I should “hang on, okay?”

I did.  Also, after my parents took me to counseling (probably state-mandated, I don’t know), the beatings stopped.  I remember asking my father in the car later what the counselor said, and he got really angry and said “she tol’ me I cain’t beat you wit’ the belt.”  And I remember his anger about this, but at least he’d stopped, acting somehow shocked that such a thing could affect a kid.

III.

I still don’t want to write this, you know.

I’m sitting on that roof, on all that broken glass many stories up from the pavement.  I’m terrified as I slice open the skin of my wrists.  It takes a lot to get at a vein, you know, at least when you’re drunk out of your mind and can’t see for the tears and the blood in your eyes from where you’d cut your forehead pushing your body through that broken window.

I wanted it all to end, because I’d seen it again, that thing, that darkness, that haunting.  Something that wants us gone, something that wants us destroyed.

It’s the same thing you see on the streets, hanging around the piss-soaked homeless woman with necrotic skin infections.  It’s what you see in the after-image of the meth-addict scratching his face off.

It’s what you see in the oil slick on a forest stream and the trash dumped off the side of a hill, but it’s not quite the same with that–perhaps different trenches in the same no-man’s land, facing each other, two armies in an epic war.

I escaped much of that war in those hills.I was the only boy I knew who didn’t get molested.  Cousins, friends, neighbor boys all had stories, or acted really strange and didn’t want to be around certain men any longer.  The one that haunts me the most is the kid from school I brought to sunday school as part of an attendance drive.  I won a trip to a chain restaurant in town for bringing the most friends; but one of the kids I brought never spoke to me again after my sunday school teacher pulled off my friend’s pants to ‘check his underwear’ in front of a room full of broken-toothed, mostly shoeless kids.

Jesus loves you, by the way.

Me?  Somehow unscathed. I’m pretty sure the man with the book from the stars had a lot to do with that, though, probably the same way I escaped brain cancer from the leaking nuclear power plant a few miles from our home, asthma or worse from burning coal in a wood-burning stove in a small house one long winter, and the same way I survived that autumnal suicide attempt a decade later, or avoided being driven off a bridge by my mother a few years later.

If you’ve been reading me for awhile, you know my mother’s schizophrenic, you know I raised my sisters mostly alone for much of my adolescence while working and going (sorta) to high school.

That shit kinda fucks you up in some strange ways.  Mothers are our archetype for ‘goddess’ usually, which is all fine and good for those who had mothers who weren’t trying to kill their kids because demons were telling them to, or who gave entire paltry paychecks over to a megachurch to help them build a new building, or grabbed an intercom phone in a grocery store, hit the button, and told the assembled shoppers in her perpetual young-girl voice:

“Everybody accept Jesus Christ as your personal lord and savior because I have a bomb and am going to kill you all.”

She was always particularly intent on doing the right thing, that woman.  And as horrifying as that was at the time, it’s also kinda funny.

IV.

I tell you I don’t want to write this shit?

This stuff haunts you, because you see someone who’s supposed to be your sole guardian against the world disintegrate before your eyes, you hear your little sisters cry in fear about how ‘mom’s talking to herself again’ and then, worst-of-fucking-all, you find yourself pretty certain you’re becoming like her when the darkness claws at your chest on a ledge as you’re bleeding from both wrists.

Or later, too, when you can’t get out of bed because your whole soul feels drained.

Or later, when you try to explain something you saw or think to someone you love and admire, someone you want to be loved and admired by, and they give you a blank stare like you just told them you saw a god or something.

And, of course, you’ve said that, too.

When I started writing on-line a little over two years ago, I’d found an initially supportive person who ran a forum and wrote really well.  She was nice, I really liked her stuff, I thought we’d be friends.  And then when I started talking about seeing gods, I got a really concerned message about how I was encouraging people suffering from mental-illness not to seek treatment.

I’ve actually heard this a few other times, too.  It’s strange to hear that, having woken up in a white padded room on a hard bench with both of my wrists wrapped in so much gauze I thought my fingers had been amputated.  Also, it sucks to wake up restrained, by the way, almost as much as it sucks to be beaten up by a friend with a broom, or by cops when they finally arrived.

Nah, seriously.  Go get treatment if you need it.  There’s shit that wants us gone.

What wants us gone? I…I don’t really know.

I’ve seen the Burnt Ones.  They’re really terrifying, their skin crackling like thin layers of ash off charred wood, or flakes of blue-black coal.  Not sure what they’re on about, really, except they show up and warn you not to do something that’s about to change your life, because you might not survive it.

What they don’t tell you, of course, is that we survive everything until we don’t.  And that’s just death, and that’s hardly a rare condition for humanity anyway.

But really, the things you see in vision are benevolent compared to what you see with your eyes–if you look, anyway.  Cops killing Black men, poisoned rivers, countries bombed to bits while people watch the aftermath on television while sitting down to dinner.  No dark abyssal creature, no haunting being compares to a woman tripping a fleeing Syrian refugee to help the border police catch him, a well-known Atheist arguing it was cool to arrest a Muslim boy who brought a clock to school, or the nightmare of watching everyone around you stare at a little phone in their hand while there’s a rainbow in the sky above you.

I’ll take tea with an Archon or the restless dead any day over those people.

flower concrete

V.

I told you I didn’t want to write about this, but I knew how this would go.  I knew I’d cry about half-way through writing this, and somewhere about word 1200, I’d go make tea, stare at the moon outside, come back to these words and remember why I write this stuff.

I write this stuff against what wants us gone, weaving the only magic I have full faith in against that darkness others call ‘light’ and ‘civilization.’

I write this stuff to exorcise what wants us gone, and to give you tapestries to keep you warm when the soul’s winter comes.

I write this stuff so you don’t think you’re fucking crazy.

Because you’re not.

This shit is.

We’re what makes this world bearable.

Two years ago, I’d just come down from an ancient druid mountain in France called Menez Hom.  and I guess 18 years ago, I was about to jump off a building.

The plan was simple, I guess.  I’d get so drunk I couldn’t feel any pain.  I’d slash open the veins in both of my wrists.  And then I’d throw myself off the roof.  The combination of all of it would certainly work–if one didn’t kill me, the other thing would, and I’d no longer have to worry about what wants us gone.

I’d also no longer have to worry about being thought ‘crazy’ again.

My mother’s schizophrenia scared me, because it wasn’t just babbling incoherence.  She’d predict stuff that was about to happen.  She’d read people’s thoughts.  She’d have visions and shit.

My own depression, my own ‘difference,’ terrified me, too.  I remember when people found out I was gay and mostly fled from me.  Or when I’d gotten suicidal at Christian college, got on meds, and then had the fact that I was taking anti-depressants used against me when I applied for an editor position with the college newspaper.  “How can we know your job performance won’t be affected?” they’d asked, and, well…

Fuck job performance.

Fuck being the same.

And fuck being terrified of what you see, and especially fuck apologizing for not being like everyone else.

VI.

They say trauma causes delusion.  “They” are right.  And also very wrong.

Trauma, if anything, causes you to see differently.  It’s traumatic to watch someone get shot by a cop, or die of a condition they wouldn’t die from it they weren’t poor.  It’s traumatic to watch a woman trip a Syrian refugee, it’s traumatic to see a god.  It all makes you see things differently.  And what you do with that difference determines whether you survive, whether you fight your government or become addicted to drugs or end up bleeding to death after jumping from a roof.

I see stuff differently, and that’s why you read me, actually.  Sometimes I see the way you do.  Sometimes I show you a way of seeing differently.  Sometimes I just write pretty stuff, but this is hardly pretty.

Just as I was about to jump that day, 18 years ago, my friend showed up.  I’m not sure why.  Probably the friend who’d bought me the whiskey and cigarettes thought it was a bit bizarre and told him.  Probably I’d said some stuff that gave them clues–I always think I’m more cryptic and closed-off than those who love me find me to be.  I’m only ever fooling myself, anyway.

He shows up.  Pulls me back through the window.  I remember shouting ‘let me die’ or some ridiculous futile protest. It was all pretty futile by that point–I already knew I’d end up in Paris some day, and I hadn’t been to Paris yet.  Trying to pull the pages out of a book to get it to end earlier doesn’t work, not when the man-from-the-stars made you read that book when you were eight years old, or when the Black goddess told me it was gonna be okay and I’d see her again.

Beats the fuck out of me, he does.  He and his brother.  And then the cops come.  They hurt pretty bad, by the way–don’t fight them without friends, and not in one of those really rare moments they’re actually trying to keep you alive.

And now I’m writing all this stuff to you, regardless of whether I wanted to or not. Like working out, or probably giving birth to a child, the pain’s worth it afterwards.  Who wants a baby stuck inside them forever?

Who really wants us gone?

VII.

People who know me personally tell me I’m one of the kindest people they know.  It’s one of the few compliments I’ll ever accept from most people, most times, because it’s the only thing I can say I’ve honestly decided to be.  Because I’ve seen what wants us gone, what wanted me gone, and someone’s gotta fight that.

And occasionally people will remark on the vividness of my visions, or how it seems incredible I see so many things so frequently.  That one, I used to worry about, actually, because it made me wonder if they thought I were crazy, or delusional, or lying.  Fear of being thought ‘insane’ is unshakeable, if you’ve had the sort of mother I’ve had.

A skeptic might claim the visions I had as a child or the visions I have now are mental tricks to compensate for the trauma I experienced.  There’s no difference in my mind between such a position and those who claim Syrian refugees should be made to go back home, or that Black men shot by police ‘had it coming.’

No.  I’m not crazy. I get to decide this, by the way–I’m the one who survived all that.  I just look at trauma that others don’t look at, and let it teach me to see differently.

I look at the way everyone’s miserable with Capitalism but tell themselves ‘it’s the only option,’ and I see the trauma there and I learn to see what can be instead.

I look at the way homelessness and addiction and racism and poverty and dead forests aren’t just unfortunate side-effects of the way we’ve set up civilization but the very requirements for the rest of us to have ‘nice things,’ and I learn to see that this is so fucked that I don’t want nice things any longer.

And I look at the way I’ve survived almost every attempt what wants us gone has made to destroy me, and I realize it’s precisely because I see differently that it wants me gone.  It’s why it wants difference destroyed, why it wants us all the same, all mindless, obedient, ‘normal’ people, easily controlled, easily done away with.

All the freaks I’ve known, all the fantastic queers, all the mad poets, all feral mystics and the incredible activists and truth-tellers revolutionaries and meaning-makers all know what wants us gone….

…and also know what needs us here.

Rhyd Wildermuth

Rhyd AuthorRhyd is the co-founder and managing editor of Gods&Radicals. He’s usually in a city by the Salish sea in occupied Duwamish territory, but he’s currently trekking about Europe for the next three months. Follow his adventures at: PAGANARCH.

 


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