1. “Cheap Guys..
..I don’t mind paying every once in a while but if I’m not your girlfriend yet & you’re still trying to win me over, you should at least be paying for the first couple of dates.. Geez, why are guys so cheap now a days? BIGGEST TURN OFF EVER.”
2. “I HATE when guys bring up other girls..
..that they have been with or slept with trying to make me jealous or make themselves sound good. It just makes them sound insecure and not worth it. Biggest turn off for me.”
3. “A man that can’t let go and just have fun…
..life shouldn’t be solely based on working. You need to take time and enjoy the little things. It’ll be over before you know it and you only get one chance to live your life!”
4. “A cocky or arrogant guy…
…guys who think they are above or better than woman”
5. “I Cannot stand when guys talk about money..
..whether it be that they have plenty of money or whether they’re broke. Keep your money issues to yourself, it isn’t attractive when you tell me how broke you are..”
6. “A man that can’t keep his word..
..don’t tell me you’re going to do something if you’re not. Don’t make plans/promises to take me somewhere and then not do it. Guys that talk a big game but never follow through- TURN OFF!”
7. “Self-centered guys…
..you think you’re god’s gift.. But you’re not.”
8. “Stinky Breath…
..that’s the worst, so disgusting.”
..don’t show up somewhere like a mess, you can take 5 minutes to fix your hair and brush your teeth.”
10. “Bad hygiene..
If you smell bad, stay far away from me.”
11. “Everything turns me off
..maybe I should be a lesbian? Haha”
..it can present itself in many ways, from cockiness to control issues. Avoid it at all costs.”
13. “Lazy guys..
a guy with no motivation to do anything, get off your ass and do something with your life!”
14. “A guy who thinks its cool to make fun of people..
..well it just makes you look stupid, get a life.”
15. “CHEAP, CHEAP, CHEAP..
I can’t stand a cheap guy..that has to be the worst.”
16. Boys…I mean “men” who can’t communicate..
..if they can’t communicate their feelings it just isn’t gonna work.”
There are so many things we identify with, so many ways we decide who we are based on style that we admire and opinions that are the collective average of the people we surround ourselves with. We’re so disconnected from our core selves, we latch onto everything around us to try to compile a person from confusion.
And all you end up with are the pieces of somebody else’s life.
It’s the advice you’re given all the time, though it’s often ignored because we don’t know where to start: knowing yourself, becoming your own locus of control, is the most important thing in the world. You can’t expect to find somebody who loves you for you when you don’t even know who you are. You’re not going to know what dreams you want to follow; you’ll trap yourself in the could and should and must of a person you’re only pretending to be.
Nobody is looking for a relationship with someone who most seamlessly appears perfect. The people who know themselves know what kind of person complements them best, and so they pursue that. You can’t expect to find your mirror match when your reflection is foggy and blocked.
The most attractive people in the world are not usually the most conventionally good looking — people find that boring. They’re the ones who are most put-together in the sense that they reflect their personalities physically, and that draws people in. They have something nobody else can replicate, and their personal style starts extending to every aspect of their lives.
When they are projecting the core essence of themselves, they’re able to find things that suit and fit their wants and needs. Things come together when you start to know yourself.
Being honest with yourself makes you fearless. The person you are isn’t so easily affected by negative opinions from others because you don’t feel as though who you are is something that should or for that matter can be changed — so you don’t get anxious about what other people say. The root of caring what other people think is assuming what they think needs to change what you think.
If you never take the initiative to be honest with yourself, you’ll never know what you want. You’ll never excel at anything because you won’t be passionate enough to do whatever it takes. You’ll never be able to find that essence that nobody else can replicate — that is solely your own. You’ll remain an untapped well… of yourself.
There’s a belief that, in order to be our true selves, we have to be exactly that person at every level. Consistency above all else must be maintained, lest we prove ourselves to be hypocrites — and surely there is nothing more despicable than to be a hypocrite, no? It’s a mortal sin. It calls everything about you into question — how can we trust anything you have to say when you’ve shown that you can’t be true to yourself?
And in the minds of many, there is no place where we are more honest, the most truly ourselves than when we have our hands down our pants.
It’s the fervent belief that who we are, deep down inside, is most accurately reflected by our libidos. Not in how we fuck or who but in the way we want to. We have a curious and — in many ways, antagonistic — relationship with our sexual desires. Sex, in many ways, defines who we are. Sex is communion. Sex is intimacy. Orgasm is le petite mort, the no-mind state in which our conscious shuts down and our inner self is open, revealed to the world. And so it makes sense — in its way — to believe that our deepest, secret selves are revealed by what goes on between our ears when it’s just us and our genitals, where nobody else can see.
There is always this desire to make sweeping judgements about people based on what they masturbate to. When 50 Shades of Grey became a runaway best-seller, suddenly there was thought-piece after thought-piece about “what it means about women” (Especially when the real question is “why do so many people seem to be responding to objectively shitty writing?”) Oh sure, women may say they want equality and “nice guys”, but when so many women are getting the screaming thigh-sweats over Christian Grey, clearly it means that they just want alpha males to dominate them — am I right bro? Right? Damn straight I am. Bro-fist.
Similarly, people are very quick to demonize men on the type of porn they watch. Do they watch bondage porn? They have issues with women. Transexual porn? They’re probably gay and in denial. Do they watch cartoon porn? They’re freaks (or worse if it’s furry porn). Are they watching women getting “raped” or “degraded”? They’re would-be sex-criminals themselves.
In phantasiae, veritas.
But is it true?
I can’t keep track of the number of people who tie themselves in knots over how their sexual desires don’t directly line up with who they are in their day to day lives. They are literally terrified about what it means that they get off on these taboo fantasies — things they would never dream of doing in the real world, yet gets their dicks hard and their vajeens wet. And if they indulge in these fantasies — bringing them from the privacy of mental space into meat space — does it mean that their non-sexual life is a lie?
When the staunch radical feminist is constantly aroused by the fantasy of being taken — not seduced, but overpowered — by a brutish, powerful man, is this her subconscious telling her where her true feelings lie? Is it an indication of what women really want? Or for that matter, what does it say about the mild-mannered, respectful man who believes whole-heartedly in enthusiastic consent when his ultimate desire is to throw a woman against the wall and have his way with her? Or when his fantasies always seem to revolve around blackmailing or coercing an underling — his secretary, his maid, a student — into having sex with him? Are these the manifestations of an unconscious anger against women? The subconscious acknowledgement that all men want to dominate and control women? Does the woman who gets off to watching simulated date rape have a mental illness that needs to be treated? Is the man who watches Belle Knox choking during fellatio to the point of tears on FacialAbuse.com waiting for his opportunity to use and abuse an unsuspecting co-ed?
And what if those fantasies get even darker? Age play, extreme dominance and humiliation like pony-play, torture or even eroticized cannibalism? What do these sexual desires say about someone? Are you simply lying to yourself about who you really are? What does it say when our sexual desires are so different that they disturb or scare us?
“Good” People Have “Good” Sex
We have an odd, and at times antagonistic, relationship when it comes to our sexual desires. We know that want, but we don’t want to acknowledge the fact that desire exists. To examine sexual desire is one of the greatest sins in America, especially when it goes against the dominant narrative that women don’t — or at least shouldn’t — want sex as much as men do. Teaching people how to talk about sex — navigating the worlds of consent and pleasure — makes the social conservatives get up in arms.
But if we do acknowledge sexual desire then it has to stay within strictly confined definitions. If we can’t pretend that sex is strictly about reproduction, then we have to at least pretend that the only “legitimate” forms of sex are tame; “vanilla” sex is the most we can tolerate. Anything diverging from the missionary position – especially in the context of a monogamous relationship – is horribly perverse and to be repressed at all costs. It’s a belief in society that’s become so ingrained that it’s become a trope: good people have good sex. The buffonish, perpetually horny men of pop-culture — your Sam Malones and Joey Tribbianis, your Stifflers, Jason Stackhouses, Dick Casablancas’ and Pucks — may want sex all the time but they want tame sex. Conventional sex.
Morally questionable characters on the other hand, tend to walk on the wilder side; they’re more likely to be kinky or have unusual requests — or to have “ironic” sexual indulgences. The hard-as-nails, controlling CEO moonlights as an adult baby. The alpha male bro likes to crossdress. Bondage is portrayed a something frightening and unusual that good people get tricked into — the better for us to laugh at them.
Villains, meanwhile aren’t just devious, they’re deviant. You know the villain is evil because he has a copy of 500 Days of Sodom or The Story of O on his bookshelves. They aren’t just dominant, they’re a sadist. They don’t have lovers, they have slaves and victims that they inflict themselves on.
Even people we’re supposed to like (or lust after) with aberrant sexual practices can’t just have a kink. Christian Grey doesn’t have his Red Room of Pain because he’s a dom and that’s just how he rolls; he’s damaged goods who’s only into bondage because he was sexually abused by an older woman. Only through healed by Anastasia Steele’s magic vagina can he learn to give up the fucking, the whips, and the chains in exchange for plain vanilla lovemaking happily ever after.
Of course, this would be less of an issue if the belief that sexual desire as moral barometer wasn’t treated as immutable fact. People who indulge in kink or non-standard sexual practices find their sex-lives used against them in divorce proceedings. Women who share racy photos of themselves with their lovers risk damaging their careers if those photos surface out in the wild — punished for sharing intimacy with someone in a manner that society deems irreparably aberrant.
And if those desires seem to contradict their public persona… well, then everything about them becomes suspect. Conservatives, of course, will get heated up over any form of sexual expression, but progressives have their own inconstancies to face up to. Clarisse Thorn and Jessica Wakeman, for example, have written about trying to reconcile being a feminist and a sexual submissive. Many feminist viewpoints see BDSM as being contrary to feminism — women are “lead” to being a submissive by the dominant sexual power structure and have convinced themselves that they like it and that the violence of S&M only further validates mistreatment of women.
Of course, sometimes those desires just scare us. Men who want rough sex or admit to darker fantasies — fantasies of degradation or even violation — live in fear that this is who they “really” are deep down inside and try to repress their dark side.
But what does it all really mean?
If Only You Knew The Power of the Dark Side
Well… it means you’re human, really. Despite our insistence that good people are of uniform and unwavering consistency in thought and deed and belief, people are complex and contradictory. We all have aspects to ourselves that we don’t like, sides of our personalities that we prefer to ignore or pretend doesn’t exist.
In Jungian psychology, this is known as “the shadow” or the “shadow self.” The shadow self is the unconscious parts of one’s personality that the conscious side does not acknowledge as part of one’s identity. It’s easy to see our shadow self as “dark” or negative; after all, it’s the parts of us that we’ve deemed unacceptable. However, in many ways it’s more accurate to say it’s our primitive or unenlightened side; it’s the aspects of ourselves that we have rejected or find unreasonable. Our uncontrolled lusts, unleavened by restraint or morality, or uncontrolled impulses like anger or greed or selfishness are all part of our shadow-selves.
But our shadow doesn’t necessarily mean “evil” or the “darkness of the soul;” rather, everybody’s shadow self is more the parts of themselves that they dislike or attempt to edit out. Our shadow-selves are the parts of us that we wish didn’t exist, for a multitude of reasons. We may repress those sides because of religious instruction or social opprobrium. Someone who’s been shamed by his parents or his lovers may try to stamp out parts of themselves as a way of appeasing others. Or their shadow-selves may be the sides that they fear.
Thus, someone who is obsessed with being alpha, for example, would have a shadow self that is their vulnerable or submissive side. Someone who needs to be in control would find that their shadow is the part of them that has given up or the fear of what would happen if they did lose control for just a moment. Meanwhile, a good man may well fear the lustful side of himself that eschews restraint and just wants to take what it wants. Someone who believes in respect and equality may try to quash a thrill that comes from degradation and humiliation of people he sees as having disrespected or insulted him.
Of course, in denying our shadow-selves, they become the aspects that we most resent or disdain in others; the lady doth protest too much indeed. Ironically enough, trying to repress our shadow-selves only makes them more present in our lives. Attempting to excise it from our psyche, pushing it down and denying it’s existence paradoxically makes us even more aware of it and gives it more power… and the very nature of the taboo makes it that much more perversely desirable.
The Eroticization of The Taboo
It’s the nature of the human psyche to find the taboo thrilling, even erotic. Even the things that we actively fear can stimulate our desires in ways that we don’t expect.
Consider the rape fantasy — defined here as the fantasies of an individual using physical force, threats or coercion to compel someone into sexual activity. This is, shockingly, one of the most common sexual fantasies in women — depending on the study, up to 60% of women use rape fantasies as part of their sexual lives. In fact, because of the taboo nature of the fantasy, odds are good that this estimate is actually low. On the surface, this seems like pure madness. Rape represents one of the most horrifying and very real threats that a woman faces in her lifetime, and yet for many, many women it forms a cornerstone of their erotic imagination. These women don’t simply find that it’s popped into their heads and then wonder “where the hell did that come from;” they deliberately use those fantasies to arouse themselves and to get themselves off, alone and with partners.
Similarly, many men are aroused by negative emotions — not just being the dominant or the rapist, but through feelings of shame. Sometimes it’s the shame of transgression — a fantasy about incest, for example — that may tweak their limbic system and leave them harder than Russian calculus. Other times it may be humiliation of being degraded and insulted — called a sissyboy or fag, being scolded like a child or laughed at for being unable to measure up as a man. It could be through the fantasy of being forced to sexually service someone they deem undesirable — a gay man forced to blow an anti-gay bigot, a Jew being forced to submit to a Nazi. He may be forced to beg, to lick someone’s boots, or to be literally objectified and forced to act as a stool or a table for his partner. He may be metaphorically emasculated — forced to cross-dress or to be penetrated anally.
Why would these intensely negative emotions and experiences stir people’s erotic imaginations so much?
One reason is that the terrifying and the erotic are very closely intertwined. The physical symptoms of fear are almost entirely identical to the physical symptoms of arousal, phobos and eros intertwining and affecting the intertwining circuits of the brain. One of the effects of this crosswiring means that our brains frequently will process fear via our erotic imaginations — taking the terrifying and making it electrifying.
The intensity of the emotion involved in transgressing the taboo can also fire up our parasympathetic and sympathetic systems – two parts of the autonomic network of our nervous system that work together to regulate the function of our hearts and glands. Arousing the parasympathetic system — causing our heart rates to rise, our bodies to sweat and our adrenaline to pump — arouses us sexually as well. The parasympathetic system then triggers the sympathetic system which controls orgasm and ejaculation. Incredibly intense emotional sensations — feelings of fear, of humiliation or danger — floods our parasympathetic system and opens the sympathetic circuitry, bringing us to the breaking point.
And then there’s the fact that taboo is about power – who has it and who doesn’t. And power is hot. Power exchange — the give and take of who has power over someone and who doesn’t — forms a key part of countless forms of sexual expression.
Part of the thrill of the rape fantasy for many people, men and women isn’t the violence, it’s the power. For the person who fantasizes about being the rapist, it’s obvious – they’re overpowering another person, inflicting their will on them. For the person fantasizing about being raped, it’s often a fantasy of submission, of being forced to give up control to someone else. But at the same time, they’re also empowered, driving their imagined attacker so crazed with lust that they can’t help themselves; they become overpowered themselves, forced to violate law and morality in order to get to this symbol of ultimate desire.
Being willing to transgress — to violate deeply held taboos – is another form of power transfer. It is a self-conscious rejection of what has been forbidden, placing oneself outside the system of rules and laws; in doing so he or she is claiming power. But at the same time, the fear of punishment and the mortification of being caught — and the attendant emotional rush — gives up that power, validating the other’s right to punish them and express power over them.
Is it logical? No, not really. But then, sex and sexual desire almost never is.
Sexual Desires Are Not Politically Correct
As much as we like to consider ourselves rational creatures, humans at their core are a bundle of contradictions. Who we are is frequently at odds with who we see ourselves as. And as much we value consistency and constancy, we are too intricate, too prone to internal conflict and mismatch to be uniform in thought and word and deed.
But contradicting ourselves doesn’t mean that we’re liars and hypocrites; it simply means that, in the words of Longfellow, we are complex; we contain multitudes. It’s the rush to ascribe moral and meaning to everything that we end up making things harder and more confusing for ourselves. By attempting to ascribe morality to emotion and correctness to desire, we force ourselves into hypocrisy; we’re attempting to create a universal standard to things that are, at their core, defy easy categorization. Nothing happens in a vacuum after all; the same forces that decry kink or fetish as perversion and an indicator of mental disease or emotional defect open themselves up to accusations that their own desires are the product of a society that arbitrarily denies sexual agency and forces them into limited sexual roles.
At its core, sexual desire is simply that: desire. It’s not merely the urge to spread one’s seed, no matter what evo-psych proponents like to claim. It doesn’t convey secret truths about a person’s deepest core and identity. A powerful woman who gets her rocks off through being dominated isn’t secretly revealing that she desires to give up her power, she’s embracing it by choosing what she wants — and what she wants is to be so desirable that her partner needs to control her. A man who harbors aggressive fantasies isn’t secretly longing to be violent or to degrade others; the power of violation of the taboo is the erotic appeal. To be sure: there are people whose dark sexual desires stem from a real desire to cause non-consensual pain or harm to others. But desire itself is morally neutral. Morality is defined by the act, not by the feeling.
Of course, simply acknowledging that the desires exist — even trying to understand why they exist — is only part of the struggle. It’s in making peace with your shadow self, being able to embrace and acknowledge the dark and unpleasant sides of yourself that you find freedom and comfort. Accepting that you have these desires doesn’t make you sinful or wrong; it empowers you. And by empowering yourself, you’re better able to address those desires, even the dark, disturbing ones, in ways that are safe, sane, and consensual.
There’s nothing better than a singer so convincing that the second you hear her voice all you can do is go, “YES GURL!!!” Fiery South London-bred Jessie Ware, whose sophomore record Tough Love dropped today on Universal, takes you all the way there. “Tough Love,” the title track on the album, opens with a boomy, neo-retro bass line but before you know it Jessie flies in and hovers above the slick production — way above it.
Produced by Miguel, Ed Sheeran and BenZel, Tough Love lives between the vocal and the electronic. “Desire,” with its booming, wide open pastures, seduces you from the start and might be the track that sums the whole record up. Exploring the theme of tough love, a universal human emotion if there ever was one, these addictive late night electro-soul groves echo every relationship you’ve ever been in, from those “Champagne Kisses” to that one special “Midnight Caller.” In case you forgot, Jessie reminds you: “You should know by now/I keep you waiting/Mess you around like you’re my plaything.” Who hasn’t been there before? BLOOP!
We caught up with Jessie and talked about reality television, donuts, and why she keeps making songs about unrequited love.
So I am really into how much you love huge earrings!
[laughs] Thank you! I love gold so I pretty much only wear gold. I’ve kind of toned down my big earrings, though. They’re a bit less big this time – I’m sorry!
I know – I’m sorry! Well if I get the chance to meet you I’ll wear really big earrings.
Or you could just give me ones you’re not going to wear anymore, that’s fine too.
I remember I was on tour in the States and I was wearing these hoops and there were these guys outside my show and they were like, “Oh my god we love your chola earrings.” I was like, “What does ‘chola’ mean?” And they were like, “Oh my god it means Latina!” That’s all I’ve wanted – I just want to look like Jennifer Lopez’ sister.
You were in Berlin for the Berlin Festival. How was that?
It was great! I love Berlin as a city, it’s very exciting to be there, and I feel like it’s so culturally rich and exciting and they really have their own thing going on. It’s just really nice to be playing music to people which is all I could really ask for is to present my new album to people.
I love Berlin so, so much. What did you do while you were there?
My friend always takes me out when he’s there so we went for a beautiful meal on the canal. I had a singing lesson and I went to flea markets. I went to a food festival at Berghain and we toyed with the idea of going there at 8am but we couldn’t be arsed to go at that time. But yeah it was lovely, I felt like I had a city break.
Do you have any performance rituals or things you have to do to psych you up before you hit the stage?
I warm up and I’m changing my technique so it’s becoming more of a full-body warm up now. I drink lots of throat coat tea, and I try not to speak too much before. I mean, I’m still really worried I’m going to forget the words just because like I haven’t played the new songs for 18 months yet.
Okay now I want to get really serious. What’s the last TV show you binge watched?
Probably Orange is the New Black but I need to watch the new True Blood. I’ve watched Made in Chelsea which is like the worst program but I love it.
What is it about?
It’s kind of like our version of The Hills, but it’s about very rich kids in Chelsea, in London, so it’s basically the same as The Hills but in Chelsea. It’s fucking awful. So good but so awful.
Do people send you love letters or do your fans send you weird things?
My fans aren’t that weird, which I’m quite happy about. They seem rather normal, which is always quite a blessing. When I’m in the States they seem to give me presents. The Americans are always very generous and I always get really beautiful letters from my Polish fans.
You’re huge in Poland and you even did a performance in my old neighborhood in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, which is a super Polish area.
Oh yeah, in Warsaw. It was great – we had Pierogis afterwards.
Did you get a chance to grab a donut from Peter Pan Bakery?
No…what am I missing! I’m missing out on something.
Yes! There’s an old school Polish bakery on Manhattan Avenue with the best donuts. Like seriously, the line on a Saturday morning is down the block.
Oh wow. Next time I’m in.
What is it about the theme of unrequited love that is so appealing to you lyrically?
It just makes me want to sing about it. It’s that feeling, that frustration. I can never really get enough, it makes me want to perform better. I think it’s this nostalgia of watching too many teen films where the girl never gets the guy that she wants. Maybe that’s why.
There’s also something pretty timeless and human about unrequited love.
Yeah, totally. Maybe feeling like you’re not good enough for something or you’re not getting the respect or the thing that you want, and I think it’s a universal language to be able to sing in.
But now you’re happy and married!
To be honest it’s not any different! It’s just kind of like now I don’t have to call him my fucking fiancé, which is a stupid word.
It’s really nice. We’re a team, and we’ve been together forever so it’s not kind of like, Oh! I’ve got to learn about you now. It’s like, I know him. He knows me. We just know that now we have to put up with each other for the rest of our lives. It’s fun, it’s really good, it’s nice to call him my husband. I got married and literally we haven’t been able to enjoy the fact that we got married because I’m constantly not home.
You’re a huge Prince fan, aren’t you?
Prince has really, really inspired this record. I don’t think that it necessarily sounds very “Prince,” but it does have the sassiness of Prince and the unique way he delivers something. I always love a bit of an 80s edge. There’s a song called “Tough Love” on the album, which definitely sounds a bit like “Pink Corvette.”
Were there any surprises in the studio?
It was really easy. It felt far less painful for me, and I think that’s because I felt more ready to write this album. It was really fun and it actually came together very, very quickly. The idea flowed and there were no dramas in the studio at all.
The song I keep going back to is “Kind of…Sometimes…Maybe.”
Good. I’m so glad, because that is my favorite.
Really! Oh my god. I know we’re talking about Prince and the 80s but to me that song has a very 90s R&B, “Red Light Special” TLC kind of scenario.
Totally. It’s really fun that record. It’s a song that unashamedly confident. When I talk about the content it’s not unrequited at all it’s completely the opposite, which is a quite new way for me to write a song because I’m so into the bitter sweet. But this one is very confident, and I wouldn’t have written a song like that if it wasn’t for Miguel, because he was like, “I want to show everyone you are a sassy and very confident woman. People should know that.” I was like, ‘Oh god, do people want to know that?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, fuck yeah!’ So it was really with the help of Miguel that that kind of persona came out, and I’m very, very happy that he made me do it. And it’s so fun live, too!
I can’t even begin to tell you the things that one considers during writer’s block.
It all starts off seemingly inoffensive. You’re pushed back in your chair, and you begin erasing sentence after sentence. Doubting the start, doubting that verb. You begin to take hours if not days on one post simply because the words are not flowing out. So, you push back and you work on something else. You jump from page to page, reading articles that are tickling your senses, inciting your opinions, but not enough to form a complete thought. At first, you know better and are not alarmed, but as weeks pass and you feel no desire to narrate, you begin to panic.
You go from not wanting to “force it” to not wanting to address it.
You gaze out at people at dinner tables, noticing the quiet conversation the two in the corner are having. You begin to mentally record their movements. You analyze the weight of each gesture. You pay close attention to their hands and the inclinations in their bodies. Do they love each other? Am I the only one seeing this? And for a brief moment, you think you have a love story on your hands, until suddenly they turn and the moment is lost. Your story breaks. The chemistry has faded and you begin to search for a better cooked version of a story than what you just spit up.
For moments at a time, you fear that you have lost it. You have lost your storytelling abilities and you’re doomed to write basic, technical content for the rest of your life. Slowly, you lose conviction in being certain that you have something positive to say or perhaps something that people aren’t already bored to read. Every plot that you begin to create seems to already exist.
A lack of creativity makes you more observational, yes, but you also lack the savviness in connecting the details that make a story. A man on a motorcycle is simply a man on a motorcycle and for all it’s worth, you forget to imagine where he is coming from and where is he off to. This is when you begin to wonder if you have to give up your “present” practice in order to keep the creative juices flowing. Work or inner peace, what’ll it be?
I have always thought that the more confusing, unclear phases in life are very similar to writer’s block. Most of us panic when they’ve lost that sense of conviction and balance in our lives. Unnerved the reality that is uncertainty, we squirm, jumping from conclusion to conclusion, blaming things, themselves, and others.
But we all seem to forget that every part of life is just a phase, which is the very thing that writer’s block will teach you. It’s just part of the writing process and every time you come out of it, you learn that your focus needed to be on something else, even if it was just digesting the fogginess of writer’s block itself.
Because on a random Sunday evening, when you have all but thrown out your pen, you come across an email from someone that you forgot to respond to weeks ago. In pajamas, you have nothing else to do, so in the most relaxed, unfocused manner, you dive into details about the day, the characters, and the spaces that you have filled in that days passed. Days you thought you were unable to connect and uninteresting. You realize that it was never turned “off.” As you begin to wrap up, you realize that you have written yourself a story. And just like that, you know what you want to say and when to say it. You begin to pull things out and push things in. You begin to sit up in your chair. You begin to elaborate with conviction. And without realizing, in a relaxed and unfocused manner, just like that, you begin to write again.
Witchcraft in the Middle Ages
The original Christian view of witchcraft in the Middle Ages was that it wasn’t real and could do no serious harm because it didn’t exist. It took many years, various arguments of theologians, a number of inquisitor’s manuals, and a series of papal bulls (written letters by the Pope of judgment and command) to contradict that traditional Christian idea and identify witchcraft as heresy and blasphemous. Eventually in1484, Pope Innocent VIII, in his bull Summis desiderantes, allowed the Inquisition to pursue “witches”. The idea of a “witch hunt” is not limited to witches. People against witches were also against Jews, Muslims, lepers, or any group of people the Church disliked. Very few people that were involved in these hunts had any tie to magic or witchcraft that historians are aware. The trials had little to do with actual witchcraft. Witch hunting was officially banned in England in 1736 when the Witchcraft Act was passed.
Burning a witch at the stake was a fairly rare occurrence. It took a great amount of effort to make the stakes and pyres for burnings whereas ropes were reusable and you could perform dozens of hangings in a single day. Hangings were much more cost-effective and efficient. Over the period of 10 months 165 people were accused of being a witch in Salem, and 31 were imprisoned. However, only 19 (18 women and one man) were put to death. None of them were burned at the stake; the women were hanged. The man refused to admit he was a witch and was crushed to death with stones as the authorities tried to elicit a confession. His last words were a defiant, “More weight!”
Origins of Modern Witchcraft
The most widely observed witchcraft-based religion in the western world is the faith system Wicca, which was officially recognized as a religion in the U.S. in the early 90‘s. It was created in the early 1940’s by Gerald Gardner and is largely based on ancient druidism. The word wicce was Anglo-Saxon in origin, and meant “to bend” and evolved into the Middle English wicche, or from masculine Old English wicca, meaning “sorceror”. It is the root of the words “witch” and “wicked.” Wicca was formed as a sort of “spin-off,” if you will, of Druidry, a celtic religion that existed more than a thousand years ago. One problem with this, however, is that the Druidic order was an oral tradition, so nothing about their rituals was written down, meaning most of the modern practices are based largely on guesswork and outsider accounts.
Potions and their Ingredients
Names like “Cat’s Paw” or “Maiden Hair” often written as ingredients of spells or potions are code words used in place of plants. It was a common practice among farming people to disguise the names of herbs and other such plants so that others wouldn’t know what their different recipes and potions actually contained. Some are actually the proper names for certain herbs. There really are plants called “Serpent’s Tongue”, “Bird’s Foot”, and “Mouse’s Ear.”
A short list can be found here.
The term “pagan” originally meant “rustic” or “country-dweller”. Paganism refers to ancient religions (like Druidry or the pantheons of the Greek and Roman Empire). Neopagansim refers to new faith systems or reconstructions of old religions (like Wicca and Theodism). The four categories of neo-paganism are Animism (the belief that non-human entities are spiritual beings), Polytheism (belief in more than one god), Pantheism (the view that the Universe or Nature and God are identical), and Shamanism (the belief that shamans are intermediaries or messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds).
Witchcraft and Satanism
The notion that witches worship Satan is false. Most pagan religions and belief systems are not based in Christianity, they have no concept of Satan, and therefore cannot worship him. There are Satanists who do, but there are two types of Satanism; Laveyan and Luciferan. Luciferans, as Satan-worshippers, are the original branch of Satanism. Levayen Satanism, which is Atheistic, was introduced in the 1970’s by a man called Anton LaVey. Laveyan Satanism is a relatively “new” branch of Satanism, whereas Luciferan Satanism has existed as long as Christians have acknowledged “Satan” as a entity. Luciferan Satanists are the only magic-practicing religion who worship the Christian Satan.
In Western magic, “sigils” are symbols connected to a set of ideas by which spirits or deities may be summoned to awareness and controlled. They are used in divinatory practices. The term is derived from the Latin “sigilum” meaning “seal.” The sigil itself does not call forth the spirit, but serves as a physical focus through which the magician achieves the desired state of mind.
It is possible to trace the origin of witch hunting to an incident that occurred in 1208. Two of the Pope’s Inquisitors were staying in a house in Avignonet, in the south of France. They were staying there to root out heretics. In the middle of the night, a knight of Raymond VI, who believed that the Old Testament God was a demon, was admitted to the house. He slaughtered Pierre de Castelnau. After this murder, the Pope was determined to stamp out heretics at all costs. A bloody crusade followed. Cathars were dragged from their homes and burned. In 1244, two hundred of them were burned on a gigantic bonfire at Montsegur. Those that survived were no longer accused of heresy – they were accused of a new and strange crime: conspiring with the devil or, as it came to be known, witchcraft.
The Salem Witch trials did not start in Salem MA. They started in Salem Village, now known as Danvers. In the early part of the year 1692 a small town located near Salem was massacred by Native Americans and this put the village of Salem on alert. Salem, besides being full of fear for their own safety was looking for divine intervention to either help or perhaps deters their preservation as a community. A major factor contributing to the mass hysteria that lead to “witch-hunts” and hangings was the deep rooted Salem rivalry between the village folk of the west part of town and the village folk of the east side of town; westerners were farmers and the easterners were businessmen/store owners. A theory that can not be verified holds that the reason for the hysteria in Salem was due to their grain supply being infected by ergot, which can cause hallucinations.
Divination and Philtres
Ornithomancy is the Greek term for the practice of divination by observing the flight of songbirds. Margaritomancy is a form of divination which uses a pearl covered with a vase which was utilized during trials. The vase was placed near a fire while names of subjects were read aloud. When the name of the guilty person was pronounced supposedly the pearl would bound up and pierce the bottom of the vase. Philtre, a potion that causes one to fall in love with another person, were popular in the Middle Ages, but lost favor to charms and spells in the 17th and 18th centuries. Philtres are still produced in some folk-magic traditions, but are strictly forbidden in most neo-Pagan religions.