It was a few Sundays past when Deb, some friends, and I went to the McKittrick again to do a little inner exploration, whilst seeing another magnificent showing of Sleep No More. As always, I go for the Omens, also as a litmus of how my own mental state is down deep.
|A tea party full of ghosts.|
Masks are amazing. When you shed notoriety in favor of anonymity you can see how you would act if certain social pressures and accountability were not there. I found myself more brash, more daring, and more patient than I had expected. I also found that I am easily swayed by the sweeter things.. in this case literal candy. What would you do, if no one could link you to your actions? If you got a free pass in costume, what would you do? Who would you be?
I was a person who had tea with a Goddess, and was sent my way with a warning and a kiss. I attended the Sabbat and saw the power of one lone tree. I also found myself more brave, more brash, and way more of a stalker than I had previously thought myself.
According to RuPaul, "We are born naked, everything else is drag". Which gives us our "everyday drag" of our waking life. If you treat it as such, your costume for your big performance of the day, it can take some of the pressure off you. You can be who you need to be, because you are trying on a role, but not linking it to your sense of self.
Everyone has some core values, and other things that really link them into a coherent person. In Indian thought the force that does this identifying is the "ahamkara", very roughly translated as the "I Maker". It's the force of self identity. However it can identify with just about anything. Right now it is identifying with your body, emotions, mind, the food you just ate, any ideals that you value, etc. Anything that makes a solid seeming "you" is strung together by the ahamkara. Now, those things change, and in many people are quite arbitrary. Even things that aren't "yours" by virtue of you being physically attached to them can be quite powerful identifiers. My children, my church, my wife, my job, my car can, and do often define those who identify with them. Many times more so than their own body. If there was a choice of losing an organ, or a limb to save the person or thing or cause you love most.. then my wife becomes more important than my hand. But both are claimed as "mine".
One of the fun things about modern media and advertising is that it is intentionally effecting your ahamkara. It is engineered to do so. Especially advertising. Branding is a sign of ownership. When you are strutting around wearing your Sunday best, heavily embossed with logo after logo in fractal geometric forms, you are literally wearing a brand. Like livestock.
"Brand whoring" is a delightful form of status acquisition where you are learning to identify yourself
with the brand (moo.) of the richest and fanciest you can find. If something wears my brand that is a sign to everyone that I own it, not the other way around. This is uppity middle class behavior. This is a disease of the nouveau riche. The problem comes when people forget it is a game. In some circles you DO need to engage in this behavior to make contacts and get along. You have to keep up with the Jones's juuuust enough to make them keep up with you. Louis, Fendi, Juicy, emblazon, emboss, and inscribe their logos EVERYWHERE on their products. That is so you know where you fit in the socio-economic scheme of things, and so everyone else does too. At higher ends, Hermes is very understated. They tend to do art for arts own sake, and make a mint off of doing it. Being French, they also tell you what you will be paying for their art. If you don't buy it, someone else will. If you have to price drop how much you spent on your Birkin, you are rolling with the "wrong crowd", and are gauche for even mentioning price.
I am not saying that a person can't like what they like, or appreciate something genuinely well made, but do realize that is not the POINT of the brand. The brand exists to show people to whom you have the privilege of belonging. It's a focal point, a hook for your ahamkara. It's also a swindle, a con. But here, not only do you get conned OUT of money, you get conned IN to having an object prop up your sense of self! Fun!
However, as the Ash Covered God teaches us: Everything burns. Loss will inevitably taint any outsourced identifier, and then the bereft will be left with a hole in their identity that can be filled up with.. anything at random, or some few things on purpose.
One neat trick that some yogis would do to those who were especially troublesome to them, would be to liberate them from their limited ahamkaras, and have them fully identify with the formless absolute, which not only liberates them from bondage to the world, but also totally makes them drop dead. When you aren't identifying with your body, personality, etc, what is left to hold on to? It's also a neat way to avoid some negative karmic consequences if you planned on killing someone anyway.
Now, how to change your identifiers? That is a bit trickier. Deb did a great personality overhaul system in her New Year/New You, which she's used with the greatest of success. Those of us who have been watching have really seen RO blossom into RO Mark 8 through ritual, rebellion, and force of Will. Gordon in addition to being continually amazing, has shown us how other forces want to tell us who we are so they can drink us dry of our... oil, money, mind, will, everything. (Helpful hint: Television is trying to make you into its own image.. try not to latch on to anything you see there.)
Honestly, the change part is easy to explain and hard to accomplish.
1. Take inventory. What do you keep, and what do you toss? What isn't useful anymore?
2. Pick up more things you want to become. Study, focus, meditate, do ritual, make art.
3. Drop the things you don't like, and let them stay dropped. Old urges will pop up. Don't fight them, but don't give in. Allow them to run their course and burn themselves out. Fighting them gives them energy. This is a marathon, not a sprint.
4. Lather, rinse, repeat.
5. Have fun. (It is a game after all.)
Some skills and tools to help the process: Meditation. Psychedelics. Trauma. Love. Art. Exhaustion. Sickness. Peak Experiences. Trench Experiences. Purging your closet. Purging your bookshelf. Pintrest Window Shopping. Breaking inconsequential habits. Breaking major habit patterns. Sexual experimentation (be safe!). Anything that shakes the ant farm. Periods of total media/social network blackout. Write a story. Paint a picture.
Life is immersive theater. Life is a role playing game. Non player characters are plot devices. Player characters drive the story. Be a player character.