Saturday, May 26, 2012

Voodoo, Energy, Positive Thinking--Magic or Fact

I'm sure someone has told you somewhere along the line to "always look on the bright side of life..."

When Monty Python tells me to keep my head up I smile and laugh, when the average person tells me I want to smack them.  Maybe not really smack them, but I certainly develop one of those dark ink-scratch clouds over my head like Charles Schulz drew over Linus's head when Lucy tried to steal his blanket.

But I am pondering whether our states of mind can actually affect our quality of life.  And I also question if a practice like voodoo is merely a self-induced hypnosis where we can harm ourselves by over-thinking something to the point of creating a self-fulfilling prophesy.

There are endless books on positive thinking where we are told how to remove anything bad from our minds and to only focus on the good, happy, and helpful.  The queen of affirmations is probably Louise Hay who has helped endless people with her books, workshops, and recordings.

Are affirmations just a form of reverse-voodoo? 

Do we actually have the ability to make things happen with out thoughts?  Some people think we do.  Dr. Keith Scott-Mumbly believes we can help ourselves or harm ourselves by how we think.  He even believes we sometimes accidentally sabotage ourselves with unconscious thought patterns.  Supposedly we develop patterns when we are very young as defense mechanisms and methods of survival.  As we grow and leave the situations that caused us to develop these necessary patterns, we continue to use them though we no longer need them.  Now instead of helping us these patterns hinder us.  Read how we can help ourselves with reprogramming according to Dr. Mumbly:

My personal opinion on the topic stems from a famous quote by Eleanor Roosevelt.  The quote says "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."  Everyone loves this quote.  It is supposed to be empowering--I feel it is dangerous.  I believe it could hurt someone who is truly depressed and needs help they cannot muster from within.  It could make someone feel worse who is stuck in a terrible situation and cannot figure a way out.

While I do believe we should always do our best and assume everything will be OK, I also think we should seek help when needed and NOT feel bad if we can't pull it off ourselves.

Now back to the magic.

If we eat purely healthy food, supposedly our bodies improve.  New skin in 30 days, our liver can regenerate in 6 weeks, and our skeleton is replaced in 3 years by new cells.  So why can't we do the same with our minds.  Could we actually think ourselves into a better situation?  If our thoughts are as pure as organic food can we do magic?

Mystics believe that we can.  A tulpa is "the concept of a being or object which is created through sheer discipline alone. It is a materialized thought that has taken physical form and is usually regarded as synonymous to a thoughtform." 

I have never had the ability to completely change a thought pattern if my emotions are pushing me in the other direction.  I love the idea of true magic, but I am not convinced in one direction or another.  If anyone has a magical story to share--I would LOVE to hear it :)

Please read about tulpas on Day 46 of 100 Unfortunate Days:

Day 46

Anything can be a tulpa. If you think of something long enough, you will make it real. You can make almost anything come true. Stacks of books are written about all the methods of imagery, manifestation and self-fulfilling prophecies—but in reality, all you have to do is think. Nothing tricky or fancy—just think. You’ll do this and you won’t even know it. You will worry about your kid…she’ll be sad at school, she’ll do badly with her new friends. Just keep it up—it will surely happen. Whatever you think about for your kids, whatever you worry about—that is what they will become. Pity them and they will become the kid that should be pitied. You gave them a tulpa. They are their own tulpa because of you. People take things away from us all the time. They call names, they give us wrong directions and they hurt our feelings. We take it from there. No one can ever talk to us as much as we talk to ourselves. “I’m such a witch, I’m such a witch…” One day your husband made you mad and you add something to his food that may upset his stomach just a little bit. “I’m such a witch…” The mole on your face has a hair you never noticed before. “…such a witch…” You no longer feel a communion with God. Somewhere along the line you become the witch. A tulpa is a thought come to life. Mystics in India believe if you can imagine something to the point of knowing it down to its finest detail—eventually you will have a hard time knowing if it is your imagination or not. Then this spirit/idea takes on shape and energy and it becomes real. So real that you can no longer get rid of it. So real that it can become a part of you and have the ability to change your life.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Horror--Pick Your Pleasure

I am lucky enough to be in a group called TESSpecFic, a group of speculative writers, and we are the writers of weird.  We are also the writers of horror, dark fantasy, and many other genres.

Our leader and group creator, Marie Loughlin, suggested we tackle the question, what is horror, and how does it differ from dark fantasy?

Oh, the delicious idea of horror, and oh, the dark and twisted and avenues we can meander down.  There are many categories and subtle sub-categories of horror to explore--but I am going to reduce them to two. 

For some, horror is very direct, shocking, and gory: 

A group of unsuspecting and vulnerable teens is chainsawed, hung on meat hooks and destroyed...

Kidnapped victims are forced to run through razor wire, remove their own eyes, or cut off their limbs...

Travelers are sadistically tortured, an important organ is cut from a man and fed to a dog, and blood and pieces of flesh fly with wild abandon...

If there are no blood and guts, some do not consider it to be "true" horror.  The fluff and psychological inferences do not fly as anything but boring.  This faction of people likes nothing left to the imagination.  They live for the cringe factor--the more in-your-face, the better.  Zombies eating intestines, werewolves ripping throats, serial killers dismembering, and psychopaths torturing fit neatly into this category. 

For others, horror is a subtle and divine head-trip.  Not always as direct, and sometimes teetering on the verge of another category, this horror can be reminiscent of those fuzzy-vague nights of our teens...exciting, thrilling, heart-pumping, yearning, and sometimes terrifying.

A disembodied voice warns of terrible future events...

A dismantling of reality is slowly replaced with a growing realization of madness...

A boy commits suicide by shooting himself in the head, and his surviving brother is given the horrible weapon as a birthday present by his parents...

When something is seductive and beautiful, we cannot help but look at it.  When that something is slowly torn down, ruined, changed, and broken--we are riveted.  When our inner voices morph and we question what is sane and what is madness, we ponder our own sanity, and we need to know more.  When we watch a villain suffer and we feel a tingle of joy, we question our morals and we question our decency.

Whether you like subtle or in your face horror the need and satisfaction is all the same--we experience things we could never experience otherwise, revenge, murder, suicide, torture, sadism, masochism, cannibalism and a host of other treats from the safety of a theater, our living room couch, or our favorite chair as we read a book in the dark.

Fantasy is a category of writing where medieval myths and concepts are the main focus.  I think it could be easy for a dark fantasy book to cross the line into the horror-zone simply because of the direction of the story.  For instance, a queen kidnapped and tortured in a very Hostel-like environment would still, in my opinion, be considered dark fantasy and not horror because of the medieval premise. 

But I am also a believer in sub-sub-sub categories that cannot be found on Amazon.

For example, where does possession fit?  Is it horror?  A memoir?  Occult?

So dark fantasy should have more branches below it on the flow chart.  Horror fantasy, black comedy, dark memoirs, and non-fiction occult are a few categories I would love to see added to our genre choices.

I also think that all genres can bleed into almost any other genre, no pun intended--and I don't want to take the magic out of the topic by dissecting (sorry) it too much.

Please visit the other members of TESSpecFic and read their views of horror.

Marie Loughin
Jaye Manus
Paul D. Dail
Kim Koning
Aniko Carmean
Jonathan D. Allen

      *  What is horror?  Baby Don't Hurt Me...

Thanks Marie!