My mother who was born in a Slovenian village and migrated to a central Qld country town constantly noticed supernatural events. She spoke of women with malign intentions as to be feared, and constantly looked out for them. On bad days she resembled the object of her fears, but thankfully often her silvery virgoan smile broke out when she was distracted.
I returned to the home country in 2002 and my sexy army buddy Marko was a bit embarassed to hear of such oldtime superstitions. But I persisted and he admitted that socially withdrawn women in rural areas were still called “vestica”. Further than that he would not comment. The movie Witches of Eastwick talks of how women are close to the strange powers of mother earth.
Somehow when I travelled to Sydney in the early 1970′s I fell in with a King’s Cross crowd, the suburb that had been home to the witch Rosaleen Norton; several groups including mine among the counter culture were interested in the occult. A bloke I got to know among the hippy workers at the “irrational and strange” telephone exchange, was dazzled with Barbara Streisand’s role in On A Clear Day You Can See Forever. His version of vestica was to grow an amazing rooftop garden in Darlinghurst, and yes, he baby talked to his seedlings.
My movie magic came from Bell Book and Candle. Here I seem to have returned to the “Bah Humbug” of the previous chapter. The witch of the film says: I hate Christmas, it always depresses me. Like her I had inherited my Pyewacket, a Tonkinese cat I called Chook. I was living in Elizabeth Bay, it seemed an indigenous power zone and delivered a psychic kick to the backside whenever I exited and re-entered the precinct. At the end of my street a bloke had an occult bookshop, he was a truly cloudy person; next door a couple ran a gallery. They later moved to University administration in Canberra.
I cannot remember when I began to read the novels of Dion Fortune, I reread about five of them, atmospheric, didactic, not psychologically penetrative. In the Winged Bull she says that there is no such thing as evil, just force misapplied. Her other preoccupation was the possibility of being dominated by other psychic beings.
I discussed this topic with a woman who had progressed through a magical initiation; our mutual friend often seemed to make his presence felt from a distance. She described the sensation as an annoying buzzing in the brain. He once told me he envied my energy levels; could I give him some of mine, he asked. I was quite under his “spell” at the time, and often herbally becalmed; I was used to his unusual insights and requests.
These friends initiated with the Dawn of Ra. I remember looking at the book in an Aquarian shop and registering almost a compulsive reaction that its contents were childish nonsense. Friends could not decide whether I had subconsciously protected myself with such a reaction. My life led me instead to T’ai Chi, in which I soon excelled, creating a dramatic, large-limbed series of movements. Along with this practice I studied Taoism, where I read that during the Han dynasty male and female magicians engaged in occult contests to deplete their opponent’s energy level. Often this was a Tantric or sexual ritual; my friend who was bisexual told me that sex with women seemed to replenish his energy, while going with other guys left him flat. We had never engaged in these practices, though he encouraged friends with benefits.
But he seemed to be a preoccupation that I return to. Our friendship fractured due to duplicity and jealousy in the early 1990′s. These days my interpretation of events take a reincarnational aspect. Often it is said that consecutive incarnations reverse the fortunes or role of a previous life. If that is the case, my current struggle is about compensating for unethically dominating other beings in the past. With the justice of that, as WB Yeats said, I am content. I know I often talk over people, and going along with others is a life skill I practise reluctantly. But life is about learning and doing, not self congratulation.
In his Graceland album Paul Simon sang: “every generation throws a hero up the pop charts; medicine is magical and magical is art… & I believe…” Magically, wonderfully shining like a national guitar.