Saying No and Saying Yes

Catherynne Valente went back to Fairyland in the wake of the election. “The first magic anyone learns is saying No,” purred the Leopard of Little Breezes. “It’s how you know a baby is starting to turn into a person. They run around saying no all day, throwing their magic at everything to see what it’ll stick to. And if they say No loud enough, and often enough, and to the right person, strange things will happen. The nasty supper is taken away. The light is left on at night instead of turned out. The toy comes out of the shop window. It is such old magic, such basic magic, that most folk don’t even know it’s magic anymore.” "But we…we must say Yes to each other. We must say Yes to the needful, to the suffering, to the lonely, to those the Marquess punishes for saying No to her. We must band together, back to back, and say Yes to everyone who lost today, for we are all family now, and our loss is our new last name." The Leopard of Little Breezes is wise. (For those who don't know, Valente wrote the Fairyland books, beginning with The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. The Green Wind, the Leopard of Little Breezes, and A-Through-L are all characters from those books. They're just waiting for a new protagonist to come along, is all.)...

Undead Spiders

Just before I try to sleep, drugged and out of it, I run across this gem on twitter: The necromancer's undead spiders built ghost webs, to catch loose bits of souls. When there's enough to make a person, loneliness will end. --@MicroSFF...

Mirrors, Liminal and Interstitial

I have been, for as long as I can remember, fascinated with in-between places. With doors and windows and elevators, with foothills and beaches. Crossroads. Corners. Thresholds. Gaps. Cracks. Magic, of course, is always bound up with these things, with the liminal and the interstitial. And Hekate, of course, is a goddess of these things. Hekate of the Three Ways, Hekate of the Threshold, Hekate Who Stands In the Gate. My fiction reading lately has been stirring up some of this. First it was The Uncertain Places by Lisa Goldstein, which is laced with fairytales and doorways and unused rooms, with spiders and enchanted sleep, and with magic hills. It never uses the term “liminal”, but this is precisely what the title refers to. Child of a Rainless Year, by Jane Linskold, uses the term liberally, in ways taken from mythology, psychology, magic, art theory, and more. It discusses both the concept and the practicality more directly. The magic in it makes much uses of mirrors, too. I keep sort of… brushing past mirror magic. Flirting with it, glancing off it, doing some research and then backing away, buying mirrors and then leaving them in their boxes. It’s complicated for me. As a woman, I’ve been told my whole life to care greatly about my looks, and to be incredibly critical of them, and as a fat woman I’ve been told to hate my body. When I decided I didn’t want to do these things, my reflection became something I avoided, since it tended to trigger a relapse into self-criticism. I lost track of what my own face looked like. Later, I would force myself to look in mirrors, to really see my face and body, to understand them, to find things I liked. I was fascinated with mirrors as objects, but had trouble with them because of my own reflection, which always got in the way. When I moved into this house, the first house I owned, I bought a lot of mirrors, whatever appealed to me. I wanted to hang them all in the bedroom, make a wall of mirrors, in different shapes and sizes, with and without frames. I bought an antique dressing table with a triple mirror, and an old freestanding full-length mirror, both in dark woods. Most of the mirrors, though, stayed in boxes or bubble wrap, and none of them were ever hung. One, a large round mirror framed in driftwood, is now the centerpiece of my Dionysos altar, although it remains draped unless I’m actually working with it, because it’s not meant for casual gazing, and not meant to be seen by others. Actually, most of the mirrors — the standing mirror and the ones on the vanity especially — that aren’t in the bathrooms are usually draped, as if in a house where there’s been a death. My wife dislikes looking in mirrors more than I ever did, and doesn’t want to catch one unexpectedly. I have no problem with that. She feels what she feels, and I am, of course, going to respect that. It turns out to be a good thing I never put up all those mirrors. I doubt I could ever have convinced her to spend time in my bedroom (before it was ours) if they were there. There’s power in an exposed looking glass, an eye on the world, showing us what’s there, making us look at reality by showing it to us backwards. Standing as a window, a doorway, to other places, too, showing the house where Alice went, where she found the Garden of Living Flowers and the Chessboard. Giving spirits a glimpse of the mortal world, letting them look out at us. That’s where the tradition of covering mirrors when there’s a death comes from, you know: a newly-dead shade, looking for the way to the next life, can be trapped there, too caught up in watching their loved ones to move on. Covered mirrors have power too; secrets, hidden worlds, an implication that the dead visit here. Our mirrors are not covered with intent, and the mirrors left uncovered break that symbolism, but they stand to remind me. But the act of covering and uncovering my altar mirror does have intent and meaning, stands for a mystery I have seen, allows me to touch on it again. I think now of necromantic mirrors — necromancy in the Greek sense, divination by communication with the dead — of transformative mirrors in triplicate, to stand between, and find the change I want among my many reflections, and bring it forth; of mirrors of illusion. I have a mirror for truth and a black mirror for scrying already, though I use them rarely. Child of a Rainless...