adrienmundi: (Default)
I've been reading my way through the 3rd edition of the RPG Unknown Armies lately, and I keep running into frustration. I love the idea ("broken people trying to fix the world"), and the broad strokes concepts (avatars of archetypes, ritual and "chaos" magic, modern schools of reality bending), and the central notion that human belief and action can change everything...

But. The mechanical details have driven me crazy since a previous version, and it clicked for me today. Everything feels too tidy, too small, too contained, systemically, despite all the descriptive writing about how everything is up for grabs. My impression, for better or worse, is that this is a creative bit of game design for the writer, and from that perspective, it's pretty good (made it to a 3rd edition, after all). What it does not seem to be is an attempt reflect any given flavor of mystical/magical experience into collaborative storytelling form.

I'm drawn to this setting, this concept because (to mangle St Jeanette) the kind of stories we tell one another matter. Stories matter. I want to share some of my world with others, both in the general this-is-how-things-are-connected/this-means-more-than-you-might-think and in the more generally mystical experiences. I am very open with potential players that I want to plant my seeds in their heads, while hoping to have their seeds take root in mine. These rules aren't for that, I don't think. They're too small a container for what I hope to achieve.

Now to figure out if they can serve as a working foundation.I think the setting is redeemable; I think the cosmology will require some substantial change. I *think* I can work that into the narrative, if players will indulge me.

(It strikes me that I keep returning to this because I don't write, don't think I have the discipline to learn to write, and want a faster feedback loop than I think writing enables. It could be laziness and familiarity, too.)
adrienmundi: (Default)
(Originally posted on my G+, even though I intend to make LJ my space for "spiritual" concerns)

I'm not a syncretist. More and more,syncretism just pisses me off. Not only does it seem incredibly disrepectful to locality, it also seems incredibly presumptuous and lazy. I encounter this most in (largely white, privileged)“alternative spirituality” or “New Age” contexts, which is why I suspect I've had such an approach/retreat history with what's packaged as spirituality.

I mean to include monism, “all is one/god/source” attempts to absorb local experience. It's one thing to say, “I see it as all of a piece that manifests differently at different times/places, and for different people” but quite another to say “your experience is subordinate to my ordering of theworld/universe”. To describe the subjective with a definitive is comes across as a form of ideological violence if delivered without qualifications.

I experience the world as being full of local presences/personalities and subjective feelings, and I'm very OK with that. In fact, one of the joys of even local travel, or differing time/climate/context, is feeling out the differences in those points of contact. For me, this is a key part of mindfulness and immmediacy (I find this can carry over into many aspects of mylife, and it's refreshing and illuminating, in a Heraclitian way).

That's not to say I'm against tracing lineages of spirituality, gods, practices, etc. Hell, tracing lineages (of ideas, music, etc.) is one of my favorite pastimes. It's entirely possible to be aware of movements or migrations and still engage with the local. For example, one can talk all day about the lineage of punk rock and still acknowledge the differences between London, NY and West Coast styles. Why this isn't done in “spiritual”circles, when curmudgeonly music critics and fans can still manage to, only adds to my irritation.
adrienmundi: (Default)
I've never really paid attention to the idea of totemic animals or anything like that, tending to dismiss them as misappropriated concepts from indigenous cultures, wish fulfillment or the embodiment of longing for greater connection with the natural world, so I'm kind of ill prepared to face the daily interactions and I have with certain animals and the seeming significance of those interactions, namely crows and spiders.

Since I was a child, spiders have freaked me out. Up until the past five years or so, they've also been the only animal that consistently showed up in my dreams, almost always out of context of the rest of the dream. Due to some inspiration from a friend, I'm mostly over my spider issues. I speak to the ones I see (usually small), and feel protective of them most of the time. I don't quite understand what it's about, but I notice them a lot, and seem to have way more contact with them than I recall before, or hear others talk about.

Crows sort of thrust themselves into my awareness for the first time about seven years ago, then faded for about four or five years. In the recent past, I can't seem to go outside (at work, at home, in my neighborhood) without hearing their calls, which will often repeat until I locate them, make and hold eye contact for a moment. I'm starting to be able to identify the different sounds, and speak to them, too, when they're around. The connection there feels very different than with spiders; more conscious, more engaged, occasionally playful, almost like an extended social group (they are intelligent, social, tool using animals, so maybe I'm projecting, or responding to what I know of them). I feel like I get the crow connection more than the spider, even though I don't know what to do with either.

So I guess my questions start with: does this sound at all familiar to anyone? If so, are there resources any of you might recommend to get more information on this? I'm sure I'll have more questions as I go forward, so any information anyone has to offer would be greatly appreciated.

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