Friday 28 June 2013

Mage: the Ascension


Interview with Phil Brucato co-creator of Mage the Ascension (extracts)

“One of the main things, the Sphere system itself was already done by that point.

One of the things that really drew me to Mage, I never liked playing magic users. I found them boring,. For me, for every other roleplaying system up until Mage, it was; you’re a weak little dude who runs around and you got this big book of spells that as a character and a player you have to memorize, and a spell does this much by this much for this many turns, and it does this; its all very mechanical.

I’m pagan. I’m pagan to a degree I believe in magic, I’m familiar with the way that magic works in the real world, whether you’re looking at that as art or as a fantasy construct or as a belief system. And its not like that. It’s not a ten by ten square of effect and a dice for every level of the magic user. I never liked that. I always played thieves and fighters and stuff like that. I never wanted to play a magic using character until I read the manuscript for Mage 1st edition. I said holy fucking shit; Magic is an extension of the mage, Yes! That’s the way it works.

The Sphere system is definitely cumbersome, it can get very frustrating to work with. Mage is one of those games where its either its fantastically easy and intuitive for the people with that kind of mindset and its phenomenally complicated and brain breaking for a different mindset. One of the things I realized is this is going to be one of those games that only the right people like. A number of people are not going to like it. I’m coming to the table with the knowledge that some people will absolutely hate this. I’m not going to make it trying to please everybody I’m going to make it for the people who get it. Of all of the stuff in Mage I think the thing the original designers did absolutely right is that concept that magic is an extension of the person who uses it.

A big part of what I brought into that was the idea of reinforcing the belief of the mage, taking the mechanical element of Foci which you discard when you get to this part and extending it to the Foci of your ritual tools which are a symbolic extension of your beliefs. You believe in something and because you believe in something you believe the world works like this. Because you believe the world works like this you use this tool to direct your Intention this way, thus you use the tools that channel your belief toward your desire end. As Crowley said it; ‘Magic is the art and the science of altering reality in conforming with will.’ That’s what I wanted to bring to it. That element was originally there but I wanted to reinforce that what you’re doing when using the spheres is you’re taking you’re belief and you’re changing the world with it, rather than just ‘I cast my fireball at you, ha ha ha’."

Arete (pronounced: ah’ret’tay)

"It’s a Greek word. It means excellence, translates roughly to excellence. Getting Arete is not just a matter of spending points on it; its also a matter of the Seeking. The concept of seeking is already there but I wanted to play it up more. The idea that you didn’t just spend points to get better, you had to actually expand your consciousness. Arete in a rough English translation for it is excellence, is achievement, understanding, it doesn’t have a direct English translation to it but what it means is to cultivate your heroic self to a greater level.

Not just Power. Because power is not excellence. This is one of my primary themes throughout Mage. Power is a trap. At times it is necessary to have power. It is necessary to understand that you can claim power from within yourself. But most people look at power as something to take from people, and to have. To put yourself over people. We see the results of that every day, everywhere from the schoolyard bullies to abusive parents to rapists to dictators to the bankers who find that there is absolutely nothing wrong with impoverishing whole nations, as long as they get theirs. That’s why power is a trap. That’s one of the other primary things that I brought to Mage was the paradox (small p paradox) that in order to be a Mage you had to understand how to claim power and to have the confidence which is another aspect of Arete, the confidence to wield power. But you had to understand that if you pursued power for its own sake you will destroy yourself and everybody around you. Which is also an intrinsic part of many real world magical practices.

So I wanted to make it that getting Arete is more than just a point spending exercise in order to allow you to throw more dice around; it is actually involves roleplaying challenges, storytelling challenges and the growth of the character and going back to that Aspecting thing; the growth of the player through reflecting on what her character does and what her character is like.

One of the things I always wanted is; What do I the player walk away with after a game? I might have some cool stories but do I learn anything for the real world? Can I bring anything from that into the real world? We look at the things that our characters can do and we go; ‘hmm so that’s what my fantasy self does, what can my real self do?’ And the idea of expanding Arete to a greater level; how you expand the character and yourself, not just the amount of dice you can throw when you throw a firebolt down mainstreet."


"The wheel of quintessence was something that was established when I got there. In terms of how I personally view quintessence, first and foremost it’s a game mechanic. How I view it as a metaphysic: I see it as the quantum energy beneath and within all things. It is a theory of quantum physics that all space is occupied in some form or another, that molecules have… that there is this unstable state, that what we perceive as solid matter is more of an illusionary concept, that we place molecules into, than it is their natural state. Quintessence is what is called in Taoism the Unformed Block. Quintessence is the essence of possibility within all things that is shaped and channeled to become what we see and perceive and work with. It is both flowing energy and, static is the wrong word, and stationary. It is the unchosen possibility. Once you choose it, it takes a certain state. It’s the state of Shroedingers cat when you haven’t opened the box. All this goes into the high flung metaphysic that Mage is infamous for. Essentially its unformed possibility and that’s what mages work with, is unformed possibility.”


“Reality is like thunderdome: when two realities enter, one reality leaves.” Mage20

“One of the fundamental elements of what Mage became came out of endless conversations, endless 3, 4, 5 o’clock in the morning talks, we would spend hours talking about what is Reality? What is Quintessence? That’s frequently when we came up with our best ideas.

I realised through some of those conversations that the core element of Paradox is a Mage causes two realities to exist simultaneously. Only one of them can exist at that time. If the Mage is subtle enough, informed enough, enlightened enough, knowledgeable enough and strong willed enough, her reality will triumph. If she’s not, the overwhelming weight of reality will go [slap] with her. That’s essentially what Paradox is. When I had that realization I was like, that’s what Paradox is. Both in terms of game mechanics and in terms of the setting.

All the groups have different; ‘oh the paradox effect is this’, and ‘oh paradox is this’, ‘no its god punishing you’, ‘no it’s the weight of static reality’, ‘it’s the punishment of the technocracy and the enforcement of oppression upon our kind’.

No. What it is; you are changing the course, you are diverting the current. I describe it as: Think of reality as flowing water. You can step into it, you can splash around in it, you can submerge yourself in it, but if you get a big boulder and drop it in the middle, its probably going to knock your feet out from under you and then you’ll drop it on your head. Unless you drop the boulder very carefully don’t drop it on your feet, at which point reality will go around it. But reality is not going to stop because you dropped a boulder in it; reality keeps going. Your boulder or your effect on reality is going to splash back on you. The bigger you try to make it, the more its going to splash back on you. Coincidental magic is not just hiding your magic so the technocracy doesn’t get you; coincidental magic is going; huh, zen. What can I do the most effect with the least amount of disruption? Its like Aikido. What you’re trying to do is take reality and go, instead of going, I punch reality and punch it in the face! Well reality punches you back. And if you punch hard enough you might give reality a bloody nose, and then reality will kick your arse. But if you can use aikido on it, which is part of what Tao is, its reality-aikido. Its taking reality and making reality flow, as opposed to making reality punch you. Every once in a while you have to punch reality in the face and hope it doesn’t punch you back.

Which is another one of the (small p) paradox of being a mage. By being a mage you change reality, you redirect reality, you pit yourself against reality and you realize you have to be stable enough, strong enough, knowledgeable enough and confident enough to do it. By doing that you risk everything; you risk yourself, you risk damaging the world around you, you risk the things and the people you love, you risk your beliefs. Sometimes you have to risk, which is another essential part of how I believe real life actually works, and its one of the things I have heard a lot of people who love Mage have said; ‘Mage inspired me to believe in myself and believe I could change the world’. That is something that I absolutely believe in. Not only can we change the world but we have a responsibility to change the world.

The reality of the world is, especially these days, the reality of the world is that there are a lot of motherfuckers out there. There are s lot of selfish, greedy, stupid, blockheads out there who want to sit on top of you, who want to sit on top of the things and the people who you value, who want to crush you for their own gain. They will do it if you let them. Don’t fucking let them! And I don’t mean don’t let them as in become one of them; I mean stand up to them and realize that you are not powerless. That to me is the core. If there is one take away from my approach to Mage, if I had to sum it up in one sentence it is this; you are not powerless.

And the paradox of realizing you are not powerless is that it is very very easy to become one of those oppressors if you’re not careful. That is one of the elements I have running through it is that the Technocracy is corrupt. The Marauders obviously are fucking scary. The Traditions are corrupt. The more these Mages get powerful, the more their power oppresses other people. They have to have the power to change the world, that’s what they’re there for. But they become as Pete Townsend put it, meet the new boss same as the old boss. Your small p paradox in Mage is you have the power, you must use the power, but the power can destroy you and everything you hold dear. But you must use it; use it carefully."

"Your personal beliefs are the things that shape your vision of the world, they are also going to shape your magic. They are going to shape the way your magic affects the world for other people. The awakening moment is when you realize that you are not powerless. When you realize that you have the potential to change reality, you have the potential to move the world. You have the potential to be a god, and you realize that. Not just; ‘oh wow, like I can like cast magic, you mean like magic is real, oh wow let me get out my tarot cards and like foretell your future?’ No. It’s the moment where physically, mentally, spiritually, energetically, you go; holy fuck I get it. That’s a real thing.

Mage the Ascension is a metaphor for a lot of stuff but at the core of all the game fictions and the constructs and the spheres and the world changing magics and all of that, there is this ultimate realization of; wait a minute, I can do this. That realization on a metaphysical level is what the Awakening is. It’s the moment of; holy shit, I’m not powerless, I’m not a drone, I’m not a slave to reality and I’m not a slave to what other people enforce on me.

Another small p paradox of the mage is that by realizing this the mage suddenly gets swept up onto a whole other level of being played as a pawn and has to deal with that.

The Awakening is whether, the Awakening could be like the sort of thing you are if you were raised in a mystical culture and ‘oh yes, my ancestors gave me this thing and I went on a vision quest and grandmother spider came to me and told me that I could and I followed the vision and I did it’ or it could be the catastrophic moment where somebody busts into your house, sets it on fire, ties you to the bed, runs out laughing and you go; ‘No! This will not happen!’ It really depends on the character. And the Awakening itself is a fundamental part of the character and the characters story. Everyones is different.”

from the Fragile Path

Interviewer: “With this idea of Cabals and Chantries, what kind of things will we be seeing in Mage 20 with regard to that element?”

“It’s people. It’s the human element. That’s one of the small p paradox. One of the first lines of Mage20 is ‘the problem with men and gods is too many men think they’re gods and too many gods act like men’.

One of the driving ideas of the mage society is even when you have all these high flown ideals, even with all of these powers, even with this ‘I can conceive of the nature of reality, look the motes of quintessence out of thin air and weave them’; you’re still a fucking human being. That’s also a paradox, one of the things that drives the older mages crazy, particularly Porthos, my avatar and aspect during those days, one of the things that drove Porthos crazy is the recognition that they have the power of a god but he was still a man, with human urges, human grudges, human ideals and aspirations, human limitations, human frailties, loves, passions, aggravations, and the power to throw mountains, and he had the responsibility he felt to change the world for the better. But he found himself going; ‘I don’t know what better is any more, after five hundred years I don’t know what that looks like. Oh crap, what am I now’?

On a smaller level cabal politics, on a larger level the factions and the various different, whether you’re talking about the Nephandi or Marauders or Traditions, they’re still functioning with the same question; I am a person with inhuman powers. And an inhuman duty, responsibility, desire to use them. But I am still a person; I still fuck, I still shit, I have cramps, I have headaches, I have loves and I have wounds and I have these things in me and I have to be careful with what I do with them. But those things make me who I am.

I’m not a vampire remembering who I was years before, I’m not a spirit synthesis of human spirit and beast, I’m not a ghost, I’m not a changeling left behind by the Faye or transformed; I’m a human being with inhuman powers and an inhuman place in the grand scheme of things. And sometimes that can be as big as the self destruction of Dositep where basically you had these four hundred, three hundred, five hundred year old high school students blow the place and each other to bits over their internal rivalries. Or you have;

I was playing in a game back in the 90s. I don’t remember the exact story, her lover and cabal mate had died horrible and been damned and her character fell into a gorrible depression. She was drinking and drugging and fucking everyone in the bar just to blot out the fact that her lover was damned and she knew it and couldn’t do anything about it. And my character the unaligned mage was like, here take my hand. And opened up the spheres for her, just one level, just the perceptions, lets go for a walk. They went hand in hand for a walk in the park with the spheres on, all the ones that they had. And Jennifer says just look, you don’t have to do anything, just look at how wonderful how the world is. And that pulled her out of the depression. Not because I had used mind to rearrange emotions but because I just said; this is who we are; just look at what we can see.

And that I guess is another major theme in Mage. Look at the world with bigger eyes. Look at the world with a more expansive view. Because its not this little fucking consumeristic box that we are sold, where you get up and you go and do your thing and you buy stuff and you come back and watch the television and take orders from everybody. It can be bigger than that. It can be better than that. And when you look at how much bigger and better than it can be; it is better."

Monday 17 June 2013

River of Instinct

Tzolkien Tone: 13 - Ascension, Sun Sign: FLINT (ETZNAB)

“A confluence where two rivers meet, is a very special, sacred place.”
 Tom Lescher

I awoke to a dream of a castle tower, a river and road leading to and past it, and spring plants all around. Wondering what this means in dream symbolism. I needed time away from my house.

My instincts were pulling me strongly, away from my routine, away from the dogma and imposed patterns projected by other people, slavers who had assumed to own me.

I could taste the juicy fresh feel of the wetlands swampy water, so I put down the puzzle book I was into and made my way there.

I usually go to the Wetland Centre with my serpent twin partner but today I made a difficult decision to break away from that dogma. I felt drawn to the other spirits of this place.

five Dragon artifacts
What swamps represent to many modern people is stagnation; what they represent to the Life Cult is fertility. 
It is a place where decay becomes fresh life; frog spawn becomes tadpoles becomes frogs, birds nest and lay eggs; the swamp juice is fertile. 
It is where Aztec Mayans developed corn from grass in their floating raft dwellings on the Tenochtitlán lake.

In a second hand book donation pile at the Wetlands Center I went straight to a copy of the Dreamers Dictionary and discovered all of these signs from the dream to relate to my being on the right path.

from; the Dreamers Dictionary by Stearn Robinson and Tom Corbett

Alongside the dream book was Fifty Degree’s Below, the sequel to Kim Stanley Robinsons Forty Signs of Rain, which features a single parent dad called Charlie and his son Joe. Next to this was River Journeys featuring photographs from all over the worlds various rivers. The river in the dream, and serpent as symbol for river and journey. 

With these three books on my lap I sat and wrote into a notebook about Community Transition Blueprint and drew a basic sketch of the swamp and bay. 

Returning to the donation book pile I discovered a series of five more books, the front cover of the one of them being a pyramid with an eye in it, above the sphinx.
Only this morning had I been reading about the stellae made at the foot of the Sphinx; remembering a dream telling the pharaoh to excavate it, which he did. 

Two days ago I watched a movie called ‘The Men Who Stare At Goats’ with my serpent partner. 

The man with the same symbol tattooed on his chest says as he reveals it; 

“when the universe gives you a sign like this, you follow it!” 

Cat and Ant

Florida 6 inch cat girl
I turned the book open directly to a page where a picture of a wooden carving of a cat-woman from pre-historic Florida. Above is a photo I took earlier this week of a cat-woman and a cat-man. 

The focus of the digital camera reveals that spectrum of reality usually hidden to our eyes since we are generally trained and able to see into only one aspect of the multiverse. Science now proves that physical reality is only one layer of a holographic universe. A properly focused digital camera as extension to our biological senses can perceived through the veil. 

In my car I had eight  fifty-pence coins, exactly enough for all eight of these books; the 'five Dragon artifacts' from the Mystery's of the Unknown series that has already given me some new and needed information for my research, plus the three others. 

Three others collectively a 'frozen river of dreams'; an  icon that signifies the hologram of imaginal realms solidified; triangle of Law, pentacle of Mutability and together, the eight pointed star of Chaos that flows in all directions; the symbol '8' for infinity as mobius loop. 

As a kid I was enchanted by “mystery’s of the unknown” type publications, realizing the adult generation did not have any idea what was happening and had lost their past, their roots.

I set about to make the connections they couldn’t see and in the process began to study the wisdom of the ancients, at first to try understand their frames of reference, their own mind and what had driven them to create these teaching tools for the inspiration and education of future generations; what cohesion held it all together?

Then as these wisdoms made increasing sense to my practical life, as a living tradition; the only way to fully comprehend them. A part of this process includes the rituals of awakening past life recall. This is the core of what most of the spirituality of the ancients is about, the heart of all of it all across the globe. Various teaching schools retain parts of this knowledges.

Our generation is grateful and fortunate to be able to assimilate all of this information thanks to modern technology; colour reproduction photographs, the printing press, the internet communications database. As I remembered more of who I was in past lives and the connections between, a serial persona; I assimilated my full persona.

In todays social cult of idiocy and control, dumbing down by ‘soap and dope’ chemicals retarding our pituary glands, blocking us from developing such abilities as dream and soul recall. In a culture of zombies programmed to repress creatives, the adversity is great. A religious repression toward the knowledge holders, we who used once to be called ‘the Chosen Ones’.

As snakeappletree I am a priest of the ancient school. We intend to aide the full awakening of all humanity to this, in its own time. The transmigrant community share a common language throughout space and time. It is to this end that the Auriglyphica is being constructed.

ISBN 0-907812-93-7 Dictionary of Dreams, Treasure Press
ISBN 0-7054-0667-9 Mystic Places, Mysteries of the Unknown, Time-Life Books
ISBN 0-563-20204-1 River Journeys, BBC
ISBN 0-14-031832-1 Temple of Terror, Puffin Books
Caribbean Flamingos at the National Wetland Center, Llanelli
Tenochtitlan City
Tzolkien Sun Sign
Tom Lescher Astrology


This blog contains theme which leads directly on to

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Thou Shalt Not Suffer A Witch To Live

"Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live"

The statement resulted in a cull and persecution of thousands or more herbalists, wisdom keepers, spiritualists; many of whom transmigrated to more liberal times. It gave an excuse to the sadists to do atrocious things in the name of a god who preaches Love. I contemplated today that they had mistook the life guide for a mandate, they had mistook the original intent for a rightous absolute.

Let's break it down into easy components;

'Thou shalt not suffer.' I like the sound of that.
'Thou shalt not suffer, to live.' by the same way as 'thou shalt not (do anything negative), to live.'
The addition and placement of a comma is important; it phrases the original intent more properly.

'Thou shalt not suffer a witch, to live'. In this example, a 'witch' is assumed as being a negative entity likely to cause suffering. If the writer was using contemporary English he could perhaps rephrase it; 'you should not have to put up with her nasty bullshit, to get by.' Do not accept employment from somebody abusive.

That is what this blog is about; to explore original intent verses mis-interpretation / mis-translation and the abysmal consequences. While discussing matters related to the famously murderous slavery system that is the catholic church, it is not too far a distraction to add another related thought that has been succinctly expressed during the past few days by a known witch from a large family of known witches;

"Either you know that there is a god, in which case you are a fundamentalist, or you know that there is no god, in which case you are a fundamentalist, or else you are undecided, in which case you cannot be taken seriously in the debate because you have no opinion worthy of debating ... other than to raise questions, or to anecdote about non-ordinary experiences mistakenly defined within a particular religious context, which is not necessarily going to explain such experiences, and more likely to distract from truly understanding them. In any case you are either wasting your time in supposition, or crazy in the obsessive, closed mind, absolutist way that cannot create good community. The whole issue is bogus, close of issue."

Tuesday 11 June 2013


I was shocked when I discovered that Yukio Mishima has been accused of being politically right wing. Under the definitions and context of contemporary political references this may be true.  When I read him I believed him to be a leftist. I accept him as one of, if not the, major teacher to have been translated into English, regarding a subject that I love; Japanese history.  and the development of Japanese philosophy. A Taoist, I study Budo. I practise (a form of) Shinto; spiritist totemic animism. 

Mishima is more complex than mere political opinion; he questions it and presents both sides of the coin for analysis before acting, the true samurai way. His ability to get the reader to share his depth of understanding Japanese mindset, and the repression of emotions within culturally dominating society is one I identify with strongly. Combined with questioning sexuality it is powerful and comparable to the emergent british teenage emo subculture during the late 1990s early 2000s. 

I question the allegation of Mishima's right wing political stance. One cannot accurately define a culture by the standards of a totally different culture. To compare and analyze historic feudal Japan up until and after Westernisation Process, by using modern western frames of reference alone, without coming at it from the Japanese view point, is to set up a strawman argument. There is a very rigid formal codex as to what 'Japan' actually is, was, will be, should be. This itself is a huge important factor in traditional Japan. The ideology of 'left vs right wing' is a western concept, a framework superimposed upon an alien culture for us to dissect it within western mindset. It is this rigid codex itself which was under dissemination by the likes of Mishima. More acutely defining Right Action regarding developing society and preservation of tradition is and should be the greater focus than political left and right.

Mishima does this poetically and in doing so proves mastery of Japanese sensibilities both prosaic and

A potted history of Japanese Westernisation Process, and the splinter factions involved; in laymans terms: After 100 years of isolation from the outside world, Japan had perfected itself. The Emperors decision to open its trading ports with the West struck an alarm through the nation. Samurai had sworn an oath 'to preserve Japan and to obey the Emperor'. Here they fell into two camps; those who believed the Emperor was not preserving Japan and should abdicate, and those who foresaw the necessity of obeying the Emperor for the future good of the nation. The Emperors loyal Samurai were equipped with guns, manufactured in britain for the American colonials and sold to Japan by the American colonials. They slew the Samurai who were loyal to traditional Japan, who were armed only with swords. That ended the debate.

It was into this environment that Yukio Mishima was born, to a noble Samurai family. He is the last samurai to have committed sepuku, to a post-world-war-two westernised audience who did not honor nor respect this act as necessary to the traditional way of being of the Samurai. He did so after a failed political coup to return Japan to honor its traditions. It is this behaviour, an attempt to rectify a beloved nation that has gone wrong from its purpose and lost the beauty of that original intent (in short; it has 'been westernized') that has been identified as 'right wing' by western political historians with an agenda of avoiding Easternisation Process of the west by adhering to the bias of 20th century context.

Thankfully he left for the world a large volume of writing embodying the true spirit of Japan. Not only did Mishima's writing teach me about Japanese history and Purity of Spirit, it taught me about male emotions in such a way that it has only been feminist authors of Western culture who have spoken the same language to me. All of these are talking about an aspect and purpose of soul that is transgender, androgynous.

In the latter half of the 20th century, androgynous and ageless manga imagery continues one of many the High Arts of traditional Japan; printmaking.

The decision Mishima made when faced with observing effects of westernization (which essentially from the contemporary stance equates to postmodernism) verses honorable to traditional Japanese spirit was to choose a path of purity. The right action for Mishima, unique in his training, education and role in history, was to accept his fate with virtue. He attempted political coup and when this failed due to majority of Japanese not being as elitist, as pure and exonerating the true Samurai Spirit as himself, to commit ritual suicide. To do otherwise would have been to live the rest of his life a failure and hypocrite, having turned his back on all that he had been designed to embody.

Mishima's writings speak romantically of hidden inner self, ones truth within externally forced social role and necessity of right action, thus placing the inner self into stark contrast with the role demanded by the history books. He is comparable to Oscar Wild, a sexual deviant literary genius involved with politics who was punished by society (wild was imprisoned for his homosexuality) that went against personal nature. Where Wilds humor; Mishima's enchantment. This contrast between rigid dogma of a control state and the misfit ultimately personifying it as resolution for alienation. Can western mindset contemplate such perameters?

to be continued...

Friday 7 June 2013

Post Post Post Modernism

 Fritz Lang 'Metropolis' 1927


"If you want a vision of the future, 
imagine a boot stamping on a human face -
George Orwell '1984'

In University during the mid-late 90s I was taught that we were living in the post-post-modern era. This technicality results from the distinction between post-modern era, which is infinitely perpetuated within contemporary western civilisation, and a marked difference when some unknown something comes along to shift things along. 

Different sources disagree with when post-modernism properly began. For me it is represented by Andy Warhole's art, a pastiche exploiting mass production enabling consumerism. Already by his time post-modernism was old hat. By the time university lecturers began to explain it to yet another fresh faced generation X we students had began to realise that we had already outmoded the academic textbooks printed up ten years previously. This argument resulted in the lecturer discussing the post-post modern era we inhabited being merely more of the same. 

That summer we went to Glastonbury Festival at Pilton and laughed at a poser who was frantically running around muddy fields full of spaced out middle class hippies  and shouting for help from anyone who would provide him with a spare battery for his mobile phone. In 1997 perhaps one in fifty people had a mobile phone, if that many. The general attitude of most people was to ridicule them for it, the carrying of a basic second generation mobile phone representing a stigma from the yuppiedom of the 80s, 'with your filofax in your other hand' it was considered to be a male ego toy and penis extention attempting to convince normal people you were an up and coming business tycoon and not just another somebody. 

My friend had foresight. "This time next year there'll be recharging stations for those things all along here," he joked. We thought it was so funny, given that the festival facilities at that time were so basic that the toilet block could be smelled from half a mile away and we were ankle deep in mud. A year later  the mud was worse, the toilets were worse, and there were recharging stations along that same field and every other person had a mobile phone. By autumn that year life  everyone's depended on them. In terms of cultural transition the change happened fast!

before mobile phones we had a thing called Love

It was another decade before the first internet phones had widely began to replace regular mobile phones. We have already surpassed the general consumer technology level of science fiction books I had grown up reading, eg; Shadowrun. Nobody cares much that Chinese children earn the equivalent of 2pence a day working in factories on 16 hour shifts to put deadly radioactive chips into the phones to fry our brains with.

The same story with the internet.  While 90s American movies starring Tom Hanks were promoting internet culture and already we were dealing with schools aghast at emoticons :P and kwk txt destroying the next generation X's written language abilities, 'most people' in britain did not have the internet at home until mid 2000s (arguably, because it depends which social stream, which caste, you belonged to).

In my opinion the Global Communications and Internet Revolution heralds a new phase of post-post-modernism into post-post-post-modernism. If Modernism is the desire to maintain the world as the retro-1950s culture, in which factory line mass production, provide cheap  and available disposable consumer goods; post-modernism is the 60s and 70s era of Global Liberation movements, the brat children of rock-and-roll on acid; then post-post-modernism is surely the lull gap of the 80s and 90s during which punk, goth and grunge, yuppies for England and poverty for Wales as it was seen here at the time, where the factories and high street community have been shut down and  replaced by supermarket warehouses in retail parks on the edge of town near the new multiscreen disney-pixar hollywood cinema chain, an economy gradually picking up as the next generation all go to work for the multinational corporations. 

The 21st century of ordering online; internet shopping delivered directly to your door, is the post-modernists dream and a culmination of its manifesto if such a thing exists (it would be constantly re-written anyway). This is an era where anything can mean anything, the cultural roots are lost and laughed at because nobody cares anymore. Off-the-shelf disposable people ordered online are easily emotionally discarded, even when most of them are naughty noughties 00s emo culture.  None of us like it; the pain of dealing with this facet of human condition and social conditioning keeps us perpetuating and distilling the same old same old. We escape into terminal addiction of social media platform. Technology links us so we can video conference in realtime open-streaming with people from all technologically advanced, money using countries except industrialist China. 

"Think of what ninety nine percent of the human race want – 
food, shelter, a secure family life 
and to be left alone by bosses and busybodies. 
Unfortunately the one percent who are interested in power 
and ideals and ideologies are the ones who call the tune." 
Aldous Huxley 1947

The social changes being demanded are that many non-internet using people are stuck in their brainwash programming of post-modern retro-1950s mindset and HATE anything that isn't; while the educated global community speaking on behalf of 'the 99%' are  being shot at by military police for marching peacefully for social reform.  It is generally observed that the System does not serve the People; it serves the banks, and the unified police state facilitate corporate governmental policy. Corporate governmental policy is in most cases to take take take from the people  forced into consumerism, to repay a debt to the banks that is impossible to repay because the global economy relies on Usury. It has gotten to such a stage that if everyone in the world gave the banks everything that all of us collectively own; the debt would still not be repaid. This is blatantly a stupid situation. Frustration is widespread.

"When you realise that nobody gives a shit about you; 
that is the day you understand what life is; 
and what humanity is becoming. 
When you get over that and start Loving; 
that is the day you begin being human.
Love is never a taking; always a giving.
Flowing with it is the closest to Freedom we have." 


Jose Arguelles, Circumpolar Rainbow Bridge

"The Rainbow Bridge Around Earth signifies love for our living Earth, care for future generations, and our determination to co-create healing for humanity, elevating ourselves into new frontiers of our human potential.

Transcending all boundaries of nation, culture, race, religion, and belief systems, this image symbolizes unity, unlimited possibilities, triumphant positivity, bright futures, and the miracle of life."

Saturday 1 June 2013

Vampire: the Masquerade

A Storytelling Game of Personal Horror

Brujah by Tim Bradstreet

When I first read this I knew intrinsically that it is about the story; not the ego of a gamesmaster nor the players. Sacrifices must be made between what we think we want, and what is to be done for the good of the story. It is primarily a story telling tool; that is its purpose, and there are rules and there are ways, to fashion a crafted drama of our saga. I had been reading Gustav Karl Jung on Archetypal symbolism and the Vampire motif summarized my feelings.

A whole huge history of storytelling tradition dating back through the aeons of human history is invoked, which of course in terms of the longevity of an immortal vampire is a living memory, the individual who was there at the time watching cultural references by the memories of others who can recall long ago nights of that other world, compared with the fire-fly fast mortal lives who twist the tale through its retelling, perfecting the art, perfecting the events, twisting them from what actually happened into a refined, distilled version that contains all the lessons required to educate the next of their generations. As I began to read the book I learned that my innate clan mentality to be that of the artful Toreador, to whom respect and appreciation of this narrative are best identified.

However; as a young teenager full of desperate anxiety and magickal and hope, torn amidst conflicting emotions at the confusing onset of puberty; the Vampire motif came at precision timing to deeply influence and guide my development.

Psychological and emotional, driven by powerful instinct to sate wild desires and learn the nature of this thing called Self, dare taming its wild urges and rage upon senseless repression as my feeling of self worth emerged, feeling a taste of the powers within, the creative flow that needed sating, earthing desire amidst an ocean off data overload and contrary advice. Steer your vices.

I watched the Lost Boys on loop and I read Anne Rice from Interview to Memnoch, in fact I read everything published about vampires up to that point (2000ad) and aside from Secret Diary of Count Lazlo which disturbed me for years; there is very little else in the genre worthy of reading. Vampire the Masquerade has it all.

This was in the hollow nights before Buffy: the Simple and Twilight: the Watered Down entertained the emo generation. We had to hide our inner demon, though we couldn’t know until experimentation whether this was to protect ourselves or the others from it.

When I saw Tim Bradstreets black and white graphic illustrations I knew at once that Vampire: the Masquerade is a game about liberal minded, leather and denim clad street Punks, Goths and Metallers, who just so happen to be vampires, fighting against the even more ancient and evil demons who sought to control the energetic youth and use their power for their own agendas, games, cycles of abuse.That the game coined the term "gothpunk" establishes that as a focal reference of the game to my way of looking at it.

The Embrace is a Turning Point. The kiss of death and of renewal. A vampire Sire becomes the Creator. As a virgin when I read these words at age fourteen, I recognised the subtext. It is a symbol for puberty, the change from childhood to adulthood, the awareness of self as a sexual creature. Dealing for the first time with oestrogen, with testosterone, with blood and the moon.

The Embrace is a symbol for the loss of innocence, loss of virginity and the pursuit of a lover, all the feelings we share. It is carnal and daring. It is; do I, dare I, take this one, be taken? Virginity in its truest sense means Virging, the approach to the breaking point of no return.

Upon us were put too many rules. I emerged from the repression and domination of a culture aimed to destroy teenagers and divorce them from nature. School forced us through 'the system' clad in ties and shirts and blazers, prepping us for 'the system' of workplace, ties and shirts and blazers, that's if we were lucky enough to get a good money job, otherwise we were Fail. Stress and control and subservience. I was indoctrinated into feeling that I was wasting my life if I was doing what I knew it was right for me to be doing; that unless I was doing what others commanded I should be doing, then I was on the wrong path. I learned to associate feeling bad about myself with following my instinct.

I was bullied in school, beaten daily until it reached the point where I needed the pain to feel the sharp focus of being alive, seeing deeper and further insight than my tv-dosed peers. My parents ignored me or beat me, constant screams because of their high tension lifestyles. My brother told everyone I was gay. I suffered.

“When will you Rage?” Werewolf: the Apocalypse

I didn’t rage. I was already too broken. Instead I got into drugs instead in a big way. By 19 I was hanging out with some of the biggest dealers in the country. My education into street life was accelerated. By 24 I was eating from skips because every coin  went on discs to record music. I had progressed from roleplaying, to making soundtracks to listen to while roleplaying, to studying sound as vibrational and harmonic verses discordant energy, how it can be used to manipulate psychology and therefore reality. I was a psychonaut and a scientist but not a musician. I wore black until I discovered wearing combat trousers influences highstreet zombies to walk around me instead of through me. By late 20s I had quit drugs, basically because I was immune to them all by then from building up a tolerance. For the first time I could afford food and internet. Due to having no regular job routine I had acquired life experience beyond most people I meet. I got clean; met a girl had a kid got divorced. The days of Vampire were long gone, a painful rite of passage. But its shadow runs long, especially at sunset. Its eye teeth bite deep.

Occasionally I would encounter a game group running a V:tM game. They ALWAYS AND WITHOUT FAIL got it wrong, they had missed the point. I argue, and was banned from succession of fan forums and websites dedicated to the game, that V:tM is supposed to be about, was originally intended as, a game in which the biggest part of the story was struggling with and battling with inner demons,  not with politics. The illustrations, the terminology, focussed essentially on anarchic characters pitted against a backdrop of rigid minded control abusers. This was the double-struggle, the purpose of the bloodsuckers in V:tM, with whom I had identified. It is not meant to be a game where the gamesmaster persecutes such characters in a variety of ways simply because they do not conform to his or her control regime.

In my game, the Anarchs win; they make a breakthrough, they get away with shit that is horrible and anti-social, but necessary to shake up a stagnant society into a more liberal state, where innovation is rewarded, not crushed underfoot and buried as example. So; why do these other storytellers always play it as such?  It seemed to me that they were re-enacting the backdrop, instead of concentrating on 'personal horror'. Maybe it was I who had missed the point? I gave up on it.

Last night in the dark hours I encountered this video:

Mark Rein-Hagen INVENTED Vampire: the Masquerade, before it went corporate and he left in disgust at internal problems of the rest of the company alienating him from his own original vision, from which has emerged Underworld, Ultraviolet, etc in its wake.

“Once you get into the history of things, I think that’s what you can bring out, all that beautiful lush poetry, but I like hardcore vampire stuff, I think that for me the Twilight sparkly vampire thing is appalling. Vampires need to be hardcore, I mean come on! They’re drinking peoples blood! They’re killing people, they’re murderers! They’re sociopaths and psychopaths. They are literally serial killers, you know? Especially the part of the FBI is set up to track down the most horrifying people. And yet somehow they’re making vampires as this romantic beautiful thing. And I think they are, but in so doing you cant lose sight of the fact that they’re bad. They’re bad! And they’re really bad, not like bad in a handsome cool guy way, in a bad way; I mean they’re evil! I think that’s really interesting in a way.

I think that was the whole point of the Humanity trait, is that eventually you run out of Humanity. I know almost no-one plays it that way. It’s not like most gamers, storytellers or gamemasters in Call of Cthulhu, they do enforce the Sanity rules, and I realize that in World of Darkness most storytellers don’t enforce the Humanity rules. But that was meant to capture that. 'A beast I am lest a beast I become'; that was the core principle of the game.” MRH

HAHAHAHAH I was banned from half a dozen websites for arguing that exact point with crap storytellers on ego power trips!

“A beast I am lest a beast I become”

“The Beast originally was meant to be a metaphor. For most of the time it was strictly a metaphor, it was only a metaphor. The Beast originally was basically the Frenzy. When you are a frenzy and you’re losing it, that is the Beast coming out.” MRH

“I had all this stuff about how you look in the mirror, you can see the Beasts eyes, looking back at you wanting to devour you.” MRH

“Always when I design games I try to think very cinematically, if this was made a movie, how would it look? This is very important to me because I think that’s how you saw games. So I had a whole thing about how where you looked in a mirror – that’s why they can’t see the reflection by the way, is because you can see the Beasts eyes, looking back at you, wanting to devour you. And this was thought to be a little too weird by the playtesters, a little too introspective and they wanted just to go out and shoot guns and kill people and blah blah blah. So I toned it down a little bit; but that’s where a lot of this stuff came from, a desire to personify a metaphor and to make it a real thing, which roleplaying does real well. An analogy, her stare was like broken glass, you might read that in a novel. In a roleplaying type game, you can make that; her eyeballs really do look like broken glass and that whatever she looks at breaks. You can bring these things to life, these metaphors, these analogies.” MRH

“The poet must not avert his eyes” Werner Herzog

"Of course the whole WoD is based on the idea that what you believe in is the Truth. So if you have a strong enough willpower, if enough people agree with you to believe in something; that will change the fabric of reality itself. Which of course is the whole idea behind Wraith, is that if people agree with you, you can break away and form a nice little realm you can live in, your own little paradise. But really for the main reality as well, this is true. This is what the mages do, they are able to have a strong enough will they are able to break the consensus and do what they want." MRH

Jade Cat ヒスイ 子猫


This blog contains photoshop montages using bits of illustrations made by other people as well as my own scans from nature. Wherever possible the original artist has been accredited. In no way do I intend copyright infringement. There is a tradition within Japanese print  whereby multiple artists may work on a piece and add to it their mark, sometimes a generation after the original artist had set it aside. All art is progressive.

As a forest is worth more than the sum of all its trees, so the whole contains greater than its component parts. Refer to issue of Monsanto Corporation statement on public record; “in future if you want to eat you will have to buy our products”; patenting genes as major contemporary ethical debate. Monsanto products are banned throughout Europe because they contaminate organic food crops with their patented genetically modified genome that kills rats in independent lab tests and probably does the same to you if you eat it too.

There are several elements to this blog. They interrelate.

The first element is a batch of photos selected from an afternoons walk on one of the few sunny days we get in Wales.

A Taoist medicine journey, following the Way; instinct, which took me to and through a patch of common land overgrown by a mixture of indigenous and invasive plant species.


虎杖, イタドリ                itadori

The second element is a particular invasive plant species, its pro’s and cons. The plant is Fallopia Japonica, Japanese Knotweed. 

"The kanji expression is from the Chinese Hǔzhàng 虎杖  meaning "tiger staff", but as to the Japanese appellation, one straightforward interpretation is that it comes from "remove pain" (alluding to its painkilling use)."

First introduced into the UK in the early 19th century for the Royal Botanical Gardens exhibition, it has since spread all over the country.

"It is listed by the World Conservation Union as one of the world's 100 worst invasive species. The invasive root system and strong growth can damage concrete foundations, buildings, flood defences, roads, paving, retaining walls and architectural sites. It can also reduce the capacity of channels in flood defences to carry water."

"In the UK, it is an offence under section 14(2) of the  Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to "plant or otherwise cause to grow in the wild" any plant listed in Schedule nine, Part II to the Act, which includes Japanese knotweed. By 2010 over £150m was spent annually on Japanese knotweed control, and a decision was taken on 9 March 2010 in the UK to release into the wild a Japanese psyllid insect, Aphalara itadori."

Several years ago I began my own study with japanese knotweed.

The plant has a strong spirit, a powerful presence that is easy to attune to.

Sitting amidst a patch of it meditating is one of the most chilled out experiences available in UK. There is a quality in the green, vitality.

Reading it shamanically, symbolically; arrow-heart shaped leafs suggest it to be tonic for the blood system. I removed non-propogating elements from the plant (leaf and stem) and boiled them like rhubarb before ingesting. It tastes mildly bitter and had no apparent effect on me.

My internet research revealed that 'tiger staff' soaks up radiation. I assume this to mean both electronic radiation and nuclear contamination. I don't know if eating it makes you immune or increases the amount of radiation in your system. A year after Fukishima, the worlds worst nuclear accident so far, this is all beginning to connect up and make sense; nature is holistic and there is a reason this plant is here. For several decades Wales has the worlds highest number of cancer incidents, presumably due to fallout from American nuclear testing crossing the Atlantic on the top-winds.

The third element of this blog is information from Nexus magazine Vol20 no4 June-July 2013, which arrived the very same day, and relates.   

I had been working hard for several days without a break.I needed to get out of the house and detach my brain from computer and associated electromagnetic smog.

Feeling fried from too much disruption by unwanted attention of neighbours and radiation from machines, I desperately needed to recharge.

A lesson to be applied as the fourth element of this blog, the project at hand, namely art and music for forthcoming storyteller game entitled tRust for Ordo Octopia Ltd, see their website for more information at

I assembled the following experimental montage illustrations as focus-prep for what the jungle ravines amidst fragmented urban layers of tEra, the world of tRust, might look like. On tEra there is a phrase intended to work on several levels of meaning;

“life in the cracks”

The landscape of tEra is a giant orgonite honeycomb hive where miles high of expanding-foam sprayon orgonite; resin walls containing crystalline particles that operate as a computer matrix, a web of light-refractive touch-op holocom, operates as solar panel and global communications database; has fractured due to the unexpected event of the world swelling up in a series of earthquakes lasting several weeks.

Organic plant life exists in the jungle canyons formed by the fragmentation of the hive. Long slender green columns amidst a cyber darkness of the urban wilderness reminds me of a sword called Jade Dragon in the film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It requires a master to wield this blade. In today's modern world it hangs in a museum.

manga from: A Dream In Garden by Xia Da
print from: charity shop, lucky find, signature illegible.
lettering from: googletranslate ("dream now garden butterfly change").

upper manga comic strip (extract) from: Cat's Paw by Damian Slater
manga sword from: CrouchingTiger HiddenDragon 4 by Wang Du Lu and Andy Seto
lower manga comic strip (extract) from: Last Shadows Cast by Casper Wijngaard
sword colour adapted screenshot from: Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon movie

art for tRust: chalk graffiti glyphs on weathered cytex walls

introducing Selene
While contemplating an appropriate name for this blog I made an interesting discovery thanks to google translate;  


Japanese spelling for Jade looks like  English spelling for CAT !