The Fascination of What’s Foreign

Imaginations of a Rocket

by Geoff Hauser

Miranda dines on candlesticks
and things she catches in the air
like bats and bugs and aeroplanes
and hot balloon rides from the fair.
A she-goat though she is, I guess,
(to eat such things) I must confess:
I’m smitten by her appetite
and hope to take her home one night.

She wears a dress of cod filets;
it has a somewhat pungent air
with hearts embroidered on the sleeves
and starfish that adorn her hair.
Miranda’s mother should be proud–
she surely stands out from the crowd.
I’d like to ask her out for tea…
perhaps someday she’ll notice me.

Miranda went away last night;
she caused a spectacle and stir,
ascending in a bright green light,
in all her glorious fish and furs.
I once admired her from afar
and now she flies among the stars.
My broken heart and I adjourn
to contemplate our lessons learned.

© Copyright 2002 by Geoff Hauser. Republished 2003, 2004, 2011, 2014.

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In Dreams I Drive

Underground-2

by Hugh Mitchell

In dreams I drive
I drink
nectar from a thousand gardens
Technicolor pansies and
heartbreak columbine
entwine with DNA
slide around my mind
serpentine
You’re so fine
it brings tears to my eyes
and still I ride
The horsepower of the most magnificent motorcar
cannot compare to your eyes
dark hushed pools
where
in dreams
I drive….

© Copyright 2001 by Hugh Mitchell. Republished 2003, 2004, 2011, 2014.

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Figuratively Speaking: Allegory & Individual Insight

Goats, Sheep & Mole by Wenceslas Hollar

Artwork: “Goats, Sheep & Mole” by Wenceslas Hollar [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

by Hunter MacKenzie

Allegory and symbolism are factors which add greater depth perception to our life experience. They allow us to see connections between things which are not always obvious. And they can be found nearly everywhere: books, dreams, conversations–even the seemingly ordinary events of the day… if you know how to look for it. Even for those who have been trained to some extent to look beyond appearance, to not be content with simply accepting things at face value, it’s easy to miss the full range of symbolism.

There are, of course, people who are willfully blind to the possibility of something having a greater significance what they see right away. There is always more than meets the eye. How deep are you willing to dig?They are like I was in my first film class in college: “Can’t we just watch the movie? It’s distracting when every little thing has to mean something else too!” This reflects a certain amount of mental laziness–an attitude of “I’ve been doing just fine without thinking before, so why should I start working at it now?” Many years later I realize that if you do try to look deeper, you get much more meaning out of things. You learn more about yourself and everything else too. And it perpetuates a sense of curiosity which keeps your mind fresh and challenges you to learn more than you already know–however much or little that may be.

“All is illusion,” many of our Eastern philosophies state. “Nothing is true,” according to the Assassin sect of Persian myth-history. One could take these as hints–that nothing is only what it appears to be, that we must dig deeper if we want to get at the truth. The book is not the cover alone.

I believe that in some sense, passages of the Christian Bible are “divinely inspired.” I also believe the “Book of the Law” presented by Aleister Crowley is divinely inspired. But I do not believe either of them were originally intended to be taken entirely literally; both contain far more symbolism than I expect to ever comprehend. I mention these two because I am very familiar with both, but the same could be said for other books as well. There are countless works which have truly “inspired” passages and which could be analyzed ad infinitum in attempts to thoroughly interpret their symbols. Anything from the Arthurian legends to Dragonball Z to a disc from Nine Inch Nails could hold something worth delving into.

But what if Sir Thomas Malory didn’t know that swords are phallic and represent regenerative powers as well as having tarot associations with air and thought? Does it matter? What if Trent Reznor didn’t know (or care) that in “Reptile” he connects the subject of his lyrics with the serpent in the biblical garden of Eden as well as linking it with the snake which was considered symbolic of knowledge and initiation in many cultures before the advent of Christianity and legends of St. Patrick? (Not to mention the ever-popular recurring phallic theme…) What if the writer never intended the meaning we are able to extract from the symbol? Is it still a valid meaning?

Of course it is. For one thing, many writers and artists often freely admit that they don’t have any idea what the piece they just wrote means; it’s not until much contemplation and afterthought that they come to understand their own train of thought or where it came from. For another thing, if you get some meaning out of a line of writing and it works or is seen to hold true, then it doesn’t matter whether or not it was there to start with. We must, however, keep in mind that symbol analysis and “decoding” can be extremely personal and that even if you get something out of Psalms 23 which consistently works and is true for you, it’s not necessarily going to mean the same thing to me. And it may not have any meaning or value at all to yet another person. (It has often been the intolerance of such variations in opinion that has begun holy wars and caused general dissension and conflict among the various branches of religion.)

This diversity of interpretation, in fact, is what causes such disparate opinions on such things as the tarot and dreams. One can check seven different interpretative books on the tarot and find seven different meanings noted for the Two of Pentacles; they may all be true by taking a sort of assimilated synthesis, or parts of each may be true, or one may fit one person’s situation while another works best for the next person.

The same sort of interpretational dilemma is frequently encountered regarding dream analysis. That rabbit from last night’s dream is explained three different ways in as many books, but for some reason the brilliant red flag that figured so prominently in the dream from the night before is nowhere to be found in any of the same books (not even the one that boasts interpretations for 20,000 dream symbols)! This does not mean that your dreams are “abnormal”–it simply indicates that rather than using universal symbols which tend to have roughly similar meanings to nearly everyone, your unconscious mind is communicating with your conscious mind in a more personal way.

For instance, if you’ve believed firmly all your life that goats are symbolic of Satan and his “evil influence,” then your dream about goats in a library is going to have an entirely different meaning than my dream about goats in the library, when my associations with goats have more to do with Capricornian wisdom and virility.

The key is to figure out what the symbol means to you, because it is your unconscious mind which is throwing out the symbol to your conscious mind for analysis. If you run across a symbol with which you have no associations whatever, then it’s a good idea to research and see what ideas you can come up with; some interpretations will seem to fit better than others, and then you’ve added another “word” to your language of symbols. Remember, the only “false” interpretations are those which do not enlighten you and leave you feeling that you’ve reached a dead end–but any interpretation is valid if it works for you and leads you to greater insight.

© Copyright 1998 by Hunter MacKenzie. Republished 2003, 2004, 2011, 2014.

[This article previously appeared in SKOPOS Vol. I No. 1, and is archived here by permission of the author.]

More by Hunter MacKenzie

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The Twelve Nights of Autumn

October Tree by P.L. Miller

by Erin Abernethy

On the first night of autumn my lover gave to me
A good time behind an oak tree.

On the second night of autumn my lover gave to me
Two pine cones
And a good time behind an oak tree.

On the third night of autumn my lover gave to me
Three black cats
Two pine cones
And a good time behind an oak tree.

On the fourth night of autumn my lover gave to me
Four acorn pies
Three black cats
Two pine cones
And a good time behind an oak tree.

On the fifth night of autumn my lover gave to me
FIVE KEGS OF ALE
Four acorn pies
Three black cats
Two pine cones
And a good time behind an oak tree.

On the sixth night of autumn my lover gave to me
Six crows a-cawing
FIVE KEGS OF ALE
Four acorn pies
Three black cats
Two pine cones
And a good time behind an oak tree.

On the seventh night of autumn my lover gave to me
Seven signs and wonders
Six crows a-cawing
FIVE KEGS OF ALE
Four acorn pies
Three black cats
Two pine cones
And a good time behind an oak tree.

On the eighth night of autumn my lover gave to me
Eight burning bonfires
Seven signs and wonders
Six crows a-cawing
FIVE KEGS OF ALE
Four acorn pies
Three black cats
Two pine cones
And a good time behind an oak tree.

On the ninth night of autumn my lover gave to me
Nine naked dancers
Eight burning bonfires
Seven signs and wonders
Six crows a-cawing
FIVE KEGS OF ALE
Four acorn pies
Three black cats
Two pine cones
And a good time behind an oak tree.

On the tenth night of autumn my lover gave to me
Ten goats a-leaping
Nine naked dancers
Eight burning bonfires
Seven signs and wonders
Six crows a-cawing
FIVE KEGS OF ALE
Four acorn pies
Three black cats
Two pine cones
And a good time behind an oak tree.

On the eleventh night of autumn my lover gave to me
Eleven kilted pipers
Ten goats a-leaping
Nine naked dancers
Eight burning bonfires
Seven signs and wonders
Six crows a-cawing
FIVE KEGS OF ALE
Four acorn pies
Three black cats
Two pine cones
And a good time behind an oak tree.

On the twelfth night of autumn my lover gave to me
Twelve drunken drummers
Eleven kilted pipers
Ten goats a-leaping
Nine naked dancers
Eight burning bonfires
Seven signs and wonders
Six crows a-cawing
FIVE KEGS OF ALE
Four acorn pies
Three black cats
Two pine cones
And a good time behind an oak tree.

© Copyright 2005 by Erin Abernethy. Republished 2007, 2011, 2014.

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Without Wings

Angel Tears by Arkanjul (Phil D'Angelo)

by F.X. MacKenzie

I cannot protect you;
My wings burned off in the re-entry…
Most days I doubt
They were ever there at all.

Your bellowing bizarre beast-mother
Married above her station.
(The how and why we may never know–
Perhaps he had some Humbertian designs
But was never around to do more than construct the framework.)
You were set down amongst the happy day-campers,
Transplanted into the sterile soil of button-down blasé ivy-climbers.
They expected you to bloom in those formal gardens
Which had no place in the layout for
A wildflower such as you.

When the pool was not deep enough,
Unruly weed that you were, you wandered
South to the motherland,
The dwelling of the remnants of the beast-tribe.
Given a room in some distant relative’s house,
You saw that this too was no place to put down roots:
The university was overrun with keg-heavy footballers;
The professors gave opaque speeches in dead languages
To students who slept or snickered or socialized covertly.

On Veteran’s Day you went back to your room to find
Your fugitive uncle had moved himself in
With all his underworldly possessions:
The rusted car parts, the empty bottles,
The thousand plagues of sexually-transmitted pestilence,
The unwashed laundry, the dog and child,
The guns he couldn’t see straight enough to shoot…

You wept tears for that poor delusional priest
Who counseled you that God was in every one of us.
Living from car to library
You adopted the keeper of the keycards and the book shelver
As surrogate kinsmen,
Made a home of the hollows behind the stacks,
An altar of the study table,
A sacrament of the living words…

Maybe you began to create your own savior
Who would rise from the depths of your subconscious…
Would that wild doctor full of cocaine
Be as enchanted with you as I have become?
Perhaps–but he would dissect your brain like a butterfly;
I would swallow you whole–
Bones, salt, soul and all.
To keep those nightmares from you,
I would wrap you in my own skin…
But I am hounded by love and death,
Outfoxed by the vagaries of mind…
And without wings,
This baptism may become
A drowning.

© Copyright 2004 by F.X. MacKenzie. Republished 2011, 2014.

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ECT

by F.G. Magdalen

One controversial way to treat depression is with ECT – electroconvulsive therapy. Some favor it when nothing else works, while others consider it a closed-skull lobotomy.

Deep and lasting depression had haunted Kelly for quite some time. Suicidal thoughts clogged her thinking like molasses. She felt powerless to do much of anything, much less anything remotely resembling helping herself.

Constant bickering took place. If she wasn’t sad, she was angry – usually at her parents. At one point she boxed up some gifts they had given her, and sent them back. There seemed no bottom to the wretched despair she lived with day and night. It clung to her like the funk from BO but no shower could remedy this.

Every antidepressant had been tried and none had helped. Sleep was all Kelly wanted, and to be left alone. When she wasn’t asleep she’d watch The Exorcist on TV and get some fast food for a meal. Cleaning was unheard of. Neither she nor the cat minded.

Finally she stopped arguing with her parents and stopped speaking to them at all. She did stay in touch with her sister and an aunt. Most importantly, she agreed to ECT treatments.

With a packed bag, off Kelly went to the hospital, though she could never recall who took her. Along for the ride she took three Beverly Lewis Amish books, which she read while there but later couldn’t tell you a thing about.

Kelly got to stay on the open unit as she waited for time to roll around for treatments. That time came soon the next day as all who would receive ECT were rounded up and seated in a white van on a chilly morning. They were then driven to the main hospital.

Kelly took a room with another larger woman who would quickly grab a gown and head for the bathroom. While this commotion went on, Kelly quickly and quietly slipped her gown on.

Kelly had a number of treatments. She could even recall the doc swabbing her head. After the treatments each day they were taken back in the little van.

Kelly didn’t like the effect the ECT was having on her. She was still depressed but forgetting herself. She was having problems knowing who she was. Who did she used to be? She was very upset over losing her identity.

The treatments continued, and Kelly felt scared and alone. She wanted to call her parents but felt like something bad had happened. What, she couldn’t recall. Finally she took her chances, and called and got her mom on the phone. This was the first the family had heard of Kelly getting ECT. Her mom assured her everything was OK, and that when she was discharged, they would come and get her.

The psychiatrist had a good sense of humor and told Kelly jokes when he visited to check on her. Over time, she began to laugh along with him. As a result of this he decided to cut the treatments short and Kelly didn’t receive a full round.

The hospital then discharged her, and her parents picked her up. They went to her apartment, and were doing a little cleaning up when Kelly’s cat made an appearance. She came out, looked at the two women in the kitchen, and howled and howled. She was normally a shy, timid kitty. Kelly’s psychologist had been feeding it while she was gone so it had had the run of the place all to itself. It was hard to imagine what it was trying to say now.

Things stayed confusing for awhile after Kelly’s treatments. One day she broke down and called her sister to ask how she usually paid her bills. Kelly’s mom didn’t think the treatments helped at all. If they did, it was short-lived, as Kelly’s counseling resumed quickly afterward.

 

 

© Copyright 2014 by F.G. Magdalen

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