Solitary, Eclectic Witchery

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I want to describe what I like about solitary, eclectic witchery. I just had a lengthy text session with a very old friend, where I was attempting to describe the how and why of what I’m doing now. Texting is inadequate for that kind of conversation so now I’m thinking, why not just write a blog about this? (As if I needed an excuse to blog!)

I was a weird kid, and a weirder teenager, okay? I read widely in occult and Eastern metaphysics literature when I was a teen, and at various points in my later life. But I had to admit that as a teen, the closest I ever got to working a spell was taking a piece of spearmint gum, shoving it between two banana halves, wrapping it all in foil and burying it in the back yard for two weeks, then digging it up. No incantations. No nothing. I was solely in pursuit of intoxication (chewing the banana infused gum–hey, the next artisan delicacy!) because one of my best friends assured me all the kids in Berkeley did this to get high.

And even with all the years of all sorts of woo weirdness (some of it chronicled elsewhere in this blog), I didn’t approach a determined study of magic and witchcraft until 2016, when I was living in Hawai’i and I began my first fantasy novel, The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits. In my elevator speech, this is “a tale of mid-life magic.” It’s what happens when a bunch of Elves show up at a post-hippie/post-punk commune in Hawai’i and a group of middle-aged (and older) people discover they are heirs to a magical legacy. They have to learn magic real, real quick too because (surprise!): bad guys. So because I was writing about magic and witchery, I had to learn about it. And to learn about it, I had to plunge myself into it, as any good Scorpio would.

Yes, magic has become a consuming special interest. No one who knows me well is surprised by this. I am always consumed by one thing or another.


“Magic is the art and science of influencing change to occur in conformity to will.”– Jason Miller.

This is one of my favorite descriptions of magic. I think the source is this Down at the Crossroads interview with Miller. I have two of his books, The Elements of Spellcrafting: 21 Keys to Successful Sorcery and Sex, Sorcery, and Spirit: The Secrets of Erotic Magic. I recommend them both. Here’s his website.


Turns out learning the rudiments of magical theory and practice was a lifesaver as well. So good for my mental health, which was seriously eroding in the aftermath of a divorce, a sadly souring love affair, separation from my children, and the election of 2016. I began my research with a Magic in the Middle Ages course from the University of Barcelona and offered through Coursera.

My first actual “how to” witchcraft education came through Ariel Gatoga’s online Witch’s Primer and DCW lectures. Ariel, with his delightful personality and well-organized wisdom, got me through some very bad moments and helped me to muster the courage to move back to California from Hawai’i. However, all his podcast links on the internet have been corrupted or have vanished, so you can only find working links to his material here. This is a treasure trove for beginners. I am not kidding.

The Down at the Crossroads podcast, hosted by Christopher Orapello and Tara-Love Maguire, has also been a fantastic source of information and inspiration. I’ve bought many books after hearing interviews with authors on that show. I also cannot wait to get my hands on their first book, Besom, Stang & Sword: A Guide to Traditional Witchcraft, the Six-Fold Path & the Hidden Landscape. I pre-ordered. Release date is December 1st.

Daniel Foor’s Ancestral Medicine work has also been profoundly influential for me (go here for free access to lectures and podcasts).

Of course, I now range widely through books and the internet in pursuit of tips, tricks, lore, and history, but as a witchy autodidact, my larnin’ is sketchy on such topics as Crowley and the OTO, variations of Wicca, and so on.

However, I’m a solitary practitioner, partly by nature and partly due to disability, which is really a bore. I haven’t gone to a single Northern CA spiral dance (don’t wanna suffer from airborne essential oils) or a Reclaiming Witch Camp (camp=woods=mosquito repellent). I haven’t even made it to a PantheaCon! (It’s not just the multiple chemical sensitivity/environmental illness stuff that gets in my way. I also need a good cat-sitter.)

So what do I do all by my lonesome? Here’s a general outline.

Daily and Weekly Routine: a daily “energy” exercise and meditation practice for health and will power, plus devotional practices and offerings to my deities (Loki, Freya, Frey, and Gerda), ancestors, and guides. Food offerings to ancestors and land wights take place once a week, usually.

I’m pretty much a slacker when it comes to witchy celebrations, except for Samhain. If I had some other folks in my life who did this stuff, I’d probably enjoy this.

Divination: Learning Tarot and Norse Runes (very much a beginner). I use the pendulum often for certain kinds of check-ins.

Current Studies and Magical Interests: Ongoing ancestral lineage healing, as per Daniel Foor; cultivating relationships with unseen beings and ecologies (Aidan Wachter and his book, Six Ways-Approaches and Entries for Practical Magic, is a good influence here); and “charming” daily life, infusing it with magic (you can listen to Ariel Gatoga’s A Charmed Life podcast here). I’m currently learning practical spellcraft techniques such as sigil magic, witch jar spells, and solo sex magic. Plus, I’m an avid learner with regard to Loki and my other deities.

Imaginative_tales_195501So, that’s the basic gist. Does this make me a bad or delusional person? I think not. It’s actually quite a wonderful pursuit for my declining years. Since I’m no longer a “young chick” (a term I never embraced, but ex-lovers have used), it’s kind of great to be transforming into an “old witch.” Especially if I could find a spell that would let me rock a spangly red costume like the one at right.

If you’re a fellow practitioner, would love a comment!

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Loptson’s “Eight Days of Loki” Ritual

I’m a Scorpio sun with three additional planets (and an asteroid) also in Scorpio (fifth house). And with all that plus a Capricorn moon, you know I’m a woman “what likes a challenge!” My birthday, Nov. 1st, encompasses part of Samhain, so by that you can probably guess what kind of challenges I like!

So of course I would follow up my “93-Day Loki Spiritual Fitness Challenge” regimen with dedicating the Lokabrenna Tiny Temple, and plunging right into Dagulf Loptson’s “Eight Days of Loki,” which may be found in his excellent book. (And then I’ll promptly plunge into his nine day ritual, “Breaking Loki’s Bonds.”)

Have I mentioned that I suffer from chronic fatigue along with the environmental illness? Almost thirty years worth? Even so, I feel driven to perform these almost muscular displays of esoteric endurance and concentration. My usual pattern is to drive myself  to do as much as possible while I have energy, then collapse. But energy-building practices are part of what this is all about.

Anyway, I’m on Day 7 and the theme is “thinking.” It’s a day I’m supposed to “expand my own thinking and the thinking of others.” I can probably bring the fact that I’ve also just started NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) too, as my second volume of fantasy fiction does contain some mind expanding elements! (I have to get cracking on Chapter One in a minute so I can acheive my daily word count!)

Tomorrow, Day 8, is “war” and, um, I actually will need to pay close attention to the guidance that emerges from this particular theme. Got a situation…

Before I touch on my reactions to the ritual so far, I want to say how grateful I am for it! Loptson’s book is an important guide for me and it’s wonderful to have these prompts and ideas for connecting with various aspects of Loki, who is a very complicated being. I can be scattered and such focus is helpful.

Day 1’s theme is “Pure Magic” and since it took place on a Saturday, the day I typically honor my ancestors, this was part of my awareness of magic. It was a day of preparation for the temple dedication so devotional activities were also a part of this awareness.

Day 2’s theme is “Death” and it coincided with the Lokabrenna Tiny Temple dedication. The temple, transformed from a sparse utilitarian space (it was a woodshop) to a beautiful devotional space, is almost a metaphor of life and death. The act of responding to the call to create this liminal “home” for Loki is also metaphorical as well as practical.

However, I didn’t visit a graveyard as Loptson suggests. I was just too exhausted after the dedication to trek around the lake to the nearest cemetery. Instead, I contemplated the sad grave of two newborn kittens that the vet and I had tried to save. (They weren’t even mine–I was catsitting a pregnant cat for some friends. Her kittens were born while they were away.) The early death of these helpless babies, which I buried in the front yard, is a frequent momento mori.  Plus, I’m now sixty-four and recently made my will. That’s a momento mori too.

But one of Loptson’s questions for the day is, “How do you feel about Loki, knowing that he is one of the gatekeepers who will one day remove you from your body?” I want to cry with gratitude just thinking about this, actually! So that’s cool!

Oct29LokiDrawingDay 3’s theme is “Wealth,” particularly wealth of talents. I haven’t drawn much in a long, long time. I used to be the kid who was always drawing–in school, at home–whenever, wherever. I decided I wanted to make a new portrait of Loki, but was very hesitant to do so. But after several false starts, I let my hand move and create something, even if it is rather minimal. The lesson I learned was that I want and need to draw more, and that I need to get Crowquill pens and india ink, my favorite art tools. Even so, I was satisfied with the rather seductive look of mischief that emerged in this drawing.

Day 4’s theme is “Love.” But instead of having a day of childlike fun and frolic, recapturing the lost innocence and joy of youth (as suggested), I gave several hours of hypnosis and counseling time to a friend who needed to quit smoking and who had some heavy issues to confront in the process.

Day 5’s theme is “Ego.” Loptson suggested breaking a personal taboo “that challenges your current identity.” Well, I ended up making a phone call to someone I’d worked very, very hard to leave and it resulted in a reconciliation of sorts (but on much different terms). I also made a gesture of love and forgiveness to another person who has hurt me very deeply. That was definitely an ego challenge, forcing me to connect with the vulnerable humanity of others, and to be vulnerable myself. So… unexpected, that! And I won’t say I’m comfortable, but I am glad.

Day 6’s theme is “Sex” and it coincided with my birthday! But since I spent the day driving to the San Francisco Bay Area to see my children for a lunch date, perhaps the day for me was more about “Reproduction!”

Plus, as a sexologist, sex educator, and tantra practitioner, there aren’t really a lot of ways to challenge myself about sex these days. Especially since I lack a human partner. I’d say I’m also well aware of Loki as an almost tantric deity who is very connected to the deep, cosmic aspects of libido and sexual energy.

So we’re back to Day 7, “Thinking.” I’ll report on today and tomorrow in my next blog. I also feel as if I want to repeat this series of rituals in the Spring. I don’t know why, I just do.

Hail Loki! And big thanks to Dagulf Loptson for his excellent book!

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Imagined, Not Imaginary

When I was very little, 1950s cartoon characters, Crusader Rabbit and Mighty Mouse were my invisible friends. These characters prompted stirrings of heartfelt yearning even at that young age–a mixed desire for romance and adventure. I remember those feelings quite well and could empathize years later when a five year old of my acquaintance told me he liked Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter’s version) because she had “nice legs.”

So now that I’m cultivating a robust spirit ecology (as a witchy pagan polytheist/animist), you might be tempted think that I never outgrew my childish fantasies. And perhaps you’d be right. Crusader Rabbit and Mighty Mouse provided the little me with unconditional positive regard and I was their comrade, their equal in every way (even though I couldn’t fly). I really loved those guys and I thought they loved me back. These days my deities also seem to radiate unconditional positive regard, even though I (still) cannot fly. Or shapeshift. Or whatever. And yeah, I really love them.

And that mixed desire for romance and adventure? I’ve still got that too. And it’s gotten me into heaps of trouble as an adult. (I haven’t learned my lesson yet, though I’m immensely wary now.)

The culture (so-called) that I reluctantly inhabit takes it for granted that childish imaginations will be dulled, tamed, or destroyed via K-12 education, school bullying, and the drudgery of adult life. And we like to think that’s a good thing, a sign of “maturity.” Anyone who resists the corrosion and destruction of their imagination is suspect.

Of course I think that lifelong resistance to that destruction is actually one of the most important things we can do. Childhood capacities to ensoul and engage with imagined companions are fundamental creative skills, plus they’re precursors to grown-up spiritwork and magic. And so, yeah, I’m unapologetically on the side of most of those who work and play in and about the unseen worlds, along with their spirit pals. (There are some jerks and worse about, of course, as there are everywhere else.)

My premise and ongoing theme is this: there’s a reason human beings have these innate capacities for engagement with unseen companions and worlds, from childhood on. Like the bee orchid, I believe we’ve evolved certain characteristics that facilitate a process of mutual attraction with those unseen. I can’t imagine any other root cause for religions and magic, for fey folktales and Marvel super heroes.

Three books have been my constant companions lately: Dagulf Loptson’s Playing With Fire–An Exploration of Loki Laufeyjarson (Asphodel Press, 2014); Jason Miller‘s Sex, Sorcery and Spirit–The Secrets of Erotic Magic (Career Press, 2015); and Aidan Wachter’s Six Ways–Approaches and Entries for Practical Magic (Red Temple Press, 2018). And readers of this blog might have noticed that I’ve referenced Miranda Shaw’s Passionate Enlightenment–Women in Tantric Buddhism (Princeton University Press, 1994) more than once, I recommend all of these books. They’re excellent.

My ongoing process is threefold. (1) To explore magic, defined as Jason Miller defines it: “the art and science of influencing change to occur in conformity to will” (as quoted in this Down at the Crossroads podcast interview). (2) To get to know and work with some of the “Spirits of the Field” (Wachter, p. 13. And listen to his Crossroads interview here.), including those that “indwell” in material substances (the concept of animism) as well as wights and ancestors (my own and the ones who reside in this area). (3) To cultivate devotional, loving, co-creative relationships with a few compelling deities, especially Loki Laufeyjarson, my “most trusted one.” (This makes me only as proportionately “batty” as any serious practitioner of any mainstream religion.)

It’s been interesting working with the precise combination of books I mention above. Miller’s book on erotic magic includes Tantric and Taoist practices as well as sigil work. And Shaw’s book elaborates on the role of women and female “energy” in Tibetan Tantra, while also describing the centuries-old traditions of working with “imagined partners” (e.g. deities, dakinis, and yoginis). Wachter’s book describes sigil work and devotional practices, and models respectful ways to interact with the Spirits. Loptson’s book–ditto, but with the focus on Loki. Without realizing what I was doing at first, I’ve been combining and reassembling elements from these books into a very individual practice, which I’ve touched on in this blog.

And I am finding that working with “imagined” (conceptually “summoned”) spirits and deities is not an “imaginary” process, as what happens as a result of this work is quite real and yields tangible results. In the last 78 days of my “Loki 90-Day Spiritual Fitness Challenge,” I’ve experienced ebbs and flows, ecstacy and plateaus, and my cats not leaving my toes alone as I try to meditate. Sometimes there are sudden “jumps” to what might be a new level, but so far, I’m still uncertain as to the terrain or my ability to reliably enter and inhabit it. 78 days of sustained, daily practice is nothing, really, and yet it is the first time I’ve ever pledged myself to such an endeavor. I do intend to continue on, because the last few days in particular have been very interesting indeed. My childhood yearnings for romance and adventure could never have imagined this path.

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“Are we there yet?”

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Not-So-Solo (Neo)Tantra

Disclaimer: This is a follow-up to my previous blog: Loki Pushes My Neo-Tantra Buttons. What follows is the result of “UPG” (unverified personal gnosis) and is based on my own personal spiritual practices at this time. These practices are based on instruction I’ve had and books I’ve read, but I do not claim to be an expert in them. I am very much an experimental learner here. You, the reader, must do your own research and reading, and above all, cultivate your own discernment and “gut feelings” about what is right for you. I’ll do the best I can to provide resources and book links, as well as reasonable cautions and observations. If you decide to embark on any portion of what I describe here, know that I take no responsibilty for this decision of yours. Certain mental conditions might be contra-indicated for these potent energy practices. Check with your therapist if you have one. Likewise check with your health care providers regarding any medical conditions you have. 

Above all, please use your common sense. 


Dedication: I dedicate this blog post to my beloved teacher and “most trusted one,” the cosmic being known most frequently as “the Norse god, Loki.”

 

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Urnes Snake. Scandinavian. Source: http://lokeanwelcomingcommittee.tumblr.com/

Okay, lets get on with it! In my previous blog, I wrote: “At this point, I’d say Loki closely fits the “profile” of a deity who offers a template of transformation fueled by sexual energy–using some symbols and methods that are at least superficially comparable to Hindu and Buddhist tantric traditions.” In a more recent blog, I’ve mentioned that I am deliberately embarked on a tantric-like, energetic spiritual practice that involves (among other things) engagement with a non-corporeal spiritual being. And I mention that this is not unusual in Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist Tantra. What’s different about what I’m doing is that I’m engaging in this way with a spiritual being outside the Hindu and Tibetan pantheons. But let’s set that aside for a moment. Let’s say you are curious about these practices (with or without a specific deity in mind) and want to know how this works. What follows is just ONE example of a Westernized approach.

First, please read my post Decolonizing Western Neo-Tantra on my sexologist blog, and especially go to the link to Yoga and the Roots of Cultural Appropriation by Shreena Gandhi and Lillie Wolff, as well as the other article I mention. This will give you a sense of my history with Western Neo-Tantra and why I am no longer formally associated with the organization where I received most of my tantra instruction. More importantly, you will get an introduction to the issues of appropriation and colonization of yoga (and therefore Tantra as well). Decolonizing Yoga is an excellent website! So please, start there!

Let’s be clear again that what I am about to describe is a hybrid practice, based on my own UPG and traditions that have been modified for–and commodified by–Westerners. This doesn’t mean the practices don’t have spiritual value–they do!–but that this is part of the “genealogy” of what I convey. There is also some meshing here of sexual mysticism (e.g. Tantra) and Western sexual magic.

Now ask yourself why you are curious about these practices? There’s no right answer. Just know what it is you want. A focus on sexual mysticism implies an impulse toward transcendence and perhaps a greater union with that which is larger than humans (including perhaps a union with specific deity or deities). A focus on sexual magic implies a desire to learn to harness the energy generated by such practices in order to create certain outcomes. Or perhaps you are interested in both. (I am!)

Re-examine your capacities for discernment. What tools and techniques do you use?

Please also ask yourself how you will ground yourself if the energies become too much at any given point. How will you handle a spiritual emergency? (Perhaps you might want to read this book by Stanislav Grof.) Who is your support team? Who will have your back in such matters? Do you already have magical or spiritual things that you do in such cases? What kinds of grounding and protection “tools” are already in your toolbox? If there are things you’ve used in the past, but not recently, I suggest brushing up on them.

Give some thought also to how you will involve or communicate with your present human partner(s).

What do you do already that is yogic, tantric, magical, etc.? Can some of what you do already be incorporated into this pursuit? Or should it? Give this some thought. Some things work well together, even if they are from different traditions, others don’t.

Be prepared to do some reading (below). Then to practice the techniques solo for quite a long time BEFORE involving an “imagined partner.”


BOOK LIST — Sorry, these books are all very “gender binary.” Adjust as you see fit.

Tantra:

Jewel in the Lotus–The Tantric Path to Higher Consciousness. Sunyata Saraswati and Bodhi Avinasha, 3rd Edition. 2002. Ipsalu Tantra International. [Techniques]

The Ipsalu Formula–A Method for Tantra Bliss. Bodhi Avinasha. 2003. Ipsalu Tantra International. [Techniques]

Passionate Enlightenment–Women in Tantric Buddhism. Miranda Shaw. 1994. Princeton University Press. [Background on the Tibetan dakini tradition and the use of “imagined partners.”]

Sex Magic:

The Art of Sexual Magic. Margo Anand. 1995. Jeremy Tarcher/Putnam. [Anand also wrote a famous book on Tantra, The Art of Sexual Ecstasy, but I am not referencing it here.]

Sex, Sorcery and Spirit–The Secrets of Erotic Magic. Jason Miller. 2015. New Page Books.

Secrets of Western Sex Magic. Frater U.D. 2001. Llewellyn.


I’ve been engaged in mostly solo tantra since 2005, sometimes with large gaps in having a consistent daily practice. What I am presently doing is a diligent daily practice of (1) the following Neo-Tantra exercise, energy, and breath techniques; and (2) twenty minutes or so spent in establishing a meditative, visualized, and energetic connection with my chosen imagined partner. Taking up this daily practice again is a condition I intend to meet for at least 90 days as a way to prepare for further instruction in sex magic. It is also a way to come closer to my patron deity. Some days are juicier and more rewarding than others. Some days I wonder what the heck I’m doing. (So be prepared for ups and downs.)

I generally do the following (1) and (2) after my usual daily devotions to my deities, ancestors, etc. so I am already in a somewhat spiritually receptive frame of mind.

(1) Daily Practice: These techniques follows the simplest Ipsalu Tantra ASATE formula (using the set of practices taught in Ipsalu’s “Level One” weekends).

• Activate the body — Rishi Isometrics (Tantra Bliss, pp. 57-60; Jewel, pp. 62-66).

• Still the mind — (1) Nadi Shodhana/Alternate Nostril Breath (Tantra Bliss, pp. 169-170; Jewel, pp. 83-84). (2) Hong Sau Breath (Jewel, pp. 152-156).

• Arouse sexual energy — (1) Aswini Mudra (Jewel, p. 174). (2) Vajroli Mudra (Jewel, pp. 174-175). (These two exercises work muscles in the perineum and pelvic floor.)

• Transmute the energy — I am initiated in three forms of the Ipsalu Cobra Breath, which I’m not allowed to share, but you might want to try some of the techniques in Jason Miller’s book (pp. 53-69),  followed by meditation. Inner Fire is particularly good. Do up to fourteen rounds of whatever technique you choose.

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Immortals Wand. I painted a picture of Loki on it.

• Enjoy — You could just dance to something wonderful for five minutes. I also use the Immortals Wand. It requires an implement to cup and hold between the palms of your hands. I have a special wand from Ipsalu Tantra International, but a simple dowel, 1 in. diameter and 10.5 inches long, would work.  3. ITI – Instruction_for_Immortals’_Wand.

The above books have lots of other practices to offer, and I encourage you to find ones that fit the above ASATE pattern. Plan on devoting about 45 minutes to all this, per day.

(2) Connection. The practice of invoking and imagining my non-corporeal partner is a little more intuitive and less scripted. I usually invite my chosen imagined partner, Loki, to be with me, but also add that if that’s not possible, I’ll still be continuing the practice with “a semblance” (as the whole point is to DO the practice). This sets a relaxed, no-strings mood that seems to work well with this particular deity. Usually he “shows up” in greater or lesser intensity.

I have some special music that I am using at the moment and I often bring in the “Vase Breath” (Miller, p. 55) or other breaths before diving into the “connecting” imagery and breath work. This consists of several different kinds of visualized/imagined/experienced breath and energy cycles between me and the “imagined partner.” There are cycles where I breathe out and imagine my partner breathing in, and the cycle connects us between the heart and root chakras (for example). Or this pattern is reversed. Sometimes there is a figure eight pattern of energy and breath (which is wonderfully snake-like). Sometimes I visualize/imagine our combining the “red drops and the white drops” of inner alchemy (Miller, p. 49). And often after spending time in these specific patterns, I relax and allow a kind of inner dance, which often consists of feelings and images of shape-changing, joyous play.

At the end, I thank my partner and usually I will “check-in” (via pendulum). This may sound daft to anyone who hasn’t worked in this way, but I feel that this is respectful and satisfies a need for closure of the session.

Working in this way allows me to feel the benefits of self-discipline, the pursuit of transcendence and magical knowledge, and additional connection with my patron deity. I have not noticed any downside to this, at all. Even so, I would caution beginners to go slowly, curb expectations, and to really go with their gut feelings about what works or doesn’t work for them.

Also, use your common sense about who you choose for your imagined partner. Tantra is frequently known as “the heroes path” because all hell generally breaks loose when you begin a Tantric practice. And people who follow Loki (often called Lokeans) may often experience some similar shake-ups. Combining the two… well… think about it! If you desire a calm(er) entry to this kind of working, choose a less potent, less fiery being to work with, at least in the beginning. But as I said earlier, do these practices first for a long time before you move beyond solo. Every extra element you add just adds to your learning curve!

What I describe above is simply my way and it may or may not be helpful for you. Good luck!

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Sexual Ecstacy in This Dire Time

Trigger Warning. I know that sexual abuse and assault is a way to destroy people at their deepest, most profound core self. This can be performed as a private act of violence and intimidation; as “masculine theater” (read this excellent article by forensic psychologist, Karen Franklin); or as a technique of warfare. Though not all victims are women (including trans women), the majority are. In this blog, I will concern myself with women (trans and cis). But what I have to say about the impact of sexual violence on sexual and gender agency, as well as the importance of reclaiming sexual/gender agency and ecstasy, can apply to people of any and all genders.

I’m also going to be writing waaaaay above my own mystic paygrade here–extrapolating from my background as a sexologist, as a Western Neo-tantra neophyte, and as a sexual mystic and polytheistic devotee of certain larger entities we humans like to call “gods and goddesses”–in order to form certain thoughts about the absolute, urgent necessity to do all that we can to reclaim and strengthen our own sexual/gender agency and capacities for joy and ecstasy in this most trecherous and dire time. Call me a “sexual survivalist,” but people who are sexually free and unashamed are also more resilient and a lot harder to conquer and cow, as a rule. Of course, dictators and despots determined to enact violence and genocide on a people will usually find ways to do it, but they may not win in the end if enough people who oppose them have a wellspring of robust joy to draw upon in their acts of resistance. I believe in the ultimate triumph of Eros. (And, of course, of strategic street smarts…)

I don’t have to tell you, we live in a time of conquering right now. In the U.S., yesterday’s hearing was indeed a horror show, a Grand Guignol-esque production stage-managed by the minions of a “great [orange] puppet.” I could only watch so much. It was sick-making.  And yet, by the end of this traumatic day, I was able to re-focus, and through the various solo tantric disciplines I currently employ, enjoy twenty minutes of profound, sexually-charged, mystic energy. Wow, I needed that!

And no one can take this capacity away from me, not now. Not without drugs or a lobotomy, anyway. And I believe we ALL have these capacities, and more, should we care to cultivate them. And then no one can take them away from you, either.

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Public Domain fractal by Avi Kedmi.

In the tradition of Tantric Buddhism (with many traits shared with Hindu Shakti worship), Miranda Shaw, author of Passionate Enlightenment-Women in Tantric Buddhism, describes part of this cultivation process (which also includes meditation, etc.):


“Her ability to enhance a man’s spiritual development depends upon her innate divinity as awakened and brought to fruition by her own religious practices, which include envisioning herself in the form of various goddesses and imaginatively investing herself with their appearance, ornaments, tender and wrathful expressions, and supernatural powers for liberating beings” (p. 45). 


Let me add that the above is also how the woman (trans or cis) enhances her own spiritual development, however the above paragraph was taken from the section titled “Respect and Honor” (pp. 39-47), which includes a discussion of the Tantric Buddhist conventions that govern how Tantric men were to recognize and respond to all women (not just Tantric women). Quoting again from the book, here is a translated passage from a Tantric text (so sadly different from attitudes one encounters today):


“One must not denigrate women, In whatever social class they are born, For they are Lady Protection of Wisdom, Embodied in the phenomenal realm” (p. 39).


So, packed into the first paragraph I quoted, we have “innate divinity,” the potential for being “awakened and brought to fruition,” and “religious practices” which include taking on the attributes of a goddess (or god?) through imagined (and perhaps costumed) appearances, expressions, adornments, and powers. Remember how I wrote that our deities offer us “templates” of spiritual enlargement? One way we (in the phenomenal world) can enlarge our Selves is to imagine and meditate ourselves into those qualities and attributes we wish to assume, becoming (being!) that to which we aspire. This is different from a mania or messiah complex in which a person is thunderstruck by an epiphany of their own divinity but doesn’t recognize that everybody else has that same birthright. No, what is implicated in the above paragraph is a disciplined, measured, meditative series of actions taken for the purpose of transformation.

In other words, when we invoke, evoke, live into (and grow into) the attributes of that ecstatic goddess (or god!), transformation occurs. “Enjoyment and magical powers are attained” (p. 38).

So, yeah. Lady Loki cos-play could be one way to kick things up a notch or two, couldn’t it? Think about it.

And don’t forget that part about “liberating beings.” Imagine how your mystic practices can and will feed your activism. Imagine your juice and joy fueling your resistance to despots and preventing activist burn-out.

But prepare to encounter the mana-suckers, those unsavory psychic vampire types (phenomenal or otherwise) who just love to glom onto your juicy female (cis or trans) energy because they feel entitled to it. You know what I’m talking about. So, yeah. Enjoy being your badass liberating self,  but also know there are times to be cloaked, warded, guarded, safe. Cultivate discernment.

Now, just as we create a spiritual practice in which we live into the attributes of any number of goddesses (or gods!), we can also engage with “imagined partners” who also assist in our elevation. God spouses are already doing this. In Tantric Buddhism, this has sometimes been the preferred option for beginners and sometimes seen as the choice of superior practitioners. However you want to slice it, given the prevalence of sexual violence and the number of rape apologists in this world, perhaps an “imagined” partner for Tantric practice is the best or most accessible choice for a woman (cis or trans) who wants to take back and cultivate her sexual/gender agency and capacities for transcendence and sexual ecstasy. And, as in any other mystic relationship that is cultivated through offerings and devotional acts, this “imagined” partner can become a helpful ally and guide in more than the meditative sessions.

This is the path I have chosen. I expect to be engaged with it, and my chosen “imagined partner,” for the rest of my life, no matter what else happens or who else crosses my path. Before my life ends, I yearn to experience the liberation of the “sky-dancers.” And I passionately desire this for the rest of the world: similar liberations from sexual and political tyranny.

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Loki Pushes My Neo-Tantra Buttons

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Urnes Snake. Scandinavian. Source: http://lokeanwelcomingcommittee.tumblr.com/

Snakes, fire, a robust sexual history and magic expertise… how can I comprehend Loki as anything other than the bearer of knowledge that resembles tantra (or Western-style sex magic)? (Yes, I know he has additional attributes but I’m not concerned with those at the moment.) What follows is my “unverified personal gnosis” (UPG) on this topic.

But let’s back up a bit. Let’s think a moment about this concept called “gods” (I’ll use this word to mean deities of all genders). Dagulf Loptson’s book, Playing with Fire–An Exploration of Loki Laufeyjarson (Asphodel Press, 2014), is an important source for me these days and he describes his concept of gods as “enormous, primordial, creative beings who manifest themselves in both the unseen and physical worlds via nature and human insight.” This works for me. Furthermore, Loptson suggests that gods take many forms, and we humans give them many faces. This also works for me.

I’d like to suggest that among other things, these primordial beings offer templates of spiritual enlargement to those humans who care to partake. Sure, the gods can also torment us, play with us, comfort us, blow our tiny minds, and request offerings (like the colorful donut-patterned shower curtain Loki wanted a few days ago), but when I really ask myself what human/deity interactions are all about, I get a kind of transcendent evolutionary vibe, if ya know what I mean. They can open themselves as doors, if we want to step through them, and change.

That’s why we have scads of spiritual traditions, religions, and magic rituals, with an endless array of techniques for getting in touch with these larger beings: meditation, prayer, trancework, offerings, mantras, visualization of yantras, contemplation, and quite a lot of sexual magic. Sexual actions, energy, and fluids have figured prominently in all kinds of practices, from Tibetan Buddhism to Crowley’s OTO and beyond. And sometimes there are elaborate rituals that include imagining oneself and/or one’s partner as divine (thereby stepping into the template). The process of cultivation is key.

So let’s say there really is an “enormous, primordial, creative being” out there that we call “Loki,” as well as various other kennings (defined as “indirect bynames,” Loptson, p.20). Like other deities, Loki has various attributes and associations, both ancient and modern. And like other deities, he can provide us with a template for spiritual expansion. I’ll repeat the four associations I mentioned above: (1) snakes, (2) fire, (3) a robust sexual history, and (4) magic.

Snakes. Loki fathered the giant Midgard-circling snake, Jörmungandr, and was also tormented by a poison-dripping snake when bound by the Aesir. These days, many Lokeans wear the Urnes Snake as a pendant, though there’s no actual evidence linking this image with Loki in ancient times. (The Lokean Welcoming Committee has a good discussion of the Urnes Snake here and points out that it has now become a modern symbol for Loki.)

Both Hindu and Buddhist forms of tantra are also associated with snakes, which are symbols of  kundalini energy, said to be coiled at the base of the human spine. There are also three snake deities in Hinduism. Shiva (the ultimate tantric god) is usually depicted wearing one of them, Vasuki, around his neck. Also notice that two of the carvings (below) feature two entwined snakes.

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6 October 2011. Source: Nagaraja – Hindu Deity – India. Author: Natesh Ramasamy from Bangalore, India. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

In Passionate Enlightenment–Women in Tantric Buddhism (Princeton University Press, 1994), Miranda Shaw writes:

“Kundalini-yoga offered a range of techniques to harness the powerful psycho-physical energy coursing through the body. In India it is believed that this energy can be channeled for procreation, sexuality, creativity, or spiritual experiences and heightened awareness. Most people simply allow the energy to churn a cauldron of chaotic thoughts and emotions or dissipate the energy in a superficial pursuit of pleasure, but a yogi or yogini consciously accumulates and then directs it for specified purposes. This energy generates warmth as it accumulates and becomes an inner fire or inner heat (candali) that burns away the dross of ignorance and ego-clinging.” (p. 31)

Fire: Dagulf Loptson’s book contains a chapter (pp. 136-154) which deals extensively with Loki’s association with fire, specifically with ritual and cremation fires. There is also an interesting comparison of Odin (Nordic god associated with cremation) and the possible role played by his fiery pal, Loki, with the Hindu Shiva (also god of cremation) and Agni (god of cremation fire). I can’t replicate the arguments here. Just get the book if you’re interested in knowing more. I still need to get God in Flames, God in Fetters: Loki’s Role in the Northern Religions, by Stephen Grundy (published by The Troth). With a title like that, I expect yet more examination of Loki’s associations with fire.

Cremation grounds were a popular setting for tantric practices and gatherings. Miranda Shaw writes that “Tantric Buddhists encountered their Hindu counterparts at the cremation grounds…” (p. 31). She also describes bone instruments, ornaments and skull-caps used to serve meat and drink at tantric feasts. Skull Imagery and Skull Magic in the Yoginī Tantras by David P. Gray (Santa Clara University) is another interesting resource.

I note here that one of Loki’s kennings means “vulture’s path” (Loptson, p. 36). Vultures were frequent visitors to charnel grounds. Loki is the father of Hel (or Hela), the Norse goddess of death. Her physical description could almost be that of a “wrathful dakini.” (For that matter, Fenris, Loki’s wolf child with Angrboda, could also have a symbolic association as a cremation grounds scavenger. This is pure speculation, however.)

I suggest it might be interesting to consider Loki’s connection with snakes and fire (and death) as an esoteric reference to the “inner fire” of transformative sexual energy, something that Loki may very well teach and/or provoke.

Robust Sexual History: In the Norse poem, Lokasenna, Loki reveals his sexual history with just about every goddess in Asgard (and these days some people speculate about a sexual relationship with Odin as well). Plus, he’s a shapeshifter who mated with a stallion and bore a magical horse. And he’s got more than a few present-day god-spouses (of all genders). Lots of deities have active sex lives, but Loki combines that with his most noted quality: bringer of chaos and transformation. In Western tantric circles, it’s a given that taking up a tantric practice inevitably means that all hell is going to break loose in your life. We would nod at each other and say, “yeah, hero’s path, dude!” in the same way that Lokeans frequently commiserate with each other about the fan-hitting stuff that goes down after accepting Loki into your life.

Loptson references Loki’s “ecstasy” in the thirteenth verse of his “Loki’s Stave.” Sophie Oberlander calls Loki a “God of ectastic union” (The Jotunbok–Working with the Giants of Northern Tradition, Raven Kaldera. Asphodel Press, 2006, p. 269). Fuensanta Plaza writes of an incident in which Loki manifests as a “huge, fierce joy” (Also Jotunbok, p. 265). I believe I have also felt something of this on several occasions, accompanied by delicious shivers.

Magic. Loki has magic powers, particularly shapeshifting (which Loptson also calls “skin leaping,” pp. 238-239). Loptson also mentions “bind runes” and fire magic and divination (pp. 235-237). Elizabeth Vongvisith also credits Loki with runelore (learned from Odin), seidr-craft (learned from Freya), word magic, and sex magic (Jotunbok, p. 258).

Loki is also known as “the mother of witches” (Mordant Carnival, Jotunbok, p. 271), birthing “troll-women” or “ogres” after eating a woman’s burnt heart (“The Short Seeress’ Prophesy,” The Poetic Edda, translated by Lee Hollander, University of Texas Press, 1962, p. 139).

Tantra is known for its association with magic. Powers known as “siddhis” just naturally come with the turf. Miranda Shaw writes that “…supernatural powers and expertise in magical arts…within the Tantric Buddhist context they are accepted as evidence of spiritual attainments.” This includes mastery of the body (including shapeshifting and ritual gazes), control of weather and elements (fire!), and the ability to magically transport objects (including food from people’s kitchens), and more. One famous dakini, Gangadhara, was known to turn into a wolf.

Many Lokeans complain that Loki will often make things disappear out of mischief. There are many anecdotes about missing items that are not “returned” (or made visible?) until Loki is asked (nicely, I hope) to bring it back. I had this experience with a CD that “disappeared” from my car for a couple of weeks, and I did look everywhere for it, several times. I figured out that I’d played one song way too many times in the car and asked Loki if he actually made things disappear or just prevented people from seeing them? Within a few minutes, I found the missing CD at my feet, near the brake. I do feel somewhat foolish for sharing this story, but honestly, many such are shared. I can only hope that if I ever begin to suffer from dementia, that Loki will go easy on me…

Finally, I’ve come across three kennings for Loki: Sky-Treader, Sky-Traveler, and Sky-Walker. These remind me of the term for tantric yoginis and dakinis: Sky-Dancers. I haven’t found a historical or lore source for these particular kennings yet, however, and would welcome one if you have it.

Based on much of the above, I revived my solo tantric practice and dedicated ninety days of continuity to Loki in return for some specialized instruction. I am now on day 53. It’s proven to be an interesting way to work with Loki, and I believe that committed energy work will prove helpful in this ongoing relationship, providing me with the necessary stamina and sensory refinement to “go deeper.”

At this point, I’d say Loki closely fits the “profile” of a deity who offers a template of transformation fueled by sexual energy–using some symbols and methods that are at least superficially comparable to Hindu and Buddhist tantric traditions. I am not sure if scholarship will ever uncover the reasons for these similarities, which do not seem purely coincidental. But because human sexual energy holds the potential to become a transformational spiritual force, perhaps the answer to this riddle is that some deities will always be available to assist us with this, no matter what culture or epoch we (and they) occupy.

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P.S. Here’s a reminder that it’s important to decolonize yoga and tantra.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spectrosexuality: Spirit Sex and God Spousery

Some call it “spectrophilia.” I’d be more likely to call it “entheosex,” but avid explorers of entheogens have already coined that term to mean sex while using psychedelics. As a sexologist and sexuality counselor, I think I’ll be most comfortable using the terms “spectrosexual” and “spectrosexuality.” I believe many people may experience these desires in the context of a full-blown sexual and affectionate orientation rather than as a fetish. That’s my premise–and it’s based on a hunch, not data. 

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Today’s blog outlines my initial attempts to understand this phenomena in a sexological context: people who say they have sex with spirits and deities (or who desire this), and those who claim committed relationships with such beings. Much as I did when I began to learn about objectum sexuality (Love Among the Objectum Sexuals), I begin by trying to view this phenomena by many different angles, including a sexological lens, and to see what shows up in “the literature” (books, professional journals, etc.) as well as reported “lived experiences.” And of course these kinds of accounts are showing up in pop culture, but I’m going to ignore that for the moment.

Apologies are due to you, dear reader, as most of what I cite below is cisgendered and heterosexual. Am looking for other sources. This is the just first of many blogs on this topic. [Update 8/23/18: Please read this excellent piece about being a god spouse, written by Bat Bruja.]

Let’s start with Alfred Kinsey’s classics, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (with Pomeroy, Martin, and Gebhard, 1953) and Sexual Behaivor in the Human Male (with Pomeroy and Martin, 1948). In the Female book, I scanned the index and found “psychic masturbation” (not found in Male book) which led me to this text on page 163:

“Some 2 per cent of the females in the sample had reached orgasm by fantasying erotic situations, without tactiley stimulating their genitalia or other parts of their bodies (Table 37). Exceedingly few males are capable of reaching orgasm in this fashion while they are awake, although orgasm from psychic stimulation while asleep is a common enough phenomenon among males.”

The footnote (38) attached to this paragraph gives additional terminology: “idealized coitus,” “mental cohabitation,” “moral or psychic masturbation,” “the mental vulva,” and “erotic day dreaming.” Kinsey et al. lists a number of sources for these terms including pioneering sexologists Iwan Bloch (1903), Havelock Ellis referenced in Albert Moll (1921), Magnus Hirschfeld (1916), and others. Kinsey notes that several of these sources “express the curious and certainly unfounded opinion that this is the ‘most noxious’ of all forms of masturbation.”

So the purported (cis) female ability to have “think gasms” was once thought to be “noxious” by white, (cis) male “experts.” Why are we not surprised? But rather than get hung up on that, let’s say that the interesting thing is that “psychic masturbation” showed up in very early sexological research. Later researchers have also noted this ability to “think off.” In The Science of Orgasm (2006), Barry Komisaruk, Carlos Beyer-Flores, and Beverly Whipple discuss fMRI (imaging) studies of “non-sensory induced orgasms” (pp. 260-261). They found that:

“…in thought-induced orgasms, as in orgasms produced by vaginocervical self-stimulation, the regions of the nucleus accumbens, PVN, hippocampus, and anterior cingulate cortex are activated.” (p. 261).

However, the amygdala “was not activated during thought orgasms” (p. 261).

Previous research into this topic included Whipple, Ogden and Komisaruk (1992) and Komisaruk and Whipple (2005). In the 1992 “thought orgasm” study, “–heart rate, blood pressure, pupil dilation, and pain threshold–approximately doubled during orgasm compared with initial resting baseline.” Bonk author, Mary Roach, also includes an amusing anecdote about a woman who “thinks off” in this TED Talk video.

As an aside, many erotic hypnosis enthusiasts also create and/or experience hands-off “hypno-gasms.” I teach these techniques myself.


Two important points here:

(1) Some human bodies are able to respond with pleasure, including orgasmic pleasure, simply from “thoughts” or psychic stimulation. Is this an evolved capacity? What function does this ability serve (besides sheer pleasure)?

(2) Psychic sexual stimulation and orgasm is most likely to show up in sexological literature in the context of solo sex and fantasy, or as a fetish. Not as god or spirit partner sex, even if there is the presumption that the partner is imaginary.


In Encyclopedia of Unusual Sex Practices (1992) by Brenda Love, we find spectrophilia defined as “either coitus with spirits or arousal from image in mirrors” (p. 312). Spectrophilia is discussed as a fetish often involving incubi and succubi. Many people have at least heard of sexy “attacks” by incubi and succubi spirits and perhaps have learned of the recent research into sleep paralysis (“night terrors”) which appears to explain this kind of phenomena. (Love’s spectrophilia entry predates this research.) Her entry also mentions the Babylonian Lilith, forced confessions of demonic intercourse during witchcraft persecutions, the “Thai Shrinking Penis Syndrome,” and the famous tale of the Virgin Mary and the Christian God (pp. 269-270).

[FYI: Love also has entries for altered state orgasms and near-death experiences (p. 189), as well as astral orgasms–annecdotal accounts of astral projection as a result of orgasm (p. 191), psychic orgasms (p. 192), and tantric orgasms (p. 193).]

Contemporary references to god or spirit sex may be found in books on Western magic, including sex magic books. For example, in Sex, Sorcery, and Spirit: The Secrets of Erotic Magic (2015) by Jason Miller, he discusses spectrophilia and other matters in his chapter called “Raise Your Spirits: Sex for and with Angels, Demons, Gods and Spirits” (pp. 151-167).

Spirit/human intimacy may be found in anthropological literature. An example would be The Polynesian Family System of Ka’u, Hawai’i (1998) by E.S. Craighill Handy and Mary Kawena Pukui, particularly the chapter called “Psychic Phase of the Relationship” and a discussion of “spirit lovers of the night” (kane and wahine o ka po) (pp. 116-159). Such lovers may be beneficial, and may even produce children, or they may be inadvertantly dangerous, sometimes causing human beings to pine away with desire through no fault of their own. Sometimes expert spiritual intervention is sought to sever the relationship and save the human being.

Myths, folklore, and religious traditions from all over the world and many historical periods contain accounts of human/spirit sex and intimacy. With regard to spiritual traditions, some ancient Buddhist and Hindu tantric practices include energetic sexual rites performed with spiritual beings as part of the path to transcendence. People may be asked to imagine themselves as a deity or to imagine a human partner as a deity, or to imagine the deity as a partner. Such practices were learned under guidance, during long years of study. (The above discussion of tantra is vastly oversimplified.)

Writers have often written about sexual relationships with spirits. One of my favorite stories is A.S. Byatt’s The Djinn in the Nightingale’s Eye (1994).

The internet being what it is, of course we can find references to partnered spirit sex and god spousery in blogs, websites, articles, videos, and podcasts. But I’m not incorporating a pop culture discussion in this particular blog.


Two more important points:

(3) Accounts of sexual encounters with gods and spirits have been recounted by human beings in varied cultures and historical periods. Therefore let’s consider that something about this is “real” beyond the types of reports or stories that might be explained by sleep paralysis.  

(4) People in many cultures have created and refined practices designed to create and facilitate human/spirit interactions, including sexual ones. People have devoted vast amounts of time and energy to create these practices and traditions. Why? 


It’s imporant to remember, however, that human/spirit sex was not always (or perhaps even often) looked upon with favor by religious and secular authorities. In Sex Crimes: From Renaissance to Enlightenment (2002), by William Naphy, we are told of the harsh punishments meted out to suspected witches (male and female) who have been accused of sex with demons (pp. 224-232). Even today we could probably find many instances of persecution–societies and religions which can barely tolerate gay sex are certainly not going to countenance spirit sex, which is even more transgressive as being pretty much undetectable (unless one blogs about it).

As I consider the above, from a sexological view, I have many questions. Here are some of them.


The biggest question:

What emerges for us when we understand (1) that human bodies have measurable orgasmic responses to psychic stimulation and combine this understanding with (2) a knowledge that humanity’s mythic/religious heritage includes a vast array of accounts and traditions of human sexual relationships with spirits, angels, gods, demons, etc.? What are the spiritual and cultural implications, as well as the sexological ones?


Other questions:

Are some people “wired” for a spectrosexual orientation or spectroattraction? Or should this be considered a “capacity?” (I just don’t think it’s a fetish–it’s too full-blown.)

What kinds of behavioral, emotional, and sexual variations may be found within a “spectrosexual” spectrum? I am sure we will find a range that encompasses polya spectrosexuality to mono spectrosexuality to asexual spectroattraction and more, plus ranges in genders and gendered attractions (and non-gendered attractions). We will find experiences ranging from a single encounter to committed relationships, as well as those desiring such encounters or relationships but who have not yet had them.

Will spectrosexuals eventually “come out” as a sexual minority community? (Since I know ecosexuals and objectum sexuals, this seems reasonable to me.) How will individual spectrosexuals and spectroattractors deal with their own coming out processes?

How do god spouses and spectrosexuals/spectroattractors deal with “sharing” a god or spirit?

How do spectrosexuals/spectroattractors navigate their relationships with intimate human partners? How much acceptance do they generally receive from other humans in their lives?

What kinds of discernment criteria, support, and other social structures will emerge as spectrosexuality and spectroattraction become better known?

Are there demographic and cultural factors or emotional and personality factors that are common to spectrosexuals/spectroattractors? Or not?

What sort of distasteful media circuses and pop culture travesties will emerge? What sort of cultural backlashes and oppression may we expect? What’s going to appear that is cringe-worthy (that we haven’t seen already)? How many Ph.D. candidates will do a dissertation on this topic?

For now, that is my initial take on spectrosexuality. Sadly, earlier today I lost most of my first finished draft and have had to reconstruct it all a second time. (That’s what I get, I guess, for my devotion to a trickster god.) I am sure I will be writing more on this subject, as I find it fascinating!

Are you a fellow traveller? Let me know you’re out there. Please “like” and share. Thanks for reading!

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