TWH: Tupac Amaru Shakur

tupac-with-gun

My latest article for The Wild Hunt is up. It’s about Tupac Shakur, ancestor work and the theory of multiple souls (or soul-parts).


TWH: Black August

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My latest article for The Wild Hunt, “Black August,” is up.

Black August originated in the 1970s following the August 7, 1970 deaths of Jonathan Jackson, James McClain and William Christmas during a prisoner liberation and hostage-taking at the Marin County Courthouse and the August 21, 1971 death of George Jackson during a prison rebellion in San Quentin.

Black August also commemorates numerous other significant moments in black history including but not limited to the Haitian Revolution, which began on August 21, 1791 and was preceded by the Vodou ceremony at Bois Caïman on August 14, the slave rebellions led by Gabriel Prosser on August 30, 1800 and by Nat Turner on August 21, 1831, the founding of the Underground Railroad on August 2, 1850 and the Watts rebellions in August, 1965.


Chinese Spirit Medium Initiation

Chinese Mediumship Tools

Tools for the mortification of the flesh are cleansed in incense smoke. Taiwan.

From David K. Jordan’s “A Medium’s First Trance:”

The initiation was held on a festival day, and many of its activities were combined or interposed with festival activities. Basically it included two vital parts. One was an exorcism of possible demons from Qīngshuǐ’s body —just in case. When the exorcism was over, Qīngshuǐ was still in trance. That was the final evidence that he was possessed by a god, capable of withstanding the exorcism, and not by a demon, who would have been banished by it.

The second important part of the initiation consisted of providing Qīngshuǐ (still in trance) with a sword and a ball of nails. Both of these are used by spirit mediums to mortify their flesh, causing blood to flow. Mortification of the flesh is common among spirit mediums in China, and it is considered to be a sign of divine presence that the mediums do not show any sign of feeling pain when they cut and puncture themselves.

A medium does not mortify his flesh until the community initiates him. When the community accepts him and holds the initiation, he is provided with these tools of his trade. After that, in theory, he can be called upon to go into trance when the gods are needed for advice or to participate in rituals. Guō Qīngshuǐ was destined no longer to be just an ordinary Taiwanese farmer. Once provided with the tools of his godly trade, he was also a spirit medium, and his life was changed forever.

I find the fact that initiation into the role of spirit medium can only be conferred by the community to be particularly interesting and significant. That doesn’t mean that spirit possession doesn’t happen to the uninitiated (it does), but in this tradition, to be considered a “spirit medium” requires recognition by the human community as well.


Chinese Binary Divination

Chinese Binary Divination

Pairs at top and on left are wood, pair on the right is bamboo.

From David K. Jordan’s “Taiwanese Poe Divination:”

In temples and occasionally at home, Taiwanese routinely perform simple divination by means of two half-moon-shaped wooden or bamboo blocks, each of which is flat on one side and rounded on the other. Held with the flat sides together, the pair looks rather like a small banana cut in half lengthwise. They are inevitably painted red, and in Taiwanese Hokkien they are called poe (pronounced “bwey,” to rhyme with English “whey”).

In characters, poe is written differently depending partly upon whether the blocks are thought of as being made of wood or bamboo. In Northern Mandarin they are called jiào or jiǎo, and in Southern Mandarin bēi, all written with a variety of characters (筶, 筊; 盃; 杯).

The poe are used by throwing them on the floor to see whether they land rounded-side-up or flat-side-up. We may envision the process as comparable to throwing a pair of coins. The most usual procedure is for the petitioner to pose a question, and then phrase an answer. He then throws a pair of poe to receive confirmation or disconfirmation of the answer. If the two poe fall identically (both flat-side-up or both rounded-side-up), then the formulation of the answer is disconfirmed and a new answer must be proposed. If they fall differently (one flat-side-up, the other rounded-side-up), this represents a positive response. […]

The formulation normally requires a run of three positive responses in a row. Thus if a petitioner formulates his revelation, throws a pair of poe, and gets a negative response, he reformulates the revelation and tries again. If he gets a positive response, then he throws the poe a second time. If he gets a second positive response, he throws them a third time. The third positive response concludes the divination session on that question, since the formulation now gains the status of a confirmed revelation.


TWH: Warriorship and State Monopoly of Violence

gavin and micah

My July essay for The Wild Hunt was written as a devotee of war gods with the purpose of examining various theories about the State’s monopoly of violence, counter-insurgency and warriorship. It was written in the aftermath of the killing five police officers during a Black Lives Matter demonstration in Dallas July 7 and the killing of three police officers in Baton Rouge July 17, the same city where Alton Sterling was killed July 5.


TWH: Against Leviathan

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My latest article for The Wild Hunt is up. It discusses the Islamophobic responses to the Orlando shooting from an anti-civilization perspective informed by Fredy Perlman’s Against His-story, Against Leviathan.


The Wild Hunt: Dionysos

death of pentheus

My latest The Wild Hunt Article, “Dionysos,” is up. it deals with earthquakes, the rising of the Dead, police corruption in San Francisco and violent initiation, among other things.