Evildoer's Beware... in about 10-15 years.

           For the last year or so, I've run Superhero classes, but of course it's not just Superheroes that we train to become. No, more often than not we're training as Ninjas, or Super Spies, or Jedi Knights, or Shapeshifters, or Monster Hunters, or even the monsters themselves; whatever forms will allow us to penetrate deeper into that liminal state of reality that I've come to know as the Narthex. By Fall we'll have established two new tracks around which to reorganize and reinvent the curriculum, and I'm pretty excited to see where this new formulation of the experiment will take us.

           The bulk of my work week consists of a recreational fitness class that was designed to be both fun and empowering, a class that's currently offered eight or nine times per week to various groups of kids ranging from ages 3 to 15. I'll still be doing these sorts of classes next year under the title of "Superhero Missions," and with aggressive advertizing, and increased foot traffic, thanks to the upcoming Olympics, these will probably end up being scheduled even more often by next Fall. Lots of fun.

          However, in addition to these classes we'll be offering competitive, invite only, classes called "Superhero Elite," which will be longer and a bit more difficult, each class lasting at two hours. Students selected for this class will be given the option to train anywhere from 1 to 3 nights a week, for either $105, $155, or $180/month respectively. These classes will involve training that goes well beyond the the merely physical arts of conflict, as we'll be working to master rhetoric, law, science, and other related areas that might help any one of my students to one day become a potent asset to human dignity and freedom.

           To give you an idea of what we're doing right now, here's an outline of our last four classes before summer vacation (which I guess would more accurately be called our next four classes):

           This week we all had to pass the martial trials of the Shadow King, in a bunch of shadow plays around which we structure various free-formed choreographies of War. For instance, there's the Thermopylae (where the enemies are all right in front of you and you simply mow into them like Spartans), or the Dark Alley (where you have to fight enemies that come from in front of you and from behind you simultaneously), or the Storm Clouds (where you're attacked from on high), or the Ground Swell (where you're attacked from below), or the Bruce Lee (where you're surrounded on all sides but, for some reason, they only attack you one at a time), and finally there's the far less structured Free For All, which, of course, can be performed with as many opponents as one cares to imagine. All of these can also be modified by things like slow motion, or modeling your fighting style on the moves of some particular character, animal, or mythical creature. Also, if I have time, I'm going to cut some cardboard tubes into 7 inch segments and fill them up with mercury dimes and cotton (that small detail of design will come in handy much farther down the line), cover these in Velcro and put up a Velcro target for some child-safer knife throwing (because to call any simulation of knife throwing "child-safe" would be foolish, right?).

           Then, for next week's class, I'm going to buy a remote control car, make and join together the various segmented shells of a giant centipede, and run my new autopede all around the gym. We'll probably revisit the shadow play exercises described above, this time with foam weapons.

           Then in three weeks we'll spy train again with an even thicker gauntlet of laser trip wires, bells on strings, and various other booby traps, and maybe I'll finally break out that Captian America suit to make it all seem more patriotically pressing.

          I must guard myself against a psychic force that I call "the Unseere," that Zombie maker / childhood ender who blandly reorganizes sensible priorities and blinds the human heart to all art, passion and poetry. With my mind thus defended I might just continue to remember what it means to guard the Narthex, the last, and only, entrance, at least that I know of, into Super World. Wish me luck and Namaste.

The Seven Secret (Huna) Principles

           Sooooo... I've been meditating on Huna for a little while now. To be honest, I don't believe that it's the indigenous wisdom tradition of the Polynesian people it's been attributed to (or, rather, if there's an authentic Huna tradition out there somewhere, it's certainly not the egocentric and materialistic one I'm currently studying), but since this was clearly developed by magicians of a mindset I find... uh... intriguing, I've just dove right in and given it the old Invisible College try. Hail Sat... uh... I mean, Namaste.

           Anyway, here's what I've come up with from my own humble attempts to work with this like totally ancient mystical system. (Oh and "Huna" apparently means secret. Maybe. Whatever. Just don't tell anybody else about this stuff, okay?)

The Seven Secret Principles
Perception - What you get is what you see. (Ike)
Primacy - Owning your self is the greatest wealth. (Mana)
Presence - Owning the present is the greatest power. (Manawa)
Payment - Attention directs power. (Makia)
Possibility - Time and attention are the only true limits of possibility. (Kala)
Passage - Giving your self away is the greatest act of love. (Pono)
Passion - Love pays the greatest attention. (Aloha)

Revealing the Super YOU: Part 2

           It has now been two weeks since the class that I called “Building the Super YOU, ” a class which set my mind working against the complicated complex of often subtle but nearly omnipresent forces which stand between us and our various paths to meta-humanity, our personal “Ascensions,” if you will. In the interim I have been pleased to see that my teachings regarding this strange concept have not, as I had feared, fallen on deaf ears, but rather that all of us, myself included, have made some truly remarkable progress.

           One important principle which I myself have come to appreciate is the need to recognize and respect the concept of a cover identity, which is a very important grounding aspect of the Meta-human’s often unsettling, but, otherwise, endlessly provocative, “presentation.” At first I made the rather unconstructive assumption that the “normal people” I saw in front of me were all simply obstacles to the higher-beings which I wished to reveal; however, upon reflection, I’ve come to understand how a mundane identity is in fact a very pragmatic necessity, at least, if one hopes to navigate polite society without constant rebuke, ridicule, rejection, or even the very real threat of institutionalization.

           Thus, I am no longer attempting to rend the veil with a verbal blade; now I am simply sending my messages past this entirely practical formality of the modern non-mythic age, so as to gently and gradually reawaken these strange and otherworldly creatures, who will then each be better able to develop their own strength and self-awareness while nestled within the long shadows of these various mundane disguises.

           What if it’s not just a disguise, you ask? Of course it is; it’s nothing but disguises all the way down. There’s a Zen koan, which are questions that can only be properly answered with a dawning of enlightenment, that asks, “What did your face look like before you were born; indeed, before any of your ancestors, or even the earth itself, had come into being?” Can you, now, within your own mind’s eye, look upon this, your unborn face, and not help but realize the exceedingly odd masquerade that you and so many others have fallen so deeply into? Wake up, Clark Kent -- Do I have a story for you.

           Last week I was pleasantly surprised to find that unrequested homework had been done and serious consideration had been expended towards the attainment of some sort of personal purpose. Though much of our time in that class seemed to be aimlessly frittered away in a meandering discussion of alternative histories, secret occult societies and various conspiracy theories, I believe it all served as a constructive push into an unseen world of unimagined possibilities.

           Last night, however, it seemed that we were all far more focused as we began our discussion with an examination of the divinity equation, which is created by the complimentary confluence of power and love; it’s analogs in the nearly identical formula for heroism and another for intelligence; Nietsche’s concept of slave morality; and the Aristotelian understanding and application of each of rhetoric’s three great pillars: Logos, Pathos, and Ethos.

           At the suggestion of one of my students, I’ve decided to offer another class, much like this one, in partnership with the good people at Bridgeville’s Zombie Apocalypse Pandemic, called “Psychic Inoculations,” the goal of which is to provide a certain degree of philosophical and psychological vaccination against the rising tide of Phobosophitis, the very real zombie disease which pushes us as a society ever closer to annihilation. Expect more on this in the near future; until then, Good Luck and Namaste.

Building the Super YOU: Part 1

            This week for our Superhero training we tackled the somewhat formidable task of reinventing ourselves as “Super” somethings (Be that Superheroes, Supervillains, Elves, Wizards, Mad Scientists… what have you). In hindsight, I’ve thought of quite a few things that I should have said or done in order to better guide this particular class of adults towards our rather superlative and seemingly impossible goal; I don’t think we really made it to the place to which I had hoped to get, nor do I feel like I even managed to convince anyone that it was, in fact, a place to which anyone had any hope of getting. In short, I left class feeling like a complete failure.

            However, for the sake of those of you who are following along at home, and in order to add a few things which have only recently dawned upon me in light of how anti-climatically things seem to have turned out in that particular class, I’ve decided to reiterate the four basic premises I presented in our workshop, and examine precisely where I believe that I may have miscalculated, in a lesson which I called “Building the Super You.”

            I started with a four point breakdown of the rather herculean task before us: the first two points addressed what one might call the theoretical aspects of our undertaking, requiring each one of us to identify not only an individual “purpose” but also the overarching “paradigm” within which we might best pursue such a purpose. These are massive and fundamentally important elements of any well developed inner life, and I had hoped to draw something, anything, out of my students to give me some clues about the direction that each of them might wish to search in order to pin down and further develop these big ideas for themselves. I certainly didn’t want to simply thrust my own purpose or paradigm onto any of them; in hindsight, however, I think I should have attempted to do just that.

            Most of the people I encounter have no clear or accepted purpose for their lives at all, and, what’s worse, these same people are constantly reaffirmed and redirected back towards this seemingly inescapable life of purposelessness by a now nearly ubiquitous paradigm of spiritual malnourishment and intellectual poverty, existing as unskilled consumers and dogmatic materialists in a world that they seem to find too big to argue with. I not only failed to do anything to undermine the power of this unexamined bourgeois trap, I don’t think I even managed to argue it's existence very persuasively.

            While finding a purpose to live for can seem like an overwhelming proposition for most people, I think that the key behind this difficulty, and the solution, lies in our need to first engineer an alternative paradigm (which is something we'll talk more about later), but had I attempted to persuasively thrust my own ideas onto them, this would have forced them to either accept or to reject whatever had been shown to them, and, in doing so, they would have had to examine and perhaps reshape their own current ideas on these two important topics; it’s a classic page from the “enslave or annihilate” playbook of pedagogy that I always seem to ignore at my own peril.

            These first two, primarily internal, dimensions of the Metahuman, must be established, for all practical purposes, before any other real work can be done, that is if one is to have any hope of charting not only where he or she plans on going (i.e. one’s purpose) but also, perhaps even more importantly, what direction one’s going to be coming from in order to get there (i.e. one’s paradigm). For this reason, I probably should have made that the entire focus of the lesson. However, I had hoped that perhaps we could alternatively work backwards to these, by, perhaps, capturing the class's attention and interest with the exciting possibilities contained within some manner of mythic practicum, which brings me to the final two points in my originally rather poorly planned lesson plan, a simple question of “powers” and of “presentation.”

            I see now that I was naive. What I needed to do first was to crack their existent paradigms open (No small feat, of course, but, in hindsight, I understand why this really is an essential first step, one that absolutely must be taken, before attempting anything else. I've even written all about this idea here and examined a few of my fundamental issues with our modern paradigm elsewhere as well). Doing his first, among other things, might have rendered the topics of powers and of presentation far less unimaginable; comprehensible even.

            The reason I say that these topics were incomprehensible as they were offered is because unless you are attempting to exist beyond the boundaries of the prevailing paradigm you really require neither of these two things to serve you; you will interpret the essential notions of “powers” and of “presentation” in the most mundane manners possible, thus rendering the sense in which I intended each of these two things to be understood utterly meaningless... and so it was.

            I attempted to illustrate the function of presentation by explaining an esoteric concept inherent to the ancient Egyptian practice of heku magic, which involves the power of a form, properly shaped, to incarnate otherwise alien and incomprehensible forces; however, in the end, I feel that my conveyed meaning had been redacted down to banal issues of “swagger” and “basic grooming.” For an example of powers which I personally had worked to develop, I offered the example of Batman as a model upon which I'd shaped my own training, and yet I couldn't seem to find any accessible, even fictional, examples that explained the magickal work I'd done. Indeed, even writing "Batman" on the board seemed like a ridiculous notion, not, as one might imagine, because he's so grandiose, but rather because he is, in fact, without any actual powers, at least in the sense that I would have liked to have been explaining and illustrating this term to the group in front of me.

            No, I absolutely must breakdown the power of the existent paradigm before I can go any further in this particular class. Next week, it would seem, will have to be something very, very, special, so I'll end this here as merely "part one" of my smuggling slaves of banality on an underground grailroad. Wish us luck and Namaste.