Ask Angus 29: Trending Topic: Magic 8 Balls!

Creamy: You don’t comment much about the recent topics in the Pagan Blogosphere. I’d be interested in your opinion of the current headlines.

Dear Creamy: Do I have to? I hate politics. I don’t normally jump into the trendy topics of interest, because they are topical. That is, passing. And I’m much more interested in the eternal. I’m not so much into the news as I am into olds.

Writing about the ‘news’ would be good for attracting eyeballs (As my editor points out, every, oh, day or so….), but I don’t have much patience for reading other people’s analysis, let alone constructing my own.

I am interested in what’s happening of course, just not so much in what other people think about it. If you will forgive me, allow me to use a sports metaphor: I like watching sports. I do not like watching programs that are about sports, (that is, that just talk about the game.)

I have my opinions, of course. But my interest has always been much more about the real people doing real things. I happily choose to spend my public service down at the bottom of the ladder, helping people up to the first rungs, rather than up at the top of the totem pole, arguing endlessly with other leading lights over who is more awesome / has the most extreme positions / spotted a trend first / has the largest genitalia, etc.

That’s why this is an advice column, and not a bully pulpit. You got a question about how to pronounce the name of a ritual tool, whether to come out as a pagan, or what the hell is going on with the Magic 8-Balls, then I am your user-friendly port-of-entry.

The Pagan Blogosphere can all too often seem like 200 people shrieking on the behalf of 2 million about things that really only 205 people really care about.

But since you asked so nice, Creamy, let’s look around the Hothouse right now and see what’s blooming.

  • Wiccan Privilege: I still don’t know what this really means. I think its mostly that Pagan Festivals have a lot of Wicca rituals and workshops, and other traditions feel slighted by this. But if I was putting on a Convention, I would market to the largest slice of the pie too (Shrug). I guess those smaller groups might look to see how open-source and welcoming Wicca is, and maybe then look at their own house and see if it needs a good dusting and perhaps the opening of some curtains and doors.
  • Kenny Klein being arrested for possession of child pornography. Well I had dinner with the man back in February and attended a workshop of his at Pantheacon, and I sure didn’t see any EVIL bristling just under the surface. Which is the scary thing, of course – the demons that people face can be so thoroughly masked. I’m just happy that Kenny is off the streets and hopefully getting some therapy, and I mourn for the poor children that were used to create such replusive images.
  • What will Paganism look like in 50 years? Oh, I dunno…..maybe a whole lot of squeaky wheels endlessly debating minutiae while the majority of the masses are out communing with the fey in the woods, or dancing naked around bonfires at the beach? Just a guess.

Tigger and Jeff divine the FUTURE!

Tammy: are you offended by Magic 8-balls? I mean, its a toy that claims to be magical!

Dear Tammy: I worked at a Wicca store for a few years, and almost every customer I met ended up playing with the Magic 8-Ball by the cash register. It brings back warm fuzzy memories from childhood.

I saw people asking it questions all day long and laughing at the answers it gave. A toy? Yes. Explainable? Yes. Then why is everyone nodding as they laugh at it? Why are they laughing with something that has no inherent magick in it?

Because the 8-Ball is an underappreciated oracle that operates on the same principle as Tarot, Runes, Pendulums, Bibliomancy, or any divinatory tool.

Take Tarot. I’ve given hundreds of readings over the past 20 years. What the petitioners often tell me (or their companions) is that they learned stuff they already knew; stuff they were vaguely aware of, but only on a subconscious level. Not DIScovery, but REcovery.

Pendulums, and dowsing rods work on the same principle just translated into your muscles. A pendulum is nothing more than an amplifier. You have the inherent ability to find water, your Will or North.

You ask the bob a question, but you are really asking yourself the question, in the form of your body. The fine muscles of your hand and wrist will respond subconsciously (via your peripheral nervous system) and Wisdom will rise and break the surface tension of Reality.

Pendulum tree!

That’s the cool thing about Magic 8 balls and the pendulum – nothing is hidden. Everyone can see and understand exactly what is going on. There is no illusion – but there is evidence of a force outside of normal reality. Not stage magic, but real magick.

In dowsing it’s obvious that the petitioner’s hand is moving, causing the pendulum to move. It’s just that the petitioner is not consciously moving their hand. Switch the pendulum bob with the Magic 8 Ball and the same principle is enacted: A tool that takes your question and bounces it off your inherent witchiness.

Bibliomancy is closer to the heart of the 8-Ball phenomenon. Bibliomancy is about as simple as it gets. You just open a book at random and read the first thing your eyes fall on. It acts as a catalyst for your subconscious; it shocks your opinions to the surface.

So, you ask the 8-Ball a question and it shoots back a random answer. Dumb, right? Far from it. The randomness is the key. It’s the ricochet off Chaos that connects your conscious and unconscious minds. I’ve watched many folks actually argue with the little globe of plastic and water.

They ask it, “Should I quit my job?”, and then they turn it over.

“My sources say no.”

“No? What do you know? I hate my job!”

Voila: Wisdom.

So the next time you play with a Magic 8-Ball, try a little respect. It doesn’t know anything, but you know more than you’re letting on. Together, you just may learn something.

Oh, and one more thing, Tammy: Shaking it harder will not make that cute boy at school notice you.

~Ask Angus

Angus McMahan

Send your questions to: angusmcmahan@gmail.com

(all pics from authors collection)

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About Angus McMahan

Me? I'm just the drummer. Oh, I guess I write funny stuff now and then. When I am not scratching my head at the oddball questions that show up here I am penning witticisms over at http://www.angus-land.com


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