I know it’s been way too long folks, and I’m working to come back to this blog because I really enjoyed doing it. Things have been absolutely bonkers wild, of course a lot of that is shared experience. If you’ll let me though, I want to take a slight turn today and talk about something that happened, but I promise it relates to spirituality.
So my dad talks a lot about “life scripts”, made really simple: this is an idea that individual spirits will write out a complete script of a life they want to experience in the physical plane. They will collaborate will the other spirits who represent everyone they will ever encounter in their physical lives. For him I think this is a very comforting notion, that his higher self has planned everything and that everything is going the way it is for a reason: to learn and grow. This is not dissimilar from the ways I’ve heard a lot of Christians talk about their understanding of God. “God has a plan” is vernacular that’s very familiar to anyone who’s ever heard a Christian speak, especially about tragedy. The idea that everything bad is happening for a reason, usually to encourage growth, can be very comforting to people.
Now, the theology of Avery is pretty weird and pulls from a lot of different directions to create itself. I don’t believe anyone is wrong about what they believe in. People that worship the Christian God and Jesus, people that worship Allah, people that worship whole pantheons, follow the teachings of Buddha, practice Wicca and follow the old gods, etc. What I believe is that everything, every person, animal, plant, river, breeze, EVERYTHING everything, all contains spirit. Collectively, this great spirit has the power to shape reality in the physical plane. I don’t know very much about the spiritual plane, but I don’t think it’s something far away or some other space like “Heaven.” People experience and relate to this great collective spirit in many different ways and have varying understandings of what it is and how it affects them. For me, I find myself very connected to the spirits in trees and rivers, lakes, oceans, spirits in rocks and crystals, and of course the spirit in myself. I’ll use tools like tarot and the divining pendulum to seek clarity from the collective spirit about my life.
I differ greatly from my dad and a lot of Christians because I don’t believe in a “life script” or “great plan.” I do think I’m here in the physical world to experience new things and grow and learn, and a lot of the things I’m to experience freaking suck, but I’m doing nothing if not learning a lot.
Now I had a damn buckwild night last night (Saturday). Sometime around midnight, I for real got a message on Grindr of all places that read something innocuous like “Hey, how’s it going?” No name listed or username or anything, but I see a tiny thumbnail of a photo so I’m “ahh, maybe this is a real person” and click to see the profile before I decide whether or not to respond, pretty usual for me. 29 years old, white, only two pictures, nothing written in the bio, bearded, looks stupid familiar. I get a sinking feeling in my heart because I know it’s E---- A-----, my rapist. The thing that really convinces me it’s him is his stupid little paunchy beer belly.
But I have to know for sure, because I do this kind of thing ALL THE TIME. Classic Avery has PTSD kind of content, I take little bits of information like that about whoever it is and convince myself it’s E----. It’s never actually him though you guys, always just some other rapist-looking white dude. So I say, “What’s your name? I think we’ve met before.” I added the second part because “What’s your name?” might come off as too aggressive and I HAVE TO KNOW.
New message rolls in, “E----? Haha” and then another, “I don’t remember meeting you.”
So now my breath is caught at the edge of my lips because this is literally the exact thing I used to lie awake being afraid of. I feel like I’m about to blow chunks. I don’t say “Oh really, you don’t remember me? That’s crazy, because actually you raped me nearly four years ago. Yeah, oh and everyone knows about it because I wrote and performed a memoir play about it. I used your mugshot for the poster image after you got arrested for raping some other poor soul. So you know, everyone who has seen that image knows who you are and what you did.” I did not say that. But I thought about it A LOT.
I didn’t say anything. I immediately rang Jessa even though she had been sleeping, I was not at home, and told her what happened. She reminded me that I don’t have my name or any personal information on Grindr, and that it would be impossible to find anything about me from my profile there. She tells me to go ahead and delete the app from my phone, and I bloke E---- first for good measure.
“I don’t remember meeting you” he says. Which means he’s literally just on Grindr looking for tranny ass, because he isn’t queer, and thought I was hot and messaged me. He doesn’t know who I am. It’s possible he just doesn’t recognize me, it has been four years, and I do look different. Of course too, Grindr doesn’t have my name on it, just my username, and I even have a different name now. I was not Avery when E----- raped me. It seems more likely to me though that what happened between us, him raping me, is so mundane and boring in the world of him, that he has forgotten me.
I know that two years ago he was arrested for sexual misconduct after he assaulted someone else. I also know that two or three years before I had the misfortune to meet him, he was convicted of rape and became a registered sex offender in the state of Oregon. The woman in question filed a restraining order against him as well.
Course he neglected to mention that little bit of trivia to me at the time.
All this to say, raping people is just par for the course with him. So there’s nothing memorable about what happened to me in his mind.
I kind of knew this even before he tried to hit on me after straight up forgetting who I was, that he never thought about me or felt bad. For a long time I was very angry about that. I was angry that he was free to continue living a life, even with arrests and yadda yadda, while I was stuck with PTSD and years of therapy. I’m not really angry about that anymore though. He’s just entitled. He’s an entitled child who doesn’t think of other human beings as people. He feels that he’s entitled to the bodies of others, especially women and AFAB nonbinary folks. When he doesn’t get what he wants, he reacts like a child, violently and without care.
If my spirit was writing out a life script to come down and live, it would be some seriously masochistic stuff to write that this happens.
The day after he raped me, I was still processing what had happened and didn’t have the words to know what to call it. What I did know is that he had been touching me that morning before he left in ways I didn’t like. As if he owned me and could touch me however and wherever he felt. This was the only piece of the puzzle I understood at that time, and I used it in my response to him. I contacted him to end things between us, because you guys we had been kinda dating for a couple months before this, but over distance because he lived in Eugene. I told him that he was touching me inappropriately and advised that he work to learn how to be a decent human being and respect people’s boundaries. He said he would do better next time. I said there wasn’t going to be a next time and that if he ever contacted me again I would start building up a case to file for a restraining order. He was angry, childish, because I “wasn’t giving him a chance.” I told him I didn’t owe him anything and promptly blocked his number. To my knowledge he has not attempted to reach out to me since then, until last night of course.
I don’t think anyone wrote a script or a play-by-play of last night. I am looking to see what I can learn from it, and using it as an opportunity to reflect on the progress I’ve made especially over the last two years in my therapy and trauma treatment.
I do not feel afraid.
I do not worry that he still holds power over me.
I do not feel responsible for the way he is, and for not filing a police report.
I feel surprised, maybe a little emotionally drained, but overall fine.
Last night my rapist got in contact with me, and I’m actually doing pretty okay.
Mabon is coming up, the thanksgiving celebration for the second harvest, the autumnal equinox. I have never been able to properly celebrate the equinox before but this year my family and I are making plans too. I have a desire to move away from “Thanksgiving” since it’s history is phony, imperialist, and racist. However, I want to be able to celebrate the harvest and cook the foods that my mother and her mother and her mother always cooked for me. I think Mabon is the perfect opportunity for this, to celebrate the things that I’ve reaped this year.
Yes, it’s been easily the most disaster filled year of my life so far, but I’ve also grown a tremendous amount. It’s time to celebrate in the bountiful harvest of my emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
Next time I want to dive into creating my own magick and spells. Thanks for letting me go off about this today.
CW: Discussion of rape, filicide, matricide
My plans for writing a blog today went totally off the rails, so I'm now writing this on my phone in bed at 1 in the morning. I hope you will all forgive me for my late posting. I have a lot of things circling my mind tonight but I'll start with one that will be the most relevant to what I originally envisioned this blog to be. I have had something of a breakthrough in regards to my Greek adaptation play.
Over the past couple weeks I have been reading (well, rereading in most cases) both classical Greek plays and modern adaptations. Originally going into this project, as early as two years ago, I thought I wanted to adapt the story of Phaedra, or Hippolytus if you're familiar with that telling. I think this was mostly because I was so awed by the raw storytelling I found in Sarah Kane's Phaedra's Love that I thought to myself "that! That is what I want to be doing!" I still think Kane's play is earth shattering in a lot of ways, check out an original review here, but over the last week especially I've been thinking about what I want to do with my adaptation.
I'm somewhat of the opinion that adaptation for adaptation's sake is just fanfiction, and while there's nothing wrong with that, I know it isn't what interests me right now. I kept thinking back to Portland Shakespeare Project's version of Pericles Wet by our own Ellen Margolis. And while I don't want to butter Ellen up too much, because I've definitely been guilty of that in the past, that play has stuck in my mind for almost three years now. In her adaptation of Pericles, a kind of nothing play by Shakespeare (Maybe? Check it out here), she explores the women characters from the original play and asks what their relationship with each other would be like.
I knew I wanted a story that wasn't just about Greek men being manly and imposing their will on the world, and I wanted a story that was queer in a gentle and tender way instead of the oft reported "fight for dominance" who's-on-top-is-the-real-man bullshit that Greek men recorded centuries ago. A queer story about Greek women (and trans people if I'm lucky although these are hard to find since no one wrote them down.) I wanted a story that, like Margolis' Pericles Wet, dug deeper into characters who don't get to have much story in their original plays, and perhaps even exist as merely devices or stereotypes.
I kept finding myself drawn to the stories of Iphigenia and Clytemnestra. (If you're unfamiliar, the wiki here will catch you up) But I was nervous that I felt drawn to this story because I recently watched The Killing of a Sacred Deer, which is a loose adaptation of Iphigenia in Aulis. I didn't want to piggyback on anyone, like I had almost done with Kane's Phaedra's Love. So I took some time, again very late at night, and spent a lot of time brainstorming what interested me about the women in Agamemnon. Surprisingly what I found most interested me was the representation of Clytemnestra's relationship with Cassandra, the kidnapped princess of Troy that Agamemnon makes his sex slave. In all the versions of this story I could find Clytemnestra was jealous and hateful of Cassandra and this led to her (or her boyfriend) killing Cassandra as well as Agamemnon. That just didn't set well in my tummy you guys. Supposedly, Agamemnon leaves for the Trojan war after sacrificing Iphigenia, his and Clytemnestra's oldest daughter, he's at war for 10 years, kidnaps the very young princess and r*pes her, and then brings her home as his sex slave. Clytemnestra knows that she wants to kill her husband for sacrificing their daughter, and she knows that he's bad news for the kids and so she sends her other daughters away. Electra and Chrysothemis are literally not around when she kills him. But her plans are upended when he brings home his child sex slave that's born him twins. Clytemnestra has to be in at least her 40s by this time and Cassandra is the SAME AGE AS HER DAUGHTER WAS when she was killed.
I don't want to give away too much more of the story I have figured out so far, but my mentor Charlene should be very proud of me that I have a full outline for literally the first time ever.
In a little bit of personal news, I may be having my top surgery as soon as November and I am having a whirlwind of emotions about this. I want to start doing some research in post-op depression and finding out what kinds of rituals I can set around my home to help me with that. We're having Shabbat dinners at my house now, and we are doing weekly Tarot to help keep us centered with ourselves, and it feels amazing.
See you all next week!
I know I’m a day behind in my weekly posting, and it’s only the second week so that’s pretty embarrassing. However, if you guys had known me when I was writing fanfiction back in the day, you’d know that sometimes deadlines mean nothing to me. This is a little different from my Fruits Basket fanfic that I never went back to, because I’m primarily writing it to discover what I’m learning, to help me put things into words. It’s like a public diary because I literally will not write just for myself. I need you all to help keep me accountable. I’ve read two of my new books that I ordered for myself last week, both of them were titled Queer Magic, which is a little on the nose. The first one was Queer Magic: Power Beyond Binaries, an anthology of sorts edited by Lee Harrington and Tai Fenix Kulyston. Check it out here. These were very powerful pieces of writing and art that pushed back against the assumed norm in pagan and wiccan circles. They spoke to cultivating a culture of inclusivity in covens and circles, and detailed many ways to do so.
I learned about queer black tantra and the ways that BIPOC queer pagans were navigating the waters and carving out their own spaces. I also learned a great deal about the ableism that is prevalent in pagan spaces, and ways that disabled folx are fighting back against that.
Something really powerful happened to me while I was reading this book, I felt very strongly that I was not the first person to question the status quo of wicca and other pagan traditions. Last week I was feeling vulnerable and alone and scared and I found myself wondering if paganism in a grand sense would ever be right for me. It was shockingly similar to the way I felt when I left Christianity in 2012, wondering if I’ll ever be able to mold myself to something that could fit into a religion. The works that Lee and Tai included in their book (Seriously you guys, read it) gave me a strong sense that powerful and loud voices were on this journey with me, even though I am mostly a solitary practitioner of magick.
It was the same feeling I had when I was at the BLM protest downtown, that I am one of many, and that the many is full of love, strength, and power.
Reading Tomás Prower’s Queer Magic: Lgbt+ Spirituality and Culture from Around the World felt akin to reading a thesis essay about queer mythos from old religions. Check it out here. I did find this very interesting, especially because I learned new myths from traditions close to my heart. Learning about the queerness of existing mythos did help me to feel solid in my desire to question the heteronormativity and cisnormativity (what’s the word for this thing but about the assumption that everyone is endosex?) that I’ve seen in wicca and pagan circles.
Why are people so eager to cling to this tired idea of “Lord and Lady” when there are a myriad of queer stories staring you in the face?
Something I find myself coming back to is that even if “Lord and Lady” is the one true way to create life (It’s not, but just go with me here) why must we confine the spiritual and divine to those biological (again, this is wrong, but just play pretend with me) truths? Who cares what biology says, the spiritual plane is different and anyone can be anything.
In beginning to think about my own practice and what it will look like, I find myself drawing away from forming attachments with deities that are traditionally represented as endosex and cisgender. I love Diana, but maybe she’s not right for me. I have a feeling it’s going to be time to do an awful lot of soul searching and research to figure out the representations of the great spirit that feel right to me.
I’ve also been very lucky to help along Jess, my platonic partner, with her own spiritual journey. I won’t say too much about this since it’s her personal information, but even though we are on different paths and following different traditions, I feel very lucky to be at her side.
In the coming week I’m going to be diving into more reading of adaptations. I’m going to be reading Kane’s Phaedra’s Love again and comparing it to earlier versions of the story. I’m also going to be diving into Chi-raq and rereading Lysistrata.
See you all next week,
Hi, hello, welcome, I ordered four books for myself today. I have never kept a weekly blog before, but I am going to be trying my hardest to do that here, why - I’m not sure, but it feels like a thing that I want to do so I’m going to do it. Anyways I ordered four books for myself today, and now that I’m not actually in school, ordering books feels like a guilty pleasure. Typing in my credit card info in the dark of my bedroom at 2:00 in the morning as if I’m ordering shitty pornos or something. This might just be me but I often feel as though I need to remind myself that learning I do outside of a formal environment is valid and important. This is probably the result of me being out of college for the first time in seven years, and the first time I’ve been out of school since toddler-hood.
Today I was able to remind myself that the pursuit of knowledge does not need to be prescribed by a professor or dictated by a curriculum, and it does not need to “serve a purpose” other than teaching me something I’m interested in. What an interesting concept our USA public education system has taught me - that learning is only valuable if it can be commodified. Yuck.
Three of the books I bought today were about queer practices of paganism. I’m finding that right now, in the middle of a global pandemic and civil rights movement, in the midst of police violence the likes of which I have never seen, is the time to work towards finding my own religious path.
Part of me thinks this might be very selfish, but another part of me knows that our world is on the edge of oblivion, especially here in the states, and taking care of ourselves is essential to being able to contribute to the cause. I was able to attend a protest downtown this week, and I may write more about that in the weeks to come, but overall I witnessed nothing but compassion, love, and unity by the protestors. Due to my own mental health, I didn’t stay long at the protest, and I heard from others in attendance that about an hour after I left, police and federal agents began to shoot tear gas and rubber bullets at the protesters who had remained, as always, peaceful.
So tonight I ordered four books for myself.
I came across an Op-Ed about the glorification of heterosexuality in traditional Wicca (specifically in Gardnerian and similar paths) which made a case that while Wicca does seek to glorify and worship the relationship between Lord and Lady, that this is just reminiscent of biology, and that gay people should just accept that heterosexuality is the only way to create new life.
Just wrong. Just not correct. And it made me eager to read how other queer, and especially TGNC, people were dealing with this issue. It’s something I myself hope to study more in the coming weeks.
The last book I ordered was a copy of the collected works of late English playwright Sarah Kane. Those who know me, and especially those who have read my work, will know she is and has been an incredible influence on my writing since my professor Ellen Margolis introduced me to her in 2017.
But my good friend has still not returned my copy of Kane’s plays so it’s time for me to get a new copy. Especially as I dive into my next full length project which I imagine to be an adaptation of an ancient Greek story/play. I want her “Phaedra’s Love” at my fingertips as I continue to read and research the ways in which other artists are adapting Greek stories.
The stories of old times, the stories of old gods, have a lot to teach us. This is something I find myself exploring not only in my personal life as a religious and spiritual being, but also as an artist, a playwright, and a scholar.
I’ll be scheduling a meeting with my former professor Ellen, mentioned above, to pick her brain about adaptation soon. I’ve also reached out to my former mentor Charlene for her ideas about adaptation, and received from her a long list of articles and examples which I’m very excited about.
This next week will see me collecting my examples and materials for the road ahead.
Can’t even begin to think about what story I want to adapt yet.
You’ll hear from me again next week.