The Deathgate Cycle was a touchstone for me as well when I read it as a teenager. I never have gotten tattoos, though at the time the books inspired me towards them -though I won't rule them out either. One thing I've noticed this year is how important it is to cultivate the bodies strength in terms of magic, because the deeper you go into magic, the more it changes your body. Adjustments in diet, sleep, and even taking certain herbs might be necessary to help balance the energies.
I read an interesting post by Chirotus Infinitum that was a response to my recent post about body enhancement via magic. He made reference to the Deathgate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, and much like him I have found that particular series of books to be foundational both in my body modification work and in other magical work I’ve done. In fact, it’s fair to say that reading that series inspired at least some of my thoughts on how I might modify my body with magic as well as how to use those modifications to enhance my magical work.
Something I didn’t mention in my previous post was how I’ve used my tattoos in my body enhancement work. While one of the purposes of my tattoos is devotional, used as an offering to the various elements I’ve worked with, another purpose is also to enhance my channeling of that elemental energy. The act of getting the tattoo allows me to fully embed the energy into my essence. Each tattoo represents a different energy (or energies) that I can access. For example the the hourglass – web tattoo is connected to the elemental energies of space and time, while my blue dragon is connected to the elemental energies of water. The current tattoo I’m getting, another dragon, is being used to connect with the elemental energies of fire and movement. I have plans to get more tattoos down the line, but undoubtedly some of that will also be influenced by what I work with and how I want to dedicate myself to that energy.
There’s not a lot of work written about working with the body. My book Inner Alchemy discusses some of my work and I am continuing in some of those directions, but I think that the body is an untapped resource, especially in Western Culture. Eastern cultures emphasize a connection and cultivation of the body’s resources that simply isn’t found in Western culture because of the spiritual disconnect from the body that both Christianity and Western Science are responsible for. That spiritual disconnect has fostered perspectives about the body that are unhealthy and don’t fully enable people to feel empowered to embrace or work with their bodies. Sadly Western occultism continues to foster similar perspectives. For example, Robert Anton Wilson refers to the body as a robot and seems intent on trying to escape it (not surprising given his encounter with Polio).
I was fortunate to avoid a lot of such limiting beliefs in regards to my body because I wasn’t raised in overly religious household and had a natural curiosity about my body that I chose to explore so I could better understand it. I grew up sleeping naked in bed instead of having pajamas on (and I can’t understand why anyone would want to wear pajamas) and I have always loved my body and appreciated its curves and the various sensations I can feel. I’ve also had my own experiences of body hate, such as when I was anorexic, but overall I was fortunate to embrace my body in a way that I observe many people don’t. I honestly feel that one of the reasons people are so dysfunctional about sex comes right to the fact that Western culture overall has such a dysfunctional relationship with the body.
There is a lot to be explored in terms of enhancing the body with magic, but also in really understanding the body as a universe of its own, with hidden wonders to experience and explore if we are willing to set aside our all too limited perspectives and cultural biases about the body. This work can only occur if more people are willing to explore the body as a universe and allow themselves to be open to whatever experiences are encountered. Certainly I will keep writing about my own work because I realize more than ever how important it is to continue cultivating perspectives and experiences that run counter to the dysfunctional values that mainstream culture embodies.