Temet Nosce

Piecing together the puzzle of mythology and the human condition

Never Forget: 24 Priorities and Principles on a Day of Remembrance

Posted on September 11th, 2015 by Thomas Ryan

9/11 Memorial

9/11 Memorial

I have written the following 24 declarations, neither as a citizen of any particular country nor a believer in any particular faith, but simply as a human being.

Here’s what I’m doing my best to never forget, today and every day:

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The End of the Family Line

Posted on June 21st, 2015 by Thomas Ryan

I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings about Fathers Day. It’s hard to say I’m thankful for my father. When I was a kid, the most positive male role model I had was a fictional character in ridiculous blue tights and a red cape.

As I wrote once before, my brother and I didn’t need a bogeyman to fear, because the most terrible monster we knew sat with us at the dinner table. But now I know he took much worse abuse from his parents, so these days I pity him more than I resent him. He had a poor example to follow, and I think…I hope…that deep down he was doing the best he could to raise us right.
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I Went To Your Funeral Today: An Extrospection on Suicide (and a True Story)

Posted on June 9th, 2015 by Emmu Matson

I went to your funeral today. Everyone was there. Your mother, your sister, your brother. Your cousins, and aunts and uncles. Your nieces and nephews, running around in their brightly colored clothing, looking out of place among the black and dim hues, playing on their game systems and making round trips to the refreshment tables.

I don’t know you. I’ve never met you. I came with a friend. He needed support; wanted someone to be there with him. I don’t know you. I don’t know your family.

A tired woman greets us. She has been wiping away a lot of tears. It’s your mom. “Thank you for coming, how did you know him? Were you close? Had you spoken with him recently?” She asks. I notice her ask this of multiple people. She doesn’t understand. She doesn’t understand why you did it. She’s looking for a reason, an explanation… She needs to make sense of her loss. She didn’t know you had felt suicidal. No one did.

I went to your funeral today, but not to mourn. I am merely an observer. And yet, I can’t help but mourn the loss that all these people suffered. To see how much they miss you. To see them tell stories of you, and laugh, and their eyes light up with the memory. And then suddenly there’s silence, as everyone turns inward to their own weighted thoughts.

There are a lot of silences. Every story, every anecdote, every conversation is peppered with them. It’s not the awkward silence of a party, not the empty, yawning silence begging to be filled by an interesting conversation. It is not a silence that anyone is eager to break. It’s a heavy, bloated, crushing silence that hangs over everyone. It’s not a silence that falls between voices, it’s a liquid lead that pours down through the cracks in our thoughts. The silence is the place where you used to be. The joke you would have made, the thing you would have referenced, the laugh you would have given. But you’re not there, and in that silence, everyone is alone with their grief.

I have never really been to a funeral. I always thought, “funerals are for the living.” And they are. You were hurting, and you ended that hurt. Now everyone else must cope with their own pain. They are not there to help you, because you are beyond help. They are not there to bring you back from the edge, because you aren’t there anymore. All they have now, is each other. And the endless, endless “what ifs.”

What if I had been there more. What if I had asked the right questions. What if I had supported him more. What if I had been there that night. Could I have stopped him? Could I have helped him? What did I do wrong, because you are not here and my job on this earth was to love and support you and I must have missed something, a cue, an opportunity, somewhere.

No one says these things out loud. And yet, I hear them. The guilt, the blame. People say that suicide is a selfish death, but that doesn’t begin to describe the depth of that feeling. I am sure that you did not think of all these people when you took your life. They were worlds away from your mind when you decided you were in so much pain that there was only one way out. I’m sure you did not think of these dozens of people, all of whose lives you touched, who are crying right now. You were not in a good place. But now, you never can be. And every single one of them feels like it was their fault. That they failed you.

I am not mad at you. I don’t think you wanted to hurt anyone, ever. I think you would be mortified to see your mother and your siblings sitting there, in the front row, grieving over your lifeless body and trying to make sense of it. This isn’t what you wanted.

I was there once. I was in that dark place. And I took every pill in my cabinet. Because I was afraid, because I was in pain, because I wanted it to stop. Because I couldn’t imagine existing any longer. And my mind was clear; I didn’t think about those that would miss me, or maybe I thought they wouldn’t miss me at all. Maybe I thought I was worthless, that they were better off without me.

And when I woke up in the hospital, and I saw my family, I knew the truth. I saw the faces of those that almost lost something they love as much as life itself. And I knew I would never try again.

I wish you could have had that opportunity. I wish you could have woken up in a hospital, surrounded by your loved ones. I wish you could have seen their relief, their love, their fear of losing you. I wish you could have had that second chance, to decide that suicide was not the way to go.

I went to your funeral today. I don’t know you. I’ve never met you. But I mourned for you. I cried for you. And I listened to your friends and family talk about you, telling me about your life and your passions and all the things that made you great. And by the end of the service, I felt like I, too, had lost a friend. I never got to meet you, but I have come to know the hole that you left behind.

I hope that others don’t make that same choice.

Furiosa’s Road: Mad Max as Feminist Ally

Posted on May 19th, 2015 by Thomas Ryan

Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa

Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa

“I cannot make liberty my aim unless I make that of others equally my aim.” — Jean-Paul Sartre

WARNING: This article contains plot spoilers and possibly PTSD triggers. Please proceed with caution.

I was already excited to see George Miller’s return to the post-apocalyptic wasteland of Mad Max after a 30 year hiatus, but when I read that so-called “men’s rights activists” were getting their tighty whities in a bunch over the feminist subtext in Mad Max: Fury Road, I was positively chomping at the bit. Now that I’ve seen it, I have to say the subtext is more like…you know…text. And I couldn’t be happier about that.

Don’t get me wrong, Fury Road is still one hell of an action movie. It assaults the senses with a spectacle of gorgeously photographed destruction, infused with enough high octane energy to make me feel like I had gulped down a dozen pots of coffee long after the lights came back up. ‘Splosions! Pile-ups! Testosterone! Oh my! But woven into Miller’s fiery masterpiece is a feminist narrative told with such a brilliant economy of storytelling that it’s clear there’s a meaning behind this spectacle and its consequences.
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In Memory of Leonard Nimoy

Posted on February 27th, 2015 by Thomas Ryan

Spock's funeral in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

“Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most…human.”

Today, the world lost one of its best humans. Over the course of nearly 50 years as Spock on television and film, Leonard Nimoy had more to say about humanity while playing an alien, and said it with more profundity and relevance, than many actors have done playing human characters. And it should be noted that Nimoy did as much to develop his character as any writer or director. With every performance, he seemed to add more and more layers to Spock’s enigma.
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The Sleeper Must Awaken

Posted on August 29th, 2014 by Shauna Aura Knight


Science fiction and fantasy books and movies often delve into the fantastic, the unreal, the magical, the impossible…and yet so often they reflect a deeper truths. Sometimes, what looks like magic is actually just incredibly advanced technology.

I’m an admitted nerd for the old 1980’s David Lynch movie Dune. However, I never read the book until I had already been leading rituals and teaching classes in the modern Pagan community. Then I realized something: A fair number of the trance techniques that I use are right out of the Bene Gesserit handbook.

The Bene Gesserit, if you’re unfamiliar with Dune, are an order of sisters in the far distant future of humankind. They are committed to intense learning and control, and they manipulate bloodlines and politics using techniques such as trance states or altered states of consciousness. They also focus on language, speech, body language, context, and psychology. They were colloquially known as “witches” because of how supernatural their powers seemed, but their powers were, at the core, rooted in science and discipline.

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My Long Alchemical Engagement: Part 2: This Looks Like a Job For…Someone Else!

Posted on May 15th, 2014 by Thomas Ryan

Superman #201

Superman #201

“Whether ’tis Nobler in the minde to suffer
The Slings and Arrowes of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Armes against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them?” — Hamlet, Act III, Scene 1

Growing up the middle child in a dysfunctional family gave me two intense compulsions to carry on into adulthood: 1) to always try to fix things rather than give up, and 2) to help people, particularly and especially the underdogs—people who are unable to help or defend themselves for one reason or another.

For better or worse, society tends to encourage these impulses by ascribing them to the archetype of the hero. Tribes and civilizations worldwide have romanticized the mythic hero archetype, often elevating the heroic character’s status to that of a god.

In one example, the Christian Bible insists that each man should “bear his own cross,”1 but also warns that “all fall short of the glory of God.”2 How can it be both? Doesn’t it seem a little unfair to expect a mere mortal to do alone what even the Son of God could not? Are these reasonable expectations, or a setup for failure?

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How Pop Culture Spreads Magic by Taylor Ellwood

Posted on May 14th, 2014 by Thomas Ryan

Taylor Ellwood is a student of various occult philosophies and practices, and is an exploratory developer and practitioner of his own system of ritual magic. He is the author of Pop Culture Magick and the managing non-fiction editor of Megalithica Books, an imprint of Immanion Press.

Recently, Taylor published an article on the growing phenomenon of communicating real esoteric concepts through fictional storytelling. Here is a brief excerpt:

“Pop culture is a viable medium for sharing esoteric concepts and secrets with people who aren’t necessarily practicing magic at this time. That such information is becoming increasingly prevalent speaks to the fact that it fulfills a need for our society at large that likely can’t be met through mainstream religious practices, which are less about empowering individuals and more about presenting a top down approach to spirituality that expects people to lessen themselves for the deity they worship.”

You can read the full article on Taylor’s blog, Magical Experiments. I highly recommend checking out his site.

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Your Hate Has Made You Powerful

Posted on April 29th, 2014 by Shauna Aura Knight

download (1)There’s a quote from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi that has nagged at me for years. In my 20’s, it was an inspiring quote that brought a lot of energy to me when the chips were down and I was fighting the good fight.

After I did a lot of feminist leadership training, I reversed my opinion on the line: “Your hate has made you powerful.”

Here’s what has itched at me.  Hate is “bad,” right? So why is it some of my greatest creative bursts come when I’ve been enraged enough to see red? I have painted large murals in mere hours when fueled by my wrath…I have felt that hot, dark pulse of creative inspiration in a moment of anger.

But if I am feeling hate, then I’m not a spiritually-developed, balanced person, right?

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Myth and Meaning in Aronofsky’s Noah

Posted on April 23rd, 2014 by Thomas Ryan

Noah movie poster

“Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, ‘Understandest thou what thou readest?’” — Acts 8:30 (KJV)

Darren Aronofsky’s latest film, Noah, an adaptation of the Judeo-Christian global flood myth, has garnered both admiration and condemnation from critics and audiences around the world. The film’s reception from the Christian right blazes with all the same fire and brimstone of righteous indignation that had been stoked by Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ back in 1988. Some reviews are flavored with the sour taste of blatant anti-Semitism, and sneer with prejudice at the writer-director’s Jewish roots. His personal interpretation and elucidation on the flood story rankles so-called experts of scripture who believe with a blinding passion that there can be only one text on which to base the story and only one correct interpretation thereof.

In my opinion, Noah is a beautiful and moving work of art, and with it Aronofsky has shown a scholarly understanding of the purpose of myth to convey meaning rather than fact. Noah exhibits a blatant defiance against the irrational notion of mythological interpretive absolutism. It does so on the macro level with its scholastically eclectic overall story, as well as on the micro level in its depiction of conflicting motivations between its characters. Everyone in the film has their own unique belief about what the will of the Creator is. None of their opinions are wholly correct, nor are they necessarily incorrect. Such as it is when different people experience the ineffable and indescribable Divine from their own unique perspective, and such are the religious conflicts that continue to rage outside the cineplex, in the real world, among real people.

This is why I am writing this dissection of Aronofsky’s film based on its own merits rather than my own opinions about religion, because arguing over religion makes about as much sense as arguing over poetry. In my opinion, anyone who would presume to take away your freedom to think for yourself should be viewed with extreme suspicion, even if that person is your local ordained holy man.

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