Deleted Interlude #9 MegaPhysics

This Deleted interlude from Charming speculates on magic, the structure of the universe, and the nature of God.

Interlude: The Final Insert

What I’ve been leading up to is that all magic is based on one principle: everything is connected – thought, time, and space. And our minds aren’t just connected to our physical environment…all of our minds are connected to each other in ways that we instinctively deny because we are terrified of losing our individuality. Have you ever heard of that ninety percent of the brain that we never use? There are pathways that our minds are capable of travelling that go unused, connections that rarely get activated, numbers that never get dialed. Some types of magic, like the Pax Arcana or sigils, plug into this untapped mental unity and harness the electrical impulses of mass minds to shift reality even when the individual conscious minds of those involved have no idea what’s going on.

Symbolism is key in this process of uniting minds because symbolism is a shortcut that relies on generalization. All symbols condense complicated truths into visual or verbal representations that have strong emotional charges. We call symbols that do this consciously art. We call symbols that do this unconsciously archetypes. Symbolism is like mental spackling or spot welding, making instant connections between perception and reality that might not hold together under doubtful scrutiny but get the job done in the moment. It goes straight to a part of the brain that we don’t consciously access.

I personally believe that the reason everything is all connected…thought, time, and space…is because before our reality was our reality, everything…all of us… existed as a thought in the imagination of one being. For lack of a better word, we call that being God.

These are not new concepts. Jung called the place where all minds are united the collective unconscious. Buddhists believe that physical reality is a shared dream created and maintained by our minds, and Nirvana is where the God mind frees itself from the shackles of illusion and all physical reality melts and souls reunite into one shared consciousness. Medieval Christians believed that a cavern angel put a finger on the lips of all newborn babes and told them not to tell anyone where they had just come from, and that this is why lips have clefts and why souls can’t remember being joined in heaven. At least some pagans believe that every living soul is a part of God, that we are the vehicles though which God experiences the world. Plato believed that our reality is a series of reflections and shadows corresponding to perfect truths that we sense but cannot consciously recall.

Maybe God is a mental breakdown, and we are all aspects of a divine multiple personality disorder, paranoid and haunted as we try to make sense out of our fragmented existence and pull ourselves back together, never feeling complete or finished. Or maybe all souls going through so much – experiencing so many emotions and discoveries and temptations from billions of different perspectives across time – is a healthy form of self expression for an all knowing sum that is much greater than its individual parts. Maybe physical reality is a collection of tiny particles constantly changing and merging and re-emerging because like all works of art, it is a reflection of the soul of the creator who made it. Or maybe God made us because there was nothing good on cable.

I personally believe in a loving God whose ways are mysterious and often seem cruel, but I don’t claim divine knowledge. Whether one believes God is malign, benign, insane, incompetent, non-existent, indifferent, or nurturing is ultimately a choice that each person has to make for him or herself. Maybe if we ever believe together, we’ll know for sure.

In any case, beings who understand these principles on a far deeper level than I do are able to play around with our atoms and our minds because they understand that they are the same thing. This is why some beings are able to shape the way we perceive reality, and thereby shape the reality we perceive. Maybe they’re just being prudent because mankind is not emotionally mature enough to peacefully coexist with anyone, even ourselves. Or maybe we’re in a metaphysical knife fight, and the other side is packing guns.

I never claimed to have all the answers

Deleted Interlude #8: It’s the Thought That Counts

This deleted interlude from Charming speculates on how some discoveries in physics sheds some light on magic.

The Interlude Goes to Hawaii

I don’t mess with magic. I don’t ever want to mess with magic. As far as I’m concerned, magic is a bucket full of unstable explosives covered with rusty nails that have been smeared with feces. And the bucket is sitting on a rotting plank suspended over a bottomless pit.

I’m not saying that all magic is evil. I am saying that magic messes around with primal forces that are better left unmessed. I don’t do drugs because I am deeply suspicious of anything that alters my brain chemistry – how I think and what I feel is the basis of who I am. I don’t mess with magic because it plays with forces that are connected to my soul, and that’s above my pay grade. I choose to believe that there is a God who knows what he or she or we or it or they is doing and isn’t going to let anything bad happen to my soul as long as I honestly try to do the best I can with what I’ve got.

The only reason I’ve learned anything about magic at all is so that I’ll be better at stopping anyone who abuses it.

To that end, this is what I’ve pieced together:

All physical reality is made up of three things: thought, sound, and light. Scientists have proven that at a base level all physical matter is made up of varying wave lengths of sound and light. As to thought, quantum physicists have proven that the very act of observing molecules changes the way they interact. What scientists haven’t proven is why.

Consider this: in the first chapter of Genesis, God says that there is light, then there is light, and God sees that it is good. First God imagines light, which is thought. Then God says that there is light, which is sound. Then God sees that there is light, which is light. Thought, sound, light. The basis of the time space continuum, all three reinforcing each other.

Think about it. Sound is the medium through which thought perceives time. When we speak, it is in a series of syllables proceeding one after another in chronological order. Light is the medium through which thought perceives space. The mind experiences physical reality through time and space, but the mind is not bound by them. Have you ever been in a car and suddenly known exactly what song is going to come on next? Have you ever had a feeling about someone who was close to you emotionally but far away from you physically, and when you contacted that person you discovered that your feeling was accurate? Have you ever literally felt someone staring at you? If you answered no to any of those questions, try this simple experiment. Close your eyes. Now hold your hand in front of your head and picture it there, in front of your closed eyes. You just made a picture inside your head that’s bigger than the inside of your head. How is that possible?

If that’s too much to process, think of it this way. Things look solid, but all matter is actually a moving current of ever flowing atoms and electrons. Seven years from now, every cell in your body will have been replaced by new ones. Reality is a liquid, not a solid. The only thing binding all of those atoms and molecules in a specific pattern is electromagnetic energy. Shift enough electrons around and you begin to change one element to another.

Our thoughts are basically electrical impulses. Maybe that’s why observing something affects the way its molecules interact. When you cut right down to the atomic structure, our thoughts are made of the same energy that binds the molecules that define and order our physical reality. If you really want to get trippy, that’s just one short step away from theorizing that our thoughts actually ARE what’s binding the molecules of our physical reality together.

That’s just one short step away from magic.

Deleted Interlude #7 The Rite Stuff

This deleted interlude from Charming dealt with why some traditional forms of vampire slaying actually work. I moved some of the info around to other chapters.

A Chapter Called Interlude

If you’re starting to get a better understanding of the Pax Arcana, here’s one more piece of the puzzle. A big piece. All magic functions on a highly symbolic level.

Let me give you some practical examples of how this works in my world. I mentioned previously that a lot of vampires have a phobia about showers and baths. This is because immersing a vampire completely in running water will destroy it, and vampires won’t cross rivers or oceans without a very big bridge or a very big boat with lots of life rafts. Most people have forgotten this little nugget of vampire lore, but it’s true. And just to be clear, the immersion or submersion into water has to be complete, making contact with the vampire’s body at every point from every side, and the water has to be part of a moving current, but if those conditions are met, the water will wash the vampire’s flesh and bones away as surely as sunlight will wither it.

The reason immersion has this effect is because water, like fire, is an ancient universal symbol. Water represents purity and life while moving water represents change, things to which vampires are the antithesis. Complete immersion in water is like floating in a womb, which is a powerful symbol of life. It is also like the Christian ceremony of baptism, a powerful symbol of re-birth. This matters because, unlike most magic, Necromancy (or death magic) works against nature, and it was necromancy which created the first vampires. Working against nature takes a lot of energy and is hard to maintain, and this is why potent life symbols can cause the unnatural magic binding vampires to this earth to unravel. This is also why vampires have to spend half their existence avoiding the sun, the most powerful life symbol there is.

Have you ever wondered why impaling a vampire with a stake will kill it but stabbing it with a knife will not? The planting of wood in a vampires’ heart is also highly symbolic. A tree is planted in soil so that it can branch into a network of roots, and the roots transport life giving liquid throughout its body. A heart also branches into a network of roots that transport life giving liquid throughout its body although we call these roots veins. Planting wood into a heart is a fusion of two very primal life symbols. Every time someone stakes a vampire, they are performing a crude but powerful magic ceremony.

Of course, the real question is, why does magic work on a symbolic level?

Deleted Interlude #5: Grim Faerie Tales

Here’s a deleted interlude from Charming about why the Fae created the Pax Arcana.

Son of Interlude

Here’s what I do know about the Fae. It’s not much.

The Fae are an ancient, ageless species capable of traveling to some realm other than our material world. They lived among us for a time, and they had vast powers, unknowable motives, and no interest in conquering us whatsoever. There was no point. We didn’t have anything they wanted. They were wealthier than we were, considered us unattractive, and thought our language and stories and music were little more than pig grunts. Our only value to them was as a distraction.

While the Fae may be old as a species, they have never existed in large numbers, at least not on this world. When you don’t age and have no natural predators, evolution demands that you have an insanely low birth rate, and as I understand it, it is rare for more than one pure blood Fae to be born every hundred years.
To put that in perspective, almost half a million humans are born every day.
Another side effect of never aging is purely psychological: the Fae have to deal with near crippling cases of boredom, depression, and isolation to the point of sociopathy. The French call it ennui, that sense of inertia and apathy that occurs among those who have experienced every material pleasure and shade of emotion.

To summarize: ageless but not immortal, cursed with a low birth rate, the Fae essentially have two driving concerns (1) to not be bored to the point of suicide, and (2) to avoid having pureblood Fae killed faster than they can reproduce…because those are the only real dangers that the Fae face as a species. In practical terms, that means having more than one Fae die every century is considered a crisis.

For most of their time on our world – at least a thousand years and probably longer –the Fae were essentially a small number of bored, jaded, wealthy tourists who regarded humans as a mildly amusing diversion. They could set themselves up as gods of the sun or thunder or oceans among the primitives or role play magicians or demons or heroes depending on their mood. They could hold wild parties that lasted centuries on mountains or among sea coasts or in deep woods. They could pursue artistic or academic pursuits in isolation or walk among humans in disguise.
Some of them lived among us and studied us. Some of them hunted us for sport. Some of them had sex with us just to flirt with perversion and see what it was like. Some of them taught us arts that were unknown to us just to see if we could learn- the way human zoologists train monkeys and dolphins Some of them started wars between us and bet on the outcome. Some of them hated us, some of them loved us, and some of them regarded us as pets. They had no master plan, no consistent motivation, and no divine purpose, or at least none that a human perspective can recognize.

And this went on for centuries.

What the Fae did not account for was that races made up of people with short life spans tend to grow and evolve far more rapidly than species made up of immortals who have no imperative to rush. The Fae believe that they have achieved the pinnacle of culture. They do not believe that their music can be improved, that their poetry can be equaled, that their current level of magical mastery can be surpassed. The Fae experiment with different forms, but these are mostly variations on a theme. True innovative discoveries that change the face of their arts or magics or political structures occur rarely, perhaps once every millennia although that’s just speculation on my part.

In any case, the Fae’s culture is magic based, and they have protections and procedures against almost all natural elements. The Fae can protect themselves against fire, for example, or weapons made of stone, or wood, or bronze or copper or flint or so on. But by the 12th century, humankind was coming up with new and unprecedented ways to kill Fae faster than the Fae could effectively counter. We were mixing natural elements and chemicals together into compounds, poisons, explosives, combustibles, and alloys that the Fae had never dealt with, and we were doing so faster than the Fae could develop spells and rituals to counter them. Again…the Fae do not react or adapt quickly. Before crossing paths with humanity they had never needed to.

By the fourteenth century, an intolerably high number of Fae (say five perhaps, or fifty) had actually been killed. So the Fae did what most tourists do when a vacation spot that they don’t really have any strong emotional connection to becomes dangerous – when sharks infest the waters for example, or rioting breaks out in the streets. They packed up their bags and left our world.

The Fae went back home to Fairyland …but they left us a present on their way out.

Why the Fae created the Pax Arcana is a subject of hot debate among those of us who are immune to its influence. Some say that the Fae felt a sense of responsibility for the various supernatural subcultures that had followed them into our world – the ogres, fox spirits, vodyani, and so forth. Others say that the Fae wanted to protect their experiments…the new magical species that they had created while playing around with human genes. Some even argue that the Fae who were biologically compatible enough to mate with humans – specifically the elves – had paternal impulses towards the half elf children they’d sired while mating with us primitives, even if their bastards’ bloodlines weren’t pure enough to take back to the courts of Faerie.

The most cynical and paranoid of us scoff at the idea of the Fae caring for anyone but the Fae, and suspect that the Pax is a form of revenge – there are conspiracy theorists among the knights who speculate that the Fae are coming back some day, and that they want the world to be repopulated with supernatural beings to fill their armies when they do so.

All I know is that there have been massive population explosions in both the world of magic and the world of science in the last seven centuries, and the two worlds are largely incompatible. Something, at some point, is going to have to give. Or take. Or start dying.

Deleted Interlude #4: Everything I Don’t Know About the Fae

This is a deleted interlude where John Charming talks about the Fae, the beings who cast the mass spell that is the Pax Arcana.

Revenge of the Interlude

Here’s everything I don’t know about the Fae. They may be an alliance of many different species, or they may be one species whose various tribes have evolved in different directions. Think how different humans look and sound from each other just from spending centuries in different lands. Would an alien looking at a Samoan and a pygmy think they were the same species?

Now imagine different tribes from the same species evolving in even more diverse environments – under mountains, in water, in forests, in deserts – for millions and millions of years. Some of them might evolve gills, some of them might be short and squat with dense muscles, some of them might have scaly skin and fangs, some of them might be thin and willowy and have toes that grip like hands, and so on. Some of them might grow smaller over the eons in order to use fewer resources, and some of them might grow larger in response to an environment that involved large predators and heavy labor.

So I’m not even going to try to make distinctions between elves and brownies and pixies and nixies and pooka and nymphs and sylphs and dryads and leprechauns and redcaps and silkies and spriggans and boggarts and so on. I’m not going to try to catalog all of the different names that the Fae have been called in different cultures at different times (okay, I’ll name a few by way of example: the Alfar, the Sidhe, the Tuatha de Danann, the Yosei, the Shining Folk, etc) or reconcile all the conflicting and confusing stories about their culture.

Some claim that the Fae are just another name for fallen angels, and some assert that they’re aliens. Some claim that the Fae are the Nephilim, or the bastard children of angel and human congress which may or may not be the same thing. Some have stated that the Fae are humans from the future who travelled back in time out of boredom eons after achieving immortality, and some argue that the Fae are from a parallel universe.

There are even those who believe that all of the different ancient species and races mentioned in various religions and histories and mythologies are all just different names, aspects, evolutionary branches, or illusionary guises for one elder species that likes to mess with our heads: the Fae.

I don’t know about any of that.

Deleted Interlude#3: History Rhymes With Mystery

Here’s another deleted interlude from my novel Charming. This one explains how the tide began to turn in favor of humankind while various species were struggling for dominance and/or survival in the 12th century.

Bride of the Interlude

The next step in truly making sense of the Pax Arcana is this: you have to understand that while it has been growing steadily more powerful since the 14th century, the cause behind the Pax Arcana’s effect goes back two hundred years earlier. Back in the 12th century, it was an entirely different ballgame. Everyone knew that the supernatural was real except for the insane and a few willful idiots who were the medieval equivalent of the flat-earth society. Read the literature of the day if you don’t believe me…not just the fiction, but the non-fiction…the letters and sermons and court cases and journals written by real people. The presence of ghosts and witches and vampires and fairies and werewolves was as taken for granted as an overworked housewife….and supernatural creatures were almost extinct because of it.

Basically, humanity has always had two big advantages over the supernatural. One is its ability to reproduce far more rapidly than most supernatural species. The other is humanity’s gift for adaptation and invention. Think of it in terms of cats and rats. Generally speaking, one cat will win against one rat. Now imagine one cat and two hundred rats. Now imagine the rats learning how to use fire and make projectile weapons. The only way cats could survive under those circumstances would be to go into hiding and hunt for their meat from the shadows.

In the twelfth century, nearly every continent had seen massive population explosions among humankind. There were a lot of reasons for this, but most of them were rooted in the invention of the stern mounted rudder, the magnetic compass, and the printing press. For the first time in human history, good ideas were able to travel the globe almost as effectively as racial intolerance, religious persecution, and political ambition. Roman plumbing, Greek medical practices, Arabic numeral systems, Asian advances in chemistry and engineering, all spread throughout the world and had diverse effects on various cultures. The first windmills began to appear shortly after the first medieval universities, along with the spinning wheel and rudimentary sanitation practices.

Humans being humans, our ability to kill effectively also increased exponentially, and this included our ability to combat the supernatural. The English longbow could send an arrow that was basically a feathered stake through a vampire’s chest at 160 meters. Flaming oil could burn a werewolf down to its bones faster than its flesh could regenerate. An Italian inventor named Silvano Armato developed a system of mirrors that could reflect and project raw sunlight into deep caves though all anyone remembers is that he invented the first practical eyeglasses. Gunpowder came along and could collapse those same caves in on themselves or blow a being’s head off – decapitation being the Royal Flush of monster fighting. And so on

Advances such as these, combined with the advent of the Inquisition and several Jihads and Asian and African dynastic wars (all of which ended in census taking and mass executions of any questionable elements) almost eradicated the supernatural from our planet entirely. The Inquisition, for example, might have been born from fanaticism, intolerance, hypocrisy, and hysteria, but you have to say this much, it did one hell of a job motivating people to systematically root out and destroy supernatural beings. Anyone with pointed ears under their hair, or webbed hands and feet, or odd looking eyes, or extremely sharp canines, or nocturnal roaming habits, was basically priest meat. To quote Jon Stewart, you were guilty until proven flammable.

What ultimately saved the supernatural world from the apocalypse known as Man
was the Pax Arcana, a last ditch effort crafted by those ancient, ageless, powerful races of beings who had been sharing the earth with mankind before the first word was ever written down. The spell came into effect in the 1300’s, but it’s not like people just stopped believing in magic overnight. No compulsion is strong enough to affect an entire species’ consciousness that dramatically that fast, which is why the Inquisitions kept going on for several more centuries. France had thousands of werewolf trials between the 1300s and 1500s, and witch trials were common for three hundred years after that. A lot of places still believe in magic even now. The Pax has grown steadily more powerful because it is subtle and insidious, not overwhelming, and this is why the places where people still believe in magic continue to become fewer and smaller and more marginalized every generation. The more people who already believe the supernatural doesn’t exist, the less energy the Pax has to expend. The less energy the Pax has to expend, the more people it can make believe that the supernatural doesn’t exist. If it weren’t for ever perpetual overpopulation in third world countries, the Pax would have covered the entire planet a long time ago.

As to who cast the Pax Arcana in the first place – let’s be clear here, I don’t know how many different sentient races there were or there are, and I don’t know if or how all the different ones relate to each other.
What I do know is that the architects of the Pax Arcana were the Fae.

Deleted Interlude #2: If Humanity is a Race, Who’s Winning?

This is another of the interludes that I deleted because my editor convinced me that I would have to cut down on the info to save me from myself. It deals with the Pax Arcana in the context of a Biblical/Historical context.

Return of the Interlude

Fair warning – I’m going to touch on matters which will involve briefly discussing parts of the Bible. If you have developed that entirely sensible habit of leaving the room the moment politics or religion are mentioned and just want to get on with this survival manual that I’ve thinly disguised as a story, by all means, feel free to skip this interlude. You won’t hurt my feelings. But if you’re curious as to where the spell I mentioned – the Pax Arcana – came from and why, I am going to try to break it down.

The first step you have to take in coming to terms with the Pax Arcana is accepting one simple fact: there are species that are older and more powerful than humankind. This is not a new idea. The oldest recorded documents tend to be religious in nature, and every single ancient culture on this planet believed that there were other races with abilities beyond our understanding. Sometimes these other races ruled us, sometimes they hid among us, and sometimes they lived apart. Sometimes these races are broadly referred to as gods, or false gods, or dragons, or spirits, or celestials, or demons, and sometimes they have more specific names like deva or naga or dragon or djinn, but this belief in other sentient species was universal.

Usually when I say that all ancient religions make references to beings who are older than mankind, the only arguments I get are from a certain type of American Christian who has some fuzzy idea from vacation Bible school that God made Adam first before all other creatures in order to rule them; therefore, man is the oldest and most powerful species in the world according to the Bible, the end, amen. But even if you’re not atheist or agnostic or a religion other than Christian, it’s not really that simple.

For one thing, the second chapter of Genesis does indeed say that Man was created before any other animal (I use rhw Ozford Annotated Bible, by the way). But in the first chapter of Genesis, the Bible also says that Man was created on the last day, after every other creature had already been made. So the idea that man is the oldest creature besides God is at the very least debatable. And if God made man first before all other creatures, where were the angels? Why was Satan already around to tempt Adam and Eve? That’s when people start hemming and hawing and making distinctions about “mortal” creatures and “immortal” creatures. But if you’re going to start quibbling, what constitutes “mortal”? Where would Fae and Djinn fall in all this?

With all of that in mind, consider Genesis 6:4, which refers to the Nephilim, a race which was different from mankind yet similar enough to mate with humans. “In those days, when the sons of gods had intercourse with the daughters of men and got children by them, the Nephilim were on earth” (this is from the New English Bible, the Oxford annotated version). It’s not entirely clear whether these Nephalim are the “sons of gods” mentioned or the children that these “sons of gods” got with mortal women, but the passage goes on to say that the offspring of these Nephilim were often heroes. Since the monstrous and mighty Goliath is later said to be one of these offspring, and God helps David kill him, I think we can safely assume that ”Hero” doesn’t mean “Good” so much as ”Powerful.“

Now among people who read the Bible closely, there has been a lot of scholarly argument about what these Nephilim are. Some experts think that since Goliath descended from them, the Nephilim are some of those giants the Bible occasionally mentions. Other scholars refer to passages about angels feeling lust for mortals from the Book of Enoch in the Apocrypha and believe that the Nephilim are the product of fallen angels mating with humans. In fact, some people I know believe that all monsters are the result of fallen angels mating with humans.
Rationalist scholars argue that the Nephilim are descended from Cain – they translate “gods” into “God” with a capital G and say that the Nephilim are Hebrew, but they are referred to as different than human because Cain was exiled from humanity. Of course, this doesn’t explain who Cain mated with in the first place or why these Nephilim were more powerful than ordinary men. Whoever translated the epic saga of Beowulf into English believed that the Land of Nod, east of Eden, was a land of monsters and that Cain mated with them.

In any case, some of these scholars argue from a passionate conviction that every passage in the Bible is literally true, and some from a belief that before they learned how to write from the Babylonians, the ancient Hebrews used teaching stories to symbolically condense the wisdom of their vast and complex history. I, personally, am content to note the following: according to the Bible, something powerful lived alongside humans, maybe even passed for human, but was not human. And it multiplied.

My point is not that I just referred to scripture so you have to believe everything I say – feel free to believe that monsters are a metaphor for the darkness in the human soul or believe that every word of the Bible is literally true. Genesis 6:4 is a cryptic reference. It could refer to all of the theories I mentioned, or none of them. “Nephilim” could be a slang term referring to the supernatural in general. After all, the Bible also specifically mentions leviathans – whatever they are – and witches and demons and giants and dragons. If you actually translate Hebrew, you will also find references to mysterious races such as the Emim (the dreadful ones), the Rephaim (the dead ones), and the Anakim (the long necked ones).

My point is that no one has all the answers. There are gaps and mysteries and seeming contradictions in every history and every belief system, and it is in those gaps that dark things and miracles dwell.

It is in those gaps that the Pax Arcana originated.