Well well well, here I am quoting Crowley again! I guess the old magick has stuck to me more than I thought (but promise, it is only quotes – no real skills at casting circles and such… 😉
I am thinking that in order to understand Alpha I really need to talk about what brought me to her… So, there I was, a woman sitting in a hotel room in Montreal. I was on a research update for my PhD program and there had been a parting of the ways with a tutor whom I was actually extremely fond of earlier in the day. Furthermore, I had left my best friend dying in Istanbul (she did in fact die a few days after I was back)… I put my laptop on the toilet table in front of the mirror (that was the only place in the room where I had juice), turned it on and went into Second Life. Alpha was still a noob but she was already looking decent enough for me to be able to make a truly horrifying comparison the minute that I was logged in: Looking at me from the mirror was a fat, desolate woman, with bad hair, downturned mouth and saggy jowls. Nothing of any interest whatsoever would ever happen to her again. Her life was over. She would never be loved again, desired again, no one would want to embark upon adventures with her or dance with her or even want to laugh with her – a sour faced academic who was very good at giving conference papers, a feared and dreaded instructor who was a world apart from her students. Isolated, ensconced in whatever solitary horrors awaited her in the lonely miserable years to come, shared, of course, by her army of animals.
Looking back at me from the screen however, was the face that was concealed inside this woman under the layers and layers of fat that she had so successfully hidden behind for over 10 years: Mischievous, playful, and adventurous, wanting to laugh and laugh and laugh. No one knew, no one cared – but this was who I was inside. I wanted to live, go on strange journeys, play, do crazy things, maybe even dangerous things that might hurt me – again!
So, how had I ended up here? What had turned the one who had a future lined up, that she was running towards everyday of her life into this sad old cow? Love happened. I know it sounds maudlin and melodramatic but a devastating love affair in my late 30’s completely turned around my life. Looking back on things now, I am extremely glad it happened that way, I am extremely glad that I had to go through that suffering, which made me shed one skin and reveal another. I am glad that I no longer live the life that I did then.
And so, what exactly was that life like? I was an art director, very good at what I did, piling up awards, working at a very fancy international advertising agency. As superficial a life as any one could possibly wish for… Clients, meetings, office intrigues, nice dinners at posh restaurants, cute little “dates”… Very predictable, very much like those lives are meant to be, the world over. Nice apartment, nice clothes, nice vacations… Oh, oh, oh… and before I forget: I also dabbled in art!!! I painted… Jesus…
Then one day I went to a party and met a man. I had no idea who he was, had never seen him before. He was not good looking or even particularly charismatic/charming in any sense of these terms, but to me he became everything. And I most definitely did not become everything to him… Simple as that… Oh, we did get together, on and off we had an “affair” that lasted for well over a year and then one day he got up and left, never to come back. What compounded the pain was that there was no way that I could possibly blame him or be angry with him. No, he was not a creep, he was not some womanizing jerk incapable of commitment – what he was, was a political prisoner who had spent 14 years of his life in jail. They threw him in when he was 23, he came back out when he was 37… Need one say more? He needed me and “my love” like he needed a hole in the head. He saw the total misery I was in and he had the decency to get out of my life and leave me to it.
Even during the “affair” my work had started to suffer. My heart was no longer in it, in the superficial soap bubbles of advertising, and it could be seen in my output and demeanor. I lost the job in the aftermath of the breakup. I lost it very badly, screwing up a major account so thoroughly that not only did I get fired but word spread around pretty quickly in the advertising enclave of Istanbul making me a pariah, someone who was a liability, someone who was totally unhirable. I did have some money saved up and spent the next year or so, maybe even longer, at home quietly and steadily getting drunk. I did not try to contact him, not even once. Just sat there day in and day out in a total daze of misery… And getting fat… Fatter and fatter and fatter… Bloated… Blotto… This was the time when a close friend who was interested in meditation and magick came to help me, to show me how to somehow visualize my way out of the nightmare. It worked to the point where I started being able to go out again. Another friend, Erdag Aksel, who is still a very close friend and colleague today, got me a college teaching job as a design instructor, for which I had to leave Istanbul and move to Ankara.
In Ankara I met the “thing” that thoroughly transformed my life; the computer. Of course, I had worked with them before as a graphic designer, but here I met Mark Siprut, who gave me a Wacom Tablet. Photoshop was still in its infancy – version 2 something. Still no layers, only channels. I sat down in front of one of the machines in the computer lab, a Mac Quadra, and before I knew it night had come, they were locking up the lab, I had to leave. Something like 7-8 hours had gone by – without so much as a bathroom break and no need for a cigarette, remarkable for the kind of smoker that I am… For me the computer is magick. My dabbling in magick had led me to Jung and Freud. And although I could never muster up enough interest for the practice of magick when it came to Jung the story changed entirely: At the point where the Wacom Tablet entered my life, I was already quite well read in Jung and had developed a very strong interest in Alchemy as a psychological tool for individuation – hence the name of my website, Citrinitas, hence all the alchemical references at Syncretia, my SL island. Even as I was in it, I was aware that I was going through the phase of Nigredo, the dark night of the soul, which would result in Albedo, a calm period of gathering and learning, which would eventually lead me to Citrinitas, a new time of turbulence during which the silver in me would (hopefully) begin to turn into gold. All of this is very closely intertwined with the unconscious; and in a very strange kind of way the computer, that penultimate system of logical 0’s and 1’s, for me is an environment for the realization of the unconscious through the copy’s and paste’s that bring together the strangest combinations, creating associations that were not there a minute ago. I had dabbled in painting but never whole heartedly. Now, I started to create images in earnest, compulsively… I got another teaching job in Istanbul and moved back to the city that I love only like one other – New York.
Meanwhile I was still very fat… Still withdrawn… I had started to become very good at being a teacher, and when I was not teaching I sat at home painting, gobbling up software in order to be able to do more and more. Completely absorbed in what I was doing to pay any kind of attention to how I looked, how I lived, what I drank or ate – which in those days was liters and liters of Coke and Burger Kings (the alcohol had thankfully stopped at some point when I still lived in Ankara, nowadays I drink very little – and only socially, never alone – I still smoke like a fiend though…). When I lost my job in advertising I also lost a huge circle of acquaintances, so my social life was meager, to say the least. I did have good friends but all were happily settled in relationships, with busy lives, so I ended up spending a lot of time by myself in front of my magick box, now fully enjoying Albedo. I was out of Nigredo, I no longer suffered. I only remembered my “love” very occasionally and whenever I did it was with more gratitude than anything else. He had come into my life at exactly the right moment and pulled me into a state of moulting that was much needed. The superficial thing that I was, needed to be put thoroughly through the mill and he was really nothing but the miller.
I became better and better at the teaching, which got me a bit of a reputation, which got me the job that I have today, which put me in a position where I had to formulate educational strategy not only for my own courses but for an entire university program. This led me to do research on the web, which led me to an amazing book called the Telematic Embrace, which led me to do a PhD at the Planetary Collegium, which led me into Second Life and to a hotel room in Montreal where I found myself staring into a mirror and a screen in a total shock of recognition: The moulting was complete for now. Doubtless there would be more to come, in years to come. I was far from finished, far from faultless. But for now Albedo was over and Citrinitas, that long awaited for moment had finally arrived. I had to go out there and live again, probably suffer again, certainly make mistakes – but definitely live again, become involved with life again.
I cried a lot that night. I had enough to cry about anyway with a dying friend and the sad episode with my tutor, but the faces in the mirror and the screen brought home to me what a horrifying mess I was in and how if I didn’t do something about it, it would really and truly be over for me… Just as my thumb had spoken to me so did Alpha that night. And she and I agreed that I would do everything in my power to re-align “self” with “persona”, so that life can come and find me, or more to the point so that I have enough confidence to approach it once again. And that is what I have been working on between then and now, with Alpha, my amazing dragoman, showing me the way. (Oh and… I have lost the weight btw. 32 kilos – which is something like 70 pounds altogether) (It also has to be added that there was a very brief phase about 4 years ago, when I went through a half hearted version, (a rehearsal if you will?) of trying to align self and persona. However, it had no long lasting effects whatsoever. Before I knew it, within months, I was back to how I was, back deep inside Albedo, still some 30 kilos overweight, with nothing but a few laser peels to show for my efforts… My heart wasn’t really in it.)