How to Pass a January

“January” from a Flemish Book of Hours — Simon Bening

I live in California, a state with some of the strictest lock down measures. I don’t have children nor a partner. The reality is that there isn’t much to do. I’ve always been an introvert, but even introverts need some social interaction. It just isn’t happening though, for me and for many other people. Things are closed up, and people are paranoid. To pass the days, I work from home, visit my parents once a week, go to acupuncture once a week, and spend as much time as I can wandering around outdoors. My favorite is walking up in the hills where the orchards were. I met a delightfully spirited three legged dog (picture forthcoming surely), and the citrus scent is beautiful.

It turns out though that in the next couple of weeks I will have to spend a little less time wandering outside. The acupuncturist thinks my wanders are too intense for me right now, that I need to rest. She is very insistent that I cut down my 1 to 2 hour wanders to 30 minute voyages and that, much to my annoyance, the incline part is out for awhile. My western doctor is okay with my 1 to 2 hours adventures, but she seems to think I need some rest too, being iron deficient and all.

If my narrative of same old sounds not too far off the mark, then you too, literate person that you are, may be in a mind to catch up with some reading. Here’s what I’m getting into this January.

  1. Reviewing Zines

Zines give me a sense of major nostalgia. Back in the late 90s when the Internet was for rich people and hardly anyone had cell phones let alone smart phones, I would jump on the quarter shuttle and make my way, an effort that included a 2 mile walk, to the next city over, an old town that had a record store, a comic book store, and shows at the park. Once there, I would look through the music, often selecting items based on title and/or picture. I wanted to find new music, but almost everything interesting and D.I.Y. was promoted via word of mouth. Zines and flyers were another way to find out about new music and new ideas, and there were always piles of them at the record store and the other places I passed through. I would always pick them up, exultant that there were people out there going through the trouble of creating free zines. I was pleased that I could read record reviews to find new music. I liked looking at the weird art and reading the strange essays that introduced me to new and unusual ideas, even if I wasn’t vibing the same. I miss the freedom of discovery. Recently, I rummaged through the old zines I kept and even bought some new ones. This January I will be rereading the zines I have, both old and new, for mental stimulation and inspiration alike.

One set I bought recently is a collection of zines by Brian Cotnoir. These zines explore hermetic, alchemical, and magical topics in a creative and innovative way. I read through them once, but I’m reading them again to really absorb the ideas presented and to get inspired.

Zines by Brian Cotnoir

2. Rereading Crowley’s Essays

I’m also planning on rereading my small collection of Aleister Crowley essays. I have to admit Crowley fascinates me. He is Cambridge College educated and was part of the Golden Dawn only to break away and found his Ordo Templi Orientis. There are things about him that are excessively eccentric, and my own visit to modern O.T.O events revealed that there are certain ritualistic practices that I would rather avoid, but I still find plenty to learn from his writings. I consult his correspondence charts whenever planning rituals, and for some reason, his work is calling to me now.

Assorted Essays -Aleister Crowley

3. Finding inspiration in Marjorie Cameron’s Songs for the Witch Woman

Since I am working on my creativity this month, I also plan to spend a bit of time revisiting Marjorie Cameron book “Songs for the Witch Woman” that I bought at the museum exhibit honoring her some years back. Her art is incredibly strange, and the small amount of poetry in the text is lovely. In a way, rereading her book brings back a memory or two of drinking with her punk rock grandson occasionally before shows. At the time, the local punk rockers would all hangout in the alleyways near the venue and often talk about strange topics. Of course, occultism came up and consequently so did Marjorie Cameron, who was an important part of L.A.’s esoteric history. I didn’t know who she was at the time, and her grandson thought it was the funniest thing he had ever heard since she was the real deal and a local at that. He talked about how magic was very real, like a living, breathing thing, and that he had been surrounded by it as a matter of course growing up. Many years later, I know that magic is a real and living thing. I only wished I had asked him more questions. As it is unlikely I’ll cross paths with him again, I figure the book will do until I find more texts with her work.

Songs for the Witch Woman- Marjorie Cameron

4. Rereading Schopenhauer

Not all of my reading this January will be occult and strange. I also plan on rereading some Schopenhauer. I have been wanting to read Schopenhauer’s The Art of Controversy and really explore his 38 stratagems for winning arguments; however, I refuse to do so until I reread the book I already have, a collection of essays. Are you one of those people who get book lust and buy books that will just sit on the shelf for awhile? I have to admit I’ve been known to passionately want to read a book and then let it sit. By rereading the Schopenhauer book I already have, I hope to outsmart myself. If I reread the Schopenhauer I already own in a timely manner, then I’ll go ahead a purchase The Art of Controversy.

Philosophical Writings -Arthur Schopenhauer
Philosophical Writings -Arthur Schopenhauer

What are you reading this January? Do you have any books to recommend? Comment below.

Picture updated 3.24.22

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Writer, editor, educator, and obscurity enthusiast

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The Metafictionalist

The Metafictionalist

Writer, editor, educator, and obscurity enthusiast

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