The D&D Magic System and the Occult (Part 1)

There are a lot of fantasy magic systems that diverge drastically from realworld magic, for some reason. It’s as though people don’t understand that a)there is a long tradition of divers magic systems from ancient times onward and b)there is a strong archive of many of them.  At bottom, all magickal systems are about arranging the psyche to be a conduit for the divine. Alchemy, Sufism, Shamanism (in all its forms), are all methods of communing with one’s self, the selves of others, and with the higher conscious – sometimes referred to as the Collective Unconscious. According to legend, this psychological reordering enables spiritual feats that seem miraculous. Today’s modern fantasy magic systems, on the other hand, never seem to ask about the magic user’s relation to the magics employed.

Even an epic adventure such as the “Dragon Age” saga has such a simplistic, adynamic, moralistic view of its magic that it becomes unbelievable. The Fade, where magic comes from, is never discussed in cosmological terms, and the schools of magic are neither discussed cosmologically nor in terms of their relation to the Fade. If there are towers everywhere, there is certainly interest in the way the Fade relates to magic relates to the physical world. And, indeed, this is the nature of realworld magick. This is how one begins to tease apart the reality of magick, by deciding upon one’s relation to one’s own psychology, and how that individual psychology relates to the Collective Unconscious.

A classic system of fantasy magic, Dungeons and Dragons presents an interesting array of cosmological problems, stemming from the exact laziness I have just described. For my purposes, I will be invoking the mostly the third (and point-five) edition, with which I am most familiar.

The first problem is the most obvious, and this is the division of magic into arcane and divine parts. As stated above, true magick is about communion with divinity. All magickal effects are divinely evinced. What, then, is to be made of a magic system for which the effects are not so evinced? With what do the wizard, bard, and sorcerer commune to create the magical effects so highly spoken of? Of what substance is the magic missile, for example? The answer to these questions may be partly derived from the prime requisite abilities of each. For the wizard, the intellect is of highest importance; for the bard and sorcerer, the charisma.

These faculties of human nature have their alchemical correspondences, as all the abilities do. Because charisma is about interrelationships between people and each other, and between people and objects (as in, for example, the Use Magic Device skill), the corresponding planet is Venus, the corresponding metal copper. One may be tempted to consider Intelligence a key ability for Mercury, but if this were the case, then where would one place Dexterity? Dexterity, after all, is the prime requisite for rogues, for thieves, and Mercury – Hermes – is the Thieflord. I suspect that Intelligence may correspond with Saturn – lead.

William Dennis Hauck tells us that Saturn’s sole virtue is practicality, perhaps exalted in prudence. This holds up in the real world where practicality and convenience are learned as the One True Science. There is a correspondence here between the Dismal Science of economics and the Appraise skill, which is governed by Intelligence. The Craft skill is also governed by Intelligence, crafting being one of the most practical methods of earning money, with which to amass wealth. All of these are Saturnine concerns – money, wealth, craft, practicality. But if this correspondence is to be respected, then the wizard becomes nothing more than an artificer; whereas the truth is that a wizard is the cause of supernatural effects issuing from the body through the mind.

This rift between systems is made all the deeper when we complete the planetary referrals of the abilities. Strength is the prime requisite of fighters and other warrior types, and is thus referred to iron and Mars. Dexterity, as aforementioned, to Mercury and quicksilver; Constitution to Jupiter and tin; Wisdom to Selene and silver; and Charisma to Venus and copper.

The problem is that under this system, one planet – one heavenly body – is left out. It is either Sol (Phoebos) or Saturn. But even in this problem there may be the seed of its own solution. Intelligence may “vibrate” between Saturn and Phoebos – lead and gold. This vibrating motion is not unheard of. In fact, it is this kind of motion that gives all magickal systems life. This motion is a particularly potent one – rather a seventh, musically.

Wisdom, on the other hand, has its own internal scale, being referred to Selene. That accounts for the difference in spell knowledge. A wizard knows no spells outside of the book. A cleric knows all spells, and must choose from amongst them. In later levels, a distinction becomes less easy, but to the lower levels – the uninitiated – the difference is vital. While a cleric can explore the range of her abilities within the first levels, the wizard must practice his over and over. The cleric learns what suits her quickly, and her early-level play is more fluid. The wizard begins by knowing the spells inside and out. In the feminine instance, who you are shapes the spells; in the masculine instance, it is the wizard who is shaped by the spells. Only a high-level cleric with exceptional discipline of will might use a divine spell list the way that resembles the way a wizard must, and there is a way in which the high-level wizard is forbidden from using his spell book the same way a high-level priest ordinarily would.

In terms of Charisma-based arcane magic, sorcery and bardery, there is a sense of an alchemy between the above two methods of knowledge and casting. Bard spells are a very specific list, and cross over arcane and divine boundaries. A bard has healing spells, for example. Most of the bard’s other spells are either illusion or enchantment – Venerean spells because they involve interaction and interrelation. So, the bard’s Venerean nature is clear. Beginning at fourth level, the bard can replace two known spells with two others. This can only be done when leveling, just as the wizard gets to choose new spells at the beginning of a level, and both bards and wizards choose their new spells at this time.

On the other hand, a bard, like a sorcerer, needn’t memorise spells. Both bards and sorcerers can cast spells of a certain level only a specified number of times per day. They always know the spells they know, but their power wanes with each use. This assumes a distinct division between energy levels. You cannot, for example, use second-level energy to cast first-level spells. Such a clear distinction suggests that there is something qualitatively different about the levels of spell access, not just quantitatively different. So, you can’t use the energy you’d use to cast Identify to cast Detect Magic because those two spells draw from completely different faculties of energy, even though the one may seem like a natural extension of the other.

At this point, it would be wise to consult a diagram of the Qabbalic Tree of Life. (Please excuse the amateur Photoshop work.)

Tree of Life

As you can see, there are ten different nodes, each with a different position and different meaning. These nodes are intended to represent emanations of God, but the Order of the Golden Dawn also uses these nodes to represent ranks of initiation, whereby the organization grants deeper secrets and higher magicks. We can use a similar system to describe the ten levels of spells in both the wizard/sorcerer and cleric spell lists, and we can also use it to note the limitations of other classes.

Cantrips are known as 0-level spells, and are the weakest. So, if magic’s goal is to reach the highest power, we should start our correspondence at the bottom. Thus, 0=10. (Already, those who know something about the Golden Dawn will recognize what’s going on.) The first order of spells lifts one’s consciousness from the base physical level, or else represents the fact that one has lifted oneself. Thus, 1=9. This inversion continues up the Tree until we reach the highest emanation, the Crown, Kether. Thus, 0=10; 1=9; 2=8; 3=7; 4=6; 5=5; 6=4; 7=3; 8=2; 9=1.

It is important here to note that not all spell casters can attain to the highest, and amongst them are bards. Bards only have seven levels of spells, including their cantrips. Obviously, neither ranger nor paladin can attain beyond fourth level, but there are no zero-level spells for them, either. The best they can achieve is 4=7.

A bard, who taps out at level 6=4, cannot reach the Supernal Triad at the top of the Tree, but a Sorcerer can. From a purely mechanical point of view, this is for reasons of balance. A bard is never supposed to be masterful at anything, but can perform most tasks adequately. The same goes for magic. It stands entirely possible that, even in-game, no bard has ever attained those supernals because they’re just too damned distracted. It’s something Joseph Campbell laments of his own life in “The Power of Myth”. He has been too general with his studies, and though his knowledge and wisdom are great, he will never attain to the highest. But a sorcerer can, if he so desires.

All of this is well and good. There are here some rigorous correspondences, if only superficial. A more thorough look at the nature of the spells for each level would provide a deeper sense of such correspondences, but none of this truly addresses our aim in this article. And that is: What, exactly, is the difference between arcane and divine magic? After all of this, I am left with very little. There is a difference, but this difference is not one that is dependent on the words “arcane” and “divine”. That is, the words “arcane” and “divine” do not in any way describe these differences. The differences are, as discussed above, solar versus lunar.

Historically speaking, the divine spell list only went up to seven, whereas the arcane spell list went up to nine. I suspect that this is as a result of the Catholic cosmology of Heaven and Hell. Whereas Hell has nine layers, Heaven has only seven. While the cleric was intended to be seen, perhaps, in a holy Christian light, the wizard was to be seen as colluding with the denizens of Hell. Previously, there were no 0-level spells. Thus, the arcane and divine systems had differing cosmological structures. With the advent of the third edition, however, the distinction became obscure yet they retained the nomenclature for the sake of tradition and brand loyalty, perhaps. However, because of this ostensibly arbitrary change, there is a much more cohesive magical system, especially when corresponded to the Western Occult systems.

Next time I post – perhaps next week, even – I’ll be discussing the planes of existence as they are in the Western conception and in the realm of D&D. (That’ll be weird.)

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On Sexism in the Atheist Community: A Controversial Perspective

There is some concern – mild in some areas, distressed in others – that capital-A Atheism, or whatever Atheism+ happens to be is mired in sexism. The internet is still kinda reeling from the derision Rebecca Watson received when she dared to point out that asking a lone woman to coffee in a private setting at 4:00am is inappropriate. Derision is the right word here. She was derided after giving a talk on the behaviouir of many so-called skeptics – men – who make women feel uncomfortable within the community. I have not seen original copy from the talk that Ms. Watson gave, but I assume that she made some comments in the direction of how unconscious these discomfiting behaviours are – as any good commentary would have to contain. Because they are unconscious, these behaviours. They’re egoistic, and laden with assumptions. The level of awareness it takes to invite a woman in an elevator to coffee in your hotel room at 4:00am is not high. It requires only the barest acknowledgement of one’s own active sexuality and the verbal cognition to form the words. And yet, the atheist community electrified itself with ironic vitriol.

It’s possible that the internet is still reeling from this, in however small pockets, because the atheist community and the gamer community overlap and the gamer community is rife with its own pockets of ironists, spraying foaming vitriol at the women who have always been in videogames and who now wish to see that acknowledged. It’s possible that the internet is still reeling from this because the atheist community gives props to itself for being progressive, and makes big waves when it has the force behind it – and it does have force behind it. It’s possible that the internet is still reeling because no one can let anything die on the internet. But it’s also possible that the internet is still reeling because atheism is inherently sexist, and cannot help but be otherwise.

Now, bear with me, please, because a lot of what I’m going to say is going to appear to be of the kind of essentialism that is oppressive. I believe in a gender binary, but one so supernal that it cannot be spoken, much less taught to children in their infancy. I believe infants have a much better idea in what that binary consists. I know that personal alchemy plays a large role in the admixture of one’s personal gender expression, and I also own that even just stating a binary begets another binary – masculine and feminine begets both and neither, just automatically. (These also are supernal concepts.)

So, the way that atheism creates its monadic hierarchy of thought is as follows: “pure reason” (i.e. rational, Cartesian thought), creative insight, intuitive reasoning, emotion, superstitions, the historical artefacts of these reasonings and superstitions (astrology, fortune-telling, magick, etc.), the Christian Church (as a monad), other non-Christian monotheistic churches (as monads, and except for Judaism because you can’t speak ill of the Jewish people or their culture – but only because you can’t speak ill of the Jewish people or their culture), the Old Ways. It is important to recognize that while everything after (read: beneath) “pure reason” may shift within an individual atheist’s hierarchy, “pure reason” is always at the top and everything beneath it is always at the bottom. That is why the hierarchy is monadic.

Well, this co-called pure reason has an origin as the interpretation of the height of thinking. It was, indeed, our latest faculty as thinking creatures – the ability to plan, the ability to communicate with one’s emotions, the ability to suppress one’s desires in order to find out what the physical world “really” is.

Objectivity is a Renaissance philosophy that suggests, in its purest form, that nothing is alive. According to this philosophy, all items are objects, and their interactions are purely mechanistic. Life, consciousness, this world – all are happy accidents of a universe that is, itself, simply a machine. Anything that doesn’t bear weight, anything that cannot be measured in a Cartesian-derivative fashion, does not exist. These items (for lack of a better word) are mere figments of the imagination – and imagination is not pure reason. It is fancy, fantasy – not hard, cold, dead facts. The goal of pure reason is to find the truth through examination of the physical world using Descartes’ philosophical schematic for a basis. It is to remove the subjective – the human. But this mechanistic position can only yield mechanistic thought. This mode of thought was championed only by men, primarily, and the artefacts of the old masculinities still remain.

Leaving aside, for a moment, that “pure reason” as it’s defined by modern atheism is an artefact of historical masculinity, and that the ability to achieve “pure reason” is still in many ways linked to being masculine, let us examine the effect of the monadic hierarchy.

Placing objective reasoning not at the centre, but on the very top, with a crown and a laurel and a sceptre, and every other human faculty and artefact of said faculties and the admixtures thereof beneath – in many cases so far beneath that they are would-be personae non gratae in this despotic court – creates rigidity. Because atheism is a reaction first and foremost to Christian politics and policies, it sets itself up as an oppositional force. The problem inherent in that is that such rigid oppositionalism creates not a new philosophy, but a reflection of the philosophy it opposes. Increased rigidity in thought means increased crystallisation, and as the crystals coalesce, the mirror image gets clearer – not more obscure. That is to say, atheism actually is Christianity; it’s just that when Christianity raises its right hand, atheism raises its left hand. Many of the hidden assumptions that reside in the Christian religion very much reside in the atheistic paradigm and that is because they both largely have ancient Greek culture as their root.

In the case of Christianity, much of the Gospel and the rest of the New Testament (for lack of a better expression) come to us in Greek. As such, the culture is coded into its language. This is true for all languages, but especially true of ancient Greek because the Greeks of ancient times believed they had the right words for things. Thus, the idea of Mary being a virgin is not, per se, reflective of the verse in Isaiah, which is responsibly translated “A young woman shall conceive and bear a child” but has a completely other meaning. It is also important to point out that Jewish culture, Israelite culture, was largely influenced by Grecian ideas and vice versa, so that by the time we receive the Gospels in English, the two are thoroughly entwined with Greek coming out on top because that’s the language in which we receive the Gospels. (Why would we receive the Gospels in Hebrew? He’s not their saviour.)

Meanwhile, the atheistic community upholds argumentation, intellect (their version), scholasticism as their virtues. These are also Greek and Hebrew virtues. Jewish culture is awash with the idea of argumentation to aim at truth, and it’s not uncommon for arguers in this vein to help opponents with their responses. The Greek paradigm is built on the reasoning of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle and the idea that there is one truth – THE Truth – comes from Aristotle as much as it comes from Jewish monotheism. The modality of “pure reason” is not different from this ancient time, only the cultural framework and the criteria for (the) truth – which seem to get more severe as (if) time goes on.

But, stricter criteria for truth lead to lazy thinking, rigidity and crystallisation. As Nietzsche says: “One moral is greater than two, because it is more of a noose to hang oneself on.” Thus, atheism is just as stale in its insights as Christianity is. Indeed, it may never actually have had any insights, and it certainly wouldn’t if Christianity hadn’t recovered the classical philosophers from Islam. The maxim “question everything”, in the hands of the atheistic community, has never really been anything more than “question everything, except me” or “question everything, except this philosophy that I hold dear.”

When second-wave feminism made inroads to academia in the 1960s and 70s, it did so not only with an eye toward the ways in which the academy itself had been set up to signify men. Thus, we have a notion of sexist language, we have a notion of women’s ways of knowing. Intuition is prime amongst these ways; so is conversation with the self. No matter how problematic “The Vagina Monologues” may be, the question, “What would your vagina say?” is still a relevant one. It was not invented by Eve Ensler, which may be why it is relevant, and speaks of the way women have achieved personal growth and understanding of the world and themselves within it, while at the same time being largely outside the academic paradigm of knowledge. The answer to this question requires deep self-knowledge because vaginas don’t speak with physical words. At the same time, there is a deep-psychological equation (a dream equation, if you will) between vagina and mouth, which supposes the ability to voice. Add to that the fact that women’s voices did then and still do mean less than men’s, and you have a truth shared by many individuals. Do you see how that was done without a lab? Do you see how it directly questions the pure Cartesian materialism that atheism holds in the highest?

Now, an atheist response might be, “But that tells us nothing of the world at large!” That’s not true, though. The whole process asks us to see deeper into the silence of things to find meaning there. It asks us to use interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences – both of which have been the demesne of femininity, for good or ill, since anciency. It suggests there are truths that are not attainable through Cartesian logic, or at the end of a microscope.

This vein of reason might smack to some of Colbert’s “truthiness”, but this is not the case. What Colbert defines as truthiness — “Truth that comes from the gut, not books” – is fraught with egoism and politics. A pure intuition may be just as liable to inform someone of a truth as a laboratory experiment. The generic line is that “Intuition is much better at telling you what just happened, whereas pure, rational, Cartesian science can make stunningly accurate predictions”, but these stunningly accurate predictions can only be made by examining the past and calculating the rate at which time will repeat itself. The mechanism – if it is one – is built on the same premise that its proponents use to invalidate intuitive reasoning. One might suggest that the difference is in the calculation of time, as opposed to the divining of time. The problem is, once again, such calculations and predictive models can only draw from the past, not the future. This is, of course, the same manner by which intuition makes its predictions, unless pure intuition can have an access to the eternal that pure science cannot. We cannot “know” whether this is the case, because atheistic science stubbornly refuses to make epistemological acquiescences to other modes of knowing. As you can see, ego is difficult to dissolve in every field.

Let’s try an example of how intuition is different from truthiness. This Yuletide, Jordan Axani is looking for a(ny) woman named Elizabeth Gallagher to replace his ex-girlfriend on the ticket she left behind when they broke up. (The ticket begins a European tour.) He’s advertised on the internet for it. Now, right away, my hackles are up. I’m prepared to call any woman I hear of who wishes to go on this trip an idiot. There’s a whole tonne that could be wrong with this, and my experience with men suggests to me that it probably is. My Tyrant Queen is just raging. This is truthiness. But, if I trust my intuition, I’m pretty sure I’m wrong. I have every reason to believe that going on a trip like this is a bad idea that could easily get worse, but I don’t honestly believe that. My intuition tells me that Jordan Axani is actually a good kind of man, even though I don’t tend to believe that good kinds of men exist. I really want to be right about how awful he truly is, but I kinda know he isn’t. Moreover, I think I’m pissed that I would never be able to trust this kind of gesture were it directed (however unlikely) at my name – and as a result, I’d miss out on an awesome opportunity.

“How do you know, though,” asks the atheist in my head, “that your so-called intuition isn’t a result of wishful thinking?” It’s true that my intuition seems a little optimistic, but knowing myself, I can reasonably state which part of me is responding to my experience of pain and displeasure at the hands of misogynists, and which has the purity to say honestly. I am tapped into sources of reflection and self-knowledge that allow me to differentiate. I have practice. But that’s not the point. The point is, atheism only allows for this kind of self-reflexiveness insofar as it benefits atheistic goals and agendas. Intuition is a faculty of human consciousness that a) is given to femininity (correctly and otherwise), and b) is not honoured or practiced by the atheist community.

Atheistic agendas also reflect Christian agendas on the belief in gods, spirits, demons, angels, and other extra-mortal entities for political gain, and not as a matter of truth seeking. This inward mode of truth seeking is also given to femininity, and then derided in both Atheism and Christianity as false. A parallel lies in the legal system, where feminine vocal patterns are often viewed as so similar to deceitful vocal patterns as to be identical. One may very reasonably state that these vocal patterns and perceptions are culturally framed and given to change and modulation; and it is also true that Atheist women are still feminine despite attaining to the purely masculine (secular) notion of “reason” as objective. The point remains, however. Many of the capacities and faculties of the human consciousness that Atheism and Christianity define as deceitful are also culturally prescribed to femininity. Belief in these extra-mortal entities is seen by both communities as gullible, and lacking in intelligence – more traits which are, currently and historically, used to describe women.

The result is psychiatric intervention in thoroughgoing mystic experience. It is so vital to both Atheism and Christianity-at-large that acknowledgement of extra-mortal entities, especially should they appear in full perceptive form (sound, touch, smell, sight – I have never tasted an extra-mortal entity), that both work together in the social institution of mental health to obscure the boundary (if one exists) between schizophrenia and seership. Both take the manifestation of these entities to the chosen subjects of these entities from gullibility to outright unhealth, which ultimately serves a utilitarian industrialist agenda, removing us even further from the world of nature and removing the “poor victims” of these so-called hallucinations and delusions from the entities who cause them.

There is no hallowed institution for visionaries to encounter initiations and securities to protect them from ill-meaning entities, or else entities who require a certain psychic constitution in order to be fully manifested to them. Thus, those attaining to seership in the ancient vein of the Great Mother Kybele (for example) are handily – and dangerously – thwarted unless they are fortunate enough to find the underground communities who still keep the vestiges and remnants of that once-great institution. This suits both Atheists and Christians just fine, regarding political motivations and agendas, however separate they appear to themselves and each other. And so, the Goddess Herself, and those attaining to Her powers and paths suffer so that Atheists and Christians may wage their war against what seems to them to be each other but what is, in actuality, themselves.

Atheism rejects modes of discourse from seership to alchemy, visions to astrology as long-defunct vestiges of a much more ignorant age. Many of these Old World discourses honour the feminine, and one (astrology) is a pre-iteration of the attunement of mathematics to the discourses of the physical world. That these institutions persist in society causes the Atheist as much, if not more, consternation as the modern Christian. Thus, Atheists and Christians are allied, through their monadic hierarchy of knowledge, in dishonouring facets of human consciousness that is given to the femininity within all human consciousness. Until Atheism broadens its perspectives on the nature of reality and how we can obtain knowledge of said reality, it dooms itself to banal misogyny, if not active misogyny. Thus will all Atheists remain, in the words of Magister Crowley, “mere stupid men”.

Health Benefits of Eating Unicorn: There Aren’t Any

In Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (which is called Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in the States because that’s what US alchemists call the Stone), He Who Must Not Be Named feasts on unicorn flesh to maintain the semblence of life. It is an unholy foil to the power of the Philosopher’s Stone, the way Draco Malfoy is a foil to Harry himself. This book, however, was not my introduction to the idea of eating unicorn. Said introduction occurred in the mid-90s with the Black card “Feast of the Unicorn” from Magic: The Gathering. Autumn Willow’s commentary reads as follows: “Could there be a fouler act? No doubt the Baron knows one.”

The mention of the Baron is a reference (witting or un-) to a path of the Voodoo Gravedigger, Baron Samedi, the path known as Baron Kriminel. Here is another He Who Must Not Be Named, at least in a ritual sense. Baron Kriminel has a ritual that involves dousing a live chicken in flammable liquid (probably originally overproof rum, but now petrol) and lighting it on fire. Kriminel, it is said, enjoys the anguished squawks of the victim, the which would disgust and offend Baron Samedi — that delightful, lusty old man who is an icon for queer rights, a mortar for families and lineages, and a protector of children. Thus, Kriminel serves as a foil to Samedi himself. Samedi reminds us that death is sacred (even Christ was dead on Saturday) and when it occurs, it is right to celebrate the life (see also, Louisiana funeral) and leave the mourning till later. Kriminel, on the other hand, reminds us that death is torment and that men will run about like a chicken on fire to prevent it. They will even profane the sacred — the sanctity of death, the possibility of peace.

Western unicorns are said to be of supreme purity, the Ki-rin of the Occident. They drink only the mist from waterfalls, for lowering their heads to pools is said to be undignified to their Nobility. Their feces, it is said, resembles flawless tumbled quartz and contains extraordinary healing powers (phoenix tears, nuthin’!) And, of course, they are now said to be visible only to virgins. (A purer, more human version of the legend suggests that a unicorn will run from someone whose intentions aren’t pure.) How, then, are we to expect anyone who hunts a unicorn to catch one? Because unicorns are magickal creatures (read: psychological constructs), we can expect them to disappear faster owing to the degree of profanity present. As discussed above, you could ask He Who Must Not Be Named to describe a more profane intent than eating unicorn and you might get one.

So, how do you hunt a unicorn? The answer is obvious. Kidnap a virgin.

Well, maybe “kidnap” is a bit extreme. It’s risky, because trauma tends to smudge the soul. This is true of all trauma, from the everyday to the exceptional, and that is why the unicorn is referred to the second-to-last stage of alchemical purification and not the primary. So, kidnapping is out. It’s got to be deceit, because deceit delays trauma until the reveal. (Un)fortunately, trust is an indicator of a pure soul, especially in the young, and it’s only the young who are viable as unicorn bait. That is because, after a certain age, a pure soul must be alchemised in order to shine its purity forth. The gentility of the soul has been tempered (frequently overwrought) by wisdom — a wisdom that intertwines deceit with doubt. A child has this wisdom less often.

How to convince said innocent to help one hunt a unicorn, one wonders. I won’t even make suggestions because I feel like I’m kinda knockin’ on the door of child exploitation as it is. Still, I’ve brought you to this dark place deep in the human psyche, so I feel like I should give you something ontological to work with.

“Tranny chasers” have sometimes been referred to as unicorn hunters. So you know, a tranny chaser is (generally) an old man who fetishises transgender women. Basically, he’s a skirt chaser after skirts he suspects veil penises. (I have here used the t-slur to reveal the fetishistic psychology of the hunter, and not to degrade the prey.) The reference to unicorns may be lewd and crass, or it may be something more mysterious. Because, honestly, why would an image of purity be overlaid onto a group that is so seldom afforded even a modicum of dignity in the cultural narrative? For trans women, the virgin/whore (false) dichotomy is degraded to a clown/demon dichotomy that comes down to passability and never involves positive classification. Cultural attitudes regarding trans people, and women specifically, are so negative it seems unlikely that an image of purity would ever be applied, even ironically. The rarity of the unicorn hunter monaker is something that leads me to suspect there actually is something beneath the clearly available collegiate reading of trans woman as unicorn. In fact, like Autumn Willow’s comment above, whether the reference was intended is immaterial to its existence.

Speaking from an alchemical point of view, the clown/demon dichotomy is referred to the hermaphrodite/androgyne dichotomy. And again, please be aware that my use of the word hermaphrodite is not a dig at intersex individuals. Hermaphrodite was the child of Hermes and Aphrodite who, like Narcissus, was seduced by a water nymph and (unlike Narcissus) melded with her. The result was an existence embattled between two egos. This is a metaphor for people seeking qualities in life mates and lovers they do not personally possess, or else that they do possess but cannot hold. I, personally, have found this quality expressed in many male lovers thusly: they want to be mothered. Regardless of age difference — physical or imagined — they all wanted to be mothered. Such as it was, the relationship always died.

That is the case with the monstruum hermaphroditus of phsychological alchemy — a twisted, deformed child so tainted by the ego that fosters it that it cannot live. The beautiful androgyne is purified, perfectly conjoined (conjunction being a process central to alchemy).

Now, as it happens, a former lover of mine once told me that many, if not most, unicorn hunters would be trans had they the courage for it. (There may be other reasons; there may be exceptions — and, in fact, these are so probable they’re almost definite.) Regardless, if the unicorn hunter perceives passability to be an indication of beautiful androgyny, which it isn’t, he is more likely to persue a collegiate conjunction of his own. In this pretty face, this fine feminine form — with a penis — he sees (falsely) his own salvation, his own dream made manifest. And his ego pursues.

(Un)fortunately, all people are full people. There is no salvation in the reflection of one’s own dreams, just in the will to manifest them, the will to express them. Therefore, the unicorn hunter must overcome his (usually younger) partner’s own dreams and will in order to validate his. Psychologically, this is referred to consumption. It is the same process that Mother Flemeth uses to extend her life in the Dragon Age series of games by BioWare — the possession of the body of her daughter Morrigan at the expense of Morrigan’s own life. The self of another human is reduced (reified or deified) for the prolongation of one’s ego’s life.

The unicorn hunter, the fetishist worshiping the exotic, exterioric, manifestation of angrogyny, as opposed to seeking it out in himself, defiles not only the object of his desire but his own self and the true expression of that self. This is the same for all fetishisation, which seeks to possess and consume (psychologically) that which the overwrought ego assumes will prolong its longevity. A fetish is an object that takes the place of an idea and a human being is neither and both, but more. Thus, fetishising — consuming — a human is referred to the most heinous of acts.

So, formally speaking, I have to return to Voldemort. Well, I don’t want to. I don’t like Harry Potter and that’s not what this article is about. But for the sake of formality, I shall. Voldemort degrades his own life even as he demands it. People speak of how the books got darker and darker as the series went on, and were shocked when Rowling killed a character — a minor one, but in a kids’ book. But the innocence was already lost. The first book is, perhaps, the darkest in the series, because underneath the humour and silliness, under the veil of innocence, there is a very real monster doing very real monstrous things. Cedric Diggory is dead? Well, thank Gods it’s only him! His killer has eaten unicorn! It’s a wonder he didn’t eat Cedric.

Babylon the Mediocre

I was walking down the street — a pavement over a Native burial ground. Probably. (The downtown core is rife with strife both ancient and modern, like most downtowns.) I had just crossed the poshest commercial intersection and was headed towards the art gallery. It wasn’t my destination, but it was the quickest way to get to the rail to get home.

In my hand, I carried three bags — two of frosted plastic, one of recycled paper. In the bags, expensive elite products. An obscure score by Béla Bartòk: Cantata Profana: the Nine Enchanted Stags. Hardcover, gold-embossed. $43.71. A bottle of ten-year-old tawny port. $47.53. Shower gel and skin exfoliant. $52.17.

It had been a redletter day for shopping. I never go into that music shop. It’s been a long time since I’ve honoured my philharmonia through face-to-face transaction, but that shop simply doesn’t have the kind of elitism I look for in my music, so I never go in there. Except that I did today, and look what I found!

The port was something I decided to pick up that morning. It was a dose of nostalgia on a rainy, blustery October night, the which I was sure it would be again, tonight. My wife and I used to snuggle up in front of pirated television with a bottle of port on these nights. She left me over my indolence, and as if to prove her point, I let her go. Just sat there as the thing decayed in my heart, watched it go — apathy and melancholy. And now the love we once shared is undead nostalgia. One bottle of port is about eight wine glasses.

The beauty products are pricey because they’re handmade in the country, not imported from foreign sweatshops. They’re made with ethics, care, and equity, and they’re not tested on animals. It’s worth paying more, even though the prices sometimes seem weaponised. This is the cost of white guilt — and it’s little more — and so few people can afford even that. But I can. So I do. “Vote with your dollars,” they say, but it’s little better than voting with your ballot. The Natives have a saying: No matter who you vote for, the government always gets in. No matter what you buy, you’re still buying in.

Reaching the art gallery was somewhat difficult for me. I could have gone another, less convenient way, I suppose, but psychic self-flaggelation was becoming more and more my raison d’être. Certainly, the bottle of port I intended to share with myslf that night is evidence enough of that fact.

Just last month, at the beginning of the school year, some kid had offed himself on the roofd. How he got up there? Extending ladder and a stolen safety vest, and no one stopped him. Of course, who would? Words can only take you so far before actions need to take over. Laying a hand on a guy you don’t know can be dangerous. At best, it’s rude. At worst, it’s criminal. Especially if the guy looks official.

Somebody — the curator, I suppose — called the police, which is a kind of action. By the time they arrived on the scene, though, the kid had kicked the ladder to the curb. A news chopper was on the scene. People had gathered. I watched the coverage from my home, safe as houses. The squawking bullhorn no one ever hears — except the squawks. Raven song is prettier. Who knows what they said to him, but it can’t have been anything creative or insightful. They were cops.

They probably told him not to jump and that he had everything to live for as though they knew what his life was like. People like to think that. Everyone does it. They fall into the lazy mindset that they’re the only person with a complex inner life, and they try to show that so-called truth by telling others they know what their life is like. It’s a power trip, and they take it all over people who are about to kill themselves.

The kid in question didn’t care, though. He was busy editing and posting his manifesto from his phone. He said he’d gotten a great signal from the “vaunted” roof of the art gallery, that “marble shrine to white supremacy”. He said a lot of eloquent, thought-provoking things in it. He told us he’d climbed to the roof of the gallery because the gallery courtyard by the rear entrance is where protests begin in this city. He said he chose the roof because he didn’t want anyone else to get hurt. He didn’t know what else to do, he said. The world is so hurt, and people know it — we feel it — but we sit complacent on our asses while our wife walks out the door, and a million different things a million-and-one times worse happen all around us. He had been to several protests of the Idle No More variety, and felt the surging, yearning energy ready to burst. But where was the flood? Where the broken dam? He said he wanted to get up there on the grand stage and dare the RCMP sniper who was “undoubtedly watching through his government funded scope” to shoot him — a white man — in the head. He hadn’t because it was not his place, not his movement, not his time.

Then, he blew himself up. Remember the safety vest? Turns out everything can appear fine on the surface, and be deadly unsafe underneath. He blew himself to Kingdom Come saying freedom of speech was a failed social experiment. He blew himself up using instructions from the internet. He blew himself up, he said, to spark a civil war. To mobilise the people.

Of course, the news media had a field day — national coverage. They called him “terrorist” unstable, crazy, psychotic. They dug into his personal life, asking what could make a young, straight, white man do something so drastic. They told us, bafflewd, about his good grades. But you already knew he had good grades, because I told you how eloquent his manifesto was. Succinct, concise, insightful. I’m a professor of literature. I know these things. Of course he had good grades.

What they didn’t call him was what he was — troubled. He was a deeply, deeply troubled young man with vision and insight, but the press can’t say that. He had no history of violence; he wasn’t gay; he’d never been a woman nor had any desire to become one; he wasn’t Native or Indian or Caribbean or Colombian or Siekh or Fundamentalist or atheist or Satanic or Muslim. So, completely flummoxed, they press asked what made him snap. They never came up with an answer, no matter how sincere they made their tragedy masks look.

Another thing the press didn’t do was honour his manifesto. They didn’t look at his anguished masterpiece and give credit to his genius. This man who saw and couldn’t ignore, they ignored him. Looked right rhough him, opaque as he was — saw nothing.

There was, needless to say, no civil war. The people didn’t mobilise, as evidenced by the fact that I was walking with about $150 in elitist merchandise toward the busy sidewalk where the would-be spark had lit and spluttered likee a match in the rain.

Someone had set up a memorial shrine — graduation photo, flowers, votives, a prayer in sidewalk chalk — leaning against the stone pillars outside the gallery. It’s something, I guess, but someone had desecrated iut. I could smell the piss as I approached. The picture frame was broke, a bowl of flowers smashed, the word PSYCHO written over the sidewalk prayer. My heart broke a little. I wanted to do something to try to fix it. I stood there for about three minutes, which was certainly the most attention I’d ever given it. But I couldn’t figure out what to do. So I turned and walked away.

Blogging 101: what’s up with this alchemy shit?

Well, I think it’s partly explained in the About section of this site, but I’ll be a little more clear. After ten years of intense, deep psychological therapy, I left my therapist to seek my fortune. In a letter she wrote me, she complimented me on how well I’d done my “personal alchemy”. And it struck me: everything I’d done with her for ten years was exactly that: alchemy. All of it. I had practically enough for a degree! Except — I had no qualifications. I have no qualifications. Every way I apply what I learned in therapy outside my self — which is a calling for me — is unqualified. Yet, I can do it. I can practice. Hence the rogue part. Rogue Alchemy. It’s an identity.

My mentor Abraham described me as an alchemist just prior to that letter. (He wasn’t my mentor, then.) Then, he told me a bunch of stories of elemental initiations detailed by the Bible. At the end of it, he revealed one of the most shamanic things the Bible says: “You must be as wise as a serpent, and gentle as a dove.” (Note: There’s no citation here.) This image conjures up all kinds of alchemical meaning, the likes of which would make a very long blog post indeed. Suffice it to say, I have used this expression as a personal mantra ever since. It’s even on my résumé.

Blogging – 101: An introduction by way of introduction

Hello. I’m …

Look, I have to be perfectly honest about this. The Internet scares me and telling people I don’t know who I am — on the Internet — scares me even worse. I don’t want to start with a sob story — that’s no way to hook anyone. No apology for why I don’t have all my technological ducks in a row, or why I’ll occasionally get snarky about the blogosphere and the Internet in general. (Boy, did I ever get defensive when Michelle W. suggested #bloggin101 as a hastag.)

So, why do this? Why put myself to the test like this? Well, part of it is to show fortitude in the face of adversity. Another part is to be able to have a greater Internet presence, because as a writer you simply cannot get by without letting people in. Mostly, though, it’s about my voice. It’s about being an example for people — young women, especially — who have been through the wringer and come out the other side, scathed and alive. Your voice matters, just like mine. And, of course, part of it is trying to convince myself that my voice matters.

Why publicly? I have my own diary, of course, but it’s personal. No one reads that. Publishing my voice on the Internet, my thoughts on getting by, and healing, and capital-g Grace. My experiences with internal alchemy, the way we use alchemy even when we don’t think we are using it. I want a unique, thoughtful voice of comfort on the internet; one that’s not bogged down by a need to cling to some political system or ideology. I want something that approaches anti-oppressive ideology without being possessed by it. And I want to improve myself. Always and forever, I want to improve myself.

It’s really a mystery why anyone would post on the Internet, with such misdirected vitriol (about which, more later), such unreasonable voicing that seeks to destroy in the name of the Tyrant King, Ego I.

Maybe I’ll start a trend? Maybe I’ll create a safe space for the injured and the weary? Maybe I’ll be able to show people they don’t need to take shit on the Internet? I need to carve out a place in this cyber-dump where the evil can’t reach. Maybe that’s a fantasy, but a safe haven is always an honourable goal. Maybe I’ll just develop my voice and show people combinations and solutions they’d never considered.

If I blog successfully for a year, then people will have begun to appreciate the need for a blog that looks thoughtfully at psychology, alchemy, the Internet … pop culture, I guess. (I’m not very good at the last two, pretty well practiced in the first two.)

If I blog successfully for a year, I will have silenced that inner critic that says I’m navel gazing, or risking too much, or being egoistic again. (Also, I will have stopped navel gazing, risking too much, and being egoistic quite so much — it’s a delicate balance.)

I will have developed followers: loyal, thoughtful, liberationist philosophers from all walks of life who look to this blog as a guiding light of some variety. Hopefully, I’ll have found some devotees — one or two.

Ideally, I’d like to meet people already involved deeply in their own alchemy, and in the theory of alchemy. Maybe I can actually find folks who are interested in the Art, and impressed by my devotion to it.

So, here it is in a nutshell: I want to heal. I want to heal myself, and I want to heal others. I want others to heal me and to heal each other, and I want them to do it with the help of my blog. A small community of compassionate, creative-minded folks.

Alchemy, sexual trauma and deep-immersion gaming: A Survivor’s Guide to Tomb Raider

Introduction

I played the original Tomb Raider when I was fourteen, and inundated with lively hormones. Her breasts were the hook, but what really drew me in was Lara’s character. She was a badass, no-shit-takin’ lady who would just as soon pop a cap in some guy’s ass as – well, truth be told, there’s not much more interaction in the original. More often than not, you’d be killing mummies or giant centaurs or YOUR OWN DOOPPLEGANGER!~! I was enthralled by the worlds I got to visit, which moved quickly from realism to fantacism; I was frustrated by the puzzles, which often required a day’s rest to solve; I was pleased to be playing a woman in a video game again, finally. (Also, you know, that ass. That … geometric ass. The things we put up with because graphics technology is in transition!)

I was less impressed with the sequels. They changed the voice actress, for one thing. She was less cocky, less emotive. She was just a little more wooden. And, while the breast graphics had improved, the fact is – by that point, I was way more enthralled with Lara’s character. The narrative had taken a decided turn for the hackneyed; the puzzles hadn’t really improved; the settings seemed to have less and less to do with the fantastical ancient world; and so on, and so forth. The series went downhill from stage one, and kinda bottomed out to some of the stupidest, weakest gaming I’d ever encountered – and I’d played “Duke Nukem 3D”. They used Lara’s sex appeal (which had always been, let’s face it, minimal) as a vehicle to sell pretty shitty games. Games, I might remind everyone, that included a fight with a giant T-rex in every installment.

The first news I heard about the reboot of the franchise in 2013 was the controversy about the rape scene. I was disappointed. Lara Croft still represented an icon on femininity in a hypermasculine world to me. She represented – and continues to represent – a source of feministic characterisation (see above, re: badass, no-shit-takin’). How, I wondered, how could developers do that to her? I pictured her tied up and helpless and scared like a kitten. I didn’t follow the story as it developed because I was and am tired of sexual violence and the rage it causes in me. But I bought the game, and I played it. Why?

Lara Croft, man! Lara Croft! See, after Princess Rosella I hadn’t been allowed to be immersed in a feminine identity through gaming until Ms. Croft. (Is she still an aristocrat? She she still a dame? Dame Croft? Damn! That’s even more badass!) I wanted to see if the game – the mechanics, the graphics, the world, the narrative, the survival genre – was indeed better, or if they relied on sex appeal again. Besides, by then the developers had already back-pedalled on the attempted rape scenario.

Well, back-pedalling aside, there is that little scene where she’s hiding and her pursuer finds her and begins mauling her. He’s a head taller than she is, and there’s lust in his grunts. This guy – who is among literally hundreds of men and no women on a deserted island – is a clear image of a rapist. Leaving aside the tired and innacurate narrative of the crazed stranger in the dark, it presents an interesting opportunity for actual survivors of sexual assault to get a psychological revenge on their own assailants. He goes to kiss you, and you bite his neck open. Then he turns to kill you, because you’re “more trouble than you’re worth” and you knee him in the groin, steal is gun (emasculating him a second time in a row), and kill him dead (a third emasculation, but who’s counting?). The entire thing leaves you shaken, but you did it: You’re a fighter. You’re a killer. You’re a survivor.

This is not an opportunity that is often afforded to women in such an immersive medium, and it could prove very cathartic, given proper circumstances. It could also prove very triggering, given the wrong circumstances, but the fact is that the catharsis has to risk the trigger in order to be an effective intrapsychic healing tool.

At this point, I have to acknowledge something: None of any of this healing opportunity can be credited to the designers. It is clear from the language they used a year ago that they weren’t even considering women as players and how we might react. These men (there were no women on the team) deserve exactly NONE of your gratitude.

From that point in the game, everything in it can be said to be about men’s violence against women. Let’s take a look, shall we? (Spoilers, but the game is a year old at least, so no whinging.)

Himiko the Sun Queen

Even by the end of the game, the true nature of Himiko is still shrouded in mystery. The documents you find containing information on Yamatai and the Sun Queen (both of which are identical, religio-psychically) are all written by masculine hands, in masculine voices. The single exception is the series of documents written by her successor, a young woman frightened of the succession. We have, surprisingly, nothing by Himiko herself. We have nothing by the women who ended up on the island, and we know at least two have been there – their numbers are tallied on a wall in the Mountain Base.

Most of what we get is from Lara’s own reckoning and from a madman known as Father Mathias. Father Mathias has co-opted the symbols and sacred spaces of Himiko and Yamatai in what can only be described as a desecration of what would surely have been a much less violent process. I mean, is there a fire ritual? Sure, and we get that knowledge from Himiko’s own tomb. Is there a secretive and frightening succession tradition that involves looking upon one’s successor as a mirror in a kind of religiously induced schizophrenia? Yeah, there is. Is the religion xenophobic and misogynist? Well, there’s no way to really tell, but why would it be?

It’s the cult: a cult of men who tie women to stakes and burn them alive – all the women they meet – in order to “honour” Himiko. There are no women in this cult – they all get sacrificed to men’s desires (i.e. the desire to be away from the island). And is this a fitting honour for the Sun Queen? How could it be? They never get off the island. Furthermore, there are Oni guarding Himiko’s tomb. Any of the cultists who approach the tomb are soundly trounced. You can hear this while you’re in the tomb. So, if these supernatural guardians are killing the cultists and not, ya know, the woman who’s walking around in the tomb and opening the damn sarcophagus – what does that say about the effect of these cultic rituals? This is evidence that the cult of Himiko is a desecration to the name of Himiko; and that desecration reflects pretty well everything patriarchal religious orders have done to every single feminine divinity, spirit, and prophetess (Maria Virginia notwithstanding, although…).

Lara Croft as Sexual Violence Survivor

Again, there’s absolutely nothing to recommend that the game designers did this with any degree of consciousness. They had no problem portraying themselves as completely oblivious to women as gamers, much less as actual, employable people with real concerns and full intrapsychic lives. What I’m giving is an available reading of the game based solely on what the game is, not what it was “intended” to be.

I have established the violence that Mathias’s cult does to the sacred feminine expressed in the Sun Queen’s living spirit, and I have shown the way in which that retracted rape scene is still, indeed, an attempted rape scene. Let us now look at what it means, psychologically, to be Lara Croft on Yamatai.

From the very beginning of gameplay, there are dream-like qualities to the profaned island and its dangers. There are prolific numbers of candles (phallic symbol) for which, whence the wax? All are red – colour of passion – for which, whence the dye? (Perhaps, you say, blood? Which requires an even greater technological investment to keep from coagulating, especially under heat, and to keep from turning the deep red of dried blood.) Then, there are the men. Unholy fuck! Where did all these brutal, crazed, evil men come from in one generation? This island is a feminine nightmare of violent masculinity. Your first encounter with an enemy is up close and personal. You can smell his sweat; you can feel his breath. It’s a matter of life and death – the way rape is perceived at the time thereof. And he’s trying to get on top of you.

Over the course of the game, the single most dangerous aspect is the men on this island. Those who resist becoming this way – Grim, Roth, and Alex – all die. It’s true, Whitman dies, but his ego and greed and cowardice all speak of a banal reflection of the kind of profane masculinity we’re talking about here. As a result, he’s removed from the mortal coil by an Oni – which, I have established, are the defenders of the honour of Queen Himiko. Jonah does not die, but he also proves himself to be of a Lunar mindset. He’s a peacemaker, and what’s more, a man in the Lunar is a peaceful opposite to a woman in the Solar – a Sun Queen – so Himiko may even see him as a kind of husband and protect him. Reyes is of a relatively violent Solar mindset, but she’s a mother and, as such, is immune to the corruption of the Solar. Sam? Ah, Sam.

Here is an island filled with infernal Solar masculine energies, feeding off the desecrated spiritual remains of a Solar queen. They are the single most dangerous things on the island. And Lara has to fight them all.

Then there’s the matter of Lara’s favourite weapon. It doesn’t matter what your favourite weapon is, Lara’s is the bow. It’s the first weapon she finds; it’s the first weapon she upgrades; it’s the first one she becomes expert in; it has the longest and most accurate range; and it is the most diverse. There is no better weapon in Lara’s limited arsenal than the bow. Even the sickle-like climbing hook isn’t as good. Within the realm of narrative and deep psychology, Lara’s use of the bow puts her in good company. Think Katniss Everdeen; think Hanna; think Artemis.

Artemis, Greek Goddess of the Hunt, Goddess of the Moon, Goddess of Virginity. In terms of archetypes, Artemis has the highest claim amongst these badass ladies. All are aspects of her, even Katniss (who is also a gender-reversed Theseus). The bow of Artemis represents the impenetrable feminine; the sacrosanct feminine; the self-owned feminine. Lara may kill her first man with his own phallic tool, but the best weapon in the game, and the one that promises the best results for practically everything, is the bow. And because this makes Lara an avatar of Artemis, fighting against men who would violate her (violence=violate – see how that works?), one can see how she is fighting against sexual violence.

Lara Croft as Woman Gamer

The sexual violence perpetrated against women online, especially gamers, is well-documented. We tend to be a target of a vile subculture of snide, sniveling monsters drunk on their own power fantasies and enraged by the fact that said fantasies haven’t come true yet. It’s a terrifying experience, especially when it spills over into the physical world, and it so often seems as though there’s nothing we can do about it. From a deep psychology perspective, it is a survival situation with very low odds. Something like Lara’s quest through Yamatai.

Every step this young woman takes is fraught with the peril of being discovered, and shot – all the while having insults and threats thrown at her. And what’s the reason for this? Well, she’s escaped from some sacrifice, but that’s not it, is it? They’re not angry because their Goddess will be displeased. Otherwise, they’d call her the sacrifice. What do they call her instead? “The Outsider.” In the midst of all the hatred and violence, whenever Lara’s identified by these monstrous cultists, they refer to her as “The Outsider”. They rejoice when she’s wounded; they rejoice and call to their “brothers” when she dies. There can be no doubt that they think they know exactly what a woman is – through their corrupted imagination of the sacred feminine – and they despise her for being outside of it. They despise her for being other.

Much has been said about the othering of women in gaming. Much has been said about what it is to be a “girl gamer”, which is not an authentic gamer – because, you know, pussy. The abuse of so-called men against women simply for being women, especially in the gaming communities, is sheerly staggering.

Sometimes, there’s just so many of them and they keep coming out of the woodwork and you wonder if it’ll ever end. It gets enraging, and exhausting, and it’s pretty scary if you’re immersed in it. The noise is, perhaps, the scariest of all because you can practically smell the bloodlust. Trying to hide from these men is nearly impossible, and you know if one even catches a glimpse of you, you’re in for some unmitigated hate. And they’ll destroy any man who tries to help you defend yourself. (Is it clear that I’m talking about the game, now? No? That’s interesting.)

And, again, how can we possibly expect a development team who didn’t think enough of women to consider hiring even one – how can we possibly expect them to have thought all this through? We can’t. I, personally, would need to see design notes that said this specifically. And even then, I’d treat them the way Republicans treated Obama’s birth certificate, and with far better reason. By grace of Goddess (let’s say, Artemis, for specificity), all of the above is what Tomb Raider 2013 does incidentally. I love this game, and I want lots of women to play it.

But here’s the thing. Write the developers. Demand that they hire women for their core design team. Tell them that you want to play their games, but that you can’t unless they employ more women. Tell them they got lucky this time, and that without improving their hiring practices, they can’t possibly hope to achieve this kind of excellence again.