Virtual Reality Escapism

Persephone - Belleza Ava Skin_001

(Wearing my Belleza Isis mesh body, free Belleza Group Gift skin, tinted Group Gift hair “Lead” from Little Bones, interior of my “Cotswold Village Cottage” from Culprit, dress from Fifty Linden Fridays shopping, “Enchanted Woods Version 3” outside – free update from Studio Skye)

 

From my journal this morning:

August 18, 4:30 am

I feel ok psychologically despite being brain-fried from staying up too late in Second Life again….(skipping boring stuff)… I’m a little upset that one of my roommates is leaving at the end of this month. (She’s the one who ordered our WiFi, so we each pay a third.) But she can be a little annoying sometimes anyway.

 

Sunday morning, 9:45 am

I slept about 5 hours. I don’t remember my dreams.

I was just thinking there are different parts of my consciousness that push for different behaviors, and part of my job as a mature adult is to pick which part to follow. My depressed side might say, “I should kill myself.” My anxious side might say, ” I hate everybody” or “I hate myself” and might make me feel angry or crazy. My impulsive side (aka my Child side,  Rat side or Id) wants to eat, play, and be a brat. (My desire to be snarky comes from a combination of anger and impulsiveness.) My “Higher Self” or “Angel” side wants me to be kind and helpful to others. It tries to envision myself as the best I could be, which is not necessarily possible in Real Life. It wants me to sacrifice my own desires and needs in order to help others, which is not always the most responsible thing to do. My responsible side wants to control and dominate all my other sides, but it’s hard to hear when my childish, anxious or depressed side is demanding center stage. It’s not healthy to only follow one side while trying to ignore all the others, but it’s my responsible side that keeps me employed, socially functional and safe.

My responsible side rules my behavior during my work week (except when I give in to unhealthy eating habits or negative thinking). My responsible side gets less control over my behavior on the weekend. It makes me wash my hair, go to the farmers market, do laundry, get food and gas for the week, take care of business, and go to bed at a reasonable time (usually). My childish, anxious or depressive sides make me want to escape into Second Life. Once I’m in SL, my responsible side makes me sort inventory, make notecards, and chat with other people, so it’s not totally absent. Generally speaking though, impulsive behavior reigns in Second Life .

This kind of Real Life avoidance dynamic is seen in cyberpunk Virtual Reality stories such as Neuromancer (William Gibson) and Ready Player One (Ernest Cline), but I didn’t notice it as strongly in Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson). Before Virtual Reality people escaped into books, sleep, sex, drug use, gambling, watching movies and TV. Virtual Reality escapism is probably closest to reading, TV escapism and gambling. Video gaming escapism is probably closest to gambling, because of the high people get when winning games with a perceived threat of loss. A VR sex addiction would be closer to a porn addiction. Exploring Second Life is closer to reading escapism. Building in SL is kind of like building models, crafting or creating visual art. Dressing our avatars is like a combination of shopping addiction and playing with dolls. (I refer to this as the “Virtual Barbies” side of SL play.)

I used to channel my “shopping therapy” into buying food and items at discount stores. Now I  channel it into shopping at my local farmers market, at Grocery Outlet and in SL. When I feel like buying something might make me feel better, I no longer buy and give away used books, overstock my kitchen shelves, and seldom go out to buy new clothes for myself. There are a few things I buy impulsively in Real Life, but mostly I collect and sort free clothes, furnishings and other items in SL.

I don’t spend much money on SL, but I spend alot of time and mental focus on it. Spending $206 this year on three Premium accounts has provided me with a platform (virtual land and airspace) on which I can create a variety of virtual environments. I currently have a modest-sized virtual house, a roadside bit of woodlands with a nice waterfall and stream, a small laboratory, a small travel agency office, a good-sized park-like skybox platform, a virtual holodeck, and an isolated glass box skybox.

* A skybox is a thing that can only exist in Virtual Reality. It’s generally a box-like room in the virtual sky, isolated from other people and their created environments. It can also be a semi-enclosed platform or house, high in the sky, but allowing a view of other sky-structures. If a building is above the ground but close enough to see the land and let others see it from the land, it’s more likely a tree house or floating building than a real skybox. Skyboxes are inherently more isolated than ground-based structures. The closest Real Life equivalent would be a penthouse apartment or a cabin far away from civilization. *

The group chats and Instant Messages I get inside SL are my equivalent to regular social media. Instead of being bombarded by visual ads on my Facebook page or in my email, I get pop-up messages from my group chats and in Notices at the edge of my screen. Group chat windows can easily be closed and notices disappear from view in a few moments however, so they’re less annoying to me than ads on regular social media. They can be obnoxious during my first hour in SL, but then they can go nearly silent as I keep closing group chat windows that pop up.

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Pagan Yule in Second Life

Broom & Brew

I’m eclectic pagan and I love Second Life, so of course I want to be involved in SL pagan groups and sims. The biggest and oldest is the Witchfest sim/ Artemis Tavern group, which I recommend if you’re looking for a SL pagan group, especially if you’re in the UK. Covenstead is a big group, but their sim has been gone for years, so their group is not really active. The Sacred Cauldron group and sim are pretty good, but their focus seems to be mostly on classes paid for in RL money (which I’m not much interested in myself). Anam Turas is another decent-sized pagan sim and group which is primarily Wiccan, but they aren’t very active either. There’s also the Grey School of Wizardry, which like Sacred Cauldron teaches classes for RL money, though they’re more secular in focus.

I routinely look in Search for pagan groups, stores and sims. Earlier this year I found the Broom and Brew group, which has regular events and  classes. This is a small group, but I absolutely love the classes taught by Lucien on Saturday mornings (10 am SLT/ Pacific Time).  Their meeting place is small and so far only has a few people showing up, but the discussions are intelligent, eclectic, and respectful. If this is a topic interests you and a time that works for you, I recommend checking them out. They also have classes on herbalism and DIY crafts, as well as seasonal rituals and dances.

If you’re a solitary or largely isolated pagan without much connection to a RL pagan community, Second Life offers a virtual environment in which you can connect with other pagans, witches and heathens. There are virtual dances, classes and rituals at various times during the week. You’ll need to have a good graphics card and internet connection to be able to use SL effectively, but if you can do online multi-person gaming, you can probably use SL too. Use the in-world Search function in either the Second Life Viewer or one of the third party viewers to find places and groups that might interest you.

My favorite pagan shop in SL is currently Broom and Brew. It’s not very big, but their items are made with low-land-impact mesh and good-quality textures, obviously by a RL witch with an understanding of what RL witches use for tools and decor. If you’re looking for gothic or pagan Yuletide decor or clothing, also check out the Winter’s Hallows sale event, running until the end of December. Last October the related event was Trick or Treat Lane, which had a hunt for nice freebies put out by the shops. The Winter’s Hollows Hunt items are L$ 5/ each, but that’s only 4 cents US and you can use the Edit function to see what is inside each item before buying it. The hunt item is a light blue frosty snowflake. There are also a few free gifts under the Christmas tree.

More good Xmas freebies are under the tree at FaMeshed, as well as at shops and sale events all over the grid. The FaMeshed group is free to join. There is a table with their October gifts to the side as well.

Not Posting Much Lately

Sorry folks, Real Life and Second Life have been more absorbing for me lately than posting to this blog.

I’m ok. I’m still working at the same temp job. I have a possible health issue to deal with, but no details on that for a while yet. Feeling a bit down lately, but this too shall pass.

I spend more of my free time in Second Life than on Facebook. If anyone wants to get in contact with me there, my name in SL is Persephone Emerald (same as on this blog).

Virtually Free Second Life Premium until Nov. 5

Evan @ Maison de L'amitei - 6-18-16_001

Time to try Second Life Premium membership for 1/2 price.

This is only a 1 month deal, but for $ 4.75 you can join 60 groups and get a weekly stipend of $L 300 (equal to $1.20 x 4 = $4.80). You could spend your stipend on in-world rent, tipping or buying stuff, which in turn helps Second Life creators. Premium members can lease land or get a free Linden Home, and get better customer support. Linden Lab doesn’t offer these half-price deals often, so if you might be interested, you have until Nov. 5th to do this.

If you don’t want to continue paying for Premium membership, just cancel it before your month is up. If you want to continue being a Premium member, I recommend paying for quarterly or annual membership, rather than month to month.

If you sign up with an account that has never been Premium, you also get a $L 1000 bonus, which makes this deal even better than free.

Reality and Rhythm

Nearly New Moon

(Sorry about this entry rambling a bit. I’m taking it from notes I wrote in my journal.)

I’m currently reading American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. Today as I was reading it, I thought my own sense of reality isn’t always normal. Also, if perception is reality, then why do I continue to imagine a conflict between the reality I experience and the reality I imagine “normal” people experience? I know the world is more than mortar and stone. Mortar and stone are real, but so is spiritual reality. The god-forms in American Gods are real too in a way, not just in the imagination of its author.

I believe our gods change over time, as we change and our environment changes. Rather than new gods being created though – as happens in the novel, – I think the powers we think of as gods adapt to become associated with new things and new ideas. Deities of communication, crossroads and commerce, for instance, become associated with the internet, electronic communication, and virtual worlds. Lilith probably started as a Sumerian demon, but has since become a modern goddess of modern women. Odin is All-Father to modern Norse heathens, much as He was to Vikings of old. His modern worshipers are different from old Vikings though, so He must be changing somewhat too.

I believe I have a matron deity who’s name I don’t know. From dreams, I see her as being associated with the sea, with a kind of primal sea of creation, death and rebirth, and with a subterranean sea. Sometimes I wonder if she could be Yemaya, Mami-Wata, Mara or Nammu/ Namma. She might even be Isis for all I know.  I usually see her in my dreams as the ocean itself. The one time I saw her as a person, she had fair skin, but deities can appear however they wish to people. There was a dialog in American Gods in which the main character was asked, “What is a god?” My immediate answer was “power”, so maybe deities can be viewed as concentrated and conscious forms of power? I view all things and all deities as aspects of the one Deity of Creation, but each has it’s own persona and associations.

My reality seems often to be a conflict between “should” and “want”, between hunger and self-control, between imagination and mundane reality.  Just wanting doesn’t make things happen though. One has to gather, focus and direct power. One has to plan, work and believe. What if practical actions were teamed with magical belief and focus? I can burn a candle inscribed with runes while I look for jobs online. I can cast spells before and after job interviews….

There’s a part of my mind that says “Magic isn’t real. It’s just a delusion,…just like auras & chakras, psychic empathy, psychic vampirism, spirits, gods and hope are delusions. Nothing is really real except hunger and death. Everything else is just a trick we play on ourselves to keep us alive and reproducing.” If this is true, then there is no real reason to keep living. I don’t have children. I don’t have a pet to care for anymore. A few people would be sad for a while if I were gone, but they’d get on fine without me.

I sometimes feel like there is a power that’s trying to destroy me. Sometimes I think this is my Devil, the one portrayed on my Soul Collage cards. It tries to get me to lose hope and give up. It tries to get me to kill myself or, if it can’t do that, to make me so anxious and depressed that I can’t do the things I’m meant to do in this world.

The world we live in is so complicated and interwoven that it’s possible for us to have huge effects on other people through relatively small actions.  Maybe I exist in this world to push positive events in small ways?

I’ve been thinking lately of the magical power that must reside in regular places and objects. Magical power isn’t only in what we call the “natural” world, because everything is natural. Some things have been manipulated and crafted by people, but their components (physical and spiritual) are still natural. Spells are ways to gather, focus and direct magical energy. As such, spells can use sticks and stones, pen and paper, pixels on a computer screen, or just the imagination and will of the caster. Using symbols that have an understood meaning to many people (and spirits) through time and place help a spell to more easily direct power, – but everything is symbolic when it comes to communication and spell work.

I recently read a novel called Fifteen Dogs, in which the gods Hermes and Apollo make a bet on whether a group of dogs given human intelligence and language would end up just as unhappy as humans or not. There is a line in the book that I think is an important idea on how both prayer and magic work. It said something like, “Nature loves rhythm.” One dog in the story started praying to his idea of what must be the ideal dog, which he thought must be a real dog somewhere, not just an idea. He began leaving offerings for this ideal dog in a secret clearing, over and over again, until Zeus took notice of him and took pity on him. It probably helped that this dog was the leader of his pack and wanted to be a good leader (because like calls to like). Zeus couldn’t interfere with the bet between Hermes and Apollo, but he did appear to this dog as this ideal dog and told him that when he died, He would grant him any wish he had at that time.

Nature loves rhythm. We can see this is true in the tides and the seasons, in the spiral shape, in the pulse of quasars, in light waves and magnetic waves. Chaos and imbalance have a place in nature too, but patterns, repetition and rhythm can create structure and control.

In magic, rhythm can take the form of a repetitive chant, drumming, or a repeated ritual. If we repeat the same prayers or similar rituals over and over, they probably gain power to catch the attention of deities and spirits. They do certainly affect our minds, since a repeated prayer or mantra can bring calm and better focus. Repeated behavior becomes habit. Repeated thoughts become ingrained. Repeatedly trod paths become roads and highways.

I took off work today to get my car air-conditioning fixed. It cost me $865, but I have to have AC with my long commute to work. I keep worrying about not having enough money. I keep fearing that everything is going to fall apart in my life. I keep fearing I’ll end up homeless and sleeping on a sidewalk or that I’ll end up killing myself. If there’s a Devil that wants me to kill myself, it has my anxiety and depression to use against me. I also have a primal resistance in my psyche that wants me to stay alive though. – Repeated negative thoughts have power, but so do repeated positive ones.

Kaylee Blue

Kaylee Blue profile

Yesterday I had my dog put to sleep. The tumor on the back was growing bigger faster and she had several new open sores that worried me. The vet said that at her age and condition, putting her under anesthesia to do surgery would likely kill her and agreed with me that with summer heat coming, having open sores would be an invitation to flies biting her and laying eggs in her wounds. The vet also said that her internal tumors could rupture and cause internal bleeding. I don’t think Kaylee was really ready to go yet – she still enjoyed treats I gave her, going for walks and playing with my roommate’s pom-chihuahua mix – but I think it was the right time to spare her further suffering in the near future. She also had arthritis and sometimes had trouble climbing up and down stairs. According to the vet records she was 15 years old. She still had beautiful, thick, white fur and stunning blue eyes.

She was named Blue by her first family, who turned her sister and her into the SPCA for chasing chickens.  I named her Kaylee for the girl mechanic on the sci-fi series Firefly. I think the meaning for this name that suited her best was “joyous in green fields”. She chased and killed rats when she was young. She also liked to chase ducks, but never caught any. She liked everyone, got along with everyone, and was calm and easy-going in almost any situation

3 - Kaylee on the sofa
(From her early destructive phase before we got Kira for her to play with.)

Fort Bragg - April 05 01
(Tasha, Kira, Kaylee and Kathrin at Fort Bragg, CA.)

 

I sometimes make up little songs for my dogs. This was one of Kaylee’s

I love my dog and I kiss her on the nose.
She has furry ears and she has furry toes.
She has furry fur that looks like it snows.
I love my dog and I kiss her on the nose.

2-21-2006-06

Every dog has it’s own personality and lessons to teach us. Kaylee taught me to have a positive outlook, a sense of humor, to stand up for oneself and one’s possessions, and that sometimes love and trust don’t start out easily in a relationship, but can still build to deep trust, love and respect. When I lost my home and almost everything I had, I kept Kaylee and we took care of each other. At times she has seem like my only true friend I had left.

I’m keeping her bed in my room and still setting out treats and fresh water for her spirit, in case she wants to come visit. Right now I have my roommate’s pom-chihuahua sitting on my bed to keep me company too. I’ll probably get another dog when I have a stable job and living situation, but for now I’m dog-less for the first time in my life since I was 7 or 8 years old.

Kaylee Blue - 5-21-16

RIP Kaylee Blue – 2002 ? to May 19, 2018.

 

Short Update (poor WiFi)

PICT0692.JPG

I wanted to do a post before this weekend about the Twisted Atlantis hunt in Second Life, but my WiFi connection is so poor that I haven’t been able to take pictures of the items I’ve gotten so far. Last weekend I spent most of 2 days hunting, but only got through 28 shops. (I crash nearly every time I try to teleport and it takes forever for things to rez.) I have Alycia hunt first, then have Persephone pick up the hunt prizes I want for her. I’ve been derezzing other avatars, particles and prims. I have Alycia go hunting as a Twisted cube, which reduces her Avatar Rendering Cost to about 1540. (Completely invisible with no attachments gives an ARC of 0. Wearing just system layers with no attachments gives an ARC of 1000.) The very first prize cube in the hunt has a Twisted Cube avatar, which is a great outfit for hunting, because not only does it lower your scripts and rendering cost, thus reducing your lag and that of other people, it also confuses other hunters so they think you’re the cube they’re looking for.

Work is going ok. A team on another shift broke a warning light in another production room, so we had to clean out our room for that production. Then we had to clean our room again, so we could use it again. Then we found a problem with our temperature, humidity and air pressure monitoring system, which prevented us from working on our product Friday night. The net result is that both production rooms are now behind schedule. Our team is not at fault for this delay though, so we’re ok. Meanwhile there’s an opportunity for easy overtime doing an inspection of tablets for a cosmetic defect. I went to work 2 hours early twice last week and will probably go 4 times next week. Sitting and inspecting tablets for a couple hours before my regular shift is easy, relaxing, and doesn’t cost me any extra in gas.

I’m still feeling depressed sometimes, but blogging last time helped & I feel ok right now. Kaylee is fine, though the tumor on her back doesn’t look great. A woman at the dog park yesterday said it looked “gross”, which just goes to show that idiots with no sense of tact or impulse control can be anywhere.