On the Matter of Hybridity

December 14, 2011 · Print This Article

We are fast approaching the longest day of the year. On the other side of the 22nd of this month, the days will again stretch, grow long. As one day expands past the last, our definition for its bounds nevertheless remains the same. There is something about categorical tidiness that seems especially important to the theoretical order of our species. I want to ask, then, what happens when those borders start to bleed into one another? What happens when languages mix up and churn into hybrid concoctions? And what about something as sticky as race  or sex — where do we locate identity when bounding frameworks are under duress? Muddled with unknown elements. Under this light, the scaffold of our taxonomies become brittle, even arbitrary, for even the border plotted between species are suspect. In the forthcoming series I will talk to a number of artists about their ways in which they investigate hybrid forms of performance, language, science and art. At the moment the series is on-going, but as a kind of initiation I have asked a friend of mine (and Green Lantern author) Erica Adams to write a series of spells for hybridity. It seemed appropriate to use her words as an introduction to interviews I’ll be posting over the following weeks.

Spell to Swim a Great Distance

In the sign of Pisces, in the month of March, acquire a fish with scales the same color as the hair on your body. Place the fish next to your bed, so you may look at it upon waking, and it may look upon you as you sleep.

For one year, you must care for this fish, and for one year you must not shave or cut any hair upon your body.

Additionally, every night before sleep, you must tell the fish something you have told no living soul. The fish will become greatly sympathetic to you.

After one year, take the fish to the body of water you wish to cross, and let it free.

If the fish swims to the right, you must begin the operation again with another fish. But if it swims to the left, you may get into the water as well, while saying:

 

My mother’s water brought me to land

Your water brought me to sea

            May I be unto you, and you unto me

 

The fish will swim beside you, and you will see that its scales have turned to hair, and that your hair has turned to scales. And you will move through the sea as a finned creature, until you reach shore.

 

Spell to Change One’s Face

 

In the sign of Capricorn, on a Saturday, go to a field where three goats graze: one white, one grey, and one black. Pull from them three hairs and tie these three hairs to three hairs of your own, saying:

 

When I join one, I become one.

When I join two, I become two.

When I join three, I become as thee.

 

Bake these hairs into a cake which you divide equally among the goats and yourself. When the goats defecate, collect this in a jug and leave it nine days to dry to powder. Mix this powder with water and apply it your face at sunrise, saying:

 

When I join one, I become one.

            When I join two, I become two.

When I join three, I become as thee.

 

Do not wash your face or speak to any living person for three days. The mixture will dry on your face, and on the fourth day, you will wake with the face of a goat. This transformation will last for nine days time and cannot be repeated with the same goats.

 

Spell to Move about in Secrecy

 

This operation must be performed on a Thursday in spring-time, after fasting for three days. Find the burrow of a snake that has just lain eggs. Take seven of these eggs, and boil them.  Remove the shells, so that the insides remain undamaged. Upon each egg write the words:

 

What was becoming, I will become

                        So I may move, perceived by none.

 

Each egg must be inserted whole into the mouth. The following evening you will feel the top of your mouth itching, and there you will find a seam. Pull on the edges of this seam, and your body will split, revealing itself as smooth and pink, with red eyes and no arms or legs.

In this way you will be able to move about undetected for one night’s time. In the morning you will wake, restored to your original form. You must return to the snake’s burrow and leave seven gold pieces to replace the eggs you stole, as the snake will find you and kill you otherwise.

 

**all drawings were made in response to Erica’s texts by yours truly.

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