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From T.O.P.Y Canada

Even before I became consciously involved in Magick the underside of bridges always produced very unusual mental states. These were interesting but I wanted to see if I could come up with something more systematic/useful involving bridges.

The bridge is a structure which can seem abandoned although still in use by traffic. Under a bridge there are columns and slopes and whatever else the terrain consists of, perhaps a river. The point is to redefine the use of the bridge, take over psychick structures. This lack of use parallels the role magickal information is placed in todays society- the unused parts of our brain. Under certain bridges there is a feeling of stepping past the usual confines of the social/historical model daily life is crippled under. The Scandinavians had trolls, magickal beings who lived in tunnels and under bridges. You don't actually have to live under a bridge or inside a subway tunnel to make use of them in a ritual. Why should the magician have any resemblance to robed figures carrying wands and tracing pentagrams, especially since so many have covered this area before? Finding something that works for you is the most important part, the figuring out can come later. Everyone has something unique to themselves and their situation that can be used in a ritual. Redefining and personalizing found junk is another suggested technique along these lines (scrap metal, abandoned electronics, used packaging, dead animals).

When I started becoming obsessed with bridges one of the things I did was to paint graffitti on supporting columns. These were highly charged, very personal images which came spontaneously at the site. I did all sorts of strange things after that, the images seemed to unleash all sorts of wild energy. Later I heard about the function of totems in certain tribes and how it related to growing up in a tribal society - rites involving the transference of the youth's soul to his totem. This accomplishes the "death" of the youth. With infusion of life from the totem the youth's system gradually recovers. Each time I returned to my graffitti/totems it seemed I was tapping into some powerful timeless energy. It was as if I was drawing information through the drawing itself from the perceptions of the bridge. The bridge was a reservoir. Perhaps the whole valley system in which I found these bridges, carved and shaped unconsciously by city planners and developers, is a contemporary equivalent of the totems of aboriginal tribes. The "information society" contains an intelligence most of its "cells" are unaware of. Ritual use of the outdoors seems natural in North America. For me, growing up in Canada, the outside has always held a strong magnetism. In Europe it's probably quite difficult to find areas to conduct private rituals outside, practically impossible in cities. Most North American cities, on the other hand, have generous tracts of land allocated for parks, etc.

Taking the plunge. Jumping off bridges has always been a popular way to commit suicide, reinforcing the image of the bridge as a gateway between different worlds. In Carlos Casteneda's books on Yaqui Indian magic jumping off a cliff was a major initiation - you either assembled yourself at a different location or you died (or if you were a very advanced seer you would disappear into another dimension).

Of course there is a reason why most "normal" people would rather jump off a bridge than conduct a ritual under one. The Roman word pontifex, from which Pontif originates, means "buider of bridges". A pope was meant to be a bridge between two worlds. On the other side of the good/evil coin devils were reputed to particularly enjoy taking part in the construction of bridges back in the Middle Ages (for payment in cats). The Israelites made the bridge into a sign of the Covenant between god and his people, and in China it was the sign denoting the union of heavan and earth.

Can a figurehead really be YOUR bridge? T.O.P.Y is not a substitute religion, it is a receptive place for experiences and ideas which would otherwise have no place, no place in modern society and no place in a culture which exalts itself above organic processes. Here we can reclaim ourselves and reject the fossilized totems of power, money and fear inherited from the past.

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