so, i don't know if you guys have heard about this, cause it's still sort of a new development (maybe over in the UK you're hip to it) but a small node of chaoists and discordians led (sort of) by Fenwick Rysen created a time magic sigil in 1995 called fotamecus, which has over the last decade evolved rapidly to become a sort of demigod. now, this process of spiritual evolution going from inanimate spell to independent thoughtform to greater spirit to godform is fascinating to me, and the relationship between this evolution and the spread of people's use of the spell is somewhat revealing. here's an interview with Fenwick about how it all went down, i'll try to compile a resource guide to spells and rituals associated with this useful big idea and post it in case anybody wants to be part of this ongoing experiment.
Psyche: First of all, do you pronounce it Fota-mee-kus, or Fota-meh-kus?
Fenwick Kaidevis Rysen: Foh-Tuh-Meh-Kuss, but I’ve heard every variant you could imagine. I don’t think it matters much. For me, it was a good four-syllable mantra to hum with most 3/4 and 4/4 songs on the radio while driving.
P: Fotamecus began with a sigil, could you talk a bit about how it came about?
FKR: I wrote an essay shortly before the millennium with all the details, but the short of it was that my Discordian friend Quinn the Mad Prophet asked me one day, “What’s a sigil?”
I’d created a mantric sigil while driving somewhere the night before for the statement of intent, “Force Time Into Compression” and came up with “Fotamecus” as a four-syllable sigilic mantra. Using that I showed him how to create a graphic sigil, which was the original star-inside-box-inside-circle-with-arms Fotamecus sigil; later on we added a squiggly tail with a triangle on the end, when we turned it into a viral servitor, but I’m getting ahead of myself…
Many members of Node Fizzgig, my magickal working group at the time, started using the Fotamecus sigil. It was handy, and it worked. It was results oriented magick at its best. Each of us had a half-dozen odd stories about using it. Eventually, as the sigil became overcharged, we realized it had taken on a life of its own as a minor spirit of sorts: a servitor, for lack of a better term.
P: Was the Node inspired by the Z(Cluster), or separate from it?
FKR: Yes, it was a node of the Z(Cluster), and simultaneously a Discordian cabal.
As we kept playing with the Fotamecus sigil we started to notice patterns in its usage. Common stories included things like using it to compress a certain amount of time – say, to watch paint dry faster – and then, sometime later that day, having a stretch of time expand and seem to take forever. For time compressed, time was expanded somewhen else. For time expanded, time was compressed somewhen else. We got to playing with ideas about time and it evolved into viewing Fotamecus as a spirit of fluid time, whereas the Chronos figure represented a fixed aspect of time.
P: Was the battle consciously decided, or an effect of the entity itself?
FKR: I’m not entirely certain. There is a part of it that was the fact we were all slightly angsty college-aged freaks with a minor grudge against the system. However, the greater part seems to be a factor of setting the Fotamecus effects off from traditional conceptions of time, which were so easily represented by Chronos.
It was traditional for Node Fizzgig to meet Friday nights at my place, watch some weird movie, drive out to a weird powerpoint, do weird spontaneous magick, and then drive to a late-night diner and weird out the staff who didn’t know what to make of our conversations. We spent a lot of time at those diners pondering time aloud.
In the same stretch of time as the early Fotamecus work I did a three month sleep deprivation experiment, meditating several hours a day to keep going. That further warped my sense of time.
It was a great many combined factors like that which were ingredients in a recipe to reprogram our thoughts about time the way we wanted to. We were playing with time magick, and no one out there seemed to have written anything about it so we played on our own, just playing.
P: Why time magick? What was it about time magick that captured your interest as a group, or individually, for that matter?
FKR: Honestly, pure coincidence. It happened to be what we took up, because it was fun and was working. It got its kick-off from a random event, Quinn asking what a sigil was. But as a group and as individuals we took a strong interest in it.
For me and a few others at the least, the ideas of Time and Money were intertwined – the old saying that Time is Money – which tied together the ideas of Chronos and Mammon. Being those young angsty college kids, we resented some of the world we saw ourselves inheriting a world where we’d go trade hours for dollars. So messing with our conceptions of time was also a way of examining and playing with our conception of money.
P: This was in the early to mid 90s?
FKR: Yes, 1995 onwards. 1995-1998 was the main bulk of the Fotamecus work. At the end of that time period, we had established a huge viral network of Fotamecus sigils.
P: And he began to evolve. Could you talk more about his evolution?
FKR: Certainly. That’s the interesting part! We’d had a sigil spontaneously turn into a servitor. We’d watched and felt it happen.
We modified the Fotamecus sigil to make it a viral servitor, the idea being that the servitor can spawn copies of itself. During that modification we visualized all the individual servitors tied together.
P: Could you describe what you experienced in terms of the transition?
FKR: What did we feel? Well, when you use a sigil it doesn’t “talk back”. When we’d charged the sigil enough times it seemed to take on a personality of its own, to start to “talk back” in that sort of telepathic/empathic knowingness you get when working with and talking to spirits. Then one day it was just really clear to us that yes, there was a personality there, and each of us was consistently interacting with what appeared to be the same thing.
P: What did he say?
FKR: He said to play. He took after his parents that way, all of Node Fizzgig.
He wanted to play with time, stretch it, fold it, tweak it, and to spread. It was partially his input that went into the design for the viral network.
P: He requested it?
FKR: That was the other thing; he took on the definite aspects of a “he”.
It’s hard to say. The idea popped into one of our heads, and then it just took off like wildfire
P: When Fotamecus first began to spread, where did it go?
FKR: To whoever used it, which were mostly the folks we spoke to via the Internet. Primarily through the z-list of the Z(Cluster) and essays written for Chaos Matrix. Within a year we had at least 200 known individual magicians around the globe using him on a regular basis. As a servitor he fulfilled a useful niche, just about everyone can use expanded and compressed time.
The idea with the network was that whenever you needed expansion and someone else needed compression – even if you were two isolated mages on opposite sides of the globe – the Fotamecus network would pass the balance off.
The idea behind a viral servitor is that it’s a servitor that can spawn copies of itself. Now they can either go their separate ways, or you can tie them together somehow; picture each one becoming a cell in a much larger body, connected by magickal links that form a sort of network.
When someone heard about Fotamecus and wished to use him, they would draw the sigil and *poof*, another copy from the network would spawn for them to use. When they needed compression, it would “borrow” it from an expansion someone else needed, thus keeping the forces within its network balanced. We found that sort of force-balancing network to be the best for what we needed.
P: It’s ironic that it would need balancing, but I’ve experienced that as well.
FKR: I’ve thought about that a fair bit lately… I think that some of it was that Chronos/Mammon connection. We had our ideas of time tied to our ideas of money, and thus to have in one place we had to take from another.
P: Fotamecus would seem to be subverting Chronos rather than warring with him outright.
FKR: It was subversion in a way. While still working within the format of a fixed clock, time would experientially seem to flow differently. I can’t recount the number of times an hour-long CD would play through twice in one hour. You could never pin it directly to a clock — the clock almost always gave you reasonable times. But the experience of time was different. How that works I truly don’t know, but it made sense to us that it would be fluid; that it would stretch and that we could borrow from one place and fill another.
Once the network was large enough, we began to think of it as a giant neural network, each sigil a neuron and each connection in the network a synapse.
P: And from there he continued to grow.
During the time change in 1997, the last weekend in October, we decided to make use of that hour that doesn’t exist when the clock goes into limbo for daylight savings changeover.
On the time change in October 1997 we decided to do a Fotamecus Empowerment Ritual. We didn’t know what to expect, we just wanted to “feed” him energy to see if he could grow stronger and do different tricks.
We had 13 people present, one of the few times I’ve managed to herd cats well enough for that perfect number. We had folks in multiple circles, drumming to represent beats of time and chanting at various points.
The climax of the rite included the smashing of a clock, symbolically destroying Chronos and empowering Fotamecus. I was the one to smash it, and I palmed a roll of exploding caps under it at the last minute. When I smashed it, the caps exploded loudly and brightly, and rather shocked many of the ritual participants. It spawned the inside joke, later, that “Gnosis is achieved when you pee your pants.”
We didn’t really feel like much had happened after the ritual, though. We banished as normal, and got ready to leave. It had been a clear night out when we started, on a hilltop powerpoint in a park out in the country. The fog had rolled in and the moon had hidden and the air was dead calm, which wasn’t unusual for that part of the coast, but we wanted to go home. As we came off the bottom of the hill, we had one of those experiences that you file under “Weird and Unexplainable”.
Rounding the small pond and coming off the bottom of the trail, all of us, all thirteen of us, suddenly found ourselves under a clear sky with bright moon and the wind blowing just slightly across what had been a mirror-calm pond. At the base of the hill is a bench; as we’d walked up, no one had been on it. At the same time we walked off the bottom of the hill, two ladies appeared on it, sitting and talking. They’d been there the whole time, according to them. We gave them a real start and they asked us where the heck we’d come from. It gave many of our ritualists a real start, too, and scared some of them off so bad they never came back to another of our rituals. The general consensus was that we’d “walked out of the mists” whatever we took that to mean.
P: A Mists of Avalon reference?
FKR: It was a general Celtic reference; many in the group leaned that way. We’d somehow been somewhere else but parallel, and then when we came down off the hill/powerpoint we “popped back” to here. And it sounds crazy. And it is crazy. But most of the Fotamecus work has been full of crazy.
After that ritual Fotamecus disappeared.
P: When did you notice something had changed?
FKR: For three days none of us could get him to talk to us, or work. We had the sense he was still there, but that he just wasn’t responding.
Three days later when he started working again, it was with a much greater efficiency. Our sense of it was that the network had integrated itself into a single being again — one Fotamecus with many sigilic “arms” rather than a network of Fotamecus sigils. The reports we got from around the globe seemed to confirm that. Other folks were noticing more effectiveness as well. Plus the more people who used him, the larger and more effective he seemed to become.
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here's the second part of the interview with fenwick
P: What was the first sign something was different?
FKR: It was subtle and I didn’t notice it at first. He was just more effective. I’d need or want a specific piece of time compressed or expanded, and boom I’d get it, consistently, and for quite a long while. When others started noticing the same, we knew something had changed. Rather than a collection of servitors, he seemed to have become a single integrated “egregore”.
Egregores are hard to define, but most chaotes generally view them as some sort of spirit that’s beyond the power of a single individual to control, but not yet fully autonomous and self-sufficient. That would be the next stage, that of a “godform”.
P: Could you explain the difference?
FKR: As an egregore, Fotamecus still relied to a certain extent on the people who used him. If everyone had abandoned his usage, he would have wilted, lost a lot of power, and eventually just petered out entirely. As a godform, that wouldn’t be the case. Why? I’m not entirely certain. Theories abound.
P: What prompted the shift to becoming a godform?
FKR: My suspicion is that a servitor is like a baby spirit, needing lots of care and attention; egregores are children or adolescents, able to do much but not yet fully autonomous; godforms would be adults, able to provide for themselves and have autonomy.
The shift to godform… Well, after the Fotamecus Empowerment Ritual I used him for a while then found I’d gained a lot of the time magick skills I needed for myself without him. It had crossed the point to being what now gets bandied about as “open-handed magick”. So I stopped using him.
P: Did you stop as a group as well, or had the group disbanded by this point?
FKR: Node Fizzgig broke about in 1998 and that ended our major workings. I stopped using him myself in 1999. I wrote a sort of propaganda piece about that time, which was published in the IOT’s Kaos Magick Journal, pumping up the conflict between Fotamecus and Chronos as the millennium approached. While I was writing it, I kept hearing him tell me he wanted to go check out the Millennium Dome in London for the Y2K rollover.
At the time I didn’t make too much of it, but now I understand it more. About the time Fizzgig stopped working with him in California, Matt Lee started working with him in England.
P: Ah, the director behind the Fotamecus film project?
FKR: One and the same.
FKR: Matt Lee wrote a proposal for a film to raise Fotamecus from egregore status to full godform. Looking back on it, I see now that Fotamecus, as an egregore, moved from working and relying heavily on one group of mages (Node Fizzgig) directly to another to continue his work. I’ve only pieced this together in the past six months, talking more with Matt about the debut of the film.
Julian Vayne did a writeup in the book Now That’s What I Call Chaos Magick about the creation of the Fotamecus film. Fotamecus Film Majik is the official title.
P: And it worked.
FKR: It appears to have, but I think folks are still holding their breath for the official debut of the film this fall. The work that the film group did with him, all trained ritualists, seems to have given him even more strength. And more than that, the translation into film gives Fotamecus both a longevity and a marketing tool that almost guarantees that he won’t fade away any time soon.
P: Were you concerned when you realized Fotamecus had transitioned from a viral servitor to an egregore in such a short period of (linear) time?
FKR: Concerned? Not really, I think I was too fascinated with it. There wasn’t any reason to be afraid. The whole process was endlessly fascinating; all we were trying to do was to see how far we could push the little sigil we’d started out with.
P: It was fairly unprecedented
FKR: It’s been modeled since, though. A few folks have used the same methods to over-empower a sigil to servitorhood and then push it the same way to egregorehood.
It works remarkably well for generating a purposeful group gestalt for things like intentional communities. Starting with sigils that represent the goals of the community, you overcharge, get servitors who act as guides you should listen to, and then eventually become overcharged to egregorehood where they steer the energies/fates/whatevers that surround the group. Those are somewhat limited in scope, though, and not likely to pass to godform.
P: Do you know of any which have lasted so long, and been as efficient?
FKR : Not that I’ve seen yet, no. I think a part of that is because of the niche that Fotamecus fills. The ability to bend time is a useful concept. It’s something that has a practical role in any magician’s tool bag. It’s also a fairly simple concept. Something like a guide for an intentional community or magickal working group is much more specialized.
P: The aliens of Vonnegut Jr’s Slaughterhouse Five thought so.
P: So, the film comes out in October in England, and you’ll be attending the premiere, I understand? Did you have any part (besides ultimately creating Fotamecus) in the creation of the film?
FKR: I’m still sorting out the dates, but yes I’ll be at the premiere at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival. Matt Lee has a documentary about the making of the film, as well.
My only role in the creation of the film was in turning Fotamecus loose on the world. The film is Matt’s baby, and it’s been fascinating to watch. I didn’t find out there was a film being made until all the footage had been shot!
I’m writing a Fotamecus retrospective for the DVD, and in the process of assembling my notes realized there’s easily enough material for a book.
P: When did Matt start working with Fotamecus? And when did the idea for the film first germinate?
FKR: He wrote the proposal for the film in January 2001. The filming was done in ‘02 or ‘03, and editing was finished recently. Matt would know all those dates far better than I, though.
P: What’s it been like for you, watching your creation change, evolve, grow up?
FKR: It’s been… interesting. I’ve often commented that I feel somewhat like a father. Fotamecus was a magickal child borne of Node Fizzgig, but really pushed hardest by Quinn and myself.
After the empowerment ritual it was like he’d become an adolescent responsible enough to strike out on his own, stumble a touch, but ultimately do what he wanted on his own. When he was younger, it was like we were caring for a spiritual creature that needed the attention and care that a child does. Though he’s always had a punk attitude; takes after his parents in that regard.
P: Recently I’ve heard of Fotamecus turning up in the oddest places, under the oddest circumstances.
FKR: *laughs* That’s always how it goes!
P: I know a few people who say he showed up in a blade, of all places.
FKR: That one’s a new trick on me, but I wouldn’t put it past him. One of our empowerment rituals, “Time Consumption”, involved empowering a cookie with Fotamecus energy and then eating it.
P: With your connection to occult swordplay, I found the story interesting, but I’d never connected him with blades of any sort previously.
FKR: I haven’t either, but if you can fill a cookie, why not a blade?
P: More in line with the Discordian proverb: Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.
FKR: You know, Node Fizzgig never did figure out what genus and species time flies belong to. It was a serious question (well, somewhat serious) during those late night sleep deprived diner runs.
P: What does Fizzgig mean, anyway?
It comes from the movie The Dark Crystal. Fizzgig is the name of the dog-like companion to Kira, the film’s heroine. He’s a big fuzzy lovable critter with a really big bark but who runs at the first sign of danger. Because any node of the Z(Cluster) is encouraged to have a Z in the name, Kirstan, the third of the three initial Fizzgigians along with myself and Quinn, suggested that name. It had a Z, so it worked, and he seemed like a good mascot. Plus, it was a fun-sounding word.
P: It is a fun word. Did Fizzgig serve as a mascot for the node?
FKR: Not really. Fotamecus ended up being our mascot, instead.
We also had “The Fizzgig Egregore” which was our experiment at a group guidance egregore of the type related to Fotamecus. It never took a name or any mascotly aspects, though.
P: Do you have any advice or tips for those who might be interested in getting in contact with Fotamecus today?
FKR: Yes, don’t be afraid to play and experiment. The sole reason Fotamecus was successful was because people were not afraid to play with things. I was often told, literally, that I was “playing with forces I didn’t understand”, but I’m still here, and so are all the others. Generally, when you have the skills to dig yourself a grave in magick, you also have the skills to dig yourself out. By experience, I think the weirdest thing that happened was walking out of the mists.
Reading up on Fotamecus is easy; he’s everywhere on the Internet these days, and the Fotamecus Film Majik DVD looks to be a fabulous ritual tool that I’m looking forward to exploring as well.
P: You mentioned that you haven’t worked with him since ‘99, but do you ever call him up, just to chat? I’m sure he’s been on your mind lately. Or vice versa, as the case may be.
FKR: It’s not so much that I’ll call him up to chat as that once or twice a year when I’m sitting idle some eve, he’ll plop down (metaphorically) beside me, and we’ll catch up. We’ll talk time, my conceptions of it; I’ll bounce things off of him and most often he’ll just chuckle.
He’ll chuckle like he’s got it figured out now, and I’m the one who’s the child. But hey, he’s the godform of time, so I suppose he’d know.
P: Do you still see him as battling Chronos, or has he outgrown such things?
FKR: For many people struggling to break their conceptions of time that battle/struggle aspect is very real. However, for those who’ve got a grip on fluid time that aspect of conflict seems to fade away. It becomes more like just another mode of being, or another tool. It’s not any better or worse than living your moments in fixed time, just different.
Fotamecus is fabulous at presenting himself to individuals as that individual needs to see him. If that’s as a warrior in the battle for time, he can do that, if it’s as the wu wei chrononaut just going with the flow, he can do that, too.
P: As a godform, does he have any favourite offerings?
FKR: Smashed clocks. That’s what we always used when he was younger. We would get the dot clocks for car dashboards real cheap, and destroy them.
P: It’s weird, I’ve kind of watched him grow up too, on the zee-list and experientially, and it’s funny how some things don’t change.
FKR: Another fabulous Fotamecus talisman are those gag watches you can buy that keep time, but keep it backwards – counting backwards through twenty-four hours rather than forward.
Basically, anything that takes the idea and actuality of measuring time and tweaks it, somehow. That seems to be the unifying factor of what works best with him. That could be as simple as a drumbeat kept in time with the changing beat of your heart.
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Registration date : 2009-06-08
ezavan wrote:so, i don't know if you guys have heard about this, cause it's still sort of a new development (maybe over in the UK you're hip to it) but a small node of chaoists and discordians led (sort of) by Fenwick Rysen created a time magic sigil in 1995 called fotamecus, which has over the last decade evolved rapidly to become a sort of demigod. now, this process of spiritual evolution going from inanimate spell to independent thoughtform to greater spirit to godform is fascinating to me, and the relationship between this evolution and the spread of people's use of the spell is somewhat revealing. here's an interview with Fenwick about how it all went down, i'll try to compile a resource guide to spells and rituals associated with this useful big idea and post it in case anybody wants to be part of this ongoing experiment.
Do you think this superior to Philip H. Farber's 'ATEM project'?
"Sacred Activism is the fusion of the mystic's passion for God with the activist's passion for justice, creating a third fire, which is the burning sacred heart that longs to help, preserve, and nurture every living thing." - Andrew Harvey
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i wouldn't call it "superior", but i do think it's rather more remarkable that fotamecus was not intended to become a godform, but simply naturally evolved that way. although the ATEM project is probably more effective in a lot of ways because of its intentionality.
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