Into The Labyrinth

For the last year I have strived to produce weekly blog entries on a variety of occult and paranormal topics. Moreso than just an exercise in generating page views, this enforced regime has allowed me a much needed place to reflect on how I got here and what it means to be on this journey into the weird. Opinion, reflection, education, The Vulpine portfolio has created a space for all of these and more. Yet on a personal level one of the most hotly debated aspects of my practice revolves around what put me upon this road to self realisation in the first place, and why I chose magick over sane reality when the time came. Spoilers: I still don’t know for sure.

Considering that my long term memory fades pretty sharply back before my teens, it is intriguing to note that one of the few scenes from my childhood that I vividly remember revolves around going to see Labyrinth at the cinema when I was seven. The venue was no doubt a dingy little East End picture house replete with chewing gum under the seats and dandruff in the popcorn, yet for an hour and a half I was transported to a world where the unreal was made starkly manifest. And more importantly, that unreality made more sense than the hellhole I grew up in.

My parents tried their best to raise me and my siblings on a tight budget and without a road map. Tried, and ultimately failed to give us a good life. Even as a young child I saw the world of the Goblin King as a better option than the slums and ghettos I was forced to inhabit. I spent many hours looking wistfully out of the window, trying to call Jareth and his kin to take me away. Somewhere, anywhere was better than home, even if my absence would ultimately hurt the quickly growing family that was drowning under its own weight. Sadly, I was too young at the time to realise that Labyrinth was just a film.

Cursed with a sharp intellect, an education dogged by dyslexia and an inability to fit in with the rest of the brain dead dross that lived in one of the poorest areas of London, I could not understand why I was not worthy to be free. I roamed inside my own head for many years, playing games with imaginary friends, summoning entire universes into existence in the blink of an eye before dismissing them again just as easily. And all the while I remembered the world that existed just to the left of our own, hidden in the spaces between what should and should not be. A place where I fit in. A real home.

In my dreams I walked barefoot on the cobbles of the Labyrinth, wondered freely through the enchanted forest, avoided the Firey and dodged the goblin guards. Those nocturnal sojourns feel like a lifetime ago now in their innocence, before my dreams were taken from me entirely. Before I watched my whole world fall down around my ears. Bad mojo best forgotten I suppose, but let me put it this way: I have seen some things over the years that no man should ever witness, and not all of them were of an occult nature. As Scooby-Doo is fond of reminding us, the monsters are always human.

So I drifted through a very different labyrinth, one made of asphalt and concrete, the supposedly real world of low paid jobs and failed friendships. I played Dungeons of Dragons, read comic books, became interested in heavy metal music and goth culture. I was still an awkward and lonely teen, yet I tried my best to fit in with people who had little interest in either my motivations or desires. But Sarah’s thirteen hour hike to find her half brother remained a rallying cry in my despair, an ideal world just barely out of my imaginative reach.

It would be disingenuous to say that the film was ultimately responsible for getting me into magick. There are so many reasons why I do what I do, why the dead crowd around me and the mother of all demons was once my patron. Pacts made, blood spilled, pain as currency. Yet as I struggle to make sense of my earliest memories, back before I picked up my first book on ghosts or collection of folklore, I see Jareth and Sarah, Hoggle and the worm. I see the denizens of the Labyrinth, the forgotten children who would go on to become the goblin army. And part of me still aches to join them, even as I crawl towards the end of my fortieth year stuck in a world that was never my own.

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