A new accessory... Picture

This is something I've been working on for a while and have just recently decided to post.

In early 2010 I went for the second time to the Magifest, a local magic convention here in Columbus. There, I met the talented Eric Jones, who I first heard about through theory11. By then I had in my possession three of his works; Ishkabibble Sandwich, Elevator Cut, and El Cambio Nada. All of these are available through a DVD set he owns, titled An Extension of Me

I was kind of tired at the end of the convention, so I thought "why not" and got the 3-Volume DVD set from him personally. I should have had the foresight to have him sign the DVDs (which we could have done), but as I purchased his life's work, I also made a new friend in M. Jones.

The description claims that there is a specially gimmicked coin included in the set, which is used for one of the effects in it (a variation of the Karate Coin). So I opened it up...


This is the result of my handiwork, after having reviewed it again and again in my head. Looking back, this is exactly what I first envisioned and I am most proud of my work. This is my totem: rosary beads with the crucifix and centerpiece replaced by their respective components. In theory, the necklace can be used as an actual rosary if there is not any other nearby, as the number of beads is kept the same.

It is comprised of 59 oval hematite beads from Hobby Lobby, #2 black-and-red twine from the same source, a triangular component from somewhere I forget and what I refer to as the Hollow Coin. The beads are cordoned off by what are known as rosary knots (really a multiple overhand knot made with the assistance of something thin like a coffee stirrer); the decades and singular beads are separated by 6 to 7-looped knots while the individual beads within each decade are separated by 4-loop knots. To attach the cord to the four attachment points, another 4-loop knot is used, only the cord is doubled back after passing through the metal loop to form a noose stoppered by a single overhand knot. If you wish to make your own, I'd suggest getting a length of cord that you can hang around your neck like a necklace, with both ends touching your feet. You have no idea how hard it is to keep the spacing constant; the trouble lies in the fact that if you tense the string, the knots may move, so when you space the knots, you need to keep them in the fully-tensed state (you get what I'm saying?).

There is a double symbolism behind the totem that lends to the reason for its creation. One interpretation can lend itself to the world of illusion; red and black are the symbolic colors of magic (especially ellusionist) and represent the two colors of suits in playing cards. There are 54 beads in the main loop; four represent the four suits and 54 represents the 52 cards in a deck and the two distinct jokers (normal and guarantee). The centerpiece looks like a work of modern art, which signifies that the times when magic was corny entertainment represented by caped mustached figures wearing tophats and producing rabbits or sawing in half scantily-clad assistants in mysterious (and expensive) gimmicked boxes are mere bygones now; this is the real world, and just as modern art changes the standards of visual media in general, so this generation of magic for the discipline of illusion itself. The black hematite sheen of the beads represents the allure and mystique inherent to the profession (like a smoky mirror to use the term) and finally the gaping hole in the coin is that bit of strange that defines magic taking proven unassailable physical form.

However, there is a darker side to the totem, one just as obscure but also equally meaningful as the above explanations. They mostly arise from the coin itself; upon seeing the coin for the first time, I was immediately reminded to the Hollows from the manga/anime series Bleach. It is like the coin's core has decayed away leaving nothingness in its wake, but personally, I saw it as the result of a more forceful destructive energy, almost as if a shot of unquenchable fire blasted apart the center of the coin. To this end, the coin can be interpreted as symbolizing imperfection. On the other hand, if one were to look at the back side, the proud eagle normally present on the seal is almost completely erased from the coin. Now, those who know me well know that I associate myself with bald eagles; to see the eagle destroyed (implicitly) signifies an absence of self, as if I have lost my self, my name, my identity to life's storms. The coin helps me center myself somewhat, but also serves as a constant reminder of what has been lost. The weight of a wasted life can crush a person’s soul.

The replacement of the crucifix with the coin can also be interpreted as a political statement; it shows that many supposed religions are but a farce designed to enslave the weak-minded. I do not wish to start a religious flame war here, as people are entitled to their own beliefs and opinions, but I will say this: there are those who are so blinded by their interpretation of Scripture that they refuse to look further to the facts, facts that might help them center themselves, if not prevent them from willing physical harm to others. In that aspect, the totem sort of parodies religion, or at least certain aspects of it [should I mark this mature for ideologically sensitive content for this? Or can I allow people to come up with their own symbolic interpretations?]

An even harsher interpretation lies within the placement of the coin; I could have used it as the centerpiece but I chose to place it at the very bottom where the crucifix should be, since (apart from the fact that such an arrangement is the easiest and most intuitive way to attach the coin) it provides yet another meaning to the coin; it is a lament that man has come to worship money in this flawed world. I've seen this in the news, particularly when dealing with the corruption of corporations and governments, but I've also seen this in magic, sorry as I am to see it this way. This is why theory11 came about; the original 11 Masters wished to find a paradise where the art can flourish without the risk of selling out to this blasphemous corruption; finding none, they made their own. In a sense, it also parodies the corrupt capitalism that defines much of this world.

But lo! I have yet another interpretation. The coin may represent the self and body, but the coin has yet a more general meaning. The circle has been used in magical symbolism to represent the world; as I see it, it does. In a sense, then, the hole represents the decay that has set in due to the corruption of the world from all the flaws in society (poverty, murder, abuse of authority, religious war). What is even more fitting is that the hole is even bigger than it should be, at least for my hands. I have small hands and the hole is too big for the Karate Coin effect (and it's not my thing really) so I should talk with Schoolcraft to make another one soon, but to say that the hole should be smaller is in and of itself a desire to see the better in the world, to rebuild what has been lost. In fact, I've imagined myself wearing something identical to this but with no apparent hole but what is the point? It's merely misguided optimism, and in any case, I'd need to drill a hole (symbolic of the flaws of being human) to attach the cord. Better be realistic here.

Not to mention the rest of the rosary as well. I don't exactly have enough experience to do it exactly right (in fact in this iteration I had to hold some of the knots together with krazy glue) but that lends back into the theme of imperfection. The colors of the cord, though at first glance correctly symbolic of magic, also represent corruption (black) and the bloodshed of millenia (red). The beads of hematite are also cold and heavy, a representation of the strict unforgiving ethical burden placed on every member of society. The hematite also ties into the theme of blood, as hematite is mostly iron oxide, the elements of which give blood its red colors. In summary, this can be considered an anti-rosary.

After showing this to :devduphasdan: I was told some new interpretations I had not thought about before. I suppose eagles can be quite deep sometimes:

Very cool. Though I see other symbolism in it as well.

[link] is one of them. It can also be considered another form of the yin and yang since both are opposites and yet coexist. One question I once heard from a Zen book is 'Is a window in a wall or is a wall around a window?'.

The colors differ in the East as well. Red can mean love, excitement, speed, passion and power in some cultures. Red, for example, is so entwined with love in many Asian countries that wedding dresses are red. And in some cultures, black is a symbol of power, wealth, mystery, elegance and even sexuality. Even the gray of the metal can have a meaning such as dignity, security, reliability, intelligence, staid, modesty, maturity, solid, conservative, practical, old age and wisdom.

In the old days, hematite was used in hopes of improving relationships broken, fully or not. Also, it was occasionally used as a source of healing. Also, it helps with balancing the mind and can be used for mental attunement, memory enhancement, meditation, balance of yin and yang, finding inner space, dissolving negative energies, improving endurance and courage. The stone is also associated with Aries and warriors would use them for various reasons. In alchemy it is closely related to iron and makes it a strong relation to the male spectrum of alchemical uses, compounds and reactions. It also is closely tied to the earth out of the four major elements.

Silver, in alchemy, is related to the female as the hematite is to the male. Silver is also an important and common material in alchemy and is related to the moon. Silver has color meaning like the color gray and is also associated with mysticism and calm.

The shape of the triangle can mean a number of things like Creativity Harmony, Proportion, Ascension, Gender, Manifestation, Illumination, Integration, Subjectivity, and Culmination. An upside down triangle can have a number of meanings. It can mean moon, female, passive, cave down, mother and the elemental symbol for water.

The symbol of a loop with an end on it can be related to the ankh and is a symbol of life, manhood, virility, sexuality, the animal bull and a number of other things (not always yiffy sounding, and is not meant to sound yiiffy, but more toward sacred forms and derivatives of life in Egyptian mythology). LOL.

The symbol of the circle can mean Inclusion, Wholeness, Focus, Unity, Nurturing, Cycles, Initiation, Everything, Perfection, Womb, Centering, Revolution, nfinity, Mobility and Completion. It can also mean sun, seeds, fruit, eggs, feminine spirit or force, cosmos, spiritualized Mother Earth, and even portals. When using circles instead of triangles for representing elements, the type you have represents fire. (Air has a dot and not a hole. LOL).

In short, your necklace represents chaos and order, life and death, positive and negative, good and bad, man and woman, etc.... For me it is like taking a Yin Yang symbol and exaggerating the life out of it like giving it a boost of calligraphy with baroque accents. ROFL. ^\/^.

Also it looks tight. LOL. ^\/^.

Furthermore, there are certain irregularities in the cordwork that lend to its uniqueness and use as a totem. For instance, I have since had the cords redone and the color scheme is different, and the sets of knots that separate the four single beads are all different. Furthermore, the way that the coin fits if I attempted to place it on my finger would be different in the real world vs. the dream world, let alone in someone else's dream (maybe it wouldn't fit or the hole is too big and it slides all the way down the finger). Not to mention I alone know the date on the coin and what side is pointing directly upward. Finally, in the dream world, the beads are never cold (no matter how long I leave them hanging out, when placed directly on skin they still feel warm), while this is not true in the real world.

There are three additional details only I know or at least actively remind myself of. Now to start training the totem...

Then again, it might just be a piece of decorative and well-crafted jewelry. Your pick.
Continue Reading: Ages of Man