Angelo Colavita on writing as bibliomancy and meditation
How have you used writing as a healing or trauma recovery tool? How does it give you autonomy and self-understanding?
Writing has always been something that has allowed me to examine myself. Taking what’s inside and splaying out in front of me, examining it, analyzing its biology. As a Capricorn, reason often holds the leash to my emotions, but as an addict and survivor of trauma, my emotions resist reason. My psychology is a stubborn puppy. Writing, for me, is meditative. It’s a release and an escape. And when I say “escape,” I don’t mean that in the sense that it’s a running-away from anything. It’s more like a stepping-outside of myself. I can see myself objectively (for the most part — this can be wildly contested), and so with that, my perspective is free to examine myself without all of the artificial biases and self-aggrandizing manipulations one often encounters when locked in their ego. I need that expression before I can learn and grow.
Do you integrate writing into your ritual/spiritual/magical life?
Absolutely. Writing and magick are inseparable. Art is ritual. Spirituality informs my writing heavily. I like to think of it as a communion, of sorts. But especially when we’re talking about process and performance, the things I incorporate into my writing are more often than not influenced directly by prayer, spellcraft, mythology... even the conventions I use can also be found in invocations and scripture and the cosmogonies of various paths. Rhythm, meter, alliteration, anaphora — it’s all pretty much an intentional dissociation toward the sacred. And likewise, my magical practices take on the qualities of my poems as well.
If we put three writers or books into a circle to summon you, who/what would they be?
Haha. Well certainly Joanna Valente. Joanna evokes so many wonderful things in me, so if anyone belongs in that circle, it’s them. Maryan Captan, definitely my oldest and closes friend and one of the most talented writers I know. And I would imagine Cooper Wilhelm. He’s definitely one of the more knowledgeable and capable witchpoets that consistently comes to mind
Is there a single piece/book of writing that has helped to heal you? How has it helped?
I’d really like to give a better answer... like some wonderful powerful poem or miraculous novel or something... but I don’t look at things that way. If I’m being honest, I’m going to have to say the I Ching. It’s not really a “how to” book on healing or anything like that, but more like bibliomancy. I threw a hexagram every morning when I was in rehab (after the first week, where I pretty much just shivered on a cot) and at the time, that was my only real means of staying connected to something that was both within myself and exceeded myself.
The practice of doing that helped remind me that I’m neither an alien nor a prisoner on this planet. The translation I took with me to rehab was by Thomas Cleary, called “The Taoist I Ching.” I’ve read several translations at this point and they all have their strengths and weaknesses. Just like having multiple tarot decks, you have some that speak to you more at some times than at others. But generally speaking, I love the I Ching as a form of divination. Sometimes I just read through it. I’ve even cast hexagrams to write poems. It’s something very dear to me. Like a little sibling.
In Philadelphia the Free Library runs this program called “One Book, One Philadelphia,” which promotes literacy and library use and encourage a larger social dialogue by choosing a single title each year and organizing events and programs which revolve around that. My personal favorite is Mighty Writers. They’re a non-profit organization that provides free reading and writing workshops to kids in low-income areas, where the schools can’t really afford to take the time necessary to do so. It’s all volunteer run by teachers, creative writers, professional journalists, you name it. It’s a really great organization. I think programs like that are great. They’re important. Vital.
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