Elven Avatars, Machinima Codes & the Mytho-Spiritual Subconsciousness. Interview with Celestial Elf (London) by Willi Paul. Co-Presented by communityalchemy.com & openmythsource.com
“As a Light worker, painting with light frequencies, ideas and sound vibrations, seeding alternative responses, even just inviting people to step outside of their routine daily rhythms, I see this as contributing to a process of facilitating global change by a very small degree, by supporting a gradual consciousness raising campaign.
Seeking to identify with these sources in 'my' life, I have been consistently guided to the Ancient traditions such as Druidism and Wicca with their nature reverence and all inclusive philosophies, and to the Intuitive and path-finding mystical ways of Shamanic and Elven peoples in fact and in fiction.”
-- Celestial Elf
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Interview with Celestial Elf by Willi
How much pleasure is there in the technical aspects vs. writing content for your creations?
Great question, actually for me the technical aspects can veer towards a white knuckle ride.
Conceiving the seed of a new idea is hugely rewarding, giving rise to a whole new perspective on some matter, as is the process of researching to flesh it out with reference to actual fact or historical tradition and turning that into a poem or short script for film.
The pre shoot process is fun too and includes configuring the locations which will be used in a film (and getting permissions to use them) arranging the actual animations and sequences to follow for each scene, then recruiting willing actors, juggling trans global time-zones so that we are all on-line at the same 'real' time for filming, this is kind of like shopping, the getting stuff section of production.
The actual shooting of scenes can by contrast become almost harrowing, as I am constantly under pressures primarily of time, as the volunteer actors need to go soon, or have misunderstood the cross-world time zones and not shown up yet, or, the computer is glitching and may crash due to the strains of running too many high usage programs all at once, i.e. the Virtual World, the Screen Recording Camera, The 3D camera, and any additional software essential for the filming (any other is turned of for the duration of filming).
So I try to get all my takes done swiftly, but further complicating this is the problem that each new scene demands I source and set up the animations to be used, arrange the camera angles and whether pan shots or zoom should be used etc. Then preparing the 'wind-light' settings per scene i.e. the sun/moon, sky, sea and atmosphere settings. Adding to this is the fact that I should shoot maybe 3 or 4 takes per section of a scene, in case some do not render out well, or the 2nd or 3rd take is better.
Finally the editing phase which is very exciting and lots of fun, as this is where I collage together all my screen footage and sound files to create the story I have in mind, a very rewarding process.
Please estimate how much training time and money it could take to learn basic Machinima?
To make basic machinima could be learned over a few hours.
In terms of costs and equipment, you would need an account with and to then download the Virtual Reality world Viewer such as Second Life, or InWorldz, which are free, although you may want to link the account to some method of payments as they have their own in world currencies for buying items such as clothes or creatures.
Alternately some folks avoid buying anything and just get by on the many freebies that can be found in the environments. Once you have learned how to control the movements of the Avatar and how to get about in the world, could be an hour or so, and have dressed and arranged your Avatar according to your wishes, then you would be ready to begin your initial filming...
For this you would need a Screen Recording Camera and among the machinima makers most I talk with use and recommend FRAPS because of its high quality image capture and low lag rate in terms of cost to the filming.
(Lag is when a software impacts the Virtual World to make it slow down and run with jolts and freezes rather than smoothly)
FRAPS also provides a free version, although to remove the embedded watermark, and for ability to film longer sequences, you may wish to buy the full version. Once you have recorded your AVI or film files, you will need to edit them, and for this purpose I use Serif Movie Plus X3 which is a relatively low cost option that has a fairly high end capability, but there are many more film editing software available depending on one’s skill level and budget.
More on the equipment needed and how to set about filming a machinima at my blog: celestialelf.blogspot.com .
Why the Elven, the Arcane, and the Ancient Ways?
I have always communed with nature on an intuitive level and surfed the great tides of psychic and spiritual energies that circle the Is of Creation, and in my formative years I had sought to reconcile why mankind's modern world seemed so devoid of heart and compassion towards its residents, each other and life around them.
To this end I became an amateur ethnographer and cultural critic, which led me to become an intrigued student of the many cultures underlying philosophies and ethics, their religious world views and thence to their sources, the Infinite and Immanent beauty of the Totality.
Seeking to identify with these sources in 'my' life, I have been consistently guided to the Ancient traditions such as Druidism and Wicca with their nature reverence and all inclusive philosophies and to the Intuitive and path-finding mystical ways of Shamanic and Elven peoples in fact and in fiction. I find myself surrounded in this world by people and societies steeped in fear driven by an almost authoritarian materialism and an accompanying need to be accepted for most, and an intellectual game playing at the expense of the others for the few.
Such a world is still propagated by the Orwellian mass media of television, cinema, radio and print continually broadcasting a spiritually materialist propaganda designed to hypnotize the masses into racing along in Pavlovian mouse-wheel society that serves the shareholders bottom line of profits above all other considerations. In such an environment I feel personally challenged to provide alternatives that will help restructure people abilities to think and choose differently.
I consider this similar to being a gatekeeper, and I endeavor to open as many gates to the inner world as possible, by simply making clear that there are alternatives and that they are valid ways of looking at the world and of living in it.
You can find some of my researches into the Ancient ways at my blog The Dance of Life.
Is rock music a codex for the new sustainability world?
Although I have used rock music as soundtrack in some of my films, the matter of Rock's unbridled release of powerful libidinal energies had been a concern to me in regard of the short term sense gratification lifestyles and subsequent world that this could generate.
However, contextualizing such music within social groups and societies, I would say that as we culturally mature, we guide each other in our evolving values and in this light such music can become a rallying point and vehicle for both progressive ideals and for individual identity, I'm thinking of my early experiences with the music of Jon Anderson, and my later ones looking around at the influence of modern bands such as Muse.
But the far reaching power of music being what it is, from the meditative Tibetan singing bowls to classical harmonies and even thrash metal, all these forms of communication have their value. Nothing exists in a vacuum and everything is contextually endowed with meaning, thus constantly changing according to its context, this is equally true of all forms of music and of how they are used, therefore I would be reluctant to prioritize any form over another.
You seem to be a paradox! You talk about your “modern mythological Machinima mission” but stress your ancient Celtic and Nordic influences? Do I see this right?
I am glad to think that my approach to the world and my machinima within it may seem paradoxical as by its nature this means that they set people to consider how the issues I try to portray may be relevant to them and their modern life.
Once people are drawn into thinking about something, anything, in a new way, then the battle is over and they will eventually think for themselves.
Questioning received wisdom where it fails the heart, rejecting proselytizing dictates where they are clearly against the freedom of thought and expression of the individual, the life of the society and its culture.
Drawing on and re-presenting the Ancient, Elven ways then is not a paradox for me, as I consider that 'modern' mankind has strayed a little from its self evident and inherent inter-relationship with Nature and Cosmos.
In my view, this modern life is actually a false personae that humanity has been hypnotized into adopting, championing spiritual negation in favor of self gratification under the materialist regime of a fear driven consumption to find meaning and identity through possessions and of perceived power over others. This is not to say that I oppose the technology of these modern times or the tools it provides us with, but rather suggest that we need to be conscious and aware of the consequences of our choices in using any tool in a given way, and the bottom line here might be to remember the causal links between us all and the wonderful example provided in the butterfly-chaos-theory example.
Yet despite the serious aliment currently afflicting our species, our spirits continue to commune with eternity and even though many apparently lack an awareness of this, I think that it may be our reason for being in this realm, to reconcile the two forces of spirit and matter, to borrow a phrase; As Above, So Below :D.
At the very least if we learn together to make cultural choices and take action based on the Ancient Life and Nature reverencing ways, then we shall not be metaphorically and literally sawing off the branch that we are sitting upon ha ha.
And: don’t we need new myths and heroes bases on today’s realities / fears?
As the mythic is a subliminal and Archetypal energy form who serves to convey guidance and insight from the Is of our ultimate selves to the ego of our matter-bound 'conscious' mind, so it is irrelevant what style or historical period we dress our messengers in. This is apparent in the fact that many 'modern' myths and heroes are in fact embodiments of the same archetypes of yesteryear, just renewed for a modern audience.
That different costumes, masks and cultural dialects are employed however can be a useful tool in reaching these new audiences who have yet to actualize an awareness and understanding of the magical and many layered influences informing even the ordinary moments of everyday.
Do we need new myths and heroes then, yes and no ha ha.
Are you a J. Campbell fan? How do we re-charge his ideas for the twitter + avatar age?
Yes I have read J. Campbell's excellent book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, but if I consider myself fan of any ethnographer or spiritual author it would be of Allan Watts, all of whose books have a wonderful way of explaining cosmic complexities in a simple manner.
I would also recommend Chogam Trunpa's Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, and Ram Dass's Be Here Now. In regard of how these ideas are reformatted for the electric age, in my case I make stories and poems into films through which I hope to seed theses principles and share them where ever there may be an interest....
“My intent is to furnish our modern imaginations with a lively alternative to the market driven forces of consumer led materialism.” What are your foundation values / principles?
Many of our Ancient traditions which have embodied valuable lessons and guidance of how to live in constructive communities based on cooperation with Nature have been abducted by modern and market forces seeking to trivialize them as childish diversions or fanatical perspectives only.
My contrast here would include most of the saccharin sweet creations of the Disney Empire and similar, against the insightful work by Bruno Bettleheim, in his remarkable book The Uses of Enchantment, which explores the psychological value of fairy-tales and myths, significantly including reconciliation of the darker elements of life, such as misfortune and death.
Without the ability to incorporate and embrace such situations, the individual would live in an infantilized condition and never necessarily reconcile their place in a larger and incredible Cosmos. Against this dilemma and as founding principles for a simple answer to a complicated question, I followed the western humanitarian traditions founded in the Enlightenment of Renaissance Europe to its roots in the Polytheism of Classical Antiquity, and from there into the wider Ancient Traditions of organizing a culture and society to cooperate with Nature, which makes sense perfectly, as modern science is now beginning to recognize.
Further to these sources, the ritualized practices of Tibetan Buddhism, the anti ritual of wisdom of Zen with its inscrutable embrace of the infinite moment, and of more modern New Age developments such as the re emergence of a nature based Druidic/Shamanic sub culture and the intuitively guided Light workers reaching around the world have all lit my path.
What modern rituals and traditions work for you?
In regard of modern ritual, I would suggest that these are unique to every individual and necessarily based on their own reconciliation of their cultural origins with their own aspirational ideals.
In my case, I simply endeavor through mindfulness to be ever present in the moment and simultaneously not restrained by any formulaic adherence to any dogma or prescriptive perspectives, although when the occasion presents itself I do delight in all sorts of traditions and cultural festivities.
But in a nutshell I would say that I have the courage to follow my heart, and that the key guiding principle here would always be Love.
Is Sci-Fi a viable basis to create new myths? When and when not?
I'm not sure that there are any new Archetype available in the mytho-spiritual subconsciousness, because after all in this human form we are limited by our physiology, psychology and spirit. Certain realms may remain out of reach then, at least until we move beyond this frame of reference.
And yet within this non diversity of underlying archetypes, one of the many miracles of existence is that when each person opens to these new/ancient ways, each and every experience encapsulates the wonder of Infinite Being and we may say that the sleeper has woken.
Therefore the myths and their heroes may remain essentially the same throughout history, just that the method and presentation may change to suit each varying micro culture. To this end, Science Fiction is as good a vehicle as any other.
Do you see much sexist and war-drenched aggression and warring in your world?
Whilst I couldn't claim this current almost distopian wider world order as mine, but yes via the medium of twitter news updates as well as corporate media broadcasts I am aware of the war and sexism raging rife in this world today.
And via such excellent books as Naomi Logo's No Logo, I can also see how these same values underpin and control trans-global business magnates and the governments they have in tow. I see these values daily percolating down through the mass media and partisan misinformation channels to reappear in the many individuals around me. But I also see the heart and the hope in these people and in this world and I consider it a duty for all who are able, to help each other in any way they can, to rise together in peaceful understanding towards a brighter today.
As custodians of this world, we may choose to live in harmony with our world and to leave behind us a world worth living in.
Is your work digital alchemy? If so, please detail.
Yes, for me, my machinima is digital alchemy ha ha.
As a Light worker, painting with light frequencies, ideas and sound vibrations, seeding alternative responses, even just inviting people to step outside of their routine daily rhythms, I see this as contributing to a process of facilitating global change by a very small degree, by supporting a gradual consciousness raising campaign.
Drawing people into a wider world view, preferable to the smaller short term perspectives that many appear to have been taught to internalize and obey. That we may move onwards to develop along our own opened paths.
Machinima provides an “… infinite scope of modeling and inner world expression.” Please explain this.
That the medium of a Virtual World environment allows for relatively limitless creation of environments, Avatars and situations within the confines of the operating system, allows people to explore and share ideas that may be impossible in the 'real' world with its physical constraints.
Through such freedom of expression, a vast amount of possibility lays ahead, curtailed only by the imaginations and capability of those who are doing the modeling.
So the next question after this could be: what do people want to say?
“... avid decoder of the Ancient Myths and their meanings.” Please give us some examples in your work.
In regard of my decoding of the Ancient Myths and their meanings, I offer my attempt to reclaim 'Santa Claus' from corporate Americas soft drinks advertising campaign or the Christian tradition's identification of his origins as steeped in a Catholic Saint Myra, and via reformatting the popular Night Before Christmas poem, to my rewriting and then filming of this poem, I aim to reflect the more authentic Ancient sources including Odin and the Yule in my machinima film The Night Before Christmas Or Yuletide or Such....
Another example would be my Druid's Dream which provides a context to consider Elven peoples of the OtherRealms both as real, and also as only accessible via the Shamanic medium of dream.
This would accord with many traditional accounts of how such peoples lived in the Realms between being and were more accessible to this world at special times when the veils between us were thin, such as twilights, dawns and various Equinoxes.
Finally I would present my Eostre/Equinox machinima which serves to re-Image the traditions of 'Easter' time, connecting our traditions with their life affirming origins celebrating the power of Spring and the gift of New Life.
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Celestial Elf Bio –
To Introduce myself, my name is Celestial Elf and I am a machinima film maker focusing on the Elven, the Arcane, and the Ancient Ways.
Celestial, because this denotes the heavens, the freedom of the skies and the beyond, so when using this name I am identifying myself as a non partisan anti-proselytizing free spirit. Elf, because of my affinity with the ancient Celtic and Nordic origins of the term, describing semi-divine beings endowed with magical powers which they use for the benefit of mankind.
My interest is in Re-Visioning the Ancient stories and their memes in modern life (as well as Sci-Fi or other more Spiritual subjects), exploring these cultural touchstones to assist people in visualizing and thereby actualizing more positive, life based and nature linked ways to deal with life, relationships and with the sacred world all around us.
My intent is to furnish our modern imaginations with a lively alternative to the market driven forces of consumer led materialism. No expert in the ancient ways I readily admit to being an intuition led follower of inner Spirit, and whilst I do recognize the purpose and value of rituals and traditions, my claim is that these are all tools to help us all open ourselves to the higher ways.
I am therefore also an avid decoder of the Ancient Myths and their meanings, always delighted to find and then share any practical insights gleamed from the Ancient tales....
I do this via the simple medium of machinima films. Machinima, or Machine-Cinema, is animated filmmaking in a real-time virtual 3D environment filmed within a Massively Multiplayer Online Game or MMOG.
One reason for this choice rather than making short films of wonderful sunsets or collages of photographs set to poems and music, is that the virtual reality medium allows for a relatively infinite scope of modeling and inner world expression, because the characters that we create, or Avatars as they are called, can be anything you can think of, they can fly, be a dragon or unicorn, or whatever suits the story you may wish to explore.
By contrast with computer graphic artists who may spend years training in animation, modeling and effects, machinima is also easily accessible, requires very little capital to start, and looks better and better every year as the MMOG's software is improved, thus similar quality productions can be done in a tenth of the time for a hundredth of the budget. For any who may be interested, although only a hobbyist machinima maker, I am also a moderator of the Second Life Machinima Guild, which is an open group
Increasingly, as my capability improves, I have been able to invite collaboration from others on various projects, including my recent Eostre/Equinox machinima film, for which the acclaimed New Age Folk Singer Lisa Thiel had given her approval for me to use her Ostara song from the album The Circle Of The Seasons.
Among my eclectic range of influences I would include such poetry as:
J.L. Stanley's Catechism For A Witch’s Child
When they ask to see your gods, your book of prayers,
show them lines drawn delicately with veins on the underside of a bird's wing,
tell them you believe in giant sycamores mottled and stark against a winter sky,
and in nights so frozen stars crack open spilling streams of molten ice to earth,
and tell them how you drink a holy wine of honeysuckle on a warm spring day,
and of the softness of your mother who never taught you death was life's reward,
but who believed in the earth and the sun and a million, million light years of being.
More at my You Tube channel here: Celestial Elf machinima maker
Thank you for the invitation to share a bit about my modern mythological machinima mission.
Celestialelff at googlemail.com
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Do drop by the openmythsource - reservoir. Celestial Elf and Willi will be there...