November 13, 2011 § Leave a comment
Written in March 2008.
I write this as a favor to a feline person on Trueform Within. She expressed envy of a fae-kin’s presence and glamour, and asked for any tips on mimicking that ability to charm and “light up a room”. I can understand this feeling… and so I’m writing on glamour.
First, an emphatic disclaimer: I am not fae-kin. I have not studied the lore and legends of glamour. Nor have I extensively and methodically experimented with it. I write as one who observes and is good at observing; I write as a dabbler and casual experimenter. At best, this is “armchair magic” – theory, mostly untested, and extrapolation. My observations and experiences are UPG – unverified personal gnosis – sometimes but not always corroborated by the experiences and perceptions of others. Your mileage may vary.
With that in mind, I ask any fae-kin, more experienced occultists, and people more familiar with the lore to give your two cents, point out inaccuracies and flawed reasoning, and add your own experiences.
Let me first attempt to define glamour. The dictionary definition is “the quality of fascinating, alluring, or attracting, esp. by a combination of charm and good looks”, or “magic or enchantment; spell; witchery”. Now, most of the definitions of glamour I’ve seen in a magical context puts it as a type of magic, one of illusion, fascination, and attraction. It is a sort of charm. So let’s define glamour as illusion and fascinating (and by “fascinating” I mean “attracting intense interest” as in “holding someone spellbound in fascination” – a sort of mesmerism and magnetism).
I personally divide glamour into two basic types: “bright” and “dark”. This is more of a reference to how they feel to me, a description of manifestation, rather than a moral judgment. I don’t know if there are better terms, so these are the ones I use.
I find “bright” glamour to be immediately noticeable, and having noticed it, I can avoid being affected by it. Apparently not everyone notices it like that, but I’m speaking from my own experience here. Bright glamour is flashing charm, a flame of charisma drawing people near like moths. The bright fae is shiny, glowing, the center of attention, impossible to ignore. Sie induces feelings of infatuation, fascination in all meanings of the word. Sie is a prism and a fire, entrancing, hypnotic, dancing. This is the fae-magic so typically described in old songs, the stuff that leads mortals into faerie holds, never to return.
Of course, here in the hard physical world, it tends more to lead people into infatuation and obsession, leaving broken hearts when the fae-kin forgets the temporary romantic catch for a new shiny plaything. I’ve watched it happen time and time again at faire. Glamour plays with the hearts and minds of people, and I’ve watched fae-kin do this effortlessly, unceasingly, automatic manipulation with unthinking ease – and half the time I think they don’t realize what they do, and don’t see the trails of broken hearts in their wake. Morgan Felidae (NyteMuse on LiveJournal, a Feri practicioner and fae-kin) noted, “Most fey only actively use very little glamour. It’s more appropriate in a lot of cases to say that fey ARE glamour.” For many fae, using glamour is much like breathing or circulating blood: a very natural, unconscious process.
Then there is the “darker” glamour. It is more a magnetism than a bright charisma. It’s almost like velvet shadows, the enchantment of black velvet and smoky spices rather than that of dancing fire and moonlight. It draws people in as well, but with the allure of the forbidden or mysterious rather than shining charm. It draws the sort of people addicted to fixing, or pain, or those who secretly desire to play on the edge of things and sense that edge in the wielder of shadow-glamour. Jareth the Goblin King from the movie Labyrinth is a perfect example of the use of this sort of glamour. It’s the “bad boy” allure. It’s also the magnetism of the wounded, that hint of “there’s a softness beneath this cold exterior that you can maybe reach” or “there’s hurt beneath this hardness that you can heal”. It’s a far subtler glamour, but equally entrapping and potent. It’s a glamour that I’ve seen come seemingly naturally to demon-kin (of varying sorts, not just Abrahamic) and many vampires as well as certain types of fae.
The bright glamour draws people in by displaying an excess of color and light that others yearn to share, to become a perhaps a little more bright themselves by contact with such fire. The dark glamour draws with a vacuum, speaking to peoples’ desire to be needed. Yet they both manipulate, use, and take. I think it is no coincidence that fae and vampires often overlap; glamour is a most excellent bait to bring one’s food to one’s door. Fae are, I think, integrally vampiric in nature.
Still. The bright glamour is enviable, and that’s part of its lure. It can even inspire hate, in some especially envious people, even as they often can’t seem to resist it. Whether one should succumb to such envy is debatable… but this is not quite a piece on morality.
How to learn it or at the very least mimic it? Let’s start with the mundane approaches first – and let’s work towards bright glamour rather than darker glamour, since that’s what the feline person over on Trueform Within seems to want to mimic.
First: confidence. Or at least the seeming of confidence. The “bright” fae I’ve observed, and non-fae who have a similar sort of bright color, have a certain self-assurance and seeming lack of shyness that is appealing and attractive. I doubt that glamour can be even mimicked without this basis of self-assurance. It doesn’t need to be real confidence; I asked a bright/colorful friend about it once, and she says most of it is fake, a real sort of “fake it till you make it”.
Getting yourself to show that confidence (however fake it might be) can take some work. Figure out what makes you feel more confident or what forces you to be less passive/shy. Elaborate makeup, different hair cuts and styles, unusual clothing – if you can manage to have a physical appearance that is already colorful and remarkable, it might be a little easier to say “To hell with it – I can’t hide like this, I might as well stop acting like I can escape notice”.
Second: physicality. The way one moves, walks, and holds oneself can completely change how people react to hir. If you keep a lowered gaze and lowered head, slouch a bit, and keep to the edges of a hall or room or walkway, you’re going to attract less attention. I used to cultivate this sort of physicality in an attempt to not be seen during middle school and high school; I was a shy sort of kid. If you make eye contact (though not too strong/constant of eye contact, not an aggressive bold stare, because that’ll provoke a different sort of reaction), smile at least somewhat naturally, keep your head up, walk with a bit of a spring in your step – people are going to respond positively to that.
But there’s also physicality to make you more magnetic or attractive, too, other than just the approachable/invisible/unapproachable body language mentioned above. Take some dance classes, or martial arts; it’ll train a certain force and grace and direction into your physicality. Find some person, actor, or character whose magnetism and charisma you admire and study their body language, how they move and walk. Try incorporating felinity or wolfishness or some other animal’s movement style into yours and see how that looks or feels. Nytemuse, an Unseelie fae, suggested that the “bright” glamour “can be mimicked by engaging in open expressive movements that bear a certain amount of grace, so dance or martial arts is a good start.”
Another point from Nytemuse:
“People are attracted to fun, lightheartedness, joy. The truly ‘bright’ masters take joy in the simplest things, so that they radiate no hidden agenda or sense of manipulation…they don’t scream ‘predator’ or ‘puppetmaster’. They are often truly naive and childlike, and that is what draws the eye. Go to a park some time and see just how many people are fascinated by watching a young child play with a completely mundane object or activity. That newness, because zie has never seen a butterfly before, or a soap bubble. It fascinates because it contrasts. Most adults lose the ability to see the mundane as fantastic, so they are mesmerized by someone who can, especially someone they don’t expect that from (someone their own age). That is one of the aspects that makes infants so terribly alluring, is watching them discover everything for the first time, and sometimes recalling what that was like for you all those years ago. To be completely caught up in what you are doing, not worrying about your job or taxes or relationship problems, but just completely taken by the sheer pleasure of the music and dancing…that air of joy is the flame to which moths are drawn. To us, the carnal pleasures are the greatest indulgence, so we are creatures of sensuality. The experience of eating a really good meal, or listening to a heart-rending aria from an opera can be like sex, so we allow ourselves to be taken by the experience of the senses. And that joy, that willful abandonment, is what creates that sparkle.”
This starts to edge into the less mundane ways of imitating, approximating, or perhaps even using glamour. Taking on the traits of someone or something else starts to blur into the metaphysical, depending on your views and how you approach that sort of shift. Here’s where we get into the weird, now…
If you are therian, an animal person, you already have a leg up on learning to use (or rather mimic) glamour. I have noticed that animal people have the allure of things untamed. People have a strange desire to touch, own, and tame the wild and the exotic. We visit zoos and long to touch the tiger, to pet the bear, to jess the falcon. This same desire manifests with therians. There’s a hint of wind and woods and half-feral movement in animal people that awakens the urge to touch/tame/possess. I see my therian friends attract possessive clingy suitors (and this happens to me as well) and be miserable when in relationships with such people. If they’re self-aware and conscientious of boundaries, they get out of the relationship; a half-wild thing does not cope well with cages.
But that is tangential. The point is that there’s already a magnetism and allure to animal people. It’s not glamour, and it’s got a distinctly different flavor, and doesn’t “light up a room”, but learning to control and amplify that natural magnetic appeal might have a very similar end result.
Secondly, Empathic projection can imitate glamour, in a way. I can only explain how I personally project, though; others might be able to better explain this. I find a way to make myself feel the emotion I wish to project, either by simply willing it or finding a stimulus that provokes that emotion in myself (the second works better, for me). I push energy and intent into it, let it build, and then push it outward – either just as a sort of aura about me, or at a particular individual.
Third, similar to the second: Weaving an aura or an illusion about you. I’ve only ever done this for job interviews (and when I get an interview, I pretty much have always gotten the job). I sit, center myself, ground, and then build energy in my center, instilling it with the impressions I want the interviewer to get of me. “Confident”, “capable”, “good for the job” – these sort of things – thickly flavoring the energy with these impressions. Then I build that into a shield, almost like a projection but woven about my body like a second skin. (I don’t know if this makes any sense. I’m not very good at explaining this sort of thing. But I did say I’d try.) This is perhaps as close to true glamour as I get, the illusion sort of glamour. One could probably color this weaving with traits like “bright/shining/iridescent” or “intriguing/you want to get to know me/beautiful” or the like.
The only other way to imitate glamour that I can think of is through an energetic sort of magnetism. Making oneself a magnet that draws others to oneself. I’ve never tried this, and I’m not entirely sure how it’d be done; theoretically, I think one would create a pulling sensation within/around oneself. Rather than just making oneself attractive physically and charismatically, it’d be more of a “come to me/look at me” sense.
Nytemuse made a good point: The way to fascinate is to keep something hidden, show only a portion of the image and the truth. Illusion mixed with reality, something that simultaneously confuses and intrigues. That creates mystery, which intrigues and draws others to look closer.
1. Glamoury is not a lie. It is a coloring of truth, a turning of the facets of reality so that they scintillate. Or, go hidden. Either way works, and while the “don’t notice me” glamour oft is held to be unremarkable, it is still quite significant.
2. Glamoury is a trick; it requires a gimmick, a focus in order to work. One must act in such a way that will fascinate if one would fascinate. One must act in such a way as to be subtle, if one would be subtle. So, if you want to catch attention, draw attention to yourself.
3. Glamoury is like all of the Artes of the Eyes: it requires a change in one’s perspective, one’s view. One doesn’t need to paint a person with makeup or brush their hair, one can simply look upon the person and ‘see’ them as beautiful, and then remark upon a feature that others can focus upon. “You have absolutely brilliant eyes,” things like that usually do the trick.
Incidentally, that’s why most famous glamour spells had to do with social tricks, like Cinderella’s entrance to the ball at the moment when everyone would notice a latecomer. To attract, draw attention. To be ignored, deflect or distract attention.
Please note that the ethics of all this are very debatable and should be thought on before one acts on such things. Also, this is a lot of projection, illusion, and masking; are you comfortable with showing an illusion rather than yourself? With fae-kin, they are that bright; it is naturally part of them, the illusions enhance rather than falsify. With those of us who are not so naturally scintillating, it is not genuine.
A better option might be tying these illusions into a piece of jewelry or some sort of physical focus. Put on the jewelry and you put on the illusion; let it be temporary, removable, and don’t wear it all the time. An act can become you; a mask can become permanent, if you’re not careful.
Another option might be figuring out one’s natural attractive elements and style, and enhance those. That’s rather more genuine, real, and probably more effective. So you don’t light up a room – but perhaps you have a shy, wild allure and feline liquid grace, and by building on those, you can draw individuals to you as you stalk a crowd’s edge. You won’t draw a crowd of admirers, but you might find greater value in the individuals you attract with your animality. You also might find it’s a different variety and quality of attention and notice, and it might (for you) be preferable.