Glamourbombing

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Stones on a beach arranged in the shape of a dragon claw and words saying "we live!"
An example of a glamourbomb, created by two dragons.

Glamourbombing is a magical practise and performance art that was once common in the otherkin community.[1] It is the practise of performing "random acts of randomness" in order to make people question ordinary reality, challenge their perceptions, instill wonder, and open their minds to the possibility of the supernatural or the divine.[1][2] This can involve performing or dressing up, but most often takes the form of whimsical objects or scenes left for others to find.

While the originators of the term were not otherkin, many members of the original community were, and after this community ended, it was otherkin who kept the tradition alive.[1] The term came to be closely associated with otherkinity specifically, with some people even believing that glamourbombing was part of otherkin's mission on Earth.

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The term is comprised of the words 'glamour', which refers to a type of enchantment affecting perception, and 'bomb', referring to the unexpected nature of these performances.[3] Nalissi, the creator of the term, also notes the pun on "blowing someone's mind".[1]

History[edit | edit source]

A young girl sits with her chin in her hand resting on a mound of moss. In front of her, four fairies are dancing and playing instruments. The photo is in black and white.
One of the Cottingley Fairies photographs, which Nalissi considered to be the "ur-glamourbomb".[1]
Glamourbombing originated on the DarkFae mailing list in 1997.[1] It was inspired by the concept of "poetic terrorism", a concept put forward by anarchist author and mystic Hakim Bey.[4] Members of the mailing list agreed to perform various acts on the summer solstice.
"The community (which included members from all over the world) decided on a phrase, “The Gates are Opening,” which individuals then expressed in varying ways. The founder made small scrolls hand painted with the phrase and tied with belled ribbons and then, dressed in whimsical dress, left them all over the city, tied to doors, mailboxes, trees and so forth." - River Aaland, Feeling Fae[2]
The group continued to do similar activities each summer solstice after that,[2] as well as other "significant dates", as they felt that was when "the veil was thinnest". However, as time went on, glamourbombing became more opportunistic.[1]

The DarkFae mailing list was closed in 1998. A new glamourbombing community was started on Livejournal in 2002 by otherkin who had been members of the original community.[1][2] This community established a "Wings Day" on May 15th, where participants would create wings for themselves and others to wear.[2][5] After the water in the LOVE fountain in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania was dyed pink on May 22nd, 2003, the community also created "Fountain Day" as a date to perform copycat acts all over the country.[2]

The practise of glamourbombing appears to have declined in the otherkin community since then. Jarandhel Dreamsinger, a major member of the community, published a post describing it as "dead" in 2013.[6] Other community members have responded to this by stating that practitioners are simply not publicly posting about their activites any more.[7]

Members of the DKMU, a community of chaos magicians, still actively practise glamourbombing.[8] Dreamsinger referenced a number of their concepts in his criticism of otherkin practitioners,[6] and compared the otherkin community's efforts unfavourably to that of the DKMU.[9]

Philosophy[edit | edit source]

Practitioners of glamourbombing aim for their performances to be positive, creative and inspiring. They see play and happiness as "the ultimate subversion" of a cynical and materialistic society. Simple pranks and mean-spirited tricks are frowned upon. Authenticity is valued, since the intent is to inspire genuine belief in things beyond mundane reality.[1] As a result, many people advocate for the use of real magic in glamourbombs.[6][10][11] Another way that this ethos manifests is in the tendency for practitioners to create the materials for their glamourbombs by hand from thrifted or found items.[2]

Goals[edit | edit source]

Many of the original practitioners of glamourbombing were pagans who saw it as a way to invite spirits of place back into human settlements, and "weave magic and wonder back into everyday life".[1]

Otherkin have also performed glamourbombs with the aim of increasing awareness of the otherkin community specifically.[5][12] Some people even see glamourbombing as part of otherkin's purpose in this world, feeling that they have a duty to bring magic into the lives of humanity.[13]

Glamourbombing is a staple of the DKMU's operations and is frequently used to recruit new members. As such, their glamourbombs are often aimed at attracting people who are already "weirdos".[14] Otherkin glamourbombs, by contrast, typically aim to affect ordinary members of the population.

Politics[edit | edit source]

Hakim Bey's original concept of poetic terrorism was described by him in terms of "art as crime; crime as art". The performances he described as examples of this were therefore often blatantly illegal.[4] The creators of glamourbombing have disavowed the criminal nature of poetic terrorism, and have stated that glamourbombing is "not transgressive or political".[1] However, there is at least one example of an explicitly political glamourbomb: in 2001, Laurel Leaves posted "Initial Communique of the Faerie Resistance Troupe (FART)" to the A-Info newsboard. The communique advised otherkin and pagans to take up the anarchist cause, and anarchists to employ glamourbombing techniques in their activism.[15] Additionally, River Aaland described glamourbombing as "inherently anarchistic" and "creating a revolutionary moment".[2]

Practise[edit | edit source]

Glamourbombs can be conducted in-person by doing something as simple as dressing fantastically.[1] However, they are typically created as items to be left anonymously for other to find. A common, simple form that glamourbombs take is that of messages left in library books, hidden in trees or in mailboxes. Alternatively, they may be as elaborate as dioramas of "fairy crime scenes" or conspicuous publicly held rituals involving real magic.[2]

As the concept originated on the DarkFae mailing list, glamourbombs have most often been fae themed. Many members stated the works of Brian Froud, Amy Brown and Charles de Lint to be strong aesthetic influences.[2]

Criticism[edit | edit source]

A number of people, including otherkin and alterhumans themselves, have criticised the otherkin community's use of glamourbombing as ineffective. The most common reason cited for this is not using real magic in performances.[6][11] Others have noted that many practitioners were reluctant to do anything "too weird".[10][16] Later alterhuman anarchist commentators have additionally criticized the creators for removing Hakim Bey's anarchist intentions from the concept.[16]

Specific popular acts, such as glitterbombing, have also attracted criticism for being bad for the environment.[10][11]

Many critics have expressed a desire to see a more effective form of glamourbombing return to the community, rather than let it die out.[6][11][16]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 Nalissi. (March 22nd, 2011) "Glamourbombing: Intro & FAQ"
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 River Aaland. (June 28th, 2005) "Feeling Fae: Glamour Bombing as Magical Acts of Revolution"
  3. "Glamour Bombing"
  4. 4.0 4.1 Hakim Bey. (June 1st, 2003) "TAZ: The Temporary Autonomous Zone, Ontological Anarchy, Poetic Terrorism"
  5. 5.0 5.1 Yma & Jenn. "'Wear' Are YOUR Wings?!??"
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Jarandhel Dreamsinger. (April 17th, 2013) "The Death and Rebirth of Glamourbombing"
  7. arethinn. "Comment on The Death and Rebirth of Glamourbombing"
  8. Kiki Wanderer. "DKMU Oistar Guide 2.1"
  9. Jarandhel Dreamsinger. "Comment on The Death and Rebirth of Glamourbombing"
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 arethinn. "g l a m o u r b o m b i n g"
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 The Digital Ambler. (October 16th, 2012) "Ceremonial Glamourbombing"
  12. Adara. (1998) "What is a Glamour Bomb?"
  13. Meirya. "Theories of Causes of Otherkin"
  14. Frater Alysyrose, Various authors. "Introduction to the DKMU"
  15. Laurel Leaves. (May 1st, 2001) "Initial Communique of the Faerie Resistance Troupe (FART)"
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 mordecai midas. (September 24th, 2020) "glamourbombing"

External Links[edit | edit source]