A guest post by D. J. Smith
As I was going through the motions, I started to wonder if this was going to be one of those spiritual lessons where I needed to just learn to forgive myself for being imperfect and not always having the right answers. I started working a mantra, getting into that “woe is me” mindset that begets sympathy, and I distinctly remember how volatile my reaction to that mantra was. I didn’t want to be pitied, I was answers! What I felt next could best be described as “Pride”. In some religions, Pride is shit on as a sin to be forgiven, but in my worldview, Pride is valuable when earned. I didn’t “lose a challenge” to a D&D character: my Pride was wounded, and it wanted answers; it wanted to know why I didn’t do better. It’s like my inner monologue was screaming, “You’re a scientist for fuck’s sake! Fix this!”, and that’s exactly what I did. I closed the circle, snuffed out my candles and incense, and swore to Cerebrilith that I’d be back.
The next day was a Monday, and while I was busy at work, I was also carving out time to figure out what I did wrong. First things first, I re-oriented my axes in WebPlotDigitizer so that all my derived points, along the egg’s curve, stayed with the domain and co-domain of the egg’s dimensions. Next, I found out that Excel, a system I’m much more familiar with, has built-in curve-fitting features that are MUCH easier to iterate on than the janky websites I was using before, saving me a TON of time in finding the right model. I also switched to a site specifically made for evaluating definite integrals, vs the optional features I was using in other sites. After doing this for 2-3hrs, I crunched the numbers and got my new result: 56,226mm3! I was within 0.14% of the algebraic model’s prediction! For the kind of approximate math I’m doing, I’ll consider that a win! Since I was at work, I took advantage of the printers and made some cooler props for my ritual. Even though the algebraic model was technically closer, the sensitivity of these readings was demonstrably slim, which made my approximately equal to the other, and that’s all I cared about this point.
Several hours later, I set my altar back up, got dressed in my wardrobe, and tried my ritual again. This time, I had WAY more success! Part of that was because of my new-found confidence, part of it was the new music (I played the piano tune to Mili’s “Scientific Witchery” on loop), and some of it was a change in magical methodology (see example below of my “secular” quarters). The visualization was so-so. The sound of my landlord’s ventilation was kind of distracting, so I kept jumping out of my mindscape, but what I did see was pretty cool (I remember the gray moss and dark-lit corridors; I also got a solid second of seeing the Cerebrilith bound in chains of light that resembled an egg shape). I ended the ritual my banishing Cerebrilith within the egg, taking the egg outside, burying it in the garden, beating the ever-loving fuck out of it with a shovel, and burning all of the evidence. I felt much more relieved this 2nd go-around, and I’d call this ritual a (rocky) success!
The Ritual Explained: Banishing Imposter Syndrome
The following is my final rendition of the “Banishing Imposter Syndrome” ritual. Adapt to meet your needs as you see fit.
- Identify the things that causes you to feel like an imposter. For me, it was the vast availability of the internet and the diminishing need for experts.
- Find something to represent your imposter demon. I chose a brain monster because math is brainy and because I envied its savage appearance.
- Find something you know you can do that’s related to the thing you’re an imposter at, like sewing, programming, singing, etc. I chose “math” because that’s what I got my degree in and because I talk about it a lot.
- Find a way to demonstrate your abilities, and find a different way that somebody else uses that ends in the same end-result. I chose “calculating the volume of an egg” because there are several ways to verify the results and come to the same conclusion. However, I used *my* method, rather than a method I found. I gave the “easily-found” method to my imposter demon.
- Do the work you need to do in order to demonstrate your skill. Compare your result to the imposter’s result. Verify the results with a 3rd party.
- Once you’ve “beaten” or “tied” with your imposter demon, begin setting up your ritual space. Ritual garb is optional (I drew an eye on my forehead to represent my “inner eye” that can visualize and strategize).
- Setup your altar. I included an image of my imposter demon, a “taunt” from my inner criticism, a comfort item (the black pendant), the object to banish the demon into, my offering bowl (to contain the ashes), four white candles (for the four corners), one incense stick and an incense holder.
- In a dark room, I begin playing “white noise” or “mood-setting” music. I light my candles and begin the call the quarters (see script below). I then give thanks and light the incense.
- Next, I address the demon and his taunt, reading the taunt aloud.
- To prep my mind for journeying, I first do something that requires a bit of visualization. In this case, I walked through the steps of a maze (see ID9) and then solved it in one go.
- Once I’ve done the remedial exercise, I close my eyes and begin imagining an inner landscape where the demon lurks. For me, that was a dark-lit labyrinth (think Minotaur).
- Once I can see myself within the mindscape and the journey starts taking on a life of its own, I begin hunting down the imposter demon with something to contain it. I imagined myself with a ball of swirling light in my right palm, like Goku’s kamehameha.
- Once you’ve envisioned cornering your demon, capture it in mental container. Mine was an egg-shaped cage of white light.
- Using your physically mouth (if possible), say aloud “I BANISH YOU DEMON!” While still partially within mindscape, I also clasped my physical hand around the egg in the container.
- After banishing the demon with the banishing object, I open my eyes, thank the quarters, grab the banishing object and walk outside.
- From there, I destroy the the object. In my case, I buried the egg in the garden and beat the fuck out of it with my landlord’s shovel while screaming “I BANISH YOU!” like a fucking psycho. And that concludes the ritual!
P.S. – For the quarters, I call the North “Wisdom”, the East “Discernment”, the South “Patience”, and the West “Passion”. Those correspondences feel much more genuine than some arbitrary elemental mapping.
The Math Explained
The math for the algebraic method was pretty straight-forward. If you can find the total length (represented on my egg as L+W) and the radius, you can plus those into the formula and multiply across, with V = 2/3 * π * r2 * (L + W). This will give you the volume in whatever unit you measured the egg with (mm3, cm3, in3, etc.)
My method was more complex.
- Firstly, I took a picture of the egg with measurements clearly defined.
- I uploaded this image to WedPlotDigitizer, which allows me draw (X, Y) points on a plot super-imposed on the JPEG. It’s important to remember that you set x1 = 0, x2 = length of egg, y1 = 0, and y2 = radius of egg. This keeps your data proportional to real-world measurements.
- Next, I export my data points to a .CSV file and open it in Excel. This allows me to create my plot and add a trendline (which is the polynomial we turn into a solid of revolution). It’s important to note here that I split the graph into two parts: one for the first half of the egg, one for the second half, dividing it at the widest part (the radius/ global maxima).
- From there, you can create a scatter plot. Within the scatter plot, right-click the blue data points, select “Add Trendline”. This opens a panel where you can choose which curve-fitting method you prefer (I chose polynomial because the shape best-fit my curves).
- Once I got my two functions Y1 and Y2, I spun them into solids of revolution (see yellow graphics below from the Wolfram Alpha). If you add the two images together, you can clearly see the egg shape.
- Once I’m sure that the shape is accurate, I begin calculating the volumes for both of my lines (Y1 and Y2). The general equation for that is:
- You’ll do this for each equation, with each having different bounds (the numbers where the lines start and stop on the X-axis.
- Lastly, once you’ve computed your two definite integrals, add those two numbers and you’ll get the total volume for the egg (V1 + V2 = VT).
Overall, this was an interesting ritual, and an interesting experience! I believe this is something that can be worked on and adapted to meet other needs (particularly other personality quirks). I do believe that these kinds of issues are perennial, and that we never truly “banish” the demons, but having tools available to combat the demons is a step in the positive direction.