its relationship to the more recent Kaycee Nicole hoax."> Astraea's Web: The Enigma Variations

Enigma Variations

Bluejay Young

Back a few years ago, two of us were members of a WWIVnet sub (the closest equivalent would be a USEnet newsgroup) devoted to discussion of mental health issues and their relation to spiritual matters. It bore the misleading title "The Psychiatrist's Couch".

One of the contributors was a lady who had had a lot of trouble. Posting under the handle Enigma (the name of a popular rock band of the day), she wrote about her problems with her family and spiritual aspects of dealing with same. She departed under a cloud, and we thought that was it.

A few weeks later, a lady who used the handle "Light" turned up. Describing herself as an urban Indian, she wrote about her worries about her pregnancy. Seemed her sister-in-law had recently miscarried, and she was worried about miscarrying herself. The story went on and on, with her finding out she was carrying twins, making all sorts of preparations etc.

Then, her husband posted to the sub. He said she had fallen down the back steps that morning and died.

The sub was immediately filled with condolences and so forth. Her husband kept on posting now and then, along with her "spiritual teacher" who gave what seemed like an awfully TV-Indian perspective on things. Being that we're Tsalagi we were suspicious, but hey, we know actual Indians who really do write like that and call themselves things like Running Deer. Like multiples, many Native people have felt that the only way to be accepted by mainstream Amerika was to adopt some of the trappings of the stereotypes they are portrayed with on TV and others.

Still, we woke up early one morning, looked at each other and went "Hey. Something about this smells."

That afternoon, the sub's host, a woman in New Orleans who ran one of the biggest WWIVnet BBS's in the country, posted her findings. The whole thing had been made up... by Enigma. The only thing that had been true was her problems with her family. She had been manipulating people for years, playing little "death games" on various bulletin boards in the New Orleans area, and her brother (whom she'd portrayed as something of a fiend) was doing all he could to try to stop her.

The response was predictably, scandal and outrage, people feeling awful because they felt they had been used. Also, feeling sorry for Enigma and hoping she would some day get real help.

But had they really been "used"? This was supposed to have been a list where spirituality was discussed. One of the things that we thought of it as was a trickster sort of thing. The Trickster mythology is probably well known to you. The point of the Trickster stories is that he fools you and puts you on, in order to teach you something about yourself or life or reality (whatever that is) or something. They also have this in Zen, where "rascal gurus" are known to tease their acolytes, be unnecessarily enigmatic, etc., in order to teach you a zen lesson of some kind. On that sub, it would be appropriate to think of what happened that way, as a free gift from the trickster. Not that Enigma was deliberately, herself, trying to show us anything; but that the -experience- was something we could take as having shown us something.

Read the original posts from the WWIVnet Enigma/Light Scandal

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