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Tulpamancy Explained

What separates a tulpa from an imaginary friend is that, once fully formed after months of a process called 'forcing', a tulpa will act autonomously.

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It's Fun To Partition Your Brain Into An Unknowable Other

Even ordinary identities can become their own distorted cultures thanks to Tim Berners Lee's Interconnected Pipe Network, or 'internet'.

Mumsnet, once merely a forum for mums, has now coagulated a culture distinct from mere motherhood, since not all mums are wine 'o' clock transphobes. There's no obvious relationship between liking My Little Pony and being a neo nazi, yet those pipes have this incredible distorting effect.

Some cultures would not have been possible without the internet. Offline, a 30-year-old virgin or a guy who likes to dress as a lion would be just that. Online, they're incels and furries. They are cultures and communities.

Today, I introduce my favourite community and with it the strangest lifestyle choice I've ever come across: tulpamancy.

The word 'tulpa' comes from a Tibetan term referring to a body created by the mind, though its usage amongst tulpamancers exclusively refers to creating people - minds and bodies - inside your own mind.

What separates a tulpa from an imaginary friend is that, once fully formed after months of a process called 'forcing', a tulpa will act autonomously. Its behaviour can neither be predicted nor controlled by you.

That, to me, seems significant. When I was young I had imaginary friends, two generic other children I conjured up for company, until I acquired flesh pals and sadly explained to my mother that they had died in a fire. But I was just imagining things for fun. I decided what their behaviour would be. They weren't capable of surprising me or disagreeing with me if I didn't want them to. You could have a meaningful conversation with a tulpa because you don't know what they're going to say. They're not you. It's as though you've partitioned part of your brain to run a sub-routine and then locked yourself out of it.

Overwhelmingly tulpamancers are, or were, young people and they use tulpamancy to bring to life fictional characters, fantasy creatures or customised girlfriends. Going off the community literature, tulpamancers can continue the process of forcing and project their tulpas onto the real world, so that they can see their creation as another object in the room. More difficult still, disputed even, is being able to touch your tulpas, which I am certain is not used predominantly for having sex with them. Perish the thought.

But it doesn't end there. Advanced tulpamancers can relinquish control of their body to their creations, allowing them to ride around in your skeleton for a while, touch some surfaces and then afterwards (hopefully) allow you to resume control. If Tyler Durdan from Fight Club was a verb then that's what these people are doing to themselves.

If it sounds a bit bleak that some teens have brain-magicked up anime girls in their head to sleep with, then try this on for size: in some cases tulpas can be difficult or even impossible to remove. If you try to 'dissipate' your unwanted tulpa and fail, they may well discover that you want to kill them while you're both still trapped in the same brain and you will be effectively locked inside your skull with an enemy.

Sweet dreams.

Next article in issue 143

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