The Siren’s Song…

Working at home today…

The News being what it is, my mind is tumbling around. (see previous edition: “The Crack in the Wall”)

It has been an eventful week already here at Chateau Llwydd… It continues on of course.

Look to possibly more updates later tonight.

The sun is out again, gotta hop.

On The Menu:

The Links

Anarchist Therapy

Poetry: The Song of the Sirens…

Be Happy!




The Love Life of Albert…

Vicar gets into the grove

Woman says firm fired her for being Wiccan

Druids vow to defend sword ban to the hilt

Last but not Least… “The Velveteen Rabbi”!

An Ancient One Passes…


Anarchist Therapy – Clandestino

In 1964, the military in Brazil carried out a coup d’etat supported by the CIA and local right-wing groups, inaugurating a bloody dictatorship. It was during the dictatorship that a clandestine anarchist activist named Roberto Freire, who also was a psychoanalyst, (anti)psychiatrist and author of books and plays, confirmed the destructive effects of repression on people’s behavior and psychological and mental health. Freire believed that micro-social relationships are the genesis for macro-social authoritarianism and he aimed for understanding the politics of modern society through people’s behavior in their everyday life. He realized that the fact that one believes in a certain ideology and has a libertarian view of the world doesn’t always lead one to have a libertarian behavior in his/her personal relationships with his/her fellows – there is something else, like an unconscious barrier, that determines the attitudes of the individuals towards life and other people. Freire, then, broke with psychoanalysis and over the next decades researched and developed Somatherapy – a therapy form in shape of a pedagogy, or a kind of pedagogy with therapeutic effects. That means that the way of dealing with neurosis is shifted from a medical perspetive to an educational one. The goal is to liberate those who have been subjected to repression (all of us). Somatherapy supports itself in theory and praxis with the social and corporeal psychology of Wilhelm Reich, Antipsychiatry, Gestalt Therapy, Anarchism and with the Afro-Brazilian art form of the people called Capoeira Angola.

The technique that he created consists of assembling a group of people to form a collective with limited duration (about a year and a half) that, through self-managed and non-hierarchical dynamics, will search to explore, understand and develop their capabilities to be creative, self-regulated, to love and to be loved and to be confident in the defense of their own desires and needs towards a society hostile to independent individuals.

All of this happens in a methodology composed of four elements: (1) experience of exercises created by Freire and carried out by the therapist in charge of the group (Freire or a disciple of him); (2) meetings of the group without the presence of the therapist (that guarantees the group’s and each person’s independence and responsibility for the therapeutic process); (3) practice of Capoeira Angola; (4) interaction of the group’s members in various social activities, either for fun or any kind of collective work.

The exercises created by Freire usually are body exercises, following Wilhelm Reich’s realization that neurosis is located not only in one’s mind, but also in his/her body. Reich realized that the authoritarian social structure and its mechanism of repression shape people’s personality, creating a neuromuscular character armor. That means a chronic rigidity in the muscles that obstruct the full circulation of the vital energy. Then it becomes a lifeless body, unable to act spontaneously, to feel pleasure, love or true emotions.

Reich was positive that this illness has social causes, that it is implanted by systematic suppression of instinctual needs of sex, pleasure and love carried out by authoritarian mechanisms that enforce all of us, starting in the first days of life, to adapt ourselves to patterns of social behavior. “The millenary subjugation of impulsive life created the ground for the psychological fear of the masses to the authority and the submission to it, for an incredible humility, on one side, and a sadistic brutality, on the other side – and that’s why in the last 200 years the capitalist economy of profits could expand and survive” said Reich.

Roberto Freire is a forerunner of Reichian Therapy in Brazil and one of the few people in the world who kept the unity between social-political and psychotherapeutic approaches against neurosis. Opposing ideologies of sacrifice (neurosis), Freire maintains that the healthy human condition dwells in what he called ideology of pleasure. The exercises that he created bring the participants to bodily communicate their barriers and difficulties, at the same time they provide bioenergetic relief, release of creativity and stimulation and

awakening of the senses. They have simultaneous diagnostic and therapeutic effects.

Following the principle of pleasure, Freire refuted the tendency in traditional psychology to relate therapy with discomfort, suffering and formality and strove to create ludic, playfull and pleasant exercises that, based on theatrical techniques, stimulate sociability and new ways of interaction.

After each exercise the participants make use of verbal communication, but in a peculiar way. Sitting in circle, each person reports the sensations that she had, the barriers that she perceived in herself and other people, what kind of pleasure she felt or what kind of fear and difficulty came out. The way to report the experience should follow the theories and methods of Gestalt Therapy, which prioritize an objective and practical approach, trying to acknowledge (how it happened) rather than interpret (why it happened).

Based on studies of human perception, Dr. Frederick Perls, precursor of Gestalt Therapy, sustained the fundamental significance of living perceptually alert to the present moment. Perls believed that the unmediated perception through the senses allows the spontaneous and natural mechanism of self-regulation. Rational abstraction prevents this spontaneity from occurring and creates another mechanism that is alienation and self-censorship through acceptance of external values and judgments (coming from the family, society, etc.), which are settled in the conscious and unconscious.

Gestalt Therapy determines the practical way in which the anarchist therapy of Roberto Freire happens. Somatherapy is neither clinical nor confessional. It does not deal with traumas of the past, but it does deal with their manifestations in the present, through the situations experienced during the exercises and everyday life. Freire understands that one of the many problems that people have is related to inability to define what they want and like. He believes that spontaneous self-regulation is achieved by the search for pleasure and by the discovery of each person’s own unique originality.

Because neurosis is born in social relationships, group therapy is more efficient because it creates a micro-social lab in which a variety of relationships may happen. In Somatherapy, it’s the self-managed and non-hierarchical dynamics that effectively make the therapy happen, on the personal level (self- awareness) and on the social level (new strategies for living together), in so far as it establish a state of collaboration, cooperation and complicity between the members of the group.

Also, only in a group is it possible to deal with damaging forms of communications brought to light by Antipsychiatry. Somatherapy doesn’t work with schizophrenics or people in advanced states of emotional unbalance, but it uses those studies of Gregory Bateson, David Cooper and Ronald D. Laing that have prophylactic uses for neurosis.

Antipsychiatry makes use of the studies in pragmatics of human communication, which prove that paradoxical ways of communication in a context of strong emotional and affectional ties can lead to deep psychological disturbances in one’s personality. Somatherapy allows one to realize how his personality is shaped by the paradoxical communications used against him by his family when he was a child, as well as being able to perceive when it happens in the present. It makes possible the creation of strategies to defend oneself against emotional blackmails and teaches the importance of choosing sincere and direct ways to communicate and prove how useful metacommunication is (communication about the situation in which interaction takes place).

One of the last elements that Roberto Freire added to his technique was Capoeira Angola. Unlike other styles of capoeira that spread out all over the world, Capoeira Angola is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines playing music, dancing and fighting – it’s a theater and a playful game. It has its origin in African tribal rituals and dances. In Brazil, aspects of martial arts were introduced, so that black people could prepare themselves to fight their oppressors: the slave masters and the Portuguese (and later Brazilian) Empire. Freire found in Capoeira Angola an excellent bioenergetic exercise, that enables body awareness, teaches how to keep all senses alert, and wakes up the ability to confront, which is very necessary in the struggle to defend oneself against repression and to affirm a free personality.

Subjective Ecology

With its anarchist perspective, Somatherapy brings to psychotherapy the concept that neurosis is a deviation in natural and ecological human behavior. Traditional psychology manifests in its praxis the attempt to adapt one to the social rules in force. Somatherapy helps the individual to recover her capacity to satisfy her needs and desires by defending herself and struggling against a psychotic society that denies her the freedom to exercise her own unique originality.

For Roberto Freire, the human being must be understood in his unicity: the individual is the indivisible and non-hierarchical unity of his body, mind, emotions, memories, expectations, desires, culture, social behaviors and actions that he does at every moment. In western societies, the aspects of life are fragmented. Freire created Somatherapy with the aim to struggle for the totality of being, for the unity that allows the natural principle of spontaneous self-regulation. He conceived his technique for revolutionaries, challengers of the status quo and anyone who feels libertarian, as a tool in the struggle for a life directed by joy, beauty and pleasure.

Acting on the level of subjective ecology, which is understood as living accordingly to biological impulses, Somatherapy shows a different path in the struggle against patriarchy. Helping to liberate an individual from the barriers that prevent him from his own self-determination and freedom is consistent with the idea of not intending to construct a new world, but giving people the opportunity to create this new world by themselves.

Radical changes of behavior that enable the experience of pleasure and love are the reconciliation with our own nature, and that’s a step towards the utopia of a society that is not harmful to individuals or their environment. “Civilized society is at risk of disintegration by the primary hostility of men towards each other,” said Wilhelm Reich. “Only the liberation of the natural capacity for love in human beings can master their sadistic destructiveness.”


Poetry: The Song of the Sirens…

The song of the Sirens – (Homer)

In the Odyssey, the Sirens sing a song so irresistible that none can hear it and escape. Circe warns Odysseus of the danger and tells him how to avoid it. He must plug up his mens’ ears with beeswax, and have himself tied to the mast, if he wishes to hear it:

Square in your ship’s path are Sirens, crying

beauty to bewitch men coasting by;

woe to the innocent who hears that sound!

He will not see his lady nor his children

in joy, crowding about him, home from sea;

the Sirens will sing his mind away

on their sweet meadow lolling. There are bones

of dead men rotting in a pile beside them

and flayed skins shrivel around the spot.

Steer wide;

keep well to seaward; plug your oarsmen’s ears

with beeswax kneaded soft; none of the rest

should hear that song.

But if you wish to listen,

let the men tie you in the lugger, hand

and foot, back to the mast, lashed to the mast,

so you may hear those harpies’ thrilling voices;

shout as you will, begging to be untied,

your crew must only twist more line around you

and keep their stroke up, till the singers fade. (Book 12, 41-58)

As with the lethal text, the implication is that the song has irresistible force. Unlike ordinary language, it cannot be merely heard: it must also be obeyed. Also like lethal texts, it is self-reflexive, in that it is about itself:

Sweet coupled airs we sing.

No lonely seafarer

Holds clear of entering

Our green mirror. (Book 12, 173-176)

The Odyssey is unique, however, in actually giving the contents of the lethal text. None of the other works with lethal texts do. They merely describe its outward form. (Apparently the text isn’t too dangerous in translation and without the original music.)

It is perhaps worth mentioning that the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey emits a shrill, siren-like sound when it first sees sunlight. And like the Sirens, it is extraordinarily compelling. None can see it and not be drawn to it. Like the Sirens, it too is a lethal text.


Siren Song – (Margaret Atwood)

This is the one song everyone

would like to learn: the song

that is irresistible:

the song that forces men

to leap overboard in squadrons

even though they see beached skulls

the song nobody knows

because anyone who had heard it

is dead, and the others can’t remember.

Shall I tell you the secret

and if I do, will you get me

out of this bird suit?

I don’t enjoy it here

squatting on this island

looking picturesque and mythical

with these two feathery maniacs,

I don’t enjoy singing

this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,

to you, only to you.

Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!

Only you, only you can,

you are unique

at last. Alas

it is a boring song

but it works every time.

The Sirens’ Song – (William Browne)

Steer, hither steer your winged pines,

All beaten mariners!

Here lie Love’s undiscover’d mines,

A prey to passengers–

Perfumes far sweeter than the best

Which make the Phoenix’ urn and nest.

Fear not your ships,

Nor any to oppose you save our lips;

But come on shore,

Where no joy dies till Love hath gotten more.

For swelling waves our panting breasts,

Where never storms arise,

Exchange, and be awhile our guests:

For stars gaze on our eyes.

The compass Love shall hourly sing,

And as he goes about the ring,

We will not miss

To tell each point he nameth with a kiss.

–Then come on shore,

Where no joy dies till Love hath gotten more.

The Song of the Siren

The ship heads for shore, for land and for home.

Come to me; come to me.

It’s sails flap and it’s boards groan.

Come to me; come to me.

The crew has been hoping for port for so long.

You’re coming to me; you’re coming to me.

But the helmsman has picked up an entrancing song.

You’re coming to me; you’re coming to me.

Down from the cliffs a mysterious tune floats.

You have all heard me; you HAVE ALL heard me.

Hoping to reach unfortunate boats.

You have all heard me; you have all heard me.

The crew hears the tune drifting over the waves.

You are facing me; you are facing me.

The boat turns to the cliffs; no one will be saved.

You are facing me; you are facing me.

As if in a trance, the boat travels on.

You will soon see me; you will soon see me.

No one on board realises something is wrong.

You will soon see me; you will soon see me.

As the ship hits the rocks they see their mistake.

Come down to me; come down to me.

The crew starts to panic; the ship starts to break.

Come down to me; come down to me.

Like lemmings, the sailors tumble into the sea.

You will now see me; you will now see me.

Most scramble onto the rocks, leaving naught but 3.

You will now see me; you will now see me.

Those that are left are grabbed by the feet.

Come down with me; come down with me.

Taken by those evil sirens whose songs are so sweet.

Come down with me, come DROWN with me…


The Song of the Sirens (Homer) -translated, from the Greek, by Diskin Clay

The episode of the Sirens has two stages in Odyssey 12. Both are related by Odysseus in the Palace of Alkinoos on Skeria. In the first, Circe warns Odysseus and his companions of the dangers they will encounter on their way home; in the second, Odysseus tells of his encounter with the Sirens.

On Circe’s Island

On the way home

At daybreak, Odysseus and his men set sail from Circe’s island. Odysseus addresses his men: (Odyssey 154-202)

My companions, there is no reason why only one of us

Or two-should know of Circe’s prophesies. She is a goddess,

Among goddesses. I will tell you what she told me,

So that, with our-eyes open, we can meet Death

Or keep it from us and escape our black Fate.

Her first warning was-Keep far away from the voice

Of the inspired Sirens; keep away from their lush meadow

Thick in flowers.” She told me that I alone

Should listen to their divine voice and song. You, for your part,

Are to bind me to the mast. Keep me fast to it,

Winding ropes about me til they bite. If I beg you, if I order you

To release me, tie me even tighter to the mast with more ship’s cable.

I told my companions all the goddess had told me.

Our tight ship scudded over the sea and soon we sighted

The Siren’s island with a steady wind filling our sails.

Then the wind fell. The sea subsided to a waveless silence.

No breeze stirred. Some god lulled the sea to slumber.

My men stood up from their benches, furled the sails,

And stowed them in the hollow of the ship. They returned

to their benches and with their well-hewn oars

They stirred the sea into foam.

Then, I took a great plug of wax and shaved it

With my sharp sword and kneeded it in my palms.

And it yielded to me and became soft under the warmth

And rays of Lord Helios, Hyperion’s son.

One by one, I went to my companions and sealed their ears

Shut. They, for their part, bound me arm and leg

Upright against the mast, fastening the ship’s cable to it.

Then they settled down and with their oars they stirred

The blue sea gray. When we had just reached shouting

Distance from the Sirens’ island, our ship cutting through the sea,

The Sirens sighted us and our ship approaching swiftly.

Then they began to sing their Siren song.

“Come to us, Odysseus, you who are the pride of the Achaeans,

You great man. Stay your ship’s course. Listen to our Siren voice.

No seafarer has yet sailed past our island in his black ship

Without listening to the silver music of our divine voice.’

No, he delights in its spell and returns home the wiser.

We can sing of all the grievous pain Argive and Trojan

Once suffered on the plains of Troy, as the gods desired.

We can sing all that comes to pass over the fertile earth.”

This was the song they sang in their haunting Siren voice.

And within me my heart told rhe to listen to their song.

I begged my companions: “Free me, release me now!”

Their ears shut tight, they paid no attention to me

As I motioned threateningly with my head and glared at them.

Perimedes and Eurylochos got up from their stations

And wound more rope about me even tighter.

Then my companions fell upon their oars and sped on.

I watched as the Sirens’ island slipped away into the sea.

Once we could no longer hear the Sirens’ voice and song,

My good companions took the wax from their ears

And released me.

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