The Earth Shapers

A Saturday Treat:

On The Menu

The Links

The Earth Shapers

4 Poems – WB Yeats

Don’t forget to paste in Radio Free EarthRites into your media player for music and spoken word!

-o-o-0-0-O Radio Free Earthrites! O-0-0-o-o-

Here is to a good weekend for you all, and that Liberty burns bright in your heart. Now is the time to be talking to your neighbors, now is the time for bringing the community together. How about making signs for yards, or apartment windows?

Only by working in community does anything truly change!




The Links:

From Mix Master Morgan: Sesame Street?

Stoned Professor

Hacking A Pop Machine…

At Church, an ‘ATM for Jesus’


The Earth-Shapers

In Tir-na-Moe, the Land of the Living Heart, Brigit was singing. Angus the Ever-Young, and Midyir the Red-Maned, and Ogma that is called Splendour of the Sun, and the Dagda and other lords of the people of Dana drew near to listen.

Brigit sang:

Now comes the hour foretold, a god-gift bringing .

A wonder-sight.

Is it a star new-born and splendid up springing Out of the night?

Is it a wave from the Fountain of Beauty up flinging Foam of delight?

Is it a glorious immortal bird that is Winging Hither its flight?

It is a wave, high-crested, melodious, triumphant,

Breaking in light.

It is a star, rose-hearted and joyous, a splendour Risen from night.

It is flame from the world of the gods, and love runs before it,

A quenchless delight.

Let the wave break, let the star rise, let the flame leap.

Ours, if our hearts are wise,

To take and keep.

Brigit ceased to sing, and there was silence for a little space in Tir-na-Moe. Then Angus said:

“Strange are the words of your song, and strange the music: it swept me down steeps of air–down–down–always further down. Tir-na-Moe was like a dream half-remembered. I felt the breath of strange worlds on my face, and always your song grew louder and louder, but you were not singing it. Who was singing it?”

“The Earth was singing it.”

“The Earth!” said the Dagda. “Is not the Earth in the pit of chaos? Who has ever looked into that pit or stayed to listen where there is neither silence nor song? “

“O Shepherd of the Star-Flocks, I have stayed to listen. I have shuddered in the darkness that is round the Earth. I have seen the black hissing waters and the monsters that devour each other–I have looked into the groping writhing adder-pit of hell.”

The light that pulsed about the De Danaan lords grew troubled at the thought of that pit, and they cried out: “Tell us no more about the Earth, O Flame of the Two Eternities, and let the thought of it slip from yourself as a dream slips from the memory.”

“O Silver Branches that no Sorrow has Shaken,” said Brigit, “hear one thing more! The Earth wails all night because it has dreamed of beauty.”

“What dream, O Brigit?”

“The Earth has dreamed of the white stillness of dawn; of the star that goes before the sunrise; and of music like the music of my song.”

“O Morning Star,” said Angus, “would I had never heard your song, for now I cannot shake the thought of the Earth from me!”

“Why should you shake the thought from you, Angus the Subtle-Hearted? You have wrapped yourself in all the colours of the sunlight; are you not fain to look into the darkness and listen to the thunder of abysmal waves; are you not fain to make gladness in the Abyss?”

Angus did not answer: he reached out his hand and gathered a blossom from a branch:

he blew upon the blossom and tossed it into the air: it became a wonderful white bird, and circled about him singing.

Midyir the Haughty rose and shook out the bright tresses of his hair till he was clothed with radiance as with a Golden Fleece.

“I am fain to look into the darkness,” he said. “I am fain to hear the thunder of the Abyss.”

“Then come with me,” said Brigit, “I am going to put my mantle round the Earth because it has dreamed of beauty.”

“I will make clear a place for your mantle,” said Midyir. “I will throw fire amongst the monsters.”

“I will go with you too,” said the Dagda, who is called the Green Harper.

“And I,” said Splendour of the Sun, whose other name is Ogma the Wise. “And I,” said Nuada Wielder of the White Light. “And I,” said Gobniu the Wonder-Smith, “we will remake the Earth!”

“Good luck to the adventure!” said Angus. “I would go myself if ye had the Sword of Light with you.”

“We will take the Sword of Light,” said Brigit, “and the Cauldron of Plenty and the Spear of Victory and the Stone of Destiny with us, for we will build power and wisdom and beauty and lavish-heartedness into the Earth.”

It is well said,” cried all the Shining Ones.

“We will take the Four Jewels.”

Ogma brought the Sword of Light from Findrias the cloud-fair city that is in the east of the De Danaan world; Nuada brought the Spear of Victory from Gorias the flame-bright city that is in the south of the Dc Danaan world; the Dagda brought the Cauldron of Plenty from Murias the city that is builded in the west of the De Danaan world and has the stillness of deep waters; Midyir brought the Stone of Destiny from Falias the city that is builded in the north of the De Danaan world and has the steadfastness of adamant. Then Brigit and her companions set forth.

They fell like a rain of stars till they came to the blackness that surrounded the Earth, and looking down saw below them, as at the bottom of an abyss, the writhing, contorted, hideous life that swarmed and groped and devoured itself ceaselessly.

From the seething turmoil of that abyss all the Shining Ones drew back save Midyir. He grasped the Fiery Spear and descended like a flame.

His comrades looked down and saw him treading out the monstrous life as men tread grapes in a wine-press; they saw the blood and foam of that destruction rise about Midyir till he was crimson with it even to the crown of his head; they saw him whirl the Spear till it became a wheel of fire and shot out sparks and tongues of flame; they saw the flame lick the darkness and turn back on itself and spread and blossom–murk-red–blood-red–rose-red at last!

Midyir drew himself out of the abyss, a Ruby Splendour, and said:

“I have made a place for Brigit’s mantle. Throw down your mantle, Brigit, and bless the Earth! “

Brigit threw down her mantle and when it touched the Earth it spread itself, unrolling like silver flame. It took possession of the place Midyir had made as the sea takes possession, and it continued to spread itself because everything that was foul drew back from the little silver flame at the edge of it.

It is likely it would have spread itself over all the earth, only Angus, the youngest of the gods, had not patience to wait: he leaped down and stood with his two feet on the mantle. It ceased to be fire and became a silver mist about him. He ran through the mist laughing and calling on the others to follow. His laughter drew them and they followed. The drifting silver mist closed over them and round them, and through it they saw each other like images in a dream–changed and fantastic. They laughed when they saw each other. The Dagda thrust both his hands into the Cauldron of Plenty.

“O Cauldron,” he said, “you give to every one the gift that is meetest, give me now a gift meet for the Earth.”

He drew forth his hands full of green fire and he scattered the greenness everywhere as a sower scatters seed. Angus stooped and lifted the greenness of the earth; he scooped hollows in it; he piled it in heaps; he played with it as a child plays with sand, and when it slipped through his fingers it changed colour and shone like star-dust–blue and purple and yellow and white and red.

Now, while the Dagda sowed emerald fire and Angus played with it, Mananaun was aware that the exiled monstrous life had lifted itself and was looking over the edge of Brigit’s mantle. He saw the iron eyes of strange creatures jeering in the blackness and he drew the Sword of Light from its scabbard and advanced its gleaming edge against that chaos. The strange life fled in hissing spume, but the sea rose to greet the Sword in a great foaming thunderous wave.

Mananaun swung the Sword a second time, and the sea rose again in a wave that was green as a crysolite, murmurous, sweet-sounding, flecked at the edges with amythest and purple and blue-white foam.

A third time Mananaun swung the Sword, and the sea rose to greet it in a wave white as crystal, unbroken, continuous, silent as dawn.

The slow wave fell back into the sea, and Brigit lifted her mantle like a silver mist. The De Danaans saw everything clearly. They saw that they were in an island covered with green grass and full of heights and strange scooped-out hollows and winding ways. They saw too that the grass was full of flowers–blue and purple and yellow and white and red.

“Let us stay here,” they said to each other, “and make beautiful things so that the Earth may be glad.”

Brigit took the Stone of Destiny in her hands: it shone white like a crystal between her hands.

“I will lay the Stone in this place,” she said, “that ye may have empire.”

She laid the Stone on the green grass and it sank into the earth: a music rose about it as it sank, and suddenly all the scooped-out hollows and deep winding ways were filled with water–rivers of water that leaped and shone; lakes and deep pools of water trembling into stillness.

“It is the laughter of the Earth!” said Ogma the Wise.

Angus dipped his fingers in the water.

“I would like to see the blue and silver fishes that swim in Connla’s Well swimming here,” he said, “and trees growing in this land like those trees with blossomed branches that grow in the Land of the Silver Fleece.”

“It is an idle wish, Angus the Young,” said Ogma. “The fishes in Connla’s Well are too bright for these waters and the blossoms that grow on silver branches would wither here. We must wait and learn the secret of the Earth, and slowly fashion dark strange trees, and fishes that are not like the fishes in Connla’s Well.”

“Yea,” said Nuada, “we will fashion other trees, and under their branches shall go hounds that are not like the hound Failinis and deer that have not horns of gold. We will make ourselves the smiths and artificers of the world and beat the strange life out yonder into other shapes. We will make for ourselves islands to the north of this and islands to the west, and round them shall go also the three waves of Mananaun for we will fashion and re-fashion all things till there is nothing unbeautiful left in the whole earth.”

“It is good work,” cried all the De Danaans, “we will stay and do it, but Brigit must go to Moy Mel and Tir-na-Moe and Tir-nan-Oge and Tir-fo-Tonn, and all the other worlds, for she is the Flame of Delight in every one of them.”

“Yes, I must go,” said Brigit.

“O Brigit!” said Ogma, “before you go, tie a knot of remembrance in the fringe of your mantle so that you may always remember this place–and tell us, too, by what name we shall call this place.”

“Ye shall call it the White Island,” said Brigit, “and its other name shall be the Island of Destiny; and its other name shall be Ireland.”

Then Ogma tied a knot of remembrance in the fringe of Brigit’s mantle.


4 Poems by W.B. Yeats


I have heard the pigeons of the Seven Woods

Make their faint thunder, and the garden bees

Hum in the lime tree flowers; and put away

The unavailing outcries and the old bitterness

That empty the heart. I have forgot awhile

Tara uprooted, and new commonness

Upon the throne and crying about the streets

And hanging its paper flowers from post to post,

Because it is alone of all things happy.

I am contented for I know that Quiet

Wanders laughing and eating her wild heart

Among pigeons and bees, while that Great Archer,

Who but awaits His hour to shoot, still hangs

A cloudy quiver over Parc-na-Lee.


I thought of your beauty and this arrow

Made out of a wild thought is in my marrow.

There’s no man may look upon her, no man,

As when newly grown to be a woman,

Blossom pale, she pulled down the pale blossom

At the moth hour and hid it in her bosom.

This beauty’s kinder yet for a reason

I could weep that the old is out of season.


One that is ever kind said yesterday

‘Your well beloved’s hair has threads of grey

And little shadows come about her eyes;

Time can but make it easier to be wise

Though now it’s hard, till trouble is at an end;

And so be patient, be wise and patient, friend.’

But heart, there is no comfort, not a grain.

Time can but make her beauty over again

Because of that great nobleness of hers;

The fire that stirs; about her, when she stirs p. 21

Burns but more clearly; O she had not these ways

When all the wild summer was in her gaze.

O heart, O heart, if she’d but turn her head,

You’d know the folly of being comforted.


Three Voices together

Hurry to bless the hands that play,

The mouths that speak, the notes and strings,

O masters of the glittering town!

O! lay the shrilly trumpet down,

Though drunken with the flags that sway

Over the ramparts and the towers,

And with the waving of your wings.

First Voice

Maybe they linger by the way;

One gathers up his purple gown;

One leans and mutters by the wall;

He dreads the weight of mortal hours.

Second Voice

O no, O no, they hurry down

Like plovers that have heard the call.

Third Voice

O, kinsmen of the Three in One, p. 30

O, kinsmen bless the hands that play.

The notes they waken shall live on

When all this heavy history’s done.

Our hands, our hands must ebb away.

Three Voices together

The proud and careless notes live on

But bless our hands that ebb away.


Habeus Corpus Is Soo Pre-9/11

Colbert: Habeus Corpus Is Soo Pre-9/11



This Is What Waterboarding Looks Like


Rushing Off a Cliff

Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.

Republicans say Congress must act right now to create procedures for charging and trying terrorists — because the men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are available for trial. That’s pure propaganda. Those men could have been tried and convicted long ago, but President Bush chose not to. He held them in illegal detention, had them questioned in ways that will make real trials very hard, and invented a transparently illegal system of kangaroo courts to convict them.

It was only after the Supreme Court issued the inevitable ruling striking down Mr. Bush’s shadow penal system that he adopted his tone of urgency. It serves a cynical goal: Republican strategists think they can win this fall, not by passing a good law but by forcing Democrats to vote against a bad one so they could be made to look soft on terrorism.

Last week, the White House and three Republican senators announced a terrible deal on this legislation that gave Mr. Bush most of what he wanted, including a blanket waiver for crimes Americans may have committed in the service of his antiterrorism policies. Then Vice President Dick Cheney and his willing lawmakers rewrote the rest of the measure so that it would give Mr. Bush the power to jail pretty much anyone he wants for as long as he wants without charging them, to unilaterally reinterpret the Geneva Conventions, to authorize what normal people consider torture, and to deny justice to hundreds of men captured in error.

These are some of the bill’s biggest flaws:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

•There is not enough time to fix these bills, especially since the few Republicans who call themselves moderates have been whipped into line, and the Democratic leadership in the Senate seems to have misplaced its spine. If there was ever a moment for a filibuster, this was it.

We don’t blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they’ll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future won’t remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.


First They Came for the Jews

First they came for the Jews

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for the Communists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a Communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists

and I did not speak out

because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for me

and there was no one left

to speak out for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller


Mourning For America…

(thanks to Chris Barnaby for pointing out this article)

Perhaps one of the saddest days in the history of the United States. I believe that we have reached a juncture point which says; “This is the day, the vote that marked the slide of the United Statess away from its roots real and imagined, into Barbarity and the loss of its ideals.

I never though that that the US could slide so low, but I was mistaken; it will even go further.

I mourn for the US, and what it has become, a nation of frightened consumers, citizens no more. We would appear to have surrendered to the bullies.

Yet, this may be a herald of a change for the better. The gloves are off, we know now with what we really are dealing with. Maybe people will wake up to the fact that the Gov’t does not have their concerns and welfare in mind, after all, any of us can now be picked up, and waterboarded, beaten etc., without due process… We are on the edge of The Gulag.

Maybe it is time to consider an alternative to Gov’t we have now. Maybe the US has had its run.

It is indeed a day for mourning, but we will move on, and find another course. This is not a time for complacency.




Congress gives Bush the right to torture and detain people forever

By: Glenn Greenwald on Thursday, September 28th, 2006 at 5:27 PM – PDT

Following in the footsteps of the House, the Senate this afternoon approved the bill which vests in the President the power of indefinite, unreviewable detention (even of U.S. citizens) and which also legalizes various torture techniques. It is not hyperbole to say that this is one of the most tyrannical and dangerous bills to be enacted in our nation’s history.

The final Senate vote was 65-34. The Democrats lacked the votes for a filibuster and therefore did not attempt one. Twelve (out of 44) Senate Democrats voted in favor of this bill, while only one Republican (Chafee) voted against it. The dishonorable list of Democrats voting for the bill: Carper (Del.), Johnson (S.D.), Landrieu (La.), Lautenberg (N.J.), Lieberman (Conn.), Menendez (N.J), Nelson (Fla.), Nelson (Neb.), Pryor (Ark.), Rockefeller (W. Va.), Salazar (Co.), Stabenow (Mich).

One can look at the Democrats’ conduct here in one of two ways. On the one hand, it is true that the Democrats disappeared from the debate until today, all but hiding behind John McCain in the futile hope that he would remain steadfast in his opposition to the White House. Once the Democrats designated McCain as the Noble and Wise Torture Expert who spoke on their behalf, it became very difficult for them to oppose the “compromise” bill whereby McCain predictably capitulated and gave the Bush administration virtually everything it wanted. Democrats painted themselves into this corner by failing forcefully to advocate their own position against torture and indefinite detention.

Nonetheless, it is simply a fact that virtually every Republican in the House and the Senate (with one sole exception in the Senate and only 7 in the House) voted in favor of this tyrannical bill, while Democrats overwhelmingly opposed it (in the House, 160 Democrats voted “no,” while 34 voted “yes”). With those facts assembled, it is fair to say that the Republicans are the party of torture, indefinite and unreviewable detention powers, and limitless presidential power, even over U.S. citizens on U.S. soil. By contrast, Democrats have largely opposed these tyrannical, un-American and truly dangerous measures. Even if Democrats didn’t oppose them as vociferously as they could have and should have — and that is plainly the case – this is still a meaningful and, at this point in our country’s history, a critically important contrast.


Morning In The Burned House – Margaret Atwood

In the burned house I am eating breakfast.

You understand: there is no house, there is no breakfast,

yet here I am.

The spoon which was melted scrapes against

the bowl which was melted also.

No one else is around.

Where have they gone to, brother and sister,

mother and father? Off along the shore,

perhaps. Their clothes are still on the hangers,

their dishes piled beside the sink,

which is beside the woodstove

with its grate and sooty kettle,

every detail clear,

tin cup and rippled mirror.

The day is bright and songless,

the lake is blue, the forest watchful.

In the east a bank of cloud

rises up silently like dark bread.

I can see the swirls in the oilcloth,

I can see the flaws in the glass,

those flares where the sun hits them.

I can’t see my own arms and legs

or know if this is a trap or blessing,

finding myself back here, where everything

in this house has long been over,

kettle and mirror, spoon and bowl,

including my own body,

including the body I had then,

including the body I have now

as I sit at this morning table, alone and happy,

bare child’s feet on the scorched floorboards

(I can almost see)

in my burning clothes, the thin green shorts

and grubby yellow T-shirt

holding my cindery, non-existent,

radiant flesh. Incandescent.


Servant of the Soil

On the Music Machine: Hallucinogen – In Dub

(Lord Frederick Leighton – Lachrymae (Mary Lloyd), c.1895)


Come, let us pass this pathway o’er

That to the tavern leads;

There waits the wine, and there the door

That every traveller needs.

On that first day, when we did sweat

To tipple and to kiss,

It was our oath, that we would fare

No other way but this.

Where Jamshid’s crown and royal throne

Go sweeping down the wind,

‘Tis little comfort we should moan:

In wine is joy to find.

Because we hope that we may bring

Her waist to our embrace,

Lo, in our life-blood issuing

We linger in this place.

Preacher, our frenzy is complete:

Waste not thy sage advice;–

We stand in the Beloved’s street,

And seek not Paradise.

Let Sufis wheel in mystic dance

And shout for ecstasy;

We, too, have our exuberance,

We, too, ecstatics be.

The earth with pearls and rubies gleams

Where thou hast poured thy wine;

Less than the dust are we, it seems,

Beneath thy foot divine.

Hafiz, since we may never soar,

To ramparts of the sky,

Here at the threshold of this door

Forever let us lie.



Rowan and I spent time tonight over at our friends Paul and Barb. We had dinner and then Paul worked on my old banger of a bike which has been hanging on the wall in the shop for the last 3-4 years. I have had it some 20 years and this is the second tune up…. Yeah I know.

It was a wonderful evening, with a great meal, with lots of laughs and giggles over Pauls’ stories later as he struggled with the green machine (as the bike is known) Really, I hope he puts some of them together, wildly entertaining and very, very amusing.

I am going back to using the bike for shopping and quick trips around the area as I need to get back into shape, and really a vehicle is not needed for most trips I make in the local area. I tend to the side streets anyway, for a quiet ride and time. I care little for riding in competition with cars and trucks, and our neighborhood has some great streets to coast through on….

We got home to find Sofie the wonder dog had gone on walk-about as I had left the gate open. Much frantic running around ensued, with us finally getting a call from some customers over at the local bar. She had been looking for company and a drink I suppose. The problem being, she had crossed Hawthorne which is a very dangerous street. Have to watch that door!

So, we have some items of interest for You….

On The Menu:

The Links

The Living Buddha & the Tubmaker

The Caravan of Summer – by Peter Lamborn Wilson

Poetry – Hafiz

Art – Lord Frederick Leighton

Have a good one!



The Links:

Is this the missing jet from the 1953 Kinross UFO incident?

Study: Human Hands Emit Light

UFOs Across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Mummified dogs uncovered in Peru


The Living Buddha & the Tubmaker

Zen masters give personal guidance in a secluded room. No one enters while teacher and pupil are together.

Mokurai, the Zen master of Kennin temple in Kyoto, used to enjoy talking with merchants and newspapermen as well as with his pupils. A certain tubmaker was almost illiterate. He would ask foolish questions of Mokurai, have tea, and then go away.

One day while the tubmaker was there Mokurai wished to give personal guidance to a disciple, so he asked the tubmaker to wait in another room.

“I understand you are a living Buddha,” the man protested. “Even the stone Buddhas in the temple never refuse the numerous persons who come together before them. Why then should I be excluded?”

Mokurai had to go outside to see his disciple.


(Lord Frederick Leighton – Faticida, c.1894)


The Caravan of Summer – by Peter Lamborn Wilson

Something of the real difference between pilgrim and tourist can be detected by comparing their effects on the places they visit. Changes in a place a city, a shrine, a forest may be subtle, but at least they can be observed. The state of the soul may be a matter of conjecture, but perhaps we can say something about the state of the social.

Pilgrimage sites like Mecca may serve as great bazaars for trade and they may even serve as centers of production (like the silk industry of Benares) but their primary “product” is baraka or mana. These words (one Arabic, one Polynesian) are usually translated as “blessing”, but they also carry a freight of other meanings.

The wandering dervish who sleeps at a shrine in order to dream of a dead saint (one of the “people of the Tombs”) seeks initiation or advancement on the spiritual path; a mother who brings a sick child to Lourdes seeks healing; a childless woman in Morocco hopes the Marabout will make her fertile if she ties a rag to the old tree growing out of the grave; the traveler to Mecca yearns for the very center of the Faith, and as the caravans come within sight of the Holy City the hajji calls out, “Labaika Allahumma!” “I am here, O Lord!”

All these motives are summed up by the word baraka, which sometimes seems to be a palpable substance, measurable in terms of increased charisma or “luck.” The shrine produces baraka. And the pilgrim takes it away. But blessing is a product of the imagination and thus no matter how many pilgrims take it away, there’s always more.

In fact, the more they take, the more blessing the shrine can produce (because a popular shrine grows with every answered prayer.) To say that baraka is “imaginal” is not to call it “unreal.” It’s real enough to those who feel it. But spiritual goods do not follow the rules of supply and demand like material goods. The more demand for spiritual goods, the more supply. The production of baraka is infinite.

By contrast, the tourist desires not baraka but cultural difference. The tourist consumes difference. But the production of cultural difference is not infinite. It is not “merely” imaginal. It is rooted in languages, landscape, architecture, custom, taste, smell. It is very physical. The more it is used up or taken away, the less remains. The social can produce just so much “meaning,” so much difference. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.

The modest goal of this essay is to address the individual traveler who has decided to resist tourism. Even though we may find it impossible in the end to “purify” ourselves and our travel from every last taint and trace of tourism, we still feel that improvement may be possible.

Not only do we disdain tourism for its vulgarity and its injustice, and therefore wish to avoid any contamination (conscious or unconscious) by its viral virulency, we also wish to understand travel as an act of reciprocity rather than alienation. In other words, we don’t wish merely to avoid the negatives of tourism, but even more to achieve positive travel, which we envision as a productive and mutually enhancing relationship between self and other, guest and host, a form of cross-cultural synergy in which the whole exceeds the sum of parts.

We’d like to know if travel can be carried out according to a secret economy of baraka, whereby not only the shrine but also the pilgrims themselves have blessings to bestow.

Before the Age of Commodity, we know, there was an Age of the Gift, of reciprocity, of giving and receiving. We learned this from the tales of certain travelers, who found remnants of the world of the Gift among certain tribes, in the form of pot latch or ritual exchange, and recorded their observations of such strange practices.

Not long ago there still existed a custom among South Sea islanders of traveling vast distances by outrigger canoe, without compass or sextant, in order to exchange valuable and useless presents (ceremonial art-objects rich in mana) from island to island in a complex pattern of overlapping reciprocities.

We suspect that even though travel in the modern world seems to have been taken over by the Commodity, even though the networks of convivial reciprocity seem to have vanished from the map, even though tourism seems to have triumphed. Even so, we continue to suspect that other pathways still persist, other tracks, unofficial, not noted on the map, perhaps even “secret” pathways still linked to the possibility of an economy of the Gift, smugglers’ routes for free spirits, known only to the geomantic guerrillas of the art of travel.

Perhaps the greatest and subtlest practitioners of the art of travel were the Sufis, the mystics of Islam. Before the age of passports, immunizations, airlines and other impediments to free travel, the Sufis wandered footloose in a world where borders tended to be more permeable than nowadays, thanks to the trans nationalism of Islam and the cultural unity of Dar al-Islam , the Islamic world.

The great medieval Moslem travelers, like Ibn Battuta and Naser Khusraw, have left accounts of vast journeys, Persia to Egypt, or even Morocco to China, which never set foot outside a landscape of deserts, camels, caravanserais, bazaars, and piety. Someone always spoke Arabic, however badly, and Islamic culture permeated the remotest backwaters, however superficially. Reading the tails of Sinbad the Sailor (from the 1001 Nights) gives us the impression of a world where even the terra incognita was still, despite all marvels and oddities, somehow familiar, somehow Islamic. Within this unity, which was not yet a uniformity, the Sufis formed a special class of travelers. Not warriors, not merchants, and not quite ordinary pilgrims either, the dervishes represent a spiritualization of pure nomadism.

According to the Koran, God’s Wide Earth and everything in it are “sacred,” not only as divine creations, but also because the material world is full of “waymarks,” or signs of divine reality. Moreover, Islam itself is born between two journeys, Mohammad’s hijra or “flight” from Mecca to Medina, and his hajj, or return voyage. The hajj is the movement toward the origin and center for every Moslem even today, and the annual Pilgrimage has played a vital role, not just in the religious unity of Islam, but also in its cultural unity.

Mohammad himself exemplifies every kind of travel in Islam; his youth with the Meccan caravans of Summer and Winter, as a merchant; his campaigns as a warrior; his triumph as a humble pilgrim. Although an urban leader, he is also the prophet of the Bedouin and himself a kind of nomad, a “sojourner”an “orphan.” From this perspective travel can almost be seen as a sacrament. Every religion sanctifies travel to some degree, but Islam is virtually unimaginable without it.

The Prophet said, “Seek knowledge, even as far as China.” From the beginning, Islam lifts travel above all “mundane” utilitarianism and gives it an epistemological or even Gnostic dimension. “The jewel that never leaves the mine is never polished,” says the Sufi poet Saadi. To “educate” is to “lead outside,” to give the pupil a perspective beyond parochiality and mere subjectivity.

Some Sufis may have done all their traveling in the Imaginal World of archetypal dreams and visions, but vast numbers of them took the Prophet’s exhortations quite literally. Even today dervishes wander over the entire Islamic worldbut as late as the 19th century they wandered in veritable hordes, hundreds or even thousands at a time, and covered vast distances. All in search of knowledge.

Unofficially, there existed two basic types of wandering Sufi: the “gentleman-scholar” type, and the mendicant dervish. The former category includes Ibn Battuta (who collected Sufi initiations the way some occidental gentlemen once collected Masonic degrees), andon a much more serious level the “Greatest Shaykh” Ibn Arabi, who meandered slowly through the 13th century from his native Spain, across North Africa, through Egypt to Mecca, and finally to Damascus.

Ibn Arabi actually left accounts of his search for saints and adventurers on the road, which could be pieced together from his voluminous writings to form a kind of rihla or “travel text”: ( a recognized genre of Islamic literature) or autobiography. Ordinary scholars traveled in search of rare texts on theology or jurisprudence, but Ibn Arabi sought only the highest secrets of esotericism and the loftiest “openings” into the world of divine illumination; for him every “journey to the outer horizons” was also a “journey to the inner horizons” of spiritual psychology and gnosis.

On the visions he experienced in Mecca alone, he wrote a 12-volume work (The Meccan Revelations), and he has also left us precious sketches of hundreds of his contemporaries, from the greatest philosophers of the age to humble dervishes and “madmen,” anonymous women saints and “hidden Masters.”

Ibn Arabi enjoyed a special relation with Khezr, the immortal and unknown prophet, the “Green Man,” who sometimes appears to wandering Sufis in distress, to rescue them from the desert, or to initiate them. Khezr, in a sense, can be called the patron saint of the traveling dervishes and the prototype. (He first appears in the Koran as a mysterious wanderer and companion of Moses in the desert.)

Christianity once included a few orders of wandering mendicants (in fact, St. Francis organized one after meeting with dervishes in the Holy Land, who may have bestowed upon him a “cloak of initiation” the famous patchwork robe he was wearing when he returned to Italy), but Islam spawned dozens, perhaps hundreds of such orders.

As Sufism crystallized from the loose spontaneity of early days to an institution with rules and grades, “travel for knowledge” was also regularized and organized. Elaborate handbooks of duties for dervishes were produced which included methods for turning travel into a very specific form of meditation. The whole Sufi “path” itself was symbolized in terms of intentional travel.

In some cases itineraries were fixed (e.g. the Hajj); others involved waiting for “signs” to appear, coincidences, intuitions, “adventurers” such as those which inspired the travels of the Arthurian knights. Some orders limited the time spent in any one place to 40 days; others made a rule of never sleeping twice in the same place. The strict orders, such as the Naqshbandis, turned travel into a kind of full-time choreography, in which every movement was preordained and designed to enhance consciousness.

By contrast, the more heterodox orders (such as the Qalandars) adopted a “rule” of total spontaneity and abandon “permanent unemployment” as one of them called it an insouciance of bohemian proportions a “dropping-out” at once both scandalous and completely traditional. Colorfully dressed, carrying their begging bowls, axes, and standards, addicted to music and dance, carefree and cheerful (sometimes to the point of “blameworthiness”!), orders such as the Nematollahis of 19th century Persia grew to proportions that alarmed both sultans and theologians. Many dervishes were executed for “heresy.”

Today the true Qalandars survive mostly in India, where their lapses from orthodoxy include a fondness for hemp and a sincere hatred of work. Some are charlatans, some are simple bums, but a surprising number of them seem to be people of attainment…how can I put it?…people of self-realization, marked by a distinct aura of grace, or baraka.

All the different types of Sufi travel we’ve described are united by certain shared vital structural forces. One such force might be called a “magical” world view, a sense of life that rejects the “merely” random for a reality of signs and wonders, of meaningful coincidences and “unveilings.” As anyone who’s ever tried it will testify, intentional travel immediately opens one up to this “magical” influence.

A psychologist might explain this phenomenon (either with awe or with reductionist disdain) as “subjective”; while the pious believer would take it quite literally. From the Sufi point of view neither interpretation rules out the other, nor suffices in itself, to explain away the marvels of the Path. In Sufism, the “objective” and the “subjective” are not considered opposites, but complements. From the point of view of the two-dimensional thinker (whether scientific or religious) such paradoxology smacks of the forbidden.

Another force underlying all forms of intentional travel can be described by the Arabic word “adab”. On one level “adab” simply means “good manners,” and in the case of travel, these manners are based on the ancient customs of desert nomads, for whom both wandering and hospitality are sacred acts. In this sense, the dervish shares both the privileges and the responsibilities of the guest.

Bedouin hospitality is a clear survival of the primordial economy of the Gift – a relation of reciprocity. The wanderer must be taken in (the dervish must be fed) but thereby the wanderer assumes a role prescribed by ancient custom and must give back something to the host. For the Bedouin this relation is almost a form of clientage Ð the breaking of bread and sharing of salt constitutes a sort of kinship. Gratitude is not a sufficient response to such generosity. The traveler must consent to a temporary adoption, anything less would offend against “adab”.

Islamic society retains at least a sentimental attachment to these rules, and thus creates a special niche for the dervish, that of the full-time guest. The dervish returns the gifts of society with the gift of baraka. In ordinary pilgrimage, the traveler receives baraka from a place, but the dervish reverses the flow and brings baraka to a place. The Sufi may think of himself (or herself) as a permanent pilgrim but to the ordinary stay-at-home people of the mundane world, the Sufi is a kind of preambulatory shrine.

Now tourism in its very structure breaks the reciprocity of host and guest. In English, a “host” may have either guests or parasites. The tourist is a parasite for no amount of money can pay for hospitality. The true traveler is a guest and thus serves a very real function, even today, in societies where the ideals of hospitality have not yet faded from the “collective mentality.” To be a host, in such societies, is a meritorious act. Therefore, to be a guest is also to give merit.

The modern traveler who grasps the simple spirit of this relation will be forgiven many lapses in the intricate ritual of “adab” (how many cups of coffee? Where to put one’s feet? How to be entertaining? How to show gratitude? etc.) peculiar to a specific culture. And if one bothers to master a few of the traditional forms of “adab”, and to deploy them with heartfelt sincerity, then both guest and host will gain more than they put into the relation and this more is the unmistakable sign of the presence of the Gift.

Another level of meaning of the word “adab” connects it with culture (since culture can be seen as the sum of all manners and customs): In modern usage the Department of “Arts and Letters” at a university would be called Adabiyyat. To have “adab” in this sense is to be “polished” (like that well-traveled gem) but this has nothing necessarily to do with “fine arts” or literacy or being a city-slicker, or even being “cultured.” It is a matter of the “heart.”

“Adab” is sometimes given as a one-word definition of Sufism. But insincere manners (ta’arof in Persian) and insincere culture alike are shunned by the Sufi. “There is no ta’arof in Tassawuf [Sufism],” as the dervishes say; “Darvishi” is an adjectival synonym for informality, the laid-back quality of the people of the Heart and for spontaneous “adab”, so to speak. The true guest and host never make an obvious effort to fulfill the “rules” of reciprocity they may follow the ritual scrupulously, or they may bend the forms creatively, but in either case, they will give their actions a depth of sincerity that manifests as natural grace. “Adab” is a kind of love.

A complement of this “technique” (or “Zen”) of human relations can be found in the Sufi manner of relating to the world in general. The “mundane” world of social deceit and negativity, of usurious emotions, unauthentic consciousness (“mauvaise conscience”), boorishness, ill-will, inattention, blind reaction, false spectacle, empty discourse, etc. etc. all this no longer holds any interest for the traveling dervish. But those who say that the dervish has abandoned “this world”, “God’s Wide Earth”would be mistaken.

The dervish is not a Gnostic Dualist who hates the biosphere (which certainly includes the imagination and the emotions, as well as “matter” itself). The early Muslim ascetics certainly closed themselves off from everything. When Rabiah, the woman saint of Basra, was urged to come out of her house and “witness the wonders of God’s creation,” she replied, “Come into the house and see them,” i.e., come into the heart of contemplation of the oneness which is above the manyness of reality. “Contraction” and “Expansion” are both terms for spiritual states. Rabiah was manifesting Contraction: a kind of sacred melancholia which has been metaphorized as the “Caravan of Winter,” of return to Mecca (the center, the heart), of interiority, and of ascesis or self-denial. She was not a world-hating Dualist, nor even a moralistic flesh-hating puritan. She was simply manifesting a certain specific kind of grace.

The wandering dervish, however, manifests a state more typical of Islam in its most exuberant energies. He indeed seeks expansion, spiritual joy based on the sheer multiplicity of the divine generosity in material creation. (Ibn Arabi has an amusing “proof” that this world is the best world. For, if it were not, then God would be ungenerous which is absurd. Q.E.D.) In order to appreciate the multiple waymarks of the wide earth precisely as the unfolding of this generosity, the Sufi cultivates what might be called the theophanic gaze: The opening of the “Eye of the Heart” to the experience of certain places, objects, people, events as locations of the “shining-through” of divine light. The dervish travels, so to speak, both in the material world, and in the “World of Imagination” simultaneously. But for the eye of the heart, these worlds interpenetrate at certain points.

One might say that they mutually reveal or “unveil” each other. Ultimately, they are “one” and only our state of tranced inattention, our mundane consciousness, prevents us from experiencing this “deep” identity at every moment. The purpose of intentional travel, with its “adventures” and its uprooting of habits, is to shake loose the dervish from all the trance-effects of ordinariness. Travel, in other words, is meant to induce a certain state of consciousness or “spiritual state” that of Expansion.

For the wanderer, each person one meets might act as an “angel,” each shrine one visits may unlock some initiate dream, each experience of nature may vibrate with the presence of some “spirit of place.” Indeed, even the mundane and ordinary may suddenly be seen as numinous (as in the great travel haiku of the Japanese Zen poet Basho) : a face in the crowd at a railway station, crows on telephone wires, sunlight in a puddle.

Obviously one doesn’t need to travel to experience this state. But travel can be used, that is, an art of travel can be required to maximize the chances for attaining such a state. It is a moving meditation, like the Taoist martial arts.

The Caravan of Summer moved outward, out of Mecca, to the rich trading lands of Syria and Yemen. Likewise, the dervish is “moving out” (it’s always “moving day”), heading forth, taking off, on “perpetual holiday” as one poet expressed it, with an open heart, an attentive eye (and other senses), and a yearning for meaning, a thirst for knowledge. One must remain alert, since anything might suddenly unveil itself as a sign. This sounds like a bit of paranoia although “metanoia” might be a better term and indeed one finds “madmen” amongst the dervishes, “attracted ones,” overpowered by divine influxions, lost in the Light.

In the Orient, the insane are often cared for and admired as helpless saints, because mental illness may sometimes appear as a symptom of too much holiness rather than too little “reason.” Hemp’s popularity amongst the dervishes can be attributed to its power to induce a kind of intuitive attentiveness which constitutes a controllable insanity, herbal metanoia. But travel itself in itself can intoxicate the heart with the beauty of theophanic presence. It’s a question of practice, the polishing of the jewel, removal of moss from the rolling stone.

In the old days (which are still going on in some remote parts of the East), Islam thought of itself as a whole world, a wide world, a space with great latitude within which Islam embraced the whole of society and nature. This latitude appeared on the social level as tolerance. There was room enough, even for such marginal groups as mad wandering dervishes. Sufism itself, or at least its austere orthodox and “sober” aspect occupied a central position in the cultural discourse. “Everyone” understood intentional travel by analogy with the Hajj, everyone understood the dervishes, even if they disapproved.

Nowadays, however, Islam views itself as a partial world, surrounded by unbelief and hostility, and suffering internal raptures of every sort. Since the 19th century Islam has lost its global consciousness and sense of its own wideness and completeness. No longer therefore, can Islam easily find a place for every marginalized individual and group within a pattern of tolerance and social order. The dervishes now appear as an intolerable difference in society. Every Muslim must now be the same, united against all outsiders, and struck from the same prototype.

Of course, Muslims have always “imitated” the Prophet and viewed his image as the norm and this has acted as a powerful unifying force for style and substance within Dar al-Islam. But “nowadays” the puritans and reformers have forgotten that this “imitation” was not directed only at an early medieval Meccan merchant named Mohammad, but also at the insan al-kamil (the “Perfect Man” or “Universal Human”), an ideal of inclusion rather than exclusion, an ideal of integral culture, not an attitude of purity in peril, not xenophobia disguised as piety, not totalitarianism, not reaction.

The dervish is persecuted nowadays in most of the Islamic world. Puritanism always embraces the most atrocious aspects of modernism in its crusade to strip the Faith of “medieval accretions” such as popular Sufism. And surely the way of the wandering dervish cannot thrive in a world of airplanes and oil-wells, of nationalistic/chauvinistic hostilities (and thus of impenetrable borders), and of a Puritanism which suspects all difference as a threat.

The Puritanism has triumphed not only in the East, but rather close to home as well. It is seen in the “time discipline” of modern too-late-Capitalism, and in the porous rigidity of consumerist hyper-conformity, as well as in the bigoted reaction and sex-hysteria of the Christian Right. Where in all this can we find room for the poetic (and parasitic!) life of “Aimless Wandering”, the life of Chuang Tzu (who coined this slogan) and his Taoist progeny, the life of Saint Francis and his shoeless devotees, the life of (for example) Nur Ali Shah Isfahani, a 19th century Sufi poet who was executed in Iran for the awful heresy of meandering-dervishism?

Here is the flip side of the “Problem of Tourism”: The problem with the disappearance of “aimless wandering.” Possibly the two are directly related, so that the more tourism becomes possible, the more dervishism becomes impossible. In fact, we might well ask if this little essay on the delightful life of the dervish possesses the least bit of relevance for the contemporary world. Can this knowledge help us to overcome tourism, even within our own consciousness and life? Or is it merely an exercise in nostalgia for lost possibilities, a futile indulgence in romanticism?

Well, yes and no. Sure, I confess I’m hopelessly romantic about the form of the dervish life, to the extent that for a while I turned my back on the mundane world and followed it myself. Because of course, it hasn’t really disappeared. Decadent, yes, but not gone forever. What little I know about travel I learned in those few years I owe a debt to “Medieval accretions” I can never pay and I’ll never regret my “escapism” for a single moment. But I don’t consider the form of dervishism to be the answer to the “problem of tourism.” The form has lost most of its efficacy. There’s no point in trying to “preserve” it (as if it were a pickle, or a lab specimen) there’s nothing quite so pathetic as mere “survival.”

But beneath the charming outer forms of dervishism lies the conceptual matrix, so to speak, which we’ve called intentional travel. On this point we should suffer no embarrassment about “nostalgia.” We have asked ourselves whether or not we desire a means to discover the art of travel, whether we want and will to overcome “the inner tourist,” the false consciousness which screens us from the experience of the Wide World’s waymarks. The way of the dervish (or of the Taoist, the Franciscan, etc.) interests us, not the key, perhaps but…a key. And of course it does.

Peter Lamborn Wilson is the author of Sacred Drift and several books and studies exploring the role of heresy and mysticism in Islam. Wilson spent ten years wandering in the Middle East. He now wanders the streets of New York City. This paper was read at the annual meeting of The Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society and appeared in White Cloud Press’s Common Era: Best New Writings on Religion (PO Box 3400, Ashland, Oregon (97520, 1-800-380-8286).

October 1999


(Lord Frederick Leighton – A Girl with a Basket of Fruit, c.1863)


Hafiz – Poetry

Servant of the Soil

I am happy and in loudest voice I say:

I seek West Wind of truth from the wine cup today.

While frowning hypocrite sits languishing there,

with open-faced dreg-drinkers I choose to stay.

If Elder doesn’t open my tavern door,

where can I go, for whose counsel will I pray?

Do not reproach my rend’s spirit in this world;

as I was molded, of that shape is my clay.

See not dervish prayer house nor tavern as path;

God walks as companion wherever I stray.

Dust of rendi is the elixir of joy;

I serve the soil of that ambergris-sweet way.

In the joy of seeing the primrose so high,

by river with cup I stand in tulip’s sway.

My story is madness since beloved’s curls

tossed me like a ball for her polo club’s play.

Bring wine and to Hafez do pray: If heart

holds hypocrites’ leftover crumbs, please sweep away.


May none be shattered like me by the woes of separation;

My life has passed by wasted by the throes of separation.

Exited stranger, lover, heartsick beggar, mind bewildered;

I’ve shouldered brunt of Fortune and blows of separation.

If ever separation should fall into my hand I will kill it;

With tears, in blood, I will pay all the dues of separation.

Where to go, what to do, who to tell my heart’s state to?

Who gives justice, who pays out, for those of separation?

From the pain of separation not a moment’s peace is mine;

For the sake of God, be just, give the dues of separation.

By separation from Your Presence I’ll make separation sick,

Until the heart’s blood flows from the eyes of separation.

From where am I and from where are separation and grief?

Seems my mother bore me for grief that grows of separation.

Therefore, at day and at night, branded by love, like Hafiz,

With nightingales of dawn, I cry songs, woes of separation.

Translations of the Ghazals of Hafiz


I CEASE not from desire till my desire

Is satisfied; or let my mouth attain

My love’s red mouth, or let my soul expire,

Sighed from those lips that sought her lips in vain.

Others may find another love as fair;

Upon her threshold I have laid my head,

The dust shall cover me, still lying there,

When from my body life and love have fled.

My soul is on my lips ready to fly,

But grief beats in my heart and will not cease,

Because not once, not once before I die,

Will her sweet lips give all my longing peace.

My breath is narrowed down to one long sigh

For a red mouth that burns my thoughts like fire;

When will that mouth draw near and make reply

To one whose life is straitened with desire?

When I am dead, open my grave and see

The cloud of smoke that rises round thy feet:

In my dead heart the fire still burns for thee;

Yea, the smoke rises from my winding-sheet!

Ah, come, Beloved! for the meadows wait

Thy coming, and the thorn bears flowers instead

Of thorns, the cypress fruit, and desolate

Bare winter from before thy steps has fled.

Hoping within some garden ground to find

A red rose soft and sweet as thy soft cheek,

Through every meadow blows the western wind,

Through every garden he is fain to seek.

Reveal thy face! that the whole world may be

Bewildered by thy radiant loveliness;

The cry of man and woman comes to thee,

Open thy lips and comfort their distress!

Each curling lock of thy luxuriant hair

Breaks into barbed hooks to catch my heart,

My broken heart is wounded everywhere

With countless wounds from which the red drops start.

Yet when sad lovers meet and tell their sighs,

Not without praise shall Hafiz’ name be said,

Not without tears, in those pale companies

Where joy has been forgot and hope has fled.


(Lord Frederick Leighton – The Nymph of the River- A Bather)

The Anarchist Special…

Rise like lions after slumber

In unvanquishable number

Throw off your chains, like dew

Which in sleep had fallen on you

Ye are many they are few!

-Percy Shelley

The Mask of Anarchy

A Sane Revolution

If you make a revolution, make it for fun,

Don’t make it in ghastly seriousness,

Don’t do it in deadly earnest,

Do it for fun.

Don’t do it because you hate people,

Do it just to spit in their eye.

Don’t do it for the money,

Do it and be damned to the money.

Don’t do it for equality,

Do it because we’ve got too much equality

And it would be fun to upset the apple-cart

And see which way the apples would go a-rolling.

Don’t do it for the working-classes.

Do it so that we can

all of us be little aristocracys on our own

And kick our heels like jolly escaped asses.

Don’t do it, anyhow, for international Labour.

Labour is one thing a man has had too much of.

Let’s abolish Labour, let’s have done with Labouring!

Work can be fun, and

men can enjoy it; then it’s not Labour.

Let’s have it so! Let’s make a revolution for fun!


Turn On – Paste In – Your Internet Radio Player!

-o-o-0-0-O Radio Free Earthrites! O-0-0-o-o-

Take back the World with Love…

More Later,


The Links

U-Tube KEITH OLBERMANN guy speaking his mind about Bill C

Poetry Of The Anarchist Heart


The Links….


Kobayashi vs Giant Bear

Now do you believe in the “Madden” curse?

Arinday: The Earth is not just for humans and animals



It is not important that the current President’s portable public chorus has described his predecessor’s tone as “crazed.”

Our tone should be crazed. The nation’s freedoms are under assault by an administration whose policies can do us as much damage as al Qaida; the nation’s marketplace of ideas is being poisoned by a propaganda company so blatant that Tokyo Rose would’ve quit.

Nonetheless. The headline is this:

Bill Clinton did what almost none of us have done in five years.

He has spoken the truth about 9/11, and the current presidential administration.

“At least I tried,” he said of his own efforts to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. “That’s the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They had eight months to try; they did not try. I tried.”

Thus in his supposed emeritus years has Mr. Clinton taken forceful and triumphant action for honesty, and for us; action as vital and as courageous as any of his presidency; action as startling and as liberating, as any, by any one, in these last five long years.

The Bush Administration did not try to get Osama bin Laden before 9/11.

The Bush Administration ignored all the evidence gathered by its predecessors.

The Bush Administration did not understand the Daily Briefing entitled “Bin Laden Determined To Strike in U.S.”

The Bush Administration did not try.

Moreover, for the last five years one month and two weeks, the current administration, and in particular the President, has been given the greatest “pass” for incompetence and malfeasance in American history!

President Roosevelt was rightly blamed for ignoring the warning signs—some of them, 17 years old—before Pearl Harbor.

President Hoover was correctly blamed for—if not the Great Depression itself—then the disastrous economic steps he took in the immediate aftermath of the Stock Market Crash.

Even President Lincoln assumed some measure of responsibility for the Civil War—though talk of Southern secession had begun as early as 1832.

But not this president.

To hear him bleat and whine and bully at nearly every opportunity, one would think someone else had been president on September 11th, 2001 — or the nearly eight months that preceded it.

That hardly reflects the honesty nor manliness we expect of the executive.

But if his own fitness to serve is of no true concern to him, perhaps we should simply sigh and keep our fingers crossed, until a grown-up takes the job three Januarys from now.

Except for this.

After five years of skirting even the most inarguable of facts—that he was president on 9/11 and he must bear some responsibility for his, and our, unreadiness, Mr. Bush has now moved, unmistakably and without conscience or shame, towards re-writing history, and attempting to make the responsibility, entirely Mr. Clinton’s.

Of course he is not honest enough to do that directly.

As with all the other nefariousness and slime of this, our worst presidency since James Buchanan, he is having it done for him, by proxy.

Thus, the sandbag effort by Fox News Friday afternoon.

Consider the timing: the very weekend the National Intelligence Estimate would be released and show the Iraq war to be the fraudulent failure it is—not a check on terror, but fertilizer for it.

The kind of proof of incompetence, for which the administration and its hyenas at Fox need to find a diversion, in a scapegoat.

It was the kind of cheap trick which would get a journalist fired—but a propagandist, promoted:

Promise to talk of charity and generosity; but instead launch into the lies and distortions with which the Authoritarians among us attack the virtuous and reward the useless.

And don’t even be professional enough to assume the responsibility for the slanders yourself; blame your audience for “e-mailing” you the question.

Mr. Clinton responded as you have seen.

He told the great truth untold about this administration’s negligence, perhaps criminal negligence, about bin Laden.

He was brave.

Then again, Chris Wallace might be braver still. Had I in one moment surrendered all my credibility as a journalist, and been irredeemably humiliated, as was he, I would have gone home and started a new career selling seeds by mail.

The smearing by proxy, of course, did not begin Friday afternoon.

Disney was first to sell-out its corporate reputation, with “The Path to 9/11.” Of that company’s crimes against truth one needs to say little. Simply put: someone there enabled an Authoritarian zealot to belch out Mr. Bush’s new and improved history.

The basic plot-line was this: because he was distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton failed to prevent 9/11.

The most curious and in some ways the most infuriating aspect of this slapdash theory, is that the Right Wingers who have advocated it—who try to sneak it into our collective consciousness through entertainment, or who sandbag Mr. Clinton with it at news interviews—have simply skipped past its most glaring flaw.

Had it been true that Clinton had been distracted from the hunt for bin Laden in 1998 because of the Monica Lewinsky nonsense, why did these same people not applaud him for having bombed bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan and Sudan on Aug. 20, of that year? For mentioning bin Laden by name as he did so?

That day, Republican Senator Grams of Minnesota invoked the movie “Wag The Dog.”

Republican Senator Coats of Indiana questioned Mr. Clinton’s judgment.

Republican Senator Ashcroft of Missouri—the future attorney general—echoed Coats.

Even Republican Senator Arlen Specter questioned the timing.

And of course, were it true Clinton had been “distracted” by the Lewinsky witch-hunt, who on earth conducted the Lewinsky witch-hunt?

Who turned the political discourse of this nation on its head for two years?

Who corrupted the political media?

Who made it impossible for us to even bring back on the air, the counter-terrorism analysts like Dr. Richard Haass, and James Dunegan, who had warned, at this very hour, on this very network, in early 1998, of cells from the Middle East who sought to attack us, here?

Who preempted them in order to strangle us with the trivia that was, “All Monica All The Time”?

Who distracted whom?

This is, of course, where—as is inevitable—Mr. Bush and his henchmen prove not quite as smart as they think they are.

The full responsibility for 9/11 is obviously shared by three administrations, possibly four.

But, Mr. Bush, if you are now trying to convince us by proxy that it’s all about the distractions of 1998 and 1999, then you will have to face a startling fact that your minions may have hidden from you.

The distractions of 1998 and 1999, Mr. Bush, were carefully manufactured, and lovingly executed, not by Bill Clinton, but by the same people who got you elected President.

Thus, instead of some commendable acknowledgment that you were even in office on 9/11 and the lost months before it, we have your sleazy and sloppy rewriting of history, designed by somebody who evidently read the Orwell playbook too quickly.

Thus, instead of some explanation for the inertia of your first eight months in office, we are told that you have kept us “safe” ever since—a statement that might range anywhere from zero, to 100 percent, true.

We have nothing but your word, and your word has long since ceased to mean anything.

And, of course, the one time you have ever given us specifics about what you have kept us safe from, Mr. Bush, you got the name of the supposedly targeted Tower in Los Angeles wrong.

Thus was it left for the previous president to say what so many of us have felt; what so many of us have given you a pass for in the months and even the years after the attack:

You did not try.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your predecessor.

You ignored the evidence gathered by your own people.

Then, you blamed your predecessor.

That would be a textbook definition, Mr. Bush, of cowardice.

To enforce the lies of the present, it is necessary to erase the truths of the past.

That was one of the great mechanical realities Eric Blair—writing as George Orwell—gave us in the book “1984.”

The great philosophical reality he gave us, Mr. Bush, may sound as familiar to you, as it has lately begun to sound familiar to me.

“The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power…

“Power is not a means; it is an end.

“One does not establish a dictatorship to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

“The object of persecution, is persecution. The object of torture, is torture. The object of power… is power.”

Earlier last Friday afternoon, before the Fox ambush, speaking in the far different context of the closing session of his remarkable Global Initiative, Mr. Clinton quoted Abraham Lincoln’s State of the Union address from 1862.

“We must disenthrall ourselves.”

Mr. Clinton did not quote the rest of Mr. Lincoln’s sentence.

He might well have.

“We must disenthrall ourselves and then we shall save our country.”

And so has Mr. Clinton helped us to disenthrall ourselves, and perhaps enabled us, even at this late and bleak date, to save our country.

The “free pass” has been withdrawn, Mr. Bush.

You did not act to prevent 9/11.

We do not know what you have done to prevent another 9/11.

You have failed us—then leveraged that failure, to justify a purposeless war in Iraq which will have, all too soon, claimed more American lives than did 9/11.

You have failed us anew in Afghanistan.

And you have now tried to hide your failures, by blaming your predecessor.

And now you exploit your failure, to rationalize brazen torture which doesn’t work anyway; which only condemns our soldiers to water-boarding; which only humiliates our country further in the world; and which no true American would ever condone, let alone advocate.

And there it is, Mr. Bush:

Are yours the actions of a true American?


Poetry Of The Anarchist Heart

The man

Of virtuous soul commands not, nor obeys:

Power, like a desolating pestilence,

Pollutes whate’er it touches, and obedience

Bane of all genius, virtue, freedom, truth,

Makes slaves of men, and, of the human frame,

A mechanized automaton.

-Percy Shelley


And an orator said, Speak to us of Freedom And he answered: At the city gate and by your fireside I have seen you prostrate yourself and worship your own freedom, Even as slaves humble themselves before a tyrant and praise him though he slays them. Ay, in the grove of the temple and in the shadow of the citadel I have seen the freest among you wear their freedom as a yoke and a handcuff. And my heart bled within me; for you can only be free when even the desire of seeking freedom becomes a harness to you, and when you cease to speak of freedom as a goal and a fulfilment. You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care nor your nights without a want and a grief, But rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound. And how shall you rise beyond your days and nights unless you break the chains which you at the dawn of your understanding have fastened around your noon hour? In truth that which you call freedom is the strongest of these chains, though its links glitter in the sun and dazzle your eyes. And what is it but fragments of your own self you would discard that you may become free? If it is an unjust law you would abolish, that law was written with your own hand upon your own forehead. You cannot erase it by burning your law books nor by washing the foreheads of your judges, though you pour the sea upon them. And if it is a despot you would dethrone, see first that his throne erected within you is destroyed. For how can a tyrant rule the free and the proud but for a tyranny in their own freedom and a shame in their own pride? And if it is a care you would cast off, that care has been chosen by you rather than imposed upon you. And if it is a fear you would dispel, the seat of that fear is in your heart and not in the hand of the feared. Verily all things move within your being in constant half embrace, the desired and the dreaded, the repugnant and the cherished, the pursued and that which you would escape. These things move within you as lights and shadows in pairs that cling. And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light. And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.

-Kahlil Gibran


Ben Linder, 27, killed by Contra terrorists in 1987 while helping build electrical plants in rural Nicaragua.

This rain among the candle flames

under the heavy

end of April evening

falls so softly on us


that it dissolves us

like salt.

A child frets.

The grieving over names.

The same anger.

There are still far countries.

Mayday! they signal,

it’s sinking, crashing, it’s going

down now! Mayday!

but it used to mean

you went into the garden

early, that first morning,

to make a posy

for a neighbour’s door,

or boldly offered –

“These are for your daughter!”

laughing, because she wasn’t up yet.

They were maybe twelve years old.


they went to different schools.

The bringing of light

is no simple matter.

The offering of flowers

is a work of generations.

Young men are scattered

like salt on a dry ground.

Not theirs, not theirs,

but ours

the brave children

who must learn the rules.

To bring light

to flower in a dark country

takes experts in illumination,

engineers of radiance.

Taken, taken and broken.

We are dim circles flickering

at nightfall in April in the rain

that quickens the odour of flowering trees

and the odour of stone.

Over us

is a dark government.

Circles of burning flames, of flowers,

of children learning light.

Circles of rain on stone and skin.

Turning and returning in shaken silence,

broken, unbroken.

Sorrow is the home country.

Ursula LeGuinn


Let us invoke a healthy heart-breaking

Towards the horrible world:

Let us say 0 poor people

How can they help being so absurd,

Misguided, abused, misled?

With unsifted saving graces jostling about

On a mucky medley of needs,

Like love-lit shit,

Year after cyclic year

The unidentifiable flying god is missed.

Emotions sit in their heads disguised as judges,

Or are twisted to look like mathematical formulae,

And only a scarce god-given scientist notices

His trembling lip melting the heart of the rat.

Whoever gave us the idea somebody loved us?

Far in our wounded depths faint memories cry,

A vision flickers below subliminally

But immanence looms unbearably: TURN IT OFF! they hiss.

Elizabeth Smart


Where is gestapo, where

does it end? Where

is it? Soweto, it is. Where

does it end? Not Oakland, it doesn’t

not B’nai Brith.


is it? Gaza, it is. Where

is it? San Quentin, it is. Where?

Peru. Where? Paris. Where? in Bonn

& Prague & Beijing, it is

in Yellow River Valley. Where

is it? Afghan, Guatemala, Rio,

Alaska, Tierra del Fuego, the

wasted tiaga, it is

where is it?

& where

does it end.

Not in

Oakland, it doesn’t,

not in London. Not in the Mission.

Don’t end in Brooklyn

or Rome. Atlanta. Where?

Morocco, gestapo is

Sudan (& death)

Where end? not Canada sold to

Nazi USA

not Mexico, Kenya, Australia

it don’t, not end

Jamaica, Haiti. Mozambique

not end. Maybe

someplace it isn’t maybe

someplace it ends

some hills maybe

still free

but hungry

eyes blaze over ancient guns

-Diane Di Prima


To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

All pray in their distress;

And to these virtues of delight

Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

Is God, our father dear,

And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love

Is Man, his child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart,

Pity a human face,

And Love, the human form divine,

And Peace, the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,

That prays in his distress,

Prays to the human form divine,

Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,

In heathen, Turk, or Jew;

Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell

There God is dwelling too.

-William Blake


Regarding Isis and The Troubadours:

“During the Middle Ages the troubadours of Central Europe preserved in song the legends of this Egyptian goddess. They composed sonnets to the most beautiful woman in all the world. Though few ever discovered her identity, she was Sophia, the Virgin of Wisdom, whom all the philosophers of the world have wooed. Isis represents the mystery of motherhood, which the ancients recognized as the most apparent proof of Nature’s omniscient wisdom and God’s overshadowing power. To the modern seeker she is the epitome of the Great Unknown, and only those who unveil her will be able to solve the mysteries of life, death, generation, and regeneration.”

Manly P. Hall


(William Holman Hunt – Il Dolce Far Niente)

This one dances around a bit… Mainly about the Troubadours, with examples of lyrics etc. Some historical context, vis a vis the Cathar Connection.

The Troubadours changed society, and brought about the modern concepts of love that we accept in the west at this time. Arranged marriages were all the rage (well, the only rage), and then, something happened. The Troubadours changed the fundamental dynamics of relationships by singing a different tune. They had friends in high places, but they were beloved by the masses. Think patronage? Eleanor of Aquitaine… Think on that one.(remember her, we will eventually come back to Eleanor at another date) They were aligned with an underground stream of consciousness which has been resurfacing again and again over the centuries…

So, here are some selections for ya.

Bright Blessings, and Have a good one!



On The Menu

The Links

The Troubadours

From The Troubadours – I was plunged into deep distress

By means of an explanation:Cathars and Catharism in the Languedoc

Who’s Who In The Cathar War: Simon de Montfort

Troubadour Lyrics

Art: Various Pre-Raphaelite Painters…


The Links:

Activists unveil stealth browser

Enjoy the video game? Then join the Army.

Dishwasher Salmon

A Brief History of Paganism in America


The Troubadours (The Name in Occitan: Trobadors)

Modern European literature originated in Occitania in the early 12th century. It was started by hundreds of Troubadours (poet-musicians), who sang the praises of new values and in a new way. Their themes were courttly love, and concepts such as “convivencia” and “paratge” for which there is no modern counterpart in modern English or French.

“Convivencia” meant something more than conviviality and “paratge” meant something more than honour, courtesy, chivalry or gentility (though our concepts of honour, courtesy, chivalry and gentility all owe something to the concept of “paratge”. It translates literally as “peerage” which gives no clue to as its signification. The nearest concept we know of may be the ancient Egyption idea of Maht – another untranslatable word carry suggestions of right, balance and natural order to which may be added ideas of joy and light.

They praised high ideals, promoting a spirit of equality based on common virtue and deprecating discrimination based on blood or wealth. They were responsible for a great flowering of creativity. The lyrics could be racy, even by modern standards. Woman troubadours as well as men were welcomed in Châteaux throughout the Midi. They were, of course, loathed by the Roman Church, though a number of priests and bishops had themselves been well known troubadours – including the infamous Fouquet de Marseille, Bishop of Toulouse. The contempt for class disctinction is well illustrated by the social standing of troubadours. As well as commoners and minor nobles, known troubadours includ an emperor, five kings, five marquises, ten counts, a countess and five viscounts. The great Savaric de Mauléon , who fought alongside Ramon VI of Toulouse against the Crusaders in the war against the Languedoc, was a noted troubadour.

“Trobadors” were welcomed by noble courts throughout Occitania, including areas that are now regarded as Spanish, Italian or French. They were also welcomed in the courts of England, France and even Germany (as minnesänger). They made great contributions to intellectual life with their new art, blending courtly love, eroticism, political satire and philosophy – all of which excited the ire of the Roman Church.

Some 2000 of their works are known, from the short compositions like the “cansos”, to the epics. All are expressed in Occitan, or as it was then called, “plana lenga romana” – the plain Roman tongue.


From The Troubadours…

(Dante Gabriel Rossetti – Venus Verticordia)

I was plunged into deep distress

The Countess of Die, a Lady Troubadour circa. AD 1200

I was plunged into deep distress / by a knight who wooed me,

and I wish to confess for all time / how passionately I loved him;

Now I feel myself betrayed, / for I did not tell him of my love.

therefore I suffer great distress / in bed and when I am fully


Would that my knight might one night / lie naked in my arms

and find myself in ecstasy / with me as his pillow.

For I am more in love with him / than Floris was with Blanchfleur.

to him I give my heart and love, / my reason, eyes and life.

Handsome friend, tender and good, / when will you be mine ?

Oh, to spend with you but one night / to impart the kiss of love !

Know that with passion I cherish / the hope of you in my husband’s


as soon as you have sworn to me / that you will fulfill my every wish


(Sir John Everett Millais – Lorenzo and Isabella)

By means of an explanation: Cathars and Catharism in the Languedoc:

On 22 July 1209 the Crusader army arrived at Béziers on the periphery of the area in the Languedoc where Cathars flourished. There were believed to be around 200 Cathars in the town among a much greater population of sympathetic Catholics. The townspeople, believing their city walls impregnable, were careless, and the town was overrun while the leading Crusader nobles were still planning their siege.

The crusading army sacked and looted the town indiscriminately, while townspeople retreated to the sanctuary of the churches. The Cistercian abbot-commander is said to have been asked how to tell Cathar from Catholic. His reply, recorded later by a fellow Cistercian, demonstrated his faith: “Kill them all – the Lord will recognise His own”. The Roman Church has recently taken to disowning these words, but they are reliable. Not only were they recorded by a sympathetic fellow churchman, but they also accord with other sources. The Song of the Cathar Wars , sympathetic to the crusaders at this stage [laisse 21] records that the French crusaders explicitly planned to adopt a popular terrorist tactic of indiscriminate massacre (one often used by the Roman Church against those they regarded as infidels):

The lords from France and Paris,

clergymen and laymen, princes and marquises,

all agreed that at every castle the army besieged

any garrison that refused to surrender

should be slaughtered wholesale

once the castle had been taken by force

When the town was taken Catholic citizens sought refuge in a Church dedicated to Mary Magdelene.

Hurridly they took refuge in the high church.

The priests and clercs put on vestments

And had the church bells rung as for a funeral

And started a mass for the dead.

It was a mass for themselves. The Church was set alight and the rest of the town put to the sword. 7,000 people died in the church including women, children, priests and old men. Elsewhere many more thousands were mutilated and killed. Prisoners were blinded, dragged behind horses, and used for target practice The town was razed. Arnaud, the abbot-commander, wrote to his master the Pope: “Today your Holiness, twenty thousand citizens were put to the sword, regardless of rank, age, or sex”. Reportedly, not a single person survived, not even a new born baby.

Today, there is almost nothing to see remaining from the period. There is no mention of this attrocity in any of the churches in the town, but the city council has put up a number of discreet plaques commemorating the events that took place here. Perhaps the most enduring memorial is the sentiment “Kill them all – the Lord will recognise His own”. The words – and their fullfilment – are remembered by almost everyone in the Languedoc.


Who’s Who In The Cathar War: Simon de Montfort

Simon III de Montfort married Amicie de Leicester, and through her inherited the Earldom of Leicester, though he was soon dispossed. Simon was left with only a small estate in France, north of the forest of Yveline. At the time of the Cathar Crusade, Simon had already build a reputation as a Crusader in the Holy Land. He was a rare comodidy within the Catholic fold. He was not only a fearsome warrier, but also a good tactitian and strategist. Further, he had distinguished himself in the Fourth Crusade by refusing to attack his fellow Christians in Byzantium. Now he found himself among the army assembled under the Abbot of Cîteau to attack the Cathars. After the initial victories at Béziers and Carcassonne the nobles looked for one of their number to take over the leadership. None of them was prepared to take on what appeared to be an impossible task. As Simon had distinguished himself once again in battle he was offered the leadership and, effectivey ordered to accept it. Simon confirmed his military reputation.

He was, however, roundly hated in the Languedoc for his cruelty and ambition. He died while besieging Toulouse. Here is a description of the event, from the contemporary Song of the Cathar Wars , laisse 205, written in Occitan:

There was in the town a mangonel built by our carpenters

And dragged with its platform from St Sernin.

It was operated by noblewomen, by little girls and men’s wives,

And now a stone hit just where it was needed

Striking Count Simon on his steel helmet

Shattering his eyes, brains, and back teeth,

And splintering his forehead and jaw.

Bleeding and black, the Count dropped dead on the ground.

Simon de Montfort continues to be hated to this day. The consensus is that the writer of the Song of the Cathar Wars had it about right [laisse 208]. His scathing words about Simon’s epitaph in the Cathedral of St Nazaire in Carcassonne are given below:

The epitaph says, for those who can read it,

That he is a saint and martyr who shall breathe again

And shall in wonderous joy inherit and flourish

And wear a crown and sit on a heavenly throne.

And I have heard it said that this must be so –

If by killing men and spilling blood,

By ruining souls, and preaching murder,

By following evil counsels, and raising fires,

By ruining noblemen and besmirching honour,

By pillaging the country, and by exalting Pride,

By stoking up wickedness and stifling good,

By massacring women and their infants,

A man can win Jesus in this world,

then Simon surely wears a crown, respondent in heaven.


(William Waterhouse – St. Cecilia

Troubadour Lyrics

“Since I feel a need to sing”

Guillaume IX, Duke of Aquitaine (1071-1127)

Language Area: France, Language: Old Provençal

As the desire to sing takes hold of me,

I will make a song about my sorrow;

I will no longer be a servant of love

In Poitou nor in Limousin.

For now I will go into exile:

In great fear, in great peril,

In war, I will leave my son

And his people will harm him.

The departure from the realm

Of Poitiers is so difficult for me!

I leave Foucon of Angers in charge

Of all the land and of his cousin.

If Foucon of Angers does not help him

And the king from whom I hold my realm,

Many people will bring him harm,

Treacherous Gascons and Angevins.

If he is neither wise nor mighty

When I will have left you,

They will soon overthrow him

For they will see him young and weak.

I seek mercy on my companion

If I have ever wronged him, may he pardon me,

And I pray to Jesus on the throne,

In French and in Latin.

I have might and joy,

But now we all part,

And I go to the One

With whom all sinners find peace.

I have been most jovial and joyful,

But our Lord wants that no more;

Now I can suffer this burden no longer

Since the end draws so near.

I have left behind all that I once loved

Chivalry and pride;

And since it pleases God, I accept all that

And pray Him to retain me in His presence.

I pray all my friends, at my death

That they all come and give me great honor,

For I have known joy and pleasure

Far and near and in my realm.

Thus I renounce joy and pleasure

The brown, grey, and sable furs.


“I am obliged to sing”

La Comtessa de Dia (fl. late 12th Century)

Language Area: France, Language: Old Provençal

I must sing of what I do not want,

I am so angry with the one whom I love,

Because I love him more than anything:

Mercy nor courtesy moves him,

Neither does my beauty, nor my worthiness, nor my good sense,

For I am deceived and betrayed

As much as I should be, if I were ugly.

I take comfort because I never did anything wrong,

Friend, towards you in anything,

Rather I love you more than Seguin did Valensa,

And I am greatly pleased that I conquered you in love,

My friend, because you are the most worthy;

You are arrogant to me in words and appearance,

And yet you are so friendly towards everyone else.

I wonder at how you have become so proud,

Friend, towards me, and I have reason to lament;

It is not right that another love take you away from me

No matter what is said or granted to you.

And remember how it was at the beginning

Of our love! May Lord God never wish

That it was my fault for our separation.

The great prowess that dwells in you

And your noble worth retain me,

For I do not know of any woman, far or near,

Who, if she wants to love, would not incline to you;

But you, friend, have such understanding

That you can tell the best,

And I remind you of our sharing.

My worth and my nobility should help me,

My beauty and my fine heart;

Therefore, I send this song down to you

So that it would be my messenger.

I want to know, my fair and noble friend,

Why you are so cruel and savage to me;

I don’t know if it is arrogance or ill will.

But I especially want you, messenger, to tell him

That many people suffer for having too much pride.


“The Firm Desire”

Arnaut Daniel (fl. 1180-1210)

Language Area: France, Language: Old Provençal

The firm desire that enters

Can neither be taken from my heart by beak or nail

Of that liar who loses his soul through speaking evil,

And since I dare not beat him with either a branch or rod,

I will in some secret place, where I will have no spying uncle,

Rejoice with my joy, in a garden or in a chamber.

But when I am reminded of that chamber

Where I know, to my sorrow, that no man enters

And which is guarded more than by brother or uncle,

My entire body trembles, even to my fingernail,

As does a child before a rod,

Such fear I have of not being hers with all my soul.

At least in body, if not in soul,

Let her hide me within her chamber;

For it wounds my heart more than blows of rod

That her slave can never therein enter.

I will always close to her as flesh and nail,

And believe no warnings of friend or uncle.

Even the sister of my uncle

I never loved so much, with all my soul!

As close as is the finger to the nail,

If it please her, I would be in her chamber.

It can mold me to its will, this love that enters

My heart, more so than a strong man with a tender rod.

Since flowered the dry rod,

Or from Adam descended the nephew and uncle,

There never was such a love as what enters

My heart, dwelling neither in body or in soul

And wherever she may be, outside in the street, or in her chamber,

My heart is no farther than the length of my nail.

As if with tooth and nail

My heart grips her, holding as the bark on the rod;

To me she is joy’s tower, palace, and chamber

And I love neither brother, parent or uncle

So much; and I will find double joy in Paradise for my soul

If a man blessed for good love therein enters.

Arnaut sends his song of nail and uncle,

By the grace of her who has, of his rod, the soul,

To his Desired One, whose praise all chambers enters.

(Sir Edward Burne-Jones – Hesperus, The Evening Star)

Jack Orion

Through Horned Clouds -Robin Williamson

I see your faces

blown through the horned clouds

in the silent cities

they call me so loud

come through the fire

come through the foam

come at the world’s night

call the herds home

dearest child dearest child

Most High

please don’t let our fancy die

till all the grapes are gathered from the vine

when you come

will you sound the harp

give to the blind

cat’s eyes in the dark

o will we know you for what you are

you who have come so far

sweetest fair sweetest fair

Most High

don’t let them cut that ladder before its time

for all the grapes to be gathered from the vine

He comes again

She comes again

through the mist of time

through the mist of rain

no more words my heart brims over

in the sea of circumstance

rows for the rocky shore

we who have sworn

by the dead and the unborn

wheels within wheels

O Most High.


The hodgepodge attempt at cohesion… Started out with something short, and grew, and grew…

Sunday night, knackered and all. Beautiful Autumn days here in Portland. Out to Sauvie Island during the afternoon.

Went through the wringer with a headache yesterday (Saturday) As close to a migraine as I have had in quite awhile (and it has been awhile, almost 19 years!) Pressure changes and all that.

Anyway, this edition I think stands well, from Horned Clouds to the ending pic of Edinburgh Castle, in all its beauty. The hill it is on has been lived on by people for the last 10 thousand years. It gives ones pause. The caves underneath have quite a history….

On the Menu:

The Links

We’re nearly all Celts under the skin

Bert Jansch – Jack Orion

Bert Jansch Bio




The Links:

Scientists discover most likely host star for advanced life

Physicists: Despite Fears, Black-Hole Factory Will Not Destroy Earth

Study: Ancient bird used four wings to fly


We’re nearly all Celts under the skin

Ian Johnston, Science Correspondent

A MAJOR genetic study of the population of Britain appears to have put an end to the idea of the “Celtic fringe” of Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

Instead, a research team at Oxford University has found the majority of Britons are Celts descended from Spanish tribes who began arriving about 7,000 years ago.

Even in England, about 64 per cent of people are descended from these Celts, outnumbering the descendants of Anglo- Saxons by about three to one.

The proportion of Celts is only slightly higher in Scotland, at 73 per cent. Wales is the most Celtic part of mainland Britain, with 83 per cent.

Previously it was thought that ancient Britons were Celts who came from central Europe, but the genetic connection to populations in Spain provides a scientific basis for part of the ancient Scots’ origin myth.

The Declaration of Arbroath of 1320, following the War of Independence against England, tells how the Scots arrived in Scotland after they had “dwelt for a long course of time in Spain among the most savage tribes”.

Professor Bryan Sykes, a human geneticist at Oxford, said the myth may have been a “residue” in people’s memories of the real journey, but added that the majority of people in England were the descendants of the same people who sailed across the Bay of Biscay.

Prof Sykes divided the population into several groups or clans: Oisin for the Celts; Wodan for Anglo-Saxons and Danish Vikings; Sigurd for Norse Vikings; Eshu for people who share genetic links with people such as the Berbers of North Africa; and Re for a farming people who spread to Europe from the Middle East.

The study linked the male Y-chromosome to the birthplace of paternal grandfathers to try to establish a historic distribution pattern. Prof Sykes, a member of the Oisin clan, said the Celts had remained predominant in Britain despite waves of further migration.

“The overlay of Vikings, Saxons and so on is 20 per cent at most. That’s even in those parts of England that are nearest to the Continent,” he said.

“The only exception is Orkney and Shetland, where roughly 40 per cent are of Viking ancestry.”

In Scotland, the majority of people are not actually Scots, but Picts. Even in Argyll, the stronghold of the Irish Scots, two-thirds of members of the Oisin clan are Pictish Celts.

However, according to the study, the Picts, like the Scots, originally came from Spain.

“If one thinks that the English are genetically different from the Scots, Irish and Welsh, that’s entirely wrong,” he said.

“In the 19th century, the idea of Anglo-Saxon superiority was very widespread. At the moment, there is a resurgence of Celtic identity, which had been trampled on. It’s very vibrant and obvious at the moment.

“Basically the cornerstone of Celtic identity is that they are not English. However, to try to base that, as some do, on an idea that is not far beneath the surface that Celtic countries are somehow descended from a race of Celts, which the English are not, is not right. We are all descended from the same people.

“It should dispel any idea of trying to base what is a cultural identity on a genetic difference, because there really isn’t one.”


Bert Jansch – Jack Orion

I often think on the secret and not so secret routes of Transmission that flow through society. During the middle ages, a movement began in Occitania that still reverberates and flourishes up in to the modern day.

The movement which helped to shift consciousness and helped bring about the modern age was the Troubadours.(more on this later)

This of course translates to our modern day. There has always been an element of the Troubadour running through various forms of music. Bob Dylan comes to mind as well as the Buckleys’ in the US. Leonard Cohen springs forth when one thinks of Canada, but we are looking at this character: Bert Jansch.

Bert Jansch is from Edinburgh, his father Austrian, his mother Scots. Perhaps the most influencial guitarist in the UK for the last 40 years. You may be scratching your head on this. He was compared to Jimi Hendrix in his influence. Jimmy Page still to this day pays homage to the man. Donovan acknowledges him, time and again over the years. His influence is truly a phenomenon. From his earliest works, through the time he spent in Pentangle, to his current work

Bert was influenced by American music, but his heart was in the ancient ballads, again many of them can be traced back to the Troubadours from Cathar country…

So to cut to the quick, give this song a listen. It is from his 3rd album. I truly think that it is a classic…



Listen to Jack Orion – The Song


Jack Orion Lyrics…

Jack Orion was as good fiddler

As ever fiddled on a string

And he could drive young women mad

By the tune his wires would sing

But he would fiddle the fish out of salt water

Water from bare marble stone

Or the milk from out of a maiden’s breast

Though baby she had none

And there he played in the castle hall

And there he played them fast asleep

Except it was for the young countess

And for love she stayed awake

And first he played them a slow slow air

And then he played it brisk and gay

And it’s O dear love behind her hand

And the lady she did say

And the day has dawned and the cocks have crown

And flapped their wings so wide it’s you

Must come up to my chamber there

And lie down by my side

So he lapped his fiddle in a cloth of green

And he stole out on his tiptoe

And he’s off back to his young boy

Tom As fast as he could go

Ere the day has dawned and the cocks have crowed

And flapped their wings so wide

I’m bid to go up to that lady’s door

And stretch out by her side

Lie down lie down my good master

And here’s a blanket to your hand

I’ll waken you in as good a time

As any cock in the land

Oh Tom took the fiddle into his hand

And he fiddled and he sang for half an hour

Until he played him fast asleep

And he’s off to the lady’s bower

And when he come to the countess’ door

He twirled so softly at the pin

And the lady true to her promise

Rose up and let him in

He did not take that lady gay

To bolster nor to bed but down

Upon the hard cold bedroom floor

Right soon he had her laid

And neither did he kiss her when he came

Nor when from her he did go

But in at the lady’s bedroom window

The moon like a coal did glow

Oh ragged are your stockings love

And stubbly is your cheek and chin

And tousled is that yellow hair

That I saw late yestre’en

Me stockings belong to my boy Tom

But they were the first came to my hand

And the wind did tousle my yellow hair

As I road over the land

Tom took the fiddle into his hand

And he fiddled and he played so saucily

And he’s off back to his master’s house

As fast as go could he

Then up when up my good master

Why snore you there so loud

For there Is not a cock in all this land

But has flapped his wings and crowed

Jack Orion took the fiddle into his hand

And he fiddled and he played so merrily

And he’s off away to the lady’s house

As fast as a go could he

And when he come to the lady’s door

He twirled so softly at the ring

O my dear it’s your true love

Rise up and let me in

She said surely you didn’t leave behind

A golden brooch nor a velvet glove

Or are you returned back again

To taste more of my love

Jack Orion he swore a bloody oath

By oak by ash by bitter thorn

Lady I never was in this room

Since the day that I was born

Oh then it was your own boy Tom

That cruelly has beguiled me

And woe that the blood of that ruffian boy

Should spring in my body

Jack Orion took off to his own house

Saying Tom my boy come here to me

And he hanged that boy from his own gatepost

As high as the willow tree


Bert Jansch

b. 3 November 1943, Glasgow, Scotland. This highly gifted acoustic guitarist and influential performer learned his craft in Edinburgh’s folk circle before being absorbed into London’s burgeoning circuit, where he established a formidable reputation as an inventive guitar player. His debut, Bert Jansch, is a landmark in British folk music and includes “Do You Hear Me Now”, a Jansch original later covered by Donovan, the harrowing “Needle Of Death”, and an impressive version of Davey Graham’s “Angie”. The artist befriended number of artists starting out in the 60s folk boom, including Robin Williamson and John Renbourn, who played supplementary guitar on Jansch’s second selection, It Don’t Bother Me. The two musicians then recorded the exemplary Bert And John, which was released alongside Jack Orion, Jansch’s third solo album. This adventurous collection featured a nine-minute title track and a haunting version of “Nottamun Town”, the blueprint for a subsequent reading by Fairport Convention. Jansch continued to make exceptional records, but his own career was overshadowed by his participation in the Pentangle alongside Renbourn, Jacqui McShee (vocals), Danny Thompson (bass) and Terry Cox (drums). Between 1968 and 1973 this accomplished, if occasionally sterile, quintet was one of folk music’s leading attractions, although the individual members continued to pursue their own direction during this time.

The Danny Thompson-produced Moonshine marked the beginning of his creative renaissance with delightful sleeve notes from the artist: “I hope that whoever listens to this record gets as much enjoyment as I did from helping me to make it”. L.A. Turnaround, released following the Pentangle’s dissolution, was a promising collection and featured assistance from several American musicians including a former member of the Monkees, Michael Nesmith. The album suffered from over production. Avocet was first issued in Denmark in 1978. It was the result of some extraordinary instrumental sessions with Danny Thompson and Martin Jenkins (flute/violin/mandolin). Although Jansch rightly remains a respected figure, his work during the 80s lacks the invention of those early releases. It came to light that much of this lethargy was due to alcoholism, and by his own admission, it took six years to regain a stable condition. In the late 80s he took time out from solo folk club dates to join Jacqui McShee in a regenerated Pentangle line-up, with whom he continues to tour. In the mid-90s he was performing regularly once again with confidence and fresh application. This remarkable reversal after a number of years of indifference was welcomed by his loyal core of fans.

When The Circus Comes To Town was an album that easily matched his early pivotal work. Not only does Jansch sing and play well but he brilliantly evokes the atmosphere and spirit of the decade in which he first came to prominence. Live At The 12 Bar was an excellent example of his sound in the mid-90s, following a successful residency at London’s 12 Bar Club. Although the recording quality is poor, another important release came in 1999 when unearthed recordings of some live performances from 1962-64 were transferred to CD and issued by Ace Records’ worthy subsidiary, Big Beat. Castle Communications also undertook a fine reissue programme in 2000, and with the publication of Colin Harper’s excellent biography, at last Jansch’s work has the profile it has warranted for many years. He is a master of British folk/blues with a highly distinctive voice that has improved with age, and is an often breathtakingly fluid and original acoustic guitarist.



At The Balance Of The Year….

A Blessing on you and your home on this Equinox…. I love the Fall. The change, the beauty the heady feeling of mortality. The mixture of heat and coolness, the sunsets… Portland is blessed by the beauty that you find here. Amazing really.

Must go, a very large edition today, so enjoy it and take your time….

Later on,



On The Menu:

The Links

The Original Whore with the Heart of Gold

In Honour of The Equinox: The Poetry of Gary Snyder

Art: Lord Frederick Leighton


The Links:

Iceman Oetzi Bled to Death

Creepy “Shadow Person” Effect Conjured by Brain Shocks

Fish egg ‘miracle’ needs cracking

Sheep are mutilated ‘in Satanic rituals’


The Original Whore with the Heart of Gold

How the Sacred Prostitute Fell from Gace, and How She May Return

by Levana Lindentree and Bestia Mortale

Finally he reached the portico after the hot, dusty wait outside, laid his silver in the salver. He was shown to a room where he could shake off the dust, wash, comb, scent himself, then to the courtyard, paved with pink marble. Doves scattered as he found a couch, their wings shuffling the air, which smelled of flowers. A fountain played, and in the distance someone tuned a stringed instrument, the liquid notes blending with the falling water.

Then she entered: face soft and grave, hair dressed high, a gown of thin silk bound about her, showing dark her areolas, her brush of pubic hair. She came up to him, held out her hand; deep black eyes met his. He found himself trembling, from fear or desire he couldn’t tell.

She led him to a small room, darkened, with a red-shaded lamp, a low bed. This was the moment he’d longed for, working in the delta, his family’s fields. She took him into her arms, golden arms smelling of honey, the wealth of her hair poured out over him, and he knew the Goddess had come to him. Surely this feeling was Hers, this liquid weight of sensation, this woman’s body stroking his, melding to his, running now with scented sweat and juices. He felt the God take him, and his uncertainty fell away.

The sacred whore appears in the earliest records, integral to society when humans were first gathering in cities and learning to write. The major work of the oldest known author, the Sumerian priestess Enheduanna, is a paean to the hierodule (sacred whore) of heaven, the goddess Inanna, Wendy Mulford writes in Love Poems by Women. In Babylon, center of the Akkadian civilization that adopted Sumer’s customs after conquering it, women prostituted themselves to all comers for the glory of Ishtar, a later cognate of Inanna. Still later, in ancient Greece and Rome, temple prostitution flourished. Cultures from Japan to Africa have honored the sacred whore.

Things are different now. In most world cultures today, prostitution, far from being sacred, carries by definition a weight of shame: “Prostituted” has come to mean, according to Webster’s Dictionary, “devoted to base or unworthy purposes, debased by venality, as in prostituting one’s talents.” How could you sink so low as to prostitute yourself? People across the political spectrum agree prostitution degrades women, destroys family values, is disgusting, sad and a symptom of social decay. Both the women who sell their bodies and the men who buy them must suffer pathetically low self-esteem, conventional wisdom says, because what woman with any self-respect would willingly be a whore? What kind of loser would pay to have sex with such a woman?

How did the sale of sex go from paying to enter paradise to paying for something vile? If we can make ourselves one with the gods by intake of food and drink – an idea that far predates Christian communion – how much more so through sex, in its full regalia of joy, pleasure and emotional healing. And what exactly is wrong with money changing hands for it? We pay even for sacred food and drink, for ritual wine and bread have to come from somewhere. Why did the archetype of the sacred whore fall from grace?

First, consider – what do we really mean by “prostitution?” If we define it simply as sex carried out in exchange for money or other material reward, we have the problem that “sacred prostitution” is used to describe activities ranging from sex for a fixed rate of pay, to sex for gifts or cash whose value varied widely (in Babylon, according to Herodotus, the goddess’s women could not turn away a stranger, whatever price he proffered), to ritual promiscuity in which no money changed hands. Some consider sacred prostitution to include the “hieros gamos,” the sacred marriage, “the traditional reenactment of the marriage of the goddess of love and fertility with her lover, the young, virile vegetation god,” as Nancy Qualls-Corbett puts it in The Sacred Prostitute: Eternal Aspect of the Feminine. Certainly the duties of the ranking hierodule often included celebrating the sacred marriage, the forerunner of the Craft’s Great Rite, with the king or high priest.

Perhaps we could distinguish mundane prostitution (sex for material reward alone) from sacred prostitution (sex for spiritual reward, perhaps accompanied with material reward). Ancient cultures at times made such a distinction in their laws and social attitudes, but generally during a period of transition. As long as sex was understood to be a sacred act, there was no need to emphasize the distinction between sacred and profane prostitution. When sex came to be regarded as potentially dangerous and shameful unless sanctified, such a distinction became useful, but often such attitudes evolved into the concept that sex was a patrilineal breeding function of no sanctity at all. As Merlin Stone points out in When God Was a Woman, patrilineal cultures tend to abhor sacred prostitution, because in it inheres a lack of concern for paternity. Children conceived by the Goddess do not know their fathers.

A useful definition of prostitution is further complicated by considering just how widespread prostitution really is. As evolutionary biologists have documented in recent years, the exchange of sex for material reward is common throughout the entire animal kingdom, because of its evolutionary advantage. Among the insects, birds, fish and mammals that practice sex for pay, the female makes a much larger reproductive investment than the male; “eggs are expensive, sperm is cheap,” as Natalie Angier writes in The Beauty of the Beastly. The female redresses the imbalance in some measure during courtship by requiring nuptial gifts of food, shelter or other resources from her suitors.

This practice is compatible with the kind of cooperative child care we call monogamous behavior. Helen Fisher describes in The Anatomy of Love how primate and human females alike have been observed to seek gifts in exchange for “adulterous” sex outside of monogamous relationships, gifts that greatly improve their children’s chances of survival. Their mates tolerate and even pimp the females for the gifts’ sake. Thus the roots of prostitution, and sacred prostitution, lie as deep as the animal kingdom. In our own culture, in spite of the jealousy fomented by patriarchal morality, many husbands tolerate or even encourage some promiscuity on their wives’ part once primary bonds have been established.

In view of the extent of sex for pay, it’s no joke that whoring’s called the oldest profession. It is also one of the world’s oldest documented forms of worship. Sacred prostitutes turn up in some of the oldest Sumerian records. Evidence from a Sumerian seal, described by Iris Furlong in “The Mythology of the Ancient Near East” in The Feminist Companion to Mythology, edited by Carolyne Larrington, shows sacred marriage rites may have been performed in Sumer before the middle of the third millennium B.C. – more than 4500 years ago. Later Sumerian writings give these duties to sacred prostitutes of the rank “nu gig,” and documentary evidence definitely shows sacred marriage including the ranking holy prostitute as a Sumerian ritual drama by the end of the second millennium B.C. Ruler and priestess replayed this drama yearly in the cities Ur and Isin for more than two millennia, until the 20th century B.C.

Sumer and Akkad celebrated the sacred marriage ritual at the Spring Equinox, then the New Year, after the return of the god Dumuzi or Tammuz from the underworld. This feast of collective pleasure involved the whole populace and lasted many days, according to At Mann and Jane Lyle in Sacred Sexuality. Everything in the rite was designed to stir the senses; men and women anointed themselves with essences, paints and jewelry, toasted the goddess and her bridegroom with wine and danced serpentine dances to lyre, flute and drum. Hierophants and priestesses performed libations and sacrifices and burned as incense cinnamon, aloes and myrrh.

At the ritual’s peak, the king approached the temple with offerings of oil, precious spices and delectable foods to tempt the goddess. He mounted to the goddess at the temple summit as the crowd chanted poetry. The ritual was performed as an allegorical masque, according to Furlong, including speaking parts and probably music; the king played the part of the god Dumuzi (“faithful son”), and a priestess of the highest rank played the goddess Inanna or Ishtar in a ritualized enactment of the divine coupling.

The poetry of the ritual, translated from the Sumerian Gudea Cylinders, circa 3000 B.C., reflects an attitude toward sex, and sexual spirituality, much different than that prevailing in Western culture today. Consider this is sacred poetry, a goddess speaking to a god (ellipses indicate breaks or unknown words in the original):

When for the wild bull, for the lord, I shall have bathed,

When for the shepherd Dumuzi I shall have bathed,

When with … my sides I shall have adorned,

When with amber my mouth I shall have coated,

When with kohl my eyes I shall have painted,

Then in his fair hands my loins shall have been shaped,

When the lord, lying by the holy Inanna, the shepherd Dumuzi,

With milk and cream the lap shall have smoothed…,

When on my vulva his hands shall have laid,

When like his black boat, he shall have… it,

When like his narrow boat, he shall have brought life to it,

When on the bed he shall have caressed me,

Then shall I caress my lord, a sweet fate I shall decree for him,

I shall caress Shulgi, the faithful shepherd, a sweet fate I shall decree for him,

I shall caress his loins, the shepherdship of all the lands,

I shall decree as his fate. (Quoted by Qualls-Corbett)

In similar Sumerian poetry, Inanna cries:

My vulva, the horn,

The Boat of Heaven,

Is full of eagerness like the young moon.

My untilled land lies fallow.

As for me, Inanna,

Who will plow my vulva?

Who will plow my high field?

Who will plow my wet ground?

Dumuzi answers her:

Great Lady, the king will plow your vulva.

I, Dumuzi the King, will plow your vulva.

Inanna responds:

Then plow my vulva, man of my heart!

Plow my vulva! (Quoted by Qualls-Corbett)

The sacred marriage as a rite acted on many levels. On a physical level, it renewed fertility. The Sumerians, according to Furlong, considered their ruler responsible for agricultural prosperity, and all sexual reproduction on earth, vegetable, animal and human, depended on his intercourse with the goddess. The sacred marriage also legitimized the king’s power; without it, Mann and Lyle write, he was not considered fit to rule. His leadership ability was directly linked to his consummating his marriage with the goddess.

Furthermore, on a deeper level, the ritual was based on psychological need, Qualls-Corbett writes. The sacred marriage, symbolizing the union of opposites, represents the need for wholeness, on the level of the individual psyche and also, we may hazard, on that of the group. It brings together in equal status the masculine and feminine; it grounds spirit and spiritualizes earth. Certainly any rite that continues for more than 2000 years must speak to the human spirit. The sacred marriage furthermore was not limited to Sumer but was found in different forms throughout the ancient Mediterranean.

The sacred marriage was the realm of the highest ranked sacred prostitute, the nu gig (“pure or spotless”), but under the Akkadian conquerors of Sumer, sacred prostitutes made up an entire complex hierarchy. According to Mann and Lyle, the top-ranking “entu,” possibly parallel to the nu gig, wore special caps and jewelry and carried a ceremonial staff like that of the ruler. “Naditu” formed the next hierarchical level and came from the highest families in land. Known for their business acumen, they played an essential role in the Akkadian economy.

“Quadishtu,” the “sacred women,” fell next in line, with “ishtaritu,” who specialized in dancing, music and singing. The dance of the women of Ishtar can be considered the mother of the belly dance. Its components, like the belly dance’s, included snake-like and vigorous hip and pelvic movements, the wafting of veils, descents to floor and the ritual wearing of a sash, linked to the girdle that was Ishtar’s symbolic emblem.

What prompted the formation of this female hierarchy that danced and made love for the Goddess? Cultures where the sacred prostitute figured prominently were usually matrilineal and female-focused, writes Qualls-Corbett, and considered nature, eroticism and fertility the core of existence. Sacred prostitution there was a logical development of the Earth Mother cult: If in sacred marriage a ranking man and woman’s intercourse makes land and animals fecund, why not extend that ritual to all, so everyone can help seek the Goddess’s blessing? Further, if sex is seen as a sacrament, sexual acts are an obvious and natural form of general worship.

Sacred prostitution may also be linked to the tribal custom, found variously throughout the world, wherein a young girl’s virginity is offered to an appointed tribal member who cannot become her husband. The defloration ceremony initiates the girl into tribal membership and is offered to the chief deity of the tribe. A decadent vestige of this custom is found in the medieval “droit de seigneur,” wherein the lord of manor had the right to the first night with any bride in his demesne.

Perhaps also sacred prostitution stemmed from practical considerations. In a Goddess-centric society, a life in Her service might be a logical alternative for women who didn’t want to pair-bond. Men might well seek out such priestesses, and casual liaisons pleasing to the Goddess might become an official service as time went on. In a sex-positive society, the office of providing sexual companionship and healing to people in need seems an obvious one. If sexual consultation lines got too long, and other jobs were neglected, asking for pay would redistribute resources and further honor the Goddess.

Wherever the post of the sacred prostitute came from, societies of which she was part sang her praises. Sumerians considered the art of ritual love-making one of the great gifts of the gods. The legend of Inanna and Enki, in which Inanna lays claim to the sacred rules or orderings of life that confer sovereignty among the gods, lists the sacred sexual customs as one of these vital rules. She brings these rules to civilize the people of Erech, the city most devoted to her, and her trophies include civilization and culture, music, crafts, judgment and truth as well as the art of civilized love-making and the office of the sacred prostitute.

One Sumerian tablet refers to Erech, Inanna’s city, as the city of “courtesans and prostitutes,” Stone writes. There, one of the duties of Her priestesses, considered incarnations of the goddess, was to make love to strangers. Another Sumerian fragment describes Inanna sending the maiden Lilith, the “hand of Inanna,” to gather men from the street to bring to the temple. Lilith in other Sumerian myths figures as an enemy of Inanna, and in Hebrew myths she is the first wife of Adam, who refused to be sexually submissive and became a demon who stole children.

In contrast to Lilith’s fall, the Sumerians and early Akkadians saw the sacred prostitute as a civilizing influence. In the epic of Gilgamesh, set by its writers in the second quarter of the third millennium B.C., according to Furlong, the “harimtu,” or sacred prostitute, figures prominently as such.

In this epic, the earliest found version of which is the Old Babylonian, written between 1800 and 1600 B.C., the wild man Endiku is sent to live on the steppe outside Gilgamesh’s city, Uruk. There he romps with the wild animals and tears up the huntsmen’s traps. The aggrieved hunters come to Gilgamesh planning Endiku’s capture; Gilgamesh suggests getting a harimtu to lure him. A harimtu agrees to do so and when Endiku appears lays “bare her ripeness,” opening her garments. This technique works like a charm. Endiku makes love to her for the next six days and seven nights.

After this experience, Endiku is tamed. He finds he can no longer communicate with the wild animals, who now flee from him. But he has gained in wisdom and understanding. He goes to the harimtu and asks advice as to what to do next; she suggests he go to the city and says she will introduce him to Gilgamesh. However, she cautions, he first must learn how to act in the king’s court. She offers to teach him social graces, including in Furlong’s interpretation how to eat with utensils, and he accedes. She leads him “like a child” to food and drink, at which he stares, but he manages to quaff seven pitchers of beer before he is ready to go to Uruk.

As Furlong writes, it appears the harimtu who prepared Endiku was not only sexually attractive but also cultured, educated and well qualified as a tutor. But, just as Lilith fell, the sacred prostitute as civilizer became less important in the Gilgamesh epic as it was rewritten over time. Furlong writes that in the version of the epic written 1000 years after the Old Babylonian, the description of Endiku’s education has become much shorter, and the harimtu is no longer shown as an educator.

Furthermore, in both the older and newer versions of the epic, Gilgamesh insults the great goddess Ishtar herself. She has wooed him, offering gifts, but Gilgamesh replies vituperatively, comparing her to a back door that does not keep out the wind, a leaky water-skin that drenches its carrier and a shoe that pinches. He lists her many lovers and underlines that these men all ended up in the underworld. Endiku also insults Ishtar, which is too much for the gods, who consign him to a long, slow death.

What Ishtar offers Gilgamesh, Furlong points out, is the standard sacred marriage. Gilgamesh’s insulting reply can be interpreted as an argument against the principle of sacred marriage, wherein the king’s right to reign depends on Ishtar’s favors. Furlong explains that the sacred marriage was a Sumerian royal ceremony, while the author of the Gilgamesh epic was writing in Akkadian, under the aegis of the conquerors. The Gilgamesh epic thus quite possibly folds in a political lampoon aimed at an outmoded, discredited concept of kingship.

The earlier Sumerians wouldn’t have treated a whore-goddess so. In a Sumerian myth including the same characters, Gilgamesh and Endiku are on warm and friendly terms with Inanna.

The Akkadians adopted many customs of their conquered country, but it is clear their civilization was more patriarchal than the earlier Sumerian culture. Ishtar, however, remained their tutelary goddess, lady of love and war, all-powerful. As the Whore of Babylon, Ishtar proudly oversaw the continuing tradition of sacred prostitution, announcing “A prostitute compassionate am I,” according to Barbara G. Walker’s The Women’s Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets. Ishtar thus was the original whore with the heart of gold. One of her titles was the Great Goddess Har, Mother of Harlots. Her priestesses had healing powers; a clay tablet from Nineveh says harlot’s spittle cures eye diseases. Her high priestess, the Harine, was spiritual ruler of her city of Ishtar. “Har” can be read as a cognate of the Persian houri and Greek hora, and may also be the origin of “harem,” which formerly meant a temple of women or sanctuary.

Under Babylon’s Code of Hammurabi, legislation protected the rights and good name of sacred whores, Qualls-Corbett writes. They were protected from slander, as were their children, by the same law that upheld married women’s reputations, and they could inherit property from their fathers and receive income from land worked by their brothers. Notice, however, the law implies that slander, presumably the slander that the sacred whore is a common prostitute, is enough of a danger that harimtu must be protected, and notice too that patrilineal inheritance is the norm. Though special houses were set aside for sacred prostitutes, residence there was not compulsory. However, if a sacred prostitute lived outside these houses, she could not open a wine shop on the pain of death – just as, at Déjà Vu or Razzmatazz today, by law liquor and erotic dancers can’t mix. Perhaps the Babylonian hierodule’s wine shop would have made her office too similar to that of the profane prostitute, who frequented taverns, Qualls-Corbett theorizes. We see the distinction between whores sacred and profane has become important in Babylon.

In another aspect of sacred prostitution, Herodotus recorded that in the third century B.C., as an offering to Ishtar, “Babylonian custom… compels every woman of the land once in her life to sit in the temple of love and have intercourse with some stranger… the men pass and make their choice. It matters not what be the sum of money; the woman will never refuse, for that were a sin, the money being by this act made sacred (quoted by Qualls-Corbett).” The stranger was viewed as an emissary of the gods, and when he tossed his coins into a woman’s lap, he ritually said, “May the goddess Mylitta make thee happy.” The money went to the woman but was an offering to the goddess in return for partaking in the rite, Qualls-Corbett says. Herodotus added, “After their intercourse she (the woman) has made herself holy in the sight of the goddess and goes away to her home; and thereafter there is no bribe however great that will get her.” By the third century B.C., profane prostitution was clearly considered shameful.

It is interesting to consider the progression that took place after the Akkadians conquered Sumer, as a matrilineal culture that openly honored a sexual goddess with sexual rites was gradually transformed into a male-dominated culture where sex was more and more considered dangerous and/or shameful. This same transformation occurred in the three ancient civilizations that most directly influenced modern Western culture, namely Judea, Greece and Rome.

Why? The easiest answer is that as militaristic patriarchies established patrilineal descent, female promiscuity could no longer be permitted to threaten men’s knowledge of paternity. For a man to be sure he was father of his children, the argument goes, he had to restrict access to his women. He had to make it bad and wrong for his women to have sex with anyone but himself. Any religion that encouraged female promiscuity had to be opposed.

This explanation is compelling in its simplicity and economic force, but it is not altogether psychologically satisfying. It explains political repression, but it does not explain the shame and fear so commonly attached to sex after the goddesses were discredited.

Joseph Campbell, in The Masks of God: Occidental Mythology, suggests a more subtle psychological and intellectual explanation when he writes “we are going to find, throughout the following history of the orthodox patriarchal systems of the West, that the power of this goddess-mother of the world… overthrown by her sons, is to remain as an ever-present threat to their castle of reason.” Perhaps it was the Oedipal feelings of the sons, combined with their left-brain orientation, that so turned them against their lascivious mothers.

Michel Foucault pointed out in The Use of Pleasure, however, that systems of sexual austerity in classical Greece were not really directed at women:

Women were generally subjected (excepting the liberty they could be granted by a status like that of courtesan) to extremely strict constraints, and yet this ethics was not addressed to women…. It was an ethics for men: an ethics thought, written, and taught by men, and addressed to men – to free men, obviously. A male ethics, consequently, in which women figured only as objects.

Foucault’s observation suggests this ethics was not addressing men’s mothers, or wives, but themselves, their own sexuality. The fascinating subtext in the development of Jewish, Greek and Roman attitudes towards sex is that without the guidance of female divinity, men were terrified of their own sexual obsessions. And it makes a certain sense. Don’t we all know that Boys are only interested in One Thing? And once they get It, they don’t want It any more?

From this perspective, the ecstatic self-castration practiced by priests of Cybele and Astarte in Roman times does not really fit the Freudian model of a castrating mother. It was not the goddess, after all, but the hermaphroditic monster Agdistis who inspired Attis to chop off his testicles, and his followers in their frenzies presumably took the same inspiration. Granted, sacrifice was often associated with the fertility rites of spring, but the idea of voluntarily sacrificing one’s balls seems peculiarly male; it is men, not women, who feel such ecstatic ambivalence about them.

Moreover, precisely this kind of ascetic abnegation of sexuality characterized the male-dominated religious cultures of the time. Pliny, like the Pythagoreans before him, admired the virtues he ascribed to elephants: They were strictly monogamous and had sex only once every three years, and then only to beget children. Over and over, we find male ascetics in Judea, Greece and Rome teaching that sex for pleasure, and particularly masturbation, can weaken a man in ways reminiscent of but worse than actual emasculation.

Why so often in history do we find that female spirituality honors sex as sacred, while male spirituality finds it degrading, weakening, impure and sinful? Margaret Mead offers some clues in her remarkable study, Male and Female. For men, physical sexuality focuses on the moment of ejaculation, whereas a woman’s physical sexuality is much more broadly integrated into her life, including menstruation, orgasm, intercourse, pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood. Through the normal course of their lives, women can automatically build a sense of sexual identity and achievement, even against the opposition of their culture, whereas ejaculation alone can never be enough for a man. Mead writes:

In every known human society, the male’s need for achievement can be recognized.… The recurrent problem of civilization is to define the male rôle satisfactorily enough… so that the male may in the course of his life reach a solid sense of irreversible achievement, of which his childhood knowledge of the satisfactions of childbearing have given him a glimpse.

There is another factor as well. Although both genders share many emotions surrounding sex, including love, tenderness, nurturing and the kind of testosterone-induced arousal pejoratively referred to as lust, men live with testosterone levels from 30 to over 100 times higher than those of women, on average. Trish Thomas in Issue 5 of Future Sex writes of a female-to-male transsexual named Max, who describes his emotional changes after taking male hormones:

I [now] understand why men are the animals that they are. You see sex in so many places that it’s not necessarily meant to be. I see a pretty woman walking down the street and I can’t keep my eyes off her. I don’t even realize that I’m staring. Then I think to myself, Well what’s wrong with that, I just think she’s good-looking.

Sex for men is like a buzzer that keeps going off whether or not you want it to, making it hard to integrate sex into the rest of life. Where sex is concerned, men, not women, are at the mercy of emotion they cannot control.

In Goddess-centric cultures, then, where women’s sexuality was primary, it is not surprising sex was approached with confidence, nurturing and fertility proudly combined with pleasure. Conversely, as the Father-Warrior God became dominant, in Judea, Greece and Rome, it makes sense that the priests of the new order would try to quell such an insistent internal threat to the hero’s self-discipline. Interestingly enough, though, in all three cultures, the explicitly male intellectual culture that emerged victorious continued to coexist with a “secret,” perhaps no less powerful female culture that did not seek to declare dominance.

Consider the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament, from which a great deal of our Western revulsion for harlotry derives. At the end of “The Hebrew God and His Female Complements” in The Feminist Companion to Mythology, Athalya Brenner writes:

Gender issues in the Hebrew Bible can hardly be redeemed for feminists.… On the whole, the Good Book is a predominantly M[ale] document which reflects a deeply-rooted conviction in regard to woman’s Otherness and inferiority.… The post-reading sensation I experience focuses on the bitter taste in my mouth. This is my heritage, I cannot shake it off. And it hurts.

As she observes, Jewish patriarchal religion was in intimate competition for more than 1000 years with the sex-positive Mother-Goddess religions of its near neighbors. In Exodus 34:12-16, the Father-God tells Moses:

Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither you go, lest it become a snare in the midst of you. You shall tear down their altars, and break their pillars, and cut down their Ashe’rim (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they play the harlot after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and one invites you, you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters play the harlot after their gods and make your sons play the harlot after their gods.

Similarly, Numbers 25 describes violent struggles against the harlotry of the Moabites (Ruth was a Moabite), beginning:

While Israel dwelt in Shittim the people began to play the harlot with the daughters of Moab. These invited the people to the sacrifices of their gods, and the people ate, and bowed down to their gods.

In Leviticus, the Father-God’s pronouncements to Moses about sexual conduct include the exhortation “Do not profane your daughter by making her a harlot” and stipulations such as that Aaron’s priestly sons must marry only virgins, not harlots or divorcees and that “the daughter of any priest, if she profanes herself by playing the harlot, profanes her father; she shall be burned by fire.” Throughout, we encounter the patriarchal language of shame, defilement, lewd nakedness (male nudity being the most forbidden), sin and iniquity. When the Father-God describes to Ezekiel the quasi-symbolic harlotry of Samaria and Jerusalem, His revulsion at their defilement has a sensuous specificity:

They played the harlot in their youth; there their breasts were pressed and their virgin bosoms handled. (Ezekiel 23:3)

As Brenner points out, the Judaism of the Hebrew Bible was written by males for males: What it records is the religion of Jewish men. It has been common to assume that the religion of Jewish women was the same, for was Israel not a prototypical patriarchy? But the Bible often suggests that in fact Jewish women actually were “other” in their religion, following the Mother-Goddess in various forms while their fathers and husbands disapproved, sometimes harshly, sometimes petulantly, but seldom effectively.

When Hosea wrote in the eighth century B.C., for example, taking the role for himself of the Father-God, he identified his harlot wife Gomer with the people of Israel: even then, the identity of the nation was that of its women, its wicked harlots, the devotees of the Mother-Goddess. Hosea describes Her rites (4:11-14):

Wine and new wine take away the understanding. My people inquire of a thing of wood, and their staff gives them oracles. For a spirit of harlotry has led them astray, and they have left their God to play the harlot. They sacrifice on the tops of the mountains, and make offerings upon the hills, under oak, poplar and terebinth, because their shade is good. Therefore your daughters play the harlot, and your brides commit adultery. I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot, nor your brides when they commit adultery; for the men themselves go aside with harlots, and sacrifice with cult prostitutes…

Although it is the men’s books in general of the Hebrew Bible that have survived to influence our modern outlook, there is one women’s book, the Song of Songs, or Song of Solomon, that provides direct testimony to the spirit of the Jewish women’s mysteries. Anne Baring and Jules Cashford, in The Myth of the Goddess, recognize Inanna’s sacred marriage in such beautiful verses as (6:10): “Who is this that looks forth like the dawn, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army with banners?” They point out that the verse, “I am black but comely, O ye daughters of Jerusalem” (1:5), refers back to the black night ruled by the Goddess, filled with mystery, wisdom and the power of regeneration, rather than to the later Iron Age darkness associated with fear and evil.

What the Hebrew Bible testifies above all is how widely sexual veneration of the Mother-Goddess spread throughout the Near East; it had become, as Brenner writes, an integral part of Mediteranean culture in the first millenium B.C.. Just as the strictly clothed nomadic Jewish warriors held up their Father-God against Her in Palestine, so the naked, phallus-admiring Greek warriors fought it on different ground in the Peloponnesus.

Unlike the Hebrews, the Greeks did not rely on their religion for justification of patriarchal laws and practices; instead, they developed powerful military, atheletic and intellectual subcultures that gave life meaning for their men and excluded their women. Sacred prostitution was always widely practiced in Greece, particularly in the temples of Aphrodite, most famously in her birthplace Cyprus and in Corinth. In Corinth, she was known as “Aphrodite the Courtesan” and “Aphrodite Who Writhes,” and Strabo in the first century B.C. says 1000 sacred prostitutes worked in her temple there, the same number at Mount Eryx in Sicily. But the proud priestesses of love had in most cases been replaced by slaves, and though Hesiod said the sacred prostitutes, or Horae, “mellowed the behavior of men,” their function was more to serve men’s pleasure than to enoble them through sacred contact with the Goddess.

The Greeks had been influenced early on by Crete, where the celebration of sacred marriage was a central rite of a rich, Goddess-centric civilization, as Baring and Cashford describe. Although the Myceneans borrowed much from Crete, and the Homeric pantheon was evenly divided between male and female deities, the Myceneans were already a warlike culture dominated by male heros, and mother Hera quickly became a jealous, petty-minded wife, subordinate to Zeus in a most imperfect marriage. By the 6th century B.C., Solon’s laws in Athens gave no rights to women, reducing wives to the status of servants. Common prostitutes were forced to distinguish themselves from wives by dress and behavior, and their children were explicitly denied legitimacy and citizenship. Of all Hellenic women, only the high courtesans known as “hetaerae” seem to have retained the legal and political rights of male citizens.

Not only that, but Greek intellectuals and spiritual leaders from Pythagoras to Plato championed the rigorous control of sexual feelings. Virtue lay in abstaining.

And yet, as in the Jewish case, it seems that true sexual reverance of the Goddess was not as rapidly or thoroughly defeated as legal, intellectual and political history would suggest. All the hints we have suggest that the older Goddess-centric attitudes were perpetuated in secret in the mystery cults. In the mysteries of Eleusis, which the writer Diodorus said came from Crete, where they were an open festival, it appears Demeter took the role played by Inanna in Sumer, ruling the endless cycle of death, fertility and rebirth, and consummating a sacred union. Of her mysteries, Mann and Lyle quote the Bishop of Amaseia, in the 5th century A.D.: “Is there not performed the descent into darkness, the venerated congress of the hierophant with the priestess, of him alone with her alone? Are not the torches extinguished and does not the vast and countless assemblage believe that in what is done by the two in the darkness is their salvation?” The wild maenads of Dionysus, too, were not only dangerous, but also lascivious. And as late as 150 A.D., the women of Corinth took strangers as lovers on the feast day of Adonis. Greek women, it appears, did not readily submit to the debased and powerless roles prescribed for them.

Rome provides a third version of the same general story. In early Rome, reverence for the fertility goddess was given great importance, and the famous Vestal Virgins may initially have been sacred prostitutes, according to Mann and Lyle. Vestal Virgins possibly underwent a form of secret marriage ceremony involving the Pontifex Maximus, who initiated them into their role as brides of the city, and the phallic deity of the Palladium. Over time, however, the meaning of the word “virgin” changed from signifying an unmarried woman to meaning an unsullied female who was patriarchal property, and the Romans developed a prudery reminiscent of the Victorians. This is not to deny the soulless and often cruel debauchery whose perverse attraction drew so many Victorians to become Latinists, but rather to point out that the Romans themselves exalted a stoic abstinence they did not necessarily practice.

But sacred prostitution lingered in Rome. Among profane prostitutes, according to Mann and Lyle, remnants of sacred sexual rituals remained. A certain class of prostitutes, “lupae,” or she-wolves, attracted clients with wailing howls; remember that the wolf is the symbol of Mother Rome. Underlining the link between sexual ecstasy and death, the “busturariae” worked in graveyards, providing sex on tombstones and funeral mourning services. The cult of Isis in Rome may have practiced sacred prostitution, Mann and Lyle write, and a cult pattern of sacred marriage emerges, according to Walter Burkert in Ancient Mystery Cults. Certainly Isis’ cult wielded a great following among profane whores.

In the Roman province of Anatolia, Cybele’s birthplace (now Turkey), Strabo records sexual worship in the first century B.C. He reports that children born from sacred prostitution were considered legitimate and were given the name and social status of their mothers. “The unmarried mother seems to be worshipped,” he writes, according to Stone. In an Anatolian inscription from 200 A.D. a woman named Aurelia proudly announced she had served in temple by taking part in sexual customs, as had her mother and all her female ancestors.

As for ancient European veneration of the sacred whore, we can only guess at it. Nothing direct comes down to us, only scattered reports from the conquering Romans. However, Celtic mythology hints at sacred marriage rites. In Ireland, the king traditionally married the land, personified by one of three sovereignty goddesses. In Scotland, the Queen Hermutrude was said to have granted her lovers kingship, yielding her kingdom with herself. The legend of King Arthur also contains possible evidence of sacred sexual rituals. Lancelot and Mordred contend with Arthur for his kingship, including, importantly, the favors of Guinevere. If Guinevere was the sacred whore, standing in for the initiatory goddess, it was she who held true power. In Germany, Guinevere’s name is “Cunneware,” meaning female wisdom. As late as medieval times, a law was required in Germany to prevent people’s building a “hörgr,” a house of holy whores, according to Walker.

The Celtic and witch holiday of Beltaine celebrates a sacred marriage feast, crowning a May King and Queen, also called the Lord and Lady or John Thomas and Lady Jane. On May Eve, men and women go to the woods to make “green-backs,” as Shakespeare puts it. From the woods, they bring home the May, hawthorn blossoms, then dance around the phallic Maypole.

Beltaine celebrants decorate the Maypole with ribbons and flowers, just as the pine tree of Attis was decorated with ribbons and violets, Baring and Cashford point out, another connection being that, after the Julian calendar was instituted, May Day was Attis’s time of death and resurrection. The Green Man, connected with the May King, could be a descendent of Dumuzi, also called the “Green One.” The British Morris dancers may be the last descendants of the Anatolian Corybantes, orgiastic dancers of Cybele.

In the non-Western world, among the Ewe-speaking people of the former African Slave Coast, girls ages 10 to 12 trained in temples and served priests and seminarians as sacred whores, according to Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend. Japan has a tradition of “Holy Mothers,” according to Walker, promiscuous priestess-shamanesses who enter shrines to lie with priests possessed by the god’s spirit.

In the Southern Provinces of India, large numbers of women performed as sacred whores, according to Funk and Wagnalls. They made a symbolic marriage to the gods, and their duties included dancing before the gods as well as prostitution. In India’s Central Provinces, temple dancing girls with similar duties, initiated after a bargain with their parents, were dressed as brides and married to a dagger, walking several times around a central post. In Hyderabad, Hindu girls married Siva and Krishna and were called the gods’ servants. The Hindu devadasis, human copies of the lascivious heavenly nymphs, were promiscuous priestesses who lay with priests possessed by the god’s spirit, Walker writes. Indian Tantric rites both Hindu and Buddhist incorporate sex; the Tantric word for sacred harlot is “veshya,” possible a cognate of Vesta, the name of the Roman hearth-goddess.

Tantra has seen some recent popularity in the United States, but no more does the sacred whore ply her trade. Even as an archetype – that is, a numinous image forming part of the inherited psychic structure of all people – the sacred whore hasn’t much currency in the Western world today. Current attitudes toward the strong, sexual female swing heavily toward the negative; witness the popularity of such movies as Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction and Disclosure, all movies in which archetypally strong, sexual women figure as destructive forces and where possible are duly punished. Though it’s been 2800 years since Hosea, we still need to chastise our lewd women.

The sacred whore is, by contrast, a constructive archetype. The sacred prostitute is a dynamic, transformative, ecstatic facet of the feminine, writes Qualls-Corbett; her dynamism pushes the boundaries of the individual psyche in a positive way, and she is linked to Eros, to ecstasy, to liberation from group convention, to being taken temporarily beyond yourself in a way that even after broadens your experience of life.

She is connected to the goddess, but, importantly, she is not the goddess herself. “We can amplify the meaning of the goddess and realize the psychological implications of the image,” Qualls-Corbett writes, “but… it can never be fully integrated into consciousness. We cannot enter the realm of the gods or identify with their power; that leads to insanity, to the overwhelming of the human ego.” On the psychological level, just as on the level of ritual, the sacred prostitute works as the goddess’s mediatrix. She brings the ecstatic, liberating qualities of the goddess into the material world, where we can integrate them into life.

For women, she provides a role model, an image of one initiated into mysteries, who has achieved connection with the goddess of love. Qualls-Corbett calls this achievement analogous to the process whereby a woman frees herself from identification with the role of the father’s daughter. Afterward, Qualls-Corbett writes, “the woman is no longer bound by the collective conscious attitude of the ‘old king’ father principle.” One feels a certain presence in such a woman’s company, Qualls-Corbett writes, “a combination of joy and wisdom. She is ‘one-in-herself,’ free of the confines of convention; she lives life as she chooses.”

For men, the archetype of the sacred prostitute provides a channel through which sexuality can be positively integrated into life. Through her, sex is offered to the Goddess; all that frightening, obsessive, testosterone-driven instinct can be directed toward the divine female, who can take it, and who can transform it. As Sallie Tisdale writes in Talk Dirty to Me, the work of the sacred prostitute “has the potential to tease the true anxiety men feel about women, the anxiety they hide in brutality or simply bravado, tease it up to the surface to be transformed into something else – desire, affection, rest, wonder.” Once safe, sexuality can become the art of love.

The sacred prostitute can be seen also as an aspect of a man’s anima, the internal feminine, muse and avatar of spirituality and gentle eroticism. To connect with her energy modifies a man’s image, of himself as well as of women. The sacred prostitute within brings a man joy, laughter, beauty and an openness to love and sexuality and connects him also to creative impulses on all levels, pouring across boundaries to rejuvenate all of life.

The archetype of the sacred prostitute hasn’t disappeared from the world of men; Qualls-Corbett writes she occurs frequently in her patients’ dreams. But it’s also clear she’s far from top dog among Western society’s archetypes. Power, wealth and technology are what drive the world today; that’s what you’ll find on the front page. Even pagans have qualms about worshipping the goddess of love: What would the neighbors think? What would my mother think – Levana wonders – if I reported to her the antics of the Beltaine Aphrodite shrine? I would be lying if I said I didn’t care.

Yet the sacred prostitute is powerfully attractive as an archetype. The dancer in the temple, she who smiles; golden-limbed, smelling of honey, generous with sexual pleasure shot through with spiritual ecstasy: Who can deny her appeal? She holds us in her arms, takes us through dark places into light; she leads us out of ourselves, into better, stronger versions of who we could be.

Where is she in the world today? We’re not the only ones looking for her. Annie Sprinkle, whose work includes the luminous video Sluts and Goddesses, and Carole Leigh, a.k.a. the Scarlot Harlot, interviewed in this issue, spring quickly to mind. Despite, or perhaps in reaction to, the offensive of the anti-pornographers of the Christian Right and the sex-negative feminist wing, writers such as Pat Califia, Carol Queen, Susie Bright and Sallie Tisdale have entered the hierodule’s territory. Still, you can’t walk down to the corner with the price in your hand, as you could in Sumer, and find the temple of the sacred whore.

You can find mundane prostitutes, though. The streetwalker and call girl, and their more legal sex-industry sisters the exotic dancer and the sexual masseuse, are the most numerous now of Inanna’s children. To pretend their jobs, especially that of the street hooker, are universally pretty and fun would be a bad joke. Their work seems fraught with dangers: Porn stars get AIDS; prostitutes, especially those with pimps, get strung out on drugs. Conversely, addicts on the street often wind up hooking; few not alienated or desperate choose street prostitution as a livelihood, since in our society it’s considered one of the lowest forms of down and out. Prostitution, especially on the street, can also be violent.

Is such danger and degradation necessarily the case? No. We see from earlier civilizations that prostitution can be considered an art, that the position of the whore can be raised as high or higher than that of the matron. Assuming the acts of sex haven’t changed since ancient Sumer, what does differ? The attitude of society toward the whore, reflected in every facet of life, from daily interaction, to the legal system, to spirituality. The scorn of society adds considerably to the violence done to prostitutes, Tisdale writes; a prostitute becomes a throwaway woman, and it’s nearly impossible to get a conviction for a man who rapes her. Furthermore, as Tisdale notes, “People who believe sex work is by definition bad, because it must by definition be exploitive, can rationalize extremely punishing behavior to save sex workers from themselves.”

“‘”Doing sex work is damaging,” people say. “Giving all those blowjobs is damaging, it’s degrading,”‘” mimics Samantha Miller, head of the prostitute’s union COYOTE (for Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics), in Tisdale’s book. “‘I think society’s attitude toward blowjobs is what’s degrading. Not the actual act.’”

Even in our society, the debased face of prostitution is not the only one, or even the most prevalent one. “‘That really down-and-out, do-anything-for money kind is about five percent’” of U.S. prostitution, Miller says; she adds, “‘I can’t tell you how much bigger and how much more underground prostitution is than anybody knows about or seems to have been willing to talk about.’” Tisdale says of social worker Martha Stein, who studied a group of prostitutes for four years, “Stein was surprised to find all her stereotypes defused. She found happy, attractive, healthy, prosperous prostitutes, many of whom worked part-time as whores and in their other lives were students or housewives.”

Working prostitutes acknowledge whoring can be a healing, generous art. Tisdale quotes prostitute Jackie Daniels: “‘I have people I’ve been seeing for years…. It’s very much like a therapist-patient or doctor-patient relationship…. We will probably always need doctors, we will always need counselors, therapists, psychic healers and advisers in the same way that we will always need prostitutes. These are sex experts, sexual healers.’”

“‘When these people (customers) come to you, they’re coming to you not only for sexual release – which is often the easiest part – but with emotional needs as well,’” Tisdale quotes another prostitute, Alex. “‘Some are lonely. It’s almost as though they want a mommy for half an hour. It’s weird because often I’m half their age, and here they are like little babies suckling at my breast, getting nurtured…. Men come to me who are just dying to be touched. Paying any kind of attention to their body is so nice.’” Tisdale compares the role of the prostitute to that of the nurse.

Even in this society, prostitutes feel the minstry of the sacred whore. “‘I really believe there are some people who truly, truly love the work, a hundred percent of the time, and there’s nothing they’d rather do,’” Alex says. “‘And then there’s some people like me – sometimes I like it, sometimes I don’t…. Sometimes I love it and I have a great time and feel like I’ve done something nice for another. I’ve been paid well for it and there’s respect on both sides. Sometimes it’s like the best kind of work I’ve ever done.’”

Part of reacknowledging the sacred whore is redeeming the office of the mundane prostitute, acknowledging the important work she does for us all. But can we truly bring back the sacred whore? Can we call her up out of myth, past the veils of past time that obscure 2000 years? What would she do for us?

It’s worth trying, because we need her. We need her partly to reduce our high-tech stress. In cultures that practiced occasional ritual prostitution either as an initiation, as in Babylon, or in periodic festivals, the license probably helped reduce societal tensions, Funk and Wagnalls says. The more sexually permissive the culture, the lower the rate of crime, Anodea Judith writes in Wheels of Life.

We need the sacred prostitute on a psychological level as well. She is the guardian spirit of a certain kind of passion, a passion we need to balance the dark engines of power that run rampant in our world. We need her depth; as Qualls-Corbett writes, “Paper hearts and baby cupids hardly suffice; they are symbols of a sentimental romanticism which merely fulfills ego desires.” The sacred prostitute holds between her thighs a source of vital energy, as Qualls-Corbett writes:

“As older images (such as the sacred prostitute), … symbolizing the communion of sexuality and spirituality, become inaccessible to our conscious understanding, so a source of vital energy escapes us…. Jung writes that the loss of an archetype ‘gives rise to that frightful discontent in our culture.’ Without the vital feminine to balance the collective patriarchal principle, there is a certain barrenness to life. Creativity and personal development are stifled.”

In individual psychological work, once the image of the sacred whore was made conscious in patients’ lives, Qualls-Corbett found a noticeable change in attitude. Though fears came up, and relationships altered, patients’ rigid attachment to collective attitudes loosened, and they gained greater creativity in their approach to life problems, finding new solutions. A sense of humor, previously buried, often came to the fore. A new erotic, exhilarating dimension appeared.

Our society as a whole could use to loosen up so. The sacred prostitute is part of our heritage as humans, long buried now; if we resurrected her, she could open for us a new path forward, a new choice springing green in a barren landscape, a way of reconnecting with our bodies, our sexuality, our creativity, and with ecstasy, a way we too could be reborn.

How many miles to Babylon?

Fourscore miles and ten.

Can I get there by candlelight?

Yes, and back again. (Nursery rhyme)

Let’s hope so.



In Honour of The Equinox: The Poetry of Gary Snyder


Beat-up datsun idling in the road

shreds of fog

almost-vertical hillsides drop away

huge stumps fading into mist

soft warm rain

Snaggy, forked and spreading tops, a temperate cloud-forest tree

Chamaecyparis formosiana–

Taiwan hinoki,

hung-kuai red cypress

That the tribal people call kisiabaton

this rare old tree

is what we came to see.

from No Nature by Gary Snyder. Copyright© 1992 by Gary Snyder.


At Tower Peak

Every tan rolling meadow will turn into housing

Freeways are clogged all day

Academies packed with scholars writing papers

City people lean and dark

This land most real

As its western-tending golden slopes

And bird-entangled central valley swamps

Sea-lion, urchin coasts

Southerly salmon-probes

Into the aromatic almost-Mexican hills

Along a range of granite peaks

The names forgotten,

An eastward running river that ends out in desert

The chipping ground-squirrels in the tumbled blocks

The gloss of glacier ghost on slab

Where we wake refreshed from ten hours sleep

After a long day’s walking

Packing burdens to the snow

Wake to the same old world of no names,

No things, new as ever, rock and water,

Cool dawn birdcalls, high jet contrails.

A day or two or million, breathing

A few steps back from what goes down

In the current realm.

A kind of ice age, spreading, filling valleys

Shaving soils, paving fields, you can walk in it

Live in it, drive through it then

It melts away

For whatever sprouts

After the age of

Frozen hearts. Flesh-carved rock

And gusts on the summit,

Smoke from forest fires is white,

The haze above the distant valley like a dusk.

It’s just one world, this spine of rock and streams

And snow, and the wash of gravels, silts

Sands, bunchgrasses, saltbrush, bee-fields,

Twenty million human people, downstream, here below.

from No Nature by Gary Snyder. Copyright© 1992 by Gary Snyder.


Milton by Firelight

Piute Creek , August 1955

“Oh hell, what do mine eyes with grief behold ?”

Working with an old

Singlejack miner, who can sense

The vain and cleavage

In the very guts of rock, can

Blast granite, build

Switchbacks that last for years

Under the beat of snow, thaw, mule-hooves

What use,Milton , a silly story

Of our lost general parents, eaters of fruit ?

The Indian, the chainsaw boy

And a string of six mules

Came riding down to camp

Hungry for tomatoes and green apples.

Sleeping in saddle-blankets

Under a bright red night-sky

Han River slantwise by morning.

Jays squall

Coffeee boils

In ten thousand years the Sierra

Will be dry and dead, home of the scorpions.

Ice-scratched slabs and bent trees.

No paradise, no fall,

Only the weathering land

The wheeling sky,

Man, with his Satan

Scouring the chaos of the mind.

Oh Hell!

Fire down

Too dark to read, miles from a road

The bell-mare clangs in the meadow

That packed dirt for a fill-in

Scrambling through loose rocks

On an old trail

All of a summer’s day



After Work

The shack and a few trees

float in the blowing fog

I pull out your blouse,

warm my cold hands

on your breasts.

you laugh and shudder

peeling garlic by the

hot iron stove.

bring in the axe, the rake,

the wood

we’ll lean on the wall

against each other

stew simmering on the fire

as it grows dark

drinking wine.


The Local Thingie…

Local Happenings…

Cymon n’ Scott…

Cymon brought Scott Taylor by on his way back to Australia after 6 months of touring the US and the Caribbean… we had an enjoyable evening this past Friday, with Scott going over his cause for the Sentients of the Sea, “The Dolphin Embassy. Really, he puts it so very, very well.

After drinks we met up at a local resturant for dinner. I had been waiting for my nephew to show, but it didn’t happen, and we ended up eating, drinking, and having a very nice time.

Cymon was funny and witty as she ever is, and getting time to spend with Scott was a golden moment. Thank goodness for fellow travellers.

His companion Amanda had headed home early for her daughters delivery. Best of luck, though it would have been nice to spend some time with her as well.

Hopefully Scott will be coming back this way soon, (he has family here in Portland!) and when he does, we will have a celebration.

A big thanks to Cymon for facilitating this get-together!


Best Buds….

Dr. Jules and Mr. John hanging at our place a couple of weeks ago when the weather was still something to admire. These characters have been on the party circuit together/off and on for some 20 years.

They are currently planning to lead a Yellow Dog Revolution in a neighborhood near you.

If you have a party, they are for hire. Ready to stir it up at a given moment. Just add, and stir!


On the Menu

The Links

Psychotherapy and Shaminism – Ralph Metzner, Ph.D

Poetry From The Breton….




The Links

Botanists grow 200-year-old seeds

Creature related to Yardley Yeti?

The Psychic Symphony

of course, it is a liberal church: IRS investigates Calif. church


Psychotherapy and Shaminism – Ralph Metzner, Ph.D


(published in: Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, Vol 30, No. 4, Oct-Dec 1998,

special issue on: Therapeutic Use of Hallucinogens.)

By way of introducing a comparative overview of the role of psychoactives in psychological healing practices, a brief personal note might be permitted. As a psychologist, I have been involved in the field of consciousness studies, including altered states induced by drugs, plants and other means, for over 35 years. In the 1960′s I worked at Harvard University with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, doing research on the possible therapeutic applications of psychedelic drugs, such as LSD and psilocybin (Leary et al., 1964). During the 1970′s the focus of my work shifted to the exploration of non-drug methods for the transformation of consciousness, such as are found in Eastern and Western traditions of yoga, meditation and alchemy (Metzner, 1971). I also studied intensively the newer psychotherapeutic methods, many deriving from the work of pioneers such as Wilhelm Reich, that involve deep altered states induced by breath- and body-work. During the 1980′s I came into contact with the work of Michael Harner (1973), Joan Halifax (1982), Peter Furst (1972, 1976), Terence and Dennis McKenna (1975) and others, who have studied shamanic teachings and practices around the globe. These shamanic traditions involve non-ordinary states of consciousness induced by a variety of methods including hallucinogenic plants, but also drumming, fasting, wilderness vision questing, sweat-lodge and others.

Realizing that there were traditions reaching into pre-historic times of the respectful use of hallucinogens for shamanic healing and divination, I became much more interested in the plants and mushrooms that have a history of such use. Indigenous people are known to have a profound knowledge of plants and herbs and their effects on the body and mind; they are well able to distinguish harmful from beneficial medicines. For this reason the vision-inducing plants that have a tradition of shamanic usage are much more likely to be safe, in contrast to newly discovered and synthesized drugs, the use of which may often involve unknown long-term risks.

It became clear to me as a result of these explorations, that while Western psychotherapy and indigenous shamanism may sometimes use the same or similar psychoactive substances for healing and obtaining knowledge (called diagnosis in the West and divination in traditional cultures), there are profound differences between them in underlying worldview and assumptions about the nature of reality. In this paper I propose to compare the use of psychoactives, as well as the underlying worldviews, in four systems of consciousness transformation: (1) psychotherapy within the standard Western paradigm, (2) shamanic rituals of healing and divination, (3) syncretic folk religious ceremonies, and (4) what I call hybrid therapeutic-shamanic rituals, which represent a blending of indigenous shamanic and Western psychotherapeutic approaches.

A note on terminology: I use the terms “psychedelic”, “hallucinogenic” and “entheogenic” interchangeably. “Psychedelic”, the term coined by Humphrey Osmond and Aldous Huxley and popularized by Leary and the Harvard group, means “mind-manifesting.” “Hallucinogenic” is the term most often used in the psychiatric research literature for these substances. The main objection to the term “hallucinogenic” is that these drugs and plants do not in fact induce hallucinations, in the sense of “illusory perceptions”. But the term “hallucinogen” deserves to be rehabilitated. The original meaning of the Latin alucinare is to “wander in one’s mind”; and travelling or journeying in inner space are actually quite appropriate descriptive metaphors for such experiences, which are referred to colloquially as “trips”. The term “entheogen”, proposed by R. Gordon Wasson and Jonathan Ott, has the same root as “enthusiasm”, and means “releasing or expressing the divine within” (Ott, 1995).

Psychotherapy within the Standard Western Paradigm

When the fantastically potent mind-altering qualitites of LSD were first discovered, at the height of World War II in a Swiss pharmaceutical lab, they were characterized as “psychotomimetic” and “psycholytic”. The prospect of unhinging the mind from its normal parameters for a few hours to simulate madness interested a small number of daring psychiatric researchers as a possible training experience. Predictably, this possiblity also intrigued the military and espionage agencies of both superpowers, especially the Americans. Considerable research effort and expense was devoted for about ten years to determining the most effective surreptitious delivery systems to unsuspecting enemy soldiers, agents or leaders, for maximum confusion, disoriention or embarrassment (Lee and Shlain, 1985). Ironically, and fortunately, it was the capacity of LSD to tap into the hidden mystical potentials of the human mind that ruined its applicability as a weapon of war. Rather than making subjects predictably submissive to mind-control programming, LSD had the unnerving propensity to suspend the existing mental programming and thereby release one into awesome worlds of cosmic consciousness. The military was not prepared to have soldiers or espionage agents turn into mystics.

The first research papers that came out of the Sandoz labs where Albert Hofmann had synthesized LSD and accidentally discovered its astounding properties, described it as bringing about “psychic loosening or opening” (seelische Auflockerung). This was the psycholytic concept that became the dominant model for LSD-assisted psychotherapy in Europe. In psycholytic therapy, neurotic patients suffering from anxiety, depression, obsessive-compulsive or psychosomatic disorders, were given LSD in a series of sessions at gradually increasing doses, while undergoing more or less standard analytic interactions using a Freudian perspective (Passie, 1997; Grof, 1980). The rationale was that through the psycholysis, the loosening of defenses, the patient would become more vividly aware of his or her previously unconscious emotional dynamics and reaction patterns (presumably acquired in early family interactions), and such insight would bring about a resolution of inner conflicts. The Czech psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, working within this model, made the startling discovery that in such a series (involving increasing doses) there could be an even deeper psychic opening — to birth and pre-birth memories. After resolving the conflicts stemming from the Freudian dynamics of early childhood, patients would find themselves reliving the significant sensory-emotional features of their birth experience — patterns to which Grof gave the name perinatal matrices. (Grof, 1985).

More or less simultaneously with the psycholytic approach being developed in Europe, the psychedelic model became the preferred approach in Anglo-American psychological and psychiatric circles. The English psychiatrist Humphrey Osmond, who worked in Canada with Abram Hoffer on the treatment of alcoholism with LSD, and who provided Aldous Huxley with his first mescaline experience (immortalized in The Doors of Perception) , introduced this term in an exchange of letters with Huxley. First used in the treatment of alcoholics, where it was thought to simulate the often life-changing “bottoming out” experience, psychedelic therapy usually involved one or a small number of high-dose sessions, during which the contents of the unconscious mind would be manifested in the form of vivid hallucinatory imagery, leading to insight and transformation (Passie, 1997). Besides the Canadian work, a second center for psychedelic therapy and exploration developed in the early sixties in Southern California, where Sidney Cohen, Oscar Janiger and others began providing psychedelic experiences to their clients in the Hollywood film, arts and media community (Novak, 1997), — work that brought considerable publicity and notoriety to psychedelics.

The term “psychedelic” was adopted by Timothy Leary, Frank Barron, Richard Alpert and the Harvard research project, which did one of its first research studies on the production of behavior change in convicts; and started publishing the Psychedelic Review. Apart from the prison project, Leary’s work focussed not so much on treatment or therapy, but rather on exploring the possibilities and values of the psychedelic experience for “normals” (mostly graduate students) as well as artists, musicians, poets and writers, when provided in a relatively unstructured but supportive, home-like setting. The concept of “consciousness expansion” was introduced for these experiences, which could be usefully contrasted with the contracted, fixated awareness characteristic of narcotic addictions, as well as obsessions and compulsions in general (Metzner, 1994). Leary was also responsible for introducing and popularizing what became known as the “set and setting hypothesis”, according to which the primary determinants of a psychedelic experience are the internal set (intention, expectation, motivation) and the external setting or context, including the presence of a guide or therapist (Leary et al. 1963).

The psychological research on psychedelics as well as the psycholytic and psychedelic psychotherapy applications have been well summarized and reviewed by Lester Grinspoon and James Bakalar in their book Psychedelics Reconsidered (Grinspoon and Bakalar, 1979/1997). The history of the introduction of LSD and other hallucinogens into American culture with its many extraordinary and unforeseen social and political consequences has been described by Jay Stevens in his book Storming Heaven (Stevens, 1987). Leary’s own story of these events in which he was centrally involved is told in his own unique, provocative and tricksterish style in his several autobiographies, most particularly in High Priest (Leary, 1968/1995 ) and Flashbacks (1983).

A significant extension of the field of psychoactive-assisted psychotherapy occurred with the discovery by chemistry Alexander Shulgin of a variety of phenethylamines, such as MDA, MDMA, 2-CB and others, which bring about an expansion and centering of awareness primarily on the emotional or heart-level, with minimal or no perceptual changes or other-worldly consciousness (Shulgin & Shulgin, 1991). For this reason, to distinguish them from the classical hallucinogens, some have suggested the name empathogens (“generating a state of empathy”) for this class of substances. In particular, MDMA, which also became known as Ecstasy or E, and as such has come to play a central role in the hugely popular rave culture, was used with impressive success in psychotherapy — often facilitating a significant opening of relationship communication and helping in the healing of disabling trauma (Adamson & Metzner, 1988; Eisner 1989; Saunders, 1993).

Despite the seeming theoretical and practical differences between the psycholytic and psychedelic approaches, there are a number of significant fundamental conclusions and directions which they share, and which I would now like to summarize. These are all features of psychoactives-assisted psychotherapy that distinguish this modality from other uses of mood-altering drugs such as tranquilizers or anti-depressants, in which the patient or client takes a pill and goes home.

(1) It is recognized that psychotherapy with hallucinogens invariably involves an experience of a profoundly expanded state of consciousness, in which the individual can not only gain therapeutic insight into neurotic or addictive emotional dynamics and behavior patterns, but may come to question and transcend fundamental self-concepts and views of the nature of reality.

(2) It is widely accepted in the field that set and setting are the most important determinant of exeriences with psychedelics, while the drug plays the role of a catalyst or trigger. This is in contrast to the psychiatric or other psychoactive drugs, including stimulants, depressants and narcotics, where the pharmacological action seems paramount, and set and setting play a minor role. The set-and-setting model can also be extended to the understanding of other modalities of altered states of consciousness, involving non-drug triggers such as hypnosis, meditation, rhythmic drumming, sensory isolation, fasting, and others (Metzner, 1989).

(3) Two analogies or metaphors for the drug experience have been repeatedly used by writers both in the psycholytic and psychedelic paradigms. One is the amplifier analogy, according to which the drug functions as a non-specific amplifier of psychic contents. The amplification may occur in part as a result of a lowering of sensory thresholds, a “cleansing of the doors of perception”, and in part be due to as yet not understood central processes involving one or more neurotransmitters. The other analogy is the microscope metaphor: it has repeatedly been said that psychedelics could play the same role in psychology as the microscope does in biology — opening up to direct, repeatable, verifiable observation realms and processes of the human mind that have hitherto been largely hidden or inaccessible.

(4) Again in contrast to the use of other psychiatric or psychoactive drugs, it is widely recognized that the personal experience of the therapist or guide is an essential prerequisite of effective psychedelic psychotherapy. Without such prior personal experience, communication between the therapist and the individual in a psychedelic state is likely to be severely limited. This principle implies also that a significant role for psychedelic experience could be in the training of psychotherapists. The vast majority of psycholytic and psychedelic therapists would of course not sanction the taking of the drug by the therapist together with the client.

(5) Access to transcendent, religious or transpersonal dimensions of consciousness. That mystical and spiritual experiences can and do often occur with psychedelics was recognized early on by most researchers in this field, thereby posing both challenge and promise to the psychological disciplines and professions. Albert Hofmann has testified that his ability to recognize the psycholytic properties of the LSD experience was based on its similarity to his childhood mystical experiences in nature (Hofmann, 1979). Stanislav Grof found that after resolving biographical childhood issues, and then the perinatal traumata, individuals would often find themselves in realms of consciousness completely transcendent of time, space and other parameters of our ordinary worldview (Grof, 1985). He gave the name “transpersonal” to these realms of consciousness and “holotropic” (“seeking the whole”) to the predominant quality of consciousness in these realms, as well as to other means of accessing these realms, such as certain breathing methods (holotropic beathwork).

Timothy Leary, stimulated no doubt by his association with Aldous Huxley, Huston Smith and Alan Watts, devoted considerable time and energy to exploring and describing the spiritual and religious dimensions of psychedelic experience. This work resulted in adaptations of the Tibetan Buddhist Bardo Thödol and the Chinese Taoist Tao Te Ching as guidebooks for psychedelic experience (Leary, Metzner & Alpert, 1964; Leary, 1997). Based on his initiating experience with the Mexican magic mushrooms, it would also be true to say that Leary was the first person to recognize and articulate that the fundamental mystical vision that emerges in these states is an evolutionary remembering — an experience of reconnecting with our biological and cosmological evolution. In other words, he realized it was beyond the personal and cultural developmental issues that usually concern psychologists; and that the language of mystics and shamans in our time was basically going to be the scientific language of evolution.

Shamanic Rituals of Healing and Divination

Synchronistically with the revelations and insights emerging from psychedelic research in psychology and religion, a generation of students and researchers in anthropology and ethnobotany was inspired to explore the roots of humankind’s involvement with psychoactive plants in shamanism. These works ranged from Wasson’s rediscovery of the pre-Columbian magic mushroom cult, and Harner’s early work on the role of hallucinogens in European witchcraft-shamanism, to the work of sober researchers like Weston LaBarre, Richard Evans Schultes, Claudio Naranjo and Peter Furst, as well as the more fantastic and imaginative writings of Carlos Castaneda and Terence McKenna. It is fascinating to realize, in hindsight, that the two texts which seemed to lend themselves most readily to psychedelic adaptation (the Bardo Thödol and the Tao Te Ching ), come from religious traditions in which shamanic elements were strong. In Tibetan Buddhism as in Chinese Taoism, practices of connecting with spirits of nature through special visionary states were integrated into the teachings concerning spiritual development and liberation.

If we accept the idea, growing out of scientific research, that set and setting are the crucial determinants of the content of a hallucinogenic experience, then the use of these substances in a ritual setting, with careful attention paid to conscious intention, is in fact the logical, as well as the traditional approach. Shamanic rituals involving hallucinogens are the intentional arrangement of the set and the setting for purposes of healing and divination. Traditional Western psychotherapy, with or without psychedelics, can also appropriately be seen as a ritual, i.e. an experience formally structured according to the intention of healing or problem-solving. The traditional shamanic ceremonial form involving hallucinogenic plants is a carefully structured experience, in which a small group (6 – 12) of people come together with respectful, spiritual attitude to share a profound inner journey of healing and transformation, facilitated by these powerful catalysts. A “journey” is the preferred metaphor in shamanistic societies for what we call an “altered state of consciousness”.

There are three significant differences between shamanic entheogenic ceremonies and the typical psychedelic psychotherapy. One is that the traditional shamanic rituals involve very little or no talking among the participants, except perhaps during a preparatory phase, or after the experience to clarify the teachings and visions received. The second is that singing, or the shaman’s singing, is invariably considered essential to the success of the healing or divinatory process; furthermore the singing typical in etheogenic rituals usually has a fairly rapid beat, similar to the rhythmic pulse in shamanic drumming journeys (widespread in shamanistic societies of the Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe and America). Psychically, the rhythmic chanting, like the drum pulse, seems to give support for moving through the flow of visions, and minimize the likelihood of getting stuck in frightening or seductive experiences. The third distinctive feature of traditional ceremonies is that they are almost always done in darkness or low light, — which facilitates the emergence of visions. The exception is the peyote ceremony, done around a fire (though also at night); here participants may see visions as they stare into the fire. I should point out that the hybrid therapeutic forms that have been developing in the past few decades (to be discussed below) have incorporated these three features from the shamanic model.

As mentioned above, psychotherapists working within the psycholytic and psychedelic model quickly came to consensus that the therapist working with these substances had to have had prior experience with them. This is so obviously assumed in shamanic societies that it is hardly even discussed. Typically, a shamanic healer working with entheogenic plants undergoes a lengthy initition and training, sometimes lasting years, under the guidance of an experienced elder, before working with others.

I will briefly mention some of the variations on the traditional rituals involving hallucinogens. In the peyote ceremonies of the Native American Church, in North America, participants sit in a circle, in a tipi, on the ground, around a blazing central fire. The ceremony goes all night, and is conducted by a “roadman”, with the assistance of a drummer, a firekeeper and a cedar-man (for purification). A staff and rattle are passed around and participants sing the peyote songs, which involve a rapid, rhythmic beat. The peyote ceremonies of the Huichol Indians of Northern Mexico also take place around a fire, with much singing and story-telling, after the long group pilgrimage to find the rare cactus (La Barre, 1964; Myerhoff, 1974; Pinkson, 1995).

The ceremonies of the san pedro cactus, in the Andean regions, are sometimes also done around a fire, with singing; but sometimes the curandero sets up an altar, on which are placed different symbolic figurines and objects, representing the light and dark spirits which one is likely to encounter (Calderon, 1982).

The mushroom ceremonies (velada) of the Mazatec Indians of Mexico, involve the participants sitting or lying in a very dark room, with only a small candle. The healer, who may be a woman or a man, sings almost uninterruptedly, throughout the night, weaving into her chants the names of Christian saints, her spirit allies and the spirits of the Earth, the elements, animals and plants, the sky, the waters and the fire (Wasson, 1980; Estrada, 1981).

Traditional Amazonian Indian or mestizo ceremonies with ayahuasca also involve a small group sitting in a circle, in semi-darkness, while the initiated healers sing the songs (icaros), through which the healing and/or diagnosis takes place. These songs also have a fairly rapid rhythmic pulse, which keeps the flow of the experience moving along. Shamanic “sucking” methods of extracting toxic psychic residues or sorcerous implants are sometimes used (Luna, 1991; Dobkin de Rios, 1984)

The ceremonies involving the African iboga plant, used by the Bwiti cult in Gabon amd Zaïre, involve an altar with ancestral and deity images, and people sitting on the floor with much chanting and some dancing. Often, there is a mirror in the assembly room, in which the initiates may “see” their ancestral spirits (Fernandez, 1984; Samorini, 1995).

Certain common elements can be found in the anthropological literature on the experiences with hallucinogenic plants in shamanistic indigenous societies. These features are also found in accounts of shamanic journey experiences with other modalities, such as drumming, vision questing, or conscious dreaming. It is clear that these experiential features imply the existence of a radically different worldview (than the Western) in entheogenic shamanic practicioners. I will simply list these features, since there is not the space here to document them extensively.

(1) The role of the guide, curandera or healer is always described as central and essential. This must be a person with extensive personal experience in the use of these medicines, who agrees to provide an initiatory experience to a seeker or training to an apprentice. In virtually all entheogenic rituals, the guide or shaman does much or all of the singing, and this singing profoundly shapes the quality and content of the experience.

(2) The experience can be healing, on physical, psychic and spiritual levels (although traditional shamanic healers do not make such analytic distinctions). Shamanic healing experiences, with entheogens or other means, have three main variations: one is the extraction of a toxin, that may have been implanted by means of sorcery; the second is the retrieval of a split-off psychic fragment or “soul”; and the third is the experience of being dismembered or destroyed, and then reconstituted with a healthier, stronger “body.”

(3) The experience can provide access to hidden knowledge, — this is the aspect of divination, “seeing”, prophecy, intuition or visioning. If the intention or context is healing, then the divination would be equivalent what Western medicine calls diagnosis — e.g. from where and from whom did the particular toxic implant come, where has the soul-fragment been “lost”, what particular herbs should be used for the person’s illness, etc. It is said that there is an intelligence associated with the plant medicine, an intelligence that communicates in an interior way to the person who ingests the medicine. Indigenous healers refer to the entheogenic plants as “plant teachers”.

(4) There is a feeling and perception of access to meta-physical realms or worlds. Such realms have, in shamanic, esoteric or magical traditions, been referred to variously as “inner world”, “spirit world”, “upper or lower world”, “faerie world”, “dreamtime” or “otherworld”. Some anthropologists, including Michael Harner, refer to them as “non-ordinary reality.” The access to these other-worlds may come through a kind of journey to that world; perhaps on the back of an animal or carried by a large bird. Alternatively, one may feel that one can see into the spirit world without moving, while still aware of the ordinary present world of time-space as well. Scenery and beings of the other world may appear in our world. In any event, the usual boundaries between the worlds seem to become more permeable, during such experiences.

(5) The experience may involve the perception of non-material, normally invisible, spirit beings or entities. Such spirits are recognized as being associated with particular animals (e.g. serpent, jaguar), certain plants, trees or fungi, certain places (e.g. river, rainforest), deceased ancestors, and other non-ordinary entities (e.g. extra-terrestrials, elves). It can include the experiences of actually becoming or identifying with that spirit (e.g. the experience of becoming a jaguar or a serpent). The healing and divination is experienced as being done by or with the assistance of such spirits, also referred to as

“allies”, “power animals”, “guardians” or “helpers”. In some healing rituals, there may also be contact with bad or malevolent spirits, that need to be exorcized or neutralized in some way.

In comparing Western psychoactive-assisted psychotherapy with shamanic entheogenic healing rituals, we can see that the role of an experienced guide or therapist is equally central in both, and the importance of set (intention) and setting is implicitly and explicitly recognized in both. Healing and insight may take place with both approaches, though the underlying paradigms of illness and treatment are completely different. There is a great deal as yet poorly or not at all understood about the processes of illness and healing. The role of divination is implicitly acknowledged in the Western models through the amplifier analogy and the microscope metaphor. The two elements in the shamanic traditions that pose the most direct and radical challenge to the accepted Western worldview are the existence of multiple worlds and of spirit beings — such conceptions are considered completely beyond the pale of both reason and science. We shall see however that in the hybrid shamanic-therapeutic rituals and practices, the recognition of multiple dimensions and of the reality of spirit beings is becoming quite common.

Syncretic Folk Religious Ceremonies

The distinction I am drawing here between entheogen-based shamanic rituals and folk religious ceremonies involving plant entheogens is in some ways arbitrary — there is rather a continuum of ritual forms and practices. The emphasis in shamanic practices is healing and divination and they are usually conducted in small groups of around a dozen participants, or sometimes just with one or two afflicted individuals and with apprentices. The folk religious ceremonies often involve fairly large groups of 20 to 40 participants, and in the case of the Brazilian hoasca churches several hundred. Here the aspect of healing and divination or visioning tends to recede more into the background, and the primary focus is on group worship and celebration with singing and prayer. Instead of a shaman or healer there are priests and officiants. There is very little or no discussion or sharing of visions or insights, as there would be in the context of a shamanic healing or divination.

The groups coalescing around such entheogenic folk ceremonies in an urban or village society have usually organized themselves into recognized churches, providing their members with a certain degree of social cohesion and protection. An important social function of these religious ceremonies is to strengthen community bonds and give members a sense of participation and belonging. Participation in the Native American Church in the US, as well as the hoasca churches in Brazil tends to reduce the incidence of alcoholism and drug addiction (McClusky, 1997; Grob et al. 1996). As has been noted by some anthropologists, a further societal function of these churches is to provide a protective shield of traditional lore against the encroachments of Christian missionaries and the seductions of Western consumer culture in general (Taussig, 1987; Fernandez, 1982).

The use of peyote by the Huicholes of Mexico follows more the traditional shamanic healing model, involving careful and lengthy apprenticeships for the curanderos, and a group pilgrimage to the sacred land of Wirikuta to find the sacred cactus. The actual ceremonies are accompanied by much singing and story telling of creation myths and other sacred stories (Myerhoff, 1974; Pinkson, 1995). Native American tribes in the United States incorporated the Native American Church as an organized religion that uses the peyote cactus as a sacrament. Though their legal protection has been eroded in recent court decisions, for most of this century the NAC has enjoyed legal access to the entheogens in most of the Western states (Peregoy et al., 1995). Native American Church ceremonies follow a fairly consistent format, with a “roadman” presiding, and with almost constant singing of traditional peyote songs throughout the night. There is virtually no discussion of healing processes or “visions” during or after the ceremony, although individual participants may of course have healing or visionary experiences. Native American Church ceremonies are legally limited to persons with 25% or more Indian ancestry, although some ceremonial leaders have opened up their ceremonies to non-Indians as well.

In Brazil there are no less than three organized churches in which ayahuasca is the main sacrament, the Santo Daime, Uniao de Vegetal (UDV) and Barquinia. Each was founded by rubber tappers working in the Amazon region in the 1950s, who came into contact with the hallucinogenic vine through mestizo or Indian ayahuasceros. The founder of each of them reported a significant vision which instructed them to organize a church using the brew or “tea” as the principal sacrament. Members of the churches come from all walks of life and both urban and rural environments in Brazil. Each has by now several thousand members in Brazil, and two of the churches have significant satellite centers in North America and Europe. The churches are officially recognized and the use of the ayahuasca is legal in Brazil within that framework.

Typically, the ceremonies are held weekly in specially built temples, and may range in size from 20 or 30 to several hundred. Each of the churches has some differences of emphasis and ceremonial form. The UDV, the largest, is also the most formal: participants sit in rows in straight-back chairs during the ceremony, listening to sermons and songs given by the maestres who sit around a table in the center; there is also a question and answer period. Sometimes testimonials of life-transformations are offered by longer-term members, reminiscent of AA confessions. The Santo Daime, which was founded by a Brazilian of African descent, involves the singing of hymns by the entire congregation, led by a small group of women singers. Some of the Santo Daime ceremonies also involve dancing, in simple rhythmic, swaying steps — the whole somewhat reminiscent of Black American gospel services. The Barquinia church, less well known outside of Brazil, has incorporated elements of Umbanda, an Afro-Brazilian religious movement that involves contact with deceased ancestors and deities known as orixas. These ceremonies also involve both singing and dancing. The research of Charles Grob, Dennis McKenna and others has confirmed that membership in these churches and long-term drinking of the tea is associated with no adverse health effects — and indeed with a reduction of addictions and other psychopathologies (Grob et al., 1996).

The Bwiti cult among the Fang people in Gabon and Zaire involves the use of the powerful hallucinogen iboga or eboka, from which ibogaine is derived. The use of iboga, like peyote in North America, exists in both shamanic and syncretic religious cermonial forms. Originally, the Fang, who are village dwellers, say they learned about the iboga brew from the Pygmies, the deep forest dwellers. Initiates are taken through a powerful death-rebirth experience, in which their “head is opened up”, after which they are able to converse with their ancestor spirits, who can guide them in their lives. The Bwiti ceremonies are held in temples, with an altar and officiating priests, where the initiate men and women, daubed with white mud, sit and sing in lengthy ceremonies. (Fernandez, 1982; Samorini, 1995). Pharmcological research has indicated that ibogaine may have a specific action on the receptor sites for cocaine in the brain, raising the possibility that it may be a chemical antidote to addiction (Lotsof, 1995). The more plausible assumption is that all the “consciousness-expanding” hallucinogens, including LSD, peyote, ayahuasca and others, can serve to counteract the consciousness-contracting and fixating effect of the addictive narcotics or stimulants (Halpern, 1996).

These syncretic religious movements, particularly the ayahuasca churches in Brazil, have brought the use of entheogenic plant substances out of the context of shamanic healing rituals, where only a very limited number of people came into contact with them. They have made profoundly spiritually transformating experiences with entheogenic plant medicines accessible to a large number and wide spectrum of people in all walks of life. As such, we may be seeing the beginnings of a broader cultural transformation movement with significant impact.

Hybrid Shamanic Therapeutic Rituals

There are numerous kinds of set-and-setting rituals using hallucinogens in the modern West, ranging from the casual, recreational “tripping” of a few friends to “rave” events of hundreds or thousands, combining Ecstasy (MDMA) with the continuous rhythmic pulse of techno music. My own research has focussed on what might be called neo-shamanic medicine circles, which represent a kind of hybrid of the psychotherapeutic and traditional shamanic approaches. In the past dozen years or so I have been a participant and observer in over one hundred such circle rituals, in both Europe and North America, involving several hundred participants, many of them repeatedly. Plant entheogens used in these circle rituals have included psilocybe mushrooms, ayahuasca, san pedro cactus, iboga and others. My interest has focussed on the nature of the psychospiritual transformation undergone by participants in such circle rituals (Metzner, 199

In these hybrid therapeutic-shamanic circle rituals certain basic elements from traditional shamanic healing ceremonies are usually kept intact:

– the structure of a circle, with participants either sitting or lying;

– an altar in the center of the circle, or a fire in the center if outside or in tipi;

– presence of an experienced elder or guide, sometimes with one or more assistants;

– preference for low light, or semi-darkness; sometimes eye-shades are used;

– use of music: drumming, rattling, singing or evocative recorded music;

– dedication of ritual space through invocation of spirits of four directions & elements;

– cultivation of a respectful, spiritual attitude.

Experienced entheogenic explorers understand the importance of set and therefore devote considerable attention to clarifying their intentions with respect to healing and divination. They also understand the importance of setting and therefore devote considerable care to arranging a peaceful place and time, filled with natural beauty and free from outside distractions or interruptions.

Most of the participants in circles of this kind that I witnessed were experienced in one or more psychospiritual practices, including shamanic drum journeying, Buddhist vipassana meditation, tantra yoga and holotropic breathwork and most have experienced and/or practiced various forms of psychotherapy and body-oriented therapy. The insights and learnings from these practices are woven by the participants into their work with the entheogenic medicines. Participants tend to confirm that the entheogenic plant medicines, when combined with meditative or therapeutic insight processes, function to amplify awareness and sensitize perception, particularly amplifying somatic, emotional and instinctual awareness.

Some variation of the talking staff or singing staff is often used in such ceremonies: with this practice, which seems to have orginated among the Indians of the Pacific Northwest, and is also more generally now referred to as “council”, only the person who has the circulating staff sings or speaks, and there is no discussion, questioning or interpretation (as there might be in the usual group psychotherapy formats). Some group sessions however involve minimal or no interaction between the participants during the time of the expanded state of consciousness.

In preparation for the circle ritual there is usually a sharing of intentions and purposes among the participants, as well as the practice of meditation, or sometimes solo time in nature, or expressive arts modalities, such as drawing, painting or journal work. After the circle ritual, sometimes the morning after, there is usually an integration practice of some kind, which may involve participants sharing something of the lessons learned and to be applied in their lives.

The majority of Westerners who have developed an ongoing practice of working with entheogenic plants substances seem to have expanded their belief systems beyond the boundaries of the conventional materialistic paradigm of Western science and psychology.

While accepting the validity of many Western psychological insights, including those of Freud, C.G. Jung and Wilhelm Reich, they have come, like indigenous people as well as Asian and Western esoteric traditions, to accept the reality of non-material spirit beings and to recognize that we live in multiple worlds of consciousness.

Western psychology may, through such explorations, be finally coming around to the views expressed by William James, after his personal research with the psychedelic anaesthetic nitrous oxide, almost 100 years ago:

Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different…No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded


Poetry From The Breton….

Bran (The Crow)

Wounded full sore is Bran the knight ;

For he was at Kerloan fight;

At Kerloan fight, by wild seashore

Was Bran-Vor’s grandson wounded sore;

And, though we gained the victory,

Was captive borne beyond the sea.

He when he came beyond the sea,

In the close keep wept bitterly.

“They leap at home with joyous cry

While, woe is me, in bed I lie.

Could I but find a messenger,

Who to my mother news would bear!”

They quickly found a messenger

His best thus gave the warrior:

“Heed thou to dress in other guise,

My messenger, dress beggar-wise!

Take thou my ring, my ring of gold,

That she thy news as truth may hold!

Unto my country straightway go,

It to my lady mother show!

Should she come free her son from hold,

A flag of white do thou unfold!I

But if with thee she come not back,

Unfurl, ah me, a pennon black!

So, when to Leon-land he came,

At supper table sat the dame,

At table with her family,

The harpers playing as should be.

“Dame of the castle, hail! I bring

From Bran your son this golden ring,

His golden ring and letter too;

Read it, oh read it, straightway through!

“Ye harpers, cease ye, play no more,

For with great grief my heart is sore!

My son (cease harpers, play no more!)

In prison, and I did not know!

Prepare to-night a ship for me!

To-morrow I go across the sea.”

The morning of the next, next day

The Lord Bran questioned, as he lay:

“Sentinel, sentinel, soothly say!

Seest thou no vessel on its way?”

“My lord the knight, I nought espy

Except the great sea and the sky.”

The Lord Bran askt him yet once more,

Whenas the day’s course half was o’er;

“Sentinel, sentinel, soothly say!

Seest thou no vessel on its way?”

“I can see nothing, my lord the knight,

Except the sea-birds i’ their flight.”

The Lord Bran askt him yet again,

Whenas the day was on the wane;

“Sentinel, sentinel, soothly say!

Seest thou no vessel on its way?”

Then that false sentinel, the while

Smiling a mischief-working smile;

“I see afar a misty form–

A ship sore beaten by the storm.”

“The flag? Quick give the answer back!

The banner? Is it white or black?”

“Far as I see, ’tis black, Sir knight,

I swear it by the coal’s red light.”

When this the sorrowing knight had heard

Again he never spoke a word;

But turn’d aside his visage wan;

And then the fever fit began.

Now of the townsmen askt the dame,

When at the last to shore she came,

“What is the news here, townsmen, tell!

That thus I hear them toll the bell?”

An aged man the lady heard,

And thus he answer’d to her word:

“We in the prison held a knight;

And he hath died here in the night.”

Scarcely to end his words were brought,

When the high tower that lady sought;

Shedding salt tears and running fast,

Her white hair scatter’d in the blast,

So that the townsmen wonderingly

Full sorely marvell’d her to see;

Whenas they saw a lady strange,

Through their streets so sadly range

Each one in thought did musing stand;

“Who is the lady, from what land?”

Soon as the donjon’s foot she reacht,

The porter that poor dame beseecht;

“Ope, quickly ope, the gate for me!

My son! My son! Him would I see!”

Slowly the great gate open drew;

Herself upon her son she threw,

Close in her arms his corpse to strain,

The lady never rose again.

There is a tree, that doth look o’er

From Kerloan’s battle-field to th’ shore;

An oak. Before great Evan’s face

The Saxons fled in that same place.

Upon that oak in clear moonlight,

Together come the birds at night;

Black birds and white, but sea birds all;

On each one’s brow a blood-stain small,

With them a raven gray and old;

With her a crow comes young and bold.

Both with soil’d wings, both wearied are;

They come beyond the seas from far:

And the birds sing so lovelily

That silence comes on the great sea.

All sing in concert sweet and low

Except the raven and the crow.

Once was the crow heard murmuring:

“Sing, little birds, ye well may sing!

Sing, for this is your own countrie!

Ye died not far from Brittany!”


Alain the Fox

The bearded fox is yelping, yelp, yelping through the glades;

Woe to the foreign rabbits! His eyes are two keen blades.

His teeth are keen; his feet are swift; his nails are red with blood.

Alain the fox is yelping war: yelp, yelping in the wood.

The Bretons making sharp their arms of terror I did see,

It was on cuirasses of Gaul, not stones of Brittany.

The Bretons reaping did I see, upon the fields of war;

It was not notched reaping-hooks, but swords of steel they bore.

They reapt no wheat of our own land, they reaped not our rye;

But the beardless ears, the beardless ears of Gaul and Saxony.

I saw upon the threshing-floor the Bretons threshing corn:

I saw the beaten chaff fly out from beardless ears off-torn.

It was not with their wooden flails the Bretons thresht the wheat;

But with their iron boar-spears and with their horses’ feet.

I heard the cry when threshing’s done, the joy-cry onward borne

Far, far from Mont-Saint-Michel to the valleys of Elorn:

From the abbey of Saint Gildas far on to the Land’s-End rocks.

In Brittany’s four corners give a glory to the Fox!

From age to age give glory to the Fox a thousand times!

But weep ye for the rhymer, though he recollect his rhymes!

For he that sang this song the first since then hath never sung :

Ah me, alas! Unhappy man! The Gauls cut out his tongue.

But though no more he hath a tongue, a heart is always his:

He has both hand and heart to shoot his arrowy melodies.

In The Dream Time…


The second longest passage grave in Europe containing at least 70 huge stones built some time about 4000-3500 BC. Only New Grange in Ireland is longer. The main chamber is in a cruciform shape with burial chambers to the South, West and North. There was a pavement of maroon pebbles, and smashed Jersey bowls on supporting pottery stands. This site attracted others. Two medieval chapels were built possibly as a way of Christianising a pagan site. A crypt was added on in the sixteenth century. A rather twee well (still there) was added in the l920s and even lavatory (removed in excavation). The Nazis added a bunker during World War 2. The grave itself was in l924 disturbed when a shaft was dug into the hill. The concrete pillar inside dates from then. The entrance, with its dry stone walling, was uncovered in the l990s by Dr George Nash. It had been closed and covered, possibly with soil from the top of the hill, in Bronze age times. In the same way Cotswold long barrows are closed up around this time. The mound is now 12 m high but may have been 19 m in Neolithic uncovered times.

Dr George Nash says: “If you are looking at the magnitude of a site’s importance, La Houge Bie is the equivalent of Stonehenge.” At the spring equinox, the rising sun shines into the tomb.


Dear Reader,

One of those entries that took waaaaaay to long. The art held it up. There is a real lack of tasteful historic/mythic art that is readily available. Some of it borders on penny-dreadful. So, we have Passage Graves, Dolmens and the like from The Isle Of Jersey instead. La Hougue Bie is the second largest passage grave in Europe after New Grange. You can see that the early Church was quick to capitalize on the sacredness of the site. This is one of the most blatant examples of this that I’ve witnessed. Jersey is a very strange place. It’s been a hotbed for millenia, invaded, settled, cleared, resettled time and again. You can hardly walk through the island without stumbling on remnants of the past. Full of Ghost. So check these photos out. More of this later on…

Off to work, been doing the 10-12 hour thingy lately. Hopefully time for a day or two at the beach sometime in late October.

Have a great day! Cloudy here, but beautiful. You know there are almost an infinite variety of the shades of grey? True.

Big Love,



On The Menu:

The Links

Bran The Blessed

Early Cymric Poetry

Photos: Dolmens/Passage Graves of The Isle Of Jersey


The Links:

Merkin – The Pubic Wig!

Halloween outfits ‘create fear’

The pharaoh’s daughter who was the mother of all Scots

Tunguska Event Responsible For Warming Climate?


Bran The Blessed…

The mighty king Bran, a being of gigantic size, sat one day on the cliffs of his island in the Atlantic Ocean, near to Hades and the Gates of Night, when he saw ships sailing towards him and sent men to ask what they were. They were a fleet sent by Matholweh, the king of Ireland, who had sent to ask for Branwen, Bran’s sister, as his wife. Without moving from his rock Bran bid the monarch land, and sent Branwen back with him as queen.

But there came a time when Branwen was ill-treated at the palace; they sent her into the kitchen and made her cook for the court, and they caused the butcher to come every day (after he had cut up the meat) and give her a blow on the ear. They also drew up all their boats on the shore for three years, that she might not send for her brother. But she reared a starling in the cover of the kneading-trough, taught it to speak, and told it how to find her brother; and then she wrote a letter describing her sorrows and bound it to the bird’s wing, and it flew to the island and alighted on Bran’s shoulder, “ruffling its feathers” (says the Welsh legend) “so that the letter was seen, and they knew that the bird had been reared in a domestic manner.” Then Bran resolved to cross the sea, but he had to wade through the water, as no ship had yet been built large enough to hold him; and he carried all his musicians (pipers) on his shoulders. As he approached the Irish shore, men ran to the king, saying that they had seen a forest on the sea, where there never before had been a tree, and that they had also seen a mountain which moved. Then the king asked Branwen, the queen, what it could be. She answered, “These are the men of the Island of the Mighty, who have come hither to protect me.” “What is the forest?” they asked. “The yards and masts of ships.” “What mountain is that by the side of the ships?” “It is Bran my brother, coming to the

shoal water and rising.” “What is the lofty ridge with the lake on each side?” “That is his nose,” she said, “and the two lakes are his fierce eyes.”

Then the people were terrified: there was yet a river for Bran to pass, and they broke down the bridge which crossed it, but Bran laid himself down and said, “Who will be a chief, let him be a bridge.” Then his men laid hurdles on his back, and the whole army crossed over; and that saying of his became afterwards a proverb. Then the Irish resolved, in order to appease the mighty visitor, to build him a house, because he had never before had one that would hold him; and they decided to make the house large enough to contain the two armies, one on each side. They accordingly built this house, and there were a hundred pillars, and the builders treacherously hung a leathern bag on each side of each pillar and put an armed man inside of each, so that they could all rise by night and kill the sleepers. But Bran’s brother, who was a suspicious man, asked the builders what was in the first bag. “Meal, good soul,” they answered; and he, putting his hand in, felt a man’s head and crushed it with his mighty fingers, and so with the next and the next and with the whole two hundred. After this it did not take long to bring on a quarrel between the two armies, and they fought all day.

After this great fight between the men of Ireland and the men of the Isles of the Mighty there were but seven of these last who escaped, besides their king Bran, who was wounded in the foot with a poisoned dart. Then he knew that he should soon die, but he bade the seven men to cut off his head and told them that they must always carry it with them–that it would never decay and would always be able to speak and be pleasant company for them. “A long time will you be on the road,” he said. “In Harlech you will feast seven years, the birds of Rhiannon singing to you all the while. And at the Island of Gwales you will dwell for fourscore years, and you may remain there, bearing the head with you uncorrupted, until you open the door that looks towards the mainland; and after you have once opened that door you can stay no longer, but must set forth to London to bury the head, leaving it there to look toward France.”

So they went on to Harlech and there stopped to rest, and sat down to eat and drink. And there came three birds, which began singing a certain song, and all the songs they had ever heard were unpleasant compared with it; and the songs seemed to them to be at a great distance from them, over the sea, yet the notes were heard as distinctly as if they were close by; and it is said that at this repast they continued seven years. At the close of this time they went forth to an island in the sea called Gwales. There they found a fair and regal spot overlooking the ocean and a spacious hall built for them. They went into it and found two of its doors open, but the third door, looking toward Cornwall, was closed. “See yonder,” said their leader Manawydan; “that is the door we may not open.” And that night they regaled themselves and were joyful. And of all they had seen of food laid before them, and of all they had heard said, they remembered nothing; neither of that, nor of any sorrow whatsoever. There they remained fourscore years, unconscious of having ever spent a time more joyous and mirthful. And they were not more weary than when first they came, neither did they, any of them, know the time they had been there. It was not more irksome for them to have the head with them, than if Bran the Blessed had been with them himself. And because of these fourscore years, it was called “The Entertaining of the Noble Head.”

One day said Heilwyn the son of Gwyn, “Evil betide me, if I do not open the door to know if that is true which is said concerning it.” So he opened the door and looked towards Cornwall. And when they had looked they were as conscious of all the evils they had ever sustained, and of all the friends and companions they had ever lost, and of all the misery that had befallen them, as if all had happened in that very spot; and especially of the fate of their lord. And because of their perturbation they could not rest, but journeyed forth with the head towards London. And they buried the head in the White Mount.

The island called Gwales is supposed to be that now named Gresholm, eight or ten miles off the coast of Pembrokeshire; and to this day the Welsh sailors on that coast talk of the Green Meadows of Enchantment lying out at sea west of them, and of men who had either landed on them or seen them suddenly vanishing. Some of the people of Milford used to declare that they could sometimes see the Green Islands of the fairies quite distinctly; and they believed that the fairies went to and fro between their islands and the shore through a subterranean gallery under the sea. They used, indeed, to make purchases in the markets of Milford or Langhorne, and this they did sometimes without being seen and always without speaking, for they seemed to know the prices of the things they wished to buy and always laid down the exact sum of money needed. And indeed, how could the seven companions of the Enchanted Head have spent eighty years of incessant feasting on an island of the sea, without sometimes purchasing supplies from the mainland?



Early Cymric Poetry…

The Soul

(From “The Black Book of Caermarthen.”)

Soul, since I was made in necessity blameless

True it is, woe is me that thou shouldst have come to

my design,

Neither for my own sake, nor for death, nor for end,

nor for beginning.

It was with seven faculties that I was thus blessed,

With seven created beings I was placed for purification;

I was gleaming fire when I was caused to exist;

I was dust of the earth, and grief could not reach me;

I was a high wind, being less evil than good;

I was a mist on a mountain seeking supplies of stags;

I was blossoms of trees on the face of the earth.

If the Lord had blessed me, He would have placed me

on matter.

Soul, since I was made–



The Gorwynion.

The tops of the ash glisten, that are white and stately,

When growing on the top of the dingle:

The breast rackt with pain, longing is its complaint.

Brightly glitters the top of the cliff at the long midnight hour;

Every ingenious person will be honoured:

‘Tis the duty of the fair, to afford sleep to him that is in pain.

Brightly glistens the willow tops; the fish are merry in the lakes,

Blustering is the wind over the tops of the small branches:

Nature over learning doth prevail.

Brightly glisten the tops of the furze; have confidence with the wise,

But from the unwise tear thyself afar;

Besides God there is none that sees futurity.

Brightly glisten the clover tops: the timid has no heart;

Wearied out are the jealous ones:

Cares attend the weak.

Brightly glisten the tops of reed-grass; furious is the jealous,

If any should perchance offend him:

‘Tis the maxim of the prudent to love with sincerity.

Brightly glare the tops of the mountains from the blustering of winter,

Full are the stalks of reeds; heavy is oppression:

Against famine bashfulness will vanish.

Brightly glare the tops of mountains assail’d by winter cold;

Brittle are the reeds; the mead is incrusted over;

Playful is the heedless in banishment.

Bright are the tops of the oaks, bitter are the ash branches;

Before the duck, the dividing waves are seen:

Confident is deceit; care is deeply rooted in my heart.

Brightly glisten the tops of the oaks, bitter are the ash branches;

Sweet is the sheltering hedge; the wave is a noisy grinner;

The cheek cannot conceal the trouble of the heart.

Bright is the top of the eglantine; hardship dispenses with forms,

Let everyone keep his fire-side:

The greatest blemish is ill-manners.

Brightly glitters the top of the broom; may the lover have a home;

Very yellow seem the clustered branches;

Shallow is the ford; sleep visits the contented mind.

Brightly glitters the top of the apple-tree; the prosperous is circumspect.

In the long day the stagnant pool is warm;

Thick is the veil on the light of the blind prisoner.

Very glittering are the hazel-tops by the hill of Dig;

Every prudent one will be free from harm;

‘Tis the act of the mighty to keep a treaty.

Glittering are the tops of the reeds; the fat are drowsy

And the young imbibe instruction;

None but the foolish will break faith.

Glittering is the top of the lily; let every bold one be a drinker;

The word of a tribe is superior;

‘Tis usual for the unjust to break his word.

Bright are the tops of heath ; miscarriage attends the timid;

Boldly laves the water on its banks.

Tis the maxim of the just to keep his word.

The tops of the rushes glitter; the kine are gentle;

Running are my tears this day,

Social comfort from man there is not.

Glittering are the tops of fern, yellow is the wild marygold;

The sea is a fence for blind ones:

Swift and active are the young men.

Glittering are the tops of the service-tree; care attends the old;

The bees frequent the wilds;

Vengeance only to God belongs.

Brightly glitters the tops of the oak ; incessant is the tempest;

The bees are high in their flight, brittle is the charr’d brushwood,

The wanton is apt to laugh too frequently.

The hazel grove brightly glitters,even and uniform seem the brakes;

And with leaves the oaks envelop themselves;

Happy is he who sees the one he loves!

Glittering seems the top of the oak ; coolly purrs the stream;

I wish to obtain the top of the birchen grove;

Abruptly goes the arrow of the haughty to give pain.

Brightly glitters the top of the hard holly, that opens its golden leaves;

When all are asleep on the surrounding walls,

God slumbers not when He means to give deliverance.

Glittering are the tops of the willows, brittle and tender;

In the long day of summer the war-horse flags,

Those that have mutual friendships will not offend.

Glittering are the tops of rushes, the stems are full of prickles;

When drawn under the pillow;

The wanton mind will be haughty.

Bright is the top of the hawthorn; confident is the fight of the steed;

It behoves the dependent to be grateful;

May it be good what the speedy messenger brings.

Glittering are the tops of cresses; warlike is the steed;

Trees are fair ornaments of the ground;

Joyful is the soul with the one it loves.

Brightly glares the top of the bush, valuable is the steed;

Reason joined with strength is effectual;

Let the unskilful be void of strength.

Glittering are the tops of the brakes, birds are their fair jewels;

The long day is the gift of the radiant light,

Mercy was formed by God, the most beneficent.

Glittering are the elmwood tops, sweet the music of the grove;

Boisterous among the trees the wind doth whistle;

Interceding with the obdurate will not avail.

Glittering are the tops of elder-trees; bold is the solitary songster;

Accustomed is the violent to oppress;

By want of care the food in hand may be lost.


The Tercets of Llywarc’h

Entangling is the snare, clustered is the ash;

The ducks are in the pond; white breaks the wave;

More powerful than a hundred is the counsel of the heart.

Long the night, boisterous is the sea-shore;

Usual a tumult in a congregation;

The vicious will not agree with the good.

Long the night, boisterous is the mountain,

The wind whistles over the tops of trees;

Ill-nature will not deceive the discreet.

The saplings of the green-topped birch

Will extricate my foot from the shackle;

Disclose not thy secret to a youth.

The saplings of oaks in the grove

Will extricate my foot from the chain;

Disclose no secret to a maid.

The saplings of the leafy oaks

Will extricate my foot from the prison;

Divulge no secret to a babbler.

The saplings of bramble have berries on them;

The thrush is on her nest;

The liar will never be silent.

Rain without, the fern is drenched;

White the gravel of the sea; there is spray on the margin;

Reason is the fairest lamp for man.

Rain without, near is the shelter,

The furze yellow; the cow-parsnip withered and dry;

God the Creator! why hast thou made me a coward?

Rain without, my hair is drenched;

Full of complaint is the feeble; steep the cliff;

Pale white is the sea; salt is the brine.

Rain without, the ocean is drenched;

The wind whistles over the tops of the reeds;

After every feat, still without the genius.