May Eve…Oíche Bealtaine

The month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth

to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees

bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart

that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty

deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage,

that lusty month of May.

– Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte d’Arthur, 1485

In somer when the shawes be sheyne,

And leves be large and long,

Hit is full merry in feyre foreste

To here the foulys song.
To see the dere draw to the dale

And leve the hilles hee,

And shadow him in the leves grene

Under the green-wode tree.
Hit befell on Whitsontide

Early in a May mornyng,

The Sonne up faire can shyne,

And the briddis mery can syng.

– Anonymous, May in the Green Wode, 15h Century

On Oíche Bealtaine… May Eve…

Some of my earliest memories are of May Celebrations in Newfoundland. The dancing, the Maypole, the beauty of the first days… I am deeply in love with this season and all that goes with it. Here is to your celebrations and ours. Baal Fire at Caer Llwydd tonight, and hopefully the publication of ‘The Invisible College’ as well.
Bright Blessings,


Oíche Bealtaine

For the Celts, Beltane marked the beginning of the pastoral summer season when the herds of livestock were driven out to the summer pastures and mountain grazing lands. In modern Irish, Mí na Bealtaine (‘month of Bealtaine’) is the name for the month of May. The name of the month is often abbreviated to Bealtaine, with the festival day itself being known as Lá Bealtaine. The lighting of bonfires on Oidhche Bhealtaine (‘the eve of Bealtaine’) on mountains and hills of ritual and political significance was one of the main activities of the festival.
In ancient Ireland the main Bealtaine fire was held on the central hill of Uisneach ‘the navel of Ireland’, the ritual centre of the country, which is located in what is now County Westmeath. In Ireland the lighting of bonfires on Oidhche Bhealtaine seems only to have survived to the present day in parts of County Limerick, especially in Limerick itself, as their yearly bonfire night, though some cultural groups have expressed an interest in reviving the custom at Uisneach and perhaps at the Hill of Tara. The lighting of a community Bealtaine fire from which individual hearth fires are then relit is also observed in modern times in some parts of the Celtic diaspora and by some Neopagan groups, though in the majority of these cases this practice is a cultural revival rather than an unbroken survival of the ancient tradition.

Another common aspect of the festival which survived up until the early 20th century in Ireland was the hanging of May Boughs on the doors and windows of houses and of the erection of May Bushes in farmyards, which usually consisted either of a branch of rowan (mountain ash) or whitethorn (hawthorn) which is in bloom at the time and is commonly called the ‘May Bush’ in Hiberno-English. The practice of decorating the May Bush with flowers, ribbons, garlands and colored egg shells has survived to some extent among the diaspora as well, most notably in Newfoundland, and in some Easter traditions observed on the East Coast of the United States.

Beltane is a cross-quarter day, marking the midpoint in the Sun’s progress between the vernal equinox and summer solstice. Since the Celtic year was based on both lunar and solar cycles, it is possible that the holiday was celebrated on the full moon nearest the midpoint between the vernal equinox and the summer solstice. The astronomical date for this midpoint is closer to May 5 or May 7, but this can vary from year to year.

In Irish mythology, the beginning of the summer season for the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians started at Bealtaine. Great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition, heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and were accompanied with ritual acts to protect the people from any harm by Otherworldly spirits, such as the Sídhe. Like the festival of Samhain, opposite Beltane on Oct. 31, Beltane was a time when the Otherworld was seen as particularly close at hand. Early Gaelic sources from around the 10th century state that the druids of the community would create a need-fire on top of a hill on this day and drive the village’s cattle through the fires to purify them and bring luck (Eadar dà theine Bhealltainn in Scottish Gaelic, ‘Between two fires of Beltane’). In Scotland, boughs of juniper were sometimes thrown on the fires to add an additional element of purification and blessing to the smoke. People would also pass between the two fires to purify themselves. This was echoed throughout history after Christianization, with lay people instead of Druid priests creating the need-fire. The festival persisted widely up until the 1950s, and in some places the celebration of Beltane continues today. A revived Beltane Fire Festival has been held every year since 1988 during the night of 30 April on Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland and attended by up to 15,000 people (except in 2003 when local council restrictions forced the organisers to hold a private event elsewhere)

Beltane as described in this article is a specifically Gaelic holiday. Other Celtic cultures, such as the Welsh, Bretons, and Cornish, do not celebrate Beltane, per se. However they celebrated or celebrate festivals similar to it at the same time of year. In Wales, the day is known as Calan Mai, and the Gaulish name for the day is Belotenia.
Dwelly wrote:

“ In many parts of the Highlands, the young folks of the district would meet on the moors on 1st May. They cut a table in the green sod, of a round figure, by cutting a trench in the ground of sufficient circumferences to hold the whole company. They then kindled a fire, dressed a repast of eggs and milk of the constituency of custard. They kneaded a cake of oatmeal, which was toasted at the embers against a stone. After the custard was eaten, they divided the cake into as many portions as there were people in the company, as much alike as possible in size and shape. They daubed one of the pieces with charcoal, til it was black all over, and they were then all put into a bonnet together, and each one blindfolded took out a portion. The bonnet holder was entitled to the last bit, and whoever drew the black bit was the person who was compelled to leap three times over the flames. Some people say this was originally to appease a god, whose favour they tried to implore by making the year productive. (Dwelly, 1911, “Bealltuinn”)

The May Queen

By Alfred, Lord Tennyson

You must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear;

To-morrow ‘ill be the happiest time of all the glad New-year;

Of all the glad New-year, mother, the maddest merriest day,

For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
There’s many a black, black eye, they say, but none so bright as mine;

There’s Margaret and Mary, there’s Kate and Caroline;

But none so fair as little Alice in all the land they say,

So I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
I sleep so sound all night, mother, that I shall never wake,

If you do not call me loud when the day begins to break;

But I must gather knots of flowers, and buds and garlands gay,

For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
As I came up the valley whom think ye should I see

But Robin leaning on the bridge beneath the hazel-tree?

He thought of that sharp look, mother, I gave him yesterday,

But I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
He thought I was a ghost, mother, for I was all in white,

And I ran by him without speaking, like a flash of light.

They call me cruel-hearted, but I care not what they say,

For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
They say he’s dying all for love, but that can never be;

They say his heart is breaking, mother�what is that to me?

There’s many a bolder lad ‘ill woo me any summer day,

And I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
Little Effie shall go with me to-morrow to the green,

And you’ll be there, too, mother, to see me made the Queen;

For the shepherd lads on every side ‘ill come from far away,

And I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
The honeysuckle round the porch has woven its wavy bowers,

And by the meadow-trenches blow the faint sweet cuckoo-flowers;

And the wild marsh-marigold shines like fire in swamps and hollows gray,

And I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
The night-winds come and go, mother, upon the meadow-grass,

And the happy stars above them seem to brighten as they pass;

There will not be a drop of rain the whole of the livelong day,

And I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
All the valley, mother, ‘ill be fresh and green and still,

And the cowslip and the crowfoot are over all the hill,

And the rivulet in the flowery dale ‘ill merrily glance and play,

For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.
So you must wake and call me early, call me early, mother dear,

To-morrow ‘ill be the happiest time of all the glad New-year;

To-morrow ‘ill be of all the year the maddest merriest day,

For I’m to be Queen o’ the May, mother, I’m to be Queen o’ the May.

Welcome To the Week End World

Welcome To the Week End World! Something to move and think with as we move into the spring light…
Have A Nice One!
The Links

Groove Armada – I See You (Fatboy Slim Mix)

Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland

Groove Armada – SuperStylin’

Yaqui Poetics….

Art: Eleanor Fortescue-Brickdale

The Links:

Frogs rain down on Serbia

Experts may have found what’s bugging the bees

Morgue staff find life in patient

The Village That Vanished…

Groove Armada – I See You (Fatboy Slim Mix)


From: Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland (Lady Gregory)

Monsters and Sheoguey Beasts
THE Dragon that was the monster of the early world now appears only in the traditional folktales, where the hero, a new Perseus, fights for the life of the Princess who looks on ciyjng at the brink of the sea, bound to a silver chair, while the Dragon is “put in a way he will eat no more kings’ daughters.” in the stories of today he has shrunk to eel or worm, for the persons and properties of the folklore of all countries keep being trans-formed or remade in the imagination, so that once in New England on the eve of George Washington’s birthday, the decorated shop windows set me wondering whether the cherry tree itself might not be a remaking of the red-berried dragon guarded rowan of the Celtic tales, or it may be of a yet more ancient apple. I ventured to hint at this in a lecture at Philadelphia, and next day one of the audience wrote me that he had looked through all the early biographies of Washington, and either the first three or the first three editions of the earliest–I have mislaid the letter–never mention the cherry tree at all. The monstrous beasts told of today recall the visions of Maeldune on his strange dream-voyage, where he saw the beast that was like a horse and that had “legs of a hound with rough sharp nails,” and the fiery pigs that fed on golden fruit, and the cat that with one flaming leap turned a thief to a heap of ashes; for the folk-tales of the world have long roots, and there is nothing new save their reblossoming.
I have been told by a Car-driver:
I went to serve one Patterson at a place called Grace Dieu between Waterford and Tramore, and there were queer things in it There was a woman lived at the lodge the other side from the gate, and one day she was looking out and she saw a wool-pack coming riding down the road of itself.
There was a room over the stable I was put to sleep in, and no one near me. One night I felt a great weight on my feet, and there was something very weighty coming up upon my body and I heard heavy breathing. Every night after that I used to light the fire and bring up coal and make up the fire with it that it would be near as good in the morning as it was at night. And I brought a good terrier up every night to sleep with me on the bed. Well, one night the fire was lighting and the moon was shining in at the window, and the terrier leaped off the bed and he was barking and rushing and fighting and leaping, near to the ceiling and in tinder the bed. And I could see the shadow of him on the walls and on the ceiling, and I could see the shadow of another thing that was about two foot long and that had a head like a pike, and that was fighting and leaping. They stopped after a while and all was quiet. But from that night the terrier never would come to sleep in the room again.
By Others:
The worst form a monster can take is a cow or a pig. But as to a lamb, you may always be sure a lamb is honest.
A pig is the worst shape they can take. I wouldn’t like to meet anything in the shape of a pig in the night.
No, I saw nothing myself, I’m not one of those that can see such things; but I heard of a man that went with the others on rent day, and because he could pay no rent but only made excuses, the landlord didn’t ask him in to get a drink with the others. So as he was coming home by himself in the dark, there was something on the road before him, and he gave it a hit with the toe of his boot, and it let a squeal. So then he said to it, “Come in here to my house, for I’m not asked to drink with them; I’ll give drink and food to you.” So it came in, and the next morning he found by the door a barrel full of wine and another full of gold, and he never knew a day’s want after that.
Walking home one night with Jack Costello, there was some-thing before us that gave a roar, and then it rose in the air like a goose, and then it fell again. And Jackeen told me after that it had laid hold on his trousers, and he didn’t sleep all night with the fright he got.
There’s a monster in Lough Graney, but it’s only seen once in seven years.

Groove Armada – SuperStylin’



Yaqui Poetics….
15 Flower World Variations
o flower fawn
about to come out playing
in this flower water
out there
in the flower world
the patio of flowers
in the flower water
flower fawn
about to come out playing
in this flower water
in wilderness I am
that only melon
& splitting
sending vines out
you are
in wilderness
I am that only
melon flowering
& splitting
sending vines out
in the flower world
out there
under the dawn
a pale blue cloud
will be grey water
at its peak
the mist will reach
will rain down
on the flower ground
& shining
reaching bottom
where you are
in wilderness
that only melon flowering
I am
& splitting
sending vines out
when the fresh night comes
o night hawk
you fly up
o night hawk
out there
in the flower world
under the dawn
the light beyond us
you fly up
o night hawk
from a branch of mesquite
you fly up
o night hawk
(where is the rotted stick that screeches lying?)
the screeching rotted stick is lying over there
(where is the rotted stick that screeches lying?)
the screeching rotted stick is lying over there
there in the flower world
beyond us
in the tree world
the screeching rotted stick
is lying
over there the screeching
rotted stick is lying
over there
ah brother
look at you
a deer with flowers
shake your antlers
little brother
shake your antlers
deer with flowers
why not let your belt
your deer hoofs
shake? why not vibrate
strapped to your ankles
shake them
little brother
shake & roll
in one tree
one stick
who makes the sound of cracking
cracking wood?
in one tree
one stick
who makes the sound of cracking
cracking wood?
there in the flower world
the tree world
you do not have my
long grey body
in one tree
one stick
who makes the sound of cracking
cracking wood?
what’s this tree bent down with
it’s this flower stick
bent down
with flowers surely
what’s this tree bent down with
it’s this flower stick
bent down with
flowers surely
out there
in the flower world
the floral world
among the sagebrush
there’s a flower bush bent down with
surely it’s this flower stick
bent down with flowers
out in the mountain there
these look like
& in the flower water
three of them
are grey & bobbing
three of them are walking
grey & side by side
there in the flower world
the dawn
out in the flower water
three of them
are grey & bobbing
in the mountain there
these look like doves
out there
& in the flower water
three are grey
& bobbing
three of them are walking
grey & side by side
like a mountain squirrel
old enchanter
sounding large
& like a mountain squirrel
old enchanter
there in the flower world
the dawn
there in its light
that big place over there
that mountain canyon
sounding large
& like a mountain squirrel
old enchanter
sounding large
to sleep in
these flowers
to crawl there
I who am flower-world creeper
who sleep there
who crawl in these flowers
out there
in the tree world
climbing this branch
I crawl up it
to sleep in
these flowers
I who am flower-world creeper
who sleep there
where are you standing
in the wind
dead grasses
grey & shaking in the wind
dead grasses
where are you standing
in the wind dead grasses
grey & shaking in the wind
dead grasses
there in the wilderness
the flower world
a pale blue cloud
will be grey water
at its peak
the mist will reach
will rain down
on the flower ground
& shining
reaching bottom
where you are
where you are only
standing in the wind
dead grasses
grey & shaking in the wind
dead grasses
ah brother
they want us to kill
this beaver
they want us to kill
ah brother
this beaver
this beaver
ah brother
they want us to kill
with a bow & arrow
they want us to kill it
ah brother
with hair standing up
they were waiting
& ran from us
broke down their doors to get in
now they want us
to kill it
ah brother
with a bow & arrow
ah brother
they want us to kill it
with the body of a fawn
under a cholla flower
standing there
to rub your antlers
turning where you stand to rub
your antler
in the flower world
the dawn
there in its light
under a cholla flower
standing there
to rub your antlers
bending turning where you stand
to rub your antlers
with the body of a fawn
under a cholla flower
standing there
to rub your antlers
turning where you stand to rub
your antlers

Song of a Dead Man
I do not want these flowers
but the flowers
want to move
I do not want these flowers
but the flowers
want to move
I do not want these flowers
but the flowers
want to move
out in the flower world
the dawn
over a road of flowers
I do not want these flowers
but the flowers
want to move
I do not want these flowers
but the flowers
the flowers
want to move
now the cloud
will break
the cloud will break
& now
the cloud will break
the cloud
will break
& now the cloud
will break
the cloud will break
there in the flower world
under the dawn
this pale blue cloud
will be grey water
at its peak
the mist will reach
will rain down
& reaching bottom
now the cloud
will break
the cloud will break
& now
the cloud will break
the cloud
will break
The Flower World settings were derived by Jerome Rothenberg from traditional Yaqui Deer Dance songs in literal translations by Carleton Wilder, et al.

Ariadne At Naxos…

Best Viewed In FireFox
(George Frederic Watts – Ariadne At Naxos)

What is up for today…..

hope you enjoy!
On The Menu:

The Links

Patrick & Eugene – The Birds and the Bees

Three Koans

Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band

Irish Poets…

Artist: George Frederic Watts

The Links:

Enemy of liberal Anglicans was poisoned

Sorcery casts spell on village – Cats ‘sacrificed’, brothers forced to commit suicide

Plant vault passes billion mark

Marijuana’s potency continues to climb

Patrick & Eugene – The Birds and the Bees


Three Koans:
(George Frederic Watts – A Bacchante)

A Smile in His Lifetime
Mokugen was never known to smile until his last day on earth. When his time came to pass away he said to his faithful ones: “You have studied under me for more than ten years. Show me your real interpretation of Zen. Whoever expresses this most clearly shall be my successor and receive my robe and bowl.”
Everyone watched Mokugen’s severe face, but no one answered.
Encho, a disciple who had been with his teacher for a long time, moved near the bedside. He pushed forward the medicine cup a few inches. That was his answer to the command.
The teacher’s face became even more severe. “Is that all you understand?” he asked.
Encho reached out and moved the cup back again.
A beautiful smile broke over the features of Mokugen. “You rascal,” he told Encho. “You worked with me ten years and have not yet seen my whole body. Take the robe and bowl. They belong to you.”

Publishing the Sutras
Tetsugen, a devotee of Zen in Japan, decided to publish the sutras, which at that time were available only in Chinese. The books were to be printed with wood blocks in an edition of seven thousand copies, a tremendous undertaking.
Tetsugen began by traveling and collecting donations for this purpose. A few sympathizers would give him a hundred pieces of gold, but most of the time he received only small coins. He thanked each donor with equal gratitude. After ten years Tetsugen had enough money to begin his task.
It happened that at that time the Uji Rive overflowed. Famine followed. Tetsugen took the funds he had collected for the books and spent them to save others from starvation. Then he began again his work of collecting.
Several years afterwards an epidemic spread over the country. Tetsugen again gave away what he had collected, to help his people. For a third time he started his work, and after twenty years his wish was fulfilled. The printing blocks which produced the first edition of sutras can be seen today in the Obaku monastery in Kyoto.
The Japanese tell their children that Tetsugen made three sets of sutras, and that the first two invisible sets surpass even the last.

The Story of Shunkai
The exquisite Shunkai whose other name was Suzu was compelled to marry against her wishes when she was quite young. Later, after this marriage had ended, she attended the university, where she studied philosophy.
To see Shunkai was to fall in love with her. Moreover, wherever she went, she herself fell in love with others. Love was with her at the university, and afterwards when philosophy did not satisfy her and she visited the temple to learn about Zen, the Zen students fell in love with her. Shunkai’s whole life was saturated with love.
At last in Kyoto she became a real student of Zen. Her brothers in the sub-temple of Kennin praised her sincerity. One of them proved to be a congenial spirit and assisted her in the mastery of Zen.
The abbot of Kennin, Mokurai, Silent Thunder, was severe. He kept the precepts himself and expected the priests to do so. In modern Japan whatever zeal these priests have lost for Buddhism they seemed to have gained for having wives. Mokurai used to take a broom and chase the women away when he found them in any of his temples, but the more wives he swept out, the more seemed to come back.
In this particular temple the wife of the head priest had become jealous of Shunkai’s earnestness and beauty. Hearing the students praise her serious Zen made this wife squirm and itch. Finally she spread a rumor about that Shunkai and the young man who was her friend. As a consequence he was expelled and Shunkai was removed from the temple.
“I may have made the mistake of love,” thought Shunkai, “but the priest’s wife shall not remain in the temple either if my friend is to be treated so unjustly.”
Shunkai the same night with a can of kerosene set fire to the five-hundred-year-old temple and burned it to the ground. In the morning she found herself in the hands of the police.
A young lawyer became interested in her and endeavoured to make her sentance lighter. “Do not help me.” she told him. “I might decide to do something else which will only imprison me again.”
At last a sentance of seven years was completed, and Shunkai was released from the prison, where the sixty-year-old warden also had become enamored of her.
But now everyone looked upon her as a “jailbird”. No one would associate with her. Even the Zen people, who are supposed to believe in enlightenment in this life and with this body, shunned her. Zen, Shunkai found, was one thing and the followers of Zen quite another. Her relatives would have nothing to do with her. She grew sick, poor, and weak.
She met a Shinshu priest who taught her the name of the Buddha of Love, and in this Shunkai found some solace and peace of mind. She passed away when she was still exquisitely beautiful and hardly thirty years old.
She wrote her own story in a futile endeavour to support herself and some of it she told to a women writer. So it reached the Japanese people. Those who rejected Shunkai, those who slandered and hated her, now read of her life with tears of remorse.
The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band


Irish Poets…
(George Frederic Watts – Uldra)

The Earth and Man
A little sun, a little rain

A soft wind blowing from the west,

And woods and fields are sweet again,

And warmth within the mountain’s breast.
So simple is the earth we tread,

So quick with love and life her frame,

Ten thousand years have dawned and fled,

And still her magic is the same.
A little love, a little trust,

A soft impulse, a sudden dream,

And life as dry as desert dust

Is fresher than a mountain stream.
So simple is the heart of man,

So ready for new hope and joy;

Ten thousand years since it began

Have left it younger than a boy

-S A Brooke

Lines of Leaving
I am losing you again

all again

as if you were ever mine to lose.

The pain is as deep

beyond formal possession

beyond the fierce frivolity of tears.
Absurdly you came into my world

my time-wrecked world

a quiet laugh below the thunder.

Absurdly you leave it now

as always I foreknew you would.

I lived on an alien joy.
Your gentleness disarmed me

wine in my desert

peace across impassable seas

path of light in my jungle.
Now uncatchable as the wind you go

beyond the wind

and there is nothing in my world

save the straw of salvation in the amber dream.

The absurdity of that vast improbable joy.

The absurdity of you gone.

– Christy Brown

I was the moon.

A shadow hid me

and I knew what it meant

not to be at all.

The moon in eclipse is sad

and sinless.

There is no passion in her plight.

Cold, unlighted,

moving in a trance,

she comes to her station

or passes again to her place;

uncovers her loneliness:

eyeless behind no eyelids

has neither sleeping nor waking,

no body, parts, nor passions,

no loving, perceiving,

having, nor being;

moves only in a wayless night;

and drifting, as a ship without direction,

sinks to a forgotten depth,

among weeds,

among stones.

-Rhoda Coghill
(George Frederic Watts – Death Crowning Innocence)

Dancing On The High Wire…

On The Music Box: Amadou et Mariam

An exercise in posting without your glasses or contacts… Is it in focus? Heavens. Anyway, the assemblage is finally here…
10 Hours more of new music on Radio Free EarthRites… The Finest Off Shore Pirate Radio Station Delivered to you via The Internets…. Tell your friends, share with your neighbors… More Music Coming Soon!

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The Links

Peters’ Pick: Marta’s Song

The Reunification of the Sacred and Natural – Ralph Metzner

Anouar Brahem – kashf

Modern Irish Poetry: Paul Durcan

Controversial Paintings: 3 Orientalist….

The Links:

Mystery surrounds dumped coffin

VA allows Wiccan symbols on headstones

Extraterrestrial Artifacts Discovered in Siberia

Peters’ Pick: Marta’s Song (oldie but goldie that circular thingie….)



The Reunification of the Sacred and Natural

by Ralph Metzner, PhD
Published (in English and Italian) in Eleusis, No. 8, August 1997 by Green Earth Foundation, Ed. Giorgio Samorini. This paper is based in part on a presentation made at the conference of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA), May 1996, in Manaus, Brazil.
I summarize my thesis in two statements: one—the relentless exploitation and destruction of the biosphere by the capitalist-industrial growth machine around the globe is rooted in a pathological domination complex of “civilized” humans toward the natural world. And two—the revival of interest in animistic worldviews and in the shamanic practices of traditional peoples, including the intentional use of hallucinogenic sacraments, is among the hopeful signs that the split between the sacred and the natural can be healed again.
In order to provide a context for this discussion, I begin by briefly describing my own history of experience and research in this area. 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. During the 1970′s my work focused on the exploration of non-drug related methods for the transformation of consciousness, such as are found in Eastern and Western traditions of yoga, meditation, alchemy and newly discovered psychotherapeutic methods using deep altered states. During the 1980′s I came into contact with the work of Michael Harner and others, who have explored shamanic teachings and practices around the globe, primarily those involving non-ordinary states of consciousness induced by drumming, but also hallucinogens. I studied shamanic practices from various cultures, including those involving fasting, wilderness vision questing, sweat-lodge and others. My interest shifted more towards psychoactive or hallucinogenic plants, which have a history of use in shamanistic societies, rather than the newly discovered powerful drugs, the use of which often involves unknown risks. In the last few years, I have come to see the revival of interest in shamanism and sacred plants as part of the world-wide seeking for a renewal of the spiritual relationship with the natural world.
A recognition and respect for the spiritual essences inherent in nature is basic to the worldview of indigenous peoples, as it was for our own ancestors in pre-industrial societies. In shamanistic societies, that is societies in which the reality of other, non-material worlds is recognized, people have always devoted considerable attention to cultivating a direct perceptual and spiritual relationship with animals, plants and the Earth itself in all its magnificent variety. Our modern materialist worldview, with its obsessive focus on technological progress and on the control and exploitation of what are called “natural resources”, has become more or less completely dissociated from such a spiritual awareness of nature. This split between human spirituality and nature has roots in the ancient past, but a major source of it was the rise of mechanistic science in the 16th and 17th century (Metzner, 1993). The revival of animistic beliefs, the deep ecology and ecopsychology movements and the renewed interest in shamanic practices, including the use of hallucinogenic or entheogenic plants, represent a re-unification of science and spirituality, which have been divorced since the rise of mechanistic science in the 17th century. I believe spiritual values can again become the primary motivation for scientists. It should be obvious that this direction for science would be a lot healthier for all of us and for the planet, than science directed, as it is now primarily, towards generating weaponry or profit.
Common Elements of Shamanic/Hallucinogenic Experience
In order to focus the discussion on hallucinogenic plant sacraments, I will begin by quoting from the notes I made of my own first experience with ayahuasca. I came into contact with this Amazonian plant-medicine through an ethnobotanist who had researched the practices of Peruvian mestizo shamans, and had prepared the medicine according to the traditional recipes. The setting was a spacious house in rural Northern California. The attitude was open and respectful, treating the medicine as a sacrament. Here is the account:
We drank the brew, which has a taste that is a strange mixture of bitterness and syrupy sweetness, in almost total darkness, with only a candle or two. We listened to Mayan music. I began to feel very relaxed, heavy and soft, but also as if my head were expanding. A swaying tapestry of visions comes into view, at first mostly geometric patterns, then shapes and forms of plants, animals, humans, cities, temples, flying craft and the like. Particular images from time to time emerge out of the continuous flux, and then are re-absorbed back into it.
As the images of forms and objects recede back into the swaying fabric of visions, I realize that I am seeing them as if projected on the twisting coils of an enormous serpent, with glittering silvery and green designs on its skin. I cannot see either head or tail of the serpent, which gives me a rough sense of its size: it encompasses the entire two-story building. Curiously, the sight of this gigantic serpent does not evoke the slightest fear; on the contrary, my emotional response is one of awe and humility at the magnificence of this being and its spiritual power. I had heard that in the Amazon, the ayahuasceros regard the giant serpent as the “mother spirit” of all the other spirits of the forest, of the river and the air.
In the earlier phase, before I became aware of the giant mother serpent, I experienced the geometric patterns I was seeing with distaste verging on disgust: they seemed tacky, plastic and artificial, like the décor of a shopping mall or a Las Vegas casino. As I searched for the meaning of my reaction, I was shown how this was the human technocultural overlay on the natural world: I was looking at the human world! Then, as I accepted that, albeit with some regret, I was able to see through it to the pulsating energies of the real, spiritual world of underlying nature, embodied in the form of the giant Serpent Mother.
Then I meet another serpent, more “normal” in its dimensions: in fact it is about the same size as me. It enters my body through my mouth and starts to slowly wind its way through my stomach and intestines over the next two or three hours. When it gets to the gut, there is some cramping, and incredibly loud sounds of gurgling and digesting are coming from my viscera. I become aware of a morphic resonance between serpent and intestines: the form of the snake is more or less a long intestinal tract, with a head and a tail end. Conversely, our gut is serpentine, with its twists and turns and its peristaltic movement. So the serpent, in winding its way through my intestinal tract is “teaching” my intestines how to be more powerful and effective.
Then I see several black-skinned people, dancing as they come toward me and recede away. They are always in pairs, like twins, moving in parallel fashion: I wonder whether they represent the spirits of the two paired plants of the ayahuasca tea. Then, as I’m lying sideways on a couch, a jaguar suddenly comes into me. It is an enormous black male, and he enters my body assuming the same semi-reclining position I was in. Shortly after I notice it, the jaguar is gone. Another time, as I am on my hands and knees, I distinctly feel a bird landing on my back. I am being briefly introduced to some of the different spirits that the ayahuasca medicine can access. The realization grows within me that with practice
and increased concentration, I would be able to hold the encounters with the different animal spirits for longer—and then be able to question them for divination. Don Fidel, one of the old ayahuasceros, says: “the visions come into you and heal you.”
Many images of old Mayan gods and underworld demons dancing: skeletal, crippled, diseased, skin flapping, blood dripping, pustular, bulbous, with gaping wounds and cut-off heads, toads on their necks, pierced with thorns. Their message, repeated several times, is: “you don’t have to do anything”. By incorporating death, decay and disease and other unimaginable horrors into their dance of transformation, a deep inner healing takes place, totally independent of any personal involvement on my part. I am astonished at being initiated into this ancient lineage of visionary healers.
It is late in the evening, and I am again on my hands and knees, feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by this gut-wrenching, yet soul-refreshing journey through the netherworlds of jungle, river and serpents. I lower my forehead to touch the ground: then I realize I am falling slowly through the earth, through soil and rock, moving faster and faster, and then dropping out the other side into deep space, vast in its darkness, exhilarating, filled with countless points of light, scintillae, luminous streaks and stars of the universe.
This account exemplifies many of the common elements that can be found in the anthropological literature on shamanism and the use of hallucinogenic plants, and that also tend to show up in the experiences of people taking such medicines in religious or therapeutic context. I will simply list these features, since there is not the space here to document them extensively:
1. The importance of set and setting, or intention and context, in determining the nature of the experience. This was a finding that came out of the psychedelic research in the 1960′s (Grinspoon and Bakalar, 1979).
2. The experience can be healing on physical, psychic and spiritual levels; this healing may involve the experience of being first dismembered, destroyed, or “killed”, and then reconstituted with a healthier, stronger body. The experience of dismemberment is a classic feature of shamanic healing worldwide. The “levels” are analytical concepts; during an actual experience they are not separated, but simultaneous and co-existent.
3. The experience can also provide access to hidden knowledge—this is the aspect of diagnosis, divination, or visioning; people come to refer to these plants as “plant teachers”.
4. There is a feeling and perception of access to other non-physical worlds, variously referred to as inner worlds, spirit worlds, otherworlds, alternate realities. The access may come through a journey to that world, or the spirit beings of that world may appear in our world, or the usual boundaries between the worlds seem to become permeable.
5. The experience may involve the perception of non-material, normally invisible, spirit beings. 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 the jaguar); the healing and visioning is experienced as being done by or with the assistance of such spirits.
6. Listening to music or singing, or singing oneself, is an essential ingredient for productive hallucinogenic experiences. The rhythmic drive of the icaros in ayahuasca ceremonies, like the rhythmic pulse of the drumming in drumming-journeys, gives support for moving through the flow of visions, and prevents getting “stuck” or “hung up” in frightening or seductive experiences.
7. The traditional ceremonies are almost always done in darkness or low light; this apparently facilitates the emergence of visions. The exception is the peyote ceremony, done around a fire (though at night); here participants may see visions as they stare into the fire.
Some classic ritual forms for hallucinogen use

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.
The traditional shamanic rituals involving hallucinogenic plants are carefully structured experiences, in which a small group (12 – 15) of people come together with respectful, spiritual attitude to share a profound inner journey of healing and transformation, facilitated by these powerful catalysts. Music and/or singing is invariably a part of such rituals. There is a significant role and function of the guide or medicine person who conducts the ceremony. The traditional shamanic rituals involve very little or no talking among the participants except perhaps during a preparatory phase or after the experience to evaluate the teachings or visions received.
A second kind of ceremonial form has evolved in the Brazilian syncretic religious movements that use ayahuasca or hoasca. There are three such ayahuasca cults that have arisen in Brazil since the 1950s: Uniao de Vegetal, Santo Daime, and Barquinia. These differ considerably among themselves, but share some common features: they typically involve large groups of people, from around 30 to 40 to several hundred; they all involve some kind of chanting or singing, often rhythmic, and some involve dancing as well. Like the shamanic ceremonies, there is little or no overt discussion or description of experiences or of psychological issues.
Both of these kinds of ceremonies—the shamanic and the syncretic religious—are quite different from the psychotherapy rituals involving hallucinogens, group or individual, which have arisen in the West, and which one could call syncretic therapeutic. From an anthropological point of view it is perfectly appropriate to call psychotherapy a kind of ritual,—a purposive, intentional structuring of a state of consciousness. Psychoanalysis (originally called the “talking cure”) and most forms of psychotherapy use verbal dialogue as the means for exploring consciousness. In recent times more “experiential” forms have arisen, that may use breathing methods, movement, bodily contact, music, or hypnotic regression to induce profoundly altered states of consciousness. The use of psychedelics or empathogenics (such as MDMA) in individual or group psychotherapy can be considered in that context. Their use in structured ritualistic experiences represents a radical departure from conventional psychiatric practice with psychotropic medications, where drugs are simply given to the patient and assumed to work without the conscious participation of the patient or the doctor (Adamson, 1985; Grof, 1980).
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 sageman (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.
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.
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 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.
Traditional Indian 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 poisonous implants are sometimes used.
The ceremonies involving the African iboga plant, used by the Bwiti cult in Gabon, also involve an altar with ancestral and deity images, and people sitting on the floor with much chanting and some dancing. Ceremonies in North America and Europe in which I have been a participant-observer, have combined certain elements from the shamanic ritual form while keeping intact the basic essentials: the structure of the circle; the dedication of sacred ritual space with the invocation of protective and teaching spirit allies; the cultivation of a respectful, spiritual attitude; the semi-darkness; and the use of music, singing, rattling and drumming; the presence of a more experienced elder or guide. Some variation of the talking staff or singing staff is often used: with this practice, which orginated among the Indians of the Pacific Northwest, only the person who has the staff sings or speaks, and there is no discussion, questioning or analysis (as there might be in the therapeutic formats involving psychedelics).
While there are numerous other 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 research has focussed on the traditional and neo-shamanic “medicine circles”, and what kind of transformations are undergone by participants in such circles.

Basic features of the emerging worldview associated with shamanic-hallucinogenic practices

The basic model of reality, the understanding of the cosmos, that is revealed by such experiences, is basically similar to that shared by indigenous shamanistic cultures, and radically different from the prevailing Western paradigm associated with mechanistic science. (However, many features of the traditional shamanic worldview overlap to a considerable degree with the most recent and growing edge theories and findings of post-modern science). Since there is no space here to document these basic ideas, or present the evidence for them, I will merely state them here, at the risk of oversimplification. I believe that were one to question a number of long-term shamanic practitioners, with or without hallucinogens, in traditional and modern societies, something like this worldview would be shared by most of them.
1. The fundamental reality of the universe is a continuum, a unitive field or fabric, of energy and consciousness, that is beyond time, space and all forms, and yet within them.
2. In traditional Asian religions, this unitive field is variously referred to as Tao, or Brahman. Some Native North Americans refer to it as Wakan-Tanka, the Creator Spirit. In the systems language of post-modern science it is seen as an infinitely complex system of interrelationships, or “web of life” (Capra, 1996; Goldsmith, 1993).
3. The world or cosmos is multidimensional. In most shamanic traditions we have upper, middle and lower worlds; in some mythic-shamanic traditions we have five, seven, nine or more worlds; in esoteric traditions there are usually seven “levels of consciousness”. In modern systems theory, we speak of the multiple levels of wholes and parts: clusters of galaxies, galaxies, solar systems and planets; biosphere, ecosystems, populations and species; societies, sub-cultures, organizations, tribes and families; organisms, organ systems, cells, molecules, atoms and sub-atomic particles.
4. The universal unitive field or cosmic continuum has a basic symmetrical polarity, referred to by names such as yin/yang, light/dark, positive/negative charge, male/female, electric/magnetic, Father Sky—Mother Earth and numerous others. These polarities can be observed and experienced at all levels of reality, from the macrocosmic to the microscopic.
5. The symmetrically polarized basic continuum differentiates, at all levels, into an infinite variety of names and forms, images and objects, identities and beings. We can recognize this multiplicity at the level of galaxies, stars and planets; in the biological diversity of plant and animal species on Earth; in the cultural diversity of human societies; and in the psychic multiplicity of our inner life.
6. Since we are part of the unified system of interdependence, just like every other being, we can never actually be outside of it, like a detached “objective” observer. But since the unified field is energy, we are energetically connected to every other form and being in the universe. And since the field is consciousness, this enables us, as human beings, to attune with, identify with, and communicate with any and every other life-form, object or being in the universe, from the macrocosmic to the microscopic.
7. It will be seen that the the above is a re-statement of the belief system of animism—which sees all material and biological forms as animated by life and consciousness; and of shamanism, which practices methods of intentionally attuning and identifying with all kinds of forms and beings, via the unifying field of consciousness which links us all. Whereas the so-called “higher religions” associated with literate, urban, industrial civilization tend to be monotheistic, with a single (usually male) deity; the religious beliefs associated with animism and shamanism is polytheistic, with an enormous variety in the names and forms of gods and goddesses, particularized for each culture and its mythic tradition. It is not uncommon for participants in sessions with hallucinogenic plants to perceive or feel the presence of deities or spirits from many different cultures, including some with whom they have no genetic, biographical or geographical connection.
Significance of the animistic revival in the present world situation

Having presented some of the fundamental features of the animistic, indigenous worldview which is associated with the revival of interest in shamanic practices, including the use of hallucinogens, I now want to address the question of what this means in the context of the present world situation. What does it mean that people in large numbers are now returning to these ancient traditions of spiritual and healing practice in our world of multinational industrial corporations, of computers and electronic networks?
It is widely understood that the capitalist-industrial growth system, which now dominates the world both economically and politically, is ravaging the biosphere life-support systems and shredding the very fabric of life on this planet. The annual State of the World reports issued by the Worldwatch Institute document the full extent of the catastrophe with depressing regularity (Brown et al., 1997). In 1992, over 1500 scientists from 69 countries issued the World Scientists Warning to Humanity, which stated: “Human beings and the natural world are on a collision course…. A great change is required if vast human misery is to be avoided and our global home on this planet is not to be irretrievably mutilated.” Human civilization on this Earth appears to have produced a situation of ecological melt-down.
To return to my earlier argument, I am saying that the unprecedented industrial-technological assault on the biosphere we are witnessing in our time, is rooted in part in the mechanistic science of the modern world, which deliberately divorced itself from spirituality, values and consciousness. There exists a vast separative gulf in common understanding between what we regard as sacred and what we regard as natural. And yet, out of the experiences of millions of individuals in the Western world with hallucinogenic sacraments, as well as other shamanic practices, we are seeing the re-emergence of the ancient integrative worldview that sees all of life as an interdependent web of relationships, that needs to be carefully protected and preserved.
One can see the parallels in several cultural movements that seek to correct the dangerous imbalance in humanity’s relation to nature: in deep ecology and ecofeminism which call for a respectful, egalitarian, ecocentric attitude towards the natural world; in the organic gardening and farming movements, which seek to return to traditional methods avoiding chemical fertilizers and pesticides; in the movement to increased use of herbal, nutritional and complementary medicine; and in several other philosophical, scientific and religious movements including bioregionalism, ecopsychology, living systems theory, creation spirituality, ecotheology, and others (Ruether, 1992; Spretnak, 1991; Metzner, 1997; Weil, 1990).
In these diverse movements, from many disciplines, to transform our human perceptions, attitudes and practices in relation to the Earth towards a healthier, non-exploitative, non-dominating recognition of interrelatedness, the respectful use of entheogenic plant medicines in spiritual/therapeutic contexts may yet come to play a highly significant role.
1. This paper is based in part on a presentation made at the conference of the International Transpersonal Association (ITA), May 1996, in Manaus, Brazil.
2. A note on terminology: I use the terms “psychedelic”, “hallucinogenic” and “entheogenic” interchangeably. Some object to the term “hallucinogenic” since a hallucination is an illusory perception and these substances do not in fact induce hallucinations. But 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 the experience induced by these substances. So I would like to rehabilitate the term “hallucinogen”.
3. Terence McKenna (1991) has written of an “archaic revival”, but to my mind it is the revival of animism that is the crucial paradigm change here. The fact that animism held sway in the archaic period is in some ways besides the point.

(Ernest Normand – White Slave)

Anouar Brahem – kashf


Modern Irish Poetry: Paul Durcan

Margaret Thatcher Joins IRA
At a ritual ceremony in a fairy ring fort

Near Bodenstown Graveyard Co. Kildare

(Burial place of Theobald Wolfe Tone)

Margaret Thatcher joined the IRA

And the IRA joined Margaret Thatcher.
Black dresses were worn by all for the occasion

In which a historical union was consummated.
On the circular bank of the rath,

Gunmen and High Tories crawled on all fours

Jangling their testicles;

While the sun gleamed off their buttocks.
At the navel of the rath

Waltzed Ruraí Ó Brádaigh,

His arms round Mrs Thatcher

In a sweet embrace.

Behind them Messrs

Airey Neave & Daithí O’Connell

Shared a seat on a pig.
Proceedings concluded

With Sir Ó Brádaigh, an Thatcher, an Neave, agus Sir O’Connell

playing cops and robbers in souterrains.
Meanwhile in his leaba (his grave)

In nearby Bodenstown

Theobald Wolfe Tone was to be observed

Revolving sixty revolutions per minute;

This came as no suprise to observers

Since Tone was a thoroughgoing dissenter

And never would have had truck

With the likes of Margaret Thatcher or the IRA.

Making love outside Áras an Uachtaráin.’
When I was a boy, myself and my girl

Used bicycle up to the Phoenix Park;

Outside the gates we used lie in the grass

Making love outside Áras an Uachtaráin.’
Often I wondered what de Valera would have thought

Inside in his ivory tower

If he knew that we were in his green, green grass

Making love outside Áras an Uachtaráin.’
Because the odd thing was – oh how odd it was –

We both revered Irish patriots

And we dreamed our dreams of a green, green flag

Making love outside Áras an Uachtaráin.’
But even had our names been Diarmaid and Gráinne

We doubted de Valera’s approval

For a poet’s son and a judge’s daughter

Making love outside Áras an Uachtaráin.’
I see him now in the heat-haze of the day

Blindly stalking us down;

And, levelling an ancient rifle, he says, ‘Stop

Making love outside Áras an Uachtaráin.’

The Man whose Name was Tom-and-Ann
When you enter a room where there is a party in progress

Normally you ignore the introductions:

This is Tom; and Jerry; and Micky; and Mouse –

They are all much the same – male mouths

Malevolent with magnanimity or females

Grinning gratuitously: but tonight

I paid attention when I was introduced to a man

Whose name was Tom-and-Ann:

All night I looked hard at him from all angles,

Even going so far as to look down his brass neck,

But all I could see was a young, middle-aged man

With coal-black hair cut in a crew-cut such

As would make you freeze, or faint, of electric shock:

Nobody had noticed that his wife was not with him:

She was at another party being introduced to my wife

Who, when she came home, started humming

‘Tonight I met a woman whose name was Ann-and Tom.’
Well, next time I throw a party for all the Foleys in Ireland,

God help us, I will do the introductions myself:

‘Darling Donal, – This is Tom-and-Ann

And his beautiful wife Ann-and-Tom.’
(Gyula Tornai – In The Harem)

Stepping Forward….

“Acid is not for every brain – only the healthy, happy, wholesome, handsome, hopeful, humorous, high-velocity should seek these experiences. This elitism is totally self-determined. Unless you are self-confident, self-directed, self-selected, please abstain.”

St. Timothy

The Wonders of Craigslist…
I just watched our old washer and broken down freezer disappear off our driveway… in 3 or so minutes. I have been trying to get rid of this stuff for months. Thank You Craigslist!
Some varied stuff today…

Some Dead Can Dance, a short missive from Sasha, a couple from Tim… A bit of Donovan and then there is the eternal: Tao Te Ching. I have been spending lots of time lately with it. I recommend a reading for all. Tim was right.
Hope Tuesday is a beauty for you!


The Links

Peters’ Picks: Dead Can Dance – The Carnival Is Over

One From Sasha

Two From Tim

Donovan & Shawn Phillips

Four Excerpts From The Tao Te Ching

Illustrations: Elenore Plaisted Abbott (1875-1935)

The Links:

Human Brain Has Origin in Lowly Worm

The wave that destroyed Atlantis

Scientist takes on the psychic

Fire in sky mystery

Peters’ Picks: Dead Can Dance – The Carnival Is Over


One From Sasha

The Illegal Search for Self Awareness
I am completely convinced that there is a wealth of information built into us, with miles of intuitive knowledge tucked away in the genetic material of every one of our cells. Something akin to a library containing uncountable reference volumes, but without some means of access, there is no way to even begin to guess at the extent of quality of what is there. The psychedelic drugs allow exploration of this interior world, and insights into its nature.
Our generation is the first ever to have made the search for self-awareness a crime, if it is done with the use of plants or chemical compounds as the means of opening the psychic doors. But the urge to become aware is always present, and it increases in intensity as one grows older.
This is the search that has been a part of human life from the very first moments of consciousness. The knowledge of his own mortality, knowledge which places him apart from his fellow animals, is what gives Man the right, the license, to explore the nature of his own soul and spirit, to discover what he can about the components of the human psyche.
How is it then, that the leaders of our society have seen fit to try to eliminate this one very important means of learning and self-discovery, this means which has been used, respected, and honored for thousands of years, in every human culture of which we have a record? Why has peyote, for instance, which has served for centuries as a means by which a person may open his soul to an experience of God, been classified by our government as a Schedule I material, along with cocaine, heroin, and PCP? … Part of the answer may lie in an increasing trend in our culture towards both paternalism (authorities supply need and thus are able to dictate conduct) and provincialism (a narrowness of outlook, a single code of ethics)…
The government and the Church decided that psychedelic drugs were dangerous to society and with the help of the press, it was made clear that this was the way to social chaos and spiritual disaster.
What was unstated, of course, was the oldest rule of all: Thou shalt not oppose nor embarrass those in power without being punished.
—Alexander Shulgin in PiHKAL.



Two From Tim:

Monotheism is the primitive religion which centers human consciousness on Hive Authority. There is One God and His Name is (substitute Hive-Label). If there is only One God then there is no choice, no option, no selection of reality. There is only Submission or Heresy. The word Islam means “submission.” The basic posture of Christianity is kneeling. Thy will be done. Monotheism therefore does no harm to hive-oriented terrestrials (Stages 10, 11 and 12) who eagerly seek to lay-off responsibility on some Big Boss. Monotheism does profound mischief to those who are evolving to post-hive stages of reality. Advanced mutants (Stages 13 to 18) do make the discovery that “All is One,” as the realization dawns that “My Brain creates all the realities that I experience.” The discovery of Self is frightening because the novitiate possessor of the Automobile Body and the Automobile Brain must accept all the power that the hive religions attributed to the jealous Jehovah. The First Commandment of all monotheisms is: I am the Lord, thy God: Thou shalt have no other Gods before me. All monotheisms are vengeful, aggressive, expansionist, intolerant.
Stage 10: Islam-Catholicism

Stage 11: Protestant Evangelism

Stage 12: Communist-Dulles Imperialism
It is the duty of a monotheist to destroy any competitive heresy. Concepts such as devil, hell, guilt, eternal damnation, sin, evil are fabrications by the hive to insure loyalty to Hive Central. All these doctrines are precisely designed to intimidate and crush Individualism. The process of mutating into Self-hood plunges the mutant into this cross fire of neurogenetic moral flak. Most of the freak-outs, bad trips and hellish experiences are caused by Monotheistic Morality. Again, it must be emphasized, that Monotheism is a necessary stage. Monotheism is a technology, a tool, to bring pre-civilized tribespeople and caste-segregated primitives into the collectives necessary to develop the post-hive, post-terrestrial technologies.
The major evolutionary step is taken when the individual says: “There is only one God who creates the universe. This God is my Brain. As the driver of this Brain I have created a universe in which there are innumerable other Gods of equal post-hive autonomy with whom I seek to interest. And my universe was, itself, created by a Higher Level of Divinity—DNA, whose mysteries and wonders I seek to understand and harmonize with.”
From The Intelligence Agents by Dr. Timothy Leary, Ph.D.


How to Handle Doubters

…it’s really quite simple. Whenever you hear anyone sounding off on internal freedom and conciousness-expanding foods and drugs, whether pro or con, check out these questions:
1. Is your expert talking from direct experience, or simply repeating cliches? Theologians and intellectuals often deprecate “experience” in favor of fact and concept. This classic debate is falsely labeled. Most often it becomes a case of “experience” vs. “inexperience”.
2. Do his words spring from a spiritual or mundane point of view? Is he motivated by a dedicated quest for answers to basic questions, or is he protecting his own social-psychological position, his own game investment? Is he struggling towards sainthood, or is he maintaining his status as a hard-boiled scientist or hard-boiled cop?
3. How would his argument sound if it was heard in a different culture? (for example, in an African jungle hut, a ghat on the Ganges, or on another planet inhabited by a form of life superior to ours) or in a different time (for example, in Periclean Athens, or in a Tibetan monestery, or in a bull session led by any one of the great religious leaders – founders – messiahs)? Or how would it sound to other species of life on our planet today – to the dolphins, to the conciousness of the redwood tree? In other words, try to break out of your usual tribal game set and listen with the ears of another one of God’s creatures.
4. How would the debate sound to you if you were fatally diseased with a week to live, and thus less comitted to mundane issues?…
5. Is this point of view one which opens up or closes down? Are you being urged to explore, experience, or gamble out of spiritual faith, join somone who shares your cosmic ignorance on a collaborative voyage of discovery? Or are you being pressured to close off, protect your gains, play it safe, accept the authoritative voice of someone who knows best?
6. When we speak, we say little about the subject matter and disclose mainly the state of our own mind. Does your psychedelic expert use terms which are positive, pro-life, spiritual, inspiring, opening, based on faith in the future, faith in your potential or does he betray a mind obsessed by danger, material concern, by imaginary terrors, administrative caution or essential distrust in your potential? Dear friends, there is nothing in life to fear; no spiritual gain can be lost.
7. If he is against what he calls “artificial methods of illumination,” ask him what constitutes the natural. Words? Rituals? Tribal customs? Alkaloids? Psychedelic vegetables?
8. If he is against biochemical assistance, where does he draw the line? Does he use nicotine? alcohol? penicillin? vitamins? convential sacremental substances?
9. If your advisor is against LSD, what is he for? If he forbids you the psychedelic key to revelation, what does he offer you instead?
From The Politics of Ecstacy by Timothy Leary


Donovan & Shawn Phillips…


Four Excerpts From The Tao Te Ching


The great Tao flows everywhere.

All things are born from it,

yet it doesn’t create them.

It pours itself into its work,

yet it makes no claim.

It nourishes infinite worlds,

yet it doesn’t hold on to them.

Since it is merged with all things

and hidden in their hearts,

it can be called humble.

Since all things vanish into it

and it alone endures,

it can be called great.

It isn’t aware of its greatness;

thus it is truly great.

She who is centered in the Tao

can go where she wishes, without danger.

She perceives the universal harmony,

even amid great pain,

because she has found peace in her heart.
Music or the smell of good cooking

may make people stop and enjoy.

But words that point to the Tao

seem monotonous and without flavor.

When you look for it, there is nothing to see.

When you listen for it, there is nothing to hear.

When you use it, it is inexhaustible.

If you want to shrink something,

you must first allow it to expand.

If you want to get rid of something,

you must first allow it to flourish.

If you want to take something,

you must first allow it to be given.

This is called the subtle perception

of the way things are.
The soft overcomes the hard.

The slow overcomes the fast.

Let your workings remain a mystery.

Just show people the results.

The Tao never does anything,

yet through it all things are done.
If powerful men and women

could venter themselves in it,

the whole world would be transformed

by itself, in its natural rhythms.

People would be content

with their simple, everyday lives,

in harmony, and free of desire.
When there is no desire,

all things are at peace.

The Tinkers Life

Happy Monday…

A nice selection of items today… A Tinker kind of dream state I woke up from. I searched out the photos as it went along, and stumpled upon the University of Liverpool Collection to my joy. I first heard of Gerald Griffin through the interpretations of The Clancy Brothers, and found him referenced by W.B. Yeats…. The Witches Excursion is a bit of fun… and watch out for the Mouse Probem during The Burning Season…
Gotta Hop,
The Links

Mouse Problem


Burning Season by Faith & the Muse

The Poetry Of Gerald Griffin

Irish Travellers: Tinkers, Gypsies – From The University of Liverpool Collection

The Links:

The Mysterious Zar

Shulgin: The Film (Thanks To Lizard Jah!)

The Joy Of Sharing…

Monty Python – Mouse Problem


Irish Traveller Carving Wood…


Shemus Rua (Red James) awakened from his sleep one night by noises in his kitchen. Stealing to the door, he saw half-a-dozen old women sitting round the fire, jesting and laughing, his old housekeeper, Madge, quite frisky and gay, helping her sister crones to cheering glasses of punch. He began to admire the impudence and imprudence of Madge, displayed in the invitation and the riot, but recollected on the instant her officiousness in urging him to take a comfortable posset, which she had brought to his bedside just before he fell asleep. Had he drunk it, he would have been just now deaf to the witches’ glee. He heard and saw them drink his health in such a mocking style as nearly to tempt him to charge them, besom. in hand, but he restrained himself.
The jug being emptied, one of them cried out, “Is it time to be gone?” and at the same moment, putting on a red cap, she added–
“By yarrow and rue,

And my red cap too,

Hie over to England.”
[paragraph continues] Making use of a twig which she held in her hand as a steed, she gracefully soared up the chimney, and was rapidly followed by the rest. But when it came to the house-keeper, Shemus interposed. “By your leave, ma’am,” said he, snatching twig and cap. “Ah, you desateful ould crocodile! If I find you here on my return, there’ll be wigs on the green–
‘By yarrow and rue,

And my red cap too,

Hie over to England’.”
The words were not out of his mouth when he was soaring above the ridge pole, and swiftly ploughing the air. He was careful to speak no word (being somewhat conversant with witch-lore), as the result would be a tumble, and the immediate return of the expedition.
In a very short time they had crossed the Wicklow hills, the Irish Sea, and the Welsh mountains, and were charging, at whirlwind speed, the hall door of a castle. Shemus, only for the company in which he found himself, would have cried out for pardon, expecting to be mummy against the hard oak door in a moment; but, all bewildered, he found himself passing through the keyhole, along a passage, down a flight of steps, and through a cellar-door key-hole before he could form any clear idea of his situation.
Waking to the full consciousness of his position, he found himself sitting on a stillion, plenty of lights glimmering round, and he and his companions, with full tumblers of frothing wine in hand, hob-nobbing and drinking healths as jovially and recklessly as if the liquor was honestly come by, and they were sitting in Shemus’s own kitchen. The red birredh 1 has assimilated Shemus’s nature for the time being to that of his unholy companions. The heady liquors soon got into their brains, and a period of unconsciousness succeeded the ecstasy, the head-ache, the turning round of the barrels, and the “scattered sight” of poor Shemus. He woke up under the impression of being roughly seized, and shaken, and dragged upstairs, and subjected to a disagreeable examination by the lord of the castle, in his state parlour. There was much derision among the whole company, gentle and simple, on hearing Shemus’s explanation, and, as the thing occurred in the dark ages, the unlucky Leinster man was sentenced to be hung as soon as the gallows could be prepared for the occasion.
The poor Hibernian was in the cart proceeding on his last journey, with a label on his back, and another on his breast, announcing him as the remorseless villain who for the last month had been draining the casks in my lord’s vault every night, He was surprised to hear himself addressed by his name, and in his native tongue, by an old woman in the crowd. “Ach, Shemus, alanna! is it going to die you are in a strange place without your cappen d’yarrag?” 1 These words infused hope and courage into the poor victim’s heart. He turned to the lord and humbly asked leave to die in his red cap, which he supposed had dropped from his head in the vault. A servant was sent for the head-piece, and Shemus felt lively hope warming his heart while placing it on his head. On the platform he was graciously allowed to address the spectators, which he proceeded to do in the usual formula composed for the benefit of flying stationers–”Good people all, a warning take by me;” but when he had finished the line, “My parents reared me tenderly,” he unexpectedly added–”By yarrow and rue,” etc., and the disappointed spectators saw him shoot up obliquely through the air in the style of a sky-rocket that had missed its aim. It is said that the lord took the circumstance much to heart, and never afterwards hung a man for twenty-four hours after his offense.

For Catherine & Andrew: Burning Season by Faith & the Muse


Travellers & Townies…

Irish Poetry: Gerald Griffin

On the ocean that hollows the rocks where ye dwell,

A shadowy land has appeared, as they tell;

Men thought it a region of sunshine and rest,

And they called it Hy-Brasail, the isle of the blest.

From year unto year on the ocean’s blue rim,

The beautiful spectre showed lovely and dim;

The golden clouds curtained the deep where it lay,

And it looked like an Eden, away, far away!
A peasant who heard of the wonderful tale,

In the breeze of the Orient loosened his sail;

From Ara, the holy, he turned to the west,

For though Ara was holy, Hy-Brasail was blest.

He heard not the voices that called from the shore–

He heard not the rising wind’s menacing roar;

Home, kindred, and safety, he left on that day,

And he sped to Hy-Brasail, away, far away!
Morn rose on the deep, and that shadowy isle,

O’er the faint rim of distance, reflected its smile;

Noon burned on the wave, and that shadowy shore

Seemed lovelily distant, and faint as before;

Lone evening came down on the wanderer’s track,

And to Ara again he looked timidly back;

Oh! far on the verge of the ocean it lay,

Yet the isle of the blest was away, far away!
Rash dreamer, return! O, ye winds of the main,

Bear him back to his own peaceful Ara again.

Rash fool! for a vision of fanciful bliss,

To barter thy calm life of labour and peace.

The warning of reason was spoken in vain;

He never revisited Ara again!

Night fell on the deep, amidst tempest and spray,

And he died on the waters, away, far away!


I Love My Love In The Morning
I love my love in the morning,

For she is like morn is fair –

Her blushing cheek, its crimson streak,

It clouds her golden hair.

Her glance, its beam, so soft and kind;

Her tears, its dewy showers;

And her voice, the tender whispering wind

That stirs the early bowers.
I love my love in the morning,

I love my love at noon,

For she is bright as the lord of light,

Yet mild as autumn’s moon:

Her beauty is my bosom’s sun,

Her faith my fostering shade,

And I will love my darlin one,

Till even the sun shall fade.
I love my love in the morning,

I love my love at even;

Her smile’s soft play is like the ray

That lights the western heaven:

I loved her when the sun was high,

I loved her when he rose;

But best of all when evening’s sight

Was murmuring at its close.

Eileen Aroon
(Not From The UoI collection…)

When, like the early rose,

Eileen aroon!

Beauty in childhood blows,

Eileen aroon!

When, like a diadem,

Buds blush around the stem,

Which is the fairest gem?

Eileen aroon!
Is it the laughing eye,

Eileen aroon!

Is it the timid sigh,

Eileen aroon!

Is it the tender tone,

Soft as the stringed harp’s moan?

Oh! it is Truth alone.

Eileen aroon!
When, like the rising day,

Eileen aroon!

Love sends his early ray,

Eileen aroon!

What makes his dawning glow

Changeless through joy or woe?

Only the constant know—

Eileen aroon!
I know a valley fair,

Eileen aroon!

I knew a cottage there,

Eileen aroon!

Far in that valley shade

I knew a gentle maid,

Flower of a hazel glade,

Eileen aroon!
Who in the song so sweet?

Eileen aroon!

Who in the dance so fleet?

Eileen aroon!

Dear were her charms to me,

Dearer her laughter free,

Dearest her constancy,

Eileen aroon!
Were she no longer true,

Eileen aroon!

What should her lover do?

Eileen aroon!

Fly with his broken chain

Far o’er the sounding main,

Never to love again,

Eileen aroon!
Youth must with time decay,

Eileen aroon!

Beauty must fade away,

Eileen aroon!

Castles are sacked in war,

Chieftains are scattered far,

Truth is a fixed star,

Eileen aroon!

Gerald Griffin (born in 1803 in Limerick, Ireland) was an Irish novelist, poet and playwright.
The son of a brewer, he went to London in 1823 and became a reporter for one of the daily papers, and later turned to writing fiction. In 1838 he burned all of his unpublished manuscripts and joined the Catholic religious order “Congregation of Christian Brothers” in Cork, and died at their monastery, June 12, 1840.
Gerald Griffin has a street named after him in Limerick City, Ireland
Reading Type Of Wagon…

5.55… A Smaller Entry….

On The Music Box: EarthRites Radio!

Here we are at Friday… Sun is shining and we are about to rush out into the turning world. Beltane is rushing towards us, and life is brimming.
Our Rowan is taking off to Camp Namanu for his counseling gig on Sunday, but on Saturday, his schedule runs like this: 7:30am Dragon Boat Rowing… 12:00pm Comedy Sports… 8:00pm Ballroom Dancing… A very busy fellow.
We have a light offering today, but tasty…
On The Menu:

The Links

Charlotte Gainsbourg – 5.55

Blast From The Past Links: My Ears Are Bleeding…

Two Sufi Parables

Poetry: A Revisit With Allen Ginsberg

Art Evelyn De Morgan…
That should fix you for a couple of days, more coming soon!
The Links:

Turning up the heat for the biggest Beltane of them all

Officials: Pet Food Poison May Have Been Intentional

Meet the witches of Issaquah

Plants with Soul

Charlotte Gainsbourg – 5.55


I once had the (some would say) dubious pleasure of seeing them on a triple bill: Country Joe & The Fish, Buffalo Springfield, and Blue Cheer. Suffice to say I was not exactly in my right mind as I sped through the evening. My ears hurt the next day….. 8o) It was perhaps the biggest sound I had ever heard up to that point… Blue Cheer was to music what STP was to psychedelics…
Blast From The Past Links: My Ears Are Bleeding…

Blue Cheer @ MySpace

Blue Cheer will school you and make your ears bleed

Music Preview: Power rock legends Blue Cheer hit the pub — bring earplugs

Concert Review: A wild Monday night with Patty Griffin and Blue Cheer



“On the surface, Blue Cheer was the epitome of San Francisco psychedelia. The band was named for a brand of LSD and promoted by renowned LSD chemist and former Grateful Dead patron, Owsley Stanley. The band’s sound, however, was something of a departure from the music that had been coming out of the Bay area. Blue Cheer’s three musicians played heavy blues-rock and played it VERY LOUD!”

Tim Hills from “The Many Lives of the Crystal Ballroom”


Two Sufi Parables…

The Hunter and the Bird
A hunter once caught a small bird. ‘Master,’ said the bird, ‘you have eaten many animals bigger than I without assuaging your appetite. How can the flesh of my tiny body satisfy you? If you let me go, I will give you three counsels: one while I am still in your hand, the second when I am on your roof, and the third from the top of a tree. When you have heard all three, you will consider yourself the most fortunate of men. The first counsel is this: “Do not believe the foolish pronouncements of others.” ’
The bird flew on to the roof, from where it gave the second counsel, ‘ “Have no regrets for what is past.” Concealed in my body is a precious pearl weighing five ounces. It was yours by right, and now it is gone.’ Hearing this the man began to bewail his misfortune. ‘Why are you so upset?’ asked the bird. ‘Did I not say, “Have no regrets for what is past”? Are you deaf, or did you not understand what I told you? I also said, “Do not believe the foolish pronouncements of others.” I weigh less than two ounces, so how could I possibly conceal a pearl weighing five?’
Coming to his senses, the hunter asked for the third counsel. ‘Seeing how much you heeded the first two, why should I waste the third?’ replied the bird.

The Cow
Once upon a time there was a cow. In all the world there was no animal which so regularly gave so much milk of such high quality.
People came from far and wide to see this wonder. The cow was extolled by all. Fathers told their children of its dedication to its appointed task. Ministers of religion adjured their flocks to emulate it in their own way. Government officials referred to it as a paragon which right behaviour, planning and thinking could duplicate in the human community. Everyone was, in short, able to benefit from the existence of this wonderful animal.
There was, however, one feature which most people, absorbed as they were by the obvious advantages of the cow, failed to observe. It had a little habit, you see. And this habit was that, as soon as a pail had been filled with its admittedly unparalleled milk – it kicked it over.

Adapted from The Mathnawi of Jalalu’ddin Rumi, IV


Poetry: A Revisit With Allen Ginsberg

Sunflower Sutra
I walked on the banks of the tincan banana dock and

sat down under the huge shade of a Southern

Pacific locomotive to look at the sunset over the

box house hills and cry.

Jack Kerouac sat beside me on a busted rusty iron

pole, companion, we thought the same thoughts

of the soul, bleak and blue and sad-eyed,

surrounded by the gnarled steel roots of trees of


The oily water on the river mirrored the red sky, sun

sank on top of final Frisco peaks, no fish in that

stream, no hermit in those mounts, just ourselves

rheumy-eyed and hungover like old bums

on the riverbank, tired and wily.

Look at the Sunflower, he said, there was a dead gray

shadow against the sky, big as a man, sitting

dry on top of a pile of ancient sawdust–

–I rushed up enchanted–it was my first sunflower,

memories of Blake–my visions–Harlem

and Hells of the Eastern rivers, bridges clanking Joes

Greasy Sandwiches, dead baby carriages, black

treadless tires forgotten and unretreaded, the

poem of the riverbank, condoms & pots, steel

knives, nothing stainless, only the dank muck

and the razor-sharp artifacts passing into the


and the gray Sunflower poised against the sunset,

crackly bleak and dusty with the smut and smog

and smoke of olden locomotives in its eye–

corolla of bleary spikes pushed down and broken like

a battered crown, seeds fallen out of its face,

soon-to-be-toothless mouth of sunny air, sunrays

obliterated on its hairy head like a dried

wire spiderweb,

leaves stuck out like arms out of the stem, gestures

from the sawdust root, broke pieces of plaster

fallen out of the black twigs, a dead fly in its ear,

Unholy battered old thing you were, my sunflower O

my soul, I loved you then!

The grime was no man’s grime but death and human


all that dress of dust, that veil of darkened railroad

skin, that smog of cheek, that eyelid of black

mis’ry, that sooty hand or phallus or protuberance

of artificial worse-than-dirt–industrial–

modern–all that civilization spotting your

crazy golden crown–

and those blear thoughts of death and dusty loveless

eyes and ends and withered roots below, in the

home-pile of sand and sawdust, rubber dollar

bills, skin of machinery, the guts and innards

of the weeping coughing car, the empty lonely

tincans with their rusty tongues alack, what

more could I name, the smoked ashes of some

cock cigar, the cunts of wheelbarrows and the

milky breasts of cars, wornout asses out of chairs

& sphincters of dynamos–all these

entangled in your mummied roots–and you there

standing before me in the sunset, all your glory

in your form!

A perfect beauty of a sunflower! a perfect excellent

lovely sunflower existence! a sweet natural eye

to the new hip moon, woke up alive and excited

grasping in the sunset shadow sunrise golden

monthly breeze!

How many flies buzzed round you innocent of your

grime, while you cursed the heavens of the

railroad and your flower soul?

Poor dead flower? when did you forget you were a

flower? when did you look at your skin and

decide you were an impotent dirty old locomotive?

the ghost of a locomotive? the specter and

shade of a once powerful mad American locomotive?

You were never no locomotive, Sunflower, you were a


And you Locomotive, you are a locomotive, forget me


So I grabbed up the skeleton thick sunflower and stuck

it at my side like a scepter,

and deliver my sermon to my soul, and Jack’s soul

too, and anyone who’ll listen,

–We’re not our skin of grime, we’re not our dread

bleak dusty imageless locomotive, we’re all

beautiful golden sunflowers inside, we’re blessed

by our own seed & golden hairy naked

accomplishment-bodies growing into mad black

formal sunflowers in the sunset, spied on by our

eyes under the shadow of the mad locomotive

riverbank sunset Frisco hilly tincan evening

sitdown vision.
Allen Ginsberg

Berkeley, 1955

A New Bohemian Ethos…

Best Viewed In FireFox
On The Music Box: Orgisms – Solarquest

I had great hopes for this entry… but have run out of steam and it is getting late. So it happens. I can say that I think you will enjoy the offerings.. I had envisioned something far different, but sometimes, things get out of control…
Blessings, Gwyllm
On The Menu:


Joshu’s Dog

Charlotte Gainsbourg – The Songs That We Sing

Oisin in Tir Na N-Og

San Antonio Poet: Naomi Shihab Nye

Naomi Shihab Nye Biography

The Blessed Little Ones Appear In All Their Glory!

Yum! Psilocybe Cubensis Ecuador Time-Lapse



A Favourite Koan…
Joshu’s Dog
A monk asked Joshu, a Chinese Zen master: `Has a dog Buddha-nature or not?’
Joshu answered: `Mu.’ [Mu is the negative symbol in Chinese, meaning `No-thing’ or `Nay’.]
Mumon’s comment:s To realize Zen one has to pass through the barrier of the patriachs. Enlightenment always comes after the road of thinking is blocked. If you do not pass the barrier of the patriachs or if your thinking road is not blocked, whatever you think, whatever you do, is like a tangling ghost. You may ask: What is a barrier of a patriach? This one word, Mu, is it.
This is the barrier of Zen. If you pass through it you will see Joshu face to face. Then you can work hand in hand with the whole line of patriachs. Is this not a pleasant thing to do?
If you want to pass this barrier, you must work through every bone in your body, through ever pore in your skin, filled with this question: What is Mu? and carry it day and night. Do not believe it is the common negative symbol meaning nothing. It is not nothingness, the opposite of existence. If you really want to pass this barrier, you should feel like drinking a hot iron ball that you can neither swallor nor spit out.
Then your previous lesser knowledge disappears. As a fruit ripening in season, your subjectivity and objectivity naturally become one. It is like a dumb man who has had a dream. He knows about it but cannot tell it.
When he enters this condition his ego-shell is crushed and he can shake the heaven and move the earth. He is like a great warrior with a sharp sword. If a Buddha stands in his way, he will cut him down; if a patriach offers him any obstacle, he will kill him; and he will be free in this way of birth and death. He can enter any world as if it were his own playground. I will tell you how to do this with this koan:
Just concentrate your whole energy into this Mu, and do not allow any discontinuation. When you enter this Mu and there is no discontinuation, your attainment will be as a candle burning and illuminating the whole universe.
Has a dog Buddha-nature?

This is the most serious question of all.

If you say yes or no,

You lose your own Buddha-nature.


Great Singer, Impressive Family, Good Actress… The Talents of the new generation shine through!
Charlotte Gainsbourg – The Songs That We Sing


Sometimes the old tales are like brand new…
Oisin in Tir Na N-Og
There was a king in Tir na n-Og (the land of Youth) who held the throne and crown for many a year against all comers; and the law of the kingdom was that every seventh year the champions and best men of the country should run for the office of king.
Once in seven years they all met at the front of the palace and ran to the top of a hill two miles distant. On the top of that hill was a chair and the man that sat first in the chair was king of Tir na n-Og for the next seven years. After he had ruled for ages, the king became anxious; he was afraid that some one might sit in the chair before him, and take the crown off his head. So he called up his Druid one day and asked: “How long shall I keep the chair to rule this land, and will any man sit in it before me and take the crown off my head?”
“You will keep the chair and the crown for-ever,” said the Druid, unless your own son-in-law takes them from you.”
The king had no sons and but one daughter, the finest woman in Tir na n-Og; and the like of her could not be found in Erin or any kingdom in the world. When the king heard the words of the Druid, he said, “I’ll have no son-in-law, for I’ll put the daughter in a way no man will marry her.”
Then he took a rod of Druidic spells, and calling the daughter up before him, he struck her with the rod, and put a pig’ bead on her in place of her own.
Then he sent the daughter away to her own place in the castle, and turning to the Druid said:
“There is no man that will marry her now.”
When the Druid saw the face that was on the princess with the pig’s head that the father gave her, he grew very sorry that he had given such information to the king; and some time after he went to see the princess.
“Must I be in this way forever?” asked she of the Druid.
“You must,” said he, ” till you marry one of the sons of Fin MacCumbail in Erin. If you marry one of Fin’s sons, you’ll be freed from the blot that is on you now, and get back your own head and countenance.”
When she heard this she was impatient in her mind, and could never rest till she left Tir na n-Og and came to Erin. When she had inquired she heard that Fin and the Fenians of Erin were at that time living on Knock an Ar, and she made her way to the place without delay and lived there a while; and when she saw Oisin, he pleased her; and when she found out that he was a son of Fin MacCumhail, she was always making up to him and coming towards him. And it was usual for the Fenians in those days to go out hunting on the hills and mountains and in the woods of Erin, and when one of them went he always took five or six men with him to bring home the game.
On a day Oisin set out with his men and dogs to the woods; and he went so far and killed so much game that when it was brought together, the men were so tired, weak, and hungry that they couldn’t carry it, but went away home and left him with the three dogs, Bran, Sciolán, and Buglén [famous dogs of Fin MacCumhail] to shift for himself.
Now the daughter of the king of Tir na n-Og, who was herself the queen of Youth, followed closely in the hunt all that day, and when the men left Oisin she came up to him; and as he stood looking at the great pile of game and said, “I am very sorry to leave behind anything that I’ve had the trouble of killing,” she looked at him and said, “Tie up a bundle for me, and I’ll carry it to lighten the load off you.”
Oisin gave her a bundle of the game to carry, and took the remainder himself. The evening was very warm and the game heavy, and after they had gone some distance, Oisin said, ” Let us rest a while.” Both threw down their burdens, and put their backs against a great stone that was by the roadside. The woman was heated and out of breath, and opened her dress to cool herself. Then Oisin looked at her and saw her beautiful form and her white bosom.
“Oh, then,” said he, “it’s a pity you have the pig’s head on you; for I have never seen such an appearance on a woman in all my life before.”
“Well,” said she, ” my father is the king of Tir na n-Og, and I was the finest woman in his kingdom and the most beautifull of all, till he put me under a Druidic spell and gave me the pig’s head that’s on me now in place of my own. And the Druid of Tir na n-Og came to me afterwards, and told me that if one of the sons of Fin MacCumbail would marry me, the pig’s head would vanish, and I should get back my face in the same form as it was before my father struck me with the Druid’s wand. When I heard this I never stopped till I came to Erin, where I found your father and picked you out among the sons of Fin MacCumhail, and followed you to see would you marry me and set me free.”
“If that is the state you are in, and if marriage with me will free you from the spell, I’ll not leave the pig’s head on you long.”
So they got married without delay, not waiting to take home the game or to lift it from the ground. That moment the pig’s head was gone, and the king’s daughter had the same face and beauty that she had before her father struck her with the Druidic wand.
“Now,” said the queen of Youth to Oisin, “I cannot stay here long, and unless you come with me to Tir na n-Og we must part.”
“Oh,” said Oisin, ” wherever you go I’ll go, and wherever you turn I’ll follow.”
Then she turned and Oisin went with her, not going back to Knock an Ar to see his father or his son. That very day they set out for Tir na n-Og and never stopped till they came to her father’s castle; and when they came, there was a welcome before them, for the king thought his daughter was lost. That same year there was to be a choice of a king, and when the appointed day came at the end of the seventh year all the great men and the champions, and the king himself, met together at the front of the castle to run and see who should be first in the chair on the hill; but before a man of them was half way to the hill, Oisin was sitting above in the chair before them. After that time no one stood up to run for the office against Oisin, and he spent many a happy year as king in Tir na n-Og. At last he said to his wife: “I wish I could be in Erin to-day to see my father and his men.”
“If you go,” said his wife, ” and set foot on the land of Erin, you’ll never come back here to me, and you’ll become a blind old man. How long do you think it is since you came here?”
“About three years,” said Oisin.
“It is three hundred years,” said she, ” since you came to this kingdom with me. If you must go to Erin, I’ll give you this white steed to carry you; but if you come down from the steed or touch the soil of Erin with your foot, the steed will come back that minute, and you’ll be where he left you, a poor old man.”
“I’ll come back, never fear,” said Oisin. ” Have I not good reason to come back? But I must see my father and my son and my friends in Erin once more; I must have even one look at them.”
She prepared the steed for Oisin and said, “This steed will carry you wherever you wish to go.”
Oisin never stopped till the steed touched the soil of Erin; and he went on till he came to Knock Patrick in Munster, where he saw a man herding cows. In the field, where the cows were grazing there was a broad flat stone.
“Will you come here,” said Oisin to the herdsman, ” and turn over this stone?&#822
“Indeed, then, I will not,” said the herdsman; “for I could not lift it, nor twenty men more like me.”
Oisin rode up to the stone, and, reaching down, caught it with his hand and turned it over. Underneath the stone was the great horn of the Fenians (borabu), which circled round like a seashell, and it was the rule that when any of the Fenians of Erin blew the borabu, the others would assemble at once from whatever part of the country they might be in at the time.
“Will you bring this horn to me! ” asked Oisin of the herdsman.
“I will not,” said the herdsman; “for neither I nor many more like me could raise it from the ground.”
With that Oisin moved near the horn, and reaching down took it in his hand; but so eager was he to blow it, that he forgot everything, and slipped in reaching till one foot touched the earth. In an instant the steed was gone, and Oisin lay on the ground a blind old man. The herdsman went to Saint Patrick, who lived near by, and told him what had happened.
Saint Patrick sent a man and a horse for Oisin, brought him to his own house, gave him a room by himself, and sent a boy to stay with him to serve and take care of him. And Saint Patrick commanded his cook to send Oisin plenty of meat and drink, to give him bread and beef and butter every day.
Now Oisin lived a while in this way. The cook sent him provisions each day, and Saint Patrick himself asked him all kinds of questions about the old times of the Fenians of Erin. Oisin told him about his father, Fin MacCumhail, about himself, his son Osgar, Goll MacMorna, Conan Maol, Diarmuid, and all the Fenian heroes; how they fought, feasted, and hunted, how they came under Druidic spells, and how they were freed from them.
At the same time, Saint Patrick was putting up a great building; but what his men used to put up in the daytime was levelled at night, and Saint Patrick lamented over his losses in the hearing of Oisin. Then Oisin said in the hearing of Saint Patrick, “If I had my strength and my sight, I’d put a stop to the power that is levelling your work.”
“Do you think you’d be able to do that,” said Saint Patrick, “and let my building go on?”
“I do, indeed,” said Oisin.
So Saint Patrick prayed to the Lord, and the sight and strength came back to Oisin. He went to the woods and got a great club and stood at the building on guard.
What should come in the night but a great beast in the form of a bull, which began to uproot and destroy the work. But if he did Oisin faced him, and the battle began hot and heavy between the two but in the course of the night Oisin got the upper hand of the bull and left him dead before the building. Then he stretched out on the ground himself and fell asleep.
Now Saint Patrick was waiting at home to know how would the battle come out, and thinking Oisin too long away he sent a messenger to the building; and when the messenger came he saw the ground torn up, a hill in one place and a hollow in the next. The bull was dead and Oisin sleeping after the desperate battle. He went back and told what he saw.
“Oh,” said Saint Patrick, “it’s better to knock the strength out of him again; for he’ll kill us all if he gets vexed.”
Saint Patrick took the strength out of him, and when Oisin woke up he was a blind old man and the messenger went out and brought him home.
Oisin lived on for a time as before. The cook sent him his food, the boy served him, and Saint Patrick listened to the stories of the Fenians of Erin.
Saint Patrick had a neighbor, a Jew, a very rich man but the greatest miser in the kingdom, and he had the finest haggart of corn in Erin. Well, the Jew and Saint Patrick got very intimate with one another and so great became the friendship of the Jew for Saint Patrick at last, that he said he ‘d give him, for the support of his house, as much corn as one man could thrash out of the haggard [= hay-yard] in a day.
When Saint Patrick went home after getting the promise of the corn, he told in the hearing of Oisin about what the Jew had said.
“Oh, then,” said Oisin, “if I had my sight and strength, I’d thrash as much corn in one day as would do your whole house for a twelvemonth and more.”
“Will you do that for me? ” said Saint Patrick.
“I will,” said Oisin.
Saint Patrick prayed again to the Lord, and the sight and strength came back to Oisin. He went to the woods next morning at daybreak, Oisin did, pulled up two fine ash-trees and made a flail of them. After eating his breakfast he left the house and never stopped till he faced the haggart of the Jew. Standing before one of the stacks of wheat he hit it a wallop of his flail and broke it asunder. He kept on in this way till he slashed the whole haggart to and fro, – and the Jew running like mad up and down the highroad in front of the haggart, tearing the hair from his head when he saw what was doing to his wheat, and the face gone from him entirely he was so in dread of Oisin.
When the haggart was thrashed clean, Oisin went to Saint Patrick and told him to send his men for the wheat; for he had thrashed out the whole haggart. When Saint Patrick saw the countenance that was on Oisin, and heard what he had done he was greatly in dread of him, and knocked the strength out of him again, and Oisin became an old, blind man as before.
Saint Patrick’s men went to the haggart and there was so much wheat they didn’t bring the half of it away with them and they didn’t want it.
Oisin again lived for a while as before and then he was vexed because the cook didn’t give him what he wanted. He told Saint Patrick that he wasn’t getting enough to eat. Then Saint Patrick called up the cook before himself and Oisin and asked her what she was giving Oisin to eat. She said: “I give him at every meal what bread is baked on a large griddle and all the butter I make in one churn, and a quarter of beef besides.”
“That ought to be enough for you,” said Saint Patrick.
“Oh, then,” said Oisin, turning to the cook, “I have often seen the leg of a blackbird bigger than the quarter of beef you give me, I have often seen an ivy leaf bigger than the griddle on which you bake the bread for me, and I have often seen a single rowan berry [the mountain ash berry] bigger than the bit of butter you give me to eat.”
“You lie! ” said the cook, “you never did.”
Oisin said not a word in answer.
Now there was a hound in the place that was going to have her first whelps, and Oisin said to the boy who was tending him: ” Do you mind and get the first whelp she’ll have and drown the others.”
Next morning the boy found three whelps, and coming back to Oisin, said: “There are three whelps and ‘t is unknown which of them is the first.”
At Saint Patrick’s house they had slaughtered an ox the day before, and Oisin said: ” Go now and bring the hide of the ox and hang it tip in this room.” When the hide was hung up Oisin said, ” Bring here the three whelps and throw them up against the hide.” The boy threw up one of the whelps against the oxhide. “What did he do?” asked Oisin.
“What did he do,” said the boy, ” but fall to the ground.”
“Throw up another,” said Oisin. The boy threw another. ” What did he do?” asked Olsin.
“What did he do but to fall the same as the first.”
The third whelp was thrown and he held fast to the hide, didn’t fall. ” What did he do? asked Oisin.
“Oh,” said the boy, “he kept his hold.”
“Take him down,” said Oisin; “give him to the mother: bring both in here; feed the mother well and drown the other two.”
The bo
y did as he was commanded, and fed the two well, and when the whelp grew up the mother was banished, the whelp chained up and fed for a year and a day. And when the year and a day were spent, Oisin said, ” We ‘II go hunting tomorrow, and we ‘II take the dog with us.”
They went next day, the boy guiding Oisin, holding the dog by a chain. They went first to the place where Oisin had touched earth and lost the magic steed from Tir na n-Og. The borabu of the Fenians of Erin was lying on the ground there still. Oisin took it up and they went on to Glen na Smuil (Thrushs’s Glen). When at the edge of the glen Oisin began to sound the borabu. Birds and beasts of every kind came hurrying forward. He blew the horn till the glen was full of them from end to end.
“What do you see now? ” asked he of the boy.
“The glen is full of living things.”
“What is the dog doing?”
“He is looking ahead and his hair is on end.”
“Do you see anything else?”
“I see a great bird all black settling down on the north side of the glen.”
That’s what I want,” said Oisin; ” what is the dog doing now?”
“Oh, the eyes are coming out of his head, and there isn’t a rib of hair on his body that isn’t standing up.”
“Let him go now,” said Oisin. The boy let slip the chain and the dog rushed through the glen killing everything before him. When all the others were dead he turned to the great blackbird and killed that. Then he faced Oisin and the boy and came bounding toward them with venom and fierceness. Oisin drew out of his bosom a brass ball and said: “If you don’t throw this into the dog’s mouth he’ll destroy us both; knock the dog with the ball or he ‘II tear tis to pieces.”
“Oh,” said the boy, “I’ll never be able to throw the ball, I’m so in dread of the dog.”
“Come here at my back, then,” said Oisin, “and straighten my hand towards the dog.”
The boy directed the hand and Oisin threw the ball into the dog’s mouth and killed him on the spot.
“What have we done? ” asked Oisin.
“Oh, the dog is knocked,” said the boy.
“We are all right then,” said Oisin, “and do you lead me now to the blackbird of the cam, I don’t care for the others.”
They went to the great bird, kindled a fire and cooked all except one of its legs. Then Oisin ate as much as he wanted and said; “I’ve had a good meal of my own hunting and it’s many and many a day since I have had one. Now let us go on farther.”
They went into the woods, and soon Oisin asked the boy; “Do you see anything wonderful?”
“I see an ivy with the largest leaves I have ever set eyes on.”
“Take one leaf of that ivy,” said Oisin.
The boy took the leaf. Near the ivy they found a rowan berry, and then went home taking the three things with them, – the blackbird’s leg, the ivy leaf, and the rowan berry. When they reached the house Oisin called for the cook, and Saint Patrick made her come to the fore. When she came Oisin pointed to the blackbird’s leg and asked, “Which is larger, that leg or the quarter of beef you give me?”
“Oh, that is a deal larger,” said the cook.
“You were right in that case,” said Saint Patrick to Oisin.
Then Oisin drew out the ivy leaf and asked, “Which is larger, this or the griddle on which you made bread for me?”
“That is larger than the griddle and the bread together,” said the cook.
“Right again,” said Saint Patrick.
Oisin now took out the rowan berry and asked:
“Which is larger, this berry or the butter of one churning which you give me?”
“Oh, that is bigger,” said the cook, “than both the churn and the butter.”
Right, every time,” said Saint Patrick.
Then Oisin raised his arm and swept the head off the cook with a stroke from the edge of his hand, saying, “You ‘II never give the lie to an honest man again.”

San Antonio Poet: Naomi Shihab Nye


You can’t be, says a Palestinian Christian

on the first feast day after Ramadan.

So, half-and-half and half-and-half.

He sells glass. He knows about broken bits,

chips. If you love Jesus you can’t love

anyone else. Says he.
At his stall of blue pitchers on the Via Dolorosa,

he’s sweeping. The rubbed stones

feel holy. Dusting of powdered sugar

across faces of date-stuffed mamool.
This morning we lit the slim white candles

which bend over at the waist by noon.

For once the priests weren’t fighting

in the church for the best spots to stand.

As a boy, my father listened to them fight.

This is partly why he prays in no language

but his own. Why I press my lips

to every exception.
A woman opens a window—here and here and here—

placing a vase of blue flowers

on an orange cloth. I follow her.

She is making a soup from what she had left

in the bowl, the shriveled garlic and bent bean.

She is leaving nothing out.

Two Countries

Skin remembers how long the years grow

when skin is not touched, a gray tunnel

of singleness, feather lost from the tail

of a bird, swirling onto a step,

swept away by someone who never saw

it was a feather. Skin ate, walked,

slept by itself, knew how to raise a

see-you-later hand. But skin felt

it was never seen, never known as

a land on the map, nose like a city,

hip like a city, gleaming dome of the mosque

and the hundred corridors of cinnamon and rope.
Skin had hope, that’s what skin does.

Heals over the scarred place, makes a road.

Love means you breathe in two countries.

And skin remembers–silk, spiny grass,

deep in the pocket that is skin’s secret own.

Even now, when skin is not alone,

it remembers being alone and thanks something larger

that there are travelers, that people go places

larger than themselves.


If you place a fern

under a stone

the next day it will be

nearly invisible

as if the stone has

swallowed it.
If you tuck the name of a loved one

under your tongue too long

without speaking it

it becomes blood


the little sucked-in breath of air

hiding everywhere

beneath your words.
No one sees

the fuel that feeds you.


“A true Arab knows how to catch a fly in his hands,”

my father would say. And he’d prove it,

cupping the buzzer instantly

while the host with the swatter stared.
In the spring our palms peeled like snakes.

True Arabs believed watermelon could heal fifty ways.

I changed these to fit the occasion.
Years before, a girl knocked,

wanted to see the Arab.

I said we didn’t have one.

After that, my father told me who he was,

“Shihab”–”shooting star”–

a good name, borrowed from the sky.

Once I said, “When we die, we give it back?”

He said that’s what a true Arab would say.
Today the headlines clot in my blood.

A little Palestinian dangles a truck on the front page.

Homeless fig, this tragedy with a terrible root

is too big for us. What flag can we wave?

I wave the flag of stone and seed,

table mat stitched in blue.
I call my father, we talk around the news.

It is too much for him,

neither of his two languages can reach it.

I drive into the country to find sheep, cows,

to plead with the air:

Who calls anyone civilized?

Where can the crying heart graze?

What does a true Arab do now?

Naomi Shihab Nye
Naomi Shihab Nye was born on March 12, 1952, in St. Louis, Missouri, to a Palestinian father and an American mother. During her high school years, she lived in Ramallah in Jordan, the Old City in Jerusalem, and San Antonio, Texas, where she later received her B.A. in English and world religions from Trinity University.
Nye is the author of numerous books of poems, including You and Yours (BOA Editions, 2005), which received the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award, as well as 19 Varieties of Gazelle: Poems of the Middle East (2002), a collection of new and selected poems about the Middle East, Fuel (1998), Red Suitcase (1994), and Hugging the Jukebox (1982).
Nye gives voice to her experience as an Arab-American through poems about heritage and peace that overflow with a humanitarian spirit. About her work, the poet William Stafford has said, “her poems combine transcendent liveliness and sparkle along with warmth and human insight. She is a champion of the literature of encouragement and heart. Reading her work enhances life.”
Nye has received awards from the Texas Institute of Letters, the Carity Randall Prize, the International Poetry Forum, as well as four Pushcart Prizes. She has been a Lannan Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Wittner Bynner Fellow. In 1988 she received The Academy of American Poets’ Lavan Award, selected by W. S. Merwin.
Her poems and short stories have appeared in various journals and reviews throughout North America, Europe, and the Middle and Far East. She has traveled to the Middle East and Asia for the United States Information Agency three times, promoting international goodwill through the arts.
She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Egon Bondy

When we think of ‘The Underground Scene’ in the US and other parts of the West, we really are discussing something that has been largely visible from the beginning of say… 1950 or so with distinct clothing, hair styles to signal others of ones participation. In reality, it has been on the most part an easy go of it. We don’t take into consideration what being ‘Underground’ in actuality is really like: Stiff prison sentences, fines, or the destruction of your writings, and art as seen in the Eastern Bloc during the Stalinist times onwards. Egon Bondy’s creative life was shaped by events that are hardly comprehended here in the West, or really even recognized. His influence on the events of The Prague Spring, and the eventual crumbling of the Communist Regimes of Eastern Europe are deep and profound, more so as he approached most everything in life in a pure Marxist fashion. You might be familar with his works through the band that used his poetry and ideas/collaborations: ‘Plastic People Of The Universe’ (how I found out about him many years ago…
Egon died recently, and this issue of Turfing is dedicated to him. A huge tip of the hat to Morgan Miller for alerting me, and in reality, he found all the links and poetry that I used to give you an idea about Egon.

Thanks Morgan!

On The Menu:

The Links

Plastic People Of The Universe

Catching Up With Egon

Egon Links

Egon Bondy Poetry
Bright Blessings,

The Links:

Boys, need some heels to go with those leggings?

Poet’s tomb discovered in church crypt

The End of a 1,400-Year-Old Business

Mysterious Huge Stone Eggs Discovered in Hunan Province


Plastic People Of The Universe



Catching Up With Egon

Egon Bondy, born Zbyněk Fišer, (January 20, 1930, Prague – April 9, 2007, Bratislava) was a Czech philosopher, writer, and poet, one of the main personalities of the Prague underground.
In the late 1940s, Bondy was active in a surrealistic group. From 1957 to 1961, he studied philosophy and psychology at Charles University in Prague. From the 1960s he was one of the main figures of the Prague underground, writing texts for The Plastic People of the Universe. His non-conformism brought him into conflict with the communist regime in occupied Czechoslovakia. His works were circulated only as Samizdat.
Bondy was always interested in the study of Karl Marx and in the criticism of both contemporary capitalism and totalitarian socialism. His philosophical work concerns ontological and related ethical problems. He attempts to show the relevance of ontology without any substance or grounding.
Bondy’s work is very distinctive. He was a close friend of Bohumil Hrabal, another Prague writer, and is one of the most influential Czech intellectuals of the 20th century.
In the 1990s Bondy moved from Prague to Bratislava, Slovakia.
The scope of his works is exceptionally broad: he published about thirty books of poetry, ranging from epic poems in early 1950s to meditative philosophical works in the 1980s. He also published about twenty novels, most of them dealing with the topic of a society or an individual in crisis, or a crisis in the relationship between an individual and his or her community. Despite the deep, existential background of his work, the texts are fresh and entertaining. He himself most valued his philosophical works. He published a history of philosophy. However, this work is criticized by authorities within the field for its subjective deformation of the topic, reflective of Bondy’s Marxist orientation.

Egon Links:

“The last Czechoslovakian marxist”: an interview with Egon Bondy – author, poet, and political analyst – interview

Egon Bondy, Czech Writer and Critic, Dies at 77


On Various Aspects of Going /by/ the Underground in Bohemia

Egon Bondy Poetry
Summer Autumn Winter Spring
Summer autumn winter spring

who’s fault is this whole thing?

I ride around in my tractor

I ride it up and down

It’s my second day

who knows what next week will bring

I like tractors

here on the farm

and the boys from the station

stand tall and firm

Peace peace peace

just like a piece

of bog roll

At the age of twenty today

you feel like vomiting all day

But those that are forty of age

have even more to spew at that stage

Only those that reach sixty, senility at hand

can go off peacefully to slumber land

The Tuesday Tumble…

Best Viewed In FireFox!

Raining like Katz n Dogs up in P-land… good stuff to read, pictures to see, strange music to hear.
On The Menu:

From Victoria – The Zimmers: My Generation

The Links

The Soul-Searchers by Alan W. Watts

Web Mash Up Weirdness

Poetry: W.B. Yeats

Art: Frederic Lord Leighton

From Victoria – The Zimmers: My Generation


The Links:

Dealing Internet Radio Another Blow…

From Doug in the UK: “This is your mouse’s brain on drugs!” Flash Game…

Hungarian motorway blocked by escaping rabbits

Mystery Surrounds Possible Oldest Church in North America


The Soul-Searchers by Alan W. Watts

An excerpt from In My Own Way: An Autobiography, 1915—1965

On returning to America [in 1958] I was introduced to psychiatric adventures of a very different order, for Aldous Huxley had recently published Doors of Perception about his experiment with mescaline, and had by this time gone on to explore the mysteries of LSD. Gerald Heard had joined him in these investigations, and in my conversations with them I noticed a marked change of spiritual attitude. To put it briefly, they had ceased to be Manicheans. Their vision of the divine now included nature, and they had become more relaxed and humane, so that I found myself talking to men of my own persuasion. Yet it struck me as highly improbable that a true spiritual experience could follow from ingesting a particular chemical. Visions and ecstasies, yes. A taste of the mystical, like swimming with waterwings, perhaps. And perhaps a reawakening for someone who had made the journey before, or an insight for a person well practiced in something like Yoga or Zen.
Nevertheless, on these “inner planes” I am of an adventurous nature, and am willing to give most things a try. Both Aldous and my former student at the Academy, mathematician John Whittelsey, were in touch with Keith Ditman, psychiatrist in charge of LSD research at the UCLA department of neuropsychiatry. John was working with him as statistician in a project designed both to test the effect of the drug on alcoholics and to make a map of its effects on the human organism. So many of their subjects had reported states of consciousness that read like accounts of mystical experience that they were interested in trying it out on “experts” in this field, even though a mystic is never really expert in the same way as a neurologist or a philologist, for his work is not a cataloguing of objects. But I qualified as an expert insofar as I had also a considerable intellectual knowledge of the psychology and philosophy of religion: a knowledge that subsequently protected me from the more dangerous aspects of this adventure, giving me a compass and something of a map for this wild territory. Furthermore, I trusted Keith Ditman. He wasn’t scared, like so many Jungians, of the unconscious. Nor was he foolhardy, but seemed level-headed, cautious, tentative in opinion, yet lively, bright-eyed, and intensely interested in his work.
We made, then, an initial experiment at Keith’s office in Beverly Hills in which I was joined by Edwin Halsey, formerly private secretary to Ananda Coomaraswamy, and then teaching comparative religions at Claremont. We each took one hundred micrograms of d-lysergic acid diethylamide-25, courtesy of the Sandoz Company, and set out on an eight-hour exploration. For me the journey was hilariously beautiful—as if I and all my perceptions had been transformed into a marvelous arabesque or multidimensional maze in which everything became transparent, translucent, and reverberant with double and triple meanings. Every detail of perception became vivid and important, even ums and ers and throat-clearing when someone read poetry, and time slowed down in such a way that people going about their business outside seemed demented in failing to see that the destination of life is this eternal moment. We walked across the street to a white, Spanish-style church, surrounded with olive trees and gleaming in the sun against a sky of absolute, primordial blue, and saw the grass and the plants as inexplicably geometrized in every detail so as to suggest that nothing in nature was disordered. We went back and looked at a volume of Chinese and Japanese sumi, or black-ink paintings, all of which seemed to be perfectly accurate photographs. There were even highlights and shadows on Mu-ch’i’s persimmons that were certainly not intended by the artist. At one time Edwin felt somewhat overwhelmed and remarked, “I just can’t wait until I’m little old me again, sitting in a bar.” In the meantime he was looking like an incarnation of Apollo in a supernatural necktie, contemplatively holding an orange lily. (1)
All in all my first experience was aesthetic rather than mystical, and then and there—which is, alas, rather characteristic of me—I made a tape for broadcast saying that I had looked into this phenomenon and found it most interesting, but hardly what I would call mystical. This tape was heard by two psychiatrists at the Langley-Porter Clinic in San Francisco, Sterling Bunnell and Michael Agron, who thought I should reconsider my views. After all, I had made only one experiment and there was something of an art to getting it really working. It was thus that Bunnell set me off on a series of experiments which I have recorded in The Joyous Cosmology, and in the course of which I was reluctantly compelled to admit that—at least in my own case—LSD had brought me into an undeniably mystical state of consciousness. But oddly, considering my absorption in Zen at the time, the flavor of these experiences was Hindu rather than Chinese. Somehow the atmosphere of Hindu mythology and imagery slid into them, suggesting at the same time that Hindu philosophy was a local form of a sort of undercover wisdom, inconceivably ancient, which everyone knows in the back of his mind but will not admit. This wisdom was simultaneously holy and disreputable, and therefore necessarily esoteric, and it came in the dress of a totally logical, obvious, and basic common sense.
In sum I would say that LSD, and such other psychedelic substances as mescaline, psilocybin, and hashish, confer polar vision; by which I mean that the basic pairs of opposites, the positive and the negative, are seen as the different poles of a single magnet or circuit. This knowledge is repressed in any culture that accentuates the positive, and is thus a strict taboo. It carries Gestalt psychology, which insists on the mutual interdependence of figure and background, to its logical conclusion in every aspect of life and thought; so that the voluntary and the involuntary, knowing and the known, birth and decay, good and evil, outline and inline, self and other, solid and space, motion and rest, light and darkness, are seen as aspects of a single and completely perfect process. The implication of this may be that there is nothing in life to be gained or attained that is not already here and now, an implication thoroughly disturbing to any philosophy or culture which is seriously playing the game which I have called White Must Win.

Polar vision is thus undoubtedly dangerous—but so is electricity, so are knives, and so is language. When an immature person experiences the identity of the voluntary and the involuntary, he may feel, on the one hand, utterly powerless, or on the other, equal to the Hebrew-Christian God. If the former, he may panic from the sense that no one is in charge of things. If the latter, he may contract offensive megalomania. Nevertheless, he has had immediate experience of the fact that each one of us is an organism-environment field, of which the two aspects, individual and world, can be separated only for purposes of discussion. If such a person sees thus clearly the mutuality of good and evil, he may jump to the conclusion that ethical principles are so relative as to be without validity—which might be utterly demoralizing for any repressed adolescent. Fortunately for me, my God was not so much the Hebrew-Christian autocrat as the Chinese Tao, “which loves and nourishes all things, but does not lord it over them.”
I hesitated a long time before writing The Joyous Cosmology, considering the dangers of letting the general public be further aware of this potent alchemy. But since Aldous had already let the cat out of the bag in Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, and the subject was already under discussion both in psychiatric journals and in the public press, I decided that more needed to be said, mainly to soothe public alarm and to do what I could to forestall the disasters that would follow from legal repression. For I was seriously alarmed at the psychedelic equivalents of bathtub gin, and of the prospect of these chemicals, uncontrolled in dosage and content, being bootlegged for use in inappropriate settings without any competent supervision whatsoever. I maintained that, for lack of any better solution, they should be restricted for psychiatric prescription. But the state and federal governments were as stupid as I had feared, and by passing unenforceable laws against LSD not only drove it underground but prevented proper research. Such laws are unenforceable because any competent chemist can manufacture LSD, or a close equivalent, and the substance can be disguised as anything from aspirin to blotting-paper. It has been painted on the thin pages of a small Bible, and eaten sheet by sheet. But as a result of this terror, the injudicious use of LSD (often mixed with strychnine or belladonna or quite dangerous psychedelics) has afflicted uncounted young people with paranoid, megalomanic, and schizoid symptoms.
I see this disaster in the larger context of American prohibitionism, which has done more than anything else to corrupt the police and foster disrespect for law, and which our economic pressure has, in the special problem of drug abuse, spread to the rest of the world. Although my views on this matter may be considered extreme, I feel that in any society where the powers of Church and State are separate, the State is without either right or wisdom in enforcing sumptuary laws against crimes which have no complaining victims. When the police are asked to be armed clergymen enforcing ecclesiastical codes of morality, all the proscribed sins of the flesh, of lust and luxury, become—since we are legislating against human nature—exceedingly profitable ventures for criminal organizations which can pay both the police and the politicians to stay out of trouble. Those who cannot pay constitute about one-third of the population of our overcrowded and hopelessly mismanaged prisons, and the business of their trial by due process delays and over taxes the courts beyond all reason. These are nomogenic crimes, caused by bad laws, just as iatrogenic diseases are caused by bad doctoring. The offenders seldom feel guilty but often positively righteous in their opposition to this legal hypocrisy, and so emerge from prison loathing and despising the social order more than ever.
I speak with passion on this problem because I have often served as a consultant to the staffs of state institutions for mental and moral deviants, such as the institutional hells which the State of California maintains at San Quentin, Vacaville, Atascadero, and Napa—to mention only those I have visited, and knowing that they are considerably worse in other parts of the country, and most especially in those states afflicted with religious fanaticism. Relative to our own times, the prosecution of sumptuary laws is as tyrannical as any of the excesses of the Holy Inquisition or the Star Chamber.
My retrospective attitude to LSD is that when one has received the message, one hangs up the phone. I think I have learned from it as much as I can, and, for my own sake, would not be sorry if I could never use it again. But it is not, I believe, generally known that very many of those who had constructive experiences with LSD, or other psychedelics, have turned from drugs to spiritual disciplines—abandoning their water-wings and learning to swim. Without the catalytic experience of the drug they might never have come to this point, and thus my feeling about psychedelic chemicals, as about most other drugs (despite the vague sense of the word), is that they should serve as medicine rather than diet.
It was again through Aldous that I first heard of a Dr. Leary of Harvard University who was doing experimental work with the drug psilocybin, derived from a mushroom that had long been used for religious purposes by some of the Indians of Mexico. From the detached and scholarly flavor of Aldous’s account of this work I was expecting Timothy Leary to be a formidable pandit, but the man I first met in a New York restaurant was an extremely charming Irishman who wore a hearing-aid as stylishly as if it had been a monocle. Nothing could then have told me that anyone so friendly and intelligent would become one of the most outlawed people in the world, a fugitive from justice charged with the sin of Socrates, and all upon the legal pretext of possessing trivial amounts of marijuana.
It so happened that Timothy was working under a department of the University that had long been of interest to me, the Department of Social Relations, which had been established by Henry Murray. On several occasions I had visited Murray’s domain, at 7 Divinity Avenue, and been entertained at luncheons where, as host, he showed a special genius for arousing intelligent conversation and for making other people appear at their best. In his company there would turn up—it might be— I. A. Richards, Mircea Eliade, Clyde Kluckhon, or Jerome Bruner for such civilized intellectual discourse as is all too rarely heard in academic circles, where it now seems a point of honor to keep off one’s subject and discuss the trivia of departmental politics. But these gentlemen were ashamed neither of their scholarship nor their personalities, and on one occasion—over an old-fashioned before lunch—I distinctly heard Richards remarking, “Well, as a matter of course, I always regard myself as the perfect human being.” I was so delighted with Murray’s milieu that, with the assistance of a wealthy friend, I managed to get myself a two-year fellowship for travel and study under his and the University’s dispensation—a breather which gave me time to compile The Two Hands of God and to write Beyond Theology.

The time I could actually spend at Harvard was all too brief, for this is a university so assured of its intellectual reputation that its faculty can afford to be adventurous. But—even at Harvard—you must draw the line somewhere, and Timothy did not know just where that was. Whenever I was in Cambridge I kept closely in touch with him and with his associates Richard Alpert and Ralph Metzner, for—quite aside from the particular fascinations of chemical mysticism—these were the most lively and imaginative people in the department other than Murray himself, who watched their doings with deep and constructively critical interest even after his official retirement.
I was also interested in the work of B. F. Skinner, wondering how so absolute a determinist could write a utopia, Walden Two, and digging into his beautifully reasoned writings until I discovered the flaw in his system. This I explained in a lecture which Skinner, though I had forewarned him in person, did not attend.(2) I saw that his reasoning was still haunted by the ghost of man as a something—presumably a conscious ego—determined by environmental and other forces, for it makes no sense to speak of a determinism unless there is some passive object which is determined. But his own reasoning made it clear, not so much that human behavior was determined by other forces, but rather that it could not be described apart from those forces and was, indeed, inseparable from them. It did not seem to have occurred to him that “cause” and “effect” are simply two phases of, or two ways of looking at, one and the same event. It is not, then, that effects (in this case human behaviors) are determined by their causes. The point is that when events are fully and properly described they will be found to involve and contain processes which were at first thought separate from them, and were thus called causes as distinct from effects. Taken to his logical conclusion, Skinner is not saying that man is determined by nature, as something external to him: he is actually saying that man is nature, and is describing a process which is neither determined nor determining. He simply provides reason for the essentially mystical view that man and universe are inseparable.

Such problems were involved in my attempts to work out an intellectual structure for what Timothy and his friends were experiencing in their psychedelic states of consciousness. For I saw that their enthusiasm for these states was leading them further and further away from the ideals of rational objectivity to which the department and the University were committed; especially as the department had recently acquired a computer and was going overboard for the statistical approach to psychology. On the one hand, I was trying to persuade Timothy’s clan to keep command of intellectual rigor, and to express their experiences in terms that people bending over backward to be scientific would understand. On the other hand, I was trying to get such conservatives as David McClelland, Murray’s successor, and Skinner to see that the so-called “transactional” description of man as an organism-environment field was a theoretical description of what the nature-mystic experiences immediately, whereas most scientists continue to experience themselves as separate and detached observers, determined or otherwise. Their feelings lag far behind their theoretical views, for psychologists, in particular, are still under the emotional sway of Newtonian mechanics, and their personal feelings of identity have not yet been modified by quantum mechanics and field theory.

But Timothy could not contain himself, and it seemed to him more and more that, in practice, the procedures of scientific objectivity and rigor were simply an academic ritual designed to convince the university establishment that your work was dull and trivial enough to be considered “sound.” It so happens that psychedelic chemicals make one curiously sensitive to pomposity. Anyone talking memorandumese, or religious or political rhetoric, or anyone waxing enthusiastic about a product in which he does not believe, sounds so ridiculous that you cannot keep a straight face: one excellent reason why no government can tolerate a “turned-on” populace. Both Timothy and Richard Alpert began to see, furthermore, that a distinguished academic career was not all that important, since the university was already an obsolete institution representing the nineteenth-century mythology of scientific naturalism. But when one arrives at this point of view after, if not because of, “taking drugs,” it becomes impossible to maintain rational discourse with the establishment, even though some of its more distinguished brains are pickled in alcohol. Thus things came to the point where Timothy and Richard were as suspect as if they had been lobotomized or become Jehovah’s Witnesses.
I was present at the dinner party where Timothy finally agreed with David McClelland to withdraw experimentation with drugs from his work under the department. David was making the point that they had become too enthusiastic about their work to preserve scientific integrity, and with this I was in partial agreement, because to be intellectually honest you must be able to come to terms with any intelligible criticism of your ideas. When I have received inspirations during an LSD session, I have always reviewed them subsequently in the light of cold sobriety, in which some, but by no means all, of them appear to be nonsense. But David was going so far as to insist that no one with a religious commitment could really do scientific work in psychology, and this so amazed me that I protested, “Now, David, are you seriously saying that, for example, a very sober, honest, and devoted Quaker, well educated and straight from Philadelphia, could not be entrusted with scientific work?” I do not remember his reaction, but I was unaware at the time that he himself was a concerned Quaker.
What followed is now a matter of history. Timothy and Richard continued their experiments unofficially, and scandalized the University authorities by including undergraduates in their work. Henry Murray, however, with a wise look on his face, reminisced about the days when psychoanalysis first struck Harvard, and what an uproar of indignation had come to pass when a psychoanalyzed faculty member had committed suicide. Nevertheless, I myself began to be concerned, if mildly, at the direction of Timothy’s enthusiasm, for to his own circle of friends and students he had become a charismatic religious leader who, well trained as he was in psychology, knew very little about religion and mysticism and their pitfalls. The uninstructed adventurer with psychedelics, as with Zen or yoga or any other mystical discipline, is an easy victim of what Jung calls “inflation,” of the messianic megalomania that comes from misunderstanding the experience of union with God. It leads to the initial mistake of casting pearls before swine, and, as time went on, I was dismayed to see Timothy converting himself into a popular store-front messiah with his name in lights, advocating psychedelic experience as a new world-religion. He was moving to a head-on collision with the established religions of biblical theocracy and scientific mechanism, and simply asking for martyrdom.
Life with Timothy, as I saw it in his communes at Newton Center and Millbrook, was never dull, even though it was hard to understand how people who had witnessed the splendors of psychedelic vision could be so aesthetically blind as to live in relative squalor, with perpetually unmade beds, unswept floors, and hideously decrepit furnishings. It could be, I suppose, that being turned-on all the time is like looking through a teleidoscope: it makes far more interesting patterns out of messes (such as dirty ashtrays) than out of such orderly scenes as neatly arranged books in shelves. But Timothy was the center of a vortex which pulled in the intellectually and spiritually adventurous from all quarters, and in his entourage student hippies jostled with millionaires and eminent professors, while to spend an evening with him in New York City or Los Angeles was to be swept from one exotically sumptuous apartment to another.

Through all this, Timothy himself remained an essentially humorous, kindly, lovable, and (in some directions) intellectually brilliant person, and therefore it was utterly incongruous— however predictable—to become aware of the grim watchfulness of police in the background. Now nothing so easily deranges people using psychedelics as a paranoid atmosphere, so that by their intervention the police created the very evils from which they were supposed to be protecting us. In the early days when LSD, psilocybin, and mescaline were used more or less legitimately among reasonably mature people, there was little trouble with “bum trips,” and episodes of anxiety were usually turned into occasions for insight. But when federal and state authorities began their systematic persecution, the fears invoked to justify it became self-fulfilling prophecies, and there was now real reason for a paranoid atmosphere in all experiments conducted outside the sterile and clinical surroundings of psychiatric hospitals. Although Timothy won a case in the Supreme Court which technically quashed the federal law against possessing and using (but not against importing) marijuana, the state laws remained in force, and he was harassed wherever he went, until finally imprisoned without bail with so many technical charges against him that there was nothing for it but to escape and seek such asylum in exile as he could find.
Richard Alpert, who in all this had played a much quieter role, also went into exile, but in another way. While visiting India he realized that he had come to the end of the identity as a psychologist which he had thus far played, so much so that he could not envisage any normal role or career for himself in the United States. Furthermore, he felt as I did that he had learned all that he could get from psychedelics, and that what remained was actually to live out the life of freedom from worldly games and anxieties. He therefore took the name of Baba Ram Dass, and came back as a white-robed and bearded sannyasin, full of laughter and energy, dedicated simply to living in the eternal now. And, as might be expected, people raised their eyebrows and shook their heads, saying that the old showman was playing another game, or, alas, what drugs had done to such a promising young scientist, or that it was just great to be a sannyasin with an independent income. But I felt that he had done just the right thing for himself. I spent many hours with him and sensed that he was genuinely happy, that his intelligence was as sharp as ever, and that he was confident enough in what he was doing not to try to persuade me to follow his example. Certainly he was having great pleasure in the multitudes of young people who came to listen to him, but in this respect he and I are alike, for we enjoy thinking out loud with an appreciative and intelligent audience just as we enjoy landscape or music. But would he be going about in a white robe if he were really sincere? Indeed yes. For in a country where a philosopher’s sincerity is measured by the ordinariness of his dress, I too will sometimes wear a kimono or sarong in public, lest, like Billy Graham, I should attract an enormous following of dangerously serious and humorless people.
Now, in retrospect, it must be said that the Psychedelic Decade of the sixties has really begun to awaken psychotherapists from their studiedly pedestrian and reductionist attitudes to life. Here I am using the word “psychedelic” to mean all “mind-manifesting” processes: not only chemicals, but also philosophies, neurological experiments, and spiritual disciplines. At the beginning of the decade one felt that so many psychiatrists saw themselves as guardians of an official reality which might be described as the world seen on a bleak Monday morning. They saw a good orientation to reality as coping—as having a normal heterosexual (and preferably monogamous) sex life, a “mature adult relationship” as it was called; as being able to drive a car and hold down a nine-to-five job; as being able to recall the product of g and 7 without hesitation; and as being able to participate in group activities and show qualities of initiative and leadership.

It was, as I remember, in 1959 that I was asked to speak before a meeting of the American Psychiatric Association in Los Angeles. Learned statistical papers had dragged on and on, overtime, and my turn came when we were already late for lunch. I abandoned my prepared remarks (being what the press calls a textual deviate) and said:
“Gentlemen, this is not going to be a scientific paper because I am a simple philosopher, not a psychiatrist, and you are hungry for lunch. We philosophers are very grateful to you for showing us the unconscious emotional bases of some of our ideas, but the time is coming for us to show you the unconscious intellectual assumptions behind some of yours. Psychiatric literature is full of unexamined metaphysics. Even Jung, who is so readily repudiated for his ‘mysticism,’ bends over backward to avoid metaphysical considerations on the pretext that he is strictly a physician and a scientist. This is impossible. Every human being is a metaphysician just as every philosopher has appetites and emotions—and by this I mean that we all have certain basic assumptions about the good life and the nature of reality. Even the typical businessman who asserts that he is a practical fellow unconcerned with higher things declares thereby that he is a pragmatist or a positivist, and not a very thoughtful one at that.
“I wonder, then, how much consideration you give to the fact that most of your own assumptions about the good life and reality come directly from the scientific naturalism of the nineteenth century, from the strictly metaphysical hypothesis that the universe is a mechanism obeying Newtonian laws, and that there is no other god beside it. Psychoanalysis, which is actually psychohydraulics following Newton’s mechanics, begins from the mystical assertion that the psychosexual energy of the unconscious is a blind and stupid outrush of pure lust, following Haeckel’s notion that the universe at large is a manifestation of primordially oafish and undiscriminating energy. It should be obvious to you that this is an opinion for which there has never been the least evidence, and which, furthermore, ignores the evidence that we ourselves, supposedly making intelligent remarks, are manifestations of that same energy.

“On the basis of this unexamined, derogatory, and shaky opinion as to the nature of biological and physical energy, some of your psychoanalytic members have this morning dubbed all the so-called mystical states of consciousness as ‘regressive,’ as leading one back to a dissolution of the individual intelligence in an acid bath of amniotic fluid, reducing it to featureless identity with this—your First Cause—mess of blindly libidinous energy. Now, until you have found some substantial evidence for your metaphysics you will have to admit that you have no way of knowing which end of your universe is up, so that in the meantime you should abstain from easy conclusions as to which directions are progressive and which regressive. [Laughter]“

It had always seemed to me that, by and large, psychotherapists lacked the metaphysical dimension; in other words, that they affected the mentality of insurance clerks and lived in a world scrubbed and disinfected of all mystery, magic, color, music, and awe, with no place in the heart for the sound of a distant gong in a high and hidden valley. This is an exaggeration from which I will except most of the Jungians and such occasional freaks as Groddeck, Prinzhorn, G. R. Heyer, Wilhelm Reich, and others less well known. Thus, writing of American psychology in 1954, Abraham Maslow remarked that it was overpragmatic, over-Puritan, and overpurposeful…. No textbooks have chapters on fun and gaiety, on leisure and meditation, on loafing and puttering, on aimless, useless, and purposeless activity…. American psychology is busily occupying itself with only half of life to the neglect of the other—and perhaps most important—half.(3)
The publication of my Psychotherapy East and West and Joyous Cosmology early in the sixties brought me into public and private discussion with many leading members of the psychiatric profession, and I was astonished at what seemed to be their actual terror of unusual states of consciousness. I had thought that psychiatrists should have been as familiar with these wildernesses and unexplored territories of the mind as Indian guides, but as I perused something like the two huge volumes of The American Handbook of Psychiatry, I found only maps of the soul as primitive as ancient maps of the world. There were vaguely outlined emptinesses called Schizophrenia, Hysteria, and Catatonia, accompanied with little more solid information than “Here be dragons and cameleopards.” At a party in New York I fell into conversation with one of that city’s most eminent analysts, and as soon as he learned that I had experimented with LSD his personality became surgically professional. He donned his mask and rubber gloves and addressed me as a specimen, wanting to know all the surface details of perceptual and kinesthetic alterations, which I could see him fitting into place zip, pop, and clunk with his keenly calipered mind. I took part in a televised debate on “Open End,” with David Susskind trying to moderate between the two factions of psychedelic enthusiasts and establishment psychiatrists, and in the ensuing uproar and confusion of passions I found myself flung into the position of moderator, telling both sides that they had no basis in evidence for their respective fanaticisms.
In all these contacts I began to feel that the only psychiatrists who had any solid information were such neurologists as David Rioch, of Walter Reed, and Karl Pribram, of Stanford. They could tell me things I didn’t know and were the first to admit how little they knew, for they were realizing the odd fact that their brains were more intelligent than their minds or, to say the least, that the human nervous system was of such a high order of complexity that we were only just beginning to organize it in terms of conscious thought. I sat in on an intimate seminar with Pribram in which he explained in most careful detail how the brain is no mere reflector of the external world, but how its structure almost creates the forms and patterns that we see, selecting them from an immeasurable spectrum of vibrations as the hands of a harpist pluck chords and melodies from a spectrum of strings. For Karl Pribram is working on the most delicate epistemological puzzle: how the brain evokes a world which is simultaneously the world which it is in, and to wonder, therefore, whether the brain evokes the brain.(4) Put it in metaphysical terms, psychological terms, physical terms, or neurological terms: it is always the same. How can we know what we know without knowing knowing?
This question must be answered, if it can ever be answered, before it can make any sense at all to say that reality is material, mental, electrical, spiritual, a fact, a dream, or anything else. But always, in contemplating this conundrum, a peculiar feeling comes over me, as if I couldn’t remember my own name which is right on the tip of my tongue. It really does make one wonder if, after all . . . if . . .
Anyhow, at the end of these ten years I have the impression that the psychiatric world has opened up to the possibility that there are more things in heaven and earth than were dreamed of in its philosophy. Orthodox psychoanalysis has appeared more and more to be a religious cult and institutional psychiatry a system of brainwashing. The field is giving way to movements and techniques increasingly free from the tacit metaphysics of nineteenth-century mechanism: Humanistic Psychology, Transpersonal Psychology, Gestalt Therapy, Transactional Psychology, Encounter Therapy, Psychosynthesis (Assagioli), Bioenergetics (Reich), and a dozen more interesting approaches with awkward names.
Historians and social commentators will try to discover from any autobiographer how much he has influenced the movements of his time and how much they have influenced him. I can say only that as I get older I get back into that strange childlike feeling of not being able to draw any certain line between the world and my own action upon it, and I wonder if this is also felt by people who have never been in the public eye or had any claim to influence. A very ordinary person might have the impression that there are millions of himself, and that all of them, as one, are doing just what it is in humanity—that is, in himself —to do. In this way he could perhaps feel more important than someone who has taken a particular view and followed a lonely path.
Part of the problem is that the closer I get to present time, the harder it is to see things in perspective. The events of twenty, thirty, and forty years ago are clearer in my mind, and seem almost closer in time than what has happened quite recently— in years that seem fantastically and excitingly crowded with people and happenings. I feel that I must wait another ten years to find out just what I was doing, in the field of psychotherapy, with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert, Fritz Perls and Ronald Laing, Margaret Rioch and Anthony Sutich, Bernard Aaronson and Stanley Krippner, Michael Murphy and John Lilly; in theology with Bishops James Pike and John A. T. Robinson, Dom Aelred Graham and Huston Smith; and in the formation of the mystical counterculture with Lama Anagarika Govinda and Shunryu Suzuki, Allen Ginsberg and Theodore Roszak, Bernard Gunther and Gia-fu Feng, Ralph Metzner and Claudio Naranjo, Norman 0. Brown and Nancy Wilson Ross, Lama Chogyam Trungpa and Ch’ung-liang Huang, Douglas Harding and G. Spencer Brown, Richard Weaver and Robert Shapiro— to mention only a few of the names and faces gathering out of the recent past to tell me that I have hardly begun this story.


1 Several years later he was killed in an automobile accident on his way to Ajijic in Mexico, where he had made his home. And so went into obscurity a most extraordinary and brilliant man, who wrote a book that no one would publish (his Harvard Ph.D. dissertation) on history as a subjective illusion, based on the conflicting views of modern critics of the New Testament. He was both a scholar and an artist in life from whose conversation and criticism of my work I profited greatly. However, his liberal views were too much both for Reed College and for Claremont, where he was refused preferment and tenure—unless, as he was once told, he would settle down and marry a nice Episcopalian girl. (back)
2 “The Individual as Man-World,” The Psychedelic Review, Vol. 1, No. 1, (Cambridge, Mass.: June 1963).
3 Motivation and Personality (New York Harper & Row, Publishers, 1954), pp. 291-92.
4 see his Languages of the Brain, (Englewood Cliffs, NJ Prentice-Hall, 1971).

Web Mash Up Weirdness…. Take one Danish Band (Tommy Seebach Band), in the 70′s performing a lame disco version of ‘Apache”, mix with Prodigy’s ‘Slap My Bitch’ and mayhem ensues …


Poetry: W.B. Yeats


All the heavy days are over;

Leave the body’s coloured pride

Underneath the grass and clover,

With the feet laid side by side.

One with her are mirth and duty;

Bear the gold-embroidered dress,

For she needs not her sad beauty,

To the scented oaken press.

Hers the kiss of Mother Mary,

The long hair is on her face;

Still she goes with footsteps wary

Full of earth’s old timid grace.

With white feet of angels seven

Her white feet go glimmering;

And above the deep of heaven,

Flame on flame, and wing on wing.

Do you not hear me calling, white deer with no horns?

I have been changed to a hound with one red ear;

I have been in the Path of Stones and the Wood of Thorns,

For somebody hid hatred and hope and desire and fear

Under my feet that they follow you night and day.

A man with a hazel wand came without sound;

He changed me suddenly; I was looking another way;

And now my calling is but the calling of a hound;

And Time and Birth and Change are hurrying by.

I would that the Boar without bristles had come from the West

And had rooted the sun and moon and stars out of the sky

And lay in the darkness, grunting, and turning to his rest.

Why should I blame her that she filled my days

With misery, or that she would of late

Have taught to ignorant men most violent ways,

Or hurled the little streets upon the great,

Had they but courage equal to desire?

What could have made her peaceful with a mind

That nobleness made simple as a fire,

With beauty like a tightened bow, a kind

That is not natural in an age like this,

Being high and solitary and most stern?

Why, what could she have done, being what she is?

Was there another Troy for her to burn?

These are the clouds about the fallen sun,

The majesty that shuts his burning eye:

The weak lay hand on what the strong has done,

Till that be tumbled that was lifted high

And discord follow upon unison,

And all things at one common level lie.

And therefore, friend, if your great race were run

And these things came, so much the more thereby

Have you made greatness your companion,

Although it be for children that you sigh:

These are the clouds about the fallen sun,

The majesty that shuts his burning eye.