Infinite Horizons

Chrysanthemums of Autumn beautiful color

Autumn chrysanthemums of beautiful color,

With dew in my clothes I pluck these flowers.

I float within wine to forget my sorrow,

To leave far behind thoughts of the world.

Alone, I pour myself a goblet of wine;

When the cup is empty, the pot pours for itself.

As the sun sets, all activities cease;

Homing birds, they hurry to the woods singing.

Haughtily, I whistle below the eastern balcony

I’ve found again the meaning of life.


Unsettled, a bird lost from the flock

Unsettled, a bird lost from the flock

Keeps flying by itself in the dusk.

Back and forth, it has no resting place,

Night after night, more anguished its cries.

Its shrill sound yearns for the pure and distant

Coming from afar, how anxiously it flutters!

It chances to find a pine tree growing all apart;

Folding its wings, it has come home at last.

In the gusty wind there is no dense growth;

This canopy alone does not decay.

Having found a perch to roost on,

In a thousand years it will not depart. – Tao Qian –

These two poems are being displayed on the Poetry Post…

Late Sunday: Finally finished our big project, working now on art and Turfing, hopefully Mary and I (and Sophie) might be doing a bit of the Walk-About soon with the Land Cruiser. Leaves are now dropping like crazy here, really it is so very beautiful. I used to love living in the Southlands with the two seasons that the California coast provides, but living in the North, Fall especially has become something very dear.

As the season intensifies the leaves drop, the colours explode, the rain comes in on the wind, and the air glistens. Life quickens and I feel my mortality quite keenly in the Autumn. Is the season made a bit sweeter because of this knowledge? At one time I never even thought of it. Sometimes now, it crowds the mind. Life, seems so swift as you are carried along and then, what occurs? I watch the quickening of the generations; driving yesterday through the falling leaves, I saw children playing who 10 years ago did not exist. There were people walking around 10 years ago on the same streets, who now have ceased to be.

It is as if we were droplets within waves of the vast ocean of consciousness and life. We winkle into existence and winkle out; rising and falling in chaos and pattern. Does our shared consciousness partake in the vastness of the now? Surely it is is part of the great tides of the eternal? Do we rise and fall together in this vast sea of life, until we merge into the infinite horizons that embrace time and space?

Within the great wheel of the year, mysteries are revealed, and as it changes once more maybe even concealed… 80)

Bright Blessings,



On The Menu:

Tao Qian Poems

God Is An Astronaut – Infinite Horizons

The World As Emptiness (part 1 of 3) – Alan Watts

Power Spot: The Beauty of Bibi Hayati’s Poetic Verse

God is an Astronaut – Coda

Coda:Tao Qian Poems


God Is An Astronaut – Infinite Horizons


The World As Emptiness (part 1 of 3)

by Alan Watts (or, How the Dharma Bum Spent His Easter Vacation transcribing)

This particular weekend seminar is devoted to Buddhism, and it should be said first that there is a sense in which Buddhism is Hinduism, stripped for export. Last week, when I discussed Hinduism, I discussed many things to do with the organization of Hindu society, because Hinduism is not merely what we call a religion, it’s a whole culture. It’s a legal system, it’s a social system, it’s a system of etiquette, and it includes everything. It includes housing, it includes food, it includes art. Because the Hindus and many other ancient peoples do not make, as we do, a division between religion and everything else. Religion is not a department of life; it is something that enters into the whole of it. But you see, when a religion and a culture are inseperable, it’s very difficult to export a culture, because it comes into conflict with the established traditions, manners, and customs of other people.

So the question arises, what are the essentials of Hinduism that could be exported? And when you answer that, approximately you’ll get Buddhism. As I explained, the essential of Hinduism, the real, deep root, isn’t any kind of doctrine, it isn’t really any special kind of discipline, although of course disciplines are involved. The center of Hinduism is an experience called maksha[?], liberation, in which, through the dissipation of the illusion that each man and each woman is a separate thing in a world consisting of nothing but a collection of separate things, you discover that you are, in a way, on one level an illusion, but on another level, you are what they call ‘the self,’ the one self, which is all that there is. The universe is the game of the self, which plays hide and seek forever and ever. When it plays ‘hide,’ it plays it so well, hides so cleverly, that it pretends to be all of us, and all things whatsoever, and we don’t know it because it’s playing ‘hide.’ But when it plays ‘seek,’ it enters onto a path of yoga, and through following this path it wakes up, and the scales fall from one’s eyes.

Now, in just the same way, the center of Buddhism, the only really important thing about Buddhism is the experience which they call ‘awakening.’ Buddha is a title, and not a proper name. It comes from a Sanskrit root, ‘bheudh,’ and that sometimes means ‘to know,’ but better, ‘waking.’ And so you get from this root ‘bodhih.’ That is the state of being awakened. And so ‘buddha,’ ‘the awakened one,’ ‘the awakened person.’ And so there can of course in Buddhist ideas, be very many buddhas. The person called THE buddha is only one of myriads. Because they, like the Hindus, are quite sure that our world is only one among billions, and that buddhas come and go in all the worlds. But sometimes, you see, there comes into the world what you might call a ‘big buddha.’ A very important one. And such a one is said to have been Guatama, the son of a prince living in northern India, in a part of the world we now call Nepal, living shortly after 600 BC. All dates in Indian history are vague, and so I never try to get you to remember any precise date, like 564, which some people think it was, but I give you a vague date–just after 600 BC is probably right.

Most of you, I’m sure, know the story of his life. Is there anyone who doesn’t, I mean roughly? Ok. So I won’t bother too much with that. But the point is, that when, in India, a man was called a buddha, or THE buddha, this is a title of a very exalted nature. It is first of all necessary for a buddha to be human. He can’t be any other kind of being, whether in the Hindu scale of beings he’s above the human state or below it. He is superior to all gods, because according to Indian ideas, gods or angels–angels are probably a better name for them than gods–all those exalted beings are still in the wheel of becoming, still in the chains of karma–that is action that requires more action to complete it, and goes on requiring the need for more action. They’re still, according to popular ideas, going ’round the wheel from life after life after life after life, because they still have the thirst for existence, or to put it in a Hindu way: in them, the self is still playing the game of not being itself.

But the buddha’s doctrine, based on his own experience of awakening, which occured after seven years of attempts to study with the various yogis of the time, all of whom used the method of extreme asceticism, fasting, doing all sort of exercises, lying on beds of nails, sleeping on broken rocks, any kind of thing to break down egocentricity, to become unselfish, to become detached, to exterminate desire for life. But buddha found that all that was futile; that was not The Way. And one day he broke is ascetic discipline and accepted a bowl of some kind of milk soup from a girl who was looking after cattle. And suddenly in this tremendous relaxation, he went and sat down under a tree, and the burden lifted. He saw, completely, that what he had been doing was on the wrong track. You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear. And no amount of effort will make a person who believes himself to be an ego be really unselfish. So long as you think, and feel, that you are a someone contained in your bag of skin, and that’s all, there is no way whatsoever of your behaving unselfishly. Oh yes, you can imitate unselfishness. You can go through all sorts of highly refined forms of selfishness, but you’re still tied to the wheel of becoming by the golden chains of your good deeds, as the obviously bad people are tied to it by the iron chains of their misbehaviors.

So, you know how people are when they get spiritually proud. They belong to some kind of a church group, or an occult group, and say ‘Of course we’re the ones who have the right teaching. We’re the in-group, we’re the elect, and everyone else outside.’ It is really off the track. But then comes along someone who one-ups THEM, by saying ‘Well, in our circles, we’re very tolerant. We accept all religions and all ways as leading to The One.’ But what they’re doing is they’re playing the game called ‘We’re More Tolerant Than You Are.’ And in this way the egocentric being is always in his own trap.

So buddha saw that all his yoga exercises and ascetic disciplines had just been ways of trying to get himself out of the trap in order to save his own skin, in order to find peace for himself. And he realized that that is an impossible thing to do, because the motivation ruins the project. He found out, then, see, that there was no trap to get out of except himself. Trap and trapped are one, and when you understand that, there isn’t any trap left. [Dharma Bum’s note: this made me think of a bit from an Anglican hymn: ‘We, by enemies distrest,/They in paradise at rest;/We the captives, they the freed,/We and they are one indeed.’] I’m going to explain that of course more carefully.

So, as a result of this experience, he formulated what is called the dharma, that is the Sanskrit word for ‘method.’ You will get a certain confusion when you read books on Buddhism, because they switch between Sanskrit and Pali words. The earliest Buddhist scriptures that we know of are written the Pali language, and Pali is a softened form of Sanskrit. So that, for example, the doctrine of the buddha is called in Sanskrit the ‘dharma,’ we must in pronouncing Sanskrit be aware that an ‘A’ is almost pronounced as we pronounce ‘U’ in the word ‘but.’ So they don’t say ‘darmuh,’ they say ‘durmuh.’ And so also this double ‘D’ you say ‘budduh’ and so on. But in Pali, and in many books of Buddhism, you’ll find the Buddhist doctrine described as the ‘dhama.’ And so the same way ‘karma’ in Sanskrit, in Pali becomes ‘kama.’ ‘Buddha’ remains the same. The dharma, then, is the method.

Now, the method of Buddhism, and this is absolutely important to remember, is dialectic. That is to say, it doesn’t teach a doctrine. You cannot anywhere what Buddhism teaches, as you can find out what Christianity or Judaism or Islam teaches. Because all Buddhism is a discourse, and what most people suppose to be its teachings are only the opening stages of the dialog.

So the concern of the buddha as a young man–the problem he wanted to solve–was the problem of human suffering. And so he formulated his teaching in a very easy way to remember. All those Buddhist scriptures are full of what you might call mnemonic tricks, sort of numbering things in such a way that they’re easy to remember. And so he summed up his teaching in what are called the Four Noble Truths. And the first one, because it was his main concern, was the truth about duhkha. Duhkha, ‘suffering, pain, frustration, chronic dis-ease.’ It is the opposite of sukha, which means ‘sweet, pleasure, etc.’

So, insofar as the problem posed in Buddhism is duhkha, ‘I don’t want to suffer, and I want to find someone or something that can cure me of suffering.’ That’s the problem. Now if there’s a person who solves the problem, a buddha, people come to him and say ‘Master, how do we get out of this problem?’ So what he does is to propose certain things to them. First of all, he points out that with duhkha go two other things. These are respectively called anitya and anatman. Anitya means–’nitya’ means ‘permanant,’ so ‘impermanance.’ Flux, change, is characteristic of everything whatsoever. There isn’t anything at all in the whole world, in the material world, in the psychic world, in the spiritual world, there is nothing you can catch hold of and hang on to for safely. Nuttin’. Not only is there nothing you can hang on to, but by the teaching of anatman, there is no you to hang on to it. In other words, all clinging to life is an illusory hand grasping at smoke. If you can get that into your head and see that that is so, nobody needs to tell you that you ought not to grasp. Because you see, you can’t.

See, Buddhism is not essentially moralistic. The moralist is the person who tells people that they ought to be unselfish, when they still feel like egos, and his efforts are always and invariably futile. Because what happens is he simply sweeps the dust under the carpet, and it all comes back again somehow. But in this case, it involves a complete realization that this is the case. So that’s what the teacher puts across to begin with.

The next thing that comes up, the second of the noble truths, is about the cause of suffering, and this in Sanskrit is called trishna. Trishna is related to our word ‘thirst.’ It’s very often translated ‘desire.’ That will do. Better, perhaps, is ‘craving, clinging, grasping,’ or even, to use our modern psychological word, ‘blocking.’ When, for example, somebody is blocked, and dithers and hesitates, and doesn’t know what to do, he is in the strictest Buddhist sense attached, he’s stuck. But a buddha can’t be stuck, he cannot be phased. He always flows, just as water always flows, even if you dam it, the water just keeps on getting higher and higher and higher until it flows over the dam. It’s unstoppable.

Now, buddha said, then, duhkha comes from trishna. You all suffer because you cling to the world, and you don’t recognize that the world is anitya and anatman. So then, try, if you can, not to grasp. Well, do you see that that immediately poses a problem? Because the student who has started off this dialog with the buddha then makes various efforts to give up desire. Upon which he very rapidly discovers that he is desiring not to desire, and he takes that back to the teacher, who says ‘Well, well, well.’ He said, ‘Of course. You are desiring not to desire, and that’s of course excessive. All I want you to do is to give up desiring as much as you can. Don’t want to go beyond the point of which you’re capable.’ And for this reason Buddhism is called the Middle Way. Not only is it the middle way between the extremes of ascetic discipline and pleasure seeking, but it’s also the middle way in a very subtle sense. Don’t desire to give up more desire than you can. And if you find that a problem, don’t desire to be successful in giving up more desire than you can. You see what’s happening? Every time he’s returned to the middle way, he’s moved out of an extreme situation.

Now then, we’ll go on; we’ll cut out what happens in the pursuit of that method until a little later. The next truth in the list is concerned with the nature of release from duhkha. And so number three is nirvana. Nirvana is the goal of Buddhism; it’s the state of liberation corresponding to what the Hindus call moksha. The word means ‘blow out,’ and it comes from the root ‘nir vritti.’ Now some people think that what it means is blowing out the flame of desire. I don’t believe this. I believe that it means ‘breathe out,’ rather than ‘blow out,’ because if you try to hold your breath, and in Indian thought, breath–prana–is the life principle. If you try to hold on to life, you lose it. You can’t hold your breath and stay alive; it becomes extremely uncomfortable to hold onto your breath.

And so in exactly the same way, it becomes extremely uncomfortable to spend all your time holding on to your life. What the devil is the point of surviving, going on living, when it’s a drag? But you see, that’s what people do. They spend enormous efforts on maintaining a certain standard of living, which is a great deal of trouble. You know, you get a nice house in the suburbs, and the first thing you do is you plant a lawn. You’ve gotta get out and mow the damn thing all the time, and you buy expensive this-that and soon you’re all involved in mortgages, and instead of being able to walk out into the garden and enjoy, you sit at your desk and look at your books, filling out this and that and the other and paying bills and answering letters. What a lot of rot! But you see, that is holding onto life. So, translated into colloquial American, nirvana is ‘whew!’ ‘Cause if you let your breath go, it’ll come back. So nirvana is not annihilation, it’s not disappearance into a sort of undifferentiated void. Nirvana is the state of being let go. It is a state of consciousness, and a state of–you might call it– being, here and now in this life.

We now come to the most complicated of all, number four: margha[?]. ‘Margh’ in Sanskrit means ‘past,’ and the buddha taught an eightfold path for the realization of nirvana. This always reminds me of a story about Dr Suzuki, who is a very, very great Buddhist scholar. Many years ago, he was giving a fundamental lecture on Buddhism at the University of Hawaii, and he’d been going through these four truths, and he said ‘Ah, fourth Noble Truth is Noble Eightfold Path. First step of Noble Eightfold Path called sho-ken. Sho-ken in Japanese mean `right view.’ For Buddhism, fundamentally, is right view. Right way of viewing this world. Second step of Noble Eightfold Path is–oh, I forget second step, you look it up in the book.’

Well, I’m going to do rather the same thing. What is important is this: the eightfold path has really got three divisions in it. The first are concerned with understanding, the second division is concerned with conduct, and the third division is concerned with meditation. And every step in the path is preceded with the Sanskrit word samyak. In which you remember we ran into samadhi last week, ‘sam’ is the key word. And so, the first step, samyak- drishti, which mean–’drishti’ means a view, a way of looking at things, a vision, an attitude, something like that. But this word samyak is in ordinary texts on Buddhism almost invariably translated ‘right.’ This is a very bad translation. The word IS used in certain contexts in Sanskrit to mean ‘right, correct,’ but it has other and wider meanings. ‘Sam’ means, like our word ‘sum,’ which is derived from it, ‘complete, total, all-embracing.’ It also has the meaning of ‘middle wade,’ representing as it were the fulcrum, the center, the point of balance in a totality. Middle wade way of looking at things. Middle wade way of understanding the dharma. Middle wade way of speech, of conduct, of livelihood, and so on.

Now this is particularly cogent when it comes to Buddhist ideas of behavior. Every Buddhist in all the world, practically, as a layman–he’s not a monk–undertakes what are called pantasila[?], the Five Good Conducts. ‘Sila’ is sometimes translated ‘precept.’ But it’s not a precept because it’s not a commandment. When Buddhists priests chant the precepts, you know: pranatipada[?]: ‘prana (life) tipada (taking away) I promise to abstain from.’ So the first is that one undertakes not to destroy life. Second, not to take what is not given. Third–this is usually translated ‘not to commit adultry’. It doesn’t say anything of the kind. In Sanskrit, it means ‘I undertake the precept to abstain from exploiting my passions.’ Buddhism has no doctrine about adultry; you may have as many wives as you like.

But the point is this: when you’re feeling blue and bored, it’s not a good idea to have a drink, because you may become dependant on alcohol whenever you feel unhappy. So in the same way, when you’re feeling blue and bored, it’s not a good idea to say ‘Let’s go out and get some chicks.’ That’s exploiting the passions. But it’s not exploiting the passions, you see, when drinking, say expresses the viviality and friendship of the group sitting around the dinner table, or when sex expresses the spontaneous delight of two people in each other.

Then, the fourth precept, musavada[?], ‘to abstain from false speech.’ It doesn’t simply mean lying. It means abusing people. It means using speech in a phony way, like saying ‘all niggers are thus and so.’ Or ‘the attitude of America to this situation is thus and thus.’ See, that’s phony kind of talking. Anybody who studies general semantics will be helped in avoiding musavada, false speech.

The final precept is a very complicated one, and nobody’s quite sure exactly what it means. It mentions three kinds of drugs and drinks: sura, mariya[?], maja[?]. We don’t know what they are. But at any rate, it’s generally classed as narcotics and liquors. Now, there are two ways of translating this precept. One says to abstain from narcotics and liquors; the other liberal translation favored by the great scholar Dr [?] is ‘I abstain from being intoxicated by these things.’ So if you drink and don’t get intoxicated, it’s ok. You don’t have to be a teatotaler to be a Buddhist. This is especially true in Japan and China; my goodness, how they throw it down! A scholarly Chinese once said to me, ‘You know, before you start meditating, just have a couple martinis, because it increases your progress by about six months.’

Now you see these are, as I say, they are not commandments, they are vows. Buddhism has in it no idea of there being a moral law laid down by somekind of cosmic lawgiver. The reason why these precepts are undertaken is not for a sentimental reason. It is not that you’re going to make you into a good person. It is that for anybody interested in the experiments necessary for liberation, these ways of life are expedient. First of all, if you go around killing, you’re going to make enemies, and you’re going to have to spend a lot of time defending yourself, which will distract you from your yoga. If you go around stealing, likewise, you’re going to aquire a heap of stuff, and again, you’re going to make enemies. If you exploit your passions, you’re going to get a big thrill, but it doesn’t last. When you begin to get older, you realize ‘Well that was fun while we had it, but I haven’t really learned very much from it, and now what?’ Same with speech. Nothing is more confusing to the mind than taking words too seriously. We’ve seen so many examples of that. And finally, to get intoxicated or narcotized–a narcotic is anything like alcohol or opium which makes you sleepy. The word ‘narcosis’ in Greek, ‘narc’ means ‘sleep.’ So, if you want to pass your life seeing things through a dim haze, this is not exactly awakening.

So, so much for the conduct side of Buddhism. We come then to the final parts of the eightfold path. There are two concluding steps, which are called samyak-smriti and samyak-samadhi. Smriti means ‘recollection, memory, present-mindedness.’ Seems rather funny that the same word can mean ‘recollection or memory’ and ‘present-mindedness.’ But smriti is exactly what that wonderful old rascal Gurdjieff meant by ‘self-awareness,’ or ‘self- remembering.’ Smriti is to have complete presence of mind.

There is a wonderful meditation called ‘The House that Jack Built Meditation,’ at least that’s what I call it, that the Southern Buddhists practice. He walks, and he says to himself, ‘There is the lifting of the foot.’ The next thing he says is ‘There is a perception of the lifting of the foot.’ And the next, he says ‘There is a tendency towards the perception of the feeling of the lifting of the foot.’ Then finally he says, ‘There is a consciousness of the tendency of the perception of the feeling of the lifting of the foot.’ And so, with everything that he does, he knows that he does it. He is self-aware. This is tricky. Of course, it’s not easy to do. But as you practice this–I’m going to let the cat out of the bag, which I suppose I shouldn’t do–but you will find that there are so many things to be aware of at any given moment in what you’re doing, that at best you only ever pick out one or two of them. That’s the first thing you’ll find out. Ordinary conscious awareness is seeing the world with blinkers on. As we say, you can think of only one thing at a time. That’s because ordinary consciousness is narrowed consciousness. It’s being narrow-minded in the true sense of the word, looking at things that way. Then you find out in the course of going around being aware all of the time–what are you doing when you remember? Or when you think about the future? ‘I am aware that I am remembering’? ‘I am aware that I am thinking about the future’?

But you see, what eventually happens is that you discover that there isn’t any way of being absent-minded. All thoughts are in the present and of the present. And when you discover that, you approach samadhi. Samadhi is the complete state, the fulfilled state of mind. And you will find many, many different ideas among the sects of Buddhists and Hindus as to what samadhi is. Some people call it a trance, some people call it a state of consciousness without anything in it, knowing with no object of knowledge. All these are varying opinions. I had a friend who was a Zen master, and he used to talk about samadhi, and he said a very fine example of samadhi is a fine horserider. When you watch a good cowboy, he is one being with the horse. So an excellent driver in a car makes the car his own body, and he absolutely is with it. So also a fine pair of dancers. They don’t have to shove each other to get one to do what the other wants him to do. They have a way of understanding each other, of moving together as if they were siamese twins. That’s samadhi, on the physical, ordinary, everyday level. The samadhi of which buddha speaks is the state which, as it is, the gateway to nirvana, the state in which the illusion of the ego as a separate thing disintegrates.

Now, when we get to that point in Buddhism, Buddhists do a funny thing, which is going to occupy our attention for a good deal of this seminar. They don’t fall down and worship. They don’t really have any name for what it is that is, really and basically. The idea of anatman, of non-self, is applied in Buddhism not only to the individual ego, but also to the notion that there is a self of the universe, a kind of impersonal or personal god, and so it is generally supposed that Buddhism is generally atheistic. It’s true, depending on what you mean by atheism. Common or garden atheism is a form of belief, namely that I believe there is no god–and Hans Enkel[?] is its prophet. (I’m speaking of a famous atheist). The atheist positively denies the existence of any god. All right. Now, there is such an atheist, if you put dash between the ‘a’ and ‘theist,’ or speak about something called ‘atheos’–’theos’ in Greek means ‘god’–but what is a non-god? A non-god is an inconceivable something or other.

I love the story about a debate in the Houses of Parliment in England, where, as you know, the Church of England is established and under control of the government, and the high eclesiastics had petitioned Parliment to let them have a new prayerbook. Somebody got up and said ‘It’s perfectly ridiculous that Parliment should decide on this, because as we well know, there are quite a number of atheists in these benches.’ And somebody got up and said ‘Oh, I don’t think there are really any atheists. We all believe in some sort of something somewhere.’

Now again, of course, it isn’t that Buddhism believes in some sort of something somewhere, and that is to say in vagueness. Here is the point: if you believe, if you have certain propositions that you want to assert about the ultimate reality, or what Portilli[?] calls ‘the ultimate ground of being,’ you are talking nonsense. Because you can’t say something specific about everything. You see, supposing you wanted to say ‘God has a shape.’ But if god is all that there is, then God doesn’t have any outside, so he can’t have a shape. You have to have an outside and space outside it to have a shape. So that’s why the Hebrews, too, are against people making images of God. But nonetheless, Jews and Christians persistently make images of God, not necessarily in pictures and statues, but they make images in their minds. And those are much more insidious images.

Buddhism is not saying that the Self, the great atman, or whatnot, it isn’t denying that the experience which corresponds to these words is realizable. What it is saying is that if you make conceptions and doctrines about these things, your liable to become attached to them. You’re liable to start believing instead of knowing. So they say in Zen Buddhism, ‘The doctrine of Buddhism is a finger pointing at the moon. Do not mistake the finger for the moon.’ Or so we might say in the West, the idea of God is a finger pointing at God, but what most people do is instead of following the finger, they suck it for comfort. And so buddha chopped off the finger, and undermined all metaphysical beliefs. There are many, many dialogues in the Pali scriptures where people try to corner the buddha into a metaphysical position. ‘Is the world eternal?’ The buddha says nothing. ‘Is the world not eternal?’ And he answers nuttin’. ‘Is the world both eternal and not eternal?’ And he don’t say nuttin’. ‘Is the world neither eternal nor not eternal?’ And STILL he don’t say nuttin’. He maintains what is called the noble silence. Sometimes called the thunder of silence, because this silence, this metaphysical silence, is not a void. It is very powerful. This silence is the open window through which you can see not concepts, not ideas, not beliefs, but the very goods. But if you say what it is that you see, you erect an image and an idol, and you misdirect people. It’s better to destroy people’s beliefs than to give them beliefs. I know it hurts, but it is The Way.


Power Spot: The Beauty of Bibi Hayati’s Poetic Verse

Is it the night of power

Is it the night of power

Or only your hair?

Is it dawn

Or your face?

In the songbook of beauty

Is it a deathless first line

Or only a fragment

copied from your inky eyebrow?

Is it boxwood of the orchard

Or cypress of the rose garden?

The tuba tree of paradise, abundant with dates,

Or your standing beautifully straight?

Is it musk of a Chinese deer

Or scent of delicate rosewater?

The rose breathing in the wind

Or your perfume?

Is it scorching lightning

Or light from fire on Sana’i Mountain?

My hot sigh

Or your inner radiance?

Is it Mongolian musk

Or pure ambergris?

Is it your hyacinth curls

Or your braids?

Is it a glass of red wine at dawn

Or white magic?

Your drunken narcissus eye

Or your spell?

Is it the Garden of Eden

Or heaven on earth?

A mosque of the masters of the heart

Or a back alley?

Everyone faces a mosque of adobe and mud

When they pray.

The mosque of Hayati’s soul

Turns to your face.

How can I see the splendor of the moon

If his face shines over my heart,

Flaming like the sun?

The Turks in his eyes charge through my soul,

While untrue curling hair

Defeats faith.

Yet if he lifted the veil from his face,

The world would be undone,

The universe astounded.

He walks through the garden

With grace, erect,

His exquisite posture mocking even the straight cypresses.

He charges, riding his gnostic horse

Into the holy space of divinity,

The sacred sphere.

Tonight the Saki with its red-stained ruby lips

Pours wine for the luxury of every drunk,

And sates every reveler’s taste.

As Hayati has drunk his ecstasy,

Her soul now satisfied by the wine of his pure heart,

How can she drink any other nectar?

Before there was a hint of civilization

I carried a memory of your loose strand of hair,

Oblivious, I carried inside me your pointed tip of hair.

In its invisible realm,

Your face of sun yearned for epiphany,

Until each distinct thing was thrown into sight.

From the first instant time took a breath,

Your love lay in the soul,

A treasure in the secret chest in the heart.

Before the first seed shot up out of the rose bed of the possible,

The soul’s lark took wing high above your meadow,

Flying home to you.

I thank you one hundred times! In the altar

Of Hayati’s eyes, your face shines

Forever present and beautiful.


God is an Astronaut – Coda


Success And failure? No Known Address

Success and failure? No known address.

This or that goes on, depending on the other.

And who can say

if Milord Shao was happier

ruling a city, or sacked, his excellent melon patch?

Hot, cold, summer, winter: don’t they alternate?

May not a man’s way wander on just so?

Yes, those who “get there” know their opportunities…

have learned to untie the knots of knowledge.

But was it the notable or the notorious that our Sage spoke of?

The latter he called opportunists.

Those who get there, doubtless, know doubt nor care no more. Yet, doubt you not,

nor do dead generals,

who plotted carefully at what seemed opportune,

knowing naught, right or wrong.

If, of a sudden,

you’re offered fine wine,

let the sun sink.

Enjoying it.

Reading the Classic of Hills and Seas

In the summer: grass and trees have grown.

Over my roof the branches meet.

Birds settle in the leaves.

I enjoy this humble place.

Ploughing’s done, the ground is sown,

Time to sit and read a book.

The narrow deeply-rutted lane

Means my friends forget to call.

Content, I pour the new Spring wine,

Go out and gather food I’ve grown.

A light rain from the East,

Blows in on a pleasant breeze.

I read the story of King Mu,

See pictures of the Hills and Seas.

One glance finds all of heaven and earth.

What pleasures can compare with these? – Tao Qian –

The Dancing Of Dreams

I live my life in growing rings

which move out over the things around me.

Perhaps I’ll never complete the last,

but that’s what I mean to try.

I’m circling around God, around the ancient tower,

and I’ve been circling thousands years;

and I still don’t know: am I a falcon, a storm

or a great song. – Rilke


The Dancing Of Dreams:

I have been having Fall dreams, of course it being Fall and all. Deep dreams, down ancient pathways of the ol’ soul. I am in process, like we all are. These processes may not be measurable, but they certainly are there. Oft times I feel upon waking that I have been in a deep, deep dialog with beings far wiser than I can hope to be. Sometimes on waking I imagine that my life is easily illustrated by Plato’s Cave Analogy. 80) Surely, I could do better, but is it our nature to constantly discover what one has held as a constant or a truth to be flowing, and ultimately unknowable? Perhaps not.

Take as an example: Love, is a constant, or can be. By its nature it should expand, and not contract. This of course has been through my experiences of that state. Does everyone experience this? Do I read it correctly, or is this a projection? Does it help me maneuver through the daily to perceive it so?

Where are we going, and what are we to do with the time that the Fates have allotted us? Do we sit in the Cave looking at the shadows playing on the wall?

The Fall dreams all dance around these thoughts… What can I do to help others, does the Bodhisattva reincarnate in one form or many simultaneously, are we individuals, truly alone or individuations, perfect expressions of a greater whole? Are my dreams moving with your dreams, are we going together, and yet alone?

An inquiring mind wants to know.

Bright Blessings,



On The Menu:

Steve Wilson – Harmony Korine

Oscar Wilde Quotes

Witchcraft Exoneration

The Poetry Of Robert Graves

Steve Wilson – Insurgentes

Art: Warwick Goble

Warwick Goble: (1862 – 1943) was a Victorian illustrator of children’s books. He was educated and trained at the City of London School and the Westminster School of Art. He specialized in fairy tales, and exotic scenes from Japan, India, and Arabia. He illustrated H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds – among his first published illustrations, soon to be followed by a suite for The Book of Baal. He also provided illustrations for magazines, including Pearson’s Magazine, illustrating a number of early science-fiction stories, including several by Frederick Merrick White.


Steve Wilson – Harmony Korine


Oscar Wilde Quotes:

“Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.”

“At twilight, nature is not without loveliness, though perhaps its chief use is to illustrate quotations from the poets.”

“Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”

“Genius is born–not paid.”

“Illusion is the first of all pleasures.”



Witchcraft Exoneration

New campaigns seek posthumous pardons for victims of the witch mania

By Bob Rickard

A question in The Times a couple of years ago ran: “Was anyone ever executed for witchcraft posthumously pardoned?”. Although the witch persecut­ions at Salem, Massachusetts, between 1692 and 1693 are widely held as an example of the injustice done to innocent persons by a panicked commun­ity, the fact that a great many of those wrongfully accused of witchcraft – including all those executed and excommun­icated – have since been exonerated ought to be better known. In 1706, Ann Putnam, one of the prime accusers, publicly begged for forgiveness. In 1711, a bill was passed by the state General Court reversing the attainders (declarations of the loss of rights and property of those sent­enced to death) of 22 of those executed. In the centuries that followed, relatives and social reformers campaigned for the exoneration of the remainder with varying success until, as recently as October 2001, the Governor of Massachusetts formally declared them all innocent (FT149:22; 155:14).

Responding to The Times’s question, Joyce Froome of the Witchcraft Museum in Boscastle pointed out that in 1938, Eunice Cole, wrongfully imprisoned in 1656 for 14 years, was pard­oned by the New Hampshire town of Hampton; and Grace Sherwood, of Pungo, Virginia, who was imprisoned for seven years after surviving a river ducking in 1706, was pardoned by the Virginia Governor in 2006, the 300th anniversary of her convict­ion. In 2004, in Scotland’s East Lothian, added Ms Froome, the current incumbent of the heredit­ary baronial court of Prestoungrange and Dolphinstoun (Dr Gordon Prestoungrange) exercised his legal authority to pardon the 81 witches “and their cats” executed in the area between 1590 and 1679. Shortly afterwards, in 2004, baronial courts were stripped of their remaining powers.

In January 2008, a group called Full Moon Investigat­ions petitioned the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood for a posthumous pardon for the (estim­ated) 4,000 “men, women and children prosecuted, tort­ured and usually executed for witchcraft” in Scotland since 1661. The last witch burned at the stake there was Janet Horne, in Sutherland, in 1722. Full Moon founder Andrea Byrne said a retrospective pardon was relevant today as many occupations such as herbalists, acupuncturists, midwives, reiki teachers and health food sellers “would have been classed as witches in those days”.

Included in the Full Moon list was a pardon for Helen Duncan, who in 1944 was convicted at the Old Bailey under the 1735 Witchcraft Act. Apparently, the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to pardon Mrs Duncan as she was convicted in an English court, but the plan is to urge MSPs to lobby the Home Secretary for a full pardon. The wartime government took an interest in her séances when it was claimed that the spirit of a dead seaman from HMS Barham spoke through her to his mother, who did not know he was dead. At the time (1943), the sinking of the Barham with its loss of around 800 lives had been kept secret (on the pretext that it would undermine public morale) and the British intelli­gence services were eager to ‘plug the leak’. Mrs Duncan was found guilty of fraud under the Act and was sentenced to nine months’ imprisonment. She died in 1956; the Act itself was replaced in 1951 by the Fraudul­ent Mediums Act (Full story in FT116:40).

Despite rallying Scottish MPs and Salem scholars to their cause, the campaign has provoked a frosty response from senior legal figures. Lord Montcreiff of Kinross didn’t mince his words in calling for the appeal to be rejected. He denied that she had been “branded a witch” by the court, saying she was “tried for earning money through fraudulent means”. He said the evidence showed Mrs Duncan had made the equivalent of today’s £3,000 in less than a week from bereaved relatives, proof that “she preyed on the vulnerable”. His outrage went further: “If the parliament accepts this petition, they must also accept that Helen Duncan was genuinely able to commun­icate with the spirit world. That would be a great step back.” Her defenders are resolute in their belief that she was ‘silenced’ because she had revealed sens­itive war secrets.

Similarly, the historian Prof. Martyn Bennett, in a letter to the Independent, objects to a blanket pardon because many of the accused were indeed practising frauds of various kinds. Agnes Sampson, for example, (one of the North Berwick witches executed in 1591), was “actually involved in murder, attempted murder and perhaps attempted regicide”. This latter being a reference to the sudden storm the accused were said to have summoned to sink a ship carrying James VI (later also James I of England) in 1590. As Sampson and her fellows confessed under torture, we wonder how the professor can be so certain of the reliability of the evidence – and how that proves it fraudulent.

Meanwhile, the long movement to exonerate Anna Goeldi – thought to have been the last witch to be executed in Europe – achieved some success in June 2008, when the regional government of Glarus in Switzerland determined that she had been the victim of “judicial murder” in 1782. Working as a maid, she had an affair with her employer who then, it seems, enlisted powerful friends to get rid of her when she threatened to expose him as an adulterer. Accused of attempting to poison her employer, she was tried by a Protestant Church Council who not only had no jurisdiction but also ignored the fact that there was no mandatory death sentence for non-fatal poisoning. She was condemned after she confessed to witchcraft and publicly beheaded in the town of Mollis. The detailed records of her trial and prolonged torture are publicly available in the local museum. However, this pardon has yet to be fully ratified by the Swiss parliament.

Inspired by the Swiss result, yet another campaign – – launched into action. Headed by Angels, a costume retailer, and John Callow, author of Witchcraft and Magic in the 16th and 17th Centuries (2001), they want nothing less than a blanket Royal pardon for all those persecuted.

At the time of writing, we were unable to ascertain the progress of these pardon campaigns.


Salem: Times, 2 Mar 2007. E.Lothian: Helen Duncan & Scottish witches: D.Mail, 14 May 2007; Guardian, Courier & Advertiser, Edinburgh Eve. News, Sun, 7 Jan; Guardian, 13 Jan; BBC News, 28 Feb; D.Telegraph, Independent, 29 Feb; D.Mail, Independent (Letters), 1 Mar; The Australian, D.Telegraph (Letters), Scotsman, D.Express, 3 Mar 2008. Goeldi: Gulf News, 7 Feb; S.Telegraph, 1 July; Independent, 2 Aug; Times, 7 Nov; Bloomberg, 8 Nov 2007; D.Telegraph, 12 June 2008.


The Poetry Of Robert Graves

The White Goddess

All saints revile her, and all sober men

Ruled by the God Apollo’s golden mean –

In scorn of which we sailed to find her

In distant regions likeliest to hold her

Whom we desired above all things to know,

Sister of the mirage and echo.

It was a virtue not to stay,

To go our headstrong and heroic way

Seeking her out at the volcano’s head,

Among pack ice, or where the track had faded

Beyond the cavern of the seven sleepers:

Whose broad high brow was white as any leper’s,

Whose eyes were blue, with rowan-berry lips,

With hair curled honey-coloured to white hips.

The sap of Spring in the young wood a-stir

Will celebrate with green the Mother,

And every song-bird shout awhile for her;

But we are gifted, even in November

Rawest of seasons, with so huge a sense

Of her nakedly worn magnificence

We forget cruelty and past betrayal,

Heedless of where the next bright bolt may fall.

Through Nightmare

Never be disenchanted of

That place you sometimes dream yourself into,

Lying at large remove beyond all dream,

Or those you find there, though but seldom

In their company seated –

The untameable, the live, the gentle.

Have you not known them? Whom? They carry

Time looped so river-wise about their house

There’s no way in by history’s road

To name or number them.

In your sleepy eyes I read the journey

Of which disjointedly you tell; which stirs

My loving admiration, that you should travel

Through nightmare to a lost and moated land,

Who are timorous by nature.

Posted a while back on the Poetry Post…

Return of the Goddess

Under your Milky Way

And slow-revolving Bear

Frogs from the alder thicket pray

In terror of your judgment day,

Loud with repentance there.

The log they crowned as king

Grew sodden, lurched and sank;

An owl floats by on silent wing

Dark water bubbles from the spring;

They invoke you from each bank.

At dawn you shall appear,

A gaunt red-legged crane,

You whom they know too well for fear,

Lunging your beak down like a spear

To fetch them home again.






Bitter Thoughts on Receiving a Slice of Cordelia’s Wedding-Cake

Why have such scores of lovely, gifted girls

Married impossible men?

Simple self-sacrifice may be ruled out,

And missionary endeavour, nine times out of ten.

Repeat “impossible men”: not merely rustic,

Foul-tempered or depraved

(Dramatic foils chosen to show the world

How well women behave, and always have behaved).

Impossible men: idle, illiterate,

Self-pitying, dirty, sly,

For whose appearance even in City parks

Excuses must be made to casual passers-by.

Has God’s supply of tolerable husbands

Fallen, in fact, so low?

Or do I always over-value woman

At the expense of man?


Steve Wilson – Insurgentes


I am too alone in the world, and yet not alone enough

to make every hour holy.

I am too small in the world, and yet not tiny enough

just to stand before you like a thing,

dark and shrewd.

I want my will, and I want to be with my will

as it moves towards deed;

and in those quiet, somehow hesitating times,

when something is approaching,

I want to be with those who are wise

or else alone.

I want always to be a mirror that reflects your whole being,

and never to be too blind or too old

to hold your heavy, swaying image.

I want to unfold.

Nowhere do I want to remain folded,

because where I am bent and folded, there I am lie.

And I want my meaning

true for you. I want to describe myself

like a painting that I studied

closely for a long, long time,

like a word I finally understood,

like the pitcher of water I use every day ,

like the face of my mother,

like a ship

that carried me

through the deadliest storm of all. – Rilke

A Week To Remember…

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed of slaves.—William Pitt


Those who know don’t talk.

Those who talk don’t know.

Close your mouth,

block off your senses,

blunt your sharpness,

untie your knots,

soften your glare,

settle your dust.

This is the primal identity.

Be like the Tao.

It can’t be approached or withdrawn from,

benefited or harmed,

honored or brought into disgrace.

It gives itself up continually.

That is why it endures.

-Tao Te Ching


Dear Friends,

Well, I have some 8 Turfing post stacking up. The last few weeks have been extremely hectic and all, so I have let things slide. So… there will be a flood over the next few days…

This edition starts out with some personal stuff, and musings. I will not add to the volume of this post, except to say that it has truly been a week in the life of.

I hope you enjoy this installment!




On The Menu:

In Celebration of 31 Years…

Mural Liberation! October 9th

The Links

Ibn Ata’llah Quotes

Ebba Forsberg – True Love – Daybreak

The Disciples at Saïs: A Sacred Theory of Earth

The Poetry Of Sappho

Ebba Forsberg – Committed


In Celebration of 31 Years…

(click the pic!)

Here we are, 31 years ago at the Chelsea-Kensington Registry office, with Phil Davies, and Roger Kennedy in the background. We were surrounded by our dear friends from Buggins & The Green Room Wine Bar (the restaurant and wine bar where we worked off and on) Stiff Records, and roommates. (Our friend Ley took the photo, and shared it with us yesterday, the 16th which was our anniversary. Ley and Mary were roommates and workmates for many a year in London. We are very happy to be in touch with Ley again after all these years!)

Our friend John Gunn took this photo last night over at our friends Barb & Paul Rizzo’s house. We went over for dinner, to share some champagne and catch up with friends coming into town etc… Pretty amazing what 31 years can work on a person, and a couple. As Mary pointed out last night, that the winds of time has rounded me off a bit… 80). She is as lovely today as she was when we took that step together all those years ago. Am I sentimental? Of course. The Gods and Fates have been kind to us!


Mural Liberation! October 9th:

(all photos: Terry Carnahan)

(click the pic!)

Well, October 9th rolled around, and what was a long process over 3 administrations in Portland City Hall finally came to fruition; we finally were able to take the covering off of the Mirador mural. Lynn Hanrahan (co-owner of Mirador with her husband Steve) started off the process after we got the go ahead from the Portland authorities.

A few weeks previously, we had a community meeting that informed the public we were going to uncover the mural if the community approved. A few people showed up, but the vibe in the South East has been one of frustration over the mural being covered all these years. There has been tons of gestures of solidarity regarding the mural. I was frequently asked when all would be cleared up… for years, I was at a loss. But… there was the movement of the Portland Muralist, Joe Cotter, Mark Meltzer, Joanne Oleksiak, who engaged with the forces of the local city gov’t time and again, until – until the dam broke. and break it did.Now, I consider that this whole mural business is more than what appears on the surface, it is a world in miniature to a greater struggle taking place across the fields of consciousness at least in the Western World; what we have seen for years is the hemming in of the artistic commons, which IMPOV is actually part and partial to “The Commons”… there has been a long and concerted effort to fracture community(ies) at the service of financial & gov’t entities. Now I could carry on in this manner for quite a bit, but I will leave it at this; Here is a small victory for artist and community alike, and we should take heart in what has been achieved by a lot of effort of good folks. My hat is off to Lynn & Steve Hanrahan of Mirador Community Store, and to the Portland Muralist Defense group, and to all who wrote in to the Portland city gov’t, and who lent their support over the years.

This has been a tremendous weight, and point of frustration for me artistically. It was the largest piece that I had done (at that time), and as an artist, seeing it covered was quite the opposite of what I wanted for it. Well, I can let it go now, and happily so.

So if you are on Divison St. in the South East of Portland, pull over, and take a look. Every picture tells a story, and not all of them in what is being portrayed in the art that you can see. It is time we moved on, oh yes indeed. Here is to the future, with new projects, new walls to paint, and hopefully to a more colourful Portland with murals in every neighborhood telling the stories, reflecting the dreams and aspirations of all of our communities. Public Art is one way of reclaiming the Commons, and directing the dialog away from the corporate high-jacking of our streets, visually and spiritually. Shall we?


The Links:

God Is Not The Creator…

Two Year Old With IQ Of Einstein…

Arthur Ray Tweeting Away…

Ancient Herbal Remedy For HayFever


Ibn Ata’llah Quotes:

If you make intense supplication

and the timing of the answer is delayed,

do not despair of it.

His reply to you is guaranteed;

but in the way He chooses,

not the way you choose,

and at the moment He desires,

not the moment you desire.

Actions are merely propped-up shapes.

Their life-breath is the presence of the secret of sincerity in them.

A feeling of discouragement when you slip up

is a sure sign that you put your faith in deeds.

Aspiration which rushes on ahead

cannot break through the walls of destiny.

One of the signs of relying on one’s own deeds is the loss of hope when a downfall occurs.


Ebba Forsberg – True Love – Daybreak


Please purchase the book: Green Hermeticism from whence this article came from. You will not be disappointed! – Gwyllm

The Disciples at Saïs: A Sacred Theory of Earth

Peter Lamborn Wilson

This article is excerpted from Green Hermeticism: Alchemy and Ecology by Peter Lamborn Wilson, Christopher Bamford, and Kevin Townley, with an introduction by Zia Inayat-Khan.

Lindisfarne books (

Nature loves to hide (Becoming is a secret process). – Heraclitus (Guy Davenport Translation)

The sciences must all be made poetic. – Novalis [1]

If God can become man, he can also become element, stone, plant, animal. Perhaps there is a continual Redemption in nature. – Novalis

If the world is a tree, we are the blossoms. – Novalis [2]

Santos-Dumont, the Parisian-Brazilian aviation pioneer and inventor of the airplane, during a sojourn in his native land in 1934, saw federalist planes dropping bombs on rebel troops. He hanged himself later that day. His last words, as reported by an elevator operator: “I never thought that my inven­tion would cause bloodshed between brothers. What have I done?” [3]

For historians to say that A leads inevitably to Z – for example, that German Romanticism leads inevitably to Reaction, or that Marx leads directly to Stalin – is to mistake the bitter wisdom of hindsight for a principle of fatality. Such determinism also insults all revolutionary resistance with the implicit charge of stupid futil­ity: – Since the real Totality is always perfectly inevitable, its ene­mies are always idiots. Global Capital was inevitable and now it’s here to stay-ergo the entire movement of the Social amounts to sheer waste of time and energy. The ruination of nature was fated, hence all resistance is futile, whether by ignorant savages or per­verse eco‑terrorists. Nothing’s worth doing except that which is done: there can be no “different world.”

The “Ruination of Nature”

For Christianity nature is fallen, locus of sin and death, while heaven is a city of crystal and metal. For Capital nature is a resource, a pit of raw materials, a form of property. As nature begins to “disappear” in the late eighteenth century, it comes to seem more and more ruined. For some perhaps a Romantic, even a magical ruin (as in the dreams of Renaissance magi and their “love of ruins,” grottos, the broken and “grotesque”) – but by others felt simply as useless waste, a wrecked place where no one lives except monsters, vagabonds, animals: the uncanny haunt of ghouls and owls. “Second Nature” meaning culture, or even “Third Nature” meaning Allah knows what precisely, have usurped and erased all wilderness. [4] What remains but mere representation?–a nostalgia for lost Edens, Arcadias and Golden Ages?–a ludicrous sentimen­tality disguised as what? – as a sacred theory of earth?

The view of Nature as Ruin depends in part (or half‑consciously) on the concept of a Cartesian ergo sum alone in a universe where everything else is dead matter and “animals have no soul,” mere meat machines. But if the human body remains part of nature or in nature, then even a consistent materialist would have to admit that nature is not quite yet dead.

Science, taking over the mythic task of religion, strives to “free” consciousness from all mortal taint. Soon we’ll be posthuman enough for cloning, total prosthesis, machinic immortality. But somehow a shred of nature may remain, a plague perhaps, or the great global “accident,” blind Nature’s revenge, meteors from outer space, etc. – “you know the score,” as William Burroughs used to say.

Taking the long view (and allowing for noble exceptions) sci­ence does precisely what State and Capital demand of it:-make war, make money. “Pure” science is allowed only because it might lead to technologies of death and profit-and this was just as true for the old alchemists who mutated into Isaac Newton, as for the new physicists who ripped open the structure of matter itself. Even medicine (seemingly the most altruistic of sciences) advances and progresses primarily in order to increase productivity of workers and generate a world of healthy consumers.

Does Capital make death ultimately more profitable than life? No, not exactly, although it might seem so to a citizen of Bhopal/ Love Canal/Chernobyl. In effect it might be said that profit equals death, in the sense of Randolph Bourne’s quip about war as the health of the state (which incidentally means that “Green Capital­ism” is an abject contradiction in terms).

Another science might have been possible. Indeed if we reject the notion of fatality, another science might yet come to be. A new paradigm is always conceivable, and theories now considered defeated, lost, wrong, and absurd, might even (someday) be recon­figured into a paradigmatic pattern, a science for life rather than death. Signs of emergence of such a science are always present–because science itself wants to deal with truth, and life is true and real. But the emergence is always-in the long run-crushed and suppressed by the “inevitable” demands of technology and Capital. It’s our tragic fate to know and yet be unable to act.

Among those who do act, the scientists and warriors, many believe (for the most part sincerely) that they’re serving progress and democracy. In their secret hearts perhaps some of them know they serve Death, but they do it anyway because they’re nihilists, cynically greedy for big budgets and Nobel prizes. A few fanatics actually hate the body, hate Earth, hate trees-and serve as shills for politicians and corporations. In general most people find all this normal. Only a few awake – but are blocked from action.

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries a sort of three-way scientific paradigm war was waged in England and Europe. The contenders were, first: Cartesianism – which denied action at a dis­tance and tried to explain gravity by a corpuscular theory that reduced the universe to a clock-like mechanism set in motion by “God”; second, Hermeticism, the ancient science of the micro/mac­rocosm, which believed firmly in action at a distance but failed to explain gravity – and (even worse) failed to achieve the transmuta­tion of lead into gold, which would at least have secured for it the enthusiastic support of State and capital; and, third, the school of Francis Bacon and Isaac Newton, culminating in the Royal Soci­ety – and the Industrial Revolution.

This scheme is vastly oversimplified of course. The actual his­tory of “the triumph of modern science” is far more complex than the usual triumphalist version. We now know for example that some of the very founders of modern science were closet her­meticists. Bacon’s New Atlantis exhibits strong Rosicrucian tenden­cies. Erasmus Darwin, Boyle, Priestly, Benjamin Franklin, and most notoriously, Isaac Newton, all immersed themselves in occult stud­ies. Newton devoted millions of words to alchemy but never pub­lished a single one of them. William Blake, who skewered Newton’s dead, “Urizenic” rationalism, had no idea that Newton was an alchemist. I’ve always suspected that Newton simply stole the idea of gravity as action at a distance (an invisible force) from Hermeti­cism. Amazingly, the math worked. The Royal Society suppressed its own hermetic origins and (especially after 1688) adhered to the new bourgeois monarchy, emergent capitalism, and Enlightenment rationalism. The spooky nature of Newtonian gravity still bothers some scientists, who persist in looking for corpuscular “gravitons.” But the Newtonians won the paradigm war and “Newton’s Sleep” (as Blake called it) still dims the eyes with which we perceive and experience reality, despite the new spookiness of relativity and quantum paradoxes.

Admittedly this historical sketch is very rough, and offered with some trepidation. The whole story of the paradigm war remains quite murky, in part because a great deal of research is still being written from a History of Science p.o.v. deeply infected with tri­umphalism. True, it’s no longer fashionable to sneer at the alche­mists or write as if everyone in the Past were stupid. But alchemy and hermeticism in general are still viewed in the light of modern science as failed precursors. The central hermetic doctrine of the “ensouled universe” receives no credence or even sympathy in aca­demia-and very little grant money goes to magicians.

Therefore I offer only a tentative hypothesis. It appears that both the Cartesians and the Newtonians happily agreed in their eagerness to discard and deride the central thesis of the hermetic paradigm, the idea of the living Earth. Descartes envisioned only “dead matter,” Newton used the concept of invisible but material forces; and their followers turned their backs on any “sacred the­ory of earth,” banishing not only God from their clockwork oranges but even life itself. As Novalis put it, under the hands of these scientists “friendly nature died, leaving behind only dead, quivering remnants.” These loveless scientists see nature as sick or even dead, and their search for truth leads only to “her sickroom, her charnel‑house.” [5]

Goethe, too, attacked the kind of science that bases itself on death-the butterfly pinned under glass or dissected rather than the butterfly living and moving. In his great work on the morphol­ogy of plants he founded a new branch of botany. Or rather, per­haps not quite “new.” Brilliant as it was, it had predecessors. In some sense it was in fact based on hermeticism and especially on Paracelsus, the great sixteenth century alchemist.[6] German adher­ents of Naturphilosophie, and such independent thinkers as Goethe, or indeed Novalis (who was a trained scientist and professional mining engineer), might really be seen as “neo” hermeticists, steeped in Paracelsus, Jakob Boehme, and the Rosicrucian litera­ture. We might call this whole complex or weltanschauung, “Romantic Science.”

Erasmus Darwin (grandfather of Charles), a member of the Royal Society, doctor and inventor, comrade of Watt, Priestly and Wedge­wood, wrote a strange epic poem based on the work of the Swedish botanist Linnaeus, in which the sex-life of the plants was expressed in hermetic terms deriving from Paracelsus, who wrote so beauti­fully of the “Elemental Spirits” of Earth, Air, Fire and Water: the gnomes, sylphs, salamanders and undines.7 Darwin’s marvelous Botanic Garden influenced P. B. Shelley (who also admired Darwin’s political radicalism); thus Dr. Darwin could be considered a precur­sor of English Romanticism but also of Surrealism and the ecology movement. His poem has all the marks of the complex I’ve called neo-hermeticism or Romantic Science. It was published in England almost at the very time Novalis in Germany was writing his frag­mentary “novel” The Disciples at Saïs, a neglected masterpiece of her­metic-Romantic science-theory (much admired by the Surrealists). Like The Botanic Garden, it is long out of print (at least in English).[8]

Early German Romanticism in general can be “read” as neo-her­meticism. Novalis, Tieck, Wackenroder, and Schlegel, as well as J. G. Haman, “the Magus of the North,” have been vilified as “enemies of the Enlightenment,” [9] but one might prefer to see them rather as nineteenth century proponents of a seventeenth century “Rosicru­cian Enlightenment” (as Frances Yates called it), now stripped of its medieval clumsiness: – a rectified hermeticism, refined by practical experience and dialectical precision. Hermeticism did not stop “evolving” with the failure of the Rosicrucian project. Romantic sci­ence was a direct continuation of it; and hermeticism has its scien­tific defenders even today (such as the well-known chaos scientist Ralph Abraham, a devotee of Dr. John Dee).

During the Second World War certain philosophers of both Capitalism and Communism decided to blame fascism on the Ger­man Romantic movement and its “final” theorist F. Nietzsche. Rationalism was defined as good and surrationalism as evil. Ecolo­gists even today are often tarred with the brush of “irrationalism,” especially when they’re activists. A local real estate developer here in the Catskill Mountains of New York State recently called his envi­ronmentalist enemies, a group called “Save the Ridge,” “Nazis” in an interview with The New Paltz Times. Everything that Capital wants is “rational” by definition and even by decree. Capital wins all the wars; ergo, Rationalism is “true,” q.e.d.

But modern radicals such as the Frankfurt School (Benjamin, Bloch, Marcuse), the Surrealists, the Situationists, all decided to try to seize back Romanticism from the dustbin of History and to champion the surrealist and even hermetic program of left-wing anti‑Enlightenment, anti-authoritarian and ecological resistance that a recent book has called Revolutionary Romanticism. [10]

I believe that today’s ecological resistance cannot afford to ignore its own sources in a vain attempt to reconcile itself with the Totality and scientific apotheosis of Global Capital. Romantic Science is literally a sine qua non for the resistance to ecological disintegration. I would like to argue the case (tho’ I’d be hard-put to prove it) that the “new” scientific paradigm we’re looking for to replace the dead-matter/material-force scientific world view of Enlightenment/State/Capital, can best be found in the perennial but underground tradition of hermetic-Romantic science. Something very much like a manifesto for this movement can still be gleaned from the Disciples at Saïs by Novalis, a.k.a. Count Friedrich von Hardenberg.

An archetypal Romantic like Keats and Rimbaud, Novalis was born in a haunted house and died young and handsome on March 25, 1801, aged 29. Only the last three years of his life were seri­ously devoted to literature. In 1794 he met a twelve-year-old girl named Sophie von Kühn and fell in love with her; she died in 1797, as did the poet’s beloved younger brother, aged fourteen. Both these ghosts haunted the rest of his life and work. In The Disci­ples they appear as the sophianic heroine Rosenblüte (“Rose-petal,” probably a Rosicrucian reference), and the blue‑eyed boy who inspires the disciples. This child has all-blue eyes like star sapphires, with no white or iris-an image that relates him to the famous symbol of the Imagination in Novalis’s only completed novel, Hein­rich von Ofterdingen: the elusive “blue flower” that became the emblem of German Romanticism.

The Disciples remained fragmentary, in part because the Roman­tics believed in fragments; Novalis called the text “fragments… all of them having reference to nature,” although he’d hoped to expand it some day into a “symbolic novel.” He worked on it while composing his best-known poems, Hymns to Night. The story’s set­ting, the Temple of Isis at Saïs in Egypt, was doubtless inspired by Plato, who claimed that Solon of Athens learned the history of Atlantis there from the Egyptian priests. This Greco-Egyp­tian-Atlantaean nexus already suggests a precise hermetic inten­tionality, and Novalis makes it quite clear that the disciples at Saïs are to experience not merely an education but an initiation into nature, symbolized by lifting the veil of Isis – simultaneously an act of epistemology and of eroticism.

On the very first pages Novalis evokes hermetic science quite specifically:

“Various are the roads of man. He who follows and compares them will see strange figures emerge, figures which seem to belong to that great cipher which we discern written everywhere, in wings, eggshells, clouds and snow, in crystals and in stone formations, on ice‑covered waters, on the inside and outside of mountains, of plants, beasts and men, in the lights of heaven, on scored disks of pitch or glass or in iron filings round a magnet, and in strange con­junctures of chance. In them we suspect a key to the magic writing, even a grammar, but our surmise takes on no definite forms and seems unwilling to become a higher key. It is as though an alkahest had been poured over the senses of man.” (4-5)

The “scored discs of pitch or glass” probably refer to the Chladni Diagrams, patterns formed in resin or sand by sound, much admired by the Romantics. [11] “Alkahest” means universal solvent; the term was coined by the alchemist Paracelsus. The alkahest dissolves our vision, blurs it, renders it dreamlike. James Hillman once proposed that it doesn’t matter much whether we remember our dreams or do anything about them, because the work that goes on in dreams hap­pens regardless of us. Might this be true of nature as well?

The “great cipher” (in the sense of “code”) and “magic writing” suggest the occult interpretation of the Egyptian hieroglyphs, which had fascinated hermeticists since the Renaissance. The whole paragraph thus invites us to read everything that follows as up‑dated Rosicrucian hermeticism.

On the subject of the hieroglyphs, Novalis later says this:

“They (the disciples) had been lured above all by that sacred lan­guage that had been the glittering bond between those kingly men and the inhabitants of the regions above the earth, and some pre­cious words of which, according to countless legends, were known to a few fortunate sages among our ancestors. Their speech was a wondrous song, its irresistible tones penetrated deep into the inwardness of nature and split it apart. Each of their names seemed to be the key to the soul of each thing in nature. With creative power these vibrations called forth all images of the world’s phe­nomena, and the life of the universe can rightly be said to have been an eternal dialogue of a thousand voices; for in the language of those men all forces, all modes of action seemed miraculously united. To seek out the ruins of this language, or at least all reports concerning it, had been one of the main purposes of their journey, and the call of antiquity had drawn them also to Saïs. Here from the learned clerks of the temple archives, they hoped to obtain important reports, and perhaps even to find indications in the great collections of every kind.” (113-115)

Concerning the Veil of Isis Novalis says: “… and if, according to the inscription, no mortal can lift the veil, we must seek to become immortal; he who does not seek to lift it, is no true nov­ice of Saïs” (17). At first this doctrine may sound promethean- the scientist “conquers” nature and ravishes her secrets–but in truth this is not the Enlightenment speaking here. The transgres­sion, the violation of the paradox (you may not lift the veil but you must), can only be achieved by one who has already tran­scended the all-too-human – the Nietzschean hero who is none other than the hermetic sage.

Like all Romantics, Novalis believed in an earlier or more pri­mordial humanity that lived closer to nature and more in harmony with it, as lovers rather than ravishers. In one sense he means tribal peoples, “savages,” peoples-without-government. But this “anti­quity” also includes historical periods as well, such as that of the Late Classical neo-platonic theurgists, or even the seventeenth cen­tury Rosicrucians, as the following passage suggests:

“To those earlier men, everything seemed human, familiar, and com­panionable, there was freshness and originality in all their percep­tions, each one of their utterances was a true product of nature, their ideas could not help but accord with the world around them and express it faithfully. We can therefore regard the ideas of our forefathers concerning the things of this world as a necessary prod­uct, a self‑portrait of the state of earthly nature at that time, and from these ideas, considered as the most fitting instruments for observing the universe, we can assuredly take the main relation, the relation between the world and its inhabitants. We find that the noblest questions of all first occupied their attention and that they sought the key to the wondrous edifice, sometimes in a common measure of real things, and sometimes in the fancied object of an unknown sense. This key, it is known, was generally divined in the liquid, the vaporous, the shapeless.” (21-23)

“The main relation … between the world and its inhabitants:” – in other words, ecology, the science of Earth’s household oeconomie, the balance of a nature that includes the human: this is the great subject of the little book, rising directly out of Novalis’s hermetic vision of earth as a living being. This rather radical notion does not really derive from Plato and the Platonists (as many scholars carelessly maintain); the Platonists had an almost Gnostic disdain for the mere shadows of material reality. Tribal and shamanic peo­ples almost always adhere to some view of nature as alive, but the idea only re‑enters “civilized” western thought with the Renais­sance magi, especially Giordano Bruno, Marsilio Ficino, and Paracelsus. [12]

For Novalis the true language of science would be poetry:

“That is why poetry has been the favorite instrument of true friends of nature, and the spirit of nature has shone most radiantly in poems. When we read and hear true poems, we feel the movement of nature’s inner reason and like its celestial embodiment, we dwell in it and hover over it at once.” (25)

“To hover over and dwell in” simultaneously: the scientist like the poet cannot objectively separate self from nature in order to study it without also subjectively retaining an existential identity with the “object.” A split here would constitute an ecological disas­ter. In fact self and world must be experienced as reflections of each other, as microcosm and macrocosm. “As Above So Below” as The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus puts it so succinctly.

“Those who would know her spirit truly must therefore seek it in the company of poets, where she is free and pours forth her wondrous heart. But those who do not love her from the bottom of their hearts, who only admire this and that in her and wish to learn this and that about her, must visit her sickroom, her charnel‑house”(27). Within us there lies a mysterious force that tends in all directions, spreading from a center hidden in infinite depths. If wondrous nature, the nature of the senses and the nature that is not of the senses, surrounds us, we believe this force to be an attraction of nature, an effect of our sympathy with her.”


“A few stand calmly in this glorious abode, seeking only to embrace it in its plenitude and enchainment; no detail makes them forget the glittering thread that joins the links in rows to form the holy candelabrum, and they find beatitude in the contemplation of this living ornament hovering over the depths of night. The ways of contemplating nature are innumerable; at one extreme the senti­ment of nature becomes a jocose fancy, a banquet, while at the other it develops into the most devout religion, giving to a whole life direction, principle, meaning.” (29-31)

The image of nature as “holy candelabrum,” contemplated by the rapt adept, seems to derive from a Kabbalistic source, especially the so‑called “Christian Cabala” of Agrippa and the Rosicrucians such as Knorr von Rosenroth.13 The religion of nature here propounded by Novalis strikes me as the single most radical idea of hermetic Romanticism-the same idea that led Bruno to the stake in Rome in 1600. In nineteenth century America Thoreau was the great prophet of the faith, and the paintings of the Hudson River School its icons. In the twentieth century the American Indians re-emerged among the teachers of this path, giving it the sharp focus of shamanic vision. Hermeticism, like shamanism, cannot be defined exactly as a religion, nor exactly as a science. In a sense both religion and science have betrayed us; – and it is precisely in this sense that hermeticism offers us something else, something dif­ferent. Romantic Science is also a spiritual path. Without this pri­mary realization science is nothing but fatality, and religion nothing but a kind of anti-science.

The scientist poet

“never wearies of contemplating nature and conversing with her, fol­lows all her beckonings, finds no journey too arduous if it is she who calls, even should it take him into the dank bowels of the earth: surely he will find ineffable treasures, in the end his candle will come to rest and then who knows into what heavenly mysteries a charming subterranean sprite may initiate him. Surely no one strays farther from the goal than he who imagines that he already knows the strange realm, that he can explain its structure in few words and everywhere find the right path. No one who tears him­self loose and makes himself an island arrives at understanding without pains.” (37)

The “subterranean sprite” refers directly to Paracelsus and the Elemental Spirits again: this is a gnome or kobold, Novalis’s tute­lary (and seductive) Elemental, inhabitant of the deep mines where the poet earned his living.

“Not one of the senses must slumber, and even if not all are equally awake, all must be stimulated and not repressed or neglected.” (37-39)

Here Novalis sounds like Rimbaud; although he speaks of awak­ening the senses rather than deranging them, he hints at the possi­bility of a psychedelic path – or rather an entheogenic path – since the object and subject alike of the awakened senses is a goddess. “Entheogenic” means “giving birth to the divine within.” It’s a new name for the hallucinatory experience of the phantastica; the term is not liked or used by those who require no “divine hypothesis.”

“Ultimately some who deny the divinity of nature will come uncon­sciously to hate that which denies them meaning. “Very well,” say these scientists, let our race carry on a slow, well‑conceived war of annihilation with nature! We must seek to lay her low with insidi­ous poisons. The scientist is a noble hero, who leaps into the open abyss in order to save his fellow citizens.”


“Exploit her strife to bend her to your will, like the fire‑spewing bull. She must be made to serve you.” (43‑45)

To this the Elementals themselves seem to reply: [14]

“‘O, if only man,’ they said, ‘could understand the inner music of nature, if only he had a sense for outward harmonies. But he scarcely knows that we belong together and that none of us can exist without the others. He cannot leave anything in place, tyran­nically he parts us, and plucks at our dissonances. How happy he could be if he treated us amiably and entered into our great cove­nant, as he did in the good old days, rightly so named. In those days he understood us, as we understood him. His desire to Become God has separated him from us, he seeks what he cannot know or divine, and since then he has ceased to be a harmonizing voice, a companion movement.


“‘Will he ever learn to feel? This divine, this most natural of all senses is little known to him: feeling would bring back the old time, the time we yearn for; the element of feeling is an inward light that breaks into stronger, more beautiful colors. Then the stars would rise within him, he would learn to feel the whole world, and his feeling would be richer and clearer than the limits and surfaces that his eye now discloses. Master of an endless dance, he would forget all his insensate strivings in joy everlasting, nourishing itself and forever growing. Thought is only a dream of feeling, a dead feeling, a pale-gray feeble life.’” (69‑73)

Contemporary environmentalists, caught up in the sharpened and swirling debates of what sometimes looks like an End Time, may feel disappointed that Novalis lacks vehemence in his denun­ciation of “evil scientists” (as Hollywood used to call them). But in the 1790s the full implications of Enlightenment science remained largely speculative. Satanic mills were only just beginning to appear, the concept of pollution scarcely existed. Novalis deserves credit for foreseeing so much so clearly–but nobody could have predicted what actually happened. Now speaking in yet another voice, Novalis explains that the epitome of what stirs our feelings is called nature, hence nature stands in an immediate relation to the functions of our body that we call senses.

“Unknown and mysterious relations within our body cause us to surmise unknown and mysterious states in nature; nature is a com­munity of the marvelous, into which we are initiated by our body, and which we learn to know in the measure of our body’s faculties and abilities. The question arises, whether we can learn to under­stand the nature of natures through this specific nature.” (77-79)

This constitutes a perfect summing up of the ancient Romantic doctrine of microcosmic humanity and macrocosmic nature or existence itself.

“‘It seems venturesome,’ said another, ‘to attempt to compose nature from its outward forces and manifestations, to represent it now as a gigantic fire, now as a wonderfully constructed waterfall, now as a duality or a triad, or as some other weird force. More conceivably, it is the product of an inscrutable harmony among infinitely various essences, a miraculous bond with the spirit world, the point at which innumerable worlds touch and are joined.’” (81)

“Everything divine has a history; can it be that nature, the one total­ity by which man can measure himself, should not be bound together in a history, or–and this is the same thing–that it should have no spirit? Nature would not be nature if it had no spirit, it would not be the unique counterpart to mankind, not the indispens­able answer to this mysterious question, or the question to this never‑ending answer.” (85)

The Disciples at Saïs is a “novel” in that it uses a variety of voices–but very few developed characters. The voices seem not to argue so much as play out variations in the author’s mind, thus allowing him a typically Romantic freedom of inconsistency and self‑contradiction. For example it’s not certain that Novalis himself believed that “everything divine has a history;” but he seems to experience or feel the idea as yet another varia­tion on his great theme, the reconciliation of matter and spirit under the sign of nature.

“So inexhaustible is nature’s fantasy, that no one will seek its com­pany in vain. It has power to beautify, animate, confirm, and even though an unconscious, unmeaning mechanism seems to govern the part, the eye that looks deeper discerns a wonderful sympathy with the human heart in concurrences and in the sequence of iso­lated accidents.” [15] (87)

Novalis criticizes even the poets for not “exaggerating nearly enough.” The I-Thou relation between consciousness and nature should lead to magic powers, so to speak, an ability to move nature from within rather than as an alienated outsider.

“In order to understand nature, we must allow nature to be born inwardly in its full sequence. In this undertaking, we must be led entirely by the divine yearning for beings that are like us, we must seek out the conditions under which it is possible to question them, for truly, all nature is intelligible only as an instrument and medium for the communication of rational beings.” (91-3)

(These “rational beings” of course include the Elementals, the personae of nature.)

“The thinking man returns to the original function of his existence, to creative contemplation, to the point, where knowledge and cre­ation were united in a wondrous mutual tie, to that creative moment of true enjoyment, of inward self‑conception. If he immerses himself entirely in the contemplation of this primeval phenomenon, the history of the creation of nature unfolds before him in newly emerging times and spaces like a tale that never ends, and the fixed point that crystallizes in the infinite fluid becomes for him a new revelation of the genius of love, a new bond between the Thou and the I. A meticulous account of this inward universal history is the true theory of nature. The relations within his thought world and its harmony with the universe will give rise to a philosophical system that will be the faithful picture and formula of the universe.” (93)

The “art of pure contemplation” is also a creative metaphysics–that is, an art of the creation of value and meaning–and also “The Art” itself in a spagyric sense, the magical art of transmutation.

“Yes,” says another voice, “nothing is so marvelous as the great simultaneity of nature. Everywhere nature seems wholly present.” This hermetic thought leads on to a contemplation of the con­sciousness of nature as essentially erotic.

“What is the flame that is manifested everywhere? A fervent embrace, whose sweet fruits fall like sensuous dew. Water,

first‑born child of airy fusions, cannot deny its voluptuous origin and reveals itself an element of love, and of its mixture with divine omnipotence on earth. Not without truth have ancient sages sought the origin of things in water, and indeed, they spoke of a water more exalted than sea and well water. A water in which only primal fluidity is manifested, as it is manifested in liquid metal; therefore should men revere it always as divine. How few up to now have immersed themselves in the mysteries of fluidity, and there are some in whose drunken soul this surmise of the highest enjoyment and the highest life has never wakened. In thirst this world soul is revealed, this immense longing for liquefaction. The intoxicated feel only too well the celestial delight of the liquid ele­ment, and ultimately all pleasant sensations are multiform flowings and stirrings of those primeval waters in us.” [16] (103‑105)

“A man born blind cannot learn to see, though you may speak to him forever of colors and lights and distant shapes. No one will fathom nature, who does not, as though spontaneously, recognize and distinguish nature everywhere, who does not with an inborn creative joy, a rich and fervent kinship with all things, mingle with all of nature’s creatures through the medium of feeling, who does not feel his way into them.” (109)

“Happy I call this son, this darling of nature, whom she permits to behold her in her duality, as a power that engenders and bears, and in her unity, as an endless, everlasting marriage. His life will be a plenitude of all pleasures, a voluptuous chain, and his religion will be the real, the true naturalism.” (111)


The Disciples at Saïs is not a finished work. It ends with a passage on the figure of the “prophet of nature” that feels unfinished to me and even unrevised. Some commentators believe that it constitutes a character sketch of Professor Werner of Freyberg, his teacher of mineralogy, and apparently a true Romantic scientist. Undoubtedly Novalis meant to go on, to create a firmer narrative structure, per­haps to add more symbolic märchen like the Tale of Hyacinth and Rose‑petal, perhaps to develop ideas about specific sciences such as mining. But the various and rather disorganized paragraphs of the book serve as aphorisms, complete little thoughts in themselves. Novalis gave up trying to combine his “fragments” with his narra­tive ideas. The latter went into his one complete novel Heinrich von Ofterdingen. The former went into his wonderful Aphorisms or Frag­ments, so admired by Nietzsche and indeed imitated by him in their blending of eighteenth century epigrammatic wit and nine­teenth century ambiguity and Romantic fervor.

A complete exploration of Novalis as a conscious hermeticist and Romantic scientist would require a much longer work than this, in which for example a chapter would be devoted to the influ­ence of Paracelsus, and also of the great Rosicrucian novel The Chy­mical Wedding of Christian Rosycross. Further chapters would compare ideas in The Disciples with parallel thoughts in Novalis’s other works, his notebooks and letters, etc.–and then with the scientific ideas of his contemporaries such as Von Humbolt, Goethe, and the Naturphilosophie school.

Nevertheless The Disciples at Saïs by itself appears to provide a clear and concise summation–indeed a manifesto–for what we might now call eco‑spirituality. If Novalis were writing today, two centuries later, no doubt he would have a great deal more to say about science as alienation, about the horrors of the industrial and “post‑industrial” assault on nature, about pollution as the material manifestation of bad consciousness. He might be much more pessimistic now, less certain of the return of the Golden Age-that perennial goal of radical hermeticism and Rosicrucianism.

In 1968 German radicals like their French and American and Mexican counterparts re‑discovered revolutionary Romanticism and seized back the blue flower of Novalis from the forces of reac­tion. “All power to the Imagination.” Despite all vicissitudes and set‑backs since the 1960s this paradigm is still emerging. It’s exem­plified in the almost‑mystical ideas of certain quantum philoso­phers, chaos and complexity scientists and proponents of the Gaia Hypothesis: the idea that matter and consciousness are inter‑con­nected–that the Earth is a living being–that science is an erotic relation. It persists in the ideas and actions of those few “defenders of the earth” brave enough to defy the greed/death/media-trance of the Totality and challenge the institutionalization of body-hatred, misery and boredom that constitutes our Imperium and drives our pollution of all time and space.

In the realm of science ideas can really be considered actions–and in this strange identity science retains an ancient and occult link with the magical hermetic tradition. But only a science freed from slavery to money and war (Capital and State) can ever hope to empower the ideas that would act as Novalis hoped his ideas would act: to save the world from the dark forces of Enlightenment, from “the cruel instrumentality of Reason”–not to fall into the opposite sin of irrational reaction-but to transcend all false dualities in a true “wedding,” both alchemical and erotic, between consciousness and nature. That was the goal of the disciples, the lifting of the veil of Isis, the initiation into a lost language. If that still remains our goal today, does this prove that in 200 years we have been defeated?-or that we have not yet experienced the true dream of the sacred theory of earth that points the way to victory?


1. Letter to A. W. Schiegel (IV, 229 in N’s German Complete Works).

2. The other two Novalis quotes are from the “Notebook,” translated by Thomas Frick in Frick and Richard Grossinger, eds., The Sacred Theory of the Earth (Berkeley: North Atlanic Books, 1986). Throughout this essay I will use the translation of The Novices of Saïs by Ralph Manheim (though I prefer the use of “Disciples” rather than “Novices”), in the 1949 edition published by Curt Valentin in New York, with a rather useless preface by Stephen Spender, and sixty exquisite drawings by Paul Klee. I can’t think of a more appropriate illustrator-unless perhaps Joseph Beuys. See also C. V. Becker and R. Manstetter, “Novalis’ Thought on Nature, Humankind and Economy: A New Perspective for Discussing Modern Environmental Problems,” available on line from

3. Paul Hoffman, Wings of Madness: Alberto Santos‑Dumont and the Invention of Flight (Hyperion, 2003); I saw the anecdote in a review.

4. In the lexicon of the US Parks Services, “wilderness” is defined as the areas most strictly controlled and regulated-a perversion of language possible only to a government bureaucracy.

5. Novalis, The Disciples at Saïs. See below.

6. A.k.a. Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, the most original thinker in alchemy since Jabir ibn Hayyan; died 1541 in Saltzberg.

7. Darwin’s direct source was undoubtedly Pope’s “Rape of the Lock,” also based on Paracelsus via a strange little book called Le Comte de Gabalis, a treatise on the Elementals.

8. My copy of Darwin’s great poem, with illustrations by Fuseli and William Blake, is a facsimile of the 1791 edition, by Scholar Press (London, 1973). Incidentally, Novalis was a reader of Darwin and refers to him as an authority in Flower Pollen (see The Disciples at Saïs and Other Fragments, translated by F.V.M.T. and U.C.B., with an introduction by Una Birch [later Pope‑Henessy]; London: Methuen, 1903). Novalis’s beloved dead brother was named Erasmus. [later note: Thanks indirectly to our conference in New Paltz, a new edition of the Manheim translation of The Novices of Saïs, with the Klee illustrations, is now available from Archipelago Books of Brooklyn, NY (2005)]

9. By the Rationalist philosopher Isaiah Berlin, whose useful but polemical interpretation utterly fails to consider hermetic roots.

10. Max Blechman, ed., Revolutionary Romanticism (San Francisco: City Lights, 2000). See also Michael Lowy and Robert Sayre, Romanticism Against the Tide of Modernity (Durham: Duke University Press, 2001). Thanks to Joel Kovel for this reference.

11. E. E. F. Chladni (1756‑1827) also invented a musical instrument called the euphonium.

12. The earliest version I’ve found is from Bishop Nicholas of Cusa (died 1464), who held that the Earth is a living “star,” worthy of respect and even adulation. Needless to say Cusanus was accused of pantheism, and was greatly admired by the hermeticists.

13. “So-called” but not very accurately. Cornelius Agrippa was scarcely an apologist for any Christian orthodoxy. “Hermetic Cabala” might be a more precise term.

14. This speech is attributed by Novalis to certain of the novices, but strangely they speak of “man” as of an other. Such sentiments are attributed to the Elementals by Paracelsus. Perhaps some of the disciples at Saïs are Elementals!

15. Among other things this passage could serve almost as a definition of Surrealism, especially in its hermetic phases, those that reveal it most clearly as a stage of the Romantic movement.

16. This passage reflects the seventeenth century scientific hypothesis of “Neptunism,” now discredited but very popular with the Romantics.

An earlier version of this article was presented at a conference on “Sacred Theory of Earth” held at the Old French Church in New Paltz, New York, September 21, 2003. My thanks to all participants for their critiques and comments-Pir Zia Inayat-Khan, Rachel Pollack, Lady Vervaine, Robert Kelly, Bishop Mark Aelred, and especially David Levi Strauss, who responded to my paper and later gave me more quotes and references. Thanks also to Joel Kovel, Lorraine Perlman, Raymond Foye, Kate Manheim. Julia Man­heim, for permission to use Ralph Manheim’s translation of Saïs, Bruce McPherson, Jack Collom, Christopher Bamford, Jim Fleming, Zoe Matoff, and the Huguenot Historical Society of New Paltz. An earlier version of this paper appeared in the journal Capitalism Nature Socialism.


The Poetry Of Sappho

‘Love shook my heart’

Love shook my heart,

Like the wind on the mountain

Troubling the oak-trees.


‘He’s equal with the Gods, that man’

He’s equal with the Gods, that man

Who sits across from you,

Face to face, close enough, to sip

Your voice’s sweetness,

And what excites my mind,

Your laughter, glittering. So,

When I see you, for a moment,

My voice goes,

My tongue freezes. Fire,

Delicate fire, in the flesh.

Blind, stunned, the sound

Of thunder, in my ears.

Shivering with sweat, cold

Tremors over the skin,

I turn the colour of dead grass,

And I’m an inch from dying.

‘But you, O Dika, wreathe lovely garlands in your hair,’

But you, O Dika, wreathe lovely garlands in your hair,

Weave shoots of dill together, with slender hands,

For the Graces prefer those who are wearing flowers,

And turn away from those who go uncrowned.

And On The Poetry Post Today….

Ode To A Loved One

Blest as the immortal gods is he,

The youth who fondly sits by thee,

And hears and sees thee, all the while,

Softly speaks and sweetly smile.

‘Twas this deprived my soul of rest,

And raised such tumults in my breast;

For, while I gazed, in transport tossed,

My breath was gone, my voice was lost;

My bosom glowed; the subtle flame

Ran quick through all my vital frame;

O’er my dim eyes a darkness hung;

My ears with hollow murmurs rung;

In dewy damps my limbs were chilled;

My blood with gentle horrors thrilled:

My feeble pulse forgot to play;

I fainted, sunk, and died away.

Be Here, By Me

Be here, by me,

Lady Hera, I pray

Who answered the Atreides,

Glorious kings.

They gained great things

There, and at sea,

And came towards Lesbos,

Their home path barred

Till they called to you, to Zeus

Of suppliants, to Dionysus, Thyone’s

Lovely child: be kind now,

Help me, as you helped them…


Ebba Forsberg – Committed


Mural Liberation…

“Seek on earth what you have found in heaven.” – (A.E.) George William Russell

Can you coax your mind from its wandering

and keep to the original oneness?

Can you let your body become

supple as a newborn child’s?

Can you cleanse your inner vision

until you see nothing but the light?

Can you love people and lead them

without imposing your will?

Can you deal with the most vital matters

by letting events take their course?

Can you step back from you own mind

and thus understand all things?

Giving birth and nourishing,

having without possessing,

acting with no expectations,

leading and not trying to control:

this is the supreme virtue.

-Tao Te Ching

Dear Friends,

A few of my favourite things, A.E. quotes, Some decent links, a dollop of good news about the arts, excellent music, poetry and a bit of faery-tale to go along with. Beautiful Day, in P-Town. The weather is so, so beautiful. Rains late at night, clears up for the morning. The air is cool, the sun is warm. The sky is an incredible blue, with all of the local hummingbirds dancing on the breezes. I hope you enjoy this entry, good news, music, poetry and art. What’s not to like?

Bright Blessings,



On The Menu:

Mural Liberation

The Links

A.E.) George William Russell Quotes

Elbow – Grounds For Divorce

The Story of the Queen of the Flowery Isles

The Poetry of J. M. Synge

Elbow – The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver

Art: Jean DelVille


Mural Liberation!:

Mirador Mural Unveiling!

Friday, October 9th 5:30PM

2106 SE Division St. Portland

Yup, ’tis true. The Mirador Mural is getting uncovered, for good. We won. Speechless really. (What a change!) This is better than a birthday, better than the last day after a terrible grind. A weight has been lifted off of the shoulders of the South East of Portland. My hats off to: Steve & Lynn Hanrahan of Mirador Community Store, Joe Cotter of the Portland Mural Defense Group for all of his hard, patient work, Joanne, oleksiak for her constant organizing, and good humour, Mark Meltzer for his activism, and many others for their support, including all those who wrote Vera Katz from around the world.

Come Join Us For The Unveiling!


The Links:

Beatle’s “Lucy” In The Sky With Diamonds dies…

Psychedelic Transhumanist

Catholic Church Investigates Inexplicable Healing Of A Dying Man…

Witch Bottle Found In Stafford…

Bees Fight Back Against Colony Collapse Disorder: Some Honey Bees Toss Out Varroa Mites!!!


(A.E.) George William Russell Quotes:

“Our hearts were drunk with a beauty Our eyes could never see”

“Forgive me, Spirit of my spirit, for this, that I have found it easier to read the mystery told in tears and understood Thee better in sorrow than in joy.”

“Ah, to think how thin the veil that lies Between the pain of hell and Paradise.”

“Any relations in a social order will endure, if there is infused into them some of that spirit of human sympathy which qualifies life for immortality.”

“We may fight against what is wrong, but if we allow ourselves to hate, that is to insure our spiritual defeat and our likeness to what we hate.”


Elbow – Grounds For Divorce


The Story of the Queen of the Flowery Isles

There once lived a queen who ruled over the Flowery Isles, whose husband, to her extreme grief, died a few years after their marriage. On being left a widow she devoted herself almost entirely to the education of the two charming princesses, her only children. The elder of them was so lovely that as she grew up her mother greatly feared she would excite the jealousy of the Queen of all the Isles, who prided herself on being the most beautiful woman in the world, and insisted on all rivals bowing before her charms.

In order the better to gratify her vanity she had urged the king, her husband, to make war on all the surrounding islands, and as his greatest wish was to please her, the only conditions he imposed on any newly-conquered country was that each princess of every royal house should attend his court as soon as she was fifteen years old, and do homage to the transcendent beauty of his queen.

The queen of the Flowery Isles, well aware of this law, was fully determined to present her daughter to the proud queen as soon as her fifteenth birthday was past.

The queen herself had heard a rumour of the young princess’s great beauty, and awaited her visit with some anxiety, which soon developed into jealousy, for when the interview took place it was impossible not to be dazzled by such radiant charms, and she was obliged to admit that she had never beheld anyone so exquisitely lovely.

Of course she thought in her own mind ‘excepting myself!’ for nothing could have made her believe it possible that anyone could eclipse her.

But the outspoken admiration of the entire court soon undeceived her, and made her so angry that she pretended illness and retired to her own rooms, so as to avoid witnessing the princess’s triumph. She also sent word to the Queen of the Flowery Isles that she was sorry not to be well enough to see her again, and advised her to return to her own states with the princess, her daughter.

This message was entrusted to one of the great ladies of the court, who was an old friend of the Queen of the Flowery Isles, and who advised her not to wait to take a formal leave but to go home as fast as she could.

The queen was not slow to take the hint, and lost no time in obeying it. Being well aware of the magic powers of the incensed queen, she warned her daughter that she was threatened by some great danger if she left the palace for any reason whatever during the next six months.

The princess promised obedience, and no pains were spared to make the time pass pleasantly for her.

The six months were nearly at an end, and on the very last day a splendid fête was to take place in a lovely meadow quite near the palace. The princess, who had been able to watch all the preparations from her window, implored her mother to let her go as far as the meadow; and the queen, thinking all risk must be over, consented, and promised to take her there herself.

The whole court was delighted to see their much-loved princess at liberty, and everyone set off in high glee to join in the fête.

The princess, overjoyed at being once more in the open air, was walking a little in advance of her party when suddenly the earth opened under her feet and closed again after swallowing her up!

The queen fainted away with terror, and the younger princess burst into floods of tears and could hardly be dragged away from the fatal spot, whilst the court was overwhelmed with horror at so great a calamity.

Orders were given to bore the earth to a great depth, but in vain; not a trace of the vanished princess was to be found.

She sank right through the earth and found herself in a desert place with nothing but rocks and trees and no sign of any human being. The only living creature she saw was a very pretty little dog, who ran up to her and at once began to caress her. She took him in her arms, and after playing with him for a little put him down again, when he started off in front of her, looking round from time to time as though begging her to follow.

She let him lead her on, and presently reached a little hill, from which she saw a valley full of lovely fruit trees, bearing flowers and fruit together. The ground was also covered with fruit and flowers, and in the middle of the valley rose a fountain surrounded by a velvety lawn.

The princess hastened to this charming spot, and sitting down on the grass began to think over the misfortune which had befallen her, and burst into tears as she reflected on her sad condition.

The fruit and clear fresh water would, she knew, prevent her from dying of hunger or thirst, but how could she escape if any wild beast appeared and tried to devour her?

At length, having thought over every possible evil which could happen, the princess tried to distract her mind by playing with the little dog. She spent the whole day near the fountain, but as night drew on she wondered what she should do, when she noticed that the little dog was pulling at her dress.

She paid no heed to him at first, but as he continued to pull her dress and then run a few steps in one particular direction, she at last decided to follow him; he stopped before a rock with a large opening in the centre, which he evidently wished her to enter.

The princess did so and discovered a large and beautiful cave lit up by the brilliancy of the stones with which it was lined, with a little couch covered with soft moss in one corner. She lay down on it and the dog at once nestled at her feet. Tired out with all she had gone through she soon fell asleep.

Next morning she was awakened very early by the songs of many birds. The little dog woke up too, and sprang round her in his most caressing manner. She got up and went outside, the dog as before running on in front and turning back constantly to take her dress and draw her on.

She let him have his way and he soon led her back to the beautiful garden where she had spent part of the day before. Here she ate some fruit, drank some water of the fountain, and felt as if she had made an excellent meal. She walked about amongst the flowers, played with her little dog, and at night returned to sleep in the cave.

In this way the princess passed several months, and as her first terrors died away she gradually became more resigned to her fate. The little dog, too, was a great comfort, and her constant companion.

One day she noticed that he seemed very sad and did not even caress her as usual. Fearing he might be ill she carried him to a spot where she had seen him eat some particular herbs, hoping they might do him good, but he would not touch them. He spent all the night, too, sighing and groaning as if in great pain.

At last the princess fell asleep, and when she awoke her first thought was for her little pet, but not finding him at her feet as usual, she ran out of the cave to look for him. As she stepped out of the cave she caught sight of an old man, who hurried away so fast that she had barely time to see him before he disappeared.

This was a fresh surprise and almost as great a shock as the loss of her little dog, who had been so faithful to her ever since the first day she had seen him. She wondered if he had strayed away or if the old man had stolen him.

Tormented by all kinds of thoughts and fears she wandered on, when suddenly she felt herself wrapped in a thick cloud and carried through the air. She made no resistance and before very long found herself, to her great surprise, in an avenue leading to the palace in which she had been born. No sign of the cloud anywhere.

As the princess approached the palace she perceived that everyone was dressed in black, and she was filled with fear as to the cause of this mourning. She hastened on and was soon recognised and welcomed with shouts of joy. Her sister hearing the cheers ran out and embraced the wanderer, with tears of happiness, telling her that the shock of her disappearance had been so terrible that their mother had only survived it a few days. Since then the younger princess had worn the crown, which she now resigned to her sister to whom it by right belonged.

But the elder wished to refuse it, and would only accept the crown on condition that her sister should share in all the power.

The first acts of the new queen were to do honour to the memory of her dear mother and to shower every mark of generous affection on her sister. Then, being still very grieved at the loss of her little dog, she had a careful search made for him in every country, and when nothing could be heard of him she was so grieved that she offered half her kingdom to whoever should restore him to her.

Many gentlemen of the court, tempted by the thought of such a reward, set off in all directions in search of the dog; but all returned empty-handed to the queen, who, in despair announced that since life was unbearable without her little dog, she would give her hand in marriage to the man who brought him back.

The prospect of such a prize quickly turned the court into a desert, nearly every courtier starting on the quest. Whilst they were away the queen was informed one day that a very ill-looking man wished to speak with her. She desired him to be shown into a room where she was sitting with her sister.

On entering her presence he said that he was prepared to give the queen her little dog if she on her side was ready to keep her word.

The princess was the first to speak. She said that the queen had no right to marry without the consent of the nation, and that on so important an occasion the general council must be summoned. The queen could not say anything against this statement; but she ordered an apartment in the palace to be given to the man, and desired the council to meet on the following day.

Next day, accordingly, the council assembled in great state, and by the princess’s advice it was decided to offer the man a large sum of money for the dog, and should he refuse it, to banish him from the kingdom without seeing the queen again. The man refused the price offered and left the hall.

The princess informed the queen of what had passed, and the queen approved of all, but added that as she was her own mistress she had made up her mind to abdicate her throne, and to wander through the world till she had found her little dog.

The princess was much alarmed by such a resolution, and implored the queen to change her mind. Whilst they were discussing the subject, one of the chamberlains appeared to inform the queen that the bay was covered with ships. The two sisters ran to the balcony, and saw a large fleet in full sail for the port. In a little time they came to the conclusion that the ships must come from a friendly nation, as every vessel was decked with gay flags, streamers, and pennons, and the way was led by a small ship flying a great white flag of peace.

The queen sent a special messenger to the harbour, and was soon informed that the fleet belonged to the Prince of the Emerald Isles, who begged leave to land in her kingdom, and to present his humble respects to her. The queen at once sent some of the court dignitaries to receive the prince and bid him welcome.

She awaited him seated on her throne, but rose on his appearance, and went a few steps to meet him; then begged him to be seated, and for about an hour kept him in close conversation.

The prince was then conducted to a splendid suite of apartments, and the next day he asked for a private audience. He was admitted to the queen’s own sitting- room, where she was sitting alone with her sister.

After the first greetings the prince informed the queen that he had some very strange things to tell her, which she only would know to be true.

‘Madam,’ said he, ‘I am a neighbour of the Queen of all the Isles; and a small isthmus connects part of my states with hers. One day, when hunting a stag, I had the misfortune to meet her, and not recognising her, I did not stop to salute her with all proper ceremony. You, Madam, know better than anyone how revengeful she is, and that she is also a mistress of magic. I learnt both facts to my cost. The ground opened under my feet, and I soon found myself in a far distant region transformed into a little dog, under which shape I had the honour to meet your Majesty. After six months, the queen’s vengeance not being yet satisfied, she further changed me into a hideous old man, and in this form I was so afraid of being unpleasant in your eyes, Madam, that I hid myself in the depths of the woods, where I spent three months more. At the end of that time I was so fortunate as to meet a benevolent fairy who delivered me from the proud queen’s power, and told me all your adventures and where to find you. I now come to offer you a heart which has been entirely yours, Madam, since first we met in the desert.’

A few days later a herald was sent through the kingdom to proclaim the joyful news of the marriage of the Queen of the Flowery Isles with the young prince. They lived happily for many years, and ruled their people well.

As for the bad queen, whose vanity and jealousy had caused so much mischief, the Fairies took all her power away for a punishment.

[‘Cabinet des Fées.’]


The Poetry of J. M. Synge

The Passing of the Shee

Adieu, sweet Angus, Maeve and Fand,

Ye plumed yet skinny Shee,

That poets played with hand in hand

To learn their ecstasy.

We’ll search in Red Dan Sally’s ditch,

And drink in Tubber fair,

Or poach with Red Dan Philly’s bitch

The badger and the hare.

A Translation from Petrarch

(He is Jealous of the Heavens and the Earth)

What a grudge I am bearing the earth that has its arms about her, and is holding that face away from me, where I was finding peace from great sadness.

What a grudge I am bearing the Heavens that are after taking her, and shutting her in with greediness, the Heavens that do push their bolt against so many.

What a grudge I am bearing the blessed saints that have got her sweet company, that I am always seeking; and what a grudge I am bearing against Death, that is standing in her two eyes, and will not call me with a word.

A Wish

May seven tears in every week,

Touch the hollow of you cheek,

That I – signed with such a dew –

For the Lion’s share may sue

Of roses ever curled

Round the may-pole of the world.

Heavy riddles lie in this,

Sorrow’s sauce for every kiss.

A Question

I asked if i got sick and died, would you

With my black funeral go, walking too,

If you’d stand close to hear them talk or pray

While I’m let down in that steep bank of clay.

And, No, you said, for if you saw a crew

Of living idiots pressing round that new

Oak coffin – they alive, I dead beneath

That board – you’d rave and rend them with your teeth


Seven dog-days we let pass

Naming Queens in Glenmacnass,

All the rare and royal names

Wormy sheepskin yet retains,

Etain, Helen, Maeve, and Fand,

Golden Deirdre’s tender hand,

Bert, the big-foot, sung by Villon,

Cassandra, Ronsard found in Lyon.

Queens of Sheba, Meath and Connaught,

Coifed with crown, or gaudy bonnet,

Queens whose finger once did stir men,

Queens were eaten of fleas and vermin,

Queens men drew like Monna Lisa,

Or slew with drugs in Rome and Pisa,

We named Lucrezia Crivelli,

And Titian’s lady with amber belly,

Queens acquainted in learned sin,

Jane of Jewry’s slender shin:

Queens who cut the bogs of Glanna,

Judith of Scripture, and Gloriana,

Queens who wasted the East by proxy,

Or drove the ass-cart, a tinker’s doxy,

Yet these are rotten — I ask their pardon —

And we’ve the sun on rock and garden,

These are rotten, so you’re the Queen

Of all the living, or have been.


Elbow – The Loneliness Of A Tower Crane Driver


Pangur Cat…

Pangur Ban

I and Pangur Ban my cat,

‘Tis a like task we are at:

Hunting mice is his delight,

Hunting words I sit all night.

Better far than praise of men

‘Tis to sit with book and pen;

Pangur bears me no ill-will,

He too plies his simple skill.

‘Tis a merry task to see

At our tasks how glad are we,

When at home we sit and find

Entertainment to our mind.

Oftentimes a mouse will stray

In the hero Pangur’s way;

Oftentimes my keen thought set

Takes a meaning in its net.

‘Gainst the wall he sets his eye

Full and fierce and sharp and sly;

‘Gainst the wall of knowledge I

All my little wisdom try.

When a mouse darts from its den,

O how glad is Pangur then!

O what gladness do I prove

When I solve the doubts I love!

So in peace our task we ply,

Pangur Ban, my cat, and I;

In our arts we find our bliss,

I have mine and he has his.

Practice every day has made

Pangur perfect in his trade;

I get wisdom day and night

Turning darkness into light.

— Anon., (Irish, 8th century)

Our Cat “Buster” just turned 14 a week or so ago. He was given to Rowan by a neighbor as we were moving out from the N.E. of Portland, to the S.E. to Caer Llwydd. I was, ermmmmm less than happy at the time, but how do you take a kitten away from a 5 year old? Well, we hung in there, and he became Beta Cat for 9 years until Nicky the Alpha Cat died. In 2 months, his behaviour changed, and he assumed the Alpha Role. At 14 he is a Love. He once was the terror of the neighborhood. He pursued squirrels, birds and was a ratter par excellence. He used to bring ratty gifts up onto the porch and leave them for us. I would have to pick them up, make a big show about how good “they” were and he would dance around and purr. He now inhabits laps, something he once disdained. He comes in, wants a rub, a bit of food and a dollop of attention. He never was Mr. Touchy Feely, but that certainly has changed.

We think he has a few more years on him, he has slowed down a bit, squirrels are generally safe, birds to be watched but not chased, and the ratty gifts ceased half a decade ago. He likes his sun rays, and will move across the yard like a fur snake in pursuit of a warm spot. He likes to sit in Mary’s lap, and puts his paw on her computer mouse. I can’t quite figure that out.

We have a nice one today, lots of new stuff. I have entries stacked up like planes in a hold pattern, so I may as well let them through…

Bright Blessings,



On The Menu:


3 Videos: Alan Moore

Loreena McKennitt – The Old Ways

Göbekli Tepe: The World’s Oldest Temple

Ancient Irish Poetry

Loreena McKennitt – All Souls Night



Mesolithic Underwater Structures Near The Isle Of Wight

DNA has “Telepathic” abilities…

America’s Most Banned Book…

Quantum Entanglement Made Visible…


3 Videos: Alan Moore

Alan Moore: The Self

Thanks to Rak Razam for turning me on to this:

Alan Moore: Art is Magic

Alan Moore: The Role Of The Shaman


Loreena McKennitt – The Old Ways


Göbekli Tepe: The World’s Oldest Temple

A 12,000-year-old temple that is being excavated in Turkey is rewriting the historical record and seems to belong to a larger, hitherto unknown civilisation that is slowly being uncovered.

Philip Coppens

Five millennia separate us from the birth of ancient Egypt in c. 3100 BC. Add another five millennia and we are in 8100 BC, coincidentally the start of the Age of Cancer. Add another millennium and a half, and we have the date when Göbekli Tepe, in the highlands of Turkey near the Iraqi and Syrian borders, was constructed.

Archaeologically categorised as a site of the Pre-Pottery Neolithic A period (c. 9600–7300 BC), the world’s oldest temple sits in the early part of that era and so far has been carbon-dated to 9500 BC. It is the time-frame when Plato’s Atlantis civilisation is said to have disappeared. And it was built an incredible 5,000 years before the rise of what many consider to be the “oldest civilisation”, Sumer, not too far south of Göbekli Tepe as one goes down the River Euphrates and leaves the highlands of the Taurus Mountains in Turkey.

Göbekli Tepe is an incredible site. David Lewis-Williams, Professor of Archaeology at Witwatersrand University in Johannesburg, says that “Göbekli Tepe is the most important archaeological site in the world”. It is a small hill on the horizon, 15 kilometres northwest of the town of Sanliurfa, more commonly known as Urfa—which has been linked with the biblical Abraham (some claim that Urfa was the town of Ur mentioned in the Bible) and which once hosted the Holy Mandylion, linked with Christ’s Passion. Once also known as Edessa, Urfa is on the edge of the rainy area of the Taurus Mountains, source of the river that runs through the town and joins the Euphrates. Urfa was (and still is) an oasis, which could explain why Göbekli Tepe was built nearby. A life-sized statue of limestone that was found in Urfa, at the pond known as Balikli Göl, has been carbon-dated to 10,000–9000 BC, making it the earliest-known stone sculpture ever found. Its eyes are made of obsidian.

An old Kurdish shepherd, Savak Yildiz, discovered the true nature of Göbekli Tepe in October 1994 when, spotting something, he brushed away the dust to expose a large oblong-shaped stone. A survey of the site had been carried out by American archaeologist Peter Benedict in 1963, but he identified the area as a Byzantine cemetery. When German archaeologist Harald Hauptmann and Adnan Misir and Eyüp Bucak of the Museum of Urfa began excavations in 1995, they soon learned that the site was so much more.

Göbekli Tepe is a series of mainly circular and oval-shaped structures set in the slopes of a hill, known as Göbekli Tepe Ziyaret. “Ziyaret” means “visit”, but this is often left out of the name. And though some translate “Göbekli Tepe” as “Navel of the World” and “Gobek” does mean “navel” or “belly” and “Tepe” means “hill”, the most correct translation of the site’s name should be “bulged-out hill”.

The more sensationalist media have made attempts to link Göbekli Tepe with the biblical Garden of Eden. Göbekli Tepe is indeed old, but it is not unique; nor was it a garden. However, over the past 50 years the time-frame for the beginning of civilisation has been gently pushed back from the rise of the Sumerian civilisation to the construction of Göbekli Tepe. Alas, it has been a voyage that has not received the attention it should have had.

Pushing back the birth of civilisation

The discovery of the biblical town of Jericho and its stone walls, dated to c. 8000 BC, was the first to push back the date of the birth of “civilisation”. ‘Ain Ghazal is often seen as a sister site of Jericho and, with its 15-hectare area, is the largest Neolithic site in the Middle East and four times as big as Jericho. American Gary O. Rollefson, its principal archaeologist, was able to date the town to 7250 BC, and there is evidence of agriculture in the area dating back to c. 6000 BC—later than the establishment of the town itself. In its heyday, 2,000 people lived at ‘Ain Ghazal. However, by 5000 BC the town was completely deserted. Thirty statues have been found there, measuring between 35 and 90 centimetres; they are human in appearance but may represent deities or the spirits of ancestors. Jericho’s discovery added weight to the argument that the Bible is history, not myth. But when it was next learned that there are even older sites than Jericho, “unfortunately” not located in Palestine but further north in Anatolia, southeast Turkey, media interest in these new discoveries seemed to wane.

The most famous of these sites is Çatal Höyük. It was discovered in 1958 by British archaeologist James Mellaart, who began excavations in 1961 and eventually dated the site to 7500–5700 BC. It is the largest and best-preserved Neolithic site found to date. Mellaart described it as “a Neolithic Rome”, and it is indeed worthy of the name “town”. Its constructions show clear signs that its inhabitants possessed a religion—labelled by some to be a Mother Goddess cult, although this theory has been the subject of much controversy. What is known is that the dead were buried beneath the floors of the buildings, and that several of these structures contain depictions of bulls. Some people have gone so far as to suggest that there is likely a common origin between Çatal Höyük and the Minoan civilisation on Crete, despite the fact that 3,000 years separate the two.

Çatal Höyük was the first of several discoveries to slowly unveil the Turkish region’s ancient history. Göbekli Tepe is but one of several extremely old sites and is the oldest discovered so far. However, the existence of these sites has only been reported within the specialised press, although each site has a wow factor.

The site of Çayönü, located around 96 kilometres from Göbekli Tepe, conforms to a design that is known as a “grill plan”, as it looks like a grill. This reveals that careful planning went into its construction. Americans Linda and Robert Braidwood, together with Turkish archaeologist Halet Çambel, began to excavate Çayönü in 1964 and found that the floors of the buildings were made of terrazzo (burnt crushed lime and clay), although at the time of the discovery it was thought that this had first been used by the Romans. The site also revealed the use of metals and the earliest evidence of the smelting of copper, though some nevertheless argue that the copper was originally cold-hammered rather than smelted. The use of copper should not come as a total surprise, as the site is within range of copper ore deposits (as well as obsidian) at Ergani in nearby Diyarbakir Province. And all of this in a site dated to 7500–6600 BC. Çayönü is often seen as the site that began the epoch that would culminate in Çatal Höyük.

Çayönü presented evidence of the first farmyard pigs, but it also revealed a hoard of human skulls, one found under an altar-like slab and stained with human blood. Some have concluded that this is an indication of human sacrifice, while others have been unwilling to go that far based on a single type of artefact. Other archaeological evidence suggests that some people were killed in huge death pits, while children were buried alive in jars or roasted in large bronze bowls. Çayönü is therefore civilisation, but perhaps not as we like to know it.

Another important site is Nevali Çori, in Hilvan Province between Diyarbakir and Sanliurfa. Here, Harald Hauptmann began excavations in 1979 and was able to uncover large limestone statues. In 1991, the site was submerged with the construction of Lake Atatürk Dam. It shares many parallels with Göbekli Tepe and is dated to 8400–8000 BC. All the artefacts retrieved are now in museums, including a life-sized egg-like head with crude ears and a carved ponytail, found in a niche at the centre of a north-western wall. Interestingly, the ponytail is actually a curling serpent that ends in a mushroom-like cap. Whatever being the figure is meant to represent, German archaeologist Klaus Schmidt believes it was worshipped as a deity.

Nevali Çori set the stage for Göbekli Tepe: shortly after its disappearance under the waters, Göbekli Tepe emerged from the sands. Many people highlight the T-shaped pillars of Göbekli Tepe as the “signature” of the site. However, such T-shaped pillars were also found in Nevali Çori. Site-wise, Nevali Çori is more square than circular in design, although a square precinct has been found at Göbekli Tepe, too. Although there are several parallels between the two sites, Nevali Çori’s pillars are nevertheless smaller and its shrine is located inside a village.

The Göbekli Tepe site revealed

In comparison, the site of Göbekli Tepe is small. British author Andrew Collins has compared its size to that of “three tennis courts”. Its principal excavators are Klaus Schmidt and Harald Hauptmann of the German Archaeological Institute in Istanbul. All of the complexes in Göbekli Tepe that they have unearthed so far are typified by structures containing T-pillars.

These pillars were used as “drawing boards” and many depict animals, with an apparent preference for boars, foxes, reptiles, lions, crocodiles and birds, as well as insects and spiders. Most of these were carved out of the flat surfaces of the pillars. However, some are three-dimensional sculptures, including one find, made during the 2006 excavation season, of a reptilian creature descending on the side of a T-pillar, demonstrating that whoever created this had mastered the art of stone carving—on a par with much of what we would see thousands of years later in Sumer and Egypt.

So far, four circular/ovalshaped complexes have been excavated. The walls are made of unworked dry stone and the floors of terrazzo. The interior of the walls usually have several T-pillars set along them in a radiating pattern, the depth of the pillar normally against or near the wall so that the two main surfaces of the pillar could be carved and seen by whomever was inside the complex. A low bench runs along the entire exterior wall of each complex.

The structures are situated on the southern slope of the hill, orientated roughly north–south with their entrances to the south. All the T-pillars were excavated from a stone quarry on the lower southwestern slope of the hill. One pillar remains in situ in the quarry; it is seven metres long and three metres wide, and if fully excavated would have weighed around 50 tonnes, underlining that building with stones that weigh tonnes did not begin in Egypt or in England with Stonehenge.

Complex A, the first circular structure to be excavated, is nicknamed “the snake column building” because depictions of the snake somewhat dominate the carvings on the T-pillars. One is of a “net” containing snakes. Another pillar, however, depicts a “triad” of bull, fox and crane, positioned one above the other. Some pillars only feature a bull, others only a fox, and so on.

Complex B measures nine metres in diameter when measured from east to west, and 10 to 15 metres north to south (part of it is still to be excavated). It is nevertheless the only complex dug to floor level, revealing the terrazzo floor surface. Two central pillars have a large fox depicted on them. One central pillar, no. 9, is 3.4 m high; pillar no. 10 is 3.6 m high; their weight is 7.1 and 7.2 tonnes respectively. The complex was clearly built to “house” these monolithic pillars, which prove how well-versed our ancestors were in working with gigantic stones, not merely in quarrying them but in shaping and decorating them as well. Archaeologists believe that 200 T-pillars originally stood at Göbekli Tepe. If each weighed “only” five tonnes, it would still mean that 1,000 tonnes of pillars were excavated and decorated, and it highlights the importance of the site and the effort that went into creating it.

Complex C is nicknamed “the circle of the boar”, as it depicts various wild pigs. There remain nine pillars around the wall, but several were removed at some point in the past. One pillar shows a net of birds. As later cultures are known to have caught migratory cranes in nets, could this be a custom that was practised much earlier than assumed? Complex C is also of interest because a U-shaped stone has been found there which is deemed to have been the access stone. This stone has a central passage of 70 centimetres in width, and one side of the U is topped with a depiction of a boar; the other side unfortunately is missing. Again, the U shape and the boar underline the craftsmen’s technical expertise in carving, which is shown even more so on pillar no. 27, featuring the earlier-mentioned three-dimensional reptilian creature. This intricate sculpture could be regarded as being on a par with Michelangelo’s statue of David.

Complex D is nicknamed “the Stone Age zoo”. Pillar no. 43 has scorpions, and some pillars are indeed so profusely decorated—much more intensively than in the other complexes—that “zoo” is quite an apt description. Once again, there are two central pillars (nos 18 and 31), though other pillars reveal symbols, like one in the shape of the letter H as well as one with an H turned 90 degrees. The site has revealed other symbols, specifically a cross, a resting half-moon and horizontal bars—evidence that the origin of writing is likely to be much older than is currently assumed. Pillar no. 33 is the “star” of the complex. Schmidt states that the shapes on this pillar come close to the Egyptian hieroglyphs, hence he posits the existence of a pictographic language in the 10th millennium BC.

Combined, these four complexes—and others, still unexcavated—are a series of ovals and resemble the layout of the oval-shaped Stone Age complexes found on Malta. This is all the more remarkable as Malta’s oval shapes were considered unique, though some of the megaliths on Sardinia also display some oval-like tendencies but not as profoundly as at Göbekli Tepe.

A “rock temple” lower down on the slope is equally oval in shape and has an opening to the “burial chamber”. Whereas at other sites these openings are so narrow that a human could not navigate to the interior, here it is wide enough to enter.

Elsewhere on the site, on the northern slope of the hill, there is a rectangular complex named “the lion column building”. Its four pillars have depictions of leonine creatures, which could also be tigers or leopards. One pillar has a 30-cm-high graffito of a squatting woman who appears to be giving birth.

Speculation on Göbekli Tepe

Excavations at Göbekli Tepe are still ongoing; only a quarter of the suspected 200 T-pillars have been discovered so far, and not all the structures have been unearthed. In short, further surprises may be in store. It is therefore early days to draw major conclusions, but what could it all mean? The site definitely demonstrates that things which we thought were much more recent are far older—and all present in one site, sitting in a region which shows that a civilisation worthy of that name existed there in the 10th millennium BC, millennia before anyone would have dared to guess a few decades ago.

Klaus Schmidt has labelled Göbekli Tepe “the first temple” and “a sanctuary of the Stone Age hunter”. He sees the site as part of a death cult, not specifically linked with a sedentary group but a type of central sanctuary for several of the tribes living in the region. The carved animals are believed to have been there to protect the dead. At Çayönü, as previously described, one structure has a cellar that was found to contain human skulls and bones. So far, though, Göbekli Tepe has no evidence of habitation and therefore appears to have been purely a religious centre.

Once again, it appears that, just as the ancient Egyptians did, the civilisation that constructed Göbekli Tepe had far greater regard for their religious buildings than for any structures of a “practical” or more materialistic nature. Still, with only Complex B excavated to floor level, no tombs or graves have been found to date.

Some have voiced criticism as to whether hunter-gatherers could have created such a structure as Göbekli Tepe. The many flint arrowheads (and the lack of construction tools) found around the site would seem to support this criticism, and one could even see these artefacts as part of sacred hunts rather than as part of the daily activities to put food on the table—if indeed tables even existed then.

Schmidt maintains that the hunter-gatherers convened at the site at certain times of the year. Whether these meetings were determined by solar or lunar cycles is anyone’s guess, but it is nevertheless an interesting question to ponder. Equally, one could logically conclude that those who constructed the site lived there and were a dedicated resource supported by others who sustained them in dietary and housing needs. Archaeologists have estimated that up to 500 persons would have been required to extract the 10- to 20-tonne pillars and move them from the quarry to their destination, a distance ranging from 100 to 500 metres. However, Schmidt actually believes that maintaining the community of builders was the real reason behind why our ancestors “invented” agriculture: they began to cultivate the wild grasses on the hills to sustain this sedentary population. In short, he believes that “religion motivated people to take up farming”.

As well as appearing to have ritual significance, Göbekli Tepe, with its large and exquisitely decorated stone blocks, reveals that its creators had an extraordinary ability and familiarity with stone masonry and carving. That our ancestors in 10,000 BC were so skilled is an archaeological discovery that is wiping out long-cherished beliefs about the origin of civilisation.

As for the carvings, why were some and not other animals chosen? Why do the depictions seem to have no clear or apparent organisation but appear to be a rather random collection? Truth is, we don’t know. In later civilisations, all of these animals were given divine attributes. Some cultures chose to depict snakes because these animals shed their skin, which they saw as a symbol of rebirth. Others opted for the same animal for different reasons. So far, there is no way of knowing what beliefs the creators and users of Göbekli Tepe held.

Some observers have pointed out that some of the cranes are depicted with human-like knees and have suggested that a form of shamanism was practised inside this temple. Sister sites have revealed sculptures of a mixture of animal and human, specifically that of the body of a bird with a human head. As it happened, thousands of years later the ancient Egyptians used this symbol as a hieroglyph to depict the ba, the human soul freed from the body at death or during shamanic flight.

Andrew Collins has specifically underlined the shamanic potential of these sites in modern-day Turkey. The image of the previously mentioned naked woman depicts her hair in the shape of a hemispherical mushroom cap. The side of one pillar at Göbekli Tepe features a series of serpents with mushroom-shaped heads, four winding their way downwards and a fifth one climbing up to meet them, while the other side shows several interwoven serpents wearing mushroom-like caps, eight emerging at the top and nine at the bottom. Is this evidence of a ritual involving hallucinogenic mushrooms or similar mind-altering substances?

The bones of vultures have been found at Nevali Çori, Göbekli Tepe and Jerf el-Ahmar (in Syria). A communal cave site, Shanidar, in the Upper Zagros Mountains of northern Iraq, contained a series of severed birds’ wings covered with red ochre. The remains have been dated to c. 8870 BC. The wings are believed to have been used in some ceremony, but precisely in what manner remains unknown. However, it is known that, in the distant past, the people of this region placed the bodies of the dead on high constructions and let vultures eat the flesh of the dead. Depictions of such a Neolithic excarnation tower have been found on a mural in Çatal Höyük. Interestingly, human bones have recently been found in the soil that once filled the niches behind the megaliths at Göbekli Tepe. Schmidt argues: “…the ancient hunters brought the corpses of relatives here, and installed them in the open niches by the stones. The corpses were then excarnated.” Not just vultures but wild animals seem to have taken part in this ritual. This may explain why so many animals are depicted on the T-pillars: perhaps the people who constructed these sites felt that “something” of the dead lived on in these animals.

Cradles of civilisation

What is known is that Göbekli Tepe and its sister sites have pushed back the age of monolithic building much further in time. Previously, we looked to the likes of Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, but now we find that our ancestors were hauling massive stones to build their constructions around 12,000 years ago. Even if a structure like the Sphinx were suddenly found to be 10,000 years old, the immediate reaction might now perhaps be: “So what? It is not that unique.” Furthermore, if the dates for some of these sites in Turkey pre-date the assumed time-frame for such events as the disappearance of Atlantis or the Great Flood, it means that these ancient ancestors cannot be neatly placed as “survivors from a deluge”.

Our ancient history has grown much more interesting and complex. The cultures that followed the establishment of Göbekli Tepe had domesticated pigs, sheep, cattle and goats and cultivated wheat species such as einkorn. Indeed, recent analysis has shown that the first cultivation of domesticated wheat occurred at Karacadag, a mountain 32 kilometres from Göbekli Tepe. Other domesticated cereals such as rye and oats also originated here. According to Schmidt, this adventure began c. 8000 BC.

It is easy and tempting to label this region as “the cradle of civilisation”, but the fact of the matter is that it has already been proven that corn (maize) was engineered in Mexico at the same time, only underlining how the frontiers of “civilisation” are being pushed back on both continents. In fact, there is evidence of Barbary sheep being cultivated by our ancestors in North Africa as early as 18,000 BC. Furthermore, several grains of emmer wheat have been found at the Palestinian site of Nahal Oren, suggesting cultivation of this crop occurred there as early as 14,000 BC.

In any case, it is clear that Göbekli Tepe is not alone. It may be receiving much of the focus, but another site, Karahan Tepe, 63 kilometres east of Urfa in the Tektek Mountains, deserves attention. Discovered in 1997 and investigated by archaeologist Bahattin Çelik of the Turkish Historical Society, it has been dated to c. 9500–9000 BC. It has a number of T-pillars as well as high reliefs of a winding snake and other carvings similar to those at Göbekli Tepe. Covering an area of 325,000 m2, Karahan Tepe is much bigger than Göbekli Tepe. The stone pillars are spaced 1.5 to 2.0 metres apart and protrude above ground level, waiting for an archaeologist to expose them fully. Other carved stones include a battered torso of a naked man and polished rock with forms of goats, gazelles and rabbits.

It is too early to draw any extraordinary conclusions from these sites, apart from the fact that our history is no longer as we know it. But just as Jericho proved in part that the Bible contains historical facts, these sites may yet substantiate some of the Sumerian myths which claimed that agriculture, animal husbandry and weaving had been brought to mankind from the sacred mountain Du-Ku, which was inhabited by the Anunna deities. Though it’s unlikely that this mountain was Göbekli Tepe, we are probably in the correct general vicinity here at the frontier of the Taurus Mountains.

Around 8000 BC, descendants of the creators of Göbekli Tepe turned on their forefathers’ achievements and entombed their temple under thousands of tonnes of earth, creating the artificial hill—a “belly”—that we see today. Why they did this is unknown, though it was a decision that preserved the monument for posterity but also involved an extraordinary amount of time and effort. Schmidt argues that the local landscape began to change around that time: as the trees were chopped down, the soil began to lose its fertility; the area became arid and bare, and the people were forced to move elsewhere. Could it be that they began to make their descent and, millennia later, established what is known as the Sumerian civilisation? Such a scenario is just one possibility.

Even in ancient Egypt, religious constructions were often abandoned if not dismantled after a while because they belonged to a particular “cycle” of time that had since passed. If that were the case with Göbekli Tepe, it would mean that knowledge of astronomy is older by millennia. The past five decades have so radically reshaped our understanding of the period 10,000–4000 BC, specifically the level of “civilisation” our ancestors had achieved in those days, that this shouldn’t at all come as a surprise. And it seems that it’s a given that somewhere, even older towns are waiting to be uncovered.

However, it is equally clear that entering into the mindset of these hunter-gatherers—how they saw these animals and what they believed happened to the dead—is a difficult subject which will require years of study. Alas, it is an area where few archaeologists dare to tread, and in all likelihood they will hop from one site to the next, as they’ve done for several decades, and will “only” uncover the fact that civilisation is much older than we’ve assumed. Already, other sites are vying for Göbekli Tepe’s fame. The previously mentioned site of Jerf el-Ahmar, located along the Euphrates in Syria, has been dated to 9600–8500 BC. Other sites will certainly soon submit their applications. It’s likely they will all reveal that they are part of our history, but not as we know it.

This article appeared in Nexus Magazine, Volume 16, Number 4 (June-July 2009) and Darklore (Volume 4).


Ancient Irish Poetry

Lugh’s Crane Magic

Havoc its strain of battles shared death there.

In this a battle after foreigners broke (our) shared settlement

by destruction of it. They will be defeated by hosts.

O Fairy-hosts, land of men on guard,

birds of prey rain down (on them), men without choice.

Be hindered (the) foreigners. Another (the other) company fears,

another company listens, they are very terribly in torment,

dark (sad) men (are they). Roaring brightly ninefold* are we!

Hurrah and Woe! Leftward*! O you my beautiful ones!

Sacred will be the sustenance after cloud and flowers

through its powerful skills of wizards.

My battle will not dwindle until (its) end.

Not cowardly my request with (their) encountering me

with a land of rushes laid waste by fire

death’s form established, death on us given birth.

Before (the presence of) the Sídhe with each of them,

before Ogma I satisfy,

before the sky and the earth and the sea*,

before the sun and the moon and the stars*.

O Band of warriors my band here to you

My hosts here of great hosts sea-full

(of) mighty sea-spray (boiling) smelted golden powerful,

conceived, may it be sought upon the field of battle.

Joint death its strain. Havoc its strain.

Kenmare’s Pacification Spell

Melt away (expire, soften) fully, melt away completely.

I swear this myself to every prince.

Melt into sleep, melt in tranquillity.

Be borne a bright newness

to (the) head of the hosts of Fiacha of princes.

Melt clean(ly), melt (with) generosity

(all those) around an ignorant (unjust) king.

Melt away completely, melt away into sleep.

Be borne a fresh newness.

(But) of Mogh Corb

melt away his silver and gold and enamel (jewelry),

melt away fairy (allies of the king) and king and great ones,

empowered with you and from you to Mogh Ruith

and from (the) men of Corb

and to Buan

empowered himself

a sight (seen to be done) three times

with that a sight of wisdom

the (high) king made humble.

The draught will be drowned.

(Magical) energy will enliven,

each will be healed,

will transform into peace. Melt away.

Buan’s Invocation of the Stag-God

Then Buan gave the excellence of ancient word

aloud in its telling, and said:

O Spectre of stags* of great knowledge,

O Man whose sight is in visions

of Ireland of many byred calms,

God of requests beside me,

O Stag*, hooves sharp as swords

to antler-points white-silver,

pig* of the wilds fresh green terrible,

fair cow* of red-speckled* ear-points,

the trinity who do not scrutinize,

cow* and great pig* of keen sight,

fierce stag* of divine possessions,

glorious, free of the restraint of crowds,

who sing together, have advanced together

to our harbour of complete attentions.

O father of mine, pledged to his people forever,

The veils are removed,

by the source of great wisdom

keenly seen, upon song

from out of the magical mists of prophecy.

The generations of the Gael increase.

The triple-yeared wild boar* has grown,

subdued the wraths of supreme power,

sovereignty of battles pugnacious,

of a proper ale feast, of a lot of the harp,

in a wide-faced stag*.

Good son gentle fair Eoghan Great Muillethan

wages a war of inheritance.

Eimhne gentle many-beautied

in my joy much magnified

gentle handsome flower-bright,

my woman, she the cow*,

let her have no reason to lament.

The Battle of Clare will be put to the sword,

before my gaze be it soldiered.

May the sons of women reign.

The bound-givings equally guaranteed

by Cormac and in need abandoned,

let them be performed.

Let there be no belonging here for profound grief.

I bestow its silence (You bestow my silence).


Loreena McKennitt – All Souls Night