Farewell Ira

Sweet like the Lord of the cedars and hyssops,
I piss toward the dusky skies, very high and very far,
With the assent of the great heliotropes.
– Rimbaud


A garden among the flames!

My heart can take on any form:
A meadow for gazelles,
A cloister for monks,
For the idols, sacred ground,
Ka’ba for the circling pilgrim,
The tables of the Torah,
The scrolls of the Quran.

My creed is Love;
Wherever its caravan turns along the way,
That is my belief,
My faith.

– Ibn Arabi

Welcome to this edition of Turfing… Here is what we have going for this one…
On The Menu:
Thoughts On Ira Cohen
The Links
Invasion Of The Thunderbolt Pagoda
Trembling Blue Stars – Cold colours
Ira Cohen Poetry..
Trembling Blue Stars – All Eternal Things
Photos: Ira Cohen
Additional Poetry: Ibn Arabi

Thoughts On Ira Cohen

I sit here, listening to The Majoon Traveler going over in my mind about the man that was Ira Cohen. (I have had this entry sitting for almost a month, digesting his passing.) I never met Ira, but there were connections through his time in Kathmandu, and his publishing with John Chick on the Bardo Matrix Imprint. I had met John when I was first 15 years old in Boulder when John Chick’s “Bardo Matrix” Light Shows and Dance Concerts fueled my early lysergic visions. Later on, I stumbled across Ira’s mylar photography, poetry and more in the late(r) 60′s.

On my desktop, in my email files sat a message to him for 6 months regarding an interview for Issue 7 of The Invisible College. The week I was going to send it, Ira passed. Once more my hesitation led to a severed path… I had admired his works so much that I was intimidated in contacting him. Well, so it goes.

Ira’s work was wide ranging. From editing and producing magazines, poetry books, photography (oh the innovations!) to experimental films, he covered more ground than most in his life. He was beloved by his friends, lovers of poetry and photography, and I would think the gods. I will not go into his life story, his childhood etc., that has been covered more than adequately by others. I offer up my admiration for his work(s), and the artist intent personified by the way he embraced life. Supposedly he did not consider himself a Beat, though many thought of him that way. Perhaps he saw the path as the Bohemian, which would fit with his wide ranging talents.

No matter how much of his works that I find, there is always more to turn up. I hope someone puts together his poems, his photographs, and his various films into packages that more people can dip into. His works need to have a wider audience now, not that he seemed to ever care. It was in the doing, and with that I can identify.

Here is to Ira, who transcended all sorts of boundaries in his life. He touched many with his works, and I am pleased to say he touched my heart as well.

There are people who touch your heart but who you never meet, Ira you were one such person. Thank you for the gifts of your art and passion. You were one of the great originals!

Good voyage Ira, I hope to catch you on the flip side…!


The Links:
Ira Cohen’s Obituary
A Memorial Page For Ira…
Oldest Identified Ritual…
In The Mind Of An Infant…
Inattentive Super Heroes?

One of Ira’s films. He produced this in conjunction with Angus Maclise…

Invasion Of The Thunderbolt Pagoda


The Real made me contemplate the light of the veils as the star of strong backing rose, and He said to me, “Do you know how many veils I have veiled you with?”
“No”, I replied.
He said, “With seventy veils.
Even if you raise them you will not see Me, and if you do not raise them you will not see Me.”
“If you raise them you will see Me and if you do not raise them you will see Me.”
“Take care of burning yourself!”
“You are My sight, so have faith. You are My Face, so veil yourself.”

— Ibn ‘Arabī, Contemplation of the Light of the Veils

Trembling Blue Stars – Cold colours


Ira Cohen Poetry..

Imagine Jean Cocteau

Imagine Jean Cocteau in the lobby
holding a torch
Imagine a trained dog act,
a Rock and Roll Band
Imagine I am Curly of the Three Stooges
disguised as Wm Shakespeare
Imagine that I’m the cousin of the Mayor
of New York or the King of Nepal
(I didn’t say Napoleon!)
Imagine what it is like to be in the glare
of hot lights when you are longing for dark
Imagine the Ghost Patrol, the Tribal
Orchestra –
Imagine an elephant playing a harmonica
or someone weighing out bones on the edge
of the desert in Afghanistan
Imagine that these poems are recorded moments
of temporary sanity
Imagine that the clock was just turned back –
or forwards — a hundred years instead of an hour
Let us pretend that we have no place to go,
that we are here in the Cosmic Hotel,
that our bags are packed & that we have one hour
to checkout time
Imagine whatever you will but know that it is not
imagination but experience which makes poetry,
and that behind every image,
behind every word there is something
I am trying to tell you,
something that really happened.

An Act of Jeopardy
for Garcia Lorca

A star of blood you fell
from the point of the hypodermic
singing of fabulous beasts &
spitting out the sex of vowels
Your poems explode in the mouth
like torrents of sperm on a night
full of zebras & bootheels
Your ghost still cruses the river-
fronts of midnight assignations
in a world of dead sailors carrying
armfuls of flowers in search of
your unmarked grave
Your body no sanctuary for bees,
Death was your lover in a rain of
broken obelisks & rotting orchids
In the tangled rose of a single heartbeat
I offer you the shadow of a double
two heads held together at the bridge
of the nose by a nail of opium
in the long night’s dreaming
& memory of water poured between
In my mailbox I find a letter from
a dead man & know that for every
shadow given
one is taken away
Yet subtraction is only a special form of
addition and implies a world of hidden
intentions below a horizon of lips
thin as your fingernail sprouting
mysteries in the earth
The ace of spades dealt from the bottom
of the deck severs the hand which
retrieves it & the eyes of Beauty
sewn together peer over a black lace fan
in the vulgar sunlight of a Spanish
morning without horses
The Belt of Orion is loosened
before you as you remove the silver
fingerstalls from your mummy hands &
kneel to plunder the nightsky in a shower of
bitter diamonds.
(Somewhere under a blanket someone weeps
for a lover.)
Peace to your soul
& to your empty shoes
in the dark closets of
kings with no feet!!!

From The Moroccan Journal – 1987
My heart feels like an uncut diamond
Though it is still the same, it is not the same
Someone speaks of a bridge to be built from Tangier
to Algeciras or is it Gibraltar?
“Yes & then a highway to the stars or more likely
an elevator to the Underworld,” says Yellow Turban
To White Jellaba as the exhaust fumes from the bus
engulf them, leaving behind not even a single
Is that Mel Clay in a white jacket turning the corner?
No, it is a figment of my imagination escaped from the
Is that Ian Sommerville walking backwards up the street
as if pulled by a giant magnet?
No, that is Wm. Burroughs making electricity
from dead cats.
Is that Tatiana glistening on Maxiton?
No, that is the sun dancing in the sugar bowl.
Is that Marc Schelfer wavering on the cliffedge?
No, it is a promontory in the wind of time
about to fall in the sea.
Is that Beethoven’s 9th Symphony being played
up the street?
No, it is the sound of the breadwagons
rumbling over cobblestones
Is that George Andrews with two girls in hand
looking for bread?
No, it is an unidentified flying object about to land.
Is that One-eyed Mose hanging by his heels?
No, that is the hanged man inventing the Taro.
Are the dead really so fascinated by lovemaking?
Yes, that is how they travel.
Is that Irving in short pants looking for trouble?
No, that’s me unable to stop thinking.
Is that Kenneth Halliwell looking for Joe Orton?
Is that Jane Bowles looking for Sherifa, Rosalind looking
for her baby, Alfred searching for his lost hair?
Is that the wig of it all, the patched robe of my brain,
the wind talking to itself?
Brion is dead and Yacoubi is dead, and I am a not unhappy
ghost remembering everything, the warp & woof of memories,
her yellow slip, her shaved cunt, her idiot child.
Dream shuttle makes me exist everywhere at once.
The blind beggars led by children keep coming.
“They all have many houses in the Casbah,”
chant the unbelievers sucking on sugar.
Words keep coming back like Bezezel for tits, Lictcheen
for oranges, like Mina, like Fatima, like Driss Berrada
dropping his trousers for an injection in the middle
of his shop.
The trunk is full of old sepia postcards,
barebreasted girls smoking hookahs etcetera.
We speak of the cataplana, the mist which obscures
even the cielo you cannot even see the hand in front
of your face.
We embrace, he says he thought of me only yesterday,
he says there are always nine such men who look like us
in the world and that we are the tenth.
We speak of the gold filets in the sky over Moulay Absalom.
The garbage men in rubber boots go thru the Socco pushing
wheeled drums of collected garbage.
An unveiled woman wobbles out of a taxi and heads home
before sunrise.
Paul couldn’t believe that was a Karma Street,
but I will never forget it.
And Billy Batman, who made the best hash in the world,
he dropped a loaded pistol in Kabul, shot himself in the balls,
took some heroin and lay down to die.
Now I must get up from my table in the allnight Café Central.
No more Dr. Nadal, no more window with red crosses & red
The water thrown from buckets runs across the café floors
& over the sidewalks & I drop a dirham into the hand
of a blind beggar singing in the dark on the American stairs

From Anais Nin’s “A Spy in the House of Love” The women wear fireflies in their hair, but the fireflies stop shining when they go to sleep so now and then the women had to rub the fire- flies to keep them awake.”

Atlantis Express
Let’s take a silver train underground
to the back streets of Atlantis
thru the corrugated iron roots &
then to the peak itself, to the
saddle of the last ridge past strewn
finally meandering thru cascading snow
wearing miner’s hats on the perpendicular
dark night &
going up to the edge of the Southern Cross
where we reach at last the pure white
glistening glaciers &
begin to chant over bones in rags
of Scorpio
Armless in the sticky substance how could
they ever have had a chance?
Permission will not be required
only poems of blood offered to
the memory of TREE
It is not ice which is eternal
but the fury of the absolute
separating the void from the spirit
of man,
uplifting like life when it is used
against itself,
that is, Radical Love — & again, we
are reduced to living beings
Caught by the instant
we are taken away
We live in the imprint of the flame
& we are helmeted within the internal
where the ray begins its passage
across the indignant sky
Vain clouds uncaring in a tangle of
culminate in the hermaphroditic mirror
of the epileptic dancer
And during sleep
the light is joined
to the light
It is all a matter of getting up
and then to abandon the pain
It is there that the journey beings
in the self generated flame of
Spontaneous Combustion
The main line running counter
to the triangle comprising the
SARGASSO SEA where sleeping Atlanteans
dream forever,
this line, this battlefield of the ages,
crosses the divide of my most wandering
backdoor heart.
We will all have to go
if we want to reappear
in the rhythm of the ritual
It’s the wheel of fools spinning
over my bed
If I put my left foot first
they will find a way to call me
by that name
tracking tremors
like glyphs
on drunken walls
in the negative palace
just before taking eave
of my senses
the white powder dissolves
in the sunlight
& making noise like a peacock
he hops on one foot up the mountain.

Song to Nothing
And surely we will die without memory
coming to cold in the shadow of space
& if it isn’t too late
for the star to love you
spraying the sky w/ whispers
attuned to galaxies hungry for flame
And if the tongue of night sings
of Albino winos
till the morning light shafts
the doorway
then surely we will die tonight
faceless at the White
sharing the smoke
w/ ancient shapes in future garb
and you stand somewhere there
on the other side
feeding on the pain of dreamlessness
Wherefrom the misty morning of
white shadows
& the unresisting need to destroy?

Samael, Samael, I beg it may be forgiven
that they may be driven
out of the black into the white
Only let the dazzle remain
for gamblers to surprise,
the strategic diamond, the throne
of compressed bone
in the unshored dark
where only light can forgive
& your mind is singed
Embers of echoes in the vastness
disguise the yearning to burn
blind eyes
in arrogant displays of feeling,
Running wild these beasts will feast
on the newborn kind
for surely we will die tonight
unless we learn to ignore
what the others live for
on the other side of morning
& the Skin of Nothing left by the same
masks the faceless wanderer

O let it happen,
this weird to discover
the shape of Beauty in everything
for surely we will die tonight
whether we will or whether we
O Samael, forgive the dreamer
forgive the dream

The Song of Nothing is your lullabye.

If my heart were made of bread
I would wait at least one moment
before breaking the sunrise –
The Arm of the Dorje

Sunyata Song to the Winter Sun

There was much wind
but I new not how to call it,
a roomful of strangers,
how familiar the feeling,
how cold it must be barefoot
at the fountain when the sun goes down,
how the brown people love the blond baby
The white horse which looks out
from the wall suggests a journey
I once might have taken,
a covered memory reeking of sulphur
Words, they can go anywhere,
can they tell me where I come from,
the name of my planet,
the empty space which was my home?
The condemned murderer longs for
a firing squad, knows
where to put the shadows
you keep inside
Between hands there are worlds
of ashes & thunder,
silent collisions of meaning,
the utter sugar of nights
taken for granted
They say the sun rises every day,
that sleep is incidental
I say myself
& so I look for your face at dawn
rising over my grief, over
the twice told terrain, violet w/ciphers,
Suffused w/ yr eternal smile
I would offer my flesh to your tiger,
turn your stone wheels w/ my water
Longing for the peaks the stars say
it will be clear
Let us meet in the sky then
till we come closer down here.

The Day of the Basilisk The Wayfarer’s Song

It started in the dark room
thinking that night had fallen at dawn
Then arising we glued red eyes
into the dry sockets of a dead bird
its belly full of dirty cotton
Then across the paddies & out of
the town
where familiar figures of Kleist &
rise from the road in eddies of dust
The voice of the Changeling names the day,
the day of the Basilisk, usurped
from the tyrant’s quest to know
how not to maim the Gilded Hind of
self knowledge
Licchavi sirens shortchanged of a renaissance
spread out cracked wooden arms,
split skulls of haunting beauty, smiling
Mud murtis made by nature distract
Goethean comments fearful of what is hidden
while the delicate head of Mahadev
whittled by the wind
still seals the lingam in the ancient temple
We look with Medusa’s eyes
at the first born fruits,
the full breasts of the river
where there is no infidelity

The golden larva w/ the royal face of Narayan,
hold it by its tail & call it by its name
Narayan, Narayan
it will dance for you & shake its head,
it lives only on air ‘we do not know if
it is alive or if it is dead, so gilded
its beauty
The face of Vishnu etches a dream of
ancient seas tinted w/ fallen light
Your face is everywhere
Your glory rings out over the peaks
capped w/ flame
Your shadow is enclosed within your shadow
You watch yourself falling
While falling you watch yourself looking down
You want to pick up the Tamang corpse
no one will touch
You call the children of darkness,
refute the wasted years of salt
poured into furrows
You see the thread needled to the hem of Night
betrayed by the shinbone of Day
where the fear is burned away
You look w/ basilisk eyes
turning the day to stone,
touched & transfigured
by the human, by the changing,
by the eternal, the always repeating


Insomnia On Duke Ellington Boulevard
July 14, Breakfast w/myself at the Olympia Diner, 106th & B’way
Fell asleep around 4 AM
w/ the TV on
Van Heflin & Barbara Stanwyck
enter my disturbed sleep
Sometimes the only way out
is to die, but happily
someone else escapes,
takes to the road, goes on
I’m up at seven, go to the post office.,
send two Cuban alligators
to Brussels,
the read Gabriel’s column in NEWSDAY
about the real meaning of the closet,
feel nauseous, order a hardboiled egg
which come w/out a shell
mashed in a cup
Is my heart, too, yearning
for its dying hour?
Please bring me one order
of cool snow!


If I could remember just a fraction
of what I said on the telephone
If he could take his clothes off
and sit on the banks of the Ganga
If she could see the profile of Caliban
in the smoke over the oilfieds
If we could just take off & go to Madagascar
If they would stop killing each other
and wake up tomorrow morning
w/ a new vision
I would stick my head in a printing press
and you could read tomorrow’s paper today:

Read all about it
Poets’ brains prove to be useful!

P.S. Sometimes when I pick up my pen
it leaks gold all over the tablecloth.


O lover – whosoever you are – know that the veils between you and your beloved – whosoever he might be – are nothing save your halt with things, not the things themselves; as said by the one who hasn’t tasted the flavour of realties. You have halted with things because of the shortcoming of your perception; that is, lack of penetration, expressed as the veil; and the veil is nonexistence and nonexistence is nothingness. Thus there is no veil, If the veils were true, then who got veiled from you, you should also have been in veil from him.

— Ibn ‘Arabī, The book of veils.

Trembling Blue Stars – All Eternal Things


Blessings Ira!

The Green Suede Cap…

TAO TE CHING – Chapter 64. Care at the Beginning & Care at the End

a. Care at the Beginning
What lies still is easy to grasp;
What lies far off is easy to anticipate;
What is brittle is easy to shatter;
What is small is easy to disperse.

Yet a tree broader than a man can embrace is born of a tiny shoot;
A dam greater than a river can overflow starts with a clod of earth;
A journey of a thousand miles begins at the spot under one’s feet.

Therefore deal with things before they happen;
Create order before there is confusion.

b. Care at the End
He who acts, spoils;
He who grasps, loses.
People often fail on the verge of success;
Take care at the end as at the beginning,
So that you may avoid failure.

The sage desires no-desire,
Values no-value,
Learns no-learning,
And returns to the places that people have forgotten;
He would help all people to become natural,
But then he would not be natural.
It’s been busy hectic here in Portland. My apologies for not being here as often as I have been. Lots of projects on the fire, Art work and editing. I am trying to organize my self out of the wet paper bag! With that said, I hope you enjoy this edition of Turfing!


On The Menu:
Invisible College 6h Edition Released!
The Green Suede Cap…
You are the one (feat. Devendra Banhart)
Aleksandr Blok, Revolutionary Poet
Devendra Banhart “Sight to behold” (Live)


The Invisible College Magazine 6th Edition Released!

So… The Invisible College Magazine 6th Edition is now out! You can see it at IC.Earthrites.org
I think it is a nice bit of collaborative work. Please take a look at the site, and if you feel so moved, please pick up a copy! New lower price as we have found another place to publish, and there is some brilliant work in this edition. From a great interview with Jim Fadiman by Diane Darling, another visit with Lyterphotos and his series, to the poetry of Bryce Milligan and Yahia Lababidi… from the art of Jim Harter, Chuck St. John, and Oleg Korolev and much more! This is a pivotal issue. Not to be missed!

The Green Suede Cap…

(Without the cap, with the jacket…)

I first met “The Cap” when I had just turned 17. It was a sight to behold, sitting on top of a wooden head in “The Leather Shoppe”, just off of Mt. Shasta Blvd next to Red Adams Realty in Mt. Shasta California (lovely place that). I walked into the store for the first time, and there it was. Green suede, yellow corduroy inner band. It was pretty snappy, and I desired it. The only problem was it was 9.00 dollars, and that was a lot of money back when the minimum wage was 98 cents per hour.

I got to know the owners of The Leather Shoppe, Sandie and Jim Sellers. They were up from Big Sur, and at that time in their mid 30′s, ex-beats now uber-hippies. I had sort of a crush on Sandie, she had long blond flowing hair to her waist, and soft Nordic features with extremely blue eyes. Jim was kind, thinnish with hair tied back. Both of them were sweet, and allowed me to hang out in their shop when I was in town. I would hang out and talk, and generally learn something new every time I went in.

Months past and that hat sat there unsold. I never lost my desire for it. I would make a bee-line for it every time I visited with Sandie and Jim. I had no idea about business, economics or what it took to keep a small shop open in a remote town. Slowly but surely the Sellers were losing it with their choice of location. I think the strain of it all was working against them. Still, they were kindness personified. A month before they closed up shop and left for Oregon, Sandie said to me when I came in the shop, “This is yours”, as she handed me the green suede cap. I was speechless, and then I thanked them profusely. They were absolutely beaming and laughing when I left the shop.

That cap went with me everywhere. About that time I had acquired a used dark brown leather jacket from the 1930′s, which in combination (to my eyes) were a very stylish set. With my little red book, and Mao pin in my label, I looked and felt the part of a young ardent revolutionary. (at least in style!) Whether I was hitchhiking up to Portland, or down to San Francisco via Highway 1, that cap went with me. When I went to Santa Cruz to hang, there it went, or to L.A. or Reno…

As the years went by, I would put it up on the shelf in the closest for months or years at a time. It traveled down to L.A. with me, and up to the Bay area. It sat in storage with friends when I went to Hawaii. A year later, it went with me to Europe, (along the way I had lost the leather jacket, and now had an old rain coat). The cap didn’t mind, it adapted easily. I wore it as I traveled the rails of Europe, from the Isle of Dogs, to the Hash bars along the canals of Amsterdam, to the cobbled stone streets of Freiburg and was with me when I first drank Absinthe. It crossed the Rhine with me and dallied awhile among the avenues of the Alsace Loraine. It was with me as I traveled back to Calaise, then across the Channel to Dover where in London I met Mary one Friday night.

It flew back to L.A. with us a year later, and landed eventually on a shelf where it stayed off and on for years. I nearly gave it away a couple of times, and nearly threw it away as I was going through changes and wanted to leave my past behind. Yet something stayed my hand. It went back to Europe with us, and wore it on lovely walks in Highgate Cemetery , in Wiltshire to Avebury and up Silbury Hill, and then on to the South Downs where I saw the Leylines stretching across the land illuminated like fire one dark afternoon. I wore it when I drove our Anglia out to the Devon, and up the moors to Bowden Farm.

We came back to California, and after a couple of years moved north to Washington. I was happy to have it that very cold winter, and eventually the cap made it back to Mt. Shasta when we moved south again. During the years, Sandie Sellers had moved back to Mt. Shasta, and we became friends again. She laughed when she saw the hat on me. It was a nice return. Sandie died a year later, and shortly after Jim passed in the Applegate in Southern Oregon. That year, Rowan was born. Life indeed had gone full circle. We left Mt. Shasta, never to come back except to visit. Doors do indeed close. I see Sandie still, laughing. The years have streamed by, but she is still there inside of me.

This old cap has seen wonders, drudgeries, debaucheries and moments of great beauty. It was with me in times of innocence, and times of hard scrabble. I wore it up to this last winter, where I went to get it, and it was gone. Not lost, but Rowan had borrowed it. This went on for a month or two, and I finally asked him if he wanted it. “Yes, I do” was his reply. I see him now leaving in the morning, an ardent young film-maker and general all around gentleman. I think it fits him better than it ever fit me.

There is a time for holding on, and a time for letting go. Everything has it’s time and everything eventually passes. I see the cap almost everyday. It kinda winks as it goes by. (to be continued…)


You are the one (feat. Devendra Banhart)


Aleksandr Blok, Revolutionary Poet

A Girl Sang a Song

A girl sang a song in the temple’s chorus,
About men, tired in alien lands,
About the ships that left native shores,
And all who forgot their joy to the end.

Thus sang her clean voice, and flew up to the highness,
And sunbeams shined on her shoulder’s white —
And everyone saw and heard from the darkness
The white and airy gown, singing in the light.

And all of them were sure, that joy would burst out:
The ships have arrived at their beach,
The people, in the land of the aliens tired,
Regaining their bearing, are happy and reach.

And sweet was her voice and the sun’s beams around….
And only, by Caesar’s Gates — high on the vault,
The baby, versed into mysteries, mourned,
Because none of them will be ever returned.

Gamajun, the Prophetic Bird

On waters, spread without end,
Dressed with the sunset so purple,
It sings and prophesies for land,
Unable to lift the smashed wings’ couple…
The charge of Tartars’ hordes it claims,
And bloody set of executions,
Earthquake, and hunger and the flames,
The death of justice, crime’s intrusion…
And caught with fear, cold and smooth,
The fair face flames as one of lovers’,
But sound with prophetic truth
The lips that the bloody foam covers!…

He, who was born

He, who was born in stagnant year
Does not remember own way.
We, kids of Russia’s years of fear,
Remember every night and day.

Years that burned everything to ashes!
Do you bring madness or grace?
The war’s and freedom’s fire flashes
Left bloody light on every face.

We are struck dumb: the toxsin’s pressure
Has made us tightly close lips.
In living hearts, once full of pleasure,
The fateful desert now sleeps.

And let the crying ravens soar
Right over our death-bed,
May those who were striving more,
O God, behold Thy Kingdom’s Great!

The Stranger

The restaurants on hot spring evenings
Lie under a dense and savage air.
Foul drafts and hoots from dunken revelers
Contaminate the thoroughfare.
Above the dusty lanes of suburbia
Above the tedium of bungalows
A pretzel sign begilds a bakery
And children screech fortissimo.

And every evening beyond the barriers
Gentlemen of practiced wit and charm
Go strolling beside the drainage ditches —
A tilted derby and a lady at the arm.

The squeak of oarlocks comes over the lake water
A woman’s shriek assaults the ear
While above, in the sky, inured to everything,
The moon looks on with a mindless leer.

And every evening my one companion
Sits here, reflected in my glass.
Like me, he has drunk of bitter mysteries.
Like me, he is broken, dulled, downcast.

The sleepy lackeys stand beside tables
Waiting for the night to pass
And tipplers with the eyes of rabbits
Cry out: “In vino veritas!”

And every evening (or am I imagining?)
Exactly at the appointed time
A girl’s slim figure, silk raimented,
Glides past the window’s mist and grime.

And slowly passing throught the revelers,
Unaccompanied, always alone,
Exuding mists and secret fragrances,
She sits at the table that is her own.

Something ancient, something legendary
Surrounds her presence in the room,
Her narrow hand, her silk, her bracelets,
Her hat, the rings, the ostrich plume.

Entranced by her presence, near and enigmatic,
I gaze through the dark of her lowered veil
And I behold an enchanted shoreline
And enchanted distances, far and pale.

I am made a guardian of the higher mysteries,
Someone’s sun is entrusted to my control.
Tart wine has pierced the last convolution
of my labyrinthine soul.

And now the drooping plumes of ostriches
Asway in my brain droop slowly lower
And two eyes, limpid, blue, and fathomless
Are blooming on a distant shore.

Inside my soul a treasure is buried.
The key is mine and only mine.
How right you are, you drunken monster!
I know: the truth is in the wine.


Devendra Banhart “Sight to behold” (Live)


Shape Shifter…

Even a man who is pure in heart
and says his prayers by night
may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms
and the autumn moon is bright….

Shape Shifter: Perhaps one of the subjects that I have long been fascinated with. Picture this, a seven year old on a Saturday afternoon turns the channel to a film he thinks is about science.  In the film, one of the scientist tries out a serum that transforms him into a primitive cannibalistic human who runs amok, and as the serum wears off, returns to himself.  He eventually becomes hopelessly addicted to the serum, mayhem ensues. Scientist attacks everyone, family, fellow scientist until he is fatally wounded, and is transformed back to a human as he dies and the credits roll. Said seven year old has been unable to tear himself away from the screen. A month of nightmares follows, with all the attending problems this brings. Claws at the windows, monsters under the bed. Night mares sitting on the chest, the whole package. After all these years, though he has come to enjoy some of the genre, prefers his monsters not to first be humans. Much prefers them to come ready made with fur, or scales, thank you, thank you!

Thus began a long fascination with shapeshifting. It has led down many an odd path, from Greek mythology, to legal papers from trial in Europe in the 1700′s. I have studied the cave paintings, and read the legends from around the world, from Indonesia, India, Siberia, across the Americas… it is a common theme to almost all peoples. I have seen people in trance take on the behaviour and outward (no not fur but stance) of various creatures. It is fascinating.

What is going on? Is there a part of us that has been tamped down but still exist? Does that part only come out as nightmare, or aberrant behaviour generally? (You know, eating the neighbors etc…) Films usually portray werewolves as being at odds with their nature, or complicit in the act. It always is portrayed as a curse. I think something happened when we turned to agriculture that buried this part of our psychi and make up.

As I grew older I moved on to Lon Chaney’s works, and various other re-interpretations of the old tale. My favourite of recent years (if you count 30 years as being such) are three films, “An American Werewolf In London, “A Company Of Wolves”. and the French film “The Brotherhood Of The Wolf”. All examine the myth from different angles, and in the mix I fall out to A Company of Wolves as my favourite, though I thoroughly enjoy and find deep meaning in the other two.

What goes on in the dream world? What do we summon up, and then dismiss with the coming of awakening? Where do we really dwell, here, or in our dreams?


On The Menu:
Shape Shifting Quotes
The Company of Wolves-The Wolfgirl
Poetry About Werewolves
The Wolfman – Trailer 1925
Becoming An Animal – Secret Life of Ghosts & Werewolves
Shape Shifting Quotes:

The outward form of things passes away, but the essence remains for ever. How long will you be besotted with the shape of the jug? Cast aside the jug, and seek the water. If you look too closely at the form, you miss the essence. If you are wise, you will always pick out the pearl from the shell.
– Rumi, “Masnavi”

Shape-shifting. We do it for kicks. – Wolfen 1981

♦ David: I’m a werewolf.
♦ Alex: Are you alright?
♦ David: I don’t know, I’ll let you know the next full moon.
An American Werewolf in London

♦ Little girls, this seems to say, never stop upon your way, never trust a stranger friend, no-one knows how it will end! As you’re pretty, so be wise! Wolves may lurk in every guise! Now, as then, it’s simple truth, sweetest tongue has sharpest tooth!
Rosaleen, The Company of Wolves
The Company of Wolves-The Wolfgirl


Poetry About Werewolves..

The Werewolves
– Wilfred Campbell

They hasten, still they hasten,
From the even to the dawn;
And their tired eyes gleam and glisten
Under north skies white and wan.
Each panter in the darkness
Is a demon-haunted soul,
The shadowy, phantom werewolves,
Who circle round the Pole.

Their tongues are crimson flaming,
Their haunted blue eyes gleam,
And they strain them to the utmost
O’er frozen lake and stream;
Their cry one note of agony,
That is neither yelp nor bark,
These panters of the northern waste,
Who hound them to the dark.

You may hear their hurried breathing,
You may see their fleeting forms,
At the pallid polar midnight,
When the north is gathering storms;
When the arctic frosts are flaming,
And the ice-field thunders roll;
These demon-haunted werewolves,
Who circle round the Pole.

They hasten, still they hasten,
Across the northern night,
Filled with a frighted madness,
A horror of the light;
Forever and forever,
Like leaves before the wind,
They leave the wan, white gleaming
Of the dawning far behind.

Their only peace is darkness,
Their rest to hasten on
Into the heart of midnight,
Forever from the dawn.
Across far phantom ice-floes
The eye of night may mark
These horror-haunted werewolves
Who hound them to the dark.

All through this hideous journey
They are the souls of men
Who in the far dark-ages
Made Europe one black fen.
They fled from courts and convents,
And bound their mortal dust
With demon, wolfish girdles
Of human hate and lust.

These, who could have been godlike,
Chose, each a loathsome beast,
Amid the heart’s foul graveyards,
On putrid thoughts to feast;
But the great God who made them
Gave each a human soul,
And so ‘mid night forever
They circle round the Pole.

A-praying for the blackness,
A-longing for the night,
For each is doomed forever
By a horror of the light;
And far in the heart of midnight,
Where their shadowy flight is hurled,
They feel with pain the dawning
That creeps in round the world.

Under the northern midnight,
The white, glint ice upon,
They hasten, still they hasten,
With their horror of the dawn;
Forever and forever,
Into the night away
They hasten, still they hasten
Unto the judgment day.

The Wolfman – Trailer 1925

The Werewolf
by: Anne S. Bushby

‘Twas at the middle hour of night;
And though the moon gave her pale light,
O’er the haunted wood a thick mist hung
And the wind was howling its leaves among.
In a cart along that way so wild
A peasant was driving his wife and child.

“For the fairy folks thou need’st fear not,
They dance ‘neath the moon on yon green spot.
Should the screech-owl cry from yonder marsh
Say a prayer, nor heed its voice so harsh.
Whate’er thou seest, be not afraid,
But clasp the child,” the faither said.

“Forward, old horse! Behind yon tree
Our church’s steeple I can see.
Get on! But hold, a moment stop–
The linch-pin is about to drop;
‘Tis crack’d–I’ll cut a stick, my dear;
Hold fast the child, and have no fear!”

An hour alone she might have sat,
When a noise she heard–”Oh, what is that?”
Lo! a coal-black hound! She sees and knows
The werewolf! while his teeth he shows,
And glares upon her child, she flings
Her apron o’er it as he springs.

His sharp teeth bite it; but she cries
To God for help, away he flies.
Her arms the helpless babe enfold,
She sits like a statue, pale and cold.
But soon her husband’s by her side,
And onwards now they safely ride.

Arrived at home, a light is brought;
She starts, as with some horrid thought:
“What? Husband! husband! can these be
Threads hanging from thy teeth I see?
Thou art thyself a werewolf then!”
“Thy words,” he said, “have set me free again!”

Becoming An Animal – Secret Life of Ghosts & Werewolves


The Baal Fires…

“As it fell upon a day
In the merry month of May,
Sitting in a pleasant shade
Which a grove of myrtles made.”
– Richard Barnfield

“Now the bright morning star, day’s harbinger,
Comes dancing from the east, and leads with her
The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
The yellow cowslip, and the pale primrose.
Hail, bounteous May, that doth inspire
Mirth, and youth, and warm desire;
Woods and groves are of thy dressing,
Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing,
Thus we salute thee with our early song,
And welcome thee, and wish thee long.”
– John Milton, Song on a May Morning

My Darling Friends,

I would light the Baal Fires with you, and drive the cattle through. We would dance and carouse to the early morn, and drink of the crimson loving cup, and mark this moment in the ancient way…

Here is to Lighting The Baal Fires, here is to the May Dance. A high Holy Night and Day, of laughter, drink, and romance!

Join us, for the apex of Spring has come!

Bright Blessings,
Gaia Consort – Beltane Fires

“The May-pole is up,
Now give me the cup;
I’ll drink to the garlands around it;
But first unto those
Whose hands did compose
The glory of flowers that crown’d it.”
– Robert Herrick, The Maypole, 1660

“On the first day of May the people of the crofter townland are up betimes and busy as bees about to swarm. This is the day of migrating, bho baile gu beinn (from townland to moorland), from the winter homestead to the summer sheiling. The summer of their joy is come, the summer of the sheiling, the song, the pipe and the dance, when the people ascend the hill to the clustered bothies, overlooking the distant sea from among the fronded ferns and fragrant heather, where neighbour meets neighbour, and lover meets lover.”
– Alexander Carmichael, 1845

“Flora, , Goddess of Spring, Flowers, and youthful pleasures The Queen of Spring is a beautiful and serene Goddess. She was married to Zephyrus, the west wind. Flora is the twin sister to Faunus, the god of wild creatures, originally was called Sabine was also known as Chloris to the Greeks. It was a celebration of Nature in full blossom, a carnival of sexual fun and liberty and marked by the consumption of oceans of grog. Beans and other seeds were planted, representing fecundity. Originally a movable feast controlled by the condition of the crops and flowers, it’s believed to have been instituted in 238 BCE under the command of an oracle in the Sibylline books, with the purpose of gaining from the goddess the protection of the blossoms. Games were instituted in honour of Flora at that time, but were soon discontinued before being restored in 173 BCE in the consulship of L Postumius Albinus and M Popilius Laenas as a six-day festival, after storms had destroyed crops and vines. Offerings of milk and honey were made on this day and the surrounding five days, which comprise the Florifertum. The city would have been decorated in flowers, and the people would wear floral wreaths or flowers in their hair. Day and night there were games, pantomimes, theatre and stripteases with people of all classes in their brightest clothes. Goats and hares were let loose as they represented fertility. Gift-giving for the season included small vegetables as tokens of sex and fertility.”
– May Day and the Roman Floralia

“Cherry-ripe, ripe, ripe, I cry,
Full and fair ones; come and buy.
If so be you ask me where
They do grow, I answer: There,
Where my Julia’s lips do smile;
There’s the land, or cherry-isle,
Whose plantations fully show
All the year where cherries grow.”
– Robert Herrick, Cherry Ripe, 1648

“I [Flora/Chloris] enjoy perpetual spring: the year always shines, trees are leafing, the solid always fodders. I have a fruitful garden in my dowered fields, fanned by breezes, fed by limpid fountains. My husband filled it with well-bred flowers, saying: ‘Have jurisdiction of the flower, goddess.’ I often wanted to number the colors displayed, but could not: their abundance defied measure. As soon as the dewy frost is cast from the leaves and sunbeams warm the dappled blossom, the Horae (Seasons) assemble, hitch up their colored dresses and collect these gifts of mine in light tubs. Suddenly the Charites (Graces) burst in, and weave chaplets and crowns to entwine the hair of gods. I first scattered new seed across countless nations; earth was formerly a single colour. I first made a flower from Therapnean blood [Hyakinthos the hyacinth], and its petal still inscribes the lament. You, too, narcissus, have a name in tended gardens, unhappy in your undivided self. Why mention Crocus, Attis or Cinyras’ son, from whose wounds I made a tribute soar?”
– Ovid, Fasti 5.193
Narsilion – Beltane


“May, queen of blossoms,
And fulfilling flowers,
With what pretty music
Shall we charm the hours?
Wilt thou have pipe and reed,
Blown in the open mead?
Or to the lute give heed
In the green bowers.”
– Lord Edward Thurlow, To May

“There is a garden in her face
Where roses and white lilies blow;
A heavenly paradise is that place,
Wherein all pleasant fruits do flow:
There cherries grow which none may buy
Till ‘Cherry-ripe’ themselves do cry.

Those cherries fairly do enclose
Of orient pearl a double row,
Which when her lovely laughter shows,
They look like rose-buds fill’d with snow;
Yet them nor peer nor prince can buy
Till ‘Cherry-ripe’ themselves do cry.

Her eyes like angels watch them still;
Her brows like bended bows do stand,
Threat’ning with piercing frowns to kill
All that attempt with eye or hand
Those sacred cherries to come nigh,
Till ‘Cherry-ripe’ themselves do cry.”
– Thomas Champion, Cherry Ripe, 1610

“Maia is the Oscan Earth-Goddess, and an ancient Roman Goddess of springtime, warmth, and increase. She causes the plants to grow through Her gentle heat, and the month of May is probably named for Her. Her name means “She Who is Great”, and is related to Oscan mais and Latin majus, both of which mean “more”. She is also called Maia Maiestas, “Maia the Majestic”, which is essentially a doubling of Her name to indicate Her power, as both “Maia” and “Maiestas” have their roots in latin magnus, “great or powerful”. She was honored by the Romans on the 1st and 15th of May, and at the Volcanalia of August 23rd, the holiday of Her sometimes husband, the Fire-God Vulcan. She seems to have been paired with Vulcan because they were both considered Deities of heat: through the increasing warmth of Maia’s spring season flowers and plants sprouted and grew; while Vulcan’s stronger summer heat brought the fruits to ripeness. In a later period, Maia was confused with a Greek Goddess of the same name. This Maia (whose name in Greek can take such various meanings as “midwife”, “female doctor”, “good mother”, “foster mother”, or “aunty”) was a nymph and the mother of Hermes, the trickster God of merchants, travellers, and liars; She was also said to have been the eldest and most beautiful of the seven sisters who formed the constellation of the Pleiades, whose heliacal rising (meaning when the constellation is just visible in the east before the sun rises) signalled the beginning of summer. Through this association the Roman Maia became the mother of Mercury, and Her festival on the Ides of May (the 15th) coincided with the festival commemorating the date of the dedication of His temple on the Aventine.”
– Maia Maiestas, Goddess of Spring

“For the May Day is the great day,
Sung along the old straight track.
And those who ancient lines did ley
Will heed this song that calls them back…
Pass the cup, and pass the Lady,
And pass the plate to all who hunger,
Pass the wit of ancient wisdom,
Pass the cup of crimson wonder.”
– Jethro Tull, Cup of Wonder

“For thee, sweet month; the groves green liveries wear.
If not the first, the fairest of the year;
For thee the Graces lead the dancing hours,
And Nature’s ready pencil paints the flowers.
When thy short reign is past, the feverish sun
The sultry tropic fears, and moves more slowly on.”
– John Dryden

Corvus Corax – Saltarello Ductia