Samhain Portal

This Entry is a bit of a hybrid: usually I post just on the traditions of the Celtic/Pagan world, but this one includes elements from Haiti, the deep South, as well as Ireland. It is a bit of a mix, but one I have enjoyed putting together. I hope your Samhain/Halloween is a grand occassion, on this the thinnest night and day between the worlds..

Bright Blessings,
On The Menue:
Edgar Allan Poe Quotes
Muddy Waters – Louisiana Blues
The Ghost of Sneem
The Poetry Of Poe…
Dr. John – I Walk On Giilded Splinters
Edgar Allan Poe Quotes:

Madness vs. Intelligence:
“Men have called me mad; but the question is not yet settled, whether madness is or is not the loftiest intelligence– whether much that is glorious– whether all that is profound– does not spring from disease of thought– from moods of mind exalted at the expense of the general intellect.”
– from “Eleonora”

“But as in ethics, evil is a consequence of good, so in fact, out of joy is sorrow born. Either the memory of past bliss is the anguish of today, or the agonies which are have their origin in the ecstasies which might have been.”
– from “Berenice”
“They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”
– from “Eleonora”

“She was a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of glee. And evil was the hour when she saw, and loved, and wedded the painter. He, passionate, studious, austere, and having already a bride in his Art; she a maiden of rarest beauty, and not more lovely than full of glee; all light and smiles, and frolicsome as the young fawn; loving and cherishing all things; hating only the Art which was her rival;”
– from “The Oval Portrait”
“There are moments when, even to the sober eye of Reason, the world of our sad Humanity may assume the semblance of a Hell — but the imagination of man is no Carathis, to explore with impunity its every cavern. Alas! the grim legion of sepulchral terrors cannot be regarded as altogether fanciful — but, like the Demons in whose company Afrasiab made his voyage down the Oxus, they must sleep, or they will devour us — they must be suffered to slumber, or we perish.”
– from “The Premature Burial”

Muddy Waters – Louisiana Blues

The Ghost of Sneem

Some time after Pat Doyle was killed by the ghost, my husband, Martin Doyle, was at work on an estate at some distance from Sneem, and one evening the gentleman who employed Martin told him to go that night on an errand to Sneem.

“Well,” said he, “it’s too late and the road is very lonesome. There is no one to care for my mother but me, and if anything should happen to me she’d be without support. I’ll go in the morning.”

“That will not do,” said the gentleman: “I want to send a letter, and it must be delivered to-night.”

“I’ll not risk it; I’ll not go,” said Martin.

Martin had a cousin James, who heard the conversation and, stepping up, he said, “I’ll go. I am not afraid of ghost or spirit, and many a night have I spent on that road.”

The gentleman thanked him and said:

“Here is a sword for you, if you need it.” He gave James the letter with directions for delivering it.

James started off, and took every short cut and by-path, and when he thought he was half-way to Sneem a ghost stood before him in the road, and began to make at him. Whenever the ghost came near, James made a drive at him with the steel sword, for there is great virtue in steel, and above all in steel made by an Irish blacksmith. The ghost was darting at James, and he driving at the ghost with his sword till he came to a cross-road near Sneem. There the ghost disappeared, and James hurried on with great speed to Sneem. There he found that the gentleman who was to receive the letter had moved to a place six miles away, near Blackwater bridge, half-way between Sneem and Kenmare. The place has a very bad name to this day, and old people declare that there is no night without spirits and headless people being around Blackwater bridge. James knew what the place was, but he made up his mind to deliver the letter. When he came to the bridge and was going to cross it a ghost attacked him. This ghost had a venomous look and was stronger than the first one. He ran twice at James, who struck at him with the sword. Just then he saw a big man without a head running across the road at the other side of the bridge and up the cliff, though there was no path there. The ghost stopped attacking and ran after the headless man. James crossed the bridge and walked a little farther, when he met a stranger, and the two saluted each other and the man asked James where he lived, and he said: “I came from Drumfada.” “Do you know what time it is?” asked James. “I do not; but when I was passing that house just below there the cocks were beginning to crow. Did you see anything?” “I did,” said James, and he told him how the ghost attacked him and then ran away up the cliff after the headless man.

“Oh,” said the stranger, “that headless body is always roaming around the bridge at night; hundreds of people have seen it. It ran up the cliff and disappeared at cock-crow, and the ghost that attacked you followed when the cocks crowed.”

The stranger went on and James delivered the letter. The man who received it was very thankful and paid him well. James came home safe and sound, but he said: “I’d be a dead man this day but for the steel.”

“Could you tell me a real fairy tale?” asked I of the old woman. “I could,” said she, “but to-day I’ll tell you only what I saw one night beyond Cahirciveen:

Once I spent the night at a house near Waterville, about six miles from Derrynane. The woman of the house was lying in bed at the time and a young child with her. The husband heard an infant crying outside under the window, and running to the bed he said:

“Yerra, Mary, have you the child with you?”
“Indeed, then, I have, John.”

“Well, I heard a child crying under the window. I’ll go this minute and see whose it is.”
“In the name of God,” screamed the wife, “stop inside! Get the holy water and sprinkle it over the children and over me and yourself.”
He did this, and then sprinkled some in the kitchen. He heard the crying go off farther and farther till it seemed half a mile away: it was very pitiful and sad. If he had gone to the door the man of the house would have got a fairy stroke and the mother would have been taken as a nurse to the fort.

This is all the old woman told. When going she promised to come on the following day, but I have not seen her since. The blind man informed me some evenings later that she was sick and in the “ashpitl” (hospital). Her sickness was caused, as she said, by telling me tales in the daytime. Many of the old people will tell tales only in the evening; it is not right, not lucky, to do so during daylight.

The Poetry Of Poe…

The Bells

HEAR the sledges with the bells –
Silver bells !
What a world of merriment their melody foretells !
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night !
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight ;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells –
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.


Hear the mellow wedding bells
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells !
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight !
From the molten-golden notes,
And all in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon !
Oh, from out the sounding cells,
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells !
How it swells !
How it dwells
On the Future ! how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells –
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells !


Hear the loud alarum bells –
Brazen bells !
What tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells !
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright !
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire,
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor
Now — now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells !
What a tale their terror tells
Of Despair !
How they clang, and clash, and roar !
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air !
Yet the ear, it fully knows,
By the twanging,
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows ;
Yet, the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells –
Of the bells –
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells –
In the clamour and the clangour of the bells !


Hear the tolling of the bells –
Iron bells !
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels !
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy meaning of their tone !
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people — ah, the people –
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All alone,
And who, tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone –
They are neither man nor woman –
They are neither brute nor human –
They are Ghouls: –
And their king it is who tolls ;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls, rolls,
A pæan from the bells !
And his merry bosom swells
With the pæan of the bells !
And he dances, and he yells ;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the pæan of the bells –
Of the bells :
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells –
Of the bells, bells, bells –
To the sobbing of the bells ;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells –
Of the bells, bells, bells –
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells –
Bells, bells, bells –
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

The Haunted Palace

In the greenest of our valleys
By good angels tenanted,
Once a fair and stately palace-
Radiant palace- reared its head.
In the monarch Thought’s dominion-
It stood there!
Never seraph spread a pinion
Over fabric half so fair!
Banners yellow, glorious, golden,
On its roof did float and flow,
(This- all this- was in the olden
Time long ago,)
And every gentle air that dallied,
In that sweet day,
Along the ramparts plumed and pallid,
A winged odor went away.

Wanderers in that happy valley,
Through two luminous windows, saw
Spirits moving musically,
To a lute’s well-tuned law,
Round about a throne where, sitting
In state his glory well-befitting,
The ruler of the realm was seen.

And all with pearl and ruby glowing
Was the fair palace door,
Through which came flowing, flowing, flowing,
And sparkling evermore,
A troop of Echoes, whose sweet duty
Was but to sing,
In voices of surpassing beauty,
The wit and wisdom of their king.

But evil things, in robes of sorrow,
Assailed the monarch’s high estate.
(Ah, let us mourn!- for never morrow
Shall dawn upon him desolate!)
And round about his home the glory
That blushed and bloomed,
Is but a dim-remembered story
Of the old time entombed.

And travellers, now, within that valley,
Through the red-litten windows see
Vast forms, that move fantastically
To a discordant melody,
While, like a ghastly rapid river,
Through the pale door
A hideous throng rush out forever
And laugh- but smile no more.

The Conqueror Worm

Lo! ’tis a gala night
Within the lonesome latter years!
An angel throng, bewinged, bedight
In veils, and drowned in tears,
Sit in a theatre, to see
A play of hopes and fears,
While the orchestra breathes fitfully
The music of the spheres.
Mimes, in the form of God on high,
Mutter and mumble low,
And hither and thither fly-
Mere puppets they, who come and go
At bidding of vast formless things
That shift the scenery to and fro,
Flapping from out their Condor wings
Invisible Woe!

That motley drama- oh, be sure
It shall not be forgot!
With its Phantom chased for evermore,
By a crowd that seize it not,
Through a circle that ever returneth in
To the self-same spot,
And much of Madness, and more of Sin,
And Horror the soul of the plot.

But see, amid the mimic rout
A crawling shape intrude!
A blood-red thing that writhes from out
The scenic solitude!
It writhes!- it writhes!- with mortal pangs
The mimes become its food,
And seraphs sob at vermin fangs
In human gore imbued.

Out- out are the lights- out all!
And, over each quivering form,
The curtain, a funeral pall,
Comes down with the rush of a storm,
While the angels, all pallid and wan,
Uprising, unveiling, affirm
That the play is the tragedy, “Man,”
And its hero the Conqueror Worm.


Dr. John – I Walk On Giilded Splinters


On The Wing…

“In dreams begin responsibilities.” ― W.B. Yeats

“I bring you with reverent hands
The books of my numberless dreams.”

A return to theme, of seminal poetry, tales and art. Thursday night, the rains are sliding in, and a chill is on the city. Step outside, the sky is crisp, and the winds pick up. So Alive.

Here is to the coming Samhain.


On The Menu:
W.B Yeats Quotes
The Six Parts Seven – In a Late Style of Fire
The Recovered Bride
The Poetry: William Butler Yeats
The Six Parts Seven – Knock At My Door
Art: Max Ernst

W.B Yeats Quotes:
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

“Faeries, come take me out of this dull world,
“For I would ride with you upon the wind,
Run on the top of the dishevelled tide,
And dance upon the mountains like a flame.” ― The land of heart’s Desire

“What can be explained is not poetry.”

“Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry.”

The Six Parts Seven – In a Late Style of Fire

The Recovered Bride

There was a marriage in the townland of Curragraigue. After the usual festivities, and when the guests were left to themselves, and were drinking to the prosperity of the bride and bridegroom, they were startled by the appearance of the man himself rushing into the room with anguish in his looks.

“Oh!” cried he, “Margaret is carried away by the fairies, I’m sure. The girls were not left the room for half a minute when I went in, and there is no more sign of her there than if she never was born.”

Great consternation prevailed, great search was made, but no Margaret was to be found. After a night and day spent in misery, the poor bridegroom laid down to take some rest. In a while he seemed to himself to awake from a troubled dream, and look out into the room. The moon was shining in through the window, and in the middle of the slanting rays stood Margaret in her white bridal clothes. He thought to speak and leap out of the bed, but his tongue was without utterance, and his limbs unable to move.

“Do not be disturbed, dear husband,” said the appearance; “I am now in the power of the fairies, but if you only have courage and prudence we may be soon happy with each other again. Next Friday will be May-eve, and the whole court will ride out of the old fort after midnight. I must be there along with the rest. Sprinkle a circle with holy water, and have a black-hafted knife with you. If you have courage to pull me off the horse, and draw me into the ring, all they can do will be useless. You must have some food for me every night on the dresser, for if I taste one mouthful with them, I will be lost to you forever. The fairies got power over me because I was only thinking of you, and did not prepare myself as I ought for the sacrament. I made a bad confession, and now I am suffering for it. Don’t forget what I have said.”

“Oh, no, my darling,” cried he, recovering his speech, but by the time he had slipped out of bed, there was no living soul in the room but himself.

Till Friday night the poor young husband spent a desolate time. The food was left on the dresser over night, and it rejoiced all hearts to find it vanished by morning. A little before midnight he was at the entrance of the old rath. He formed the circle, took his station within it, and kept the black-hafted knife ready for service. At times he was nervously afraid of losing his dear wife, and at others burning with impatience for the struggle.

At last the old fort with its dark high bushy fences cutting against the sky, was in a moment replaced by a palace and its court. A thousand lights flashed from the windows and lofty hall entrance; numerous torches were brandished by attendants stationed round the courtyard; and a numerous cavalcade of richly attired ladies and gentlemen was moving in the direction of the gate where he found himself standing.

As they rode by him laughing and jesting, he could not tell whether they were aware of his presence or not. He looked intent at each countenance as it approached, but it was some time before he caught sight of the dear face and figure borne along on a milk-white steed. She recognized him well enough, and her features now broke into a smile — now expressed deep anxiety.

She was unable for the throng to guide the animal close to the ring of power; so he suddenly rushed out of his bounds, seized her in his arms, and lifted her off. Cries of rage and fury arose on every side; they were hemmed in, and weapons were directed at his head and breast to terrify him. He seemed to be inspired with superhuman courage and force, and wielding the powerful knife he soon cleared a space round him, all seeming dismayed by the sight of the weapon. He lost no time, but drew his wife within the ring, within which none of the myriads round dared to enter. Shouts of derision and defiance continued to fill the air for some time, but the expedition could not be delayed.

As the end of the procession filed past the gate and the circle within which the mortal pair held each other determinedly clasped, darkness and silence fell on the old rath and the fields round it, and the rescued bride and her lover breathed freely. We will not detain the sensitive reader on the happy walk home, on the joy that hailed their arrival, and on all the eager gossip that occupied the townland and the five that surround it for a month after the happy rescue.

The Poetry: William Butler Yeats

The Harp of Aengus

Edain came out of Midhir’s hill, and lay
Beside young Aengus in his tower of glass,
Where time is drowned in odour-laden winds
And Druid moons, and murmuring of boughs,
And sleepy boughs, and boughs where apples made
Of opal and ruhy and pale chrysolite
Awake unsleeping fires; and wove seven strings,
Sweet with all music, out of his long hair,
Because her hands had been made wild by love.
When Midhir’s wife had changed her to a fly,
He made a harp with Druid apple-wood
That she among her winds might know he wept;
And from that hour he has watched over none
But faithful lovers.

Her Praise

She is foremost of those that I would hear praised.
I have gone about the house, gone up and down
As a man does who has published a new book,
Or a young girl dressed out in her new gown,
And though I have turned the talk by hook or crook
Until her praise should be the uppermost theme,
A woman spoke of some new tale she had read,
A man confusedly in a half dream
As though some other name ran in his head.
She is foremost of those that I would hear praised.
I will talk no more of books or the long war
But walk by the dry thorn until I have found
Some beggar sheltering from the wind, and there
Manage the talk until her name come round.
If there be rags enough he will know her name
And be well pleased remembering it, for in the old days,
Though she had young men’s praise and old men’s blame,
Among the poor both old and young gave her praise.
To A Young Girl

My dear, my dear, I know
More than another
What makes your heart beat so;
Not even your own mother
Can know it as I know,
Who broke my heart for her
When the wild thought,
That she denies
And has forgot,
Set all her blood astir
And glittered in her eyes.

The Seven Sages

The First. My great-grandfather spoke to Edmund Burke
In Grattan’s house.
The Second. My great-grandfather shared
A pot-house bench with Oliver Goldsmith once.
The Third. My great-grandfather’s father talked of music,
Drank tar-water with the Bishop of Cloyne.
The Fourth. But mine saw Stella once.
The Fifth. Whence came our thought?
The Sixth. From four great minds that hated Whiggery.
The Fifth. Burke was a Whig.
The Sixth. Whether they knew or not,
Goldsmith and Burke, Swift and the Bishop of Cloyne
All hated Whiggery; but what is Whiggery?
A levelling, rancorous, rational sort of mind
That never looked out of the eye of a saint
Or out of drunkard’s eye.
The Seventh. All’s Whiggery now,
But we old men are massed against the world.
The First. American colonies, Ireland, France and India
Harried, and Burke’s great melody against it.
The Second. Oliver Goldsmith sang what he had seen,
Roads full of beggars, cattle in the fields,
But never saw the trefoil stained with blood,
The avenging leaf those fields raised up against it.
The Fourth. The tomb of Swift wears it away.
The Third. A voice
Soft as the rustle of a reed from Cloyne
That gathers volume; now a thunder-clap.
The Sixtb. What schooling had these four?
The Seventh. They walked the roads
Mimicking what they heard, as children mimic;
They understood that wisdom comes of beggary.

The Six Parts Seven – Knock At My Door

“Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
― W.B. Yeats

Wonder Wheel…

Working on Art, watching the day flow by. This is a gathering of items that I have been wanting to post for awhile. Leander Valdes’s article on Salvia was the first work that I read on Salvia Divinorum. We were in communication for quite awhile, now out of touch for at least 12 years. Leander, if you are out there, drop a line!

I have included another couple of songs from Bert Jansch. Love his work. His passing has coloured the past couple of weeks. Here is a link on him: The Guardian Bert Jansch Obituary He was from Mary’s home town, but I had the pleasure of introducing her to his, and Pentangle’s music.

Hope This Finds You And Yours Well,

On The Menu:
The Quotes
Bert Jansch – Sweet Death
The Early History of Salvia Divinorum
Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Poems
Science Saved My Soul
Bert Jansch – Dreams Of Love
The Quotes:
Rudyard Kipling: “Take everything you like seriously, except yourselves.”
Inigo DeLeon: “The cure for writer’s cramp is writer’s block.”
Leo Tolstoy: “Historians are like deaf people who go on answering questions that no one has asked them.”
Bertrand Russell: It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.”

Bert Jansch – Sweet Death

The Early History of Salvia Divinorum
Leander J. Valdés III

(Salvia – Dana Vallery)
Unless you believe that Salvia divinorum is the old Mexica (Aztec) narcotic plant pipiltzintzintli (I don’t), the story of this fascinating mint began in the late 1930s. When R. Gordon Wasson and Albert Hoffman brought back material for Carl Epling to identify (Wasson 1962, 1963; Epling and Játiva-M 1962), they ended a search that had lasted nearly a quarter of a century. Their party traveled through Oaxaca under the auspices of a famous Mexican anthropologist, Roberto Weitlaner (an Austrian by birth), who had been guiding expeditions to Oaxaca for decades (Pompa y Pompa 1966). I’ve quoted everything relative to S. divinorum from each of the following rather rare references, translating to English where necessary.

In the summer of 1938 Jean B. Johnson, Weitlaner’s son-in-law, visited the Mazatec town of Huautla de Jiminéz, Oaxaca, with a group of young anthropologists. He wrote a couple of articles based on their findings. The first one covered various aspects of Mazatec culture and language. In the section on curing and witchcraft he discussed the magic mushrooms:

Shamans, as well as other persons, use certain narcotic plants in order to find lost objects. In some cases teonanacatl is used, while in others a seed called “semilla de la Virgen” is used. “Hierba María” is similarly used. The Zapotecs use a plant called “bador”, the little children, and the Aztecs used narcotic plants in a similar manner(Johnson 1939a).

“Semilla de la Virgen” is “the Virgin’s seed,” and “Hierba (or Yerba) María” is Mary’s herb, both refer to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. In the second article Johnson covered the activities of Mazatec shamans in greater detail. It is an excellent and interesting source of information, being based on interviews with a shaman. Concerning the Mazatec trio of magic plants he wrote:

To find a lost animal or object, one takes some mushrooms at night. One commences to speak (after falling asleep). It is not permitted to keep an animal around which might cry out and disturb the sleeper, who goes on speaking while another person listens. The sleeper tells where the lost animal or thing is, and the next day, there it is when they go to find it. In addition to the mushrooms, some people use a seed called “Semilla de la Virgen”, others use “Hierba Maria” …The use of various magical plants to find lost objects is not restricted to the Mazatec alone; the Zapotec use a plant called “bador, the little children,” which is administered the same way as yerba Maria by the Mazatec. The leaf is beaten well, and a tea is made thereof. It is probable that the Chinantec use it, since it well known to those who live in the vicinity of Ojitlan. The Aztecs used narcotic plants in a similar way (Johnson 1939b).

Bador, or badoh, was later identified as the morning glory, Rivea corymbosa, and it is the seeds that are used, not the leaves (Wasson 1963). Johnson was killed in Africa during World War II.

Blas P.Reko, like Weitlaner, was an Austrian expatriate. He was a doctor and naturalist, and often worked in collaboration with the anthropologist (Reko 1945; Pompa y Pompa 1966). In his book on medicinal plants, he wrote:

I cannot leave unmentioned here another magical plant whose leaves produce visions and which the Cuicatecs and Mazatecs (of the districts of Cuicatlán and Teotitlán) call “leaf of prophecy.” The loose leaves I have obtained do not allow its scientific identification at the present time.

Teotitlán is in the Valley of Oaxaca, in the upper central part of the state. It is Mazatec country. Cuicatlán is the district directly adjacent to the southeast. A search engine such as GoogleTM can find you some good maps. As an aside, the credit for discovering the magic mushrooms has been given to Richard Schultes (1939), and later R.G. Wasson. Actually, at the time Schultes was in the Sierra Mazateca, working on his PhD thesis (Schultes 1941). He was accompanying Reko, who had been puzzling out the mushroom mystery since 1919. During the late 1930s Reko sent specimens he had collected to various American taxonomists for identification. He later said this about the American botanist:

I have to mention these details, now that an ambitious young Harvard student, having turned literary pirate, has taken credit for my discoveries (The identification of Teonanacatl, by Richard E. Schultes, Botanical Museum Leaflets, Harvard University, Febr. 21, 1939), after I had communicated to him the results of my prolonged investigations and invited him on a botanical expedition to Huautla de Jiménez during the summer of 1938, where I gave him numerous samples of the aforesaid mushroom, which had been finally positively identified by Dr. Linder as Paneolus campanulatus L. var. sphinctrinus (Fr.) Bresadola. Samples that I sent to professor C.G. Santesson in Stockholm revealed the presence of a new narcotic glucoalkaloid.

Schultes never did return to Mexico, and turned his research toward South America.

Weitlaner, himself, was trained and worked for a while as an engineer, but later switched to anthropology after emigrating to Mexico (Pompa y Pompa 1966). He led numerous expeditions throughout Mexico and was an expert on the peoples of Oaxaca. While collecting data on the Chinantecs, he came across a person who gave him a lot of information about Mazatec healing rites, including the use of Yerba de María, or S. divinorum. The interview covering the mint went as follows:


Asking Don S. about the mushroom Teonanacatl, which is found in Huautla de Jiménez, he said it wasn’t used in Jalapa, but he mentioned another plant that was called Yerba de María.

The plant somewhat resembles yerba mora but its leaves are a little wider; only the leaves are used, and they are put in water. First they are rubbed (crushed) in the hands, the water is not boiled, and they are used for very specific means. When the curandero goes to the mountain to search for this plant, he has to kneel down and pray to it before cutting it. There are only two or three specialists who know this remedy. They aren’t brujos, and they cut the plants only when they need them, after praying.
For example, if someone is ill, and the doctors don’t know the disease, then with this herb they can divine the illness. The curandero who brings the leaves first asks the sick person if they are addicted to alcohol, for a person who doesn’t drink is prescribed fifty leaves, but one who does is prescribed one hundred. The ill one drinks the water in which the leaves have been squeezed; at midnight the curandero goes with them and another person to a place where there is no noise, as for example, a house where the sick person drinks the potion. They wait a quarter of an hour for the effects of the drug, and the sick person begins to describe the type of illness they are suffering from. The sick one finds themselves in a semi-delirious state, they speak as if in a trance and the others listen attentively to what they say, they throw off their clothing as if with the herb they could free themselves of the animals. At daybreak the curandero bathes the sick person with the same water that they took, and with this they are cured.
It is said that this bath ends the intoxicated state of the sick person who has taken the herb.
When one is trying to uncover a robbery or loss, the curandero listens to what the person who has taken the plant says and in this manner the deeds are discovered.
There is a man called Felipe Miranda in Jalapa de Díaz who goes to the mountain every three to six months to collect the herb; he performs excellent cures and he is doing quite well, economically; they say he grows the plant, but he won’t reveal what type of herb it is.

Later Weitlaner continued:

It seems odd that the use of the mushroom called Teonanacatl was categorically denied, when we know that in the Mazatecan capital of Huautla de Jiménez its esoteric use is very well known. As has been said, here it gives way to the plant known as Yerba de María.

Perhaps it may be of interest to point out the fact that a plant called Yerba de la Virgen is used in almost the identical manner in the Otomí town of Santa Ana Hueytalpan, in the region of Tulancingo, Hidalgo, according to Dr. J. Soustelle, who learned of it and wrote us. However, he didn’t mention an auto-diagnosis as takes place in our Mazatecan town.

Yerba mora is Black Nightshade or Solanum nigrum; illness can be physical, psychological or magical. There is a more detailed description of crushing the Salvia leaves by hand (Valdés et al 1983). Weitlaner’s article is excellent reading.

When I was in Mexico City in 1980, I visited the National Herbarium (a place where plant specimens are stored) to look at their collection of S. divinorum. I learned that in 1957 the Mexican botanist, Arturo Gómez Pompa, while in the Sierra Mazateca collecting mushrooms for the drug firm CIBA, found a Salvia species known by the Mazatecs as xka Pastora. He noted that it was hallucinogenic (alucinante) and a dose was 8-12 pair of leaves. Flowering material was unavailable (floral description is almost always necessary to define a new species), so it couldn’t be identified past the genus level. Unable to return to the area before Wasson and Hofmann’s visit, he missed the chance to get the credit for identifying ska María Pastora (Gómez Pompa 1957, 2001).

This, then, is what was known about S. divinorum before Wasson and Hofmann set out to collect the magic plant. These old articles pose some very important unanswered questions. Reko noted possible use of S. divinorum by the Cuicatecs, and Weitlaner by the Otomi. These people live in areas surrounding the Mazatecan heartland, and they as well as the Chinantecs are long overdue for study. These old explorers used horses and mules for their traveling, I used a car and a jeep, but I’m sure that now one could do it all by bus, if they were brave enough (traveling on rural Mexican buses can be a real learning experience).


Epling, C. and Játiva-M., C. 1962. A new species of Salvia from Mexico. Botanical Museum Leaflets, Harvard University, 20:75-76.

Gómez Pompa, A. 1957. Salvia divinorum herbarium sheets, A. Gómez Pompa 87556 and 93216 National Herbarium (UNAM), México, D.F.

Gómez Pompa, A. 2001. Personal communication 5/13/2001.

Johnson, J.B. 1939a. Some notes on the Mazatec, Revista Mexicana de Estudios Antropológicos, 3:142-156.

Johnson, J.B. (1939b) The elements of Mazatec witchcraft, Etnologiska Studier 9:128-150.

Pompa y Pompa, A. (1966) Summa Antropológica en homenaje a Roberto Weitlaner, INAH, México, D.F. Many of the articles deal directly with his life and his numerous expeditions.

Reko, B.P. (1945) Mitobotanica Zapoteca. Tacubaya, México, D.F. (Privately printed), pp. 17, 53-54.

Schultes, R.E. (1939) Plantae Mexicanae II. The identification of Teonanacatl, a narcotic
Basidiomycete of the Aztecs. Botanical Museum Leaflets, Harvard University 7:37-54.

Schultes, R.E. (1941) Economic aspects of the flora of northeastern Oaxaca, Mexico. Ph.D. Thesis, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA.

Valdés, L.J., III., Díaz, J.L., and Paul, A.G. (1983) Ethnopharmacology of Ska María Pastora (Salvia Divinorum, Epling and Játiva-M.). J. Ethnopharmacology 7:287-312.

Wasson, R.G. (1962) A new Mexican psychotropic drug from the mint family. Botanical Museum Leaflets, Harvard University 20:77-84.

Wasson, R.G. (1963) Notes on the present status of Ololiuhqui and the other hallucinogens of Mexico. Botanical Museum Leaflets, Harvard University 20:161-193.

Weitlaner, R.J. (1952) Curaciones Mazatecas. Anales del Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (México) 4:279-285.

Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Poems

If What She Says Is True

If what she says is true
And she feels for me
The obsessive desire
That I feel for her,

Then, in the sweltering heat of noon,
In her tent, in secret,
We will meet
To fulfill the promise completely…

We will reveal the passion
We feel one for the other
As well as the harshness of the trial
And the pains of ecstasy.


When We Came Together

When we came together
to bid each other adieu
You would have thought that we were
Like a double letter
At the moment of union and embrace.

Even if we are made up
Of a double nature,
Our glances see only
One unified being…

I am absent and therefore desire
Causes my soul to pass away.
Meeting does not cure me
Because it persists both in absence
and in presence.

Meeting her produced in me
That which I had not imagined at all.
Healing is a new ill,
Which comes of ecstasy…

Because as for me, I see a being
Whose beauty increases,
Brilliant and superb
At every one of our meetings.

One does not escape in ecstasy
That exists in kinship
With beauty that continues to intensify
To the point of perfect harmony.

In Memory of Those Who Melt the Soul Forever

Their spring meadows
are desolate now. Still, desire
for them lives always
in our heart, never dying.

These are their ruins.
These are the tears
in memory of those
who melt the soul forever.

I called out, following after
You so full with beauty,
I’ve nothing!

I rubbed my face in the dust,
laid low by the fever of love.
By the privilege of the right of desire for you
don’t shatter the heart

Of a man drowned in his words,
burned alive
in sorrow.
Nothing can save him now.

You want a fire?
Take it easy. This passion
is incandescent. Touch it.
It will light your own.


Science Saved My Soul



Bert Jansch – Dreams Of Love

For Bert

Saturday Night: Long week at work, 6 days so far, perhaps 7 then on again. The leaves are falling now in Portland, and the winds are rising. We are heading towards Samhain, and the veil is kinda thin.

I have been having some amazing lucid dreams. Perhaps it is seasonal, perhaps not.

More postings on the way!

Bright Blessings,

On The Menu:
In Memory Of Bert Jansch
Bert Jansch – “Blues Run The Game”
Poetry: Philip Larkin
Bert Jansch – October Song
In Memory Of Bert Jansch

I think it was early 1966 that I heard Bert Jansch for the first time. I was hanging around the Folk Lore Centre, and someone put on his first album. It was of course, an import. Too expensive for me to purchase, I heard it just a couple of times. I was very impressed. I knew he was important, and I kind of grasped what he was doing. I was of course 14 at the time, so I didn’t have the musical knowledge to fully comprehend what he had done with his acquaintances borrowed 2 track tape recorder in his flat. Along side Davy Graham, Anna Briggs, and his other musical partner John Renbourn, he was charting new territory for British folk music. Listening today, I am astounded. Listening then, it was like a great wash of beauty on that late winter afternoon.

Three years later, I was in San Anselmo at some Sufi friend’s house (students of Sam Lewis) and someone put on Pentangle’s “Basket Of Light”. I was absolutely transported. We sat and listened, and I felt like I had returned home. This moment brought me to my roots musically. Although I love many forms of music, British Folk is where my comfort lies.

I have listened to Basket on and off now for some 42 years. I started listening to it with new ears in the late 80′s when I understood folk traditions better. An amazing body of work, some of it going back to pre-christian times.

Bert’s guitar work, phrasing, and articulation have always amazed me. He got out of a guitar what Jimi Hendrix did with an electric. Mind you, without effects, or playing it with his mouth. 80) His singing is an acquired taste for some, but easy on my ears. He had a way with inflection that I always found disarming, and as if he was in the room with you.

His body of work is quite large. I could go over all that he did over the years, but you can find that on-line if you like. Bert’s gift to me is on a different level. His music is part of the rich tapestry of our lives here at Caer Llwydd.

Thanks Bert for the beauty that you brought with your guitar and singing. Happy Voyage.
Bert Jansch – “Blues Run The Game”


Poetry: Philip Larkin

An Arundel Tomb

Side by side, their faces blurred,
The earl and countess lie in stone,
Their proper habits vaguely shown
As jointed armour, stiffened pleat,
And that faint hint of the absurd –
The little dogs under their feet.

Such plainness of the pre-baroque
Hardly involves the eye, until
It meets his left-hand gauntlet, still
Clasped empty in the other; and
One sees, with a sharp tender shock,
His hand withdrawn, holding her hand.

They would not think to lie so long.
Such faithfulness in effigy
Was just a detail friends would see:
A sculptor’s sweet commissioned grace
Thrown off in helping to prolong
The Latin names around the base.

They would no guess how early in
Their supine stationary voyage
The air would change to soundless damage,
Turn the old tenantry away;
How soon succeeding eyes begin
To look, not read. Rigidly they

Persisted, linked, through lengths and breadths
Of time. Snow fell, undated. Light
Each summer thronged the grass. A bright
Litter of birdcalls strewed the same
Bone-littered ground. And up the paths
The endless altered people came,

Washing at their identity.
Now, helpless in the hollow of
An unarmorial age, a trough
Of smoke in slow suspended skeins
Above their scrap of history,
Only an attitude remains:

Time has transfigures them into
Untruth. The stone fidelity
They hardly meant has come to be
Their final blazon, and to prove
Our almost-instinct almost true:
What will survive of us is love.


Morning, a glass door, flashes
Gold names off the new city,
Whose white shelves and domes travel
The slow sky all day.
I land to stay here;
And the windows flock open
And the curtains fly out like doves
And a past dries in a wind.

Now let me lie down, under
A wide-branched indifference,
Shovel-faces like pennies
Down the back of the mind,
Find voices coined to
An argot of motor-horns,
And let the cluttered-up houses
Keep their thick lives to themselves.

For this ignorance of me
Seems a kind of innocence.
Fast enough I shall wound it:
Let me breathe till then
Its milk-aired Eden,
Till my own life impound it-
Slow-falling; grey-veil-hung; a theft,
A style of dying only.
Annus Mirabilis

Sexual intercourse began
In nineteen sixty-three
(which was rather late for me) –
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles’ first LP.

Up to then there’d only been
A sort of bargaining,
A wrangle for the ring,
A shame that started at sixteen
And spread to everything.

Then all at once the quarrel sank:
Everyone felt the same,
And every life became
A brilliant breaking of the bank,
A quite unlosable game.

So life was never better than
In nineteen sixty-three
(Though just too late for me) –
Between the end of the Chatterley ban
And the Beatles’ first LP.

‘Waiting for breakfast, while she brushed her hair’

Waiting for breakfast, while she brushed her hair,
I looked down at the empty hotel yard
Once meant for coaches. Cobblestones were wet,
But sent no light back to the loaded sky,
Sunk as it was with mist down to the roofs.
Drainpipes and fire-escape climbed up
Past rooms still burning their electric light:
I thought: Featureless morning, featureless night.

Misjudgment: for the stones slept, and the mist
Wandered absolvingly past all it touched,
Yet hung like a stayed breath; the lights burnt on,
Pin-points of undisturbed excitement; beyond the glass
The colourless vial of day painlessly spilled
My world back after a year, my lost lost world
Like a cropping deer strayed near my path again,
Bewaring the mind’s least clutch. Turning, I kissed her,
Easily for sheer joy tipping the balance to love.

But, tender visiting,
Fallow as a deer or an unforced field,
How would you have me? Towards your grace
My promises meet and lock and race like rivers,
But only when you choose. Are you jealous of her?
Will you refuse to come till I have sent
Her terribly away, importantly live
Part invalid, part baby, and part saint?

Bert Jansch – October Song

Adios Bert… We Love Ya.

Consensus Reality

To Welcome In A New Consensus Reality In A Post Corporate/Statist World….


Sunday October 16th…

A picture from long ago… :0]

Today, Mary and I celebrate our 33rd year together as a married couple. She is the best friend I have ever had, my MUSE, and my wild companion in many an adventure. She brings a certain wisdom to my foolishness, and I can’t say enough about her. She has had the patience to put up with my craziness over the years, and to understand what I have been trying to achieve. I dedicate this entry to her.

Today, on a long walk through our neighborhood, we stepped out into the most perfect of days. The sun was out, the streets were full of people, and the joy of living was palpable in the air. You know those days, where the light plays through the leaves, the squirrels are going like crazy, people are busy, and the last of the summer bees are working overtime. Everything is vibrant, bright, full of life. We walked hand in hand, Sophie ahead of us sniffing the air. We walked up the hill, towards the east, with the sun to the south, no longer overhead as it was just months ago. We talked, and headed to the park, where families, friends, dogs, kids were all scrambling about. We finally circled back.

About a block from our house, we ran into Elliot, the founder of the “Beloved Festivals” riding by on his bike, having just come from Hawthorne buying Olive Oil. We stood there, sharing our thoughts on DJ Cheb, and what the year had given us, and what we planned to give in the coming year. He is an amazing fellow Elliot. I have known him some 10 or so years, and he is always present, trying to and achieving good things for the community. We talked, and then he was on his way to Clinton St..

Mary and my life has been blessed by good and sincere people. We are all on this path together I feel. I often muse that we chose this time to incarnate, if that is possible. So many good people, so much love that we have all shared in this place.

Never forget that Love is the foundation for all. Love before us, Love behind us, Love beside us, Love over us, Love below us.

Bright Blessings,
On The Menu:
Sunday October 9th, Occupy Portland
Occupy Portland Live
William Morris – How I Became a Socialist
Patti Smith – My Blakean Year
William Blake – The Divine Image
Sunday October 9th, Occupy Portland:

We seem to have arrived at the time of great change; it is here, it is now. What we do, and do collectively will alter the world for generations to come. Join with us, with friends of mutual thought, and with the growing world community dedicated with changing the world for the better. Our time is now. Talk to your neighbors, your friends. Join us, join us now in the streets to take the world back for community, for people, for the future.

The wheels are turning, and the world is moving on a new course!

Our friend Tom Beckett marching with fellow Veterans For Peace

mid walk with a couple of thousand of our friends!

Barbara, Felicity & Paul… Felicity every bit the young social activist!

Miss Mary and yours truly!

Our Friend Paul’s Videos of last Sundays Walk of Occupy Portland!

‘A single nonrevolutionary weekend is infinitely more bloody than a month of total revolution.’
‘The tears of philistines are the nectar of the gods.’
‘This concerns everyone.’
‘We want structures that serve people, not people serving structures.’
‘Politics is in the streets.’
‘Barricades close the streets but open the way.’
‘Our hope can come only from the hopeless.’

-Paris Graffiti UpRising, 1968

Occupy Portland Live:

occupyptown on Broadcast Live Free

William Morris – How I Became a Socialist

I am asked by the Editor to give some sort of a history of the above conversion, and I feel that it may be of some use to do so, if my readers will look upon me as a type of a certain group of people, but not so easy to do clearly, briefly and truly. Let me, however, try. But first, I will say what I mean by being a Socialist, since I am told that the word no longer expresses definitely and with certainty what it did ten years ago. Well, what I mean by Socialism is a condition of society in which there should be neither rich nor poor, neither master nor master’s man, neither idle nor overworked, neither brain-sick brain workers, nor heart-sick hand workers, in a word, in which all men would be living in equality of condition, and would manage their affairs unwastefully, and with the full consciousness that harm to one would mean harm to all—the realization at last of the meaning of the word COMMONWEALTH.

Now this view of Socialism which I hold to-day, and hope to die holding, is what I began with; I had no transitional period, unless you may call such a brief period of political radicalism during which I saw my ideal clear enough, but had no hope of any realization of it. That came to an end some months before I joined the (then) Democratic Federation, and the meaning of my joining that body was that I had conceived a hope of the realization of my ideal. If you ask me how much of a hope, or what I thought we Socialists then living and working would accomplish towards it, or when there would be effected any change in the face of society, I must say, I do not know. I can only say that I did not measure my hope, nor the joy that it brought me at the time. For the rest, when I took that step I was blankly ignorant of economics; I had never so much as opened Adam Smith, or heard of Ricardo, or of Karl Marx. Oddly enough, I had read some of Mill, to wit, those posthumous papers of his (published, was it in the Westminster Review or the Fortnightly?) in which he attacks Socialism in its Fourierist guise. In those papers he put the arguments, as far as they go, clearly and honestly, and the result, so far as I was concerned, was to convince me that Socialism was a necessary change, and that it was possible to bring it about in our own days. Those papers put the finishing touch to my conversion to Socialism. Well, having joined a Socialist body (for the Federation soon became definitely Socialist), I put some conscience into trying to learn the economical side of Socialism, and even tackled Marx, though I must confess that, whereas I thoroughly enjoyed the historical part of Capital, I suffered agonies of confusion of the brain over reading the pure economics of that great work. Anyhow, I read what I could, and will hope that some information stuck to me from my reading; but more, I must think, from continuous conversation with such friends as Bax and Hyndman and Scheu, and the brisk course of propaganda meetings which were going on at the time, and in which I took my share. Such finish to what of education in practical Socialism as I am capable of I received afterwards from some of my Anarchist friends, from whom I learned, quite against their intention, that Anarchism was impossible, much as I learned from Mill against his intention that Socialism was necessary.

But in this telling how I fell into practical Socialism I have begun, as I perceive, in the middle, for in my position of a well-to-do man, not suffering from the disabilities which oppress a working man at every step, I feel that I might never have been drawn into the practical side of the question if an ideal had not forced me to seek towards it. For politics as politics, i.e., not regarded as a necessary if cumbersome and disgustful means to an end, would never have attracted me, nor when I had become conscious of thewrongs of society as it now is, and the oppression of poor people, could I have ever believed in the possibility of a partial setting right of those wrongs. In other words, I could never have been such a fool as to believe in the happy and “respectable” poor.

If, therefore, my ideal forced me to look for practical Socialism, what was it that forced me to conceive of an ideal? Now, here comes in what I said of my being (in this paper) a type of a certain group of mind.

Before the uprising of modern Socialism almost all intelligent people either were, or professed themselves to be, quite contented with the civilization of this century. Again, almost all of these really were thus contented, and saw nothing to do but to perfect the said civilization by getting rid of a few ridiculous survivals of the barbarous ages. To be short, this was the Whig frame of mind, natural to the modern prosperous middle-class men, who, in fact, as far as mechanical progress is concerned, have nothing to ask for, if only Socialism would leave them alone to enjoy their plentiful style.

But besides these contented ones there were others who were not really contented, but had a vague sentiment of repulsion to the triumph of civilization, but were coerced into silence by the measureless power of Whiggery. Lastly, there were a few who were in open rebellion against the said Whiggery—a few, say two, Carlyle and Ruskin. The latter, before my days of practical Socialism, was my master towards the ideal aforesaid, and, looking backward, I cannot help saying, by the way, how deadly dull the world would have been twenty years ago but for Ruskin! It was through him that I learned to give form to my discontent, which I must say was not by any means vague. Apart from the desire to produce beautiful things, the leading passion of my life has been and is hatred of modern civilization. What shall I say of it now, when the words are put into my mouth, my hope of its destruction—what shall I say of its supplanting by Socialism?

What shall I say concerning its mastery of and its waste of mechanical power, its commonwealth so poor, its enemies of the commonwealth so rich, its stupendous organization—for the misery of life! Its contempt of simple pleasures which everyone could enjoy but for its folly? Its eyeless vulgarity which has destroyed art, the one certain solace of labour? All this I felt then as now, but I did not know why it was so. The hope of the past times was gone, the struggles of mankind for many ages had produced nothing but this sordid, aimless, ugly confusion; the immediate future seemed to me likely to intensify all the present evils by sweeping away the last survivals of the days before the dull squalor of civilization had settled down on the world. This was a bad look-out indeed, and, if I may mention myself as a personality and not as a mere type, especially so to a man of my disposition, careless of metaphysics and religion, as well as of scientific analysis, but with a deep love of the earth and the life on it, and a passion for the history of the past of mankind. Think of it! Was it all to end in a counting-house on the top of a cinder-heap, with Podsnap’s drawing-room in the offing, and a Whig committee dealing out champagne to the rich and margarine to the poor in such convenient proportions as would make all men contented together, though the pleasure of the eyes was gone from the world, and the place of Homer was to be taken by Huxley? Yet, believe me, in my heart, when I really forced myself to look towards the future, that is what I saw in it, and, as far as I could tell, scarce anyone seemed to think it worth while to struggle against such a consummation of civilization. So there I was in for a fine pessimistic end of life, if it had not somehow dawned on me that amidst all this filth of civilization the seeds of a great change, what we others call Social-Revolution, were beginning to germinate. The whole face of things was changed to me by that discovery, and all I had to do then in order to become a Socialist was to hook myself on to the practical movement, which, as before said, I have tried to do as well as I could.

To sum up, then the study of history and the love and practice of art forced me into a hatred of the civilization which, if things were to stop as they are, would turn history into inconsequent nonsense, and make art a collection of the curiosities of the past, which would have no serious relation to the life of the present.

But the consciousness of revolution stirring amidst our hateful modern society prevented me, luckier than many others of artistic perceptions, from crystallizing into a mere railer against “progress” on the one hand, and on the other from wasting time and energy in any of the numerous schemes by which the quasi-artistic of the middle classes hope to make art grow when it has no longer any root, and thus I became a practical Socialist.

A last word or two. Perhaps some of our friends will say, what have we to do with these matters of history and art? We want by means of Social-Democracy to win a decent livelihood, we want in some sort to live, and that at once. Surely any one who professes to think that the question of art and cultivation must go before that of the knife and fork (and there are some who do propose that) does not understand what art means, or how that its roots must have a soil of a thriving and unanxious life. Yet it must be remembered that civilization has reduced the workman to such a skinny and pitiful existence, that he scarcely knows how to frame a desire for any life much better than that which he now endures perforce. It is the province of art to set the true ideal of a full and reasonable life before him, a life to which the perception and creation of beauty, the enjoyment of real pleasure that is, shall be felt to be as necessary to man as his daily bread, and that no man, and no set of men, can be deprived of this except by mere opposition, which should be resisted to the utmost.
Patti Smith – My Blakean Year

my blakean year

In my Blakean year
I was so disposed
Toward a mission yet unclear
Advancing pole by pole
Fortune breathed into my ear
Mouthed a simple ode
One road is paved in gold
One road is just a road

In my Blakean year
Such a woeful schism
The pain of our existence
Was not as I envisioned
Boots that trudged from track to track
Worn down to the sole
One road is paved in gold
One road is just a road

Boots that tread from track to track
Worn down to the sole
One road is paved in gold
One road is just a road

In my Blakean year
Temptation but a hiss
Just a shallow spear
Robed in cowardice

Brace yourself for bitter flack
For a life sublime
A labyrinth of riches
Never shall unwind
The threads that bind the pilgrim’s sack
Are stitched into the Blakean back
So throw off your stupid cloak
Embrace all that you fear
For joy will conquer all despair
In my Blakean year
The Divine Image
by William Blake
(from Songs of Innocence)

To Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
All pray in their distress,
And to these virtues of delight
Return their thankfulness.

For Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
Is God our Father dear;
And Mercy, Pity, Peace, and Love,
Is man, His child and care.

For Mercy has a human heart;
Pity, a human face;
And Love, the human form divine:
And Peace the human dress.

Then every man, of every clime,
That prays in his distress,
Prays to the human form divine:
Love, Mercy, Pity, Peace.

And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew.
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell,
There God is dwelling too.

Robinson Jeffers – Three Poems

(William Waterhouse – The Tempest)

I have been on a short break. Here is something that you might enjoy, off of the cuff and ready made for an evening such as this.


On The Menu:
3 Poems – Robinson Jeffers

The smallest Turfing in awhile. Soon, a return to form… the past few weeks have been so engaging!

Robinson Jeffers – Three Poems

“Be Angry At The Sun”

That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new. That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.

Be angry at the sun for setting
If these things anger you. Watch the wheel slope and turn,
They are all bound on the wheel, these people, those warriors.
This republic, Europe, Asia.

Observe them gesticulating,
Observe them going down. The gang serves lies, the passionate
Man plays his part; the cold passion for truth
Hunts in no pack.

You are not Catullus, you know,
To lampoon these crude sketches of Caesar. You are far
From Dante’s feet, but even farther from his dirty
Political hatreds.

Let boys want pleasure, and men
Struggle for power, and women perhaps for fame,
And the servile to serve a Leader and the dupes to be duped.
Yours is not theirs.

“Hurt Hawks”


The broken pillar of the wing jags from the clotted shoulder,
The wing trails like a banner in defeat,

No more to use the sky forever but live with famine
And pain a few days: cat nor coyote
Will shorten the week of waiting for death, there is game without talons.

He stands under the oak-bush and waits
The lame feet of salvation; at night he remembers freedom
And flies in a dream, the dawns ruin it.

He is strong and pain is worse to the strong, incapacity is worse.
The curs of the day come and torment him
At distance, no one but death the redeemer will humble that head,

The intrepid readiness, the terrible eyes.
The wild God of the world is sometimes merciful to those
That ask mercy, not often to the arrogant.

You do not know him, you communal people, or you have forgotten him;
Intemperate and savage, the hawk remembers him;
Beautiful and wild, the hawks, and men that are dying, remember him.


I’d sooner, except the penalties, kill a man than a hawk;
but the great redtail
Had nothing left but unable misery
From the bone too shattered for mending, the wing that trailed under his talons when he moved.

We had fed him six weeks, I gave him freedom,
He wandered over the foreland hill and returned in the evening, asking for death,
Not like a beggar, still eyed with the old
Implacable arrogance.

I gave him the lead gift in the twilight.
What fell was relaxed, Owl-downy, soft feminine feathers; but what
Soared: the fierce rush: the night-herons by the flooded river cried fear at its rising
Before it was quite unsheathed from reality.

“Ossian’s Grave”

Steep up in Lubitavish townland stands
A ring of great stones like fangs, the shafts of the stones
Grown up with thousands of years of gradual turf,
The fangs of the stones still biting skyward; and hard
Against the stone ring, the oblong enclosure
Of an old grave guarded with erect slabs; gray rocks
Backed by broken thorn-trees, over the gorge of Glenaan;
It is called Ossian’s Grave. Ossian rests high then,
Haughtily alone.
If there were any fame or burial or monument
For me to envy,
Warrior and poet they should be yours and yours.
For this is the pure fame, not caged in a poem,
Fabulous, a glory untroubled with works, a name in the north
Like a mountain in the mist, like Aura
Heavy with heather and the dark gray rocks, or Trostan
Dark purple in the cloud: happier than what the wings
And imperfections of work hover like vultures
Above the carcass.
I also make a remembered name;
And I shall return home to the granite stones
On my cliff over the greatest ocean
To be blind ashes under the butts of the stones:
As you here under the fanged limestone columns
Are said to lie, over the narrow north straits
Toward Scotland, and the quick-tempered Moyle. But written
Will blot for too long a year the bare sunlight
Above my rock lair, heavy black birds
Over the field and the blood of the lost battle.
Oh but we lived splendidly
In the brief light of day
Who now twist in our graves.
You in the guard of the fanged
Erect stones; and the man-slayer
Shane O’Neill dreams yonder at Cushendun
Crushed under his cairn;
And Hugh McQuillan under his cairn
By his lost field in the bog on Aura;
And I a foreigner, one who has come to the country of the dead
Before I was called,
To eat the bitter dust of my ancestors;
And thousands on tens of thousands in the thronged earth
Under the rotting freestone tablets
At the bases of broken round towers;
And the great Connaught queen on her mountain-summit
The high cloud hoods, it creeps through the eyes of the cairn,

We dead have our peculiar pleasures, of not
Doing, of not feeling, of not being.
Enough has been felt, enough done, Oh and surely
Enough of humanity has been. We lie under stones
Or drift through the endless northern twilights
And draw over our pale survivors the net of our dream.
All their lives are less
Substantial than one of our deaths, and they cut turf
Or stoop in the steep
Short furrows, or drive the red carts, like weeds waving
Under the glass of water in a locked bay,
Which neither the wind nor the wave nor their own will
Moves; when they seem to awake
It is only to madden in their dog-days for memories of dreams
That lost all meaning many centuries ago.

Oh but we lived splendidly
In the brief light of day,
You with hounds on the mountain
And princes in palaces,
I on the western cliff
In the rages of the sun:
Now you lie grandly under your stones
But I in a peasant’s hut
Eat bread bitter with the dust of dead men;
The water I draw at the spring has been shed for tears
Ten thousand times,
Or wander through the endless northern twilights
From the rath to the cairn, through fields
Where every field-stone’s been handled
Ten thousand times,
In a uterine country, soft
And wet and worn out, like an old womb
That I have returned to, being dead.

Oh but we lived splendidly
Who now twist in our graves.
The mountains are alive;
Tievebuilleagh lives, Trostan lives,
Lurigethan lives;
And Aura, the black-faced sheep in the belled heather;
And the swan-haunted loughs; but also a few of us dead
A life as inhuman and cold as those.


Cosmic Dust…

“Dada is the sun. Dada is the egg. Dada is the Police of the Police.” – Richard Huelsenbeck

Ah, the end of September, our last entry and we tie up the loose ends of The Joyous Cosmology. I hope you have enjoyed reading it.

We are also featuring a couple of discoveries that I made recently in African/World music, and some poetry from Patti Smith that I have never read before. We are featuring the art of Victor Moscoso, one of the greats of the San Francisco poster scene.

Here is to Autumn, and all its glory. Here is to the waning of the year.

Bright Blessings,

On The Menu:
OUMOU SANGARÉ – Senkele te Sira
Joyous Cosmology Part 6 & Epilogue
Patti Smith: Poetry
Salif Keita – Yambo
Art: Victor Moscoso
OUMOU SANGARÉ – Senkele te Sira

Joyous Cosmology Part 6 & Epilogue
– Alan Watts

Part 6
I go into the garden again. The hummingbirds are soaring up and falling in their mating dance, as if there were someone behind the bushes playing ball with them. Fruit and more wine have been put out on the table. Oranges—transformations of the sun into its own image, as if the tree were acknowledging gratitude for warmth. Leaves, green with the pale, yellow-fresh green that I remember from the springtimes of my childhood in Kentish spinneys, where breaking buds were spotted all over the hazel branches in a floating mist. Within them, trunks, boughs, and twigs moist black behind the sunlit green. Fuchsia bushes, tangled traceries of stalks, intermingled with thousands of magenta ballerinas with purple petticoats. And, behind all, towering into the near-twilight sky, the grove of giant eucalyptus trees with their waving clusters of distinctly individual, bamboo-like leaves. Everything here is the visual form of the lilting nonsense and abandoned vocal dexterity of those Hindu musicians.

I recall the words of an ancient Tantric scripture: “As waves come with water and flames with fire, so the universal waves with us.” Gestures of the gesture, waves of the wave—leaves flowing into caterpillars, grass into cows, milk into babies, bodies into worms, earth into flowers, seeds into birds, quanta of energy into the iridescent or reverberating labyrinths of the brain. Within and swept up into this endless, exulting, cosmological dance are the base and grinding undertones of the pain which transformation involves: chewed nerve endings, sudden electric-striking snakes in the meadow grass, swoop of the lazily circling hawks, sore muscles piling logs, sleepless nights trying to keep track of the unrelenting bookkeeping which civilized survival demands.

How unfamiliarly natural it is to see pain as no longer a problem. For problematic pain arises with the tendency of self-consciousness to short-circuit the brain and fill its passages with dithering echoes—revulsions to revulsions, fears of fear, cringing from cringing, guilt about guilt—twisting thought to trap itself in endless oscillations. In his ordinary consciousness man lives like someone trying to speak in an excessively sensitive echo-chamber; he can proceed only by doggedly ignoring the interminably gibbering reflections of his voice. For in the brain there are echoes and reflected images in every dimension of sense, thought, and feeling, chattering on and on in the tunnels of memory. The difficulty is that we confuse this storing of information with an intelligent commentary on what we are doing at the moment, mistaking for intelligence the raw materials of the data with which it works. Like too much alcohol, self-consciousness makes us see ourselves double, and we mistake the double image for two selves—mental and material, controlling and controlled, reflective and spontaneous. Thus instead of suffering we suffer about suffering, and suffer about suffering about suffering.

As has always been said, clarity comes with the giving up of self. But what this means is that we cease to attribute selfhood to these echoes and mirror images. Otherwise we stand in a hall of mirrors, dancing hesitantly and irresolutely because we are making the images take the lead. We move in circles because we are following what we have already done. We have lost touch with our original identity, which is not the system of images but the great self-moving gesture of this as yet unremembered moment. The gift of remembering and binding time creates the illusion that the past stands to the present as agent to act, mover to moved. Living thus from the past, with echoes taking the lead, we are not truly here, and are always a little late for the feast. Yet could anything be more obvious than that the past follows from the present like the wake of a ship, and that if we are to be alive at all, here is the place to be?

Evening at last closes a day that seemed to have been going on since the world began. At the high end of the garden, above a clearing, there stands against the mountain wall a semicircle of trees, immensely tall and dense with foliage, suggesting the entrance grove to some ancient temple. It is from here that the deep blue-green transparency of twilight comes down, silencing the birds and hushing our own conversation. We have been watching the sunset, sitting in a row upon the ridgepole of the great barn whose roof of redwood tiles, warped and cracked, sweeps clear to the ground. Below, to the west, lies an open sward where two white goats are munching the grass, and beyond this is Robert’s house where lights in the kitchen show that Beryl is preparing dinner. Time to go in, and leave the garden to the awakening stars.

Again music—harpsichords and a string orchestra, and Bach in his most exultant mood. I lie down to listen, and close my eyes. All day, in wave after wave and from all directions of the mind’s compass, there has repeatedly come upon me the sense of my original identity as one with the very fountain of the universe. I have seen, too, that the fountain is its own source and motive, and that its spirit is an unbounded playfulness which is the many-dimensioned dance of life. There is no problem left, but who will believe it? Will I believe it myself when I return to normal consciousness? Yet I can see at the moment that this does not matter. The play is hide-and-seek or lost-and-found, and it is all part of the play that one can get very lost indeed. How far, then, can one go in getting found?

As if in answer to my question there appears before my closed eyes a vision in symbolic form of what Eliot has called “the still point of the turning world.” I find myself looking down at the floor of a vast courtyard, as if from a window high upon the wall, and the floor and the walls are entirely surfaced with ceramic tiles displaying densely involved arabesques in gold, purple, and blue. The scene might be the inner court of some Persian palace, were it not of such immense proportions and its colors of such preternatural transparency. In the center of the floor there is a great sunken arena, shaped like a combination of star and rose, and bordered with a strip of tiles that suggest the finest inlay work in vermilion, gold, and obsidian.

Within this arena some kind of ritual is being performed in time with the music. At first its mood is stately and royal, as if there were officers and courtiers in rich armor and many-colored cloaks dancing before their king. As I watch, the mood changes. The courtiers become angels with wings of golden fire, and in the center of the arena there appears a pool of dazzling flame. Looking into the pool I see, just for a moment, a face which reminds me of the Christos Pantocrator of Byzantine mosaics, and I feel that the angels are drawing back with wings over their faces in a motion of reverent dread. But the face dissolves. The pool of flame grows brighter and brighter, and I notice that the winged beings are drawing back with a gesture, not of dread, but of tenderness—for the flame knows no anger. Its warmth and radiance—”tongues of flame infolded”—are an efflorescence of love so endearing that I feel I have seen the heart of all hearts.
* “Self-conscious man thinks he thinks. This has long been recognized to be an error, for the conscious subject who thinks he thinks is not the same as the organ which does the thinking. The conscious person is one component only, a series of transitory aspects, of the thinking person.” L. L. Whyte, The Unconscious Before Freud (Basic Books, New York, 1960), p. 59

This is, as I have said, a record not of one experiment with consciousness-changing drugs, but of several, compressed for reasons of poetic unity into a single day. At the same time I have more or less kept to the basic form which every individual experiment seems to take—a sort of cycle in which one’s personality is taken apart and then put together again, in what one hopes is a more intelligent fashion. For example, one’s true identity is first of all felt as something extremely ancient, familiarly distant—with overtones of the magical, mythological, and archaic. But in the end it revolves back to what one is in the immediate present, for the moment of the world’s creation is seen to lie, not in some unthinkably remote past, but in the eternal now. Similarly, the play of life is at first apprehended rather cynically as an extremely intricate contest in one-upmanship, expressing itself deviously even in the most altruistic of human endeavors. Later, one begins to feel a “good old rascal” attitude toward the system; humor gets the better of cynicism. But finally, rapacious and all-embracing cosmic selfishness turns out to be a disguise for the unmotivated play of love.

But I do not mean to generalize. I am speaking only of what I have experienced for myself, and I wish to repeat that drugs of this kind are in no sense bottled and predigested wisdom. I feel that had I no skill as a writer or philosopher, drugs which dissolve some of the barriers between ordinary, pedestrian consciousness and the multidimensional superconsciousness of the organism would bring little but delightful, or sometimes terrifying, confusion. I am not saying that only intellectuals can benefit from them, but that there must be sufficient discipline or insight to relate this expanded consciousness to our normal, everyday life.

Such aids to perception are medicines, not diets, and as the use of a medicine should lead on to a more healthful mode of living, so the experiences which I have described suggest measures we might take to maintain a sounder form of sanity. Of these, the most important is the practice of what I would like to call meditation—were it not that this word often connotes spiritual or mental gymnastics. But by meditation I do not mean a practice or exercise undertaken as a preparation for something, as a means to some future end, or as a discipline in which one is concerned with progress. A better word may be “contemplation” or even “centering,” for what I mean is a slowing down of time, of mental hurry, and an allowing of one’s attention to rest in the present—so coming to the unseeking observation, not of what should be, but of what is. It is quite possible, even easy, to do this without the aid of any drug, though these chemicals have the advantage of “doing it for you” in a peculiarly deep and prolonged fashion.

But those of us who live in this driven and over-purposeful civilization need, more than anyone else, to lay aside some span of clock time for ignoring time, and for allowing the contents of consciousness to happen without interference. Within such timeless spaces, perception has an opportunity to develop and deepen in much the same way that I have described. Because one stops forcing experience with the conscious will and looking at things as if one were confronting them, or standing aside from them to manage them, it is possible for one’s fundamental and unitive apprehension of the world to rise to the surface. But it is of no use to make this a goal or to try to work oneself into that way of seeing things. Every effort to change what is being felt or seen presupposes and confirms the illusion of the independent knower or ego, and to try to get rid of what isn’t there is only to prolong confusion. On the whole, it is better to try to be aware of one’s ego than to get rid of it. We can then discover that the “knower” is no different from the sensation of the “known,” whether the known be “external” objects or “internal” thoughts and memories.

In this way it begins to appear that instead of knowers and knowns there are simply knowings, and instead of doers and deeds simply doings. Divided matter and form becomes unified pattern-in-process. Thus when Buddhists say that reality is “void” they mean simply that life, the pattern-in-process, does not proceed from or fall upon some substantial basis. At first, this may seem rather disconcerting, but in principle the idea is no more difficult to abandon than that of the crystalline spheres which were once supposed to support and move the planets.

Eventually this unified and timeless mode of perception “caps” our ordinary way of thinking and acting in the practical world: it includes it without destroying it. But it also modifies it by making it clear that the function of practical action is to serve the abiding present rather than the ever-receding future, and the living organism rather than the mechanical system of the state or the social order.

In addition to this quiet and contemplative mode of meditation there seems to me to be an important place for another, somewhat akin to the spiritual exercises of the dervishes. No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time: he is like a steel bridge without flexibility, and the order of his life is rigid and brittle. The manners and mores of Western civilization force this perpetual sanity upon us to an extreme degree, for there is no accepted corner in our lives for the art of pure nonsense. Our play is never real play because it is almost invariably rationalized; we do it on the pretext that it is good for us, enabling us to go back to work refreshed. There is no protected situation in which we can really let ourselves go. Day in and day out we must tick obediently like clocks, and “strange thoughts” frighten us so much that we rush to the nearest head-doctor. Our difficulty is that we have perverted the Sabbath into a day for laying on rationality and listening to sermons instead of letting off steam.

If our sanity is to be strong and flexible, there must be occasional periods for the expression of completely spontaneous movement—for dancing, singing, howling, babbling, jumping, groaning, wailing—in short, for following any motion to which the organism as a whole seems to be inclined. It is by no means impossible to set up physical and moral boundaries within which this freedom of action is expressible—sensible contexts in which nonsense may have its way. Those who provide for this essential irrationality will never become stuffy or dull, and, what is far more important, they will be opening up the channels through which the formative and intelligent spontaneity of the organism can at last flow into consciousness. This is why free association is such a valuable technique in psychotherapy; its limitation is that it is purely verbal. The function of such intervals for nonsense is not merely to be an outlet for pent-up emotion or unused psychic energy, but to set in motion a mode of spontaneous action which, though at first appearing as nonsense, can eventually express itself in intelligible forms.

Disciplined action is generally mistaken for forced action, done in the dualistic spirit of compelling oneself, as if the will were quite other than the rest of the organism. But a unified and integrated concept of human nature requires a new concept of discipline—the control, not of forced action, but of spontaneous action. It is necessary to see discipline as a technique which the organism uses, as a carpenter uses tools, and not as a system to which the organism must be conformed. Otherwise the purely mechanical and organizational ends of the system assume greater importance than those of the organism. We find ourselves in the situation where man is made for the Sabbath, instead of the Sabbath for man. But before spontaneous action can be expressed in controlled patterns, its current must be set in motion. That is to say, we must acquire a far greater sensitivity to what the organism itself wants to do, and learn responsiveness to its inner motions.

Our language almost compels us to express this point in the wrong way—as if the “we” that must be sensitive to the organism and respond to it were something apart. Unfortunately our forms of speech follow the design of the social fiction which separates the conscious will from the rest of the organism, making it the independent agent which causes and regulates our actions. It is thus that we fail to recognize what the ego, the agent, or the conscious will is. We do not see that it is a social convention, like the intervals of clock time, as distinct from a biological or even psychological entity. For the conscious will, working against the grain of instinct, is the interiorization, the inner echo, of social demands upon the individual coupled with the picture of his role or identity which he acquires from parents, teachers, and early associates. It is an imaginary, socially fabricated self working against the organism, the self that is biologically grown. By means of this fiction the child is taught to control himself and conform himself to the requirements of social life.

At first sight this seems to be an ingenious and highly necessary device for maintaining an orderly society based upon individual responsibility. In fact it is a penny-wise, pound-foolish blunder which is creating many more problems than it solves. To the degree that society teaches the individual to identify himself with a controlling will separate from his total organism, it merely intensifies his feeling of separateness, from himself and from others. In the long run it aggravates the problem that it is designed to solve, because it creates a style of personality in which an acute sense of responsibility is coupled with an acute sense of alienation.

The mystical experience, whether induced by chemicals or other means, enables the individual to be so peculiarly open and sensitive to organic reality that the ego begins to be seen for the transparent abstraction that it is. In its place there arises (especially in the latter phases of the drug experience) a strong sensation of oneness with others, presumably akin to the sensitivity which enables a flock of birds to twist and turn as one body. A sensation of this kind would seem to provide a far better basis for social love and order than the fiction of the separate will.

The general effect of the drugs seems to be that they diminish defensive attitudes without blurring perception, as in the case of alcohol. We become aware of things against which we normally protect ourselves, and this accounts, I feel, for the high susceptibility to anxiety in the early phases of the experience. But when defenses are down we begin to see, not hallucinations, but customarily ignored aspects of reality—including a sense of social unity which civilized man has long since lost. To regain this sense we do not need to abandon culture and return to some precivilized level, for neither in the drug experience nor in more general forms of mystical experience does one lose the skills or the knowledge which civilization has produced.

I have suggested that in these experiences we acquire clues and insights which should be followed up through certain forms of meditation. Are there not also ways in which we can, even without using the drugs, come back to this sense of unity with other people? The cultured Westerner has a very healthy distaste for crowds and for the loss of personal identity in “herd-consciousness.” But there is an enormous difference between a formless crowd and an organic social group. The latter is a relatively small association in which every member is in communication with every other member. The former is a relatively large association in which the members are in communication only with a leader, and because of this crude structure a crowd is not really an organism. To think of people as “the masses” is to think of them by analogy with a subhuman style of order.

The corporate worship of churches might have been the natural answer to this need, were it not that church services follow the crowd pattern instead of the group pattern. Participants sit in rows looking at the backs of each other’s necks, and are in communication only with the leader—whether preacher, priest, or some symbol of an autocratic God. Many churches try to make up for this lack of communion by “socials” and dances outside the regular services. But these events have a secular connotation, and the type of communion involved is always somewhat distant and demure. There are, indeed, discussion groups in which the leader or “resource person” encourages every member to have his say, but, again, the communion so achieved is merely verbal and ideational.

The difficulty is that the defended defensiveness of the ego recoils from the very thing that would allay it—from associations with others based on physical gestures of affection, from rites, dances, or forms of play which clearly symbolize mutual love between the members of the group. Sometimes a play of this kind will occur naturally and unexpectedly between close friends, but how embarrassing it might be to be involved in the deliberate organization of such a relationship with total strangers ! Nevertheless, there are countless associations of people who, claiming to be firm friends, still lack the nerve to represent their affection for each other by physical and erotic contact which might raise friendship to the level of love. Our trouble is that we have ignored and thus feel insecure in the enormous spectrum of love which lies between rather formal friendship and genital sexuality, and thus are always afraid that once we overstep the bounds of formal friendship we must slide inevitably to the extreme of sexual promiscuity, or worse, to homosexuality.

This unoccupied gulf between spiritual or brotherly love and sexual love corresponds to the cleft between spirit and matter, mind and body, so divided that our affections or our activities are assigned either to one or to the other. There is no continuum between the two, and the lack of any connection, any intervening spectrum, makes spiritual love insipid and sexual love brutal. To overstep the limits of brotherly love cannot, therefore, be understood as anything but an immediate swing to its opposite pole. Thus the subtle and wonderful gradations that lie between the two are almost entirely lost. In other words, the greater part of love is a relationship that we hardly allow, for love experienced only in its extreme forms is like buying a loaf of bread and being given only the two heels.

I have no idea what can be done to correct this in a culture where personal identity seems to depend on being physically aloof, and where many people shrink
even from holding the hand of someone with whom they have no formally sexual or familial tie. To force or make propaganda for more affectionate contacts with others would bring little more than embarrassment. One can but hope that in the years to come our defenses will crack spontaneously, like eggshells when the birds are ready to hatch. This hope may gain some encouragement from all those trends in philosophy and psychology, religion and science, from which we are beginning to evolve a new image of man, not as a spirit imprisoned in incompatible flesh, but as an organism inseparable from his social and natural environment.

This is certainly the view of man disclosed by these remarkable medicines which temporarily dissolve our defenses and permit us to see what separative consciousness normally ignores—the world as an interrelated whole. This vision is assuredly far beyond any drug-induced hallucination or superstitious fantasy. It wears a striking resemblance to the unfamiliar universe that physicists and biologists are trying to describe here and now. For the clear direction of their thought is toward the revelation of a unified cosmology, no longer sundered by the ancient irreconcilables of mind and matter, substance and attribute, thing and event, agent and act, stuff and energy. And if this should come to be a universe in which man is neither thought nor felt to be a lonely subject confronted by alien and threatening objects, we shall have a cosmology not only unified but also joyous.


Patti Smith: Poetry

Perfect Moon

perfect moon
I am calling
perfect moon
clad impure
I approach
your naked neck
perfect moon

perfect moon
I am with you
perfect moon
I adore
to thy great
I am yours
perfect moon

a useless death

[originally published as a small chapbook by the Gotham Book Mart, 1972]

I am on the scaffold. What excitement!
What glitter! What is going on?
I know so little of this country.
I suspect its the coronation of the queen.
NO. Oh god. I’m wrong.
Its the execution of the queen!
and I’m trapped.
there’s no way I can help.
there’s no way I can avoid watching.
perched on this scaffold.
I gotta bird’s eye view.

The king calls for action. like the
director of some blown out passion play.
He makes a weary gesture.
its clear he hasn’t slept in ages.
first come the ladies in waiting.
there they are. thirty of them.
dressed alike. high-waisted
green taffeta gowns.

moving alike. medieval majorettes.
that flemish air. nose in air.
thirty pairs of tiny hands folded
over protruding bellies.

why are condemned women affecting
a pregnant woman’s gesture?

and how comical it is. thirty sentenced
women swaying. some very pretty indeed.
many on the brink of collapse.

The king is muttering. what is he saying?
seems my hearing has become as acute as my view.

“god damn ladies-in-waiting. get rid
of them. how I’ve despised them. always
clutter up the castle. cluck cluck.”

He seems to object to them more than
the queen. but as the saying goes:
kill me ya kill my dogs. and vice versa.
its a package deal. its the rules of
the game. and a king sticks to them.

the ladies are in tears. tearing tissues.
they approach a sizeable block of land.
its roped off and seasoned with fresh
topsoil. 3l shovels are lined up face

The king decrees that they are to dig
their own grave. Jesus what a rucas.
The women lose what composure they
had in the procession. They sob openly.
they wring their hands and cling to
one another. several fall prostrate.
those more distraught tear their hair
and rip their gowns.

This is getting ridiculous. The prince
is embarrassed. I throw a quick glance
toward the castle. Backdrop. There
is the queen. No one has noticed her.
She moves as if a dream. listless.
weightless. she seems to have little
to do with the proceedings. does she
understand that death is near?
she seems completely unaware.

How I admire her! She is a true heroine.
Oblivious of her power. how power, love
and death revolve around her! as though
she had never stood before a mirror.
The king is exasperated. her lack of
recognition. does his word mean nothing?
The ladies-in-waiting make up for it.
they weep harder at the sight of their
gentle queen. they beat their breasts in
unison. a few onlookers swoon. The
cook has to be carried off.

The queen is handed a spade. Was that a
smile that crossed her face? its impossible
to tell now.

Suddenly she shivers and says, “I’m cold”.
Instantly I feel the intense cold.
everyone does. god, its below zero.
I’m confused. wasn’t it just spring?
everyone has on thin wraps.
Even the king has but a simple velvet cloak
and not his usual ermine.

The ladies’ teeth chatter. the only way
to keep warm is to move. they begin to
dig like the devil. thirty women working
hard in the soil creates great warmth.
if they stop to rest they’ll freeze
to death.

The queen can’t seem to get in the swing
of things. she helps a bit. loosens a
chunk of hard clay or helps excavate a
huge rock. occasionally a smooth stone
or a pretty piece of crystal will attract
her. she handles it. examines it. turns
it over. drops it in her train which she
has gathered up smiling.
her childish delight in serving herself.

Frost is making it harder to dig. yet
the women are working like madmen to
keep warm.

The king has lost interest. the queen is
wandering off. everyone is going home.

I lose my footing
fall off the scaffold
everything in slow motion.

crime without passion

for sam shepard

the murdered boy
the murdered boy
the murdered boy

Oh I was bad
didn’t do what I should
mama catch me with a lickin’
and tell me to be good
when I was bad twice times
she pushed me in a hole
and cut off all my fingers
and laid them in a finger bowl

My mother killed me
my father grieved for me
my little sister Alma Lee
wept under the almond tree

Oh I loved a car
and when I was feeling sad
I’d lay down on my daddies ford
and I’d start to feel good
but I got real bad
robbed hubcaps from the men
and sold them to the women
then stole them back again
and you know when I was grown
had hubcaps of my own
and a Hudson Hornet car
and rolled the pretty ladies
and often went too far

I went to Chicago
I went to Kalamazu
I slid down to Nashville
raced in Tolkume
I rode to Selenas
rode by the sea
but the people all scolded
and pointed to me
they said there’s a bad boy
I was so bad boy
that they gathered their daughters
I heard what they said
stay away from him honey
cause that boy is bad
and though he’s hung good
and flashes that loot
steer away from his highway
he rides a wrong route
cause he’s a bad boy
Yeah I was so bad boy
my mama killed me
my father grieved for me
my little sister Alma Lee
wept under the almond tree

She Wept For Me

And I wept on the stock car
I crashed through the trees
fenders hot as angels
blazed inside me
I captured the junkyards
I jack knifed the cars
and sped to the canyon
but never hid far
from the auto mechanics
car wreckers
den of thieves
murderers greasers
I worshiped these men
but they hated me mom
They called me mamas boy
they screamed me to leave them
they threatened to me then
mom mom mom
Mom Mom Mom

Oh Monday at midnight
til Tuesday at two
drunk on tequila
I was thinking of you mom
I drove my car on mom
My stock car was blazing
wrecking cars was my art
I held a picture of you ma
close to my heart
I rode closed window
it was 90 degrees
the croud was screaming
screaming at me they hated me
they said I was nonsense
true diver chicken driver
no sence

But I couldn’t hear them
I couldn’t see
those fenders hot as angels
blazed inside me
I sped on lined with speed and heat
and mama I cracked up with the croud at my feet
I rolled in flames rolled in a pit
where you laid me out with a tire iron
and shot me with your shit

And I could’ve got up
bur the croud it screamed no
That boy is evil
too bad for parole
so bad his mama
rolled him in a hole
and cut off all his fingers
and laid them in a finger bowl

His mother killed him
His father grieved for him
His little sister Alma Lee
wept under the almond tree


[from Living with the Animals, edited by Gary Indiana, New York: Faber & Faber, 1995]

My Grandfather was the village potter. He was also the keeper of a famous stream. It was said to have curative powers, and people came from great distances to fill tiny bottles to wear around their necks. All about were trees. The willow curving above the tiled roof of my grandfather’s house. The cypress heading the garden at stream’s end and just beyond, past the workshed, the dense blossoming of his orchard. In summer the blossoms fell, carpeting the earth. In autumn the golden fruit followed, fragrant and sweet. The people, having filled their bottles, would buy the fruit and my grandfather’s wares. His bowls were especially prized. All of his love fused in their uncommon glaze. Each imperishable, unique.

On the eve of my fourteenth year, he sent a messenger with gifts and a letter requesting that I come and serve as his apprentice. I would learn all that he knew and one day inherit his land and continue his work. My father agreed, and the next morning, as my mother wept, I packed my sack, called my dogs, and said my farewells. It was a long way and the messenger and I returned on foot, in silence. My dogs ran on ahead in chase of a hare. As we approached the familiar stream I too broke into a run. The evening’s last light heightened the beauty of the woodland, the orchards and the surrounding hills, and I could not contain my joy. I arrived at my grandfather’s door flushed and road weary. He welcomed me with a bowl of warm milk and thick sour bread. I could not help thinking that soon I would be drinking from my own bowl turned by my own hand.

That night my dreams were invaded by the baying of my dogs. I dreamed of the forest, the stream and sky. I dreamed everywhere I ran the earth was my own. The next morning I began my studies. I worked hard. The days bled into seasons. I was happy there. My dogs ran free and I was experiencing new sensations, the most consuming being the power I felt when I threw at the wheel.

The seasons bled into years. My grandfather spent a lot of time in space. He would sit for hours in the garden and stare until something in his line of vision would disintegrate, break into a thousand tiny flashes and just disappear. I watched his progress from a small opening in the potters shed. A rock, a bush, and then, to my great horror, his favorite dog. After that he stayed in the garden all of the time–even at night.

One morning I sat before him and our eyes locked. Remembering the dog, I held on. His eyes were like violet flowers–centuries of love and death seemed to swirl in their purple depths. Mine were white–untested, pure. Our energies met full force, but I was younger and stronger and he collapsed. After that I avoided his eyes. I kept my dogs penned in a nearby field, and in a corner of the shed I nursed Mirza, an orphaned whelp, the only surviving trace of my grandfather’s favorite dog.

I loved my grandfather, but I loved my life more. I spent a lot of time in the hills with Mirza, searching the caves for new deposits of clay. Soon I would be a man, I would have my own kiln, be my own master. My grandfather remained in the garden, an almost discarnate fixture. I continued my work.

On the morning of my eighteenth year I extracted a special bowl from the kiln. I delighted as always in the birth process of my wares. A firebox provided the heat which passed up through the firebars into the pottery chamber, the chamber of clay dying with the solid birth of the object. Demolishing the temporary structure, I scraped away the dead clay and turned the bowl in my hands–a gift for Mirza. Destruction and creation commingling in a single piece. Something welled up inside me as I placed the bowl before Mirza, and her eyes, violet and wide, seemed to tell me it was good.

That same evening, my grandfather vanished. The people of the village gathered with their torches and searched the field and forest. They never found him. It was my opinion, though I told no one but Mirza, that he had turned his gaze inward and consumed himself. I formed an urn in his memory and applied a special glaze, an almost unholy shade of purple, to match my grandfather’s eyes. I set it in the garden where he once sat. I noticed visitors averted their eyes when passing it.

All that had been my grandfather’s came into my hands. And I reached beyond him, extending into sculpture. I formed cherubs, statues, monoliths. My fame grew; my wealth increased. Life was good. I was strong and healthy. I could have my pick of the village girls. Yet I dwelled on the outskirts of my own prosperity. I preferred to be alone with Mirza and my new dog, a wolf cub I found in a cave while searching for clay. In time he became my constant companion. Mirza would lie by the urn, regarding us with a mixture of sadness and reproach. But I was too restless to comfort her. I let her draw comfort from the peace of the garden while I went hunting with my wolf dog.

The village widows, bred on superstition, warned me against him. He was a wolf, an agent of evil. I only laughed. He was but myself–a loner with an unapologetic, lively nature. He reveled in his solitude, as did I. At day’s end, when the last of the light highlighted all the beauty that was now mine, I stood and surveyed it with greedy pleasure. I opened the store of wine; I drank with abandon. Within me was a burning. “I am my own kiln,” I cried. I conjured waves of light, arms, torsos that became infamous mold in my hands. I danced upon the low wood tables as my beast howled. It was our joy.

On brilliant nights we emerged from the shed to dance in the moonlight, only to find Mirza hovering over our joy like an old Greek nurse. She was like the women in the village and I took to treating her as I treated them, with contempt. Perhaps my wolf felt this from me, because he too was showing signs of hostility toward her.

Mirza, who I had rescued with such care from my grandfather’s gaze. Who I had fed from a bottle, brushed, and caressed. Who I had whispered all my youthful hopes and desires. But I was no longer a youth, but a man. And she no longer a pup, but a stinging grandmother. Every race is conquering. She was killed by my wolf dog. She already belonged to the past, sympathetic, beyond dignity. She was lying there under the cypress tree pouring syrup from her clock. The spring in the back of her neck was clear and sweet. I don’t know. I never drank from it. Nor did I pass long in those eyes, as necessary as the glasses for a 3-D movie. She was sympathetic. In the remote soil of her eyes were the ruins, the arcades, the archways of history.

The women beat my wolf. They demanded his skin but I could not kill him. He was more myself than dog. That idiot smile. He cowered when he saw me but bared his teeth. In a rage I cut them, humiliating him. I penned him up. I put him out to run with the old women. The women with rattles in their chests. I no longer went out to hunt. I longed to run with him, share his humiliation. Maybe I loved him more than before. I grew weak. The lore of fathers. I watched him, lying beneath the cypress tree. When the sky was heavy with almonds. When the sun beat down. When the fanwise invasion of wind whistles in the mouth. He lies there. His eyes, that were white and burning, now remote and sympathetic; resting directly on the future with the sticky sweetness of a clock.

Several nights after I had filed the teeth of my wolf I noticed the atmosphere shifting around me. I seemed to identify with everything. I was the foundation, the sticky coil of a vase. I was odorless stacks of fresh-fired plates, the cold stone of the kiln. It was impossible to work. Rolling the coils was the worst. They became alive in my hand. The lovely unrelenting statues would undulate in smoke. The freshly molded huntress waved her wrists, and I could discern her hips rotating sweetly beneath her girdle of soft wet clay. With a rope and pulley I laid her against the wall.

I was sweating and shivering and she was beckoning. I pressed my lips against her melting face, the coils of her hair squishing between my eager fingertips. I became addicted to a paste of almond meal and paregoric, of humping and shattering art. My trade suffered. Tourists and holy men sought vessels–souvenirs of the graced grounds where my dogs ran in packs. I suffered, passing for hours on a bed of dust, tormented with lust for objects, walls, and an intense craving for a sweet and sticky gas to blot me out. The dogs were wilder than ever. I couldn’t breathe. The women had a special tea sent to me.

Then a new shift. The sensation of invasion by a palpitating fist of warm light. The tea was sweet. At the bottom of the glass was a colorless grape. In a few hours it turned. I put it in the glazed bowl I had made for Mirza. It suddenly dominated the room. It was a breast with a sore and poking nipple, the oiled bottom of a slave. I lay on my stomach, my heart pounding against the stone floor–my sex obliterated by objects–the bowl grew still larger. The vibrating grape split and revealed a white snake. Someone had eaten a portion of it. Something was alive and wriggling inside of me. My belly swelled like the cheeks of a glass-blower. I couldn’t move. The pain increased into the sound of wailing curses. The women entered, circled, and shook their rattles. Montage of trees, bowl, and canine teeth. Who would feed my wolf… The sting of relief won out. I lay there conscious only of the motion of my head rising, of lips to a glass or a stream of powder entering my vein. When at last the fever subsided I rose with a start. I dressed in a simple suit of cloth stuff and inspected everything. The statues and vessels had been preserved with wet sheets.

Nothing lost. Everything was blooming, the air vibrant and sweet. I found my wolf dog lying in the garden. Perhaps he had shared my fever as he had once shared my joy. But no one had cared for him and he was hardly more than a shadow, a translucent coat of fur stretched beneath the cypress tree. I called for a boy to fetch a syphon and the bowl that had once belonged to Mirza. I remembered the spring and drew from it. I had never drunk from it but the waters were legendary. I dipped from them and poured between his filed teeth. I felt woozy. I laid my head upon the coat of my wolf dog and slept.

Idiot rule. The big tree fucks the small grass. Tomorrow I am a tadpole, an insignificant shell. But this afternoon I pass for a long time dreaming and feeling a thrill to the kill of Mirza. To a time when my young wolf dog was mad with the projection of the human personality.


Salif Keita – Yambo