In The Field Of The Seraphim

“When a society is afraid of its poets, it is afraid of itself. A society afraid of itself stands as another definition of hell.”
— Lenore Kandel

In The Field Of The Seraphim - Gwyllm 2014
In The Field Of The Seraphim – Gwyllm 2014

Before I stand accused of nostalgia, let me offer this up: This entry is a telling of a tale of exploration, and perhaps illumination, not unlike countless others across time and the universe, but it has a set and setting…

I am not one to relive/rehash my youth. I am quite happy in this day and age. As far as youth goes it was not the most comfortable of times, in my way I was awkward, and not quite in step with the society of the time.

Part of this tale is the discovery that one had been indoctrinated from early age consciously and unconsciously.  The shock of this realization can engender a certain amount of despair and darkness that one has to muck out. Spiritual and psychological awakenings are births, and as such are messy by nature. I think that everyone has these realizations along the way. For me it came early, as you shall read.

I hope you enjoy this story, and that you find it revealing if not of me, then of those times.

Bright Blessings,
Gwyllm

~~

On The Menu:
Psychedelic Quotes
In The Field Of The Seraphim
Lenore Kandel Poetry
Richard Brautigan Poetry
Jefferson Airplane
Country Joe & The Fish
~~~~~~
Psychedelic Quotes:

Ergot
Ergot

“I am 100 percent in favor of the intelligent use of drugs, and 1,000 percent against the thoughtless use of them, whether caffeine or LSD. And drugs are not central to my life.” – Timothy Leary

“Acid doesn’t give you truths; it builds machines that push the envelope of perception. Whatever revelations came to me then have dissolved like skywriting. All I really know is that those few years saddled me with a faith in the redemptive potential of the imagination which, however flat, stale and unprofitable the world seems to me now, I cannot for the life of me shake.”
-Erik Davis

“Objects and their functions no longer had any significance. All I perceived was perception itself, the hell of forms and figures devoid of human emotion and detached from the reality of my unreal environment. I was an instrument in a virtual world that constantly renewed its own meaningless image in a living world that was itself perceived outside of nature. And since the appearance of things was no longer definitive but limitless, this paradisiacal awareness freed me from the reality external to myself. The fire and the rose, as it were, became one.”
― Federico Fellini

“It’s a very salutary thing to realize that the rather dull universe in which most of us spend most of our time is not the only universe there is. I think it’s healthy that people should have this experience.”
― Aldous Huxley, Moksha: Writings on Psychedelics & the Visionary Experience

“Part of what psychedelics do is they decondition you from cultural values. This is what makes it such a political hot potato. Since all culture is a kind of con game, the most dangerous candy you can hand out is one which causes people to start questioning the rules of the game.”
― Terence McKenna

“I wish creatine (and whey) could solve all world problems… and lift humanity into the next level of consciousness. Apparently, psychedelics are more likely to do so…”
― Deepak ‘The Fitness Doc’ Hiwale
~~~~~~

In The Field Of The Seraphim

Gwyllm - 1966
Gwyllm – 1966

 Intro: In the early summer of 1966 I left home at the age of 14 and headed to downtown Denver for most of that summer.  I worked at what was one of the few remaining Beat Coffee shops, “The Green Spider”, which was located at 17th and Pearl Streets,  2 or 3 doors down from “The Folklore Center” which was an instrument and music store that I spent an inordinate amount of time hanging out in.  I discovered The Blues, not the derivative stuff coming out of Britain, but The Blues there, and layers upon layers of Folk Music and the emerging Psychedelic Music from The West Coast and elsewhere.  Pretty heady stuff for a young guy, but I leapt into it with the assistance of Harry who owned The Folklore Center, and his chief sales assistant, Michael O’Sullivan.  Michael turned me on to the first EP of Country Joe & The Fish, and the early Big Brother album amongst others.  Michael had been in the Air Force but had bailed I think with an insanity plea, he had the longest hair I had ever seen, an he talked to me all the time about his times in San Francisco in the Haight Ashbury community.  He was like someone who had had a vision, and he wanted to spread the good news.  He talked about a band that he’d seen, and that it was the most amazing band ever.  He talked about the vocalist, and the sound.  “It’s like no other band” he said, “The Jefferson Airplane, they are fantastic!”  By the time early August came, I was considering heading to San Francisco to see what it was all about.  I walked over to the Folklore Center one afternoon, and Michael met me at the door. “I’ve got something for you to listen too!” he exclaimed. And it was The Airplanes’ first album:

I was entranced. I mentioned it to my friend James, about this burning desire to go to the Bay Area to see The Jefferson Airplane.  Now James was about 3 years older than yours truly, which seemed almost ancient.  He had tales of riding freights to Chicago to see Blues Bands, and tales of riding across to California.  He smoked rolled up cigarettes, usually garnering the tobacco from butts and the like.  He was the epitome of boho cool to me.  He knew the poets, and he was obviously more experienced than I! ….. 

Prt 1. Travelling The Rails

James & I made our plans, including a raid on an Air Raid Shelter in the basement of the apartment house across from The Green Spider for saltless crackers, candy etc. It was all very exciting, and in a week or so we caught a ride from friends up to to Cheyenne, right in the middle of “Frontier Days”. If there was ever a backward facing place in 1966, Wyoming was it. The one hip location in town was a Coffee Shop, with military recruitment posters as decor. Mind Boggling.

Having to kill time, we snuck into the Frontier Days Event for a while, and caught “Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs” (not bad, they gave us a knowing nod whilst they played), having missed those psychedelic crusaders, “The Doppler Effect” who were traveling through with a light show (first on the block kids!), and their assorted circle of freaks… We dodged drunk cowboys looking for fights half the night until we made our escape out to the rail yard around midnight… 

FreightWe eventually caught the Highball to Ogden/Salt Lake, in a refrigerated car without the refrigeration on of course… we climbed down into the refrigeration unit from the top. It was a long trip, and though we had crackers and candy, we realized we had no water. Thirst started to build up… and the noise, dust and dirt was a straight assault on the senses. We rode for awhile on top of the car, stars wheeling as we laughed into the darkness.

It seemed an eternity, but we finally arrived into the Ogden/Salt Lake Rail Yards half way towards the next evening. we spent the next couple of hours dodging Rail Dicks armed with axe-handles looking for bums and freeloaders… (which we qualified for in spades at this point) We finally connected onto another train just as it was leaving for California, with pursuit close behind. We landed on a moving piggy-back car, that as it gained speed, gave no relief from the wind. By the time it was dark we were hurtling over the great Salt Lake at what seemed 80 miles an hour.

roof

We were starting to chill down, having sweated with the heat, and no water, with the wind buffeting us, our temperatures started to dip. I was miserable. James decided to open up the Truck Trailer so we could get some relief from the cold and wind… He was at the end of the car struggling with the trailer door when the wind caught him, and the door swung James off the car holding on for dear life to the door handle over the Salt Lake. I grabbed the door and pushed and pulled him back in. He had let out a mighty scream at first, but held on for dear life.

We crawled up into the car when we finally got it all under control.. Ah heaven! and then, we began to sneeze.. we both started to have the most amazing allergy attack.

The trailer had been used to haul fruit, and it was full of pollen, and mold. We finally crawled back out of the trailer and spent a very cold night huddled at the front of the car, buffeted by the wind.

Next morning we pulled into the railhead in Nevada at Sparks. Plenty of rail dicks, but we just huddled down, too exhausted to move. The train eventually started up again, and we headed into the Sierra Nevada. We started to become very excited, knowing that we were on the edge of California! We knew we would dead-head at Roseville above Sacramento, and we figured it was about 6-7 hours away. We started babbling about water, and bathing and getting into the bay area. We sucked on the candy, as our mouths were cracking most painfully.

maprailThings were picking up. The higher we went the cooler it got. We were elated, and then up ahead, we saw a tunnel. Into it we went, and all of a sudden, we were choking on diesel fumes from the 4 engines ahead. I ended up wrapping my shirt around my face trying to filter out the smoke and carbon monoxide. There was nothing for it. Just hold on, keep your face down and try not to breath… for 8 miles!

Finally we burst out of the tunnel. We were covered in soot, my hair was caked with grease and stood straight back. James was rolling with laughter on the cars floor, until I pointed out he was just as filthy. We eventually came to the peak elevation, and then started winding down into the Sacramento Valley. Heaven. That fabulous light that defines California was cascading down.

We talked about the bands we would see, and the people we would meet up with. We finally got into Roseville, and as we slid off the piggy-back car, a jeep pulled up with rail-dicks. One was on the radio, and we heard him say, “we got two more” I just knew we were in for it. The one on the radio walked up, looked at us, and said, “come over here” He led us to the jeep, and pulled out a watermelon and gave it to us! He pointed out a potable water source, and told us how to get to the highway. He said, ” you look rough… take the bus next time!” We thanked them profusely, first for not arresting us, and for the kind gift. You never know when you might run into a Saint, I swear. I held my head under the water and it ran black. We drank and drank until we could drink no more. Water never, never tasted better. We had been 3 days without, across the great American desert. Luck must bless youth. I didn’t realize the danger we were in for quite awhile…. Speaking of danger, a day or so later a maintenance crew found a body in the tunnel be. Someone had slit his throat and threw him off a moving train.  It could of possibly been the same train James & I were on. You just never know.

So we made it to the highway, stuck out our thumbs and got a ride immediately by a trucker on his way to the Bay Area. He dropped us off 4 blocks from where we were going to stay in Berkeley.

Prt 2 In Berkeley:

Jabberwock-Coffee House
Jabberwock-Coffee House

So we rest up in Berkeley… I connect with friends/acquaintances I had met in Denver who had been passing through from New York City. (They had given us the address of the commune we were staying at) Franz and Stephanie. Nice couple, he, a hair dresser from the Village, and Stephanie was a designer. They had hitched through Denver a month before I ventured west. They stayed with me in one of the many places I crashed that summer. (in their case, the Speed House – kinda explanatory!) We had some great times and good conversations. 

Well we were in Berkeley, in a commune with very nice people. 4 blocks to the west of Telegraph or so. It has been a long time, I wouldn’t be able to find it now. Berkeley was buzzing in that summer. The Peace Movement, SDS, Telegraph of course, and Sproul Plaza. I wandered everywhere. Fog at night. Hungry, always hungry. How come a 14 year old is always so hungry? I couldn’t busk fast enough or panhandle fast enough for food. We ate the crackers, ate the candy, and every bowl of brown rice pushed in our faces at the commune. The main room in the house had a pool table. I really wasn’t very good at it, and felt a fool everytime I picked up a cue. It was fun though. Music was always playing. Bob Dylan – Sad Eyed Lady Of The Low Lands. I had listened to Dylan for a couple of years at that point, but I fell head over heels for Blond on Blond. Evenings drifting with cannabis smoke in the air, and Dylans’ voice floating through the rooms and the back yard. 

It was a good time.

I needed work, and things were tight. So, I found out that you could do day labor on farms in the valley. With one of the guys at the Commune, I went to Oakland at 4:00AM to catch a bus. The whole bus was full of Mexican migrant farm workers. We were the only 2 gringos’ aboard.

I swear, there is nothing harder than picking crops or clearing weeds from 6 in the morning to 6 at night on an empty stomach. I actually ended up in the hole owing the bus and the crew chief. The Mexicans were blazingly fast, and kind, very kind. Everytime one sped past me, he stuffed my basket with veg. I was humbled. They knew me from Adam, and yet they helped me as they could. I sit here typing, and I am smiling at the memories of them. 

Finally (cutting to the chase) after much discussion about LSD, one of the commune members mentioned that I could partake if I wanted. Being the weekend, the whole house was geared up for this. I had sat and watched 2 or so earlier sessions, demuring. I was curious though, very curious. The fact was I had said to my friends from NY (“Of course I have!”) when I first met them. Of course, I also said I was 16 which we all know was not the truth….

So, the story goes like this…

around 6:00 in the evening, I am offered the Host. Supposedly it is something called “Sandoz” said with much gravity and smiling. I accept it, swallow and out the door we go, wandering up to Telegraph, where we eventually wander into the Jabberwock Cafe. We sit back, have a espresso, and Country Joe and the Fish wander on to the stage and start playing. The music is wonderful, and as it goes on, “it” becomes wider and wider. The Farfisa Organ takes on a calling sound, that I soon find irresistible, and soon I find myself crawling under the organ to sit and soak it all in, to the bemusement of the band and my friends. At the end of the set, we head out. I hear the music reverberating throughout my being.

The night is slowly coming on, and we head down the streets to the commune, and it seems like eternity…

I notice that there is an inner dialogue going on, and it is like nothing I have ever experienced. I am looking at myself, and “someone” is commenting on my actions and thoughts. It seems to be painful, and it unfolds deeper and deeper. I see motivations, and the “accidents” and paths chosen that have led me to this place. I am soon being stripped bare in a light that is to some point alien, but not unfamilar. I can see that my life is not a good one. I have started to cover up my being with coatings of un-truth. And each coating is re-enforced by each action regardless. I am smothering. I am uncomfortable, and I have to walk, and get away and…

Oh, the ragman draws circles
Up and down the block.
I’d ask him what the matter was
But i know that he don’t talk.
And the ladies treat me kindly
And furnish me with tape,
But deep inside my heart
I know i can’t escape.
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.
Well, shakespeare, he’s in the alley
With his pointed shoes and his bells,
Speaking to some french girl,
Who says she knows me well.
And i would send a message
To find out if she’s talked,
But the post office has been stolen
And the mailbox is locked.
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.”

reverberates through my head. I wander out of my revelry, and find myself in the living room watching a pool game. I realize I know where every ball will go before it happens, because there are lines radiating out from each ball with the path it will take. They also leave the lines behind them, glowing and whispering…

Mona tried to tell me
To stay away from the train line.
She said that all the railroad men
Just drink up your blood like wine.
An’ i said, “oh, i didn’t know that,
But then again, there’s only one i’ve met
An’ he just smoked my eyelids
An’ punched my cigarette.”
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.
Grandpa died last week
And now he’s buried in the rocks,
But everybody still talks about
How badly they were shocked.
But me, i expected it to happen,
I knew he’d lost control
When he built a fire on main street
And shot it full of holes.
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again..”

I am totally enraptured by what is occuring. I am also afraid. I am of two minds. I am of many minds. I certainly am confused.
My friends from New York (Franz and Stephanie) sit down next to me on the couch. Gentle probing questions come. “How are you doing”? “What are you seeing”? “Do you have something you need to share”? So I pour my heart out, about seeing the Truth of my young self. I painfully confess my age. “Oh, we knew, we were waiting for you to tell us though” came the reply.

So we sit and talk about being truthful to your self, and learning to love the truth even when it hurts. On one hand this seems like a great idea, on the other hand, this is killing me. I feel the waves going back and forth inside.

Now the senator came down here
Showing ev’ryone his gun,
Handing out free tickets
To the wedding of his son.
An’ me, i nearly got busted
An’ wouldn’t it be my luck
To get caught without a ticket
And be discovered beneath a truck.
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.
Now the preacher looked so baffled
When i asked him why he dressed
With twenty pounds of headlines
Stapled to his chest.
But he cursed me when i proved it to him,
Then i whispered, “not even you can hide.
You see, you’re just like me,
I hope you’re satisfied.”
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.”

The night wears on. I am standing in a hallway, staring at a light bulb above me. I walk then outside into the garden. It is heavy with presence and beauty. I sit beneath a eucalyptus tree. I feel odd. I feel cleansed. I feel like myself. I go deeper and deeper. People wander out to check on me. I realize that they care. This seems to be first in my life.

The night breathes in and out of me. I examine the story of my life further. I see that there is a path, and I have to find it. My mind boggles at the whole idea. Confusion is like a river and it carries us all along. I see the world as a river. I see time stretching out behind and before me. I am skewered in the now.

Now the rainman gave me two cures,
Then he said, “jump right in.”
The one was texas medicine,
The other was just railroad gin.
An’ like a fool i mixed them
An’ it strangled up my mind,
An’ now people just get uglier
An’ i have no sense of time.
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.
When ruthie says come see her
In her honky-tonk lagoon,
Where i can watch her waltz for free
‘neath her panamanian moon.
An’ i say, “aw come on now,
You must know about my debutante.”
An’ she says, “your debutante just knows what you need
But i know what you want.”
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.”

The hours keep rolling past. People sit, and talk. For the first time, I feel no separation between them and myself. I find a place like peace. Everything looks like a giant fish eye lense photo. Everything is like a giant calliope! It is a celebration! Everyone knows the great secret! The world swirls ever so fast.
I hear an echoing laugh going on and on and on. I realize it is coming out of me.

Faces look like plastic. I find myself staring in a mirror. I loathe what I see, I see something else, what am I doing in the Bathroom? I find myself in the hall staring at light bulb again. My head truly hurts with all that is inside. Will this ever end?
I have to get outside, I have to walk!

“Now the bricks lay on grand street
Where the neon madmen climb.
They all fall there so perfectly,
It all seems so well timed.
An’ here i sit so patiently
Waiting to find out what price
You have to pay to get out of
Going through all these things twice.
Oh, mama, can this really be the end,
To be stuck inside of mobile
With the memphis blues again.”

Berkeley Sunrise
Berkeley Sunrise

The sun is rising, and we are walking in the morning mist, up into the hills. I watch the sun come up. Everything is suffused with beauty. I hear the world waking up. I think I must be a madman. This passes. I feel happy. I want to do this again. No, it was much to painful. We walk down the hill back to the commune and I finally fall asleep out in the yard in the chair.

My life would never be the same again.

Things that I did not do on that visit to California:
I did not make it to San Francisco.
I did not see the Jefferson Airplane.
I missed the Beatles last show
I missed the last Acid Test

Somewhere along the line James disappeared.  Perhaps to Big Sur, or down to L.A.  One minute he was there, and the next, gone.

I realize in writing all this out, that my date for my first LSD experience was in August. August 30th to be exact. I went and researched play dates of Country Joe and the Fish. They played the Jabberwock at the end of August. I also realize that as I wandered down Telegraph that I was there when the Beatles Revolver Album came out. (August 15th to be exact for the US release) Yellow Submarine made much more sense on August 31st. The window display at a record store changed when I was there from the Byrds’ Fifth Dimension to The Revolver Album. I have a mind for trivia.

I still get Bob Dylan fixations all these years later. I still like watching pool balls. I know longer know where they are going though. And that is alright.

On this trip, I did not see colours, or visions. What I saw was my young life, and how it was unfolding. LSD saved my life, or at least my spirit. I am sure that it is not that different than many others experienced that month in Berkeley. I got to meet my shadow, and a new possible self. LSD is a powerful tool. Use it wisely.

If LSD can begin to turn someones life around in one go, then it must be a blessing. I have spent much time pondering that night and morning. It is the dividing line in my life, then and now. Still in the now. The watershed so to speak.

I want to thank the gentle souls who guided me that night, and protected me as my soul came forth. Many thanks to Franz for his probing questions and gentle guidance, and Stephanies’ caring and constant cups of tea. I never saw them again after I left Berkeley. I don’t know where they are, but my gratitude goes out to them still all these years on.
~~
Looking Back: I realize years later that this first experience exposed me to what I would call the observer self for the first time.  Before I studied the works of Gurdjieff, or read the works of Jung, I came face to face with the observer, and my life was never the same.  One of the difficulties afterwards, and for years after was finding the language for these experiences. As I grow older, the language has emerged, and resolution along with deeper understanding.

Bright Blessings,
Gwyllm 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Lenore Kandel Poetry

The Love Book
The Love Book

Invocation for Maitreya

to invoke the divinity in man with the mutual gift of love
with love as animate and bright as death
the alchemical transfiguration of two separate entities
into one efflorescent deity made manifest in radiant human flesh
our bodies whirling through the cosmos, the kiss of heartbeats
the subtle cognizance of hand for hand, and tongue for tongue
the warm moist fabric of the body opening into star-shot rose flowers
the dewy cock effulgent as it bursts the star
sweet cunt-mouth of world serpent Ouroboros girding the universe
as it takes in its own eternal cock, and cock and cunt united
join the circle
moving through realms of flesh made fantasy and fantasy made flesh
love as a force that melts the skin so that our bodies join
one cell at a time
until there is nothing left but the radiant universe
the meteors of light flaming through wordless skies
until there is nothing left but the smell of love
but the taste of love, but the fact of love
until love lies dreaming in the crotch of god …
~~
Enlightenment Poem

we have all been brothers, hermaphroditic as oysters

bestowing our pearls carelessly

no one yet had invented ownership

nor guilt nor time
we watched the seasons pass, we were as crystalline as snow

and melted gently into newer forms

as stars spun round our heads

we had not yet learned betrayal
our selves were pearls

irritants transmuted into luster

and offered carelessly

our pearls became more precious and our sexes static

mutability grew a shell, we devised different languages

new words for new concepts, we intvented alarm clocks

fences loyalty

still… even now… making a feint at communion

infinite perceptions

I remember

we have all been brothers

and offer carelessly
~~

To Whom It Does Concern

Do you believe me when I say / you’re beautiful
I stand here and look at you out of the vision of my eyes
and into the vision of your eyes and I see you and you’re an
animal
and I see you and you’re divine and I see you and you’re a
divine animal
and you’re beautiful
the divine is not separate from the beast; it is the total crea-
ture that
transcends itself
the messiah that has been invoked is already here
you are that messiah waiting to be born again into awareness
you are beautiful; we are all beautiful
you are divine; we are all divine
divinity becomes apparent on its own recognition
accept the being that you are and illuminate yourself”
~~
Poem for Tyrants

sentient beings are numberless-
I vow to enlighten them all

-The First Vow of Buddhism

it seems I must love even you
easier loving the pretty things
the children the morning glories
easier (as compassion grows)
to love the stranger

easy even to realize (with compassion)
the pain and terror implicit in those
who treat the world around them
with such brutality such hate

but oh I am no christ
blessing my executioners
I am no buddha no saint
nor have I that incandescent strength
of faith illuminated

yet even so
you are a sentient being
breathing this air
even as I am a sentient being
breathing this air
seeking my own enlightenment
I must seek yours

if I had love enough
if I had faith enough
perhaps I could transcend your path
and alter even that

forgive me, then―
I cannot love you yet
~~~~~
Richard Brautigan Poetry

Richard Brautigan
Richard Brautigan

At the California Institute of Technology

I don’t care how God-damn smart
these guys are: I’m bored.
~~
Gee, You’re So Beautiful That It’s Starting To Rain

Oh, Marcia,
I want your long blonde beauty
to be taught in high school,
so kids will learn that God
lives like music in the skin
and sounds like a sunshine harpsicord.
I want high school report cards
to look like this:
~~
Just Because

Just because
people love your mind,
doesn’t mean they
have to have
your body,
too.
~~
Yes, the Fish Music

A trout-colored wind blows
through my eyes, through my fingers,
and I remember how the trout
used to hide from the dinosaurs
when they came to drink at the river.
The trout hid in subways, castles,
and automobiles. They waited patiently for the dinosaurs to go away.
~~~~~~

~~~~~~

The Calling - Gwyllm 2013
The Calling – Gwyllm 2013

Love

Embracing Tao, you become embraced.
Supple, breathing gently, you become reborn.
Clearing your vision, you become clear.
Nurturing your beloved, you become impartial.
Opening your heart, you become accepted.
Accepting the World, you embrace Tao.
Bearing and nurturing,
Creating but not owning,
Giving without demanding,
Controlling without authority,
This is love.
– Lao Tzu