The lovely Lo Fo of the western land
Plucks mulberry leaves by the waterside.
Across the green boughs stretches out her white hand;
In golden sunshine her rosy robe is dyed.
‘my silkworms are hungry, I cannot stay.
Tarry not with your five-horse cab, I pray.’
Li Po (Li Bai)
The Great Wheel:
A beautiful week here in P-Town. Working in the N.E., working on art, hanging with my sweetheart.
Here we are, at perfect balance, the vernal Equinox. I love the cross quarter days, the feeling of The Great Wheel, the round, the juggernaut of eternity. We are here for awhile, these are our moments, and the world hangs in perfect balance.
It is colder up here on the hills, but the views! I look out as I type, and it is as if I am in a forest with just a few houses. A sweet illusion, but it works. We are plotting our return to inner Portland though, as the walking here takes you onto roads where one must compete with cars, and we are at a distance from most everyone we know.
Working on art, and trying to revive Radio Free EarthRites if I can just get my head around some tech stuff.
Thanks for visiting, I hope this finds you all well.
On The Menu:
Poems For The Vernal Equinox
Bad Liquor Pond
~~~~~~ Rancho Relaxo:
~~~~~~ Poems For The Vernal Equinox:
“The afternoon is bright,
with spring in the air,
a mild March afternoon,
with the breath of April stirring,
I am alone in the quiet patio
looking for some old untried illusion –
some shadow on the whiteness of the wall
some memory asleep
on the stone rim of the fountain,
perhaps in the air
the light swish of some trailing gown.”
– Antonio Machado, 1875-1939
“I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.”
– William Wordsworth, Daffodils
“Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough.”
– A. E. Houseman, Shropshire Lad
“Ere frost-flower and snow-blossom faded and fell,
and the splendor of winter had passed out of sight,
The ways of the woodlands were fairer and stranger
than dreams that fulfill us in sleep with delight;
The breath of the mouths of the winds had hardened on tree-tops
and branches that glittered and swayed
Such wonders and glories of blossom like snow
or of frost that outlightens all flowers till it fade
That the sea was not lovelier than here was the land,
nor the night than the day, nor the day than the night,
Nor the winter sublimer with storm than the spring:
such mirth had the madness and might in thee made,
March, master of winds, bright minstrel and marshal of storms
that enkindle the season they smite.”
– Algernon C. Swinburne, March: An Ode
“Gone were but the Winter,
Come were but the Spring,
I would go to a covert
Where the birds sing;
Where in the whitethorn
Singeth a thrush,
And a robin sings
In the holly-bush.
Full of fresh scents
Are the budding boughs
Arching high over
A cool green house:
Full of sweet scents,
And whispering air
Which sayeth softly:
We spread no snare;
Here dwell in safety,
Here dwell alone,
With a clear stream
And a mossy stone.
Here the sun shineth
Here is heard an echo
Of the far sea,
Though far off it be.”
– Christina Rossetti, Spring Quiet
“You ask me why I dwell in the green mountain;
I smile and make no reply for my heart is free of care.
As the peach-blossom flows down stream and is gone into the unknown,
I have a world apart that is not among men.”
– Li Bai
Solar Folk-Lore Sun Lore of All Ages, by William Tyler Olcott
The distinction between mythology and folklore is an extremely fine one, and though there is such a distinction, still the two subjects are so essentially analogous it will not be strange if portions of the material in this chapter would, according to some authorities, seem misplaced, and more properly included in the chapter on Solar Mythology, and vice versa. In view of the difficulties of an absolutely correct classification, the author makes no claim that his is the correct one.
In the early stages of the history of man, every act of nature and the movements of the heavenly bodies was attributed to the machinations of some one, a mysterious personage, an all-powerful being, an unseen god. The sun, as the chief luminary, commanded man’s attention from the earliest days, and it was but natural for primitive man to speculate on the phenomena of his daily appearance and disappearance in terms that seem to us now childish and puerile.
To men who looked to the west across a vast expanse of sea, the sun at nightfall seemed to sink directly into the waves, and, as they were confident that the sun was an extremely large and hot body they were convinced it would give out a hissing noise when the waters closed over it.
From the expression of the thought to the actual fact was but a step, and so we find Posidonius recording that the inhabitants of Cape St. Vincent, the westernmost point of Europe, claimed that the sun disappears each night into the sea with a great hissing noise.
We find the same idea current in the islands of Polynesia, in Iberia, and Germany, where the people claim to have heard the mighty hissing of the sea-quenched sun.
The Egyptians regarded the sun as a child when it was rising, and as an old man when it was setting in the evening. These ideas were also transferred to the annual motion of the sun. Macrobius states that the Egyptians compared the yearly course of the sun with the phases of human life; thus, a little child signified the winter solstice, a young man the spring equinox, a bearded man the summer solstice, and an old man the autumnal equinox. They also thought that Hercules had his seat in the sun, and that he travelled with it round the moon. The Hindus often referred to the sun as “the eye of Mithra, Varuna, and Agni,” and at sunrise or sunset, when the sun appeared to be squatting on the water, they likened it to a frog. This simile gave rise to a Sanscrit story, which is found also in German and Gaelic.
“Bhekî (the frog) was a beautiful maiden. One day when she was sitting near a well, a king rode by, and fascinated by her beauty, asked her hand in marriage. She consented on the condition that he would never show her a drop of water. He accepted, and they were married. One day being tired and thirsty she asked the king for a glass of water, and forgetting his promise, he granted her request, and his bride immediately vanished. That is to say, the sun disappeared when it touched the water.”
The sun was also regarded as a well, and in the Semitic, Persian, and Chinese languages the words “well” and “eye” are synonymous. Considered as a well, the rays of the sun were likened to the moisture that flows from the well.
In different parts of Africa we find the sun variously regarded. In Central Africa, where it is extremely hot, the rising of the sun is always dreaded, and the orb of day is a common enemy. It was the custom, among certain tribes, to curse the sun at his rising for afflicting the people with burning heat. In Southern Africa, on the contrary, the natives believed that they were descended from the Sun; and if, by chance, the rising of the sun was obscured by clouds, they thought the Sun purposely hid his face from them because their misdeeds offended him, and straightway they performed acts of propitiation. Work at once ceased, and the food of the previous day was given to the old women. The men of the tribe then went in a body to the river to purify themselves by washing in the stream. Each man threw into the river a stone from his hearth, and replaced it with a new one from the bed of the river. On returning to the village the chief kindled a fire in his hut, and the members of the tribe all gathered embers from it to light their individual hearth fires. The ceremony concluded with a dance in which the whole tribe joined. The idea seems to have been; that the lighting of the flame on earth would serve to rekindle the dead solar fire. When the sun set, these people said “The Sun dies.”
The early inhabitants of Polynesia called the sun “Ra,” which was also the Egyptian sun name. They believed that it was endowed with life, and the offspring of the gods. To account for its rise in the east each morning, after its disappearance in the west each night, they said that during the night it passed through a passage under the seas, so as to rise in its appointed place in the eastern sky each day.
In some of the islands the sun was thought to be a substance resembling fire, and they regarded its disappearance each night as a falling of the orb into the sea, and, as we have seen, the inhabitants of the westernmost islands were confident that they had heard the hissing occasioned by the sun’s plunge into the ocean.
The early tribes seemed to think they could control the light of the sun and s Lay or hasten its setting. “The Melanesians make sunshine by means of a mock sun,” says Frazer. 1 “A circular stone is wound about with red braid and stuck with owl’s feathers to represent the rays of the sun, or the stone is laid on the ground with white rods radiating from it to imitate sunbeams.” A white or red pig is sacrificed in the sunshine-making ceremony, and a black one when rain is desired.
In New Caledonia they burnt a skeleton to make sunshine, and drenched it with water if they wished for rain. They also had a more elaborate ceremony for producing sunshine, which Frazer 2 thus describes: “When a wizard desires to make sunshine he takes some plants and corals to the burial ground, and makes then into a bundle, adding two locks of hair cut from the head of a living child (his own child if possible), also two teeth, or an entire jawbone from the skeleton of an ancestor. He then climbs a high mountain whose top catches the first rays of the morning sun. Here he deposits three sorts of plants on a flat stone, places a branch of dry coral beside them, and hangs the bundle of charms over the stone. Next morning he returns to this rude altar, and at the moment when the sun rises from the sea, he kindles a fire on the altar. As the smoke rises he rubs the stone with the dry coral, invokes his ancestors and says: ‘Sun: I do this that you may be burning hot, and eat up all the clouds in the sky.’ The same ceremony is repeated at sunset.”
The sun, according to many traditions of primitive man, spent a part of its time in the underworld, or in a submarine passage beneath the seas, and if it did not go of its own volition, it was carried there by some enemy. Thus in Servia a tale is told, that when the devils fell, their king carried off the sun from heaven affixed to a lance. This was a great calamity, and the Archangel St. Michael was selected to try to recover it. He therefore set out for the underworld and succeeded in making friends with the archfiend. As they stood together by a lake, St. Michael proposed to the devil that they engage in a diving contest. The latter consented, and thrusting the lance which held the sun into the ground, he dived in. This was St. Michael’s opportunity, and making the sign of the cross, he grabbed the lance and made off, hotly pursued by the Evil One. Being fleet of foot he outdistanced him, but his pursuer was so close to him at one time that he managed to scratch his foot. In honour of St. Michael and his valiant deed, men, from that time on, were destined to have indented soles.
The old Germans called the sun “Wuotan’s eye,” and there is a German legend that reveals the sun as the punisher of evil thinkers: It appears that a prisoner was once on his way to execution, an object of pity to all whom he passed, but one woman, who was engaged in hanging up her linen to dry in the sun, remarked that he well deserved his fate. Immediately her linen fell to the ground, nor was she able to hang it up in this drying-place thereafter. It is further related that, at her death, she was taken up to the sun to remain there as long as the world endures, as a punishment for her lack of pity.
The peasants in various parts of Germany call the Milky Way the “Mealway” or the “Millway,” and say that it turns with the sun, for it first becomes visible at the point where the sun has set. It leads, therefore, to the heavenly mill, and its colour is that of the meal with which it is strewed. This brings us to the Norse story of “The Wonderful Mill,” 1 I an exceedingly interesting bit of folk-lore of solar significance. “The peasants of Norway to this day tell of the wondrous mill that ground whatever was demanded of it. The tradition is of great antiquity. The earliest version known is as follows: Of all beliefs, that in which man has at all times of his history been most prone to set faith, is that of a golden age of peace and plenty which has passed away, but which might be expected to return. Such a period of peace and plenty, such a golden time, the Norsemen could tell of in his mythic Frodi’s reign, when gold, or Frodi’s meal, as it was called, was so plentiful that golden armlets lay untouched from year’s end to year’s end on the King’s highway, and the fields bore crops unsown. In Frodi’s house were two maidens of that old giant race, Frenja and Menja. These daughters of the giant he had bought as slaves, and he made them grind his quern or hand-mill Grotti, out of which he used to grind peace and gold. Even in that golden age one sees there were slaves, and Frodi, however bountiful to his thanes and people, was a hard taskmaster to his giant handmaidens. He kept them to the mill, nor gave them longer rest than the cuckoo’s note lasted, or they could sing a song. But that quern was such that it ground everything that the grinder chose, though until then it had ground nothing but gold and peace. So the maidens ground and ground, and one sang their piteous tale in a strain worthy of Æschylus, as the other rested. They prayed for rest and pity, but Frodi was deaf. Then they turned in giant mood, and ground no longer peace and plenty, but fire and war. Then the quern went fast and furious, and that very night came Mysing the sea-rover and slew Frodi and all his men, and carried off the quern, and so Frodi’s peace ended. The maidens, the sea-rover took with him, and when he got on the high seas he bade them grind salt, so they ground, and at midnight they asked if he had not salt enough, but he bade them grind on. So they ground till the ship was full and sank. Mysing, maids, mill, and all, and that’s why the sea is salt.”
This wonder-working mill once stood in heaven, it is said, for Frodi its owner was no other than the Sun-God Freyr. The flat circular stone of Frodi’s quern is the disk of the sun, and its handle is the pramantha with which Indra or the Aswins used to kindle the extinguished luminary.
To explain the circular motion of the sun, the Incas of Peru believed that it was hung in space by a cord, and that each evening it entered the sea, and being a good swimmer it pierced through the waves, and reappeared next morning in the east.
The Incas claimed that the Sun was their own elder brother, and ruled over the cohorts of heaven by divine right. Their legends relate that the Sun took pity on the children of men, who, in primitive times, lived in a state of savagery, and he therefore sent his son and daughter to enlighten them, and teach them to live properly. They are said to have risen from the depths of Lake Titicaca, that marvellous sheet of water twelve thousand feet above the sea. They taught the Peruvians the essentials of culture and education.
According to another tradition, the Peruvians traced their origin from the first Inca, the Sun and his wife, who came from the island of the sun in Lake Titicaca, and founded the city of Cuzco, the sacred city of the sun. This island in the lake is therefore sacred to the Peruvians, and many ruins of the Incas are to be found there.
The Peruvians paid particular attention to the daily meridian passage of the sun, and observed that when it was in the zenith, it cast no shadow.
The early natives of Brazil believed that the sun was a ball of light feathers, which some mysterious being exhibits during the day, and covers at night with a pot.
The folk-lore of the North American Indian tribes is rich in legends respecting the sun. The Indians believed that the sun was an animated being endowed with human attributes. The following tales are related by the Thompson River Indians:
There was once a most mischievous and incorrigible youth who one morning strolled away from his home. On his return, he found that his parents had deserted him, but his old grandmother, who was unable to travel, was left behind. She taught the boy how to make a bow and arrows, and with these he was able to provide a daily supply of food. She also made blankets for him out of the skins of many coloured birds. These were of such beauty that they attracted the attention of the Sun. It had always been the custom of the Sun to travel about naked during the day, and clothe himself only in the dark hours. 1 But when the Sun saw these beautiful blankets, he purchased them from the boy, and wrapped them about his body, and soon disappeared, so that at set of sun you may see the gorgeous colouring of these robes in the western sky, especially the blue tint of the blue-jay blanket.
Another tale relates that originally the Sun lived much nearer the earth than now, 2 and preyed upon mankind. It was his custom to kill people every day on his travels, and carry them off to his home at night-fall to eat. His son lived quietly at home clad in fine garments of many colours. There was once an Indian who in gambling was most unlucky. One day, while much depressed, he set out on a journey in search of adventure, and finally came to the Sun’s abode in the absence of the owner. The son received him kindly, but fearing that his guest would be discovered by his cannibal father, he hid him under a heap of robes. The Sun arrived in the evening carrying a man on his back, and as he came near the house, he said: “Mum, Mum, Mum. 1 There must be a man here,” but his son persuaded him that he was mistaken. The next day the Indian was glad to leave this dangerous locality, and returned to his home laden with gifts from his benefactor. Out of gratitude he returned later to the Sun’s house and made his friend the present of a wife and one for his father. This pleased the Sun so much that he gave up the killing and eating of human beings. In the foregoing legend we find expressed the idea, current in the traditions of many primitive people, that celestial beings feed on human bodies.
The following tale is told of the Sun and his daughter: 1
Originally the Sun was an eminent chief, possessed of great power and wealth. He was also blessed with a beautiful daughter, and the fame of her beauty spread afar. A powerful magician, entranced with the maiden, sought her hand, and though at first repulsed, finally won the Sun’s favour and married his daughter. The Sun implored his daughter to visit him frequently. This, however, she neglected to do, and, finally, when she did go to her father with her two children, he transformed her into the present Sun. This is why the Sun travels each day from east to west in search of her father. Her children are occasionally seen as sun-dogs closely following their mother.
The Indians of Northern California relate the following story:
Once the sun fell by accident down from the sky just about sunrise, but the quick little mole was watching, and caught it before it touched the earth, and succeeded in holding it up until others arrived, when, by exerting all their strength, they succeeded in replacing it where it belonged in the sky, but ever thereafter the mole’s hands were bent far back to show how he had worked to hold up the sun.
As evidence of the Indian belief in the Sun’s solicitude in their affairs, and his protecting and saving influences, the Cheyenne tale of “The Eagle Hunter” is told:
There was an Indian who once set out to catch an eagle. Digging a hole in the ground he crept in, covered it over with brush, and cleverly baited it with a skinned buffalo calf. Presently an eagle espied the prey, flew down, and began to eat of it, when the Indian laid hold of its feet, and held it captive; but he had underestimated the power of the bird, which had strength enough to carry the man up to a mountain crag, where it was impossible for him to descend. The Indian realising his desperate plight, prayed to the Sun for deliverance, and the Sun, taking pity on him, sent a great whirlwind which swept the hunter from his lofty perch, and safely deposited him on the ground.
In a Maidu legend it is related that the Sun dwells in an impregnable house of ice into which she retreats after killing people on the earth. Once she abducted the Frog’s children, and was closely pursued by their angry mother, who finally overtook the Sun and swallowed her, but the Sun burst her open and transformed her into a Frog again.
There are many Indian tales wherein the sun figures as a target. The Shoshone Indians believed that, in the beginning, the sun did not shine till the Rabbit shot at him with his magical arrow (the fire drill).
In the following Mewan Indian legend, 1 the sunlight is extinguished by the arrow shot: “There was once a poor worthless Indian boy who got his living by begging. At length, finding people loath to assist him, he threatened to shoot out the sun, and as this had no effect, he made good his threat, and shot the sun, thus letting its light out, and the whole world became dark. It was dark for years, and every one was starving for want of light, when the Coyote-Man discovered a dim light a long distance off, and sent the Humming-bird to investigate. The bird, finding its way to the sun, pecked off a piece, and returned with it under its chin, and making repeated trips finally succeeded in restoring the full light of the sun, and to this day you can see the marks of its burden beneath the chin of the Humming-bird.” This association of the Humming-bird with the sun is found in the traditions of the Aztecs. In their temples was enthroned a deity known as “the Humming-bird to the left,” and this bird was considered by them to be a divine being, the emissary of the sun. In the Aztec language it is often called “Sunbeam,” or “Sun’s hair.”
Among the Indians there seems to have been an almost universal tradition that originally men lived in a world of darkness, or semi-darkness, before the sun was placed in the heavens. A Mewan legend relates that, in the early days, the land was shrouded in fog, and was cold and dark. It was such a poor place to live in that Coyote-Man was not satisfied with the conditions, and set out on a journey to seek some way to better it. He finally came to a pleasant land of sunshine, and, charmed with it, returned to tell his people of the delightful land he had visited. They suggested that he offer to buy the sun, so he returned to the land of light and made this proposition, but it was rejected, so Coyote-Man resolved to steal the sun as his people were in sore need of it.
This was a difficult matter as the sun was carefully watched by the Turtle, who slept with one eye always open. Coyote-Man, resorting to magic, took the form of a big oak log, and the Turtle, when out seeking for wood, took him and threw him on the fire. But the fire did not even singe him, and seeing the Turtle asleep, he resumed his form, seized the sun and ran off with it to his own land. The people, however, did not understand it, and bade Coyote-Man make it go, and, as he was sorry for the people he had deprived of the sun, he arranged a plan so that the sun could light up both lands. He carried the sun west to the place where the sky joins the earth, and found the place for the sun to crawl through, and where it could go down under the earth, and come up in the eastern sky in the morning through the hole in the east. The sun did his bidding, and thus both lands thereafter rejoiced in the blessedness of sunshine.
The Natchez of Mississippi, the Apalachees of Florida, the Mexicans and Peruvians, all believed that the sun is the bright dwelling-place of their departed chiefs and warriors.
A primitive Mexican prayer offered in time of war embodies this idea: “Be pleased, O our Lord, that the nobles who shall die in the war be peacefully and joyously received by the sun and the earth, who are the loving father and mother of all.”
It is said that General Harrison once called the Shawnee chief, Tecumseh, for a conference: “Come here, Tecumseh, and sit by your father,” he said. “You my father?” replied the chief with a stern air, “No, yonder sun [pointing toward it] is my father, and the earth is my mother, so I will rest on her bosom,” and he sat upon the ground.
The Kootenay Indians speak of the sun as a blind man who is cured by his father-in-law, Coyote-Man. Here we have another reference to the Coyote’s service to mankind in bringing sunshine to his people.
Among the New Zealanders the sun is regarded as a great beast whom the hunters thrashed with clubs. His blood is supposed to be used in some of their incantations, and according to an Egyptian tradition, the sun’s blood was kneaded into clay at the making of man.
We have seen how the sun was metaphorically regarded in India and other lands not merely as a human creature, but as the eye of a supreme and all-seeing deity. In like manner the inhabitants of Java, Sumatra, and Madagascar called the sun “the eye of day.” This metaphor has been used extensively even in modern poetry.
When the astronomers Galileo, Scheiner, and Fabricius discovered the spots on the sun, the Aristotelians indignantly insisted that they were mistaken, and that the phenomenon was due to defects in the optical properties of their telescopes or eyes. They argued that it was quite incompatible with the dignity of the Eye of the Universe that it should be afflicted with such a common ailment as ophthalmia.
Tylor 1 tells us that the Rev. Tobias Snowden, in a book published in the last century, proved the sun to be Hell, and the dark spots, gatherings of damned souls.
In Greece there was a general protest when the astronomers denied not only the divinity, but the very personality of the sun, and declared it to be nothing but a huge fiery globe. These statements were regarded as blasphemous, and, in fact, Anaxagoras was punished with death for having taught that the sun was not animated, and that it was nothing but a mass of iron, about the size of the Peloponnesus.
Such a state of affairs strikes us in this enlightened age as decidedly extraordinary, and yet in the history of the early settlers of this country we have in the trials for witchcraft an equally absurd and foolish state of affairs.
Every age, therefore, to be judged fairly on its merits, must be viewed in the light of its state of progress, and, grotesque as many of the foregoing legends related of the sun may seem, it behooves us to withhold our mirth, and endeavour to realise how much these traditions were a serious part of the lives of the people of unenlightened ages.
123:1 The Golden Bough, J. G. Frazer.
126:1 From Dasent’s Popular Tales from the Norse.
129:1 This may have been the Indian way of accounting for the invisibility of the sun at night.
129:2 It is strange that the nebular hypothesis conforms with this idea, that the sun and earth were close together at one time.
130:1 We are almost tempted to add, “I smell the blood of an Englishman,” for here we have a tale identical in many particulars with the popular fairy tale of “Jack the Giant Killer,” which some authorities claim is of solar origin.
131:1 This myth is typical of many that may well be styled Evaporation and Rainfall myths that are thus interpreted. The water is enamoured of the cloud, the beautiful daughter of the Sun. The Sun does not favour the suitor, and strives to kill him by subjecting him to a number of tests. The Water achieves success in all of these, and then receives the Sun’s permission to marry his daughter.
133:1 The Dawn of the World, C. Hart Merriam.
136:1 Primitive Culture, Edward B. Tylor.
~~~~~~ Bad Liquor Pond:
Spring Night in Lo-yang Hearing a Flute
In what house, the jade flute that sends these dark notes drifting,
scattering on the spring wind that fills Lo-yang?
Tonight if we should hear the willow-breaking song,
who could help but long for the gardens of home?
Li Po (Li Bai)
is a kaleidoscope:
now hopelessness, now hope
now spring, now fall.
Forget its ups and downs:
do not vex yourself:
The remedy for pain
is the pain.”
“The High, The Holy“, a new piece. With tints of Syrian Rue Red(It’s in the carpets folks, for a reason!), and the Moon to propel it, “The High, The Holy” is a visual song/homage to my background and studies over the years. I hope you enjoy it.
It has been a week of contrast; a week of sorrow, a week of joy, a week of discovery, a week of release. One of the better ones on so many levels.
After Sophie passed Thursday night last and all of the tumblings of grief, and receiving her ashes on Tuesday morning, we began the process of letting her go. Not the easiest thing to do, but what else can one do? Seeing a life reduced to a tin of ashes, to the basic carbon.
Come Wednesday morning we had Rak Razam from Australia arrive who is/was touring his film & book Aya:Awakenings. Finally meeting Rak after all these years of talking on line we finally got to spend some time together. It was good having this time with him, we have collaborated on projects over the years and finally getting to sit down and talk about all and sundry was refreshing. Only so much communication can be achieved on line, it is so much richer in person. His presentation on Thursday night at the Clinton Theatre went very well, and the audience received it enthusiastically. Rak included me on the panel for the discussion afterwards, where I sat with our friend Gayle Highpine (what a mind!) who helps run The Ayahusaca Forums on Ayahuasca.com, & Charles Shaw, who you might know through his works ExileNation and elsewhere say in Reality Sandwich.( Charles is a Nice Guy!) It was a lovely discussion with some nice synergy. The night ended with Rak and I standing in our kitchen talking metaphysics and entheogens into the early morning. The next day we dropped him off on his way up to Vancouver B.C. for his last stop on this tour. It was a lovely time.
Rak, Charles, & Yers Truly
So I return to the essentials, work, which is always a blessing in what forms it comes in and with a capital A, Art, which finds me working on some new pieces (see above!)
Life is good, no matter what is being served up it seems. I wish you beauty in all that you do, and experience.
This week’s entry is BIG. I have had a lot going on in my head, especially about the ancient interchange of culture between the Persian/Middle East & The Celtic World. Hopefully the blend works well for you.
~~ On The Menu:
Omar Faruk Tekbilek – Sufi
The Piper & The Puca
A Flight Through the Universe
The Smart Rabbit
Great Masters of the Oud – A tribute to Nasser Shamma (نصير شمة)
Omar Faruk Tekbilek – Sufi
~~~~~~ Sarmad: Poetry
My heart searched for your fragrance
in the breeze moving at dawn,
my eyes searched for the flower of your face
in the garden of creation.
Neither could lead me to your abode —
contemplation alone showed me the way.
Once I was bathed in the Light of Truth within,
I abandoned all planning and scheming.
If you, too, seek this transcendence,
leave your lower self — then from head to foot
you will see your whole being as God’s refulgence.
The ocean of his generosity has no shore.
The tongue is powerless to thank,
the heart too bewildered to understand.
Though my sins are many
his compassion is greater still–
I swim in the sea of disobedience
but I do not drown.
To the dignified station of love I was raised,
And from the favours of the people I was freed.
Like a candle I was melted in this assembly,
By being burnt, in the divine mysteries I was initiated.
Along the road, you were my companion
Seeking the path, you were my guide
No matter to whom I spoke, it was you who answered
When Sun called Moon to Sky, it was you who shined
In the Night of aloneness, you
were my comforter
When I laughed, you were the smile on my lips
When I cried, you were the tears on my face
When I wrote, you were the verse
When I sang, you were the song
Rarely did my heart desire another lover
Then when it did, you came to me in the other.
Every man who knows his secret
becomes a secret,
hidden from the skies.
The sage says Ahmad rose to the heavens;
Sarmad says the heavens
rose in him!
~~~~~~ The Piper & The Puca
Douglas Hyde HYDE (Translated literally from the Irish of the Leabhar Sgeulaigheachta)
In the old times, there was a half fool living in Dunmore, in the county Galway, and although he was excessively fond of music, he was unable to learn more than one tune, and that was the “Black Rogue.” He used to get a good deal of money from the gentlemen, for they used to get sport out of him. One night the piper was coming home from a house where there had been a dance, and he half drunk. When he came to a little bridge that was up by his mother’s house, he squeezed the pipes on, and began playing the “Black Rogue” (an rógaire dubh). The Púca came behind him, and flung him up on his own back. There were long horns on the Púca, and the piper got a good grip of them, and then he said–
“Destruction on you, you nasty beast, let me home. I have a ten-penny piece in my pocket for my mother, and she wants snuff.”
“Never mind your mother,” said the Púca, “but keep your hold. If you fall, you will break your neck and your pipes.” Then the Púca said to him, “Play up for me the ‘Shan Van Vocht’ (an t-seann-bhean bhocht).”
“I don’t know it,” said the piper.
“Never mind whether you do or you don’t,” said the Púca. “Play up, and I’ll make you know.”
The piper put wind in his bag, and he played such music as made himself wonder.
“Upon my word, you’re a fine music-master,” says the piper then; “but tell me where you’re for bringing me.”
“There’s a great feast in the house of the Banshee, on the top of Croagh Patric tonight,” says the Púca, “and I’m for bringing you there to play music, and, take my word, you’ll get the price of your trouble.”
“By my word, you’ll save me a journey, then,” says the piper, “for Father William put a journey to Croagh Patric on me, because I stole the white gander from him last Martinmas.”
The Púca rushed him across hills and bogs and rough places, till he brought him to the top of Croagh Patric. Then the Púca struck three blows with his foot, and a great door opened, and they passed in together, into a fine room.
The piper saw a golden table in the middle of the room, and hundreds of old women (cailleacha) sitting round about it. The old woman rose up, and said, “A hundred thousand welcomes to you, you Púca of November (na Samhna). Who is this you have brought with you?”
“The best piper in Ireland,” says the Púca.
One of the old women struck a blow on the ground, and a door opened in the side of the wall, and what should the piper see coming out but the white gander which he had stolen from Father William.
“By my conscience, then,” says the piper, “myself and my mother ate every taste of that gander, only one wing, and I gave that to Moy-rua (Red Mary), and it’s she told the priest I stole his gander.”
The gander cleaned the table, and carried it away, and the Púca said, “Play up music for these ladies.”
The piper played up, and the old women began dancing, and they were dancing till they were tired. Then the Púca said to pay the piper, and every old woman drew out a gold piece, and gave it to him.
“By the tooth of Patric,” said he, “I’m as rich as the son of a lord.”
“Come with me,” says the Púca, “and I’ll bring you home.”
They went out then, and just as he was going to ride on the Púca, the gander came up to him, and gave him a new set of pipes. The Púca was not long until he brought him to Dunmore, and he threw the piper off at the little bridge, and then he told him to go home, and says to him, “You have two things now that you never had before–you have sense and music (ciall agus ceól).
The piper went home, and he knocked at his mother’s door, saying, “Let me in, I’m as rich as a lord, and I’m the best piper in Ireland.”
“You’re drunk,” said the mother.
“No, indeed,” says the piper, “I haven’t drunk a drop.”
The mother let him in, and he gave her the gold pieces, and, “Wait now,” says he, “till you hear the music, I’ll play.”
He buckled on the pipes, but instead of music, there came a sound as if all the geese and ganders in Ireland were screeching together. He awakened the neighbours and they all were mocking him, until he put on the old pipes, and then he played melodious music for them; and after that he told them all he had gone through that night.
The next morning, when his mother went to look at the gold pieces, there was nothing there but the leaves of a plant.
The piper went to the priest, and told him his story, but the priest would not believe a word from him, until he put the pipes on him, and then the screeching of the ganders and geese began.
“Leave my sight, you thief,” said the priest.
But nothing would do the piper till he would put the old pipes on him to show the priest that his story was true.
He buckled on the old pipes, and he played melodious music, and from that day till the day of his death, there was never a piper in the county Galway was as good as he was.
~~~~~~ and when you get too caught up in your life and its twistings and turnings, this appears. Timely. A Flight Through the Universe, by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey
Persian Tales: The Smart Rabbit
Far away from here there was once a lovely tree-covered valley, surrounded by high mountains. A mighty river ran through this valley, watering all the variety of trees and other plants that grew there. Many animals made this valley their home — rabbits, birds, squirrels, and deer. They all lived happily in the valley, because there were no wolves or lions there to eat them.
But one day, a wolf climbed down the mountains and entered the valley. No sooner had he arrived than he started to chase after the helpless animals, and ate them one by one. Only on rare occasions would one of the animals manage to run away unscathed, but all the animals were worried that next, it would be their turn.
In their worry, the animals turned to the old owl, and asked him to find a way to rid the valley of the wolf. The owl replied that there was no way to fight the wolf, whose fangs and paws were more powerful than any other animal in the valley, and so they must learn to live with the wolf, the old owl counseled.
The animals protested that they could live in constant fear of being eaten, and so they hatched a desperate plan: it was agreed everyday, one of the animals would be selected by the others, who would go to the wolf and be eaten. That way, the rest of the animals would rest peacefully, knowing that the wolf had eaten that day and would not be chasing them.
Naturally the wolf, who was tired of chasing the animals and relished the idea of his food coming to him by itself, agreed to this plan without hesitation.
And so the following day, the animals gathered together in the early morning and decided that the the little rabbit, who was the smallest and weakest resident of the valley, was to be fed to the wolf.
The rabbit was scared and first tried to run away, but soon realized that he had nowhere to go. He then considered fighting the wolf, but soon realized that the wolf was far too powerful for him. So he meekly trudged to the wolf’s lair, and once there, cried out “Oh wolf! Oh wolf! Come out of your lair, for I am to be your supper today.”
The wolf immediately came out of its lair, and sniffed the rabbit hungrily. “Why, what a delicious little morel you will make!” said the wolf, “I can’t believe my luck in finding this valley where the animals sacrifice themselves to me so willingly!”
“It is true, I was brought here by my own four little feet,” the rabbit sighed, “for I know that I cannot escape my fate, and such a mighty wolf as you, even though you’re not the scariest or most powerful wolf in the valley.”
At this, the vain wolf was dumbfounded. “Wha..? What do you mean, I’m not the scariest or most powerful wolf in this valley? I am the only wolf here, and there are no other wolves in this valley!” cried the wolf, indignantly.
“Oh, you don’t know about the other wolf,” said the rabbit. “No matter, you should go ahead and eat me now, for even if I escape your clutches, no animal could ever hope to escape the other, scarier and more powerful, wolf.” The rabbit then tried to climb into the wolf’s mouth.
The wolf bristled at the rabbit’s words, shook him out of his mouth and said, “Take me to this other wolf, and I will spare you for today, my delicious little morsel. Show me were this other wolf who thinks he’s better than me lives.”
The rabbit let out a little sigh and said, “Oh what difference does it make to me, for in the end I will be eaten by a wolf, whether it is you or the other wolf, with the bigger teeth and stronger legs. Follow me then.”
“Humph!” said the wolf, “We shall see who is bigger and stronger. Lead on!”
So the wolf followed the rabbit as they walked a ways, until they reached an old abandoned well.
“There,” pointed the rabbit, “There is the lair of the other wolf, who is stronger and meaner than you. All you have to do is look down into the well, an I am sure you will see him in there, resting from his last feast.”
At this, the wolf jumped up onto the well wall, and peered down into the darkness.
“I don’t see anything, it is too dark!” said the wolf.
“You have to look more closely, for I am sure he’s in there. Put your whole head down into the well, and you will see him looking back at you,” replied the rabbit.
So the wolf bent over, and stuck his head into the well. After a few moments, when his eyes had a chance to adjust to the darkness, the wolf saw his own reflection in the water at the bottom of the well, as if it was another wolf looking back at him.
“Aha! Now I see you, you coward!” the wolf yelled into the well. No sooner had he done this, than his own voice echoed back from the bottom of the well.
“Did you just call me a coward? How dare you! Come here, and we’ll see who is the nastier wolf!” yelled the wolf. But again, his own voice echoed back to him from the well.
The rabbit, who had witnessed the wolf arguing with himself in the well, told the wolf, “I don’t think he’s coming out here. Naturally, the bigger and scarier wolf will have to chase after the smaller, less-scary one.”
The wolf heard the rabbit and without hesitation, jumped into the well, chasing after his own reflect in the water. But since the wolf did not know how to swim, he never came out of the old well, and the valley was rid of the evil old wolf — thanks to a small, weak rabbit.
~~~~~~ Poetry: A.E.
The Unknown God
Far up the dim twilight fluttered
Moth-wings of vapour and flame:
The lights danced over the mountains,
Star after star they came.
The lights grew thicker unheeded,
For silent and still were we;
Our hearts were drunk with a beauty
Our eyes could never see.
One thing in all things have I seen:
One thought has haunted earth and air:
Clangour and silence both have been
Its palace chambers. Everywhere
I saw the mystic vision flow
And live in men and woods and streams,
Until I could no longer know
The dream of life from my own dreams.
Sometimes it rose like fire in me
Within the depths of my own mind,
And spreading to infinity,
It took the voices of the wind:
It scrawled the human mystery —
Dim heraldry — on light and air;
Wavering along the starry sea
I saw the flying vision there.
Each fire that in God’s temple lit
Burns fierce before the inner shrine,
Dimmed as my fire grew near to it
And darkened at the light of mine.
At last, at last, the meaning caught —
The spirit wears its diadem;
It shakes its wondrous plumes of thought
And trails the stars along with them.
The heavens lay hold on us: the starry rays
Fondle with flickering fingers brow and eyes:
A new enchantment lights the ancient skies.
What is it looks between us gaze on gaze;
Does the wild spirit of the endless days
Chase through my heart some lure that ever flies?
Only I know the vast within me cries
Finding in thee the ending of all ways.
Ah, but they vanish; the immortal train
From thee, from me, depart, yet take from thee
Memorial grace: laden with adoration
Forth from this heart they flow that all in vain
Would stay the proud eternal powers that flee
After the chase in burning exultation.
~~~~~~~ Great Masters of the Oud – A tribute to Nasser Shamma (نصير شمة)
But ask now the beasts,
and they shall teach thee;
and the fowls of the air,
and they shall tell thee:
Or speak to the earth,
and it shall teach thee:
and the fishes of the sea
shall declare unto thee.
I really enjoyed working on Invocation. It is a real departure for me, a little more overt compared to some of my other pieces. If interested, it is located here: “Invocation”
The core of Turfing has always been poetry, and that is something that I celebrate. Poetry is in the heart of all things, one has but to listen to catch the cadence, the beauty, the air.
This last week has been a one of beauty, joy, and sorrow.
That is life. It takes all and enfolds all.
Live those moments fully. Breathe deeply of each moment, every moment tells a story, whispers a secret, reveals a truth.
Here is to the now, I lift up my glass to all of you who share in the mystery of being.
On The Menu:
Dead Can Dance – ‘Return of the She-King’
Poetry: Wendell Berry
Origin of the Welsh
Dead Can Dance – ‘Agape’
Mr. Whitman Says
~~~~~~ The Links: Ted Talks… Other Universes Mahabharata & Acoustic Levitation Who Dreamed Up The Dreamtime?
Our sweet pup passed suddenly this last Thursday. She will be sorely missed. I find myself getting up early to let her out, and expect her nudge against my leg whilst I am sitting at the computer.
A most amazing, loving being who treated everyone with love & respect. She was with us for 11 years. Sometimes you think it will last forever.
Dear Dog, you will be missed.
Dead Can Dance – ‘Return of the She-King’
~~~~~~ Poetry: Wendell Berry
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair grows in me
and I wake in the middle of the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
The Country Of Marriage
I dream of you walking at night along the streams
of the country of my birth, warm blooms and the nightsongs
of birds opening around you as you walk.
You are holding in your body the dark seed of my sleep.
This comes after silence. Was it something I said
that bound me to you, some mere promise
or, worse, the fear of loneliness and death?
A man lost in the woods in the dark, I stood
still and said nothing. And then there rose in me,
like the earth’s empowering brew rising
in root and branch, the words of a dream of you
I did not know I had dreamed. I was a wanderer
who feels the solace of his native land
under his feet again and moving in his blood.
I went on, blind and faithful. Where I stepped
my track was there to steady me. It was no abyss
that lay before me, but only the level ground.
Sometimes our life reminds me
of a forest in which there is a graceful clearing
and in that opening a house,
an orchard and garden,
comfortable shades, and flowers
red and yellow in the sun, a pattern
made in the light for the light to return to.
The forest is mostly dark, its ways
to be made anew day after day, the dark
richer than the light and more blessed,
provided we stay brave
enough to keep on going in.
How many times have I come to you out of my head
with joy, if ever a man was,
for to approach you I have given up the light
and all directions. I come to you
lost, wholly trusting as a man who goes
into the forest unarmed. It is as though I descend
slowly earthward out of the air. I rest in peace
in you, when I arrive at last.
Our bond is no little economy based on the exchange
of my love and work for yours, so much for so much
of an expendable fund. We don’t know what its limits are–
that puts us in the dark. We are more together
than we know, how else could we keep on discovering
we are more together than we thought?
You are the known way leading always to the unknown,
and you are the known place to which the unknown is always
leading me back. More blessed in you than I know,
I possess nothing worthy to give you, nothing
not belittled by my saying that I possess it.
Even an hour of love is a moral predicament, a blessing
a man may be hard up to be worthy of. He can only
accept it, as a plant accepts from all the bounty of the light
enough to live, and then accepts the dark,
passing unencumbered back to the earth, as I
have fallen tine and again from the great strength
of my desire, helpless, into your arms.
What I am learning to give you is my death
to set you free of me, and me from myself
into the dark and the new light. Like the water
of a deep stream, love is always too much. We
did not make it. Though we drink till we burst
we cannot have it all, or want it all.
In its abundance it survives our thirst.
In the evening we come down to the shore
to drink our fill, and sleep, while it
flows through the regions of the dark.
It does not hold us, except we keep returning
to its rich waters thirsty. We enter,
willing to die, into the commonwealth of its joy.
I give you what is unbounded, passing from dark to dark,
containing darkness: a night of rain, an early morning.
I give you the life I have let live for the love of you:
a clump of orange-blooming weeds beside the road,
the young orchard waiting in the snow, our own life
that we have planted in the ground, as I
have planted mine in you. I give you my love for all
beautiful and honest women that you gather to yourself
again and again, and satisfy–and this poem,
no more mine than any man’s who has loved a woman.
A Timbered Choir
Even while I dreamed I prayed that what I saw was only fear and no foretelling,
for I saw the last known landscape destroyed for the sake
of the objective, the soil bludgeoned, the rock blasted.
Those who had wanted to go home would never get there now.
I visited the offices where for the sake of the objective the planners planned
at blank desks set in rows. I visited the loud factories
where the machines were made that would drive ever forward
toward the objective. I saw the forest reduced to stumps and gullies; I saw
the poisoned river, the mountain cast into the valley;
I came to the city that nobody recognized because it looked like every other city.
I saw the passages worn by the unnumbered
footfalls of those whose eyes were fixed upon the objective.
Their passing had obliterated the graves and the monuments
of those who had died in pursuit of the objective
and who had long ago forever been forgotten, according
to the inevitable rule that those who have forgotten forget
that they have forgotten. Men, women, and children now pursued the objective
as if nobody ever had pursued it before.
The races and the sexes now intermingled perfectly in pursuit of the objective.
the once-enslaved, the once-oppressed were now free
to sell themselves to the highest bidder
and to enter the best paying prisons
in pursuit of the objective, which was the destruction of all enemies,
which was the destruction of all obstacles, which was the destruction of all objects,
which was to clear the way to victory, which was to clear the way to promotion, to salvation, to progress,
to the completed sale, to the signature
on the contract, which was to clear the way
to self-realization, to self-creation, from which nobody who ever wanted to go home
would ever get there now, for every remembered place
had been displaced; the signposts had been bent to the ground and covered over.
Every place had been displaced, every love
unloved, every vow unsworn, every word unmeant
to make way for the passage of the crowd
of the individuated, the autonomous, the self-actuated, the homeless
with their many eyes opened toward the objective
which they did not yet perceive in the far distance,
having never known where they were going,
having never known where they came from.
The Hidden Singer
The gods are less for their love of praise.
Above and below them all is a spirit that needs nothing
but its own wholeness, its health and ours.
It has made all things by dividing itself.
It will be whole again.
To its joy we come together —
the seer and the seen, the eater and the eaten,
the lover and the loved.
In our joining it knows itself. It is with us then,
not as the gods whose names crest in unearthly fire,
but as a little bird hidden in the leaves
who sings quietly and waits, and sings.
~~~~~~ Origin of the Welsh
Many years ago there lived several wild tribes round the King of Persia’s city, and the king’s men were always annoying and harassing them, exacting yearly a heavy tribute. Now these tribes, though very brave in warfare, could not hold their own before the Persian army when sent out against them, so that they paid their yearly tribute grudgingly, but took revenge, whenever they could, upon travellers to or from the city, robbing and killing them.
At last one of the tribesmen, a clever old chieftain, thought of a cunning plan whereby to defeat the Persians, and free themselves from the yearly tribute. And this was his scheme:
The wild wastes where these tribes lived were infested with large birds called “Rohs”, [Footnote: Pronounced softly.] which were very destructive to human beings—devouring men, women, and children greedily whenever they could catch them. Such a terror were they that the tribes had to protect their village with high walls, [Footnote: Can this have anything to do with the idea of walling-in the cuckoo?] and then they slept securely, for the Roh hunted by night. This old chieftain determined to watch the birds, and find out their nesting-places; so he had a series of towers built, in which the watchmen could sleep securely by night. These towers were advanced in whatever direction the birds were seen to congregate by night. The observers reported that the Roh could not fly, but ran very swiftly, being fleeter than any horse.
At length, by watching, their nesting-places were found in a sandy plain, and it was discovered that those monstrous birds stole sheep and cattle in great numbers.
The chieftain then gave orders for the watchmen to keep on guard until the young birds were hatched, when they were commanded to secure fifty, and bring them into the walled town. The order was carried out, and one night they secured fifty young birds just out of the egg, and brought them to the town.
The old chieftain then told off fifty skilful warriors, a man to each bird, to his son being allotted the largest bird. These warriors were ordered to feed the birds on flesh, and to train them for battle. The birds grew up as tame as horses. Saddles and bridles were made for them, and they were trained and exercised just like chargers.
When the next tribute day came round, the King of Persia sent his emissaries to collect the tax, but the chieftains of the tribes insulted and defied them, so that they returned to the king, who at once sent forward his army.
The chieftain then marshalled his men, and forty-six of the Rohs were drawn up in front of the army, the chief getting on the strongest bird. The remaining four were placed on the right flank, and ordered at a signal to advance and cut off the army, should they retreat.
The Rohs had small scales, like those of a fish, on their necks and bodies, the scales being hidden under a soft hair, except on the upper half of the neck. They had no feathers except on their wings. So they were invulnerable except as to the eyes—for in those days the Persians only had bows and arrows, and light javelins. When the Persian army advanced, the Rohs advanced at lightning speed, and made fearful havoc, the birds murdering and trampling the soldiers under foot, and beating them down with their powerful wings. In less than two hours half the Persian army was slain, and the rest had escaped. The tribes returned to their walled towns, delighted with their victory.
When the news of his defeat reached the King of Persia he was wroth beyond expression, and could not sleep for rage. So the next morning he called for his magician.
“What are you going to do with the birds?” asked the king.
“Well, I’ve been thinking the matter over,” replied the magician.
“Cannot you destroy all of them?”
“No, your majesty; I cannot destroy them, for I have not the power; but I can get rid of them in one way; for though I cannot put out life, I have the power of turning one life into some other living creature.”
“Well, what will you turn them into?” asked the king.
“I’ll consider to-night, your majesty,” replied the magician.
“Well, mind and be sure to do it.”
“Yes, I’ll be sure to do it, your majesty.”
* * * * *
The next day, at ten, the magician appeared before the king, who asked:
“Have you considered well?”
“Yes, your majesty.”
“Well, how are you going to act?”
“Your majesty, I’ve thought and thought during the night, and the best thing we can do is to turn all the birds into fairies.”
“What are fairies?” asked the king.
“I’ve planned it all out, and I hope your majesty will agree.”
“Oh! I’ll agree, as long as they never molest us more.”
“Well, your majesty, I’m going to turn them to fairies—small living creatures to live in caves in the bowels of the earth, and they shall only visit people living on the earth once a year. They shall be harmless, and hurt nothing; they shall be fairies, and do nothing but dance and sing, and I shall allow them to go about on earth for twenty-four hours once a year and play their antics, but they shall do no mischief.”
“How long are the birds to remain in that state?” asked the king.
“I’ll give them 2,000 years, your majesty; and at the end of that time they are to go back into birds, as they were before. And after the birds change from the fairy state back into birds, they shall never breed more, but die a natural death.”
So the tribes lost their birds, and the King of Persia made such fearful havoc amongst them that they decided to leave the country.
They travelled, supporting themselves by robbery; until they came to a place where they built a city, and called it Troy, where they were besieged for a long time.
At length the besiegers built a large caravan, with a large man’s head in front; the head was all gilded with gold. When the caravan was finished they put 150 of the best warriors inside, provided with food, and one of them had a trumpet. Then they pulled the caravan, which ran upon eight broad wheels, up to the gates of the city, and left it there, their army being drawn up in a valley near by. It was, agreed that when the caravan got inside the gates the bugler should blow three loud blasts to warn, the army, who would immediately advance into the city.
The men on the ramparts saw this curious caravan, and they began wondering what it was, and for two or three days they left it alone.
At last an old chieftain said, “It must be their food.”
On the third day they opened the gates, and attaching ropes, began to haul it into the city; then the warriors leaped out, and the horn blew, and the army hurried up, and the town was taken after great slaughter; but a number escaped with their wives and children, and fled on to the Crimea, whence they were driven by the Russians, so they marched away along the sea to Spain, and bearing up through France, they stopped. Some wanted to go across the sea, and some stayed in the heart of France: they were the Bretoons. [Footnote: Bretons.] The others came on over in boats, and landed in England, and they were the first people settled in Great Britain: they were the Welsh.
Dead Can Dance – ‘Agape’
~~~~~~ Mr. Whitman Says
I want to close with this, from Mr. Whitman.
“I think I could turn and live with the animals, they are so placid and self contained;
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied-not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor his kind that lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is responsible or industrious over the whole earth.”
― Walt Whitman
“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
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.
On The Menu:
In The Field Of The Seraphim
Lenore Kandel Poetry
Richard Brautigan Poetry
Country Joe & The Fish
~~~~~~ Psychedelic Quotes:
“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.”
“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
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…
We 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.
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.
Things 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:
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.”
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.
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 …
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
still… even now… making a feint at communion
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
and I see you and you’re divine and I see you and you’re a
and you’re beautiful
the divine is not separate from the beast; it is the total crea-
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
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
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:
people love your mind,
doesn’t mean they
have to have
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.
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
I hope this finds you all well, and with loved ones and friends. The passing of a year, the emerging of a new one are blurred markers of our trajectories through the arc of being. The New Year is an agreement, like that of dating years. Many societies have New Years of course. The Celts had theirs on November 1st, others of course had theirs tied to the Lunar and or Solar procession. I have always tried to figure out why 12-13 days after the winter solstice, but its really not a big one.
2013… slipping away. So much has occurred this year. Perhaps the greatest lesson for our family was letting go. We lost my sister, and we had to give up our home of 17 years. Neither of them easy events, and losing Rebecca (my sister) and coming to grips with it was and is the hardest for me. This entry is another way of saying goodbye.
It was a year of growth artistically for me. I feel I am coming into a new place, and the art work has been coming fast and furious. When I am not working, I am creating. I guess as I get older the concentration has kicked in. I am happy about that.
I hope the year was good for you and yours. Many friends had rough patches, and lost love ones. I guess the predictions for 2012 of being a shift was correct, but not in the way everyone was fantasizing about.
This Entry in Turfing:
We are touching bases with 3 artist that were important in the development of my aesthetic sense. (well two of them) The third came later in my days, but moved me deeply in the world of poetry.
The 3 artist are: Seamus Heaney, Colin Wilson & Lou Reed.
Giants in their fields, and they touched me deeply. This entry is my homage to their works, and by no means can truly define their work. I am touching on just a bit of what works moved me. I hope you enjoy this look back.
We will have another entry coming up soon. Stay Tuned. Here is to Healing, and here is to Letting Go!
~~~~~~~ On The Menu:
Poetry: Seamus Heaney, 3 Poems
Colin Wilson: Summary of Atlantis and the Old Ones, An Investigation of the Age of Civilisation
Lou Reed: 3 Songs
Pretty much, this says it for me. Thanks to The Kinks for this. Days
Thank you for the days,
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me.
I’m thinking of the days,
I won’t forget a single day, believe me.
I bless the light,
I bless the light that lights on you believe me.
And though you’re gone,
You’re with me every single day, believe me.
Days I’ll remember all my life,
Days when you can’t see wrong from right.
You took my life,
But then I knew that very soon you’d leave me,
But it’s all right,
Now I’m not frightened of this world, believe me.
I wish today could be tomorrow,
The night is dark,
It just brings sorrow, let it wait.
Thank you for the days,
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me.
I’m thinking of the days,
I won’t forget a single day, believe me.
Days I’ll remember all my life,
Days when you can’t see wrong from right.
You took my life,
But then I knew that very soon you’d leave me,
But it’s all right,
Now I’m not frightened of this world, believe me.
Thank you for the days,
Those endless days, those sacred days you gave me.
I’m thinking of the days,
I won’t forget a single day, believe me.
I bless the light,
I bless the light that shines on you believe me.
And though you’re gone,
You’re with me every single day, believe me.
~~~~~~ Poetry: Seamus Heaney
Lovers on Aran
The timeless waves, bright, sifting, broken glass,
Came dazzling around, into the rocks,
Came glinting, sifting from the Americas
To posess Aran. Or did Aran rush
to throw wide arms of rock around a tide
That yielded with an ebb, with a soft crash?
Did sea define the land or land the sea?
Each drew new meaning from the waves’ collision.
Sea broke on land to full identity.
The Harvest Bow
As you plaited the harvest bow
You implicated the mellowed silence in you
In wheat that does not rust
But brightens as it tightens twist by twist
Into a knowable corona,
A throwaway love-knot of straw.
Hands that aged round ashplants and cane sticks
And lapped the spurs on a lifetime of game cocks
Harked to their gift and worked with fine intent
Until your fingers moved somnambulant:
I tell and finger it like braille,
Gleaning the unsaid off the palpable,
And if I spy into its golden loops
I see us walk between the railway slopes
Into an evening of long grass and midges,
Blue smoke straight up, old beds and ploughs in hedges,
An auction notice on an outhouse wall—
You with a harvest bow in your lapel,
Me with the fishing rod, already homesick
For the big lift of these evenings, as your stick
Whacking the tips off weeds and bushes
Beats out of time, and beats, but flushes
Nothing: that original townland
Still tongue-tied in the straw tied by your hand.
The end of art is peace
Could be the motto of this frail device
That I have pinned up on our deal dresser—
Like a drawn snare
Slipped lately by the spirit of the corn
Yet burnished by its passage, and still warm.
And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightening of flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully-grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park or capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open
~~~~~~ Colin Wilson appeared in my life around 1968, 1969. His writings were a revelation for me. I dipped in again a few times over the years, but his early stuff really got me going about questioning myself, and looking at where I was going. Hats off to ya Colin, thanks for wakeup call.
Charles Hapgood, an American professor of history, became convinced in 1989 that a civilisation, ‘with high levels of science’, had existed at least 100,000 years ago.
In the mid-1950s, Hapgood had written a book called Earth’s Shifting Crust, to which Einstein contributed an Introduction, arguing that the whole crust of the earth undergoes periodic ‘slippages’, one of which in 9500 BC had caused the North Pole to move from Hudson Bay to its present position. And in 1966, his Maps of the Ancient Sea Kings had suggested that mediaeval maps called ‘portolans’ – used by sailors to navigate ‘from port to port’ – proved that there must have been a worldwide maritime civilisation in 7000 BC.
In 1989 he told the writer Rand Flem-Ath that he intended to bring out a new edition of Earth’s Shifting Crust, containing his evidence that civilisation had existed since before 100,000 years ago. But before he could do that, he walked in front of a car and was killed.
I agreed to collaborate with Rand Flem-Ath in trying to solve this mystery. After a long search, I was fortunate enough to track down the man who claimed to have convinced him that civilisation dated back a 100,000 years. He was an eccentric recluse who lived in a small town in New England. When I asked him to explain what had convinced him that there was civilisation a 100,000 years ago, he specified two things: (1) that Neanderthal man was far more intelligent than we assume, and (b) that ancient measures prove that man knew the exact size of the earth millennia before the Greek Eratosthenes worked it out in 240 BC.
A little research of my own quickly verified both statements. Far from being a shambling ape, Neanderthal man had a larger brain than we have, was well acquainted with astronomy, played musical instruments, and even invented the blast furnace. As to the size of the earth, the ancient Greeks had a measure called the stade – the length of a stadium. The polar circumference of the earth proves to be exactly 3,600 stade. Yet the Greeks did not know the size of the earth. They must have inherited the stade from someone who did know.
On a cruise down the Nile in 1997 I stumbled on another crucial discovery: the Nineveh number, a vast 15 digit number found inscribed on an Assyrian clay tablet in the ruins of Assurbanipal’s library. Yet the Assyrians were no great mathematicians. The French space engineer Maurice Chatelain – who provided the first moon rocket with its communication system – discovered powerful internal evidence that the Nineveh number must have been worked out about 65,000 years ago.
He also learned that two more numbers, even larger, were found inscribed on stele in the Mayan sacred city of Quiriga. These shared with the Nineveh number a remarkable characteristic: they could be divided precisely by the number of years it takes the earth to complete its ‘precessional cycle’ round the sun, just under 26,000. (Precession of the equinoxes is the backward movement of the signs of the zodiac, so that in the heavens, spring begins slightly earlier each year.)
So it seems the Assyrians inherited their knowledge of precession from some early ‘founder’ civilisation – presumably the same civilisation from which the Maya, thousands of years later and thousands of miles across the Atlantic, inherited theirs.
I came upon one more important discovery on that Nile cruise. It was something that happened in the temple of Edfu, and it took six more years before its full signficance dawned on me, and provided a sudden insight into the secret of Egyptian temples. Of this more in a moment.
I had come upon another interesting piece of evidence that ‘high levels of science’ date back much earlier than we suppose. It started with the mystery of the Libyan desert glass. Two British scientists driving through the Libyan desert discovered large quantities of a fused green glass, highly valued by Arab craftsmen for making jewellery. Their first assumption, that these were ‘tektites’, a fused glass that comes from outer space, had to be abandoned since it lacked the typical air bubbles, and left them with the only alternative hypothesis: that this glass had been manufactured by some strange industrial process around 6000 BC. But that would have required large quantities of water. It was Hapgood who was able to assure the investigators that there had been vast lakes in the desert in 6000 BC. When Lord Rennell of Rodd described the mystery to a scientist named John V. Dolphin, who had worked on testing the atom bomb in the desert of Australia, Dolphin told him that the glass looked just like the fused sand left behind after an atom bomb test, which led Lord Rennell to consider the possibility that the makers of the Libyan desert glass had mastered atomic energy. Hapgood dismissed this notion, being himself convinced that the ancients simply had some other method of producing very high temperatures – of around 6,000 degrees.
Unknown to Hapgood and Lord Rennell, a Bulgarian inventor name Ilya Velbov – who later called himself Yull Brown – had solved this problem. Brown made the extraordinary discovery that if the hydrogen and oxygen in water are separated, and then re-combined in a kind of oxy-acetylene flame, it will punch an instantaneous hole in a piece of hard wood, burn tungsten (requiring 6,000 degrees), vaporise metals, melt a firebrick, and weld glass to copper. Brown called this mixture ‘Brown’s gas’, and the Chinese used it in their submarines to turn seawater into drinking water. Yet because no one understands the process, science has shown total lack of interest in it. However, Brown had no doubt it was known to the ancients, who used it to extract purified gold from gold ore.
Brown’s total refusal to compromise with American industry ruined his one excellent chance of achieving fame and riches, and he died unknown.
But if Hapgood is correct about his 100,000 year old science, what evidence remains? Well, a modern builder would admit that, for all our technology, he would have no idea of how to go about building the Great Pyramid. The same is true of the magnificent ruins of Tiahuanaco, in the Andes, whose harbour area has blocks so big that no modern crane could lift them. These builders seem to have had some technology for moving immensely heavy weights.
Lake Titicaca, on which Tiahuanaco was once a port, is full of sea creatures. At some time in the past, a geological convulsion raised it two and a half miles in the air. Geologists assume this was millions of years ago; but this is absurd. Who would build a great port on a lake with no other ports or cities? Surely, Tiahunaco must have been at sea level when the convulsion occurred. In their book When the Earth Nearly Died, Compelling Evidence of a Cosmic Catastrophe of 9500 BC (1995), D. S. Allan and J. B. Delair argue that the convulsion was probably due to the impact of a comet or asteroid. The date, of course, is the date Plato assigns to the destruction of Atlantis ‘in a day and a night’.
The story of the great flood is preserved in the legends of the Haida Indians of Canada and of many other tribes. But which flood? Plato speaks of no less than four. The first of these was the Atlantis flood. The second is referred to in the Book of Enoch and the rituals of the Freemasons, and it took place approximately two thousand years after Plato’s flood. ‘Seven burning mountains’ fell to earth from space, according to the evidence of Professor Alexander Tollmann, the largest in the Sunda Strait, and it set in motion a great migration north, which created civilisations in India and then in Sumeria (the Sumerians are regarded as the founders of European civilisation). The third flood, around 6000 BC, created the Black Sea, and was the flood of Noah and the Epic of Gilgamesh. The fourth, ‘Deucalion’s flood’, occurred in the Bronze age, around 2200 BC. Another vast catastrophe struck in 535 AD, causing worldwide famine, drought and plague, which destroyed, among others, the civilisation of the Maya in Central America, and of the Nazca Indians of Peru, whose giant line-drawings on the surface of the desert , we now know, were designed to persuade the gods to send rain.
These drawings can be seen only from the air, and have given rise to the theory that the Nazca shamans, with the aid of ‘psychedelic’ drugs (which the Indians are known to have used) were able to achieve out-of-the-body experiences that enabled them to do this. The Indians of the Peruvian forest use a drug called ayahuasca, which (according to anthropologist Jeremy Narby) they claim taught them the properties of 80,000 plants and the structure of DNA.
Shamanism thereafter becomes one of the central themes of this book, and it is argued that shamans have a knowledge of nature that goes far beyond that of modern science. There seems to be no doubt that shamans possess powers that we would consider ‘magical’, and many examples are given here. The healing abilities of shamans can also be used for the opposite purpose, to produce sickness and death. The Kahuna priests of Hawaii can use the Death Prayer to kill enemies. And it was when reading about their power to protect temples with a curse, and the story of one rash youth who became paralysed from the waist down after entering a ‘fordidden’ temple in a spirit of bravado, that I suddenly saw the meaning of an incident that had happened in 1997 in the temple of Edfu. The curse of Tutankamun was undoubtedly more than a legend,.
The book now returns to the subject of the search for ‘ancient knowledge’, and to the Scotsman and Freemason James Bruce who went to Ethiopia in search of the lost Book of Enoch. We consider evidence advanced by Robert Lomas and Christopher Knight that Enoch travelled to the British Isles, and that a stone (or wooden) structure built on a hilltop could be used as an astronomical computer, which explains, among other things, the length of the ‘megalithic yard’ noted in all megalithic sites by Professor Alexander Thom – he spoke of their builders as ‘Stone Age Einsteins’. Lomas and Knight argue that the rituals of Freemasonry date from ‘Tollman’s flood’ in 7500 BC.
They also pointed out that Rosslyn Chapel, near Edinburgh, founded by the Templar William St Clair, contains carvings of exclusively American plants such as sweet corn and aloes, although Columbus did not discover America until fifty years after it was built. The evidence indicates that when the Templar fleet left La Rochelle to escape the mass arrests (and executions) inaugurated by Philip the Fair in 1307, some ships sailed to America.
How did they know that America was there? The answer seems to be: from maps (like those of Hapgood’s ‘Ancient Sea Kings’) discovered by the original Templars after the fall of Jerusalem to the Crusaders in 1112 AD. King Baldwin gave the nine knights permission to stable their horses in the basement of the old Temple of Solomon, deserted since the Romans had destroyed it in 66 AD after a Jewish uprising. Many documents belonging to a sect called the Essenes had been stored there, one of them (the ‘Heavenly Jerusalem’ scroll) full of Masonic symbols. It seems clear that the Essenes were part of the Masonic tradition, and were aware of the existence of America. The evidence indicates that Jesus was not only an Essene, but was regarded by them as the Messiah who would overthrow Roman rule. He was crucified after an unsuccessful attempt to stir up revolt, and was replaced as leader of the Essenes by his brother James.
Subsequently, St Paul virtually invented the religion called Christianity, in which Jesus ‘the Christ’ is the Saviour who redeems man from Original Sin (a thought that certainly never entered Jesus’s head). And when the original Christians were massacred by the Romans in AD 66, St Paul’s version (preached abroad to gentiles) went on to conquer the world. For purely political reasons it was adopted by the Emperor Constantine to hold his rickety empire together, and the Council of Nicaea laid down the doctrine of the Trinity as a dogma. Pope Leo X would say later: ‘It has served us well, this myth of Christ’. (But then, as we shall show, Pope Leo belonged to the original religious tradition that flowed from the Essenes, and was a member of a secret society known as the Priory of Sion, founded in 1112 by the first Knight Templars.)
Lomas and Knight argue that Hiram Abif, the Temple architect, whose legend of murder by three ‘apprentices’ is the foundation stone of Freemasonry, was in fact an Egyptian pharaoh named Sequenenre, murdered by Hyksos assassins in an attempt to wrest from him a secret ritual for turning a pharaoh into a god. Sequenenre’s son subsequently drove the Hyksos (the ‘Shepherd Kings’) out of Egypt. And six hundred years later, the story was turned on its head when Sequenenre was transformed into ‘Hiram Abif’, architect of Solomon’s Temple. Rosslyn was, in due course, built by a Templar and Freemason in imitation of Solomon’s Temple.
Solomon strayed from the old religion to become a worshipper of Venus, and we learn how the planet Venus is the only planet to form a perfect pentagram in the sky – the fundamental symbol of magic.
We go on to explore the story of the ‘original (Essene) Christianity’, and how it became the secret guarded by a line of French kings, the Merovingians, who knew that Christianity was an invention of St Paul and the Council of Nicaea, and who hoped one day to replace the Catholic Church and restore the original Christianity. They were overthrown when King Dagobert II was murdered and replaced by the Carolingian dynasty, but kept alive the knowledge of the secret of the Priory of Sion. This secret was accidentally discovered by a parish priest named Beranger Sauniere in a village called Rennes-le-Chateau (which lies in the middle of a natural ‘magical’ landscape in which hills form an exact pentagram).
Sauniere also learned that Jesus had not died on the cross, but had been taken down after six hours and nursed back to health, after which he fled to France with his wife, Mary Magdalen, and lived in Rennes-le-Chateau, then called Aireda. The Merovingian kings were direct descendants of Jesus and Mary Magdalen. In the mid-90s, following these clues, an art historian named Peter Blake discovered a cave that he believes to be the tomb of Jesus and Mary, and learned that several popes and cardinals (including Richelieu) has been members of the Priory.
For the concluding two chapters of the book, we return to the mystery of Hapgood’s 100,000 year-old civilisation.
It is clear that the ancients possessed some extraordinary ability to multiply huge numbers, very like those possessed by modern calculating prodigies (such as 5 year old Benjamin Blyth, who took only a few minutes to work out how many second he had been alive). We explore The Infinite Harmony by Mike Hayes, which shows the intimate relation between the DNA code and the I Ching. This leads to a consideration of synchronicity, which modern science refuses to recognise, and the ‘certain blindness in human beings’ that causes us to ‘filter out’ so much our experience. Goethe, like William James, was fully aware of this blindness, and the scientific ‘filters’ that cause us to see ‘God’s living garment’ as a world of dead matter. Goethe’s Theory of Colour is explored. We speak of ‘eidetic vision’, the odd ability of certain people (like Nicola Tesla) to be able to recreate some object inside their heads. (It is also fundamental to training in magic.)
Julian Jaynes realised that man is trapped in a grey world created by the left cerebral hemisphere, the ‘scientific’ part of the brain. But then, Annie Besant and C.W. Leadbeater, two founders of the Theosophical Society, wrote a book called Occult Chemistry that describes quarks more than half a century before science posited their existence.
We move on to another scientist, Chandra Bose, who saw nature – even metals – as alive. And this takes us back to Hapgood, who after his retirement became interested in some very odd aspects of science – for example, the discovery of lie-detector expert Cleve Backster that plants can read our minds. While still a college professor, he did experiments with his students that demonstrated that plants that are ‘prayed for’ flourish more than plants that are ignored, while plants that are ‘prayed against’ often died. Hapgood became very interested in the ‘life fields’discovered b the American scientist Harold Burr, and the recognition that these can be controlled by ‘thought fields’. Hapgood’s studies of anthropology led him to conclude that man has been as intelligent as ourselves for at least 200,000 years, and perhaps for two million. There is, in fact, evidence that our ancestor homo erectus was sailing the seas on rafts 800,000 years ago.
Most amazing is Hapgood’s experiments with hypnosis, which proved conclusively that he could hypnotise his students to accurately predict the future.
The final chapter of this book contains some of its most remarkable discoveries, beginning with the unearthing of a half-million year old plank that had been carefully planed on one side. Then we consider Neanderthal man and some facts that prove his high level of intelligence – and whose red ochre mines in South Africa date back 100,000 years. One sculpture, the Bearkhat Ram, has been dated back to a quarter of a million years ago.
We consider the fact that ‘shamanic’ cultures take ‘group conciousness’ for granted – the kind of telepathic awareness that enables flocks of birds and schools of fishes to change direction simultaneously. Ancient man almost certainly possessed this same telepathic ability. Kevin Kelly’s book Out of Control describes how the whole audience at a computer conference in San Diego learned this ability in a quarter of an hour. In this sense, societies like ancient Egypt were almost certainly ‘collectives’, which could explain their ability to lift massive weights.
We pass on to the extraordinary discoveries of John Michell, who pointed out that the Nineveh number can be divided by the diameters of the sun and moon, and that a mathematical principle called ‘the Canon’ seems to lie behind ancient science: the notion that our universe appears to be designed along mathematical lines – the ‘code of numbers that structures the universe’, which implies that there is an intelligence behind this design. An example is the sequence of ‘Fibonacci numbers’ that play such as basic part in nature, from spiral nebulae to seashells. We discuss the Anthropic Cosmological Principle, formulated by astronomer Brandon Carter, which states that the universe aims at the propagation of life, and at Fred Hoyle’s statement that ‘Our planet is perfectly suited to the incubation of life’, and that ‘it looks as if some superintendent has been monkeying with the physics’.
In that case, what is it that makes human freedom so limited? Man is confined in ‘close-upness’ which deprives him of meaning. We glance again at some of the evidence that man may have been around far longer than science supposes – such as an iron nail embedded in a piece of coal several million years old, and a mastodon’s tooth engraved with a horned beast, that came from a Miocene bed of 25 million years ago.
We quote the Nobel Prize Winner Frederick Soddy, who discovered isotopes, on the ‘evidence of a wholly unknown and unsuspected civilisation of which all other relic has disappeared. And we end by quoting Plato: ‘that things are far better taken care of than we can possibly imagine’.
What can I say. Lou. I saw him so many times. Each time, a new band, a new twist. I fell for Lou and the Velvets in the fall of 1967. We went our separate ways after my son was born. I had changed, you know how this happens.
I tried to reconnect off and on, but it only started to happen after he past away. It hit me hard in the gut, I felt like I had been disloyal, but I think the man would of been amused. He helped shape me in his way. I went down some pretty dark paths during those years,and I am happy I survived regardless of my drive for oblivion once upon a time. Oh! Sweet Nothing!
Here are 3 songs of Lou’s. Some of my favourites. Please listen. Perfect Day
~~ Street Hassle
~~ Oh!Sweet Nothing
“O ignorant one! When we die,
It will be proven to us:
A dream was what we have seen,
And what we have heard, was a tale.” – Mir Dard
“O, sleeper! How many people are not sleeping.
You are called, so wake up!
God will replace you in all He asks of you,
If you, at least sleep by Him!
Your heart however remains deaf to this appeal.
You only get awake in the world of creatures,
Which destroys you each time you die because of its hand.
Take care of your soul before its departure:
The provisions of the journey are not a certainty.” – Ibn al-‘Arabi
“If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are anxious you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present.” ― Lao Tzu
The year is rushing past it seems, just as I was getting adjusted into it. The last few weeks has seen a calming down, and a recentering which is a relief. We are much more settled into our new digs, and had a nice gathering for Thanksgiving. Good friends, family, food and drink can help transform any place into home. With a lot of the art hung, and furniture arranged and some good tunes, I find myself pretty content to walk through the door.
Rowan has been busy, new job, and applying for art grants. He is doing well, with plenty of challenges to take up. Mary and I are still working hand to hand on all of the projects, and honestly, any art work or writing that I get out has a big dose of her input into it. She has soul, and that most wonderful of human attributes, humour. All my love!
Looking forward to the new changes, thankful for what has gone on before, and happily dwelling in this “now”.
Lots on the menu this time. Poetry, music, and new projects afoot. I hope you enjoy!
I have been a busy bee as of late. Lots of stuff going on, and just to list a few…
Latest Projects: Gwyllm-Art.com
I have recently updated my art site, Gwyllm-Art.com I had put it off for a long, long time, and finally migrated it into a WordPress format, which I am sure is going to change, again. I got tired working in HTML and this was a fix that was needed. It is fairly modest at this point compared to where it was, but it will grow as I go along.
Part of the reason that I have gone this route is that I have taken a giant leap and bought a high end printer for my Giclée Prints. I now have the capacity to print up to 17 by 24 inches, (at 1200 dpi if so desired). This frees me up on having to travel to friends houses and use their machines, which though visiting is nice, I can now do it quickly, and get a print out within a day.
In celebration of the new set up and printer, for every print that is ordered while supplies last I will be including a Free Digital Print with every purchase of a Giclée Print (my choice on digital prints)while the supply last! So take advantage of this cool offer!
Gwyllm Art Calendars for 2014
From my art from prints, to illustrations from “The Invisible College” Magazine. Birthdays of Poets, Artist, Philosophers, Metaphysicians and Occultist of are listed along with lunar phases and holidaze.
The calendar comes in two sizes, 13.5×19 @$23.99 & 11×17 @$15.00. They ship anywhere in the world!
~~ Samsung Phone Cases, IPAD & IPhone Cases on Redbubble!
6 Different Images for the portable media tool of choice. This is my first foray into this field, so check them out! Be aware that the menu is on the left for the different devices!
Here are some pics to check out!
~~ On The Menu:
Agrippa – William Gibson
Two Poems: Allen Ginsberg
So my background is pretty much old school art school. Went to art college at a very young age, fell in love with Mandala’s, Art Nouveau, Surrealism, Max Ernst’s collages. I did everything by hand. I fell in love with ink and pen, and horrors upon horrors for my art teachers, water colours.
A few years down the road…
I had my first interactions with computers via synthesizers. What I had done for years with Piano’s, Organs, Basses, Mandolins… I then transformed with that wondrous device. There were hours of discussion with my string driven friends if it was “real music” or artificial. I certainly fell into different positions on this. At the end of my music career I was still using synths, but I was migrating to dulcimers, and medieval instruments like the psaltrey. Today I still love synths, yet I do love the old instruments, and the oldest instrument, the human voice.
I found myself again working with art after I left the musical stage…. First serigraphs, then airbrush. Still work with these. I found myself drifting into working with programming fractals in the early 90’s. Interesting, but it was not what I actually considered art then, but when I see other’s work like Beau Deeley and Mike Crowley I am awe struck by their skills with what they produce.
I enjoy working with photoshop. I have been working with it since the late 90’s, and I am still discovering features and techniques with it. Yet, when I put something I have done with it up on line there usually are people who like it, and others who might like the piece but are dismissive of it as if using a computer instead of scissors, or a brush were some how cheating, or it really wasn’t art.
What are your thoughts? Does using a modern tool invalidate the impulse?
Shapeshifting, Murder & Twisted Love on the Frontier. My son Rowan’s thesis film, just off the film festival circuit.
~~~~~~ A wee bit of music to help the medicine go down… Sundial Aeon [Hypnosis]
(A Book of The Dead)
by William Gibson
before untying the bow
that bound this book together.
A black book:
ALBUMS CA. AGRIPPA
Order Extra Leaves By Letter and Name
A Kodak album of time-burned
black construction paper
The string he tied
Has been unravelled by years
and the dry weather of trunks
Like a lady’s shoestring from the First World War
Its metal ferrules eaten by oxygen
Until they resemble cigarette-ash
Inside the cover he inscribed something in soft graphite
Then his name
W.F. Gibson Jr.
and something, comma,
Then he glued his Kodak prints down
And wrote under them
In chalk-like white pencil:
“Papa’s saw mill, Aug. 1919.”
A flat-roofed shack
Against a mountain ridge
In the foreground are tumbled boards and offcuts
He must have smelled the pitch,
The sweet hot reek
Of the electric saw
Biting into decades
Next the spaniel Moko
Poses on small bench or table
Before a backyard tree
His coat is lustrous
The grass needs cutting
Beyond the tree,
In eerie Kodak clarity,
Are the summer backstairs of Wheeling,
Someone’s left a wooden stepladder out
“Aunt Fran and [obscured]”
Although he isn’t, this gent
He has a “G” belt-buckle
A lapel-device of Masonic origin
A patent propelling-pencil
And the flowers they pose behind so solidly
Are rooted in an upright length of whitewashed
Daddy had a horse named Dixie
“Ford on Dixie 1917”
A saddle-blanket marked with a single star
A western saddle
And a cloth cap
Proud and happy
As any boy could be
“Arthur and Ford fishing 1919”
Shot by an adult
(Witness the steady hand
that captures the wildflowers
the shadows on their broad straw hats
reflections of a split-rail fence)
standing opposite them,
on the far side of the pond,
amid the snake-doctors and the mud,
Kodak in hand,
And “Moma July, 1919”
strolls beside the pond,
in white big city shoes,
Purse tucked behind her,
While either Ford or Arthur, still straw-hatted,
approaches a canvas-topped touring car.
“Moma and Mrs. Graham at fish hatchery 1919”
Moma and Mrs. G. sit atop a graceful concrete arch.
“Arthur on Dixie”, likewise 1919,
rather ill at ease. On the roof behind the barn, behind him,
can be made out this cryptic mark:
“Papa’s mill 1919”, my grandfather most regal amid a wrack of
might as easily be the record
of some later demolition, and
His cotton sleeves are rolled
to but not past the elbow,
striped, with a white neckband
for the attachment of a collar.
Behind him stands a cone of sawdust some thirty feet in height.
(How that feels to tumble down,
or smells when it is wet)
The mechanism: stamped black tin,
Leatherette over cardboard, bits of boxwood,
The shutter falls
Dividing that from this.
Now in high-ceiling bedrooms,
in the bottom drawers of veneered bureaus
in cool chemical darkness curl commemorative
montages of the country’s World War dead,
just as I myself discovered
one other summer in an attic trunk,
and beneath that every boy’s best treasure
of tarnished actual ammunition
real little bits of war
The blued finish of firearms
is a process, controlled, derived from common
rust, but there under so rare and uncommon a patina
that many years untouched
until I took it up
and turning, entranced, down the unpainted
stair, to the hallway where I swear
I never heard the first shot.
The copper-jacketed slug recovered
from the bathroom’s cardboard cylinder of
Morton’s Salt was undeformed
save for the faint bright marks of lands
and grooves so hot, stilled energy,
it blistered my hand.
The gun lay on the dusty carpet.
Returning in utter awe I took it so carefully up
That the second shot, equally unintended,
notched the hardwood bannister
and brought a strange bright smell of ancient sap to life
in a beam ofdusty sunlight.
in awareness of the mechanism.
Like the first time you put your mouth
on a woman.
“Ice Gorge at Wheeling 1917”
Iron bridge in the distance,
Beyond it a city.
Hotels where pimps went about their business
on the sidewalks of a lost world.
But the foreground is in focus,
this corner of carpenter’s Gothic,
these backyards running down to the freeze.
“Steamboat on Ohio River”,
its smoke foul and dark,
its year unknown,
beyond it the far bank
overgrown with factories.
House Sept. 1921”
They have moved down from Wheeling and my father wears his
city clothes. Main Street is unpaved and an electric streetlamp is
slung high in the frame, centered above the tracked dust on a
slack wire, suggesting the way it might pitch in a strong wind,
the shadows that might throw.
The house is heavy, unattractive, sheathed in stucco, not native
to the region. My grandfather, who sold supplies to contractors,
was prone to modern materials, which he used with
wholesaler’s enthusiasm. In 1921 he replaced the section of brick
sidewalk in front of his house with the broad smooth slab of poured
concrete, signing this improvement with a flourish, “W.F.
Gibson 1921”. He believed in concrete and plywood
particularly. Seventy years later his signature remains, the slab
floating perfectly level and charmless between mossy stretches of
sweet uneven brick that knew the iron shoes of Yankee horses.
“Mama Jan. 1922” has come out to sweep the concrete with a
broom. Her boots are fastened with buttons requiring a special instrument.
Ice gorge again, the Ohio, 1917. The mechanism closes. A
torn clipping offers a 1957 DeSOTO FIREDOME, 4-door Sedan,
torqueflite radio, heather and power steering and brakes, new
w.s.w. premium tires. One owner. $1,595.
He made it to the age of torqueflite radio
but not much past that, and never in that town.
That was mine to know, Main Street lined with
the dimestore floored with wooden planks
pies under plastic in the Soda Shop,
and the mystery untold, the other thing,
sensed in the creaking of a sign after midnight
when nobody else was there.
In the talc-fine dust beneath the platform of the
Norfolk & Western lay indian-head pennies undisturbed since
the dawn of man.
In the banks and courthouse, a fossil time
prevailed, limestone centuries.
When I went up to Toronto
in the draft, my Local Board was there on Main Street,
above a store that bought and sold pistols.
I’d once traded that man a derringer for a
Walther P-38. The pistols were in the window
behind an amber roller-blind
like sunglasses. I was seventeen or so but basically I guess
you just had to be a white boy.
I’d hike out to a shale pit and run
ten dollars worth of 9mm
through it, so worn you hardly
had to pull the trigger.
Bored, tried shooting
down into a distant stream but
one of them came back at me
off a round of river rock
clipping walnut twigs from a branch
two feet above my head.
So that I remembered the mechanism.
In the all night bus station
they sold scrambled eggs to state troopers
the long skinny clasp-knives called fruit knives
which were pearl handled watermelon-slicers
and hillbilly novelties in brown varnished wood
which were made in Japan.
First I’d be sent there at night only
if Mom’s carton of Camels ran out,
but gradually I came to value
the submarine light, the alien reek
of the long human haul, the strangers
straight down from Port Authority
headed for Nashville, Memphis, Miami.
Sometimes the Sheriff watched them get off
making sure they got back on.
When the colored restroom
was no longer required
they knocked open the cinderblock
and extended the magazine rack
to new dimensions,
a cool fluorescent cave of dreams
smelling faintly and forever of disinfectant,
perhaps as well of the travelled fears
of those dark uncounted others who,
moving as though contours of hot iron,
were made thus to dance
or not to dance
as the law saw fit.
There it was that I was marked out as a writer,
having discovered in that alcove
copies of certain magazines
esoteric and precious, and, yes,
I knew then, knew utterly,
the deal done in my heart forever,
though how I knew not,
nor ever have.
through all the streets unmoving
so quiet I could hear the timers of the traffic lights a block away:
the mechanism. Nobody else, just the silence
spreading out to where the long trucks groaned
on the highway their vast brute souls in want.
There must have been a true last time
I saw the station but I don’t remember
I remember the stiff black horsehide coat
gift in Tucson of a kid named Natkin
I remember the cold
I remember the Army duffle
that was lost and the black man in Buffalo
trying to sell me a fine diamond ring,
and in the coffee shop in Washington
I’d eavesdropped on a man wearing a black tie
embroidered with red roses
that I have looked for ever since.
They must have asked me something
at the border
I was admitted
and behind me swung the stamped tin shutter
across the very sky
and I went free
to find myself
mazed in Victorian brick
amid sweet tea with milk
and smoke from a cigarette called a Black Cat
and every unknown brand of chocolate
and girls with blunt-cut bangs
not even Americans
looking down from high narrow windows
on the melting snow
of the city undreamed
and on the revealed grace
of the mechanism,
no round trip.
They tore down the bus station
there’s chainlink there
no buses stop at all
and I’m walking through Chiyoda-ku
in a typhoon
the fine rain horizontal
umbrella everted in the storm’s Pacific breath
tonight red lanterns are battered.
in the mechanism.
~~~~~~ Two Poems: Allen Ginsberg
Tales Of The Tribe – Allen Ginsberg
Transcription of Organ Music – Allen Ginsberg
“Kindness in words creates confidence. Kindness in thinking creates profoundness. Kindness in giving creates love.” – Lao Tzu
Nepenthe: “such as drinck, eternall happinesse do fynd” – Edmund Spenser
It has been a hectic week or two since I last published Turfing. This year has been nothing if not change. As I write, I look out my window over green hills, and incredible blue skies. Though out of the way, our new home has some wonderful benefits. I am not so keen on the commute, as I have found that at certain times it is mayhem. So used to not commuting, as in ever.
This edition covers The Poison Path/The Flowery Path in poetry, writing and song. I hope you enjoy it!
in my hotel room overlooking Desamparados’ Clanging Clock,
with the french balcony doors closed, and luminescent fixture out
“my room took on a near eastern aspect” that is I was reminded of Burroughs
with heart beating—and the blue wall of Polynesian Whorehouse, and
mirror framed in black as if in Black Bamboo-and wooden slated floor
and I in my bed, waiting, and slowly drifting away
but still thinking in my body till my body turned to passive wood
and my soul rocked back & forth preparing to slide out on eternal journey
backwards from my head in the dark
An hour, realizing the possible change in consciousness
that the Soul is independent of the body and its death
and that the Soul is not Me, it is the wholly other “whisper of consciousness”
from Above, Beyond, Afuera—
till I realize it existed in all its splendor in the Ideal or Imaginary
Toward which the me will travel when the body goes to the sands of Chancay
And at last, lying in bed covered my body with a splendid robe of
indian manycolors wool,
I gazed up at the grey gate of Heaven with a foreign eye
and yelled in my mind “Open up, for I am the Prince of eternity
come back to myself after a long journey in chaos,
open the Door of Heaven, My Soul, for I have come back to claim
my Ancient House
Let the Servants come forth to Welcome me and let Silent Harp make music
and bring my apparel of Rainbow and Star show me my shoes of Light and
my Pants of the Universe
Spread forth my meal of myriad lives, My Soul, and Show up thy
Face of Welcome
For I am the one who has dwelled in the secret Temple before,
and I have been man too long
And now I want to Hear Music of Joy beyond Death,
and now I am be who has waited to Welcome myself back Home
The great stranger is Home in his House of Joy.”
or words or thoughts or sensations & images to that effect.
Thus for an instant the Sensation of this Eternal House passed thru my hair
tho I couldn’t liberate my body from the bed to float away—
tho did glimpse the foot of the thought of the gate of Heaven—
Then opened my eyes and Saw the blast of light of the real universe
when I opened the window and looked at the clock on the R R Station
with its halfnaked man & woman with clubs, creators of time and chaos,
and down on the street where pastry venders sold their poor sugar
symbolic of Eternity, to Passerby-and great fat clanking beast of Trolley
with its dumb animal look and croaking screech on the tracks
Powered by electric life,, turned a corner of the Presidential Palace
where Bolivar 200 years ago in time planted a secret everlasting Fig-tree
and a fog from another life crept thru its own dimension
Past the cornice of the hotel and travelled downward in the street
To seek the river-had a bridge with little humans crossing, faraway
—and up in the hills the silver gleam of sunlight on the horizon thru thick fog
—and the Cerro San Christobal—with a cross atop and Casbah of poor
consciousness ratted on its hip—
and overall the vast blue flash & blast of open space
the Sky of Time, empty as a big blue dream
and as everlasting as the many eyes that lived to see it
Time is the God, is the Face of the God,
As in the monstrous image of the Ramondi Chavin Sculptured Stone Monument
A cat head many eyed sharp toothed god face long as Time,
with different eyes some upside down and 16 sets of faces
all have fangs—the structure of one consciousness
that waits upstairs to Devour man and all his universes
—turn the picture upside down—the top eyes see more than the human bottom rows
Indifferent, dopey, smiling, horrible, with Snakes & fangs—
The huge gentle creature of the Cosmic joke
that takes whatever form it can to Signify that it is the one that has come to its Home
where all are invited to Enter in Secret eternally
After they have been killed by the illusion of Impossible Death.
~ Allen Ginsberg
~~ No Safe Place
Behind the white picket fence
on the sunny porch where I fed
my morning habits a fatherly voice
I grew up on antipsychotics
In the local bar comparing the ages
of psychedelic acoustics wondering
was the Invisible Temple always here
and have the routes changed a good-old
Freak says goodbye with hand games
to me a complete stranger declaring
You’re too smart for your own good
In the woods surrounded by the hum
of vegetable silence dialogue with Others
comes in nighttime motions topographies
delineated by fireflies and loons mumbled
messages from sleeping partners skry
There is no safe place for Magicians
and Shamans or Poets
under any phase of our Moon
The only Absolute
Change and Return
the gate to what
The crack of a ball
The moment before
you fell from the cliff
Not a care in the world a dog biting your heels
The Buddha eats strawberries
The Christ has a last meal
and nowhere and nothing will ever be the same.
~ Dr. Con
~~ Bread, Hashish And Moon
When the moon is born in the east,
And the white rooftops drift asleep
Under the heaped-up light,
People leave their shops and march forth in groups
To meet the moon
Carrying bread, and a radio, to the mountaintops,
And their narcotics.
There they buy and sell fantasies
And die – as the moon comes to life.
What does that luminous disc
Do to my homeland?
The land of the prophets,
The land of the simple,
The chewers of tobacco, the dealers in drug?
What does the moon do to us,
That we squander our valor
And live only to beg from Heaven?
What has the heaven
For the lazy and the weak?
When the moon comes to life they are changed to
And shake the tombs of the saints,
Hoping to be granted some rice, some children…
They spread out their fine and elegant rugs,
And console themselves with an opium we call fate
In my land, the land of the simple
What weakness and decay
Lay hold of us, when the light streams forth!
Rugs, thousands of baskets,
Glasses of tea and children swarn over the hills.
In my land,
where the simple weep,
And live in the light they cannot perceive;
In my land,
Where people live without eyes,
And live in resignation,
As they always have,
Calling on the crescent moon:
” O Crescent Moon!
O suspended God of Marble!
O unbelievable object!
Always you have been for the east, for us,
A cluster of diamonds,
For the millions whose senses are numbed”
On those eastern nights when
The moon waxes full,
The east divests itself of all honor
The millions who go barefoot,
Who believe in four wives
And the day of judgment;
The millions who encounter bread
Only in their dreams;
Who spend the night in houses
Built of coughs;
Who have never set eyes on medicine;
Fall down like corpses beneath the light.
In my land,
where the stupid weep
And die weeping
Whenever the crescent moon appears
And their tears increase;
Whenever some wretched lute moves them…
or the song to “night”
In my land,
In the land of the simple,
where we slowly chew on our unending songs-
A form of consumption destroying the east-
Our east chewing on its history,
its lethargic dreams,
Its empty legends,
Our east that sees the sum of all heroism
In Picaresque Abu Zayd al Hilali.
~ Nizar Qabbani
Societies of the past have used the psychedelic experience to strengthen, renew and heal the spiritual underpinning of their social structures. The ever-deepening social unease that Western civilisation seems to be caught in is the real source of our ‘drug problem’: natural hallucinogens are not the problems in themselves, it is the context in which they are used that matters. If there were orderly and healthy structures and mechanisms for their use and the cultural absorption of the powerful experiences – and knowledge – we could separate these from the culture of crime that surrounds them now. In short, the problems are not in the psychoactive substances themselves, but in a society, which on the one hand wants to prohibit, mind-expansion altogether and on the other chooses to use mind-expanding substances in a literally mindless, hedonistic fashion.
Perhaps only a shock of some kind could break our society free from the patterns of thought and prejudices that lock it into this crisis. The desire for such a shock may be hidden within the widespread modern myth of extra-terrestrial intervention. In fact, we do not have to look to science fiction for a real otherworld contact: it already exists in the form of plant hallucinogens. If we see them in the context of a ‘problem’, it is only because they hold up a mirror in which we see our spiritual, social and mental condition reflected. And they hold that mirror up to us as one species to another just as surely as if they were from another planet. Indeed, that champion of the psychedelic state, the late Terence McKenna, argued that the ancestral spores of today’s hallucinogenic mushrooms may have originated on some other planet. (This is not as fringe an idea as it sounds, for even some ‘hard scientists’ – the late Francis Crick, co-discover of DNA, among them – have suggested that the germs of life may have had extra-terrestrial origins, brought to Earth by means of meteorites or comet dust.) The psilocybin family of hallucinogens, says McKenna, produces a “Logos-like phenomenon of an interior voice that seems to be almost a superhuman agency…an entity so far beyond the normal structure of the ego that if it is not an extraterrestrial it might as well be.”
Other ‘psychonauts’ have emerged from the altered mind states enabled by plant substances with similar impressions. For instance, New York journalist Daniel Pinchbeck wrote about his various initiations with plant hallucinogens in his Breaking Open the Head (2002). In one ayahuasca session with Amazonian Secoya Indians he found himself wandering in a visionary space where he encountered beings that “never stopped changing” their forms. “The shaman and the elders seemed to be inhabiting this space with me… They sang, their words unintelligible, to these creatures, interacting with them… I had no more doubts that the Secoya engaged in extradimensional exploration.” Or, again, two of the three molecular biologists brought to the Amazon to experience ayahuasca trances by anthropologist and writer, Jeremy Narby, felt that they had communicated with an “independent intelligence.” Narby himself feels that in their ayahuasca altered states shamans plumb the molecular level of nature and that, to put Narby’s idea crudely, ayahuasca – with its trade-mark visionary snakes – has the ability to communicate information concerning the double-helix coil of DNA (The Cosmic Serpent, 1998). Indeed, to allow contact with the “mind of nature.”
We have already noted that the idea that ontologically independent beings (‘spirits’) or intelligences are contactable through plant-induced trances is standard in most if not all shamanic tribal societies, but to posit such a thing in modern Western societies is viewed as tantamount to insanity, a nonsense notion to be dismissed out of hand. In other words, we can’t discuss it without forfeiting all credibility. This problem concerning the inability to explore certain ideas has been addressed by Oxford-based researcher, Andy Letcher. He uses Foucauldian discourse analysis to critique the models, the ‘discourses’ employed by the West in dealing with the content of altered mind states. These include pathological, prohibition, psychological, recreational, psychedelic, entheogenic discourses. Each has its own imposed boundaries; they are cognitive constructs. Letcher notes that some of these discourses or approaches to hallucinogenic substances ignore the subjective experience of the altered mind states involved, or else place it within an inner, psychological framework rather than it being a case of simply seeing more, of being in a wider frame of consciousness. He critiques even the entheogenic discourse as relying on a “God within” model, divine revelation that does not by any means occur in all altered states. However diverse they might be, all these discourses can be used within the norms of Western culture. Only one discourse crosses that “fundamental societal boundary,” what Letcher refers to as the animistic discourse – the belief that the taking of, say, hallucinogenic mushrooms occasions actual “encounters with discarnate spirit entities.” Because of the deep-rooted modern Western assumption that consciousness cannot occur in any other guise than human (the ultimate hubris of our species, perhaps) discussion of a conscious plant kingdom, or of that providing a portal through which contact with other, ontologically independent beings or intelligences can occur, is simply not possible within the mainstream culture. “It nevertheless remains a phenomenon in need of further scholarly research,” Letcher rightly insists.
It is a remarkable fact that plant hallucinogens are hallucinogenic precisely because they contain the same, or effectively the same, chemicals as are found in the human brain, and so act on us as if we were indeed engaged in an interspecies communication. “The chemical structure of the hallucinogenic principles of the mushrooms was determined…and it was found that these compounds were closely related chemically to substances occurring naturally in the brain which play a major role in the regulation of psychic functions,” Schultes and Hofmann have observed, for instance. This challenges the view held by many people that taking a plant hallucinogen is somehow ‘unnatural’. Certainly, mind-altering plants take the brain-mind to states that are not “normal” by the standards of our culture, but the ‘normal’ state of Western consciousness cannot claim to be the one-and-only ‘true’ state of consciousness. (Indeed, judging by the mess we manage to make of our societies and of the natural world around us it may even be an aberrant or pathological state of mind that we are culturally locked into.)
“If one were to reduce to its essentials the complex chemical process that occurs when an external psychoactive drug such as psilocybin reaches the brain, it would then be said that the drug, being structurally closely related to the naturally occurring indoles in the brain, appears to interact with the latter in such a way as to lock a nonordinary or inward-directed state of consciousness temporarily into place… There are obviously wide implications, biological-evolutionary as well as philosophical, in the discovery that precisely in the chemistry of consciousness we are kin to the plant kingdom,” writes Peter Furst.
These are probably the same kind of chemical changes that occur during the course of long and intensive spiritual exercises, but it takes a rare person to achieve sufficient expertise in such techniques to arrive at experiences that match those accessible through hallucinogen usage, which are certainly very ‘real’ in a subjective sense. It is a culturally-engineered cliché to dismiss such states as being somehow delusional. They are subjectively no more delusional than the experience of daily life. The human body is an open system, taking in material from the environment and expelling matter into it all the time, and we really shouldn’t think of taking in natural chemicals for visionary and mind-expanding functioning as any different, any less natural, than taking in gases from the air for their chemical benefits to the body, or chemicals and compounds in animal and vegetable matter to provide food, or fermented fruits and vegetable matter to provide delicious, refreshing or inebriating beverages, or vitamins to augment healthy functioning, or medicines when we are ill, or caffeinated teas and coffees when we want to be energised. “Ethnobotanists now realize that psychotropic plant species extend further than had been suspected, as though nature truly wanted the human species to get in touch with its floral neighbors,” Richard Gehr muses. “As plant species die off at a furious rate, the issue is no longer what they are trying to tell us, but whether we will get the message in time.”
That message may be to do with the need for us to change our minds, or, at least, to broaden our cognitive horizons. The plant kingdom could be urging us to allow the ability to ‘switch channels’ in consciousness terms to let them become a recognised and acceptable part of our emerging global culture. Hallucinogen-using ancient and traditional societies had and have exceptional sophistication when it comes to understanding and navigating alternate states of consciousness, whereas we are still quite primitive and inexperienced in this regard. The manual for using expanded consciousness is a textbook we have not read – or, more accurately, recalled. Not that simply widening our collective experience of consciousness will act like a magic wand and remove all problems and obstacles, but it would help us to make wiser, more whole-some decisions in coping with them. If Western civilisation is truly to advance, we surely must learn to operate within the multi-dimensional capacities of our minds, rather than using the police to conduct an indiscriminate war on the means of doing so. A workable balance has to be struck between protecting the well-being and the orderly functioning of society as a whole, and allowing the human brain-mind to explore its full potential. We are smart enough and complex enough and able enough to make it possible to do both. There are no excuses.
The Long Trip is available from Amazon US and Amazon UK
~~~~~~ The Machine – Moons of Neptune
“For although nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men. This I have known ever since I stretched out my fingers to the abomination within that great gilded frame; stretched out my fingers and touched a cold and unyielding surface of polished glass.”
― H.P. Lovecraft, The Outsider
Just as persons who are being initiated into the Mysteries throng together at the outset amid tumult and shouting, and jostle against one another but when the holy rites are being performed and disclosed the people are immediately attentive in awe and silence, so too at the beginning of philosophy: about its portals also you will see great tumult and talking and boldness, as some boorishly and violently try to jostle their way towards the repute it bestows; but he who has succeeded in getting inside, and has seen a great light, as though a shrine were opened, adopts another bearing of silence and amazement, and “humble and orderly attends upon” reason as upon a god. – Plutarch
It has been a hectic couple of weeks, with moving, and business and all that attends. As I type, I look out my window now on fog shrouded hills to the NorthWest. Some houses are there of course but on the main one sees the trees peaking through. Quite the different view than from our older home. It rains today, and the hint of autumn is strong upon the air and land. We are markedly higher, and the trees are turning rapidly.
Buster our cat, and Sophie our dog like the new place, but still follow us around a bit lost. Buster had lived his whole life in the other house. He has taken to the back deck though, and seems happy enough. Sophie mopes a bit. We drove through the old neighborhood the other day, and she perked up with the familiar scents as we went by.
I am setting up screen presses, digging out books and trying to envision what our hill-top home will be like. Another cycle of discovery, and change.
Lots to like in this new entry. I hope you enjoy it!
On The Menu:
Calvin Harris Class
Mother Destruction – Kalamaya
Arthur Symons – Poetry
The Greater Eleusinian Mysteries
Mother Destruction – Babalon Sun Mantra
~~~~~~ Commercial Plug For A Friend:
I have known Calvin Harris since I was 15. He teaches a good class. We met in L.A. when I was in between The Haight & Colorado in the summer of 1967. I met a shy young man who has blossomed over the years to someone with direction, love and a deep innate knowledge that he shares with great talent.
Translation® is the core class that represents the foundation of The Prosperos instruction. Prosperos classes are presented in a teaching style that originates from the ancient Oral Tradition. These classes are designed to reveal to you the fundamental reality which is “back and behind the universe of time, space and change,” to discover the wordless by exploring the words that build your world. This is the practical application of the science of Ontology which immerses you in your true identity, where the power of universal energy is available to you through your understanding of universal principle.
The Prosperos tool: “Translation®” is a channel to the universal flow of energy into an unpredictable good!
TRANSLATION will be offered as a Class, given in a Retreat Setting at Aliso Creek Inn, Laguna Beach, CA 92651.
Grasp the Tool, on the weekend of October 12th and 13th. Make plans now to attend.
Contact: Calvin Harris email@example.com
Dates: Saturday, October 12, 2013 through Sunday, October 13, 2013
Times: Registration Saturday 9 a. m. Saturday Class hours 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday Class hours 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Workshop hrs 5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
New to Class : $175 / Review : $65 / Life Member : by contribution
Location: The Aliso Creek Inn
31106 South Coast Hwy, Laguna Beach, CA. 92651
NOTE: If you intend to stay overnight at the hotel, contact hotel for reservations at:
800-223-3309, or 949-499-2271. (Space may be limited)
~~~~~~ Mother Destruction – Kalamaya
~~~~~~ Eleusinian Quotes:
“There were three degrees of initiation: the Lesser Mysteries which were a preliminary requirement, the Greater Mysteries or telete which means “to make perfect,” and the additional and highest degree, the epopteia. The telete initiation can be divided into the dromena : things acted, the legomena : things said, and the deiknymena : things shown. Theo Smyrnaios has his own particular stages of mystical initiation related to his five-step understanding of philosophy. They are 1) initial purification, 2) mystic communion or communication, 3) epopteia : revelation of the holy objects and transmission of the telete, 4) crowning with garlands as the badge of initiation into the mysteries, and 5) the happiness resulting from communion with God. According to inscriptions the crowning of initiates occurred at the beginning of the ceremonies described as the second and third stages. Their names were recorded on wooden tablets by the priests, and their myrtle wreaths were replaced by wreathes with ribbons, the emblem of their consecration to the goddesses.” – (Mylonas Eleusis p. 261)
“Crowned with myrtle, along with the other initiates we enter the entrance hall of the temple, still blind, but the hierophant who is within will soon open our eyes. But first, for nothing is to be done in haste, let us wash in the holy water. We are led before the hierophant. From a book of stone, he reads to us things which we must not divulge, under penalty of death. Let us say only that they are in harmony with the place and circumstance. You would laugh, perhaps, if you heard them outside the temple, but here you have no desire to laugh as you listen to the words of the elder (for he is always old) and as you look at the exposed symbols. And you are far from laughing when, by her special language and signs, by vivid sparkling of light and clouds piled upon clouds, Demeter confirms everything that we have seen and heard from her holy priest. Then, finally, the light of a serene wonder fills the temple; we see the pure Elysian fields; we hear the chorus of the blessed ones. Now it is not merely through an external appearance or through a philosophical interpretation, but in fact and in reality that the hierophant becomes the creator and the revelator of all things; the sun is but his torchbearer, the moon, his helper of the altar, and Hermes, his mystical messenger. But the last word has been uttered: Knox Om Pax.
The ritual has been consummated, and we are seers forever.” – (Schuré, Edouard The Great Initiates p. 406)
And the formula of the Eleusinian mysteries is as follows: “I fasted, I drank the draught (kykeon ); I took from the chest; having done my task, I placed in the basket, and from the basket into the chest.” – (Exhortation to the Greeks II, 18 Clement of Alexandria)
“There was a time when with the rest of the happy band they saw beauty shining in brightness, – we philosophers following in the train of Zeus, others in company with other gods; and then we beheld the beatific vision and were initiated into a mystery which may be truly called most blessed, celebrated by us in our state of innocence before we had any experience of evils to come, when we were admitted to the sight of apparitions innocent and simple and calm and happy, which we beheld shining in pure light.” – Socrates’ mystic vision of initiation from Plato’s Phaedrus
Arthur Symons – Poetry
In the Temple
When Lilian comes I scarcely know
If Winter wraps the world in snow,
Or if ’tis Summer strikes a-glow
The fountain in the court below,
When Lilian comes.
Her flower-like eyes, her soft lips bring
The warmth and welcome of the Spring,
And round my room, a fairy ring,
See violets, violets blossoming,
When Lilian comes.
When Lilian goes I hear again
The infinite despair of rain
Drip on my darkening window-pane
The tears of Winter on the wane,
When Lilian goes.
Yet still about my lonely room
The visionary violets bloom,
And with her presence still perfume
The tedious page that I resume
When Lilian goes.
The feverish room and that white bed,
The tumbled skirts upon a chair,
The novel flung half-open where
Hat, hair-pins, puffs, and paints, are spread;
The mirror that has sucked your face
Into its secret deep of deeps,
And there mysteriously keeps
Forgotten memories of grace;
And you, half-dressed and half awake,
Your slant eyes strangely watching me,
And I, who watch you drowsily,
With eyes that, having slept not, ache;
This (need one dread? nay, dare one hope?)
Will rise, a ghost of memory, if
Ever again my handkerchief
Is scented with White Heliotrope.
A Litany of Lethe
O Lethe, hidden waters never dry,
We, all we weary and heavy-laden, cry,
O Lethe, let us find thee and forget!
–All we have sinnèd, and yet the scars remain.
–And we, all we had sorrow.–And we had pain.
O Lethe, let us find thee and forget!
Thou that dost flow from Death to Death through Sleep,
Whose waters are the tears of those that weep,
O Lethe, let us find thee and forget!
Thou that dost bring sweet peace to hospitals,
And to the captive openest prison-walls,
O Lethe, let us find thee and forget!
Thou that dost loose the soul from murdered Truth,
And youth from yesterday, and age from youth,
O Lethe, let us find thee and forget!
Thou from lost love remembered sett’st us free
From hopeless love, a lorn eternity;
O Lethe, let us find thee and forget!
Thou from repentance tak’st the sting, from vice
The memory of a forfeit Paradise;
O Lethe, let us find thee and forget!
Thou in our grief dost hide from us no less
The anguish of remembered happiness;
O Lethe, let us find thee and forget!
Thou that dost lay alike on all thy spell,
And free the saint from heaven, the wretch from hell,
O Lethe, let us find thee and forget!
Bring, bring soft sleep, and close all eyes for us,
Sleep without dreams, and peace oblivious;
O Lethe, let us find thee and forget!
We, all we weary and heavy-laden, cry,
Too tired to live, and yet too weak to die,
O Lethe, let us find thee and forget!
The Loom Of Dreams
I broider the world upon a loom,
I broider with dreams my tapestry;
Here in a little lonely room
I am master of earth and sea,
And the planets come to me.I broider my life into the frame,
I broider my love, thread upon thread;
The world goes by with its glory and shame,
Crowns are bartered and blood is shed;
I sit and broider my dreams instead.And the only world is the world of my dreams,
And my weaving the only happiness;
For what is the world but what it seems?
And who knows but that God, beyond our guess,
Sits weaving worlds out of loneliness?
~~~~~~ And I will with the women and the holy maidens go
Where they keep the nightly vigil, an auspicious light to show.
(Aristophanes- The Frogs 442-443)
Pagan Regeneration, by Harold R. Willoughby, 
THE GREATER MYSTERIES AT ELEUSIS
AMONG the cults of Greece none was more favorably known in the first century of the Christian era than the Eleusinian mysteries. Although it was more definitely localized and centralized than were the other Greek mysteries, this circumstance did not detract from either its reputation or its influence. Locally it was associated with an antique tradition that ran back to prehistoric times, and such antiquity was a valued credential for any first-century religion. The home of this cult was the town of Eleusis on the fertile Rharian plain a few miles from Athens, where in prehistoric times the cereal goddess Demeter was revered by an agricultural community. Legends of the special initiation of foreigners like Heracles and the Dioscuri recall the primitive time when membership in the cult was open to citizens of Eleusis only. With the political fusion of Eleusis and Athens, however, the local barriers were broken down and rebuilt along much extended lines. The dominant city-state of Athens adopted the cult as her own, brought it under state supervision, and entrusted the general management of the mysteries to the Archon Basileus. Inscriptions of the Periclean period attest the well-considered plan of Athens to use the mysteries as a religious support for her political hegemony. This combination of ancient Eleusinian tradition and the official patronage of the Athenian state gave dignity and prestige to the mysteries of Demeter even in the first century.
But this cult was more than merely a state religion of the usual Greek model. In the first century its appeal and its guaranties were for the individual rather than for the citizen. On the one hand not all Athenians, by any means, were members of the cult. The citizen of Athens did not automatically come under the protection of Demeter by natural birth as he found himself under the aegis of Athena. It was by special initiation alone, conceived and represented as a process of rebirth, that he could avail himself of the cult privileges. No less an Athenian than Socrates was reproached for not seeking initiation into these mysteries. The state cult of Demeter operated as a voluntary religious association in which Athenian citizens were eligible for membership; but their adherence was a matter of their own volition.
Conversely, eligibility for admission was not limited to Athenians only. When, as a result of the absorption of Eleusis by Athens, the mysteries lost their local exclusiveness, they further took on a pan-Hellenic character. The so-called Homeric Hymn to Demeter, one of the earliest and most valuable of Eleusinian documents, invites the whole Greek world to come and participate in the mysteries. Herodotus states that in his day whoever wished to do so, whether they were Athenians or other Greeks, might come to be initiated. Later, even the Hellenic limitation was removed and persons of any nationality were received, providing they understood the Greek language in which the ritual was conducted. In the time of Cicero, just before the beginning of our era, “the most distant nations were initiated into the sacred and august Eleusinia.”
It is interesting to note further that women and slaves, even, were admitted to this cult. The author of the oration In Neaeram, which was once attributed to Demosthenes, states that Lysias, without any difficulty, was able to arrange for the initiation of his mistress Metanira. That slaves were admitted is suggested by a fragment from the comic poet Theophilus in which a slave speaks with gratitude of his beloved master who taught him his letters and got him initiated into the sacred mysteries. An inscription dated in the administration of Lycurgus (329-328 B.C.) further puts the question of the admission of slaves beyond doubt. It is an expense account of an Eleusinian official, and among the items included is the following: “For the initiation of two public slaves; thirty drachmae.” The mysteries of Demeter, therefore, once a local cult and later a state religion, came in the end to assume an international character and to make an individualistic appeal. In its developed form, the cult received into membership not only Greeks but also “barbarians,” and women and slaves as well as free men.
It is indubitable that the influence of the Eleusinian mysteries was widespread in the Graeco-Roman world. Though localized at Eleusis this cult influenced rites that were celebrated elsewhere in widely scattered centers. In Ionia, at Eleusis this cult influenced rites that were celebrated elsewhere in widely scattered centers. In Ionia, at Ephesus and Mycale, and again in the Arcadian city of Pheneus, Demeter Eleusinia was worshipped and her cult was related in local legend to the Attic foundation. Pausanias vouches for the statement that Celeae near Philius, and Megalopolis in Arcadia each had an “initiation mystery of Demeter” in which the proceedings were conducted “in imitation of those at Eleusis.” According to a late inscription (third century A.D.), a mystery of Demeter flourished at Lerna in Argolis, and the hierophant in charge was the son of an Athenian priest. There are further records that Demeter Eleusinia was worshiped in Boeotia and Laconia on the Greek mainland, and in Crete and Thera among the Greek islands. At Naples, in Italy, mysteries in honor of Demeter were celebrated after the Attic manner. It is even possible that the Andanian mysteries in Messenia, which Pausanias regarded as second in dignity and prestige to the Eleusinian alone, were also related to the Attic cult. In each of these instances two possibilities are to be considered. Either the similar rites had their origin in the Eleusinian ceremonies or else both came from a common parentage. In either case it is patent that there was widespread interest in Demeter cults in the Graeco-Roman world.
Quite apart from the question of related Demeter cults, however, there is an abundance of testimonia to prove the world-wide reputation of the Eleusinian rites themselves at the beginning of the common era. Crinagoras, the Greek epigrammatist of Mytilene, writing in the time of Augustus, advised his friend by all means to go to Athens and see the mysteries, even though he traveled nowhere else. If we may credit Philostratus, his hero Apollonius of Tyana, certainly one of the most famous and respected religionists of his day, applied in person for admission to the Eleusinian mysteries. “But the hierophant was not disposed to admit him to the rites, for he said he would never initiate a wizard and charlatan, nor open the Eleusinian Mysteries to a man who dabbled in impure rites.”
During the early imperial period some very famous non-Greeks showed their deep interest in the mysteries at Eleusis, among them the Emperor Augustus himself. Though normally not attracted by foreign religions, he was initiated at Eleusis in 21 B.C. Later, according to Suetonius, he gave signal proof of his reverence for the mysteries.
“He was hearing a case at Rome which involved the privileges of the priests of the Attic Ceres. When some of the mysteries of their sacred rites were to be introduced into the pleadings, he dismissed those who sat upon the bench with him as judges, as well as the bystanders, and heard the arguments upon these points himself.”
Seutonius also tells us that when Nero was in Greece, “he dared not attend the Eleusinian Mysteries at the initiation of which impious and wicked persons are warned by the voice of the herald from approaching the rites.” However, there were other emperors who like Augustus attained the goal which Nero failed to gain. Marcus Aurelius and Commodus were two of these illustrious mystae. The epitaph of an Eleusinian priestess mentions it as a matter of special pride that she set the crown upon their heads as they participated in the solemn rites. The fact that the first citizens of the Roman Empire sought membership in the Eleusinian cult is striking proof of its great influence.
Other significant testimony is given by the philosophers and moralists of this period. At the close of the pre-Christian era, Cicero declared it was his personal opinion that Athens had given nothing to the world more excellent or divine than the Eleusinian mysteries. At the beginning of the Christian centuries, the Stoic Epictetus spoke of the impressiveness of these mysteries in terms of genuine appreciation. Thus, at the beginning of our era, when Olympian Zeus had lost his ancient supremacy and Delphian Apollo, though reviving, was yet reduced in influence, Demeter of Eleusis still enjoyed a high reputation. The influence of her mysteries was literally world-wide during the early imperial period.
In order to understand the type of religious experience represented by this important cult, it is necessary clearly to keep in mind the main points of the Eleusinian myth which was developed to explain and justify the cult rites. These are stated with sufficient elaboration in the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, although this document does not give the myth in its fully developed form. According to the story, Persephone, daughter of Demeter, “giver of goodly crops,” was stolen by Pluto and carried off to the underworld to be his bride. This was done with the knowledge and tacit approval of Zeus himself. The mother, frenzied with grief, rushed about the earth for nine days, torch in hand, abstaining from eating and drinking, and searching wildly for her lost daughter. As she rested at the “maiden well of fragrant Eleusis” she was welcomed by the daughters of Celeus, who took her to their father’s house for refreshment. Here she finally broke her fast and dwelt for a time. ln her resentment against Zeus, she brought famine upon the fruitful earth so that no crops grew for men and no offerings were made to the gods. Finally, an arrangement was made with Pluto whereby Persephone was restored to her sorrowing mother. Since, however, the daughter had eaten a sweet pomegranate seed in the underworld she was forced to return there regularly for a portion of each year. Demeter, in her joy at the restoration of her lost daughter, allowed the crops to grow once more and instituted in honor of the event the Eleusinian mysteries which gave to mortals the assurance of a happy future life. Such was the myth which stood in the background of thought for one who participated in the Eleusinian rites.
The experiential basis for this story is quite clear. It was a nature myth, a vivid depiction of the action of life in the vegetable world with the changing of the seasons. Each year nature passed through the cycle of apparent death and resurrection. In winter vegetable life was dead while Demeter, the giver of life, grieved for the loss of her daughter. But with the coming of spring the life of nature revived again, for the sorrowing mother had received her daughter back with rejoicing. Through the summer the mother abundantly maintained the life of nature until autumn, when again her daughter returned to the underworld and earth became desolate once more. Thus year after year nature re-enacted the myth of Eleusis.
It was also a reflection of poignant human experiences, mirroring the joys, sorrows, and hopes of mankind in face of inevitable death. The three actors of the Eleusinian tragedy, the mater dolorosa as the protagonist, the maiden daughter is the deuteragonist, and the sinister figure of the ravisher as the mysterious third actor, these three enacted the mystery of human life and death. The god of death himself stole the beloved daughter away from the life-giver; but the divine mother would not give up her loved one, and in the end she accomplished her daughter’s resurrection. Here was human experience made heroic and divine; for man has ever loved and lost, but rarely has he ceased to hope for reunion with the loved one. The Eleusinian myth told of these fundamental human experiences as well as of the life of nature.
With this mythological background in mind the Eleusinian ritual should be examined, at least in its more important features, in order to define the variety of religious experience fostered by this cult. It was an elaborate ceremonial, extending over a long period of time. The classical analysis of the Eleusinian rite divided it into four distinct stages: the katharsis, or preliminary purification, the sustasis, or preparatory rites and sacrifices, the telete, i.e., the initiation proper, and the epopteia, or highest grade of initiation. Of these various stages the first two were public, and concerning them there is a large amount of information. But the last two were very strictly private and therefore they remain for us shrouded in mystery. Unfortunately, it is these very private ceremonials that are most important for the student who is interested in the personal religious experiences of paganism. The elaborate preliminary ceremonies do not concern us in detail except as a preparation for the all-important rites which followed.
More than six months before the “great mysteries” in September the “lesser mysteries” were celebrated at Agrae, a suburb of Athens, on the banks of the Illisus. Clement of Alexandria spoke of “the minor mysteries which have some foundation of instruction and of preliminary preparation for what is to come after.” This statement emphasizes what for our purpose was the most significant feature of the mysteries at Agrae–they were important as a prerequisite for the “great mysteries.”
On the thirteenth of September the “great mysteries” began and they lasted over a full week. Early in the festival there was a solemn assembly in the Stoa Poicile, the main item of which was a proclamation by the hierophant. This was not a sermon but rather a warning to depart, addressed to those who for one reason or another were disqualified or unworthy of initiation. As to the content of the formal warning, Libanius states that the “leaders of the mystae” proclaimed to those seeking initiation that they must be “pure in hand and soul and of Hellenic speech.” These terms are confirmed in part by a mathematician of the imperial period who compared his studies to the mysteries. “Not all who wish,” he said, “have a share in the Mysteries. But there are some who are forewarned to abstain; such as those whose hands are not clean and whose speech is unintelligible.” Celsus, as reported by Origen, gives two formulas of invitation, one altogether similar to those already cited and the other of a somewhat different character. He is quoted as follows:
“Those who invite people to other mysteries make proclamation thus: ‘Everyone who has clean hands and intelligible speech,’ others again thus: ‘He who is pure from all pollution, and whose soul is conscious of no evil and who has lived well and justly.’ Such is the proclamation made by those who promise purification from sins.”
These quotations from late pagan writers indicate that the Athenian proclamation included not only ritualistic requirements but elements of moral scrutiny as well. One may say that over the Eleusinian shrine as over the doorway of the Rhodian temple were inscribed the words “[Those can rightfully enter] who are pure and healthy in hand and heart and who have no evil conscience in themselves.”
On the day following the assembly came the cry, “To the sea, O Mystae!” and the candidates for initiation ran down to the sea, there to purify themselves in its salt waves–a lustration believed to be of greater virtue than that of fresh water. “Sea waves wash away ill sin,” said Euripides. The potent effect of the cleansing by salt water was further enhanced by sprinkling with pig’s blood. Each of the mystae carried with him a sucking pig which he purified by immersion in the waters of the sea. Later the pig was sacrificed and its blood sprinkled on the candidate. Tertullian, in speaking of this rite, declared, “At the Eleusinian mysteries men are baptized and they assume that the effect of this is their regeneration and the remission of the penalties due to their perjuries.” This striking affirmation by a Christian writer shows that the initiates themselves applied the new birth comparison to their own experiences in Eleusinian baptism. The rite was believed to be more than cathartic, merely. Regenerative powers were credited to it which operated to make the initiate in some sense a new being. It was with this rite particularly that the Eleusinian devotees associated the idea of personal transformation.
After the preliminary rites at Athens, the purified candidates formed in solemn procession on the nineteenth of September and marched to Eleusis, there to complete the celebration of the festival. Along the Sacred Way leading from Athens there were many holy places, and since the mystae performed ritualistic observances en route the company arrived at Eleusis by torchlight late in the evening. The long march was followed by a midnight revel under the stars, a ceremony that Aristophanes described in glowing terms. This was held on the Rharian plain, and it is not improbable that it partook of the nature of a mimetic ritual. Near the great propylaea of the sacred precinct was the Well of Callichoros, where the first choral dances were organized by the women of Eleusis in honor of Demeter. Close at hand was the Unsmiling Rock, where the desolate mother sat when she first came to Eleusis. Not far away were the meadows which had seen her torchlit wanderings. It would not be strange if the mystae beginning their choral dances at the Well of Callichoros, continuing their revel by torchlight in the meadows, or resting at the Unsmiling Rock–it would not be strange if they felt that they were really sharing in the antique experiences of their goddess. Certainly in their wearied state, weakened by fasting, they would be peculiarly susceptible to such mystical emotions.
Thus the mystae were prepared for the climactic feature of the celebration which took place in the telesterion, or Hall of Initiation. This sacred place was closed to all save the initiated, and the events which occurred there were strictly private and shrouded in the densest mystery. The initiates were under pledge of secrecy not to divulge the revelation there given. Apparently, Public opinion enforced this pledge in a very remarkable manner. Once when Aeschylus was acting in one of his own tragedies the audience became suspicious that he was betraying certain secrets of the Eleusinian mysteries. They arose in real fury and attacked the author-actor, who saved his life only by fleeing to the altar of Dionysus, a refuge that the Athenian mob respected. Later, however, Aeschylus was brought to trial before the Areopagus for revealing forbidden secrets and was acquitted quite as much because of his bravery at Marathon as because of his plea of ignorance. Alcibiades, on the eve of his departure for the Sicilian expedition, was charged with “impious mockery of the goddesses Demeter and Persephone” because he had “profanely acted the sacred mysteries at a drunken meeting.” Even such a garrulous historian as Herodotus, though he was “accurately acquainted with the sacred rites of Demeter” yet felt that he “must observe a discreet silence” concerning them. The secret of Eleusis was guarded all too well and as a result we know almost nil concerning the central rites of the mysteries of Demeter.
One of the incidents just mentioned, however, makes it clear that the heart of the Eleusinian ritual was in the nature of a religious drama. The accusation against Alcibiades very definitely specified actors in a mock pageant which he staged at his drunken revel. “Theodorus represented the herald, Polytion the torch-bearer, and Alcibiades the chief priest, while the rest of the party appeared is candidates for initiation and received the title of initiates.” This describes the situation in the telesterion at Eleusis on the night of initiation; the priests took the part of actors in a religious drama or pageant of which the initiates were the spectators. The archaeological remains of the Hall of Initiation at Eleusis bear out this theory. It was a great square hall around the four sides of which ran stone seats eight steps high, one above the other. Here the initiates sat and watched the spectacle staged in their midst.
Of what did the dramatic action in the telesterion consist? Only hints are given; yet these are sufficient to suggest what was probably the subject matter of the mystery play. Clement of Alexandria tells us that “Deo [Demeter] and Kore became [the personages of] a mystic drama, and Eleusis with its dadouchos celebrates the wandering, the abduction, and the sorrow.” Apparently the drama of the telesterion was a sort of passion play, the subject matter of which was essentially the same as that of the Homeric Hymn. It concerned the loss of the daughter, the sorrow of the mother, and the final return of the loved one from Hades. This view is further confirmed by the words which Apuleius puts into the mouth of Psyche when she appeals to Demeter “by the unspoken secrets of the mystic chests, the winged chariots of thy dragon ministers, the bridal descent of Proserpine, the torchlit wanderings to find thy daughter, and all the other mysteries which Attic Eleusis shrouds in secret.” From these two references it is evident that the important parts of the great myth of Demeter were enacted as a drama before the eyes of the mystae gathered in the telesterion.
Various writers, pagan is well as Christian, furnish additional evidence on this point and emphasize certain crises in the unfolding plot of the passion drama. Apollodorus, an Athenian historian and mythographer of the second century B.C., is quoted as saying, “The hierophant is in the habit of sounding the so-called gong when Kore calls for aid.” Undoubtedly this statement has reference to the Eleusinian ritual, as the mention of the hierophant proves. One can easily understand that the cry of Persephone marked a high point of interest in the course of the Eleusinian drama, and that it was accentuated by the sounding of a gong. The effect of this on the devotees can easily be imagined. It was an unexpected sound coming suddenly in the midst of a solemn ceremonial. It focused attention entirely and sharply on the immediate action. In emotional effect, it was probably not unlike the sounding of the gong during the celebration of mass. By this simple expedient, the abduction of Persephone was made a memorable part of the passion play of Eleusis.
The statement already quoted from the Alexandrian Clement concerning the actors in the Eleusinian drama makes specific reference to the grief of Demeter as constituting a part of the action. This reference is further confirmed by a quotation from a late pagan author, Proclus, who asserts, “The ceremonies of the mysteries in their secret part, transmit certain sacred lamentations of Kore, of Demeter, of the Great Goddess herself.” Thus again it becomes clear that the Eleusinian passion play was not merely a pantomime, reproducing the actions and gestures of the divine personages, but that it included vocal expression as well. By recitative or chant the actors who impersonated the goddesses gave expression to the emotions of the moment. The text suggests that these chants were traditional and were characterized by the fixity of form usual in ritual. Such being the case, the sorrow of Demeter which formed a distinct episode in the Eleusinian drama was further made impressive by traditional liturgical expression.
An important but very vague reference to the secret part of the Eleusinian mysteries is found in the Panegyric oration of Isocrates. “In her wanderings after the abduction of Persephone, Demeter came into our land. She wished to give testimony of her benevolence to our ancestors in recompense for the good offices of which initiates alone are permitted to hear.” What were these services with which only initiates into the Eleusinian mysteries were familiar and of which they could speak only among themselves? Obviously it could not be the welcome given to Demeter by the household of Celeus. That was known to the wide world through the Homeric Hymn. A Latin poet of the first century furnishes a possible explanation of this veiled reference in Isocrates. Addressing the goddess herself, Statius says:
“Tuque, Actaea Ceres, cursu cui semper anelo Votivam taciti quassamus lampada mystae.”
Here the Latin poet speaks as an initiate himself. He is contemplating a ceremony which is not a mere spectacle but a religious rite, shared in by the devotees. In solemn silence, torch in hand, they accompanied Demeter in her breathless wanderings. Just as the priestess personified the goddess, they temporarily represented the legendary inhabitants of Eleusis who not only welcomed the goddess but also assisted her in her search. These were probably the services of which Isocrates hinted with such reserve. In the wanderings of Demeter, then, the initiates actually participated by mimetic action. They did the very things which would enable them best to share emotionally in the profound experiences of their goddess.
A quotation from a fourth-century Christian writer, Lactantius, adds confirmatory evidence here and further suggests what was probably the closing scene of the Eleusinian drama. Referring specifically to the mysteries of Demeter, Lactantius says, “With burning torches Proserpina is sought, and when she is found, the rite is closed with general thanksgiving and a waving of torches.” The search was not in vain. The lost daughter was found and restored; and the initiates who had shared in the anxious wanderings of the mother now shared in her happiness at the recovery of her daughter. With joyous acclamation and the waving of torches the return of the lost daughter was hailed by the initiates. This scene of happiness, according to Lactantius, closed the drama of Eleusis.
Thus, notwithstanding the meagerness of information concerning the Eleusinian passion play, we can yet distinguish the main episodes of its action. The abduction of Persephone, the grief of her mother, the search for the lost daughter, and the reunion of the two goddesses–these were the principle scenes. The indecent actions suggested by a few Christian writers must be ruled out as vouched for only on the testimony of prejudiced and highly interested witnesses. On the other hand, the well-certified scenes, though so few in number, constitute the basis for a religious rite of impressive possibilities.
True, the actors in this passion play were few. But classical Greek tragedy at its best boasted of but three actors. And in the telesterion the protagonist was Demeter, the goddess of grain, and the deuteragonist was Persephone, the goddess of the underworld. Clad in gorgeous and traditional costumes the personages of the Eleusinian passion play must have been very impressive figures. Of scenic effect there was little or nothing. The architectural remains of the telesterion show no provision for anything like stage settings or machinery. There was not even a stage, and the properties were probably the simplest possible–torchlight and rich robes. Again the familiar effects of Greek drama may serve to account for this absence of properties. On the Greek stage all was simplicity and convention. Greek audiences, like the spectators of the Elizabethan drama, were trained to depend upon their imaginations to supply what was lacking in stage settings. So at Eleusis, the effectiveness of the passion play depended much upon the cultivated imaginations of the mystae. Moreover, by simple expedients the participation of the initiates in the action of the drama was brought about. They were not merely spectators of a pageant; they were participants in a ritual. The gong focused their attention upon the first great crisis of the drama, the abduction of the daughter. With torches they followed the mother in her frantic search and again with the waving of torches they expressed their joy at the return of her daughter. Thus, by participation in the dramatic action, as well as by active imagination, the mystae were enabled to share emotionally in the experiences of the great goddesses.
Does the plot centering around the abduction of Persephone and her restoration to her sorrowing mother mark the limits of the dramatic representation in the telesterion? Many students believe it does not. M. Foucart, for example, goes so far as to distinguish a second drama, enacted at Eleusis on the evening following the passion play just outlined. According to M. Foucart, the main features of this second mystery drama were a sacred marriage and the birth of a holy child.
The citations supporting this view are not numerous. A commentator on a passage in Plato’s Gorgias says, “The Mysteries are celebrated in honor of Demeter and Kore, because the latter was abducted by Pluto and because Zeus was united with Demeter.” This reference does suggest the possibility of two different Eleusinian dramas along the lines indicated. From the context, however, it is evident that the scholiast is drawing uncritically from Christian sources; hence the value of his testimony is not certain. Tertullian’s question, “Why is the priestess of Ceres ravished, unless Ceres herself suffered the same sort of thing?” is a passage of doubtful reference and interpretation that can scarcely be cited in proof of a sacred marriage at Eleusis. It is most reasonable to think that Tertullian in speaking thus merely confused Demeter and Persephone. As a subsidiary bit of evidence from a pagan source, it should be noted that Lucian had his false-prophet Alexander introduce a sacred marriage into his mysteries, which were modeled in part after the Eleusinian rites. However, the clearest passage in support of the sacred marriage idea is found in the writings of Asterius, a fourth-century Christian bishop. With unpleasant insinuation, he speaks of “the underground chamber and the solemn meeting of the hierophant and the priestess, each with the other alone, when the torches are extinguished, and the vast crowd believes that its salvation depends on what goes on there.”
If this passage may be taken as conclusive evidence of a sacred marriage in the Eleusinian telesterion, then it has a further significance that is noteworthy. It shows that the marriage was a representative act whereby the initiates entered into mystical communion with their deity. As such it would be a more or less realistic rite after the order of the marriage of the Basilinna at Athens with the god Dionysus, in which the city was united by proxy to the god. The point has this importance: if a sacred marriage was part of the Eleusinian ritual, then this rite assured the initiates of a more direct and immediate communion with the goddess than would otherwise be possible. Whether or not the testimony of Asterius is accepted, his insinuations deserve to be repudiated. There is no reason to assume that any part of the rites were indelicate or were regarded otherwise than with reverence by the initiates. We may be sure of this, that if there was a sacred marriage at Eleusis it was a solemn ceremonial, probably a liturgical fiction, and not an exhibition of licentiousness. Indeed, we have the positive statement of Hippolytus as to the scrupulous purity of the hierophant.
Closely connected with the question of a sacred marriage is that relative to a holy birth at Eleusis. Hippolytus, in the Naassenic sermon just cited, is almost the only authority for this episode. He says:
“The hierophant himself …. celebrating at Eleusis the great and ineffable mysteries beside a huge fire cries aloud and makes proclamation, saying: ‘August Brimo has brought forth a holy son, Brimos,’ that is, the strong has given birth to the strong. For august, he says, is the generation which is spiritual, or heavenly, or from above, and strong is that which is thus generated.”
Such a holy birth as this would normally follow the marriage rite just discussed. What lends exceptional interest to the rite is the idea suggested unclearly in a brief word study that follows. Quoting from “those initiated into the mysteries,” the name Eleusis is derived from eleusesthai (to come) “because we spiritual ones came on high.” This suggests that the holy birth of the Eleusinian drama, a birth “spiritual, heavenly, and from above” was viewed as typifying the new birth of the initiate which translated him from the earthly, human sphere to the heavenly, spiritual realm. On this interpretation the rite came to be viewed as a dramatic enactment of a spiritual rebirth experienced individually by the initiates themselves.
The possibility of such a two-act drama as this at Eleusis must certainly be allowed. With lights extinguished, the initiates may have waited in breathless silence for the consummation of a sacred marriage, believing that it involved their own direct communion with the goddess. Again in a blaze of light they may have welcomed the announcement of a holy birth, believing that their own rebirth as spiritual beings was involved in the process. If so, the rites of Eleusis held out to the whole body of initiates the possibility of immediate communion with deity and complete personal transformation guaranteed by appropriate rites. The mystical communion fostered by the problematic second drama at Eleusis was even more intimate and realistic than that cultivated by the passion play.
Distinct from the dramatic part of the initiation ceremony at Eleusis was the exhibition of sacred objects. This part of the service was at least of equal importance with the passion play. The title of the hierophant was “he who displays the sacred things,” and his exhibition of these objects was an act of the utmost solemnity. Only a part of them were, shown during the celebration at which the neophytes witnessed the mystic drama and attained the grade of mystae. Others were reserved for exhibition a year later at the epopteia, or final grade of initiation, when the mystae became epoptae. Thus the display of venerable objects marked the culmination of the “great mysteries” and, so far as we know, was the all-important feature of the final grade of initiation.
Just what the “sacred things” were is a question not clearly answered. It is but reasonable to suppose that they were the very objects which were solemnly escorted to Athens at the beginning of the festival and were later returned to Eleusis in the procession of the candidates on the nineteenth of September. In these processions they were treated with the highest honors and were carefully guarded from public view. Probably they included statues of the goddesses, images of great antiquity and sanctity. We know how the crude old wooden statues of the gods were venerated in other cults. Ordinarily their origin was a matter of marvel. At Athens, for example, the wooden image of Athena Polias, which was believed to have fallen from heaven during the reign of Cecrops, was inextricably bound up with the fortunes of the city. Tertullian speaks not only of a wooden statute of Athena but also of a like image of Demeter as well. Accordingly, we may infer that Eleusis had its wooden image of Demeter even as Athens had its xoanon of Athena Polias, and in all probability this was the most sacred of all the sacred objects at Eleusis. Quite certainly it was accompanied also by an image of Persephone. Within the sacred area at Eleusis, these statues were housed in the anactoron, or chapel, of Demeter which crowned the citadel. This was the holy of holies in the Eleusinian precinct and none but the hierophant might enter here. An Epicurean who had the hardihood to violate the shrine perished miserably as a result of his impiety. In this anactoron the sacred objects were carefully guarded from profanation until the time came for their exhibition.
The display of the hiera was contrived in a most impressive manner. When the door of the shrine was opened the hierophant, clad in his festival robes, came out into the full blaze of a bright light and revealed the sacred objects to the gaze of the initiates. It was an awesome spectacle. The hierophant in his priestly vestments was himself an impressive figure. Eleusinian inscriptions also suggest how effective was the lighting of this scene. One of them speaks of the “holy night, clearer than the light of the sun.” Another one, a metrical inscription engraved on the base of the statue of a hierophant, exclaims: “O mystae, formerly you saw me coming from the shrine and appearing in the luminous nights.” Being in an impressionable state of mind, the mystae must have felt themselves very near to divinity when objects so jealously guarded and of such sanctity were finally exposed to view. The emotional effect of the exhibition is well suggested by a passage from Plutarch. In discussing “Progress in Virtue,” he used a figure of speech derived from the initiation ceremony of these mysteries. According to Plutarch, “He who once enters into philosophy and sees the great light, as when shrines are open to view, is silent and awestruck.” This passage probably well describes the impression made by the spectacle at Eleusis on a company of initiates.
Of the epopteia attained a year after the telete, our knowledge is most scanty. Apparently it was in the nature of a further revelation of sacred tokens. But a single rite is known to us and this only on the authority of Hippolytus. With a fine show of sarcasm he speaks of “the Athenians initiating people at Eleusis and showing to the epoptae that great and marvellous mystery of perfect revelation, in solemn silence, a cut cornstock!” There are two points of emphasis in this passage: first, that the exhibition of a corn token formed a part of the Eleusinian mystery, and, second, that this exhibition was reserved for the epoptae. On these two points there can be little doubt. Indeed, considering the agricultural background of the Eleusinian festival, it is not only credible, but even probable that a corn token should be among the most sacred things of the Eleusinia. The solemnity of this final exhibition is emphasized by the phrase “in silence.” In this case the display took place without a word of elucidation from the hierophant, whereas the year before the spectacle had been accompanied with an explanatory discourse throughout. As to the meaning of this silent exhibition, we are left entirely to conjecture. It is not unreasonable to suppose that the corn was regarded as the symbol of a birth and rebirth in man paralleling the vernal rebirth of nature. This, at least, is the explanation suggested by Farnell. To the gentile mind of the first century, however, it was not merely a matter of symbolism, but rather a conviction arising “in accordance with the naive and primitive belief in the unity of man’s life with the vegetative world.” In this final exhibition, therefore, the initiate would find a proof as well as an illustration of a personal rebirth like that of the grain in springtime. The emotional effect of this rite was probably not unlike that of the hieratic spectacle a year previous. But the conviction arising from it would be rather the assurance of individual rebirth to new life, instead of communion with deity.
The revelation in silence at the epopteia serves to throw into relief a third distinctive element of the Eleusinian mysteries, the discourse or verbal explanation which accompanied the ceremonial. A quaint rhetorical fragment preserved under the name of Sopatros suggests the importance of this discourse. It recounts the dream of a young man who saw the spectacle of the mysteries. Because he did not hear the words of the hierophant, however, he could not consider himself initiated. Without the priestly discourse, then, the initiation was incomplete.
It is difficult to determine precisely what the content of the discourse was. The references at hand concerning these utterances, however, make it clear that it was not,in isolated speech but rather a running commentary which served to expIain to the mystae the meaning of the tableaux and the significance of the sacred objects. In all probability the formulas used were liturgical in character, though some freedom of utterance may have been allowed the hierophant. In the course of the explanation, he probably descanted on the blessings assured by the initiation ceremonies, and he may have included moral exhortation as well. About all that can be said, therefore, concerning the sacred discourse is that it was an oral interpretation of the Eleusinian ceremonial intended to give to tableau and drama and exhibition their full meaning.
Having canvassed the drama, the spectacle, and the discourse, have we exhausted the significant elements in the Eleusinian ceremonial? Clement of Alexandria has preserved a formula that suggests the possibility of a different type of ritualistic observance. His statement is, “The password of the Eleusinian Mysteries is as follows: ‘I have fasted, I have drunk the barley drink, I have taken things from the sacred chest, having tasted thereof I have placed them into the basket and again from the basket into the chest.'” There is no reason for doubting the genuineness of this password. The meaning of the first two elements in the process is fairly clear. The fasting of the mystae corresponded to that of the sorrowing goddess Demeter who “sat smileless, nor tasted meat nor drink, wasting with long desire for her deep-bosomed daughter.” Likewise the drinking of the barley drink corresponded to the breaking of her fast; for the goddess had refused a cup of sweet wine, “but she had them mix meal and water with the tender herb of mint, and give it to her to drink.” This mixed potion the goddess accepted. Accordingly, in drinking a similar potation the mystae shared the cup from which the great goddess drank in her sorrow. It was a direct and sympathetic participation in the experiences of the goddess, an action expressive of attained fellowship with the deity.
Just what the eating of food from the chest meant to the participant is less obvious. Like the drinking of the barley drink, it was probably a sacrament of communion, and it may have implied an even more realistic communion than was involved in the act of drinking. If, as is most likely, the sacred food consisted of cereals, then the assimilation of this food meant a direct and realistic union with Demeter, the goddess of grain. It meant an incorporation of divine substance into the human body. However the idea was arrived at, this rite clearly involved a mystical communion by the act of eating, even as the barley drink stood for mystical fellowship through the act of drinking. Already emotionally united with Demeter through participation in her passion, the initiates now became realistically one with her by the assimilation of food and drink.
It is further important to note the effects, both imediate and ultimate, of this elaborate ceremonial upon the lives of the devotees. According to Aristotle, the mysteries did not teach rules of conduct but rather stimulated the emotions. “Aristotle is of the opinion,” Synesitis affirms, “that the initiated learned nothing precisely, but that they received impressions and were put into a certain frame of mind. To use the Aristotelian formula, not mathein (to learn) but pathein (to suffer) was the reason for participation in the Eleusinian ritual; and in its immediate aspect this was exactly the effect of the celebration.
This stimulation of emotion is so frequently mentioned in Eleusinian sources that there is little danger of exaggeration at this point. Plutarch drew several striking comparisons illustrating the emotional effect of the rites of Eleusis. In his treatise on “Progress in Virtue” he compared the effect of initiation on a confused and jostling crowd of candidates to the influence of philosophy on a noisy and talkative group of students.
“Those who are initiated, come together at first with confusion and noise, and jostle one another, but when the mysteries are being performed and exhibited, they give their attention with awe and silence….. So also at the commencement of philosophy…. you will see round its doors such confusion and assurance and prating, some rudely and violently jostling their way to reputation; but he who once enters in assumes another air and is silent and awestruck, and in humility and decorum follows reason as if she were a god.”
Plutarch used yet other striking similes to illustrate more specifically the emotional effect of participation in the mysteries. The joy of the initiated, he affirmed, was like that of the ostracized returning to their native land after banishment. Again he took advantage of the mingled trouble and apprehension, the peculiar hope and final joy of the initiated to describe the feelings of the soul at death. According to Plutarch:
When a man dies,he is like those who are being initiated into the mysteries. The one expression teleutan the other teleisthai correspond….. Our whole life is but a succession of wanderings, of painful courses, of long journeys by tortuous ways without outlet. At the moment of quitting it, fears, terrors, quiverings, mortal sweats, and a lethargic stupor, come over us and overwhelm us; but as soon as we are out of it pure spots and meadows receive us, with voices and dances and the solemnities of sacred words and holy sights. It is there that man, having become perfect and initiated–restored to liberty, really master of himself–celebrates crowned with myrtle the most august mysteries, and holds converse with just and pure souls.
With all this evidence it cannot be doubted that the extended ceremonial of the Eleusinia had a profound effect in stirring deeply the feelings of the mystae. They experienced the whole gamut of emotions from doubt and fear to hope and joy.
Furthermore, the Eleusinian rites were so ordered as to enable the worshiper to enact the legendarv experiences of his goddess, and feel as she had felt of old. There was, first of all, the careful mental and physical preparation, the purification of body, and the disposition of mind, which Epictetus stressed, without which, he said, the mysteries could bring no benefit. It was a long preparation beginning at Agrae six months before the initiation proper. At the opening of the greater mysteries the candidates prepared themselves for approach to divinity by fasting and lustrations. They marched in solemn procession along the Sacred Way from Athens to Eleusis, stopping at holy places redolent with memories of their goddess. After all these preliminaries, they were impressionable and psychologically prepared to share intensely in the emotional experiences of the Great Goddess. When in the passion play of the telesterion they witnessed the abduction of Persephone they were sensitive to the grief of the mother. They assisted her in her frenzied search for her lost daughter, and at the reunion of the goddesses they participated in the joy of the occasion. Like Demeter herself they broke their fast by drinking of the barley drink. As completely as possible the devotees of Demeter reproduced her experiences, shared her feelings, and thereby established a sense of mystical fellowship with their goddess. This was the great experience of their religion.
It was not, however, a mere matter of temporary emotional satisfaction to the initiates; for the rites of Eleusis gave positive assurance for the future as well. The mystical communion established by initiation was a lasting one. Sharing in the other experiences of the goddess, the mystae believed they would share also in her triumph over death. According to Farnell, it was their sense of present fellowship that led directly to this conviction concerning the future.
“These deities, the mother and the daughter and the dark god in the background, were the powers that governed the world beyond the grave: those who had won their friendship by initiation in this life would by the simple logic of faith regard themselves as certain to win blessing at their hands in the next. And this, as far as we can discern, was the ground on which flourished the Eleusinian hope.”
Nothing is clearer than that the devotees of Demeter enjoyed the anticipation of a happy future life. It was not merely the vague promise of a future existence, it was the definite assurance of a blissful future that the mysteries of Eleusis offered to seekers for salvation. In classical antiquity this Eleusinian assurance was generally known and appreciated. The Homeric Hymn declared, “Happy is he among deathly men who has seen these things! But he who is uninitiated, and has no lot in them, will never have equal lot in death beneath the murky gloom.” Pindar and Sophocles re-echoed the same thought. “Thrice happy they who go to the world below, having seen these mysteries; to them alone is life there, to all others is misery.” Among the orators, Isocrates declared, “Those who share this initiation have sweet hopes for the end of life and for all future time.” Plato also gave recognition to this conviction when he said that the mysteries taught enigmatically “that he who passes unsanctified and uninitiated into the world below will lie in a slough, but he who arrives there after initiation and purification will dwell with the gods.” At the beginning of the Christian era, this was still the strong hope that the mysteries of Eleusis guaranteed. Cicero said of them, “In the mysteries we learn not only to live happily but to die with fairer hope.” Thus, the mythical experiences of the Eleusinian goddesses in breaking the power of death became the basis for a definite assurance of a happy life beyond the grave. Precisely what the relationship was between the mythological experiences of the Great Goddess and the hopes of her devotees is, indeed, unclear, but that the relationship existed is certain and that the mysteries gave prized assurance of immortality is indubitable.
Not only did the experience of initiation result in a temporary emotional exaltation and a lasting guaranty of future bliss, but it eventuated also in a purification and elevation of the present life of men as well. It is true that the Eleusinian mysteries were criticized at exactly this point. Diogenes of Sinope, for example, sarcastically declared, “It will be an absurd thing if Aegesilaus and Epaminondas are to live in the mire and some miserable wretches who have been initiated are to be in the island of the blest.” Undoubtedly there was reason enough for his criticism. Nevertheless, the general testimony of the ancients was on the other side of the case. Andocides, on trial for impiety before a jury of mystae, assumed that those who had been initiated would be more ready to punish the impious and save the righteous than others would be, and that sin was the more heinous in one who was consecrated to the service of the mother and daughter. At the close of one of his beautiful odes, Aristophanes had the happy initiated sing, “To us alone is there joyous light after death, who have been initiated and who lived in pious fashion as touching our duty to strangers and private people.” Cicero stated as his conviction that in the mysteries we perceive the real principles of life. Even such a stern moralist as Epictetus encouraged reverence for the mysteries, recognized their benefits, and asserted that they were established by those of old for our education and the amendment of life.” In face of such an imposing array of evidence, the modern student cannot avoid the conclusion that the Eleusinian mysteries did exert an elevating influence on the moral life.
Here again, the precise relationship between the Eleusinian ritual and its moral effect is exceedingly unclear. We do not know what was the basis for the Eleusinian ethic. There may have been no exhortation to the mystae to lead pure and good lives. Indeed, the immediate and conscious aim of the rites may not have been an ethical one at all. Nevertheless, it is undeniable that the mysteries of Demeter did exercise a salutary influence in the matter of practical living. Not only a temporary stimulation of the emotions, not only a positive guaranty of future happiness, but also a lasting elevation of moral standards was a result of initiation into the mysteries at Eleusis.
For the devotees of Demeter initiation into her cult marked the beginning of a new kind of life more divine than they had known before. It was virtually for them the experience of a new birth. True, the exact word palingenesia does not occur on any of the Eleusinian monuments, but Tertullian attests that the mystae applied this very figure of speech to their initiation experiences and to baptism especially. Tertullian himself did not question the applicability of the term, though as a Christian he naturally insisted on the superior validity of the Christian rite and experience. He argued thus:
“If the mere nature of water, in that it is the appropriate material for washing away, leads men to flatter themselves with a belief in the omens of purification, how much more truly will waters render that service through the authority of God, by whom all their matter has been constituted.”
In other words, Christian baptism according to Tertullian was a potent agency for spiritual regeneration, while Eleusinian baptism was not, though the Christian lawyer admitted that pagan religionists claimed regenerative power for their rite.
In the Eleusinian ritual itself there was much besides baptism to suggest and realistically induce a new birth experience. The mythical background of Eleusinian thought distinctly picturized the recurrent revival of life in nature with each successive year. It represented this fact of common experience in the mythological terms of a goddess who was carried off to Hades but later returned to the upper air. The lesser mysteries, celebrated at Agrae in the springtime, were probably especially suggestive of this renewal of life in nature. The ritual of purification and the long period of fasting preliminary to the great mysteries were intended to wash away the stains of the old life so that the purified candidates might approach the two goddesses prepared for personal renewal. If a ritual marriage formed a part of the mysteries, then the initiates realized a real unio mystica with the divine, in itself a completely transforming process. If the sacred marriage was followed by a holy birth, then the idea of anew life “spiritual, heavenly, and from above,” was further accentuated. With the exhibition of sacred relics the initiates were brought very close to things divine, and the most sacred of these objects, the corn token, was itself a symbol of regeneration. Furthermore, in a realistic sacrament of eating and drinking, the neophytes assimilated food charged with such divine potency that it could transmute human nature into immortal essence. Thus, by realistic union as well as by sympathetic communion, the individual neophyte came to realize a new life by means of initiation.
The type of life which was thus induced by the Eleusinian ritual has been sufficiently characterized. From a purely descriptive standpoint the new birth experience of Eleusis was temporarily a matter of the feelings–the arousal of deep emotions by participation in an ancient and well-ordered ritual. But it resulted in more than a temporary satisfaction of the emotions merely. It eventuated in an amended moral life and the ultimate assurance of future happiness. These were the permanent effects of Eleusinian regeneration.
~~~~~~ Mother Destruction – Babalon Sun Mantra
~~~~~~ Ericapaeus, celebrated pow’r,
Ineffable, occult, all-shining flow’r.
‘Tis thine from darksome mists to purge the sight,
All-spreading splendor, pure and holy light;
Hence, Phanes, call’d the glory of the sky,
On waving pinions thro’ the world you fly.
Priapus, dark-ey’d splendor, thee I sing,
Genial, all-prudent, ever blessed king.
With joyful aspect on these rites divine
And holy Telite propitious shine.
(Taylor Mystical Hymns of Orpheus ) (Henryk Siemiradzki – Phryne on the Poseidon’s celebration in Eleusis)
Beautiful days here in Portland. Catching up with art, packing and getting ready to move. Very, very busy times.
The Tao is an empty vessel; it is used, but never filled.
Oh, unfathomable source of ten thousand things!
Blunt the sharpness,
Untangle the knot,
Soften the glare,
Merge with dust.
Oh, hidden deep but ever present!
I do not know from whence it comes.
It is the forefather of the gods.
~~ On The Menu:
Equations Of Power – Dale Pendell
Lamb – Build A Fire
The Science Delusion – A talk with Rupert Sheldrake
Lamb – Górecki
Dao De Ching Lao Tse
Equations Of Power – Dale Pendell
Science arose from poetry… when times change the two can meet again on a higher level as friends.
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Perhaps a moment of that has appeared with the publication of Dale Pendell’s “Equations Of Power”. The Truth contained within Science and the Truth contained within the Poetic Realms do at times coincide. Yet, science and poetry can (and do) stand as separate pillars that hold up the roof of the greater temple of an all encompassing vision and experience of truth.
Dale ventures into this territory with this new volume of verse. The poems ebb and flow across the shared territories of the disciplines:
“Shells and horns,
galaxies and fractals,
roaring through time:
Catches and snares your attention across vast expanses, and pulls you back:
the awful shadow of some unseen power
(The Chambered Nautilus)
time and again.
The poems open up, and swallow your consciousness as they dance at the bidding of the powers of myth and equation, and bring you back again.
I admit that I had to reference, and search out some of the terms, it has been quite awhile since I studied the sciences, so I had to refresh the memory (and discover new wonders as well). Being more of a myth based person it took me a bit to follow some of the breadcrumbs, but soon I was up to speed. Dale shows the adept hand of a wordsmith at the peak of his powers. The poems cover wide territories, and some that are quite familiar at least to me:
Having a nightmare, I
must’ve been moaning
or whimpering, my cat
woke me up by
licking my arm, realized
that I did the same
for her, just, not
using my tongue.
Do lizards dream?
think I heard that but
it’s hard to tell
A blue-bellied fence swift
closes its eyes
on a rock
in the sun.
It is not a large volume, (11 poems in all) but it is wide ranging. I have several favourites amongst them, “Nautilus” of course, but the very fine “Serpentine” having walked the same hills, evokes nicely. You can go back and forth within the boundaries of the covers of “Equations of Power” skipping between verse and poem, but you will not be bound by those limitations. You will be pleasantly surprised at where “Equations” will take you. If of the scientific bent, you might start seeing phenomena in couplets and perhaps rhyme, and if of the poetic school, you might see reality as formula, wave, and again and again, at least for me, Light.
Dale’s ease of verse makes it seem easy, but what is occurring is something that runs deeper, and wilder. The poet is casting jewels of wonder in the proverbial fields of the Nephilim, jewels that reflect the terrible beauty and power that reside within the scientific realm, and within the mythic realms of poesy. Terrible (as in the original meaning of the word) revelations are made visible here, pulsing, rhythmic and evocative. Poems indeed for a new time. Read with delight.
So, it is indeed: Recommended. If you enjoyed Dale’s “Walking With Nobby: Conversations with Norman O. Brown”, you will certainly enjoy “Equations of Power”
Here is a link to order a copy: (I know, Amazon. I did indeed look elsewhere!) Equations of Power
~~ I find such joy in this poem. I think you may as well!
Schrödinger’s Wave Equation
Long lines of the south swell
bend around the point – a seeming preference
for odd integers, waves reflecting
off the jetty in peaks and valleys;
a bat ray, below, undulating-
crack of whip,
stop and go on I-5
(or like that remipede
from the lower Pennsylvanian
with a low Reynold’s Number)
It flashes from birds in flocks,
or a storm front
moving through the trees
across the canyon.
Erwin Schrödinger spent the night
in adulterous fornication
with his mistress.
By morning he was thinking
about waves, in a classical way:
a weight hung from a spring,
or a pulse sinuously traveling
along a rope, or the plucked string of a guitar-
these phenomena all dynamically described
by a second order partial differential equation
relating the rate of change of the rate of change
to the rate of change of the rate of change
Wave being wife, or,
on that night, close enough,
the good physicist assumed
that the energy of the whole ménage
was conserved – that a push here
created an equal and opposite
pull there. He added in
a couple of “pi’s,”
and that troubling granularity
de Broglie had picked up from Planck,
all with enough intuitive genius
to hold the entire state
simultaneously continuous and dicrete,
a particle and a wave,
an arrow of potential in a space of infinite dimensions,
his vector by itself
seemed to provide
the probability of existence,
as if waves of mind
and waves of world
in some orgasmic way,
(in a few simple cases)
by an act of sentience.
~~ “Beauty is a manifestation of secret natural laws, which otherwise would have been hidden from us forever.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
~~~~~~ Lamb – Build A Fire
~~~~~~ The valley spirit never dies;
It is the woman, primal mother.
Her gateway is the root of heaven and Earth.
It is like a veil barely seen.
Use it; it will never fail.
~~~~~~ The Science Delusion Steve Marshall talks to Rupert Sheldrake about dogma and delusion in contemporary science
By Steve Marshall
Millions of people around the world claim personal experience of unexplained phenomena, which can be as simple as ‘knowing’ who is calling them when the telephone rings. Mainstream science can provide no explanation for this, other than dismissing it as mere delusion. Rupert Sheldrake, after many years of investigating telepathy, the unexplained powers of animals and human precognition, believes that he can. Sheldrake claims that his theory of ‘morphic resonance’ not only explains these widespread phenomena, it also shows how simple organic forms can self-organise into more complex ones, as an addition to Darwin’s process of Natural Selection. According to Sheldrake:
“The formation of habits depends on a process called morphic resonance. Similar patterns of activity resonate across space and time with subsequent patterns. This hypothesis applies to all self-organising systems, including atoms, molecules, crystals, cells, plants, animals and animal societies. All draw upon a collective memory and in turn contribute to it. A growing crystal of copper sulphate, for example, is in resonance with countless previous crystals of copper sulphate, and follows the same habits of crystal organisation, the same lattice structure. A growing oak seedling follows the habits of growth and development of previous oaks. When an orb-web spider starts spinning its web, it follows the habits of countless ancestors, resonating across space and time. The more people who learn a new skill, such as snowboarding, the easier will it be for others to learn it because of morphic resonance from previous snowboarders.”
There is far more to morphic resonance than this, but I’m not the one to explain, as I have to admit I don’t understand all of its many aspects. Sheldrake believes that memories are not stored in the brain but somewhere outside of it; the brain recalls them not as a hard drive does, by playing back physically-stored electrical signals, but more like a television that tunes into transmitted signals and decodes them as memories. It does this by morphic resonance. Here, there are strong similarities with Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious and archetypes. Jung’s ideas were accepted (if rather half-heartedly) by many scientists of his day; although Sheldrake does get support from some of his peers, it tends to come privately. His explorations into the liminal areas of science are particularly unpopular with dogmatic sceptics, who regard the work as ‘pseudoscience’ and “outside the scope of scientific experiment’.
But Sheldrake, to the chagrin of his detractors, is not just another amateur crackpot but a bona fide scientist – a Cambridge-trained biochemist with a double-first-class honours degree and a doctorate. Before developing his current interest in parapsychology, he led more conventional research programmes and made important discoveries in plant physiology. Criticism of Sheldrake’s work makes fascinating reading, as it reveals so much about his critics. There is a good deal of professional jealousy and resentment that Sheldrake’s research continues to be funded by Cambridge University, and sour grapes because he sells a lot of books. Most commonly, his theories and findings are dismissed because they do not conform to accepted scientific dogma; this has made him a particular target of the materialists. Frequent, vitriolic attacks are not directed just at Sheldrake’s work either; in 2008, he was stabbed in the leg by a Japanese madman who had followed him to the USA, believing that Sheldrake was using mind-control techniques on him (FT236:5).
Sheldrake has borne all of this with uncommon grace and good humour; however, he retaliates with his latest book The Science Delusion, an elegant counter-attack on scientific materialism. As attacks go, it is rather polite and gentlemanly, but effective.
Just before publication, I spoke to Sheldrake about the ideas in the book and his motives for writing it. First, the title, which appears to be a direct swipe at Richard Dawkins. Did Dawkins really inspire this response?
“No,” admits Sheldrake, “the title was at the insistence of my publishers, and the book will be re-titled in the USA as Science Set Free. Dawkins is far less important outside Britain. Actually, he’s not really very important here either – it’s just that the British media find him a convenient figurehead for the tide of evangelical atheism we’ve seen in recent years. Dawkins is a passion-ate believer in materialist dogma, but the book is not a response to him – although I do object to his dumbed-down representation of science.
“I’ve actually been thinking about the ideas in this book for many years, perhaps 30 or 40. Certainly, since I was an undergraduate and realised that something had gone horribly wrong with science. There was no point in dealing with the problem piecemeal: it was essential to look at the whole picture. There were so many assumptions in place and I wanted to open things up, which is what I’ve done by turning the issues into questions.”
The Science Delusion begins by laying out the 10 dogmata of modern science:
Everything is essentially mechanical. Dogs, for example, are complex mechanisms, rather than living organisms with goals of their own. Even people are machines, “lumbering robots”, in Richard Dawkins’s vivid phrase, with brains that are like genetically programmed computers.
All matter is unconscious. It has no inner life or subjectivity or point of view. Even human consciousness is an illusion produced by the material activity of brains.
The total amount of matter and energy is always the same (with the exception of the Big Bang, when all the matter and energy of the Universe suddenly appeared).
The laws of nature are fixed. They are the same today as they were at the beginning, and they will stay the same forever.
Nature is purposeless, and evolution has no goal or direction.
All biological inheritance is material, carried in the genetic material, DNA, and in other material structures.
Minds are inside heads and are nothing but the activities of brains. When you look at a tree, the image of the tree you are seeing is not ‘out there’, where it seems to be, but inside your brain.
Memories are stored as material traces in brains and are wiped out at death.
Unexplained phenomena like telepathy are illusory.
Mechanistic medicine is the only kind that really works.
Each of these is allotted a chapter in the form of a question, and a short list of further related questions addressed directly to materialists. Some are very funny, highlighting the inherent and often silly contradictions in so much accepted dogma. Is Nature Mechanical?, for example, points out that the mechanistic theory was intended to be a metaphor but has come to be taken literally. Living organisms are not automata, a fact that is patently obvious to any cat or dog owner; few readers would regard themselves as a genetically programmed machine in a mechanical Universe. As Sheldrake puts it: “Most of us feel we are truly alive in a living world – at least at weekends.” Two of his questions to materialists are: “Do you think that you yourself are nothing but a complex machine?” and “Have you been programmed to believe in materialism?”
Sheldrake questions many of science’s basic ‘truths’, which are revealed, with splendid irony, to be either assumptions or, heaven forbid, beliefs. That the Universe began with a Big Bang has been orthodoxy since the 1960s, but it is actually a theory, and one that raises as many questions as it provides answers. Sheldrake does not dispute the theory but compares it to religious creation myths, all of which begin with an initial act of creation by God; the Big Bang theory is different only in that God has been removed from the story. One of the basic tenets of physics is the law of conservation of matter and energy, which asserts that neither can be created or destroyed: the amount of matter and energy in the Universe is always the same. Except of course, in the primal singularity of the Big Bang, when the Universe appeared from nothing, violating all of science’s laws. Sheldrake quotes Terence McKenna: “It’s almost as if science said, ‘Give me one free miracle, and from there the entire thing will proceed with a seamless, causal explanation.’”
Most physicists believe that only about four per cent of the mass and energy in the Universe is conventional; the remaining 96 per cent is made up of ‘dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’, about which nothing is known. Gravitation should be slowing down the expansion of the Universe, but observations made in the mid-1990s showed that it is actually speeding up. The continued expansion of the Universe is now believed to be driven by dark energy, which is reckoned to account for 73 per cent of the Universe’s total mass-energy. In the current model, the amount of dark energy may be increasing, counteracting the gravitational pull that should make the Universe contract, driving its expansion in an apparently continuous process of creation. This should not be possible, but the conservation laws apply only to the four per cent of ‘standard’ matter and energy, not necessarily to the mysterious remaining 96 per cent. In the light of modern cosmology, asks Sheldrake, how can anyone possibly be sure that the total amount of matter and energy has always been the same?
The reliability of another of science’s ‘constants’ is also doubtful: the speed of light may not be as constant as we have been led to believe. “When I investigated this some years ago,” Sheldrake tells me, “I came to realise that although the speed of light is assumed to be constant and precisely known, there is evidence to suggest otherwise. The speed of light is measured regularly, in university laboratories all around the world, and each comes up with slightly different results. The final figure is arrived at by a committee of expert metrologists who average the ‘best’ results and arrive at a consensus. But this is not based on all the results they are supplied with; some are discarded, either because they differ too much from what is expected or because their source is not considered totally reliable.”
Measurement of the speed of light began in the early 20th century. Initially, there were considerable variations, but by 1927 the experts had agreed on an “entirely satisfactory” speed of 299,796km (186,300 miles) per second. The following year, this mysteriously dropped by around 20km (12 miles) per second. The new speed was recorded all around the world, with the ‘best’ values closely matching. This lower speed remained constant from about 1928 to 1945, then in the late 1940s it went back up again. It was suggested by some scientists that this might indicate cyclical variations in the speed of light.
“Now we may never know,” Sheldrake laments, “because the problem was eventually solved by locking the speed of light into a closed loop. The metre is now defined by the speed of light – which is defined in metres. So if the speed of light really does vary in the future, the metre will vary with it, and we shall have no way of telling! I took this up,” he goes on, “with some of the experts. I visited one – he actually had a sign on his door saying Chief Metrologist. When I inquired about the 1928 to 1945 variation he muttered, ‘Oh you know about that, do you?’ He admitted it was a little embarrassing that so many respected scientists had made faulty measurements during that period…
“‘But this is interesting!’ I said. ‘What if there really were variations? Shouldn’t it be investigated?’ He looked at me aghast. ‘Whatever for? The speed of light is a constant!’ The Universal Gravitational Constant also varies,” adds Sheldrake, “but they’re a bit more open about that.”
The constancy of the speed of light is regarded as sacrosanct among physicists. When alleged ‘faster than light’ neutrinos made world news last summer, the celebrated Professor Brian Cox explained the issue in layman’s terms for BBC radio. Adamant that the speed of light is a “universal speed limit” that can never be exceeded, he came up with a neat analogy. If an aeroplane were to travel from London to Australia at this absolute maximum speed, there would be no way of making the journey any faster. Apart from, he added, digging a tunnel through the Earth and taking a shortcut. So you see, declared Cox cheerfully, the neutrinos are not necessarily travelling any faster than light – they may be simply taking a shortcut through another dimension! To a non-physicist, it seems surprising that experts find it easier to accept a universe of multiple dimensions (which is possible, but only theoretical) than to question scientific dogma.
Are memories stored as material traces in the brain? Sheldrake is not alone in concluding that they are not. Since the 1890s, a vast amount of research time and money has been spent on this fascinating question and still no traces have been found. Typically, laboratory animals are taught to perform some task, then parts of their brains are surgically removed; later, they can still remember what they have been taught, despite in some cases having hardly any brain left at all. The animals presumably also learn to distrust humans wearing white coats. Sheldrake explores the evidence in great detail and puts a very convincing case. One of his arguments against physically-stored memory is that: “Memories can persist for decades, yet the nervous system is dynamic, continually changing, and so are the molecules within it.” So how could memory be stored in the brain so that it is not lost by molecular turnover? Sheldrake cites recent experiments in which cater-pillars were taught to avoid a stimulus. After undergoing two larval moults and metamorphosis within the pupæ, the resultant moths still remembered what they had learned as caterpillars.
Sheldrake maintains that memories are stored somewhere outside of the brain and retrieved by morphic resonance. So could these memories – and perhaps ideas – be accessed by others? I once met the late Bob Moog at a Theremin convention and thanked the Great Man for inventing voltage-controlled synthesisers. To my surprise, he looked slightly embarrassed and shrugged: “Oh, it was no big deal, just an idea that was going around at that time – it was in the air. Lots of other people must have had the same idea, but I was just lucky that I was able to do something with it.” Most creative people have experienced the zeitgeist at some time or other; had Sheldrake, I inquired, ever known any materialist scientists to complain of falling victim to it?
“No,” he laughs. “But I’m probably the last person they’d tell about it anyway! It has happened many times in science though: Newton and Leibniz, for instance, both simultaneously invented Calculus. On the 75th anniversary of Vogue magazine, I was invited to a symposium at Vogue House to talk on morphic resonance and the zeitgeist. There were many people from the fashion world designers, retailers and so on, and some from finance and the stock market. All were convinced there is a zeitgeist and that they had experienced it. Some had suspected they had spies working inside their company, passing ideas onto their rivals! But it’s people accessing a collective memory. I haven’t dealt with creativity at all in this book, but I believe creative people may be tapping into something beyond space and time.
“When I was writing A New Science of Life, I was very aware that others must be working on the same idea, so I’d better get on with it. And sure enough, there were two or three. One of them, Nicholas Greaves, was not a scientist but an estate agent; he just had this idea come into his head and felt he must express it. His version is called ‘Duplication Theory’. We met, and found that both of us had ideas that were very similar.”
In The Science Delusion, Sheldrake reminds us that scientists are, above all else, human, with all the short-comings and foibles of other mere mortals: “They compete for funding and prestige, constrained by peer-group pressures and hemmed in by prejudices and taboos.” This image runs directly counter to that actively promoted by scientists in recent history – one of a totally impartial, dispassionate elite, who can be uniquely relied upon to reveal the exact truth. Sheldrake quotes Ricky Gervais, who naïvely claims that: “Science is humble… It doesn’t get offended when new facts come along.” This popular view of science is aired regularly in the media by other high-profile celebrities. Stephen Fry (“The stupid person’s clever person”) is an enthusiastic devotee of Richard Dawkins, whose supporters, incidentally, include a surprising number of comedians.
Since the Enlightenment of the 18th century, the world of science has professed to operate in “an open-minded spirit of enquiry” but this is rarely true in practice; any modern research programme is under a good deal of pressure to not produce unexpected or unwanted results. Making waves by questioning accepted dogma is simply not on. Rupert Sheldrake may well be correct in his assertion that something fundamental has been ignored by science – it could even be something as important as gravity. But unless science comes to practise the open-mindedness that it preaches, we may never know. As Sheldrake writes:
“In the Enlightenment ideal, science was a path to knowledge that would transform humanity for the better. Science and reason were the vanguard. These were, and still are, wonderful ideals, and they have inspired scientists for generations. They inspire me. I am all in favour of science and reason if they are scient-ific and reasonable. But I am against granting scientists and the materialist worldview an exemption from critical thinking and sceptical investigation. We need an enlightenment of the Enlightenment.”
~~~~~~ Lamb – Górecki
~~~~~~ The five colors blind the eye.
The five tones deafen the ear.
The five flavors dull the taste.
Racing and hunting madden the mind.
Precious things lead one astray.
Therefore the sage is guided by what he feels and not by what he sees.
He lets go of that and chooses this.
Kassian Cephas (1845-1912) The Temple Complex of Borobudur in Magelang
Unity field II (Metaphysical Circus) – Gwyllm Llwydd
Lots of changes.
Since our last posting, we have been to California for my sister’s memorial, which was very lovely. We drove down the Oregon coast to the Arcata/Eureka area for 3 days. Drove back up the coast as well. The northern California and the Oregon coast are so beautiful. I will put up with the couple of extra hours just so I don’t have to deal with I-5, which is a bit of torture for me.
We lost our home Caer Llwydd as the landlords sold it rather rapidly (though to a very nice person that we do like!) 17 years here, but now it is time to move on. We have less than a month at this point to find a new home, which seems to be a bit of a hurdle at the present time. Burn some candles for us!
Dreamhost got hacked for WordPress so our sites were down for 3 weeks plus. Thankfully our friend Doug came through and helped out. It has been a crazy time, but we are back. Soon to migrate to our own server. More details on that soon.
On The Menu:
Upcoming: Equations Of Power
Rabindranth Tagore Quotes
Cell – Universal Sunrise
Our Lady Of Bohemia – The Poetry of Alessandro Cusimano
The Timid Hare and the Flight of the Beasts
Cell – The Bushman
Upcoming: Equations, our next entry with a review of Dale Pendell’s new poetry book “Equations Of Power”
I have been delighted to sit and go over this new selection of poems by Dale. The book’s theme is clearly in the camp of science, with some surprising results. Dale keeps pulling the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, always something new popping out! I will have a full review of it this next week, so please be patient!
~~~~~~ Rabindranth Tagore Quotes:
“If you cry because the sun has gone out of your life, your tears will prevent you from seeing the stars.”
“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers,
but to be fearless in facing them.
Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but
for the heart to conquer it.”
“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”
~~~~~~ Cell – Universal Sunrise
~~~~~~ Our Lady Of Bohemia – The Poetry of Alessandro Cusimano
(Paris by Night -George Brassaï 1933)
Our Lady of Bohemia
is not a church mouse
is a stray queen
Our Malicious Mary
full of grace and confidences
sovereignty of mirrors and sofas
fragrant drink of salvation
scalds and flares up
and knocks again
in the dark dirty burlesque
a jewel case for Dionysus
with a blessed voice
flowing in the shadows
with a principle of faith
~~ Amsterdam Wide Dreams
a lovely girl brings home her puppet boyfriend
and plays with him
the tall convex space appears turquoise
draws a sinuous line
sensual on the perimeter
steeped in the events of others
is the profile of a wave
villain of the most beautiful seawater
ensures the persistence of blue
the opposite of darkness is spreading
the wave breaks regular
has a changing effect
hands out colours
the night owns the future
forgives the guilt
multiplies the fixed and reflected light
surrounds the vaporous game
unties a curtain
you look and measure the content
the anxiety of the angels goes on stage
the vibrations are perpendicular
penetrate the skin
a mass of water rises and falls
able to overwhelm the spectator
with the honesty of her sins
under a dim light
so as not to be seen
so you do not see the others
there’s a glare
vision is complex
a comely light
the volume of the music is consumed
a ruby-throated hummingbird flies free
growing soft folds follow the trend
the long radius
the imagination to reach
the underside of the tables
steel and water deposit the gray and blue
in the depths of deepest eyes
wooden puppet head is sitting on himself
his face is opalescent
inspired by an happy melodrama
built on the water
Queen of all Flowers
the gaze bends
the night damp colours
bold shapes wink and move
under the roses
things you can touch
clear in the stretch
rose leaves sweeten the thorns
night put on its coloured plumes
the great silence wakes up
and takes away the agony of boredom
the wail of a rose is the cry
of a carnivorous spider
with sweet mouths
showing off brand new throats
with its multiple body
innumerable and victorious
~~ The Brigade
countless eyes mislaid
still in the light
all appears undisclosed
a glint in a lifetime
a vision with no depth
a false dawn
lives hanging in the air
like never free lives
as if time had stopped
in a glacier of emotions
cast into a bottomless pit
before a regret depicted
by the icy warmth
of a pale smile
Son of a painter and a teacher, Alessandro Cusimano was born in Palermo, Sicily, Italy, on July 2, 1967. He lives in Rome, where he is a writer, poet, and translator with a special focus on the visual arts ranging from painting to cinema, from photography to theatre.
An expressivist poet, he freely refers to peripheral and irregular languages, drawing on dialect, slang, and various sectorial and technical forms of expression, which he recreates with personal inventions and varying intensity in every moment of his literary production.
He appeared recently on the international literary stage. Some of his writings have been published by The Cynic Online Magazine, Decanto Magazine, The Recusant, Streetcake Magazine, Numinous Magazine, Deadman’s Tome, RED OCHRE Lit, and Black Cat Poems.
~~~~~~ The Timid Hare and the Flight of the Beasts
Once upon a time when Brahmadatta reigned in Benares, the Bodhisatta [the future Buddha] came to life as a young lion. And when fully grown he lived in a wood. At this time there was near the Western Ocean a grove of palms mixed with vilva trees.
A certain hare lived here beneath a palm sapling, at the foot of a vilva tree. One day this hare, after feeding, came and lay down beneath the young palm tree. And the thought struck him, “If this earth should be destroyed, what would become of me?”
And at this very moment a ripe vilva fruit fell on a palm leaf. At the sound of it, the hare thought, “This solid earth is collapsing,” and starting up he fled, without so much as looking behind him. Another hare saw him scampering off, as if frightened to death, and asked the cause of his panic flight.
“Pray, don’t ask me,” he said.
The other hare cried, “Pray, sir, what is it?” and kept running after him.
Then the hare stopped a moment and without looking back said, “The earth here is breaking up.”
And at this the second hare ran after the other. And so first one and then another hare caught sight of him running, and joined in the chase till one hundred thousand hares all took to flight together. They were seen by a deer, a boar, an elk, a buffalo, a wild ox, a rhinoceros, a tiger, a lion, and an elephant. And when they asked what it meant and were told that the earth was breaking up, they too took to flight. So by degrees this host of animals extended to the length of a full league.
When the Bodhisatta saw this headlong flight of the animals, and heard the cause of it was that the earth was coming to an end, he thought, “The earth is nowhere coming to an end. Surely it must be some sound which was misunderstood by them. And if I don’t make a great effort, they will all perish. I will save their lives.”
So with the speed of a lion he got before them to the foot of a mountain, and lion-like roared three times. They were terribly frightened at the lion, and stopping in their flight stood all huddled together. The lion went in amongst them and asked why there were running away.
“The earth is collapsing,” they answered.
“Who saw it collapsing?” he said.
“The elephants know all about it,” they replied.
He asked the elephants. “We don’t know,” they said, “the lions know.”
But the lions said, “We don’t know, the tigers know.”
The tigers said, “The rhinoceroses know.”
The rhinoceroses said, “The wild oxen know.”
The wild oxen, “the buffaloes.”
The buffaloes, “the elks.”
The elks, “the boars.”
The boars, “the deer.”
The deer said, “We don’t know; the hares know.”
When the hares were questioned, they pointed to one particular hare and said, “This one told us.”
So the Bodhisatta asked, “Is it true, sir, that the earth is breaking up?”
“Yes, sir, I saw it,” said the hare.
“Where,” he asked, “were you living, when you saw it?”
“Near the ocean, sir, in a grove of palms mixed with vilva trees. For as I was lying beneath the shade of a palm sapling at the foot of a vilva tree, methought, ‘If this earth should break up, where shall I go?’ And at that very moment I heard the sound the breaking up of the earth, and I fled.”
Thought the lion, “A ripe vilva fruit evidently must have fallen on a palm leaf and made a ‘thud,’ and this hare jumped to the conclusion that the earth was coming to an end, and ran away. I will find out the exact truth about it.”
So he reassured the herd of animals, and said, “I will take the hare and go and find out exactly whether the earth is coming to an end or not, in the place pointed out by him. Until I return, do you stay here.” Then placing the hare on his back, he sprang forward with the speed of a lion, and putting the hare down in the palm grove, he said, “Come, show us the place you meant.”
“I dare not, my lord,” said the hare.
“Come, don’t be afraid,” said the lion.
The hare, not venturing to go near the vilva tree, stood afar off and cried, “Yonder, sir, is the place of dreadful sound,” and so saying, he repeated the first stanza:
From the spot where I did dwell
Issued forth a fearful “thud”;
What it was I could not tell,
Nor what caused it understood.
After hearing what the hare said, the lion went to the foot of the vilva tree, and saw the spot where the hare had been lying beneath the shade of the palm tree, and the ripe vilva fruit that fell on the palm leaf, and having carefully ascertained that the earth had not broken up, he placed the hare on his back and with the speed of a lion soon came again to the herd of beasts.
Then he told them the whole story, and said, “Don’t be afraid.” And having thus reassured the herd of beasts, he let them go.
Verily, if it had not been for the Bodhisatta at that time, all the beasts would have rushed into the sea and perished. It was all owing to the Bodhisatta that they escaped death.
Alarmed at sound of fallen fruit
A hare once ran away,
The other beasts all followed suit
Moved by that hare’s dismay.
They hastened not to view the scene,
But lent a willing ear
To idle gossip, and were clean
Distraught with foolish fear.
They who to Wisdom’s calm delight
And Virtue’s heights attain,
Though ill example should invite,
Such panic fear disdain.