Transmutation – Gold Into Fire

Don Brautigam

The Old Dust

The living is a passing traveler;
The dead, a man come home.
One brief journey betwixt heaven and earth,
Then, alas! we are the same old dust of ten thousand ages.

The rabbit in the moon pounds the medicine in vain;
Fu-sang, the tree of immortality,
has crumbled to kindling wood.
Man dies, his white bones are dumb without a word

When the green pines feel the coming of the spring.
Looking back, I sigh;
Looking before, I sigh again.
What is there to prize in the life’s vaporous glory?

– Li Po / Translated by:Shigeyoshi Obata
There are no revelations here, no deep insights.  A recounting of days and nights with those we love, and cherish.

Time is short.  Let everyone you love know that they are.

I have been meaning to post for a few days, but life is in a hurry as of late.

On ya go now. Have a read.

On The Menu:
To Mantis Hill & Back
From Laura & Dale Pharmako/Thanatos
Mazzy Star: Into Dust
The Poetry Of Li Po
After Thoughts…
Tomorrow Never Knows

To Mantis Hill, & Back
So, we were in a panic come Thursday morning the 12th of April. We were to head south to Dale Pendell’s Memorial/Birthday on Saturday the 14th, and the weather reports had snow on 4 passes south which meant multiple chaining and dechaining, plus 12 hours of driving. I had all about given up when George Post suggested that we take the train. Brilliant Idea!  So we booked the train, and it ran about the same cost wise as driving, motels and expenses.

We headed down via the train Friday afternoon.  We saw into numerous backyards through the Willamette Valley, the back alleys of little towns, homeless camps.  Through the fields, and then into Eugene.  After that up the beautiful MacKenzie into the Cascades.  Such beauty!  Elk watching the train pass by as mist played through the trees and surrounding peaks, then down into central south Oregon in the darkness to Klamath Falls.  We had one hour of sleep due to a manic passenger on the car we were on (sweet but challenged).  George graciously picked us up at the station in Sacramento, and off we went to Mantis Hill.

Arriving there, we found the parking lot full, with many of Dale & Laura’s friends having arrived early or the evening before.  Some we knew of course (Jacob for instance) but were soon introduced to everyone.  Lots of love in the air, and preparation for the afternoon event.

We all packed up and went up the San Juan Ridge at the North Columbia SchoolHouse Cultural Center, about 10:30 or so, arriving early to help set up if we could.  We floated in, to a crowd of wonderful faces already there. Nungies & Nick, Sylvia, Trout, Kiki Ivors and many others. Things moved along as we got closer to the time.  Wild stories about psychedelic boundaries nbeing crossed, mad adventures that included tales of Dale & Laura, laughter, laughter, laughter…

We had a conch call us to the memorial and birthday ceremony.  We sat down next to Trout, Fire & Earth Erowid, Jon Hanna.  Our friend George Post ranged about catching wonderful photographs… (See The Gallery Below)

Laura kicked it off, and she turned the proceedings over to “Jerry Tecklin.  Long time friend of Dale’s from when he first arrived in the area in 1970s.  They were “neighbors” which out here means the nearest person to where you live but not visible or probably even within a easy jaunt”(Laura). .  I believe Dave Pendell came up first to speak next. It was weirdly odd seeing Dale’s older brother speaking, Dale/Not Dale.   Gary Snyder was on next, and I remember a couple of others…  Kat Harrison who I did not recognize at first until she got up on stage, after all it being some 15 years since I had seen her.

There was some very fine poetry, stories, and songs.  This one afternoon expanded my awareness of Dale in a way I had not expected.  Who he was to so many,  tales of his past I hadn’t heard, hearts that he touched.  There were tales a plenty of Dales’ polymathic abilities.  One of the most touching of talks was Marici’s description of how Dale helped her with school lessons and their shared explorations of natural phenomena and math.  And… before you knew it the circle was closed, and we joined together as a group listening to the musicians who had drifted in and out of Oracular Madness and other configurations, play as we mingled, hugged, talked and remembered. It was indeed a gathering of friends and lovers in all of the best ways.

I met wonderful people that day, John Mabey, , Nick, the various iterations of the Pendell clan.  I finally got to meet Marici and Miss Scarlett.  That, was wonderful. I did get to meet Gary Snyder, and many others. I spent time with Gary. Of course, I have read his works, and they have come to inform a better part of my life, and what I have come to consider the concept of being in place. Luckily I did not babble like a massive FanBoi, I give thanks for that! 😛
John Mabey Caught this moment:

The sun arching towards the west, we made our partings, and left back to Mantis Hill.  The sun sank in the west, and we all settled into Mantis hill again, where the evening stretched late, and I got to know the circle that Dale and Laura had gathered to them over the years.  Wonderful people.  Vicki D was an absolute delight, Her husband Jim kept me in stitches through the evening. Everyone dispersed around 11:00 as Laura and everyone had reached saturation point.  We walked out, under the Milky Way. It was glorious.  The rushing of the springtime stream, the voices of the trees in the wind, the magick that is Mantis Hill was vibrant in the beautiful darkness.

George Post Photographs Of The Birthday Party Memorial:

The Next Day, Sunday: 

Mary & I awoke around 8:00 in the morning.  Still exhausted from the long haul down, and the one hour of sleep in the previous 40 plus hours. We were in the guest room out in the Barn/Studio/Library.  The building was very quiet as everyone else had walked up to the main house.  We spent the morning getting to know and greet friends and new acquaintances we hadn’t had enough time with the previous day.  We found George stirring, so we headed together up the main house.  As we walked up the road/path, you could hear laughter and talking.  Everyone was on the deck, spilling in and out of the sliding doors.  Breakfast was on, and would be for several hours as it evolved into various iterations. The discussions were varied and wonderful.  I had a wonderful discussion  with Jim on the merits of synthesizers, and using the concept of randomness in mixing ambient music…. the discussion was far more rambling in many ways, but fascinating from beginning to end.  I had a chance to spend time with David E. a fellow VPL member.  The time spent with David & Kristi was lovely as well, a sweet presence they made. David uses Dale’s Pharmako Poeia in a class he teaches at Berkeley.  (He was also one of the presenters at the gathering.)

Jacob kept us all in stitches through the morning.  He has such a lovely presence.

As the day lengthened Dave Pendell and his wife Ann & clan made an appearance, along with Marici and Scarlett. Howard & Pat Pendell with their daughters appeared as well. It was moving towards the time when everyone started to depart. We said our goodbyes as each group, and family left. George Mary & I headed off to Grass Valley to visit a friend of Georges’, John Hoft, perhaps one of the great artist you have never heard about.  We spent a couple of hours talking art, looking at the most impressive work I have seen in a long time.  Such talent!

We made our way back to Mantis Hill, in time for dinner with Laura, Howard & Pat and their daughters.  We spent many hours talking about their lives up in Alaska, and Dale.  The stories flowed back and forth through the evening.  Eventually, their daughters Katy & Coral left early with Coral’s partner Gary(a very nice young man) for an early flight back to Alaska.  Wonderful young people.  We said our goodnights along the way and headed down to the barn, stumbling under stars.


One Of Dale’s Paintings…. 











Up latish for breakfast, we retreated back to the barn/library for a bit. I visited Dales’ office, standing there contemplating all that had transpired there, and it was as if Dale had just stepped away for a moment.  George and I hung out in the library, revelling in the wonderful collection of books and subjects that Dale had delved into over the years.  Most volumes had little slips of paper in them from his research projects…

Then George, Mary & I scooted off to visit people.  It was quite a whirlwind trip, meeting Nate F. & Amelia for a walk with pooches.  So after escaping the snows in the passes, we got dumped on in the Sierra.  Beautiful, cold, and fun.  We had a long session of talking and hanging, and then went to Nevada City where we met up with the delightful Molly Fisk the Poet Laureate of Nevada City. We talked about  Poetry (of course), Nevada City, and much more.  The hours flew by. If I could, I would live there.  It is such a wonderful town.

Later, we headed up to Rough and Ready to visit with George’s friend Sharon.  She and John Hoft had been partners for many years.  She had his fabulous art everywhere.  It was quite a sweet visit.

Headed back to Mantis Hill to pick up our gear, and to say goodbye to Laura. Not enough time of course as these events go.  It had been a whirlwind for everyone, and saying good bye came at the right moment.

Flowers From The Meadow At Mantis Hill – Mary

On The Way Home….
Arrived at the Train Station around 10:00. Said our farewells to George as he headed out to the Bay area. He was a complete champ chaperoning us everywhere over the previous days, and introducing us to multiples of his his friends. We hung out in the station, talking together of the events, and struck up a conversation or two with other people. It is amazing how sweet people are. There are so many good hearts in the world. Eventually we got back onto the train heading north through the valley, into the dark, and then into dreams.

I awoke on the train between Dunsmuir & Mt. Shasta, with the beginnings of sunrise. The mountain was covered in mist and cloud which lifted as the train progressed.It was all blues and purples, then intense light. Although I lived there for years, it stole my breath away. Of course, it was too dark to photograph, and I wouldn’t of caught the state of awe that I was in anyways.

Here is to Love and Friendship.  Dale, we  miss you dearly.


The Western Cascades… out the window on the way back into the valley.  I am so in love with the land here.  Such Beauty!

From Laura & Dale:  Pharmako/Thanatos How I Died…

“Sometimes poison is the medicine.
Sometimes the action of this medicine
is as gentle as waking up,
but sometimes the world as you know it
is dissolved in a torrent of seeming madness,
so that another world might become visible.”
We All Go…
Mazzy Star: Into Dust


Poltergeist – Gwyllm 2018

Keening/From The Scots Gaelic: caoineadh (“to cry, to weep”) This piece I realized touched on something in the process…

Keening is a traditional form of vocal lament for the dead. In Ireland and Scotland it is customary for women to wail or keen at funerals. Keening has also been used as part of civil disobedience and protest.
The Poetry Of Li Po

To wash and rinse our souls of their age-old sorrows,
We drained a hundred jugs of wine.
A splendid night it was . . . .
In the clear moonlight we were loath to go to bed,
But at last drunkenness overtook us;
And we laid ourselves down on the empty mountain,
The earth for pillow, and the great heaven for coverlet.
– Li Po – Translated by: Shigeyoshi Obata
Green Mountain

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 Po. Translated by: A. S. Kline’s
Down From The Mountain

As down Mount Emerald at eve I came,
The mountain moon went all the way with me.
Backward I looked, to see the heights aflame
With a pale light that glimmered eerily.

A little lad undid the rustic latch
As hand in hand your cottage we did gain,
Where green limp tendrils at our cloaks did catch,
And dim bamboos o’erhung a shadowy lane.

Gaily I cried, “Here may we rest our fill!”
Then choicest wines we quaffed; and cheerily
“The Wind among the Pines” we sang, until
A few faint stars hung in the Galaxy.

Merry were you, my friend: and drunk was I,
Blissfully letting all the world go by.

– Li Po
This last poem reminds me of Dale, being present, and now not. Bright Blessings…

Looking For A Monk And Not Finding Him

I took a small path leading
up a hill valley, finding there
a temple, its gate covered
with moss, and in front of
the door but tracks of birds;
in the room of the old monk
no one was living, and I
staring through the window
saw but a hair duster hanging
on the wall, itself covered
with dust; emptily I sighed
thinking to go, but then
turning back several times,
seeing how the mist on
the hills was flying, and then
a light rain fell as if it
were flowers falling from
the sky, making a music of
its own; away in the distance
came the cry of a monkey, and
for me the cares of the world
slipped away, and I was filled
with the beauty around me.

– Li Po. Translated by: Rewi Allen
After Thoughts:
It has been a long winter, that tumbled into spring, and now with the passing of Beltane into the rites/riots of summer. The plants in the backyard are going wild with their mating frenzies, colour erupts and pollen flys in Dionysian abandonment. Amidst all that proclaims “LIFE!!” I have dwelt on passing and impermanence. It is a passing of seasons that I think we most resemble at times. We are never far from our roots, and that begins in dust, and ends in dust, but oh, such glories on the inbetween.

I once believed in God, as I once believed in reincarnation. I am not saying that I don’t anymore… but that perhaps it is not necessary to hold any beliefs on what transpires after we jump through that door, as we will all do so regardless. What comes after, comes after, or not.

There are times I am haunted by those that have passed away… yet, I am haunted more by those that are yet to be born. How we comport ourselves will touch those we will never meet. That, I believe is a fact. Today I wrote this:

“I believe we live in a mythic moment/eternal… His/Herstory accounts for the propaganda of the times… but we live within the greater tale, where every one has a part, not just the powerful and famous.

The daily acts of Love & Kindness is what binds us, not the consensual hallucinations of civilization. We are far more ancient, and greater than that.”

I do not hold to idea of personal enlightenment anymore.  It is not a contest, it is not something to aspire to, except in that how we treat others and ourselves.  Kindness and Love are their own Yogas and Disciplines.  Your path may vary of course.

Gwyllm – 5/4/18

Asako Eguchi
Tomorrow Never Knows…
The Original:

Suns Of Arqa – Tomorrow Never Knows:

The Wooing Of Olwen

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire. – William Butler Yeats

John Duncan, Riders of the Sidhe, 1911

Ah, Saturday morning, and I am just finishing this up. It has been a busy week here at Caer Llwydd. Spring is in the air of course, and everything is rushing to the Equinox. The buds are out, and a sense of renewal can be felt everywhere. Time to do some replantings, and to start prepping the garden.

This entry is a return to roots, to that part of my heart which is never far away, regardless of the paths and roads my mind wanders. It seems when I need a reset, it is to these old tales, and poetry that I go to. I find my perspective on my life, and the culture that I am in through these meanderings.

I was going to write about the recent shootings, and political situations, but there is enough of that in the world. Time will put it in perspective, and we are moving through and past a rough spot in our stories. We are part of a greater tale, and these times will fade like others. What will be of value will be hopefully retained, and that which is not shall dissipate, and fade. Know that we will get through all of this.

A note on the art in this edition. You’ll find 3 pieces here of my favourite Scottish Symbolist, John Duncan. He first went to art school when he was 11… and his art only got better. There has been a revival of sorts around his works, which I am happy to see. We have had a piece of his (a poster) in our Bedroom for over 20 years.

A note on the music in this edition. Alan Stivell. What can one say about this Breton native, except that he was and is central to the Celtic Revival in Brittany, and elsewhere in Europe. I had the pleasure of seeing him in very small venues in Europe over the years. His music is sublime, and really worth exploring if you get a chance.

I hope you enjoy your visit.

On The Menu:
The Links
Alan Stivell – Suite Irlandaise
The Wooing Of Olwen
Alan Stivell – YS
Ancient Celtic Poetry
Alain Stivell – Ar Voraerion

Resurrect The Extinct?
The Mermaid Of Fornham
The Stakes Are High
Against Popular Culture
Alan Stivell – Suite Irlandaise / The King of the fairies


John Duncan (1866-1945)

The Wooing Of Olwen
Celtic Fairy Tales, by Joseph Jacobs, [1892]

SHORTLY after the birth of Kuhuch, the son of King Kilyth, his mother died. Before her death she charged the king that he should not take a wife again until he saw a briar with two blossoms upon her grave and the king sent every morning to see if anything were growing thereon. After many years the briar appeared, and he took to wife the widow of King Doged. She foretold to her stepson, Kuhuch, that it was his destiny to marry a maiden named Olwen, or none other, and he, at his father’s bidding, went to the court of his cousin, King Arthur, to ask as a boon the hand of the maiden. He rode upon a grey steed with shell-formed hoofs, having a bridle of linked gold, and a saddle also of gold. In his hand were two spears of silver, well-tempered, headed with steel, of an edge to wound the wind and cause blood to flow, and swifter than the fall of the dew-drop from the blade of reed grass upon the earth when the dew of June is at its heaviest. A gold-hilted sword was on his thigh, and the blade was of gold, having inlaid upon it a cross of the hue of the lightning of heaven. Two brindled, white-breasted greyhounds,  with strong collars of rubies, sported round him, and his courser cast up four sods with its four hoofs like four swallows about his head. Upon the steed was a four. cornered cloth of purple, and an apple of gold was at each corner. Precious gold was upon the stirrups and shoes, and the blade of grass bent not beneath them, so light was the courser’s tread as he went towards the gate of King Arthur’s palace.

Arthur received him with great ceremony, and asked him to remain at the palace; but the youth replied that he came not to consume meat and drink, but to ask a boon of the king.

Then said Arthur, “Since thou wilt not remain her; chieftain, thou shalt receive the boon, whatsoever thy tongue may name, as far as the wind dries and the rain moistens, and the sun revolves, and the sea encircles, and the earth extends, save only my ships and my mantle, my sword, my lance, my shield, my dagger, and Guinevere my wife.”

So Kilhuch craved of him the hand of Olwen, the daughter of Yspathaden Penkawr, and also asked the favour and aid of all Arthur’s court.

Then said Arthur, “O chieftain, I have never heard of the maiden of whom thou speakest, nor of her kindred, but I will gladly send messengers in search of her.”

And the youth said, “I will willingly grant from this night to that at the end of the year to do so.”

Then Arthur sent messengers to every land within his dominions to seek for the maiden; and at the end of the year Arthur’s messengers returned without having gained any knowledge or information concerning Olwen more than on the first day.

Then said Kilhuch, “Every one has received his boon, and I yet lack mine. I will depart and bear away thy honour with me.”

Then said Kay, “Rash chieftain! dost thou reproach Arthur? Go with us, and we will not part until thou dost either confess that the maiden exists not in the world, or until we obtain her.”

Thereupon Kay rose up.

Kay had this peculiarity, that his breath lasted nine nights and nine days under water, and he could exist nine nights and nine days without sleep. A wound from Kay’s sword no physician could heal. Very subtle was Kay. When it pleased him he could render himself as tall as the highest tree in the forest. And he had another peculiarity-so great was the heat of his nature, that, when it rained hardest, whatever he carried remained dry for a handbreadth above and a handbreath below his hand; and when his companions were coldest, it was to them as fuel with which to light their fire.

And Arthur called Bedwyr, who never shrank from any enterprise upon which Kay was bound. None was equal to him in swiftness throughout this island except Arthur and Drych Ail Kibthar. And although he was one-handed, three warriors could not shed blood faster than he on the field of battle. Another property he had; his lance would produce a wound equal to those of nine opposing lances.

And Arthur called to Kynthelig the guide. “Go thou upon this expedition with the Chieftain.” For as good a guide was he in a land which he had never seen as he was in his own.

He called Gwrhyr Gwalstawt Ieithoedd, because he knew all tongues.

He called Gwalchmai, the son of Gwyar, because he never returned home without achieving the adventure of which he went in quest. He was the best of footmen and the best of knights. He was nephew to Arthur, the son of his sister, and his cousin.

And Arthur called Menw, the son of Teirgwaeth, in order that if they went into a savage country, he might cast a charm and an illusion over them, so that none might see them whilst they could see every one.

They journeyed on till they came to a vast open plain, wherein they saw a great castle, which was the fairest in the world. But so far away was it that at night it seemed no nearer, and they scarcely reached it on the third day. When they came before the castle they beheld a vast flock of. sheep, boundless and without end. They told their errand to the herdsman, who endeavoured to dissuade them, since none who had come thither on that quest had returned alive. They gave to him a gold ring, which he conveyed to his wife, telling her who the visitors were.

On the approach of the latter, she ran out with joy to greet them, and sought to throw her arms about their necks. But Kay, snatching a billet out of the pile, placed the log between her two hands, and she squeezed it so that it became a twisted coil.

“O woman,” said Kay, “if thou hadst squeezed me thus, none could ever again have set their affections on me. Evil love were this.”

They entered the house, and after meat she told them that the maiden Olwen came there every Saturday to wash. They pledged their faith that they would not harm her, and a message was sent to her. So Olwen came, clothed in a robe of flame-coloured silk, and with a collar of ruddy gold, in which were emeralds and rubies, about her neck. More golden was her hair than the flower of the broom, and her skin was whiter than the foam of the wave, and fairer were her hands and her fingers than the blossoms of the wood anemone amidst the spray of the meadow fountain. Brighter were her glances than those of a falcon; her bosom was more snowy than the breast of the white swan, her cheek redder than the reddest roses. Whoso beheld was filled with her love. Four white trefoils sprang up wherever she trod, and therefore was she called Olwen.

Then Kilhuch, sitting beside her on a bench, told her his love, and she said that he would win her as his bride if he granted whatever her father asked.

Accordingly they went up to the castle and laid their request before him.

“Raise up the forks beneath my two eyebrows which have fallen over my eyes,” said Yspathaden Penkawr, “that I may see the fashion of my son-in-law.”

They did so, and he promised them an answer on the morrow. But as they were going forth, Yspathaden seized one of the three poisoned darts that lay beside him and threw it back after them.

And Bedwyr caught it and flung it back, wounding Yspathaden in the knee.

Then said he, “A cursed ungentle son-in-law, truly. I shall ever walk the worse for his rudeness. This poisoned iron pains me like the bite of a gad-fly. Cursed be the smith who forged it, and the anvil whereon it was wrought.”

The knights rested in the house of Custennin the herds-man, but the next day at dawn they returned to the castle and renewed their request.

Yspathaden said it was necessary that he should consult

Olwen’s four great-grandmothers and her four great-grand-sires.

The knights again withdrew, and as they were going he took the second dart and cast it after them.

But Menw caught it and flung it back, piercing Yspathaden’s breast with it, so that it came out at the small of his back.

“A cursed ungentle son-in-law, truly,” says he, “the hard iron pains me like the bite of a horse-leech. Cursed be the hearth whereon it was heated! Henceforth whenever I go up a hill, I shall have a scant in my breath and a pain in my chest.”

On the third day the knights returned once more to the palace, and Yspathaden took the third dart and cast it at them.

But Kilbuch caught it and threw it vigorously, and wounded him through the eyeball, so that the dart came out at the back of his head.

“A cursed ungentle son-in-law, truly. As long as I remain alive my eyesight will be the worse. Whenever I go against the wind my eyes will water, and peradventure my head will burn, and I shall have a giddiness every new moon. Cursed be the fire in which it was forged. Like the bite of a mad dog is the stroke of this poisoned iron.”

And they went to meat.

Said Yspathaden Penkawr, “Is it thou that seekest my daughter?”

“It is I,” answered Kilhuch.

“I must have thy pledge that thou wilt not do towards me otherwise than is just, and when I have gotten that which I shall name, my daughter thou shalt have.”

“I promise thee that willingly,” said Kilhuch, “name what thou wilt.”

“I will do so,” said he.

“Throughout the world there is not a comb or scissors with which I can arrange my hair, on account of its rankness, except the comb and scissors that are between the two ears of Turch Truith, the son of Prince Tared. He will not give them of his own free will, and thou wilt not be able to compel him.”

“It will be easy for me to compass this, although thou mayest think that it will not be easy.”

“Though thou get this, there is yet that which thou wilt not get. It will not be possible to hunt Turch Truith without Drudwyn the whelp of Greid, the son of Eri, and know that throughout the world there is not a huntsman who can hunt with this dog, except Mabon the son of Modron. He was taken from his mother when three nights old, and it is not known where he now is, nor whether he is living or dead.”

“It will be easy for me to compass this, although thou mayest think that it will not be easy.”

“Though thou get this, there is yet that which thou wilt not get. Thou wilt not get Mabon, for it is not known where he is, unless thou find Eidoel, his kinsman in blood, the son of Aer. For it would be useless to seek for him. He is his cousin.”

“It will be easy for me to compass this, although thou mayest think that it will not be easy. Horses shall I have, and chivalry; and my lord and kinsman Arthur will obtain for me all these things. And I shall gain thy daughter, and thou shalt lose thy life.”

“Go forward. And thou shalt not be chargeable for food or raiment for my daughter while thou art seeking these things; and when thou hast compassed all these marvels, thou shalt have my daughter for wife.”

Now, when they told Arthur how they had sped, Arthur said, ” Which of these marvels will it be best for us to seek first?”

“It will be best,” said they, “to seek Mabon the son of Modron; and he will not be found unless we first find Eidoel, the son of Aer, his kinsman.”

Then Arthur rose up, and the warriors of the Islands of Britain with him, to seek for Eidoel; and they proceeded until they came before the castle of Glivi, where Eldoel was imprisoned.

Glivi stood on the summit of his castle, and said, “Arthur, what requirest thou of me, since nothing remains to me in this fortress, and I have neither joy nor pleasure in it; neither wheat nor oats?”

Said Arthur, “Not to injure thee came I hither, but to seek for the prisoner that is with thee.”

“I will give thee my prisoner, though I had not thought to give him up to any one; and therewith shalt thou have my suport and my aid.”

His followers then said unto Arthur, “Lord, go thou home, thou canst not proceed with thy host in quest of such small adventures as these.”

Then said Arthur, ” It were well for thee, Gwrhyr Gwalstawt Ieithoedd, to go upon this quest, for thou knowest all languages, and art familiar with those of the birds and the beasts. Go, Eidoel, likewise with my men in search of thy cousin. And as for you, Kay and Bedwyr, I have hope of whatever adventure ye are in quest of’ that ye will achieve it. Achieve ye this adventure for me.”

These went forward until they came to the Ousel of Cilgwri, and Gwrhyr adjured her for the sake of Heaven, saying, “Tell me if thou knowest aught of Mabon, the son of Modron, who was taken when three nights old from between his mother and the wall.

And the Ousel answered, “When I first came here there was a smith’s anvil in this place, and I was then a young bird, and from that time no work has been done upon it, save the pecking of my beak every evening, and now there is not so much as the size of a nut remaining thereof; yet the vengeance of Heaven be upon me if during all that time I have ever heard of the man for whom you inquire. Nevertheless, there is a race of animals who were formed before me, and 1 will be your guide to them.”

So they proceeded to the place where was the Stag of Redynvre.

Stag of Redynvre, behold we are come to thee, an embassy from Arthur, for we have not heard of any animal older than thou. Say, knowest thou aught of Mabon?”

The stag said, “When first I came hither, there was a plain all around me, without any trees save one oak sapling, which grew up to be an oak with an hundred branches. And that oak has since perished, so that now nothing remains of it but the withered stump; and from that day to this I have been here, yet have I never heard of the man for whom you inquire. Nevertheless, I will be your guide to the place where there is an animal which was formed before I was.”

So they proceeded to the place where was the Owl of Cwm Cawlwyd, to inquire of him concerning Mabon.

And the owl said, “If I knew I would tell you. When first I came hither, the wide valley you see was a wooded glen. And a race of men came and rooted it up. And there grew there a second wood, and this wood is the third. My wings, are they not withered stumps? Yet all this time, even until to-day, I have never heard of the man for whom you inquire. Nevertheless, I will be the guide of Arthur’s embassy until you come to the place where is the oldest


animal in this world, and the one who has travelled most, the eagle of Gwern Abwy.”

When they came to the eagle, Gwrhyr asked it the same question; but it replied, “I have been here for a great space of time, and when I first came hither there was a rock here, from the top of which I pecked at the stars every evening, and now it is not so much as a span high. From that day to this I have been here, and I have never heard of the man for whom you inquire, except once when I went in search of food as far as Llyn Llyw. And when I came there, I struck my talons into a salmon, thinking he would serve me as food for a long time. But he drew me into the deep, and I was scarcely able to escape from him. Mter that I went with my whole kindred to attack him and to try to destroy him, but he sent messengers and made peace with me, and came and besought me to take fifty fish-spears out of his back. Unless he know something of him whom you seek, I cannot tell you who may. However, I will guide you to the place where he is.

So they went thither, and the eagle said, “Salmon of Uyn .Llyw, I have come to thee with an embassy from Arthur to ask thee if thou knowest aught concerning Mabon, the son of Modron, who was taken away at three nights old from between his mother and the wall.”

And the salmon answered, “As much as I know I will tell thee. With every tide I go along the river upwards, until I come near to the walls of Gloucester, and there have I found such wrong as I never found elsewhere; and to the end that ye may give credence thereto, let one of you go thither upon each of my two shoulders.”

So Kay and Gwrhyr went upon his shoulders, and they proceeded till they came to the wall of the prison, and they heard a great wailing and lamenting from the dungeon.

Said Gwrhyr, “Who is it that laments in this house of stone?”

And the voice replied, “Alas, it is Mabon, the son of Modron, who is here imprisoned!”

Then they returned and told Arthur, who, summoning his warriors, attacked the castle.

And whilst the fight was going on, Kay and Bedwyr, mounting on the shoulders of the fish, broke into the dungeon, and brought away with them Mabon, the son of Modron.

Then Arthur summoned unto him all the warriors that were in the three islands of Britain and in the three islands adjacent; and he went as far as Esgeir Oervel in Ireland where the Boar Truith was with his seven young pigs. And the dogs were let loose upon him from all sides. But he wasted the fifth part of Ireland, and then set forth through the sea to Wales. Arthur and his hosts, and his horses, and his dogs followed hard after him. But ever and awhile the boar made a stand, and many a champion of Arthur’s did he slay. Throughout all Wales did Arthur follow him, and one by one the young pigs were killed. At length, when he would fain have crossed the Severn and escaped into Cornwall, Mabon the son of Modron came up with him, and Arthur fell upon him together with the champions of Britain. On the one side Mabon the son of Modron spurred his steed and snatched his razor from him, whilst Kay came up with him on the other side and took from him the scissors. But before they could obtain the comb he had regained the ground with his feet, and from the moment that he reached the shore, neither dog nor man nor horse could overtake him until he came to Cornwall. There Arthur and his hosts followed in his track until they over-took him in Cornwall. Hard had been their trouble before, but it was child’s play to what they met in seeking the comb. Win it they did, and the Boar Truith they hunted into the deep sea, and it was never known whither he went.

Then Kilhuch set forward, and as many as wished ill to Yspathaden Penkawr. And they took the marvels with them to his court. And Kaw of North Britain came and shaved his beard, skin and flesh clean off to the very bone from ear to ear.

“Art thou shaved, man?” said Kilhuch.

“I am shaved,” answered he.

“Is thy daughter mine now?”

“She is thine, but therefore needst thou not thank me, but Arthur who hath accomplished this for thee. By my free will thou shouldst never have had her, for with her I lose my life.”

Then Goreu the son of Custennin seized him by the hair of his head and dragged him after him to the keep, and cut off his head and placed it on a stake on the citadel.

Thereafter the hosts of Arthur dispersed themselves each man to his own country.

Thus did Kilhuch son of Kelython win to wife Olwen, the daughter of Yspathaden Penkawr.
Alan Stivell, YS

Ancient Celtic Poetry
Translated by Kuno Meyer

The Messenger of Tethra – John Duncan

The Sea-God’S Address to Bran
Then on the morrow Bran went upon the sea. When he had been at sea two days and two nights, he saw a man in a chariot coming towards him over the sea. It was Manannan, the son of Ler, who sang these quatrains to him.

To Bran in his coracle it seems
A marvellous beauty across the clear sea:
To me in my chariot from afar
It is a flowery plain on which he rides.
What is a clear sea
For the prowed skiff in which Bran is,
That to me in my chariot of two wheels
Is a delightful plain with a wealth of flowers.
Bran sees
A mass of waves beating across the clear sea:
I see myself in the Plain of Sports
Red-headed flowers that have no fault.
Sea-horses glisten in summer
As far as Bran can stretch his glance:
Rivers pour forth a stream of honey
In the land of Manannan, son of Ler.
The sheen of the main on which thou art,
The dazzling white of the sea on which thou rowest about—
Yellow and azure are spread out,
It is a light and airy land.
Speckled salmon leap from the womb
Out of the white sea on which thou lookest:
They are calves, they are lambs of fair hue,
With truce, without mutual slaughter.
Though thou seest but one chariot-rider
In the Pleasant Plain of many flowers,
There are many steeds on its surface,
Though them thou seest not.
Large is the plain, numerous is the host,
Colours shine with pure glory,
A white stream of silver, stairs of gold
Afford a welcome with all abundance.
An enchanting game, most delicious,
They play over the luscious wine,
Men and gentle women under a bush,
Without sin, without transgression.
Along the top of a wood
Thy coracle has swum across ridges,
There is a wood laden with beautiful fruit
Under the prow of thy little skiff.
A wood with blossom and with fruit
On which is the vine’s veritable fragrance,
A wood without decay, without defect,
On which is a foliage of a golden hue.
We are from the beginning of creation
Without old age, without consummation of clay,
Hence we expect not there might be frailty—
Transgression has not come to us.
Steadily then let Bran row!
It is not far to the Land of Women:
Evna with manifold bounteousness
He will reach before the sun is set.
Deirdre’s Lament
And Deirdre dishevelled her hair and began kissing Noisi and drinking his blood, and the colour of embers came into her cheeks, and she uttered this lay.

Long is the day without Usnagh’s Children;
It was never mournful to be in their company.
A king’s sons, by whom exiles were rewarded,
Three lions from the Hill of the Cave.
Three dragons of Dun Monidh,
The three champions from the Red Branch:
After them I shall not live—
Three that used to break every onrush.
Three darlings of the women of Britain,
Three hawks of Slieve Gullion,
Sons of a king whom valour served,
To whom soldiers would pay homage.
Three heroes who were not good at homage,
Their fall is cause of sorrow—
Three sons of Cathba’s daughter,
Three props of the battle-host of Coolney.
Three vigorous bears,
Three lions out of Liss Una,
Three lions who loved their praise,
Three pet sons of Ulster.
That I should remain after Noisi
Let no one in the world suppose!
After Ardan and Ainnle
My time would not be long.
Ulster’s high-king, my first husband,
I forsook for Noisi’s love:
Short my life after them,
I will perform their funeral game.
After them I will not be alive—
Three that would go into every conflict,
Three who liked to endure hardships,
Three heroes who never refused combat.
O man that diggest the tomb,
And that puttest my darling from me,
Make not the grave too narrow,
I shall be beside the noble ones.
The Host Of Faery

White shields they carry in their hands,
With emblems of pale silver;
With glittering blue swords,
With mighty stout horns.
In well-devised battle array,
Ahead of their fair chieftain
They march amid blue spears,
Pale-visaged, curly-headed bands.
They scatter the battalions of the foe,
They ravage every land they attack,
Splendidly they march to combat,
A swift, distinguished, avenging host!
No wonder though their strength be great:
Sons of queens and kings are one and all;
On their heads are
Beautiful golden-yellow manes.
With smooth comely bodies,
With bright blue-starred eyes,
With pure crystal teeth,
With thin red lips.
Good they are at man-slaying,
Melodious in the ale-house,
Masterly at making songs,
Skilled at playing fidchell.

(Fidchell – a game like draughts)
Alain Stivell – Ar Voraerion 1978

Do not wait to strike till the iron is hot; but make it hot by striking. – William Butler Yeats

John Duncan – Tutt’Art


“I have always taught that things arise due to the conjunction of causes and conditions not that they arise without a cause.”  –  Red Pine

Mori Kansai (1814-1894), Rabbits, 1881. Two-panel screen. Ink, colour and gold leaf on paper.

The Great Tao

大道無形 Daidõ mugyõ, The Great Tao is without form,
眞理無對 Shinri mutai, The Absolute is without opposite;
等空不動 Hitoshiku kû fudõ, It is both empty and unmoving,
非生死流 Shõji no nagare ni arazu; It is not within the flow of Samsara;
三界不攝 Sangai fushõ, The Three Realms do not contain it,
非古夾今 Koraikon ni arazu. It is not within past, future, or present.
Nan-ch’üan P’u-yüan (Nansen Fugan 南泉普願)

Here is an entry that I have been working off and on for over a year it seems. (11 months if truth be told)  I have been busy on printing projects, and trying to keep the boat afloat.
So much sadness in the world of late, I hope this posting may alleviate  that, if even for just a little while.

On The Menu:
The Links
Bardol Thodol
The Temple of Perseus…
Shakuhachi – Kohachiro Miyata
Zen Poetry
Rebirth of the Bodhisattva
Excerpt: The Diamond Sutra
The Links:
That Beckoning Blue Light!
Pyramid Alignment…
Back To The Land 
You’ll Soon Love The Tax Cuts!
Bardo Thodol:
Clear Light
“Remember the clear light, the pure clear white light from which everything in the universe comes, to which everything in the universe returns; the original nature of your own mind. The natural state of the universe unmanifest. Let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it. It is your own true nature, it is home.”
– Bardo Thodol
I have taken to reading the Bardo Thodol after 45 years of not doing so. Perhaps it is my age, and the passing of dear friends and family.
As I have stated before: “Half our lives we are saying hello, half our lives we are saying goodbye.” Perhaps this is an exercise in learning to let go. We all walk down this path. The party goes on, but the guest are ever changing…

“Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal.”
A Schopenhauer

Here is the Link!
Bardo Thodol
The Temple Of Perseus At Panopolis:
I am working through this a second time. It is indeed a time capsule, with various texts going back 2500 years. You find yourself submerged in a syncretic dream of competing and complementary threads swirling around the temples and times that was once Panopolis. Egyptian, Greek, Syriac, Christian and even more various streams of consciousness well up in this delightful text.
It is a keeper. I will be doing a fuller review in the forth coming edition of The Invisible College Magazine #9.

“Book as magpie s nest or mosaic made up of bits of other books, this work aims to give a thick impression of a single Egyptian city, Akhmim, called by the Greeks Panopolis, city of Pan. As a time machine, this book will take the reader back to the 5th century A.D., when the last champions of Paganism were battling against the coming triumph of Christianity. Alchemy, Magic, Gnosticism, Greco-Egyptian religion, psychotropic ritual and other syncretistic elements mingled to give birth to Hermeticism, a still-living tradition which provides us with the means to appreciate the voyage we will make into a Past that is not dead.”  From the review….

This is the Link…
The Temple At…
Had this album years ago, vinyl. Will try and find it for the radio station…
Shakuhachi [The Japanese Flute] – Kohachiro Miyata

Zen Poetry:

Buddha – Gwyllm 2011

Beyond This World
通玄峯頂 Over the crest of the T’ung-hsuan-feng,
不是人間 The human world is no more.
心外無物 Nothing is outside the Mind;
満目青山 And the eye is filled with green mountains.
– T’ien-t’ai Te-chao (天台德昭 Tendai Tokushõ; 891-972), most prominent disciple of Fa-yen (法眼 Hõgen), and abbot of a temple on Mount T’ung-hsuan-feng (通玄峯).

幽鳥語如篁 A bird in a secluded grove sings like a flute.
柳搖金線長 Willows sway gracefully with their golden threads.
雲歸山谷静 The mountain valley grows the quieter as the clouds return.
風送杏花香 A breeze brings along the fragrance of the apricot flowers.
永日蕭然坐 For a whole day I have sat here encompassed by peace,
澄心萬虞忘 Till my mind is cleansed in and out of all cares and idle thoughts.
欲言言不及 I wish to tell you how I feel, but words fail me.
林下好商量 If you come to this grove, we can compare notes.
– Ch’an master Fa-yen (法眼 Hõgen)

Emptiness Poem
Old P’ang requires nothing in the world:
All is empty with him, even a seat he has not,
For absolute Emptiness reigns in his household;
How empty indeed it is with no treasures!
When the sun is risen, he walks through Emptiness,
When the sun sets, he sleeps in Emptiness;
Sitting in Emptiness he sings his empty songs,
And his empty songs reverberate through Emptiness:
Be not surprised at Emptiness so thoroughly empty,
For Emptiness is the seat of all the Buddhas;
And Emptiness is not understood by the men of the world,
But Emptiness is the real treasure:
If you say there’s no Emptiness,
You commit grave offence against the Buddhas.
– P’ang “Who flourished in the Yüan-ho period (806-821) and thereabout, and was a younger contemporary of Ma-tsu.”

Immovable Mind
欲識永明旨 You wish to know the spirit of Yung-ming Zen?
門前一湖水 Look at the lake in front of the gate.
日照光明至 When the sun shines, it radiates light and brightness,
波夾波浪起 When the wind comes, there arise ripples and waves.
Yung-ming Yen-shou (永明延壽 Yõmyõ Enju; 904-975) disciple of T’ien-t’ai Te-chao (天台德昭 Tendai Tokushõ; 891-972).
“There is a time for peaceful contemplation; there is a time for dynamic action; and all the time the lake remains itself.”

Yen-shou’s Poem of Enlightenment
扑落非他物 Something dropped! It is no other thing;
縱横不是塵 Right and left, there is nothing earthy:
山河并大地 Rivers and mountains and the great earth,—
全露法王身 In them all revealed is the Body of the Dharmarâja.
Ch’an master Yung-ming Yen-shou (永明延壽 Yõmyõ Enju) (904-975)

Variant of the line 3 山河及大地
“His realization took place when he heard a bundle of fuel dropping on the ground.”

Gathas of Shen-hsiu and Hui-neng

身是菩提樹 This body is the Bodhi-tree,
心如明鏡台 The soul is like a mirror bright;
時時勤拂拭 Take heed to keep it always clean,
莫使惹塵埃 And let no dust collect on it. Shen-hsiu

菩提本無樹 The Bodhi is not like the tree,
明鏡亦非台 The mirror bright is nowhere shining;
本夾無一物 As there is nothing from the first,
何處惹塵埃 Where can the dust itself collect? Hui-neng

Gâthâs of Shen-hsiu (神秀 Jinshû) and Hui-neng (慧能 Enõ)
From Hui-neng’s Platform Sûtra (T’an-ching 壇經/Dankyõ,
full title Liu-tsu Ta-shih Fa-pao-t’an-ching 六祖大師法寶壇經 Rokuso Daishi
Rebirth of the Bodhisattva

Bodhisattva Padmapani cave – Ajanta,India

Once upon a time in the city of Mathila, there was a king who had two sons. The older one was named Badfruit, and his younger brother was called Poorfruit.

While they were still fairly young, the king made his older son the crown prince. He was second in command and next in line to the throne. Prince Poorfruit became commander of the army.

Eventually the old king died and Prince Badfruit became the new king. Then his brother became crown prince.

Before long, a certain servant took a disliking to Crown Prince Poorfruit. He went to King Badfruit and told a lie – that his brother was planning to kill him. At first the king did not believe him. But after the servant kept repeating the lie, the king became frightened. So he had Prince Poorfruit put in chains and locked up in the palace dungeon.

The prince thought, “I am a righteous man was does not deserve these chains. I never wanted to kill my brother. I wasn’t even angry at him. So now I call on the power of Truth. If what I say is true, may these chains fall off and the dungeon doors be opened!” Miraculously the chains broke in pieces, the door opened, and the prince fled to an outlying village. The people there recognised him. Since they respected him `they helped him, and the king was unable to capture him.

Even though he lived in hiding, the crown prince became the master of the entire remote region. In time he raised a large army. He thought, “Although I was not an enemy to my brother at first, I must be an enemy to him now.” So he took his army and surrounded the city of Mithila.

He sent a message to king Badfruit – “I was not your enemy, but you have made me so. Therefore I have come to wage war against you. I give you a choice – either give me your crown and kingdom, or come out and fight.” Hearing of this, most of the city people went out and joined the prince.

King Badfruit decided to wage war. He would do anything to keep his power. Before going out with his army, he went to say goodbye to his number one queen. She was expecting a baby very soon. He said to her “My love, no one knows who will win this war. Therefore, if I die you must protect the child inside you.” Then he bravely went off to war and was quickly killed by the soldiers of his enemy brother.

The news of the king’s death spread through the city. The queen disguised herself as a poor dirty homeless person. She put on old rags for clothes and smeared dirt on herself. She put some of the king’s gold and her own most precious jewellery into a basket. She covered these with dirty rice that no one would want to steal. Then she left the city by the northern gate. Since she had always lived inside the city, the queen had no idea where to go from there. She had heard of a city called Campa. She sat down at the side of the road and began asking if anyone was going to Campa.

It just so happened that the one who was about to be born was no ordinary baby. This was not his first life or his first birth. Millions of years before, he had been a follower of a long-forgotten teaching “Buddha” – a fully “Enlightened One”. He had wished with all his heart to become a Buddha just like his beloved master.

He was reborn in many lives – sometimes as poor animals, sometimes as long-living gods and sometimes as human beings. He always tried to learn from his mistakes and develop the “Ten Perfections”. This was so he could purify his mind and remove the three root causes of unwholesomeness – the poisons of craving, anger and the delusion of a separate self. By using the perfections, he would some day be able to replace the poisons with the three purities – non-attachment, loving-kindness and wisdom.

This “Great Being” had been a humble follower of the forgotten Buddha. He goal was to gain the same enlightenment of a Buddha – the experience of complete Truth. So people call him “Bodhisattva”, which mans “Enlightenment Being”. No one really knows about the millions of lives lived by this great hero. But many stories have been told – including this one about a pregnant queen who was about to give birth to him. After many more rebirths, he became the Buddha who is remembered and loved in all the world today.

At the time of our story, the Enlightenment Being had already achieved the Ten Perfections. So the glory of his coming birth caused a trembling in all the heaven worlds, including the Heaven of 33 ruled by King Sakka. When he felt the trembling, being a god he knows it was caused by the unborn babe inside the disguised Queen of Mithila. And he knew this must be a being of great merit, so he decided to go and help out.

King Sakka made a covered carriage with a bed in it, and appeared at the roadside in front of the pregnant queen. He looked just like an ordinary old man. He called out, “Does anyone need a ride to Campa?” The homeless queen answered, “I wish to go there, kind sir.” “Come with me then,: the old man said.

Since the birth was not far off, the pregnant queen was quite large. She said, “I cannot climb up into your carriage. Simply carry my basket and I will walk behind.” The old man, the king of the gods, replied, “Never mind! Never Mind! I am the cleverest driver around. So don’t worry. Just step into my cart!”

Lo and behold, as she lifted her foot, King Sakka magically caused the ground under her to rise up! So she easily stepped down into the carriage. Immediately she knew this must be a god, and fell fast asleep.

Sakka drove the cart until he came to a river. Then he awakened the lady and said, “Wake up, daughter, and bathe in this river. Dress yourself in this fine clothing I have brought you. Then eat a packet of rice.” She obeyed him, and then lay downs and slept some more.

In the evening she awoke and saw tall houses and walls. She asked, “What is this city, father?” He said, “This is Campa.” King Sakka replied, “I took a short cut. Now that we are at the southern gate of the city, you may safely enter in. I must go on to my own far-off village.” So they parted and Sakka disappeared in the distance, returning to his heaven world.

The queen entered the city and sat down at an inn. There happened to be a wise man living in Campa. He recited spells and gave advice to help people who were sick or unfortunate. While on his way to bathe in the river with 500 followers, he was the beautiful queen from a distance. The great goodness of the unborn one within gave her a soft warm glow, which only the wise man noticed. At once he felt a kind and gentle liking for her, just as if where were his own youngest sister. So he left his followers outside and went into the inn.

He asked her, “Sister, what village are you from?” She replied, “I am the number one queen of King Badfruit of Mithila.”

He asked, “Then why did you come here?” “My husband was killed by the army of his brother, Prince Poorfruit,” she said. “I was afraid , so I ran away to protect the unborn one within me.” The wise man asked, “Do you have any relatives in this city?” She said, “No sir.” Then he said, “Dont worry at all. I was born in a rich family and I myself am rich. I will care for you just as I would for my own young sister. Now you must call me brother and grab hold of my feet and cry out.”

When she did this, the followers came inside. The wise man explained to them that she was his long lost youngest sister. He told his closest followers to take her to his home in a covered cart. He told them to tell his wife that this was his sister, who was to be cared for.

They did exactly as he had said. The wife welcomed her, gave her a hot bath, and made her rest in bed.

After bathing in the river the wise man returned home. At dinnertime he asked his sister to join them. After dinner he invited her to stay in his home.

In only a few days the queen gave birth to a wonderful little baby boy. She named him fruitful. She told the wise man this was the name of the boy’s grandfather, who had one been King of Mithila.

Excerpt: The Diamond Sutra

“Subhuti, someone might fill innumerable worlds with the seven treasures and give all away in gifts of alms, but if any good man or any good woman awakens the thought of Enlightenment and takes even only four lines from this Discourse, reciting, using, receiving, retaining and spreading them abroad and explaining them for the benefit of others, it will be far more meritorious. Now in what manner may he explain them to others? By detachment from appearances-abiding in Real Truth. -So I tell you-Thus shall you think of all this fleeting world:A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;A flash of lightening in a summer cloud,A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.When Buddha finished this Discourse the venerable Subhuti, together with the bhikshus, bhikshunis, lay-brothers and sisters, and the whole realms of Gods, Men and Titans, were filled with joy by His teaching, and, taking it sincerely to heart they went their ways.”
― Gautama Buddha, Diamond Sutra

A Little Of This… A Little Of That

So, I have had this entry in the hold folder for 4 months, heaven knows why. I have used it to put the odd piece in as I go along. It is a bit of this, and that, errata in all of the best/worst ways.  There are some tangents here that you might enjoy… Some of it I added today, The Kate Tempest video & poetry, the Nina Paley entries as well. Thanks goes out to Shaun Darius Gottlieb for the Nina Paley entries, and Fa Bi An for the Kate Tempest. I deeply appreciate your contributions!

I have been working on new publications, announcements soon.

I am also looking for stuff to do… got any projects? Publishing, Editing, Illustrating? Ping Me!

I hope this finds you well.
On The Menu:
Hey, it was Semi Legal!
Nina Paley: God-Mother
Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Dance of the Soul
The Sun Blindness – trip in a painted world
On Sorcery
The Sun Blindness – It’s Only 3am
Science Theories
Kate Tempest: Brand New Ancients (Extract)
Nina Paley: You Gotta Believe

Hey, it was Semi Legal!

So, in 1967, I went from someone exploring psychedelics to someone who sought to help others find what they wanted. I met some characters up from Austin Texas in Denver who arrived in a beater 1950 Chevrolet, with a boot/trunk full of gelatine capsules containing Peyote extract. 2 of these double 00 capsules and one would enter into the realm. I traveled around with them in Colorado, whilst they distributed their wares.

As our relationship deepened I started to fly from Colorado with suitcases of mescaline to San Francisco, to exchange for Owsley Acid to bring back so they could distribute in Texas. If we had only known, Stanley was living no more than a mile and a half away, producing LSD in Denver, whilst financing The Family Dog…

I never got paid money, I wasn’t looking for cash, but I handed out hundreds of free mescaline doses across the west.  I was on a roll…

At that time, when I was in Colorado, I would host people travelling from the east coast going west, and vice versa.  Along the way in mid summer I hosted a group coming from Millbrook New York, where Tim Leary,  Ralph Metzner & Richard Alpert (later Baba Ram Dass) had set up the Castalia Foundation a few years earlier… Now it was Tim & Rosemary there, with people coming through.  Anyway, 6 travellers showed up at my door one night, and I put them up for a couple of days.  Sweet people, all of them.  We spend a couple of days tripping together, and on the way out back to their car, one of them stops, and presses 4 capsules of a red crystalline substance into my hands.  “This is something special” he said, “it is Yage. Take it out in the countryside”.  I of course didn’t know what Yage was at that point.  I thanked them, and off they went to San Francisco.

A couple of days later, I flew out to the west coast again to deliver mescaline.  After I was done I flew down to L.A. on my way home.  I stopped off at friends commune.  Of course I had my bottle of mescaline caps, and at the top of the bottle wrapped in tin foil, the crystallized yage.  I tossed the bottle over to my friend Richard when I came in, saying, “Hey! Mescaline, share it around the group!” Then thinking, I said, “Except for those capsules in the tin foil! I am saving those for something special!”…. We talked for a bit, and I headed over to Fairfax to Canter’s to meet other friends.  I was up all night of course. After Canters it was on to Sunset Strip and hanging out until daytime..  It was normal for that time it seems.

When I came  back to the commune the next day, Richard grabbed me and took me aside…. “I have to apologize, I took the capsules in the tin foil before you told us not to…. what was in it?” I asked, “Why?” He just stood there for a minute, composing himself and then speaking quietly, quickly, it just spilled out… “I took the red ones, and topped it off with 2 of the mescaline caps. in about a half hour it kicked in, and then I was in a place I had never been before with Acid, or anything!” “I was tripping, and then all of a sudden, I was in a jungle.  I realized I was a jaguar following a caiman or a crocodile…. and then I transformed into an anaconda following the jaguar… and then I looked up into the sky, and I became a great eagle flying over the jungle and the mountains!” “I passed into a great light after that, and woke up this morning!”

“Damn” I thought… “Sorry to have missed that”… I assured him it was okay.  It was not until reading Michael Harner’s (Bless his soul) works later on did I know what happened to my friend.

Modern Note: As I see it, someone in Millbrook or elsewhere had gotten ahold of some Caapi Vine, and reduced it down to crystalline levels, and capped it.  When Richard mixed the mescaline with it, there was a great synergy produced, not unlike the traditional mix of Caapi & P. Viridis…. If I recall, some tribes on the eastern slopes of the Andes combine Caapi with San Pedro (there might be the precedent!)  I don’t know how safe it is though… 

Back To The Past:  Well, we hung out the rest of the day before I caught the next flight out to Denver.  (Richard and I had further adventures, but those are for another time.)

Flying back into Denver, I decided it was time to head up into the mountains to a cabin the Mescaline Crew had, but that is an adventure for another time.

Nina Paley. An Amazing Artist/Visionary:


The Black Sun (detail), illustration by an unknown artist from the alchemical treatise “Splendor Solis”, 1582.

“I have loved in life and I have been loved.
I have drunk the bowl of poison from the hands of love as nectar,
and have been raised above life’s joy and sorrow.
My heart, aflame in love, set afire every heart that came in touch with it.
My heart has been rent and joined again;
My heart has been broken and again made whole;
My heart has been wounded and healed again;
A thousand deaths my heart has died, and thanks be to love, it lives yet.
I went through hell and saw there love’s raging fire,
and I entered heaven illumined with the light of love.
I wept in love and made all weep with me;
I mourned in love and pierced the hearts of men;
And when my fiery glance fell on the rocks, the rocks burst forth as volcanoes.
The whole world sank in the flood caused by my one tear;
With my deep sigh the earth trembled, and when I cried aloud the name of my beloved,
I shook the throne of God in heaven.
I bowed my head low in humility, and on my knees I begged of love,
“Disclose to me, I pray thee, O love, thy secret.”
She took me gently by my arms and lifted me above the earth, and spoke softly in my ear,
“My dear one, thou thyself art love, art lover,
and thyself art the beloved whom thou hast adored.”
― Hazrat Inayat Khan, The Dance of the Soul–

On Sorcery:

In my life and wanderings I have encountered sorcerers….  They do not announce their presence, though if you are sensitive to them you’ll feel their presence and influence fairly quickly.  They use a variety of tools, mostly those tools that are concealed, but… the tools are always used for their gain, and not necessarily on the material plane…

Some emanate danger, and sometimes, this can be perceived at a great distance. One day I will tell a story of one such being whose influence could be felt across a great distance,  it is quite the story. Some emanate charm, and these are the ones to watch for.

If one ventures down the spiritual path… do so with caution, and with good intent. If you venture into the roads of magick, do it for community, and especially with love.  Observe yourself, and your actions.

Science Theories:

Scientific theory evolves as it goes along. As late as 1902 scientist were explaining that powered flight would never be possible. We constantly hear this is not possible, and that is not possible and then there is a break through of consciousness, and yes it is possible, and yes it does exist.

The more we learn the greater our ignorance as we uncover new secrets, and out of these greater questions arise. It is the natural order of things.

Because something falls outside of the explanations of current science, does not invalidate it’s possible expression or existance. We have just not applied ourselves enough in that direction…..

We may indeed come up against mysteries that have no explanation. That, is the real event horizon…
From: Fa Bi An (thank you so much!)
Kate Tempest
I am in awe of this:

An Extract:

from Brand New Ancients

The stories are here,
the stories are you,
and your fear
and your hope
is as old
as the language of smoke,
the language of blood,
the language of
languishing love.
The Gods are all here.
Because the gods are in us.
The gods are in the betting shops
the gods are in the caff
the gods are smoking fags out the back
the gods are in the office blocks
the gods are at their desks
the gods are sick of always giving more and getting less
the gods are at the rave –
two pills deep into dancing –
the gods are in the alleyway laughing
the gods are at the doctor’s
they need a little something for the stress
the gods are in the toilets having unprotected sex
the gods are in the supermarket
the gods are walking home,
the gods can’t stop checking Facebook on their phones
the gods are in a traffic jam
the gods are on the train
the gods are watching adverts
the gods are not to blame –
they are working for the council
now they’re on the dole
now they’re getting drunk pissing their wages down a hole
the gods are in their gardens
with their decking and their plants
the gods are in the classrooms
the poor things don’t stand a chance
they are trying to tell the truth
but the truth is hard to say
the gods are born, they live a while
and then they pass away.
They lose themselves in crowds, their guts are full of rot.
They hope there’s something more to life but can’t imagine
These gods have got no oracles to translate their requests,
these gods have got a headache and a payment plan and
stress about
when next they’ll see their kids,
they are not fighting over favourites –
they’re just getting on with it.
We are the Brand New Ancients.

from Brand New Ancients

Her name’s Gloria,
she works behind the bar
pulling pints for the locals
down the Albert and Victoria.
She’s happy in her way, she don’t expect too much from life.
She believes that everybody deserves to be treated right.
She used to be a troubled type with a look in her eyes
that invited looks from the guys
that she’d meet every night in the bars
that she went to with her best mate Jemma;
they swore they were gonna be best mates forever –
they loved each other, did everything together,
they used to run riot, a couple proper little terrors.
But then Jemma stopped calling her quite so much
‘cos Jemma got into going protests and stuff.
Jemma wanted the world to change,
she was 16 and smarter than most girls her age,
so while she was reading books and hanging out on picket
Gloria was sniffing lines
hooking up with different guys.
Jemma wanted to go uni; she started studying hard
and the two of them just drifted apart.
Glory ran away from home when she was 17,
he was supposed to be the man of her dreams:
he had a smile like a jewel in a sewer,
knuckles like an open tool box,
eyes like Kahlúa –
he made her feel like he was the only one who ever knew her
and when he told a lie nothing ever seemed truer.
Then one day she was in a state in a heap on the floor,
wiping the blood off her jaw,
thinking I deserve more.
At the time she might have been convinced it was love
but these days, she barely even thinks of him much.
She’s the kind of girl whose scars run deep
but if she smiles at you for a second it’ll last you all week.
She don’t compare herself to others,
she believes everybody has their own strengths;
if she was a statue she’d be less marble, more cement.
She’s straightforward, no-nonsense, she just wants people
to be honest,
she don’t have no time for pretenders and she’s never broke
a promise.
from Brand New Ancients

Polish the silverware, dust off the telly screen,
it’s holy hour on Saturday evening,
the new Dionysus is in his dressing room preening,
the make-up girls hold their breath as they dream him
into a perfect bronze and then leave him
to his pre-show routine of stretching and breathing.
He winks in the mirror as he flosses his teeth,
pulls his trousers up to his nipples and strides out to the stage.
The permatanned God of our age.
We kneel down before him, we beg him for pardon,
mothers feast on the raw flesh of their children struck by
the madness
that floods the whole country, this provocation to savagery.
Let’s all get famous. I need to be more than just this.
Give me my glory. A double page spread.
Let people weep when they hear that I’m dead.
Let people sleep in the street for a glimpse of my head
as I walk the red carpet into the den of the blessed.
Why celebrate this? Why not denigrate this?
I don’t know the names of my neighbours,
but I know the names of the rich and the famous.
And the names of their ex-girlfriends
and their ex-girlfriends’ new boyfriends.
Now, watch him shaking his head, he is furious:
how dare this contestant have thought for a second
that this godhead, this champion of unnatural selection,
should be subjected to another version
of a bridge over fucking troubled water.
I stare at the screen and I hear the troubadours sing
the Deeds of Simon. He took the eyes from our heads
and blamed us for our blindness.
Why is this interesting? Why are we watching?
Thanks To Shaun Darius Gottlieb
(Nina Paley, Again…)

Poet of Plants

“Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
– Buddha

One of my old T-shirt designs…

Salvia Eyes – Gwyllm

It has been quite a week. Working on The Invisible College Magazine, and other related projects. Still not 100% healthwise, but trying to get there. Weirdness hanging on into the 3rd week. Ack. Anyway, here is a second entry on the passing of Dale Pendell. As it happens, things come into focus a bit better as time goes along.

On The Menu:
On Meeting Dale
Dale Pendell: How I got involved with psychedelics
Dale Pendell Books
Interview: The Poet of Plants
Poetry: Dale & Laura

Salvia Vision… Gwyllm

On Meeting Dale:
The Breitenbush Salvia Conference

We met as I have mentioned before at The Salvia Conference at Breitenbush Hot Springs.  I was quite excited to attend the conference as a participant and as a vendor.  I got a hold of Rob Montgomery, and applied for a vendor spot to sell my T-Shirts, specifically my Salvia Divinorum designs. Strangely, I didn’t hear back. I thought little on it, purchasing my ticket, finishing up my printing and arranging to drive friends up to Breitenbush with me, Will Penna, and one other. I had talked to John Winslow of Om-Chi Herbs, and others… I was finally going to meet all of these wonderful people who I had been talking to on line for the last few years. So excited! Will came into town, and one other guy who sadly I cannot remember his name, we hung for a bit at Caer Llwydd, and then drove down I-5 to Salem, and then east towards Detroit Lake. Before Detroit Lake, we turned off to Breitenbush. It was December if I recall, and quite beautiful.

Well, we arrived, it was like a winter wonderland, little cabins, a main lodge, snow, trees, the usual Oregon winter. There were people from across the country, out of the country, and the presenters were Ralph Metzner, Jonathan Ott, Rob Montgomery, Daniel Siebert, Kat Harrison, Dale Pendell, Bret Blosser. It promised to be a great gathering (and it turned out to be!)

Anyway, I made my way to the vendors section. My friend John Winslow was setting up, and I looked for my table. It was not to be found, John offered me some space on his, and I pulled out my shirts. Along comes Rob, and tells me I can’t vend… which was disappointing to say the least. I packed my stuff up, even as I had all kinds of people wanting to buy my various shirts. I soon found out why… on receiving my request, Rob had told his sons’ about T-Shirts, and he decided they would sell theirs rather than allowing me to sell. Hilarity ensued. As the conference went on, more and more people came to my cabin to buy shirts. Soon almost every other person at the event had my shirts on, much to the consternation of Rob. It worked out in the end, and I got a long email apology from him. He was a good guy, and this is not a put down on him, it was just really odd the way it worked out…

But, I am here to talk about meeting Dale. The conference went on, there were great talks given by all of the presenters. I finally introduced myself to Dale, who I had an ongoing conversation with via email over the previous couple of years. We stood there talking with the crowd swirling around us. The discussion was very nice, and along the way Dale started to stutter. You can read about it, he mentions it many times in various missives. Well, he started to stutter, and as I answered him so did I. He started to get pissed at me thinking that I was mocking him. A little known fact though emerges from this: I have had a lifelong stutter, which only occurs in a couple of situations; high stress, and when I am talking to someone else who stutters. When I told him that I stuttered he reached out, and hugged me. This is the short tale of how we became friends. A shared condition, and shared interest.

We never stopped corresponding after that. When The Sacred Elixirs’ Conference came to be 5 years later Laura & Dale, Mary & yers truly finally got to spend 3-4 days together. Things just fell into place then…

There will be a memorial for Dale on April 14th up on the San Juan Ridge…  North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center on Tyler Foote Road in North San Juan, CA.

North Columbia Schoolhouse Cultural Center

We are planning to be there. Hope to meet you all there as well.

Much  Love,

Here are some of Dales’ Books along with short reviews, and sourcing them if you like.  I suggest all of them, great writing, wonderful speculations, information and style.  Yeah Style.  Amazing.

Dale Pendell Books:
The Big Three:
The Pharmaco Series should be on every Entheothusiast bookshelf. Beautiful, could be likened to Homer’s Odyssey in that these volumes of poetry chart seas both mysterious and revealing.

Pharmako/Poeia: Plant Powers, Poisons, and Herbcraft includes a new introduction by the author and as in previous editions focuses on familiar psychoactive plant-derived substances and related synthetics, ranging from the licit (tobacco, alcohol) to the illicit (cannabis, opium) and the exotic (absinthe, salvia divinorum, nitrous oxide). Each substance is explored in detail, not only with information on its history, pharmacology, preparation, and cultural and esoteric correspondences, but also the subtleties of each plant’s effect on consciousness in a way that only poets can do. The whole concoction is sprinkled with abundant quotations from famous writers, creating a literary brew as intoxicating as its subject.

Pharmako/Dynamis: Stimulating Plants, Potions, and Herbcraft includes a new introduction by the author and as in previous editions focuses on stimulants (including coffee, tea, chocolate, and coca and its derivatives) and empathogens (notably Ecstasy). Each substance is explored in detail, not only with information on its history, pharmacology, preparation, and cultural and esoteric correspondences, but also the subtleties of each plant’s effect on consciousness in a way that only poets can do. The whole concoction is sprinkled with abundant quotations from famous writers, creating a literary brew as intoxicating as its subject.

Pharmako/Gnosis: Plant Teachers and the Poison Path includes a new introduction by the author and as in previous editions focuses on plant-based and derivative psychedelic “teachers” (including ayahuasca, peyote, LSD, and DMT) and on the “poison path” of substances such as belladonna, ketamine, and ibogaine. Each substance is explored in detail, not only with information on its history, pharmacology, preparation, and cultural and esoteric correspondences, but also the subtleties of each plant’s effect on consciousness in a way that only poets can do.The whole concoction is sprinkled with abundant quotations from famous writers, creating a literary brew as intoxicating as its subject.

The Great Bay:
I have read this 3 times. It gives more on each reading. 16 thousand years of speculation is wrapped up in this volume.

***WINNER, Best Science Fiction, 2010 Green Book Festival

Based in scientific reality, Dale Pendell presents a powerful fictional vision of a fast-approaching future in which sea levels rise and a decimated population must find new ways to live. The Great Bay begins in 2021 with a worldwide pandemic followed by the gradual rising of the seas. Pendell’s vision is all encompassing—he describes the rising seas’ impact on countries and continents around the world. But his imaginative storytelling focuses on California. A “great bay” forms in California’s Central Valley and expands during a 16,000-year period. As the years pass, and technology seems to regress, even memory of a “precollapse” world blends into myth. Grizzly bears and other large predators return to the California hills, and civilization reverts to a richly imagined medieval society marked by guilds and pilgrimages, followed even later by hunting and gathering societies. Pendell’s focus is on the lives of people struggling with love, wars, and physical survival thousands of years in California’s future. He deftly mixes poetic imagery, news-reporting-style writing, interviews with survivors, and maps documenting the geographic changes. In the end, powerful human values that have been with us for 40,000 years begin to reemerge and remind us that they are desperately needed—in the present.

Walking With Nobby
Cultural Writing. Essays. Biography and Memoir. Dale Pendell and retired professor Norman Brown, during walks taken along the coast of California, discuss many concepts and characters, including paganism and world religions, Dionysus, Marx, and Freud, presented here as footnoted conversations. Norman O. Brown (1913-2002) was an American scholar born in El Oro, Mexico. He studied at Oxford University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison and taught at Wesleyan University and the University of California, Santa Cruz. “Dr. Brown was a master of philosophical speculation, mixing Marx, Freud, Jesus and much else to raise and answer immense questions” (Douglas Martin). Writer Dale Pendell was a student and friend of Brown.

Inspired Madness: The Gifts of Burning Man:
This book has a real dreamlike quality to it. Why it wasn’t an official part of the Burning Man package is beyond me…

In part a nonfiction discussion of the Burning Man festival, in part a poetic romp through Nevada’s Black Rock desert, Inspired Madness is both an irreverent introduction for those curious about the notorious event and an exhilarating reminiscence for veteran “burners.” Loosely structured around a week at Burning Man, the book combines a history of the festival with personal stories and social commentary, juxtaposing images and stories to capture a sense of the wild and unpredictable nature of life on the Playa. Throughout the week, readers are taken on a memorable ride, exploring the festival itself and meeting Owl, an eccentric beatnik and one of the organizers of the Delphic Delirium Camp: Lolo, Jah, Scarlett, and other larger-than-life figures. Interweaving dialogue, anecdotes, and stream-of-consciousness narrative with historical, sociological, and political observation, Inspired Madness evokes the half-waking, half-dreaming quality of the Burning Man experience.

Salting The Boundaries:
A favourite of mine, hey I even get a mention in it! 😛 Anyway, a superb poetry book. Worth the admission cost.

Poetry. As a kind of stewardship and seasonal ritual, Dale Pendell takes us through the four seasons at his home in the Sierra foothills of northern California as he “salts the boundaries” of his property and his life, “keeping them clean,” as he puts it. No stranger to ancient culture(s) or rituals, the author writes a modern poetry that is, at once, contemporary and Celtic in its detail and focus on cultural and environmental sustainability (or the lack thereof). Drawing a circle around the seasons, Pendell finishes this poem-cycle with poems of winter. In his preface to the winter section he writes, “In California and other ‘Mediterranean’ climates, winter is when it rains. Fires are in the stove. It’s a good time for writing, and books.”

“I’m glad I cleared the desktop and spread out and read all of SALTING THE BOUNDARIES this evening. These are all new poems to me, and new in tone, style, vocabulary. The breadth of knowledge and concern, mythopoetic, geologic, historic, et al is splendid. & your wild salmon poem: I’m so glad you did that. I had been idly dreaming of something like that for years but never got to it. This is an impressive gathering, and a welcome surprise for me.”—Gary Snyder

Equations Of Power:
This is a distinctly quirky little poetry book. Excellent price IMO. It sits on my shelf, and is always happy to be taken down and read…

Contains eleven of Dale Pendell’s poems on physics and other scientific subjects. There can’t have been VERY many poems written honoring differential equations!

The Language of Birds Some Notes on Chance and Divination:
I adore this book. It hardly ever gets put back on the bookshelf, as it is on my table next to my bed for reading. This is a very magickal volume.

Honourable Mentions:
Eros, the Muse & Other Poisons: Explorations in Relationship and the Greek Lyric
Seeking Faust: Find it here Seeking Faust
Lunar Meanders
Seeding The New Year

There are several small books out there as well, limited editions generally. Very collectable!

From The L.A. Times, back in 2003.
This article came out just after Dale was scheduled to come up to Portland for a Mini-Conference that I had set up… just after his move to the land… he developed pneumonia, and couldn’t come up, sending Mike Crowley up in his stead. We missed having Dale, but Mike gave a heck of a good talk.
– G

The Poet of Plants

Dale Pendell Has Written Two Books on Botanical Pharmacopeia That Resonate With a Lusty Wit. He May Be America’s Answer to Blake, Coleridge and Wordsworth, Right Down to the Opium.
– Emily Green

The first conversation with Dale Pendell is like an overseas telephone call with a lag on the line. I speak. He listens. He thinks. Then he responds in such perfectly formed sentences that I can almost hear the commas.

The stilted speech is surprising. As a writer, Pendell is so fluent that he can make a list of drug side-effects sound interesting, a feat he routinely performed in his two books. Delve deeper into his work and you find poetry, beautiful poetry.

Pendell, 56, has been writing since the 1960s, but his work is little known. I discovered it last spring while serving as a judge for the 2003 Pen Awards overseeing the “Creative Nonfiction” category. As a case containing 57 books arrived at the office for consideration, two things worried me. The amount of reading and the “creative” part. Nonfiction is hard enough to get right when it’s written the old-fashioned way, straight up–who, where, why, when.

As it turned out, the books were at least 50% hard-luck stories, most of them trenchant. There was a war correspondent who got shot, an equestrienne whose leg was crushed by her horse, a profoundly moving brace of Korean stories of search for identity after diaspora. Daniel Ellsberg was there, recounting the events that led to the leaking of the Pentagon papers. There were a couple of biographies, wisecracking sociology from a newspaper columnist and ruminations on the essence of the West.

Then there was Pendell. In his 2002 book “Pharmako/Dynamis,” he merrily rolls out the pharmacology, history and botany behind a host of mind-altering drugs, including Psilocybe mushrooms, peyote, coffee, tea, heroin, Ecstasy, wine, tobacco and absinthe. They are classed by the nature of the high: “phantastica,” “exitantia,” “inebriantia” and others–or, in plain English, tripping, speeding, drunk and so on. Almost every drug is taken back to a plant source, and that plant’s trading history.

At the outset of judging, I wondered if Pendell was in the right category. Three months later, as the judging committee argued over finalists, I became convinced that his was the only book that actually met the brief of creative nonfiction. Yet, on the face of it, it was a dictionary, mainly of controlled substances. “A reference,” read one judge’s comments.

You can certainly look things up in it, including safety measures for taking Ecstasy, or how to score an opium poppy and apply the harvest in interesting places. But it wasn’t like any reference I’d ever seen. Pendell borrowed just as freely from pharmaceutical industry texts as medieval herbals. He used poetry, classical plant taxonomy, chemical equations, prose, anecdotes, jokes, slogans–whatever worked. The prose was indecently interesting, angry and eloquent, like that of a young Christopher Hitchens. The poetry was enigmatic one moment, lusty the next, witty, passionate–whatever it felt like.

Structurally, however, it was odd. It was, arguably, half a book, a continuation of Pendell’s companion volume, “Pharmako/Poeia.” When this appeared in 1995, the good and the great of the Bay Area Beat movement came out in support of it. Allen Ginsberg wrote a review for the jacket, calling it, among a long string of things, “an epic poem on plant humors.” Pulitzer prize-winning poet Gary Snyder supplied the introduction. The synthesizer of Ecstasy, Berkeley scientist Alexander Shulgin, gave his imprimatur to the chemistry. Yet there were no reviews in the major press. It has sold 12,000 copies in eight years, which would be a handsome figure for a Junior League cookbook.

The publication of “Pharmako/Dynamis” last year received slightly more recognition. Richard Gehr of the Village Voice called Pendell “the best writer on drugs to come along since the late Terence McKenna charted the beautiful and terrifying ‘invisible landscapes’ revealed by DMT and psilocybin mushrooms.”

Drug writer. Hard to argue. But what does that make his book? It reads so smoothly, its structure almost escapes notice. Under autopsy, however, there it is. The element that keeps the various information flowing is poetry. There is a narrator, like a Greek chorus, or in this case, a heckler, who prompts the greater text to sing in different voices. How many books manage witty asides that can jump into chemical signatures, then take off into a hallucinatory odyssey about crack cocaine, seamlessly?

The voting was long over, and my argument for Pendell as a finalist had prevailed, before the obvious dawned on me. Ginsberg was right in his volcanic blurb for “Pharmako/Poeia.” It was an epic poem. So is the sequel. I went back and pored over the construction of both books. The author of the head shop encyclopedia began to look less like a writer on drugs and more like an original Western Romantic, an American answer to Blake, Coleridge and Wordsworth, right down to the opium.

We meet on a july afternoon on the porch of his new cabin in the Sierra. He’s just moved to the mountains from Oakland. Most of his belongings are still in packing boxes. It’s midday, 100 degrees, the valley opposite shimmers with heat and a licorice-like scent hangs in the air from the baked scrub.

Pendell is taller than the jacket pictures suggest, lean, a born climber who hops easily from boulder to boulder on a stone outcropping near his house. I expect a wild woodsman, but instead he’s more textbook Berkeley, with twin earrings and slightly bushy eyebrows, the sort usually found on Englishmen in Victorian cartoons. When he listens, he tilts his head graciously toward his guest, like an interested minister.

He is, it turns out, the son of a minister. He has just returned from Orange County from a memorial service for his father, Thomas Roy Pendell, a life-long Methodist pastor who served at seven Southern California parishes. He seems relieved to be home, but apologizes for what he says is a cold he caught on the plane.

He suggests that we set ground rules for when the interview turns to illegal drugs, but then he doesn’t ask for any. Eventually, he has two specific requests. Could we not name the town where he lives and could we point out that though he spent time in jail for smuggling marijuana, he asked for and received a full presidential pardon? It was from Ronald Reagan and signed by a Justice Department official named Rudolph Giuliani.

We have been speaking for an hour before the first stutter erupts. It happens when the subject turns to the city where he spent puberty. “The Methodists move their pastors around,” he says, “so we moved to various places, including SSSSSSan Diego.”

Later, when I ask him about it, he says that he stuttered strongly as a child. “I never committed suicide, but I thought about it,” he says. “I wouldn’t use the telephone. I never wanted to introduce myself to anybody. I was morbidly shy.”

His father’s household was run according to scripture. Drink was off limits, as in: “It Is Good Neither To Eat Flesh Nor To Drink Wine, Nor Any Thing Whereby Thy Brother Stumbleth, Or Is Offended, Or Is Made Weak.” Romans, 14:21.

However, Pendell couldn’t help but wonder what Paul meant in Romans 14:13: “I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean of itself” and Verse 20, in which he reiterates, “all things are indeed pure.” In 1964, age 17, still legally a minor, Dale Pendell left home and plunged headlong into all that purity out there.

Enrollment as a physics major at UC Santa Barbara lasted only a semester. He was rapt at the sheer elegance of physical equations, but already slipping toward poetry, raunchily. “I was at the southern end of the filthy speech movement,” he says. “It wasn’t filthy speech, though. It was just good erotica that I would post in my dormitory window. People would come by and read and think, ‘Oh, this is today’s offering,’ ” he says. “Anyway, I ended up in the dean’s office.” The stutter disappeared in front of the dean, he says. “Something about deans and police brings out my eloquence.”

He left Santa Barbara thumb-first. First stop, Berkeley. Then he crossed the country to New York with the writer Larry Beinhart (Beinhart, he explains, wrote the book “Wag the Dog,” adding appreciatively, “Good mystery writer.”)

By 18, Pendell was a heroin addict and had begun smuggling marijuana from Mexico to the U.S. He was so high while trafficking 200 pounds of Gold Brick, or enough pot to make a donkey groan, alarm bells didn’t sound when a window blind opened in a motel room next to his and he got a glimpse of a wall-mounted tape-recorder. Two separate arrests led to a four-month jail term in a Mexican prison, and a year-long one in Texas.

The addict’s whisper opens “Pharmako/Poeia.”


I hear you.

(any cops around?)

These are just words.

(yeah right …

any prospective

employers around?)

I don’t want to hear this

(then why did you call me?)

Back in Berkeley by 1967, Pendell says, “I finally realized that heroin was affecting my luck.” He retreated to the mountains. “I hiked up as far as I could. I wanted to be as far away as I could from people. I stayed there as long as I could. I took as much LSD as I could. All of the hatred kind of fell into the earth.”

He spent the next 14 years in and out of the California mountains, first on a mining claim in the Trinity Alps, near the Oregon border. He panned enough gold to make jewelry and gather material for his first anthology of poetry, “Gold-Dust Wilderness.” He hiked among the ponderosa pines and became friendly with an old-timer named Red Barnes, who Pendell couldn’t help but notice used to mentholate his tobacco using a local plant, Salvia sonomensis.

This, he says, is when it struck him that he didn’t know anything about the plants that covered the hillsides: their names, their properties, if you could smoke them, what happened then. “I wanted to know what the most common plants were,” he says, “the ones that didn’t have showy flowers, or any flowers at all, and weren’t in any of the those wildflower books.”

He began charting the anatomy of the hillside, collecting, pressing and drying plants, beginning what would become over the next 10 years a large herbarium. In the process, he got the idea for a book. He wanted to look at power plants, plants whose fruits are so dominant in our society we don’t even see them, or think of ourselves as taking drugs, like when we jolt ourselves awake with coffee.

In 1974, Pendell moved south, to the central ranges and Nevada County. Here a group of back-to-the-landers, led by poet Gary Snyder, the inspiration for Jack Kerouac’s “Dharma Bums,” were forming a poetry community. The following year, Snyder would win a Pulitzer Prize for for his poetry anthology “Turtle Island.”

Pendell used his plant know-how to start making and bottling an organic spruce root beer. The proceeds went to start a poetry magazine, Kyoi-Kuksu: Journal of Backcountry Writing.

Pendell studied Buddhism with Snyder, a discipline that to Western Romantics was what Unitarianism had been centuries earlier to Coleridge. Still, the most touching moments in the Pharmako series capture Pendell and Snyder not meditating, but partying. This is buried in the reference section of “Pharmako/Dynamis”: “Illustrating how any song written in ballad meter could be sung to any ballad tune, Gary Snyder once sang for me Blake’s ‘Mock on, Mock on, Voltaire Rousseau’ to the tune of ‘Mary Hamilton,’ ‘Barbara Allen’ and the ‘House of the Rising Sun.’

“Actually,” Pendell adds gleefully, “Blake violates the fourteener in the second line and it works better if you drop the second spondee.”

It was Snyder who helped a then-28-year-old Pendell finally subdue the stutter. “We were going to do a reading as a benefit for the magazine in Nevada City at the American Victorian Museum,” Pendell remembers. “Gary agreed to read at it, and a number of other fine poets. I was terrified. What was I going to do? Gary said, ‘Don’t worry, just read from the gut.’ ” Words came. Since then, says Pendell, fluency has been a “a continuous practice. If I start, I have to keep a channel open to where it all comes from, or I can’t talk at all.”

Hence, the long-distance effect, those perfect sentences.

In 1974, Pendell married Snyder’s assistant, Merle Goodkind, and became a father to her 2 1/2 year-old old son, Isaac. Asked what she did for a living, Pendell responds, “Her specialty was grace.” Later they had a daughter, Marici.

Pendell wrote this for Goodkind in 1975, a year after they met. It is called “Spring Song” and reads like a wedding vow.

Flowers know:

open with the first sun;

crack the drudgery,

drying soil,

quick as they can.

Pines sprout:

know water won’t last,

no time to waste

in the hasty spring.

Birds know:

songs rise with the morning.

we, also.

Come let’s kiss the greening-

tomorrow’s feet are lost to labor-

Brush our backs against the sun;

lie together, let these mountains

Rush, beneath us, back to sea.

Poetry is like modern art. A lot of people can’t tell whether it’s good or not. Allen Ginsberg thought that Pendell’s was good, and admired the pluck behind the root beer journal enough to contribute his own work. “We were first publication of some of Allen’s poems,” says Pendell. “Then he would send certain people my direction.”

Pendell kept the journal going six years. He built a cabin on rented land. His family got by–just. By 1981, he says, his “allotted time in heaven” had expired. Merle had lupus and needed better health care. They had two young children. He shut the magazine, sold the root beer company and moved to Santa Cruz to pursue a double major in creative writing and computer science at the UC campus there.

It led him to his second great mentor, philosopher Norman O’Brown. Pendell was in awe of O’Brown’s 1966 book “Love’s Body.” After a chance meeting, the philosopher pursued a friendship with Pendell because he was interested in plants. “We walked together a great deal,” says Pendell. “I used to show off by quoting poems by heart. He would answer back in Greek.”

This time as a student, Pendell finished both university degrees, with honors. When he graduated, a linguistics professor suggested, “Why don’t you support your poetry habit with programming?” For the next four years, Pendell wrote paper jam recovery programs instead of poetry. He scolded his now teenage son Isaac for smoking pot. It took Isaac to point out that he was becoming conventional, he says.

“I’d say, ‘Well, pot’s much stronger now.’ ”

In 1989, a three-week trip to the Amazon reminded Pendell of the old Trinity Alps idea for the book on power plants. It would be a pharmacopeia, a Greek term meaning “book of drugs, with directions how to make them.” Conventional pharmacopeias deal with what would have been in Pendell’s father’s medicine box. Pendell’s would embrace his, and beyond. He had only one line playing in his head like a mantra. “Tobacco, marijuana, then you’re in the jungle.”

He programmed by day and wrote by night. “The idea was that through immersion in each plant, something would come across in my style that would create a signature for the plant,” he says. “For example, the stimulant chapter turned out to be the longest.”

In January 1993, the book was almost halfway written when Isaac, then 22, died in a snowboarding accident. There is a gut-wrenching passage in “Pharmako/Poeia,” when Pendell, terrified and tripping, finally faces his son’s death. His marriage to Goodkind was never the same after Isaac died, he says.

When Pendell finished the first half of the book, Gary Snyder’s editor, Jack Shoemaker, sent sample chapters to Mercury House, a nonprofit San Francisco press. Pendell thought it was a prank when its publisher, Tom Christiansen, phoned to accept the book. “I said, ‘Come on, who is this?’ ”

The commission enabled Pendell to take a sabbatical from the software job to finish writing. Six months later, as rough drafts circulated among Pendell’s friends, there was confusion and shock. There was even a chapter on huffing solvents. Norman O’Brown asked him to take it out. “He said, ‘Everyone will know it’s a drug book,’ ” says Pendell.

Pendell left it in. “I thought of the information that I came across–that not all solvents are alike, some are much more dangerous than others–as harm reduction. I may reach somebody. The message: use toluene not gasoline, or better yet, nitrous oxide. Use ether, not chloroform.”

The text unnerved Mercury House sufficiently to affix this cautionary note: “A manuscript draft of Pharmako/Poeia caused us some concern. The author of this remarkable work was clearly exploring perilous terrain along his ‘Poison Path.’ This is a route we strongly advise others not to follow (except through this book, and through other approaches that lead in the direction of wisdom without dangerous self-experimentation).”

Pendell had his own definitions of danger, which come across plainly in the chapters that follow. “Huffers,” he speculated, “probably have an interesting terminology to describe the subtle differences of effects [between solvents], and it would be worth recording, if you could find an informant who is still articulate.” The chapter is the only one in his books where readers will find the words, “get off and get help.”

But with other drugs, he experimented freely on himself. Salvia divinorum, or “diviner’s sage,” only really kicked in, he reported, when he accidentally doubled the dose. The entry for wormwood begins, “The first effect was loosening of the sinuses . . . . Much stronger than the Japanese wasabi horseradish . . . . After some minutes I noticed that I wasn’t writing anything. I was just staring off into space. And the space was beautiful. The light was brighter. Mottled sunlight filtering down through the walnut tree. . . . The light was different, softer and more intense at the same time. I felt great, actually. I gazed around my studio and spent a lot of time looking at my painting . . . . A little tightness in the head and around the eyes.”

There is a recipe to make absinthe from scratch, and a time-saving alternative where you only have to doctor the Pernod.

The potential for ridicule is not lost on him. “Timothy Leary had a joke about LSD research,” he says. “You couldn’t write about LSD with any authority if you hadn’t tried it. On the other hand, if you had tried it, then how could anyone trust what you said?”

But for Pendell, the more ridiculous thing would be reporting on LSD without having taken it. “The approach is phenomenological,” he says. “We’re trying to work with what’s happening in real time and somehow convey that.” The science behind play is tricky territory. Pendell is not above trotting out ten-dollar words for instant authority.

As the book was revised and finally published, it was dedicated to Isaac. Along with Ginsberg and Ecstasy chemist Shulgin, actor Peter Coyote supplied a jacket blurb. Their task: somehow prime the public for the book.

I suggest to Pendell that he’s still trying to shock the dean. He nods and laughs in agreement. “I stated at my father’s memorial service that maybe I’ll emerge from adolescence in the next decade.”

Then I ask if he’s not also trying to shock us. Why he doesn’t do drugs the understood way? Secretly? Is he not simply a reflexive contrarian? Again, an acknowledging laugh. “Norman O’Brown gave me a lot of trouble that way,” he says. “He said, ‘At least I’m not working out my Oedipus complex with drugs.’ ”

But as the door opens for a defense of drugs, Pendell has one ready and it’s serious. The stumbling brother debate may have started with his father, he says, but now it’s with the world. It’s at the heart of his work. It’s over what gets banned, what doesn’t, and the War on Drugs. “It’s not that if you make a place for Dionysian energy, this kind of wild and unpredictable God, that everything will go OK,” he says. “That’s not true at all. But the cost of trying to suppress it is even worse. Then you sacrifice your own children.

“In the United States today we now have more people in prison than any other country on a per capita basis. The majority of these are for drug crimes. It’s a war against ourselves. It’s a war against our children. It was problematical for the Greeks but at least they came to recognize you have to admit a certain amount of chaos. You can’t try to live risk free. If you try to live completely risk free you’re going to destroy what you had. What’s a really secure environment? San Quentin is pretty secure.”

Society, he says, is police enough. “The solution is to let it be worked out by the culture. Peer pressure. Societal norms. Everyone knows that if you take a drink first thing in the morning, it’s not a good thing.”

But aren’t his books encouraging people to do drugs? “Encouragement is the big full-page ads in High Times,” he says. He has plenty of readers who don’t do drugs at all, he says. Bye the bye, he adds shortly afterward, he’s not exactly stoned all the time, either.

The irony, says Pendell, is that writing books about drugs largely requires staying off them. Plus, we grow out of them, he thinks. Heroin affected his luck. He’s at an age where he’s got to think of his liver when it comes to alcohol. LSD was a “great blessing” in his life, he says, but one of its teachings is to stop doing it. Marijuana can be useful on very rare occasions. He has one tobacco cigarette a day. But he won’t say no to an afternoon glass of home-brewed absinthe.

He offers one to illustrate the benignity of the drink, and I think to see if I’ll accept it. I do, curiously. After an hour, though it is getting later, everything seems just a little brighter. “There’s something about mottled light,” he says. “The change to the absinthe drinkers, you suddenly have light breaking out of everywhere.” Pendell reckons you can explain all of expressionist painting with absinthe. In a future project, he says, he wants to do a “pharmacological study of philosophy. Not enough attention has been paid to what philosophers have been drinking or imbibing.”

As he began writing the sequel, “Pharmako/Dynamis,” in 1996, his 22-year marriage ended. He moved to Santa Rosa and wrote–furiously. The theme of the new book: speed. It began with a mischievous look at the teetotaler’s stimulant of choice, coffee. By the middle of the text, he is describing the metallic taste of freebase cocaine.

Keep wanting

to get back

to where things were clear

Then there is a spirited defense of Ephedra, and a paean to Ecstasy, part-and-parcel of an ebullient horniness that permeates the second book. There is attention to sexual side-effects of drugs, which ones “give good lead,” which take it away. The Ecstasy chapter merrily contrasts a middle-aged generation of users who first used the drug in marriage counseling, whom Pendell fondly describes as “mush pile” sensualists, to the stomping ravers of the early 1990s. One anecdote has three friends admitting their feelings for each other while on the drug, a week later becoming lovers, dubbing themselves a “truple” and looking for things that came in threes.

His mood throughout was euphoric. While writing the second book, Pendell was in love. In 1998, living in Sonoma, he met Laura McCarthy, a visiting poet and book-binder from New York, who moved west and married him. McCarthy has an easy warmth and a ready, musical laugh as she describes her old East Coast longing for a place where leaving the house means emerging outdoors instead of into an apartment building hallway.

An excerpt from Pendell’s poem “The Dream Walker,” from the 1999 anthology “Living With Barbarians,” captures his wife as a refugee from Manhattan.


Looked for songs in the dry moss trees;

Picked them up where flames swirled.

Her thirst frightened the flowers;

Only the cacti survived.

She made her home in a land dry and barren as the moon.

Of course she grew lonely.

Someone who loves poems should take her home.

Her curling breath so dry would crack the tongue.

Pendell took her home. When she appears halfway through our interview, he hugs her and demands, “Aren’t I lucky?”

Over the next several days, in phone calls between Los Angeles and the Sierra, Pendell reports that what he thought was a cold turned out to be pneumonia. A friend tells him lungs equal grief. There has been a lot of death in the last five years. Ginsberg died in 1997, O’Brown last year, and Merle Goodkind succumbed to lupus in the spring. Then, in June, his father died.

But as antibiotics kick in, and he and McCarthy unpack their moving boxes, he’s feeling better. Twenty two years ago, he left the mountains reluctantly, for his wife and children. Now he’s back. Each day, he feels ambushed by joy.

He’s debating which to finish first, a book about his hero, Norman O’Brown, or the third drug book, “Pharmako/Gnosis.” He is toying with a “free the drug plants” campaign, complete with a green ribbon. “This is a DIY operation,” he says. “The first step in trying to clean up the mess of the drug war is free the plants.”

He also wants to circulate “Boycott Companies That Drug Test” bumper stickers. America’s office workers are drug free on a wink, he argues. They are routinely given two weeks’ notice before marijuana tests, so the drug can clear their systems. Once they take up jobs, inside every office is “a shrine to a coffee pot,” and outside, a bar.

But where another opponent of the war on drugs would be stumping for Ralph Nader, America’s poet of the second pharmacy is converting a country barn to a library to accommodate what he estimates are 10,000 pounds of reference books and botanical specimens. Part of him wants to be heard, not just by his father, but by every Methodist in America, by scientists, the DEA, his jailers. The other half wants to disappear into the wilderness.

Dale Pendell’s life adds up only if you give it enough columns. He’s a study in contradictions. He devoted his most lucid moments to recording his most stoned ones. He’s a mountain man-cum-computer programmer, an exaltant stutterer, Hamlet on absinthe. He insists on defending substances that even liberals abhor. He signed up with a publisher ideologically opposed to making money. He wrote highly technical reference books as epic poems. He wants to change the world without joining it.

When pressed about why he sought a presidential pardon, he bristled that all the Los Angeles Times wanted to know about were his teenaged crimes, then dismissed the long fight for the pardon as a theatrical act of no merit. He wants credibility, and to be incredible.

The single underlying theme always returns to the Bible, to Romans, to Paul and the stumbling brother. Pendell questions if the world can reasonably be asked to slow down to the pace of the slowest walker. Witness the stutterer who found his voice. Today, for the pastor’s prodigal son to speak at all, he has to believe what he’s saying. When that happens, the poet can’t help but find a pulpit.
Poetry: Dale & Laura

On Tour…

December 8. Rohatsu

ground crunch
snow sparkle
Buddha shrines in every burrow.
In all this space:
a star here or there –
in all this space
“Emptiness is only in form.”
Nothing needs doing.
Try not to add to the pain.

Orange rust yellow a flare of blue
this year no big fires in the meadow
orange rust yellow a flare of blue
it was the year of small fires
in the hearth & in the heart
where the heat builds & recede
& rebuilds energies dancing
sparks vibrating heartwood splinters
slivers combust jumping no fireworks
no bonfires just what we could control
inside the house and what we could not
it was the year of small fires the roaring
of pine manzanita & oak
what has fallen what we have cut
what we stacked once and then
stacked again closer by the door
lose some oak gain the heat
metamorphose into
orange rust yellow a flare
of smoke, & ash & heat
Following Fixed Form

Following fixed forms
is to deanimate the angeles;
(thus we follow fixed forms)
is idolatry;
(thus we bow to the image)
is blasphemy;
(nothing holy),

the news says “it’s all a hologram”
is that why I see animals in rocks
the rocks shaping themselves
into something soft and furry
an then upon closer inspection
returning to their stony forms
while the snow looks
like someone dosed it
with glitter
The Sigh that Created the World

Sigh of blessing.
or release, or relief,
or Sigh.
Sigh. Sigh.
Compassion for the many beings –
created the world –
so God, in his loneliness,
could be viewed by his creations.
Was it an in-breath,
or an out-breath,
“Sometimes,” he said, “looking at the world,
I think it was a mistake.”
Or like a sneeze:
some good, some bad.


Buddha – Gwyllm 2011

Emptiness is the Fundamental Nature of All Phenomena

“The sanctuary represents
a mind of great mercy and compassion;
the robe represents
a heart of gentleness and patience;
the throne represents
the awareness of emptiness in all phenomena.
These are the three principles to apply
when the Lotus Sutra is expounded. (Lotus Sutra 10: 2.19)

A blessing on all of you who have read so far.

On A Friends Passing…. Dale Pendell

Dale at Caer Llwydd

Sunday, 14/1/2018

It has been a couple of days of it…

Dale and Scarlett April 2015 (Photo Courtesy Laura Pendell)

How does one come to grips with a friends passing?  I sat here a few hours after getting the news that Dale, a friend for nearly 20 years passed early this Saturday morning.  Even expecting it, it still came as a blow.  Dazed, but thinking.  Lots.

At first I just sat  absorbing it in. This, is not unusual.  Still, the day was surreal.  We had been expecting it for the last few weeks.  He was supposedly given to the 1st, but he went nearly 2 weeks longer than expected.  He had a rough go over the last few months.  He harrowed physical hell.  The cancer that the liver transplant had meant to stop had jumped pre op, blooming over a year later in his spinal column.  You can read about it more on his web page.  I am not going to dwell on it here, it was hard enough to read and hear about from where we are.  I will say this, he and Laura stayed the course together.  That, is love.  I cannot imagine what  it was like.

What gifts does a person bring?  Dale had a generous heart.  He brought the gift of observation, and immersion.  He  brought foremost, conscious poetry to the table.  We had conversations over the years about Poetry, Sympathetic Magick (see Salting The Boundaries) and many other things.  We were working on having an article of his poetry and an interview for The Invisible College Magazine.  He informed me a few months ago that he could no longer type.  He was looking for voice to computer software before things got bad.  Now, it will be poetry and my thoughts.  We had talked about this for about a year, and I hesitated tied up with other matters.  This is the type of thing that drives me mad… putting off what one needs to deal with.

We met years ago at the Salvia Conference at Breitenbush that Rob Montgomery put on (bless his departed soul as well!).  I fell in love with Dale & Laura, and their beautiful energy together.  In the years following, it only deepened.  Their love was a joy to step into, to observe.  You could see it crackle across the room when they were giving their presentations.  If you want to know what magick was, look to their relationship.

I have his books that he sent, plus the beautiful galley copies from the Pharmako series that he gifted me at Sacred Elixirs.  He was encouraging me even then to write, having seen Turfing evolve on almost a daily basis.  He laid out clues for me to follow to improve my writing.  I have taken them to heart, but haven’t his discipline it seems.  Still, one must try.

He kept working I believe for as long as he could.  There is another book coming out.  I know he wanted to see it, but.

We all come to this shore.  There is no escaping it.  Dale left the world a better place for his passing, with his poetry, ideas, but especially his deep and abiding love.

We shall miss you Dale.

Much Love,

Gwyllm, Mary & Rowan

Dale & Laura, Gwyllm & Mary

If you start anywhere with Dale, start perhaps with his poetry. Here are 3 pieces that I love. I hope you will as well.

Some Of Dale’s Poetry:

Consciousness Explained

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? I
think I heard that but
it’s hard to tell
just watching.
A blue-bellied fence swift
closes its eyes
while warming
on a rock
in the sun.

(From Equations of Power)
Not Choosing

The shadow of your eyelash extinguished my plans-
a vowel curled from your lip and stole my speech.
A dark wood grew from my shoulders:
vines and branches, caught on my feet,
pulled cities behind them-
hungry ruins, enchanted cemeteries,
gold, somewhere, buried I suppose.
If there were a crossroads between the path to hell
and the road to paradise,
neither of them knew it.
I held your arm, you balanced, bent, cut.
I did the same.
More like two fish turned to the same stream,
or two hungry buzzards, acting sated, both attracted
to the same gnarled branch.

(From Salting The Boundaries)

Chance favours numerous habits:
flippant, fortuitous,
hap and portent,
uncertain waver,
ultimate author,
risky ally,
fateful nemesis.

Favors, chance favors, fortune favors
the bold, the prepared.

“Alas, m’lord, by chance…”

Perchance on a stochastic fulcrum,
Divine Aim:
desultory cadenza,
dense song,
a shuffle dance crane-wrought
in ominous glyphs-

A pachinko telos
cascading from a hand
with 2,718 fingers,
or a ghostly rebellion
against the stacked deck of privilege.

Prayers incline her way,
kneeling supplicants
betting on a knucklebone revelation.
Casual, causal
(it depends on us):
a lucky fall.

Chance is the accidental liberator of heaven,
an apocalyptic alternative cast by lot,
the occult avatar of nihilistic fair play.
immortal threat to eternal order.

Ground of existence.
Hope for newness.
Smile of mantis.
The last excuse and the final request.
Necessity is her twin.

(Prelude from “The Language of BirdsSome Notes on Chance and Divination)

One of his narratives. We walked their land together. An absolutely beautiful place up in the foothills of the Sierra. Dale and Laura were very attentive to it, living with, and not on so to speak. They both understood that community did not stop at two leggeds, or even four, but that community was the biome that we tread through. There could be delightful conversations arise out of this of course, and did. A lovely piece:

Holes in the Ground
A catalogue of creatures
living in the soil

Dale Pendell…

I live off a dirt road, so the road to my house is also
dirt. The only paving on the property is the concrete
slab under the house and a couple of the outbuildings.
Otherwise, it’s all dirt: the paths and trails, and the ground
along them, whether covered by meadow, brush, or forest.
Everywhere I go, the dirt has holes in it. And for years now
I’ve been trying to find out who is responsible.
Easing into recovery from a recent surgery, I’ve been
going for daily walks. Or, let’s say, I’ve been sauntering, or
ambling. And the slower I go, the more holes I see—even
in these summer months when the meadow is all dry straw
and the ground is brick hard.
These Sierra foothill soils have to be some of the worst
in the world, with every nutrient but iron leached out. A
pick won’t dig a hole when the dirt is as dry as now, yet
new holes still appear. There are pencil-sized holes, dimesized
holes, quarter-sized holes. The more I look the more
I find. This isn’t even counting the larger and more ob-
vious holes—mole and gopher holes, or ground squirrel
holes or owl burrows—I know who makes those. But who
is making all these small holes?

A List in Progress:
First off, the Mammalia, our own dear class of milk drinkers,
are responsible for the largest holes, that’s clear. We dig
holes ourselves: postholes, outhouse holes, and trenches for
pipes—but they are usually filled in. Soldiers, of course,
dig holes, or used to, and call them foxholes. And foxes do
dig holes, though our foxes seem to prefer an abandoned
tree house.
Rabbits dig warrens, which are holes in the ground,
though they must dig them in the densest and most inac-
cessible brush thickets, because I never find them. Many
rabbit warrens, it is said, are connected underground. We
have skunks, and skunks have long claws and dig dens.
I think I found one of those once. Opossums will nest in
holes if they can find one, but I’ve read that they don’t dig
their own. Sometimes they live in trees.
And the coyotes dig holes and live in them. I found one
once, with pups in it, dug into the side of an embankment.
Actually, my little dog found the hole before I did. He
was just a little scamp Peekapoo with long curly hair and
big eyes that said “I love you, just stroke behind my ears,”
but when he heard a coyote howl, he put his chin way up
in the air and made this sound like a coyote and trotted off
like The Fool headed for the cliff. After about five minutes
I heard a terrible yelp of pain way off in the manzanita and
figured I’d better go find him. I did and there he was, kind
of bloodied up and needing a stitch or two, and there was
Mama, standing in front of her den looking at me, and
behind her coyote pups looking out and thinking this was
all the coolest thing that had ever happened.
Ground squirrels dig holes, of course, and they are easy
to spot, as are gopher holes and mole holes, with the dirt
piled around the entrances.
Moles tend to have their entrances in the center of
the excavated dirt, so it looks like a volcano, while gopher
holes are eccentric.
Moles and gophers make a lot of holes around here.
I’ve lost a dozen fruit trees to gophers—but there may be
even more moles. The cat catches gophers but she doesn’t
go after the moles. At least not anymore, not since one she
had cornered attacked and grabbed on to her paw with his
teeth and wouldn’t let go. For a nearly blind animal that
spends its whole life underground eating bugs, moles are
pretty feisty.
Besides moles and gophers, there are shrews, mice,
and voles. I’m not sure why voles are called “voles,” which
sounds like “moles,” because it’s shrews that are like moles.
Voles are like gophers. Voles are often called “meadow
mice,” and I realize now that many of the small “gophers”
caught by the cat were actually voles and that voles are
probably responsible for a large number of the excavated
holes that are slightly smaller than mole holes but have
dirt around the entrances. Like gophers, voles are mostly
vegetarian and seem to be better tasting to cats than the
insectivorous moles and shrews.
Whoever is digging exactly which hole, there is a lot of
bioturbation going on, and it is not all done by mammals,
not by a long shot.
Maybe some lizards dig holes. Skinks do, for sure. Alligator
lizards dig to bury their eggs, but mostly I find them
just under boards and under stuff lying on the ground.
Fence lizards, whiptails—I don’t know but they’ve got to
sleep somewhere.

Some spiders dig holes: deep, clean holes. Trap-door
spiders. And around here big wolf spiders dig a hole like
a trap-door spider, just without the door. Close to quarter
sized. The cat never sniffs at these holes. I had to go out
at night with a flashlight to see the spider, and I did. It was
there about half an inch down the hole with its legs on the
rim. So I took a piece of straw and rustled some dry grass
a couple of inches outside the hole. And, like, I knew what
was going to happen, but when the spider rushed out I still
jumped a foot into the air.
Most spiders, of course, live in webs.
Then there are the insects. And some in-between critters
like centipedes. Centipedes dig holes. Mostly, I think,
they dig holes and live in them. Except for the ones who
come into the house and hide under a sofa until you are
walking by at three in the morning headed for the kitchen,
when they lunge at your toes. I hate that. Why do they do
that? It makes me do that-forbidden-by-the-Buddha.
But insects, yes. Now we are getting to the pencil-sized
holes, or mostly.
Among the Hexapoda the most obvious and numerous
hole diggers are the ants. Lots of them, and they seem able
to dig into the very hardest of the hard-packed dirt right on
the driveway. So we see them a lot.
In fact, I’m watching them right now. These are fairly
sizeable ants, but fifty yards back there is an active nest
of very tiny ants, and both colonies may move the same
amount of dirt. They like to work in the cooler hours during
the summer, late afternoon, and early evening. In the winter
when it rains, I suppose these ant nests will become potholes.
I’d tired out early, as I’m still recovering from a chemo, so
sitting next to an ant hill seemed like a good place to rest.
Then, as a result of my treatments, I had half of a mental
whiteout: it was like a dust storm had come through and
half of my brain was left resembling the Playa at Burning
Man. Laura was with me.
“You know,” I said, “there was an early tribe of humans
who, being particularly observant of nature, decided that
underground was the proper place to live. They saw other
animals digging holes so they decided to do the same thing.
They were called troglodytes and they ate lizards and other
reptiles and small mammals and were known to be the fastest
runners in the world, which is strange, if you think
about it, because most of their lives they lived underground
in Ethiopia and were so poor of eyesight that they took to
herding large groups of moles from underground room to
underground room with short sticks. Caesar wrote about
them, but the book is lost.”
“Caesar, huh,” Laura asked, “like the salad?”
“Well, yes. And then Xerxes tried to hire them to dig
tunnels under the walls of a city he was besieging in Lydia,
but the troglodytes refused, explaining that such use of
their chthonic skills would be sacrilegious and offensive
to the gods of darkness, an explanation Xerxes accepted.”
“Xerxes, huh, are you sure you don’t mean Cyrus?”
“Yes, Cyrus, that’s who I meant. … The problems all
started when a Lydian king fell in love with his own wife—
that ended up being how the Persians found out about
the Greeks and went to war against them and why we run
marathons. The Greeks all wished that the troglodytes had
been more helpful to Cyrus and had finished the whole
thing before the Spartans arrived, so they passed laws protecting
people who lived underground in holes, exempting
them from certain taxes and service on triremes. Cyrus
and Croesus talked about it with Solon after they figured
out who was the happiest person alive.”
The fog was slowly lifting from my brain.
“See,” I said, “the barbarian women considered it an
affront to be seen naked … kind of like goddesses.”
“What’s this have to do with troglodytes?” Laura asked.
“Oh, because the troglodytes moved to Italy and became
Christians, and then they moved to Cappadocia.
One of their underground cities had eighteen-story buildings
and a population of twenty thousand. Nobody believes
that anymore, but you could look it up.”
Laura said she knew about Cappadocia.
I returned my attention to the ants. Some couldn’t
seem to find their way back to the nest. One, holding a
huge seed in its mandibles, missed the nest twice, and
was now more than a foot away and walking in the wrong
direction. Other ants touched antennae with it, but it still
hadn’t got the message.
“See,” I said, “the continued existence of underground
civilizations is a tightly held secret of the government: the
very existence of these cells is such a threat to national security
that they release occasional pictures of ufos instead.”

At that Laura concluded that I needed to walk some
more, so she helped me up and we started off again, but
now my eyes were tuned in to holes and we had to keep
stopping. I saw one very clean quarter-sized hole, or nearly
so, that I was sure was a new wolf spider hole. It even had
some paper-like web around the wall of the tunnel. I didn’t
stick my finger in.
Once we watched scores of flying ants hatching out of
several holes right in the driveway. They were orange and
black with blue wings and they just kept crawling out of the
holes and taking off into the air. I think the ants opened
new holes just for the hatching and then abandoned the
nest. At least the holes always seemed to be abandoned, until
I happened to walk by them one night when the moon
was out. Then I saw that the holes were indeed occupied, by
largish red and black ants that only come out long after dark.
Diptera: Flies, Midges, Gnats.
Not many insects live underground as adults, but many
live underground as larvae or pupae. I’ve see crane flies
dipping their ovipositors into the ground laying eggs. And
after the larvae pupate and the adults emerge, they leave
little holes behind them. Most of the little holes that are
left open are probably emergence holes—kind of like an
inter-dimensional passageway. Holes in regular use get
stuffed with gravel or straw.
Most Diptera prefer soil rich in decaying matter. Here,
that’s under the oak trees.

Hemiptera: True Bugs.
This is such a large order there must be some of them that
dig holes. Cicadas, for sure, in the suborder Homoptera,
produce large numbers of emergence holes.

Isoptera: Termites.
California has the western subterranean termite. As their
name implies, these termites nest in the ground, preferably
in a buried log. Their nests can get quite large, many galleries
connected by tunnels, the whole thing sometimes
hundreds of feet in diameter.

Orthoptera: Crickets,
Katydids, Grasshoppers.
Mole crickets live in the ground. The one we see the most
is the Jerusalem cricket, also called niña de la tierra. Is
there any bug more definitive of bugginess? I mean, they
are bugs. They’re huge, and they have those bald heads
that look like the bugs in the game “Cootie.” They are
harmless, but they will hiss and spit at you if you “bug”
them too much.
Laura and I were still walking but I could feel the
white noise returning and closing down the left side of
my brain.
“You see,” I said, “the verb to bug, as in ‘don’t bug
me, man,’ actually does come from bugs. Well, more from
beetles. From that annoying characteristic of beetles, in
particular, to come right back at you after you brush them
away. It’s like, you try to be nice and just knock them ten
feet away from your sleeping bag instead of crushing them
and what do they do? They turn right around and come
back. And they’ll keep doing that. And that’s how the verb
to bug came about, from backpacking beatniks, Jack Kerouac
and Japhy Ryder, I think, who finally said ‘Hey, that
bug is bugging us.’”
Laura: “Uh huh.”
“Well, yes. Or maybe it started before then, maybe in
Harlem, in some seedy jazz club, with cockroaches.”
Laura, who had lived in New York City for years,
thought that the latter etymology was more likely.
There are also some ground crickets in this order that
dig holes. And the California camel cricket, Ceuthophilus
californianus, lives in underground burrows.
The subject of grasshoppers brings us to blister beetles
and thus to the Coleoptera. Blister beetles get their name
from the ability of some species to secrete cantharidin,
which blisters human skin. Cantharides is also known as
“Spanish fly.” It should never be used as an aphrodisiac, but
preparations are sold as a topical treatment to remove warts.
There are more than a hundred species of blister beetles in
California, but few if any of them cause blistering.
Female blister beetles lay hundreds of eggs in meadows
or other grassy areas where grasshopper larvae are
in the ground. The blister beetle eggs hatch into a larva
that looks like a cross between a silverfish and an earwig.
These crawl around when it is warm, checking out every crack
and hole in the ground they can find, looking for a
grasshopper nest.
Entomological writing gets more colorful the further
back one goes in time. This may be because the earlier
generations of entomologists spent a lot of time lying
on the ground on their stomachs. Here’s Robert Evans
Snodgrass (1875–1962), on the triungulin of the striped
blister beetle:

“Though the young scapegrace of a beetle is a
housebreaker and a thief, his story, like that
of too many criminals, unfortunately, makes
interesting reading.”
—Insects: Their Ways and Means of Living (1930)

Finding a nest, the triungulin devour the grasshopper eggs
and then molt into a completely different-looking grub.
Eventually, after a number of successive moltings, a pupa
hatches into a new adult, which crawls out of a hole in
the ground.

Coleoptera: Beetles.
Besides blister beetles, the most obvious diggers in this
order are the burying beetles, Nicrophorus. Beautifully
described in Bernd Heinrich’s Life Everlasting: The Animal
Way of Death (2012), Nicrophorus beetles can dispose of a
mouse carcass in hours. If the ground beneath the carcass
is soft enough, a pair of beetles, after a brief marriage ceremony,
together dig the ground out from underneath the
carcass, meanwhile chasing away wasps, flies, and other
beetles. When the carcass is buried, the female lays her
eggs on it. I haven’t seen these colorful beetles yet, though
I keep hoping to attract them by putting out half-eaten
mouse carcasses left by the cat.
I’ve read that if the ground is too hard, the burying
beetles will crawl under the carcass, turn over on their
backs, and walk the carcass off of them with their legs. This
I want to see! I mean, how do they coordinate that? “No,
darling, I think we should go this way.” “No, you always say
that, but what happened last time, huh, bug guy?”
Most of the other subterranean beetles live in the
ground during the larval stage, such as the stink beetle
and the tiger beetle. Entomologists calculated that in southern Wisconsin,
depending on the type of soil, an acre of ground contained between fifty thousand and two
hundred thousand grubs.
Eleodes larvae live in the ground until they emerge as
adult beetles. The Eleodes beetle is a large and all-black
darkling beetle that will stand on its head if disturbed and
spray a foul-smelling amber liquid, hence “stink beetle”
or “stink bug.” My mother called them “pinacate beetles,”
a name more usual in the Southwest, derived from the
Nahuatl word for “black beetle.”
The best study of holes in the ground that I know of
was by a Kansas entomologist, H. R. Bryson, in the 1920s
and 1930s. He described the types of holes made by a wide
variety of insects (mostly Coleoptera and Hymenoptera),
along with the soil type, the depth of the hole, the characteristic
branching, incline, diameter, length, and even
weight of the excavated soil—as close to an identification
key as one is going to find.

Hymenoptera: Wasps, Bees, Ants.
While beetles inhabit the ground almost exclusively in the
larval stage, the Hymenoptera typically live in the ground
as adults. Bumblebees and mining bees dig burrows, as do
many solitary wasps. Yellow jackets also live in the ground,
in large nests (as anyone who has ever disturbed one knows),
but evidently they don’t dig the burrows themselves, instead
relying on finding abandoned mouse or vole holes.
Solitary wasps that live in the ground include the
cicada killer, eumenid wasps, digger wasps, sand wasps,
and spider wasps. Many of these wasps have to deal with
parasitic wasps that will steal into their burrows and leave
their own eggs to hatch and devour the original eggs or
pupae, so many digging wasps disguise the entrances to
their burrows, making them hard to find. For one, they
disperse the excavated soil, so that predators or parasites
won’t be able to spot it as easily, and then they also plug
the hole when they go out and often cover it with debris.
That leaves the worms.

Annelida: Earthworms.

I guess they’re out there—it’s just hard to remember that
in the summertime. Charles Darwin calculated 53,767
earthworms per acre. That was England, of course, where
it rains a lot. Darwin’s last published book was on earthworms,
called The Formation of Vegetable Mould through
the Action of Worms. The book was surprisingly popular,
selling more copies than the initial edition of Origin
of Species.
Once he had an estimate of the number of worms per
acre, Darwin went on to measure how much soil passed
through each worm and how much soil there was in England,
proving that all the topsoil in England had passed
through the intestinal canal on an earthworm many times.
He also calculated the rate at which earthworms bury ancient
ruins, doing his fieldwork at Stonehenge. Darwin also
performed extensive experiments with earthworms, establishing
that though they could not hear they could detect
vibrations and that they were intelligent and could learn.
This last assertion is an embarrassment to those who still
cling to the tenet that intelligence is a distinctly human
characteristic and that whatever animals do, especially invertebrates,
is something called “instinct.” Myself, I think
intelligence is still a good idea worth trying.
I could feel another whiteout coming on. Darwin had
filled the dining room with jars of worms and it was creating
a domestic crisis, Mrs. Darwin saying, at last, “You have
to choose: it’s me or the worms,” and Charles inventing
and calling in a “worm-mediation specialist” who brokered
a compromise, the worms getting Mondays, Wednesdays,
and Fridays and Mrs. Darwin getting Tuesdays, Thursdays,
and Saturdays.
Laura was talking to me. “What?” I said.
“It’s getting cold.”
You have to dig to find earthworms here. Or wait for a
rain. Laura grabbed an arm and we ambled on.
To know Dale one felt his deep connection with Buddhist tenets, and the practice. I leave you with this: He walked his walk. An authentic being. It was a deep privilege knowing him.

Bright Blessings,

Where Wild Is…

The Goddess Awakens – Gwyllm

You cannot dissuade someone using logic who is guided by centuries of training if they have never questioned the set of their lives. They are asleep, and willing to continue to do so. To question all the societal memes that they live and abide by would be devastating. One would have to look deep within to ferret out what is an authentic thought, and what is an accepted trope. People mouth homilies all of the time, the truth seems that they would rather live them, and accept them rather than discovering their authentic selves, and living a life of examination and discovery.

These were my thoughts on watching the election process in Alabama. I was pleasantly surprised to see that Moore will not be in the Senate, but what I find sad is the clinging to old forms of thought that are so destructive to the human spirit, and that stand in the way of a better future for those who come after… Still, change occurs though at times it appears to be so glacial.

I know that society needs both the pessimist, and the optimist. I also know that change must be tempered with caution as well. Yet, it is hard to watch the turmoil around us at this time. Never forget, that those that hold different opinions carry a load in their lives as well. Fears, sadness, love, the uncertainty. The best action IMO is to treat everyone with as much love and attention that you can muster. Opinions, politics are the thinnest skin on the onion of self, and being. At the core we all share the divine.
So, there is a sizeable issue this time, links, music, thoughts on plant consciousness, Al-Khidr the Green Man, the poetry of Farid ud-Din Attar taken from his “The Conference Of The Birds”… I find the last musical entry incredibly entrancing, and evocative. It is difficult to watch for a bit, but in all it is a fascinating creation.

Talking about creations, check out my calendars for 2018:

Gwyllm Desk Calendar 2018

Desk Calendar!

Gwyllm Wall Calendar 2018

Wall Calendar!

Great for gifts, and to keep up with what art I am producing as of late.

I hope your days and nights are sweet.

On The Menu:
The Links
Levitation 2018
On Plants…
Al-Khiḍr, the Green and Artistic Spiritual Guide
The Poetry Of Attar
Heilung Krigsgaldr
Just Sayin’
The Links:
Where Caesar First Tred
I Prefer Ghost…
Is It An Asteroid?
One To The Chest
Levitation 2018

On Plants:
“God sleeps in the rock, dreams in the plant, stirs in the animal, and awakens in man.” – Ibn Arabi

Perhaps more than dreams. If, by ingesting a plant, say, Salvia Divinorum (quid method) the plant shows me its view point of being a plant…(yes I have experienced this as perhaps some of you)  or ayahuasca, along with certain fungi’s can do something quite similar,  you are indeed walking with beings who are aware all around you.

They don’t wag their tails, lick your hands, purr or dance in the sea, but their signatures show on deeper levels.

The Cognitive Abilities Of Plants… 
And if that wasn’t enough… This: Something Really Fascinating Happens When You Give Plants Anaesthetic

Plants having similar reactions to anaesthetics… Who knew?
I had the privilege of studying under Samuel Lewis for a couple of years before his passing. It was a period of transition for me, from 4th Way School of thought, to Sufism, and Magick. He made the difference in my life with his light, and guidance.

Al-Khiḍr, the Green and Artistic Spiritual Guide (excerpt)
by H. Talat Halman

The prophets Elias and Khadir at the fountain of life, late 15th century. Folio from a khamsa(quintet) by Nizami (d. 1209); Timurid period. Opaque watercolor and silver on paper. Herat, Afghanistan, now at The Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution

In 1925, on the third night of his first retreat, 29-year old Samuel Lewis suddenly felt a presence. Before him came the Sufi sage Khwaja Khiḍr, the Green Master. Khiḍr offered Murshid Sam the choice between the gifts of poetry and music. Murshid chose poetry. Decades later, through the Dances of Universal Peace, he also received the gift of music.

After three consecutive nights of Khiḍr’s visits, Murshid “began writing incessantly” (Lewis 1986: 29-30). And Murshid Sam, whose vigor and vitality in later years challenged his much-younger disciples, wrote that the “proof of the validity” of a visit from Khiḍr “comes first in the physical and mental vigour of the person blessed by Khwaja Khiḍr, exactly in accordance with the traditions” (Lewis 1975: 12).

The great 14th-century Persian poet Hafiz also received the gift of poetry from Khiḍr after a forty-night vigil. In Muslim tradition, Khiḍr is widely known as the guide of Moses and Alexander the Great, a wali (saint), a prophet, and one of four immortals along with Enoch (Idris), Jesus, and Elijah. Murshid Sam described Khiḍr and Elijah as “the two ‘guardian spirits’ of this world and the next” (Lewis 1986: 298). Like the Qur’an’s description of Khiḍr’s gift of mercy (rahman) and direct inner knowing (‘ilm al-ladunni), Elijah heard God’s intimate “still small voice” (I Kg. 19:12).

Murshid also wrote that, according to Qabbalah, Khiḍr is Jethro — the biblical father-in-law of Moses who taught Moses the Name of God in the form “I am that I am” (Lewis 1975: 207). Hazrat Inayat Khan called Khiḍr “the guiding angel of all seeking souls” (Inayat Khan: 1927, 105). Meher Baba reported that on the night St. Francis received his stigmata at Alvernia, Khiḍr visited him and gave him the “touch of grace” that made him a perfect master (Kalchuri: 14, 5011).

Khiḍr’s story stands at the center of the Qur’an. The Prophet Muhammad expanded on the story, further detailing Moses’ journey with Khiḍr. In the Persian Alexander Romances (Iskandar Nama), Khiḍr appears as Alexander’s deputy and cook who gained immortality by drinking the water of eternal life. His name, however spelled and pronounced — al-Khadir, al-Khiḍr, al-Khizr (Arabic), al-Khezr (Farsi), H1z1r (Turkish), or Khidlir and Khizir (Indonesian) — means literally, “the Green”.

Asked by his companions about Khiḍr, the Prophet Muhammad explained that after al-Khiḍr sat on barren land, the ground turned green with vegetation. Khiḍr’s transmission is “green,” and alive. John Matthews describes the archetype of the Green Man as “the spirit of nature … an ancient symbol of nature and fertility,” expressed in the Norse World Tree Yggdrasil, Attis and Adonis, Odin, Osiris, the King of the Wood, and the May King and Harvest King.

Khiḍr brings a gift that Sufis realize as the treasure of gnosis within the heart. Some Sufis teach that we will all meet Khiḍr at least once in our lifetime, that you will recognize him when you shake hands with a white bearded man with no bone in his thumb. In the lore of Sufi saints, Khiḍr sometimes bestows a mantle (khirqa), a primary symbol of Sufi initiation. Nizamuddin ‘Awliya received from Khiḍr a special litany. Rumi’s son Sultan Veled compared Rumi’s transforming relationship with Shams-i Tabrizi to that between Moses and al-Khiḍr.

Khiḍr rescues and protects people in times of danger and distress. He saves the pure in heart from theft, drowning, snakes, and scorpions. In Indian miniatures, Khiḍr travels on top of a large fish, intimating the image of Vishnu’s first avatar, Matsya: the fish that saved the first man, Manu. In a Turkish story, an old white-bearded man hailed a tourist bus and asked the driver to wait while he went to bring his sick grandchild. Minutes passed and the old man did not return. When a passenger came forward, he discovered the driver had died. Everyone realized that the old man was Khiḍr and had saved their lives.

Al-Khiḍr, the Universal Green Man
How does Khiḍr exemplify the universal archetype of the Green Man? Numerous are the stone images of the Green Man that grace household gardens, homes, and churches. Medieval cathedrals feature Green Man faces framed with foliage. Mayday celebrations include Jack-in-the-Green and the green May King and May Queen. (Anderson) St. George and St. Michael’s color is green. The Hindu avatar Rama is green. The Tibetan yogi Milarepa turned green by eating mostly nettles.

Sir Gawain was initiated by the Green Knight. As described by Brian Stone, the character and actions of the Green Knight remind us of Khiḍr:

This on his first appearance he is described successively as a terrifying giant (ll. 137-40), a handsome and well-built knight (ll. 141-6), a weirdly green — and hence, implicitly supernatural — person (ll. 147-50). And on his last appearance, besides all these, he appears as a warm and sympathetic human being (ll. 2333-6), an omniscient confessor who judges with accuracy and compassion, and above all with authority (ll. 2338-99), and finally as a human, subtly diminished by the termination of his supernatural function

Like the Green Knight, Khiḍr is vitriolic in the alchemical sense of being a transforming agent. For example, the green sage Yoda trains Luke Skywalker. Just as Khiḍr challenged Moses, Yoda initially challenged Luke’s aptitude and preparedness for Jedi training (Star Wars V). In a martial arts film co-written by Bruce Lee, The Silent Flute (Circle of Iron), the story of Moses’ journey with al-Khiḍr appears in a martial arts setting. The Moses figure, Cord the Seeker, seeks training from a blind kung-fu master (played by David Carradine). Their journey exactly parallels Khiḍr’s story in the Qur’an.

William Anderson compares an assortment of “Green Men,” including Osiris, Attis, Adonis, Dionysis, and Robin Hood. Like Osiris and Utnapishtim, Gilgamesh’s guide Khiḍr stands where waters grant eternal life. Utnapishtim who dwelt “at the two rivers” instructed Gilgamesh to dive for the plant of immortality, “Never-grows-old” at the bottom of the sea. Like Khiḍr, Utnapishtim’s name means “He who saw life.”

After the Flood, the god Enlil blessed him and his wife and placed them “in the distance at the mouth of two rivers.

Al-Khiḍr, Alchemy, and Psychology
In the Alexander Romance, Khiḍr found the elixir of life in the land of darkness. This land is the alchemical nigredo. Green is also the color of Hermes Trismegistus, who imparted the secret of immortality in both the Emerald Tablet and the Grail Cup (Krater) in the Corpus Hermeticum.

In western Asia, Moslem or Hindu symbolic art shows the Saint, Al Khizr, dressed in a green coat being carried on top of the water by a fish which conveys him over the river of life.

Jung in his main essay on al-Khiḍr writes:
Anyone who gets into that cave [the cave of the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, a story also related in the Qur’an’s 18th chapter], that is to say into that cave which everyone has within himself, or into the darkness that lies behind consciousness, will find himself involved in an — at first — unconscious process of transformation. By penetrating into the unconscious he makes a connection with his unconscious contents. This may result in a momentous change in personality in the positive or negative sense. The transformation is often interpreted as a prolongation of the natural span of life or as an earnest of immortality. The former is the case with many alchemists, notably Paracelcus (in his treatise De vita longa), and the latter is exemplified in the Eleusinian mysteries.

Thus the story teaches us to find the elixir of life and the gems of wisdom in our shadow. The places that we initially cannot see in our inner journey, can impart creative, volatile, and valuable energy that we can transmute and thereby bear spiritual fruit.

Jung explains that Moses is the ego and Khiḍr is the unconscious, a vast ocean into which the “fish” (Moses’ consciousness) disappeared and reappeared again at that rock — the lapis. In that transformation, Moses had new access to what Semnani called the “al-Khiḍr of your being.”

Because Khiḍr’s knowledge is symbolized by “water,” we learn that this flowing reality cannot be set in stone. Immortality and eternal youth cannot be rigid like rocks. What Khiḍr transmitted gave immortality to Moses and Alexander. Through Khiḍr we receive a gift of immortality — not physically perhaps — but truly collectively, culturally, and spiritually. The Sufi master Sherif Baba described Moses’ journey with Khiḍr as our own journey. Our unconscious, symbolized by the cooked fish, awakens through the revivifying waters of divine love and is transformed into a higher consciousness. Khiḍr is the God-friend who recreates people by intensive relationship and connection and so brings out of us the child of our being, a verdant soul.

Khiḍr and Nature
As trees exhale oxygen, Khiḍr exudes an inspiration of inner knowledge that bears new fruits of wisdom and discernment. As plants turn sunlight into food, so we receive from Khiḍr the light of the eternal garden. Khiḍr’s knowledge is imparted in the way flowers favor the air with their fragrance: a bestowal unseen, but felt and known. Khiḍr represents this renewal of spirit and respect for the earth and creatures. Rabbi Kook wrote of the vegetable world, “Every part of the vegetable world is singing a song and breaking forth a secret of the divine mystery” (Besserman: 1994, 2). That reality is Khiḍr.

Khiḍr’s authority is natural: like nature, he is green and ever-rejuvenating. He is fresh, abundant, stunning, and unpredictable. Khiḍr does not depend on linear hierarchies; he branches out in multiple directions. And like nature, Khiḍr’s lessons include the natural disasters we do not understand: the storms, volcanoes, and earthquakes we cannot or do not want to explain. According to the Prophet Muhammad, it was when Moses thought he was the wisest man on earth that God sent him to learn from Khiḍr.

Khiḍr and Transformation
Al-Khiḍr’s authority is natural, not institutional or hierarchical. What Khiḍr imparts is renewal and rejuvenation. The discovery of Khiḍr’s secret points not to something already there in nature, but to a discovery of what can be created, of what we can do next, of an ultimately alchemical transformation. For example, in 2004 when the Tsunami struck Indonesia, India, and Southeast Asia, the question for most people in its midst was not, “Why did this happen?” but rather, “What can we do now? How can we make life better? What’s possible?”

That’s why in the story of Khiḍr in the Qur’an, his relationship with nature differs from that of other Green Men such as Adonis or Attis or Osiris. Khiḍr represents much more than the mystery — as profound and beautiful as it is — of the dying and resurrecting god. Khiḍr represents a further horizon: nature’s transformational possibility. Khiḍr’s actions do more than justify themselves: they open up new roads, new destinies, new possibilities. Khiḍr imparts lessons in transformation and mediates the experience of death and the possibility of attaining immortality. Further, the story of Khiḍr and Moses models the master-disciple relationship. And the story of Khiḍr and Moses whispers some of the mysteries of predestination and theodicy if we listen.

Nature is not merely a sentimentally beautiful experience; it offers not only soft sweet beauty but also overwhelming majesty. Khiḍr reminds us of this in the way he embodies nature and initiates us into its presence. Pir Vilayat has vividly described al-Khiḍr’s natural initiations:

And the Al-Khiḍr of your soul puts you through terrible tests, puts you through a quagmire of iniquities so you may come out unscathed, puts you through the test of drowning, through the test of fire, through the test of air, and finally through the test of truth.

Here is the initiation of “acts of God,” the overwhelming tsunamis, the raging forest fires, the winds of hurricanes, and all of the stark reality such traumas transition us into.

In the story in the Qur’an, al-Khiḍr practices nature’s qualities of breaking down, killing, and rebuilding to give birth to transformations leading to new fates and new fortunes. Hazrat Inayat Khan quotes a Persian couplet that expresses this: “It is the gardener who knows which plant to rear and which to cut down.”

Like nature, Khiḍr is active, dynamic, and alchemical. Khiḍr is also, as the Alexander Romance hints, like a fire. Khiḍr has passed through the alchemical stages of nigredo, albedo, and rubedo. He has manifested and integrated the elements and energies of earth, water, air, and fire. Khiḍr shows us we must care for nature because — among so many reasons — what Hazrat Inayat Khan calls the “sacred manuscript of nature” is the intimate scripture that inspires fresh, new, “green,” experience for our spirit, soul, and body.

Fariduddin Attar narrates that when the early Sufi master Ibrahim ibn Adham, the former prince of Balkh, learned from “one of the great men of Faith” the Greatest Name of God,” he invoked that name “and immediately he beheld Khiḍr, upon whom be peace.” Thus Murshid Sam wrote of Khiḍr in The Jerusalem Trilogy, quoting from the Messenger Shiva who identifies himself:

Ishvara, Osiris, Asar, Asher,
Variations of the One Holy Name,
Taught to Moses by Khiḍr in the form:
‘Ehyeh asher ehyeh’ – I am Ishvara who was, is, will be,
That One who is the Only-Only-Only,
Forevermore, and on and on, … (Lewis: 1975, 207)

Talat Halman is Assistant Professor of Religion at Central Michigan University where he teaches courses in Islamic Studies and World Religions. This article on the Green Man is derived from a body of work on al-Khiḍr to be published by Fons Vitae as Where Two Seas Meet: The Story of al-Khiḍr and Spiritual Guidance. He holds initiations in the Ruhaniat, the Sufi Order, and Sherif Baba’s Rifa’i-Marufi lineages.

“Al-Khiḍr, the Green and Artistic Spiritual Guide (excerpt)” courtesy: The Sound Journal Feb 2010 issue
The Poetry Of: Farid ud-Din Attar
Extractions from “The Conference Of The Birds”

The moths and the flame

Moths gathered in a fluttering throng one night
To learn the truth about the candle light,
And they decided one of them should go
To gather news of the elusive glow.
One flew till in the distance he discerned
A palace window where a candle burned —
And went no nearer: back again he flew
To tell the others what he thought he knew.
The mentor of the moths dismissed his claim,
Remarking: “He knows nothing of the flame.”
A moth more eager than the one before
Set out and passed beyond the palace door.
He hovered in the aura of the fire,
A trembling blur of timorous desire,
Then headed back to say how far he’d been,
And how much he had undergone and seen.
The mentor said: “You do not bear the signs
Of one who’s fathomed how the candle shines.”
Another moth flew out — his dizzy flight
Turned to an ardent wooing of the light;
He dipped and soared, and in his frenzied trance
Both self and fire were mingled by his dance —
The flame engulfed his wing-tips, body, head,
His being glowed a fierce translucent red;
And when the mentor saw that sudden blaze,
The moth’s form lost within the glowing rays,
He said: “He knows, he knows the truth we seek,
That hidden truth of which we cannot speak.”
To go beyond all knowledge is to find
That comprehension which eludes the mind,
And you can never gain the longed-for goal
Until you first outsoar both flesh and soul;
But should one part remain, a single hair
Will drag you back and plunge you in despair —
No creature’s self can be admitted here,
Where all identity must disappear.
The Lover

‘A lover’, said the hoopoe, now their guide,
‘Is one in whom all thoughts of self have died;
Those who renounce the self deserve that name;
Righteous or sinful, they are all the same!
Your heart is thwarted by the self’s control;
Destroy its hold on you and reach your goal.
Give up this hindrance, give up mortal sight,
For only then can you approach the light.
If you are told: “Renounce our Faith,” obey!
The self and Faith must both be tossed away;
Blasphemers call such action blasphemy —
Tell them that love exceeds mere piety.
Love has no time for blasphemy or faith,
Nor lovers for the self, that feeble wraith.

The Nightingale

The nightingale raises his head, drugged with passion,
Pouring the oil of earthly love in such a fashion
That the other birds shaded with his song, grow mute.
The leaping mysteries of his melodies are acute.
‘I know the secrets of Love, I am their piper,’
He sings, ‘I seek a David with broken heart to decipher
Their plaintive barbs, I inspire the yearning flute,
The daemon of the plucked conversation of the lute.
The roses are dissolved into fragrance by my song,
Hearts are torn with its sobbing tone, broken along
The fault lines of longing filled with desire’s wrong.
My music is like the sky’s black ocean, I steal
The listener’s reason, the world becomes the seal
Of dreams for chosen lovers, where only the rose
Is certain. I cannot go further, I am lame, and expose
My anchored soul to the divine Way.
My love for the rose is sufficient, I shall stay
In the vicinity of its petalled image, I need
No more, it blooms for me the rose, my seed.

The hoopoe replies: ‘You love the rose without thought.
Nightingale, your foolish song is caught
By the rose’s thorns, it is a passing thing.
Velvet petal, perfume’s repose bring
You pleasure, yes, but sorrow too
For the rose’s beauty is shallow: few
Escape winter’s frost. To seek the Way
Release yourself from this love that lasts a day.
The bud nurtures its own demise as day nurtures night.
Groom yourself, pluck the deadly rose from your sight.

Heilung – Krigsgaldr
A Remarkable Video… Watch to the end plz.

Just Sayin’

Coffee Part II

St. Lepus In The Gardens Of Paradise

Find St. Lepus Here

Coffee Part II:
In this entry I will not regale you with tales of my life, but perhaps the roots of modern coffee culture, and the links it has to economics/capitalism in the modern world. It is not a direct path, but one of those side journeys that I quite enjoy. I made a couple of pilgrimages whilst living in London to the locations of some of the earlier coffee dens, a couple were still functioning back in the mid 80’s when I was there last. Coffee shops didn’t only generate economic changes of course, but social ones, which is what I am primarily interested in. So, enjoy this article, it is quite a gem.

We are now swinging into the holidaze… Here is to holding ones equilibrium in the upheaval at the end of the calendar year. Looking forward to the next year, this one has been a real challenge for so many people.

On The Menu:
Commercial Break!
The Links
Music: Sarabeth Tucek
The Lost World of the London Coffeehouse
Zen Poetry
Music: Hush Arbors
Commercial Break!
Nothing Says Special like:
Blotter Art!
One of my favourite pieces. Get it inscribed with a personal message for the collector in your life!

The Chemist – Homage to Sasha Shulgin

The Links:
Tim Scully Turns On The World!
Egyptian Neolithic Ritual Art
New Physics?
Early Images of Domesticated Dogs Found in Arabia
A Chip For The Old Brain? What Could Go Wrong?
Happy Gentrification!
Nice take on this song. The video component not so much…
Sarabeth Tucek:

The Lost World of the London Coffeehouse

In contrast to today’s rather mundane spawn of coffeehouse chains, the London of the 17th and 18th century was home to an eclectic and thriving coffee drinking scene. Dr Matthew Green explores the halcyon days of the London coffeehouse, a haven for caffeine-fueled debate and innovation which helped to shape the modern world.

From the tar-caked wharves of Wapping to the gorgeous lamp-lit squares of St James’s and Mayfair, visitors to eighteenth-century London were amazed by an efflorescence of coffeehouses. “In London, there are a great number of coffeehouses”, wrote the Swiss noble César de Saussure in 1726, “…workmen habitually begin the day by going to coffee-rooms to read the latest news.” Nothing was funnier, he smirked, than seeing shoeblacks and other riffraff poring over papers and discussing the latest political affairs. Scottish spy turned travel writer John Macky was similarly captivated in 1714. Sauntering into some of London’s most prestigious establishments in St James’s, Covent Garden and Cornhill, he marvelled at how strangers, whatever their social background or political allegiances, were always welcomed into lively convivial company. They were right to be amazed: early eighteenth-century London boasted more coffeehouses than any other city in the western world, save Constantinople.

London’s coffee craze began in 1652 when Pasqua Rosée, the Greek servant of a coffee-loving British Levant merchant, opened London’s first coffeehouse (or rather, coffee shack) against the stone wall of St Michael’s churchyard in a labyrinth of alleys off Cornhill. Coffee was a smash hit; within a couple of years, Pasqua was selling over 600 dishes of coffee a day to the horror of the local tavern keepers. For anyone who’s ever tried seventeenth-century style coffee, this can come as something of a shock — unless, that is, you like your brew “black as hell, strong as death, sweet as love”, as an old Turkish proverb recommends, and shot through with grit.

It’s not just that our tastebuds have grown more discerning accustomed as we are to silky-smooth Flat Whites; contemporaries found it disgusting too. One early sampler likened it to a “syrup of soot and the essence of old shoes” while others were reminded of oil, ink, soot, mud, damp and shit. Nonetheless, people loved how the “bitter Mohammedan gruel”, as The London Spy described it in 1701, kindled conversations, fired debates, sparked ideas and, as Pasqua himself pointed out in his handbill The Virtue of the Coffee Drink (1652), made one “fit for business” — his stall was a stone’s throw from that great entrepôt of international commerce, the Royal Exchange.

A handbill published in 1652 to promote the launch of Pasqua Rosée’s coffeehouse telling people how to drink coffee and hailing it as the miracle cure for just about every ailment under the sun including dropsy, scurvy, gout, scrofula and even “mis-carryings in childbearing women”.

Remember — until the mid-seventeenth century, most people in England were either slightly — or very — drunk all of the time. Drink London’s fetid river water at your own peril; most people wisely favoured watered-down ale or beer (“small beer”). The arrival of coffee, then, triggered a dawn of sobriety that laid the foundations for truly spectacular economic growth in the decades that followed as people thought clearly for the first time. The stock exchange, insurance industry, and auctioneering: all burst into life in 17th-century coffeehouses — in Jonathan’s, Lloyd’s, and Garraway’s — spawning the credit, security, and markets that facilitated the dramatic expansion of Britain’s network of global trade in Asia, Africa and America.

The meteoric success of Pasqua’s shack triggered a coffeehouse boom. By 1656, there was a second coffeehouse at the sign of the rainbow on Fleet Street; by 1663, 82 had sprung up within the crumbling Roman walls, and a cluster further west like Will’s in Covent Garden, a fashionable literary resort where Samuel Pepys found his old college chum John Dryden presiding over “very pleasant and witty discourse” in 1664 and wished he could stay longer — but he had to pick up his wife, who most certainly would not have been welcome.

The earliest known image of a coffeehouse dated to 1674, showing the kind of coffeehouse familiar to Samuel Pepys  

No respectable women would have been seen dead in a coffeehouse. It wasn’t long before wives became frustrated at the amount of time their husbands were idling away “deposing princes, settling the bounds of kingdoms, and balancing the power of Europe with great justice and impartiality”, as Richard Steele put it in the Tatler, all from the comfort of a fireside bench. In 1674, years of simmering resentment erupted into the volcano of fury that was the Women’s Petition Against Coffee. The fair sex lambasted the “Excessive use of that Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor called COFFEE” which, as they saw it, had reduced their virile industrious men into effeminate, babbling, French layabouts. Retaliation was swift and acerbic in the form of the vulgar Men’s Answer to the Women’s Petition Against Coffee, which claimed it was “base adulterate wine” and “muddy ale” that made men impotent. Coffee, in fact, was the Viagra of the day, making “the erection more vigorous, the ejaculation more full, add[ing] a spiritual ascendency to the sperm”.

There were no more Women’s Petitions after that but the coffeehouses found themselves in more dangerous waters when Charles II, a longtime critic, tried to torpedo them by royal proclamation in 1675. Traditionally, informed political debate had been the preserve of the social elite. But in the coffeehouse it was anyone’s business — that is, anyone who could afford the measly one-penny entrance fee. For the poor and those living on subsistence wages, they were out of reach. But they were affordable for anyone with surplus wealth — the 35 to 40 per cent of London’s 287,500-strong male population who qualified as ‘middle class’ in 1700 — and sometimes reckless or extravagant spenders further down the social pyramid. Charles suspected the coffeehouses were hotbeds of sedition and scandal but in the face of widespread opposition — articulated most forcefully in the coffeehouses themselves — the King was forced to cave in and recognise that as much as he disliked them, coffeehouses were now an intrinsic feature of urban life.

A map of Exchange Alley after it was razed to the ground in 1748, showing the sites of some of London’s most famous coffeehouses including Garraway’s and Jonathan’s 

By the dawn of the eighteenth century, contemporaries were counting between 1,000 and 8,000 coffeehouses in the capital even if a street survey conducted in 1734 (which excluded unlicensed premises) counted only 551. Even so, Europe had never seen anything like it. Protestant Amsterdam, a rival hub of international trade, could only muster 32 coffeehouses by 1700 and the cluster of coffeehouses in St Mark’s Square in Venice were forbidden from seating more than five customers (presumably to stifle the coalescence of public opinion) whereas North’s, in Cheapside, could happily seat 90 people.

The character of a coffeehouse was influenced by its location within the hotchpotch of villages, cities, squares, and suburbs that comprised eighteenth-century London, which in turn determined the type of person you’d meet inside. “Some coffee-houses are a resort for learned scholars and for wits,” wrote César de Saussure, “others are the resort of dandies or of politicians, or again of professional newsmongers; and many others are temples of Venus.” Flick through any of the old coffeehouse histories in the public domain and you’ll soon get a flavour of the kaleidoscopic diversity of London’s early coffeehouses.

The walls of Don Saltero’s Chelsea coffeehouse were festooned with taxidermy monsters including crocodiles, turtles and rattlesnakes, which local gentlemen scientists like Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Hans Sloane liked to discuss over coffee; at White’s on St James’s Street, famously depicted by Hogarth, rakes would gamble away entire estates and place bets on how long customers had to live, a practice that would eventually grow into the life insurance industry; at Lunt’s in Clerkenwell Green, patrons could sip coffee, have a haircut and enjoy a fiery lecture on the abolition of slavery given by its barber-proprietor John Gale Jones; at John Hogarth’s Latin Coffeehouse, also in Clerkenwell, patrons were encouraged to converse in the Latin tongue at all times (it didn’t last long); at Moll King’s brothel-coffeehouse, depicted by Hogarth, libertines could sober up and peruse a directory of harlots, before being led to the requisite brothel nearby. There was even a floating coffeehouse, the Folly of the Thames, moored outside Somerset House where fops and rakes danced the night away on her rain-spattered deck.

Hogarth’s depiction of Moll and Tom King’s coffee-shack from The Four Times of Day (1736). Though it is early morning, the night has only just begun for the drunken rakes and prostitutes spilling out of the coffeehouse 

Despite this colourful diversity, early coffeehouses all followed the same blueprint, maximising the interaction between customers and forging a creative, convivial environment. They emerged as smoky candlelit forums for commercial transactions, spirited debate, and the exchange of information, ideas, and lies. This small body-colour drawing shows an anonymous (and so, it’s safe to assume, fairly typical) coffeehouse from around 1700.

A small body-colour drawing of the interior of a London coffeehouse from c. 1705. Everything about this oozes warmth and welcome from the bubbling coffee cauldron right down to the flickering candles and kind eyes of the coffee drinkers 

Looking at the cartoonish image, decorated in the same innocent style as contemporary decorated fans, it’s hard to reconcile it with Voltaire’s rebuke of a City coffeehouse in the 1720s as “dirty, ill-furnished, ill-served, and ill-lighted” nor particularly London Spy author Ned Ward’s (admittedly scurrilous) evocation of a soot-coated den of iniquity with jagged floorboards and papered-over windows populated by “a parcel of muddling muck-worms…some going, some coming, some scribbling, some talking, some drinking, others jangling, and the whole room stinking of tobacco.” But, the establishments in the West End and Exchange Alley excepted, coffeehouses were generally spartan, wooden and no-nonsense.

As the image shows, customers sat around long communal tables strewn with every type of media imaginable listening in to each other’s conversations, interjecting whenever they pleased, and reflecting upon the newspapers. Talking to strangers, an alien concept in most coffee shops today, was actively encouraged. Dudley Ryder, a young law student from Hackney and shameless social climber, kept a diary in 1715-16, in which he routinely recalled marching into a coffeehouse, sitting down next to a stranger, and discussing the latest news. Private boxes and booths did begin to appear from the late 1740s but before that it was nigh-on impossible to hold a genuinely private conversation in a coffeehouse (and still pretty tricky afterwards, as attested to by the later coffeehouse print below). To the left, we see a little Cupid-like boy in a flowing periwig pouring a dish of coffee à la mode — that is, from a great height — which would fuel some coffeehouse discussion or other.

Much of the conversation centred upon news:

There’s nothing done in all the world

From Monarch to the Mouse,

But every day or night ‘tis hurled

Into the Coffee-House

chirped a pamphlet from 1672. As each new customer went in, they’d be assailed by cries of “What news have you?” or more formally, “Your servant, sir, what news from Tripoli?” or, if you were in the Latin Coffeehouse, “Quid Novi!” That coffeehouses functioned as post-boxes for many customers reinforced this news-gathering function. Unexpectedly wide-ranging discussions could be twined from a single conversational thread as when, at John’s coffeehouse in 1715, news about the execution of a rebel Jacobite Lord (as recorded by Dudley Ryder) transmogrified into a discourse on “the ease of death by beheading” with one participant telling of an experiment he’d conducted slicing a viper in two and watching in amazement as both ends slithered off in different directions. Was this, as some of the company conjectured, proof of the existence of two consciousnesses?

A Mad Dog in a Coffeehouse by the English caricaturist Thomas Rowlandson, c. 1800. Note the reference to Cerberus on the notice on the wall and the absence of long communal tables by the later 18th century

If the vast corpus of 17th-century pamphlet literature is anything to go by then early coffeehouses were socially inclusive spaces where lords sat cheek-by-jowl with fishmongers and where butchers trumped baronets in philosophical debates. “Pre-eminence of place none here should mind,” proclaimed the Rules and Orders of the Coffee-House (1674), “but take the next fit seat he can find” — which would seem to chime with John Macky’s description of noblemen and “private gentlemen” mingling together in the Covent Garden coffeehouses “and talking with the same Freedom, as if they had left their Quality and Degrees of Distance at Home.”

Perhaps. But propagandist apologias and wondrous claims of travel-writers aside, more compelling evidence suggests that far from co-existing in perfect harmony on the fireside bench, people in coffeehouses sat in relentless judgement of one another. At the Bedford Coffeehouse in Covent Garden hung a “theatrical thermometer” with temperatures ranging from “excellent” to “execrable”, registering the company’s verdicts on the latest plays and performances, tormenting playwrights and actors on a weekly basis; at Waghorn’s and the Parliament Coffee House in Westminster, politicians were shamed for making tedious or ineffectual speeches and at the Grecian, scientists were judged for the experiments they performed (including, on one occasion, dissecting a dolphin). If some of these verdicts were grounded in rational judgement, others were forged in naked class prejudice. Visiting Young Slaughter’s coffeehouse in 1767, rake William Hickey was horrified by the presence of “half a dozen respectable old men”, pronouncing them “a set of stupid, formal, ancient prigs, horrid periwig bores, every way unfit to herd with such bloods as us”.

But the coffeehouse’s formula of maximised sociability, critical judgement, and relative sobriety proved a catalyst for creativity and innovation. Coffeehouses encouraged political debate, which paved the way for the expansion of the electorate in the 19th century. The City coffeehouses spawned capitalist innovations that shaped the modern world. Other coffeehouses sparked journalistic innovation. Nowhere was this more apparent than at Button’s coffeehouse, a stone’s throw from Covent Garden piazza on Russell Street.

The figure in the cloak is Count Viviani; of the figures facing the reader the draughts player is Dr Arbuthnot, and the figure standing is assumed to be Pope 

It was opened in 1712 by the essayist and playwright Joseph Addison, partly as a refuge from his quarrelsome marriage, but it soon grew into a forum for literary debate where the stars of literary London — Addison, Steele, Pope, Swift, Arbuthnot and others — would assemble each evening, casting their superb literary judgements on new plays, poems, novels, and manuscripts, making and breaking literary reputations in the process. Planted on the western side of the coffeehouse was a marble lion’s head with a gaping mouth, razor-sharp jaws, and “whiskers admired by all that see them”. Probably the world’s most surreal medium of literary communication, he was a playful British slant on a chilling Venetian tradition.

As Addison explained in the Guardian, several marble lions “with mouths gaping in a most enormous manner” defended the doge’s palace in Venice. But whereas those lions swallowed accusations of treason that “cut off heads, hang, draw, and quarter, or end in the ruin of the person who becomes his prey”, Mr Addison’s was as harmless as a pussycat and a servant of the public. The public was invited to feed him with letters, limericks, and stories. The very best of the lion’s digest was published in a special weekly edition of the original Guardian, then a single-sheet journal costing one-and-a-half pence, edited inside the coffeehouse by Addison. When the lion “roared so loud as to be heard all over the British nation” via the Guardian, writing by unknown authors was beamed far beyond the confines of Button’s making the public — rather than a narrow clique of wits — the ultimate arbiters of literary merit. Public responses were sometimes posted back to the lion in a loop of feedback and amplification, mimicking the function of blogs and newspaper websites today (but much more civil).

“An excellent piece of workmanship, designed by a great hand in imitation of the antique Egyptian lion, the face of it being compounded out of a lion and a wizard.” — Joseph Addison, the Guardian, 9 July 1713 

If you’re thinking of visiting Button’s today, brace yourself: it’s a Starbucks, one of over 300 clones across the city. The lion has been replaced by the “Starbucks community notice board” and there is no trace of the literary, convivial atmosphere of Button’s. Addison would be appalled.

Dr Matthew Green graduated from Oxford University in 2011 with a PhD in the impact of the mass media in 18th-century London. He works as a writer, broadcaster, freelance journalist, and lecturer. He is the co-founder of Unreal City Audio, which produces immersive, critically-acclaimed tours of London as live events and audio downloads. His limited edition hand-sewn pamphlet, The Lost World of the London Coffeehouse, published by Idler Books, is on sale now:


Buddha – Gwyllm 2011

Zen Poetry:

My daily activities are not unusual,
I’m just naturally in harmony with them.
Grasping nothing, discarding nothing…
Supernatural power and marvelous activity –
Drawing water and carrying firewood.
– Layman Pang-yun (740-808)

The mind of the past is ungraspable;
the mind of the future is ungraspable;
the mind of the present is ungraspable.
– Diamond Sutra

Unfettered at last, a traveling monk,
I pass the old Zen barrier.
Mine is a traceless stream-and-cloud life,
Of these mountains, which shall be my home?
– Manan (1591-1654)

My legacy –
What will it be?
Flowers in spring,
The cuckoo in summer,
And the crimson maples
Of autumn …
– Ryokan

It is too clear and so it is hard to see.
A dunce once searched for a fire with a
lighted lantern.
Had he known what fire was,
He could have cooked his rice much sooner.
– Joshu Washes the Bowl, The Gateless Gate #7

This is what should be done
By one who is skilled in goodness,
And who knows the path of peace:
Let them be able and upright,
Straightforward and gentle in speech.
Humble and not conceited,
Contented and easily satisfied.
Unburdened with duties and frugal in their ways.
Peaceful and calm, and wise and skillful,
Not proud and demanding in nature.
Let them not do the slightest thing
That the wise would later reprove.

– The Buddha’s Words on Kindness (Metta Sutta)

Hush Arbors:

On Rotation Now For The Weekend!

Coffee… Part 1

Ah… Coffee.  More on this after a few other items…

It has been a good week here at Caer Llwydd in that Rowan has settled in with Suzanne from their European adventure, and that Mary is working with me on publishing projects.  The 9th edition of The Invisible College Magazine is getting there, and there will be two new books soon to be released on Invisible College Publications.  Heady times.

I have been watching what moves, and what doesn’t on this site.  It’s interesting that the visual blog gets more hits than say, The Hare’s Tale, or the archives.  I guess this has to do with immediacy, or as I post the dopamine rush with the visual. Just to say, you’ll find gems here, and in the archives, as rough as they are.  Check them out if you get a chance.

More art, music and poetry coming soon.

On The Menu:
The Links
Commercial Break
Brendan Perry: Cresent
Coffee, Part 1
Poetry: Gerard de Nerval
Brendan Perry: Song To The Siren
The Links:
The Video Game Example
Political Gridlock Over The Gravy
Paul Stamets on Joe Rogan (Long!)
Stars From The Dreamtime
The Trojan Boat?
Playing Both Sides…
Commercial Break:
So… as I update my site, I will just put these here for now!

Weird set up for a site, but you can find 12 of my art pieces now available as canvas prints, wall hangings, pillows, coffee cups and much more! I have held off doing this, but these are fun, and functional items that can enliven ones home with. Check it out!

They’re Back! The Gwyllm Art Desk CalendarS!
Now for 2018!

I so enjoy getting them out there to people who enjoy my art.  The desk size and the wall size share the same images this year, so you can’t go wrong! If you enjoy them, please spread the word!
Desk Calendar Link!

Wall Calendar Link!

Brendan Perry – Crescent

This wee article on coffee was spurred a couple of weeks ago by our retrieving from storage a small krupps espresso machine that we bought when we moved to the US from the UK in 1986-87.  Although with yers truly being very rusty with the technique I managed to turn out a very decent cappuccino on the first run.  This experience and the experiences with making espresso or cappuccinos in the morning for everyone at Caer Llwydd sent me down a pathway of memories intimately tied up with the magick bean… 

Coffee, Part 1:

My experiences with coffee occured when I was, perhaps 4, or 4.5 years old.  It is indeed the gateway drug of my life.  Not sugar (that would come later), not alcohol (I would have to wait until I was 13) or any of the other myriad plants and compounds I have explored over the years.  It is a tale that is tied to family history, and to perhaps what has shaped me into the person I am.

I was introduced to coffee by my mother.  Yes, she was my dealer.  At that tender young age, she started to make me toast, with a soft boiled egg laid on top, and then coffee with milk poured over it.  Yes, I know, strange.  I have tried to figure this concoction out over the years.

Who thought this up?  Was it someone in the railroad that my grandfather worked for, and he brought it home?  Was this strange recipe something that had came down from the family in Northern Ireland?

Was it perhaps served with tea at one time and then coffee was substituted along the way?  Was it by accident, somewhere in the hoary past a family member spilled their coffee over their egg and toast and decided “Hey, this rocks.  Let’s give it to the kids!?!”  Haven’t a clue.  Such a mystery.  It is lost now in the dust that is time’s remnants.  I remember still though sitting in the kitchen in NewFoundland, on a bright sunny morning and being transported by the flavour and the caffeine to this day.

I enjoyed this concoction for years.  I graduated to drinking coffee a few years later, but to get someone really hooked, ya gotta make sure they have a foundation of use. There I was, around 7 or 8 having half a cup of coffee before I sped down the street to school, and usually crashing just after lunch.  A pattern really developed with those early forays in consciousness expansion.  Super focused in the morning, a complete loss for the rest of the day until I got home and had a coca cola, which where sugar started to come into this caffeine mix.

As it occurs, life carried on through my youth.  Graduated to a cup a day, then two a day on the weekend.  A pattern emerged in my life with stimulants.  You might catch my drift here. I was becoming acclimated to being altered chemically.

Life had grown progressively weird in that mid 60’s way, when my parents generation found out that they could get divorced finally without moving to Nevada or going to Mexico.  My parents were not the happiest of souls together after moving to the States. Their divorce had the effect of confusing and grieving me as well as opening the doors of doubt and introspection that turned into the beginnings of self awareness and self observation. Still gettings one’s footing as a young person then was challenging.  (This of course is through my eyes and thoughts. More than likely it is no different for anyone, born anytime.)

My youth was strange enough without those added little bits, and as I was already on a path of my own having bounced around from the different parents homes… I decided finally that I could probably do better on my own. So, slowly I would be gone for a weekend, and then a week, until I left home, and started living on the streets, sleeping in the budding communes emerging, and started to migrate back and forth to the West Coast for the first time via Freight Trains. (I have written about this elsewhere.)

My first job of any import as a young adult was as a barista in an old beat coffee house turned folk club “The Green Spider” on 17th and Pearl 2 or 3 doors down from The Folk Lore Center in Denver back in the summer of 1966. It was a very exciting time for me… such freedom!

Anyway, the Green Spider.  I hung out enough and drank enough espresso that somehow I got hired on to work in what passed for a kitchen.  I started out with cleanup, and prep.  This included coming in an hour or two before the Spider opened and turning on the old italian machine so that the steam would build up enough.  Those early hours before customers came in were pure magic.

I first learned to make fruit and cheese plates (exotic!) and slowly learned how to make espresso on that grand old Italian machine.  There were some 12 different coffee drinks, I mastered a few, cappuccinos, espresso obviously, and some of the layered drinks.

As The Green Spider had transitioned to a degree into a folk club, there was an eclectic mix. College kids of course, some older teenagers but a lot of the regulars were old Beats who still came in out of habit.  When I mean old, I mean people in their late 20’s to early 40’s.  To me the were the venerable old wise ones.  You could come in and nurse a cup of coffee all night if you liked, and pay no more than a quarter if I recall.  People came and went all night, but the regulars would hang out to all hours as the music played.

When the music stopped, i.e. whoever had gotten up on stage and did their numbers (numerous Bob Dylan & Joan Baez, Judy Collins clones, with some real talented people as well) I had to leave the kitchen, coffee maker and go up on stage and perform.  I can be fairly spontaneous, but who really wanted a 14/15 year old kid with a harmonica or jew’s harp warbling away?  I would be quickly replaced by someone who had a bit more talent and the night would carry on.  Being in close proximity to the FolkLore Center gave the old place a bit of local cache for talent.  Sometimes Harry Tufts would come down from the FLC and play.  I understand he is still playing shows after all of these years.  He must be in his mid 80’s now.  What a talented and kind person.

I didn’t work for money.  I worked for room and board, meaning all of the coffee I could consume, and the fruit and cheese plates with backed bread.  For room, I slept on the stage after we closed at night, sometimes midnight, or as late as 4-5 in the morning.  It was an interesting place.

When I didn’t sleep on stage, I would sleep in a broken down 1951 Hudson Hornet out back.  I shared it with my friend Roberto Apodaca, a Mayan who had gone to school I believe up in Boulder or DU.  He had a beautiful German girlfriend that he quarreled a bit with, hence his sleeping rough in the Hornet.  He spoke several languages fluently, and was an incredibly charismatic and handsome person, kind and sharing.

Espresso with a lemon peel. The correct way…

Coffee House life suited me.  I met all types of people. One that sticks out was a biker who had just gotten out of prison and who was hanging around.  He would come in and talk, always looking over his shoulder, tense.  One evening he came in, jumpier than ever.  I was whacking away at a loaf of  bread  with a knife when he asked very quietly, “Please put down the knife”.  I looked at him and explained, I had to prep the bread boards. He had a pen out waving it in my general direction.. “Please put the knife down, you are making me nervous” he said even more strained than before.  I looked at the pen and realized it wasn’t a pen as there was rifling going down inside the rather open end that he was pointing at me. This was my first introduction to the dark side of gun culture…  I froze, the supervisor froze, and the Biker put the pen gun away. He started to converse again as if nothing had occurred.  I walked away slowly to the toilet, and composed myself. When I came back, our nervous friend had gone and the supervisor turned to me and  said “Damn speed freaks”, and we continued into the night working away.  Our Biker came back frequently as if nothing had gone down.  He did get more and more paranoid until one night he just disappeared into the streets not to be seen at the coffee house again.  I expect he hit high weirdness and had to follow it to its conclusion.

The Green Spider served as a base for me whenever I was in and out of Colorado over the next couple of years.  I always had a place to stay, an espresso to drink and friends to meet.  My first real intellectual conversations took place there.  I was by far the youngest person around, but I was treated with respect, and looking back now with they all provided me a certain type of love and protection.

The Life I first found in Coffee Houses were as revolutionary to me as they were in England in the 1700’s.  Then they were a bustling scene with poets, singers, songsters and revolutionaries.  I found my intellectual footing there, a certain aesthetic that would lend itself to my endeavours over the years. I don’t hang out at coffee houses now days.  The one thing you notice now days is everyone is ensconced with a laptop, or a smart phone.  Conversation is at a minimum.  The spark seems to have fled (at least locally, but there is hope yet!).  No more a hot bed of discourse and music, with over stuffed chairs in the corner with magazines and newspapers from around the world.  No more cats wandering around.  An icon of dissent, discourse, and social change defanged, at least for the present time.  Coffee Houses have waxed and waned over the years, and there is still a chance for them to revive I think.

Next installment will cover coffee in my life later on…
Berkeley/North Beach/Venice/Amsterdam/London & Back Again
I hope you have enjoyed this part.

Gerard de Nerval Poems:


It is of you, divine enchantress, I am thinking, Myrto,
Burning with a thousand fires at haughty Posilipo,
Of your forehead flowing with an Oriental glare,
Of the black grapes mixed with the gold of your hair.

From your cup also I drank to intoxication,
And from the furtive lightning of your smiling eyes,
While I was seen praying at the feet of Iacchus,
For the Muse has made me one of Greece’s sons.

Over there the volcano has re-opened, and I know
It is because yesterday you touched it with your nimble toe,
And suddenly the horizon was covered with ashes.

Since a Norman Duke shattered your gods of clay,
Evermore beneath the branches of Virgil’s laurel,
The pale hydrangea mingles with the green myrtle!

(Myrtho a shining mask of Venus Murcia to whom myrtle was sacred, is the counterpart to the dark prince of El Desdichado. Alchemically she is De Nerval’s feminine principle to be fused with the masculine. Iacchus was an epithet of the god Dionysus (Bacchus) and the name of the torch-bearer at the Eleusinian mysteries, herald of the child born of the underworld.)
An Old Tune

There is an air for which I would disown
Mozart’s, Rossini’s, Weber’s melodies, –
A sweet sad air that languishes and sighs,
And keeps its secret charm for me alone.

Whene’er I hear that music vague and old,
Two hundred years are mist that rolls away;
The thirteenth Louis reigns, and I behold
A green land golden in the dying day.

An old red castle, strong with stony towers,
The windows gay with many coloured glass;
Wide plains, and rivers flowing among flowers,
That bathe the castle basement as they pass.

In antique weed, with dark eyes and gold hair,
A lady looks forth from her window high;
It may be that I knew and found her fair,
In some forgotten life, long time gone by.
Well, then! All is sentient!

Free-thinker, Man, do you think you alone
Think, while life explodes everywhere?
Your freedom employs the powers you own,
But world is absent from all your affairs.
Respect an active spirit in the creature:
Each flower is a soul open to Nature;
In metal a mystery of love is sleeping;
‘All is sentient!’ Has power over your being.

Fear the gaze in the blind wall that watches:
There is a verb attached to matter itself…
Do not let it serve some impious purpose!
Often a hidden god inhabits obscure being;
And like an eye, born, covered by its eyelids,
Pure spirit grows beneath the surface of stones!

Trembling Kneph, the god, shook the starry ways:
Isis, the mother, then raised herself from her bed,
Made, to her savage spouse, a sign of hatred,
In her green eyes shone the passion of elder days.
‘Do you see him, she cried, the old lecher dies;
Through his mouth the frosts of earth take flight;
Bind his lame feet, destroy his squinting sight,
He’s the god of craters, king of the winter’s ice!
The new spirit summons, the eagle is done,
Cybele’s robe for him do I now put on…
The beloved son of Hermes and Osiris!’
The goddess fled away on her golden shell,
Her adored image returning to us on the swell,
And the sky shone beneath the scarf of Iris.

Note: This poem is a consequence of the two previous poems. Kneph, is Amon-Ra the great god of Egypt. Isis was the Egyptian mother goddess (Cybele was her equivalent in Asia Minor): consort of Osiris she bore the child Horus-Harpocrates, the new sun (De Nerval’s image here for the Christ-Child). This is the alchemical fusion of male and female principles which produces gold, a process sacred to Hermes Trismegistus. Iris’ scarf is the rainbow, she being sky-messenger for Hera (the Greek great-goddess). Isis returns as Venus from the waves but fused with Mary, the Stella Maris.

Brendan Perry Cover of Tim Buckley

Wild Mind…

So, I am pretty much devoting this entry of The Hares’ Tale to my friends Dale & Laura Pendell, who live not far from Nevada City up in the Sierra foothills.  We go back a ways, about 18 years. I first met them at the Salvia Divinorum Conference at Breitenbush out in the Cascades.  They were always laughing, riffing off of each other.  It has been a great joy in Mary & my life to share time with them.

They have visited us a couple of times over the years, and we visited with them a few years back at their place. We had a running monologue on poetry, magick, incantation.  Some of this can be picked up in “Salting The Boundaries” one of Dale’s books. It is on my table by the side of the bed, I read from it often, before I drift off.  I believe that poetry is a necessity of life, oh, I do.

I will provide a link at the end for said book.

There is nothing so fine as friendship.

Much Love,

Dale & Laura @ Caer Llwydd 2011

Psychedelics, Deep Ecology, and Wild Mind
Dale Pendell

In 1969, in an essay in Earth House Hold, Gary Snyder wrote that “Peyote and acid have a curious way of tuning some people in to the local soil.” While exceptions abound, some of the more salient characteristics of the psychedelic revolution that blossomed in the 1960s and continue to this day are an embracing of things “natural,” including natural foods, natural childbirth (and breast-feeding), an easy acceptance of nudity and the human body, and, for many, a return to earth-centered living. Many favored the outdoors as a place to open their minds in the new way, and interest in vision quest and traditional nature-based lifestyles followed.

In traditional cultures less shielded from the natural seasons and the cycles of birth and death, the powers of the wild are everyday occurrences. People lay offerings at springs, or perform dances to acknowledge these powers and to maintain an exchange. For the industrial culture of the twentieth century, it took the tremendous power of visionary plants and chemicals to open many minds to what had been obvious to most human cultures for millennia.

Hard-headed rationalists and cynical materialists often found themselves humbled by a looming mountain, a stream flowing on bedrock, or by a wild animal that stepped out of its camouflage to say hello. Many hold these liberating experiences as the most important in their lives and have never returned to the old paradigm. In seeking to understand such soul-moving events, people have rediscovered what human societies for thousands of years have acknowledged: that we are a part of a great living fabric, and that certain wild plants, animals, or places are endowed with something that we might call presence, or energy, or resonance. This feeling of special resonance or presence is usually glossed as “the sacred” by Western intellectuals, though no one is certain what that actually means. Such recognition has led many beyond the resource management ethos of conservation to what has been called “deep ecology.”

Being tuned in to the local soil means being at home—the root of “eco.” As trivial an example as orange peels highlights the difference between the tourist and someone who can feel that he is standing on the bones of his mother. Anyone who has spent much time in the back country has seen orange peels thoughtlessly tossed along the trail or at the base of a rock. People who would otherwise be careful about packing out their trash leave orange peels because they are not “trash” (though they wouldn’t do the same in their own living rooms). But “presence” has to do with what was there before we came—call it power, or beauty, or suchness—it has nothing to do with our ideas of what is trash and what is not-trash.

Encounters with the wild always have an awe-inspiring quality—that is their nature–but most of us are conditioned from birth to block out these experiences. One of the great gifts of visionary plants and substances is that these cultural filters are temporarily suspended, so that the wild has free access to mind. The downside, of course, is that everyday mind, with filters back in place, may dismiss the experiences as hallucinatory, forgetting that the filtered interpretation is also hallucinatory. That is, the very special and extraordinary quality of the visionary experience itself tends to allow us to relegate the profound insights of that experience to the visionary realm only, as if it were separate and not a part of “reality.”

In his book A Zen Wave, Robert Aitken presents two haiku of the Zen poet Basho. The first goes:

Wake up! Wake up!
Be my friend
sleeping butterfly.

Basho is not on psychedelics, but he is intimate with the butterfly. There is a joy and playfulness that form a shared reality—the oneness is the reality. The other poem goes:

The morning glory!
This too cannot be
My friend.

Aitken’s point is that Basho also recognized the absolute independence and separateness of the other being. That’s deep ecology! The many beings, the many rocks and crevices and waterfalls and streams, all exist in and of themselves, entirely without reference to the human world and human uses. At the same time, all of it is linked together in an indissoluble web.

The true mythologies of a culture are the stories that everyone accepts as true, without question. While the cosmological systems of other cultures are easily dismissed as myth, one’s own never are. For us, that myth includes the belief that there is an “objective” physical world that exists wholly independently from the self—from mind or consciousness. It’s even called “the Reality Principle,” as theistic an appellation as one could come up with. To free the mind, to recover that wildness that is equally jaguar and peony, leaf rustle and dew on a spider web, requires both insight and training.

On psychedelics, even “ordinary” experiences can be hair-raising. That is a clue for us to the true nature of the wild—that the wild doesn’t end or begin at a fence, and that wild mind is something that we know about from our own experience. If psychedelics can help with that realization, they are truly, in the best and most ancient sense of the word, sacred. Mind is wild by nature. Presenting wild mind, sharing wild mind, is benevolence.

Laura Pendell Poetry:

Cry of the Coyote

have I died?

first you pierce the water
the shock of the cold
the shock of the wet
making you gasp

you’re holding
your breath
and then there’s

that next moment
when you turn
toward the sunlight
when you turn

toward the surface
toward the air
when time stops
for an eternity

or what feels
like an eternity
except really
it’s just a second

in that eternity
that’s really a second
time stops just long enough

and you wonder
will the surface never come
will I always be suspended
will it always be this cold

here in this body
of water
that’s when
you break through

back out & up & into
the air
the cry of the coyote
coming from you

(Gwyllm – sadly will not reproduce on wordpress as she wrote it, visually )

she set the house on fire the night she left,
a hunter by nature, not used to being denied
anything, overwrought,
both mad and maddened

good thing the woman who remained behind
was watery, deep, able to hold
both the birthing and the dying,
transforming the fires the first one left—
healing and bringing back the earth,
dampening the fires that threatened all they held dear

and what of the man
who had awakened the light in both women,
enthusiastic, spontaneous, original,
blinded by what he could not control
now torn apart, pulled, paralyzed
by circumstances beyond anyone’s control

in that time, each of them went beyond
the boundaries of everyday existence
those planetary forces so strong,
with the five planets aligned,
willing them to risk
for this vision of something larger

they had hoped only for joy and healing
not this agony, this arena of tears
everywhere they trod
each of them crying out
and still holding
that vision of love—how close once?
now lost to the fire’s lashing tongue
tendrils of dying embers
crisscrossing the meadow


Dale Pendell Poems:

The Divine Spark: Hard AI and the Poet.

Laura and I had stopped at a café connected to a small casino in Nevada. We were headed east—maybe it was Elko.

I’d been thinking about hard AI—about Ray Kurzweil:

little machines loosely called “life-forms,”
“consciousness” having little to do with anything.

Little semantic sleight-of-hands:
computability equals intelligence,
brain equals mind,
logic equals thinking,
brain equals computer.

The whole scene is thick with earth denial: we don’t need food, we don’t need bodies.

Mountebank, slipping highly abstract nouns between the shells:
intelligence, consciousness, brain, mind, “smarter,” “more powerful,” —
once you buy the basic con, that it is all measureable by teraflops, no, who would need a body?

Cyborgs: dream on. Or do they?

One of the other booths was filled with a Mexican family: Papa and Mama, four or five kids from eight or ten to fifteen or sixteen. Some one had said something really funny, because they were all laughing as hard as they could—eyes wet, minute after minute:

It began with the laughter of children.
–Arthur Rimbaud

And went on, minute after minute, faces red, the whole family, a good ten minutes:
delicious, out-of-control, unstoppable laughter.
In a Circle Staring at the Fire

The wind turned cold and the river froze,
so we built a hut,
set stones
in the center
to hold the coals
we burned mammoth dung-
there wasn’t much wood–
good place
to invent language:
suddenly flamed and we all said “ah!”
at the same time, then laughed.
One Woman blew
through a hollowed crane bone
to rekindle the embers
then blew across the top.

For Dale & Laura

How quickly it goes
It seems but a moment ago,
you were at our house
just a bit of heaven
good conversation, Absinthe,
and what seemed
like a moment
in infinite time.


Mary & Laura

Dale & Yers Truly
Said Link: