Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dream Gardens and Loci

I have decided to share something today. It will be too strange for most, but just right for a few.

You might have heard of a ‘dream garden,’ which is a stable place you create in your mind and reinforce through visualization. Stable here means it is essentially the same whenever you ‘visit’ through meditation, visualization, or lucid dreaming.

Now you might ask, what’s the use of a ‘place’ that isn’t physical. One use is that you can combine the technique with the method of loci, which was used by the Greeks to remember speeches and such while walking down the same path many times and touching the same objects while they talked. You’re capitalizing on the mind’s visual associative capacity to recall words, emotions, emphases, or anything else.

Take that one step further. Walk through a ‘garden’ and talk to an imaginary person. Hold onto your sanity here ;) Tell the person about a set of insights you’ve had that you don’t want to forget. Perhaps you realized for the 3rd time that you made a relationship mistake that you said you would never make again, and this time you want the principals you learned to stick. Or whatever. Tell your imaginary person about it while walking the same path, and let them respond (you made ‘them’ up, but you might find they have surprising insights because they’re not inhibited by being ‘you’).

Now, the next time, walk a little further. Turn over a new leaf, really, in your garden. Ask your imaginary person to explain the insight instead of the other way around. Discuss how it might apply to seemingly unrelated situations – a business relationship rather than a love relationship, perhaps. In this way you can build threads of insight that are persistent, and are (at least for some people) less taxing than just churning the problem over in your mind. You might find that you arrive at more advanced insights in shorter time, and are able to continue their development in a structured way. If it helps you find ‘the meaning of life,’ or achieve enlightenment, or remember the recipe for spicy Thai noodles, more’s the better.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Faith and Action

There are lots of things to have faith in aren't there?

There is spirituality and religion of course. Even science has shown that having faith in a supernatural power is beneficial. For most people, believing that some part of the self is immortal eases their fears. People want to create meaning, and permanent death makes that more difficult -- what would it mean if everything we accomplished in our own minds, our personal growth, our feelings, our loves and hates, just ended? It is not a comfortable thought.

To some degree we put our faith in politicians, or in a system of government, though sometimes we withhold reverence. We assume that things will work out because the system is well designed, or because the people have a conscience, or because some combination of factors resolves to give us a measure of security. That feeling of security is the genesis of faith.

If you think about it, you have probably observed two types of faith. There is the faith that supports action, and the faith of helplessness.

It is interesting that one word can be turned this way. It really means two different things.

If you have heard someone say, "we just have to have faith," meaning, "there is nothing to be done," that is the faith of helplessness. This type of faith makes people less dangerous, less effective, and allows others to prey on them.

Then there is the faith that "moves mountains." I'll call it "true faith."

True faith requires more from us. First, it requires faith in ourselves equal in power to the desired outcome. As an equation, that's:

Power of faith in self = Power of desired outcome

So what about faith in God, I hear someone say. It is one thing to believe in a higher power, another thing to be its hands. Merely believing is a mental exercise, but acting on our convictions is faith.

Now I hear that little voice that says, that's nice, but how does that work for me? I'll tell you.

If you believe that the world is meant to be good, make it good. If you believe that children should have shelter, find a family with no shelter and help them build it. If you don't know how to build, find someone who does and bring them with you. Allow your own convictions to lead others. When you discover you are wrong about something, or you make a mistake, use that to learn, to strengthen your convictions.

That's asking a lot isn't it? After all, we can't always neglect ourselves and our families to go looking for homeless children.

No, but you can work for the things you believe in while working for yourself at the same time. Providing for yourself and your family is your first responsibility, always. If not, others would have to provide for you.

Cultivating the faith of action is powerful. It places the scepter in your hands, so to speak. You feel secure in the world around you because you are changing it - doesn't that prove that you have some measure of control over your world? When you act on your true convictions, you engage a different, more powerful part of yourself. Use that semi-conscious self to build your own life, to energize the things you believe in, and to add your own lasting, meaningful contributions to the world.

And when you do, I hope you'll take a moment to tell me about it. I will be here, offering what I can as always.

Your friend,

The Seeker in Dreams

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Good morning Blogger friends

I breathe its yeasty steam,
feel the cold cream cheese
on my teeth.
Now I look at the bagel,
blink away cobwebs.

Then I stand on its hot,
craggy surface, and the steam
fogs my eyeballs.
I look up to see teeth
and a beard moving in for a bite.

Down the gullet, with coffee
from the hot black lake
on the desk.
Acid greets us: me, the coffee
and the bit of bagel.

It's not so bad. We're together
and the stomach lining
provides a soft surface.
A blink, I nod, and I'm at my desk,
wondering what I swallowed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

A strange dream...

You showed me the worm
that eats the flesh of your hand.
You still keep it.
"Isn't it beautiful?"
You asked me.

You said you were showing
your faith when I looked
inside your skin.
A blind white larva curled
around your organs, consuming.

Later you asked, "why
am I so pale, why
am I weak?"
I could not think
of an answer.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

An interesting discovery...

Did you know that no two cats can lay down at the same angle within sight of each other? If you have 361 cats in a room, the last one in will explode in a cloud of fur.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

And now for something completely different...

Here is the beginning of the Books referenced this weekend. Be forewarned: if you are only interested in metaphysical encounters with local druidic orders, or adventures with blueberries and vodka, you may not fancy children's/picture books. If you are more versatile, however, you may find something to be enjoyed, and I selfishly hope you will give me the pleasure of your feedback and criticism.

You can find the aforementioned works, as they are made available, here:
Picture Books and Other Works

Thank you, friends. I will make every effort to post here or there or even with our mutual friend over here every few days. If I am too slow, do prod me, as time passes differently here...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Coming Soon

Hi friends - you might have noticed I have been silent of late. I may have a surprise upcoming, about which I will post here... more details to follow. The topic: picture books.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Awards

I have added my two awards below the text of these humble pages - The Lemonade Award and the Best Blog Thinker award. I will give some thought to where to display them, but wanted to place them here because I am deeply honored that Linda and Steph think so highly of me. Please if you do not know Psyche Connections and Incurable Insomniac, do click on the award pictures to visit them. It is well worth your time, I promise you.

And now - I also need to think about who to pass these on to. I will do so, but I first need to carefully consider.

Thank you again for the great honor.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The week

Alas, I will be unable to post much until after Wednesday. That is the deadline I set for one of my current projects, and I never miss my own deadlines. But I will tell you about an interesting little thing.

Last week my father brushed against a spider that was sitting on the edge of his chair. I happened to be sitting with him in his outdoor workshop. Inspecting the little lady, I saw that she was a Southern Black Widow, Latrodectus mactans. Oh ye little black haunters of privies and sheds, will you leave a few areas safe for old men and their visiting sons? Well I am glad she didn't bite anyone.

So I put this little lady in a jar thinking I would take a photo, but forgot about her, and now she is all shriveled. I can still make out (barely) the signature "hourglass" on her abdomen. But otherwise she is turning to ick. Goo ejected from her head as she dessicated, and that has her glued to the bottom of the jar.

I'm afraid if I take a picture now, it will be too unsightly. What do you think? Gooey raisiny spider pictures?

I am thinking there are better things I could post pictures of.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Blueberry Imbibements Really Can Be Manly; or, Anything is Possible

Possibility, reality... they are defined by each other, it seems. And yet, both are ever expanding. Are they not?

Now I ask you: is a drink really manly when it claims to be a martini, yet it is diluted with soft drinks and fizz? I say not. Even in this modern age, not. I am still wrestling with the concept of a vodka martini - what ever happened to just Dutch courage and dry vermouth?

But I must keep up with the times, and so I have decided to expand reality, if only slightly.

Oh by the way, please typo any pardons, I am testing several dangerous imbibements here. Maybe a half dozen more than several.

But this is important so pay attention.

Here are two manly variations on the martini. These are manly because I say so, and woe to any who argues the point. Remember my friends, it is not the drink that makes the man; it is the man who makes the drink. (Here I would insert a rugged wink if I had the technological finesse to do such a thing).

This making of drinks is a metaphysical endeavor, truly. Let us proceed.

The first! A Bluberry Simple:

You will feel like a simpleton if you drink too many of these. I think the blueberries make the vodka go to the brain. But I can not be sure in my current state.

It contains Vodka...













And note that the vodka can be any brand. Pour the vodka over ice in a man-sized whiskey tumbler...










This one was given to me as a gift of appreciation for buying much Scotch whisky. NOTE! There is no "e" in the word whisky; the "e" was added to distinguish new-age American whiskies. Ignore your spell-checker! Just as adding corn-syrupy beverages to fine whisky would be a mistake, so was adding an "e" to the word "whisky".

OH hell, I was supposed to be talking about vodka, wasn't I. Alright. I recommend pouring 3/4's of a glass, or maybe 4/5's, depending on the liver of the imbiber. Using my glass, pour 4 jiggers over ice.

Now you need blueberry juice. Note that "juice" and "cocktail" are not synonymous in grocery store lingo. The word "cocktail" is a synonym for "corn syrup" in the US, and should be avoided when making quality beverages. I do not know why we call it "cocktail" instead of "corn syrup;" I have been asking for years. True blueberry juice is a bit sour, truly. Mine looks like this:













Pour over the vodka, but leave just a little room.

Now, you could stop here, but that would be tragic in a way. You see, a manly drink should be shared with a beautiful lady. And that beautiful lady might or might not like dryish, sour drinks. For that matter, you might want to smooth the drink up a bit. You can admit that, can't you?

THAT is why you need raw, unrefined (need I say rugged?) cane sugar, just a tablespoon:













AND you should dissolve this cane sugar in about 4 tablespoons of hot water to make a simple syrup. Add this to your beverage.

Now you have a Blueberry Simple.

Using same proportions, you may make these in a shaker (I license them to you, reader, for eternal and free personal or commercial use, so long as you think of your friend Rab whilst enjoying one sip) to share with that beautiful someone.

Ah but we're not done. I must prove once and for all just how malleable a thing reality is. Easy enough in my state! And that brings us to...

The Blueberry Metro:

Oh yes I know, it is cliche to use the word "metro" to connote sophistication. In truth, I have leanings toward the simple things myself. But I cannot ignore this drink's lust for life. There are two variations:

The sweet:

Use the same proportions as the Blueberry Simple, and add a splash of Rosso. Yes, the Italian red vermouth. This will make a delightful and refreshing difference. And then there is...

The dry:

Wherein, the splash of Rosso replaces your simple syrup.

And there it is... two beverages, one with two variations, all manly because you say so, and yet they can be shared with anyone. Look at the beautiful difference we can make!

Never doubt that reality is bent to our will, friends; it is every day bent to the will of those around us, if not ourselves. Have a drink, dear friends. And some time between that first drink and the regaining of consciousness, toast with me on the malleable nature of reality.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Thought of the day

Sometimes it is better to ignore what is possible, and just do something else.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Meditation 1 on The Cycle

Natural disasters are little understood things. We can guess at when they will strike, but we never know the precise hour, nor the exact direction and location, nor the intensity. Further, we may prepare for the disaster and still be surprised by its results. A tornado might spawn a fire. A quake or a flood might disrupt sanitation, giving foothold to all manner of disease.

So it is with disasters of the mind. Wherever some 50-greats grandfather sent out his tremor, generations shook; he passed his energy to those who followed, and followed, and followed, for a thousand, ten thousand years. Where is proximate cause? Tangled in the roots of our oldest memory.

Sometimes I catch a silhouette, and say, “Good day to you, grandfather; is that a knife, a gun, an army you wield? How is your hand present, who lived so long ago?” I get no answer, but see his shade; watching, listening, waiting.

Even the slightest shades are dangerous. This one may be but a match stick; yet amidst dry grass it is the herald of Death. Find these in the dark places that hide them so well; give them no shelter.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

1999, The Turquoise Eye, Part 6


And there was Atum-Ra, smiling the same smile I had seen on his face before, in the grove. Wry, I would almost call it now. So I asked him, “Were you expecting me?”

And that made him laugh. I feel the need to reiterate that I underwent several days of torment prior to returning, to be laughed at. In one moment, I reached the end of my patience, became angry at an old man, realized I didn't really have anything to be angry about, and laughed along with him. He probably only noted the laughing, but one never knows.

“Why did you invite me to your ceremony?” I asked him. It seemed like a reasonable question at the time; I had the sense that he knew, if only in the most general sense, what the result would be.

“Because I believe you have the tools to confront darkness.” The way he said that last word surprised me. Not all druids behave like Atum-Ra!

“I have met as many druids as you have, I'll wager,” I said, “and do you know how many have said something like that to me?”

“None, probably.”

At that point I realized I was asking too many questions, and so I resolved to be patient. Patience, and quiet; that is what followed. We went to a room that attached to the temple by a breezeway, where Atum-Ra had tea ready. Maybe he was expecting company after all. We sat and drank tea and nodded across the table at each other.

Patience and quiet is a game at which I excel. My survival during several spans of my early life depended on invisibility and absolute silence. How else does one become interested in all the oddities that have attracted me over the years? And so I became quiet, still, patient. I once stood in an elevator with a couple who did not notice me until I spoke, three floors later. It was nothing magickal, understand, but there is a state of mind where one becomes so quiet and so introverted that they are just easy to miss. Though I have gained the ability to be boisterous when called for, I still slip up and startle people. Quiet, still, patient.

Yet I believe Atum-Ra was my match at this game. Also, it was I who needed answers. To what, I did not know, but I clearly needed something if I was ever going to practice my smithing, or sleep, or trust myself with... not that I had any conscious thoughts like that, but I had studied enough psychology to respect the power of those deeper parts of the mind. I would not risk it, no matter how rational I felt.

Do not tempt demons; that is their game.

After two pots of tea and a trip to the bathroom, I finally gave up and spoke.

“I am pursued by what appears to be a remnant of your demon. Apep.” I got a raised eyebrow, at least.

“Apep is no one's,” Atum-Ra said. “And in some ways it may be everyone's. How do you mean, that it pursues you?” A return question – I took this to mean I had only narrowly lost the game of patience.

I told Atum-Ra about the dreams, and about the sounds that brought back those terrors of the night, and about my Lady N. Finally, I asked him what it might mean.

“I can not interpret for you,” he said. “I can point you toward the path, but if I carry you the journey will be fruitless.” Then he said, “The strength of your reaction shows that your mind is open. Already you explore depths that most people choose to avoid. Whatever you find there, it will be rare in the eyes of those others.”

I had hoped for a better answer, truly.

So I continued to question. “Did you know I would be haunted?” There is the remote possibility that I might have throttled an old man if he had just said yes.

But in fact what he said was, “No. There are as many reactions to that particular ceremony as there are people. My own reaction was much like yours, when Lady Wadjet showed me. Others see nothing, and feel nothing. They are less lucky than you, I think.”

“Your mysticism is nearly impenetrable,” I said. But I knew his intentions were good, and that he was not going to volunteer more information, at least not yet. And frankly, he was playing on my love of mysteries. I have a perpetual, recurring, inextinguishable love of mysteries. And like Atum-Ra, I have never liked to reveal them all at once; it takes away all of the mystery, I think.

“So I must solve this riddle myself,” I said. “And I believe it is a riddle for a different part of the mind than the analytical surface. A ripple on the surface will not affect the depths. But move from the depths, and ah...”

“Yes,” he said. “You have the right tools. You have trained yourself for this, whether you know it or not. I would not have shown you if I did not believe it.”

But his words brought up something that I had to know.

“Did you invite me to speak at you temple just for this? Is this some trick of yours for sending people on journeys they haven't asked for?” Ha! The fantasies we contrive when we are squashed between pride and uncertainty. Ah well.

“No,” he said, and I got a laugh from him. “I was genuinely interested in the subject matter, as were several members. And Osiris wanted to meet you in the hopes that you might exchange metalworking knowledge. You can expect correspondence from that one, I'll tell you.”

Then he looked grave and said, “But I never let pass an opportunity. I saw the possibility, and my only choice was to show you the looking back.” What a sense of purpose Atum-Ra's order had; and what a rare thing that is.

That day, his parting words to me were, “Already you walk the path that Wadjet walked. When you reach your destination, I greet you as a citizen of a new world. Farewell for now.”

I left. But later I wondered at something. Lady Wadjet had founded the order in 1901, or so I understood. If she had shown the vision of the looking back to Atum-Ra, just how old had she been when she showed him; and how old was he? It is not an impossible timeline, by any stretch, but certainly, I thought, it implied a mightily long career.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

1999, The Turquoise Eye, Part 5

I must confess to some feelings of guilt here. I want to write pages, reams, tomes about my Lady N, truly. And yet, it is not where the story takes me, and is not the order in which things happened.

Oh, I spent a great deal of time mulling over my lady. Hiraedd, you might call it, that Celtic longing for what can not be had. I wanted her back, of course. Who wouldn't? How many of the dearest, closest friends are we given in this life?

And sometimes I was angry with her. How could she, I would think. How dare she take her self away from me? Well everyone has their self-centered moments, do they not? I had struggled for years between different feelings, never knowing exactly how I felt.

But now, suddenly, the note of my sadness changed. It became a larger kind of sadness, I think. I was angrier too, but it was not anger at her.

First I was angry at her father, because I realized that he had done something to her. Not something physical, but something. He had created within my Lady N the seed that would slay her. Was it not his hand, in some way, that wielded the glass, wielded the bottles of liquor that became her art; he, the failed artist, who had given her every self-hating phrase in her vocabulary to repeat endlessly, a song of her longing for his acceptance?

Well that is exactly how it was, at least if you ask me. And if he ever gets around to reading this, assuming the old man is still alive, he can eat the pages on which I write and choke.

Oh damn, I am being ungracious. Let me say that I came upon more insights into how people treat each other, and how we respond, and that I will write about them in time. But now I must be true to the story, and that means dreams and druids and a trail of little insights.

I tried to avoid the Turquoise Eye for several days. But I kept dreaming of that damned, rasping, whispering sound, and I shivered at the thought of sleeping another night.

And the hum of the sander! It is amazing how many places that same sound appears. It is the sound of sixty hertz passed through resisting coils. I could not escape it anywhere.

So, I went back to the Turquoise Eye.

Friday, February 6, 2009

And Now I Faint

Hello my dear friends. I would love to write today, and even tried to do so. However my eyeballs are demanding the warm comfort of their respective eyelids. In refusing to keep focus on objects around me, they have undermined my will to deny them their comfort. But I did leave some comments for you, did I not? That is something, at least. Ah well, au revoir, till we come together again my friends.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

1999, The Turquoise Eye, Interlude 2

From the journals of Brother Osiris of the Turquoise Eye

If you would make a sharp sword, use good steel and run it many times through the forge. If you would wield it, aim for the heart of your enemy.

(Reprinted with permission)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

1999, The Turquoise Eye, Part 4


I departed from the temple as quickly as propriety would allow. I think my haste surprised my friends.

I remember the wind blowing on the way from the temple building to the car, but it was probably blowing when I was out in the grove as well. Now I noticed because my inner self was bothered by something, and I could not tell what exactly it was. It was not the simple experience of seeing something I did not understand.

It seems impossible to write about my dream of Lady N without first attempting to describe her.

She was older than me. We were not lovers. Her eyes crinkled when she smiled. She dedicated as much time to a friend as they asked for; she just found things to do together. I once asked her what she would achieve in her life if she could choose one thing.

“Spiritual enlightenment,” she said. “And I would help people. Can I do two things?” I loved her for that answer. I wonder what she thought enlightenment would bring her.

She used to make constellations out of glass. They were mobiles and wind chimes made from melted whiskey bottles and mineral dyes. So we had forging and workshops and Renaissance fairs in common, and we traded tools and technique, and we taught each other.

She was kind to animals. She loved people, and she wanted love.

Ah, but she hated herself. She even said she did; I just could not believe it.

A few times I met her father. He kept a mental library of the same phrases, and my Lady N would always repeat them when she wasn't with him. Was she lonely for him? You still doing those stupid art projects? he would say, or, You don't know what art is, or, Art must be selling, you're getting kind of fat. I am sure I never heard them all.

Her father was an artist too, but of the stifled, unappreciated variety. I told her the things he said weren't true. But it was not my love or approval or acceptance that she needed. It was his.

In my dream I saw my Lady N dressed in robes like the priestess from the day's vision. But she was blindfolded, and instead of a sword or a sceptre she carried a shard of glass.

The demon Apep appeared and I understood that I was dreaming. Still I had no control.

Apep moved gently behind my lady. He was intimately close, and he took her hand as if he was helping a blind person. He guided it.

Blood welled up on her wrist, and I found the will to move.

I charged, grabbed at Apep, and my Lady N fell away and faded to nothingness. Oh my poor Lady N. If I could only hold on to her, even in a dream.

But the dream was not over, and I could not dwell on her, not presently. It seems that in trying to rescue her in the dream, I instead inherited her demon. At least, that is how I interpret the following events.

Apep did not fade away, and I did not wake up.

In a way that can only happen in dreams, Apep was suddenly a female. She caressed me, and in her caress I was paralyzed.

Now she pressed one of my own blades into my hand, just as she had done with the glass and my Lady N. Using my arm, my strength, she pressed the blade against my breast.

I can not put into words the fear this dream put into me. In that moment, fear became a sound, a vibration, and a color. I was sure I would die in that dream.

Then I woke up.

My chest beat twice its normal tempo, and I gasped for breath. I had shouted so loudly that the little steel bar in the doorbell box hummed in sympathy. Still ringing, it made enough sound that I could believe someone had pressed the doorbell. I was alone with the sound of the doorbell.

I stayed awake a while, but finally became weary and fell back asleep. It was against my judgement, but I was too drained to do anything else.

Now I had a new dream, but Apep was in this dream just as strongly. There appeared to be only sound and mist.

From the mist came a familiar sound, a long shhh like someone calling for silence, and also an electric hum. I could not place the sounds, but I knew them. I knew it would come to me.

Sometimes in the shhh I heard a female voice whisper my name.

I woke up late and wrote the dream down, as I try always to do with dreams. In reality, my Lady N had cut herself with a shard of glass, but had failed her attempt. She even criticized herself for that. What killed her was an aneurism.

The official report, as told to me, was that it was caused by chronic hypertension, which in turn was caused by her alcohol abuse. Her brother called to give me the news.

“I told 'er that stuff would mess her up.” he said. “Of course I'm one to talk.” I hung up the phone.

Some time after the dream of my Lady N, I went out to finish some blades I was working on. I turned on the belt sander and placed a blade against it, and that is when I remembered the sound.

The electric hum, the sanding shhh. I dropped the blade and did not pick it up again.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Poll re: The Turquoise Eye

Here is your chance to decide which experiences I share with you, friends. In truth, I am hoping to avoid writing about my Lady N just yet. She haunts me even now. But you be the judges, and judge honestly, for I have many things to put in these pages.

You can vote in the right-hand sidebar.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

1999, The Turquoise Eye, Part 3


In idle moments I wonder what other people's memories are like. Do they so flood the person with regret, that while they stand in line at the grocery store, or walk through the library, memory overtakes them? In remembering, do they feel as if time had returned them to the point of origin? If so, they should grind their teeth, faces clenched, until a stranger is moved to ask them, are you alright, sir, madam? Yet I never see that look on the faces of grocery store patrons or library wanderers. Why then do they ask me, am I alright?--I am fine, sir, madam, just a moment of indigestion.

It was one of those teeth-grinding memories that The Turquoise Eye brought back to me. It was the memory of my Lady N, that I might have saved her had I been wiser, older, more attuned to those things underlying the surface of our lives.

So we come to this ceremony of the druids, the looking back. For the most part, I have been unimpressed over the years by what I call ceremonial magick. I remember in my youth that we would bring crosses to one of the priests, and he would bless them three times, swinging like pendulums. That would be called ceremonial magic if a lay person or a druid did the blessing. But if God is going to bless a bit of graven silver on a chain, what mechanism prevents Him from doing so without the help of priests, special prayers, and significant numbers? And if the bearer of the inanimate object is a spite filled wretch, how is that fact circumvented by the worthiness of the priest and the blessedness of the object? What is the whole point of taking objects and making them “holy?” Why the incense, the holy water, the symbols, the long prayers, the chantries that send cards telling you that your dead friends' souls will be prayed for for a millennium thanks to your donation? I think I am closer to an answer, now, ten years later.

And here I am supposed to be talking about druids. Let me start again. Seldom have I been impressed by ceremony, but I am forced to admit that the looking back left me changed.

It started with mead drinking and wassailing, and I know that for some people that makes the memory suspect. But generations of natural selection have guaranteed the hardiness of what we call, in my family, the Scottish liver. If the drink is under 40 proof, it is flavored water. All the mead I could drink would not be enough to make me imagine such an experience.

Ladies and men who had day jobs at the bank or in forestry or the library, but looked for the world, in their robes, like a collage from another century, stood in a great circle with me and Atum-Ra and Osiris in the temple. I wondered what brought them here; was it some aspect of spirituality that they had not found elsewhere?

Atum-Ra was tending braziers. I recognized common mugwort,Artemesia vulgaris, as he laid bundles of it over the coals. Half the acupuncture and Chinese medicine operations in town would stock the same herb, used for moxibustion.

But here the mugwort burned slowly, gushing first yellow, then greenish smoke that drowned all other colors. The scent of the herb was ale and drying wheatgrass.

The druids chanted, and in the smoke I lost sight of the other side of the room. Whorls of yellow, green, picked up suddenly, eddied behind a druid who moved through the haze. Atum-Ra, I thought, maybe. I lost track of sound in the chanting, sight in the smoke, time in the eddies.

In the swirl I saw, or imagined, a lady. Her robes flowed about her, and she carried a sword not unlike the one Osiris had shown me. She dissolved back into the smoke.

A second figure appeared, also in robes, but more menacing. He held scales before him like a statue of Justice, but black scales, shadows in the haze.

For a while, I saw only smoke and shadow. I remembered the chanting, and in remembering, brought the sound closer to the foreground of my experience. But then I fell back to visions in the smoke.

This time the menacing figure carried his scales in one hand and a sword in the other. At the moment he appeared, I jumped to hear Osiris call out, “behold, the demon, Apep!” I squinted, but could not make out the speaker through the room. These visions did not appear to be physical. They were more like illusions built on the coming together of color and shadow and swirls in the thickening air. How I could perceive visual details in this environment I do not know; if I had thought to shut my eyes in refusal of belief, I might have done so.

I wonder, does the mind possesses a mechanism for inventing detail when what the senses perceive is unclear—like shadows imagined in total darkness? Did this trick of the mind save our ancestors from stumbling through the dark, keeping them in their hovels, afraid, with fire against night's scavengers? I pondered the idea then, with a limited palette before my eyes and long chanting in my ears.

And again I was back in the smoke, believing illusions. The lady in robes appeared, sword-less, but she carried a sceptre as long as she was tall, and wore a crown.

Once again a call startled me, “behold, the Lady Wadjet, founder of our order!” The demon Apep was still there, shadowy as ever. Its presence made me feel uncertain.

I watched the demon moving behind her, watched it creep closer, saw the scales raised high.

I watched as it raised the sword up, up above their heads.

The Lady Wadjet turned. The smoke swirled. She turned and raised her head to look down her nose at the enemy, Apep.

Now the smoke tore from a blow of that sword. I heard steel ring, snap, reverberate in the air, and then the sound of tempered metal on the ground.

Apep now held a sword hilt, blade-less. Bowing, he laid it at the Lady Wadjet's feet. If only my many battles had gone like that over the years; but I suppose everyone is here to learn from their experience.

What any of the vision meant I do not know for sure. But I know that night I dreamed of saving my Lady N.

Lady N is among my most beautiful, and most painful memories.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

1999, The Turquoise Eye, Interlude

A Brief Meditation

Perhaps you have heard a story similar to the following. A smith makes a weapon so fine that its like has never been seen. The patron comes for his new blade, and is overcome by its beauty. In his passion for the blade, he slays the smith, ending forever the smith's art.

To think, that an art can be its own unmaking.

Friday, January 30, 2009

1999, The Turquoise Eye, Part 2


The grove sheltered mayhaws as large as they grow this far south. For those not familiar, mayhaw is the may hawthorn, Crataegus aestivalis, a species of hawthorn that is used to make a delightful jelly, a southern delicacy. Hawthorn species are also significant to some druids for symbolic reasons, to others for medicinal reasons, and I have observed them to be common in groves where climate makes the rowan tree impractical.

Atum-Ra walked the grove with me, describing the trees and their history. I remember thinking that if the man had not found his way into a druidic order, he surely would have been a priest, or a rabbi, or a monk of some monastery. His voice held a note of sincerity that made other voices sound weak in comparison.

“Last season,” he told me, “we didn't have a harvest at all.” He paused then, locking dark eyes on me; waiting, I imagined, to see if we could arrive at the same understanding.

“It will be February at least before the mayhaws are due to bloom again,” I said. “Surely you're not worrying already.”

“Oh I'm not worrying so much as just waiting.” He smiled when he replied. I imagined the thoughts of a man 30 years my elder, the head of his order; what could I possibly offer in the way of wisdom, who had not even delivered a particularly notable presentation that day? Ah, well. But I think he was worried about the coming Spring.

“You know how superstitious people can be,” he said. “We actually had members leave the order. I think it's the first time that's ever happened.” I didn't have the gall to ask who he meant was superstitious; him, or the ones who left. I don't think I will ever know everything about druids. It is just part of their mystery.

When we returned to the temple, Brother Osiris approached carrying an enormous sword. This is no cause for alarm, by the way; druids frequently keep swords for ceremonial purposes, just as churches are known to have crosses and incense and chalices.

It also turned out that Osiris knew of my interest in historical blades. He thrust the pommel into my hand, beaming.

“Thank you, Brother,” I said, and examined the workmanship. They will forgive me for noting that the blade was balanced rather too far forward. The sword was intended for ceremony, after all.

“The Sword of the Order,” Osiris told me, though I had observed as much. “Look, have you ever seen turquoise worked like this? The eye on the cross guard?”

“Do I detect the pride of the craftsman, sir?” I sometimes follow hunches, and this time at least I was not wrong.

“I reworked it a while back. I was hoping to get your opinion; most of the blade was broken off for many years. Can you tell?”

“Hardly,” I said. He told me that a friend of his had one of my pieces. Blacksmithing was a hobby of mine back then, and an art, and a small business. Later the corner of the workshop where the forge sat would become so cluttered, years passed between uses.

Asking if I could test the blade, I said, “You gave it a spring temper. You are serious about your craft,” and that seemed to satisfy him.

Later I recalled Atum-Ra looking uneasy during this conversation, frowning on the periphery. I thought he might have a concern over me handling the order's ceremonial sword; but in retrospect, I doubt that was the issue at all.

1999, The Turquoise Eye: Part 1


This is one of my earliest confrontations with our enemy. I had little idea of the meaning until several years later, but I felt at the time that something miraculous had happened. To this day I look back on the encounter with Apep, and wonder whether my friends were cursed or blessed to know their enemy so intimately.

In December of 1999 I was asked to speak before a congregation located in my home city. They were and are a very private group, and asked that I not disclose the identities of their membership; but they agreed that there was no harm in relating this story and giving the name of their order, which is The Turquoise Eye.

First a little background for those who are not routinely contacted by off-mainstream religious orders. They are rare beasts compared to the usual institutions. For example, on the stretch of road between my wetland home and the nearest grocer, there is one Catholic church, 6 other Christian churches, and an administrative headquarters for a Christian charity.

As far as I know, there is only one group of druids in our whole county (there is, interestingly enough, a secular monastic order of scholars on occultism; their story comes a bit later, however).

Before I digress too much, let me tell you why this particular group contacted me. Over the course of 1998 my local reputation had grown, through word of mouth, regarding my investigations into lucid dreaming, sigils, and other topics typically shelved near the metaphysical section of your local book store. I was neither journalist nor debunker nor evangelist, but was driven by honest curiosity, and I think that is why I was well received. “New Developments in Sigil Magick” was the topic that day at The Turquoise Eye, and it was not one of my better presentations, alas.

After I spoke to the congregation, the head of the order asked if I would join them in what they called a looking back. Not knowing what to expect, and hoping it would not involve chemical intoxicants, I agreed. The head of the order went by his ceremonial name, Lord Atum-Ra.

Atum-Ra introduced me to the Justice of the order, who went by the name Brother Osiris. Osiris described details of the order's 98 year history, from its founding as a correspondence group in 1901 to the planting of their grove and later addition of a brick and mortar temple. They were a quasi-druidic order, in that they mixed elements of Druidism with several other schools of religion and ceremony. Notably they had no qualms about writing, one of my enduring frustrations with more traditional druids.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Letter to My Distant Cousin

Coming to the grove I find every tree
hacked to a height, and it matters not:
tamarind or pear, tropical or temperate;
all are waist high to you, my distant cousin.

You are a man of mechanics, standards,
and comprehend, do you? the intricacies
of screwing together a standard design,
yet have nothing your own, or kill it in pruning.

I should have seen in your ragged garden,
untrimmed, and sick from the overgrowth
that where you restrain the hand, Gevurah,
you bury a tree of nothing; shears are your nourishment.

Time to heal, and merciful cuts,
not this sap-soaked hacking, cousin;
could we enjoy this fruit together?
Ah, but you have no art, my distant cousin.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Birds

ON a slightly less dire note, I give you a bit of verse that came to me, unasked, this evening. Perhaps, as time permits, it will benefit from several rounds of revision; but here it is, now, in its raw ethereal form.

Birds

I feel a tightness as I walk, and wonder
what so itches and stiffens my gate
and I am greeted by a stranger, one
of the ragged black-feather birds of our day.

A grackle, cackles, yellow eye stare
quick motion and flitting tale she glares
her eye directed at a stiff-packed rash of flesh,
there, undetected till now she points it.

Only a scale of the skin, I pick, curious, and the bird flits
and no, oh no that hardpacked hill of flesh splits
dry skin scratched and seeds scatter;
seeds drop from the rash rend, my wound.

Never would I bring these ragged birds
upon myself, though there is beauty I suppose,
the quicksilver glisten their wings, bright coins their eyes,
but feed one and bring them all, I know.

And seeing spelt pour from my wound
The first of these black wings, my guest begins
to fill her craw, caw, a harvest of spelt
should be shared with friends.

They flood the air, scratching, screeching
for love of the feast, damned beasts!
Rake aside flesh, and such precision, their beaks
honed, for naught but the rich seed concerns them.

In their raking scattering slaking cackling cawing
the excitement of carnival, they miss some grains
I suppose. And left in the rends of the rest of my flesh,
by careless claws, focused eyes, forged beaks, forgotten seeds grow.

Carved, caricatured in ruined lumps I lay, spent
from spewing spelt; but perhaps these ragged black glistening
quicksilver wings will be sated, less ragged for the feast.
But no, as dark wings descend on the last of me I know
they are ever more ravenous.

Monday, January 26, 2009

The Mind's Eye

Soon, very soon I will begin our conversation here. Our task is dire; I must not hurry. To you who have met in dreams, remember. Remember the shape of the dream and together we will forge the tools.

This is my first waking message to you. But your mind must be strong, lest we do great harm. Therefore, find the words before reading them. Use the words to find and forge the tool. The key is in your mind's eye.

Up zaes nupf't ozo. Vxu treisot itlux
up zaes nupf't ozo. Cev apmz apo mupo va fsix vjon.
pr3aeiv3tavh'w3hcu73Alu3vxov3pw3evenur;
pr3aeiv3tavh'w3hcu73Iix3lr3sewark3rru3hrh3rru3px3eugequw3zuyur,
pr3aeiv3tavh'w3hcu73Zxvurkxl3lr3hwcqquxvc7
ot 6 siol 9 sotj'y 6 ysy. 9 Ayk 6 cn, 9 g 6 mbcyfx 9 gmgotyz 6 ypcf.
wu zeah b'dfuv oho. U ttuf faqb eah.