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.