Sunday, December 17, 2006

Izzi Is Isis (je suis aussi)

I saw The Fountain a couple of weeks ago, and I just gotta say...

if I had not spent the past 20+ years immers'd in strange, forbidden knowledge, maybe it just would have been a semi-charming love story w/ really cool
non-CGI (!) special effects. Maybe.

As it "is," I sat there, in the dark, not believing my eyes, because I was watching a very beautiful and moving presentation of
  • the Isis/Osiris myth
  • the Shakti/Shiva myth
  • the Adam/Eve myth
  • the secret of the ancient mystery schools
  • the Sophia/Christ myth
  • the tzim-tzum of Kabbalah
  • the IX° of a certain palindromic magickal order
The filmmaker, Darren Aronofsky, has made Kabbalistic films before, including π, which I liked but felt a bit let down by--the magick or the mystery or whatever being a bit pedestrian for this jaded reporter. But The Fountain...! I felt like those characters in Valis who go out to the movies and are stunned by the subtexts-within-subtexts of an elegant work of symbolism that seems almost to be looking back at them, into their eyes, into their souls. And then they go on their quest, to find the mystery school or conspiracy behind the movie...

but the real truth is, we are all members of the we find when we begin to chart the star-field of Creation, only to find writ there already the story of our journey, in the hieroglyphic code of God coming to know Her/self.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Stay tuned...


a tantalizingly incomprehensible post on Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain...!

an unprecedented revelation about my secret identity...!


and...just in time for Christmas (2007)...The Holy Guardian Angel Media Store...!

work is really crazy right now and it's to the point where Sophia and I trade emails and phone calls about who's closer to the abyss of absolute madness...I give it to her, because she had to shop for a bridesmaid's dress this weekend and had to work...but my Goddess, when will it end????????????????????????

Friday, November 24, 2006


Out there...

break on through...


higher... faster... the barricades!-- to the misty mountains-- the stratosphere-- punch a hole in the
fabric of space and time-- go the mantras of spiritual machismo, and you can tell I've bought into them...but... She's right here, right now, I know. One can go to Spain, or as Thoreau said, "go around the world to count the cats in Zanzibar," and She'd be there, too. But She's here, in what Mary Daly calls "the expanding Here."

"Here" is Kali's unfolding...the matter and the spirit and the mind and potential, all cream-in-coffee, biscuit-crumbled-in- gravy together, to/get/her. Creation--but Creation creating itself, birthing itself, mothering forth in continual surprise...Thoreau also said, if I'm not mistaken, "God himself culminates in the present moment," and we can look past the masculine pronoun to the ultimate/intimate shocking depth of the now, the Now that the Zen masters and the Al-Anons and the Sufis and Shaktas and guys in loincloths on mountaintops in
New Yorker cartoons all want to tune in to.

The Omegacoaster as it plummets to total illumination; what I'm saying is, I'm still surprised that I've bought a house after years of gypsy non-committal commitment to everything and everyone (including myself usually)...I've begun to embrace my own space in the lap of Isis, and for me, "the ultimate bohemian" as a college friend called me, this is new and strange and most welcome. I had my Plymouth Rock T-day yesterday, alone (well, Laura was there) and creating the best recipe I've ever thought up, crawfish stuffing that rivals anything at Brennan's. As above, so below: Kali creates the universe, I cook--my humble imitation of Her "incessant influx of novelty," an imitation I can't help, as I am Her child and I, as all the world, reflect Her.

Thursday, November 9, 2006

The Papyrus of Kalibhakta, Part Two

[…at this point I’m going to quote from my journal:]

I walk slowly to Her, in trance, in awe. I reach Her and I kneel.

“What do you desire?” Isis asks.

“The love of the Divine Mother in my heart.”

“Do you see it there?”

“I see glimmers.”

“Close your eyes and see the flicker of that candle’s flame on your eyelids. It leaps and it falls, but at its core resides eternal, pure flame. At your core you are one with All; you are the God, you are the Goddess. There is no separation; all is One, as the flame of this candle. You are beautiful, Kalibhakta. You are loved.”

I felt my heart chakra expanding, pierced, as Isis said this. I felt surging energy within me. At Her bidding I arose and floated out the door that opened for me, leading outside. I thought of the flames: the flickering candle in the inner room, the tiki torch, the small hibachi fire people were gathered around outside, the feathery flames of the Mandelbrot Set I’d been exploring this morning, early, the gas log flame that was going then—all the flames in which Divine Light has flickered, going back to the sheaf of wheat at Eleusis and back to the Big Bang…She is fire, I am a tongue in the flames.

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

The Papyrus of Kalibhakta, Part One

The other night I had the privilege of dying and being reborn; this took place in the local Unitarian church under the auspices of Isis, Osiris, and other members of CUUPS. An acquaintance of mine, Holli, who is big into the Mysteries of Khem, staged the event, inviting one and all--who turned out to be me; an ironic gay couple; an aggressively pagan straight couple; a sullen yet rubicund middle-aged man; a mysterious black-caped guy; and a wheelchair-bound older woman and her [son?] [paramour?]—anyway, a Renaissance Faire-clad young man who happily did her bidding.

We approached the event with varying levels of seriousness. Those putting on the ritual, even those with the smallest roles, were wonderfully centered, kind, and serious, without being overly serious. The loyal reader will already know that I treated it as a life-or-death matter (I guess that should be “and death”), being bound by terrible oaths to taste communion with the Goddess in every breath mint. The pagans mostly dwelt in ritual-crit mode, a meta-mindstate in which commentary upon the proceedings is more important than the proceedings themselves. (Is this why paganism enjoys such a following in academe and in the military?) The gay guys were complaining about the cold, and hadn’t had dinner, and thought the whole thing was a bit silly anyway…

I figured, I’ve never been through an Egyptian death and rebirth ceremony, so I’m going to do this right. While I waited for Anubis to appear in the doorway and point his fatal finger towards me, I stared into a tiki torch flame and put myself in an alpha state. I was one of the last people in line, and so had opportunity to think about how I would face my actual death: would I look at it as an adventure, as I did this evening’s ritual? Would it come as suddenly as a masked figure in a dark doorway? Would I be afraid, or would I trust Kali?

When my time came, I was fully in a trance and thus tuned into the ritual’s intention; I was afraid on a mild but visceral level and part of me believed I really was facing death. As I was led down the hall by Anubis, in the darkness, not knowing what was to come, I felt that giddy free-fall of the unknown.

Suspension of disbelief is as important as skepticism to the spiritual seeker. They are the water and oxygen that allow all life to flourish. So after I’d passed through the labyrinth of the Duat and stood facing Osiris, I fully believed it was a God into Whose eyes I gazed, and even when Thoth’s cell phone went off and Osiris very slightly blinked in surprise (but quickly got back in character), I wasn’t thrown off too much. I felt myself start to drift back into beta consciousness, aided by the most potent mind-contracting substance known (righteous indignation), but pulled myself back into alpha, back into the sacred.

After my soul was weighed by Thoth, I was led down another, darker corridor, and into the church’s main worship hall, which this night looked and felt as alien as a cavern on an undiscovered planet. It was lit by a single candle and at the front of the imposing, utterly silent room sat enthroned a dark, powerful figure: Isis. In my state of mind it was the Goddess...a tiny recess of my mind cradled the thought it was Holli, but this point seemed hard to grasp and so I let it go.

I walked down the aisle, in the gloom and hush, and knelt before the Queen of All.

to be continued...

Shirking Responsibly

The reader is probably aware of resistance, arising from moral objections, to the disease model of addiction: “But that relieves them of responsibility for their actions,” etc. (In real life, of course, no one is relieved of anything; the legal/public health/social services system accepts the disease model of alcoholism but people are still jailed for DUI every day, and no expert testimony from addiction counselors has ever saved a homicidal druggie from the The Chair.)

The reader may not be aware that 150 years ago the disease model of disease met resistance from the ancestors of today’s Morality Police. In a book review in the New Yorker, Steven Shapin recounts the debate over the “contagion” model of disease (which eventually proved true) and earlier theories based upon bodily humors or malign, “miasmic” influences. Shapin writes, “some sanitary reformers, Florence Nightingale among them, opposed contagionism precisely because they believed that the poor were personally responsible for their filth: contagionism undermined your ability to hold people to account for their unwholesome way of life.”

Put in less charitable terms, contagionism undermined the power one group of humans was able to exert over another due to their shared superstitions, just as the disease model of alcoholism has undermined my attempts to control Teresa based upon my nutso assumption of moral and practical superiority. It is hard to let go, though…sometimes I still feel an urge to rescue her and fix her problems, though I’ve moved into my own house and thus have a myriad of my own problems to fix. I am responsible for my actions or inactions; today is Election Day and thus I’m off from work but have mucho work I should be working on, but instead I’m writing this and zooming into the Mandelbrot Set with Fractal eXtreme and am probably, alas, also about to play a game of Taipei…and I’m listening to Leila Josefowicz and I’m not sure whether I’m trying to “civilize a space / Wherein to play [my] violin with grace” or just fiddling around.

Wednesday, November 1, 2006

The Uncertainty Grows...

...which, in my experience, means that the spirituality grows deeper.

Apparently, according to this poll, "Nearly half of Americans are not sure God exists." That's eight percent more unsure Americans than three years ago, and it would seem to mitigate the constant propaganda we get about how religious, how gullible, how consarnedly sure of themselves these here Yanks be--

but in some areas certainty does obtain. We, the people, may not always know for sure that the Big Guy Upstairs is really upstairs, but we're fairly positive that He is a he (or at least not--Himself forbid--a She):

When questioned on whether God is male or female, 36 percent of respondents said they think God is male, 37 percent said neither male nor female and 10 percent said 'both male and female.'

Only one percent think of God as a female, according to the poll."

Whew! I was afraid the feminazi/pagan/freedom-hating lobby, which as we all know has ruthlessly monopolized mass media and public education since 1967, was making a dent. Glad to hear otherwise. (Sarcasm aside, I'm actually shocked that in the most important facet of my life, I'm such a statistical outlier. In nearly every other poll result I've ever read, I seem to be ass-numbingly average.)

Of course, the metaphysicians among ye are silently taking me to task...Calls himself an aspiring advaitin, then says God's a girl...geez.... I know! And you're right! But, though Ultimate Reality can have no form, the operative wording here is "think of God as," and so in this matter I shall call to the stand my Master Sri Ramakrishna:

"The path of knowledge leads to Truth, as does the path that combines knowledge and love. The path of love, too, leads to this goal. The way of love is as true as the way of knowledge. All paths ultimately lead to the same Truth. But as long as God keeps the feeling of ego in us, it is easier to follow the path of love."

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Me and Andy Warhol...

(who could seem so insincere)

(and I, who
might seem so sincere...)

have at least one thing in common, which I know I have blogged about before:

we like(d) to listen to the same song over and over and over again,
ad ecstatiatum...

right now, for me (can't speak for th' dead dandy Warhol) it's Ralph Nielsen & the Chancellors' "Scream," which for me is the ultimate rock n' roll song, even beyond The Birthday Party or The Pixies...the pinnacle of pop pandemonium, a hurricane of shrapnelling reverb'd gitarzz & monster-movie yowls, overlaid w/ tailfinned shamanic incantations n' cascading avalanche-drums... [I don't want to endorse fee-free file transfer or anything, but I'd wager a Google search could find you a QT of "Scream" if you wanted it...]

and I'm listening to this as I read about nonlinear models of consciousness, as the ripples of guitar and drum pool, drift, pile up into chaotic cadences that threaten intellect...The Same Song Over n' Over is a way, after all, of creating one's own mental attractor, of organizing a hurricane eye around which new thoughts can swirl...

and I need new thoughts. as my thought-clouds tend, of late, to be dark and doomy ones, confused, affrighted--though "objectively" only sun shows on my life-sea...somehow I've taken minor, neurotic fears and cupped them and warmed them so, like the proverbial butterfly's wings beating in the Amazon, they've spawned a hurricane in East Podunk.

you wouldn't think a greasy proto-Goth number by Ralph Nielsen would do much to dispel the above mind-mists, but this musick blasts such gales of razor-twang n' sub-garage grunge that it's hard to take serious th' problems a mind reels out, when it's tethered for the nonce above flesh; when it's fleeing the light of faux-reason to the Heaven of an eternal Halloween; when the jungle river of Unconscious unspokenly betides a finnegans wake of possible futures...

Friday, October 6, 2006


Love someone, or something. Love him/her/it/they with all your passion. Fake it if you have to at first.

Love uncritically. Love intensely. Love all the time. Hear sappy songs on the radio as songs about your Beloved. Eat that ice cream and taste the Beloved's sweetness; feel that fall breeze as the Beloved's caress.

Translate pain into longing. You have to wait in a long line at the airport and you just so want to get on the plane. So make this: you so, so, so want him/her/it/they/whatever.

Say the Beloved's name. All the time.

You are allowed to love others besides the Beloved. But--see them as aspects of the Beloved. In their perfection see the pure and total perfection of the Beloved. Love intensely, love all the time.

When you dream the Beloved you are doing it right. When you hit your thumb with the hammer as you're driving a nail and your first thought is love, you are really doing it right.

Feel your love in your heart chakra. This is where the Beloved lives. Vibrate the Beloved's name there. Hit yourself lightly on the breastbone as you do this. See the Beloved in rainbows in puddles at the gas station.

Do this until your life has changed, until your world orbits the Beloved's star. Until nothing that mattered to you matters anymore except the Beloved. Do this until you can look in any mirror and see a being beauteous: the Beloved's Beloved.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006


...I like being insane. The too-thoughtful, angel-befriending variety of insane. But it is not the most cut-and-dried, unambiguous of states. In fact, I am yearning for a little black and white right about now.

My chivalric code has put me in a limbo re Teresa, whom I love but am convinced I can't have a life with. My sponsor says I'm 'awaiting the will of my Higher Power,' and this is a good thing. I say...
dammit, HP, make up your goddamn mind already! When I say "love" I know I don't mean classic, boy-girl, passionate, do-or-die anymore, and that's really sad, but it's also the way it is and therefore here I am. So I don't make any drastic decisions because I'm not ready and she's not ready and I feel like a ^%$#@ Woody Allen character but also know the trouble those oh-so glamorous dramatic drastic decsions have led to in the past.

I reside between the sensual and spiritual, too, another limbo--sipping my lovely Portuguese red wine, nibbling my velvet, humid-musky dark chocolate. The red and black of tantra put me: nowhere. I don't dare renounce (and scorn Kali's creation); I don't dare zone out into work/party/work/party/ad nauseam (and scorn Her heart-song of love...32nd-notes of birds on phone lines, secret messages in numbers and song lyrics, fleece of our marriage bed in lacy late-summer clouds...)

Another no man's land is my job: some of the people there are about to Really Make Me Upset, something the horror of which they cannot--
and can never--imagine. Until it befalls them and it's too late and they're on that plane heading back home wondering what the hell happened. But: despite some of the silly tasks foisted on me by the lazy or unimaginative, despite the gossip, etc., I still really do love to show up for work every day.

And I could ditto the above confoundments--my writing (writing?? a diary? a blog???? a few specialized articles no one reads?) plans to paint my temple room green, though I work or sleep all weekend and still have no time for incipient termite treatment...though no termites are there...

I can only conclude: life is too complicated to fit the slots of our dreams. And I can only extrapolate: it's so complicated because it's the bodying forth of a Goddess Whose essential Self is chaos, and our little brains are so simple and grasping so they'd be sure to get all obsessed and chase after Her in a love-game we call life.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Non-Trip to the [Non-?] Guru

So I'm sitting in Sophia's kitchen, telling her that I have decided, and my Angel has validated, that I would not, after all, go see the guru whom I had known intimately, profoundly (only) via my mind's eyes/ears. "The possibly corrupt guru who doesn't call herself a guru--the one I had the imaginary relationship with? I decided not to go see her, after all, and my imaginary friend says it's OK."

The fact that Sophia not only took this news with a straight face but then proceeded to ask all the right interested and concerned questions just proves that she is a true friend.

But it's true, friends: I was packing boxes for my seemingly endless move, and talking to Laura about Guru X's visit to the US, and I realized: as much as I love Guru X, and as much as She changed my life unutterably and inexorably and unfathomably...

I couldn't figure out if I really wanted to go see Her or not. This was disconcerting for me, as it was as analogous to Morrissey, Sleater-Kinney, and Current 93 all playing in my neighbor's garage and me deciding to wash my hair that night instead. And I don't have that much hair!

So I was doing my typical Al-Anon dithering dance, the
"I don't know what I really want waah waaaaah" wa-watusi, and I was ordering my sweet Holy Guardian Angel to tell me what to do--tell me whether to drive up and see Guru X or not. And to Her credit, Laura just kept asking, as She will do until I want to smack Her, "What is your True Will?" And this went on until I said something like "goddamit just tell me what to do."

Laura, in Her infinite kindness, asked me then the simplest, most revealing question She could: "Do you
want to go?"


"Then what's the problem? Don't go."

"But I owe Guru X soooo much. She gave me my

"People like Her don't see the world as a balance sheet upon which they're owed something. You seem as though you just want to show up at this darshan and have Her run across the room towards you, in slow motion, in some sepia moment where you two embrace and eveyone's in awe and asking, 'who's
that guy?'"

And you can't imagine Laura's sweetness as She intones this terrible truth about my selfish motives about seeing Guru X--you can't imagine the pure kindness and good humor, the gentle supportive embrace of Laura's words--as she cuts to the horrid depth of my egotism. [This is how I know She is an angel--She can proclaim very painful truths without acrimony.]

And Laura's right--I've learned all I'm ever going to learn from Guru X, in fact, and only wanted to go see Her to have some Hallmark moment. So in that instant I decided not to go. I begin to see, after all these years, why Guru X doesn't like being called a "guru"--she's not a teacher who adopts would-be adepts and leads them over the bumpy road to realization. Her stated goal is to bring God's light into our lives so that God can change us along the individual lines encoded in the unfolding of the universe. Guru X is apparently so good at this She can do it over long distances (or I have an extraordinarily good imagination)...but as Sophia seemed to imply, sitting there in her kitchen, it kinda doesn't matter. An initiation is an initiation, and we know it because we are no longer the same and can never go back.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Another Guru Journey

I mentioned earlier that my first guru was coming to the USA for the first time in, I think, 15 years. I've never met her in person; we had an intense astral relationship that culminated in her "firing" me as a disciple because I wouldn't stop worshiping her as God. She finally said to me, "I'm not here for you to worship. I'm here to point you towards the Light. You will have to find God for yourself."

I know it sounds completely bonkers to talk about an "astral relationship" of any kind, but--if you're reading
WiHW you just gotta roll with it. Anyway, after my initial shock and confusion upon being fired, I felt drawn to Kali as an iron shaving is drawn to a magnet, and I found in Kali everything I'd had in Guru X and more. She'd been right, though I hated to admit it: I needed to surrender to God and sink into Her infinite ocean, not just play on the shore, as much fun as that was.

Guru X (I don't name her or my current Teacher because people can get caught up in the messenger to the exclusion of the message--I know! I did it!)...Guru X has a rather interesting reputation. (She also doesn't like to be called a "guru" but for the sake of clarity I'm doing so here. Sorry, Ma :) ) A prominent Ex-Disciple of hers accuses her of being a channel for dark forces, some kind of soul-vampire whose career was fomented and stage-managed by a black magician (now deceased) who had an unhealthy interest in the younger Guru X. This Ex-Disciple, whom I've met and learned a lot from and hold in the highest esteem, believes that Guru X cursed him when he left her and that this curse shattered, for a time, his life and his very psyche. This guy is more than sane, by the way--if I told you his academic and literary accomplishments you'd expect him to have Sir before his name or a college or two named after him.

And I don't know what to think. I was just reading the web site for Guru X's visit, and an interview with her there weirdly paralleled my life since my own breakup with her--only, in my case, it's been very positive. She claims to bring people into the Divine Light so that they will grow closer to God and surrender to Her. That's happened. So that they will devote their lives and careers to God. That's happened. So that they will love their families more. That's happened. So that they will grow more tolerant and see that
all spiritual paths lead to God. Even that's happened, and for me that's saying something. She says she wants to help people find the Divine Light within them, and that's happened. So...

we may not have a cause-and-effect relationship here that would withstand a double-blind study conducted in a vacuum, but Guru X seems to have taken a disillusioned spiritual seeker who was obsessed with what other people thought of him and who aspired to be nothing more than another dessicated intellectual wearing black and ordering the ratatouille--and turned him into yours truly: knight errant, angel consort, no spiritual giant but a lot more centered and happy than I've ever been. And at peace with many of the Big Questions that used to torment me back when my cosmology put me at the center of the cosmos.

I know there are manipulative and abusive self-proclaimed gurus. I know there's such a thing as black magic. I also know that needy people will project their fantasies and fears onto someone they perceive as spiritually powerful, and that these fantasies and fears, like all expectations, are resentments waiting to happen. One reason I love and respect the Ex-Disciple is that we're so much alike: grail knights lost in the 21st century, intellectuals who've had to face the hard truth that intellect can't lead one to ultimate reality (and the harder truth that there
is an ultimate reality), amants who see God in every beloved and who thus have lived out the death of God...and we're both a tad dramatic. I don't know what happened between him and Guru X; I just know what happened between she and I and, more importantly, how utterly different I am afterwards.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fripp Comes Alive

I sat in my car in the parking lot of the [independent!] music store, shouting "Thank you, Kali! Thank you, Kali!" loud, loud, not caring who heard, who saw...and what musical offering could lift me to this height of felicity? The 2006 two-CD remastered version of Robert Fripp's Exposure, that's what, the album that in 1979 ravish'd me of my innocent dimwit view that all pop music was necessarily Top-40 music or "art rock." [Well, there was the cool stuff my parents listened to, when they listened to anything cool: Ennio Morricone, Miles Davis, The Beatles...but that was old stuff. Music wasn't great anymore, went the 1970s loser refrain...the 60s are over, maaan...]

Exposure, an album I bought solely because of its cover art, because it looked so weird and so against anything Casey Kasem or Don Kirshner stood for. No bright colors, just sickly, tranquilized, video-monitor blue-black. No artist logo or blocky, cocky typography, just some neurotic-looking "calligraphy." No song titles listed, so one couldn't tell if one were purchasing a lifestyle accessory that vaunted screwin', tokin', life on The Road, or the vague "protest" aesthetic of the day, itself a pale descendant of 1960s anti-war, anti-The Man rhetoric. No song titles, and the person on the cover had short hair and wore a--tie. He looked like a haberdasher, not a rock guitarist! My friend John Walker, an amazingly skilled guitar player himself and, like me, a staunch ROCK fan, said the guy in the background image (w/ the eyelashes) looked like Brian Eno, and "He's gay." Not normal-gay, you could tell from John's withering tone, not gay in some safely stagey Village People sense or some aggressively hip Bowie sense, but... gay... because...he...liked it....

The music itself ranged from parodic traditional rock n' roll to two-fisted King Crimson-esque prog rock to serene soundscapes to some of the most abrasive aural assaults I'd ever heard. It still holds up in the abrasive department: Tony Levin's cougar-growl bass; keening guitars that sounded like a rampaging pack of circular saws; unholy-sounding scales, often played demonically fast; a sampled family argument as vocal track to one song, containing the immortal line "You're carrying a baby and you don't know if it's a nigger, a spic, or a white baby!" The professional vocalists were even scarier: Peter Hammill, creepy and predatory on "Chicago," flipping out nearly to the point of glossolalia on "Disengage." Terre Roche, screaming like she's ten centimeters dilated on the title track, a performance that makes John Lennon's "primal scream" album sound, well, emo.

But then there were the elegaic, ballady numbers sung by Daryl Hall, Peter Gabriel, and a sweetly contemplative Ms. Roche...the variety of sounds, styles, and vocals on the record was itself another affront to the pop album as usual, which by 1979 had calcified rhythmically to the fast-slow-fast of the classical concerto. (Punk rock wasn't readily available in my hometown of Lower Podunk, pop. 16,000. Once in a while late at night you could turn on the radio and get a station from The City and hear tantalizingly bizarre tracks by Elvis Costello, Talking Heads, or the Sex Pistols, but the Fripp record had them all beat in terms of sheer, in-your-face, l'art pour l'art-ism. You could listen to the Sex Pistols and hear the Chuck Berry sonic DNA; you could listen to Costello and isolate elements of rock, reggae, surf, and country-western, but much of Fripp's music seemed to have no provenance other than a desire to shred the listener's stereo speakers and brain.)

I have always felt that, in a way, my life began when the needle hit the groove the first time I listened to
Exposure, or at least my lives as a hipster, an obsessive music fan, an alternative radio DJ, as someone who, in the words of Robert Fripp himself, knows what it's like "When the Muse descends," sensing "directly (one aspect of) the Creative impulse and its inexpressible benevolence." And I feel Kali's creative benevolence in this music, which is all I've listened to for several days...

but even that's not the great thing about this re-release of Exposure, if I may risk blasphemy (but not--for it is All Her Creative Benevolence--everything, everywhere--). The
great thing is, they've restored the above-mentioned vocal tracks by Peter Hammill. For you see, dear reader, the previous CD release of the album replaced that inspired snarling and caterwauling-- inexplicably, unconscionably, and well-nigh unforgivably-- with flat, affectless, demo-sounding vocals. The effect was similar to the other worst art disaster in my life--going to a movie called Blue fully believing I was about to watch the last film by Derek Jarman, in which he speaks of his AIDS-related blindness and impending death over an entirely blue screen--only to find, instead, a potboiler of the same name about some imperiled chick who cries a lot despite having an apartment most people would sell their siblings for. There I was, listening to The Album That Changed Everything (every music lover has one, supreme and inviolate, above all others)...and the two best songs had been eviscerated. I even emailed the head of the Fripp/King Crimson Fan Club in the UK about it, but he never replied. (Obviously he was as crushed as I was.)

I could go into a whole riff on the sampling alone: one hears Gurdjieffan guru J.G. Bennett; wild-man guru Shivapuri Baba; a backwards Monty Python snippet; Fripp's muse Joanna Walton; someone who might be the very gay Mr. Eno [who IRL is not gay] scoffing at an "incredibly dismal, pathetic chord sequence"; the arguing family, recorded out of Fripp's Hell's Kitchen apartment window; an hour-long lecture sped up 800 times so it's three seconds of static; a newscaster cut-up so he's announcing, "There's a new governor of racketeering, conspiracy, mail fraud, and income-tax evasion!" Sampling wasn't entirely new in 1979, of course, and neither was noisy, avant-garde music, but Fripp put together more than an album with
Exposure: he constructed a collaborative audio autobiography, a chaotic sensorium of Who He Was Right Then--a lie that told an immense truth, and told me that art was something I could do, too. If it doesn't sound too tribute-y, too emo: WiHW is my Exposure...

Sunday, July 30, 2006

This Guy Rocks

(<-- this guy does, too)

I could hardly believe my eyes as I sat in the official
WiHW La-Z-Boy, sippin' my Sunday morning coffee and listening to the same Duke Ellington CD I've put on every morning this week (Blues in Orbit)...

it was the New York article about religion (a sure bet for me)...but it said: OK, there's this pastor of an evangelical mega-church. Gregory A. Boyd. And he's preaching stuff like this: "I am sorry to tell you that America is not the light of the world and the hope of the world. The light of the world and the hope of the world is Jesus Christ."

Oh, it gets worse. He drove away about 1ooo church members (a fifth of his congregation) when he could remain silent no longer about the idolatry rampant in the species of Christianity that not only obsesses itself with patriotism, but with "homosexuality, abortion" and the freakish notion that Christians in American are some kind of persecuted, endangered minority (though Pastor Boyd now has me seeing how this could be true--depending on how one defines "Christian").

He even said (
can't you get excommunicated for this???): "America wasn't founded as a theocracy. America was founded by people trying to escape theocracies. Never in history have we had a Christian theocracy where it wasn't bloody and barbaric. That's why our Constitution wisely put in separation of church and state."

In case you're thinking that this is one of those Kalibhakta's the story.

Regular readers of this blog probably know that I'm a recovering Pentecostal who has been led by the Dark Mother Kali, of all deities, back to an appreciation and even a love for Christianity. Early in our relationship, Kali told me point-blank to climb off my religious pedestal and stop looking down on members of the faith I fled for many of the same reasons Pastor Boyd has bravely chosen to stay and fight.

Once I gave in [dramatically, as my friend Sophia would predict :) ]-- in Spain, in tears, on my knees in a cathedral before a statue of the Sorrowful Mary, Esperanza)...once I gave in, Kali immediately sent me a staggering surfeit of spiritual literature, all by Christians: Jean-Pierre de Caussade, Julian of Norwich (whom I'd read and even written about, but had never grokked in fulness), Simone Weil, Richard Rolle,
The Cloud of Unknowing, and the incomparable Gabrielle Bossis, whose He and I is my favorite book ever about the spiritual path. [She probably wouldn't appreciate my saying this, but it's an HGA book par excellence.]

Kali even led me, Trickster that She Is, to...yes...I know it's frightening...the Bible. The para-biblical stuff you'd expect me to read, yes: the Nag Hammadi texts, the Pseudepigrapha (Enoch, in particular)...but also the plain, old, Hellman's mayo, canonical
Bible. Biiiiiiible. Say it with me, children: Biiiiiiiiiiiiible. The book that, whether we admit it or not, inspires fear and loathing in liberals, pinkos, pagans, peaceniks, eggheads, crunchies, Greens, and lavenders. And one day, yea, as I perus'd this lately disdain'd tome, reading my least favorite of all its authors, "Paul" [he didn't write all they say he wrote], I came across verses that verily I remember'd from my sojourn amongst the brethren and cistern. Turn with me to the book of Second Corinthians, eleventh chapter and the thirteenth verse:
13: For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14: And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15: Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
Now, oddly enough, when I was a Christian they told me these verses referred to cults, New Agers, Hare Krishnas, the Antichrist, and Charles Manson. But--plainly as blood on white linen--they refer to "Christians" with lowly motives. And yea, when I read them a few months ago, seeing them afresh, I had the same, chilling thought Pastor Boyd might have had: this has happened. this is the church now. And this was the one time in my life I felt assured: I have read true Prophecy in the Bible. Thus, the "remnant," as we used to call that little band of true Christians that would survive in the end times, might be identified by its outrage at the faux amis who have found Caesar a more congenial master than Christ.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Grigorss said to me not long ago, "You are not someone who gets all sentimental about the past" ... speaking in this--way--that almost sounded like he meant that I was like, all cold an' shit. I knew what he meant (I think) whole life I've felt the urge to keep moving, keep growing, keep testing or criticizing myself and finding what doesn't work and then change it or drop it.

Laura even, in my big initiation with her, gave me a Sanskrit name related to this topic, based on something that a spiritual teacher of mine once said to the effect that, no matter how much of God we receive, there's always more and always more and always more and more...

so I keep moving on. (It's odd, then, that I'm a Taurus with very definite Taurean tendencies: I keep the same friends forever if we're truly close [me and Grigorss met in 1979--!!]; I hate to move; I can eat the same thing every day and really like it; I goof off every chance I get; I still have my first-grade yearbook and report cards and keep and genuinely treasure odd things like a rock Sophia gave me and a lamp I fell in love with when I was 3 [that post will come later...])

But there's a difference between treasuring something and wanting to stay in or return to the time it represents. Today I got an invitation to a Lammas ritual, and it brought me sweet and blessed memories of my time as a witch--the surprising, exhilarating rituals, the messages the Divine Mother would send me in dreams, in stars, in spiders...I thought back with love to my sister witches, women with whom I danced and drummed and unraveled mysteries of who we were and was there really a God, and could She be the same One, somehow, as the One depicted in the Old Testament? (We thought not.)

I don't want to go back, though, and it's possible that, were I to meet some of my co-pagans today, that we just wouldn't have much to talk about. Some of the basic ways in which we saw the world don't compute for me any more and, after a little while, the past stalls for me as conversational motor. When you're as enamored of evolution as I am, you end up being an ex-everything: ex-christian, ex-atheist, ex-buddhist, ex-witch, ex-Wilsonian agnostic metaprogrammer.

Sometimes I wonder, in love as I am with Kali and feeling in Her the first image of God that makes deep, intuitive
and intellectual sense to me--is this, too, destined to end? And--Laura assures me that this thing, this fling with Her won't end...but always adds, "unless you want it to."

Well, I don't! I'd like to think I've evolved to the point that I can claim a stable spiritual identity, can stop searching outwardly and can turn the search inward, from evolution to involution...towards the dark moon. And so, on this Tuesday of the dark moon, a day especially sacred to Kali, I sit here listening to mid-1960s trash rock and writing this magic spell to bind my soul to my Dark Mother, to implore Her to take me into caverns and catacombs of Her fractal unfolding...but never away from Her. I know Kali is just another image representing undifferentiated Sat-Chit-Ananda, and that "undifferentiated Sat-Chit-Ananda" is just a set of sounds signifying unimaginable infinite Consciousness...etc., etc. ... but She's my true love. I love Her even more than my own spiritual growth.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

You Are Not Reading This

This is a pseudo-post, on a are having an unreal experience...

as am I...

or I feel that way--

having seemingly abandoned my online scribal avocation...but dammit, buying a house is a lot of damn work. In addition to work-work, which is underway again with a vengeance, after my idyllick June of irresposibility. And I'm finding ways to add chaos to the chaos, for that is my Way.

For example, I'm DJing on the local alternative radio station again, which, though time-consuming, is just pure bliss. I played "Institutionalized" by Suicidal Tendencies the other day, which most of the listeners (it's a pretty young crowd) will be too young to remember, and annouced it as "the national anthem of my generation." Just being there at the board, putting together an unexpected, nearly-random yet still sonically logical progression of tunes--is so wonderful. And those big old speakers blasting out "you're trying to say I'm crazy? when I went to your schools, your churches--"

[nota bene: I do also play music recorded in this millennium. quite a bit of it...tho at this moment my heart is in 1991...I'm listening to 8-Way Santa by Tad, one of the great lost albums, a mini-epic of rural pharmacological madness...]

I was supposed to be working on a 4th Step this weekend, but have partied instead...watching the Thief in the Night movies, reading various trivial magazines, drinkin' Rebel Yell, listenin' to Little Feat--this isn't "local color," this is my life, Mr. Hollywood Fancy Pants!!!! [ :) hi, grigorss.]... here in East Podunk, about to relocate to The Town So Ominously Country I Haven't Been Able to Contrive a Sarcastic Name for It Yet (my new house--I chose the one w/ the pool--is in the town where I work)...

so, I have not become an ex-blogger, just a desultory one. Laura and I work apace on the Paris plan...I read this hysterical (in all senses of the term) article in the NY Times about the Museé de Quai Branly and decided that it alone would be worth the trip...I'm insisting on a meal at Taillevent, Laura says "whatever," and we're looking at accommodations near Saint-Sulpice, not for the Da Vinci Code connection but because it's relatively cheap and it's close to lots of good stuff.

And that, mes amis, is the news from Lake Choronzonbegone, where the coffee is strong, the womyn are too, and the temperature is unseasonably below average (thank Goddess).

Saturday, July 1, 2006

The New Temple?

Some possible Temple of Doom sites:

Older house, mucho charm. On a really busy
street, which I don't think I can cope with,
having lived on one for about 10 years.

A not-as-cute house, and behind an elementary
school, for god's sake--

If I bought this one, I'd leave this room as is
and say my interior decorator was Gerhard

The Pool of Doom????
The house in front of this is in a kind of a
boring neighborhood, but,
c'mon--a pool? A pool
That's as close as someone like me gets to
chillin' like a Bond villain...

Friday, June 23, 2006

Design (critique)

Hey--so don't you have this "angel"?

And isn't she supposed to give you wisdom and stuff?

So--when you're all worried about life sucking, doesn't she, like...tell you it's all alright and shit?

Ah, yes, Dear Reader--She does, my Angel, explain it All...tho not always in comforting terms...but Laura quoted today from
Expecting Adam [buy this book NOW. if you already own it, buy another copy!] ...

the episode where Martha Beck's then-husband John has a nightmare that encapsulates all the suffering of everyone everywhere, "fire, avalanches, and earthquakes, of horrible accidents he could see coming but had no power to prevent." At a certain point in the dream, he feels an angelic Presence close to him, and begins to talk to the angel about the horror he's witnessing.

"It isn't so horrible," the being says to him, "It depends on what you want to see."

What John sees at that moment is a terrible collision between two passenger planes, "raining twisted metal and fire and broken bodies on the ground...But when John looked more closely, he could see that every piece of wreckage was being transformed as it hit the ground. All the debris was recombining, slowly growing into an airport. The people who had been killed in the collision were walking through the new buildings, boarding the new planes."

The angel continues, "You see, they are going places they never could have reached before. It's not so bad, really. It's just that you don't understand how it works."

I take the "it" here to refer to the infinite chaotic interplay of matter and consciousness--too big for any mind to map and too likely, in the eyes of the ego, to appear as tragedy. But the giant fractal of life and death and rebirth could just as likely be neutral, or comic, or Angel is as off-handed about "tragedy" as the one encountered by John, when she's not outright flippant about it. But She always guides me to some kind of wisdom (not all of it verbal/book learnin', but that's the only kind I can easily share here)...

Well, what's your angel's opinion on paying down a mortgage loan?

"It may seem the good schoolboy thing to do," she says, "but it will take nearly ten years for you to realize the difference. Those funds could be better applied to a trip to Paris."

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Kitty Magick

I have clingy cats. They were separated from their mom at a very early age, as she had FIV. Because of this, my cats are very human-centered, and do unusual things like coming when they're called (or even whistled for). They don't like to be on their own, like a lot of cats; they want a person present whom they can cuddle with or boss around.

One of my cats (the black one, of course) does a magickal ritual to bring me home when I've left, and she even performs this ritual sometimes when I'm in my home office (into which no cats may enter--too much breakable stuff). The ritual consists of the kitty raiding a rather too-easily accessible sock drawer, obtaining a sock, and dragging it to the middle of my bedroom floor.

My kitty's ritual combines a couple of the most basic magical laws: the law of contagion (the sock is mine and thus psychically linked to me), and the law of evocation (using the right formula, the desired entity can be made to appear).

And ya know--from the cat's perspective, this ritual has worked every single time.

Tuesday, June 6, 2006

Design (intermission)

[Apologies to humble worm, who thought I was going to tell a story :)

I'm not good at telling stories...]

"I have seen this world as a great howl of pain, I have seen this world as a great ocean of blood..."

Lately I've been thinking a lot about suffering--more than just dead birds and bugs. I should be feeling good--several weeks ago, Teresa and I had the dreaded Conversation about me moving out, and strangely she took it very well. Still, her disease progresses and is scary to watch, and she is diagnosed with other, scarier diseases--yet, childishly, I don't know if it is for her or for me that I mourn when I see an emerald-green dead bird and scoop it off the sidewalk into my coffee cup, put it gently into a planter, on moist soil in the shade...

There's a line of "reasoning" that goes: A decent God would not allow innocent people to suffer. Innocent people suffer. Therefore, there is no God. This syllogism makes so many faulty assumptions, it's hard to know where to begin--so I won't, because it isn't my job here to teach logic to the logically challenged. There's another line of "reasoning" that goes: There is a God. People suffer. Therefore, God wants people to suffer because (it's all part of His plan; they deserve to suffer; they're destined to suffer; suffering is good for you; all of the above). This one makes even less sense than the first one, and both depend for their persuasive force (if any) upon the assumption that matter and spirit are starkly separate, even opposite, categories.

I remember how shocked I was to discover that mind and body, spirit and matter
might not be "opposites." This singular cognition occurred 22 years ago due to two college classes, one concerning quantum mechanics and modern philosophy (yes, taught by a real, live physicist, in case members of the Truth Society are reading), and the other in anthropology of religion--we were studying the aboriginal Dream Time. It has taken me ever since to process the mere possibility that I might be a spiritual being having a human experience, that seemingly inert matter might have a conscious substrate, that the abstract truth might, after all, have something to do with what someone had or did not have for dinner.

What has been hardest for me to abandon from that patriarchal,
either/or, flesh-damning charnel house of Truth (whether masquerading as Theology, Scientism, or New-ageyness)? Probably the reassurance it whispers: follow the rules, sacrifice your desires, and it will all be all right. The pain you feel is God's intention--you're being purified. Or--it's only neurons firing, grief, love, loss, suffering--merely mental, nothing more. Or--it's all an illusion, brought on by negative vibes.

Reunite spirit and matter and you come face to face with: shit happens.

You might deserve it (or you might not). It might make sense (but it probably won't). You might have been able to avoid it through proper planning and foresight (but don't bet on it). I guess the Grail knight answer lies somewhere between the triad of reductive follies mentioned above, and can be summed up in the (welcome) cliché Pain is inevitable; suffering is optional. For me this saying has been a koan--the harder I've tried to wrap my mind around it, the more my mind has warped to fit. Sometimes... I almost believe.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Design, Part II

In the morning: watching my black kitty "play" with a white moth...she's killing it, of course, killing it slowly as its tiny moth ganglia jam up with survival/flight responses, the ancestors of fear. I used to rescue bugs, slugs, and spiders from the cats, and still usually try to save the latter two (slugs are nasty when squished, and I like spiders), but the law of the jungle prevails more and more in the shadow'd halls of the Temple of Doom, as I admit to myself that even bugs make choices and even kitties create karma that they and only they can deal with...even kitties have True Wills, and a cat can't be a cat without killing (pace the Dalai Lama).

[Don't fear, Dear Reader; were I to chance upon you beset by ruffians, I would do all in my power to effect your safe escape...which makes me speciesist, I guess...]

Later that morning: I'm at my alma mater for a professional development workshop, I'm there early, eating in the cafeteria whose glass walls look out onto a garden patio. Thinking about my killer kitty, I can see birds swooping down on bugs, and groundskeepers and custodians preyed upon by the American economy... who/what am I preying upon w/ my blueberry bagel, chocolate pudding, coffee? Juan Valdez, no doubt, still searching for his desaparecida daughter...milk from a cow imprisoned in some hellish factory farm...

...fondly remembering (even as I drink it) this bitter coffee that propelled me so many mornings to academic glory, my radio show, assignations with the Goddess in library stacks or Wiccan circles or greening boughs scattering light and shadow across the bricks of my future...the coffee's awkward bite like a solecism on the lips of one beloved: wrong but in completely the right way.

Going out the door I find an emerald-winged and ermine-throated, very dead bird on the sidewalk, sped towards his future by who knows what predation, finding its fulfillment in false trees and sky of the building's glass facade.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Design, Part I

Years ago, when such jokes were still mainly distributed by photocopy, someone gave me a one-page summary of the spiritual wisdom of the ages, phrased as variations on the adage "Shit Happens." You had stuff like

Zen: What is the sound of shit happening?
Judaism: Why does this shit always happen to us?
Hinduism: This shit has happened before.

As someone who has practiced, studied, deconstructed, obsessed over, rebelled against, recovered from, been transformed by several religions, I found this list hilarious and I treasured it. Even though I organize my belongings by a scheme that could at best be called sedimentary, I'll bet you I could put my finger on this fading photocopy within a couple of minutes.

[Sound of clock ticking.]

It only took about five minutes--it was in an unmarked folder in the file cabinet that houses such items as 20-year-old French fashion magazines; the complete DVD set of Monty Python's Flying Circus; dozens of CDs (Soliloquy for Lilith, Tembang Sunda, Clinkers by Steve Lacy, other obscure stuff); a .45 automatic; a stamped tin box containing a bracelet made from the hair of a long-ago lover; and...actual files--many folders even having titles: Kali; OTO Kundalini Ritual; Taxes; Paris Catacombs; Starrett, Barbara (from back when I was semi-organized--this one contains a photocopy of the classic radical feminist text I Dream In Female)....


here it is, in the unmarked file folder that, oddly, also contains my father's obituary and a copy of Nerval's "El Desdichado" (the one thing here you really should Google, as it applies to what will follow). I'd forgotten these gems:

Protestantism: Let shit happen to someone else.
Catholicism: If shit happens, you deserve it.
Buddhism: If shit happens, it isn't really shit.

And best of all--

Taoism: Shit happens.

Yes, I'm easily entertained. But I love these because they get to the root of what the Buddha identified as the basic spiritual question: why do we suffer?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Test Pattern

I'm working on a good post--honest.


The past several months at my job have turned me into one of the Undead...except without all the chi-chi parties someone like Lestat gets invited to.

So, with the vacation time that has so blessedly fallen into my lap, I've been taking it easy, sitting on my screen porch and listening to birds, spacing out, and not using my higher brain functions too terribly much. (My higher brain is sprained.)

I swear to you the post will appear next week, c. the 25th or 26th. Unless I'm dead, of course, rather than merely undead. By then I will have returned to East Podunk from my family visit to West Podunk, and will be perhaps even somewhat rested (though it is a family visit). I pledge to you, as a purveyor of only the highest quality bloggin', that I am doing all I can to rehabilitate my cerebrum: playing lots of Taipei, exercising, eating chocolate, reading spiritual autobiographies...I am about to start Expecting Adam by Martha Beck.

Bet you never thought you'd see product placements on WiHW...I'm also working on a capsule spiritual autobiography of my own that will be the sequel to the above-mentioned "good post." The good post that will appear next week.


Sunday, April 30, 2006

In My Craft or Sullen Art

"I read your blog when I want to read something not written by an asshole."
--A Cherish'd Reader

What? It doesn't sound like the highest praise?

I knew what he meant...instant publication begets instant opinion, nearly always idiotic or half-baked.
You go on Technorati or somewhere and enter your favorite subject in the search box...see what you get. Likely a liquid-crystal tsunami of insecurities, prejudices, misinformation, knee-jerk speechifyin', and plenty of links to other, similar streams of "thought." Same thing with most e-zines. It isn't that thousands of Internet writers really are assholes (so goes my theory), it's that their writing lacks the polish and self-awareness that--most assholes also lack.

It is probably an example of my obsessiveness and perfectionism
(like you need another one!) that, for every post you read on WiHW, at least one other never sees the light of day, residing in digital oblivion until it's deleted from my "Edit posts" folder. Not that the posts laid out before you--like some smorgasbord of devotional confession--confessional devotion??--represent the pinnacle of artistic achievement...

and I don't mean to sound arrogant...

I just don't want my posts to suck.

The fact is, because I'm dealing in this airy realm of spirituality, this intuitive, potentially mucho-BS-freighted area of the unseen and half-heard, of the dreamt and dot-connected-- the burden is on me to provide language that is as concrete as possible. So I have to take the time to subtly shape and shade what I really mean, to craft lies that tell the truth. I don't
make stuff up, you understand--

well, Fiorenza
didn't say that the POW painter had used ash for paint. (But it made sense in the post: Orpheus and his Beloved fleeing--Hell? Ash? POW? War? Destruction? Ash? The subtext of my own death and rebirth...the phoenix and all that? you get it...) The POW did use a screwdriver as a brush...or my name isn't Kalibhakta.

Well--it's my
true name. The name my parents gave me, as much as I like it and as much as it "sounds like" a writer's name or Southern gentleman's name--this legally accepted and "real" name doesn't refer to who I really (think I) am, a child of the Divine Mother. "Kalibhakta" --"Devotee of Kali"--does.



You're saying--that you need to keep it real-- so you make it fake?? "subtly shape and shade"???

Oh, no...this is all real-- I haven't even blogged the most mind-boggling stuff, but don't worry, it's all "authentic," as they love to say in the Ur-fake mass media. It's as real as a bomb-nose camera's image of fall, the instant before oblivion: the explosion rendered as static--it can't explode truthfully, because the camera becomes white-hot fragments as its journey ends...and yes, you gotta admit those smart-bomb cameras don't deliver Panavision...the fake explosions of Hollywood do seem more real... so I guess we can call a blog a docudrama, a Bowling for Columbine or Fog of War to record the fireworks of the heart.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Here to Go

This rings true... I have a commute of a little over an hour each way, and I'm one of that 20 percent grateful for the "Zen time." (Of course, I pay over $200.00 a month for those idyllic gardens of mental sand, another big factor in my planned move...)

When I got my job, I was just glad to have...A Job. The market was grim around that time for People Who Do What I Do, especially if temp gigs in flyover states don't appeal to you. So I'd drive my hour or so and just sit behind the wheel of my noisy little Toyota thinking, "Damn...I have
a job. And it's sort of--a real job." I've worked as a day laborer, newsstand stander, night watchman, CD store sneerer (at customers' hunger for Phil Collins and Michael Bolton), medical experiment guinea-pig, retail robot, tech writer, computer trainer (well, I trained people to use them--but same difference), bank gofer, personal assistant to an interior decorator, grocery store price checker, barnacle scraper, and so many more stupid jobs that it seems like I've done almost everything, and What I Do Now is far and away the best.

I actually wake up in the morning and think, excitedly, "Oh, boy! I get to do What I Do today!"
Most mornings. Some, I'm just on intra-cranial caffeine drip and a prayer.

Or, actually, a series of prayers, because that's what I use my commute for: communing. With G-d...the Infinite Beyond Conception...Kali...various personifications of the Pleroma...or maybe just an imaginary Friend with a disconcerting knack for significant coincidences. Having this time to center myself on something other than
duties, subordinates, superiors, paycheck, leisure fantasies has been one of the most significant factors in whatever spiritual growth I've managed since 1998 and my encounter with my first Teacher.

It didn't start out so grand and noble, this commute. As I've already indicated, it was pretty secular back in the day. I remember one sunny morning spitting water all over myself after I'd had the misfortune to swig from a bottle of Dasani at the precise moment Howard Stern let fly a flavorful bon mot. Fortunately this evolved into me listening to a CD of my guru singing the songs of Ramprasad...I did that for years, and it calmed me, and led me to see Kali in the rising sun, the greening leaves, the silver fog, even the dead animals by the roadside who in their death hosted legions of the living: germs, flies, vultures (ever a symbol of the Divine Mother, for this very reason).

And soon I wanted to sing, so I sang to Her songs from a wondrous cassette called Jai Ma Kirtan. And soon singing wasn't enough, so I poured my heart out to Her, learning that I could say the most trivial, insignificant things and still feel the sun of Her infinite love. Soon I was saying a mantra from my heart chakra, the bija mantra for the heart chakra, and I felt it opening, felt myself prising it open like a safecracker heeding the thuds and clicks to unlock a bright treasure...

and now I give Her myself, my day, my every act...knowing I might re-take these things in selfishness or fear, but knowing, too, that only in the gesture lies the real: excellence is not an act, but a habit. Some mornings I really don't feel like praying. I'm too goddam tired or have too much on my mind, and I'd rather just zone out to a CD or take in the sun-touched, misty scenery. But I know I have to throw myself at the divine--have to stomp the spiritual gas pedal to make escape velocity...and in this steady practice I'm starting to see everything else as Her unfolding.

One day early on, going home, driving through the swamp, I saw all the trees become living flame. The whole world turned to flame in the mantra I was saying. Nothing like it has happened since, but I know I'm kindling myself with every mile, every loving word sent aloft. "Today the world turned to flame," it said in my journal...and so it is now, in the pixels before you that only exist in surging neuronal the fire of memory, fire of anticipation or of wanting that G-d lights in each of us, wanderlusting us, leading us home.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Towers of Babel

I haven't been blogging much because
  • my job now resembles the backstage chaos right before the big runway show in Milan (except no one's interviewing me for W or dumping Glad bags of Euros on me)
  • so I seem to be working feverishly every waking second
    • [but you're not working now, you're blogging]
  • yeah, because stuff has slowed down a bit--but all the same--
    • [what's the real reason?]
  • the real reason is, I'm avoiding talking about my plans to move the Temple of Doom because the idea of moving out of Teresa's house when her disease is getting worse and when it's about to be our 10th anniversary is enough to make me want to die, flip, or go to India.
  • [but, Christ on a pony--I've had all the [indirect] [passive [/aggressive]] abuse I can take...
    • [every relationship is a narrative--
    • --and thus a fiction--
  • so today I sat by the lake at Fiorenza's house, with the water and the sun and the blossoms and the jet-skis...and told my friend my troubles and marveled at her calm, sane answers...and marveled as she encouraged my most playful, irrational tendencies--
    • and fictions aren't lies--
  • like giving the URL for this blog to an exquisitely beautiful woman I barely know, as
    • necessarily, but their structure is artificial, agreed on by the participants
  • some kind of invitation, and Fauré's Requiem played softly, adamantly all the while [did you plan that, Fiorenza??]...
  • and Fiorenza told me about her dead angelic cousin who still visits--"He shows you beauty, beauty where you can't see any: you 'll be walking along and you'll see something ugly or distasteful and a voice will whisper--no, look at it from beside, below--do you see the perfection now?"
    • and when one participant in the narrative refuses her or his role, of hearing or telling, then the narrative suspends and
  • and Fiorenza pointed to her wall and said, "See this painting? It's Orpheus and his lover escaping Hell--a prisoner of war painted it, using ash for paint, a screwdriver for a brush."]
    • anything can happen.]

Friday, April 7, 2006

"This Is Who You Really Are"

Last time I alluded to the thought-waves...the ripples and tides of mind we mistake for ourselves, for a reality outside us...and I wrote of how mantra stills the waves and redirects the tides.

It feels like I've been surfing in a cyclone lately...though I
try not to resent my job and some of the worthies there employed, it's one of those times of the year when everything's got to be done yesterday and yet few are doing much, save me and Sophia, my brilliant, magickal friend and my attitude has been less than positive. It's a lot better than it was pre-M----, pre-Kali...a lot better. But I want it to be better still.

(I think that terribly selfish people like me, like Malcolm Little, like Margery Kempe are perfect for the spiritual path because we always want
more, we're willing to climb that long spiral stair because, dammit, this little sublime taste of Your infinite glory is all wonderful and everything, God, but it's not enough...)

swore I wasn't going to do this...come home from work from the kind of week I've had, and then plop down in front of the computer. I didn't want to see another computer ever again. (I was telling Sophia this today and she all but snorted...yeah, right, you'll be hittin' that silicon before sundown...and so I am...)...but...I will share this anecdote:

so the other day I'm readin' work email and allllll my other email (I have 5? 6?? email accounts), and I'm letting myself get into that overwhelmed, "why me?" kind of crap...the "they are doing bad things to me" victim thang
...but--this email from my guru's ashram shows up. And they've re-done their web site, it says, and there's now all these FAQs and videos and audios and la-de-dah, big whoop.

But--I feel all warm and fuzzy suddenly, and, even though I have no time, I click the link and the first thing that pops up is a picture of my guru, and...BAM!!! the waves of love and shakti tumble over and beneath my low-grade hominid fear, swirling me into absolute peace and surrender.

It's just a picture! I have this picture in my living room and in my office at work. And it's old--She doesn't even look like this anymore and never has as long as I've known Her. But...Her shakti flows from the picture like Niagara; my heart is wrenched open and I sit in pure wonder, loving Her, loving Her, lovingherlovingher...a storm of love whirling into my heart chakra...and I hear Her say:
this is who you really are, my child: a wave in the sea of divine consciousness... you feel it as is even more than that... I am not the beleaguered worker drone, am not the adrenaline addict, am not the perfidious (to myself) perfectionist; I am Her child...borne of Love...

Sunday, April 2, 2006

The Power of Mantra

We all have mantras: internal slogans, stories we tell ourselves.

One of the jokes of Al-Anon is: in the beginning you laugh at the slogans (
one day at a time, let it begin with me, let go and let god--I used to really hate that last one) and then you figure out, hey wait, I've had slogans my whole life: I'm not good enough, what will they think of me? I can fix his/her/their/your problems...

The choice, then, is: will we choose our mantras or let them arise from the muck of our unconscious conditioning? Will we guide our own inner lives or let our half-formed lower selves guide us?

I've blogged about my sojourn in New Zealand, where I chanced to read a book about a guru so powerful (or a devotee so gullible) I could scarcely believe it; when I got back to the States I googled this guru and saw a photo so lovable (or a Being so powerful) something turn'd in my heart--a sweet knife in my breast, and I saw Her as my True Teacher...even though, in the mental space I was in then, in 1998, there really wasn't no guru who could see through your eyes; there really wasn't a god (there was "Energy"...); there really wasn't anything but the play of neural fibers firing around patterns of sensation and learned response...

but why not say the mantra I saw on a web site devoted to Her? Why not perform yet another neural experiment on myself...after acid, after witchcraft, after dharmadhatu...and so I did. And in a couple of months it wasn't an experiment any more--I believed. Or--better--She was real, within me--the mantra had reorganized my chaotic thought into love-waves, sweet adoration-waves flowing to my sweet Guru M----.

I dreamed of Her, spoke to Her daily, felt Her dance in my heart...but, She cautioned, She wasn't God. Well, I wanted Her to be...but She wasn't, or wouldn't be. And when I refused to demote Her, She fired me as her disciple, telling me to go out and find my chosen deity...and so after a fair amount of weeping and praying, Kali came shortly thereafter, 2000-2001...and the mantra changed, and my consciousness reorganized itself, this time around the Black Goddess of Dakshineswar...but still around the same Love, the same devotion. And that's what mantra is, I learned: (re)organizing the chaos of daily thought around a spindle point of order, slotting the random data of shapeless experience into a story...a story of love.

And so when I read something like this, I'm not so surprised. It sounds overblown--but mantra changed my life, too.

P.S. Weirdly, just after I wrote the first draft of this last night, I got an email about M----'s upcoming tour of North America. I think I'm going to go see Her, though I understand She's quite a bit more goth than Amma or my own present Guru. I harbor egotistical thoughts that She will remember me, but more than that I want to see Her for the first time.