Sunday, November 28, 2010

How Did a Nice Suburban White Boy End Up Worshiping Kali? Part 3

Man Ray, Indestructible Object
(Image: Museum of Modern Art, New York)
[Continuing this series that my lovely, sweet Sophia asked me to write and even helpfully provided the title for... I hope I don't sound completely taken with myself; I just want to tell the "what it was like, what happened, and what it's like now" story they tell in AA, and A.∙.A.∙., the Holy Guardian Angel story that says to you, like the exclamation point: there is something.]

Yeah, yeah, the Maori ancestor voices and gay-guy goddess books... what about that Bible high in the closet? What about religion? 

The house I grew up in wasn't religious-- we didn't go to church or claim a denomination, my parents rarely even spoke of God;  I don't know where my interest in the subject came from, but it's always been there. When I was four I hauled some 2X4s from the garage out onto the lawn, laid them down, and arranged them into a cross upon which I then arranged myself. My dad said the neighbors probably wouldn't appreciate this game and made me put the 2X4s up. A while later, six months or a year, or maybe the same time, or maybe before (time stood still before school), I took up a plastic sword and became the Conquering Jesus, galloping through the house and over the battlefields of Armageddon towards certain victory. I imagined ignorant, Matchbox-size armies shooting at me, and vocalized their sound effects as I smote them-- I was fifty feet tall!! and dodged their bullets like Neo. "If you're Jesus, why do you need to dodge the bullets?" asked my mom. I couldn't answer that question, and found it embarrassing enough to quit the game, but I still admired Jesus like he was a ballplayer. The certainty of My victory somehow bothered me, too, but I knew Jesus was a nice guy who deserved to win.

After my stint as Jesus, my childhood spiritual path meandered. I loved the Bible stories my mom read me from the Golden Press Children's Bible, and kept reading the book as I grew older, though its stories more and more seemed creepy and the illustrations seemed a civilized hand's attempt to stay the savagery of some crazed dead world. We had many more Frank Edwards and Charles Fort and Erich von Daniken and UFO books than we had Jesus books, and those had their impact on me, too, eventually. In first grade my teacher (illegally) read us Bible stories; I found them dull and interminable, even Samson and those pillars (though I admit I thought the teacher was saying "pillows"). A couple of years later I checked out a book on witchcraft from the library and tried to turn my friend Quentin into a rabbit--with his consent, though he stubbornly remained in human form, there on the front porch in view of the launch pad whence humans still, in those days, traveled to the moon.

In 7th grade I spotted my mom's childhood Bible on a high closet shelf, and schemed to liberate it, that its eternal secrets I might imbibe. I asked her about it, I think, and I think she said something to fend me off like "We'll get you your own Bible some day." What was in that book? I still believed without question that some Book, somewhere, had the Answers or at least a good portion of them, so in some way or other the Bible found its way out of the closet and into my room where it became my companion in many an evening's frustrated reading and in a few evenings' rapt revelations. I knew I was supposed to respect this book (even my seemingly godless parents had drummed that into me), though its pages sagged not under the weight of insight or inspiration but mostly under begats and lepers and dietary rules and one egomaniacal sinner after another. Eventually I wised up and read Good News for Modern Man, which I found much more to my liking... yet as much I as I rooted for Jesus and the Apostles, the New Testament, too, seemed perpetually disappointing, distant, and logic-free. As much as I wanted to believe in something, it wasn't going to be the Bible.

My first taste of bhakti, besides middle-school crushes, happened in ninth grade, after my early career as a pothead was cut short by a bad trip on some really strong-ass sinse that may have had something else in it. [Weirdly, during this trip I saw visions that included a mysterious shadow-woman and a mesmerizing purple anemone-thing I found again 30 years later while exploring the Mandelbrot Set.] Abandoning dope for God, I started attending the Pentecostal church a good friend of mine went to, and buddy, whatever they had there was stronger than a boatload of good weed. Plenty of times I saw the Dharmakaya light in waves, in sheets like pouring rain, all over everyone in that church as they spoke in tongues and communed with Jesus and cried.

I wanted so much to speak in tongues myself, but never did. The doctrines of that church were wacky--they can be found verbatim in any Chick comic-- but there was Something There, and forever after I've figured that there's little worth to anything if there ain't Something There, if the Light isn't bursting through. This belief, back then in ninth grade, had me chasing through the Bible to find the stilled letters of that Something, and later had me reading enough biblical criticism and history to reject the Bible as any kind of historical record, and later had me doing crazy things like driving to Georgia in search of Marian apparitions and hanging out with gurus and metaprogramming my brain with the 12 Steps and the 8 Basic Winner and Loser Scripts. The Something, even when I was in ninth grade, seemed bigger than the Christian god, or any god.

It wasn't there in any of the Baptist churches I went to, which presented themselves as purely verbal-- correct doctrine and quality of "preaching" were paramount-- but It was there winking between the notes of my mom's Thelonious Monk records.... It stared at me from the single eye of Man Ray's Indestructible Object, It rose like perfume from the pages of Augustine and Eliot, It danced in palm trees, steamed from  sargassum on the beach, clung to the curves of girls' bodies and animated their steps and rang in their voices. I longed for It, yet couldn't abide Pentecostalism and didn't know enough to even look for It in other religions, not that there were any around to choose from. When I got to college I met hawkers from various cults that promised It and more, but they were all Baptists when you got down to it; even the Hare Krishnas, despite their trippy gods and exotic, delicious food, talked like the smug Sunday-best crowd at the big church downtown: correct doctrine, Holy Don'ts, fantasies of righteous separation from the very social petri dish that bounded and nourished their tax-exempt meme culture.

So religion seemed more and more a wash, which didn't dull my interest but rather set me searching farther afield, though cushioned now by academic aspirations. If I couldn't reliably define It or locate It with any frequency, then what did other people in other places and times think about It? Something my Anthropology of Religion professor said really made me sit up: apparently in the Aboriginal Dreamtime It is everywhere, in every feature of the land, and we all live in It all the time. I received this news, sitting there in a featureless classroom in Central Florida, the way one receives news of a catastrophe or piece of incredibly good fortune-- Pearl Harbor, the polio vaccine: my world changed shape. I had assumed that "religion" involved covenants and sin, scriptures and strictures, that it was a moral poultice applied to an already extant, albeit sick, creation. Here Dr. Jones was presenting me with religions (we also looked at vodoun, almost as striking as the Dreaming) that were not commentaries on life or evasions of it, but universes entire. Of course I'd read about Christian cosmologies from centuries past, but the Christianity I knew first-hand vacillated so aimlessly between geocentrism and the transistor age that its cosmos ended up having no shape at all.

I don't recall any great urge at this time to read up on the Dreamtime, which is good because I was home for the summer taking classes at a local college, and there were no major-league libraries anywhere in driving radius. (Kids, this was about a century and a half before the Web.) That's OK, because the precursor to the Web, Weirdnet, the global information collective of freaks everywhere, was about to come knocking. In fact, it already had: professors I'd had earlier that year had me reading Woman and Nature and The Dancing Wu-Li Masters, and my friend Grigorss was about to demand, as only fellow members of Weirdnet can do: drop everything right now and Read These Books. This demand was going to be serendipitously aligned with a jaw-dropping introduction to psychedelia, which was going to coincide with an immersion in the work of William Burroughs, J. G. Ballard, and Throbbing Gristle, which would then be followed by an introduction to fractal geometry and my own life-changing vision of the Goddess. If none of this sounds particularly Kaliesque, I'm not surprised, but what was happening was, kind of like those primates jumping around at the beginning of 2001, I was being given the "skillful means" with which to assemble my own rocketship.

It wasn't ultimately about the books or the music or the zines or the bootlegged Kenneth Anger films or even the drugs; they were so many ratchets and tech manuals. It was that a parallel cultural universe welcomed me into it and said: you, your mind, and the cosmos are not separate and not static... your mind and the cosmos are both engines that you can tinker with, soup up, and rebuild... come back to me. "In the beginning," I was learning, was right now.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The New WiHW Wordle

A definite music theme is emerging... 

Friday, November 26, 2010

Bhakti, Vol. 2

The great Clare Torry
I made this CD at a point in my spiritual growing up when I’d realized I had choices about the way I feel, when I’d realized, in the immortal Al-Anon words, that “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.” So I decided to create a storyline in song about the oft-repeated cycle of feeling down in the dumps, surrendering to God, and then offering Her more of myself, deepening our love and expanding it (here’s the speculative part) until it fills the entire universe, until it is all that is. "Inflame thyself with prayer!" is the one commandment of Bhakti, and there's nothing like pop music to get those limbic juices flowing. 

Reflections of                     The Marmalade
    My Life
The most maudlin song ever? Well, there were 1974’s “Seasons in the Sun” and 1975’s “The Last Game of the Season (Blind Man in the Bleachers),” both of which are so bathetic I burst out laughing every time I hear them. But I think The Marmalade top even these cheez-classics in terms of sheer self-pity. Plus, musically this leaves the other two songs—and many songs of that pinnacle decade of pop—in the dust.

This song, of course, represents negativity and the irrationality, self-centeredness, and absurdity that grow out of it, especially in the lines “The world is a bad place, a bad place, a terrible place to live / Oh, but I don’t want to die.” It’s easy to mock this sentiment but think about it: you ‘ve been there. And it really does feel that way, and it could again, and again, until we keep a door always open in our heart for Her. 

“Reflections of My Life,” as I say, is a fine piece of music. The guy who wrote and sang the song penned a couple more hits, but never another this big. He has been successful enough, though, to have spent his entire career since “Reflections of My Life” in the music biz, and has done everything from producing and arranging to scoring TV shows and movies. You may have heard of one show he’s written music for: Thomas and Friends.

I Won’t Back Down           Tom Petty
Having elected to live, our hero now embarks on a me-against-the-world struggle to make everything right (in other words, to make the world conform to his wishes). Whatever you do, don’t back down. You’re right, they’re wrong. Go for the gusto. I have a lot of sympathy with the “don’t back down” philosophy, but it can lead further and further into delusion, further into the psychopathology of expecting the world to fit one’s expectations, which always makes a bad situation worse.

Dig Me Out              Sleater-Kinney
Everything sucks! I’ve tried to make things better and they just suck more! OK, God, I think I'm ready to surrender! 

The Great Gig In        Pink Floyd
    the Sky
Alan Parsons, recording engineer extraordinaire, knew a wonderful singer he thought should appear on the album he was working on, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. Clare Torry, who frequently sang backup vocals for Abbey Road Studios, where the Floyd masterpiece was made, was paid £30 to perform this vocal. After the session, she felt her performance had been too histrionic, but the band members liked her performance and the melody she’d come up with, so she entered rock history as singer of one of the most startling songs on one of the most acclaimed, best-selling records ever made. She later sued the band for songwriting credit and won a deserved out-of-court settlement.

All of that aside, I thought this song, with its impassioned, wordless gales of emotion, was the perfect representation of a soul crying out to God-- not even “save me” or “help me” or “I give up,” but a total abandonment of the self to be, as Hildegard said, "a feather on the breath of God."  

Yoshimi Battles the          The Flaming Lips
    Pink Robots, Pt. I
Having surrendered to God, the aspirant can now attune himself to his True Will and try to evolve—without being so attached to outcomes, without his ego getting in the way every second, without constantly confusing “true will” with “Hey, everyone, give me what I want right now!” Yoshimi, the fictional warrior of the song’s title, reminded me of a saying from Carlos Castaneda’s possibly nonexistent teacher Don Juan, something to the effect that a true [spiritual] warrior sees that his task is impossible but fights anyway, sees himself as already dead and so has nothing to fear. The song’s symbolism is intriguing: Yoshimi is battling robots, creatures with no intention but only programmed responses, but they are “pink robots”—in other words, robots of flesh, humans who are asleep and who live only to act out social scripts and ego gratification. We are all pink robots until we begin the process of awakening, of creating our own cognitive space in the world, whether through art, scientific or philosophical inquiry, spiritual practice, etc. 

Silly Love Songs        Wings
It’s been a while since we had an “ultimate love song” (see Bhakti, vol. I for about a dozen) so here’s Paul McCartney with one of the most perfect pop songs ever recorded. This is the pop equivalent of Bach or Mozart, with its complex continuo, its contrapuntal harmonies, and intricate structure. It’s also very mushy, to the point that one day it was playing in the car and my darling step-daughter Molly said, “You like this? You’re a sap, Kalibhakta.”

The lyrics to me are important because in them one of the great songwriters of the twentieth century admits: Love giddifies you and makes you feel silly. You can get all clever about it, but the cleverer you get, the less true the song. I embrace The Silly. The lyrics make clear the eternal divide between observer and observed, subject and object: love songs are “silly” to those not in love, yet “when [we’re] in [love] / … it isn’t silly at all.” Bhakti plays with the subject/object distinction in a subtle way, kind of like jnana-yoga does, slowly eroding the ego until one day it's no more than a crust of ice on the deep lake of Self. 

This is a song that embraces Feeling Good—not Feeling Good as getting away with something or Feeling Good at someone’s expense, but just plain old FG. Which is why tormented intellectuals always have a problem with Paul and instead prefer John: the latter caters to their inner, bed-of-nails ascetic who e'er whispers that FG comes at a price, you should only FG when everyone else FsG first, and never, ever FG without a dialectical materialist analysis of whatever, in your bourgeois false consciousness, you think makes you FG.

Devotion is love, and this song is an awe-inspiring evocation of being in love, a FG hymn, a psalm, hence here it is, kicking off a whole section of the playlist where the aspirant is crazy about God, walking on sunshine, and seeing Her everywhere. I used to worry that the FG section of the CD was too dominant, that it took over too soon, but, hell, it’s a great collection of songs. The implicit message is, I guess, that if we worked half as hard at Feeling Go(o)d as we do at feeling miserable and then justifying it to ourselves, we’d be a lot happier. Tragedy is infinite but so is bliss, so try tuning your mental radio to a better station.

I Want Your Love      Chic
Speaking of radio stations, I used to have to drive to Stonewall College at about 6:45 a.m., before daylight sometimes. That was kind of grim, especially because I often wasn't heading home until dark, but there was this radio station that played cool old songs. Most mornings it seemed they played this song, and I was so happy when its measured, stately post-disco groove came on. I'd be about a fifth of the way to work and had not yet put on the CD of my guru singing the songs of Ramprasad that I listened to every day for three years, and indeed some mornings I thought “Screw Ramprasad, screw religion, I’m tired, I want to party and go back to sleep, work is crap” ... but Nile Rodgers’s cool paean to desire got me back on track. I imagined this song going from my heart to Kali, but I knew She, too, wanted my love. 

Tanusree                  Ananda Shankar
Way back when I’d first heard of Mother Meera (in Sex Death Enlightenment) and was first starting to dip my toe in that mysterious ocean that is Hinduism, I heard this song on the NPR chill-out show Echoes late one night and it sounded exactly like what Mother Meera and Shiva the Destroyer and Kali the Creatrix sounded like to my mind’s ear: stately yet slinky, sensual and sustaining and hopeful and incensey. What Meera and the Upanishads and Ramakrishna taught me is that the shining world of mystery and miracle isn't confined to books and fables and dead saints and heroes, but is this world right now. 

Magnet and Steel       Walter Egan
A seductively mounting melody, pellucid production, and half of Fleetwood Mac on backing vocals… does it get any better? Theologically, too, I think it’s impeccable: She is the all-attracting, I am a little filament in a sea of filaments aligned according to the interference patterns of Her unfolding Shakti, the animating force of the cosmos from shrew’s hearts to black holes to the self-organizing eon-branches of evolution. This song ushers in the sexy part of the collection; during this period I was starting to understand that tantra, that the worship of the Divine Mother, wasn’t so much about making sex sacred as it was about making all of life into lovemaking with Her, trying to wake up to my essential oneness with Her in each moment.

Lorelei                   Cocteau Twins
This song has always spelled S-E-X in my musical imagination. It’s not “about” sex and it’s not “evoking” sex, it’s a direct translation of one’s neural impulses in the nonrational, supraverbal throes of carnal delight. Which aren't all that different from the nonrational, supraverbal throes of spiritual delight. Hence all that Shiva and Shakti, Christ and Mary Magdalene, Isis and Osiris imagery swirling deliciously throughout the history of religion. 

Custard Pie             Led Zeppelin
This song is a goddam saturnalia, a delirious pagan anthem. And it’s about eating pussy. So that makes it the greatest song ever.

Girls Got Rhythm         AC/DC
“She got the back seat rhythm”? The Goddess???? In my effort to make a tantric omelette, I was breaking the eggs of convention and propriety, finding the most down and dirty anthem of rut and applying it to a sacred purpose. Of course, “rhythm” has a cosmic meaning, too: several songs in this collection, either lyrically or musically, allude to chaos and order, to rhythm, to Her cyclic unfolding: “Reflections of My Life,” “Silly Love Songs,” “Magnet and Steel,” and this one. I used to play this song over and over while I was writing papers in grad school; it’s very energizing.

Living In the Past      Jethro Tull
We move from sex, momentarily, to a more devotional set of songs. This one communicates a “Turn on [to bhakti], tune in [to Goddess culture], and drop out [of mass culture and compulsory Christianity/neo-puritanism]” mentality. “Happy and I’m smiling / walk a mile to drink your water / You know I’d love to love you / and above you there’s no other / We’ll go walking out / while others shout of war’s disaster.” In other words, take the red pill. 

She Drives Me        Fine Young Cannibals
Like “Silly Love Songs,” this one revels in amorous delirium (with a little 80s angst thrown in). The narrator can’t help himself! That’s what it means to love, to be devoted… you’re magnetized, pulled in.

Love Is In the Air      John Paul Young
Few songs capture that sense of being pulled in, of floating on tides of adoration, better than this lilting disco tune: the rhythm bounces and the melody ascends and ascends and ascends, like the heart of one in love. Like “She Drives Me Crazy,” this song expresses the lover’s absolute surrender, regardless of result. The lyrics are just beautiful, describing the way that being in love transforms one’s entire world, and they certainly relate my own feelings of bewilderment at having found myself in the new world of Hinduism, of devotion, of Goddess as a living Presence rather than just a countercultural hypothesis: “And I don’t know if you’re an illusion / Don ‘t know if I see it true / But you’re something that I must believe in / And you’re there when I reach out for you.” 

For the first time, after a lifetime of chasing God, experiencing God, believing in and doubting God and rejecting God and believing again, I felt Her as “something I must believe in” not because someone said so or because it might make me happy, but because I knew she was there. It was like believing in rocks, as Starhawk once put it.
[Pop trainspotting interlude: did you know that this song was produced by the Australian team of Vanda and Young-- the "Young" being George Young, brother of AC/DC's Angus and Malcolm Young?]

More, More, More            Andrea True Connection
Now it gets sexy again. I know She is there and I want more of Her. This song seemed impossibly lascivious when I was a kid and it was on the radio, a perception possibly helped by a DJ whose intro to the song included the information that the singer was a porn star who was singing about making XXX movies. Who has ever heard of such a thing??? In this context it’s a song about sex (i.e., the eternal coupling of Shiva and Shakti) but also an allusion to Mother Meera’s saying that no matter how much of God we have experienced, there is always more. Keep seeking Her and loving Her more.

Right Time of the      Jennifer Warnes
Three 70s songs in a row? Bad DJ-ing! I can only explain the presence of “Right Time of the Night” by saying, it’s a lovely song, it’s very sweet, and it links the “stars… waking above” to earthly gettin’ it on. It also fits in with this collection’s day/night, light/dark theme.

Deep Blue Day        Brian Eno               
As does this track, one of my all-time-favorite instrumentals, a song to which I danced with my first spirit guide, the One who prepared me for my Guardian Angel, at 3:00 a.m. one wild night… don’t ask me how, as She was not embodied. This song bodies into sonic reality, as best it can be bodied, the peace which passes understanding. It is one of the collection’s “orderly” tracks (like "Silly Love Songs" and "I Want Your Love"), as opposed to chaotic ones like “Custard Pie,” “More, More, More,” and “Lorelei,” which bespeak delirium. 

Can’t Get Enough        The Colourfield
    of You Baby
When I bought the Colourfield's Virgins and Philistines back in the 80s, what hit me most about this song was its retro 1960s sound, nearly as good a job of mimicry as Elvis Costello's Get Happy!! I also thought it was awesome that they'd cover a Roches song. It seems that every word Terry Hall has ever sung is freighted with enough irony to sink the Edmund Fitzgerald, but maybe that's what drew me to this song--his faux starry-eyed delivery, in its breathless gush, is in some ways better than a straight romantic vocal . [Besides the fact that straight romantic delivery is every bit as calculated as Hall's irony.] The bhakti import is along the same lines as "More More More" above: always seek more of Her.
[Trivia: legend has it that Hall gave his band the name The Colourfield not only as an allusion to the Color Field painters but as an inversive mathematical mockery of The Monochrome Set. Draw your own conclusions.] 

Monday, November 8, 2010

How Did a Nice Suburban White Boy End Up Worshiping Kali? Part 2

When I was three I stuck a screwdriver into a wall socket. I had never used a screwdriver and wasn't sure what wall sockets were; it just seemed like the one should fit into the other-- as it did, but with unexpected sparks.

Thirty-one years after my parents wrested the screwdriver from my hands and replaced it with a cold washcloth I didn't let go of for hours, I got the chance to spend six weeks in New Zealand. A Heavenly Creatures fan, I looked forward to visiting Ilam House and Port Levy, and--I don't know. Drinking beer? Sure... it was a vacation, a respite from years on the job market and an exhausting regimen of scut work for my temporary employers, done in the thin hope I could goose them into becoming my permanent employers. That life had left me tired, cynical, covetous, and with constant back pain. I wanted a real job, I wanted more money, I wanted to use my talents on some masterpiece of something or other, I wanted the world to do me the wholly reasonable favor of conforming to my expectations. I really wanted my back to stop hurting.

Seductively, New Zealand fulfilled most of these wishes. The very favorable exchange rate doubled my limited U.S. dollars; my journal entries grew into interesting meditations and ficciones in response to the intoxicating beauty of the land, the astonishing richness of the food, the wine, the bookstores, the museums... and I endured two pounding, punishing, liberating massages that cured my back pain for good. The shaman-masseur who administered this initiation showed me how I held a burning knot of tension in the middle of my back and thus caused my own misery-- a preview of guru talks and Al-Anon meetings to come. You can only imagine the relief of being pain-free, after years, if you've felt it yourself. It felt like my life began again.

The Mother, in whose existence I no longer believed other than as some archetypal mist of human wanting, used everything around me to clear the decks so I could again meet Her face to face. She took me to an Eden foreign enough and gratified my various desires sweetly enough that I gradually entered an unfamiliar state of wonderment and peaceful receptiveness--and gratitude. Something that happened on my first full day in the country set the stage for this new way of mind and served as a heavenly foot in the door of my heart, allowing the Mother enough gap to wrench the door from its jamb in the coming years.

I'd read by this time the theory that the real-life murderesses portrayed in Peter Jackson's poetic Heavenly Creatures had been zapped by some kind of heavy occult energy while visiting Port Levy, a remote fjord on the South Island, and that this might have led to the violent climax of their folie à deux. According to Pauline Parker's diary, while at Port Levy on holiday she and her Beloved, Juliet Hulme, found themselves utterly swept into an alternate universe as real as this one, "sort of like Heaven, only better." But I wasn't looking for a door to the "Fourth World" as I drove to Port Levy in my rented Holden Vectra, my head awash with the tidal voices of the Maori choir that the hotel clock radio had awakened me with. The film had impressed me deeply and since seeing it I had associated Jackson's "heavenly creatures" with my own two female spirit guides, though my girls, I'm happy to say, abhorred violence. I didn't know what to expect from my pilgrimage, and just getting there in one piece on the tightly winding, dangerously narrow gravel road felt like an initiation.

Port Levy (in Maori, Koukourarata, "the place of the tame owl"--what a metaphor for the Holy Guardian Angel) was my second screwdriver in the outlet. I've posted about it before; the place shocked me into an out-of-self experience like the ones you hear about where the person's floating on the ER ceiling, looking down at herself getting CPR...  it wasn't that dramatic at the time, but it was a jarring reminder that there was something outside myself, greater than myself, Something mysterious and powerful that welled up into the world in every instant, like sea water in beach footprints. I heard, quite loudly, a babble of Maori ancestral spirits talking to me; my head spun with the magick of the place, the pulsing gigawatt shakti. I got "lost" on a strip of beach barely bigger than a living room, and the Earth was alive again, aware, looking back at me, kissing me with sunlets on water. None of this was supposed to happen; I knew too well the wishful thinking and mythic archetypes that made people think it happened... but once again reality was outrunning mind, logic and proportion were falling sloppy dead and I didn't even have a dose of chemistry to blame. The alien otherness of the place, its electric embrace, put me on alert again for Her voice, and so a short while later it seemed like a sign that I received that life-altering massage and that I found a remaindered copy of a book about the Goddess in a bookstore in Wellington, sitting lonely on a sale table with pulp novels and history books.

Mark Matousek's Sex Death Enlightenment touched me just as deeply as the massage, smoothing out the inflamed knots of my mind and confronting me with a personality even more suspicious and jaded than mine, who'd had his heart pierced and set aflame by Her. The Divine Mother thus reset me to zero-- psychically, intellectually, and physically, making me ready for Her divine invasion.