The Prophetic Tradition and the Immortal Feminine
Shamanism, Samadhi and the Tao
gathered for Educational purpose from http://www.dhushara.com/book/genesis2.htm by Sedna Joansi - 2001 – pgg.~ 375
Dedicated to the authors of “Genesis of Eden Diversity “ Web-site.
Members of the big Gaia-net community who is involved to produce and sharing knowledge for benefit of this our Planet Earth..
Preface: This is a long chapter covering a wide sweep of ground including Old Testament, Christian, Islamic, Aztec, and 20th century ideas. Here is a brief contents so you don't get lost:
Introduction: The Trickster. "The superhuman culture heroes of North American mythology also behave as tricksters, using cunning and stealth to steal fire, outwit monsters or play tricks on others. Many peoples have developed these trickster tales into a separate body of myth, and in some areas, such as the Northwest coast, the culture hero and trickster are sometimes regarded as separate beings. ... Because the trickster is usually the same as the culture hero, he is usually called by the same name: Great Hare, Nanabush or Glooskap in the Woodlands, Rabbit in the Southeast, Coyote on the Plains and in the West, Spider on parts of the Plains, and Raven, Blue jay or Mink on the Northwest coast. Despite his different guises, he exhibits similar characteristics across the continent, the same tales occurring in widely separated areas. He can be a crafty joker and a bungler, who is usually undone by his own horseplay or trickery, ending up injured or even dead - only to rise again, seemingly none the wiser for his experience. At times utterly irreverent and idiotic, the trickster's doings highlight, in an entertaining context, the importance of moral rules and boundaries. Many trickster myths are extremely vulgar" (Willis 227).
One character who behaves simultaneously as shaman culture hero and trickster on many levels is Carlos Casteneda in his allegory with Don Juan. Here he ranges from the extremes of the nagual as superhuman shaman to the trickster as allegorist.
Part 1 : The Waterfall
"Indigenous traditions deserve accurate and respectful preservation, and these records must be distinguished from imaginative works ... It is the obligation of the lettered to make written records of the lore of the unlettered, simply a record - not a mirror of ourselves or our needs and fantasies." - Barbara Meyerhoff (DeMille 1980 2).
"Don Juan was looking straight at don Genaro. His gaze was fixed. His eyelids were half-closed. He was sitting very erect with his hands resting between his legs, on the edge of the rock. I leaned over a little bit to see the two young men. Don Juan made an imperative gesture with his hand to make me get back in line. I retreated immediately. I had only a glimpse of the young men. They seemed to be as attentive as he was. Don Juan made another gesture with his hand and.pointed to the direction of the waterfall. I looked again. Don Genaro had climbed quite a way on the rocky wall. At the moment I looked he was perched on a ledge, inching his way slowly to circumvent a huge boulder. His arms were spread, as if he were embracing the rock. He moved slowly toward his right and suddenly he lost his footing. I gasped involuntarily. For a moment his whole body hung in the air. I was sure he was going to fall but he did not. His right hand had grabbed onto something and very agilely his feet went back on the ledge again. But before he moved on he turned to us and looked. It was only a glance. There was, however, such a stylization to the movement of turning his head that I began to wonder. I remembered then that he had done the same thing, turning to look at us, every time he slipped. I had thought that don Genaro must have felt embarrassed by his clumsiness and turned to see if we were looking. He climbed a bit more toward the top, suffered another loss of footing, and hung perilously on the overhanging rock face. This time he was supported by his left hand. When he regained his balance he turned and looked at us again. He slipped twice more before he reached the top. From where we Were sitting, the crest of the waterfall seemed to be twenty to twenty-five feet across" (Casteneda 1971 125).
Don Genaro jumping the ravine (Casteneda).
"It is my impression that this special condition of the shaman cannot be faked - that not only he himself but his companions really do know whether or not a man who lays claim to being a mara'akame has what the Huichol call "balance"- that special, ineffable capacity to venture without fear onto the "narrow bridge" across the great chasm separating the ordinary world from the world beyond" (Furst 152).
"In the summer of 1966 Ramon gave us a memorable demonstration of the meaning of "balance." He took us to a spectacular waterfall, with a sheer drop of hundreds of feet to the valley below. This, he said, was "specially for shamans." While the other Huichol grouped themselves in a semicircle in a safe place some distance from the edge, Ramon removed his sandals and, after making a series of ritual gestures to the world directions, proceeded to leap -"fly" might be more appropriate - from one rock to another with arms stretched wide, often landing but a few inches from the slippery edge. Occasionally he would disappear behind a great boulder, only to emerge from an unexpected direction. Or he would stand motionless at the extreme limit of a massive rock, wheel about suddenly and make a great leap to the other side of the rushing water, never showing the slightest concern about the obvious danger that he might lose his balance and fall into space. We were frankly terrified, even annoyed, at such "foolhardiness," but neither his wife nor the other Huichol watching showed any real apprehension. The demonstration ended as abruptly as it had begun, without any explanation of Ramon's strange behaviour. " (Furst 152-3, Meyerhoff 44) "The mara'akáme must have superb equilibrium otherwise he will not reach his destination and will fall this way or that"' - Barbara Meyerhoff (Halifax 233, Meyerhoff 44)
"The following day he asked if we thought he had been showing off. He said, "Perhaps you thought, 'Ah, Ramon is drunk with too much beer.' But no. I took you there to show what it means 'to have balance.' So you could see and understand. Because when one crosses over as a shaman one looks below, and then one perceives this great abyss filled with all those animals waiting to kill one. Those who do not have balance are afraid. They fall and are killed." In order to render intelligible something he feared our cultural experience might not have prepared us to understand, he had decided to give us a physical demonstration-a kind of literal translation-of a phenomenon basic to shamanism wherever it occurs" (Furst 153
Part 2: The Little Smoke
Extracts of a letter from Gordon Wasson to Carlos Casteneda sent on 26th August 1968, with replies from Carlos summarised by Richard de Mille (DeMille 1980 319-33):
GW: I have been asked to review The Teachings of Don Juan for Economic Botany. I have read it and am impressed by the quality of the writing and the hallucinogenic effects you have had. Perhaps you are not yet overwhelmed with letters from strangers and you can discuss with me the use of mushrooms by don Juan. My professional life has been chiefly concerned with the hallucinogenic effects of the Mexican 'sacred mushrooms.' It was my wife and I who publicized the re-discovery of the cult in Oaxaca, and it was on my invitation to Professor Roger Helm that he came over and studied them with us. We three have written books about them and innumerable articles.
CC: It was a great pleasure to receive Wasson's letter, for Castaneda is "very familiar" with his work and is honoured by his attention. Wasson must bear in mind, however, that Castaneda is not an authority; his knowledge is limited strictly to the data he has collected. His fieldwork was never anthropological fieldwork proper but an "inquiry product" of his own interest, which is "content" and "meaning." He therefore became absorbed in don Juan's "innuendoes" rather than in "specific ethnographic details." Since he was dealing with a "dramatic and serious" system of beliefs, he intentionally blurred such details. It would be "superfluous" to try to remedy that vagueness in a single letter without first preparing a better "ethnographic context," but Castaneda "will do his best to answer Wasson's questions.
GW:Am I right in concluding from your narrative that you never gathered the mushrooms, nor indeed ever saw a whole specimen?
CC: Castaneda has gathered the mushrooms. He has held in his hands "perhaps hundreds" of specimens. He and don Juan went every year to collect them in the mountains "southwest and northwest of Valle Nacional." [Huautla de Jiminez, where Wasson first ate the mushrooms, is in the mountains northwest of Valle Nacional. ... Castaneda wanted to describe the collecting ritual in The Teachings, but since, unlike peyote and jimson weed, the mush- rooms contained don Juan's "ally (aliado)," don Juan imposed a rule of "total secrecy about specific processes."
GW:Once you embarked on a trip to Chihuahua for honguitos, but your quest turned out to be for mescalito. When you first mention the mushrooms they are 'possibly' Psilocybe mexicana, but later they are that species. Did you satisfy yourself that you were dealing with Psilocybe mexicana?
CC: No. The identification was tentative and "terribly unsophisticated." The definite identification in The Teachings is - an "editorial error."
GW:This mushroom would normally, in don Juan's hands, macerate into shreds, rather than a powder, whereas the hallucinogenic puffballs used in certain spots in the Mixteca would give a powder. Do you know where your mushrooms grew, whether in pastures, corn fields, bovine dung, on the trunks of dying trees, or elsewhere?
CC: Yes. On trunks of dead trees, but more often on decomposed shrubs.
GW:Don Juan ... seems to have spoken perfect Spanish and to have lived in many places-the U.S. and southern Mexico, perhaps elsewhere, as well as Sonora and Chihuahua. ... I ask this because the use of the hallucinogenic mushrooms has never previously been reported in Sonora or Chihuahua. In fact they have never been found there, and one would think that if specimens were found, in the and conditions prevailing in those States, it would be hard to find enough for ceremonial use, or at any rate to count on finding enough. There may be restricted areas known to the Indians where the Indians might expect to find them, places well watered and fertile. Perhaps the species is one not yet known to science and that grows in and country. It would be thrilling if you could pursue this further and make a discovery.
CC: Don Juan is a marginal man, whose personality has been formed by many influences outside the Yaqui culture. ... His mother was a Yuma Indian. He was born in Arizona, where he lived six or seven years before moving to Sonora. Some time after being deported from Sonora by the Mexican government, he went to the Valle Nacional area [of Oaxaca], where he stayed more than thirty years. Castaneda believes he went there with his teacher, "who must have been Mazateco." Castaneda has not been able to find out who the teacher was or where don Juan learned sorcery, but the fact that Castaneda must take don Juan to Oaxaca every year to collect the mushrooms strongly suggests where don Juan learned to use them.
The mushrooms are passed through the smoke
of burning copal as part of an ancient ritual (Riedlinger 1992).
GW:In the book they are always in powder, perhaps already mixed with other ingredients, are they not? Don Juan carried the powder around his neck in a sack. When he utilized them, they were smoked. The practice of smoking the mushroom powder is hitherto unknown to me. Had you brought back the powder, or the mixture in which the mushroom powder was an ingredient, we might have identified the species under the microscope, since there must have been spores present, and if the species is a known one, the spore suffices to place it. We now have almost a score of hallucinogenic species from Mexico.
CC: No - but Castaneda is sure he could obtain a very small amount, "perhaps a dab of it." If that would be enough for examination under the microscope, he could send it to Wasson before the end of 1968. [Although Carlos smoked the mushroom powder eight times after Castaneda wrote this letter, the promised "dab" never arrived.]
GW:'A man of knowledge' - did don Juan say, 'hombre de conocimientos' or simply 'un hombre que sabe'? In Mazatec a curandero is cho-ta-chi-ne, 'one who knows.'
CC: "Here" Wasson has given Castaneda "the most fascinating piece of information." ... Mazatec Indians call a curandero "one who knows." ... Though don Juan used three different terms, Castaneda preferred "man of knowledge".
From the Mazatec linguist Eunice Pike "You ask what Maria Sabina meant when she chanted, "Woman who stops the world am I." Actually that is not the way I would have translated her Mazatec. The verb she used is se-nqui and the same verb is used with a cornerpost under a roof. I would prefer the translation "holds up" or more literally "Stands under." So the sentence might be translated, "Woman who supports the world am l." This is exactly the shamanic identification with the World Tree - the Tree of Life.
Part 3 : The party of the Nagual
From the introduction to The Sorceror's Crossing:
"Taisha Abelar is one of a group of three women that were deliberately trained by some somerers from Mexico, under the guidance of cion Juan Matus. I have written at length about my own training under him, but I have never written anything about this specific group, of which Taisha Abelar is a member. It was a tacit agreement among all of those who were under don Juan's tutelage that nothing should be said about them. " Carlos Casteneda (Abelar vii)
"With whom have you been holding hands?" "Carlos held my hand as we stepped into this room." "There you are, Mr. Flores said, gazing at me with rapt approval, as if I had solved a particularly difficult riddle. Then seeing my still-mystified expression he added, "Carlos Casteneda is not only Joe Cortez, but he is also Charlie Spider. ... "Who is Isodoro Baltazar?". "Isodoro Baltazar is the new nagual" ... I looked at him pleadingly and said "Where is Carlos?" ... "Carlos, also known as Isodoro Baltazar went to visit ..." (Donner 101-2)
"Little by little, I began to acquire enough energy to dream. This meant I finally understood what the women had told me: Isodoro Baltazar was the new nagual. And he was no longer a man" (Donner).
"A third colleague, Carol Tiggs, was mentioned in Casteneda's latest book, The Art of Dreaming," in which he described how, while "dreaming together" with him in a Mexican hotel room, Tiggs disappeared from this world, borne on the wings of "intent." The "gales of infinity' blew her back to this dimension ten years later, when Castaneda discovered her wandering in a daze in Santa Monica's Phoenix Bookstore. Her improbable return had 'ripped a hole in the fabric of the universe' " (Donner).
Part 4: The Tonal, the Nagual and the Luminous Bubble of Perception
Two important aspects of conscious existence are captured by the Aztec or Nahuatl terms tonal and the nagual.. These have a confusing history. Aguirre Beltran describes the nagual as 'an animal spirit into which the priest transforms himself'. 'The nagual only has the power of metamorphosis during the night. If it captured in the form of an animal and kept in such a situation until dawn it dies'. 'In tonalism the animal and individual exist separately and and are only united by a common destiny.' For my nagual see the apocalypse.
Harner states of the tonal 'This word referred especially to one's vital soul, and the sign of one's day of birth, which was frequently an animal. The tonalli was part of an elaborate calendrical system with implications of predestination' somewhat like one's astrological sign (Harner 1980 63). By contrast the term nagual refers to a guardian animal spirit that is summoned through visualization or shamanic trance. One can thus possess both tonal and nagual animals. Harner practices a form of visualization exercise accompanied by regular slow beating of a deep drum to induce a shamanic trance state where a personal power animal is seen and caught in a journey through a tunnel to the underworld . It may also be danced, and can be sung in a power song. As it is a spirit animal, it may be of mythical form, like the daimon of the Greeks, and genius of the Romans. The power animal represents an extention of the shaman's psyche which is not bound by the physical confines and acts as a vehicle for supernormal will and energy. For María Sabina the term soerte coming from the Spanish suerte or luck means the fate and luck, destiny of one's life in a form which is also capable of leaving the human body as an animal, and causing dreams of distant places (Estrada 85). Harner also sees big dreams, powerful, repeated or prophetic dreams as visitations from the power animal. Such shamanic activities are often accompanied by affirmations from the world, such as synchronicities in which nature appears to respond through coincidence. These may vary from seeming accidents through to shared or prophetic visions.
The relation between the tonal and the nagual is refined by Casteneda into complementary principles of order and chaos, day and night, forming together the bubble of perception. Through the haunting and rivetting allegory of an encounter with the sorcerors don Juan and don Genaro on many long nights staring into the shadows of the desert night, Casteneda illustrates a series of techniques and attitudes which function to summon personal power and set the apprentice on the impeccable path of the warrior. These include looking for affirmations in the happenings of the world, creating a mystery and uncertainty in our lives through erasing personal history, losing self-importance, and using death as a mortal adviser. Feeling and seeing are brought into the domain of the nagual by techniques which carry the attention beyond ordered form, using peripheral vision with crossed eyes including finding one's spot and the right way of walking, practising the gait of power, a way of feeling running in the night, and not doing, perceiving the complements of form such as the holes between the sounds of the night. The techniques of seeing lead to stopping the world in which the tonal is brought to a standstill.
The technique of setting up dreaming by looking at ones hands leads to interaction between the dreamer and the dreamed in which dreaming and waking events become intertwined. Casteneda also refers to the nagual as an ally, similar to an animal spirit, which may come lurching frighteningly into existence on long night seances in the desert. By impeccably applying the will, our personal power will result in synchronicities in which the act of knowledge results in affirmations from the world around us such the cry of a bird, a gust of wind, an accident of fate, a prophetic or a shared vision. The fluid state of indeterminacy required by the nagual requires dissolving the fixed routines of life. A personal history is the defining form of our lives. The relationships we form and our work leads us into a state of fixity from which erasing personal history is pivotal in releasing us to the nagual. The power of this becomes very apparent when one cuts off ones personal history by travelling alone in a foreign land, as I found when I wandered India as a sadhu. Losing self-importance allows escape from the confines of the ego and its resulting drives and desires so that we can concentrate on will. Don Juan shows Casteneda how to lose self importance beautifully by getting him to talk to some small plants and making him recognise them as equals.
Since all actions are controlled folly, by assuming responsibility for our actions, we cease to blame the world and can turn even misfortune into an act of power. By becoming a hunter we can use our cubic centimetre of chance to seek situations and events which provide extraordinary opportunities. The attitude of the hunter includes such tasks as feeling one's spot through looking indirectly with crossed eyes. By choosing to be accessible or inaccessible we can have either minimal impact on the flow of the world around us or attract its power. Using the two in alternation is essential in hunting power. Don Juan illustrates this by calling the spirit of a water hole through blatant acts, which later manifests as a vision of a beaked animal in some wind-blown branches. By disrupting the routines of life we remain available to power at all times. Using death as an adviser is a powerful technique which keeps us tuned to our mortality and hence our impecability. Death is before us on our left side, and reminds us to live as if we were fighting our last battle on earth. Don Juan shows this to Casteneda through seeing a white falcon in Casteneda's childhood, which had escaped death through an act of power, and through forcing Carlos to kill a rabbit. In such a state we have no cause for regrets and by attaining power can adopt the mood of a warrior.
Seeing is a state in which visualization extends into clairvoyant vision as illustrated by seeing a plant which is actually hidden on the other side of a hill. Not doing involves perceiving in terms of what is left behind by form such as holes between the sounds or shadows underlying the features of the world. 'Seeing is atained only when one has stopped the world through the technique of not doing'. The ally is a power being similar to the power animal. Rather than being perceived by internal visualization, it is an apparition which may appear lurching from the wilderness when one has learned to see. By wrestling with the ally one is transported irreversibly into the super-reality of the sorceror. A perspective from which nothing can ever be the same again.
Dreaming is similarly performed with a view to witnessing the reality of the waking world from the world of the dream. Looking at one's hands forms a link to remind oneself that one is dreaming and bring on a state of lucid dreaming. Repeated looking at the dream and back to the hands can act to help prevent one becoming again lost in the dream. A very deep an unexplored aspect of dreaming is the potentiality of the dreaming and waking realities to interpenetrate. The dreamer is expected to learn to witness 'real' events of the waking world and their dreaming body to become the double capable of astounding feats. Although the warrior experiences only one reality at a time either themself or the double, later in recollection linear time unfolds to reveal the web of experiences shared by the self and the double. 'No sorceror knows where his other is....A sorceror has no notion that he is in two places at once. To be aware of that would be the equivalent of facing his double, and the sorceror that finds himself face to face with himself is a dead sorceror'. 'No one develops a double. All of us luminous beings have a double. All of us! The double is oneself and cannot be described in any other way'. 'Once it has learned to dream the double, the self arrives at this wierd crossroad and a moment comes when one realizes it is the double who dreams the self' (Castaneda 1974 48). The double is also a feature of Tibetan dream yoga and meditative techniques of India.
Casteneda relates accounts of don Genaro first dreaming his double. 'I lay down on the side of the trail in the shade of a tree and I fell asleep. I heard then the sound of some people coming down the hill and woke up. I hurriedly ran for cover and hid behind some bushes ... I looked across the road to where I had been sleeping ... I was still there asleep! I touched my body. I was myself! By that time the people that were coming down the hill were upon the me that was fast asleep while I looked helplessly from my hiding place. But they went by me as if I were not there at all. I woke up by the road where I had fallen asleep. I can almost say that I was still looking at myself waking up, then something pulled myself to the side of the road and I found myself rubbing my eyes. I ran down the hill after them. I asked them if they had seen my friend sleeping by the side of the road. They all said they hadn't' (Castaneda 1974 65).
'...when confronted with unusual life situations...the warrior acts as if nothing had ever happened, because he doesn't believe in anything, yet he accepts everything at its face value. He accepts without accepting and disregards without disregarding. He never feels as if he knows, neither does he feel as if nothing had ever happened' (Casteneda).
The bubble of perception exists for each sentient being from birth, and becomes increasingly dominated by the ordered tonal as we mature into talking beings, to the point where we can perceive only the manifestations of the tonal and those of the nagual are invisible, alien spirits, or the chaotic twists of fate. The subjective manifestations of the tonal and nagual, are reason and will. As shown in the diagram, reason is directly connected to talking and indirectly to feeling, seeing and dreaming, while will is in turn directly connected to these three and indirectly to talking. The task of sorcery constitutes opening the bubble of perception to the workings of the nagual through refining the will. While reason provides our description of reality often in binary opposites, will is the source of the unknown and of power. By shutting off talking through stopping the internal dialogue, it is possible for seeing, feeling and dreaming to shrink the tonal and manifest the nagual (Castaneda 1974 253).
'The tonal is everything we know ... and that includes not only us persons but everything in our world. The moment we breathe the first gasp of air we also breathe in the power of the tonal. So, it is proper to say the the tonal of a human being is intimately tied to his birth. ... The tonal begins at birth and ends at death'. '... the tonal makes up the rules by which it apprehends the world. So in a manner of speaking, it creates the world' although it 'doesn't create a thing'. The tonal is an island. There is a personal tonal for every one of us and there is the collective tonal of the times which unites us (Castaneda 1974 118).
'The nagual is the part of us which we do not deal with at all. The nagual is the part of us for which there is no description - no words, no names, no feelings, no knowledge'. 'The mind, the soul, even god are all items of the tonal. The nagual on the other hand is at the service of the warrior. It can be witnessed but it cannot be talked about'. The nagual is there ... surrounding the island, there where power hovers' (Castaneda 1979 124).
'At the time of birth and for a while after, we are all nagual. Then the tonal starts to develop and it becomes utterly important to our functioning, so important that it opaques the shine of the nagual and overwhelms it. From that moment 'we begin making pairs. We sense our two sides, but always represent them with items of the tonal. We say that the two sides of ourselves are the soul and the body. Our mind and matter' (Castaneda 1979 126).
'For the sorceror the Conquest was the challenge of a lifetime. They were the only ones who were not destroyed by it, but adapted to it and used it to their ultimate advantage. After the tonal of the time and the personal tonal of every indian was obliterated, the sorcerors found themselves holding on to the only thing left uncontested, the nagual. In other words their tonal took refuge in their nagual. The men of knowledge of today are a product of those conditions'.
'The nagual can perform extraordinary things... that do not seem possible for the tonal. But the extraordinary thing is that the performer has no way of knowing how those things happen. The secret of the sorceror is that he knows how to get to the nagual but once he gets there your guess is as good as his as to what takes place. "Would don Genaro feel like he's walking up the trunk of a tree?" ' as Casteneda saw him appear to do. ' "No" he said in a forceful whisper. "Not in the way you mean it". "Did you yourself observe what don Genaro was doing in the trees?" "No I just knew because I saw , the movement of the nagual gliding through the trees and whirling around us. The rest of the show was for you alone". "When one meets the nagual face to face one always has to be alone." "I was around only to protect your tonal". "What of someone who doesn't see?" "He would witness nothing, just the trees blown by a wild wind perhaps." By whispering tonal and nagual messages in each of his ears, Casteneda splits and is led to fly with Genaro. "Leap, leap. Your legs will reach the treetops". I could only distinguish an enormous mass of the most extraordinary lights. At times their glare diminished and at times the lights became more intense. I was also experiencing movement. The effect was like being pulled by a vacuum that never let me stop. I could see two separate worlds, one that was going away from me and the other that was coming closer to me' (Castaneda 1974 250).
(a) The Kundalini Chakras, (b) Tree of Life of the Kabbala and (c) Casteneda's Bubble of Perception (King)
The depiction of agaric - Amanita muscaria as the mainstay of the heavens, holding earth and sky apart, resembles the world tree of life of the Kabbala uniting the material and mental above and below, with the two sexes on either side. Here god as 0 represents the void, limitlessness and the great light complements the ten spheres of the tree, spanning 1 the conscious crown of kether through to 10 the material world of malkuth. The first 3 spheres represent the creative worlds and the remaining 6 the world of form. There are many paths through the tree and the spheres also represent astrological and elemental symbols.
Having led Casteneda to the culmination of his apprenticeship, don Juan finally declares the sorceror's explanation. He reveals that he has tricked Carlos into the warrior's path through obscuring the significance of some of the key lessons and flaunting other unattainable pseudo-tasks. In the new perspective, the central task is sweeping the island of the tonal clean of obstructing self-descriptions. Stopping the internal dialogue is pivotal to this quest, and is furthered by two key techniques, erasing personal history and dreaming. Erasing personal history is in turn strengthened by losing self-importance, assuming responsibility and using death as an advisor. The other pseudo-tasks such as seeing were really just descriptions of interaction with the nagual which cannot be learned, but served however to take Carlos out of his usual line of reasoning and by having to concentrate on the immediacy of don Juan's actions in the desert, he adopted the strategy of the warrior without fully realizing it (Castaneda 1974 269).
By cleaning the island of the tonal so that it is regrouped on the side of reason, the bubble of perception is polarized naturally into its tonal and nagual complement. By so freeing the tonal, it becomes capable of responding to the effects of the nagual so that the sorceror can enable the sentient bundle of awarenesses that has become linked in the incarnation of the individual to become loosened, not as completely as in death when the associations of the bundle separate again, but just sufficiently for the nagual to be witnessed by the tonal. The teacher and benefactor then work together to open the bubble, so that the totality of the self can be apprehended. 'There was no longer the sweet unity I call "me". I was a myriad of selves which were all "me", a colony of separate units that had a special allegiance to one another and would join unavoidably to form one single awareness, my human awareness. The unbending solidarity of my countless awarenesses, the allegiance that those parts had for one another was my life force... suddenly the "me" I knew and was familiar with erupted into the most spectacular view of all the imaginable combinations of beautiful scenes. Finally it was as if I were witnessing the organization of the world rolling past my eyes in an unbroken, endless chain.'
In a penultimate gesture, Carlos is persuaded to leap into a hundred foot ravine, using the fibres emanating from the bubble of perception in the navel area. 'Then some strange mood overtook me and I jumped with all my corporealness. I saw as if through a fog the walls of the narrow gorge and the jutting rocks at the bottom of the ravine. I did not have a sequential perception of my descent, I had instead the sensation that I was actually on the ground at the bottom. Don Juan and don Genaro made me perform the leap over and over. I was watching some bushes when I heard a sudden noise, a good sized rock rolling down ... don Genaro throwing it. I had an attack of panic and an instant later I had been pulled to the site on top of the rock. "The secret of the double is in the bubble of perception which in your case was at the top of the cliff and the bottom of the gorge at the same time." "The cluster of feelings can be made to assemble instantly anywhere." "Think about your hat" he said. I had a shocking moment of realization.' During the same time sequence, Carlos had also been standing on the cliffs watching Genaro playing with his hat. "The leaps certainly were an uninterrupted unit, and so was Genaro's cavorting with your hat" he said. "Those two memories cannot be made to go one after the other because they happened at the same time" (Castaneda 1974 250).
The ultimate aims of the path of a man of knowledge extend beyond sorcery as the pursuit of power into the great voyage of witnessing the totality of this ineffable mysterious world and ultimately to depart from its confines altogether. Although this may seem a fanciful goal, it is in fact the journey that all mortal beings make during their incarnation.
In assessing Carlos, one should take account of the lesson of the Coyote. Casteneda is approached in the desert by a coyote and thus discovers that his power animal is the symbol of untrustworthiness. Just as don Juan tricked Carlos into embarking on the warriors quest, so Carlos tricks the reader into the same journey through the allegory of don Juan and don Genaro, nevertheless the core lesson is an impeccable act of unparalleled power. However one should beware! Carlos is himself a flagrant indulger and the latter books descend from the sublime into the ridiculous.
The approach of the shaman, by contrast, is concerned with healing, rather than the pursuit of power or ultimate knowledge in itself. It thus has a less terrifying aspect of caring for life and the precious diversity of nature. Generally a shaman effects cure through entering the super realities of the sky and under-worlds and finding the supernatural cause of an affliction, (often sorcery). Power plants or more generally a hypnotic drumming rhythm are used to enter shamanic trance. Catching and breathing in a power animal, and sucking to remove a supernatural dart are two techniques distilled by Michael Harner from several cultures. He comments that 'shamanism represents the most widespread and ancient methodological system of mind-body healing known to humanity', [being] up to twenty thousand years old with common motifs spanning the continents. 'A true master shaman does not challenge the validity of any one else's experiences. [He] never says that what you experienced is a fantasy' (Harner 1980 20). He points out that this tolerance of many realities differs from the pursuit of the single reality of science, but stresses that the shaman is like the scientist in their empirical investigation of the mysteries of the universe and its hidden causal levels and in their freedom from political domination. Harner identifies the shamanic trance with Casteneda's non-ordinary reality and the visualizations with seeing, which can adopt a number of techniques, including using the forms seen in a rock as an oracle to guide a solution to problems.
The Spirits or Mothers of the Plants - Pablo Amaringo
"The Tree of Life bears twelve manner
of monthly fruit
and the leaves are for the healing of the nations"- Revelation
Just as the twelve signs of the Zodiac - the Belt of Ishtar - are an arbitrary classification of the millions of stars in the galaxy into prominent configurations, so the diverse floral stars of the evolutionary process - the many psychoactive, medicinal and food plants are beyond number. Nevertheless, in human history there are a small number of constellations of sacred plants which, because of their great cultural significance, deserve to be treated as the fabled twelve-fold fruit of the Tree of Life. Each constellation represents a collection of species sharing a particular molecular arrangement which is psychoactive in the human brain, and which also has a significant cultural history of religious use to induce visionary, mystical or shamanic trance states.
The purpose of this article is to acknowledge the stature and respect these sacred fruits deserve, and to indicate beyond them those other stars without number which further enrich the diversity of our conscious life. In compiling this list, it should be borne in mind that ancient uses of such plants were negotiated in a sacred and ritual manner and that some, despite their historical use are toxic. Others despite not being physically harmful have profound effects on the conscious mind, which, without proper guidance, could lead to social consequences detrimental to the respect in which these and all medicinal plants should be held. Eliade's failure to recognise the central role of hallucinogens in the shamanic path, both in Siberia and particularly in the Americas constitutes one of the most misleading episodes in modern anthropology.
Pivotal to this realization is also an overturning of James Frazer's sequence of civilized attainment from magic to religion and finally to science. The idea that magic is more primitive than religion and that religion is more primitive than science arises from a basic confusion between causal mechanics and the intrinsic uncertainty of conscious experience.
From a quantum-mechanical perspective the ancient roles of science and magic look if anything complementary. Science explains what the probabilities are in a given situation and magic addresses the area of uncertainty - why one outcome rather than another actually is chosen by nature. Religion has been caught somewhere in the middle, falling from its primal roots in visionary trance in the formation of mass belief systems, and yet neither conforming to the rational developments of scientific reason. One could thus take the position that through a combination of scientific reason and shamanic vision, we will finally correct the folly of religion and regain the Tao of vision-and-reason which the gatherer-hunters with their vast knowledge of plants gave us as their sacred heritage of the Garden - the fruit of knowledge and immortality.
"By the Later Old Stone Age (the Upper Palaeolithic period, beginning about 45,000 to 38,000 years ago and ending around 10,000 years ago in Europe - perhaps earlier elsewhere) our species Homo sapiens sapiens had firmly established itself with an economy based on hunting, fishing and the gathering of plants" (Rudgley 12). "Almost all hunter-gatherer societies have been shown to have a fairly clear-cut division of labour between the sexes. The men hunt whilst the women gather plants and collect or hunt small animals (e.g. shellfish, birds, eggs, etc.). Whilst animal proteins are highly prized, the bulk of the staple foodstuffs are usually the result of female labour. This division of labour may suggest that in prehistoric times women's role vis-a-vis plants was not limited to the culinary or even the medical spheres, but extended into the discovery of psychoactive plants (this has a distant echo in the female- dominated European witchcraft tradition, for which see Chapter 6 below). Gatherers have an extremely detailed knowledge of their land and its natural resources, and having considered the technical and intellectual achievements of hunter-gatherer communities past and present we should not be surprised that they were able to identify, collect and process a variety of psychoactive species" (Rudgley 14).
"That there was ample time for such spiritual or recreational activity in the hunter-gatherer society is not in doubt: Some contemporary cultures practise a similar way of life and until recently it was presumed that nearly all their waking hours were spent in a relentless quest for food. In fact case-studies from various parts of the world show that sufficient food can be obtained in an average adult working day of 3-5 hours. The hunter hunted by starvation may be the exception rather than the rule. The leisure time of many hunter-gatherers seems to be abundant:
Extrapolating from ethnography to prehistory, one may say as much for the neolithic [New Stone Age] as John Stuart Mill said of all labour-saving devices, that never was one invented that saved anyone a minute's labour. The neolithic saw no particular improvement over the palaeolithic in the amount of time required per capita for the production of subsistence; probably, with the advent of agriculture, people had to work harder (Sahlin).
Much the same conclusion is arrived at by an eminent prehistoric archaeologist:
There is abundant data which suggests not only that hunter-gatherers have adequate supplies of food but also that they enjoy quantities of leisure time, much more in fact than do modern industrial or farm workers, or even professors of archaeology.
From the basis of a comparatively stable economy and adequate leisure time Palaeolithic populations were able to develop technology, science and art to a surprisingly high degree. Prehistoric thought, albeit different in scale and content from our own, deserves our admiration" (Rudgley 13).
Carved stones from the neolithic tomb of Gavrinis in Brittany. Pottery braziers Er Lannic (Rudgley).
In the Alchemy of Culture, Richard Rudgley gathers evidence from several reseachers that paleolithic cultures, based on such detailed knowlege of local flora and fungi utilized the natural distributions of psychoactive species in their locale as an early feature of their cultural development. Rudgley notes the research of other authors including David Lewis-Williams and Thomas Dowdson who make a case that the abstract patterns that occur in parallel with the animals found in such pre-historic caves as Lascaux, which have long been ascribed to shamanic rites of hunting, are representations of the phosphenes that accompany meditative and trance states, accompanying shamanic practices, particularly those associated with psychoactive plants.
Somewhat later we indeed find more definitive suggestions of such 'phosphene art' in the form of the Neolithic Tomb of Gavrinis in Brittany, where carved megaliths from a neolithic tomb show striking abstract patterns of this nature. These are also nearby another find of pottery 'vase-supports' from Er Lannic, some of which show signs of being used as braziers, and are consistent with an early spread from the South of ritual burning possibly of opium.
The opium poppy, which is one of the most medically important plants known to man and which still plays a central role in the control of pain and siffering, particularly in terminal conditions, shows a very early pattern of use and cultivation. Although the exact origins of the poppy remain uncertain, it seems to have been domesticated in the west Mediterranian by the sixth millennium BC. Several finds of remains poppy seeds have come from neolithic lake villages in Switzerland, and also in Germany and Italy point to widespread domestication in neolithic times. These are complemented by full pods at burial sites at Albunol in Spain from around 4200 BC which are more indicative of medicinal use.
The use of poppies in Crete is attested to by Minoan statues and seals from the second millennium BC clearly indicating ritual use of opium resin in the cultures of the fertility Goddess, consistent with her role in gathering medicinal plants and using them as an integral part of her ritual worship. It is natural for the fertility Goddess to utilize and respect as spiritual those emanations of her own manifestation of physical fertility as an aspect of the very body of the Earth Goddess: 'Kritikos has shown that during the Late Minoan period opium was taken by participants in certain religious ceremonies to induce a state of ecstasy essential for the performance of the sacred rites. Might not opium have been used in the same way in Egypt? How appropriate it would be if the island of Aphrodite could be proved to have introduced Egypt to the drug which served that Goddess so well!' ... It would be impossible to believe that advantage was not taken by the ancient Egyptians of the purely sensuous or erotic effects that opium also produces' (Rudgley 27).
Cypriot juglets from Egypt 18 th dynasty from around 1350 BC appear to be designed on inverted poppy pods,
Papaver somniferum, inset of Minoan seal from Crete 1500 BC, head of Goddess with slit poppies Crete 1350 BC
(Rudgley, King, Gadon, Gadon).
From a similar period come Cypriot juglets from tel Amarna in the 18 th dynasty of Egypt of Akhenaten. It has been suggested that these juglets were designed to iconically represent their contents as indicated above left making them so-called skeuomorphs. Chromatographic evidence confirms the presence of opiates in at least some of these juglets.
The role of opium in the ancient world is well attested. There are references to it in writings from Egypt, Assyria and Greece. Egyptian medical texts list among opium's many uses its sedative powers to alleviate the pain of wounds, abscesses and scalp complaints. For the Romans too it was something of a panacea, being used to treat elephantiasis, carbuncles, liver complaints, epilepsy and scorpion bites, according to Pliny. Opion is Greek for poppy juice. It is dedicated to Nyx goddess of the night, who is shown distributing it to youths in repose in a cameo. Almost every major writer of antiquity from Hippocrates who recommended poppy wine, mentions it. (Emboden 23)
A Lisu village Thailand-Burma border 1976. Poppy field, lisu child among the poppies (CK)
It has also been suggested that the poppy was an integral part of sacrificial rites from Sumer to Babylon. It has been noted that in at least some of the sacrifical Tombs of the early Kings Ur the sacrificed servants and courtiers appear to have died peacefully, suggesting they were given a potion to relax them, or even to bring on unconsciousness. Sumerian tablature of the second millennium BC mentions its efficacy in bringing sleep and an end to pain .
A key paragraph from Babel Tower (273) expresses this use in poetic terms: 'We are told by antiquaries ... that in ancient Babylon, in the chamber at the top of the ziggurat which was reserved for the activities of the god Baal, he came sometimes to sleep with the priestess, and sometimes to share a feast at a giant stone table, and sometimes, in difficult times, to demand a sacrifice. And there are many tales of what this sacrifice was - a red human heart, tastefully roasted, a whole human infant, the first-bom, trussed and tossed into the flames of his altar fire. It is told that on his feast days a great cake was baked, and cut into small portions, one of which was blacked with the soot of the eternal Fire of his altar. The people took their cakes blindfold, and he who chose the black square was the Chosen One, devoted to the god. And for a time this Devoted One was fed and fattened, granted his desires of the flesh, sweet cakes and wine, sweet bedfellows and smoky opiates. And when his time came, he was led smiling to the fire, and the god was pleased, and did not wilfully torture or persecute the people for the following year, but let their corn and vines grow rich and their children spring up plump and healthy.'
In Eurasia there is a legend that Buddha cut off his eyelids in order to prevent sleep overtaking him, and where they fell, there grew a herb which bore a nodding violet flower which was to give sleep and tortured dreams to all mankind (Emboden 20).
The River of the Sadhu: Om Nama Shivai! A sahdu takes the sacred chillum (Schultes & Hofmann 1979). The immortal Ganges is the very name of Hemp. Government Ganga shop: Varanasi: Sacred status permits the sale of Ganga within the ancient city of the Ganga (CK)
"A similar case can be made for the use of hemp (Cannabis sativa) as an intoxicant in prehistoric Europe. Hemp seeds have been found at a variety of Neolithic sites in Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Romania. Like the opium poppy, hemp grows as a weed, and its proximity to prehistoric communities was a factor in its domestication" (Rudgley 28). One of our oldest cultivars, Cannabis has been a five-purpose plant: fiber, seed oil, for its seeds as food, for its psychoactive properties, and therapeutically as a medicine (Schultes & Hofmann 92).
"In several parts of eastern Europe decorated pottery "polypod bowls' have been found, dating from the early third millennium BC. The earliest of these bowls, often interpreted as braziers ' came from the Pontic Steppes. Examples found in the Carpathian Basin and then in Czechoslovakia and southern Germany are somewhat later, indicating that this type of pottery spread from east to west. Cannabis sativa, too, is generally thought to have originated on the steppes and subsequently to have spread into Europe. Could it be that these polypod bowls, rather like the earlier 'vase-supports', were braziers for the ritual burning of an intoxicant? Two further finds of associated artefacts add weight to the possibility of a later Neolithic cannabis cult. A pit-grave burial of the later third millennium in Romania was discovered to include an item described as a 'pipe cup' which itself contained charred hemp seeds. Another 'pipe cup' from the same period and belonging to the north Caucasian Early Bronze Age was found with hemp seed present. Although the seeds are not themselves psychoactive, they are the most heat-resistant part of the plant, and these two finds suggest that the intoxicating flowers and leaves had been burnt away" (Rudgley 28).
"Contemporary with the rise of the polypod bowls on the steppe was the development of a novel style of pottery ornamentation. While the bowl was still wet, cord was wrapped around it in order to impress it with a pattern. ... Sherratt has suggested that this cord decoration may have been a way of celebrating the contents of the bowls. In this case it was not by imitating the shape of the Cannabis satiza plant (as the Cypriote juglets imitated the opium poppy) that the contents of the vessels were announced, but by decoration applied by the use of hemp cord."
Both the fibre and intoxicating qualities of hemp were exploited by later cultures such as the Thracians. A Greek source informs us that they made their garments from its fibre" and it is known that their shamans (Kapnobatai) used cannabis to induce states of trance.
"As the polypod bowls decorated with cord impressions began to be used further westward, they entered cultural areas with a tradition of alcohol use. It is possible that in such regions the two substances were used together to produce a new psychoactive effect. just as it can be shown that the use of opium was widespread in the early historical period in the east Mediterranean, there is also sufficient evidence that hemp was being used as an intoxicant by the Iron Age. Cannabis has been discovered in the grave chamber of the Hochdorf Hallstatt waggon-burial near Stuttgart in Germany (circa 500 BC), and also at Scythian sites on the steppes" (R 30).
far-distant confines we are come,
The tract of Scythia, waste untrod by man.
Aeschylus - Promethus Bound
Neolithic bowls probably used as brazziers for Hemp.
The Scythian Goddess holds the Tree of Life before a horseman.
Scythian Hemp brazziers and 'tripod' (half-size) (Schultes & Hoffmann 1979, Rudgley).
In the eighth century BC Scythian groups from the east began to migrate westward with their flocks and herds. After a successful alliance with the Medes, which resulted in the sacking of the Assyrian city of Nineveh in 613 BC, both the Asiatic and the European Scythians began a series of conflicts with the Persian kings of the Achaemenian Dynasty. Among the tribute-bearing delegations depicted on Achaemenian reliefs at the royal site of Persepolis is a people named saka tigraxauda, or 'pointed- hat Scythians', on account of their distinctive headgear. Another group that features in a number of trilingual inscriptions in Old Persian, Elamite and Akkadian' is the saka haitinaiaixa or 'hao a-drinking Scythians' after Haoma (R 35).
In the fifth century BC Herodotus travelled widely in the area to the north of the Black Sea and includes the following account of Scythian intoxication in his Historics: "On a framework of tree sticks, meeting at the top, they stretch pieces of woollen cloth. Inside this tent they put a dish with hot stones on it. Then they take some hemp seed, creep into the tent, and throw the seed on the hot stones. At once it begins to smoke, giving off a vapour unsurpassed by any vapour bath one could find in Greece. The Scythians are so delighted they shout for joy."
Like other cultures, the Scythians gradually passed throught the transition to alcohol use. It is however mentioned occasionally by the Greeks. Democritus around 400 BC noted its use occasionally with wine and myrrh to produce visionary states. The Assyrians were also during the first millennium BC known to use Hemp as an incense.
The Chinese emperor Shen-Nung 2737 BC prescribed Cannabis. Ruderalis, indica and sativa.
A minature from 15 th cent The garden of heavenly delights of the Hashishim (Schultes & Hofmann 1979).
Tradition in India maintains that the gods sent man the Hemp plant so that he might attain delight, courage, and have heightened sexual desires. When nectar or Amrita dropped down from heaven, Cannabis sprouted from it. Another story tells how when the gods, helped by demons churned the mile ocean to obtain Amrita one of the resulting divine nectars was Cannabis, able to give man anything from a good health and a long life to visions of the gods. It was consecrated to Shiva and was Indra's favourite drink. Cannabis bears the name Vijaya for the victory the gods had over the demons in retaining guardianship of Amrita. Ever since the plant has been held in India to bestow supernatural powers on its users (S&H 92). As Bhang it was thought to deter evil, bring luck and cleanse man of sin. Hemp fibre can be found from 4000 BC in China and 3000 BC from Turkestan, and a possible specimen from early Egypt (S&H 93). It is described as Ma-fen (Hemp-fruit) in China where a legendary emperor of 2000 BC said "If taken to excess, it will cause you to see devils. If taken over a long time it makes one communicate with spirits and lightens one's body". Chinese Emperor Shen-Nung in 2737 BC noted its bisexual nature and recommended for a variety of uses from malaria to absent-mindedness. A Taoist priest in 500 BC noted that Cannabis "was employed by necromancers, in combination with Ginseng to set forward time and reveal future events" (S&H 95). In later China, this use seems to have disappeared.
Hashish is also associated with the Old Man of the Mountain and his garden of paradise which was to convince kidnapped young men that if they obeyed his orders as assassins, they would gain such a reward. It was descxribed as a physical realization of Muhammad's paradise promised to the followers of Islam: "In a beautiful valley between two mountains [Aloedin] formed a luxurious garden, with delicious fruit and every fragrant shrub ... with streams of milk and honey and beautiful damsels accomplished in the arts of singing and playing on all sorts of instruments, dancing, dalliance and amorous allurement". However historical accounts of the Ismali leader Hasan-i Sabah say he built the castle Aluh Amut 'the eagles teaching' on an eyrie and was a recluse learned in geometry, astronomy and magic. As an opponent of the caliph who did commit assasinations, he has been fancifully denigrated by his Sunni opponents (R101). It is thus very doubtful whether hashish should receive the stima of the assassin.
Despite Islam's unambiguous stand against alcohol, the use of Hemp spread widely in the Islamic world, and into Africa, subsequently spreading throughout the globe through movements of both slaves and migrants.
Children having a ritual smoke in the Rastafarian
Children are also invited to three peyote meetings in the
Native American Church during their childhood (Cohen D).
Cannabis is also the sacred herb of the Rastafarians, setting an unusual biblical tradition of being cannabis-smoking followers of Yahweh. The Ethiopian tradition also runs through through the Shulamite Queen of Sheba.
"The psychoactive effects of Cannabis and its preparations vary widely, depending on the preparation the user and the background. Perhaps the most frequent characteristic is a dreamy state. Long-forgotten events are often recalled and thoughts occur in unrelated sequences. Perception of time and occasionally space are altered. Visual and auditory hallucinations follow the use of large doses. Euphoria, excitement and inner happiness - often with hilarity and laughter are typical" (S&H 101). Schultes comments: "it behooves us to consider the role of Cannabis in [our] past and learn what lessons it can teach us ... for it appears the it will be with us for a long time".
The Rathaman was here right from the beginning, but for me the beginning was the word and the word was God. God is not blond-haired, blue-eyed, God is brown. We're Rasta - everything we do is for Rastafarai.
The town of Ruatoria is a unique remote East Coast settlement. Several years ago disagreements over land subject to claim but owned extensively by one family and the subject of sales to foreign interests, brought a wild series of fire-bombings and violent confronatation, culminating in the death of Rastafarian Chris Campbell. The Dreads are endeavouring to put this violent period behind them and to develop a living relationship with the land and the natural resources in an area which is low in employment, leaving many people dependent on welfare. They are critical of a system which ties them down in regulations and limits their capacity to use the resources they do receive in ways they believe would best develop their independence and self-reliance.
They are concerned that the land and its resources are being plundered by a greedy society and even the seed of the herb of the earth which God gave us appropriated, patented and controlled by corporate interests.
The Rastafarian green red and gold with Selassie.
The Dreads are Rastafarians and follow the same one God, Yah, as the Jews through the line of the Queen of Sheba the Ethiopian monarchy. This tradition was then carried by slavery to Jamaica and the US. "Haille Selassie is the 252 nd King from the line of Solomon the son of David. The second coming of Jesus Christ in his kingly form, the line of David, the union of Solomon and the Queen of Sheba a line of royalty that was held throughout the history of Ethiopia." They believe all peoples will eventually be united under the red, green and gold.
The Maori Dreads combine their Rasta teaching with the teachings of Te Kooti. Following Te Kooti's example, the Dread gather on the twevfth day of each month for the Rah.
Ringatu - the "upraised hand" was a religion developed by Te Kooti Rikirangi during his imprisonment without trial on the Chatham Islands. On his escape back to New Zealand, he staged a successful guerilla war. Many of Te Kooti;s teachings reminded his people of the story of the Jews in the Old Testament, who had been driven out of the land of Israel and had wandered in the wilderness until God brought them back to Jerusalem. The Maoris too had lost their land and been harshly treated. To Kooti taught his people to beware of the Pakeha (white man) that had been inspired by Satan. Te Kooti taught them that in his matakite (visions) God had promised the he would save Maoris, just as he had saved the Jews. Christianity is regarded as a failed deviation which has not delivered on its promise to humanity as a whole and has not served the Maori people because it has aided colonization and the assimilation of Maori culture.
Te Toko Whitu - Dread, 10 - Dread
Te Toko: The tools we pick up today, theyre not weapons of violence, but instruments of freedom, and which the difference is we don't use them to enslave but to fight for our freedom. The philosophy which holds one race superior and the other inferior is finally permanently discredited. We yearn for peace, we do. But you can't count on real justice.
10: Ngati Dread ... preaching the gospel of the father, which is unity to all people, not just Maori people but every people whether they are Chinese or Indian or whatever. We are the living force of God's people, of Maori descent. We're proud of our Maori descent but we know that the devils not number one, God is.
The Moku (Tatoo): We are criticized by the old people because what we are doing is very Tapu. That we know because we are doing it for God.
The Power of the Trinity - Dread, Marijuana on the Rasta tri-colours, Rasta herb.
We know for a fact that amongst ourselves and other
when we use the herb, it brings us to a point of reason, where we're not
fighting and we can sit down and talk. That's the healing of the nations,
because it's worldwide. You can go right around the world and no matter where
you go, theyre using it. I believe, it because nothing that God has made is
bad, it's man that's made it bad. God said that he would give you every seed-bearing
herb and you would plant it and you would see that it was good" - Power of
the Trinity - Dread.
Mt Hikurangi is the local sacred mountain in Biblical likeness.
The Shaman's Dream - Huichol Yarn Painting (Campbell 1987 302)
The Americas are to the rest of the world a literal Garden of Eden in the sense that the vast majority of truly hallucinogenic plants originate from there or were discovered and used there. This is somewhat of an irony for human culture and leads to a paradoxical situation where the most powerful spiritual agents in nature have become accursed by an inexperienced alien culture of conquest, only to become nearly lost to civilization as true endowments of nature for the betterment of humankind.
In the Americas, psychedelic power plants have been without exception the object of veneration and worship in virtually every culture that has had access to them, generally over time scales of millenia. This includes a spectrum of the most potent agents known including sacred mushrooms from the ancient Mayas to the modern Mazatecs, Peyote from the Toltecs to the Huichols, San Pedro cactus from the Chavin culture to Eduardo Caldero, Ayahuasca - the vine of the soul from the Genesis of the world, morning glories and even the frankly uncontrollable plants of the Datura family. We should take a lesson from their experience and try to understand why they held these plants in such spiritual esteem.
Despite their powerful nature, the religious and shamanic use of these allies has served to place a natural care in respect in their use. This turns what could become an unhinged occasion into a carefully guided one, which happens only on ritually appointed occasions, over which the group and its leaders keep a watchful eye on all the participants and strict protocols operate. This in turn serves to unite the participants in a bond which is both shared with one another and with the infinite.
The Story of the discovery of the flesh of the gods is dealt with in detail in Homage to Maria Sabina. It is surely one of the more unusual episodes of human history. The very existence of such entities had apparently disappeared from human consciousness, despite the existence of ancient mushroom stones in the Guatemalan highlands, when in 1936 an anthropologist in Mexico discovered of the existence of a mushroom rite, hidden through the 500 years of Christian repression. It was to lie fallow for another 20 years until Gordon Wasson received the prophesied transmission from Maria Sabina.
Subsequently great interest developed in psilocybe mushrooms, Albert Hofmann synthesizing the active ingredient and Timothy Leary giving them notoriety, while nevertheless recognising in them something of their spiritual potential. It gradually came to be discovered that although somewhat difficult to identify, there were psilocin-bearing mushrooms, predominantly psilocybes, in just about every moist terrain on the planet. Two types of habitat are distinguishable. Most species are carbohydrate decomposers that live stably for long periods on decaying wood. The other type is one large tropical and some small temperate mushrooms growing in pastures in association with Brahmin cattle.
Tassili Rock Painting Southern Algeria 3500 BC (McKenna). Mushroom, Vinca , Central Balkans 5500-3500 BC (McKenna) Double Mushroom Idol from the Konya Plain, Turkey (McKenna). The sacrament: Eleusis (Graves 1955).
Mycophiles such as Kat Harrison, Terrence McKenna and Paul Stamets discovered instances of mushroom artefacts in the Old World, and it became apparent that, given the widespread distribution of forest psilocybes, that it would be most surprising if the early gatherers of Europe had not become familiar with their properties.
McKenna also notes the existence of green mushroom stones from the Vinca site in Northwestern Bulgaria (119), and a particularly unusual relic found on the Konja Plain (102) which has what look like a pair of mushrooms on the front and a riveting stare consistent with a visionary state. These are consistent with an early spread of a mushroom cult, possibly of a pastoral mushroom associated with cattle. On the south side of the Mediterranian, Tassili rock painting shows a variety of instances of shamanic figures either running holding a mushroom or sprouting mushrooms, while at the same time covered in just those entopic patterns mentioned in prehistoric Europe. Climatic changes would have made this area fertile in earlier periods.
A stele of Demeter, passing the central sacrament of the Eleusinian mystery to Persephone, also presents the distinctive appearance of a liberty bell mushroom similar to the pastoral psilocybe semilanceata. These mysteries have also been associated with ergot, because it is a hallucinogen which is in the very grain of which Demeter is the Goddess, but one should regard all sacred plants and fungi as potentially in the domain of the Earth Goddess and her mystery religions. The above sacrament is clearly not ergot. Neither does ergot show on the grains otherwise held by Persephone.
Psilocybe cyanescens (shown above) is extensive throughout Europe and may have been introduced to the US with the Europeans. It and related species exist in small numbers scattered in forest. The preferred substrate of cyanescens is alder. As such woods come to be cut down and used domestically, so piles of decaying nutrient build up which can lead to large eruptions of fungi in association with small communities. Such a possibility may remain conjecture but is not inconsistent with the detailed involvement both of nature and of the alder in particular in old European tree-lore (Graves ).
Networking: the Entheogenic Transformation: Lycaeum
Perfecti. PO Box 7634 Olympia WA 98507 USA
Spores: Florida Mycology Research Center, P.O. Box 8104, Pensacola, Florida 32505, USA
Homestead Book Company, Box 31608, Seattle, WA 98103. USA
Syzygy, PO Box 619, Honaunau HI 96726, USA
said to Jesus,
'Tell us what the kingdom of heaven is like.'
He said to them, 'It is like a mustard seed.
It is the smallest of all seeds.
But when it falls on tilled soil,
it produces a great plant
and becomes a shelter for birds of the sky.'"
(Thomas 20 )
Estrada, Alvaro 1981 Maria Sabina : Her Life and Chants Ross Erickson Santa
Mushroom Ceremony of the Mazatec Indians of Mexico 1957 The Smithsonian Institution,
Folkways Cassette Series: 08975.
The Renewal celebrates the return of the Twelve Sacred monthly fruit of the Tree of Life, the fulfilment of the Flesh of the Gods. If you wish to guard and revere nature and the psychic plants, join in the Renewal. You will thereby join in saving biodiversity for all time. It is the natural endowment of Maria Sabina, the Native American Church and the Union Vegetale.
Two forms of snuffing tube (Schultes & Hofmann 1980).
One of the most powerful traditions in shamanic use of sacred plants comes from a complex of plants containing various admixtures of methylated-tryptamines and beta-carbolines. Sometimes just one of these components may be taken. Dimethyl-tryptamine or its 5-methoxy derivative may be taken on its own as a snuff. There are a variety of famous snuffs including yopo from leguminous Anadenanthera beans and epena from Virola species. These snuffs are often blown through long blow guns, resulting in an explosive entoxication. The substances are very short acting and literally knock the participant over, while lasting no more than five minutes. Several species of Acacia including confusa, maidenii, and phlebophylla also contain DMT as well as related Mimosa hostilis the roots of which form the basis of an hallucinogenic drink..
Left and right: evidence of nasal discharge in ceremony from Nazca culture and its predecessor
shows that the shamanic power animals of the desert were to be seen by flying shamans (Flightpath to the Gods TV).
Centre: Hallucinogenic snuffing through a blow gun (Flightpath to the Gods TV)
However the most singular hallucinogen known to man is certainlythe drink known in Quechua as ayahuasca - the vine of the soul or rope of the dead, Caapi, or Yaje. "There is a magical intoxicant in in the northwestern most of South America which the Indians believe can free the soul from corporeal confinement , allowing it to wander free and return to the body at will. The soul thus untrammeled, liberates its owner from the realities of everyday life and introduces him to wondrous realms of which he considers to be reality and permits him to communicate with his ancestors" (Schultes & Hofmann 1979 120).
This is an admixture based on both dimethyl-tryptamine and the carboline harmine. The bark of the vine of certain Banisteriopsis species is mashed and boiled with the leaves of plants such as certain Psychotria species. Sometimes some tropanes are also added. The principal is regarded as a major botanical discovery of the Indians: the beta-carboline acts as a mono-amine oxidase inhibitor, making it possible for the dimethyl-tryptamine to both enter the body through the stomach and to remain in action for some four hours. In combination, these substances produce a profound and sustained visionary state of a particularly tumultuous sort.
Phosphene ornamentation on the Maloca (Reichel-Dolmatoff). Psychotria and Banisteriopsis (CK).
Ritual yaje vessel (female) (Reichel-Dolmatoff).
Harner in 'The Way of the Shaman' gives a particularly striking description of his introduction to ayahuasca by the Conibo indians 'Just a few minutes earlier I had been disappointed, sure that the ayahuasca was not goint to have any effect on me. Now the sound of rushing water flooded my brain. My jaw began to feel numb ... Overhead the faint lines became brighter and gradually interlaced to form a canopy resembling a geometric mosaic of stained glass. I could see dim figures engaged in shadowy movements ... the moving scene resolved itself into a supernatural carnival of demons. In the centre was a gigantic grinning crocodilian head from whose cavernous jaws gushed a torrential flood of water'. The scene gradually tranformed into sky and sea. He then saw two vessels which merged 'into a single vessel with a dragon-headed prow'. 'I heard a regular swishing sound and saw it was a giant galley.' 'I became conscious too of the most beautiful singing I have ever heard in my life ... emanating from myriad voices on the galley. I could make out large numbers of people with the heads of blue jays'. 'At the same time some energy essence began to float from my chest up into the boat' as if to take his soul away. His body began to become numb as if his heart was going to stop. His brain became partitioned into an intellectual command level, the numb level and lower levels of the visions' (Harner1980 1)
'I was told that this new material was being presented to me because I was dying and therefore 'safe' to receive these revelations. 'First they showed me the planet earth as it was eons ago'. Then appeared 'large creatures with pterodactyl-like wings' which 'were fleeing from something out in space' and 'showed me how they had created life on the planet in order to hide within the multitudinous forms'. He then witnessed the unfolding of plant and animal speciation learning that 'the dragon-like creatures were inside all forms of life'. 'These revelations alternated with visions of the floating galley which had almost taken my soul on board' (Harner1980 4).
With an unimaginable last effort, I barely managed to utter one word to the indians: "Medicine!" I saw them rushing around to make an antidote' which 'eased my condition but did not prevent me from having many additional visions'. 'Finally I slept'. "Rays of light were piercing the holes in the palm-thatched roof when I awoke'. 'I was surprised to discover that I felt refreshed and peaceful' ' (Harner1980 5).
Afterwards he related his vision of the bat-like creatures to an aged sightless shaman who 'said with a grin "Oh they are always saying that. But they are only the masters of the outer darkness." waving his hand casually towards the sky ' just as Harner had seen in his vision.
Fighting Through Tikunas An ayahuasca session - Pablo Amaringo
There have been many reports that medicine men achieve clairvoyance under the influence of ayahuasca. For this reason, Fisher the first investigator to extract an alkaloid from it called the substance now known as harmine telepathine. This is a controversial area. Some researchers very experienced at the use of entheogens discont the idea that ayahuasca has any unique properties in this regard, but acknowledge that such properties are often attributed to hallucinogens generally (Ott 233).
Carlos Fallon commanded a gunboat floatilla navigating the Putamayo. He met a medicine man who was able to 'see' a Peruvian boat coming upstream manned by a crew of four and an officer before it was confirmed by a radio. Fallon tok the potion himself and reported that he was covered in feathers and talons rather than feet. He moved into the centre of the hut and from there he looked back to see his human body sleeping. When he asked the paye if this was possible, he was admonished not to attempt such things until after more practice at 'mastering his dreams (Andrews 353).
To the Amahuaca an ayahuasca party is a social occasion. Anyone can drop in and woen will sit chatting while their men keen and shudder away. However it may also be taken to find a thief or to seek revenge for acts of witchcraft through summoning a power animal soul as an agent to dispatch psychic darts into the adversary. Corresponding to this a shaman will traditionally remove sch magical darts by sucking them fro a person's abdomen during a healing session. Visions of sexual incubi and succubi are regarded as pleasant diversions with no ill effects. In general there is a clear distinction between disease per se and disease caused by sorcery, based on its unexplained or coincidental occurrence (Andrews 349).
Ayahuasca serves to form a meaningful social bond reinforcing the inner meaning of cultural values of the tribal relationships. It is thus valuable for young people and serves as a protection from the scourges of cocaine addiction. Note the death-like mask on the left (Psychedelic Science TV).
Hallucinations generally involve scenes which are part of a Cashinahua's daily experience, but they sometimes have visions of other places during their session. Kennsinger notes: "Several informants who had never been to or seen pictures of the local capital Pucallpa have described their visits under the influence of ayahuasca with sufficient detail for me recognise specific shops and sights. On the day following one ayahuasca party, six of nine men infored me of sseeing the death of my chai 'mother's father'. This occurred two days before I was informed by radio of his death" (Harner 1973 12).
Once the drug begins to shake them chanting begins in ernest. Each man sings independently. Chants often involve conversations with the spirits of the ayahuasca. At other times they chant simple rhythmic monosyllables. The experienced lead the uninitiated. Although each man operates on his own, the group is very important as it provides him with a contact with the real world, without which the terrors of the spirit world he is travelling through could be overwhelming. They see multicoloured snakes, jungle cats, spirits of ayahuasca, and scenes of real or spirit life in rapid transformation. Frequently a group of men will line up on a long each one wrapping his arms and legs around the one in front. The chanting rises and falls punctuated by shrieks of terror, retching and vomiting.
The Cashinahua do not drink ayahuasca for pleasure, but in order to learn about things, persons and events removed from them by time and/or space which could effect one or all of them. Hallucinations are veiwed as the experiences of an individual's dream spirit, they are portents of things to come or reminders of the past. The Cashinahua have two kinds of medical specalist: the herbalist, who treats diseases of natural aetiology through specific remedies and the shaman who treats supernatural causes by applying the power he has gained as a shaman to the spirit cause of the malady (Harner 1973 13).
I journeyed to Pucallpa to come to sample the Rope of the Dead. I had journeyed for days and nights, picking up information from other travellers. By the time I arrived, my time had nearly run out, and I had to seek a session through a canoe operator on the slumy back streets of Yarinacocha at two days notice. The shaman was crippled with leprosy. In a macabre gesture beyond belief he had to crawl across the floor to get to the ayahuasca bottle and because he had no fingers, he had to pull out the cork with his teeth, holding it in the stumps of his hands. He poured me a vial of brown liquid. I simmered this briefly under a kerosine lamp and drank its pungent contents like varnish. He sat talking to his friends spitting voluably in every direction. Bizarrely he had a son or nephew who he was caring for very tenderly and keeping well protected from mosquitoes. It could be he was now in remision! After some thirty minutes when I hadn't begun to feel that terribly nauseous I asked for a second cup to make sure the vision quest was accomplished.
Shipibo skirt showing ayahuaca vision motifs (San Francisco, Yarinacocha)
After this I began to feel the need to lie down. I returned to my room at the Mystic Society on the edge of the lagoon. I was lying flat in the night feeling really nauseous with the sounds of the lagoon and the insects weaving through the night air. The surroundings were alive with Shipibo art. The moving patterns moved with waves of nausea. I turned desperately to vomit and found a host of Shipibo vases stored there each yawning at me waiting to receive my offering. I then felt slowly better and began to settle into the visions in ernest. The zig-zag bed covers were running with flood waves of Shipibo energy. The force of the ayahuasca became all-consuming. Everywhere I tried to look, it was pulling me into its vortex like a whirlpool, so I would become lost. The mere shock of trying to step backwards seemed to add a toxic intensity. All my previous visionary experiences came apart like a stack of cards. Above all I wanted to know how consciousness was realized in space-time. I posed the eternal question as a koan and sat in stillness of death in the tropical night 'seeing' the answer with my quantum-mechanical brain, revealing its secrets of precognition - how conscious experience is able to reach both forward and backward in time. The Orphic experience from the world beyond.
Nearly twenty years later n 1999 I returned to Pucallpa on my vigil down the Amazon and again sought out an ayahuasca curandero on the outskirts of Yarinacocha to convey the Amazonian rite of passage to my companions. After a chance meeting in the street with a middle-aged woman, we were directed to Senora Trinico. After some searching in the slum area of the back streets I finally was greeted in a small shanty by a rheumy-eyed middle-aged man with a walking stick who was not the senore but certainly claimed to be trinico. The moment I saw his fingerless hands, I realized this was the one and same person echoing from the deep past. This time four of us had an evening cramped in the dark in the small shanty room while Trinico, sang ayahuasca songs whistling softly and eerily connecting us all in an infinitely spacious chant, watched over astutely by the senora throughout. I was the only one to hold my stomach throughout. We each took one larger but less concentrated draft. The first onrush was very strong punctuated by a quiet period after midnight. When we came to take our leave and seek the solace of fresh pioneapple in the local hospedaje los delphines, we desperately cut pina to assuage our tettered stomachs. Holding the medicine had an interesting sequel. With each round of sustinance, came another flush of visions as the stomach unwound and beganto ingest the remnants of alkaloids.
The Yurupari rite. Chief Paye of the Kofan: "they have also wisemen or wizards among them
of great esteem who serve them as counsellors for Religion, Physick, Law and Policy ...
and he called himself the son of the sun." - 1663 (Schultes & Hofmann 1980 71).
Yurupari dances [have been] widespread, especially in western Amazonia ... they characteristically use sacred bark horns and are taboo to women, who are forbidden to see them and flee to the forest at the first sound. In former times, women who did actually see a horn were killed usually with poison. Yurupari means everything from 'the devil', 'ancestor spirit', 'mystery' to 'fertility rite' (Schultes & Hofmann 1980 173). The new adolescent freshmen are subjected to a wild ritual whipping from head to toe, during the ceremonial drinking of ayahuasca, while trumpters in pairs weave in and out of the Maloca in dancing motions. In Tukano Yuripari is miria-pora which means to submerge oneself (coitus) - descendents (paternity). The ritual promulgates the law of exogamy.
The Tukano origin of Yaje goes back to the first woman of creation, who 'drowned' men in visions, just as Tukano men also believe they drown in coitus. She found herself with child, impregnated through the eye by a ray of the sun like Mary. She gave birth to the child who became Caapi. The child was born in a brilliant flash of light. The woman - Yaje cut the umbilical cord and rubbing the child with magical plants shaped his body. She takes him into the house full of chaotic disorder where the men are and says "whose is this child?" - They are 'suffocated with visions' under the giddy influence of her and the child. After a pause the spell is broken and one man after another takes a piece of the child, like Dionysus! Each staking a claim to the incestuous paternity. Each piece became a cultivar of the Yaje vine, and symbolically the light each carries.
Epena snuff is similarly described by the Tukano in terms of a male fertility myth as the 'semen of the sun'. At the beginning of time Father Sun had incest with his daughter who acquired Viho or epena by scratching her father's penis.
For the Indian "the hallucinatory experience is essentially a sexual one ... to make it sublime, to pass from the erotic, the sensual to a mystical union with the mythic era, the intra-uterine age is the ultimate goal, attained by a mere handful, but coverted by all" (Schultes & Hofmann 1979 124).The Maloca is itself the uterus. The purpose of the myth is to preserve the order of fertility. If mankind was to prevail and survive as part of nature, and was to pass on a true legacy to new generations, people had to assume responsibilities and find ways to control the organization of society so as to produce a balance between human needs and the resources available in nature (Reichel-Dolmatoff 1).
Bull costumes in UDV (Union Vegetale) parade, the front of the UDV Meeting Hall (Psychedelic Science TV).
The Union Vegetale: The shamanic use of ayahuasca has been reformed into a modern religious movement Union of the Vegetal to "remember past lives and to understand the true meaning of reincarnation as well as to become familiar with the origin and the real destiny of nature and of man".
A UDV meeting with ayahuasca brewing in the foreground. The Celebrants sit for four to six hours in the church meeting hall in contemplation, music and some speeches. A Union Vegetale celebrant drinking ayahuasca (Psychedelic Science TV)..
The Union Vegetale is a nominally Christian movement to experience inner harmony through partaking of ayahuasca tea. A fortnightly meeting is held by the movement, which includes members of both sexes from all walks of life. Its membership is not restricted to one fringe group.
Another plant from the old world which also contains harmine and harmaline after which it is named is Peganum harmala or Syran rue. This plant remains one of the candidates for the sacred plant Soma. Harmel would be ruddy if pressed from the root, where the active ingredients are stored as they are also in the seed.
Rudgley has suggested that Peganum was the ancient Soma. He notes that Avesta describes Soma as tall perfumed and greenish. The Vedas also describe Soma as growing in the mountains. In 1794 Jones' Laws of Manu describes Soma as a species of mountain rue but not true rue (Ruta). Peganum (wlid rue) is found in the central Asian steppes and Iranian plateau.
Rue intoxication is characterised by a soporific stupor with hallucination. In the Avesta Yasna 10:8 notes: "Indeed all other intoxications are accompanied by violence of the bloody club, but the intoxication of Haoma is accompanied by bliss-giving righteousness".
The consumption of sauma is the only means recognised in the Zoroastrian literature and is the means used by Ohrmazd when he wishes to make the menog - seeing into existence before death - visible to living persons (McKenna 105).
In the book of Arda Wiraz the Persian priest drinks mang from three golden cups for Good Thought, Speech and Action, at a great meeting of priests to assess the future prospects in the wake of Alexander's incursions. His soul travels to another world returning on the seventh day, relaying all he has seen to a scribe. In this journey he travels on the axis-mundi to heaven and hell in just the manner of Muhammad's night flight to heaven."I saw the pre-eminent world of the pious which is the all-glorious light of space, perfumed with sweet basil, all-bedecked and splendid full of glory and every pleasure, with which no one is satiated" (Rudgley 53).
Desert acacia 'burning bush': Desert Land
Evidence is beginning to accumulate that this hallucinogen may also have been available to ancient Biblical prophets including Moses, and Bedouins of al-Lat. Peganum harmala is widespread in Biblical areas and is noted on Gebel Musa one principal candidate for Mt. Sinai of Moses (Hobbs 16). A specific desert acacia, Sant, a host tree of the mistletoe-like loranthus, is Moses 'burning bush' and the source of mana (Graves 1948 264), which is the prime oracular tree of Canaan (440). If this contains tryptamines as many species do Moses could have had access to a potion much like ayahuasca.
This experience follows a close parallel to those of the Prophet during his night journey to heaven on the axis mundi. "It is related from the Prophet that over each leaf and seed of the isfand plant an angel is appointed so that through its bark and roots and branches grief and sorcery are set aside" Baqir Majlisi (Rudgley 43). A hadith relates that in seeking a solution to the cowardice of his followers, Muhammad was told by Allah to cammand them to consume isfand in order to make them brave (Rudgley 52). In the garden of paradise Allah also has a sacred drink spiced with ginger. This suggests an intriguing possibility that the inspiration of Muhammad's vision could have been Soma itself and that this vision is comparable with that of the Vine of the Soul.
Fray Bernadino de Sahagun estimated from Indian chronology that peyote had been known to the Chichimeca and Toltec at least 1890 years before the arrival of the Europeans. This is confirmed by the find of the peyote deer snuff pipe at Monte Alban (below). Usage for as long as 3000 years is suggested from Tarahumara rock carvings and Peyote specimens found in Texas rock shelters (S&H 132). de Sahagan reports as follows: "There is another herb like [opuntia]. It is called peiotl. It is found in the north country. Those who eat or drink it see visions, either frightful or laughable. This intoxication lasts two or three days and then ceases. It is a common food of the Chichimeca, for it sustains them and gives them courage to fight and not to feel hunger or thirst. And they say it protects them from all danger" (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 132).
As with sacred mushrooms, the Spaniards repressed the use of peyote because it was connected with heathen rituals and superstitions to contact evil spirits through diabolical fantasies. (S&H 134). Francisco Hernandez, physician to King Philip II noted: "Wonderful properties are attributed to this root., if any faith can be given to what is commonly said among them on this point. It cause those devouring it to be able to forsee and predict things ..." (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 134).
A little later, we hear of a Cora ritual: "Close to the musician was seated the leader of the singing, whose business it was to mark time. Each had his assistants to take his place should he become fatigued. Nearby was a try filled with peyote, which is ground up and drunk by them so that they will not become weakened by the all night function. One after another they went dancing in the ring ... singing the same unmusical tune he set them. They would dance all night without stopping or leaving the circle."This ancient ritual use of peyote is preserved among the Huichol and has become a founding theme of the Native American Church. (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 134).
The Huichol make a yearly pilgrimage , the peyote hunt over 600km of rugged desert country from their tribal homeland in the Sierra Madre Occidental (Meyerhoff 10, Furst 136). The journey involves many ritual steps and many days of journey involving hardship. The confessing of marital infidelities is done without recrimination. The Huichol are polygamous and traditionally accept such revelations with a light heart. A knot is placed in a string for each occasion and then burned. Although the most substantive work about the pilgrimage is Barbara Meyerhoff's "Peyote Hunt" most of these quotations come from the shorter earlier article in Furst.
"Might the sacred country be a kind of "Great Mother"? If so we would have at least one explanation for the emphasis on ridding oneself of all adult sexual experience before embarking on the journey, lest the whole enterprise come to naught and the offender go mad in Wirikuta. To 'enter' the great mother as an experienced adult would would be tantamount to incest. ... I want to emphasize that there is no overt equation of Wirikuta with a "Great Mother" in the Huichol peyote traditions, yet it is implied: one need only recall the emphasis on the embrace of the hummingbird-children by the Mother Goddess Niwetuka(me) as they finally reach the peyote country" (Furst 158). Crossing the 'dangerous passage' the gateway of the clouds they are blindfolded. "From there one travels to the place called Vagina .. and from there directly to Tatei Matinieri - Where Our Mother Dwells." (Furst 162). Later still we reach 'The Springs of Our Mothers' (Furst 166). Also notable is the place where the penis hangs.
The participants often paradoxically speak the opposite of what is intended. Finally with rising excitement the mara'akáme- spiritual leader rushes ahead and fires an arrows to enclose the first peyote on all quarters and exclaims 'how sacred, how beautiful, the five-pointed deer!'. He then cuts the hikuri leaving some root to regrow new crowns. The return to Wirikuta the sacred mountain is seen as a return to paradise.
"One day it will
be all as you have seen it there in Wirikuta.
The first people will come back.
The fields will be pure and crystalline.
The world will end and it will all be pure again" (Internet).
Ramon gestures on the hunt, Lophophora williamsii, the Peyote collected (Furst).
Speak to the peyote
with your heart, with your thoughts.
And the peyote sees your heart ...
And if you have luck, you will hear things
and receive things that are invisible to others,
but that god has given you to pursue your path
(Schultes and Hofmann 138).
Although children under three are not given peyote, older ones are generally offered some as an omen of their potential as a mara'akáme. 'After slight hesitation ten-year-old Fracisco who had not tasted peyote before began to chew vigorously. He nodded - yes he liked it. He danced for hours and fell asleep smiling happily.' 'Veradera, a strikingly handsome girl under twenty ate more peyote than anyone with the exception of Ramón and Lupe and later that night fell into a deep trance that lasted for many hours and caused everyone to regard her as specially sacred' (Furst 176).
A personal peyote quest: El Catorce Real, the old Spanish silver mining town on Wirikuta (CK).
A desert twister in the Yucca and barrel cactus-strewn desert below (CK). Peyote in natual habitat (CK).
'As the bowl was handed round the others lead by Ramón exhorted them to chew well for that is how you will see your life'. Lupe then took a sizeable whole plant, sliced off at the bottom lifted her magnificently embroidered skirt made specially for the occasion and rubbed the moist end on her legs. Lupe explained that peyote not only discourages hunger and thirst and restores one's spirit but also heals wounds and prevents infection. Some plants were cleaned and popped straight into the mouth. Lupe sometimes wept when she did this. She was also chewing incessently as was Ramón. The night was spent singing and dancing round the ceremonial fire chewing peyote in astounding quantities and listening to the ancient stories. Veradera had been sitting motionless for hours. Lupe placed candles around her to protect her against attacks from sorcerers while her soul was travelling outside her body' (Furst 177).
Ramon Medina Silva on the Peyote Hunt (Campbell 1987).
Don Jose Matsuwa in Peyote trance during an evening session by the sacred fire (Schultes and Hofmann).
path is unending.
I am an old, old man and still a nunutsi (baby)
standing before the mystery of the world"
Don Jose Matsuwa (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 138).
One of the most outstanding Huichol peyote shamans of modern times is don Jose Matsuwa who at 1990 was the venerable age of 109. Besides walking in the sacred journey to Wirikuta, 'don Jose spent many years living alone in the Huichol sierra learning directly from the ancient ones who reside there in the caves and mountains. In order to become a shaman in the Huichol tradition one must learn to dream consciously and lucidly, for after a healing has been performed, that night the shaman tries to dream about the patient and find out the reason for the illness. Each day the Huichols tell their dreams to "Grandfather fire". Dreams help to bring together the past, present and the future' (Halifax 249).
Brant Secunda became his apprentice after walking from Ixtlan into the mountains. 'On the third day of my journey, I became completely lost after walking down a deer trail. I became terrified and lay down to die, from sun exposure and dehydration. I then began to have vivid visions of colourful circles filled with deer and birds, but was suddenly awakened by Indians standing over me sprinkling water over me. They told me the shaman of their village had had a dream about me two days earlier and they had been sent out to rescue me' (Rainbow Network Aug 90 4).
'While travelling to a sacred cave in Mexico, we stopped for the night. Don Jose wrapped himself in his blanket and we all went to sleep around the fire. At about 3.30 a.m. don Jose called out to everyone. We sat up and listened as he told us of his dreams. He explained how the cave we were travelling to came into being and about the godess that resides there at that sacred place. He said the goddess of that cave was waiting for us and that we should get going so we could learn there and have our own vision' (Halifax 238).
"There is a doorway within our minds that usually remains hidden and secret until the time of death. The Huichol word for it is nieríka. Nieríka is a cosmic portway or interface between so-called ordinary and non-ordinary realities. It s a passageway and at the same time a barrier between the worlds" - Prem Dass (Halifax 242).
"I have pursued my apprenticeship for sixty-four years. During these years, many, many times I have gone into the mountains alone. Yes I have endured much suffering in my life. Yet to learn to see, to learn to hear, you must do this - go into the wilderness alone. For it is not I who can teach you the ways of the gods. Such things are learned only in solitude." - Don Jose Matsuwa (Halifax) 238).
Tatewari - Sacred Great Grandfather fire.
"When the mara'akáme passes through the nieríka [visionary tunnel] he moves just as the smoke moves; hidden currents carry him up and in all directons at once ... as if upon waves, flowing into and through other waves ... the urucate. As the mara'akáme descends and passes through the nieríka on the return, his memory of the urucate and their world fades; only a glimmer remains of the fantastic journey that he has made (Halifax 242).
Listen my children we
are the ones
The path is clear, the danger is gone
Káuyumari will guide us only he knows the way
Light your candles, the gods have come
They were people, yet
they were gods
Follow the eagle, see where she goes
From there they come, and the path unfolds
So then the example is set, we must follow along.
Look to the sky, to
our Father above,
we are all his children, dance to the song.
As the Ancient Ones knew, the time has come,
The nieríka is opening, and we pass on to the sun.
My body had fallen asleep, yet my mind was ascensing on a breeze chant that had now turned into a jet stream upon which I was ascending ... I could see my hut and the village below. I was free and flying with such a feeling of exhiliration that I wanted to cry, for now I was experiencing the tru meaning of Don Jose's song ... various kinds of light and form passed ... Each song lifted me higher to a warm, blissful and radiant light. As I came closer to the great brilliant sphere, time was slowing to a stop. Intuitively, I knew I was dead and had absolutely no knowledge of who and where I came from. Yet I knew and felt totally at home, as if I had returned from a journey in a far away land. - Prem Das (Halifax 239).
Huichol yarn painting depicting themes from the genesis myth:
The Nierika or cosmic portal of Kauyumari or Elder Brother Deer,
linking the underworld with Mother Earth, through which the gods came.
Through it all life came into being. It unifies the spirit of all things and all worlds.
(Schultes & Hofmann 1979).
Back in the first times after the sun [Tayaupá] had a dream of a new world he sent Káuyumari to find it. The Little Deer Spirit was informed by the sun where a great swirling tunnel of light existed, through which he was to pass. This is the neríka. He was led by Tatewarí, Great Grandfather Fire, and quite a number of uricate. They travelled through the portal arriving in the world in which we now live. They created everything. So beautiful was the new world that even the sun travelled through to take his place in the sky." Because Káuyumari became too enamoured of the Huichol girls and disrupted the sacred rituals dedicated to the sun with jealousies, resulting in suffering and prompting the sun to free them from their misery, he caused rains to come and flood the entire world. Only one Huichol Watákame was saved, being warned by Nakawé Great Grandmother Growth that he should gather seeds, build a canoe and prepare himself. The world repopulated quickly after Watákame was given a wife, but he found that his offspring had no memory of the neríka and did not have the psychic powers of their forebears. From this time on only those who were willing to suffer the rigours of self-sacrifice would know neríka.
"The Earth is
sick and dying. The lands of the Huichol Indians,
hidden high in the remote Sierra Madre mountains of northwestern Mexico,
are dying. The forests are shrinking, water is becoming scarce,
and the animals are disappearing.
Mankind must be a
steward of the Earth;
Caretakers for all that dwells upon it;
To be of one heart with all things.
Human beings must
learn to share the tears of every living thing,
To feel in his heart the pain of the wounded animal, each crushed blade of grass;
Mother Earth is our flesh; the rocks, our bones;
The rivers are the blood of our veins."
The Huichol Wise man,
the Grand Shaman, knows why.
"When the world ends, it will be like when the names of things are changed during the peyote hunt. All will be different, the opposite of what it is now. Now there are two eyes in the heavens, Dios Sol and Dios Fuego. Then, the moon will open his eye and become brighter. The sun will become dimmer. There will be no more differences. No more men and women. No child and no adult. All will change places..."
Huichol Proverb: "The teachings are for all, not just for Indians. ...The white people never wanted to learn before. They thought we were savages. Now they have a different understanding, and they do want to learn. We are all children of God. The tradition is open to anyone who wants to learn. But who really wants to learn?" - Don Jose Matsuwa, Huichol, 1989
The Huichol shamans say we are perdido, lost. They say we are bringing doom and destruction to Yurianaka, Mother Earth, and that Taupa, Father Sun, is coming closer to the earth to purify it. They are concerned for the future and for the life of their children. They are holding great ceremonies calling in shamans from many areas to try and "hold up the sun." But they know they cannot do it themselves, for they are not the ones soiling the collective nest. We are. We are the ones who have to wake up, who have to find our lives.
For the Huichols, this is the purpose of their sacred pilgrimage to the holy land of Wiricuta--to find their lives. This is what all their ceremonies involving the ritual use of the peyote help them to accomplish. Their technology of the sacred enables them to change channels and access "state specific information" available only on the wavelengths of specific channels. For shamanic peoples such as the Huichols, the purpose in changing channels is not for escapism, to get lost in imaginary hallucinations that have no basis in reality. Their purpose is to get a more accurate reading of the nature of reality. They seek entrance through the nierica into the numinous universe underlying the limited, material world of the sensory--the "mysterious, ubiquitous, concentrated form of non-material energy . . . loose about the world and contained in a more or less condensed degree by all objects" (Bob Calahan in his introduction to Jaimie de Angulo's Coyote Man and Old Doctor Loon).
Why? To obtain information, healing, and power, which they can use here on this plane of existence to better their lives and the lives of their people. Entering into the depths of the mystery is not something to take lightly, for the mystery is all about power and power can manifest itself in many ways. Out of respect, the Wisdom Elders observe, listen, and commune with this power in all its manifestations. From this base of phenomenological data of mind in nature, nature in mind, they came to learn the order and structure of life's connectedness and that all things are dependent upon each other and thus related. Recognizing this, the norm of reciprocity in all interactions is raised to the status of sacred. Balanced reciprocity with all of creation is observed at all costs, for without this practice, the fragile web of life is irreversibly damaged, a fate that faces us today
"If you have the desire to learn the path of the shaman, the Fire will teach you, the Fire, our Grandfather. You must listen to the Fire, for the Fire speaks and the Fire teaches. And during the day the sun... there are many ways to gain vision, many, many ways. Yet for me the best is hikuri, peyote. When I eat hikuri the world becomes radiant with glowing colour. Káuyumari the little deer comes, lke a mirror and shows me how it all is, what you must do. When you hear me chanting the sacred songs, it is not I who sing, but it is Káuyumari who is singing into my ear" (Halifax 137)
"Tayyaupá burns your land ... The last time I was in your land, we did a ceremony. And after the ceremony a powerful rain came. I chanted with my heart. Yes we had purified ourselves at the ocean in the morning, after celebrating throught the night; then the clouds began to gather, and within several hours it was pouring rain ... When you do ceremonies, sending out your love in the five directions - the north, south east, west and the center - brings life force into you. That love brings in the rain ... We will have to gather together and with the ceremonies, begin to tune ourselves with the environment, bringing it back into balance again. The ocean is telling me that if it doesn't soon come into balance, terrible destruction will come in the form of fire ... so I ask you to go to the sea and make offerings. Take a candle, chocolate and money. Offer these things to Tatei Haramara, Our Mother of the Sea" (Halifax 252).
"You must study these things I am saying ... You have your own way of learning ... But you have seen the flower of my vision on my face, and you must know that it is important to think of these things each day and each night. Then one day the sea will give you heart; the Fire will give you heart; the Sun will give you heart... I will check you by lifting up the nieríka, like a mirror, and I will see what you have done, how you have gone in the world" (Halifax 252).
Peyote is also enjoyed as a sacrament among more than 40 American Indian tribes in many parts of the US and Canada in the form of the Native American Church. This was an adaption of the Mexican ritual that was adopted by tribes in the north who were facing a crisis of cultural disintegration. Peyote helped to bring a spirit of toleration and understanding in these difficult crcumstances.
(a) The Form of the Plains Ceremony (Anderson) (b) Tellus Goodmorning at 91 (c) Peyote meeting (Scientific American)
I made a pilgrimage to participate in a traditional Peyote meeting in 1980. I returned twelve years later to find the previous Roadman, Tellus Goodmorning at the age of 91, missing one eye, and having spent six months in hospital with a broken pelvis, but nevertheless full of enthusiam to spend the entire night taking his turn to chant at the peyote meeting held in honour of his son with the very substantial teepee held up with his own teepee poles.
I had had to to visit the old roadman of my last meeting, Telles 'Goodmorning' for a second time before he decided to confide that there was a big meeting in honour of his son the next week. When I arrived, he said "Why you come?" almost as if he'd never seen me, but he told me that the teepee was up. Every one greeted Tellus as the great old man he was. Very frail at 93 with only one eye and a hip fracture last year that put him in hospital for five months. The roadman, Junior was accompanied by his mother and her husband.
The sunset dragged slowly into senescence by the time everyone gathered in line and walked clockwise round the teepee, entered and shut the door. The practitioners all had little boxes with rattles and feather regalia and cushions and blankets to last out the early morning chill. A fire is lit in a ceremonial vee in the middle of the teepee and around this is a crescent alter of sand. This also has to be circumambulated on entry to the teepee. At this point the roadman makes an initial speech to thank everyone who has contributed to the meeting and to explain how it has been called interspersed with many ritual 'you knows'. Everyone then rolls a corn husk cigarette and takes a smoke. Prayers are given up and the buts are placed around the crescent altar.
The water drum which is assembled from an iron pot and goat skin sloshed from inside with water is then bought into action with the roadman's feather kit and rattle. The practitioners sing and drum in pairs. The drum is an intense shamanic beat of 3/sec and the rattler chants a syllabic chant of Hei-hei-hei-wichi-hei-ho-ho-ho-ho which runs on like a river of concentration. The mood is intense. The sacred medicine was passed twice around the circle over an hour period. There are strict rituals. Everyone must move to the right, no one can walk past a person with the sacred medicine in their mouth. Telles took his full part in both the consumption and the chanting. No one was allowed out, except during brief interludes between songs and then only with the permission of the roadman or fireman.
At intervals they would stop chanting and take a smoke as an offering to heal a sick person or calamity. This round went on until around midnight when the roadman blew a whistle and went out to pray to the four winds. There is no possiblity of relaxation for a moment because the roadman is out there praying and needs our help! The Peyote road is described as 'a hard road'. A session is always accompanied by some degree of nausea and occasional vomiting. I have more than once been on the point of retching, only to be prodded by a severe participant "No lounging about!".
After midnight everyone got out their own feathers and rattles to sing their own chants. The fire was brightly coloured. As the intensity of the evening drilled relentlessly into the small hours the energy built up to a fever pitch. An Indian lady broke out into a wailing lament about her family's health which caused the chanting to weave into a frenzy, becoming an unearthly dance of the guardian spirits at the gate of Orpheus's underworld over the chanting. Homer took a smoke on his grandchildren who had been taken away by their mother, and some other people with disabilities had people take a smoke on them. Several of the participants had physical problems. Gradually the light of dawn drew on with ever yet more songs. Finally the roadman blew his whistle to the winds again. And all the buts were burned in the fire.
There now began the invocation of the mother waters, the mother of all creation. She sat with a pot of water and began a long speech and prayer which started out with and explanation that our concerns should be addressed to people because it was human action which was the source of all folly. She said not to be worried about the environment or the state of the world, because Mother Nature was coming in her own way to set things right and bring the affairs of the world to a natural conclusion. This extended to a blessing of relatives who had disabilities and then spread out into a blessing of all people present and all things in which they have concern which fanned out into a great prayer in Native American, English and Spanish. Afterwards the water bucket was passed around everyone. Then the younger women came back circumnavigating the tepee once outside and once inside, placing a bowls of corn porridge and sweet raisin pork. The cowboy drummer and the roadman Junior did one last song, dismantled the water drum and handed it round the principal practitioners to drink from the peyote drum.Finally the breakfast was handed clockwise around everyone in the ring.
After we went out again ringing the tipi, everyone exchanged a formal "Good Morning" with their eyes riveted on one another in great sincerity. Telles, who had been eyeing me through his one not too good eye very alertly during the evening beamed at me and said "So you made it!". Hence his name 'Tell-us-goodmorning'. The morning protocol continued to a a formal lunch opened with a traditional grace saying how 'these people have gathered together to hear your wisdom through the sacred medicine dear god, and all their relatives have gathered dear god, to eat this sacred food dear god' in traditional style.
Bertha the Mother Waters who was actually the roadman Junior's mother put on a formidable performance. She had spent twenty years often missing two nights sleep in a week to attend far-flung meetings. She explained that non-ordinary reality was the real reality and everyday reality was only a shadow into which the greater reality was condensed. How it was manifest in all things from the birds to the wind and how she could see and travel to distant cities in the peyote fire. She told us this story of how she threw the ceremonial water pot over her husband in play and it rained for a week solid everywhere she went until she sat in a medicine meeting a week later and vowed never to abuse the sacred water again. She knew the rain would stop at midnight and sure enough it did. Mother Waters has a history that goes all the way back to Chalchiuhtlicue, Jade Skirt, the mother of springs, steams, lakes and water holes. After the meal I was sternly ordered by Didi the fireman to come and help dig up the ashes and sand altar from the teepee. He admonished me very firmly not to score the ground because that is the peyote road you are working and it should be smooth and gentle. Next the teepee and finally the poles, which were Telles's own ones, were brought down.
It is commented that Jesus came to the white man as flesh and blood, but to the Native American as peyote. John Wilson, who many claim as the 'founder' of of the peyote religion in the United States cliamed that he was continually translated in spirit to the 'sky realm' by peyote and it was there that he learned the events of Christ's life and the relative position of several of the spirit forces such as sun, moon and fire. He reported that he had seen Christ's grave, now empty and that peyote had instructed him about the 'Peyote Road' which led from Christ's grave to the moon (this had been the Road in the sky which Christ had travelled in his ascent .
"Most peyotist strongly affirm the Christian elements as an important part of their religion. One ofthe most interesting claims is that" (Anderson 51):
"God told the
Delawares to do good even before
He sent Christ to the whites who killed him ...
God made Peyote It is His power.
It is the power of Jesus.
Jesus came afterwards on this earth, after peyote."
"You white people needed a man to show you the way, but we Indians have always been friends with the plantsand understood them ... 'The white man goes into a church and talks about Jesus , but the Indian goes into ateepee and talks to Jesus.' (Anderson 52).
However, it is Christ in his second-self who came to give the peyote ritual to the Menomini:
"This old man was a chief of a whole tribe, and he have his son to be a chief. He said, "I'm going to go, and you take my place. Take care of this [tribe]." And the boy, he went out hunting; He was lost for about four days. He began to get dry and hungry, tired out; so he gave up. There was a nice place there - there was a tree there; nice shade, nice grass - and he looked at that place there; it would be a nice place for him to die. So he went, lay himself down on his back; he stretched out his arms like this [extending his arms horizontally], and lay like that. Pretty soon he felt something kind of damp [in] each hand. So he took them, and after he took them, then he passed away" (Anderson 23-4).
" Just as soon as he - I suppose his soul - came to, he see somebody coming on clouds. There's a cloud; something coming. That's a man coming this way, with a buckskin suit on; he got long hair. He come right straight for him; it's Jesus himself. So he told this boy, "Well, one time you was crying, and your prayers were answered that time. So I come here. I'm not supposed to come; I said I wasn't going to come before two thousand years," he said. "But I come for you, to come tell you why that's you [are] lost. But we're going to bring you something, so you can take care of your people. That's what you're crying for; you don't know how - how you're going to take care of your people. So we're going to give you that power to do it. But we go up here first." So they went up a hill there. There's a tipi there, all ready. So Christ, before he went in it, offered a prayer. So they went in there. Then he showed him the [ritual] ways; the medicine, how to use it, he gave him the songs, them songs we're using -but that's why, see [that] we don't understand them words [of the songs], you know. Take this medicine along, over there. Whoever takes this medicine, he will do it in my name." So that's how it represents almost the first beginning." (Anderson 23-4)
There is an apocryphal story peyote had a role in the transcendental experiences responsible for the evolution of Adolf Hitler's messianic ideas. The story goes that during 1911, Hitler met a bookseller named Ernst Pretzsche whose father had been an apothecary in México City and had spent leisure hours in an extensive study of the customs and ritual magic of the Aztecs. He lead Hitler through an exploration of von Eschenbach's "Parsival" in which initiates acquired the art of reading from the cosmic chronicle of human destiny in which past, present and future were united in one uncoiling ribbon of time. He persuaded him to take the meditative initiations before taking peyote as a short cut to realization. In 1913, Walter Stein travelled with Hitler up the Danube. After they had left Hitler disclosed that he was planning to stay with the herbalist Hans Lodz who had previously prepared a poition of peyote with which he had had his first experience of the Macrocosm and an insight into the mysteries of Reincarnation. He admitted to Stein that he had not cherished the idea of compromising his own will to a process over which he might have little control. Although his interest was primarily in discovering the meaning of his own destiny within the historical process, he did remark to Stein on his visions of the physiological processes of his body biochemistry (Andrews 1975 417). However other historians doubt this story was possible.
In any case neither the power plants nor the substances they contain can be held responsible for the twisted vision of the partaker, nor what may result from their application to dark ends. Aldous Huxley who made mescalin famous to the post-war generation set a completely different example, dying peacefully under LSD. Peyote has a great reputation as both a spiritual and a physical medicine and has 250,000 adherents in the Native American Church alone.
Chavin culture 1200 - 600 BC San Pedro and Leopard. Trichocereus pachanoi.
Eduardo Calderon Palomino Peruvian shaman with mesa and San Pedro (left) (Furst, CK, Sharon).
A second cactus species, San Pedro or the cactus of the Four Winds, Trichocereus pachanoi also bearing mescalin, has been the subject of very long sacred use in the Andes. A variety of acrhaelogical finds from 1500 BC on display San Pedro as a ritual power plant associated with gods and jaguars. It is still consumed as a sacred drink Cimora, sometimes along with Brugmansia species, particularly in rites along the shores of lagoons high in the Andes. The name San Padro intimates the cactus holds the keys to the gates of heaven. The rituals surrounding its use also have a prominent lunar character. During the ritual the participants are 'set free from matter' and engage in flight through the cosmic regions (Schultes and Hofmann 156).
Shaman from the Nazca culture also shows San Pedro shoulder lapels (Flightpaths to the Gods TV).
The Mother Goddess with Morning Glory Vine - Teotihuacan (Berrin).
Preparing Ololiuqui for a shamanic healing (Schultes & Hofmann 1979). Flowers of Tlitliltzin (CK).
Four centuries ago a Spanish missionary wrote: "Ololiuqui ... deprives all who use it of their reason ... The natives communicate in this way with the devil, for they usuall talk when they become intoxicated with Ololiuqui and they are decived by various hallucinations which they attribute to the diety which they say resides in the seeds. ... Its plant was termed 'coatl-xoxo uhqui' the green snake". Today in most villages of Oaxaca one finds the seeds still servng the natives as an ever-present help in times of trouble (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 158).
In 1651 Hernandez physician to Philip II "Ololiuqui which some call Coaxihuitl or 'snake plant' is a twining herb with thin green cordate leaves, slender green terate stems, and long white flowers. Its seed is like like coriander whence the name [in Nahuatl - round thing] of the plant. It cures syphillis, relieves flatulence and removes tumors, ... banshes chills and helps in dislocations and fractures. ... Formerly when the priests wanted to communicate with their gods and to receive a message from them they ate this plant to nduce a delirium. A thousand visions and satanic hallucinations appeared to them." In Aztec confesions the Indian said: "I have believed in dreams, in magic herbs, in Peyote, in Ololiuqui, in the owl ..." (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 158)
Like the other power plants, Ololiuqui is traditionally used to cure either by the shaman or the patient or both drinking the gorund up seeds which have been steeped in water to form a liquor, and consulting the resulting visions for a source to the cure, generally alone in th night in contrast to the group use of Peyote and sacred mushrooms. Although its descriptions at first caused it to be confused with Datura, in 1937 Rivea (Turbina) corymbosa seeds of the 'medicine for divination' were finally collected among the Chinantec and Zapotec of Oaxaca. A second morning glory Ipomoea violacea was also used by the Aztecs under the name Tlitliltzin. These have long black seeds 'badoh negro' and are sometimes referred to as male while the Ololiuqui are female and taken by women.
The active principles in both these seeds are lysergic acid amide and hydrox-ethyl -amide. These have an effect reminiscent of LSD the diethyl-amide form of the same lysergide molecule. This has a somewhat more narcotic effect and is two orders of magnitude less potent by weight, but does induce a somewhat similar visionary aspect, although significantly less pleasant. One could say that evolution has not quite completed its task in this respect, one which genetic engineering may eventually come to do, as a minor modification of the last step of synthesis is all that is required.
As Chistian influence has seeped in the morning glory has come to be named Semilla de Virgin 'seed of the virgin' and Hierba Maria 'the herb of Mary' indicating the trasferrence of their perceived divine nature. This naming is consistent with the appearance of the plant back in ancient Teotehuacan, were there is a temple freeze of the Mother Goddess and her priestly attendants with the 'snake vine' issuing from behind her (S&H 158).
The Temptations of St. Anthony. Xochipilli Aztec Flower God of Intoxication
with the symbols of sacred mushrooms, morning glory, tobacco, and sinicuiche
(Schultes & Hofmann 1979).
There is a complete homology between the substances in the morning glories and another ancient source of hallucinatory disturbance, in the ergot of rye Claviceps purpurea, along with other vasoconstrictive indoles. This homology suggests the possibility that the genes for synthesis may have been transferred from ergot to the genus of the morning glory at some stage through viral transfer. The enclosed seed capsule of this genus is liable to harbour fungi and would thus provide good conditions for such an event.
Reference to ergot as a contaminant of grain crops goes back to the Assyrians of 600 BC who refer to it as a "noxious pustule in the ear of the grain". In 350 BD the Parsees noted: "among the evil things ... are noxious grasses that cause pregnant women to drop the womb and die in childbed" It has been suggested that a related fungus Claviceps paspali may have been used as the intoxicant in the mysteries of Eleusis. Several members of this genus infect a number of wild grasses in Greece (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 102-3).
The Greeks did not use Rye because of the "black malodorous produce of Thrace and Macedonia" (Schulktes and Hofmann 1979 103). When Rye began to be widely cultivated in Europe in the Christian era, epidemic poisoning occurred, particularly during times of famine when contaminated grain was eaten because good produce was in short supply, particularly to the poor. These epidemics had two manifestations, those with nervous convulsions delerium and hallucinations and those with gangrene, sometimes causing the loss of extremities. Abortions of women were general during these attacks. It has also been suggested that the advent of the witch-hunts and heresy trials could have a basis in mass psychosis and possession associated with this poisoning. The name given to the burning sensation in the extremities is called St. Anthony's fire, after the religious hermit who died in AD 356 leaving a heritage of bizarre hallucinations of torment by sexual licentiousness and savage animals - the renowned Temptations of St. Anthony. His bones were brought back by the crusaders to Dauphine and it was here by ironic 'coincidence' that the earliest plague of 'holy fire' occurred in 1039, leading to the establishment of the Order of St. Anthony, who became in effect the patron saint of the 'holy fire'. The real cause of the infection was not to be discovered for another 500 years until 1676, thus covering much of the demented period of the Inquisition and witch burnings. By sifting the grains from the spurs it was possible to separate the contaninated ears (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 104)..
European midwives had long known that ergot was helpful in cases of difficult childbirth, a purpose for with the ergot alkaloids such as ergotamine are still used in modern medicine.
T. iboga (CK) Initiates at an eboka ceremony visit the ancestors, T. iboga (Schultes and Hofmann 1979)
Like ayahuasca, Eboka has a Dionysian origin in sacrifice of the male 'Son of God':
Zame the last of the
creator gods gave us Eboka
One day he saw the pygmy Bitamu
high in the Atanga tree gathering fruit
He made him fall.
He died and Zame brought his spirit
He took the fingers and the little toes
and planted them in various parts of the forest
They grew into the Eboka bush (Furst 245)..
Eboka is extracted from the roots of Tabernanthe iboga in he Congo and Gabon. It is used both as a stimulant and in much higher quantities in a rite of visitation of the ancestors, once or twice during initiation into the Bwiti cult - 'break open the head' and thus make contact with the ancestors through the resulting visions. No one can enter the cult until he has seen Bwiti and to do that they ust eat Iboga. Sorcerors and leaders of the cult also take Eboka to seek information from the spirit world or to ask advice from the ancestors (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 114-5).
Sources: T iboga root-bark
and seed: "African Ethnobotanicals"
email: email@example.com air mail: PO Box 55033, Northlands 2116 South Africa.
The plant is a 'generic ancestor' who can so highly value or despise an individual that it can carry them away to the realm of the dead. Indeed the rite is so demanding that occasional deaths are reported. When the paticipants are lost in deep comatose trance they are carried to a special forest hideout where the sould is believed to wander from the body to the ancestors in the land of the dead. The 'angels' or initiates say: I wanted to now God - to know things of the dead and the land beyond. I walked or flew over a long multi-coloured road or over many rivers which led me to my ancestors, who then took me to the great Gods". Negative visions of stinking skeletons may precede seeing Bwiti which has a very characteristic expectation in the way it is seen in the cult.
In smaller doses it is a stimulant which increases strength and endurance and may have an aphrodisiac or sensual affect as it is similar to Yohimbine in structure, although another aphrodisiac plant may also be added (Dobkin de Rios 170). It is sometimes consumed with cannabis, a cultural introduction and euphorbaceous latex applied to the eye to induce visual effects.
The Bwiti cult has been growing in numbers and social strength in the last half-century. It represents a strong native element in a changing society in which disintegration of collective values is occurring. It thus promotes traditional values over the incursions of Catholicism, Protestantism and Islam. Bwiti is see as a living religion, true to life, while Christianty is acquired and leaned but not felt or experienced through ecstatic revelation .. which promotes a state of one-heartdness (Dobkin de Rios 168) However, Mary is often identified with the cult's first woman.
The Bwiti cult numbers men among its principal members, although Mbiri, a sister cult admits women (Dobkin de Rios 165). Bwiti grew prodigiously from 1920 to 1930 spreading across the Cameroons and the Amban region. Those villages where Bwiti is established have a temple that occupies a position of privilege in the village. In past times the founding of a 'temple of the universe' was accompanied by human sacrifice but nowdays the human victim has been replaced by a chicken (Dobkin de Rios 165).
Recently ibogaine has become an item of interest as a one-dose cure for addiction marketed under the name 'endabuse' a pun on the antabuse which causes alcoholics to become punitively nauseous on taking alcohol. There is some suggestion that large doses of ibogaine could cause damage to the cerebellum.
People of Mbiri, what
are you chanting?
Your drumming pierces me;
I'm throbbing to your beat, not my own.
My sight is transfixed, my body jerking..
Are you ghosts? You seem so alive,
here in this small opalescent universe.
You flash by so solemnly, so knowingly.
You watch me with
Resignation in your sad eyes,
and hold up to my enraptured gaze
Jewels, spears, bones and shields.
Perhaps it is me who is flashing by.
Native mother, in
your gleaming canoe
With iridescent symbols, and your glowing,
breathing hair so comforting and long,
Where are you paddling me?
Your Brave, so solid,
laughing because he is with you,
Is deeply reading your thoughts and mine,
while you, reading the river with every stroke,
laugh gently at me, for I desire to splash the water,
but am fearful of making a sound.
Are we all together,
precious mother, or
Am I lying here, suppressed, repressed,
and rigid, while you go flashing by?
Where are our bodies?
Is the pain that we feel
The same as the pain we inflict?
Does the stern god push us, so we have to fly?
If we then fall, break open upon impact,
How many images go
glistening and bright, along the horizon,
Just as you dance, people of Bwiti and Mbiri, along the shore?
I paddle by you; you are watching me, people of Bwiti.
Your native mother, so much like mine, increases the flow of the rivers,
As she swells the tides.
Is that what makes
you drum so loudly?
Do you respond to her with throbbing?
I have heard her singing--like your drums,
her voice throbs and pierces.
It is too beautiful; you cannot hold your body
in one piece any longer and it becomes
a flock of gulls, who rise with the sun, and flash by.
What's left of you, what can't ascend with them,
sees trails in the sky.
Such yearning. Such sparkling.
If you go to the
center, if you try to find the palace in the river,
Red and bright , solid and cubic, you will meet her -
She is there with the god; she is teaching him the tricks of ascendance.
These tricks are
simple, but not easy.
She will put things inside you,
for you will open to her like a sluice gate in the river.
You will open your mouth for the wafer of communion,
And she will give you the whole god.
He needs you too, for
he is always going deeper;
for him descent is ascent.
His path is spiral like a rain forest plant
or the mind of this woman or a galaxy of stars.
He seeks out those who wish to entwine.
from inside, the god will push you off the ramparts,
But flight is not what you imagined it to be.
You will split open,
and will become dancing particles of love, like fire flies
When they ascend from being glowworms.
consciousness is sweet and pulsing,
but you paddle so softly
And the canoe is so warm; it is hard to leave.
This god you put in
me teaches me to burst;
now, please, you teach me to gather.
And then my love can glow like your canoe,
With its iridescent symbols and its swift,
smooth flow on the water,
As I paddle past the people of Mbiri, and their drums
Declare my presence, and that of
your transcendent love that flows through us
And binds us to each other,
As paradoxically we both entwine and fly,
and as we gaze, and listen, and drum and chant together
the songs of jewels and spears, of bones and shields
and then flash by.
I have intentionally grouped these plants by molecular type, as their common effects are traced to key bioactive molecules, which because of their specific interaction with neurotransmitter receptor proteins cause their profound effects on consciousness. Thus one can consider that it is the quantum nature of the molecular arrangement that is the key issue. Many people are used to thinking of drugs primarily as chemicals and not at all in the same sense as food, despite the fact that the food plants themselves are a veritable mine of chemicals of equal significance as vitamins and anti-cancer or anti-oxidant activity, which promote future health and long life.
There are many new psychoactive drugs from ecstasy to angel dust, so why pick these plants with their often difficult side-effects of bitterness or nausea? The reason is as follows: It is by stepping back from their chemical nature and recognising them as a natural evolutionary heritage that we can learn to understand their potential role in human culture, just as we accept the role of the food plants as a necessary complement to the human species. We cannot and should not convert our own diet from a natural one to a purely chemical one, so we should try to think in the same way about the psychic plants. While the cactus alkaloids may well be defense mechanisms against consumption, the existence of psilocin in sacred mushrooms appears beneficial - to promote a cooperative interaction with animals to encourage their consumption and thus spread their spores.
The idea that illumination with drugs cannot be the true enlightenment is a deceitful story told by worshippers of the father Sky God. One could argue that setting one's feet back on the ground gives a more realistic vision of sustainable spirituality than the worldless ranting of the monotheist ascetic who drifts skyward issuing religious edicts to followers, who are expected to faithfully trust in an invisible other world, and sacrifice their personal gnosis of the real nature of existence. To the Earth Mother they have always been sacred allies.
We do not yet know whether ecstasy or other designer drugs are safe for long-term consumption, but ayahuasca, the mescaline-bearing cacti and sacred mushrooms have been tested for millennia as a traditional part of human religious life and there is a reasonable body of scientific evidence thay they are not physically harmful by comparison with recreational drugs such as alcohol.
Because evolution has provided these agents, it makes it possible for us to come to terms with the idea that they form some sort of natural widening of the scope of human consciousness, which brings us into closer harmony with other life-forms, thus helping to keep the biosphere whole, and which may be a resource for us in trying to comprehend the future avenues to be taken by evolution under our guidance and stewardship. It is in this wholesomeness and natural flow of life that they bring us far closer to the spiritual truth than any etheric vision of the Godhead arising from the bloody crucifixion of Jesus.
Coca leaf being dried Amazonia. Erythroxylum coca. Mama Coca - the White Goddess
(Schultes & Rauffauf, McKenna).
"To the ancient Inca culture of Peru, and later to the indigenous people and the mestizo colonistas Coca was a goddess, a kind of New World echo of Graves's white goddess Leucothea" (McKenna 211). The goddess Mama Coca is shown with feather headdress holding the moon sickle and offering the saving branch of coca to the Spanish conqueror. Some people might now say coca is a scourge, but like the poppy of the goddess it is the failure to recognise the spiritual significance of these agents and their relationship to the healing nature of the Earth Mother that leads to such grave error in our society.
Coca has always been a sacred plant of the Kechua speaking Indians of the Andes. There are also distinct cultivars of coca in the Amazon basin, which appear to be of ancient sacred use from the time required to develop such distinctive cultivars and the fact that manioc, yaje and coca are the three sacred plants in the canoe containing the first man and woman drawn by the anaconda itself. Perhaps the most ancient use of coca in South America is its employment in various shamanic practices and religious rituals ... enabling the shaman to enter more easily into a trance state in which he can communicate with the spiritual forces of nature and summon them to his aid" (S&R 112) It was the Catholic church which first condemmed its use, largely an account of its integral role in traditional spiritual life (Rudgley 112).
The use of coca leaves in the highlands of Peru and Bolivia remains legal as it is a central cultural practice upon which many depend to be able to carry out their activities. Bundles of coca leaves can be freely found in the markets along with the slaked lime which is required to free base the alkaloid to absorb coca in chewed form. In this form it is not addictive in the manner of street cocaine and pasta, but is more of a vitalizing tonic, which is highly regarded. Some of the healthiest and hardest-working Indians of the Columbian Amazonia the Yukunas consume enormous amounts coca leaves daily, but this is not a problem as they have time to raise their crops, hunt, fish and supply their food (Schultes and Raffauf 99). A catch word is "Hoja de coca no es drogare". The Cogi Indians of Columbia who isolated themselves in the highlands at the time of the Spanish conquest and only entered into communication with civilization to issue a warning about the destruction of the earth when they discovered global warming destroying the ecology of the upper Andes revere coca and chew it as their central divine sacrament. They use lime balls associated with coca as a life meditation taking an entire lifetime to gather their mana.
In Bolivia and Peru coca is grown legally as a traditional crop quite separately from the illegal plantations which spring up in the forest to supply the drug trade and cause destruction of the tropical forest as a result of running drug wars.. Coca is legally available both as leaves and as coca tea, which is commonly available as a cure for altitude sickness and in supermarkets as a mild stimulating drink in the form of commercial tea bags.
Chuckchee sketch of the winding paths of the fly-agaric men. Amanita muscaria.
Finno-Ugrian shaman-priestess in a ritual trance dance (Schultes and Hofmann 1979).
Further to the north and east the shamans of Siberia had been using the hallucinogenic fly-agaric mushroom (Amanita uscaria) since time immemorial. This practice continues in isolated pockets to this day.
"The role of intoxicants in the shamanic traditions of North Asia has been the subject of some disagreement. Mircea Eliade, ... has claimed that although mushroom intoxication produces contact with the spiritual world it does so in a 'passive and crude' way. He describes such practices as decadent, late and derivative in their attempts to imitate an earlier 'purer' form of shamanism. The spiritual journeys of these lesser shamans are achieved in a 'mechanical and corrupt' fashion. Here it is not Eliade's scholarly impartiality speaking, but rather his aversion to intoxication in relation to religious life ... and it is a matter of some concern that Eliade's book Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, probably the most widely consulted comparative study of the shamanic complex, includes such a basic misrepresentation of the facts. This fault is compounded in his discussion of the Americas (and beyond), where shamanic intoxication is also well attested but likewise receives only superficial attention from the author. "
"The first known account is found in a journal written in 1658 by a Polish prisoner of war, who describes its use among the Ostyak of Western Siberia. The myths of many Siberian peoples contain fly-agaric themes. In many Finno-Ugric languages words meaning 'ecstasy', 'intoxication' and 'drunkenness' are traceable to names meaning fungus or fly-agaric. Among the Vogul peoples the consumption of the fly-agaric was restricted to sacred occasions, and it was abused on peril of death. To the Ugrian shaman it was as essential to his vocation as the drum. Among the Selkup it was believed that consumption of the fly-agaric by those who were not shamans could be fatal. Only some shamans among them used it; others preferred alternative methods of achieving spiritual ecstasy" (Rudgley 39).
The effects of Amanita muscaria are diverse and vary according to dosage, method of preparation and the cultural and psychological expectations of the consumer. A small dose (or the initial effect of a larger one) causes bodily stimulation and a desire for movement and physical exercise. Under its influence a Koryak man is reported to have carried a 120 Ib (some 55 kg) sack of flour a distance of ten miles, something he would not have been able to do normally. Such feats of physical strength and endurance have their mythic precedents.
In one Koryak myth Big Raven (the Creator) asked Existence for help to lift a heavy load. This deity told him to eat fly-agaric. He did so and was able to lift the load with ease. That the Creator himself is associated with the consumption of mushrooms again demonstrates the weakness of Eliade's view of the use of hallucinogens as a late and decadent aspect of Siberian spirituality.
Responses to the fly-agaric varied widely even among the Koryak. Sometimes an intoxicated individual had to be restrained from over-exerting himself, whilst on other occasions it would induce a tranquil state of bliss in which beautiful visions appeared before the eyes. The Russian anthropologist Waldemar Bogoras, who witnessed the Chukchee use of fly-agaric on many occasions at the turn of the century, notes that the effects can be divided into three basic stages, which sometimes overlap. About fifteen minutes after taking the mushrooms the stimulating effects begin and there is much loud singing and laughing. This stage is followed by auditory and visual hallucinations in conjunction with the sensation that things increase in size (in this state a tub of water is said to seem as deep as the sea). It is still taken in Northern Canada:
ripe for vision
I arise, a bursting ball of seeds in space ...
I have sung the note that shatters structure.
And the note that shatters chaos, and been bloody ...
I have been with the dead and attempted the labyrinth"
(Schultes and Hofmann 1979 85).
Because the active ingredient is excreted unchanged in the urine the urine of other people has also been used tradionally : "the poorer sort ... post themsleves around the huts of the rich and watch the opportunity of the guests and hold a wooden bowl to receive thier urine and by this way also get drunk". This feature has also been suggested to be an ancient feature of the Soma rite, along with its ruddy complexion. Veda 9:74: "Acting in concert, those charged with the office richly gifted do full honour to Soma. The swollen men piss the flowing [soma]". Yasna 48:10 "When will thou do away with this piss of drunkenness with which the priests delude the people." In the Mahabharata Krishna offers a disciple the urine of an outcast hunter who also happens to be Indra. This has lead Gordon Wasson to postulate that Some as Amanita, although there are several other possibilities including Peganum, and there is some doubt about the Yasna translation.
The hideous episodes of witch burning in Europe can be attributed to many things. To the firebrand visions of sex and the devil of the christian patriarchs from the Pope to the fundamentalistic protestants, possibly agravated mass-poisoning by through ergot-contaminated rye with its hallucinations accompanying St. Anthony's fire. However, it is to the hexing herbs of the ancient mother that we may find the actual roots of the witchcraft practice so-reviled by the medieval Christian fathers.
Mandrake has a very long cultural history. The mandrakes figure in Genesis 30:16 "And Jacob came out of the field in the evening, and Leah went out to meet him, and said, Thou must come in unto me; for surely I have hired thee with my son's mandrakes. And he lay with her that night." According to the Juliana Codex, Dioscorides received the Mandrake from Heuresis, Goddess of Discovery, illustrating the early belief in its sacred nature. The likeness of the root to a man gave rise to all manner of bizarre myth concerning the plant and its death-dealing shriek when dug from the ground. Early Christians believed the Mandrake was a precursor for God's invention of Adan in the Garden.
Likewise Deadly Nightshade - The Apple of Sodom has been woven into early Greek myth as of the of three Fates - Atropos the inflexible one who cuts the thread of life from whom atropine is named. It is from its use to dilate the pupils of women's eyes to make them 'dolorous' that its name Belladonna or beautiful lady comes. It is said that in the orgies of the Maenads the wine of Dionysus was often adulterated with nightshade as they 'dilated their eyes' as they fell into the arms of the male worshippers or with 'flaming eyes' fell upon men to tear them apart. It was supposed to be tended by Satan himself except on Walpurgis night when he retires to wait for the sabbath.
All of Mandrake, Belladonna and Henbane contain atropine alkaloids, of which scopolamine is known as the hallucinogenic component. It is from the admixture of these three, along with the fat of a stillborn child that the ointments of medieval witches were prepared: "But the vulgar believe and the witches confess that on certain days and nights they anoint a staff and ride on it to the appointed place or anoint themselves under the arms and in other hairy places" (S&H 88). The witch riding on her broom is believed to be specifically associated with the application of such an ointment to the vaginal mucosae which forms an ideal method of cutaneous entry. The inclusion of toads legs would also be consistent with the bufotenene present in the skin of the genus Bufo.
The witch preparing herself with her broomstick. Datura meteloides.
A Shiva Datura flower on a Tantric yoni-lingum (S&H 1979).
It was believed that such witches would ride on their broomsticks to black sabbaths where they would cavort with male sexual manifestations of the devil himself in the form of an incubus. A truer picture would be sensation of flying produced by tropane intoxication and the use of the forest as a meeting place for worshippers of the ancient Earth Goddess, possibly in a fertility rite involving the use of the hexing herbs as power plants.
A fanciful account of the second century AD from Lucius Apuleius notes: "It contained an ointment which she worked about with her fingers and then smeared all over her body from the soles of her feet to the crown of her head ... as I watched her limbs became gradually fledged with feathers ... her nose grew crooked and horny, her nails turned into talons" (Rudgeley 90).
However, the use of this plant is associated with severe derangement and loss of memory. Porta, a colleague of Galileo reported a "man would sometimes seem to be changed into a fish, and flinging about his arms would swim on the ground, another would believe himself turned into a goose and eat grass, beat the ground with his teeth and flap his wings". "My teeth were clenched, and a dizzy rage took possession of me. I knew that I trembled with horror, but also that I was permeated with a sense of well-being. My feet were growing lighter, expanding loose and breaking from my body. Each part of my body seemed to be going off on its own. At the same time I experienced an intoxicating sense of flying. The frightening certainty that my end was near through the dissolution was balanced by an animal joy in flight ... the clouds the lowering sky, herds of beasts, falling leaves quite unlike ordinary leaves, billowing streamers of steam and rivers of molten metal."" (Rudgeley 95).
The Witches Sabbath - Gustave Dore Witches travelling to a sabbath - Ulrich Molitor 1489.
The earliest picture of a witch on a broomstick. Dioscorides receiving mandrake from Heuresis
(Schultes & Hofmann 1979).
Johannes Nieder of 1692 gives the following account of a woman who believed herself to be literally transported through the air during the night with Diana and the other women and invited a priest to witness the event goes as follows: "having placed a large bowl on top of a stool, she stepped into it and sat herself down. Then rubbing ointment on herself to the accompaniment of magic incantations, she lay her head back and fell asleep. With th labour of the devil she dreamed of Mistress Venus and other superstitions so vividly that crying out with a shout and striking her hands about, she jarrd the bowl in which she was sitting and falling down from the stool seriously injured herself about the head. As she lay there awakened the priest cried out "Where are you? You are not with Diana ... you never left this bowl!" (Harner 1973 131). Remy in the late 16 th century makes this matter clear: "Now if witches, after being aroused from an 'iron' sleep tell of things they have seen in places so far distant as compared with the short period of their sleep, the only conclusion is that there had been some substantial journey like that of the soul" (Harner a 132). A similar explanation applies to lycanthropy the belief that one can change into the form of an animal (Harner 1973 140).
Frequent references can be found in the middle ages to maids found unconscious and naked who had rubbed themselves with a green ointment 'in such a way that they imagine they are carried a long distance". The link with the inquisition is also clear. "Dominus Augustinus de Turre the most cultivated physician of his tie notes: when the Inquisition of Como was being carried out, in Lugano the wife of a notary of the Inquisition was accused of being a witch and sorceress. Her husband, who was troubled and thought her a holy woman, early on Good Friday when he missed her found her naked in a corner of the pigsty displaying her genitals, completely unconscious and smeared wit the excrement of the pigs. He went to draw his sword but hesitating she awoke and prostrated herself before him confessing that she had gone that night on the journey. When the accusers came to take her for burning she had vanished, possibly drowned in the lake nearby (Harner 1973 134).
It is also clear that knowledge of the details of such use of herbs was carefully gleaned by the Papal office. The physician of Pope Julius II in 1545 took the jar of ointment of an accused couple seized as witches, which was so heavy and offensive and soporiferos to the ultimate degree that it showed it was composed of hemlock, nightshade, henbane and mandrake, was anointed from head to toe on the wife of the hangman who was restless with suspicion of her husband. She became comatose and could be wakened by no one for 36 hours with her eyes open like a rabbit. Her first words were "Why do you wake me at such an inopportune time? I was surrounded by all the pleasures and delights ofthe world" and to her husband "Knavish one, know that I have made you a cuckold, and with a lover younger and better than you" (Harner 1973 135).
Datura is one of the most widespread genuses on the plant kingdom and various Daturas (Dhatura Sanscrit) from China throught India to Europe and the Americas have been used as sacred plants since time immemorial because they also possess scopolamine and other tropanes. A Taoist legend maintains that Datura metel is one of the circupolar stars and that envoys to earth from this star carry a flower of the plant in their hand. It is also an offering in Shiva-Shakti worship as illustrqated in the lingam-yoni above.. It has been used in addition with wine as an intoxicant and to drug people to stupor. Tropane intoxication can lead to permanent brain damage.
Various species of Datura were also revered as sacred plants by te Aztecs, and used in manhood rites to cause boys coming of age to 'lose their memories of childhood' in becoming a man. It is the most sacred plant of the Zunis who say it sprouted from the place where the primordial humans with magical vision disappeared into the earth when chased by sky gods jealous of their prophetic powers (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 106).
The use of Brugmansia - Huaca - Plant of the Tomb- a set of tree species of the Datura family from South America probably evolved from the knowledge of Datura brought to the new world in the late Paleolithic by the proto-Indian Mongoloids (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 128). Von Humbolt the early explorer remarked on the use of Tonga (Brugmansia sanguinea) as a sacred plant of the priests of the Temple of the Sun at Sogamoza in Columbia. The women and slaves of a dead Muisca chief were also given the brew so they would not recognise their impending burial with their chief.
Salvador Chindoy a shaman of the Kamsa displays great composure before embarking
on a Brugmansia-induced divination. Brugmansia sanguinea. The Tree of the Evil Eagle
(Schultes & Hofmann 1979).
How pleasant is the
perfume of the bell-like flowers of the Yas
as one inhales it in the afternoon
But the tree has a spirit in the form of an eagle
which has been seen to come flying and then disappear
The spirit is so evil
that if a weak person stops at its foot they will forget everything.
If a girl rests under its shade, she will dream about men of the Paez tribe
and a figure will be left in her womb, which will later become the pips of the tree.
(Schultes and Hofmann 1979 128).
Brugmansia is often still used as an admixture with ayahuasca or San Pedro but the uncomfortable syndromes and unpleasant after-effects have probably contributed to its limitation, except in the most difficult cases of divination: "The native fell into a heavy stupor, his eyes vacantly fixed on the ground, his mouth convulsively closed, and his nostrils dilated. Over fifteen minutes his eyes began to roll, foam issued from his mouth and his whole body was agitated by frightful convulsions. After these frightful symptoms had passed, a profound sleep of several hours followed after which he related the particulars of his visit with his forefathers" (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 129).
They are plants of the gods, but but not the agreeable gifts ofthe gods like peyote, the sacred mushroom and Ayahuasca. Their powerful and wholly unpleasant effects, periods of violence and temporary insanity, and their sickening after-effects have put them in a second category - reminding us that the gods do not always strive to make life easy for man (Schultes and Hofmann 1979 131).
Baden drinking set 3000-2000 BC. Ritual use of Tobacco in the Amazon (Rudgley, Schultes & Raffauf).
"The origin of alcohol use is to be traced to the fourth millennium and Mesopotamia. The earliest alcoholic beverages were probably drawn from the fruit and sap of the date palm, which is one of the most concentrated sources of naturally occurring sugar. Cultivated vines (Vitis vinifera) also contain sufficient sugar, as well as natural yeasts. Beer (probably barley beer) is referred to in early Sumerian and Akkadian texts, and from the Protoliterate period of Mesopotamia (c. 3200 BC)we find illustrations of drinking straws, needed to consume beer in which the cereal grains had not been de-husked. Egyptian figurines dating from the Predynastic period show the use of brewing vats" (Rudgley 31).
The Early Bronze Age cultures of the Aegean and Anatolia in the early period from 3500 to 2000 BC provide the immediate origins of the diffusion of alcohol throughout Europe. These communities consumed their wine from metal drinking vessels, and their more northerly neighbours of the Baden culture in central Europe have been shown to have echoed the design of these vessels in their own pottery. They probably drank mead, rather than grape-wine.
Not long after this, another distinctive complex of vessels for holding liquids, known as Globular Amphoras, appeared over an area of Europe from Hamburg to Kiev. This new ceramic style was influenced both by Baden pottery and by the cord decoration of the steppe cultures. It is possible, on this line of argument, that their brews may have combined alcohol and Cannabis sativa in a potent infusion! ... These beakers were decorated with rows of cord impressions; their great cultural importance is attested by the fact that they recur again and again in the burials of the period alongside two other types of distinctive male artefacts - the flint dagger and the shaft-hole stone battle-axe. (Rudgley 31).
The spread of the drinking complex ... took place during a period of unusually rapid social, cultural and economic change. During this time, Europe was opened up - both literally, in terms of the further deforestation of its landscapes, and metaphorically, in terms of its new contacts and social opportunities. Fundamental to this process was the increasing importance of livestock, and the emergence of male warrior elites whose sub-culture was portrayed in the characteristic combination of weaponry and drinking vessels in their graves" (Rudgley 33).
"Organic residues from later pre-historic vessels show that cereal grains, honey and fruits were all mixed together to make a composite drink which was at once a mead, an ale and a fruit wine. The use of this new liquid intoxicant may initially have been combined with opium or hemp, but it was soon to establish itself as the primary intoxicant of Western culture, a position it still maintains"(Rudgley 33).
Although from a Western point of view tobacco has its origin in America, species of the Nicotiana genus have been used as stimulants by indigenous populations in other parts of the world in particular among the Australian aborigines (Rudgley 135). Although tobacco smoking in western cultures is a recreational drug of perhaps the most significant health impact and the greatest addictive power of all drugs, its traditional use has been as a visionary drug, often consumed as a more potent cultivar as a snuff and only on ritual occasions. Although it is not classified as a true hallucinogen, Indians from Canada to Patagonia esteemed tobacco as one of their most important medicianal and magical plants. The process of becoming intoxicated by the smoke combined with the rhythm of song and dance is called 'calling the spirit'. Among the Warao of Venezuela this role becomes paramount. Tobacco also plays a prominent part in the ritual of Peyote use both among the Huichols and Native American Church. "Tobacco belongs to Our Grandfather the Fire shaman who led the first peyote hunt" (Furst 80). However my own personal experience with the lost voices and desperate coughing of the participants leads me to feel a genuine concern at the intrusion of such an extensively unhealthy practice of little hallucinogenic value into a visionary ceremony of spiritual healing.
Salvia divinorum is a coleus-like salvia which grows in deep ravines kept by the Mazatecs as an alternative to sacred mushrooms in times these are unavailable for divining.
It has a very unusual psychedelic effect full of rippling waves rather than geometric kaliedoscopes. It is not active through the stomach but quite potent through the gums and linings of the mouth or by smoking.
It contains a terpenoid, salvinorin, of unique action and very high potency, requiring only 500 micrograms of the pure substance. Any more is extremely dislocating.
Our diet is omnivorous and consists of a wide variety of plants, fungi and many branches of the animal kingdom as well as yeasts and bacteria of various sorts. The basis of our health and longlevity is closely related to the biochemical diversity of the foods we eat.
From our gatherer-hunter origins, we have inherited a degree of dependence on the molecular diversity of other species around us and have reaped particular benefits from the phytochemicals associated with the wide variety of plants and berries derived from a diverse gatherer diet.
In fact the diversity of our foodstuffs has in many ways declined, as is shown in falling diversity both of the genetic diversity of foodstuffs and the number of different fruits, plants and berries commonly consumed. For example traditional fruit have shrunk from the hundreds to little more than ten. The worl'd cereal production depends on just three species. Furthermore it has become possible in the modern world of consumer outlets for diets to develop a degree of uniformity, which can result in deficiences of many beneficial biodynamic substances in food.
Protection against premature ageing, mutagenicity and cancer is dependent to a significant extent on prudent diversity of food intake and particularly on adequate intake and diversity of fruit and vegetables, because of the many phytochemicals and vitamins they contain. Overall the effects of smoking on lung cancer, the course of HIV and the deleterious effects of alcohol all appear to be significantly reduced given adequate dietary care.
The traditional major components of the diet are regarded as being carbohydrates, fats and proteins, along with certain vitamins or cofactors, however there is a growing recognition that there are both a wide spectrum of other beneficial biodynamic molecules which are protective to welfare and long life and that there are also hidden in our food natural toxins which are a potential threat to health and which we should learn to be wary of.
Our principal energy source is carbohydrates, so named because their chemical formula (CH2O)n is equivalent to hydrated carbon. Sucrose is a dimer consisting of glucose and fructose joined. Although each ofthese monomers is safe to eat and indeed our metabolic energy is driven by glucose the dimer sucrose places a stress on our pancreatic enzymes. On the right amylopectin illustrates how starches are complex chains or trees of linked glucose molecules. Such large polysaccharides are less strain to digest and even help to protect against the effects of mild diabetes in the case of oats.
The fats are generally a variety of esters or organic salts of fatty acids. The long-chain fatty acid oleic acid with one kinked double bond (half-way down) illustrates the hydrocarbon nature of fats, which give them 5 to 7 times as much energy per weight as carbohydrates. Such non-polar molecules are frequently also part of the cell membrane as part of the lipid molecules which are fatty at one end and ionic at the other. The non-polar steroid cholesterol (below), an excess of which is associated with blockings of the coronary and other arteries in heart disease is also a membrane component.
Non-polar amino acids have a variety of structural hydrocarbon and aromatic side chains.
The proteins are exceedingly diverse molecules which constitute all the enzymes and receptors and much of the structural molecules in the body. They are composed of 20 different amino acids which can be linked to form a vast variety of chemically active substances. Our diet requires a full complement of amino acids to rebuild all the enzumes for our bodies to function. Some amino acids permit unique reaction types and a deficiency of these can lead to serious illness. Methionine and lysine are sometimes deficient in plant proteins.
Two acidic and three basic amino acids. Arginine and the basic amino acids frequently have a specific role in DNA-binding proteins because the complement the acidity of nucleic acids.
Histidine's chemical group catalyses some very specific types of catalytic reaction.
Polar neutral amino acids have a variety of specific chemical types. Two are the amides of the acids, two are alcoholic, one has SH bonds (as does non-polar methionine). Tyrosine provides a carbolic OH and tryptophan an indole group.
The principal vitamins are biodynamic molecules which generally have a catalytic or electrochemical role which cannot be performed by existing proteins by themselves. A variety of minerals including Zn, Mn, Mg, Co, Se, I, Fe also function in this way. Because some of these substances are ubiquitous particularly in the diverse human food intake, we have become unable to synthesize these products ourselves (except for the case of vitamin D and sunlight which is it's principal source from cholesterol and other steroids. Humans can no longer make vitramin C unlike rats who can synthesize their own. Several vitamins catalyse very specific essential metabolic or electrochemical reactions which become inhibited unless we ingest aminimum daily requirement of these substances.
Vitamins and their coenzyme forms
Type Coenzyme or active form Function promoted
Thiamin Thiamin pyrophosphate (TPP) Aldehyde-group transfer
Riboflavin Flavin mononucleotide (FMN) Hydrogen-atom (electron) transfer
Flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) Hydrogen-atom (electron) transfer
Nicotinic acid Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD) Hydrogen-atom (electron) transfer
Nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide phosphate (NADP) Hydrogen-atom (electron) transfer
Pantothenic acid Coenzyme A (CoA) Acyl-group transfer
Pyridoxine Pyridoxal phosphate Amino-group transfer
Biotin Biocytin Carboxyl transfer
Folic acid Tetrahydrofolic acid One-carbon-group transfer
Vitamin B12 Coenzyme B12 1,2 shift of hydrogen atoms
Lipoic acid Lipoyllysine Hydrogen-atom and acyl-group transfer
Ascorbic acid Cofactor in hydroxylation
Vitamin A 11-cis-Retinal Visual cycle
Vitamin D 1,25-Dihydroxycholecalciferol Calcium and phosphate metabolism
Vitamin E Antioxidant
Vitamin K Prothrombin biosynthesis
Thiamine is involved in aldehyde group transfer. The highlighted hydroxethyl group detaches to form acetaldehyde CH3CHO.
Riboflavin is capable of picking up two hydrogen atoms at the two bare nitrogen atoms in the central and right-hand heterocycles, thus being involved in reversible redox reactions in electron transport and in flavoenzymes. They are thus essential in resperation and the oxidation of fatty acids, pyruvate and amino acids. Sometimes they have additional metal ion factors.
The very ancient nature of these substances is indicated by their frequent pairing with nucleotides that make up the units of RNA. These nucleotide cofactors as illustrated by NAD nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (left) and Vitamin B12 (right), which has two adenines linked over a cobalt containing corrin ring, similar to the prophyring rings of heme and chlorophyll. It is believed these may be ancient molecular fossils from the RNA era before the development of the genetic code which defines protein sequneces and thus may constitute relics of the original RNA-based metabolism.
Pantothenic acid is
used as the coupling molecule to form coenzyme A another nucleotide
coenzyme which is likewise essential in the citric acid cycle to carry acetyl
(generally acyl) groups.
This indicates the citric acid cycle may too date from before genetic translation.
Pyroxidine enzymes are extremely versatile, functioning in a large number of different enzymatic reactions in which amoni acids or amino groups are transformed or transferred. Biotin is similarly capable of transferring a carboxyl group by picking it up at the lower NH group. Egg white binds biotin so tightly that it can cause a deficiency of biotin. Lipoic acid has reversible sulf-hydryl groups which are coenzymes in oxidation-reduction reactions.
Tetrahydrofolic acid, the active form of folic acid is able to pick up and transfer methyl and formyl groups at its N5 and N10 and to form cyclic products to both in one-carbon transfers in the metabolism of amino acids, and nucleotide bases. Folic acid is particularly necessary in pregnancy.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a strong reducing agent which is active in making hydroxyl transfers in its oxidized form. It is present at high concentration (1 mg/100 ml blood plasma) in all animal tissues. It functions are not completely elucidated. It does hydroxylate proline but other metabolites can substitute. It is the first of the vitamins which are known to have an anti-mutagenic activity in association with protecting against attack by hydroxyl radicals arising from aqueous oxidations.
Vitamin D in its various forms is generated from 7 dehydro-cholesterol by the action of sunlight on skin. This is our major source of the vitamin so we require adequate sunlight exposure without suffering unlta-violet damage. It is also present in fish liver, but is rare in the rest of the diet. It is essential for bone metabolism and calcium uptake. Vitamin essentially functions as a hormone secreted in precursor form by the kidney in respose to signals concerning calcium levels. It becomes inactive requiring dietary supplement when too little sunlight falls on human skin.
Vitamin E has been slow to be recognised as a vitamin because its deficiency syndrom remains obscure. It lack causes infertility in rats. Like vitamin C it is a significant anti-oxidant and works synergetically with vitamin C in the non-polar environment of the membrane, where it inhibits oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids. It is notably present in the germs of grain. Vitamin E has recently been found in dises of around 70 mg/day to reduce cancer of the prostate by up to 40% (Feb 98)
Vitamin A and lycopene are likewise non-polar molecules which are known to have an anti-oxidant protective value. Lycopene from tomatoes is known to protect against prostate cancer through its strong anit-oxidant action. Vitamin A has a simlar role in the repair of the epithelial lining of lung tissues. People consuming half a cup of carrots a day were found to have only a seventh the rate of lung cancer of those who didn't, although this may involve other synergetic dietary correlations. More recently vitamin A on its own has been shown to slightly increase incidence of cancer, (New Scientist 27 th January 1996 p4) so it appears any protective action of vitamin A happens only in association with other substances possibly including bioflavonoids.
In addition to the three anti-oxidant viatmins mentioned above, there are a variety of other small active biodynamic molecules present in particular foods which have a variety of anti-oxidant and hence anti-aging, or anti-cancer properties.
One partucularly important group of such molecules are the bioflavonoids, a diverse group of monomers dimers and polymers of a polyphenolic nature. It is estimated that in the normal diet, bioflavonoids form the principal anti-oxidants. It is estimated that the mutagenic effacts of oxygen are up to 2000 mutations per cell per day. The body has a variety of peroxidase and other enzymes to counteract the effects of peroxide and other free radical products of oxidation as well as repair enzymes, but depends on additional anti-oxidant substances to reduce this mutational load, which is itself a significant part of the aging process.
Catechins occur in tea, quercetin in red wine red onions and also tea. These are both anti-oxidant and anti-cancer, although quercetin is believed to also be mutagenic to some degree. Green tea is believed to reduce lung cancer rates by 40%. Hop bioflavinoids are also prominent in beer and repress cancer growth. Reports of cancer rates 20 times lower have come from areas e.g. in China where red onions are frequently eaten. Such polyphenolic substances are also known to be good for heart disease and to reduce blood thickening and protect against heart disease. Proanthocyanidin dimers are assocated with a variety of berry fruits and nuts, as are the related natural anthocyanin pigments. They occur prominently in pine bark and grape pips. The dimers are an order of magnitude more effective as anti-oxidants and may be pivotal in protecting against the mutagenic effects of free ferric ions.
Resveratrol a closely-related molecule present in grape juice and red wine also merits investigation as a potential cancer chemo-preventive agent. It has been found in at least 72 species including mulberries, peanuts and grapes. It is thought to be one of a class called phytoalexins, produced by plants when they are stressed by fungal attack.
Allicin (diallylthiosulfinate) of garlic is an example of the sulphur-containing small molecules in garlic and onion. It is known to reduce cholesterol. These substances are also known to be antibacterial.
Glucosinolates are present notably in brassicas, where they dispaly a variety of anti-cancer properties. The sinigrin of brussels sprouts is converted to allyl isothiocyanate from the glucosinolate in the above reaction. This causes small polyps in the large intestine to self-destruct and the effect occurs even with intermittent consumption. A similar glucosinolate in broccoli, glucoraphin, which breaks down into an isothiocyanate called sulphoraphane which by contrast stops or slows the genetic damage before it happens. (New Scientist 21/28 Dec 1996 46). Brassicas also contain anti-carcinogenic indoles.
Conjugated linoleic acid present in full fat milk may also protect against melanomia, leukemia as well as cancers of the breast, colon, ovaries and prostate. CLA is found in dairy products including milk, yoghurt cheese and meat from ruminants. The avergae US diet contains about 1g of CLA a day. 3.5g a day are needed to benefit. Adding corn oil to cows diet can increase CLA from 2 mg/g to 4.5 mg/g (New Scientist 16 Nov 96 p8).
Soya beans contain two substances of significance, phytosterols, which reduce cholesterol absorbtion and may help to prevent colon cancer, and isoflavones such as genistein, which may offset the effects of estrogen in breast and ovarian cancer. And has been found to prevent vascularization of a number of cancers.
Limonene in citrus fruits also helps produce enzymes that flush out cancer-causing substances. A component of the pectin in citrus fruits also has anti-cancer properties agains prostate cells inhibiting their binding to blood vessels.
Gamma-linoleic acid is a prostaglandin precursor which is believed ot facilitate the prostaglandin metabolism in pre-menstrual tension.
Many natural food substances contain a variety of toxins which can be poisonous or can induce long-term harm. The cyanides in cassava and the solanine of potatoes and the neuro and hepatotoxins of the sago palm are well know examples. Those presented here are ones which may cause mutagenic effects in less-detected ways.
There are a variety of natural carcinogens in particular foodstuffs in addition to any foreign substances such as insecticides. These foods should be treated with caution consequently:
Canavanine in alfalfa sprouts and broad beans is a non-coded amino acid which substitutes for arginine (see above) to form a less basic amino acid which can become incorrectly incorporated into DNA-binding proteins in the place of arginine, causing them to bind incorrectly, resulting in impaired gene activation and promotion. This can cause a variety of deleterious secondary effects including lupus erythematosis syndrome - an autoimmune condition against nucleic acids - and possibly cancer.
Left: Mandala of the peaceful and wrathful dieties, Tibet.
Right: The horrific deity Samvara copulating with his female consort wisdom.
Buddhism has intermingled with Bon shamanism - shamanic Buddhism.
The first illustrates meditative techniques of visualizaton using a fractal mandala.
The second illustrates the spiritual hieros gamos exploding with kundalini insight.
Rawson plates 63, 68
NEW DELHI A 350-year-old ghost is haunting the Dalai Lama, the exiled leader of Tibet a land where spirits and reincarnations are held to be as real as the controversy over Chinese rule. The ghost is the spirit of powerful 17th-century nionk Dorje Shugden, who was murdered in his palace in Tibet, and is regarded by his followers as a deity. The Dalai Lama has rejected the monk as a deity and called him an evil spirit, provoking a challenge to his own authority among Tibetan Buddhists. The police believe this religious dispute was behind the slayings of three Dalai Lama disciples in February near the Tibetan leader's seat in exile in Dharmsala in India, where the Dalai Lama fled in 1959 with 120,000 followers. Two men suspected of stabbing their victims are believed to have fled India. Five others, all linked to the Dorje Shugden Society in New Delhi, were questioned for months about a possible conspiracy. The Dorje Shugden Society denies involvement in the murders and accuses the Dalai Lama's administration of implicating the group to crush religious dissent. No one has been charged. "If we were in Tibet, we would all in prison, tortured or dead by now," said Cheme Tsering, a monk whom police have named as a suspect. Mr Tsering said Dorje Shugden devotees might seek Indian citizenship, which could be seen as a walkout from the Dalai Lama camp. Two decades ago, the Dalai Lama began recorfsidering his own faith in Dorje Shugden, and decided that the spirit was working against him. Last year, he asked his followers to renounce Dorje Shugden. Everyone working for his administration was told to forswear Doije Shugden or resign. Most exiles, who revere the Dalai Lama as a god himself, complied. But diehard Dorje Shugden followers resisted. Jantpal Chosang, secretary of the Dalai Lama's office in New Delhi, says. the charges - of intolerance against the Nobel Peace Prize laureate are unjustified. An individual can still worship Dorje Shugden, but the Dalai Lama does not want Dorje Shugden devotees counted among his loyalists. Dorje Shugden disciples, however, - say the Dalai Lama's real intention is to create a political diversion. "His Holiness is using this to redirect the anger of the Tibetan people about independence from China. He is using an issue of faith to hide his own political failings , said Mr Tsering. AP
IN THE PRESENCE OF MY ENEMIES: MEMOIRS OF TIBETAN NOBLEMAN TSIPON SHUGUBA
Sumner Carnahan with Lama Kunga Rinpoche Clear Light Publishers: Santa Fe, 1996. 237 pp., $24.95 (cloth). DIANA ROWAN
Tsipon Shuguba was the finance minister of Tibet in the Dalai Lama's government prior to Chinese rule. Captured during the Chinese takeover in 1959, he endured nineteen years of imprisonment, andperhaps even more painful knowledge of the catastrophic occupation and destruction of his country: relentless execution, massacres, the bombing and dynamiting of over 6,000 monasteries into rubble. Once part of a wealthy and noble family, Tsipon Shuguba suffered the dissolution of his clan, the deaths of his "ife and daughter, and the virtual extinction of his culture as he knew it. Finally "rehabilitated" and rcleased in 1978, he emerged from prison into a Tibet now flooded With Han Chinese settlers and thick with PRC military enforcements, into a Lhasa teeming with Chinese bicycle shops and noodle stands, where no Tibetan has much of a chance of education, job opportunity, or personal safety. A prisoner and a minority in his own land, Shuguba was finally able to immigrate to the United States, where he spent his last years at the home of one of his sons, Lama Kunga Rinpoche, founder of a Tibetan Buddhist meditation center near San Francisco.
He is blunt and factual in outlining the bitter and often lethal political infighting among various Tibetan factions in the rocky period leading tip to the Chinese invasion. In 1947, when fighting broke out between the forces of two powerful Tibetan Ieaders, Reting Rinpoche (the 13th Dalai Lama's regent) and the current Regent Taktra, Shuguba was in charge of a large force sent to bring Reting, by force if necessary, from his monastery to house arrest in Lhasa. Shuguba grimly chronicles being shot at by monks of Sera monastery, supporters of the Reting faction, and details the attack on Reting's monastery stronghold: "We killed 80 monks." In the end, after further bloodshed on both sides, Reting was captured. He died shortly thereafter in Lhasa - poisoned, many suspected. "Lhasa, dispirited, mourned," says Shuguba of a capital and of a country shaken internally by "civil war," even as it was increasingly menaced from without by foreign military might. All this may offer an unpleasant new perspective for Westerners. There are other revelations of intermonastic infighting and inhumane practices by the Tibetan government, such as punishing a high government official by pressing out his eyeballs. And yet Shuguba also chronicles the tremendous heart and courage of a people, and of a nation slipping inexorably into the deathgrip of their ancient enemy, the Chinese. In his honest history, faithful to the Dalai Lama's wishes, Shuguba has given us something infinitely more precious than an idealized view of Tibet: the truth as he knew it, and an invaluable glimpse of history in all its painful complexity. The last entry in his autobiography, written shortly before his death, suggests something of his resignation, exquisite clarity, and strength of mind:
My hands look as if they belong to someone else, bent and elongated .... I am certainly old enough to die.... It is night. I am alone with the silence. I begin my prayers.
He died in 1991 at the age of 87. Before he died, Shuguba was reunited with Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, three long decades after the fall of Tibet, at which point he was the only one left of the former high government officials. His own simple account is deeply moving "The Dalai Lama made me pull my chair close. We sat facing each other knee to knee . . .His Holiness had many questions.... He told me to write my story, to say the truth about everything, not to try to protect anyone. 'Do not exaggerate,' he said, 'just speak the truth."' Shuguba complied, in a powerful personal account that has all the more impact for its spare frankness and ack of acrimony. He is completely blunt about is own youthful excesses and lack of judgment. Made a provincial govemor when he was barely twenty, he was given too much power too soon. His lack of experience led him to mismanage a local dispute over land boundaries, after which he was relieved of his position. His glimpses of a vanished culture's traditions are often entrancing - at his marriage, his mother performed part of a traditional ceremony, placing in his young bride's hand a wooden bucket full of milk and jewels, mingled with gold and silver orniments. Meant to ensure both continued material wealth and the future wealth of healthy children, this act inaugurated the wedding festivities, and a month long celebration of the union at one of the family's many country estates.
Many of the techniques of nature shamanism are paralleled in the advanced Tantric meditation methods of Tibetan Buddhism, particularly those of the more ancient and less monastic Ningmapa school which still follows more closely the pre-Buddhist Bonpo animistic and shamanistic practices. This complex underlay of ritual shamanic features distinguishes Tibetan Buddhism from Zen and the Mahayana schools of South East Asia. Although many Tibetan buddhist practices revolve around elaborate ritual, ritual in itself was decried by Buddha as one of the principal impediments to enlightenment. Indeed all such rules are acknowledged as constructive only in so far as they lead to enlightenment - the experience of the cosmic mind as void.
Just as the distinctive flavour of Tibetan Buddhism owes as much to Bön as it does to Naropa Marpa and Milarepa its founding Buddhist sages, so Buddhism as a whole owes an incalculable debt to the tradition of Indian mysticism. Buddha neither invented karmic law nor the unfathomable nature of the Buddha mind. Although Buddhists hasten to distinguish Buddhism from the Vedantic notion of Self insisting Self is an illusion, this is a semantic trick. For self-read Buddha mind and the Upanishads are the Dharma.
Nevertheless as you cross the stix it may be wise to take the advice of Buddha (who is said to have died after eating mushrooms) about this paradox (Oprey 1984 146). There is no self. There is no mind, which is the mirror bright. It is in the void that we find the still point of the turning world, so that in death, the dew drop slips into the shining sea - the hieros-gamos of the bardo:
ignorance I wander in samsara,
on the luminous light-path of the dharmadhatu wisdom,
may Blessed Vairocana go before me,
his consort the Queen of Vajra Space behind me;
help me to cross the bardo's dangerous pathway
and bring me to the perfect Buddha state. ...
May I know all the
sounds as my own sound,
may I know all the lights as my own light,
may I know all the rays as my own ray,
My I spontaneously know the bardo as myself. ...
When I see my future
parents in union,
may I see the peaceful and wrathful buddhas with their consorts;
with power to choose my birthplace, for the good of others,
may I receive a perfect body adorned with auspicious signs.
Tibetan Book of the Dead
Buddhism represents a pinnacle of understanding of the cosmic mind and an expression of human equanimity unparallelled in the other paternalistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam or partriachal Hindu.
However somehow it is still missing the vital emergent creative spark of evolution. Tthe Path of the Seed is in a sense evolutionary Buddhism. The equanimity of suffering in the endless round of death and rebirth, in which the cosmic no-mind is realized as the still point of the turning world is complemented by that primal creativity of evolution which makes possible that crowning respite from suffering - the Great Becoming. This is however the domain of the feminine, Maya falsely subjugated by Buddhism to the level of mere illusion and suffering.
Morality is adhered to only in so far as it is consistent with the path of realization. Devotees are forbidden to depart from Buddhist conventional morality unless their conduct truly proceeds from the desire to maintain experientially the voidness of opposites. Subject to these conditions, advanced adepts are permitted to do what seems appropriate, regardless of the normal rules of conduct. To consider abiding by the rules as necessarily good or transgressing them as necessarily evil would be to tie themselves down with the dualism they have set out to transcend.
Tantric Buddhism is a science of dynamical mind control which produces levels of consciousness deeper than conceptual thought. The form of the practices revolves around techniques of visualization and stopping the internal dialogue and may include sexual union, meditataion on death, including drinking from skulls and sleeping in graveyards, and periods of isolation, both in mountain caves and in the wilderness inhabited by wild animals
The unity of the universe is represented in the mandala of the wheel of life forming a fractal representation of reality as cosmic mountain. Symbolic ritual instruments and the mandala deities are used only as tools to achieve deeper levels of meditation. The Tibetan cosmology contains several strange realms including that of the living world and also those of the peaceful and wrathful dakinis or deities. Buddhism is however essentially atheistic in the sense that there is no creator god. The deities are mere projectionsof the cosmic mind evoked by the meditation.
In visualization meditation, one of these, or a Buddha form are chosen for the initiate as their yidam or personal meditation deity. Meditation consists of several interlocking methods, including the use of a mantra such as om-mane-padme-hum to interrupt the flow of the internal dialogue and concentrate the mind on the voidness of being, each syllable being imbued with mystical meaning. The deity is visualized in splendour and detail, accompanied by actions such as the drawing in of evil forces and scattering of good forces back into the universe. A mudra or clasped hand position combined with yogic breathing or prajnayama provide additional components of the meditative concentration.
Buddha and the Boddhisattvas represented as the tree of life. Where is Maya? (Wosien)
The wheel of life, representing the strange cosmology of gods, beasts, hell, hungry ghosts and men. Later the titans were added. Around it are the ascending and descending fortunes.
The the centre the pig, rooster and serpent consume one another.
Standing over all is the devourer of impermanence - the 'slayer of alien gods'. (Arguelles)
The yidam has a parallel role to the shamanic power animal, and stories have also been told of yidams projecting themselves into the real world as vizualization becomes more adept, or perhaps even engaging the meditator as a consort. The dakini differs from the awakening of kundalini in that it is a vehicle to enlightenment rather than ecstatic trance which is itself a consumation of samadhi. Some of the deities adopt a cosmic hieros gamos in which a profound state of realization is reached. In the rite of yab-yum, sexual union with a consort constitutes an advanced part of the sequence of meditations, forming a pinnacle of meditative realization rather than the worldly distraction of lust. It is also essential to practice forms of losing self-importance involving conquering the grasping and ignorant drives of the ego. These include the development of compassion for all beings and discriminating wisdom.
"In the vajrayana tradition, yab-yum symbolizes the unity of the masculine principle, or skillful means (upaya), with the feminine principle, or wisdom (prajna) [in the] ... unity of worshipper and the object of worship, the union of over and beloved. The anuttara-yoga tantra is the most sophisticated and involves very advanced, very precise visualizations of one's own death and reincarnation toward the end of developing greater wisdom and compassion." (Occhigrosso 1996 118)
The more advanced practices lead into deeper parallels. Complementing the long or right-handed path of gradual attainment through virtue and conventional practice is the short or left-handed path, a more precipitous route which uses all aspects of existence as a catalyst for reaching beyond duality to the void, samadhi and enlightenment. This path takes the very forces of illusion and uses them to aid discovery. The practitioner may adopt any action from meditating in graveyards or desolate places to debauchery as long as it is with the undiminished intent of self-discovery. The tonal and nagual are parallelled by the realms of samsara and nirvana, illusory form and the formless void.
The practices pertaining to the path of form revolve around six great yogas. The yogas of psychic heat, of the illusory body in which reality is seen as an illusory projection of the mind, of the dream state in which dreaming and waking consciousness are unified, of the clear light in which the subject attains ecstatic illumination, of the bardo in which the transition from life through death to life again occurs without disrupting the stream of consciousness, and finally that of consciousness transferrence in which consciousness can enter another place, body or incarnation
Nobody should be fooled into thinking Buddhism is a religion of peace. Here Monks battle for possession of Seoul's Chogye Temple. Nearly 40 people were injured some seriously. Tibet likewise suffered armed conflict between different Buddhist factions leading right up to the time China invaded, a central part of the karma of the Tibetan diaspora.
The yoga of the dream state provides access to the bardo by showing the adept the unity of dreaming and waking realities and hence how to die and traverse the bardo without losing consciousness. It is held that shortly after death every being beholds the Clear Light of the Void, which is none other than reality in its pure fundamental state - the pure Nirvanic consciousness of a Buddha! This can also be apprehended during life between the cessation of one throught and the birth of the next (not-doing) or when imagining, thinking, analysing, meditating and reflecting cease, thus leaving the mind in its natural state (stopping the internal dialogue), or finally on the boundary between sleep and wakefullness (dreaming). If the dying person cannot hold to the clear light, their consciousness will wander downward through the bardo driven by terror and karmic accretions until it seeks the shelter of rebirth. By contrast the adept can enter deep samadhi behold the clear light and await an incarnation which fulfils their purpose as a Bodhisattva to help bring all beings to enlightenment.
By contrast, the formless path casts aside the specific vehicles of visualization and psychic manipulation. In the yoga of the mahamudra, or great gesture, involves using complementary methods of mental tranquility and one pointedness of mind, inhibiting thought and allowing the strem of consciousness to wander free, alternate tension and relaxation. By abandoning subject and object, a higher stage of consciousness is entered in which voidness is realized through following the natural flow and witnessing the transcience of the present and the unreality of reminiscence and speculation.
The next step is to bring phenomena and mind into a state of perfect unity by discovering the identical nature of waking and dream experience, clear light and voidness, including even details of other incarnations. Non-cognition permits everything to be transmuted into the immaculate mind, the mahamudra. The yoga of the great liberation applies a similar catalyst by rejecting all dualistic attachments and beliefs, especially the ego, and realizing that mind as the originator and container of the cosmos unites all sentient beings. Now looking deeply into their mind they discover that all things are transient in its omnipresence, that mind, formless and invisible, is known through the forms reflected in it, that mind is primordial consciousness and liberation results from allowing it to abide in its own place
Tibetan woman with prayer wheel and mala McLeod Ganj Dharmsala. Yeshe Dorje (CK).
I took my refuge with the Ningmapa Lama Yeshe Dorje, a singular privilege because he was both a Lama and a shaman revered by the local community for stopping the rain, exorcizing madness, and other psyco-medical feats. He was completely selfless. He was a prolific family man and had seven children, unlike the monastic Lamas of the later Gelugpa and Kargutpa sects, and warned us against the teachings at the library of the Dalai Lama below, despite functioning as the cloud-clearer for the Dalai Lama on official occasions. He named me Yeshe Tenzin - primordial awareness doctrine-holder - after himself and the Dalai Lama. Some honour.
Later I had the good fortune to have several encounters with the last Karmapa, head of the Kargutpa sect, and renowned as one of the most realized of living Lamas. My first encounters were by folly and inference only. I had briefly walked into a Buddhist puja at Bodnath, just outside Khatmandu and had in my ignorance walked in ahead of Karmapa's party as he was about to enter to begin the ceremony. I then went trekking above Pokhara and was invited to stay at a Tibetan village where 'an important Lama' was going to give a Buddhist ceremony for the village. However I decided to press on up to Anapurna and the cloud forest. On my return to Khatmandu I was nonplussed to walk into the main square and immediately meet a German who had gone all the way to Pokhara to see the ceremonies and related a tale of Karmapa holding up a dorje or thunderbolt and thunder and lightning crashing across the sky. I felt I had missed out on an experience of power and resolved to go to Sikkhim where Karmapa's home monastery was. However this proved impossible and I ended up leaving India without fulfilling the encounter.
"The Kagyu (Tib. "Oral transmission") school has its roots in the Tantric systems transmitted by the 11th-century Indian master Tilopa. His teachings were passed in succession to Naropa, who for a time was abbot of Nalanda University. From Naropa they went to the Tibetan Marpa and then to Milarepa, the greatest of the Tibetan yogis, who is sal 'd to have put the Bardo Tbijdol into its current form and to have kept himself warm during the frigid Tibetan winters with the "fury-fire" yoga he had learned from Marpa. His many disciples dressed like him in only light cotton garments and sang the folk songs into which he put many of his teachings. As the first "ordinary" Tibetan believed to have achieved buddhahood in a single lifetime, Milarepa was a great inspiration to the common folk of that country." (Occhigrosso 1996 118)
Prayer flags over the Himalayas. Prayer Wheels at McLeod Ganj (CK).
After travelling overland to Europe and flying to New York, I was surprised to find that Karmapa was arriving in a week or two and would give several ceremonies. I was talking to someone in the street who told me about a Black Hat ceremony which was happening the next day. When it came time to go there I found myself in a virtual repeat of the previous experience. I had been to the Maimonides dream research laboratory investigating dream telepathy experiments. By the time I could leave it seemed probably too late to get to the Black Hat rite. I took the offchance and just as I turned the corner of the street I heard a blare of Tibetan trumpets and realized the crux of the ceremony was happening. I ran headlong up the street. A Tibetan man was walking in the door, but as I reached it, it slammed shut and locked! For a second time my predilection had shut me out. I finally got in in time to receive a braid which was placed on my neck with a look of resignation on Karmapa's part.
Afterwards I found that he was heading up to Boston and so took a trip up to try to make amends for such an intolerable history. I stayed at a Buddhist centre and finally ended up having an audience with Karmapa. I felt overwhelmed at this prospect, even in the next room. I took him nervously mala, or rosary, of bone beads from Tibet and asked him to bless it. I fully expected him to pass his hand over it in a sanctimonious blessing, but to my surprise he cackled an insane laugh and proceeded to crush the mala together again and again with explosive force.
Tikse Ladark with Lama dancing acting out mythological scenes from the Dharma.
Chris with the celebrants, reincarnate child Lama in attendance, personal prayer (1975).
A year or so later, while I was at a function. Without warning a drunkard walked up to me and assaulted me grabbing me by the scarf and the hidden mala and shattering the mala off its 100 pound fishing line with such explosive force that the Tibetan bone beads hit the plate glass walls of the building in all directions. I collected what I could. To my surprise when I got home, I found that a friend had coincidentally left on the mantlepiece a broken strand of almost matching beads.
Five years later I returned to New York and stayed with an old friend and to my surprise a letter came to me the very next day announcing that Karmapa was back and was going to be in upstate New York at Woodstock. There had been no other mail for me during the intervening years. Karmapa was by this time becoming terminally ill, but was still full of energy. Two of us approached him for a blessing as he was about to leave on an excursion. He looked at us with mischevious glee and grabbed us each in one hand by our bearded chins and gave our heads a sudden and surprising yank like a couple of billy goats!
The next time I returned to the U.S. I found that Yeshe Dorje was in Boulder. He held a seven hour pujah with a whole series of rites of exorcism, collecting names of people in distress, and the flour imprints of all our hands to later be made into a dedicatory holocaust. There were many many sessions of drumming and trumpet-blowing, alternating with the reading of long liturgies, making light fun of himself when he nodded off in the middle. As he was chanting with his bell and thunderbolt one of those evening desert storms blew up the mountain and lightning lightning burst out behind him. There was torrential rain. I knew he had to complete the pujah with a fire ceremony. It seemed impossible that he would get his holocaust holocaust for the offerings. But at sunset, under a rainbow he faithfully delivered the comsummation.
At the centre of the Buddhist view of reality is the primacy of mind. According to Dhammapada - 'all things are preceded by mind, led by mind, created by mind'. According to Buddha himself - 'within this body, mortal though it be, and only a fathom high, but conscious and endowed with mind is the world and the waxing thereof, and the waning thereof, and the way that leads to the passing away thereof'.
Goddess dPal-ldan lha-mo Wrathful slayer of enemies of religion - Potala (Willis)
By contrast, the physical world is perceived as only sense aggregates ( rupa-skanda) of pure form (rupa) which also includes finer more subtle levels perceived only clairvoyantly, and which arises from the formless (sunyata). The happenings of the world are also perceived as being partly a psychological consequence of conscious attitude through the doctrine of karma. The body is thus clearly a product of consciousness but consciousness is only a product of the body in a limited way through the form of the sense organs. In the doctrine of impermanence all phenomena are transient. Indeed the self is seen as lasting only as long as the passing of a thought. The phenomena of the conscious mind are deemed to arise as archetypes from the subconscious stream of becoming in which all conscious experiences are stored since the beginning of time.
The creation process is thus perceived as emerging from mind. In the Agganna-Sutta it says - 'In the past we were mind created beings, nourished by joy. We soared through space self-luminous and in imperishable beauty. After the passage of infinite times the sweet tasting earth rose from the waters. It had colour scent and taste. We began to form it into clumps and eat it. But while we ate from it our luminosity disappeared. Then the sun, moon and stars, weeks, months, seasons and years made their appearance. We were nourished but the coarsening of the food, the bodies of being became more and more material and differentiated, and the division of the sexes came into existence together with sensuality and attachment'.
The mind is percieved as one. Although it is classified into the skandas as a formative process consisting of sensation, feeling, discrimination (intuitive and analytic), will (conscious volition and karma) finally to full awareness, and the sense modes are classified into the five senses plus mental, it is clearly stated that the phenomena of mind cannot be objectively separated into their constituent components. 'In mind essence there is nothing to be grasped or named'.
The form of the mind is regarded as a junction between the individual empirical mind and the universal mind. The area of overlap, manas or the ego, has a dual nature either fragmenting the universal mind into the constructs of the world or uniting all phenomena in the selfless universal totality of mirror-like wisdom.
The Dragon of Order amidst the swirling Chaos of the Abyss (Rawson et. al.)
The Way of the Ultimate Tao
There was something
complete and mysterious
Existing before heaven and earth,
Unchanging, standing alone,
Unceasing, ever in motion.
Able to be the mother of the world.
I do not know its name.
Call it Tao.
The foundation of the mind and of the universe is the Ultimate Tao. It is forever a complementation. It is not a Descartian duality, across which there is an indivisible gulf, but the intimate marriage of realities - It is the hieros gamos of nature itself.
From the beginning both mind and universe exist as paradoxical complements, each discovering its own nature through it's complement. From birth to death, all our experience of reality is through the magic warp and weft of the subjective conscious mind. It is the umbilicus of reality without which the physical universe would be an abyss without even a dream of existence.
Yet the physical universe is also fundamental to existence, for through it our manifold dreams of existence find one common ground of objectivity in which the entire historical process of incarnation can come to a meaningful account. We are physical. We bleed when cut and swoon when concussed. Yet the description of physical reality is no more and no less than a myth told about the stabilities and correspondences of our conscious experience.
Worse still, the physical universe itself is a paradox of relativity and quantum uncertainty in which the future and the past become lost in probabilities which can never be disentangled from their quantum superpositions until the reaper of quantum measurement casts our lot and the world becomes frozen into the history we see being made before our eyes.
The hieros gamos of the Ultimate Tao (Porritt 178, Attenborough)
For the universe is forever the Tao of Physics - the paradoxical interplay of wave and particle, and as natural processes gather into the macroscopic world of experience, chaos and order, as theweather, evolution and conscious thought alike attest. For order to attempt to rule over chaos is as futile as for the particle to try to rule over the wave. Any society which attempts to rule by order alone is doomed to catastrophe as the natural process transition becomes frozen into an apocalyptic revolution collapsing the old order.
sometimes set your mind off in new directions'
Lee & Yang before making their Nobel prizewinning discovery of non-conservation of parity
In regard to nature, the impostion of order, by domination of nature, through belief that the rule of order of civilization can continue until the evidence to the contrary is incontestable is suicidal. By this time many chaotic transitions have reached irreversible crisis and we become doomed by our own rigid lack of sensitivity and foresight. This the why we need inebriety of foresight, and the samadhi of contemplation as well as the rational scientic approach when dealing with the uncarved block of future possibilities.
The natural order requires complementation between the harmonious rule of order and a continuing respect for the fertility of chaos. Order needs to be at all times suppliant and responsive to fertile transition so that new order can emerge from the natural ferment of chaos. It is in this sense that Hathor as goddess of fertility and inebriety represents the chaotic principle complementing the order of Thoth and it is in this sense that we cannot live by order alone. Even if some of our most cherished possessions are lost, it is never in the interests of life to 'push the sacred river'.
In the Ultimate Tao we will find again the genetic roots of immortality in the immortal Garden of life, but with it we will also acheive, not only for ourselves in our own generation, but for all that follow the immortal knowledge of the Kingdom - the eternal cosmic mind. From the Ultimate Tao thus comes the true complementary understanding of immortality - the Kingdom and the Garden.
The Ultimate Tao is the path of nature. It is not only living with nature but being nature as individuals and in the societies we foster and the cultures we celebrate. The way of nature is also the way of life and death, of tooth and claw, but it is the role of immortal wisdom to understand nature in all her complements and to utilize her bounty in arriving at a just and harmonius existence, without imposing on her our own selfish designs. In doing so we are 'future dreaming' engaging in a vision quest of the evolutionary unfolding. The Tao stresses moving with the forces of nature in utilizing their own flow sustainably, not in dominion and domination.
as earth is to sky,
as dreaming is to waking,
as wave is to particle,
as chaos is to cosmos,
as egg is to sperm,
as means are to ends,
as mosaic is to monad,
as gathering is to seeking,
as atheism is to true belief,
as moonlight is to sunlight,
as humanities are to science,
as intuition is to rationality,
as gnosticism is to orthodoxy,
as wisdom is to knowledge,
as Garden is to Kingdom,
as body is to mind,
as world is to self.
It is said that when Lao Tsu walked, the birds and animals would accompany him. In the 'Tao te Ching', Lao Tzu, or old man provides a clear and organic example of the Chinese as shaman erasing personal history. It was written by a twist of fate, because as he was leaving China for the wilderness for the last time, he was jailed by the gatekeeper until he wrote down his teachings for posterity. This example of return to the wilderness of the abyss in this life should be emulated by those who would aspire to be religious leaders, male or female.
As we come to the millenium we should strive to make our ecosystemic landing a soft one, which even if we have been single-minded, preserves the fecundity of Eve for all time:
'The wild goose
gradually draws near the summit
For three years the woman has no child.
In the end nothing can hinder her
Good fortune' (I Ching).
"The dark has a light spot and the light has a dark spot - that's how they can relate to one another" Complementation of male and female nature in one another in the Tao
(Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth - TV).
"In the Taoist perspective, even good and evil are not head-on opposites. The West has tended to dichotomize the two, but Taoists are less categorical. They buttress their reserve with the story of a farmer whose horse ran away. His neighbor commiserated, only to be told, "Who knows what's good or bad?" It was true, for the next day the horse returned, bringing with it a drove of wild horses it had befriended. The neighbor reappeared, this time with congratulations for the windfall. He received the same response: "Who knows what's good or bad?" Again this proved true, for the next day the farmer's son tried to mount one of the wild horses and fell, breaking his leg. More commiserations from the neighbor, which elicited the question, "Who knows what is good or bad?" And for a fourth time the farmer's point prevailed, for the following day soldiers came by commandeering for the army, and the son was exempted because of his injury." -Huston Smith, The World's Religions (Occhigrosso 1996 153)
The Chinese Tao, natural law, or way provides a cleavage of the totality into complementary creative and receptive principles. The Tao is a seamless web of unbroken movement and change filled with undulations, waves, patterns of ripples, vortices and temporary standing waves like a river. Every observer is an integral functioning part of this web which extends both into the past and into the future throughout space-time. It is the implicate order. No binary, ideal or atomic concept has any independent reality or permanence in this unchanging river of change. No symbol can be separated from the organic context of the whole. Nothing which happens, no event or process ever repeats itself exactly. Nevertheless the Tao is unchanging like a convoluted eroded stone which stands beyond time.
'Vast indeed is the
Spontaneously itself, apparently without acting,
End of all ages and beginning of all ages,
Existing before Earth and existing before Heaven,
Silently embracing the whole of time,
Continuing uninterrupted though all eons, ...
It is the ancestor of all doctrines,
The mystery beyond all mysteries' (Lao Tsu).
It is only in this sense of unbroken wholeness that the Tao is subdivided into natural complementary creative and receptive principles of yang and yin associated with male and female, day and night, heaven and earth etc. The power of the creative lies beyond the describable, and complements the world of form. The two together form the mysterious totality of existence. Central to the organic nature of the Tao is the inextricable dependence of each attribute on its complement, from which it draws its very identity.
Under heaven all can
see beauty as beauty only because there is ugliness.
All can know good as good only because there is evil.
The dragons of order in the clouds of chaos (Rawson et. al.).
Like Yahweh and Allah, Brahman and the Buddha nature in their aniconic cosmic aspects, the Tao cannot be named, cannot be symbolised nor captured by rational thought or symbols:
The Tao that can be
told is not the eternal Tao.
The name that can be named is not the eternal name.
The nameless is the beginning of heaven and earth.
The named is the mother of ten thousand things.
Ever desireless, one can see the mystery.
Ever desiring, one can see the manifestations.
These two spring from the same source but differ in name;
this appears as darkness.
Darkness within darkness.
The gate to all mystery.
The Tao is timeless and ancient, imperceptible and indefinable yet ever present:
From above it is not
From below it is not dark:
An unbroken thread beyond descrption.
It returns to nothingness.
The form of the formless,
The image of the imageless,
It is called indefinable beyond imagination.
Stand before it and
there is no beginning.
Follow it and there is no end.
Stay with the ancient Tao,
Move with the present.
Knowing the ancient beginning is the essence of Tao. Taoist philosophy is singularly relevant to the modern age because it teaches that nature should not be disrupted:
Do you think you can
take over the universe and improve it?
I do not believe it can be done.
The universe is
You cannot improve it.
If you try and change it, you will ruin it.
If you try and hold it, you will lose it.
It also lies beyond simple rules of morality:
A brave and
passionate man will kill or be killed.
A brave and calm man will always preserve life.
Of these two which is harmful?
Some things are not favoured by heaven.
Who knows why? Even the sage is unsure of this.
Lao tsu pictures the sage as wild and untamed but in contact with the natural maternal source:
People have purpose
But I alone am igorant and uncouth
I am different from all the others,
but I draw noursihment from the mother.
The opposites of male and female, light and dark etc. are not only interdependent, but it is essential for humanity to maintain a receptive relation to the creative Tao. This requires both the feminine receptiveness of the valley of the earth, but also an attitude towards leadership and control which is humble and submissive and yeilds to transition rather than imposing order:
Flowering Hills in the Height of Spring - Lan Ying (Rawson et. al.)
Know the strength of man,
But keep a woman's care!
Be the stream of the universe,
Ever true and unswerving,
Become as a little child once more.
Know the white,
But keep the black!
Be an example to the world!
Being an example to the world,
Ever true and unwavering,
Return to the infinite.
Know honour and
Be the valley of the universe,
Ever true and resourceful,
Return to the state of the uncarved block.
When the block is
carved it becomes useful.
When the sage uses it he becomes the ruler.
Thus, "A great tailor cuts little" (Lao Tsu).
Thus man follows the feminine earth, rather than heaven and consequently the creative emerges from nature itself:
Man follows earth.
Earth follows heaven.
Heaven follows the tao.
Tao follows what is natural.
However, despite being in yielding responsiveness to the natural order, the sage possesses the personal power of the shaman:
He who knows how to
live can walk abroad
Without fear of rhinoceros or tiger.
He will not be wounded in battle.
For in him rhinoceroses can find no place to thrust their horn,
Tigers no place to use their claws,
And weapons no no place to pierce.
Why is this so?
Because he has no place for death to enter.
Lao Tsu naturally saw the machinery of the state as a structured force which ran against the Tao:
The more laws and
restrictions there are,
The poorer people become.
The sharper men's weapons,
The more trouble in the land
THE RED CLIFF Poem and Illustration Su Tung-po 1037
(Rawson et. al. 97)
This year, on the fifteenth day of the tenth moon, I was walking back from Snow Hall to my home at Lin-kao. I had two guests with me, and we went along the bank of the Yellow Mud. Icy dew had already fallen and the trees were bare of leaves. Our shadows appeared on the ground, and looking up we saw the bright moon. Glancing around to enjoy the sight, we walked along singing in turns. After a while, I sighed and said, 'Here I have guests and there is no wine! Even if I had some wine, there is no savoury food to eat with it. The moon is clear, the breeze is fresh, what shall we do with such a fine night?'
One of my guests said, 'Today towards sundown I put out a net and caught some fish with large mouths and small scales, like the perch of Pine River. Can we look round to find some wine?'
As soon as we got home I consulted my wife. She said, 'I have a gallon of wine. I have stored it for a long time waiting for an occasion when you might need it unexpectedly.' So we took the wine and fish and went for a trip to the foot of the Red Cliff. The river raced along noisily, its sheer banks rising to a thousand feet. The mountains were high, the moon was small. The water level had dropped, leaving boulders protruding. How many days or months had passed since my last visit? The river and the mountains, I could not recognize them again!
But holding up my robe, I began to climb, walking along precipitous slopes, opening up hidden growth of plants, crouching like tigers and leopards, ascending like curly dragons. I pulled my way up to perch at the precarious nest of the migratory falcon and looked down into the dark palace of the God of Rivers. My two guests could not follow me there. Shrilly, I gave a long cry. The grass and the trees swaved and shook, the mountains rang, and the valleys echoed. The wind came up and the water bubbled, and I felt a gentle chill of sadness. Shivering with cold, I knew that I could not stay there any longer.
I went back to my guests and got into the boat and turned it loose in mid-stream, content to rest wherever it stopped. The night was almost half over and all around was silent and still. Suddenly a lonely crane appeared, cutting across the river from the east. Its wings were like cart-wheels, and it wore a black robe and a coat of white silk. With a long, strange cry, it swooped over my boat and went off to the west.
Soon afterwards my guests left and I, too, promptly went to sleep. I dreamed I saw a Taoist priest in a feather robe fluttering as an Immortal, down the road past the foot of Lin-kao. He bowed to me and said, 'Did you enjoy your outing to the Red Cliff?' I asked him his name, but he looked down and did not answer 'Ah! Dear me! I know you! Last night something passed me, flying over me and crying; that was you was it not?' The Taoist priest turned his head round to look and laughed. Then I woke up with a start. I opened the door to have a look at him, but there was no sign of him.
The Hieros gamos is central to Taoist thought and sex roles give both genders the superior
position. Despite the confucian patriarchy the ancient matriarchal identification with the land required conserving male energies to maintain natural relations with many wives (Rawson et. al.).
The Tao also has a sexual aspect parallel to Tantrism. The natural complementation of male and female sexual energies, ching, as manifestations of life force became elaborated into a technique of gathering vital energies through active love-making while witholding orgasm. This attitude arises from the pursuit of immortality, and origins in matriarchial land titleholding based on yin-earth identification, resulting in polygamy and the need to maintain many active relationships. The inner alchemy of Taoism is closely related to the practices of Tantric yoga, involving similar chakra centres based on sex, heart and mind, derived from Buddhist influences.
The Jade Lady among the clouds - Yin as Chaos Ts'ui Tzu-chung
Sun Pu-erh is an example of a female immortal attributed with miraculous powers. She initially ran away from her wealthy home and husband feigning madness, laughing wildly and biting the hand of the maid who tried to restrain her. She hid in a haystack and then left to wander seeking refuge in powerty in Taoist sanctuaries.
"Sun Pu-erh lived in the city of Loyang for twelve years. She attained the Tao and acquired powerful magical abilities. One day she said to herself, "I have lived in Loyang for a long time. Now I have attained the Tao, I should demonstrate the powers of the Tao to the people." Sun Pu-erh took two withered branches and blew at them softly. Instantly the two branches were transformed into a man and a woman. The woman resembled Sun Pu-erh, and the man appeared to be a handsome man in his thirties. The couple went to the busiest streets of the city and started laughing, embracing, and teasing each other. Loyang was the center of learning and culture in those days, and such shameful behaviors in public between a man and a woman in public was not tolerated. Yet despite reprimands from the city officials and the teachers of the community, the couple continued their jesting and playing day after day. Even after the guards escorted them away from the city they were found back in the busy streets the next day. When the prominent members of the community saw that their efforts to banish the couple from the city were in vain they took counsel among themselves and approached the mayor, saying, "Many years ago, a mad woman took refuge in an abandoned house at the edge of the city. We took pity on her and gave her food when she begged. Now she is not only forgetting our kindness to her but has become a nuisance to public peace and decency. Wc would like to ask you to arrest this shameless couple and burn them in public. We have come to this last resort because they have ignored our pleas and our threats. One of the more powerful community leaders added, "Sir, as the leader of this city you are responsible for the good behavior of our citizens. You must do something about this shameless couple" Not wanting to offend the powerful citizens of the community, the mayor issued a decree and had it posted throughout the city. It read: "Madness is the result of losing reason. Without reason all actions become irrational. For a man and woman to embrace and tease each other in public is to break the rules of propriety. If they exhibit such shameful behavior during the day there is nothing they cannot do at night. The streets of the city are not places for jesting. To display such offensive behavior in public is abominable. We have asked them to leave, but they have refused. We have banished them from the city, but they have returned. There is only one thing left for us to do. We shall arrest them and burn them in public. Thus we can rid ourselves of these evil characters." Together with the city guards, community leaders, and a large crowd, the mayor walked toward the abandoned house at the edge of the city where the man and the mad woman were reported to be staying. As they approached the house the mayor said, "Let everyone carry along some dry wood or twigs. We shall pile them around the house and burn the abominable place, together with the mad woman and the shameless man.' The crowds piled dry branches around the building and set them on fire. Flames and smoke engulfed the building. Suddenly the grey smoke turned into a multicolored haze and the mad woman was seen seated on a canopy of clouds, flanked by the man and woman whom the people had seen jesting in the streets. Sun Pu-erh said to the crowds below, "I am a seeker of the Tao. My home is in Shantung Province, and my name is Sun Pu-erh. Twelve years ago I arrived in Loyang. I disguised myself as a mad woman so that I might pursue the path of the Tao in peace. I have finally attained the Tao, and today I shall be carried into the heavens by fire and smoke. I transformed two branches into a man and a woman so that circumstances would lead you here to witness the mystery and the powers of the Tao. In return for your kindness and hospitality to mc through the years I shall give you this couple. They will be your guardians, and I shall see to it that your harvests will be plentiful and your city protected from plagues and -natural disasters." Sun Pu-erh gave the man and woman a push and they fell onto the crowd below. Instantly the couple was transformed back into their original form. The crowd picked up the two branches, but when they looked up at the sky all they saw was a small black figure growing smaller and smaller as it-flew higher and higher. The figure became a black dot, and finally the black dot disappeared. The crowds bowed their heads in respect and dispersed. For the next five years, Loyang enjoyed a prosperity that was unmatched by any town in China. Its countryside yielded bountiful harvests, and livestock was healthy and plentiful. The rains came at the appropriate times, and the city and its surrounding region seemed to be immune to natural disasters. In gratitude to Sun Pu- erh the citizens built a shrine to her. In it was a statue of her likeness, and beside her stood statues of the man and woman she had created from two branches. The shrine was named the Three Immortals' Shrine. lt was said that those who presented offerings with sincerity received blessings from the three immortals.
The Immortals in the Celestial Boat bound for the Island Paradise (Rawson et. al.).
After Sun Pu-erh ascended to the heavens she returned to the earthly realm. She wondered about the progress of Ma Tan-yang (her husband) and decided to offer help if needed. When Sun Pu-erh appeared at the Ma mansion the servants could not believe that the lady of the mansion was back. They ran to tell Ma Tan-yang, and he hurried out to greet his wife. He welcomed her home and said, 'Friend in the Tao, you must have suffered much these years' Sun Pu-erh replied, "We who cultivate the Tao must bear whatever hardships beset us. Otherwise we will not be able to attain the Tao. That night, Ma Tan-yang invited Sun Pu-erh to meditate with him. Sun Pu-erh maintained her meditation position through the night, but Ma Tan-yang could not. The next morning Ma Tan-yang said to Sun Pu-erh, 'Friend in the Tao, your meditation skills are much more advanced than mine:' Sun Pu-erh said, 'Brother, I can sec that your magical powers do not seem to be as strong as they could be.' Ma Tan-yang said, "You are mistaken. My magical powers are strong. I can transform stones into silver pieces. Let me show you' Sun Pu-erh said, "I can transform stones into gold, but I do not wish to do so, for gold and silver are material things that we must leave behind. Therefore it is not important whether they can be turned into silver or gold. Let me tell you a story' " Then Sun Pu-erh related to Ma Tan-yang a story about Immortals Lii Tung-pin and Chung-li Ch'iian. When Immortal Lii Tung-pin was studying with his teacher Chung-li Ch'iian, Chung-li Ch'iian gave him a large and heavy sack to carry. Immortal Lii carried the sack for three years without complaint or resentment. At the end of three years, Chung-li Ch'iian told Immortal Lii to open the sack. He said to Immortal Lii, 'While you were carrying the sack these years, did you know what was inside.' Immortal Lii replied, "Yes, I knew that the sack was filled with stones. ' Chung-li Ch'iian then said, "Do you know that the rocks that you've been carrying around all these years could be turned into gold? Because you have shown sincerity and humility and have never uttered a word of complaint, I shall teach you how to turn these stones into gold if you wish." Immortal Lii asked Chung-li Ch'iian, "When these stones have been transformed into gold, will they be identical to real gold?" Chung-li Ch'iian replied, "No, gold that has been transformed from stones or other objects will only last for five hundred years. After that, they will return to their original form" Immortal Lii said, "Then I do not wish to learn the techinques of turning stones into gold. If the gold is not permanent, then what I do now will have harmful effects five hundred years later. I would rather be ignorant of a technique which may potentially harm people." Hearing Lii Tung-pin's reply, Chung-li Ch'iian said, "Your foundations are stronger than mine. Your level of enlightenment will be higher than mine. As you have enlightened me, I now realize that this technique of turning stones to gold or silver or precious gems is not worth carrying and not worth teaching" After hearing Sun Pu-erh's story, Ma Tan-yang felt ashamed and said no more. Next day, Sun Pu-erh invited Ma Tin-yang to take a bath in a tub of boiling water. Ma Tan-yang looked at the bubbling water, tested it with his finger. and exclaimed, this water is so hot that I almost burned my finger. How can I sit in it and take a bath?" Sun Pu-erh jumped into the tub of boiling water as if it had bccn merely lukewarm. Turning to Ma Tan-yang, she said, "Brother, after all these years you should have cultivated a body that is impervious to heat and cold. How is it that you have not made much progress in your training?" Ma Tan-yang said, "I do not know. We received the same instructions from the same teacher. How come your meditation skill, your magical powers, and your physical development surpass mine by far?" Sun Pu-erh dried herself, put on fresh clothes and explained to Ma Tan-yang, "Thesc twelve ycars I have lived in hardship. My training was done under the most adverse of conditions. Moreover, since I had to beg and live in the most meager of shelters, my body and mind were not distracted or dulled by comfortable living. You, on the other hand, lived in a comfortable house, had servants to tend your needs, and did not mcet with hardships. Therefore your senses, your mind, and your body bccame lazy, and you did not train as hard as I did." Ma Tan-yang said to Sun Pu-erh, "You are right. I shall leave this place and travel. I shall seek the Tao in my journeys' Late that night Ma Tan-yang changed into Taoist robes and slipped out of his mansion. The next morning Sun Pu-erh summoned the servants and told them to sell the property and distribute the money and household goods to the needy, for she knew that Ma Tan-yang would never return to his mansion and his lands again. [From Seven Taoist Masters]
One of the most important and complex female deities of Taoism is the Queen Mother of the West. She possesses the peaches of immortality, which means that she can confer immor- tality. The following story from the Han Wu ku-shih (composed between the second and sixth centuries) describes the famous meeting between her and the Han Dynasty emperor Wu Ti. As in many of the stories about meetings between mortal men and celestial women, it is the women who journey to earth. An earlier but shorter version of this story, preserved in the Lieh-tzu, has the Queen Mother of the West visiting another ruler, King Mu. She seems to have been a pre-Taoist divinity that was gradually assimilated by the Taoists. In the process her powers were greatly enhanced, and, during the Han Dynasty, when she receives a partner, the King Father of the East, they are attributed with the creation of the cosmos. Her essential function, though, is to confer eternal life on her devotees, and in this context she was popular with all classes of people.
The Queen Mother sent her messenger to tell the emperor that she would be visiting him on the seventh day of the seventh month. When the appointed day came, the emperor swept the inner parts of the palace and lit the lamp of the nine decorated branches. On the seventh day of the seventh month he kept vigil in the ball of the Reception of Flowery Delights. At the exact hour of midday he suddenly saw that there were green birds arriving from the west and roosting in front of the hall....
That night, at the seventh division of the clock, There was not a cloud in the sky; it was dark, as if one might hear the sound of thunder, and stretching to the edge of the heavens there was a purple glow. By and by the Queen Mother arrived. She rode in a purple carriage, with the daughters of jade riding on each side; she wore the sevenfold crown upon her head; the sandals on her feet were black and glistening, embellished with the design of a phoenix; and the energies of new growth were like a cloud. There were two green birds, like crows, attending on either side of the Mother. When she alighted from her carriage the emperor greeted her and bowed down, and invited her to be seated. He asked for the drug of deathlessness, and the Queen said "Of the drugs of long, long ago, there were those such as the Purple Honey of the Blossoms of the centre, the Scarlet honey of the Mountains of the clouds, or the Golden juice of the fluid of jade.... But the emperor harbours his desires and will not let them go, and there are many things for which his heart still yearns; he may not yet attain the drug of deathlessness" Then the Queen drew out seven peaches; two she ate herself and five she gave to the emperor.... She stayed with him until the fifth watch, and although he discussed matters of this world, she was not willing to talk of ghosts or spirits; and with a rustle she disappeared.... Once she had gone the emperor was saddened for long time. [From Ways to Paradise]
Two of the greatest Taoist texts were translated by Richard Wilhelm (1873-1930), who despite serving with a Christian mission was glad that he had never baptised a Chinese. He had the fortune to meet a sage of the old school displaced from the interior by the revolution, Lau Nai Süan who introduced him to Taoist yoga philosophy in The Secret of the Golden Flower, and the I Ching, the old master passing away just as the I Ching was completed, thus forming a unique personal transmission. Carl Jung had synchronously completed mandalas including a flower and a Castle reflecting the yellow castle of the Taoist creative mind, when invited by Wilhelm to compile the commentary on The Secret of the Golden Flower.
The form of meditation consists of circulation of the light through breathing with eyes half-closed to create a balance between the inner and outer worlds. The cycle of inhalation and exhalation is a link between the creative in the head and the receptive in the heart. 'When the light is made to move in a circle the energies of heaven and earth, of the light and dark are crystallized'. The formless approach of watching thoughts arise and pass is followed, using breathing as a handle to remain the centre in the midst of changing experiences. 'The further the work advances the more does the golden flower bloom'. Meditation is accomplished in four stages, gathering the light, origin of a new being in the place of power, separation of the spirit body for independent existence, and the centre in the midst of conditions [of the spirit body]. The aim is physical and mental immortality - the flower of light that emerges from the conscious breath:
'There is a still more marvellous kind of circulation. Now we stay in the centre and rule what is external. The whole relationship is now reversed. One must first see that the body and heart are completely controlled, that one is quite free and at peace... Then let one lower the two eyes as if one received a holy edict, a summons to become the minister... Wherever the golden flower goes the true light of polarity comes forth to meet it... One is aware of effulgence and infinity. The whole body feels like light and would like to fly. This is the state of which it is said : Clouds fill the thousand mountains. Gradually it goes to and fro quite softly; it rises and falls quite imperceptibly. The pulse stands still and breathing stops. This is the moment of true creative union, the state of which it is said : The moon gathers up the ten thousand waters. In the midst of this darkness, the heavenly heart suddenly begins a movement. This is the return of the one light, the time when the child comes to life' (wiilhelm 1931 53).
Ling-chih the magic spirit fungus was believed to confer 'immortality' for 500 years
(Rawson et. al.).
The I Ching oracle, or book of changes, was also completed because the original author was imprisoned, in this case for many years. He elaborated the eight trigrams into a vastly larger system of transformations. Yin and yang are further divided into 8 yin-yang trigrams : heaven (the creative), wind (wood), water (the abyss), the mountain (stillness), earth (the receptive), thunder (the arousing), fire (the clinging), the lake (joyful). The trigram transformations give 64 hexagrams, whose 4096 secondary transformations represent a set of archetypal dynamical situations. This set of 64 states have been very carefully designed to give a generic set of categories. Chance is used to generate a reading by throwing sticks or coins.
According to the principles of the I Ching, consciousness, living organsims, and chance are a common manifestation of the cosmic creative principle. Thus the use of chance in throwing the oracle, far from being superstitious faith in the drop of a coin, links to consciousness and to life itself, just as the Urim and Thummim, and the Tarot (Book of Thoth) have been used in Judaism and the West.
Although the I Ching is Taoist in its interpretation, many translations have a Confucian
patriarchal gloss. Modern feminist interpretations are also made which reverse this gloss.
The patriarchal gloss of many translations of the I Ching obscure its essential complementation between Yin and Yang, and the notion that man's relationship to the nature should be the feminine way of the valley. Several modern interpretations of the I Ching reverse this gloss producing a distinctly feminist emphasis.
The "Image" of the cauldron in Wilhelm's version reads: "Fire over wood: The image of the cauldron. Thus the superior man consolidates his fate by making his position correct"
Barbara Walker's "I Ching of the Goddess" relates the following about the cauldron: "The cauldron was a worldwide symbol of rebirth after dissolution. Many classic Goddess figures restored sacrificial victims to life after their sojurn in the uterine cauldron. The Chinese also regarded the cauldron as a womb symbol and a natural attribute of the goddess".
In addition it is possible to mount a complementary or inverse reading by reversing the interpretations of yin and yang. This often produces surprising results.
For example the inverse of the above reading is "difficulty at the beginning" becoming "the well ":
"Difficulty at the beginning success through perseverence.. It does not further one to undertake anything. It furthers one to appoint helpers" and "The town may be changed but the well cannot be changed. It neither increases nor decreases. People come and go from the well. If the rope does not go all the way or the jug breaks misfortune."
Barbara reads this: "Heavy rains over thunder symbolize the storms of tribulation and trouble ... the sages likened such difficulty to a traumatic birth attended by blood and pain." and "It is said that dwellings can be moved, whole cities can be moved, but the well supplying water for the population can't be moved. The source must remain in its own place. Those who seek it must go there". These are all just excerpts of much longer readings.
Dreaming is the most outstanding of the non-ordinary conscious states. It is one of which we are all aware to at least some degree, and one whose intensity, in cases of good recollection, parallels, or even exceeds that of sense experience of the 'real world'. Dreaming has definite correlates in central nervous activity in the so called rapid eye movement [REM] which are associated with electroenephalograms that have similar characteristics to waking activity, rather than the large slow waves of deep sleep, and are hence also sometimes called paradoxical. Although many people claim to dream rarely, or not to have dreams as vivid as the experiences of daily life, tests tend to confirm that these impressions stem from lack of recall of the dreaming state, because of subsequent periods of deep non-dreaming sleep that alternate with the dreaming state during sleep.
Phases of REM sleep are accompanied by specific paralysis of the muscles below the neck, which prevent us acting out our dream sequences. Indeed cats who have had certain midbrain centres removed do act out their dreams! The onset of light and subsequently dreaming sleep is mediated by specific nuclei in the pons, which secrete serotonin and nor-epinephrine and have ascending pathways that branch out widely across the cortex. During periods of light and dreaming sleep both sexes also experience sexual arousal, which is believed to accompany the regeneration of hormonal activity during the resting phase. Dreams thus can possess a kundalini-like energy.
Dream deprivation appears to result in specific syndromes over and above non-dreaming sleep. Selective dreaming sleep deprivation in cats results in physiological compensation. Various physiological functions have been suggested for dreams such as screening irrelevant data or participating in laying down long-term memory, including the controversial ideas of Francis Crick and co-workers, who suggested that dreams may be to forget irrelevant data from waking life, leading to the somewhat silly notion that remembering our dreams could interfere with normal brain function.
) Ascending serotonin
and nor-epinephrine pathways modulate light and dreaming sleep
from the brain stem. Each posseses hallucinogenic analogues (psilocin and mescalin).
(b) Phases of sleep during th night. (c) Dreaming e.e.g. is similar to waking (CK).
Dreaming thus corresponds to a clear-cut functional brain state in which the long slow waves of deep sleep give way to a brain state like alert wakefulness in which the body is paralysed and vivid subjective experiences occur. These experiences do not happen in the flickering of an eyelid, but from the timing of rapid eye movements, appear to correspond roughly in duration to the apparent duration of the dream.
Some intense phases of dreaming appear to bring about a hallucinogenic phase in which dreaming is often coloured and hypnotically bizarre. One may frequently feel one is up at a tremendous height or hang over precipices which are so awesome, and in scenes so bizarre as to make it obvious to all but the dreamer that this is another reality altogether. "I dreamed that I was inside a huge mouth. It was the devilish body of a witch. She had an enormous slimy throat and her tongue was writhing towards me trying to lick me in". "I was standing in a room looking out at a vast landscape. I felt a swaying and looked through the cracks in the floorboards. I could see we were on a teetering wooden tower, hundreds of storeys high". These dreams seem to possess additional and awesome power and potential.
I am lying back
spread-eagled on the ground.
The sun is shining down very brightly.
I am paralysed. I have been laid out to die.
The sun and the wind are weathering me.
People have pierced me with poisoned thorns.
They are slowly turning my body to jelly.
My arms have already become numb.
My life is oozing away from me.
Will no one save me before I fade away?
The conscious aspect of dreams contains phenomena which deserve serious consideration in their own right. The experiential and causal implications of dreaming appear to extend far beyond the physiological context. Although the significance of dreaming in recent western culture has concentrated on the symbolism of dreaming as an expression of fears and aspirations in daily life and its analysis as a means of therapy, the reference to dreaming in other cultures, from the Dreamtime of the Australian aboriginal people, through the Senoi of Malaysia , to the Old Testament prophets includes the use of dreams to anticipate future problems and events, and is based on the concept that the dreaming state is another level of conscious reality, which is not an illusory representation of the 'real world' but rather, a mode of conscious existence in its own right. Dreams are thus interpreted as prophetic and conveying a wisdom about fortune and the changing circumstances of life, which may be realized by interpreting and incubating the dream. Joseph for example was both a prophetic dreamer and an interpreter of the Pharoah's dreams.
My interest in dreaming was first kindled by "An Experiment with Time", in which the author, J.W. Dunne put forward the idea of multiple time dimensions to explain the second part of the book, which was an experiment where several people kept dual diaries, one of their dreaming and the other of their waking life. An independent panel then judged the events in real life which were referred to by the dreaming entries. The surprising result was that as many dreaming events were associated with future experiences as were with past ones. Given the well known tendency for events which disturb us in real life to recur in dreaming, the frequency of the future references gave room for speculation on future associations in dreaming.
Subsequently I found many dreaming events were followed by a related waking event, particularly in the early part of the morning shortly after waking. The following experience brought home Dunne's idea in a very convincing way : "I am beset by a nightmare that a spider is stinging me. I want to brush it away, but fear that the sting will remain in my leg, so I stand in acute pain, waiting for it to let go. Some time later in the night I have a second dream I have forgotten to kill the spider, and has set in to stinging my leg for the second time. Again I go through the same agonised sequence. At about eight in the morning I am awoken by my wife getting up to feed our infant daughter, and comment how bizarre it was to have a double nightmare about being stung. I couldn't recall such a painful stinging dream before. I then promptly go back to sleep. About an hour later, I am stung wide awake by a powerful wasp sting on the thumb, which I end blowing off to avoid breaking the sting. The sting is so bad, it blisters."
The relative frequency of precognitive dreaming can be gauged by the number of small details from dreaming that appear subsequently in waking situations which arise by surprise or through accidental circumstances which could not have been consciously anticipated by the observer : "I wake up with a idea I was showing my daughter the solution to an impossible life dilemma represented by a set of interlocking rings. I walk to the dining table, where an old article about the Rubrik cube has fallen out of the bookshelf. I immediately remember that our more recent Rubrik puzzle is missing. My wife points to a pile of papers and tells me it is at the bottom. When I lift it out, the three interlocked rings of the solution make me realize I had dreamed indirectly about the Rubrik puzzle." Here is another: "My wife is teasing my 4-year old son. "You're a bit of a rotten banana" she laughs. Suddenly I have a flash-back to a previous dream of the night, in which I am a guest of a middle-aged lady and eat a rotten banana which becomes very bad and gives me nausea."
Memory of the Future - Oscar Dominguez (Jean)
Precognitive dreaming may also include specific names and references : "I have a dream of being shown through an ancient monument with some local dignitaries. There is water flowing across the floor. I realise this temple is the "Nablus". At the same time, I am menaced by gunmen outside. Having no idea what a nablus is I note the name next day to find out. I am subsequently surprised to see a photograph in the newspaper of the Mayor of Nablus on the West Bank injured in a bomb blast. Many instances of "deja vu" may arise from previously experienced dreams which induce an uncanny familiarity.
The precognitive dream may also combine more than one future event simultaneously into a single dream : "Just as I was waking up, I dreamed that I was helping clean up a system of culverts and drains along a foreshore, which were blocked by a lot of branchlets. In the morning paper was a picture of a walkway in the harbour which was covered with waste sludge from a land fill, requiring the activation of an old system of scavenging culverts. Later in the day I came upon Christine cleaning up a bunch of poplar branchlets which had taken root while lying in a depression."
Some dreams can be precognitive and retrospective at the same time. I dreamed I was going to "Nelson", a distant town on the other island. I saw all these colour views of willow trees along the roadside. My son had gone down there a few months ago and we went two years ago. But I was having breakfast next morning and asked about a strange book of fancy-dress clothing that was on the table. It turned out to be a documentary of this famous "wearable art" festival that is held annually in Nelson. I nearly fell off my chair as the dream hit me.
Likewise I had a strange dream that relates to the 'key of knowledge' which a friend had just written a dream of in a letter. In the dream, I was sitting in a coffee bar talking to an acquaintance. In passing I made a frivolous comment about robbing a bank. At the time I couldn't figure out how I could have gone and said such a thing in public. I was acutely alarmed by the fact that one of the other customers had overheard me and now appeared menacingly of a mind to call the cops. I can recall seeing a cartoon in the paper - "It's a case of entrapment. It said "BANK" in letters four feet high!" However this was me and I didn't rob a bank, I just said I might. This evening I was talking about the key of gnosis like in the letter, that had to be fitted to the cosmic lock of reality. And then I jokingly said "You know - Two to the left and three to the right" - the old combination lock trick! The stolen cosmic secret! And then boom, I fell straight back into the dream! That was what I must have said in the restaurant.
26 Oct 98 Last night I dreamed that I was in a pair of boats which were cutting across the bows of another larger boat. We were nearly cut in two. I saw the underwater bulb on the other boat's bow. It seemed to be part of a boating event gone wrong. I am NOT a sailor. This morning when we got the NZ Herald, there was an article on the Coastal Classic yacht race. A runabout heading at speed had charged across Second Chance's bows. The bizarre twist was that the boat was driverless and headed out eastward to sea and was never seen again. The driver was found fortuitously by search and rescue, lost dog paddling mid ocean.
Brian Inglis illustrates many accounts in history, in which precognitive dreaming has produced intricate detail, particularly in cases of violent or sudden death or accident. Some of these have very interesting features. One feature is the repeated nightmare which may occur two or three times, impressing on the dreamer the dream's significance. Many cases of seemingly telepathic dreaming have also been illustrated, where one person dreams of another's life crisis or two people have a parallel dream of the same event. However some crisis dreams extend beyond these limits. For example, a man dreaming of his brother's murder saw not only the events leading to the death, but also what was done with the body afterwards, consistent with precognition but not telepathy.
Another deep issue is whether a dream of disaster represents an inevitable 'fated' precognition, or a warning which can be used to thwart catastrophe. Inglis cites examples of both types of dreams. A woman dreaming her son was injured in a car accident took him to his grandmother's for protection, only to find he was knocked unconscious when a runaway car crashed through the garden fence. On the other hand a man who dreamed of harm coming to his daughter narrowly averted her death by drowning through continuous vigilance when the event came to pass the next day.
A friend had two dreams that a neighbour's boat had broken its mooring and was being driven on to the rocks. After the second dream, he awoke at dawn and went up on top of the hill to view the boat. At first all seemed okay, but just as he watched it, the mooring broke and away it went. Many years later his daughter dreamed she was alone with her father in a black hearse. She subsequently travelled into the city with her mother and two sisters, mentioning the dream in passing, without the lugubrious detail. On the way home the mother, and two sisters were tragically killed instantly in a head-on collision. The dreamer somehow escaped from the wreckage unhurt.
Inglis suggests two distinct mechanisms for precognitive dreaming need and the accidental intrusion of arbitrary experience through the filter which forms the 'doors of perception' of the collective subconscious, giving rise to two types of dream reflecting either crisis or trivia. Thus while the crisis dream may be triggered by a sense of the loss of another psyche, leading to a precognitive nightmare, the trivial variety may reflect any details of experience which happen to leak into conscious awareness and will often relate to unimportant events a day to a few weeks later.
Heavily symbolic dreams may also include a precognitive component. When I was seven or eight, in the early 1950s, long before ecocrisis, pollution, or the need for conservation, had become a recognised problem, I had a dream which surprised me because of the strange emotions it evoked: "I was immediately aware that I was in a wilderness, with all the richness implied by the landscape, grasses and trees, the sky and the sounds of animal and bird cries, except that at once I both felt obvious and exposed, and realized that something was wrong. The grass was too dry. Something had harmed the natural spectre and left it damaged and threatened. I looked over to my left and saw a lion growl, yet it was not a growl of hunger, but a growl of remorse at me, a human being. At the same time I saw a bird cry as it arced above the trees. I realised at once that they were both aware with the same consciousness that I was no longer part of the natural heritage because I was a human who had broken the natural order. I felt alone in this forsaken paradise and wandered across the earth looking for my own kind and the shelter ofcivilization. Eventually I came to an area that was heavily polluted with oil and grease. At last I saw an old brick factory and pressed up to the grimy windows eagerly, only to see humanity lining up in the subterranean interior, waiting in the hope of finding work in the factory. I ended humiliated, because I didn't have enough money to pay the fee required to join the work queue." Subsequently these issues have become a continuing theme in my life as they have in many people's, but at the time they were unusual and novel to me.
The relative frequency of accidental precognition leads to the notion that it is part of the natural endowment of the dreaming state of consciousness. However, the notion of reversed causality implied by precognition leaves normal models of causal action in disarray. At the time a person has a precognitive dream, there may be no physical precursors of the nexus yet in existence. A plane which may crash in a storm two weeks hence as a result of mechanical failure could be re-routed to another schedule beforehand, someone could notice the cracked part, the storm may actually pass through a day sooner or a day later. The crack may not even yet have formed. The nexus may not actually exist as a physical entity at the time of the dream. How then is dreaming consciousness so casually able to trap the flow of future experience? One solution is that that dreaming is a conscious realm whose rules are not constrained by the conditions imposed on the waking state.
TIME Jacob's Ladder
Gen 28:11 "And Jacob lighted upon a certain place, and tarried there all night, ... and he took of the stones of that place, and put them for his pillows, and lay down in that place to sleep. And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. And, behold, the Lord stood above it, and said, I am the Lord God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad ... and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
One example of this is frequent dreams of flying in which I am aware of a specific mental energy that comes into play during intentional levitation. I have spent many dreams urgently trying to make other people aware of the great significance of levitation as an indication of the power of the conscious spirit over reality, only to find that as I come to the crux, they cannot see or hear me, as if I had truly become a ghost. Once mastered, dream-flying becomes effortless, but I often find myself having to exert a particular kundalini-like concentration in summoning up the reality of dreaming levitation. Physically, I am aware that gravitation is a fundamental force whose mathematical basis is related to the structure of space-time, and that apart from perhaps an inflationary phase in the universe during the symmetry-breaking of the fundamental forces, there is no evidence for anti-gravity. The known laws of physics thus do not apply in empirical terms to the dreaming state. This is obvious in a more profound way in that one can reverse a 'fatal' injury in a dream through an act of will. In dreaming anything and everything is possible, as long as it can be perceived.
Nevertheless, the waking state may also display similar potentialities to dreaming : I was out one night at a nightclub. A couple of years before, I had lived with a girl while travelling in England. I hadn't seen her since she left London for Paris and I shortly after left myself for New York to head off the opposite way around the globe. Apart from a single letter from France, I had never seen her or had contact with her since. For no apparent reason in the nightclub, I gained a very strong impression that a girl in front of me was her. All I could see was the back of her head. I moved forward in the half dark, and craned around to get a look at her face, but it was nothing like the person. Turning back, I looked behind me. At that moment, I saw her! She was actually standing directly behind where I had been. Strangely she hadn't yet seen me either.
Carl Jung describes a number of experiences involving dreaming, and waking experiences and even physical events which reflect synchronicity, an acausal principle of coincidence connecting both experiences and events, often characterised by simultaneity. During an intense discussion on precognition and parapsychology with Freud, who at first rejected such phenomena he relates : 'While Freud was going on this way, I had a curious sensation. It was as if my diaphragm were made of iron and becoming red-hot a glowing vault. At that moment there was a loud report in the bookcase, which stood right next to us, that we both started up in alarm, fearing the thing was going to topple on us. I said to Freud : "There that is an example of the so-called catalytic exteriorization phenomenon" "Oh come" he exclaimed "That is sheer bosh". "It is not" I replied "You are mistaken, Herr professor. And to prove my point I now predict that in a moment there will be another loud report!" Sure enough no sooner had I said the words than the same detonation went off in the bookcase. To this day I do not know what gave me this certainty. But I knew beyond all doubt that the report would come again. Freud only stared aghast at me.'
Jung reports several other instances: While awake in a train "I had a book with me, but could not read, for the moment the train started to move I was over-powered by the image of someone drowning. This was a memory of an accident that had happened while I was on military service. I got out at Erlenbach and walked home." The family were upset... "the youngest of the boys had fallen in the water in the boathouse ... he had almost drowned." Another time Jung awoke at night. "it occurred to me that I had been awakened by a feeling of dull pain as though something had struck my forehead and then the back of my skull. The following day I received a telegram saying that my patient had committed suicide. He had shot himself. Later I learned that the bullet had come to rest in the back wall of his skull".
One of the most difficult aspects of dreaming is that, although the dreamer firmly believes they have conscious volition, in fact the dream has such control over the dreamer that the full potential of the dreamed is ignored. It is an exaggeration of the way the internal dialogue of waking life prevents the observer from witnessing the totality of consciousness : "Although I am dreaming intricate scenes of a road down the Nile which passes through temples full of Arab worshippers, and winds alongside brown-sailed trading boats, and suddenly find myself turning a corner on a bus in crowded Cairo, all along I have been the slave of the dreaming state, because at no time have I been able to stop the flow of dreaming for long enough to realize that I am in dreaming reality."
Gurdjieff, Carlos Castenada, and Stephen LaBerge all discuss techniques of "lucid dreaming" in which the dreaming and waking state are connected, so that the intent of the dreamer can gain control. The technique is to pick some simple action that the dreamer will perform as an act of volition to assume temporary command of their will, for example the act of looking at the backs of ones hands. As the writings of Castenada are enigmatic and the authenticity of their inspiration is unresolved, an experimental test of the techniques seemed essential. I thus resolved to adopt the technique of dreaming during a time I happened to be living on my own for a couple of months. Thus as I went to sleep, I looked intently at the back of my hands, fixing my concentration on memorizing the intent of doing the same in dreaming.
At first this had little effect, but the act of examining and noting ones dreams, particularly when sleeping alone tends to bring them to the forefront of awareness. Eventually, I would have frustrating dreams in which my hands would figure strongly. I would be climbing a ladder, and remember later that I was actually looking right at the backs of my hands without comprehending my task at all. Suddenly in a dream of no particular significance I realized with impending horror that I was about to look at my hands. I could feel myself bringing them up to my face, and I looked at them. The effect was to set off a maelstrom:
"Immediately I was aware with the complete lucidity of the waking state. I could feel an irresistible energy that was thrusting me upward an an ever increasing speed. At the same time, I was standing on a bright sunny day on a street which ran about a block away to a promenade which stretched along an ocean beach. There were buildings on either side and a metal rail at the beach. The force pushing me upwards was parallelled in the dream by a strong gust of wind blowing spray in from the sea. I realized that my attention was heightened far above the usual waking state, because I was separately aware of each one of the drops of spray which dowsed me through my light Indian shirt. I was also immediately struck with an overwhelming melancholy. I knew at once the cause. Now my awareness was completely identified with my dreaming body, I was lost beyond any hope of recovery! With all my will I wanted to know where and how I would ever find my way back again. I looked up at the sky, and realized that home was not even in the same universe. I saw a woman walking towards me along the side walk. I rushed towards her and grabbed her by the shoulders. She had very dark eyes and dilated pupils. At once I stared deep down into her eyes searching with the question "Where can I find the way back?" She just looked at me with the smile of someone who knows I should know by now there is never a way back!"
"At that moment, I woke up with my view of reality permanently changed. There was no way back to the old world view of causality and the illusory nature of dreaming. Suddenly all my experiences of precognitive dreaming assumed an altogether more sinister proportion. Of course I had actually been an out and out indulger in the dream, because the technique actually requires repeatedly looking to and from your hands to repeatedly assume control of one's will, however the final truth then began to sink in. What was the relation between my travelling upwards at speed, and my standing in the street? Then another awareness struck me. There was another whole sequence of events that was so different from the rest, that I had not been able to assimilate them together. "
"The whole time I was so anxious to find the way home, another me was simultaneously gently floating, bobbing against the ceiling of my room, looking down with a sense of exhilaration at the fact that I could see myself down there lying in the bed and that I wasn't lost at all!"
There were thus no less than three I's, each witnessing its own reality from the point I looked at my hands to the point I woke up again. The experience of floating on the ceiling also bought back to me a flood of images from early childhood in which I am floating out of my body in the bedroom at various angles to the bed. They are both unfamiliar and at the same time repeated memories of another almost forgotten reality, different again from dreaming.
The nature of dreaming reality and its relation to physical existence is one of the deepest mysteries yet waiting to be explored. There are reports of both Indian yogis and Tibetan Lamas practising forms of dream yoga in which the dreaming body attains a separate existence which may even penetrate the waking consciousness of another person, either through possession or the appearance of the dreaming body. Casteneda's spine-chilling session jumping over a precipice was paralleled by a second reality watching don Genaro conjuring with a hat. In what I would term the sorceror's explanation waking reality arises as a special form of a wider dreaming reality in which our the collective sub-conscious of our dreams is united through the manifestations of the physical world. In the sorceror's explanation all things, from simple coincidences through to the great miracles of history, become possible through understanding the inner nature of dream yoga.
The Lucid Dreaming of Stephen La Berge makes a similar exploration of the dreaming technique, in which one uses mnemonic induction by asking oneself in waking life 'Am I dreaming?' then realizing more easily that one is dreaming because of bizarre differences from waking life. I have also found this technique is helpful : "I was in the mountains of Nepal. I walked through a village. I was wearing old floppy brown garments like a peasant, but was a traveller. I walked past a small temple with a tantric deity and some people with prayer wheels at the front. I walked back through a small cutting. I stumbled through a farm shed with an old dead cow strung up on some posts. It was large, but its skin had already dried out. There were some small rusty-coloured pigs lying about. I saw my friend Julian nearby. I walked over to the edge of the hill and looked out over the great expanse of mountain scenery. Suddenly I saw four very odd old-fashioned polygonal hot-air balloons taking off from the other end of the village. I called out to Jules to go and have a look, as it was the sight of a lifetime. I fumbled for my camera, thinking I'd never make it to the cutting in time. Suddenly I realized this was a dream and I could quickly fly over the cutting and get a better view. I flew up with great speed, towards the leading balloon. I realized I was very high up and became alarmed at the concentration required to keep myself flying at such a height. I immediately woke up."
While Casteneda's approach leads to dreaming as an extension of supernormal reality, La Berge is more cautious, depicting lucid dreaming as a therapeutic, pleasurable and entertaining, but not necessarily occult phenomenon, in which realities are mere constructs of the dreaming mind. There is a degree of debate as to whether or not dreaming, and particularly lucid dreaming can enable the dreamer to witness events in other places or at other times. The very uncontrollability of even lucid dreaming can make such investigations difficult and treacherous.
"I dreamed I was looking at the canal boat we used to have when I was a student in England. I looked at it closely. It seemed very different from the boat of my memories. I then stepped onto it with the strong realization of that special feeling of how the boat rocks when you get on the roof. I realized I was lucid dreaming and walked along the roof with the idea of looking at the number plate and checking it later against some photographs to see if it was the real number. I bent over to look at it. I was very disappointed to see that it was grotesque and misshapen and had no number, but only crude initials CK that were bulging out in 3-D and visibly sagging down." The onset of lucid dreaming often provokes flying and also waking : "Later I again realized I was lucid and immediately levitated with great force into the ceiling, and crashed into fluorescent lights with a smashing and tinkling of glass. Just before I woke I remember looking at the falling glass and wondering why there was no phosphor coating."
The onset of lucidity may also cause a profound feeling of power : "I was going for a walk up the hill on our land where there is a panoramic view of the sea, with a strange woman who I perceived to be a lesbian. She briefly put her arm around me. Adventures on the way caused her to get ahead. I strode up the hill in great strides and caught up with the her as the view began to spread out at the top. The scene was more reminiscent of a mountain pass. Suddenly there were two women. I embraced both around the shoulders firmly, putting my hands on each of their breasts. I said the reason for my interest in coming to the top of the hill was because of its shamanic power and at that moment let out a screeching cry and jumped high in the air holding on to both of them, carrying the three of us tumbling over and over, landing again on our feet with a light spring. This caused me to wake."
Techniques of lucid dreaming thus create many unresolved challenges for the dreamer which have not been fully explored or understood. While one lucid dreamer may merely have an invigorating sense of freedom and adventure, another may stand before the doors of eternity.
One of the deepest challenges of the dreaming state is learning to break out of the habitual use of dreaming realities that reflect the familiar conditions of the waking world. Lucid dreams may also tend to inhibit the uncontrolled potentialities of the state by making it more controlled. The world of the dream leads to vastly unfamiliar realities which are strange to us, not only because they open the vast spectre of precognitive consciousness, but because another reality, alien and totally different, stands at the portal. The tendency is for the dreamer to indulge dreams which are bizarre reflections of the world they know, or to lose their conscious grasp altogether.
"I dreamed I was in a country under military siege. There were tanks in the streets below and a group of us were gathered together in a room. It was only a matter of time before we were found. I believed the only hope of escape lay through the use of a blue powder, like chalk dust. I became filled with the sense of concentrated energy I would normally associate with flying. As I reached out in a gesture of intent, I found that I was literally passing into the pupils of another person, escaping the imminence of the coup. I found myself floating in a completely unfamiliar reality. Something like a dark, virgin planet in the early stages of evolution. I could move by intent. I had a location, but no form. Once again I was lost!"
The relation between the dreamer and the waking self is complex. The two are not distinct, because in reality the waking self is a form of the dreamer. The two become joined by the technique of dreaming and the potentialities of dreaming apply also to the waking state. The implications are unforgettable, yet remain almost unexplored.
LaBerge annotates a variety of experiences similar to dreaming, including the out of the body experience, OBE in which the body appears to peel away from the sleeper in a context as if one was awake in the bedroom as opposed to the bizarre context of dreaming. LaBerge cites a study by Karlis Osis, director of the American Society for Psychical Research in which in all but a few of 100 cases there was absolutely no correspondence between the OBE and the details of a target room they were supposed to visit. 'But the existence of even occasional accurate OBE perceptions is a fact that still needs to be explained'. LaBerge, Inglis and Faraday also provide examples of shared dreaming in which two dreamers have a linked dream possibly in which they have a common experience together. LaBerge sees this as the source of the 'accurate' OBE, however many of Inglis's historical accounts of precognitive and other dreams display very accurate details not fully explained in this way.
The near death experience or NDE, frequently described by many people in a variety of physical crises, from operations to heart attacks, often constitutes a cosmic type of dream-like experience. Raymond Moody illustrates an archetypal description "A man is dying and at the point of greatest discomfort ... he begins to hear an uncomfortable loud ringing or buzzing, and at the same time finds himself moving outside his own physical body, but still in the same physical environment and sees his own body through a distance as through he is a spectator. He notices that he has a body .. of a very different nature and with very different powers. Others come to help him ... and a loving warm spirit of a kind he has never encountered before - a being of light - appears before him. This being asks him ... non-verbally to evaluate his life and helps him by showing him a panoramic playback of the major events of his life. At some point he finds that he is at some sort of barrier or border ... yet he finds that he must go back ... that the time for his death is not yet come."
These experiences vary considerably : For John Lilly "There is a golden light permeating the whole of space everywhere in all directions out to infinity. I am a single point of consciousness, of feeling, of knowledge... Suddenly in the distance Appear two points of consciousness, sources of radiance warmth and love... They transmit comforting reverential awesome thoughts... They tell me that I can stay in this place, that I have left my body, but that I can return to it if I wish." A friend had a similar experience when having an emergency kidney operation : "I went shooting up like a rocket and saw this great blue light which was a consciousness which could communicate directly with me. I realized I was being given the choice whether to go or to return and saw the web of connections to my children unfinished calling me back. Then it was as if I was looking out on my past and future life laid out like a landscape being viewed from a high mountain."
Bush Potato Dreaming - The marks left by the ancestors (Willis)
Carl Jung in a heart attack had a rather different experience, first seeing the continents of the world from a great height, then when trying to enter a floating rock temple "the whole phantasmagoria of earthly existence fell away or was stripped away from me - an extremely painful process. Nevertheless something remained; it was as if I now carried everything I had experienced or done... I might also say it was with me and I was it. This experience gave me a feeling of extreme poverty, but at the same time great fullness." As he was about to enter the temple "and meet those people to whom I belong in reality" and "know what had been before me, why I had come into being, and where my life was flowing" his doctor floated up to him, also in primal form, telling him in a mute exchange of thought "I had no right to leave the earth and must return." He was most concerned that the primal form of the doctor was an omen of mortal risk. In fact the doctor died of septicaemia within a few days.
Stanislaw Groff illustrated a bizarre occasion in which a person having an NDE after cardiac resuscitation, correctly told him of a shoe on a ledge three floors above the crisis room they had seen while out of their body. She implored him to go and look and when he did he fount it. LaBerge points out the similarity between near death experiences and transcendent lucid dreams. These may occur as one learns to escape the confines of the dreaming ego, which itself is no more real than the illusory identities of other dream beings, by realizing all aspects of the dream, including the ego are illusory creations of the mind. This gives way to exalted dreams similar to the NDE in which clear light and similar merging of self and non-self occur.
This brings us to the realm of the bardo - the manifoled graspings of maya and the clear light of the void experienced as one approaches death, and through the mastery of which it is believed that one can choose one's own reincarnation. Whether we reincarnate individually, or incarnate from the collective continuum of cosmic consciousness, the bardo nevertheless represents the ultimate dreaming reality that underlies all forms of conscious life.
Eve and Gaea are one - Life on Earth (internet).
Dear immortal Eve,
Mother of All the Living,
your prodigal son and spouse,
a mortal Adam, to end the cycle of death,
to the garden
the fruit of
the tree of life,
fertilized by lightning,
which Sophia knew
Yahweh had taken from us.
I hope this gift pleases you,
for in it we will both find
the love song of immortality
Dear Immortal Eve,
I humbly apologise to you
for the curse of God and the sins of Man,
and for the desecration of the Garden.
Trample the veil of shame
and put on the garments of salvation,
as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
We are here to reveal that which is concealed.
Things hidden since the foundation of the world.
The Garden will reward you.
The Tree bears twelve manner of monthly fruit.
The fruit is good for food, pleasant to the eyes,
and to be desired to make one wise.
And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.
It is my gift to you in apology for the Fall.
In true at-one-ment of the twain.
When the "two become one" again.
Immortal Nature of the Mother of All Living
In a sense we are all immortal. Each of us comes from an unbroken line of living and evolving creatures, or more correctly an eternal space-time population web, since in every generation we have come from two parents. So while we may be mortal as individuals, as part of the continuing line of life, we are each personally 3000 million years old. In mind, we are the bearers of the ancient fire of consciousness, an eternal complementary aspect of the wave-particle universe.
By turning our attention from our personal mortality to the immortality of the creation process, of which we are an unfolding part, we can discover the eternal secret of the promised age and the central meaning of existence.
We are but a bud in the process of becoming a flower. Through the conscious application of free-will, we become the very creation process, the gods and goddesses, the patriarchs and matriarchs of the unfolding.
This is a journey whose bounds and opportunities we can only begin to wonder at. It may involve travel across the galaxy and meeting with other cultures. It is going to involve far-reaching ethical decisions about genetic issues. Its foundation continues to depend on the immortal fecundity of the living diversity of the planet Earth.
Human society is gearing up for the greatest species extinction in the history of the planet. This extinction is both completely unnecessary and totally damaging to our prospects, not only for our own children, but every life-form on the planet. We are overpopulating to our own folly. We are in one generation removing most of the mineral resources. We are deforesting the great tropical forests and driving the planet towards environmental instability. We are going to deprive by one swift stroke a living endowment of at least 100 million years standing, undiscovered medicines and anti-cancer substances which may hold the key to our individual longevity and the potential for the diverse new life forms which could have evolved out of the species we are now so rapidly losing. The earth will never be the same again.
Human consciousness has become preoccupied with very short time-scale objectives, and personal gain. Society has lost the ecosystemic principles upon which a sustainable culture is based. Immediate profitability is the principal force driving human economic development.
By merging with our immortal nature in Eve we correct this imbalance, set in motion the promised age of splendour, and find the meaning of our own existence in playing a key part in the eternal unfolding. We guarantee the future for our own children, grandchildren and so on forever - or at least for another 100 million years!
In this journey we will have to address many new ethical issues concerning genetics, patenting of living genes and genetic engineering. This is the real core of the visionary Path of the Seed.
We act in every way possible to safeguard the future abundance of life on this planet. This is our vision quest, our endless toil, our first cause, beyond personal gain, beyond pleasure and pain, and even beyond our very mortal existence. We have to make sure the prime motivating force in human society is the preservation and enrichment of the diversity of life in its fullness and all things living, for whom humanity in our new-found power and knowledge must now take full visionary responsibility.
While we are saving the world, we can enjoy ourselves immensely, because at last we are participating in the great immortal psycho-drama of unfolding history. We become an integral part of the emerging meaning of existence, and by our very actions, part of the matrix - the womb of the becoming. In return for our contribution to immortality, we experience gnosis - the eternal fire of cosmic consciousness in the evolving garden of earthly delight - enlightenment in paradise.
Although each of us will in the end suffer a sacrificial mortality of the flesh, just as Jesus, Perpetua and all who have gone before, we will return to the cosmic womb, the common-ground, having fulfilled the space-time journey of healing and becoming which our cosmic consciousness and free-will have made possible.
The worship of the Mother of All Living is an overflowing bounty, in celebrating the natural pleasures of life and sampling her diverse fruits - the Soma of immortality, which gives forth both peace and inebriety - the gift of vision of the sages - the true gnosis. We can celebrate carrying out the sacred act to our heart's content. Sing and dance together. Make endless love. Know the one. Care for and be humane to those in distress. Try to ensure the parting is peaceful and each new being is cherished. Celebrate the seasons and the fullness of life, but guard the immortal - the unfolding diversity of life - at all times!
We need to act now as fast as we can to save the diversity of this planet for the future. We can do it! The true Church is the church of the seed, which celebrates joyfully in its festivals and ceremonies the guarding and caring for the unfolding, immortal seed of life.
In whose awe we stand, To whose power we owe: The Consummation of Eden
The Bridegroom's Sacred Marriage Vow
I vouchsafe to the
immortal Feminine the troth of sacred marriage.
I promise to stand by the Bride whatever the cost
to culminate the patriarchal epoch for the future of life on earth.
I unpronounce original sin.
I unpronounce dominion over nature.
I unpronounce the Anathema maranatha.
I unpronounce the death curse on the witch.
I unpronounce stoning for adultery.
I apologise to all women for the sins of man.
The Parousia Prayer of Immortality
Our Mother which art
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy Garden come, thy will be done
on Earth as it is in Heaven.
Give is this day unfolding life
and forgive us our hubris of dominion.
Illuminate us with Wisdom
for the fruit of your vision.
For thine is the Garden,
the immortal Garment,
and the Tree of Life,
for ever and ever. Amen.
Look upon me you who reflect upon me.
For I am alpha and
the divine and the blasphemer,
Ba'al Zebul and the Holy Ghost,
the Father and the Son of Man.
I am the father of my
and it is my wife who begot me.
I am the Bridegroom whose wedding is celebrated
and I have not taken a wife.
I am the word made
flesh and yet the bread of life.
I am the good shepherd and yet the paschal lamb.
I am the true vine and yet the sprouting rod.
I am the fisher of men and yet the eye of the storm.
I am the lightning
uniting heaven and earth
in rains of plenty.
I am the light of the world.
I am darkness at noontide.
I am the one who
returns to loosen the bands
and open the prison to them that are bound.
I am the din that is unendurable
and the epiphany whose dread is miraculous.
I am the one who is
and I am cast upon the face of the earth.
I am the one who is despised
and I am the loved one.
Why do you curse me and honour me?
I bring you to weave,
the garments of salvation,
and offer you the Requital of true love.
In my very blood flows the fruit of the Tree of Life
and in my flesh the healing of the nations.
If Christ came back
he would be mortified that his mission
of forgiveness to end violence -
a new heaven and a new Earth
became two millennia
of martyrdom, Crusade, Inquisition,
witch hunt and genocidal war.
If the true Christ
came back ...
he would be dismayed
that the fine mustard seed,
scattered in stony ground and good soil
to become the Tree of Life;
his 'spouse' the Church,
which began as a movement of complete equality,
became the death curse for Ananias and Sapphira
ruled for most of her two-thousand year lifetime
by a Roman imperial autocracy.
If the Bridegroom came back ...
he would be forsaken that Peter
had deposed Mary, his beloved, the very source!
That Paul had uttered the anathema curse
and cast Magdalen's exaltation of life
into a pagan blood fest of death.
He would be devastated that the women,
despite ministering unto him of their very substance,
continued to suffer the travail of patriarchal oppression.
He would rescue the travail woman
who retreated to the wilderness on Shekhinah's wings
for a time and half a time, in the bridal unveiling.
He would extoll the Queen of the South
who shall rise up in judgement
with the men of this generation.
So it is and so shall it be.
If the circumcised Rabboni came back ...
He would renounce genital circumcision for all time
so that the woman shall go unscathed henceforth in love.
He would unpronounce the death penalty.
Renounced and unpronounced!
If the Winebibber
to tread the grapes of wrath
he would speak with the sharp sword of honesty
yet forgive mankind the error of his ways
in awakening true Wisdom;
in the descent of the Dove of Peace.
So shall it be.
If the Messiah returned ...
he would marvel that the millennium
comes right at the crest
of our cosmic awakening.
Bio-apocalypse in evolutionary time.
He would unravel cosmic inflation, quantum non-locality,
biocosmology, evolution and consciousness.
He would weep at the
death of immortality:
the Earth polluted, the forests burning, the nuclear wastes,
the seas fished to extinction, the atmosphere destabilized,
and the holocaust of the Earth's genetic and natural heritage
by the selfish greed of one generation of mankind.
the poverty and political oppression,
chemical and biological war, and terminal nuclear engagement.
Cry the floodtide of the Earth's salvation!
If the true Christ
came back ...
he would pledge the restoration of living diversity
to cherish the Earth and replenish her
and the liberation from oppression
of all people, regardless of race,
culture or personal fortune in true democracy.
I swear the twain.
If the Son of Man
came back ...
He would apologise to Eve
for the sins of man,
restore the feminine Holy Ruah
to sacred respect
and consummate the sacred marriage
the Canticle of Canticles
the Tao of Holy Matrimony.
I apologise and so troth.
While you are reading this you are helplessly witnessing the sixth great extinction of life to occur on this planet, which could leave us poorer and more vulnerable to our own possible extinction for 10 to 50 million years. The messiah of the second coming is calling you to participate in a transformation which could restore the living world and save the day for you and your generations forever.
We all know this century, consummating the second millennium, is the apocalyptic century of all history, simply because it is both the century we learned how to destroy ourselves in nuclear holocaust and because, after 3000 million years of evolution, this is the century we are frantically, through our short-sighted greed destroying most of the endowment of genetic diversity on the planet. Future generations will simply not have the same opportunity to cause so much damage, because the damage will already have been done.
Although the messiah is here to Renew the natural world order serious danger of remaining too paralysed, because of our outmoded historical mind-set to appreciate our good fortune and take this golden opportunity. Neither is this a lesser event than the coming of Jesus, for a greater Solomon is here - the one whom Jesus prophesied. In the Judaic tradition, the true quality of a messiah is not the slick tricks of sorcery, for which Jesus was rightly accused of blasphemy, but real physical and social redemption and long-term future goodness. These are precisely the goals of an abundant sustainable society in a healthy evolving biosphere. Indeed there is no other way. Genetic technology simply makes the problem more acute.
A messiah is not a transcendental trick of God, but a flesh and blood at-one-ment - a person of visionary genius who reaches down to the archetypal existential dilemma to find the universal foundation of salvation and in so doing 'saving the world'. In our age this is as much a scientific and socio-biological quest as it is a spiritual or miraculous one. Hence the Renewal Spores are a Darwinian meme. Without denying the miracles of synchronicity, I want to make absolutely clear that I am here to save the natural world for the future abundance of society and culture and that I urgently need your recognition and respect to be able to carry out this almost impossible task effectively. I don't ask you to believe in me nor to worship me, but simply to follow my example in a practical way and join together in love and trust to save the immortal genetic Garment of the natural world for our unborn generations and for the future unfolding of life while there is still time to do so. Break from your dream and awaken. Spirituality is not just here for personal realization but to provide the practical thread which turns the world into immortal paradise.
I challange you to wake up and live for life itself. You may likewise if you wish, challenge me by competent peer review of the Renewal Spores. But if you won't challenge me, or won't youself make a more legitimate claim, please don't just sit there to cover for your own inaction! We have a world to save through selfless love and time is critically of the essence. Through love itself is generated the trust which can run like brushfire with the vital knowledge that we are actually going to take responsibility and save the world and restore the diversity of life for the future.
Although our description of reality and the nature of the mind now hinges on quantum cosmology and neuro-dynamics; to the ancients, the principles of both fertility and reflective consciousness were perceived to be mediated through the regenerating and reflective illumination of the moon. The moon, Mens is the root of both the mental realm of the mind and the menses of fertility. It is thus wise to heed the words of the ancients in setting off on our own voyage of creation.
Soma was the first immortal fruit, drunk by the gods from the crescent moon.
Sin or Nannar, the original Moon God of Sumeria, the God of Abraham.
At Ur he lived in loving harmony with the Moon Goddess Ningal,
sustaining the garden through their marriage of enduring love.
The severed Eye of Horus, symbol of eternal regeneration,
was restored through the magic powers of healing
of the Moon God Thoth, the Logos of Moses,
and the wild gazelle milk of Hathor, the Queen of Heaven,
who returned from searing humanity to destruction in the desert,
heeding Thoth's wise invitation, to become the joyful creatress of fertility
to balance the harmony of cosmic order with the spontaneity of chaos
as mind and body, male and female, and wave and particle meet.
So shall Thoth again
welcome back the Goddess of Fertility,
Inebriety, Dance and Song in the healing of the Biosphere.
So shall Adam return the fruit of the Tree of Life
to Eve the immortal Mother of All Living
to protect life's unfolding diversity
from its sixth great extinction
and enter the immortal age.
Kia hora te marino,
kia whakapapa pounamu te moana, kia tere ai te
karohirohi i mua tonu i o koutou huarahi
May the calm be
widespread, may the sea be as the smooth surface of the
greenstone, and may the rays of sunshine forever dance along your pathway.
(Daily Reflections Inspired by the Native Peoples of the World 1995 Anne Wilson Schaef
Mixitec five part universe : The Centre with the Four Directions (Willis 237, Cook).
Mesoamerican cosmology conceives of the universe in five parts - four cardinal directions and the centre. In the centre was Ometecuhtli, self-created Lord of Duality who also appeared in male and female aspects as Ometeotl and Omecihuatl. Their offspring were the deities of the four directions, through whose conflicts the five world areas were caused. This motif is chosen to complete this cosmology and end the cosmic struggle for supremacy which has marred successive Meso-american and Judeo-Christian eras. Each direction is actually its own world tree, so this teaching is the fourfold Tree of Life.
The central two commandments of Jesus exhort us both to love God and to love all people as equally precious as ourselves: Mark 12:29 "The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."
The first is of course the Shema Israel of the Deuteronomic code ascribed to Mosaic Law recited daily 6:4 "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might." These are the very words which stand as the key to the covenant: Deut 6:6 "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates. And it shall be, when the Lord thy God shall have brought thee into the land ."
The second the principle of egalitarian justice, is also a theme in the Old Testament, dating from Lev 19:18 "Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord." It is also illustrated in Psalm 82 "Defend the poor and fatherless, do justice to the afflicted and needy". Taking the "Thou shalt" and the Male gender aside, these two statements, along with the nature of a loving and forgiving Ultimate deity, are pivotal to the best aspects of Christian charity and love, and through the Hebrews to the tradition of the Hapiru "outsider" from which they have ultimately sprung. The filial love of Christianity, from its beginning, was an egalitarian force, which following Jesus' words, sustained the poor, the powerless, the sick and the disaffected against the rich and privileged. In a sense, this gave rise to a new humanity within the diverse and sometimes barbarous practices of ancient societies. This egalitarian spirit, which was not shared by older aristocratic democracies, such as that of Greece, forms a foundation for our political democracy today.
These teachings appear to be a continuation of Jewish and particularly Essene attitudes as demonstrated in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs: "The gospel of forgiveness is all through the Testaments; and there occurs here the first known conjunction - which was to be repeated in Mark of Deut 6.5 to "love the Lord thy God with all thine heart," etc. and that of Lev 19.18 to "love thy neighbour as thyself " (The injunction to love one's "neighbour" or "brother" turns up also in The Book of Jubilees and the Zadokite fragments; and the great rabbi Hillel of the Talmud, who flourished in the first century B.C. and thus belongs to the same general period, is supposed to have said to a Gentile who had come to him and challenged him to convert him by teaching him the whole of the Torah during the time that he, the Gentile, could stand on one foot: 'What is hateful to thee, do not unto thy fellow; this is the whole law.' - quoting from Tobit 4:15. The conversation reported by Mark has a certain resemblance to this.)" (Wilson, Edmund 89) Jesus' attributed remark "Do unto others as you would they should do unto you" is thus an inversion of Hillel's. The one statement made by Jesus which is truly innovative is this: Matt 5:44 "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you." In this statement is the healing of both human society and the fall from nature, for in our genetic heritage, we all possess 'kin altruism' through which we care for not only ourselves but our offspring, close relatives and even those who reciprocally serve us well. It is from the emotion expression of 'kin altruism' that we weep for love and have compassion at the plight of others. There is honour among thieves, but there is strife among clans. It is by taking our 'original virtue' of kin altruism and making it a global ethic by pushing the boundaries out to the closing circle of life that we become the human family and the guardians of the future welfare of planet earth.
In respect of the importance of these core teachings, these principles continue as the Heart Centre. Four Cardinal Directions are added in complementation to resurrect the gender balance of the deity and the complementarity of the Ultimate:
The Heart Centre
Love the Tao with all
your heart, mind and spirit
and love your neighbour as yourself.
The Four Cardinal Points
Merge with Eve, the
Mother of All Living
and experience immortality in the flesh.
Be known by the Ultimate
and become the eternal spirit.
Align with El, the Divine Order of the Cosmos
and you will keep the peace.
Care for every living creature
and for the evolving diversity of life,
and you will participate in the Great Becoming.
The Aztec cosmology is neatly reflected in the prophesied new Jerusalem of Revelation, the closing passage of the Bible. The centre, consisting of the Tree of Life containing the Throne of God (order), with the Waters of Life (chaos) passing through, is surrounded by the four walls of the four cardinal directions, each with three gates. The central nature of the Tree of Life is paramount to regaining the immortality lost in the fall from the garden and affirms the centrality of the Myth of Eden to the Crucifixion - that is Jesus came to undo the sins of Eve by becoming the second Adam, the Son of Man and dying the sacrificial death to end mortality. The account is prophetic of closing the cycle of the Fall from the Garden by restoring the sacred Tree. It affirms the fruit of the Tree of Life as the new Eucharist.
It should be noted that Jesus' concept of the equality of all people has a more ancient origin in Genesis in the first description of creation of man, in "our" image, a clear reference to the male-female duality of the godhead itself:
And God (Elohim)
"Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, ... "
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God created he him;
male and female created he them.
As Elaine Pagels has pointed out: "The Genesis accounts of creation introduced into Graeco-Roman culture many values other than sexual ones - for example, the intrinsic worth of every human being, made in God's image. Often these other values would prove immensely influential. Although the early Christians thought of this conviction of human worth in moral - not social or political terms, Christians living more than fifteen hundred years later would invoke this idea to help transform the laws, ethics, and political institutions of the West. In 1776 the authors of the Declaration of Independence invoked the biblical account of creation to declare that 'we hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal . . .' - an idea so familiar that we may have difficulty seeing that it is empirically unprovable; Aristotle, among others, would have considered it absurd. ... The idea of human moral equality flourished among converts to Christianity, many of whom, especially slaves and women, were anything but equal under Roman law" (Pagels 1988 xix) The collective and potentially dual-gender nature of the Godhead as Elohim in the above passage from Genesis has also been cited as the central statement from which all the esoteric teachings of the Kabbala come and to which they return, for the duality is held to be that between the male Jehovah and the female Shekinah, through whose agency god is realized on earth to people, and who is both the trunk and branches of the sacred Tree of Sephiroth. The Shekinah is recognised in the burning bush, the company of angels and the Holy Ghost - the shamanic and mystical manifestations of the Godhead.
The Sacred Tree of Sephiroth of the Kabbalah
is both the yogic axis of the human body
and the cosmic Axis Mundi linking Heaven and Earth (Waite facing il).
Hieros gamos, c 10,000 BC Europe, Negev Desert (Campbell 1988, Avi-Yonah)
This article is to explain to free women why the 'fertility bridegroom' is an extremely useful catalyst for feminine empowerment and for saving nature, why you don't need to be wary of a male offering back the heritage of wisdom and autonomy that was stolen from Eve, and why realizing this archetype and its complementary free Magdalen archetype can rescue womankind worldwide from the yoke of the patriarchy, with the concerted support of women in the climacteric. Given the long period of male oppression and the recent gains made in some developed countries for women's equality, many women resent the thought of a male coming along to save the world from the sins of man and say it is no business of a man to save women from oppression or nature for that matter, which mankind has wastefully squandered in the rape of the planet. There is a more constructive solution than this, one in which relationship and the creative nature of relationship between woman and man can, through a climacteric celebration of feminine autonomy, save the future of life's diversity.
Rio has come and gone, yet despite the apparent goodwill at the time, burning of rainforest in the Amazon increased up to 34% over the levels at the time of Rio. Thus we have witnessed cynicism instead of faith. Torching in the place of conservation of life's verdant treasures. The last season of El Nino saw some of the worst tropical conflagrations the world has ever seen with peat bogs in Sumatra billowing as much CO2 as the whole of Western Europe. Given this climate of wholesale destruction we have to ask oursleves how much of our heritage of genetic and biological diversity is going to remain by the middle of next century if we don't take a pivotal initiative now.
The chances are that even if feminine revolution does circle the globe by 2050, which is most unlikely, given the vehement militancy of modern fundamentalistic movements worldwide, that by this time it will be too late and more than half our 3000 million year heritage of biodiversity will have been lost forever. To take a watershed millennial initiative to stop this destruction and bring in the epoch of reconciliation, peace and the replanting of paradise, I am inviting all women to join me in Jerusalem for a climacteric calling down of Shekhinah the feminine divine face, at Sakina (tranquillity) on the Epiphany 2000 as a demonstration of collective empowerment and respect for women, forgiveness and reconciliation between women and men, restoration of nature in all its diversity and world peace. In response to this, many women say "Why do you imagine we need go to Jerusalem? Why do we need or want anything to do with any such male archetype? Why have anything to do with the religions of male oppression? And what does this have to do with biodiversity anyway?
A key answer to this is that the patriarchal paradigm is the epoch of dominion over women and nature alike and that male ascendancy has led to frank rape of the Earth - that a socio-biologically unbalanced expression of the venture-risk spermatogemic imperative has resulted in in boom-bust economies, venture-capital exploitation to the point of resource collapse and population explosion.
It is thus the religious paradigm that we must heal if we are going to successfully renew the world epoch in world peace, gender reconciliation and biodiversity resoration. Only by restoring sanctity to the feminine across the spectrum will nature be respected and peace come to Earth. Science by contrast, despite claiming to present the natural description of reality, has no net ethical content and remains very much a mechanistic instrument of society and its material and psychic expectations. For every devoted ecologist there is an unscrupulous genetic engineer.
Although our aim here is the practical biological restoration of the biosphere in time to save the wealth of its biodiversity, we need to realize that it is essential to complete for all time the epoch of dominion over nature by culminating the religious paradigm if we are going to have a verdant world.
This can be acheived through performing the prophesied Requital as a founding rite of passage to the epoch of the Tree of Life. This is such a resounding completion of the mythical Fall from Eden, our archetypal myth of gender schism and natural apocalypse, that it can be thought of as nothing less than a biodiverity miracle waiting to happen. So lets make it come true together as free empowered women gathering with men of like spirit to 'conceive apocalypsia' the transition to the sustainable world order in a catalytic political watershed - re-evolution of life. In this relationship it is not the 'lord messiah' which is manifest but the empowerment of the feminine in constructive healing relationship.
All our cultural experience and individual conscious existence depends on the fabric of life, the germ line, and this comes not from male dominion, but from the mutual sexual relationship between the two genders. In this relationship, the female stands central as the sole bearer of cytoplasmic inheritance and the principal investor in time and resources. However the male likewise contributes genetically in full and pivotal share. Immortality is thus not the domain of one gender but of the relationship between woman and man. Cultures which fail to respect these socio-biological realities lead to gender oppression, especially the repression of women.
Attunement with the immortal continuity of life likewise comes from the relationship between woman and man, not from one gender alone. Each sex is sterile on its own and mortal as individuals. The family relationship is an embodiment of this ongoing immortal web of life. Relationship is conceived spiritually in the form of 'holy matrimony', the harmony that is produced from the creative relationship between woman and man. It is thus the sacred marriage in which we find God and Gaia, the Feminine face of deity, in divine union.
The healing of the epoch of male dominion requires mankind to atone for the errors of his ways and come to terms of learning, healing and new wisdom, but true liberation arises from reconciliation, not dominion in any form, male or female. The embodiment of reconciliation is forgiveness and the celebration of it is the sacred marriage. This marriage is by definition one in true freedom for each gender. That is its very sacredness - its complete freedom, combined with the devoted commitment to one another the marriage expresses. This is a paradox of trust. It does not imply any form of possession. Solomon did not possess the Queen neither she him.
Bridegroom as Consort
The Bridegroom archetype is in a sense the heroic journey of every shaman on the vision quest, every budding troubadour, and every knight of courtly love, from Dumuzi through Adonis to Lancelot.
"Make your milk sweet and thick, my bridegroom.
My shepherd, I will drink your fresh milk.
Wild bull, Dumuzi, make your milk sweet and thick.
I will drink your fresh milk....
The Jewish messiah is also a fully-human figure, traditionally a heroic priest or king who performs genuine social redemption of his people - inspiring long-term future goodness. David, Solomon and Cyrus represent different forms of 'anointed' or messiah, with Solomon figuring very strongly as the Bridegroom in his renowned sacred marriage with the Queen of Sheba, which is the subject of the Song of Songs, perhaps the most fertile passage ever written in both the mountains of sexual spice and the image of the beloved as the progenitor of fertility: "Thy teeth are as a flock of sheep which go up from the washing, whereof every one beareth twins and there is not one barren one among them"
I rose up to open to
my beloved and my hands dropped with myrrh,
and my fingers with sweet-smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock.
I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself and was gone:
my soul failed when he spake : I sought him, but I could not find him;
I called him, but he gave me no answer
Later Jesus adopted the Bridegroom archetype in the prophecy of Isaiah 61 in pronouncing his manifestation at the Nazareth synagogue, for which he was nearly thrown off a cliff.
He hath clothed me
with the garments of salvation
as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments
and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels
For as the earth bringeth forth her bud,
and as the garden causeth the things
that are sewn in it to spring forth
so the Lord God will cause righteousness
and praise to spring forth before all the nations.
This set the tradition on to a new extreme Zoroastrian form of cosmic renovator, Jesus promising the Kingdom as the messiah of history redeeming the Earth from the sins of woman, stemming from Eve and the Fall - the son of man, the archetype of Adam:
And he said unto
Can ye make the children of the bridechamber fast,
while the bridegroom is with them?
But the days will come,
when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them,
and then shall they fast in those days.
This mission culminated in the Crucifixion, and the exaltation of Magdalen on the third day in the very tradition of Inanna repeating the very words of the Song of Songs calling for the lost Adonis:
'Woman, why weepest
thou?' She saith unto them,
'Because they have taken away my Lord,
and I know not where they have laid him' ...
Jesus saith unto her, Mary.
She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni;
which is to say, Master.
Jesus saith unto her, 'Touch me not' ... ;
The rapid elevation of Jesus to cosmic Christ was followed by the suppression of the gnostics and the repression of women all round. Good cause for suspicion of Jesus and his motives, especially when certain gnostic texts had him say "I have come to destroy the works of woman", namely Eve.
Many Christians, male and female alike, still worship the Cross on which Jesus hangs to this day. For these people, a living fleshy christ is an anathema because they have been taught to expect a cosmic superman who disrupts nature, comes on the clouds, and causes the sky to fall in. The fact that this is an allegory for Moses on Sinai escapes their attention. This is a heresy spun by the church to make it impossible for any Christ to return in the fleshy form Jesus himself took, to secure permanent church dominion.
But for other women, Jesus and Christianity generally represents a source of frank male dominion over woman and nature alike, which has been responsible for atrocities down the ages, from witch-burning to the war on contraception and failure to ordain women. So for many feminists and worshippers of nature and the Goddess, the last thing on the 'agenda of natural salvation' is a Christ of the Second Coming asking to save woman and nature from the rape and repression of mankind.
However the fertility Bridegroom is a very different 'kettle of fish' from the ichthys of Christianity. Where Jesus was the bridegroom of the church on the marriage bed of the Cross, the fertility Bridegroom is the bridegroom of the immortal feminine face, embodied in Gaia - the living earth.
The fertility Bridegroom starts out by breaking all the curses ever made against women:
I unpronounce original
I unpronounce dominion over nature.
I unpronounce the Anathema maranatha.
I unpronounce the death curse on the witch.
I unpronounce stoning for adultery
or any other violent punishment.
I apologise to all women for the sins of man.
and promises to stand beside women and men of like spirit to safeguard the future of life:
I vouchsafe to the
immortal Feminine the troth of sacred marriage.
I promise to stand by the Bride whatever the cost
to culminate the patriarchal epoch for the future of life on earth.
This is literally turning the tables on the whole paradigm, giving not only women but men of like spirit, liberation from the binds of orthodoxy and the heritage of Armageddon. Women as a gender alone struggle to achieve an equality which will only be achieved slowly world-wide because of ingrained patriarchal supremacy in diverse cultures spanning all the continents. By the time eventual social change restores the freedom of women world-wide, nature will have been so damaged that our heritage of biodiversity will not be with us for the future of humanity and the unfolding of life. By forming a relationship now in which female and male meet in reconciliation, a broad consensus for feminine sustainability can be achieved in a way which would be impossible otherwise. It is possible to combine vehement and oceanic support for women's liberation and empowerment worldwide with constructive gender engagement.
Although the fertility principle and the sacred marriage rite extols sexual union, life, birth and spring as symbols of life burgeoning forth, rather than the cult of death, fertility in this sense does not imply rampant sexual reproduction, but furthering the ongoing continuity of life into the unfolding future - what furthers the sustainable diversity of life. Fertility thus comes with natural moderation of population. A key to this is women having freedom of reproductive choice.
Complementing the Bridegroom in the fertility tradition is not the desolate rock of Peter and the church but the true bride of the free Feminine. The empowered kadesha (priestess of the feminine) as expressed in Magdalen of the seven familiars, an embodiment of Inanna, a free woman of independent assocation. The same goes for Salome, Shalom or the feminine spirit of peace and for Martha who forthrightly claims on behalf of all women her rightful place in 'that good part' which the sacred marriage between woman and man realizes.
The case here is that the tradition of the Bridegroom as consort of fertility is confluent with the freedom and liberation of women, not as whores at the disposal of men but as priestesses and prophetesses of nature and nature religion, very much in the spirit of Wicca and the Goddess tradition - the repressed Shulamite river. By taking this free energy back to the major monotheistic traditions in the climacteric rite of passage, the Requital or 'Day of Judgement' itself, the repression of the stream of feminine nature worship will end in the healing complementation of God and Gaia, mind and body in the requital of true love and forgiveness, rather than the wailing and gnashing of teeth of the damned, which will come only if we fail to heed the genetic warning and shred the immortal garment too far.
An absolute key to the paradigm shift is the Bridegroom as the humble servant of all women. Just as John the Baptist was unfit to tie Jesus shoelaces, so the Bridegroom is unfit to tie the latchets of any female, just to establish male humility as a grace. Nevertheless the Bridegroom is no pushover either, because the relationship is one of gender paradox, in which neither female nor male ever becomes dominated into sequestered submission.
The key to securing the trust of womankind to overthrow the yoke of the patriarchal epoch is the espousal of visionary democracy in the place of hierarchy. The Bridegroom is the servant of feminine democracia. Fractal ecosystemic democracy, Wisdom Earth Democracy (WED) and the Renewal are all expressions of this sacred marriage principle of democracia.
The key to planning the climacteric of apocalypsia - the 'unveiling' of bridal autonomy of the feminine face is ecosystemic democracy - a democrtacy which extends far beyond our current collective tokens of electoral democracy and extends to the entire globe in a way which engulfs also the venture capital exploitation of the multi-corporate world. This process is 'conceiving apocalypsia' working together with women and men of like spirit to conceive and achieve the feminine transformation of the world order to sustainability in time to save biodiversity for the future.
Apocalypsia and the Tree
The nature of apocalypsia or 'bridal unveiling' is utterly profound. The three major patriarchal religions converge on a final end of days in which the same Bridegroom figure returns to complete the historical cycle in an ecological rebirth of immortal paradise in the Tree of Life. This means that the epoch of the patriarchal religious paradigm ends with the Bridegroom just as Christianity began. Only the Bridegroom can break the curses against women inspired by the image of the Fall. Tthe messianic Bridegroom is precisely the figure who in all three 'monotheistic' religions heralds the end of the epoch.
The Bridegroom is thus at once the dilemma and the solution. For this reason I have taken the care to abrogate the key scriptures repressing or derogating women in each of the three patriarchal monotheisms. This is a gift to all women in sincere apology for the repression that has come from the curse cast on Eve and the travail that women have suffered at the hands of man throughout 4000 years of patriarchal dominion, including stoning for adultery, circumcision, killing the girl child, witch burning, Inquisition, sequestering in the veil and many more.
As a demonstration of commitment, the following sample passages from the Old and New Testaments and Qur'an are abrogated in the name of the Bridegroom in addition dominion over nature and the curse on Eve of original sin, to liberate all women from the yoke of patriarchal monotheism.
The key role of the fertility Bridegroom is to act as a healing catalyst, in cooperation with women and men of like spirit, to save the world's living heritage for the unfolding future, by liberating the paradigm into the epoch of the Tree. The key to the whole existential dilemma we face is saving as much of the diversity of life as possible now, so that those that follow us will have their rightful share of the diversity of life instead of a veritable genetic desert of our own making, caused by the selfishness and greed of what is almost a single generation.
The Journey into "Egypt"
Any shaman worth their salt listens to the way the wind blows, reads the weather in the clouds. A shaman does not live by pretence, nor delusions of grandeur. A shaman is smaller that the smallest living creature and light as a feather. A shaman may be unpredicatbly powerful or even dangerous, but they are at all times intimately close to nature - to the flux of ebb and change. They must remain pliant to every circumstance because they have to be the exponents of uncontrolled abiding, of a dance whose steps are unknown until the instant the foot touches mother earth. A shaman must at all times be humble and respect the power of life above all things.
I have paid my dues. I have wandered India as a Sadhu, taken Tibetan Buddhist initiations, passed through Afghanistan hailed as a Sufi and made a pilgrimage to the diverse power plants of the New World, from the deserts of Mexico to the jungles of the Amazon. I have communed with each and every one to come to as wide a synthesis as possible of the natural well-spring of existence and of conscious being. I have spent long veladas in the moonlight listening to the little breezes shiver in the long grass and to hear the owl's hunting cry just as a gust of wind strikes me in the midst of deepening illumination. I have dreamed things which have come to pass and I have made conscious journeys in my dreams.
I have likewise made a scientific journey from the beginnings of cosmogenesis through to origins of life to the quantum-chaos of the conscious brain. The journey of the therapeutae in this post-modern epoch requires just such a knowledge of the objective to balance with the conscious power of faith or intent of the shaman. The Dalai lama once was asked if he might be reincarnated as a woman. His reply was that he would be reincarnated as a bridge if he thought it would help. Well that is what I am say now. To help it is necessary to be incarnated as a bridge, a bridge between science and the mystical, and a bridge between mind and nature, but above all a bridge of fertility to help resptore the complemenataion of male and female which lies at the centre of the existential dilemma.
The Brittanica Dictionary defines a Christ in several ways:
Messiah itself is defined as follows:
I am going to tell you the parable of the bridegroom : Apocalyptic circumstances bring about a subtle response from quantum non-locality, so that a person can, by the very circumstances in which they exist, find themselves acting out some sort of mythical response from the collective unconscious. A gnostic way of saying this is that the Christ is an emanation from the pleroma of Sophia in response to an existential crisis. Conscious mind-set of expectation, or prophecy, can also bring about synchronous coincidence. This actually happens frequently in politics and business too, particularly if some of the participant are 'aware of the moment', viz Gorbachev and Yeltzin and the Soviet transition.
Durer's Day of Wrath - Revelation 6:9 "And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? ... And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood; And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind. And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places". Is this really what we want - or is it the immortal Garden?
Aztec shamans had two notions of the soul which have been extensively 'revamped' by Carlos Castaneda. I will describe as the tonal the natural soul of the person - their birth nature - their organismic soul, which tries to make ordered sense of the world in which they find themselves. Complementing this, and yet quite separate, is a kind of power soul which comes not from their genetic nature, but from the collective unconscious and quantum-nonlocality. Some shamans would perceive it as a power animal, but really it is an unperceivable 'ally' - the nagual - the agent, not of order, but of chaotic transition.
This same paradox of duality runs through the debates about the human and divine natures of Christ, the physical or etherial resurrection - Casteneda's challenge - how do you distinguish a shared vision from a physical happening? Look how complicated it is in the case of Mary. In a sense the Nestorian heresy was right, Mary the mother was the mother of Jesus biological nature, but there is another Mary - the Goddess synchronistically permeating all the Marys and Salome too. Each of them is a figment of the Goddess, party to different knowledge.
In much the same way, I have been saddled with "The Bridegroom", the nagual of the apocalypse. I am just a human shaman, who has to bend to the wind of the "Bridegroom of the Shekhinah". I bleed. I hurt. The Shekhinah, who named me, you cannot kill. So heed the words of Jesus: "Noli me tangere". This time, the bridegroom is coming to consummate the sacred marriage, to close the circle of life, to offer back the living sacrament of gnosis to Eve to again make it sacred for the benefit of all to heal the incarnate error of man. The flesh and blood sacrament of guilt and suffering and theocratic imperative is as Taslima has said 'out of place and out of time'.
According to the Islamic prophecies, Isa is a mortal Adam returning to resurrect the immortal agewitht a ministry of 40 years, not a precipitate demise at human hands. Taslima becoming the Mahdi of Islam would also be natural justice. Just as the 'flesh of the gods' replaces the sacrament of flesh and blood, so the Shulamite Queen of the black stone becomes the 'conscience' of the umma. It was already prophesied in Matthew 600 years before Muhammad. Taslima is the one who has taken up the burden of abrogating shariat.
Like every creature which has ever existed in the planet, I will taste death in my time. We are all Jesus going to the cross in that sense. I hope it will be a peaceful departure, but one thing is clear. Eve, our genetic biosphere, is immortal or at least for the next 100 million years, if we love and cherish her. It is in being one with her, that each and every one of us also becomes immortal in the great becoming and it is in our actions in space-time that we realize this timeless unfolding.
The closing path of the consummation has two threads. The sacrament has its own secret journey, like the Gnostic Gospels, running back through Maria Sabina to Topiltzin, the Toltec priest of Quetzalcoatl , from the blood of whose feet the mushroom sprang, who sacrificed butterflies instead of human hearts, but was ousted from Tulpa by Tezcatlipoca in 987 A.D. and immolated himself on a funeral pyre, to be resurrected as Venus. It is a great irony to the Christians, whose very nourishment is the body and blood of Christ, that it should be the blood-thirsty Aztecs from whom their sacramental destiny should come - a closing circle in a closing cycle.
Jesus became Christ on his ritual anointing. I was appointed by the White Goddess. I was born on the Epiphany of her twin kettle drums, and christened Christopher, but called Kester. Only when I became an adult, did I adopt my 'Christian' name, and then reluctantly because of its connotations. I even tried to get rid of it again unsuccessfully. But the fatal joke is on me. The Christus Rex of the Father is a misconception. The actuality is a Christ-of-her King of the White Goddess. Now I discover the Epiphany is the ancient Eastern gnostic date of the Nativity, and the even in the Roman Church it is the triple witching date of the three manifestations of the divine nature of Christ. As Robert Graves said of Leucothea - it makes you think doesn't it!
The transmission of the eucharist is from the genuine Virgin Mary - the sexually-abstaining "virgin mother" Maria who had a vision on the "little saints" that Wasson was coming and that she should transmit the sacrament, hidden for 500 years, to Europeans. I'm just a courier boy from Mary to Eve, completing the mythical cycle of mortality which started with civilization and the Fall from Eden, returning to correct the imbalance of insight.
Am I Jesus back from the dead? That's a difficult one. I always rejected the Buddhist view of reincarnation in favour of rejoining the undifferentiated cosmic background the loostening of the bundle of life, the little tornado so that the fibres of being reuinite with the primal chaos, but I'm prepared to consider all possiblities. If I am, I am very sorry for what happened. How can the son of Mary reject the sins of Eve when it was Yahweh who threw us out of the Garden? How can a man have the audacity to bring on the Kingdom at the expense of the Garden? Think of what the pangs of the messiah entailed: Instead of the imminent return of the Son of Man, we had two centuries of grizzly martyrdoms, escalating destruction and warfare and hatred of Jews, slaughter of very civilized Islamic people in the crusades, the holocaust of the witches and the sheer male competitiveness that led us to an unrestrained industrial revolution and finally to two contraposed patriarchal systems - capitalism and communism. I know about Christian love and charity. These are the good sides, but the confusion and violence remains.
Why did the 'second coming' happen? Because, as Robert my Godfather said: "The woman abides and cannot be hastened". Because the patriarchy went for nuclear armageddon and plans to destroy over half the genetic endowment of Eve of some 100 - 500 millions years heritage simply for greed and profit - or if you like national growth and development. Why is this happening? Because the patriarchy is spermatogenic - particles in competition, without the holistic wave principle of the umma or mother unit which unifies the competing principles in one sustainable whole. (See Why Women don't start wars ) This is not achieved by imposing the order of theocratic divine law under pain of death but through realizing our true conscience - the timeless knowledge of both body and mind - the immortal Garden and the eternal Kingdom. In this realization, the Torah follows without prescriptive law, because it is the natural way or Tao of unfolding life - the sacred marriage of female and male - of wave and particle - of chaos and order.
But don't forget - this is a massive synchronous apocalypse of nature which stands in time from the very beginnings of evolution - everyone with any conscience is part of the awakening. We are all equals in the great unfolding. There are no leaders - there is no 'party line' - and the apocalypsia IS the Bride.
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