Thursday, July 21, 2011

Visiting Cities, a tale of metrophobia

On Wednesday of this week I had occasion to visit a city. Yes I know, I swore off cities for life - I remember. But just sometimes, loyalty to your own blood and important conferences with high-ranking people directly relevant to your own blood override your better judgement, and it was in that spirit, with my better judgement railroaded in favour of my family, that I packed my bags and headed down to Sydney, NSW, for the aforementioned important conference. Before I left, I organised to meet someone for coffee beforehand, and to sleep over afterwards at a friend's place, as the event was scheduled to end fairly late for those of us in even nearby regional centres.

It was with a heavy heart that I packed my eccentric-but-toothless Luggage, the one that doesn't have "hundreds of dear little legs", with my favourite pyjamas, my laptop, my toothbrush, and a change of clothes for the following day, dressed respectably, and wrapped myself up in a warm winter shawl in conservatively dark colours.

The weather was a howler of a day, with high velocity winds and near-freezing rain, so a kind-hearted friend of mine agreed to drive me to the train station which would take me into the big smoke, so that I could avoid the whole bus-train-transfer debacle. In return, I was to buy this friend the lunch-of-their-choice (the conference was an evening thing).

We arrived in the vicinity of the appropriate train station, and said friend pulled their car into a side-street well-known to contain a couple of different fast-food franchises. And immediately hit the anchors. I say that advisedly as more than a metaphor for stomping hard on the brakes: the road was under a significant amount of water, and sundry cars were either choosing to pick their way carefully through it, or doing U-turns to get away from it. Boats have anchors, and a boat would have been more appropriate transport at that time.

So, no lunch. My driver chose the U-turn option, and dropped me at the station. I thanked them, unloaded my bags, waved goodbye, and hastened up the ramps towards the ticket office. My transport organised and paid-for, I had some time to wait for the train, and in that time a young guy of seventeen asked me about the colourful, eccentric braids on each of the zips on my luggage. I explained how to get that particular visual effect that had engaged his interest, and we fell into a conversation.

Seems he worked at the franchise where we had intended to eat, but as their carpark was completely awash with a living tide that was exploring the kitchen door and as there was low-altitude electrical equipment in the kitchen, his manager had wisely decided to err on the side of OH&S staff safety policies, and had powered everything down and sent the staff home. His bus came, my train came, and we parted company.

Trains are an interesting phenomenon, especially when they are almost empty. They provide a gentle rocking motion that is almost nurturing and is certainly conducive to meditation, but as the ground keeps getting whisked away from under your feet it is very hard to connect with it if you would like to use the time to do anything earth-based. Tunnels are also interesting - you are plunged into the earth but into a completely unnatural environment - and tunnels that lead immediately onto bridges high above salty esturine water are even more interesting with the sudden changes of energies. I spent the trip enjoying the flickering of passing sensations.

Just over half-way there, the air conditioning no longer could hide the fact that it was feeding us processed city air instead of processed heavily-populated regional air, and I gradually became aware of the increasing amount of spent fossil fuels and rancid chip-fat in the air behind the air conditioner's choice of low-grade chemical-based "air fresheners", an unwholesome combination of smells that once had me throw up on the pavement a few months after I took the plunge and moved out of the city two decades ago, and visited for one day less than three months later.

I disembarked at a major rail interchange, looking for food. I know my stomach, and it settles when it is lined with something familiar, so I went looking for something familiar. I was served by a woman whose personal and psychic shields were so strong that I looked at her with a combination of awe, revulsion and envy. Her aura was almost as solid as her body, and far more prickly. She smiled thinly with her public smile, and served me professionally and politely. One thing was for certain: at work, nobody ever saw the real her. And I was probably one of a minority who immediately knew that, and could see why.

As I ate, I started to relax, and became even more aware of all the psychic noise in the place. Hundreds of people, all in a hurry, all stressed about one thing or another (or several things), hundreds of people in a controlled panic over bosses and deadlines, bills and families, shopping and transport, and all of them - all of us - additionally stressed because the weather was unusually violent, even though rain is not necessarily a bad thing. All that angst filled me with existential dread and nausea, so I ate slightly faster.

Guess what. Familiar food doesn't help if it is accompanied with boiled beverages made with water heavily polluted with a cocktail of chemicals only beginning with chlorine, and lungsful of air heavily polluted with many kinds of burnt fossil-fuels and other chemical residues. Twenty minutes later, I was upside-down in a none-too-clean public toilet, emptying myself spasmodically.

And my mother has spent decades saying I fake my metrophobia to cover the fact that I hate her. Two things: I don't fake metrophobia, and I don't ever cover my emotions. At least I have emotions, unlike some.

After I washed out my mouth - with polluted water - and waited for the taste of pollutants to lessen in my mouth, I foolishly went to the same venue, but this time only purchased a bottle of apple-and-guave juice. I love guavas, and have a young sapling in my garden that gave me its first crop last season - around a dozen exquisite, juicy fruits. After drinking the juice slowly and playing with one of the Tarot decks in my bag as I did so I started to feel less contaminated, almost clean.

I did say "almost". You can't ever really feel clean in any part of a city.

It was an hour before the appointed time of the conference, and time to wend my merry way there. I pulled out the documentation and double-checked. Then I went looking for someone in uniform, to ask what was the best form of public transport to get there. I followed their advice. Having taken "the dry option", one of a number of routes that allowed me to be inside vehicles or under cover for most of the trip, I arrived at my destination-building with all my clothes sticking to my skin, and so chilled-down that I could no longer feel how cold I was. My waterproofed Luggage was also satched, in the parlance of my daughter, and I was slightly anxious that it and the waterproof laptop bag within it might not have been waterproof enough to protect my computer. There and then I wasn't going to check, though.

Along with a few other people, I lined up at the door, and waited to have my name marked off on a list of people who had RSVPed that they were coming to the event. I had emailed my RSVP to the correct email address a day before the deadline, so I was obviously on the list, right?

Wrong. I and half a dozen other people, about four of whom had travelled great distances and arranged accommodation and swore blind they had RSVPed in time, were not on the list. We were going to be turned away after all the effort of getting there until we started making a fuss, then seeing another potential public relations disaster looming they decided to let us in as long as we stood quietly in the back of the room, didn't disturb the people who were legitimately there, and didn't voice an opinion about the matter-at-hand. We were told we wouldn't get coffee in the break, either.

Guess who voiced an opinion about the matter-at-hand. I got growled at. I gathered my somewhat damp shawl around me with as much dignity as I could muster, grabbed my sodden Luggage, and stalked off in high dudgeon. All that time and effort for a non-event. And a non-event in a *city*! I was seething - cities are places to avoid right up until you are frogmarched there by circumstances you can't change or ignore.

Cold again, I made contact with the friend I was to stay with, met them, and got whisked away. We were to sleep on a superannuated ferry now moored in a quiet part of the harbour. Option one for getting on the ferry was a boat, but there was no boat available to us. I briefly considered swimming - I could hardly get more wet than I already was. Option three, which we took, was a pretty little bush-walk, past boulders and trees and ferns, with the occasional flight of stars cut into the very bedrock. I would love to do it again by daylight to really appreciate how pretty it was, and preferably when I wasn't so cold that my joints were all locked up (don't worry, my two companions were the same!)

Option two was a walkway prepared by the local authority, through a tunnel. There had been three original tunnels, two of which were blocked off. The third, which was open, channelled massive amounts of water from the hill over it through a couple of broad openings, and was flooded out. I am told the other two had perfect ceilings, and had they been open, no rainwater or runoff would have found its way in.

Lessons of the day:

* Town planners are not the smartest people in the known universe.
* Bad weather is not fantastic for travelling in.
* Executive bodies of major organisations with annual budgets in the billions, don't know how to manage events, or even maintain a list of RSVPs.
* City air is toxic.
* City water is toxic.
* City energy is toxic.
* People who live in cities are panicky, angry, and/or ill all the time, to some degree. This is because they are being constantly systemically poisoned. They then generate huge amounts of negativity as a result of being poisoned without even realising they are doing it - thinking they are only receiving it from others - and this only makes the environment less human-friendly, not more.
* Cities are great places to get out of, as quickly as possible. Even if they contain friends that you've known for decades and now see only rarely.
* Metrophobia is the only sane response to a city - any greater degree of acceptance than that is symptomatic of a break with reality and a crumbling of awareness of the real world.

No more cities. I've done my dash. Never again, even if it means turning my back on those I love. The only thing that saved the day was friendship, and the fact that in retrospect I can see how funny it all was.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Winter Sky

Last night, I went outside a couple of times simply to look at the sky. The first time, there was a glowering, orange gibbous moon hanging to the north-east, and banks of cloud here and there. The second time, the moon was higher, silver, smaller, and looking more directly at me.

And on both occasions, I was struck by just how big the sky is. We are all accustomed to the permanent idea of how big the sky is, but how often are we struck by the reality of that idea in a really visceral way? I really felt the size of the sky.

I went and had a short chat with a neighbour, and later was briefly joined by a friend back at my place. Both of them were amused by my saying how immense the sky was. One of them said it really wasn't so big - it really went up only a hundred or so kilometres above us. That's less than an hour's drive, out of town.

True, I said, but how big is that black thing behind and beyond the atmosphere? That is truly immense. And for a brief time, I had a full body-awareness of the immensity of space.

Talking about it, however, did what words always do: it codified it, it fixed it, it nailed it down in the memory, and as such, somehow took away some of the vivid immediacy of the experience. I went out several more times during the evening, but after the conversation, the living presence of endless immensity had gone, slipped utterly away from me because I talked about it.

Much of spiritual experience is like that.

Friday, July 15, 2011

I Am She

(slightly damp, 14th/15th July, 2011)

I am She who is the ground beneath your feet. I am She who is the Moon above your head. I am the heaviest stone, and the whitest light.

Upon my flesh do you walk; upon your shivering skin do I look.

It is Me who is the weight of your body; it is Me who is the most fleeting of dreams.

Every particle of you, every particle of your body, every particle of your world and even every single hydrogen atom lost alone between the galaxies is the stuff of My body, because I am She who is All. Look well to treat your body and your world gently - never forget Whose body it truly is.

And on this darkest night, with My waters suspended in the Air as clouds, and My silver wheel behind and between them, I look down upon you, tiniest of creatures, on the flesh of the Earth. It is I who see you when you sleep, and when you wake. It is I who know your fears, dreams and comforts. It is I who bathe you in my love and my indifference.

It is I who flood your sunless world with light so that you can most truly see your own Shadow, and I who take My light away and plunge you in darkness so you can most truly reflect on what you have seen and on your own darkness. It is I who bring you the hardest, most painful lessons.

Embrace these! Your own turmoil is your only chance to expand into your own divinity; your own turmoil is your only way to access your own dignity, poise and inner power.

Reflect well on the twenty-nine and a half days of the Turn of the Moon: as My light waxes and wanes, as I become the thinnest cradle and the most gibbous swelling, so your life, your allotted time, your mind and your body wax and wane also. There is Growth, and there is Death. There is the Light, and there is the Darkness.

And tread you the earth beneath your feet gently. For remember, it is Mine, and in fact it is Me in my fullest self. My body is all things solid everywhere, My mind is all things intangible everywhere. Treat both with the greatest respect. Compost you everything, meat, bone, paper; and feed this to the Earth Myself as a daily offering. Feed all silent Green Things, uproot none without giving their death back unto the Earth.

Tread lightly upon My flesh: never forget I am here, I see and feel everything. Eat no plants that you would refuse to grow; eat no animals that you would refuse to kill. And as you kill, and cultivate, and eat, be always mindful of your food, and how I and My Little Ones are harmed to give you succour.

And with all that you eat, your fuels, your shelters, your clothing, be mindful of where it came from before it came to you, because it came through that source and from Me. And be mindful of where it shall go after you, because no matter how harmless or toxic you render it, it ultimately returns to Me.

I feel all. I know all. I watch all.

And in my inscrutable silence, I remember.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Simplicity of Human Minds

The other week, an intuitive friend of mine was talking about the simplicity of people's minds, using as an example the minds of the people surrounding her at the time. She found the mind of one person in the small group who were talking to be a simple and direct mind, easy to understand and to "get into". She found me to be full of layers.

I've been mulling over this ever since.

It's so different to my own experience of my mind.

To me, yes, like everyone else who was there (and like everyone on the planet), my mind was formed as a result not only of my genes for intelligence (or stupidity), but also as a result of the different life-experiences I've had to deal with over the last half-century or so, some of which were pretty rough. And everyone who hasn't lived in a glass bubble full of soft cushions all their lives will have been through some rough stuff.

She obviously feels differently, but my experience of my mind is that it is fairly direct. I no longer have things out of my past that I'm afraid of - there's stuff there that I still don't like because I didn't enjoy it at the relevant time, but nothing that I'd now disown or refuse to talk about. After all this time, I have no one I'm desperate to impress - I don't really care whether I impress people or not - and no one I'd particularly want to appear glamorous for.

Even if I were in love again, I'd rather people knew me for whom I really am, not for some fiction that I might want them to think I am. And I'm not in love, so it really isn't an issue. At all. I'm quite happy just to be me.

So I have no need to do the layering thing in my mind. I react simply and immediately. What's on my mind will be what I talk about at the time. I hesitate to say "what you see is what you get" because that is such a cliche, but I think I can affirm to everyone who visits this blog and to all my friends whether on the net or not, that if I'm talking about something it's what I'm thinking about, and that there are no "hidden depths", nothing I conceal.

After all, what is the point? Concealment only makes your own life complicated, as you try to remember who you have told what, and how far you've decided to let one person or another in. The last time I added to the blog I was thinking about tomato soup - I still had the taste of it in my mouth - and about using computer games as a field of inner battle, which I last did a year or two ago. So I blogged about it. After all, it was there in my mind, up-front, waiting to be seen.

Some of that stuff might, arguably, be regarded as fairly intimate, but what the hell. Amongst other things, a blog is a way of mapping your own internal world so that if anything happens to you, your friends and children will have at least some permanent record of what is happening in your inner world.

Yep, I started this blog for my daughter. Yes, my daughter, who scorns computers in general and the internet in particular as something dorky, daggy, and for old, rusty, uncool people like her mother.

I suppose what I'm doing in this particular post is voicing my surprise and bafflement at the experience one of my friends has of my mind, that she finds it complicated and full of layers. I find it simple and direct, with my brain hard-wired to my tongue and my keyboard-fingers. And especially since I had a mini-stroke or something some time ago, I find my mind even more simple, as I have little left-over intellectual capacity to even begin to build or maintain layers of reality or subtlety of thought.

But given that I do carry some degree of brain damage, perhaps my self-perception is damaged, and she is indeed right - I could be far more complex and elaborate than I give myself credit for.

But I seriously, seriously doubt it.

Friday, July 8, 2011

An Unusual Battleground

("Magic is the art and science of making coincidence go your way more often than is statistically possible at all.")

I've never been a huge person for movies or TV. The last time I went to the cinema was ten or twelve years ago, with a child for their amusement. It's been months since I put on a DVD, and I never hire them - the few that are worth watching, are worth owning.

And I've never been a huge computer gamer, either. A year or so ago a friend of mine who also isn't very much of a gamer either introduced me to a particular computer game, I won't bother naming it here. I quite liked it for all the reasons most gamers wouldn't like it: it didn't present a lifelike representational image on screen at any time. Instead, it presented words and numbers, and you had to construct the "landscape" of the game within your own mind.

For that reason, I found it actually more potent than more lifelike, impressive games I've sampled then abandoned, because it engaged my own creativity and visualisation more fully, and therefore was more satisfying.

Magic and self-development are both about personal engagement, visualisation, constructing thoughtforms and solidifying the flexibility of your own inner landscape. So was this game. I played with it casually, as a pleasant time-waster for a while, enjoying how I created a given world that existed nowhere else but in my mind, not even in the game, as a response to the game.

Then a contact of mine found themselves in magical and emotional trouble, struggling with their inner demons so to speak. I did all the usual things, emotional support, providing a safe space to talk, all that sort of thing. Then it occurred to me: this person was struggling with their inner landscape and "negative forces" within it. I was toying with an inner landscape and the negative forces within that.

Perhaps I could, through the magical focus of my mind, link the inner world of that particular game, formed and forged by the strength of my mind, with the inner world of his mind. Perhaps the battles they were fighting - and losing - and the battleground they were being fought on, could become the battles that I fought and so often won. After all, they was fighting with thoughtforms and visualisations, and I was fighting - more successfully - with thoughtforms and visualisations. Inner Space, we all know is infinitely flexible.

So the day after I had that idea and thought about it for a while, I entered the game and hefted my imaginery weapons for real. As I had so many times before, I looked at a screen with lines of coloured writing and numbers on it, and in my head they became fleshed-out opponents and allies. Only now I was championing a real person's cause against real forces of negativity. I felt my mind power up. I felt real force - although my fingers didn't hit the keyboard any harder. I felt my focus narrow and intensity, and I felt it seek out my enemy, a real (if intangible) one this time.

And I fought until I ran out of turns. Later, I fought again. And again. In less than a week, I felt a definite moment when everything seemed to pull in the direction I wanted it to go. By this stage the person was out of touch with me, but we met up a fortnight later. By then I was merely playing the game again - it had stopped being a battleground. And when we met their colour was better, they were more relaxed, they felt they had their inner world more in control. I was delighted for them, and congratulated them - the battle they themselves had undergone couldn't be emphasised enough over that period of time. And when I asked, the time I felt everything shift in the inner world of the game that had become a battleground, was about the time they felt everything shift in the inner world of their own mind.

All magicians (except conjurers) will tell you that it is the power of mental force that effects magical change on the inner planes. What this particular experience taught me, though, was that symbolic landscapes created for pure entertainment could be re-forged into symbolic landscapes to symbolise the great battles between good and evil, death and life, health and disease, madness and Mind. It's all about mental discipline.

Tomato Soup

There's something very seductive about tomato soup, and I don't mean in any sexual sense. No, it's deeper than that.

The other day, I was eating some tomato soup out of a Chinese blue enamelled rice-bowl, with a friend of mine. It was fairly standard smooth, rich, slightly salty tomato soup. My friend ate it with toast, I ate it by itself with a dessertspoon. I ate it very slowly.

I am not a huge soup fan, and when I do eat soup it is always made by one of my own recipes, perhaps my spicy pumpkin and coconut soup, or a chunky vegetable soup I make, with or without red or white meat.

Because the tomato soup was in a deep-blue bowl, it looked slightly bloodless, more towards the orange scale than a pure red colour, and it was as smooth as silk in my mouth. To me, tomatoes are to eat fresh in salads or sandwiches, or dried (when I dry them I preserve them in olive oil, not the canola oil commercial companies use, and I include garlic cloves and home-grown basil leaves in the jar), or grilled, or cooked up in chunky pasta-type sauces or chunky mixed-vegetable soups.

This was smoother than silk - the pieces of cracked pepper I added were the biggest objects in it. Yup, not even a single seed. It was quite voluptuous in the mouth.

And it tasted of the Distant Past. It made me think of childhood memories in general, knowing full well we never ate the stuff when I was a kid and it didn't link to any of my own childhood memories. But there was just something about the taste that evoked the idea of nostalgia for a past that never happened.

Tomato soup may be healing because there is something about it that makes us tap into our own inner child, and creates in our mind the idea of a happy, nurtured childhood that in at least some of our cases, just never happened at all. Tomato soup is more than warming and more than nourishing - it delivers us a promise of emotional comfort as well as physical comfort.

It is just my luck that the way it does that, through nostalgia, immediately sparked my suspicion. In a word, I caught it in the act of playing with my mind and heart, whereas many people would have accepted the nostalgia as real.

And once I recognised that, about a third of the way through the bowl, I was freed by the knowledge I had been searching for, and for the rest of the bowl I was able to relax into the luxury and comfort it gave me, knowing the echoes of "memories" to be false, and freed by that knowledge to accept the experience of voluptuous pleasure that it gave me as paradoxically real, and a great gift from the tomato soup to me in that moment.

Probably next winter some time, or the winter after that, I'll make a point of having tomato soup again, just for the indulgence of it.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

He was right, the times they are a-changin'.

I'm an Earth sign. In fact, a double-earth: Sun and Moon. I like stability. In fact, it's not going to far to say I love stability. Routine is important, habit is important, predictability is important. And here I go, inviting change into my life.

Since I last spent any real time and effort on this blog, my own personal times have been a-changin', also. Some months ago my home became a teenager-free zone, and I slowly spent time starting to set up the extra bedroom as a Tarot room cum office cum library. I hadn't got very far, but I had completely removed all traces of teenagerhood from it and was starting to impress my own presence on the space.

More recently I allowed someone I know to move in despite my horror of sharing space with other people, and rather to my surprise that has been going well. We don't spend a lot of time together with both of us going out a lot at different times, and as we both like our privacy we tend to be considerate of each other's privacy, so we sort-of fit around each other politely.

More recently, I have started reading Tarot out of a local venue, one well within walking-distance, the Bookworm Kafe at The Entrance. I'm there every Friday between 11.00am and 3.00pm - why not drop by if you can, and have a reading, or at least say hello?

I like the Bookworm Kafe: it's cosy, appealing and stocked with interesting things that come and go, and I'm very happy to be reading there once a week.

Other things have happened. Old furniture has gone, and new furniture has come, making the place slightly less scruffy. And my friend Avril finally finished painting me this picture:-

I'm very pleased with it. Entitled "Temperance", it's modelled on "The Star" from Lori Walls' Erotica Deck with a number of departures from the card that inspired it, and as it's not for profit I don't believe there are any issues around it. Last night we hung it across from the front door of my house, and I'm finding that I'm popping in and out more often than usual just to watch it reveal itself as I open the door! It's a lovely thing and I'm grateful.

So yes, there have been changes, and normally I struggle with change and feel insecure, but at the moment it's all been very positive, and I feel uplifted and as if a candle has been lit in my heart. Tonight for the other blog I pulled a random card, and it turned out to be this one:

And that says it all, really. Everything's coming up roses. I may not be a billionaire, I may not be the Prime Minster, but I am happy with my life and how I live it. Who can ask for more?