Task of the brave

To mend what was broken
To heal what was wounded
To find what was lost
To restore what was ruined
To raise what was fallen
To love what was neglected
To fill what was empty
To seed what was barren
This is your task, hortzosh.

But to find why these tragedies
Came to pass in the first place;
To stop evil from triumphing again
*This* is the task of the wizards.

The wizards…

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Contradictions

So many contradictions have been unravelling in me recently. It has been an endeavour of two parts: one part an intellectual challenge of ‘Western thinking’ and one part delving into my deepest emotions and lived experience of subconscious wounding. The former I have some degree of direction over, the latter has largely happened to me.

The ‘Western Mind’ wants answers! The problem is, often life’s answers are contradictory. But it wants one anyway and this leads it in circles, or even, disastrously, to throw up its arms and say ‘this just doesn’t make sense!’ or ‘that is just the way it is!’ When it comes to abuse and psychology, this is dangerous. Such lack of understand perpetuates the vileness of abuse, and makes a mystery of something which is uncomfortable, but nowhere near as arcane as it may seem.

At any time there are two forces at work, conscious and unconscious. What the unconscious wounded self seeks, may not be what the conscious mind desires. Hence why you can get what you want without knowing why, or get what you want even if it acts against your own wellbeing. People who deal with only the conscious mind, who deny things such as the need to resolve wounds, who naively and arrogantly think they can just override the subconscious, are those most likely to continue destructive patterns. They are also the most likely to be confused, looking for black or white answers and motivations. But something can be black and white at the same time, and this must first be accepted to truly challenge and understand abusive relations.

Contradictions

There are so many contradictions inherent in us, in you, in me. The greatest in my view is the wounded self. As a child one is helpless, in the guardianship of two or more adults. The wounds of that early era go deep, and we all have them. But some people have more wounds than others. A painful childhood, helpless, hurt, wounded, leaves deep scars. There is a fundamental contradiction: no matter how cruel a parent, a child is small and vulnerable, they also need their guardians, who are large and in control.

So when a child is abused and hurt by their guardians, they have contradictory ideas at the core of their subconscious.  A child abused will learn whatever strategies they can to deal with a seemingly impossible, inescapable and traumatic experience. These strategies can be carried into adulthood. They evolved for a reason, they had their place, and they are a valid part of their being; when they are used effectively. Yet the love and  desire for attachment they feel for their guardians, from an age when they could know no better, also remains. They may want to please their guardians, or even heal their wounds with love. This duty to love is shored up by the values a parent can force into their young – and you don’t have to believe in them for them to work on your subconscious. Simultaneous to belief in obedience and parental authority (i.e. the seeds of abuse), you could believe in dignity and mutual respect. The result is a mangled contradiction.

I want to stand up to these abusive tyrants who caused so much damage, but my deepest core trembles at this great blasphemy. I want to be respected and treated as an equal, yet my deepest core wants to surrender and be cared for by my guardians.

One ultimately has to choose. Do you want to relate with abusers who will likely never change their ways, who will deceive and confuse, hurting themselves and others till the day they die? Or, do you want to learn strategies to cope, and find people who will help you live without that fundamental connection, to stand in truth and face the consequences of such a decision?

What else can I advocate for but that which I truly believe in, at the core of my being. To be free from contradiction, to stand for truth.

Without a font of expression, the contradictory feelings remain in the body, deep, deep at the core. They can make bad feeling seem inevitable and arcane, instigating depression. A child wounded will carry rage at their helplessness into adulthood, lashing out at others without truly knowing why. One of gentler aspect may hurt themselves, with no means of resolving the energies inside them. One who seeks not to understand themselves is the one who is capable of greatest evil. One who denies the power of the deeps, is hiding in cowardice from their own shadows.

Healing the wounded child

The shift away from wounded child to adult is harder than it may seem. Abuse contains the seeds of its replication. Abusers will hold onto whatever power they can, whether or not the outcomes are good. They do not care about wellbeing, they care about power; the domination of others that allows them to escape their inner-fears and feelings of helplessness as children.

Thus the abused and the deeply wounded, no matter how much they may consciously long for something better, have to make that an actuality – this journey always begins against the odds. In a society where it is increasingly more difficult just to meet basic needs, this makes escape even harder. Materially, freedom itself is a challenge.

But there is, I believe, a deeper contradiction and problem, which must precede material challenges. The abused child may have their sometimes-useful shell, but also a deep distrust of the world, and of others. Such distrust is useless. It is very easy to develop a paranoid mind-set, to generalize the world of adults as vile, abusive creatures, when this was your first experience of the world. Yet the distrust perpetuates the abuse, for not being able to love or open up to new people, good people, the abused has to settle for the ‘devil they know’. They also live in contradiction – wanting to be loved but being too distrustful to truly open up; wanting to heal, but daring not to look within.

As I grow older, I learn how important it is to be vulnerable in front of people, and to see it as a sign of strength, a demonstration of trust. The only way out of the abusive relation to the family is to practice this vulnerability with others; to found a new family. Open to the wounded self, we can heal ourselves and heal others at the same time. Trust is needed before healing can take place. Without trust, there is no healing. And without healing, constant healing, the wounds ache, and people continue doing screwed up things. Healing requires an acceptance of our vulnerability, and to turn our love and compassion in upon ourselves, as much as others.

An end to abuse

Abuse benefits no one. The tyrant gains nothing – their wounded selves remain, they paint a sad mark on the tapestry of history, they have not magnanimity of character, and they are essentially the worst of humanity. The abused are least benefited, but worse so if they also become abusers, carrying the attitudes of abuse and the scars of wounding to unfortunate conclusions. There should be no sympathy or respite for those who abuse – to do so is to negate their basic responsibility as sentient creatures. Nothing justifies abuse of another, and to say that being abused determines character is the deepest moral cowardice.

Building a new, mutual way to relate in truth, prepared to face and heal our deepest wounded selves is the only way forward. It is, I would venture, the prerequisite to a better society, and thus world. No ideology or set of attitudes can displace the depth of subconscious desire and motivation, and to live without understanding of this fundamental force is the ultimate folly, and cause of the repetition of so much that is wrong in the world.

 

Deterioration / Recurrence

As of yesterday, my mental health started to rapidly deteriorate. I had sensed it slowly coming in on me, but never thought I could be taken back to that state.

Yesterday, it was precisely one year since this crisis began – when I thought my brain injured, close to possible death, on a traumatic journey to the hospital. I had been dreading this time quite a bit.

But correlation does not imply causation. It could be some kind of PTSD symptom, or it could be closer to a coincidence. The weather has been consistently bad, things to do have dried up a bit, and the person  I am currently living with (not out of choice) has spent the last week or so being extremely critical and occasionally demeaning, herself clearly in the throes of depression and misery.

Whatever the reason – and I strongly think it is more a recurrence of old anxiety – I could barely sleep last night and am in no fit state even to volunteer at a community garden. Its back to being quite debilitated by anxiety – a tremulous state that is also strangely gratifying and earthly. My body is taking over again, and it is pulling me away from the mind.

I used to fear a  recurrence of agoraphobia and severe panic, something I found very crippling and humiliating last year. But its impossible to reach those depths again. This time I know I will get out of it, and that by exposing myself I can heal the worst of it quicker. Still, these days are deeply uncomfortable and harmful to my wellbeing. Like anyone I think I would rather be able to turn feelings off for a bit, or take a break from it all.

There are a few silver linings. My resilience is much higher. I can’t turn off the feelings of absolute shittiness, but I am better equipped to endure them. I also know I have no medical emergency, this is a disorder of the mind. I know what anxiety is, and some strategies to tone it down. Mantras and little phrases have been helpful (anxiety is adaptive, exposure is excellent, and so on). In short, I at least know the limits of how bad it can get now that I am more confident and trained. I have also discovered my limits quite well – such as how much I can do after a night of insomnia, and fear the outcomes of such things less (I can at least write a decent blog post!)

Recurrence means I was right to hold on to my medication! I thought getting off the meds was the sign of some linear progression, but obviously not. Two tabs of Valium go back into my pocket and here we go again.

Perhaps this is a sign of the life which awaits me. Periodic debilitating anxiety, triggers and high stress levels. Perhaps this marks a new phase which will force me to adapt or suffer.

But in spite of all the shit, I am making headway with psychotherapy. So much is unconscious, hence why it seems so hard to explain why we feel a certain way at a certain time, why things trigger us, and so forth. I find it hard to constantly stay at this level of depth – no wonder people like their distractions and routines! But going deep is something I must do, for I am a delver and this is how I work my way out of tunnels.

Ultimately it is better to be thoughtful and sensitive, suffering your extra share of the world’s woes then to be an absolute, out and out drone. Better to be yourself than to conform to the destructive paradigm of the age, and better to be moral and live for your community than be a self-centred prick.

I don’t have many regrets – in a way I have brought myself here. What I must not do is get complacent again. Things had to change, which is why my inner-child is screaming and not letting me sleep it all off. Until I find the keys to the subconscious mind, it is limbo and occasional hell.

A delver, I have no choice but to dive in…

 

Deep are these wounds

I)

Oppression and belittlement

Leave deepest wounds.

After all these years

Still, resting on top of spikes

No bed can be made

Or elysium found.

 

A shadow follows me everywhere

Begging to be seen.

It is ugly and the contours of its face

Are twisted in sorrow

Self-pity, pleading for mercy.

In the next moment it flips

Infinite in its hatred

To spite, clawing down, dragging

A weight inside my skull

A child crying in pain.

 

The abusers take your mind

Like the seed of a rapist

Planted inside a womb

And the foetus inside

Cannot be torn free easily

And not without guilt

Or shame, the army and fortress

Of the abusers

Respectively.

 

II)

They are clueless and warped

Like hungry cattle upon pasture

Leaving nothing to grow again.

No words can reach through

The barred gates of ignorance

No sentiment of mutual love

Can replace their lust for power

Over anything, even their own.

 

They strive to control and dominate

So warped are they themselves

Unable to understand their own inner wounds

They perpetuate pains

Then fly away to lick wounds

And put on apologetic airs

Whilst the demons inside grow again in might.

 

For anyone deep in the bowels

Of these castles – no hope within its walls

No promise of inheritance or freedom

For they will grasp on to their meagre power

Til their corpses rot on petty thrones.

That is all they have.

No soul remains, and all dreams

Withered away into nothing long ago

Only bitterness and ignorance

Can fuel such wretched, barely sentient people.

 

Only outside the walls can the call be heard

The cry for help like a raven’s caw

But not so easily now.

The deranged society around us

Has closed ears, and a venomed-blade

Behind its cloak (a suit of humanitarianism

And a tie of liberty).

 

Only the cracks in the pavement

Offer any chance, the bands of fighters

Scattered lights,  embattled souls

Awash in anxiety and agony

Alike to yours, but with different abuses

And different wounds inside.

They are the only choice and the only chance

Of escape, and then thriving.

 

For it is too late to go back now.

Far have we stepped away

From the cloying circle of conformity

And the addictive drug of obedience.

Long have we dismantled the destructive engine of capital

We cannot go back now.

So all we have is each other

And solidarity.

 

Stay close

 

III)

No one can truly hurt you

More than you can hurt yourself.

The mind is like a poison

Upon a natural plant

An over-used organ, draining its power

And better silenced most days.

No one can harm you

Nor fulfil you or complete you.

This you must do yourself.

Everything you need is already in you

From birth til death;

The only real light you might know

The only real flame against

This cold age of nihilisms.

 

Nurture that soul and respect it

Try not to sell it short

Or sell it out.

 

When you know yourself

As much as you can know that fragment of divinity

Others will know, and you can go among them

In union and friendship

And then you might begin to know freedom

And dignity.

On being dragged down

There is such a thing as being dragged down. And there is also such a thing as dragging others down. The theme of dragging has been…dragging at my heels for about a week now.

I am unpacking what it means to be dragged down. And more importantly, what can be done to prevent it from happening.

Today it stood out in stark relief against a hopeless mist of self-criticism and despair of other people remaining always as they are. It stood out and it said: ‘You can only be criticized by another if you take on board their criticism.’

It is so obvious it should not need spelling out, but there it is. In a way it offers me some freedom from anxiety, and a strength to be myself in my space. You don’t have to avoid the dragging claws of some defeatist, or overly critical person. There words have no power once you realize that it is you feeding them most of that power (in effect, their criticism from without is like a reflection of being overly self-critical from within, and as we have seen before, being self-critical is the path to sadness and makes you more prone to being abused).

Granted, someone can intend to hurt you or drag you down, and this in itself provokes a ‘why?’ and negative feelings. But the full export of such negativity can only be realized if you value the person trying to drag you down’s opinion.

And sadly, as we taught that everyone has a ‘sacred’ right to their opinion and should be listened to, I can understand why this is engrained so deep.

The harsh fact remains however, that some people are not worth listening to. Nature does not spread brains out equally among its children – not even within a species (and least of all in homo sapiens sapiens.) Tune out their voice, let their words flow through you, don’t try to change them. An overly critical idiot will be so until they decide not to be, or, heaven’s be blessed, grow old and die.

Which leads me to my next paragraph on the crab claws of down dragging – empathy.

Empathy also can be extremely destructive in such a dynamic of criticizer and criticized. Being trained to be empathic and understanding, to see these things as virtues, it is very easy to be dragged into a pit of someone else’s despair and defeatism. Empathy and being a good, caring person does not make you the stronger, nor able to handle the emotions of another. The hate of a spited old woman can be the strongest thing in the world, and nothing can overcome or change it. To empathize with that is to enter into its logic, and do oneself a great disservice. Being empathic is like having skin made of sponge – the ‘water’ of the outside enters into you whether you want it to or not; the words of criticism effect some irrational reflex before the conscious mind has a chance to process the truth of it. You will always be playing catch-up to someone else’s words if you are too empathetic.

Best not to listen to some people. This is the only way to navigate the world without being constantly dragged at.

 

 

 

ZERO IMPACT

You have to be sustainable about being sustainable.
 
The limits of what can be achieved in society at the present have to be acknowledged, to prevent great disappointment and relapse back into total drone-ism.
 
The emotional challenge of building new societies when we carry so many wounds from the old must be recognized, to prevent us repeating those oppressions.
 
Realistic lyfe goals.
 
Amazing how many ‘zero impact’ people are precisely that – making zero impact on the wider struggle to stop climate change by getting their hands dirty and ending this capitalist insanity.
 
Go and live under a tree if you want, it will last until some government cuts it down to build a railway!
 
(And of course the capitalists and the mainstream exalt the lone hermit who runs off to the woods to live “in nature”. That is one less green activist and one less dissident in society, one more disarmed citizen waiting to be bulldozed by the leviathan when his turn comes, and one more symbol-fetish person for the masses to admire without recognizing the futility of their reality).

Inspiration

Inspiration, oh inspiration, where art thou?

This is the crassest of creations – a writing about writing thing. I hope it will go somewhere productive.

Already the nature of inspiration is being questioned. It sounds like a think separate from us, passing through us: I have become inspired.

In moments of uninspiration, then, is inspiration not there?

I feel that inspiration of all things should be the final nail in the coffin of intellectual property; the person who wrote the something doesn’t truly know where the idea came from. They were but a conduit, or a node, of inspiration.

Good habits and writing discipline will sure make things flow out more easily. But when the well is dry, it is truly dry.

Creativity itself is under attack in the society of the Pound Stirling. If something has no utility on the market, it is child’s play, or a mere hobby. Things need to be created to be sold.

I have no inspiration to make things for sale. The smith forges a hundred tools and throws them over his shoulder. Let whoever finds them, find them.

Nothing should be done unless it is what one wishes to do. We all have core beliefs, and we all have the capacity to override or live up to those core beliefs. Every day millions toil in servitude to sustain a machine they neither understand nor care for. I don’t want my inspiration to come at the expense of their souls, nor mine.

My inspiration is antagonistic. Not always, but often. Force has to come from somewhere.

The most prevalent and obvious source is all around us – the depravity so taken for granted by so many. This is a vice closing around the soul, and one that we must all collectively and individually strive to avoid being crushed by.

I have no inspiration today. Not to play music, nor to continue my great works. These things are in truth beyond my ability to grasp. That is why they are like magick; mana from the immanent heavens.

They will come back again, or they won’t. It is ok either way. Something always comes to fill the void.

Rather then lament the lack of inspiration, it is better to see it as the Winter of the soul. Even the muses and the naiads and the fey need to rest.

What does getting better feel like?

I am getting better. Much better. When the trouble first hit, and the storm first raged inside, I had no idea what it would feel like to recover.

It kinda just, goes away.

Therapy helps a lot. CBT dealt showed me how to deal with panic disorder once and for all, and psychotherapy is like uncovering the jewels of my soul one by one, week by week. But I feel also that time has played a role in healing.

The worst days get further and further behind you. Regular days gradually get easier to manage. Sometimes you fall back into anxiety, but it is never as bad as the first time. It can never be that bad, now I am no longer ignorant.

Whereas I was once all dedicated to intellectual and artistic matters, now I am much more grounded and healthy. I have to go out and breathe free air! I have to see people and perform in public places. My entire self is getting more well. I am learning to open the gates of self-love; the portal into the aether of natural power available to all of us. These are all big firsts.

One thing that helped me a lot was re-reading what my old, frightened self wrote. Another is to listen to the songs that my old, frightened self heard. They are like waystones; I can portal back to the first time they truly touched my soul. When I listen to them now, I realize how much I have gained in strength and understanding.

Getting better is inevitable if you try to treat yourself well, and listen to your deepest needs. Beautiful natural places assist in this healing, although nature is the ‘background’, humans are the ‘foreground’.

I will not get complacent and stretch myself too thin. Nor will I be overly cautious and miss out on life. But I have one shield now I never had before. No matter how bad it gets, I know that eventually it goes away. I have so many more defences than before, and am so much more in touch with the roots of my soul.

Blessed be.

What do I really want?

What do I want?

What do I really, really want?

Do I want a, want a, want a, want, zigga-zigga uh?

No. That would be nonsensical and ridiculous; a post-modern maze best avoided. I know I don’t want that.

So what do I want?

I have wanted many things in this crisis-year, but mostly one thing. A place to belong. A safe place, a nurturing place, a place free from pressure, a place full of life, energy and respect. This has conflicted with another thing I wanted – the freedom to explore, to travel light as a feather, and the danger of adventure.

Conflicting things, which require a balance to attain. An impossible equation I nonetheless strive to solve.

Everything has pros and cons. Yes, even the direst material circumstances has some pros, even if there are much greater cons. And even the most privileged of all people have cons to their privileged life. Weighing up what we truly want means accepting pros and cons, and choosing the right option for us at the time. But in the desiring part of my soul, that desire is pure. It wants the best and it wants it all. In a sense, it is an overachiever and a dreamer!

Expectations are high. Nothing else will do.

What do I really want? How can I know when I have found it?

I am in the fortunate position to be semi-amorphous, so I can try things .

Advice: Don’t say you want to be somewhere until you have been there. Go there, go away. Do you want to go back? Listen to your gut feelings, let your inner-guide show you the way.

What do I want, if anything at all?

There is such a thing as self-delusion.

There is such a thing as rationalizing-away the real world.

There is such a thing as falsehood.

I find that the deep truth of what I want lurks in the shadow-realm of the subconscious. Symbols can take me into those stygian depths with disturbing regularlity – fascinations and fetishes beyond the ‘light’ of the conscious mind.

Often these symbols have been quite erotic and amourous in nature, but there is no love in my life and never has been.

It is all a mystery. Do not put too much faith in the study of the mind, nor the answers of the sages.

What you are is an enigma, and always will be. Necessarily – your consciousness has elements unique only to you, which can be experienced only through you. Even in moments of absolute subsumation and connection with another consciousness, you return to yours, and you experience the loss of ego through your own self. That self will dissipate only on the occasion of death.

The beauty of life is that it is beyond explanation (though art and poetry might come close to getting a feel for its sublimity).

So what you are, like what you want, lurks in this shifting realm of the delightfully unknowable. So best to choose something, and see how it works.

There is no perfect answer, so delight in the imperfection of being human as a human being.