The consumerist spray of chemical roses

An entire sense is being denied. An entire sphere of experience, something so utterly primal and fundamental, is being drowned out. It is another thing being killed by consumer society. and this thing is scent.

Consumerism has reached into the lives and habits of the ordinary people, and sold to them ‘freshness’ in a pressurized spray can full of toxic chemicals, or a colourful bottle of fabric conditioner.

It has even colonized the shitter, because now you can buy a spray to protect that small lake of water from the occasion of human effluence.

I remember as far back as Secondary School people being publicly put on trial by inquisition and humiliated for not having a bath every single day. One of the worst insults going was that someone had the scent of a human being. It took till adulthood to realize how these conforming kids were being influenced by the sick, anxious society around them.

Consumerist hygiene is not about basic cleanliness – it is about feeding on anxiety and promoting what is artificial to people who are trained to be insecure and overly self-analytical. It is about the creation of artificial needs through its control of custom.

If you are trying to run away from the realities of your own body, you are not going to get very far.

It is not only a shame that something artificial is seen as good, but that what is truly good is seldom experienced. Scent is an entire language, one that is being denied and underdeveloped by homogeneity.

It is not a trivial matter, we are being made less sensate. People will never know what it means to have developed scent-senses. They will never know that even their own comfort is at stake, as they are constantly surrounded by artificial chemicals, rather than what is natural. Worse they will impose their anxieties on others by social law.

Chemical roses and chemical blooms, clothes covered in poisons to be washed into the seas, a planet poisoned for the vanities and stupidities of a species which seems to be doing all it can to promote misanthropy and self-destruction.

What could be more idiotic and futile than trying to mask what you truly are?

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Noticing the change of days

There was a cold snap in late February, a late come winter. A Siberian wind brought snow and brought cold, real cold.

By some mysterious working on my being, it was the end of the worst of my insomnia. The cold made bedtime so much easier, so much safer and more snug. I felt like a bug in a coccoon!

The cold brought a certain crystal clarity. It meant a bit of planning brought to the day, an extra consciousness and mindfulness. It was hard to endure, but clearly it led to some kind of shift.

I didn’t write much through March, April or May because I was too busy being a spring bud! The Spring and the sun does something to me, as I am sure it does many. It awakens something.

I have never been more aware of the presence of real-life forests faeries – known to the common tongue as blackbirds. I have never been so attuned to them, playful and silly and beautiful of song.

My energy levels have increased significantly. I feel like I can go out a lot more. Being able to sleep properly most nights is fantastic. The sun rising at 4am means night is not so deep, and much less scary. I don’t mind waking so early, as long as I can sleep again til a more sensible time.

Noticing the change of days. I longed for the sun and now it is here, must not take it for granted.

I remember the first proper day of sun, when Britons emerged from their shells and turned the high street outside my house into a catwalk! It was so showy as to be terrifying. Now it has toned down a bit.

Summer is that time when there is too much to do, and only enough time to do half of it. If that. We have to live with that and not be buried beneath the anxiety of ‘missing out’.

Being able to volunteer-work three days a week in organic gardens is doing me a wonder. To be useful and loved for it is such an important thing, something a life of unemployment and inactivity in the shadows of capitalism denied me for so long.

The will to fight those shadows did not increase the darker they got; its only with daily small victories and growth that anything can mustered against it.

There he goes again, bringing the c-word into things! But its true, isn’t it? Nothing of human artifice can match the dance of a thrush and its song. Nothing we make or do can replace that deep inner-shift of the seasons, or the joy that comes after our long, deep winter time.

The sun is out, and its my new ‘therapist’, for now! I feel now is a time for outward growth and advance, the truly deep introspection can wait til November.

It is amazing how obviously false individualism is, and all this talk of ‘control’ over our souls. We are creatures of the world and the sun, it has never seemed so obvious. Change our conditions, and you change our souls.

The change of days is as close as we can come to transcendence. Today I note it.

The survival of our species depends on…

Isn’t it insane that we are hurtling toward catastrophic climate change, yet people seem to be going about as usual?

As a short-term survival strategy, going about the standard life of a coffee-chugging capitalist citizen seems sound. You need money to pay your rent and bills, which means you need to be constantly working to get good pay and prospects, which means you need to understand what employers are looking for and conform to these expectations, which means being involved in society’s value system.

The present capitalist system is very well rigged to make you like this. It is a hostile environment whose purpose is to make you feel anxious and afraid. Without constant “productive economic activity” you could lose your shelter, be forced to live in poor and dangerous areas, be unable to afford the luxuries which sustain your lifestyle, be thrown onto the scrapheap along with the “unproductive” worker ants.

There is always a risk of losing your material basis, as the government strips away protections and inspires ever more precarity. There is the shame of inactivity, poverty, being an outcast, or simple boredom (and all of the existential angst that comes from it), hanging over our heads. This makes it seem logical and sensible to conform to the system, even as it gradually serves us less and less. The warped and toxic value-system of our society promotes mindless conformity and hurtling-juggernaught growth over considered choices and gradual, creative growth (it might have some elements of enlightenment, and perhaps some people do what they genuinely love to enrich the soul of man, but we are talking about the masses).

So in the short-term, it makes sense to be a conforma-drone. I imagine that most people don’t know any different from their lives as exploited proletarians, whose biggest offering to society is the sale of their labour to larger, more powerful entities. If they do know of alternative ways of life, it is as an intellectual exercise, an “utopian ideal” which is all well and good, but cannot get in the way of all this labour-selling and moral underachievement.

But in the long-term, there is no species survival in it. The sum  total of the “its just my job” people, all of the “I have a mortgage to pay” people, all of the “my boss might fire me” people and all the “I don’t have a choice” people is a dystopian hell. If the world was left in the hands of such unimaginative souls, we would truly be approaching the end times.

Fortunately, the blinkered short-term thinkers are redeemed by those who see into the long-term; those who have foreseen the cliff that human civilization is hurtling towards. Such people have been around for decades. It is generally such activists and scientists who have taken risks in the short-term; the risk of destitution and humiliation, the risk of imprisonment and punishment, for the long-term survival strategy of evolving our society.

Imagine if all of those activists never took action because they had to work in a supermarket to sustain their mundane lives. Imagine if all of those climate scientists let the powerful corporations silence them, because they had to put their families and reputations above the truth. They would be as much underachievers as anyone who cannot see beyond capitalism and its destructive effects on the present, and the future to come. This is not to separate people into black and white categories of hero and drone, it is to say that most of us can, and should, rise up and strive for the true freedom which can only come in a free, equal, sustainable society.

It is not easy to think ahead – it is extremely anxiety inducing, and not always understood by people why such thinking is important. The future is unpredictable, we cannot map it out anymore than we know which way to turn in life’s labyrinth.

But we can learn from the paths we take, prepare ourselves with a shield and a big ball of wool to help protect us against danger and navigate what lies before us. We can look back on the past and learn from our mistakes, and vow to never again repeat them. Perhaps someday we will live in a world where short-term survival strategies are in harmony with the long-term, but that is a world we must earn.

We are coming to the point where we no longer have a choice but to risk a society-wide evolutionary experiment or face further catastrophe. Perhaps we are already at that point.

But thanks to the rebels (who are increasingly becoming the mainstream) I have hope that there is a future for us, and for our living world.

 

Frail

Frail is life on this orb

And we all eventually die.

 

The most hard-hearted man

Clutches his pillow like a child

Dreams of a great hand stroking his hair

And a warm blanket around him

The gush of milk through his mouth

Because he is frail, as we are all frail.

 

Any insult to his paper-thin ego

Spears through his armour and reminds

That he is a frail, fleshy thing

Reaching for an immortal light

He can never reach.

 

Did you know that all war and violence

Comes from the failure to accept

How frail we really are?

 

Our DNA, our bones, our species legacy

The mysterious thing that will survive us;

That alone is not frail.

It will fight to the end, boxing with eternity

Defying the impossible to survive

Like weeds clinging to the bricks of a house

Or an insect roaming over a savannah of concrete

Like lice nesting inside an eaten-out corpse

Or a lost chick forced to be courageous,

That spirit alone can survive us.

 

God cannot save us

Science cannot sustain us

Nature will eventually devour us.

Sometimes I see a mocking skull

Appear at moments of misfortune

And laugh at us!

 

But it is all OK.

 

When a campfire burns,

Some embers fly high

Others are dragged down,

But all are swiftly put out.

 

This is just how it is.

Imagine you were offered a pill…

Imagine you were offered a pill. Upon swallowing that small, white, round thing, you would cease to feel any of the symptoms of depression or anxiety disorders.

No more insomnia, no more panic, no more suicidal thoughts, no more angst, no more awkwardness, no more feeling isolated, no more feeling like an alien, no more despair.

All of these things would vanish in a matter of minutes, and they would never return. The rate of relapse would be 0%, the pill was that perfect.

Would you take it?

If you have, then you may have just destroyed a large part of yourself in one fell swoop. Seeking a purely medical solution to a spiritual problem, you would have abnegated responsibility to discover yourself, betrayed your soul in a Faustian pact.

Imagine the power it would give the manufacturers of such pills, to dominate others in such a way. Surrendering to them, you would be free from one terrible affliction but, as the saying goes, out of the frying pan and into the fire.

Depression and anxiety can get in the way of ‘life’, but then, what is this life and why should we live it in this way? Insomnia can ruin a work routine, but why would the deepest part of yourself commit such self sabotage? Could it be that the routine itself is the problem, more so than the insomnia?

I see my mental health problems as a quest, an immense riddle, one that cannot be easily sidestepped or shut down. It is useful to sometimes be free from it, distracted or medicated in extreme situations, but only as a break from it, not a total transcendence. As much as I have been on my knees and begged Mephistopheles to take away the anxiety, the vulnerability, the despair, I don’t really mean it.

These dark feelings and deep shadows are there for a reason. If they were not, they would not be there. If you have any degree of sensitivity, you will look upon the world and feel as much of its despair as you do its joy. We are in a troubled time, politically, ecologically, economically, spiritually, you name it. Our systems are failing, and many of us are clinging on to them to the bitter end, for, to use another cliché, better the devil you know.

But there are those of us who, at the very core of our souls, feel absolute revulsion for these broken systems and the price they are exacting on humanity and the world of beasts and plants. This albatross around our necks (there he goes again!) is a necessary one, and is in fact the only real hope of change.

Imagine you were reading a novel, a fantastical one where a hero must overcome herself, confront her deepest demons and strive to discover what is truly inside herself. She may never fully triumph, never fully reach some ‘enlightenment’ or god of healing, but the journey she makes, the heroism of her character,  the artfulness of her life, all of these things are inseparable from her. If the hero of the tale simply popped a pill and lost all motivation or drive to self-discovery, then what a terrible tale that would make. It would be trumpeting complacency as the highest virtue.

Complacency is the curse of civilization, for all complacent civilizations are swift to collapse into decadence. The shadow that stalks us, forcing us to evolve, to get better – this is what drives change.

The pill of all-healing would return us to complacency, and thus to the destruction of our true selves. Such ‘light’ cannot exist in our grey world without doing immense harm to the chaotic, beautiful balance we live in. Already people hide from their emotions by wearing the masks of capitalism and individualism. The price the world is paying for this is immense.

I live in my own shadow, a much taller and more powerful version of myself, and I would not magick that looming power away for anything, or anyone.

There is no pill that can take away all of our problems. But there is a change of perception and paradigm we can all make – to see depression and darkness as a sign that something is wrong out there, and thus drive us, when our energy returns to us, to change it.

 

Abandonment

I have been experimenting recently with staying away from the nest.

It was the built-up feelings of frustration that propelled me out. I remember a day of boldness and surety, really striving to carve out a place for me in the world.

The next day the momentum started to wear off. I was somewhere without my own personal, safe space. Back to the nest, and then away again.

But this time away meant feeling a strong sense of abandonment and desolation. I had a feeling that the spirit inside would not let me sleep, so I left, cleaving through the night to return to the dark nest.

On that night journey back I felt little of the usual fear. It was like the subconscious was projecting out onto everything, it did not really seem real; things did not seem as they were but only a figment of myself. Symbols representing something beyond my knowledge.

I listened to the spirit and it felt a lot more comfortable on its return. Waking up in the small hours of night I felt a strong sense of abandonment and desolation, and at the fringes of that a fear of self-harm or destruction. An underlining depression and dread.

I cannot quite explain it, only to say it is right at the front of the chest. I am glad I was in a familiar place when dealing with such emotions, because I was able to get through them without much alarm. In an unfamiliar place, it could have been much harder.

Life is not going to be as easy as moving away from abusives to somewhere safe. On my own is not exactly safe, and unfamiliar is not exactly safe. There has to be a careful back and forth until somewhere good is found. If indeed somewhere good is possible.

Maybe, at the risk of the depression talking, this is life now. Maybe we are thrust into tragedy and the best we can do is survive it until we die. Looking at the appalling lot of the people I was forced to grow up with, I can only compare it to something like a developing nation which must suffer enormous tragedy in order to industrialize. The legacy of abusiveness and repressed pain means there is immense suffering by default. The spiritual and emotional retardation means that members of this stunted family start far behind others, who are nonabusive and encouraged a lot more. Instead of a deranged unit which destroys its own interest, most people have a more functional organ which can achieve synergy and unity. As such, none of us can achieve the impossible standards of society, and a demi-success is all we can sustain. I can achieve only an orc-like existence, at the fringes, barely alive, unblessed by the light that shines, and comfortable only with warped creatures of shadow. Without my wretched god of snarling darkness and self-loathing, I am naked and anxious, left to trembling and the cruel punishments of the soul.

All the sentimentalism of souls and eternities and objective meaning are just there so that we never have to see and understand the ultimate futility of Nature. Its beauty and good feeling only fleeting, its ultimate end the stillness and demise of everything. If this is the case, striving for the ultimate state of society will only aid us materially; existentially nothing would have changed. People will suffer anxiety disorders and depressions under socialism. Not because of oppression and injustice, but because this is the legacy of evolution. Humanity will always find something to make itself miserable, as much as it strives to change and struggle for better. All human effort, a vigourous struggle to swim to the surface, but never does a foot step upon the shores of elysium.

Well, that was a depressing tangent! It feels true to express it, painful though it is. For some reason I also find it utterly hilarious. Do I believe such nihilism? Some part of me must do.

The other reveres Elder trees and sings of optimism through bleakness, always seeing light on the other end of the cavern.

Out of isolation, into total communion

What is isolation but to feel that your suffering is unique to you, and that no one else could possibly understand what is occurring inside you?

The fragmented society of individuals, where people walk by without knowing you, means you can be surrounded by any amount of quantity, but no quality. A million, million people can see you but not one make you feel like a person sentient.

Who cares about you, or can afford to, as orders from above dictate a false economy of scrambling for life-boats and tight purse strings (known in political rhetoric as ‘austerity’)?

The troubles and anxieties of moderns were unknowns to ancients who had fates and gods. The suffering of isolation must weigh heavily on any utilitarian’s scales, marking the failure of our times to bring happiness, even with all of our technologies and advantages of knowledge.

The prescribed panacea to the isolation feeds into it, for it is no panacea at all but false promise. Facebooks and Instagrams and such non-communities distance us from sentience, that of ourselves and others. Addictive, fleeting and empty mediums.

Like filling a void with dust.

I do not want to be made of dust, to be insubstantial and misunderstood but who has the time?

A final cure for isolation there is not, for any of us can grow old, see their friends and family fade, and be trapped in a non-life on the sixth floor in some grey tower of dying. But for the now we could have far more recognition and true being than is afforded us by soulless digital mediums, if only there were some way to wean people away from the heroin of Facebook.

A true and genuine faith in the transformative power of community is needed, and this high-morale state is the only way we can achieve our goals of egality and ecological health. The cruelty of the system makes it harder and harder for this true resistance to form, but no one ever said a life alienated was ever going to be easy.

Through therapy I am at least able to find someone who can go into me, and in reflection have his own sentience confirmed. After enough sessions so strong a bond is formed that we reach a point of mutuality, even if it is largely me sharing my angst and mental health troubles.

This is an extreme example of healing through being known. If one other person could for one moment understand and feel what it felt like, how much a sorrow would be lifted! Then real healing could rapidly work upon the wounds and I could walk alone some of the way. Imagine if ten people made that time and effort.

If the inflicter will not ever listen, will not those others who have been inflicted?

Isolation is terrible for a person. It can be conceived of as torture, in the long term worse than any physical death. That some particular souls have endured isolation for years because of belief in God, or the stars, or what-have-you, gives little solace. How pathetic for humanity to need higher powers just to fulfil some basic need. Faith is only beautiful to me when it is a thing of aesthetic magnanimity – not desperation and feeble clawing at the skirts of god. I want to surrender my ego for the beauty of the cosmos, not for the vulnerabilities and feelings of alienation threatening within.

I believe in communities and fellowships and kinships upon earth, here and now. To serve each other as the ultimate unity and escape from the icy loneliness threatened by individualist non-society.

There is such a thing as serving yourself before you serve others, but how much easier it is to serve yourself when the others you can serve appreciate you! One does not need to come before the other, and it is foolish to believe one ever will.

If I could be satisfied in myself I would never strive to do anything for the better. If like a monk I could meditate still as a stone I would fathom no art, no songs and no stories, and these creative gifts would wither away, or shrink like a muscle unused. I need you, I hope you need me too.

Total communion is the breaking of boundaries between people and a temporary wholeness. I do not wish to sound too utopian or longing as it happens often already, in the dance hall as much as the bed-chamber as the temple ritual or therapy room. But I would not still feel great bouts of isolation and hellish loneliness if there was not this shield of ice around my soul still – so at least I can say this total communion is not yet regular enough for me!

Look now – we need each other, says the science and says the spirituality, so isn’t it time to put money where mouths are act upon this however we can?

Euphoric

It is important to remember and celebrate these days. When a weight has been lifted, when a cloud has passed, when the birds are piping at the dawnlight.

The why is hard to explain, if explanation is needed or possible. I just feel like all of my joints are made of a pleasantly squishy jelly and my central nervous system is reclined in a hammock hanging from an Indian pea tree.

Perhaps the many weeks of crushing weight and darkness have made this relative normality feel like euphoria. Perhaps this is the call of Spring, the first buds preparing to awaken – a time I associate with great wellbeing and expansion.

A particularly good session in psychotherapy last week changed phases from some bubble of Winter drear, and another session yesterday helped me to change the way I see Winter and darkness. Not things to be escaped, but lessons to be learned. The more we try to shy away from hard feelings, the more surely they return.

I seek not the positive in them, but rather just to be with them, as part of some balanced whole. After all, the darkness is also part of who I am. And how much more pleasant these days when they follow the hard toil of emotional work.

I have worked really hard these last few weeks! On everything – even sleeping was a labour and a worry. I have worked harder than most ever will. This euphoria is the result of that, the weekend of a strained soul. As a mason who spends years building a new house spends his first night away from the elements by the warmth of a fire, I have gone ways to building a place I can call home inside myself, cultivating safety, self-forgiveness, strength.

Many things – I have worked hard and cleverly. Time to get the peace I deserve!

Believe me when I say there is hope. Even if it does not feel like your good works are being instantly rewarded, by treating yourself well you are putting “money” in life’s wellbeing “bank” (if you will excuse the horribly capitalist metaphor).

I do not think we can fully choose when the results come, but we can open ourselves up to the possibility by living well, being in therapy, finding useful herbs and medicines that work for us, and so forth.

Just know that the good times will come, whatever you have been through. Your self-healing processes are at work if you allow to do their thing, and be patient. Something I struggle with, but am now much learning.

We need Winter for Spring and Darkness for Light. Lessons I am learning, acceptance, being with, silence, patience. As much as I endured the elements, now I must enjoy the fruits.

That is what today is for, and that is what I shall do.

 

Beneath a bright moon

Beneath a bright moon last night

I stared up on my knees.

A religious experience, of awe and connection.

Trembling, tormented contrition

For becoming an addict of petty stimulation

Going nowhere, shutting off nature

Needing the pain of another sleepless night

Beneath the bright moon to remind me

How I once shared its glory

And walked much more freely

Through winter cold

The scrape of bramble-thorns

On my clothes.

 

I feel sometimes a traitor to the cause

Of life on earth, natural gods

Yet I do not spite myself

Or feel much more than disappointment

None of us can afford to take the whole world

On our shoulders

No one is fully responsible

For the themes within us

For the madness of civilization.

All we can do is recognise this

Gradually realigning ourselves

To the order and chaos of gods such as bright moon

For we are half a chaos race

Chaos a necessity for our hearts to beat

And our souls to taste vital forces.

This the ego, seeking security

Seeking eternity, cannot accept

And so the gentle war inside me

And all of us who are not wholly wolf!

 

Beneath a bright moon last night I found a god

That was as much me as I was it

One of many, an ancient force.

I will not forget you again, my celestial

I will remember that I am a shard of your power

And eventually be magnanimous again.