Negative existence and creation myths
Love and Rockets
absintheforest

In the center of space there was, in the morning of time, a great abyss called Ginnunga-gap, the cleft of clefts, the yawning gulf, whose depths no eye could fathom, as it was enveloped in perpetual twilight. North of this abode was a space or world known as Nifl-heim, the home of mist and darkness, in the center of which bubbled the exhaustless spring Hvergelmir, the seething cauldron, whose water supplied twelve great streams known as the Elivagar. As the water of these streams flowed swiftly away from its source and encountered the cold blasts from the yawning gulf, it soon hardened into huge blocks of ice, which rolled downward into the immeasurable depths of the great abyss with a continual roar like thunder.

 – Helene A. Guerber, Myths of the Norsemen

The above passage reminded me of the Qabalistic explanation of how the universe came into being.

There are three layers, or “veils” of the unmanifest lying just beyond Kether. Ain, meaning “nothing”; “Ain Soph, “limitless nothing”; and that which lies closest to Kether, Ain Soph Aur, “boundless light emanating out of nothing.”

 – Kala Trobe, Magic of Qabalah

The twelve great streams hardening into ice remind me of the emanations from Kether, the god-head, flowing through the nine remaining Sephiroth and culminating in Malkuth, the earthly realm.


The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle reading notes
Love and Rockets
absintheforest

I was recommended this book on a forum, and after some brief research, I purchased it to read during some down time.

There are a number of red flags that caught my note from the beginning, which unfortunately seem typical in comparison to other new-age guru type books I have read.

Anyone who is still totally identified with the voice in their head– the stream of involuntary and incessant thinking– will inevitably fail to see what The Power of Now is all about. Some enthusiastic readers gave a copy of the book to a friend or relative and were surprised and disappointed when the recipient found it quite meaningless and could not get beyond the first few pages.

In other words, if you don’t appreciate this book, you are still in your ego.

Furthermore, any teaching that puts the spotlight of attention on the workings of the ego will necessarily provoke egoic reaction, resistance, and attack.

In the words of Jiddu Krishnamurti,

I do not demand your faith; I am not setting myself up as an authority. I have nothing to teach you- no new philosophy, no new system, no new path to reality; there is no path to reality any more than to truth. All authority of any kind, especially in the field of thought and understanding, is the most destructive, evil thing. Leaders destroy the followers and followers destroy the leaders. You have to be your own teacher and your own disciple. You have to question everything that man has accepted as valuable, as necessary.

In contrast, consider Eckhart Tolle’s words about his “pause” symbol:

The pause symbol after certain passages in a suggestion that you may want to stop reading for a moment, become still, and feel and experience the truth of what has just been said.

I find the way the author has lifted and twisted the ideas of thinkers like Jiddu Krishnamurti around for his self-promotion appalling.

The problems of the mind cannot be solved on the level of the mind. Once you have understood the basic dysfunction, there isn’t really much else that you need to learn or understand.

I consider Tolle’s opinions on psychology as uninformed as they are irresponsible. Again, I have to refer to Jiddu Krishnamurti:

If we can really understand the problem, the answer will come out of it, because the answer is not separate from the problem.

I feel dismayed by how this author has lifted words nearly verbatim from teachers like Shunryu Suzuki and Jiddu Krishnamurti without mentioning these obvious sources. Instead, he cites Jesus and the Buddha, not as source material exactly, but more like other enlightened beings who likewise spread this message of “no-mind” thousands of years ago.

The fact is, the author describes an experience at the beginning the book which is commonly known as the “dark night of the soul,” followed by a profound relief. Apparently he woke the next morning, completely freed from mental problems and attachments and has never experienced them again.

For the next five months, I lived in a state of uninterrupted deep peace and bliss. After that, it diminished somewhat in intensity, or perhaps it just seemed to become my natural state. I could still function in the world, although I realized that nothing I ever did could possibly add anything to what I already had.

The author has written a book explaining how to reach a state of timeless “no-mind” without any personal experience of the steps undergone.

Contrasted with the words of Shunryu Suzuki-roshi:

So the most difficult thing is always to keep your beginner’s mind. There is no need to have a deep understanding of Zen. Even though you read much Zen literature, you must read each sentence with a fresh mind. You should not say, “I know what Zen is,” or “I have attained enlightenment.” This is also the real secret of the arts: always be a beginner. Be very very careful about this point. If you start to practice zazen, you will begin to appreciate your beginner’s mind. It is the secret of Zen practice.

I have become increasingly disillusioned with the work of the new-age camp, and the way these authors twist the words of true spiritual teachers for their self-promotion and monetary gain. I hope anyone who reads this work by Eckhart Tolle, or similar works, will self-educate on the work of classical spiritual teachers and philosophers and preserve that which resonates with personal truth.

I believe intuitive awareness of truth must be coupled with academic or traditional education in order to make truly educated conclusions about the soundness of particular ideas. The arts in school help develop intuitive abilities by teaching you to reach beyond the intellect to transcendent meaning.

Any work that claims to have done this thinking for you or worse, to stop thinking, is highly suspect.

The author’s personal experience of enlightenment and his sustained state of awareness is unrealistic in both my intuitive assessment and in my readings of classical spiritual seekers. It is not beneficial to a reader to hear of this experience even if it is true, because it was apparently involuntary, just as so-called spiritual gifts or visitations are involuntary. Inexperienced spiritual seekers may believe they need to have some similar supernatural experience, and I suspect many I’ve read have been made up as a result, as people with alternative spiritualities try to assimilate with a group.

If one chooses to believe as many native shamans have in traditions past, it is unethical to speak of personal supernatural experiences in the first place because those are personally between you and your gods.

The Bandwagon effect and FOMO have no place on the path to spiritual truth. We need to study these propaganda techniques, and call this kind of book out for what it is.


St. Elmo’s Fire
Love and Rockets
absintheforest

Recently I felt the desire to watch a number of movies from the early 1980s that I have never seen but piqued my interest and that I remembered dimly from movie posters and soundtracks: namely St. Elmo’s Fire, The Big Chill, Splash and Mystic Pizza.

Today I watched St. Elmo’s Fire, which was a movie about young adults in their early 20’s moving out into their own lives. The film seems to have received some criticism for its shallowness. Having been in my early 20’s, and known others at that point in my life, I feel that it is a valid depiction: it’s a hard time in one’s life, edged with vulnerability, a point at which many have a self-centeredness around them lingering from being parented. It’s a time in which many make serious and perhaps deadly mistakes as they encounter shadows and projections from childhood and have no idea what they even are.

I was curious about whether or not the movie captured the Boomer experience, because it was said to center around “yuppies.” One thing that many of the characters lacked, however, was any kind of direction or driving ambition. The movie felt aimless at times, much like a soap opera, as characters argued, made up, tried something new, stumbled. The ending took the hard line of “gotta start acting like an adult now.” And it’s true we encounter others, and ourselves, acting like adults without actually being one. What does it mean to be an adult? The movie doesn’t really attempt to answer the question. What it does best is depict the characters’ pain as they project their dreams and desires onto others, and fall.

The movie reminded me of how glad I am that I don’t have to be 22 again. It’s a difficult age. I wondered what kind of advice I would give a 22-year-old, and my first thought was, “be humble.” Then, I thought of it and realized, you also have to make a stand for yourself, because you are vulnerable at that time. You have to be humble and proud at the same time, feel yourself pulled in two directions as you adjust to adulthood and independence.


Ballet recital
Love and Rockets
absintheforest

I am aware of this hollow of loneliness within me all the time. I used to believe that it was an emptiness that spirit or a higher power was meant to fill. But more recently I have been interested in the idea of compartmentalization: that within our modern, artificial society we are taught to see ourselves as separate and individual. That our spirits and hearts are walled off from each other. We learn fear and mistrust. I understand that this is part of the human condition, but I believe more now that this loneliness that I have filled with addictions or mind-blighting behavior is the result of an artificial process and is something that doesn’t have to be a natural part of life. The pain of loneliness is the greatest pain I can imagine: the pain of being shut-off, cut-off.

When I was a child, I took for granted that I was safe and protected, and as I grew older, more independent, I looked back over that time and saw all the times I wasn’t. That was when my pain set in, and my clamoring, deviant behavior became truly out of control. For the sake of my own inner peace, I have to heal these wounds. To say I didn’t ask for this is to say I didn’t wish to live. Don’t I want to be alive? Yes. I love life and every breath. I believe in my destiny on this earth, a destiny that reaches farther than setting my broken relationships.

But what I feel more than anything right now, is this clamoring pain. There is no longer anything that will fill the hollow in.

When I review my life, it seems short. My real moments of beauty and existence seem very brief.

I keep reviewing the same ballet recital over and over again from 1986. I remember the programme vividly. I wore a pink tutu and pink leotard with spangles. The tutu was removed for my following tap routine. For some reason, I was always in ballet and tap dance, even though I never liked tap dance. I preferred the romance of ballet. Eventually I graduated into jazz, which was akin to the work of the modern dancers I really admired, but still less mature.

I remember this, my first dance recital, in 1986. My class was among the youngest of children. The adult dancers danced to the Love Theme from St. Elmo’s Fire, Annie’s Song, and the St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion) song. I remember the costumes of the dancers vividly.

The dancers in the first two songs were among the same troupe. There was one man in each routine. The ballerinas wore long pink graceful gowns in the Love Theme from St. Elmo’s Fire, and in Annie’s Song, everyone wore white, and they danced in a circle while the man lifted them, like they were in the forest glade. It was the romantic thing I had ever experienced, and it made my heart ache. The Man in Motion theme was a fast-paced modern dance. The dancers wore red, orange and scarlet and danced with streamers.

I recently bought the MP3’s of those songs and have listened to them several times. There is something I want to lift from that experience, but I don’t know what. I don’t want to be a dancer. I am ready to put my theatrical nature in a trunk and place it in storage, like a pair of ballet shoes. Over now. That beauty, which danced before me, isn’t something I’ve found elsewhere. Perhaps as a six-year-old I took those performances to be a promise, because I think I conceptualized the experiences within them even as a child: love, romance, sexuality, self-affirmation.

Maybe I should never have left the stage, or put my shoes away. Stopped acting or playing the piano and developing my voice. Because I never found that beauty off the stage.

Life flashes and glimmers at me like those mirages, and my dreams at night pierce me with pain. When I dance across the stage of life, use my voice, my heart, I feel like I’m dancing in an empty room. The time that separates me further from my birth separates me from that source of life and hope. I am never renewed, only sometimes pacified.


First yoga class & oracle card reading discussion
Love and Rockets
absintheforest

The yoga studio was in an older part of Fort Worth, on Lancaster, in an old building with a high tin ceiling.

The courtyards of these old buildings were filled with plants, and the strip felt like a quiet sun-baked paradise. I paid ahead online, and entered through the back door for my lessons. Not knowing what to bring, I at least brought my mat and what I normally wear to do yoga, which is black leggings and a tank top. It seemed that was just right.

The Gentle Yoga class was very similar to the routines that I do in my yoga app, with a couple of exceptions. I put a lot more effort into it, I think, and I really enjoyed having other people around who were more experienced. I copied what other people were doing, because I could not see the instructor at the front of the room.

Additionally, many props were supplied. Blankets, a bolster, and a block. I did not like using any of these. It doesn’t feel natural to have these on or under any part of my body while doing yoga. However, I really appreciated the kindness of one of the instructors, who supplied these to me, and also practiced beside me.

My favorite parts were the OM chant, and the meditative pigeon pose. I have been under so much stress lately, that so many feelings welled up in me, and it was very difficult not to cry. I was able to wait till I was in the car on the way home.

I will definitely do this again. This brought me together with other people that do what I do on my own and are open to spiritual beliefs other than Christianity.

Today, we went to Unity church, and I cried during the message. I can’t even really say why. I would love to have just let it all go, but I had to bite my lip and keep thinking of something cynical so I wouldn’t lose control. These tears are part of the card I just drew, Death. Something is passing away. It’s dying. It needs to go. Maybe I am crying because I want it gone. But parting myself from it is bringing out deep pain, and these tears feel really cleansing. Not hopeless tears, but tears of great relief and release.

I am crying because I know that I am separated from this thing that has been draining my life energy. Finally I can cry, because it is all over. I can cry for the years I have lost, my mistaken beliefs, my self-image which has been shadowed. I’m crying in the sunlight. There’s a sensation of the sun baking my tears into my skin. I feel safe, and I can cry, knowing that the light is drying my tears while they fall.

I survived the painful portions. Now, if I keep taking the next right steps, I will not have to suffer anymore. I do not want to give my personal power to anyone else again. I can’t imagine a physical pain or trauma that compares to the slipping sensation, the mind-spinning sensation of feeling like my whole soul has just slipped off my body, and my body is a withered husk I can barely push forth. The feeling of desperation as I try to regain what I have lost through compulsive, self-abusive behaviors.

I performed the Summer reading with my Victorian Fairy Tarot earlier this week, and the cards I drew were Three of Spring (Wands), The Moon, and The Fairy Bride (The Lovers). The Three of Spring is my card for this month, and a card I will never see again without remembering the rich lessons I have lived through it. Not only the extensive travel I did this month, but also my movements to the next right steps on my path, and finding the integrity to move forward, at the estimated 25% portion toward completion, when it is hard to validate my progress, and slipping backward would be so easy. The second card, The Moon, spoke to my feelings about moving backward and letting my intuitive powers and subconscious guide me forward, as well as uncovering the symbology of my recent dreams, my addictive behaviors and compulsions, and what things that terrify me represent to my child-self. The last card, The Fairy Bride, speaks of making a commitment. The most important commitment I can make now is to my self-protection and preservation. I counteract negative thoughts and experiences with affirmations and loving gestures toward myself. The few times I have done this, I have released more strength and creative power than I have known for a long time. The Three of Spring is about moving forward, and no longer being stuck in my nostalgic habits, but somehow as I move, I uncover a part of myself I have not seen since adolescence, something familiar within myself that was hidden, that I was trying to access through external, futile methods.

This year has been one of growth, of high contrasts, of encountering my shadows. In many ways, it hasn’t been lovely, but the past six months have been the end of something that needed to end long ago. I feel grateful to welcome a new month this week, and enter the second half of this year.

My month’s card for July is the Two of Ariel. My conjecture is that this involves balancing my career transition with the creative and personal work I am uncovering with my Artist Way course, and that it will be a challenge to keep both moving forward, but that they both require my conscious choices and mindfulness to sustain.


Glass coffin
Love and Rockets
absintheforest

Ever so often my breath hitches
And I feel the shard against my heart
I come close to forgetting
But can’t let it go

Every other moment the world
Frosts in sadness
This too shall pass,
But I can’t believe it

When defending myself is shattering everything
This can’t last
Yet the pieces always get put back together
Fitting neatly where they were before
And the glass I shattered is
Encasing me again

Maybe I’m afraid the pieces won’t
Fit back together this time
Due to the hairline fractures my protests cause
It’s so easy to stay dead
And do everything your way


Modesty
Love and Rockets
absintheforest

image


Spring storms
Love and Rockets
absintheforest
Swallows flit through darkening air
Thunder breaks again,
another storm gathers tonight

Examining fragments from long ago
I remember the dreams
I focus inward
Projecting into the narrow light
While the spring sky darkens

The memory of discovery
Desires soon shackled
Now freedom, without imagination
I walk into a darkened room
and face myself blindly

The child is in the garden
She doesn't know

Spiritual sanctuary
Love and Rockets
absintheforest

In the forest mind
I don’t know mine from theirs
But overhead I detect a slender, transparent network
Of vaulting arches
In the forest a sanctuary is forming

I am a crystal with many faces
All shining in the darkness,
I am a wave silvered on the sea
By moonlight.
Many voices rise on the wind,
Crying in the darkness.

My life is preformed
By my shadow constructs
Knowing my power, I cast the images forward.
A net to loosely gather the elements
Coded by my desires.
Knowing my power, I cast the images forward,
I am drifting with bracken, but looking overhead
I am drawing lines between the stars.


Truth in silence
Love and Rockets
absintheforest

I would know more, much more
If I never heard anything about what others believe
My path is a flat ribbon
I’m smoothing it straight with my hands
A satin ribbon that falls out of a bow
once tied instead of holding
So that while I am surrounded with bows
All I have is a flat ribbon
I want to give up the ribbon entirely
And stop listening


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