It’s fascinating. I’m in a state of positive shock. Six months ago I was in the lap of darkness, falling, flailing, falling… and it has all completely reversed.
This is weird, and I wasn’t quite ready for this! It has happened so fast and completely. So I’m making some big adjustments. This is one of the things about cancer – as least, for me – since everything impacts so much more than it did BC (before cancer). I’ve become more permeable, more affected and vulnerable, in all areas of life. This has its good and tricky sides. At times in the last month I’ve been overcome with pure joy, rather childlike and overwhelmed – I break out in tears so easily nowadays. Perhaps I should hire my services to a water company to help them restore the water table.
Some months ago I asked myself what I would have been doing if I hadn’t contracted cancer. Answer: just carrying on. What has happened since cancer joined me? I’ve been living each day quite intensely, in a very here-and-now way, and the difficulties I’ve had have given me a completely new focus. It’s now all about staying alive, staying happy, living life fully and resolving the loose threads of my life as best I can, while I can. In a bizarre and at times painful way, that’s called ‘a new chapter of life’. And I’ve been given it.
This is where free will comes in. Free will is not about Toyatas and Volkwagens, or left-wing, right wing, or this or that. Free will is all about how we deal with what we’ve got and what’s in front of us and, particularly, staying true to the root reason why we chose to come into life in the first place. Because we did choose. No one is here by accident.
This then leads to the question: what kind of life am I setting out to live? Well, the issue with me is that watching TV, eating, socialising and carrying on with a routine don’t tend to lift me up – I lose interest quite quickly. That’s an aspect of life on Earth that doesn’t do much for me. I have this strange obsession with having a deeply meaningful life. Some or all of you might suffer this syndrome too.
I can’t sit around waiting for something – though much of my life has involved a lot of abiding and patience. And strangely, at times when life has been most difficult, I get deeply motivated to do things. Not necessarily about the problem at hand, but more about some sort of strategy that changes the game more than it changes the situation. I seem to be at it again. Strangely, it took the cancer experience to really get me fired up. Or perhaps sufficiently desperate that I have no alternative! Free will is sometimes about making a choiceless choice.
I wake up with instructions, sometimes. Well, it feels like that. Something fizzy is inserted in my psyche and it starts fermenting. Before long, a whole picture of possibilities has formed. But nowadays, I’m wise enough to know that, first, I must put it on the ‘perhaps’ shelf in my psyche, to let it sit there for a while. This will show whether what I see is solid and feeling dead right. If it isn’t, it fades away or changes, as life progresses. But there’s a central issue or motivator to it, an aim and strategy which, if it is solid, can form the core idea or axis or pattern of something that could take shape in the next few years. Here’s the rub: the intended fulfilment date is around 2050. If I’m incarnate at that time, I’ll be a young’un. I get the feeling I’ll return a bit later, but that’s not entirely my own choice, and it’s subject to review.
There’s an interesting twist to this. I have a limited shelf-life. I do know this. Some people will try to dissuade me from such ‘negative, deathist thinking’, but often they need to learn something about acceptance, surrender and the otherworlds. Here’s a riddle: we do not and cannot choose the time and manner of our dying, yet, in another way, we can. Sort of. Particularly through attitude and power of spirit, though also with the helping hand of medications, supplements, healers and so on. However, ‘the hand of God moves in strange ways’, and when facing death we do need to hand ourselves over, to accept our progressive loss of control. Why? Because such acceptance leads to another kind of control. Metaphysically, it’s the control of a slalom-skier, where you have to lose control in order to gain a new kind of balance. It’s not fear-driven, though it’s one helluva ride.
This happens in life too, and many people stand on this precipice at present – it’s the Great Unknown, gaping at us and shaking us out of our comfortable stupours. Yes, folks, shit’s happening and there’s little we can do about it. We’ve been in ‘good’ times, and now it’s going to be ‘bad’ times. Many people resort to complaining – that’s unwise and gets no one anywhere. It’s necessary to get real, make it simple, focus on what’s essential, stay happy and look for the gift in this evolving situation. Do this, and you’ll survive. Dig in your heels and trouble’s coming.
However, when the economy rises, society declines, and when the economy subsides, society rises. So what is our choice here? What do we really want?
I too must square with this one. My cancer immunotherapy (Daratumamab) comes in a little refrigerated phial once a month by special delivery, and a nurse comes to administer it (Janice or Nicola – they’ve been really good and helpful). This phial costs £4,500 each month. I am privileged to live in a country where this is possible – elsewhere I would be dead or, if so blessed, rich enough to pay ridiculous sums for treatment. During my life there is a possibility that the state support I receive will dwindle or disappear. Yes. One of the existential risks we face that no one talks about, is ‘sovereign insolvency’. Government and national bankruptcy (it’s happening in Sri Lanka). Caused mainly by debt, by excessive public and private borrowing on a rosy future that didn’t happen.
That’s life. And it’s okay. I don’t have money but I have some social cred and survival instincts, and I’ll manage somehow – worse has happened, and I’m not in receipt of incoming mortar shells. A number of us will have to go – as was the case with Covid. Some might think it’s Big Brother pulling this off, and there’s a smidgeon of truth in that, though not as much as some might like to think. But are we going to sit around blaming others for our plight, or are we going to rise up and come out to help our fellow humans? Sorry to be blunt, but it does come down to that. That’s one reason I live in Cornwall – we do this down’ere.
I have a limited time left – current estimate, 3-5-7 years. When I’m performing in public I brighten up and come alive, so that’s not a truly accurate read-out of how I am overall. I go down too, megaflopped, with gravity running double-heavy and systems creaking along on three cylinders. Though, on average, I’m doing much better now than some months ago, and things are looking up. I no longer have to strive for hope or optimism: it’s coming at me in torrents! This is the positive shock I mentioned earlier. I guess I’ve fallen into a kind of miracle zone in which, at first, you have to go right down into the depths of The Pit before revival kicks in. Revive I did. It might be true to say that conventional medicine has kept me alive, but healing from so many people and from ‘friends upstairs’ has given me a new life.
In early May a message was dropped into me which said, ‘We have one more thing we’d like you to do…’. Part of me said, OMG, not again, leave me alone, and another part sparked up and was fascinated with what might happen and what exactly this might be. I have some starting notions and I’ve twigged the core objective, but this must unfold in its own time and way. Next we come to the earthly manifestation bit. Thing is, since I most likely have only some years to play with, anything I do, unless it’s something brief, is to give to others to take forward. I need to sit on that and mull it over, and some of those others might need to do so too. It’s necessary to let various things take shape, which will serve as indicators from Real Life that there’s support for it in all worlds and that it has some chance of actually working. I have a wee bit of experience in that matter, and I’m a ‘sensible Virgo’ (I am told), and nowadays I look before I leap. But I don’t tend to sit on my hands and hang back either.
One of my weird gifts is a capacity to articulate things that people already half-understand, or things that are coming up for them that they hadn’t quite ‘got’ – and also to make connections between things people hadn’t quite seen before. Such as the relationship between humanity’s psychospiritual condition and climate change – think about it. I tend to look a bit further than the next horizon and the narrowness of short-term fixes. Thirtyish years ago I realised what this was about, for me: I came here not exactly to bring change, but to bring suggestions about what comes after that change.
As a former revolutionary (we lost), I’m now dedicated not to bringing down the old but to bringing up the new. This is what I told young Syrians and Egyptians in 2011 in Amman, Jordan, as their revolutions were failing… Yes, you lost, but, Allahu akbar, God is great, history is on your side and, look guys, I’m still here decades later, still at it, so you do that too. It’s hard and it takes a long time, but real change does take time, and that’s no reason to give up. They got it. I told them to tell their friends.
The Nine once said something interesting, that the revolutions of the late 1960s were meant to bring social-spiritual change but, instead, in the 1970s, they brought personal change to a relatively small number of people. This did lay the foundations for future developments, but it was a slower path to take. The social change is yet to come: a big opening for this starts in 2024, as Pluto enters Aquarius, accelerating rapidly through the late 2020s, and the complete process continues for a few decades. (For more about this, try here: https://penwithbeyond.blog/2020s/ ). It depends, of course, on what we humans do about it, and a wide range of issues, problems and solutions will come up. We shall see both the wisdom and the madness of crowds. The questions of social trust and care and also good leadership are biggies to sort out.
On my recent trip upcountry to England, I was really happy to meet many remarkable people, and impressed with the quality of those who attended the two magic circles. Attending the OakDragon camp was like a turnaround for me, rather like reaching the top of a high mountain pass, suddenly to see the vista on the other side. I felt welcomed, included and valued, and it was warming to heart and soul. At the magic circles, it felt as if people were right there, and they definitely seemed to understand what I was sharing. Also, I survived the magic circles myself, better than I expected (after all, it’s 5-6 hours), and I’m up for more.
If you’re the kind of person with the connections in your area or network to organise one, you’re welcome to get in contact – I go where invited! The next Magic Circle is in Buckfastleigh, Devon, on Saturday 24th September (see palden.co.uk/magic-circles.html). I’m really looking forward to that.
In Devon we’ll have a little music from Galen and Jahnavi, two musicians coming all the way from Portland, Oregon, to join us. As I wrote this they were stuck at Heathrow, waiting for the plane to Newquay, Cornwall. Such are the ways of this world. Penny is picking them up – they’re staying in a bell tent in the Field of Dreams, our wild-camping field here on the farm (thanks, Jo!). An old friend, Kevin, is here too – he’s an old Flying Squad member, and he, with Sian and Sarah, three core members, came to the Avebury circle. I was so happy and moved to see them – we’ve been through so much together, for so long. We’re realising in a new way that perhaps we prototyped something more valuable for the future than we thought at the time (flyingsquad.org.uk). So we’ll have a campfire in the field and share dinner together. Guess who sorted that out? The Rt Hon Dame Penny Cornell MBE, haha.
Lots of good stories have happened for quite a few people in recent weeks, and I’ve met with new friends and old. Bless you all for that, and thank you to Bruce, Ivan, Pia, Lily and particularly Rebecca, with a host of others, for lighting up my life and helping me on my way.
If you live in Glastonbury or within easy reach, I’m giving an evening talk at the Assembly Rooms on Friday 9th September – called The Tipping of the Scales. It’s for Glastafarians of all generations. A Glastonbury veteran (1980-2008) returns to his old home to meet the folks. I’m coming up the Michael Line with some messages from the end of the world. (Info here.)
I need to hobnob with people through doing talks, magic circles, blogs and podcasts because, as a cancer patient, I don’t have the energy it takes to meet so many people except in EM-free groups. I love you all, but I can’t get round everyone. Yet magic happens too, and I’ll get round everyone who somehow matters – whatever that means.
The EM-bombardment my dearest friends give me, even if accidentally, makes meeting you extra tricky. It takes three seconds to be infected and two days to get back on balance. What proportion of the population has electroesensitivity? One hundred percent. It’s just that only some people notice it, and I fear for the rest.
Recently I’ve been talking about dying as a gradual process. Here’s a quote from the website of my root Lama, Rangjung Rigpe Dorge, the Sixteenth Karmapa, about his death of cancer at Samhain in 1981, in a research hospital in USA:
“The hospital allowed the body of the Karmapa to remain in the room where he had died, because it was obvious that this was not an ordinary death. Even though he had died, for three days he remained in the Tugdam, a state of meditation. This was clear from signs such as the area around the heart remaining warm and the body remaining supple. The signs were witnessed by the medical staff present.” (karmapa.org/life-16th-karmapa/)
Though the quality of my meditation isn’t anywhere close to his, I don’t believe only Tibetan lamas or similar can work with their death process in this way. But we shall see, won’t we?
I’ve started doing ‘Magic Circles’ – five-hour sessions (attendees do get breaks!) – thus far in Glastonbury and Avebury. They were well attended, with a lovely quality of people coming to them.
Here’s a recording of the first segment of three from the Avebury event. If you like my podcasts or you attended the Magic Circle, or you just want something a bit more than what you get in the podcasts, you might like this. It’s an hour long. Stream it or save it to your computer or phone.
It’s the beginning of a new series of podcasts of my live talks, called PodTalks. The first is on the PodTalks page on my site, and more will follow:
So, do you reckon the existence of your soul and psyche began here on Earth?
Here, Palden talks about tribes, nations and civilisations, material and multidimensional, in which each and all of us have our roots as souls.
This is key to finding our true, deep identity, not solely as a product of Earthly evolutionary experience, but from a deeper level way beyond. It concerns the initial reason we decided, or it was decided, that we’d partake of the Earth experience.
If we anchor to this root source of our being, it can help us identify and serve the deeper purposes for which we came – to learn and, especially nowadays, to contribute. One of the great crimes of our time is withholding of our gifts and capacities – often because we think we’re not good enough, not ready yet, or ‘little me’ will make no difference.
Yet we are part of larger soul-collectives. We need to peer beyond our individualism to cleave to the contribution our soul-tribes seek to make. We are, after all, the people we’ve all been waiting for. And if not now, then when?
Recorded in Somerset while on tour. Worth hearing if you are attending any of Palden’s magic circles. As a follow-up, try the podcast Close Encounters too. 27 mins.
Oak Dragon called me. I returned. Something came full circle.
It all goes back to 1986-87 when I started the Oak Dragon Camps. For three years previously, with a lot of help from friends I had run the prototype Glastonbury Camps on a spontaneous, improvised basis, and this was the next step. Apart from a solar eclipse camp in 1999 in Cornwall, I hadn’t been back since 1993. I had been ousted by ‘we, the people’ (well, some of them), and went my way, soon to work for the Council of Nine and then to start a new generation of camps, the Hundredth Monkey Project, in 1995-97, inspired by the Nine and drawing on experiences gained earlier.
Ruby and Penny took me to the camp and, in the process, found a new family. Ruby, 12, grew a year in one week. Penny, one of those souls who holds the world up, found new context for it in a big-family setting. Everyone loved them. As for me, staggering around on sticks, periodically drifting off into dozy psychic reveries while flopped in my seat, I was so welcomed and cared for that I was moved to tears by the poignancy of it all and the love of a tribe I had set in motion, lost and suddenly regained. “If you hadn’t started this, all of us wouldn’t have met, and some wouldn’t even have been born“. Believe me, it was really moving to hear that.
Fiftyish of us were camping in a big circle divided into four smaller circles. Some were regulars who had met up for years, some hadn’t been for years and some were new, finding themselves melting into a new family they hadn’t anticipated joining.
Each day started with an optional meditation and the Dance of Life (a native American greeting of the day). Then came a daily camp meeting in a big, circular marquee, then group activities or a ‘council’, a talking-stick sharing session.
In the afternoon and evening, group activities ranged from talks, artwork, Breton dancing and making things, to visits to a nearby ancient hill camp, Dundon Beacon, or the ancient yew tree at Dundon church. One day we had a sweat lodge, a day-long process that Ruby and I joined. Some days we cooked the evening meal over campfires in our tent circles and sometimes we did it communally. Nowadays, Oak Dragon has all its developed ways and custom kit – marquee, domes, showers, tools and bits – but, in the earliest days it had been a matter of makeshift improvisation and doing our level best.
This is not just a nice bunch of people doing enjoyable things. In originating the camps I sought to create a space in which people could experience living in an accelerated growth zone, a different world without walls and with very different ways. Crucial here is life-education and what community living does to us as individuals, but the main issue is that an enspirited magic circle like this helps people go through breakthroughs, revelations, resolutions and great leaps forward. Then they spend the rest of the year integrating it, and they return for more whenever it’s right.
Throughout the camps, one of the most rewarding things has been watching young people grow in leaps and bounds, and seeing whole families release their power issues, conflicts and tensions. Everyone comes out glowing, whoever they are. There is pain, dilemma, choice and wobbliness too yet, when a camp is well set up, focalised and run, a supportive and safe atmosphere makes it all very different from the world out there.
I myself was a case in point. Back home, I rely on one helper, Penny, who comes once a week and is also reliably on call, plus a number of people who assist in disparate and occasional ways, and it is something of a burden on them. With my partner, our relationship had gone from one of equals to one of dependency, and this had weighed heavily on her. Meanwhile, at the camp, anyone would roll up with offers of tea or carrying my seat and I was both cared for – amply hugged, heard, supplied and assisted – and much appreciated for what I could, within my scope, contribute.
When Becky, the camp focaliser, invited me, I wondered how long I would last, physically. At the camp my body ached, camping was an effort and my psyche was rather overloaded after 2-3 years of relative isolation. But my spirits were lifted up, they kept me going and, on balance, I had a great time. It’s all a matter of attitude, really.
And… what goes around comes around. Once upon a time an organiser, this time I was on the receiving end. I was relieved of a pattern of mine: I couldn’t work my ass off. I used to be one who felt unconsciously that he had to pay off karmic debts to family, people, society and ‘God’ by contributing more than was due. I tried too hard. This is a common ‘server soul’ syndrome, though it does cause amazing things to come about.
I watched Penny acting out her own version of it, a few times dropping a hint to her that she could also sit down and hang out for a while, but she’s a compulsive helper and lifesaver, and this is her path. Frankly, if there were more people like her, the world would be so much better. Humorously I introduced her as my bodyguard – well, she is a former nightclub bouncer. She’d be great in a war zone. She calls me ‘boss’, with a cheekily ironic look that keeps me safely in my proper place.
In a week from now I’ll be back in Cornwall doing blood tests and scans. When I was tunnelling around in Hades in February-March, my readings got worse. In spring I stabilised. I suspect that, now, the readings might improve. At the camp I found I could keep going longer, sit cross-legged for a whole three minutes, my posture and digestion improved and the biggest medicine of all, spirit, shot up. I even started forgetting my sticks, which worked for about ten paces before rather painfully I remembered I couldn’t hold myself up any longer.
It feels like I stand at a new beginning, perhaps a new mission. A mission-driven person, this is my path, even in this last chapter of life. It gives me something to live for and I feel that, if I can bring about what is asked for, I’ll be kept alive to do it. If not, something else will happen.
I reckon I have between one and seven years to live – longer than I reckoned during last winter. But this brings up various questions. It makes life more complex, surrounded as I am with people living more normal lives and going at a pace I cannot keep up with. Then there’s the matter of making plans and how I shall live during whatever time I have left. I’ve been lonely and under-supported and I need that to change. Losing my partner six months ago impacted all areas of my life and, in a variety of situations, I still find myself wishing she were here, not only out of need but also from a wish to share and to give – we had grown into each other so much.
Today I planned to go clothes shopping but, frankly, I’m unsure I can do it alone – I need a second brain, an extra pair of hands and someone to scoop me up when I droop. But I’ll try anyway. Many of my life-needs are quite specific and it doesn’t work for just anyone, however well-meaning, to help me. That’s tricky – it has taken Penny time to figure out my nature and quirks, and really I need an extra person to complement her and cover those times her hands are already full. So there are issues I must contemplate when I return home. Something needs to change. Or I need to change. Or both.
Coming close to death made me acutely aware of what I haven’t done – you’ll find this happens when death approaches you. My book Shining Land, about ancient civilisation in Cornwall is now finished and coming out before long, I hope. I think it’s my last book.
This cancer blog, and my podcasts and events, all grew out of squaring with cancer. But I’m unfinished on a few fronts: family (I miss them), love (a big gap that is not healed by admonishments to love myself), world-work projects, and finding someone to step into my shoes with the Tuareg and the Palestinians. I’d like to close these circles before I’m done, if life permits. In the last chapter, some things we must accept as final and some can still be progressed.
While this cancer blog is not as medically oriented as many others are, it’s about the side-issues that have arisen for me as a cancer patient. Life has been hard overall, and one reason I appear to do cancer relatively easily is that it follows in a continuum, albeit in a new format. If you’ve done jail, exile, unpopularity, poverty, loss and bullets, cancer is just one step further. I’m a flawed human like anyone, with lots yet to learn, but I do hope that, by exposing my struggles and joys in this blog, you might gain a few glimmers of light.
Soon I turn 72 but cancer has thrust me into my eighties, with what seems like 120 years’ worth of experience trailing behind. This happens when you live intensely, wading around in a variety of high-risk zones and deep altered states where time shifts into another dimension. Cancer has pushed me into a new phase: I’ve stepped into a new archetype and even the patterns on the palms of my hands have changed. Even so, one thing I do need to learn is how to write shorter blogs, and I never seem to manage.
As for the ‘magic circles’, the first one in Glastonbury went really well. Thanks to Bruce Garrard for organising it and to the remarkable people who turned up, and to Avalon, my old home, for wrapping us in its energy-field. The next is in Avebury, this Saturday 13th August, and another follows in South Devon on Saturday 24th September (a link is below). It lights me up to do these – at last Tuesday’s circle I started out frail, coming alive and on-the-pulse as I warmed up. I think I’ll tighten up the next one – time went too quickly and I need to present everything more succinctly.
This is an experiment and a new way of working, for me, an old hat entering a new chapter. I’m fishing for new avenues, people and a way forward, while finding out whether I have it in me to follow through. So far, so good.
Sometimes ‘guidance’ comes from within but, for me, it reveals itself when I act on possibilities and prod the future – this is how the alchemy works. Besides, when I get inner guidance, it’s often cryptic, pointing at principles and possibilities that then have to be applied in real life. It starts with preparing the ground, planting seeds and seeing whether and how they germinate.
After Avebury, I’m back to Cornwall for a recharge, cancer drugs and blood tests before the next wave of activity in September. One step at a time.
Right now I’m staying for a few days with Lily, a new soul-sister, having a quiet time in her studio, writing and recuperating under the calming gaze of Tibetan thankas, sorting myself out before the next bit at Avebury.
May you be blessed. You bless me by reading this. There’s more to come, inshallah.
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