and other tales…
Tuesday morning, 11th April, Butleigh, near Glastonbury… Today my friend Claudia from Cornwall is taking me home, bless her – she’s driven up here to pick me up. Typically for one with a Moon in Gemini, I’m looking forward to going home and also I am not. I’m looking forward to it because, as a partially-disabled cancer patient, my lovely little home is, well, my refuge. Also I can detox from the generously donated phone radiation I’ve taken in over the last few days – almost everyone I pass or sit near to has a toxic radiation generator on them, and it gets sprayed all over me. It’s weird.
I’m not really looking forward to going home because, in the last year or two, since losing my partner and my capacity to drive, I’ve been isolated in a way I’ve never experienced before. This winter I crossed that strange boundary between aloneness and loneliness, and while I manage quite well with loneliness, compared to many, I don’t like it – it’s an inward-turning vortex, and it’s easy to get sidelined and forgotten by other people, busy as they are with other things.
This said, being alone has its value, and many of us don’t get enough of it. But over winter I’ve been drying up inside and talking to myself too much. If my health condition deteriorates, there is no one to watch over me. It says something about our society when, as was recently mentioned in the UK news, a person’s death is discovered because of the smell. If that’s the case with me, then so be it – after all, my creaky body will already have been abandoned and I’ll be somewhere else. Our society has big issues around death.
But then, I’m a strange mixture of a hermit and public figure – it’s the bit in between, personal relationships, where in the end I don’t do so well. That’s classic for an Aspie: I don’t sit easily in the expectation-fields many people quite reasonably have, as a friend, neighbour, partner or parent, and I’ve never sat easily in the boxes society seems to need each of us to sit inside.
This said, as soon as I was diagnosed with cancer in 2019 I found myself sitting inside a neat, simple ‘cancer’ box, unexpectedly eligible for levels of social, financial and medical support that previously were outside my reach – and without that support I would now be dead. It’s a bit strange, being valued by officialdom and mainstream society, at a time of life when my productive value has declined dramatically. I’m now costing society around £200,000 per year. Just my cancer medication costs £4,000 per month. In contrast, twenty years ago I was Glastonbury’s online PR man (running www.isleofavalon.co.uk) and Somerset County Council reckoned I’d raised the town’s local GDP by at least 5-7%, but I still made nothing from it – so this late-life support is rather bizarre, even though welcome.
Yet, when I was lying there in December 2019, newly diagnosed with cancer, hovering just outside death’s door and gulping down large dollops of acceptance together with large numbers of pills and infusions, I decided to make the best of my new situation, come what may, and certainly it is true that I’ve started a new chapter of life. A while ago I revisited an experience I had around age six, in which I feared growing up and going through the full human life-process. I wanted somehow to skip straight from childhood to old age. Now, prematurely aged and reduced by cancer, being an old crock does strangely suit me, and I’ve found a new expression and creativity in this situation, blogging, podcasting and now writing a second post-cancer book (the first was about ancient sites and the second is about world healing).
In the early months of dealing with cancer, I started assessing my condition on a basis of perceived age. After a life in which I had only rarely had illnesses, suddenly I was flattened and floored by cancer. I shot twenty years forward into my nineties, in terms of physical ability and inner perspective, doddering around like the Ancient of Days. As time went on and I started reviving, I grew a bit younger and settled around my mid-eighties. Nowadays I’d put myself around age 80, varying between better and worse days, though physically I’m 72. So I’ve been fast-tracked into a new phase. Yet my spirit has brightened, as if to compensate for a loss of physical strength, ability and vitality – spirit kinda holds me up, now that life is twice as weighty.
My cancer story started very suddenly one day in late August 2019 in my former partner’s back garden (she was out somewhere): life fundamentally changed that day. I was pulling on a tussock, clearing space for a log-pile, and my back suddenly cracked, very loudly. It was both an external and an internal sound. I was stunned, standing stock still, swaying giddily, and the pain gradually came on over a few minutes until I could do nothing except stagger inside and slowly sit down, seriously excruciated with searing pain.
Four of the bottom vertebrae of my back had collapsed and I was in agony for months. It took ten weeks to find out that I didn’t have just a back problem – I had cancer, and it had me. In the NHS they often ask you to rate your pain on a scale of one to ten, and it was seven on a good day and nine on a bad day – though nowadays I just get one to three, more of a perpetual stiffened inertia and achiness.
With Myeloma or bone-marrow cancer, permanent changes to the blood cause bone-formation to stop, leading to a softening and hollowing out of the bones. It’s a toxicity-related cancer caused in most cases by electromagnetic and nuclear radiation or by certain specific neurotoxic chemicals – in my case it’s quite safely the radiation, looking back on my past history. I’ve known myself to be electrosensitive since the mid-1970s, when I was 25, though it only became a problem around the Millennium when mobile phones and wi-fi started coming into common use.
But there’s a deeper dimension to this. It’s a disease of sensitivity in an insensitive world, and there’s something good and right about that. I’m more concerned about people who don’t or can’t feel radiation than about those who do. Myeloma concerns blood – life-force and will-to-live – and bones – the structure that holds us up, enabling us to experience living inside a physically constrained body. These are quite fundamental planetary issues, and I’ve dug around in myself to understand how my own planetary-incarnational challenges have served as a basis for cancer.
In a strange way it has been a gift, giving a new perspective and something to work with – every day is an uphill climb, forcing me to focus my wits on doing life as well as I can, making the best of what I have, and accepting what I don’t and can’t have and do – the sex, thrills and rock’n’roll parts of life (though I’m doing alright with drugs, both prescribed and alternative). Having had a rather full life, cancer has added a new dimension that, strangely, fits my story. It’s the current stage on my path. The whole look-and-feel of life has changed.
I’ve been visiting Glastonbury for Easter weekend (it was my home from 1980 to 2008), and I’ve done two speaking gigs, one podcast interview and a lot of hobnobbing. And cake. It has been wonderful, medicinal to the spirit, and I really appreciate the welcome I’ve been given and the interesting conversations we’ve had. It lights me up.
It has been a radiation nightmare too. At times my nervous system has been juddering, the amygdala in the back of my head has been screaming a high-pitched whine, and after two days I was bordering into the next stages, flu symptoms and heart palpitations – though I’m learning how to hold them off sufficiently while under fire. As I get more irradiated, symptoms gradually escalate: despite all the miracle cures, crystals and gizmos people advocate and offer to counteract radiation, the only option is to get out, find a low-radiation refuge and spend 48 hours detoxing. So if I walk out on you, please don’t take offence – I just need to get out, and it’s that simple.
It’s a strange, new cause of loneliness – I cannot hobnob easily with people since they literally shoot me (and each other) with a rain of EM jangle and noise. Worse, people are, or seem, mostly unaware of it, even if they’re Greens or members of Extinction Rebellion. Hardly anyone thinks of the disastrous effect mobile phones have on plants, animals, the ecosystem and the world’s climate.
Anyway, that is as it is, and I can do little except partially tolerate it and partially keep my distance. It means I can’t hang out with friends unless I’m okay about being poisoned that day, and unless I have two clear days afterwards to recombobulate my energy-bodies before anything else can happen.
Many old friends came to the ‘Evening with Palden’ on Friday, and it was so good to see them and share some insights I’ve been coming up with. This is where being alone has its virtues, since it enables me to step outside current social groupthink, to see things from a more reflective viewpoint, less affected by others’ perceptions and the current preoccupations, social judgements and projections of the time. As a writer and podcaster it has allowed me time and space to invest in conceiving, writing and recording material. I’m really happy that it seems to be saying something to readers and listeners. It gives new meaning to a rather time-wealthy life like mine, and a way of contributing something to time-poor people’s lives like many of yours.
I’m not one who is happy sitting round entertaining myself as pensioners are supposed to, or sitting there like a block of wood. I see no point hanging around on Earth without having a meaningful life and making a contribution. A long life is not the main point. I’ve had a whole lot of life and feel quite happy with what I’ve been given. Well, sort of. Of course things could have been better, but it’s life’s imperfections that are a key element in the Planet Earth experience. In the end, that’s what we’re here for.
Frankly, I’ll be relieved when the time comes to go. Life has been one long saga of feeling as if I’m on the wrong planet. I’ll be happy to go home and be myself again. Well, for a recharge, at least. But before I go, there’s more to do and be. I’ve been much blessed, living in a time when so many ideas have been conceived, and the seeds and roots of a new civilisation have been laid. So I’m leaving traces of what life has given me, in print, sound and online, for folks younger than me to imbibe, if it’s useful to them.
When I give talks, I’m usually quite unaware of what I have said. I just hope for the best and try to avoid making big bloopers – us Aspies, sometimes we make what we believe to be a bland statement of fact, when for others it can be thoroughly upsetting, confronting and offensive. But I seem to get through each talk without major mishap. It comes to an end, and everyone seems to be happy and glowing, though I come out of it feeling as if I’ve missed something, slightly bereft, but relieved that people are smiling. I’m used to it now. I made some notes of talking points before leaving for Glastonbury but, typically, by the time I got there, I couldn’t find them. Lo behold, they turned up again after I got home. Magic.
At the Legends Conference on Sunday I delivered an entirely new talk. After what seemed like fifteen minutes, Tor came along to say my hour was nearly up, and I was really surprised. I think I managed to make my main point, squeezed in at the end, but I could have made it better. The talk started with an overview of the geomancy of ancient sites, using my home area of West Penwith in Cornwall as a working example, moving on to climate and environmental control and geopolitical healing through consciousness work. This is the gist of my new book, ‘Shining Land’, about the megalithic engineering of consciousness. I’m having difficulty getting it published, but it’ll come out sometime.
Thank you to Lillah Lotus and Rose Temple Morris for putting me up, and to Samia and Dave, Tor and Matthew Fellows for staging things. And to people I met, for being present in this world and sharing a wee slice of their lives. And to Briony, who comes from a similar world to my own, and who had me sussed in minutes. Also to Cho Hopking for teleporting me to Glastonbury, and Claudia Caolin for returning me to Cornwall.
During 2023 I have two objectives, over and above enjoying life: first, to develop more ways of spending time upcountry, with one or two bolt-holes where I can stay – the trick is to find somewhere I fit easily and am no hassle to have around, as a person with special needs; and, second, to see whether the world healing project I am proposing is actually likely to fly – that’s interesting because, with only a few years to live, I cannot lead it. So that’s my agenda for this year, and enough to be getting on with.
Today, Saturday, is spring-like and, having done my clothes-washing duties, I’m summoning my energies to get up the hill behind the farm, to the bronze age platform barrows up on top, 4,000 years old and still doing their geomantic thing. The badgers have dug a new sett on one of the barrows – I’m sure the archaeologists will love that! You can see for fifty miles up there, with a 360° panorama, eastwards to Carn Brea, Mount’s Bay and St Michael’s Mount, and westwards to the Isles of Scilly. I’ll mosey past the main badger sett (apparently it has been there for centuries) and the iron age courtyard house (a mere 2,000 years old). That’s my adventure for today. Well, apart from the blueberry muesli I had for breakfast.
Thanks and well done for reading this! And, guess what, this blog was written using full-on, genuine, certified Human Intelligence. For better or worse.
Love from Pennwydh, the Far Beyond, Paldywan
All of the photos of Glastonbury I took around 2004-7
Collected Blogs: https://penwithbeyond.blog
Website (est’d 1995): www.palden.co.uk
Recording of Friday’s talk on Starlings and Resonance: www.palden.co.uk/podtalks.html
Podcast interview with Matthew: http://www.buzzsprout.com/…/12627936-5-palden-jenkins…
Starlings on the Somerset Levels: https://youtu.be/QxcFppxakHI (thanks to Rosemary and Samia for the link)