Dunnets and Dex

Perhaps I’m spending too much time talking to myself. It’s very quiet around here. People don’t visit because they don’t want to disturb me or kill me with a swarm of life-threatening viruses apparently swirling around them.

Kilgooth Ust or Cape Cornwall, a cliff sanctuary (cliff castle) in West Penwith

I wasn’t aware until a few days ago that Easter was coming. There I was, sailing along through a chemotherapy tunnel, carrying on through thick and thin, and suddenly I was reminded of the relentlessly-rolling machinery of human society out there, happening beyond the bounds of this farm and upcountry from here. Easter was coming – oh yes. Down’ere in furthest Cornwall, all the madness happens in one direction, and we call it ‘upcountry’ or, with a sarky twist of intonation and a subtle roll of the eyes, ‘England’. Which means different things to us than it means to Englanders.

But then, England has just arrived here for its holidays. They’re all down in Tesco, shopping after the frantic journey down the A30, getting ready to stow away in cottages and splatter themselves in plastic tents all over the ancient pastures of West Penwith. Fresh-painted ‘campsite’ signs are sitting at roadside field gates, attempting to capture business, the machinery of the Cornish tourist industry grinds again into action, and the scenic single-track north coast road past Zennor will get suitably blocked up with queues of SUVs and campervans. The Cornish have mixed feelings about all that, and those feelings are growing bigger. Times are changing.

But it’s lovely too, hosting people for a break-out. Yes, there’s that sickening consumption aspect of holidaymaking – the kind that kills lovely places by extending urban tentacles over the land to trash the very landscape people come here to enjoy. But there’s also that aspect where people genuinely seek healing and release, the joy of waking up in a birdsong-soaked field, of paddling in the waves or stretching auras on the high cliffs, with the isles of Scilly shimmering in the distance…

Bosigran Castle – another cliff sanctuary

Back in the 1980s when I used to organise holistic camps, I tried hard to get black and Asian people to come and join us, but it just didn’t work. After all, why should these folks, most of whom come from a much better climate than ours, sit outside freezing their asses off in the rain, wind and dew, just because crazy pink-skinned Brits like to do it? But things change. Last year Lynne and I went to Porthcurno beach, crammed with people, and the majority were not ‘typical’ Brits at all – they were the new Brits, the second- and third-generation sprogs born of ‘rivers of blood’ immigrants, and Poles, French, Hong Kongers and Latinos, with no shortage of burkinis and saris, lapping it up and loving it, and I was so happy to be amongst them all. But then, I’ve always felt rather a stranger in my own country.

And this isn’t uniquely about Brits – it’s about humans and the way we create our collective realities, our nations, social tribes, cultures and identity-boundaries. Without sorting this out, we won’t progress with today’s big environmental, economic, political, immunological and military issues. The deeper aspect of international relations has been a core theme throughout my life, and I have a few things to say about this before I go.

When I was diagnosed with cancer and stared at death in late 2019, I became acutely aware of those things in my life that are unfinished but are still doable, in my newly disabled condition. What emerged were issues and possibilities I just hadn’t previously seen to be likely. One of those was to write a book about my understanding of prehistoric civilisation in the isles of Britain. So, when able, and whenever my brains were functioning sufficiently, I set about writing ‘Shining Land – megalithic civilisation and the ancient sites of West Penwith’. It’s now finished and seeking a publisher (no, I can’t self-publish it), but this is tricky because many publishers are cash-strapped and not in a risk-taking mood and, as usual for me, the book doesn’t sit neatly in a convenient marketing niche. Having myself worked two decades as an editor in book-publishing, and having myself rejected quite a number of good books for similar market-based reasons (we couldn’t publish anything and everything), this is rather ironic. What goes around comes around. But the book will come out somehow: it awaits a magic solution.

Pendeen Watch, also a cliff sanctuary – these go back at least 5,000 years

There’s another book or project starting to ferment, deep down – a re-work of my 2003 book about nations, cultures, beliefs and international relations. ‘Healing the Hurts of Nations – the human side of globalisation’ looked at the psycho-social and geopolitical issues that obstruct concerted planetary action to resolve its biggest global threats and challenges. Twenty years ago this was a little ahead of its time – and my spiritually-rooted approach was too far outside the box for many people, especially professionals and the commentariat. So I’m going to work over this subject again, either as a book or as a serialised online blog. Times come when ideas come into their time.

But first I must complete the prehistoric work – not far to go now. On chemotherapy, my constrained brain capacity cannot manage certain stretches of thinking. So I’ve been getting on with mind-numbing drudge – in this case, completing a detailed map of the ancient sites of Cornwall (there are thousands of them). I started it in 2015 and it’s nearly finished. Aaaah, relief. Then I can put it to bed and have done with it. Here’s the current version – and click on any site on the map to see what happens next.

The psycho-geopolitics project is fermenting underneath in the murky depths, taking shape at its own rate. I’m not really thinking it through, but the thoughts are brewing underneath and I can feel it. It involves an orientation and focusing of my thoughts and attention on the subject, and a ferreting out of pathways by which it best can be explored. These projects, these preoccupations, are like beings with a life of their own, and I sometimes there’s a discomfiting sense that I’m being used. There have even been times when I’ve been too busy with things like this to do things like earning an income! In another time of history I might have earned my income by doing it.

Gurnard’s Head – in former times called ‘the desolate one’.

It sounds like I’m ready to return to work and ‘get normal’ again – re-join the humanoid rat-race. I do need somehow to supplement my modestly adequate income, but I’m not ready for that – I’d make a mess of it. I might sound clear and resolute but actually I’m useless at making decisions, figuring things out and sorting through details. It’ll take me a day to get over the effort of writing this blog! But I’m making progress, as long as I can work when my energy and brains are cranked up. That’s difficult to predict, so arrangements and appointments are not doable, and fitting into the coffee-driven swirl of needs, complexities and timetables of the wider world doesn’t work well.

Or perhaps I’m spending too much time talking to myself. It’s very quiet around here. People don’t visit because they don’t want to disturb me or kill me with a swarm of life-threatening viruses apparently swirling around them. But I’m on Dexamethasone and probably better protected from Covid symptoms than most people. So Lynne’s fortnightly visits are so welcome – and I’m sure that if she chronicled the things we jibber about, it would land up quite encyclopaedic. Both of us being astrologers, we have a multidimensional language to yatter with that’s unavailable to most people – it ought to be taught to teenagers at school. It’s the same when Penny comes along on Wednesdays to clean up – she comes with issues and questions and leaves with a stack of lightbulb moments, sufficient to last until next week. But she doesn’t speak astrologese, so we’re limited to English. And Karen, who comes along with my shopping on Thursdays, tells me tales of events down in Penzance or at Treliske hospital (she’s a cancer patient too). That’s my main human contact with the outside world! Otherwise, my main company is the birds – there are a few dunnets that I really like. The swallows haven’t arrived yet though.

St Michael’s Mount

Meanwhile, the chemo process is working, and I’ve stabilised after the crisis I had a few weeks ago – was it just a few eeeks ago? My results are good, and I just have to keep on going until I reach a safe level that will last me for another period of time. I’m on a ‘management’ programme of periodic adjustments that keep my levels right and stop my bones from hollowing out – that’s what happens with myeloma if it isn’t managed. The haematologist is suitably surprised at my results, though I told her this would be so – having been a wholefood vegetarian meditator for half a century and subject to slightly different rules. But the medical profession has a strange kind of racial profiling that assumes that, if you’re white and you speak English, then you should be measured against a yardstick of ‘normal’, based on the way the ‘normal’ population operates. But then, a doctor once said that in Britain I’m underweight, while in India I’d be normal. Aged hippies like me should be treated more like an ethnic group because our psyche, metabolism and anatomy have changed quite radically as a result of the life-choices we’ve made, and the passage of time.

But there we go – this is a strange world, and none of us is here by accident. All will come well in the end. Because the sun keeps rising every day, and the Atlantic rollers keep ripping at the rocks and the cliffs, and time wanders unceasingly through the labyrinths of the present moment, and it’s time to put the kettle on.

Stay on the case, and do the best you can with what you have and what you are. I’ll do my best at my end too.

Love, Palden

Eclipse of the Soul

I grew up into a teenager who looked at my dad, who had fought in Egypt for our freedom and lost a leg in the process, telling him we weren’t free. We were living in a totalitarian society where, at least for us but not for the Commies over there or for the starving children in Africa, our chains had been coated with carrots and cream.

Eclipse of the Moon in Bethlehem, Palestine, during the 2011 Arab revolutions of 2011

It’s strange. Everyone is busy angsting about Covid and here am I, as usual focused on something else entirely – in this case, right now, cancer. Or, more precisely, chemotherapy. I feel like I’ve aged ten years in the last week. Dragging myself around, feeling the gravitational weight of living on a dense-gravitational planet, holding up my weak back and gasping at shooting pains in my bones, feeling a deep tiredness with life, a tiredness with its daily routines, with yet another breakfast, yet another day. OMG, not again.

Thoughout life I’ve always sought to light up the lives of others around me, with varying degrees of success, sometimes getting confused with the dark shadows in my heart, always picking myself up for another round, another try, another angle… and sometimes, burned out, drooping and flopping into life’s mudbath, the slough of despond, to go down, down into the murky depths of human struggle, the jihad, the holy war of inner conflict, the war with the axis of evil in the human heart… and for what?

Lying in bed in the semi-delerium of chemotherapeutic drudgery, with the BBC World Service bringing the heroic crowds of Yangon, Minsk, Santiago and all stops to Hong Kong to my bedside, ringing around in my night-bedarkened cranium… lying there hearing the complaints of my fellow countrypeople over the time spent queueing to get inoculated against a virus that is too intelligent, too agile to tamp down so that we can all return to normal, return to a comfortable purgatory, a purgatory that all makes perfect sense, expressed in dollars and cents, pounds, shillings and pence…

The normality of democratic freedom, a freedom to choose our own washing powder to dissolve the persistent criminal stains of omission, commission and perpetration that permit us our apparent freedom. A freedom to supply munitions for the bombing of faraway Yemenis so that we can pump up the employment statistics, share values and the great god GDP, just because those Yemenis are less than us, somehow less deserving of the certified serving of chocolate and tax bills that make up our cherished freedom.

I had an extended moment of revelation. One of those moments when you see something you’ve long been perfectly aware of but didn’t really dare to look at. I saw how lonely I’d been throughout my life. I was born in 1950 in a baby-boom maternity home that was about to close – the last baby to be born there. All the staff was there, watching. I wasn’t too sure I wanted to be born, to start that long trajectory of landing procedures leading into the tangly web of life and its involvements.

Up in heaven I had known I could do it, but now I was not so sure. There were all these people waiting to celebrate my birth, not because it was me but because I was the last, the last before they all got transferred somewhere else or had to find new jobs. It was the back end of a tragic baby boom when our parents tried so hard to replace the devastation of war with new hope and a constant stream of dirty nappies (diapers). Someone probably had some postwar rationing-busting plonk and munchies for that moment and they celebrated the last baby while I lay there wondering what was to happen next.

Yet I grew up into a teenager who looked at my dad, who had fought in Egypt for our freedom and lost a leg in the process, telling him we weren’t free. We were living in a totalitarian society where, at least for us but not for the Commies over there or for the starving children in Africa, our chains had been coated with carrots and cream. My parents thought something was wrong with me – after all, if I listened to that raucous, long-haired noise of 1960s pop music there must be something wrong. No, Commies weren’t like us, and any sympathy felt for them just showed what betrayal and subversion these youngsters were capable of – perhaps they were enemies in our midst, traitors to the cause, undermining freedom when, really, they ought to be grateful and get a proper job.

Like many in my time and like so many right now, I was struggling for truth. Now, half a century later, here am I, churning in bed with a war in my heart, struggling to plumb the depths of truth. Oh why, oh why do we fail to see? We’d prefer to destroy our planetary nest than to do without the security of chocolate, tax-bills and easy answers – it’s safer, it’s normal. If some dictator, some oligarchy, turns down the screws on another few million people, well, that’s life, and it all makes perfect sense, expressed in dollars and cents, pounds, shillings and pence.

Yes, struggling in a war against cancer that is being fought in the muddy battlefield of my being, in midst of that soup of fears, doubts and shadows that make me human. In that moment of seeing it became so clear how I had created this aloneness pattern myself: my pattern, my incrementally-repeated choice. In the pursuit of my percieved calling, my struggle to help humanity and shift society’s tiller in a new direction, I had walked away from so many. I had shrugged shoulders, let go and moved on. They had paid their price and I had paid mine. I’d shared so much redemptive love, care and awakening with so many people yet, in another way, I’d engaged in a life of struggle to reach across the light-years of distance, to try to reach to another human star-soul in the vastness.

Here I was, an ageing man churning in bed, wading through his demons, missing loved ones near and far, blessed with a seeing, a revelation of fact-sodden truth, a statement of futility, an audit of the enormity of the task of generating light in the muddy morass of earthly life. It’s a light that struggles even now to illuminate the stone walls of that prison of the soul that is me.

Before you rush to assure me it’s alright, send me reiki and pray for me to ‘get better’ – whatever that really is – and before you lapse into the belief that I’m indulging in negativity, please stop. Please sit and look at the phantasmagorical disaster-zone of your heart: sit with it. It’s there, it’s uncomfortable, yet here lies a key, a lost chord, a lump of gold sitting between the dragon’s paws. It invites you take a deep breath, let go of fear and pick up your birthright. It’s lonely and dark down there, but here lies the key.

Today I go into Treliske hospital for another round of pumping up with drugs. As a denizen of a rich country I am privileged to receive this, as if it’s a birthright. The Dara is already giving me the shits and the Dex is dragging me into a place where nightmares transmogrify into explosions of light and back again with bewildering rapidity. This treatment feels foreign to me, but these are times where my own vision of reality fails to accord with that which apparently is believed by the majority. What’s important to me in my own manner of perceiving is not what’s important to the medical system I have resorted – it doesn’t understand it. But this is the dilemma of being on Earth – no, of being in this civilisation at this time on Earth. We all share it. Stuck between a rock and a hard place – all of us. Serving our time. Doing what we feel is best yet making a pig’s ear of it, drowning in the disappointing pointlessness of constructed belief.

But this grinding action, this grating and milling, it generates light. Awakening before dawn, before the crows did their morningtime auditory armada of swoopy crawing in the dawny gloaming out over the farm where I live, and my demons were irking me. But now dawn has come and the sun is up, shining through the big windows of my hovelly palace – it’s called The Lookout because that’s what you do here, look out. The demons are scarpering in the dawning light. Vacating space until they can come again on another haunting mission. Perhaps it all was a nightmare. Or perhaps it’s the truth of my being. At this moment I cannot judge.

But when I was sitting there shivering, having just lit the woodstove, listening to a robin on the dog-rose outside, perkily tweeting hello, I realised, well, better to grind this stuff now than to leave it until the moment of my deathly transitioning. Better to grow while I can, to see clearly without the grey-tinted glasses of daily routine – the one that looks at the clock, telling me to get ready to be picked up for the journey to the cancer unit at Treliske. Yes, it’s now time to get normalised, to keep to the timetable no matter what. Get plugged back in to the matrix. Get ready. Take your pills. Do the business. Be responsible.

For those of you who are familiar with that quackish charlatanry called astrology, you’ve just read an unpremeditated description of a transit called Neptune opposition Saturn. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, well, that was your choice, and that’s okay too – we all have to live with the consequences of our choices, with the particular way we arrange the furniture and wall-hangings in the prison-cell of our souls. We all share this dilemma.

Paradoxically, nearly eight billion people are alive today yet we all face an aloneness that has never in human history been achieved before. We all have our demons, believing they’re unique to us without realising that they are but minuscule variants of the demons we all share – demons to which we give power, with which we’re fully capable of polluting and destroying our planetary home. For the demons out there are demons within us and the redemption of both go hand in hand.

It’s okay, really. Everything is okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end. Some people tell me they’re so sorry I have cancer, but I find myself wondering why truly they feel this, or whether I should be sorry for them instead. It doesn’t matter. In the end it’s all an enormous phantasmagorical Youtube video, an epic production of illusions showing in five dimensions on the custom-made cinema-screen of our psyches. Who needs a subsription to Netflix when we have this? It’s free and it’s right here, with no need for shipping in from China.

Ee, there’s now’t so strange as folk. God must be amazed at us, at the imaginings that we in our billions can cook up. It must be distressing for him to see how we blame the Chinese for what they’re doing to the Uighurs when it is we ourselves who are doing it whenever we buy yet another packaged product in our supermarkets. Or perhaps he laughs when he sees us languishing in our beliefs, including those that construct him into a God that, as John Lennon in one of his own moments of despair, identified as a concept by which we measure our pain.

Now it’s time to put the kettle on, shower my creaky body, dress up in my togs and get my ass to Treliske, for another round of the never-ending Youtube movie that is life. Chemotherapy, sometimes a high, sometimes a low, provided for free on ‘our NHS’ so that we can spend a little more time on Earth struggling with that darkness and light. Is this the life we came for?

Don’t fall for the idea that I’m suffering more than you. This is the life. This is the playground in which we are playing it out. Here’s the ketchup to squirt over it. And there’s the kettle, ready to disgorge its contents into my teapot. Here we are. The oldies amongst us will remember this, from the back of the Whole Earth Catalog: we can’t get it together – it is together. Perfectly together. This is where we stand. All will be well. But to reach that point of calm certainty in your heart, it’s necessary to dig down in the deeps, make love with those demons and live to see another day.

Now for the next bit. Peace, sisters and brothers. Palden.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jUSaO07ThmY

The picture above is of a lunar eclipse over Bethlehem, Palestine, in 2011 at the time of the Arab revolutions. The Youtube video is a song by Roger Waters called Perfect Sense, from his 1990s album Amused to Death.

Out of Place – Right Place, Right Time

I went really deep and I was totally ‘gone’ for perhaps twenty minutes. I was consciously yielding to the drugs and my healing angels, who presumably needed me to hand over control so that they could manage the process. It was one of the deepest inner journeys I’ve had for a few weeks.

I knew everything was going to be okay when I reached reception at the haematology department, gave my details and received a ticket. On it was the number nine. Those of you who know me well will guess what this signals.

Have you ever observed day signs? I’ve been an intel gatherer for yonks and over the years many people have asked me where I get my information. Apart from being a knowledgeable geopolitical and historical big-head with an Aspie’s feel for hidden agendas, one answer is observing day-signs (omens), a magical way of information-gathering. Another is intuition/instinct, another is use of the pendulum and another is horary astrology (doing a chart for the moment when a matter arises or a question is asked). Of course, if I said this to many people I’d lose credibility or get accused of superstition, blasphemy, devil-worship or any other handily available accusation. But attentiveness to day-signs answers otherwise unanswerable questions. I was given a sign and it said ‘Nine’. I knew all would be well.

So there was I, later sitting in the Headland Unit at Treliske hospital. I’d had blood samples taken twice, I’d been ECG’d, weighed, measured, interviewed and briefed, I’d signed the assent form, taken four different pills plus ten of Dex (Dexamethasone), and then I had to wait an hour before they were to shoot me up with Dara (Daratumamab) and Velcade.

Well, at least these drugs are legal – that’s a change. It might sound strange, but I’ve had an issue coming up over this last year and, for me, it’s quite profound. It’s a tiredness with things not changing, even after a long time. One example is the ‘war on drugs’ which, to me as an aged hippy, has meant 55 long years of enforced criminality. Yes, me.

For half a century I’ve been living a very different life to the average Westerner but, despite all the talk nowadays about minority rights, things have not changed fundamentally, after all these years.

When I was 21 I stood on top of a mountain and made a vow to contribute significantly to world change, and while I knew it would take a long time, I so much wanted to see the world tip irreversibly into positive change before I was to die. But it looks like I’ll have to commute that joy and sense of relief to my next life. That’s quite a big let-go, but I made it last year. As I often say, history takes a long time. And we teach best what we ourselves are learning.

Anyway, back to the cancer unit: the journey had begun. It was a bit like the feeling I’d get on one of my humanitarian tours of duty, when the plane would take off from Heathrow on the way to the Middle East – I’d have gone through all the anticipations I could dredge up in the preceding days and weeks, and now it was business and I was dead calm and collected.

Some people think I’m brave, facing cancer treatment in the way I do, but there’s a simple answer to that: I’m not getting bombed or shot at, so cancer treatment is relatively easy when you see things from that viewpoint. Yes, I was getting nuked with EM radiation at Treliske (I’m electrosensitive) and bombarded with pharma-chemicals. And, amazingly, they didn’t even have any gluten-free biscuits or soya milk for my tea in the cancer unit, but this is peanuts.

Get upset with things like that and you’ll be useless getting shot at. This was a real problem in Syria, in the earlier days of the conflict in 2014. You couldn’t tell who was shooting at you or for what reason, because there were then about seven sides to the battle. They could shoot at you from any direction. At least in most wars it’s ‘the other side’ doing it, and you know roughly why and from which direction.

Anyway, that’s not the case here. My life is being saved, and for this I am grateful – without chemo treatment last year I would already be dead. Here I was, installed in an armchair, well out of it on drugs, and it felt okay. The main problem was not the chemo, it was my neurological system and brains squealing with EM radiation. Few people realise how discriminatory, insensitive and oppressive it is when they spray radiation from their mobile phone over an electrosensitive person like me, commonly regarded as an awkward person making an unnecessary fuss over nothing in particular. Yet radiation exposure is a direct cause of the particular cancer I have (myeloma). It’s a bit like being vegan 20-50 years ago – looked on as bloody awkward and deluded, and these people need to get a grip and get a proper job.

The nurses were keeping me in to observe how I reacted to the Dara. Fair enough. But there was just one problem: the doctors and nurses have little experience of people like me and they use ‘normal’ as their standard for judging everything. But I’m not normal. I have the benefit of having had a good diet, a growthful and meaningful life and, as a result, a more robust immune system and attitudes than the majority of people, and I can inwardly supercharge any therapies applied to me with consciousness work. Last year, my chemo treatment was cut from eight to six to five cycles of treatment – I did really well.

Inshallah, perhaps I’ll bring them a few surprises this time round. I had done a lot of inner preparation in the preceding days and, once the Chinese-Filipino male nurse, a nice chap, had shot me up with chemo drugs, I went straight into meditation, cross-legged in my chair, breathing myself down, modulating my energy-field to accommodate to the drugs and calm my heart which, in response to the Dex, an amphetamine, and the radiation, was pumping quite hard.

After doing this I went really deep and I was totally ‘gone’ for perhaps twenty minutes. I was consciously yielding to the drugs and my healing angels, who presumably needed me to hand over control so that they could manage the process. It was one of the deepest inner journeys I’ve had for a few weeks. When eventually I came to, I looked at the other cancer patients sat in their armchairs and hooked up to their drips, and the nurses going around doing their duties… experiencing all this with the perspective of an ET getting a look into this strange world through my eyes.

God bless these cancer patients, busy ingesting chemicals and most of them sitting fiddling with their phones, communicating with anxious daughters and neighbours to fix pickups. They’re all nice people, all facing cancer and reduced life-chances. They must wonder who this old guy dressed in his copper-coloured Arabic jalabiya was – a foreigner or a weirdo? But then, in Cornwall, it’s not like England, and this isn’t so strange, and when they hear I come from West Penwith, stacked full of oddbods and veterans of the revolution, they just nod, aha, okay.

God bless my nurse, who had been so worried about hurting me because I had so little subcutanous fat on my stomach to shove his needles into. No fat – not normal. But then, I’m not getting shot at, only shot up, so it was no worry – he was just being a bit over-conscientious. Later he came by and said, “Have you met the Dalai Lama?”. Yes, I had, though I’d mainly been involved with the Sixteenth Karmapa and his own amazing squad of lamas back in the 1970s. The nurse wanted to talk about the Tibetans, Uighurs, Hong Kong and Taiwan – he’d figured I understood these issues. He was deeply concerned about China – like so many emigrant Chinese, many of whom have lived outside the Middle Kingdom for generations, he still cared deeply about his country and people.

He said that, when I’d gone into meditation I had gone deeply quiet and the whole room had changed. I became aware that, although most of these people will have read and heard about meditation, few will actually have felt the darshan, the vibrational radiation, that can arise. There they were, stuck in their armchairs with nothing to do, while this guy at one side of the room was going somewhere that, on some level deep in their psyches, they knew they needed themselves to visit – faced as they too were the with threat of death.

The nurses were being overcautious with me though. I was supposed to leave by 4pm but someone had come in insisting I be kept there till 6.30, just in case. I told them this would not be necessary. But they could not go against authority. I showed them the places where I had been injected, which weren’t bruised or swelling, and reminded them that I had just hobbled all the way to the surprisingly well-stocked W H Smith’s at the main entrance and back, to get some gluten-free snacks which, astoundingly, they did not have available even in a cancer ward when they dished out refreshments. Eventually they ran out of excuses and I left at 6pm.

When I got to the main corridor, the guard, who had seen me go past on the way to the shop, now decided I couldn’t go that way to the main entrance. “But I’ve just walked 90% of the way there and you allowed me to do that”. “It’s the Covid regs – sorry it’s a pain in the ass”. He was a nice chap. “Well, I understand that, but it’s not a pain in the ass I’ll get but a wet bum, because I’ll need to sit down on the way and, as you can see, it’s raining…”. Nevertheless, old peg-leg had to walk round the hospital to get to the car park to find Lynne, who was going to take me home.

We got home, lit the woodstove, had a cuppa and detoxed from the day’s encounter with modern civilisation and its rules, timetables, regs and electrosmog. I was buzzing on Dex, and Lynne had to tolerate my rattling away for hours with my mind on overdrive until eventually we went to bed. She said she could smell the chemicals in my body. I lay there churning until I drifted off.

But I was alright. I seem to be tolerating the Dara (Daratumamab) well – that’s the new drug I’m on. The Velcade my body recognises, and I had had no problems with it last time. The Dex, meanwhile, though it charges its price in side-effects, does work well, and last winter I could feel that it was one of the most effective drugs I was taking. But it’s a bit like a cross between speed and cocaine in its psychoactive effects, and it heightens my Asperger’s symptoms a lot.

I’m on two other drugs too – an antiviral called Aciclovir and a kidney protector called Allopurinol – but I’m on a lot fewer drugs than last year, and that’s a relief. My body-psyche is more familiar and less shocked by the process than it was last year, and I don’t have the excruciating back pain I had then – so in this second round it is different.

So the anticipations I had had were just that: anticipations. Thus far, it is unfolding well. It’s difficult being on chemo, and writing this blog has been hard work, but it’s not as difficult as I thought it might be, and the Dara is easier on me than the Cyclophosphamide I was taking last year, which felt like being hit by an armoured bulldozer.

For the first time I’ve met my doctor and cancer nurses in person. Last year I had been treated at Torbay hospital in Devon, so the people at Treliske didn’t know me. During Covid lockdown I’ve had only phone and video consultations with one person, Liz, my doctor. So I felt quite on my own through much of 2020, as if held at a rather impersonal arm’s length during the Covid crisis. But now we were up close and personal.

I liked John, a fortysomething CNS (clinical nurse specialist). I think he figured me out quite well and had met people like me before. I get the feeling he’d done his fair share of raves and festivals before he had kids and got a ‘responsible’ job, so I was within his range of experience. This was true also for another nurse who, at a slack moment, came to say she too was a vegetarian – but I could tell she kept it quiet amongst her colleagues, rather like it was the 1980s – and to ask me a few questions about meditation.

And if you’re wondering why the number nine was significant to me as a day-sign, well, The Nine, some high beings for whom I wrote a book in the early 1990s, who jokingly used to call me Paladin Saladin, are at the root of my ‘spiritual genetics’. They’re like meta-grandparents who had placed the order for the weaving and construction of my soul. So, to me, they were signalling that they were with me and it would be alright. And they were, and it was. And so it goes.

With love, Palden.

Hello, You

This blog ranges around a spectrum of things. At present it is covering something I never thought I would land up writing about: my experiences as a person with cancer. Bone marrow cancer or myeloma.

The account starts in late 2019 here, but most people read backwards in time from this page.

The blog is about my cancer story, and the podcasts announced here are about things that interest me – and perhaps they interest you. The full range of podcasts is here.

Perhaps there’s someone you know who might benefit from finding out from you about this blog.

I’m glad you’re here. Best wishes, Palden.

botreamap4


I live in West Penwith, Cornwall, in southwest Britain. In Cornish ‘Penwith’ means far beyond. It really is. Look for the red marker on the left – that’s where I live, on a hidden-away organic farm.  Far beyond. That’s where these notes are written from.

What’s it all about?

A donkey in Bethlehem, Palestine – Jesustown.

What’s it all about?

2020 has brought us all a lot to think about and, for many, a lot of time to think about it. ‘What am I here for?’ and ‘What’s it all about?’. Some folks have had big reveals and pointers, others have had to dig deeper than ever before, and some have made little or no progress, and some have been run off their feet and burned out by it.

I’ve always been rather purpose-driven. When I was about ten I wanted to be prime minister. By 15 I won a big public speaking competition with a notes-free speech about why Britain should join the European Community – seven years before it happened. Does Brexit, 55 years later, mean I’ve failed? By 18 I realised that politics was too dirty for me. So I followed another path and you got Maggie Thatcher and Tony Blair instead.

It took until I was about 34 to acknowledge that I was at last on track (when I started the Glastonbury Camps). It just had that feeling. Before that I felt like a footloose jack of all trades and master of none. When ‘received my instructions’ I quaked and resisted, but then I realised that, if I didn’t do it, it would not happen. And it needed to happen.

God doesn’t come down and say ‘This is your life-purpose‘. It’s not like that. It’s just that, when you’re more or less on it or you’re heading towards it, you feel it – you’re in the right place at the right time doing the right thing, even if others disapprove, discourage or block you. If you aren’t on it, you feel stuck in a blind alley, getting nowhere, with a meaningless life, as if you’ll stay like that forever. Depression and feeling an unfulfilled calling are closely related.

Purpose is programmed within us. It’s already there. Before getting born, we had a discussion with our angels about the purpose, the motivation, for going to the trouble of birthing ourselves, growing up and living a life on earth. Incarnation is hard work, even for people born in privileged circumstances. Two key things were covered in that discussion: what you were to learn and master, and what you were to contribute. Then you signed a contract in your soul, and it still holds.

Quite often you get clues when you’re about 8-12 years of age – visions of what we want to be when we grow up. Then, during your teenage years, this vision can be clouded and lost (often not helped by parents and careers advisers). These early-life visions can be literal or symbolic. I wanted to be an airline pilot. When I was 15 they ruled that short-sighted ginks like me couldn’t be pilots (that changed back later on, but too late for me). So that door closed. But later in life I realised that I had taken thousands of people on long journeys, up into heaven-worlds and landed them safely at the other end. Mission kinda accomplished.

By 18 I was aiming to become a diplomat, but by 20 I was involved in a life-changing near-revolution at the LSE that ended all that – yet in my adult life I’ve scored some pretty good informal diplomatic hits. So the vision and intention were symbolically correct, but the way things panned out was very different.

As life goes on, our purpose reveals itself through situations that present themselves. We find ourselves doing things we hadn’t foreseen but, when doing it, we feel remarkably fired up, or we make a difference, or we do something really meaningful, sometimes without even realising it. Even washing the dishes or cleaning the toilets can make a big difference in some situations – the chef at a peace conference can save thousands of lives without even knowing it, just by cooking good food for the delegates. So note this and follow it, because there’s your clue – even if it doesn’t make money, look realistic or gain approval, if it fires you up, why aren’t you getting on with it?

We must be willing, if necessary, to tread that path alone. In the Arab revolutions ten years ago, a big issue for people was ‘losing our fear’. Sometimes we must stand up and be counted – and if we hold back we can regret it for the rest of our lives. Like the near-revolution I was a part of fortyish years before, the Arab revolutions failed in the short term yet they started deep changes that will outlast the dictators who tried to stop them.

Here’s an interesting truth: it’s better to fail in something that ultimately will succeed than to succeed in something that ultimately will fail. This concerns posterity and holding out for what is right – and taking a bet that it’ll work, even when you’re not sure, and everyone and everything are against you. Even if you have cerebral palsy. Even if, or perhaps because, you’ve been damaged, disadvantaged and traumatised.

Three things block this coming out process: fear, guilt and shame. Too many people take the safe route in life, to please their family or fit in with the rules, or for fear of loss of security, or fear of being singled out and blamed, or fear of being exposed as unworthy or unable. Human society is riddled with such fears. Our planetary disaster is happening because billions of people are withholding their gifts, setting aside their callings and playing safe. We cook up good reasons to justify this but, in doing so, we are choosing complicity in a collective crime against humanity.

Out of fear, we hold back. This becomes a habit and institution. Then we forget what our instructions were, what the agreement was. Instead, we eat, drink, entertain, worry or work ourselves to death – unless or until a crisis shakes it up, strips our defences, propels us into unknown territory and slams the door shut behind us.

This withholding is dead serious. It means we’re omitting to make our contribution. It’s ours to make, and someone else isn’t going to replace you. Since so many are withholding, there’s a shortage of active server-souls. People have questioned my humanitarian work, believing it is dangerous (yes, occasionally it is) and encouraging me to stop and ‘be responsible’. But then, when I ask them to take my place because the work still needs doing, they wander off.

Charity begins at home‘ – sorry, for me that’s only a half-truth. Charity truly begins where the need is greatest. Need pulls the brilliance out of you.

The world is short of active altruists, and the suffering that arises from that is tremendous. It’s all about that old lady down the road who is alone and unvisited, because everyone was too busy and no one thought, no one imagined what it might be like to be that old lady. The world has a crisis of caring, and it’s all to do with withholding our gifts, callings and missions. Playing safe is a very dangerous planetary neurosis.

This brings us to a key issue. It’s not just our option to pursue our life’s calling: it is our duty. It is an imperative. If we don’t do it now, it won’t go away. This is a choiceless choice. Especially in these parlous times.

This isn’t about great and dramatic things. If you’re gifted at embroidery, do it. If you’re good at ‘just’ raising kids, or ‘only’ growing cabbages, you’re here for that. If you can bring light into the life of a hungry or lonely person, do it. Because, when you’re on your deathbed, these are the things you will remember.

And it changes. Life-purpose presents tasks but it is not a job. You can’t resign. It takes on different shapes, progressing as life goes on. One of my big life-lessons and contributions has been in ‘right leadership’ – something I did better in my fifties than in my twenties. I’ve scored a few goals, brought some benefit and made mistakes too. But I learned. It has gone from home-birth campaigns to organising biggish events to helping burned-out Palestinian social activists.

There are paradoxes. Nelson Mandela once confessed that, in his life, he had faced a deep conflict between serving his family and serving his people. He could only do one of them. After all, if you’re doing things that can endanger your family, should you stop serving your people to protect them? Or will your family also benefit if you can improve things for your people?

One of my gifts has been a capacity to struggle for, uncover and articulate insights that other people don’t quite get. I’ve been a speaker, author, editor, broadcaster and a pretty good contributor to public discourse. It didn’t make me rich or famous but I’m really glad I did it and shall continue till I drop – even possibly afterwards. Since I’ve been about 30 years ahead of the times, my work has not succeeded as much as it otherwise might, but after I’m dead it might lift off – you never know – and I’m leaving an online archive of my work just in case.

But perhaps it doesn’t matter. We can never fully see the results of our work and the part it has played in others’ lives. ‘Non-attachment to the fruits of our labours’, is how Buddhists see it. The aim is not to have an impact – it is simply to do your best. Once, when I was in Palestine I confessed to a friend that I didn’t feel I was making much of a contribution on that trip, and I might go home and come back later. She looked at me straight and said, simply: “Balden, when you are here we feel safe“. That hit me hard: sometimes, you don’t even need to do anything. I learned that what I thought was happening didn’t match what actually was happening.

Here’s another thing. Often we think this is all about giving. No, it’s all about interchange. It’s arguable that the people I’ve helped have given me so much more. If you wish to experience true generosity, go to poor people’s houses and countries.

Life purpose has its ins and outs. I’m good at thinking clearly in wider situations but I’m useless at articulating personal feelings on my own behalf – though I’ve done decades of work on myself to change this, and I’ve only made a little progress. But there are things that each of us must accept too: in my case, it’s Asperger’s Syndrome (high-function autism), and that’s what Aspies are like and what we’re good for. Greta Thunberg is a good example – and society is more open to her directness than was the case for me and my kind fifty years ago.

I’ve been nailed and hammered by so many people to be different from the way I am, yet I’ve found that trying to be what I believe others want me to be does not end up well. This has been painful – to be judged as a bad father, a failure, a fascist dictator, a goodfornothing, a criminal and even traitor. “When are you going to get a proper job?”. Something in me, rightly or wrongly, has soldiered on. I have regrets, but I don’t regret it.

There is no right or wrong: there are simply outcomes. Write that on your toilet wall. We’re called to create the best outcomes we can, and for everyone. Become an expert in making something good out of disasters. Don’t indulge in your failings, inadequacies and wrongs – they go on forever – but throttle up your gifts, assets and contribution. Don’t leave it till later, because later means never.

In my life I’ve been a philanthropist without money. My wealth has been magical, not material. Sometimes I’ve thought of myself as a healer of perceptions. People outside the rich world see me coming and they think, ‘Ah, a European – he can raise funds for us’ (Christians do this more than Muslims). No, this is not what I’m here for, and I’m not good at it. I’m here to help with magic solutions, to raise people up, and it has been a challenge to hold to that because people and projects do indeed need money, often very legitimately so.

The worst bit is that some people get so fixated on the funding bit that they accuse me of being rich, mean and selfish, and they miss what I actually can contribute. It’s better to teach someone to fish than to give them a fish – a common saying in the humanitarian world. (Another is: teach a man and you teach a man, but teach a woman and you teach a generation.) I’ve had to learn to work for a good cause not just because it’s a good cause, but because it is run by people I can work with, and because it fires me up, providing a context in which to serve and contribute best.

So, if you’re struggling with life-purpose matters, here’s a recommendation. Do whatever lifts you up, and avoid whatever weighs you down. This is radical. It’s also far more practical than you might believe. When I was 50 I had a ‘dark night of the soul’ crisis and this truth emerged from it. It doesn’t mean taking the easy option – often you must take the scariest option. A lifelong peace activist, I realised that I had to head for the heart of darkness, so I committed to working in Palestine, sensing that justice for all, not exactly peace, is the main objective there. Justice brings peace, but peace doesn’t necessarily bring justice – so more conflict will follow. If Palestine and Israel can break through, the world’s conflicts will change – and wars and violence block world progress far more than we understand. So what lifted me up was the challenge to follow a difficult path.

Twenty years later, the Palestine problem continues and assholes still prevail, but this work hasn’t been a failure. Deep historic turn-arounds take time, often longer than a lifetime. Brian Eno once said, “I have a feeling I’m part of something that should be much bigger than it is“. Yes indeed – the last fifty years have been a frustrating time for change-agents. But many of the greatest breakthroughs in history were groundlaid by forgotten people you’ve never heard of – the people who prepared the way for those that history recognises. Without these forgotten heroes, you would not have the freedoms and blessings you have today.

Getting cancer and becoming physically disabled wasn’t part of my plan. But it has given me new purpose. I might live one year or ten, and this uncertainty is an awakener: what can I lay to rest and what am I still dissatisfied with? It has reminded me that, no matter how difficult things are, everything in life is a gift. If you choose to see things that way. So even if you feel you have no purpose or you can’t find it, that’s your gift, your resource, your background, and do your best with it. That’s where it starts.

Or perhaps you’re doing it but you downplay it, or you fail to see what’s happening as a result of your being there, or you feel you’re such a rotten, godforsaken shit that you’re a no-hoper.

When I was twenty I read a book by Alan Watts, a psychedelic guru, that deeply stirred me. It was called The Wisdom of Insecurity. Yes, the wisdom of insecurity. Sorry, folks, but in 2020, normality was suspended and this is what we’re being shown. It’s time to roll up our sleeves and pitch in. Make steps. Do it. And if you don’t do it, stop beating yourself up about it. Good luck.

Aloneness and Loneliness

This is for people who are alone or feel themselves to be alone. This issue is frequently framed in the terms and perspective of the peopled, while many of the alone tend to be outblasted on this subject by the beliefs of the peopled – the idea that aloneness is something to be rescued from.

Here’s the rub: being alone is not a bad thing. Feeling lonely is difficult, though it also has its gifts. Aloneness and loneliness are two different things: one is a fact and one is a feeling.

Part of me has always been a hermit (the other part public), so I’ve been here, in that aloneness place, many times throughout life, sometimes willingly, sometimes not, and loss has been a big life-issue for me. At present I am alone for about two-thirds of the time and I live in an isolated place, remote from the madding crowd, a place of buzzards, jackdaws and gulls.

Loneliness has various components. One is the feeling of lack of company and closeness – missing people. This is exacerbated when it’s unwilling (as with refugees, people separated by fate or by difficult choices, and the bereaved or alienated). But it can be hard even when chosen. When I moved to the far end of Cornwall I knew that old friends were unlikely to visit me and I miss them, but it was my choice – instead I talk to them in my thoughts or online.

The issue is not just to look at the hard side and judge aloneness in terms of what is lost. Everything in life has its compensations. Sometimes it’s difficult figuring out what we’re gaining from adversity, but it’s important to look at it. A lot of the hardship that we feel involves judgements we impose on ourselves and others’ judgements we take on our shoulders. This has been my story and one consequence is that now, in late life, my backbone has literally given way (as a result of bone marrow cancer) yet this experience has really helped me shed a lot of that psychological load.

I’ve long been an author, editor and online content-creator. To do what I feel called to do, I’ve had to put myself under lockdown many times. When I wrote The Only Planet of Choice in 1992 I was out of sight for 20 months – some people thought I’d moved away! Generally, my self-imposed lockdowns have been regarded as anti-social – as if I’m uninterested in and don’t care about people. But no, if I don’t lock down, how can I do what I’m here for, that people like me for and seem to benefit from? The funny thing is that, writing another book in 2020, suddenly I haven’t been anti-social but doing exactly the right thing! My 2020 lockdown started in October 2019, due to cancer, not Covid.

There’s another aspect to aloneness. Lack of stimulus and interaction can lead to a literal slowing of the psyche. This helps if one needs to unwind from a busy life, but after a longer period it leads to a crisis of energy and orientation. This is happening for many aloners, and it affects the old particularly, and those with long-Covid and fatigue – and prisoners too. I’ve noticed it in myself. I’m pretty creative, and I don’t just sit there, yet I’ve been drying up recently. By degrees. Talking to myself too much.

I overcome this in three main ways: inner journeying, pursuing an interest and going out in nature. Recently I’ve been wading through history books about the Ottomans and the conflicts of the Britons with the Saxons 1,500 years ago – that’s how I get through long hours in bed.

I think inner journeying is important for people who are bedridden or fatigued – and we do it anyway, in our woozy inner meanderings. But it can be done more proactively, and there are methods and ways to encourage it. Make it into a project. You have been given a gift of aloneness that gives you space to do this, and for much of your life you have not had such opportunities. Make a project of your inner musings and wanderings – put it to use.

When you’re alone, it’s really good to get on with activity projects too. I usually have some things that demand thought and focus and some things that are easier or more druderous, some that are creative and some that need some discipline. This is something you can do with your life that has little or nothing to do with other people: it’s yours, and no one can change that.

A solitary time can be the birthplace of something new. All of the big projects I’ve set in motion throughout my life have been conceived when I’m alone. The quiet isolation has given me vision time, inspiration space, healing, resolution, exploration and enrichment of the human in me. This is a choice – a personal one. It’s what Buddhists call a turning in the deepest seat of consciousness.

It often involves coming to peace over many issues. We need to stop beating ourselves up, running ourselves down, diverting ourselves with fear, guilt, shame and self-doubt. These blockers cause us to withhold our talents and gifts. Get this: if you care about this planet and about humanity, then activating your talents and gifts is not a choice but a duty. It’s what you’re here for, to rise to the best of your potential and to make a contribution. Forget should. Do what you can, and creatively, and your way. Whatever that is. That can include things that society or the people around you don’t necessarily deem productive or advisable.

Even if accepting aloneness doesn’t lead to dramatic outcomes, or even if we’re slowly dying, there’s something profound here about coming to peace. We all have regrets, painful memories, shadows from the past. I do too. We need to recognise them, even cherish them, and release them. They do little good, except to teach us what not to do again. Sometimes we can act to redeem these issues with the people concerned and sometimes we cannot.

Even if we cannot, releasing them still, in a funny and mysterious way, relieves the situation with people we no longer even have contact with, or we cannot face, or they might even be dead. In all interactions and conflicts it always, always, takes two to tango, and we can do something about our bit – the emotional tangles within ourselves that have complicated the issue for us and for them. Shed that load. Forgive and be forgiven. Move on.

Then there’s the fear of madness, deep in the Western psyche. Fear that you’re losing the plot, disengaging too much from groupthink and from that safe set of deeply embedded, culturally-defined judgements that were hammered into us as we grew up, about what’s right and wrong. Well, here’s a thought: in my life I have led and been part of hundreds of sharing circles, and it has been clear that many of the most insightful contributions in such circles have come from the quiet ones, the ones who struggle to articulate themselves. The ones who anticipated that they’d be misjudged or they’d say it wrong. But they can bring forth gems that they’ve mulled over very carefully, and sometimes quiet people hold the ace cards.

Quietness and disengagement are not madness, and just because society harps on endlessly about ‘mental health’, it doesn’t mean you ‘have a condition’. You see, society is mad, absolutely insane, and everything is seriously upside-down. Madness simply means that you differ from a mad consensus. You might be on your own with that, except for people who understand you, but that’s not the main issue. The main issue is that our world today is steered by people who are so busy and peopled that they don’t know themselves well enough. They don’t have time and space to look at what’s really going on. There’s something in aloneness that allows us to anchor to deeper verities, and the majority or the dominant consensus in society can be based more in hearsay than in reality. This is a global problem. And rural areas (most of the world) are being governed by people in big city buildings.

There’s more to say on all this, but I’ll stop here (my brains are giving out). But here’s a message from old Paldywan Kenobi to friends and strangers out there who are on their own: be alone well. Do your best with it. Exploit its possibilities. This transforms loneliness into an aloneness that is at peace with itself.

Oh, and one more thing. Absence makes the heart grow fonder. Lynne, my partner, and I, are together about one-third of the time (she lives two hours’ drive away), and sometimes we miss each other. Yet, sincethis is so, we have an amazing relationship that works really well. For me, aloneness makes those relationships that I do have so much more meaningful. You can be close to people even when you’re far apart, even when you don’t know where they are and what they’re doing.

Sometimes I find myself thinking of a faraway or long-lost friend, having good inner discussions with them, and then, later, I find out they’re already dead! So, with people you love, even if distant or gone, listen, and talk to them inside yourself, because you are together at that time. If anyone accuses you of being mad, just remember, they’re afraid. Afraid of their aloneness, afraid of getting caught out, exiled to the far-off realms of ‘mental illness’.

For the truth is, together or apart, there are light years between all of us. Yet we’re all here together, and this is it. No one is here by accident, and this is what we came for. So if you find yourself alone nowadays, remember, do it well. There are probably a billion souls on Earth who are alone, whether stuffed away in a high-rise or hidden away up a mountain, so you’re in good company.

Okay, I’ll leave you alone now. Time to put the kettle on. Love, Palden.

Ruminating on the 2020s

Padjelanta national park, Sapmi - Swedish Lappland
Padjelanta national park, Sapmi – Swedish Lappland

I’ve had good news. I talked on the phone to the haematologist at Treliske hospital in Truro (about 40 miles away) and she seems pleased with my results. Although the readings from blood tests are slowly rising – this is to be expected, but I could be worse than I am – the PET scan I had a couple of weeks ago, to see whether any further damage was being done, turned out well. So I do not need to go back on chemo right now. I’m glad, because I’m tired of getting poleaxed by medication and fatigue. I need to revive before the next round.

But that’s not what I want to write about.

As promised, here are my thoughts on the next ten years or so. There’s a combination of a historian, futurologist, astrologer and seasoned observer coming through here, and long hours in bed have meant a lot of time to ruminate on these things.

I think the 2020s are going to be both difficult and more encouraging than the 2010s. Covid is the beginning of a process, and there are more storms to come – that’s the difficult bit. It’s going to be an uphill grind. Or a different kind of grind than the one we had before.

Looking more longterm, this process started around 2008-12, when the overall balance of global trends tipped critically, and it has been ramping up over the last ten years: the world crisis is no longer a thing of the future but it’s now present and here, in all departments of life and coming at us in waves. We have entered the inevitable period of price-paying for the profligate lives we’ve led in the rich countries and the destructive aspects of the world system we’ve created. Some of us saw this coming way back in the 1960s, but the majority didn’t agree or want to look.

During the 2010s we needed to be given gritty, distressing challenges to get us engaged, to grind us down and prepare us for what happens next. It was in many ways a dispiriting decade, but a lot of good things bubbled underneath. Many revolutions failed, but many people were changed by them. Covid is in a way a climax of that phase and the beginning of the next one. It’s a punctuation point.

The issue is this: since the world has delayed action on necessary human and planetary issues, there’s a lot of catch-up to do, and a lot of damage has been done. We’ve lost fifty years, and things can’t wait. Events are taking over. This is no lnger a matter of opinion.

There’s a long way to go before we find the full range of solutions – it will take the whole 21st Century. To progress, we need to be accelerated into a process of change that will take us out of our comfort zones and confront us with hard facts. Humanity needs to get itself mobilised. Now it’s a time of consequences, imperatives and seeking solutions.

Though a few might think it’s the only option, an all-out catastrophe would not help. Catastrophes hurt, disable, stun and set people back, and they are not the best recipe for change. We need to make big choices and get behind them – even if we’re arm-twisted by events to do so. What’s needed is a deepening series of crises that tip us incrementally into change-processes, forcing us over a succession of thresholds and pushing us to get really real about our situation and its many details, nuances and implications.

It’s especially about human society. Without substantial changes in our group psychology and behaviour, we will not get through the century intact. This concerns cooperation and sharing, and it brings up collective emotional issues about identity, power, who decides, and how much we really care about nature and human nature. It concerns Us and Them.

So people across the world are variously cleaving into progressives and resisters, new tribes and old tribes, and this is the new politics. Ultimately, humanity has to realise it is one tribe, but this will come clear only when Ronald Reagan’s late-1980s Reykjavik Proposition comes true: humanity will unite when it realises it is not alone. But without humanity cooperating as one planetary race, there will be insufficient resolution of environmental issues, tech hazards and the wide range of potentially fatal issues that face us now.

So we’re being accelerated, and it is reasonable to expect further crises ahead, and particularly multiple crises happening at once, or cascading crises with proliferating implications – as Covid is with the social and economic issues it has precipitated. The urge to restore normality is an unconscious reaction to this acceleration, part of the process of letting go of the past. Normality will not be restored, no matter how many dollars and scientists you throw at it. But there are still options. It’s just that the new normal is going to keep changing.

The 2020s are likely to be very different from the 2010s. The shit will increasingly hit the fan. But something else has been bubbling up underneath to meet this and change the equation: a growing surge of new ideas, perspectives, attitudinal changes, technological advances and challenging situations that nevertheless prompt progress and positive developments – as in ‘necessity is the mother of invention’.

Astrologically, an interesting and rare configuration is approaching in the later 2020s for which my best description is ‘cultural florescence under duress’. This will not be easy because we’ll be battling with more crises. But the difference is that the tide will be flowing more strongly then, and this loosens things up. It allows creativity, innovation, new ways of seeing things and new reality-configurations. There is likely to be a battle of ideas, perspectives and loosening positions, and a generational change in which Millennials will be coming to power (and my own generation will be dying off).

One of the big questions will be, do the people exist for the system or does the system exist for the people? Questions of systemic control, the rights of the individual, the needs of the collective and the balance of the three.

This will not be the old workers-and-capitalists battles of the 20th Century: it will be between progressive people and ideas at all levels of society, and resisters, some of them indisposed to change, some victims of change, some of them vested interests, and many who are older, marginalised and disoriented. These too need to be considered, because this isn’t any more about my side or your side of the argument, it’s about the complete outcome of all arguments, for all people and in all areas of life.

So we have come to a need to rehumanise society. Another issue concerns social willingness to cooperate. If change is imposed, and if governments and those at the top of society fail to act in people’s overall benefit and society fails to come together to cooperate, then resistance, exceptionalism and non-cooperation will ensue, complicating things terribly – this issue has been tested in the Covid crisis.

So we’re likely to get an escalation of both problems and solutions, and we’ll be challenged to see when solutions are actually solutions. If we judge events on the basis of past norms, there will be a plethora of problems, but if we judge them on the basis of the possibilities they offer, they become a solution. Much hangs on this. In the Covid crisis, from which everyone is so anxious to escape, we have been given multiple solutions but we fail to see them – we choose to focus on the problem side, on what’s being lost. And yes, things are hard.

This year we have wobbled over a tipping point, toward rehumanising society and making the world more fit to live in. Millions of people are thinking deeply about their lives and about life itself. The rich world is at last starting to become aware of its consumption patterns, which need to reduce radically. And the developing world needs to find new ways of developing from those that have existed before.

Then there’s ‘mental health’, a term based on the presumption that conventional normality is good health. Chaos has broken out in people’s lives, and for many people it’s really hard work. Many, including me, have also had to face being very alone. But calling it a ‘mental health crisis’ avoids the main point.

We’re in a rather necessary spiritual crisis, affecting everyone in varying degrees and ways. For some, this has been really tough – the bottom has dropped out of their universe and many people are flailing. It’s all about facing our demons and fears and, as individuals, communities and societies, we all need to face them. Old values, expectations, judgements and preferences are becoming obsolete, and there’s a lot of grasping at straws, blame and escapology going on. This is a transitional inner growth crisis for many, a time of what disaster professionals call ‘epistemic insecurity’ – confusion over what and who to believe.

In the later 2020s, specifically around 2024-2028, we’re coming into an avalanche period, a torrent of events and issues – but I don’t think it will be as blocked and struggly as the 2010s were. There will be pain and also increasing relief – relief arising from a cumulative adjustment to and acceptance of what’s happening. But the pain often comes first and the relief tends to follow. We’re in the pain bit for now.

Conservative forces from the top to the bottom of society are beginning to realise that things are changing anyway – and this applies also to that part of ourselves that prefers our comfortable routines, habits and security. The part that wants to be the exception. The part that says, ‘I’m up for change as long as it doesn’t affect me’.

There’s a rule in geology: the erosive power of a river increases as the square of its volume. That is, when volume of flow increases three times, erosive power increases nine times. That’s what we’ll see in the 2020s: the erosive power of events. The flow and volume of change is increasing, and it’s eroding anything that gets in the way. Whether we like it or not, it’s coming at us.

But the good news is that a flood also clears out the channels and generates energy. The challenge for us all, for individuals, communities and nations, is to get used to living and operating in a far more tumultuous and challenging world.

What is the gift in that? It will make it easier to face the 2030s and 2040s. Because things are not going to slow down.

But there’s an extra issue here. Whenever the world fully accepts change, things will progress faster but it will still take time. Forests take half a century to grow. People need time to adjust and sort things out. Innovations need trialling. Cities take years to redesign. Soil takes time to reconstitute. This means that, even when the big decisions have been made, it will take decades to find out whether it will actually work. By the 2040s this could raise world neurosis levels to a peak – or it could bring a new kind of sanity. This is new territory – we’ve never done this before and we don’t know what will happen. So the decades following 2030ish could be a nail-biting period.

To put a time-perspective on all this, the two big dates of the 21st century are these: 2048 and 2065. The changes we’re in now are operating in a time-frame from 2012 to 2048ish. I won’t go into that now (my book Power Points in Time tells all), but it’s worth flagging up here.

The 2020s are part of the run-up to 2048 – astrologically a Uranus opposition Pluto. The conjunction, the beginning of the cycle, was in 1965-66, and the square, the growth-crisis, was in 2012ish. So 2048 is the climax of all that started in the 1960s. The 1960s were a time of dawning awareness that all was not well on our planet, and that we faced daunting times. Times that we now are in.

2065 I would call the beginning of the start of the future. The time of nail-biting might well be over, and we’ll know the facts of our situation – the crunch-time is likely to have been around 2048, followed by a rather shell-shocked post-crisis period following it, dealing with pressing realities and taking stock. By 2065 I would imagine that, whatever the state of the world, we’ll have a clearer sense of what comes next. It’s a Neptune square Pluto, the crunchpoint of a cycle starting in 1892.

So Covid has upset the apple-cart. The starting gun has been fired. And, to be honest, even though things are hard, do you really want normality restored? Do you really want to go back to the way things were before? It’s strange to say this, but in some respects, since cancer took over my life a year ago, it’s been coming clear that it’s the best thing that could happen to me. But I do also choose to see it that way – not just in my head but in my bones.

Well, that’s what I think anyway. Whether my prognoses resemble the reality to be, we shall see. None of us can presume to know the big answer. That’s quite amazing, really.

Some links:
www.possibilities2050.org – my free online report on the state of the world in 2050 (not astrological) – free online
https://www.penwithpress.co.uk/product/power-points-in-time/ – my book Power Points in Time, and how time passes
http://www.palden.co.uk/living/lit16-makinghistory.html – if you’re interested in astrological cycles in the 19th and 20th Centuries – free online
http://www.palden.co.uk/ephem/The Historical Ephemeris, for serious astrology and history wonks – free online

Pilgrimage

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Jupiter and Saturn have been sailing majestic and low in the sky around midnight. Jupiter is the really bright one – at its brightest right now at the time of the sun’s annual opposition to it – and Saturn is the less bright one about ten moon-widths to the left. During the Jupiter-Pluto-Sun-Saturn period of conjunctions back around January, the whole Covid thing started lifting off, and now we are at a junction point where things could get better or worse, or different for different countries and people. Plus the wider reverberations that arise from all this which, in a way, are more important than Covid itself – there are social quakes coming, as we grasp the full emergent implications of all this.

Later, at winter solstice 2020, we’ll have a conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. That’s to say, the process we’re in is going to continue and normality won’t return. Longer term, in a 5-10 year perspective, things are hotting up for major shifts and changes, and we’ve already, since January, seen the starting symptoms of an escalating lanslide of issues that will unfold in the coming decade as things accelerate. This is not just about Covid – which historically is but a catalyst – but it’s about the wider and deeper social-economic-ecological changes afoot.

The issue that drives this, really, is ecological, and the way it is now reaching into human society. Covid is caused by human incursion on nature, and nature is coming back at us. Other things are going on too – just yesterday Lynne and I were down in the field below the farm, and the quietness, the lack of insects on a balmy, warm summer’s day, was noticeable. This is big. And that’s just one thing.

But this ecological starting point then reverberates through the social and economic realms, this time through the agency of Covid, but in future it will be other catalysts. They will be unpredictable even though foreseen – anything from megastorms and droughts to invasive species, extinct species, toxic events, social or political madnesses, or anything. I’ve covered the full range of foreseeable issues in my Possibilities 2050 report. These will impact on us in multifarious and intricate ways, just as Covid has done.

Here I’ve been, locked down in the far beyond, watching. ‘Far beyond’ is the literal meaning of the name ‘Penwith’, where I live. But in another sense I watch from the far beyond, listening closely to things more than people. I watch and listen for the underlying threads, and in my long hours wooning in bed in my fatigued post-chemo stupours, it moves around in my psyche, turning over and, occasionally, out comes a big ‘Aha’. If I had time I would write it down or record it, but my plate is full already, and I’m active and serviceable only 6-8 hours each day.

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This is how you make love with a bronze age menhir

Besides, most of my focus is on finishing the book I’m writing. Home stretch now. I’m being careful with it, trying to make sure everything I write holds up, because I’m saying a lot and it will rattle a few cages. Most of my books are about three books in terms of density of ideas. This book, Shining Land, is both about the ancient sites of West Penwith (which has more per square mile than anywhere in Britain) and it’s also about ‘megalithic geoengineering’ and its relationship with consciousness. I reckon the people of the neolithic and bronze ages knew how to engineer consciousness, how to build it into the mechanisms of their civilisation and how to work with the inner component of nature in ways that we, in coming decades, need to learn more about.

So, I’m making good use of the situation I’m now in – leaving behind some ideas while I’m still here to leave them. Which goes to show, there can be virtues in having cancer – or in anything we customarily regard as adverse. It has been hard over the last month or so: things have been changing but I am not, overall, getting better. I seem to have cracked the myeloma itself, at least for now, but my back and bones are not good, and I have achey, naggy arthritis. At least, I was told it was arthritis, but I am not sure, and no one is giving it attention.

What’s most troubling is that I do not have overall guidance and supervision from any doctor or practitioner who is knowledgeable in both conventional and complementary medicine. Someone to help me understand and assess the whole picture. I have loads of disparate specialists, doctors and practitioners, bless them, each saying their own bit and recommending their own strategies, and some of the things they get excited about are not my most pressing concerns. So I have to think and feel my way through all this very carefully, and I get an interesting conflict sometimes between what I am told and what intuitively I actually feel. Hardly anyone actually touches me, looks in my eyes or listens to my heart – it’s all remote. It’s MRIs, CTs, PETs, or I even have a radionics genius in Canada or another on an E-Lybra machine in Devon.

The paradox is that, throughout life, I’ve had good health, so few doctors and practitioners actually know me. This is tricky because I’m a one-off odd-bod, and I don’t seem to conform to the normal rules of health and medicine. So doctors and healers take a while to figure out how this guy works. I’ve had several instances in recent months where I have healed or responded far faster and easier than was expected. I do seem to have good medicine-buddhas. But I have also paid a high price in after-effects from some of the drugs I’ve imbibed in the last six months. And I’m the sort of person who can’t easily be shoved through the system in the allotted forty minutes.

Tomorrow I’m going to a chiropractor. He knows me from the time before I was diagnosed with cancer, and that’s a great advantage. He’s also very experienced. I’m in such a state skeletally that I’m not sure how much even he can help, but I need to have a new template for my twisted bodily frame to align to. I’m working on my posture and movements but I feel so out of sync that I need re-setting, to have a design or standard to work to. My bones click on an hourly basis, and when I lie down on my back at night (it’s painful at first), I can click myself in four or five places. It’s a relief to do so, but it’s troubling to be so flexible and frail.

So the doctors think my biggest risk is lung cancer, while I think that, if I’m going to kick the bucket anytime soon, it will more likely be from complications arising from broken bones. My bones have been eaten away by the cancer, a blood and bone marrow condition, so I am susceptible to impacts, and I am yet to find out how many such instances I can take before it’s better to check out.

So things are progressing, and also they aren’t progressing, and it’s a labyrinth to stagger though – walking sticks flying as I totter my way through life. Yesterday we made pilgrimage to my favourite place, Carn Les Boel. It was a mile each way and we took it slowly. Pity the poor person who walks with me, but Lynne said yesterday that she’s observing small things in nature that she didn’t give attention to before, because we walk so slowly. This is one of the gifts of doddery old age – you see and bear witness to things others don’t!

I’m not that old – hitting 70 in September – but my body is around 85 and my psyche has had to change to get used to that, to become somewhat like the psyche of a distinctly old man. It’s easy to get annoyed or upset over things I can no longer do, but what’s the point? It just makes life more difficult, for me and for those helping me. The gift here is that being threatened with death makes me very grateful for each day, no matter how low things go. And no one is bombing my house, and a hurricane isn’t on its way: some people have to face stuff like this even when they have cancer, and in this I am lucky. People ask me how I am, and mostly I say, and really mean, “I’m still alive“! Problem is, apart from this, my answer can change hourly, depending on what’s happening right then. Sometimes I’m glowing and sometimes I’m like a lead weight.

palden-carnlesboel-55437Yesterday, at Carn Les Boel, I was glowing. I love looking out over the ocean, and the spirit-beings on the carn are ancient and benign, like old friends, holding me in their upstretched hands. My soul grows and I get stronger in spirit, and this lies at the core of this process. I asked for healing and wholing and offered up my life, to be where I’m most needed and to do what best I can do. I listened to the linguistics of the waves, visited infinity and felt my way round the world, blessing people I know and people I don’t. It was a holy day, and certainly a good change from the rather quiet, shut-in life I’ve been living recently. And God bless Lynne for making this pilgrimage with me – and it’s her pilgrimage too.

Planet Earth is a strange yet beautiful place, and humanity is in such a mess yet so full of promise. I feel so engaged in my heart yet so distant from people and places. I wish I could return to Palestine, to be with old friends there – they are really going through it, both with Covid and with current politics (Palestine’s annexation by Israel and indifferent sabotage by so many countries, including Britain), and their economy is stumbling more than it usually stumbles, and they really don’t deserve this.

palden-carnlesboel-55445I’d love to go to Mali to visit Tinzibitane, the Tuareg village I’ve worked with since 2014. Talking of which, I’m going to try to organise a whip-round to support them soon, so please consider scraping together what you can. In general, the village has been doing well, but Covid has drained their finances. They want to do more to sell their crafts abroad, since tourism in Mali has collapsed. They’re perhaps 70% self-sufficient but when they interact with the wider world they need money. They now have no capital to invest in materials, so I want to try to help them get capitalised so that they can start work on this. More about this soon.

Even here on the farm, far from the madding crowd, there’s a sense of things hotting up around us. The prop planes that take off for the Scilly Isles have been flying in and out. Go out on the roads and the big, black, shiny cars of the English are here. There’s more of a buzzing in the air. But it’s motors, not insects – and one consequence will be fewer birds, like the swallows and bats that swoop around outside my window, who feed on flies.

Bless you all. All will be well. But so much of the secret lies in the way we see things. Life is a problem or life is a gift, and the choice we make about the way we see things is where our free will truly lies – whatever our situation.

Love, Palden

Powers That Be

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Gurnard’s Head, West Penwith, Cornwall

There’s a lot of conspiracy stuff going on right now. In my estimation, some of it is more or less correct, and quite a lot is projection and a rather paranoiac interpretation of life, history and geopolitics.

In a way, conspiracy thinking is useful. Divide and rule. Polarise the debate. Analysis paralysis. Release some useful information, knowing that some people will interpret things extremely, then rubbish them. This is partially deserved because of many conspiratorialists’ deficient sense of historical and political proportion. Shit does happen, yes, but a lot of what looks like shit isn’t really.

Nothing is as black-and-white as we might wish. It’s not just smoke and mirrors: reality is like that, a matter of perception and interpretation – Buddhists, the world’s first psychologists, have been teaching us that for over two millennia.

There’s a selectivity to conspiracy theories: it’s easy to rail against things we hate and resent, but we fail to go the whole way – conspiracy buffs still love their mobile phones, oppress women and believe whites are in charge. Some have a strange way of adopting populist right-wing politics.

I was a victim of conspiracy at age twenty, persecuted as a dissenter and dealer. The masons did it for me and I landed up in trouble, eventually seeking refuge in Sweden. I learned something from that experience: my oppressors lacked true intelligence and they were on the wrong side of history. I felt sad for them.

They are victims of a virus, an emotional-mental virus driven by fear, a narrowness of spirit that believes that self lies at the centre of all things. A fear of the vastness, of ‘God’, of the other inhabitants of the universe.

Here we come to Covid. I’m going to say something strangely controversial: Covid is a great gift. It represents a solution, a breakthrough, a relief, the beginning of a great healing. By saying this I seek not to deny the dead and the suffering (I’m getting my fair share). The best medicine does taste bitter. But Covid is saving us from far more deaths and much more suffering later on.

How so? Covid is accelerating change and bringing forward issues we need to face. We were too busy deluding ourselves, avoiding the big questions. It’s significant that Black Lives Matter is coming up right now – black people are beginning to assume their future role as leaders of humanity, following after the Chinese by the end of this century.

They raise a bigger question on behalf of all of us: is the system here for the people, or are the people here for the system? Thanks to African-derived people for bringing this up: their frustration is sufficient to actually rock the boat.

We’re being saved from a bigger catastrophe. We’re being let down slowly in an incremental series of shocks. Though some are dying and having a hard time, these shocks are saving us from a bigger, potentially terminal, catastrophe. The soul of humanity is in a process of redeeming itself. It’s a shock even to archangels as they watch a world die, and they debate how they might save eight billion hurt, damaged and excarnated souls from a destroyed Earth, who risk infecting the wider universe with their anger, ill-will, corruption and pain.

On the news, as I write, in a shocked tone they are announcing that the UK economy shrank by 20% in April. Well folks, this is a gift. It has long been needed. The economy will have to shrink yet more in order for us to achieve sustainability. People have had a revelation through Covid: a realisation that the lives they lived were not the lives they feel best living and giving to their kids.

Now we shall see who has the guts, the necessary despair, to follow through.

Problem is, there are conspiracies. And some things look like conspiracies but they aren’t. Covid was not caused by conspiring humans – that’s too narrow and reductionist an assessment. But, given that Covid is happening, power-holders indeed are making use of Covid as a way of increasing social control, reinforcing fear, making money and pursuing their agendas, driven by a fear of losing power, of facing their naked truth. But it’s not a neatly simple conspiracy, and there are also rivalries at the top.

Some things look like conspiracies but they are often coincidences, fuckups or groups acting in concert since they share interests – there is an ingrained, conditioned tendency amongst humans to act in self-interest and we’re good at it. Also, conspiracies, even the great Illuminati themselves, even when advised by the greatest of professors, do not have all the answers or exercise their full intelligence, because they are limited by fear. And as white men, their time is ending.

And as an educated, relatively privileged white man, my time is over.

Conspiracies rarely work properly. They can jog things in certain directions to an extent, but look more closely at the main issues that have been labelled as conspiracies in recent decades. Most were screwed up, or circumstances overrode them, or they’ve created unintended consequences. Oil interests did not succeed in the Iraq war. The British empire fell, and badly. PNAC, the Project for a New American Century that devised 9/11, is producing the opposite result longterm to what was intended. Organisational systems are clunky. There are wild cards. And the world system is inherently flawed and self-destructive.

If Covid was indeed thought up by a conspiracy, then they needed to think further. It wasn’t a good plan. They could have done better. The mobile phone and EM conspiracy is far more effective than Covid, though fortuitously Covid has given it a lift. No, if Covid was devised, it was devised by nature and higher powers, as a perfect awakening plan. Shake up the humans, twist their arms, put a spanner in their works – give them a revelation exposing where power really lies.

Besides, are you not part of a conspiracy? If not, why not? People think Big Brother is the only show in town – this is a father/authority complex that obscures clearer vision. No, it is not the only show. History is on the side of the conspiracy that has thus far been suppressed: the people, nature and the ways of the universe. The Unconscious always wins because the Conscious and the Ego are but concepts, complexes. However, they’re strong, and people sincerely believe in them. If in doubt, head for the nearest security – we all do it.

This concerns competing viral thoughtforms. There is the Logic of Destruction and the Logic of Life. We’re all being faced with another layer of a perennial question: which side are we on? The battle for the hearts and minds of humanity is hotting up, and our children and grandchildren have come here for it. There’s more to go.

There’s also a further truth hidden behind this. Life is a movie, a phantasm, a fiction. Everything we have ever experienced passes. There’s light and dark within all of us. Light shines awareness on hidden things, and darkness gives meaning to light.

Both levels are true. This paradox doesn’t make sense, but rationality is a construct, an explanation, not a reality. So, listen more clearly to things than to people. The fear of death that so dominates the Covid crisis arises from a fear of facing a deeper truth: the unavoidable truth that life is like a fart in the Void and we’re all forgotten. Everything that starts comes to an end.

So give thanks – we live in blessed times. The curtains are being opened, stage by stage. The main problem is summed up by philosopher Edmund Burke: for the triumph of evil it is necessary only that good people do nothing. And that the goodness within all of us remains dormant, withheld, concealed unless we let it out.

So yes, be aware of hidden dynamics in our society, of where the power is believed to lie, but get on with your life while you have one.

Follow your truth. Be willing to self-question and re-evaluate. This way, the evolution of humanity is accelerated. This way we avoid disaster. This way, we teach our children well, conveying a lesson they won’t be taught in school. To qualify as humans we need to pass the tests of heart and soul. Pass this, and we qualify for the next stage.

Well, that’s what I believe, at least. With love. Palden

Carry that Weight

Cape Cornwall as seen from the Nancherrow valley
Cape Cornwall as seen from the Nancherrow valley

I keep on falling into eureka-traps. This has been a lifelong blessing and a bane. They usually come late in the evening and, from that moment on, I’m compelled to pursue them. It starts with a brainwave, a prompt to look a things through a certain optic, often to overcome my own resistances too, and then it relentlessly unfolds from there. Currently fuelled by rose congou tea, interspersed with sips of a homoeopathic remedy made of potentised lava from the Hekla volcano in Iceland.

Or perhaps it came when Lynne and I recently visited Bosiliack Barrow, a late-neolithic chambered cairn. That’s a great place for fetching insights. Sometimes it’s as if the spirits of the place almost want to blurt them out, excited that at last they have a receptive ear. Many of my archaeological revelations have originated there, and Lynne seems to ‘get’ stuff too, and she’s always glowing afterwards. I struggled along on my sticks, with Lynne patiently following, to ensure I wouldn’t fall – but having four legs is pretty stable, to be honest, even when the world is wobbling.

Anyway, I’d been resisting this because I somehow knew it would open up a line of work that would proliferate endlessly, and part of me is tired of these eureka moments. I love them too, and it’s my life, but I’m on a major Neptune opposition Saturn transit at present and I’m feeling the weight of it. Feeling the weight of my patterns. Feeling the weight of my back – it hurts continually – and I’m gravitationally compromised.

This new project started actually because I realised there was a gap in my book concerning sacred geometry. I’m not good at it, you see. I’m good at visual pattern recognition but not at numbers – azimuths, angles, proportions, pi and phi ratios. So I was holding back, putting up a prayer that a geometry expert might appear – and they didn’t. Spontaneously, last night, fullmoon as it happened, I sat down, shrugged shoulders and started playing around on the map.

Within two hours I had a load of significant geometric triangles. It was quite a shock, how easily it came. Now I have to measure angles and distances and try to figure out the meaning and significance of all this. The 1% inspiration bit is over and 99% perspiration bit is yet to come. I’ve just started this map and it’s unfinished, an experimental draft map at this stage.

It’s here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer…

This’ll probably provoke a torrent of e-mails, messages, YouTube videos, most of which I can’t reply to, and requests to make maps of Northumberland or Essex, to which the answer is No, please do it yourself and show me what you come up with!

You see, I might sound vigorous and in good shape, but I’m not. Recently I’ve been labouring, achingly holding myself up, experiencing difficulty looking after my house and cooking, and I get terrible fatigue. My former neighbour Penny has just started helping me though, which is an immense relief. I’m a domesticated Virgo who usually runs a good house, but I can’t keep up now. My bathroom is spotless and she’s attacking the kitchen next.

Never in my life have I expected to be cut down like this. I never knew what fatigue or cancer could be like until I started experiencing them personally. Early on in my cancer treatment I felt I suddenly aged to about 95, and I assumed I’d grow back down again to my current bodily age (70 in September), but it’s hardly happening. Well, perhaps I’m 88 now. I’ve got chemo side-effects to deal with, such as arthritis (aching hips) and neuropathy (feet filled with chilli-pepper, it feels like). I can no longer tell how much I’m young at heart and how much I’m a grumbly old codger.

At least in body. I’m such an incorrigibly positive fucking optimist, and my heart, mind and soul are doing just fine, in a way – if anything, cancer-riddled self-examination has been a gift, an uplift amidst the grinding pain and the threat of early death. But I have my down moments, and recently I’ve been wading around in the underworld, dredging my fears, grinding my stuff and talking to myself too much.

I let it out through the keyboard. Only some of this is visible to you folks – much of it is accumulating in the book I’m writing, hidden away on my computer. It’s not available except for a sample chapter and contents list for publishers. Or it’s longterm projects that emerge gradually, like the Meyn Mamvro archive. I spend endless hours on these things.

I get dual feelings. I love my work yet I’m tired of keyboards. Been a keyboard-slave since about 1964, when I started annoying my mother by using her clackety old mechanical typewriter. By 1971 I started out on the world’s then fourth largest computer: it had a memory of 64k! It was all Fortran IV, punchcards and dot-matrix printouts.

This said, with the last of the money that you people on Facebook kindly donated to help me in my cancer process, I’ve bought a new computer – a laptop called a Toughbook (military grade, no less). I got £350 off the price! My old computer died, after 11 years’ stalwart service in deserts, airports and on Cornish farms. I’ve also bought a studio quality sound recorder (£150 off). At some point podcasts will emerge through it. I used to do radio in the Seventies and Naughties, so I’m no stranger to it.

This is the kind of thing I’m doing with my new life. I can’t travel, hobnob, teach, agitate or organise things, so I’m keyboarding a lot, doing that blessing and bane business. At great length. There’s nothing much else to do – I’ve been locked down since November, when I was diagnosed with cancer. But then, half of me is a hermit, and I live in a lovely place, so I’m okay about that.

And the fool on the hill sees the sun go down, and the eyes in his head see the world spinning round…

One of the banes of astrologers is that we’re always asked, “What does a Mars square Jupiter mean?“. Well, at least that’s better than being required to guess some stranger’s sun sign, as if that’s a test of how good an astrologer we might be, or as if getting it wrong constititutes proof that astrology is a load of bunkum.

Here in these words you’ve had an exposition of what a Neptune opposition Saturn ‘means’ – the kind of issues that can come up. In one sense it’s a time of uplift and in another sense it’s about carrying that weight.

The doctor has suddenly remembered I’m here, and tells me that she thinks something more might be wrong with me. They want to fill me with radioactivity and do a PET scan, in the back of a truck in the car park at Trelliske hospital in Truro. I have strong reservations. About the scan, not the truck.

Staying alive takes on strange twists and turns. But at last it’s raining, and nature is drinking it up. Yesterday we had multiple rainbows – perhaps somewhere in the world a great being was being born.

Amazingly, life continues another day.

Please forgive me for (mostly) not answering e-mails and messages. You see, I’m not as active and capable as most people, and if I spent time chatting I wouldn’t be getting on with what I’m called to do. Like the above crazy map-making.

Love from me in Cornwall

Paldywan Kenobi