Sometimes life is a real grinder, shoving us through things that can test us to the limits, whether or not we like it.
But there’s always something to learn from it all.
I went down to the woods below our farm to sit by the stream with my recorder to capture bird sonics, though actually a podcast is what came up.
It’s a streamside chat about going through stuff – in my case, cancer is a large part of that – and dealing with this very strange situation of living on Planet Earth.
It’s a place full of goodness and badness and everything in between. When you approach the end of your life and see it a bit more from the outside, you can’t help but wonder, “What was all that really for?“.
Short answer: the evolution of the soul, through learning from what life teaches us and making a contribution.
Though of course it’s much more complex than that.
With music by an Oregonian friend, Galen Hefferman. Recorded on a mossy log in West Penwith, Cornwall – near Land’s End – with the help of some twittering birds, jackdaws, the stream and some Atlantic breezes. 24 mins long.
The ongoing battle for the hearts and minds of humanity now approaches a crunch point in human history. I’ll start with a little astrology to flesh out this thought, though you don’t have to understand it to get what I’m referring to: it’s visible in the underlying messages and impressions that current events convey.
This year (23rd March to 11th June 2023, to be precise) and next year (21st January to 1st Sept, and finally from 20th November 2024 onwards) the planet Pluto moves into Aquarius. It will then chug slowly through Aquarius until 2043-44, for twenty years. It has been in Capricorn since 2008-9, the time of the banking crisis and a deeply historic tilt in the world’s power and wealth away from the rich West or Global North, toward the majority world, the East and the Global South.
Why doesn’t Pluto move into Aquarius just once? The reason is this. Though the planets all orbit the Sun in roughly constant orbits, and in the same direction, we see them from a moving viewing platform, Earth. This leads to a two-steps-forward, one-step-back motion of these planets as seen from Earth, rather like moving trains where a faster train, overtaking a slower train, makes the slower train look as if it is going backwards. It isn’t – it’s just their relative motion.
So Earth, orbiting faster than planets further out in our solar system, makes them seem to go backwards, or retrograde, for periods. Hence the multiple dates given above. This year Pluto enters Aquarius, stops and retreats back into Capricorn, then it edges a bit further during 2024, again backing out slightly, until finally it stays in Aquarius from November 2024.
Pluto takes 250ish years to orbit the Sun. It deals with historic-scale stuff. It’s in the same position now as it was at the time of the American declaration of independence in 1776 (which is one reason why USA has a major constitutional problem right now). This was also the buildup to the French Revolution of 1789-92. It last entered Aquarius in 1778 and left it in 1798, after the French Revolution had turned bad and the progressive dictator Napoleon took over. The industrial revolution, with its dark, satanic mills, was also lifting off.
These weren’t just big events: they marked the beginning of a long cycle of development and dominance of Western culture – an age of urbanisation, industrialisation, mass movements, voters and consumers – that, by now, has hit the sandbanks.
Meanwhile, during this time, the world’s population swelled from one to eight billion. Paradoxically, as the crowds grew, with it came the breakdown of families and communities. And, guess what, an underlying theme of Aquarius is human collectivities, our individual involvements in them and our feelings of belongingness. Our sense of identity hangs around the social groupings we identify with.
Together with Uranus (85ish years) and Neptune (165ish years), Pluto tends to influence underlying, history-spanning issues – the rises, transitions and declines of megatrends, nations and peoples. Except during rare moments when we see current events in a more historic perspective, we tend to ignore such critical tilts in the drift of history. But these moments do hit us. The fall of the Berlin Wall was not just an isolated dramatic event – it marked the end of a chapter and the start of a new one, a key tipping point in the tilting of wealth and power from North to South and from West to the East.
We all thought it was about the capitalist and socialist worlds. Yes, it was, but it was also a power shift from the urban-industrial-materialistic North to the South, itself part of a still larger process, levelling up the Global South and levelling down the Global North. And this, wait for it, is a preparation for something even larger, which will be relevant by the latter half of this century – the eventual global integration of humanity into one planetary people.
Out of necessity: the big issues before us are global, and humanity’s divisions and inter-tribal frictions, though still relevant, are getting in the way. In this context, the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine, or the rivalry between China and America, are already rather obsolete as a way of solving our world’s current main pressing problems.
Pluto has been dragging through Capricorn for 16 years, and this also marks the end of a 35ish year Capricornian period, beginning in the 1980s-90s when Uranus and Neptune chugged through Capricorn. The transition to Aquarius marks a shift of focus. We’re emerging from a time of the Megamachine – finance, technology, institutions, corporations, regimes, oligarchies, laws and regulations – to a time of people and crowds, of very human and societal issues. It concerns the collective wisdom and madnesses of people in our millions.
Classic symptoms of this shift are the people scenes we’ve witnessed in the Turkiye-Syria earthquakes and the Ukrainian war. Two aspects of the Aquarian dilemma present themselves: in Ukraine we’ve seen the power of social solidarity in response to man-made threat, and in Syria and Turkiye we’ve seen social disintegration and helplessness, decreed by the full force of nature. Both provided suggestive images for the future, prompts that draw our attention to a basic hard fact of public and social life.
That is: we hang together or we hang separately. The choice is ours.
It’s that simple. What matters more: shared interest or self-interest? Global or national-regional-local priorities? Where do we as sovereign individuals stand amidst an eight billion strong throng? Covid-19 and its lockdowns flagged up these issues for all to see, starting a process which will escalate over the coming decades.
The image of People-against-the-Megamachine has been symbolised in the many uprisings and protests of the last few decades, recently in Belarus, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Peru, Sudan, China and other places, and in the Arab revolutions. These were based not on high-faluting philosophies or beliefs: they were straight expressions of human need and preference. While Pluto was in Capricorn, the People lost.
But this is changing – and that change could be a mixed blessing, not only for those at the top of the Megamachine. This concerns the dynamics of public sentiment, opinion and collective action, which sometimes is inspired, sometimes brutal and unfair. We’ve seen a lot of polarisation in recent years – the opposite dynamic to what is needed right now. For in the 21st Century, together we stand and divided we fall.
Here we come to the battle for the hearts and minds of humanity. I’m not talking here about Russia against NATO, Iran against Saudi Arabia, Palestinians against Israelis or people on the streets against the army, or any other divisively oppositional scenarios that the media do love to exaggerate. It’s not about goodbuys and badguys, Us and Them, or right and wrong – though these, on a certain level, are nevertheless relevant. It goes much deeper.
It’s all to do with a deep-rooted condition that emerged millennia ago, a fundamental perception of threat – threat against which we must fight and defend ourselves. It is rooted in a belief that They, over there, are different from Us, and that We are more important, right and good than They are.
It’s a mindset, a projection, a mega-meme rooted largely in past pain and in fear. It’s a set of pre-programmed, knee-jerk reactions that can easily be manipulated by anyone with a neat narrative to spread around, if it hooks into a lurking public feeling bubbling up from underneath. It rests on a feeling of victimhood, which that lot, the badguys over there, are to blame for.
Israelis call this hasbarah – repeatedly accusing the other side of intentions and crimes that our side is itself doing. It provides cover and justification for many bad things to happen. It’s often aimed at the wrong targets too: Palestinians often say, “Why are Israelis having it out with us, when it was the Europeans who gave them such a hard time?“.
In any rivalry or conflict, both parties play a part in the same game. This doesn’t make them equal or relieve the primary perpetrator or the stronger party of its own responsibility. But both sides are in the same game. They see badness in the other side, believing that they themselves are not like that. But the trouble is that, at least to some extent, our side of the argument is always flawed. As Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount: “Thou hypocrite, first cast the plank out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote of dust from thy brother’s eye“.
Brits and Germans, though neighbours and of the same blood, still live under the lurking shadow of two world wars. It came up over the supply of tanks to Ukraine. The Brits were enthusiastic because we have a winners’ mentality and almost desperately want to keep it that way, to prove that we aren’t as small and insignificant as we actually are. Such victors’ bravado conveniently obscures the war crimes we committed in WW2 such as the systematic bombing of German cities – which, when the Russians are doing the same in Ukraine, we find to be abhorrent. Meanwhile, the Germans were understandably reluctant to enter another war, for historic reasons – some would say guilt, others would say a sense of responsibility.
These shadows from the past cloud our responses to real-life situations now. They are cover-ups and avoidances. International relations are riddled with this stuff.
Dig deeper down and, in Ukraine, we’re faced with a dilemma. Most people would prefer to avoid war but we don’t usually do the necessary work in advance to stop it happening. There is a current risk of civil war in USA, and not many people are doing anything about that – Reds and Blues simply think the other side is plain wrong, and that’s that.
Sting once sang, ‘The Russians love their children too‘, yet today we Brits, and NATO, are busy killing those very children, conveniently using Ukrainians as our proxies, and feeling somehow glad when lots of Russians die. Even so, there is good reason to support the Ukrainians in their plight. However, we didn’t pay attention to proper peace-building processes in the 1990s. We failed to see that NATO and EU encroachment on Russian security space would cause trouble – even though some observers, including me, raised this matter back then.
Many of us are thus caught in a dilemma: on the whole we support peace, but in this situation we support Ukrainians in fighting a war. This is problematic, but it highlights a key issue: if we wish to avoid wars, we all need to unsubscribe from the habit of projecting threat on the other side. And that lies at the core of the battle for the hearts and minds of humanity.
The underlying problem here is, to quote Mahatma Gandhi, ‘An eye for an eye turns the whole world blind‘. The end-product of most conflicts is not resolution of the issues at hand, but damage, devastation and consequences cascading from it – such as food shortages and economic disruption, in the case of the current war. Often I quote Bertrand Russell here: ‘War is not about who is right, it’s about who is left‘.
Cities can be rebuilt and battlefields can become farmland again, but the damage to people is worse and deeper. Dead people can’t be brought back, and the living bear the scars of trauma, shock, hardship, atrocity and the sheer ugliness and pain of conflict. It lasts generations, even after the memory fades.
I’m not naively suggesting that everyone ought to just declare peace and go home – it just doesn’t work like that. Conflicts have their reasons, they can be complex, and both sides have a point. Conflicts end when both sides accept that there is no gain in carrying on. Half of all conflicts end simply because of weariness.
The main issue here is mindsets: are we against other people and their leaders, or are we all in the same boat? This same issue concerns the world’s ecological and climatic crisis. We won’t succeed with the 21st Century by continuing our ongoing war against nature, animals, enemies, competitors – and ourselves.
We’re stuck in a vortex of competitiveness, attack and defence. In our personal lives, the same mentality is cloaked in neatly ‘civilised’ ways like dressing up, pursuing careers, buying houses, insuring ourselves against risk or even, in my case, ‘fighting cancer’. It’s a mentality of us-against-the-world.
Yet it is destroying the world, making humanity even more unhappy and threatened. It’s a self-destructive momentum where, the rarer and more exhausted anything becomes, the higher its price and profitability – our economic system leads inexorably toward extinction. As natural environments are cleared and communities die off, young generations grow up without knowing they had even existed.
The emergent paradigm of the 21st Century is different. By necessity it’s one of cooperation, arising from the bottom-line observation that we are all in the same boat whether or not we like it, and we sink or swim together. This is a pragmatic, sensible, economic solution, no longer idealistic. This is being presented to us in the current drift of events. There is mighty resistance to this paradigm shift, taking the form of social and political polarisation, exceptionalism, populism and fear of being overcome by change.
In many countries we fear being flooded by migrants, whom we believe will change our societies and take away our privileges and comforts. Well, we did it to native Americans, Africans and Aboriginals, so, as Aussies would say, fair dinkum.
Such resistance can take softer forms in which we favour change as long as it doesn’t affect us. Or we make a big fuss over anything we might lose – the plenteous food and consumables, or the perceived right to assert our personal freedoms whatever the cost to others. We forget that only some of us have such privileges, while the rest pay the full price.
There’s more to this Aquarian question. It concerns social control and the capacity of masses of people to control ourselves. In the digital era new forms of social control have crept up on us while we have studiously avoided getting our heads round it.
The trouble here is that railing against people at the top is only half of the issue, and it’s rather an avoidance and escape. Collectively we permit them to do what they do by failing to stop it. The real issue here is social solidarity, vigilance and the behavioural changes we need to make if we really do believe in freedom and social-economic justice.
This issue arose in the Arab revolutions and in many uprisings since then. People come out onto the streets to protest over issues they face but, if or when the regime falls, people are often not organised to handle what follows. Or repression from above or intervention from outside squash, corrupt or divide the movement for change.
So this goes deep. Inevitably, the need for self-preservation can override the urge to sacrifice ourselves for the general good. Revolutionaries still need to pay their bills if they want a home or to support their family, unless they retreat to the jungle or escape the country, thereby marginalising themselves.
Meeting up with disillusioned young revolutionaries from Egypt and Syria twelve years ago, I found myself telling them my story. The uprising I was a part of, like theirs, didn’t succeed, and it led to a decade of pain and self-examination for its participants. Since then, to the extent I could, and with others, I’ve tried contributing toward a deeper, psycho-spiritual and behavioural change.
Standing on the top of a mountain at age 22, I made a commitment to give my life to helping the world tip into irreversible positive change. I had realised that a mass change of perception and consciousness is the key. Well, the world hasn’t tipped – yet. Now, near the end of my life, I’ve had to let go of that ‘in my lifetime’ bit, though I still believe we’ll get there. But I must still own up to a bottom-line truth: this is a belief, not a foregone conclusion, whatever I might hope for.
Yet in my life I’ve had multiple demonstrations that the new paradigm works – recently readers of this blog have shown that their remote healing efforts do indeed work. Or, larger-scale, I’ve been involved with circles of people where we have worked on a world issue, such as forest fires or the Bosnia war and, shortly afterwards, a fundamental change to such situations actually occurred. While we cannot definitely prove ‘we did that’, it nevertheless is the case that we did the consciousness work and the fires were doused and the war came to an end. Though it doesn’t happen every time.
It all boils down to a simple rule: together we stand and divided we fall. When people work together, acting with one mind, miracles can arise. A miracle is an event that no one thought possible until it happened. It’s one-mindedness that is crucial here.
Here’s the punchline. The pressure of crises, together with the Aquarian themes mentioned above, point to a likely existential crunchpoint, a time when our very existence on Earth comes into question – not just theoretically, but, like, now, this week. Even presidents and billionaires will share in such a fate. There is a possibility that such a sitation could catalyse a deep realisation, an emotionally-powered thought that, above all, and whatever it takes, we must survive and we must get through. Or we’ve all had it. Even if some people survive, it will not be a happy outcome for them.
That, ladies and gentlemen, represents a potential for a breakthrough and a miracle that no one thought possible: a global one-mindedness in which everyone everywhere – or at least, enough people – have one shared thought, and they think and feel it powerfully.
Which leads us to the bottom line. Whatever our disagreements, it is not a case of who is right and who is wrong, who will win and who will lose. For in the end we all lose. Or we all win. That’s the formula.
In the last year I’ve had some crunches and battles in my own life – with cancer, with my ex-partner’s departure and with a few other issues, and in West Africa I’ve been caught between two parties battling each other and killing people in the process. A big lesson I’ve been re-learning is that true victory lies in everybody winning together. It’s a neat notion that’s not difficult to subscribe to, but carrying it out in real-life terms is another matter, and it’s taking all I’ve got to do that.
Because we do hang together, or we hang separately. That’s the way things are. So the battle for humanity’s minds and hearts goes really deep. It’s a button-presser, confronting all of us. It involves making friends with and profoundly understanding even the people that we don’t like or agree with. That’s how we’ll get through the 21st Century.
In my own life and in yours too, this is the issue. Events are shepherding us painfully in that direction. I can’t say I’ve succeeded with this in my own life but I still have thunder in my heart, running up that road, running up that hill. It’s quite a struggle, but then, that’s one reason we’re all here, isn’t it?
With love, Paldywan Kenobi.
If, like me, you have sufficient madness to be into astrology, try this chapter about the outer planets in history, from my 1987 book Living in Time. If you’re seriously mad, try my Historical Ephemeris, an astrological resource about the way planetary motions influence the tides of history.
I’ll be doing the meditation this evening as usual at 7-7.30pm GMT and, if it feels right, you’re welcome to do the same.
Some of you might want to do your normal practice, whatever that is. Some might just wish to be still for a while, to get some space inside. Some might be called to focus on the earthquake and the people affected by it. Do whatever is right for you. This is a half-hour open space.
It’s about making a choiceless choice to pursue a pathless path through a gateless gate. That’s a Zen saying.
The main thing that connects us is that we’re doing it at the same time, with an underlyingly shared intent of positive wishes for humanity and Earth.
If you want the full lowdown on it, read this – the first page is the short, need-to-know one, and the rest give additional thoughts.
If you live in another timezone, than adjust the time to your location. If in doubt, just google ‘time now in GMT’ and work it out.
There’s something interesting about doing it at the same time each week. Often we might do meditation at varying times when we feel right for it. But doing it at a fixed time means that we do it regardless of our current state and situation.
It becomes a kind of reality-check. What is the is-ness and the beingness of you at 7pm GMT each Sunday?
Some weeks it might even be a bit of a struggle, other weeks it can be inspiring and other weeks it can be just a tick-over thing, nothing special. And that’s the beauty of it.
At present, as you might have noticed, I’ve been rather in the thick of it and, believe me, it stirs me up. I’m being tested and beaten into shape. But the great thing with a meditation at a fixed time is that if I do it regardless of anything, whatever’s happening or wherever I am, it kinda highlights the way in which my inner life and my outer life are both connected and also somewhat independent and unconnected.
Some of the most amazing meditations I’ve had over the years have been in busy or dodgy circumstances – in one, there was distant gunfire going on, but somehow the gunfire prompted me to focus on the heart of the matter. Or there might be loud music next door, or I might be meditating in a busy car park, or I might simply be in a rather stirred-up state. The nature of the meditation, as it unfolds, is often not what was anticipated shortly before.
So in the meditation today I personally shall be offering up all that has happened to me recently, with a wish that it is all for the best, leading to good outcomes. Otherwise I’ll be leaving it open. Perhaps I need a bit of a rest too.
No big deal. If you don’t have time-space this week, that’s okay – just join whenever it works to do so. We’ll be there anyway, whether or not it’s announced online. If you’re happy joining every week, of all the habits we can develop during our lives on Earth, it’s not a bad one, is it?
Despite everything, here I stand, weak, strong, wobbly and firm
One of the best books I ever wrote, ten years ago now, I couldn’t publish. It concerned a plot I helped uncover, involving American financiers funding settlement building in the West Bank, a well-known international meditation organisation making a big error and rogue elements in the Israeli and Palestinian intelligence services. I had to get out of the country pretty quick after dishing up that lot!
The story was quite sensational, though I didn’t publish it because it could endanger people’s lives, many issues would be twisted and misinterpreted in the West, American lawyers would have had a field day, some people would seek revenge, and my friends back home would ask me why I bother risking my life for a few darned Palestinians. Well, it has happened again, except it’s Africans this time. If I told you the story that’s happening now, you’d have difficulty believing it’s for real.
That’s one reason I’ve been rather quiet. It has been difficult knowing what to say. Telling the story can endanger lives, sabotage others, and much of it would, again, be misinterpreted. The number of seriously incorrect diagnoses of the situation that I have received recently has been disturbing, particularly because of their implied racist undertones. Many friends believe I’ve been scammed by West Africans, but the problem comes from a whiteskin company in the rich world, not from Africans. We have been stuck between Western corporate negligence and a crime gang’s violence. Meanwhile, people were getting murdered by the gang, whose market for cocaine, crack, people-smuggling and prostitution is in Britain and Europe. If we want to change the world, we need to end this turning away.
In the last few months I have gained an adopted granddaughter, Phyllis, whose life I have now saved several times. Looks like we might lose her now. She is on the edge of dying, due to a drug overdose and having had two fingers on her left hand cut off by the crime gang. Her mother, Felicia, was gang-raped. The bastards. Felicia is Liberian in origin: when she was young, civil war broke out around her and she was forced to watch her parents and three sisters being shot. When Phyllis’ fingers were being cut off Felicia cried out to me, online, “Why, dear God, is this happening to me AGAIN?”. Phyllis is all she has left.
So while I have a cracker of a story, I cannot tell it. I feel bottled up, but it is safest for those involved that I do not say more. Some good book sales would have been really useful though. This nightmare has cost me a lot and, until the company honours its multiple promises to pay me, I’m seriously in debt. They promised to compensate Felicia for all she has been through, and Felicia is now destitute. This has set me back a lot, affecting my plans for the coming year. But my conscience is as clear as it can be in such a gruesome situation, and I am glad I have not obeyed the advice of many friends to look after my own interests and, in effect, abandon these people to let them die. If I lose friends over this, then so be it.
Last year was a testy year. It wasn’t just the hair-raising story I’ve been involved with. It started a year ago. I was unwell and down, in a mess. My partner suddenly left me – she had her reasons – and I lost another adopted grandchild in the process. Gaining and losing grandchildren is a theme for me at present. Looking back, I was unconsciously picking up forewarnings for nine months beforehand, feeling insecure but unable to figure out why. Something needed to change between us, but I wasn’t ready for total, enforced relationship destruction. I got the blame, though whatever crime I truly committed, in the final analysis, has been far outclassed by the response. I miss her still, and her family. Giving myself a year to get over it, I’ve partially succeeded and also I haven’t. I believed we would go through to the end of my life. But no, I had a big lesson to learn there.
So, I wish her good fortune and many blessings for all that we had together. She is free, and I sincerely hope she finds rebirth and flowering in her new life. She deserves it – she saved my life in my worst cancer days. I am so grateful for our time together. Now a free man with mixed feelings, I’m not managing very well alone. But that’s my problem. It has its plus side though: I’ve used the pain of loss to fire up my creativity, rebirth myself and give the rest of my life, if I can, to starting something new. Or it’s starting me. It concerns a world-healing project. There’s a feeling of rightness to it, like a little seed currently hiding under the snow, awaiting its moment.
In the last year my cancer process has changed. Medically I am more or less stable, and the focus has turned to relationships and the psycho-emotional side of living with cancer. Cancer strips a layer off you and the shields come down. Issues get amplified. A last-chance-saloon feeling takes over. You suddenly find friends and loved ones committing micro-aggressions they didn’t know they were doing. Life becomes raw and unprotected. You get hurt. It has changed my capacity to relate and slowed my capacity to process things through, emotionally. While I’m kinda managing, being on my own means that, if I deteriorate, I have little or no fallback. Sometimes I just need someone to hold me. Sometimes I just want someone around.
One or two friends have suggested that I move upcountry to England, to be closer to people. But I’m electrosensitive and I can’t hobnob in parties and groups or walk down the street without getting zapped and needing to retreat back home – it can take 48 hours to get over it. In effect, to be with friends and loved ones I have to permit them to harm me with radiation. So I could be just as isolated there as I am here. Folks up in England are all very wired-up, busy keeping timetables and treading mills, and that is the central cause of the care crisis we have today – we don’t have time and space to be human, and people in situations like mine demand too much of it. Meanwhile, Cornwall feeds my soul, and the movements of my soul and its expressions seem to be valued nowadays, by you lot. So this seems to be the right place for me. I’m happy doing forays into England, or even elsewhere, but I’d need a lot of persuading to move because I would lose my taproot.
I haven’t been doing well on the family front either. That’s a complex story – another I won’t tell. What with my disability and their busy family lives, it’s difficult for us to meet up, and online relationships don’t really work for me. Mercifully though, all of my offspring get on really well, though they have three different mothers and live in two Brexit-sundered countries. They’re a lovely bunch, and their husbands and children too. In many people’s judgement I’ve been a useless father, and I guess I’m supposed to feel bad about it. Or perhaps I have had Mandela’s dilemma: a conflict between ‘my people’ and ‘my family’, which I have not been able to integrate – and neither did he. However, as an Aspie and weirdo in late life, I’m tired of apologising for being who I am, and I’m not as wrong as I’m often judged to be. It’s time for a change.
My health is kinda okay, though my back is slowly deteriorating, as if gravitation were increasing. My cancer, Multiple Myeloma, affects blood and bones – will-to-live (blood) and capacity to be active in the world (bones). That’s a wee bit fundamental. Even so, my haematologist is surprised I’ve lasted so long on my current cancer drug, Daratumamab. But, to me, it makes sense that I would do well with it. Dara isn’t a form of ‘chemo’ designed to kill cancer cells. It works by flagging up cancer cells as they emerge so that my immune system can deal with them itself – that’s a brilliant approach, and it’s just right for me. So I’m doing well with Dara. My immune system is in pretty good nick too.
Here’s an observation. I think there are two kinds of immunity: one is to do with the nutrients we take in on a daily basis, which can provide fight-back if our immune system is under pressure or feeling low. Whenever I get the slightest sign of an infection, such as a sneeze, I take a gram of Vit C straight away – and it works. But there’s a deeper immunity level I’d call resilience. If you’ve done immunity-boosting things for a decade or more – good vits, good oils, good everything, though not too fanatical about it – then you’re in a different league. If you’re dabbling with veganism or health-awareness, take note: it truly works if you stay with it for decades, allowing your body-psyche to go through deeper structural changes. Combine this with inner growth, and your cells and genes become transformed. I can verify this from experience.
Longterm resilience has been a life-saver for me, now I have cancer. At root, it lies in attitude. When I’m having a hard time, I look for the gift that’s available. Sometimes I’m forced to lie in bed, watching the buzzards wheeling around over the fields. Sometimes I’m being given a gift of pain to teach me how to move through it and out the other side. Recently I’ve been given a loneliness that has allowed me to spend a lot of time reflecting on life, writing and recording things from my eyrie out here in West Penwith, the Far Beyond.
Immunity is intimately connected with psychic protection too, and right now I’m working on that. Whenever we feel down and got at by life, we have both a protection and an immunity issue. If you want to work positively with cancer or any other adversity, work positively with your protection. This isn’t about throwing up barriers around you – it’s about working on the fears, shame and guilt that grind away underneath, undermining the integrity of your being and giving an opening that outside interference can hook into, draining your power. Sometimes it’s like having fleas, getting nibbled at by lots of small things, and sometimes it’s like a big thump in the stomach. Protection is about the light within us and the degree to which we withhold ourselves behind our shame, guilt and fear.
When I first went into cancer treatment, I hadn’t had pharmaceutical drugs for many years. Suddenly I was getting pumped with chemicals. I called on my inner doctors. “Let it be. We’ll fix it, and follow your instincts on what else will help“. I don’t get it in words like that, but that’s what the message was. I decided to trust, deeply. I started on things like CBD, carefully selected supplements, received healing from many wonderful people, and worked on generating an attitude of yielding and acceptance. On the whole it worked. I’ve balked at a few of the drugs given me, but not many, and in some cases I’ve dosed myself more sensitively to my own actual needs. But I’ve had fewer side-effects than many other people seem to get. That’s resilience: it’s all about strengthening our capacity to handle whatever life throws at us.
At some point, when I can restore my finances, I’ll start doing some events. A monthly online ‘magic circle’ is shaping up, and I’ll be doing some live Magic Circles or talks sometime, though I don’t have it in me to organise them myself. The capacity to handle life’s details and intricacies is one thing that chemo and cancer have taken away – though I’ve gained a widened and deepened understanding of life instead. The only booking I have at present is the Legends Conference in Glastonbury on 8th-10th April, and I shall announce other events when they get fixed.
When I die I shall have no money or property to leave, but I do hope to leave a legacy. We shall see if it works in real life, if I can keep going long enough. When I was young I was heading for a career in diplomacy or government, but then around age 21 I went through an awakening and changed course. I began treading a spiritual-political alternative path. In starting the camps movement in the 1980s I attempted working with the heart and soul of Britain, to transform it from within – with limited success (it was the Thatcher period, after all). In the Hundredth Monkey Project in the 1990s, we attempted direct spiritual work with world events, with some success. With the Flying Squad that followed, we developed the techniques, ethics and practices of such work, forging a synergistic unity and a group bonding that compensated for our lower numbers. This built up a body of experience. There’s further to go, and the world has a need for it.
When cancer came along in 2019, I thought that was it with the world-healing work but, no, reviving last spring from the enormous emotional hit I had a year ago, I got the message, “Ah, there’s one more thing, before you can come home…“. I realised that no one else really had the experience and capacity to take the world-healing work one stage further. In a way it was incumbent on me to do it. I now have a plan, and it’s now a matter of finding out whether and how it will work in real life. It has already started with the Sunday evening meditations, and we’ll let things develop from there.
It involves a group process for which I can prepare the ground, plant seeds and help them germinate, but that’s all. I don’t have much time left, and the events of the last year have shown me how beat up and worn out I am. You see, what decides things for me is not medical prognoses but how long I can keep going, in heart and soul, pushing the limits and remotivating myself to face another day. My current aloneness has tested me profoundly and, while I’m holding up, it has been a big systems check on what I can and cannot do. Overloaded with issues, I’ve been trying hard not to fuck up but only just managing. But then, this is my life, I’ve created it this way, that’s my karmic pattern, and it is as it is. Mashallah – thus has it been ordained. This next chapter is my last dance, and I’m going to give it what I can.
But first, there’s business. I want the company to right some wrongs, financially, and I want to get Felicia and Isaac and their remaining children safe and stabilised in a new life. True heroes, they have paid a high price for being good people. Even as a tottering old man, I choose to stand by them, whatever anyone says. Then there’s that gang, who have deprived at least seven people of their lives. This included an Akan native healer, Okomfo Ayensuwaa, with whom I had close miracle-working dealings for a week or so just before Christmas. Killed for protecting Felicia and Isaac and their families, she has decided to work with us on the world healing project, from the other side. She is with us now, in our meditations. A strong, big and good-hearted lady she was, and the river spirits she worked with miss her.
I have shed so many tears over these unjust tragedies, and several times I have been faced with a painful moral choice I would not wish upon any of my readers: the choice between playing safe, prioritising my own interests and security, and standing by my principles in order to keep some good people alive and to stand up for what is good and right. I’ve made that choice, I’m paying that price and, despite everything, I am glad to have done so. The bravery of these people has been a big lesson for me, and my standing by them has been a big lesson for them. Whitemen have a way of walking off. The fates have now separated Felicia and Isaac, and they struggle on alone. I’m still with them, supporting them even though I can’t send money.
Please pray for them, for their safety, healing and relief from their trauma and misfortune – they, and Phyllis, and Isaac’s one remaining child, Adjoa, aged about 6-7, truly need it. They are struggling, materially, emotionally and spiritually. Please be with them in spirit.
One of my missions in life has been to do with righting some of the wrongs committed by the British empire. One grandfather was in Allenby’s invasion of Iraq and Palestine in WW1 and the other was in the Battle of the Somme. My father fought in Egypt in WW2. Northern Ireland started me off on this path, fifty years ago, and I seem to be at it still. Interestingly, it was the Akan, the Ashanti, who, together with the Maoris of New Zealand, were the only peoples who successfully stood up against the empire – at least until the amoral Brits tricked both of them into losing. The empire had its merits and demerits and, while we should forget neither, we do need to own up to the demerits we forced on so many millions of people. For the world cannot progress while unredeemed shadows such as these hang over us all. Every country has its shadow to face.
This has been a difficult time. I’m still here though! As I write, Felicia is watching her only child Phyllis die slowly, in a coma, in hospital, unable to afford treatment. They’re stranded with nothing in a foreign country. That’s the score today. That’s life, as it presents itself. This has been a difficult and risky blog to write – I hope to goodness that I’ve done it right. Meanwhile, I’ll be there as usual at the meditation on Sunday evenings. Bless you all for being my friends, especially the ones closer to me. We all need each other.
Helen, my peerless homoeopath, gave me Pearl last year (beauty out of pain) and Gold this year (lighting up darkness) – spot on. She’s brilliant. If you happen to need an inspired homoeopath who can do it remotely from Cornwall, try her.
Though really, I’m not greatly concerned about new year.
You see, one of the problems with our calendar is that it has no particular basis in natural energy. As a dating system it has managed to get itself used worldwide, renamed the ‘Common Era’. But it is European, instituted by Pope Gregory Thirteenth in 1582, as a correction to the foregoing Julian calendar, which was even more useless than our current one.
Luckily, the Gregorian New Year’s Day is near enough to the winter solstice and, if anything in a cycle can be called its beginning, solstice qualifies as the beginning or the root-point of a year. So New Year’s Day is close enough to the solstice to fool our underlying perceptions into believing that New Year is solsticial in flavour. But the thing is, New Year’s resolutions would probably work better if they were resolved at winter solstice.
There’s an interesting flavour to this New Year of 2023. It feels like we’re tipping into a long slide, a growing cascade of accelerating, compounding events, all scrunching up against each other. There’s that stomach-churning anticipatory feeling that you get just before doing a high-dive or heading down a slalom run. It’s too late to back out now, and the stage is set for a cliffhanger, the full plot of which nobody knows.
In the end, wobbliness isn’t such a bad thing, because this intensification is by necessity loosening things up, and we need that. The world has been held in a state of denial for at least fifty years, and reality is dawning. At last. Yes, the shit is hitting the fan in myriad ways throughout society and, globally, and this is very difficult for large numbers of people, and some are buckling – especially those at the bottom of the pile. But that’s a question of economic justice, not just the bad luck of a tough world. This fan-hitting is necessary because things have been held in arrest for too long. We’ve been burning up the world. This is a planetary emergency. We have to get real. It’s happening.
But a paradox comes with the pending avalanche of events we’re likely to see in the mid-to-late 2020s. As acceptance and mobilisation increase, things will in some respects get easier, even when they’re getting more difficult. At present we are burning up so much energy trying to keep an obsolete show on the road, trying to resist facing the fullness of our situation. That uses up a lot of energy and it creates a lot of friction. It concerns a simple rule of car-driving: before you depress the accelerator, release the hand-brake – otherwise you wear out the engine. But also, you wear out the brakes – and that’s what’s happening now, in 2023. The brakes are wearing thin.
In some respects the grating, grinding prelude to a crisis is worse than the peak of a crisis. During an actual crisis, real, cathartic change happens – positions shift, facts emerge, stuff happens and the consequences of old problems become the starting place for the new. Like it or not, that’s the way it is.
I’ve had a tendency in life to gravitate toward edgy, dodgy situations. We humans are quickly stripped down and, to survive, we have to pull out everything we have. We have to cooperate like never before, often with people we’ve never met, and do things we never thought we’d land up doing. This is an amazing process and, throughout life, some of the most profound relationships I’ve had have been in situations like this – short yet intense, a sharing of mutual risk, adversity or insecurity.
It bonds you. It calls upon abilities you didn’t think you had, or you didn’t think were useful. But when necessity and urgency are tugging at you, you just do what’s necessary, as best you can, with what you have. It’s full-on. Very alert. At times miracles happen amidst the tragedies, against the odds. One reason I started the camps in the 1980s is that camping takes us out of our comfort-zones, making us available to new things – it’s a form of positively-induced suffering that suddenly morphs into the best time you had in your life.
Of the camps I ran in the 1980s, some of the best had the worst weather. At one camp, in 1987, we had a force eight gale on the first night. We brought down the marquees, people had to abandon their tents and everyone piled into the geodesic domes, the soundest structures in a gale. I lived in a small dome and thirteen people joined me, huddled together, all privacy and comfort lost, waiting out what seemed like an endless nightmare. Morning came. We crept out slowly, blinking. The morning was sunny, dripping and quiet. The storm had gone.
A new camper came to me, saying that she had to leave – she couldn’t manage this. She looked wan and shellshocked. At that very moment, a member of the site crew came down the field with a big tray filled with mugs of tea, nonchalantly calling out “Tea, anyone?“. The lady burst out crying. She accepted her tea, and a biscuit… and she stayed. Fifteen years later she was still with us, by then doing world-healing work in the Flying Squad. Moments like that are really touching. When you tread the edge and cross the threshold, change happens. Comfort zones aren’t the best place for finding a new life.
Over the decades I’ve come upon heart-wrenching moral choice-points where the options have been playing safe, being sensible and putting my own wellbeing first, or making a big, sometimes decisive, occasionally life-saving difference in the lives of people by taking a risk. There’s often an unbridgeable gulf between them. I’ve tended toward taking the second option. This has happened again recently. It gives me a feeling of ‘this is what I’m here for’.
In late life, I’m happy about people I’ve helped or saved. It has charged a heavy price, not only to me, yet it was worth it in the end. For better or worse, it has been my choice and, in some people’s view, an avoidable pathology they’d have preferred me not to live out. That’s difficult. I seem to have spent my life apologising for being myself. But I did it anyway.
Sadly I have not been able to tell some of my best stories because they can endanger people or lead to unwanted outcomes. You might have noticed that I’ve gone quiet about the story I was recounting to you recently. Well, it’s now one of those. It’s a real test of my mettle. If you’re so inclined, please do keep praying. Apart from that, I’m going to rabbit on about other things for a while.
This seems to be a family pattern: my aunt was not permitted to talk about what she did in WW2 until 1988, poor woman, and she received a medal for it only in 2008. She worked with Alan Turing at Bletchley Park. After that, she was probably the world’s first government UFO investigator, without really knowing it – on debriefing bomber pilots returning from Germany in WW2, she was logging their encounters with ‘foo fighters’. At first they thought it was the enemy’s secret weapon, until they found out that the enemy thought the same thing. I don’t work at that level, though I do have a few eyebrow-raisers to tell. But it isn’t wise or right to do so.
There are some good stories too. I happened to follow the Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem through a checkpoint, entering Israel from the West Bank. Guns go up. Oh shite. They’re all aimed at the Patriarch, but I’m standing a few yards behind him. “Do you have any weapons?“. Now that’s a silly thing to ask a Patriarch, but lots of silly things do happen in that benighted land… Silence. “Yes“, says the Patriarch. Uh-oh. More guns go up. “Reach down slowly and get it out.” Right now I’m wondering whether I ought to move. Nope, better stay there, Palden. Don’t lift a finger.
The Patriarch, not exactly young and sprightly, reaches down slowly, pulls out and holds up… his Bible. Quite a few of us were trying hard not to crack up laughing, including a few of the soldiers. He had fifteen soldiers by the short and curlies. They’ll remember that for the rest of their days. That’s an example of psycho-spiritual peacebuilding through the teaching of pertinent lessons.
It was a hot day in Al Khader, near Bethlehem, and a new squad of Israeli soldiers was taking over in our area (they changed every couple of months). Eight or so were standing around down the hill, where the boundary lies, sweating in their uniforms. I moseyed down slowly, deliberately relaxed, to see if I could do some bridgebuilding. I had a bottle of water. One, with a French accent, asked where they could get some. I said there was a shop 200 metres back. Pushing my luck, I said I could take one or two of them there – they’d be alright. They weighed it up. They seemed to like me. I told them to keep their guns down and just relax – Israelis get really nervous and edgy in Palestinian areas, because of course all Palestinians are terrorists – and we walked slowly up and along to the shop. You could feel eyes watching.
We went into the shop, they got some things, the shopkeeper was quite friendly and chatty, and we walked back. There was a moment of connection where we all saw the ridiculousness of the situation we were in. When we got back to their mates, I said, “These people in Al Khader are alright if you’re alright with them. They won’t give you trouble if you let them be. You’ve just had a demonstration“. I think they got it. In the coming days it seemed to work. Besides, the soldiers weren’t really bothered. They were probably rather relieved to have an easy posting.
People sometimes ask me who or what I work for. I work for good-hearted humanness, however best I can judge it at the time. If I am financially supported, which is unusual, I accept contributions only if the sole requirement is that I use the money well – if there are any other strings, I say No.
I had to learn this the hard way. Shortly after the intifada, I went to Bethlehem with some financial backing and a list of nine tasks, then to spend the next month learning that it would be possible to achieve only one of those tasks – the circumstances just weren’t right. I got nervous: how would I explain that? One day, not long before leaving for home, I gave up, accepting my fate. An hour later, in rolls a van and, lo behold, every person I had needed and failed to see during the last month was inside. It was all sorted within hours. Phew. Magic.
But that made me decide to free myself from such concerns in future, because in high-chaos situations, improvisational freedom of action is absolutely necessary. Going into a chaos zone with plans, as too many Westerners do, is like trying to swim with a weighed-down straitjacket on, and it causes everyone else too much run-around. Yet strangely, high-chaos zones do allow magic to happen.
Magic happened there. But there’s one problem with trusting that magic will happen, because it doesn’t happen just because you want it to, or because you believe your agenda should be everyone else’s agenda. It happens when it is in line with the Universe’s bigger chess game. We get occasional glimpses of this but, quite often, we don’t – not at the time. Quite often we just have to make a choice and do our best. And remember: not doing something also has consequences. In our time we are getting lots of consequences from things not done, in recent decades and throughout history. We live in a time of consequences.
We are more free now to get things right than ever we have been in human history. Life is asking us not to give up on the brink of a miracle. Well, that’s one of the big lessons I seem to be learning at present. Don’t give up just because everything seems to be against you. Though sometimes we must change tactics in order to progress with our overall strategy. In the end, if you’re trying to move a mountain, it’s all about ‘Thy Will be Done’ and ‘the highest good’.
In the Middle East, whenever they make a statement about something yet to happen, they tack the word ‘inshallah’ into the sentence – ‘If it is the will of God’. In English we say ‘All things being well’, or ‘With luck’. We need a neat new word like ‘inshallah’. It would help us get over the arrogant belief that we are masters of destiny. Which we aren’t. At times The Great Cosmic Steamroller hoves into view, and woe betide us if we’re moving slower than it does.
Now that’s a pleasant thought for the new Gregorian year! But there’s truth in it. The more we’re willing to shake things up, the easier it gets in the long run. In the next year or two we’re moving from a time of rules to a time of crowds.
I saw a joke yesterday. It went… Breaking News: aliens now implementing a points system for people who want to be abducted. Too many requests.
If you’re on your own this New Year’s Eve, so am I, so we can be together in the ethers.
Here’s a hug to everyone, with love from me, Palden.
Well, it’s a bit like that. For those of you who are interested, here’s the latest lowdown.
Sunday morning, wet and windy here in Cornwall. Early on, and Dr Isaac and I were dealing with an emergency, yet again, on Skype. We’ve become quite a team, he and I.
Felicia is hanging in there, just about. We had to take her back to hospital last night for intensive care, and a doctor there has allowed it on promise of payment later, bless him. Dr Isaac has sold his TV and sound system this morning to pay for oxygen and a drip. He’s such a dedicated doctor. I am sniffing around amongst contacts in the NGO sector, to see if there’s a good job waiting for him somewhere – he’s a true asset and he deserves better. He and his family risk having an Unhappy Christmas, though if I can change that, I shall. They are looking after Phyllis, who is doing well, and she’s a good kid too, and everyone loves her. We need to get her Mum Felicia back.
This is sharp-edged stuff. It’s really testing our mettle and our capacity to keep finding remarkable solutions. But we’re also both weary, fed up and in debt. Something needs to change now.
As you might imagine, this has been an enormous learning experience. It started with my doing a return favour for one of the company’s agents, to get him out of a tight scrape. Then it mushroomed from there. Quite a few people have been questioning whether I’m getting things right – to be honest, I don’t know, and we shall see. But I feel it’s right to keep these people alive.
So now it is a waiting game. Mercifully, my beating heart works well under pressure, and I’m not unused to being under fire. Though one thing we cancer patients have is greater sensitivity to and higher impacts from life’s buffetings, as if a layer of emotional armouring has been stripped away and we’re less protected. I’ve realised this in the last year since I became a single man again – fewer fallbacks, everything is up to me.
My response to this vulnerability has been a greater readiness to get down to the bottom line faster than before. Perhaps there’s a certain aged recklessness too, that comes when you know you’re in last-chance saloon and your time is limited. So, in a way, within the scope of the capacities I have left, I guess I’m playing for high stakes.
I’ve dealt with one-to-three crises every day for two rather long months, with no days off, unpaid, and I’m still in the running. Phew. I do want a rest and a break – even, dare I say it, some fun! But while Felicia, Phyllis and Isaac are in trouble, whatever anyone says, I’m staying with them. It means a lot to me, and I’m willing to lose friends over it – probably already have. This crunch period of the last week has really made me get down to first principles. What is my life about, really?
A friend in Nova Scotia, Susan, who has recently been my chief confidante, sent me a really pertinent lesson, written by someone called Paul Weinfield. Here are key lines from it.
“Leonard Cohen said his teacher once told him that, the older you get, the lonelier you become, and the deeper the love you need. This is because, as we go through life, we tend to over-identify with being the hero of our stories. This hero isn’t exactly having fun: he’s getting kicked around, humiliated and disgraced. But if we can let go of identifying with him, we can find our rightful place in the universe, and a love more satisfying than any we’ve ever known. Everyone from CEOs to wellness-influencers thinks the Hero’s Journey means facing your fears, slaying a dragon, and gaining 25k followers on Instagram. But that’s not the real Hero’s Journey.
“In the real Hero’s Journey, the dragon slays YOU. Much to your surprise, you couldn’t make that marriage work. Much to your surprise, you turned forty with no kids, no house and no prospects. Much to your surprise, the world didn’t want the gifts you proudly offered it.
“But if you are wise, you will let yourself be shattered and return to the village, humbled, but with a newfound sense that you don’t have to identify with the part of you that needs to win, needs to be recognised, needs to know. This is where your transcendent life begins.“
Gosh, well, yes. That hit me right on the nose! Yes, and that’s life. Planet Earth is a school – for some of us a real crash-course – and our purpose here is to graduate with honour.
But we do need to keep the school going, to enable our descendants to get born into a planetary body, to have a decent chance to do something with this strange privilege of life on Earth. And, you never know, we might one day have Heaven on Earth.
But today, we’re still on the case. If you are so inclined, please stay with those healing and helping thoughts, because we aren’t out of the water yet. I want these guys to have a Happy Christmas too – unlike me, they are Christians, and good Christians who do seem to live by the teachings of their master. That is, they’ll bust a gut for their fellow humans.
Meditation acts as a complement but not a replacement to action. In the Majority (‘developing’) World there is a higher proportion of spirited people who do bust guts for people and for justice.
Not that such people are lacking in the rich world, but here we play safe and stay within our comfort zones – we behave ‘properly’. It’s not very good karma, in the end.
This is one reason all those poor faceless people are coming over to Britain in flimsy boats – we are attracting them unconsciously in order to help us learn how to be more human, how to share. We are in a ‘cost of living crisis’ to teach us how to pull together and look after each other. We have problems with our politicians and bosses because we as a society have not taken life in our own hands. We have problems with race and gender because we labour under the belief that other people are deeply different from us.
The good news is that, once the Great Correction really starts, life is going to get easier. Why? Because inequality and injustice are inefficient, energy-wasting, murderous ways of running a world. It doesn’t work. We need to make life easier. At last, increasing numbers of people are realising this. But the test lies in what we actually do. Leaving your job (or whatever) and changing your life is just the first step.
To get a country like Britain to a sustainable level, we need to reduce our consumption to 1960 conditions. Those of you who remember that time will know that, though there were problems, as there are today, life was alright. We had more time for each other. It’s doable, and we can be happy with that. It’s all to do with how everything is shared.
Bless us all. Life is tough at present, for many people. History takes a long time, and it’s grinding hard. But the Great Correction has actually already started – Covid was a tipping point and we’re now sliding inexorably into accelerated change. Now we just gotta get it over the hump, so that we achieve the necessary momentum to really crack our world problems.
Thank you so much to all those who have helped and contributed. There have been times when this has brought tears to my eyes. You’ve made a real difference – Felicia and Phyllis are still with us. However, this has become more of a marathon than a sprint, and there’s more to go.
It’s good practice. That’s how it’s going to be in coming decades. There’s no going back now. If I could hug you all, I would, but I’m down’ere in glorious isolation in Cornwall, so please feel it imaginally.
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