Screws Turning Down

Gurnard’s Head, on the north coast of West Penwith, Cornwall. Its Cornish name means ‘the desolate one’.

Here in Britain and across the rich world, the problem we have now with our economies arises from our not having had a full and proper cultural revolution in the 1960s-70s. What has happened is that the exaggerated materialism we adopted in the 1980s is seizing up, and we don’t want to recognise that it’s all going awry, tripping over its own shoe laces. Let me explain.

As Buddhists say, the only constant is transitoriness or change. The more we get involved in materialism, the more we attach ourselves to things that begin and end. And they do come to an end. A country, a people or a culture experiences an ascendancy if it answers a need, if it steps into a greater potential that somehow does something that people seek or history accepts or the future demands. But when it loses the plot and rests on its laurels, history starts passing it by.

Britain grew great in the industrial revolution on the basis of technology, sheer inventiveness and the capture of lands and resources worldwide that it could exploit. This was its mission 200 years ago. But in the 20th Century that leading edge, based on coal and steam power, was eventually lost, and the empire was lost at around the same time. The critical point came around the 1960s, and what arose at that time was a potential cultural revolution in our own country. One centre of it was Liverpool, where I grew up – once the world’s greatest port and then declining terribly.

Gurnard’s Head from Carn Naun, with Pendeen Watch behind

This possible cultural revolution arose within the centre of society, mainly amongst educated and socially advantaged young people like me. We were society’s beneficiaries, not necessarily the underprivileged and downtrodden – though many of our parents and grandparents had started there. Holistic and adventurous in perspective, this movement covered most of the world issues that then were visible and important, from civil rights and social change to peace, to health, to farming, to the arts, to matters of spirit – the global village had arrived and, with it, the possibility of something completely new.

It was a means by which the West tried to renew itself, to begin reorientating its goals in order to redeem, correct and further develop what it truly was aiming for. It was aiming to make life better for everyone, globally, to free people from the drudge of hard labour, to free them up for more meaningful creative and spiritual possibilities. Instead, another, more materialistic, acquisitive, frenetic, consumptive future was chosen in the Reagan-Thatcher period – what I then called amphetamine economics. Many people bought into it or went along with it, hoping they might get rich. It is now seizing up. The whole model of material development is coming apart, eroded by its own inherent weaknesses.

Today in Britain we have a new prime minister originating from one of the former colonies – the biggest and richest, the Indian Raj. During its latter years, the Roman empire was similar – its emperors were Syrians, Spaniards, Brits and Croatians – and Rome’s vanquished and colonised peoples propped up the empire because they quite liked its benefits. Or perhaps they had already lost enough of their old ways to prevent them going back.

Having long been preached the virtues of democracy, the world’s majority, the relatively unrich, are now asserting majority rights. The world is going through the beginnings of a social-cultural globalisation process, no longer determined and steered by the rich world. What’s interesting here is that while, materially and our ways and values, we humans are becoming globally standardised (we all use roughly the same gizmos, supermarkets, burgers and plastic bags), socially and culturally we’re going through a re-diversification, a multiplication of differences, subgroups and identities – new tribes and nations are forming, based on internal connections rather than tradition or external imposition.

In the face of the standardising globalisation process, issues of personal and group identity and diversity are growing just as fast. We’re becoming a predominantly urban race – we topped 50% of large-city dwellers around 2008 and it could well be 70% by mid-century. This is a very fundamental change, affecting the psychology, experience and spirit of humanity. When people move to a city they move to a different world.

But we still have a big question. If you were an ET approaching Earth and wishing to talk to the people of planet Earth, where would you find our leader? Who can speak on behalf of all of us and legitimately make decisions on behalf of Earth’s people?

These are times of much more fundamental change than we currently see or understand. We’re immersed in it, entering the future facing backwards, and in too much of a hurry keeping the show on the road to stand back and smell the coffee. The full change has not broken out yet – we’re dealing right now in late 2022 with powerful undercurrents and rumblings. This rapidly rising wave is likely to peak in the late 2020s, when we tip into an utterly new process. A new age cannot come until the old age stops sabotaging it. When the critical, decisive, overwhelming change-wave comes, we enter a new phase lasting decades, probably fifty years. We stand right now on the edge of an avalanche of events and shifts, likely to start cascading in this decade. (The astrological details are here).

This will introduce a new, insecure, yet fast-moving period where, on the whole, the world transits toward big adaptational changes, toward solving the problem, but it will take decades before we know that the problem is sufficiently resolved. So much needs sorting out that we need to find a new, pragmatic way of doing it.

We’re entering a whitewater rapids phase in the 2020s-30s before we go over the waterfall, probably in the 2040s. We’re likely to be crossing the Great Divide in the 2040s-60s, around which time we cross into a new landscape – and the coin is spinning in the air to determine what it will look like.

The necessary shifts of global-scale values, ideas and priorities will, I think, take at least 25 years from now to slot properly into place, but the process has already started – it was sub-surface up to 2020 and the outbreak of Covid, and it’s accelerating. It’s like a rising tide – boats get lifted out of the sand and mud, and they float, and if the waves overtop the harbour walls the boats can break free of their moorings and a safe haven becomes a chaotic nightmare, even though the only thing that happened was a rising of the tide.

In geology, the erosive power of a river increases as the square of its volume – that is, if the volume increases three times, its erosive power increases nine times. Psycho-socially, and worldwide, this is what is happening. The flow is now turning into a more of a flood, the erosion is increasing, and there’s a long way to go before our imperilled civilisation is safe and okay to move into the future.

At some point, the incoming tide will breach the harbour walls and we enter a different movie – the power and the glory of the open ocean. Paradoxically, this critical change could happen quite surreptitiously – it could be that, one morning, we wake up and everything suddenly looks and feels totally different. Though on some level of our being, we knew this was happening.

It’s time now for us to transition onwards, ride the waves and get more used to doing so, because we’ll have more of this in future.

Try to identify those stuck parts of your life that aren’t moving – things that no longer lift or light you up, or not as much as before. Entertain the idea of changing things more than you previously thought. Be ruthlessly honest and fiercely real – getting real is an important process, since it’s about recognising and taking ownership of the truth of things in your life, including the beliefs and justifications you’ve lived by thus far.

It’s okay to get stripped naked (metaphorically): vulnerability and insecurity bring with them amazing gifts. Safety and security are ebbing away, and the more we get used to changing, shifting times and circumstances, the better we shall be.

Pain is made up of two things: the issue that creates the pain and the way we choose to experience it. Do we make it bigger, with all the fuss, drama and inner friction we create for ourselves? Or do we realise that, no matter how difficult life seems to be, there’s a way forward, things’ll work out, and there’s cause to be grateful for what we have?

Get down to bottom lines and worst fears. If you bring your fears to the surface, looking at what you fear, often it becomes clear that you can actually move forward, you will make it, and you don’t need to let fear stop you from doing what you know you need to do. Use fear as a way of moving forward: if you fear it, consider actually doing it. Because, whether or not your fears come true, you’ll be far better prepared for the worst than if you hadn’t ever faced this stuff. If you’re prepared for the worst, the chances are that you’ll either survive it or, more likely, it won’t actually come – because many of the adverse events of our lives come to us precisely because we fear and avoid the issues that lie beneath and behind them.

I’m not saying this because I myself have mastered it. Issues like this are what I myself have been facing recently – Saturn-Pluto stuff – and this is what I’m trying to remind myself. (Partially, you see, I teach myself though communicating with you.) When you’re faced with bigger-than-nornal adversity – in my case, cancer and all that goes with it – the feeling tones and experiential intensity of life get amplified and you can get rubbed up deeply and movingly, sometimes by quite small things.

One of the issues for me has been a combination of loss of mobility, infection risk, increasing electrosensitivity, dependency on others and relationship breakdown which has meant my social life has dwindled catastrophically. I can’t hang out with people (unless they switch off their phones – sometimes a big ask). One advantage, however, is that, to plug the gap, I’m writing blogs, making podcasts and doing forays up to England to do events instead. So you win some and lose some.

I’ve been using this time for ruminating over the next step in my life. Time is not on my side, but it’s worth spending it well. It’s now nearly three years since I was diagnosed with cancer, and I’ve got used to my new reality. I seem still to be alive, to my surprise, and I seem to have a few years left. The last year has been something of a nightmare, though in the process something new has dropped into me. So I want to change things.

I have evolved a plan, and I’ve visualised a small and a big version and worked through many details, and something is clarifying here in my eyrie down in Cornwall. For me, it’s phase three of a forty year evolution – not new stuff at all, but I have realised it has not been taken as far as it can go. The big question I’m ruminating over is whether I have what it takes to do it – and the bucket is there to be kicked anytime. Actually, inshallah, I think I might have what it takes, but I’m a strangely realistic visionary and in a weak position in life, and I want to get to a 100% feeling inside. That’s why I’m sitting on it.

If you can get to that 100% feeling in your bones, you then move into a position where it might be possible to move a mountain. We come here to Earth to find out. While a potential might be there, its actualisation is no twenty-minute procedure. It’s that wee matter of 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

As for the cabin where I live, on an organic farm at the centre of West Penwith, it’s called The Lookout, because that’s what you do through its big windows. Except it’s as much a look-in as a look-out. Especially on rainy days. In winter I stay warm with and cook on a lovely warm woodstove.

So now I’m sitting on it, gestating, cogitating, writing notes, checking my feelings. Being time-rich, I can do this. I’ve given myself until winter solstice to clarify things and until Imbolc (early February) before committing and coming out with it. All I have, really, are insights, experience, a vision and a wee bit of social cred.

But it’s not time to talk about it yet. The basic intent is clarifying, but there’s more to go on the method and the manifestation. If any of my readers feel a jiggling of something when you read this, please cogitate it and whether you might be up for it. I shall need to find out during 2023 whether there are sufficient people prepared to give this years, and to stick with it – including after my death. Because, for me, there’s no point starting it otherwise. I’ll find out by doing more events and putting out feelers and seeing who turns up.

It concerns world healing. But just keep it under wraps for now and cogitate it, please. If I get to that 100% feeling, I’ll tell you fully what it is, with my usual lucidity. And if I don’t, I shall leave a body of ideas behind, which will help someone else pick this up and run with it. And I might be able to help from the other side.

Toward this end, this week I started a new project, building an audio archive of twentyish of my best talks and workshops from the 1980s-2000s – because these will form part of that body of work.

Weighty stuff, on a rainy, drippy Scorpio day. Time for a round of tea. Jon the farmer rumbles past, down in the yard, on his tractor. Someone in the workshop is banging something metallic. Our cattle herd is being moved down from the hill to the lower fields by the woods. The bronze age barrows up the hill are shrouded in wet mist. And life goes on at our farm.

Love from me, Palden

Photos are of Gurnard’s Head, a cliff sanctuary on the north coast of Penwith, Cornwall. Here’s a map.

Collected blogs: https://penwithbeyond.blog
Podcasts: www.palden.co.uk/podcasts.html
PodTalks & Audio Archive: www.palden.co.uk/podtalks.htm
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The Tipping of the Scales

Glastonbury Friday 9th Sept 2022

Carn Les Boel, Land's End, Cornwall
Carn Les Boel, Land’s End, Cornwall. Click for info about my evening talk in Glastonbury

Paldywan Kenobi beams down in Glastonbury, next week, on Friday evening, 9th September. If you live in or around Avalon, whether or not you know me, it’d be great to see you! I’m really looking forward to this.

I’ll share some tales from my time there, rattling the bars through the eighties, nineties and naughties. Also I wish to share with you a parapolitical panorama of where we stand in the long planetary revolution we’re all variously a part of.

A lovely quote popped up on Radio Four a week or so ago (from an American evangelical, no less) and it’s really pertinent now in the 2020s:

Don’t give up on the brink of a miracle.

I’m an old LSE student protester who didn’t quite give up, an old acid head who’s now tripped out on bone marrow cancer, staggering around on his sticks like a cripple on the wrong planet. Recently I’ve had to align to spirit like never before, to stay alive – death is my personal trainer and the therapy comes for free.

I’ve always been a strange combination of an esoteric extremist and a socio-political activist. The last three years squaring with cancer have been like ten – it was dark down there but there’s gold there too, and I brought some up.

Then suddenly a voice inside said, ‘Ah, we’ve got one more job for you…’. Oh shit, not again. I wasn’t expecting that – I thought I was on my way out. But then, when you enter an edge-treading miracle zone where it feels like your life is at stake three times a week, anything can happen, and it does. So I’m under new instructions, and this gig at the Assembly Rooms is a small part of that.

So this might be ninety minutes of utter crap (though it’s usually interesting), or a special sharing that you might remember longer than the next day. We shall see. That’s why I’d really like you to come – if, that is, you hear a little tinkling in your heart when you read this.

If you can’t make it, I’m doing a five-hour ‘magic circle’ in Buckfastleigh, Devon, on Sat 24th Sept.

The pic here is of Carn Les Boel, a cliff sanctuary near where I live, and it’s a really strong place at the southwestern end of the Michael Line – next stop, the Mayalands of Yucatan, Mexico.

Greetings from the Far Beyond, West Penwith, Cornwall, with love from me. Palden.

Site: palden.co.uk
Podcasts: www.palden.co.uk/podcasts.html
Events: palden.co.uk/magic-circles.html
West Penwith: ancientpenwith.org

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