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.

Tears and Fears

Sometimes, early at dawn when it’s too dark to photograph it like the other birds shown here, a little wren flits to my window. It surveys the scene, sees a few crumbs on the breadboard, flutters down, feeds and looks around, then flutters back up and out. What a gift. It doesn’t know that it has become a healer of the highest order – or that news of this would stretch across the world. So wren and I are doing a good business in crumbs – and this morning, guess what, it had crumbs from the last of Lynne’s Christmas Cake! Bonus.

Slightly soppy Jupiter in Pisces that I am, I’ve been leaking tears recently, and it’s fascinating to discover what it’s all about. Several things seem to connect up to get it going – some are very positive, such as the little wren. One is about me, one is about people I know and have a connection with, and one is about the wider world.

I’m starting chemo on Monday 1st February and this will last 5-6 months, probably followed by a few months of fatigue and other side-effects. If I don’t do chemo, then the blood cancer I have will gradually hollow out my bones, I will get more collapses of vertebrae in my back and bones going brittle, I’ll become seriously disabled and eventually I’ll die, quicker than otherwise. I don’t have great expectations, but the chemo might give me a few more years with which to complete things, inshallah.

To holistic crusaders who think there’s a better path to follow: I’m on the same side as you, and if something had come up that was sufficiently convincing, based on real experience with my particular cancer and who and where I am, and if there had been a sufficient support system that I could afford, I would have done it. So thanks, and I know you mean well, and I have chosen this path, and here we go…

But it scares the hell out of me too. Mercifully, I’m not unused to that: before working in conflict zones or entering risky situations I’d grind through my stuff in the days and weeks preceding, though increasingly I found that, on the day, I was fine, balanced and fully present. It worked, mostly, in those things I could affect. In those things I could not affect, which are many in chaotic situations, I just had to take my chances. And here I still am.

So at times I’ve been feeling vulnerable and shaky, digging around in my fears. One big thing to overcome is lingering resentments over the way things have been in my life, that have not changed for the better, despite all that I and so many others have done over the years. This is coming up now with the doctors I’m working with. As a longterm vegetarian, meditator and consciousness-explorer, also very underweight, I believe I should be dosed with medications about 30% below the norm. In the last few days I haven’t taken a single pill or shot of chemo yet, yet my body and psyche are already going there, as if autonomically inducing it. My medical results have been pretty good: last year my chemo treatment, standardly eight cycles, was cut to six, then five. These results the medical profession just calls ‘good luck’. In this they are incorrect. I’m lucky, yes, but these outcomes arise from choices I have made and positive inputs that are way outside their zone.

Back to the fear. It is activating pain from the past, about being, or feeling, misunderstood and treated inappropriately, being judged and penalised for being who I am – and I’ve had a good load of that! But it’s still going on now to some extent, and I’m unhappy about that. On the other side, I do trust my doctors, and while they do want the best for me and to get things right, they can also make my life more difficult than it needs to be. Owing to institutionalised taboos against alternatives in medicine, and because doctors lack experience of holistic solutions and odd people like me, they don’t take seriously those things that are serious for me – particularly concerning pharmacological side-effects.

To be honest, this is also the case with some holistic practitioners too, who might be qualified, and who might think they know, and they mean well, but some of them also try teaching their grandmother to suck eggs, or they err a little too far on ideology, or they lack specific experience, incorrectly applying knowledge about tumorous cancers to my much rarer leukaemia-like blood cancer. With a rare disease and an unusual person, this can be problematic, being misjudged from both directions! Though I don’t want to seem entirely critical either, since doctors and healers are genuinely helping me too. However I am yet to find someone who is competent, experienced and unbiased in complementary and conventional medical fields together – integrated medicine.

One other thing I’ve had anticipation about is the task of training friends and people how to behave with me, as a cancer patient. Most people don’t know how, so they leave me alone, and this isn’t a solution – especially with people I’d like to see. Others get awkward, or try too much to help, or they’re so sorry or anxious for me – and I just need people to slow down, make us both a cup of tea, be a friend and act naturally!

Here’s a tip for dealing with someone with brain-fog: instead of asking me what I want, tell me what you’re proposing and let me say yes or no. Or just do it anyway – keep it simple. This gets around chemo-brain and the frontal-lobe issues it brings – making decisions, finding words, remembering details and following long explanations.

Here’s another one: please don’t ask me ‘How are you?’! I am asked this multiple times per day, and you’re requiring me to do a systems check and report this to you verbally and then to deal with your responses and concerns – and, believe me, it’s tiring and repetitive. I write these blogs to report what’s happening. If we do meet or talk, please just treat me like a ninetysomething, have a good conversation or communion with me and you’ll then find out how I am. My state can change on an hourly basis anyway.

Anyway, I was feeling vulnerable over all sorts of things. It’s good to bring it up, stir it round and get some of it out of the way – because many of the experiences we have in life are there to teach us. If we learn quickly and willingly, on or ahead of time, we unmanifest certain kinds of difficult learning experiences. Or they become testing experiences instead, where the Universe checks whether you really mean it, emotionally and in your cells and bones. Again, progress in tests depends on our capacity and willingness to go make something good out of a bad situation – and working through fear, guilt and shame in advance really helps us deal with such situations when we’re actually in them. And what we fear and what actually happens are two very different things.

So I am working on welcoming and befriending the process I’m about to go through and doing the best I can with it, on all levels of my being. Really, it’s the only option.

I get emotional over other people too. There’s a woman I know in Ghana whose child died on Friday night – Kwame was perhaps three or four years old and he died of pneumonia. I paid for some medicines but it was too little, too late. God bless Kwame, little soul – he had only a short life. His mum doesn’t even have enough money to bury him, so she’s stuck and rather overwrought. This is the case for many people in countries where health and social support systems are weak, or where paying for healthcare makes the difference between life and death. I cried not so much for Kwame, who returns to his Maker, but for his mother Grace, and for people like her (Lynne is one), who are left with a gap and a shadow of loss or regret when such things happen.

Then I get emotional about the overall world situation. Problem is, I’ve been dedicated to world transformation for fifty years and the new age hasn’t started. I could perhaps have done more, though I’ve done my best, but I’m now deeply sad for the world. The price it has paid for not getting the message fifty years ago is enormous – and there’s more to go. If necessary change leading toward ecological rebalancing, social and economic justice, peace and appropriate development had started back then, the situation we face today would be very different.

I’m a philosophical guy with a longterm sense of history, and I deeply believe things will work out better than many people fear – eventually. But I feel such grief over the way things have gone, and the pain and damage involved. Yes, there have been advances, but the fundamentals have not yet been addressed. This grief is what Germans call *weltschmerz* – the pain of the world. In my meditations I work to reduce the heat and increase the light in world situations and I’m very much a believer in the maxim ‘Don’t complain about the darkness – light a candle’.

When I go to my Maker, then to see things from that perspective, I have a feeling this innerwork, of all the things I’ve done, might be what I’m most satisfied with – even though, here on Earth, it is difficult to see what benefit it has brought, and even though, especially in the now-defunct Hundredth Monkey Project and Flying Squad, we did have definite instances where miracles happened.

Sometimes my tears come up from nowhere. I think of someone, or I hear something on the radio and, whatever I’m doing, I start wobbling, so I stop and give space to that precious and revelatory emotion that’s surfacing. Personally, this is important: I learned to cry only when I was about 30 – and it was an enormous loss that did it. Back then, it wasn’t just my own self-pity, but I felt so much regret for the others who also had lost in that situation. It cracked me up and cracked me open, affecting them a lot too. This experience was important for me as an Aspie: it taught me to look people in the eyes. Aspies are often regarded as feelingless and emotionally neutral, but actually we’re flooded with feeling, often confused where to put it and how to deal with it – so we go blank and get short-circuited.

This loss set me on a path of commitment to pursuing my purpose. It’s the case for many altruists and server-souls: intense pain and dilemma can unleash one’s superpowers, if one so chooses. One supporter of Alexei Navalny in Russia recently said, when asked why she was risking so much by demonstrating in the streets, “I could not bear the thought of not being there” – and this is what changes history. There comes a point where you lose your fear – or, at least, a crucial chunk of it.

Fear is natural. In the animal part of ourselves it warns us of danger, alerting us. But the deadening, sleep-inducing, inculcated and inherited fear we all have challenges us to use it to move forward, to do what we fear, to do it anyway. Though intelligently.

So I start on Monday, getting shot up with Dara, Velcade and Dex, and a load of other stuff to compensate. It involves three visits to Treliske hospital and multiple home visits from a nurse. I reduce my holistic treatments during this period, to minimise complication and avoid conflicts between holistics and pharma. Certain things, like CBD, Vit C, colloidal silver, basic nutrients and other things, I continue because they help the process (Lynne’s flapjacks too). There are other helpers, including an eLybra machine (radionics-like) and homoeopathy. There’s a mighty inner influence from Upstairs, from healers, meditators and well-wishers round the world, from Lynne and close-by supporters, from my adopted homeland of West Penwith and the landscape of the farm where I live. And my tears are part of my arsenal as a warrior-soul. And, fuckit, the past is past and this is today, the next stage on the path. All is forgiven that I’ve uncovered so far, and I’ll try to deal with the rest when I get to it.

I hope to report the whole process, as and when I can. If possible to the end. This said, I must be self-focused in the next few months, and I won’t be very interested in or respond to many people’s questions, concerns, worries and neuroses. Or endless Youtube videos. But personal, briefly-put, interesting thoughts are welcome – I’ll probably see it but you might or might not get a reply. My day will gradually go down to about six hours, probably.

I’ve said this before and it’s worth repeating…

Everything is okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

This is one of those that’s worth writing on your toilet wall for further contemplation.

Now for the next bit.

Love, and thanks for being alive,

Palden

The pics are of birds who have visited my home in earlier years – including one wren who seemed to like hanging by a Tibetan thangka on my wall.

Hello, You

Welcome to a rather deep, wide and high cancer blog

This blog ranges around a spectrum of things. It mainly covers 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 start here and work backwards.

The blog is about my cancer story, and the podcasts announced here are about wider things, but connected, and they’re found here.

I’m glad you’re here. Please inform anyone who might like this blog – thanks. Best wishes, Palden.

botreamap4


I live in West Penwith, Cornwall, in southwest Britain.

Look for the red marker on the left – that’s where I live, on an organic farm.  Far beyond.

In Praise of Goddesses

Think about it: your partner is on a death sentence and, in anything from six months to ten years, he could be gone. It takes a heroine to stick around for that.

Palden at Faugan Round, West Penwith, Cornwall, in the buildup to a squally rainstorm

While they’re down here for the G7 conference nearby in St Ives, I was thinking of inviting Mutti Merkel, Justin Trudeau (I once met his dad) and a few of the others for kombucha and Lynne’s gluten-free flapjacks round the campfire – they’ll get an airborne dance by our swallows too. That new chap Joe can come if he wants. My son Tulki will fix a security stake-out with his army friends, and my son-in-law Perra will pick up my guests and drop them in the field in his helicopter. If that Trump guy tries to disrupt things, we’ll stuff him down an iron age fogou with one of the wrathful goddesses – good at emptying testicles in the most agonising of ways – until the summer solstice sun shines in and lets him crawl out through the creep. That’ll keep him quiet for a while. Except there’s a problem.

I’m being kept alive by a group of amazing protector-goddesses. That’s a great asset, and not the problem. Chief goddess Lynne, who minds everything from my soul to my toes, has stretched my understanding of what grace and blessing truly mean. Goddess Panacaea is embodied by Penny, who in another life probably was a first lieutenant of the highest order, and the Great Shopping Goddess is Karen, an angel who genuinely demonstrates the truth that by their works shall you know them. Sheila, Miriam, Jennifer, Faith, two Helens and my three remarkable daughters also play a part – a benign conspiracy if ever there was one.

Then comes Goddess Hygeia, my doctor Liz, whom Lynne and I had a video call with on Monday. She keeps my blood and bones going – key issues in the blood cancer I have. My readings are up: paraproteins were 3 in September, 9 in November and 13 now, and light chains have gone from 368 to 785 to 1,000. So, to intercept the returning Myeloma before it starts eating up my bones again, Liz has decided I should go back on chemo. So I can’t have contact with anyone, even if they’ve had one of the much-vaunted Covid jabs, because any infection could knock me for six. So the G7 will just have to stay in St Ives.

A year ago I decided not to have a stem cell transplant, opting for a maintenance strategy, and chemo was part of the deal. (See here.) Time’s up now, though the timing is right: I’ll go through the worst during the back end of winter and, inshallah, as I start improving, spring and summer will come. It will take five months, plus a few months’ fatigue and brain-fog, so it’s rather a long haul. I’ll tell you what it’s like when we get there. If I don’t answer messages or e-mails, please be patient and don’t take it personally. I’m starting in a few weeks from now.

Sheltering from the rain behind a standing stone at Faugan Round

I’m so fortunate. I live in a lovely place and this feeds my spirits. A saturnine workaholic till I drop, my work keeps me alight too – currently, the two main challenges are getting my book Shining Land published on paper and raising funds for the Tuareg out in the desert in Mali, to pay the three teachers at their village school (both of these tasks not as simple as you’d think). My innerwork gives me a focus too, especially during long hours stuck in bed. And yes, I’ll be hovering around the backrooms of the G7 conference twiddling etheric puppet-strings.

So I have reasons to stick around until incarnate life is no longer the best arena. It’s up to the Management, really, and though Liz (visibly worn out from overwork) is doing her best, there’s a greater medicine than this, the power of spirit and the resilience of my soul, that makes the final decision.

My tutor and companion is Lynne. While no stranger to slicing vegetables and servicing old crocks like me, and one of the most loving, caring women you ever could meet, she’s really interesting too, and she holds hands with my soul. I mean, think about it: your partner is on a death sentence and, in anything from six months to ten years, he could be gone. It takes a heroine to stick around for that. Living with an Aspie also has its challenges – when confronted with personal, emotional situations I look blank and befuddled like Commander Data, and human guile passes me by like water on fish scales. Lynne doesn’t have much of that and seems largely to handle me, but the next bit is even more trying for her…

Many people might have an image of me as a thoughtful, well-behaved, decent kinda guy, but when I’m on the steroid Dexamethasone – part of my chemo treatment – my character changes. I become argumentative, defensive, impersonal and confrontative, and my eyes take on a rather fierce, empty, heartless look. Would you like to see your old man turn on you like that? Last winter, Lynne was shocked to the core by it – and the worst bit was that I wasn’t aware I was doing it. The good bit is that, since I’m not too much of a bitter old man with a chip on his shoulder, I didn’t go as far with this as I might otherwise have done. When the treatment ended, gradually I came back, but if our relationship were less deep-rooted it would have cracked there and then. (You’ve now seen what it did to Donald Trump too – I warned you! (Here.)

There’s another thing. Cancer has prematurely aged me. Falling into the cancer abyss in November 2019, I was zooted forward to the age of 95. Recently I’ve come back to about 83 – my physical age is 70 – but in the next few months I’ll probably go back into my 90s. This is physical, affecting my movement and strength, and mental, affecting my frontal-lobe capacity to make decisions, find words and handle life’s details, and it has enormously changed my perspective. Before cancer I was ten years older than Lynne, but now, behaviourally, I’m 20-30 years older, and that must be weird for her.

Before cancer struck, I was a veteran – I’d been through deep shit and it had honed the content of my character. Well, kind of. In the 1990s and after, many long-haul veterans in the movement for change started thinking about elderhood, and I have sat in a few elders’ circles myself. But I always felt uncomfortable: I was a veteran but not an elder.

The difference clarified for me only after cancer changed everything. An elder is genuinely withdrawn, standing back – not just matured or retired but half-dead and pretty incapable. This loss of energy and engagement has a deep effect, and you start seeing things differently – a bigger agenda and perspective takes over.

Elderhood is not a status issue. One qualifies by dint of the burnishing of one’s soul, and this involves sitting with death, no longer active or competent in a worldly sense – just peeing or getting dressed becomes a big task. Your duty is to sit there, watch and see, occasionally speaking truths that lift people out of the fray, the treadmill and the madness of crowds. You have to step beyond the nowadays rather self-indulgent conservatism of old age. If you’re neither heard nor believed, you must watch quietly as the consequences unfold, in acceptance and without judgement. The only thing you can do is offer an optic to help people see more clearly. You can’t even participate in decisions – others now carry that load.

Lynne is a wise woman before her time, and unassuming with it, but she’s more involved in the fray than me, bravely juggling a lot of balls in the air, as I once did. If I last ten years, she’ll be 70 when I perform my pilgrimage to that enormous refugee camp in the sky. What then, for her? She has no shortage of assets – a brilliant astrologer, awakener and anchor to many, and a natural grandmother – but in her love and commitment to me she faces a yawning gap, and in that emptiness at such an age starting a new life isn’t easy. I’m going to leave her. This is big for her, both difficult and life-enriching.

I’m going to do my best to have a good death, and not just for my sake. No one’s going to inherit any money from me, but in this life this was not my wealth, and it gets boring being rich and powerful anyway, so this time I’m trying to engineer a different bequest. There’s something important we all must get to grips with: when we die, our body stops operating but we don’t. So whenever I pop my clogs, keep your antennae up because I’ll be sending out deviceless messages straight into your psychic inbox, but only if you keep your connection open and whitelist me on your internal spam filters.

In this sense, Lynne won’t lose me – our story doesn’t end there and our saga didn’t start here. Neither will anyone, unless you choose otherwise – we shall meet again. We still have a big task to do. We have a problem on Planet Earth, and this is not just about us and our planet. We’re holding back progress in the universe. This must end. This was fully explained in the book I wrote for the Council of Nine in the early 1990s, called The Only Planet of Choice – essential briefings from deep space.

Earth is a training ground for supertroopers – yes, you – and a hot-housing soul-hybridisation experiment for seeding the universe with possibilities that even its Creator couldn’t think up. We’ve got to get this right. It’s on us: we’re the only ones who know how to work with Planet Earth. The good news is that, if we break through on this mess we’ve created, it will be a breakthrough of cosmological proportions, never done before. If we fuck up, there will be eight billion sad, angry and lost souls for the universe to deal with, and a wasted mega-project, and the problem is that our fuckups, pain and trauma are so great and unique that others don’t really know how to sort us out – it’s beyond their experience.

I’ve worked in refugee camps and disastrous situations, but I cannot fully comprehend what it’s like being the journalist I know of in Rafah, Gaza, who returned home after writing an article to find her compound bombed and all 35 members of her family dead. Moreover, she’s chosen not to hate the Israelis for it. It’s like that. I can empathise and do what I can, but the scale of her loss and her choice is beyond my experience.

So we have to stop this war on Earth: not just the shooting, but the environmental, human and psychospiritual destruction we have built into a seemingly unstoppable institution. That’s why we must meet again, one sunny day.

There are men involved in my life too – Tulki, Anim and the Chief of Tinzibitane – even two souls in India that I’ve never met, Navin and Vishnu, who have greeted me every single day for ages, plus others like the two rather laddish fortysomethings I live next door to – but I’m now very much in womankind’s hands.

In 1968 I went to a talk by Germaine Greer and was shocked to learn of women’s oppression by men and the patriarchy – I’d never even thought of it before – and something in me clicked. It has been tricky spending fifty years as a man on the side of feminism – sometimes seemingly being blamed for all of the sins of my fellow males – but I am so happy to say that, while there’s further to go, they’re on their way, and I honour my bravely desperate sisters for that, surrounded as I am now by brilliant examples of how far things have progressed.

Lynne would not call herself a feminist but in some respects she’s well ahead of the game. She serves her family and fellow humans yet she’s no slave. Her qualifications to teach are in her bones and her smile, not on a sheet of paper. When she lights up people’s lives she’s not just glimmering. When she breaks down she’s no victim, when she’s strong she’s perceptive and empathic, and when she’s troubled she doesn’t throw a fit. She probably feels uncomfortable with my extolling her virtues in public but this isn’t starry-eyed romance – it’s really real – and if she hadn’t walked into my life I don’t think I’d be here now.

So I’ve learned a few big lessons in this last year. Healing is not just about doing medication or therapies – and I have one foot on a pharmaceutical and one on an holistic pathway. It’s about cultivation of spirit. Get real: one third of you, my readers, will get cancer – and yes, I too thought it wouldn’t happen to me. You’ll get it because you’re ready to go through that mangle and because it’s the greatest gift of your life. If you don’t get cancer you’ll have no shortage of other hurdles to jump. So do it well, live as if this day is your last, and die well too.

Apart from making a contribution to the world on the way, you came for this. So make your choice. And if you’ve already made it, what’s the next step? Because even if you’re near the end, there’s more to go. You won’t get this kind of opportunity back home on the Pleiades, or wherever you came from. They don’t have chocolate there either.

The most amazing thing about Lynne is that she knows deeply that healing and loving me doesn’t involve holding onto me: she’s chosen to walk this journey with me, whatever happens and however it needs to be. I’m so grateful for that. This matters so much to someone in the last chapter of their life. She could have taken an easier path.

So I’m in good hands.

Bless you all, and thanks for reading. Palden.

With photos by Lynne, sweater by Sheila and hat by Maya.

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.

Risen from the Half-Dead

Normally I’m the kind of person who gets ill only once every twenty years. When people were getting colds and flu, I’d have one-third symptoms for twelve hours and it would be over. In my life I’ve been in some pretty dangerous situations, and amazingly I’m still alive. So incurring bone marrow cancer, or myeloma, last year, has meant a new life. Lynne is continually amazed at my calm in the face of adversity, but I just reply, “Yes, but no one is shooting at us and the world isn’t ending, so all is well“.

This said, a year ago, when I was diagnosed, I went through a week of anger. I had been a meditating wholefood vegetarian since my twenties and had looked after myself well, precisely to avoid issues like cancer. So I felt frustrated, even let down by my beliefs. But then I learned how this particular kind of cancer is caused by toxicity – electromagnetic or chemical – and in my case it has been electromagnetic. This became a problem for me from 2000 onwards as mobile phones and wi-fi came in, though I think I’ve had some nuclear exposure too. This toxicity issue helped me get over the anger, and at that moment I entered the self-healing process fully. I gave myself full permission to make the best of a disaster.

Recently I’ve been wondering how much of a future I have. I’ve had a lot of fatigue – it comes on in the afternoon, sometimes quite suddenly. It’s not just tiredness – it hits the central controls of your bodymind and halves the power. Everything except the force of gravity gets switched down – brain activity, physical strength – and with it can come some pretty downward-facing thoughts. Such as ‘Is all this struggle worth it?‘ and ‘Will it ever end?‘. I’m rather addicted to being an asset to the world and now I find myself wondering, in my down moments, how much of a liability I’ve become. We Westerners are very expensive humans to keep alive.

In my last blog, I told the story of a crisis I had a few weeks ago. It was sciatica, which triggered an outbreak of shingles. The sciatica arises from myeloma, which eats away at the bones. John Tillyard, a gifted and experienced chiropractor in Hayle, who treated me recently, said that the gaps between my back vertebrae are very large. When I lie down flat I can click myself in 3-5 different places – it’s rather shocking to anyone who hears it!

The sciatica arose from this issue – the bottom few vertebrae in my back had collapsed or compressed last year and I cannot fully support my back for more than a few minutes without resting on walking sticks. So my back clicked out, very painfully. The shingles is a side-effect of the chemo drugs of last winter. It’s the chickenpox virus, that hides in a corner of our nervous system and erupts in later life when prompted – the sciatica prompted it.

So I’ve been pretty wiped out by that. My active day lasts 6-8 hours only – and that includes doing housekeeping or indulging in small pleasures such as just sitting. Which is why I don’t chat on Messenger or answer messages quickly or at all – sorry about that. Writing this blog will finish me off for today. Oh, and I sincerely recommend that you don’t get shingles, if you can help it!

So I was worried that I might slowly be going downhill. I had a blood test and, yes, my readings were slowly going up. Liz, the haematologist at Treliske hospital in Truro, started preparing me for the possibility of another round of chemotherapy, but booked me for a PET scan to check if damage was being done. Lynne took me to Truro for the PET scan on Monday – and that was a fullmoon adventure in its own right (her car broke down)! But we’re a good team, she and I, and magic happened, and we got home, and all was well.

The next day, Liz rings up sounding happy, saying that my scan results were really good and that the two things that had worried them were no cause for concern. That was heartening – I needed some good news! But, to me, it had extra meaning. A year ago, when I was lying there in hospital, assimilating my situation, I realised, “Well, Palden, you’ve been given a challenge, and that is, ‘healer, heal thyself’!“.

Throughout my life I haven’t been a healer in the normal sense, but as an astrologer I’ve seen myself as a perceptual healer, and in my community and humanitarian work I’ve seen myself as a social healer, and at times, in crisis situations, I’ve used laying-on-of-hands and psychic healing to amazing effect – but none of these has been my primary focus. Now I have been challenged to apply healing power to myself and, not only that, but to demonstrate it to the doctors.

The primary issue for me has been meditative – opening myself up fully to the spiritual and medical attention of my ‘angels’, and opening up my cells to the medications I’ve been given, asking my body-mind intelligence to regulate the process to best effect. I’ve allowed myself to be held in the upturned palms of the Goddess, showered with light by my ‘friends upstairs’, included in the prayers and meditations of all sorts of people in a range of countries and cultures, and helped by the humans in my life and by the wonderful landscape I live in – the magic land of Belerion, the Shining Land, in West Cornwall. Thanks and many blessings for that, to all of you. It means so much.

What happened? Well, my six-cycle chemo last winter was stopped at five – job done. Although side-effects of treatments have been an issue for me, they are not as much an issue as they are for many other people. And now there are the latest results, causing some eyebrow-raising in the haematology department at Treliske. So, thus far I have managed to demonstrate, at least to myself, that innerwork like this, plus the beliefs, diet and lifestyle habits I have had for decades, seem to have a discernable positive effect on my medical outcomes. What disappoints me, though, is that the doctors are not interested in finding out why and how. To them, my results are just ‘good luck’ – that’s a very scientific evaluation, if ever there was one.

When death is tapping you on the shoulder it makes you review your life and look hard at what you’re happy and unhappy with. Two big life lessons for me (and for a good few of my friends) have been ‘the pain of history’ and ‘living behind enemy lines syndrome’. As a radical and pioneer, I’ve had to learn that changing history takes time, and it can take longer than a lifetime – especially during periods when the world is, on the whole, in denial and blocking, messing around with phantasms like Donald Trump or the latest iPhone rather than addressing the major matters at hand – ‘amused to death’, as Roger Waters (formerly of Pink Floyd) would put it.

So, in the projects I’ve undertaken throughout my life, there has been success in some cases, but not as much as there could have been, and many project failures have been the fault not of the project itself but of the politics, economics and social values around it. Despite our exertions over the decades against war, war has not ended and my own country is still a leading arms exporter. The situation in Palestine has not improved at all since I first got involved in 1997. The Tuareg village I work with in Mali could still get wiped out in one afternoon, either by jihadi extremists or by French troops. Has there been progress? No, but in the longterm, yes – though it should be happening quicker. This has been difficult to live with and, in my later years, I’m deeply tired of it – rather deeply exhausted with the fact that things have not changed as much as they have needed to change.

‘Living behind enemy lines syndrome’ – hm, that’s a tricky one. It’s all to do with having ways and values that are not in line with the majority of people and the dominant culture we live in. If you don’t play along with the rules, you could get busted, anytime, and for ridiculous, trumped-up reasons. I was busted, criminalised, exiled, scapegoated, disrespected and robbed of my rights – and I’m not the only one. And things that should have happened were blocked and obstructed for stupid and, in the end, destructive, selfish reasons.

In the mid-1990s I worked with a doctor who, with Prince Charles, was seeking to develop Integrated Medicine – a fusion of conventional and complementary therapies in healthcare. Has there been progress? No, not really – because government, Big Pharma, the medical profession and even the BBC are against it. And, worse, this affects me now because, more than anything, I now need the supervision of a doctor with full knowledge of both health sectors, who does not suffer from the ideological, political and business biases that are definitely not in humanity’s best longterm interests.

We’ve had fifty years of this enormous cover-up and I’m tired of it. I’m tired of having to try to persuade doctors to give me lower dosages, because unlike many people I don’t need hitting with a medical sledgehammer. I’m tired of doctors’and nurses’ distrust of my intuitions whereby, with some drugs, I ask them to change it or reduce the dosage while with other drugs I’m fine, and when they ask why, I simply say “It doesn’t feel right“. But they fail to remember that it is I who pays the price of medical sledgehammering, and that dealing with the side-effects of previous treatments is half of the problem I face today, and that it is possible for a person to have accurate and practical internal feelings and intuitions.

I must finish now – the clock is ticking. I wanted to say something, because I’ve been silent recently. I have more to say about the coming decade and the state of the world, but that must wait, and Lynne and I have been recording material for some ‘Podcasts from the Far Beyond’ too, which will come online whenever they’re ready.

But here’s a hint: the distresses and difficulties of the Covid experience of 2020 mark the beginning of a longer process, and it represents a turning of the tide in human history: it’s all about the rehumanisation of life on Earth. And this is the agenda from now until the early 2040s.

Now it’s time to climb back into bed and stare at the crows wheeling around over the fields outside my window.

Beeee goooood. ET right here. Thanks for lending me your eyeballs. Bless you. All is well, Palden.

Aching

I woke up this morning with a tune in my head – Steve Winwood’s ‘Somebody help me, yeah’. Must be fifty years old. It was dark. I was wet with sweat. In the last 3-4 days something new seems to have been happening, with a variety of new symptoms suddenly coming up. My hips are aching deeply with a new kind of arthritis. It gnaws at me. It aches deep in my bones. I lay there, stewing in my sweat. I needed a pee but I couldn’t move. The wind was rattling the barn doors.

With first light came the cawing of the hundreds of crows down in the woods below the farm. I love those crows – they assemble in the woods in autumn, gathering from all over West Penwith, to stay together through the winter. Samhain is their time. But this morning their crowing was eerie, echoing around in my psyche and reverberating against its walls.

The aching was invading me, spreading up my back, through my pelvis and down my legs. I don’t often feel self-pity nowadays, but this morning I did. Somebody help me. I wanted to ring up a magic doctor who would come to my aid and rescue me – but when I ring the doctors, all they do is question me, rattle notes down on the computer, and that’s it. Or perhaps they prescribe something I don’t really want, or they might arrange yet another scan in two weeks’ time. I want to be examined, looked at and touched – however wondrous and diagnostically revealing they might be, I don’t want yet another faceless scan.

OMG, I’ve got to get up. My bed’s wet. I’ve got to loosen my bones somehow but they won’t move. I’m stuck. Something inside me disintegrates. I’m desperate for a pee. I heave myself up and get down off my bed. My shirt is wet and cold – I struggle it off and it lies there, limp on the floor. I’m standing there naked, shivering.

Groping around for a new shirt, I pull one out and, wobbling in my heart, I struggle it on and stagger to the toilet. I can’t do this any more. That’s the feeling. Shooting pains go down my legs. I’m standing there peeing, and my heart collapses. Tears well up and I’m standing there, holding myself up, peeing and crying, feeling helpless like a little boy who’s lost in space and can’t find the way home. The tears roll down my face into my beard, my stomach quivers, my legs are working hard to hold me up. I’ve never experienced arthritis like this before – I’ve had arthritis only since last winter as my cancer chemotherapy drew toward its end.

I finish peeing and stand there, holding myself up. My crying is just crying, not about anything, just emotion, tears, weakness, lostness. I stagger back to bed but it’s wet – I can’t get back in. Just as well Penny’s coming later to clean my house – she changes the sheets, makes my bed and takes my dirties away to wash them, bless her. I stand there looking at the bed, my brains slowly computing that the relentless procedure of getting up is about to grind into action, whether I like it or not. Well, at least I’ll be able to move my bones around and loosen up this aching stiffness.

I’m standing there, mindless, helpless, and the sound of the crows is echoing around my psyche. Somebody help me, yeah. But I’m an old warrior: when they’re firing at you, don’t stand there – do something, anything. Do something to pull yourself out of this nightmare. Well, at least no one is actually shooting at me. I’m fixed to the spot, with my feelings erupting and leaking all over the place.

Suddenly I’m with that family of Kurdish Iranians who, a couple of days ago, were gulped up by the fierce waters of La Manche, the English Channel, as winter comes down – the family who sold everything to come to Britain to find a new life, who drowned and were taken into Neptune’s arms and away to heaven. Alhamdulillah, God bless you, you people: you wanted a better life and you got this.

A good friend had sent me a copy of The Afterlife of Billy Fingers – I finished it last night. It’s the story of a man who died, who communicated back to his sister to tell her what it was like on the other side. There’s a kind of sweet relief to it, to his after-death release, and part of me is there in that realm, leaving my pain behind, while another part of me is standing here shivering, aching, crying uncontrollably as the pain eats at me, reminding me so cogently that I’m still here on Earth, still here, witnessing the aching in the hollows of my bones, watching, crying, wobbling, witnessing, experiencing.

Palden, pull yourself together. Don’t just stand there bloody shivering! I get my jalabiya (an Arabic robe) and put it on. Uh, it’s the wrong way round. I’m struggling it round and eventually get my arms through the right holes. Put the kettle on – yes, the universal solution to everything. So very British. Put that kettle on, Palden.

My bones won’t move but I force myself. Fill that kettle, put it on. What next? Light the fire. I light the kindling and pile on two logs and there I am, on all fours, staring at the licking flames. It’s a good position though: my backbone clicks in four places – ah, relief. But the relief just unleashes another flood of helpless tears. Dripping tears, licking flames, crarking crows, lashing rain, Atlantic gusts, rattling doors, aching bones.

The kettle boils. Oh fuck, now it’s the next bit. Tip yesterday’s dregs out on the fern outside my door. A clutch of China Keemun goes into the pot. Water on top. Aah, I’ve achieved something! I’m crying less now. The words of the I Ching ring out: perseverance furthers – it furthers to have something to do. But I find myself just staring at the tea cosy hugging the teapot and a memory comes up.

I was at a checkpoint and there was a queue of Palestinians standing there, waiting to be let through. The Israeli soldiers, twentysomethings, were, I think, slightly enjoying the power they had over these poor sods, who were standing there just wanting to go home after work. The soldiers wave me forward. One looks at my passport. Yes, you can go. But hang on, what about them? They can wait, says he. Then I shall wait too. He looks at me: hm, an awkward fucking foreigner. I refuse to go through until they let the Palestinians through. I’m tired and want to go home too, after a long day in Jerusalem, but no.

They lock me in a room and I sit there for an hour. Later, a soldier comes in, stands there. I’m sitting there, looking at him. He’s American – probably an enthusiastic recent immigrant who has performed aliyah, return, fulfilling his own dreams of a new life. Suddenly he says, “You know what? We were talking yesterday and wondered how you English make tea”. “Excuse me?”. “Yeah, make tea – how do you English make tea?”.

Well, within twenty minutes I’d got them to assemble the bits and I showed them how we Brits make tea. This is what happens sometimes, in the bizarre movie of conflict. All the soldiers were in with me now and we were all drinking tea and chatting. “Okay, you can go now”, says the officer – he’s twenty years younger than me. “But what about them?”, I say, pointing to the Palestinians, still queueing. He looks at me, looks at them. I can see his mind, calculating.

A bit pissed off, he goes out, opens the turnstile and shouts at the Palestinians – “Go!“. They look surprised and start trooping through, wondering whether it’s a trick. By now there must have been two hundred of them. It took a while. They all troop off into no-man’s land, toward the gap in the further security wall, heading for home. “Okay?” say the officer, looking at me. “You’re a good man”, I say, “But you could have done it earlier”. “Get outta here”. “Enjoy the tea – pity I couldn’t bring you some of my Mum’s fruit cake.”

As I walk out I wonder whether a bullet might follow me, but no, I’m a privileged Brit and it would cause an incident, and this is apartheid and this is how it works. I walk alone through no man’s land, watched by young, bored soldiers imprisoned in their watchtower, all busily doing their military service and probably wishing they were in a nightclub in Tel Aviv.

I go through the gap and twenty or so Palestinians are there, waiting. I recognise a few of them. They take my bag, grab me and lift me up on the shoulders of two of them, jibbering together in Arabic and carrying me like a caliph to a waiting taxi. As we drive away, we all wave. The taxi driver takes me to a cafe in Bethlehem. “My father, my mother, my brothers, you have tea with us – you good man.”

Tea. It must be ready by now. Has much time passed? The stove is warming up. My eyes have dried. I go wash my hands and face, pour the tea and drop down, exhausted, in my seat. Somebody help me, yeah. It’s getting light. A bevvy of crows is now sitting, blown in the wind, on top of the farmhouse roof. My back is aching.

And so begins another day. ‘A bad day’. This is what you get sometimes, with cancer – bad days. But Lynne is coming tomorrow – this makes me cry again. She’s so good to me. The aching is easing now. I’m coming back. It’s a Thursday, I think.

UPDATE

Thank you, everyone, for your lovely comments. I’m sitting here the day after, drinking kombucha, the fogs of Penwith are drippily enveloping the farm, and I’m still alive and getting there. Penny, who comes every Thursday, gave me a revelation: it’s not arthritis but sciatica! Though I might have arthritis too. Goes to show, the trade-off we have medically: modern pharmaceutic drugs undoubtedly do save lives when it’s a dire emergency, which it was for me last year, but they also can charge their price in side-effects. If my cancer diagnosis in Nov 2019 had been one month later there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be here now. But then, holistic treatments have problems: too many specialists and no complete all-round healthcare, and it can cost a bomb, so it benefits the relatively privileged only.

Anyway, from an awareness viewpoint, I had a revelation yesterday. I found I was able to be completely involved in the process but also the Watcher within was witnessing it simultaneously, and this was a great gift.

It’s bizarre saying this, but cancer has been a gift – though obviously it’s difficult too. But then, for the astrologers amongst you, I’m on a Neptune opposition Saturn, and this whole journey was triggered a year ago while Saturn-Pluto were doing a trine to my Saturn. So this is a lesson in turning Saturnine experiences into something good: Saturn is a Teacher you cannot run away from, and its beneficence lies in wringing us out, shoving us through the mangle and breaking our bones, metaphorically or literally.

The sciatica comes from the fact that bone marrow cancer eats your bones and, in my case, it caused some of the bottom vertebrae of my back to collapse – and now my sciatic nerve is getting squeezed. I’m going to visit John, my chiropractor in Hayle, and also discuss this with Liz, the haematologist at Treliske hospital.

I wrote this piece unpremeditatedly, while still in the process. As a writer I have five decades’ experience, but something more has emerged since cancer entered my life. I wasn’t actually seeking your sympathy – I sought simply to share a situation that is not uncommon, but many of those who experience it aren’t as articulate as I. I was aware I was channelling not only my own pain but that of many others out there in the world, many of suffering alone and uncared for.

While writing this, Lynne arrived for our customary fortnightly long weekend – it’s such a relief when she comes. While talking to her just now, I was saying that beyond all the treatments and therapies that can be done, the key issue in healing is happiness. I’m fundamentally happy, despite everything. There’s a key also in the word ‘suffer’, which means ‘allow’ – permission, acceptance, taking things on board.

But the great asset I draw on too – and I say this for folks younger than me who are trying their best to follow a path of change and spirit – is the fruits of fifty years of psychospiritual work, and reasonably good diet and lifestyle. In my case, I’ve nevertheless incurred cancer, but my immunity and my psyche are pretty robust as a result of my history and attitude, so I encourage you to keep on your path of growth, however you do it, because it does pay dividends. Keep it up, you good souls out there. But there’s always a twist to everything in life: my cancer is caused by toxicity, seemingly not by lifestyle issues – in my case radiation and electromagnetic exposure (phone, wifi and nuclear).

Bless you all. Thanks for being with. I’ll be offline for the weekend – and that’s part of my therapy too! Love, Paldywan Kenobi.

Plumbing the Void

Palden at Bodrifty ancient village, West Penwith

At times I give out the wrong impression. When I write my blog or talk to people, I’m usually in an up state, so people get an up impression. But at present I am up for only about 5-6 hours each day, then I start drooping. The rest of the time I’m fatigued, flumped in bed, watching the birds outside my window or floating in the ethers. I didn’t know what fatigue was like until I got it. It’s not just serious tiredness: it’s a helpless, leaden megaflop. Time slows down and disappears. Brains clog up, and lifting an arm or keeping up a conversation becomes an act of will. But when I flop, it’s bliss. I float into faraway realms that, forty years ago, I strove hard to enter.

Cancer is a strange gift. It focuses you and rearranges all your priorities. You have to work at being alive. You find out what’s important. Things that used to worry you just evaporate. You have to focus on being with the cancer and also with the side-effects of medication. You find out who your real friends are. Some people you just can’t deal with any more – like those whose opening gambit is the inevitable ‘How are you?’ (for the umpteenth time today) or, rushing in and asking ‘Anything I can do to help?’, without realising that I’ll remember what I needed just after they’ve rushed away again! (Advisory: just observe the person, and take thoughtful initiatives.)

Talking of side-effects, I had reservations when the doctors gave Dexamethasone to Donald Trump – Dex is rather like cocaine. It has its virtues – it reduced my cancer, helped my back and was strengthening in effect. But I also became insensitive, detached, mental, badly behaved, retaliatory and prone to misjudging situations. This was upsetting to Lynne, who saw my glazed eyes and was shocked at my evasive unreceptivity, but at least I didn’t have the keys to a nuclear arsenal or the power to affect too many people. Giving Dex to Trump is a security risk. He says he ‘feels great’ – but he won’t when he comes off Dex. He’ll sink into post-Dex despond – equally dangerous.

Palden at Bodrifty, wondering about the flask of tea

I had a phone consultation with the haematologist. My results are good, better than expected – after all, I’ve been drooping and struggling recently. But I won’t need to go back on chemo and steroids for a while. There’s no remission with bone marrow cancer: you have to live with it and manage it until you pop your clogs. I’ve been helped by positive attitude, inner openness, exercise, rest, the love and care of Lynne (who comes every other weekend), Tulki (my son), a clutch of other goodly souls and the prayers of many people and beings (bless you all). I have twelve pill bottles next to my desk – antioxidants, vits, CBD oil and allsorts. I’m guzzling blueberry powder, ginseng, oils, beansprouts, colloidal silver, cider vinegar… it goes on.

But I never thought I’d get bored. This is weird. Usually I’m thinking, creating, churning out stuff – one of those who has no time for TV or gaming. Writing a book has helped immensely, except it’s finished and I’m now unexcitedly dragging through amendments and finding a publisher – and my usual strategy of going travelling or on a lecture tour after finishing a book is a thing of the past. I’ve been in confinement for a year now and I’m drying up.

Even so, it’s wonderful here on the farm and it nourishes me. I can prop myself up in bed and watch the buzzards through the big windows. I live in The Lookout, and that’s precisely what you do here. Insights come up while doing so. Lying in bed one day, I was doing my usual psycho-trick of looking for the gift in my situation and suddenly realised that I was, in a way, channelling collective fatigue. People are worn out and fed up, deep down. The Covid crisis was triggered on a Jupiter-Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn in late January, and this has dug up much deeper stuff than we’re aware of even now.

Doubts, guilt, fear, anticipation, insecurity about the past and future, and everything, really – personal, social and national issues. Astrologically, the lurking fear of the Great Unknown is a symptom of Neptune, the main driver of Covid as a global experience. It gives us a deep collective sense of vulnerability because we can’t nail down solutions, control the virus, find the escape hatch and restore normality. Neptune in Pisces wants us to see, to reconsider reality and reconfigure our perspective and roadmaps.

Worn out and wan at Boscawen-un stone circle

A spiritual crisis is going on (they call it ‘mental health’). What is my life for? What are we here for? What are, or were, truth and reality? Such questions have been studiously avoided for generations. There’s a stored-up reservoir of dread down there: perhaps everything has been in vain, perhaps we got it all wrong, perhaps it’s all going wrong. To avoid facing this, society deflects into blame, rebellion, compliance, complaint, argument, depression and desperately grasping for solutions that aren’t actually there.

Or at least, we aren’t finding what we think ought to be the solution. A solution where we don’t have to really change – others should change instead, not me, not us. But reality has changed. We’re faced with our fear of the Great Yawning Precipice. Things aren’t going back to normal. The situation we’re in is providing solutions we need, but we see it as a problem. This is an acceleration. We’re moving into a time where the future is causing the present more than the past is.

Covid is the first of many crises, and secretly we know it and need to get used to it. Change will come through a growing avalanche of events and conjunctures that no one thought possible, against which we are undefended. Like Covid. Totally unexpected situations are the mechanism by which radical change is likely to happen.

Not long ago I posted a video on FB in which a bunch of smiling Palestinians were saying ‘World, we know you’re going through a hard time – we understand you, and welcome to the club!‘. Palestinians, despite everything, are a bizarrely happy people compared to us. They’re not at all happy with their circumstances but, inside, they’ve accepted something about life that we have not. They’re still there despite everything. Meanwhile, in richer, declining countries like Britain, we stand on the edge of a precipice, complaining, and we’re scared shitless, pretending to be alright.

The Palestinian secret is sumud: stay on the case, tough it out and never give up. That’s how they lose battles while stopping their oppressors from winning the war. By degrees they have less fear, guilt and shame than people in countries like Britain. Here, we wet our knickers over face-masks, lockdowns and freedoms but we ain’t seen nothin’ yet. Covid forces us to face a dilemma that was creeping up on us anyway. Society was permitting it – surveillance, regulation, compliance, slavery to the megamachine, fear of rocking the boat, taking risks, losing income. The dilemma is about control, a primary issue in coming decades.

We have a choice: to get through the future, we humans need solidarity and cooperation from ground level up, and anyone who doesn’t join is, in effect, sabotaging humanity (sounds terrible, but there’s truth in it); on the other hand, Covid and digital technology are being used to curtail social and political freedoms, ramping up the matrix of control from the top down. Rebellious exceptionalism undermines the first option, and the second option, though Orwellian, is undermined by competition at a high level between clashing ideas and a splintered oligarchy. The world is rudderless, stuck in a logjam which only an overwhelming flood of stirring events can shake out. Covid is a practice run.

Fatigued and far away

I find my confinement manageable yet difficult, though it’s also fruitful. Alone (mostly) in a wooden cabin in paradise, watching and feeling the world, listening more closely to things than to people, I’m grateful to be alive. In my fatigued dream-states I tune into people who have it worse than me, like a man I know in Gaza who has cancer, no medicine and is getting bombed. I sit with people like him in the innerworlds.

Back in early August I woke up one day with a feeling that ‘if I hadn’t had treatment, this is the day I would have died’. The baby swallows from the barn, fluttering around outside, made me smile – today is the beginning of the rest of my life.And for all of us, today is the beginning of a new world. It doesn’t look like that, but remember: the computer you’re looking at has its origins in a disaster called World War Two. My late aunt Hilary was in Alan Turing’s team and she was one of the world’s first ever computer operators. They thought they were fighting Hitler – well, yes, but they were inventing the computer too, and in the fullness of history, that’s bigger. We think we’re ‘fighting Covid’ – well, yes, but something else is happening underneath, though it might take seventy years to realise what it has become.

Everything is okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. So hang in there. We’re on a mission and it’s gonna take a while. We’re working on historic matters, a turn-around in the very nature of civilisation. Everyone has a bit-part to play. Everyone is right and nobody is wrong, because we’re all playing parts in an enormous chessgame that is bigger than any of us can see. All of us, together, will decide the future of the world, whatever anyone thinks about elites, controllers, billionaires, conspiracies, reptilians… or fathers.

If, like me, you’re not that far from passing away, do you plan to leave this world behind when you go, or will you come back to see this planetary change-process through to its conclusion? One day, when the world is rendered safe and sound, there’s going to be a big, global party and, having come this far, I want to be there. Then, I’ll be happy to leave the future to others and go my way, relieved. Job done.

May the light of spirit bless us and keep us, and cause its light to shine through us and guide our way home.

Love you all, Paldywan Kenobi.

Photos by Lynne Speight, astrologer, photographer and handholder extraordinaire

Still here, Amazingly

St Michael’s Mount – 5,500 years ago a Neolithic Tor Enclosure. Picture from my book.

The deed is done. I finished writing my book Shining Land. Been writing it since December. So now it will go out to a few readers for checking – I present quite a few radical ideas, and I want to make sure they make sense. It’s all about the ancient sites of West Penwith and ‘megalithic geoengineering’. Phew, so that’s done. Now I can pay more attention to family, friends and people.

After my cancer treatment in November to March I landed up with a lot of fatigue and brain-fog, so in the last six months I haven’t been very functional. I’ve been alive and active for only 6-8 hours each day, with a need to do my daily tasks, cook food and run my house as well as write the book and live a life. All in a slow and doddery way.

I’ve had a lot of trouble with making decisions, complexity and problem-solving, and yet, when I’ve been clear enough to write, my brains have done well. Obviously it concerns different parts of the brain. But one advantage of the fatigue has been that, when I go to bed in the afternoon, lying there in a strange heavy stupour with my leaden body totally flumped, my psyche floats around the subtle worlds in a hypnopompic, dreamlike state, and in that time I’ve mulled sluggishly over things and given each proposition and paragraph far more thought than I’ve done in the ten previous books I’ve written.

It’s strange, writing books. You can’t show anyone until long after it’s finished. It’s hidden away in a computer file, and I can’t hold it, prod it or wave it around. As far as you lot are concerned, I’ve been quiet, seemingly doing nothing. But I’ve been doing lots. It’s now ready – apart from a final review after a few readers have vetted it.

Lockdown hasn’t been a problem. Every time I write a book I go into lockdown, so I’m well practiced. When I did The Only Planet of Choice in 1992 I was locked down for 18 months. The main difference has been that, usually, people think I’m being antisocial. But during Covid I’ve suddenly not been antisocial. Nothing changed for me – it was others’ attitudes that changed! But if ‘normality’ returns, I’ll be antisocial again, haha.

Meanwhile, healthwise I have been improving 5-10% each month. As Victoria, a nurse heroine, warned me back in March, I won’t return to the same place where I was before I was diagnosed with bone marrow cancer. Back at winter solstice I felt like a 95 year old. Now I feel like an 80 year old – getting younger! But I don’t think I’ll get a lot younger. My body is getting older – I’ve just reached what my old friend Sig Lonegren, the dowser, called the Big-Seven-Oh. He reached it ten years before me.

You ought to see all the supplements and remedies I’m taking. Most of them are capsuled in those funny plasticky capsules, and I don’t want to swallow 15 of those every day. So religiously I break open these dratted things, mix them together, add a dash of top-grade local runny honey, let it soak in, and then I take this superpowered spludge on a teaspoon. I’m no longer on pharmaceuticals, thanks be.

One of the weird things has been that, during my treatment since November, only one doctor has actually touched me – that was a poor registrar who had to stick his finger up my bum to see whether I had prostate cancer (I don’t). It has been ‘bloods’, x-rays, PET scans, CT scans and MRI scans and, sure, they’re amazing. But not a soul has actually listened to my heart, looked at my tongue or touched me. This is modern medicine.

So when I went to John Tillyard, a brilliant chiropractor in Hayle, he actually touched me, and it was amazing! His hands were so firm, and he was so good at what he was doing – he hit me on the spot first time and every time. Three treatments and I was standing and moving so much better. Bless you, John – you’re a good man. Soul-sister Miriam has been giving me remote healings on Zoom too – I am much blessed.

My back will never return to its former strength and straightness – I’ll probably be using sticks for the rest of my life. It’s useful having four legs though. I can stagger around the house without sticks for up to three minutes, and that’s it. Three vertebrae in my lower back collapsed a year ago – that was the first sign of the cancer. My bones have lost substance: I click my back in at least five places when I lie down. You can hear it – it’s quite shocking first time. Bone marrow cancer erodes your bones, and though this has been stopped by the chemo treatment, my bones aren’t what they were.

For astrologers out there, guess what, I’m on a Neptune opposition Saturn right now, and it’s all about bones. Bones that have lost their firmness. I’ve had teeth falling out too. But I’m still here and, despite this, when my energy is up I can walk a mile or two – slowly and dodderily – especially in inspiring places, of which there is no shortage around here.

Thanks be to three amazing ladies. First is Lynne, who cares for my heart, spirits and soul, second is Penny, a fine soul who cleans my house and does tasks, and third is Karen, a Brummie angel who does my shopping each Thursday. I am held in the hands of the Goddess. Also Helen, my homoeopath, who gave me a radioactive lanthanide Curium 1M remedy recently, and that really pulled me together. Oops, was it legal to say that?

The doctors are happy with my cancer – the readings are good – but they think I might have lung cancer. I don’t. When I said this to the specialist I could see her thinking, “Uh-oh, he’s one of those”. She politely called my response ‘conservative’. Then, just this morning, a lung cancer nurse rang me, following a recent CT scan – a really nice chap – to tell me that the suspected lung cancer has not got worse and might even have got a bit better. They’ll test me again in a year. I told him that, all my life, I’ve been something of a healer, especially in my humanitarian work, and this is a case of Healer, heal thyself. “Interesting attitude”, he said. “You might be right”.

I’ve been rather shocked though at the extent to which the NHS hasn’t been caring much for me – and I’m glad I have holistic treatments and practitioners to resort to. But there’s a problem with both doctors and holistic practitioners: they are all specialists, all stuck in silos. It’s a completely non-integrated system, both in the NHS and the holistic sector. No one except Lynne is watching my overall condition. I’ve even had difficulty getting advice and appointments from my GP. When I ring them they take copious notes and… nothing happens.

That’s weird. I understand their situation with Covid, but I’m feeling ignored. But then, that simply means it’s for me to self-manage and do whatever I feel best, and that suits me fine. Kind of. I’d appreciate more knowledge and advice, especially (here comes a pipedream) from someone who understands both pharma and holistic medicine.

So now I’m a seventysomething. I never thought I’d get this far. In my life I’ve had at least ten opportunities to die, and I’m still here! Hello world. I’ll live until my angels decide it’s no longer worth keeping me here, and I get the feeling they have a few more tasks lined up. The book I’ve just written was the first. Since having cancer I’ve moved into a new archetype within – which many might see, for better or worse, as a ‘wise old man’ archetype. I’m becoming a voice calling from the far beyond (well, down’ere near Land’s End, it does feel like that). That’s what ‘Penwith’ means – the end of the beyond.

The ancient name for this Land’s End area is Belerion – the shining land. And it does.

Some time ago, when fire-walking was all the rage, people nagged me to join in and I just wasn’t taken with it. Perhaps they thought I was weak-willed – me, with Mars in Scorpio? No, if you want a test of the will, try cancer. It’ll get you where expensive new age trainings just don’t reach. It’ll confront you with all your fears. It’ll give you the biggest choice you ever made. It’s gloriously unromantic. It’ll truly test your will to live. It will hone your spirit – if, that is, you choose that route. It’ll prepare you for joining the Ancestors. It’s a bizarre kind of Gift of God. I don’t recommend it, but if it comes to you, do your best with it.

I’ve done acid, been with Tibetan Lamas, swamis, shamans, sheikhs and so many wondrous people, I’ve communed with ETs and transdimensional beings, hobnobbed with magnates, hippies, monarchs and Gazans, and cancer is another stage on that enlightenment path. Before any of us came here, we were, after all, warned that it was not going to be easy on Earth. We thought, “That’s okay, I’ll manage it, and besides, I want the chocolate”. And here we are, on this Earth – and you ought to find out about the crimes, injustices and near-slavery that are involved in providing you with that chocolate too.

This is the time and the future is here, now. This is it. Forget returning to normality: too much in this world needs to change and we can’t afford normality – it’s a killer. Normality is eating out the heart of the Mother.

Now that I’ve finished the book, I might muster up some further utterances on the state of the world, as I see it. Might even do some podcasts from stone circles and clifftops, far beyond, with not a surveillance camera in sight. We shall see. One day at a time.

And bless you all for being you. Thanks for reading this.

Palden