Royal Cornwall

Going through the Grinder

The Judaean Desert, Palestine

I was in hospital yesterday, Monday. I’ve been ill for two weeks, and four days ago it got a lot worse. I was exhausted, in pain, fatigued and raked out. My stalwart helper Penny took me down to Penzance hospital on Sunday evening where, after the customary endurance test of waiting too long, a rather brilliant young doctor prescribed me antibiotics. Although I really dislike antibiotics, and have had to rebuild my biotic system over the last year since the last load, I knew I was in real danger, and it would be necessary to nuke it. Modern medicine is good in crises.

For me, it’s a matter of strength of spirit too. Recently I’ve been getting worn out, and my survival capacity has been flagging. In recent months I’ve been struggling somewhat with circumstances around me, and when the illness started I wasn’t strong. As the two weeks of illness progressed, I was getting exhausted. As it happened, Lynne was ill at her home too (much from overwork, and if there were a proper allowance for family and friend carers, such as £500 per month, down from the £1,500 that professional care would cost, it would make such a difference for her and for me).

In post-lockdown Britain we’ve gone back to the ‘no time’ syndrome – the basic psychosocial cause of the care crisis – which, for many people needing care and support, means we just have to sort ourselves out quite a lot, whether or not we actually can or should.

I am still shielding – being on immunosuppressants, I have to avoid infection. Some people don’t respect this, and one person who is most likely to have given me the infection is one of those. But, on the other hand, people who are more mindful of infection tend not to visit at all. Then, some people over-care and want to help too much, and this is awkward, when all I need is friendship – and if I need anything I shall say so. Some people chatter too much, and when they see me get tired they suddenly leave – when really I just need them to slow down, accept my different states of being, and simply be here with me, or even bring their knitting. Much of the time I don’t need fixing, healing or helping – I’d just like some company.

But as an astrologer, I know this is part of my deeper process too. Those of you who are astrologically literate will probably chuckle when you hear the major transit I’m on: Neptune opposition Saturn. It’s a test of spirit, a state of adversity, a loss of control, an uphill grind, and… you’re on your own with it, whether you like it or not. The fascinating thing is that, even though I was quite well set up in my life circumstances, in the end, and at the time I needed help, circumstances had it that I had to go through it alone. And here’s the rub: on a deep level, I manifested this. It’s me, my pattern. Realising this instead of complaining about it, I began to make a turn-around.

Hebron

Within a day I was in the hands of the young doctor in Penzance, probably Indian, who referred me to the Royal Cornwall hospital at Treliske, Truro, 45 miles away. Yesterday, when I told the doctors at Treliske (one Irish and one Russian) what he had prescribed for me, their eyebrows rose, and they said he’d done exactly the right thing. This is the other side of the Neptune transit: my guardian angels were with me.

Although it was hard (mostly involving waiting, again) at Treliske, some quite remarkable things happened. In hospitals, there are a lot of people in pain or an altered state, and to some extent they are helpless. Some of the conversations I had were remarkable, and I was able to bring some people something to think about, or a smile, or a shift of mood – and they to me. The nurses and doctors were amazing too. The Nigerian x-ray technician was surprised when I asked where in Nigeria he came from. “No one ever asks me that”, he said, pensively, “They just think, ‘Ah, he comes from Africa'”. He came from Kano in the north, so I greeted him in the Islamic way. Here’s this lovely black guy in Cornwall, an overwhelmingly white region, and his face lit up.

There was a guy in the A&E waiting room who was under guard of two police. They’d brought him in for a post-arrest injury check. The guy couldn’t handle it – he was a laddish guy, physically quite powerful, who solves every issue with a fag and a can of beer, or a flailing fist. He was really in difficulty – he couldn’t face himself and his situation. Others moved away but I didn’t. Eventually, after an outburst, I eyeballed him with my rather penetrating eyes and said, “I’m a smoker too”. He was surprised. I had him nailed. “And I’d like a smoke too. But it’s not going to happen.” He went quiet.

Then I said: “I sat in jail once and it was a real shock. But, d’you know what? It was a turning point in my life. It made me make promises to myself about how my future was going to be.” Pause. “And good luck, matey, and I really hope this is a turning point for you.” At that very moment a nurse came out, calling my name, and I hobbled off with her for a walk down a few endless corridors.

Later, one of the police asked me, “So what have you been doing in your life to be able to do that?”. I told him this guy was easy compared to some Israeli settlers. I also said that meditators like me would say this guy had a restless monkey-mind – he couldn’t face himself, couldn’t just sit. So I addressed his monkey-mind and the guy was stunned that this stranger was giving him attention and speaking to him sympathetically. It changes the agenda and shifts the monkey-mind into a different gear. “My wife says things like that – she does yoga”, said the policeman.

Tuwani, a settler-harassed village south of Hebron

So, I’ve been going through another chapter of soul-education. On the one side, life has been really hard, and my batteries were getting low, and I was in danger. On the other, I was being given some really meaningful interactions that lit me up. Particularly concerning one thing: I’m an inbuilt social activist and humanitarian and I’ve been really missing it. I miss the engagement, the interactions, the risks, the full-on challenges. But now I cannot mix with people easily and I cannot travel. I’ve been crying tears over this recently. Yet here I was being reminded that, although in recent years I’ve been focused on Palestine and the Tuareg in Mali, humanity is everywhere in need. In our society, hospitals, police and first-responder situations form the frontline. And from a soul-education viewpoint, the people involved, as victims or as rescuers, are at the deep end of human experience.

And here’s another rub: we all have our stories, but every one of us will visit this frontline personally, sooner or later. This place of vulnerability and dependency. How we deal with it very much affects our experience of it and what we gain from it as an evolving soul. Ultimately, it concerns dying. It concerns facing our stuff. It’s best to do this ahead of need. But if we don’t, when we’re faced with it, it’s good to roll with it and use the experience to clarify something deep and profound – life-secrets that we often don’t get until we’re really flat on our backs and helpless.

So today I am back home, still fatigued, still quite unwell, though something is turning round. I must return to Treliske next Monday for an assessment. The last two weeks have been really hard. You’ll get a sense of this in my next podcast, recorded from bed in the depths of this crisis a few days ago. My hope and intention is to keep blogging and podding until I no longer can. After that, it will depend either on your psychic capacities or on someone doing some blogging and podding for me.

Two old Bedouin meet a Palestinian Christian, Bethlehem

But there’s more life to be lived first. I’ve been reminded that I’m in the lap of the gods, and all plans and statements about the future are provisional. Lynne and I have both been floored and bedded, 100 miles from each other – a strange solidarity of such kindred souls. And Penny has been a star: driving to Truro twice in one day is not the greatest of pleasures. As for me, I seem to have got through another crunch – though there were times I began to wonder.

God bless the doctors and nurses: they’re overstretched and they handle it well, but once they get to your case they can be brilliant. I really liked the Irish doctor. Once he’d done his doctoring duties he voiced concerns over Brexit. I told him that, on behalf of my fellow countrypeople, I wished to apologise to him and his fellow Irishfolk for the way we have seriously let them down. Again. He took it with a smile.

One thing I found interesting was that, though they all practiced due diligence, the doctors and nurses did not seem anxious about Covid. In fact, as I was leaving in the late afternoon, I was asked, almost in passing, whether I’d had the jab or not, and the nurse who asked seemed quite unworried when I said I hadn’t.

As I say in my podcasts: thanks for being with – there’s more to come.

Love from me. Palden.

Joe Biden Syndrome

It’s all about the ins and outs of coming out into the world again.

Mayon Cliff Cairn

I haven’t written a blog recently. Some of you might be wondering what’s happening. Well, it’s classic for a cancer patient, and also it’s happening for some in connection with Covid. It’s all about the ins and outs of coming out into the world again.

I’ve been getting busy. Sometimes a bit too busy, and then I collapse. My brains are less befogged than last year and I’m less fatigued, and also there comes a point where I get fed up with resting and intense self-care. One problem is, people start thinking I’m ‘better’ – no, I’m more good and less bad.

Also I have lifelong hyper-proactive patterns and a dose of Joe Biden Syndrome – the knowledge that this is your last chance and you need to dance your last dance before you go. That’s quite a motivator. I can understand the struggles teenagers and young adults go through when they look at the world and think, OMG, what kind of a mess is this that I’m walking into?. Well, at the other end it goes, What kind of a mess am I leaving behind?

So my book is being edited and produced (hopefully for publication in September), and I’ve started doing podcasts, and I’m doing some online talks on astrology, prehistorics and geopolitics, and I’m getting a few more visitors… and thus far I’m managing to keep it together, but I have to work hard on training people to understand I’m not ‘up to speed’ and cannot match their timetables, lists, agendas, complexities and demands, and helping people solve their problems is not as easy as before. Though sometimes magic happens anyway. My memory is poor, my capacity to multitask is near-zero. After 4pm my energy droops a lot – and that’s when many people come online and want to talk.

On the plus side, the effect of a death sentence, chemo treatment and longterm isolation have given certain advantages. I’m seeing things differently, a level deeper. This can be uncomfortable for some, and I’m getting some crit for it. That’s a bit off-putting but it’s part of the game if you stick your head over the parapet.

It sounds terrible to say this but, in a way, I don’t care any more. This is a part of Joe Biden Syndrome. I don’t care so much about what people think or whether my output earns me brownie-points, fame or money, and this frees up loads of things. Though bizarrely, I’m more sensitive and permeable than ever before, and this part of me really cares.

The ‘council space’ at Bosigran Castle

I really appreciate insightful feedback, though when it is reactive, prejudicial and poorly thought through, it sometimes hurts. Often it’s powered by projected frustration. That’s difficult, because I’ve spent my life working to raise the level of people’s understanding, and this small matter seems to have gone backwards in recent years.

Some people might feel my writings can be harsh or scathing. They might be right. This might perhaps be an issue about understanding Aspies though (Greta Thunberg, Elon Musk and Bill Gates can be seen this way too – kinda suspect). But there’s one thing that’s important to me: I never insist on readers believing me or doing what I say. Or if I do, I don’t mean to. I add things to the pool for your consideration and I might be right or wrong, and seeing this and my own process might perhaps help you in your own process. That’s my approach.

So, in the end, I get over crit and am committed to avoiding the censorship of public judgement. Which might even be a worse censorship than the one people usually moan about.

I did write a blog a week ago about ‘weltschmerz‘ – the pain of the world. I got a bit stuck on it though, precisely over this crit. But I’ve kept it and might work it over again. I’ve moved on for now, giving more attention to the G7 summit that’s happening this weekend a few miles away from me, here in Cornwall.

This represents an interesting twist to the geopolitical consciousness work I’ve been doing over the years (with my friends – see below), usually from quite isolated and insulated places. Well, although distance is no object in the innerworlds, this time they’re coming to me, haha!

Actually, I think the real big guy who’s coming to the G7 is Mutti Merkel. One can disagree with things she’s done, but she has done really well – an examplary politician in a difficult political arena, and a sensible and well-informed hand on the tiller. Now she’s retiring, and that’s right too – times move on, and she knows it. Good luck to her. As Mikhael Gorbachev found, politicians and public figures are dispensible, and history eats them for breakfast.

Carn Euny iron age fogou

I’ve been facing some stuff. I found out that my back problem is likely to become a slow physical degeneration – an increasing incapacity to hold myself up. Myeloma slowly eats away at my bones and they’re already rather thinned out. I click my back into place about once every hour or two, and if a stranger hears it they find it a bit frightening! This degeneration issue has been a big thing to confront and accept. It confronts my get-over-it kind of character.

It’s a test of a key philosophy of mine: to look for the gift in all things. That’s what cancer and similar ailments are: a soul-driven test of our psycho-spiritual resilience and openness, a test of our capacity to actually do it, and not just to believe it, or to hope unproductively.

I’m still on chemo but it’s getting milder. The nurse came yesterday to take my bloods and shoot me up with Velcade and Dara, and I took Dex and two other things too, as pills. It’s weird, and Dex gives me stomach issues and a difficult steroid-driven feeling for two days, but the myeloma itself is in retreat and I’m ‘coming back’. The killer will either be toxicity from the stomach problems or bone degeneration – side-effects of myeloma (they vary for different people).

This brings up a further issue and challenge. I have decided to die by decision and when the time is right – or perhaps when my ‘angels’ choose to take me out. They have helped me so much through the cancer process and, in a way, I’m dependent on them, as well as on doctors and other humans, near and far.

I’ve recently made a re-commitment to a certain kind of work I’ve done in the past. It came to me a few weeks ago and gave a new sense of purpose I didn’t know was there. It’s a renewed contract with those ‘angels’ and I guess that, if I get things right, whatever that means, they’ll keep me going until it’s complete. A contract is a two-way agreement, and each party needs to know they have a reasonable chance of fulfilling it.

Hella Point at Tol Pedn Penwith (Gwennap Head)

This re-commitment feels right, but we’re feeling it out before starting. Besides, I need to get Shining Land published and a few other things done and clarified first. That’s my reality, and they have theirs too.

People sometimes ask me whether I believe in God. I say, “No”. Then I say, “In another way, Yes”. Muslims give Allah 99 names and they leave the last one open – good idea. Belief is simply a guideline, a choice of a way to construct our reality, a direction to head in. It’s more a matter of knowing, not believing in, ‘God’. Or, as my old soul-friend Sig Lonegren might say, gnowing. We’re challenged to really gnow. In order to grow, we need to gnow. This is what brings a turning in the deepest seat of consciousness. Believing takes you only a certain distance. And Goddess bless you Sig, because you’re facing these same end-of-life questions.

So that’s where things stand right now, and the story unfolds. I got up at 6am with a sudden urge to write a blog, and now it’s time for breakfast and to take my second dose of Dex. Was I hearing someone out there, in my circle of soul-relatives, wondering what was happening with old Paldywan? I’m still here. And there you are too. Gratitude for that.

Thanks for being with. Love from me. Palden.


Geopolitical innerwork: www.flyingsquad.org.uk
An article about consciousness work, 27 years old and even more relevan today: www.palden.co.uk/consciousness-work.html
Podcasts: www.palden.co.uk/podcasts.html

Dunnets and Dex

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

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

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

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

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

Bosigran Castle – another cliff sanctuary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

St Michael’s Mount

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

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

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

Love, Palden

What’s it all about?

A donkey in Bethlehem, Palestine – Jesustown.

What’s it all about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aloneness and Loneliness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Pilgrimage

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

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

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

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

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

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This is how you make love with a bronze age menhir

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love, Palden

Carry that Weight

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amazingly, life continues another day.

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

Love from me in Cornwall

Paldywan Kenobi

 

Willful Ignorance

Bethlehem, Palestine
The Church of the Nativity and the Omar Mosque, Bethlehem, Palestine.

Not many things make me angry, but some do. Working with conflict has, strangely, helped me come to peace over many things, mainly by forcing me to face facts.

And anger transforms. I’ve got a deeply smouldering Mars-in-Scorpio righteous kind of anger. I get steamed up over indifference, mindless groupthink-compliance and willful ignorance – sadly flourishing syndromes in our day. Mercifully, society’s covidisation process is seemingly beginning to change things.

Groupthink indifference gives rise to all sorts of situations. Here’s one. It’s the very British ‘perhaps you should…‘ hyper-suggestion syndrome. It appears helpful but actually it is obstructive, a discreet withholding strategy. I get roughly five requests for financial help every week, mainly from Asia and Africa but even from Britain. These sincere requests come from people who genuinely are hungry or destitute, right now, and feeling it. Many of them don’t deserve to be in this situation – they were caught on the hop.

In many countries the lockdown is weighing heavily on people lower down the pile who, in turn, battle with their self-esteem and dignity over asking for support. When you’re hungry, patience is not easy and the end of your life lurks before you like a stealthy ghost that’s coming to take you away.

I have cancer and sit in the needy and vulnerable group that everyone makes so much fuss about. And, in the default Western way, my friends, who do genuinely care for me, recommend me to pull back from helping people and to ‘look after number one’. Well, yes, I agree. This isn’t news to me!

But there’s a problem. If I step down, few step up to take over. The consequences are systemic. It means that a person like me unwittingly takes on a responsibility: the burden of consigning a person to possible death by saying ‘No’ to them. Because I’m busy ‘looking after number one’ and doing what most people do. The burden doesn’t go away by ignoring it.

And, a footnote. I’m not so hot at fixing money, but I do always try to assist a person magically, if I can. In many cases it’s a matter of helping them overcome fear, or fixing them a good contact, or helping them go through an inner change that unlocks solutions, or dropping them a quick tenner for some food. It’s necessary to do something – not just to turn away. I’m much better at magic solutions than fixing funds. But it does require sticking with people in spirit, praying for their souls, giving them full attention, standing in their flipflops. In some respects, such solidarity of the soul can be a greater boost than money.

Server syndrome has subtle ways of presenting itself. In Syria in 2013 I had one of my premonitions, waking up in the night with a feeling that a neighbouring village was in danger. I reported this and was told, “No chance – that village is safe – don’t worry“. I raised it again next evening, getting the same response. So I did my polite Englishman bit and went quiet. Next week, back in Jordan, I heard that around 100 people were killed in a regime attack on the village.

It was the biggest humanitarian failure of my life. Yes, I know, everyone will say, “It wasn’t your responsibility – don’t take it on yourself“. True. In a way.

But if I had made more noise and fuss, those people would probably be alive today. I landed up an inadvertent killer. We do this. We commit crimes against humanity through simple omission.

Even in the pursuit of good intention, things can fuck up. Here’s another issue that sets me smouldering. In Bethlehem, where I’ve spent a lot of time, the world’s Christian churches have been rescuing Palestinian Christians. I would not begrudge a Christian the right and need to move to USA, Sweden, Germany or Chile (their main destinations) and I completely understand their reasons for leaving. They want to get a life!

But this has consequences. Bethlehem is increasingly binary-polarised. A century ago it had three faiths and now it has two, Judaism and Islam, with a wall between them. This is fatal to basic peacebuilding. Bethlehem’s Muslims are lovely, hospitable people, and they don’t want the Christians to go either. The Muslims keep the Christmas Pilgrimage going, not only to swell Christians’ numbers and keep Bethlehem on the map, but also because Jesus is a prophet of Islam.

But in all their intended goodness in rescuing Christians, the churches are sabotaging Palestine and the multifaith, multi-ethnic nature of the Middle East. The Israelis exploit this as part of their longterm takeover strategy. Europeans and Americans aid and abet it, quietly supporting the Israelis partially out of WW2 guilt, partially to control the oil-soaked, geostrategic Middle East, partially to keep trouble and refugees at arm’s length, and partially to create a market for armaments.

I really think the Christian churches should look long and hard at their part in this. This said, I support and admire the brave and radical work of a small number of activist Christians – Italians, Irish, Basques and Greeks particularly – who go to Palestine to rebuild demolished houses, accompany women and children past aggressive settlers, minister to refugees, help on farms and run services for the needy.

This is not a blame game. It’s a serious collective issue that we all need to own up to and change. We avoid facing such moral dilemmas by ‘looking after number one’.

As it happens, I do reject most appeals for money support. It’s a fact of the game and the philanthropist’s nightmare – we have to say ‘No‘ 90% of the time. Why? Because money and energy are finite and everything always takes twice as much and twice as long as first reckoned. You can’t just scatter funding and support everywhichway. Aid is karmic and, to create positive outcomes, everything must be carefully engineered and monitored.

I learned this from Richard Branson in the early 1990s. I asked him for funding for the Hundredth Monkey Project. He wrote back, saying “Looks interesting. Do it. No time. Good luck“. Just like that. It said it all. And I did find a way forward, utilising an algorithm called going forward in faith.

But the main problem here is that giving, sharing and helping are done by insufficient people insufficiently. So it falls on those who have large dollops of the necessary empathic foolishness to carry the world’s load, sometimes at risk of criticism, jail, bullets or, at minimum, continual admonitions to ‘be sensible’.

The big paradox here is that the best way to pursue self-interest is to practice altruism. But for the energy to circulate, everyone must do it.

This is why we have extremes of wealth and poverty on our home planet. It’s societal, national and global, not just personal. It’s ‘one planet, different worlds’. In Britain, even benefits claimants are in the world’s wealthiest 30% (on GDP terms).

The power lies mainly with the affluent: a country like Britain needs to reduce its consumption by a whole 60% to achieve some sort of sustainability. But the drift of Covid events is suggesting that we relatively rich gits are likely to make this change more by necessity than by choice. Unwise, but that’s the way it goes here on Earth.

In the end, such a reduction of consumption will properly be achieved not by regulation and decree but by a psycho-emotional transformation across society. It’s a matter of the heart, and how to catalyse such a change has vexed progressives for centuries.

Reduction of the desperate need to consume. Reduction of the need to cushion our pain through avocados, ice creams and indifference. Discovery that a simpler life brings a smile to our faces and a dawning relief in our hearts. Revelation that things will work out okay.

To achieve this, we need to share. That’s what lies before us. The agenda concerns cooperation and sharing as a pragmatic response to evolving events.

Greetings and love from The Lookout.

Paldywan

NovaCovidity

Gurnard's Head, Cornwall
A sign at Gurnard’s Head in West Penwith, Cornwall.

I’m not in the habit of giving speeches at seven in the morning on a Sunday. But this happened this morning – I spoke at an online medical conference in India about the potential social and economic outcomes of NovaCovid19.

There was quite a lot of academic waffle, but it was interesting. There were dogs and children in the background and a nice lot of chaos too. I’m so glad that I am extra-academic in my work, not least because, in my experience, academics have a problem stretching beyond their current viewpoint. Right now we see a truimphal science riding high, but the problem is that science is in partial denial of the full scope of the issue.

To give an example, one of the speakers mentioned that susceptibility to NovaCovid is related particularly to air pollution – evidence of this is now emerging. Yes, true, and there’s more. It is related to internal pollution by antibiotics, vaccines, chlorine, poor diet and a modern cocktail of toxins. This is partially why Africa is not as badly hit as Europe and USA.

This narrowband approach I found when compiling my Possibilities 2050 report on the future – all experts and available reports to draw on avoided many of the big questions, particularly psycho-social issues, holding fast to to the data, to knowns, to what is held important now and in the past, not in the future – which is valuable but it is not everything. And then of course there are those with an agenda, seeking to reinforce convention or to impose ideologies or questionable perspectives, however redemptive, on others.

I was the only speaker to stay within my allocated eight-minute slot. That says something about an aged hippy thinker amongst a load of academics! A German scientist gave a long ramble about the use of the Hindu Agnihotra ritual in reducing susceptibility to Covid – yes, interesting, but it deserved two, not twelve minutes.

I was looking at the longer term effects of NovaCovid (which is what they call it in India, the pharmaceutical and Ayurvedic centre of the universe). The first is the reality shake-out that has hit us, loosening up people’s thoughts and feelings which, in the end, will improve psychosocial resilience – inasmuch as societal resistance to change and the urge to re-normalise is harmful and constraining. I mentioned how this is the first of possibly three or four crises that are likely to come in the next 15 or so years.

Covid is not primarily a health crisis – the primacy of the virus will fade. The core issue is ecology, economics and human society, and Covid is the catalyst. This is one of the evolving ecological crises of our time, caused primarily in this case by deforestation and human encroachment on nature. Future crises will similarly be catalysed by specific events and causes, but they will still mainly concern wider, deeper issues.

This is about the rehumanising of society, particularly in the West. This is the third crisis adding to the West’s decline in global influence – the first was around 1990, the second around 2008-9 and the third is now. The next is to come. Each time, the West declines by 10% and, relatively, The Rest rises. A key reason why the West is declining is that it has prioritised business over society and, in truth, continues doing so – as in Maggie Thatcher’s much-vaunted statement “There is no such thing as society”. Well, we have found otherwise in the last few months.

Longterm revival is more likely in Asia, Africa and eventually Latin America than in developed countries, since there is a global readjustment going on in which Western consumption levels, production and geopolitical weight are reluctantly in decline. This reluctance is mainly because of our vested interests and the addiction of us Westerners to our comforts and excess consumption. We need to cut consumption by over half in order to achieve sustainability. We are being overtaken on the outside by The Rest, the majority, who are more resolutely oriented toward change and who have less to protect and more to gain from change.

I see this amongst contacts in East Africa, who are now more advanced in such things as permaculture than we – they are beginning to lead the way and the West is running out of steam and initiative, no matter how wonderful and deserving of leadership we believe ourselves to be. This is important.

I was impressed by the degree to which Indian researchers were following international research, especially from Asia. But in Britain, when we talk about ‘scientific’ we don’t read others’ academic papers since we define ‘scientific evidence’ to be valuable only when it’s British, American or, at a push, European. But the people who know their stuff most are the Indians, Chinese, Koreans, Taiwanese and Singaporeans. It shows up in the evidence.

One of the key issues of the 2020s will be sovereign insolvency – state and systemic bankruptcy, especially in countries borrowing heavily to maintain economic levels through the pandemic. This insolvency will be bad for Brexit, bad for nationalism, bad for Great America, bad for Hindu nationalism, bad for Bolsonaro. This growing indebtedness and artificial money-creation is a fatal move, bringing up the next question.

This NovaCovid issue will define a new globalism, since increased national self-sufficiency and resilience, while apposite, only go so far, and then we’re back to global issues. Viruses, people, money and ecology know no boundaries, and many boundaries are obsolete anyway. When the world economy stutters, only something akin to a new Bretton Woods economic reform will allow nations truly to revive.

Yes, the World Bank, the IMF, financial hubs and particularly the shadow and offshore banking sectors. Many nations will go down, either to be taken over, break up and regionalise or to reconstitute in other ways. This is likely to happen by the early 2030s. Sovereign insolvency will be the agent of this change.

How much will things actually change after NovaCovid? Probably by 10% initially and 20% in 5-7 years. I think we’ll see a ‘VU’ recovery. That is, a quick initial bounce-back, then another fall owing to systemic structural weaknesses, followed by a slow and incomplete revival, though not to previous levels. Then other crises will follow to prune things more. Next one 2024?

Here I’m very aware of the symbolism of the bone marrow cancer I am experiencing. It’s a disease of the life-blood, the very life-giving essence that keeps me alive, and it leads to a rotting of the bones, which become shot through with cavities, weakening the bones and the structure of what holds me up. If I fall, my bony frame’s resilience to impacts will be the big question.

Which goes to show, yet again, it’s not what you do (since falling down will happen), it’s the way you do it. This is what’s happening in society – a collective bone marrow cancer. We don’t have a tumour – although top-level structures in society could be regarded as tumorous – we have a condition of the life-blood and a big immunity issue. Lack of immunity to the inevitable, to the passage of change and transformation.

We have a collective blood condition – not just economic but infusing the psychosocial and motivating structure of society. A lot of people are using NovaCovid to think again about their lives. A disadvantage of this will be that many of the best people for engineering change will leave the heart of the system to bring change to their personal lives, leaving behind people inside the system who are less able to bring about change – this was one of the causes of the fall of the Soviet system around 1990. The people who create the problem cannot resolve it.

Universal, comprehensive healthcare in those countries lacking it and increased global equality have been global priorities for years, but they have only now come properly into focus. However, the capacity of governements, investors and the system to invest properly in these is in question, owing to the probability of sovereign insolvency and economic downturn. This means a deeper social transformation if the care and health crisis that has been revealed by NovaCovid is to be acted upon.

We shall need to stop leaning on and looking to governments for leadership: we’ll need social consensus and collective self-discipline if top-down governance is going to weaken and if social healthcare and care in general are to grow. Back in the 1970s a bumper-sticker used to say, ‘If the people lead, the leaders will follow’. Well, now the people need to lead, but we are also very inexperienced in that, we lack solidarity, consensus and social steadfastness – what the Palestinians call sumud, the capacity to hang in there regardless.

This is all very well, but it means a voluntary sacrifice of individualism, exceptionalism and personal freedom. Many of my friends won’t like this bit – it constrains their oh so important personal freedom. Well, get over it, because it’s coming. This is why countries like Sweden and Palestine are doing quite well with the virus – they already have this mutualised societal self-discipline. They do it despite government, not because of it. It also means that volunteerism will be on the rise.

The core issue here concerns strengthening society and its psychosocial resilience. There’s more to go on this question. An initial majority urge to restore normality will obstruct progress until we lurch into the second Covid-related downturn, which is likely to be U-shaped, slower to sink and slower to rise. And the bounceback will rise only to about 80% of previous levels. Structural change is afoot too.

There’s going to be a humdinger of a social and political crisis in coming years. Existing political parties and leaderships are not sufficiently up to the job of good, effective governance. As people realise the full implications of the personal and community changes they are undergoing, a proportion will not wish to return to the good old days. They don’t want to race rats any more – they want to Get A Life. But there’s also the question of social disagreement – it does not work to look at the folk over there and say they’re wrong. They aren’t wrong, they are themselves, fully valid humans who are part of the social process. Blaming those over there for our situation is weak, weak, weak, to quote our dear old friend Tony Blair.

Much now depends on people at the top. But it depends greatly on the mass of the people. Especially in one area: social control, particularly digital. A battle is afoot: our lives will either be controlled by corporations like Amazon, governments and background powers, or we increase social freedoms. But into these social freedoms we must incorporate collective self-discipline.

In other words, people need to learn how to form a consensus incorporating everybody. Without this, goodbye democracy. Democracy isn’t the answer to everything and, to quote Churchill, it’s the least worst option of all those that have been tried, but two qualities of democracy do hold true: the people need to be able to express an opinion when we have one, and we need to be able to change our leaders when necessary. Authoritarian systems have a succession and duration problem and, in times of change, this is critical.

This is perhaps the biggest question of our time. Getting through the 21st Century and its challenges will be done either through increased top-down control or through collective consensus and social strengthening, and it looks at present as if the former is winning. But the matter is not yet decided. It gets decided in the late 2020s and the 2030s, and it’s big. And, guess what, some of the biggest potential contributors to this new phase, owing to their long-established collective experience in making something good out of a bad situation, are Palestinians. Followed by Africans, Iranians, Cubans, Vietnamese…

And now I’m going back to bed. I’m active only a few hours each day – my energy is lower than it was, and I’ve begun wondering how much willpower I have to continue holding myself up and looking after myself in this care-poor nation of ours. Here you can be awarded a grant for hiring home help but it is not delivered at the time when you actually need it. My house is slowly becoming a wreck and I need help with it. Is anyone in St Just or Penzance interested? I am rung weekly by social service types who give me lists of phone numbers to ring but say they cannot help. Ah, thanks.

This is one microscopic aspect of the decline of the West, and also of the decline of Paldywan Kenobi. I do hope my family will come visit me while I’m still alive. I’m dead glad I didn’t take the blood transplant route I mentioned a few months ago – this was intuitively inappropriate and it would have meant I’d have needed 3-6 months extra care. Which is not available. So it’s back to bed for me. Byee!!

Love from the ancient realm of Cornwall, Palden.