Generations

and doing time on Earth

Gurnard’s Head, West Penwith, Cornwall

Something is beginning to come together, and that’s a relief. I went through a big loss and crisis nearly three months ago, with my world disintegrating and hope plummeting, but I plugged on through it, taking it day by day. A blessing arose in that darkness that I didn’t see at the time. As my health and spirits sank it felt as if I was coming close to dying. As I mentioned in my last blog, we’re all partially dead, and at that time I went from (perhaps) 50% to (perhaps) 80% and started feeling pre-death shutting-down feelings. (Today I’m back around 50% again.)

There comes a point where you have to accept that you could be going. However, what I find is that, when I reach that place, everything changes. I go further toward dying, or my homoeostatic, self-healing capacities kick in, and a revival of some kind follows. You might have experienced this yourself in a breakdown or overwhelming crisis with death-like characteristics, even if it was mainly a psychospiritual wrenching out of the past and a squaring with the present.

Pordenack Point, with Wolf Rock lighthouse behind

The great thing about dying or near-death is that it clarifies and simplifies a lot. You see things more as they actually are, not what we tell ourselves they are. You’re less caught up in life’s ins and outs and see more clearly the underlying threads, meanings, connections and inevitabilities of things. And life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

So the rather deep and murky experience I had in February seems to have started me on a new chapter of exploration. I’ve decided to probe the inner experiences leading toward disincarnation, to see what I can do about sensing or perhaps experiencing some of the post-death stages – at least as they might apply to me. It strikes me that, if I am willing and give it attention, it’s possible to disentangle many of the processes that occur around death, and to work with them in a different order or a different way.

I’m finding hints of this already. It has something to do with making good use of the end-of-life phase, when much of the stuff and processing that comes up around death can be done. This phase can last from days to years, and everyone’s story is different. I realised that, with issues currently emerging in my life, if I don’t process them now, I’ll need to do so at death. There’s a kind of quiet urgency to it. So from this came the idea of taking some of the pressure off the moment of death – removing some of the unnecessary confusion from it.

Pordenack Point, Lands End, Cornwall

Several people have been contacting me as a result of things I’ve written and podcasted, and this is where something is coming together. The beginnings of a team is perhaps forming. I do wish to share as much as I can of the process with anyone who is interested. On the other hand, when I’m on my way out, I’ll probably need a small, tight team, with relatively little to-ing and fro-ing of people in the last stages.

It’s like childbirth: in the births I’ve been involved in, there is usually a need for about 5-6 people, no more, each of whom take different roles, either close-in and personal or managing the phone, the food or the people, with one person sitting quietly in the corner holding the energy, and I think the same applies in the case of dying. Besides, if anyone wants to see me, please do so while I’m alive, since there’s no point feeling sadness and loss once I go. And if you seek a true sharing, it’s best to come alone.

But there’s more to this. I’m finding that visitors can find it challenging stepping their energy down to where I’m at. They’re living with busy timetables and agendas while I am not, and their minds are racing compared to mine. My energies do quicken when people visit me, and I can come half-way, but I do need people to sensitise themselves and come half-way too, to connect on the level that we need, and which most people visiting me actually seek. It’s not just to do with talking, it’s do do with what Hindus would call ‘darshan’ – inner connection and communion. I don’t have a lot of time and energy to mess around, and there might not be a ‘next time’.

This vibrational issue will probably intensify around the time of my passing, and the people who will be welcome will be those who are sensitive and empathic enough to step themselves down sufficiently, vibrationally speaking. There’s a profound quietness involved. Without this, the ‘angelic connection’, the vortex, the wormhole we need to go through when we pass over, doesn’t function so well.

The ancient sage at Pordenack Point

But then, all of this might be the stuff of imagination. How and when we pop our clogs is not something that is controllable. It can happen to any of us tomorrow. Some of us have this truism facing us more hauntingly than others. We shall see how this all pans out when we get there. However, the experiences of the last few months, having shoved me through the grindstone, seem now to be yielding some fruits. And it’s springtime. And I’m still alive.

This end-of-life perspective has led to other things too. In my teens and twenties I chose a path of change, seeking, with so many yet so few others, to change the world. Well, it has taken a far longer and far more than I, or people like me, first thought. Even when being realistic, we still thought it would happen by the time of the Millennium. The purposes for which many of us were born have not been able fully to come about.

In my own case, I feel I was born not exactly to help bring about the big change in the world, but to lay tracks for what needs to happen after it. Much of my life purpose has been predicated on that, and I feel I haven’t done all that I might have done, though what I have done is good enough in the rather adverse circumstances of recent decades. With this in mind, I’m leaving quite a big archive of material on my website, just in case folks in my grandchildren’s generation, or even one or two of my own grandchildren, find it useful.

Pordenack Point

This issue, for me, has involved quite an internal struggle. And I’ve come to this…

Change takes seven generations. Several ancient cultures say this. That’s rather thought-provoking and difficult to face if you’re a change-making activist, but it’s true. Starting out in adult life as a revolutionary, this is what I’ve had to learn in order to make sense of the way my life and the world unfolded thereafter. Because it isn’t what I and we dreamt of. The world didn’t give peace a chance. However, there’s progress, even if, to us with our limited life-spans, it’s really slow. A lot of groundlaying has been done, and a lot of possibilities have been explored and trialled. Free energy is available, though it awaits its time.

If you count the enormous global change we’re a part of to have started moving in the 1960s, with my generation being the one that started shifting things, then our children’s generation, now mostly in their 30s and 40s, and their kids, now young or up to 25ish, make three generations. Those two younger generations have already shown signs of pushing the process further along than my generation could.

There are four generations to go. That takes us into the 22nd Century. If you come back once you’ve popped your clogs, you might perhaps see this completion in your next life or the one after that. Depending of course on how things go. We earthlings have, after all, chosen to go for a cliffhanger. Not even God Almighty knows what we humans are going to do next. It rests in our hands.

My feeling is that my grandchildren’s generation, the children of today, will shift things sufficiently to swing the overall tide of change in the world – especially in the so-called ‘developing’ or majority world, where young people currently form majorities. I sense that the crunch will come around the 2050s, when they are in mid-life and in power. (For more on this, see here.) That is, the world could well tilt from a net-damaging to a net-fixing mode around then, in de facto terms, but it will still take time.

Mayan star-watcher, Porthcurno

Yet each generation stands on the shoulders of those who came before, expressing its missed or repressed possibilities. My generation brought us the Summer of Love in 1967 but Britain’s unmentioned, more secret history tells a story of widespread free love, free-thinking and spiritual growth during WW2, amidst the pain and disaster of war. The biggest orgies of recent centuries took place in Hyde Park and similar places on VE day on 8th May 1945, not in 1967. This upwelling of energy got shut down and bottled up when the war ended, and my generation therefore needed to bring it out of hiding (and The Pill helped).

Similarly, the gender-loosening going on in Gen-X today stands on the shoulders of the gays and lesbians of former decades, and the abuses and deaths they went through, and the more communitaire values of many young people today are moving things toward a more human, just and caring kind of society that some in my generation dreamt of and strove to build, even if our rampant individualism rather got in the way.

In terms of longterm change, two things are going on here: one is long and slow, the stuff of centuries, and one is more intense, the stuff of decades. They’re confusingly intermixed. The long, slow one is all about becoming a planetary people, a sustainable and genuinely civilised global culture capable of taking its due place in the universe. That’ll take a while, since it involves healing the damage and trauma of millennia.

The shorter one is the crash-response period we must go through to stop the damage we’re causing and deal with its immediate effects, during this century and in the coming decades. This period of instability and change started in the 1960s and, after a delayed-action start, it’s beginning to gain momentum. Kind of. Hopefully. I think that, by the late 2020s, things could be moving much faster – we could actually be in for an avalanche of events and developments, for which Covid and Ukraine were but the foothills.

If we had started with necessary changes in the 1960s-70s, many of the problems we have now would be very different – we’d be further along the road toward sustainability, justice and peace, though it’s likely that we would not have progressed sufficiently to be ‘out of the woods’ by now. It takes time to fix planets and planetary races, and ultimately it has to be done at every level of reality and in all of the micro-worlds that make up this highly variegated planet we call Earth.

It’s the Chief, at Pordenack Point

A planet is a mass experience with a particular flavour. Our planet has quite strong gravity-fields, and we therefore have to have quite robust bodies to handle it. Like some kinds of beings of other worlds, we can operate both in the physical and the metaphysical realms, except here, rather psychotically, we separate it into ‘waking life’ and ‘sleep and dreams’, while on other worlds the process is more integrated and conscious. Problem is that the intricacy and immersive quality of life here, together with the strong gravitational fields, pull our thoughts and beliefs downwards and we lose the plot, forgetting the real reasons why we came, the main agenda of life. We’ve made cultural institutions of this and we build our belief systems around quite alienated, separative, distrusting, competitive, threatened assumptions. That’s really weird.

This getting lost business is a big one. We all do it. It is a key part of the planet Earth process. The big question is whether we are able and willing to return to balance, to centre, to sanity, to proportion and to peace, when we do get lost. If we’re willing, the challenge is then to make a habit of returning – however we do that – so that it becomes an inbuilt, default pattern. This becomes important when we face death because marshalling all our forces at that time can be quite an operation. In death, you tend to go the way you habituated yourself to during life. Though it’s also important when we confront a moment of truth or a reality-crunch at any time of life: if habituated to centring and collecting ourselves, we resort to it as a default behaviour. This is important because, when we have a crisis, our control over things drops dramatically. So if you’re able to surf with it, drawing on experience, you’re more likely to make progress in life and in dying – and afterwards. You become psychospiritually more flexible.

So really, the way we deal with our crises and crunch-points in life sets the patterns for the way we die. If avoidance or denial are our default patterns, this makes for a more difficult death, since there can often be far more ‘stuff’ to deal with when death comes. So acceptance, non-resistance, becomes important. You can neither block nor push the river. Even if we feel we can’t handle it, it’s happening anyway, so acceptance is vital.

Even in the new age movement, many people, so anxious to heal and make things better, and somehow thinking that death is some sort of failure, something wrong or perpetually avoidable, suffer big acceptance problems – and this syndrome, not unique to them, stretches across society.

Near Tol Pedn Penwith

So what are the fears that we each have, that cause us to turn away from dwelling on something that is going to come to every single one of us anyway? Dying is inevitable and unavoidable. The best preparation for death is a full life, lived as well as possible, and there is no standard recipe for it since the answers for each of us are innately programmed within us. So near, yet, sometimes, so far.

So if I seem to be harping on about death and dying, it’s because I feel our society doesn’t talk enough about it, and it’s part of my exploration. Being a pathological communicator, and long ago having tied my growth path to that of the world by taking a spiritual-and-political stand on things, I feel it’s worth going on a bit about it. Or perhaps I don’t have a lot else to do. Even so, I’m grateful for your reading this: it gives me a reason to be here!

Here’s a re-tweet that I keep re-learning over and over: it’s all okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

And… so involved in writing was I that I forgot my breakfast, and now it’s past lunchtime. That’s the kind of thing that happens on Earth, especially with me. Time to put the kettle on.

With love from me, Paldywan Kenobi.

Here’s my website: www.palden.co.uk
and here are my podcasts: www.palden.co.uk/podcasts.html
and if you like the simulacra in this blog: palden.co.uk/photos/simulacra.html
and if you want to find out where Pordenack Point is, try here.

And there you are, and bless you for that.

Loss and Gain

Life never stops throwing stuff at us. Well, until it does.

Paldywan drifting off in his seat

Here you can see photos of a man who is 60-70% dead. Though in another way, I’m very much alive. Let me explain.

In our society we’re addicted to defining death as clinical death, when the heart stops. But actually, dying is a gradual process where the psyche, you or me, leave the body we used for becoming incarnate on Earth and we move into another existence. Most people are only 10-20% dead – that is, mostly on an unconscious level, only a small part of them is in touch with the otherworld. This sense of connection might increase at special moments such as being present at a childbirth or at the death of another person – part of your psyche goes over to the other side with them. Especially if you let it. But when near the end of life, you edge gradually closer into dying, often in stages and down-steps. Social attitudes tend to make this a secret process for many people at the end of their lives – no one wants to talk about it.

The black patch on my beard is a staphilococcal infection – neither hospital nor holistic treatments have worked thus far

You can see it in my eyes – there’s more of a once-removed look in them than there used to be, if you knew me some years ago. It’s because part of me has already gone over. This is partially because I came close to dying two years ago and then came back, and partially because I’m more or less okay about dying, so I’m not blocking myself from slipping into that kind of space and awareness. I had a near-death experience at age 24, which made me more easygoing about dying – and having a Buddhist background helps too.

Since I contracted cancer in late 2019, life has been very much a day-to-day, uphill grind, an effort, where I have had to apply myself to the art of living much more decidedly and in a much more focused and mindful way. It can be wearing at times. In that context, when you’re growing tired of staying alive and you’re dying, whenever and however it comes, it is likely to be a relief. After all, for me I shall be going home, where there will be no more gravitation and bodily constraint to deal with.

For now I’m okay about being alive, for there is something quite remarkable about this end-of-life phase. There’s a certain clarity to it that comes from a simplification process in the psyche – my capacity to handle complexity, or even my interest in it, is reducing, and this simplifies things. Complexity, human guile, head-trips, hidden agendas and evasions become rather irrelevant. There’s a deep realism to it. For me, it’s a time of honesty with myself, in the knowledge that if I don’t process truths now, I’ll have to process them at death. I’ve been thrust into this state by cancer and relative disability, with a fair dose of isolation thrown in, and having had quite a life over the last seven decades, starting my life in a completely different and distant time of history, I have plenty to reflect on. There’s quite a lot of past and not a lot of future left for me, at least in a bodily sense.

Even now I’m having deep, earth-shaking learning experiences, and I talked about what’s been going on for me in a recent podcast, ‘When it all gets too much’. Growth never ends – it isn’t the domain only of the young and able. One tricky issue I’m facing at present is that I’ve been fucking up. Life is proving too complex, I get out of my depth and I’m not functioning with the same intensity as most people – life’s intricacies get to be a bit too much. So I fuck up. This complicates things and I find it difficult to deal with.

I seem to be managing though. I don’t have enough life left to get really tangled up with things as I used to, and complexity boggles me. One of the drugs I’ve been given, the steriod Dexamethasone, seems to have exaggerated my Aspergers tendencies – in one sense an incapacity to deal with human headtrips and manipulations, with complexity, and in another sense a rather inspired genius, creativity and deep seeing – the Aspie blessing that brought us the Theory of Relativity, the computer, the iPhone and the Tesla. Though in my case it concerns ancient sites, geopolitics, astrology and other weird subjects I’ve given my life to. I don’t have time to hang around resisting life as it presents itself and feeding my fears and neuroses. This isn’t an avoidance: it’s more to do with zeroing in on the really important, fundamental, underlying stuff, the tough, abiding truths, and leaving the complexities to sort themselves out by themselves.

The next bit I’ve thought about long and hard. I’m not seeking to make a public discussion about this because it concerns two real people who are fine souls and deserve good treatment. Also because, in writing this blog, I undertook to tell you my cancer-and-life story, and I cannot genuinely omit this development. This isn’t about taking sides or making judgements. It concerns something that can and indeed does sometimes happen for some cancer patients and for those involved closely with us.

The biggest challenge I’ve recently had to face was a big shock when it came – the sudden ending of my relationship with Lynne. She had good reasons – it had been really difficult for her when I tipped into cancer and went through big changes, including in my personality – and then I fucked up in January, really upsetting her, and suddenly it was all over. It all became too much for her, and suddenly it was over. For me, I could both empathise with her situation and pain and also feel my own loss and inner bleakness. The next month or so was a deep and dark struggle, with emotional and health issues merging into a churning journey that seemed to last a thousand years. Later blood tests revealed that a key cancer indicator (paraproteins in my blood) had gone up – not a good sign since they’d gone down over the last year and more. When I mentioned this emotional storm to the haematology specialist she said, “Oh, that won’t affect anything”. No, she’s wrong there. I’m amazed how a doctor can say such a thing and believe it.

Leaving a cancer patient is difficult. It can lead to public judgement and that’s not fair. So I honour Lynne for being brave at this time. It is not right for a person to feel tied to another, by force of circumstance. She has a life to live too, and perhaps she’s done her bit.

Around spring equinox I started rallying and reviving – the warrior in me kicked in. Falling helplessly into the great cosmic plughole isn’t really my style – well, not for long. I’m going to try to make my cancer readings go back down again by working on reintegrating myself and getting my life-energies pulsing better. This might or might not work. If it doesn’t work, the haematologist wants to change my cancer drugs to Lenalidomide (a new word for Thalidomide) which my mother happened to take for ‘morning sickness’ when I was inside her before birth – I was lucky not to be born severely disabled, and I’m nervous about taking this drug now since I anticipate that it could worsen my Aspergers symptoms yet more or it could affect my spirits, my core medicine-source.

I go up and down on different days, getting to grips with this strangely new chapter of life and letting myself feel and experience everything that comes up, so that these experiences may evaporate into the vastness of things that never were and things that are best forgotten. But it’s hard work. As always, I look for the gift I’m being given in life, and undoubtedly, through Lynne and her absence I’m being given a gift of truth and reality. My homoeopath prescribed me Pearl 1M – pearls are created as an outcome of irritation and ‘things going wrong’. Thanks, Helen.

I wish to thank Lynne from deeper than the bottom of my heart for all she has been and done with me. She looked after me and saved my life two years ago, and her kindness and love were exceptional, a life-changer. Not many people would be able to do that, nowadays. We’ve been such good companions, lovers and soulmates. I sincerely hope she too has benefited deeply from what I have offered her. My going down with cancer wasn’t part of our plan and we’d been together only three years by then – she didn’t really get enough of the me that I once was. I wish her well, bless her. She’s been such a shining soul in my life. Also she’s a very gifted astrologer, and I miss our discussions. I’ve been difficult for her and she has been really good to me, in the last two years. It’s funny and also tragic how life goes, and what we humans do to each other, even when we don’t really mean to. So now we are both ‘free’. I sincerely hope life works well for her and miss her enormously.

Now it is time to move on and make good use of the life that I have. It will take time to repair, yet I need to keep moving forward. It’s time to do the best with life as it presents itself, to uncover the TLC within my own heart and to let myself receive what support life will provide, as if being carried in the open palms of the Goddess. After all, our existence is all about two things that aren’t entirely connected: life as it factually presents itself and life as we choose to see, experience and respond to it – and in the latter lies our power. But it’s true also that it’s really strange encountering an experience such as this at my current stage of life.

One thing I’ve learned is that separation and aloneness do not mean I have to close my heart and block off, just because I find myself on my own or in an emotionally barren state. Love is something that resides in our hearts, in the core of our being – it generates its own warmth and inclusion without having to be dependent on the closeness or the absence of another soul. Though, this said, I must admit that I have to really work on that, and it really is nice being enwrapped in love! Talking to and caring just for myself isn’t quite the same. After all, even as a crippled cancer patient I still love looking after others to the extent I can.

And I still welcome hassle-free, relaxed visitors, and bring your knitting – I serve really good springwater tea.

Life is all about change. All that starts comes to an end. It really does. This is the nature of life on Earth. The Talking Heads once sang that heaven is a place where nothing ever happens, and there’s some truth in it but not a lot, since life goes on everywhere and the progress of the soul on its long evolutionary journey continues wherever we are. Different forms of existence offer different openings and opportunities. One difference between ‘heaven’ and Earth is that, in ‘heaven’, as in your dreams, you experience what your psyche is capable of tuning into, and it often manifests pretty quickly, while on Earth it’s a lot more complex (and we humans make it even more so) and there’s a much bigger gap between possibility and fulfilment. In heaven you can rebuild the bombed cities of Ukraine in an instant, but on Earth it will take decades and it will involve lots of complications and the future just won’t be the same as the past.

I’ve been thinking about my blogs and podcasts. There will come a point where I can’t continue, so the whole series might not conclude in the same neat way as a fiction story. So in the next few weeks I’m going to write and record a final blog and podcast in advance, for my son Tulki to release when the time comes. The funny thing for him is that I’ll be leaving next to nothing in terms of property and money, but he and his sisters will inherit a load of digital assets instead! The list of passwords and digital details I’m leaving is far longer than my will.

But there’s another question too, that I haven’t resolved. I hope and intend to communicate after I’m gone, at least with folks in my family and inner soul-circle, and I’m wondering who will actually have their receptors open and their antennae up when the time actually comes?

Lots of love from me. Paldywan Kenobi.

You’ll find my podcasts here and my website is here and my forthcoming book is here.

Close Encounter

Thing is, we aren’t actually alone in the universe

I seem to be doing podcasts at present, but a blog will come soon. This podcast is a wee bit different…

In November 1972 I had a close encounter. It was a life-changer for me. I was unprepared for it: like so many people, I hadn’t really thought about ETs up to that time.

The whole thing lasted something between 20 and 40 minutes, and it was witnessed also by my friend, and we checked to see whether we were seeing the same thing. We were. We discussed it fully.

But little did I know what was going on in a deeper part of consciousness. This is one of those things about close encounters: in a way, they’re so far from our normal worldly experience that they lodge in deeper consciousness and hide until such time as we are ready to retrieve and recall them and work with the consequences in our own lives. Because you do get consequences: living in this world is never the same again.

A stone near Land’s End, Cornwall

This is the transcript of a regression I did in 2000, 28 years later, with an ET researcher, Atasha Fyfe. We had done past life regression before, but this was the first time it concerned ETs. I decided to investigate the close encounter, and this is what came up.

If I were trying to concoct a story like this, I wouldn’t manage it – it stretches far further than I could go. I’m not good at fiction anyway. There was a second regression in which I explored my relationship with the Council of Nine and the way I was constructed as a soul – and that will follow one day.

With the sound of the stream in the woods, down the field on our farm.

I hope you find this podcast interesting.

With love, Palden.

Listen or download it on my site

or listen on Spotify

and it’s also available on Google and Apple Podcasts.

Having Cancer 2

My latest podcast

Still at it

About having cancer. All about keeping spirits up and dealing with adversity, about working with both modern pharma and holistic treatments and some thoughts on how it all ends up – actually, you die (so it helps to start preparing).

It’s for anyone with cancer or a similarly soul-rocking ailment, and for interested carers or anyone who knows a cancer patient.

I’m no expert or doctor but I do have cancer, I go through the  grinder, I get swamped in fears and tears, and I try to do my best with it all. So this is from me to you, if it’s useful to you.

It’s the second of two, but you don’t have to hear the first one first. When I finished editing this and put the podcast to bed, I just burst out crying. You might hear my heart and soul in this podcast. It means a lot to me and might be one of my best.

Not finished yet though! There’s more to come.

It’s 30 mins long, and you can hear it on Spotify, or on Apple or Google Podcasts

or if you don’t like visiting sites like those, it’s on my website at palden.co.uk/podcasts.html

With love, Palden.

Times of Intensity

…and not the last.

Hebron, Palestine, but it could be anywhere

I grew up in what in the 1960s was a violent and polarised city, Liverpool, learning in my teens that, in any conflict, it always, always takes two to tango – even when one side is the victim and another the oppressor. This can be a difficult issue to see and to own, whether or not one is involved in a conflict, and especially when people suffer horribly. There’s a natural tendency to take sides – and taking sides is important because issues and principles are involved in situations like Ukraine today, or in any conflict, big or small.

It is possible to take sides, or to stand up for one’s own interests, while also acknowledging that it takes two to tango. This is a key element in war strategy too: right now it is not good strategy for Russia and NATO to provoke each other too far, since they risk starting an action-reaction escalation reaching levels that fundamentally self-harm each side and everyone.

This has a restraining influence – deterrence. It can happen in the personal sphere too, in our own arguments, even with ourselves. It is a key element in peacemaking: both sides are in some way responsible – even if the balance is 80-20 or 70-30. We can support one side for entirely valid reasons, while ‘tango’ holds true nonetheless. War is filled with paradoxes.

There’s an ugly reality getting acted out in Ukraine, the ‘theatre of war’ for today: to quote Bertrand Russell, ‘War is not about who is right, it’s about who is left‘. This looks likely to prove true in coming months or years. So a miracle solution is needed here.

Talking of viruses, have you noticed how, when one war (such as Afghanistan) comes to an end, another seemingly unconnected war (such as Ukraine) can quickly start up? The issue here is that we have allowed the war virus to be firmly rooted in the human psyche, such that it becomes default behaviour. When the host population is worn out, the virus hops to another vulnerable population, until we change the default pattern.

So, immunologically, by addressing the factors that feed the war virus and the vectors of its transmission, and giving extra support to ‘medical interventions’ such as peacebuilding, diplomacy, de-traumatisation and citizen contact across the lines over a period of time, so that a new immunity can be built up. But to do this the media need to focus on peacemaking, not the excitement of conflict, and at least half of negotiators and peacemakers should be women, and the voices of the young should be heard.

Foghorns at Pendeen Watch, Cornwall

One of the most dangerous things in our time is polarisation, during a time when, to address the main issues in the world, cooperation is more necessary now than ever – globally and, despite Brexit, Europe-wide. Social consensus, cooperation and human care are so much needed – this was demonstrated during the Covid lockdowns. Environmental, climatic, population, social and justice issues will make little progress without care, pluralism and inclusivity. This means consensus not only amongst our lot, but also with that lot over there – even with banksters, extremists and other demons.

There’s a further thing: when people and nations are getting on with explosions and atrocities, they are not getting on with the essential questions that, in the end, harm us all. They are blasting out the subtle, tender, human aspects of life with noise and violence. War is a tragic diversion, a terrible habit of humanity that is used unconsciously, and by elites, as a way of evading the big questions. It’s ingrained in all of us.

This applies in our personal relationships: each party in an argument might consider the other wrong or flawed, feeling justified in standing up for itself, yet both parties together fail to fulfil the core purpose of their relationship unless their argument progresses toward resolution. This doesn’t mean everything has to be peaceful and smoothed over: differences of position need sorting out at an earlier stage, before they get complex and damaging, in the knowledge that fighting charges a higher price to both parties than reconciliation. Fighting rarely sorts out the fundamental causes of conflict, instead laying down further historic pain and trauma for future eruption and processing. It goes on and on.

Teenagers get used to it quickly

This said, I honour, respect and support the choice of Ukrainians to resist, now that we are where we are. I would too, in their situation. I’ve spent years working with Palestinians, and I feel their resistance is justified, not because I believe Israelis are wrong but because, ultimately, what the Israeli state has been doing is not right for Palestinians, Israelis or anyone. If I were in Ukraine, I’d be in the resistance – in my case, doing furtive and dangerous things in the background (I have Mars in Scorpio).

Would you keep your head down, be a refugee or join the resistance? It’s quite important to be honest with ourselves about questions like this, at this time.

One strange thing about war situations is this: it gives people a tremendous, if tragic, opportunity to discover their true gifts. It’s a free-for-all in many different senses, and some of the acts of humanity I’ve seen in conflict situations are unforgettable. And people quickly find out what they’re really good at.

Polarisation, a virus of the psyche, has no simple vaccination. It oversimplifies things when a conflict escalates and breaks out, even if it is but a conflict of ideas or values. Conflicts are a complex calculus, often going way back into histories and threads that otherwise have been forgotten. When they break out, the rules change drastically and damage and pain escalate horrendously as a result. Referring to the past to justify one’s position becomes less and less relevant because, in war, the past few days’ damaging events can override them.

In the end, apart from fighting to exhaustion, the only way to resolve a conflict is to focus on the present and future needs of all concerned parties, because that’s what’s being forged and the outcome is longterm or permanent. To some extent, everyone is right and everyone is wrong, and this needs recognising. If we cannot establish these as global norms, we will not really resolve the bigger issues we face in the 21st Century. It’s that simple.

Ideas and sentiments replicate virally and, although some folk, and some countries like Britain, see themselves as scions of freedom, they can also be obedient carriers and sufferers of the polarisation virus without really knowing or owning up to it. The same applies to people who buy into conventional public groupthink, which settles so easily around simple catchphrases, formulae, heroes or villains, denying wider perspectives, tending to see things one-sidedly and seeking to pre-decide issues. Driven by an urge for comfort in numbers, individuals can suspend consideration, subscribing instead to verified and authorised rationales made official by the loudest pundits, or by convention, or by authorities or corporates with the power to persuade or control, both in the foreground or the background.

When social control mechanisms rear their heads, as we’ve seen in recent years, we tend to blame governments, corporations, Big Brother, Reptilians, foreigners or whatever, yet thereby we confirm our own infection by the virus, helping to replicate it. People accused of wrongs are too easily demonised, stripping them of humanity, so that others can feel they’re right. Poor thinking, often befogged by reverberating public sentiment, is so easily captured and trained, and our media and social media excel in it.

The virus arises from a kind of separation trauma deep in the heart of humanity. It emerged as competitiveness, warlordism, stratified social power, a sense that others are a threat and that nature is there for conquest, accompanied by an increasingly cultish elevation of self-interest. In Britain I think it took hold around 1200 BCE, at the end of the megalithic era. Different people are differently affected by the polarisation and groupthink, and to step outside their thralldom can be quite traumatic because all our beliefs, our world, can disintegrate – which is why many people don’t do it. Best done in youth, though it’s a struggle then, too.

Bedouin women in Sinai, Egypt

In this respect, I recommend spending time outside the developed world, not as a tourist but in the villages and streets, and not just for a week, and running on economy – things look and feel very different. Learn how to sleep on the ground, cook with one pan on a fire or how to accept the generosity of quite poor people.

I’m writing all this not only as a geopolitics and history buff, but because I’m personally in a deep and moving conflict of my own in my life right now, and the challenge is to remember all the above in my dealings. This is difficult – stepping outside myself sufficiently to be as objective and fair as possible, yet standing up for and successfully communicating my own position and terms at the same time. It’s a matter of feeling my pain, guilt and fear while, as much as possible, not being dominated by them. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t, and when I fail it adds to the hurt I cause.

It’s strange too since, as a cancer patient, I have to be more attentive to my needs and interests than ever before, and I’m in new territory. It presents a dilemma. I need others’ support like never before, though I’m not up for playing the victim cancer sufferer either – an attitude that has a downward bearing on my health and spirits. I have no right to expect others to make sacrifices for me, only a hope. I’m at risk of getting mashed even by others’ often quite normal, acceptable actions and ways, bless them, and particularly by their non-actions or omissions. Yet, up to the right level at least, I do need my minimum needs met, without lapsing into a stuck constellation of relationships where I’m asking favours and demanding support of a time-pressed circle of rushed helpers, neighbours, friends and family, most of whom are doing their very best, and for whose inputs I’m genuinely grateful.

Yet in our society helping others is seen as a choice, carried out when we have time or inclination, when in many societies it is a natural obligation and priority. In war, it’s all hands on deck or get out of the way. Indeed, it’s likely to be all hands on deck in coming decades, though not necessarily because of war. Evolving a balance between freedom and obligation is one of the great tasks of coming decades: the balance of private preference and wider benefit, local and global, and human needs and ecosystem priorities. And it has to work, otherwise it’s hard times.

So in my heart, the war in Ukraine (also in Sahel and Palestine) and the difficult personal conflict I am in, are digging over similar ground. It’s literally heart-rending. In moments of despair, part of me even wants to go to Ukraine, not to fight, but to weigh in on making people happier and doing some backchannel work – I have the experience, and an old cripple on sticks like me is quite good cover when hobbling through checkpoints and handling scrapes. I’m likely to die before too long anyway, which means that, though I do have fear, it doesn’t impact quite the same as it usually would – and you gotta go somehow.

But I don’t have it in me to go, really, physically and financially. My time for that is past, and sometimes I go through pangs about that. So, I’m doing what I can from here, re-engaging in a new level of psychic work, from my eyrie here on the farm, and from occasional hilltops and headlands in West Penwith. I find the Kremlin is psychically not as well guarded as the White House or even Number Ten.

This confluence of personal feeling and war in Ukraine is interesting because, while currently experiencing my own pain and loss patterns, my geopolitical inner efforts are able to come from a more deep and feelingful place, and both are somehow inwardly connected. Many Ukrainians, like cancer patients, have death hovering close to them, and there’s a deep vulnerability and a bizarre openness to that. This is what part of me has deeply sought, in my involvement in conflicts in the past – a sensitivity and emotional permeability that makes me more human, and it comes up in risky, edgy situations.

I’ve sought this in loving and caring relationships too, only to come up against my own limitations, pain and switched-downness. I’ve made some progress, but in truth I can’t say I’ve resolved the matter at all. I look and sound pretty sussed out, but really, I’m both happy and unhappy with the way I’ve handled life and its ins and outs. I haven’t fitted easily into the world. It’s good to be honest about that because, when we come to dying, the whole story of our lives show themselves in a new and different way, and it’s better facing awkward truths beforehand. It’s not self-pity, it’s straight old reality-as-it-is being revealed, and ultimately that’s relieving, helping with karmic untangling.

And life goes on. In health I am kinda okay, with room for improvement and a few problem issues that trouble me, but I’ll get there. In spirits I am soldiering on and holding up, and I’ve been having some lovely adventures out in nature – and I keep looking for the gift in situations. Astrologically I’m on a few big Saturn transits, so whaddya expect?

Springtime is coming here in Cornwall, and some bonny days have appeared since newmoon, and the plants are yawning open, and the geese will probably head north soon, and the tweety birds are chomping birdseed and fatballs at a rate of knots, and it’s no longer dark when I wake up, and Saturday was the first day I didn’t light my woodstove in the morning. And I enjoy blueberry porage for breakfast.

Amidst the hurricane of flying crap happening now, above all hold steady – and I shall too. This is the second of quite a few big crises in the 2020s, and it’s best to forget ‘normal’ and to develop new ways to find our ground. Here’s a re-tweet: I sense that the future is having an increasingly causative effect on the present – the past is getting wiped away faster than we would like. We’re getting sucked forward into successive cliffhanger situations where we, as humans, are obliged to make bottom-line decisions – kinda last-chance saloon stuff. Perhaps this applies to my personal affairs too, or perhaps to yours. Such brinkmanship is a way to prepare us for change, because guaranteeing the future involves making a quantum leap where absolutely everything is up for review and change, and we’re all involved. It’s hair-raising and gives no security, and it’s what we’re being confronted with now, in the 2020s.

Love from me, down’ere in Cornwall. Palden.

My podcasts are at www.palden.co.uk/podcasts.html
And all my stuff can be found here: www.palden.co.uk

Having Cancer

Here’s my latest podcast

I’ve got cancer and it has me.

It’s full-on and it has been a big life-changer. I have myeloma or bone marrow cancer. I’ve had it over two years and am through the worst stage, I hope, but it’s still hard work.

Every now and then I still get quite ill, not from the cancer but from the secondary issues in my spine and stomach and with infections. You can’t get rid of myeloma – you can only manage it. I probably have a few years left. I’m 71.

So this podcast is for anyone who has cancer or who is involved with someone who has it. It’s about some of the real aspects of keeping your spirits up – the core issue whether you seek to stay alive or to have a good dying process. If you’re feeling kinda okay inside, your whole process will work better, or you’ll handle it better. Failing all else, you’ll be a bit happier.

We have to come to terms with dying, come to peace about it, and about the life we have had, and all its ups and downs. So this is about all that.

Recorded during a howling gale down’ere in Cornwall, Storm Eunice, in late February 2022. The waves are at Portheras Cove in West Penwith, Cornwall, near where I live.

24 mins. One of two podcasts on cancer.

With love, Palden.

Get it on Spotify
Or on Apple Podcasts
Or on Google Podcasts
Or on Palden’s website

Ancestral Passages

Age doesn’t mean the learning stops

Carn Lês Boel

So what happens next? This question hovers around me now. It’s not unique to me: even though I’m spending most of my time alone and rather disconnected from society, the whole world is in a similar state and I’m very tuned into it. But the fascinating thing about living with cancer, at least in my case, is that, while death is a prospect facing all of us and it can come at any moment, it comes closer when you have cancer. So, in the last two months or so, I’ve been wondering whether I’ll get to the end of 2022 or whether I have longer.

This was prompted by a new health crisis that started in late October, prompted not by the cancer itself but by its side-effects and the vulnerabilities it and cancer treatments create. In November and December, at times I felt I was losing strength and spirit, deeply worn out. My spirits hold up well if I’m feeling reasonably clear inside, but if my psyche is befogged by illness I labour through a tiredness of spirit that makes me wonder how much longer I can carry on. It was becoming a question of whether to fight for life or hand myself over.

Well, I’ll be wherever is best and wherever I’m most needed. The time and manner of our passing is not in our gift to control. Even so, many of the more awakened souls I know who are currently leaving Earth seem mostly not to have a long illness and a slow decline – their angels pull them out with a quick heart attack or an accident, or they die in their sleep or their armchair and, whoosh, they’re gone.

I’ve had a number of near-death experiences and I know that, when I ‘let go and let God‘, I have, thus far, quite quickly bounced back. It’s not a genuine let-go to do this in order to bounce back, because that’s all about setting conditions, and that doesn’t work with death. The releasing needs to be wholehearted and complete. You just gotta be willing to pass through that door. This permits something else to take over. It takes things deeper onto a soul or a ‘causal’ level, which then can then override the rules and norms of body and psyche, and decisions are made that lie far beyond what we humans are aware of. But, us humans, we struggle for control. We’re addicted to life and, in the modern West, we’ve even persuaded ourselves that being alive in a body is the only reality there is – so we have a bias against dying.

The problem with this is, it’s not like that. And we miss a trick. There’s more to life than this.

A frosty field below the farm, today, at dawn on a magical fullmoon morning

The releasing I went through in late December was in no way dramatic or quick. I just got fed up with holding myself up and keeping going. So I stopped worrying about it and got on with life as it then was – feeling like a 95-year old crock on his last legs. Yet gradually, things picked up and, in early January, I began to see glimmers of a future. Hope tends to keep me going, and somehow my hope had faded. But here, amongst the ashes, something was germinating. Not a roadmap or a sense of how long I have left, but more a sense that there’s something more to do before I go. There’s reason to carry on. As far as I can tell.

It’s funny how the world magically responds to an inner change like this. In the preceding months, Lynne and I had not been able to see each other much – me, because of my immobility and state of ongoing lockdown, and she because of overwork and life-struggles, followed by two months wiped out with Longcovid. She really went through it, last year. By November, both of us were flat out in bed with fatigue and illness, a hundred miles apart. Messaging and phone contact got difficult. But eventually she started reviving and her reappearance was a bit like what it must be like for my eldest daughter Maya and her family, who live north of the polar circle in Swedish Lappland, when the sun first comes up in mid-January after a month or so of darkness. Suddenly life lit up and started looking very different.

That wasn’t all. Maya contacted me to say she was coming over from Sweden – we haven’t seen each other for about six years. Despite Covid restrictions and plane cancellations, and with the help of Tulki, my son, who ferreted out solutions, met her at Heathrow and brought her down here, she came to visit. Wierdly, here in cold, midwinter Britain, the temperature was 20-30 degrees warmer than in Lappland, and on one day we even had sunshine!

On that day we did a clifftop walk from Porthgwarra to Carn Lês Boel, a dramatic headland looking out over the Atlantic, and my favourite pilgrimage place in West Penwith. It’s where, in spirit at least, I’ll probably dance my last dance. I had anticipations about getting back from the Carn to Porthgwarra, nearly two miles, but my spirits were up and antigravity drives were humming, and my legs and sticks teleported me back. Plus the old mountaineer’s trick of avoiding thinking about how far there is yet to go. And the company.

Maya, Tulki and I had some close and meaningful sharings, huddled around the stove while it rained and blew dismally outside. It lifted up my heart, and I think and hope it was the same for them too. Though I have brought together hundreds of people into groups, communities and tribes, I’ve never done well with family and often I’ve been judged as the one at fault in relationships, so this was a healing on a very deep level – or the beginning of one. It felt ancestral as well: I grew up in a dysfunctional nuclear family that was an offshoot of a wider family that had become alienated and atomised in the earlier 20th Century, and it felt to me like this was a cross-generational turning of the tide, a healing of ancestral hurts. Maya’s and Tulki’s generation feel to me as if they’ll bring family back together in a new way.

It’s a new kind of family too: my four grown up ‘children’ are born of three different mothers. In case you think I’m some sort of toxic pervert male, two of those mothers had also had children by multiple fathers, and Lynne has four ‘kids’ by three fathers! So either they are toxic property too, or there’s something new and different going on here. Something transformative and tribal. They and their peers are the founders of the new families, communities and clans that will constitute an answer for the future. As I often say, we’ll only get the the other end of the 21st Century by working together – something my generation made some progress with, but changing the course of human history takes more time than we’d like.

I mention these two events because, late in 2021, I felt there was nothing much to hope for or look forward to. I was feeling leaden, redundant and uncreative – hence that it has been a month since my last blog. Surreptitiously, things changed. Also, I realised that there’s one more writing project to do, which partially I dread (since I’ve sat at so many typewriters and computers for so long that it’s no thrill at all), and partially it gives me a feeling of relief and release, to think of finally getting it out. The added bit is that, at the end of life, I don’t care too much about what others will think – it’s quite liberating for a long-distance author, that. Whether I’ll manage to actually do it, I do not know. I need to write down a good smattering of my inner experiences and extraterrestrial contacts – a story I haven’t told. For the record. And, well, it’s not the first time I’ve broken a cultural taboo or been shat upon for doing it.

As a Virgo I’m rather attached to making a contribution and being useful. Being on Earth hasn’t been a great pleasure, even though I’ve had loads of amazing experiences. It has been a bit like a duty and a mission, a bit like holding your breath underwater while trying to get to the other end of the pool – and it’s further than you thought. So I’ve always had a feeling that, to justify continuing, I must contribute something, to make it worth it. Lots of people have given me lectures about getting over this pathology and about being more realistic and responsible. But from another viewpoint, though such a view conforms to the comfortable groupthink-consensus of our majoritarian society, that’s rather a complacent position. We’re all getting on with our own lives while the world is going down. In the end it’s the reason why we have dictators, hunger, injustice and environmental destruction – we allow it. We’re too busy to worry about it. For some reason, throughout life I’ve felt a strange need to do something about this, driven by Edmund Burke’s enduring statement: for the triumph of evil it is necessary only that good people do nothing. This presents dilemmas that hit anyone with a conscience.

Six months ago I learned that one factor affecting many or even all cancer patients is that we have spent our lives tuned in to the needs and emotions of others. Cancer comes to pull us back to ourselves. This is true: I’ve had to draw new boundaries and look after myself like never before. But the funny thing is, my soul is still oriented toward service, even as a crippled old cancer-freak. Problem is, this service has benefited others but not my close family. My mother was like this too: at her funeral she was much loved and honoured for all she had done in public, but for me and my brother, while she did her best in a 1940s-50s way, she wasn’t a good mother. If I was hungry she would tell me to go away and play because it wasn’t teatime yet. Thanks. Looking back, I wonder whether she, like me, had Asperger’s Syndrome, with its attendant relationship issues. She channelled her feelings and love into public service, and so do I. To the cost of some and the benefit of others.

Lynne is admirable in this regard. She just about manages to bridge the contradictions here. I’m a very loving man, and I do try, but I don’t and can’t do many of the things in relationship that most ‘neurotypical’ people apparently do. I don’t see and judge life in the same way. I’m programmed up differently, very much in my own bubble-world, and while I’m locked away on a remote farm having cancer treatment, she’s out there in the world, doing battle with its swirling challenges and very much experiencing the ‘too busy’ syndrome that so much plagues our society. As a counsellor and life-wisdom teacher she needs to maintain inner clarity, but mortgage-paying and modernity’s complex pressures pull the other way, and this is a struggle even for the best of souls.

That’s where I was at two decades ago and, bizarrely, as a pensioner and cancer patient, for the first time I have a consistent though modest income, and am more or less released from all that grind. Well, sort of – I’m doing a different kind of grind instead. So Lynne and I have to bridge that wide gap at present, and she also has to deal with the weird Aspie in me, and the possibility that I might pop my clogs any day, and she deserves a medal for all that. All I can give her is delightful chocolate-and rose flavoured tea lovingly brewed in springwater from up the hill – well, I have some pleasant quirks.

Lynne and Maya have made me aware how, through relationships and family, I have unconsciously tried to bridge a gaping chasm between two parts of myself – the mad-professor hermit and the former philosopher-king with no kingdom. I have not succeeded. The only consolation is that there have been benefits in other ways. Nelson Mandela had this problem: a conflict between his allegiance to his family and to his people that he never quite resolved. But in the end it was better for everyone that he did what he did, and perhaps he was supporting his great-grandchildren better than his own children. And life takes many strange turns.

I don’t know how long I shall live. Every estimate of how I shall be tomorrow, in a month’s time or next year is provisional and guesswork. Should I buy a new winter coat or put the money into financing my funeral? Well, there’s only one answer: live day to day, do my best and find out. And be grateful for small things.

The big event yesterday was a hobble down the old trackway into the valley, turning right into the field, balancing my way through a muddy, tractor-ripped gateway and down to where Paget, Andrew and Jon were digging out the old pool by the woods in the low afternoon sun. This will create a revived habitat for pond and stream plants, geese and waders, dragonflies and allsorts. It was great to see, even if at this stage it’s mainly mud and unfinished fencing to keep the cattle out. But then, it’s January, and the right time for it. Capricorn: a time for carrying on regardless and getting on with the digging. And the tax returns. And the daily grind. But underneath, hidden away, something is moving, taking shape.

The corvids are massing and krarking around in the clear, cold sky above the farm, ready for bedding down in the trees down below. They’ve been out and about around Penwith and they gather together to sleep in the woods. The geese will come in soon, settling on the lake shores down the valley. I think it’s time to finish this blog and post it. Time to light the stove and get some dinner on. Thank you to Teri in Australia for prompting me to write this. And bless you all for being you.

Love, Paldywan Kenobi.

Down’ere in Cornwall, right at the far end
www.palden.co.uk

St Michael’s Mount, as seen from the iron age courtyard house on the hill on our farm – probably eight miles away

Christ Mass in Palestine

From a blog I wrote in 2011

Aisha and I went into Bethlehem. The town was crowded, mostly with Palestinians, Christian and Muslim, who come from around the West Bank, Gaza and in Israel, but also with a much larger number of foreigners than usual. Eventually 100,000 visitors hit Bethlehem by Christmas Eve, the largest turnout for at least a decade.

We went to the Nativity Church but it was packed with visitors. There are two halves to the church, Orthodox and Catholic, and the place was crowded mainly with Italians, flashing their cameras and forming long queues to visit the shrines. We didn’t stay long. I don’t think Jesus would have done so either – though I can’t really speak for him. I reflected on the strange fact that, whenever I come to this church, I seem to be brought here by Muslims.

Aisha, a British Muslim, had to go home to Ramallah where she lived, so we had hummus and falafel at a friend’s cafe and then trogged up through the Old Town to Bab-al-Sqaq where she caught the 21 bus to Jerusalem. She was trying out this route because, though it requires passing through two major checkpoints near Bethlehem and Ramallah, it’s shorter and cheaper than going along the circuitous Palestinian main route around Jerusalem, staying within the West Bank.

I walked back as darkness fell toward Manger Square, taking photos and chatting with people. The square was heaving by now, with people streaming in from all directions. I spent much of the time with an enterprising young coffee seller, Mahmoud, who places his big charcoal-fired coffee pot on a concrete pedestal and does a roaring trade, selling coffee for a shekel (20p). We have an ongoing dialogue, and he likes his pet Englishman – except that I don’t support Real Madrid, but no one is perfect. I somehow doubt that Jesus supports Real Madrid either, or Barcelona for that matter, and told him so. “Ah, but Mohammed the Prophet supports Madrid!”, he joked.

Indonesian evangelism, no less

Soon a weird and very loud concert cranked up, by an Indonesian Christian rock band. The concert was sponsored by an Indonesian evangelical foundation. I heard the best rendering of the Lord’s Prayer that I have ever heard, quite tastefully done. One of them gave a lovely rap about harmony between Christians and Muslims, and everyone cheered, even though there was an embarrassing moment when he asked Christians, then Muslims, to stick up their hands, and the Muslims outnumbered the Christians by three to one – oops!

Before long I had had enough of harking to herald angels, soon degenerating into Santa and sleighbell songs, even though the music was rocking and rolling with vigour and aplomb, Indonesian style. Do Indonesians, or Palestinians for that matter, actually know what sleighbells are? I took refuge at my friend Alaa ad-Din’s shop, sitting people-watching as the endless crowds streamed down the narrow street. An old taxi-driver I knew drove past and I asked him to return in twenty minutes to pick me up.

I’ve never been one for Christmas – usually I go quiet and into retreat. This year I have felt more sociable about it but, suddenly, I realised that Bethlehem was becoming a nightmare. Why, in this source-point of the Christmas tradition, do they have to import all the Santa razzmatazz, all the commercial crap that has so ruined the spirit of Christmas, burying peace and goodwill under a mountain of consumptive blindness and artifice? After all, this is Bethlehem, the home of Christmas – it doesn’t need to import anything, and in fact it should by rights set the tone. When I had mentioned this to Aisha, she had said I was welcome to come to Ramallah to escape. Suddenly I knew I was going to Ramallah tomorrow, on Christmas Eve.

The taximan never came. After an hour of waiting – allowing for Palestine Inshallah Time – I waved goodbye to my friends at the shop, who were duly worried that I wasn’t enjoying myself, but I was just fine. In truth, if they stopped deluding themselves, most people in these crowds didn’t seem too happy to me either. But then, as someone aptly wrote recently, if you live inside a myth it looks like reality – though the gentleman in question was referring to the growth-economics of recent decades. Yet this rendering of Christmas, in my judgement, has more to do with growth-economics than Jesus, peace and goodwill. Or perhaps I’m just being Scrooge-like and grumpy, or becoming jaded?

It took a while to find a taxi, and then we had to weave around backstreets dodging the traffic-jams. Looking out at the crowds, it’s rather tragic that the majority of people here were Muslims. This isn’t a problem – it’s a blessing, saving the Christmas celebrations from moribund decline. What’s sad is that the Christian presence is so thin. Most of Palestine’s Christians have emigrated.

I had an image of Jesus coming down the street ranting at the desecration of his memory, vaulting onto the stage in Manger Square to unplug the amps and tell the privileged visitors in their allocated seats in front of the stage to yield them up to the poor and needy. Or perhaps just to go home and get on with the job of building Heaven on Earth and acting on His teachings. I’m sure there are spiritual moments for many people here, when they contemplate the tender meaning of the Christ Mass, of the shepherds who came up from Beit Sahour to see the newborn babe and of the Holy Mother and Child, but this… this is something else. I was glad to get out.

So, to all my dear readers, my apologies for omitting to give you a warm and toasty image of Christmas in Bethlehem! I’m sure it has its finer side, and it certainly puts this walled-in city on the world map, at least for a few days each year. It’s good to make a bit of a fuss about peace and goodwill, but why don’t we do this all year?

Ismael

Next day I pottered around the apartment tidying up and exercising my fingers on my computer keyboard, then I rang Ismael and left with him for the service-taxi station, to go to Ramallah. Ismael was a happy man today – his son Tareq had just been released early from jail, thanks to Hamas’ clever politics in exchanging a thousand Palestinian prisoners for one woe-begotten Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. This says something about Hamas’ strategy: they doggedly hold out for their principles without budging an inch, and this time it worked. Israel, which desperately believes Hamas is a bunch of terrorists, did the deal and paid the price. Ismael’s son was free.

Ismael had driven with his wife to the prison near Ramallah to meet him, but the Israelis kept everyone waiting until late into the night, to prevent an outburst of celebration and protest – though it hadn’t worked. There had been a near-riot outside the jail, and Ismael and his wife had beaten a retreat until things calmed down. Ismael is a respectable gentleman, by profession a surveyor but now redundant and a taxi-driver, and quite poor. But they found Tareq and brought him home at last. Their house had since then been busy for some days as people came by to congratulate the son and family, bringing gifts and partying. Released prisoners are heroes in Palestine. Tareq had been jailed for throwing stones at Israeli soldiers who were raiding Deheisheh refugee camp, themselves breaking the rules of the Oslo Accords.

Ismael is trying to get Tareq into Abu Dis university. But he’s worried because the jail term has delayed his son’s entry into university, meaning that one of his daughters has reached the age for university too. He can’t afford to pay for both of them. This is deeply vexing to him, because Palestinians value education very highly. A while ago I had given Ismael 400 shekels toward the 8,000 shekel (£1,600 or $2,000) fine he would have to pay for his son on release in about nine months’ time, except the Hamas deal had cut this short and saved the fine, so I told him to put it in Tareq’s self-help fund. He was so grateful, it was touching, and we both cried a few tears together.

Bethlehem was choked with traffic. The place was crawling with armed security men because Abu Mazen, the president, and Salam Fayyad, the prime minister, were on their way here to deliver annual Christmas speeches – a tradition started by Yasser Arafat. There were loads of big SUVs everywhere, the cars of privileged members of the PA hierarchy – people who have done well from Western and Gulf subsidies that support this nation. Unfortunately these subsidies support the hierarchy more than the nation. There’s no major crime in Palestine except for this.

Eventually we reached the service-taxi station. I bundled into a van and we were soon off, down through Beit Sahour and onto the main trunk road northwards. Most of the traffic was coming the other way – not least the armed motorcade of the president and prime minister, with flashing blue lights and a swarm of big motorbikes out in front and in the rear.

This is a trunk road not because of its quality – in British terms it’s a bumpy old ‘B’ road – but because it’s the only road from the southern to the northern West Bank, from Bethlehem to Ramallah, avoiding Israeli controls. Most Palestinians are not permitted to enter Israel proper or Jerusalem, which would be the shortest route – 25km instead of 70km – so they have to go round Jerusalem along this convoluted mountain route.

Palestine Route One

This road is dramatic, a tremendous ride. At first it weaves along the top of the limestone plateaux east and north of Bethlehem, where there’s a view down into a deep valley and then, on the other side, high up, the walled-off outskirts of East Jerusalem. This is vivid enough in itself, but then it suddenly plunges dramatically 1,000ft (300m) down a steep switchback into Wadi Nar, the Valley of Fire, where it changes from a winding old road into a new USAid-modernised dual carriageway heading north to Abu Dis and Al Azariyah, through more wild semi-desert mountain landscape, and winding tortuously through Wadi Nar until it eventually joins the Israeli east-west Route 1 from Jerusalem to the King Hussein Bridge and Jordan. This is a full-scale modern dual carriageway, financed in the 1990s by the Japanese government as a peace road linking Jerusalem and Amman – except peace never came. As far as I know the Japanese never asked for their money back.

We cannonaded down this road, past the Ma’ale Adumim Israeli settlement, perched on a hilltop to the right, then we turned left toward Ramallah. More dramatic landscape, and a few impoverished Bedouin shack-villages. This certainly is a memorable trip, this road. It weaves around hither and thither, and the service-taxi drivers do it at breakneck speed – mercifully they seem to be good drivers. Eventually we reached Ramallah – and it suddenly started raining! This was the first rain for over a month. It was tipping down. I waited to meet Aisha at Manara Circle, the centre of town – a funny bi-directional roundabout with a monument in the middle, dating back to British Mandate times. The British used to come here to get out of Jerusalem and enjoy themselves – rather like a hill-station in the Indian Raj.

Aisha took me to a Latin (Catholic) church for the Christ Mass. It’s the first time I’ve been to a church service for, er, well, must be over a decade, heathen that I am. The service was in Arabic and the church was packed. I floated off into another world, standing up and sitting down when required, looking as if I knew what I was doing. I had been in rather an altered, spaced-out state during the day, so it was rather nice to let myself drift along with the choral singing.

Again, I was taken to a church by a Muslim. I didn’t understand a word of the sermon, but the priest, dressed in white robes with lovely embroidery on it, spoke quite clearly and slowly – useful to listen to, picking up Arabic words I’m beginning to recognise. I hadn’t realised until now that Christians also use the term ‘Allah’ in Arabic. But then, he’s the One God, so why shouldn’t they? For your interest, Allah means ‘The God’ – it has a slightly different nuance to the Western personalisation of ‘God’ as a name, while the Arabic term is a noun.

Ramallah – where the foreign money is

We emerged from the church into the pouring rain, dodging torrents of water, and found a taxi to take us to the village outside town where Aisha and her husband Ahmed live. He’s a web-designer and film-maker, and we had lots to chatter about. They’re moving to England in a few months’ time to work and study (inshallah, if the British do the right thing with his visa, at a cost of £800). Ahmed likes the relatively high educational and intellectual standards of the English. The idea of living in London gives me a sinking feeling, but they’re excited about it. Perhaps I’m just a provincial country bumpkin with moss in my brains.

Next morning, Christmas Day, I sat writing my blog – I was falling behind – while Aisha went out and Ahmed updated websites. It was raining hard – not a day for sightseeing or footling around outside. It was a slow, do-nothing-much day. The calling to prayers at the local mosque was particularly tuneful – though Aisha later told me that, unlike in Bethlehem where it is sung by live singers and therefore quite variable in quality, this was pre-recorded by star muezzin from Mecca or Medina, and pumped out through sound systems paid for by Saudi sheikhs. Then we had a chat and a late lunch, and I bade them farewell to return to Bethlehem. I was still feeling rather wobbly, and wanted to get home to be in my own space.

At the service-taxi station I had to wait some time for the taxi to fill up – it has space for eight passengers. The driver thought I was German, but when I told him in German that I wasn’t, and came from Britaniyya, he didn’t understand, so I stuttered it in Arabic. He was fascinated when I stood outside smoking my pipe – around here, the only pipe-smokers are wizened old Bedouin out in the hills. Eventually people came and we started out.

It was still swilling down with rain and progress was slow. Palestinian roads aren’t built for handling rain, so there were massive pools and floods, and we had some great moments of aquaplaning. Heavy rain in a desert landscape is quite paradoxical. When eventually we reached the steep, winding switchback at the far end of Wadi Nar there was a big traffic jam. People had ground to a halt on the 1-in-3 hill and, the road being covered with a film of rubber and oil from the customarily hot weather, they couldn’t get up. Neither could they back down because of the traffic jam behind them. But Palestinians are good at crises, and it sorted itself out in due course.

When we reached Bethlehem the taxi-station was closed. Since it was still bucketing down the passengers nagged the driver to take them up toward Manger Square, which he duly did, and we tipped out into the monsoon, running everywhichway. By now I was not just wobbly and vulnerable but cold and wet and, being a thin pile of bones, I decided to run for the nearest shelter to ring Ismael, to ask him to come and rescue me. The nearest shelter was a coffee bar called – wait for it – Stars and Bucks, a Palestinian chain that has taken this name to dig Starbucks in the ribs for avoiding setting up in Palestine. Some global corporations (such as Coca Cola, Wall’s ice cream or Nestle) come to Palestine and others, such as Starbucks, don’t. So it looks like Starbucks has lost its chance for business in Palestine – though they probably don’t care.

Whatever, Stars and Bucks had a heater on and served a good cup of tea, and I waited for Ismael. The guys there interviewed me about what I am doing in Palestine: Palestinians are so interested in foreigners, especially the ones who stay a long time and return repeatedly. The usual questions came about my family, my wife (haha), with the customary expression of surprise when I said I had grandchildren (to them I look young), and the questions about my work, where I was staying, and then the riveted attention watching me lighting my pipe.

Bethlehem Old Town

Ismael arrived at last and off we went, weaving around the Old Town, slowing for the virulent speed-bumps, stopping at a shop to get a few provisions and then water-skiing back to Al Khader. I promised to come to visit his son soon. We waved goodbye. Ismael and I are getting like brothers of the soul – he looks my age but he’s ten years younger. I’ll miss him when I go back to Britain, since it’s so good having someone who thinks of me and rings me regularly to make sure I’m alright. He also knows that, as an old revolutionary and dissident who has had his own problems with police and authorities, I understand his son and I have a few survival secrets to share with him.

The apartment was quiet and cold but, once I’d had a bite to eat and a cuppa, I put my hot water bottle on my lap and wrapped a big blanket around myself, finished and uploaded my blog about Hebron, processed my latest photos, did a few e-mails, did my meditation and then staggered off to bed.

So much for Christmas 2011. I went back to Britain in late March 2012.

If you enjoyed this, then take a look at my book Pictures of Palestine.

Peace and Goodwill

A podcast about something that’s becoming increasingly necessary

Following on from my last blog, I did manage to get up on a windy solstice morning to record the Massed Corvid Choir of Grumbla, Cornwall, and their melodic chants top and tail this podcast.

Experiences of the last two years have drawn us surreptitiously toward new values, a rehumanising of society – and there’s more to go on this process. Here are some insights on conflict, migration and dehumanisation, with a little on the Holy Land. And peace and goodwill. 

With explosions and atrocities going on, the environmental, social and cultural issues of our time will not be resolved. This needs to change, for very practical reasons. It involves every one of us looking at our own conflicts. Planetary healing.

Peace and Goodwill | Spotify

It’s on Spotify, Apple and Google. If you prefer not to visit those, go to my site to hear it there.

If you were interested in the first podcast on Intelligence, you can find the second one there too. This time it’s about psychic-intuitive antenna-twitching.

With love from me

Palden

Heaven Forfend

Stumbling on the Path

I wasn’t ready for it. The crows in the woods below the farm were on form. Each morning they wake up just before dawn and chatter in hundreds, working themselves up and suddenly taking to the air together, swooping around over the fields, doing crazy tribal manoeuvres, crarking and grating, settling and then swooping again as a mass before landing on the rooftops and trees of the farm and the big house next door, to sit there awhile and begin their day as individual crows, each with a life to live.

It shows the power of synergy, when they interlock minds to fly as one being, with no visible leadership, making a deep rumbling as hundreds of wings thrash the air in harmony. Meanwhile, waking up in pain and feeling unwell, I had missed an opportunity to sound-record one of the best dawn crow displays of late (for my next podcast). Oh well. That’s what happens when your life is humiliatingly falling apart and all your well-learned human capabilities start failing you.

Plus some dilemmas. On Thursday afternoon I landed up sitting there crying my eyes out, unable to get help after four days of trying, following a stream of unreturned calls, answering machines, referrals to other numbers, and promises unkept. Yet again I was landing up at the end of the day having got nowhere. I was in pain and going down. The dilemma is that, when I do get someone at the other end, they’re really good – but somehow, the system just isn’t working, and a clock was ticking on me.

Come Saturday morning, I got through to an emergency number and the nurse was really helpful and attentive, assuring me she would ring back within an hour – and she did. “I hate to do this to you, Palden, but I must refer you to yet another service”. OMG. Eventually, by afternoon I was down in the Urgent Care Unit at West Cornwall Hospital in Penzance. By evening I was at last fixed with the medication I had been promised five days before. Penny, busy helping another of her care clients move house, came to pick me up in an enormous van and dropped me home. Staggering around on autodrive, I lit the woodstove, made tea and then had what my mother in her later years used to call ‘a good sit down’. Thus ended a nightmare week during which I had squared with a few rather hard things.

Medically, my prospects are not good – I’m doing alright with the cancer but not with its side-effects, and the prospects are ‘risky’. I’m at a choice-point. It all boils down to a matter of will-to-live. A decision in my soul, in my bones, not my head. Will this crisis be followed by an upswing or a downward slide? This isn’t just about health conditions. Getting through each day has become more difficult and I’ve started getting tired of it, wondering how much it’s worth struggling on.

It’s a bit like climate change: a question of mitigation (trying to solve the problem) or adaptation (getting used to the idea that you can’t). Do I have what it takes to break medical expectations? Or shall I let myself decline in peace, perhaps during the coming year? If I revive, for what and for whom? I am on my own almost all of the time and, recently with diminished creative inspiration, there isn’t a lot to do except talk to myself and deal with a succession of difficulties in a muddle-through kind of way.

Yes, that’s honing to the soul, and there’s always something to learn. But fighting to stay alive is not all there is to life, and there comes a point where it gets a bit stupid resisting a tide that currently seems to want to carry me back home. I’m leaving the question open for now, but it’s sitting with me.

‘Heaven…’, sang Talking Heads a few decades ago, ‘Heaven is a place, where nothing, nothing ever happens…’. I don’t agree. That’s an earthbound perspective arising from the forgetting process we went through around birth and in early life. Forgetting who we are and why we came. So going back to where we came from becomes a scary issue that few wish to face, because it involves remembering who we are, or were, or could be, and why we came. But the rub is, everyone will face it. And things do happen after death, and there’s more to life than what we’ve experienced thus far.

Astrologers amongst you will probably recognise the symptoms: I’m on a Neptune opposition Saturn. I’ve been given cancer to give my life a new focus. The last two years have been like ten. Struggles have changed me a lot, for better and worse, but there comes a point where a new hurdle hoves into view: letting be, letting go and ‘letting God’.

We get these let-gos throughout life, and the more experience of them that we gain, the more we position ourselves well for the final one. But there are some biggies to get to grips with – particularly regrets. Things we did, or didn’t do, that we could have done differently.

If we’ve done something with our lives, if we have at least tried, other things come around too, to show us where we got things more or less right. For me, as I slowly pull out of my temporal life-slot, things are coming to pass that I got used to accepting as unchangeable. World transformation is not an easy thing, and we’re in a painful period, but things are starting to wrench themselves out of their stuckness – also known as ‘normality’. The mechanism by which change is happening is not one that anyone could have forecast. It’s getting us from behind and underneath.

It started with Covid and its cascading consequences, and we’re heading for the next big wave. Again, it will be something that few visualised or expected. It’s a raking-out of all and everything, very thorough, corroding and eroding many things, all separately, and building up into an enormous slow, drawn-out quake, an avalanche of issues that will come to a scrunch-point – and then something else starts happening.

We’re not used to insecurity and uncertainty but we’re being forced to get used to it. Covid, with its consequential effects, was just the start. There’s more (see here). In the end, all will be well, but it’s really difficult now – my 25ish futile telephone calls of the last week were a minuscule example of the cumulative systems breakdown that is coagulating at present. The exception has become the rule, and relative chaos is becoming the new order.

After a life of going against the grain, I’ll be leaving a world where the logjams are at last beginning to free up. In a way, it’s a time of tribulation, but in another way it’s a time of solutions and breakthroughs, goaded by crisis and necessity. But if we truly want a new world, we must truly let go of the old one – and that’s what the coming decades are about.

Hence we see such daunting attempts at social control today. Humanity has started sliding down a ski-slope and it’s shit scared of losing control. Stamp out the virus, rescue the economy, maintain normality, control the future, blame it all on others. Change whatever you like as long as it doesn’t affect me.

This is not all that there is to life. Even fighting against it is not all there is to life. There’s more. Humanity is struggling to figure out why we are here, and what exactly for. It’s an endless process. It’s the Universe trying to find out who it is, by scraping the accumulated experience of billions of struggling humans into an enormous databank of universal experience, fiddling with models and algorithms to find out what it’s here for. And whether the telling of the story really was worth it. Or whether, as my Tibetan teacher HH Gyalwa Karmapa XVI once put it, it was all simply a fart in the void.

Meanwhile, now on medication, I’m beginning to feel ‘better’ and out of danger, but I’ve been knocked down a rung, and this is a different place. Another fullmoon has passed. Here’s sending a hug to those who will be alone at Christmas, and best wishes to all of you, whatever you are or aren’t celebrating, with a reminder and a smile: it’s all okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end.

Love, Palden.


A new podcast is coming soon when my production team (me) gets its act together. Meanwhile, an optional extra: some music, Pink Floyd’s On the Turning Away