Lines or How I Learned to Straddle Rivers

I’ve been waking up to just how many ways our species works to separate ourselves as individuals from one another in an attempt to secure authority and strength, albeit blindly and while starving our intuition and sense of authenticity. Now I’ll try saying that in English.

We’ve reached critical mass concerning our experience of tribalism (“I must be safe and cared for because these people around me appear familiar”). Due to information access explosion, it has become incredibly clear that no human is that different from any other human, regardless of language, origin, or race. We all have hearts, stomachs, spirits, and brains.

But the scary part?

None of us know how to use them.

We have gurus, authors, preachers, politicians, dead icons, corporations, and celebrities onto whom so many project their idealism, yet no one wants to tell the Secret. I’m not talking about Law of Attraction; I mean the real Secret.

We’re all dancing around blindly (like the primates we are) faking it and making it up in a mad dash for survival. In centuries past, we had region, dialect, and color to tell us who was safe and who was not in the tribe. Now the lines are gone. The entire planet is spoken for and every government bends over for every other one in an attempt to not destroy the planet Alderaan style and while simultaneously placating corporations and ensure political job security. Other than our passports, we have no valid us vs. them tribal construct upon which to call for personal safety and reflection. (Not that those guarantee us ethical treatment by our fellow citizens.) Nowadays, we flee to ideas and abstractions to clothe our minds and separate us from one another.

God gets blamed for genocide, for hate speech, for funeral protest/harassment. Presidents get turned into ideological dart boards for every problem that several hundred overpaid underworked people create together, regardless of how they do or don’t participate. Short-term gains are prioritized over long-term health-conscious sustainability as a business rule. Zoom out and replace these human images with angry chimpanzees and the picture doesn’t really change much. For all of our skills and shiny toys, our fundamental framework and methods for interacting with our environment haven’t changed much in the last few thousand years. In my opinion, we are animals with superpowers beyond the fragile limits of our cherry-picked bites of wisdom who have grown grossly overpopulated due to having no natural predator. Subsequently, we have systemically turned on each other to take up the slack.

So then! What’s a disproportionately evolved primate to do? Fortunately, there are enough of us that if you begin feeding an ethos or world view of (in my opinion) any variety with enough diligence, then you are 200% certain to find people who will enable your belief – regardless of its validity or health. The trick is to feed a perspective or value system that is healthy for you and live it out to the Nth degree, especially in moments where others invite you to compromise or debase yourself to pacify their sensitivities. That’s the other side of the coin: just as there will be thousands who will encourage and enable you, there will be thousands who will loathe, mock, and undermine you in whatever path you choose. Choose wisely.

Pro-tip: Adjusting to a new world view that you feel is healthy and/or right for you comes with a certain period of madness, wherein (depending on how contrary to your past modus operandi your new paradigm is) you may slowly or quickly lose friends and make new ones – sometimes all at once, quite often just at the point of exhaustion. But the truly maddening moment comes when you have the experience of first walking into one room beloved and respected by all and then go into another room where you are burned and spat on for your expression, oftentimes when it was the exact same thing for which the first group loved you. Projection can be a warm embrace just as much as a knife through the heart.

Many don’t survive or progress beyond this point in their transformation. Some settle for mundanity or fly below the radar. It is important to note that in much of the world, some are not permitted the luxury of casually not committing to their peers’ world view as every victim of acid throwing, most of them women who were attacked for refusing sexual advances or not wearing a hijab, can attest. In Iran, acid throwing is now a capital offense due to the sheer volume of reported attacks, not to mention those that go on in secret. Consider that the next time you fake your way through a social gathering that makes you feel dead inside or sit through a monologue of pompous hateful drivel because i “family” does and you’re just afraid of being alone. Stand for something, lest you do die for nothing.

I believe the real culprit behind most cycles of abuse and atrocity is something that occurs at a deeper level than does the fear of being alone or abandoned. It is the fear of being Othered. It is a valid fear. Being treated as though one no longer possesses human or even just familial characteristics is truly terrifying. I believe it to be so because of what truly grand twisted creativity flies out of a human’s mind when they encounter someone that they no longer relate to as a human being. Our beautiful capacity to Love and Heal others becomes blinded and choked by our fear of the unknown. When the unknown walks and talks like us, we discard our evolution and – like the primates we are – go apeshit. War propaganda demonstrates the practice of selective othering more explicitly than almost any other practice, in my opinion. This became very apparent in World War II when racial slurs were common in public.

 JAP_BEAST (1942)

To put this in modern perspective, in recent times, the “all Muslims are terrorists” doctrine has inflamed US culture to the point where Sikhs endure anti-Muslim persecution because they wear turbans and the men wear full beards. In our infotainment media, lines are blurred by bigotry and willful ignorance by those feigning abstracted superiority – the traits of the American unruly child of the British Great White Burden. Thankfully, education and a review of the facts illuminates the selfish us vs. them fear-mongered tea party (no pun intended).

Madness!

Now for the bright side.

The truth is – you’re never truly alone. It is a blessing and a scourge, really.

You may be far from home, but when it comes down to it, we really are all in this together. Privilege, false ego investment, fear of death, and cultural distractions are all that keep us apart in the end. There are innumerable things to mourn about human culture(s) today as there is so much energy directed at making things more difficult and stealing happiness, prosperity, liberty, and success from others. But again, I ask, what’s a disproportionately evolved primate to do?

Voids shall be filled, but we as creator/destroyers get to choose how we do so. There are entire socio-cultural idea machines engineered to inhibit growth and discovery. “That’s just the way we’ve always done it.” “It’s unAmerican.” “But do you really want to marry a black guy?” “She’s just a whore.” “Heh, ‘women’…am-I-right?” “All Muslims love killing.” These are cop-outs designed to reroute creativity and stifle Heartful investment and mindful exploration. Since we’re all just primates running blindly into the void lest we perish, why not try a healthier approach and risk being wrong? The truth is – I’m asking you to risk dying for…

Love.

New business models are challenging industry traditions and revolutionizing future business practices. Bossless workplaces are now a viable option for companies. Empowering independent workers is now a viable business model. It is rare for anything to get Americans out of their comfort zones en masse for anything beyond a music or sporting event, but over 400,000 people marched in New York City on September 21st to illuminate the fact that we’re all in this together and broadcast to the UN that the American people in this region are united on this issue.

While so much fuel is added to the hate fire of isolating obsession with short-term problems and skin-deep trivialities, I set my eyes to the horizon and let the droning wash away. I invest my time and energy where it will matter. If time and energy are finite resources, then I want to maximize my bottom line by living my life on my terms. This means I refuse to entertain complaining and hate. If a room is inherently hostile or garners contrarianism to progress – I leave. It’s that simple. No, I don’t want another drink. I don’t want to commiserate with you when you have no plan or desire to rise above. No, I don’t want to hear how much you hate x, y, or even z.

I’m not the droid friend you’re looking for.

I am someone who will celebrate your progress. I am someone who will dance with you over breakthroughs. I am someone who will chart your success. I am someone who loves life, transformation, creation, and glorious destruction. I don’t want to hear about just how right you are. I want to hear how much you love. I want to know what makes you feel excitedly vulnerable. I want to hear about what turns you on.

Critics are a dime a dozen.

Champions slay their fears and follow their curiosity. I learned that I can always get better and the horizon always offers a new glory to be discovered. This is how we can respond: by charting proven success with healthy practices, by calmly making sense because we employ facts and empathy, by accomplishing the impossible through dedication and passion.

Fill the void. Build your tomorrow today. In straddling the river between two kingdoms and refusing to compromise your Love, you forge a space in which you reign sovereign over the whole Earth.

Stand tall in Love and watch your life transform.

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We are That which was There.

I often wonder about the things that bring us together. But I feel far too often forced into glaring awareness of the things that tear us apart. What makes an enemy into a friend or a friend in to an enemy? What makes a stranger into a “soul mate?” Does anything really change?  I find myself often feeling extremely powerful and fragile at the same time. The distraction is to stratify that into some kind of sub-cranial pecking order and then play pathetic verbal tennis matches with others as to what that does or does not mean or the worth of one rung on the ladder versus another, socially speaking. But no matter what the outcome – when the table is cleared and you’re all alone once again – there’s just you – in your fragile evolving infinity.

In recent days, my attention was directed to the human rights tragedy that is the Chinese steamrolling of Tibet and their attempt to stamp out a culture that prizes personal serenity and independence of mind in favor of Eastern Imperialism. Here in NY, I can find Tibetan prayer flags flying freely just about anywhere if I care to search and forms of Buddhism both casually and seriously discussed and practiced in one of a plethora of ways. From the hipster loft, to the Manhattanite freshly waxed hardwood floor studio in an elevator building, to the avant-garde railroad in Bushwick, elements of Eastern meditation-based culture have flown West, whose practitioners hearken back to a Himalayan paradise that is currently being jailed, forcibly extracted, and beaten into extinction. 

Wiccans pull from a pre-imperial rural North European polytheistic lifestyle practice and Santería pulls from the worship of Yoruban Nature deities that were hauled across the Atlantic on slave ships and forcibly blended with a hostile Catholicism. Note that, in expressing this, I am not in any way commenting on the validity or lack thereof of practices, traditions, or religions. My point is far more unsettling. The wombs of our various spiritual practices are very much disappearing. The earth remains where it lies. However, we who may practice one of any number of traditions daily in freedom without fear of military police black-bagging us “V for Vendetta”-style and imprisoning us for praying – we who may sit in coffee shops and loudly argue who’s tradition is more in line with x versus y – we who may smack a bumper sticker on our car without fear of bullets flying through it or even worse…

– we who have the energy to spare, hold in our hands something very precious: stillness.

I grew up where the churches were genuinely mistaken for football stadiums and shopping malls. Living in NYC has made me grateful for two square feet in which to erect an altar, much less include other participants, dance, or even walk around it. We who have the privilege must take into account the fact that we have the most energy available to hear the guiding spirits and refine practices that are in line with our prime directives…

– because we don’t have to listen through the rocket-propelled grenades whizzing by our windows…

At least not yet.

I’m not saying call yourself something you are most definitely not. Work with *your* own ancestors, your local spirits, and be who *you* are in all your beauty and power, but know that if you are walking out a practice without persecution, ponder just how much that practice means to you. Across the world, there are people tortured on the hour because they believe happiness, independence, and serenity are sacred – and also because they just live on the wrong side of the mountains.

If you have a matron/patron Someone – love them. Send them love every day. Send your Self love every day. Take your Self seriously. Don’t require others to (because they also probably won’t if you do) – but if you truly honor your Self, then I think you might find that you don’t need to! We whose torches are still lit are finding ourselves increasingly in a very precarious position. I didn’t know just how very much my Light meant to me until I was alone and it was all I had to help me remember I am worthy of Love and that I even exist. If you are awake, then you are awake for a reason. Fly free and carry your torch high, for we may soon find ourselves in front. Burn brightly, lest we forget.

Dare to be original.

War on Pleasure

There is a war. Many, in fact. But right now we are going to just focus on one of them.

“Duh,” you say. Journalists are beheaded, innocent people of color are shot by cops on camera, and Queer teens are beaten to death in the streets. Women experience daily harassment that every so often ends in blood and tears. Epidermal melanin content, a.k.a. skin color, a.k.a. Race, is the only cause for some battles to be started and cause them to raged on for centuries with no signs of stopping. These everyday realities are international in scope. But these aren’t the monsters I’m writing about today.

There is a war on Pleasure. Our species – supposedly the most advanced on Earth – is pathologically terrified of pleasure, in essence suffering from mass Hedonophobia. Pleasure, rooted in personal enrichment, has somehow become a high crime with many branches, driving many to frigid legislated moralism, while others are driven to profound personal destruction via substance abuse, among other things. Pleasure is now a foreign language to the majority who have been imprisoned in several layers of clothing, projected social character, and imperialized codes of “modesty.” Violation of implicitly consented-to dogmatic custom is, quite literally speaking, lethal in some parts of the world while in others it can drive one into poverty – a longer more torturous death for some.

Riddle-me-this: when did public breast-feeding, for example, one of the most perennially intimate natural and necessary practices we primates require for both physical and mental health become a shameful criminal activity? Given the whole baby element, the argument for sexual deviance can’t even apply. This brings us one step closer to the root.

The female body is an incredibly scary thing. It is fought against with every ounce of creativity in the human arsenal. Women shame and cut down other women with imaginary violations of an imaginary standard of proper appearance. Men objectify and weaponize the female body to “keep her in her place” and “show her what she’s good for.” In Fundamentalist-Christian Texas, I grew up hearing such nonsense on both sides of the gender binary, regardless of religious affiliation. The poison of “modesty” law can make or break someone’s ability to find employment, a relationship with upward momentum, good standing in a community, and even personal safety in one’s home. This is a reality and it has been so for centuries. For example, why does the corset – a true torture device if there was one – exist? Appearances, darling. Keep the pretty girls from breathing so they can’t so much as run three steps before fainting. It’s disgustingly brilliant.

There was a time where women and men fought and died together to establish their sovereign domain, their home, their Hearth. Thankfully, in recent years, [SURPRISE] our cartoon fantasy of gender roles in history has been debunked. Upon closer inspection of Viking burial remains (1), gender-exclusionistic notions of life and death have been shown to be mere projections on the part our Disney-ified culture. In examining the bones themselves instead of just the personal effects with which the Vikings were buried, women were laid to rest with their swords and shields just like the men. The stay-at-home weak woman laden with the strong man’s baby is not a tradition based in history upon which one can justify a contemporary social hierarchy – just a fantasy.

I delight in a woman’s body and, I may be so bold, find some women completely captivating. This is something wonderful, exhilarating, invigorating, and altogether natural. However, if I should opt to be a cowardly control freak, the female form morphs before me into a wild alien creature to be conquered and enslaved lest it deprive me of a truly deranged sense of autonomy. Thankfully, I quit that team long ago and do not fear body parts – not breasts, not vaginas, not penises, not intersexed organs, either! Neither do I feel the need to obsess over them. Bodies are wonderful and strange all at once. (Its part of the fun, you see.) I’ll gratefully view and pay homage to my partners’ bodies when they damn well want to show them to me and I feel like showing mine to them – or anybody else for that matter – simply because they/I/we want to and that’s all the explanation anyone, in my opinion, should have to give.

Not everyone shares my perspective.

Jennifer_Lawrence10

Recently, as you may or may not be aware, a particular poor lonely soul using 4chan recently took it upon themselves to show the world Jennifer Lawrence’s (among others) vulnerable moments in pristine stolen jpg form (2) that was created for private use. Call me crazy; I don’t want to see the images! A boob is a boob is a boob. OHMYGODITSABOOB! Yes? This is only noteworthy if (A) you want to steal joy from someone and make them feel low and/or (B) the person is an object in your mind that you didn’t feel was completely consumable heretofore. Both are signs of a health concern.

Let’s call it what it is – a sex crime.

For me, this is just another manifestation of deep-rooted fear of sexual power that Americans, among others, carry and propagate. I should be able to employ my devices however I please without fear of exploitation, however, the chronic lack of respect for individuals and their sovereign agency is what this crime truly highlights for me. I’m beyond saying “be more careful” or “don’t use iCloud” and fast-forwarding to the core problem.

That dishonorable person pillaged women’s intimacy because they were famous. In my mind, it’s as though the person in question forcibly stripped 100 people and marched them into the public square to be objectified at gunpoint. We just have more convenient tools now that can be employed from your mom’s basement. Sadly, where I grew up, it scares me that I remember hearing people say things like, “Well, the whores deserved it. God’s judgment is swift…”

Stop right there.

What I’m saying is that many humans blame their deep-seated social phobias on invisible forces who sub-culturally manifest as scapegoat imaginary friends who act on hate and discrimination.

Read that again. Its real.

Fortunately, in the US, most of us have barks far bigger than our bites and that’s why there has been no respectful discussion about basic human dignity for so long. This isn’t a liberal vs. conservative problem. This isn’t a poor vs. rich problem. This isn’t a theist vs. atheist problem. I would like it to be; but it’s not. One of Hedonophobia’s many children, Rape Culture, is evidence of this, because it infects every caste. For those unfamiliar with this egregore, please listen to the words of Emilie Buchwald (3), the author of “Transforming a Rape Culture.” For her, Rape Culture is:

a complex set of beliefs that encourage male sexual aggression and supports violence against women. It is a society where violence is seen as sexy and sexuality as violent.In a rape culture, women perceive a continuum of threatened violence that ranges from degrading remarks to non-consensual sexual touch to full-on rape, itself. A rape culture condones physical and emotional terrorism against women (or any marginalized demographic, for that matter) as the norm . . . In a rape culture both men and women assume that sexual violence is a fact of life, inevitable . . . However… much of what we accept as inevitable is in fact the expression of values and attitudes that can change.

Why the violence? Someone’s afraid of something.

Humans don’t demonstrate aggression unless our survival mechanisms kick in because we feel we are dying, whether by attack, fear of attack from something usually not understood, or starvation. It’s not just cisgender women who suffer in this game. Queer/gender non-conforming men and trans women also experience a tremendous amount of harassment and hate-crimes. There was a wave of hate crimes (4) directed at queer folk in New York City last year, a city purported to be a haven for so many who stand apart. The Yin element is frightening to some no matter where or how she manifests. In May 2014 in Atlanta, two black trans-women were victimized (5) on a public subway by two men while the crowd stood around with cameras and cheered.

This is not new. These are medieval problems. For all our tools, trinkets, and toys that transcend the expectations of science fiction, our species somehow can’t pass this class: Love and Respect. We call ourselves rulers of the Earth, the children of God, the special snowflakes who invent language, create music, and compute our way to the stars.

But we can’t honor that which is soft, playful, inviting, nourishing, relaxing, ecstatic, and soothing. Yin is still a monster under the bed. Why?

Even an Ivy League environment where ignorance (one would think) is directly combatted, we play Hot Potato with the issues, in spite of a coordinated massive student outcry (6), Rape goes on ignored as administrations grossly mismanage if not turn a blind eye entirely to crimes committed on their grounds.

In a sweeping moment of divine clarity, the California Senate passed a bill requiring colleges/universities to uphold a standard of affirmative consent in sexual encounters (7) in an attempt to hold college campuses accountable for their students’ safety. It outlines protections for people who were not sober and eliminates the possibility for silent consent to be taken as a green light. To me, this is intuitively in the proper direction based in respect good science and will hopefully spawn a wave of common-sense legislation that protects all parties in an equitable manner with phrasing appropriate for a 21st-century environment. But some reactions to it startled me. A common one I can directly quote en masse from the almighty Facebook is:

“But seriously, are people supposed to stop and ask every five minutes?”

Ahem. [#Facepalm.]

We who are not afraid to talk about our needs and wants and practice affirmative consent on a daily basis find it very simple to define what we do and do not want to engage in before engaging in it. In fact, it becomes integral to our super-sexy seduction process, because affirmative/enthusiastic consent is frankly smoking hot. Check-ins should be natural. If you change activities, make sure everyone is on board. If you haven’t talked about something, don’t do it until you do.

Those who don’t communicate about anything and play guessing games as a lifestyle choice will find this notion confusing and perplexing because it throws off their mystery no-accountability schtick. However, these poor souls also *tend* to be people who let themselves stumble into sexual encounters and are at risk for assault and/or buyer’s remorse due to ridiculous degrees of confusion and implicit/explicit shaming of all partners’ expression. Getting a sober “Yes” isn’t a buzz kill or hurdle, its evidence of intimacy and respect.

If talking to your partner is irritating, you shouldn’t try to fuck them.

Rocket science.

If this doesn’t make sense to someone, then there are deeper issues at hand that need addressing and healing.  Not to mention, sex is more fun (and we all allegedly still like fun, right?) when someone enthusiastically wants to have sex with you. But here’s the catch:

It’s also scarier.

Its scarier because one can’t hide from a lover. You can try. You can try your damnedest. You can hone it into a skill. But genuine intimacy – love-touch – pierces through the hardest and darkest armor. In Nature, water slowly carves through the hardest rock. Heard of the Grand Canyon? It was formed by water (8) – gentle, soothing, cool water. Love is stronger than any rage, any fear, any trauma, any mask. You can’t hide from it because it accepts you – all of you – even that dark bit that you hate.

Especially that.

The Yin energy within us all emanates this medicine with every heartbeat. At first, Compassionate Connection is terrifying. When you stand inside Absolute Love, you are stripped of all your clever words, your mightiest weapons, your pretty clothes, your fashionable appearance, your bank account, your career, your portfolio…

You’re stripped of everything that’s not just….

You.

We humans have evolved to the point where we recognize intuitively the tremendous degree of release required in a genuine loving encounter of any kind and the deep volcanic power of Sex that has the authority required to rewire reality, itself.

And THAT is something truly terrifying.

“Embrace” Sculpture – Burning Man 2014

YOU and I – objectify, pillage, mock, enslave, intimidate, cut apart, legislate, ridicule, and revile every flicker of light that emanates from that door that if gently opened would truly heal us to the quick in one moment of honesty and mutual compassion. That Light destroys everything we thought we knew about ourselves what remains of us is truly divine. For me, this is the reason for Living.

In writing about the culture surrounding systemic police brutality, Pagan author and activist T. Thorn Coyle wrote (9) the following:

We are up against a monster who feeds upon our fear. We are up against a monster who delights in control, oppression, and in pain. We are not up against individuals. We are up against a being formed by a collective, what magic workers call an egregore. This egregore is hungry for injustice. It is hungry for screams, and rapes, and beatings, and gassing, and shots fired into flesh…It infects good people with a madness that cannot be appeased without more violence…We form an egregore, too, all of us who love. All of us who stand for justice…The systems of oppression are in place. So are the avenues of our resistance and our action…My opposition is my prayer. My prayer is my opposition.

There is a war on Pleasure. Why do we fear Pleasure, genitals, female bodies and female energy, while attempting to weaponize male bodies and sexuality? For me, genitals are the one thing that will never ever stop looking very much like an animal trait. We’re all strange-looking and it makes us all have some weird feelings around it. Genitals are some of the few things about the human body that defy mechanization and industrialization. We all have unique qualities, but we can mythologize our forms into polished androids – right up until we take our pants off and our soft slippery ports flop out to play. Suddenly, the memory of our animal earth-bound nature comes flooding back and many of us are sent running away screaming into the deep vault within. For all our books, all our toys, all our tools, all our weapons, all our “culture”…

We are still animals – and that terrifies us.

The more we study and connect to our closest animal relatives and communicate directly with them, the more we discover (10) that we really are not as far removed from the animal kingdom as we would like to imagine. Though I am infinitely creative and highly adaptive, I embrace the fact that I am an animal. I am a primate and this gives me solace. It removes the pressure to be godlike. It removes the myth that I become the perfect machine or computer. I am not a machine. I am an animal surviving on Earth and, through creativity, am manifesting a life in which I thrive as the divine beast I am. Why am I here?

…Why is anything here?

Love and love hard. Love in all the ways you can because there is no manual. The gods didn’t write one and our best manuals are still just our best guesses for individual experiences. It is so very easy to feel overwhelmed in this Apocalyptic time. So much is changing so fast and its easy to wonder what one can do. It’s in moments like these that I remember that all the people who act in hate do so either thoughtlessly or because on some level they feel they have just cause. I gave up trying to change people a long time ago.

But one thing I learned the hard way to never betray my Light. In whatever way you can as you walk through the world each day and night, be the change. Do what makes you feel warm, even if you are the only one. In time, you will no longer be the only one; you be the Change. If “they” require no one’s permission to act out of fear and rage, think about what little permission you need to act out of Love and Passion. The hardest and most fear-inducing moment is when it finally comes time to Love your Self and experience deep ecstatic Pleasure – when you stand alone and naked before Love…

And Fall.

Just. Let. Go.

And become something greater than you ever could have imagined. Yes, its dangerous. Life is dangerous.

Be wild.

You’re an animal, after all.

1 – Vergano, Dan. “Invasion of the Viking Women Unearthed.” USA Today. Gannett, 19 July 2011. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.

2 – Mendelson, Scott. “The Little Black Book of Billionaire Secrets Jennifer Lawrence Nude Photo Leak Isn’t A ‘Scandal.’ It’s A Sex Crime.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 01 Sept. 2014. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.

3 – “What Is Rape Culture?” WAVAW Women Against Violence Against Women. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.

4 – KINSER, JEREMY. “NY Gay Man Killed In Fifth Hate Crime This Month.” Queerty. Queerty.com, 18 May 2013. Web. 29 Aug. 2016. <https://www.queerty.com/ny-gay-man-killed-in-fifth-hate-crime-this-month-20130518&gt;.

5 – Osborne, Terri. “#YesAllWomen: Police Search For The Men Who Stripped And Beat Two Trans Women On ATL Subway – CrimeFeed.” CrimeFeed. N.p., 30 May 2014. Web. 29 Aug. 2016. <http://crimefeed.com/2014/05/transgendered-women-attacked-on-atl-subway-nobody-moves-to-help/&gt;.

6 – Pérez-Peña, Richard. “Students File Complaints on Sexual Assaults at Columbia University.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 24 Apr. 2014. Web. 29 Aug. 2016. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/25/nyregion/accusations-over-assault-at-columbia.html?_r=1&gt;.

7 – Mandanas, Laura. “California Passes Affirmative Consent Bill; Rape Apologists Retreat Into Fantasy.” Autostraddle. N.p., 29 Aug. 2014. Web. 29 Aug. 2016. <http://www.autostraddle.com/california-passes-affirmative-consent-bill-rape-apologists-retreat-into-fantasy-252946/&gt;.

8 – “The Grand Canyon: How It Formed.” PBS LearningMedia. WGBH, 2006. Web. 29 Aug. 2016. <http://www.pbslearningmedia.org/resource/ess05.sci.ess.earthsys.canyon/the-grand-canyon-how-it-formed/&gt;. Adapted from NOVA: “Rafting Through the Grand Canyon.” 1992

9 – Coyle, T. Thorn. “Opposition Is a Prayer – T. Thorn Coyle.” T Thorn Coyle. N.p., 01 Sept. 2014. Web. 29 Aug. 2016. <http://www.thorncoyle.com/blog/2014/09/01/opposition-prayer/&gt;.

10 – Raffaele, Paul. “Speaking Bonobo: Speaking Bonobo Bonobos Have an Impressive Vocabulary, Especially When It Comes to Snacks.” Web log post. Smithsonian. N.p., Nov. 2006. Web. 29 Aug. 2016. <http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/speaking-bonobo-134931541/?no-ist&gt;.

 

Two Roads

I live in New York City. Though I’ve been here four crazy years, that statement still astounds me. A good portion of the population gets damn skilled at appearing more successful than they are. Its a trick and right proper one at that. Look like what you want, then ask for it, and BAM, you’ll get it. Articles and ad campaigns that literally stretch ten stories tall will fill your poor li’l noggin full of concepts and images craftily catered to supplement this aspiration to the one thing for which thousands stupidly pour into this physically tiny city every year: Success. Success in what exactly? I’m not even sure most of us know and that right there is the crux of the issue. 

Something terrible happens along the path to success – a snare quite innocuous in appearance, but even a tiny dose of this lie is lethal. It rots the very core of your being until you crumble from within. This trap attacks one’s core vision – and deteriorates one’s value identification abilities. I’m not talking about personal morals or some other such loin-fearing nonsense. This town teaches you that everything you think could be taken as a given or “common courtesy” can be stripped from you completely – suddenly, without explanation, and oftentimes for entirely non-personal reasons. This happening is formed and justified by the sheer volume of people one interacts with on any given day, hour, even minute! One therefore undergoes a re-education process where one decides what is and is not required in one’s daily life. I don’t feel many are directly conscious of or good at this process, but I’ve had the great (mis)fortune of having no choice but to be acutely aware of it. 

At some point, there is a particular crossroads one meets that determines quite frankly the rest of one’s time on Earth and possibly beyond. One can backtrack of course, but the clock’s ticking and it doesn’t care how cute you are or how much money you have. The crossroads is called Happy or Right. Whichever path you choose, you can rest assured that you will find company who will have chosen the same path and will support your aspiration to greatness along it. But do know that each road has its own god and you are most definitely now their bitch.

crossroad

You can choose to be like The Great Rightness and walk its path. You will have the comfort of growing accustomed to looking down on others and feeling very proud of the fact that, at least most of the time, you are right and have the proper outlook. Your friends who all do the same and will justify your actions and perspectives. If they feel you are wrong they will definitely tell you why and why shouldn’t they? Iron sharpens iron, after all. You will feel intelligent, rational, professional regardless of circumstance, and very much at peace on a certain level because your worth as a person can no longer be questioned. Why? Because you are Right and that is all – end of discussion. Why? I think you know. 

To the left, you can choose to be like The Great Happiness. You will have the comfort of always finding the diamond in the rough and the desert rose. They are your friends and will run to you, shouting your name excitedly, while carrying in their loving arms the things that delight you the most so that they may shower them upon you whether you feel like it or not. Your friends will be a balm to your soul as you are to theirs and you will always find a place that feels like home, because for you it will be. Things tend to happen right on time on this path and not a minute sooner. Though you may find yourself in unfamiliar territory rather often, it will be just right. However, somehow it will be very amenable to all involved because – you see – everyone arrived in the way that makes them the Happiest, just as you did

To be Right, rest assured you may feel successful, but it will cost you your arteries, your sleep, and your personality. To be Happy, please know the path isn’t always on the map and your schedule keeps you far too busy to even think about pointing fingers and not everyone speaks your language – so just decide to get used to being called a dirty foreigner among even quite possibly your own flesh and blood. The Right tend to suspect anyone speaking another life-language of being out to get them. Its just their way, you see. When one decides they need to be Right, one must be very careful who one trusts because a betrayal can cost one one’s entire station in life, if not life, itself.

In contrast, the Happy bounce back rather quickly because each person’s departure from their life is just an open space for greater blessings and, not to fret, they always come – right on time, as usual. The Right laugh at the Happy and attempt to draw them into battles of whit and ridicule. The trouble is they gamble with their personhood and many a vertebra are lost in such matches. In truth, the Right fear the Happy because the Happy have no rules and are as tangible to the Right as is a wet bar of soap in a jungle storm during the Rainy Season. 

For on the Happy path, the perk of it being a relatively uncharted course is sheer volume of hidden wonders accessible to we few, we Happy few, who embark on this journey. Unlike the Right, who scrutinize details for the sake of glory, the Happy don’t tend to bother so much with credit and nailing down distinguishing points – thus the map is always a bit fuzzy. We’re just to busy having fun to write it down!

If I may be so bold, I say that it is we the Happy who find success, for it is our success, you see – being accountable to no one but our own deepest Integrity. On this path, green pieces of paper/cloth do not promise smiles and laughter nor warm hearts and full bellies. Rather, the Happy always find each other and have just enough to share and share they do. Why? Because it makes them Happy! They are creative, self-reliant, healthy, independent, inspired, and adventurous. They silence their phones when they sleep and set boundaries with co-workers and play-partners. They take action and innovate. They have compassion for others and, more importantly, for themselves. They will forgive themselves and others of mistakes and excitedly make improvements. They go where no one has gone before. They dance like they are the song, itself. When they smile, their eyes shine like eternal candles and when they hug, you experience a lifetime of passion in just one moment. Happiness is not for the feeble of Heart. 

We who choose to walk the Happy road do so at first alone. You may take nothing with you along the Happy Road; treasures await but only for those whose soul along the way does not dissipate. Should you choose to follow us, I guarantee you will absolutely 300% lose friends. You lose them because they perhaps never were your friends anyway, though it may have felt to all involved that that was at the time the case. They leave because not everyone is ready to be Happy. It is not for everyone. The Great Happy is a powerful god; it always leads when on the dance floor and simply will not be nailed down, competed with, nor told what to do. Your reward is health, vitality, vigor, and effortless prosperity – but absolutely never in the way you might think! 

The intersection of Happy and Right are passed through often several – if not thousands – of times per day. Vigilance is required to make any kind of progress. I, like any other, can only speak from my experience. I’ve walked both roads to a point and have chosen to walk with the Happy. I wish you blessings upon the road that is best for you. 

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me. I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons. I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities. In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.” – Meryl Streep

Forbidden Tree

We are witnessing the end of an era. The economies that spawned the illusion of a brave new world are in shambles as currencies become little more than IOU slips. The adherents to religions that promised order and peace are wearing the Emperor’s clothes in ever-increasing numbers as their actions perpetuate instability, ignorance, and market driven warfare, while others splinter into hate-groups of all flags, colors, and creeds. Journalists are arrested in the West and beheaded in the Middle-East. Climate change is a rocketing up and down to a now-obvious degree that the United States government has deemed it a threat to national security. In some parts of the world, smoke from bullets and bombs are as familiar as Starbucks coffee-filled breezes are in others. We live in the Age of Apocalypse. For myself and others, this is a self-evident reality. Its the world into which I was born.

Now, for some background-

I was raised in Fundamentalist Evangelical Southern Baptist circles that preached self-perpetuated ignorance, hate, homophobia, and self-aggrandizement all in the name of a Jewish Rabbi who never wrote a single word. From age 3, I was mentally water-boarded with the Protestant Bible and politically convenient hard lines. I was taught catch-a-soul argument techniques as though they were Anglo-Saxon Jihad sleight of hand. I was drilled in biased history and drafted into isolationist the-world’s-out-to-get-you-propaganda saturated groupthink. I was trained in apologetics and street preaching and was in leadership over others learning the same. As a child, I wasn’t allowed to watch the TV show “Care Bears” because there was “magic” in it – because that’s the devil’s playground, you see. I was trained in how to approach someone from any world view and undermine their paradigm in such a way that, via fear, they would come crawling to my appropriated Hebrew-teacher-zombie-god and cast off their entire identity by closing their eyes and spitting some English words to our imaginary friends in the sky, earning them a cloud castle and ironclad heart-flagellating self-esteem via psycho-emotional fire insurance.

And we were very proud of this.

But I never felt whole. Behind the scenes, congregants were then and still are living in chronic depression, perpetuating multi-generational cycles of abuse, and employing shame and guilt as weapons of mass manipulation. Pleasure and pride of any kind were then and still are shot down as though they are stolen goods. Sex was simply how one made more soldiers and was certainly not to be enjoyed or talked about. This is reminiscent of so many Taliban/Hammas-esque training videos, but I was entrenched in this war-mongering in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Psycho-terrorism is an American tradition. Daniel Ashley Pierce’s chilling coming out video is sadly not an isolated incident. It simply displays what Queer folk have suffered through for centuries. In the name of “god,” people can justify any kind of behavior.

In my mid-teens, as I watched my peers’ and parents’ lives being torn apart by interpersonal troubles for which the “Good Book” supposedly had solutions, it began to dawn on me that something truly vital within my core had been battered and forced into arctic hibernation. I began to study the logic structure found within contemporary and classical biblical exegesis and deduced that, according to the Protestant Bible in its original languages, this Sky-Father ever-jealous bedouin tribal war deity named YHVH simply picked you before you were born for its team and if it didn’t, you were just out of luck and wouldn’t ever understand why you weren’t special anyway. The rest was theory and posturing.

Scholars can/will/have/do debate this until the cows come home and go back again, but I was done. The formulas didn’t compute for me. The Yeshua Mothership was 2,000 years late and people were hurting and hurting badly while the only connection I felt was a group-high from altar-call concerts. Switch out the MC, band, and venue, and the resulting happy-togetherness-feels would be the same. Mental illness and buried abuse was rampant and no one did a damned thing. There were neutral zones and well-intentioned folks scattered within, to be sure, and to this day I’m thankful for their friendship. However, it just didn’t cut it and I decided to go back to the one thing that never lied to me – my gut. My Sacred Gut – my Holy Fire within that didn’t need permission from anyone I could or couldn’t see to tell me the truth – I made it my Home once again. One by one, the scales fell from my eyes.

My Life began to be turned inside out and upside down, but for the better this time. For me, it was simply right side out! I found peace. I found accepting friends. I found family that didn’t hurt, shame, or try to control me because they “loved” me. I found comrades who affirmed my sovereignty over my own life, my own body, my own truth, my own heart, my own mind – my own Self. I began to understand what Home actually felt like, that it was a place where I felt energized and healed instead of hacked apart. I began to come back to life. It was then that I realized what made all the followers of the Hebrew Slave King truly tremble. I realized that I was raised in a mirror world that employed fear and pretense as its bricks and mortar.

By following my Inner Fire, I found Magic. I found Light. I found Holy Darkness. I found Beauty. I found Power. I found Love. I found Holy Lust. I found Ecstasy. I found…

Freedom.

I set sail. Igniting one’s Will and harnessing the powers of Transformation to make change in accordance with one’s will – reshaping the world around you – is very dangerous. It is dangerous because it works. The Earth is alive and we are part of it. I began to see in color for the first time.

I found Neopaganism in the NY Metro Area and entered Wiccan circles, learning from those more experienced than myself and comparing notes with others. I read all the books, from fluffy to sharp. I found and continue to find immense healing. I found balance. I no longer held my upbringing as the cause of any of my actions. My pure intuition directed my actions and I found a sense peace within myself that trumps any attempt to manipulate me via guilt, fear, or shame. Those tactics are now simply irrelevant to me when I stand in the sovereignty of my own spirit.

However, I’ve encountered a problem. To those who never spent time among busy-bodied back-biting pew-humpers, ahem…I mean malicious congregants of the milk-religions, it is very easy to not notice when one is shaming or peer-policing a fellow neopagan comrade due to inflated ego. Neopagan Reconstructionists traditions are, truth be told, less than two centuries old and were only note-worthy once put down on paper by a handful of individuals who, in my opinion, were self-aggrandizing and geek-flagging enough to pen things in the fashion that they, themselves, enjoyed and experimented with things being done! But before angry bedazzled wands get shaken in my direction, let me also say that without such boldness, none of us would enjoy electric light, flushing toilets, console gaming, contraception, rapid transit, rock concerts, or the internet – to name a few diabolical luxuries.

– A note on cultural appropriation – Make no mistake, I honor and respect traditions and lineages. I respect vocal deities by seeking them via the cultures from which they hail, honoring them in way they prefer to be honored, and, when possible, through the people initiated into their inner sanctums. I’m an artist and tend to find mathematics incredibly – ahem – taxing. So if someone who doesn’t know me and doesn’t think to ask my friends and intimates what I’d like as a gift and (since they’re so incredibly knowledgable) should happen to ignorantly gift me a “History of Algebra” textbook in an attempt to win my favor, then you bet your Banana Republics that I’d smite their post-imperial hind-parts and prohibit their name from spoken in my presence ever again. In my opinion, so it is with spiritual communities of differing ancestry. When in doubt, show respect.

Digressing, nothing infuriates me more than witches and neopagans who are self-described as liberated, wild, and Nature-based who, because of a need to control, will “correct” an ecstatic or intuitively performed piece of a public or group ritual because “that’s just not how its done.” For me, this is ignorance with boots on. To be blunt, the only reason anyone thinks they know “how its done” is because someone once-upon-a-time made up their own tradition and their peers liked it enough to repeat it. Historically, the individuals in question tended to be controversial.

Through coven initiation, for those who give a damn, I have Alexandrian Wicca ancestry. It makes little difference to me, because, for me, I do not identify as Wiccan. I am a Witcher – one who takes action informed by sound wisdom. I solve problems. I am not interested in impressing anyone with names and titles. Those who can feel will know me by how my energy affects them. The rest is simply me working to be more evolved and greater than I was yesterday. I call myself, “Luciferian.”

Within my Heart, I find kinship with the energy that radiates light in the darkness – that force that questions the status quo, who refuses to bow or splinter the gnosis that burns deeply within. The Slave King is no king of mine. I was born an emanation of illumination: beautiful, natural, whole. There is a teaching that we are all born broken and disgusting and I call it what I believe it to be: a greedy lie custom-built to oppress the many so the few may rule unquestioned. When trusted, honored, and appropriately appreciated, success-oriented people are simply more productive and exceed expectations. Fear-based training  and structure simply does not gross as much healthy profit as does a team-based affirmational environment.

Simply put, though I believe we all have lessons to learn and grow through trial and error, at our core, we all aspire to sustainability and innovation. Our animal survival mechanisms glitch this process when our health and safety are comprised. This is not “sin.” It is simply a manifestation of the fact that we are miniature stars exploding our compressed divine energy sourced from dead suns over the course of our lifetimes. I find this beautiful and as it should be. We are star dust and as such are kindred with the entire cosmos. I am Light and Darkness. I stand with they who bring the Light in a majestic dance of Life and Death – the Dance of Love. I have eaten of the Forbidden Tree and have found what so many fear: Home.