Facing Fear (Your Deepest, Innermost Fears around Love)

Sometimes the Dragons we must eventually face hide within the wilderness of our own hearts

Often in the pursuit of adventure and facing one’s terror amidst avalanching mountains and flooded whitewater rivers, one may forget the Hardest Work and the Greatest Challenges lay not at Death’s Door in the Wilderness but in being with people including those we love and those who love us. Much of the time, however, it’s face to face with the mirrors of your own self.

This speaks especially with those we love or used to love. Our most difficult practices arise within the relationships we form among ourselves, with other people, and especially our selves.

The greatest Dragon we must someday face is not some monster in a cave abiding over those hearts we treasure the most. No, the greatest Dragon is us as we face our own shame, anger, & fear, yes, fear of turning back around to look those Others in the eye and atone for the consequences of damaging our relationships with them. Perhaps the hardest work is facing those whom we have hurt and wronged. Oh, the messes I have made! And cleaned up, too. It’s a neverending process at first, and, over time, the more one practices the easiest such practices become.

“Everyone says love hurts, but that is not true. Loneliness hurts. Rejection hurts. Losing someone hurts. Envy hurts. Everyone gets these things confused with love but in reality, love is the only thing in the world that covers up all the pain and makes someone feel wonderful again. Love is the only thing in the world that does not hurt.” – Liam Neeson

So, yeah, listen up. Love doesn’t stop. Who turned it off? Stop pretending. Do the fucking work. Stay with the pain. Transmute it with breath and blood. Face me. Let me face you. Choose to keep on loving no matter what. Awaken into the Oneness we once shared and, yes, still exists. Whether or not you believe in Twin Flames and the Twin Flame blues is up to you, and besides, doesn’t change what we had felt so true. Keep the fire burning before the last flame blazes out taking with it every precious memory of what was & what almost could have been.

 

William Dudley Bass
Thursday 10 August 2017
SeaTac/Seattle, Washington
Cascadia

NOTE: The quoted statement from Liam Neeson was borrowed from Wild Earth @ http://wild-earth.tumblr.com/post/136230670895/everyone-says-love-hurts-but-that-is-not-true.

The image of the red dragon & heart is a Free Download from Public Domain Pictures, License CCO Public Domain, @ http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=4445&picture=dragon-heart.

This essay/cry out was first published to my Facebook page on the evening of Thursday the 10th of August 2017.

Copyright © 2017 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.

 

Arrival Arrives

A review without spoilers and names of prominence.

Saw the film, Arrival. Wow, what a movie! Opens up, takes apart, and recreates language, time, and sensations of consciousness. And without blowing shit up, either. Relationships are the pathways to connection as well as the results of connection. No, not pathways, fields, as in fields of connection. This movie is both cerebral and emotional and thus deeply engaging. At the center of it all, of everything really, is presence. Presence. Awareness and self-awareness. One becomes present to what is deeply precious.

For those who think they really know whom & what Cthulhu is, well, y’alla in for all manner of surprises. Plus Arrival‘s another in a line of fictional films rich with symbolisms of soft disclosure. If it’s not your cup of tea, well don’t drink the damn tea then & go experience the movie.

The premises of the film as serious science fiction aren’t new. Messin’ with perceptions of what is time, explorations of consciousness, and their affect on what is reality and how we humans relate to each other and everything else are staples of so-called “serious” or “literary” syfy. Wordsmiths will love the story’s inquiry into language and the relationship between language and reality. This merges into inquiries regarding such in the relationships between ourselves and especially with those we love. One may be reminded as I was of the late ethnobotanist and psychedelic pioneer Terence McKenna’s observations of language and how the mind uses language to create and define what it perceives as reality.

A close friend, a mother with kids of her own, attended the show with me here in Seattle. She was blown away and moved to tears. Later she helped me fill in what I thought were gaps in my understanding due to my profound hearing impairment. My new hearing aids helped tremendously, and yet they don’t match the capacity of healthy ears and brain. What I discovered was there wasn’t anything to hear. I was so focused on hearing I missed the body language and the temporal-visual language of pictures moving at certain key points. In addition I was confronted with my own inner contradiction: I disliked nonlinear temporal constructs and prefer neatly organized compartmentalization of flow, yet by undoing all of those allows for breakthroughs in consciousness revealing deeper understandings of truth, reality, and ultimately my self.

Yeah, take someone by the hand and dive on into the Dreamtime. Thy minds shall open time.

 

William Dudley Bass
November 2016
Seattle, Washington
United States of America
Bioregion of Cascadia
Planet Earth
Sol Star

Note:
Adapted from my Facebook post of Tuesday 15 November 2016 & revised Friday 25 November 2016.

 

Copyright © 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.

 

All is One

All iOne 

by

 One of Many

 

*

 

7

Seven Practices, for now.

* We are One.

* Accept everything.

* Know our minds create all beliefs.

* Forgive everyone.

* Love everyone.

* Respect all things.

* Serve life.

Continue reading “All is One” »

UFO Gone

Ships of Mind?

Sketches made by the author the evening of the same day he witnessed the UFO over Seattle.

Sketches made by the author the evening of the same day he witnessed the UFO over Seattle.

Close up of one of the author's sketches of the UFO he saw on 9 September 2015.

Close up of one of the author’s sketches of the UFO he saw on 9 September 2015.

I saw a UFO today. Quickly. Clearly. Briefly. Boom! It was over there. Now thatta way! It’s moving around across the sky. Oh! Now it’s spinning and performing loops and changing shape. Whoa! Now it’s… Boom! Gone. UFO = Unidentified Flying Object. No sign of it anywhere. And it’s not a drone. Drones do not wink out of existence, as orbs do, and it’s too big for a drone. Unless cloaking technology is developed enough to hide ships in flight. This silver triangle looked like a mechanical craft, performed normal actions such as flying in a straight line, and crazy actions such as spinning around in loops. Then this UFO did the unexpected as it changed shaped and winked out of the sky.

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Headless Sally

Ghost Hunting amid the Echoes of Tragedy and Carnage at Saylor’s Creek

Midnight came and went across the woods and fields of a 118-year old Civil War battlefield. With a firm grip on powerful flashlights turned off, we crept along the edge of the bridge and peered downstream into the darkness for ghosts. Well, for a specific ghost in particular, a ghost named Headless Sally. The three of us stood there in the dark feeling stupid and scared all at once. It was cold, too, down there in the damp mini-valley of Saylor’s Creek. A full moon hung in the sky casting shadows through trees and thickets leafless in Winter.

Earlier during the day we had agreed to hunt for Headless Sally under a full moon in a relatively clear and calm night sky. Luna draws out the madness in people, draws out mindless ghosts questing about on soulless autopilot, the objects of long-faded desires lost to spiritual dementia. And here we were, three Witches of Silverwood, leaning over the bridge railing facing downstream looking for the ghost of a floating head or perhaps her headless torso. We were confident of our abilities to protect ourselves against harmful or mischievous spirit entities. Besides, we figured after midnight on a cold weeknight there would be far less traffic on a lonely country road to disturb our focus than earlier in the day or on a weekend.

We have visited with ghosts nearby at the Hillsman Farmhouse at the epicenter of the Battle of Saylor’s Creek. Fought on Thursday 6 April 1865, as heavy rains fell and the creek rose, the fields, woods, creeks, and farms were the scene of a ferocious and savage three-part battle between Confederates and Federals. American Civil War combat was often at close quarters with severe injuries from up-close discharges of firearms and artillery as well as hand-to-hand fighting.

The Hillsman home was occupied by the Federals and used as a battlefield hospital. The family and servants there were forced downstairs into the basement, but afterwards helped dig mass graves for the dead. I don’t know if the “servants” were Black slaves, lowly-paid Whites, or White indentured servants. Indentured servants as an institution, shockingly enough, endured in the U.S.A. until 1917, long after slavery itself was legally abolished. Few narratives from Civil War battles more than mentioned the presence of slaves as if they were a bothersome afterthought.

The medical staff operated on screaming Union and Confederate wounded without question. Stories were told of so many amputations deemed necessary as the gory battle unfolded, the pile of severed limbs and body parts tossed out the windows reached up to the windowsills. Soft lead Minié ball bullets tore large holes through soft tissue and shattered bones. Cannons firing loaded canisters bursting with lead and iron balls packed in sawdust mowed down troops on both sides.

Sanitation was unknown, and this lack of hygiene helped generate severe rates of infections such as gangrene. Doctors and nurses, including surgeons, may care for their patients and feel passionate for their professions, yes. Their knowledge and technologies, unfortunately, were surprisingly Medieval during what many historians consider the first Modern, Industrial Age war. No wonder so many ghosts haunted the area. Sally, however, didn’t die in the war.

Continue reading “Headless Sally” »

The Lost Creek Monster

Did a Sasquatch tear up the woods between two Virginia farms?

The mystery of this strange event has never been solved. Recent scientific discoveries and claims, however, may provide the inquisitive with clues.

It’s springtime in Virginia. The year is either 1967 or 1968, and possibly as late as 1972. My memory of time and dates from long-ago events are a little hazy these days. Not the incidents and sequences of events, however long ago they occurred. These events are crystal clear in the “documentary film” of my memories.

A giant and mysterious beast went berserk in the woods shared by two intermarried family farms. The destruction was extensive and required immediate repair. We farmers kept our herds of cows and heifers separate to prevent them from getting all mixed up. Both farms had planned to turn loose their herds into adjacent fields separated by the fences along Lost Creek. Compounding the mystery was odd feeling the destruction appeared to be far more playful than malicious. Or perhaps it was a warning?

Maybe there was more than one entity. Perhaps a small family of these unknown monsters was responsible for the bizarre rampage. At the time people, adults as well as us kids, thought a tornado was the most likely culprit even if a tornado made no sense at all as there were no storms. So we imagined a giant, troll-like creature and named it the Lost Creek Monster. We certainly hoped if there really was such a beast there was only one at most. Feeling a bit superstitious, we nonetheless prayed the monster would leave us alone. Especially if it was the Devil. But we were just as afraid of God.

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Out of My Body and Across the Sea

Once I had an OBE, an Out-of-Body-Experience, and flew across the sea. There were a few times I am certain I had other OBEs, one bordering on a NDE or Near-Death Experience. This particular OBE had one significant difference, though, that distinguished it from all the others. As of March 2013, this event remains the only time I managed to intentionally astral travel. All of my other OBEs were unintentional and spontaneous. This particular astral journey was startling in its clarity. I remember it vividly many years later as if it happened yesterday.

During my time as a Wiccan, I was exposed to a number of practices and paranormal phenomena at odds with mainstream orthodox science. Among these were strange “things” called astral projection, astral travel, or out-of-body experiences. They are different terms for the same phenomena. One could dismiss such things as magical thinking, a level of psycho-spiritual and socio-cultural evolutionary development considered inferior. Magical thinking is a cluster of different religious and psychological belief systems wrapped up in elements of what many deride as “superstition.”

The one primary distinction shared within this cluster is the idea thinking certain thoughts either intentionally or unintentionally generates actions and events in the outer or “real” world of matter and energy. Research into psychic phenomena and brain waves demonstrate the power of focused mental energy to affect change in the environment beyond the body. Meditation, prayer, casting spells, calling down old Deities, and focused ESP represent different examples of focused mental power.

There is still much to learn regarding the mysteries of consciousness. The experience of Afterlife beings raises questions about definitions of life, especially beyond biological death. None of this mattered to those who feared for my soul, however, as they were sure these “things” were real. My Fundamentalist Christian friends and a few family members swore I was deluded by the Devil and flying straight down into Hell.

One afternoon, however, regardless of Heaven or Hell or the Levels In Between, I faced my fears and deliberately left my body for what proved to be an exciting adventure.

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Doppelganger Among the Cows

Once I saw a doppelganger, although I wasn’t aware of it until the next day. This mysterious event still baffles my mind. Strange and still unresolved questions were raised for which “hoax” would be the easiest yet least likely answer. There are questions regarding the possibility for the bilocation of matter, especially biological organisms, at high levels of material cohesion. Can a person split themselves at will or unconsciously? Other questions provoke inquiries into the evidence consciousness extends beyond our living bodyminds as well as continues, at least for a while, after death. One may speculate as well upon the spiritual ramifications of doppelgangers.

I was not the only witness that warm, sunny afternoon. First, however, what is a doppelganger? Yeah, what the heck is that? And is it dangerous? There’s no way this was a hoax. Well, a hoax is highly unlikely. I’ll explain why further down in this article.

Doppelgangers have existed in myths and legends since Ancient Times. I’d never given the phenomena much attention or credibility prior to this event. Yet my wife and I and others witnessed a doppelganger. Later that afternoon, one man even worked unknowingly alongside this doppelganger. When the man discovered he had done so, he freaked out and prayed feverishly to God so he wouldn’t be snatched up by the Devil and flung down into the fires and stench of Hell.

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Valentine’s Lupercalia and the Death of Love at the End of the World

LOVE

LOVE IS.

LOVE IS LIFE.

LOVE IS POWER.

LOVE IS DIVINE.

is god love ? is love god ? and goddess ?

or is love merely a human attribute projected upon an imagined image of deity ?

 If indeed God is Love and Love is God, can Love love?

We humans make messes of Love.

Such as celebrating our lust as things fall apart.

Ancient Pagan Festival of Lupercalia

Saint Valentine’s Day

Blood and Life

Birth and Death

One Love

Many People

Valentine’s Day

Armageddon of the Heart

Bereft of a Lover, she reads alone in the chill of February. It is the only way she knows to escape from her pain without dulling her soul.

Bereft of a Lover, she reads alone in the chill of February. It is the only way she knows to escape from her pain without dulling her soul.

Ruins of Ancient, Postmodern Lupercalian Sex Machines too broken down to fuck this lovely Valentine's Day Night.

Ruins of Ancient, Postmodern Lupercalian Sex Machines too broken down to fuck this lovely Valentine’s Day Night.

The air changes all who breathe. Breathing changes love. It all changes you. Air is life. Air is death. Breathing fuels every cell to live. Gaia yearns for Cernunnos to merge and spawn. Goddess gives birth to more Gods who work with Prometheus to mold our flesh deep in the ovens of the Holy Sun. Soul cleaves with Spirit to penetrate matter. Life blossoms from energy and emerges across the Universe. Enchanted with life, Sophia birthed forth Demiurge. Ignorant, isolated, and bereft of LOVE, he grew increasingly malevolent. Demiurge thundered forth to create his universe of worlds and battled the Higher God of Love and Creation for domination of the Earth. Humans were terrified, confused, and forced into believing Demiurge was the only God to worship. Sophia was forgotten along with Gaia and every other Goddess. The entire Universe screamed in protest, a scream we still hear as we listen to the electromagnetic shrieking of Matter across time and space. A most wicked and capricious Demiurge tormented all his creations as he raged and cried out for and against a Mother he hasn't known since birth. Demiurge set himself up on a giant throne to toy with and destroy bit by bit his own creations and smeared all others Divine as of the Devil. As the true Shaitan, Demiurge hid the truth from men and from women of his hideous yet powerful Imposition. Only Love will transform this Devil God, and it must be Love wrapped in kindness and compassion backed by the strength of billions of strong, resilient spines.

The air changes all who breathe. Breathing changes love. It all changes you. Air is life. Air is death. Breathing fuels every cell to live. Gaia yearns for Cernunnos to merge and spawn. Goddess gives birth to more Gods who work with Prometheus to mold our flesh deep in the ovens of the Holy Sun. Soul cleaves with Spirit to penetrate matter. Life blossoms from energy and emerges across the Universe. Enchanted with life, Sophia birthed forth Demiurge. Ignorant, isolated, and bereft of LOVE, he grew increasingly malevolent. Demiurge thundered forth to create his universe of worlds and battled the Higher God of Love and Creation for domination of the Earth. Humans were terrified, confused, and forced into believing Demiurge was the only God to worship. Sophia was forgotten along with Gaia and every other Goddess. The entire Universe screamed in protest, a scream we still hear as we listen to the electromagnetic shrieking of Matter across time and space. A most wicked and capricious Demiurge tormented all his creations as he raged and cried out for and against a Mother he hasn’t known since birth. Demiurge set himself up on a giant throne to toy with and destroy bit by bit his own creations and smeared all others Divine as of the Devil. As the true Shaitan, Demiurge hid the truth from men and from women of his hideous yet powerful Imposition. Only Love will transform this Devil God, and it must be Love wrapped in kindness and compassion backed by the strength of billions of strong, resilient spines.

Continue reading “Valentine’s Lupercalia and the Death of Love at the End of the World” »

Call of the Divine down by the Clothesline

Our culture is riven with wounds. The linguistic tapestries woven from many of our stories arise from psychological, emotional, social, and physical trauma. Ken Woodley, a man who once attended the same small, all-male college as I did went on to advocate for deep racial and social healing between Blacks and Whites in Virginia and across America. From his position as Editor of The Farmville Herald, the local newspaper in Prince Edward County where he still works, he once stated, “We are not responsible for a lot of the wounds we find, but we can be responsible for the healing.”

Healing of such magnitude begins with awareness and presence. Healing of any kind demands such presence. Awareness begins with waking up. Dreams aren’t any good unless you wake up to take action to make your dreams come true.

I remember when I first woke up.

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Goat-Headed Devil in a Black Tuxedo

Ancient image of Cernunnos on the silver Gundestrop Cauldron created by Celtic craftsmen during the European Iron Age. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

Ancient image of Cernunnos on the silver Gundestrop Cauldron created by Celtic craftsmen during the European Iron Age. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

A Modern image of the Horned God of the Wiccans dispayed in the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall, the UK. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

A Modern image of the Horned God of the Wiccans dispayed in the Museum of Witchcraft in Cornwall, the UK. Photo from Wikipedia Commons.

 

What transpired is true and cannot be proven.

Once upon a time in the deep dark of night my first wife Margaret and I walked in the door of our home and saw a goat-headed devil sitting in the chair watching us with his legs crossed and his hands in his lap. Scared the bejesus out of us, too. We didn’t know what in Hell this creature was other than it was male. He certainly challenged our religious, psycho-spiritual, and cultural upbringing.

Thick, smoky fog oozed through the woods and draped the open fields. Down the hill beyond the bluffs snaked Big and Little Sandy Rivers. It wasn’t too cold, but the damp chill made the fog drip with hypothermia. Margaret and I arrived home close to midnight. We’d been out at a gathering celebrating Goddess and God with the other Witches of Silverwood Circle. Our group was a Neo-Pagan Celtic Wiccan coven in Prince Edward County, Virginia.

My wife, well, she was my first wife, was the Inner Flamenca or High Priestess of Silverwood. Our close friend, Paul, was the Inner Flamen or High Priest. We preferred “Inner” instead of  “High” to promote ideas of going deep into the mysteries rather than someone being superior above others. The terms “flamen” and “flamenca” derived from Latin words for Roman priests and priestesses responsible for the sacred flames of Gods and Goddesses. They’re not as common in Wiccan usage these days, but some Celtic Wiccans preferred the Roman words to distinguish themselves from Neo-Celtic Druids.

The closer we approached our home the colder and clammier everything seemed. We felt open psychically, perhaps too much so, for we had relatively little training in the arts of psychic and spiritual self-defense. We were beginning to encounter spiritual entities for which we were unprepared to meet.

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Ghosts and Hauntings at the Old Bass Family Farmhouse

 

Old Bass Family Farmhouse on a visit to Virginia from Seattle, December 2005. Foto by William Bass.

Old Bass Family Farmhouse on a visit to Virginia from Seattle, December 2005. Foto by William Bass.

A ghost, yes, an invisible ghost, scared me nearly all to pieces once upon a time back when I was a little kid. I was young, so you can laugh if you wanna, but I was well read and smart, too for being such a squirt. The way that ol’ ghost stomped down the hallway of an old farmhouse in my direction freaked me out. Made my big Frankenstein hearing aid SCREAM. I could hear this ghost, too. I could feel it, feel both the vibrations of the stomps and the cold blob of air moving along with it.

I was a young boy back in the mid-to-late1960s sometime. I don’t remember how many years old I was or what grade I attended in school. What I do recall, however, was the weather. It was Summertime. Lush, green Summertime! It must’ve been between grades. I reckon I was in late elementary school or maybe even early middle. Not sure. But it was Summer that I know. And a ghost scared the bedoobus outa my insides. This true story began late one afternoon.

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Running Towards the Quiet Roar of the Dharma

I felt swallowed by suffering into the giant maw of a monstrous lion. Over the past few years I’ve lost almost everything but life, and even that was in question at times. In the midst of such suffering I learned to run towards the roar, the roaring of lions mute with fear and rage and cravings. I had to learn to do so or else the Grim Reaper would hug me with his scythe. I learned to run towards the quiet roar, the quiet ROAR of the Dharma, to stay present to the miracle of my life.

An unusual compression of numerous losses traumatized me more than I would like to admit. I even ended up semi-homeless for two months and staying with friends for a few more. I say “semi-homeless” because I lived out of a tent pitched back in the bushes behind three enormous woodpiles and a Native American sweat lodge with access to the facilities of a nearby house. All in the middle of urban North Seattle. In each moment I was awake I ran and sometimes stumbled towards that quiet roar, that quiet ROAR of the Dharma.

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Inner Shifts of Being

Sunset from the bluffs while gazing across the Sound toward the Olympics. Richmond Beach Park, Shoreline, Washington, Sunday 23 September 2012. Foto by William Dudley Bass.

Sunset from the bluffs while gazing across the Sound toward the Olympics. Richmond Beach Park, Shoreline, Washington, Sunday 23 September 2012. Foto by William Dudley Bass.

Something has shifted in me recently. What has shifted is I’ve lost my taste to speak harshly of others.

During the unexpected challenges of recent years I almost crumbled. The past few months were particularly difficult emotionally and financially. I could’ve sunk deeper into cynicism and bitterness and wallowed in apathy and self-pity. Instead I found the strength and the courage to pivot into a field where there are no paths. My life was my own to choose. My life was mine to live.

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Spirit & Soul as Apocalypse Approaches

Inspired Notes from Working with Michael Meade

“Forget the Enlightenment,” Michael Meade said as he came out swinging. “We’ve now entered into an Age of Endarkenment.”

In early November of 2009 I visited Port Townsend with my friend Michael Scott Brooks, called Scott by those who know him, to hear Michael Meade. Port Townsend is a beautiful place, a progressive town where liberals thrive amid isolation. It’s at the tip of a peninsula on a peninsula and a ferry ride followed by a long drive from Seattle even though as the crow flies it’s fairly close by. The waters of the Salish Sea surround it with views to mountains all around. Olympic National Park squats in massive diversity behind a veil of hills. The workshops were held in the local Unitarian Universalist church, itself a bastion of self-proclaimed “liberal religion.”

Scott’s a friend of mine who facilitates Men’s Work in the mythopoetic vein of Robert Bly and Michael Meade. Although not as well known as they are, he’s an amazing man in his own right, a survivor who transcended deep trauma, and is still in training. Scott’s a master of ritual and an intuitive healer who brooks no nonsense. He cuts through bullshit with rigorous lovingkindness in a way I’ve seen very few people do. As I’ve written before, Scott transcends the boxes many contemporary Men’s groups try to put us into. Instead, he grounds himself in the timeless wisdom of indigenous human beings.

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Dreaming in the Quiet of the Storm as God Burned Holy

In the eye of a fierce storm I came face to face with God on fire. Well, almost face to face. God burned Holy, and I didn’t even realize it at the time. Michael Meade and his mythopoetic work have weighed on my mind since I first encountered him over two weeks ago here in Washington State. I signed up for his intensive workshop on Saturday, December 5, 2009 over on Vashon Island, “The Holy Thread of Dreams: Mythic Imagination and the Dreaming Mind.”

My friend Michael Scott Brooks turned me on to him earlier this month, and it’s been a ride ever since as I’ve discovered this extraordinary mythopoetic teacher and storyteller literally right next door. Soul and Spirit danced and battled with each other beneath the sweeping glare of Science and Reason.

I awoke from a dream this morning, this dream:

“It felt long ago into the future, and it was past midnight on a cold autumn night. The Salish Sea was dark and stormy with chop. Our boat carried us through the waves across the waters. I sat in the boat with other people, others who felt familiar but whose faces I could not see in the darkness. Our boat was an old-fashioned rowboat, a dory, with an oil lantern fixed high upon the bow.

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Last Night I Dreamed of a Dead Woman from Long Ago

Six nights ago I dreamed about a long-dead friend and have felt obsessed about it ever since. Just finished looking at old pictures of her I found in dusty high school yearbooks. She graduated in June of 1976 a year ahead of me. Her name was Jo Anne.

We didn’t hang out much at all in high school. We became friends many years later after she tracked me down to Richmond, the capital city of Virginia, where I lived and attended grad school in the mid-1980s. She wasn’t my girlfriend. We were never lovers. More like I was her confidante – we were buddies and pen pals there for a while. Before she died.

We were both rural kids bussed from the far corners of Prince Edward County into the town of Farmville, where we attended high school in the south-central part of Virginia. She was a wild beauty who once stood up and shouted out in the one class we ever shared, “If it feels good, do it!” Followed by a big, goofy laugh.

The rest of us fool kids giggled and either nodded our heads in agreement or shook it like “She’s crazy, crazier than us, like rilly crazy.” I did all three. Jo Anne was tall and slender with long, black hair. She carried herself with an air of crazy confidence, reminding me sometimes of that zany Swedish character Pippi Longstocking. Art was among her favorite subjects, and she was known to be quite imaginative with both pen and brush. Back then I was way too shy to do anything but laugh with her and admire her daredevilry.

Ten or twelve years later, after I had already graduated from high school then college, been married and divorced, moved to the city, and was buried into my first intense year of graduate school, Jo Anne looked me up and found me. She got my contact info from my parents back on the farm in Prince Edward. She knocked on my apartment door where I lived down in The Fan, the Bohemian part of Olde Richmond Town. I opened my door, and she came on in and sat down. Just like that. Out of the blue.

I had to hold my breath and pretend nothing was the matter. She had warned me, but it was still a shock. She was all broken up from a terrible automobile accident. Or maybe it was a motorcycle wreck? I just don’t remember now. But she had a severe limp, was kind of hunched over, and had lost an eye and part of her face. Her voice was husky and whispery, as the accident had damaged her neck and throat. She was still beautiful in a ghostly way, and it was clear she was struggling with it all even as she tried to dismiss it all as another “just what happened, life goes on” kind of thing.

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On Living, Dying, Death, Loss, Grief, Ghosts, and Moving On

The events of my father’s death followed by my mother’s and all that arose afterwards were pivotal events in my life. They are, I would imagine, for the majority of human beings around the world. My writings on these topics took place over time and have evolved into the narrative contained within the following series of essays, ruminations, photographs, and poems.

Death is an everyday aspect of life, and yet in our culture perhaps the least visited, the least discussed, the most disturbing, the most feared, and the most liberating. Bereft of a cultural web of community grief and loss, we nowadays hurry the dying out of view and the dead into the ground or into an urn or whatever just so we can get back to what we really have reduced our lives to: being too busy. In the process of freeing ourselves up to be so busy we have unwittingly robbed ourselves of something intimate, indeed of something which can be a rich affirmation of life and purpose.

Loosely I lump the following as my “Death of my Parents” canon, and it’s much more than the deaths of Mom and Dad. Each is fully self-contained, although they do flow one to the other. Some are long, while others are short. Most have photographs, some don’t, and a few have lots and lots of pictures. I list them below in the chronology of which I published them on my website, William Dudley Bass on Earth at the Brink, although as with blogs they show up in reverse order with the last one posted at the top.

I invite you to dive on in and join me on a certain timed yet timeless odyssey.

1. “Death with Father,” http://williamdudleybass.com/death-father.

2. “My Mom & Death,” http://williamdudleybass.com/mom-death.

3. “During My Mother’s Dying,” http://williamdudleybass.com/mothers-dying.

4. “Mom Passes On: Ruminations,” http://williamdudleybass.com/mom-passes-on-ruminations.

5. “The Morning After We Buried Mom,” http://williamdudleybass.com/morning-buried-mom.

6. “Daddy’s Ghost,” http://williamdudleybass.com/daddys-ghost.

7. “Barreling Across America with my Daughter Morgan,” http://williamdudleybass.com/barreling-america.

8. “Dad’s Old Chair,” http://williamdudleybass.com/dads-old-chair.

Thank you, dear Readers.

 

William Dudley Bass
5 March 2012
Seattle, Washington
http://williamdudleybass.com

 

Copyright © 2012, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.

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Titanomachius

Blindfolded,
Justice springs unbalanced
From swinging scales
Of Judgment.

Revealed,
Our Totem Animals
Emerge from Id
As jackals and hyenas
Eating puppies.

Twelve Titans all,
We devour ourselves
In cannibalistic incest.

Amok beyond Tartarus,
Sired by excess of heart
Our skeletal hands
Rise with Chthonic howls
To clasp your lips
And with Cultish frenzy
Pull YOU back
Into Abyss.

 

William Dudley Bass
2007, 2008, 2012
Seattle, Washington

NOTE: This was originally handwritten for the Counseling Practicum as we wrestled with the moral dilemma of how to respond to someone who refused to participate in violation of his or her commitment to participate. It was first published on my earlier website created as homework for that same Practicum, my blog Cultivate and Harvest, on Wednesday, November 19, 2008, at http://cultivateandharvest.blogspot.com/2008/11/titanomachius.html. Eventually I revised and reposted it here on my new website/blog this January 2012 as the Author. Thank you.

 

Copyright © 2007, 2008, 2012, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.

*

 

 

Dad’s Old Chair

Poetic Ruminations from sitting in my dead Daddy’s favorite chair:

One morning in March
I go and find my father’s
Old green recliner and sit in it.
My dog sits at my feet
As my beloved sleeps
down the hall in the bed.
The old chair is cozy and warm.
No wonder my dad used to sleep in it.

I sit and stare out the window
At spring snow melting away,
At ponderosa pines, white birches,
Cottonwoods and old stumps.
Blue emptiness fills mountain skies
Out here in the Washington Cascades.

It would be an alien landscape to my father,
Who died three years and over three months ago.
My brother was spooked by the chair;
Thought it haunted, kind of, and asked me to take it.
Said it smelled too much of Dad.
That chair traveled over three thousand miles
From an old farmhouse in Virginia
To a new western lodge in Washington,
From the Sandy River to the Wenatchee.

Once or twice I thought I sensed my dad back in his chair,
Just left-over energy, an echo of a cherished memory.
Mom’s nurses swore they saw his ghost at least twice;
I wanted to see his ghost, too,
But never did.
My father moved on after Mom joined him beyond Death.

As I sit in my Dad’s old chair
With a dog insisting on being petted,
Pushing its head and lifted paw into my lap,
I surrender to God.
My ego battles with the Divine
Not owning its divinity.
I pray, meditate, contemplate the future.
And as I gaze out the window
I miss my Dad.

 

William Dudley Bass
March 2008
March 2012
Seattle, Washington

NOTE: Originally published on my old website Cultivate and Harvest, on Thursday 13 November 2008 at http://cultivateandharvest.blogspot.com/2008/11/dads-old-chair.html, then re-published here this 4 March 2012 with my permission as the Author. Thank you.

Copyright © 2008, 2012, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.

*

 

Daddy’s Ghost

As Momma lay dying of cancer, my father’s ghost was sighted at least twice. The home care ladies and nurses who saw him, however, begged me not to have that advertised back then as they didn’t want to be regarded as nuts or superstitious. Or maybe even lose their jobs. Who the hell would want to hire crazy people who see ghosts to take care of the dying?

Once a woman who worked in my parents’ home as a home care nurse was bent over cleaning the floor where my mother had just thrown up on the carpet. She glanced up and there he was. Bill Bass himself. His ghost, anyway. He stood there in the corner with his hands clasped in front of his privates like he used to do back in real life, looking down at her scrubbing the rug. It was clear as daylight that ghost was Bill Bass, and you could see right through him, too. The moment he realized she saw him, my father’s ghost moved quickly and disappeared in a flash of nothingness. Spooked the shit out of the lady on the floor. She wanted to go home!

A second time he was sighted by a different person standing next or behind my mother in their master bedroom where my Mom laid in a hospital bed. The woman who saw Daddy’s ghost declared it felt he was waiting for Momma to die and being a little bit impatient about it, too. She said it had a distinct feeling to it. It felt as if he was thinking “Dot, what’s taking you so long?” At my mom’s funeral the minister alluded to this incident somewhat obliquely. But my Dad is a warrior, apparently in death as well as in life, and while so impatient when things got serious proved to be the most patient one of all. Again, the moment that ol’ ghost realized he had dropped his invisibility cloak or whatever it was, he disappeared from biological view in a heartbeat. Snap! Gone, just like that.

My mother never commented on ever seeing a ghost. “Oh, I wouldn’t want to,” she once said with a shudder. “It would scare me to death.”

Continue reading “Daddy’s Ghost” »

The Morning After We Buried Mom

Breathing in Ghosts

Breathing in Ghosts

Sunday 19 November 2006

The morning after we buried my Mother
Dawn opened up the day with mist and gray
I stood on the porch of my sister’s new house
Cold upon the lake
Remembering the chill of touching
Momma’s lifeless hands and face
As a wall of fog gray as corpses
Shields trees and water from view
Birdcalls sparkle in the void
Bordered by clay red and torn
Edged with grass brown and wet
Fog glued together heaven and earth,
Sky and lake, and turned bone-white
And as the sun rose above skeletal trees
The fog began to move and churn
Across waters stilled before the sun’s return
Unstaked wild life’s hunger for warm bright light
November brings paleness to shortened days
And time ebbs and flows
The moment recedes into the past
Memories become as fog
And all things die
As it’s just another day
As it’s just another day
And it’s just another day
Just
Another
Day
Before darkness returns to take us Home.

 

A Prose Poem

William Dudley Bass
19 November 2006
16 January 2007
Revised 29 February 2012
Rice, Virginia &
Seattle, Washington

Two Comments from the Original Posting from the older website:

True North said…Ahhh William, thank you…I have just come home from working downtown today, hung up my suit, brewed a coffee and opened your blog…my heart shrugs off the dense energy of cement and iron, unmanacles and expands into the depth and vision of your words…ahh, now I will read on…Cindy

A Flower For All Seasons said…So wonderful to hear your poet’s voice William. To touch the timeless through your eyes and breath. And a lovely feeling of anticipation as I choose to read only one entry on any given day, knowing that each time I visit here your voice will awaken something in me that will take me who knows where… Wendy

NOTE: This was originally published in my oldest blog, Cultivate and Harvest, on Tuesday 16 January 2007, at http://cultivateandharvest.blogspot.com/2007/01/morning-after-we-buried-mom.html, and reprinted here this January 2012 with my permission as the Author. I also copied comments from two of my colleagues from the Robert Augustus Masters’ Psycho-Spiritual Counseling Practicum we were in at the time. Thank you.

Copyright © 2006, 2007, 2012, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.

*

Mom Passes On: Ruminations

Mom Passes On...

Mom Passes On…

Death is chaotic. So are funerals.

It was indeed a dark and stormy night when the phone buzzed with news from over 3,000 miles away. It was Wednesday the 15th of November 2006, my brother’s birthday. That wasn’t what the news was about, though. Waves of cold chills dashed across my body. I steeled myself to see my Mother’s ghost.

There wasn’t, however, anything remotely ghostly amid the crashing storm. And yet I was certain, grimly certain…there was something, faint and fluttery like a quick-darting butterfly, that was there, right there, and gone, nothing more, as if there never was any such beating of ghostly wings. In the darkness of pounding rain and gusty gales I wasn’t quite prepared to be scared out of my wits. After all, I wasn’t even properly dressed to greet Momma’s Ghost unless you considered a 47-year old birthday suit appropriate for such a passage.

Mom had been battling cancer since 2003. “Battling cancer” doesn’t even begin to describe the war itself. It is far more than the appearance of cancer cells and invasive tumors that seek to hijack and consume the body. The immune system degrades. Diet and nutrition suffers. Repeat secondary infections by bacteria, fungi, and viruses do tremendous damage and like squads of vicious hit men end up doing the killing. There’s the emotional, neurological, and psychological toll. There’s an enormous social toll and the rippling impact on family, friends, neighbors, and businesses, essentially all of one’s relations.

Cancer itself is an umbrella term for a messy web of mysterious diseases with multiple causes that mutate into one monster after another. And though a lot of folks are not always comfortable with the curious topic of money, cancer extorts a staggering financial cost. Is it any wonder we apply military terms to “dis-ease?” And perhaps, as humanity comes through millennia of slaughter to finally confront the useless futility of war, it is time we too consider embracing cancer and its runaway cells with something other than mortal combat. But war is the approach my feisty old mother chose.

Continue reading “Mom Passes On: Ruminations” »

During My Mother’s Dying

Little Dottie Wottie Totsie, age 2 or 3, Virginia, 1933.

Little Dottie Wottie Totsie, age 2 or 3, Virginia, 1933.

Dot Ussery, age 16 or 17, Blacksburg, VA. 1948.

Dot Ussery, age 16 or 17, Blacksburg, Virginia, 1948.

The Marriage of Dot & Bill, Blacksburg, VA. 22 August 1953.

The Marriage of Dot & Bill, Blacksburg, VA. 22 August 1953.

Golfing away the Summer of 1958...L2R: Ussery cousin & 3 Ussery sisters Dot, Marianna, & Nancy, Blacksburg, Virginia.

Golfing away the Summer of 1958…L2R: Ussery cousin & 3 Ussery sisters Dot, Marianna, & Nancy, Blacksburg, Virginia.

Proud Momma Dot & her children. L2R: William Dudley (me), Joe David, & Beth Bass, Rice, Virginia. 1970. Foto by my Dad (William M. Bass).

Proud Momma Dot & her children. L2R: William Dudley (me), Joe David, & Beth Bass, Rice, Virginia. 1970. Foto by my Dad (William M. Bass). I have a vague memory of not being exactly thrilled as I was told to do something and didn’t hear it or understand or didn’t want to in reaction. Joe’s mind is churning with observations, and my sister’s happy smile looks amazingly similar to that of my oldest daughter at times. Momma had her hands, full, too. So did Daddy.

Mom at 53 in Happier Days, Riverview Farm, Rice, VA. She's leaning over the bed of our old red Ford pickup truck with the unoccupied original Bass Family Farmhouse still standing behind her. October 1984. Foto by William D. Bass.

Mom at 53 in Happier Days, Riverview Farm, Rice, VA. She’s leaning over the bed of our old red Ford pickup truck with the unoccupied original Bass Family Farmhouse still standing behind her. October 1984. Foto by William D. Bass.

Blurry with Drink! Dot at the Pub, Bristol, England, UK. Summer of 1997.

Blurry with Drink! Dot at the Pub, Bristol, England, UK. Summer of 1997.

Near the End. Mom with Daughter Beth Bass Hinde and Granddaughter Allison. Late Summer 2006.

Near the End. Mom with Daughter Beth Bass Hinde and Granddaughter Allison. Late Summer 2006.

During My Mother’s Dying

Early July 2006. My Mother lays ill in the last cycle of her life after battling metastatic ovarian cancer for three years. Her name is Dorothy Elizabeth Ussery Bass. Most folks call her “Dot.” Although my home has been Seattle, Washington for quite some time, I am again in Virginia, the land where she gave birth to me, and feel compelled to write down the following impressions and chronicles:

Last night I slept ten and a half hours, awaking from a heavy dream combining aspects of Mt. Rainier, the Appalachian Trail, and my friends David and Tina from Richmond. The night before I slept only 3-4 hours. I got out of bed early and went for a walk, rambling around the farm and across the land. Did push-ups on the concrete apron of the old cow lane, my hands pushed down where cow shit used to pile up in boot-sucking quantities. Now the concrete runway’s been washed clean by the rains and bleached by the sun.

The most beautiful songs burst forth from songbirds perched up in treetops and on the barn roof cupolas. We don’t have songbirds much out West, they tend to thrive East of the Great Plains – they need deciduous forests. Astounding arrays of bird songs fill the morning air. The Virginia country air feels so cool in the morning, so cool but only because warm air is cooler than hot air. The temperature later shot up to a sweltering, humid 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Damn. People slow down. Dayum. Day-yumm. You walk with deliberation and a sense of conservation. People say it is unusual for such temperatures so soon. That’s August weather. Global Warning (sic, yes). Amid the dying of a matriarch I hear the songbird singing trail off into the blazing, hot Void.

Continue reading “During My Mother’s Dying” »

Death with Father

 

William M. "Bill" Bass, U.S. Navy, 1949-1952; Norfolk, VA. (Photo damaged in 2010 house fire.)

William M. “Bill” Bass, U.S. Navy, 1949-1952; Norfolk, VA. (Photo damaged in 2010 house fire.)

Dot & Bill, Playful Lovers, Blacksburg, Virginia. Summer of 1953.

Dot & Bill, Playful Lovers, Blacksburg, Virginia. Summer of 1953.

Dashing thru the Rice: Dot & Bill Bass leaving their Wedding for their Honeymoon, Saturday, August 22, 1953. Blacksburg, Virginia.

Dashing thru the Rice: Dot & Bill Bass leaving their Wedding for their Honeymoon, Saturday, August 22, 1953. Blacksburg, Virginia.

My Dad & I home on Riverview Dairy Farm, Rice, Virginia, March 1960. He's 30 years young, & I'm 11 months old. We had 44 more years together.

My Dad & I home on Riverview Dairy Farm, Rice, Virginia, March 1960. He’s 30 years young, & I’m 11 months old. We had 44 more years together.

Bill & Dot Bass, Rice, VA. Early 1980s.

Bill & Dot Bass at home in Rice, VA. Early 1980s.

Brothers Dudley & Joe Bass, Rice, VA. Joe's 18th Birthday Party, 15 November 1982. Photo damaged in March 2010 House Fire in Edmonds, WA.

Brothers Dudley & Joe Bass, Rice, VA. Joe’s 18th Birthday Party, 15 November 1982. Photo damaged in March 2010 House Fire in Edmonds, WA.

Brothers Joe & William Bass, Rice, VA. Christmas 2005, about a year after Dad's death, and our last together with Mom.

Brothers Joe & William Bass, Rice, VA. Christmas 2005, about a year after Dad’s death, and our last together with Mom.

Intro from July 2006: As a Prelude of sorts I first include sections from an email I wrote a few days after my father died early in the morning on Wednesday on the 1st of December 2004. At the time my life had fallen apart about a year earlier and I was bankrupt, divorced, unemployed, and half-mad. I was struggling in my relationship with Kristina and desperately trying to get my feet back on the ground. It was one of the worse times in my life, and a cauldron for eventual success. I was also deep in the Warrior Sage work and had not yet been disenchanted with the philosophies and practices of David Deida and his followers on the West Coast. July 2006.

Death with Father, November – December 2004

I am a rich man. I am blessed with an abundance of pain and growth and waking up and amazing things happening, a wealth of life experiences. It’s been rough. I sail my ship thru one storm after another, and it’s been rough. My stomach heaves as each swell rolls underfoot and each rogue wave washes the decks clean for each new beginning every moment.

Dad died early Wednesday morning in the ER. It was bitter cold and the third anniversary of my partnership with my fiancé Kristina Katayama. My brother Joe and I were up all fucking night. Death was messy and brutal. As Gary, the founder of the men’s group I was in then told me afterwards, “We come into the world messy, and we leave messy.” At least it was quick. So quick I wasn’t even aware he was dead at first, just sleeping.

About three days ago I got my father alone and said, “Dad, listen up. I want you to know I love you.”

“I love you, too,” he said.

“I flew here because this might be the last time we see each other alive.”

“I know it.”

Continue reading “Death with Father” »

Birth at the End of the World

Click on any photo to birth it BIG

Birth at the End of the World

Birth at the End of the World

She was my Lover;
Only last week we rode each other hard like wolves.
Now we hide then run,
And stumble pass corpses roasted
Still holding guns.
She pushed apart thorns
As I battle briars;
We bend between old, rusty, barbed wire
Into a forest clearing edged with boxwoods
Overgrown, shabby, and still magnificent.

To our surprise tombstones totter among moss and ivy
With names and dates worn down from the 1850s:
Shelley Marie Gilead, Beloved of Samuel Ross Gilead,
b. April 13, 1835, d. February 15, 1857 of Childbirth Fever.”
Carved across a grayish-green short stone was levered
A broken name lost to time and the dates, “February 14 – 18, 1857.”

Suns flash in the nearby distance,
Heat and flames pulse over us and roll the dead
Into the waters of a beaver pond swamp
Edged by drowned forest, lifeless birds, and waters rising
With dead, blistered fish.
Inside me I question Divine Love, Divine Mercy, Divine Compassion…
Where on Earth are they?
Or are we already in Hell?

3x.Birth at the End of the World

Genesis Extinguished beneath Saturn's Return

Genesis Extinguished beneath Saturn’s Return

"Saturno devorando a su hijo/Saturn devours His Son," Francisco de Goya (1819-1823)

“Saturno devorando a su hijo/Saturn devours His Son,” Francisco de Goya (1819-1823)

“Saturno devorando a su hijo/Saturn devours His Son”

5x.Birth at the End of the World

Apocalypse in February on the Edge of Swamps

Genesis plays out over and over again
As Earth reforms every few millennia or so.
From PreAncient Antarctica to Atlantis to Noah and Gilgamesh,
From Gobekli Tepe to Catal Hoyuk to Harrapa and Uruk…
Long Time marches forward,
Clocked against the sky and
Measured in Long Counts by the Mayans
Beneath the long gaze of the Annunaki,
We destroy ourselves in the childbirth of civilizations
Long before any Prehistoric Gods return to eat us.

But not fast enough to learn We are the Ones
Who must first master the Power of loving and forgiving Ourselves
And share compassion and wise stewardship of Home.
We stagger to water’s edge where trees crumble and rot
As boils rise from our flesh amid a rain of blood.
The Sun burns away Sol
And Darkness reigns beyond Night.
Thirsty, we stoop to drink.

Sun burns away Sol

Sun burns away Sol

Saturn returns with famished Hunger
Amid the Chaos of Titans and Annunaki
Between Terra and Caelus.
We lift up our arms
And before they fall off
We shout a final cry toward Wormwood skies,
“MOMMA!”

2x.DSC_0053

 

Momma Pregnant at the End of the World becomes The Ark.

 

A Photo-Poem
by
William Dudley Bass
February 1982? 1983? 1984?
6 January 2007
20 February 2012
Seattle, Washington

NOTE: The image of the painting is from one of The Black Paintings by the Old Master Francisco de Goya y Luceintes of Spain between 1819 -1823. It is now Public Domain. All of the other pictures are photographs by me and as such remain Copyrighted by me as the Author. The first three are versions from a dayhike into the beaver pond swamps of Sandy River, Virginia in the early 1980s. The latter two are from around Seattle, Washington in early 2012.

“Birth at the End of the World” was originally published as a photo essay of sorts on 6 January 2007 in my older blog Cultivate and Harvest, at http://cultivateandharvest.blogspot.com/2007/01/birth-at-end-of-world.html. Then it was edited, expanded into a photo-poem, and re-published here. Thank you.

 

Copyright © 2007, 2012, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.

*

 

 

Cracking Open Reality

“Enlightened people become non-functional,” said Tina Rasmussen to our group as her husband Stephen Snyder nodded in agreement toward the end of a Samatha Buddhist Meditation Retreat . “They inhabit the crack in consensual reality.”

Let’s go burst open these cracks! Together we can bust open reality! What happens to how we perceive and experience reality when our mutual consensus for it breaks down and dissolves?

“It’s really amazing,” Tina continued. “When you live in such a world long enough, you’re no longer functional. These enlightened people, it’s wild, and they’re just not functional. It’s almost like if, well, if you live that kind of lifestyle long enough, you see it all over India and Southeast Asia, it’s pretty common there, but when you live like and immerse yourself for such a long time in these practices, when you truly become aware of what the world really is, what the world really looks like, there is a big, big crack in the consensual reality.”

“And sometimes when you get there,” broke in Stephen, “you can’t leave. There’s no going back.”

Continue reading “Cracking Open Reality” »

Calling Down Mars, God of War: Questioning the Nature of Reality

Once upon a time on a hot, late summer night we gathered in a cutover cornfield and called down Mars, the God of War. I remember clearly seeing the Red God as he made his appearance. What disturbs me most, however, is not that we accomplished such a feat, but I can’t recall what we did it for and why. My ego has great pride in my memory of events, especially as I have an almost-photographic memory. I say almost, as I seem unable to remember numbers, mathematical formulas, musical notes, the names of people as I’m more of a face guy, and the titles of songs, poems, and books, especially who wrote what when. What I do know is one night in a Virginia cornfield in the vicinity of old Civil War battlefields the God of War came down in a blaze of sparkling, red haze.

We were Witches back then, American Neo-Pagan Wiccans of blended eclectic traditions to be exact. Neo-Celtic-Germanic, often shortened to “Celtic,” was the predominant cluster of traditions we wove into a tapestry of magick, ritual, and celebrations. As the term “Witch,” unfortunately, carried such a negative charge around the world since the Christian Inquisitions and the Muslim Conquests, many of us publicly used the term “Wiccan” as we also worked to rehabilitated Witchcraft and Witches.

We also used the term “magick” to distinguish “real” magick from the tricks and illusions performed by showmen proclaimed “magicians.” These stage magicians were astounding at what they did, of course, and skeptics rooted in material science used such stage tricks as “proof” there can be no such thing as true magick. Real sorcerers scoffed as such foolishness as card tricks and derided illusionists who pretend to make things disappear. After all, real sorcerers know magick demands disciplined practice and focus. As such they can conjure up gods, goddesses, angels, and demons from the Spirit realms. As we Witches did with the God Mars. Well, we got part of him to show up.

It’s an argument as old as philosophy – did matter come first or did mind? Did mind arise from matter? Or did mind come first and matter arose out of mind?

Continue reading “Calling Down Mars, God of War: Questioning the Nature of Reality” »

The Grinch is Gone!

Somebody stole The Grinch from Candy Cane Lane! What a vile and horrid thing to do. Whoever stole The Grinch and thus robbed us all and not just the Whos of Whoville must have a heart so teeny tiny as to be even tinier than the Grinch’s. Hey Dude, yeah, you, you and your giggling, drunken, lamebrain buddies with cigarettes dipped in stale Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, hey, do y’all need suspenders to hold up your hearts or what?

Candy Cane Lane is Heaven in Seattle for Christmas lovers. It’s a small crescent shaped block of classic brick and wood homes from bygone “Grandma and Grandpa Days” carved out of a hillside in the woodsy Ravenna neighborhood of North Seattle. And a huge, big cutout of The Grinch Who Stole Christmas was stolen a couple of days ago. Cindy Lou Who and Max the One-Horned Doggiedeer Reindeer were left stranded and sad.

What will happened to Christmas without The Grinch? What will Santa do? And all those poor Whos way off in Whoville? What about all the good people of Candy Cane Lane right here in Seattle?

Continue reading “The Grinch is Gone!” »

Over Meditated

After four days away in the woods of Cloud Mountain, a Buddhist meditation retreat center down near Mt. St. Helens, Washington, I’m back in the Emerald City of Seattle surfing traffic in my four-wheeled kayak. With fiercely serene contemplation my breath guides me to all the sweet spots between grinding dump trucks and vrooming sports cars and teeth-gnashing morons, oops, excuse me, peoplyps, wow, post-meditation Freudian malapropism there smashing together people and polyps! Oops, back to the breath. Breathing in, breathing out. Good thing we worked with our nasal orifices and not any others. Indeed.

During the retreat, we focused on Samatha or Concentration and Tranquility Meditation with Jhana practices. Samatha is “the other twin” to Vipassana, or Insight Meditation, and is little known in North America. It’s beginning to take root, however, as it is rediscovered by many practitioners. My two teachers, Tina Rasmussen, a former nun, and Stephen Snyder, had immersed themselves deeply in these Samatha practices. They mentored under a rare master, the Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw of Myanmar/Burma.

After studying and practicing Vipassana in Seattle for two years it proved to be the missing link. For the two middle days I spent at least nine to ten hours in sitting meditation, or attempting to, and the rest of my time awake meditating while walking, eating, and during tasks such as brushing my teeth or working as one of two “soup yogis.”

As part of trading work for money to get myself into the course, I set up and maneuvered giant soup contraptions for the cook. It wasn’t hard, especially as a tiny woman with a head-spinning mane of hair who once spent five years as a bald nun on a silent Zen meditation retreat handled those big soup gamdoodles even faster than I did.

Continue reading “Over Meditated” »

Interview Impromptu with a Murderer

People have no idea what a person goes thru in life. As a young man working on the family dairy farm I had the occasion to work with at least three murderers. All three were men. One was White. He boasted of what he did and would do. He later did it, too. Cut his own Momma’s head off. Two others were Black. One of those was matter of fact about the psychology of killing and was all business about it. The other hid out in plain sight. There may have been more killers working alongside me, too, but I only knew about these three during this time period of 1981 – 1984. This was back when I lived in Prince Edward County, tucked away in the Piedmont hills and low valleys of south-central Virginia. As I worked side by side together with them on the farm, we got to know each other well.

All three stirred powerful emotions in me. Once I almost killed one guy, a drunken horror named Paul Jenkins. It was my day off work, but I had to come in as Paul never showed up to milk the cows. He was home drunk off more cans of the cheap beer he called “liquid steak” then one could count. He jumped my back and drunkenly tried to choke me as we prepared to milk the cows, I lost it. Enraged and scared, I broke loose, ran into the cow barn, snatched a pitchfork from where it stood buried in a bale of hay, and charged him to drive those prongs in deep. At the last minute I stopped myself. I felt too much empathy. Reminded myself some of us carry a heavier cross than others at different times in life.

My drunk coworker then begged me to kill him, or he would commit suicide. He threatened to hang himself off the side of our 75-ft high grain silo. Another fed-up coworker, an older man semi-retired, would have no more of this interruption of work that must be done, and shouted at him to “Go ahead and hang your own damn fool ass off that silo! I’ve had it with all your shit!” After a few deep breaths I backed off as he flopped crying in the grass and almost knocked over a big, smelly pan of cow milk set down for the kitties. Yeah, we had a lot of cats and kittens around back then. The other man calmed down. Together we got the cows milked, but Paul staggered on off down the road, found a way to Charlottesville where his MaMa lived, slipped into her home in the middle of the night, and cut her head off. She whipped out a pistol from under her pillow, the same one she’d shot her abusive husband, Paul’s daddy, dead with, but she wasn’t quick enough. Not this time. Her son severed her head right there in her own bed.

The scariest one was a young man whose name I’ve forgotten. Although I can see his face clearly in my mind as I write this piece. So I’m gonna call him Mike. Though it might as well ’ve been Dick. Wait, I remember now. It’s Thomas! And one day during a slow time “cleaning up the barn,” our job description for gathering up and removing leftover hay, cow manure, bovine urine, trash, and anything else, I interviewed him. What follows is not a formal interview of direct quotes, but a close approximation as I paraphrase his stark use of language. In some ways it felt as if I interviewed him only yesterday. He, however, acted as if he was somehow my mentor, as if he was going to train me in one of the darkest arts, murder. I shiver even now in remembrance.

Continue reading “Interview Impromptu with a Murderer” »

Dancing at the Gates of the Underworld

“Celebrating the 13th Mortiversary of the best man I’ve ever known,” leapt from the glowing blue and white screen a few days before Halloween. The author was a gorgeous and stunning enigma who turned heads whenever she strode into a room, or in my case, a tipi during an all-night Native American prayer meeting. “Mortiversary?” I wondered in awe. “Oh, he’s dead!”

Then I felt the glow of shame for not getting it right away at my friend’s expense. Here was a woman honoring the life of a man who once moved her deeply by celebrating his death. From beyond the veils between worlds he continued to move and inspire her. In allowing her self to feel so moved she inspired me and my heart opened to the pain and the sadness and even the magnificence of death.

As storyteller and mythologist Michael Meade said about two years ago on a blustery November night in Port Townsend, “Welcome to the Endarkenment.” He felt the world has energetically moved away from a period of awakening, enlightenment, even bliss into a period of darkness and turmoil and chaos. It wasn’t all bad, either. Such dark times are often the cauldron of creativity and transformation. Our spirits fly away leaving our souls burrowing into dirt and filth, transforming both into rich soil.

It was Samhain, the Celtic New Year, All Hallows Eve 2011. This year it fell across a three-day weekend with October 31st falling upon a Monday with two more dark holy days following. Samhain (usually pronounced as ‘sow-win’), Feralia, Pomona, Halloween, Hallowmas and All Soul’s, Dia de los Muertas … it’s that time of the year to really celebrate Summer’s End and herald in the Endarkenment. I love how they mix and blend together like the blood and genes in our Postmodern flesh.

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October Falls

I love October. Leaves burst with color then fall leaving the conifers green. Rocks turn dark. Bright sunny warm days dance with chilly wet rainy days. Crunch of twigs, grit, and animal bones. Samhain awaits at the Gates of November stirrin’ up what’s left of my old, hot Celtic blood.

William Dudley Bass
October 2011
Seattle, Washington

 

Copyright © 2011, 2016 by William Dudley Bass. All Rights Reserved until we Humans establish Wise Stewardship of and for our Earth and Solarian Commons. Thank you.