The Cycle…

Seven years ago, I completed the first draft of my meditation manuscript, entitled “The Power of Se7en”, its central tenet has numerology at the core.

Twenty-Fourteen saw me evolve to the next stage of evolution really, become more aware about what the Universe was and what it wasn’t. What it wasn’t was meaningless, what it was, was becoming clear after forty-two years of human experience.

When one becomes more aware, more awake, synchronicities (or breadcrumbs as I have called them) appear with increasing regularity. It was being more alert that brought about the number seven and its increasing significance and abundance. Seven colours, seven musical notes, seven chakras, seven deadly sins, lucky seven, seven wonders of the world and the Buddhist cycle of seven years, which infers that one goes through seven times seven-year cycles and at the age of forty-nine, we depart our “childhood” phase and mature to the “adult” phase of existence, and with that enter into a period of spiritual growth, focusing on non-material values, gravitating towards the ethereal, the esoteric, the eternal.

With that in mind, I had planned last weekend very carefully, last Friday being my forty-ninth birthday, which, as it turned out, could not have been better.

The most magical place I have ever been to in the UK (probably the world) is Glastonbury, the Isle of Avalon. My friends and I have been going there on and off for the last three decades and over that time, I have connected with the place on a deeper level each time. From campsites to hostels and now AirBnB’s, all have given me a place to rest after tapping in to the towns vibe, a majestic current of consciousness that runs through everything.

And so it was, that the dawn of my forty-ninth year commenced. At four in the morning, slightly tired still from the chaotic travelling the previous day, my eyes opened to commence their second cycle of existence, and with that a dawn jaunt to Glastonbury Tor. My internal GPS system kicked in as I made my way through the dark streets heading north out of the town centre, through the even darker tree-covered lanes which led to the Tor. Thankfully, and as I would have hoped, there was not a cloud in the sky. I bimbled my way over styals and through the greenest of paths until I reached the steps up the concentric and circular hill the Tor sits atop.

The first step gave me another breadcrumb, indicating that my previous two posts of Duhkha and Suhkha were on point, Yin Yang, balance is the key.

I could already see a few people were atop the hill as I ascended, like-minded folks who were also seen the sun rise over the Isle of Avalon, each for their own reasons.

So I took my lotus perch and sat patiently waiting for the sun to rise. The moon was also playing its part, sitting just to the right of the rising sun, in a perfect crescent, plainly clear to all just how it gets its interstellar luminosity.

Then it happened, the first glimpse of the sun as it appeared over the horizon line, the first time I’d ever seen it from this position as most of the time spent at the Tor in years gone by was at night, partying mostly, home in time for bed before our life-giver made an appearance.

Grand Risings…

Clearly all that witnessed this majestic site where in awe of the sheer beauty of the vista before us, and with that a surge of energy hit me hard, energy from the invisible ley lines, that meet at Glastonbury Tor, the Tor acting as one of the major nexus points in the UK.

As the accompanying plant-medicine kicked in, my being became very small in the sheer vastness of time and space, and for the first time in a good while, I felt at one with the Source.

As the sun rose further and the dawn turned into day, I took a few obligatory camera shots, exchanged a few pleasantries with my consciousness comrades and made my way back to town.

When I got back, my wife was waking from her slumber, so we took breakfast and I shared my experience and photos with her. A short while later, we got our things together and headed over to Goddess House, for a treatment I had booked us both into, to celebrate our seventeenth wedding anniversary. What happened during those two hours confirmed just how magical and powerful Glastonbury really is.

We were greeted at the door by our two therapists for the day, who guided us through the many rooms of the old manor house and explained what our treatment consisted of, namely a ninety-minute aromatherapy massage followed by thirty minutes of healing.

The treatment started with a blessing and some words of love and wisdom from the Lady of Avalon, a spirit who still resides over the place and entwines her energy with that of the therapists and on through to the clients. The aromatherapy session was relaxing, and then the hands-on reiki healing took place. I have had reiki many times before, but the surge of energy and warmth was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. Somehow, the energy was going straight to all my “duhkha points” without me having to explain where my grumble zones where, as if guided by invisible hands.

What followed next is difficult, almost impossible, to describe. When we entered the room earlier, we had seen crystal bowls used for sound healing, and neither my wife nor I had ever had a sound treatment before. Even though I have tinnitus, I was keen to give it a go, to see if the frequencies of the singing bowls could give me relief from the constant noise inside my head. Amazingly, the bowls stayed in their position on the other side of the room, but with eyes closed, the therapists played the bowls, at which point the material Universe dissolved (for me at least). There was no body, no thoughts, no time, no space. Just sound, reverberation and pure energy. I was sound, I was energy, and it was good, very good, yet another step closer to the Source.

After the bowls stopped singing (however long that was I couldn’t tell), the therapists then resumed the reiki healing and gave a final blessing from the Lady of Avalon, and it was at this point where all the negative emotion I must have had locked away came out all at once, tears streaming down my face, accompanied by uncontrollable chin-wobbling.

After the treatment finished, I opened my eyes to gaze upon my therapist through waterlogged-peep holes, and there she was, smiling at me, softly saying, that “she is here, she is love, she is healing, she does that”.

Relaxing in a side room after we said goodbye to our goddesses for the day, we sat and drank herbal tea and took red fruits before heading back to town, and when we did, I felt light, so light, due to physical and meta-physical burdens being lifted from me (for a while at least). For the first time in aeons, I felt cleansed, unblocked.

I now start the second cycle of my life, a cycle that will leave behind materialism once and for all, leave behind the broken society and attempt, in my own way, whatever that way becomes once I have acquired the skills, to heal others in the manner I had been healed during what can only be described as a rebirthing ceremony.

Glastonbury, you never fail to disappoint me, I am forever yours, forever connected to you…

Ubuntu…

Let’s rip up modern conventions and start again.

In a world that is riddled with disparity, zealots and false philanthropy, it is difficult for some to see that there are alternatives out there. Such alternatives go completely against how our controlled society operates, but they do exist.

This week I open my door to Ubuntu. No I’m not wiping my hard drives of all Apple and Windows operating systems in favour of Linux (although the penguin is mega cute). I am, for the uninitiated (and I included myself in that up until last week), referring to the concept of Ubuntu philosophy – which is a collection of values which allows for human authenticity, with honest, ego-free individuals coming together into tribes, communities and micro-societies, with the emphasis on caring for others in the belief that a universal bond of sharing and supporting each other connects all humanity, free from power, greed and control.

“I am because we are”.

If we are to believe that we are one consciousness experiencing itself subjectively, and everything in the Universe is interlinked, then having a set of core principles which brings us closer together (not fragmented further, more isolated) gives us a chance to become more in tune with the cosmos, and with each other.

My recent foray into a more sustainable and agrarian way of life at a local communal / cooperative allotment collapsed spectacularly recently, much to my disappoint (for many reasons I won’t go into). Here we had an opportunity to do something different, to put the middle finger up to the way standard society operated, but alas it wasn’t to be.

Bill the Wise…

Maybe it’s because we have had two super moons in quick succession (the last one happening tonight with a lunar eclipse). Everything is energy, including matter (which is energy condensed down to a slow vibration – another Bill Hicks quote in case you missed the first one above), and I really seem to suffer when such cosmic events take place. I have been all over the place the last couple of months, not being able to focus much on anything, a world away from the clarity and serenity I usually have. This will change from tomorrow as our closest celestial body buggers off back to where it belongs.

So why ubuntu? Well, the Universe moves in mysterious ways and quickly it seems when it sees an opening. A comrade and I took a herbal tea last Friday in our local cafe and chewed the fat over the sad demise of the allotment, at which point he pulled out two pieces of paper. Now time is a funny thing, as is energy. What happened next as he reached into his pocket was quite profound, and much resembled a video recording set to slo-mo. It took a long time to fetch the paper, almost double that time to unfold the two pieces wide so that I could read them. As he did (in what seemed like time out of space), the flow of energy into my being was something I’d not felt for quite sometime, what ever was about to be revealed was going to have some sort of positive and uplifting effect.

No shit! As I took hold of the parchments, the electricity surged around my body to awaken any cells that were still in “morning sleepy mode”, and with that a required focus. The pages are below:

The Time Bank…
The Activities…

Here we had a special moment, a vision of what I had been trying to find for some time now, like-minded people who want to push aside the norms of the day and operate in a way which levels everything.

Imagine, if you will, the middle-class IT consultant who banks two hours of time fixing a computer for someone who cannot afford the service fees, and exchanges that for a one hour basket weaving course by a bloke who lives in his van, and a one hour ukulele lesson from a local artist, both for his daughter without the exchange of a single penny.

The above is a real example of how it works, and for me is ubuntu. We all have skills, different skills, but have become accustomed to demand the exchange of money for such. That model clearly isn’t working, as it is breeding so much greed, power and control for the few (not the many), and so if we are to evolve, truly evolve I mean, then that system needs to be deconstructed, starting off in local tribes / communities.

The age of Aquarius is upon is, heralding significant change. I do hope that our local tribe tests out the Ubuntu model here and succeeds, my community is strong here so it stands a good chance if enough time and focus is given by the participants, and conflict or the current broken paradigm doesn’t play a part.

Mandela’s take on Ubuntu is below, if I can’t convince you, perhaps he can…

Life 1.0…

What is the meaning of life? What happens after we die? Is there an afterlife?

These questions (and many more) continue to remain unanswered and even unasked by the vast majority of the public, even more so given the current state of affairs.

Most people I know are queuing up, begging in some cases to be injected with what is (and will remain, until January 2023) an experimental and synthetic chemical on emergency licence. Whilst I have no view on individuals on whether they take or do not take the vaccine (the decision is entirely theirs to make, I hope), what has come to the fore is the fear of death.

I have looked after myself in more recent years, and as I approach the half century next year, I feel as if I have listened to my mind, body and soul to make the right decisions on my health and well-being of late.

I have already “lived a life’s that’s full” and “regrets I’ve had a few”, but as I near my twilight years, my physical form is in good working order, with an optimal weight / BMI, relatively balanced diet and exercise regime. As a result, I will not be taking the vaccine, on the basis that it is still in the experiment phase and any viral load I take in will not significantly increase my chances of mortality.

I do think that for some, the pandemic is a wake up call to look after themselves more, several conversations I’ve had over recent weeks have highlighted to many that their current condition needs addressing and that if the prediction of future pandemics becomes a reality (perhaps with more deadly strains) then now is the time to act. Of course the talking is easy, the doing is much more difficult, especially after such a long period of isolation mixed with the opportunity for socialising upon us (life opens up again in the UK tomorrow) and the habitual addictions still firmly rooted (sugar, processed foods, alcohol, prescription medicines etc).

One thing has become very apparent however, is the total fear of death from some. Some people I have spoken to our petrified of dying, too afraid to leave their houses still, as if expecting the reaper to be there waiting for them, scythe in hand as they open their front door.

Why is that? Is it because they are too young, because they haven’t done enough yet in life, because they have too many commitments, because of the fear of what comes (or what does not come) next? I suspect it is all of these and more.

As I have shared on this blog over the last decade, my fear of death has diminished to almost zero. Clearly when I do pass, I’d prefer (like everyone else) for it to be pain-free. Also, I’m not done yet, as I want to see my daughter grow up a little more and see her set foot on her own path (much like her two brothers have already done). Anything beyond that really is bonus time, my ikigai remains, and always will remain, my family, and once they are fully independent, my main life’s work is complete.

Bonus time for me is anything beyond fifty five (I do hope there is a lot of it!), which will coincide with the year I leave the corporate world, perhaps sooner. Once that happens, my intent is give back. I realise that I have probably done my fair share of take over the years which has not been counter-balanced by enough give (on the basis that time has been lacking somewhat), but with the distraction of work and bills to pay gone, the thought of what happens next excites me greatly.

I will look for a life polar opposite to what I have today, satisfying the need of my tribe and my community (in whatever form that takes – healing, support, training, wisdom) over the needs of my business and my shareholders.

And when the final day comes, I will embrace it with open arms, as I’m still a firm believer that life is not the opposite of death, death is the opposite of birth, life is eternal…

Offline…

I have of late given more and more thought time to anonymity online. A brief journey through time since the inception of the internet reveals very similar origins and outcomes when comparing it to the evolution of man and the agricultural revolution. The similarities are quite remarkable.

Ascent of Man…

Clearly the origins of our eureka moment when it comes to the evolution of the human network can’t truly be validated, but if we assume that the origins of modern society was in the Middle East (Jericho, Aleppo – the Ascent of Man theory by Dr Jacob Bronowski and other historians), then the true catalyst for the dawn of our time was probably the brainchild of a single person, who came up with the idea that the cross-pollination of grasses led to the cultivation of wheat, bread, agriculture, farming, commerce, society, government, law and inevitably greed, conflict, aggression and division.

Descent of Man…

Let’s then take the internet, the brainchild of a single person, Sir Tim Berners Lee. He (with no doubt help from others) came up with the idea of the cross-pollination of data and human interaction, which led to the cultivation of technology, information, ideas, connectivity, community, e-commerce and inevitably greed, conflict, aggression and division.

Both started out with the best intentions, the betterment and evolution of humanity, but sadly it appears that both have suffered the same fate.

Society has broken down into the haves and have nots, and in each of the major developed nation states in the world, opinion is divided completely in half, it certainly is in the UK and the US which recent referendums and electoral votes validate. The exact same goes for the internet, which sees an opportunity for the tech giant owners (Amazon, Space X Starlink, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Oracle and Apple) to grow their personal wealth whilst the masses fight from two camps against each other on social media. The divisions are clear as are the similarities in both systems.

I have a very clear path now to a life off-grid, and my plans for that will accelerate over the coming days, weeks, months and years until those back-to-basics building blocks are in place and I can successfully, physically and metaphysically disconnect myself from the grid.

The upcoming build of my “Cabin in the Yard” will allow me to construct a habitation and give me new skills which will help me further down the line. I have also completely detached myself from all big-tech online organisations this week by purging all accounts, data and profiles, to have that online anonymity, with of course the exception of this blog which is anonymous anyway.

It felt quite the cathartic process, not only in the purging of the data, but in the sense of (as they say in kundalini yoga) ego eradication, there really is no good to be had in the bloating of the self (either online or offline), the good comes, really comes, in honest and compassionate conversation without the need for hyperbole or acerbic criticism, whether that be via age-old means of verbal and face-to-face dialogue or new-age means in the form of the comments box below.

Like I’ve said many years ago, this site acts as a metaphysical timeline for myself, sharing my inner thoughts with my wife, my children and possibly (hopefully) my grandchildren and of course other folks I’ve never met. It documents the evolution and journey of a simple man who matures over time, who acknowledges the wrongs he has done in his own personal history and how he tries to put those right where he can, offering some primordial and basic nuggets of wisdom for others to read and cogitate on along the way…

Future Bites…

What the future has in store for us is a point most debated just now given the state of things in the world. What is becoming clearer as the days turn into weeks and months, is that it will not be what we have been used to over the past few decades. Irrespective of the origins of Covid and which side of the debate one falls on, things will be different, change is inevitable.

I fall in and out of love with Russell Brand, who seems to float between his high-ego and higher-self a bit too regularly for my liking, but in general I think he has matured into a person who has the greater good at his core. Although he seems to sit on the fence a lot more these days, he offers up thoughts and themes for us to ponder on, no more so than his latest output on YouTube following the completion of Davos 2021:

It does appear that governments and big business have a flagrant disregard now for smoke and mirrors. The things they say and do are well and truly in the public domain, whether it be awarding contracts without tenders, billionaires updating their personal biographies with a single word which results in huge volatility in the stock markets increasing their own wealth, to some blatant messaging from organisations advising to the public they will own nothing, they will rent everything, and a huge majority will be displaced, but they will be happy.

Fundamentally, it comes down to a binary decision (like most things seem to do these days); does one go with the flow or not. Masks, vaccines, guideline compliance, political alignment and consumerism, we either do or do not. Control and self-control are two key aspects of the human condition, ultimately we either offer up the control of the self to others and have our outcomes decided for us, or we apply self-control and choose our own outcomes (although that too can be influenced by others).

I’ve long admired Steven Wilson and have waited patiently for his new album The Future Bites (annoying the title and the tracks are all in uppercase, a thing this pedant can overlook, just!). As creative output has been very limited over the last twelve months, the album was on repeat for the whole day yesterday, at the end of which I was (as per usual) rather impressed. Wilson continues to depart from traditional arrangements and instruments, and whilst this album uses electronica in most of its songs, its still has that unmistakably Wilson feel to it. It may irk the purists who see him make in-roads into the world of pop-rock and away from prog, but it is lyrically sublime as always, irrespective of the accompanying tune; a very accurate critique of the human condition, and all too familiar to the listener and reader of his post-modern poetry.

At the core, Wilson shares his own view on the rank state of play at present, with an overarching message that we have entered a period of devolution, a period which is seeing us break away from tribes, traditions and a sense of community, and moving towards a world consumed by image, self-worth, mindless consumerism and materialism. There is also a nod to the fact that social media is a plague of its own, a virtual cancer that eats away at compassion and decency. I have not had any online presence (besides this anonymous blog) for over eighteen months now and I’m better for it. Others close to me sometimes share titbits with me, often to my utter horror. Friends I have had since my school days are taking to such platforms to share the most bilious and vile rhetoric and insults, demoting them from friends through acquaintances to people I once met.

Music can be, and often is, a channel for talented individuals to use their prowess and influence to draw attention to the problems we face as a race, putting across to the listener a message (clear or otherwise – and that is the beauty about it, we can take what we want from a song and turn it into something deep and meaningful to us) which can often be more powerful than what is presented by the authorities via their preferred media channel outlets.

For those who have not heard of Steven Wilson, his entire back catalogue is on Spotify (all forty studio albums), which includes his early days in Porcupine Tree and splinter projects and collaborations (Storm Corrosion, Blackfield, No-Man), but a good place to start is Insurgentes, the opening track of his first solo album, and one of his best songs to date).

I have no doubt that the future will indeed bite, but no doubt there will probably be a vaccine for that, too…

Days of Futures Past…

Communing with nature. Living off the land. Mind, body and soul cleansing. Community spirit and oneness. Consciousness expansion. Peace and love.

Deep down many of us want the ideals above but are either unable, unwilling or lack the courage to do those things that we know will be better for us and better for the planet.

This week saw my eagerly awaited trip to Lammas Eco-Village in South Wales, an expedition into the uncharted territory of off-grid living., a fact finding mission for our band of neophyte hippies to sequester information from the founders, Mr and Mrs Wimbush, in order for us to gain insights into their ten year journey from a barren greenfield plot of land, to a fully functional and self-sufficient settlement.

As a guy who has worked in and around IT projects for most of his life, I bring to the table my decades of structure, organisation and planning, so I took the responsibility to plan out our trip in advance, including timelines, itineraries and a large set of questions, the output of which would give us enough answers and direction to kick-start the build of our eco-retreat project in North Wales.

This is a work project not one of pleasure (although no doubt the journey and end result will no doubt be a joyous thing), and as such the trip was “allowed” under the strict “essential travel only” guidelines. Even still, I had a bad feeling before setting off that at some point over the four hour journey south, our collars would be felt at least once by the boys in blue, and in preparation for that eventuality I printed off all materials (Covid travel guidelines, agenda, emails etc) as a form of proof to plod that our trip was legitimate. As it turned out, the trip was “copper-free” and we arrived safely at Lammas, collars unfelt.

As we drove into the village, the first thing that struck us was the size. Each of the plots sized between six and seven acres and there were plenty of them (totalling seventy seven acres in all).

Our destination for the day however was Maes Melangell, the home of both the Wimbush family (pioneers of Lammas) and a newly-constructed and yet-to-be completed Lammas Earth Centre.

I had done some research on Lammas over the previous nights (reading the One Planet Life book as well as watching several YouTube videos) to provide at least some background knowledge on what the set up was like and what their journey had been like thus far.

But like a great many things in life, reading about something is one thing, experiencing it is markedly different, the whole day was testament to that.

We were greeted (after a few wrong turns) on the tracks by Hoppi (aka Mrs Wimbush), who welcomed the group warmly and invited us in to the main house for a socially distanced and hand-sanitised chat, so that we could get to know each other a little and our posse could set out its expectations for the day.

One thing that did strike me on the way in was how impressive their homestead looked, it was clear that the well-built dwelling house, the super-impressive Lammas Earth Centre, the animal barn and all of the cultivation areas had taken years to achieve and a ridiculous amount of dedication and hard graft (both physically and meta-physically).

With a hot cup of Bengal Spice Tea in hand, Hoppi walked us through their ambitious journey so far, all of us playing silent witness and in awe in what they had achieved to date and how they had done it. Their home was warm not only in temperature (from the amazing wood-burner and impressively insulated walls), but in feeling too, clearly the house was also wrapped in the warmth of love, of oneness with each other, with nature and the universe at large.

It became apparent early on that what we saw before us had taken an Herculean effort, not only in planning, designing, developing and constructing, but in terms of pressure and stress too. Here we had a small family (children were six and nine at the time) living in a small touring caravan on an empty landscape, with huge plans for off-grid living in their heads and one hell of a journey in front of them.

We shared our own plans for the eco-treat which were met warmly too, but it was becoming apparent (to me at least) that our embryonic project was very different than what was in front of us in terms of components, requirements and end-state.

The five of us involved thus far all have day commitments that we don’t foresee giving up any time soon, and at this point we don’t envision any of us living at the eco-retreat permanently. So it dawned on us that going down the One Planet Development route for our project was likely to be a dead end and overcomplicated from a planning and local authority permission perspective. Ours would be a different path than the one Lammas has taken, but it would have the same ethos are drive for sustainability.

After a warm exchange, Hoppi then took us on a tour of the site, explaining the exact functions of each building and zone, safe to say that we were all in total awe of what we were viewing.

Many hands make light work…

Their plans were not only realised by their own hands, but by those of volunteers too. Through the use of an entire tribe of volunteers (over seventy in total) they were able to morph their barren landscape into something truly remarkable.

And it’s is the essence of that very approach which has left a spiritual and collective resonance around the place, almost like a mycelium layer of positivity and love, woven into the very fabric of every component on site, borne from the many hands of like-minded individuals.

The beating heart of Maes Melangell…
The Owl Sanctuary…
The composting toilets…
The Solar Kiln…
The Eco-Retreat…
The Eco-Shower…
The Innovative Waterproofing…
The Renewable Energy Supply…
The Earth Centre…
The Interstellar Roof…
The Barn…
The Kids…

After the staggeringly impressive show and tell, we had the opportunity to wander the site on our own, I took the time to fly my drone over the site to get a birds eye view whilst my comrades meandered through various muddy pathways on foot, the site as impressive from the air as on the ground.

Bird’s Eye view of Maes Melangell (Lammas Eco-Village)

We finished our trek as the door to the main house opened and for the first time we met Tao (Mr Wimbush) for the first time. Set and setting are always important and the lunch of Pumpkin and Parsnip Soup with home made bread and goats butter transformed a basic meal to the best lunch of all time, ever.

It came across well on the videos I had seen, but in person, Tao’s calming nature juxtaposed against Hoppi’s effervescence made it a perfect partnership, and I saw the deep, loving and spiritual connection they both had for each other on a couple of occasions. Beautiful.

We shared our vision and hope for the eco-retreat with Tao and based on the components we wanted to develop (very different to Lammas), Tao advised that the One Planet Development wasn’t the best way to go for our venture and he suggested an alternative approach to achieve the desired outcome, to which we all agreed.

I was truly blown away by Tao, to be surrounded by such an amazing feat of construction and sustainable cleverness was one thing, but his calming, warming, nurturing, inspiring and guiding words (and well as long hair and beard), felt to me like I was in the presence of a modern day Jesus (affirmed by “L” on the way back home who thought the same).

As the darkness drew in and thoughts turned to the arduous long journey home in poor driving conditions, with a genuine sadness and gratitude, we bade farewell to our hosts for the day and headed back north to on-grid living, resigned and melancholic in the knowledge that workers boots and corporate laptops would called upon within just a few hours of returning.

Like my Robin Williams blog from a few years ago stated (Life Is Experience Not Knowledge – https://infinitybeckons.wordpress.com/2016/10/18/life-is-experience-not-knowledge) there is nothing quite like experiencing things first hand as opposed to reading them in a book.

We had so many take-aways from our trip to Lammas, hints, tips and nudges in the right direction we simply would not have hot had we not visited. We agreed that when we returned home we would double-down on our efforts to get things moving, albeit in a slightly different direction to our initial plans.

After visiting Lammas, Hoppi and Tao, it’s now very clear to me that one can live in the fruitfully in the future like we lived in the past, it just takes courage to detach oneself from what is, quite frankly, a broken and totally meaningless capitalist society.

That courage is within us all, we just need to do, there is no try…

Ishnaan for the soul…

Since the turn of the year, when able I’ve taken to the sea for meditation and contemplation.

Whilst New Years Day brought several hundred to the beach and a communal spirit of togetherness, today marked a different experience.

As the temperatures in the UK starts to plummet, so have the numbers of “dipper”. I got to the beach at eight this morning to find only a few folks milling around the car park, the sea completely barren of near-zero bathers.

-2c on land, no icebergs present…

Undeterred by the cold -2c read-out displayed on the dashboard, I waded into to the duck-pond calm waters of Liverpool Bay, surrounded only by gentle waves and whistling white noise the sea was making as it ascended and receded on the not-so distant shoreline.

Eyes closed, body cooling, the tiniest of crescent moons focused my morning meditation and shut out everything else in the known universe. Meditation allows for breaks in the chaos, the disorder, the high entropy of the broken system we find ourselves in at present.

Quite soon, there is no cold, only stillness, calmness, nothingness, like a dissolution of the lower self as the higher self takes total control, and blocks out all materialism.

Eventually (fifteen minutes in), the lower self returns and the body reawakens to suggest it’s time to get out before hypothermia kicks in.

A wade back to the shore is greeted by winter-wrapped dog walkers with amusing grins, a nod to the crazy person emerging from the icy cold waters.

Back home, as the rest of the house still slumbers, the wood burner heats the frozen body parts on the outside and the warm poached eggs and coffee does likewise inside.

Toe-Toasting-Tastic!
Spinach, poached eggs, salmon and cracked pepper, breakfast of the Gods!

If only all days could start like this…

The Purge…

The beauty about cartoons and animations is that they invariably operate on many levels.

To the young and innocent, human and non-human forms come together in a series of fast moving caricatures which often titillate and excite the younger generation, without them having the experience yet to fully understand the more subliminal meanings behind such creations.

I’ve been a fan of animation for a long time, my first real emotional connection to the art form forging when the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon hit the UK screens in the nineteen-eighties.

Here we had a visual work of fantasy, whereby six protagonists get sucked into an alien world of monsters and magic, all given special abilities to cope with life in their new realm, pulling together as one team to find their way home.

Rewatching the entire series again during lockdown brought back many fond memories, not only a nostalgic nod to my childhood, but also to those long dark (k)nights were my friends and I would emulate the cartoon quests with pencils, paper and dice under esoteric lighting systems.

My daughter has had a passion for art since she was a youngling and as such it was an easy sell to her to watch some aged cartoons from years past, a passion we now share together; she watched my old animations and in return we doodle and draw together and watch her new wave of animations.

“When can we go to Tokyo dad”, is all I ever hear these days. At present, she fully immerses herself in anime/manga, a basic yet effective art-style I also enjoy.

Little did she know about my liking for it, watching Akira, Dominion Tank Police and the darker Urotsukidōji and Tetsuo, (not made for the eyes of a child) back in the early nineties when there was a minor explosion of manga here in the UK.

Netflix have bought into anime in a big way, so we have started to watch some of the series together as the platform is awash with them.

We started off with My Hero Academia, a great show about kids in University with special powers (quirks), banding together to overcome a hoard of enemies.

Then we had Blue Exorcist, a great show about kids in University with special powers (magic), banding together to overcome a hoard of enemies.

Both of the series were great, very enjoyable and much like the Dungeons & Dragons of old, segmented episodes with an overarching quest, with themes of good versus evil and a spirit of team work.

What we have watched/are watching at present is in my opinion, the best animated series I’ve seen to date; Full Metal Alchemist.

The central tenet is about two teenage brothers who lose their mother through illness and who try to bring her back to life via their rudimentary understanding of alchemy, which rebounds tragically and spectacularly on them, leading them to go on a quest to search for the fabled Philosopher’s Stone in an effort to return their lost body parts.

Oddly, and almost in a nod to somewhat cringeworthy end to Game of Thrones, the original series was created in the early noughties and finished before the manga/comic book version had had the chance to complete, with disastrous consequences, leaving the audience aghast with what can only be described as a Scooby Doo ending.

We scratched our heads after sitting through fifty-one episodes, feeling a little dejected at the end (for me in the same vein as Vanilla Sky).

A colleague of mine advised us to watch Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, a full and expanded remake of the original, and with just ten episodes left of the series, we are both blown away by just how awesome it is.

Not only are the visuals fantastic, but the show is different from others in that it is one complete and continuous storyline/timeline, again not too dissimilar to Game of Thrones (it even has a wall to the north covered in snow), and more importantly it has that deeper level of meaning, which really struck a chord with me.

The band of bad guys in the series are based upon the seven deadly sins (Lust, Envy, Sloth, Gluttony, Greed, Wrath and Pride for the uninitiated).

Each of the sins is represented by a bad guy/girl, a Homunculus (which the dictionary defines as a representation of a small human being made by an alchemist), the traits of which come across very well to the older and wiser viewer.

It was only really this morning that it hit me. Lying awake in bed at five am, I tried to get back to sleep but the vivid visions of last nights mini-marathon of twelve episodes in one sitting prevented me from do so.

I had a somewhat biblical conversation with Weltanschauung yesterday (and do stop by his site, in my opinion one of the [if not the] best on WordPress – and imagine my shock this morning when I actually visited his home page for the first time only to see the strap line The Philosopher’s Stone, the central tenet of Full Metal Alchemist!), so it was only natural that this morning that as darkness still enveloped the land, my thoughts turned to my own reflections on whether or not I have succumbed to the seven deadly sins.

1. Lust: I have almost reached the half century now and no longer have the sexual desires I once had during my virulent heavy metal days and have come to understand just how wrong pornography is, objectifying men, women and others.

2. Envy: I am no longer envious of others, be it the material possessions they have or the successes they achieve in life. I don’t recall using the word jealous in a long time and gain joy in hearing success stories from family, friends and colleagues.

3. Sloth: One thing is for sure, I never rest on my laurels. I’m a firm believer in the concept that there is no such thing as boredom, there is always something to do, if I find myself scratching around for something to do, I find something meaningful to fill the void, including exercise.

4. Gluttony: This year gave me the opportunity to put a balance to my diet, spending half of the year taking a paleo and pescatarian approach to what goes into my body.

5. Greed: I have also of late (with the exception of Christmas presents) been very mindful to purchase only what I need and not what I want. I need to do more next year and stop filling the pockets of Mr Bezos. Giving back is also something I’m keen to do, invariably we live a take lifestyle, giving is so much more rewarding and I’ve started to do that more now (even if it is more time for others, time is actually the most precious thing we have to give).

6. Wrath: Since working from home and not travelling, I have become less fatigued. The lockdown has also given me the opportunity to go back to yoga and get back to nature, and as a result I feel calmer and the conflict situations I have had (with the exception of dinner table arguments around differing opinions on the potential truths behind Covid) have diminished dramatically.

7. Pride: Back in the dark days of twenty-twelve, my “Wolf of Wall Street” lifestyle nearly destroyed my marriage. Replacing cocaine with booze, I was a big shot, top of my game at work, climbing the corporate ladder, travelling all over the world, the big I am. It came at me like a lightning bolt when my wife asked to separate. My ego, arrogance and self-importance had taken over from duty, loyalty, sense and reason. Looking back at my behaviour eight years ago still fills me with disgust, but it acts as a constant reminder not to be that person.

So on reflection I think I have done my level-best to purge the vast majority of the seven sins, and of course there is always room for further improvement.

There are hidden messages that ripple up to the surface from time to time, sometimes in the most unlikely of places (like children’s cartoons), freeing ourselves from sin (in a non-biblical way) raises our consciousness and helps to find them…

Humanity: The Real Virus…

Over the past twelve months, we have all to some extent become fledgling virologists. Every news bulletin is presented in front of a large screen emblazoned with various Covid-19 info-graphics depicting how the virus attaches itself to the human cell, opens up a way in and infects the cell until the point where it is either extinguished by antibodies that the cell produces or it takes hold and kills its host, propagating and replicating.

Covid-19

Over the same time period, I have had some very interesting dinner table discussions with the family, and especially my nineteen year old son who is currently studying English Literature and Creative Writing at University.

He loves engaging in thought-provoking dialogue and I’m more than happy to deliberate and cogitate his musings and arguments and wade in with my opinions, so after re-watching Outbreak with Dustin Hoffman, my thoughts turned back to Covid-19 and the info-graphic depicted above on how the microscopic world of an individual cell and things attacking it could be viewed on a much larger scale and how humanity is self-creating real and credible threats to our very existence on Planet Earth, and how cause and effect is impacting our ecosystem.

My opening statement was that humanity (not unlike Agent Smith from The Matrix), is a virus that is attacking the very ecosystem it needs to survive. A virus is defined as “an agent that infects living organisms, often causing disease and death, which in itself is unable to replicate without a host”. Whilst I concede that Earth is may not be conscious (in the way that our brains are) and it does not have a sense or morality, when viewed as a single organism, it is living and can generate effects from the various causes imposed on it to protect itself from extinction.

Existential Risks

I took up my pen (converted to a jpeg for clarity) and drew a crude Covid-19 virus molecule and replaced each S-Protein nodule with each anthropogenic risk we are currently facing (adding a non-anthropogenic risk for good measure) and discussed each one at length:

  • Nano Technology: Also known as grey goo, the current train of thought is that as humanity advances technology and things get smaller and smaller, there is (however small, nano even) a risk that molecular nanotechnology becomes out-of-control and self-replicating machines consume all of the biomass on Earth while building more of themselves, which in theory could consume the entire planet down the core with nothing Mother Earth could do to prevent it. The stuff of science fiction horror movies perhaps, but still a potential risk but we agreed that we would likely not see this one materialising any time soon
  • War: What is it good for, absolutely nothing (except for the economy of course, as described rather simply and expertly in Zeitgeist: The Movie – one of the best documentaries I’ve seen). The most clear and present danger that humanity currently faces is the ability to destroy itself by conflict, by war. History tells us that a global foot war would never wipe us out as there would lways likely be a winning side. A nuclear war and associated nuclear winter could of course do two things, wipe out humanity plus many plants and animals but the Earth could recover in time (much in the same way it did during the dinosaur era), or toxify the atmosphere and boils the seas so much that all carbon-based systems cease to exist and Mars 2.0 happens
  • Pollution: It is abundantly clear climate change is here and having a huge impact our ecosystem. Through heavy industry, toxic/plastic waste, deforestation, desertification, natural resource extraction and consumption, the effects are stark and plain for asll to see (whilst not including certain deniers and Paris Accord withdrawers). If those are the main causes, then the effects are equally as numerous, with Earth (in a non-conscious way) producing storms, fires, floods, famines, viruses, earthquakes and even plagues of locusts, all very biblical and ominous. In theory, Earth could in fact continue to react in this way until humanity is wiped out and the order is reset and recovery takes place. Whilst war seems to be the primary risk to life on Earth, if left unchecked climate change is a close second.
  • Artificial Intelligence: We all love a good dystopian novel/movie, with seminal classics like The Matrix, Terminator and latterly Westworld spinning a shared narrative that self-realising machines become super-intelligent and wage war against humanity until it’s near ultimate demise. Whilst there many benefits to automation (I myself am heavily involved in developing intelligent monitoring systems – not in a state surveillance way I might add), there is a danger, however limited that self-awareness and autonomously acting systems could in theory wreak havoc and Stephen Hawking himself theorizing that AI could indeed see the end of the human race. A quick look at the Boston Dynamics production line (Atlas and Spot which are now available via mail order) would and should give some insights to the potentiality and realisation that a new order could be created if the light-bulb ever gets flicked on, however small the risk appears today
  • Bio Technology: A biological war could in theory make the human race extinct if a virus reached 100% of the population and had a 100% mortality rate, but Mother Earth (which can do nothing to prevent a man-made biological war) would continue and positively recover from everything man has thrown at it. We may never get to find out how Covid-19 was released on to the human race (by accident or by design), but the wonderful thing about a virus is its ability to mutate to survive, so if you believe that it was released by design by some sort of illuminati / NWO, then lets hope they keep full control on the SAR-COVID-2 strand and don’t let the mortality rate increase to 100%, else that could be end of days territory.
  • Resource Consumption / Overpopulation: Clearly we have problem, arguably the biggest problem and most realistic threat to our way of life. David Attenborough has said that overpopulation is the biggest existential threat to life on Earth, if we don’t do something about it, nature will do it for us. We have seen unprecendented natural disasters over the last few years and as the planet gets warmer and wilder, and as we consume more than we can produce – using mass-production techniques which release more CO2e into the atmosphere, then our ability to cultivate the land diminishes, desertifcation increases and as such the increasing population goes hungry, until at some point we have burned all the trees, destroyed all of the soils, raised all salty sea levels leaving our ecosystem infertile. Some say that Covid-19 is naturally occurring and it is a curse that Mother Earth has put on us to wake us up to the root cause of our problems, over population.
  • Genetic Modification: A few Hollywood films have placed such a concept onto the silver-screen. We play God by mapping out our DNA strand and modifying it to iron out the kinks, remove all defects to create post-modern-man, with catastrophic consequences. There is also the notion of cybernetics, where man replaces carbon-based appendages with technology, resulting in a fight between it and IT. The stuff of B-Movies however is unlikely to come to fruition.
  • Scientific Exploration: So what exactly is going on at CERN? OK they allegedly found the Higgs-Boson God particle, but what they intend to do with it is not entirely clear, neither is the roadmap of experiments. There are clear and present dangers in scientific experiments of this scale, with the potentiality to rip time and space apart, creating a black hole that we all fall into never to return. As Socrates Johnson once said, all we know is that we know nothing, and if Dan Brown’s Angel & Demons anti-matter theme has anything to go by, messing around with the laws of physics we know very little about may see us disappearing up our own arseholes.
  • Non Anthropogenic: Extinction Level Events. Meteors, aliens and demons (in that order) have the ability to bring the seven point eight billion population count down to zero in a matter of seconds. Deep Impact, Armageddon, Star Wars, Independence Day and Constantine all depict such events in glorious CGI, let’s just hope Morgan Freeman, Bruce Willis and Mark Hamill, Will Smith and Keanu Reeves don’t retire any time soon.

The response to all of this from my “son-beyond-his years” was abrupt and to the point:

Son: “Dad?”
Dad: “Yes, son?”
Son: “Two things. Firstly, you think too much. Secondly, you’re an idiot…”

This Is My Truth Tell Me Yours…

Utopia. We all dream of it but it’s very definition (albeit in wiki and not OED) is “an imagined community or society that possesses highly desirable or nearly perfect qualities for its citizens”.

Imagined. A work of metaphysical fiction. A hope. A dream state.

I was a huge fan of Utopia when it first came out back in 2013. Utopia in the form of a Channel 4 series here in the UK (not the rehash on Amazon Prime which has never seen the light of day on my TV) which follows five protagonists who uncover the truth behind a sinister plot by an unknown syndicate who’s aim is to reduce the worlds population via a mass-sterilisation programme, hidden in an RNADNA changing vaccine administered under the guise of a global pandemic. Sound familiar?

The opening line of neo-prog prodigy Steven Wilson’s To The Bone album sums up quite well what truth is.

“Once we’ve made sense of our world we wanna go fuck up everybody else’s, because his or her truth doesn’t match mine. But this is the problem, truth is individual calculation, which means because we all have different perspectives, there isn’t one singular truth, is there?”

No truer words spoken. We have 7.8 billion truths right now, so in the immortal words of James Dean Bradfield from Manic Street Preachers, this is my truth tell me yours.

I have absolutely no doubt that COVID-19 exists, empirical evidence and narratives directly from the front line via trusted friends and clients in the medical profession (doctors, nurses and paramedics) makes it utterly impossible to refute. The horror stories are there, the chaos at hospitals all too real.

So we know that we have a problem, what we don’t know (and will likely never know) is where it came from and how it entered the system. The two main hypotheses are a naturally occurring disease or mutation from a previous iteration or a jump from the animal species into our food chain, either way accidental, or man made and deployed for a reason.

Either way, it has crossed the planet like wildfire and taken its toll on the population the world over.

According to the global statistics, to date 43 million people have tested positive, with 1.2 million loosing their lives.

I have never looked too closely at the infection rates, instead looking at the mortality rates (here in the UK) as a barometer to gauge the severity of the situation. What we currently have when looking at the overall mortality rates is a graph that spiked in March and April, and has flattened out ever since, so much so that the last few months mortality rates have been under (well under in some cases) the 5 year average.

What we have also seen is a country under lockdown which had little to no impact during the months of March, April and May and once again now, which when looking at seasonal variations, looks quite normal too for respiratory mortality rates this time of year.

Our story is not unique here in the UK, with other countries seeing similar patterns. What the governments are doing the world over is the pretty much the same (perhaps with the exception of Sweden), by deploying lockdown tactics to varying degrees, national in the case of Wales and regional in the case of England and Scotland over the last few weeks.

Whilst the R rate goes up, the mortality rate stays relatively flat. It’s clear that the help to eat out scheme, primary and secondary schools as well as universities returning to site have played their part in increasing the rates of infection amongst the younger age brackets, so it’s logical to conclude that governments look to cut off locations and services where the younger generations hang out (soft play areas, pubs etc) to get the rate down, and that is exactly what’s happened here.

It is odd that the Tory government have imposed the strictest restrictions on opposition strongholds and where unemployment and low wages are prevalent, but I’ll leave that emotional outburst aside as it detracts from the main point I’m trying to make.

The Earth is so fragile and is having a real existential crisis right now. I have discussed candidly with sustainability consultants in my work and they have shared reams of data and info graphics over the last 6 months.

The biggest problem we have (and this is my truth) is not climate change, it is not plastic and toxic waste, it is not the diverse geopolitical spectrum, it is not the broken fiscal system, it is over population.

Simply put, our planet cannot sustain the amount of people on it. A study conducted back in the 1970’s (which is still relevant today) stated that to live in harmony with the Earth, no more than 3-4 billion people should reside here.

Our current population stands at 7.8 billion, and if projections are realised, that number will be 10 billion by 2050, 3 times the amount allocated for optimised living.

Climate change, waste products, poor sanitation, poverty and dwindling natural resources are bi-products of a species that has gone overboard in the bedroom.

On the face of it, our planet is on the road to self-destruction, so the logical question is what can be done about it and who stands to lose the most?

In the immortal words of Eric Idle in the Monty Python song Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life “You came from nothing, you gained nothing, so what have you lost, nothing!”

Those at the very bottom of the ziggurath do not have much to lose, except their miserable existence and ultimately their lives. The expendables.

In stark contrast, those at the very top of the ziggurath have the most to lose. According to Forbes 2020, there are 2095 billionaires and an estimated 47 million millionaires. It is these people that stand to lose the most.

If the planet was to self-destruct (non-explosively) over the coming century then some drastic measures would need to be taken to depopulate the amount of Homo Sapiens that dwell here to protect what the haves have right now, wealth, power and control.

How could that be done? I guess there are several ways to do that. War is one, too impactful. Proactive programmes is another, to limit the amount of children one has on a global scale, culturally and logistically difficult to achieve.

What about a covert operation? A plan so cunning that no one will suspect what is going on. The projection of a global campaign of fear, funded by 2095 billionaires and 47 million millionaires so that the vast majority of society placed under dystopian rules and regulations, with the very things that makes us human (consciousness, connectivity and community) consigned to the back of our minds as distant memories.

Separate us and we cannot reproduce. Alter our RNA/DNA and we cannot reproduce. Break our spirits and give us no hope for the future and we won’t want to reproduce.

So if this scenario was to play out over the coming years, then the population will decrease significantly and as a result, the planets ecosystem will regenerate, there will be enough natural resources to feed, clothe, water and energise the remaining populace and balance will be restored.

Left on a pre-COVID trajectory and the planet would truly be heading for oblivion and real soon.

There is a poignant and pivotal moment in Utopia where the character Wilson Wilson (not a typo, that’s his name honest), realises the master plan, and fights with his emotions as he knows that logically the syndicates objectives are to save humanity in the long run, but what does he believe in and how will he react?

Does he fight back and fight for the fundamental rights we all have as citizens of Planet Earth, or does he turn a blind eye and let the vast majority of the world be injected with a sterilisation vaccine, knowing that inaction now could lead to the end of the human race as we know it where everybody dies…

What would you do? What will you do?