Saturday, April 23, 2022


Ghosts in the machine 

Dead lovers and unsuitable soulmates

Broken code dangling in quantum mystery

Locked blockchain no password 

Crypto scripto got no matter

In the shadow energy

Friday, January 21, 2022

Bridges, Ferries, and Mortality

There are a lot of cliches and metaphors about bridges, but that's because they work. Humans have always built bridges to cross over waterways, ravines, and other gaps or obstacles to where we want to go. Where we live there are lots of rivers, creeks, and other waterways and so there are many bridges. But not enough really. There used to be ferries at various points along the rivers, and many roads are named for these ferries. But I am unaware of any ferries around here that still operate. The old ferries were not the same as the big commercial ferries currently in use in bigger cities and other countries. They were often not much more than rickety rafts, which is one reason why they disappeared - due to safety regulations and whatnot - along with the construction of new bridges. There was one ferry I got to experience before it was shut down when I was in my early 20s. It was slightly more modern than a raft and was a little scary to trust carrying a few cars and several people, but my mom and grandmother wanted to show me some places from their earlier years and the ferry was part of that journey. That ferry shut down after a large bridge was completed. 

There are several major bridges in this area, but it would be nice to have more, especially connecting our area with the area where the kids went to school. As it is, we had to drive a fair distance out of the way to either bridge crossing the river between us and the schools. The closest bridge we always called "crooked bridge" because of its asymmetrical construction (BH Photo #270433 in link above). I don't know why they built it that way. Maybe the angles affect its strength and stability. That bridge gets tons of heavy traffic from 18 wheelers and dump trucks due to the industrial and mining complexes on that road. To have so much school traffic (buses and cars) there too has been the cause of much worry and several bad wrecks over the years.

When we bought our farm there was a very old, janky - mostly wood with some metal supports - bridge that we had to cross over the large creek bordering the property. I was always afraid of it and it frequently flooded when there were heavy rains. There were other accesses to the property when the bridge was impassable but they were fairly long detours.  This bad bridge, however, was not enough to deter us from buying the farm because it is a beautiful piece of property and the price was good. We didn't know when we bought it that the State of TN had already planned to replace that bridge as part of a state-wide program to replace so many dangerous, inadequate rural bridges. Although the road through our farm is gravel it is a County road which means that it is the State's and County's responsibility to maintain. The old bridge was demolished and construction of the a new bridge happened pretty quickly after we bought the farm. Now there is a solid concrete bridge that is so much better. It is less susceptible to flooding, though one time the water did flow a little over the top of it. The biggest problem now is that the side of the road across the bridge from our farm is lower in elevation and floods anyway when there is too much rain. It's okay because we have the other ways to get there, and the floods aren't that frequent. But it does illustrate the important of good, solid bridges.

The metaphorical bridges we build can be just as important. Nearly all relationships require emotional bridges that we use to close the gaps between us. Usually these bridges are constructed of words and actions, but sometimes thoughts are enough for some connections. The variety of these personal bridges are as many as the variety of bridges that cross our geographical landscapes. And their reliability, durability, and convenience are all just as variable. Sometimes instead of a bridge, we just need the occasional ferry, when a long-term connection isn't needed or wanted. There can also be metaphysical bridges between people that are not really the same as the emotional bridges but they can share the same space. Emotional bridges are built in the landscape of real actions and words, but the metaphysical ones are built of thoughts and intentions, maybe even dreams. To those of us with just a grandmother's understanding about such things we can imagine that concepts like the Einstein-Rosen bridge could help explain such metaphysical bridges, though they are more like tunnels (wormholes) that are pretty much just inside out (or rather outside in) bridges. ;-) Real scientists, especially physicists, really hate when we conflate their theories with metaphysical ideas. Sorry, but not really, because creating new connections and testing them is necessary. Scientists can be just as guilty of NIMBY (not in my backyard) as any others who don't want to be connected to what they consider unclean, undesirable, or any other objectionable things. "Don't you even think about using my theory to explain your hoodoo nonsense," is like, "Don't you even think about building a bridge to connect my happy neighborhood to that messed-up neighborhood." There is almost always some resistance by somebody against constructing new bridges. 

Shamanism utilizes metaphysical bridges in its connections. Journeying to the Dreamtime requires all sorts of metaphysical infrastructure but bridges are one of the main things because in Dreamtime quests we like to be as efficient as possible in getting over, around, through the more difficult passages. But bridges present their own dangers too. Under bridges is a popular hiding place for things that might want to stop, hinder, rob, or hurt us. There are these energies and entities in the metaphysical space as in the normal reality. Also there can be heavy, sometimes dangerous traffic just as on our bridge on the way to school. 

Not that all Dreamtime travel is fraught with risk and fear. Sometimes it can feel really good to be there. Enjoying the Dreamtime too much is a downfall that shamans need to avoid because it can become the journeying there just for the sensations of it without any intention or purpose. Not that pure pleasure is a bad thing, but there is a time and place that is more appropriate for that than the Dreamtime which is mostly meant for learning and guiding. If we were meant to live in the Dreamtime we wouldn't require reality and the metaphysical would be enough. The reason we have physical bodies with sensations is so that we will try to be "grounded" to reality. Our physical bodies and senses are the bridges between our metaphysical lives and our normal real lives. If someone claims not to have any sort of metaphysical life he is either misunderstanding certain experiences or ignoring them altogether. We can build bridges but we can't force people to use them. A lot of people have deep phobias of bridges - fear of collapse, fear of the unknown, fear of ambush in a vulnerable place, etc. - so we can either help them overcome those fears or leave them on the other side.   

Despite not being a very social person, in the past I have been an important bridge between people who've made pretty lucrative connections because I've been the one who connected them. It's not that I am so important or well-connected myself, but that I have facilitated the connections of people who otherwise would have never met but who needed each other for mutual benefit. I could be a matchmaker though these connections were not of the romantic variety. Sometimes I am good at seeing how people need to be connected to each person's benefit and help that happen. This helping people to solve problems by being a bridge to information or other people is part of my goal with shamanism. If I can't solve it, let me show you who can. Maybe in this sense I have been more of a ferry than a bridge since there wasn't usually a permanent structure created.

Bridges are often part of the imagery of mortality. Another role shamans can fill is that of helping others through the process of death, helping others "cross over" the "rainbow bridge" or the River Styx in some mythologies. I might have somewhat filled this role when my mom was dying, though I feel I mostly failed at creating any smooth, soothing transition. I just don't really know for sure since I was much too overcome with my own feelings and concerns. It was a very rickety, unstable passage for me, though mom seemed at as much peace as one could expect (though throughout life she had a bridge phobia). I feel some regret that I did not have the strength to carry her all the way to the end. She seemed to understand when I told her that I didn't think I could handle being in the room when she died, but now I do wish I had stayed by her side as she took her last breath. What a shamanic failure! All these years later it's some feeling of FOMO (fear of missing out) that nags at my mind, telling me that I might have mourned better if I hadn't been such a coward in the face of her death. 

I had begun this blog post on March 22, 2021. It's still not fully formed but I'm going to go ahead and publish it.    

Saturday, January 15, 2022


 Thoughts of mortality are heavy on my mind as I approach my 54th birthday, the age at which my mom died 25 years ago. While I am not ill like she had been for years before her passing I still have these thoughts to process. I have intentionally lived a much different life than she did, hoping for a different outcome than hers, but I have not escaped the usual midlife problems and worries. Things hurt. Youthful abuses or misuses of my body have caught up with me. I'm tired. Sometimes I just want to quit all my different jobs and "retire" to some mythical life on a warm Florida beach. I'm not sure my generation will really get that whole retirement deal that our parents and grandparents had (though mom didn't get there either). I remember my mom talking about being tired of working and wishing she could quit and just live a less demanding life, but she ultimately she valued the money, esteem and sense of autonomy she gained from her job more than leisure time and relaxation. And actually, she ended up working on up until 5-6 weeks before her death. She didn't want too much unoccupied time filled with pain and anxiety. She was a Capricorn.

In many ways I do believe our thoughts shape our reality so I am mindful of not dwelling on these morbid thoughts, but I also know we can't ignore things hoping they will just go away. It's really hard sometimes to control these thoughts about how much time I've wasted over the years. I try not to berate myself for the missed opportunities and inappropriate pursuits that sometimes haunt me. So much time I spent in my own head in some alternate universe that never amounted to anything. In the grand scheme of the universe what kind of wasteful folly have I made of these short years of life on this beautiful planet? As far as we know our experience as conscious, creative beings is very rare in the universe, so it seems especially important to make the most of that. But maybe we really aren't all that special? It might be nice to meet an extraterrestrial who could give us some perspective on the grander universe. Wouldn't it be funny to meet one who was having his own kind of midlife crisis? 

I don't really want to sound so whiny. But gosh, my hips hurt and I'm tired and I'm just not sure I want to start up any new businesses and endeavors. I just want to get through the rest of this month and get past that birthday.    

Monday, August 23, 2021

eScienceCommons: Fruit flies use alcohol as a drug to kill parasites

Another older article of interest regarding insects and "natural medicine." 

eScienceCommons: Fruit flies use alcohol as a drug to kill parasites: By Carol Clark Fruit flies infected with a blood-borne parasite consume alcohol to self-medicate, a behavior that greatly increases t...

eScienceCommons: The monarch butterfly's medicine kit

An "old" article and video but very interesting anyway.

eScienceCommons: The monarch butterfly's medicine kit: The journal Ecology Letters just published findings by Emory biologists that monarch butterflies use medication to cure themselves and the...

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Shamanic Shifts

As I talked about in the previous post I am revisiting my previous studies of shamanism, which is loosely defined as a way of living in which one examines and tests the connections of all things in nature. There are many different concentrations of the practice, some with healing priorities, some with teaching priorities, some with storytelling and tradition preservation priorities, some with fortune-telling and counseling priorities, and many others. One shaman can fulfill all of those functions or any combination of them. It isn't quite right to think of shamanism as specifically segmented as the medical profession with all of its specialties because shamans look at the whole as well as the parts and how all of it moves together harmoniously or not. A healer will need to teach and counsel and guide as part of the healing process. Sometimes storytelling and divination are vital aspects of the healing and guiding too. When I say fortune-telling/divination that means looking at signs, oracles, and all the "moving parts" of a situation and using all the mental tools (intuition, associations, common sense, basic "rules of nature" and so on) to predict the likely path of events. But surprises can also happen in that process.

In my previous studies and interests in shamanism I focused on the more occult, or mystical aspects of it - knowing the unseen and reading of signs and developing the intuitive sense - the fortune-telling aspects. Those are important things to study but I've learned that they are difficult to work with because it isn't always possible to get the feedback needed to know if the messages are mixed up or just plain wrong. And shamanism really depends upon the same kind of testing of ideas, treatments, etc. as scientific study. Shamans do not want to continue any action or course of treatment that is not working. Psychic knowledge is only useful if it is confirmed. I've heard a shaman use the term "direct revelation" to describe her approach, and that resonates with me. I found myself very frustrated by feeling like I was stumbling in the dark not knowing for sure if I was on the right path. That uncertainty was an important lesson in itself because the vast majority of our universe is darkness. Whether you call it dark matter, dark energy, the void or whatever name or concept for it, it is there and there is a lot of it. Our human existence is in the realm of light and it is really rather tiny in the grand spectrum. Trying to see into the dark can be fascinating, scary, frustrating, disappointing, overwhelming, addictive, thrilling, and so many big feelings. But focusing on the vast darkness can make one blind to the light and the subtleties it can illuminate.

My time with the dark and arcane sometimes led to some real mindfuckery, for lack of a better word. It's easy to fall into some delusional thinking when everything seems to have a deeper, hidden meaning, and when certain synchronicities, serendipities, and other ethereal entanglements seem substantial enough to be mutually experienced without actual solid confirmation. These mind games can be entertaining for a time, and sometimes they even cause real limbic, visceral responses. Those who practice phone, cyber, or whatever other "virtual" sex there might be know that just thoughts can be very physically arousing, and a good shared imagination can create fairly satisfying mutual experiences. I am willing to admit that I can't recreate that experience with just any random person. For me it has been rare to have a physical reaction without being in physical proximity but it has happened. Shamans have to learn how to deal with these energies because we view thoughts as things with their own energies and effects. We have to ask for confirmation so that we don't fall into delusions. Mindfucks aren't healing unless they are accompanied by supportive verbal communication. Always making others guess your real thoughts and feelings and making them second guess their own interpretations of interactions is a form of control, and sometimes even abuse when done maliciously. Usually, people are just trying to protect themselves from being hurt, but shamans are already hurt and learn to live with the pain that truth sometimes causes. But truth is ultimately less painful than delusion. Trying to manipulate people energetically (through thoughts but not "real" communication) is an illness that unethical shamans, or other ill people, might develop, but that kind of mindfuckery always backfires and needs to be corrected.       

Now that I've lived through a lot more stuff and have a little more understanding about how the world works I am less interested in solving mysterious puzzles and trying to guess what this sign or that message really means. Not so much looking for hidden messages anymore. What hides itself is not of much use to me. I've grown beyond that hide and seek game and now want to concentrate on real actions, real solutions, real healing. Knowledge is all good and fine but this short life on this planet is incomplete without real engagement with it. 

Shamans usually go through painful initiations. I've been through several. While we heal and learn we remain somewhat wounded because that keeps us sensitive, open and compassionate. Scar tissue is tough and somewhat numb, so there is a constant struggle to heal without becoming too armored by the physical and emotional scars of these initiations.

The popular stereotype of shamans and other types of spiritual "gurus" is that they are always wise and never make mistakes, but that is the fantasy. Most shamans wish to be always wise and knowing and right but if we are honest with ourselves and others we freely admit our mistakes and other downfalls. Sometimes we revisit former attachments. Maybe there is something new to learn or maybe it is just a mistake that we need reminded of its wrongness? Maybe time's passage has evolved misplaced magic into something else? Maybe we have to keep testing everything to make note of changing conditions and other variables? Always learning.

I've had to reread the shamanism tagged posts I've written a long time ago just to see if my recollections are accurate and to judge if my previous statements were completely stupid. For the most part they are all still fair and sometimes even better than I had remembered. I feel a bit more confident moving forward with my current thoughts and plans. My previous focus on animal symbolism and divination will continue to be part of my studies because there are lots of different ideas and traditions still to learn, but I am adding herbalism as a large part of the picture. As I mentioned my childhood experience of knowing that the plants would "talk" to me, I've come to the time and place where I am meant to learn much more about that. Shifting towards plant medicines is more "real" and measurable.

On our farm we have become licensed hemp growers. The State of Tennessee developed an "industrial hemp" program under which people can grow cannabis strains bred to have no THC (or very little) but high levels of CBD (non-intoxicating cannabinoid) that is therapeutic for pain, anxiety, and insomnia. Our first growing season and harvest were complicated and hampered by our daughter's wedding planning and building a new pole barn for that and future events and uses, but we did produce a small amount of a fairly good quality hemp flower. All hemp has to be independently tested to assure that the THC levels are low enough and that the CBD levels are high enough to be therapeutic. Cannabis is an extremely complex plant with many different cannabinoids and terpenes that we are only beginning to learn more about because of its suspect legal status and limited past research. State laws allowing CBD circumvent Federal law which still mostly views all cannabis as illegal though a bill was passed that created this loophole for the states and CBD. Anyway, it is only one part of the herbalism study I am undertaking. There are so many common plants that have medicinal compounds and properties. In addition to the traditional knowledge, we have a lot more scientific research that has confirmed (but sometimes contradict) these traditional uses.

And sure, another common stereotype of shamans is that they sit around drumming and using psychoactive plants to travel into the "dreamtime" or other dimensions, and that can be part of their practice and tools for their work. But so is being able to recommend other plant allies to assist with ailments and other problems at are solidly rooted in this immediate dimension. Our modern cultures and technologies have separated us from nature, and too often we have been told that we humans are not a good part of nature, that we are killing the planet even. This is not true! And shamanism, if it's truly honest, will work to remind humanity that it is absolutely a natural inhabitant of this world. Of course, our greater degree of conscience and self-determination come with greater responsibility for avoiding real abuse and complete destruction, but to say that humans are the worst part of the world is just not right. When beavers dam a waterway and cause habitat, breeding, and feeding destruction to other species those humanity-haters will say, "Oh, that's just what beavers do and all the other animals and plants will adapt. That is nature." Or when large herds of animals leave widespread damage in the wake of their seasonal migrations, that is the natural life. But when humans build our structures it's somehow unnatural or undesirable. Such nonsense is easily ingrained in people who do live their lives separated from nature. They only ever see concrete and other manmade surroundings and never see where their food is grown or where their garbage goes. They've only ever been given manmade pills (usually lab synthesized from plant compounds) to take for their illnesses, aches, or other ailments, never even aware that the actual whole plants might be even more effective because they are in the form that evolved along with us. We are part of nature, and we can care about it and use it responsibly without buying into all the nature-worship-people-hating religions that seek to destroy human development and evolution. I expect in my shamanic studies I will encounter a fair share of such misled souls, but I hope to be able to contribute the perspective of the naturalness of humans and how we have evolved within all of this nature and as such, we are deeply connected, symbiotic, and even necessary.  

Well, this certainly ended up a lot longer than I'd expected. I have to say it feels pretty good to be writing things out again. I'm still a little rusty and might not consistently have time to do this like in the past. But here it is.  



Monday, March 15, 2021

The March of Time: Where Have I Been and How Did I Get Back Here?

If for no other reason than to document for myself what has filled the last 10 years, I'm going to attempt to remember and write as much of the notable stuff as I can.

Looking back to see where I left off and what was happening then I have to admit that there are big gaps in my memory. Those are most likely due to life just being very mundane and my keeping focused on those immediate needs and responsibilities. Not to say that life was boring! It certainly was not, what parts I can remember anyway. 

During and for some time after the 2008-2010 period of overwhelming losses, illnesses, and other hardships, I think fell into a hole of insanity, or maybe it was more of a dark, thick cloud of mental and physical exhaustion. I made some mistakes in dealing with some things, and some of those regrets added to the length of recovery. Focusing on others and their needs and giving up my addictions helped pull me out of the funk but it also left parts of myself somewhat neglected (leftover voids). It's all a give-and-take, and ultimately giving wins out, whether by duty or by natural inclination. Those neglected aspects generally remain unchanged...  

The Band Life

Once my kids got into middle school and high school it seemed they needed me more in lots of ways, than when they were little. I became much more involved in their activities, especially marching band in high school. I was all-in as a "Band Mom" because I loved watching my kids perform and because the band program relied on parent volunteers to help it function. Their school had an awesome band program, and it really made all the difference for my oldest, especially, because he excelled and got to have many opportunities and experiences that otherwise wouldn't have been possible. It also took him off a potentially harmful path with some of the "wrong" people. The marching band program was led by a popular, effective director, and the program was loved and well-supported by many of us. In addition to the full ensemble of outdoor marching, my favorite activities were the indoor percussion programs. Man, the drumming and creativity were sometimes like a drug. I still have ideas and visions of potential shows though I don't exactly have the music writing and other technical skills to bring them to life. The 8 year capsule of time involved with music, performance, camaraderie, is a definite highlight of life and resulted in some very nice, lasting friendships. But like nearly all other awesome time periods it was not destined to last forever. The great band director moved on to continue his education and the programs quickly disintegrated into mediocrity and worse under different leadership. It was extremely frustrating to be in the middle of it and to have it somewhat sully the kids' memories of the band life. Heydays come and go. I guess kids have to learn that too. The band life for us ended in Spring 2018. 

The Farm

I had to look back at the official papers to remind myself of when exactly we bought the farm in Grainger County. It was Spring 2017, and it is a little surprising that so much time has passed. It was originally bought to be a kind of hunting retreat for the guys but it has evolved a lot since then. My oldest son rebuilt an old house on the property and lives there and seems to be very happy. Google maps streetview is so out of date in that area that it looks nothing like the current condition, but it's kind of cool to see a reminder of how much work has been done in 4 years. A very old decrepit house (built around 1900) that we called "The Spook House" had to be knocked down. I was a little sad about it but it was a hazard and liability and damaged beyond affordable repair. 

At some point we might build a house on the property but that plan keeps getting delayed for various reasons. I have mixed feelings about it. I sometimes really, really want to start refresh in a new place. Our current house is too big, too much to care for as I'm getting older and less energetic about those things. I used to do all kinds of "manly" home maintenance, but I'm tired of having to do it and it's really hard to find honest, reliable people to do it for me. My guys are too busy playing on the farm to help around here. Last year I was so over it that I basically presented an ultimatum - things have to change one way or another.  For several years I'd been saving most of the rental income I got from renting out my parents' old house. I thought seriously about kicking out the renters and going to live there myself. But that wouldn't have solved the no-help-with-maintenance problem. It just would have moved its location. Then I thought, okay, I'll sell that house and buy myself a condo where I won't have to deal with all the inside and outside maintenance. My sister has a really nice condo I could see myself living in something similar. So the ultimatum was basically that I'm selling the rental house and I'm either buying myself a condo or building something smaller/newer/less maintenance on the farm and you can come with me or not. No divorce. Just a different living arrangement, one that doesn't leave me feeling abandoned and somewhat helpless. If I was going to be left alone all the time then I wanted to at least be where I wasn't also constantly overwhelmed. Divorce has never really been a serious consideration, though I've inquired a few times if that was something that was wanted. It's too complicated and creates too much animosity to go down that path. 

Anyway, as is usual with ultimatums you end up having to eat your words if you don't have the courage to follow through with the most drastic action. The condo idea was scoffed and the promise of a new house on the farm was made. The rental house was put on the market and sold at full price within a week. Well, the closing of the deal took over a month due to the covid restrictions and complications. Approximately one year ago I was a quite wealthy woman, lots of cash in the bank, or at least a lot to me - nothing like a million or even half but enough that I felt secure and valuable, with some means to negotiate if it came to that. Now, I don't want it sound at all like I am, or feel, oppressed or controlled. I am where I am because I choose to be faithful to my duties and responsibilities, not because I've been suppressed into submission. There has been no abuse. There has been some neglect however, as I've tried to explain throughout. So for a short time despite the covid insanities of the world I felt hopeful about the future.

Then my daughter fell in love and decided to get married. That's all fine and good, and I'm happy she found her life partner. He's a good guy. She wanted a barn wedding, something that's very popular these days, and looking at venues she was discouraged because of the high costs to rent them. Because of covid most churches were refusing to allow weddings so all the other places were getting booked up. When we bought the farm part of the future vision for it was to create a venue for groups to have events, retreats, camps, and so on. As one might foresee how this story is going, my future house funds were diverted to build a new "pole barn" for my daughter's wedding and future weddings, events, etc. It was an investment, of course, into the future for everyone. Again, momma sacrifices everything for the family. No, I'm not really as bitter or upset as that sounds, but it would be dishonest to say that I haven't had my moments of feeling completely drained and done. And let me tell you, planning a wedding can turn the sweetest girls into Bridezillas and my daughter was one of the worst. I've never felt so unappreciated and... unliked. I never thought we had a difficult relationship but the last year has strained it and made me pretty sad sometimes. I've watched a documentary about the female animals that die for their children - they starve themselves guarding them until they hatch and sometimes the hatchlings eat her remains. Sometimes that's how I feel. Fortunately, my sons are much more expressive of their appreciation and affection for me, though I never ever say such comparative things to the kids because that is just not good for relationships.

Despite all of that it was an absolutely beautiful and serene wedding. We hosted over 120 people, mostly unmasked though we had many available if people wanted them or forgot theirs. Lots of hand sanitizers were available. Social distancing was up to the individuals but there were many hugs all around. We broke most of the "rules" but thankfully not a single person got covid from being there. 

And sorry, kids, if you ever read this, for putting certain things "out there" but in reality, pretty much nobody is going to read this anyway, and it's for my own documentation because I am really concerned with my own cognitive decline. I pray to God that I don't succumb to dementia. That has got to be the absolute worst way to go. Watching friends lose their parents to it is heartbreaking. Not that I think I'm going senile already but I have noticed some aging related changes. I am not a young woman anymore. Time marches on.

Current Conditions

So now I am finding myself with that same overwhelmed and somewhat alone feeling that was supposed to have been remedied by now with a new start in a new place. But now I don't even have the bargaining power of a rental house or money. I have nothing, but I also have everything, if that makes any sense. It's just that everything is still more than I can manage. On top of not having an "escape" we have the added complications of my daughter and son-in-law living here with us. It's not a bad thing usually, but sometimes I just want to scream "I want MY house back!" Covid has created a lot of problems in so many aspects of life for nearly everyone, and young married couples have a hard time finding affordable housing if they aren't already in a place on their own. Allowing them to live here is helping them save money to buy/build their own place, and this house is certainly big enough for them to have their own "wing" that can feel like their own place, except for sharing the kitchen and laundry. The arrangement was supposed to include them doing a lot of helping around here in place of paying rent, but that hasn't happened so much. Part of it is because I have lost my "viciousness" (whatever it was that gave me the energy to assert my authority, etc.) due to being metaphorically beaten down by disappointments and some mistreatment (Bridezilla stuff). Like a Pavlov dog, I am not immune to such conditioning. But also, they are young and just starting out in the world of full-time work and learning how to be married and all of that stuff which all can be rather overwhelming too. I try to have some empathy and compassion instead of feeling put-upon, used, and self-absorbed. But come on, how hard can it be for them to take out the goddamn garbage? 

My daughter has all these ideas about what her perfect house should look like, and I'm not that stringent in trying to have the "perfect" house because I've learned that time is valuable and one can spend all day washing dishes to keep the sink empty or one can wash dishes once per day and have time to do other things and so what if there are some dirty dishes in the sink for a short time? My priorities are not to have a kitchen that looks like it is never used. My house is a working house and working efficiently requires stuff to be out and accessible. She might learn eventually not to put so much value on a particular vision of life because those perfect visions really are not functional nor sustainable. Or maybe she will be one of those few people who can maintain that perfect image without completely alienating all the normal people who fail to meet unreasonable expectations? She is the one person who has done the most to make me feel completely inadequate and worthless (I am so sorry for the times I ever made my own mother feel that way- I'm certain it happened because I was a lot like my daughter when I was her age and I didn't even realize what an asshole I was). But the truth is she doesn't really clean as well as I do. Just putting stuff out of sight isn't cleaning. Leaving crumbs and spills on the stove is not clean, regardless of how many dishes you've washed. You see, I do actually have pretty high standards for my kitchen cleanliness which means doing more than just moving things around to make it look a certain way. These conflicts are amplified by having to share the kitchen, but I feel like she has no concept of "hierarchy" in that she acts like we are equals in this situation, but we are not. If they paid half of all the bills and did half of all the work of maintaining the household, then yeah, maybe they could be closer to "equal." But just being adults and married does not really give them the same status in this household as they would have in their own house. **I really do love my daughter and don't want it to seem otherwise. She is "vicious-momma-in-training" ;-) She might feel hurt to read these things but I have to be honest in how I feel. I am allowed to express my hurt and pain even if it makes others uncomfortable to know their part in it. Holding it in has not been healthy. ** 

Blog Therapy

I know this all sounds like a bunch of "woe is me" whining and complaining, and maybe I do sound a bit like Meghan Markle and Prince Harry moaning about how unfair and hard their lives are. Well, my life isn't really so bad, I know that, but it's also okay to exorcise some of the darker feelings by getting them out of my head and into words. Also, as mentioned above, I feel the need to document things for future reference. Now that my kids are all adults and relatively independent I do have more time to spend on my own things. I'm finding new interests, or more accurately, revisiting previous interests with new eyes and perspective. 

Blogging was an important part of my "previous" life, and I hope to include it more moving forward (I've said that before but now I do have more time), although it will most likely be much less "social" than before. An original fellow blogger from the beginning has even passed away (Mr. G rip). I certainly don't expect to recreate the past. But the days of Facebook are waning and Twitter is fun sometimes but rather shallow. I expect Instagram to remain important but it is primarily for images. 

What Comes Around

I am extending my learning about herbal healing and other shamanic or "witchy" subjects. These things have always been of interest to me, even as a young child. When I was about 5 I had a very vivid and never-fading message, not a vision exactly but a deep knowing, that "these plants will talk to you and tell you how to help/heal yourself and others." It sounds crazy, and maybe it is, but looking back on my 53 years I see how this message has endured and built upon itself and is kind of demanding the attention to fully express itself. I have always known that my ultimate goal in life was to be the Old Crone Witch Doctor, and here I am getting closer to that. 

Herbalism is a really big thing right now as more people are looking for alternatives to the overly processed and artificial stuff that seems to be less helpful than it has been sold to be. It's not a left-right political thing, though some people want to make it that way because they try to tie other overly processed and artificial ideas and movements like Global Warming to the desire to live a more "natural" life. Well, I want to avoid all the political garbage that people try to attach to otherwise nice ideas. 

It is not so controversial to believe that because we humans have evolved within and alongside all the rest of Nature there are going to be inherent relationships between our biologies and the biologies of the plants that we have consumed and evolved alongside. Some of this, I believe, can be intuitive when aided by actual knowledge. Long ago people relied on visual traits for clues about the possible uses of plants. This "doctrine of signatures" has largely been laughed off by modern scientists, but we are beginning to learn more about the actions of plant compounds that sometimes are consistent with that old idea. One personal example that surprised and delighted me was the sweet gum tree growing in my backyard. This tree produces these spiky balls that contain their seeds. And the leaves and balls when crushed have this citrusy, kind of medicinal scent. We are learning a lot about plant terpenes (aromatic compounds) and how they are responsible for medicinal actions through their chemical structure and interactions with our bodies. So with my little bit of knowledge about terpenes and also about the shapes of viruses, I intuited that maybe these sweet gum balls have some antiviral use. (They really are shaped just like viruses.) So being the good little investigator I did some research and discovered that yes, indeed, the sweet gum balls have significant amounts of the very same compound (shikimic acid) that is used to make the antiviral medication Tamiflu. Ha! Of course, this isn't a "real" scientific discovery on my part, but I've learned that life doesn't always fit neatly into a strict formula. Incidentally, I suspect that the sweet gum tincture I made that I've taken nearly every day of this pandemic has helped me avoid getting sick with covid, or any other viruses, along with the obligatory public masking, distancing, and the hand-washing I've always done. 

So I am learning to trust my intuitions a little more, but they must be tested too. The shamanic approach to life really depends on continuous observation and testing. It is not dogmatic. While there are truths of nature that we all live with there is so much more to our human experience than what we have been allowed (by some religions, and also by dogmatic science) to explore and develop. Shamanism and science have more in common than most scientists would like to admit, but let's be real here and acknowledge that there are lots of people who claim to be scientific but they are just as rigid and dogmatic as the worst types of religious people. Anyway, I don't want to debate the abuse of science any more than I want to debate political ideas that are inappropriately connected to nature. My concerns now are more in the direction of finding actual solutions to problems than in fighting about ideas. 

It looks like I've gotten to a fair stopping point for now. I'm not sure yet if by returning to some old places I am only a ghost of the past, haunting and stirring up some unrest. The empty and abandoned places tend to attract restless spirits.                 


Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Happiness Is a Warm Gun (Be Still and Know)

(I first wrote about 80% of this on 10-6-2018 but decided to revisit and finish it after the re-emergence of relevant concerns.) 

When I hold you in my arms (oh, yeah)
And I feel my finger on your trigger (oh, yeah)
I know nobody can do me no harm (oh, yeah)
Because, (happiness) is a warm gun, mama (bang bang shoot shoot)
Happiness is a warm gun, yes it is (bang bang shoot shoot)

~ John Lennon, Paul McCartney

This country does not have a "gun problem." It has a penis problem. We need to ask ourselves why so many men and boys have lost respect for themselves, girls, and life itself. While I am inherently skeptical about the validity of every claim of sexual harassment within the explosion we've seen in the last year or so, I recognize that there is something going on. Obviously, men like Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Bill Cosby, Bill Clinton, Jeffrey Epstein, and Andrew Cuomo are just a few of the horrible, nasty creeps who have been exploiting women and using their positions of power to get their jollies. But I suspect that plenty of the one-off accusations that the "me too" hashtag has incited could actually be explained as misunderstandings lacking any true malicious intent or just plain old bandwagoning. No, girls, a guy moving in for a kiss on the first date is not sexual assault. It moves into that dark territory when he won't take no for an answer. And it's not sexual harassment if a man notices and compliments a woman's appearance. We can't go around dressed for attention and then get angry when we get it. Men are confused. They see women who look like they want their bodies to be noticed and appreciated, but when they do notice they are scolded or worse. They want to flirt but if they do they risk being labelled as sexually aggressive. On the other hand, I have to wonder if there really is a growing number of men who just don't know how to behave. I tend to believe that yes, this is also an aspect of the problems we're having with sexual harassment and increased gun violence, especially in our young men, but I just don't know because what I see in my own life does not reflect any of that toxic masculinity that the media et al tell us is running rampant.  

The penis problem isn't just limited to the men. Apparently we women don't know much about them either. We don't seem to understand maleness at all. In this day of gender confusion we're moving into a dangerous mindset of emasculation - of believing that man-ness is bad, that maleness is inherently malevolent, that erasing masculinity will somehow erase all violence and sexual motivation. It's simply bullshit to try vilify the nature of one half of the human population. It's no wonder that boys prefer to immerse themselves into the virtual worlds of their hyper-realistic video games where they can interact with exaggerated, unrealistically idealized feminine characters without being rejected and labeled and where they can wield deadly weapons with no real consequences. We've forced their masculinity into the realms of fantasy and virtual reality. The penis envy of the early feminists has switched over to penis persecution. It's not that different from the way that men thousands of years ago took their envy of women's life-creating ability and switched it to be the source of all sin of the world. And now, the accused-and-therefore-guilty mindset of the anti-feminine witch hysteria days has swung into the accused-and-therefore-guilty mindset of the "me too" sexual assault hysteria where any man accused of sexual misconduct is automatically considered guilty and the only way he can prove his innocence is through a no-win "sink or swim" test (like the accused witches who were thrown into deep water and if they swam/floated they were guilty and executed but if they sank that proved their innocent but they are dead anyway). 

False accusations of sexual aggression/assault have become a weapon of the leftists who seem to hate white men more than any other group in the world. And it's not enough for the accusations to be recent and more easily investigated. They now are going back decades into a man's history to make accusations that even the accusers can't truly remember enough to be adequately supported. Not only are they looking back 35+ years but also back into the teenage years when people aren't even considered legal adults. They are abandoning all aspects of our justice system which was designed to protect the rights of the accused because, and this is the really important part, throughout human history FALSE ACCUSATIONS HAVE BEEN USED TO HURT OTHERS! Yes, I'm yelling that because people forget history and don't want to hear it. There's even a many thousands-of-years-old Commandment against "bearing false witness" against your neighbor. This is and has been a thing that humans have had to deal with from the very beginning of our existence. So, no, it is not rational, logical, ethical, or legal to "believe the women" above all else. I hate to say it but this whole thing makes a lot of women look too stupid to be equal. Equality does not expect special treatment and does not expect exceptions to the rules. This applies to all people regardless of whatever special identities they have given themselves.  

This insanity has to stop. It is not helping our society or species to move forward. There are many aspects to the solution that we must consider. Most of the big problems with our society at this time stem from the mindset of identity politics in which each group of people chooses some trait upon which to base their entire identity and value. For some it's skin color, for some it's their sexual preference, for some it's gender completely separated from biological sex, for some it's religion or political belief. They make that one part of themselves the most important and expect everyone to know how to treat them accordingly. There are a lot of assumptions being made and being expected, and that is ripe for all kinds of misunderstanding. Those of us who have for half a century lived by the idea of judging people not by their skin color (or some other random trait) but by their character (how they act) are now being told that is our "white privilege" to be "color blind" or whatever other blind. In truth, the actual color blindness originated from rejecting looking at everything from a black or whatever-colored lens. It was a black man who taught us to be color blind, so you'd think they would understand that. But this isn't really about race or skin color. We are talking about an even more basic division of human existence. The problem of identity politics is just one part of it.

It is a scary time for young men. But really, it's scary for all of us because the rift between common sense and emotion-driven reaction has become almost unbridgeable. The increasing use of mob protest, personal harassment/intimidation, and threats of violence against anyone who does not agree with the leftist malcontents is only increasing the possibility mass casualties. What can we do to address the problems our males seem to have with getting through life and navigating this messed-up society? Other than defeating the irrational forces that only want to punish males for being male, we must find ways to teach our boys (and girls) how to deal with the stresses of living in a world where conflict is the first response to everything. We need to try to get everyone to keep their fingers off of the metaphorical triggers.

Back when I was in middle school in the early 1980s everyone took hunters' safety classes in which we learned the proper handling of firearms and the rules for safe hunting and sport shooting. We all learned the biggest basics that 1) you never point a gun at a person, 2) you never store a gun loaded, 3) you should always assume a gun is loaded when you handle it (because some people don't follow rule #2). That isn't everything but they are the most basic rules. Nowadays people refuse to learn anything about guns and choose to pretend that ignorance is going to keep them safe. Even worse, they believe that it is possible to make enough laws to eliminate guns and/or gun violence. That will never work. Once people have a right it is immoral and actually impossible to take it away. Instead, we must be more proactive in educating and promoting safe and responsible gun ownership and handling. Instead of prohibitions, we could look at liability insurance much like with vehicles. Of course, people still drive without proper insurance but that is not an argument against insurance itself. This is just one idea.

We need to hold our entertainment industries more accountable for the influences they have on our children. The musicians glorifying violence and disrespect against women and law enforcement need to be held as accountable for their part of "me too" and other social unrest as much as the "young white men" who listen to it. The video game industry that creates hyper-realistic violent games needs to be held accountable for their influence on young people. Sure, free speech allows them to create whatever they want to create, but if we are going to start using decades ago high school antics for reasons to condemn people today, then it's only fair to look at current entertainment to blame for once and future violations of law. I'm not calling for any bans or censorship but for these industries to do a lot more to reinforce the differences between fantasy and reality and encourage/teach kids how to deal with the real world with technology instead of escaping it through technology. All of the Hollywood actors who bemoan the evils of gun violence and sexual aggression need to look at their own products and take responsibility for their own contributions to these problems. Free speech rights require just as much self-control and responsibility as gun rights do. Free speech does not mean that people can say anything without consequences. They love to tell that to conservatives who say "offensive" things but they sure don't want to apply that to themselves. They are the problem.

We need to return to the basic teachings of the original laws such as the Ten Commandments. Now, of course I'm not saying we have to force Christianity on everyone. Don't be stupid. I'm saying that these basic laws were established a very long time ago to address basic human problems. There is nothing particularly religious about laws against murder, stealing, and lying. It's just good interpersonal relations to avoid adultery and coveting of your neighbors' stuff. Those things often lead to the other, "bigger" crimes. The parts about honoring God and having a holy day can easily be thought of as the psychological need to have something to live for and to take time to rest and honor what we have. Whether it is some God or life itself, we humans function best when we hold something sacred and take time to appreciate it. In all of these thousands of years these laws have helped us establish a civilization. While no human endeavors have been free of conflict and problems having these basic rules have helped us advance as far was we have. You'd think that all those intellectuals who think they are so much smarter than the rest of us would actually recognize that this world and everything in it moves in accordance with a knowable set of natural laws. Is it really so hard to observe that emotional actions/reactions operate in the same ways as a ball being kicked or a gun being fired?

Beyond reinforcing the basic laws and the psychosocial issues they address, we need to look at new approaches to treating mental issues and increase mental health treatment options. As our society has technologically advanced it has lagged in its treatment of those who struggle with mental illness. The deinstitutionalization of the last half century has not well-served the needs of our communities. The reaction of closing all the mental hospitals because of the problems inside them only moved the problems. Now our communities are not equipped to handle the worst mental illness because there is nowhere for those who are just unable to function. Our prisons have become overcrowded with those whose mental illnesses have been untreated to the point of their becoming dangerous, but prison is not designed nor equipped for those whose minds don't grasp reality. And the other approach of normalizing mental illnesses, like gender dysphoria, is not going to end well either.

I am a full-fledged, real-life capitalist and believe the free market is truly the only fair and sustainable economy, but with all that freedom there is an equal need for responsibility. Ideally, industries would self-regulate and act fairly on their own but bad people, bad ideas, and bad actions will always exist in some portion. We need to hold the pharmaceutical industry more responsible for the drugs it pushes on kids and families and everyone else. The drug problems are no longer limited to illegal drugs. The opioid epidemic is directly related to the overprescribing of opioid painkillers. We must educate our physicians on alternative pain relief therapies. We must educate everyone that there is no magic pill that fixes everything. So much of the advertising on TV is pushing some pill or other that promises to cure all of our problems, but the reality is that most of these medications have fairly marginal efficacy and come at a huge cost. Our healthcare philosophy over the last half century has been focused on pharmaceutical treatments, but we have only become sicker and less healthy. We need to incorporate a more holistic approach to health and healing. This is not a woo-woo hoo-doo idea. Many regions of the world have developed quite advanced alternative health treatments that are just as, if not more, effective as Western pharmaceuticals. Of course, I'm not suggesting eliminating pharmaceuticals. Do not misunderstand what I'm saying.

We have these wonderful, complex brains that create emotions in response to experiences. Sometimes these emotions are the experience. We might not fully understand all the processes, physiology, blah, blah, blah, about emotions but that doesn't mean we can't figure out how to process and experience them without making ourselves and everyone else crazy or acting in harmful ways. We must teach self-responsibility instead of blaming everything on race, sex, etc., because as humans we all share certain commonalities regardless of those traits. We all have to eat, poop, sleep, and so on, and having emotions is one of those basic human things. It's not in our best interest to try to medicate away our emotions, and it's not adaptable to fight them so much either. We have to learn and teach our children how to identify, process, evaluate, and express emotions without becoming crippled or overwhelmed by them. Happiness is pretty easy, and we all like that one. Anger isn't so popular but it won't go away by ignoring it and it isn't well-served to be overly indulged either. Sadness is another hard one but sometimes it just wants to be felt for a short time and let go. Anger and sadness are closely related and sometimes confused. Anger needs recognition but careful expression. Go find a shooting range or some other safe place to fire a gun and see how powerful that release of energy can help with expelling anger. Happiness is a warm gun indeed.

This whole blathering post is basically about anger - misplaced anger against males and penises and the "patriarchy" that supposedly oppresses anyone who isn't a straight white male. But let's be real and honest. Anyone who's ever worked in an office full of women can tell you that a matriarchy is no less brutal, oppressive than a patriarchy. Desire to control, manipulate, exploit others is not testosterone dependent. I don't know where it comes from exactly, but I am certain that it is as prevalent in females as males or any of the other 37 or whatever number of genders they want to create. And I'm just saying be ready when the much maligned straight white males finally find their metaphorical happiness guns and start making a lot of noise. There is always backlash...

I'll wind this down here by offering some "spiritual" advice in addition to the warm gun therapy. Be still and know. What I mean by that is not "do nothing at all." I mean stop a moment to observe and evaluate all the moving parts (including emotions) and other conditions, consider how all of it might move in accordance with the basic laws of nature, and then know what action to take if any (and to find the most efficient path). This is also a somewhat zen-like advice. I might be perverting a lot of things here but it is what it is. If it causes anyone anger then that's their problem and not mine. I don't hate men, penises, women, vaginas, guns, emotions, laws of nature, fat people, or anything else (except cruelty/meanness). I might be just another ordinary complete fucking idiot but at least I have a warm gun. ;-)