As part of an ongoing but essentially lazy quest to wrap my psyche around alchemy, I had recently been drawn towards Paracelsus: the wonder-working itinerant sixteenth-century healer who is sometimes cast as the Copernicus of medicine. Rejecting the leech-loving, bass-ackwards, and literally by-the-book healing practices of most medieval doctors, Paracelsus instead made room for a medicine based on plants, material causality, and self-healing powers of the body.
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The Gnostics were sophisticated seers who belonged to a millennial pagan tradition that was brutally suppressed at the rise of Christianity. Can looking back at what such mystics thought in a bygone time and setting offer a viable spiritual orientation for our time? Why we are so compelled to delve into what the Gnostics thought?
The archetype of the wounded healer reveals to us that it is only by being willing to face, consciously experience, and go through our wound do we receive its blessing. To go through our wound is to embrace, assent, and say “yes” to the mysteriously painful new place in ourselves where the wound is leading us. This is a genuine death experience, as our old self “dies” in the process, while a new, more expansive and empowered part of ourselves is born.
In the full throes of ecstatic trance the body can shake and convulse almost uncontrollably, and the contemporary seeker experiences a quality of bliss, connection and healing that few other activities can offer. Trance dance practices from the oldest extant cultures in the world allow us to see beyond common appearances into a realm language and thought cannot touch.
Ivan “Chip” Frederick, the 40 year-old son of a coalminer and a homemaker from Oakland, Maryland, describes his mother as supportive and caring, and his father as very good to him. All of his life he has attended Baptist church services, and to this day considers himself a spiritual and moral person. But in 2003, Frederick attached electrodes to the left hand of Satar Jabar, the Iraqi prisoner whose hooded spectral image was to become the iconic representation of Abu Ghraib’s atrocious descent into hell. Under Frederick’s watch, prison guards observed or directly participated in the torture or humiliation of numerous prisoners. What drove him into barbarism?
Have you heard about The Philadelphia Experiment? No, not that twisted bit of occult paranoia involving extraterrestrials, space-time teleportation, and the US Navy. This Philadelphia Experiment is an arts collective that has embraced the community and philosophy of Burning Man, and has launched an inspired new scene in the City of Brotherly Love.
Imagine what the world would look like if there were millions of women who were anchors of ecstatic bliss energy. Imagine millions of women eschewing convention and walking their path towards their authentic nature, letting go the norms of social conformity in favor of following their heart bliss. Imagine if the world was filled with juicy mamas who love to be loved, and love to get loved on. We would live in a world where the top priority is to take care of each other, because taking care of each other is taking care of the whole.
[Tranceformers: Shamans of the 21st Century] •After-Death Communication (ADC) is the official term now given to what happened to me spontaneously in June 1988 where I was contacted by a “deceased” federal government physicist colleague, George Viguet (pronounced vee-gay). My friend had “died” prematurely at age 40 from a sudden cardiac arrest seven months previously in Huntsville, Alabama, but appeared suddenly “out-of-the-blue” one morning and that invoked a state of trance in me. I slipped into a very unique consciousness that was full-of-information about life and death in fact.
[Daemonic Dispatches] • Professor V. S. Ramachandran, Director of the Center for Brain and Cognition at UC San Diego, is one of the most visible neuroscientists proclaiming and popularizing the notion that there is an imminent revolution in the understanding of the human brain. His own recent work has focused on such mysterious neurological anomalies as phantom limbs, synaesthesia, and Capgras delusion, a condition in which family and friends are experienced as strangers. Attention to anomalies is at the heart of the Fortean endeavor. Yet there is much in Dr. Ramachandran’s science that obscures rather than illuminates.
Since last fall, swarms of honeybees have mysteriously disappeared in a global epidemic. Bird deaths are also on the rise, with unusual die-offs appearing across the planet. In both cases, scientists are struggling to find answers. Is Mother Nature trying to tell us something?