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Thread: Mystic Blood: A Letter from a Celt to a Celt

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    Mystic Blood: A Letter from a Celt to a Celt

    June 10, 1997

    Dear Ms. McKennitt,
    Heaven knows I've listened to you often enough so I feel that I know you. You and your sweet, loving voice oft bring tears to my eyes. My other favorites are Enya and the music of Java, which I profoundly recommend that you get to know, in that our mysticism is arguably deeper and more beautiful than the Sufi strain you looked at in producing The Mask and Mirror and The Book of Secrets. Java's mysticism (kebatinan) is primarily and ultimately a communal rather than an individual pursuit (with Sufism often having a heavy individualistic bent) which ties our entire society and culture to the purpose:

    Mamayu hayuning bawana
    Mamayu hayuning jagad
    Serve the harmony of the world
    Serve the harmony of the universe

    I currently live in Brazil where the most obvious approach to existence is expressed in what is called Gerson's law:

    Levar vantagem em tudo
    Take advantage in everything

    Evidently Brazil is just expressing the current trends more aggressively than most of the world since this does seem to be the tenor of our times. At times I must admit to despairing altogether for the souls of Western man but then I listen to your lovely voice and remember the competing Open (Caring) and Closed (Uncaring) hierachies of authority that underlie much of the confusion. Recalling these structures (with their allied contracts) will help to sort some of it out in any case.
    I am an offshore Celt too, though from among the Picts and Scots across the Irish Sea in Scotland for the most part. On my grandmother White's side, I go back through Robert Louis Stevenson. In addition, through my grandfather Ash, I have druid sorts lurking in from Cornwall within as well. Howe means valley or depth in Scottish (the howe of the night, the howeness of hell). I was born in the United States but gratefully spent much of my youth in the woods and climbing trees. When I was eleven or so, my love of trees exploded in my first fulminating and to this day most profound orgasm as I was shinnying up a young ash. Of a sudden came luminous transcendence in epiphany and an experience that expresses in Javanese as maha rasa murni ana ing reresmin lair batin sampurna magung. Words are something of a challenge even in Javanese, which provides a singularly detailed map of existence, but the feelings are in open reception (rasa murni) and go on and on, here and now, not really needing words. So by rights I became a druidic nature worshipper, looking down the long line of those defining my path. As a result, I find it hard to relate to being an American. At the same time, my sense of the Celts, in as much as I like us at all, is not much pleased by our often overbearing families and clans which clearly attend to the usual human interest in setting up hierarchies where authority can easily be abused (and frequently has been). What I like is our tradition of, from time to time, insisting on reality in relating to events. Good examples of this come in Stevenson's Kidnapped in the person of Jennet Clouston (who is much of our dear Morrigan):

    The woman's face lit up with malignant anger. "That is the house of Shaws!" she cried. "Blood built it; blood stopped the building of it; blood shall bring it down. See here!" she cried again. "I spit upon the ground, and crack my thumb at it! Black be its fall! If ye see the laird, tell him what ye hear: tell him this makes the twelve hunner and nineteen time that Jennet Clouston has called down the curse on him and his house, byre and stable, man, guest, and master, wife, miss, or bairn--black, black be their fall!"
    And the woman, whose voice had risen to a kind of eldritch singsong, turned with a skip, and was gone. I stood where she left me, with my hair on end. In those days folk still believed in witches and trembled at a curse; and this one, falling so pat, like a wayside omen, to arrest me ere I carried out my purpose, took the pith out of my legs.

    and in an ever-so-dour behest with regard to the seemingly endless misuse that has beleaguered Celts since the advent of the preponderant, preternatural, tendentious Romans: Caesar's veni, vidi, vici and Juvenal's panem et circenses are marks of misbegotten collectives, devoted to causing pain to their neighbors far and near, while floating about pretending superiority with seeming impunity. ‘Tis mistaken to say, "aliquando bonus dormitat Homerus" (sometimes worthy Homer nods); for good and ill, adamantine Hellenes and baleful Celts get it quite right enough altogether. Here is a Scottish anathema that kens the why and the way of it, stretching out from some five centuries past: uncanny how pain kindles epiphany as we dree our weird one and all, then and now.

    'Sdeath, ye mad me! Be meet me do me job methink.
    Believe me dree! Believe me doom!
    My dree! Thy doom!


    As a result of my sense of things not conforming to that of those about me, I took an interest in the great things of existence and the great questions of being. I looked for the broadest area of concern possible in plumbing the depths of being human and ended up an anthropologist. In 1978 I went off to Java to do Ph.D. research and found my heart and soul there (including an openly defined and still understood druidic tradition in their sutapa). Home at last. I've been struggling to serve the love and beauty I have found there ever since.
    When I got back from Java in 1980 I finished up my Ph.D. with a dissertation about the kebatinan group I became a leader of while I was in Java, which is called SUMARAH: A Study of the Art of Living. I produced the work, which was ranked in the highest category, in a flashing period of four months, the inspiration was so urgent (though the reason for this rush has never become clear to me). I wrote articles afterwards while I was trying to present myself to anthropology and fortunately for my sense of worth and pride (but unfortunately for my erstwhile career) started out with the challenge:

    Are we irresponsible? Does our work too often reflect the Faustian hubris of our times and constitute intellectualistic humbuggery which obfuscates our subject matter? Whom do we respect? As Sapir (1928:41) asked concerning our denial of traditional wisdom and our "fragmentary and experimental analysis," are we not "throwing away a greater wealth for the sake of a lesser and more dazzling one?" This article discusses a part of this old wealth, "traditional holism," and the perspective it gives on the problems of existence and being together.

    The article, “Traditional Holism: Reflections on Natural Law,” is a beauty but no one took up the gauntlet. Neither this, nor the article “Open and Closed Psychology: How Different Can We Be?”, was accepted for publication and I found no place among the lot that make up anthropology these days. So with a six-month-old baby girl in arms, in October 1981 we were off to Brazil where I began to teach English and study my next people, who were and are rather less to my liking than the Javanese and the Balinese. I suspect you already have an idea of how I feel about the rampant hedonism of a place where Carnival and institutionalized irresponsibility mark the character of social reality. Nonetheless, I am finally well installed in my little corner of this confusion as a fellow in anthropology at Escola Paulista de Medicina in their program providing health care to the Amerindian tribes at the Xingu Indigenous Park and as a teacher and translator.
    My experience in practicing Sumarah and in Nature worship has shown me that there is a commonality, a mutuality, in the definition of experience that cannot be denied. In other words, the way you feel largely depends on others and often shows their influence on you. Believe me, after living in the hyper-materialistic United States and divine Java and knowing the feelings or rasa I had there and then coming to the distinctly different and often openly demonic modus vivendi here in Brazil, it's hard to deny our impact on one another. Relative to you, though, the influence has been salutary and clearly evident.
    THE BOOK OF BEING: “Look for Causes in Consequences” is a critique of postmodern society as well as western civilization and sees Homo sapiens as manifestly off the rails. In the site I describe my experience in attaining what we call the suhul or divine level of being, involving a force-fed maturation that came in large part as a result of the woe arising out of an affaire de coeur with a lass here in São Paulo. In fact, suhul is an inappropriate level of sensitivity for the helter-skelter experience in Brazil. I would have preferred to have stayed where I was in jinem, a state with an 'unconscious' definition structure, but I had to assume suhul due to the stultifying influence on my experience that opened up due to the expression of the unfathomed depth of our bond (My blysse, my bale, ye han ben bothe) in a societal environment where it became contested being.
    In writing to you I'm forced to admit both to the affection I feel for you and to my fundamental isolation here among a people that often serve no purpose but their hedonistic pursuits. Like São Paulo, Surakarta (my city in Java) used to be called "The City that Never Sleeps." But unlike São Paulo, this was not because of nightly revelry and escapism but rather came due to kebatinan peoples' nocturnal application to meditation on the problems of being. For example, when my daughter was born in the United States, I did a ngebleng fast (no eating, talking or sleeping) for a week to try to establish the being she brought to us. I hadn't expected it to carry on for so long, but in the cocktail party and country club environment of suburban New Jersey my meditation just didn't clear and I was forced to wander through the emotions that kept it turbid.
    In Java we have some special forms of fasting -- ngebleng, mbisu (no talking) and tapa tai (consumption of excrement) -- for entering into contact with other realms or forms of being. I have done a lot of this and have entered into association with beings like Hecate and your own point (soul) source the ancient and furious Lamelelakalala (La) whose beauty is so great that imagination will not help in contemplating it.
    I am also deeply aligned with the traditionally recognized Furies, such as Tisiphone and Annis, among others, as well as many others of a confrontational resolve. I fight for Justice and so do they so we have joined forces. Oh how I adore them! They have been with me since 1993 during the junun period awaiting a gathering of divine being that would allow me to enter suhul properly speaking.

    April 28, 1993
    The sense did steady and develop into an open
    rasa being. At about 4:00 pm on April 17 Alecto, Megaera and Tisiphone came in to confront me. It was quite a jolt but we share the same sense and the same view of being and have gotten on well together. It would appear that the Union will involve true Common Sense, that is, the Furies do not seem at all interested in standing above me in feeling or in sense, an unprecedented event in my experience and one that will take a bit of getting used to: I'm still watching for dips in the being and when they don't appear I get kind of happily nervous.
    When Alecto, Tisiphone and Megaera first came in, I was standing in front of the mirror in the hall. They got me into the traditional Fury arrest posture, with the arms up and bent at ninety-degree angles out to the front. They were indeed furious spirits but I found them refreshing and open (so nakedly and fiercely and defiantly open, so lovely and shy and embarrassed), far less complicated than the goddesses and I hope I did not offend by making a comparison to other divine spirits I know. Soon I began to play with them, saying, "Could I put my arms down. This position isn't too comfortable." They allowed me to come forward and put my hands against the wall beside the mirror. Their presence brought me peace and when they released me I felt like a little boy with them -- happy and a little silly. They couldn't believe this reception in that they are more accustomed to generating terror in those they confront. They said that they have participated for a long time but had been afraid to enter into direct contact for fear that I would not be able to bear them. We went downstairs and I ate something and told them they gave me joy and that I was very happy they were here with me. They were still very skeptical.
    I then found some mercy material I had worked out reentering into the upper lower chakra and went into a rage, chasing and scolding the Furies for their apparent carelessness in allowing this unwanted confusion to restate itself. After my fury the investigation showed that they had not been a party to the mishap but that my sense elevation in their presence had made the entry possible. After that the relationship took on a new aspect. They were now aware that I was not overawed by them and that I have more put confrontational power than they do. They began to relax. I looked them up in the encyclopedia and found their names though we had a terrible time remembering them at first.
    Later I looked them up again and found information in the article that didn't seem to have been there the previous time. Their names were now identified with their associations. Megaera was "jealousy," Alecto was "unceasing in anger" and Tisiphone was "avenger of murder." As it turned out Megaera is an inner sense who adopts the position of the being she is with, Alecto is a middle stance sense and Tisiphone is an outer sense. I soon found out that they are among the spirits that have brought me joy in my relationships with Pierrina and Magali in that they are absolute expresssions of Open Being, serving Natural Law just as I do.
    The following day or two we got used to one another and generally things got easier. However, after a while I checked with Tisiphone and asked if she was okay and she said that no she was not very well. I asked her to let me share the sense with her and found an old nightmare sense of absolute betrayal that I suffered into silence some time ago affecting her being. I went into a rage and went straight to the relevant Kree (Divine Natural organizing being) dimension, demanding an explanation and threatened to dissolve the being if necessary. The local Kree being was with me so we were ready for an all-out war if necessary. As it turned out the shield of this nightmare sense had been placed on purpose by the Kree masters just beyond my normal sensitivity as a kind of protection. They had rather forgotten about it and, since Tisiphone's sensitivity is greater than my normal range, she was straddling it. We did a quick examination of the situation; found that they had been correct in what they did; and they then quickly pulled the shield out just beyond Tisiphone's range, which instantly gave us great relief.

    What a joy they were and are! I honestly believe that anyone who does not seek out experience with the greater and nobler forms of being is just pathetic (let's be honest: there just ain't that much that's good about mankind). As a child one is likely to have exposure to such things. It strikes me as very strange that in the West we carefully define our childhood associations along these lines (imagination and all that) as off limits for adult experience and end up pursuing the empty path of personal ambition rather than seeking and serving our open association with those worth loving.
    I recently had a look a some books on modern shamanic studies by Sandra Ingerman and Michael Harner where they do describe experiences that have elements that I am familiar with from my own opening through Sumarah. I find their approach profoundly watered down in that they don't emphasize the elements of suffering and maturation that are traditional parts of shamanism: one has to go from a culturally constricted "reality" to Reality, which is just the way it is and where experience (and suffering) is unrestricted by any personal definition or association with what is right or fair. In fact, you can find Ingerman and Harner on the Internet in the slick presentation of The Foundation for Shamanic Studies, which promises all manner of fun and games, power and happiness, diversion and entertainment, to those who care to spend the time and money to become Certified Shamanic Counselors (C.S.C.). I find it curious that they do not answer their mail: I wrote to both of them last year and described my experience to them in that they had sent out word that they were interested in collecting the experiences of other shamans, an area I do overlap. It is also indicative that sending a note to The Foundation for Shamanic Studies is impossible. They do not have a provision for receiving email. Curious group. But anyway, such experiences do exist in the West and I suppose you have access to such things too.
    My best wishes and as Plato might have said to you, continue with your 'well-doing.'
    Yours in Lamelelakalala,
    David Gordon Howe (Elok)



    Last edited by Elok; 11 Nov 2021 at 13:10. Reason: Tweaking

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