Nettle Ritual

Listen – how to ask the plants for good medicine.

Oh, this time of year – it gets a bit primeval in the forest where i live – as the blackberries have been stealthily snaking through the underbrush and arcing over the tops of barelimbed branches. Blackberries can take down trees, I’ve seen it. The snow is still visiting in flurries, but the first buds of green are doing their thing, flirting, and the nettles are popping up, kinda saucy-like, from the moss and dank of the forest floor.P1000006

Does the forest text? It calls me. It needs not an extended phone call but a short missive to convince me out, this time of year, even in the unrelenting rain, even in the darkening evening. The forest checks in on my timing and I answer – On My Way.

Does the forest Sext? A friend asked: yep. those flirty buds, those saucy nettles, the fungi familiar and foreign, the moss laced arms of trees. Allurement, all of it.

And there is an ancient habit, rising in my chest, going to meet the call. I bring snippers, gloves, my wide open eyes, and a heart that needs spring right now, right now.

Propaganda techniques, quick notes

-avoid supporting your opinion with facts at all costs,
Tear Down differers, turn them into adversaries immediately
to ensure the opinion is no longer the point.

-use Glad Words, go big, use Truth, use Values, use
no real meanings, which might be proved or dis.

-place positive symbols near by you in all public opportunities
become the flag, remember the screen is only 2 dimensions
remind your viewers too. Use music, quote, or reference.

-use reference, quotes, or music, and draw conclusions
between similarities. Do not support with facts.

-use people. Big Names. Definitely pay them if you need to
in compliments, cash, credit, some compensation to their ego.

– do the same with ordinary small names, Joe and Mary are good ones.
Same compensation plan applies. America the archetype is powerful.

-slant things, leave things out, omit. This is a gambler’s trick.
You can do it too, with words, create the context for the opinion. Reality is your tool, skew it.

-remember the sheeople lurking in the hearts of man, appeal to them. Use the cool factor from 10th grade, when it is at its most potent.
FOMO and FOBLO are your friends.

-polarize, polarize, polarize. set it up in black & white. only.
this will negate any attempt at common ground.

-take two relatives and blame one. stand back and watch.

-argue long and hard. use your biggest words. include contradictions
within your argument. works best on beginning debaters – stymie effect.

-oversimplify. sift the complex causal network of inter-related
happenstance and choose one thread. one point on a line if
you can swing it. incorporate other tactics to best support.

-run your reasoning on a short leash around and around. refer to the dictionary definitions of Luck, Chance, & Probability for example.

-when pressed, sidestep & change topic. remember to be subtle, follow a thread instead of jumping off for less obvious maneuverings.

-the opposite of the precautionary principle in some loud about how nothing contradictory can be proven. Use Name calling to disclaim
other opinions, and dismiss whole schools of thought.

-the whole and its parts, treat them interchangeably, apply one to all and all to one.

-also called poisoning the well. explain away all opposition, preferably before it has a chance to form.

-spread gossip and use it later to discredit the person instead of their ideas. slander the soft spots.

-use threats to establish the validity of your claim. use Transfer to back up your message. those riot police are backed by America.

-invoke authority as the last word. yours, or borrow.

-justify a claim on the basis of popularity. use polls, commercials, celebrities. Bandwagon & Plain Folks tactics prevail.

-sob stories work best. partner with False Cause to take down. use with Bandwagon, Appeal to People, and Plain Folks to build.

* these techniques came with a link on fb from Decondition Your Mind’s page, which drifted down in my feed in between my quick scribbled notes and typing them up into a poem. my thanks to whoever originated them.

After some time (arthritic culture poem)

The first curl of knuckles into unfamiliar fist / begins to set

a pattern in the synapses: here is how to respond / tuck in

and be ready. This great love of the wide world / doesn’t translate

well into the everyday details. The people at large/ are not graceful

but determined to claim stake. And who / can blame them?

We in this world have arrived in the midst / of disintegration

and we none of us thought carefully / before deciding to contribute –

we woke / to find ourselves / on the boat / already sinking.

Quick comes the impulse to save / what might be saved

the small pieces grow significant / the large movements

too late in arriving / so we will take what we can / even of peace.

It is the mute truth of our defeat / at the hands

of our greatest epic storied histories / how science

killed us with its material / how we killed

the world with our need to know / and to take.

The fist cannot form fully / the joints are already

too swollen to bend / or to straighten:

crooked fingers / poised and waiting.

You turn me right round baby right round like a record baby right round round now

I’m contemplating an aikido move. Or at least that’s what the process of taking one energy and shifting it – Using it – seems like to me, based upon what I remember of hearing about Aikido from the folks who actually know… that aikido is about learning how to fall, and also about taking the momentum coming at you from an opponent and using it to let them take themselves down, or to take you up.

Anyhoo –

This site gets spammed an awful lot – insurance and gambling spam mostly – and it’s been a point of frustration for years now, the insectish idiocy, the nuisance. There was another one this afternoon and it came in as response to a post from from few years back called “A Long Ways From The Queen of May”. I deleted it and then I went visiting the post.

As it was May Day yesterday, we had a small bonfire in the back yard and sang a few songs: sea shanties from Shaun, a beautiful one that Katie wrote about breathing in this each moment, and Angel From Montgomery, which is my perennial favorite. I don’t know it, but I love to sing along. I burned a card from Ketchikan and lit a Eucalyptus leaf like incense, while I talked a little bit about Tim. It’s curious to me which facts remain persistent when I speak to new folk about that relationship, that time, that man. I am always somewhat self-conscious and also listening to myself for insights into what I believe about it now, and how my perspective is shifting or enduring.

So then this afternoon I pay attention to the spam and go visit the story from two years ago, about two years before. As I read I am wracking my brain to remember how I spent last year’s May Day. There was a Beltane party, but my point of view, my place in it eludes me. The post’s story brings those other years right back into mind. One storm in particular, but all the days building up to it. One man in particular, but all the intimacies that go before and after.

And the bathroom in that house in NE PDX. The dismantling of fixtures, the pulling of tacks, the stickers on the wall of the kid’s room downstairs, the vacuuming the tape the paint the brushes. The color tequila. That morning with the steamer on the shiny fern wallpaper. Vivid. And blurring with the houses before and after, the old wood one where TC on a ladder yelled at me because I was getting paid more than he was. The news of the war coming through on the radio. The Rachael Corrie play cancelled in NYC.

And after all the accumulated shit, spilling out of the closet under the stairs and topsy turvy in the garage went away, the feel of the blank tequila covered walls by great contrast of calm. The fresh start.

Jill last night by the fire was so matter-of-fact. “It’s May” she said, repeatedly. As in, ‘it’s different now’, ‘we’ve turned a corner in to action, the sun’s caught up, we’re here, we’re celebrating.’

We’re past enduring. Now we build up to the harvest.


So what is it about our progress as a civilization which is so inherently frustrating and dis-satisfying? Oh what I wouldn’t give for a short answer to that question.

The two major disses on my list this morning are taxes and spam. In particular, [and I know that it is taboo to mention publicly one’s own financials, especially when the words following are oil and government. This post in fact, should attract any number of spam comments, like a slick patch of tar in the water snags birds] the spam I get for this site, which is mostly attracted to the Hermes Tresmegistos et all posting.
I’ve filtered 50 or 60 garbled postings by now, comments filled with junk words from bogus addresses, or vaguely creepy simple sentences that could apply anywhere. The irony of these responses to a posting concerning universal truth is not lost upon me, and the bitter taste lingers on the tongue.

Speaking of bitter tastes lingering:
So I received a legacy gift a number of years back, of stock in the Royal Dutch Petroleum Company. Oil stock – welcome to the land of paradox. It weighed heavy, this chunk of potential change – I didn’t want it. So I sold it a few years back, and used the money to support myself whilst starting a healing practice. Sounds like a fine transmutation, doesn’t it? Only my partner’s cancer returned shortly thereafter, and my momentum for building a business never picked up the steam it needed, and by the time it was time to file taxes the next year, I was grieving his passing and totally spaced out the stock dollars on my tax return. How’s that for a “whoops”?

Totally spaced it. So the letter from the IRS was a bit of a shock. A pricey bill, for oil, again.
The gift that just keeps giving. I’m a grumblin alright. But I’m paying it. I’m paying for it.

I am my own American. I believe there is room for me here, in this landscape. Reconciling myself to reality has been a long practice, and I’m feeling a little bit finished with the practice. I don’t want to reconcile my internal experience with this muck. I value something in myself which I might call my humanity, if humanity didn’t continue to show all the signs of trauma. So I’ll call it essence of life. I value that, most high.

What If they Held an Expo and Nobody Came?

Some good marketing lessons this weekend, from the trade show frontlines of alternative health care. As part of my new identity as C.A. [Chiropractic Assistant], I am venturing into the wacky world of convention centers to explore the labyrinth of booths. Cell phone chips to stop radiation, African safaris, the Nia Technique, death and taxes, new windows, retirement plans, acupuncture and magnet therapy – all these options available for the Baby Boomer this weekend at the convention center.

Last weekend’s Pet Companion Show was a two-tiered world of tails and noses stopping distracted “owners” at every conceivable corner. We put up a little sign saying “Human” on the Free Spinal Screening banner, so that people wouldn’t try putting their labradors on the SAM unit scales. It was fun and festive in the expo center – people are more open when their pets are around, and the chaos was full of fur and barking.

There’s a new doctor at the clinic where I work, and he’s pulled the old-school practice building cards: trade shows and going door-to-door. I’ve got backup duty, moral support, and I’m keeping my ear out for marketing gems among the many opinions that people inveitably develop when networking. It is much easier to be in this world of self-promotion when it isn’t my practice in particular that I’m building. This may be true in the same way that it is much easier to deal with organizing other people’s stuff than your own.

Nobody built much business of any kind this weekend, however, as exactly Nobody showed up on a sunny spring weekend to the Convention Center for a poorly-named and poorly-advertised Baby Boomer expo called B.R.E.W. [Boomer Resources Exhibition and Workshop] A few people did show up for microbeers, but they were sorely disappointed. There were maybe 60 people in the aisles during the talk from a charismatic scientist with Oasis Life Sciences. The Oasis folks, who are into regeneration on the level of DNA and who offer “a gift” of condensed packets of live organic greens and aloe from international farms, sound like they have made pyramid marketing work yet again.

Saturday was full of vendor networking, but by Sunday a third of the booths were empty and there were murmurs of mutiny, with the goodhearted exception of the woman in gold lame, who dressed up to “help everybody” and wandered the aisles with her aging smile, a longtime veteran of the world of self -promotion. A former PT whose career ruined her spine and her hands and was now selling life insurance suggested that we all leave our stalls and gather at the stage and each spend five minute marketing our position or offering. Not a bad plan, but the lethargy of an empty hall was contagious, and it was hard to imagine organizing anybody into a fervor of anything. All these vendors – people who thrive on connection – were starving for attention and playing imaginary russian roulette with each passing hour.

Into this calm pit of despair walked the woman in the blue and white flowered dress. The shoulder pads were military style, and she halted in her beige heels at our corner and stared intently at the SAM machine.
“Takes 2 minutes and its painless” I said by way of greeting, “Would you like to have your spine checked?”
She was intent also in her reply: “Yes.”
I asked her to fill out the top box on our form. She was as vague as possible. I asked her about her chiropractic history – vague again: “In the past.”
The young doctor came over to greet her and offered his hand. She returned his handshake and sent it back for changes: “Too soft,” she said “it feels fishy.”
Oh the control of a lone consumer at an empty trade show – oh the power. She asked me to shake her hand and pronounced my grip firm. The doctor tried to explain himself in terms of gentleness, but she wasn’t having it. She put him through the ringer. A man with a huge belly and an intriguing stone around his neck came up and I let the blue-flowered commander to her hazing of the new doc. So much for my role as moral support…

The big-bellied guy was very calm. His stone came from a trip to Peru about 7 years ago. We began to trade machu picchu stories while the doc stood the matron up on the scales and aligned the strips with her head shoulders and hips. He was solicitous, as he worked, asking respectfully if he could touch the top of her shoulders, her blue-flowered hips.
“Yes” she said, intent again. Then she stepped down and consulted the findings – the unusual distribution of weight across her feet, the tilting of spine and retilting to compensate. She believed the lines, if not the doctor informing her. I was deep in Peru conversation so the loud SMACK of her hand hitting the doc came out of the blue and at first I wondered if she had taken a sudden offense to his prognosis.
Both the the big-bellied guy and I looked up out the corners of our eyes at the moment that the Fly she had apparently killed with her sudden slap at the doctor’s shoulder, rebounded down the blouse of her dress. Such was the velocity of the killing blow, and such was the moment of surreal calm when she asked the doctor to retrieve the fly from its resting place. Nobody looked directly at the extraction, which was handled smoothly and quickly and without further incident. There was laughing and the doctor somewhat goodnaturedly gave her his card in case she should wish for future chiropractic help.


Oregon Public Broadcasting program Weekend America did a wonderful piece on the sounds of New Orleans and what Mardi Gras feels like this year. And scroll down to the Sounds of Katrina with DJ Spooky for more. This is resonating strongly in the context of a piece of writing my friend Daniel did for grad school in England, called A Mytho-poetic Tale for the Development Age.

I See A Darkness

There are some new body poems up on the poetica page, if you’re in the mood for a more hopeful reading than the reflection that follows…

It’s been a long year and I’m more cynical than I would like to be right now. The brandy’s turned the almond milk sour in my mug of hot cocoa. It’s one day before the end of the year and my endurance is young yet, I’ll weather more before it’s over. More years worth of disasters we’ve thrown money at but not been able to remedy, more times we’ve strengthened our faith in each other, because the churches and the governments are culpable and the institutions are ineffective and the corporations are corrupt and poisoning us all in the name of capitalism. This year just feels like I wised up to some core truth about myself that made it possible to grow strong beyond despair.

I gave some of my all and then I took it all back and moved away with it, and now I feel intact again for the first time in a while. The old story of struggle and coping with struggle seems inflated, dramatic, and a waste of any more energy.

It’s happened. The state of the world used to be a deep dread in my belly, like an unknown allergy to the full and terrible truth. I was a child of the Cold War 80’s, of interstellar battles and the icy gates
of the Kremlin, of Japanese technology and Reaganomics. I was taught about welfare mothers in 8th grade health class, and I responded with a yelp as though it stung. And it did a bit – the worldview of the real world is hard, cold, and unforgiving. There was judgment in the pages of my textbooks. This is how I introduced myself to reading in between the lines: I kept asking questions of the information when it pained me, and the dread migrated through all these layers of tissue out to the skin where it oozes like a sore in plain sight.

Nobody in the world is okay this year, because a lot of people left us, and we all know about it. And a lot of factories kept producing toxic waste and more and more of us know about it, and we all feel it in our lungs and in our spirits. And we’re running out of things that we need, or that we think that we need. And not everybody knows about it, or worse they don’t care. And the human race is full of people who are willing to gamble with the lives of others, especially when the stakes go high.

And there’s a sort of settling in happening. I’ve scouted the land, I know my allies. I don’t believe education will do it, will make the shift in consciousness spread as far and as wide as it has to. I’ve been reading fantasy novels again, where a small band of committed allies across kingdoms joins their different magicks collectively to defeat the darkness.

I’ve been listening to Johhny Cash cover a Bonnie Prince Billy song:
I See a Darkness. In it he sings,
“Well you’re my friend. And can you see.
Many times we’ve been out drinking. And many times
we’ve shared our thoughts. Did you ever, ever notice,
the kind of thoughts I got.
Well you know I have a love, a love for everyone I know.
And you know I have a drive, to live I won’t let go.
Can you see its opposition comes rising up sometimes.
And its dreadful imposition, comes blacking in my mind.

That I see a darkness, and that I see a darkness,
and that I see a darkness, and that I see a darkness.
Did you know how much I love you.
Here’s a hope that somehow you,
can save me from this darkness.

I hope that someday baby, we will have peace in our hearts.
Together or apart, alone or with our wives,
That we can stop our whoring, and pull the smiles inside,
and light it up forever, And never go to sleep.
My best unbeaten brother, this isn’t all I see.

Oh no I see a darkness, oh no I see a darkness, oh no I see a darkness, oh no I see a darkness.
Did you know how much I love you.
There’s a hope that somehow you
can save me from this darkness…”

Don’t mean to force anybody to walk this mind road with me, but it’s core, and now in the long dark evenings like tonight, it feels true to bare it openly.
This year has had its moments alright – some loss and pain, and some secret pleasures too. I’m glad to greet the next one, but there’s a guardedness in my heart that’s new. I’m not as young as I was last year, and last year I felt old. And I’m angry but I’m not lashing out with it anymore, I’ve harnessed it for my own purposes, it is fuel of a sustainable sort, since there’s plenty for it to feed upon.

And my love? Doing the best I can with what I’ve got, and what I’ve got, is a lot.

The dark season

Greetings and salutations of the holiday nature – I’ve come up from under the covers of nasty sickness for a bit. There was no escaping this one, and it extended my hermiting a week or so past my intentions. Portland is cold just now, so tucking in feels called for. And good for reflecting: I have just posted a bit of a thanksgiving parable in my pages, please peruse if you’re feeling inclined.
I just finished re-reading Demian, Herman Hesse’s breakthrough book from 1919, and a marvelous story about the road towards ones own self, which features a god of good and evil, and some serious firegazing, as well as painting and dreamwork. A Solstice is approaching in the twilight hours of these long nights, perfect for fire gazing as a spiritual practice. My first solstice celebration was a winter fire out in the county east of Bellingham maybe 9 years ago. A woman with a basket offered each of us twigs with ribbons tied on. The twig was to throw in the fire along with what we were ready to let go of, the ribbon was to tie on the branches of a nearby tree, for what we wanted to grow in the new year. Relevant questions for this winter too…

the goldfish forgotten

I watched Me You and Everyone We Know at the Laurelhearst Theatre on Burnside last night. Took myself out to movies on a stormy day. On the way there I watched a pigeon’s last moments in the intersection crosswalk, just before a car whose driver couldn’t have seen the hobbled bird fluttering near its front tire, drove forward on the green and ended the pigeon’s struggle. A flash imprint of city on my eyelids. I felt the pigeon’s panic, its will to leave.
One of the first scenes in the movie, which is brilliant, shows a goldfish in a plastic bag forgotten on roof of a car. “The best thing for this fish would be to keep riding at a constant pace, forever.” Miranda July is welling up almost beyond her eyes. She says a few last words, tells the fish that it is loved, drives steady in front of the unsuspecting driver of the car.
In other city news, I bring you a silly poem from the day of the dead:

Samhain Tailgate

Just across the freeway under that big rose garden dome
the trailblazers are playing and down below me
there is a tailgate in progress – and a man in a blazer
standing on the back step of his old winnebago talking big
and lighting his cigarette with a long stemmed butane lighter.

Tailgating the Blazers is comforting groundlevel activity for such
a pregnant day. four floors up I watch the storm blow out
the tail end and the sun flares up in the last of the clouds
making a break for it east down the gorge.
Fast break down the lane, and taking it to the hole.

New moon dark now just beyond the lights of the city,
just across the river, and the curving span of dome –
high budget entertainment to ward off the spirits
on the eve of the day of the dead, November first,
samhain when the skin is thin and soft like on the back
of the hand and the worlds merge and re-differentiate.
A night for rising into the ether, our prayers go out beyond us
like kites extending, we become channels for that universal wish,
which is: to know both at once, to glimpse beyond
and find comfort, to send those we’ve lost
the invisible tools, to come in handy
if the journey is epic and strange.

The influence of momentum and enthusiasm on outcome;
it’s why people cheer in the stands. It’s why they build altars
of cerveza and cigars, of honored saints and treasured photos
to feed the dead their favorite things, to bolster
a soul’s strength during what can be a long crossing.
It’s why those remaining behind will drink and smoke
and savor the relics after a week of offerings,
to imbibe the gift of spirit that the dead make us in return.

the crowd goes wild.