Where Was I Last Night?

I’m fairly sure, now, I know where I was.  Things had been building up to it, if you know what I mean.

When I say ‘last night’, I’m talking in temporal terms, obviously.  The experience I had took place sometime between around 2am and 7:30am this morning.  Since my mind was dreaming, though, the timescale for the events didn’t belong in that time at all.  It was, like all dreams, non-local.

What I recall most clearly is the excitement, the enthusiasm, the anticipation my fellow protagonist and I were experiencing.  We were family, although he had no obvious counterpart in my current life.  I’d describe him as a sort of brother, maybe even a twin.  All of our attention was focused on the task before us.  Each of us was choosing a new adventure.

I can only describe what we were examining in terms of geometry.  There were tubes – dark flexible cylinders or wormholes perhaps – overlaid with uneven grids and lines of bright, greenish light which intersected in interesting ways.  Each was a different ‘adventure’.  The tubes were the destinations, while the patterns showed different timeframes.   We poured over every detail with intense concentration and excitement.  The more complex the slashes of lines and the patterns they created, the more enthusiastic we became.

“Oh, this one looks interesting!” he would exclaim, pointing to a place where a diagonal crossed a group of parallel lines then veered away in a dynamic tick shape.

“Yeah,” I would laugh, “You might need a bit of help with that one!  I could probably lend a hand there.”

Ever had your palm read, or an astrology reading?  They are the nearest analogies I can think of.  Every line and every crossing had huge significance.  They represented the challenges, the exciting parts, the fun of this unique adventure.

Each of us was searching for a location and a timeframe within it that would give us a thrilling rollercoaster of an experience.  There was no fear or trepidation, no hunting for the easy bits.  We both wanted a full-on white-knuckle ride with plenty of problems to solve and puzzles to overcome.

Despite our emotional closeness, we were aiming for quite different adventures.  There was no regret that we would be separated, but there seemed to be an underlying acceptance that we could, at any point, call on one another – and on a rather nebulous ‘back-up team’ who seemed to be lurking nearby – if we needed support at any point.

I was beginning to wake up – to return to the physical world.  I didn’t want to!  This was fun.  There was another pattern on another tube I was desperate to explore.  My companion, too, was still busily engaged in the activity.  I managed to climb back into the dream state and spend a little more time there, but the physical body was becoming restless and finally shook itself free of that other existence, bringing my mind back to its daytime residence.

Now it was time to consider what I’d seen from a human perspective.  Surely that happy, excited, fearless aspect of me had been wherever-it-is we go between lives.  My companion and I had been selecting our next incarnation.  Everything pointed to that conclusion.

As I said, things had been building up to it.  Recent conversations, news items, personal experiences, channeled messages from others I follow on social media… even a friend who just yesterday re-read and commented on a post I had written several years ago.  The message had been the same:  We chose this location and this time in which to live this life.  We chose it – warts and all – in order to give it our best shot and see what we could change, what we could figure out, what we could take on and deal with.  Moaning, protesting, trolling or grumbling just won’t do any more.  We judge and complain about our fellow humans but write them glowing eulogies and obituaries when they pass.  We beg and insist that gods, spirit, world leaders, politicians and anyone other than us must change our lives for the better.  No wonder so many channeled beings are metaphorically throwing their hands in the air and reminding us that we chose it, and we intended it to be fun.

So yes, I woke up to an overcast drizzly day in October and a world beset with challenges and problems galore.  I’m off now to try to reconnect with the cheery, excited and optimistic aspect of myself I experienced last night and to bring as much of her hope and enthusiasm as I can into this amazing timeline and space I opted for this time around.

Psi Kicks

You know when you read something you’ve seen many times before and it finally clicks?  That just happened to me, so I thought I’d share the insight.

Book, Reading, Pages, Textbook, NovelI usually start my day sitting up in bed and reading a few pages of some thought-provoking volume on either science or psychic phenomena.  My current read fills both criteria: The Mysteries of Reality: Dialogues with Visionary Scientists by Gayle Kimball, Ph D.    It gives fresh food for thought with every page turned.  Many of my favourite ‘rebel’ scientists are included there – the ones willing to look beyond the materialist paradigm and tackle research into consciousness, mind, the zero-point field and psi.  However I’m also discovering some new-to-me scientists and finding their research and ideas fascinating.

The chapter I started on this morning features Garret Moddel Ph D. 

Interesting.

 

In answer to a question about why results in psi testing (such as predicting Zenner cards) are high initially but tail off as the subject gets bored, Dr Moddel considers the possibilities that some degree of novelty might be required for the subject to apply intention to the task or that there is something inherent in psi procedures that causes its effectiveness to decrease after a while.  He wonders whether some kind of counterbalance is necessary for a while, when the mind has been focused on psi activity, so that it has something quite opposite to balance it out.

It set me thinking about my own experiences.  I’ve experimented informally with a friend now for many years.  He is a gifted young psi practitioner and we have explored clairvoyance, medical intuition, dowsing, psychokinesis and much more, but a strong feature of our work together has been that one or both of us reaches a point where we lose interest, motivation and, to some degree, ability to use whatever modality we have been working on.

Take remote viewing, for example.  We began very simply with one of us selecting a crystal and focusing on it in our own home, while the other – 150 miles away – viewed and described its features.  Initially we were gaining just about perfect results.  A few weeks into that, though, both our interest and success rate waned somewhat.  We moved on to more classical remote viewings.  I would head to a place of my own choosing, spend 15 minutes or so there, then take some photos.  He would sit in his room, draw or write a description of the place he ‘saw’ and we would compare the viewings to my photos and experience.  Successes were outstanding.  We must have spent almost a year doing roughly one viewing a week.  They were never 100% accurate, but the features he picked up were always way above chance.  I carefully selected places he had never been to and we were both excited by our results.

Eventually, though, his interest tailed off and we had some fairly mediocre viewings.  Certainly I’d agree that motivation and novelty seem to improve results. 

We moved on to future viewings.  He would view what I would be seeing on a specific date and time a week or so later.  Neither of us could quite believe that it would work, but we decided to give it a try.  The novelty factor was restored and – amazingly – the results were better than ever.  

Once again, though, familiarity bred apathy and lower success rates, so we reluctantly drew a line under our remote viewing experiments.

So it seems that psi activity has a shelf life – and yes, the irony that we are talking in terms of changes over weeks or months, even though our advanced viewings showed quite clearly that the results were not dependent on time and appeared indeed to indicate a non-local phenomenon, is not lost on me!

I wonder whether the researchers who are frustrated by the fall off in results (science, after all, demands repeatable experiments) have questioned their ‘bored’ subjects about the feelings they experience.  I can only speak for myself,  but it does not feel like mental exhaustion, or physical exhaustion for that matter. 

In my experience there is often a tightness or pressure around the head.  Sometimes an actual headache, sometimes a ‘bulging’ between the eyebrows.  There are feelings of irritation, bordering on anger or frustration and these seem to be focused on the psi activity itself rather than any results or processes.  Most noticeable is a strong impression that it is pointless.  This seems to be the case even when I have experienced a strong sense of anticipation or enjoyed previous attempts at the same activity.  When he was attempting to rationalise his desire to stop the remote viewings, my friend did use the word ‘boring’ but also said that he had expected that as he practised he would become increasingly skilled.  This had motivated him as he felt it could be very useful if near perfect results could be achieved.  Finding that the twentieth attempt was no better – and sometimes worse – than the first or second disappointed and annoyed him.

So is success purely down to a novelty factor?  I don’t think so.  Is it something inherent in the use of psi abilities?  Possibly.

If, for example, we were running a race, we would not be surprised to experience muscle aches and breathlessness.  If we were cramming for an exam, we wouldn’t be surprised to feel that the brain was overloaded and the body was tired.  Here, though, we are using another part of ourselves and there is considerable disagreement amongst researchers about what part that is.

Body, Spirit, Fire, Smoke, SunsetI would define it as ‘mind’, which is not quite the same as brain.  Certainly there is a strong connection between them, but the mind is – as I understand it – the way our bodies are linked to consciousness.  When we are dealing with psi activity, we are partly using the brain (to interpret and make sense of what we experience) but also accessing a level of consciousness that is non-local – able to transcend space and/or time.  

To me it seems that it is this interface between body and spirit that causes the friction.  Our brains expect that if we expend energy and effort on an activity there will be a useful outcome and we will improve over time – practice makes perfect and all that.  Our brains are wired to expect clear results – yes or no, success or failure, helpful or useless.  What psi activities give us is very different.  There are tantalising moments of revelation, of wonder, of awe and delight, but try to grasp them and they vanish like smoke. 

We get ‘kicks’ from psi, certainly.  We begin to recognise that something is happening that conventional world views can’t explain.  We KNOW something magical happened, but try as we might, we simply can’t fit it into the human brain.   It doesn’t belong there.

 

 

 

 

Dipping my TOE into Science

For around 20 years now I’ve been scuttling about down various rabbit holes.  My rather exciting secret life (the one most of my family and some of my friends roll their eyes at and politely ignore) has incorporated telepathy, channeling, remote viewing, a smidgeon of spiritual mediumship, dowsing… and the list goes on.

With help along the way from some very special guides – human and otherwise – I’ve reached, at the Biblical age of three score years and ten, what feels to be a fairly robust theory of how-it-all-works.

Oh, you want to know what it is?

Right.  Erm, OK, I’ll have a go.

In the beginning was Consciousness (note the big C), loads of it.  It’s still there.  It always will be.  It can’t not be. 

Static Consciousness would be pointless.  There wouldn’t be anything to be conscious of except itself, which it already knows.  It therefore needs to be dynamic.  Holographic bits of it separate out from the whole thing and become individual Selves (another intentional capital).  Each of these Selves plans out a way to gain experience, think up new ideas, try out experimental paths in a place where they have free will.  Every Self has a kind of blueprint – a rough guide to what they’d like to experience.  They make agreements and plans with other Selves, because it’s going to be tough and they’ll need all the help (and hindrance) they can get to complete the task.

When they’re ready, they coordinate their entry point to the 3D world and become little s selves with little c consciousness.  That is, they are born, to parents of their choice (yes always!).  These human selves will have arrived wearing filters.  The filters are very important.  It would be impossible to take this crazy and chaotic human life seriously and actually gain anything from it if they were still fully aware of big C Consciousness.  It would be as pointless as sitting an exam with the answer paper right next to you.  

The filters vary.  We don’t all select the same model.  Some people choose thick filters that block out almost all conscious knowledge of the big C, while others throughout history and particularly within the last 30 or 40 years elect to enter physical life with more and bigger holes in their filters.  They are far more aware of What Lies Beyond.

I’m guessing the unknown creator of the Flammarion Engraving was one of them.

These visionaries/ wise ones/ way-showers/ shining ones/ dangerous lunatics, depending on your viewpoint, have often sought to teach the rest of us about our innate connection to Consciousness.  They help us to poke more holes into our filters, if we let them.  I strongly suspect this is the next evolutionary leap.  

Regardless of our individual levels of awareness of the great field of Consciousness from which we emerged and will – upon ‘death’ – return, we are constantly feeding back information to it and gaining just the slightest of hunches, gut feelings and inklings that show us it never really went away.  In that way, we remain connected and Consciousness – fed the experiences we are passing to it – remains dynamic and ever-expanding.  Win win.

So where does the science come in?

Well I’d just like all the dots to be joined up.  I’d like to see an end to the absurdity of the materialist paradigm that has held sway in science for far too long.  I’ve known for a quite a while that some scientists are continuing to find funding somehow, publish papers somehow and survive the scientific establishment’s jibes and slurs whilst managing to experiment and theorise in ways that acknowledge the prime role of Consciousness.  The now extensive collection of meticulously collated reports on NDEs (near death experiences) and out of body experiences as well as convincing research into psi phenomena helps their cause.

To quote Dr Dirk K F Meijer (2019), “The hard problem in consciousness theories … turns out to be tightly linked to the western way of thinking that adheres to the idea of a matter-dominated universe.”

He goes on to comment that this mindset is “extremely obstructive” to both consciousness research and “a deeper understanding of the physical world.”

So spurred on by such encouraging words, I’m attempting to paddle in the shallow waters of science and read what these people are saying.  An O-level pass (just) in human biology being my sole scientific credential, I find myself ill-equipped to venture very far, but each paragraph I manage to comprehend fills me with delight.  There is a new vocabulary to master, but I attempted to learn Welsh during last year’s lockdown.  Surely this can’t be any harder?

I’ve been delighted to discover that Meijer’s 4D zero-point energy field,  David Bohm’s implicate order, Ervin Lásló’s Akashic field and Jung’s collective consciousness all seem to equate to my big C Consciousness.  Through ‘holographic resonance’ of this field with ‘specific coherent oscillation domains in the body’, there is a way to filter information moving between Consciousness and the brains of our small selves.  I even found mention of a ‘mental field-receptive resonance workspace’ which equates to the big S Self (soul??).

I’m not finding it easy, but am nonetheless prone to little gasps of delight as I discover some phrase or diagram that fits what I have ‘known’ at a deeper level for so long.  So huge and grateful thanks to Dr Meijer and the other Consciousness pioneers.

One day, perhaps, we will all be popping our heads through the Flammarion Engraving’s ‘event horizon’ to gain a glimpse or two of the big C.

As Nikola Tesla (another of my heroes) said:

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”

Another Look at Reality

In my last post I floated the idea that even if we were able to somehow travel back in time and communicate freely with people from a bygone age, there would only – at best – be certain aspects of shared experience.  This, I argued, is because ‘truth’ or what we term ‘reality’ is a subjective interplay between a person’s mind, brain and the objects and events that form to produce each person’s perceived world.

‘Aha,’ you may say, “If that were the case, how would you and I share a common view of a scene before us?  Even a short discussion would prove that our vision of what lay around us was identical.  We could even take photographs to demonstrate it!’

Well certainly we citizens of the 21st century share a common perception of the objects and events around us.  Perceptive reality has strong links to social cohesion and the ‘training’ we were given in infancy. 

Fantasy, Fairy Tale Forest, Girl, ForestOur culture has a slightly strange take on sharing our World View with new arrivals.  A rich mythic tradition is passed on to our children – Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the tooth fairy, giants, goblins, elves and trolls appear in huge numbers of their storybooks and the bedtime tales we share with them.  Talking animals and fabulous beasts abound.  Then, as the children mature, these wonders are, one by one, consigned to a scrapheap of untruths.  Those stories, they are told, were ‘just pretend’.  Now they are expected to cast away such childish delights and focus on a world that can be seen, prodded and proved to be ‘real’. 

“So are dinosaurs real?” asks the confused child. “What about dragons?  What about Father Christmas…?  Why did you lie to me?”

Parents and carers struggle to justify their actions.  They are doing as their parents did.  They are rearing their young in the way our society dictates.  Once they reach the age of 7 or 8, even the child who knows she once saw fairies in the garden or glimpsed a fiery dragon from her window has put such things aside and conformed to the accepted and shared idea of how reality looks and feels.  Mostly.

Stonehenge, England, Uk, MonumentOf course there are still different perceptions within our common perceptual framework.  If we imagine a hypothetical twenty people standing and regarding Stonehenge in the 2020s, all would probably be in agreement as to the size and bulk of the stones, the green of the grass, the colour of the sky, strength of the wind and sound of the passing traffic on the A303.

One observer, though, might be hugely excited at the sight of a military aircraft flying over the scene – an aspect of the experience missed totally by others.

Another of the people might be high on a hallucinogenic drug or have what is currently called a ‘mental illness’.  That person might be seeing quite different colours strobing and wheeling around the stones and hearing sounds or voices the rest of the observers would not be aware of.

A third might be a synesthete.  He or she might be tasting or smelling the colours and textures in a manner quite alien to the rest.

Perhaps two or three members of the group might have psychic sensitivities which allowed them to see spots of bright light or hazy halos surrounding certain stones or perhaps glowing crystals buried deep beneath the ground.  They might even perceive shadowy figures from other times.

Winter, Snow, Landscape, Trees, SnowfallAs is the custom in our age, more or less all these visitors would take out their phones and photograph the scene before them.  If they then compared the results, all the images would show the grass, the stones, the path and so forth, yet some would include mysterious orbs or thin coloured arcs of light.  Depending on their personal World Views, these would be variously interpreted as aliens, angelic beings, reflections of light from mundane sources or pieces of dust on the camera lens.  Each, of course, would be entirely correct, according to their World View.

I would further suggest that if the group of 20 people were standing around Stonehenge in c2500BC, their perception of what lay before them would be markedly different to that of the 21st century visitors.  Their common take on ‘reality’ would link to their shared prior experience and social conditioning and their society almost certainly perceived the world around them in markedly different ways, with senses responding to stimuli in a manner that we could not grasp.

Clearly, I have no way of demonstrating this.  Those ancient people standing on a wind-blasted plain in southern England left us no written record or clues as to what was going through their minds and how their world looked to them.  They simply, for their own reasons, created a massive structure that survived into our age.

Fortunately for the curious among us, not all World Views are as poorly recorded.  Next time I’d like to take you to a culture that has been meticulously documented by its people, in a language we can read and understand.  In certain ways it is markedly similar to our own, but in others quite, quite incomprehensible.

Perceptive Reality – A Time-Traveller’s Guide

The restrictions of the past year have made it an ideal time for the armchair traveller – or time-traveller, often, in my own case – to indulge in flights of imagination and contemplation.

Stonehenge, Stone Circle, EnglandI will happily spend many hours watching documentaries or reading about archaeological discoveries and documents from other times and places and wishing I could see the temples and sacred places as they appeared in their zenith.  That alone, though, would be no more than mere sightseeing, which to my mind is a fairly empty and pointless activity.  How often I’ve stood and gazed on some great and ancient construction – Stonehenge, the temples of Malta, the Orcadian landscape around the Ness of Brodgar – and yearned for an understanding of the circumstances, the significance, the reason for their construction.

Yes, I can read the guide books, digest the various expert theories, wonder at the brilliance of the technologies that created them, but I lack the World View of those who built and used these structures.  So, of course, do the experts.  They can make educated guesses but might I be so bold as to suggest that in a time when religion is fragmented, science, business and technology are the closest many have to gods and upheaval is everywhere we look, 21st century people are not best placed to frame any possible mindset that could explain the concepts and ideologies behind the enduring wonders of the past as we gaze upon them?

The Roman Empire is an exception.  We have no problem understanding that.  It is so close in morality and intent to our own recent past that we can comprehend their purposes, intentions and ideals with very little difficulty.  Their buildings, military and societal organisations make perfect sense to us.  I will often flick through film and TV drama choices and note that the majority of people in our culture apparently find pleasure and entertainment in watching the murder, death and the anguish of others as much as Romans did in their amphitheatres.

Just as, according to the infinite monkey theorem, a monkey spending long enough at a typewriter keyboard could theoretically type the text of Hamlet, so an infinite number of World Views are bound to throw up some close matches.  That’s not to say we have any sort of continuum that leads logically and developmentally from Rome to here.  This has nothing to do with evolution.  World Views come and go, for reasons I hope to consider in subsequent posts.

(Let me just suggest in passing that any society which believes itself to be at the pinnacle of human development has enough pride to be heading inexorably towards a fall.)

I believe a World View is something more than Zeitgeist, too, although there are more parallels with this idea than with the evolutionary one.  I’m not denying the spirit of a particular generation as being easy to recognise in retrospect.  The 20th century alone threw up several of these.  For me a World View is something deeper, more pervasive and far longer-lasting than a decade or so’s trend.  Perhaps it is the spirit of a Great Age…

Peru, Sacsayhuaman, Sacred, Scenic, SiteThe societies who constructed the Great Pyramid, the Stonehenge and Avebury landscape, the polygonal-walled buildings of Peru or the structures of Göbeklitepe, for example, would have technologies, ideas and concepts of the world so radically different to our own that endless scrabbling in the dust to unearth pottery fragments or the contents of spoil heaps will give us little or no idea of their beliefs and intentions.

Each generation of antiquarians and archaeologists has a view on the purpose of the structures, that view arguably having more to do with contemporary interests and fixations than that which provoked the original constructions.  Thus an ancient site may have been variously viewed by later visitors as a geoglyph,  a landing site for spacecraft, a centre for human or animal sacrifice, a temple for religious worship, an astronomical calendar, a tomb (big favourite, regardless of whether or not there are human remains), a place of pilgrimage or for rites of passage.

So could I, as a time-traveller with many months or years at my disposal and a Babel Fish stuffed firmly in my ear, ever learn to understand the World View of the culture who created one of these enduring monuments?

Probably not.

I suspect that the only point at which our understanding would meet would be in the physical as I perceive it and that, of course, is not where their World View resides.  I might learn vast amounts about their technologies, their methods of construction and the way in which their societies are organised, but the all-consuming beliefs and reasons for constructing such structures would not, I fear, be apparent to me.  Our views of reality would differ so fundamentally that there would be little common ground.  It is very possible that the structures themselves would not reveal to my senses the experiences those who created them would have.  There could be sounds, sights, emotional and spiritual experiences freely available to them which to me would remain hidden.  I recall being quite convinced of this when standing in the chambers of the Hypogeum of Ħal Saflieni.  I could see the walls, the carvings and the colours but there was so much almost palpable unavailable experience there just beyond my ken.

Seth, through channel Jane Roberts, explains the reason for this, with his customary clarity and eloquence:

Your many civilisations, historically speaking, each with its own fields of activity, its own sciences, religions, politics and art – these all represent various ways that man has used imagination and reason to form a framework through which a more or less cohesive reality is experienced. 

And that is the nub of it.  Reality is perceptive, not as our scientists fondly believe, objective.  My own Guides put it rather more bluntly:

Reality is barely existent.  There is only thought.  

In future posts I hope to explore aspects of different World Views and their varying perception of ‘reality’, as it is a subject I find fascinating.

On ‘being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts…’

It isn’t, to the Western mind – schooled as it is in science and reason – a comfortable place to be.  It feels risky, subversive almost. There are times when even the most hardened venturers into this zone yearn for more solid ground.  Many have teetered on the edge and scurried back to the reassurance of what, in their world, is believed to be real and provable.

The poet Keats coined the term Negative Capability to describe this other state.  He defined it thus:

Capable of being in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.

I found that quote in the second of Phillip Pullman’s His Dark Materials books – The Subtle Knife.  His character Mary sees it as the frame of mind one needs to access in order to open to communication from a level of consciousness normally concealed behind the current world view.  Lyra, his young heroine, immediately recognises it as the state she enters to read the alethiometer – her divination machine.

Fractal, Abstract, Yellow, Design, LightIf you are reading this, you have almost certainly experienced that state.  It has overtaken you as you painted, wrote, sang, created or became so absorbed in any task that you moved beyond time and rationality, lost yourself in something wider, stronger and vaster and briefly allowed it to override your thoughts and rationally derived aims.  What you created during that period of Negative Capability will have been sublime.  If it is a work of art or craft, you may have wondered where the inspiration came from and why it surpasses what you produce while striving to impose order and perfection in the accepted way.  You will be aware – and perhaps alarmed – that time has passed of which you have little or no memory.

A musician friend tells of how she would enter the space during an operatic performance and ‘come to’ afterwards in a panic, wondering whether her singing had kept pace with the accompanists.  Poets and writers are, of course, able to review the words which arrived from their sojourn in this otherworld, but are still left wondering where the inspiration came from.  I’ve often been aware that certain passages in my books ‘wrote themselves’.  They are easily the best passages – far superior to those where I’ve wrestled with syntax and thesaurus to capture the right mood.

As should be obvious, though, the ‘irritable reaching’ towards the rational and familiar is difficult to resist.  It’s like trying to remain in a dream once you have realised that you are dreaming.  There is no proof, and proof for us has become the touchstone of all that is rational and acceptable.  Whenever we stray there, despite the inspirations and gifts we receive, we must tolerate as our companions Uncertainty and Doubt.

What a choice!

Girl, Space, Mystic, Brain, MysticalFor poets and artists it’s one thing; for those who venture into the world of the seer, the channel, the diviner or the clairvoyant, the experience is harder yet.  This extract, for example, written by my friend and erstwhile collaborator William, hints at the complex balancing act involved in remote viewing:

It is necessary to be able to correctly focus at the correct time while ensuring the knowledge held is sufficiently minimalistic to avoid involuntary logical assumptions clouding the receipt of information through remote viewing, but sufficient to ensure the information received can be interpreted correctly.

So the person who strays into the realms of Negative Capability must be willing to retain only a modicum of what we commonly know as logic and fact while being prepared to accept a quite different and infinitely more nebulous source of psychological information.

The rewards can be astounding but the path takes courage and a willingness to embrace, or at least make close contact with, what Keats calls, “sensations rather than thoughts”.

The Art of Magic (and the magic of art)

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” Pablo Picasso

Oekaki, Drawing, Children, GraffitiThat from the artist who also claimed that it took him four years to learn to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to learn to paint like a child.  It’s a perspective that interests me.

About thirty years ago I recall a family picnic on the banks of the River Stour on the Essex-Suffolk border.  My 18 month old son (now a professional graphic artist and illustrator) seized his father’s sketchbook and pencil, stared intently at the reeds and bull rushes growing at the water’s edge, then proceeded to draw a series of vertical and near-vertical lines on the paper.  It took him seconds.  His first representational landscape drawing!  The child moved on to other ways of exploring the environment immediately.  It was as if the drawing was some kind of instinctive yet fleeting need to capture the 3D world in just two dimensions.  He didn’t, as his older siblings might have done, compare it to his father’s sketches or seek anyone’s approval or praise.  In fact he was confused by our excitement and delight.

A tiny child will not seek out the ‘right’ colours or consider shapes and ratios.  What they do, though, when you think about it, is pure magic.  They use their crayons to create the significant people and objects around them at that moment in time.  Their art freezes an aspect of the swirl of life and movement and emotion they find themselves in and places it on a flat sheet of paper.   How very different that is from our own self-conscious attempts to draw a representational image.  We are hung up on how realistic it looks, whether our lines are straight or whether the perspective is right.  Most of all, we are worried about how others will judge it.  That, I suspect, is the ‘problem’ Picasso was referring to.

“That’s a lovely picture.  Would you like to tell me about it?” we were taught to say when I was training to be a teacher.  It avoided the problems of, “What a beautiful picture of Mummy!  Oh, I see – it’s a green tractor with lots of mud, is it?  Right.”

Gradually we ‘help’ the child to fit their depictions to the conventions of art in our world.  In medieval times, drawing the mother or self far larger than other people would have been quite acceptable.  The convention was ‘important people are shown larger than less significant people’.  In our modern world the convention is photographic, so a person shown large is closer in physical space to the artist’s viewpoint than those standing further away.

 

Light, Effect, Light Effect, Magic LightAnd what of magic?  I would argue that this, too, is something a small child experiences and responds to in a very natural, comfortable way and trying to regain that instinctive connection to the magic inherent in their lives takes many years, once the child has been trained to put it aside.

We allow – even encourage – small children to fill their lives with magic.  We tell them of Santa Claus, the tooth fairy, the Easter bunny and read them stories or show them videos of unicorns and dragons, magicians and heroes with fantastic powers.

At some point, though – perhaps around the same time we start insisting that humans should be drawn with bodies, not just a circular head with legs and arms – we begin to teach them what is ‘real’ and what is ‘pretend’.  What many of us don’t recognise is that this is just as arbitrary and incomplete a world view as the one we are asking them to leave behind.

Magic has a strong similarity to art.  When painting and drawing we encapsulate three dimensions in two.  With magic, we bring multiple dimensions into the three that form what current convention sees as our world.  (Again, I suspect our ancestors would have viewed it quite differently.)

In the children’s story book I’ve just published, I made sure enough magic was embedded within it to at least allow my 8-12 year old audience to keep wondering.  My metaphysician (yes, of course there had to be one!) observes three members of a family who find themselves confronted with a magical ‘coincidence’ as follows:

The lady in the blue dress looked from one to the other of them – the mother, who was slowly shaking her head and muttering, “Extraordinary…”, the boy who was now clutching his cheeks and laughing with amazement and pure delight, and the small child beside her who was still young enough to understand how real magic was and therefore not surprised at all.

I’d love to think that a few children reading The Glassmaker’s Children will recognise the magic my young hero Stellan rediscovers and notice how, by using attention and intention, both he and they can find way of surviving and thriving, despite the setbacks and challenges they encounter.

 

Small note:  I originally set up this blog (back in 2012) to publicise my first book.  Since then it’s be come more of a vehicle for my metaphysical ramblings, and I’d like it to stay that way.  For that reason, I’m placing most of my posts about The Glassmaker’s Children on my Open the Box blog.  This one, for example, explains the particular challenges my two young characters face as they battle to cope with a narcissistic parent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Glassmaker’s Children

The Glassmaker's Children by [Jan Stone]Yes – apologies.  This blog has been very quiet in the past few months.  There’s a reason for that, which I’m about to share with you.

Life during lockdown was very different, obviously.  One of the most positive and welcome changes during that time was the opportunity to chat via video link with my grandchildren every day.  Their mother works from home, so I agreed to do some home learning with them each weekday morning, to give her some time to herself.

Every ‘lesson’ ended with a story session and we got through a fair few books during that time – Tales of Mystery and Imagination (my favourite picture book ever), The Arabian Nights, The Firework Maker’s Daughter, Stig of the Dump and much more.  The five year old – quite understandably – drifted away unless there were plenty of pictures, but the eight year old sat and soaked in every word, day after day.

When the summer holidays started, lockdown eased and the lessons ceased, I found that my love of children’s literature had been rekindled (unintentional pun there!)

As a parent, teacher and mentor, I’d often been able to find the perfect book to help a child dealing with family or personal issues – low self-esteem, bullying, family splits and so forth.  The book I’d never been able to find was one that explained – in a child-friendly storybook format – why, if we do indeed at some level choose the family we are born into, this child chose the parents or siblings they did.

That’s why I decided to write it.

I hadn’t been prepared for how much it would consume my life – waking and dreaming.  Stellan and Ruby Rose, my main characters, became utterly real to me.  Perhaps, since they’ve now been created, they really live in some other reality.  I’d like to think so.  At any rate, one night, during a particularly vivid dream, Ruby and I headed off on an adventure quite unrelated to the story I was writing.

Often I suddenly ‘knew’ what would happen to them next, without consciously planning it.  I caught myself thinking, “Oh, yes, clever!  That links well to chapter 14,” although the new idea had suddenly appeared unbidden in my mind.  Maybe I was being helped…

I did become rather obsessed.  There was the day the doorbell rang when I was in full creative flow and I found myself answering the door to the courier there in a Welsh accent, since I’d been writing dialogue between characters in a Welsh village at the time!

 

It’s only available on Kindle so far, but I’m hoping to get it into paperback within the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, if you know any 8-12 year olds who might enjoy a story about sorcery, self-discovery, adventure and the magical chemistry that permeates all of our lives, do send them to hunt it out on Amazon Kindle, where the first few chapters are free to read.

 

 

Stitching a new garment

Iphone, Smartphone, Apps, Apple IncA week ago, my phone pinged.  One of those Facebook PM things.  I’ve been getting a lot lately – little gifs of cute cats, uplifting pictures of sunsets or seascapes, prayers in pretty fonts garlanded with flowers or rainbows, even the annoying ones that instruct you to send the flickering candle or whatever back to the sender and on to all the women/true friends/grandmothers etc. you know…  Kind thoughts, sent with love – people doing what they can to connect.  I send a smile icon back or a heart or whatever I feel will best please the sender so that I can then move on with my day.

Life at LIME Cottage right now is not Netflix, gin and scrolling through social media.  It starts at 8.30 with lesson preparation (daily multi-age primary school phonics and English resources posted online for harassed parents – opentheboxweb.wordpress.com).  God I hate phonics!  A ridiculous system, but that is what the kids have been learning, so that’s what needs to be done.  At 11am it’s a video call with the grandchildren.  Their mum gets an hour to work from home unhindered while I chat, read stories, deliver the wretched phonics and writing, cram in a bit of maths and help the little ones to make some sense of the way the world is now.  A quick lunch, a daily walk or burst of gardening then on to the afternoon job – sewing scrubs and gowns for a local care home.  It’s all very organised in our town.  The coordinator sends out packs of fabric and patterns via masked and gloved volunteer couriers and our team of makers gets to work, each in their own home, just as the spinsters and weavers of yore may have done in this very house before industrialisation came.  My ‘working day’ ends at 4.30.  I check on the salads and tomato seedlings growing around the house on sunny windowsills then put some dinner together.

So it was surprising, really, that I heard the ping.  It was from a lady I’ve been in touch with for many years.  One of those social media friends I’ve never met, and never will, but somehow feel I know.  We exchange messages from time to time and, I confess, as I opened the file I was half expecting another cat picture.  She likes cats.  What I saw instead stopped me dead. Image may contain: text  It was this:

My words reflected back to me!  She had sent me a screenshot of a passage I wrote all those years ago – back in 2012 – in my book LIFE: A Player’s Guide.  No explanation came with them.  Perhaps she had stumbled across the image and found it helpful, or perhaps she guessed that, at a time of such utter disempowerment, they were words I needed to be reminded of.

Either way, they worked.  I was transported back to the time I wrote it, returned to a state of optimism and reminded that what I’m doing now is valid.

 

Let me go a bit deeper here.

You see I’ve known a world-changing disaster was coming for a long time (see last post for details).  Stashed away somewhere in a cupboard upstairs is a rather expensive multi-use survival tool, some packs of waterproof matches and a self-sufficiency handbook.  Their time may or may not come.  I wasn’t expecting it to be this way, but I knew some cataclysm was heading inexorably towards us.  My source was impeccable.

I’d been told that me being a teacher would be important at this time – hence the time-consuming daily lessons.  I’ve been trying my best to follow the scant guidance I’d been given.

I was told more, though.  I was told that although technology would remain in tact and be beneficial, ‘finance’ – the economy – would undergo seismic changes and this in turn would have a huge effect on people.  It would, in fact multiply the changes occurring in society, leading to an attitude of altruism and general goodness prevailing over the cut-throat world of inequality, exploitation and global destruction.

It is that prediction which had been bothering me.  I’d had 15 years to prepare for this.  Now it was here, I fervently wanted to see that change.  I read eloquent passages and watched inspiring videos from people around the world stressing that we must not return to the old ‘normal’, that we need to change and that Covid 19, for all it’s cruelty, was giving us all a chance to stop and wonder and see the disparity, foolishness and waste of our old world.

Sew, Protective Mask, Sewing MachineAnd what was I doing about it?  Making a few bits of PPE for the local nursing home.  Growing a bit of veg.  Liking and sharing the positive ideas on social media.  Tiny drops in the ocean – pathetic!

Reading that message from my friend (and myself), however, helped me to rediscover the bigger picture.

Yes, in terms of the physical self, there are limits.  Once I begin to think of ‘me’ as thought and energy, though, everything changes.  There are no limits to thought or energy.  They are not confined within single individuals.  Thought is a million times more contagious than any virus.  It spreads through the aether, gathering energy and impetus from everyone who acknowledges and shares it.  Once the intention that we choose these beneficial changes in our world has been held, it grows exponentially.  It becomes our creation.

There is nothing – no multinational corporation, no bunch of self-serving policiticans, no reactionary lobbyist who can stand against the groundswell of opinion that is forming as we sit in our separate homes but combine our intent.

As I sit over my sewing machine this week, I will be pondering the deep and abiding changes that are happening in my thoughts, my energy and those of the world community around me.

Sonya Renee Taylor’s words express it perfectly:

‘We will not go back to normal. Normal never was. Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. One that fits all of humanity and nature.’

A Window into Consciousness?

There have been two concepts – probably closely related – occupying me recently.

One is the idea that the ‘stuff’ around us, visible and invisible, is all conscious.  That’s a fairly large idea to get my thoughts around.

The second is a wondering about perception – what it is, where it is and how reliable it might be.  I think that’s where I’ll start.

Planets, Sun, Earth, Galaxy, Sky, SpaceHere I sit, pretty much still apart from my fingers moving across the keyboard of my computer, whilst knowing that I’m being held in position by gravity to an oblate spheroid (aka The Earth) spiralling through space at an eye-watering speed.  My perception in no way matches that reality, yet I put it aside and carry on with my daily life.  Why am I not aware of travelling so fast?  Good grief, I get travel sick in a car going round the M25.  Is it something I’ve adjusted to?  And if so, when – at birth, in the womb, at the moment of conception?  None of those seems right.  It’s as if the physical mechanics of the universe and the physical reality of life on the planet don’t mesh.

Of course, as we all know, even physical realities don’t mesh.  There’s a macro reality for the universe, with a set of rules that seem to work fairly well; there’s a micro reality down at the quantum level, that works quite differently but, again, seems to follow its own logic.  The TOE that should be able to combine them is oddly elusive.  And somewhere between the two, there are our perceptions of what-is-going-on which seem quite often to be at odds with both of these realities.

We are a pragmatic bunch, us humans.  Most of the time we are more than happy to bumble along accepting trade-offs – the compromises we make with the world about us so that we won’t be confused and troubled by the way things are.  It’s comfortable to see the sun rising and setting, rather than ourselves spinning around it, or to look out to sea and see a straight horizon rather than a slight curve.  It’s convenient to see a desk or a dinner plate as a solid, static object, rather than as a combination of extremely active (and conscious?) subatomic particles blinking in and out of our reality.

So these are some of the simple concessions we make, despite knowing the physics that gives the lie to them.  Sometimes, though, our perception can get completely messed up, without us having the slightest idea why.  Spare a few minutes to watch this little video.  It may not be the slickest production around, but – if you watch it through to the end – it packs quite a punch and deals a rather crushing blow to our reliance on our senses.

‘Optical illusion’ somewhat underplays what is going on here.  Our eyes and brains aren’t just playing a little trick with us – they are forcing us to believe a completely false set of perceptions.  Certainly it’s harmless enough, but doesn’t it make you wonder about all the other ways we are being lied to by our senses?

I’m not suggesting a Matrix-type scenario, with some evil force going out of its way to fool us for its own nefarious ends, but I am seriously considering the possibility that the everyday world around us is not at all the way it seems according to our sensory perception.  If something as simple as a sheet of card can mess with our minds that way, what else is going on?

I think the only answer is that we have – collectively and individually – a set of perceptual constructs which give us the parameters within which we can view the world.  There are common agreed mass perceptions and personal ones.  That’s why some people see danger and menace where others don’t.  Some see the world fragmenting while others see the dawning of an age of true enlightenment.  Some see ghosts, aliens, the fae…  In other words, perception is subjective.

So if there isn’t any objective truth out there (or in here) what, exactly are we perceiving?  Why are some things the same for all of us, while others differ so much?

Sky, Astronomy, Moon, LandscapeIn The Seth Materials, channelled by Jane Roberts in the 1960s and 70s, we are told that there are Units of Consciousness – CUs – which are the infinitessimal building blocks of physical existence.  (Seth states that to a CU, an atom would be the size of a planet and that scientists have yet to discover them.)  These Units are particles of electromagnetic energy – incipient consciousness, which is volatile and imbued with infinite possibilities.

Now for the really exciting part.  “No objective reality exists but that which is created by consciousness,” Seth tells us.  “Consciousness always creates form, and not the other way about.”
So here we are, us conscious beings with thoughts and ideas of what we are perceiving, and swirling around us is this mass of conscious electromagnetic energy, just waiting…  These CUs coalesce around our thoughts, ideas, emotional responses, reactions and events to form matter.  The stronger and more intense the thought, the faster and more convincing and real (if I dare use that word) the manifestation.

Clearly ideas and beliefs we share have enough intensity to hold true for all of us.  Thoughts of a more indeterminate or nebulous nature, held to be true by some, yet refuted by others, will not result in matter/reality perceived by all.  For some people, though, they will be as real as any dinner plate, any desk, or the sun setting outside my rectangular window.