The Compleat Psychic

by

Ruth Brown



 

Copyright 2014 Ruth Brown

 Smashwords Edition

 




Creative Commons 3.0 License
Website: http://www.themista.com
Blog: http://www.blogspot.themista.com



 


Table of Contents
 

Chapter 1. How Not to Be a Stupid Idiot

Chapter 2. Quantum Cussedness.

Chapter 3. Welcome to Dragsville USA.

Chapter 4. Tarot and Pamela Colman Smith.

Chapter 5. Adventures with the Mussolinis.

Chapter 6. Question Preliminaries.

Chapter 7. Self-Examination Questions.

Chapter 8. It's Not Just You: It's Those Damn Newtonians!

Chapter 9. Questions About Externals.

Chapter 10. In Search of the Flash.

Chapter 11. But You've Got to Tell Me What the Cards Mean!

Chapter 12. In Search of the Thought.

Chapter 13. Fighting the Answer/Accepting the Answer.

Chapter 14. Bye Bye Blackbird.

Chapter 15. Water: From Turmoil to Harmony.

Chapter 16. Earth: From Stuff to Ecstasy.

Chapter 17. Air: From Inner Demons to Divine Companions.

Chapter 18. Fire: From Chaos to Creation.

Chapter 19. Aether: From Ego to Net.

Chapter 20. After the Quantum Leap.

Footnotes.

Bibliography.



Acknowledgements

My thanks to Darlene Anderson, Dawn Combs, Deborah McQuellin, Ann Mullenix, John Mullenix, Joy Roberts, Helene Rose, Buddah Strouse, and Donald Vanover for their help and suggestions. Illustrations from the Rider-Waite Tarot Deck® reproduced by permission of U.S. Games Systems, Inc., Stamford, CT 06902 USA. Copyright ©1971 by U.S. Games Systems, Inc. Further reproduction prohibited. The Rider-Waite Tarot Deck® is a registered trademark of U.S. Games Systems, Inc.

Disclaimer

I am not a trained medical professional, and the criticisms I make in this book about medical procedures and pharmaceuticals are reflections of my own personal experience. What works (or doesn't work) for one person may not apply to another. While I feel that much is wrong with standard American medical treatment, on occasion I make use of it, and I also sometimes take dietary supplements. So the reader should understand that no kind of medical action or inaction should be taken based solely upon what I say in this book. My statements are not intended for treatment purposes but for discussion with your own doctor. While I feel that divination can assist you in the maintenance of your health, it should never be a substitute for the recommendations of your physician. So I accept no liability for the information in this book being up-to-date, accurate or complete, or the quality of this information. Please use this book responsibly.

Note on Chinese transcription

In this book I use the Hanyu Pinyin system of Chinese Romanization for the following terms:
Dao, Daoism = Tao, Taoism
Laozi = Lao Tzu
Liezi = Lieh Tzu
Taijiquan = T'ai chi chu'an
Yi Jing = I Ching
Zhuangzi = Chuang Tzu

Copyright

Copyright 2014
Creative Commons 3.0 License
Website: http://www.themista.com
Blog: http://www.blogspot.themista.com


Chapter 1. How Not to Be a Stupid Idiot.


Greetings, my friend. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives.--Jeron Criswell in Plan Nine from Outer Space (1955).


Are you a psychic meathead? Do your extrasensory abilities seem nonexistent? Do other people seem to be more talented at picking up on hidden energies or coming events than you do? Are you the sort of human being who can't ever get an intuitive flash about anything? Is your life simply not working, even though you can't figure out why?

Well, all of the above used to be me. Once upon a time I was the sort of idiot who made disastrously bad decisions about her life. I could never accurately interpret what was going on in the world around me, nor did I ever have a clue what was coming in the future. Was my friend telling me the truth? Was I managing my money wisely? Did I make good choices about my diet? Was I working a decent job? Given the fact that I elected to work in an organization where I came into daily contact with numerous equine derrières, I think not. As for my personal relationships, would you like to hear how many times I have had to go to the county building to bail one of my boyfriends out of jail?

Fortunately, those days are history. My life started working beautifully when I learned how to strengthen my psychic abilities thanks to the use of an oracular tool. Learning how to work with an oracle has turned my life around in ways I never thought possible. It can do the same for you as well.

At this point the rational reader is probably starting to wonder: Can she be kidding? What kind of idiot messes with something as insane as fortune-telling in this day and age? Hasn't humanity moved beyond such prehistoric hocus-pocus into the clear light of enlightened rationalism? People who ask such questions are always ferociously certain that psychic ability is a useless waste of time. But such scoffers are the true idiots of this world. Any human being who has learned how to develop his or her innate psychic abilities can easily start to pick up on what are usually non-perceptible energies. And once you become proficient with this skill, everything about your life can change for the better.

Here you need to understand that everyone is psychic. Just because you have never tried to intuitively interpret a situation or peek into the future doesn't mean that you cannot do it. I never used to think that I possessed any kind of special intuitive ability. I didn't have a Scottish grandmother with second sight, nor had I ever experienced a glimpse of a future event. I am as ordinary as ordinary gets, and I never bothered with divination until I was in my thirties. But when you start to work with something over and over, your skills improve, and that's what happened to me. It can happen to anyone else as well. All it takes is time and practice.

I am aware that the only thing most rationalists would say about the preceding paragraph is . . . bunk. Well, people like this don't realize that they are usually stumbling blindly through their lives, being constantly misled by a booby trap called cognitive illusion and relying on little more than guesswork to make their decisions. The unhappy fact about our mortal existence is that we humans can never for one second trust our overly emotional selves to accurately perceive the world around us. We focus on what we want to believe is true, or we interpret information in a way that confirms our preconceptions. This means that not even the most careful deliberation can stop us from making mistakes time after time. One thing I've learned over the years is that perception is intentional. Most people make determined, if unconscious, efforts to see only what they want to see, not what they need to see. And they get things wrong, time and time again.

There have been several books written in recent years which describe the untrustworthiness of our rational-thinking skills. These include Don't Believe Everything You Think: The 6 Basic Mistakes We Make in Thinking (2006) by Thomas E. Kida, A Mind of Its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives (2008), by Cordelia Fine, and Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions (2009) by Dan Ariely. These mind-as-deceiver books make uncomfortable reading, especially when you realize that their authors have no viable solutions for the problems they describe. Kida recommends the underwhelming solution of "a skeptical and critical approach", Fine suggests that you "remain alert", Ariely tells you to be "more vigilant".[1] Guys--is this the best you can come up with?

Well, may I make a suggestion? I am convinced that there is a solution to the problem of our deceptive minds, which can work for everyone. If you want to perceive truth instead of illusion and use this truth to live a better kind of life, what you need is a reliable tool which will give you not only the plain honest facts about your mind and your desires, but insight into the authentic reality of the universe. Such a tool really does exist. It is called an oracle.

Whenever I look at American society today, all I see are disastrous situations or events which could easily be prevented if people started working with oracles. Fifty percent of American marriages end in divorce, but that wouldn't be happening if people knew in advance whether a potential relationship was going to work. Millions of people overextend themselves into bankruptcy, which also wouldn't occur if they consulted an oracle before they made any kind of financial decision. Horrible loss of lives and property in natural disasters would be greatly lessened if people we able to pick upon the likelihood of disruption in their vicinities in the near future. Buyer's remorse, voter's remorse, Murphy's Law, and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to would greatly diminish if people only knew how to make practical and rational use of their innate psychic skills.

Think for a moment how your life would improve if you could always tell whether or not someone was lying to you. Or whether a financial investment was going to be reasonably secure. Or whether your life, family or property will be safe during the next month or so. Or whether your carefully-considered plan of action will produce the expected results. And the estimated 90% failure rate of new business products should tell you that relying upon that nonsense called your best judgment isn't the best way to evaluate your corporate options. If our heavily-educated MBA's would simply start utilizing their innate psychic abilities every time they made a decision, chances are that their companies' profit margins would start looking a lot healthier than Pan Am, Borders, and Studebaker.

Here are some other examples of the ways in which divination can provide the kinds of practical, day-to-day answers you need to live a more successful life:

You wouldn't drive yourself crazy with questions such as these if you knew how to work with an oracular tool. And working with an oracular tool just happens to be the easiest thing in the world. Here it is important to remember that divination has always been a perfectly normal human activity throughout human history. There has never been a civilization in which people did not consult oracles, not even our secular humanistic one. It is also interesting to remember that most classical philosophers, including Plato and Aristotle, recommended or practiced divination. The great prophet of Chinese rationalism, Confucius, also spoke reverently of the Yi Jing and expressed a desire to study it at the end of his life. It is interesting to see that the Yi Jing is based on the kind of mathematics which are the basis of our digital reality. The 17th century German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz was the first Western thinker to study the Yi Jing, and his insights into its patterns helped him formulate theories of the binary system. In other words, that laptop of yours which you adore so much just happens to be the descendant of an oracular tool.

Another interesting thing to realize is that whenever we analyze the most famous oracular pronouncements in history, we can see that they were usually accurate. One of the most famous was the prediction given to the Athenians during the Persian Wars of the 4th century BCE. The Greek historian Herodotus tells us that when the city was in danger of attack, the people were panicking, and the Athenian leaders were at a loss about what to do. Fortunately they decided to consult the Oracle of Delphi for guidance, where they were told that they should place their trust in "the wooden wall." Like most oracular pronouncements, this response was not a masterpiece of clarity, and the Athenians hotly debated what it was supposed to mean. Herodotus tells us that some leaders felt that the acropolis would escape since it was defended by a wooden barrier. Others believed that they should fight the Persians at sea in wooden ships.  Eventually a general named Themistocles convinced everyone that it would be best to do battle at sea near Salamis, where the Athenians eventually destroyed the Persian fleet. Salamis was one of the decisive battles in history, one which preserved the glories of Greek culture for future generations. Their oracle helped the Athenian leaders to make the best possible decision, and their city was saved.[2]

But what is an oracular tool? How can we find one that works for us? Well, people have used all kinds of objects over the centuries to help them reveal what are usually non-perceptible energies. Ancient Hindus would press flowers to a wall and wait for them to fall to get their answers. The rustling of the leaves of a celebrated oak tree in Dodona were considered oracular for many generations in ancient Greece. The pythonesses at Delphi saw visions in smoke, Roman augurs studied flights of birds, medieval Vikings threw runes, and African tribesmen scattered shells. In Europe the practice known as the sortes Virgilianae was used for hundreds of years: you formulated your question, opened up a random page of Virgil's Aeneid, put your finger on a verse, and you had your answer. In more recent times, people have worked with tea leaves, pendulums, dice, Ouija boards, and cards. My guess is that these various tools worked more often than not.

And as astonishing as it might seem to the other rationalists out there, you can remain both sensible and practical when you work with an oracular tool. My idea of being psychic is that it should always be combined with rational thinking: no psychic without logic. Our rational thinking skills explain why the human race is no longer living in grass huts, so they are not something to be jettisoned. But our logic can be valuably supplemented by intuitive information. All of which means that when working with an oracle, you must first give your assumptions the test of reason, and only then subject these assumptions to an oracle. If you think you can rely upon divination while jettisoning your common sense or your life experiences, you're asking for trouble.

But here comes the catch. The infuriating thing about consulting an oracle is that it will never hesitate to tell you that you're being a stupid idiot every single time that you actually are a stupid idiot. In other words, it can be even more judgmental than Cotton and Increase Mather combined. But since the only way you can identify the best plan of action or extricate yourself from a mess is by hearing the plain unvarnished truth, this is much to be desired. Mind you, it's not pleasant to hear that you're being a moron one more time, but it doesn't hurt as much if you get it from an oracle than from the assorted nags in your life.

As for me, the stupid idiot thing is the main message I've gotten from my oracle for over twenty years now. I have been repeatedly informed that I'm wrong, I'm foolish, I'm not eating right, I shouldn't buy this, I shouldn't buy that, don't do it, don't try it, don't go near it, it won't happen, stop feeling sorry for yourself, forget about it, get over it, deal with it, don't associate with that person, don't get involved with him (and him and also him), and--worst of all for someone who suffers under the delusion that she's a writer--rewrite! In short, my oracle has never exhibited much admiration of either my sense or my abilities. However, I have learned that if it's a case of me interpreting reality correctly or the oracle, the oracle wins.

Well, all I can say is thank heavens for that. My oracle has helped me grow and develop, change my perspectives, stay healthy, and concentrate on what really matters. Mind you, consultation of an oracle hasn't made me infallible, nor has it kept me wrapped up in a cocoon of perfect safety. Whatever oracular tool you choose to work with will never be accurate 100% of the time. But once you become familiar with the practice of divination, you will discover that your tool will usually give you valuable information about energies or potentials in your life. If you're one of those people who has made your fair share of mistakes in your life, you will discover that your ordinary humdrum life can start to come alive with transformative possibilities once you start working with an oracle.

My oracular tool of choice is tarot. My tarot cards have consistently given me reliable answers about innumerable issues in my life for over twenty years now, and I have learned to rely upon them for everything. I have discovered--and boy, have I ever!--that when the cards tell me something I don't expect to see, I need to reexamine whatever decision I have reached. There have been innumerable times when the cards have insisted, to the point of complete and utter obstinacy, that I'm wrong about something. Guess what. They always prove to be correct. The money I spent on my first tarot deck was the best money I spent in my life.

It is not difficult to learn how to work with tarot, as long as you realize that the only thing you need is a deck of tarot cards. In other words, you should forget about the thousands of brain-dead books which have been written about tarot over the years. The problem with most tarot books is that they are filled with bad thinking and worse advice, written by halfwits who exhibit all the intellectual integrity of a shampoo commercial. Tarot doesn't need anything spooky to make it workable. If you can forget about the occult mumbo-jumbo which you might think is a part of psychic reality, you can learn how to start working with the cards in both a practical and rational fashion. To do this, you simply need to focus on what truly matters in successful divination: picking the best possible oracular tool, devising the right kind of question, and dealing with the answer.

But there is more to this book than tarot. It is better described as a self-help book which focuses on making life into art. I believe that my years of working with an oracle have given me a lot of practical insight into ways in which anyone can create a more fulfilling life. Divination can do a lot more than identify hidden energies or predict the future: it can shift your energies into beneficial new patterns. Wouldn't you rather go through your days feeling harmony and grace instead of the crap you're probably dealing with at the moment? This can be done by anyone at any time. I once heard of a young man who was eager to purchase a magic wand to solve all of life's problems, preferably one which was machine-washable in case he accidentally put it into the laundry. Well, I don't know if he ever found it, but chances are that by the time you reach the end of this learned treatise, you will have acquired the next best thing: a way to transform problems into potentials, and negative energies into joy.

This means that instead of starting off with tarot, we will first look at something which is more important: the energies which surround us. More specifically, we need to analyze the kinds of energies which manifest whenever we consult an oracle. This means that we will start by examining what energy truly is.



Chapter 2. Quantum Cussedness.


If quantum mechanics hasn't profoundly shocked you, you haven't understood it yet.--Niels Bohr.


So what is energy? That can be easily answered: everything. Contemporary physics tells us that at the atomic level all "physical" forms in our spacetime universe are dynamic processes composed of swirling atomic particles. Moreover, these particles are moving through mostly empty space: studies indicate that atoms are 99.9999999999999% empty, which makes for a lot of emptiness.[3] Furthermore, no atom is ever in contact with another atom--there is always some kind of space between them, which makes for even more emptiness. This means that an atom is more a system or a field than a thing. The fact that we perceive wood or stones to be solid objects is only an indication of the inadequacy of our senses. The differences between the manifestations of what we call "matter" result from their varying rates of vibrations--the slower the rate, the denser the form.

This kind of quantum reality does not resemble in any way the materialistic view of the universe which was first promulgated by Aristotle and later by Sir Isaac Newton. Most of Newton's basic principles were blown out of the water with the quantum revelations which occurred at the beginning of the 20th century. Our spacetime universe is not a giant clock, nor is it a giant computer. It is nothing but an amorphous stew of endlessly transforming energy.

And if ever there were a painful truth to assimilate, this is it. Quantum spookiness continues to be so difficult to accept that even those people who understand something about its reality constantly shut its implications out of their minds. This holds true for the most prominent scientists and medical people among us. They accept the facts of quantum mechanics but are still unable to connect these facts with the circumstances of their own personal existence. This most especially includes how they think about their own bodies. After all, our senses tell us that our bodies are weighted and solid forms which act like machines being controlled by some kind of inner mechanism. When I was a kid, people imagined that they had a control panel inside their skulls; nowadays they think their brain is a computer.

Well, both surmises are nothing but illusion. Like everything else in our physical world, our supposedly solid bodies are nothing but energy fields composed of swirling atomic particles moving through vacant space. This means that our consciousness is not something which is imprisoned in matter but simply one form of energy permeating the slower energy field which we call our physical bodies. I have heard of psychics who can see human beings not as solids but as transparent entities, and my guess is that they are seeing the vacant spaces at the atomic level. Other psychics are able to discern the human aura, the energy field that envelopes our "solid" bodies and which can even be photographed these days thanks to Kirlian photography. These photographs show that the energies which make up our living reality extend about fifteen to eighteen inches outwards from our skin, enveloping us in an egg-shaped field which is as much a part of our being as our sensations or our consciousness. We humans aren't two-legged critters--we're egg-shaped energy forms.

All of this means that if you want to work successfully with an oracular tool, you have to start thinking about the world around you in terms of energy and nothing else but. One thing I've learned over the years is that a mechanized and objectified world view invariably gets people into trouble. You are asking for endless difficulties in your existence if you go through your life perceiving nothing but those illusions known as things, objects, or events. But if you can make a shift in your perceptions from matter to energy, not only will you not get into messes in the first place, you will be able to get out of them much more easily. And one thing I'm certain of: there is a way out of everything, including financial woes and desperate unhappiness.

So if everything is energy, the next thing to examine is how energy manifests. The catch here is that the movement of atomic particles in our universe happens to be illogical, confusing, and unpredictable. This is unsettling to be sure, but it can also be a lot of fun. Indeed, when you remember that there is nothing more pigheadedly determined to do exactly what it pleases than a sub-atomic particle, the more fun you're going to have. I like to think that the chaotic reality which exists at the quantum level conjures up visions of earlier human types, namely our dadgum great-grandpas who wouldn't be shoved around by anyone or anything in sight, and especially not by Washington bureaucracy, liberals, and cops--as Jack Kerouac says.[4] Nobody can shove subatomic particles around, either. Contemplating the cussedness of the quantum field always makes me happy.

What I am now going to describe are theories about energy which I have developed over the years. As far as I can tell these theories seem to align themselves with the laws of quantum mechanics, sort of. Here I must admit that I am no expert in the complexities of this highly convoluted discipline. I am only an interested non-professional, which means that the following statements may or may not be valid. As a matter of fact, the factoids which follow could probably be described as junk science. Big deal. We live in an era where nothing but fake data is dished up by assorted egos to prop up their agendas of choice. If what follows is nothing but junk science, it's as reasonable as anybody else's. But my own experience tells me that the following intuitions about energy are valid.

Laws of Quantum Cussedness

Everything is energy.

As has been mentioned, quantum physics tells us that all manifestations in our spacetime universe are forms of energy. What we think of as matter is more like thought or information than solidity. Some people recoil from this truth because it is unsettling, but a mechanized view of life and consciousness is nothing but a cognitive illusion, and a dangerous one at that.

We human beings are energy fields.

Forget everything you think you know about flesh and blood--it's just another illusion. This idea ought to be more comforting than frightening if you allow yourself to think about something you usually keep out of your mind: death. When you realize that your "physical" being is nothing but a conglomeration of atomic vibrations, this means that the "end" of your earthly existence is simply a change in the velocity rate of your field. In my opinion, these rates slow down when we enter into our temporary house of clay and speed back up when we pass into spirit. This means that the boundary line between low speed (physical) and high speed (spiritual) energy is so miniscule that it only barely exists. What happens when we die is merely an adjustment in our vibes. Our consciousness continues regardless of the speed of our energies. Is there something scary about that?

Energy is always flowing.

In our spacetime universe, energies are always in a state of becoming. There is no such thing as stasis at the quantum level, nor in the natural world, nor in any aspect of our lives. This means that human attempts to create some kind of permanence are artificial constructs which are always doomed to fail. It is interesting to note that the alternative name for the oldest oracle in the world, the Yi Jing, is the Book of Changes. This tells us that when you work with an oracle, you are always going to perceive processes, never categories or fixed forms.

Energies are circular.

Even though the energies of our spacetime universe sometimes seem to move in a linear fashion, most energetic movement is circular (and I have only been able to identify one possible exception to this universal circularity, which will be discussed). For all the other energies in our spacetime reality, there is always some kind of rebounding, even with what seems to be a linear manifestation like light. It is true that light seems to flow in a linear fashion as it moves through a vacuum, but when it encounters a barrier, the rays start to bounce back towards their point of origin.

This means that any definition of reality in our spacetime universe must include the idea of circularity. The prefix re- comes from the Latin realis, which can be translated as again, repetition, or backwards motion. Re- can be found in a whole galaxy of English words like reverberate, return, rebound, regenerate, reflect, religion, revert--and reality. Reality means circularity. A perception of linearity is usually just another cognitive illusion.

This should not surprise you if you think about it. Planets revolve around stars, electrons spin around a nucleus, and the natural world operates in cycles of day and night, winter and summer, birth and death. It is true that we can observe straight lines both in nature and in human artifacts, but sooner or later most energies which move forward begin to circle back. The fact that both space and time seem somehow curved is probably just another manifestation of universal circularity. What goes around comes around.

Circularity consists of ectropy and entropy.

The idea of circularity brings me to a concept of which my esteemed reader has probably never heard, that of ectropy. And since ectropy is one of the bedrock concepts of this book, it is time for you to pay attention.

So what the heck is it? The word ectropy is easy enough to define--it is the opposite of entropy. And we all know what entropy is, right? Entropy is the law of thermodynamics which states that all systems eventually wear down or decline into disorder. This is an obvious fact of nature, and it happens to all energy fields, up to and including the spacetime universe in which we live, which is heading into a Big Crunch in another few billion years. Here on planet earth we constantly perceive entropic energies of one kind or another, in the fall of a leaf, in the decay of an abandoned building, or in the death of a human being.

Ectropy is entropy's opposite. It is defined as the tendency of a chaotic system to self-organize. Whenever a system falls into chaos, it never remains chaotic for very long. Sooner or later the chaos spontaneously starts to self-organize into some kind of new pattern or form, and when this happens, ectropy is manifesting. Stars don't hang loose in the universe--they self-organize into spiral galaxies. Water forms vortices when it starts to sink to a lower level. Blowing winds self-organize into tornadoes or hurricanes. Seeds grow into plants, and trees arrange themselves so that each leaf receives the maximum amount of sunshine. Ants spontaneously form colonies, fish gather into schools, and sand ridges turn into dunes. A miniscule amount of freezing water turns into a symmetrical snowflake, no two of which are ever the same. Just like entropy, ectropy is happening every second of our lives.

But we seldom notice ectropy happening in the world around us. Chances are that most of my readers have not encountered the term until now. So even if my readers now understand what ectropy means, they are probably recoiling. For that matter, the idea of ectropy's matrix, chaos, is also a terrifying thought to most people, our most intelligent scientists included. Chaos means that there are manifestations in our universe which are beyond our paltry human control. Nobody likes to admit such a possibility. The scientific paradigms which have been with us since the Renaissance are premised on the idea that it is possible to make physical reality both manageable and safe. To be reminded that something like chaos surrounds us at all times and that it acts in an unpredictable and mysterious manner would nullify a lot of scientific effort. As for form spontaneously emerging out of chaos . . . how can that be possible?

All this means that ectropy is probably the single most ignored scientific concept in the world today, and not just by scientists. Fortunately in recent years there have been some members our scientific establishment who have started to pay attention. Books which examine how complexity emerges from chaotic systems are getting written, one of the first being James Gleick's Chaos: Making a New Science (1988). Dr. Gleick doesn't use the term ectropy in his book, but he does recognize that the study of chaotic systems is a worthy subject for investigation. Not just worthy, but of monumental importance. He tells us that along with relativity and quantum mechanics, many scientists believe that chaos theory "has become the century's third great revolution in the physical sciences."[5] I agree wholeheartedly with this statement, and I find it laudable that our most respected scientists are finally starting to examine the phenomenon, even if it continues to resemble somebody's idea of a cosmic joke.

As for me, my own conclusions about the circularity in our spacetime universe go like this: complex systems ectropically manifest out of chaos, they exist as organized energy fields for a period of time, and then they entropically decline back into chaos--which in turn starts to self-organize back into complexity. Round and round and round we go, and where we stop . . . doesn't happen in spacetime.

But aren't concepts like time or evolution proof of linearity? Neither one can go backwards, after all. Time always seems to move forwards, and evolution tells us that life forms keep increasing in complexity. Well, it is true that evolutionary processes on planet earth have not yet come to an end--yet. But if you think about it, you realize that sooner or later all the evolved life forms on this planet will eventually fade away. The species currently existing on our planet aren't going to last for all eternity. They will inevitably fall into dissolution, if only when the sun begins to die in another billion years or so. The Second Law of Thermodynamics catches up with everything.

So like it or not, it makes no sense to be spooked by the idea of circularity, or of ectropy for that matter. Once you start to understand it, you will discover that ectropy can start to feel perfectly normal, like all other natural processes.

All energies are interconnected.

One of the most astounding revelations of quantum mechanics was the discovery that the presence of an observer changes the events of an experiment. In other words, there was some kind of connection between the observer and the experiment being observed. This means in one way or another, all manifestations of energy in our spacetime universe are somehow "entangled". And the principle of nonlocality tells us that no matter how distant two energy forms are, there is still some kind of connection between them. It has been theorized that subatomic particles are able to connect with one another not because they are alive and conscious but because their separateness is an illusion. This makes sense to me. I feel that every energy form in our spacetime universe constantly permeates every other energy form in the gigantic universal web of life. This interlaced reality is similar to the Buddhist idea of pratityasamutpada, or independent co-arising, as well as the Hindu myth of Indra's Net, a glittering interconnected web of jewels, each one of which not only binds them all together but constantly reflects the light of the other gems. No (hu)man is an island. 

Fortunately, people nowadays are starting to understand the idea of universal interconnectedness much more easily, thanks to the internet. For the first time in history, modern technology has given humanity a glimmer of what universal interconnection actually feels like, which is for the best. And I find it amusing that the word internet is almost a clone of Indra's Net. I doubt that the similarity of the two terms would have occurred to the anonymous Defense Department staffer who decided to start calling networked computers the internet, but both terms refer to the same kind of interconnected energy.

Still, on a practical level, universal interconnection is no more easily grasped than the idea of non-materiality, especially if you're the sort of person who looks out at the world and sees people or objects as Others. That's Others with a capital "O". The vast majority of us seven billion human beings perceive the spacetime universe as being filled with objects or life forms which do not seem to be connected to our own personal energy fields in any way, and these life forms are invariably identified as Others. Unfortunately, when it's a human being who's identified as an Other, s/he can also be seen as some kind of enemy, who must be resisted or even destroyed. After all, your senses tell you that the living breathing consciousness which exists inside your bag of skin is absolutely separate from the other bags of skin out there, right?

Well, of all the cognitive illusions which beset poor deluded humanity, our Otherness delusion is one of the worst. We need to remember that our existence is a constant blending of our own energies with the energies of other fields: air, food, water, warmth, light, sound, and the actions or communications of other people. No human being could survive without any of these. As we go through our lives, we are constantly entangled with the energies that surround us, even though they don't seem to physically penetrate what we mistakenly think of as our "solidity".

So Reality is not only circular, it is interconnected. Here it is also interesting to realize that the idea of interconnection has always been part of the way in which human beings have defined the Absolute or the Supreme Being over the centuries. Spiritual visionaries have always been able to perceive some kind of manifestation of the Godhead existing within each one of us. "I am the Self seated in the heart of all beings," says Krishna in the Bhagavad-gita (10:20), while Jesus tells us that "the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21) As members of Indra's Net, we are not just interlaced jewels, we are jewels which are also entangled with the energies of the Divine. This is a truth which is difficult to accept here on our quarrelsome waterlogged rock, but it happens to be the Reality of our universe.

The whole is found in every part.

The idea that everything is connected leads us to our next energy law, which tells us that our spacetime universe is a hologram. A hologram is some kind of whole which cannot be divided into parts. If you try to take a piece out of a hologram, you don't get a part--you get a smaller version of the whole. This means that when our senses tell us that an object can be dissected or divided into parts, they are again lying to us. Every cell of a human body is a miniature whole, as every human body is a miniature universe. This insight has been articulated by mystical visionaries in both East and West throughout human history. The microcosm and the macrocosm are the same thing, both the part and the whole.

All energies are equal.

If everything is interconnected and if the whole can be found in every part, then it is not possible for one particular energy field to be greater or more important than another. This means that every energy manifestation in our universe exists in terms of absolute equality with all the others. At the quantum level there are no glitterati, no Brahmins, no royals, no particles with Ph.D.'s. There is only universal and eternal equality, to be found everywhere, in everything, at all moments, all times, all places, all directions, and all manifestations. There are no big shot jewels in Indra's Net. Correction: there are only big shot jewels in Indra's Net.

This energy rule corresponds to the ancient spiritual belief that we are all equal in the eyes of God. You find this sentiment not just in the Abrahamic tradition, but also the Daodejing, which deplores ideas of superiority and inferiority (Chapter 38), and in the Bhagavad-gita, where Krishna says: "I look upon all creatures equally; none is less dear to me and none more dear". (9:29) It is also found in countless spiritual visionaries, from William Shakespeare, who demonstrates very clearly in King Lear that there is no difference between king and fool, to Walt Whitman, who found equality in all things, men and women, black and white, child and aged, one nation to another, and even human beings with God. One of the most famous of 17th century Sufi mystics, Dara Shikoh, summarized his vision with three simple words: "Mysticism is equality."[6] In more recent times Hindu guru Ramana Maharshi greeted all seekers who came to him with equal respect, explaining that a "jnani (enlightened one) sees no one as an ajnani. All are only jnanis in his sight".[7] Have you ever seen a tree where one leaf is superior to another? Then why do you think one human being can possibly be superior to another?

Of course, universal equality is another idea which runs contrary to our ordinary human experience. We are always encountering Others who are smarter, richer, prettier, or more successful than we are, as well as those whom we label as dumber or poorer. Hierarchies are everywhere in human cultures and have existed since the dawn of history. They have always been immensely popular, too, especially for (1) those at the top and (2) those aspiring to the top. But tops and bottoms are only temporary energy manifestations which have no reality at the quantum level. What's up today won't necessarily be so tomorrow.

Humans are constantly putting out energies into the universe.

With every thought you have and every action you take, you send forth energy into the universe. And when I say universe, I mean nothing less than that great big enormity above your head. Everything you think, say, or do impacts not only your immediate surroundings but the farthest star in the galaxy. That's right--all those yearnings you have for chocolate fudge sundaes are being instantaneously zapped out into the vastness of space faster than you say warp speed. Just because these energies cannot be scientifically measured doesn't mean that they don't exist. They will travel outwards until they impact every part of the quantum field. Not just a few parts of it, but the totality of the hologram.

Human energies can be described as either positive or negative.

By positive or negative, I mean that people's energies will either promote or disrupt the natural harmony of the universe. So two other helpful words to use here are benevolence, which does the promoting, and malevolence, the disruption. Benevolence is derived from the Latin bene (well) and volent (wishing or willing). It is similar to the Christian ideas of agape and caritas, and perhaps even the old Stoic idea of universal brotherhood (by which they meant siblinghood, of course). I like to think that these definitions dovetail with what our common sense tells us. We can easily see that certain of our human energies are benevolent (for example, kindness or honesty), but no one would describe betrayal, malice, or cruelty as anything except malevolent. I think that benevolence manifests when: Malevolence happens when:

Benevolent energies generate positive reactions, while malevolent energies produce negative reactions.

It should be a self-evident truth that human beings who put out positive energy are going to get a different kind of payback than humans who put out cruelty or viciousness. The first will support the natural harmony of the universe, while the other will only wreck it. If you want favorable energies to rebound upon you as you go through your life, you had better stop putting out those malevolent vibes, even if they're only thoughts.

Even after we send out our energies, most of them still remain with us.

Your energies don't evaporate from your own field when you send them out. A hefty percentage of them remain right where they originated, within your own psyche. They also have a way of adding up. You might think that those feelings of loathing you have for your ex-wife aren't a bad thing, but when you indulge in them month after month, year after year, you're filling your own field with as much negative energy as if you'd robbed a bank. The quantum field never forgets. Don't make the mistake of thinking that the malignant energies you have within will someday vanish into nothingness, even if you never express or act upon them. They wreak havoc in your own energy field, the field of your immediate environment, and the quantum field as a whole.

Energies can never be falsified or hidden.

You can attempt to fabricate reality with words, with actions, or with body language, but it is never possible to fake your energies. If you cannot figure out why your life isn't working, has it ever occurred to you that it's because you are constantly sending out some kind of negativity? If you have trouble establishing a decent relationship, chances are that you are silently telegraphing nothing but selfishness or arrogance when you go on a date. If you can't find a well-paying job, you are probably putting out energies of greed or entitlement during your interviews. Well, if you don't want to radiate out negative energies every time you open your mouth, what you need to do is eliminate these negative energies from your psyche instead of trying to do the impossible by disguising them.

Energies are harmonious only when they are reciprocal.

There always needs to be some kind of balance between the energies you put out and the kind of energy which comes back to you. We're back to another re- word, reciprocity. As you go through your life, you need to make sure that you are never in a situation where you are only the giver instead of the receiver, or vice versa. Winning the lottery is a perfect example of the problems caused by nonreciprocal energies. Any kind of unearned energy coming into your life is a lopsided exchange which will inevitably result in disaster.

Malevolent energies don't necessarily come back in the same area as the ones you send out.

This energy rule is one of the most difficult for people to understand, but it is something I've seen time and again. If you are constantly putting out negative energies into the universe, sooner or later you will get your payback, but it frequently returns in ways that you least expect. For example, if you send out energies of greed or selfishness, you might end up with a rotten relationship instead of bankruptcy. Send out dishonesty, and you could develop health problems. This kind of payback usually operates in complete invisibility--people cannot ever make the connection between the bad energies they send out in one area of their existence and the problems they face in another. What did I ever do to deserve this? is the plaintive cry of those failures who not only lack even the most minimal self-awareness but who are constantly baffled by the way the spacetime universe works. If you don't think this makes sense, then you're still not understanding the interconnection of the quantum field, nor the holistic nature of each human energy field.

The energies of our universe are always paired with a complement.

The energies of the universe never manifest in any kind of singularity. Just as ectropy is the complement of entropy, the other energies in our spacetime universe always possess a counterpart, including the wave/particle duality at the quantum level. Many people over the centuries have sensed that duality is one of the most primal realities of our universe. The ancient Daoists probably described it best in their conception of yang and yin, or active/outgoing and passive/indwelling. In the West these ideas were paralleled by pre-Socratic notions of strife and love.

I have spent several years now looking for examples of energy complements. What now follows is a frivolous list of some manifestations of these kinds of dualities, which might help to elucidate them both:

YANG / YIN
Abstraction / Empathy
Analytic / Transformative
Apollo / Dionysus
Causality / Synchronicity
Centrifugal / Centripetal
Cerebrum / Solar plexus
Choice / Chance
Clarity / Ambiguity
Conscious / Unconscious
Control / Release
Distance / Involvement
Edge / Blur
Exhale / Inhale
Exoteric / Esoteric
Explicate / Implicate
Firm / Yield
Form / Beauty
Ice / Mist
Knowledge / Experience
Learning / Looking
Left brain / Right brain
Meat / Potatoes
Objective /Subjective
One / Zero
Particle / Wave
Phenomenon / Noumenon
Prose / Poetry
Solid line / Broken line
Sound / Silence
Straight / Serpentine
Surface / Depth
Systole / Dystole
Time / Space
Tweedledum / Tweedledee
Woof / Warp
There have been plenty of thinkers throughout history who have picked up on these kinds of complements, one of the most famous being William Blake and his Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1793). You also find them mentioned in the last canto of Dante's Divina Commedia:

Ma già volgeva il mio disio e'l velle,
Sì come rota ch'igualmente è mossa,
L'Amor che move il sole e l'altre stelle.

(But already my desire and will, even as a wheel that is equally moved, were being turned by the Love that moves the sun and the other stars.)[8]
Desire and will. Yin and yang. British mystic Evelyn Underhill suggests that with these words Dante is summarizing the principal lesson of his Commedia: "the supreme importance and harmonious movement of il disio and il velle."[9] How did Dante come to this conclusion? Did he encounter a Chinese sage when he was wandering through the empyrean? If so, he forgets to mention it. On the other hand, maybe he was picking up on a universal truth.

Causality is complemented by synchronicity.

One of the most important of all complement pairs listed above is that of causality and synchronicity. And I do think these two are complements, even if their relationship is not immediately obvious. Back in the bad old Newtonian days, when people pondered the workings of the universe, they usually perceived only the cause-and-effect side of reality. However, in a quantum world we can now see that causality is accompanied by a complement, which I believe can be called synchronicity.

This is an insight which was originally made by Lama Anagarika Govinda in The Inner Structure of the I-Ching (1981):

In fact, the more we observe the laws of the world and of our own thinking, feeling and experiencing, the more we shall become aware that what we call reality operates on two levels or in two directions. The first proceeds horizontally and corresponds to the law of cause and effect on which our logic is based; the other may be called the law of synchronicity. While the first proceeds in time, and more or less in a straight line of successive events which condition each other (logic), the second connects events that occur simultaneously, without logical connection, but for reasons that are beyond our understanding and observation. This second level of reality connects events that are not subject to our time-sense, and can therefore not be associated with our horizontal line of successive events in time, but with lines that stand perpendicular to our assumed time-line. The connection belongs to the world of our intuition, rising up from the dark abyss of our inner being, in which the cosmic laws find their individual expression.[10]

Lama Govinda is telling us that the primal energies of our universe are always aligned to concepts of causality on the one hand, or to noncausal synchronicity on the other. We need to take a closer look at both concepts, since they impact not only our lives in general but also how we practice the art of divination.

Let us first examine the idea of cause and effect, since this concept is more easily comprehended. Causality is the old idea that every event has a verifiable preceding cause, and that actions always produce reactions. Cause and effect has been sensed and articulated in most human cultures as long as long as Homo sapiens has inhabited the planet. In English this idea has been proverbially expressed many different ways:

These phrases are simply describing what I like to call the Cosmic Boomerang. Our actions always have consequences. Always. Getting off scot-free has never happened in the history of the universe, and it never will. Ask Macbeth or Raskolnikov if you don't believe me. Karma never forgets. Karma is always going to get you whether it's instant or not. If you're a hardcore sociopath who thinks that once you escape your victim's physical presence, you will have gotten away with it, I have some news for you. The negative energies which your crime created have not dissipated from your energy field. There is no way you're going to live happily ever after with these kinds of energies, not even if you make it to a beach in Tahiti. Ain't payback a bitch?

But the law of causality does not always operate in our universe, as quantum physics tells us. If you observe the movements of subatomic particles at the quantum level, you will see that there is never any kind of perceptible cause and effect. What you find instead is randomness. The early 20th century scientists who investigated quantum mechanics were astounded to discover that in the world of subatomic particles, everything was up for grabs. Particles moved around just as they pleased, without any kind of verifiable preceding event. What was even more astonishing was the fact that the rotten little specks of energy actually acted as if they were conscious and were deliberately trying to spook the eggheads observing them.

So what was happening in all this? Here we come to the idea of synchronicity, which was first promulgated by psychologist Carl Jung. Synchronicity is an energy which manifests whenever an observer perceives a coincidence or a relationship which lacks a causal connection but which strikes him as meaningful. Spontaneous coincidences happen all the time in our random universe, but they become synchronistic when they seem extraordinary to someone who notices them.

Synchronicity gets even more interesting when you realize that what is noticed is frequently connected to ideas of repetitive pattern. Here we need to go back to the idea of ectropy, which tells us that the forms which self-organize out of chaos are never muddled messes--they invariably possess some kind of symmetry or pattern. And the heart of a pattern is repetition (there's that re- syllable again). Patterns of all sorts can be found everywhere in our universe, and people tend to feel pleasure whenever they notice them. From the columns in a Greek temple, to the most intricate mathematical computations, to the forms of shells, trees, or nebulae . . . whenever we perceive an energy manifestation which demonstrates some kind of patterned form, what we are seeing, even without realizing it, is a manifestation of both synchronicity and ectropy.

Patterns are also manifestations of rhythm. Some kind of rhythmic oscillation between complements seems to be one of the most fundamental energy movements of the universe. The beating of our hearts, the intake and exhalation of our breath, musical tempos, growth and decay, waves with their crests and troughs . . . all these energetic processes are oscillating back-and-forth vibrations occurring around an equilibrium point. It is interesting to note that ancient Chinese believed the two primal energies of yin and yang were constantly interacting with each other, so much so that there never was as an energy field which was all yang or all yin--each field possessed only a temporary tendency towards one or the other. What ectropically manifests out of chaos is not just pattern or form, but rhythm as well. So there seem to be three components to synchronicity: noncausality, ectropy, and rhythm.

Still, it needs to be emphasized that synchronicity is not superior to causality, any more than yang is superior to yin. If you focus on one energetic complement to the detriment of the other, you will end up so out of balance that you're only half a human being. Which is, alas, the way that millions of people currently exist. They live solely in the only kind of reality that they know, that of cause and effect, and will furiously deny the existence of anything that smacks of synchronicity. If you're one of those legacy Newtonians who lives in a world filled with what you think is provable evidence about solidity, separateness, or cause and effect, chances are that you've been wading through mess after mess in your life without ever quite realizing why. What we need in our lives is a holistic balance of right and left, synchronicity and causality, psychic and logic.

There are three phases of existence.

It is true that an ectropic manifestation will eventually collapse into entropy, but there is usually a period of time before the decline starts to happen. As far as we humans are concerned, this is the period between extreme youth and extreme old age. We can create meaningful lives for ourselves once we make it into the middle phase between the two extremes. Here we have years if not decades in which we can flourish to the best of our abilities.

This notion is similar to Hindu idea of the Trimurti, or the three gods of creation (Brahman), preservation (Vishnu), and destruction (Shiva). You could say that Brahman personifies ectropy, Shiva entropy, and Vishnu the intermediate state, where he sustains or preserves the life force. I think we would all agree that the most beneficial of these three states is the one in the middle, when we are past our growing pains but have not yet entered into our decline. This is the period in our lives when we can flourish to the best of our abilities. It corresponds to Aristotle's celebrated concept of eudaimonia, meaning human flourishing, which philosophers in antiquity considered to be one of the worthiest of human goals.[11]

But if we want our energies to flourish during the Vishnu stage of our lives, what is the best way to do it? I think there is an easy answer: we have to do our best to live in harmony with the natural energies of the universe. The idea that some kind of universal harmony not only exists but can be sensed by us humans has been common in many cultures over the centuries: ancient Egyptians called it Ma'at, the Greeks termed it the Logos, and to the Chinese it was the Dao.

Here it is interesting to examine the etymology of the word harmony, which comes from the Proto-Indo-European word rta, a word that refers to the natural order of the universe. It also refers to the Godhead: one scholar tells us that rta is "that hidden structure on which the divine, physical, and moral worlds are founded, through which they are inextricably connected, and by which they are sustained."[12] What's even more interesting is that the rta word is also the ancestor of the word dharma, that celebrated Buddhist concept which has connotations of stability, law, and appropriate behavior. And in its form of krta, meaning to make, do, or perform, rta was also the ancestor of words like create, karma, and Sanskrit. You mean that you've never realized that Sanskrit, dharma, create, harmony, and karma are all descended from a word which originally meant both God and the natural order of things? Once upon a time, when you were speaking Sanskrit, doing your dharmic duty, creating form, listening to melody, and watching out for your karma, you were putting out energies which were filled with perfect natural harmony.

All these notions come together to form my own theory about how to achieve success in life. Forget about all the other self-help techniques which have been promulgated in recent years. They apply only to those Newtonian illusions called solidity and separateness. If you want a successful life, what you need to do is align your own energy field with the natural movement of the universe. As the greatest of our hippie sages have told us, it's all vibes, man, so you got to go with the flow. Yes, I know this notion sounds hopelessly kindergarten-ish, but as far as I'm concerned, following the natural movement of energy is the only way you will be able to live intelligently and successfully.

Well, okay--but how can we do this? Chinese Daoists had a practice called wu wei which helped them naturalize their energies. Wu wei is a difficult term to render into English--I've seen it translated as non-doing and action without action, but neither phrase makes much sense. Fortunately Alan Watts gives a definition of wu wei his book What Is Tao (2000) which makes better sense. He tells us that wu wei means one thing only: not forcing.[13] Another good translation comes from Isabella Mears in her book Tao Teh King (1916), where wu wei is described as "striving through the power of the Inner Life."[14]

In other words, wu wei is not considered to be just some kind of useless passivity, nor was it laziness. It occurs when you take action to align your energies to natural patterns. You swim with the stream instead of fighting the current. You saw wood along the grain instead of the bias. You eat cooling foods in the summer and warming foods in the winter. Ancient Chinese Daoists would go out into the wilderness and carefully observe the patterns of nature to see what kinds of adjustments they needed to make in their own lives in order to bring this kind of harmony into their being, and it seems to have worked very well.

Unfortunately, in today's world it is difficult for us urbanized postmoderns to truly perceive the natural flow of energy. If we would go out to the woods to study natural energies, the only thing we would probably think about is mosquito repellent. Living cut off from the natural world as most of us do, it is next to impossible for us to identify natural patterns of energy, let alone align ourselves to them.

But is there any other way that we can identify the harmonious flow of energy in a practical, sensible, 21st century American fashion? Indeed there is. In case you haven't noticed, we have moved in the best circular fashion back to where we started: divination. I like to think that the rta sound also turns up in the word tarot, or at least in its anagram rota, which is Latin/Italian for wheel. There is no evidence that rota is etymologically connected to rta, but the sound is similar. If you want to identify the natural flow of energy and align your own being to it, what you need to do is start working with an oracular tool.


* * *


So now, at last, we are going to start talking about divination. We will begin by reexamining the idea of chaos, along with its nuisance of a whatsit called ectropy. Here I need to remind the reader that chaotic systems all have one thing in common: their chaos never lasts very long. Sooner or later pattern inevitably starts to manifest within them, no matter how turbulent a field might initially appear. This means that the idea of chaos should not be frightening. As a matter of fact, it can even sometimes be a blessing, especially when it appears in our human civilizations. What is war or rebellion but the throwing of chaos at an oppressive political structure? Martin Luther tossed chaos at a sclerotic religious institution and initiated a whole new type of human spirituality. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the movements of Impressionism and Surrealism cracked open an ossified artistic establishment. The United States went counterculturally chaotic in the 1960's, and out of that disorder came the vision necessary to create our computerized world.

In short, chaos can be a blessing. Still, there are two things about chaos which most legacy Newtonians will probably find utterly bewildering. The first is that organized pattern spontaneously starts to form out of chaos. In other words, complexity just starts manifesting without any kind of preceding cause. Great balls of fire, if ever there were an incomprehensible idea, this has to be it. But not even this uncomfortable fact is as baffling as the second problem, trying to figure out why chaotic forms spontaneously self-organize. Why does order arise out of disorder? Why do galaxies arrange themselves into spirals instead of just hanging loose in the universe? People aren't spooked by the laws of gravity, nor the speed of light, nor entropy for that matter. But ectropy? Ectropy happens to be the single most uncanny mystery about the spacetime universe which we inhabit.

Unsurprisingly, those members of our scientific establishment who've gotten interested in chaos theory in recent years have attempted to provide us with some answers. They tell us that ectropy happens because of . . . well, maybe the laws of physics, or the laws of mathematics, or even the workings of Mother Nature. Mind you, no scientific evidence is given for these brilliant explanations, which are nothing more than evidence-free hypotheses. They just make people feel comfortable, I suppose. Somehow they mean that chaos isn't really chaos since it is still subject to the laws of physics, or something like that.

Well, it just so happens that a more persuasive explanation for the ectropic phenomenon already exists, one which has been around for quite a while now, several millennia in fact. Here the reader must understand that the observation of chaos is nothing new in human history. It is one of the oldest activities known. People have been observing chaos--and the patterns which emerge from it--for thousands of years. Moreover, they have studied these patterns as carefully as they can for help and inspiration. But they never regarded their activity as a scientific experiment. They called it divination.

The perception of a pattern in chaos is the soul of divination. Think for a minute about what people do when they consult an oracle. Regardless of what kind of oracular tool they use, they always follow two steps. First, they generate some kind of chaos, such as burning laurel leaves, shuffling cards, swirling tea leaves, or throwing yarrow stalks. Then they try to find meaning in the patterns which have manifested in the chaos. In other words, whenever anyone creates chaos in order to divine, he or she is working with the same kind of spontaneous self-organization which occurs when galaxies form into spirals.

This idea gets more interesting when you realize that the term for this activity is divination. No one has ever called it futurization or mathematicalization--the word used is divination, which just happens to contain the idea of the godhead. This tells me that whenever people have perceived a pattern emerging out of chaos, they regarded it to be a manifestation of Divine energy. And in innumberable creation myths, from the Egyptian Pyramid Texts to Hesoid's Theogony to the Book of Genesis, one thing seems to happen at the beginning of everything: the creation of form out of chaos by the Divine. Creation is simply what the Divine does, as far as countless generations of human beings have been concerned.

Okay, but aren't the preceding statements as evidence-free as claiming that the laws of physics/mathematics are responsible for that nuisance called ectropy? Yes, no question about that. So which theory explains why ectropy happens? Well, since neither hypothesis can be empirically verified, all we can do is pick the one we like best. I will now grant my esteemed reader the freedom to choose why he or she thinks ectropy happens: the laws of physics/mathematics, or the energies of the Divine. Have fun making your choice.

It should be obvious which interpretation I prefer. If you ask me, when a particular manifestation has been interpreted as Divine energy for two or three thousand years, and not just in one but most human cultures, I feel that there is something to it. As far as I'm concerned, when form spontaneously emerges out of chaos, what we perceive is not self-organization--it's Self-organization. Self with a capital S, as an indication of the godhead. We really and truly are perceiving the energies of the Divine.

Nevertheless, I am sure some of my readers are skeptical that it is none other than the Almighty who is arranging those tarot cards or tea leaves into some kind of form. Therefore let us examine what none other than William Shakespeare tells us about divination. On three different occasions in his last plays, Shakespeare gives us an oracular scene where the Divine, as personified by the pagan deities of Apollo, Jupiter, and Diana, gives assistance to the protagonist by telling him either (1) the truth, or (2) how to get out his mess. Leontes is lost in illusion in The Winter's Tale, but Apollo gives him the information he needs to hear, while Jupiter and Diana tell the heroes of Cymbeline and Pericles how to solve their problems.[15] I was once disappointed to realize that when a supreme genius like Shakespeare imagined the Divine speaking, all he could come up with were platitudes about getting out of messes. Why couldn't Shakespeare have the Divine pronounce something interesting, such as the meaning of life or the destiny of the human race? Nope, all we get is how to live happily ever after.

But then I realized something. Two of the main messages I had gotten out of my tarot cards over the years were (1) the truth and (2) how to get out of my messes. And here was William Shakespeare telling me that this is what happens when the Divine speaks. So if you're still wondering what exactly happens when you divine, may I suggest that it's the Divine? When you shuffle and pull those colored pieces of cardboard, you are communicating with nothing less than the Godhead. And believe it or not, the Divine is always willing to help you live a better life every second of your existence. Don't forget that in a universe where everything is equal, you are just as important as the Milky Way. So if you have ever wished that you could see an honest-to-God example of Divine energy in action sometime, why don't you go buy yourself a deck of tarot cards?


* * *


Most people in our secular humanist world will probably reject everything I've said so far. They will most especially want to blow off the four most painful truths I've mentioned about quantum physics: non-solidity, interconnection, circularity, and ectropy. Indeed, the facts of quantum reality have never penetrated the thick human skull to this day. How often do people think of universal interconnection when they're watching the NBA playoffs, or spontaneous self-organization when they're developing a new career matrix, or non-materiality when they've got a toothache, or circularity when they are convinced that new legislation will fix a social problem until the end of time? This holds true even for those people who understand that things seem kind of, well, weird at the quantum level. They might even get an occasional gut feeling about something beyond the everyday reality they are familiar with. But they're not about to let any of that spooky stuff interfere with their career goals or their pursuit of the almighty dollar. As a result, the negative energies that they are putting out means that their problems will start to pile up.

This is something we can see repeatedly in our postmodern mess of a culture. Huge numbers of people in the world today are constantly and quite unwittingly putting out all sorts of what I would consider to be negative energies, but they don't have the slightest clue that they are doing it. You see this most especially in public life, where assorted politicians, journalists, and celebrity wannabes seem to be determined to rack up the most ghastly karma a human being can acquire. But the rest of us do it as well, whenever we rely upon that failure called our best judgment when we make our decisions. How can we ever know if we are behaving as ethically as we can in any given situation? Is it ever possible to tell whether one of our proposed plans of action will actually accomplish what it is supposed to?

More importantly, how can we find happiness in our lives? Happiness is something that we all want, right? Happiness is why we want more money, a decent relationship, a worthwhile education, and numerous other externals. The catch is that what we actually think will make us happy is usually nothing but more cognitive illusion. Countless books have been written about getting happiness, innumerable studies have been made, and thoughtful people have pondered these questions over the centuries--without anyone reaching an adequate answer. Well, me being me, I am convinced that there is only one thing that can make us deluded humans happy, namely the kind of naturally flowing energy which exists in full and complete harmony with the quantum field.

This means that the first and best use of divination is in identifying the kinds of energies you've got within your own field so you can align yourself to this harmony. If you are disrupting the universe with negative energies, there is no way the Vishnu state of your life will be successful, regardless of the size of your bank account. The malevolent energies which you are putting out will rebound upon your own energy field hour after hour, day after day.

Some malevolent energies are worse than others. The negative energies of cold-blooded sociopaths are, needless to say, the ultimate bad vibes. A genuine sociopath who possesses not a trace of remorse, pity, or mercy is the absolute pits as far as positive energy goes. But there are a host of lesser negative energies which the non-sociopaths among us indulge, myself included. I am talking about the kinds of energies which most people consider to be only minor foibles: like overeating on weekends, or indulging in a few luxuries that you don't really need, or telling an occasional fib, or taking some justified revenge. We all do this, right? How can little nothings like these create problems in our lives? Well, if you put out any kind of negative energy into the universe, you are inevitably going to get some kind of payback. And if you keep putting out negative energy week after week, year after year, even those minor little foibles of yours are going to keep adding up until they turn into a colossal karmic whack.

Chances are that without realizing it, you have been wallowing in negative energies for a good many years now. Once again, this is the problem with bad energies: most people are completely unaware that they've got them. I should know. Based upon my extensive experience in dating sociopaths, there is one thing I've learned: these guys always consider themselves to be very decent and responsible members of the human race (it's only the serial killer or the terrorist who's bad). Granted they will lie their heads off and screw anyone they can, but that doesn't count, it's only temporary behavior or something, and not the real them. They sleep well in their beds since it never occurs to them that they are doing anything wrong. So what if their behavior is somewhat less than ethical, they don't have to think about that.

The other problem is that most people enjoy their negative energies so much that they don't have the slightest intention of giving them up. After all, most of us relish getting a chance for revenge upon someone who's hurt us, or making an impulse purchase, or eating that extra donut. Think for a moment about what's making you happy now? Chances are it's some kind of bad energy, as in getting more money or indulging in yet another desire. When your "happiness" is based on these kinds of negative energies, those Cosmic Boomerangs are heading your way whether you like it or not.

But if you can identify the negative energies you've got knocking around in your psyche, and then do something about them, you will start leading a more successful life. So how can you tell what kinds of energies you've got within? That's easy. We now need to examine the various strategies we postmoderns use in order to experience a very noxious four-letter word.



Chapter 3. Welcome to Dragsville USA.


Tomorrow is Dragsville, cats. Tomorrow is a king-sized drag.--Philippa Fallon in High School Confidential (1958).


And what is this noxious four-letter something? It is a state of being about which most of us addled Americans are in constant and desperate pursuit, not that we ever quite obtain it. Our useless striving for it has created the disastrous culture in which we live, which is not exactly a fun place to be. Here in the second decade of the 21st century, we Americans inhabit one gigantic megalopolis called Dragsville, population 300 million and counting. Dragsville is the place where most everyone is chasing after a phantom called . . . good.

That's right: people nowadays have just got to feel good. They make and spend money so they will feel good. They light up the cigarette, watch a chick flick, or devour the cheesecake because they know that they will feel good when they do it. Without any kind of good in their lives, everything is unendurable. In other words, this silly little four-letter sensation is the defining tyrant of our culture. Books have been written telling you how to get it. Websites are devoted to it. Therapists, politicians, and religious honchos promise to deliver it. Millions constantly spend money in an effort to purchase it. Never mind the fact that the sensation of good always starts to wear off the minute you realize you've got it. And also never mind the fact that the ways in which people make themselves feel good are frequently toxic.

I have long felt that the best way to describe humanity's current quest for feelgoodness is through a simple metaphor, that of the inner demon. Most of us go through our lives tormented by one or more inner demons who drive us crazy, destroy our best intentions, and turn us into addicts. That's right, thanks to our demon-inspired crusade for the good, addictive energies infect most of us Americans, up to and including the author of this book, who has recognized for many years now that she is an addictive personality. So are you, if you're a 21st century American. You are an addictive personality even if you have managed to stay clear of all the numerous chemical substances available these days.

What's that? How can you be an addict if you don't drink or smoke? Simple. Just remind yourself of all the things you simply cannot live without. It might be the latest electronic gadgets, or a new car, a stylish house, high-end fashion, new videos, ESPN, or the great triumvirate of American drugs which keeps us peons pacified: alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. If you have absolutely got to have any of these in your life, then you need to see the truth about yourself, that you're an addict. A nation of self-indulgent addicts isn't exactly the dream of America that our Founding Fathers hoped for, but it happens to be our current Dragsville reality. We live in a world where the only thing most people want is more, and more usually means the next feelgood fix.

But--but--getting more of something: more money, more education, more creature comforts, more interesting experiences . . . that is surely a good thing, right? Not if you start thinking in terms of energy. Dedicating your life to the pursuit of the MORE is some of the most destructive energy there is. When the only thing that matters in your life is getting yet another fix, all you're doing with your life is obsessional repetition. You're wasting your energies in the worst possible way. And you're turned yourself into a slave of something outside yourself. This is as malevolent as energy can get.

But for most people indulgence in an addictive substance is the only way they can manage to escape the suffocating emptiness of Dragsville, even if only for a few minutes at a time. After all, addictive substances can deliver what is usually unobtainable in our humdrum lives, a moment of incomparable delight. This is the problem with your substances: they offer you the most blissful kind of feelgoodness you can experience. When you swallow the alcohol or make a new purchase, Dragsville vanishes, and your life shines with a brief moment of such wonderful intensity that you feel as though you've turned into a god.

So what's wrong with wanting occasional moments of something like that? The problem comes when the pursuit of feelgoodness turns into an obsession. Those blissful moments are no longer a matter of choice; they become a compulsion. What's even worse is that there is no such thing as feelgoodness without a hangover. This is the unhappy truth about addictive substances: they always come with some kind of payback. There is no such thing as plain old feelgoodness--it's always feelgoodness followed by hangover. Then it's Dragsville time again, since nothing is more gruesome than a moment when a fix isn't happening.

So what are these inner demons who keep driving us crazy?  Well, there are the hugely popular Chemical Substance Demons, who keep us peons imprisoned in a variety of intoxicants. Also popular are the Junk Food Junkie Devils and the Entertainment Demons, without with millions cannot survive their evenings. Then there are the Creature Comfort Hobgoblins, who keep trying to convince you that you will feel better if you only just buy something, the Codependence Devils, who render you addicted to a human being instead of a chemical, the Clinging Demons, who appear whenever you cannot break free of a bad situation, and the Greed Demons, who are out to persuade you that you will be happy if only you get your hot little hands on more money.  But none of these are as toxic as the following six supercolossal inner demons, who make life a daily hell for millions.

Vanity Demons

The Vanity Demon is that supremely repugnant fiend who takes charge of your being whenever you become addicted to the most wondrous energy form in the universe, namely your very own conceited little self. You're not just another jewel in Indra's Net--you're special! Narcissist Personality Disorder blankets our country everywhere you look these days, as it is bred into the citizenry from over-indulgent parents and an educational system fixated on ideas of self-esteem. Have you ever told yourself that people don't like me because they're jealous or why don't people see how important my work is? Allow me to congratulate you on your rock-solid American narcissism.

Egos egos egos. All I ever see in our American republic are egos. Egos to the right of me, egos to the left, egos before me, behind me, above me, egos at work, egos at play, egos in the government, in the media, in sports, in entertainment, egos everywhere online, posturing egos, grasping egos, self-satisfied egos in pursuit of their substance of choice, egos certain that they are always right and the lesser people are wrong, egos in helpless thrall to a whole galaxy of desires, wanting, forever wanting more money, more luxuries, more travel, more amusement, more excitement, more of everything. Let's face it, one of the major ways people expend energy in our contemporary world is by inventing reasons why they're greater than whomever their self-esteem requires them to label as lesser. Well, never mind that any kind of elitist self-congratulation is always a sign of insecurity and cowardice. Reality tells us that there is nothing but universal equality at the quantum level. People who invent reasons why they are special beings are as out of harmony with quantum energies as it is possible to be.

Masochism Demons

People who are infected with what I call the Masochism Demons present a special kind of nitwit. A good true-blue masochist is usually a person who lives a completely humdrum life but who has discovered a way to make his existence as exciting as possible, namely by finding ways to be miserable. I once heard of a young woman who was desperately, frantically, passionately in love with a guy who treated her like dirt. Our heroine was so wretched about his lack of interest that she attempted suicide. Fortunately she was discovered in time and rushed to the hospital. Her boyfriend was so touched by her emotional excess that he became the most considerate lover in the world, visiting her daily, bringing her chocolate and flowers, and talking about marriage. So the two of them got married and lived happily ever after, right? On the contrary, once her beloved turned into a nice boring guy, our heroine started to lose interest in him. He was no longer supplying the delightful torments, the excitement, the up-and-down frissons which her masochist personality craved. She eventually broke it off with him and went off to pursue yet another sadistic loser, one who could supply her with some brand new thrills, without which she simply could not live. The only way this particular bimbo could get her fix was from constant emotional turmoil.

Being a masochist doesn't necessarily mean that you enjoy getting beat up. Being a masochist means that you are constantly on the prowl for some topic or some experience in your life that will provide you with some interesting misery, and who cares if the price is a bloody nose? You get to wallow in an intense experience for days or weeks at a time until, inevitably, you get bored with it. Then you're off and running to discover a new source of unhappiness, which, needless to say, you are always able to find. People in thrall to their Masochism Demons never want calm seas and clear skies, nor do they have any idea what to do with their time and their energies. They are forever in pursuit of endless and hugely exciting turmoil. They will always do their tidy best to pick fights, keep their emotional wounds open and bleeding, anticipate disaster, or remain in situations where they will be abjectly unhappy.

Groupthink Devils

Next we come to the hugely popular Groupthink Devil, and what pleasant vibes this little fellow provides! Life is always so much more pleasant when birds of a feather enable themselves together. Whenever you find yourself in a sympathetic group of paisanos, the awesomeness you start to feel is colossal. It's no longer just you vs. the evil people out there--it's you and the members of your precious group. The feelgoodness which thereby develops can make you swoon with rapture even more effectively than a triple pistachio gelato.

Needless to say, the group you identify with can be based on any number of ego-gratifying scenarios, as in race, gender, religion, politics, education, ancestry, money, nationality, intelligence, dietary habits, or victimhood. But regardless of the group, you are always certain that it is a very special community of incredible wondrousness, where you can remind yourself every day of your life that you are one of the good people of this earth. It's how you can take a cigarette break without actual cigarettes--you simply inhale a delicious feeling of groupthink whenever you like.

Of course the most special of all groupthinkers are the ones who claim the high ground because of their victimhood. Mind you, you don't have to suffer anything personally to be a part of your wonderfully victimized group--it's perfectly okay if it was one your ancestors, no matter how remote, who got the shaft. This way you can still wallow in some very exciting masochism without having to give up your weekly facials. The catch here is that at one time or another, every single human group which has existed on planet earth has been both victim and victimizer. You cannot find a tribe, nation, or race which has not only victimized an opposing group, but which has also been victimized by some other group. Who are the victims? Who are the victimizers? Why, everybody! Not that your inner Groupthink Devil will allow you to contemplate this awkward fact of human history. If you did, you'd stop being special. And then--why, you're be nothing but a groupless nobody!

One strange peculiarity I've noticed about hardcore groupthinkers is that they always expect other people to jettison their own groupthink illusions and treat them as . . . human beings. In other words, nobody must ever direct energies of discrimination, bigotry, or dehumanization against your own special group, since those kinds of energies are immoral. Never mind that your own special group does it all the time, it's just that other people are never entitled to wallow in their religion, their sexual orientation, or their race the way you do. Groupthink for me but not for thee!

Groupthink also engenders that wonderful something called us-against-them mentality, which is rampant everywhere in our culture these days. Drama and fiction are always based on us-against-them energies. Sports, business, politics, and video games couldn't exist without them. Everywhere you look you see that people simply have to have to have their enemies, if only of the digital variety, or else they're bored stiff. Triumphing over the Vaders, Voldemorts or Volturi feels so very good, after all. Besides, you just know that those rotten bad guys are not connected to you in any way, so they've got it coming. In other words, people in thrall to their Groupthink Devils never perceive the world through the eyes of St. Francis of Assisi or Ramakrishna, but with the kind of uncompromising us-against-them energy to be found in concentration camp guards.

It's time for a reality check here, guys. And Reality means quantum entanglement. Whenever you perceive any kind of group, all you're seeing is illusion. Science tells us that all seven billion of us humans are descended from a single tribe of Homo sapiens which evolved in east Africa some 195,000 years ago. This means that in one way or another, all of us humans are cousins, which is a fact that the racialists, nationalists, and religionists among us constantly forget. When contemporary groupthinkers contemplate their ancestry, they only go back a few measly millennia, to some kind of tribal or national founder, but never to the real beginnings of the human race. This kind of selective historical imagining is also known as stupidity. If you want to obsess about the past, why don't you obsess about its true Reality, namely that the human race is one big family.

P. S. Here I can't help mentioning a group of political zealots in this country who like to refer to themselves as the reality-based community. Well, if ever there were a gargantuan cognitive illusion, this one takes the 99.9999999999999% empty cake. There are no communities in Reality. Nor are there tribes, nations, species, or baseball teams. There is only universal interconnection.

I'm-A-Humanitarian Devils

This is one of the most popular of malevolent American energies, since it knocks both common sense and rational thinking clean out of people's skulls. And what is this energy? That's easy. It is the yearning you have to tell yourself that you are . . . a humanitarian!

That's right! You're a humanitarian! You care about other people, I mean you truly care, and you're fighting the good fight for their benefit! Everything you do, everything you believe in, is dedicated to this one noble goal. You have spent years of your life thinking about the awful misery of those less fortunate than yourself, and you want it to end for them! As soon as possible, too, or at least before you retire to central Florida. So never mind that your humanitarianism shares space in your psyche with groupthink, masochistic thrill-seeking, and hatred. When you are a genuine lover of humanity, you are always perfectly justified in detesting your political opponents since they're nothing but a bunch of loathsome psychos anyway.

It also means that you get to grab every chance you get to advertise your humanitarianism. Not that you have to tattoo the word HUMANITARIAN on your forehead, but you do go through your days prodding friends, family, and co-workers into discussions about your political or religious groupthink, so you can silently telegraph the message that your humanitarianism is making the world a better place. I'm supporting the right candidates or the right religion! Let me tell you one more time about my political/religious beliefs so I can remind myself of my awesomeness! Feelgoodness for me! Feelgoodness!

Hello to more toxic ego gratification. Once upon a time a bunch of political clowns managed to persuade the populace that they were Übermensch, which eventually resulted in a nasty little disaster for all and sundry. But that was nothing compared to what is happening today, when the right politics means that you are a humanitarian. O the rapture of knowing that you're not a racist or an imperialist or a capitalist or a sexist! The desire to see yourself as a person who loves humanity is one of the most stupendously overwhelming ego desires there is. And of course everybody does it these days. Even the vilest and most contemptible of talking heads in our dismal culture see themselves as lovers of humanity. In this they resemble nothing so much as those Marxist commissars who knew perfectly well that they were creating the ultimate in human goodness, the classless society, whenever they put another bullet through yet another brain. O what wonderful feelgoodness you get to experience whenever your I'm-A-Humanitarian Devil reminds you that you just totally love humanity, always excepting those scumbags whom you've identified as your enemies.

Displacement/Projection Devils

We now get to discuss the ever-popular Displacement and Projection Devils. These are two different psychological tendencies which are riddled with cognitive illusion big time. A person who is infected with either a Displacement or a Projection Devil is always easy to identify. He or she will exhibit emotions so ferocious that they make the Atlantic Ocean look like a mud puddle. We all know that that there are plenty of things we encounter as we go through out days which we dislike. That is not unusual. But when a human being despises or adores something so fiercely that their emotions go into an intergalactic supernova, you can bet your sweet Sigmund Freud that they are either displacing or projecting.

Displacement happens when you shift your attention from what truly terrifies you, such as terrorists, criminals, or psychotic dictators, and focus upon the nearest whipping boy available, usually a politician of the party you don't support. The way the British displaced their fear of a certain German clown onto Winston Churchill in the late 1930's is a classic example of this kind of psychological maneuver. In those days it was Churchill who was considered to be the devil incarnate, the war monger who was going to destroy civilization, the fiend from hell who simply had to be stopped.

Here in the United States, Displacement Devils began working overtime after the events of September 11, 2001. How such an atrocity could have happened in our high-tech world was so incomprehensible that millions were not able to deal with it. These people immediately switched their focus from the perpetrators of the crime to their domestic political opponents, who could at least be partially controlled through the democratic process. These politicians were subsequently demonized to the limits of the language.

This kind of emotional derangement continues to this day. Never mind those nasty foreigners--what matters are those obscenely evil fellow citizens of yours who don't vote the way you do. They must be destroyed, or else you will never be safe! This explains why displacers display such gargantuan hysteria whenever someone dares to criticize their politics. This is always seen as a threat to the displacer's own personal safety. Needless to say, displacers go into raging volcanic denial the minute you dare to suggest that what they're doing is blame-shifting, but that is the name of the game.

So much for displacement, but what about projection? Projection is a strategy where you throw aspects of your own personality onto some kind of Other, either (1) someone who seems to possess everything you subconsciously hate about yourself, or (2) a empty screen who seems to embody all the virtues you've persuaded yourself that you possess. The first is by far the most popular. You simply push your self-loathing onto assorted politicians, people with the wrong religion, or people with more cash than you've got . . . the planet is full of sentient beings who can serve as targets for your weaknesses. They're the ones with the horrendous faults like greed or racism, but not you, never you, you're an angel of light and a humanitarian to boot. Unfortunately there have been occasions, as the blood-drenched 20th century proved, when a hardcore self-loather makes it into a position of power and thereupon starts to eliminate those people who just happen to possess everything he hates about himself.

But the projectors among us also delight in throwing out their most cherished beliefs about themselves upon the political figure or the spiritual leader who seems to embody their ideals. This inevitably results in the kind of brain-dead adulation once reserved for fascist or Marxist bigwigs. One would think that by this point in history, reasonable people wouldn't want to turn their favorite politicians or TV preachers into messiahs to be worshipped, but our postmodern American projectors aren't about to let the nuisances of 20th century history deprive them of the feelgoodness involved whenever they can venerate their avatars of choice. Why, it's almost as good as worshipping yourself!

There is one other aspect to projection which operates in our private lives as well, specifically when we indulge in that tedious process called falling in "love". That's right--romantic love is nothing but yet more projection. This was pointed out as long ago as 1964, but it never made much of an impact.[16] Love is projection? This isn't something you want to hear, right? Not in a world where love conquers all, love can make you happy, love makes the world go round, and love is forever. But when you're so crazy about Mr. or Ms. Right that you can't see straight, you're not in love. You're projecting. Try to remember this the next time the great love of your life treats you like a doormat. You also might want to add "romantic love" to your ever-lengthening list of cognitive illusions.

Displacement or projection . . . as usual, they're nothing but pathetic ego-maneuvers, and they are most commonly to be found in those groupthinkers who need buddies to prop themselves up. It is also interesting to see that those egos who are most prone to projection are also the ones most in thrall to displacement as well. We need a new word to describe this delightful duality: how about disproj? Scratch a displacer and you will always find a projector, and when combined into disproj, what you get are the most pitiful personalities in the wide, wide world.

Manipulation Demons

We will now examine the top dog of our inner demons, the hugely popular Manipulation Demon, otherwise known as that poisonous desire for control freakery which can be found even in reasonably sane people. I am aware that trying to discuss our inner Manipulation Demons is going to be a difficult thing to do, since manipulation of one kind or another has always been seen as the universal human remedy when confronted with a problem. Here I will admit that a certain amount of manipulation of our environment is necessary for our survival as a species. We need reliable food, clothing, and shelter in our lives if we want to survive. We also need to live in a society where we can exist in reasonable security. Making our environments as secure as we can is a perfectly reasonable thing to do.

But when the manipulators of this world attempt to tinker with life, consciousness, or self-organizing systems, things always go disastrously wrong. Always. In the 1930's, a group of well-meaning control freaks decided to "manage" the Los Angeles River by imprisoning it in a concrete straightjacket. Predictably it was a complete waste of time and money. Today the water is eroding the concrete which surrounds it and is slowly returning to its natural state. As do all self-organized systems sooner or later, despite our hubristic attempts to "adjust" or "improve" them.

There is a very simple reason why this should be so, namely that we humans will never be capable of anything except a partial understanding of complex systems. It is simply not possible for us mortals to identify or control every last little thing that makes a living body tick or an ecological system to thrive. The desire for this kind of understanding, remember, is nothing but a legacy Newtonian paradigm where there is supposed to be a cause for each effect. But one of the cardinal rules of quantum physics is that of uncertainty. We are never in complete control of anything in our chaotic universe, which means that sooner or later most manipulation paradigms will meet with utter failure.

When I began to read tarot for other people, I was astonished to discover how many people came to me with control questions. They would tell me about a person in their environment, whether child, supervisor, husband, or grandmother, who wasn't behaving the way the querent wanted them to behave. Needless to say, the querent's idea of suitable behavior was, predictably, the only correct way to act. But since efforts to manipulate the person weren't working, they had come to the fortune teller to hear how to do it right. I was expected to provide them with some kind of control freak strategy that would solve the problem. After all, it was only for the lesser person's own good.

For your own good. This is the mantra that those humorless scolds known as control freaks have uttered since the dawn of history. Control freaks will always want you to believe that they don't want to turn the screws on you out of a lust for power. No, they simply want to make you a better person. This especially holds true for parents who are so determined to tyrannize their children that they turn into what the rest of us would call child abusers, a process which has been described by at least one scholar.[17]

Alas, control freakery of all sorts has existed in America from Day One. It would be difficult to point to an era in our history when some kind of group was not expending furious energy to coerce the lesser people into betterness for their own good. Over the years our do-gooders have torn down maypoles, censored books, banned art, outlawed gambling, forbidden miscegenation, and prohibited demon rum. After the Civil War the control freaks of the time decided that nothing less than extreme political action was necessary to keep the drunken bums in their lives sober if it killed them, and this they proceeded to accomplish with the Eighteenth Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1919. People don't pay much attention to the idiocies of Prohibition here in the 21st century, but let us pause for a moment and remember what a great legislative triumph it was for the hard-working progressives who got it enacted. Let us also give a reverent cheer to famed temperance advocate Mrs. Carry A. Nation, she who did not hesitate to raise her flaming hatchet and do battle against that most monstrous of human evils: beer. Our Carry might have been nothing but an attention-whoring buffoon, but she was smart about something. She discovered a way to live a tremendously exciting life, filled with hair-raising adventures, monumental ego gratification, and a ferocious certitude that she was forever in the right. Life doesn't get any better than that. So never mind the fact that she also delivered the republic straight into the arms of organized crime, where it remains to this day.

Here in our postmodern world control freaks are most especially to be found in those types known as Nurse Ratched. In case you haven't heard of her, Nurse Ratched is the ice-water-in-her-veins heroine of Ken Kesey's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962), she who knows perfectly well that shoving other people around is the only thing which makes life worth living. Way back in pre-history, this woman wasn't exactly someone to be emulated, but nowadays, fifty years later, she has become a role model for millions. We live in a culture where the Ratcheds among us are constantly doing their tidy best to make sure that everything is forced, manipulated, organized, disciplined, punished, or otherwise shut up into filing cabinets. And they will keep at it forever since they have no interest in a Carthaginian peace. What the hell would they do with themselves if the lesser people didn't keep providing them with interesting and exciting resistance? That would really be the ultimate in Dragsville. Give me control, or give me death!

We must also remember that the Carries and the Ratcheds of this world are never truly interested in making the world a better place. They are in hot pursuit of one thing only, namely their next feelgood fix. If they can persuade themselves that their manipulation efforts will improve the lesser people's lives, it probably feels more blissful than a jolt of heroin, cocaine, nicotine, and booze combined. This is why they never pay much attention whenever their schemes blow up in their face: they will perhaps blink for a moment and then move right on to the next manipulation paradigm, since of course the entire planet will collapse into . . . well, chaos . . . unless more control freakery is immediately implemented. The fantasy that control makes things better is one of the most toxic cognitive illusion ever to infect the human race. In the meantime, who cares that the rest of us get deprived of what Kerouac calls "the gayety that any respectable American wants in a life growing more arid by the year in Law Ridden America."[18]

You'd think the human race would be over this kind of nonsense by now. After all, it is nothing but a relic of the outmoded Newtonian world view and its fantasy that self-organized systems can be mechanically adjusted. There is no more perfect recipe for social disaster than endless and ever-increasing manipulation. When the control freaks get their way, what gets erected is tyrannical, non-sustainable, and doomed to collapse. These are words which perfectly describe our American republic here in the second decade of the 21st century, which in case you haven't noticed is currently crashing into the mountain.

But you probably don't believe a word of this, right?  You just know that manipulation is good! It always makes things better! This means that you always need to add something, or prescribe something, or do something when there's a problem. Words need to be spoken! Plans have to be made! Action must be taken! Issues must be addressed! Initiatives must be devised! Money has to be spent! Pills need to be swallowed! Diets have to be followed! Workers must be supervised! Kids have to listen! Therapy is necessary! Surgery will fix it! Nature must be tamed! Microorganisms must be sanitized! Education must be administered! Laws have to be passed! Central planning must be implemented! Systems have to be organized! Economies must be stimulated! Business must be regulated! Cronies need to be financed! The Internet has to be censored! War must be waged against poverty or drugs! Randle P. McMurphy must be lobotomized! Unintended consequences? What unintended consequences? I'm a humanitarian!


* * *


Oh, well. Enough of this. I suppose there's no reason to go on with sundry other inner devils such as the Hypocrisy Demon, the Self-Pity Devil, the Selfishness Ogre, the Envy Demon, the Dishonesty Goblin, the ever-popular Hatred Devils. . . Freeing yourself from these ornery little nasties is not a place where most Americans want to go these days, since they just cannot live without the feelgoodness that their inner demons provide. So never mind the fact that the one and only thing your inner demons will ever dish out to you is illusion. Welcome to the world of the weaklings, the losers, and the phonies.

But you don't still care about that, do you? You're not about to let anyone or anything break you free of your inner demons and the delightful little Comfort Zone they have established for you. That's the only way you will ever feel good! And you like feeling good! You've just got to keep feeling good! Life just isn't worth living unless you forever pursue good and more good and more and more and more . . .

Well, here comes a thought which has probably never occurred to you, namely that good just happens to be the world's most uninteresting feeling. Yes, I know that you've spent huge amounts of time and energy in your life pursuing it, but that is only because you never realized how banal a feeling it is. I doubt that the crappiness of good has ever pointed this out to you, but that is only because your parents, your teachers, and those experts whom you trust are as desperately lost in illusion as you are. Good is nothing but a worthless four-letter word which is not worth anyone's time, effort, or attention.

Fortunately it just so happens that a much more delightful sensation exists, which anyone can experience. Not only does this sensation remain constantly with you, it never causes hangovers. And once you get it, you've got it for life. But . . . but . . . what can feel better than good? Ah, heck. You can't expect your author to give the secret away so early in this book, can you? That wouldn't be any fun at all. Besides, even though this precious little something is the simplest thing in the world to acquire, you have to enter into something called Reality before you can experience it.

This means that we must again return to the one thing which can truly convey Reality to us, our oracular tool. Specifically, our oracular tool called tarot. However, we are still not at a point where we can start to talk about the cards--we must now examine a new problem. There is something monumentally wrong about the way most people work with tarot and other oracular tools here in the 21st century. Toxic energies don't exist only in people--they can also exist in the artifacts which people design. The unhappy fact about contemporary card divination is that some tarot decks are filled with such horrendously poisonous energies that they can do you a lot of harm. If you want tarot to work for you as a successful oracle, the first thing you need to do is find yourself a tarot deck which contains nothing but benevolent energy.



Chapter 4. Tarot and Pamela Colman Smith.


The world of imagination is the world of eternity. It is the divine bosom into which we shall go after the death of the vegetated body.--Pamela Colman Smith.


But before we find a tarot deck which is filled with positive energies, we first need to say something about what can loosely be called the "tarot establishment" in 21st century America. The tarot establishment is as insular and as ineffective as most other contemporary groupings in our country, and in my opinion does nothing but hinder a novice diviner from working successfully with tarot. The problem is that not only are most contemporary practitioners of tarot utterly mistaken about the best way to work with the cards, but the sources of their misinformation, those hundreds of books about tarot which have been published in recent years, can only be described as harmful. As far as I can tell, they are all identical clones of each other as they invariably focus on a bit of nonsense called what the cards mean. Their authors suffer under the delusion that the meaning of the cards is the only thing which a novice diviner needs to learn in order to successfully divine with tarot. Well, whoever dreamed this one up had a cabbage in his skull instead of a brain.

We need to understand that trying to explain what an illustration "means" is a Newtonian paradigm if there ever was one. There was once a period in my life when I was determined to understand the meaning of every single syllable I encountered in a poem, or every dab of color I found in a work of art. I eventually realized that this was a complete exercise in futility. There is no way that a work of genius can ever be adequately "explained"--not that people will ever stop trying. Dylan Thomas tells us in his Poetic Manifesto (1961):

You can tear a poem apart to see what makes it technically tick, and say to yourself, when the works are laid out before you, the vowels, the consonants, the rhymes or rhythms, 'Yes, this is it. This is why the poem moves me so. It is because of the craftsmanship.' But you're back again where you began. You're back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps in the works of the poem so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash or thunder in.[19]
Moved by words or moved by an illustration--whenever a work of a genius grabs hold of your guts, you should forget about explanations. They will do nothing but confuse you. This also means that as far as tarot illustrations go, the ones which can be easily interpreted are weak and ineffective. It's always a sure sign that you're dealing with something second-rate when you encounter a work of art which can be "explained".

This problem is compounded with another weakness to be found in all those what-the-cards-mean tarot books: no two tarot explicators ever come up with the same explanation for the same card. When I first started working with tarot, I read every tarot book I could get my hands on, but I eventually realized that I was only growing ever more confused about the tarot holiest of holies: the final and definitive explanation of what-the-cards-mean. I finally ended up purchasing Bill Butler's Dictionary of the Tarot (1975) thinking that it would help. Butler extracted the most pertinent quotes about the meaning of each card from the most successful writers about tarot and then assembled their gems of wisdom in a single book. This idea was almost brilliant. You could see at once how various tarot authorities defined a particular card, and then, presumably, you could finally figure out what-the-cards-meant.

Well, it didn't quite work out like that. The Dictionary of the Tarot does nothing but list hopelessly inconsistent definitions of certain cards. Do you want to learn the definitive meaning of--for example--the Temperance card? No problem.

Butler quotes eighteen tarot geniuses who tell us that, among other things, the card means: mantra, things connected with churches, frugality, vibration as the basis of manifestation, the solar spirit, the post office, the beauty of a firm basis, combination, tent-peg, distillation, purification of the soul, distribution, a foetus, the fish, wrath, the jacinth, and short-term stalemate.[20]

Jeepers. If the most prominent writers on tarot can spout this kind of rubbish about what-a-card-means, then what are the rest of us supposed to do?

I finally realized that trying to figure out what-the-cards-mean is a painful exercise in futility. It is based upon a false assumption, namely that the cards are not sufficient unto themselves but must be accompanied by explanatory words in order to be comprehensible. These are words which you presumably need to memorize in order to successfully divine. Words, words, words. You aren't supposed to be able to work with tarot unless the right words have been drilled into your skull. Well, my experience tells me that there is nothing which blocks successful divinatory energy like a word, particularly a word written by an author out to make a buck.

What's that? How can you practice tarot divination unless you start thinking about what you see in a particular card? Dear reader, you would not be asking this question if you understood something about the difference between the left brain and the right brain of us Homo sapiens. The left side of our brains is concerned with the rational or mathematical side of our being; when we make a critical judgment about something, we are using our left hemisphere. The right side of our brains is concerned more with patterns, music, vision, and dream. Words stimulate the left, while pictures stimulate the right. Logical energies emanate from the left, psychic from the right. While it is a distortion to describe the two halves of the brains in this fashion, the left/right dichotomy does help us to understand how our minds process information. It also tells us that divination is not going to work unless the right side of our brain, the intuitive side, is being stimulated. We don't want to experience something as unhelpful as a thought when we turn over a tarot card--we want an intuitive flash. T.S. Eliot tells us that ". . . genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood,"[21] and so can a tarot flash. The flash is what counts in card divination, that sudden burst of energy which ectropically explodes in your consciousness and which contains both meaning and power. But nothing is going to block your flash like a left-brain word.

All this means that if you want to divine successfully with tarot, you don't need books which explain what-the-cards-mean--you need a tarot deck which can deliver those flashes for all they're worth. This brings us to our next problem: of the thousands of tarot decks knocking around the world today, which one(s) should you choose? Alas, our 21st century tarot world happens to be swamped with thousands of thoroughly rotten decks which will do nothing but harm the minds and the psyches of the people who work with them. They have been designed by artists with the best of intentions, but they exhibit nothing but awkward, inept illustrations, a materialist outlook on life, political agendas, or computer-generated fantasy visions which have no connection to the Reality which constitutes our lives. Worst of all, they exhibit a complete lack of spiritual vision. I have heard that a novice tarot reader should choose a deck which "speaks" to her, but in my opinion nothing could be more disastrous. If you decide that a deck is "speaking" to you, chances are that it will do nothing but enable you.

Why should this be so? Especially since many hundreds of tarot decks can have quite dazzling illustrations? Well, the difficulties come in several ways. First, there is the problem of too muchness in the illustrations. When there are too many visuals in a tarot illustration, you don't get any kind of divinatory flash--you simply lose yourself in the multitude of objects before you eyes. Then there is the problem of image reduction. Artists who design tarot cards do not paint miniatures--they always design fairly large illustrations, which are then photographically reduced when the deck is published. Alas, whenever a work of art is reduced, its vitality is lost--compare an original Velasquez with its reduced illustration in a book if you don't believe me. Finally, too many decks these days have been designed by the complacently self-righteous, and these decks do nothing but give you a gushy world where everything is sweetness and light. If you want to get Truth from your oracle, you need to work with a tool that will show you both positive and negative energies, or else you will never receive worthwhile information from it. The thing to do with toxic energies is identify them and then start dealing with them, not pretending that it's only those idiots with the wrong politics or religion who've got them.

Well, enough about bad tarot decks. Let us now turn our attention to one that works. Once upon a time something unexpected happened to tarot. It landed in the lap of a genius. We will now take a look at an event which occurred in London around 1909, when a genius named Pamela Colman Smith set to work designing a new deck of tarot cards. In my opinion the deck which this genius produced just happens to be the only tarot deck worth using.

Pamela Colman Smith (1878-1951) was born in England to an American father and a Jamaican mother. In her youth she studied under Arthur Wesley Dow and attended the Pratt Institute in New York. One remarkable aspect of Smith's life was that she treasured the African heritage of her mother: her best book is a collection of Jamaican folktales called Annancy Stories (1899), which focus on the folk figure of Anansi the Spider. Seeing as how society in late 19th century Britain and America tended to slam the door on any non-Caucasian, this makes her success all the more extraordinary.

Smith settled permanently in England when she was in her twenties. She initially worked as a book illustrator and then as a theatrical designer with actress Ellen Terry and the Lyceum Theatre group in London. She was apparently quite interested in alternative spirituality--one visitor comments on the statues of "Indian gods" in her studio.[22] After the First World War interest in her work unfortunately declined, and she lived out her life in southwestern England, fighting penury and isolation. By the time of her death in 1951, she had been mostly forgotten, except for her one miraculous accomplishment, the illustrations of her tarot deck.

Some of Smith's letters survive in various libraries, but they don't reveal much about her life. There was an exhibit of her work in New York in 1977, and a commemorative set of her illustrations was published by U.S. Games Systems in 2009. However, no definitive biography of Smith has yet been written. Her contemporaries respected her talents, but her pen-and-ink illustrations were frequently denigrated as time-bound and childish (Smith's nickname was Pixie). That this woman might have been a genius is an idea that most critics will probably reject. Artistic geniuses aren't supposed to produce works that seem sentimental or syrupy, which is how quite a few people regard her tarot deck. Nowadays people tend to dismiss her as a minor talent.

But that was once the fate of William Blake. And once people took a good look at Blake, they realized that they were dealing with a talent of unparalleled brilliance. If you ask me, no one has ever taken a good look at the tarot illustrations which Smith produced and seen them for what they are: masterpieces of profound spiritual vision. I've learned over the years that you can work with these images for decades but still unexpectedly find something new and startling when you turn a card over. This is always a sign of a very remarkable talent. The longer you study these pictures without preconceptions, the more astonishing they become.

The trouble is that it is almost impossible to take a good look at Smith's cards without any preconceptions. The brilliance of her deck is usually credited to the man who hired her to design it, occultist Arthur Edward Waite (1857-1942). As a result, her cards have always been seen as the product of Waite's vision, not Smith's. The fact that Waite predictably wrote a book to explain what-the-cards-mean (The Key to the Tarot, originally published in 1910 and later called The Pictorial Key to the Tarot), has muddied the waters.

Arthur Edward Waite was another expatriate American who lived out his life in Britain. He was a mildly competent poet, a prolific writer on numerous arcane subjects, and a friend and supporter of Evelyn Underhill, whose volume on Mysticism (1914) I consider to be one of the greatest books ever written. The problem with Waite was that he was also an occult-obsessed ego utterly drenched with control freakery of the worst possible kind: magical.

Waite's Pictorial Key to the Tarot is unlike his other books in that it is fairly brief. However, it is as silly as much of the other occult stuff he wrote. What's worse is that this unintentionally funny book has done a lot of damage, not only to the Smith deck but to tarot in general. What we find in this text is Waite's ego on full and resplendent display, especially when he takes potshots at other occultists who have dared to interpret the cards in their own "tawdry" fashion.[23] When Waite does attempt to explain Smith's visuals, he bungles badly, as when he tells us that the Ace of Cups has "four" streams of water pouring out of the cup, instead of the obvious five.[24] It is also painfully clear that most of his verbiage is so addled by his esoteric claptrap that it becomes meaningless, as in the following what-the-cards-mean descriptions:

Wow, what magnificent examples of English prosody. Never mind what-the-cards-mean--what the heck do these statements mean? Boy, what I wouldn't give to hang out in a mystical garden threshold place and eat some weird fruit. Too bad I'm just an illiterate hick who gets irritated by flaccid prose. That means there's no chance of me ever being able to work with tarot successfully, right? Tarnation.

Well, let us give Waite some credit. He did pick Pamela Colman Smith to design a tarot deck, which has benefitted us all. But that's about all we can credit him. My own feeling is that Smith designed her tarot cards not because of, but in spite of, Arthur Edward Waite. Should a pixie lock horns with an anal, the pixie will inevitably emerge triumphant. The illustrations in the Smith tarot are Smith's creation and Smith's alone.

But why are her tarot illustrations the only ones that count? Many commentators complain that Smiths' illustrations are too gossamer, the drawings are childish, the colors are flat, the pen-and-ink illustrations belong in comic books, the figures don't show reality, they're Victorian, they're medieval, they seem to exist in a dream world, and--predictably in our era--they're too patriarchal. In other words, critics of Smith focus upon everything they think is supposed to be in a tarot deck, not what is actually there, nor what Smith was attempting to do with her illustrations.

So what is going on in Smith's deck that makes it special? Let us forget Smith for a moment and examine what kinds of energies are needed to generate a good old ectropic flash.

Beauty.

We will start with the idea of beauty. Like many abstract terms, beauty can never be precisely defined, but we can probably agree that it is connected to ideas of harmony and an indefinable something which gives pleasure. This is the kind of feeling which bursts within you whenever you encounter a perfect rose, or when a mathematical theory feels elegant. In one way or another beauty surrounds us every moment of our lives, and in my opinion, the experience of it is always filled with Divine energy.

So do we find beauty in the Smith deck? As far as I'm concerned we do. We find graceful figures, dazzling landscapes, and wonderful patterns of color, form, and space. Everything about the illustrations seems rhythmically balanced. The figures easily fit into their landscapes as if they truly lived in it. Forget the fact that some of the images are painful or horrible--if you look carefully enough you can still find something wondrously sublime in even the darkest cards, all of whose elegant lines come together with rich spiritual energy. Smith was also smart enough to realize that beauty is most often found in simplicity, so her forms come together with restrained finesse. Too-muchness, in other words, is not a problem in this deck.

The fact that Smith's illustrations are pen-and-ink drawings adds to their impact. When pen-and-ink is the artistic medium, the reduction problem doesn't matter that much. Something is still lost when the image is shrunk, but the forceful black lines of an ink drawing are still able to jump out right at you. Pen-and-ink was Smith's forte, and as a result her illustrations have a power which you don't find in other tarot decks--her images drill right into your brain the minute your retina absorbs them.

Illustrations which are sufficient unto themselves.

You flash most intensely upon an illustration which is complete in itself and needs no explication. In Smith's deck you can see at a glance exactly what is going on in each of her illustrations, including the minor cards. Most tarot decks before Smith showed only the card suit and number on the minor cards, much like the decks of regular playing cards today. This meant that in pre-Smith days, inexperienced tarot readers had to rely upon left-brain energy to identify both the suit and the number when they turned a minor card over. This was probably not a problem for gifted psychics, but less talented readers could only stumble along with what they had once memorized until they became skilled at using the deck. This doesn't happen with the Smith deck. She was not the first tarot artist to put illustrations on the minor cards: the 15th century Sola Busca tarot deck also shows illustrations.[26] Smith was familiar with this deck and based some of her designs on it. Nevertheless, she was the first tarot artist whose illustrations convey instant meaning through an integration of the human figures with the numbers and the symbols of the suit.

Body language.

One of the first things that scalds your eyes when you turn over a Smith card is the body language of the figure which you see. Whether the figure is bent over in sorrow or jumping for joy, you get a wordless jolt the moment you make eye contact with the human forms in Smith's cards. Her genius at conveying meaning through body language must have come from her theatrical experience. One thing you discover when you read her letters is that Smith was theater obsessed: it is all she wants to talk about in the letters which I've been able to examine. She probably spent the happiest days of her life working with Ellen Terry and other performers. All of which means that her tarot deck owes a lot more to the British theatrical tradition than it does to the occult discombobulations of Arthur Edward Waite. Smith designed a deck which is not so much an esoteric artifact but a miniature human theater. And in this theater you discover a whole galaxy of vividly distinct sentient beings, each one of whom comes equipped with an individualized personality. Many tarot illustrators have difficulty differentiating between their characters, but Smith never gives us the same person twice. We see a wide variety of people inhabiting dissimilar environments, doing different things, and thinking original thoughts. These disparate figures seem to be interested in nothing but personifying their particular kind of energy. And yes, most of the time you simply see ordinary people doing ordinary things, but behind that ordinariness is a distinct spiritual vision, just as it is in real life. It is also interesting to see that it is not just the people in Smith's deck who have well-defined personalities--so do the animals. Every animal in Smith's tarot deck is a recognizable character, from the alert cat in the Queen of Wands, to the protective dog in the Fool, to the contented horse in the Sun card. I have always been especially impressed with Smith's horses. Of the ten horses portrayed in this deck, each one is an individualized being who wordlessly communicates meaning to us.

Ambiguity.

It's intriguing to realize that while the body language of Smith's figures instantly conveys meaning, the faces of most of her figures are blank. They seem to be empty of emotion, thought, everything. Of course, in the theater facial expressions matter as much as does the body, but Smith bestows only blankness on the faces of her characters. What's even more interesting is that you frequently cannot figure out whether the figure is a male or a female. In Smith's world men and women are not just equals, they blur into each other. Facial blankness, gender blurring . . . if you ask me, this ambiguity is not accidental--it is both deliberate and brilliant. Smith was smart enough to realize that her cards needed ambiguity as much as clarity. One thing I've noticed over the years is that depending upon the kind of question I'm asking, I project my own feelings into the facial blankness of the figure I turn over. Sometimes they seem happy, sometimes sad, other times they can display dozens of other emotions. When I can sense the emotion of the figure I see, I realize that I've got my answer. I've also learned that some of the figures also change gender on me depending on the kind of question I'm asking. When you go to the cards frequently about your ever-changing issues, you will discover that you can get a variety of different flashes out of any one card.

Color.

There has been one persistent criticism about Smith's deck, specifically that the colors are flat and uninteresting. The inadequacies of color printing in the early 20th century are blamed for the lack of shading and the simplistic effects of the illustrations. All those unnuanced and monotonous colors! How awkward can you get? Smith just couldn't work with color at all, right?

Really? Pen-and-ink drawings with flat colors are nothing but a drag? Stop showing your philistinism, guys. You need to remember what happened to the Western art world in the middle of the 19th century. Until that time, art meant only one thing only: the art of the Renaissance, and more specifically the art of the High Italian Renaissance. This was the only art worth emulating, and emulated it was, so much so that it was institutionalized to death, most especially at the Académie des Beaux-arts in France. Nobody quite realized that nothing would kick the living guts out of an aspiring artist like being told you can't paint unless you can paint like Raphael. All of which explains why Western academicism was completely exhausted by the 19th century.

But then something unexpected happened . . . spontaneously. Artists and designers discovered that there was a very different way of looking at the world which was completely at odds with the academic tradition. Artists in a foreign culture were capable of seeing something besides Giorgione pigments or Rembrandt shadows. That culture was Japan. When Japanese artifacts began to make their way into the Western world during the mid-19th century, people were astounded by the genius in what the Japanese had created, from the ceramics to the fabrics, the furniture, and the astounding woodblock prints. The influence of these woodblock prints has continued nonstop into our postmodern world, where we can still see their traces in what is arguably the most universally popular form of art these days, Japanese manga and anime.

In her excellent analysis of the impact of Japanese art on 19th century Europe: Japan, France, and East-West Aesthetics (2004), Jan Walsh Hokenson summarizes the new "Japanese way of seeing" as "(a) a non-European relation to nature, (b) imaginative activity in the mind, and (c) evanescence and fugitive impressions in art." It was an aesthetics of "simplicity, suggestion, indeterminacy, and impersonality . . . the emphasis [in Japanese art] is no longer on resplendence but on simplicity, purity of line and form, spare vivid contrasting colors, delicacy of method, and suggestion of unstated essence . . . the artwork therefore entails, radically requires, two moments in time, the moment of creation and the moment of affective recreation." In other words, the greatest value of Japanese art was the way it stimulates the viewer's imagination: "the artist's economy of means and radical simplification operate suggestively to provoke, in the viewer, an affective experience--comparable to the artist's at the moment of creation--and an imaginative completion (of the image, locus, motion) in the mind." People who responded to art like this were then able to enter into "a new order of reality."[27]

If you ask me, the qualities that Dr. Hokenson enumerates are also the exact qualities which turn an illustration into a successful divinatory tool. Which brings us back to Pamela Colman Smith. The influence of great Japanese woodblock masters like Utagawa Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai is everywhere in her deck, and most especially in her landscapes: in the conical mountain forms which are derived from Mt. Fuji, the use of diagonal lines to indicate rain, fabric patterns which seem to float over the clothing instead of being integrated with it, wind blowing through black silhouetted trees, waves indicated by serpentine black lines, and even the shape of the benches. All of which means that the simplicity you find in Smith's tarot deck isn't a sign of incompetence--it is a technique which is derived from the Japanese way of seeing. And the "flat" colors in Smith's deck aren't a sign of inexperience or inadequate printing--they are a very effective way to give you a visual jolt. They increase the impact of the image instead of diminishing it.

The meontic.

One thing which very few people notice about Smith's tarot illustrations is that most of them depict some kind of supernatural event. When she designed these cards, I doubt that Smith was consciously aware that she was giving an otherworldly aura to her deck--this was probably how she saw the world, as a theater not just for the natural but for the miraculous as well. In this she was simply following the time-honored meontic interpretation of reality. Meontic refers to the kind of perception which is more "supernatural" than naturalistic. The opposite of meontic is the mimetic, a naturalistic depiction of a place or a event. If you've never heard the term meontic before, you are probably thinking that art or literature has to be grounded in our normal non-spooky reality to be effective, right?

Well, you'd better think again. Envisioning something beyond our "material" world just happens to be how the greatest human geniuses have perceived the universe over the centuries. Allow me to present you with a list of some of the masters who put "supernatural" events or beings into their creative endeavors: Homer, Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Mozart, Goethe, Ovid, Dickens, Byron, Keats, Shelley, Molière, Tolkien, Raphael, Sophocles, Euripides, Aeschylus, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Eliot, Poe, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Spencer, Kalidasa, Lady Murasaki, Cervantes, Cao Xueqin, Wu Cheng'en, the Brontës, Yeats, Rilke, Valery, Schiller, and Baudelaire. So if you ask me, it is the meontic which shows us the true Reality of our universe, not the mimetic.

As for Pixie, she gives us angels, resurrections, miracles, and otherworldly creatures throughout her deck. The King of Cups floats on water, Wands fly through the air, the Moon and the Sun have faces, the World's dancer floats in empty space, giant disembodied hands offer gifts in the Aces, leaves sprout on sticks, and two figures have the symbol of eternity floating above their heads (the Magician and Strength). How very brilliant of our Pixie. And how very Real.

Humor.

Apart from divination, there is another way we humans can experience an ectropic flash, namely by hearing a joke. Yes, believe it or not, the punch line to an effective joke is something which can fill you with sudden illumination, which is otherwise known as getting a burst of Divine energy. And when divination and humor are combined . . . well, that's what you get in Smith's deck. Quite a few of her illustrations just happen to be very funny. Arthur Edward Waite, who never cracked a joke in his life, completely misses the humor in Smith's deck and would probably have gone cold with shock if it had ever been pointed out to him.

O the horror, the horror! Humor! Wit! Fun! Right here in Occult City, where everything esoteric has to be taken with grim seriousness and furious egomaniacal power-tripping. Not just in Occult City, mind you, but also in Religion City, where those endless martyrdoms and religious wars and stuff aren't something to laugh at. I mean, spiritual stuff is, like, you know, a life and death kind of thing and has to be taken seriously, for heaven's sake. Nobody did any laughing during the Inquisition or the Reformation, right? Nope, our religions are always real, real heavy, just all the other heavy stuff in our civilization, including painting and classical music.

Fortunately pixies are much lighter than the rest of us, which is why they keep having fun. Smith puts something clever or witty in practically every one of her illustrations. My favorite Smith joke has got to be the armadillo underneath the King of Pentacles' foot.

Now what in the name of all that's cowboy is a little bit of Texas doing in a medieval European landscape? Some tarot commentators have turned themselves blue trying to explain the momentous significance of the armadillo in this particular card, but if you ask me, the critter can be explained very simply: he is one of Pixie's jokes.

We find numerous other bits of fun in Smith's deck, usually in conjunction with what I like to call the Stupid Idiot Syndrome. A lot of Smith's characters can only be described as Stupid Idiots. They are shown as doing something so supremely moronic that you wonder how they're still breathing. Look at the heroine of the Eight of Swords:

This is a forbidding image: our heroine is tied up, blindfolded, and surrounded by weapons. But when you look closely you see that she is not bound to the swords and could simply walk away from her misery any time she likes. Something that never seems to happen, of course, with a hard-core masochist. Hello, Stupid Idiot.

Then there's the sociopathic hero of the Seven of Swords.

This guy has got a smirk on his face, so you might think he's actually happy about something, but just look at what's he's doing. He's grabbed a whole armful of swords and is trying to run away with them. But Stupid Idiot that he is, he is holding these swords by their blades and points, which is a guaranteed way to cut himself most painfully. The rational way to hold a sword is by its scabbard, but rational is not the way that our hero comes across, to say the least. He's inflicting needless and useless pain upon himself.

We also find a Stupid Idiot in the Four of Pentacles--this halfwit has managed to balance one pentacle on top of his head while he hangs onto three others for dear life.

You'd think he might get tired of this uncomfortable posture after a while, but that doesn't happen when your average Stupid Idiot is possessed of a fully functional Greed Demon. 

Then there is the rider in the Knight of Pentacles card. He is sitting on a motionless horse and obviously doesn't have the slightest desire to urge his animal onwards. The problem here is that this Stupid Idiot has apparently been sitting in this position for so long that his horse has got green leaves growing out of his ears. Leaves in a horse's ears? How many months have you two idiots of you been stuck here, doing nothing?

And now we come to the Chariot. What on earth is going on in this card? I have struggled and struggled with this damn illustration over the years, but so help me, I can't figure it out. The only thing which strikes me as obvious about this card is that no way is it an illustration of a "chariot". Since when is a chariot a block of concrete? That's what Smith gives us, a square of solid rock, with half a human being perched above it. And he's not 100% there, mind you--there is no opening in the block to provide room for his lower extremities. He's just half a human being floating above an immovable monstrosity, with two utterly recalcitrant sphinxes settled in front of him, neither of whom are about to budge for all the catnip in Egypt. This is a chariot?

Well, at least our hero doesn't seem to mind. He (or is it a she?) has got a faint smirk on his face, plus lots of astral energy keeping him content (stars in his hair, half moons on his shoulders). But what this illustration is supposed to mean when you put it all together, I don't have a clue. I've heard people say that the card is telling you to get your chariot moving, but if you ask me not even a thermonuclear explosion would propel this particular setup into mobility. What-what-what-does-this-card-mean? It means that Pamela Colman Smith had the most delicious sense of humor, and all you can do is laugh.

This brings me to the funniest card in the deck, that of the Devil. I have known a few poor frangible souls whose exquisite sensibilities simply cannot deal with this particular card. Well, if you ask me, the Devil in Smith's deck isn't frightening or evil--he is simply the culmination of Smith's ideas about Stupid Idiocy. The so-called devil she gives us is a brilliant example of how to take a frightening image and turn it into something howlingly funny.

Which is obviously what the creature is. Once you take a close look at this card, the first thing you will notice about our "devil" is that he is precariously balanced on some kind of perch. And like all the other Stupid Idiots in the deck, this is something he doesn't have to do if he doesn't want to. But obviously he's exactly where he wants to be. Dear sir--you have forced yourself into one of the most uncomfortable positions possible, and you need to climb down into a more sensible way of being in the world. But that isn't going to happen any time soon, right?

Well, of course not, especially because our Stupid Idiot is not alone--he's got two smaller demons standing beneath him, both of whom have got a chain around their respective necks. But you will observe that our Devil is not bothering to jerk the chains of these creatures, or even paying them attention, so much so that he doesn't notice that he's set the guy's tail on fire. As for the two lesser beings with the chains, it is painfully obvious that neither of them have a brain in their respective heads. Horns yes, but brains--not a chance. They aren't paying attention to their Devil any more than he is paying attention to them. Our heroine is just sort of standing there, while the man is apparently trying to explain something to her with the most obnoxious body language possible. Our hero also doesn't quite seem to be aware that his tail is catching fire. Well, come on, baby, light my fire--but don't hold your breath waiting for me to pay attention.

Our guy also doesn't seem to notice that he can throw off the chain around his neck any time he feels like it. So can she--these chains are loose. And there are no confining prison walls in this card, just a vast empty blackness into which our smaller devils could disappear if they wanted to. But like a certain whatsit squatting above them, they want to stay right where they are. Which is exactly what happens when you've imprisoned yourself in the energies of addiction or obsession, which strikes me as the clear message of this card.

As for the rest of us, all we can do when we pull this card is smile and shake our heads, which is pretty much all we can do with the other Stupid Idiots in Smith's deck as well. This brings me to the point of the jokes in this deck, namely that the humorous just happens to be an integral part of the spiritual. Yes, I know that this statement will raise a lot of hackles, but as far as I'm concerned, laughter is a sign of Divine energy.

I am not alone in this opinion. Some of the most profoundly spiritual people who have ever walked the earth have had quite a delightful sense of humor, including mystical visionaries such as Zhuangzi with his endless Daoist jokes, all those Zen lunatics with their koans, Teresa of Avila and her wisecracks, and G.K. Chesterton, who informed us that "angels can fly because they take themselves lightly."[28] I will grant you that we humans have a knack for inflicting endless horror and pain upon each other, but knowing how to laugh is one of the best ways to survive the inanity known as human civilization.

Room to maneuver.

There is another aspect to Smith's deck which gives it a distinct spiritual vision: there are no dead ends in any of these illustrations. Smith was clear-sighted enough to see that in our spacetime universe, there is no such thing as permanence, let alone permanent entrapment. On every card where Smith portrays some kind of negative energy, she always gives us an escape hatch into a new kind of space.

And what places these are! Has anyone ever noticed how spectacular are Smith's landscapes? In practically every card we see amazing vistas of land, water, and mountains, plus endless skies and far horizons. Smith usually places her horizons low in the illustration, so we get an immense amount of sky and light. In giving us these visions of vastness, Smith seems to be emphasizing that there are endless possibilities for renewal, redemption, and new beginnings in our lives. Talk about the exact opposite of Dragsville. Edgar Allan Poe would have hated the vitality on display in Pixie's landscapes. It might even have knocked him out of his skull into something like sanity.

This sense of potential helps to reinforce the spiritual intensity of the deck. Many artists over the years have painted landscapes not in any kind of naturalistic sense but as revelations of spiritual Reality. In particular, the world of nature as portrayed by Daoist painters, with their mysterious vistas, misty outlines, and incredible verticals, always manages to shine with an otherworldly vision. When you look at a Daoist landscape, you always get a sense of the living consciousness of the earth, as if it were as alive as you are. You can also sense a kinship between the land and the human figures upon it. There have been a few Western artists who have also been able to portray this kind of natural spiritual reality, especially the French Impressionists and the artists of the Hudson River School. These painters were doing much more than illustrating trees, land and sky--they were making Divine energy visible through their use of color and form. As does our Pixie.

Universality.

Whenever you get an unexpected reminder of the interconnectedness of the quantum field, you always get a flash of Divine energy. Smith accomplishes this feat very easily in her deck, which constantly gives us a feeling of unity in variety. You see the pain of isolation in one card only, the Five of Swords, but in the other cards you inevitably see some kind of communion, even in those cards which contain a solitary figure. Now I will admit that the deck is bound by both time and place, that of medieval Europe, but why should this be a weakness? Since in a holographic universe the part is always the whole, one of the best ways to sense the universal is through the particular. Smith's vision of interconnectedness also strikes me as a perfect manifestation of what we now call globalism. This deck was created by an African-American woman who combined Moslem playing cards, Italian triumphs, medieval European costume, Japanese landscapes, and the ancient Greek concept of the four elements to produce nothing less than a harmonious planetary oracle which can work for anyone regardless of race, religion, or ancestry.
 

* * *


So what you find in Smith's deck makes it not only an artistic masterpiece but also makes it the perfect tool to help you flash on Divine energy. Still, I expect that many of my readers are dismissing these words, especially the ones who think that they have been successfully working with an alternate tarot deck over the years. So may I now remind you of one other remarkable fact about Smith's deck? In one way or another, most 20th and 21st century tarot decks are derivations of Smith's original vision. Subsequent artists have taken her images and done their tidy best to make them somehow "better". This has been also been the fate of Shakespeare's plays over the centuries: the hacks have done everything they can to water down, butcher, adapt, redesign, or sentimentalize the original vision, one of the most infamous being Nahum Tate's bestowal of a happy ending on King Lear in 1681.

Smith has had thousands of "improvers" as well, and in my opinion their versions of tarot are something you need to avoid like a Hollywood remake. The problem with the post-Smith tarot decks is that the aim of the artist is very much different from Smith's intention. She wanted to give people a psychic tool which stimulated their spiritual vision; subsequent artists want to be told that they've made Smith's deck more contemporary, or more colorful, or more workable. Artists who fall into this trap never seem to understand exactly what Smith was up to, nor the unquestioned brilliance of her illustrations. All they are after is a pleasant little Vanity Demon ego-boost. If you want to divine successfully with tarot, stick with Pixie.

All right, already. The Smith tarot deck is the only one to use. So what's next? Is it finally time for me to start explaining how to work with this deck? Well, not quite. The next thing we have to examine is what happens in divination. What happens in divination? Why, hasn't that already been explained? What happens when you divine is the Divine--right? All you have to do is create a little chaos in an oracular tool, look for the patterns which have ectropically formed, and then you get valuable information directly from the Center of the Universe. Easy as duck soup.

Ah, if only. It is time for me to relate an interesting story about myself, which will reveal me to be a raving lunatic. And is this going to be a merry little tale.



Chapter 5. Adventures with the Mussolinis.


Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep.
--John Milton, Paradise Lost (1667).


I will start this chapter with a conversation I had about ten years ago, when a friend asked me if my tarot cards had ever let me down. I replied, truthfully, that this had never happened. Not once in all the years I had been working with the cards had I ever got a disastrously wrong answer from my oracle. On the contrary, I had always gotten helpful advice, reliable information, and accurate short-term predictions about the future.

That was my answer about a decade ago. If someone asked me the same question today, my answer would go like this: Yes, the cards did let me down, not just once but repeatedly, over a several year period, and the answers I got from them not only turned my life into a living hell, they also convinced me that there was nothing I could do to change it for the better.

Oh, wow.

But . . . but . . . how could this have happened? Doesn't turning psychic help you to make better decisions and live more successfully? No, not always, not in a universe which contains sentient beings who exist at higher rates of vibration than us "physical" entities.

What am I talking about now? That's easy: human personalities who exist in the spirit instead of the flesh. I have already mentioned my theory that death is nothing but a change in the vibration rates of our energy fields. This means that a human being can exist as both a "solid" as well as a spirit. I will grant you that these are yet more evidence-free assertions. But the experience which I am about to relate has convinced me that our universe is home to entities whose energies vibrate at higher levels than us earth-bound Homo sapiens. Given the circularity of our spacetime universe, chances are that most of us have experienced both the slow and the rapid vibrational phases of existence many times over the centuries. We incarnate into physical reality, learn our lessons during our sojourn upon this earth, pass back into spirit, and eventually again incarnate. This means we are familiar with both the spiritual and the physical phases of existence, even if we come back into the world unable to remember our past lives.

It also means that spiritual beings are present in our earthly reality alongside us "solids", and that if we develop our psychic abilities, we can learn how to communicate with them. I say this as someone whose psychic skills have grown and developed over the years to the point where I can sense non-corporeal sentient beings. That's right--I can pick up on spooks.

The overly cerebral who are reading these words are probably sneering with derision. Does this batshit writer actually think she can persuade us that there are a bunch of phantoms roaming around in this world? Great Caesar's Ghost! We have allowed her to talk about inner demons without complaint, but we naturally assumed that she was speaking metaphorically. Now she wants us to believe that she can see ghosties and ghoulies? She needs to go bump in the night.

Sorry. We are going to continue with this recital whether you like it or not. Besides, you might feel less skeptical when I add that I am not able to see or hear non-corporeal beings. There are psychics among us who possess the ability known as clairvoyance, the ability to see spiritual beings, or clairaudience, the ability to hear them speak. But at this point in human evolution only the tiniest fraction of us seven billion physicals have these skills. I am not one of them: I have neither seen nor heard a spiritual being in my life. So I ask you to suspend your skepticism and hear me out. If nothing else, what follows is going to make an entertaining recital, especially since I eventually discovered that the spirits among us aren't all they're cracked up to be.

The first thing we need to examine is what the heck a spiritual being actually is. Ghosts maybe? Well, it just so happens that belief in ghosts is universal in all human cultures and in all historical periods, including our own. The fact that there has never been a society where people have not sensed some kind of non-corporeal beings tells me that in some way these have been valid perceptions. Chances are that at least some of my readers have had a personal experience of hauntings, poltergeists, or other supernatural events. Or maybe when you were a kid, you enjoyed playing with an "imaginary" friend. And when you remember that people tend to find valid emotional truth in the meontic variety of artistic creation, you must allow that at the back of everyone's mind is a sense that there is more to human existence than the illusion which we call solidity.

So who or what are these spirits? Are they dead human beings? Why are they here? Wouldn't they rather be in heaven instead of floating around on this tiresome third rock from the sun--assuming, of course, that there is such a thing as heaven? Is this what we're in store for when we die? We turn into a ghost who wanders the earth at random? How could this be a rational form of existence?

Well, I have some tentative answers for these questions, but before we get to them, we need to examine another non-corporeal concept which is also universal in human cultures, the idea of a companion spirit or guardian angel. None other than Socrates was convinced that he went through his days accompanied by a guardian spirit. He apparently felt that this spirit was some kind of Divine being, who was not only external to himself but who could give him guidance. At his trial he stated that his spirit was "an oracle or sign which comes to me, and is the divinity which Meletus ridicules in the indictment."[29] Of course, none of this adds up to empirical evidence that Socrates truly did possess a guardian spirit, but it's interesting to see that the father of Western philosophy believed that he did. It's also intriguing that Socrates didn't feel that this spirit was the ghost of a former human being but some kind of entity who was wiser than a human mortal and even connected to the idea of the Godhead.

Socrates was not the only figure in history who picked up on a guardian spirit. Ancient Zoroastrians and Sumerians believed that each person went through life accompanied by some kind of spiritual companion, and the latter built altars to these spirits in their homes. The Romans felt that every man had a genius and every woman a juno: these were considered to be ancestral spirits who watched over their descendants. Belief in guardian spirits has continued into the present day, most usually in the idea of the guardian angel. Here even in our relentlessly secular world, millions of postmoderns are convinced that they are accompanied by a personal angel as they go through their lives.

There have been occasions when a few people have managed to perceive their companion spirits, most frequently during times of crisis. In The Third Man Factor: Surviving the Impossible (2009), John Geiger recounts stories of people who sensed some kind of supernatural being at a moment of extreme peril, whom he calls "the third man". Geiger tells a story of one man who was trapped in the World Trade Center after the attack on 9/11 but who then felt someone or something grab him by the hand and lead him to safety. He was the last to escape the South Tower before it collapsed.[30]

This kind of experience has repeatedly occurred throughout history. At moments of crisis, aviators, polar explorers, divers, soldiers on the battlefield, mountaineers, sailors lost at sea, and astronauts have perceived a helper or a guardian who helps them escape their peril. My guess is that at times of life-threatening stress, some kind of shift occurs in a person's energy field which enables them to pick up on what are usually non-perceptible energies. The person in danger is able to apprehend one aspect of Reality which has probably never occurred to him, that he is never alone.

As for me, about eight or nine years ago I started to perceive signs of spiritual presences in my life, and I was soon convinced that they were very much real. It started when I went to a professional psychic for a consultation. It's true that I like to think of myself as an expert in tarot, but I have learned that an occasional visit to a psychic can be helpful. Once thing I have noticed over the years whenever I consult a professional psychic is that s/he will always start to tell you about your guardian spirits. The first time this happened, I watched in surprise as the psychic focused on the empty space behind my head and then began to tell me what my spirits wanted me to hear. This wasn't what I had expected--I simply wanted to ask about the assorted issues in my life. Instead she was staring at vacant air and apparently listening to inaudible words. "We are never truly alone," she explained. "Our guardian spirits are always with us, and you have three of them." I think this was the first time I realized that I always had companion spirits with me as I went through my days, even though I could neither see nor hear them. I was neither alarmed nor skeptical when I heard this--I liked the idea and found it vaguely comforting.

But in the years that followed I only rarely thought about these spirits. Indeed, the idea that I'm not alone never once came into my head when I took a shower or engaged in a popular activity which I thought was private. I also never bothered to research the phenomenon or try to figure out who or what my guardian spirits were. During these years I also continued to work with tarot, but it never occurred to me to use the cards to communicate with my spiritual companions. Tarot didn't seem to be some kind of telephone line to the non-corporeal. It didn't even seem like a connection to the Divine. It was just a tool to help me decide what to eat, what to buy, and whom to dump.

However, by the time I was in my mid-forties, something odd started happening in my life. I would get jolted out of my sleep during the night, so strongly that I was instantaneously wide awake. I would then toss and turn restlessly for a couple of hours until I finally went back to sleep. I had always enjoyed getting up early to do my chores before leaving for work, but when the jolts started happening I barely had enough time to get my act together, and I started to go through my days feeling cranky and exhausted. I assumed that the interrupted sleep was being caused by menopause. I made this assumption despite the odd fact that I always woke up at exactly the same time every night. Exactly.

So there didn't seem to be anything I could do about the situation except wait until my hormonal adjustments were over and done with. But after it had been going on for about year, I got some unexpected information about the problem. I had gone to see another psychic for a new consultation, and as we talked she announced out of the blue: "Your interrupted sleep is being caused by something spiritual." I asked for an explanation, and she said that my spiritual companions were waking me up every night.

Well, hearing these words was the first reminder I'd had in years that I was going through my life accompanied by companion spirits. However, the idea that they were responsible for my interrupted sleep sounded like nonsense. Why would my spirits, assuming I actually had some, want to wake me out of my sleep? How could they do it? Spirits were airy nothings. It wasn't as though they were capable of sounding an invisible alarm clock next to my head every night, I mean, come on. No, the problem had to be menopause. I didn't say as much to the psychic, however, and the discussion switched to other matters.

But that night something unexpected happened: I slept the whole night through without waking. And for the rest of the week, and then the rest of the month, I slept without waking. This was the first time I had had uninterrupted sleep in over a year. I could only conclude that what the psychic had told me was correct: my guardian spirits had somehow been waking me up. Now that I understood why the jolts were happening, they had stopped inflicting them upon me. Was this ever the most wonderful change in my life! I started sleeping like a rock again as I had always done.

But after a few weeks the wakeups resumed. This time, however, they did not happen every night. I would get a jolt during the night only once or twice a month, and I soon realized that they happened only when the spirits wanted to communicate something to me. They were trying to tell me that they didn't want me to eat something, or do something, or wear something. Once I purchased the most gorgeous chenille sweater, but then I noticed that the spirits were waking me up every time I wore it. So goodbye, sweater. Other times I would get a jolt if I tried a new food which they didn't think was right for me. Once when a former boyfriend called me unexpectedly I got a colossal jolt the following night, which was their way of saying don't even think about it. Thanks guys, but you didn't have to bother--this one I had already figured out. Still, it was nice to know that they had the same opinion of my former Mr. Wonderful as I did.

I quickly learned to welcome the jolts. They meant that I had done something wrong or stupid the day before which I needed to correct. I still had to drag myself out of bed the next morning whenever they happened, but I didn't mind that much. It was good to have some guidance other than my cards about what was going on in my life.

I soon realized that most of the wakeups were about dietary matters, so eventually I worked out a schedule where the spirits could communicate with me according to the following key. If they woke me up at any of the following times, I knew that I needed to:

11:00 add fruit
11:15 add vegetable
11:30 subtract fruit
11:45 subtract vegetable
12:00 add fat
12:15 add meat
12:30 subtract fat
12:45 subtract meat
1:00 add nuts or seeds
1:15 add dairy
1:30 subtract nuts or seeds
1:45 subtract dairy
2:00 add grains or beans
2:15 add other food or drink
2:30 subtract grains or beans
2:45 subtract other food or drink
3:00 add physical object
3:15 add new energy
3:30 subtract physical object
3:45 subtract old energy
This arrangement worked very well. I started getting NO's about common foods like bananas, olives, coconuts, corn, spinach, grapes, chicken, beets, and dairy. YES's came for strawberries, salmon, quinoa, turkey, cabbage, apples, and oranges. I was always careful to follow the advice the spirits gave me, and after a few months I felt better and stronger than I had in years. It seemed like I was eating the healthiest possible diet for the first time in my life.

In this fashion my companion spirits and I lived harmoniously for several years. Even though I could not see or hear them, sometimes when I was alone I did talk to them, and I expressed my gratitude for their care. I also told some of my tarot-reading friends how they were communicating with me, and one of them mentioned that she wished her own spirits could communicate with her like this as well.

This arrangement lasted until about the end of 2008, when I set to work writing a silly little trifle called The Compleat Psychic. At this time everything started to go haywire. The spirits began to wake me up more and more frequently, until by mid-2009 they were waking me up nearly every damn night of the year. In the early days of our arrangement, whenever I figured out what they wanted to tell me thanks to the key I had developed, they would let me sleep for the next few days or even weeks before they felt it necessary to give me a jolt about a new problem. This kind of pattern eventually evaporated. Even when I figured out, for example, what kind of food to subtract from a 1:45 wakeup, the following night they would be after me about a new problem, and I'd have to wrack my brains or work with the cards to figure out what it was.

By 2010 I was a wreck. I was going through every day of my life with burning eyes and an unfocused mind. Even when I managed to get back to sleep after a wakeup, I never experienced the deep REM stage of sleep which comes during your final minutes of sleep and which everyone needs to stay healthy. I tried to keep working on my book, but on many days I was so exhausted and bleary-eyed that I couldn't focus at all. The endless wakeups were aging me, blocking my creative ability, and causing endless physical torment--all of which were much worse than any benefit I might get from a new dietary change.

There was something much worse: whenever I begged the spirits for an occasional night off, right before a day when I had something special planned, they ignored me. I would be blasted out of my sleep as usual, for whatever new reason they had invented, thus ruining an expected day of travel or fun. It wasn't as though I was asking for much: I just wanted an occasional holiday every four or five weeks. But I didn't get it. The wakeups had turned into endless torture, even though by this time in my life I was eating a very limited organic diet and felt fine--except for my constant exhaustion.

The problem was that even with the wakeup key, I always had to guess what the spirits were nagging me about and then use my cards to figure out the problem. This was a process which could take days. But I also knew that this problem could be easily solved if I went to see another clairaudient psychic. The psychics I had consulted in previous years were no longer in my area, but I knew that others were around. It seemed logical that if I could find a new psychic, this person would be able to tell me in plain English what the spirits wanted to communicate to me, and then these endless wakeups would cease. Surely this would be a sensible way to end the problem.

But oddly enough, my tarot cards didn't like the idea. Every time I asked them if I should go to see a new psychic, I received a distinct NO in response. During 2010 I must have asked this question five or six times, but each and every time I got an unequivocal NO. By this point in my life I trusted the cards with my whole heart. They had never once let me down about any important issue in my life. So when they indicated that they did not approve of a new psychic, I accepted their wisdom. I could only conclude that any new psychic I might go to would not have the ability to hear what the spirits wanted to tell me. I had to continue to work with the wakeup key since nothing else would solve the problem.

So my sleepless torment continued throughout 2010 and into 2011. But since stupidity springs eternal within the human breast, I didn't think that the situation would last forever. I was certain that once I finally figured out exactly what the spirits wanted me to eat, uninterrupted sleep would again be mine. After all, these creatures were my guardian spirits. They were in my life to take care of me. That was what guardian spirits do. Right?

Still, it irritated me that they continued to ignore my requests for an occasional night off. Every once in a while I would again ask for a break in the routine, while promising to diligently figure out what the current problem was on the following night. Time after time, these requests were ignored, and I was flabbergasted. I wasn't asking for anything unreasonable. I was doing my best to figure out what they wanted to tell me, and I was following all their recommendations. There was no doubt in my mind that they heard and understood my requests. Why couldn't I have an occasional holiday from the torment? But they just wouldn't let me be, oh no. Talk about ungrateful dead.

Looking back, I don't know why I stood it for so long. The fact that I was perhaps the first person in the history of the human race who was having problems with her companion spirits probably had something to do with it. People who had perceived their spirits over the centuries had always been grateful for the help they received from them. I had also read that at the moment of our death our spirits are there to help us make the transition. This is perhaps why the light which dying people see feels like something they've known their whole lives. They are able to move easily into their new reality since their companion spirits are helping them pass. If I kept getting waked up every night, the problem had to be me instead of them. I was continuing to make dumb choices in my life, and I needed help.

Well, the situation finally fell to pieces in August, 2011 when I wanted to go to the Illinois State Fair. I had been looking forward to the event for several weeks, and I wanted to have a good night's sleep prior to the big day. The night before the event I again asked the spirits to let me sleep the whole night through since I would be out in the hot sun the next day. I had not asked them for a special night off for several months by then, and I stressed how much I wanted to have a happy day on the morrow. For once I knew that they would listen to me. I went to sleep that night feeling happy and confident that my sleep would not be interrupted, and I would have a lot of fun the next day.

By the following evening, when I was seething with fury and wracked by a splitting headache, I told the spirits that I had had it. I explained that I no longer had any incentive to listen to what they were telling me since even when I figured out what a current problem was they were after me about something else again right away. Besides, I was long past the point where the wakeups were helping me--by now they were doing nothing except making my life a hell. I told the spirits I was willing to work with them, but I was not going to be bullied any longer, and especially not about a perfectly reasonable request for a night off. From now on I would designate certain days when they could wake me, but if they defied me I would no longer pay them any attention, and I would also tear up the wakeup key.

Needless to say, the next morning key got itself torn up, and that was that. In the weeks that followed the wakeups continued, but I was past caring. They would have continued anyway. I told myself that I was perfectly justified in my defiance, since trying to appease these bullies had worked as well as appeasing Hitler. Sooner or later they would realize that they had to compromise with me if they wanted me to pay attention to them again. In the meantime, I quickly discovered that ignoring them felt almost as pleasant as getting a whole night's sleep. I started to feel like a free human being again for the first time in years, even though the nightly jolts continued as relentlessly as ever.

I suppose this situation would have gone on forever had not something strange happened. During the initial weeks of my rebellion, I continued to sit down with my tarot cards every evening and ask my usual questions. Eventually, however, I noticed something strange about the cards. No matter what question I asked, all I got were NO responses. This started to happen literally 100% of the time. Even when I asked a simple predictive question about whether I would go to the supermarket tomorrow, I would get a NO response--and this despite the fact that when tomorrow came I would go to the store as I had anticipated and return without incident.

Only after this oddity had gone on for several months did I realize why this was happening. The spirits were retaliating to my defiance of them. They had put some kind of hex on my precious cards. Somehow, in some way, they were able to get me to pull the cards that they wanted me to pull, or at least create the kind of energy field in which an oracular tool would be worthless.

I couldn't believe it at first. How was it possible that they had the power to do this? Wasn't I creating chaos when I shuffled the cards? How could they control that? And even worse: why would they want to? What kind of sentient being would want to block me from oracular information? By this time I had been reading the cards for twenty years and was certain that what I got from them was nothing less than Divine energy. But for the first time in two decades I was being blocked from that which I most treasured. What should I do?

Well, since I wasn't about to go back to appeasing the bullies, the answer was obvious--I had to stop working with the cards. This seemed a perfectly reasonable solution. I reminded myself that lots of people didn't bother with divination yet managed to live successful lives. So why couldn't I turn myself back into a . . . normal American? I had once been a normal American, and I could surely become one again without much difficulty.

Alas, this was easier said than done. I quickly discovered that life without oracular guidance was a nightmare. Without the cards my days were bewildering, and my evenings were empty. For the first time in years I started to feel the temptation of that ultimate American curse: couch potatoitis. For me? Even when I didn't own a couch, let alone a television? And if I succumbed to TV and couch, then what? Doritos? Diet Pepsi? Cosmopolitan magazines? These Kafkaesque visions of horror started to fry in my mind like a blowtorch. How I had once lived as a normal American I could no longer imagine. The thought of going back to that kind of existence was too obscene to contemplate.

One night in early 2012 I couldn't stop myself from shuffling the cards and asking: "Will the cards become clear if I start listening to the spirits again?" The response I received was a distinct YES. This was the first YES I had seen in months, and it made for a nice little moment of stupefaction. But with a sagging feeling I knew that it had to be true. Since my guardian spirits were representatives of the Divine in my life, it had been wrong of me to defy them. I needed to accept that they knew what was best for me and pay attention to them again, or I would never again be able to access Divine energy.

So I caved. I couldn't help myself. It was not possible for me to go on with my life unless I had a workable oracular tool. I recreated the wakeup key, I started to note the time when the spirits woke me up, and I did my best to figure out what they wanted to communicate with their nightly jolts. The cards immediately cleared up, and I again started to get an occasional YES about my schemes or desires. But the strange thing was that I continued to get a distinct NO whenever I asked, as I still occasionally did, whether I should see a new clairaudient psychic.

Weeks went by, then months. I had voluntarily walked back into my prison cell, armed with an oracle to be sure, but I was not happy about it. I continued to be irritated by the fact that I still occasionally asked for a night off, only to be jolted out of my sleep during the night as usual. Nothing I could say or do would stop them from their nightly Blitzkriegs. If nothing else, this continued to infuriate me. But what escape did I have? You cannot strangle the non-corporeal.

This situation continued into the fall of 2012, when for the first time in months I had a special day planned. I was driving to St. Louis the following morning and needed to be alert. So before I went to bed I asked the spirits not to disturb me, just this once, and only because of safety concerns. I reminded them that this was going to be the first time I had driven to St. Louis in ten years, and I needed my sleep. And I added, even though I didn't think it was necessary, "If you wake me up tonight, we're heading into nuclear winter."

Nuclear winter arrived right on schedule the following morning. This time I had absolutely had it. The spirits do anything they liked to me for the rest of my life, but I no longer cared. The wakeup key was destroyed for the last time, and I put the cards away. The amusing thing here is that I continued to work on The Complete Psychic. Somehow it didn't penetrate that someone like me, who could no longer get accurate answers from her oracular tool, was not the best person in the world to tell other people how to do it. I think I still possessed one last frail hope that somehow the situation would eventually work itself out. But as for paying attention to the spirits again, that was never going to happen. And when the time came for me to kick the bucket, they had better not be around when it happened, or were they ever going to regret it.


* * *


Well, in a way I was right. The situation did work itself out, but not as I had anticipated. I should have realized that some of the ideas I was writing about in The Compleat Psychic would provide me with the solution. These were the ideas that nothing lasts forever, manipulation sucks, and Divine energy spontaneously forms out of chaos. By this point there was nothing my life except chaos, but the thought that a solution might spontaneously appear never once entered my head.

In December, 2012 I heard about a new psychic who was giving readings in my community. She was a Peoria-area woman named Buddah Strouse, and people told me that she was an excellent clairaudient. Despite the fact that the cards had always told me NO about seeing a psychic, I decided to consult her. This was the first time in two decades that I was defying the cards, but I had nothing left to lose.

So I scheduled an appointment with Buddah. She proved to be an intelligent and articulate woman who had once had a career as an engineer in the military, which she had jettisoned in order to start working as a professional psychic. She explained that she called herself Buddah when she learned that the "ah" spelling indicates someone who is a truth-seeker and who stands up for injustice. Buddah was able to both see and hear spiritual beings, although when they appeared to her they communicated more by gesture and symbol than with words. This meant that sometimes all she could do was interpret what the spirits were trying to communicate, but for most of her clients this was enough.

This sounded perfectly acceptable to me. I described my wakeup problem to her, including my willingness to work with the spirits as long as I would not be bullied. Buddah then clarified several things to me which she had learned from her own experiences as a psychic. She explained that all the years I had worked with tarot had turned me into what she called "an open channel", which meant that I had become extremely sensitive to the energies of non-corporeal beings. Whenever you work with an oracular tool, you open yourself up to all sorts of energies, both positive and negative, and if you do this for years you become so sensitive to these energies that they can easily disturb you. This was the first time it had occurred to me that my daily use of tarot had created a shift in my energies, but it made sense.

Buddah also told me that she had been born with this kind of openness. When she was a child, she had been so susceptible to the energies of non-corporeal beings that sometimes they could lift her up and throw her against a wall. However, the problem had been solved when she learned how to ask the Archangel Michael for assistance. She recommended that I start doing some shielding techniques and also ask the Archangel Michael to protect the space of my bedroom. She said that she always called in Archangel Michael before a reading with a client to protect the space and make sure that she could link up with the client's energy.

Archangel Michael? I felt disappointment at Buddah's suggestion. It didn't surprise me that she was talking about angels, since most of the other psychics I had consulted over the years had also mentioned angels. But I didn't like having either the word or the concept thrown at me. During the days of my youth I had been a good believer in the Presbyterian version of the Christian religion, but that allegiance had fallen into pieces when I began to study other spiritual traditions in the 1970's.

But Buddah obviously believed in angelic reality, and it sounded like she was giving me a practical solution to my problem. But then she hesitated. She said that one of my spirits "doesn't like me telling you this, but I'm telling you anyway. If you set up boundaries with them, they have to listen to them and abide by them." This was welcome news indeed--apparently I had some kind of right according to Divine law to block the wakeups. I made my notes and left the session feeling certain that now my torments would end. I still intended to set aside particular nights when I would permit the spirits to communicate with me, but I felt confident that their waking me up without my permission was now history.

So on that night and for the next few nights I did what Buddah had suggested. I informed the spirits that I did not give them permission to wake me up during the night, I created an energy shield around my bed, and I asked Archangel Michael to protect me while I slept. And--it worked. For the next ten nights I slept the whole night through without waking. It was heaven. I was getting a full eight hours of sleep for the first time in years. This was especially helpful since at that time in my life, I had returned to my former place of employment for a few weeks of temporary work. With eight perfect hours of sleep a night, I was able to glide through my days feeling bright and rested. There was no doubt in my mind that my spiritual nightmare was over.

So I had to admit that an archangel had come through for me. I also realized that since I knew less than nothing about angels, I needed find out what I could about them. At the library I checked out some of the more recently-published angelology books and took a look at them. However, I was not impressed. The angels on display in contemporary New Age texts come across as creatures of weak intellect who possess all the personality of big warm puppy dogs. This did not strike me as accurate descriptions of these beings, to say the least. Besides, I still had enough residual Protestantism left in me not to want any kind of mediator between me and the Divine, which was obviously what angels were.

But then I started to discover that it was a mistake to think that angels were a strictly Abrahamic phenomenon. The idea that the Divine sends some kind of benevolent winged messenger to the aid of us humans is as universal in human history as the belief in ghosts. It predates Judaism and possibly goes back to the origins of humanity itself. Sumerian carvings of winged beings still survive from five thousand yeas ago, and in ancient Greece it was a winged god, Hermes, who delivered the messages of the Divine to humanity. In Egypt the goddesses Isis and Ma'at were depicted with wings, as were the sphinxes. Ancient Hindus didn't have angels, but they did have similar figures called devas, who were thought to be celestial beings of light. The Buddhists spoke of bodhisattvas, Taoists of heavenly beings, Japanese of tenshi, and Native American of eagles or the corn mother. Here in our postmodern culture, it seemed as though angels were being sensed more and more in all parts of the world.

This I found to be especially interesting, given the fact that the archangels in particular seemed to be quantum figures in the sense of Schrödinger's cat, who could be in more than one state of being at the same time. In other words, the archangels could be everywhere all at once, speak all languages, and personify all races and genders. If every single one of us seven billion physical humans asked the Archangel Michael for assistance at the exact same moment, he would be there personally for each one of us. When St. Francis de Sales, whom nobody thought was a lunatic, tells us to "seek to be familiar with the Angels; learn to realise that they are continually present, although invisible,"[31] . . . he was right. Wasn't I living proof of that? All I had needed for help with my problem was the assistance of the Archangel Michael, and bam! my problem was history.

It's just that it wasn't. My eight hours of heavenly sleep didn't last for two miserable weeks. Without warning the wakeups resumed towards the end of the second week. I was back where I started, getting jolted out of my sleep night after night. Everything that Buddah had recommended turned to dust and ashes, and my belief in the reality of angelic beings evaporated. I was again at the mercy of my companion spirits with no remedy in sight.

But this time something was different. During my session with Buddah I had perceived for the first time what kind of personalities my companion spirits possessed, and I didn't like what I had discovered. When Buddah repeated their words to me, all I had heard was petulance, arrogance, and deceit. The deceit was the biggie. There had been one spirit who knew perfectly well that it was within my power to forbid him from tormenting me, but he had tried to stop Buddah from conveying this information to me. For the first time it began to dawn upon me what was going on with my companion spirits. The wakeups which they had been inflicting upon me for years had never come out of genuine concern for my well-being. The spirits had discovered a way to get an addictive fix, specifically the feeling of delight they could experience whenever they prodded a physical being out of sleep. This was why they could never stop themselves from waking me on the night before a special day--that would have meant going an extra twenty-four hours without shooting up, which never happens with a hardcore junkie. My guardian spirits were as addicted to their substance of choice as all the tedious alcoholics I had known in my physical existence. If you think that a flesh-and-blood addict is a problem, you should try interacting with a non-corporeal one some time. But how could a Divinely-appointed guardian spirit be a junkie? I had no answer. Boy, Socrates never had a problem like this.

Then something else hit me: it had been them coming through my tarot cards, at least since 2009. I had not been getting Divine information from my oracular tool--I had been getting messages from a bunch of power-intoxicated junkies determined to maintain their control freakery. This was why the cards had told me repeatedly not to go see a clairaudient psychic--the spirits were scared I might find a way to prevent them from waking me up. Like all addicts they were determined to go on with their fixes forever.

It was about this time that I started calling the spirits the Mussolinis, since what were they anyway except a bunch of petty bullies? But how had I ever ended up with these creatures in my life? Had I ever agreed to that they could be my companions? If so, I was obviously as skilled at picking a companion spirit as I was at choosing a potential partner. But even if the Mussolinis were in my life by my own choice, didn't I have any rights in this situation? Why weren't they obeying my commands not to be woken in the night, as one of them had acknowledged was within my power? Even worse: apparently all the stuff I had dreamed up about ectropy was just a silly fantasy. Form spontaneously emerging out of chaos wasn't how Divine energy worked. Oh, no--Divine energy meant that you were saddled with a bunch of sadistic bullies whether you liked it or not, and if you turned yourself into an open channel with an oracular tool, you found yourself in a living hell. If this was how the Almighty was running the universe, it was being operated as efficiently as the Department of Health and Human Services.

It was also at this time that I finally realized that I could no longer continue writing The Compleat Psychic. There was no way I could write a book telling other people how to work with an oracular tool if there was any chance they would end up like me, in thrall to the machinations of malicious spiritual beings. Besides, if the Mussolinis could hex my cards, they were probably hexing the book as well. I made a vow to the earth and the stars that I would not go back to work on the book again until the Mussolinis were out of my life. If this meant that I would eventually succumb to Doritos and Pepsi, so be it. There were worse fates. Maybe.

There was one other thing I could do--I could go back to see Buddah and get some new answers. So I made another appointment and sat back down with her a few weeks later. I was all set with a slew of brand new questions, when to my astonishment she announced that I had now acquired a fourth companion spirit. O was this ever a wonderful thing to hear! Three Mussolinis weren't enough--somebody had decided to saddle me with a fourth. I could only conclude that when I had stopped writing the book, I had turned into a really really bad girl who needed some stronger bullying, and only, of course, for my own good.

But then Buddah explained something I had not anticipated: this new spirit was not a guardian which had been assigned to me, but some kind of mischievous human ghost who had just latched onto me. Apparently an open channel like myself was a very attractive kind of entity to the poltergeists among us. This was why the new spook was here--it wanted to have some fun, and what better way for a spirit to have fun than by getting a reaction out of a physical being? Well, given the fact that I had been working in an office again during the preceding few weeks, this made sense. For the first time in years I was spending hours each day in a public environment, so it was not surprising that a new Mussolini had discovered me.

Here I must digress for a moment and say something about my professional career, such as it was. I spent most of my working life pushing useless paper at a public university, an experience which has left me with limitless contempt for (1) American higher education, (2) government bureaucracy, and (3) public-sector unions. Working as civil service peon was not how I wanted to live out my life, but it was another of my ghastly pre-tarot mistakes. So it did not surprise me to discover that my place of employment doubled as a hangout joint for malicious spirits. The only surprise was that I had acquired only one new one, instead of several dozen.

Buddah then explained that of my three original Mussolinis, only one of them was some kind of designated Divine companion. The other two had also been wandering human ghosts who had latched onto me over the years, as the fourth had recently done. She explained that unlike a companion spirit, these beings are the spirits of humans who once possessed physical incarnation but who remained on earth after death instead of crossing over into a new plane of reality. Apparently if you're afraid you're going to hell once you die, or if you are too hopelessly attached to your earthly existence, you balk at the thought of leaving earth's physical reality when you pass, and you elect to stick around right where you are.

I tried to imagine what it must be like for these spirits to remain on earth as non-corporeal beings. Of course they could wander the world at will, watch the Super Bowl without having to pay for it, and hang around the people they're still obsessed with. It's just that there's no more eating, drinking, video games, creature comforts, productive work, or sex. All this means, I suppose, that life as a wandering spirit can be as big a Dragsville as we physicals know, especially if you leave the flesh still in thrall to your various addictions.

But if you can latch onto a vulnerable physical being from whom you can get a reaction, which is otherwise known as being a poltergeist, you get to wallow in lots of fun-filled excitement. I had never paid much attention to poltergeist stories over the years, nor to those accounts of people who conjured up malicious spirits when they messed with an Ouija board. Still, this was obviously what had happened to me. It also explained why my Mussolinis were still in thrall to their assorted addictions. They were spirits who had dragged their bad habits along with them when they died. The greatest spiritual sages have told us that we need to release our attachments to earthly things when we pass into spirit, or else we will continue to be saddled with our negative energies in our new reality. This is the reason why Catholic and Orthodox priests administer the last rites to the dying--the idea is to wipe the soul clean. This had always struck me as a helpful thing to do, although I didn't think you necessarily needed a priest to facilitate it.

Well, okay--that explained what was going on, but not how to end it. Fortunately Buddah now suggested a new solution to my problem. She explained that there was a ritual I could perform which would propel my tormentors into that place where they didn't want to be, out of our earthly reality and into a different plane of being. There were several steps to this ritual. I first needed to ask Archangel Michael for help to solve this problem and give him permission to help me. Then I needed to envision a stairway leading upwards into the sky with a door at the top of the stairs. Next I would imagine myself climbing these imaginary stairs until I reached the door and opened it. Finally I would ask Archangel Michael to push my tormentors through the opening. Once he did it, I would mentally close the door and imagine it disappearing into nothingness. Buddah told me that if I did as she suggested, the problem would be over.

Well, I again tried to hide my disappointment. During the preceding weeks, I had asked the Archangel Michael, in whom I still didn't quite believe, to protect me from my nightly torments, but the Blitzkriegs had continued without surcease. Whoever or whatever Michael was, he must have had better things to do, such as rewriting Catholic dogma or something. There didn't seem to be much likelihood of him handing me a miracle, especially since miracles are few and far between in postmodern America. Still, Buddah seemed convinced that this would work. She even reported that my Mussolinis had started yelling at her as she told me about it. That was encouraging. Well, I had nothing to lose, so I decided to give it a try.

So on the night of February 11, 2013, I did it. I asked for and gave permission for the angels to help me, closed my eyes, and then envisioned the stairway. I imagined myself climbing upwards into the stars, opening the door, and then standing there high above the earth with the imaginary door wide open. For some moments I remained motionless, holding out my hand as it clutched a non-existent door handle and feeling like the world's biggest idiot.

But then something happened. Not that it was something I could see, since my eyes were closed, but all of a sudden I felt several whooshes rushing past me as if blasts of air were zapping through the room. But the windows were closed, and the room was perfectly still. Nevertheless, the sensation that something had happened was very vivid, and I froze with astonishment. I waited for a few seconds more, and when it seemed like the whooshes were over, I closed the imaginary door and made it go poof. I opened my eyes to see nothing except my ordinary and very empty living room. I neither saw nor heard anything unusual.

But then my whole body began to shiver as if I had just jumped into an icy pool of water. Every square inch of my skin was tingling, not with an unpleasant sensation, but in a way that I had never felt before. It also felt as though something which had been clawing at me had been pried off my chest. I sat down in a state of utter astonishment, hardly able to breathe, and waited for the shivering to wear off, which it did after about ninety seconds. I had returned to normal, but I could tell that some kind of energy shift had indeed taken place.

Merciful heavens, the miracle had happened! The Archangel Michael had come through for me as Buddah said he would! The Mussolinis were gone! I had actually felt them being zapped through the imaginary door! I now believed! Yes, I truly believed! The angels were real, and they would help you if you asked them! My spiritual soap opera was finally at an end. So the only thing left to do was live happily ever after.

Which I did thankfully, gratefully, joyfully for the next two sleep-blessed nights--until the wakeups resumed as usual on the third night after the "miracle".


* * *


Ah, the delights of life after you experience a genuine angelic intervention in your life! Complete with whooshes, shivers, prying loose of invisible critters, and other marvelous side effects! How do you feel when you get an experiential validation that a miracle has happened, only to have everything collapse into the same old torture a few nights later? Why, you go through your days beside yourself with fury at the Heavenly Host and the con artists who comprise it. Some angels they were. Pow! Pow! Pow! Night after night I started getting the wakeup jolts again as usual, exactly as I had gotten them for the previous several years.

Still, I was convinced that something had happened the night of the stairway miracle. And I remembered that during my first interview with Buddah one of the Mussolinis had said that it was within my power to forbid them to wake me up, so every night before I went to bed I announced into the emptiness:

As of this moment in time, I do not give permission to any spiritual being to wake me out of my sleep between now and the rising of the sun tomorrow morning. Repeat: I do not allow it. Repeat: I forbid it. Archangel Michael, I give you permission to enforce this prohibition.
It was a useless exercise in futility. The Mussolinis continued to indulge in their nightly joyrides as if these words were not being spoken. As for the Archangel Michael, he continued to sit on his hands. The only change I noticed was that maybe, just maybe, the nightly jolts were a little weaker. But that wasn't saying much.

There was nothing to do except schedule another appointment with Buddah, which I did two weeks later. And when I sat down with her again, the first thing she told me, to my surprise, was that I now had only one spirit left in my life. The other three were gone. So the whooshes and the shivers I had felt on 2/11/13 had indeed been real. The Archangel Michael had removed three of my tormentors from my life--but not the fourth, who was continuing to wake me up. Why why why?

Buddah explained that my fourth remaining spirit had been with me most of my life, and unlike the others he was my designated companion spirit. She added that many lifetimes ago he had been my twin brother when we were both priests dedicated to a tribal sun god. Buddah said that he did not understand what he had been doing to me, nor did he realize that I was now a woman instead of a man. She suggested that if he and I had a talk, he would voluntarily leave my life.

So as politely as I could I explained to him that I could no longer tolerate the nightly wakeups he was inflicting upon me. I also told him that I did not have the slightest intention of completing my book as long as he was in my life, so I asked him to voluntarily leave. Buddah conveyed that he understood what I was saying. And then she told me the words that I desperately wanted to hear: he was agreeing to go. Sweet relief flowed through me, and for the third time I left the session feeling certain that my problem would be solved.

Now here comes and interesting question: guess what happened that very night? And the nights that followed? I should have remembered that the only energy coming out of this particular fraternal being was deceit, plus a furious determination to maintain his power position. A few nights later I did the stairway exorcism again, but no whooshes and no shivers were perceptible. The angels weren't willing to shove him through the door any more than he was willing to voluntarily take his leave. I was back where I started.

So what next? Go back to see Buddah again? She had apparently exhausted her suggestions and couldn't help me further. Nor could the angels. Everything else I had tried was no help--I had attempted shielding, blocking, forbidding, exorcising, prayer, charms, crystals, and protective talismans. Nothing had helped. This last spirit was my designated companion, so I was stuck with him. This meant, of course, that The Compleat Psychic was kaput. I told myself that the only thing left to do was forget it all and go buy a television. Maybe sooner or later I would learn to like Reality TV.

But there was still a part of me which refused to accept defeat. I had long been convinced that there was a way out of everything. And I suddenly realized that what I had been doing in this mess was trying to manipulate myself out of it, so no wonder I had failed. Well, how do you escape what seems to be a hopeless an entrapment without manipulation? Couldn't any of the energy laws I had devised help me? It occurred to me that if I started throwing blessings and forgiveness at Brother Mussolini, it might help. In an interconnected universe, he might realize that when he tormented me he was only tormenting himself. But even as the thought entered my head, I knew it would not work. This creature lived for one thing only--to get a reaction out of me. Every time he got my attention, he had his fix. It was true that someday he would get his inevitable Cosmic Boomerang, but I wasn't too eager to wait several more decades for that to happen.

These dismal thoughts left me very depressed until I remembered that I had another angel in my life, and a human one at that. This was a being who had been one of my guiding lights ever since the days of my misbegotten youth, when I had taken his teachings to heart. I am of course referring to that great American bodhisattva, that giant of American letters, that superb interpreter of human reality who was right about everything (almost). Yes, I mean none other that the great Ralph Waldo Emerson. If there was anyone who could get me out of my mess, it had to be him.

I know, I know. You've never been too impressed with the great Waldo, if only because your eyes tend to glaze over when you try to decipher his prose. Still, along with Henry David Thoreau and Walt Whitman, the Sage of Concord has always been one of my luminaries. One nice thing about Emerson is that he liked angels. He had even written a poem about one of them, the archangel Uriel, whom he portrays as a nicely quantum figure.[32] And I hadn't forgotten the one thing that Emerson hits you over the head with time and again: when you find yourself trapped in a dead anything, you need to break free of it and move into new space and freedom. This is something which gothic writers like H. P. Lovecraft never quite figured out. "No man can come near me but through my act," Emerson tells us in Self-Reliance(1841)[33], which means that Cthulhu can only shove you around if you let him. In one way or another, I realized that this was what I had been doing with my remaining Mussolini.

I also remembered that Buddah had told me that malicious spirits had been able to torment her as a child only because she believed that they actually did have power over her. When she had realized that she was not helpless in the face of her tormentors, the problem had stopped. Well, perhaps this was my weakness. I had to find a way out of my fears. Granted I had always felt helpless against my tormentors, but perhaps that was just another illusion.

So I got my confidence back. I started to wonder what Waldo would do to get rid of a Mussolini and soon decided upon the first step: I needed to emotionally detach from this situation, cut my losses, and focus on new space and freedom. Since I had already done this to some extent, it was easy enough to accomplish. It then occurred to me that somewhere along the line I might have entered into a legal agreement which allowed Brother Mussolini into my life, which would explain why the angels had not shoved him through the door with his fellow addicts. If this were true, why couldn't I simply declare the agreement to be null and void? Buddah had stressed that there was one great Divine law, that of free will, which was why you always had to give the angels permission to help you when you asked them for assistance. Well, if one Divine law existed, there were probably others. Surely I had the right to terminate a relationship if I wanted to, regardless whether it was with a physical or spiritual being.

I also realized that I could take back all the energy I had been throwing at him over the years, which was obviously something he had been thriving on. This is how the heroine of that superb triumph of American cinema called A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) defeats the monster who is terrorizing her neighborhood. Do you suffer under the delusion that there is nothing of value to be found in legacy slasher movies? You should take a look at the famous Nightmare. In this film our heroine Nancy has to contend with a monster named Freddy, who may or may not be a spirit. She does everything she can to destroy him, including setting several intricate booby traps, none of which eventually works. But then she remembers something that her boyfriend, who is none other than a seventeen-year-old Johnny Depp, calls "the Balinese way of dreaming." He tells her that if you meet a monster in your dreams, "instead of screaming and getting all nuts" at him, you simply have to turn your back on him, and he's toast. So the next time Nancy encounters Freddy, she tells him: "I take back every bit of energy I ever gave you; you're nothing, you're shit." And it works. He disappears into the void.

What a perfect Emersonian solution! If anything would work, this would be it! So I devised a new proclamation to recite every evening before I climbed into bed:

This is a message for my companion spirit. As of this moment in time I no longer give you permission to be in my life, my consciousness, my house, or my environment. If ever I gave you permission to be in my life I now declare that agreement to be null and void. And I take back all the energy I've given to you--it's my energy and I can do what I please with it. I do not give you or any spiritual being permission to wake me out of my sleep between this moment in time and the rising of the sun tomorrow morning, nor for any day or night for the rest of my life. I sever the connection between you and me from this moment back to the beginning of time and into the endless future. I sever it, I sever it, I sever it.
When I recited the last two sentences, I did what is called an energy uncording. This is a shamanic technique which helps you to cut the invisible links of energy which might exist between you and another being whom you want out of your life. You uncord the energy links by imagining some kind of cord or chain coming out of each of your chakras and which are also attached to the chakras of the other person. You then unhook the cords from your energy field and make them vanish. If you do this frequently enough, you will be able to break the residual connections which might still exist between you and the person you want to forget.

So at the end of my recital I did the uncording, but not by unhooking the energy connection from my chakras. I wanted something more violent, so I used a butcher knife from the kitchen. Every time I uttered the word sever, I sliced through the invisible cords one by one. And . . . the first night I did the severance nothing happened. The second night I felt a shiver as I recited the words, as if someone were trying to stop me, but the wakeup happened again that night as usual. The third night was yet another wakeup. Still I persisted. And on the fourth night--no shiver and no wakeup. Ditto for the fifth night, the sixth, the seventh and the eighth. Another week went by without wakeups, and then another. I realized that I had done it. The last of the Mussolinis was history.

And in the weeks and months which followed, I got my sleep, my blessed sleep, my deep REM sleep, night after beautiful night. When I went to see Buddah again, she confirmed that I had a new companion spirit, a nice young gentleman named Peter who bowed courteously when he introduced himself to me (if only I had been able to see it!), and who told me that he was in my life because I needed to get out more and have some fun. Well, I promised to do what I could, even though my number one priority was getting back to writing a certain book.


* * *


So much for the Mussolinis. It is now time to examine the lessons learned from this experience and how they impact the practice of oracular consultation. Here we go:

Each of us goes through our life with a designated companion spirit.

We are never truly alone in this world. Before we are born, we agree that a certain sentient being will be our companion spirit during our upcoming incarnation, and this spirit is with us every second of our physical life. He or she is probably a former family member or someone to whom we were attached in a previous existence. I suspect that over the centuries, not only have most of us humans repeatedly passed in and out of physical incarnation, we have at one time or another been a companion spirit to a sentient being about whom we care deeply.

Each of us goes through our lives not only with a companion spirit, but with guardian angels as well.

Buddah explained to me that our guardian angels are what the Christian tradition calls the archangels, beings such as Gabriel, Raphael, or Michael. They are friends who will come to your assistance if you ask them to do so. If nothing else, just knowing that you are going through your days with Michael or Raphael beside you can shift you into a new kind of reality.

As a citizen of the universe, you have rights.

There are Divine laws in place which can help us physicals if we need it. The laws I have figured out go like this:

Permission is necessary.

The last law in the above list was (and is) something which I find troubling. You can beg the Divine or the angels for assistance every second of your life, but they aren't going to lift a finger to help you unless you also specifically give them permission to do so. During all the long years when my tormentors had turned my life into hell, not once did my guardian angels lift a finger to assist me. Well, I can see now that this was only because I never realized that I had to give them permission to do so. Okay, all right.

The problem here is that the crucial bit of information about giving permission has never been recorded in any sacred scripture I have ever encountered, and I have encountered quite a few. Mystics don't mention it, nor do theologians, nor any religious organization with which I am familiar. All those thinkers who have agonized about the presence of evil in human civilization over the centuries were right about one thing--evil is the price humanity has to pay for free will. But it has never occurred to a single philosopher, educator, theologian, or sage in human history that giving permission for Divine intervention could help ameliorate or even stop the problem of evil. Why haven't people known about the permission part of the equation over the centuries? Especially when they have obviously been picking up on winged messengers from the Divine for millennia? Over the centuries billions of prayers for assistance have gone to the Divine, but how many of those supplicants have realized that they also had to give permission if they wanted Divine assistance? Not very many, to be sure.

But even if people had known about the permission side of it, would that have stopped all the atrocities which human beings have inflicted on each other over the centuries? More specifically, if a certain president had asked for and given permission to the Archangel Michael to protect him when he attended a performance at Ford's Theater in 1865, would that have stopped the bullet? If the children getting shoved into the gas chambers had given their guardian angels permission to help, would they have been saved?

Well, I have no answers to these questions, and I doubt that anyone does. What matters is that at least some of the time angelic assistance can happen. I was living proof of that. And in a world where more and more people are beginning to understand that the angels can help them if they do give the necessary permission, this might mean that in the future the human depravity rate might start to diminish. It isn't everything, but it is something. If you ask an angel for and give him/her permission to help you, chances are that s/he will come through for you.

Self-reliance matters.

Buddah gave me as much help as she could, but my problem was finally solved when I figured things out by myself. I have always believed that self-reliance should be everyone's first recourse when confronted with a difficulty. You don't want to spend every day of your life bugging anyone else, including your angels, about problems which you are able to solve yourself. So take another look at Emerson's Self-Reliance. Then reread it until you've practically got it memorized. You'll be glad you did.

Sometimes it pays to watch Johnny Depp movies.

Gotcha.

The misadventures I experienced aren't going to happen to novices.

A novice diviner should not be afraid of the adventures which I have described in this chapter. If nothing else, your own guardian spirit, and I guarantee you've got one, is unlikely to be a power-addicted bully. But if as the years go on you start to sense that things are going wrong with your divination, or that you are able to sense some kind of negative energy around you, the problem might be caused either by your companion spirit or by other malevolent spirits. You will know for sure what kinds of energies the spirit(s) around you are putting out by consulting your oracular tool.


* * *


The worst part of the events I have described in this chapter was the discovery that it had been a deceitful bunch of power junkies who had been coming through my tarot cards. My torment would not have gone on as long as it did if my cards had not insisted, repeatedly, that I needed to stay clear of clairaudient psychics. I trusted those cards, and I spent several extra years in hell.

When it was finally over, I couldn't help wondering what had happened in the fifteen years or so before the wakeup problems started, when I thought I was getting valuable advice from my cards. Buddha was of the opinion that the cards only started to go wrong for me when I began to write about a certain little something called ectropy. She felt that my interest in chaos had somehow created a shift in my energy field, which the Mussolinis were able to take advantage of. Well, this explanation made sense, and it was eventually confirmed by the cards when I resumed reading them. Which I now do again all the time. Buddah has also taught me that there is a guaranteed way to insure that only the energies of the Divine come through your oracular tool, regardless of what tool you use. If you adhere to the following steps before you sit down with your oracle, it will do precisely what it is supposed to do, convey to you the energies of the Divine:

Pick a good astrological time for your reading.

This first rule probably won't apply to novices, but as you grow more psychically sensitive, you will discover that your cards aren't clear unless you read them only at those times when the moon's energies are clear. In other words, you should never consult an oracle when the moon is in the astrological phase called void of course. Most of the time the moon's energies mingle with the energies of a particular astrological constellation as they flow down to earth, and when this happens, its energies are benevolent. But when the moon moves out of the constellation there is a period of time called a void of course during which its energies go askew. Astrologers tell us never to sign a contract during a void of course, nor start a new project. To this I would add never consult an oracular tool. The cards are always scrambled for me at these times and may be for you as well. There are plenty of sites on the internet where you can check to see what days and times the moon is in a void.[34]

Pick a quiet space and time for your reading.

You always need to make sure that the area in which you will do your reading is quiet and free of distractions. In other words, don't try to consult an oracle with the television blaring, or when you're messing with the computer, or talking on the phone. I've also learned never to read the cards at the office or when my head is spinning. Experience tells me that the evenings are the best time to consult an oracle, especially during the twilights when energies are settling. In the Homeric poems, the gods would usually appear in the twilight, perhaps because Divine energies are most easily perceptible to us humans at this time. Of course, there will be occasions when you cannot wait for an evening reading. I always carry around a miniature tarot deck for those times when I need an answer when I'm out in the world. I usually get an accurate answer at these times, but I've learned never to ask a question of major importance unless I'm at home and the energies are settled. 

Recite your favorite prayer or mantra.

Before you touch the cards, you need to bring sacred energy into your space by reciting a favorite prayer or mantra. This helps to knock you out of spacetime reality, if only for a moment. Since I have long believed that the more Sanskrit (i.e., rta) words you speak in your life, the better, I recite Gayatri Mantra before each reading:
Om bhur bhuvah svah
tat-savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah pracodayat.
This is one of the most popular Sanskrit mantras and can be translated as: "May we attain that excellent glory of Savitar the god: So may he stimulate our prayers."[35]

Set the intent of your reading.

After you clear the space, you need to announce what you wish to accomplish when you consult your oracular tool. This is easy enough to do, since in my opinion your intent must at all times and under all circumstances be one thing only: the greatest good of the universe. In other words, you shouldn't think about yourself alone when you start asking questions of your oracle--you've also got to consider how your desires or plans of action will affect the other jewels in Indra's Net. Like it or not, there is a chance that the kind of information you wish to access might send out some kind of negative energy to another sentient being. Now that you realize the kind of karmic nastiness you will incur if and when this happens, this isn't something you want to do.

It will be observed that the phrase "the greatest good of the universe" contains a certain four-letter word of which I am not very fond. Fortunately there is an alternative term which I like much better: summum bonum. This expression was used by the Roman writer Cicero,[36] and it will be used for the remainder of this book.

Ask the Archangel Michael to protect the space of your reading.

The last thing you need to do before your reading is ask the Archangel Michael to protect your space. It is only with his protection that you will be able to prevent malicious spirits from coming through your oracular tool. You can do this by reciting the following words:
The intent of this reading is the summum bonum. I ask Archangel Michael to protect the space of this reading, and I give him permission to do so. I only give permission for angels or the Divine to give me information through these cards, and I thank them for the information which I will receive.


* * *


The above steps are all it takes to guarantee that Divine energy will come through your oracular tool. My own cards have been crystal clear ever since I started following them. But one more thing needs to be mentioned. Something unexpected started happening to me when I resumed working with the cards. I started seeing angels. Literally. That is to say, I repeatedly began to pull one of the three angel cards in the Smith deck: the Lovers, Temperance, and Judgement.

Whenever I do a reading these days, sooner or later one or more of these cards will start appearing, not just once but several times, no matter what questions I ask. They are a sign to me that during the reading, I am truly receiving Divine energy. I expect that most other people who preface their oracular consultations with the above steps will also start pulling the angel cards repeatedly as well. If you don't see them when you work with the cards, or if everything seems muddled, something about the energies of your reading is off, and you need to try again at a different time.

Whew! Thank goodness all this is over! It is now time to proceed to our next topic: how we can devise the best possible questions to put to an oracle. This issue is as critical as anything else we have discussed and is a topic which is going to take several more chapters.



Chapter 6. Question Preliminaries.


Judge of a man by his questions rather than by his answers.--Voltaire


Believe it or not, the kind of question you ask your oracle can matter much more than the answer you receive. This means that the more carefully you frame your oracular questions, the better. Don't believe me? Well, over the years I have known tarot practitioners who were as screwed up as any human beings I have ever met in my life. These were people who consulted the cards about everything in their lives, so much so that they lived and breathed nothing but tarot. But year after year they remained stuck in emotional turmoil about people and relationships, their lack of self-awareness was stupendous, and they went through their lives without making the slightest effort to change. Not that they ever noticed any of their negative energies. They were convinced that they were always doing everything right, thanks to tarot. But the cards weren't doing anything for them except perpetuating their weaknesses.

Wait a minute. People who work with oracular tools aren't supposed to be like that, right? Well, not quite. An oracular tool can be as badly misused as any other human tool. Divinatory skill can make for a more successful life, but you need something more than oracular smarts if you want that success. Are you aware of what happened in Greece in the year 383 BCE? One beautiful day the Oracle of Delphi was destroyed in an earthquake. That's right, the most famous oracular temple in antiquity got itself flattened. What's interesting about this historical fact is that the resident pythoness of the time didn't see it coming. How's that? If you're the most celebrated seer in your culture, aren't you supposed to know something about the future? Especially when everything on your home ground is about to be destroyed? I guess so . . . but still, the upheaval apparently took everyone by surprise.

There have been other examples in history of oracles not doing anyone the slightest bit of good. I have always considered the Chinese Yi Jing to be the most powerful oracle ever devised. On the other hand, when you look at Chinese history, you've got to wonder how helpful the Yi Jing has been in Chinese civilization over the centuries. The history of that country is one of unrelieved brutality, bloodshed, and political tyranny, which continues to the present day thanks to Beijing's current crew of unelected Marxist despots. One of my theories about divination is that it can help you live a more successful life. Well, if any people have been skilled at divination over the centuries, it has to be the Chinese. Nevertheless, their oracular expertise has never helped the culture as a whole develop any sense of human rights or democracy. How can you have a workable oracular tool on the one hand but relentless tyranny on the other?

The answer is simple: if you don't know how to ask the right kind of question of your oracle, you will get nowhere fast. So we are now going to examine some suggestions about formulating helpful oracular queries:

Try to get at the truth of your issue before you consult your oracle.

This is the first and most important thing you need to do, and it's not as difficult as you might think. There are ways in which even the most cognitively-addled among us can find Truth outside of divination, as follows:  

Make your questions confirmational.

The next thing to understand is that the best kind of oracular questions are confirmational. In other words, before you sit down with your oracle, you should first examine your issues as dispassionately as you can and then decide upon what you logically conclude to be the best interpretation. The necessity of preliminary thinking cannot be stressed enough: you should first think things through, do research if you have to, or talk to people whom you trust. Once you have determined what you believe to be the truth about your situation or a potential plan of action, only then do you go to your oracle to see if it confirms your conclusion. This means that you should try to frame most of your oracular queries as follows: With a confirmational format like this, you will then be able to get what is the most easily decipherable oracular response: a YES or a NO. So instead of asking your oracle, "Which option should I choose, A or B?", you would ask: "I've concluded that Option A is the best course of action for me. Am I correct?" The answer you receive will usually be very clear. "You conquer fate by thought," says Thoreau.[40] Bulls-eye.

Focus on what you want.

When you create your confirmational question, you should always frame it so that a YES response will be the answer that you want. For example, if you ask about something which you don't want to happen and then pull several negative energy cards, you probably won't understand what you are seeing. Are the cards commenting upon the energies of the situation (it's a bad one), or are they advising you not do something? Neither interpretation will seem convincing.

So if you want to ask your oracle if your boyfriend is lying to you, which is something you desperately hope is not happening, you don't frame your question as: "I have concluded that Zack is lying to me. Am I correct?" Instead you ask: "I've concluded that Zack is telling me the truth. Am I correct?" With the second question, if you pull negative cards, the answer will be crystal clear: no, he's not. Pulling positive cards would also be clear: Zack is telling you the truth.

The question you ask an oracle should concern your own energies.

If you like, you can ask your oracle about everything under the sun, including koala bears in Australia. But whether you will get accurate answers to questions like these is a different matter. This means that you will get the best responses from your oracle when you specifically focus on your own life issues. This is usually what you're curious about anyway. It is also reasonable to ask questions about the energies of other people around you. But one thing you will probably discover as you become more experienced with an oracle is that it is most accurate when you ask questions only about yourself.

You should never ask a question of an oracle unless you're certain you can deal with a disappointing response.

Whenever people consult an oracle, they only want to hear positive news. This yearning is as true for novices as it is for experienced diviners--I personally never sit down with the cards without hoping that they will approve my latest ideas. The nice thing here is that most people's futures are positive. They might not get everything they want out of life, but chances are that no unexpected disaster will occur during their existence. And reasonable personal goals can usually be met.

But what on earth are you supposed to do if your oracle tells you that something you've got your heart set upon is never going to happen? Suppose that someday you very much want to have children. You are hoping for two successful pregnancies and two healthy babies. What's wrong with asking an oracle (or a professional psychic for that matter) if this will happen? Surely things will be easier for you at this point in your life if you know that your desire to be a mother will eventually be fulfilled.

Your oracle/psychic might tell you that it isn't going to happen, that's what. And then what are you supposed to do? The negative answer you get for a question like this can easily ruin years of your life, even if it eventually proves false.

I have already mentioned one universal fact about oracles, namely that they are not always correct. And there are also times when a reader does not interpret the answer correctly. I cannot count how many occasions there have been in my life when I was certain that I was understanding the response I was getting from my cards, only to have the expected result not materialize. When I went back and reexamined the cards I had pulled, I realized that the problem was my interpretation, not the cards. I wanted something so much that I misread them. This is something which can happen to anyone, even to the most gifted psychic.

So if you very much want to be a mother some day, or if you're curious about any other kind of desire which means a great deal to you, don't ever think about asking an oracle/psychic if it will happen. The last thing you need to have in your head as you're being wheeled into the delivery room is that damn psychic who told you five years ago that you'd never have children. You also don't want to read the cards before a court appearance, a heavy date, or a job interview. You shouldn't even ask an innocuous question like "how should I best handle the interview?" prior to the actual interview. If you pull only negative cards as a response, you won't be able to stop yourself from thinking that somehow this negativity is going to manifest in your interview. You will walk into the interview feeling tense and worried. A negative oracular pronouncement can sometimes turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.

On the other hand, there is no harm in asking about your prospects for getting the job after the interview or other event is over. This would be preferred to waiting days or weeks to hear if you're going to be hired.

Concentrate on one issue at a time.

Don't ever sit down with an oracle and ask about conflicting desires, such as how you can relocate to the Sun Belt as well as find a new man in your life. After all, it might be difficult to maintain a new relationship if you move a thousand miles away. If you have a lot of conflicting desires at a particular point in your life, what you need to do is make a list, prioritize them as best you can, and then ask your oracle if you have correctly ranked them according to their importance. Your oracle will help you determine what matters most to you at this time in your life, and you can take it from there.

Keep things reasonable.

It should be a self-evident truth that you cannot ask an oracle to help you achieve something which is wildly out of reach in your current existence. So don't bother to ask how you can escape your job and move to Maui. Don't ask for the perfect Alpha male. Most important of all, don't think that if you bug your oracle long enough and hard enough, it will tell you how to fulfill every last damn desire you possess. Having it all has never happened to any sentient being in the history of the universe, and it isn't going to happen to you.

Don't play games with your oracle.

You need to treat your oracle with respect, as you would with any venerable sage. This means that you don't want to waste its time or play silly games with it, such as asking it whether you should break into Ft. Knox next Saturday. You also don't want to bug your oracle with trivialities. There have been too many times in my life when I ask the cards yet another nuisance question, only to discover that they responded with honey, I don't give a shit what you do. Alas, this was something I needed to see.

Avoid three toxic divinatory issues.

My own experience as a professional psychic has shown me that there are three main issues about which people want answers, and each one of them is stuffed to the gills with toxic energy. These are questions about (1) love, (2) manipulation, and (3) money. That's right--these three demon-driven obsessions will do nothing but make you miserable when you desire them and blow up in your face if you actually get them.

What the hell is she saying now? I know I'd be happy if someone loved me! My life will finally start working when I can get my kids to listen to me! When I finally get a raise, I'll be out of debt at last--and I can buy the new Jacuzzi! What else is there to ask an oracle about anyway?

Yes, I know--chances are that you're reading this book so you can get your hands on MORE of one of the above, right? Oh, stop it with the cognitive illusions already. We now need to examine why these three topics are so noxious. It is now time for you to grit your teeth and force your eyeballs to focus on the following.

Love

Countless single people have gone to fortune tellers over the centuries for help with one desire only: finding the right mate. Maybe one of those tall, dark, and handsome men with money who've been promised to the Misses Lonelyhearts of this world by any fortune teller worth her crystals. There are surely enough of these guys to go around, right? Well, if you ask me, you should never waste your time asking an oracle whether the right partner will come into your life. Or even worse: you should never ask how you can make the right partner come into your life. If you are currently unhappy about your solitary existence, what you need to do is start thinking about the kinds of changes you could make in your energies which would attract a good mate. Here you need to remember that you can never falsify your energies. If you have been going out on dates telegraphing energies of dependence or vanity, it's no wonder that you're still single. On the other hand, if you start radiating out more positive energies like serenity or gratitude, your chances of finding a good mate will increase exponentially. The catch is that you've actually got to have those positive energies within you since they cannot be faked. The thing to do is ditch the negative and bring in the positive. How this can be accomplished will be discussed in due course.

Manipulation

I have already mentioned that when I first began to read cards professionally, a majority of clients came to me with control questions. They would tell me about a person in their environment who wasn't behaving the way they were supposed to: husband was drinking too much, mother wouldn't stop nagging, boss was a bitch, or kid was sulking. Ah, those people in our lives who just won't listen to our superior wisdom! Whatever can we do to change them for the better? Why, we go to a professional psychic, of course, she who can tell us how to bring them under our beneficent thumb, that's how! And so to an oracle the control freaks of this world have gone, presumably for the past several millennia.

Well, I've got some news for the Nurse Ratcheds of this world: oracles hate manipulation questions as much as they hate any other demon-inspired illusion. Manipulation questions are always filled with vanity, lust for power, and bullying. They are also an exercise in futility. As should be obvious now, there is simply no way to bring any kind of self-organized energy field under any kind of artificial control, up to and including those self-organized fields called human beings. Not that this hasn't been tried from time immemorial, and not that the manipulators of this earth will ever stop attempting it. But the more practical among us should realize by now that the only thing they will end up with if they try it is that nasty little payback called unintended consequences.

Now I will acknowledge that sometimes, through tremendous effort and energy, you can get somebody to change his or her wicked ways--at least for a while. But there is no guarantee that the change will be permanent. Control freaks should also remember that manipulation energies always contain an insult. When you try to force another human being to behave differently, you are silently informing him that he's too stupid or incompetent to make his own decisions about his life. I've often noticed that the manipulators of this world are always astounded when the lesser people resist their benevolent wisdom. What else happens when you spew forth negative energy of the most odious kind? Well, there are better ways than control freakery to improve the world, which is another subject to be discussed.

Money

Well, hello there, Mr. Greed Demon. It's about time we started to talk about you. Forget the love and forget the manipulation. What most people want an oracle to hand them is very simple: more money. Have you ever wondered why the diviners of this world are not called lovetellers or manipulationtellers? No, they are known to all and sundry as fortunetellers, and what is fortune but money?

But what's wrong if I want just a little bit more money? It surely wouldn't hurt if I do some trivial spending, right? What is the good of consulting an oracle if it can't help me in something as inoffensive as this? Also there's nothing wrong with being a millionaire by the age of thirty! I just gotta have money! I just gotta!

Well, one of the biggest cognitive illusions ever indulged in by the human race goes like this: I know I'd be happier if I had more money. This piece of hooey has probably around since money was invented. I myself suffered from it myself when I was younger and stupider. Unfortunately the vast majority of earth's seven billion human beings continue to subscribe to it as if it were some kind of Divine revelation, which it isn't. It doesn't even come close.

I expect that these words are falling upon stone ears. Greed, alas, is the driving force in the lives of millions of people in our world today. People are only rarely interested in discovering spiritual reality or even becoming a better human being. They just want more money! They just know that they cannot start living until their equity goes into overdrive!

Here comes another personal anecdote. I had a co-worker who became very interested in me once he learned that I read tarot cards. He would stop by my office ever few weeks to chat about one thing and one thing only, namely how my cards could help him win the lottery. I kept explaining to him that the cards didn't work like that, and that he'd never seen a headline proclaiming PSYCHIC WINS LOTTERY, or PSYCHIC PURCHASES FORTY-ROOM MANSION IN PALM SPRINGS. Nothing I said ever quite penetrated. He was certain that something spooky like tarot could give him the extra edge he needed to get his hands on a winning ticket. At which time, so his premise went, he would find the ultimate in American happiness, a seven or eight figure bank account. Alas, he needed to remember that when you do see a headline about a psychic, what you usually see is PSYCHIC UNDER INVESTIGATION FOR FRAUD.

But you don't want to hear this, do you? Now that you understand how an oracle can benefit your life, you're bound and determined to start asking how-can-I-get-more-money questions right this very second. My friend, it is now time for you to start understanding something which you've never bothered about in your life: the energies of money. Like all other "physical" manifestations in our spacetime universe, money is a form of energy and nothing else but. We now need to examine the kind of illusions people have about their dollar bills. As usual, these are nothing but my own theories, which you can take or leave as you please.

Money is always neutral energy.

Illusion:

Any kind of money you get your hands on, whether from wages, inheritance, lotteries, gifts, investment, interest, or even robbery, is always the same. Also there is never a connection between the energies of your money and the stuff you spend it on. You will luxuriate in a Balenciaga original regardless of whether you paid for it out of your salary or your most recent heist.

Reality:

The only way any kind of positivity happens in money is when you earn it through the expenditure of your own personal energies. The natural movement of energy always depends upon some kind of reciprocal balance, remember, and this especially holds true for the energies of money. If you get your hands on money without expending any effort for it, all you will be doing, in Abraham Lincoln's damning words about antebellum slave owners, is "wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces."[41] Of all the bad energy strategies ever devised by deluded humanity, the worst is getting something for nothing, and especially when that something is money.

This means that there is no such thing as a bank robber who gets away with it, even if he is never apprehended. Emerson rightly tells us that "the thief steals from himself."[42] If you ever get your hands on any kind of unearned money, you will soon discover that all aspects of your existence are off-kilter. The negative energies of this money will go into every "physical" object you acquire: the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the house you live in--and nothing about your life will ever feel right. This explains why things usually go disastrously wrong for lottery winners. They have acquired money which other people's efforts have created, and their eagerly anticipated happily ever after doesn't happen.

Good management of your money will make it magically increase.

Illusion:

If you make the right investments and keep your finances organized, more money will somehow just start appearing in your life, and this money will be as good for you as the money you lawfully earn. So it's a good idea for you to spend hours each week tracking your expenditures, monitoring the stock market, searching out bargains, clipping coupons, or otherwise conjuring ever more cash out of ever more cold thin air, which is something that anyone can do.

Reality:

Spontaneous self-organization happens all the time in our chaotic self-universe, but never with that energy called money. Any kind of manipulation paradigm designed to produce equity out of airy nothing is an exercise in futility.

Trying to earn as much money as you can is a good thing.

Illusion:

How can there be something wrong with wanting a little financial security? It's only common sense, and it's the American way.

Reality:

There is a profound difference between wanting financial security and lusting after zillions of dollars. The first desire, that of equity, is perfectly reasonable. On the other hand, wanting piles of greenbacks in order to spend and spend and spend inevitably adds up to a demon-driven disaster. And if you're curious about how much money is enough, let me give you a celebrated Biblical quote: "give me neither poverty nor riches" (Proverbs 30:8). That's the kind of financial reality you should strive for: middleness. Yes, you are entitled to reasonable financial security, but if you want luxury, what you need is inner luxury, as in mental tranquility, instead of expensive stuff.

It is possible to purchase positive energy with money.

Illusion:

In other words, no matter what it is, we can buy it. Everything has a price, up to and including health, enlightenment, good karma, a youthful appearance, and salvation. And now that we understand that there is such a thing as positive as opposed to negative energy, we are certain that we can purchase it, too.

Reality:

It always amuses me whenever I notice someone attempting to purchase positive energy with their money. One way people do it, of course, is by giving to charity. There is nothing wrong with giving money to your favorite charities; indeed, this can be an act of great positive value. But problems come when your acts of charity convince you that you are only thinking about other people instead of wallowing in an ego-bolstering maneuver. The latter is the modern version of medieval papal indulgences: you're purchasing nothing but a fraudulent illusion which won't help you in the slightest. There is plenty of positive energy to be had by everyone, but Reality tells us that you can't buy it, not even at an outlet mall.

Intelligent people never spend money on anything unless it's worth it.

Illusion:

It's only the stupid idiots among us who throw their money away on useless crap or assorted scams. But the educated and the successful are much too smart to make dumb purchases. They always spend their money as wisely as they can, and their portfolios prove it.

Reality:

Some of the ultimate stupidities in this county can be observed whenever you observe a self-indulgent American try to spend his or her money intelligently. The problem is that most of us stand defenseless against a stupendous juggernaut which is constantly coming at us 24/7, Madison Avenue marketing, the countless ways in which we lesser people are encouraged to spend and spend: money we have, money we don't have, money we might have someday, it all has to go for the new gadget, the cappuccino, the next vacation, the platinum fountain pen. Madison Avenue has convinced millions that life isn't worth living unless your money flies out of your hands the second you touch it. And the more expensive something is, the more likely your self-esteem will prod you into believing that you will be smart if you purchase it. Well, not quite.

Once you get enough money, you will be satisfied.

Illusion:

You just need a reasonable amount of equity, or a sufficient high end salary, and you'll be satisfied. And you'll never ask for more again.

Reality:

If your equity matters that much to you, no matter how much of it you have, you will never be satisfied. The Romans had a saying: qui multum habet, plus cupito, which roughly translates as "the more you have, the more you want." When you go through life constantly throttled by an inner Greed Demon, there is never enough. A desire for that all-important MORE is hardwired into the species, and it's there within you, too.

It's okay to spend money you haven't yet earned.

Illusion:

Credit is the backbone of our prosperous fiscal reality and has made our society the triumphant commercial utopia it so obvious is. This means that it's always okay to buy stuff on credit since you always know that you'll be able to pay your bills in the future.

Reality:

Once upon a time, way back in pre-history, there existed a charming little notion that you should earn your money before you spent it. Needless to say, this bit of old-fashioned common sense has evaporated into nothingness these days. Here in the 21st century we Americans are slaves to credit, mortgages, and all other aspects of the corrosive financing which is currently rendering our economy bankrupt. American society is based on the premise that you can obtain whatever you want the exact microsecond you want it, thanks to a pleasant little swindle called finance charges. The fact that these little charges multiply the actual purchase price exponentially doesn't count. The only reality people ever notice is their monthly bills.

Well, living out your life in constant debt is as toxic as energy can get. If you go into debt early in life, chances are that you will probably end up paying more of your lifelong salary in finance charges than for basics like food, clothing, and shelter. And you might eventually kick the bucket while still in the red, which is as bad as a Cosmic Boomerang can get. Debt never creates happiness. It will fill all aspects of your energy field with limitless toxic energy.

Money makes life interesting.

Illusion:

Money means you get to buy cool stuff! You get to go wherever you please and have adventures! You get to have great sex--or at least you will as soon as you make it to Club Med! Why, without any money, there would be nothing at all in your life! And the more money you have, the happier you're going to be. Everyone knows that the wisest sages over the centuries have unanimously agreed that there is only one thing that can make you happy: money!

Reality:

Money engenders Dragsville even more quickly than the desire for feelgoodness. In my highly prejudiced opinion, money will forever be boring. It gets in the way of living intensely, of the natural movement of universal energies, of expanded vision, and of creativity. Says Henry Miller: "Strange as it may seem today to say, the aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware."[43] Try buying some of that the next time you've got some extra cash. Lots of luck.

And what about the author of this book and her money?

Here comes an interesting question: do I practice what I preach? Is my equity free from negative energies? Well, is my face red. Have I ever had a mortgage? Guilty. Do my savings collect interest? Guilty. Have I ever invested in stock? Guilty. Do I use credit cards? Guilty (well, sort of, since I pay the debt off at the end of every month). Have I ever purchased something I very much wanted and then had to make payments since I didn't have the cash? Guilty. Do I pick up pennies? Guilty. So, as far as my own money is concerned, I'm no saint. I doubt that anyone is. Still, I have never suffered the kind of endless financial problems which I've continually observed in friends and relations. Indeed, the only time in my life I never seemed to have enough money was when I was a homeowner with a mortgage. At all other times in my life there always seemed to be plenty of money despite my minuscule salary. All I had to do was avoid the scam known as finance charges.

But the heck with all this. Forget the damn money. Forget asking an oracle how you can get your hands on more of it. There is more to life than the almighty dollar. Fortunately, once you start working with an oracle, you will quickly discover that it hates everything about your inner Greed Demon and the ego-gratification he so insistently demands. There are more liberating ways to live.
 

* * *


So much for the preliminary steps in formulating a good oracular question. But there is obviously much more to discuss. We next need to examine how to formulate more specific questions to put to our oracle. These questions come in two varieties: internal and external. We will first examine how to ask an oracle about the kinds of energies we have within us, which is also known as self-examination.



Chapter 7. Self-Examination Questions.


Know thyself: to what depths of vain, egocentric brooding has that dictum led!--Norman Douglas, Old Calabria (1915).


It is an unhappy fact of history that willful self-blindness has always been one of the defining characteristics of the human race. This holds true even for classical antiquity, when the idea of gnothi seauton or know thyself was widespread. These words greeted all comers to the Oracle of Delphi, and thoughtful people in those days, particularly Stoics and Epicureans, took time every day to examine themselves.[44] People in other cultures have done it as well: the Vedic Upanishads speak of atmanam vidhi, which also translates as know thyself, while Moslems practice muhasaba, the exercise of self-reflection. Some kind of self-examination was also recommended by both Catholics and Protestants during the Christian centuries.

Nevertheless, one can only wonder how frequently people have been able to see themselves with accuracy. One of Ben Franklin's more memorable aphorisms occurs in Poor Richard's Almanack (1732-1758): "There are three Things extremely hard, Steel, a Diamond, and to know one's self."[45] Chances are that the readers of this book actually think that they do know themselves. They are aware of both their strengths and weaknesses and feel confident in trusting their own judgment. This is something I once felt about myself. When I studied Emerson for the first time as a teenager, I was completely convinced by his exhortation to "trust thyself: every heart vibrates to that iron string".[46] Yes, yes, the Sage of Concord was absolutely right about how to live your life. I was going to do nothing but follow my own inner light as I went through my days, which meant that I would live a successful life.

Well, after several decades of calamitous personal and financial decisions, I had to admit that a 17th century pessimist like the Duc de la Rochefoucauld was more correct when he tells us that "self-love is more cunning than the most cunning man in the world."[47] There is nothing which leads to more harmful cognitive illusion like the promptings of our inner Vanity Demon. When good Americans take the time to examine themselves these days, chances are the only thing they will notice will be their latest feelgood desire, along with an endless number of self-justifying excuses to make sure that the desire happens.

But of course that isn't you, you just + know that you're doing everything right. After all, you purchased a fine education, so it must be worth something, and you're making a lot of money, which means that you're a successful professional. You don't want to hear that maybe, just maybe, your beliefs, your interests, or your customary way of doing things are poisonous mistakes.

Just + know.

This word combination describes perhaps the single most pernicious human energy which exists in the world today, that of self-righteous complacency. How do you know your assumption is true? Why, I just + know it! How do you know you're a good parent? I just + know it! How do you know that a particular degree will give you a successful career? I just + know it! How do you know your political or religious beliefs are making the world a better place? I just + know it BEYOND A SHADOW OF A DOUBT!!!!

Just + know creates a state of mind so toxic that the people who possess it don't even begin to realize that what they've got inside their heads are assumptions instead of truths. No cognitive illusion is more destructive than the one which you don't have the slightest inkling that you've got. When you go through your life acting upon evidence-free assumptions which you do not even begin to realize are only that, you are guaranteed to meet with nothing but disaster.

So what we are now going to discuss is how to use an oracle to confirm the rightness of your assumptions about everything which matters to you. One of the premises of this book is that there is a way out of everything. However, the kind of escape hatches we all occasionally need will only start to manifest if you are brave enough to use an oracle to examine whatever you hold most sacred about politics, religion, money, relationships, child rearing, or career. The only way you will ever reach your full potential is by identifying and discarding your inner toxic energies, up to and including your most cherished beliefs.

Since we are now discussing one of the primary points of this book, I will now repeat myself, and with a larger font to boot. What is probably preventing you from achieving your full potential are


your
most
cherished
beliefs.


So forget about using an oracle to ask about plans of action, what's coming in the future, or whether somebody is lying to you. If you want to live the most successful life you can, you need to ask your oracle questions about:

The last item in the above list is the most important. If as you're reading this book you have been making a mental list of all the things that you're going to start asking your brand new deck of tarot cards, but you immediately dismiss certain topics as not worth the bother, I guarantee that these topics are the ones which need to be examined.

Here I will acknowledge that there are probably some people on this earth whose most cherished beliefs actually are full of benevolent energy. However, I suspect they are the tiniest of minorities. As for me, after two decades of being harangued by my cards, I know that I am not one of them. The good news is that I am able to see Reality a lot more clearly these days thanks to my oracle. If you are one of the remaining seven billion who has never bothered to question what matters most to you at any time in your life, chances are that you're also not one of them. Your most cherished beliefs are toxic.

But you still don't want any to do this, right? You just want to ask your oracle to approve your tedious soap opera desires so you can relax with your new purchases or your taste treats of choice. But asking about your most cherished beliefs? Panic time, fury time, everybody just + knows that they're way too smart to be mistaken about anything. My most cherished beliefs are perfectly all right! I know they are! No, don't ask me how I know--I just + know it! So let's forget this nonsense, okay?

Not a chance. What now follows are my suggestions for the type of self-examination questions you need to put to an oracle. As you will see, they all follow the following general format:

Once again, what you need to do is think things over first, develop a conclusion, and then ask your oracle for confirmation. Have fun.

I can accurately perceive reality.

I am wise.

I am ecological.

I am courageous.

I am spiritual.

I am secure.

I know a phony when I see one.

I am honest with myself.

I am free of hypocrisy.

I make good choices about my career.

I honor the integrity of all human beings.

I have excellent health habits.

I am a successful parent.

I am creative.

My profession fills me with positive energy.

I manage my money wisely.

I am free of inner demons.

I practice moderation in all things.

I am free of both projection and displacement.

I do not play junkie denial games.

I never seek thrills.

My intentions are always exemplary.

My entertainment fills me with positive energies.

My religion fills me with positive energy.

I would be happier if only I had more ___________.

I am a humanitarian.

I exist in harmony with the quantum field (this is the Big Enchilada Query which you need to ask the cards at least once a month for the rest of your life).

* * *
 

So there you have it. A nice selection of examples of how not to be a psychic meathead. The good news is that continual self-examination with an oracle can be fun as well as psychically liberating. Instead of progressing from moron to supermoron as the years go by, you will discover that your life is starting to work. "Man's character is his fate", said the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, an aphorism which has rightly been regarded as one of the most brilliant statements ever uttered about human existence.[48] You want a good fate? Start using your oracle to improve your character, and everything else will follow.

We will conclude this chapter with an interesting question. It is now time for the author of this book to inform her readership what her oracle of choice is currently telling her about her most cherished beliefs. This is a necessary question to ask, especially since your author's precious little cards have insisted that she's been a befuddled idiot about practically everything in her life for way too many years.

Well, as it happens, my current most cherished beliefs are on display as clearly as I can make them right here in this book. And they're here only because the cards have approved them. You surely didn't think I would write a book without repeatedly asking the cards what they thought of it, did you? Not a chance.

Hmmmm. Then maybe it's best if we soldier on.

Into what? What's next? Well, it is now time to examine the kinds of questions we should ask about the externals which surround us in our lives. To do this we first need to take a look at the kinds of energies to be found in the culture in which we live. You might be interested to hear that for as long as I can remember, my dear little cards have been handing me nothing but NO's about much of my American reality: the food I eat, the clothes I wear, the houses I live in, the job I work, the entertainment I watch, the books I read, the medicine that's supposed to fix me, and the politicians for whom I would like to vote. When you keep getting NO's so many times you cannot see straight . . . you kinda sorta get a feeling that, well, maybe something is very wrong with your culture.

Something is. Here in the second decade of the 21st century, everybody in our society is wrong about everything. The politicians are wrong about everything, and so are the educators, the scientists, the religious leaders, the medical people, the legal people, and all the other self-anointed elites. Even rock stars are wrong about everything. Yes, I mean you, United States of America.

So if your life isn't working, the problem isn't just you--it's also the society in which you live. Self-examination is not enough to give you a successful life. We now need to identify the kinds of negative energies which our cognitively-addled Newtonian experts have created in our culture. It is time for you to grit your teeth and hang on for dear life.



Chapter 8. It's Not Just You: It's Those Damn Newtonians!


Hell isn't merely paved with good intentions; it's walled and roofed with them. Yes, and furnished too.--Aldous Huxley.


We will start this chapter with the best way to describe the state of our American republic here in the second decade of the 21st century. This can easily be summarized in four little words: everything is going splat.

That's right, nearly every expert-approved way of doing things in this country is no longer working. These failing paradigms were never completely successful in the first place, but for the past few decades they actually seemed to be workable--sort of. I'm talking about all the legacy Newtonian schemes to be found in government, culture, religion, education, and science, all of which were never based upon anything except the most egregious of cognitive illusions. They are now starting to come apart in a morass of ghastly unintended consequences. The system is so rotten that it cannot and will not be sustained.

Not that our fearless leaders can perceive any of this. Alas, we must not forget that our betters are as unhappy and frustrated as the rest of us. Why do so many alleged leaders come across as resentful, mean-spirited, and vindictive? Where is the therapist who's not wallowing in vanity or substance addiction? Where is the contemporary philosopher who has something intelligent to say? What about the wisdom, such as it is, you can get from religious organizations or self-appointed spiritual leaders? What about the "self-help" coming from talk-show hosts, educators, or authors? You cannot point to any group of people in human history more blind to the true nature of life and Reality than the most prominent people in our contemporary culture, not even the flat earth true believers of the late Renaissance.

And where does all this leave the poor suffering citizenry? That's easy. Moving right on down what I like to call the Road to Nowhere. Have you ever heard Albert Einstein's celebrated definition of insanity: "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results"? Welcome to the Road to Nowhere. So what if a medical, social, or governmental paradigm is not exactly working? The legacy Newtonians among us just + know that sooner or later it will start to produce the right results, complete with bells ringing and whistles sounding. After all, it simply it isn't possible that any kind of theory which is supposed to work, which seems to make sense, and which is supported by intelligent and educated people, is a worthless scam. Right?

It is now time to examine the most prominent of American illusions knocking around these days, as well as the toxic consequences they inevitably produce. We will also take a look at what most people probably cannot believe actually exists: Reality.

Education

Illusion:

American education is celebrated throughout the universe as the most resounding pedagogical success in history. The graduates of our schools are always able to successfully compete in the world economy, or at least that will start happening when the United States stops ranking near the bottom of the barrel in literacy, science, and math. But who cares about that, when the only thing that matters is our students' self-esteem? This is why our educators must do everything in their power to train our young people in resentment, irresponsibility, and other critical thinking skills. Without such guidance, our students would never be able to get what they want, every second that they want it, every single day for the rest of their lives.

Today's educators are able to achieve this worthy goal since they are practicing the only effective way to educate the young: the system developed by 18th century German philosopher and Nazi favorite Johann Gottlieb Fichte. Perhaps Fichte's most celebrated aphorism is the one which defines his pedagogy: "The new education must consist essentially in this, that it completely destroys freedom of will."[49] Fichte helped to establish compulsory state-run education in his native Prussia, a system which emphasized rote-memorization, admiration for authority, and service to the state. Education just doesn't get any better than this.

Fichte's ideas were imported into this country by 19th century reformer Horace Mann. Before his time, American students were privately educated, worked as apprentices, or attended that atrocity known as the little red schoolhouse. They also learned what they could on their own, as if this were actually a rational thing to do. Indeed, if ever there was a morally bankrupt procedure, it has to be that nonsense called self-education. There is no greater threat to humanity than the acquisition of so-called knowledge outside of official educational venues, a fact which history has demonstrated time and again. Today we can see that this country would have been spared the horrific bloodshed of both the Revolution and the Civil War had not self-educated incompetents like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln meddled in affairs they could not understand. If they had obtained the proper educational credentials during their youth, win-win settlements in both these conflicts could have been achieved in about seven seconds flat.

Still, it continues to be a source of frustration to good teachers everywhere when they discover that their students are trying to learn things on their own, or even worse: trying to form their own opinions. This simply cannot be tolerated in a culture whose greatest goal is diversity. True diversity means that everyone must think exactly alike, so that no non-diverse ideas can be permitted. When our country finally becomes uniformly diverse, there will be nothing left but nice people with nice ideas, and everything will finally be perfect. The sooner this penetrates the thick skulls of those idiots out there in Kansas or wherever, utopian liberty will triumph for all and sundry.

For liberty is the greatest treasure we can bestow upon our children. They must be taught at the earliest possible age that the only way they can experience true freedom is from guiltless and consequence-free sex. You are always as free as a bird whenever you manage to hook up, as all the screwing since the advent of the glorious Pill has demonstrated. Our educators must continue to browbeat our young people into celebrating their sexuality every second of their lives, or else they will never understand why all other aspects of their lives must be carefully regulated by the appropriate governmental authorities. There is no other way to ensure that America's most resounding achievement, its free and blissful screwing, will continue unabated for the rest of eternity.

Of course nothing is perfect, and there is room for improvement even in our educational status quo. Perhaps the most glaring deficiency in contemporary American education comes from unpurified speech. In each phase of contemporary American education, the wrong kind of speech should no longer be tolerated under any circumstances. This ensures that our students are always able to communicate and write effectively. Still, there continues to be a reactionary cohort of ignorant loudmouths among us who suffer under the delusion that people are entitled to say what they think. Talk about a perfect prescription for human regression! Unless speech is good speech, it is simply not speech--something which those bricks in the wall out there must be made to understand.

Nevertheless, as long as we continue to revere the Fichte/Mann ideal of regimentation, drills, rote memorization, competition, hierarchical rank, examinations, and--best of all--submission to the authority of good people, American education will continue to be the success which it so obviously is. The triumphal result of these efforts is that there is a whole galaxy of stuff for our young people to get pissed off at by the time they reach adulthood, as every American generation since the Baby Boomers has demonstrated. Fortunately our teacher factories keep churning out ever-increasing supplies of bullies who know exactly how to turn the screws. This means that for the first time on our history, all of our students are finally going to start obeying orders. Without this blessing, American low-lifes would be even more disastrously unmanageable than they already are. But when everything is finally brought under control for everyone's own good, we will all reach our full potential as good little Prussians.

Reality:

Twenty-first century American education can be summed up in three simple words: ignoramuses teaching illusion. Here in our postmodern world, it is no longer possible to find one single human being who can effectively teach anything worth learning. What students get instead is an instructor's own personal emotional turmoil and feelgood illusions. Needless to say, neither the students or their parents ever quite realize this. Most of them continue to suffer under the delusion that you can actually learn something of value in an American classroom. I am willing to admit that you do need a competent instructor in a technical or scientific arena, but as for learning something about the art of living, or the true Reality of the universe, you'd better figure it out on your own, or else you're up the creek big time. Ignorance isn't really bliss--it's a recipe for personal and societal disaster

The problems begin on day one in kindergarten, when several toxic cognitive illusions start getting clobbered into youthful skulls. The first is that of the Other. In our contemporary American classrooms, the illusion called separateness reigns supreme. Brilliant intellects that they are, our educators just + know that human beings are atomized individual entities who have no connection to each other. This naturally means that they can always be tidily divided into the good guys and the bad guys. Different teachers, naturally, will have different ideas about who the bad guys are, but once they are identified, the student has to play along, or else. Needless to say, this illusion is prevalent not only by forcing the students to bow down to the identity politics of the day, but in the endless emphasis on resentment and envy.

The second illusion is that of competition. Students have us-against-them energies shoved at them every second of their school days, most frequently in the form of athletics. Never for one moment must the competitors be reminded about what is actually happening when the competition takes place, that the other guy is more himself than he is. Nope, they must always compete and compete again, since life is just total Dragsville without any kind of us-against-them. I guess that the lifelong pain which sometimes comes from youthful sports injuries is always worth it, since winning is the only thing.

The last problem is the worst of all:  the lack of spiritual instruction in our schools. Yes, I know--separation of church and state, and all that. But this is the single most important reason why the government should keep the hell out of education. Any educational curriculum which does not make Divine energy its living heart is irredeemably worthless. Unless young people can get a sense of spiritual reality during their school years, they will spend their lives existentially lost in an incomprehensible universe, desperately searching for meaning but never finding it. This is the only way to describe our current social reality. Millions upon millions have no clue what Divine energy means, nor how to bring it into their lives, nor even why they should make an effort. As a result, they are left with a feeling of emptiness so gargantuan that a mountain of substances can't fill it. Hell isn't other people, as a boring French narcissist would have it. Hell is the lack of Divine energy and the desperate emptiness which it causes.

Religion

Illusion:

The great religions of this world are constantly sending forth benevolent energies into every square millimeter of the planet. So never mind all the groupthink bloodshed that these great religions have also created over the centuries, since that doesn't count. Organized religions really are good things. Their respective dogmas are guaranteed to turn their believers into virtuous saints who will get straight into heaven within seconds of kicking the bucket. This is why people must be made to understand that heaven simply won't happen for them without the right religion. The only catch is that there are plenty of wrong religions on the planet, so you have to be extra careful to pick the right one. When you finally figure out which one it is, then naturally you have to start worshipping the religion instead of the Divine, since it's always the religion that counts. This means that everyone's highest spiritual duty comes from supporting the religion, paying for the religion, and defending the religion against its enemies, which all religions have naturally got. Religious groupthink forever!

Reality:

There are millions of people of people all over the world who draw great spiritual strength from their religion of choice, and this is all for the best. But if your belief system is filling you with thoughts about specialness, hierarchy, ego, separateness, and enemies who will go to hell, it's not helping you in the slightest. In an interconnected universe, one single sentient being suffering hellfire and damnation means that everyone is suffering hellfire and damnation. No one is saved until everyone is saved.

This means that unless your religion is showing you the Reality of universal interconnection, it is a problem instead of a blessing. All groupthink is nothing but toxic illusion, but the religious variety of groupthink is the ultimate pits. Fortunately, one of the best ways you can avoid falling into this particular abyss is by learning about other spiritual traditions. And the use of an oracle can give you direct access to voice of the Divine, courtesy of the angels among us. With blessings like these, you can avoid the kinds of mistakes that religious true believers have made in the past.

Science

Illusion:

The members of our esteemed scientific establishment are constantly working their butts off triple overtime under harsh conditions to make the world a better place. They have dedicated their lives to the holiest of holies, that altruistic secular humanist world where feeling good will reign supreme and nobody will ever be bored. This means that the scientists who want to organize the world for the better are the true humanitarians of our time. It is only the well-being of other people which matters to these towering intellects, apart from the usual six- or seven-figure salary, of course. Let us also remember that these wonderful humanitarians are never to blame when things go wrong, since they always act from the best of intentions. This means that they just cannot ever make bad mistakes or create horrific unintended consequences. They are doing nothing but good in the world and most definitely deserve all the pieces of Scandinavian shit they can get their hands on.

Reality:

High-tech western science is crashing into the mountain faster than you can say peer-reviewed. In spite of the quantum revelations that have been with us for more than a century, most contemporary scientists continue to go through their lives as committed Newtonians. They have an ingrained mechanistic view of both the human body and the environment which they apparently find impossible to discard. As a result they continue to do their tidy best to manipulate any self-organized system they can get their hands on, with predictably disastrous results.

Our current scientific establishment also just happens to be riddled with as much careerism, dishonesty, and narcissism as any political party you care to name. Competition for the money and the awards is so fierce that anything goes, just as long as you can get away with it. How is a heavily educated brainiac supposed to pay for his Jaguar convertible if his company doesn't make the necessary profits, or if he can't get more government funding? The money has to happen. It has to. Once upon a time you might have been able to trust scientific pronouncements or research, but recent scientific frauds including Climategate has destroyed that fantasy forever.

But if you're seething with fury at the above statements, and if you think you can see with your own eyes what kind of scientific and medical progress has been made over the past few centuries, ask yourself this: if so much was accomplished in illusion, then what might be accomplished in Reality?

Food and Environment

Illusion:

Our American food is the cleanest, healthiest, and most nutritious edibles in the history of humanity. So who cares if it's also pesticide-ridden, genetically-modified, chemically-preserved, artificially-colored, highly-refined, flavor-enhanced, and vitamin-poisoned? These alterations are necessary to keep our food supply as pure as possible. Besides, nobody ever drops dead from consuming a wee small bit of an unimportant little chemical. Ah, the epicurean delights of synthetic dyes and chemical preservatives! Has there ever been anything more delicious in the history of the world? The more chemicals the American people swallow, the better! We have got to have these chemicals in our bodies to stay healthy, or else those deadly germs will kill us!

As for our wonderful American water supply, it has been doused with a myriad of beneficial chemicals for several generations now, to the satisfaction of the thirsty everywhere. Is there a single soul in this country who doesn't react with exquisite delight whenever he or she gets to swallow what comes out of the tap? If you're lucky enough to live in an area where the water has been chemically treated to the max, you get to imbibe literally hundreds of fragrant chemicals, each one absolutely necessary to maintain your health. This most especially includes one of the most beneficent chemicals known to humankind: fluoride. The fact that there is no firm evidence that fluoride does diddly-squat to prevent cavities is irrelevant--we all know that we wouldn't have any teeth left without it. The humanitarian geniuses who have persuaded our politicians to dump it into our water are the most saintly heroes of our time.

These beneficent chemicals have benefited not only our food and water, but the objects in our environment as well. Let us take a moment to sing the praises of one of the greatest inventions the world has ever known, those delightful petrochemical products known as plastics. Plastics are cheap, attractive, non-toxic, and just totally awesome. Food and liquid can be safely stored in plastic containers for indefinite periods, polyester fabric is both healthful and sterile, and the synthetic mattresses we sleep upon keep our bodies in good shape. We should be endlessly grateful that our high-tech environments are as plasticized as possible.

Of course in recent years we can see that cancer and liver disease rates in this country have skyrocketed, but this is a good thing for us all. It has spurred our medical people to discover ever more effective medical procedures to cure these kinds of problems. In short, the chemicals we constantly swallow or otherwise absorb are always good for us, and the more artificial the better. It's only the uncontrolled natural stuff full of dirt and germs which causes problems.

Reality:

In the past half-century legacy Newtonian scientists have disastrously interfered with every aspect of the natural environment in which we live, thus producing a morass of unintended consequences which continues to grow worse and worse. Long ago and far away are the days when people encountered nothing but natural energy fields in their environment, such as wood, brick, stone, cotton, linen, fur, glass, leather, rubber, feathers, and fresh, organic, unprocessed food. We sickly postmoderns live out our lives constantly absorbing toxic industrial chemicals, usually of the petrochemical variety. Whenever we consume any kind of edible which has been stored in plastic, we consume the toxins which have leached into the food. When we wear plastic fibers, we smother our bodies with non-permeable wraps. When we fill our rooms with polyester rugs and mattresses, particle board, microfibers, acrylic paint and laminates, we breathe in their outgassing every second of our lives. These toxins are constantly rendering us both physically and mentally miserable.

It has frequently been observed that what we consider the greatest American generation, the generation which fought in the Second World War, gave birth to the Baby Boomers, a cohort which eventually displayed of some of the most repellent personalities in human history. Boomers were and are a squalling mass of addictive, greedy, pretentious, bullying, and endlessly self-absorbed egos, a cohort of which, as luck would have it, I happen to be a member. Boomers were the first generation of human beings who expended all their energies in a desperate search for something, anything, that would make them feel . . . good. What caused the personality differences between people who were born in the early decades of the 20th century and those born after 1945? In my opinion there was only one reason: the Baby Boomers were the first generation in the history of humanity to grow up constantly absorbing industrial chemicals. You name the chemical, and the Baby Boomers inhaled it, drank it, swallowed it, touched it, dressed in it, and slept upon it. Of course the chemicals were supposed to be somehow beneficial, as in vitamin "enrichment" or food "preservatives", but they proved to be devastatingly toxic not only to their bodies but to their minds, emotions, thoughts, and moods. The groupthinkery which they and their descendants constantly demonstrate has not been caused by "intelligent" or "rational" perceptions of the world around them. It is the result of the distorting chemical haze in which they live.  

Unfortunately people today cannot perceive the ways in which their food, water, and environment have been scientifically contaminated. The physical form of the food we eat has not changed very much from its appearance in premodern times, and the objects in our environment don't seem to be toxic. However, all we're getting is poison. This most especially includes the more recent varieties of genetically-modified food which have been accurately dubbed frankenfood. But we Americans have been eating nothing but frankenfood since the end of the Second World War, when the Newtonian manipulation of the food and water supply started in earnest. One of the most appalling cognitive illusions in the history of the universe is the fallacy that a little bit of something toxic won't hurt you. Yes, that's true--it won't, but only if you consume it once. But when that little bit of something toxic gets swallowed day in and day out for decades, you're going to end up in hell on earth.

If you ask me, the consequences of our frankenenvironment are now obvious. Millions of Americans suffer from four horrendous afflictions which make their lives a daily living hell: obesity, addiction, stress, and depression. These torments afflicted a minority of the population in premodern times, but they were not the kinds of torturous and intractable problems which make for endless misery today. You aren't fat because you don't have enough willpower. You aren't depressed because you can't help it. You aren't a disproj because you were born that way. Your energy field is constantly out of whack because arrogant Newtonian scientists have disastrously meddled with the natural energies of your food and your environment, and your government has let them get away with it. It's true that people are living longer these days, but spending eighty years suffering from one chronic infirmity after another isn't much of a life. Any time you interact with anything chemicalized, as in air fresheners, hand sanitizers, makeup, deodorant, nail polish, toothpaste, laxatives, sleep aids, shampoo, moisturizers, bug sprays, toilet bowl cleaners, fabric softeners, odor neutralizers, shaving creams, disinfectant sprays, carpet odor eliminators, hair conditioners, pain relievers, aftershave, soft drinks, vitamins, preserved food, nonstick cookware, and chemical soaps, you're absorbing something which is going to make you fat, depressed, attention-deficient, infertile, chronically fatigued, senile, or suffering from any of the other postmodern plagues which weren't around in pre-chemical days.

In my opinion there are two toxicities which top them all. The first is the fluoridation of our water supply. Fluoride is a corrosive poison which does nothing but tear the human system to pieces. If you don't believe me then just get yourself a water purifier which will take the fluoride out of your frankenwater, and notice how much better you feel. You probably won't believe it.

The other toxicity comes from our ghastly synthetic mattresses. Spending one third of your life cosseted between a chemical mattress and polyester bedding can only be compared to sleeping in a puddle of gasoline. It's going to render you wretched every waking hour of your life. And that permanent weight loss you keep dreaming about is never going to happen. Are you one of those people who sometimes wishes you could lose weight while you sleep? Why don't you ditch your frankenmattress and get an organic futon or cotton yoga pad? Just make sure your new futon is also free of flame retardants, or you'll be much worse off.

Perhaps because I have myself suffered from it, I think that obesity is the greatest contemporary feelbadness of them all. Here at the beginning of the 21st century, two-thirds of adult Americans are overweight, and they are getting fatter every day. Why is this happening? Very few people in pre-modern cultures had to fight agonizing day-to-day battles with themselves to maintain a healthy body weight. They were also able to eat huge meals whenever they liked, as any 18th or 19th century cookbook demonstrates. Crowd photographs taken in the early 20th century show that most people had healthy body weights, in spite of the fact that they were eating anything they liked.

But compare these people to their 21st century descendants. Contemporary crowd pictures always show fatties. These people inhabit a body which must be constantly battled, defied, tortured, and endlessly despaired of. The overweight among us waste huge amounts of time eating special foods, patronizing gyms and trainers, buying diet books and videos, and painfully starving themselves year after year. None of this helps for very long. And they keep getting fatter. This is not what their ancestors would have called enjoyable living.

And ever more chemicals are not the solution to the problem. Yes, I know that our medications are supposed to be some kind of universal cure-all, the way that bloodletting used to be a universal cure-all. Well, guess what. You do not cure chemical toxicity with more toxicity. You only make things worse.

The real kicker in all this is something which my readers will probably find surprising: if you have spent your life wading through a swamp of industrial chemicals, I can guarantee that you don't have a clue what that four-letter word called GOOD actually feels like. Yes, that celebrated if uninteresting sensation known as feelgoodness, about which you have been in desperate pursuit your entire life, is not something which you have ever truly experienced, not even in those ephemeral moments when you thought you had it. It is not possible for anyone to feel even a smidgen of good when his or her liver is working overtime to expel poisons from their system. And that is the only thing which American livers do these days: struggle to eject the toxins from the body. There is nothing I would enjoy more than hearing the sound of America singing, but all I ever hear is the sound of America wailing, specifically the sound of America's livers wailing, every hour of every day, as they try and fail to deal with the toxic chemicals constantly being inflicted upon them.

So if you have ever wondered why our collapsing culture is riddled with addicts, obsessives, shopaholics, narcissists, groupthinkers, and out-of-whack disprojs, all of whom are constantly feeling nothing but bad, now you know. The chemicals which they daily imbibe ruin all aspects of their existence, including their ability to think clearly, make rational decisions, and enjoy simple happiness. On some level they know that something is wrong with their lives, but they cannot figure out what, and usually decide to blame it on those evil people over there, to whom they just + know they are not connected in any way.

If you're the sort of person who cannot make it through the day without painkillers or antidepressants, why don't you try eliminating as many other chemicals as you can from your life and then see how you feel? Granted you cannot completely escape the chemical stew we Americans inhabit, but if you stop consuming obvious culprits such as synthetic dyes and fragrances, drug store chemicals, polyester fabric and furnishings, fluoridated water, or any kind of food or drink which has been drenched with preservatives and stored in plastic, you will start living a new kind of life. You might be interested to hear that the present author, who allows only oracularly-approved energies into her life, as in food, drink, fabric, soap, cosmetic, and furnishing energies, hardly ever puts an extra ounce on her 97-pound frame, not even when she stuffs her face, which on occasion she continues to do. This is something of an improvement over her 165-pound youthful self.

Oh, and by the way, you might also want to ditch your illusion that high-tech science is doing a lot of good in the world, instead of being yet another disastrous manipulation paradigm which is causing most of your misery.

Still don't believe me? Then it's time to reach for your trusty pack of cards and ask:

Business

Illusion:

The only thing that truly matters in this world is money. Fortunately the making of money is the most normal of activities here in these United States. This means that in the business world you have to play hardball, or else the money will never happen. And hardball means rivalry, which is a necessary state of being in all human cultures, since there would be no innovation or drive to excel unless people are constantly pitted against each other.

This also means that the only way a good business can make a profit is by giving people exactly what they want. So who cares if most of the goods and services provided to today's consumers are slightly toxic? Any business which tries to sell people something which doesn't make them feel good will nosedive straight into Chapter 11.

Nevertheless, it is not accurate to state that America's business people are producing nothing but crap. It is no longer possible for any business people in this country to behave dishonestly or corruptly, thanks to the beneficent rules and regulations which have been bestowed upon them by our beloved federal government. The making of money in our country is now carried on in the most virtuous manner possible, thanks to the trillion quadrillion federal rules and regulations which have been established in recent years. This has turned our successful businesspeople into shining beacons of ethical light who totally illuminate the darkest of corners of just any place you look these days.

These blessings are intensified thanks to that wonderful something called MORE. Good American business people just + know that it's never enough to simply maintain a business--it has to keep growing and expanding, forever and a day. Never mind the fact that energy fields are only healthy when they are flowing in their natural patterns without disruption. What matters in a successful business is the state of being ever greater, which can be seen all the time these days in greater profits, greater production, greater audiences, greater enrollment, greater publicity, greater everything. As long as the greater stuff keeps happening, everything is great.

Greatness especially happens whenever a good businessperson can pry some funding out of the feds, which anybody can do any more. If you hire the right kind of lobbyist and give him a seven-figure salary plus a house in Chevy Chase, sooner or later he will latch on to the perfectly purchasable politician. Then the money will start raining down upon your business like the golden blessing it is. No risk is ever involved in transactions like these, since your boy can always count upon a presidential pardon or a sympathetic crony in the DOJ if things get nasty. In the meantime, there is no better feeling than knowing that all your hard work and determination will not only give you the greenbacks you deserve but will also do a lot of good in the world! This means that the more bribery the better is the greatest of all business truths.

Reality:

Most contemporary business assumptions in this country today are as outmoded as the horse and buggy. Their energies disrupt the harmony of the quantum field even more thoroughly than the nonsense spewed out of Versailles-upon-the-Potomac. Greed in particular is so rampant an energy in American business these days that there is never much of anything else to be found. Except of course for manipulation, which inevitably kicks genuine creativity out of any business organization you care to name. A top-down corporation means that even if the employees want to do their best, not just for the company but for humanity as a whole, they cannot succeed without endless soul-destroying compromises. If you ask me, there is not a single major American corporation around today which is not currently doing its tidy best to crash right into the Studebaker mountain.

As for the fantasy known as MORE, it just so happens that a perpetual expansion of any energy field has never happened in the history of the universe, and it isn't going to happen to any business, culture, or nation state on the planet. Besides, you don't want energies to expand forever--you want them to maintain their Vishnu flourishing. I know . . . how they would start howling in the Harvard Business School if anyone suggested something like that. But if you gave it a try, guess what? That bottom line of yours might start looking healthier . . . spontaneously.

Media

Illusion:

The esteemed representatives of our national news media know exactly how to present news events to the public in the only way that counts: goodness. In other words, since good leaders must always be shown to be as good as they always are, it is no longer necessary to bother with that nonsense known as Truth. Once upon a time there was a ridiculous notion that a cause was worthless if it required deceit, but that is nonsense. As long as it is a good kind of deceit, it will inevitably bring in a new and better world. Of course, it takes a lot of skill to lie your head off time and again, but today our most celebrated media hacks are now able to pull it under any circumstances. Besides, we have reached a point in human history where the wrong kinds of news stories do not exist because they cannot exist. There is no point in sending out a negative energy like honesty in cases like these. You cannot make an omelet without a little spin.

Still, it takes more than dishonesty to be a great reporter. The other necessary quality is that of credulousness. Good media lapdogs must always believe what the government tells them to believe and duly report it verbatim to the masses. Fortunately it has become increasingly obvious in recent years that our journalists are always able to demonstrate the right kind of slavering adulation to any golden political leader capable of stealing their wonderful little hearts. It never matters how corrupt or despotic the leader might be; as long as he or she is a true humanitarian, our reporters will spend hours, days, or even weeks at a time repeatedly kissing something. Is this easy, or what?

It is true that there are alternative sources of news information these days, particularly on the internet, but these will soon be brought under appropriate legislative control. There is no point in confusing the voting population with inaccurate truths. Fortunately the leading lights of our government are starting to realize that the internet cannot be an unregulated free-wheeling horror, since that would lead to the worst kind of bad thinking. The necessary legislation will eventually be passed to make sure that only the correct viewpoints can be disseminated. Our major news organizations have given their full support to this wonderful new initiative and are tirelessly positioning themselves so that they alone will dish the good stuff out.

All this has had the greatly beneficial effect of dumbing down the populace. Complexity was always too confusing for most people to understand anyway, especially in the United States. Better to point out who the evil people are and keep attacking them, as is the custom of good humanitarians. As a result of these noble efforts, there are few professions more rewarding in our postmodern world than that of journalism. As for the supreme ultimate, the White House Press Corps . . . well, there are just no words.

Reality:

Of all the groupthinkers currently infecting the planet, our media spinmeisters have got to be the most brain-dead to be found. There is no member of the human race more lost in groupthink illusion than those dishonest fanatics knows as legacy journalists. Like all true believers they are convinced that they are doing a lot of good in the world, but media bias is the name of the disproj game, unless you want to talk about crony journalism. The amusing thing here is that these guys are so submerged in their fantasy time-warp that they honestly believe that ever more spin will continue to bring in the bucks. Town criers were supposed to go on forever, too, but they didn't. Nothing lasts forever, and especially not a profession based upon deceit. One can only watch in amusement as the honchos of our legacy newspapers, magazines, and television network news do everything they can to destroy themselves with every word they write and every newscast they broadcast. Apparently even self-immolation is better than relinquishing their precious I'm-a-humanitarian self-esteemery. Fortunately they will soon be history. Good riddance.

Government

Illusion:

The social welfare states which were established after World War II are the only way to do government. While it's true that the old Soviet Union was sort of a disaster, our contemporary centralized governments are the culmination of human civilization and the reason why all the people on our planet today live such ecstatically happy lives. This holds true most especially for our benevolent American supergovernment. We should rejoice that government at all levels in our country has finally reached the absolute apex of efficiency, and it will work even better when it perfects its surveillance apparatus so it can spy on everybody!

It is true that on extremely rare occasions, a little too much statism leads to temporary nuisances like recession, depression, or bankruptcy, but the cure is always at hand: increase the government. Besides, if the lesser people cannot find employment during a recession, they have no one but themselves to blame for voting for the wrong party in previous decades. This means that unemployment is always a good thing, since ever-increasing poverty will guarantee that good people with good ideas will always win political office. So who cares that every single American social program instituted in the 20th century has been a failure? In the near future they will start to demonstrate very resounding success. As for those extremely unusual occasions when a rule or a regulation doesn't work, any kind of temporary difficulty can always be solved with more regulation 100% of the time.

Besides, if things get truly bad in the economy, there is nothing like a little governmental stimulus to put things aright pronto. For example, we can see that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 solved all the economic and unemployment problems of this country in one trillion-dollar swoop. Not one single working-age adult in this country has been unemployed in the five years since its passage. They have all found the exact kind of dream jobs they yearned for and are now earning plenty of big beautiful bucks. It is true that the government didn't exactly have an extra trillion dollars to pay for the thing when it was passed, but who cares if a slight little debt had to be created to fix everything? Out-of-control spending is the best possible way to spend. The fact that the national debt now increases by a measly two or three billion dollars a day to pay for that trillion-dollar debt is irrelevant. Out of sight, out of mind. Here in the second decade of the 21st century, we have got nothing but shining prosperity and full employment every which way but loose. Yes, the 2009 stimulus bill fixed the American economy forever and ever, and the next one will be even better!

All this means is that we should rejoice that our federal government is now structured so that it does nothing but spend as much money as possible. Of course it costs money to spend money, but this is never a problem when the government does it. This means that for the first time in history the only intelligent thing for a government to do is spend money, even when it doesn't have any. That is the only way you can ever solve a problem.

All this wonderful money has made local, state and federal agencies the masterpieces of productive efficiency that they are today. This efficiency is maintained by what has become known as the Feather-Funnel-Dump System, a procedure by which the honchos in charge of a government unit feather their own nests, funnel money to their cronies, and dump shit on their underlings. If ever there were a reason for ever-greater administrative bloat in local, state, and federal government, this is it.

O how grateful we are to our governmental wonder-workers, especially those beings of light called career politicians, for blessings like this! How helpful they are! What victories they create! How memorable is their vacuous oratory! Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that no matter what the problem is, they have an unparalleled ability to make everything worse. If anyone deserves their eight figures, it is our beloved career pols! The more we worship them, the better! And so what if our United States Congress hasn't passed a real budget since 1997? Who needs a budget?

As for our devoted governmental bureaucrats, we can see that they are the only people in the history of the world who always know what's best in any given situation. This means that there is no more joyous encounter than one between a bureaucrat and some miserable sap who needs assistance from the government. At all times and under all circumstances the sap in question will always be able to locate the exact right person to solve his or her problem without the slightest delay. No waiting, no lines, just immediate assistance. And the good bureaucrat the sap confronts will need only a fraction of a second to determine which of the trillion quadrillion rules and regulations is needed to solve the sap's problem. This will always happen since there's no way a good bureaucrat ever wastes his time thinking that the weekend can't get here fast enough. Our sap will then get everything he asks for in precisely 12.71 seconds, while choirs sing hosannas in the background muzak. Ah, there is nothing more enjoyable than submitting to the warm pleasant embrace of governmental authority!

And what merry lives our devoted bureaucrats lead! There is nothing like spending your days being an underpaid and overworked lowlife to put a song in your heart! It is a well-known fact that most of our governmental bureaucrats commence their daily routine by turning handsprings of joy at the thought of spending the next eight hours swimming through red tape the size of the Pacific Ocean. Public sector unions are beginning to demand that agencies provide employees with what they call Cartwheel Corridors, where the workers will be able to express their morning rapture in a rotary fashion without knocking over their coffee pots. If you walk into any local, state, or federal office building in this country today, the joie de vivre emanating from these blissful people just totally socks you in the kisser.

Our country is now experiencing the most splendiferous improvement which has taken place in its history: the consolidation of health care under federal auspices. For the first time in American history, the nomenklatura are going to control medical care. Finally! No more of the unstructured mess we used to know and detest. Once the new system is implemented, if you are ever in desperate need of medical assistance, or if one of your loved-ones has completely passed out, all you will have to do is contact the right bureaucrat, and your name will immediately be placed on a list. And it won't cost you one red cent! Except for those thousands you will be forced to pay for your skyrocketing insurance premiums, but that doesn't count.

Yes, it's about time that the government started making people spend their money, since the more you spend, the happier you are. Indeed, the right to spend what you are told to spend is one of the most fundamental freedoms anyone can possess. And to think that the Founders forgot to include this precious prerogative in the Bill of Rights! Fortunately we can now see that this new privilege will eventually evolve into thousands of others ways in which the American people will be ordered to cough up the payola, especially for the good stuff created by the good cronies of our good career politicians. What matters is that your government loves you, cherishes you, and wants to do everything it can for you. Where would you be without your government? Proclaim liberty throughout all the land!

We have our highly-educated authority figures to thank for this miraculous progress, so let us never forget that they will always make the right decisions in all circumstances. This means that they must constantly be allowed to do anything they want, and most especially by fiat. Nowadays whenever our president wants to solve a problem, all s/he has to do is issue an executive order or suspend the law as necessary, and the problem is solved! Fiat money and fiat directives! Everything is for the best in this best of all possible governments.

All this means that the word unnecessary is now the only way to describe that nonsense called the "law". In particular, we must rejoice that the "law" no longer matters in situations of national security. What was once considered unthinkable in our country (torture, assassination, bombing the crap out of the foreign lesser people, etc.) has finally become acceptable, and it's about time. We have progressed to a point where a little spilled blood is always okay when the good guys do it. Or anything else the good guys want to do, for that matter, including a teensy weensy little bit of surveillance of the populace, which doesn't hurt anybody. None of us humanitarians would be safe without their efforts, and we just have to be safe.

All this thankfully means that nobody cares about the Constitution any longer. Fortunately we now see that the Constitution is a living document which can be tweaked every few generations to eliminate anything which doesn't count. This means that the less our government resembles what our Founders intended, the better--and besides, those guys owned slaves anyway. Nowadays we constantly rejoice that the revered members of our contemporary judiciary have enough sense to realize that the Constitution can mean anything they want. There would be no way for progress to happen without this kind of legal flexibility.

We can now look forward to that glorious future when everything will be a crime. The thousands of laws and laws and laws which our legislatures keep passing will bring this utopian state into being in just a few more years. Then we will all be able to rejoice in the blessed state of unlimited federal power, where the energy will be green, the right people will get the money, and free swimming pools will be constructed in everybody's back yard. Of course, at the moment our leaders have to keep nagging, scolding, and detesting the lesser people to get them to accept the great grand good utopia which is coming, but this is vastly positive energy. Sooner or later even the lowest of the low will want nothing more than the privileges which their government will grant to them.

Fortunately our government is now so entrenched in our culture that there's no way to get rid of it. It will just keep expanding forever, since it is just totally not possible for anything which is progressing to . . . well, regress. Regression is something that never never ever ever happens. The idea that the re- syllable indicates some kind of natural energy law is nonsensical nonsense. Our blessed government will forever be the messiah that will save us. So the only thing left to do is shut up, sit back, and be thankful that we are on the receiving end of the greatest blessing any government can bestow upon its populace: infantilization.

Reality:

The social welfare states which were established after World War II have failed at everything they've attempted and have created an endless number of horrific unintended consequences which continue to wreak havoc all over the earth. The current monstrosity on view in Versailles-upon-the-Potomac is currently so out of whack with the natural flow of energy that all it does is barf. Of course, it wasn't supposed to turn into something like that, but the tipping point was passed long ago, and the only energy the American federal government now gives out is entropy.

Alas, the idea that political solutions will make the world a better place is one of the single most disastrous cognitive illusions that has ever poisoned the planet. Now I am the first to admit that sometimes political solutions actually do work, but only when they create conditions where there is openness, room to maneuver, and opportunity for systems to self-organize. But that's not how anyone would describe 20th or early 21st century political solutions. Our last blood-drenched century was the time when governments the world over were built up into horrific monster systems, the most ghastly, of course, being the Marxist and fascist tyrannies which destroyed millions of human lives. But even in the more democratic countries the citizenry allowed the state to assume unprecedented powers. These monster governments were predicated on the gargantuan cognitive illusion that human societies can be artificially organized to run like mechanized clockwork. This has got to the ultimate in human fantasy.

If you ask me, the only thing the American government has done since World War II is make mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake after mistake. And the only thing our hapless leaders can do to rectify these mistakes is make more and even bigger mistakes. Well, what can you expect from legacy Newtonians lost in illusion? Probably the biggest illusion of them all is the one which tells us that it really is possible to increase the benevolent side of the government while making sure that an imperial military/police state is not erected as well. Talk about the ultimate in political fantasy. Ever greater government inevitably means ever greater tyranny. There is no Great Society without a Vietnam.

As for those hapless bureaucrats who must implement their betters' ideas of the organized society, they go through their lives barely managing to tread water. Forget about helping the public--they know perfectly well that the only thing that counts is FOLLOWING THE RULES. Never mind if a desperate human being passes out on the floor before you--the rules must be followed. Spending your life trying to follow these ever-increasing rules turns people into the most spiteful and small-minded monsters you can ever hope to avoid. Government bureaucrats do not manufacture goods, design inventions, or generate wealth--they are occupied in the most toxic career paradigm of them all, trying to enforce control freakery, day after miserable day. On some level they know that they are trapped in poisonous energy, but they cannot bear to admit it to themselves. They hate themselves, hate their jobs, and hate the people who come to them for help. Will continually creating ever more of these soulless automatons truly make the world a better place?

Also, in case you haven't noticed, the managed societies which these control freaks have established are the last word in tedium. If there is one single energy which has created our American Dragsville, it is the social engineering of the last half-century. Our beige-living-room society has been constructed with all the charm and grace of a concrete apartment block in Soviet Russia. In such a world there is no mystery, no magic, no fun, no room to maneuver. Everyone is bored out of their skulls, up to and including the elites who have constructed the concrete slabs which imprison us. You've got to keep focusing on the evilness of your enemies, or having thrilling pixel adventures night after night, or else you just cannot go on.

As for the two bankrupt political parties which keep trying to manage the monstrosity they've created, both of them are so lost in illusion that they are jointly falling to pieces. These parties were formed in a different kind of world and have not evolved with the times. It doesn't matter whether you talk about the greed party or the manipulation party, both of them are determined in one way or another to forbid, control, or otherwise get the peasants to behave themselves. Mind you, they have different criteria about what should be verboten, but their illusions are identical: the fantasy that the world will be a better place if the bad people are forced to change their behavior. How from life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness did our country ever come to this?

Well, that's what chemical poisoning will do to you. The frankenpeople among us actually believe in the illusion of absolute security and perpetual prosperity which their demagogues have promised them. If you ask me, it would be more fun to live in quantum cussedness than social engineering, but the disprojs among us are terrified at the thought. They absolutely must have their Comfort Zones in place forever.

Fat chance of that. Reality tells us that success happens only when systems naturally self-organize. Our Founding Fathers set up a system which allowed ectropy to happen, and while there were always problems with their arrangement, it worked pretty well until the 20th century. What we've had ever since has been a disaster. We need to remember Thoreau's opening statement in Civil Disobedience (1849), which everyone these days blows off the minute their eyes focus on the words:

I heartily accept the motto, "That government is best which governs least"; and I should like to see it acted up to more rapidly and systematically. Carried out, it finally amounts to this, which also I believe--"That government is best which governs not at all"; and when men are prepared for it, that will be the kind of government which they will have.

Culture

Illusion:

Our American culture is a tremendously preeminent force for good in the world. The contemporary fiction, poetry, music, and art which our native geniuses produce are some of the most superlative masterpieces ever created by the human mind, and especially by those minds ensconced in academia. The brilliant cutting-edge critiques of suburbia which they produce have no equal in human history, as their future pieces of Scandinavian shit will demonstrate.

And it is so easy to be a successful artist or writer these days! All you have to do is proclaim yourself a creator of some kind, and that's what you are! It's even better if you can relocate to one of the cool multicultural urban areas where you get to be a hipster. In these elite enclaves, good hipsters can always make a good living selling their finger painting or their chirping sounds. And so what if you don't have a drop of talent? Shock value will get you noticed time and again, which is the only thing that counts.

As for our entertainment establishment, it is obvious that our president urgently needs to appoint an Entertainment Czar to start regulating the music and movies currently being produced in this country. Of course, most of what is created these days is politically appropriate, but the odd reactionary atrocity continues to slip through. Who needs this kind of contamination in our entertainment? A good Entertainment Czar will always be able to provide the lesser people with the crudest kind of propaganda, thus ensuring perpetual mind rot and votes for good candidates. The paramount duty of our greatest producers and directors is to generate this kind of agitprop, every hour of every day.

Thankfully there is little else to criticize about our current entertainment industry. The fact that our contemporary movies are almost impossible to watch is one of their greatest strengths. It has been obvious for several years now that our most prestigious entertainment corporations have completely run out of ideas, which is all for the best. You get nothing in a postmodern movie except computer generated special effects, stereotypical characters, and formula plots. What better way to keep Mr. and Mrs. Six Pack and their idiot kids riveted to the movie screen, especially when they're watching yet another us-against-them drama?

The Six Packs out there must also understand that there is only one thing which gives meaning to life: celebrity. Fortunately anyone can be a celebrity these days, thanks to those resplendent marvels of the internet called Facebook and Twitter. The Six Packs among us have learned that if they have a moment of spare time, it makes no sense to read any kind of antiquated poetry or philosophy crap. They should go directly to Facebook or Twitter, where they will encounter the only stuff worth paying attention to in the history of the world: ego douchery. The fact that every sentient being who posts to these two internet wonders comes across as a blinking idiot only goes to show how brilliant these services are. Without Facebook and Twitter to bestow famousness upon everyone, where O where would the lesser people be?

Reality:

The rampant narcissism of the present cultural moment has rendered most varieties of artistic endeavor the last word in ridiculous. The unrelenting humorlessness of contemporary American art, literature, poetry, and music is obvious proof of that. We need to remember that art is nothing but communication. If a work of art doesn't speak to you, it is not successful art. But nobody wants to communicate anything here in our postmodern cultural mess--they simply want to advertise their own annoying little selves. Snark and attention whoring do not great masterpieces make, especially in an MFA industrial complex where being unable to mouth the correct pieties makes you evil.

The main problem is that no one ever stops to think about what happens in our primary form of entertainment: the kind of us-against-them encounter which goes back all the way back in Western culture to the Trojan War. Alas, watching the good guys battling the bad guys is not good clean fun. It fills the quantum field with endless disruption. Video games are especially toxic in this respect, since you're not just watching somebody take out the bad guy--you're doing it yourself. Well, the destruction of another sentient being, if only of the digital variety, just happens to be the ultimate in negative energy. If you cannot make it through the day without watching or blowing apart some kind of baddie, you are setting yourself up for a stratospheric Cosmic Boomerang.

Outer Space and Immortality

Illusion:

Well, so what if our current reality isn't exactly perfect? We can all look forward to an incredibly fabulous future thanks to the scientific developments we just + know are coming. All the crap we currently have to deal with here on planet earth is about to be ditched for good! Yes, it's finally time to get off-planet forever!

That's right, within the next few decades it really will be possible for us Kmart shoppers to pack up our microwave popcorn and blast off into our true destiny, those domed cities on Mars or maybe even a nice new planet offshore from Alpha Centauri. Location! Location! Location! Anywhere but here! The sooner we start boldly going where no woman has gone before, and bestowing upon alien real estate the interminable us-against-them energies of our very own earthly reality . . . well, the better. After all, there are plenty of brilliant thinkers around these days who tell us that what is termed "human survival" depends upon Homo sapiens evacuating its resource-depleted planetary ship. These elite scientists just + know that there has just got to be a more bountiful planet out there in the cosmos somewhere, with exactly the right kind of gravity, atmosphere, and microbes, and once we earthlings manage to relocate, we'll get a way kewler life than the idiocy we've got here on Terra. But if future geniuses can't find an exact duplicate of planet earth near Alpha Centauri, no problem--we'll just terraform the new real estate to create an identical copy of the environment we've got here. Never mind that one missing microbe on a terraformed planet would wreck everything. That won't happen.

This means, of course, that flying saucers need to be invented, finally. Our current crop of inefficient rockets can only put a few lousy tons into the empyrean at enormous cost and effort, so they aren't going to help. The fact that flying saucers haven't been invented yet is irrelevant, since we all know that some kind of future genius will make them happen. Then a different future genius will invent warp speed so we won't have to spend several thousand nuisance years traversing the galaxies to get to our new planet--we'll get zapped to our new digs faster than you can say immediate gratification. Needless to say, a contractual vanguard of lesser people (carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and other assorted riffraff) will be the first to journey to the stars in order to make the new planet habitable. They will erect the boutiques, the interstates, the liquor stores, the gated communities, and the en-suite master baths so that our space pioneers will be comfortable the minute they touch down. Then they will be able to settle back and relax with their flat screens and their Scotch, both of which they will need, since the new socially engineered planet is guaranteed to be as lethally boring as the old.

But if you don't want a sivilized planet, no problem. We futurists also just + know that there are going to be lots of other habitable planets out there in outer space which resemble our very own 19th century American frontier. This means that sooner or later millions of good old earth boys will be able to climb into their very own intergalactic rust buckets and have endless thrilling adventures battling outer space bad guys. High Noon at Dodge City everywhere you go in the whole cosmos, since we all know the universe is stuffed full of bad guys--Hollywood has told us so. And what fabulous never-ending adventures our future space cowboys are going to have drilling them dirty varmints way up there in outer space, forever and a day! Especially when we just + know that it will always be the bad guys who will get theirs, but never us. Our adventures can't ever stop! We've got to have all the fun-filled excitement that we want! This is the only way we will be able to live happily ever after to the non-end of our days.

The non-end is what counts here. Getting the hell off-planet is also going to provide us Homo sapiens with nothing less than immortality. That's right--we good guys will finally not have to die, and it's about time. This is going to happen thanks to that celebrated upcoming event called the Singularity. The Singularity will manifest when yet another future genius manages to invent a computer which is smarter than us humans. Then this supercomputer will start to multiply itself or something, thus bestowing a whole bunch of totally awesome supermachines upon all humanity. The supermachines will then proceed to fix everything that's wrong with the human race, so there will be no more war, no more poverty, no more stubbed toes, and we will become as immortal gods. It's true that the Singularity has been satirically called the Nerd Rapture, but that only goes to show how jealous people can be. There is no doubt that our future Singularity machines are going to end all our problems, especially since they will be good machines instead of bad machines, which might enslave or destroy the human race. That will not happen because it will not happen.

Once we are as gods, of course, we can finally kill off death. That's right:  no more kicking the bucket. We anticipate that our Singularity supermachines will be able to devise those eagerly anticipated steel-and-plastic cyborgs into which we humans can insert our consciousness and then end it with the croaking. Needless to say, our new cyborg forms will always work perfectly since they will be manufactured according to the correct governmental regulations. Ah, what a good future this is going to be! Nanny Sammy will keep us 100% safe, while our technology will make us immortal! When we humans stop having to die, can you ever just watch us smoke!

Of course, living forever also means that our Singularity machines will have to destroy that law of physics called entropy, but so what? The universe doesn't really need entropy and can very well do without it. It is nothing but a completely useless energy law anyway, which our supermachines will be able to easily eliminate, as well as any other law of physics they find to be silly or unnecessary. So sayonara, Shiva! Unintended consequences? What unintended consequences? It will be very good for everybody if the universe keeps expanding forever, just like the NASDAQ.

There is absolutely no doubt that some kind of future genius will be able to create this upcoming Singularity miracle. After all, every mother's offspring of a future genius is going to be an exact replica of our contemporary scientific masterminds, each one of whom is able to perceive Reality for what it truly is: solidity, separateness, a cause for every effect, and the manipulation of matter to make things better. What else do you need to carry a nation into a good future?

Reality:

So you want to relocate off-planet, do you? Don't hold your breath waiting for it. At this point in history people believe in their precious off-planet fantasies only because short-term off-planet existence has proven to be possible. No one has yet attempted long-term off-planet existence, the kind that lasts for decades or a whole human lifetime--and which just happens to be an impossible fantasy. Those Newtonians who suffer under the delusion that Homo sapiens can survive anywhere except its home planet are in for a rude awakening. The 99.9999999999999% empty energy field known as a human being is not a machine which exists in the planet earth environment. It is the planet earth environment. The life force of the Homo sapiens energy field cannot be separated from the earth's energy field and expect to survive. Any attempt to remove human beings from the third rock from the sun would be like trying to get a fish to survive out of water. If you expended tremendous amounts of time and machinery, you could probably get a fish to survive out of water. But the poor fish wouldn't have much of a life, nor would its life last very long.

As for those fantasists who are convinced that the human race is going to expire big time unless it escapes our used-up planet, they are making a mistake that most people make when thinking about the future, namely that it's only going to last for a few more centuries. Do our secular humanists really believe that there will be "physical" human beings ten billion years from now? Does anyone? Of course not. So please explain to me again why we need to evacuate the planet? To give Homo sapiens a few extra millennia of physical existence? In the fullness of time our species will inevitably cease to exist, whether on earth or on some fantasy faraway planet. So will every other species of life now living on our earth. Maybe sooner, maybe later, but it is inevitable. Entropy happens.

As for the Singularity . . . well, this has got to be one of the ultimate human fantasies, unless you are also dumb enough to believe that you can actually insert your consciousness into a machine. May I remind you that nothing in our spacetime universe lasts forever? Machines are as much 99.9999999999999% empty space phantoms as us ever-aging members of Homo sapiens. Any cyborg you care to describe will eventually fall to pieces. So will the newer and more efficient models which you think will be created whenever an old one wears out. And don't forget that not even the latest-model cyborg is going to make it past the upcoming Big Crunch, when all matter in our universe dissolves into massless energy. There will never be any kind of "physical" immortality in our spacetime universe, not for humans, not for vampires, and not for machines.

Spacetime immortality isn't something that you should want, anyway. Why doesn't anyone see that any kind of durational eternity you can imagine would eventually develop into the most ghastly boredom this side of washing the dishes? No, wait--our future robots are going to be washing the dishes, so that will leave us with lots of time for video games and great sex and . . . uh . . .

Well, just stop and think about the reality of endless time for a moment. What would you do with yourself if you had trillions of years of "physical" being instead of a miserable three score and ten? I guarantee that any kind of ego-gratifying answer you can come up with would collapse into a morass of nightmarish stupefaction after only a few centuries. You could, for example, spend your initial 100100 trillion years with plenty of fast cars and hot women, and there would always be a new game or video to watch, since the NFL and Hollywood are going to last as long as you do. So you would never be bored for one single microsecond during all that time, no siree, Bob, right? Nor during your subsequent 100100 x 100100 x 100100 trillions of years, right? Especially since sooner or later the Cubs would win the Series! Now that would really be worth not dying for!

You don't want to think like that, do you? And you don't want to let go of your daydreams about those Singularity machines which will fix everything. Then may I suggest:

As for me, I expect that 22nd century scientists will regard with pitying eyes the pathetic ego-gratification strategies of the scientific crew alive today, and especially their illusions that they can somehow improve or replicate the kind of intricate complexity which self-organized systems demonstrate--not to mention how to stop a "physical" being from passing into spirit. Talk about the ultimate in hubristic nonsense.

Perspectivism

Illusion:

What is known as perspectivism the reality of our universe. Perspectivism tells us that Truth does not and cannot exist, always excepting the idea of social progress, of course, since that is the one single thing which is for sure. But as for those other reactionary ideas called "facts", they are nothing but cultural constructs which are only relative to particular times or places. Truth is never anything except what fits a cultural situation. Let us give three resounding cheers for perspectivism, since it has created our wondrous postmodern world!

Reality:

It's amusing to discover that perspectivism got its start with none other than Ralph Waldo Emerson and his emphasis on breaking free from the past. This is doubly amusing when we remember that Emerson's theories came from a core concept which he developed in his youth, the idea that each human being can find God within. He was convinced that people didn't need religion, dogma, scripture, rituals, or traditions to find the Divine--they simply had to look into their own soul. This still-radical idea led to Emerson's final split with Christianity, since he was in effect denying the sacredness of scripture and the sacrifice of Christ.

Well, these notions were the ancestors of both pragmatism and process philosophy, both of which emphasize newness and transformation, and both of which eventually led to our stagnant perspectivist swamp. So if you want to trace perspectivism back to its beginning, what you find is a just one man's evidence-free premise about Divine energy. A premise that eventually led to the nothing matters, everything is relative, and secular humanism must reign supreme our collapsing culture. My goodness, how was it possible for the first to mutate into the second? Why, it's as easy as apple pie in the land of the addicted and the home of the chemically-addled.

Perspectivism is nothing but yet another ego-gratifying narcissistic illusion. Truth exists. It is universal to all times, places, and cultures and can be learned and understood by anyone. Both quantum physics and our spiritual knowledge can reveal Truth to us, since they both say the exact same thing. Any theory which denies these Realities is doomed to failure. So take that, you identity politics, you. Ditto for control freakery, separateness, top-downess, or the fantasy that living organisms are machines. But if you can accept Truth, it will set you free.
 

* * *


So there you have it: Newtonian illusion vs. plain honest Reality. Oh, come on--stop griping. Surely you can't be disappointed that technology won't make you immortal? Or that the liquid you're drinking out of those plastic bottles is making you fat? Or that those manipulation and competition vibes which you so enjoy are not universal in time and space? Or that Star Trek is nothing but a juvenile fantasy? That is to say, a double juvenile fantasy since Starfleet was supposed to be successfully run by none other than the federal government? Yes, I know. I've deprived you of your most precious daydreams, and as usual, your world is starting to collapse into meaninglessness again. Well, that's the only way to describe the kind of life you have been leading all these years anyway. Not that you ever saw it as meaningless, since your substances kept providing you with occasional moments of feelgoodness. But if you take a good look into your own hollow eyes, you will see what I mean.

But those hollow eyes of yours can be cured. Now that we see what kinds of energies surround us in our culture, the next thing to do is ask our oracle how to deal with them.



Chapter 9. Questions about Externals.


Gabriel's Fortune Telling Made Easy, and Dreamer's Sure Guide: Being a Full, Clear, Authentic, Plain Method of Learning All about the Future: by which is Foretold the Kind of Wife Or Husband We Will Have, Whether Poverty Or Riches Will be Our Lot, Whether Sickness Or Health is to be Our Portion, and Indeed Positive Information as to All that Can Possibly Happen in the Future
.--Title of book by anonymous author (New York: Hurst, 1876)


So now we are going to devise questions about externals. Of course in an interconnected universe, the idea of an external to your own energy field is yet another cognitive illusion. But on a practical level you need to know something about the energies which surround you in your environment if you wish to live a successful life. Over the years I have learned that there are six major types of questions about externals which you can legitimately put to an oracle:

Once again, you need to make these questions confirmational. You identify an issue, rationally determine what you think is the truth or the expected result, frame your question so that it can be answered with a YES or a NO, and ask your oracle to confirm it.

Predictive

We will start with predictive questions, since these are some of the most popular kinds of questions to put to an oracle. Usually the future event about which you're curious is something which you very much want, such as marriage or a new job. There is nothing wrong with asking such questions, and on occasion you can receive valuable information. However, before we even begin to frame a predictive question, we need to take a look at a certain little irritant first: the future. What exactly is the future, anyway? We talk about it, we plan for it, and we think we have a pretty definite idea what it is, but do we? If you had to come up with a precise definition of the future, how would you describe it? Would you think that some aspects of it are inevitable? Or that it is open to all possibilities? How would you account for unexpected events or accidents? Is there any way for us to truly create the kind of future we want?

Well, after many years now of working with an oracle, I have realized that there is only one way to answer all these questions. It is the same answer for all of them, and it goes like this: the future doesn't matter. That's right. Here I am, writing a book about how to use an oracular tool to make your life better, but now I'm saying that we shouldn't waste our energy thinking about or planning for the future, since it is of little or no importance in our lives. Well, the greatest sages are in agreement about this, including none other than Ralph Waldo Emerson, who tells us that: "These questions which we lust to ask about the future are a confession of sin."[50]

But . . . getting a glimpse into the future ought to be a good thing for most people, right? Wouldn't that be a sensible way to help you avoid bad decisions and wrong turns in your life? Unfortunately the desire to know what's coming in the future can cause even more problems in your life than you've already got. Indeed, most people's idea of the future has no basis in Reality. What we now need to examine are the kinds of illusions about the future which will wreak havoc in your life if you let them:

We understand time.

Illusion:

We understand the future because we understand time. In other words, we can easily perceive what time always does: it moves directly into the future without any kind of deviation and always at the exact same speed. It is a steady state linear force which does not possess any kind of circular re- energy, since that cannot be possible.

Reality:

So we understand time, do we? Says Peter Lorre in Beat the Devil (1953): "Time . . . time. What is time? Swiss manufacture it. French hoard it. Italians squander it. Americans say it is money. Hindus say it does not exist. Do you know what I say? I say time is a crook." Well, maybe it's not a crook, but if you ask me, that four-letter word known as time just happens to be a big fat nuisance which never does anybody any good. Who will ever be able to solve the riddle that is time? We can theorize about it, but that's about all we can do. Not that people will ever stop trying to define or control it. Some of us are even dumb enough to attempt to manipulate it through follies like time management and multi-tasking, but we only waste our energy. Time will forever be an uncontrollable beast beyond our human control.

The problem is that time is never something which we human experience objectively. Our perceptions of time are always subjective: sometimes time can drag, sometimes it accelerates, and sometimes we feel as though we have escaped it, as when we are lost in our dreams or listening to music. We can work to acquire a higher awareness of time, but that's about all we can do.

The future is preordained.

Illusion:

Everything that is going to happen will happen exactly as it's supposed to, since everything is preordained. Or as a popular phrase will have it: que sera, sera . . . whatever will be, will be. Words to this effect have been knocking around since Christopher Marlowe used them in Doctor Faustus (1589). Whatever will be will be, peasants, so shut up and suffer since there's nothing you can do to change your life for the better. The future is set in stone. No kind of freedom truly exists, there is nothing we can do to alter Fate, and we cannot deviate from a path which is already marked out.

Reality:

The idea that the future is preordained is both one of the silliest and one of the most widespread delusions about the future. Huge numbers of people seem to believe that the future cannot be altered under any circumstances. You would think that this kind of Calvinistic drivel would be history by now, but it continues to thrive here in our postmodern world, most especially among the heavily educated. What kind of a lily-livered coward would want such a world? Well, Reality tells us that nothing about the future is set in stone. No matter how psychically gifted you are, no matter what kind of oracular tool you use, the future energies of your life cannot be predicted with 100% accuracy, since they are constantly in flux.

An interesting anecdote about predestination is provided by Anagarika Govinda in his Creative Meditation and Multi-dimensional Consciousness (1976):

It is the well-authenticated story of a man who, after having bought a ticket for a sea voyage, dreamt that the boat on which he was traveling caught fire and sank. He saw vividly all the details and his own part in the events, such as his efforts to save himself and others from the impending doom. The dream was so overwhelmingly real that he returned the ticket. A short time later he read in the papers that the streamer, on which he had booked his passage, had met with a disaster and that the things had happened exactly as he had dreamt--except with regard to his own person! If the future even had been unalterably fixed or existed in some "timeless dimension," he could not have changed his decision and escaped the impending fate.[51]
This man avoided catastrophe by the simple exercise of his free will, which is something we can all do every second of our lives. Over the years I have frequently compared what the cards have told me about the future and what eventually manifests, and I learned one clear lesson: the future is up for grabs. Nothing, but nothing, about our lives is predetermined. No matter how humdrum or unchanging your existence might appear, the daily choices you make about your life determine the kind of future you get. This means that you are free to change your destiny any time you like. This is not cheating fate, since fate doesn't exist in the first place.

So if you want a positive future, what you have to do is create it. Forget about using an oracular tool to get information about the future, and forget about sitting around waiting for your future to happen. It is far better for you to you focus on what's happening in the here and now and take steps to correct the negativity in your life, instead of daydreaming about how you might be living five years down the road.

If you plan carefully enough, nothing will go wrong with your future.

Illusion:

Murphy's Law doesn't apply to everyone, just to those pathetic idiots who don't attend personal development seminars. But that isn't you, you're different, you're smart, and you've paid a lot to money to learn how to control every square inch of your existence, so you just + know that you are going to get the best possible future.

Reality:

The idea that you can guarantee the kind of future you want is another widespread fantasy. There are a lot of determined careerists around these days who are carefully tracking every millimeter of the progress they make towards their assorted goals, which they are certain that they will eventually reach. When you devote huge amounts of time and energy to achieving success, that naturally means that you're going to get it, right?

When I first started reading cards for other people, I was surprised to discover that some clients wanted a blow-by-blow account of literally everything they expected to happen during the rest of their lives. Mind you, they expected to be told only good news. They wanted to hear that they were going to marry their current girl/boyfriend, raise two ecologically-sensitive and drug-free children, have a successful career, a nice house, and a comfortable Sun Belt retirement. Naturally they would not have to face that tiresome problem known as death until they were ninety-something and too old to care. Why they wanted to hear this kind of recital was difficult for me to understand, although I can now see its attractions. One of the most comforting illusions we can ever have is the idea that since we're so smart and so careful, nothing will go wrong with our life.

If only.

You will observe the presence of your inner Manipulation Demon in these fantasies, which is all they are. People who are certain that the right amount of control freakery will guarantee them a safe future are in denial about the Reality of our human existence. Unexpected surprises have been happening both to the human race as a whole and to each individual human being since the dawn of history. No matter how hard we try to manipulate all aspects of our lives, we can never achieve 100% control. No one can. If you think that careful planning, up to and including regular consultation of an oracle, will guarantee you the life you want, you had better think again.

Once you get into the future that you want, it will be unchanging.

Illusion:

Many people who dream about the future enjoy telling themselves that it is going to be some kind of frozen state of existence where nothing will ever again change in either space or time. This especially holds true for those people who are currently working towards a major goal in the near or medium future, such as getting married, earning the right degree, or finding the right job. Once that hurdle is crossed, your subsequent life will be smooth-sailing from then on and just totally free of challenges, difficulties, and speeding tickets.

Reality:

Yes, your life will change once you accomplish your goal, but then what? You are only going to discover more hurdles as you go on with your life. In our spacetime universe, nothing ever stops its endless becoming. The fact that your post-hurdle existence will keep evolving ought to tell you that you need to be extra careful when you make your choices. It never ceases to amaze me how many people immediately start spending money the moment they begin a new job since they just + know that the money is now going to start happening without a glitch. Well, the Reality of our world is that all things are in flux. When you tell yourself that your post-hurdle existence is going to be changeless, you are making a very bad mistake.

The future will be similar to the past.

Illusion:

We all just + absolutely + know that what's coming in the future will be similar to what has occurred in the past. What we've got now is pretty much what we will always have, since this is the way human history has always worked.

Reality:

Most of the time relying upon past experiences is a good thing. Nevertheless, you are in deep trouble if you think that the events of the past will help you to predict what's coming in the future. Unless you can open yourself to the possibility that something new might spontaneously appear out of nowhere, you are badly misjudging your circumstances. This especially holds true for our current 21st century mess, which is probably the first period in human history when the future is not going to have the slightest resemblance to human experience in the past. We will return to this topic later in the book.

It's wonderful to think about the future since the future is your friend.

Illusion:

When you just + know that you're doing everything right in your life, you enjoy thinking about that prosperous and enjoyable future you're going to have, since you also just + know that it's definitely going to happen.

Reality:

If you think that dreaming about the future is good for you, you had better think again. Focusing solely on an upcoming period of your life when you are theoretically going to have everything you ever wanted is the pits. You are not really alive: you're existing in fantasy twilight where nothing is real. And even worse: you will make no effort to exert yourself or change your life for the better. Of course, when the promised future doesn't arrive on schedule, no problem--you are content to do some more waiting. And then more, and even more. I've known elderly people who can only think about the good days to come, several months or years down the road. That makes for sixty or seventy years of not knowing how to live.

It's terrifying to think about the future since the future is your enemy.

Illusion:

The opposite of the above is going through your life scared witless about what might be coming at you in the future. After all, the world is a terrifyingly uncontrollable place! Anything might happen! And there's nothing you can do to stop it!

Reality:

Of course, thoughts like these always provide a thrillingly enjoyable masochistic wallow, but they are also a useless waste of energy. It's true that bad things might happen to you someday. Your job might evaporate, your house could burn down, or . . . there might even come a day when you cannot score your next fix! But you're crazy if you spend your time worried sick about what may or may not be coming in the future. Such thoughts tend to paralyze people into inactivity as much as fantasies about future wonderfulness.

The future is only going to last for another few hundred years, or something like that.

Illusion:

I have already mentioned that many people make a foolish mistake when they think about the future, namely that it will only last for another few hundred years or so. In other words, they are unable to think clearly about what eternity truly means. That endless enormity of time stretching out ahead of us just happens to be a terrifying thought, so much so that when we think about the future most of us focus only upon what might be coming in the next century or two, that supposedly predictable period when things are going to be pretty much the same as they are now--or so we assume. Those suckers who purchase an expensive tombstone seem to be particularly susceptible to this illusion. All the hard work you've expended in your life, all the glory you've accumulated, why it's not for nothing, it's not going to vanish into dust, you're going to erect a granite gravestone to your memory which will last forever, or at least until about the 23rd century or so. This will mean that you won't have really died--your human presence will remain on earth as long as the future is going to last. Such thoughts are probably the only comfort to those millions who go through their lives in utter terror of the grave.

Reality:

Eternity is going to last a little longer than the next few centuries. Who's going to remember your name after a hundred thousand years, or a hundred million? That expensive granite you're spending your money on isn't going to last much longer than your bones.

The present moment isn't as important as the future.

Illusion:

The present moment is nothing but a thin slice of meaninglessness trapped between the past and the future. This means that the present is usually something that needs to be got through until something interesting can happen, as in the next video or the next vacation. So why bother about it?

Reality:

What with their daydreams about the future, the one thing that most people never seem to notice is the present moment. But the present moment is the only Reality that we will ever know. In recent years many be-here-now thinkers have emphasized the importance of being fully aware in the present moment, which is all for the best. But they never seem to mention what I consider to be the most crucial aspect to awareness of the present:  it's never just enough to live in the present--you've got to do your best to enjoy it as well. Says the Sanskrit poet Kalidasa (4th century CE):
For Yesterday is but a Dream,
And To-morrow is only a Vision;
But To-day well lived
Makes every Yesterday a Dream of Happiness,
And every To-morrow a Vision of Hope.
Look well therefore to this Day![52]

* * *


So much for illusion and reality about the future. But where does that leave us with the predictive questions we wish to ask our oracular tool? My experience has told me that there are two kinds of predictive questions we can ask the cards: either we ask about an event which may or may not take place in the future, or we can ask about a future state of being. Both types now need to be discussed.

The first, asking a question about a future event is easy, if not very reliable. The problem here is that over the years my tarot cards have always been least accurate when I asked a predictive question about an upcoming event, and the more far-off the event, the greater the inaccuracy. You can, if you wish, sit down with your oracle and ask if you will be able to retire to Arizona in thirty years. Then you can make a note of the response and check it periodically over the next three decades. But this kind of silliness would be a complete waste of your time. Chances are that by the time you reach retirement age so many other things might have happened to you that your youthful desire to move to Arizona might no longer have any meaning.

But asking a more short-term predictive question of an oracle also doesn't work very well. Here's an example of what I mean. Several years ago the supervisor of my unit at work had retired, and one of the unit's other administrators was put in temporary charge. This woman was a typical bureaucratic professional whose preferred method of motivating colleagues and subordinates was by turning scarlet and exploding with fury. It was obvious that if she became the permanent administrator of my unit, I would have to find another job.

The decision to hire for the permanent position wasn't going to be happen for another ten months. I decided to ask the cards once a month to see if someone other than Madam Tantrum would get the job. To my dismay, during the first four months when I asked this question, the cards told me that no external candidate would be hired. But then there was a shift. After the fifth month the cards started to indicate that someone new would come in, and this is what eventually happened.

So you could say that for a four-month period the cards were giving me inaccurate information about a situation which mattered very deeply to me. But that isn't quite right. It is more correct to say that the cards were not giving me accurate information about the future since it was not settled. When she first assumed her temporary position, Madam Tantrum had a lot of supporters, but after four months of flare-ups she had alienated even her most loyal followers. This experience was a valuable lesson to me about predicting a future event. What the cards were picking up on in this situation were the energies of the present moment and their most likely movement into the future. They were showing me potentials, not facts. I have since come to realize that as far as future event questions go, this is the only thing you can ever expect an oracle to give you. Every situation has the potential to move not just in one but in several different directions.

But if you stick to the short-term, you can at least some of the time get accurate answers. Here are some suggestions of helpful predictive questions:

Monthly safety questions.

One thing I've learned to do over the years is sit down with the cards on the first day of the month and ask a predetermined set of health and safety questions about the next four to six weeks. I would definitely recommend that you start doing this as well. Here are the kinds of questions I ask:

Monthly health questions.

I also think it is an excellent idea for everyone to ask a set of health-related questions at the beginning of each month:

Monthly general questions.

And it doesn't hurt to ask more general predictive questions at the start of every month as well: What you should do if you get a NO response about these kinds of safety or heath issues will be discussed further on.
 

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There is a second kind of predictive question we can ask, namely about a future state of being. For example, we can ask about our career or business choices, our marriage plans, or a new residence. Granted that we are asking questions about the long-term, but my experience tells me that we can get very accurate answers to these kinds of questions. If a potential job or relationship is currently giving out nothing but negative energies, our oracle will tell us so in a flash. These kinds of questions can usually be categorized as plan-of-action questions, which brings us to our next category:

Plans of Action

One of the most frequent ways in which we fallible human beings constantly fall flat on our faces is through our best laid plans. Well, asking an oracle to confirm a plan of action before we initiate it can at least diminish the disasters from happening, although it will not eliminate them altogether. Like all the other questions we have discussed so far, these kinds of questions should be confirmational. But this time things get more complicated. Chances are that by this point my readers are dying to sit down with an oracle and ask it about everything they want to do to live a more successful life. It's not time for that, not just yet. Before you ask a plan-of-action question of an oracle, you need to take several preliminary steps:

You first need to ask about the contingent aspects of your proposed plan of action.

Let us suppose that Anthony has concluded that he and his girlfriend Sarah should get married. He has thought about their relationship as logically as he can, and he has concluded that the two of them will have a successful marriage. This is the common conclusion which most people reach on the brink of matrimony, but which is also not always the correct one, as the 50% American divorce rate tells us. But before Anthony asks his oracle to confirm that a marriage between Sarah and him will work, he needs to identify every minor issue about his relationship that he can think of and ask his oracle about each one of them first. Examples of preliminary questions Anthony should ask his oracle would include: Another example would be Robert, who is debating whether to accept a job offer in Vermont. Before he asks his oracle whether he should accept the new position, he first needs to ask questions like these:

A third example is Susan, who has an idea for a new startup and wants her girlfriend Natalie to go into business with her. But before she asks her oracle if the new business will be successful, she needs to know:

You probably get the idea by now. You need to make a list of every issue which might come up after you're married and ask the cards about each one of them. Only then should you ask your oracle the Big Question.

Here we go with the summum bonum thing again.

The next thing to consider about a plan-of-action question is making sure that your proposed plan does not disrupt the quantum field in any way. Huh? Am I kidding? As a good entitlement-addled American, you will want to focus on how your proposed plan will affect you alone, just as if you were some kind of isolated entity alone in the universe. For example, if you are thinking about establishing a new business, you will probably want to ask your oracle if the business will be successful, not whether it will put positive energies into the universe. Well, it might start making money, but if it also wreaks havoc in the natural flow of energy, there is no way it will deliver your expected happiness.

We're back to that crappy Dead White European Male named Cicero again, and his idea of the summum bonum. I have already explained that you need to set the summum bonum as the intent of every single oracular consultation you do. Now I'm telling you that as far as your plans of action go, you also have to make sure that they include the idea of the summum bonum as well. Don't forget that any plan of action which you wish to implement is going to impact all the energy fields of the universe, up to and including the stars on the other side of the Milky Way. There have been numerous times in my life when a proposed plan of action seemed perfect for me, but when I asked the cards about it, they refused to agree. It finally dawned on me that I always needed to consider how my proposed plan might affect not me, but Indra's Net as well. If you are certain that a proposed plan of action will be a successful one, but your oracle keep telling you that there's something wrong, you can bet your sweet ego-gratification that the problem isn't the oracle--it's your plan. Something about your proposed intention is selfish, demon-based, bad for the universe, or otherwise really really negative.

Let's go back to Anthony, Robert, and Susan. After Anthony has received positive responses about his preliminary oracular questions, it is now time for him to ask his big question. But instead of asking:

he needs to say:

Yes, Anthony--as much as you dislike the idea, this is how you have to phrase your question. There is a possibility that while your marriage might be good for the two of you, it might also wreak havoc with other people in your environment, or maybe in the next galaxy. The astounding number of toxic power couples to be found in our collapsing culture proves that one easily enough. Unless you also consider the impact which your new relationship will have upon other energy fields, your oracle won't help you in the slightest.


Robert would ask:

Susan would ask:

Ouch. I know. Oh, brother . . . if this idiot thinks that somebody in Outer Mongolia cares if Sarah and I get hitched, she'd better think again. Nope. She isn't going to think again. It's never a case of just Me, but Me + Universe. You are it, and it is you. Fortunately, if you do manage to keep this in mind, I can guarantee that your success and happiness will just start happening, regardless of any kind of plan of action that you wish to implement.

Informational

We are now going to examine the best kinds of informational questions to put to our oracles. There are two kinds of informational questions we can ask. The first is easy enough. As you go through your days, you will find it helpful to get accurate information about these kinds of situations:

These kinds of questions might seem to be trivial, but you will learn that if you take the time to run them past an oracle before you take action, your life will start going much more smoothly.

The second way an oracle can help us with informational queries concerns our efforts to determine that celebrated something called the plain honest truth. Alas, we live in a world where a huge percentage of humans constantly inflict dishonesty upon other people as they go through their lives, and the more sociopathic they are, the bigger the whoppers. Not that they're ever troubled by their actions, of course, since they always have a good excuse why the fib has to happen. And thanks to the ever-present cognitive biases of the rest of us, it is frequently difficult for us to recognize a falsehood when we hear it, especially if it comes from someone to whom we are emotionally attached. Well, the sociopaths among us would not be able to get away with this in a world where everyone was psychic. Do you ever want to know what someone truly thinks of you? Or whether your employer is truly pleased with your work? Or if your kid actually intends to obey you? All you have to do is sit down with your oracle and ask:

Believe it or not, this will end a problem which has existed for millennia.

Money

We now get to consider oracular questions about our dearest friend the almighty dollar. However, this time no more Mr. Greed Demon! We are going to do something my esteemed reader probably thinks is impossible: examine the kinds of positive energy questions you can ask an oracle about money. That's right. There really are ways you can ask an oracle intelligent and practical questions about your money. As long as you don't bother about your eternal desire for MORE, your oracle can give you valuable financial information. I have already mentioned that there is only one kind of money which contains positive energy, the money which you've earned yourself. If you keep your focus on this kind of money, you can receive some very sound oracular advice, both about equity preservation and that pleasant little pastime known as shopping.

Equity Preservation

We will start with money management. Here I must acknowledge that I am a dedicated believer in equity. Going through life with a reasonable amount of savings just happens to be common sense and very positive energy. Equity means freedom, room to maneuver, and peace of mind. I've known too many mid-life people who continue to owe thousands of dollars on their mortgages or their credit cards, and the energies they put out into the world are not positive ones. We all need financial security and intelligent ways of managing it. So here are some initial suggestions about the kinds of equity questions you might want to put to an oracle:

Oh, uh, no . . . you don't want to ask questions like these. So let's try again:

Once again, you probably get the idea. And the more you do it, the better your chances that you will successfully preserve your equity throughout your life.

Shopping

So much for equity, what about spending? There are two issues to examine here: (1) whether your proposed purchase is filled with positive energy, and (2) whether it will fill you personally with positive energy. In other words, you first need to make sure that your potential purchase has been manufactured in an ethical way, and then that it will bring beneficial energies into your life. The first issue is dealt with easily enough. You need to ask a question like the following: Well, the above query is simple enough, but business is business, so don't be surprised when the answer you receive rules out the majority of items you wish to purchase. As for asking whether or not a product will fill you with positive energies, here are some examples: The blessing here is that, once again, with these kinds of questions most of the time your oracle is going to tell you NO. That's right, the NO's you're going to see will be a blessing. Over the years my tarot cards have repeatedly saved me from making a completely useless purchase time and again. Whenever I look back at the crap I once wanted to purchase, back in the day when I subscribed to the great American delusion of MORE, I can see that the cards were right. Of course it was always a bitter disappointment when those rotten little pieces of cardboard told me to forget the whatever I had my heart set upon, but when I finally realized that those NO's were handing me the summum bonum, I started to like it. The summum bonum just happens to be a very enjoyable sensation.

Still, as incredible as it seems, there will be times when your oracle will hand you a YES to a shopping question. If and when this happens, before you rush right out to make your purchase, one other condition needs to be in place first or else you're asking for trouble: you must actually possess the money to pay for what you desire. In other words, if you can't pay cash for your new thingy, or at least pay off your credit debt by the end of the month, forget it. The problem with spending your future money has already been discussed, but if you're still dumb enough to do it, your anticipated delight in your new object isn't going to happen. The only exception to this rule seems to be a home mortgage, but even that is something you should avoid if you can help it. If you are dumb enough to fill your environment with debt-encrusted purchases, I guarantee that there is no way that you will ever enjoy them. They will spew forth malevolent energy at you every time you come into contact with them.

Business or Career

By this point my business-oriented readers are probably dying to ask an oracle how to make their companies more successful. There are, after all, limitless numbers of questions you can put to an oracle about your business. Some of the more interesting ones might be the following:

What's that? You mean you don't like any of the above questions since they are all so obviously full of negative energy that you already know how an oracle will respond? You want some advice on how to ask real questions about your business, since you just + know it is full of good energy and throwing out positive energies into the universe. That's why it's so successful.

You'd better think again. The vast majority of businesses today, not just in the United States but in every country in the world, tend to wallow in a limitless swamp of malevolent energies. Needless to say, the bigger the company, the more negative the energies. The people who work for these companies walk around submerged in it and can't see their way into Reality for anything. As for the honchos running the show, their energy fields are so stuffed with toxicity that it's a wonder they don't topple over.

There is, of course, only one reason for all this negativity, namely our old friend the Greed Demon, along with his kissing cousin the Hardball Devil. Playing hardball to get the cash has been the rule and not the exception in this country since 19th century mustache-twirlers were robbing widows and orphans. It continues to be the dominant energy of the vast majority of 21st century businesses, no matter what kind of business it is, and no matter where it is located. Money and yet ever more money is its siren call. In order to make this wonderful money appear, good businesspeople are constantly compromising, cutting corners, operating a few little con jobs, producing shoddy products, ignoring safety concerns, bribing the authorities, indulging in bait and switch, and playing various other underhanded games--all for the sake of a phantom known as the bottom line.

Perhaps the most contemptible hardball game is called kowtowing before the despot. When American businesspeople are confronted with the demands of an overseas dictator, they jettison their beliefs in free speech, human rights, and democracy and proceed to acquiesce in whatever the tyrant demands. They did it with Nazi Germany in the 1930's, with the Soviet Union in the 1970's and 1980's, and they're doing it with China today. Not that good American businesspeople can admit to themselves that they've got as much blood on their hands as the thugs they're enabling. I'm sure they would rattle off excuse after excuse about their sweetheart deals, the biggie being that if they didn't do business with the tyrant, their competitors would. Yes, of course, so go in peace, and now as you walk the links you can keep the occupation of Tibet out of sight and out of mind.

What the honchos of these companies cannot understand is that no matter how record-breaking your quarterly reports, no matter how enormous your profits, no matter now brilliant your innovations . . . if your company is wreaking havoc in the quantum field, sooner or later it's going to crash right into the Studebaker mountain. On the other hand, if the head honchos would start to consult their oracles about every procedure, every initiative, every hire, and every major policy decision they make, things would be different. The most successful companies are always going to be the ones which are filled with Divine energies. So there is only one kind of question you need to ask an oracle about your company's success:

Government

So much for business--what about government? How can an oracle here there? Alas, chances are that the person currently reading this book is one of the lesser people in our American scheme of things and has no say in governmental decisions at any level. Probably the only way you can impact your government is by voting. So can an oracle help you here? Well, over the years I have occasionally asked my cards the following question:

This ought to be a perfectly reasonable question to put to an oracle. The problem is that whenever I have asked this question of the cards, all I get is a NO. Not once in twenty years have the cards approved of my voting for a particular candidate. Hmmmm. Well, obviously one of two things is going on here: (1) I'm not reading the cards correctly, or (2) there have not been any worthwhile candidates to vote for in the United States of America during the past quarter of a century. Meet the new boss, etc.

Well, of course (1) must be the problem, since (2) simply couldn't be possible. No, it just couldn't be possible. So I cannot recommend that you trust an oracle when you're trying to decide for whom to vote.

But here's an interesting fantasy: what would happen if the inhabitants of Versailles-upon-the-Potomac started to consult an oracle prior to initiating new legislation? Now wouldn't that really be something, especially since it is so easy to imagine what kinds of questions our dedicated public servants would ask:

Yes, I know--the above questions are a little too overly cerebral for the current inhabitants of Versailles-upon-the-Potomac. But that's okay. As a matter of fact, our politicians really need to ask only one simple little question of their oracles:

Wow. If this one marvelous question were put to an oracle before every legislative vote, think what a spectacular improvement it would make in the efficiency of our government. Our elected representatives would not have to read a bill before they voted on it, which doesn't happen any more anyway. They would simply consult their tarot cards to check on the energies of the pending legislation. Legislators would be able to see at a glance whether the proposed legislation was in harmony with the summum bonum and vote accordingly.

Yeah, right. In the meantime, as far as voting is concerned, I guess that we lesser people must continue to rely upon something which always lets us down: our best judgment. But maybe someday, somehow, our oracles might reveal that one of the candidates in our area is actually worthy of public trust. In a quantumly-cussed world, anything can happen.
 

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So much for formulating oracular questions. Have fun devising your own personal favorites. Just don't forget that your own personal energies are what you need to focus on, not the follies in the world around you.



Chapter 10. In Search of the Flash.


Things of a day! What are we, and what are we not? A dream about a shadow is man: yet, when some god-given splendor falls, a glory of light comes over him and his life is sweet.--Pindar, Pythian Ode VIII.


It is now time for you to reach for your tarot deck and start working with it. But before you take your brand-new deck into your eager little hands, you need to understand several things first. There is an art to working with your tarot cards, and if you want to practice this art with skill, you need to follow these recommendations.

Shuffling the cards.

The first thing to examine is how to shuffle the cards. What's important here is that it has to be you who does the shuffling and the pulling of the cards. In other words, your own personal energies need to interact with each and every card as they're shuffled. Nobody else can do it, and certainly not your pay-for-hire psychic. I've heard that some psychics think it is fine if they do the shuffling instead of the querent, but I cannot see how this would work. There have been times in my life when someone phoned me and asked me to shuffle and pull the cards to answer his question. I tried it a few times, until I realized that the answers were worthless.

But how long should you shuffle the cards? That's easy: as long as you like. A good time to stop shuffling is when the cards don't meld. But don't suffer under the delusion that a lengthy shuffling of the cards will give you the answer that you desire to see. There was once a time in my life when I thought that shuffling the cards for many long minutes would give me the much-desired YES response that I just had to have. This was a useless exercise in futility. It doesn't matter whether you shuffle your cards three or thirty times--you will never be able to force them to give you the answer you want.

What is known as the riffle or the faro shuffle has always worked best for me. You divide the deck in half, with one half placed in the left hand and one in the right. Then you riffle the edges of the cards with your thumbs so that the two halves are mixed together. Combine the two halves together and do it as many more times as you please. You will eventually get a good chaotic mix.

The riffle shuffle is not the only way to randomize the cards. You can also spread the cards before you as messily as possible and start to stir them as if you were stirring a pot of soup. Some people find the Smith deck too large to handle comfortably and stir the cards like this instead. I do this myself with my miniaturized Smith deck, and experience tells me that it works as well as a shuffle.

To reverse or not to reverse.

We now come to a complicated topic: whether or not to read reversals when you work with the cards. Many tarot practitioners do their best to create a mixture of reversed and upright cards as they shuffle their deck. This is easy enough to do: as you shuffle the cards, you should occasionally give the half-deck in one of your hands a clockwise or a counterclockwise turn, and then shuffle as usual. You can also turn the entire deck several times in either direction after completing your shuffle. You will end up with a nicely chaotic mix of upright and reversed.

However, some tarot writers don't like the idea of reversals and recommend that you read cards upright only. As for me, I can only urge you in the strongest possible terms to read the cards with reversals. There was a period early in my tarot practice when I did try to read all the cards upright, but it eventually dawned upon me that I was not getting helpful responses. Only when I started adding more chaos to the deck by reversing some of the cards as I shuffled them did the accuracy of my readings improve.

But why should reversals be necessary in a card reading? Well, let me tell you what you're going to start doing when you work with tarot. You're going to do your tidy best to twist the messages you get from the cards into what you want to see, instead of what they are actually showing you. Your tarot cards might tell you, as clearly and as distinctly as possible, that NO, you should not marry Luke, but if you are lost in a whirlpool of turbulent emotions, the minute your eyes make contact with the cards you turn over, you will do your best to twist their meaning into some kind of YES. Getting the Truth and recognizing it as Truth are two different things.

Not that you're alone in this. Over the years I have seen astrologers, psychics, tarot readers, healers, and other people who think they have a special intuitive talent for getting things right, getting them wrong time and again. Fortunately, as far as tarot is concerned, the cure for this problem is easy. You read reversals. In my experience, the only way you can prevent yourself from twisting an obvious NO response into a YES is with reversals. When the first card you turn over is reversed, and subsequent cards are as well, and when your tarot expert (me) tells you that this means your answer is a NO, you won't be able to persuade yourself that you are actually seeing a YES.

Pulling the cards.

Now we get to pull our cards. The trick here is that you should always pull the cards with your left hand. This is very old cartomancy guidance which happens to be excellent advice. Research has shown that when you use the muscles on the left side of your body, they stimulate the right side of your brain, and vice versa. So even if you are normally right-handed, you should pull the cards with your left hand. It's also best to turn a card over as soon as you pull it, instead of waiting until you complete your pull. But it doesn't seem to matter whether you turn a card over vertically or horizontally. What does matter is that you must let reversals remain upside down. I've had querents who pull a reversed card and then quite automatically turn it right side up, since they think they are seeing some kind of mistake. I always explain that the card wanted to appear reversed, and that this is how we will interpret it.

Pay attention when a card wants to be pulled.

When you become familiar with shuffling your cards, you will discover that sometimes one or more of them wants to be pulled. These are the ones which stick out or even jump out of the deck as you are shuffling. It also happens that sometimes when you pull a card, you discover that you've pulled more than one. All these cards want to you to look at them, so you should never stick them back into the deck. You should turn them over and pay particular attention to them.

Forget the spreads.

After you've pulled your cards, how should you arrange them before you? If you are familiar with traditional tarot practices, you will be aware that most experts recommend that you arrange your pulled cards into a pattern called a spread. This is almost universally considered to be a sacrosanct rule about cartomancy. You're not supposed to lay out the cards before you as you please--you’ve got to fit them into some kind of diagram. Card spreads seem to have been in existence as long as people have used cards as an oracle.

Well, I say the heck with tarot spreads. Defining spreads, analyzing spreads, tweaking spreads . . . all these time-wasters are about as helpful as a poke in the eye. The problem with tarot spreads is that the only thing they provoke is . . . thinking. You don't flash on the cards before you--you start thinking about what they mean in a certain position. Then you've also got to remember that the card you've turned over means one thing when it's next to one kind of card, but something else when it's beside another. Then you've got to recall which is which, and why didn't you pay more attention to that tarot spread book you were reading last summer, and surely it's not going to hurt to open up the book again right now since you're stymied about why you're seeing that card in that position, and all these permutations are surely necessary so you can figure out what the heck you're seeing, and . . . you end up as befuddled as a rapper trying to say something intelligent. Whoops, looks like you just lost your flash.

You need to pull only three cards to get an answer.

Here comes my next tarot heresy, namely that you only need to pull three cards to get a clear answer to your question. Just three cards? What kind of nonsense is this? Very practical nonsense, if you ask me. My experience tells me that three cards are enough to give you a comprehensible answer to any kind of oracular query. They will tell you a story, show you patterns and interconnections, and clearly indicate YES or NO. Also it is easier to flash upon the cards when you pull only a limited number. If you pull more than three cards for your answer, things will start getting complex, as in having to think.

How did I come up with a three-card pull? That's easy. When I first started learning tarot, I was thoroughly intimidated by everything I thought I had to learn, up to and including the spreads. Somehow I found one authority who told me that a good spread for beginners was a simple seven card pull: you extracted seven cards from the deck, lined them up one after the other, and you had your answer. There were no additional complications about what each position in the seven-card lineup was supposed to mean.

So I started to pull seven cards every time I asked a question. But after a while I noticed that by the time I had pulled the third card, I had my answer. The remaining four cards usually confirmed what the first three cards had told me. Eventually I simply stopped pulling the four final cards. I have stuck to pulling three cards at a time ever since, and it continues to work.

Then why don't I turn over only one card to get a response, instead of three? Because I've also learned that pulling only one card seldom gives me an accurate answer. There have been times when I've pulled a strongly positive card first, only to pull two very negative subsequent cards, which blow that positivity out of the water. This is why that at least for me, pulling only one card is never enough for a successful divination. Those pesky little NO cards enjoy nothing more than turning up as the second or third cards in a pull, thus dashing your hopes yet one more time.

So pulling three cards works for me, and it will probably work for you. But mind you, I am not recommending that you turn these three cards into some kind of spread. Some tarot authors will tell you that you can still play the what-the-spread-means game with three cards, as in thesis/antithesis/synthesis, or past/present/future, or maybe even Larry/Moe/Curly Joe. Forget it. The only thing you need to do when you turn over your three cards is flash on them.

The best possible card pull: three x three = nine.

Still, there have been times in my life when I've learned that a simple three card pull is not enough, especially if I'm asking about an important issue in my life, such as money or career. At such times I have learned that the best possible tarot pull consists of pulling nine cards, three at a time, over a three day period. In other words, when you ask your question for the first time, you pull three cards for the answer, then you wait twenty-four hours, shuffle the whole deck again and pull another three cards, wait a second twenty-four hours, and then shuffle and pull your final three cards. You pull a total of nine cards for your response, but you do it over a seventy-two hour period.

Am I kidding? Not a bit, since this kind of pull always gives me the most accurate answers, but only when I wait twenty-four hours between each pull. The cards need that amount of time for their energies to clear. Not twelve hours, not six hours, not five minutes: nothing less than twenty-four hours between questions, a night and a day. Doing a three-day reading works best because it gives you a chance not just to divine, but to do some thinking about what your oracle is telling you. It's true that you want to flash on a card the instant you turn it over, but after the flash happens, you need to think about what you've seen, especially if it's not what you expected.

Now I am aware that most of my readers won't like the idea of waiting twenty-four hours before they can ask the question a second or third time. But I have learned that there is an extra benefit to the waiting, namely that what you so intensely desire tends to grow less important with the passage of time, even just the passage of a single day. And if you're asking a plan of action question, something the very best thing to do in a particular situation is . . . nothing. Let the problem solve itself. Energies always want to return to harmony and will do so if you let them. If you give yourself seventy-two hours before you initiate a proposed plan of action, and if you make sure you get a confirmation about it three times in a row, your plan will succeed more often than not.

Still, even with a 3 x 3 = 9 reading, the pull you see on your first night will always be the most accurate. If you don't like the first response and feel you need to ask the question again, go ahead and do it, but chances are that your original pull will prove to be the accurate one.

A three x infinity card pull.

You can continue to ask a question as many times as you like, as long as you obey the rule about waiting twenty-four hours between readings. There was one period in my life when I pestered the cards for several months about a relationship which I desperately wanted to resume. This was the sort of situation where Little Miss Moron sits around the house every Saturday night for half a year just in case he might call. In all the months that I asked the question, perhaps only once or twice did I see something positive. What I usually got instead were the kinds of reversed or negative energy cards which equaled a big fat NO. Of course the cards eventually proved correct--the relationship was dead. Now I can see that repeating the question for several months was a necessary thing for me to do. When you get an answer you don't want to see about something of vital importance in your life, you will fight it as hard as you can. Getting a NO reinforced night after night for weeks at a time is frequently the only way it will penetrate a very thick skull.

And it is no exaggeration to state that the skulls of most human beings happen to be very thick. If you get an oracular NO about something which matters very deeply to you, chances are that you will blow it off if you see it only once, particularly if you're still not convinced that oracles can be trusted. On the other hand, if you ask the same question night after night, for dozens or even hundreds of nights, and get a NO response more than 95% of the time, I guarantee that those NO's will eventually start to penetrate.

So if the cards start telling you something you don't want to hear, don't feel bad if you have to ask the same question of your oracle for weeks or even months. If you're a confirmed frankenperson desperately clinging to your substance of choice, the NO you see won't penetrate after only one reading. After fifty NO readings, things will be different. And the thinking you will be doing between seeing the NO's will help you understand why you are seeing them.

What if you can't wait twenty-four hours to ask the question a second time?

You grit your teeth and accept the answer you got from your first pull. It was probably the right answer, anyway.


* * *


All right, so now we know how to shuffle and pull the cards. So what's next? Obviously it is now time to figure out what the cards are saying to us, right? Oh, goody, goody! Now she's finally going to tell us what-the-cards-mean! Now stop it. Haven't you got it through your head yet that card meanings only rarely matter in divination? Whenever you turn a card over, you don't want to think about its meaning, let alone ponder, deliberate, or clutch your head in hope of enlightenment. That ego thingy called a thought would annihilate your Divine revelation in a split-second. On the other hand, if you can mindlessly flash on a card the second your eyes see it, you will usually get the Truth.

What we now need to discuss is the art of the flash. The single thing you want to experience when you turn over a card is an ectropic burst of meaning. Don't forget that this has always been a very efficient way for us humans to get a communication from the Divine. Why do you think Zeus kept tossing out his thunderbolts and lightning? To generate rain? He must have realized that a bolt from the wild blue yonder was the only way he could get through to the blockheads down below. If you are truly after Divine energy when you divine, sometimes you need to get completely knocked out of your head. The bigger the knock, the better.

Still, I can understand if my esteemed reader doesn't like the idea of a flash. A flash is something which can never be manipulated into being. If you want to truly experience it, you have to do what is the ultimate horror for Nurse Ratcheds the world over: you have to let it happen. Good American that you are, this is the last thing you want to do, right? You were raised by control freaks, you were taught by control freaks, you interact daily with control freaks, and you can't help being a control freak yourself. Now that you're eager to consult an oracle, your inner Manipulation Demon is lusting after a carefully calculated divinatory experience.

Ain't gonna happen.

But cheer up. This is going to be one time when it will be easy to ditch Mr. Manipulation, but not because of anything you might consciously do. The mere practice of divination is one of the best ways to start freeing yourself from your ingrained frankenfreakery. Divination is based upon synchronistic energies, remember. When you start interacting with non-causal reality, you will discover that it can shift your entire energy field into new patterns of balance and harmony. In such an environment, Mr. Manipulation starts to sink beneath the vibes.

So if we can't manipulate a flash into being, how are we going to get one? Here are my suggestions regarding the art of the flash:

Empty your mind.

The first step is to clear out your mind of everything except the question you wish to ask your oracle. Forget the past, forget the future, and forget the fact that you're probably desperate to get a YES from your oracle. Relax into timelessness and do some breathing exercises if you have to. Flashes happen best in an empty sky--or an empty mind. Only when your mind is blank of everything except your question do you start to shuffle the cards.

When you turn a card over, notice how your body responds.

This is the key to the flash. The moment you make eye contact with an overturned card, your body will respond, and you need to pay attention to how it reacts. It has been my experience that my body responds in one of several different ways, as follows:

Your body is going to react most strongly to upright or reversed.

The one single thing that will scald your eyeballs when you turn over your first card is whether it is upright or reversed. Never mind the illustration, the colors, the suit, the shapes, or the figures. Upright or reversed will determine how your body will respond. Here are my general rules about upright or reversed cards:

The first card you turn over will usually give you your answer.

Many tarot writers suffer under the delusion that the last card you pull in a spread is the one that counts. This is the exact opposite from my own experience, which is that the first card you turn over is the card with the strongest zing and will probably give you the answer to your question.


* * *


The above directions, believe it or not, are all that you need to know about the art of the flash. But the catch here is that a flash is only going to happen when you turn over your first card. And you're not pulling just one card for your answer, are you? There are two more to go. Your yearned-for flash is only going to happen once during a reading, when you turn over the first card. You will still get a burst of either negative or positive energy when you turn over your second and third cards, but this energy is now entangled with the energy of the first card. And it's going to be all three cards together which will give you your answer, not just the first one. If you recoil at the first card you see but then pull two positive-looking cards, your body is going to remain tense regardless of the positivity of the second and third cards. And sometimes those two subsequent positive cards will overrule the first card's negativity.

But how do you interpret the second and third cards if you cannot flash on them? And what happens if you are too tense or worried to notice how your body is responding? At times like these you will do nothing but stare helplessly at the card you've turned over. Alas, as much as thinking is to be avoided when you turn over a tarot card, sometimes it needs to happen. No psychic without logic. So if you want to supplement your flash with some necessary thinking, then you're going to need some guidance about--

Oh, no! Not that! Not--what-the-cards-mean! No! I can't do it! I won't do it! Don't ask me to! You can't make me! Anything but that! Please!



Chapter 11. But You've Got to Tell Me What the Cards Mean!


Do not attempt to explain me; I cannot explain myself.--Walt Whitman.


I give up. You cannot work with tarot unless your all-seeing and all-wise author tells you what-the-goddamn-cards-mean. After all, you're still just a beginner! You've got to have somebody with more experience and wisdom than you've got to tell you the MEANINGS! That would be me, I guess. As if I can do it. As if anyone can. Please get it through your head one more time that the desire to have every square millimeter of Smith's illustrations explained to you reveals you to be a brain-dead Newtonian who's chronically out of balance with the quantum field. But that's not about to stop you, is it? I've just got to tell you what-the-cards-mean, even if it kills both me and you. Boy, do I ever not want to write this chapter, and do I ever not want you to read it.

Well, let's get it over with. But before we start to wade into this particular swamp, let me remind you that the only card meanings which I can give you are my own personal interpretations, which exist at one particular point in my life. This means that my current definitions are as fluid as everything else in my life, or in yours. If you make the mistake of memorizing my current version of what-the-cards-mean and using it for the next several decades, you don't have a prayer of successfully divining with tarot. This means that eventually you've got to (1) decide for yourself what-the-cards-mean, and (2) accept the fact that your definitions will evolve as the years go on.

So here we go. We will start by examining some of the patterns which can be found in the deck as a whole, as follows:

Numbers

In her deck Smith follows the time-honored tradition of putting numbers on both her major and minor cards. As far as the major cards are concerned, the numbers from 0 to 22 must have been helpful when tarot was played as a game, but they are irrelevant to successful divination. On the other hand, I believe that the numbers on the minor cards can help us to find meaning. Each minor card is numbered from one to ten, and these primal numbers each possess an archetypical energy which can be illuminating in divination. So when you pull a minor card, it helps to have some knowledge of its numerical meaning in your mind:

Classical Elements

Along with the numerical meaning, Smith also shows us the energies of the four classical elements of earth, air, fire, and water in the minor cards of her deck. I have long believed that the one thing which makes tarot a viable oracle is its alignment to these elements. My own experience tells me that the basis of our "physical" reality is not only mathematical, but in some way a manifestation of the number four. In this I am relying upon the philosophers of classical antiquity, particularly pre-Socratic philosophers such as Thales, Democritus, and Heraclitus, and their conclusion that all forms in the universe were manifestations of four types of energy.

The Greeks were not the only people to sense Reality as a kind of fourness. You can find this thinking in many other cultures, including Egypt, Babylon, Vedic India, Mahayana Buddhism, and pre-Columbian America. In the West the notion of the four elements influenced the thinking of early church fathers, alchemists, astrologers, and Renaissance philosophers, and it continues right into our own era. Quantum physics tells us that there are four measurable forces in the universe: strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force, gravity, and electromagnetism. There are also four primary chemical elements: carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen. And matter manifests in four states: solid, gas, plasma, and liquid. Carl Jung felt that we humans experienced the world through four kinds of energies: thinking (air), feeling (water), intuition (fire), and sensation (earth).[53] North, south, east, west . . . spring, summer, winter, fall . . . body, mind, soul, spirit . . . fourness everywhere you look. Our spacetime reality is quadripartite.

Still, it is a mistake to think that the energy of each of the four elements is limited to their "physical" manifestation. The primal element of earth, for example, was never considered to be just plain old dirt. It also represented the physical reality of our world: nature, sustenance, or even the human body. This makes sense to me, especially when you realize that ancient philosophers felt that these elements were spiritual forces working through matter. As for us postmoderns, when we start thinking about Reality in terms of the four elements, much about life and consciousness starts to make sense.

So what kinds of patterns or energies do the four classical elements represent in Smith's deck? My own interpretation of the four classical elements goes like this:

I also think that like all other energy complements, these four elements can balance each other out. Earth and water are yin energies, while air and fire are yang; fire harmonizes water, while earth balances air.

So how can these energies help you in divination? Well, if you pull several wands cards in a reading, you are probably seeing that there is some kind of spiritual issue in your life that you need to address, or that a spiritual solution will solve your problem. Sword cards might show a problem with intellect or communication. Cups would indicate that you need to release some excessive emotions, while pentacles might point to a problem with your physical health.

Numbers + Elements

The meanings of both the numbers and the four elements are now so firmly ensconced in my psyche that I always sense them the moment I turn over a minor card. Novice tarot readers probably need to reach this point as well. Yes, I am now telling you that you do need to rely upon something that you've memorized when you flash on a card. But I learned to work with the cards at the same time I began to study the numbers and the elements, and I cannot do it any other way. The thing to remember is that if you do absorb the basic meanings of the numbers and the elements as deeply as you can, you will still be able to flash on the card's primal energy the instant you encounter it.

At any rate, now that we have examined the patterns to be found in the deck, we can now move on to what you've been waiting for: explaining the cards. Out of the darkness into the light sort of!

Minor Arcana


All four Aces: In the first cards of each suit, we see a giant hand holding a large symbol as if it were a gift. Each hand is also radiating some kind of spiritual energy. I have always felt that these Aces are signs of new beginnings, fresh perception, or space opening up in your life. The Divine is handing us a chance for a new beginning in our lives, and we need to accept the blessing being offered.

Two of Swords: As has been mentioned, the heroine of this particular card is one of Smith's world class Stupid Idiots. She sits blindfolded and precariously balanced while trying to protect herself with a couple of weapons, even though there is no enemy in sight. And why is she wearing a blindfold? She doesn't have to if she doesn't want to, but she obviously wants to. Not much intelligence here, but it is an excellent illustration of what happens when you focus only upon what your inner demons want you to see.

Two of Cups: Here we see a man and a woman standing as equals and communing with each other. They are positioned underneath the ancient symbol of the caduceus, which is a sign of healing and balance. Both are wearing laurel wreaths, possibly symbolizing some kind of emotional victory.

Two of Wands: This illustration gives us one of the most sublimely beautiful landscapes in the deck. We see a prosperous man gazing out at a vast distance of sea and mountains, and the world is his oyster.

Two of Pentacles: Here we see a lively young person holding two pentacles which have come together to make the infinity symbol. There is a lot of emotional turmoil indicated in the choppy water behind him/her, but our figure doesn't care--s/he is balanced between eternity and physical reality.

Three of Swords: We see three swords piercing a large red heart, with rain falling against a cloudy gray sky. There is no human figure to be seen in this card--only a disembodied heart in distress.

Three of Cups: This is the jump for joy card and one of the happiest images in the deck. The fact that the three figures are harmoniously interacting with each other tells us that this is a card about the joys of friendship.

Three of Wands: This card is very similar to the Two of Wands--we see a lone figure gazing out at a huge expanse of land and sky, where only the sky is the limit.

Three of Pentacles: We see three figures involved with some kind of construction, with one workman pausing for a moment in his toil. When you do a skillful job, you are filled with Divine energy.

Four of Swords: Here we see a stone carving of a deceased human being whose hands are clasped in prayer. It is not an unpleasant image, but something seems to be askew. Perhaps the message is that we should never let our thoughts freeze into stasis. Complete mental tranquility is possible only when you're dead.

Four of Cups: This card shows us a smaller version of the Divine hands we see in the Aces. This time we see a human on the receiving end of the offer, but he has crossed his arms and legs in the best sulking-teenager manner possible.

Four of Wands: This is another pleasant image of rejoicing. The interesting thing about this card is that it is the only card in the Minor Arcana where the symbols are larger than the human figures. The people are positioned much further back in the landscape, completely dwarfed by the energy about which they are rejoicing.

Four of Pentacles: As has been mentioned, this is one of the funniest Stupid Idiots in the whole deck. Our hero is so obsessed with his pentacles that he seems to have plastered them to his body.

Five of Swords: This is one of the most unpleasant illustrations in the deck. Everything is wrong about this scene--the isolation of the figures, the disruption in the sky and the water, and the barrenness of the landscape. Smith has found a perfect way to illustrate that illusion called Otherness.

Five of Cups: This illustration gives us self-pity personified. We see a faceless figure bent over with grief. But it's hard to feel sympathy for someone who is not behaving very intelligently. It's true that three of his/her cups have spilled on the ground, but two still remain upright.

Five of Wands: Here we see a bunch of Stupid Idiots clobbering each other with their wands. No rhyme or reason to be seen, just mindless pandemonium.

Five of Pentacles: If you've been wondering what the human race looks like in the second decade of the 21st century, here you have it: two suffering people staggering blindly through illusion and oblivious to the spiritual assistance which is theirs for the asking.

Six of Swords: This card shows us three faceless figures moving slowly across water. They are making progress as they go forward, but their body language screams glumness.

Six of Cups: Here we see a couple of kids standing before a grand Olde Englishe house and garden. The older boy is handing a bouquet to the girl. It is a vision of gentle communion.

Six of Wands: This is an image of a triumphant human being sitting astride a magnificent horse. The people around him seem to be using their wands to cheer him on.

Six of Pentacles: This card shows a merchant holding a balance with one hand and distributing alms with the other.

Seven of Swords: Here we have a fun fellow who's going nowhere fast.

Seven of Cups: The principal figure in this card is a featureless silhouette, which makes him the only dematerialized human in the deck. And what is this phantom doing? He is gazing at a bunch of fantasy cups floating in the sky, most of which seem to promise some kind of pleasure.

Seven of Wands: The figure in this card is trying to fend off some kind of wands attack from below, but he doesn't look too successful.

Seven of Pentacles: I always think of this as the take a breather card. Our hero has managed to create a huge pile of pentacles and is now pausing to look at them.

Eight of Swords: The heroine of this card gives a visual illustration of one of the most important themes in this book: the Comfort Zone. What's that? You don't think that your precious Comfort Zone looks like this? Then what do you think it looks like? Some kind of rec room complete with recliner, beer, pizza, and twenty-foot flat screen? Don't be so unimaginative. A Comfort Zone comes into existence whenever someone covers up her eyes so she won't see anything she doesn't want to see. Then she does her best to remain forever bound to her static thoughts. What else is happening in this card? You will observe that our heroine is bound with only a few flimsy fabric rags, so she could escape it any time she likes. But she is not about to do that, right? Living is easy with eyes closed.

Eight of Cups: Here we see a solitary figure trudging away from a row of cups, with a glum-looking moon in the sky. There is a lot of water to be seen, which probably means that this view is weighted down with emotional overload. Our hero is doing the right thing by walking away from it, but at the moment his emotions are a horrific burden, and the moon isn't giving him any help.

Eight of Wands: Here we have another of the peopleless images in the deck--we see eight wands flying or perhaps falling through the air.

Eight of Pentacles: Here we see a craftsperson who is hard at work making pentacles. Since the pentacle is a symbol of life, we are perhaps being told that the most ordinary of our daily work can be spiritual enriching.

Nine of Swords: This is obviously an unhappy image of sleeplessness and worry. It shows us one of the few enclosed spaces in the deck, which is not a fun place to be.

Nine of Cups: The meaning of this card has shifted for me over the years. Once I thought that it was an image of positive energy showing a guy happily content with his collection of cups. Nowadays I see nothing but self-indulgence. This Stupid Idiot is a confirmed attention-whore who has lined up his trophy emotions for everyone to see, since for some reason he thinks they're interesting.

Nine of Wands: The bandaged figure in this card is standing alone and wary, and he looks as though he is anticipating some kind of new fight. So while nothing is happening at the moment, it is time for vigilance.

Nine of Pentacles: This is an image of a serenely contented woman with a beloved bird companion, both of whom are standing in the full glory of the natural world.

Ten of Swords: Here we have one of the more horrific images in the deck: some poor chump has gotten no less than ten swords stuck in his back. But as I've already discussed, no blood is to be seen, and he's making a spiritual gesture with his hand. Somehow he's done these injuries to himself.

Ten of Cups: Two adults and two children are dancing with happiness at the sight of a cup-enhanced rainbow in the sky, which is as positive as an image can get. Rainbows were once seen as a bridge between heaven and earth, and in this card the colors in the sky display greatly benevolent energy.

Ten of Wands: There is no earthly reason for this Stupid Idiot to lug around ten whole wands if he doesn't want to, but obviously he wants to. World class moron time.

Ten of Pentacles: Here we see prosperity, human interaction, and the glory of the physical world, which includes our beloved canine companions.

Court Cards.

Once upon a time when you went trotting off to your friendly neighborhood fortune teller, she would be pleased to inform you that the court card you had just pulled represented a real human being, more specifically a person who was going to come into your life. Pulling the King of Diamonds/Coins/Pentacles in a reading, for example, usually meant that an older man with money was about to appear, a thought which must have been balm to thousands of spinster ears, especially the ones who yearned to get their hands on somebody else's cash. As for me, I don't know how many times I've pulled the King of Pentacles over the years, but mercifully I've never had to deal with any kind of tedious fat cat appearing in my existence. While a court card can on occasion represent a particular human being in your life, I have learned that there is a better way to interpret these cards, specifically as manifestations of energy.

Like most other tarot decks, Smith gives us four court cards in each suit: King, Queen, Knight, and Page, and I feel that each figure represents a distinct kind of energy. If you think of the King and Queen of each suit as representing the Daoist idea of yang and yin, the active and the receptive energy of the element, the figures start to make sense. The King of Wands, for example, would indicate some kind of active or creative spiritual energy, while the Queen of Swords would manifest as receptive intellectual energy. The Knights are all riding horses, which indicates some kind of energetic forward movement, while the four Pages are standing completely still next to some kind of precipice, although they don't seem to be aware danger lurks. In one way or another, these inexperienced kids are miscalculating the energies of their environments. So while the Pages might indicate some kind of new beginning, they are also a warning to watch your step.

The Page of Swords: He's armed and ready to do battle--against the wind, apparently. Sweetie, I guess you're just too young to realize that the wind can be your friend.

Page of Cups: This kid has got a fish popping up out of his cup, but for some reason that doesn't seem to surprise him. The fish seems perfectly friendly and looks like it wants to talk.

Page of Wands: Our Wands hero is clutching a perfectly lovely wand but needs to pay attention to the rest of the world around him.

Page of Pentacles: This page is holding up his pentacle with the greatest reverence, but it seems to be so insubstantial that it rests lightly on the tips of his fingers.

Knight of Swords: Here we have another world-class Stupid Idiot. This loser is charging thoughtlessly forward with sword upraised and visor lifted, which is a perfect recipe for disaster. His horse is so appalled at his rider's behavior that he's looking backwards instead of forwards, which makes for a double disaster. 

Knight of Cups: This is a more rational image of a horse and rider moving forward as a harmonious unity.

Knight of Wands: This duo is moving forward as carefully as the Knight of Cups.

Knight of Pentacles: As has been mentioned, this particular knight is one of the Stupid Idiots of the universe. He's been stuck in one spot for so long that his horse has leaves growing out of his ears.

Queen of Swords: At all times and under all circumstances this queen means NO. She's telling us that being overly receptive in your thinking turns you into one of the most negative energy fields in the universe.

Queen of Cups: This Queen is so bewitched by the beauteousness of her desires that she's sinking into nothingness.

Queen of Wands: Spiritual receptivity has made this queen a model of serenity and grace.

Queen of Pentacles: This queen sits in a bower of bliss under a clear blue sky, with the largest pentacle in the deck comfortably positioned in her lap.

King of Swords: This king is staring at you straight in the face because he wants to communicate with you.

King of Cups: This king has a careful handle on his emotions and can sit in rock solid contentment despite the watery chaos which surrounds him.

King of Wands: This king is a spiritual visionary. He isn't interested in looking at us but at the source of his inspiration, his wand.

King of Pentacles: This king sits amid the glorious richness of the earth, accompanied by one unforgettable armadillo.

Major Arcana

We now come to the twenty-two cards of the Major Arcana. Unlike other tarot explicators, I am not going to discuss the majors according to their numerical order--I will instead rank them according to the strength of their energies. And the one card with the strongest energies is . . .
 

The Hanged Man. Yes, as far as I'm concerned, the Hanged Man is nothing less than the key to tarot as a whole, as well as the one card which can convey to you the most optimal energy you can experience in your life. This card? Am I kidding? The Hanged Man doesn't exactly show us a fun situation. We see a young person with his hands behind him hanging upside down by one leg, with the second leg bent and crossed behind the first. This is positive energy?

Well, take a closer look. There is obviously no sign of distress on our hero's face--as a matter of fact, he's got a halo, which means that he is filled with Divine energy. The frame from which he is suspended is showing plenty of living greenery, and behind him is the vast eternity of an empty sky. So what does it all mean? I think that the clear message to be found here is that of egolessness.

And egolessness just happens to be the best kind of energy you can experience in your life for one simple reason: only when you can detach from your ego will you ever be able to absorb the energies of the Divine. But as usual, this isn't something that you want to hear, right? Especially if you're a Westerner. The annihilation of the human personality which you find in Eastern spiritual systems has always been troubling to us more logically-minded Occidentals. It is also difficult to say what good this annihilation has done during the past several millennia. Why should you bother to assert yourself or stand up against injustice if there's no you in the first place? Long live the Western ego, at least when it occasionally takes some action! But when the Western ego turns into a would-be Faust who wants to wallow in power and pile up the treasures of the earth, there's a problem.

Well, in my opinion, there is a practical way to reconcile the two. Even if you cannot manage complete ego surrender, what you can do is start cultivating is the idea of a permeable ego. This is not the complete annihilation of your human personality, but a way to relax your boundaries. A better way to describe it might be the idea of an ego flux--a constant movement between the receptive ego, which can lose itself in the sound of a concerto or the light of the stars, and the creative ego which can transmute the experience into art. It is a practical compromise between East's annihilation of the ego and the West's Dr. Faust.

If and when you can manage to generate this kind of energy, you will discover that there is nothing more thrilling than occasionally stepping out of your conscious self and surrendering to whatever is before you in the present moment. Absolutely and utterly surrendering. Not just noticing something, mind you, but becoming absorbed by it, melting into it, becoming so enraptured with it that your self-consciousness evaporates into air. This isn't necessarily a lessening of your own being but more of a growth or an expansion, the way a seedling moves both downwards into the soil and upwards into the air. I've learned that these moments can be especially precious when you can surrender to the little things of the natural world: the gold of the morning sunlight, or the chill of the first autumn breezes, or the fragrance of a blossoming flower.

Indeed, these moments can even be considered the ideal state of consciousness. It is, after all, a poetical state of consciousness, where rhythm, harmony, and perception are what matters. In one of his letters John Keats says that the

. . . poetical character . . . has no self--it is everything and nothing--it has no character and enjoys light and shade; it lives in gusto, be it foul or fair, high or low, rich or poor, mean or elevated--it has as much delight in conceiving an Iago as an Imogen. What shocks the virtuous philosopher delights the camelion Poet . . . A Poet is the most unpoetical of anything in existence, because he has no identity, he is continually filling some other body.[54]

Filling some other body . . . in other words, forget your ego with its endless desires and start merging with another energy field, whether sentient or not. Become one with your cat, or the maple tree beside the garage, or an oddly shaped stone, and you will find yourself in a new and better reality: hanging upside down with a halo.

The Lovers. Next we come to the first of the three angel cards in the deck, which are the Lovers, Temperance, and Judgement. My recent experiences with angelic beings had led me to reevaluate these three cards, which I now consider to be the most powerful cards in the deck after the Hanged Man. In the Lovers we see a male and female figure standing beneath an enormous and quite colorful angel in the sky. This angel is conveying some kind of message to the man and woman below, who are receiving it with open hands.

Temperance. The Temperance card gives us an angel who is not quite standing on solid ground: one foot is lightly touching the earth while the other is immersed in, but not sinking into, the water. The background is a harmonious natural landscape with no trace of human civilization, except for a winding road which leads off into the distance. Red feathers speak of richness, while the rising sun is giving us a new beginning.

Judgement. This is the card of resurrection. We see three people rising out of their watery coffins and returning to life, thanks to the burst of spiritual/musical energy coming at them from the sky. It's interesting to see that these people have not been buried in the earth but in the water, the most purifying of all the elements.

The Wheel of Fortune. This card is also a kind of angel illustration since we see four small winged beings located in the corners of the picture. This time the angels are depicted as representatives of the four elements. They are also the only figures in the deck who are engaged in the act of reading.

But the focus of this card is the floating wheel in the center of the illustration. Historically the Wheel of Fortune could indicate a shift either for the better or the worse in your life. However, my experience of this card has always indicated some kind of positive forward movement, which is happening here thanks to the winged beings who surround it. The fact that these beings are reading might be a sign that if you want to move forward in your life . . . learn something! As for the meaning of the critters perching on the wheel, I don't have a clue.

The Star. The Star gives us an astounding vision of light, grace, and beauty. The figure is balanced between the earth and the sky and is moving harmoniously with natural energies. As above, so below.

The Sun. In the Sun card everything is bursting with joy: the happy kid, the cheerful horse, the radiant sunflowers, and the benevolent sun shooting out rays in every direction. I especially like the kid in this card, who is having more fun than any other figure in the deck. He is also, by the way, wearing the same feather that we see on the head of the Fool. Whatever can be the deep occult mystical metaphysical connection between the two? Probably that Pixie couldn't resist inserting another of her jokes into a card where there only thing that matters is fun.

Justice. Here we see the cosmic harmony of rta made visible. Smith's illustration of Justice is conventional in that she holds up the two symbols which have been associated with her since Roman times: the sword and the balance. But as far as I'm concerned, this card also shows us something more important that that: we see nothing less than the quantum field returning to balance after a disruption. If you've been curious about what rta actually looks like, now you know.

The Emperor. The Emperor is the card of male secular energy. He sits solidly in a barren environment from which he seems to draw his strength. He doesn't notice the blazing sun or the intense heat since he has the kind of disciplined energy necessary to get things done.

The Empress. The Empress shows us female secular energy. She is shown as a figure of fertility in a lush natural landscape and is displaying a crown made out of starlight.

The High Priestess. The High Priestess is the card of female spiritual energy and shows us the positive aspects of intuition. She doesn't need to read the scroll in her hands since she already possesses the wisdom she needs within her, which is why the crescent moon has taken up residence beneath her foot.

The Moon. The High Priestess is not the only moon card in the deck--she is complemented by the Moon card. This card shows a more negative kind of intuitive energy:  we see a dog and a wolf, plus two forlorn towers and a road leading off into the distance. The moon above this scene is so off-kilter that it is showing several of its aspects at the same time. This is the proverbial hour between the dog and the wolf, which is not a fun place to be.

The Hierophant. This card also complements the High Priestess, but here we see male instead of female spiritual energy. It is organized spiritual energy, the kind that comes from long study and rational thinking.

Death. Next come three negative energy cards: Death, the Tower, and the Devil. My experience has been that the overload of black ink in these illustrations always makes them NO cards (unless an upright angel card subsequently appears in the reading). We will start with Death, since this card is the most cringe-inducing illustration in the deck. Newbies at tarot are always assured that Death never means, uh, you know--death, the end of our "physical" selves. I agree with this: I have pulled the Death card many times in my life, but it was never once connected to someone's passing. Still, it's always a jolt to turn this card over and get a reminder of human mortality right there before your eyes.

But in case you haven't noticed, neither coffin nor grave are on display in this card. So we're not necessarily dealing with human mortality here. The message of the card is much simpler: it is time for you to kill something off in your life in order to make room for something new. You cannot buy a whole new wardrobe unless you clean out your closet first. This card is also saying that change is occasionally necessary in our lives, or else we will never be able to move into the light. The transition does not have to be abrupt but can move forward at a slow and leisurely pace.

We should also note that Death displays the red feather shown on the Fool and the Sun cards. Now what on earth does that mean? Perhaps this third appearance of the feather is Pixie's way of telling us not to take the Grim Reaper all that seriously. She couldn't resist having a little fun with Death, the way she has fun with everything else.

The Tower. Here we see lightning striking some kind of tower, with two hapless souls crashing to the ground. I like to think that this is what happens when our Comfort Zone crashes into pieces. Sometimes we need a blast from above to jolt us out of our negative energy. It might not be pleasant, but it is necessary.

The Devil. I have already discussed this funniest of Pixie's cards, so I have little more to add here. The main thing to remember when you pull the Devil is that laughter is the best way to free yourself from your obsessions. And since there has never been one single sentient being in the history of the universe who has found happiness from an obsession, you should always welcome the card when you see it.

The Fool. We've made it though the blackness--now we come to two cards of new beginnings: the Fool and the Magician. The Fool is a card of starting fresh if ever there was one. It is also a freedom card, a lesson in how to break the rules but still survive, which is something that can happen to anyone who practices divination. Our hero is so carefree that he couldn't care less that he's about to step off a cliff. Perhaps he understands that the leap he's about to make is full of limitless potential.

The Magician. The figure in this card is channeling Divine energy so triumphantly that we can almost see the power flowing through him from heaven to earth. He is using the symbols of the four elements to manifest some kind of spiritual reality, while at the same time he is surrounded by fertile natural energies.

Strength. Here we see a female figure who is gently prying open the mouth of a very cooperative lion. Both woman and feline exist in a gorgeous natural landscape, and our heroine seems to be so much a part of the natural world that she's got flowers growing in her hair. As for the lion, he's got his tail between his legs, so he's not about to fight her off.

The Hermit. This figure seems to be standing at the summit of a mountain. There are other mountains in the distance, but he is not gazing at them, nor at the spiritual light of the lantern which he holds. His shut eyes and bowed head indicate that he has found what he was looking for within.


The Chariot. You get to tell me what this one means.

The World. This is another card of great power, but I am listing it as the last card since it is both an end and a beginning. Here we see a figure dancing in the empyrean and radiating the energies of joy, transcendence, and cosmic consciousness. Perhaps we are being told that when have reached a successful conclusion, it is time for music and dance.

* * *


Okay, all right, already. It's over. I've done it. I've explained, finally, what-the-cards-mean. Are you satisfied? What do you mean it hasn't helped? You still can't tell which card is supposed to tell you to break up with your girlfriend? Or which card wants you to buy a new house, or accept a new job, or stop eating a particular food? And you're still just dying to know which is the honey, you're full of shit card?

What an astounding surprise. What-the-cards-mean can never be enough to divine successfully with tarot. We now need to try something else: think!



Chapter 12. In Search of the Thought.


"I do not understand you," [Socrates] said; "the oracle requires an explanation."--The Symposium, by Plato.

Okay, now it is time to analyze what I have repeatedly told you doesn't work very well in divination: thinking about the cards you pull, specifically about the second and third cards you turn over in a reading. Well, sometimes the thinking has to happen. Granted that your initial flash is usually going to give you your answer, but the accuracy of your interpretations will increase if you learn how to think about the subsequent two cards you pull. Let us remember that the exercise of human reason has been considered a sign of the Divine by many sages over the centuries, including Aristotle, who tells us that "reason is God within us."[55] Even when we are paralyzed with emotional turmoil, we can frequently find our way into clarity through the use of our rational thinking skills. Once again: no psychic without logic.

So how can you do some effective thinking when you turn over a tarot card? Here are my suggestions:

Try to connect your issue with what's happening in the illustrations.

In an interconnected universe, there is definitely going to be some kind of connection between the illustration you're seeing and your issue, even if it is not immediately apparent. Keep thinking and you will see the connection.

Try to notice what part of the illustration your eye focuses upon.

Chances are that if you let your eyes wander over the illustrations before you, something will jump out at you. When this happens, start thinking about why you noticed this particular part of the card, which in a holographic universe happens to be the whole.

Pay attention to the elemental energies of your pull.

If you've pulled one or more minor cards, try to connect their elemental energies with your question. For example, if you're asking a business question and you pull only wands as your response, you are probably being told that your problem can be solved with spiritual energy. If you ask a relationship question and pull a swords card as an answer, you are being told that you need to bring some thought energy to bear upon your situation.

Pay attention to the unexpected.

If there is anything in the cards you've pulled which seems surprising, pay attention. You might be getting the kind of jolt you need to look at your issue in a new way.

Think about the patterns you can perceive in your card pull.

Here are some examples of patterns you might see in your pull. If you see cards that . . .

. . . you're seeing a pattern, and the pattern is much more likely to give you your answer than the meaning of any particular card.

Try to see the figures as actors in some kind of magic theater.

Sometimes in a pull you can envision the figures you see as actors in a miniature drama. They seem to be interacting with each other in a meaningful way. If you can discern the plot of your little drama, you will have your answer.

Reversed cards don't always mean NO.

As has been mentioned, reversals don't always mean a NO. A reversed card can simply mean that there is something in your life that's blocking you, and you need to release it.

Upright cards don't always mean YES.

There have been plenty of times in my life when I pulled three upright cards and seemed to get a YES response, but I nevertheless realized that I was seeing a NO. Some kind of negativity was manifesting despite the positivity of the cards.

My own personal YES and NO readings.

Here is a list of what I automatically see when I turn over certain cards. Of course, what works for me won't necessarily work for someone else, but these interpretations will probably help a novice get an idea of what kinds of energies certain cards demonstrate:

If you pull at least one of the following angel cards, you always get a YES (well, at least 99% of the time):

If you pull at least one of the following cards, you always get a NO:

If you pull the following cards, you usually get a YES:

If you pull the following cards, you usually get a NO:

If you pull the following cards, you end up with an unhelpful MAYBE:

And as for those nuisance MAYBE's . . .

I estimate that perhaps 10-15% of the time when I ask the cards a question, I pull mixtures of upright/reversed or positive/negative cards, which bestow upon me a crystal clear MAYBE. I have learned not to be upset when this happened, and also that I need to treat a MAYBE as a NO, especially when I'm asking a plan of action question.

There is another way MAYBE's can manifest: if you are doing a 3 x 3 pull, or even a 3 x infinity pull, there will be times when you will get a YES answer to your question, then a NO on the following night, then a YES, then a NO, or maybe another YES. In other words, it seems like your idiot oracle cannot make up its mind what to tell you. If you keep asking the same question night after night but don't get a consistent answer, your oracle can be telling you a variety of things, including:

The last statement in the above list is usually the one that counts--you can always ask about your issue again several weeks/months later.


* * *


The above rules are the best suggestions about divinatory thinking which I can offer. However, I am aware that to a beginner, they won't seem like much. Well, the learning of tarot only happens with the doing of tarot. You've got to keep at it until things start to click. Nevertheless, it will probably help you if I offer some sample interpretations of responses to common questions:

I have concluded that Wally is telling me the truth. Am I correct?


Interpretation: We see one angel card upright, so this is a definite YES. The only negative energy card, the Three of Swords, is reversed, which indicates an end to painful thoughts. The King of Wands upright completes the positive energy.

I have concluded that it will be best for me, my family, the company, and the universe if I accept the new position. Am I correct?



Interpretation: A resounding NO. Despite a positive first card, two majors reversed is a NO. The reversed Fool in particular is telling you not to try anything new at the present time.

I have concluded that it will be best for me, Jennifer, and the universe if we get married. Am I correct?


Interpretation: We see three positive-looking cards upright, which makes for a definite YES. The Hanged Man is telling you that this situation is filled with Divine energy, while the Nine of Pentacles indicates a state of perfect contentment. The only problematical card is that of the Knight of Pentacles, a card which usually indicates something stuck. But with these other two positive cards, this time he is telling you that you need to move forward with your plan.

The offer I've received for the house is the best I'm going to get, so I should accept it--correct?


Interpretation: A pretty clear NO. The Seven of Cups is the fantasy card of the deck, and the Ace of Swords reversed means that this is not the time for a new beginning. While the upright Eight of Pentacles might indicate that this is the best offer you will receive, it doesn't override the other two cards.

I'm sure that my wife supports my plan to start up a new business.


Interpretation: A weak YES or a MAYBE. You've got one major card, the High Priestess upright, which indicates positive female strength, but she's positioned between two reversed cards. It's usually good to see the Knight of Pentacles reversed, since he finally understands that he needs to get moving. However, the Knight of Wands reversed indicates that there might be some kind of block or doubt on your wife's part about your proposed scheme, which might cause problems down the road.

I have concluded that my daughter will be better off living with me than with my ex-husband. Am I correct?


Interpretation: NO. The Nine of Pentacles is a female figure who might represent either you or your daughter, but here she's not standing contentedly in her environment--she's upside down. The figure in the Seven of Wands is trying to beat back some kind of spiritual attack, while the King of Wands reversed shows some kind of blockage of outgoing spiritual energy.

I have decided that it will be a good idea for me and for the universe as a whole if I invest in the company stock at the present time.


Interpretation: NO. The Magician indicates strong positive energy, but the other two cards indicate that you're not perceiving some aspect of this situation, or that there is some kind of potential problem about it. Even though you've pulled a major card upright as your first card, you should definitely hold off on your plan of action. This reading strikes me as one of those times when you're being told to wait before taking action.

I have concluded that our company's reorganization will put out benevolent energies into the universe. Am I correct?


Interpretation: YES, with a caveat. The upright Fool is followed by the balance card of the Two of Cups, which indicates that he's moving into better space. However, the Four of Wands reversed indicates that some kind of energy is off-kilter about the reorganization. So even though you're heading in the right direction, you're not there yet.

I am a humanitarian.


Interpretation: NO, not a chance. The reversed King of Pentacles means that something is off about your relationship to physical matter. The Ten of Swords shows that you've got some kind of overkill thought process, which you need to release. The Hermit is stuck between two negative energy cards, which means that he needs to keep looking.

I am living in harmony with the quantum field.


Interpretation: YES. The Two of Swords reversed indicates that you are able to see Reality clearly, the King of Swords indicates positive mental energy, and the Ten of Pentacles is telling you that you are existing in harmony with the Tree of Life. So at this time in your life, the answer is YES, but don't think that it will last unless you keep working at it.


* * *


So much for a few sample YES or NO readings, which I hope will be helpful. Now we must turn to turn to a new topic, one which has not yet been discussed. The reader will observe that the above readings have been based on the kinds of queries which I recommended several chapters ago: confirmational. The best way to get the clearest possible response from your oracle is by thinking about your issue, developing a tentative conclusion, and then asking the cards for confirmation.

The problem with confirmational questions is that there will always be times when you simply cannot determine what might be the truth or the best plan of action about your situation. This is known as that very common state of being called cluelessness. Alas, the reality of our human existence is that cluelessness can happen. It's happened to me, to you, to every single one of the seven billion of us on the planet. We're confronted with a problem, an issue, or a situation, but we're at a total loss about how to deal with it. Yes, reason is the Divine within us, but there are always going to be times when nothing makes sense, the mind boggles, and the brain goes dead.

All of which means that distilling every problem you've got into a YES or NO query isn't always going to work. Suppose you cannot figure out why your life isn't working. Or you don't have an inkling why your carefully conceived plans never produce the desired results. Or that you've got a gut feeling that there's some kind of disaster coming at you, but you cannot identify what it might be. No matter how rationally you try to think things through, no matter how carefully you examine yourself, you cannot seize upon a good way to phrase your concerns into a decent YES or NO question, let alone ask an oracle to confirm it.

Fortunately, divination can help you in situations like these as well. What you need to do is ask a very general question about your issues and then interpret the answer as rationally as you can. While this is less effective than asking a confirmational question, it can give you valuable insight into your energies. It's just that this time it's more difficult to interpret the response.

Here are some examples of good clueless questions, plus sample readings:

What's wrong with my life?


Interpretation: The Five of Wands indicates some kind of painful or chaotic spiritual energy, and since you've pulled it reversed, you're being told that you need to release it. The Lovers upright shows that Divine energy is coming through to you, although you probably won't sense it unless you release your spiritual chaos first. Finally, the Moon indicates that you need to move into some kind of unknown. So what's wrong with your life? Too much chaos, inability to listen to the Divine, and fear of the unknown.

How can I get out of this mess?


Interpretation: The King and the Knight of Cups indicate some kind of outgoing emotional energy; pulling them reversed indicates that you need to stop sending this energy out. If you have been getting overly emotional every time you try to deal with your problems, it is now time for some discipline. Fortunately the Page of Wands indicates that some kind of new spiritual energy is going to manifest.

What should I do about the situation between me and Kate?


Interpretation: There is good spiritual energy for the two of you to continue with each other, as the Temperance angel indicates. However, the Strength card indicates that you need to develop some kind of mastery about this situation, while the Hanged Man reversed indicates that your ego-gratification energies need to be released. Start working on your self-discipline, and things will get better.

Why don't my kids listen to me?


Interpretation: You're letting something external move you forward instead of relying upon your inner wisdom. The Seven of Pentacles is telling you to take a break in your efforts so you can make some kind of change in your life. Death reversed says that you're trying to block this change, but it needs to happen.

How can I find happiness at this point in my life? (This is one of my favorite clueless questions, which I ask every few weeks.)


Interpretation: There is some kind of harmonious energy which you're blocking, but if you start practicing a new kind of self-discipline, a lot of sun fun will be yours.

What can I do at this point in my life to strengthen my spiritual energies? (This is another of my favorite clueless questions.)


Interpretation: The Four of Swords is telling you to calm your mind (perhaps with a new meditative exercise), the Star wants you to pay attention to the Divine energies which are always flowing down from the sky, and the Hierophant reversed means you need to release some kind of adherence to a formal religious structure.

How can I bring more positive energy into my life?


Interpretation: No, these cards are not telling you that you cannot bring more positive energy into your life. They're telling you that you need to ditch your illusions about something physical and something emotional, and stop trying to block new spiritual energy from coming into your life.

What is the most important thing I should focus on at this point in my life?


Interpretation: The World reversed is telling you that even though you think you're at the culmination of some kind of energy, it's not over yet. And you probably need to do some ego-releasing to get there. Also a certain nuisance is telling you that you're still obsessed about something, which you need to release. So what do you need to focus on? Bring your obsession to an end and open the door to new spiritual energy.

How can I manage my money more carefully?


Interpretation: The Eight of Pentacles tells you that you are spending too much time doing your work instead of paying attention to your finances. The reversed Four of Swords indicates that you've been too passive about your money, and that you now need to start expending some intellectual energy about it, perhaps by learning something new about investments. The reversed King says that this is not the best time to take action about your finances--discover what you need to find out first.

What am I not perceiving clearly in my life?


Interpretation: You've got the possibility of a new and very positive relationship in your life, but you're not seeing it. Expand your horizons, and you will find it.

What lesson do I need to learn from that experience?


Interpretation: This was probably an experience that you should have avoided. The Queen of Pentacles says you should have stayed right where you were, Strength reversed means that you were not courageous enough to see things through, and the Queen of Cups reversed indicates that you had some kind of illusory goal which you should have identified before you got involved.

What is a positive idea for a startup business?


Interpretation: Maybe you should make and market some black and white sphinxes? No, probably not. So what are these cards trying to tell you? Judgement is blasting the ears of the newly resurrected, as usual the Chariot is motionless, and the Queen of Wands reversed means that it is not time to be receptive but creative. Since the Judgement card is the only card in the deck which indicates sound (a trumpet blast), perhaps this is a suggestion that you need to do something creative with music and transportation.

Conversing with the Cards

So much for those times when you cannot formulate a good confirmational question. But this leads us to our next problem. What happens if you are clueless in a different kind of way: the answer you just received from a pull is not adequate. You've gotten a response from your cards, but you still don't have a clear answer about the energies of your situation or what you should do next. You need further information.

In cases like these, there is a way to ask further questions of your oracle without having to wait an extra twenty-four hours. What you can do at times like these is start to converse with your cards just as if you were conversing with a physical being. You ask a question, your oracle gives you its answer, you think the response over, and then you ask a new question. You continue to talk to your oracle like this until you get some clarity about your issue. So here are some suggested ways to converse with the cards:


Problem: the cards tell you that the man of your dreams is not telling you the truth about his intentions to marry you. So what else do you need to know?

What does he really think of me?


Interpretation: He's confused in his mind about the kind of person you are, he thinks you're too much of a control freak, and you're not promoting any kind of contentment in his life. Alas, this probably means that he doesn't think highly of you at all.

Has he told me the truth about his finances?


Interpretation
: YES, he has. The first two cards indicates positive energy, but the Eight of Swords tells us that you're not seeing some kind of more toxic energy here, which probably indicates that even though he's been honest about his money, you're being willfully blind about something important.

Does he put out mostly positive energy into the universe?


Interpretation: YES, he does, as the upright Page and King indicate. However, the reversed Six of Cups indicates that in a one-to-one relationship, something isn't right.

What are my options? Confront him? Dump him? Purchase voodoo love spell?


Interpretation: Stop trying to force this situation to work--you're not getting anywhere. And stop it with your inner turmoil. The Six of Wands is telling you to go on with your life.

Problem: the cards tell you that NO, you're not free from the preliminary signs of heart disease.


Obviously the first thing you need to do if you get a NO to a question like this, and especially if you get a NO several evenings in a row, is make an appointment with your doctor. Oracular information is never a substitute for professional medical treatment. But you also need to think as carefully as you can about what might be causing the problem and then ask your oracle questions such as the following:

I have concluded that if I stop eating dairy products, it will improve my health. Am I correct?


Interpretation: A definite YES. The Eight of Cups is telling you to walk away from liquid, three upside down cups can't hold anything, and the Ace is a sign of a new beginning.

What kind of daily exercise might improve my health at this point in my life?


Interpretation: You've pulled two cards which indicate negative mental energy: the Knight is going too fast, while the Queen reversed is a double negative. This suggests that you need a new kind of mental discipline in your life, perhaps something which will slow your mind down and allow you to release. This would also help with the kind of emotional blockage which the reversed Knight of Cups indicates.

Problem: the cards tell you that your property will not be free of environmental damage during the next four to six weeks.


If your oracle tells you that NO, your property is not safe, and if you keep getting NO's on subsequent evenings, then you need to ask about what kind of protective measures you can take, up to and including evacuation. The thing to remember here, which has already been mentioned, is that predictive responses from an oracular tool are frequently not reliable. All you're picking up at the moment is a potential.

Still, you won't go wrong if you work with the cards on subsequent nights to try to pinpoint what might be coming and when it will happen, and you should do this if you get a NO about any kind of monthly health or safety issue. You should try to identify what the exact problem might be, or, if it looks like an environmental emergency is coming, try to figure out the day when it might hit. And don't forget to ask whether you should evacuate. You might end up feeling like a fool if you do, but then again, you might not.


* * *


As should be obvious, the above sample readings can do only one thing: help you get started with thinking about your card pulls. The welcome news here is that even beginners can get some solid practical advice as soon as they start working with the cards. All you need to do let the cards speak to you. 

So this means that we're finally done with the question/answer thing, right? Well, not quite. My own experience tells me that even when you figure out (1) the right kind of question to ask and (2) what your oracular response means, a new kind of problem can appear. We now have to examine what happens when you just cannot deal with your answer.



Chapter 13. Fighting the Answer/Accepting the Answer.


There are men who always seem to hold marked cards in their hand. Prices fall or rise, markets may change or not, they are always holders of the game, & winners.--Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson (1969).


Dealing with your oracular answer? Well, of course you're going to be able to do that. You're an intelligent and responsible adult, after all. So when those NO's come time and again, you will accept them with courage and good sense--right? Well, just you wait until you get a NO about something which you've got your heart set upon. I guarantee it will provide you with some of the most shattering agony you can ever experience. What's even worse is that getting a YES can frequently create new and unexpected difficulties. We now need to examine the kinds of mental maneuvers people go through when they try to deal with their oracular responses.

What if your oracle proves to be wrong?

Suppose your tarot cards tell you, with absolute clarity, several nights in a row, not to take your flight to Minneapolis. So you decide to trust your cards, and you stay right where you are. And then you discover that the flight took off and arrived safely without any difficulties. As for you, your longed-for job interview is now completely ruined.

Well, in a situation like this, I guess you could murder your cards, but that wouldn't do you--or them--much good. My own experience tells me that what probably happened was not so much a wrong oracular pronouncement as a wrong interpretation. Even a 3 x 3 = 9 reading can be wrongly interpreted, and even when you're reading reversals. Misinterpretation especially happens when your emotional turmoil persuades you that black is white or up is down. The only helpful thing to note here is that the more you work with an oracle, the less you will misinterpret your oracular responses.

Still, in my opinion, you would have done the right thing to trust your cards. It might have been a reliable prediction in spite of everything. Your presence on the flight might have somehow disrupted its energy field and led straight to disaster. Of course there is no way for you to know this for sure, but you have to acknowledge that it was a possibility.

Dealing with a YES.

We will next examine what happens when your oracle--brace yourself--actually approves your latest scheme or desire. In other words, even a 21st century American can sometimes get things right. People who possess at least a smidgeon of self-awareness and self-discipline are probably going to pull more YES's than NO's when they consult an oracle. As for the rest of us, we shouldn't think that the NO's we keep getting are going to last forever. As we become more familiar with our oracle and accept its lessons, our YES's will increase in frequency. Not that we will start getting YES's every time, but they will start popping up with greater frequency. This is all for the best.

Still, there is an inevitable catch to a YES answer, which will probably surprise you: getting an oracular YES about your desires can sometimes be much worse for you than getting a NO. If your oracle starts handing you a lot of YES's every time you question it, up to and including a YES about your living in harmony with the quantum field, chances are that you will be so satisfied with your wondrous state of being that you will do nothing but sit back, relax, and enjoy your blessitude. No more striving, no more learning, no more self-examination since that kind of tedious stuff is no longer necessary in your life.  

And you could not be making a bigger mistake. The universe in its endless becoming doesn't like complacency. Besides, in case you haven't noticed by now, relationships don't work unless they're continually thought about, adjusted, and readjusted. Parents aren't successful unless they are constantly deliberating about the best way to raise their kids. Businesses don't turn a profit unless the boss is willing to accommodate to changing circumstances. And your life won't work unless you continue to learn, grow, and change. Congratulations on the oracular YES you just received, but don't think that the YES energy is going to last unless you keep working at it.

Dealing with a NO.

So much for YES answers. What about NO's? It's been my experience that an oracular NO means:

Your oracle has spoken, and if you've got a brain in your head, you'll accept it. Uh, huh--in other words: fat chance. Accepting an oracular NO can sometimes require nothing less than superhuman strength. I still have problems with getting NO's even after twenty years of being clobbered with them, so chances are you will, too. Tarot beginners who start pulling one damn NO after another are in for a very rough ride. They will simply not be able to believe what they are seeing. The damn cards keep announcing over and over that everything they want, everything they've dreaming about, everything they believe in . . . it's either full of crap or it isn't going to happen. No matter what the question is, no matter how carefully it is phrased, it's NO every damn time, even about their favorite burritos.

Let's face it, being told that much of what you think, say, do, or want is wrong can make for a psychic shock so catastrophic that it almost feels like a sentence of death. Very few of us can handle it. I'm not one of them. Do you want to hear how many I'm going to kill those cards moments I've had over the years? I have gotten so many NO responses that on those rare occasions when the cards actually tell me YES, it's practically time for cardiac arrest.

But . . . but . . . how can this be? How is it possible for a human being to walk around so bursting with such negative energy that he or she spews forth nothing else nearly 100% of the time? Especially when this person is giving off the right signs of success in our culture, such as money, status, or celebrity? But money, status, and celebrity are the kind of toxic energy which inevitably fills you to bursting with negativity. Message to any 21st century American reading this book: when you start messing with an oracle, you are guaranteed to discover negative aspects to your existence which you never suspected that you had.

So what are you going to do when the cards start throwing bad news in your face? That's easy. You will start indulging in all sorts of sly little psychological maneuvers to persuade yourself that the NO answer you've just received isn't really a NO. Since I myself have attempted these maneuvers on countless occasions, I know everything there is to know about them, and also something about their success rate, which happens to be zero.

The most common of these ploys is very simple. If you don't like the answer you've just received from your oracle, you will want to ask the question again right away, right this very second, to get a better answer. You will persuade yourself that it's okay to do this, since that NO you got just cannot be correct. Well, if ever there was a way to completely destroy the energies of an oracular message, this one is it. All of which means that oracular consultation happens to have a prime directive, which goes like this:

GREAT ORACULAR PRIME DIRECTIVE
Never, never, never ask an oracle the same question twice in a row.

This is the one rule to follow when you get an answer you don't like. No matter what kind of agony you go through when your oracle hands you a NO, no matter what howls of misery erupt from your throat, no way and no how do you ask your question again right away. If you repeat the question immediately, the only thing you will accomplish is turning your truth-telling oracle into an enabler.

Wait a minute here. The author has admitted more than once that oracles are not always correct. So there has to be a chance that the NO which our oracle has just handed us is not correct! Right?

Yes, that is true. So there ought to be a legitimate way to ask the cards your question a second time. And there is, which is something I've already discussed, the 3 x 3 = 9 card pull. It is perfectly acceptable to ask your question a second time, but only if you wait twenty-four hours first. And during that twenty-four hour period, you need to do some thinking about why you didn't see what you expected to see. Then go ahead and ask the question a second time if you like. And again and again ad infinitum, if you want to waste your time in such a fashion. But let me remind you what has also been mentioned: chances are that eventually you will discover that the NO you saw the first time around was the correct answer.

Okay, so much for the Great Oracular Prime Directive. But now we need to examine several other nasty little maneuvers which you will probably attempt when you are handed an unexpected NO, as follows:

You try to alter the mechanics of the pull so you can ask the question again right away.

You might decide to ask the question a second time using a different deck, or you might try shuffling the cards in a different manner, or maybe pulling seven cards instead of three, or keeping the cat in your lap when you pull the cards a second time, or performing any other pathetic strategy you can dream up which will enable you to repeat the question immediately. But of course, the only thing you are still doing is defying the Great Oracular Prime Directive.

You ask a similar question right away.

In other words, you ask a question with a few minor changes from the one you just asked. So if your oracle tells you that NO, you should not purchase that new sewing machine which you just + know is perfect for you, you ask:

Well, this silly little gambit won't fool your oracle one iota. You're still defying the Prime Directive big time.

You pull some extra cards in an attempt to turn your NO response into a YES.

Whenever I give readings to clients, I tell them to pick three cards for their answer. But something predictable happens when the three chosen cards indicate an obvious NO. The querent will thereupon pull a fourth or even a fifth card out of the deck. He or she will do this without thinking, as if it were the most natural thing in the world. And I suppose it is, to your average self-esteem-addled American who just + knows that s/he's always in the right.

So you think it's perfectly okay to pull an extra card or two if you don't like what you see in the first three? Not a chance. Those three initial cards that you pulled gave you your answer, and you need to deal with it, not pretend that their meaning can be wiped away if you pull more cards.

You try to "heal" the reading with an extra card.

Some people practice a different kind of extra card maneuver when they don't like the cards they see: they pull an extra card to "heal" the reading. This bit of nonsense seems to be widely taught in the tarot world these days. It is based upon the illusion that if you pull an extra card, it will show you how to deal with the negativity of your reading, or something like that. When I was first learning tarot I had no problem with this farce, but nowadays I see that it is as wrong as it gets. As I have mentioned about a hundred times by now, everybody needs to have the brutal truth about their illusions occasionally shoved in their face. Trying to "heal" a NO reading by turning it into a YES is yet another defiance of the Prime Directive.

You decide that you've gotten a YES response if you finally pull some positive cards after getting several NO's.

If you're the type who has to do the ad infinitum pull, I guarantee that sooner or later you will finally see a YES response to your question, even after fifty nights of pulling NO's. Oh, thank goodness--the cards are finally telling me that I'm going to get my heart's desire! Well, not quite. If you get a YES answer after countless nightly NO's, chances are that nothing has changed, and that this particular reading is a fluke. On the other hand, if you start seeing a YES for the next fifty nights, it is possible that your oracle is picking up on a change in the energies of the situation, which would means that YES is now an accurate answer. But in all the years I've worked with the cards, I can think of only one instance when this happened to me, and I expect that for most people, it will seldom or never happen as well. The original NO was the correct response. You've got your answer. Deal with it.
 

* * *


Deal with it! Deal with it! She keeps telling me to deal with it, but I can't! I just can't! Well, of course you can't. As a victim of American education, all you ever learned was how to wallow in that illusion called self-esteem. Getting a NO about your heart's desire? What are you supposed to do now, jump off a cliff? Oh, calm down. No matter what the problem is, there are ways that anyone can cope even with the most agonizing NO. Here are some suggestions:

Rethink.

The first thing you've got to do when you see a NO is rethink. You need to examine what might be wrong about your situation, and you do this as clearly and as logically as you can. Are they any hidden energies you're not seeing? Is someone lying to you? Have you accurately analyzed all the pros and cons of what you want? Chances are the more thinking you do about your disappointing response, the more you will see that your assumptions about a particular situation were full of hidden bobby-traps which until now were invisible.

Remember that nothing ever lasts.

The next thing to do is remember that nothing is permanent. So if, for example, your oracle tells you repeatedly that you shouldn't continue with your current boyfriend, that doesn't necessarily mean you're going to walk the earth alone for the rest of your life. The pain and the disappointment you're feeling at the moment will eventually dissipate. The way things are now are not the way things will always be.

Remember that the NO you just received might mean that something better is coming along.

This has happened to me on several occasions, especially when I wanted to make a purchase. I go through the predictable NO agony, but I also remind myself that a better version of what I want might be in the offing. And lo and behold, after time passes, the better something actually does manifest. This doesn't always happen, but I've seen it so frequently that nowadays I try to see the NO as a lesson in patience instead of a pitiless negative.

Read the sages.

Over the years I have come across two effective tricks which have helped me deal with disappointment, one from the West and one from the East. Both are simple yet very effective:

Don't forget the Cosmic Boomerang.

Suppose you're stuck interacting with your very own Nurse Ratched day after day. In a situation like this, you need to remember that no one is exempt from the Cosmic Boomerang. Sooner or later it catches up with everybody, up to and including anyone who is currently making your life a living hell. So instead of throwing negative energy back at your tormentor, you simply need to remind yourself that she is setting herself up for some world-class payback. Karma never forgets. You don't have to fight a lethal personality, nor do you have to plot revenge. You simply have to detach and wait things out. And while you're doing the waiting, if you act with the kind of restraint and discipline that the Ratched you're dealing with is incapable of, sooner or later the energies of your situation will shift.

Block the negative energy.

Another trick when dealing with negative energy in your environment is simply to bounce the energy back. You can wear a crystal or a protective talisman to strengthen your own energy field. You can also protect yourself by visualizing an energy barrier between you and the toxic person. It's true that everything is interconnected, but my experience with the Mussolinis tells me that it is possible to put some kind of space between you and your tormentors.

Consider your NO a lesson in self-reliance.

When you decide that the oracular NO you've just been handed is an opportunity for you to develop some self-reliance, you'll move much more easily through your disappointment. It is only the losers among us who are constantly buffeted by externals. More successful people are able to see that internals matter more than externals and focus on them. Do this, and those NO's you keep getting will be seen for what they truly are: irrelevant.

Remember that releasing a desire can feel better than actually getting it.

Believe it or not, letting go of a desire can turn into one of the most blissful emotions you will ever experience in your life. That's right. If you can just forget about acquiring an object in space, an experience, or even some MORE cold hard cash, you will realize that you've suddenly got space, freedom, and opportunity in your life. And you might even start to sense Divine energy for the first time in your existence. What was that illusory piece of nothing you had your heart set on anyway?

Spin straw into gold.

This final recommendation is something which I like to call the Rumpelstiltskin Technique. Whenever your oracle hands you yet one more NO, what you need to do is transform your disappointment into something positive. This is otherwise known as spinning straw into gold. You turn all that negativity into something which will help you. This can be done at any time, even with the worst kind of bummer.

The trick to the Rumpelstiltskin Technique is that you've got to start seeing an oracular NO as a spiritual challenge. The universe in its wisdom is handing you a test to see whether you can deal with it with maturity and courage. Instead of letting that NO send you into a tailspin of self-pity, you need to accept it as gratefully as you can. Yes, I know this is about as easy as pogo-sticking up Mt. Everest, but it can be done. The catch is that spiritual challenges are never going to stop happening in your life. They are the price we humans must pay for the opportunity to be alive and kicking on Planet Earth. It is within our power to calmly and rationally deal with our challenges--along with the assistance of our trusty oracle, of course. Or we can make a nose dive into a bottomless abyss of malevolent energy.

The nice thing here is that life takes on a different perspective when you remember that there is a spiritual meaning to everything you experience in your life. This is another blessing that repeated use of an oracle gives you: it helps you to see all aspects of your existence in the clear light of eternity. When you are able to deal with disaster or collapse in a calm and sensible manner, you are going to live a successful life regardless of your external circumstances.
 

* * *


So there you have it. A few words of wisdom which may or may not help you deal with your oracular NO. You can find similar banalities in any best-selling self-help book on the market. So if and when you get a big fat unendurable NO, forget about tossing the cards into the fire. Instead accept what you see, and you will be on your way to a better kind of life.

Still, I am aware that there are plenty of addled narcissists in our toxic culture who will not and cannot accept any kind of a NO. If you're one of them, I know exactly what you will do when confronted with an endless number of NO's. You will start to practice that celebrated American pastime known as the blow off. On some level, you may realize that the NO you're seeing is the right answer, but then you decide . . . well, so what? Why should you pay attention to these idiot cards anyway? It can't be possible that they're telling you that you're wrong about something! Besides, you just + know that you've got a successful and productive life. You're making good money. You've got a solid marriage and nice kids. You don't need any of this crackpot occult stuff. Are you really supposed to care about how pieces of colored cardboard get themselves arranged? It's not as though any of this is a life-and-death matter, right? Why should you pay attention to a silly little NO?

You're intensifying your inevitable Cosmic Boomerang, that's why. Unconscious negative energies always cause a nice little boomerang, but when you get a message straight from the oracular mouth and then consciously defy it, you are going to double or even triple your karmic payback. So if and when you decide to blow off your oracular pronouncements, guess where you end up:

 

Welcome to
The Club of Pathetic Losers

From dud to washout for everybody



Dear Sir/Madam:

Congratulations! You have just been awarded a lifetime membership in The Club of Pathetic LosersTM, a densely populated national organization which any normal American can join. Once you become a member of our valued community, we guarantee that your life will be filled with miscalculation, mediocrity, and failure. We are proud to state that we number millions of thick-skulled capitalists, us-against-them fanatics, shyster CEO's, medicated Hollywood anorexics, internet venom spewers, corrupt politicians, snarky academics, media propagandists, and any other kind of worthless rabble you care to name among our treasured members. Let us never forget that it is always difficult to change for the worse, but with enough hard work and dedication, it can happen to anyone--and it can happen to you, too!

The only criteria for membership is defiance of Divine energy. Yes, you were once dumb enough to consult an oracle, only to be handed a bunch of stupid NO's time and again. But you were smart enough to blow them off! Good for you! That's all it takes for a lifetime membership in our renowned organization. Never forget that The Club of Pathetic LosersTM is not just for everyone. You have to be a super-colossal moron dumbass who thinks that he or she lives in a world of matter instead of energy to be accepted for full membership.

The benefits our community are as limitless as the national debt. All members of The Club of Pathetic LosersTM are guaranteed the right to luxuriate in the negative energies of their choice 24/7/365. Also you won't have to ditch your narcissism for anything in the world. You will feel good about yourself every second of your life! You will turn into a celebrity star in your own movie! Your ghastly personality will sparkle in flashing neon lights for a guaranteed three billion years! Can human existence get any better than that? Ain't no way and ain't gonna be a way, take our word for it.

Fortunately our organization offers several tried-and-true techniques to delay bad karma. Are you worried that your eventual Cosmic Boomerang will zap you like there's no tomorrow, which for someone like you there probably isn't? Once you start following our easy guidelines, your payback won't arrive for at least several more decades. Frequently we can guarantee that karma won't track you down until you're in your nineties, and what will you care about anything by then? So stop worrying about that comeuppance nonsense. When you're a confirmed pathetic loser, karma doesn't count.

Membership dues are both affordable and reasonable, just your lifetime income plus any other money you can get your hands on. Don't delay! Make sure your clueless idiocy remains intact until the last day you take a breath! Membership in the millions and growing every day! Join at once, or will you ever regret it!

But wait! There's more! Join The Club of Pathetic LosersTM today, and you will receive admission to our very own Pathetic Loser University! Located in an elite suburb of Anaheim, California, Pathetic Loser University is one of the most celebrated scholastic rackets in the country. We are fully accredited by the American Reeducation Association, and we offer both introductory and advanced courses in the art of the flop. PLU graduates go on to meet brain death in everything they attempt, including tropical vacations, shopping, and whining. Some of our most popular courses include:

Don't delay! Sign up for our special introductory discount offer today, and you can enroll in one of our life-transforming courses for only $4,999.99! Both Visa and MasterCard accepted. Offer valid in USA only. Price subject to change without notice. Some other restrictions may apply. NOTE: Pathetic Loser University is not liable for legal fees, finance charges, penalties, etc., as these must come out of your own personal hide. Hurry, offer ends soon!
 

* * *


What was that? Are you serious? You mean you actually don't want to be a pathetic loser all your life? What on earth is wrong with you? Don't you understand what pathetic loserhood means? You get to live a life filled with thrilling adventures! People pay attention to you, which means that you're special! You end up with so much stuff that you can't move an inch without knocking something over! The money keeps happening even though you don't have to earn it! You get to look out for Number One every second of your existence, which is the only number that counts! Best of all, you get to wallow in that fascinating sensation called feelgoodness every second of your life--until it wears off! O the ecstasy! The bliss! The endless hangovers! The ruined liver! Pathetic loserhood is what every single human soul on this earth constantly yearns for! Life is as meaningless as pea soup unless you're a confirmed pathetic loser!

But . . . you tell me that you've been impressed with some of the arguments in this book? You don't want to walk around riddled with negativity, nor do you want those darn Cosmic Boomerangs to keep knocking you out of your cranium? And even worse: you want to do something with your life besides pursuing endless addictive fixes? Holy cow. Can it actually be possible that you are one of the tiniest of all human minorities, namely somebody who can accept an oracular NO? Well, I'm stunned. But more power to you! Let us soldier onwards!

Onwards into what? What more is there to say about divination? Well, as a matter of fact: nothing. We're finished with it. That's right. Even though we've still got several more chapters, your esteemed author has said pretty much all she has to say about how to work with an oracular tool. But one problem remains. Skill with an oracle is not enough to change your life for the better. Divination can help you identify your negative energies, but it is not effective in helping you rid yourself of them. You are only going to be a partial instead of a compleat psychic unless you know how to dump the negativity as well. The catch here is that ridding yourself of an inner demon who has been shoving you around for decades happens to be as hard as hell.

So what can you do? Well, if you've been paying attention, you are probably thinking that you need to ask your oracle for guidance. Bravo! This should now be your first response when confronted with a problem. But for once it isn't necessary. Luckily for you, your author has pondered this question for many years now and has naturally consulted her cards about it, so she can make the process easier for you. I have learned that there is one sure-fire technique which will help you jettison your negative energies in the easiest possible way. The nice thing about this technique is that it won't wreck your liver with high-tech chemicals, nor will it enable your enablers to rob you of your last dime. Furthermore, since it is DIY, anyone on the planet can do it. The cost is a very affordable $0.00. One of the nice things about the good old USA is that you can reinvent yourself any time you like, something which has been going on in this country since the days of the Transcendentalists, many of whom successfully remade themselves for the better at various points in their lives.

Here I had better add that I don't have much in the way of verifiable evidence to support my theories. As usual, all I can do is describe what works for me and which might work for you. But all right, already! We now know what kinds of inner demons we've got. What do we have to do to rid ourselves of them?



Chapter 14. Bye Bye Blackbird.


We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.--The Nicomachean Ethics, by Aristotle.


Before we get to my miracle technique, we must first make a quick detour back into Illusion vs. Reality. My esteemed readers probably aren't going to be convinced that my inner demon cleanse technique will work unless they see some truth about what are considered to be successful palliatives in our society. We need to take a look at the kinds of Newtonian fixit illusions which are so thoroughly engrained into our postmodern culture that they may as well have been carved on Mt. Rushmore. What now follows is a brief examination of the most popular of these remedies.

The Medical Establishment Will Fix You

Illusion:

The first, best, and greatest way to solve a mental or physical health problem is by racing directly to some kind of expensively-educated expert, and the more authoritative the better, since it is only these kinds of people who are experts in fixes. Isn't it obvious that the meds and the surgeries which our physicians keep shelling out have made us 21st century Americans the healthiest and happiest people in the history of the world? There is now an industrial chemical or a medical procedure to fix every single health problem known to the human race, except for the ones which haven't been figured out yet, but that will happen in the near future. This especially holds true for those harmless anti-depressants we keep swallowing. The only problem left is figuring out which one of them you need to swallow, which can be a chore if you have to sample a few dozen or hundred. But once you hit upon the right one, it's goodbye blues! Let us give a resounding cheer for our beloved medical experts! They are the reason why all 300+ million of us slender, healthy, and vibrant Americans go through each day of our lives feeling nothing but the most exquisite happiness.

Reality:

Yes, our high-tech American health care system is the most wonderful thing on earth, just as long as you ignore its horrific side-effects, such as the Rofecoxib debacle.[59] The problem with contemporary health care is that medication no longer means a remedy. It means a heavily advertised artificial chemical which does nothing but suppress a patient's symptoms. Once upon a time medicine was something that cured a problem, but those days are history. If a physician can persuade an unhappy patient that he needs to swallow a particular industrial chemical every day for the rest of his life, then everyone is happy: the doctor, the drug company, and the sucker, who like millions of his fellow Americans is incapable of understanding that a pill which suppresses the symptoms is not curing the problem. The only unhappy participant in this pleasant arrangement is the patient's liver, which will suffer irreparable damage thanks to the toxins being inflicted on it day and day out. It is estimated that 70% of all Americans are now on chemical drugs,[60] which tells you something about American gullibility. If you ask me, curing a problem instead of just suppressing it would make better sense, but that would put a lot of people out of business.

Then what about psychotherapy to make your life better? I have never been able to find any statistics on how many people who patronize shrinks actually get, uh, you know, cured, but the grand total might be as many as one or two patients every decade. As for the other millions who simply cannot survive unless they keep spilling their guts to their therapists week after week, year after year, why don't they ever seem to escape their assorted bad energies? Why hasn't all that analysis left them blissfully content? I've known people who have been in therapy for decades but who have never achieved even the slightest improvement in their messy lives. Dare one suggest that therapy success rates aren't available since they're embarrassing? Let us not forget that the only thing that happens in therapy is that you obsess about your very own little ego. You go into agony about past unhappiness, you wallow in your present soap opera, and you see, hear and think about nothing except your precious little ego. If ever there was a recipe for endless misery, this is it.

Religion Will Fix You

Illusion:

But then there is always religion! Those great big organized religions with their millions of followers are constantly making their believers better, since there is nothing like that illusion called groupthink to cure you of anything! Ah, the blessings of organized religion and the enabling it dishes out! What would we do without it?

Reality:

I'm getting a headache.

The Government Will Fix You

Illusion:

We must never forget that we live in a world where the right kind of government, specifically the one that is forever creating new laws, rules, and regulations, always manages to make things better for every single one of us. Of course it's true that it's still going to take a while before everything can be properly regulated, but at the moment we can do nothing but weep for joy whenever we remind ourselves of what our wonderful politicians and bureaucrats are doing for us. And when laws have finally been passed to control everything, then . . .

Reality:

I'm going to throw up.

Manipulation Will Fix You

Illusion:

All right, forget the above. There is still a solution which will work 100% of the time to make our lives better. It is a time-honored technique which has worked for all people at all times and in all places throughout human history. This technique is the epitome of ease and simplicity, and anyone can do it successfully. If you want to make your life better, what you have to do is . . . manipulate yourself!

Yes, manipulation is the solution to all your problems! If you want to eliminate a bad habit, quit a substance, or lose the weight, a little Sovietizing of your energy field is what it takes. It's true that those the old Soviet Five Year Plans never quite worked, not in decade after decade, but that was only because of bad weather. When a good American like yourself directs a Five Year Plan at your very own energy field, bad weather won't happen, and your problems will finally be solved.

Reality:

If you are in the habit of doing the smart thing by now, you should be able to recognize the poison coming out of your Manipulation Demon by now. You don't need to hear from me one more time that manipulation sucks. It sucks when you throw manipulation energies at an external, and it sucks when you try to manipulate your very own self. Any paradigm which depends upon compulsion is utterly and irremediably toxic. Those control freaks who try to force their innards into obedience resemble nothing so much as a hamster running on his wheel, forever expending furious energy and getting nowhere fast.

Consider the word diet, which is a manipulation paradigm if there ever was one, and which ranks right up there with more and good in its four-letter slimebucketry. It is estimated that 95-98% of dieters who manage to lose some weight eventually gain it back. In other words, the agony you go through when you starve yourself is almost always a pointless exercise in futility. Why do people bother with these universal failures, let alone spend money on them? Weight Watchers has been in existence since 1963, but if it worked, nobody would be fat. If Atkins, South Beach, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem, or any of the other commercial diets worked, nobody would be fat. Heck, if any aspect of the $17 billion dollar American weight loss industry worked, nobody would be fat. Hello? Why isn't it obvious that the American weight-loss emperor has no clothes?

One thing I've noticed about the Nurse Ratcheds of this world, and I've had plenty in my life, is that they always cart around a lot of extra tonnage. They haven't been able to force themselves into thinness any more than they can successfully force the lesser people to behave themselves. But of course those fifty extra pounds don't count, it's not their fault that they can't lose it, the problem is genes or glands or something, and besides, everybody in their family is fat. In the meantime our resplendent Ratcheds continue on their glorious crusades to reform the lesser people out there, since it is only for their own good.

Here's the problem: if you want to rid yourself of an obsession, the only thing manipulation will do is increase the energies of your obsession. When you try to quit drinking, you obsess about alcohol. When you diet, you obsess about food. It's true that you're not swallowing the martinis or the chocolate any longer, but you're also not thinking about anything else. You spend all your time fixated on the good feelings that your substance of choice used to provide, feelings which are now nonexistent in your life. This mental battle accomplishes only one thing: it intensifies your desire for that feelgoodness which your forbidden substance used to provide. So when you decide that you are thin or sober enough to end the agony, back you directly go to your dearly beloved substances. When we humans try to manipulate naturally self-organized systems, the systems always win; when we try to battle our inner demons, the demons always triumph. This holds true not just for addictions but for any other bad habit. If you're ever tried to tried to force yourself out of something, as in making New Year's resolutions or just ordering yourself to stop thinking about an old girlfriend, you've done nothing but set yourself up for abject failure.
 

* * *


Well, okay then. None of the above will work. So what can we do to make our lives better? The solution consists of two steps. Step #1 is simple: it utilizes the energies of none other than our old tarot friend the Hanged Man and one of the beneficent lessons he displays, that of releasing. If you truly want to make your life better, you need to learn how to release, abandon, fall away, forget, or surrender. Marcel Proust tells us in Within a Budding Grove (1919) that renunciation is nothing less than "a healing power."[61] And if you ask me, the three most sacred words in the English language are get over it.

We're back to that egolessness stuff which my readers probably still don't want to think about. Let me again remind you that the NO's you've been getting from your oracle aren't statements that your life is overloaded with negativity. They are indications that you need to stop clinging to your bad energy. Once you learn how to work with that blissful sensation known as releasing, you will stop caring about the kind of crap you used to be obsessed about, up to and including your substances of choice. You turn yourself into a liberated human being only when you can detach from whatever kind of negativity you once were obsessed about.

As a victim of American education, this is sticking in your craw, right? You don't want to release anything! What you want instead is that postmodern meretriciousness called empowerment. There are zillions of authority figures around these days who keep announcing that if you want to make yourself better, you simply need to power up your very own little self! This is also known as filling yourself up with as many self-esteem energies as you can invent and then sallying forth into the world to fulfill your desires. The only catch is that your inner demons will burrow ever more deeply into your psyche every second you're at it. Empowerment corrupts, and absolute empowerment corrupts absolutely. If you truly want to improve your life, you need to do the exact opposite: releasing. You don't lose weight by dieting--you lose weight by forgetting about food. Ditto for alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, or any other substance currently making your life a living hell.

Okay. Okay. Releasing is what counts. But . . . how can you do it? The inevitable catch is that releasing is a hellishly difficult thing to accomplish, especially when you're helplessly addicted to an addictive delight. So when your oracle tells you repeatedly that caffeine is bad for you, you immediately discover that . . . you cannot give it up. YOU JUST CAN'T. Life would be impossible without that marvelous feeling of godlike bliss whenever the substance erupts in your bloodstream, right?

Still, it is possible to learn how to release any kind of negative energy, which leads us to Step #2 of our inner demon cleanse: if you want to get rid of every last trace of your negative energies, what you've got to start doing is daily repetitive exercise. That's right. If you make time every day of your life to practice something over and over again, your negative energies will simply start to fall away . . . spontaneously. If you put Step #1 and #2 together, my inner demon cleanse technique can be summarized as release through daily repetitive exercise.

Aw, hell.

Honey, are you kidding? You think that if I start doing fifty sit-ups a day, it'll change my life? Maybe there are some idiots in this world who enjoy killing themselves on their treadmills, but most of us have better things to do. Besides, there are millions of alcoholics and fatties who've exercised their pants off over the years, but it hasn't made a dent in solving their problems. Daily exercise is a ghastly, boring, mind-numbing waste of time.

Dear friend, you are missing the point. In and of itself, physical exercise will never solve any kind of inner demon problem, as you correctly point out. But when I say exercise, I am not talking about physical exertion only. I am referring to the kinds of mental or spiritual practices which have been recommended by various sages throughout the centuries. In the Orient we find repetitive mental discipline recommended by the Buddha, Laozi, Confucius, numerous Hindu sages, and the masters of the Japanese tea ceremony. The idea of daily mental exercise, for example, is at the heart of Buddhist spirituality. Buddhism is not so much a religion as it is a method, and one of its cornerstones is daily repetitive practice. The Lankavatara Sutra tells us that "the Bodhisattva becomes master of himself and of all things by virtue of a life of spontaneous and radiant effortlessness."[62] Anyone can achieve that kind of effortlessness through daily repetitive exercise.

This kind of daily self-discipline has also been recommended by various Western sages from Aristotle to Benjamin Franklin. Franklin tells us in his autobiography that he developed a system of mental exercises in his youth, which he followed diligently throughout his life. This was a list of thirteen virtues such as temperance, frugality, industry, chastity, and humility, and Franklin would contemplate one of them every day. He also printed up a small book of charts so he could track his progress. He says that:

My intention being to acquire the habitude of all these virtues, I judged it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time, and, when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on, till I should have gone thro' the thirteen . . . [63]

Well, from what we know of old Ben, he didn't score 100% with some of these virtues, particularly the chastity thing, but his daily mental contemplations helped him to develop the kind of personality which made for a tremendously successful life. Would you like to have as demon-free an existence as one of the few Founding Fathers who signed both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution? Why don't you memorize Franklin's list of virtues, contemplate one of them every day, and keep track of your progress? The more effort you put into something like this, the less time you will waste lusting after a double Dutch triple crème fraise vanilla honey mocha latte.

And in case you haven't noticed, when we talk about exercise we're back to discussing our Proto-Indo-European friend rta. The rta sound also happens to be the ancestor of the word ritual, and what is a ritual but a ceremonial practice which can help you experience Divine energy? When you bring daily repetitive practice into your life, what you are doing is ritualizing your existence. So daily repetitive exercise won't necessarily turn you into a creature of habit--it will turn you into a creature of ritual.  It is no accident that Shakespeare named his only miracle worker Cerimon.[64] Ceremonies make miracles.

Wait a minute! Isn't daily exercise a manipulation paradigm? Doing something over and over every day of your life is the exact opposite of spontaneity! Where is the ectropy here?

My friend, you need to remember what happens between Brahman the creator and Shiva the destroyer, namely Vishnu the preserver. Vishnu energy is strongest whenever a sentient being is living in a state of natural harmony. And harmony is always some kind of back and forth energy flowing between complements, as in the beating of our hearts, the inhalation and exhalation of our lungs, or the rests and notes of music. This is what your need to strive for, and what daily over-and-over exercise can deliver. It is not manipulation but an active alignment to the natural flux of the universe, otherwise known as wu wei. Divination helps you identify positive energies; daily repetitive exercise aligns you to them.

But in order for any of this to happen, you must make your new daily exercises a permanent part in your life. You won't have a chance of releasing your negativity unless you accept that from now on, every day for the rest of your life, you will spend several hours doing your exercises. If you tell yourself that you're only going to give it a try for the next few months, your inner demons will continue to reign supreme in your psyche. The only way they are going to scram is by making your daily exercise permanent.

Another rule to remember is that you have to do your daily exercises without any kind of goal in mind. You do them just for the sake of doing them. Forget your objectives, forget the results, forget the size four little black dress you're desperate to buy. As Oriental sages tell us, the path is the goal. It is interesting to discover that in his Universally Recommended Instructions for Zazen (13th century CE), Japanese Zen master Dogen Zenji tells us that daily meditative exercise is nothing less than enlightenment.[65] In other words, there is no difference between the practice and the culmination of the practice: the goal appears when the doing happens. If you've ever wished you could attain the kind of tranquility which Zen masters display, then just start practicing the kind of daily mental or spiritual exercises that they do.

One other detail counts in all this: if you want to release the negative energies from your life, you have to ditch nothing less than 100% of them. In a holographic universe, the energy part is the energy whole. So don't think for one minute that you can play the pathetic denial game alcoholics call I'm going to give up drinking completely except for the occasional glass of wine. If you don't release every single negative energy you possess, your whole existence will continue to be toxic.

And yes, I am aware that this means it will take months, if not years, before you might see some improvement. Well, it took you years to develop your bad habits, didn't it? So why should you be surprised that it's going to take years to ditch your inner demons? I am aware that as an entitlement-addled American you don't want to wait. You want a solution that will fix your problems in a New York minute. Alas, if you've been living in thrall to assorted inner demons for years or even decades, you are not going to break free of them in a three-second flash. But with time and patience, it can start to happen.

The welcome news is that you will discover that repetitive exercise starts to become fun once you start doing it. You've already got repetitiveness in your life when you keep pursing that next fix; why not indulge in something that fills you with positivity over and over again? We always enjoy doing what we're skilled at, and when we become experienced with our daily exercises, they no longer feel like a burden. It really is possible to find delight in any kind of repetitive action.

The reader who has made it thus far in this learned treatise is probably furious with disgust. Is she kidding? Doesn't she know what kind of a drag she's recommending? How can she think that a godawful bummer like repetitive exercise might replace the feelgoodness substances supply? People wallow in their substances to escape the mundane and the humdrum, but here she is telling us that something as mundane and humdrum as repetitive exercise will change our lives for the better. What a bozo.

Ah, listen to the demons howl--they can probably be heard by every moose in Canada. One thing I've noticed time and again is that whenever you try to tell an addictive personality that daily exercise will solve their problems, they blow it off faster than you can say pathetic loser. Nothing is more horrific to a normal American than the thought of wasting hours each day doing the same damn thing over and over. All those feelgood substance energies just happen to possess gargantuan strength and power. They can never be easily released. A hardcore addict is perfectly willing to undergo a limited period of discomfort to reach a goal of thinness or better health, but the thought of making this discomfort permanent is the infernal pits.

Yes, I know all the complaints, and I know they're valid. But I also know that release through daily repetitive exercise is the only way you will be able to ditch the demons. No matter how heavily addicted you are, if you make time every day for your daily exercises, the release of those inner devils of yours will start happening . . . spontaneously. In my own non-expert opinion, this is the only cure there is.

This brings us to our next irritant, one which is probably burning a hole in my reader's skull right this very second: where does this madwoman think I'm going to find the TIME to exercise? How can she think I've got an extra hour or two a day to waste like this? We're not living in the 19th century! Doesn't she know how people live in the real world?

An hour or two each day? Is that what you think I'm saying? Gentle reader, you should know me better than that by now. I'm not talking about one lousy hour out of your twenty-four hour day. If you exercise only one hour a day, it will probably take you about twenty or thirty years to accomplish your inner demon cleanse. Three, four, or even five hours a day, on the other hand, might get you there in four or five years. Here I would like to recommend Twyla Tharp's book The Creative Habit (2005). She tells us that a genius like Mozart was able to produce his astonishing work only after many thousands of hours of practice, so much of it that his fingers were eventually deformed.[66] He was born talented, to be sure, but his talent didn't turn into genius until he had spent long hours exercising himself into it.

Fortunately, finding several extra hours each day is easier than you think. One thing I discovered many years ago is that if you give up shopping, games, and television, you have all the time in the world. It also helps to give up social networking and other useless pixel garbage. But giving up the endless us-against-them varieties of American entertainment is the most crucial. Then you can go to bed as early as 7:30 or 8:00 p.m. in the evening. That means you can get up at 3:30 or 4:00 the next morning, which will give you at least an hour or two for some daily practice before you start your day. Still . . . this also means giving up your precious evening entertainment, and is your Entertainment Demon ever going to start shrieking about that! O the agony, the pain, the horrendous deprivation! No more dumb blondes or vampires from outer space! Well, all I can say is give it a try. You might eventually discover that two hours of morning exercise is infinitely more enjoyable than two hours of evening pixels.

My own experience tells me that you will start to sense some changes in your energies after only a few weeks of commencing your exercises. And as long as you don't drag your ego into it, you can enjoy turning yourself into a new kind of person. When the day finally comes when you realize that your mind is calmer and that your desires don't matter so much, congratulations. The transformation has started. Needless to say, not all of your desires will be gone, but at least they won't be devouring your consciousness any longer. What was it again that you used to find so feelgood in the caffeine, or the porn, or the triple bacon cheeseburgers? You can't remember.

But what kind of exercises are you supposed to do? Chances are that you probably think that I am recommending something like the Buddhist idea of sitting meditation. Relax--I hate the idea as much as you do. Several agonizing hours of leg-numbing meditation a day might work for some people, but it's never worked for me. I also don't think that meditation is beneficial for us postmodern geeks who spend most of our waking hours in front of an electronic screen. In the bad old days when people had to chop wood and carry water, a chance to meditate was a blessing. However, it's going to wreak havoc in a human being who already spends hours each day in front of a computer.

So if I'm not talking about physical exercises, nor about the Buddhist idea of sitting meditation, what kind of exercises am I recommending? There are three of them: affirmations, contemplation, and balance.

Affirmations

We will start with the practice of repetitive affirmation. If you want to transform your life for the better, you need to start repeating certain kinds of positive words to yourself every chance you get, day in and day out. One general metaphysical rule which countless sages have mentioned over the centuries is the idea that you are what you think. Your thoughts create both your personality and your destiny. If you want to transform your life, the first thing you need to do is transform your thoughts.

In my opinion, this makes the practice of repetitive affirmation the number one exercise to effect a personality transformation. Speaking or thinking affirmations is not something new in human history--it has been recommended for many centuries. Followers of the Greek philosopher Epicurus memorized his most basic precepts, which they would recite to themselves when the going got tough.[67] In his Spiritual Exercises (1548) St. Ignatius Loyola recommended memorization and constant repetition of spiritual thoughts. And pioneering French psychologist Emile Coué recommended repetitive affirmations as a cure for a wide variety of ailments in his Self Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion (1922). The nice thing about repetitive affirmations is that you can do them any time you like, and you don't have to say them out loud. You can repeat them to yourself whenever you have a spare moment, such as running an errand or standing in line. All you have to do is find words that work and repeat them over and over whenever necessary.

The constant mental repetition of carefully chosen words or phrases will eventually create new and positive energy patterns in your consciousness. Once you repeat a certain phrase several thousand times, and then several thousand times more, it becomes as much a part of your energy field as your heartbeat or your breath. Our brain is not an inert mass of muscle which never changes.[68] It can be retrained so that your energies can move new pathways, regardless of age or health.

Mind you, your affirmations have to be full of as much benevolent energy as possible, which means that spiritual quotations make the best kind. But any kind of carefully-considered phrase, repeated frequently enough, will change you for the better. If you keep at it day in and day out, eventually you will discover that your affirmations have become so much a part of your consciousness that your mind will reflexively go into the patterns of your affirmations without your thinking about it. Water can wear away granite if it flows long enough, and affirmations can do the same thing to your negative energy.

There are three classic rules for positive-energy affirmations. First, you need to frame your affirmation so that its meaning is occurring in the present moment, not in some kind of fantasy future. Next, you state the affirmation in terms of it being already accomplished and not something you're striving for. Finally, and most importantly, your affirmation should contain positive and not negative energy. So for example, you shouldn't use I will never smoke a cigarette again for the rest of my life an affirmation. Instead you would say I am blissfully free from nicotine cravings now and forever.

But here's the predictable catch. It has been my experience that most affirmation experts in our chemically-addled culture recommend that you recite phrases which are full of very poisonous energy. Have you ever come across affirmations such as:

If you've make it thus far in this book, you ought to be able to recognize Vanity, Manipulation, and Greed Demon energy when you see it. If you think that reciting an affirmation to bring the great and powerful MORE into your life will improve your energies, you'd better think again. Even Coué's celebrated: "Every day in every way I am getting better and better" strikes me as being filled with ego of the most damaging sort. The worst thing you can do with a repetitive affirmation is turn it into some kind of ego-gratifying booster.

Here are some examples of what I consider to be bad energy affirmations, contrasted with alternatives that contain more positive energy:

It should be obvious that most of the "better" affirmations listed above are releasing affirmations. These are the kind which work best. You forget words which are aimed at bringing something into your life and focus on letting go of your desires. My all-time favorite affirmation is every day in every way I am growing more serene, and you just can't quite achieve serenity unless you start ditching your demon-driven wants.

There are several other ways to enhance the energy impact of your affirmations, as follows:

Take most of your affirmations from spiritual writings.

People have recited mantras, sung chants, or recited prayers from time immemorial, and the daily practice of these techniques helps to shift your energies into ever-greater harmony. So you need to get into the habit of saying a prayer as soon as you wake in the morning, before you eat, and as you go through your day. If you don't know where to begin, then start off memorizing the St. Francis Prayer for Peace, which is one of the most profoundly eloquent spiritual guides ever created.[69] Recite this prayer to yourself at least once a day, and I guarantee your energies will shift.

Recite your affirmations when you are hypnagogic.

Most people don't realize that they enter into a special state of consciousness called hypnagogia whenever they are about to fall asleep. Hypnagogia is characterized by mild hallucinations, either audial or visual. In his book The Mystic Will (1907), Charles Godfrey Leland tells us that you can communicate directly with your subconscious when you are hypnagogic, and I think he's got a point. So one way to make your affirmations especially effective is by repeating them to yourself when you are falling asleep. If, however, you discover that this is keeping you awake, then make a recording and listen to it as you go to sleep. This is a technique which I have used for many years now.  

Combine your best affirmations into one superaffirmation.

Your superaffirmation should consist of at least ten to twelve sentences or phrases. These are the words you need to recite whenever you are momentarily seized by an out-of-control emotion, a painful memory, or a bitter disappointment. A superaffirmation is effective because of its length: when you have to stop and think about what comes next in your recital, your attention shifts from your inner turmoil to the words of your affirmation. In the minute or two it takes you to recite your superaffirmation, the emotion which just throttled you won't be there by the time you come to the end of your recital.  

Put a smile on your face when you recite your affirmations.

This technique seems to be the biggest help of them all, especially when you are trying to blast yourself out of a bad moment. Deliberately putting a smile on your face when you're unhappy creates a dissonance between your body and your mind, which then intensifies the impact of the affirmations you are reciting. After doing this for a while your body will start to associate your smile with the words you are reciting, filling your field with ever greater zaps of positive energy.  

Check with your oracle before you begin.

Last but not least, make sure you get oracular approval of your affirmations before you start working with them.

Contemplation

There is a second kind of mental exercise which will also help to transform your energies. It is based on what I consider to be another great metaphysical law, the idea that you become what you contemplate. Everything is interconnected, remember, but a special and very powerful kind of interconnection happens when you are able to perceive the spiritual reality of something you encounter. This is what happens when you engage in the act of contemplation. The original meaning of the word contemplate comes from two Latin words: con meaning "with" and templum meaning "temple". So whenever you contemplate an Other, you are not simply looking--you are communing with its spiritual energy, and if you do it as intensely as possible some kind of unity will manifest. In Practical Mysticism (1914), Evelyn Underhill tells us that the practice of contemplation can change everything about our lives:
Eternity is with us, inviting our contemplation perpetually, but we are too frightened, lazy, and suspicious to respond: too arrogant to still our thought, and let divine sensation have its way. It needs industry and goodwill if we would make that transition: for the process involves a veritable spring-cleaning of the soul, a turning-out and rearrangement of our mental furniture, a wide opening of closed windows, that the notes of the wild birds beyond our garden may come to us fully charged with wonder and freshness, and drown with their music the noise of the gramaphone within. Those who do this, discover that they have lived in a stuffy world, whilst their inheritance was a world of morning-glory; where every tit-mouse is a celestial messenger, and every thrusting bud is charged with the full significance of life.[70]
Underhill is correct: there are celestial messengers everywhere in our lives. When you go beyond surfaces into essences, into the living heart of the energy fields you encounter, you will discover that our humdrum planet just happens to be a treasure house of fascinating wonder. Mind you, you don't contemplate only what you see: you also have to focus on what you hear, taste, smell, and touch as well. Yes, that's right--you can sacralize your mashed potatoes if you decide to really get into them, since everything that exists is holy.

In other words, contemplation is not your ordinary daily perception, nor is useless daydreaming. It is a technique for a wonderful kind of ego transcendence, when the perceiver and the perceived become one. My own daily contemplation of the light, the sky, and the glorious beauty of my small corner of the world has kicked my Creature Comforts Hobgoblin clean out of my life. He packed his bags, headed for Miami Beach, and I haven't seen him since. Good riddance.

Like affirmations, contemplation can be done anywhere, with anything. But mind you, you can never successfully force yourself to contemplate. That will work as well as any other kind of frankenfreakery you care to name. Fortunately there are several other tricks about contemplation which make it easy to practice.

You should realize that you always quite naturally focus on whatever you find interesting.

Unfortunately, as a normal American living in a normal American town, you probably don't think there's much in your environment that is actually interesting, at least compared to what happens during your evening pixel wallow. What you've probably got in your environment is vinyl siding, utility poles, asphalt, and the color beige. Well, even these kinds of drab manifestations can become interesting if you pause for a moment to seek out their details, their energy patterns, or their spiritual essence. Indeed it is frequently with the insignificant and the overlooked that you can most frequently find the most astonishing surprises.  

You need to start discovering beauty.

There is always something beautiful to be experienced in every moment of your life, even when you're walking across a parking lot. So whenever your churning monkey mind is driving you crazy, open your eyes or your ears to the experience of something beautiful, if only the glory of a single tulip. When you can switch your focus from thinking to awareness, you will discover that beauty is showering down on you every second of your life.  

You can also start searching out some of the energies that we've talked about in this book.

. . . namely synchronicity, spontaneity, and ectropy. All you have to do is keep your eye out for anything unexpected or anything which seems coincidental. Obviously the best place to find these kinds of manifestations is the out-of-doors, especially in weather patterns or the glories of the green world. So grab every chance you get to take a walk and search out fractals. Or see how a few acres of woods have self-organized into a coherent system. Or pay attention to those moments when the fall of a leaf or the song of a bird seems like special messages. Just don't forget than when a coincidence or a pattern suddenly radiates something beyond itself, you are encountering Divine energy.  

You need to know how to live in the present.

Only when you are fully existing in the here-and-now can you experience anything with primal intensity. Don't forget that as far as the time component of our spacetime universe goes, the present moment is the only Reality we know. Everything else is illusion.

Balance

The final kind of exercise you need to do is that of balance. There will be no harmony in your energy field unless there is also some kind of equilibrium. So how can you bring this into your life?

Well, one of the easiest ways to do it is by practicing the old idea of moderation in all things. There is a lot to be said for not going to extremes, which has been recommended time and again throughout history. Nothing in excess was proclaimed at the Oracle of Delphi, the Buddha taught the doctrine of the middle way, Confucius proposed the doctrine of the mean, and Aristotle gave us the concept of the golden mean. These ideas of inner balance are timeless. There is no such thing as a successful life lived in the palace of excess. You need to go through your days constantly aiming for some kind of centering energy. In other words, you don't want yin energy all the time any more than you want yang--Vishnu will flourish only when you can center yourself between them.

Well, okay--but is there a practical way to do this? I think there is, but my solution needs some further explication, namely several more chapters. These will be chapters which examine one aspect of Reality which we've already discussed: the four classical elements of earth, air, fire and water. In my opinion the only way we humans can go through life with a sense of equilibrium is by harmonizing the four elemental aspects of our being. If and when we can achieve a 25/25/25/25 balance of these energies, our inner demons shrivel into nothingness.

Unfortunately most of us go through our lives with our four primal energies completely out of whack. Part of the problem is that air/intellectual energy occupies too much of our time and our psyches--we are constantly communicating, thinking, reading, or working on computers these days. And water/emotional energy also tends to get out of balance: too many of us live in thrall to our endless turbulent feelings. But when we start to shift the patterns of our energies so that all four elements are equalized, we can transform ourselves at our deepest levels.

The chapters which follow describe my recommendations for various elemental exercises. We will start with the one element which is the source of life in our universe: water.



Chapter 15. Water: From Turmoil to Harmony.


Man comes in contact with God through the spirit of music.--Lectures on the I Ching (1960), by Richard Wilhelm.


So how do we exercise with water? By swimming? Taking a bath? Jumping in mud puddles? Well, these might help, but it's better if we remember what kinds of energies water represents: emotion. This is what you've got to start exercising: your emotions. What now follows are my suggestions for the kinds of exercises which will help you to deal with your negative emotions and make room for an energy which you have probably never experienced in your life: serenity.

One Minute Emotional Release Exercise.

This exercise is powerfully effective and will take only sixty little seconds out of your life. I have already discussed the affirmation part of it, but here is a summary of all the things you need to do whenever you find yourself seized by a turbulent emotion:

End of your inner turbulence in sixty little seconds.

Detach.

Another excellent way to deal with negative turmoil is simply by detaching from it. The idea of detachment has been recommended by various philosophers and spiritual figures since antiquity. Saint Francis de Sales believed that the simple act of detachment was in and of itself a spiritual exercise: he called it holy indifference.[71] Detachment also happens to be the essence of that great American ideal known as the cool. Nobody in our contemporary culture wants to be thought uncool, right? Uncool means being out of control, wallowing in excess, or hopelessly obsessed. But if you've got some true American cool, you can always stay calm and collected no matter what. The problem is that only a select few have ever truly possessed it: jazz musicians, Zen masters, or anyone not obsessed with status or money.

But cool is definitely something which can be practiced into being. Have you ever heard of those students of Zen Buddhism who were called unsui, a term which literally means "cloud, water"? The Shambhala Dictionary of Buddhism and Zen (1991) tells us that:

Novices in a Zen monastery are called unsui, and ornaments in a Zen monastery and temples are often in the form of stylized clouds and water motifs. Aimlessly coming and going, moving freely, forming and changing in accordance with external circumstances, disappearing without reluctance like clouds; like water soft and flowing around every obstruction without hesitation; like water in relation to a container, fully adapting to any situation--these are the characteristics of living in the mind of Zen . . .[72]
In other words, a Zen novice would always do his tidy best to go through life as gently and as easily as a cloud. True unsui had no permanent homes, nor many physical possessions. They did not see themselves as poor but rich in freedom, movement, and simplicity. Their secret can be summarized in one word: flow. Clouds are, after all, in constant transformation--they can go literally everywhere. Let us remember that the "physical body" which we humans possess is about 67% water, which mean that our energy fields resemble liquid moisture much more than we consciously realize. If you start thinking of yourself as a cloud and water being who can flow, float, or evaporate whenever you please, coolness is going to start appearing in your field without any effort on your part.

The Moon.

Coolness can also be generated in our lives whenever we contemplate something else that's got it, our eternally serene moon. In many ways, the moon is perhaps the single most important natural element in our lives, if only because of how it influences water, the primal element. The Japanese have always understood that they need to experience the moon in its sublime glory as often as they can and have been enthusiastic moon gazers for centuries. If there is no time or space in your life for moon gazing, moon communing, or moon ecstasy, you deserve whatever else you've got, which is probably stress and unhappiness. But if you want to chill those boiling hot emotions of yours, spend at least a few hours each month letting the moonlight bore into your skull until you reach that blessed moment when the perceiver and the perceived become one.

Decelerate.

Another way to generate cool is by slowing down. What's spiritual is always slow. There are lots of things you can do to slow yourself down: just reading a book puts you into slower time. So do animals--since they live in an eternal present they are never in a hurry.  Or you can try practicing an art like calligraphy--a Zen master applying his brush to paper always has an infinite amount of time. You can also spend time in your garden--it is no accident that sundials are such a popular ornament in gardens since there is no better place to experience a richer sense of time.

You can also start focusing on cyclical time instead of linear time. The natural movements of day and night, sun and moon, are more faithful to time's true reality than anything your wristwatch might tell you. Establishing a relationship with a season or a phase of the moon is also a marvelous way to find contentment. Your seasons will come and go like faithful friends, and you can delight in their presence whenever they are with you. My most enchanted month of every year is October, when the harvest is complete, the summer's heat has ended, and the days turn mysterious with colors and mists. But all months are enchanted in their own way, and all you have to do is start looking for the enchantment to find it.

Gratitude.

Gratitude is one of the few emotions which contain 100% positive energy. This means that the simple act of feeling grateful for the blessings in your life can be a marvelous emotional exercise. If you take time at the end of each day to remind yourself of all the things in your life you can be grateful about, your energies will shift in ways you never thought possible. Medieval German mystic Meister Eckhart says that if the only prayer you ever utter is thank you, it will be enough, and he was right.[73]

Blessings.

The best possible kind of energy you can send out is always and forever a blessing, and the more often you do it, the cooler you will become. So forget about picking fights, blowing apart pixel creatures, or spewing forth fury to the internet, all of which will do nothing but keep your own energies paralyzed with ugliness. When you notice an energy manifestation which seems threatening or disharmonious, what you should do is bless it.

Alas, this is easier said than done. Here I must admit that I possess a pretty extensive kill list, which is composed of former supervisors, ex-boyfriends, people who put me through hell while telling me that they loved me, Hollywood bubbleheads . . . that is to say, my brothers and sisters in Southern California, and the scumbags poor lost souls stumbling blindly through illusion in Versailles-upon-the-Potomac. I suppose I could kill every last one of them, but that would be a terrific drag.

What I do instead--and what I recommend--is sending them blessings. Once a day I turn in the direction of the person(s) I currently want to kill, fold my hands, bow, and say namaste. The Sanskrit word namaste is probably the world's greatest blessing. It means I bow to you, and when you utter the word you should fold your hands and actually bend forward. This action indicates that you are saluting the Divine energy to be found in the Other who is causing your emotional distress. There is no better way to release those energies within you which are doing nothing but hurting you.

And energy being what it is, chances are that somehow, in some way, the positive energy you're sending forth will do a bit of good to the sentient being on the receiving end. Have I personally ever noticed an observable change in the behavior of my kill-list recipients? Not a chance of that. But in an interconnected universe, better you send out a namaste than pull a trigger. What you need to remember is that the Other whom you detest so much is as much a part of you as your toenail. What does a rational person do with a toenail? Why, she blesses it, of course, so it won't turn ingrown.

Move into Music.

This next way of dealing with toxic emotional energies is my favorite: you simply need to take up residence inside of music. In other words, you don't just listen to music--you start to inhabit it. I used to be disappointed whenever I realized that I could never obtain the kind of spiritual vision which seems to come easily to great poets like Rainer Maria Rilke or Jack Kerouac. But eventually I realized that I didn't necessarily need to visit Duino Castle or Desolation Peak to find mystical vision. All I had to do was move into music.

What's that again? How can you move into music? Well, one of the most memorable ways in which J.R.R. Tolkien describes the hauntingly beautiful land of Lothlorien comes from Sam Gamgee's comment that it was like living "inside a song".[74] Think about that for a moment, living inside a song. Imagine what your life would be like if you could escape your normal mundane reality and let the energies of your physical being fully enter into the reality of rhythm and sound, so that you live it, breath it, feel it with each heartbeat, and let it dominate your existence every second of your life. We should remember that rhythmical sound happens to be one of the healthiest things we can experience. It is non-fattening, non-addictive, and completely demon-free. Researchers have noted that it releases hormones which are healthy for the body, which is probably why symphony conductors lead such long and healthy lives. Our energy fields always feel elevated whenever we hear inspiring sound. People work more efficiently when they listen to music. There's nothing better than getting lost in sound.

This means that music is the one elemental reality which can transform the vibrations of your energy field more thoroughly than anything else. And if you ask me, music just happens to be a natural elemental force. We tend to think of it as a human creation which is not part of the natural world, but music surrounds us everywhere in nature: you can hear it in the sound of water, in the movement of the wind, the singing of the birds, or the rain falling on the trees. The Big Bang was not some kind of explosion; it was the commencement of music. And music is also the sound of the Divine. "God is harmony," says wise old Swami Yukteswar in Yogananda's Autobiography of a Yogi (1946),[75] while sitar master Ravi Shankar tells us that "sound is God".[76]

The spiritual impact of music is something which Shakespeare understood as well. It seemed to be his idea of a supremely beneficent power. The heck with going to church or studying theology: chances are that when he lost himself in music, Shakespeare discovered all he needed to know about the energies of the Divine. In his last plays music repeatedly performs miracles. Cerimon uses music to resurrect the dead in Pericles, and it restores Hermione to her husband in The Winter's Tale. Queen Katharine in Henry VIII describes heaven as "celestial harmony" and has a vision of angelic beings dancing to sacred melodies before her death.[77] Prospero's power of enchantment seems to come from one thing only, his skill with music.

So, okay--it sounds like a nice idea to move into music. But how can you do this in a practical matter? Here are my suggestions:

Listen to music as frequently as you can.

In other words, forget the video and switch to audio. Here you must keep in mind that the non-vocal variety of music is the most profound. Words in music are like words on tarot cards--they knock your consciousness into your left brain, which isn't something you want to happen if you want to live in music. But if you can lose yourself in wordless harmonies, you will start to encounter something which goes beyond the energies of just plain old listening.

Listen to repetitive sacred music.

One practice which is common to many spiritual traditions is the reciting or singing of a spiritual phrase over and over, as in Gregorian chants, Buddhist mantras, kirtan, or Sufi chants. One thing I've learned over the years is that if you listen to repetitive sacred music the first thing in the morning, the sounds you hear stay with you throughout the rest of the day. So forget about turning on the idiot box in the dawn's early light, or even listening to an audio book. Start your days with repetitive chant, and you will go through your waking hours with a new sense of well-being.

Create music yourself whenever you get a chance.

Don't just listen to music--start making it as well. Play an instrument, sing a song, bang on some drums, or dance around the room. You feel harmony most intensely when you participate in it. Integrating your own energies with music is always going to be more effective than just listening to it.

Focus on spontaneous music.

This is the most important trick about living inside of music. The kind of music which most truly reflects the natural flow of celestial harmony is spontaneous. I am, of course, talking about the greatest, most profound, most spiritual form of music ever created: jazz. Move over Beethoven . . . so people can take up residence inside Miles Davis.

If you ask me, jazz is the ultimate music. Based as it is on free expression, improvisation, and spontaneity, jazz can truly be a gateway to cosmic reality. It gives us harmonious patterns where all the instruments seem to be talking to or mingling with each other in the best net-of-jewels fashion. And given the fact that written scores are never necessary in jazz, it is synchronicity made audible. We know that great composers like Mozart, Bach, and Beethoven could improvise any time they liked, but the heart of their work was the formal written score. The essence of jazz, on the other hand, is spontaneity. It's true that jazz musicians must practice for years before they can exhibit any kind of improvisation, but those thousands of hours are, as usual, necessary.

All this makes jazz the most Divine sound we can hear. Everything I've talked about in this book all seems to come together in the delights of jazz: flow, communication, randomness, and pattern spontaneously forming out of chaos. Once upon a time jazz was the sound of our American reality. It massively impacted all aspects of our culture: dance, fiction, painting, film, and the patterns of our days. American freedom was found in bebop. American elegance was found in Billie Holiday. American joy could be heard whenever air was blown into a sax. All the virtues I consider to be good in this country--self-reliance, invention, resiliency, egalitarianism, individualism--were shaped by free-floating jazz. Or at least they used to be. Alas, there's not much trace of it these days, not in a country where everything must be brought under control for everybody's own good. I'm sure there are plenty of Nurse Ratcheds in this country who enjoy listening to jazz since it is still the cool thing to do, but as for living in it . . . not a chance.

But the rest of us can move into jazz any time we like (or into any other kind of spontaneous music like Indian classical music as well). All we have to do is just start listening to it every chance we get and align our energies to its rhythms. And behold: we've escaped Dragsville in a flash

Escape time.

The final way to deal with emotional turmoil is by escaping time. On a superficial level, escaping time seems to be an impossible thing to do. Time is a tyrant which rules every aspect of our existence, so how could we escape it? Well, we need to remember that clocks and calendars have not always tyrannized human existence. Once upon a time people's lives were ruled by the seasons, and that was the only kind of duration that mattered. The hours in the day had no meaning, nor did the days of the week, nor was there any difference between weekday and weekend. How did it happen that our so-called civilization has become utterly dependent on mechanical time? We pretend that we can control it through follies like time management or multi-tasking, but there is never any extra time that I can see.

But escaping time can be done, especially when you remember that water is the element which has always been most closely connected to time. Time has always seemed to flow the way water flows, which is why people often think about rivers when they think about time. I have already mentioned that the only reality we ever truly know is the present moment, not those fantasies called the past and the future, which are usually the sources of our emotional turmoil. But when the flowing of the present moment becomes the only thing you pay attention to, your turmoil can easily evaporate. This trick can be practiced into being just like all the others. Whenever you catch yourself thinking about the past or the future, you simply need to pause, take a breath, and turn your attention to the richness of whatever you are currently experiencing. I'm back to the exercise which started this chapter: One Minute Release Exercise. This exercise will do more than dampen down your emotional turmoil. If you keep at it, the clock will stop ticking, and the calendar will disappear.
 

* * *


Okay, so much for those nuisance emotions which keep wrecking your life. Now that you're a real cool cat who's moved into music, the next thing to examine is how to exercise that part of us which feels like solid matter: earth.

Chapter 16. Earth: From Stuff to Ecstasy.


Lives based on having are less free than lives based either on doing or being.--William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902).


We will now discuss the element of earth, which corresponds to the "physical" aspect of our reality. Mind you, we must not forget that physical means one thing only: a slower atomic velocity which gives off an illusion of solidity. Most people's reluctance to accept the emptiness of "matter" tends to put them out of whack with earth energies in two ways: body and environment. Fortunately there are several ways you can start exercising yourself into harmony with earth energies, as follows:

Physical Exercise.

I have already stated that physical exercises will never be enough to rid you of your negative energies. Still, if you want to transform the totality of your energy field for the better, you do need some kind of daily workout. No one can be healthy without physical exercise, preferably the kind which helps to unify both mind and body. This is an insight which has been recognized for millennia in Oriental cultures. Disciplines like yoga, taijiquan, and aikido were designed as holistic ways to exercise all aspects of a person's being. Your life will definitely change for the better if you learn one of these techniques and practice it daily.

There is one other physical exercise which can also benefit you in ways you never thought possible: walking. It never ceases to amaze me that walking is today considered to be nothing but a nuisance you have to perform when you migrate from one room to another. Walking can transform your existence more easily than all the other physical exercises ever devised. Jogging or any other kind of rapid frantic movement will wreck your joints and stress you out, but a gentle, slow, perceptive walk will bestow endless blessings.

I speak as a hopeless walking worshipper. To me life means walking a mile or two each day. When I cannot manage it, nothing about my energies seems right. Mind you, you have to do the right kind of walking. That means you need to forget about jamming those ghastly earbuds into your skull when you're out and about. You've got to walk in with complete awareness of the world around you, or else you may as well forget it. The only thing worse than drinking and driving is mp3's and walking.

But heck, if you walk the same place every day, how can that be a blessing? Aren't you always seeing the same boring crap? Well, I admit that whenever I go outdoors for a walk, I proceed down the same street that I've walked hundreds of times before. And I inevitably encounter squashed water bottles, chain link fences, No Parking signs, utility wires, gravel, and the traffic noises from the nearby interstate--none of which could even remotely be considered a manifestation of beauty. Well, I can pay attention to these if I like, or I can notice the other energies which surround me and which happen to be marvels of grace and harmony: the colors of the sky, the transformations of the clouds, the lights and shadows, the messages from the winds, the songs of the birds, or the fullness of the heavens. Yes, I'm always walking the same route, but when you make your walk a daily exercise in perception, the marvels are ever-changing, even on the most dismally wet and cold day.

Simplify! Simplify! Simplify!

Earth reality means not just the state of your physical body, but the environment in which you live. Chances are that as a good 21st century American, your living space is chock full of that cognitive illusion called stuff. People these days live smothered under piles of useless objects in space, which must constantly be positioned, dusted, cleaned, replaced, stored, boxed, packed, arranged, closet-forced, garage-stacked, and insured. The suffocating clutter of the Victorian era is nothing compared to the stuff smother of the normal 21st century American, who has been trained since toddlerhood in the desirability of stuff.

But you've just got to have your stuff, right? Your life would be meaningless without it! So what's wrong with dragging home yet one more useless doohickey from your favorite Big Box? Well, if these words describe your existence, it means that you will go through your life with your earth energies forever out of balance. A domicile chock full of stuff is the pits of the Dragsville universe. It will radiate toxicity out at you every second of your life even more thoroughly than the illusions emanating from your entertainment center.

Fortunately, the problem can be fixed easily enough. You simply need to empty your space out. Then you can turn your environment into the kind of magical habitation where you will always feel free, relaxed, and filled with positive energies. Have you ever thought about what your life would be like if you didn't have to do much housework? Or if you weren't always thinking about sales, shopping malls, coupons, promotional codes, and eBay? Or think for a moment what truly makes for a beautiful home? The feeble-minded will say carefully arranged interior decor, but as far as I'm concerned, any house which is dedicated to space instead of stuff is beautiful. Rooms like these this can be filled with what truly matters in our lives: music, creativity, and spiritual vision. If you learn how to bring these energies into your environment, I guarantee that something unexpected will start forming in your consciousness. All at once your rooms will start to feel like they are living beings instead of dead enclosures. Chores will never seem necessary since everything will take care of itself. Potential for new growth will seem endless. This kind of space is not deprivation but the epitome of serene luxury. Anyone can create a shelter like this in their lives, regardless of whether it is house, apartment, trailer, or furnished room.

Still . . . I must admit that the extreme of non-possession is as much of a drag as that of too-muchness. There's no sense in eliminating all physical treasures from our lives. We don't incarnate on this planet to reject all of its manifestations. People are physical beings, and they should be able to delight in physical reality. So yes, you can have your stuff, but the trick is to acquire objects in space which will never become boring. You don't want to be smothered by quantity but you do want to enjoy quintessence. A few treasures are okay, but never more than will fit in the trunk of your car in case you want to hit the road any time you like, which is an urge that never goes away in American life.

Stop paying attention to advertisements.

If you make a deliberate effort to avert your eyes from whatever Madison Avenue is pandering at the moment, you will find yourself in a fabulous new reality. Fortunately it is very easy these days to avoid those dead tree legacy magazines and newspapers, which are full of nothing but illusion anyway, and add an ad blocker to your internet browser. And forget about sales. The idea of a "sale" is nothing but a dishonest marketing strategy to con you into purchasing something you don't really need but which you think will save you money. The trick is not buying something at a reduced price, but simply not buying, period.

Cultivate the art of ecstasy.

Going stuffless can bring a new and very welcome experience into your life: the ecstatic. The word ecstasy comes from the Greek ex-stasis, which means to stand out from. To be ecstatic means that you're standing outside of stasis, and I'm sure you've noticed by now that stasis is contrary to the natural flow of energy. Ecstatic moments, therefore, are spiritual blessings. They are instants of Reality when some kind of greatness happens, and you find yourself in thrall to a rapturous sense of cosmic wonder. In this they resemble the kind of flash you get when you turn over a tarot card, but they are much more powerful. In moments like these, the world no longer seems routine, dull, or ordinary. Concepts disappear. Abstract thought vanishes. Everything about life seems clarified. Those people who can experience moments like these always seem to feel infinitely more alive and fulfilled than the rest of us.

All of which means that figuring out how to experience such moments should be the highest priority in our money-obsessed world. They ought to be possible for everyone to experience, since the ability to feel intense joy is our natural condition. But, as usual, the catch about ecstatic experiences is that they can never be manipulated into being. Not that ecstatic wannabes haven't tried. Over the years people have suggested meditation, religious ritual, breathing exercises, training from some kind of guru, or that Sixties delight, psychedelic drugs, to generate some longed-for ecstasy. Are any of them guaranteed to work? I doubt it.

But there do seem to be at least a few people throughout history who have instinctively mastered the trick of inducing these experiences. These are usually the ones who have spent much of their energy doing something creative, as in poet, artist, or composer. So is there any way the rest of us can learn how to do it? What do great poets or artists do to bring these experiences into being?

Over the years I have concluded that there are indeed certain things you can do to at least set the stage for an ecstatic experience, if not exactly manipulate one into being. If you're now a self-aware personality who's doing your tidy best to live in harmony with the quantum field, you're already half-way there. So what else is necessary? Well, the first thing to remember is that an ecstatic experience is a loss of ego, and unless you're prepared for that, you should forget it. We're back yet one more time to the Hanged Man. Your youness will always block an experience of ecstasy, so it has to go.

Then you need to start paying attention to those ultra-intense energies fields which are everywhere in our universe and which can spontaneously generate a sensation of ecstasy whenever you encounter them. In other words, you need to focus on the natural elements which surround us. It is estimated that the words for elements such as thunder, star, fire, and night are some of the oldest expressions in the Indo-European languages. Primitive human beings wanted to name the elements before they named anything else. This is enough to tell you what kind of impact they can have upon us poor mortals. Any element that's primordial and overwhelming will always have a tremendous impression upon us paltry humans, whether pre-historic cave-dwellers or postmodern dot-commers. And the natural elements can be found anywhere. So what if your apartment windows look out at a parking lot? Elemental energies are there, as they are anywhere.

Now I am aware that there are millions of people in this world who never give a thought to the natural elements of our physical world. We live in a culture where these forces do not matter unless they turn into an irritant or a danger. But if you start taking the time to pay attention to the natural energies which surround you, you will discover that you can experience a fabulous new reality, something called the sublime, or anything which is vast and awe-inspiring. A sense of the sublime can often be found in painters like J.M.W. Turner, who turned color and form into miraculous luminosity, and it is everywhere in classical Chinese paintings, with their mysterious towering mountains, glowing mists, and indistinct vistas. These paintings invariably lift the viewer upwards into liberating space.

But what exactly is the sublime? How can you define it? Perhaps the only thing you can say about it is that it generates feelings of overwhelming wonder in human beings. It also has connotations of wildness, power, and infinity. It is not so much a philosophy as it is a sense of cosmic grandeur. Let us not forget that when you encounter something vast and overwhelming, you are jolted out of your ordinary mindset into the most intense feelings of awe or even terror that you can ever experience. Human beings will always be transported by anything that seems immensely vast: mountains, forests, cataracts that thunder and roar, vast abysses which seem to reach into the heart of the earth, raging seas, or the burning sun in the vast sky above our heads. The sun's mysterious grandeur and its intimations of the Divine have always made it a sublime force.

This means that manifestations of the sublime can be found everywhere in the world. All you need is a special kind of seeing, plus the kind of open mind which can respond to what is vast and overwhelming. In Illinois I can't be a mountain watcher, but I can experience the sun, the moon, clear starry nights, the limitless prairie, and spectacular thunderstorms any time I like. And the Mississippi River has got to be one of the most rapturous sights on the planet. If you look intensely at something possessed of majestic force or grandeur, and if you respond to it with the soul of an artist, you will be able to sense its revelatory potential, even in Dragsville, USA. Of course it also helps if you take time to listen to soaring music or contemplate the thoughts of others who have been kicked in the head by natural immensity. Nevertheless, your own efforts can get you where you need to go any time you like.

Premeditated ecstasy.

There was one writer who thought that you could actually induce a sense of ecstasy: British novelist/essayist John Cowper Powys. Powys believed that every human being could achieve what he termed "premeditated ecstasy", which he considered "attainable at any moment and in any mood."[78] Powys wrote two now-obscure books explaining how to do it: In Defence of Sensuality (1930) and A Philosophy of Solitude (1933). What's interesting about these books is that Powys didn't focus on the vast but on the ordinary: he was convinced that the most prosaic manifestations of our universe could knock you out of your skull at any time. Here are a couple of sample Powys quotes:
The self fixes its attention upon a patch of barren earth, let us say, or an empty flower-pot, or a broken flagstone, or a stretch of sand, or a door-threshold, or a dead tree-stump, or even a little fragment of sky, and by flinging forth its spirit into this thing, while it creates for itself and for it--even in the midst of the hubbub of the city--a circumference of isolation, gates that enclose the mystery of matter roll back and deep calls unto deep. 

Into this surrounding space, as you sit, or stand, or lie, as necessity may dictate, you fling forth your spirit; and the spirit of what you are gazing at--for every scene that exists hath its spirit--flows back responsively into your mind; until between your mind and this cubic segment of the cosmos there comes to be established a strange and rhythmical harmony, lulling your senses and liberating your soul with a feeling for which at present human language has no name.[79]
So you don't necessarily need something overwhelming to find ecstasy: if you start paying attention to the spiritual meaning of the most insignificant energy manifestations which surround you, you will encounter as much sublime energy as you might get from Pike's Peak. Mind you, what you're after is always the sacred living essences of what you are encountering, which are, let us remember, emanations from the Divine. 

Turn yourself into an elemental.

If you start spending enough time getting clobbered by the natural elements, you might discover that you're turning into something which is not quite human. Congratulations! This is one of greatest blessings which the element of earth can give you: you can actually stop being that drag called a human being. There happens to be a better state of being to which us Homo sapiens can aspire: that of an elemental. I have long been convinced that it really is possible to shift your human identity into the kind of sentient being who is more a force of nature than a hominid. Not that you will stop being you, but your consciousness will start to feel more vast and inclusive, so much so that the Otherness which surrounds you will start to feel more like Oneness.

Turning yourself into an elemental is something which anyone can do, and it happens to be a lot of fun. Here let me remind you of one of my metaphysical rules about life, that you can become what you contemplate. So if you contemplate the sublime natural elements long enough, guess what? Why, you start turning into them, of course. And believe it or not, I think that this kind of transformation has been accomplished by many human beings over the centuries, including the aforementioned John Cowper Powys. J.R.R. Tolkien managed it as well. He was a classic example of a permeable ego whose constant and life-affirming encounters with natural energies turned him into something not quite human. This is probably why he was able to give us detailed descriptions of cultures whose inhabitants seem to exist on a much higher spiritual level than us too-easily-bored citizens of postmodern earth. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live like a hobbit or an elf? All you have to do is contemplate the natural elements long enough to escape from your humanness.

I have also felt that towards the end of his life William Shakespeare turned elemental as well. One interesting thing about Shakespeare's late plays is that he presents the natural elements as living beings. The day frowns, the moon gazes, the sea mocks, and the stars watch. Was this just lyrical effect, or did Shakespeare, with his acute poetic sensibility, manage to perceive something about the consciousness inherent in natural forces which the rest of us don't quite get? I have already mentioned how the power of music gave Shakespeare spiritual sustenance; the contemplation of the natural elements, which he did in the best Zen fashion, did so as well. Nobody ever thinks of William Shakespeare as a Zen master, but I think that this is the only way to describe what happened in the last years of his life. All those gnomic utterances of the Fool in King Lear, for example, are perfect Zen koans. As for the man himself, it has frequently astounded his admirers that towards the end of his life, he made no effort to get his plays published. What on earth was wrong with him? Didn't he want his immortal words frozen into print so he could reap the accolades and the fame which the printed word is supposed to bestow? Unlike Ben Jonson, whose attention-whoring energies were equal to any Facebook friend you care to name, Shakespeare had not the slightest interest in earthly immortality. He released his plays to the universe, and then he forgot them, just as if he had been studying the Buddhist sutras for decades. He understood perfectly well that eventually your carefully crafted inventions will melt into air, into thin air, as will the great globe itself.

So if you start to make time in your life to contemplate the natural elements, you might find yourself transmuting into something rich and strange. All you have to do is open your eyes and your ears to natural manifestations and let their energies flow over you. It also helps to pick a single elemental reality and constantly commune with it, as Chinese poet Li Bai describes his friendship with a mountain:

All the birds have flown up and gone;
A lonely cloud floats leisurely by.
We never tire of looking at each other--
Only the mountain and I.[80]
But if you don't have a nearby mountain, then you simply focus on what you do have, if only the experience of the sky or the light. If you take the time to appreciate the myriad kinds of light which can grace your days, sunshine, mist, fog, starlight, twilight, sunrises and sunsets, you will find yourself in a wonderful new reality. Even the drabbest overcast day can provide moments of beauty if you simply pay attention to the subtle glow of the clouds. Who needs Buddhist enlightenment anyway, when you've got natural light coming at you every second? No jewel in the world can compare to it, which is something that Thoreau understood when he called Walden a lake of rainbow light.[81] If you want to live in a wider, more expansive reality, where the Divine is as close to you as your next breath, you have only to contemplate the light. As for the stars, the sun, and the moon . . . they are not just revelations of Divine energy but the ultimate bringers of joy.

Escape space.

We now come to our final earth exercise: escaping space. When you exercise with water, you can escape time; when you exercise with earth, you can escape its complement, space. What counts here is, quite simply, movement. Have you ever noticed that land always starts to flow when you move over it, the way time always flows like water? Or that the Great American Plot always consists of some kind of movement through space? Think The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1884), Moby-Dick (1851), On the Road (1957), Whitman's passage to India, or any wheels-and-road movie you've ever seen. Some kind of movement through space has always been the Great American Plot since it is also the Great American Experience. Mobile is a sacred word in our culture, which is the reason why portable electronics are the supreme high tech desiderata these days. Hitting the road, moving on down the line, and lighting out for the territory are what Americans have had to do since the beginning. When they cannot do it, they tend to go bonkers. Wagons ho!

If you ask me, we Americans must continually move through space because it just happens to be a spiritual experience. It is also the last remaining way us socially-engineered lesser people can feel free. You want to blow your mind? Release your ego? Expand your consciousness? Escape flesh and blood? Find God? You grab your wheels, and you hit your road. 

This is one of the points of Kerouac's On the Road, where we are told several times that the main characters are in search of something called IT. Alas, IT is never precisely defined but is obviously some kind of spiritual yearning. We Americans tend to forget that there are not one but two American Dreams: the first is that drag called making money, but the second is to find God, a spiritual quest which has been with us since the beginning. So do the heroes of On the Road ever find IT? Well, one statement repeated several times in the book is Dean Moriarty's celebrated pronouncement that "we know time."[82] On a superficial level, Dean is saying that he knows time in the sense of musical rhythm, the way jazz musicians can keep a beat. But he is also talking about the kind of experience which can go beyond the limitations of our normal everyday reality.

Well, if you know time, you also know space, since like all complements they are the same thing. We can escape time by going as deeply as we can into the present moment, and we can escape space through movement. So the best moments of our lives can come when we escape both of them at the same instant. Here's my suggestion for a combined water/earth exercise: the next time you're out on the interstate and listening to some smooth jazz, go as deeply as you can into the experience. Chances are you will get a momentary glimpse of what is usually an imperceptible spiritual reality, or as Kerouac would say--IT:

As we crossed the Colorado-Utah border I saw God in the sky in the form of huge gold sunburning clouds above the desert that seemed to point a finger at me and say, 'Pass here and go on, you're on the road to heaven.'[83]

* * *


Well, so much for our earth exercises. Now that you understand the value of physical exercise, simplicity, pre-meditated ecstasy, life as an elemental, and the power of IT, you are probably eager to experience them all. But chances are that you're still feeling resistance to these new ideas since nothing we've discussed so far is going to make a dent in the power of your inner demons. Well, the time has finally come for those nasty little devils to get theirs. The next thing to discuss is an air technique that will not only banish your inner demons forever, it will replace them with some much more welcome entities.

Chapter 17. Air: From Demons to Divine Companions.


Even when [Swann] was not thinking of the little phrase [of music], it existed, latent, in his mind, in the same way as certain other conceptions without material equivalent, such as our notions of light, of sound, of perspective, of bodily desire, the rich possessions wherewith our inner temple is diversified and adorned. Perhaps we shall lose them, perhaps they will be obliterated, if we return to nothing in the dust. . . . We shall perish, but we have for our hostages these divine captives who shall follow and share our fate. And death in their company is something less bitter, less inglorious, perhaps even less certain.--Marcel Proust, Swann's Way (1913).


We will now turn to the element of air, which corresponds to the energies of intellect, information, and communication. In my opinion, the best possible air exercise to be found in today's world is that of communication. Of course, communicating with other sentient beings is something that we already do every day of our lives. The catch here is that in a chemically-addled world, most of us want to interact only with those people who prop up our groupthink illusions.

Well, there is a better way to interact with other sentient beings. Instead of communicating with "physical" entities, we should start to converse with the spiritual. The trick to this is simple: with the help of a little intuition, we can find benevolent supernatural beings everywhere in our spacetime universe who are more than eager to interact with us. If you can switch your focus from the sweet nothings your inner demons are constantly whispering into your ears to the messages you can get from your Divine companions, you will find yourself in a fabulous new reality. Also you will start forgetting what the heck an inner demon ever was.

Of course, communicating with one particular type of Divine companion, the angels, should by now be a familiar experience to you. And you've also got your own personal companion spirit who is with you every second of your existence and who will start to grow more and more perceptible to you as you continue to work with an oracular tool. But it also happens to be a lot of fun interacting with other Divine companions, the ones who may or may not be considered to be sentient beings but who have been personified so many times over the centuries that they probably are. The nice thing about these Divine companions is the more the merrier.

The inevitable catch about your average Divine companion is the nuisance fact that these entities are usually invisible and inaudible. You cannot see them, hear them, or kick them like a rock. So you never really know when they're truly there. Big deal. If you elect to befriend one or more, I guarantee that their messages will start coming through to you loud and clear.

But how can you find a Divine companion, let alone start interacting with it? Well, trying to force one into your life won't work any more than forcing anything else works. But when you start making time and space for these kinds of beings in your life, I guarantee that they will start appearing . . . spontaneously. We will now take a look at some of my favorite Divine companions. Obviously what follows is not a complete list of all the airy nothings whom you can bring into your life, but you are welcome to add or subtract as you please.

Gelos, the God of Laughter.

The Japanese have a proverb: "Time spent in laughing is time spent with the gods." And what a pleasant little saying this is. It tells us that the more you laugh, the more Divine energy you will have in your life. Few of us realize that in classical antiquity there was a Greek god of laughter named Gelos, later Latinized into Risus. Imagine that. Those old Greeks who did so much heavy thinking also worshipped a god of laughter. They even had more than one: there was also Baubo, the goddess of humor, Momus, another god of laughter, and Euphrosyne, the goddess of joy and happiness.

Deities of laughter? How can that be possible? Well, the ancient Greeks weren't the kind spiritual sourpusses who are so prevalent today. They enjoyed poking fun at their assorted gods and goddesses, something you can find as early as Homer. And if you ask me, a spiritual belief system should bring you nothing but joy and should remind you that life is a divina commedia. There is only laughter to be heard behind the silence of the stars. One thing I've noticed about the quantum field is that it happens to be funny. All those sub-atomic particles which constantly spook the earnest observers trying to monitor them are as amusing as they are unpredictable.

But laughter, of course, is never going to happen to an ego in furious pursuit of gratification. People who can live out their lives free of addictions and obsessions, on the other hand, can poke fun at everything, up to and including their own fallible selves. History tells us that it's the people who make the jokes who always come out as winners. So the sooner you let Gelos kick your Vanity Demon all the way to the other side of the Milky Way, the better.

Sylphs.

The airiness of laughter leads me to my next group of Divine companions, the sylphs. Over the centuries many people have sensed that the four classical elements seem to be associated with some kind of living being: gnomes (earth), undines (water), salamanders (fire), and sylphs (air). I have long been fascinated with sylphs, those graceful spirits of the air which are mentioned in countless European folk tales. Sylphs can be found throughout classical Greek literature, in one famous Romantic ballet, La Sylphide (1832), and are still to be encountered in fantasy fiction these days. They are sublimely beautiful spirits who can soar through the air and dance among the clouds. What a vision of delight that can be for us earth-bound mortals! If ever there existed a sense of the absolute ultimate in human freedom, sky upwardness has to be it.

One interesting thing about sylphs is that they are the only Divine companions who are visible to the naked eye. You can see them every time you look upwards at the clouds, since they are always there somewhere, soaring among the patterns of mist and light. It is always interesting to see that they can take on myriads of different forms, as if they enjoy constantly transforming themselves. It doesn't matter whether you're looking at fluffy cumulus clouds, or just whips of vapor scattered through the sky, all you have to do is look upwards at the sky kind of sort of sideways, and I guarantee that you will see sylphs. Really.

Sylphs remind us that we need the energies of lightness in our lives, which is something that our inner demons will do anything to prevent. Our demons always have one thing in common, namely that they're heavy, as in heavy drinker or heavy smoker. Are you going through your life constantly crushed by the weight of your carefully manipulated life? Well, you can escape the heaviness any time you like if you let a sylph into your life. She will help you start to rise above your ponderousness as easily as cottonwood seeds.

This especially holds true for those of us who cart around some extra tonnage. One thing about sylphs: they are always slender. So if you let a sylph into your life, guess what happens. Your Overeating Demon won't have a clue how to fight her. He will thrash about in fury and despair, but he won't be able to do a blasted thing about it. And all that heavy junk food you used to be obsessed about will no longer seem even remotely interesting. If and when you get the munchies, the only thing you will want is maybe an apple.

The Spirit of Beauty.

Beauty has been mentioned repeatedly in this book, but this time we need to take a look at her living personification. Here it is important to remember the words of the prophetess Diotima in Plato's Symposium: she tells us that by linking Love with the Beautiful, we can ascend to a new realm of being where we encounter the pure form of Beauty itself. And when we encounter the essence of Beauty, we find the Divine.[84]

Diotima was, of course, talking about the idea of Platonic Forms, those non-material Ideals which possess the greatest and the truest reality. Dare we suggest that a Platonic Form might be some kind of living entity? Well, why not? What if Plato actually had personal experience of a Form as something alive and kicking? And what would happen in your life if you also started regarding those Platonic Forms as if they were something sentient? If you ask me, welcoming a Platonic Form into your life makes better sense than indulging in the next episode of World of Warcraft. Especially the Form of the Beautiful.

It has already been mentioned that you always find Beauty when you divine. But are there any other ways to encounter it? Well, ideas from Japanese aesthetics can again help us here: I have read that the Japanese need only three simple manifestations of nature to find Beauty: flowers, snow, and moonlight.[85] Forget purchasing the next creature comfort and just try focusing your perceptions upon one of these three energy manifestations, and your energies will shift. You might also follow Proust's trick of contemplating matter as it turns transparent. He tells us that his first experience of beauty came when he noticed that a building was beginning to dematerialize in the moonlight.[86] Let us remember that one of the salient points of his great novel is the idea that creativity or even just aesthetic perception is something which can free you from emotional pain. So what if at the moment you're totally bummed out about something? All you've got to do is search out the mystic forms of Beauty which are currently surrounding you. They're everywhere, if only in the patterns of the leaves or the scent of fresh air.

Sophia, Goddess of Wisdom.

Way back in prehistory, when I first started studying Zen and Daoism, I felt that the summit of all earthly aspiration lay in the Buddhist idea of enlightenment. I was certain that those enlightened Zen masters were the only human beings who had truly found all the answers. And if I wanted to reach their exalted level of insight, I simply had to stare at a wall for a measly twenty or thirty years, or something like that. Then I could be a Zen master, too. Lucky little me.

Well, that was then, and this is now. My life definitely changed for the better when I decided that enlightenment probably wasn't all it was cracked up to be. There are many things about the Oriental spiritual traditions which can help you, but that endless observation of the mind probably has only limited benefit. Ancient Greek philosophers reached the same level of inner luxury as did the Zen masters, but they participated in the world as they went through their lives, they made it a better place, and they even occasionally cracked a joke. The human being who withdraws into himself in order to pursue a phantom called enlightenment is probably doing nothing but racking up some very bad karma.

So instead of spending years staring at the wall, it makes more sense to interact with Sophia, the Goddess of Wisdom instead. Over the centuries this particular Divine companion has been mentioned in Platonism, Gnosticism, and Christian mysticism. One of the Apocryphal books of the Bible, The Wisdom of Solomon, even claims that Sophia possesses one very special gift: "She is a messenger who bridges the gulf and makes us friends of God."[87] Well, who doesn't want to be a friend of God? With Sophia's help, it can happen.

If you ask me, inviting Sophia into your life is very simple: all you've got to do is learn something. One of the greatest pleasures in life comes when we stretch our boundaries, explore new horizons, and discover something new. Michelangelo's motto was ancora imparo, which translates as "I am always learning", and his willingness to go through life as a perpetual student was probably the one quality responsible for his sublime spiritual vision. This is a demon-free technique for earthly success if there ever was one.

Lifelong learning will also make you smarter. The IQ that you are born with isn't a frozen digit which remains unchanged as the years go on. A twelve-year-old kid who turns into a beer-and-ballgame adult is going to be brain dead by the time he's in his forties. A different kid with the same IQ who spends his life thinking and studying is going to be twice as intelligent. But this doesn't mean that you should grab the next book just because it's hot off the postmodern press--there is not much Sophia energy being produced in our current death-spiral culture. What you need to do is read the sages. Let them enrich and expand your mind. Guess what will help you figure out which sages you need to study. And don't forget that there is a difference between information and wisdom. Wisdom doesn't come from a string of facts that you memorize--it is a combination of information, experience, and judgment.

Lady Philosophy.

Sophia illuminates the way to our next Divine companion, Lady Philosophy, as the word philo-sophia means "love of Sophia". You might think that Madam Philosophy is nothing but an abstract concept, but she has often been personified as a living being over the centuries. As well she should be. In my carefully considered opinion, every single human entity alive and kicking on planet earth should strive to be a philosopher. If you want to live the best possible life, forget about money, career, relationships, and stuff, and start studying philosophy. Mind you, you need to study the thoughts and writings of those philosophers who could apprehend the essence of Reality, which usually means the ancient Greeks and Romans. Their works are free and online these days and are just waiting for eager new minds. You might also be interested to hear that the record of an extended interaction with Lady Philosophy already exists, The Consolation of Philosophy, written in the 5th century CE by the last original mind of classical antiquity, Boethius.

The discussion between Boethius and his spiritual visitor can expand your mind in ways you never thought possible. Even those blows of fate which once might have destroyed you no longer seem to matter that much. Divination can help you avoid the mistakes and avert the messes, but it can never completely prevent unexpected disaster from happening in your life. Nothing can. Still, if you take the time to study the great philosophers, you will be able to deal more easily with whatever Life throws at you.

Chimeras.

I have enjoyed chasing chimeras for several decades now. They provide me with so much amusement that it is a mystery to me why more people aren't interested in them. Chimeras were first described by Homer in his Iliad, where we are told that these beasts "had the head of a lion and the tail of a serpent, while her body was that of a goat, and she breathed forth flames of fire".[88] Well, this makes chimeras sound a bit nasty to be sure, but my experience tells me that they are usually sweet little darlings and only dangerous when provoked.

But aren't chimeras supposed to be imaginary beings or something? On the contrary, they are as real as I am. And it just so happens that Illinois is riddled with them. I see them flying out of the sunrise several mornings a week, and I frequently encounter them gazing at the moon, playing hide and seek in the woods, or snacking on nachos. Once chimera in particular, a nice hefty gal about the size of rhinoceros, enjoys sunning herself on my back deck. She told me once that her name was Rupert, which surprised me since it is such an old-fashioned name, but apart from that she is a perfectly ordinary critter, interested in nothing except nothing. I have learned not to point her out to friends or relations as this invariably creates consternation, but I relish her companionship.

So I would recommend that my readers start to pursue chimeras every chance they get. Chimeras are astounding creatures once you get to know them, even when they can be irritating, as during those occasions when they start reciting Jonathan Livingston Seagull (1970), which for some reason is their favorite book. Don't ask me why they like it. There are things in this world which are simply not comprehensible, and the literary taste of your average chimera is one of them. But this helps to explain why a chimera is a Divine companion. Nothing can kick your inner Manipulation Demon out of your life as much as realizing that there will always be incomprehensible mysteries about the universe. Energies outside your control, in other words. Let us thank our stars for that.

Bodhisattvas.

Bodhisattva is a Sanskrit term for an enlightened being or saint, those more fully evolved humans who seek enlightenment not just for themselves, but for all sentient beings. It's true that all people have Divine energy within, but those who are overloaded with it tend to be the ones who generate the greatest cosmic blessings. These beneficent beings have always existed on the planet are even around today in our postmodern reality.

Fortunately there was once a time when our republic was blessed with three very celebrated bodhisattvas, and the writings of these golden beings can provide you with all the sacred energy you will ever need. I am, of course, referring to Ralph Waldo Emerson, Walt Whitman, and Henry David Thoreau, who were as enlightened as enlightenment can get. One of my cardinal rules about life has always provided me with all the ethics that I've ever needed: if you cannot imagine Emerson, Thoreau, or Whitman doing it, you don't do it. Who needs Kant's categorical imperative when you've got that?

So if our three bodhisattvas were around today, I like to imagine that they would approve of contemporary tools (computers, internet), living close to the earth (gardening instead of supermarkets), and transportation (trains, planes, and automobiles). But as for attention-whoring (Hollywood), manipulation (rules and regulations to make sure the evil people behave themselves), status-seeking (McMansions), creature comforts (big boxes), groupthink (politics or religion), and excitement (drama-queening) . . . no way. So if you take time to read, reread, and rereread one or more of our three American bodhisattvas each chance you get, you cannot go wrong.

P.S.  The more bodhisattva energy you bring into your life, the more you will realize that bodhisattva fun is the most exquisite fun there is.
 

* * *


So there you have it. A nice little list of Divine companions with whom you can have highly pleasant interactions. Just don't forget that instead of you picking them, it's better for them to pick you. They know better than you do if they should come into your life.

But we're not done with Divine companions yet. The Divine companions of the next element can prove to be the most helpful of them all. It is now time to have some more fun. Some fire fun.



Chapter 18. Fire: From Chaos to Creation.


Hail, Muse! et cetera.--Lord Byron, Don Juan (1819-1824).


We now come to fire exercises, which in my opinion are the most important exercises of them all. The energies of the element of fire, remember, are those of the spirit. It has been my experience that the majority of people who live out their lives at the mercy of their inner demons have no spiritual energy in their lives. They are able to function in our society, they can earn a decent living, and they can even be caring and friendly people. But they go through their lives with everything out of whack because of their secular humanist mindset. Prometheus risked everything to bring the spiritual energy of fire to humanity, but for nearly two centuries now, our Newtonian leaders have been resoundingly successful in their efforts to destroy it. The inevitable result is illusion, miscalculation, and demon enthrallment so stupendous that anyone who suffers from it cannot even remotely do what is called living. There is no better way to invite messes into your life than by ignoring the spiritual side of your existence.

But there are several easy ways to increase the spiritual energy in your existence. This means not just occasional church attendance or a prayer before bedtime, but devoting a good 25% of your life and consciousness to matters of the spirit. Yes, I know--you don't have the time. There is work to be done and children to be raised. But has it ever occurred to you that the work you do and the raising of your children might turn effortless if you welcomed more spiritual energy into your life?

Well, that's going to start happening anyway once you start consulting an oracle. And the more you work with your oracle, the more you are going to discover that the spiritual stuff can get interesting. Fortunately, there are several other helpful ways to bring more spiritual energy into your life, as follows:

Daily spiritual discipline.

Just as you need daily physical, emotional, and intellectual exercises, you also need a spiritual practice. In my opinion this means a minimum of one hour a day during which you commune with the eternal. The messes in our lives never seem to matter that much when we remember that there is more to human existence than the few dozen years we spend upon this earth. And yes, I know--finding that one hour a day is going to mean a ghastly sacrifice for most people, especially since it usually means TV deprivation, which is one of the ultimate American horrors.

Well, all I can say is give it a try. If you make an hour to commune with eternity every evening, you will soon discover that this hour is the most precious in your existence. Your daily divination can be part of this hour, remember. But it also helps to read something sacred, or recite your favorite prayers, or just sit in the darkness and listen to the whispers of the universe. Your energies are guaranteed to shift to a higher level during the other twenty-three hours of your day.

Creativity.

This next spiritual exercise is not only beneficial, it is the greatest of all the exercises I have discussed so far. This is the practice of creativity. A daily creative practice has the power to transform everything which is dark and miserable in your life into the most positive kind of demon-free energy. Are you aware that the first hexagram of the Yi Jing is qian, the creative? In other words, the oldest oracle in the world starts off with the idea of creation. And there is a Zen saying that the way of art is the way of the Buddha.[89] The most important kind of exercise you need to do every day of your life is creative.

If this doesn't make any sense, let me remind you of something called ectropy. As has been mentioned, most of the world mythologies tell us that the primal action of the Divine is the creation of some kind of form out of chaos. This means that when you make an effort to bring forth something out of nothing, you are aligning yourself to the Divine in the best possible way. If you also do your best to bring as much Divine energy as you can into your creative endeavors, the greater will be your alignment. There is simply no better way to go with the natural flow.

This means that the simple act of being creative can be one of the most positive experiences you can ever know. Mind you, I'm not talking about the kind of second-hand effort which comes from filling in the lines, following a recipe, or manipulating mass-produced plastic. You need to practice the real kind of creativity, the kind which manifests artistic form out of chaotic nothing. And guess what word turns up again here? Nothing less than the ever popular rta. This time we find it in the word art. Rta is the ancestor of dharma, ritual, harmony--and now art. Since in its form of krta, rta is also the ancestor of create, this means that when you create art, you are giving yourself a double rta whammy. Rta rta sis boom ba!

But as usual there are a several catches. First, being creative just happens to be hard. It is the 99% of perspiration as opposed to 1% of inspiration, and most people don't want to go there. Next, countless millions in today's narcissistic world are just totally certain that they are wonderfully creative, since Mom, Dad, and Teach have told them so. Well, if you've been walking around thinking you're the second coming of Paul Gauguin, you'd better ditch that fast. Nothing will block a person's innate creative ability like normal American conceit. Finally, those how-to-be-creative advice books which creative wannabes purchase by the ton are without exception beyond terrible. One problem is that they do their tidy best to promise you status or money once you create something, which everyone just + knows is the inevitable result of being creative. Upchuck time again.

Still, it is possible for you to start creating something worthwhile any time you like. Even if you can't compose like Henry Purcell, you can still find myriad ways of expressing yourself, if only by creating intangibles like serenity or harmony in your life. Or you can cook, garden, knit, carve wood, or make furniture. And the realms of poetry, art, and music are open to anyone. Forget about watching yet another example of us-against-them: making something out of nothing is the best possible use of your leisure time. When you start to feel creative inspiration flowing through you, your inner void no longer seems like a horrifying emptiness but a marvel of potential.

But if you've never tried to do anything creative, how are you supposed to start? It is now time to examine a new group of Divine companions:  those delightful beings known as the Muses.

The Muses.

The Muses are those supernatural beings who stimulate the imagination of us poor pathetic mortals. The Greeks conceived the original muses to be the nine daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne (memory) and named them as follows: Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Erato (lyrical poetry), Euterpe (music), Melpomene (tragedy), Polyhymnia (sacred poetry), Terpsichore (dance), Thalia (comedy), and Urania (astronomy). In recent years these ladies have been joined by numerous other sisters: muses of photography, graphic design, sculpture, film, painting, or any kind of human activity which requires both inspiration and craftsmanship. No one has yet bothered to bestow names upon our new muses, but they are nevertheless as real as their sisters. So powerful are these gallant ladies that once you welcome one or more into your life, they will transform those inner demons of yours into ever more intangible cream puffs.

A word of caution is necessary here. Having a muse in your life isn't all it's cracked up to me. Once you've acquired a muse, you will quickly discover that she's always there, 24/7, and she will never hesitate to start bugging you at the most inconvenient moments. It can get irritating very quickly hearing write something! or draw something! when you're scrubbing the floor or brushing your teeth. Well, so what if you occasionally have to put down the toothbrush when inspiration strikes? Things could be worse.

On the other hand, once you've got a muse there are no more midnights dreary. Muses do have their blessings, after all. They are able to show you the Reality to be found beyond reason or intellect, and they will always tell you the absolute Truth. They will also never give you a hangover, wreck your liver, ruin your relationships, evaporate your savings, or turn you into the slave of a substance. If more people focused on muses instead of substances, rehab would be history.

But how do you choose which muse is best for you? That should be an easy answer by now. As for me, my muse is Thalia, the muse of comedy. For many pleasant years now she has ruled my inspirational roost so completely that I can no longer image life without her. I am in continual search for the humorous phrase, the silly joke, the memorable wise crack, and Thalia is sweet enough to dish them up to me whenever she feels like it. Muses'll do that for you every time.

But once you figure out which muse is best for you, then how do you get her to come into your life? Well, you could always try musing while listening to some music. This is otherwise known as chill out, that great American pastime of doing nothing except going brain dead while hearing your favorite sounds. Of course such a wanton waste of your precious time has always made the more puritanical among us froth at the mouth, but it is one way to open the creativity door. Hours spent with an empty mind listening to music is a practice which can transform you in ways you never thought possible. As for me, I especially appreciate the ethereal sounds of Celtic or Oriental music to get my creative juices churning, but classical or slow jazz can do it as well--as a matter of fact, Debussy can give anyone a blast of satori, or a reasonable facsimile thereof, in about twenty minutes flat. All you've got to do is listen, really listen, while forgetting the monkeyness inside your meandering mind. Don't try to follow a train of thought but relax into gentle reverie. If you are already living in music by now, those ideas will start to come.

What now follows are my other suggestions about how your muse can help you engender form out of chaos.

Forget the ego.

Here we are again, back to our favorite tarot card. Most people who strive to create something out of nothing usually have a very nasty thought at the back of their heads, which goes like this: wouldn't it be nice if I really am a genius? Ah, yes--geniushood! Being right up there with Michelangelo, Shakespeare, and Beethoven! Now would this ever be totally awesome, or what? I mean, people would just start to kowtow to you every time you turned around! Talk about rapture! You'd also start wallowing in so much dough that you'd be able to afford that penthouse suite in no time!

Oh no, you wouldn't, not if you're going to let your inner Vanity Demon strangle every ounce of your creative ability. The artistic wannabe who is self-obsessed, self-referential, and a good American narcissist is as far away from being a genius as an American politician. Those poets and painters who truly speak to us are able to do so because they are possessed with a permeable instead of a fortress ego and can transmute an experience of an Other into effective words, melody, or form. The vanity of glory is meaningless to a genuine creator, as is the gratification of their ego. True creativity is generated by one thing only: our old friend the Hanged Man.

This notion has been expressed by many creators over the years. André Gide tells us that "art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better."[90] J.R.R. Tolkien described his imaginative efforts as sub-creation, meaning they were a form of Divine creative energy.[91] In Swann's Way (1913) Marcel Proust contrasts the energies of a collector with that of an artist: the first is described as proud, selfish, and addicted to sensual thrills, while the second is humble, spiritual, and disinterested.[92] Until the last three words accurately describe your energy field, you're going to end up as a museum curator instead of Caravaggio.

So if you want to be creative, humility is the one energy that counts. Many people mistake humility as weakness, but it is one of the most positive energies we can possess. So forget your ego and learn how to become a living unity with other energy manifestations around you. And don't forget that whenever you encounter an Other, you are also encountering the Self.

Practice practice practice.

I have already mentioned the thousands of practice hours necessary before you can master anything. Creativity is yet one more energy which needs to be practiced into being. Even Shakespeare had an apprenticeship. So if you want to create, you need to make it a daily repetitive practice, to be done every single day for the rest of your life.

Perceive perceive perceive.

Part of your practice should consist of careful and deliberate perception. Perception is one of the great Western ideals, right up there with the value of reason and the uniqueness of the human personality. One thing I've noticed over the years is that there is a colossal difference between perceiving the world only vaguely or remotely, and being utterly and forcefully aware of everything you encounter. Most people barely notice what they see and hear. They scatter their awareness to the winds, or they're trapped in tunnel vision and focus only what flatters their ego. You can never tell these people that they aren't truly aware of the world around them since they know perfectly well that they are--they are living and breathing human beings, aren't they? Well, if you go through life with your powers of perception only barely functioning, and with your eyes and ears shutting out the world thanks to the mental noise in your skull, no, you're not truly aware. You're living your life on automatic pilot.

Here I need to repeat that true perception is always intentional. We don't notice everything that comes into our environment--we pick and choose what we pay attention to, even though we are seldom conscious that we are making a choice. The world around us happens to be a chaotic conglomeration of energies, much of which we must filter out in order to make sense of our existence. As a result, we have imprisoning patterns of thought or behavior which deaden us to our surroundings. An ability to truly perceive the world comes only when you can free yourself from the blocks you have set up within your psyche to shut things out. With practice you can train your senses to follow form or sound without preconception. Freedom of perception is one of the most essential psychological sensations we can possess.

Freedom of perception also goes hand and hand with intensity of perception. I have always been a great believer in intensity. If you're going to have an experience, it may as well be intense, or else why bother? So if you want to successfully create, you have to start wallowing in sensation the way Omar Khayyam did, or perceive color and radiance like Mary Cassatt, or turn the natural sounds of the earth into the kind of Divine harmony that Johannes Brahms heard ringing in his ears. Do this, and you will start to enjoy a multitude of new experiences which can transform your life.

There are two simple tricks which can help you get started. First, you need to start going through life with the kind of beginner's mind described by Shunryu Suzuki's in his Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind (1970). A beginner's mind means that you need to treat everything you encounter as if it were the first energy manifestation of its kind you've seen, tasted, heard, felt, or smelled in your life. The nice thing about keeping a beginner's mind is that even the smallest pleasures of life, like a sunrise or a piece of freshly baked bread, can start to provide you with tremendous enjoyment. You don't need a lot of stuff in your life to be happy--you need to develop the kind of mindset where the world is reborn every second of your existence. Eventually you will be surprised at how vivid the world starts to become.

The second trick is, as always, to center yourself in the only true Reality you will ever know, the present moment. I have mentioned the present moment several times by now, but there is one other aspect to it which is a necessity as far as perception is concerned. You should not just go into the present moment or enjoy it as intensely as possible--you need to start treating it as something sacred. This is a technique recommended by 18th century Jesuit Jean Pierre de Caussade, who called it the sacrament of the present moment.[93] In other words, not only should you experience the moments of your life with a constant awareness, you should sacralize them as well. Caussade tells us that no matter where you are or what you are doing, if you treat what is occurring as a portal to the Divine, you can make it holy. This means that when breakfast turns into oh, wow--this sacred bowl of oatmeal I'm eating is the most irresistibly delicious meal I've ever had in my life! . . . things will shift. (Now, stop it. If you can spend a few seconds of your life thinking wow thoughts about your oatmeal instead of kill thoughts about your mother-in-law, it's going to improve your karmic balance. Every little bit helps.)

So a beginner's mind existing in the Sacred Now is the kind of perception exercise you need. And don't forget that mystical vision happens to be vision. It occurs in people who are looking: at anything and everything they can sense in the present space and the present time. If you start practicing this kind of Nowness, sooner or later you might find yourself living as intensely as that fellow named Waldo, who found emanations the Divine in a lowly rhodora.[94] Or you might be able to experience the kind of rapture Chinese poet Wang Wei could feel:

To gaze upon the clouds of autumn, a soaring exaltation in the soul; to feel the spring breeze stirring wild, exultant thoughts; where is there in the possession of gold and jewels to compare with delights like these?[95]
Both guys are right, of course. As long as you make an effort to touch, smell, taste, listen, and look, you will never find yourself in that drag called just another day.

Forget the money.

Here we go again about the money. Creativity is yet another type of positive energy which is annihilated by the almighty dollar. It is true that as we go through our lives we need a roof over our heads and a reasonable amount of financial security. But if you want to keep your creative energy sacred, you will do it just for the joy of doing it, and not to acquire the designer dresses, the lobster salads, or an ever-increasing collection of Beanie Babies. When you are trying to bring form into being, it won't be worth much of anything if you keep thinking about the cash your efforts are going to generate.

I know these statements fly in the face of yet another unexamined premise of our culture which goes like this: muse = money. Being creative is supposed to be a way to earn a living. It helps you avoid the ball and chain called a job or a business. Alas, this is not quite the reality of our present cultural moment, which goes more like this: the more terrible your oeuvre, the greater the danger of you making a lot of money. In other words, creating worthless garbage is the one of the best ways to line your pockets these days. What's even worse is that you might actually turn into a celebrity! People will start paying attention to you, which means that you're infinitely better than those dumb jocks you used to hang around with! O will this ever be heaven, or what!

Well, creativity is a spiritual energy, remember, and like all other positive energies, it will always be destroyed by money. Japanese craftsmen have always believed that they lose their skills if they accumulate wealth beyond what they truly need.[96] Unless you can constantly remember that it's the doing which matters and not the result, you may as well forget it.

Forget group creativity.

One of the most widespread illusions in our deluded culture is the idea of group creativity, which pops up in fool's paradises called think tanks or brainstorming. Everybody just + knows that the most brilliant innovations are always the result of a group of people coming together and exchanging ideas, right? Well, if this nonsense happens to be one of your most cherished beliefs, why don't you run it past an oracle sometime? If you ask me, brainstorming accomplishes nothing but one ego bouncing off another, with certain egos getting angry in the process. One thing I've learned over the years is that if you try functioning within any kind of group, you must stifle your own inner truth in order to keep the group functional. No trace of Divine energy to be found in a clunky encounter like this, just confusion and disharmony. Besides, Reality tells us that the most brilliant innovations are dreamed up only when the alone is with the Alone. Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Edison, and Albert Einstein weren't members of teams--they were individuals who followed their own vision.  If you want to bring forth a successful manifestation, you need to interact with the Divine, not with the guys on the Innovation Steering Committee.

Keep moving.

There is one thing you can deliberately do to keep your creative juices flowing: keep your mind moving. And the easiest way to keep your mind moving is by moving your body. Inspiration never comes when a part of your anatomy is in continual contact with a piece of furniture. But the more you move your muscles, the more easily the ideas come. And nothing does it better than the simple act of walking, or pacing back and forth. I have read that John Singer Sergeant estimated he walked about four miles back and forth in his studio when he was working on a painting. If you want to master your craft, move your feet.

This, by the way, is the major problem with coffeehouses: there is no place to pace. You're stuck sitting in a chair, attempting to swallow scummy pastries and burnt-beans joe, while the sound of muzak scorches your ears. Can you honestly think that this kind of environment will inspire you? Dear friend, the only manifestations which form in a coffeehouse are stress, cavities, high blood pressure, adrenal crash, and extra weight.

Forget the clear light of day.

One other problem with coffeehouses is that hideous artificial light which poisons everything it illuminates. Who in the world ever got the idea that strong light makes you creative? Inspiration comes most easily when the world that surrounds you is dim and vague, and externals aren't grabbing your attention. If you start thinking of darkness as a gateway into a realm where new form can come into being, you will discover that it can be the greatest blessing you can experience. So forget the sunshine and sip some wine or herbal tea in the twilight.

Negative capability.

Poet John Keats used the memorable term negative capability to define creative ability. If you want poetic inspiration, you need to be "in uncertainties, Mysteries, doubts without any irritable reaching after fact & reason."[97] In other words, you need to keep your mind open to new ideas or the creative potential of chaos. Keats claimed that William Shakespeare excelled at these qualities, and a recent biographer of Abraham Lincoln has also suggested that our 16th president possessed them as well.[98] I would wholeheartedly agree. This doesn't mean that you should wallow in continual mental uproar when you want to be creative, but you must occasionally reconsider your beliefs, rethink if necessary, and leave room for new energies to appear within you. It also means that you should jettison your Newtonian demands for explanation, analysis, or classification.

Negative space and time.

I have already mentioned the delights of living in uncluttered space, but here I must add that only in uncluttered space will inspiration readily come to you. All muses demand the blessing of emptiness. This means your domicile should be a place for potential instead of stuff. Life with a whole lot of nothing tends to generate the kinds of spontaneous energies which you need for your creations. As for negative time, when you have moments in your life where neither the past nor the future has any meaning, the right kinds of creative bursts will start to happen. But if you think that all you have to do is give yourself a few empty hours in your hectic schedule, you'd better think again. What you need is nothing less than a lifestyle shift. Fortunately when you start to lose interest in what is toxic and useless in our culture, that time will appear.

Consult your oracle.

Finally, one of the best ways to be creative is through the use of an oracle. There is nothing like asking the cards for guidance to help you to move past your blocks. What now follows are some suggestions for creative questions you can put to an oracle, along with some sample readings:

Which muse is best for me?


Interpretation
: You don't need anything emotional, deep, or heavy. It's probably best if you focus on something light and intellectual, such as essays or blogs.

How can I get past my writer's block?


Interpretation
: You're suffering under the delusion that you need new ideas to get your creative juices flowing. But the Two of Swords tells you that you already have the right kind of energy in your life to stimulate your vision--you simply have to open your eyes to see it. The World reversed is telling you that some kind of energy you thought had ended in your life isn't really over and done with--it is still a part of your life and needs to be dealt with.

What techniques can I use to increase my perception of natural forces like fog, moonlight, or snow?


Interpretation: The Hierophant reversed indicates that some kind of structured spiritual energy in your life needs to be released. The Four of Swords reversed shows you how to do it: start actively thinking about new ways you could be more perceptive. But the Ace of Cups tells you that at all times and under all circumstances you should be alert to the Divine energy which is constantly flowing down upon you.

What manifestations of the beautiful do I need to focus on at this point in my life?


Interpretation
: Wow! Blackness, barrenness, and lack of light. How can these be manifestations of the beautiful? Well, of course they are--everything is beautiful in one way or another. And you've probably been going through your existence avoiding these kinds of energies since you find them threatening. Now is the time for you to start focusing on what you've been shunning, and you will probably be surprised at what you discover.
 

* * *


So as far as fire energy is concerned, there you have it. You simply need to devote at least an hour each day to eternity and also spend as much time as you can in the company of a muse. Of all the elemental exercises I've been recommending, I think that these fire activities will give you the greatest blessings you can experience.

Well, we’ve made it through the four classical elements. However, we're not finished with elemental reality yet. There is yet one more element to consider: the fifth element, which is known as the quintessence or the aether. I have already mentioned that I consider  earth, air, fire, and water to be the quadripartite Reality of our universe.  However, it is now time to examine what happens when they all come together.



Chapter 19. Aether: From Ego to Net.


What is to be [man's] greatest deed, his crowning achievement? Long ago he recognized that all perceptible matter comes from a primary substance, or a tenuity beyond conception, filling all space, the akasha or luminiferous ether, which is acted upon by the life-giving prana or creative force, calling into existence, in never ending cycles, all things and phenomena.--Nichola Tesla, in an article titled "Man's Greatest Achievement", published in the New York American, July 6, 1930.


We will now take a look at the mysterious fifth element known as the aether. Over the centuries this substance has been considered distinct from yet paradoxically the sum total of the other four elements. In antiquity it was believed that the aether was some kind of universal medium which could be found not only in the physical manifestations of our earth but in the endless space above our heads. In Latin it was called quinta essentia, which eventually gave us our word quintessence, the core reality of an energy field.

The ancient Hindus also believed in a fifth element, which they called the akasha, a Sanskrit word meaning sky or space. Western ideas of the aether were never exactly equivalent to the Vedic conception of the akasha, but the similarities are interesting. The akasha was considered to be the primal energy of the universe which surrounded and permeated everything. It was also a field filled with sound, as Vedic seers associated the akasha with the sense of hearing. It has been suggested that the sacred syllable om, which turns up both in the East (in Hindu and Buddhist mantras and prayers) and in the West (in the Abrahamic word amen), is the primal sound of the akasha.

The akasha was also considered to be the first emanation of the Divine, out of which everything else manifested. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad even identifies the akasha with the Supreme Being:

He who inhabits the akasa, yet is within the akasa, whom the akasa does not know, whose body the akasa is and who controls the akasa from within--He is your Self, the Inner Controller, the Immortal.[99]
So this fifth element adds up to something not only essential but a manifestation of the Godhead. This becomes especially intriguing when we remember that the aether/akasha is supposed to permeate the heavens as well as the earth. When we postmoderns think of outer space, we tend to imagine it as a huge empty void, but ancient seers in both East and West considered it a living energy field which unified the other energies in the universe. Recent scientific discoveries have given support to this idea, most notably the detection of the Higgs boson subatomic particle in 2012. This particle enables other particles which interact with it to acquire mass. Without the Higgs boson there would be no form or gravity in our universe.

So as usual contemporary physics is telling us the same thing about Reality as did the ancient seers, namely that vacant space is nothing but another cognitive illusion. But also as usual, our most respected physicists cannot explain why the Higgs boson gives mass to other particles. My alert readers, however, will have an explanation: Divine energy. Perhaps that is why some wit has dubbed the Higgs boson particle the God Particle. Well, why not? If the Higgs boson is what causes matter to manifest, why not call it God?

And why not also connect it to another kind of Divine energy which has long been sensed by human beings: the idea of the life force? The life force has been called by various names over the centuries: prana, qi, spiritus, dao, élan vital, ruah, and logos among others. Like aether/akasha, these terms also relate to the Godhead. Most mystical visionaries have sensed that the endlessly transforming energies of the universe are not lifeless atomic swerves as Epicurus would have it, but movements of some kind of mind or intelligence. Twentieth century physicist Sir James Jeans' celebrated quote that "the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine" is spot-on accurate.[100] Our spacetime universe is some kind of mind.

I like to think that all of this--aether, the Higgs boson, space, time, matter, energy, the life force--somehow comes together into a grand unified theory of everything. Of course, this theory exists more in the realm of metaphysics than physics, but in an interconnected universe, it feels right. It also means that there is no such thing as a void. What we fallible human beings sense as emptiness is always a living field filled with Divine energy, out of which form or pattern will inevitably manifest.

This brings me to a certain something about which the reader has probably been curious since Chapter 3. Remember our ephemeral old friend feelgoodness? That hugely uninteresting sensation which most people will do anything to get, since it is the only way to stave off their feelings of inner emptiness? Well, the aether/akasha/Higgs-Boson interconnection tells us that our inner void is nothing but another illusion. Reality is the living energy which can be found throughout the universal mind we inhabit. And there is a special kind of this energy which we have not yet discussed, which is something that is guaranteed to render most people’s frantic desire for feelgooness not just obsolete, but irrelevant as well. So what feels better than good? It is time for the great revelation.

Divine grace.

That's right. Feelgoodness is nothing but nothing compared to the stupendous wallop you can get whenever you experience that ectropic energy known as Divine grace. If the aether/akasha/Higgs-Boson field is truly some kind of living energy field, I think we can legitimately state that it consists of the ultimate blessing of the Divine, that ancient concept called grace. When this kind of energy comes into your life, your inner void is never experienced as a horror but as the sacred reality it truly is.

As a victim of American education, you are probably wondering what the heck I'm talking about now. Divine grace? Am I kidding? And what the heck is it anyway? Well, grace has been defined as the kind of Divine assistance which is spontaneously given humans for their regeneration or sanctification. Regardless of their spiritual tradition, most people like the idea of Divine grace--it is no mystery that Amazing Grace is one of the country's most popular hymns. And the idea of grace is not unique to Western cultures; it is also known in the Hindu tradition as kripa and as fadl in Islam. Divine grace is the supreme emotional/physical/intellectual/spiritual experience us poor mortals can ever know.

The as-usual catch is that grace is a gift from the Divine which can never be manipulated into being. I've sung the praises of daily repetitive exercise for several chapters now, but as far as grace is concerned, exercise is useless. It only happens when the Divine elects to bestow it . . . spontaneously.

Scream. Fury. Resentment. If ever there was anything which might drive a practical American to insanity, this is it. If the blessing of Divine grace is so fabulously wonderful, we should be able to get it into our lives when we start doing our best to jettison our negative energies, right? Alas, it doesn't happen like that. So here am I, finally telling you what feels better than good, but I'm also telling you that there's no practical way you can manipulate it into your life. This shouldn't be the way the universe works.

And if this weren't bad enough, here comes something worse: it is only with the blessings of Divine grace that you can eliminate your bad karma. If after reading this book, you now realize that you have been putting out plenty of negative energy over the years, you will naturally want to do something about it. You will want to wipe away the energies which you now regret in your life, those times when you were greedy, dishonest, groupthinkist, or bad-tempered. Nobody wants to be clobbered by a long-overdue Cosmic Boomerang, even when they know that they've got it coming. Alas, there is no such thing as a successful Five Year Karmic Erasure Plan. You cannot manipulate yourself out of bad karma any more than you can manipulate Divine grace into your life.

I am not the only one who senses this. Various writers on karma, including Edgar Cayce, Virginia Hanson, and Lynn Sparrow, have also felt that the way out of bad karma is not through any kind of compensatory action, but through the spontaneous blessing of the Divine.[101] None other than the Holy Goof himself, Neal Cassady, says in one of his letters: "Grace beats karma."[102] It is true that if you start to work with the divination and exercise techniques I have discussed in this book, they will change your energies for the better. However, there is nothing you can do to manipulate bad karma out of your energy field, let along bring Divine grace into your life. And the latter is the only kind of energy which will get you out of your worst messes, up to and including the most disastrous kinds of health or addiction problems.

During the writing of this book, whenever I typed the words there is a way out of everything, I would remind myself that for a hardcore alcoholic or druggie, or someone suffering a terminal illness, there is no guaranteed way out. As far as chemical addictions are concerned, they change the neural patterns of your body. Substances like alcohol or nicotine target the dopamine receptors in the brain, which means that repeated ingestion of the chemical eventually becomes the only way life is bearable. Everything else starts to fade away. Chemical substance abusers who try to break free from their substance discover they're not just fighting a chemical but also the toxic energy pathways which have been established in their bodies. Unfortunately the combination of the two makes for a hideously effective entrapment.

So where is the way out in cases like these? Well, let us not forget that the Divine is always willing to give us help whenever we ask/give permission. Why couldn't an addict who's desperate to quit his substance ask/give permission for the Divine to help him out of his torments? And not just once, but every day of his life? Wouldn't that solve the problems? Especially if the person needing help has also decided to take full responsibility for the state of his health and is doing his level best to discard bad habits and negative energies? When you make up your mind to follow the proverbial God helps those who help themselves, you are actively aligning yourself to the natural flow of energy. Doesn't this mean anything?

Well, yes--a bit. It means that you have at least opened the door to the possibility of Divine grace, instead of keeping it slammed shut. This isn't everything, but it's something. But as for forcing a miracle to happen, no way.

Still, there is one other bit of welcome news here. While you cannot manipulate Divine grace into your life, it is always within your power to generate the next closest thing to it: our old friend rta. There's no evidence that the word grace is etymologically connected to the word rta, but like the word tarot, grace (or at least its Latin form of gratia) seems to possess a phantom rta resemblance. By now you should realize that any time you are working with the energies of rta, you are experiencing the ultimate in celestial harmony. You can generate this harmony whenever you deliberately bring rta into your existence, in its multiple meanings of Sanskrit, karma, dharma, harmony, create, art, and ritual.

One more word counts here: gratitude. I have already mentioned that gratitude is one of the few emotions which contains 100% positive energy. It is now interesting to discover that the word gratitude comes from the same Proto-Indo-European root which is the ancestor of grace, gwere, meaning to favor. And me being me, I see a bit of rta here as well, even though there's no evidence that the word gratitude is related to rta any more than grace is. But it makes sense to think that when you feel grateful for a blessing in your life, you are experiencing rta. We have finally milked rta for all it's worth, but it was worth it since its last (possible) manifestation, gratitude, is a rta energy you can generate at any time in your existence. This matters when you remember Zen master Dogen's belief that enlightenment happens when you do the practice. Well, then--since grace and gratitude descend from the same word, could we say that maybe, just maybe, grace happens when you do the gratitude? Could that be possible?

Guess what tells me I'm on to something. Start keeping a gratitude diary, guys.

It is now time to summarize one of the main themes of this book, how you can find happiness. What your esteemed author believes will make you happy should be obvious: Reality, Truth, inner luxury, going with the flow, a permeable ego, self-awareness, self-reliance, benevolence, reciprocity, moderation in all things, contemplation, creativity, harmony, detachment, the summum bonum, movement through time and space, the sun/moon/stars, daily repetitive exercise, and Divine grace.

What won't make you happy should be equally obvious: illusion, manipulation, ego, money, stuff, ignorance, empowerment, the artificial, stasis, fun-filled excitement, social engineering, substances, and obsessions. Especially obsessions. When you're obsessed about something, you've enslaved yourself to some kind of external, and in case you haven't noticed, slavery does not generate happiness. This especially holds true for those obsessions of the codependent/projection variety, which are always tickets to endless misery. If you cannot make yourself happy, no one else can.

As for those other obsessions known as addictions . . . if it eventually proves that you are not able to free yourself from an addiction or recover your health, you have to trust that the Divine knows better that you do what needs to happen in your life. If this means that you must pass into spirit at what seems like the worst possible time, so be it. The thing to remember is that you do not want to leave your physical existence with bitterness in your soul, since you will drag that energy with you when you pass. But if you accept your fate with serenity and gratitude, you will be in much better karmic shape.
 

* * *


We're not finished with the aether yet. We now need to examine a different aspect of it. More specifically, we need to ask if there is any way we can do some kind of exercise to align ourselves to its energies. I think that not only is this definitely within our power but that the necessary exercise is very simple: all we have to do is start paying attention to the energies which come to us out of the sky above our heads. Specifically the astrological energies which are constantly bombarding the earth. They are among the most powerful energies we can sense. In other words, I am talking about the new energies which are coming to our planet here at the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.

Oh, merciful heavens! Am I about to reveal myself as a believer in that thoroughly discredited humbug called astrology? You're darn tooting I am. Mind you, when I talk about astrology, I am not referring to the horoscopes on display in the daily newspapers, which seem to be aimed at prom queens and/or village idiots. But on a broader level astrology can tell us something about the kinds of energies we deal with in our physical reality. After all, astrology is based on the elemental energies of earth, air, fire, and water. Its general outlines are valid and demonstrable. We can all see and understand the effect of the sun and the moon upon planetary life every day of our lives. So it is so absurd to believe that the planet Jupiter or the constellation Virgo might have an effect upon us as well? We should remember that the farthest stars in the galaxy have an influence upon earthly life, if only gravitational. The fact that this influence cannot be measured with current scientific instruments doesn't mean that it doesn't exist.

Let us also not forget that everything is interconnected. Nothing in the universe can exist separate and apart from everything else. To imagine that human beings are never affected by astral energies is ridiculous folly. There is no separation between human beings and the natural world any more than there is a separation between human beings and the energies of the stars.

So what are astrological energies telling us about the present moment in time? That's easy. Our planet has just passed through a two thousand year period when Piscean energies were bombarding the planet, but these are starting to fade away as we move into a new astrological era, that of Aquarius. The most important ectropic energies of our era are Aquarian, while the forms and institutions of the Piscean era are entropically fading away. This is not the end of civilization as we know it, as the assorted jeremiadists among us believe--jeremiadists who are baffled as to why time-honored social or religious patterns are no longer working. We are simply shifting into a new kind of astrological reality. This helps to explain why there are so many disprojs among us today. It's not only because of chemical toxicity--people are scared because old cultural forms are collapsing all around them, and they don't understand why it is happening.

Pisces is a water sign, meaning things which are emotional and hidden. Its supreme symbol is that of the Comfort Zone, that snug and safe little refuge where your inner demons can reign supreme. Human beings in the Piscean era went through their lives swamped by endless emotional desires and terrified by randomness. Pisces was also a sign of faith--you believed in the teachings of your particular group because they were emotionally important to you, not because they could be empirically verified.

Of course, we tend to think that human beings in all eras have lived their lives in thrall to these kinds of energies. But if you know anything about classical antiquity, you can see that there wasn't a lot of brain-dead emotionalism prior to the Piscean era. This holds true especially about religion. In the Greek and Roman eras, when you moved from one city to another, you simply started worshipping the gods of your new city, instead of hanging on for dear life to whatever Divine concept you had been raised in. Can you imagine an Israeli moving to Baghdad doing the same today, let alone an Arab relocating to Tel Aviv? This is difficult to imagine, to put it mildly.

Christianity came into being right around the time of the change from the Arian to the Piscean era. And it gave us a new Divine concept, one whose system was based on emotions, specifically the emotion of love. This was a first in human history: a god of love presiding over a religion of love. And how much love have we had ever since. Love conquers all. Love is forever. Love can make you happy. It takes two to tango. Toujours l'amour. Long live Anna Karenina and Madame Butterfly--until they do themselves in, for that wonderful little thing called codependence and projection.

Well, here in the 21st century, love as an ultimate value in our culture is at a dead end, as are innumerable other Piscean forms. But we need to remind ourselves that things fall apart only so that forms can come into being. And this is what astrology is telling us about our 21st century reality. We are moving away from Piscean emotionalism into Aquarian intellectualization. Aquarius is an air sign, with connotations of communication, reason, and information. These energies are going to create a world where thought is going to count instead of feeling, the mind instead of the heart.

All this means that the cyber world which has sprung up in the past few decades is very much a manifestation of Aquarian energies. These days you can easily communicate with whomever you like in most parts of the world. You can also obtain most any kind of information that you need. Humanity is moving upwards into the fresh clean air where knowledge will be freely available to everyone. Not just information but Truth: in the Piscean era the truth was always hidden, but in the Aquarian age it will out.

We should also note that Aquarian energies are those of humanitarianism. The pattern which the Aquarian stars make is that of a water-bearer, a human figure who wants to give the water of life to his or her fellow human beings. Handing another sentient being some water just happens to be a truly beneficent action. In other words, it's not the kind of I'm-a-humanitarian ego crap we've got at the moment. It's a genuine humanitarianism, the gosh awful real thing.

There are signs all over the world today that some kind of immense change in our planetary reality is starting to take place. Consider the phenomenon of white animals. In recent years people have been astonished to see that white animals of many different species have been born all over the world, including gorillas, peacocks, lions, foxes, ravens, tigers, moose, cobras, whales, hummingbirds, and buffalos. To Native Americans like the Lakota Indians, white buffalos are sacred animals whose appearance signifies a major shift in our earthly reality. Even more interestingly, everything the Lakotas believe about this new reality--sacred connection, healing, harmony, a state of oneness not only in each individual but in the planet as a whole--sounds to me like Aquarian reality.

So while we're still swamped by legacy Newtonian paradigms at the moment, the new energies forming around us are impacting both the planet as a whole and each of us individually. Have you ever experienced any of the following?

Do any of these describe you? Well, you're already well on the way into the new Aquarian world even if you've never realized it. At the moment, of course, it is probably impossible for you to imagine this new world. The thought of our planet not populated by human beings in thrall to groupthink, vanity, greed, or any of the other inner demons we've examined is too inconceivable for words. But when you remember that nothing lasts forever, including time-honored patterns of human shittiness, you must acknowledge that Homo sapiens has the potential for further evolution. Even evolution into grace and harmony. The human race is now at a point where it can break free of its horrific illusions, up to and including the legacy political/religious groupthink which continues to wreak havoc all over the world. There actually is a practical and workable alternative to the mess we've got now.

What needs to happen is simple, namely that people need to move into Reality, thus effecting a higher and more transparent kind of consciousness. This transparency is already happening: we live in a world where billions now pay more attention to the impalpable instead of the tangible, to bytes instead of solidity. You mean you never realized that your daily encounters with bytes were speeding up your vibes? As well as making your supposedly “solid” body more and more transparent? Wait till you see how fast your energies start to spin when you add daily divination and exercise to the mix. When the energy fields of all of us Homo sapiens start to reach ever higher vibrations, the inevitable result is going to be a more evolved type of human being, plus a whole new social reality.

Still . . . if you're a confirmed legacy Newtonian, you're probably not going to like what I'm saying here. You will want to go on forever with the kind of fiscal, political, and social arrangements which are currently in place. That's the only way you will ever feel warm and comfy and 100% safe, right? Besides, you are rock-solid certain that astrology is baloney, Divine grace is a big fat nothing, a more evolved human consciousness is impossible nonsense, fighting the bad guys makes life interesting, and the way things are now are the way they're always going to be.

Open your mind a little, my friend. We really are on the verge of a new world. The revelations of quantum physics, Aquarian energies, globalization, and the Indra/internet are generating it. The time has come for the human race to get the hell out of Dodge. Let us now examine what our earthly reality would be like if thousands, millions, or even billions of people all over the world stopped being morons and started being Real.



Chapter 20. After the Quantum Leap.


And remember my friend, future events such as these will affect you in the future.--Jeron Criswell in Plan Nine from Outer Space (1955).


Welcome to the Quantum Era. My name is Toshiro Harrigan, and I will be your guide to the world of the 22nd century. You will be interested to hear that I am the reincarnation of a semi-coherent polemicist named Ruth Brown, who came up with a lot of dumb jokes in the early years of the 21st century. As such, I will be able to appreciate your astonishment at the incredible changes which have occurred in our earthly reality during the past century or so. The biggest change here in the year 2140 is that the human race is now governed by Reality instead of illusion. Yes, I know that you would find a talking cantaloupe easier to imagine than a civilization based upon Reality, but let me assure you, our quantum culture happens to be very much Real. Indeed, it is vastly more aligned to the cosmic harmony of the universe than the nonsensical paradigms which bedeviled humanity in your late-Piscean times. We Aquarians have found new and much more congenial ways to live.

Nowadays we can see that the higher kind of human consciousness which came into being during the early years of the 21st century was the single greatest evolutionary leap in human history. This higher consciousness was available to every single soul who wanted to acquire it. When millions of people all over the world started to shift their energies through the use of an oracular tool, everything about our human reality changed for the better. In America that ultimate desiderata, lighting out for the territory, returned. Granted this time it was a territory of consciousness rather than a specific locale, but that made it even better than the old frontier. It was the territory of Reality. Once your oracle helped you to rid yourself of your cognitive illusions, you could start to move freely anywhere you liked, even if only inside your head. People didn't have to get off planet to find interest and excitement. A new kind of cowboy life became available right where they were, that of a Zen cowboy, and there is no cowboy like a Zen cowboy. You get to do what you like, go where you please, and the skies are not cloudy all day. What else do you think happens when you start hearing the voice of the Divine? Throughout most of human history, only a tiny fraction of gifted human beings--prophets, sybils, shamans, and soothsayers--had once been able to receive sacred messages, but when everyone began do it, it changed everything.

Unfortunately, this evolutionary step didn't happen until the human race went through a bit of a crisis first. In the second decade of the 21st century, people who were working with their oracular tools began to pick up on some kind of upheaval coming to the earth before the end of the decade. This emergency had first been predicted by a psychic named Ruth Montgomery, who wrote a book published in 1999 called The World to Come: The Guides' Long-Awaited Predictions for the Dawning Age. In this text, which was published two years before she died, Montgomery gave two major predictions for the future of both the United States and the rest of the planet: (1) some kind of major planetary upheaval was coming, possibly as a result of the earth shifting on its axis, and (2) the American president in office at the time of the Upheaval would make a power grab during the ensuing chaos, which would result in armed rebellion and his death.

Well, the earth shifted on its axis during the Japanese earthquake of 2011, although the change was so slight that it did not cause world-wide upheaval. This might have been the environmental shift which Montgomery had predicted. Nevertheless, in the years that followed, many people began to sense that something big and bad was still coming. It's just that no one knew with any certainty whether the upcoming crisis would be political, economic, or environmental in nature. But coming it was. And sure enough, what we historians now call the Upheaval arrived around the middle of the second decade of the 21st century.

Fortunately the emergency proved to be not as deadly as Montgomery had anticipated for several reasons. First, millions of people all over the world were alerted to the Upheaval before it happened, thanks to the psychics among them and their own ever-increasing psychic abilities. This happened especially in the United States, where millions had come to see the value of working with an oracular tool and had started to rely on it for health and safety questions. When knowledge about a possible upheaval became widespread, many people went to their oracles with the following question:

The answer they received from this question was a near-universal YES. Moreover, it wasn't just a mild little YES--people got major YES's, stupendous YES's, YES's that clobbered their eyeballs with unmistakable meaning. And if they asked the question night after night for weeks or months, they continued to see nothing but YES's. Even the most diehard skeptics began to realize that a planetary shock was coming. The upcoming event was going to be so big that clear information about it started to come through very easily--and very persuasively--many months before the event came to pass.

Once people accepted the idea that a crisis was coming, the only rational thing to do was deal with it. People who trusted their oracular tools were able to identify exactly what they needed to do to prepare for the disruption. They stocked up on food and other supplies, planted gardens, purchased power generators, and took similar survivalist steps. There was already a lot of survivalist advice available by that time, since many people had been subconsciously anticipating some kind of emergency for many years. Not that the survivalists knew exactly what was coming, nor when it would happen, but their gut feelings had told them, correctly, that they had better make some self-reliant preparations.

When the Upheaval finally hit, food, gasoline, and other energy supplies no longer readily available. The disprojs of the time naturally expected the federal government to save them, but no government in the world was capable of saving 300+ million people all at once. What brought people through the crisis was Divine assistance, individual initiative, and neighbors helping neighbors. People banded together in ways which had never happened before in history, and they also called upon the Divine and the angels to help them. The most popular prayer in those days went like this:

The Divine and the angels came through for them time and again. In the darkest days of the crisis millions of people who called upon and gave permission for the Almighty to help them ended up with personal experience of Divine intervention in their lives. If ever there were an event in human history which persuaded people of the presence of Divine energies in their lives, this was it.

As for Montgomery's prediction that the incumbent president would attempt a power-grab after the Upheaval, it didn't necessarily have to happen. History tells us that in the period following the Upheaval, the president in office at the time did conclude that he alone could save the country, or the world, or something like that, so he needed to remain in office past the end of his term. He thereupon instituted martial law and announced that he was going to cancel the regularly scheduled elections. Most people were willing to accept martial law as necessary evil, but everyone expected the elections to be held as usual--they knew that not even Abraham Lincoln had canceled the elections in 1864. Unfortunately the Upheaval president was lost in even more illusion than the other dumbass narcissists whom the American people had routinely put into the White House over the years, so he quite honestly felt that remaining in permanent power would be good for everyone. Such was the entropic collapse of the federal government in those days that the possibility of this kind of power-grab was not only conceivable, it was likely.

What the president didn't realize was that in the months prior to the Upheaval millions of people had been alerted to a possible power-grab on his part and were already organizing in case it happened. They also did what they could to prepare for potential internet disruption. Furthermore, by the time of the Upheaval, this particular president had little or no support among the American military. Their loyalties lay with a piece of paper which said, in plain English, that elections were to be held every four years. Any president who attempted to defy this piece of paper would face an immediate, outraged, and well-organized citizenry, plus plenty of opposition from his own military.

Well, things never got as bad as Montgomery had predicted. When the president learned that in 1999 Ruth Montgomery had predicted he would die in armed rebellion if he tried to seize power after the Upheaval, and that Ruth Brown had made a similar prediction in The Compleat Psychic (2014), he decided to pursue the better part of valor. The elections were held on schedule, and a new president was duly sworn into office at the appropriate time. To everyone's relief, the Upheaval president left the White House on his own two feet instead of inside a coffin and spent the rest of his life with his money.

So in a way the Upheaval was a blessing in disguise. It blasted away zillions of cognitive illusions like nothing else in history. Once things began to return to normal, everyone discovered that it was a new normal, with millions now seeing the Reality for the first time in their lives. The problems in late-Piscean times did not come from politics, religion, economics, or the environment--they came from the cognitive illusions which beset most of the human race in those days. When those illusions started to disappear, everything changed. This meant that by the time the year 2020 arrived, it immediately acquired a nickname: 20/20. That is to say, 20/20 as in clarity of sight. The doors of perception had been cleansed for billions all over the world, and many of the most intractable problems which had bedeviled humanity for years no longer seemed to matter. A combination of planetary upheaval plus Divine assistance brought a new kind of social reality into the world which in earlier years no one would have believed possible.

This was facilitated by an internet innovation which helped to make divination universally popular: psychic networking. You think social networking was a big thing in your era? Wait till you hear what happened when people began psychic networking. Around the time of the Upheaval, a few shrewd entrepreneurs established what were called psychic hive minds, where tarot readers, rune throwers, Yi Jing consulters, and other diviners could post their ongoing oracular revelations. These crowd divination sites quickly became the hottest sites on the internet. People would post divinatory information about businesses, celebrities, candidates for political office, creature comforts, books, movies, and electronics. Never mind writing a review about your experiences with the latest gizmo you purchased--you could now tell the world what your oracle thought of your gizmo. The more people who divined the energies of an object in space, a proposal, a business, or the latest nonsense from Hollyfool, the more accurate the posting was. Needless to say, this innovation was intensely ridiculed at first, but when it proved to be spectacularly accurate, everyone started doing it--and paying attention to it.

At these sites people could also post monthly information about the potential for natural or manmade disasters in their local area for the near future. Diviners would ask their oracles whether their locale would be free of any kind of emergency during the upcoming four to six weeks, and then post their results to the sites. For the first time in human history people could pick up on the likelihood of tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, or other upheavals in their area several weeks before they happened, and sometimes they could even pinpoint the exact day and time when the disaster would hit. Information about potential terrorist attacks could also be posted. This made for quite a change in American national security. Terrorists had always depended upon the unexpected nature of their actions for their impact, but in a 20/20 world nothing was unexpected any longer. Why it took so long for the people in your era to establish psychic networking I cannot imagine, but . . . well, sometimes we Aquarians don't have that much respect for our ancestors.

So in the years after 20/20 there was a seismic shift in what had once been normal patterns of thinking or behaving. Granted that even after the Upheaval, there continued to be millions of legacy boobies who refused to pay any attention to the changes that were taking place. Educators wanted to continue with the medications and the illusions, media people wanted to keep themselves comfy spinning the politicians of their choice, doctors and shrinks were determined to maintain sole control of the machine known as the human body, and politicians wanted to go on forever with their dollar bills and their control freakery. These people did anything they could to fight the new Reality with tooth and manicured nail.

But no one could stop the developments which started happening, especially the changes in the government. It is amusing now to watch antique videos of legacy American politicians frothing at the mouth when they realized that their power was starting to slip away from them. It can't have been pleasant, but they couldn't stop it from happening. But what was happening, you ask? That's easy. That ridiculous monster government on display in Versailles-upon-the-Potomac simply started to evaporate . . . spontaneously. Not because any kind of bloody political battle, but for two simple reasons. First, the psychic networking sites began to reveal very clearly the kinds of energies our elected politicians possessed. Never mind the words that came out of their mouths; for the first time in history people began to focus on energies instead of words, and they didn't like what they discovered.

The second reason went like this: you cannot have a big enormous corrupt and coercive government if nobody wants to work for it. In all the history of deluded humanity, if ever something was not foreseen, it was this: that a time would come, not just in the United States but all over the world, when the peons would no longer want to work for the government. Any government. The new kind of higher consciousness which developed after 20/20 brought this development into being, and once it started happening, there was no going back.

You mean you think that this is the last word in preposterous? Well, you must understand that when young people began to consult their oracles about the potential for a governmental career, all they saw was the most horrific kind of negative energy. Once upon a time, back in the days of illusion, government employment was supposed to be what was so charmingly known as a good job. As incredible as it now seems, that ghastly little four-letter word was applied to the implementation of coercive rules and regulations. How could anyone have considered energies like these to be something good?

They weren't any longer, not in a new oracular world where people were constantly guided by the Divine. After 20/20, young people's oracles told them that they would be better off shoveling snow in Fairbanks, Alaska than working for the government. Nobody in their right mind wanted that kind of toxic energy in their lives, not even for a very pleasant six figures. This kind of awareness even started happening with people who were already slaving away for the state. Once they started to realize what kinds of energies they were putting out in their workplace, anyone who could escape did so. The country began to hear a new rebel yell: I QUIT! Needless to say, most of the people crying out these words were the underlings. The honchos in charge were determined to stay right where they were and continue on as before. But guess what. They no longer had anyone upon whom to dump the shit. Jobs were available, but agencies couldn't get applicants, let alone hires. The honchos were themselves forced to start doing the work of five or six people just to keep things afloat. It wasn't any fun anticipating your next executive conference in Las Vegas if you had to do all the grunt work yourself. As for those trillion quadrillion rules and regulations which had been so lovingly put into place, they could not be enforced because there was no one to enforce them. I QUIT wasn't the only yell made in those days; the other was the cry of THAT CANNOT BE POSSIBLE!

Whenever we historians read about the reactions of the legacy big shots of the time to the new reality, all we find are the most richly comic dialogues: "Senator, Steve resigned two weeks ago so you're going to have to write the new legislation yourself." That cannot be possible! "We can't schedule a staff meeting since we don't have any more staff." That cannot be possible! "Madam Secretary, I know we were going to start surveillance of grade schoolers' text messages this week, but the system is down, and I cannot find anyone to fix it." That cannot be possible!

In the United States the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services were the first to go belly up. They were quickly followed by the Department of Homeland Security, and then by a certain coercive tax agency whose three identifying letters had never been greatly beloved by the populace. The fantasy that the federal government could run American health care also disappeared when there was no one to do the paperwork. Other federal departments continued to limp along as best as they could, but they couldn't do much. This kind of collapse wasn't happening just with the American federal government, but with governments all over the planet. When people noticed that the slaves were fleeing those torture chambers called offices even in France, it finally penetrated--we were living in a new world.

It was also a new world because no one could tell lies or keep secrets any longer. If you were putting out the negative variety of energy into the universe, everyone knew it, and you had to face the consequences. And it was simply no longer possible to block the free flow of information. One of the cornerstones of the technological revolution was the idea that information wanted to be free. In the early years of the internet, various governmental authorities had predictably done their tidy best to stop it any way they could, but if ever there were an exercise in futility, this was it. The internet had never been anything except a freewheeling wild west of opportunities, and in a world where everyone started to consult an oracular tool, it grew even wilder.

Soon the planet reached a point where everyone had access to any kind of information they wanted, thanks to both the internet and their ever-increasing psychic skills. People now had the ability to find out exactly what was going on behind all those closed doors, especially the doors of bigness, as in big government, big religion, and big business. Ah, that late-Piscean delusion that bigness meant goodness! Well, after the Upheaval people began to understand that that nothing gigantic had ever sent forth positive energy in the history of the universe. Bigness had never been anything except another ego strategy anyway--it made people feel . . . well, you know . . . good whenever they convinced themselves that they were part of something big, and the bigger the better.

But in the decades after the Upheaval, nobody wanted bigness any longer, and most especially in the government and the political parties which sustained it. This didn't mean that people established new political parties, since that would have meant only more astro-turfed phoniness. What happened was an end to all kinds of political groupthink. Everyone finally understood that there was only one kind of energy in the history of the universe which possessed a 100% success rate: the energy of the Divine. It soon developed that candidates could not get elected to political office anywhere in the world unless they proclaimed that they were being guided by an oracle. And the candidate had to mean it as well, since the voters routinely checked their own oracles to see if this were a truthful statement.

You started to see this happening in local elections in the first years after the Upheaval, but it was not until the year 20/20 that it happened at the national level. During February of that year, when Mississippi Senator Melvin Resourceful announced that he was running for president, he held up a deck of tarot cards and told the crowd that if elected, he would be guided by an oracle. He added that he would also appoint an official astrologer and clairaudient psychic to his White House staff. Legacy members of the electorate went into immediate cardiac arrest, but millions cheered. They cheered even more loudly when their own oracular tools confirmed that Senator Resourceful actually meant it. This proved to be a double first in American history: not only was a politician promising to follow Divine advice if elected, the American people cast their votes according to Divine recommendations as well. Resourceful was easily elected a few months later.

In his subsequent administration, he began to implement what people began to call the Double D's, meaning divine and decentralize, and this continued with his successors. All those laws, rules and regulations which had been passed in the bad old monster government days started to get themselves thrown under the Aquarian bus. That is to say, legislators began to repeal old laws faster than they could initiate new ones. This included all those stifling business regulations which had done little more over the years except inhibit innovation. In your era no one could see a third alternative beyond the Scylla of predatory capitalism and the Charybdis of monster government overregulation, but this third alternative actually did exist. It was based on the kind of higher consciousness which comes from the practice of oracular consultation, as well as the new kind of social order it generated. It is in this reality that we Aquarians now live.

You mean you cannot believe me? Can it be possible that you think that without all the necessary regulatory legislation, the country immediately regressed back to the bad old robber baron days of dog-eat-dog? Dear friend, you must remember that the world after 20/20 was not the kind of environment in which your average robber baron had operated. After the Upheaval, only those businesses which were putting out benevolent energies into the universe were successful. Robber baron wannabes accomplished nothing but Chapter 11. And the government continued to shrink even more rapidly than a sun-dried tomato. Those trillion quadrillion rules and regulations had never been anything but useless energy forms anyway, and they died the inevitable death of all toxic energies.

But what do you mean, then how were social problems solved without the government? Ah, I see that your late-Piscean education really did a job on you, didn't it? The idea that only a government can fix a social problem is so engraved upon your brain that you cannot imagine any other kind of solution. You should understand by now that any kind of top-down energy manipulation is always doomed to fail. Divine energy, on the other hand, can solve anything. Today we Aquarians solve our problems not with inefficient and coercive manipulation, but with sacred Reality.

In the years after the Upheaval, these new and better solutions to these problems started appearing . . . spontaneously. Let me remind you of something called voluntary association. This was a time-honored way of dealing with social problems before the unworkable nightmares of 20th and 21st century monster governments. When Alexis de Tocqueville toured America in the 19th century, what he found most astonishing were the self-organized groups he encountered, from musical societies, to debating clubs, charitable organizations, and lyceums.[103] People would come together to help improve things in their localities. This kind of energy was as positive as energy can get, since guess what happens when people come together spontaneously.

Fortunately the old ideas of voluntary association never disappeared from American culture, not even when toxic governmental structures were smothering natural energies right and left. When the government finally collapsed into sclerosis, people again started to come together in their localities to solve their problems, most especially in the areas of education, health, public safety, and elder care. They called it government bypass, and it worked. Once again, I must remind you that people after the Upheaval possessed a higher kind of consciousness than their Piscean ancestors, a consciousness which focused on Indra's Net instead of the ego. In this kind of world, nobody could ever sit idly by when someone in their vicinity needed help. Millions of people all over the world had come together during the Upheaval to help each other out, and that kind of positive energy didn't disappear when the crisis was over.

The first innovation which came into being was the establishment of county sourcing centers. In these centers volunteers came together to help their neighbors, up to and including assistance with home repair, transportation, education, and public works. These centers were operated completely outside of government auspices and funding, and they proved to be very effective. Each county assistance organization also set up a website, where volunteers could see who in their area needed help, and if you were the first to volunteer, the job was yours. And no, these organizations were not overrun with the needy needing handouts. They were instead overrun with volunteers eager to help. This started to happen because of another unexpected development in the years after the Upheaval: people had finally had it with sports and games. That's right, countless millions were simply no longer interested in that illusion called us-against-them. Everyone was finally able to understand that any kind of situation which created hurt or disappointment in a single sentient being was toxic. Once the county assistance centers were up and running, a most unexpected thought began to reverberate through the normal American skull, and most frequently during those evenings when ESPN was up and running: why am I sitting here watching this stuff when I could be doing something at county assistance? All of a sudden TV's started getting turned off, high school sporting events were ignored, and video games went poof. People were too busy helping their neighbors to waste their time with illusions like competition and separateness. If you had extra money, you wanted to donate it; if you had extra time, you wanted to volunteer. In the Piscean era humanitarianism meant congratulating yourself on your superiority as you stared at an electronic screen filled with illusion. In the Aquarian era it meant you had to get out and do something.

As for the people needing help, in an Aquarian world they realized that whatever assistance they might get would always be worthless unless sooner or later they made a corresponding energy recompense. In other words, no taking without giving something in return. Those people who had no money to pay for the assistance they received understood that they would eventually need to volunteer their time or energy to others in their area to balance the exchange out. Reciprocity was guiding everyone, which helped to double or even triple the humanitarian vibes that everyone was now putting out.

As for the people who donated cash instead of effort, they found it to be a delightful experience. You think people enjoyed contributing to Kickstarter or other crowd sourcing sites in your era? They were nothing compared to the rta people experienced when they were able to give money to a neighbor who truly needed it. In the Piscean era donors never would have known whether or not their money was going for a genuine need or directly into somebody's pocket, but in an oracular world, everyone knew that the money always went straight to the truly needy, and it didn't have to be filtered through five hundred paper-pushers to get there. These kinds of donations proved to be most effective in the realm of health care.

What do you mean, you cannot imagine how such a thing was possible? You think that without governmental regulation of health care, people started keeling over and dying in the streets? Well, you'd better think again. After what was so charmingly called the Affordable Care Act turned into the most spectacular governmental train-wreck since the reign of Caligula, people finally understood that the way to get medical care to anyone who needed it could only be found outside of the government. In the Piscean era there had already been efforts by physicians and hospitals to provide assistance to people without insurance, but what started happening after the Upheaval was something new altogether. If you had medical insurance, you continued to rely upon it, but if you didn't, your county assistance center would make sure that you either received free treatment or the funding necessary for a medical procedure. Medical sourcing sites were set up for people who needed the latter.

Like psychic networking, these efforts were immediately successful. Everyone loved donating to them, especially since they meant that health care had truly started to become . . . affordable. In your era there were three reasons why healthcare was so expensive:  guesswork (when you fell sick it usually took time and expensive testing to figure out what was wrong), paperwork (armies of bureaucrats had to make sure the rules were followed), and the toxic chemical soup in which the populace lived (which meant that practically everyone needed frequent medical assistance). Well, in an oracular world, there was no more guessing about hidden energies, and as for the paperwork, it no longer needed to happen. Without armies of hospital or governmental bureaucrats needing salaries, this left more resources available for medical research and the implementation of new techniques, including the one area which began to expand exponentially in the years after the Upheaval: energy medicine. When researchers began to focus more on prana than flesh and blood, they were able to come up with unanticipated cures for chronic illnesses that people in the late-Piscean era never could have imagined. There is no cure like an energy cure.

What do you mean, what about the people who fell through the cracks? What cracks? Cracks don't happen when energy is flowing naturally, as in rivers, seedlings, or galaxies. Cracks mostly happen with man-made stuff like concrete and plastic. Late-Pisceans like yourself enjoyed believing in the fantasy called a government safety net, but such a thing did not and could not exist. Indra's Net, on the other hand, has always been very much Real, and it's not a net out of which anyone can fall. Every jewel in the Net who needed help in the Aquarian era got it and continues to get it. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Besides, you must understand that as far as health care was concerned, the most important development in the years after the Upheaval was that people slowly started feeling . . . healthy. I know this must be one of the most incredible statement's I've made so far, but it is the plain historical truth. Normal Americans started waking up in the morning with the most astonishing thought in their heads: What is the matter with me this morning? I don't think I'm feeling bad. This metamorphosis happened for one simple reason: people had started to bypass the chemicals as well as the government. This meant that the frankenhaze in which millions had been living for decades started to evaporate even faster than the NSA. Indeed, so many people were starting to feel so much better in all aspects of their being that they even stopped it with the coffee.

They also started doing anything else they could to maintain this new and very welcome sensation called health. All at once a long-forgotten energy which had all but disappeared in the bad old chemical days now returned with unexpected force: responsibility. Most people began to realize that they were entirely responsible for the state of their health and the other circumstances of their lives. Responsibility, of course, is another re- word. This time it refers to the Proto-Indo-European root spend, which has connotations of making an offering or performing a ritual act (rta, anyone?) In other words, being responsible started out as some kind of repetitive sacred energy, and that was how it started being seen again, especially by the younger people in your era. You might be interested to hear that one of the first voluntary associations which came into being after the Upheaval was that of the Sugar Shunners, whose members pledged never to consume any kind of concentrated sweet, whether honey, high fructose corn syrup, maple syrup, artificial sweeteners, or refined sucrose. They made this pledge not only to maintain their health but to lessen the burden on the dental and medical care establishment. In a world of the Net instead of the ego, fewer people getting diabetes or cavities meant that the ones who needed treatment could get it. This was what started to matter to people, not the next banana split.

Of course, the other innovation in those days was the realization that a free-of-charge oracle was better at recommending a cure than most physicians. And once the psychic networking sites became popular, they were used most frequently to post divinatory recommendations for assorted health problems. People could go to these sites to see what other people's oracles had recommended for their illnesses, and quite frequently they discovered that what had cured someone else worked for them as well. Mind you, these were authentic cures instead of symptom suppression. This meant that by the third decade of the 21st century, the kind of chronic conditions you knew in your era simply weren't there any longer. If you were hit by a truck, you were immediately taken to an emergency room, but if you were suffering from a chronic problem, you didn't want to overload the medical system if you could cure yourself. And you usually could. Here in the 22nd century all medical care is free these days, but people are so sound in mind and body that they seldom need it.

Nor do they pay any attention to those numerous inner demons which had once made life a living hell for billions. I must confess that those late-Piscean substance addictions is yet another aspect of your period which I will never understand. What on earth was the attraction of an alcoholic stupor? Why did a cigarette or a new video have to keep happening again and again? Surely avoiding toxic energy should have been the easiest thing in the world to do? Yet late-Piscean history is nothing but a record of people doing anything they frantically could to keep the fixes coming. Sad days those were, very sad. Why didn't any of you see that Divine energy could solve these problems? When rta suffuses your entire being, you have no desire to be nicotineated, caffeinated, stoned, junk fooded, or soused. And as for obesity, why on earth did it take so long for late-Pisceans to understand that the toxins in their food and environment were causing their weight problems? Chronic obesity vanished when the energies of food and the environment returned to their natural patterns. I don't think I've ever seen an overweight human being in my life, and especially not the kind of morbidly obese kind who was so prevalent in your era. 

But you tell me that you still don't understand where the money for medical sourcing came from? Well, when the shopping and other substance pursuits stopped happening, people had money again. Everybody loved donating their extra money to the sourcing sites, including the kids. You might be interested to hear that in the first years after the Upheaval, Aquarian kids were even more enthusiastic about county and medical sourcing than were their parents. New kinds of parent/child interactions began to be heard, which you late-Pisceans never could have imagined: Jimmy, what would you like Santa to bring you for Christmas this year? I just kind of want some money to contribute to medical sourcing, okay? You would never have gotten an answer like this from a Baby Boomer.

But now you're telling me that you still don't understand how neighbor helping neighbor could be any kind of universal solution. And you don't much like your own neighbors, especially the Murchisons up the street, who've got a dozen pink flamingoes stuck in their front lawn. Why should you want to help them? Or anyone else in your vicinity? After all, you have nothing in common with those people. Neighbors helping neighbors! How could that be any kind of medical or social solution? It doesn't make any sense! It wouldn't be uniform! It wouldn't be big! It wouldn't work for every last human being on the planet!

Oh, stop it. Don't try to tell me that you don't have anything in common with the people who live on your street. You and your neighbors are alike in that you elected to reside in the same part of the universe. So, yes--you do have a responsibility to your neighbors. They are your brothers and sisters. If they need help, as a good Aquarian you will want to do what you can for them. You won't be able to stop yourself. That's all it takes for universal health care these days.

That, and the evaporation of the paperwork. You need to be reminded about one other very powerful Aquarian energy, that of transparency. In your day the great curse of governmental bureaucracy was paperwork: all those forms, invoices, procedures, and guidelines which theoretically kept people honest. Nothing could happen unless the right piece of paper was filled out and approved by the appropriate fiscal officer. Well, that kind of energy waste was no longer necessary in a world where everything had become transparent. In such a world, anyone who tried to do something inappropriate with government funds was instantaneously identified. As a result, invoices no longer needed to be processed, signatures didn't have to be obtained, and forms didn't have to be filled out in triple triple triplicate. In your day it was estimated that 16% of the American workforce was employed by the government. Today the figure is something like .0003%. A few agencies still remain, but their offices have been streamlined.

But what about national defense? Wasn't a government needed for that? Well, it was true that even as late as the third decade of the 21st century, there were plenty of groupthinkers around the world brain-dead enough to kill for their illusions of choice. But in the years after 20/20, groupthink of all kinds started to die its inevitable Aquarian death. Nationalism no longer meant much of anything to anyone, let alone tribalism, race, gender, class, or any other kind of quantum field disruption you care to name. It's true that for a few years after 20/20, national militaries continued to be necessary, but there were changes here as well. In the new higher consciousness which was gradually spreading all over the earth, people began to realize that there was no such thing as an Other, even those Others who want to attack you. When you understand that a so-called enemy is more yourself than you are, you don't want to harm him--you want to him to become your friend. This means that the only time a nation's military is truly on the side of the Divine is when it cares more about the well-being of its "enemies" than its own soldiers.

Such an insight was not new by your era: it has been formulated in the 1920's by the founder of the martial art of aikido, a spiritual visionary named Morihei Ueshiba. Unlike other forms of martial arts, there is no us-against-them energy in aikido--what you get instead is something unprecedented in the history of human conflict: us-is-them. Aikido, in other words, is the only martial art which exists in full harmony with the quantum field. If you read anything by or about Ueshiba, you realize that he was the first professional fighter in history who could see a way for humanity to escape its eternal us-against-them mindset. You fight if you must, but you do it in a way that mitigates the harm both to yourself and your enemy. The inevitable catch is that in the short term you end up with a much higher casualty rate than that of your opponents. Still, in the Aquarian world that was starting to form, us-is-them was recognized as the only way to properly do national defense. It took a while, but when military minds all over the planet shifted into this new kind of reality, war as you knew it became a thing of the past.

But what about law and order? Well, it's true that in your era there were still plenty of ignorant sentient beings who couldn't stop themselves from stealing anything not nailed down. It's just that by the third decade of the 21st century, these kinds of activities could no longer be hidden. People could not only spot a falsehood the moment it was uttered, the perpetrators of theft or violence were instantly identifiable. Naturally it took some time for the less-than-ethical to realize that lying or stealing was not in their best interests, but even the dimmest of the dim finally realized that the police were always going to show up the minute you pulled something. If you tried to run, you could never hide. If you were dumb enough to request a trial, you discovered that the moment a judge or jury encountered your energy field, they knew whether or not you were guilty. It took a few years for these lessons to sink in, but they were finally learned.

But you tell me you still cannot believe all this? And you can't even begin to imagine what all those ex-governmental employees were doing with themselves? Why, isn't it obvious what the liberated apparatchiks started doing once they escaped the American Soviet? You must remember that divination doesn't just help you predict the future or rid you of negative energies. It also helps to spur human creativity in the best possible way. Are you aware that in the years before 20/20, the failure rate of new business products was over 90%. Ninety percent!!!! How can one describe such a statistic? Ridiculous? Indefensible? Stupefying? The ultimate Road to Nowhere? Why didn't anyone realize that there had to be a better way to develop and market new products?

There was. When people finally started to trust their oracular tools, not only to tell them which new initiatives would be successful, but to help them dream up the new products in the first place, that 90% failure rate turned into its exact opposite, a 90% success rate. Can't you see what kind of a new world it was when 90% of all business initiatives were successes instead of failures? In such a world, who would want to work for a drag like the government? Today we know that the decades after 20/20 proved to be the most creative period in the history of the world. We call this period Renaissance 2.0.
 

* * *


That's right. In the third and fourth decades of the 21st century, people began to display the greatest human innovation since the first Renaissance of five or six centuries before. You must understand that governmental workers were not the only people pushing useless paper in those days. Millions of other slaves had to do it as well in those torture chambers called offices. It has always been difficult for us in the 22nd century to understand exactly what used to happen in an office, apart from the endless caffeine and sugar infusions. Apparently the slaves would sit down in some kind of plasticized space and then force themselves to comply with rules and regulations, analyze data, write reports, or even invent new ways to shove other people around. And for such efforts these people actually received a salary! They weren't creating anything. They weren't producing any kinds of goods. They were wasting their time in the most irrational manner possible. Why couldn't they see this entrapment for the horror it was? I guess slavery doesn't seem to exist when the chains are invisible. Well, spending forty years of your life pushing useless paper is not the culmination of all human aspiration. It is better described as the culmination of human stupidity.

Fortunately after 20/20 people finally started to realize that the only rational thing to do with your time and energies was create new form or pattern. Startups were suddenly everywhere. Garages again became what they were supposed to be: sacred temples of innovation. In the years after the Upheaval, there was nothing that bright American kids wanted to do except go to work for a startup or even initiate one themselves. The only thing they needed was an oracularly-approved idea. Granted the success rate of startups in your era was not 100%, but it was high enough to make everyone want to give it a try. Thus passed away what had once been known as risky business. Also expensive business. When manufacturers realized how easy it was to envision successful new products thanks to their oracles, all at once billions of dollars were no longer being wasted on worthless new commodities. This meant that the cost of more worthwhile merchandise started to decline in ways never thought possible.

You might be interested to hear about a young man in Idaho named Travis Savvy, who was more than eager to start his own energy business by the time he was in high school. The only problem was that he didn't have any idea how he could be innovative, nor even which area he should focus on. Nevertheless, every night he sat down with his tarot cards, asked a series of questions, and after a period of time an idea occurred to him which he knew no one had ever really pursued: how to extract energy from quartz crystals. The cards were enthusiastic, the bank gave him five times as much money as he asked for, and what eventually became known as crystalizer energy was a reality a few years later. Believe it or not, this new kind of energy finally freed the human race from its dependence upon fossil fuels. Today Travis is fondly remembered as the father of clean and sustainable energy.

Travis' experience with financing was not unusual. After 20/20, bankers quickly discovered that there was never much of a risk lending money to oracularly-approved schemes, especially when they had their own oracles to confirm the likely success of the proposal. Ditto for other ways to obtain funding, such as the sourcing sites on the web. One way or another, innovators always got the money they needed if they had a workable idea. Always. Who would want to push paper in such a world, let pay attention to rules and regulations?

Unfortunately it took forever for the legacy MBA's in your era to see that oracular consultation was the only way to run a successful business. Many amusing videos survive from those days, where you can watch one allegedly intelligent business person after another moaning and groaning about making a profit, innovation, strategic development, reorganization, consultants, cutting corners, bait and switch, the purchasing of political protection, and other useless wastes of time. All you needed was an $18 deck of cards, and you could identify the best options for your organization in an instant. Even better: you would also have the right kind of people working for you. Along with all the other guesswork, oracles took the conjecture out of hiring. Once business divination became widespread, companies were always able to find the right person for the right job. And what do you think happened to that nonsense called marketing? It evaporated even faster than the government. Any business which wanted to succeed had only to inform the world that this business is guided by an oracle. No other advertising was needed. After 20/20 you started to see these words everywhere: websites, billboards, store windows, and trucks. It became a guaranteed way to attract new customers.

Needless to say, at first a lot of businesses tried to jump on the oracular bandwagon without intending to do the spiritual work required, but they quickly learned their lesson, which was that their potential customers would naturally ask their oracles if a particular business was practicing what they preached. Some companies even tried to get their employees to post false oracular information on the psychic networking sites, but for obvious reasons that didn't work. It was called it the Oracular Kiss of Death and was rightly considered to be the ultimate in dumbness. Here it bears repeating that after 20/20 nothing could be hidden any longer, whether personal, political, or corporate. In an oracular world where most people were working as hard as they could to acquire a higher consciousness, there were no more secrets, and what a difference this made in the business world!

The first CEO to announce that her company was going to be guided by an oracle was Mary Ellen Brilliant of Megacosm, Inc., a company which specialized in independent music and video. At her stockholders' meeting in 2018, Brilliant held up a deck of tarot cards and announced that from now on Megacosm would be guided by Divine energy. Back in the bad old Piscean days, this announcement would have been greeted with stunned silence, but Brilliant received a fifteen-minute standing ovation, so overjoyed was everyone in the room--and so certain were they that this was the right thing to do.

So what was the first thing Brilliant did after she started to receive oracular guidance? The same Double D that was curing the government: divine and decentralize. She decided to start with the last part of the equation first, decentralization, especially since her cards kept insisting that her employees needed to have enough autonomy and space to flourish to the best of their abilities. This meant unorganization, unbosses, and rta flowing in natural patterns. So the heck with evaluations, monthly progress reports, procedures manuals, and other useless paperwork. History now tells us that for the first few months after the Megacosm paperwork got tossed, the employees were bewildered, disorganized, and didn't quite know what to do with themselves. Eventually, however, new patterns began to form, which in turn stimulated so many new ideas that soon the business bore no resemblance to what it had once been. Megacosm's employees were so enthusiastic about the new arrangements that they started to work overtime without noticing it. After a few months of this, no one could remember what had once seemed like normal American ways of doing things.

Brilliant was also one of the first to initiate the practice of committee divining. It had been noticed by diviners over the years that the most accurate oracular responses always appeared whenever a group of people consulted their oracular tools together. Granted that individual divination was usually helpful, but when several people asked a question of their respective oracles at the same time, in the same room, the responses were exceptionally clear, particularly regarding YES or NO questions. This made for a huge change in the purpose and structure of strategic committees. In an oracular world, once a tentative consensus was reached, members of a committee no longer voted on the appropriateness of a potential plan of action: instead they reached for their tarot cards and collectively checked to see if the Divine approved of their new initiative. Soon the sound of shuffling cards was heard everywhere in the business world, even in board of directors' meetings. Only the workable plans of actions survived, to the benefit of all.

The main oracular message that Megacosm received at first was simple: they had to start treating Megacosm's customers as representatives of the Self instead of some kind of Other whose money they wanted. So one of Brilliant's first steps was to eliminate digital rights management from Megacosm's products. Proprietary control of a byte had never been anything but a useless folly anyway, which Brilliant correctly realized. She was also aware that any company which utilized DRM was telegraphing a very toxic message to the universe: we think our customers are worthless crooks who will steal or give away our products to anyone who asks. Well, in the Aquarian era, that's not how you should think about your brothers and sisters in the Net. Brilliant decided that she could trust her customers to handle the content they had purchased in a responsible manner, and that's exactly what the vast majority of them eventually did.

Her next innovation was so stupefying that when one Wall Street analyst heard about it, he accidentally stuck his Rolex into his corned-beef sandwich and bit down upon it--or so the legend goes. Brilliant announced that Megacosm was going to allow its customers three purchasing options: pay now, pay later, or pay more than the asking price. Mind you, the pay later option did not include any kind of finance charge. Customers were being given the option to pay the asking price five, ten, or fifty years down the road, whenever they liked.

But . . . no DRM? Customers paying more than the asking price? That cannot be possible! So cried, as usual, the legacy ignoramuses of your time. Forbes and The Wall Street Journal were pitiless. But to everyone's astonishment, Megacosm's customers didn't just love the optional-pay idea--they adored it. It's true that a certain number of them initially chose the pay later category, but over the years not only did most of them eventually pay what they owed, they paid more than the asking price. Their own oracles confirmed that Megacosm was indeed a Divinely-regulated business, and they enjoyed supporting it. Megacosm was a resounding success after only a few years, while its critics spent a lot of their time gormandizing on crow quiche.

What Brilliant pioneered, everyone with a brain soon followed. In subsequent years there was only one thing to be seen at stockholders' meetings: that uplifted deck of tarot cards and the announcement about guess what. For the first time in American history, the bottom line had been replaced by the summum bonum. Under the sign of the Water Bearer customers wanted ethics from their businesses instead of bargains, and they had a guaranteed way to see if they were getting it. So they didn't mind paying more than the asking price if their oracles approved. When the corporate bosses finally understood that their business would never achieve any kind of Vishnu flourishing unless it was truly putting out positive energy, gone were the ridiculous legacy illusions which were supposed to guarantee success. Even those companies which produced tangible instead of digital products gritted their collective teeth and offered their customers a pay later option, up to and including paying later for computers, cars, and houses. No, they didn't go immediately bankrupt. They started to thrive as never before. They even started to have some fun.

It wasn't just in business that the fun started happening. Guess who also began to proclaim that they were being guided by an oracle. Believe it or not, I am talking about the nation's educators. As incredible as the following statement must sound, not every teacher in your era was a complete idiot. A good many of them were open to new ways of doing things, and this makes for an even more interesting story.
 

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It is no exaggeration to say that there was nothing more toxic in your era than education. The problem wasn't just the daily doses of illusion which were getting dished out in every classroom in the land. What mattered was that the whole educational system had reached a point of utter ineffectiveness. Throughout most of the 20th century, a high school diploma was enough for a successful business or a profitable career. This had evaporated by the end of the century, when students needed an extra four years of sitting in classrooms to be employable. But by the second decade of the 21st century, not even a bachelor's degree was evidence of education. Students could achieve this degree and still be resoundingly incompetent in basic skills like math, composition, and spelling. Employers were constantly complaining that college grads were useless bunglers. They got their degrees with their self-esteem intact, but that was about it.

Not that the legacy educators in your era were able to admit this to themselves. We can see now that it was these people who were in the most denial about the harm they were doing. Not the politicians, not the media people, not the physicians: it was the teachers and their acolytes who were most blind to their unworkable paradigms. Needless to say, they were also the ones most furiously determined to maintain the status quo. I suppose this means that there were no psychic meatheads in your era as utterly lost in a vast illusory wasteland as were the academics, unless it was those academics who went into politics.

But the more clear-sighted could see that there was a lot wrong with American education, even if they could never put their finger on what the real problem was. Nor could they see that there was any viable alternative to the way things were currently being done. In the decades prior to the Upheaval, millions of parents had attempted one bypass remedy: they elected to homeschool their children. This helped to maintain the shadow of a decent education, but it was hardly adequate. Homeschooled children ended up socially awkward and only barely competent in many of the skills needed for a successful life.

Well, in the years after 20/20, things started to change for the better. The biggest change was predictable: parents all over the country simply stopped sending their children to public schools. For a while a few of these schools continued to operate, despite every diminishing enrollments, but by the end of the third decade most of them had been closed down, their local school boards with them. That cannot be possible! And why not? What else do you think is the fate of incompetence and illusion? It needs to be bypassed like anything else which is utterly toxic.

What replaced the public schools was the same thing that was solving other social problems: voluntary association. Parents started to come together to privately educate their children, even if this meant that their kids had to meet in somebody's basement. The parents also pooled their resources to pay the salary of at least once professional instructor, usually the kind of teacher who was fed up with the public school system, and in those days there were plenty. Soon the majority of American kids were getting their lessons in what started to be called little red basements. Their instructors were aided by parents and volunteers from the community. Men and women who had learned their life lessons and who had done some thinking about their lives were considered to be the best instructor aides, regardless of whether they possessed a degree. Nobody was bothering about academic credentials any longer: when people's oracles told them that a certain person would be an effective instructor for their children, that was all that mattered.

This kind of instruction was supplemented by what was available online. By the 20/20's all the glitches in online delivery of instructional material had been solved, and the little red basements had become as much of a virtual classroom as a real one. Students could interact with their online instructors as easily as if they were sitting in the same room with them. A truly gifted online instructor could end up with literally millions of students in his or her online course, and when this kind of instruction was supplemented by an in-basement teacher, kids began to do something which had not happened for over half a century: they started to learn their lessons.

Also all kids had their own laptops, even toddlers who were dropped off at daycare. What do you mean, how could all kids afford their own laptops? Have you already forgotten that by this period the bottom line had been replaced by the summum bonum? Hardware manufacturers were more than eager to provide laptops to every child on the planet by the mid-20/20's, not just in the United States but all over the world. Parents who had the money to purchase the right kind of hardware for their kids inevitably hit the pay more than the asking price button when they did so, since they knew that extra money would help poorer children who needed their own computer. So one way or another every kid on the planet who needed his or her own laptop eventually got one.

As for the educational curriculum, in an Aquarian world where communication was one of the strongest of energies, careful instruction in the use of the language was rightly seen to be paramount. Students spent most of their time learning how to write and speak effectively. Long-forgotten disciplines such as rhetoric and elocution were reintegrated into the curriculum. The other liberal arts were also given a new emphasis, since by then everyone realized that regardless of their future career, students needed a thorough grounding in what had always been considered the highest wisdom of the ages. That's right--kids began to enjoy old fogies like Pythagoras, Confucius, and Seneca. And spiritual writings from all cultures were eagerly studied as never before.

As for higher education, not all students pursued a university education. Many millions became apprentices or received on-the-job training. But all the kids were able to take advantage of the MOOCS which started to replace what had once been known as colleges and universities. MOOC is an acronym meaning massive open online course, and these courses proved to be the solution to the Higher Education Bubble. Needless to say, when MOOCs first became popular, students could pay their tuition now, pay later, or pay more than the asking price. Extra-curricular fees were also no longer required since there was no longer a campus to maintain, not to mention those tedious wastes of time known as athletics. This meant that anyone could afford to get the education s/he needed, not only in the United States but anywhere in the world.

MOOCS eventually turned what had once been busy university campuses into ghost towns. Why did no one in your era realize that your physical campuses were soon going to be as obsolete as soft drinks? Even as late as the second decade of the 21st century, many college and university administrators were still doing their idiot best to erect big new buildings to house the future students they just + knew were going to happen. Nothing could have been sillier. When online university instruction was finally perfected, it was the only instruction left.

All this meant that the cost of higher education in your era began to plummet even more rapidly than health care. The horrendous cost increases in education in your era had come from one thing only: ever greater administrative paper-pushing. With the advent of the MOOCS, there were no more administrators since nothing needed to be administered. A successful instructor needed a computer, an internet connection, and little else. Accreditation organizations also vanished, as did tenure, publish or perish, and fraudulent research in pursuit of that quantum-field-wrecking nonsense called a prize. And no more degrees. When potential employers could always tell whether or not a young person was truly skilled in his or her field of choice, who needed a degree?

There is one other thing you need to understand about our post-Upheaval education. The core reality of the new curriculum was the only thing truly worth studying: Divine energy. For the first time in memory, students at all levels started getting spiritual instruction in their daily classes. Not that this was any kind of legacy religious groupthink: instructors had their oracles to guide them about what kind of spiritual instruction needed to be delivered. And needless to say, training in divination started as soon as the kids began school.

But of course, most of the kids were already well-versed in the skill, as their parents had started them with it as soon as they could walk. In the years after the Upheaval, the most popular after-dinner pastime in homes all over the world was consultation of an oracle. No more shoving chemicalized food into the microwave, popping opening a can, and flopping down before the flat screen. Moms, Dads, and kids cooked their food, ate it as a family, and then went to work with their oracular tools. Everybody loved doing it, and the kids especially, since there were always occasions when the oracle would inform the family that Mom or Dad was wrong about something. Successful parents accepted what their oracles told them and acknowledged their mistakes, thus ensuring a new kind of family harmony which never would have happened in the bad old emotionally-charged Piscean days.

As for those celebrated flat screens which you late-Pisceans just couldn't live without, something unforeseen started to happen to them all over the world. They just started to hang there on the wall, doing nothing. That cannot be possible! But seeing as how those darn flat screens never dished out anything except ego, groupthink, and separateness, it was not only possible, it was inevitable. Besides, why would you want to pay attention to a flat screen when you could talk to the Divine every evening?

So kids got lessons in the most important skill they could know, that of divination, both at home and in their little red basements. You will not be surprised to hear that children who started their lives in this fashion were soon able to perceive the non-corporeal in ways that their parents and grandparents could never have imagined. As they grew older many millions were able not only to see and hear spiritual beings but had the necessary skills to converse with them. This included not only angels but nature and elemental spirits as well. Indeed, these kids were so accustomed to living and working with natural energies that wild creatures would befriend them. Birds enjoyed sitting on their shoulders, and squirrels liked to snuggle up to them. This was a bit of a change from the days of Barbie and G.I. Joe.

As for the legacy instructors who fought tooth and nail against these changes, they did a lot of screaming in your era. The hysterical denial which they produced remains legendary to this day for its unpleasantness. This especially includes the howls which were emitted from the top dogs in assorted state boards of education. It was loud, it was hysterical, and eventually it was ignored. With oracularly-guided legislators being elected, guess what started getting written out of existence? Poor darlings. If you want to know what finally happened to the deluded educators of your era, that should be obvious: like most other legacy professionals they were prodded into early retirement and spent their remaining years sulking.
 

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What with competent education getting established and the kind of higher spiritual consciousness it provided, many of the most intractable problems which had plagued humanity in late-Piscean times started to disappear. Not that anything was forced or planned. Once people began to accept ideas of interconnectedness and randomness, they were no longer terrified by what seemed to be an uncontrolled universe. Gradually people grew more and more comfortable with trusting the process, going with the flow, and allowing self-organization to happen. These energies began to transform people's personal lives as well.

Today we inhabit a world where all manifestations of frankenfood, frankenclothes, and frankenshelter have disappeared. Granted we have not been able to completely eliminate toxic chemicals from our lives, but we have eradicated their worst effects: we no longer consume edibles which are stored in plastic, we don't dress in polyester fabric, fluoride has been eliminated from the water, and we avoid plasticized houses. At all times we try to keep the objects in our environment as organic and as natural as possible, including our clothes. That ridiculous horror known as a suit and tie has finally vanished from the earth--no Zen cowboy would be caught dead in one. And yes, we still adore our jeans, that is to say our organically dyed natural fiber jeans, and I suppose we always will.

Our food, needless to say, is also organic. No one in their right mind consumes any kind of food whose energies have been artificially altered in any way, whether through preservatives, synthetic dyes, artificial vitamins, or genetic modification. The big food conglomerates with their gruesome chemical brews disappeared decades ago. We stick to the natural and the local, and it keeps us healthy. Many of us make our own wine and beer as well, as we understand that the human body can benefit from moderate indulgence in mild fermentation. But except for home-distilled cordials, the hard stuff is gone. Not that all the gin joints in all the world had to be outlawed. In a world where Divine energy just happens to be much more enjoyable than getting plastered, people no longer have any interest in the booze. Also gone are those hideous caffeine fixes, at least of the coffee variety, with their horrific blood sugar jolts. However, teahouses continue to be popular the world over. There is nothing like the subdued atmosphere of a tearoom to fill your soul with cosmic peace. Who needs fun-filled excitement when you can experience that?

We Aquarians are also passionate gardeners and have been ever since the Upheaval. Food which you've grown yourself will always be most closely attuned to the energies of your physical body and will keep your system flourishing with optimal harmony. You never see lawns around houses these days--you see carefully tended biodynamic gardens. We consider interacting with the earth to be yet another spiritual experience which connects us with Reality. In your era gardening was enjoyed only by the tiniest of minorities, but today we understand that the richest possible life comes from a good supply of earthworms. And there is nothing like the contemplation of a flower to provide you with visions of the infinite. We also enjoy hiking, taking walks, bicycling, and visiting our parks. Fresh air is considered to be the greatest of blessings. Seasons are treated as sacraments. What more than these kinds of blessings does anyone truly need?

As for the houses in which we live, we like to think that we inhabit graceful structures which let in as much fresh air and natural light as possible. This means that our homes possess a wondrous sense of airiness, which just happens to be the best possible energy for an Aquarian house. It also means our rooms are filled with emptiness instead of stuff. Minimalism was a trend which was already starting in your era, when light and freedom started to matter in people's domiciles more than the furnishings, and it is the ruling aesthetic of our domiciles today. As for that abomination called stuff, nobody these days wants very much of it. Of course people continue to enjoy a few treasured items, usually of the handmade variety, but they always want quintessence instead of quantity.

This means that we are all living in music. One interesting thing about your late-Piscean times was the fact that while people were being poisoned by chemicals right and left, it was also an era when the constant experience of music started to become possible for everyone all over the world. In previous centuries music had been a rare and special event, but when electronics were able to deliver music at any time and in any place, universal harmony began to blossom. None other than Henry David Thoreau predicted this development when tells us in Walden that eventually a "reign of poetry" will commence upon the earth.[104] And what is poetry except verbal music?

This also means that those atrocities known as entertainment centers have long been history. Today the living center of each residence is the oratory, which is a space set aside for prayer or meditation. Most people designate an entire room as a sacred space, but even just a corner altar can work as well, as long as it is used solely to connect with the sacred. Our oratories give us what we truly need to thrive in this world, spiritual tranquility. As long as you can go into silence and peace when you connect with the Divine in your domicile, you need nothing else.

This also means that our homes are probably what you would have considered to be modest dwellings. Those astonishing nightmares which you late-Pisceans called McMansions were abandoned right and left in the years after the Upheaval. Since they were relatively easy to bulldoze, only a few remain to this day. Most of the ones still standing have been turned into museums, as there is no better way to demonstrate to our children the illusory follies of late-Piscean culture than a stroll through a McMansion. They provide our kids with even more amusement than their chipmunk friends.

It should be obvious to you that the basis to this kind of life is simple: you need to live as close to the earth as you can. Once upon a dreadful time, namely in the 20th and the early 21st centuries, millions upon millions of humans were dumb enough to reside in those abominations called buildings, which were without question the most horrifically noxious structures ever devised by diabolical human egos. This especially includes those monstrosities which you knew as skyscrapers but which we call skygraves. What on earth could have persuaded human beings in your era to live or work in some kind of hermetically sealed tower which reached hundreds of meters into the sky? Even when you're only a few meters off the ground, you've distanced yourself from the natural energies of the earth, and you're going to suffer disharmony as a result. Today we can see that these skygraves were created for a nonexistent fantasy called the human body is a machine, which is why today they have all been abandoned and are currently falling to pieces all over the world. That cannot be possible!

It was not only possible, it was inevitable. When people finally began to understand that their human selves were energy fields instead of solid matter, they also started to realize the necessity of their feet interacting with the earth. Have you ever stopped to consider what happens when your feet touch the ground? Our feet contain chakra centers which keep us healthy in two ways: (1) they connect us with the larger energies of the planet we walk upon, and (2) they discharge our waste energies into the soil. When people in your era were dumb enough to inhabit a monster building high above the earth, not only were their feet unable to properly connect with the soil, they were living under the discharging energies of hundreds or even thousands of human feet above them. People who lived out their lives drenched with this kind of toxicity were never capable of experiencing a single moment of genuine well-being in their lives--they could have swallowed Xanax by the bucketful, but it wouldn't have helped. Why couldn't anyone in your era perceive that the foot-energy miasmas enshrouding those arrogant multi-story monstrosities were destroying the life-force of every soul within? Did the architects in those days truly not understand the absolute necessity of connecting with the living energies of the soil to maintain health and sanity? Well, of course not--they never would have gotten any prizes for that.

When their oracles began to show people the toxicity of their big city environments, the inhabitants began to flee the metro areas in droves, the way that people in late antiquity had fled the invading Visigoths. How're you gonna keep 'em up in the city after they've seen Reality? That's easy. You can't. Landlords discovered that they couldn't find tenants any more than the government could find workers. That cannot be possible! My friend, is it not obvious that once people began to pick up on what had once been non-perceptible energies, metropolitan areas would be abandoned? Their oracles told them with perfect clarity that anything was better than living high above the ground surrounded by toxic energies. Starting in the third decade of the 21st century, skygrave after skygrave started shutting down. Today our earth no longer possesses large cities of any kind. Towns, yes--but no cities.

New York City had the distinction of being the most toxic metropolitan area on the planet, and it was the first to depopulate. If I remember correctly, property owners did everything in their power to persuade people and businesses to remain when the migrations started, and they even tried to pay people to live in their buildings. I find this somewhat baffling. Paying tenants to live in your building does not strike me as a good business policy, but for a few years the practice was widespread. Of course it was an exercise in futility, as any oracle could have told them. Today there is hardly anything to be seen in Manhattan except crumbling buildings. Not a trace of energy, light, or life. Lower Manhattan has been placed off-limits for safety reasons. There has been talk about dynamiting the remaining structures, but we will probably let Mother Nature run her course.

However, you might be interested to hear that a few families continue to inhabit upper Manhattan. About thirty years ago the local authorities decided to give the island away free of charge to anyone who wanted to work the land. No money was requested for the transaction since everyone knew that the island wasn't worth even the original $24 purchase price. While most people were horrified at the thought of returning to Manhattan, a few families decided that it would be an interesting challenge, especially if they could return the land to its pre-Columbian condition. They moved into what had been known as the Upper Right Side, or something like that, and started to plant gardens in Riverside Park. Since they elected to cultivate the ancient Native American triad of corn, beans, and squash, their community thrives to this day. That cannot be possible! Now why should you look so astonished? In your era it should have been obvious to anyone with a brain that Manhattan had only one future: vegetables.

What happened in New York has been the fate of big cities all over the world: abandonment and collapse. The Egyptian pyramids are still standing, but most 20th and 21st architectural follies have fallen into ruin. The bigger the building, the sooner it was deserted. This includes not just skygraves, but shopping malls, campus dormitories, government office buildings, sports stadiums, and those big silly commercial boxes. One of the major problems which our residual governments possess is what to do with these grotesque ruins. Fortunately, there are several companies which are working on developing new techniques for constructional detoxification, which our oracles say will be successful, so that is a positive sign.

You must understand that bigness toxicity was not the only reason why those horrible metro areas self-destructed. There were demographic explanations as well. Are you one of those late-Pisceans who was unable to perceive what was so obviously coming in the 21st century, namely an unprecedented decline in the population? The most important issue in your era wasn't the environment, nor poverty, energy, health, education, immigration, employment, or national security. It was demographics. By the third decade of the 21st century birthrates were falling in every country on earth, and in some countries they fell below the death rate. This meant not just fewer people but shrinking economies as well. There were plenty of shallow minds in the late 20th century who had feared that the population of the planet would eventually reach the double-digit billions and continue to increase until human life on earth was no longer sustainable. What a silly fantasy that was! The 21st century proved to be the first period since the Black Death when the world's population began to plummet. And since the population drop was global, this meant that for the first time in American history there wasn't an endless numbers of would-be immigrants eager to pass through the golden door.

Demography is destiny. After the planetary population peaked at about seven billion people, it started to drop, and it has continued to decline ever since. Here in the year 2140, the total population of planet earth is around two and a half billion. There are only about 98 million Americans, which is roughly what the population was in 1918. Other countries' populations have dropped by as much as 80-90%. I doubt that our human population will ever again increase to overwhelming billions you knew in your time. This is yet one more reason why those enormous governmental social programs of your day went into collapse. They had never been anything but nonsensical Ponzi schemes anyway, predicated upon the ridiculous fantasy of an ever-increasing supply of warm bodies. As such, they were preprogrammed to fail.

The drop in population also brought about a different kind of change which should have been predictable in your era: the collapse of the legacy Marxists regimes which still managed to survive, just barely, in your era. By the second decade of the 21st century most everyone who was living in a Marxist regime wanted nothing more that its downfall. They were all sick to death of the corruption, the inefficiency, the oppression, and the freedom-is-slavery mentality. This included not just the hoi polloi but also the apparatchiks who were trying to run the wretched show. What with fewer and fewer babies being born, Marxist governmental structures were collapsing into logjam even more rapidly than the more democratic countries. But year after year went by without any major changes in the Marxist regimes because everyone feared the bloodshed which they just + knew would occur if and when the state they supported fell to pieces.

What people had forgotten was that there was a way to overthrow a despotic regime without much disruption, namely by the transition model which had been implemented by Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu in South Africa. What Mandela and Tutu accomplished was a modern spiritual miracle, a peaceful way to move a country into democracy through the Divine energy of forgiveness. They established what became known as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which convinced members of the government in place that they had nothing to fear from a new regime. Granted that this solution was not perfect, and many people felt justice had not been served, but in the end it was the best possible solution.

This was how the legacy Marxist states and other repressive regimes began to collapse. When the opponents of these regimes vowed to institute the Mandela/Tutu form of reconciliation in a post-Marxist government, the low-level apparatchiks realized that they had nothing to fear from a new government. As a result, there was nobody left to man the sinking ship. This message came through first and most loudly in Cuba as soon as the Cuban dissident movement pledged to renounce both revenge and punishment in a new regime. The Castro regime went poof a short time later. Its collapse signaled the fate of all the other legacy Marxist regimes on the planet, up to and including the abomination known as the People's Republic of China, which fell to pieces after the Wuhan Rebellion of 2024.

One other thing that facilitated these smashups was the collapse of government money. And such a blessing this was! After 20/20 national currencies started to lose their value all over the world, up to and including what had become the valueless currency called the American dollar. People had learned during the Upheaval and its aftermath that there was no trusting a government for anything, up to and including currency. That cannot be . . . that cannot be . . .

Yes, go ahead and take a breath. I should have remembered that these are words which you would find stupefying. My friend, the evaporation of governmental money should not strike you as surprising. Have you ever stopped to think about how money evolved during the 5,000 years of its existence? It started out as pieces of precious metal, usually of gold or silver. Throughout most of human history, when you wanted to purchase something, you exchanged a piece of metal for it. One valuable object given for another, which made perfect sense for everyone concerned. But eventually printed paper was substituted for the metal. The paper itself was worthless, but anyone who possessed it was theoretically able to exchange it for metal whenever they liked. This arrangement lasted until the late 20th century, when those pieces of paper were themselves replaced by electrical impulses, in the form of credit cards and then internet payments.

So the history of money over its 5,000 years was that of ever greater insubstantiality. It gradually transformed from metal to paper to bytes. By the time money had become nothing but an electrical impulse, these impulses were not backed up by any kind of precious metal, since all nations had gone off the gold standard. Currency, in short, had turned into the most insubstantial of illusions. And by the first decades of the 21st century, these illusions had started to compete with a different kind of electrical impulse, that of emptiness, as represented by those stratospheric government debts which demagogic politicians all over the world had inflicted upon their hapless citizenry. As the years went on, these debts continued to increase until they were even more enormous than a nation's official money supply. By the second decade of the 21st century, for example, the national debt of the United States had reached nearly eighteen trillion dollars, but no one lifted a finger about it. What happened next should have been predictable. The illusory bytes which indicated value and the illusory bytes which indicated void started to cancel each other out. Not that it happened all at once. For a while people still owned their property, earned their salaries, and made their purchases with governmental currency. But what had once possessed value, such as dollars, pounds, and euros, slowly started to vanish.

Well, so what? You will be relieved to hear that there was no corresponding social collapse. While all of this was happening, people discovered that it was quite easy to bypass governmental money, thanks to the new digital currency which was developed in the first decades of the 21st century. Hardly anyone had paid much attention to this kind of money prior to the Upheaval, but after 20/20 it was everywhere, and it soon turned into the only viable currency that counted. That cannot be possible! You think not? This was not a disaster--it was a breath of new and invigorating air in oppressive national cultures. It decentralized the money supply in the way that everything else was being decentralized. No more sweetheart deals between big banks and big government. Money became global instead of national, and no one single power base could control it.

What do you mean, what happened to people's savings? Were stockbrokers jumping out of windows as they did after the Crash in 1929? Don't be silly. By the time governmental money began to evaporate, so much had changed that nobody much cared, not even those former billionaires whose greenbacks weren't there any longer. Money might have mattered to a Piscean, but Aquarian had more interesting things to pay attention to. As for the internet money, it had value only for a few decades before it also evaporated. Today in the 22nd century, most exchanges of goods and services are free from any kind of money taint whatsoever. This means that nearly everything in our 22nd century world is given away for free. That cannot be possible!

My friend, you've got to stop saying that. Why do you think we need money for anything? It is not necessary in a world where creators of all sorts simply give their products to whomever needs them. This doesn't mean that we have returned to barter, since no one ever wants to argue about value. You must remember that in a world of the Net instead of the ego, your first priority in life is making sure that the other representatives of the Self in your vicinity have everything that they need. This means that we are no longer a consumer but a giver society.

You should also understand that when the population began to decline, there were surpluses of material goods all over the world to which no one had any legal right. These included not just electronics, clothing, and furnishings, but orphaned houses, automobiles, and buildings. Local communities began to give away unoccupied homes free of charge to anyone willing to move in and maintain the property. They also established what became known as county gives, where people could come and simply take what they needed. You might be interested in hearing where these county gives are held. Have you been wondering what happened to the Walmarts and the Targets of your era? As it happens, these big box structures are the only large Piscean structures still in use. No, not for shopping, but for county gives. People go to one whenever they need something and take what is necessary. No more getting and spending, just giving and taking. And in a world where everyone enjoys doing his/her dharmic duty, no one ever takes more than what s/he needs. Now what have I said that's so surprising? It should have been obvious in your era that your big boxes would eventually become sacred temples for spiritual communion.

This also means that the concept of what you knew as "property" isn't quite there any longer. No, you shouldn't think that what we've got is Marxist communism, which was yet another catastrophic top-down manipulation scheme. But we can see nowadays that Marxism was an attractive theory to millions for one simple reason: it possessed a glimmer of Divine Reality. Its vision was based on the kinds of energies which we can identify as Divine: interconnection, equality, communion, and a world without Others. In our era much of what Marx envisioned has come to pass. We live in a world which is best described as individualism within collectivism: we are both self-reliant as well as interdependent. Each one of us has the kind of necessary space to find our own way during our pilgrimage on this earth, but we all recognize Indra's Net. We continue to respect property rights, but very few of us insist on them. This is a paradox to be sure, but in a world where possessions are no longer very interesting, it describes our reality. You think video games were fun? You don't know what fun is until your stuff doesn't matter that much, you make sure that none of your neighbors are in want, and you are constantly making steps towards bodhisattvahood. There is no fun like bodhisattva fun.

Here, let me get you a glass of water. I knew you would find this information surprising, but I must confess I didn't think you'd start to choke. What can I be saying this time that is so astonishing? When you have completely eliminated us-against-them energies from your existence, and when you see your neighbors not as Others but as representatives of the Self, why should you want to make another human being purchase what you create?
 

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Feeling better now? Then let me tell you about a different kind of global development which you will probably find more interesting. Along with global money came a global language. By the middle of the 21st century the English language had become the planetary lingua franca. Today in the 22nd century everyone on planet earth, from Nepal to Timbuktu to Tierra del Fuego, speaks English.

And how this globalizing development was initially hated and feared! There was no more ferocious groupthink in your era like that of linguistic groupthink. Billions of people all over the world were terrified that the language of their ancestors might disappear before the onslaught of the English language. They had started to reject bigness in every way during this time, so how could they accept one big language? What about the literary treasures which had been written in languages other than English over the centuries? Were these just going to disappear from human memory? Mind you, nobody cared about the languages which they had spoken during their previous incarnations on this earth, which on many occasions just happened to be English. Only the language they spoke in their current incarnation counted. As if this made sense.

But more enlightened people realized the value of a global language and the reduction in groupthink it would inevitably produce. They argued that the idea of a single global language wasn't a case of linguistic one-upmanship--it was a return to the kind of unity which Homo sapiens had known in the time before tribalism. We can now see that returning to a single planetary language has proven to be a great blessing. It is next to impossible to be a groupthinker these days, not when every human being you encounter forms their thoughts in the same language that you do.

Granted, the transition to a single-language planet was not easy. Given that anti-Americanism was a hugely popular recreation in late-Piscean times, many people were unhappy to see this particular language turn into the planetary tongue. But there was no stopping its momentum. Still, here's an interesting question: why did English become the dominant global language? Why not Spanish or Mandarin Chinese, two languages which were also spoken by billions in your era? The prominence of the United States was part of the answer, but this does not explain everything in terms of human evolution. For many centuries English had only been an obscurely unimportant language, limited to a tiny group of island people who scarcely mattered to the planet as a whole. Furthermore, English is a hellishly difficult language to learn, if only because it is not spelled the way it is spoken.

Well, you need to remember that there is only one thing which creates success in the universe: Divine energy. The fact that English eventually became the global tongue means that it must have somehow possessed more Divine energy than the thousands of other languages on the planet. The evidence suggests that in many ways, this was the key. English eventually triumphed not because of its American influence, but because it was developed in a place where the inhabitants had been especially sensitive to Divine energy over the centuries: Britain.

Why should this be so? What made the inhabitants of that tiny little island so receptive to the energies of the Divine? Well, part of the answer lies in the fact that Britain happens to be an island. It is surrounded by water and enjoys such a moist climate that its people live almost as much in water as they do in air. And guess which element has the greatest ability to stimulate psychic or clairvoyant ability. Water. Over the centuries many diviners have realized that if they want to stimulate their intuition, they need to drink a lot of this elemental liquid or at least live in places where its influence is strong. American psychic Edgar Cayce settled in Virginia Beach because he realized that residing next to an ocean would stimulate his seership. When you live in a moist climate, your visionary abilities are constantly being stimulated.

Well, Britain has been accurately called a land of mists and ghosts,[105] and its literature tells us that its inhabitants have always possessed a special paranormal gift for picking up what are usually non-perceptible energies. Somehow the combination of wateriness, land energy, and an amalgamation of different races bestowed upon the inhabitants of this island an unparalleled talent for spiritual vision. This explains why Britain has produced so many extraordinary mystics over the centuries, which is the only way to describe the greatest British poets, dramatists, novelists, artists, and composers. From the Venerable Bede to the Beatles, the English have always been able to see something beyond people, objects, and events, and to enjoy worldwide popularity thanks to their ability to communicate their vision. This includes not just poetic visionaries like Shakespeare and the Romantic poets, but some of the most popular novelists in your era, including J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling. When you read Tolkien or Rowling, you always get a sense of something larger than the mundane world we inhabit, of some kind of shining truth behind the surface of things. Mind you, as late-Piscean writers, both Tolkien and Rowling had to give their readers plenty of us-against-them energy to keep things interesting, but that was never the primary focus of their work. What you consistently find in British imaginative genius is a sense of individually accessible Divine Reality, and this appeals to billions. Strawberry fields forever.

The ability to see beyond the ordinary also helps to explain why Britain was the home to some of the most extraordinary firsts in human history. During the Middle Ages, when a monarch was supposed to be God's representative on earth, the English were the first to force their king to obey the law. They were also the first to execute a subsequent king and the first to fight a civil war over human rights. These were not minor firsts in human history--along with the fact that Britain was the first country to industrialize, they were earth-shaking advancements in human evolution. Granted there were other democratic states in the world besides Britain over the centuries, but the hard and difficult steps to the kinds of freedoms we now cherish developed in a country which was riddled with spiritual visionaries.

There are plenty of other specifically English tendencies which other nationalities don't seem to possess but which also smack of spiritual vision: their ability to compromise, their practicality, their sense of humor (nobody talks about Merrie Norway or Merrie Spain), the emphasis on individuality (that nuisance called herd mentality doesn't happen so much when you speak English), their tolerance of eccentricity, their emphasis on "sweetness" in spirituality, which can be found most especially in Julian of Norwich's celebrated pronouncement that "all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well."[106] Rebelliousness counts here as well. It is no exaggeration to say that some kind of anti-authoritarian energy is hardwired into the sounds and the syllables of the English language. Historically the British have stood up to despotism time and again, and not just political tyranny but religious as well. In the medieval period English mystics were able to find an individualized way to the Divine outside of the Catholic establishment, and their Protestant dissenting heirs have had worldwide spiritual and political impact. Indeed, where in other cultures has the idea of dissent been as admired as it is among English speakers? People who speak English carry within them their very own inner Hyde Park soapbox, and when you lug that around, it's difficult to grovel before Sun Kings or Great Helmsmen.

The English have also always been able to assimilate foreign people or ideas. This perhaps explains why similar spiritual developments didn't happen in watery Ireland next door--that island never experienced the kind of foreign invaders which Britain knew, including the Romans and the Germanic tribes. Britain was an island where diverse groups of people had to find ways to live together. The visionary culture which grew out of this mongrelization was based on a naturally harmonious way of doing things, which found its way into the language and eventually made it the perfect planetary means of communication.

The United States inherited the language and the tendencies, if not the watery climate. So the Veil was never as thin here as it was in Britain. Still, spiritual vision did on occasion burst forth here: with the Founding Fathers in the late 18th century, the 19th century Transcendentalists, and the 20th century Beat Generation/Counterculture. Out of this last movement came the spiritual energy necessary to create our computerized world. Yes, today we realize that the computer revolution, with its emphasis on interconnection, equality, information, and decentralization, was most definitely a manifestation of Divine energy. The hackers and geeks of your time who held centralized authority in a very English kind of contempt were not only perceiving but bringing into manifestation nothing less than the energies of the Divine. Not that anyone in Silicon Valley probably realized it, but that's what was happening.

Nevertheless, you must also understand that English is not the only language which we Aquarians speak. It is not unusual for us to be fluent in more than a dozen languages as we go through our lives. Not that we have to spend many tedious years learning these languages--we have discovered that our early divinatory training helps us to remember the tongues we spoke during our previous incarnations. This means that when we Aquarians return to an earthly incarnation, we come equipped not only with full knowledge of our previous lives but of the languages we used to speak. So while English is the common tongue these days, what were once considered "dead" languages have enthusiastic speakers all over the world. We estimate there are more people who speak Old Egyptian, Sanskrit, and Quechua here in the 22nd century than in antiquity. And while the greatest literary works of the ages have all been translated into English, people continue to read and study the masterpieces written in their past life languages.

This also means, by the way, that interest in genealogy has no meaning in our 22nd century world. Previous incarnations are now rightly seen to be more important than forbearers, especially when memories of our former lives have revealed to us the obvious fact that we humans have existed upon this earth many times in both genders and all different races. When you go through your life knowing that you have been more than one human type over the centuries, neither ancestors nor groupthink has any meaning. Genealogy was only another legacy ego-gratification strategy anyway. No one ever thought about tracing their lineage back to those days of perfect equality when all humanity was one, even though this is the Reality of the human race.

When all forms of groupthink vanished, so did that illusion called the Other. Perhaps I ought to remind you that there is one single thing which differentiates our Aquarian civilization from yours, and it goes like this: throughout most of human history, whenever people encountered another sentient being, they mistakenly perceived this energy field to be an Other, and usually an Other who was considered to be an enemy. But today we see that there are no Others. There is only the Self. Before the 21st century it was impossible for most human beings to perceive the Self; nowadays it is impossible for them to perceive an Other. The higher kind of consciousness which we all possess is based on this Reality, this Truth.

So gone forever are those days when there was no awareness of the Godhead within all sentient beings. I believe that there was a popular pastime in your late-Piscean times called enemy watching, which was apparently an enjoyable thing to experience. Not that most of the people who practiced it ever attempted to harm whomever they perceived as an enemy, but billions upon billions enjoyed wasting their time contemplating the Others whom they hated, the Others who had the wrong race, politics, religion, sports affiliation, and most especially those Others who possessed money. For some unfathomable reason it was immensely enjoyable to detest these Others, day in and day out, for months and years at a time.

Well, this kind of time-wasting is non-existent in today's world, up to and including its manifestations in all those appalling sports encounters you Pisceans so enjoyed. What was once called the Super Bowl came to its predictable end in 2039. By that time it was being called the Bore Bowl, since boredom was the only exhausted emotion it was generating. The following year finished off the World Cup, the World Series, and the Olympics. So much for the thrill of victory and agony of defeat. It had never been anything except pointless quantum disruption, anyway. Mind you, our kids still get physical education as part of their curriculum, but no more bodies clobbering bodies. Good riddance.

It wasn't just in sports that us-against-them evaporated. Those hierarchical wastes of energy called awards, as in Miss America, Pulitzers, Grammies, Oscars, Emmys, Employees of the Month, and most especially those ridiculous pieces of Scandinavian shit, are history. In the years after the Upheaval, you could no longer find anyone who wanted to participate in an event where there was only one winner, instead of everyone being a winner. The collapse of those Oscar thingies deserves special mention here, since they were one of the first prizes to evaporate. When even the most slow-witted of psychic meatheads in Hollyfool realized that accepting any kind of award was a major disruption of the quantum field, all at once everything about the Academy Awards came to an end. People who were nominated announced that they would not accept the prize, nobody bought tickets for the awards ceremony, and senior motion picture executives had to be hospitalized. Bam! The Oscars were over faster than you could say jump the shark.

What's amusing about these developments is that when a higher kind of quantum consciousness also began to penetrate the heads of previous Oscar recipients, how these newly enlightened Zen cowpersons started to regret that they had ever once believed that an Oscar was something worth having! Naturally they now wanted to discard this particular form of toxicity as soon as they could, but they also realized that their Oscar statuettes were filled with such malignant energy that it wouldn't do to send them off to a landfill. So how could they get rid of their legacy awards in an ecological fashion? Fortunately the Los Angeles municipal authorities came up with the perfect solution. They decided to erect what was eventually called the Oscar Dump Garden, where those pernicious little thingies could get themselves tossed. The Oscar Dump Garden quickly filled up with thousands of rejects, and it immediately became one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.

All of the other hierarchical energies which you knew in your era have also disappeared. You might be interested to hear that we Aquarians don't bother to call people with any kind of moniker, as in Mister or Doctor. Instead we use the terms Brother and Sister, which is of course what we are, as we are all blood-related members of Homo sapiens. But we also realize that we are brothers and sisters to the non-human energy manifestations in the universe, as St. Francis of Assisi told us when he called the sun and the moon, water and fire, his brothers and sisters. They are kin to us, and we to them.

This means that there are no longer any traces of caste, celebrity, professoriate, or elites of any sort in the world today. Also gone is that European nonsense called legacy feudalism, which has been mercifully kaput for many years by now. Here in America we were never burdened with aristocratic titles, but the feudal nonsense continued to infect the European part of the world as late as the 21st century. Well, if anything needed to be eliminated from our tired old planet, the pathetic delusion that just because some remote ancestor of yours accomplished something, you were entitled to a special rank, as in king or duke. None of us today can understand why this nonsense lasted as long as it did. What do you mean, what kind of idiot wouldn't want to be a prince or a Brahmin? An idiot who sees Reality instead of illusion, that's who.

Every European monarchy expired by the end of the 21st century, thanks to an ever-increasing awareness that these institutions were disrupting the natural harmony of the universe. Not that anything had to be forced: the Aquarian children who were destined to inherit a title simply refused to accept them. The last British monarch, Charles IV, signed his abdication within days of inheriting what had once been so charmingly known as the throne. He then opened the palace doors and tried to give everything away, but no one was interested in touching any of it, not even the gold and diamond stuff, as it was rightly seen to be manifestations of negative energy. If I recall correctly, the trinkets ended up in warehouses since not even the museums wanted them.

As for the woman whom you would probably call the pretender to the throne, Charles's daughter Victoria, she is a woman of considerable sense and tells people she is perfectly content with her potter's wheel and her petunias at her home in Wiltshire. And who would not be? That cannot be possible! Now what is it this time that sounds so stupefying? Are you trying to tell me that you would prefer a diamond to a petunia? My friend, you need to grow up. Only with a sound awareness of your dharmic duty will you ever become a valuable member of our planetary commonwealths. Especially the Commonwealth of America, which is, as I'm sure you must have foreseen, the new name for the country you used to know as the United States.
 

* * *


Now what have I said that's so surprising? Have I forgotten to mention that every nation state on the planet today calls itself a Commonwealth, including the old United States? Oh, come on. Stop turning blue. How can you think that the corrupt and inefficient nation state you knew in late-Piscean times would last forever? Yes, I know that the United States was supposed to go on until the last syllable of recorded time, but you must remember that in all the years that the United States existed, its inhabitants were never very good at democracy in the first place, considering how many corrupt incompetents they kept electing to public office. As long as their bread and circuses kept happening, the citizenry would let their politicians get away with anything. That finally changed when people started to realize how damaging such a political arrangement was to the harmony of the quantum field.

The Commonwealth of America was established in 2055, and we feel it is a vast improvement over the kind of legislative train-wreck you knew in your era. As I'm sure you're aware, commonwealth is a term which goes back to 17th century England, when for a few years the nation was theoretically a republic under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell. That commonwealth eventually disappeared, but the term and the vision did not. The idea of wealth in common has always struck people as indicating something of value. It could never have been possible in a world filled with Others, but in a world of the Self it makes perfect sense for our national polities. But our Aquarian commonwealths aren't exactly Cromwellian dictatorships. They are the kinds of true polities which fulfills Thoreau's ideal of a government "which governs not at all". Yes, I know that something like this was inconceivable to you late-Pisceans, but it has proved to be viable in our era. In a world where top-downess has been bypassed into extinction, a non-governing government works perfectly.

Still, I'm sure you will be pleased to hear that the Commonwealth of America is not that different from the old United States, since it is based upon the principles of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. However, there have been some new and beneficial Aquarian adjustments. We still have a federal government, but as for the people who work for it, it has become proverbial that a fed never has anything to do. Congress continues to meet, but only for a few weeks every winter. The remaining members of our judiciary hear only a few cases a year since there are hardly any more legal conflicts these days, let alone prosecution of anyone dumb enough to commit a crime. Still, talking of abolishing these institutions goes nowhere. I doubt that we will ever feel comfortable unless some kind of separation of power continues to exist, even in such a limited form. And we still have a president, but this person is only barely relevant to our lives.

Besides, you might be interested to hear that those polities as you knew as the fifty states no longer exist. They had become as monstrously unworkable as the federal government in your era. You must understand that when county sourcing started to manifest, state governments got themselves bypassed even more quickly than the fed. Today the American Commonwealth consists of about 3,500 local units, which are based on what you knew as counties, townships, or parishes. When your neighbors are always eager to give you help if you need it, why would you need an enormous centralized anything? The federal government continues to take care of those few remaining issues which impact the whole commonwealth, but these diminish with each passing year.

As for national self-defense, do you honestly think any country still needs a military? Granted it was a necessity in the days when groupthink ruled the planet, but that nonsense is now history. There continues to be an American Department of Defense, but it is mostly composed of mind-meld experts who are so proficient with their clairvoyant skills that they are able to pick up on anyone who contemplates even the slightest mental disruption to the quantum field. This means that whenever a single negative thought is directed against the American Commonwealth, our security experts immediately know it. Defense officials of all other countries are capable of this as well, so an attempted surprise attack from a disgruntled loser is a waste of energy if there ever was one. But there are no disgruntled losers around any more, not in a globalized world where everyone is a winner.

You also might be interested to hear that the spread of commonwealth governments finally brought an end to the interminable problems in the Middle East. Today we can see that these difficulties were caused by one of the stupidest and most ineffective manipulation paradigms ever devised, the establishment of the state of Israel. Whatever possessed the American government in the 1940's to set up a nation based upon a religion I cannot even begin to imagine. The whole idea flew directly in the face of one of the most cherished of American traditions, the separation of church and state. But apparently this silly little notion didn't apply to the rest of the human race, so various American administrations not only helped to set up a theocracy but did everything in their power to keep it functioning. Was there ever a greater betrayal of one of the cornerstones of our democracy? Especially when the American government established the new country in a part of the world where it would be surrounded by adherents of an opposing religion who were its bitterest enemies? This had to be one of the biggest political mistakes in history, which subsequent events demonstrated time and again.

In all the years of Israel's existence, I doubt that you could have found any more ferocious groupthink than the kind which smothered the nation of Israel and its neighbors. Needless to say, they all enjoyed doing what all groupthinkers do, keeping their victimhood alive so they could continually wallow in their masochism. When the countries in the Middle East erupted into one armed conflict after another, the American government spent many years and billions of dollars in a useless folly called peace processing, which was supposed to somehow ameliorate the original disastrous initiative. Peace processing was nothing but another doomed-to-fail manipulation paradigm. You would think that after several decades of constant bloodshed people would finally start to realize that the inhabitants of the Middle East were never going to get the peace that they wanted, but of course that didn't happen.

Well, nothing lasts forever. The problems in the Middle East finally ended, but not because of any kind of political initiative. They evaporated when people began to lose interest in what they had been fighting about, namely the groupthinkery inherent in their religions. Both Israeli and Arab kids were starting to speak English anyway, and their computers were giving them what everyone in those days was starting to feel, a sense of universal interconnection. Well, if ever anyone needed to get over it, both the Israelis and the Arabs were it, and this is what started to happen. If you think that this idea is beyond preposterous, you are underestimating the power of the astrological shift which began to be felt in the 21st century, as well as the kind of higher consciousness it helped to create. Fanatical religious belief had never been anything but a distinctly Piscean phenomenon. When Piscean vibes disappeared, so did the fanaticism.

In 2057 the inhabitants of Israel voted to disestablish its nation state and turn their vexed piece of real estate into a commonwealth. The name that they chose for the new nation was not Israel, not Palestine, and not even Disney World--they elected to become the Commonwealth of Aristotle, which was unanimously agreed to be the perfect name. Aristotle had been revered by members of all three Abrahamic religions over the centuries, so he was the perfect choice. The name of the new nation was also a signal to the universe that as far as the eastern end of the Mediterranean was concerned, philosophy was going to matter more than any kind of religion. When you're a philosopher, it no longer matters what kind of religious groupthink your ancestors had followed. You are now a citizen of the universe with an open mind and an open heart.

The Commonwealth of Aristotle was established amid much planetary rejoicing on March 21, 2058. The guest of honor at the foundation ceremony was none other than Aristotle himself, or at least his 21st century incarnation, a Yucatan florist named Carmen Diego. She charmed everyone when she stated that she wished she had made The Nicomachean Ethics a bit more intelligible. She also mentioned how happy she was that her famous concept of eudaimonia, or a striving towards excellence, continued to be both understood and practiced after 2,500 years. Thus ended some of the most pointless groupthink silliness the world has ever known.

This kind of religious transformation didn't just happen in the Middle East. By the middle of the 21st century, people were starting to understand that their spiritual beliefs needed to inclusive, not exclusive, and that they would most truly find their way to the Divine by opening their minds to more than one religious tradition. A higher consciousness is an expanded consciousness. It needs to spread out both vertically and horizontally--upwards to the Divine but also outwards to the other jewels in the Net. This meant that people began to realize that no one single religion possessed all the right spiritual answers. Buddhism and Hinduism had shown countless Westerners what was inadequate about their tradition, but the opposite held true as well: Western ideas of logic, ethics, and the status of women had never been strong in the East. There was also no sense of the Divine in Buddhism, a fact which had always seemed incomprehensible to people of other spiritual traditions. And the Buddhist tendency to see the world as nothing but maya or mind had led to a disastrous kind of social passivity which had been on painful display in Eastern cultures for millennia. Buddhism needed the Logos as much as the West needed a dharma.

Out of these realizations came a new kind of spiritual energy. People began to take what was best from all religious traditions and meld them into a universal spirituality. By the middle of the 21st century, Sufi mystic Dara Shikoh's medieval prophecy that all religions would mingle into one had started to become true. Many people today still cherish their favorite spiritual avatars, whether Jesus, Laozi, Buddha, or Muhammad, but gone forever is the kind of toxic religious groupthink for which our ancestors had to kill. The kind of spirituality we have now is both globalized and local. Globalized in the sense that each human soul takes time to study many different spiritual traditions, but also local in the sense in that you are always able to meet with your friends and neighbors to discuss various spiritual issues. This latter has become the preferred way to commune with our fellow spiritual seekers. It has been facilitated by one other networking innovation which got started after the Upheaval: spiritual networking. Today we Aquarians are always able to connect with sympathetic friends who can assist us as we proceed on our spiritual journey, whether in face-to-face interaction or on the net.

We also like to think that Walt Whitman's prophecy about the future of human spirituality in Leaves of Grass (1855) is finally coming true:

There will soon be no more priests. . . . Through the divinity of themselves shall the kosmos and the new breed of poets be interpreters of men and women and of all events and things.[107]
As for that great rough beast slouching towards Bethlehem, he was cancelled due to lack of interest.
 

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I see that you've started to yawn. Can it be possible that you're getting bored? You tell me that my description of the 22nd quantum world sound like one big flat tire? And you're wondering what on earth we Aquarians can possibly do for fun, apart from reading Wordsworth and singing hosannas? Presumably a better way for us to occupy our time would be by watching 50,000 versions of the same old us-against-them disputes on an antiquated flat screen. You want your bad guys! And you want to stay holed up in Dodge with your illusions and your substances! In spite of everything I've said, you are still convinced that your late-Piscean world was a much more vibrant and thriving culture than what we've got.

Well, then--would you be interested to hear that we Aquarians are able to enjoy a kind of global mobility which you late-Pisceans could only have dreamed about? Wouldn't you have loved the ability to move to any part of the world whenever you liked? Today the entire planet is the Anglosphere, which means that national boundaries no longer have much meaning. It is estimated that only about 8% of the world's population live out their lives in the commonwealth where they were born. The majority of us Zen cowpersons live and work in any place we find congenial. It is not unusual for young people to move to a new commonwealth every year or two. This is easy enough to do when everything you own fits into a backpack, or at least the trunk of your car. No more balls and chains of any kind, whether of money, stuff, employment, or location. Wagons ho one more time!

Of course when people get older, they tend not to want so much mobility. It is common for people in midlife to find a spot upon the earth which they like and settle down for their remaining years. But no matter where they are, they are still able to easily communicate with anyone near or far. That is what matters, much more than stuff or location. Indeed, we have so many things to learn or communicate that hardly anyone experiences a blah moment. The sense of interconnection is something we find endlessly fascinating.

Another benefit to our Zen cowperson lifestyle is leisure. It is estimated that we Aquarians are blessed with five or six times the amount of leisure time which people knew in your era. The lack of spare time in the 20th and 21st centuries is another subject which baffles us historians. How was it possible that in a prosperous and relatively stable nation, people were working fifty, sixty, or even eighty hours a week? Apparently the peons were brainwashed into thinking that such time expenditures had to happen, or else they would never be able to purchase the kinds of stuff or experiences which only money could buy. But when did they ever get a chance to enjoy them?

Well, that nonsense eventually bit the well-deserved dust. We Aquarians have infinitely more leisure than toil in our lives, which just happens to be the only rational way to live. A good many of us do not work at all, apart from growing our own food and crafting our own necessities, as in clothes, furniture, and homes. In this we like to think that we are practicing the kinds of elvish energies described by Tolkien: he tells us that the elves of Lothlorien "did not desire strength or domination or hoarded wealth, but understanding, making, and healing, to preserve all things unstained."[108] If ever there were a perfect description of what a human being should do during the Vishnu stage of his or her life, these four words are it: understanding, making, healing, and preserving. When you can go through life like this, you experience nothing but constant joy.

We also think that it is no surprise that Tolkien listed understanding first, since it is the most important of these energies. Our education does not end when we finish school--we see ourselves as life-long learners whose goal is that admirable state of being called a polymath. Polymaths were few and far between in your era, but they are the rule and not the exception in our 22nd century world. Have you forgotten that we consider our era to be nothing less than a second Renaissance? So why would you think that all 2.5 billion of us cannot become as learned as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Galileo Galilei, or Francis Bacon? Anyone who wants to master as much knowledge as possible now has the time to accomplish it with ease.

We also use the blessings of our leisure time to go on pilgrimages. Vacations as you knew them were just another form of self-indulgence which never did anyone any good. How much more harmonious is it for people to have the opportunity to search out Divine energy! Of course, the energies of the Divine are present at all times and in all places on our earth, but there are special locales which possess exceptionally strong otherworldly vibrations, and these sacred spaces continue to be venerated. It's true that most people feel a globalized spirituality these days, but that hardly means we've torn down our churches, mosques, and temples. We Aquarians can still receive a mystical thrill when we visit Stonehenge, Chartres cathedral, or the tomb of Hafez in Shiraz.

Oh, come on. You're still telling me that this doesn't sound like much of anything? Well, then let's go back to the idea of communication. You need to understand that the way we Aquarians communicate is something which very few people in your era anticipated. When billions of people began to develop new psychic skills, these talents not only helped them find their way into positive energies, they also helped them to develop new abilities. Today practically everyone in our Aquarian world is skilled not only in divination, but in talents such as clairaudience and clairvoyance, psychometry, retrocognition, remote viewing, and mind melds. In a world where the old separateness illusions have vanished, you can communicate with other sentient beings in ways our ancestors never would have believed possible.

Consider the phenomena of the mind meld. This is one legacy science fiction idea which proved to be prescient. Most people these days can do a mind meld whenever they like, since they've been trained in the technique since childhood. All you have to do is tap the center of your forehead three times, concentrate on the person with whom you wish to connect, and then start to communicate. Easy as Bluetooth. This talent shouldn't sound astonishing to you since it was the next logical step after cell phones. Those beloved cells of yours were eventually rendered obsolete when people learned how to connect with each other simply by their thoughts.

But of course, we still rely upon our computers and our internet. You will be pleased to hear that we Aquarians are as great computer enthusiasts as you were in the 21st century. Not that we use our computers for addictive fixes, as in porn or video games, but we continue to rely them for information, communication, and creativity. However, we anticipate that the internet will no longer be necessary by the next century, when we move into a more mental reality. Today thanks to our skills with mind melds, we are slowly learning how to work with what we call the mindnet, which will probably supersede the internet in a few more decades.

You might be interested that our internet now gives us access to every single word or event which has occurred in the history of our planet. In other words, we have managed to recover and digitize works from all human periods which were once thought lost forever, thanks to the efforts of our retrievers. What do I mean by retrievers? Retrievers and discerners are those specially gifted psychics who are able to visualize lost texts or historical events which once existed in earth's historical past. This includes not just those literary works which were once thought lost forever, but literally everything written or created during the history of humanity. You must understand that when people began to cultivate their psychic abilities, they began to pick up on more than what was happening during the present moment. They began to get flashes of past objects and events as well. This means that nothing is ever permanently lost, not even the thousands of scrolls which were destroyed when the library of Alexandria was burned.

In the middle of the 21st century some especially gifted psychics began to realize that with the proper amount of concentration, they could visualize words which had once been written, whether on ancient papyrus, pressed into clay, or engraved upon stone. With practice they were not only able to visualize this writing but could then transcribe it into digital form. Much that had been destroyed over the centuries could be retrieved for the first time in history. One of the first and most successful retrievers was a woman in Nigeria who was able to retrieve all 123 plays of the Greek dramatist Sophocles. Scholars were initially skeptical that she was coming up was the real thing, but detailed analyses of her texts soon convinced everyone that she was accessing the genuine words.

Once this retrieval was proved successful, countless others started doing it. Within a few years people were astounded to discover that they could read the poetry of Sappho, the texts of all Stoic and Epicurean philosophers, the ancient Chinese Book of Bai Ze, and hundreds of lost Biblical, Zoroastrian, and Islamic texts. Musical scores and artistic masterpieces once thought lost forever were also recovered. A retriever in Thailand managed to transcribe a lost play by William Shakespeare, the celebrated Love's Labour's Won, although unfortunately this play proved to be even sillier than The Two Gentlemen of Verona. On the other hand, when a retriever in Alabama was able to transcribe Shakespeare's final revision of King Lear, everyone rejoiced.

Retrievers are not the only people who are recovering lost history these days. We also have many talented psychics whom we call discerners, who are able visualize actual historical events. This means that there is no longer any dispute about what truly happened in history, thanks to the efforts of our discerners. However, human history being what it is, it takes great effort and a strong stomach to be a discerner. Most Aquarians don't want to go there, since the bloody horrors of pre-Aquarian human history are not pleasant spectacles. Still, some people realize that they must do their dharmic duty and visualize the events for the sake of the Truth. Eventually we anticipate that we will be able to access the entire Akashic records, which really do exist, any time we like. Richard III was guilty, by the way.

The blank look on your face continues to tell me that you still cannot imagine how these skills could make for an interesting world. Well, then--you might enjoy hearing that we Aquarians also find it very easy to communicate with trees, bushes, rivers, birds, fish, and animals. That's right: the sentient energy fields which also inhabit our planet are no longer dumb. With the right kind of mind meld, we find it very easy to understand exactly what our non-human companions want to tell us. The talent to do this is today nearly universal.

The only catch is that people have sometimes been disappointed about the non-hominid conversations which have ensued. Our canine companions have an irritating tendency to complain about literally everything. My dog Butch constantly gripes about the quality of his food, the fragrance from my wife's perfume, and the pretensions of the local squirrels. He also tends to utter quantum disruptive comments whenever the delivery van arrives. My cat companion Flavia, on the other hand, speaks only in obscure paradoxes on those rare occasions when she elects to speak at all. She has on occasion informed me that the mouse cannot be quantified, while the human is but a brass bell, and catnip in the paw is worth twice the glittering raven's eye. Whatever these might mean. It is apparent to most Aquarians that deciphering feline pronouncements such as these will take several more decades.

You want to know how we are able to understand animalspeak? Well, in the same way we became become psychic. We gave up our groupthink illusions, we focused on interconnection, and we practiced daily divination. And within a few years, millions of us discovered that we could translate non-human energies into words, which has proven to be a joy to all energy forms concerned (although we did get an earful when the Nile River was finally able to tell us what she thought about the Aswan Dam).

We also enjoy communicating with entities not of our world. That is to say, we enjoy conversing with sentient beings on other inhabitable planets in the universe. Not only do we possess a globalized mentality, we have a universalized one as well. And most of us enjoy spending several hours a week talking to our spacepals in the Enlidarian planetary system.

Now what have I said this time that's so surprising? You think that this means we've somehow invented flying saucers in order to communicate with other entities in the universe? Or that aliens from outer space finally landed upon the earth? Presumably plopping down on the White House lawn with trumpets blaring?

Are you, as your late-Piscean expression would have it, kidding? The pre-Aquarian fantasy that it was possible for Homo sapiens to exist anywhere but its planetary environment was the last-word in hubristic fantasy. But that doesn't mean that we cowpersons on Terra cannot communicate with other beings in the universe. I see that you're still stuck in your legacy Newtonian mindset, which tells you that the only way you can communicate over a distance is through some kind of mechanical device. My friend, you need to free yourself from this kind of nonsense. The quantum field is nonlocal. Distance between energy manifestations does not matter in an interconnected universe. Once you get the hang of it, you can do a mind meld with your friend Bridget in Muncie as easily as with your other friend Monsify, who lives thirty-five light years away on Enlidarian Gamma.

Yes, I am aware that it never occurred to anyone in your cognitively-deluded culture to attempt non-mechanical communication with off-planet entities. This was probably just as well. The Enlidarians tell us that they knew about the existence of us earthlings for many centuries prior to the Aquarian era but were less than eager to contact us. As one Enlidarian stated in an early interview: "If we had attempted to communicate with you earthlings prior to your 22nd century, can you imagine the kind of bathos we would have had to listen to? Substances, whining, denial, excuses, groupthink, soap operas, ego grasping . . . this would hardly have produced anything remotely resembling intelligent conversation." Alas, how true.

But when it became obvious that we humans were finally ridding ourselves of our illusions, the communication started to happen. We call the first people who managed interstellar communication the startalkers. Needless to say, when the first startalkers heard the voices of Enlidarians and other starpeople inside their heads, they were somewhat rattled. But when the voices proved to be not only sensible but humorous as well, and when the startalkers acquired the ability to visualize the physical form of the entities with whom they were communicating, people were persuaded of the reality of these exchanges. As the years went on, when more and more people were able to open their minds to the starpeople, mild melds with off-planet entities became the rule instead of the exception.

These conversations soon proved to be immensely valuable for everyone concerned. We humans started getting the most incredible messages about life and energy from other sentient beings in the universe. It was especially helpful when the Enlidarians started giving us some very practical advice about how to deal with our legacy environmental toxicity. On the other hand, they have on occasion given us information which isn't exactly pleasant. One of the first things we discovered was that the inhabitants of our little planet have been the laughingstock of the universe for several millennia now, thanks to our endless quantum disruptive energies. Whenever we rocked our planetary boat, we disrupted other environments as well as our own. Things were occasionally so bad that the Enlidarians and others of our star neighbors had to issue safety warnings: Attention South Quadrant--Class 9 Hazardous Particle Alert, the earthlings are at it again, prepare to take shelter from photon storm and other aggregate energy disruptions, situation will last several vernal durational units, do not attempt interplanetary communication until the all-clear is sounded. My goodness, why didn't our Piscean ancestors realize what havoc they were sending out into the universe with their endless us-against-them energies? One elderly Enlidarian once told me that she could sometimes feel the negative vibrations of a single Little League baseball game being played in Winslow, Arizona. And we earthlings just kept throwing these vibrations out into the universe, year after us-against-them year!

Well, who needs us-against-them excitement when you can communicate not only with the Enlidarians but with the thousands of other sentient beings scattered across the universe? No one knows how many different cultures exist in our spacetime reality, but I expect that eventually we will be able to communicate with them all. Of course, not all of these cultures exist at a higher evolutionary level than ours. Believe it or not, there are actually some planetary cultures whose inhabitants are stuck in even more illusion than our Piscean ancestors! I know that this must sound as incredible as fire made out of water, but it is a plain fact of universal life. So at present communication with every last civilization in the cosmos is not possible. But since learning, growth, and evolution continues apace in all cultures, we are certain that one day it will happen. At the moment we are contented to stick with our buddies on Enlidaria.

There is one other way in which we Aquarians communicate with other sentient beings, which I'm sure you will find surprising. We Aquarians enjoy talking to non-corporeal entities as well. People who possess this talent are called spirittalkers. That's right, we Aquarians can easily communicate with the so-called dead. The only catch here is that most of the recently deceased (1) are still clinging to their outmoded Newtonian mindsets, and (2) tend to do a lot of grumbling, particularly those entities which constitute the American cohort known as the Baby Boomers. Conversing with the spirit of a Baby Boomer is always an exercise in tedious frustration, as they just keep wanting and wanting, especially Ford Mustangs, as if this kind of folly might be enjoyable at their higher vibrations. They also keep demanding the right to incarnate again on this earth right this very second! Well, when the Boomers were in the flesh a century and a half ago, they should have realized that they needed to make the most of their current incarnation since their chances of immediately returning to physical manifestation were not too likely, thanks to the upcoming drop in population. But you can never talk sense to a Baby Boomer.

Fortunately other deceased cohorts have proven to possess more agreeable personalities. Indeed, you do not know what intelligent conversation is until you can spend several hours conversing with a long-deceased druid or shaman. Ditto for early Daoists, Vedic sages, Native American medicine people, Egyptian priestesses, or any other sage who truly knew how to live in perfect harmony with the universe. When these kinds of exchanges became common, we humans stopped having to reinvent the rota, so to speak, at least as far as rta was concerned. We could get information about natural harmony directly from the sages who had done it successfully over the centuries, and did this ever help to solve our problems.

We are also able to converse with recently deceased family members, a skill which has, needless to say, taken the sting out of death. Besides, nowadays some spirits continue to live with their loved ones after they pass, sometimes for years at a time. Normally spirits remain only earth only for a short period after their passing since they see the necessity of moving on. Still, those who are concerned about their loved ones tend to stay right where they are. Of course, if and when a widow or a widower wants to remarry, the deceased spouse takes permanent leave, or else things might get embarrassing.

Spirit communication was greatly facilitated in the fourth decade of the 21st century when a young man in Omaha named Billy Joe Smartwhiz invented a super-sensitive computer which enabled spirits to communicate with us physicals. Like most people at the time, Billy Joe realized that we physicals needed to do something for the countless unhappy spirits among us, who have very little to do with themselves except watch the world go round. Well, after only a few months' effort, he managed to develop a hardware device that came equipped with a keyboard which responded only to vibrational energy impulses. He called his startup spookaccess.com, and it was an immediate success. For the first time in human history, the non-corporeal could type out messages for us physicals and respond in writing when we answered them. It wasn't as effective as verbal communication, which only a few clairaudients could accomplish, but it worked. All at once millions of spirits could communicate with the physicals, and how they loved it! And how the physicals loved it as well, especially since they quickly discovered that their angels could come through the spookaccess devices as well. All at once everyone on the planet had to have one, not only to chat with Great Aunt Millie but also to hear what their Divine companions wanted to communicate. In an instant, tarot cards and other oracular tools were obsolete. With a spookaccess device you could receive clear responses from not only your deceased loved ones, but your guardian angels as well.

Spookaccess made a colossal difference in our earthly reality, and most especially for the poltergeists among us. No longer did they need to torment the sleep of harmless Midwestern secretaries in order to have some fun--they could communicate with any physical they liked. This held especially true for the spirits who had been discarnate for centuries. Many of the latter had never quite realized that they no longer existed in the flesh and had remained in their locales doing the same thing over and over for centuries. But with communication now possible, they gradually accepted that the non-corporeal was now their current state of being and that they needed to start releasing their attachment to their earthly reality.

This latter was what counted. We now understand that it is never healthy for spirits to remain in the earth's energy field, as it is just another form of Clinging Demon addiction. Fortunately, as you must realize by now, there is a cure for addiction, namely daily repetitive exercise, and this holds true for spirits as well as physicals. In 2048 a group of the recently deceased in Nashville came together to form what became known as the Spiritual Practice Association, to help spirits free themselves from their earthly attachments through the use of special exercises. The idea caught on very quickly, especially after we physicals set aside certain parks or other areas for local spirits to do the exercises.

The effort proved to be a resounding success. Millions of the spirits all over the world immediately took advantage of the opportunity and slowly but steadily began to learn the necessary detachment skills. It was Hanged Man time again, only this time it was Hanged Spirit. For the first time in history even the most clinging of spirits realized that continued residence upon planet earth was not in their best interests. There was a realm beyond the earth into which all spirits must ultimately cross over, and many realized that the time had finally come for them. What is this realm, you ask? Well, I doubt that it can be described in anything as inadequate as words. But we Aquarians feel that it bears no resemblance to what has been recorded about the afterlife in sacred scripture, especially since it seems to be a realm which is not completely detached from our earthly reality--the spirits who have crossed over are occasionally able to return to our physical earth if they so desire.

Or so our angels have told us. Needless to say, we also use our spookaccess devices to communicate with our angels any time we like. We are always asking them for advice about our various issues and on occasion ask/give permission for assistance, since even in our Aquarian world this is sometimes necessary. The angels come through for us time and again in all areas of our lives: education, health, technology, and the occasional dispute. We also get solid practical answers about our occasional perplexities; for example, a blight started to destroy the Italian wine industry a few years ago, and no one could figure out what to do. But with angelic assistance the problem was quickly solved--and let me tell you, there is no wine like Divine wine. Of course, angelic assistance has not stopped all problems, accidents, and injuries in our lives. But it has diminished them, and what with armed conflict a thing of the past, most of us are now able to live out our lives with the kind of health and security which the disprojs in your era were so desperate to attain.

The angels also provide assistance with our World Congress. Yes, our planet now has a supreme legislative body called the World Congress, complete with the perfect planetary anthem: Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. When all of us Homo sapiens began to see ourselves as citizens of the universe, a World Congress was the inevitable result. However, you should not think that our World Congress resembles the corrupt late-Piscean silliness you knew as the United Nations. Your UN was yet another toxic top-down scheme poisoned by money and doomed to failure. Our World Congress, on the other hand, has been a resounding success. It meets once every two years, and we anticipate that eventually it will turn into the only government left on the planet. For the past three decades the Archangel Gabriel has given the keynote address at its biennial opening, and needless to say, the members of our Congress immediately set to work doing everything our messenger from God suggests we implement.

This brings me to the most important communication of them all: communication directly with the Divine.  Needless to say, our spookaccess devices don't work as far as the Almighty is concerned, nor do we expect them to. At this point in human evolution it is far better for us sentient beings to communicate with the angels instead, since in this fashion we can receive all the spiritual advice we need. But that doesn't mean that we never attempt to communicate with the Reality to be found at the center of the universe. But listening more than talking is what counts here: gone are the days when people thought it was rational to make demands of the Deity. Our communication with the Divine consists mostly of prayer, meditation, and listening. If and when we ask anything of the Divine, we ask only for the summum bonum. The kinds of gimme prayers you knew in your era are history.

This makes for ever-increasing harmony in our lives, which means ever-increasing rta. Here I should remind you of something about the energies of rta: they can only flourish when you live as close to natural energies of the earth as possible. This means that the archetypal human being of the 22nd century is none other than Bilbo Baggins. That is to say, the unadventurous Bilbo Baggins with his tea, seed-cake, and earth-inhabiting lifestyle, not the Bilbo who runs off to experience some kind of tedious us-against-them adventure. We Aquarians like to think that we're living in Middle Earth reborn. Granted we continue to enjoy our technology, but that doesn't matter as much as our closeness to the natural world around us. It is the only rational way to live.

What you do mean, you'd rather slit your throat than move out to the sticks? Poor dear late-Piscean that you are, you must understand that a rural existence will not only get you close to natural patterns, it will speed up your vibrations so that you can experience ever higher states of consciousness. Your craving for urban thrills and chills is just another manifestation of your chemical toxicity. Land, lots of land under starry skies above is the only reality you should want. Besides, may I remind you that moving out to the sticks is what everyone started to do in the 21st century. In the years after the Upheaval, back to the farm, or at least the small town, everybody went, where they were overjoyed to discover that the old gray mare was exactly what she used to be and was delighted that ma and pa had come back home. The farm is where the human race has remained ever since. If and when people decide they want external employment, they still pursue it, but the farm or at least the backyard is where their real lives happen.

No, I don't want to hear that you're still about to throw up. Perhaps it would help if I tell you that what you knew as the human body is no longer existent in our era. In other words, we Aquarians aren't quite as solid as you Pisceans. Our vibrations have speeded up so much that like everything else in the Aquarian era, we are gradually turning transparent, just like the Daoist sages of antiquity. Are you aware that there were many old Daoists who could turn themselves into beings of light even while they were still in the "flesh"? Some of them like Liezi could even fly through the air and ride on the wind.

Well, millions of us are able to enjoy these kinds of aerial exploits nowadays. We are also proficient in many other kinds of Harry Potter techniques which only the tiniest minority could manage in previous centuries: shape-shifting, astral travel, vision quests, and the projection of energy with a wooden implement called a wand. Such skills weren't impossible fantasies--they were talents which anyone could acquire once their vibrations shifted to a higher level. However, nobody these days ever dreams about casting a manipulative spell or doing battle with a bad guy. And Hogwarts became a much more effective educational institution when courses in quantum physics, Daoism, and bodhicitta were added to the curriculum.

You might also be interested to hear that we Aquarians are sleeping less and less: two or three hours of sleep a night suffices for most of us. And we eat and drink only if we feel like it, since we no longer need to swallow "matter" to remain healthy. In your era dimwitted Newtonians were dreaming about future robots who would wash the dishes. That wasn't the future, not by any stretch of the imagination. We anticipate that by the end of the 22nd century, both beds and frying pans will become yet more antiques.

As for what you late-Pisceans considered to be the ultimate nastiness, the demise of your "physical" being, most of us these days are now able to transition into spirit without having to "die". We simply think ourselves out of our physical reality. We pick a time and place for our passing and then consciously transition into a higher velocity. Eventually I expect that everyone will be able to make this kind of transition, which means that the distinction you once knew between the quick and the dead will have no more meaning.

Our higher rates of vibration have also helped us to eliminate our last remaining inner demon