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Archive for the ‘Philosophy/Metaphysics’ Category

Life beyond death

Friday, October 6th, 2006

Mellen-Thomas Benedict

“Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to believe in the unknowable. But there it sits, nevertheless, calmly licking its chops.”
H L Mencken

In the last two weeks, 2 separate people from quite different communities both sent me the link to Mellen-Thomas Benedict’s account of his near death experience. In these challenging times, this is something which deserves as much publicity as it can get for the vision it offers of what lies beyond the consciousness of our present lives on Earth. It was wonderful to be reminded of it again.

Journey Through the Light and Back
Mellen-Thomas Benedict’s Near Death Experience

“In 1982 I died from terminal cancer. The condition I had was inoperable, and any kind of chemotherapy they could give me would just have made me more of a vegetable. I was given six to eight months to live. I had been an information freak in the1970’s, and I had become increasingly despondent over the nuclear crisis, the ecology crisis, and so forth. So, since I did not have a spiritual basis, I began to believe that nature had made a mistake, and that we were probably a cancerous organism on the planet. I saw no way that we could get out from all the problems we had created for ourselves and the planet. I perceived all humans as cancer, and that is what I got. That is what killed me. Be careful what your world view is. It can feed back on you, especially if it is a negative world view. I had a seriously negative one. That is what led me into my death. I tried all sorts of alternative healing methods, but nothing helped.”

Read on >>

Erisian fields

Sunday, September 17th, 2006


Suggested glyph for Eris

A suggested glyph for Eris

“Quantum physicists at the best institutions agree that the tiniest particles making up matter itself have ceased to behave with the predictability of linear equations. Instead, they jump around in a discontinuous fashion, disappearing, reappearing, suddenly gaining and losing energy.”
Douglas Rushkoff

Finally 2003 UB313 has a name!

Eris, and her moon Dysnomia, were announced to the world by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) on September 13th after an unprecedented 13½ months of discordant deliberation. Eris is the Greek goddess of strife and discord (Roman equivalent Discordia) and Dysnomia (‘lawlessness’) is one of her many daughters, her name also referring to the condition of being unable to name things. Discoverers Mike Brown, Chad Trujillo and David Rabinowitz, who suggested the names to the IAU, can clearly see the joke! Eris, under her Roman name of Discordia, even appeared in an episode of Xena, Warrior Princess, the more irreverent codename given to the new planet by her discoverers in advance of her official recognition.

As might be expected, astrological circles have been buzzing. Disappointingly, much of the comment seems to be focussing on the apparently malefic aspect of Eris and her Golden Apple of Discord, who are generally blamed for the start of the Trojan War. Yet astrological archetypes are what they are, and of themselves are neither positive nor negative. Whether they manifest as a positive or negative influence has more to do with individual context and how the energies are handled. So it seems pertinent to look at Eris in a more balanced light. And given her place in the outer reaches of the solar system, we can already predict that she will be deep, chaotic, and have to do with far more fundamental aspects of the human psyche than the personal planets close to the Sun.


The following comments are notes of thoughts arising from a closer look at the mythical character of Eris, combined with a direct apprehension of her energies. It should be emphasised that what the dwarf planet signifies in charts has yet to be determined in practice.

The story goes that Eris, alone among the Olympians, was excluded from the forced wedding of Peleus and Thetis because of her troublemaking inclinations. She therefore tossed into the party the Apple of Discord, a golden apple inscribed Kallisti – “For the most beautiful one”, or “To the Prettiest One” – provoking Hera, Athena and Aphrodite to begin quarreling about the appropriate recipient. Paris, Prince of Troy, was appointed to select the most beautiful. Each of the three goddesses immediately attempted to bribe him to choose her. Hera offered political power; Athena promised skill in battle; and Aphrodite tempted him with the most beautiful woman in the world: Helen, wife of Menelaus of Sparta. While Greek culture placed a greater emphasis on prowess and power, Paris choose to award the apple to Aphrodite, thereby dooming his city, which was destroyed in the war that ensued when the Spartans demanded the return of their queen.

DIS-CORD (lit. hearts apart) is about breaking the ties of conditioning, the ties that bind us societally and culturally as well as individually. It’s about the challenge to think for ourselves and to real-ise our deeper “truer” natures (which are embedded in chaos to a far greater extent than we take them for). It’s about creating the dissonances in belief systems that shake them at their foundations and wake people up. No guru, no teacher, no method stuff, though kind of Zen in many ways.



Appropriate then, that Eris was not invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. The right to self-determination is excluded in a forced marriage. This aspect of Eris also gives us a common theme with her previous incarnation of Xena, the latter now seeming much more of a two-dimensional character – a kind of female Mars/Ares, too ego-based (which Eris is not) in comparison to the vast depth and potential inherent in Eris.

Discord is also the discordant notes which are just so much more dynamic, so much more sublime, than the purest of regular harmonies (think Bruckner, Tavener, Bulgarian folk singers). They’re scrunchy – they rub you up in all sorts of interesting ways and send shivers down your spine – and this is more in the nature of Eris’s discord and strife than our purely dualistic unidimensional conception of man-pitted-against-man, though inevitably there are shades of that too.

Eris might have been instrumental in precipitating the Trojan War, but did she really cause it? What caused the immediate problem was the reaction of the participants to Eris’s apple, reactions for which they were responsible, not Eris. Were it not for the goddesses falling prey to greed, vanity and jealousy – arguably far greater vices than a bit of spoon-stirring – no trouble would have ensued. But ultimately the responsibility could be seen to lie with Zeus and Poseidon who forced the marriage of Peleus and Thetis, because they did not respect the right to self-determination, being interested only in the prophecy that Thetis’ son (Achilles) would become mightier than his father. In this context, Eris begins to look far more like a scapegoat than a prima facie principal cause.

Similarly, discord, differences of opinion, are not of themselves problematic. What creates the problem is the idea that only one person can be “right”, so Eris can be seen to be constantly challenging this perceived need for uniformity of outlook, the hegemony of the established order, and the tyranny and preciousness of the ego along with it. She invites us to go beyond such superficial concerns to a deeper, more fundamental, more authentic level of reality. She invites us into the darkly chaotic.

There is an enormous amount of fun in this energy. It’s very irreverent. Self-confident. Doesn’t give a toss for authority or rules (particularly in the company of Dysnomia). Anarchic. Chaotic. Rooted in paradox. Throws the spotlight on Borges’ “eternal intervals of illogicalness” (left). Loves to disturb people’s cosy illusions and throw them things from way left of field, challenging dogma and habit and undermining serious certitude. A more fundamental cousin of Trickster, with no mentalised clever-cleverness, reasoning or structure. Carpe Diem. Everything’s up for grabs. Messes with people’s fixed perceptions and pulls the rug out from under their feet. Throws a spanner in the works, or perhaps the odd golden apple. Stomps all over delicate sensibilities, particularly the more tyrannical ones, with glee. Shades of John Lydon (aka Johnny Rotten) “all confusion is confident …”

It’s significant that Eris is in Aries because this process is just beginning. Eris entered Aries on April 28 1923 and will leave it for the last time on March 10 2048. [All dates from Jonathan Dunn’s ephemeris.] In 2012, Eris will be moving to and fro between 21° and 22° degrees Aries. The Sabian symbols (Rudhyar keynotes) for those degrees are respectively “The gate to the garden of all fulfilled desires.” Keynote: Abundance made possible by human togetherness and cooperation, and “A pregnant woman in light summer dress.” Keynote: Fecundity (Fertility/Productive) inner fulfillment. However, the Sabian for 20° Aries, which is where the planet is backing into right now and will enter next Thursday – and will be backing into repeatedly between now and Feb 8 2010 when it finally leaves 20° behind – is “A pugilist enters the ring.” Keynote: The release and glorification of social aggressiveness. Eris’s proximity to 20° Aries on the day of its announcement is highly amusing in view of the predominantly pugilistic interpretation currently being made of its energies!

Eris was also at 20° Aries until August 30 2001, when it backed into 19° Aries, Sabian “A young girl feeding birds in winter.” Keynote: Overcoming crises through compassion. Note that the Sabian for 21° Aries – abundance through togetherness and cooperation – needs to be seen in the sense of a group of individuals all thinking for themselves and cooperating out of a sense of mutual respect and shared goals, NOT in the sense of sharing some dogma and being bound by its rules.

Eris’s number is 5. (An apple sliced crosswise has a 5-pointed star at its core.) She has a strong resonance with 5th house matters – creative self-expression, the senses, pleasure and entertainment, games and play, adventure, exploration, knowledge-seeking – and, in common with the Sun, the hitherto sole ruler of the 5th house, also has to do with self-determination. She is the flip side of the coin that is Geburah, severity, the 5th sephirah within the Qabbalistic Tree of Life. Yet she is also strength, another designation given to Geburah. Note that briga, the old Celtic word for strife, derives from brig, strength, and that brigands were bands of outlaws bringing chaos wherever they went. Eris gets us comfortable with chaos and introduces us to the sheer fun of it all.

A delightfully irreverent expression of Erisian energy is found in Discordianism, a religion founded in the late 1950s and dedicated to Eris. “It has been described as both an elaborate joke disguised as a religion, and as a religion disguised as an elaborate joke. Some of its followers make the claim that it is “a religion disguised as a joke disguised as a religion” (or “a joke disguised as a religion disguised as a joke disguised as…”). It can be viewed as a simple rejection of reductionism and dualism, even falsifiability – not in concept different from postmodernism or certain trends in the philosophy of mathematics. It has also been described as “Zen for roundeyes,” and converges with some of the more absurdist interpretations of the Rinzai school.”

“GREATER POOP: Is Eris true?
MALACLYPSE THE YOUNGER: Everything is true.
GP: Even false things?
M2: Even false things are true.
GP: How can that be?
M2: I don’t know man, I didn’t do it.”
Discordian koan, from Principia Discordia

The web of life

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

“In the Garden of gentle sanity may you be bombarded by coconuts of wakefulness.”
Chogyam Trungpa

brief introduction to the Santiago theory of cognition by Fritjof Capra in Resurgence Magazine. First proposed by Gregory Bateson and elaborated by Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela, this theory overturns the militaristic analogies so often applied to the functioning and purpose of our immune systems and introduces a far more intelligent (in all ways) description of our functioning which supports the theories and practices of holistic medical therapies.

And, on the other side of the coin, for anyone seriously concerned about the Orwellian future our legislatures seem hell-bent on taking us into, here is a site which lists the present intiatives underway in the UK in respect of our children.

Thoughts from outside the box

Saturday, May 20th, 2006
Eduardo Galeano

Eduardo Galeano

“Today we are faced with a challenge that calls for a shift in our thinking, so that humanity stops threatening its life-support system. We are called to assist the Earth to heal her wounds and in the process heal our own.”
Wangari Maathai – Winner of the Nobel Prize for Peace 2004

Another excellent interview by journalist Amy Goodman for Democracy Now featuring Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano.

Some excerpts:

On immigration: “t’s a sad story. A daily sad story. I wonder if our time will be remembered as a period, a terrible period in human history, in which money was free to go and come and come back and go again. But people, not.”

On recent developments in Latin America: “… I think that all these recent events, elections won by progressive forces and a lot of different movings, is like something that’s moving on and expressing a need, a will of change, but we are carrying a very heavy burden on our backs, which is what I call “the traditional culture of impotence,” which is something condemning you, dooming you to be eternally crippled, because there is a cultural saying and repeating, “You can’t.” You can’t walk with your own legs. You are not able to think with your own head. You cannot feel with your own heart, and so you’re obliged to buy legs, heart, mind, outside as import products. This is our worst enemy, I think.”

On the terrorist threat: “… I think it’s true when President Bush tells us each day that we are suffering the high risks of being attacked by terrorism. It’s true. And terrorism made the Iraq war, and they perhaps may — today or tomorrow, I don’t know — invade some Latin American country. It’s a tradition of the terrorist, imperialist power in the world. Who knows? We are not safe. You are not safe. Nobody is safe from a possible attack from this machine of war, this big structure we have built — they have built, in a global dimension. This $2,600 million spent each day to kill other people, this machine of killing peoples, devouring the world resources, eating the world resources each day. So this is a terrorist structure indeed, and we are in danger, so President Bush is right, I think. We are suffering a terrorist menace.”


Wednesday, May 3rd, 2006

“Visionaries of a new holistic and ecological paradigm are themselves deemed to be neurotic. They have moved out of the society that would have protected them, and into the dark forest, into the world of fire, of original experience. Original experience has not been interpreted for you, and so you have got to work out your life for yourself. Either you can take it or you can’t. You don’t have to go far off the interpreted path to find yourself in very difficult situations. The courage to face the trials and to bring a whole new body of possibilities into the field of interpreted experience for other people to experience – that is the hero’s deed.”
Joseph Campbell, ‘The Power of Myth’

Have put up a new Article of the Moment today, an essay titled “Beyond Hope” by Derrick Jensen in this month’s Orion Magazine. Here’s a quote:

“A wonderful thing happens when you give up on hope, which is that you realize you never needed it in the first place. You realize that giving up on hope didn’t kill you. It didn’t even make you less effective. In fact it made you more effective, because you ceased relying on someone or something else to solve your problems – you ceased hoping your problems would somehow get solved through the magical assistance of God, the Great Mother, the Sierra Club, valiant tree-sitters, brave salmon, or even the Earth itself – and you just began doing whatever it takes to solve those problems yourself.

“When you give up on hope, something even better happens than it not killing you, which is that in some sense it does kill you. You die. And there’s a wonderful thing about being dead, which is that they – those in power – cannot really touch you anymore. Not through promises, not through threats, not through violence itself. Once you’re dead in this way, you can still sing, you can still dance, you can still make love, you can still fight like hell – you can still live because you are still alive, more alive in fact than ever before. You come to realize that when hope died, the you who died with the hope was not you, but was the you who depended on those who exploit you, the you who believed that those who exploit you will somehow stop on their own, the you who believed in the mythologies propagated by those who exploit you in order to facilitate that exploitation. The socially constructed you died. The civilized you died. The manufactured, fabricated, stamped, molded you died. The victim died.

“And who is left when that you dies? You are left. Animal you. Naked you. Vulnerable (and invulnerable) you. Mortal you. Survivor you. The you who thinks not what the culture taught you to think but what you think. The you who feels not what the culture taught you to feel but what you feel. The you who is not who the culture taught you to be but who you are. The you who can say yes, the you who can say no. The you who is a part of the land where you live. The you who will fight (or not) to defend your family. The you who will fight (or not) to defend those you love. The you who will fight (or not) to defend the land upon which your life and the lives of those you love depends. The you whose morality is not based on what you have been taught by the culture that is killing the planet, killing you, but on your own animal feelings of love and connection to your family, your friends, your landbase – not to your family as self-identified civilized beings but as animals who require a landbase, animals who are being killed by chemicals, animals who have been formed and deformed to fit the needs of the culture.”

This dovetails very nicely with the principles underlying the last entry here (emphasising a relativistic philosophical perspective being underlined by the current proving). Once again it’s about finding each individual’s own inategenius, a word with connotations so rarified and exceptional that we’ve now come to disassociate the majority of humanity from anything to do with it. Yet its origins reveal a different sense.The English word derives from the Latingenius “guardian deity or spirit which watches over each person from birth; spirit, incarnation, wit, talent,” or better “procreative divinity, inborn tutelary spirit, innate quality”, from root of gignere “beget, produce”, from the Proto-Indo-European base gen- “produce”. Meaning “person of natural intelligence or talent” first recorded 1649 (Online Etymological Dictionary).

So in its original meaning, “genius” is basically an expression of the natural unconditioned essential self which is how the 19th century German homeopath Baron Clemens von Bönninghausen used the term when referring to the fundamental characteristic nature of a substance; the genius of a remedy.

“A child born today in the United Kingdom stands a ten times greater chance of being admitted to a mental hospital than to a university … This can be taken as an indication that we are driving our children mad more effectively than we are genuinely educating them. Perhaps it is our way of educating them that is driving them mad.”
R D Laing, ‘The Politics of Experience’, 1970

Thanks to the current insanity revolving around homeopathy in this country, in both media and blogosphere, it's become necessary to insult your intelligence by explicitly drawing your attention to the obvious fact that any views or advice in this weblog/website are, unless stated otherwise, the opinions of the author alone and should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice or treatment. If you choose to take anything from here that might be construed as advice, you do so entirely under your own recognisance and responsibility.

smeddum.net - Blog: Confessions of a Serial Prover. Weblog on homeopathy, health and related subjects by homeopathic practitioner Wendy Howard