Today I write on the longest day of the year, the summer solstice. As someone who has been influenced by not a few pagan practitioners and Wiccan wonder workers, along with more conventional priests and monks of various religious varieties, I am attuned to the turning of our planet in the cosmos. Striving to be rational, I nevertheless carry a torch for the romance of astrology that informed my youth, and still celebrate the joys of shamanic practice, divination, chant, and just all around cosmic grooviness. No matter how much I am persuaded to be a child of the enlightenment, in my heart of hearts I remain a child of the occult revival of the 1960s, and secretly believe deep down that everybody must get stoned. Not literally, anymore, in my case. Recovery from alcoholism has necessarily shut that door of perception for the past twenty five years, but it can never be completely closed once opened, and there are other ways and means.
As the Sun achieves the zenith of its yearly potency on this 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, my hippie yippie soul rejoices in its pagan glory and, rational or not, I feel today a deep connection with the music of the spheres. In spite of political and cultural chaos, I feel an urge to abandon news analysis, reflections on the SCROTUS1’s continuing rise to power (that demonic distortion of orange sunshine has not yet set and the wheel’s still in spin), worries for the planet’s future, fear for the poor and imprisoned among us, and despair for humanity and all of nature. Instead, I long to embrace the comforts of darkness, mystery, faith, and contemplation, the cloud of unknowing, the womb of the Goddess, Night and Cosmos and Holy Chaos (Sacred Chao!). This state of mind tends to produce long sentences. So be it. (Or, if you prefer, so mote it be.)
I know what Dr. Freud would say. (Or do I?) This longing for the night, for escape from the light in favor of the darkness, is an immature rejection of rationalism and responsible humanity, a fear driven denial of reality. It is a longing for illusion, for escape from the misery of adult life and a return to the polymorphous perversity of infancy.
I am more aligned with Dr. Jung.
When it comes to the delicious embrace of the irrational, polymorphous perversity sounds fine to me. Yummy yum yum.
That is today, under the influence of our Solar Star, on this summer solstice. Tomorrow, perhaps, I’ll close the Book of Tarot and return to the New York Times.
In celebration of summer, I bring you no commentary on the daily news cycle, nor a description of my mundane life with Klopnick, nor a controlled essay intended to make a logical point. Instead, I share with you a record of an inner journey, achieved through an act of imagination, by means of a ritual procedure and the accompaniment of the steady beat of a drum, in which I travel to a “lower world” beneath the sea and encounter an Avatar of the Sun.
And, a caveat: Although I call this “shamanic” journeying, that is merely a literary term here and has nothing to do with actual shamanic work by indigenous healers. I have no knowledge of that. This work is a literary creation, solely, and not intended as cultural appropriation. It’s made up, like a fantasy novel. And so we go.
Can you hear the beat of the drum? I lie on my back, listening, a blindfold over my eyes to ensure darkness, breathing to the beat. And it begins…
“My Journey to the Sun”
I call She-La (a wolf) and Catman (a cat-man), my helpers, who are very happy to see me. We meet on the shore at Lone Tree Point on San Francisco Bay. A little ways out on the Bay is a derelict tug boat, and we swim to it. We climb aboard and enter the cabin. It is dark and smells salty and fishy. There are some mildewy old clothes lying about, a few tools. There are building materials, bits of rotting wood, rusty nuts and bolts. Everything lists as the tug boat is by no means up right. We make our way down a few steps and find a trap door in the bottom of the boat. Pulling it open, we find ourselves falling out and down into the bay. We swim towards the bottom. This is a non-ordinary world, so breathing is not a problem.
Gradually I realize that the water is gone and we are floating in black space. I sense land beneath us and with that thought we float down to it. It is dark, but there is the beginning of light rising in the East. We are standing on the edge of a vast meadow, extending as as far as we can see. We face the sunrise as the light increases. The temperature is perfect and the cloudless blue sky is amazing. I am naked, by the way, but there seems to be no special significance to that fact except to remind me that I am an animal among animals. And there are many of us scattered about the meadow and in the sky, too. Birds, and insects, mammals and lizards, some humans, and also I sense a not-too-distant sea teeming with marine life.
As the sun clears the horizon, a figure appears out of the light, walking towards us. He/she/they is/are a powerful warrior. It is difficult to see their form; they are the image of every type of warrior, including spiritual warriors and “warriors” of non-violence. I see at once a modern soldier and an ancient knight, a hunter with bow and arrow, a horseman, a saint, holy men and holy woman, all in this single figure. They move towards us. I think of Arjuna’s famously overwhelming vision of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. With that thought the figure a suddenly seems smaller and gradually shrinks to a dwarf-like stature before sitting on a rock and turning to me.
“What is your question” they ask.
“Are you the Sun?”
“I am the Sun!” they reply. “As are you! Can you detect where the Sun has a boundary? It radiates to you and beyond. We are all in the Sun. But I dwell much closer to the Center.”
I ask him if they have anything for me, and they give me a piece of charcoal. They explain: “This appears dark, small and weak, but in it, as in you, is all the power of the Sun. It has more power within than you imagine. Like yourself.”
Then they flicker like the light of candle and disappear, a flame blown out.
We suddenly sense ourselves full of power and all our thoughts begin to manifest. We imagine a lake and go for a swim. I imagine a mountain summit and there we are. I imagine all my friends are there with us. Parties, travel, adventures, joyful encounters, victories, poetry—it is all there, instantaneously, just with a thought. So much fun!
Then, suddenly it is dark and we begin to fall towards a black sky and then we are underwater again and swimming towards a surface. The drum is calling us home. We spy a ladder in the water and begin to climb up through the trap door into the tugboat, on to the deck, and we are back in the Bay by Lone Point and we swim ashore.
And so this message from the Sun: We are more powerful than we think. We can make the world we envision. We must.
The wheel’s still in spin, and The Donald remains in power, and he’s one evil fuck, but the sun will set and the sun will rise and we can make a new world.
So mote it be.
1. So-Called Ruler of the United States↩
Rumpus original logo by James Lorenzato, aka Argyle C. Klopnick (ACK!).
“The Storming Bohemian Punks the Muse” was originally developed as a column under the editorship of Evan Karp at Litseen. An earlier incarnation of this work can be found there, along with many other interesting things.