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Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I'm not much on jewelry, but I've seen this process in others; Grandma left a piece of jewelry with a really nice stone, a stone with clarity and history and value, but the setting was wrong. Either it was out of style, or damaged, or ruined by age, or just not appropriate to the style of its wearer or its new intended method of display; so that the stone's new owner, after much debate and decision, finds a new setting which preserves the beauty and the meaning of the stone, and obtains for himself (or herself) an item of deep meaning and power, which is both a reminder of Grandma and the re-embodied essence of her, and also a part of the new owner, part of a new self.

With my practice of zazen, the deep shining beauty of the essential practice is and will always be there, but at times the setting has become awkward, uncomfortable and embarrassing. As long as the ritual is silent, it is true, but once the mouths begin to flap, the meaning is lost. So I find myself seeking intuitive comfort, and a setting with more shine and natural-ness.

Sunday morning, after I posted my last blog entry, I went to a meeting with some Theravadan Buddhists, who practice Vipassana meditation. This group also has some resolute members, and they have a monk, a starved-looking American who has gone through the rigours and is quite authentic, in the meaning of the trade; I wanted to hear words which were true and qualified and deeply meant, as a setting for my meditation. It seems that Vipassana meditation is a lot like Zen, except that one takes the training wheels of Zen, the focus on the attention, on the wandering mind, and turns it into the whole practice. I think ultimately that has to fall away, and one is left with the same practice; how could you justify running on training wheels for fifty years? But with this monk, with some of these people, I felt that the practice was true, and I felt somewhat comforted.

Sunday afternoon I went to a healing circle for my friend Tanya; not the kind of event I would usually attend, but I wanted to be supportive, and this event featured a guy doing a Lakota healing ceremony of sorts, involving wrapping prayers in tobacco, then wrapping the tobacco in little flags, and then burning them. Joe didn't look like an Indian, but I guess he was; I guess I'm used to Southwestern Indians, where the blood is stronger. He was not the only one there; there was a woman there from whom I felt the real genuine nature of the American Indian, as I haven't since I left New Mexico in the early 'nineties. There was some other ritual enacted, some Reiki and some quiche; but I'd had the little taste of authenticity I'd come for. And hopefully it helped prepare my friend for the great unknown of the next few days or weeks.

The New Age in American has grown weaker as the times grow tougher and I know why. Most of today's New Agers have their roots in the affluence and experimentation of the 'sixties, and for the younger ones, its legacy. Between about 1965 and 1983 (when AIDS rang the death knell of a culture), as the world opened wide and people had the means to explore it, all sorts of rituals and guises of spirituality flowed into America and the West. Some of it was brought by true teachers -- the Zen masters like Suzuki in San Francisco; Soyu Matsuoka, the teacher of my teacher in Zen; Nishijima who stayed in Japan, but sent his disciples around the world, all teachers who were attempting to purify the Zen practice which has grown stagnant and false in the lands of its gestation and needed rebirth in the untainted (by Buddhism!) beings of the West.
Most of what came was fake, and false: those who taught enlightenment by drugs, which could kick the door open but provide no context, and left so many staring into the abyss for all time; proselytizer of every cult and delusion that had run out of naive Eastern minds, and found a new market here.

For the New Age was for the most part an age of sham. It flourished in a culture detached from its roots, desperately seeking meaning in an age of unprecedented materialism. And the worst part was, the culture of the West had always been a false culture, as had the culture of Western Europe for a thousand years before. For a thousand years, Western Man has been ground beneath the dogma of the Desert Religions, the unholy trinity of Judaism, Christianity and Islam., which are not natural to him or to his culture. When I look at the history of a thousand years of darkness, I see the real soul of Western man striving to break free. Within Christianity alone, which has ground more under its cloven hooves than any other, I've seen the attempts at freedom which were suppressed as heresies by the Church and its inquisitions, I've seen the striving for direct knowledge for God which resulted in the Christianity of the Grail, after Pope Nicholas in the ninth century denied the reality of the individual human Spirit; and the latter day attempts at Reformation, which lacking context, resulted in more suppression, this time of each man by himself.

All dead and all hopeless, because the raising of a desert tribal god into monolithic, megalomaniac monotheism, had infested the Western world and part of the East like a deadly virus. How different would the World have been without Constantine? We'll never know.

The World Culture has failed, and as times get hard, each of us looks naturally to his roots. For many of us it's family. As the World overpopulates itself to death, the West has been outdone; most of the earth's babies are being born in the places and to the people least able to feed and support them, much less provide them with a level of culture adequate to give their lives meaning. I'm not much for children, and until recently I'd looked on the attempts of even those in modern society whom I'd call my friends, to keep spewing out children in the face of certain disaster, as naive and selfish. I don't think those children will have good lives, in the way that their parents did. But now, as the cultures break down, as the tide of affluence recedes, I can see the production of those children as a means of self-defense in a World which is eating Western man alive.

If you don't see it for yourself, let me just tell you: things are getting harder, and they're going to get worse. As they do, people are going to withdraw into their tribes. Those who see the apparently unavoidable election of Barack Obama as some sort of victory of polyculture will be disappointed; he is, I think, the last gasp of the same, and its high-water mark. The United States, which was in my childhood a largely heterogeneous culture, has become a cultural mix; we all know that. Sadly, most of the alternative cultures which have taken root here are cheapened, demented and depraved versions of more hearty cultures elsewhere. It was always known, in my youth, that to know Mexico, you had to go a lot further south than Tijuana, unless you wanted to see a people at its most tawdry. It is the latter which has made itself at home in our streets. The culture of the American Black, which in its blending of its African roots with the bounty of America, both the land and its heritage, gave us jazz and rock and roll and so many other great things, now has fallen into the hands of vultures and gives us rap (music for those who hate music) and violence. It reminds me of what I saw in the Southwest in places where the Native American culture had been destroyed and replaced with nothing -- nothing left but the saddest, lowest remnants of the conquering culture, with only the lowest elements assimilated.

Sadly, in modern America, it is the remnant culture, the debased version of the cultures which held proud sway in other places and times, that has become dominant. Appropriate I guess, in the End Times, but not so if one would survive, or at least go down with pride.

The hope, here? The setting for the stone. I can only answer for myself. I do believe at this point, that there is culture in the blood, if one looks for it. At the Lakota ritual, I could feel the vague twinging of my own, thin strain of Cherokee blood; I think I am about one-sixteenth, not enough to really count -- I had one Cherokee great-great-grandmother, I'm told. How much stronger now, is the calling of my true blood, the dominant blood, which is German and English, with a bit of Scotch-Irish --all Germanic and Celtic.

And the Germanic tribes did have a culture, a legacy, of their own. Modern propaganda, fostered by the adherents of the Desert Religions, will tell you that Western Man has no culture and pride of his own, but they are wrong. There were religions and cultures in Northern Europe long before the fanatics came. By the ninth century, the warriors of Rome and of the legacy of Charlemagne all but destroyed the native cultures of the northern lands, and planted there the unnatural crop of Christianity. The Cross all but buried the Hammer. But the Hammer has been reborn.

It seems to me at this point that the true legacy of Germanic man, the heirs of the Teutonic tribes and the Aryans, has been entrusted to the "new" faith of Asatru. More on that later. I am just learning of my own native culture, but each thing I learn comes with a new feeling of relief, a realization of ancestral memory. I have been a Zen Buddhist and I still am, but its style never fitted my personality; I can see myself in the behaviors of the Norse gods much more than I ever could in the meek and ego-denying traditions of the East. Those traditions are very true, for those people, and the traditions of my people are very true for me.

I've been attempting to reconcile elements of my self for my whole life, the more so since I found this practice of zazen, which enables me to see everything clearly. Now at long last, I can say that before the end I've recovered my identity, my ancestral true nature. Not emptiness, but fullness, of a kind that's been denied.

I am just beginning this new phase of my journey. It seems quite likely that I will keep you informed. Be patient, I am learning, too. The only advice I can offer is this: find what's true for you, and people whose goals are true to yours. For all the false alliances of comfort, all the superficial associations are breaking down. There will no longer be one nation here, but many -- there may be one totalitarian government for as long as it lasts, when and if the strongman comes; that I can't foresee, and don't want to, that endless boot stamping on the human face. But I do know that the cultures, the real nations, soon will be fragmented and many.

The New Age is over, and the New Order is here. Choose your tribe carefully.

It's in the blood.


Anonymous said...

I think that you have hit on something. I have noticed it among my own org. over the last 10 years plus. Its not anger - its something else. That one wants to tell the desert religions to get stuffed. One of the very few Mommy feelings in me always wants to tell them ," Just look at this mess that you have made. Go clean up your world before dinner. " Its not that I object to them going to Hell ( theirs not mine) in a handbasket but I don't get in handbaskets with strangers. And I do not have to help them clean up their mess. They are all crazy.
You are right- it can be slowed down some but its too late to stop it altogether.

Anonymous said...

You are so smart. You amaze me. Another intelligent post, though you already know we don't agree on some things.

Since I am a Christian (of note, an Asatru-er always told me to be sure to speak up about that and 'be it' proudly (his phrasing) haha), I don't think it's the teachings that have caused any problems ... oftentimes, in my opinion, it's just plain ole humans who screw things up ... namely, fear, and what people do with a path. This is why I think it is really good that you are exploring in an anthropological sort of way, all the world religions right now. It will only serve you and you will grow because of it. And, as we have discussed before, this type exploration deepens your own spiritual root.

I appreciate your being at the Lakota healing circle. Those leading are in fact more Cherokee than you are, but have studied the Lakota ways ... much of the Cherokee tradition has been lost, and so it is interesting that the Cherokee take from other tribes in this way. You know you are not the only one who has an anthropological bent!

I do agree that it is the end of times, but NOT in the way you mean it - or at least the way I think you mean it. I think it is the end of times as we currently know them, not the end of the world. Things are rearranging in many ways right now, finding a new balance, structure, and I believe in a few years that things will be in a much better place (say 10 years), with different views on values and a rearrangement of what we place value on. "Things" will show themselves to no longer be so important. It will be a time of learning, getting back to basics, and people coming together instead of separating themselves.

We hippie types are accustomed to tougher times, but the younger ones will have a harder time with it. I actually think it is a good time to be alive -- we are heading to a better place and healing. That's according to me and no one else - just my opinion. A shift, if you will.

Thanks for sharing your journey. I can't wait to see all that comes for you while you walk these different paths. I think it is a good thing and encourage you - You will learn so much -- about other paths and also about yourself.

Who would have ever thought I would know not one, but two, Asatru-ers - most have never even heard of it! Not to mention, I come from a Viking heritage - we were swordmakers!

Accordingly: Ves heill! :) Tanya