Thursday, June 15, 2017


Fiesta Flowers, Wind Poppies, Chinese Purple Houses 
near Burned Trees

     The Rough Fire, which left nothing but charred earth and vegetation throughout a large region of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, halted on the east side of the narrow road above the North Fork of the Kings River. When I traveled to the Kings River a few days after fire crews had extinguished the inferno, the hillsides were so blackened that I couldn’t help but believe that fire had blotted out the entire region forever. The blaze had reduced the best part of my childhood to ashes: I had spent many happy hours by the river, fishing with my family, but that day much of the ecosystem of my memory was entirely blacked out. As I stepped out of my car to search for any sign of life, I felt like I was going to vomit due to the smoke that still hung in the air, so, discouraged, I drove home. I returned in spring, months later, and discovered that most of the oaks had miraculously survived, the hillsides glowing with wildflowers. Fire had regenerated the region, the earth bearing the most stunning profusion of flowers that I have ever witnessed there.

Ithuriel's Spears and Lupine after the Rough Fire

     When I began meditating in my early forties, I could see in my mind’s eye that Illness and betrayal and ruination over the years had blackened my aura, but I eventually released the negative energies in a process of mental purification, and a miracle occurred: I became a new man who recognized light in all things. My creativity blossomed through music and art and writing. I began to experience a spiritual dimension that I had never believed in before. My circumscribed personality vanished, and I identified more through my imagination with the soul of the earth and its countless manifestations. And now I know this in my core: Regeneration is possible on all levels of being—though it may be the hardest process a person ever experiences because it entails the death of an old self and the birth of a new one. Regeneration recurs in the evolution of the soul, allowing the soul to spiral higher and wider: When it occurs again, if my past is any indication, I will become even larger, more sympathetic, more imaginative, more creative than I was before. I will be even more in tune with the energies of the cosmos.

Lupine and Poppies after the Fire

     I had a dream recently in which I had climbed a flight of stairs, and when I reached the top, I turned around and encountered a double of myself directly behind me, dressed in black clothes with a dark blue sheen. I felt so terrified that I whipped around and pushed my double over the railing. When I peeked over the side, I didn’t see my double at the bottom, but I heard groaning and cries for help and realized that the sounds were coming out of my own mouth as I stood at the top of the stairs. Nobody came to help me, perhaps because my double below was invisible, and my cries became fainter and fainter. Just as I recognized that I was dying, I woke up. As I contemplated the dream, I understood that I had pushed my etheric double over the edge because I was too afraid to deal with the black energies that had accumulated in my aura from my disease and related personal woes. I couldn’t see my etheric double on the floor below because it had again become invisible to me: I had focused so much on climbing higher that I had ignored the health of my etheric body. It had only showed itself to me in the dream as a warning about the extent of my disease, but I was in so much denial that I panicked and pushed it away, which in the dream resulted in the destruction of my physical body as well, for the etheric body is the foundation of the physical body.

Wind Poppies after the Fire

     Recently I had become so busy with work and so fatigued by my disease that I had ignored my spiritual practices. I still performed the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram at night before retiring, but I was no longer meditating or performing my Tarot Pentagram Spread rituals; instead, I was taking a two hour nap every afternoon after work. As my dream suggested, I had allowed negative energies to swamp my etheric body, and I was suffering the consequences: I was again experiencing mild Afib without any discernable cause. I was feeling pain in my esophagus from inflammation, which worried me because inflammation from gluten can lead to gastrointestinal cancers of the esophagus and the small intestine. Inflammation caused by gluten also damages the villi, the small, finger-like extensions that line the small intestine. The villi flatten out and no longer effectively absorb nutrients. Eventually, other health problems associated with inflammation and poor nutrient absorption include iron and vitamin deficiencies, low bone mineral density, skin rashes, defects in the enamel of the teeth, chronic fatigue, joint pain, and depression, among other things. Unfortunately for me, the most miniscule amount of gluten in my system causes inflammation and makes my heart go haywire. I cannot allow any gluten in my diet whatsoever, but removing it entirely is damn near impossible because gluten is so pervasive, and I can’t examine each bit of food under a microscope.

Bird's Eye Gilia, Lupine, and Poppies after the Fire

     This summer I have begun to perform the Supreme Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram every day again for the purpose of invoking elemental energies to heal my etheric body. During the climax of the first ritual, I saw, in my mind’s eye, my etheric double behind me again, this time without the black clothes. As a body of light, it joined with my physical body. The next day I felt better, and the Afib had all but disappeared. During the next ritual, I had a clear vision of myself with a golden crown on my head and a golden, equal-armed cross over my heart. I was sitting in front of a table with a brilliant white tablecloth, on which rested a golden plate and chalice, a full moon floating above the tablecloth as if the edge of the table were the horizon. The vision was so powerful that I decided during the ritual that my mission is to show humanity the magnificence, harmony and abundance within each soul, but I soon had second thoughts after the ritual due to the sheer magnitude of the undertaking.
     The next day during the ritual, I invoked the Archangels of the Elements again and asked them to regenerate my etheric body with their elemental powers. I also asked what sacrifice I needed to make in order to serve them for the highest good. Again, I
Indian Pinks after Fire
envisioned the golden crown and equal-armed cross, the golden plate and chalice on the white tablecloth, with the full moon floating just above the edge of the table, but I also envisioned above me a brilliant white sun with a black Calvary Cross in its center. The Calvary Cross, on one level, is an unfolded cube of space and time, a symbol of sacrifice and regeneration, of crucifixion and redemption, of the death of the lower personality and the birth of the higher self. In my vision, the moon, always waxing and waning, represents the soul on which the Sun of Tiphareth, the Christ center, shines. During the ritual, in that deep state of meditation, my personality vanished: I was Everyman and Everywoman—in front of me a banquet of abundance, on my head a crown representing magnificence and in my heart the equal-armed cross of harmony.
     The next day during my ritual, I had the same vision of the golden symbols, the white tablecloth, the moon, and the sun with the black Calvary Cross. I asked Archangel Michael to reveal my sacrifice, and the black cross suddenly fell from the sun into my body. I intuited that I must take the blackness from people who had harmed me, or from those whom I had harmed, their negative energy in the form of a black cross entering my heart chakra. I envisioned a particularly problematic individual from my past and took the black cross containing all the negativity he felt for me into my heart, and then after a while I let it fall out of my aura, down into the magma below the earth, where it burned up. Then I intuited that I should fill that person with light. When I did so, suddenly a golden crown appeared on his head, a golden equal-armed cross over his heart, a golden plate and chalice on a white tablecloth before him. Then I imagined pink energy filling his aura, pink being the color on the Tree of Life corresponding to the highest spiritual love.  Then I envisioned another prickly individual, and I performed the same cleansing ritual in my mind. I recognized an important facet of regeneration: In order to cleanse myself completely, I needed to cleanse each person who harbored negativity for me as well, taking his or her blackness into myself as a sacrifice and then releasing it, an act that freed us both and revealed the magnificence, harmony and abundance in the human soul.

Wind Poppies, Chinese Purple Houses, Tarweed after Fire

     This vision occurred on an archetypal level, a level deeper than the personality, in the state of being represented on the Tree of Life as Yesod, the Foundation. Just above Malkuth, the physical universe, on the Tree of Life, Yesod is the Sephira of etheric energy and The Holy Ghost. During meditation, if you can go deeper than the personality and its personal subconscious content, you can encounter transpersonal symbols that reveal spiritual principle. These symbols can swing you above Yesod across a gulf to the Sephira of the Sun known as Tiphareth (Beauty), a sphere of harmony and healing and spiritual inebriation. On the Tree of Life, one symbol representing Tiphareth is a sun with a black Calvary Cross in the center. The Calvary Cross on one level represents the sacrifices needed to establish and maintain harmony within the self and the community and the world, but it also symbolizes death and regeneration, the death of the personality and the birth of the higher self. One spiritual experience assigned to Tiphareth is The Vision of Harmony, where you recognize that you are a thread in a vast tapestry of interwoven energy that includes all of life, including the earth and plants and animals and other people. The other spiritual experience assigned to Tiphareth is The Mysteries of Sacrifice, in which you recognize what is necessary to maintain harmony and regenerate the soul.

Lupine and Poppies after Fire

     I have experienced intense hatred for many people over the years, which, I realize now, has become a deeply ingrained spiritual problem responsible for at least some of the blackness in my aura. I could only become whole if I changed my hatred into love, recognizing that those people are magnificent spiritual beings who struggle in difficult situations, just like me. Unless they are psychic, of course, they will never realize that I forgave them and saw them as they are. However, it became clear to me that forgiveness on an archetypal level is a way beyond the negativity that plagues so many of our relationships. When I experienced it, I felt whole again as a spiritual being. I felt a sense of spiritual regeneration even though I remain physically frail, and I believed that they subconsciously felt less negativity and more light, since on the archetypal level we are all connected.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Pink Fairy Lanterns, Woodstars

     This spring, the Sycamore Creek woodlands in Watt’s Valley, in the words of one of my friends, seemed “filled with fairies.” In late April, flowers were burgeoning everywhere, Chinese purple houses, fiesta flowers, pink fairy lanterns, tarweed, wood stars, vetch, pretty face, and wind poppies weaving brilliant tapestries on the hillsides out of the elemental energies of the Earth. Every year, one or two flowers dominate: the spring of 2017, after above-normal rainfall, was the year of Ithuriel’s Spears, also known as Wally Baskets, their lavender umbels crowning the flowers below. Watt’s Valley, carved out by several creeks, is cooler than the surrounding hills where flowers quickly withered in the heat of early May:  Even in mid-May, I could feel elemental energies weaving through Watt’s Valley like a cool breeze that keeps the flowers fresh. We are fortunate in California because the Sierra Nevada Mountains still contain great, uninterrupted ecosystems imbued with the primal energies of creation.  In urban areas, one can starve for the elemental energies that permeate nature: The human soul, in the words of one adept, needs to be fed at all levels, including the etheric, astral, mental, and spiritual levels. If not fed by elemental energies, the soul starts to shrivel.

Wind Poppy, Fiesta Flowers

     I crave elemental energies because they heal my etheric body; over the years, celiac disease has severely damaged the subtle, foundational energies of my physical body. When I am in nature, the elemental energies permeate my aura, and I always feel healthier—occasionally I even feel normal for a time.  Because of my chronic illness, I am perhaps more sensitive to elemental energies in nature than most men and women of my generation. (If you don’t believe you have an aura, you might consider tying a thread to a paperclip and hanging it over one of the seven primary chakras; in a moment or two, the paperclip pendulum should begin to spin.) Elemental energies, like wind brushing the skin, alert me to the greater life around me and awaken the other subtle energies of the cosmos within me. Because of elemental energies I
Chinese Purple Houses
experience something beyond my puny personality, like at night when I am on my porch and suddenly notice the moon. When I experience elemental energies, I sense other dimensions of myself, which is perhaps the most revolutionary feeling I have ever experienced: I know that I have a soul and an eternal spirit. I know this in Watt’s Valley as I experience the grasses and flowers and trees because spiritual energies permeate nature as well. If only everyone could experience the sweetness of the forms of the elemental energies of the Earth! They would not allow the monarchs of capitalism to destroy any more ecosystems. They would fight tooth and nail to keep the ruling industries from destroying our home.
     The Latin word radix means “root.” The Latin word radicalis means “of or relating to a root.” I am a radical because I know the roots of the physical world are in the spiritual dimension. In an enlightened society, it would be shameful to harm the Earth or its subtle energies. Since, however, so many respectable people seem to feel no shame, I am occasionally rude and disrespectful to sell-outs and frauds and hypocrites in academia and industry (including the news industry) who uphold a system that benefits the financial autocrats despoiling our planet. The elemental energies of the Earth have radicalized me: I can’t stop fighting for the Earth, no matter the consequences, no matter what others might think of me. To honor the Earth I would get up in the face of the emperor of the world if he threatened to harm our home.

Ithuriel's Spears, Lupine, Red Clovers, Tarweed

     I found myself on a spiritual path because celiac disease wore down my digestive system to the point that I became terribly ill: I began meditating to heal myself and could see in my mind’s eye during a process of mental purification that subtle black parasites were attacking my etheric body. After I cleansed my aura, I felt much healthier and began to have visions of spiritual symbols. The negative energies that had accumulated during decades of illness, in other words, had been blocking the connection between my higher self and my earthly personality. Because of suffering, in other words, I was eventually able to see below the glamorous surfaces of a material society and recognize the subtle spiritual dimensions of the cosmos. So much of the spiritual work in this society is done by people who suffer from illness or cognitive dissonance or grief, but how could it be otherwise?
     Spiritual development depends on maintaining balance. One thing I did not know when I first started on my spiritual path: Spiritual energies are primal. The deeper, or if you prefer, the higher you go, the more archetypal the energies. These energies, according to Qabalists, first emanated from the great unmanifest into a state of primordial unity known as the Crown of creation (Kether). Over an evolution, the One became the Many through the emanations of the different Sephiroth, or subtle states of being, the physical eventually manifesting as the dense aspect of the spiritual in the material universe. The mystical glyph of the Tree of Life reveals that the spiritual and the physical are two poles of One creation, with one state not inherently better or worse than the other, all states being manifestations of the Source. Physical and elemental and etheric energies are not less holy than the highest heaven.

Ithuriel's Spears, Fiesta Flowers

     Primal spiritual energies below the three highest Sephiroth manifest in humans as instincts. If you stir the instincts through desire or even through spiritual practices, you may discover that you are manifesting their unbalanced aspects, what Qabalists call the “vices” of the subtle energies, until you can bring them into balance through the higher will of the central, harmonizing Sephira known as Beauty (Tiphareth), the Christ center. This is one reason that Christianity focuses almost exclusively on the Sephira of Tiphareth: If the higher self is not awakened within an individual, the vices of the energies of the other Sephiroth are more likely to take over the personality. Without the equilibrating force of harmonizing love, the spiritual seeker can slide into sorcery, focusing on self-aggrandizement, power, sexual satisfaction and other base instincts. Instincts, of course, help humans to survive in the physical world and are as holy as any other part of creation, but in society, I have experienced only too often how instincts can become unbalanced and degenerate into pernicious forms of narcissism.
     An individual often first becomes interested in spirituality through psychic experiences, which people in this materialistic society often find startling. (I certainly did.) In terms of the Qabalah, he or she raises consciousness above the material plane to the Sephira known as Yesod, The Foundation, the subtle state of being containing the etheric, background energies of creation. Within the human aura, these etheric energies manifest as the chakras. When I first began meditating and eliminating negative energies through mental purification, I began having visions relating to the chakras. In the magic mirror of Yesod, subtle spiritual forces are reflected in the human mind as spiritual symbols or personifications of unbalanced entities or energies, such as demons or monsters, or of balanced entities or energies, such as angels or gods.

Chinese Purple Houses, Ithuriel's Spears, Tarweed

     Yesod is a plane where subtle forces from the astral plane manifest as symbolic forms. One great difficulty in spiritual development is distinguishing the forms of the subtle energies from other planes from personal subconscious content. The subconscious mind in meditation as well as in sleep uses symbolic dream language to communicate messages. Sometimes it’s difficult to determine whether or not those messages are personal, from the individual personality, or transpersonal, from a higher plane, which is why the glyph of the Tree of Life is so important. One can compare one’s visions with the symbols on the Tree. After I had completed a process of mental purification, I kept having visions of golden symbols: a crown; a plate and chalice on a brilliant, white tablecloth; and a golden, equal-armed cross in a blue sky, with indistinct angels at each end. I finally figured out that my higher self was communicating symbols about the essential magnificence, abundance, and harmony of the human soul, a spiritual message that I desperately needed at that time in my life.

Chinese Purple Houses

     I should emphasize that before I began having visions, I had absolutely no idea that the Tree of Life or the esoteric orders that rely on it as a spiritual tool even existed, nor did I have a clue about how great an impact spiritual symbols can have on a person’s life. Over time, the significance of the golden, equal-armed cross with its angels at each end, a particularly persistent vision, has unfolded. I soon discovered that key rituals for banishing and invoking are based on the equal-armed cross, the indistinct angels at each end representing the Archangels who are rulers of the elemental energies: Raphael (Air of the Wise); Gabriel (Water of the Wise); Michael (Fire of the Wise); and Auriel (Earth of the Wise). Once I figured this out, I, of course, have regularly performed these rituals, and I have slowly recognized their usefulness: The banishing ritual effectively keeps unbalanced energies and entities away from me, and the invoking ritual imbues my aura with elemental energies that have helped to heal my severely damaged etheric body. I am not perfect, by any means, but spiritual symbols are not meant to help angels. They have helped me with basic survival through the healing of my body and soul, which has been of far greater importance to me up to now than traveling to some other spiritual plane. I doubt that I would have survived without them.
     Yesod is the sphere of the Holy Ghost, which is the feminine aspect of the trinity that complements the Bride in Malkuth, The Kingdom (the physical plane). In Yesod, human beings see the transpersonal symbols that reveal the abstract spiritual principles emanating from the higher planes, principles which can then be manifested in the physical plane. On the Tree of Life, the black, equal-armed cross represents The Kingdom. On the path of Gimel, which leads from the sphere of the Sun, the Christ-center, to the Crown of Creation, Kether, the equal-armed cross is white, suggesting unity and purity. I have always envisioned a golden, equal-armed cross, which is not revealed anywhere on the Tree of Life or the Tarot. Gold, which does not tarnish, suggests the incorruptibility of the spirit and is associated with the Sun and the Christ-center, Tiphareth. In terms of the Tree of Life, Yesod (The Foundation) shows us Tiphareth (Beauty) and Tiphareth shows us Kether (The Crown of Creation): The Holy Ghost shows us The Son, and The Son shows us The Father.

Ithuriel's Spears, Woodstars

     When I first began having visions of spiritual symbols, one night, just as I was falling asleep, I was shaken so hard that I thought all the cells in my body were going to fly apart. The shaking suddenly stopped. Then, just as I was about to fall asleep again, something nudged me hard in the ribs, four times. My door was locked. No one else was in the room with me. I thought at first that a demon was attacking me. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to distinguish between a devil and an angel. “Every angel is terrible,” states the great German poet, Rilke. In retrospect, I think it had to be an angel because spiritual symbols continue to shake me up and keep me spiritually awake in my darkest hours.
     I believe that what humanity needs now, in its darkest hours, more than a brilliant spiritual light that only blinds us, is the influence of Yesod and the Holy Ghost. We must heal ourselves spiritually, both body and soul, in order to manifest harmony in the family, the community, the nation, and the world. The body can never be healthy if the psyche is damaged, and the psyche can never be whole if the body is sick. Based on personal experience, I think the vast majority of us are ill to some degree, given all the pollution in the environment and the toxic mental atmosphere of modern society. Therefore, I believe that the Ritual of the Foundation is the first in the series that you should perform, and one that is most beneficial in times of trial and doubt.

Path 13, The Moon


     Before beginning, review the basics of the Ritual Pentagram Spread. The four number cards associated with Yesod, the ninth Sephira on the Tree of Life, are the Nines.

Nine of Pentacles: Lord of Material Gain
Decan: Venus in 11 - 20 degrees of Virgo
Tree of Life Association: Moon in Yesod

Nine of Swords: Lord of Despair and Cruelty
Decan: Mars in 11 - 20 degrees of Gemini
Tree of Life Association: Moon in Yesod

Nine of Cups: Lord of Material Happiness
Decan: Jupiter in 11 - 20 degrees of Pisces
Tree of Life Association: Moon in Yesod

Nine of Wands: Lord of Great Strength
Decan: Moon in 11 - 20 degrees of Sagittarius
Tree of Life Association: Moon in Yesod

     The passive spiritual invoking pentagram should be employed because Yesod is a Sephira of the Moon and Water.
     In the Egyptian pantheon, the Gods associated with these cards are as follows:

The Nine of Pentacles

Venus: Hathor (The Empress)
Virgo: Atum (The Hermit)

The Nine of Swords

Mars: Horus (The Emperor)
Gemini: Isis and Osiris, the Merti (The Lovers)

The Nine of Cups

Jupiter: Amoun (Wheel of Fortune)
Pisces: Anubis, Khonsu (Pisces)

The Nine of Wands

The Moon: Nephthys, Khonsu (The Moon)
Sagittarius: Neith (Temperance)

     Always remember to perform the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram after each ritual (and at least once a day, if possible).


Friday, April 14, 2017


Coreopsis (Tickweed), Phacelia (Blue Tansy)

(All photographs: Carrizo Plain National Monument, April 10, 2017, except where noted)

     I know that everybody’s idea of paradise is different, but if I asked you to picture paradise in your mind, you might imagine a place with countless, brilliant flowers of every hue. Why? Some might say that in our fallen world flowers remind us of our connection to God, which for the majority of us remains buried deep in the subconscious mind—most of the time. Others might say that flowers remind us of a dimension that we once knew before we were born—a realm to which we might someday return. Still others might say that heaven doesn’t exist but flowers create a yearning for a place of perfect beauty that we can never really know, at least not for long. Fortunately for us, a few earthly paradises, protected as public parks, still remain in California. They create such a contrast to human society that a person can clearly see the truth about what humans have done—and are still doing—to the Earth, something that can be easily forgotten or ignored if a person spends all of his time in a city or on a farm. One of these paradises is currently in danger of being buried under hundreds of feet of water, which only shows that all of them are in jeopardy: Politicians, influenced by power and money, can decide to change land use designations that protect these places in order to allow various forms of development, which could easily become a reality with Republicans in control of all three branches of government.


     During spring break, I visited paradises that reveal the truth about what has happened to the area where I live, the San Joaquin Valley. Carrizo Plain National Monument, the largest protected grassland area in California, is one such paradise. This spring, neon yellow flowers carpet the plain, mixed with the blue and purple and raspberry hues of blue tansy and larkspur and owl’s clover. On Carrizo Plain, I discovered that if I strayed from the road my feet would press about a hundred flowers at every step, which is how John Muir in the mid-nineteenth century described California’s Central Valley in springtime. Carrizo Plain reveals the splendor that can flourish if nature is left to its own devices. In this paradise, one cannot ignore how much of nature has been destroyed in other parts of California. Across the entire San Joaquin Valley, for instance, a few shreds of color peak out from the grass along the roadside or in fallow fields during springtime, but ravishing, paradisaical nature has vanished, replaced by farms and cities. Cultivation and urbanization have wiped out natural splendor to the point that few people in the Central Valley would even suspect that the Valley at one time resembled Carrizo Plain: People have adjusted to a sub-natural quality of life, which is essentially a lie that dominates our collective consciousness as well as our land.

Baby Blue Eyes and Fiddleneck: San Joaquin River Gorge

     Knowing this truth is important both spiritually and ethically. Witnessing the splendor of the life-force within an intact ecosystem opens the soul to the possibility of understanding the magnificence, harmony, and abundance of the Great Mystery. A person begins to sense the splendor of the Mystery within himself and becomes more aware of the need to maintain sustainable human communities that coexist with large, unviolated ecosystems. Moreover, anyone who comprehends that the physical is the dense aspect of the spiritual is more likely to want to leave the natural world undisturbed as much as possible, if only to experience the many magnificent expressions of the Source. In other words, a person who recognizes the spiritual side of nature is more likely to challenge vested interests who benefit from the destruction of the natural world.
     I have nothing against cultivation or urban development if it is done in a sustainable manner, while at the same time preserving natural areas for our children and grandchildren. The great tragedy, however, is that nobody within the past century and a half managed to preserve the glory of nature in the San Joaquin Valley. It’s all gone, except for a few puny wildlife refuges. The same anthropocentric attitude prevails in the Valley today, except now the hydraulic brotherhood wants to take public land and turn it into a reservoir for those with water rights on the San Joaquin River. 5,000 acres of paradise could be obliterated by a dam at Temperance Flat.

Goldfields, Recurved Larkspur, Tickweed (near Soda Lake)

     Like Carrizo Plains National Monument, the San Joaquin River Gorge Special Recreation Management Area is maintained by the federal Bureau of Land Management, and the ravishing splendor of nature can be experienced there, especially in springtime. Unlike Carrizo Plain National Monument, however, the San Joaquin River Gorge Special Recreation Management Area could very well be wiped out by a dam for the benefit of the dominant industry in the area, agriculture. While the great ecosystem within the San Joaquin Valley during the last century and a half was being destroyed piecemeal by local interests, the federal government, to its credit, preserved a stretch of the river in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains for the public. Even though the river is fully appropriated, which means that no more water rights are available, and the state has over-allocated water rights by over 800 percent, The Fresno Bee and the politicians who carry the buckets for agribusiness are promoting a proposal to build a dam at Temperance Flat. This 5,000 acres belongs to our children and grandchildren, but the farmers with the water rights, for their own benefit, are trying to get taxpayers to fork over billions of dollars to build a dam that destroys this priceless public land. In the process, the public will lose an ecosystem that is one of the stunning expressions of the Great Mystery.
    I’ve discovered in the past fifty years that truth is often complicated and distressing to some degree. And it’s especially difficult to promote truth in a society where the populace has become conditioned by the media to ignore facts and complexity. From the moment a person first turns on a television, he or she repeatedly hears and sees lies and oversimplifications that are often comforting and highly entertaining. Living my entire life in the age of television, I know that people can start to prefer lies to the truth. What is even more terrifying, however, is that many men marry their mother and many women marry their father in the television age, just like in any other, and TV has been a third parent for most of us. In other words, many people subconsciously want to perpetuate the patterns established in their childhood, and most of us spent so many hours in front of a television that it became a quasi-parent that for hours on end told us comforting, entertaining lies and never challenged us to seek the truth. I would even venture to say that most of us spent more time with TV than with both parents combined. Because many of us have a subconscious need to repeat childhood patterns, we identify with a person like Donald Trump immediately: Some of us subconsciously like when he lies and oversimplifies and distorts because that is a behavioral pattern that we have known throughout our childhood. Even now, I suspect that the President, who lies over seventy percent of the time, ironically provides comfort and entertainment to many even as he begins the process of bringing the nation to the brink of WWIII and turning the US into a third-world country for the super-rich to pillage (twenty of whom already own half of all the wealth in this country).

Tidy Tips, Tickweed, Blue Tansy

     Incessant lies unfortunately also have the effect of disorienting people until they give up trying to discern the truth. A mental passivity develops due to constant lies and oversimplifications and misdirection in the media—to the point that many people would rather accept the outright lies of a dangerous egomaniac—as long as the lies simplify the world and comfort us and entertain us and don’t force us to think. If people are told reassuring, simplistic lies often enough, they either start to believe them or simply tune out the messy truth. One of the favorite propaganda techniques of The Fresno Bee, for instance, is the constant repetition of the statement that we need more water storage, which seems like an easy, even obvious fix that any sane person would support—The Bee, however, always neglects to present the complicated facts that undermine arguments for a dam at Temperance Flat.
     The public must recognize the truth or we will lose another paradise, and another, until none are left. The truth is that wells in the San Joaquin Valley will continue to run dry even if a new dam is built because farmers have already severely over-drafted the groundwater at deep levels, causing the land to subside.  Agribusiness, in other words, has exhausted the Valley's underground lakes to such a degree that the land in many places is subsiding at a dramatic rate. Eighty percent of the water in California goes to agriculture, and most of the rivers are dead due to water diversions. The industry has already taken the lion’s share of the state's most precious resource and has left almost nothing for the public in the San Joaquin Valley in terms of natural values—yet the industry continues to demand what little is left. The sad fact is that over the years dams have never satiated the thirst of unsustainable crops, and more of them continue to be planted every year. Who is going to stop this? Certainly not Donald Trump, who wouldn’t dream of interfering with a land and water grab by the top few percent in the Valley.

Coreopsis (Tickweed)

     Years ago, as I was exploring a high ridge above Big Creek in search of Native American pounding stones, I suddenly heard what sounded like wind rushing through dry leaves, but I didn’t feel any change in the atmosphere; the leaves in the vicinity were unruffled and green. Strangely, the sound also resembled numerous pebbles raining down on a large stone. Puzzled, I turned around and discovered an enormous rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike. As I stepped back, the rattlesnake, which was about nine feet long, suddenly turned and whipped through the brush. That day, I got lucky. That was the first time I had ever heard a rattlesnake in the wild. I had assumed that its warning sounded like the rattlers I’d heard on TV, but the noise was much louder, less like a rattle, and more difficult to pinpoint than television had led me to believe. Perhaps because of the acoustics created by the rocky cliff, I had difficulty at first identifying where the sound was coming from. I later surmised that confusion about the source of the sound might benefit the snake by disorienting potential victims.
     In nature, a person wouldn’t last long if he lied to himself about his circumstances.  In our society, we are quickly reaching a day of reckoning where we must truthfully ascertain whether or not our industries are using sustainable practices. There is a lot of sound and fury, a lot of lies and intentional distortions that are meant to keep us disoriented, uncertain of the truth, until mental passivity takes over. The Trump administration has mastered this strategy, and certainly The Fresno Bee has employed it to promote the interests of the Valley’s major industry. The public could lose a great deal in the next few years if it does not break out of its apathy and mental passivity caused to a great extent by the media, which has conditioned the public day in and day out for decades to accept or ignore lies and distortions.
     Mental passivity is in itself a veil to the Mysteries. Truth is the key element in spiritual development: Without it, we cannot clear a path to the Source. Moreover, an explorer of the inner realms faces the unknown and must accurately determine the reality of any dangerous or unusual situation. You simply can’t progress on a spiritual path if you are unable to make an accurate assessment of reality on any plane: In some cases, you might unknowingly become unbalanced or trapped in an illusion; in other cases, your life, during a spiritual attack, might depend on the accuracy of your perceptions. Occasionally bizarre events occur in the physical and spiritual dimensions, and you must determine the best way of dealing with them—but for the spiritual dimension not many people can provide cogent advice. Above all, you must be truthful with yourself and others in order to pass beyond the veil.

Path 12

     On the Tree of Life, the eighth Sephira, known as Hod (Splendor), is ruled by Mercury, God of the intellect. The virtue of Hod is truth. Its vice is deceit. Mercury is below Mars on the Pillar of Severity and like Mars limits force so that it can be used productively, the way a combustion engine uses fuel, for instance. In Hod, which on the Tree of Life is the realm of evolving human consciousness, the force of emotion is limited and controlled by thought-forms. In other words, the imagination creates and uses symbolic forms to understand and channel subtle forces and emotions. Rarely does a person in modern civilization experience pure emotion; people instead learn to channel emotion through symbolic ideation. This ability is especially important in the Mysteries: Over the centuries the human mind has created potent forms that personify the subtle forces of nature as Gods and Goddesses. Through worship of the living images of the Gods, combined with devotion and intense feeling, the mind contacts the subtle forces that strengthen the soul.
     For me, Thoth, the Egyptian version of Mercury, is one of the most significant Gods guiding humanity through this difficult stage of our evolution. Thoth is a God with a unique understanding of the human mind who is tolerant of our physical and mental frailties. He supports people who have a genuine desire to progress through the Mysteries. I cannot emphasize enough how important sacrifice for truth is nowadays; Thoth understands and supports it in many subtle ways, especially when everything seems hopeless. The chart below suggests how to arrange Tarot cards associated with Hod to invoke the force of Mercury and break through the veil of mental passivity.

Eight of Pentacles: Lord of Prudence
Decan: Sun in 1 - 10 degrees of Virgo
Tree of Life Association: Mercury in Hod (Eighth Sphere)

Eight of Swords: Lord of Shortened Force
Decan: Jupiter in 1 - 10 degrees of Gemini
Tree of Life Association: Mercury in Hod (Eighth Sphere)

Eight of Cups: Lord of Abandoned Success
Decan: Saturn in 1 - 10 degrees of Pisces
Tree of Life Association: Mercury in Hod (Eighth Sphere)

Eight of Wands: Lord of Swiftness
Decan: Mercury in 1 - 10 degrees of Sagittarius
Tree of Life Association: Mercury in Hod (Eighth Sphere)

Mercury: Thoth
The Sun: Ra
Virgo: Atum
Jupiter: Amoun
Gemini: Isis and Osiris, the Merti
Saturn: Ptah
Pisces: Anubis, Khonsu
Sagittarius: Neith