Thursday, September 13, 2018

Going dark and lighting up

Administrivia: The Breadbin is going to go mostly dark over the coming weeks, perhaps months. This is because I am about to hit a very busy period at work. I have elected for 44 hours a week, and may work 52 or 60 some weeks. Home life is also picking up. If I must blog -- and you know me, there are times I must -- I will. But after the summer deluge, expect posts to roughly be reduced by 75% -- in other words, back to the frequency I had before July.

I will also be shunning politics (I hope) for at least a month. This happens from time to time. Right now I'm just so disheartened at the mess my province is facing, a mess that's sure to spread across the country, not to mention the colossal mess that is to my south. I need to withdraw. Expect what few coming posts there are to focus more on personal issues and areas of interest.


“Just remember that Dumbo didn't need the feather; the magic was in him. ” 
― Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft

As a writer, I care about my audience. Sometimes a little too much. I confess that I do check to see how many page views I get whenever I write on a given topic, and bear in mind what I find. It's important to me to engage my readers. If the word "boring" is ever going to be applied to my work, I hope that at least I'm boring in an interesting sort of way.

My posts on magic from last month were not at all well received. I didn't expect them to be. One operative mage, a Wiccan, loved them, and the rest was crickets. Very few crickets. Forgive me, though: once more into the fray.

Very attentive readers know the admiration I have for John Michael Greer, whom I mention probably entirely too often. A link to his site can be found in my 'Other Ovens' section, and what I say there is true: he's responsible for the shaping of my adult mind more than any person not my wife.
That said, I've tended -- for reasons I'm sure my readers can relate to -- to shun his occult offerings, simply because c'mon, seriously? Besides his incredible work on the now-defunct Archdruid Report, which focussed on the predicaments our society is in and offered ways and means of extrication, at least on a personal level....he's also into stuff I've long considered ridiculous. Like many forms of magic. Like astrology (he's casted an extremely in-depth chart concerning Brexit here that fascinated me in spite of myself...I'll be checking back in to see how accurate this turns out to be.)

When he announced the commencement of a deep read of what he considers to be the most important book on the occult from the twentieth century, I was nonplussed. But then I remembered something from my grade 13 year.

My two closest friends that year were Kieron, a devout atheist, and Johnathan, a Jehovah's Witness. Johnathan was an enigma: he graduated our class with the second highest average, including the highest science marks in the school--and believed almost nothing of what he was taught in that class.

I used to love listening to those two debate, because they were both irresistible forces and immovable objects. I think it was during those debates that I first started to position myself in the center by instinct.

I already knew the atheist side of things, but Jehovah's Witnesses interested me. They hold some, how shall we put this, unconventional beliefs. Of course, Johnathan was more than happy to assist me in my investigation of his faith, and gave me a Watchtower Bible to peruse. I made the colossal mistake of bringing that thing home.

My mother hit the roof. Rarely had I ever seen her so angry. She threatened to burn the book, and I really got the feeling she'd be more than happy to do it while I held it. It took a little bit of fancy talking to explain to her that no, I was not interested in becoming a Jehovah's Witness, I was only interested in how they thought and what they believed. This made no sense to Mom whatsoever. What they thought was hogwash and what they believed was bullshit and that was final. No hogwash or bullshit would be permitted in the Breadner household.

Didn't stop me from reading it, though. I simply read it at school, sometimes even during class if I already knew that day's material.  That I am not a Jehovah's Witness today should tell you that I'm capable of drawing my own conclusions, and also which conclusion I drew.

I decided I would tackle this Cosmic Doctrine. Just to say I did. Just to reassert I'm me and not my mother. It's always a good thing to learn how other people see the world, and I am, at heart, a seeker. I would read this, and I would look for connections to what I already knew, and I would learn. Maybe it would be hogwash and bullshit, but then again, maybe not. A man I deeply respect feels this tome is worth my time, after all.

He ain't kidding when he cautions at the beginning that this stuff is seriously tough sledding. Three things have kept me going:

  • the knowledge that it's deliberately dense, i.e., intended for serious study, not casual reading;
  • multiple references, gleaned through the first HALF PAGE, to things Mark and I have discussed;
  • most importantly, Greer's commentary, which is both greatly simplifying the material and making it relevant.
Indeed, highly relevant. Much of this I'd already believed to be true.


Today, Greer is talking about "morphic resonance". What in the hell is that, you ask. Google responds:

according to the theory developed by Rupert Sheldrake, British biologist 1942–) a paranormal influence by which a pattern of events or behavior can facilitate subsequent occurrences of similar patterns.

Put into plain English, if you think or do something over and over again, it becomes a habit. I think everybody  can agree with that, and it's probably not too much of a stretch to expand it into a what has become a  common aphorism of the New Thought Movement: 

"Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
--Frank Outlaw

Not too threatening, right? I find ritual immensely comforting and reinforcing. Many people and institutions do as well...that's why it's done.

Now I'm going to blow your mind.


Have you ever noticed that children pick up second languages very easily, without texts? Scientists have long speculated there's some kind of innate similarity that even the most widely divergent languages share. I've always thought that was, well, hogwash and bullshit. There is very little in common between English and Japanese, or Spanish and Russian. What if the real reason for this is that other children (and adults) have learned the language in the past, and the new learners simply tap into that knowledge?

That sounds crazy, doesn't it?

There's a lot of craziness out there.

An awful lot.

Really, quite a lot. (Please...try and read these links with an open mind.)

Rupert Sheldrake is a fascinating figure. Science doesn't quite know what to make of him. His theories seem to meld quantum physics with way-out-there. What's incredible (to me) is that they are simple, seem to be more than adequately controlled, and have been replicated.

What if I told you that Dion Fortune provided a model for all of this odd shit fifty years before Rupert Sheldrake came along?

It really does change everything. It points to Jung's collective unconscious, the same mechanism explored in everything from Clan of the Cave Bear to Mass Effect and Halo, being real. It echoes in the seventh principle of Unitarian Universalism, respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. It gives me a new lens to view seeming coincidences, like when scientists discover something at roughly the same time, on opposite sides of the planet, without contact with each other. It gives a model to explain mob mentality, especially the energies that build around it...energies I have felt.

You may recall that Dion Fortune's definition of magic is "the art and science of changing consciousness in accordance with will." This worldview suggests that "will" is something which can operate at a distance. I'm starting to wonder if physical distance might be irrelevant in certain contexts. Quantum physics seems to think this is the case.

More to come, at intervals.

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