A Dead Tommy in the Age of Pandemic and Social Upheaval

There’s a police state on the rise.

There’s a cutthroat economy that doesn’t cut anyone born after 1980 any slack.

There’s a (very ineffectual) coup attempt by a guy who talks like he grew up in a high school locker room.

There’s a pandemic worse than any in living memory (at least, I don’t think there are more than half a dozen people who remember the 1918 flu and it’s probably way less than that).

And, well, I’m holding out remarkably well. Still working full-time. Haven’t gotten the virus or been evicted yet. I don’t take anything for granted though.

I have mellowed into accepting my past lives as a source of wordly wisdom. I no longer search for grand patterns; I think I exhausted that search. And had I been anyone else in my previous life but a guy well-known for theophany and gnosticism I would have found this much easier to accept. I had to overcome the sting of discovering myself as a failed prophet but I think my new path, learning the ways of the Norse völva, has given me a certain lightness of heart for overcoming spiritual missteps and a new appreciation for worldly wisdom.

In fact I don’t think the Norse path really differentiates much between worldly and spiritual wisdom. The Hàvamal doesn’t seem to make any distinction; to Odin, wisdom is wisdom.

So lately I have been talking quite openly about my past life experiences. At least, as “openly” as a locked Twitter account gets. I have been offering words of advice to friends coping with the world’s problems.

True, nobody’s shelling us, and being shot at with live ammo, while far too common in the US, is still the exception rather than the rule for most people most of the time. True, I wasn’t around for the Spanish Influenza (I was either stuck in that space between spaces or I was a non-human animal at the time). I can’t make one-to-one comparisons to what we went through then and what we’re going through now.

But the prolonged grind of deteriorating circumstances in the US in 2020 is having a similar effect on a lot of people to the prolonged grind of the Western Front. The burnout, the despair, the trauma, it’s all there.

For my part, I seem to have found a degree of calm stoicism that only occasionally breaks. And I think it’s because I remembered how we used to live in the moment in the trenches. I try to tell my friends what I know about keeping yourself distracted, learning to adapt to uncertainty, and keeping up morale.

All these times of chaos will pass. At least a few of today’s problems may already have an end in sight. The worst may be yet to come but that’s not something we can control. I know for my part I have prepared as much as I reasonably can for as many possibilities as I can reasonably think of. All that remains is to be calm in the long wait until the big clusterfuck hits.

Simulacra And The Indolence of the Ruling Class

First of all a disclaimer: I don’t own a TV. I don’t get anything out of watching TV. I have subscriptions to several streaming services and only watch a few shows and movies occasionally, on my days off. I am usually skeptical of most mainstream media as it fails to critique capitalism in an intelligent way and amplifies bad actors over legitimate reformers.

Now my thoughts:

It’s easy to get carried away with the kind of conspiratorial thinking that says the artificial reality created for us in the media- especially television- was created by a canny, cynical elite who knowingly deceived us.

But recently the gears in my head got spinning around a remark my husband made: that there must be secret television networks that only the billionaires know about.

I realized there’s not. Everything we know about the ruling class says they watch the same shows we do.

After all, you see ads for companies you probably will never buy anything from, like Siemens, Boeing, and BASF. And while part of that is propaganda for the masses to present the brand as a benevolent presence, part of it is the fact that the so-called captains of industry watch the same shows you do.

Moreover, they’re even more bought into it than the Tv-watching public. And why not? They’ve created a perfect simulacrum of the world they want to live in, where the good are rewarded for their hard work, industry and innovation create bright futures, and only bad people need to fear the aggressive march of the police state. If they don’t like the flavor of coverage they can change the channel and find views that are more compatible but equally manufactured. Liberals and conservatives create comfortable false consciousness and live in it.

That’s why it has taken our politicians so long to realize how bad things are. That’s why peaceful protests haven’t worked. They don’t live in the reality we do. They’re fully bought into the sitcom America, the reality television America, the cable news America.

Our leaders rule a country that doesn’t exist. How can we respect or obey such complete fools?

I want to recommend a book that could change your life. What if, instead of constantly being at each other’s throats, we learned to work together without the state bearing down on us? Peter Kropotkin studied many cultures and found that our capitalist culture was uniquely sick, and that unique sickness cannot be cured by Bolshevik statism or the totalitarian capitalism that bears down on us now.

Please read “The Conquest of Bread.”

Reintegrating

Lately I have been reintegrating the experiences described in this blog, and trying to make some kind of peace with the side of me that always sees things through a liminal lens.

I have also begun returning to my spiritual seeking in earnest just recently. A bit of background: back during my eclectic witchcraft days I had briefly looked into the Norse path but living as a gay man at the time, I felt very uncomfortable with the loudest voices in the room, namely the Volkish “blood and soil” Heathens. At that time I wasn’t even against the whole Volkish thing; I just knew that my personal life would be an issue with those kinds of people.

I kind of piddled around in a loose eclectic witchcraft direction a bit but I was never happy with the sort of “Tumblr witch” aesthetic or with nearly every system of modern witchcraft falling back on Gardner and Buckland and by extension, Hermeticism. None of it interested me enough to do any real research.

I fell out of the Pagan thing in 2012 after the past life thing broke. I tried Buddhism, Hermeticism, Valentinian Gnosticism, Catharism, Rosicrucianism, and then veered hard left into Diggerism before having a brief stint as a militant atheist Marxist dialecticist. But I’ve softened on that lately. I was turning into someone who alienated people.

Now in the intervening years I have met a number of Norse Heathens who were neither Gardnerians with a Norse veneer nor Volkish, and as my number of friends in that area grew I became more interested myself. Then someone reminded me of Seidr, the atavistic and often transgressive witchcraft of the Norse.

I have to say it suits me. Seidr means living with death ever-present and that seems to make the present time at least a little easier to deal with.

So until and unless it leads me elsewhere, I am trying the path of the Völva.

Intrusive Image

Intrusive and vivid image tonight while at work of a massive pile of shrouded plague bodies in front of a cathedral. A tearful priest blesses them. The stench is ungodly. I think it was in Germany somewhere. I feel noticeably weaker and sicker after that began replaying in my head.

I just want to go home and sleep, provided this image doesn’t follow me into my dreams.

23 Sparrows

I had a vision at work just a couple hours ago. I saw this fractal sculpture made to suggest- but not represent- a flock of birds. The sculptor called it “23 Sparrows.”

There was a boy there, maybe a little shy of twelve. He gleefully took the half-formed suggestions of birds and turned them into fully-formed, living, breathing sparrows while the sculptor, a woman roughly my age, looked on in amazement.

When I came to I noticed the number 23 written on the wall nearby. I don’t know if I had unconsciously noticed that or not.

It reminds me a lot of some of the New Testament apocrypha, like the story of young Jesus making real birds out of clay. This isn’t the perfect Jesus you were taught in school but a mischievous young demigod, creating life for fun.

Maybe this means nothing except that I’m much too tired to be at work right now. My visions related to Daniel seem to have not come to anything. Or have they?

Future Plans

Right now I am looking at moving to either Germany or Ireland.

Some might think it strange that I would consider Germany my first choice. The truth is Germany has been a recurring location of significance across lifetimes and its significance has not always been bad. As a medieval statesman I was in close contact with the court of the Holy Roman Emperor Otto IV. Going back further I have had flashes of being a Germanic tribesman during the Roman era though I haven’t confirmed any of the specifics of that. I may have also lived various lives there between 1300 and 1700 as well though I don’t recall very clearly. And in my last life I was obsessed with German literature, classical music, and the language.

It should surprise no one German is coming fairly easy. I’m spending a few minutes a day on Duolingo.

If I relocate to Germany, it will make taking a weekend to visit Flanders quite easy which will be a great relief.

There’s a good chance I’ll be in the vicinity of Cologne though exactly where and exactly when- or if- I’m moving is still up in the air.

I’m going to take this one day at a time and get the most basic preparations out of the way before moving on to more risky preparations. Learning the language and getting my cat microchipped are among the first things I’m doing. I hope that by the time borders reopen I will have enough money to be able to afford to move with most of the things I’d want to bring.

More To Reveal

For some time now I have either sneered at the idea of reincarnation or at anything remotely spiritual.

I can now reveal that I was struggling with some very troubling things.

Even before coronavirus I had suspected the country was on the verge of a revolution or civil war (hence why I rearmed myself in January). And I have been very sensitive to the injustices that have led to this point.

Long story short, I felt like any presumptions about what I did in past lives or whether reincarnation was even a thing would hinder me in making an authentic decision about what to do here and now. So I discarded it wholesale as something inconvenient.

I had bitter arguments with my husband and my best friend (the friend who was my girlfriend for a while and with whom I am still very close) about whether or not I should commit to some kind of revolutionary action and be willing to sacrifice myself for the greater good.

They pointed out, rightly, that I was not only loved but needed.

And after several months of these conversations I realized, much to my chagrin, that I was having unpleasant flashbacks to Jack’s life, particularly the part when he had similarly impassioned arguments. I buried that notion and tried not to let it bias me, but maybe it did.

At any rate I made my choice. I will not take part in any revolutionary action.

I will still use force to defend myself and those I love; I don’t think I could ever be so militantly pacifist that I wouldn’t dump a magazine on someone who I knew for sure wanted to kill me or someone I love. But I won’t be engaging in any kind of activity as a partisan.

Obviously I couldn’t tell you all this back when I was agonizing over it. You don’t just say these things online. But I hope I am safe in at least saying I was given an opportunity to put myself in that position and I chose to be a protector and nurturer instead.

What really helped seal my decision is that I have been given a tentative offer to work with an NGO in Europe. This comes after a last-ditch prayer to St. Michael for a sign of what I need to do. I can help people, while getting a chance to finally close the book on my baggage in Flanders.

So there it is. I had to step away from all this and make my own decisions and in the end, I guess I have learned from my mistakes after all, even if the world seems to have collectively learned nothing.

Perhaps those who still read this blog will want to read about my adventures in Europe when the time comes. That will be a while yet but I will keep you up to date.

While I’m waiting for the details to shake out and saving my money for what will be a very costly move, I will try to renew my commitment to a contemplative life.

Michael, you have answered and taken me toward the path of mercy. Thank you.

Here’s The Score

It’s very likely that we do reincarnate, if experience can be trusted. However, we suffer alone and without end.

There is no savior to remove us from the cycle.

There is no word of wisdom or mantra that will allow us to escape.

There are no sages who have ever escaped.

There is no justice in the universe to ensure that a life well-lived is rewarded.

Death is the undoing of our deeds, the stripping of our identities and (usually) memories, and a headlong dive into a life that may be better or worse but will on average suffer more as the universe crumbles into entropy.

When the universe ends in heat death we will not be annihilated or liberated; we will be left in the void to eternal torment.

Be as wicked, as twisted, as selfish, as cruel, as good or bad as you want. We’re alone in this prison and no one will save you.

Small Things

Small things are trickling in, lessening my doubts. Nothing about Jack though with some reflection I still have more than enough of him left in my personality.

I have been feeling some resonance with James, the mid-19th century sailor who lived in times of civil unrest and may have been at the Paris Commune. Recently the name James Hague (another J.H.) came to me in a dream but I can’t find any record of him on Findagrave or Billion Graves.

A couple weeks ago I was watching a video about sailing ships with my good friend (the girl I used to date and am still thankfully very close to). I noticed the tassels on the back of a ship’s sails and said “wait a sec, those are called ‘telltales,’ aren’t they?” A brief web search confirmed it. But this could be cryptomnesia.

I also discovered that an ocean liner from James’ time, the SS Great Britain, still exists albeit as a static display. I really want to see it if it’s ever safe to go to the UK (my friends there, who I’ve known many years and trust more than a stranger’s word, advise me it isn’t, between coronavirus, civil unrest, and rampant transphobia).

There’s also a glimmer, shockingly enough, of Phil’s life coming through but not in any predictable way. It wasn’t something prophetic or profound that relates somehow to our current moment; it was something childish and sweet.

I have this mental image of a green field in a park somewhere. There’s a hill, tall but round and inviting. All around children are flying kites. It’s a happy place, one I think I’ve seen in dreams.

Southern California has several such parks with hills ideal for kite flying. Perhaps Phil took his son there once? Or perhaps this was just my imagination being latched onto a real place.

That hill is very much on my mind tonight, while I pace the bowels of a factory watching for fires that will, in all likelihood, never come. It’s a sense of sehnsucht, not for something long ago and far away, but something near and recent. And that’s a very different feeling than I usually get about past life stuff.

I still hold doubt like a shield but I am willing to look at things that come my way and maybe start recording them again instead of pretending they’re nothing and hoping they go away.