Magick: Taboo, Destruction, Healing and Transformation

253c96e9-1db6-4c6e-bfb3-74d5af135833Magick: Taboo, Destruction, Healing and Transformation.

Magic is something one is born with and is inherent to all members of our species. However, as with all traits, it proves to be stronger and more resilient in some than in others.
I was born witch and as with all human internal predilections, outward expression differs with the surrounding environment and how that environment is experienced and interpreted.
Creativity and Magick are the dancing serpents of our internal DNA. Some of these snakes have different markings and some simply prove to be more powerful and resilient creatures. Often they are dismissed along with other proverbial ‘childish things’ and gradually fades to a memory that eventually reappears in slower and older years.
As a child I was gifted with a crazy itinerant background which ensured I was often alone with little to distract from encouraging the fertilisation and growth of these magickal genetic markers.
I devoured books, particularly fairy tales and folk lore. A religious background meant I was also exposed to the biblical lore which contained stories of transformation, magic, monsters and wonder.
I always believed in magic and always believed that I was a witch. I remember my mother saying that initially she thought and hoped that it was phase that I would grow out of, but I never did.
I would employ my sister to join me in a games of ‘worship’ where I would construct temples with offering bowls of rice and flowers, and would build homes in the grass and local woodlands of wherever I was living, for fairies.
Aged seven I used a book voucher I had been given as a birthday present to buy a subscription for ‘Man Myth and Magic’. This proved to be very short lived subscription as my father became terribly upset at the magazine’s content (which included images of naked Alexandrian rituals) and he forced the newsagent to refund my money. Despite only getting to see a few issues it still had an enormous impact on me and years later I found myself constructing sigils using Austin Osman Spare’s technique which I’d retained memory of reading about in those wonderful heady pages.
Everything I did in my childhood served to educate and reinforce this inner witch. Even the (over) exposure I had when young to Catholicism, was assimilated and transformed to inform my witch self about the power of glamour and the power of belief.
With puberty came a time for conscious choice, a step beyond child-like games of wonder, enthusiastic and random accumulation of information.
I continued to read voraciously and still have copies of Richard Cavendish’s ‘The Black Arts’ and Gareth Knight’s ‘A History of White Magic’, which, sad to say were taken out and never returned to Wellington Public Library when I was eleven. It was around that time I also decided on a path of divination which I realised was an integral part of any witches life and I started studying and practicing palmistry, something I continue to do to this day. However I realised very early on that working with palms was a direct contact magickal science that operated differently than the gateways, portals, journeys and subconscious triggers that I needed to enhance my magickal practice, so I started working with the tarot to fulfil that criteria.
My first pack was by Ryder Waite, then at 16 I briefly worked with the Thoth tarot until I discovered the Tony Willis deck which was the perfect fit for me in that we danced together, always learning and neither of us becoming dominant.
At some point I’d come across a teaching that said in magick one must choose the path of love, wisdom or power. I believe now that this is rubbish as all paths are about power and the first magickal lesson is learning how to deal with it.This insight came much later though, so I followed my youthful misguided premise and decided walk the path of knowledge. Consequently in my mid teens I started working with Golden Dawn Rituals and the teachings of Crowley in what I felt was a way to validate me intellectually as well as assisting me to evolve spiritually. Already I was mixing within a male dominated community and the work of Aleister Crowley appeared to have a greater foothold and kudos than the more ‘basic’ witchcraft, which I naturally gravitated towards.
As I moved more and more into countercultural wild traveller environment, the magick also became wilder and less structured. The music became industrial, spirituality was subverted and witchcraft seeped into ritual as we imbibed hallucinogens, fucked and cavorted on beaches and in rainforests and fused magic and anarchy.
Chaos magick per se hadn’t become a known thing at that time in New Zealand, but the 80’s social and political unrest, the drugs, the graphic novels and the wildness of my peers seemed to tap us in to the collective consciousness that produced Chaos Magick in other parts of the world.
I was sixteen when I created my witchname and personal sigil and at the same age I started consciously working with bones, road kill and remnants of death.
I was messed up with drugs and had an eating disorder but magick was still a huge and integral part of my life.
Practising divination on young people who were going to die was a sobering experience that caused me to back off from my palmistry and predominantly focus on tarot as there was a protective impersonal aspect about it, and the cards themselves act as a intermediary between diviner and querent.
New Zealand as a country is a strange land and more recently I’ve wondered if working in ritual context in an undisciplined way with the wild energy of place, perhaps had something to do with the high casualty rate of my peers.
Later when I lived in Australia, Asia and England I met up with tricky earth energies but nothing like my time in New Zealand. I think the combination of undisciplined teen energy and the spirit of this youthful and strange land was particularly explosive. In retrospect I see that this was another indication of our age and phase of development; choosing a specific practice that generates the greatest power for that time. This may well be done unconsciously and perhaps is one of the many initiatory thresholds we pass through in our lifetime; dicing with inebriants, death, crazy hormones and madness and seeing how committed you are to continuing your practice when everything falls apart.
At the time these spiritual directions seemed natural to follow, but in retrospect I can see them as necessarily developmental and very intrinsic to the times.
My twenties proved to be a very messy era that was exponentially littered with drugs, miscarriages, homelessness and general unhappiness.
My magic operated at a very basic, survival level. I used sigils (successfully) to get off legal charges, manifest money to eat and to buy drugs. I also did divinations in pubs as a means to buy cigarettes and drinks so I learned to introduce a measure of cold readings into my spreads for strangers as it wasn’t appropriate to give in-depth insights in such circumstances.
As my life became more chaotic I found that my magic became more distant. In part this may be because I started living in bigger cities where I no longer had a garden or access to nature but mainly I believe it was because my spirit was shrivelling as I was living at a base survival level.
I spent several years in rehab and dry houses and as the drugs washed out of my system I slowly began to reconnect my levels of self and began to heal.
My first step was gardening and then choosing a physical discipline which would enable me integrate these fractured selves. I chose yoga, a physical and spiritual love affair that remains constant steadfast and strong in my life.
In the beginning of Maya Daren’s The Divine Horsemen she quotes an old Haitian proverb, ‘Great Gods do not ride little horses’ and if we want to work with gods and spirits we need to be STRONG!
Yoga gave me access to physical strength and flexibility, a sense of the joy of being within and working with my body. Though of course I had come across Crowley’s work with yoga before (and eventually I actually trained as a yoga teacher in the Vivekanada school, Vivekanada being one of Crowley’s teachers) it wasn’t until I actually practiced fully I realised the core power of the practice lay in working at one with your body and its ability.
Though my tarot and palmistry had been constants through my dodgy years, I needed more. I started to explore other practical ritual systems as I realised that I wouldn’t be whole until I properly fed my witch self.
I explored new age philosophies which simply enough, didnt work for me. As with my experiences of Catholicism I realised there were valuable things to be learned such as the power of drumming, dance and control of language and vocalisation, and I also learned to switch off my judgement as to what ‘hardcore’ was, and that every spiritual path is open to destructive power dynamics in groups.
I continued my experimenting and became aware that my inability to be unable to recognise spirits or god forms by name or gender rather than by feel, was something that could be worked with rather than fought as I had previously done. I needed to operate at a basic level and build up slowly, exploring my vulnerabilities and changing my perceptions of what constituted strength.
I started creating fetishes again and realised that is, was, and always will be the strongest manifestation of my inherent witch, so I looked at exploring traditions that used such techniques.
Thus I researched Santeria, Voodoo, Traditional and Sabbatic Craft.
I refused to kill as it went against what my inherent gentleness, a trait which had been challenged at points in my life and consequently I had decided this aspect of me was something I wanted to acknowledge and keep. Some traditions that resonated with me, I would not take final initiatory steps,having a core knowledge that the god forms I work with would honour my acting through my intensity of belief rather than of a prescribed and implanted system .
As I had been left terribly damaged by the life I had lived, I used my magickal explorations as part of my healing.
I worked with godforms that were outsiders and constructs of the fallen such as Lilith, as a way of exploring my own alienation, then peeled away those societal judgements to find the core of both them and myself.
I worked with my menstrual and veinous blood to learn about my cycles and the way they ruled my relationships with my magickal guides, and to ascertain how these spirits and guides reacted differently to different types of blood.Having had hep c for many years at that point made my blood work even more relevant as traditionally good spirits only gravitate towards fresh and beautiful offerings, whereupon the ‘bad’ spirits gravitate towards the tainted, the rotten- so if I looked at things with this definition in mind what were the reactions to spirit and godforms to receiving my tainted blood?
I also experimented with sex (something I had never done before, as abuse, years of prostitution and rape had made me a passive participant in sex acts) as sexuality is simply enough an expression of self and to know my self I needed to know my sexuality and its power.
I set up magickal groups and worked with group energies, and constantly explored creatively.
One incredibly powerful magickal tool that I started using in my teens and returned to in my thirties was a mirror. I always used older mirrors as these are mercury or silver backed and I prefer to use one that has an oak surround. Paschal Beverley Randolph utilised mirrors in his sexual magickal work, Robert Cochran also mentions them and there is countless mention globally in folk magic texts of spirit work with mirrors as well as a form of mirror work used in yoga called Maya yoga (Maya translated into magic in this respect). My primary use of this tool wasn’t for divination but for separating subjective and objective selves and stripping back layers to find aspects of me that were inherited from family, aspects that went beyond gender, ancestral lineage and eventually came to the heart of the matter in its accessing the shared universal self. However I also used it in correlation with sex magick, divination and ritual work.
In my early forties my world turned upside down as I entered menopause and my mother died. Both of these things challenged my spirituality and entered me into a more insular sphere of experience and interaction with the spirit world.
I became involved with left hand path Tantric practice which eventually led to me to folk tantra as the underlying philiposohy that resonated most with me.
Art became my main magical form of communication and communion and working on a earth centred level helped me translate the new phase in my life.
Death of a mother challenges everything about spirituality and being physically present in the process of losing the being that brought me into this world, caused a major analysis of my part in this reality, something that was exacerbated by losing my bleeding and fertile self.
Another thing which caused a major revaluation of my spirituality has been my being cured of my hep c, something which I had had for nearly 30 years and precipitated many of my magickal blood workings and also influenced the way I related to the deities and the spirits that I worked with.
On one level there was a huge relief and the moving away from shame and ‘the divine punishment for indecent living’ as Keith Harding said, but on another there is the awareness that the illness that created the bond you had with certain god forms was gone and the nature of this relationship has changed completely. In some belief systems your disease makes you at one with the god, so what happens when the illness goes? In my experience there is a sense of loss and loneliness, akin from being expelled from the symbiotic hive that one was once a part of.
So all of these things created a sense of dislocation that required major reoriention. Quietly working with remnants of death in my art and listening to the voices of the memories that lay within these things has helped me to anchor and reassemble.
My art work with bones, natural objects and remnants of death is akin to learning a new language and each assemblage or fetish gives me a key, that once deciphered creates a greater understanding of this new tongue.
Over this time I became aware that I have never been a group person and much of my working within a group or tradition had been about a search for my people and a need for validation within a like minded community, rather than the need for the strength that comes from a group magickal working.
Of course there is no. power surge quite like plugging into communion with one’s gods and spirits and group rituals can intensify this feeling to the nth degree.
I mentioned earlier that I believe the first magickal lesson really is power and how to use it, and when I have taught or mentored one of the first things I do is recommend a reading list on cults. This isnt just to recognise an unhealthy power dynamic within a group structure but also to recognise personal predilections to follow or to gain control.
I am not a follower but I also do not like the concept of being a leader as it removes sense of responsibility from members of the group and can cause groups to stagnate if there is a static and fixed leadership. Progression needs change and challenge.
Groups drain me, in the material plane with their dramas and politics, and on other planes with my tendency to give out energy and use myself as a battery. Whilst I was going through my period of reassembling I needed to step back from group work as I found it eroding me, and often, by nature, I would absorb kick back from badly structured or messy workings.
I do like to play though, so over the years experimental magick has been a large part of my approach, I learnt a lot from this and love the excitement of the explorations. There should be a great joy in magick and when I connect I can feel like a small child, naughty and revelling in the plugged in sensation. O I’m well aware of the serious aspect of magick but the punishment and kickbacks are way to reminiscent of established religion and in my heart I feel that when you appreciate the birthright we have been gifted in and plug in to the power of everything, it should be FUN!
Creation of egregores through events and groups and online magickal workings with over 1000 participants were just a few of the things I undertook and loved doing but found very draining afterwards.
As I became older these post ritual fall outs took longer to recover from and post menopause/post my mothers death I needed to focus and transform and use all my energy to do that.
When I have gone through these ‘back to basics’ moment I often give away my magical equipment, work on my physical strength and health, have a daily yoga practice, garden, and focus on my art. I also have times when I do a daily LBR of the pentagram which is invariably shifts things into right focus for me.
Over the years people have asked me to define my practice and give myself a label. For some time I emphasised the fact that I am a magickal practitioner as I did (and still do) think that this is an important aspect of my spirituality; I practice and live my magick. I also defined myself as a non denominational and gradually there emerged the all encompassing grassroots title ‘animist’, however I believe all this is covered by the simple word ‘witch’.
My recognition of self as a witch is and always has been non negotiable, it is how it is manifested that has changed, and much of this hasn’t been to do with how I work with my spirits and god forms but how I interact with people.
Magic has always been about transformation be it on the deepest spiritual, physiological and emotional level or on the necessary mundane levels such as acquisition of material objects, money or power or for healing revenge or protection.
This of course reflects normal life on the material plane, and the two threads necessarily entwine, act and react- like the DNA strand itself.
As my life has shifted and changed, my practice has changed but there was a constantly present core that grew in strength and solidity.
I despise the idea of a post menopausal and older magickal woman being considered to be a crone; bitter, shrivelled, physically frail and repellant with their only strength lying in power acquired through wisdom. I think this is an antiquated and cliched perception. In Papua New Guinea post menopausal women are considered to be honorary men and perform initiation rites where they reenact young men’s birth albeit without the original tainting by female blood. In the Western world there is perhaps a similar view but less honour associated (except in some Goddess orientated groups), which is akin to saying if we are not able to bear children, and contribute to the baking of cakes of light, we have no value as a woman…I mean come on!
Whilst the crone concept does have some validity in its concept of knowledge and power acquired through time, I think this is not a gender specific phenomenon. Personally I don’t believe that the end of menstruation brings the end of femininity and magickal sexuality, it simply brings about its change.
Over the last ten years I have lost my blood, my mother and many of my magickal mentors, but I have finally learned the strength and power of my inner witch who stands proud and fully integrated within me.

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Winter Is The Time When Words Rule

 

97f036df-82f9-410a-8bc8-a0aa0e1bd020I always wanted to write. Working with words was something that I felt born to do. This core belief was never goal orientated, nor did it revolve around publication of books or plays or stories. It was simply, a perpetual, inborn knowledge of who and what I was.
Amidst the childhood dreams of becoming an archaeologist or astronaut or pathologist was the constant of loving to write.
As a child I read constantly and would lose myself in the words of others. I found it horribly difficult to communicate with people and felt that as someone who stood on the outside, perhaps I had a more peripheral awareness of life; like a spectator in a top tier of a stadium with no interference or distraction.
I had a high castle view, and it was my duty to record what I saw.
As I grew older I experimented with the shapes and patterns and structures of words, exploring their malleability and how much I could twist and manipulate them.
I wrote poetry and graphic novels, sci-fi stories and songs. I would nonsense free form associate strings of words, and play with automatic writing techniques. Sometimes I would listen to assorted compilation albums and write in time to the music, translating the different rhythms and tempos.
I kept diaries, not so much to record events, but as a discipline, a way of capturing words that conveyed the feel of the time.
As I grew older I found my imagination lost its shine and became overwhelmed by issues and darkness. My writing became caught in a repetitive loop of self pity and self destructiveness; an articulated battle against suicide. Ideas were overwhelmed by feeling, turning the sparks to sludge.
I stopped using my writing to explore tunnels and possibilities and the words instead became tumbleweed on a dark, flat, monotonous landscape.
I never really finished battling with my demons but I reached a point of compromise. I emerged from this war, battered and like a child that found everything new and exciting, albeit very frightening.
I started writing in the most structured way possible. The process became all about sturdy building blocks; bricks to convert fantastical thoughts into sensible non fiction.
I taught myself to write book, music and event reviews, revelling in the learning process and the safety of the structure.
Something was missing however and a part of me wanted to fly; to walk away from the rules and channel all the strangeness into a ‘something’, so I once again started to create art works from bones and the waste products of society.
I would write, all form and order and structure, then throw all those rules out the window when I created an accompanying sculpture.
When I had my first book published I thought that my life would change, but it seemed to make little difference.
I kept writing but somehow the words didn’t hold as much power and joy for me.
O I still loved words, but I rebelled against then. I wanted colour and adventure, I was fed up with rules and regulations, I wanted to switch off my head.
So I surrounded myself with beads and bones and the rubbish of others, and made sculptures.
On occasion I would meet a creative companion, someone who wanted to play. We would throw words like hunks of coloured play-doh at walls to see what patterns could be made; we could add music and light shows to sentences and phrases and perhaps a naked dancer wearing an atavistic mask would run across our alphabet splattered coloured paper.
However these collaborative word rain slicks were random things, and I wanted a constant colour pop, so I now keep the words rumbling as a background white noise, and focus on creating art. Except in winter. Winter is the time when words rule.

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Creativity is a Comely, but Harsh Mistress

33AD33A0-F9E2-4DD9-AF73-FAF8ABB9D063I was recently alerted to a news clip about an artist who was poisoned by the mussel shells that she had been using for years in her sculptures.
She was suffering from heavy mental poisoning as shells and bones,and particularly mussel shells, absorb toxins from their environment.
This woman’s work was stunning, and sad to say I wasn’t surprised by the fact that nature is now so contaminated with mankind’s poisons. What also intrigued me about the article was the fact that even with the knowledge that her materials were making her horrible ill, the artist struggled to finish the piece that she was working on using these toxic shells.
As an untrained artist who works with natural products I’m very much affiliated to the trial and error mode of working.
I’ve had more than a few occasions when I’ve become terribly sick; often only becoming aware that something was amiss when my short term memory was affected as aching muscles and immune system related problems were something I would confuse with the hep C which I then had.
However even when my health deteriorated to the point where I’ve been hospitalised, I would come home and continue to work with the same materials.
I’m a fast study as to the cause of what makes me ill, and all the examples I’ve given were from years ago, although whether I’ve been fast enough remains to be seen in the long term. In the case mentioned above I wasn’t using a good enough mask to deal with solvents that I was using. In other instances I was inadvertently working with animals that had been poisoned, and on another occasion I became ill after close contact with the gases from the decomposition of a badger.
However I kept on making.
Now I never had been able to understand patriotism and being willing to die for one’s country. I’ve also never been able to understand those who refuse to let go of their faith even when under threat of abuse, torture or death.
Maybe the creation of art impassions the same sort of non negotiable necessary fanaticism as love of country or unswerving faith?
Lead from paint is considered to be a major contributor to the deaths of Caravaggio, Goya and perhaps Van Gogh but if they had realised its toxicity, would they have stopped using those paints?
On one hand when you’re young and caught up in a creative frenzy its easy to think yourself invincible and get careless but as one ages even though more care may be taken, the thought of stopping using a favourite material is an anathema.
There is a quote I paraphrase way too much, but I’m going to use it yet again. It’s from Francis Huxley’s rather unfortunately named book “Affable Savages’ where he talks of a South American tribe who believed that the gods only tolerate men, with their violent and destructive ways, because we create beautiful things for them.
I completely believe this, and will continue to try and create beautiful things for the gods because that is what I love to do and it completes me.
Creativity is a rewarding, but sometimes harsh mistress and she can have very, very sharp teeth.

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Creative Expression-Necessary Action

F88D0D62-345D-465D-86DC-7C7AAFA78DB3My blog has always been a bit of an overly personalised ramble and I’ve recently decided to make it more specific to my art and spirituality (though I’m sure the occasional piece of introspection will creep in, as this the nature of ‘me’).
This has been in the back of my mind for some time, and as winter for me is more about words and writing as an expression of my art, it seemed the perfect time to start on this. The decisive catalyst came on one of my rare visits to my hairdresser where I was asked whether my somewhat chequered past was what triggered my need to be an artist.
I believe I’ve always been an artist. This isn’t an academic essay otherwise there would probably now be a need to have an actual definition of what constitutes an artist. I think John Cale said it was simply an unnecessary creative action, so for instance a nail technician could be considered an artist.
I can see where Cale is coming from, but I tend to see art as a very necessary creative expression. Whether the end result is seen to be a frivolity or an essential, the act of expressing must occur otherwise the creator feels unfulfilled, incomplete and bereft.
In this light it could be seen as an aspect of spirituality; if the urge is unacknowledged the person or artist in question suffers. The act of creation is an act of self completion.
Of course I’m talking from my own personal experience here.
There have been times when I’ve written out my depression and exorcised something from deep inside myself that was making me terribly unhappy. I think there is nestled somewhere in these blogs at least one piece of writing where I was deeply unhappy to the point of being suicidal, and the act of writing it down, writing it out, brought me out of my depressive spiral.
Other times when I’ve been dragging around my dark clouds, my black dogs and my mean reds, and I switched off my head and started working on a sculpture or creature, everything has cleared as I’ve channelled into the process of ‘making’.
I’m not a premeditated and structured writer or artist. Sure I write or create with occasional direction or with a key focus in mind, but for me it is about flow. I open myself up and out it comes. Like a possession of sorts.
Of course this can lead to hit and miss results and can sometimes alienate readers and viewers whilst I get caught in a loop or maze until a reconciliation or relief is achieved, but that is how I work and what works for me.
As a child I was introverted,intelligent, odd and solitary- creative yes, artistic no.
My father was very good at drawing, as was my sister who followed her muse from early childhood, and my mother was a trained musician who walked away from it and fell into her mind rather than translated herself through art.
I could write and I was clever, and from puberty I was primarily, fucked up.
I continuously wrote through those messed up years, and on occasion I made strange creatures with bones and feathers, but it wasn’t until early forties when I was curating my first exhibition that I realised that this was who I was supposed to be, and where I was supposed to be.
Some years later, after my mother died, I went through a long period of emotional pain with much analysis of what life was actually about.
I decided it was creativity; creative acts to balance out the destructivity which our race perpetuates.
For some this comes through having children, for others it is gardening or singing or building shrines, and for me it is making things from words and making sculptures from the dead, the discarded and the forgotten.
Necessary action.

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Age is Natural Progression

DA0067CA-7937-4C89-AD16-BECAEE35189EI long ago became used to my loss of conventional beauty as I became older, although I am still constantly entertained, surprised and occasionally horrified by ongoing age related physical manifestations. A few days of not enough sleep, unhealthy food, and too much stress will generally result  in my being greeted in the morning by an unfortunate and ravaged reflection.
However I’m not writing about the physical aspects of ageing, nor the psychological and emotional adjustments that need to be made to cope with them.
Those who read this blog have probably noticed there is a lot about my past written here. Things I did in my days of active drug use and written portraits of those who had an impact on me or died in their youth, perhaps convey the impression that the past is the place I am more comfortable living in because things were always ‘happening’, albeit in a painful and crazy way.
I work with patterns, in my art and to a degree in my life. Sometimes I look at things in retrospect to try and gain an insight into the present, and sometimes I get lost in those patterns for a while until I find a place of clarity.
When I was younger I wrote lists of goals and dreams and desires and now I feel the need to again write things down and re-evaluate where I’m at. It seems so many people and parts of my life have dropped away recently due to the natural process of entropy (rather than through mad and disturbed action), and my needs, wants and values have dramatically changed.
I no longer put onus on sexual relationships to provide meaning in my life and to tell the truth what little sexual confidence I ever had, has disappeared with my looks, although of course I now have more confidence in other parts of my life and being.
So friendships and my own independence, creativity and strength have been my relationship focus for many years now.
However there has been this falling way that I previously mentioned and while that is the nature of existence, it is disconcerting and creates an intense awareness of how short life is.
I’m aware of a greater need to exercise my mind and body to keep them strong, and have also noticed that as time passes so much more quickly, patterns of sameness become engrained and a proverbial rut isn’t noticed for so much longer.
Always a giver I have done some sort of ‘service’ within the community since my early teens. Working with the elderly, assisting in refugee camps and homeless hostels…the list goes on and on until ten years ago or so when I drifted out of this role. I have no children, my rescue resident animal companions grew old and died and it seemed irresponsible to get more as I travel so much, and work became my priority,  so a selfishness of sorts gradually took over my life.
I realised that as I have became older giving became more orientated around the material because it takes less time. I give via direct debit, donate to funding campaigns and sign online petitions but there is not the commitment that comes from direct contact.
Some of this perhaps may also be the time lost through social networking and dicking around on my smart phone (two hours a day plus, and that is not purely for work) but a lot of it is about time being so important it is easier to give money than make a sacrifice of minutes or hours.
Even my travelling has become truncated- more geared towards the fast sensational experience rather than the intense cultural and social submersion which I experienced when I was younger.
Not being on anti depressants has made me more aware but I also realise in that Catch 22 way, you’d have to be crazy not to be depressed in this world where humanity seem to have reached the peak of destructiveness and stupidity. I’m cognisant of course that this realisation may well be to do with age, insight and learned knowledge as I’m pretty sure there was an archaic Greek gentleman or two who made the same observations about mankind.
So today I will make a list. A list of necessary change and progression- time is precious and I want to use and appreciate it for as long as possible, rather than allow it to drift or be taken away from me.

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South London Percussion

DCDD768D-68CD-40F0-A941-F829D5A16310

As I grow older I remember more clearly the many faces and personalities of people that I used to know, although I’m well aware that thinking backwards can change the shape and texture of memory.
Time whizzes past at a steadily accelerating pace, and it is apparent how short life is, and how our time in this world is very much built on the bones of the past and the dead. It is our choice whether we use these bones as fertiliser for a bright new future, or whether they  become an anchor for repeat loop living.
This is about someone I knew when I was living in South London in the 1980’s/90’s

In my day there were two types of dealers to buy your drugs from. There were the professionals, who didn’t use drugs and were in the business purely to make money, and those who did it to fund their own habits.
The professional dealers were often violent and hair trigger dangerous and this instability intensified as crack became a common street drug. With these men, and it was always men, you would call a phone number and arrange a rendezvous. You would then meet in neutral territory (generally outside), complete the transaction and frantically find the nearest public toilet to consume your purchase.
Dealers that used drugs themselves were another matter. Whilst there was still a possibility of getting stung by them, this was balanced by their ability to give you a description of the strength of the drugs that you were buying. If you were part of the inner circle you could buy your fix from their home and sometimes be allowed to consume it there. The dealer would supply the water, spoon and even a clean needle if the stars favoured you on that day.
I had been buying drugs from a junkie friend called Johnny for ages, who would Act as a middleman for another dealer whom I desperately wanted to get to know personally. I was well aware that Johnny was skimming large quantities of heroin off me every time I gave him money to score on my behalf and I wasn’t in a position financially to let that continue.
Obviously it was in Johnny’s interest that I never met his dealer but when he went back to Greenock to visit his family, I finally had the chance to meet the man at the top of the personal user food chain.
This man was called Stuart and he was a long term heroin addict. He was short and slight with dark hair and a beard; good looking in a Charles Manson-ish way.
He was a professional drummer and a very good one until his habit ate away all parts of his life that wasn’t focused on drug consumption.
He had a girlfriend, a blonde pretty New Zealand woman who was a nurse, a profession that obviously had its benefits for an addict.
However as her drug habit became worse and she started to look more addled, she lost her job. She rapidly transformed from a healthy, resilient young woman to the female junkie stereotype who rarely went out and relied on her partner to supply and inject her drugs, all the while constantly whining with that grating vocal pitch which is specific to heroin addicts.
Some time after I first met them both she contacted flesh eating disease after injecting into a vein in her breast; most of her chest was eaten away before the infection was arrested.
She was quite open about this and often showed her destroyed breast to customers of Stuart’s. It was so horrible that even I, with my love of the macabre have blocked out the memory.
They lived in a red brick Victorian flat the inside of which was typical of a certain type of addict of that era, with its mess of books, videos, records, overflowing ashtrays and a bed that acted as a sofa.
I suspect that I flirted with Stuart, much as I am loath to admit it. We did become friends, well, as much friends as heroin addicts can be. When I became engaged to the man who managed the pub that I worked in, I remember all my junkie ‘crew’ saying that I was mad (though Stuart alone seemed to realise that I was doing this in a bid to be saved from my addiction)and I realised that my imminent marriage to a straight was fuelling much judgemental gossipy within the the local heroin using community.
My wedding was at Peckham Rye Registry office and I was at Stuart’s door first thing that morning for supplies to get me through the event, and returned immediately after the wedding for something to see me through the reception.
I carried on visiting Stuart after my husband and I moved to Kent. Whenever I had money I would take a train to see him, spending a stoned afternoon at his flat whilst various people who would pop by on ‘business’.
I actually felt as if these visits were reconnecting with my kin as I seemed to have more in common with the stoned residents of this Tulse Hill apartment than with my husband’s hard drinking, amphetamine taking companions from the Housing Estate in Dartford that I had moved to.
After I went to rehab I had a few brief periods where I would find out what was happening within my old peer group.
Stuart’s girlfriend moved back to New Zealand as her visa had expired and I suspect, she knew she had to leave in order to have any hope of cleaning up.
The last I heard of Stuart, he was unable to get off drugs by himself which was a prerequisite of getting accepted to a rehab, so he injected the opiate antagonist narcane to bring on withdrawals, then called the ambulance before he started convulsing. Hopefully this worked for him and he ended up being detoxed in a hospital before going to a treatment centre.
Perhaps he survived, cleaned up, and has become the musician that he wanted to be; I’d like to think that one of the songs that play on my radio, has Stuart providing the drumbeat.

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When The Drugs Don’t Work

2892E2FF-0F02-4F7E-B620-53253CE1859A.jpegIt’s been a long while since I last wrote here. Time is moving more quickly as I age and I realise that I’m living in my future and anything that needs to be done, must be done now, before I blink and ten years have passed.
I’m presently well established in my anti depressant free life and exploring its options and poking in new experiential corners.
I’m not depressed but I do feel, and feel more deeply, which takes some getting used to. I have lost my immunity to the emotionally manipulative memes, news clips and animal protection advertisements that float around the artificial aether, frequently finding myself in tears when I’m fool enough to let my time (see above) get gobbled by computer browsing.
I received my confirmation that my hep C is officially cleared, and I am no longer a necessary client of my local hospital so the physiological need for the drugs is gone, and now it is about dealing with life and all its happenings as best I can.
In some ways it seems harder as I get older as people around me die, become ill or realise that if change is needed it must occur immediately, so they move on or away, and all this must be managed and dealt with.
I learned non drug related ways to cope years ago, before I became overwhelmed and needed chemical help, so now I must relearn these techniques.
Soon after coming off the citalapram I managed to pile up some debt in a short period of time as spending as an emotional survival technique came all too easily, as did overeating and sugar drugging.
However I became aware of these proverbial slippery slopes pretty quickly and started reaching into my dusty bag of tricks finding my beloved yoga, and AA, which I have started going to again.
I clicked that drinking and using drugs would always remain an option in some part of my psyche so it seemed best to be aware of that, although it has been near 23 years since I cleaned up. Also, although it wasn’t necessarily the right approach for me, the fellowship did once help me live in the mainstream world, so acknowledging that and going back for a while seemed a good move.
Yoga, well yoga is a longstanding love affair of mine, and I have been very lax for way too long in my acknowledgment of this relationship. Aside from helping my strength and flexibility the practice gives me a joy and awareness of my body like no other, and experiencing reality as an integrated person is a necessary joy that I intend to explore and appreciate as long as I can.
I suspect that getting the drugs fully out of my system will take a while, so having a lingering cold and some rather adolescent spots appear is par for the course (though said pimples could of course be a result of the aforementioned sugar binges).
I’ve been able to flow more easily into my art and yes, my memory has returned although I am working at training it up and challenging my mind again, but that’s a longer term plan.
Perhaps this is rather short blog but being able to flow into words has been one of the last things to return and I suspect it will be a new pattern of communication that will emerge, but initially there will be clumsy explorations and experimentations which should be fun and at stages a bit frustrating and invariably illuminating.
Thus written, a synopsis of where I’m at. A start and a change so a new story with an established beginning and multiple possibilities of plot and conclusion.

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