Marlbank, a small eastern Ontario village of barely two hundred folks, now most known for it’s history as a concrete producer, and its annual lumberjack competition, once was the haven of a band of a gypsies, living on the waterfront of Lime Lake. Nested and invested in the woods that skirt Moneymore Rd, they started a large beeswax candle making factory, inside a century old barn on over 200 acres of mixed and limestone plain. On this land, were several pastures, man-made ponds, moraine valleys, and marl deposits. This was the central hub for the Philoxian operations during their heyday from the 80’s on-wards to the early 2010’s. A large mansion, tree-house, golf course, bakery and organic restaurant, craft workshop, cement factory, and wellness center were also incorporated into the landscape. The Philoxian kingdom was the brainchild of one man, but evolved into a whole community, inhabited by men, women, children, exotic animals, tourists, workers, musicians and artists. What started as a back-to-the-land movement, grew into an entire mythology of being. Hearkening back to ancestral traditions, and bridging new wave humanitarian ethics, the Philoxians fused together a blend of old cultural values, and aesthetics into their own reality, guided by love, and creation.
The original Philoxians were artistic creators, dreamers, farmers, talented musicians, crafters, workers, travelers, visionaries and bridgers of worlds. Their language and speech reminds one of Nelson Mandela, or Gandhi, in tone and ethic. A do-no-harm, ahimsa/Buddhist approach to living with the earth, and its creatures. Many of them catered to the fantastical world, of legends, pre-history, storytelling, and the youthful innocence found embodied in children. They wrote books of far fetched, real grit adventures in the South Americas and Arabic worlds, that would please any Castaneda or Coelho reader without disenfranchising the dogmas of the Qu’ran, the Bible, and ancient Egyptian scrolls, all bound up together. Though their ideas were quite universalist, they were still rather refined, and carried a philosophy of living closely to the natural world as its main tenet. Members of the community grew productive vegetable, herb and fruit gardens, looked after the heartbeats of many animals in their sanctuary zoo, built natural infrastructure from indigenous resources like clay, wood and bio-cement. They wore natural clothing fibers, and played the music of nature, with old and new instruments, syncing up several ethnic styles into their house band.
I only discovered of the existence of ‘The Philoxians’ and their offshoots last year, and many important details have since emerged; The truths of what broke them apart, and the sobering realities of living among others in a community. The truth of the matter is what they did do, was more than they didn’t do, and rather than follow idle paths of individualism chasing fame, status, profession, riches, or corporate interest. They chose a more modest path of sacred economy, trade, and adopted heritage, often taking pseudonyms, and promoted sustainability, spiritual arts, and good old fashioned, bronze age harmony and worship of the sacral. Their ideas did not rest simply in the realm of potential, but were manifested, and actualized in the material world, condensed down from the spiritual to the realm of the middle earth of humankind.
Like the great siberian shaman, santa klaus, and his winter elves, who were tinkerers and crafters, the Philoxians also had dexterity and skill. So they carved, painted, built, and tooled what their minds eye set them out to do. During the colder months of this Canadian climate, they spent time in their workshops, making children’s toys, painting fantasy-esque and storied art pieces, told stories, and phonetically rendered them down into books. They tended the beeswax warehouse, overwintered the many beasts that shared the land with them, and often traveled to the ancient spaces of the earth, pyramid temple cities, Mayan cenotes, the Egyptian deserts, cool utopian shores of Meso-america. One outstanding feature of the Philoxian kingdom was its animal haven.
Many old timers here in Marlbank remember the exotic zoo, for its camels, wallabies, llama, pigs, goats, wolves, bears, rhea birds, reticulated pythons, alpaca, tigers, tropical avifauna, goats and other furry, clawed or scaled beings. Some of these animals also made the news, like when the Australian wallaby escaped into the countryside of Marlbank, as well as the Siberian tiger, and the Alpaca. Sadly for the last, he was shot by a group of hunters, thinking it was a white tail deer. The story goes, that one of the iguana even started one of the fires the burned down the old farm house (accidentally), by knocking over a heat lamp. Fact or fiction?
Whether it is all true or not, the stories live on in remnants, in memories, in developed photographs, in legacy, and artifacts of which Ilahzandroff had many from his travels abroad. Egyptian metals, Mayan carvings, statues, crystals, and rare treasures, all kept in some kind of sacred world history museum. Their personal collections were some form of Ripleys believe-it-or-not assembly of objects, while the Philoxian stories are so steeped in mythos, that one has to engage a lofty imagination to comprehend such experiences. Luckily, as I read through many of Ilah’s stories in his Alpha, Mu, Omega book, I could directly relate to the peasant lifestyles he merged with surrounding Lake Atitlan in Guatemalan, the Arabic secrecy and hospitality, he experienced in Africa, or the mysterious Mayan landmarks and sanguine, often paradisical feelings of the tropical havens. I could easily empathize with his struggles and breakthroughs, the tragedies of sickness in a foreign country, the exposure to novel culture, the bliss of untamed spaces, and the nomadic, voyagers instinct that still rest deep within every human being to explore, go further, and learn something new everyday. Many of the sacred sites that Ilah, Tawlia, and their crew visited on their travels, I have actually been to in the world, for even as a younger man, I chose to see some of the world (on my own vocation), usually alone, and probing to the heart of the matter to really discover what was to be seen, felt and experienced. Perhaps this is why I am so drawn and moved by the Philoxian myth, because the way we each live our lives may also one day be interpreted, studied, influence others, provoke feeling, and be retold. So it is up to people like the Philoxians, with whom I can identify, to actually create the world we want to live in. In direct experience with karma, family, and the present moment.
At the tail end of this winter, I became friends with Ilah’s ex wife Tawlia, and learned of his passing, and the recent sale of his house. With many years in honor and friendship between Tawlia and the Golden Bough Tree Farm. Space was offered to house the many Philoxian relics. With no place to go for the paintings, and because of my recent friendship with Tawlia and the interest in the many stories she shared of the Philoxian narrative, I suddenly became the curator of a Philoxian gallery and museum, now installed in a century old carriage house, at the tree farm where I also presently reside. The museum also houses the original Philoxian rocking unicorn, a feature of many trade shows, as well as several examples of the Philoxian signs, and old art pieces, affixed plaques from archived newspapers, beeswax candles and holders, a light theater box, and one of Ilah’s last works, a 100 foot scroll telling his final visions for the continuation of the Philoxian greater work. I am now working to promote more interest in these relics, retelling some of the stories, and gallery and museum walks, which I feel would be highly attractive to like minded souls.
*Here is an old video of Ilah talking about Philoxia for a feature called The Land Between; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0rvRCBMjxh8
I was thinking the other day about what it means to have a social life when you live on a farm, and just the kind of social lifeway a farmer has and the relationship with the land on which they inhabit. There is a myth that farmers are backwards folk who don’t really have any friends, are perpetually lonely, less educated and with a low intelligence. I think this is pretty far fetched, and a shot way clear of the mark. In speaking of these country dwellers, I mean to include the masculine and feminine in representation of the farmer archetype. Just a couple nights ago, I was asked by a dear friend if I felt lonely, on the farm, and who I take my company with, if not on my own. This kind of tangiered into a branching of different thoughts about my own social life, and where a farmer finds their outlet for socializing.
For the urban population, it is common to mingle with hundreds of different people everyday, and each new day several other hundreds of individuals that can be come into contact with, each with their own unique persona, ideas, philosophies, ideologies, religions, beliefs, styles, professions, families, personal histories, karmas, relationships, associations, etc. This can be a dizzying perspective for a single person to grock. Bonds are loose and moral responsibility is thin to any one individual, because their relationships are diluted thinly to include a morass of others into their social circles, not to mention their online following, and long distance connections through social media. The staggering amount of base conversation that can occur in a single 24-hour time period is nearly overwhelming. We are deep into the communication age, and urban people are inundated with tremendous amounts of information and opinions, and quickened communication in their workplaces, that more often than not are just transitory and ephemeral voices that don’t impact on one’s psycheto any great importance. Then to fill this void, one will invite company, or “go out” to express their social mores in the metropolis in ways that can not be gleaned from going in. The social life of the city dweller is made with haste, like instant yeast, that swells to proportions in which inclusion of the other is extended beyond the emotionally sustainable limit, and leaves one feeling lonely even amongst the masses. The weariness of things unsaid, the deep and profound words that rarely get a space and time to be shared amongst bar room banter, office discourse and coffee shop chit chat do not seem to get to the root of the social beings that we are as humans. They leave us hungry for more, and often result in a kind of egoic identity that does not speak to share, and form unity but talks into order to hear oneself, and heighten ones self image. Observations are easy enough to see. City people speak faster and with less enunciation than rural farming folk, and only tend to linger over the commonalities of modern society, while making sure all words spoken are filtered through political correctness, and absolutely dissolved of any taboo or spiritual vein whatsoever.
In the absence of instantly available social hubs, and the lack of rapid communication systems, it frees up a lot of time to contemplate and appreciate life, rather than talk so much about it. It is regaled to the feeling senses more than the occupation of the mind. Gossip is not really a mainstay of a farmers social life because relatively speaking, connections are few but close, and it would be detrimental to acquire a bad reputation, there is less anonymity in a farming community, as opposed to an urban environment when anonymous encounters are commonplace. A homesteader friend of mine in Vermont once told me, “you get a lot done, without hi-speed internet”, he meant this in a practical workaday manner, but it also applies to social life. Without the crux of constantly being online, farmers and their friends turn to each other and talk over the days chores, while jarring maple syrup, collecting eggs, grooming cows, or weeding. Conversations tend to just pick up where they left off the last time, and there is no beginning or end to a subject discussed, only segways into many diverse topics.
A farmer will tend to make voice to their mind in a much slower fashion, speaking wise words or none at all, and find his company not in the bright lights of the night life, and novel thrills of the metropolis, but the slow motion appreciation of organic change on his/her homestead, and farm, with the circle of other farmers who just ‘get it’, and with those eclectic souls who live on the outskirts, and don’t mind provoking or speaking about the sensitive and tricky subjects that everyone thinks about. The genre of their tongue is altogether different. In any given day a farmer might talk about the weather, the plants and the animals, but also wax greatly on topics like like evolution, sex, travel, spiritual tradition, all the most interesting conversations really. On the farm, in the absence of authorities and public eyes, communication breaks from its culturally sanctioned shell and is allowed to be free of rules, time restrictions, or limitations.
A farmer does not experience loneliness in the same way a city person does. Where he may by all means feel alone, and experience vast amounts of solitude, he rarely needs to confront loneliness because he makes his company in the presence of his present companions, the animals, his work, the spiritual beings of the land, the moods of the weather share in his mindset, and the plants talk to him, in a metaphorical sense, when he takes a keen conservation of their own language. His friends are also near, maybe down the road, or the ones he sees on the weekends at the market, thus breeding a familiarity of context in their social sphere. The farmers social life is integral to where he is, as he makes a bio-regional pact to living and loving one place for a very long time, and commits himself to deepening the relationships with that place, carefully sliding into his niche wherein he finds the solace of a friend in those wild and cultivated spaces. This idea was also espoused by Thoreau, of making companion with ones home. Of course, there are social connections on the farm with other people, and these tend to be of the same type; interns, neighboring land keepers, local hunters and foragers in the area, travelers that visit the farm, or customers that loyally support the business. It can revolve around some aspect of planning, maybe discussing a planting calendar. A farmer learns practical things every time he trades words with another; where to find the edible berries, what animals are in season to hunt, the forecast for harvest, possible celestial events. The kind of dynamics of a farm social is usually practical, and happens simultaneously along with working, or as a result of the work. Thus there is a focalizing center, and even a brand of dialect on the farm, as it is an integral unit in and of itself.
In the case of the city person, it is hard to fathom these form of relations, they tend to a view that it is dull, boring, and limited, because they need constant communication, novelty and thrills, and silence remains a hard prospect to have. Ask any urban dweller to just do nothing, or be in complete solitude for even a few minutes, and they will start becoming unglued. The kind of questioning I often get is related to those I quoted earlier, “what do you do will all your time? is a big one, or “where are all of your friends?”. As someone that does not have a social media presence, outside of this journal, I am not a ‘collector’ of friends via the standard means used today (a.k.a. facebook, twitter, snapchat etc.) The lastingness of social media is so ephemeral, that there is even apps that instantly delete your conversation seconds after it happen. It can be argued if these are even true social means at all, because they are so incredibly new to us a communal species.
We all evolved and originated from small intensive tribal units, and some studies have shown that we are not even capable of forming lasting relationships with more than 50 individuals at any one time. This is because we adapted to be hard wired for closely knit clanic connections with our locality, tribal gatherings, small family hamlets, and so forth. Whereas in the digital age, it is not uncommon for someone to have upwards of thousands of ‘friends’ in their revolving social spheres, not to mention the co-workers, strangers, business associates, etc. that one intermingles with everyday. This creates a whole culture of alienation, where lasting relationships are extremely hard to come across, and unclaimed conversation never allows real and radical communication to flourish.
The reality of modern social life is rather illusory and ephemeral, as people feed on constant instant gratification reward circuits and this reflects back to intimate love partnerships as well. There is less time to process the thoughts and ideas, as they rush through and therefore don’t stay around long enough to be integrated or involved in any practical way in real life. Relationships fall apart because of broken communication. A societies social life is bound to only send shallow roots into the collective unconscious, rather than mining the deep well, for pure and original inspirations. City folk communicate in abbreviated tongues, fast flowing memes, and slang. A farmer distills the essence of what he wants to say when he wants to say it, and their is great weight and perspicacity in their words. On a farm, communication occurs naturally as a result of what is going on in a dynamic and holistic way, rather than preternaturally as a means to an end.
So these are just a few of my own biased visions I witness on the social life of a farmer, and the nature of communication that exists on a farm, in comparison to that of an urban dweller. You may have your own conceptions of this, and each perspective can have strong grains of truth in them. But it is my answer to the question of what kind of a social world a farmer lives in.
In various world cultures, the ungulate horned beasts have always been revered for their seemingly supranormal nature, and phenomenal aspects, not only from a biological and anatomical perspective but from a spiritual and mythical incline as well. The Celts worshipped Cernunnos, the horned god, the caves of Lascaux, France are painted in earth pigments of primordial beasts wearing horns and fauna with antlers, the Hindu still consider the cow to be sacred, and herding cattle are regarded as integral to African desert societies, the Aryans of the hyperborea held great mystique over the now extinct Aurochs, the predecessor of todays bovine family, and the Sami call their reindeer sacred. Myths and stories about in Scottish highland culture of the white stag, while other masculine horned creatures are to be found portrayed in northern Scandinavian lore, Thor’s goats, Audhumbla, there is something mysterious and awe filled about these beings, and it is in truth that the magic mushrooms grow in the dung of horned and hoofed ruminants, i.e. cattle, goats, bison, etc. The horns and hooves are essentially made of the same material, it is a derivative of hair, an article in itself to show the mythical allegory of long strong hair and importance of hair to the ancients would be needed to go further into such a subject, but this one is about the horns, and of one animal in particular, the cow.
The cow is the primordial giant, and even when megafauna walked the earth like mammoths, and cave bears, there was the aurochs, a massive animal that was much more muscular and larger framed than the modern cattle, it was wild and ate its sustenance from the forest, not grasslands and meadows. It also fought and had quite a veracious bout of testosterone fueled aggression and defense which inevitable would have helped it to survive many ages against predators like dire wolves, and sabertooths. The modern hindu ox is probably the closest we have to the ancient aurochs genetically speaking, and the East Indians know exactly why the cow is to be considered so important, and what this essay is all about. That is, the special forces and effects of the cow horn, and in this case, how that relates to agriculture.
At this time in my life, I have chosen to be free from a nomadic existence and settle into a more sedentary albeit homely sort of lifestyle. Adhering to old principles of seeking land, and connecting deeply to one bioregion. Farming has been a strong tie of tradition for me in the last five years, and the culmination of which I have landed for the year on a biodynamic farm based on the principals of rudolf steiner’s teachings. Steiner was a strong proponent of raising cattle, and using all parts of domestic livestock in what he referred to ‘the biodynamic preparations. On a biodynamic farm, all life functions as a single organic unit, and the farm is an entity in a balanced state that can use everything made from upon it and the grows within its bounds. The animals are incorporated as coworkers, and plant mixtures are made to ensure the health of the soil. Such herbs like valerian, dandelion, yarrow, nettle, horsetail and chamomile, as well as cow manure, crystal powdered quartz, and oak bark are all packed into horns. The horn as a central tenet of biodynamic farming is what I wish to highlight here.
Steiner, and later, his proponents and teachers of biodynamic agriculture espoused that horns carried the latent force of the cows digestive system. The sheathed horn of the free range cow, that eats a biologically appropriate diet is connected via the lymphatic system to the four stomachs and the rumen of the cow, that means that the horn as an agent of digestion, and enzymatic breakdown of nutrients happens on the outside of the body as well as on the inside, or as above and so below. The cattle horns are linked to the gut system, and so carries the memory as well of the food processing, and alchemical breakdown of the prima materia, so to speak. The grass, tubers, insects, vegetables, clay and grain amongst other things that cattle eat on a daily basis move through all the stomachs, and are chewed a second time as cud, then cycles through the stomachs again. The horns act as a post-mortem replication of the digestive tract, as they serve as a carrier for fermented plant substances like the earlier herbs described, the fresh manure, and ground up mineral like the silicate of the quartz. When buried underground in the auspicious times of right alignment, usually around the winter solstice, and coinciding with other planetary and lunar events, they begin to work their magic, and literally alchemize the matter within into something altogether different. A potent soil, biodynamically rendered, aged, and transformed by bacterial microbes, life enriching nitrogens and a varied flora in its microbiome. The horn does this because it had stored the processing power of the nervous and digestive system within its capillaries, and still ‘lives’ to a degree even when off the animal. Further, the horn must be from a female cow, or sow, who has already given birth, whose hormonal shifted has triggered lactation and the chemical compounds that literally transform a calf into a mother cow. The inside core of the horn which is mostly porous bone is also useful, and one friend has suggested its potential use as a water filtration system, as it can collect pollutants or toxins from water free flowing through its cavity. The spiraled shape of the horn also would activate and charge the water as it pours or drips through it.
Besides the biopreparations, there are a slew of other practical and cosmic importances of the cow horns, that should be spoken of. The horn serves as a conduit for orientation in cows, as they roam fields, forest, and meadows in search of grass
and habitation. A cow with fully developed horns will be much more in tune with his or her natural environment, that is because the horns acts as a kind of bio-antenae to geographically position itself in space, in this case, the cultivated and feral land. With the horns, a cow is about to locate water, like dowsing with rods, it is the same concept, their are magnetically polarized and have an electrical force that pumps with the blood and water constantly running through the horns. In nature, like substances attract, and thus the horns will aid the cow in finding ponds, streams, springs or watersheds to drink from. They may also help in finding salt deposits, because of the mineral attraction of keratine and absorption of hair with soluble saline/silica substances, like certain rocks or the equisetum, a.k.a. horsetail plant.
Horns act as defense mechanisms and usually can be found with many scars and battle wounds on them, because they are used to fight other bulls for dominance over their harem. Dehorned cattle often lose this hierarchical structure of dominance, like the pecking order, and will often still fight but end up injuring each other to greater degree as they ram each others stomach region, even so as it sometimes will cause still birth. A cow without horns can prevent the population growth, and increase death rates of other cows. So the male horns represent the active, protective and aggressive force, while the female horns represent the nourishing, provider force, after they have calved. They can be used accordingly in agri-spiritual practice.
Two horns on the head also serve as sensory attachments, and are used to detect minute changes in weather, and danger. A cow with horns will often be seen to find a low valley or sheltered spot when inclement and storming weather is approaching, one without will merely sit down in place in confusion and not move unless further instigated by his herd. Therefore the horns are as indicators of the mood of the weather, such as they are used biodynamically with lunar and stellar alignments, they are cosmically connected to the spatial realm that is influenced by non terrestrial forces. The spiral of the horn can be found in many other animistic forms, like the spiral of an ammonite or snail shell, mesquite tree rings, the flower of life in the central flowering bud of a dandelion, and so show an inclination to sacred geometry in their expression. A further few notes about the properties of horns would include their use in instrument and tool making, and as a vessel. Below I have prepared some drinking horns and raw cored horns for use in the plant composts. By boiling the horns I was able to remove the boney core for use in filtering, and therefore gain the sheath for craft and agricultural use. By sanding and polishing them I could expose the mutli-colored grain of the horns as a particularly gray or ruddy colored horn can reveal streaks of blue, purple, red, orange, and gold. Sealed in wax, they can be used to hold ale, and have been traditionally drunk from with mead, in old Viking and Teutonic iron age societies.
The horns seem to be one of the most sensitive parts of the cow, next to the genitals of course. If you have ever tried to grab the horns of a cow, male or female, they often pull their head away before you have a chance of touching them. They can perceive movement just like our fingers and extremities touch the boundaries of our personal space bubbles, and define our surroundings by how we move within it. I am experimenting with creating a horn dust that also serves a cosmic/fire/fruit principle when applied to plants, that may help in producing better harvest of fruiting plants or healthier and more expressive orchard trees. The marrow inside the horns can also be rendered chemically similar to ashing, by making a ‘bone sauce’ whereby marrow (fat) that is inert inside the bone of the horn can change substance when heated from without, in an iron pot surrounded by fire and allowed to drip out of the bone and be collected subterraneanly. This makes a carrion smelling liquid substance that can be flicked onto bushes, trees and around the perimeter of herbs gardens to protect from browsers and grazers like deer, rabbits, and raccoons. Even after death, the cow horns are still defending territory.
Such are some of the miraculous properties of horns and their use in the field of agriculture and pagan traditions. New methods for the use of horn are still surfacing, and the importance of this relics of transformational power are only still loosely understood.
Hey brother, we knew each other for almost five years, drank mead and fireball like wolves on the solstice nights at ‘the spot’ by the lake, hiked the woods of Rattlesnake Point, and walked beside the Credit River. The women came and went, and we stayed true to brotherhood in the end. We went to every metal gig in Toronto we could manage, and had some mutual friends. Our ways branched off in a tree planting camp several years ago, when I went back to Texas, and you went home. Wondering if you still live in the province, Ryan Pryde? What are you doing with your life?
Unless you’ve been to the Asiatic steppe of Mongolia and Tibet, you may not know what a yurt is. Actually they have been a primary dwelling space even back when Genghis Khan ruled the Mongol emprie, and they are round, made of indigenous materials and can be built down and transported across the land, hearkening back to the times when the Kazakh hunters and nomadic Mongolian peoples roamed across the land with their camels, yaks, and few possessions. These beautiful curved structures have no corners and only one wall that surrounds the circular space within. The walls are made of heavy canvas, traditionally probably made of leather pelts, inside is a think felted wool of sheep, with the inside braces hand cut of wood, tied with camel rawhide, held together with horsehair around the perimeter of the wall, on top the urgh which is a weather protective cover is painted with the unending knot, one that weaves into itself, and the interior yurt poles are also painted with designs of dunes, clouds, waves, and flowing steppe grass, at least these are the images I see. It is held up in the middle of the hut by two beams, almost like an Irminsul pole. They are functional in four seasons, are elegantly beautiful, they also have a propensity to increase dream frequency.
I have made one of these small yurts my winter home and have now been in the northern Ontario forest for almost a month, lending my two hands and the fire of my accumulated skill and luck to some new friends who are trying to get off grid, and gather a small hamlet around them while subsisting off the land, and growing their own family. My good friend who owns the yurts is also a herbal maiden, mother, yogi, ex-midwife, she hunts with a shotgun, and is a pretty good kitchen witch. I have come to know her as a sister of the tribe, and we have made some very important realizations about the future of this place. These nordic winter days wane early, and leave just the prime of the morning and afternoon for any real progress on the land, but we have been able to tackle a few projects, and initiate the land clearing deeper in the bush for the eventual spring move of the yurt farm. So far we have installed a new chimney in the sauna, where on especially cold nights it is favorable to sweat by the infrared heat of the flames. We built a deluxe dog hotel, for three German Sheppard’s, waterproofed the one man yurt, and are currently renovating a tiny home on wheels for winter sleeping spaces. Tombs of seasoned wood have been split by the cord, stacked, burned and cooked over, trees have been felled, and the wild hunts have brought us out on the land to stalk rabbit and partridge. We’ve fired no shots yet, but we did find the home of two such porcupines at a crystal vein on the ridge of a small cliff, where we built an inuk’shuk, and made offerings to the old Gods.
Time spent in the yurt is usually focused on preparing the next meal; bison burgers, hearty chilies and stir fries, pancakes, homemade pizza, locally caught fish, hunted partridge, lots of root veg, and the meat of the free range animals that lived and were harvested on the farm itself, both from this property and the first location in the south. This means, thick slices of bacon, and organic chicken. The food has been abundant and healthy. We’re also roasting our own coffee beans and brewing some kombucha, and making just about everything from scratch. In the mother yurt there is electricity, but in the one man where I live, there is no wired connection, only a solar panel on the outside of the yurt, enough to power an l.e.d. for about 3 hours, or charge my camera once. There is no running water which makes simple things like doing dishes or heeding nature’s call rather different than living in a normal home. Having to divorce one’s feeling from constant comfort, waking in the middle of a -25 night, stoking the fire over again and walking through two feet of snow to get to the outhouse is a kind of raw connection with place in the most humble of ways. Wifi signal is weak if at all on says when it snows, and I use a solitary beeswax candle for my primary light source in the morning when I groom or at night for brushing up on some books. Primitive housing is not unfamiliar to me, but these conditions are the ways in which I prefer to live. In touch with what is real, and stripped down. Lacking the material excess of modern consumer lifestyle, where everything one owns must have a multi purpose or it is in the way, and creates clutter. When you live in a yurt of only twelve foot diameter floor space, everything places therein takes on a kind of zen-like quality, to be placed aright, even the way the wood is stacked up and the orientation of the bed, I have my head to the west with the setting sun, the door of the yurt is low, facing the east, which encourages the guest to enter and leave with grace. I try not to bring any negative energy into the space, whether it be behavioral, emotional or electrical. In the morning I have been making chaga, and at night reading a Saga or verses from the Havamal. Sometimes the snow piles high at the threshold of my door then freezes it shut in the night, which can be a interesting lesson on the trickiness of winter weather. On clearer nights I can see the moon through the vinyl sky windows.
In the meanwhile we are working hard on a tiny home that will be moved further into the bush to become off grid, and more autonomous. Tiny homes are gaining popularity in Europe and North America, this one has a barnhouse style and will provide the basic sleeping quarters. Life in the yurt can be challenging as privacy is compromised, and space is limited. The facilities are rustic, and are grounded in a more humble mode of life. There are the boasting rites as well of saying you live in a Mongolian hand-built home, shipped from the other side of the world. There is another yurt farm about two hours from here with buffalo, and living in the round seems to be gaining intrigue amongst old worlders, and it beats living in a box with four walls and corners, in my honest opinion.
It’s been but a moonth since I left my Atlantic island of Newfoundland, from the full moon of December and the solstitial equinoxing of the days, through the passage of yuletimes, and across the threshold of the new year. For the first time in my twenty-six times around our star, I’ve been able to spend more time under the sun, the winter snows have not climbed ’round my cabin door, and the chill has been cast off in exchange for the tropics.
This snowbird exodus to warmer climates is not new to me, but unique in its setting, this time it took me across to the other point of a continent, back to a familiar home of past traveling grounds in southern Oaxaca for the Rainbow Gathering.
After two full days of traveling by car, boat, and three planes, I left a frigid Canadian land in a -15 degree cloak, to a balmy +33 tropical paradise in Huatulco. I decided to fly via a lesser known Brazilian company this time called Airprojects, who charges in Brazilian Reals, then converts through US dollars, and then the local currency of which of course my final funds were in Canadian for which I secured the flight for extremely cheap. When arriving in Huatulco airport, I was greeted by thatched grass roofs, palm stands, aromatic winds, and a pleasant light. It was far removed from the aesthetic of every industrial airport I’ve flown to. From here I haggled a deal with a taxi to drive me the hour and a half to the Zipolite playa, where I would stay the next three nights. Zipolite and its neighboring beach Mazunte are old tramping grounds of mine, where I had lived and worked for two weeks in 2015 at the Shambhala commune. It was the original accommodation on the Zipolite playa, existing before all the other modern hotels and hostels, originally from the late 60’s. Also an early ceremonial space for the Zapatistas. The owner Gloria was close friends with the famous mushroom curandera Maria Sabina. The air of the place cleaned me of past loss. Here I met with a flitting romance, a lover from Sweden, and together we would head to the Rainbow Gathering in Rincon Bonito.
First we took a collectivo through San Augustinillo, Mazunte, and San Diego, then hitch another truck to Tonameca, and finally a taxi down a long tumultuous dirt road, fording a river, and climbing steep banks. After this we hiked several kilometers in the wrong direction, and tried vainly to ask for the way to where the river met the valley. Finally we seemed to meet the village mother, and plenty of young children, she appointed four kids to lead us back to a banana plantation that we passed on the way in, and then down a trail to the house of a local named Melardo. From here we crossed through his yard, and down a slope through more banana trees, palms, corn stalks, and patches of squash, steeply down into a rift, and found the river, following upstream until the path lead to a shallow crossing. On the way, we came upon three other travelers, a Norwegian from the FuckforForest organization and two Mexicans also looking for the Rainbow Gathering. As the sun was setting we found the camp, on the other side of the river, and crossed the current to the greetings of ‘Welcome Home’ from two naked hippies on the other side. So far, so good I thought, we were just in time for the food circle.
An archaic Hopi prophecy spake of the Rainbow People long before the first gatherings took place. “There will come a day when people of all races, colors, and creeds will put aside their differences. They will come together in love, joining hands in unification, to heal the Earth and all Her children. They will move over the Earth like a great Whirling Rainbow, bringing peace, understanding and healing everywhere they go. Many creatures thought to be extinct or mythical will resurface at this time; the great trees that perished will return almost overnight. All living things will flourish, drawing sustenance from the breast of our Mother, the Earth.”
Now the Rainbow tribe lives the world over, and is re-uniting lost souls, bohemians, beatniks, hippies, nomads, and vagabonds alike. This wasn’t my first, I slept in a grandfather oak tree for one month in Hay-on-Wye, Wales in my hammock a year and a half, and gathered for one week in Gotland for the annual Ting last summer before returning to Mexico for this union. We were small, by far a more intimate gathering, encamped on the side of a hill, next to cattle pasturage, and farm land. Papayas, bananas, and oranges grew on the fringes of the river, and frail flowered orchids dipped their grassy arms in the tumbling waters. We represented several countries together with brothers and sisters coming as far as Israel, Germany, Italy, Norway, Hawai’i, and Canada. We shared two meals a day, usually a raw porridge with a melody of local fruits, eaten around the fire. Song was part of the meal, and a collective OM grounded our intentions on family and community. The magic hat, circled around after we broke our fast, and donations of a few pesos kept food in our bellies and supplied some funds for essential tools like pots, pick-ax, plates, and cooking utensils. When nature called, we dug a pit and used the African method of cleansing ourselves. Of course, sometimes this did not always work, and a few of our family fell ill from hygiene issues. On the fourth day I burned out, and my body completely shut down, not due to hygiene but for the PH of my blood. I knew going from winter to summer in one day would eventually take its toll on me. Fortunately I summoned enough strength through my condition to submerge in the cool river several times a day, maintain enough sun exposure, and eat plenty of juicy fruits.
This happened on the solstice, when the family held a drum and cacao ceremony. I managed to drag myself to the circle for a few rounds of chocolate drinking, the first a sweet brew with honey, and the next three I took a dark blend with chili. I think this healed me, because the next day I felt relieved, and back nearly to full health, after a day of restoration, making time for yoga on the river boulders, swimming, sunbathing, and fire sitting, with a morning coffee circle cleanse shared among brothers, I felt that I had fully adapted to the Central American climate. I spent the days walking barefoot around the land, learning Spanish from a beautiful senorita, trading stories, making love, and helping with the cooking in our primitive kitchen. We ate well, despite the remoteness of our camp.
Local Mayan food, some Spanish and American imports, and little processed foods, naturally vegetarian or vegan, and once even had some late night crepes in the jungle. The presence of youth in our camp kept our spirits light, and it felt comfortable to wander in the nude. Some brothers took LSD, and made music on a marimba, and we held massage sessions and a poetry workshop in mud huts that had been reclaimed by small bats. I connected to each person in a different way, but found I could relate easily on most things, on the ethics of why and how we all got here, and held a strong appreciation for Pacha Mama, who kept us all together. Rumor was passed around of a Guatemalan Rainbow gathering, and as we started to come down from the peak of our tribal unity and look to other prospects, new plans emerged.
On Christmas eve, most of the family left for the Pacific Coast, so we followed in tow, and spent Navidad back on the playa, at the El Peyote hostel, we were fifteen now, and we feasted on fish, chicken, wine, rice, and pancakes, with sweet breads for desert, as we watched the amber sun hide beneath sea stacks swarmed by marine birds. The following day, we lined up a good deal with a local boatman to take us out to snorkel with dolphins, and so as the Rainbow family, we traveled in caravan to Puerto Angel to find our boat, and sped out towards deeper waters. Dolphins we did find, nearly a hundred of them in a school, and they used every available opportunity to show off their aeronautic skills, as well as keeping pace in front of the hull of the boat while cruising along. From the deeps, we marooned back to a private beach to dive in swells hiding elaborate coral, swordfish, and multi-colored aquafauna. This was for me, my first time wearing a snorkel, and it felt
unnatural for me, so most of the time, I opted for free diving instead. We sailed past two rock formations near the coast, resembling an Apache warrior and a Gorilla. It was probably the best 165 pesos I ever invested. By nightfall we walked the streets, as the whole town turned to a market selling handicrafts, sandals, wood-fired pizza, psychedelic art, and apparel. Some of us danced, while I stayed on the playa and read Ram Dass and swayed in my hammock. It was near impossible to sleep without getting eaten by mosquitoes however, and I was anxious to leave. Soon we would go our separate ways, and together with me Swedish lover, a brother from Israel, and another from Germany, we took an overnight bus to San Cristobal, making our final leavings from the humid coast to the mountains of Chiapas.
In the Darwinian view, why is there any reason why we shouldn’t set parameters, and rigorously hunt for a partner in this mating game of life who not only impresses our eyes, but can offer something to the courtship that will become useful and grow. Many women have come and gone in this life, that is just the nature of modern day relationships, people are afraid of commitment, or don’t have the wisdom and spiritual patience to recognize monogamy as a worthwhile experiment. There is a balance here, but one rarely kept.
I have shared my nest with those both older and younger in age and maturity, have forged long distance relationships from oceans apart only to see them wither on the vine like rotting leaves, I have lived every sad country song of love lost, and gained only to lose it again and being kept apart from my lovers arms by interminable circumstances. I have seen beautiful goddesses work black magic and ruin their reputation, and broken women with nothing to their name emanate the purest energies of love, longing and honor. I get lost in the romantic hunt, in the forever sacrifice of being alone, and again thinking you have found a heart like yours. They are a rare breed, the girls of the past, and those I have yet to meet. Some living in their own kingdom, past their stage of opening their doors, or their legs to anyone new. Others, with a confused passion seek the thrills of free love, so called innocence, and the pleasures of the flesh.
I have learned a lot about myself, some things I didn’t want to look at, others I knew were there buried in the rubble and waiting to be cleaned off, or the revered traits I knew were latent but could never really acknowledge. Traveling through this world, by their pull of affection and desire, the women that make me me. Yet, I have lost sight of them, or at least the memories of them are what I have left, and special fragments of their existence that once was, a borrowed sweater, a coyote pelt, crystals and an iron bird, maybe a few strands of hair, or an avocado seed that we ate, carved into a pendant. These are the tangible proofs of my belonging, at least once, to her, and no other, and yet sometimes there seems to be another on the outside, waiting to come in, but when they don’t, you just fondle the items leftover, and think about the hours, days, weeks, months, a kind of force illusion.
Maybe it is that I am hard to keep up to, and this would be true. The woman of my deepest heart would need to support my mission, whatever that is, and if not share in my obsessions, then at least acknowledge them as real. So often it is about the menial substances that get in the way; money, timing, distance, law, nothing to counter the presence of true love, yet somehow like great walls of limitation. I am left wandering, wondering where to find her, on my travels? in a bar? in the countryside? on the street? online? There is always the romantic ideal, and I am one who tries to preserve such sentiments, yet there is only so much waiting a man can do. His primal nature overcomes in the end. The need to find a mate, a lover, an ally, a wife. All of these. So here I am with only a semblance of what could be, caught in all my desires and expectations. I am tired of being alone, and feeling isolated on this planet. Though I am a full person, and do not seek ‘my other half’, I hold open my hand to her who would be the counterpart to my highest self. Where there is true growth, and freedom of being all.
I’ve always wondered how the funeral speeches of truly great men and women would sound through the mouths of those he met and loved and left, who stood to say a thing or two about his life. Like the first world explorers, the heroes and heroines of the viking sagas, and the men and women sung about in folkloric ballads, their nature sounds so exotic and far away from us that we can hardly imagine meeting such people in our day to day life. Those with such a persona and commanding presence so as to be even worthy of reverence. I have crossed paths with a few, but none so often. I’ve met a few thousand more, in hostels, on the street, at festivals, and forgot them easily, because they were swimming with the school, they didn’t stand out. Now there’s nothing wrong with that on most good days, it’s a lot easier to move around the flock unnoticed sometimes, but those that whose memories have really stay with me, are those who have changed their direction and gone upstream, against the herd, lived long and humble lives, behind every action was a means of inspiration, and behind every story a life experience, these were some of my friends…
I met a man an old storyteller Wales, his name was Hymn, nothing less, nothing more, he was a weather Scottsman actually, but we met around a fire, covered in ash, giving our selves to pacha mama. He was a master of Reiki, but would never say so himself, instead in in primal slow dance movements linked in body at all times, he could work some pretty magic healing. Like a skeleton becoming aligned again after being bent and grown in the wrong direction. He was a wanderer of the W.I.S.E. isles, living off his art, writing poetry on the sidewalks in chalk, and you might be able to meet him in the streets of Camden, on the trails western England or where I found him, at a rainbow gathering. His candor was like the wise grandpa most people wish they grew up with, talking always in rhyme and poetics, a voice that spoke with a calming and humble attention. Each line of his face was a thousand miles traveled barefoot, as he gazed always on the horizon, the sunrise, the sunset, and into the wind, smelling for the fauna and flora ahead.
I met a vagabundo from Spain, an old hobo to most eyes, a young spirit in heart. He told me he came from Bristol, the week before, where he lived in the Cheddar Gorge. He slept in a cave there for one year, and would meet thousands of tourists during the season, offering them coffee, exchanging stories, some even wanting to film him or get his picture. This soft spoken old man, weathered with the miles, but equipped as a soldier, we drank the black medicine together by the early warmth of a kindled fire, in a sheepfold somewhere in Welsh country. Knowledge known only from places been, small advice’s and vices on life that I could yield or avoid. He drank from the springs, and collected wood for the sacred fire, an indigenous soul held in his rib cage. I listened to his tales, of his days as a farmer and cowboy, until some Irish gypsies stole his horses, he continued to wanderlust on his own hooves.
I met a girl in Newfoundland, she picked me up on the road on a foggy cold morning. She said she was camping in the National park, and had parents that lived on the island. She drove me a few miles and we exchanged stories. She was a barista in Halifax, but wanted a change in lifestyle. After awhile I took the boat back to the mainland and we met again, we went around the city, trying to find her some more work at a coffee house, but it never paled. Instead she decided to apprentice on a local farm, though she would say it was I who inspired her, I found it mutually inspiring back to witness such a profound lifestyle change almost overnight. We kept on in contact overseas when I moved away, and a year later I found she had finished her apprenticeship, and was looking for a new one on yet another farm, she had learned so much by the time when we met again, and every so often I hear from her, and her times on the farm.
And sometimes the woman you meet you tend to fall in love with. When tramping in the deep south across the Arizona desert, I met the woman who would change my life in such maturing and profound ways, she has never left into fleeting memory. A mother of four sons, and a natural born gypsy, she was from the state, but moved to Texas to live an independent existence, cleaned up her life, and had her own house. Tall, dark, and mysterious, a feral woman at heart. She gave it up in the end, and sought a life of travel, so she bought an ambulance from the 80’s and ran her apothecary business out the back of it. We met at a truck stop in Tucson, but we ‘knew’ about each other before. I helped her through a grief, and she helped me with mine, we painted the ambulance black, with red pinstriped ravens and runes on the sides, and built in a queen bed to the back, I helped her get the apothecary going again, and we lived in the desert for a romantic week. She told of one of her sons, who hunted deer at only age 9, and we cooked it slowly in spices over the flames, talked into the night, slept in a tent and fought of raccoons who tried to steal our meet. I had to leave her one day, and head to Canada, little did I know it was the last time I would see her, borders can be rough, and relationships harder and more defeating than the canyons and mountains I crossed. My heart pined for something left that never came, but I remembered and cherished to even know her…
“The only thing I miss is my friends. And it’s almost impossible to have any friends, at this level. Jealousy is a great power. Jealousy and fear. Your fear goes to your worst, and asks for help to destroy your fear. But in truth, your fear is your best friend. It protects you, it protects everyone you love.” ~CM
She came to me in eostre of 2013, on a day in the Okanagan Valleys of lower British Columbia. I found her sitting in one of the booths, covered over with a layer of dust, amidst other antiques, and curio, watched over by a man who was himself quite grizzly. He greeted my aroused interest in the objects he had lying around, and tried to purvey his collection a little bit to my attentions, some velvet antlers, and tanned bone skulls caught my eye and I immediately picked them up, and askance of from where they came, “this one is a mountain lion from usa, and this one a grizzly from these hills”. I had to have them, and I bartered a good deal of 80$ for the skulls and the antlers, with a mexican blanket from his pile. The skull was rather small for a grizzly, probably a 3-4 year old female without the pronounced brow ridge and dental bulk. The mountain lion too was young, but when I laid my hands on them I felt I had made two lifelong friends.
The grizzly bear and lion sat outside my camp in the mountains on a log for a few weeks beside my tent, before I packed up and headed east across the country, with the antlers and the two skulls packed into my bag. Since then, I have lived in roughly 40 part-stay locations on my nomadic travels, and had carried these totems with me the way through; canada, scotland, england, wales, iceland, norway, denmark, and mexico, then back to canada. The mountain lion was gifted to my partner 3 seasons after acquiring it, but the bear and the antlers stay proudly in my pack for much longer, until the antlers too were gifted to my squat house in Copenhagen. The Grizzly lasted the longest with me and is now in safe keeping, she has been a protector of the medicines I carry. Since I do not rely on hospitals, I carry a lot of my own medicines, or forage for plants that have healing abilities, and sometimes these are not looked on with respect by authorities. That being said, I have never had them taken away, or searched, and I believe it is because of the bear. Every country entered, she was there with me, through the airplanes modalities and wear and tear of a gypsy life. As a guardian spirit in the tipi I slept in for 3 nights in Vermont, on the calfskin that adorned my floor in my scottish highland bunkouse, in my center shrine of a roundhouse in Wales, and coffee table of an Icelandic cottage to the sleep cabin shelf on a float in the Copenhagen harbor. Her empty eyes have mothered my spirit through the woods, the mountains and back to the primitive. It is no easy burden to carry two animal skulls with you everywhere you go, but I am happy I did. Now she is in safe keeping with my brother back in southern Canada, and would it only be synchronous with the ally, that to my amazement on a walk down the Atlantic beaches of Nova Scotia, I find the front portion of a male Black Bear, with no lower mandibles or cranium present, but still all teeth, some heavily ground down by diet, fitting firmly in the skull, which now sits on my ‘mantle’ here in the maritimes.