The Longhouse Ontology

“How is the longhouse a part of the longue durée? – in this context begs the question: Is living with plants and animals a part of the longue durée? How are these other beings so deeply embedded in the farmscape and lifespace that they are fundamental to being? Partly, the answer surely lies in their immutability, the cyclical nature of farming life, in which life is centered around animals and plants, individuals die, but the life force of the flock, the plants and the family remains. The farmhouse as an anchoring point brings all of these farming practices together. The farmhouse can thus be seen as an ontology unto itself, the basic framework upon which every aspect of life depended. The framework of the longhouse appears to have been a physical, spatial as well as embodied, structuring principle upon which social relationships were given meaning and were played out.”

-Kristin Armstrong Oma, excerpt from The Agrarian Life of the North 2000 BC to AD 1000, Studies in Rural Settlement and Farming in Norway, from the article Long Time – Long House

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Culturing Perspectives

Time is a testament to where we have been, and who we have grown to be. It is a running perspective of Life in the moment experienced throughout eternity, and it’s ephemeral nature of constant change is something worth convicting in. Four years of semi-nomadic travel purveys a significant wellspring of cultural exposure, and things to think about. You also become very keen on world issues, human relationships, and the overarching mechanics of society. I use the word from the proto Germanic, and runic root *kenaz meaning to know, or to ken something, as in digging to the root of understanding the thing in itself. Each time I return to the Canadian North, the state of the peoples awareness always strikes me, as if it were alien and gray. The immediate exchange of a foreign country, for the familiarity of home never ceases to bring me into a kind of ‘stranger in a strange land’ scenario, often because I have become enmeshed in an altered routine, a European lifeway, a Central American sense of time, a Scandinavian sense of being, that I feel I am bringing back part of those places in an almost Faustian way. A Faustian man in a multicultural age.

Love:

I have learned a hell of a lot about relationships, how they break apart right before your eyes, and how planning for the future is just about as fickle and inefficient as investing all your money into a personal business before you have any customers. The levels of maturity and mutual growth within a relationship at any time can be moved out of balance, because of each individuals personal endeavors and private lives. I have seen the miscommunication fosters bad seeds that will grow to destroy and poison perfectly harmonious bonds, and spoil any good intentions between you and your lover by creating a culture of suspicion, doubt, and mistrust. Sex turns into lust rather than a beautifully primal experience of altered consciousness and bonding, and becomes a vice very quickly, that breaks out of its own containing shell and reverberates in your personal life, you become addicting to pleasure seeking in all forms. For a relationship to be tangible in the sense that is has a lasting flame, it must be your number one priority, and the truth must be realized that it’s inevitable summit is domestic living, although in extremely rare cases it may be able to survive through the tumults of travel and vagabonding, it does not thrive, and you are forced to rise to a whole set of factors that effect the binding of that relationship, like geographical distance, the question of monogamy vs. polyamory, or having an open sexual life, and the always present need for money. Man needs his woman, as the woman needs her man, and the role of polarity needs to be strong in order for the love to thrive. In the words of Jack Donovan on the Way of Men, “He is not only called upon to be a good man, but to be good at being a Man”. In this way, the Man must cultivate the archetypes of primal masculinity if he wants a real woman, whereas being a good Man or Woman, entails a kind of contract to society and cultural norms, which is good and fine and useful, but not always in tune with what it means to be a Man at heart, only a man through a judgement system (lots of friends at work, two children, has own car, clean cut, etc.) A man good at being a man may not necessarily be a good man by some eyes, but this is all relative of course. Mutual differences are an integral and healthy identification that whom you love is complementing your own unique individuality, while you are supporting the things that are special brands of her name. The cross-hairs of shared interests of course must intersect enough for common goals, and direction in life. I would recommend the best partner is one who shares your beliefs or religion of the world, an exacting mythology of the way life is, and similar desires to the prospects of whether or not you have kids, where you will live, and what you will have, but you do not need to both have a passion for dancing, hunting or belong to the same social clubs, or share the same friends. When you travel, and your lover needs to go home to work, then you must be prepared to follow or allow yourself to be cut off for awhile, otherwise one person becomes dependent on the other and a tension arises that will cause ruin to the sense of interdependent love between you.

“Man rarely places a proper valuation upon his womankind, at least not until deprived of them. He has no conception of the subtle atmosphere exhaled by the sex feminine, so long as he bathes in it; but let it be withdrawn, and an ever-growing void begins to manifest itself in his existence, and he becomes hungry, in a vague sort of way, for a something so indefinite that he cannot characterize it. If his comrades have no more experience than himself, they will shake their heads dubiously and dose him with strong physic. But the hunger will continue and become stronger; he will lose interest in the things of his everyday life and wax morbid; and one day, when the emptiness has become unbearable, a revelation will dawn upon him.” -Jack London, Son of the Wolf

Money:

In the old days, and still in some cultures, we had cows and sheep, and they were essentially a unity of currency. It is also the first rune of the Viking language because it seems to proceed all other needs in life, money equaled wealth, and wealth equaled freedom of ability and privilege, but it can easily be abused, and some people even do without much of it at all, like myself. The adage of ‘the things you own, end up owning you’ is a kind of two way mirror. In the beginning of my wandering days I had very few possessions, in a metaphorical way, I was un-possessed by materials, as in the sense that something bears a negative influence on you and you become possessed by its energy. I felt extremely free to be carrying little, even in the way of money, and I came to view money as solely a trap, when I ran out of it, I was forced to be dependent on someone else, for survival. I am guilty of this from past relationships, and made it an oath to never let it happen again by setting new boundaries, and ‘zero points’. This was a term shared with me by a lover who describes it as the time when your stock of personal money comes to a point where you must switch to survival mode, and change your financial priorities. For the longest time, I had wandered with extremely little, and found myself stuck on more than one occasion. Even living in cheap hostels, sharing food with other travelers, and transitioning from one volunteer situation to the next takes a hit on your budget, and the truth is you need money, or :fe:, in this world to thrive. You don’t need exorbitant amounts which usually foster a sense of foolish materialism, vice, and excess, but you need enough, that you are cautious with your money yet free to spend when you need to, frugal yet abundant. Now, we are in a generation that is exploding technologically, and people are waking up to the problems with the modern money system, crypto-currencies are being developed to ensure that we are not getting ripped off, and our money is secure. This is a future I look forward to, with a radical embrace of traditional trading systems and gift exchange blending with a modern contemporary use of money, saving what I rightfully earn, and using it effectively as a tool.

The Illusion of Community:

It seems that community is only talked about where the very essence of community is lacking, and those who are outside of community are always prospecting for it in the wrong places or failing to see it thriving in their locality. This is because community is not a point of reference but an intact and reliable system of relationships. A facebook page is not a community, nor is the i.d. generation of collective staff in your workplace, it is not found in coffeehouses, and meet-up groups. Community hearkens to a more tribal oriented lifeway, the obvious differences being the owning of land, the hunting and gathering of food, and the autonomy of culture and belief held within it. A farmers market is community, it fosters the interest in living of the land, I don’t really like the word self-sustainable because nothing is ever done alone in a community, the others are needed just as much as you, and the lone wolf will always die away from his pack. In order for the community to exist there must be a shared work load, and division of relevant skills throughout those members who choose to be responsible for it. A set of meta-beliefs that transcend the generic fandom of a social media phenomenon is a highly distinctive feature of the community, and those who belong to it find their own way into it, they are not sought after, or hired. The people will come of their own accord because they know with the primality of instinct in their heart that they belong there with no coercion needed. Having worked and lived in the Central American continent, I have observed authentic community thriving through the everyday rote existence, whence people band together and link their energies to sustain a lifeway. Different from tribalism, there is often no hierarchy, but an egalitarian sense of rites and responsibilities. I have also observed this in the maritimes of Canada, the sub-arctic regions of Scandinavia, and Saharan Africa. Community arises out of the need for a prolonged survival and transforms the patterns of tradition into a thriving mode of existence. In my own country I see a lot of community masquerading as commercialsm, “support your local community and buy local”, this is in essence what community can be about, but it is advertising for international businesses simply stationed within city limits, because truly local businesses do not have their name all over the country, they may have one or two or three outlets within a vicinity, and are not making much profit, just enough for the community, and that goes into the bands of families who truly live their mien, and walk the talk, not a blind consumer who doesn’t really care whose lives they impact, including their own by their conduction in the society. Voting with your dollar counts, but making the dollar secondary serve relationships equals community.

Work Ethic:

My engagement with work may seem to some as a fickle one, largely international skill trade in volunteer experiences for the basic commodities and necessities of life, without earning much more than that, but in a deeper context, and wide ranging view, my work ethic has become highly evolved to serve a purpose much bigger than myself. As someone who follows a largely derived Germanic tradition, that of the journeyman, and the freeman, travel has been the lynchpin of my work experiments and has lead me to seek relative skill building in Scandinavia, Europe, Central and North America and Britain. When I come home to Canada, and take a ‘normal’ job, which I have had fewer than I can count on one hand in my life, an entirely different work ethic tries to supplant itself. I clock in, I have a number, a schedule, and co-workers, I am persuaded to work as a team, I have a set wage, and tax taken off my pay, it is outside of my normal set of working conditions, and it is not my natural habitat. I have chosen this type of work though for very specific reasons, with big-picture thinking in mind. I am a farmer, and forestman, I belong to Thor’s people and engage my primal masculine in the world and all the work I get involved in. Reforestry, woodwork, demolition, planting and harvesting, building, permaculture, preservation of species, these are my comfort zones, these are the lay of my hands and heart, and to act outside of them is foreign to me. I am free to choose as is every sovereign individual his own course of work, and thus one does not build their own working jails where they feel trapped. Currently I am a meatcutter in a factory style setting, working with beef and pork. By today’s standards this is highly productive, and repetitive, and I have certainly worked small scale with processing meat in country farm settings or wilderness, so there is overlap involved, but thinking in big-picture, it is a skill that relates to almost all my other aspirations. The work ethic core remains strong, because despite which company may hire me, I am working for myself, not here simply to exist, pay my bills, and get wasted on the weekend. Making money must be matched in aspiration to learning and growing. I talk to people who are entirely negative, and speak of their years in service to a company that cares nothing for them, who have nothing positive to say during the lunch break, have not regard for their personal health, and live a life stuck in vice, and regret. There is an eerie comparison to olden day slavery, and in my eyes I still see it practiced, only with alterations in its style. A slave owner has full control over his workers, but he does not mingle with them personally, they keep heavy handed records of your activity, and their profits, yet is provided for handsomely for less work, does this sound like your boss or manager of today? One must always question the authority, and ask yourself what you are getting in return for your efforts, is there a balance? Why not forge a thriving life-way that serves your highest being? By your self induced masochism and suffering through the condemning need to work at places you hate, you become the inferior, the minority, and the coward. Gradually you become weakened and have no conviction towards your own personal power, the work ethic mode becomes the work ethic myth, there is no standard left. You are not providing for yourself in reality, because you are still buying everything you need, instead of growing it, building it, killing it, harvesting it, collecting it, raising it, loving it, such is the real work ethic, work for yourself or your community at all times, then let your work outlive that.

Travel:

Is a boon to every man, and a realization that life is a profound struggle. Four years ago I left the domestic trappings of life, swore myself to the Old Gods, and went in search of love and life out in the wider world. Now I am spearheading a new lifeway by preservation; of money, of resources, of tools physical and spiritual, of allies and friends, and ultimately of place. All the experiences of the last four years are being compounded and grown upon as I turn towards a slightly more sedent way of being, and staying in my own country for some time. Travel takes a hard toll on the body, but it also strengthens it to be fit for a new world. I have come to the often brutal realization of how difficult it actually is to travel with limited money, but through ingenuity and adaptation have been able to thrive even when my pockets were empty. There is a paradox in the travel world, but nonetheless true, that real freedom comes from sacrifice. This entails that one must live to decondition themselves from the constituted dregs of normal society, to think and act for oneself, and reconcile your abilities with your purpose. Travel, that isn’t holiday, is stoic and austere, a wanderering man gets to know the many faces of Odin, and it is struggle and success both. It is like if I watch any nature documentary, and see these wolves or caribou, who migrate long distances, and then settle into a place, the hardships they must face, the extreme weather, the physical toil, the chase, the hunt and the hunger. The need for the pack or herd community. I see myself mirrored in these beasts intimately. I have worked almost exclusively out of doors, have slept in hundreds of varied settings, from the cathedral garden of a medieval Norse cathedral, to a leather tipi stoking with fire, a metal trailer, to the forests of Newfoundland island. The real traveler must be prepared for anything, this means you are going to have installments with the law, as I have, you will need to represent yourself, you may be repelled in one place and attracted by another, you have to carry everything you own, and know that your story is more important than anything in your pack. Sometimes I was desperate, sometimes I had a luxurious life and money to spare, a woman in my bed, and the world in front of me. Travel is a way of being, just like some animals are highly localized who may occupy one specific tract of forest or river system, while others have their territory spanning thousands of miles. I have always thought that as long as I am a human animal, I want to explore my own territory which is the earth, and find the place where I can feel king. After four years of living in communities, traveling to foreign countries, crossing borders in the physical world and within, having everything lost, being ripped off, and then rewarded, and come to know part of this planet in a more humble way, I feel awe and hungry for more, but also I am tired, and my priorities are changing. The acquisition of land is important for me, the collection of resources, tools and useful possessions, the startup of my own operation that provides for me, whether that be a farm, a small cultural business, an ecological company, or all of these. Eventually I think, and most of my allies, all dream of the idealistic cabin in the woods, with a fire burning in the hearth, game to hunt, fish to catch, food to gather, and a place where we belong. It was never intended that I would tramp around forever, and this will still take some time to resemble the change I am enacting. I like to think it took me traveling to far fetched countries and cultures to come back and find my own, and where that will be, until then I keep moving forward and upward, with light in my eyes, love in my heart, and peace of mind, knowing I am doing the right thing for me, it is up to you to make up your own way. If you do not have a plan, you end up being part of someone else’s plan. If the system does not work for you, use the system to get out of it, and create your own.

Witnessing the Similarities between the Popul Vuh, and the Icelandic Sagas

The Keq’chi Maya are an indigenous people that live throughout Guatemala and primarily in the states of Alta Verapaz and Peten in the cloud forests of the North. The prominence of their mythological tradition stems from  a book entitled the Popul Vuh, an ancient text that tells the stories of the early Keq’chi or Quiche, the creation of the world and different phenomena, familial geneologies, and folk legends. Through the language of exaggerated narration, memory, and representation, the Mayan Keq’chi beliefs and cosmology comes to be known. The translation I am reading is from Latin to English, and contains deep anthropological, theological, historical, and traditionalist fields in which to understand it from.

As a student of old Teutonic culture, Norse Mythology, and the Icelandic Edda and Saga literature, my usual bent is towards the branches of text that stem from the North Germanic regions, and pan-Scandinavian customs. I have read probably a few hundred works, folk stories, and legends that originate in the Icelandic tomes, yet I remain culturally sensitive in my travels and heavily influenced by the local languages and societies, so on a recent trip to Guatemala, I have been reading said book, the Popul Vuh, and without intervention on my own part have been noticing the similarities in these two vastly different branches of ancient civilization.

Kennings: Something any well read reader of the Icelandic Sagas and indeed the Edda or Amma, will indeed know and understand the use of kennings. Cheiftain Snorri Sturluson was the infamous Icelander who helped devise many of these kennings, and in my own opinion they are the lynchpin of all Icelandic mythology. They represent the advancement of language and poetry which the literate Northmen had even before the Christian Era, when almost all literature was instead composed by monks. To be simple, a kenning is a set of words or references to a single thing, idea, or phenomena. The kenning can be another way of speaking about something that is mentioned far too often, thus making it redundant, and in the Icelandic sagas, this happens a lot. For instance a Viking ship may easily be called by its name, but using kennings and compounded kennings allows the writer to implore their imagination into the subject, and the reader to create more verbally textual memories of the passage by thinking of it from a different angle. An example would be to call the ship as the ‘brine stallion’, ‘the wave horse’, ‘the vessel on the fish’s bath’, and so forth. In the Popul Vuh, I also observed this custom of using kennings in a similar fashion for instance in Ch. 7 of Part II, when a hawk is referred to as ‘he who devours snakes in the corn fields’, or when the Earth was created it was formed by ‘the Heart of Heaven, and the Heart of Earth’. The names of animals and trees are also referenced by many different words for instance the gum as ‘noh’ and ‘pericon’, and a different tree that exudes red resin is known as the ‘dragons blood’, or the ‘heart of man’. The kennings used in the Popul Vuh are indeed of a different calibre than those used in Icelandic literature, and of course for the purists they may say there is no comparison at all and each one is exclusively unique of itself, and that may be true as well, but for now I am only drawing certain arrangements of patterns between the two kinds of literature, what we might called an indigenous literacy, or ancient language style, that perhaps is lost to us now in our dialects and poetical minds.

Geneologies: The Sagas of the Norse Kings or ‘the Resultado de imagen de heimskringlaHeimskringla’ is but one major work of the Scandinavia northlands that deserves attention here, for it is literally all about geneology from the last Kings of Norway all the way back to the descendant lines of Yngvi-Frey or the Ynglings and that of Odin. Geneology and heritage in these works are sometimes daunting and monumental and it was only after several years of reading the Sagas and stories that I began to pick through them with any clarity rather than skipping through them. It is not uncommon in the first few paragraphs of a heroic saga to mention the familial ties ranging back as far as three, four, or five generations, naming each mother and father, grandmother and grandfather, each son and daughter and cousin. This can go one to the point of seeming mundanity and confusion as the Icelandic naming tradition, as in any culture had a specific set of names for males and females and names are often repeated within family lines. This kind of chaotic order of tracing geneology is fascinating for scholars but to the average reader can be offputting. A typical passage might enumarate the relatives of “Leif, who is son of Bestla and Bjorn, who also bore daughters Ingrid, Hildagard, and Solveig, and sons Ragnar, Svart, and Svein. Solveig also had two sons, one named Bjorn and the other Ivar. Leif’s grandfather was a wealthy chieftain in Iceland and had many wives ‘Astrid, Helga, and Bjork’, who in turn gave him many sons, Bjorn, Leif’s father being one of them.” I am just making this passage up but this is respectively how the opening passages of a true Icelandic saga can be expected. In the Popul Vuh, I came across this same kind of nomenclature of the men and women, and their familial ties. The opening of part II reads “Here is the story. Here are the names of Hun-Hunahpu and Vucub-Hunahpu, as they are called. Their parents were Xpiyacoc and Xmucane. During the night Hun-Hunahpu and Vucub-Hunahpu were born of Xpiyacoc and Xmucane. Well now, Hun-Hunahpu had begotten two sons, the first was called Hunbatz, and the second Hunchouen. The mother of the two sons was called Xbaquiyalo. Thus was the wife of Hun-hunahpu called. As for the other son, Vucub-Hunahpu, he had no wife, he was single.” And so it goes on like this naming off several members until all are accounted for, and then sometime later in the story they will make their appearance to some imporant degree, or be named specifically because they are to be known for some reference point of meaning.

Resultado de imagen de popul vuhDrama/Violence: Any good saga has some violence in it, and sometimes it is extremely amusing to read of the antics that a band of stoutly countrymen inflict upon each other. Iceland was a lawless country for a long time, and several parts of the glacier country was known as the utangard because of the many horse trails that crossed it, lingering with thieves, murderers and outlaws. If I remember correctly, there is a passage in one of the Sagas involving a breeched whale, wherein a conflict between two Vikings arises, and they are fighting on the back of the whale while it is being cut by others for the blubber. Here are the men in a holmgang or duel, and one of them is struck with the sword to his death. Just about every saga, even the romance genres are filled with duels, wrestling, revenge, killing, and domestic violence. In the Popul Vuh, there is also a high focus on violence and warfare.
The place of Xibalba for instance is a house of torture. When Hunahpu and Xbalanque are tricked by the Lords of Xibalba, they go through several chambers and places in which different types of discomfort, pain and violence are treated to them. They enter the house of Jaguars, where they must throw bones to the animals so that they not bite them. They go into the House of Fire, which inside ‘was only fire’, or the House of Bats, which sheletered a creature that killed using its stingers. The bizzare and strange ways of torture are also complemented with human violence, in the way the head of Hunahpu is used for play in the ball game, a kind of primitive Mayan soccer that is itself incredibly aggresive that might make the British football teams seem tame. The violence in both this Mayan/Central American literature and the far sub-arctic North are worlds apart, yet add a kind of comic relief, and may intrigue readers of general novels to reading both of these works.

The last that I wish to mention, although there may be more ties I can draw out, is the evident nature of the oral tradition. The Popul Vuh IS the word, and thus the Saga is too the story of someone or several people retelling actual events but through a lens that is subjective and often exxagerate or phantasized. Regardless, these books are dictums of the oral tradition and passing on stories from one generation to the next, and the fact that we still have them here with us, even if they be translated from heiroglyphs, runes, latin, or proto-Norse is besides the point. They have simply survived because of their remarkable nature and remain classics because they are so interesting and compelling to read. I certainly could not read nothing but Icelandic sagas for all my days sitting in a rocking chair and imagining Viking warbands conquering the land, but it is fun to indulge in that sometimes, and the same to read the very primal sources of ancient cultures through a different lense, and being able to draw from it, the sources of its humanness and roots of our language.

Aldous Huxleys Island: review

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I just finished reading, and experiencing Huxley’s utopian novel Island, the third of his works I have bitten off now after the Doors of Perception, and Brave New World, and this is another work of genius, foresight, ingenuity, and pioneer literatureship, is that a word? Now it is.

Where in Brave New World, a strange society, and strange is the world for it was quite removed from it’s political and social setting of the time, is set as the status quo, a population of genetically engineered beings, who are perfect in every way, with manicured behaviors, and conformist attitudes, and if anything happens there is always Soma. This narrative is one of futuristic outlook on a rapidly evolving world and the authors own subjective fantastic analysis of one of it’s possible outcomes. The upheaval of a hyper-modern and industrial age, set betwixt an aristocratic backdrop of representative England, and the savage and brutal worlds of American and Iceland, for those that missed those references. While in The Doors of Perception, there is a personal account of a self-induced experience with the alkaloid mescaline, and a kind of social commentary of drugs, medicine, social politics, and a slew of interesting academic brain scratchers, it really gets you thinking in a transcendental way. But I think Island is the most approachable so far I have read, for someone who is looking for a lighter work with a higher spiritual inclination. It is a book that was relevant then, and I would say is even more so important to read today, and its subject matters are something growing in concern for us all. The revolving themes of colonization, industrialization, modernism, teaching, drug use (in an atavistic religious way), community forming, human behavior, consciousness and a few other metaphysical concepts that are intersticed through the grain of this work.
The subjects are part of the everyday life of the people of Pala, a small island in the tropics, with a stable population of essentially Indo-Europeans, tuned onto Mahayana Buddhism, self-sustainability, and radical schooling. This is a dart on the bulls-eye for all those out there who are interested in seeing the precepts in potentia, or theorizing and observing how they can function in a small population, so I would recommend it not only to people like permaculturalists, environmentalist country folk, psychedelic thinkers and activists, but also vastly different personalities like city planners, politicians, and government officials, though for that sake, I don’t really have the latter in my friend circle.

Will Farnaby is washed ashore this island, and gradually starts to meet the ‘indigenous’ people there, and it is through him and his questions, juxtaposed through a ‘your way and our way’ perspective, that is of Pala vs. the West/America. The main character comes with his problems, nervosas, and issues, and gradually learns, through the brilliant mind of Huxley’s fictional residents, what a healthy population looks like, how it works, and what to be aware of. That is a key thing throughout the book, awareness, and is quite humoristic in the way it is passed across. The people of Pala came from abroad, but chose to settle here, until they were reformed, and started to practice a kind of spiritually enlightened branch of Buddhism. There are these religious tenets stuck in through the daily life and text of this book that even I found highly intriguing from a heathen perspective because it is not overbearing or dogmatic in any way. The island has something they call mutual adoption clubs, which is a practice that most indigenous tribes of the Amazon, Africa and the rest of South America instilled in the upbringing of their offspring. Image result for huxley islandBasically these were larger tribal families, and one child had several mothers, several fathers, and many siblings, so there  was a preservation of diversity of care, intelligence, teaching, and discipline. This was one of the main teaching points I thought, and represents how far modern families have diverged from this healthy paradigm, where now the nuclear family, usually 2 parents, 2 children of opposite sex, all living in the same house until the children reach full maturity, which ironically takes about 18-20 years in these conditions, and sometimes embarrassingly longer. The youth are stifled from lack of attention, integration with society, and a diminished form of love when being raised, and family socialism becomes a kind of limitation for interaction with the world, the neighbors and even stagnates by itself in the household, because of having no outlet for problem venting. So the nuclear family vs. the mutual adoption society is a keen thing that is addressed, but in a novel sentimental way. Huxley has a way of conveyance that opens empathy, sympathy, and mutual understanding.

Another rather taboo confluence of thoughts that runs through the book is the use of indigenous drugs for conscious altering experiences. Not for the sake of pure hedonism and leisure, but as medicine. This is the distinguished difference here. Today we smoke weed for leisure, at least the majority, for thrills, for sexual stamina, and sometimes there is nothing wrong with this, but the medicinal value is often disregarded or forgotten and instead the commercialism of product reigns in its place. The people of Pala use something they call the moksha-medicine, which early in the book they refer to the biology of, in what I took to be the Amanita, even describing it as red, but then later talking about the effects, and considering the climate and ecology they exist in, I am rather convinced it may be Psilocybin but it is hard to say, as also Asian shamans have traditionally used the Muscaria, and not the latter. I would have to consult Huxley’s ghost for that, but it’s Image result for mynah birdbeside the important point, and would be missing the meal offered here. The Palanese use this medicine, and encourage to youth to take it as a rite of passage, after they have undergone an ordeal. So it is shamanic in nature. Their reasoning is, the moksha can take one to vistas of the luminous bliss and light, to realms that are beyond the mundane, the ordinary, and profane, while their spiritual practices, like anger management, and all the Yogas of being they persuade are ways to maintain the perpetual course taken to preserve the closeness of that state. In the end, Will Farnaby himself takes the moksha medicine, and is elaborated through a psychedelic experience that would make McKenna blush, and Lovecraft grin. The advocacy of this drug, and their philosophical stance of control over consumption should be a model for this bizarre paradigm most of the developed world, especially first world, still tries to impart with the war on drugs. They are only drugs, because their healing and evolutionary properties are undermined, and used improperly.

Their use of Yogas I highly admire, as well from Aldous’ view essentially, exudes a more subtle truth of the real Yoga. Something I was turned off of for a couple years, after heavy intensive practice in my early-twenties because of the sheer commercialization, profit mongering, and pseudo-spirituality that surrounded that scene. I just didn’t want to be part of it. But the Palanese practice a form of personalized and subjective yoga that I think is way more important, one that goes to the roots. Of ‘yoking’ with the intentional actions of their body, and will, thus building soul. It really just has a lot to do with awareness of everyday passing ons, and proper behavior. There are no deep secrets in this yoga, which I also practice every day in my own lifestyle, even this very minute. So there are things like the yoga of love making, the yoga of not doing, the yoga of remembering, the yoga of speaking, and every other niche sympathetic, and mechanical function we have as humans. This is part of the Palanese teaching, as well as a unique kind of stress management. Using energy arising from possibly violent tendencies and turning them towards productive means. They have a whole group who just chop wood, or scale cliffs, or stamp their feet in a bizarre dance form. They cultivate skepticism in their youth, and teaching them all the practical sciences when they are young, the hard stuff first, which I think is really radical. The children grow up to actually appreciate the relative simplicity of surviving, and thriving through responsibility and change. They have an interesting experiment that involves checking their sons/daughters for hypnotic tendencies, because they can then be taught to defend themselves against future commanders, authority, outsiders, religious fanatics and militants, into exploiting them.
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Pala is a picture of an organic community that has not been developed, they have no wars, no plantations or factories, no harbor for possible invasion, no self-defeatist and dogmatic religions, or surplus, no need to import or export. They are their own microcosm, where the individual is as sovereign as the whole. I would be interested to know if the general plot of the Western man who visits a native population, still in touch with their spiritual heritage and animistic lifestyle, using entheogens and cut off from the world mimics Ernst Junger’s work A visit to Godenholm? If anyone has read it in German or the English translation, I would love to hear about it. Also if anyone might recommend another gem in Huxley’s line up, because he has quite the stack of literature he was written, I am really getting to be absorbed by his mind. Their are many take-aways from this one, insights into our certain cultural crisis’, personal sentiments, empathy of characters in sometimes dark ways, and an intriguing eye into thinking you are actually reading a real anthropological account of a lost people, which I love.

The Problem of Power Tools

*This is rather a special post here on aferalspirit, because it marks the first of a new genre that I will be writing on, in the permaculture section. These theories, ideas, plans, and praxis are usually hard earned knowledge from observable failures leading to victories, or perhaps fleeting thoughts I have while farming, or the reaped information from my studies on permanent agrarian culture.

Sometimes I question the real superiority or benefits of using power tools in the construction or on the farm. I have a problem with power tools because they negate the mechanical skill necessive for using them, they minimize the range of muscular ability needed for proper form, reducing all movements predominately to pushing, pulling, and clicking with the right or left index finger. I have always been a believe in genetic memory and ancestral skill, in using hand tools in a wide range of ways, with an instinctive or intuitive ability to make them effective to your work. I have picked up many a tool that I have not used before, and just seemed to ‘remember’ how, as if accesing an old store of learned skill from the past. Sure, power tools get the work done much quicker, but they are also a lot more dangerous, leave less room for natural error, are heavy, reliant on weather and temperature to function, are expensive to replace, and diminish the sense of integrity, and understanding of how a job is done with one’s own physical ability. Don’t get me wrong here, some small tools operating on electricity open up a world of new prospects for working with modifiable materials, but the work should be involving as much as it is efficient, and beautiful. Sometimes the best ways, are the ways of yore!

shaving the pines, for tipi building

Haskaps and Seabuckthorn

This is a feature for a couple ‘superfoods’ that I have been working with and learning more about in the past 4 months or so, and it’s been awhile since I had a write up for any of the ethno-botanical foods in my habitat, that I frequented more in my domestic years, so this one is about two different berries that I have come to use in my diet, and for my hygeine and health, that I will share some inside information about.

Haskaps a.k.a. blue honeysuckle, or honeyberry is are genetically native to Russia and Japan, and grow in a pretty varied basket of cultivars. The Ainu persons of Japan have used this berry for a long time, and gave it the name. It’s relatively new on North American shelves but some health food distros may have some. It is amped with more potassium, calcium, vitamin E, vitamin C, iron and phosphorous than apples, oranges, grapes and blueberries, and the energy kcal is more potent, so I like to have them with a thick porridge in the morning, or neat as a juice. They are extremely high in anti-oxidants and other flavonoids like Ferulic acid, Caffeic Acid, Ellagitannins, and Quercetin. They mash into some pretty sweet jams and chutneys, and distill to make strong gin or vodka, they can be sundried or frozen, and they survive harsh winters, while blooming in -10. They can also be grown from culture. If you can find a Japanese grocery store, you could find some Haskaps, and they are even more creative with their products.

Seabuckthorn a.k.a. Seaberries are a shrub grown mostly throughout Scandinavia, Siberia, Germany, Tibet and coastal Maritimes. They can only be harvested every two years. This one is making ground in the U.S. as a permaculture crop. They can tolerate salt in the air or soil! and grow well in sandy areas like beaches. They used to be a remedy for horses by their soliders for weight gain, and for coat health. It is one of the only berry plants that have protein in the leaves, and also stocks a fair amount of fiber, carotenids, amino acids, and vitamins. It has natural sugar alcohols, so there is potential for wine or moonshine stilling. The oils are skin medicine, and the berry is high in plant sterols. It is also a nitrogen fixer, and has strong roots for soil strength. It can survive arctic temperatures, and harvest comes right before the winter freeze. They can repair blood and metabolism problems, as well as caridiac and pulmonary issues. The pressed berries when put in a jar separates in three layers, each layer serves a different purpose. The top layer of orange cream for skin treatment, the middle layer for edibles because it is high in unsaturated fats, and the bottom for juice. The berries are quite sour when raw, but there is a process called ‘bletting’ which is frosting them to reduce their astringent flavor. They can be malolactically fermented to sweeten them which changes the alchemy of the acid. The cream from the berry even protects astronauts from radiation, so why not use it here down on earth, where in our toxic world, we need any natural medicines we can use. I live near an abandoned sea buckthorn farm, one of few in the west, but unfortunately it is still too early for me to reap the fruits.

Tools ov the Berserker

A protector, ally, and tool of the Berserker. This is a black bear skull from the coast of southern Nova Scotia/Vinland. I am selling this to provide for my travels to Iceland and Faroe Islands. This will go out for $140 for anyone in Canada/USA who claims it. Included will be some Datura and Henbane seeds for deep seta and seidwork. Plant them or use at own risk.

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$140 (shipping covered) paypal to braydon_99@hotmail.com

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Nomad Work Transmission 1: Okanagan Fruit Picking

If you head south from Kelowna on a June eve, and drive through the Okanagan valley of Canada, there is a surefire chance of finding a few pickers along the way. Every year, a couple thousand vagabonds from the quebec province, and some far farther away like australia, and europe flock to the californian-esque wine canyons of the Okanagan to do one thing, harvest fruit.

I was one of these modern day vagabonds, though traveling from Texas instead, after treeplanting in Caribou, BC. I hoofed it down through Quesnel, Williams Lake, and a few other no namers and after being stranded on mushroom beach in Kelowna finally made it to the haven of cherry country. This year I returned to work on two haskap farms, a perennial berry with Russian and Japanese heritage.

The route starts at the border of Washington, in a small town called Osoyoos, where the first ripe cherries of the year will be red for reaping. A picker finds a camp here, humbly purchased from the local Canadian Tire if you are roughing it, or a more luxury style from MEC, some even have their own vehicles, but hitch hiking is bar standard around here. The picker will loose around town for the last few weeks of May, haggling the farmers around for a contract or three to start in June when the heat wave swelters in. Then its picking time from before the sun rises, until around high noon, realistically 1-2 when the sun is highest and hottest in the sky. The cherries picked in the morning hours before the dew condensates off the grass and the air still has a crisp chill like cider, is the ideal time for the fruit to come off the tree. You wear your regalia, a bucket that will hold a few kilos of cherries, and each one puts a fiver in your pocker. Some people do 20, 30, 40 buckets a day.

After the farms are bare of the red gems, you move north, to Oliver, and maybe take a thinning job for awhile with peaches and nectarines, or tend to grape vines, shucking, tucking, and pruning. This is the boring work, and doesn’t go by piece, so you don’t earn much, but you could have shorter days, take a siesta during the sun baking hours, and then put in some time in the evening before making camp. Soon enough the cherries will also be ready. Oliver and Osoyoos have the most wineries and cideries, and I have known some folks to get paid in wine and cash every day. Most of the wineries will only hire Mexicans that they fly up every year for labor positions, the rest are owned by East Indians and Sikhs. This can be a tricky relationship, because they and culturally a trades people, merchants for thousands of years, and the handling of money is something they are clever with. They can be hustlers if you are not careful, so a picker needs to make themselves clear and coherent if you don’t want to get taken advantage of. I have personally worked with several of these Hindoos, and while they were generous with hours, and the occasional cherry moonshine break in the shade, the money was not always what was expected. Working with the Mexicans still makes me feel a little closer to getting a fair deal, they don’t complain, but they know how to have a good time.

A picker can follow the work from mile 0, up through OK Falls, Kaleden, Penticton, Summerland, Peachland, and Kelowna with some east and west diversions in Keremeos and Cawston taking up anything from picking red and black cherries, to cutting table grapes, harvesting cider apples, making wine, or sweating it out in a greenhouse, or a tree farm. By the end of July, dependind on how much alcohol you choose to consume, you may leave a few grand saved up, then some people choose to caravan south to the festival circuits in the U.S.

Over a three year time span, the Okangan has been my home for at least two partial seasons. The Nk’mip Indian reserve and desert habitat is a great attractor, and the landscape is yield to some beautiful flowering cactus, wild sage, white tailed deer, rattlesnakes, coyotes, and songbirds. I have spent many hours with the French, around dying fires, and wandering the town, looking for a distraction or stimulation from the picking routine. They are a loud and crazy bunch, but do have the ability to be subtle and informative. They will tell you about the best places to find morels that year, and their stories from the Yukon. The lifestyle of a picker is rather a smorgaboard of different personas, but most of them are free-living hippie types who drive thrifty cars or volkwagens, and spend their time in the parks smoking chronic joints. The picking is intense for about a month, and then it’s over, unless you know how to move through the zones for different cultivars and ranges of the fruit, but you won’t be limited to fruit. Several stands are set up for vege as well, and there is potato, tomato, asparagus, and green reaping as well, but it’s not as common. I can say the work can be fairly monotonous when you are standing under a tree, always seeing the same thing, and performing the same movements over and over, but you can find the odd organic orchard, that may do things at a slightly different pace from the monoculture of cherries, peaches, and apples.

It is easy to find work for a traveler if you come with the right mindset. Just sit in a cafe and folks will tend to instigate a conversation and ask you what you are doing in the valley, tell them I sent you.

On the Question of De-horning Livestock, and Castration

The issue of goat welfare came up on the farm the other day, and raised a few contentions in my mind. It not being my own farmstead or my personal goats, I could have no control or coercement over the final situation, in the end, a decision was taken that in my mind was not conducive to goat and livestock welfare, and actually morally wrong, so I wanted to raise a flag, and see if there are any others who are alligned with the same mindset.

A male goat was to be sold to another farm in the locality, because her last goat, her only representive member, was ‘bored’, and needed an ungulate companion. Said farmer asked the owner of the farm I currently dwell on if she could buy one of her males. But she did not want any offspring, and concurently requested for the goat to be castrated and de-horned, you know, so they don’t fight or fuck, like that natural wilderness inside them impells them to, such would be a terrible thing, sarcastically speaking. Said man goat in his youth, was taken to a ‘friend’ by the farmer, and had the deed done, permanently sterile, and had his horns cut, and burned down… and then sold at a ‘fair price’.

Now, in the words of Sepp Holzer, and Austrian permaculturalist, on de-horning, he says “It is extremely painful for the animals and also has an effect on their behaviour. Acording to my observations, they act in a completely different and disturbed way. They butt each other in the stomach, which can lead to premature or stillbirths in pregnant cattle.In addition to this, I am of the opinion that dehorning cattle also affects them in other ways. I think it is possible that animals also store and dispose of harmful substances in their claws and horns. Dehorning as well as docking tails and cropping ears is nothing more than mutilation.”

Thus is can be said the same for goats, dehorning them only creates a false sense of equal rank, instead of establishing a hierarchial system that exists also in other mammals like wolves, the beta’s and submissive serve the alpha, usually female, or farm animals like the chicken pecking order, these are important natural orders that people try to manipulate and change for better keeping conditions, during the domestication process, they lose their innate behaviors and have problems with the social structure of their kin. Removing the horns is taking away their power, and possibly as Sepp Holzer notes, an external source of waste for possible pollutants, herbicides, insecticides, fungicides, smog or processed and gmo chemicals and substance that enter the body, the same way humans do in their nails and hair. On the castration issue, I think this stands as obvious, that we must treat animals with consideration, and it is straight mutilation to do such a thing. Ask yourself what you think about circumsicion, or female clitoral cutting at birth, as well as that of castration, this is mutilation, a form of punishment or conditioning, a medieval torture method.

I generally go against domestication of any kind, including the human kind, and in my opinion, the ideal farm would be left partly feral, just tended to from the wilderness with space for animals to live in a natural ecosystem, not a paddock or pen. I could almost feel the pain of this unsuspecting goat, who was chosen to have its man parts removed for the sake of a quick sale. This goat is now sterile, essentially removing it’s lineage forever. It will lose its testosterone, and its meat will take a lesser quality, not to mention he may suffer from arthritis from the lack of strength in his elder years. He will be more susceptible to problems if he accidentally consumes infected grasses, poisonous mushrooms or chemicals that somehow infest its feed from the monsanto type companies that control much of the farm feed at its source. I am completely against this move, and ask others to consider what they would do with their livestock, and animals, and consider them like family.

A special note to add, only some centuries ago, our Celtic and Germanic Ancestors, of Northern Europe did not have a separate room for their cows away from the house, it was attached to the main building, and on specifically cold nights, they would sleep one or two on each side of the cow to keep warm. The cow was clean at all times, and not looked at as a kind of bestial creature, made for living in the muck. They had a name and a place. They were a valued member of the farm.

 

IF

Rudyard Kiplings words keep returning to me, mulling like wine, reminding my heart of virtue, seeing me through heartwrenching loss, keeping the crow wings straight and true. I recorded this over a year ago.
If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!