genderwild mystic; diary #6

I almost died again two days ago -in my favourite place to almost-die. The last time was much more serious. The last time, misjudging the light and the tide, I found myself edging up a broken cliff-face of dirt and loose rock -worse than scree- visibility rapidly decreasing to the point that, as I reached the summit I was practically advancing by touch alone. As I strode along the cliff-top directly afterwards, I felt consciously reborn.

This time, a bit further north again from Bude, sleeping in the abandoned military shelter (probably) a little south along the coast-path from Hawker’s Hut, I took a day to scramble around the cliffs and beaches below, although it had only meant to be a few hours. On the other side of the ridge from Tidna Shute I descended a scree slope, full of boulders at precarious angles, sure that I knew what I was doing. It turned out to be a little tougher than it looked as, near the bottom, throwing my bag down before me, I had to skirt round some jagged boulders and grab on to loose gravelly dirt for half a second in order to swing me safely the final few yards to the solid boulder-scape which extended into the sea. These boulder-scapes are characteristic of the north Devon and Cornwall coastline.

Okay, so I didn’t ‘almost die’ this time but I was closer to death than I care to get on the average day. It then seemed to take me forever to jog and climb the boulders around the cliff-side -as well as some dragons-teeth sections of cliff in order to get to the beach on the other side of Tidna Shute, the objective of the whole exercise. I lay on the beach, exhausted from recent days of mental anguish, thinking that I would lie there right up until the tide retreated once more. I observed and heard some comical and stunning-looking birds, which I now know to be oystercatchers, and on a faraway rock mid-water a cormorant sunned itself. It was then that a darkness descended within me. Perhaps it was for lack of drinking water but I suddenly did not want to write or to study the books that I had brought. Suddenly I did not like the feeling of being isolated and trapped on the pebbles. Observing the cormorant which perched almost still for a few hours, did not help much. This was despite that I had come here to be less human, to be more of the wild. As the tide began to retreat and I began to edge back along the coastline, I realised I would not be able to return to my shelter via the scree slope. I would have to travel further back towards Bude, hoping or assuming that with the tide retreating there would be a clear passage to the place where I knew a stream cut a cleft in the cliff-side that could be walked up.

Early on on my way back round, before reaching the scree slope I risked a brave but safe climb to negotiate some lingering waters -a little higher than they had been on my outward journey- I was shaking afterwards. Then I found a clear path up a short face next to the outcome of Tidna Shute, filling my bottle from the waterfall. This easy traverse had been hidden ‘over the edge’ on my outward journey, forcing me to double-back earlier. So I reflected now, that when running and climbing rocks, what looks easy may be very dangerous and what looks impossible may actually be simple and safe. With a little thought, this lesson can be applied to life in general: only through taking risks can we develop our intuition and experiential learning about which situations require practice and study, which situations can be traversed easily with existing skills (although bravery may be needed) and which situations should be avoided entirely.

When I was sat on the beach before heading back, I wondered at the apparent default thinking patterns of my brain when facing a difficult situation. Thoughts of self-recrimination and even self-hate quickly gathered momentum. When I was a fair way past the scree slope and back towards Bude, as an oystercatcher circled my head, squeaking like a rat warning me off, the darkness suddenly gave way to light. This was not to do with my immediate predicament. It was that a new strategy of life, for the foreseeable future presented itself. This was the remedy to the mental anguish I had felt prior to taking the bus to Bude for this much needed break.

Knowing how clever the unconscious mind is, I now realise that I had engineered my strandedness on the beach, via that dangerous descent to reflect the urgency of this point in my life, a crisis in home (where shall I live?) and career (what should I spend my time on and how?). The wilderness of the coastline and the sure rhythm of the tide then became my comrades as, escaping immediate physical danger, their bareness and profound non-human beauty, along with my mindful jumping from rock to rock, were the perfect alert and blank canvas for sheer despondency to give way to sheer hope, like an inevitable wave, and then a pivotal plan for my near future emerged -I sat in the shade of a rock to scribble, oystercatcher circling aggressively.

It was apt that I still didn’t know whether I would safely reach the point where I could access the mainland, at least not without entering the water. I think at this point the danger was minimal. Apt because I didn’t know, because I don’t know, whether my new ‘life-plan’ will take me safely onto the main path of my life, which I have envisioned from behind and below, as if from a dangerous rocky beach, for so long now.

One of my writing jobs for this little wilderness retreat was to pen the next instalment of my genderwild mystic diary. I had thought to write of gratitude, including as related to the ‘first’ mystic practice of self-restraint. I also wanted to expand my explanation and exploration of my first practice to incorporate proactivity and the fresh directing of will-power, from moment to moment, seeking out the new, or the ‘solution’ in any given moment in a way that springs released, a shute through the side of old negative habits that are now being restrained. For instance, having been sex-obsessed and vulnerable to the obsession re-surfacing at times of stress and change, as I paced my way along the coast-path from Bude towards my temporary abode one day previously, just off the bus, I proclaimed of the wilderness around me that was teeming with insect-life and punctuated by birdsong and wild blooms of colour that also sung; ‘this is sex!’ I meant that the wild unfolding of life around me, the rugged coastline and my awareness of these, were a deep-felt and vibrant sensuality as satisfying as any orgasm.

The experience of despair and then breakthrough amidst the rocky coast are an affirmation of this mystic breaking free, moving forward with new solutions and new ways in the context of a Nature which will always be dangerous. Since that experience, it is easy once again to feel that gratitude which I periodically lose in the arrogance of my desire. Desire for sex or for achievement, desire that was righteously robbed from me by rocks and the ocean as I was forced to live moment by moment by quick wits and feet, desire ironically returned to me once I had paid Nature Her dues, once I had briefly sacrificed not just my selfishness but my existential security. ‘Here, so make your little plans’ She mocked, once my safety was assured.

The second practice of this genderwild mystic is gratitude. I have so much to be grateful for. I am grateful for this fit and healthy body that at nearly forty years old can run across boulders and free-climb cliffs. I am grateful for the clarity of this mind that can process the life with which it comes into contact daily, in such a fulfilling way. I am grateful to every member of my family -all have helped bring me to this place, however dark the means at times. I am very grateful to be alive at this extraordinary moment in human history, although I have sometimes wished it otherwise. This moment of Transition between two forms of global civilisation, this moment of sped-up Evolution due to ecological crises (much publicised, much ignored). Even though I know the bloodshed is likely to increase over the coming decades, I have great faith in what lies beyond, and gratitude that I am playing my small role in the beginnings of that beyond.

I hope and pray that whenever I lose this proper perspective, this gratitude, my unconscious mind and the sexy wilderness will collude once again to bring me closer to death, even if it must be uncomfortably close to rouse me from my arrogant spell and breathe my life.

‘All My Tomorrows’ -Evolving Epic

This is the beginnings of an epic poem. A history of my life which I hope sheds some light on the issues that I care about, in a way that may also inspire others. So far it is focused around gender, sexuality and mental health, but over time I intend it to develop to be a reflection of everything that I see as vital within me; everything that is expressed through the Epic Tomorrows blog and business.

 

All My Tomorrows

 

Next time I come I will kill the Man inside

I was birthed in a WASPital, Scots-beseiged

He gave grey opium to my fragile mother

In-out skirts of Europe’s heroin city

Clinical trial, Empire pushing it on China

-The Scots mountains glowered

But the light of my Spirit daybroke

Pulsing for the justice to be

 

Far from the north is the English southwest

We moved for the sake of Father Career

Forgotten wee lassies and laddies just gone

Two girls and a boy, my coven my clan

Paled for Him, rugged, the eagle’s decline

Lesser buzzards, scanned the factory lowlands

Neither they, nor I could make sense of this botch

-Patchwork, the bank-rolling countryside irks

 

Quilted confused…market-town fused

From aged three I was praised without boundary

But vaguely blamed for failures in the fable home

-That was my mother, I was provided for

Instilled with liberty’s statue, that was mother

And my poor dear father, I was traumatised

In the porch, three years after Scotland

-You left, the never-returner –trauma echoes daily

 

I played with girls carnally young and free

Explorer of sensuality, piano keys and paper

A little older I touched boys, that was me too

The big shock of big school, soul’s blocked unfurling

Uncompromising sports field, trust degraded

Of the life of the Father, sickening classroom

Sometimes I found wilderness, self-touched in mud

Reluctant into Manhood’s violent ways

 

Now aged sixteen, mind heavy, metal rebel

Pierced and couldn’t kiss the numbed young women

They meant too much to me and most of them

Seemed bewildered, maybe traumatised by Him

I never knew genderqueer, this was ‘ninety-five

And Queer favours the city -didn’t live there

Yet my genderwild Spirit fought its way undefined

Amidst brambles, meadows and cannabis smoke

 

At eighteen on a trampoline, my desperate lock on

To a woman, ‘men have girlfriends’ Father said

Went to university ‘because that’s what men do’

Father said. I learnt how Greece and Rome

Got away with murder, (Catullus and his cunts)

Smoked too much skunk, bombed on speed

Ate the junk food of the Man, ate it all

In Midlands towns, dead canal’s hope

 

This renegade son did fancy women some

Too shy for Father’s laid out courtship role

So I grabbed hold of another I was indifferent to

‘This is what men do’ spake Father, ‘now chain your heart’

The metal got angrier, I broke down came home

Mother-coddled again, diag-supposed a ‘social phobic’

Father said ‘you are inept at my game

-There’s no other’ (Phobic of that is no illness)

 

I was grain-fed diag-dozed-bull-nosed ‘depressed,

Moderately, with psychotic features’ i.e. Father’s sins

Obfuscated in this painful presentation

Capabilities pressed-down and frustrated

Then pressed-down and frustrated by medications more

Which sought to check my lofty projections

Of what humanity could achieve in me

And the others I knew who took their own lives

 

I learnt the Buddha-Dhamma and it was life

To realise deep in space, I’m neither he nor she

I took up boxing, to kill the Man inside me

Learnt tantra alone, came in fountains of rainbow

Joy of Holy Spirit coursing through in

Moments healing every Fatherly ill

‘No-one could touch me’ but I wanted touch

Genderwild Spirit, caress of leaf, thorny taunt

 

Lonely slipped, tripped into pornographic hell

By umbilical cord of deathly cable broke

Free years earlier but the images returned:

Women doing headstands in pools of primordial

Maggots crawling in their eyes, a huge dais

Supported on their feet, atop of which, a throne

Occupied by Father which is to say haunted

By fetid sob of guilty rage, repeated zombified

 

-I met a woman as selfish as I –as sweet

The destruction of She, of Earth, mental health

On her land we built against, railed against, unlawful

Silent haven with a magick core of confluence

Karmic threads infinite, there where redemption

Of everything was possible, yet the tragedy was

Our love was not equal to our difference

Or the madness of the district’s laws

 

Labelled again, ‘borderline personality disorder’

This fine personality disarrayed on society’s fringes

-This society disordered, by a Romanian shrink

Border-ashamed of her agrarian country past

She assured me it was ‘modernising’ (Father spake)

Like her profession’s pills would ‘modernise’ me

The pills that traumatised I now refused to take

And her suggestion that my unfinished projects

 

Were a sign of illness and not the poetry

Of an expansive mind spiralling out to completion

Through ever grander, superseding ventures

Like the mass adventure of humanity itself

-Then named ‘bi-polar’, this sort of oriented

My map –no time to teach the new doc

Long hungover as I was from illicits and psychiatrics

But thank you doc yes, a certain soaring, a crash

 

‘Schizoaffective disorder’ was then slapped on by

A young psych-twist who received the careless

Wilful spin I gave my condition that day

In orders that I profit from the welfare state hateful

Yet I had no need, for the whispers were real

The sensitive Cosmos is all my affect

And clear to me, flickering through this no-mind

Too quick for doc to notice, but voices keep stock

 

-The first time delectable, the only sweet time

I ever fell for a man, walked onto a farm

He was shovelling earth, we both knew at once

Our conversation, bisexual could stay just in talking

Relief of revealing release of cross-dressing

-Yet crossing what? Patriarchy’s nasty ‘transvestism’

Father’s ice way, not admitting our freedom

Spirit spitting fire through genderdom constructs

 

Spirit castigating the love that is reined

His possessive lust, monogamy, now I realise

Since school days of awakening sexuality

When I’d pen epic erotica of all the girls

That my sex is liberated but greater than that

My love, my soul is unfettered is the quick

And deep growth is the sun’s love, the shoot

(Even when through us Earth wars with Herself)

 

-To Rojava! Where the women determine themselves

Defend and study the science of themselves

In a gaping whole blasted through the nation state

That drew my Spirit through the cybersphere

English comrades have gone, recalling Spain

To where the town decides what’s best for the town

Attacked by cold Turkey, Father Erdogan

Accruing weapons from the bitch at Britain’s helm

 

Thirteen painted ominous and absent by such men

Thirteen moons birthed roots thirteen of oceans well:

First moon wilderness, second, wilderless human builds

Third, the body’s hoelth, fourth, Godly dirty ecstasy

Fifth, materials to live, sixth, a family to give love

Seventh, community, eighth, a society to give worth

Ninth, worth spoken and heard, tenth, understood, eleventh

Created afresh, twelfth, in Spirit, thirteenth all dramatically told

 

Now finally the genderqueen’s Voodoo chile

Erupts from my guts, an alien to some

Plans plenty hatched but yet to conquer

Yet to soar like the Scottish golden raptor

Now I don’t want, particularly, women or men

Most would put me out back in a box again

The same old has failed, chaste in my rebellion

If you’re not a rebel with me, chase me hard

 

But if you are genderwild I may rainbow come to you

Killing the Man inside that has kept us sweetly sick

Be we he, she, both, neither, inbetween

And orgasm as yourself and say no to all drugs

-Now frightened I crouch in my rural base

Dartmoor rocks, gushing Spirit mine, inexhausts

I was never a Man –never will be –was never

Mentally Ill –all I’m is this Rising Up!

 

 

 

 

genderwild mystic; diary #4

This post is dedicated to my trans friend -they know who they are- who in a Facebook conversation the other day reminded me that I need to qualify further what I wrote in my last diary extract about balancing ‘male’ and ‘female’ energies.

The other day I wrote about the idea that whatever gender (or indeed sex) we identify as, it is a healthy thing to strive for a balance in energies, in what have arbitrarily been identified or constructed in mainstream society as ‘male’ and ‘female’. In other words, to be balanced in will power and outward directed energy (traditionally ‘male’) and love or receptive -not passive- energy (traditionally ‘female’).

I accept the full range of gender and sex identities. I accept that binary (male and female as ‘opposite’) and stereotyped sex and gender identifications are limiting at best and at worst literally destructive of lives. Nevertheless, to rephrase / expand myself, I think that a balance within a person of the arbitrarily ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’, however the person identifies on the sex / gender spectrums, is ultimately strengthening for the person’s identity.

In other words, I don’t see a problem with identifying ‘male’ as ‘outward’, of focused ‘hunting’ will-power; and ‘female’ as ‘receptive’ and ‘gathering’. You may tell me I’m wrong; I am a privileged white man, afterall. For me, ‘hunting’ is only a problem when it is the malicious hunting of living beings (actually or psychologically), just as ‘gathering’ only becomes a problem when it is poison that is gathered (actually or psychologically.)

But I am aware I could be / will be accused of gender essentialism. This is what my friend alerted me to the other day. The kind of spirituality I have been hinting at could be described as ‘Pagan’ or ‘Neopagan’ (how many quotation marks have I used in this post?) so I am compelled to answer the question, ‘Is Paganism guilty of gender essentialism?’. I use the word ‘guilty’ lightly, to be understood easily by queer folk and feminists.

As a genderwild or gender rebel mystic, I explore whatever resonates with me, from whatever origin, including all historically established ‘world religions’; and certainly Paganism and so-called magic(k) have been an influence on my thinking and practice, as well as Taoism, which also has clear ideas of ‘male’ and ‘female’.

This is what Wikipedia has to say about gender essentialism:

‘Gender essentialism is the theory that there are certain universal, innate, biologically- or psychologically-based features of gender that are at the root of observed differences in the behavior of men and women’

-but please note that Wikipedia also claims that ‘there are problems’ with the definition and discussion that has been submitted to their page.

By the above definition, it is easily arguable that Paganism tends towards gender essentialism. (Prove me wrong?)

But what if I use Paganism to discern traits of masculinity and femininity that I believe are common to all human beings, including the whole spectrums of sex and gender? What if I think that discerning between ‘male’ and ‘female’ traits within any individual, can help them become more balanced within themselves; whatever the identity of that person?

Whatever judgements you may have about these issues; can you discuss them with me? Can you inform me and help me improve? Can we improve together? Can you keep your judgements on hold? For me, balance is everything.

I am grateful for your patience. Gratitude is the second practice of this genderwild mystic. I like to identify it as a ‘female’ quality, common to all.