Hindu Gods and Goddesses

Monday, December 22, 2014

Subtleties of Form

Subtleties of form, tales of perhaps lifetimes told in a woman's body: her shape and movements, her gestures (whether graceful mudras or awkward limbs), stories subtly related in the curve of a woman's hips and thighs, the lay of the land that is her hills and valleys and canyons deep conveying myths of her lives and deaths and her pilgrimage with eternity, proffering adventure for whatever lover would explore her mysteries.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Memories and Musings of a Post-Postmodern Nomadic Mystic Madman

Preface to Memories and Musings of a Post-Postmodern Nomadic Mystic Madman

I am a dead man walking—er, actually I am currently sitting and sipping a highly honey-sweetened cup of Wyoming-roasted coffee with cream on the back patio of a coffeehouse in downtown Laramie.  The pale-brown liquid within my cup has grown quite cold over several hours sitting and exposed to the elements of a high-country afternoon, though ice has yet to form around the rim.  I sometimes gaze into the swirls of milk fat floating on the surface and the patterns of variously mixed solutions of bean juice and water and honey and half-and-half to scry with what shapes might emerge to tell of things present, past or possible.
I don’t mean that someone has me as their mark, necessarily, or that I am keeping a wide-eye open for fear of potential assassins, necessarily.  My point with these words is in fact rather more stark.  What I actually mean by this opening statement, these first words in print after flyleaf and front matter, is that I have already been murdered, and perhaps on as many as five occasions.  The most poignant and certain instance of experiencing my own homicide occurred one ordinary summer’s day at dusk in Golden Gate Park, when two bullets were rather randomly and undeservedly introduced to the inside of my skull after an otherwise pleasant and uneventful day on Hippie Hill.
In addition to such homicidal intrigues, I have encountered sasquatch, a skinwalker, holes in space-time, and a shape-shifter who did her turn whilst astride my lap.  In pursuit of romance and the hidden secrets to life and history, guided by instinct, intuition, chance, and sometimes helpful deities, I have been granted many such glimpses behind the veils of normalcy—at moments to my delight, and at others to my terror.
At a certain point in life I decided I had a desire to unabashedly seek the truths that seemed unavailable in academia or conventional religion, and to discover what hidden magic and beauty and adventure this world really has to offer.  I concluded at some moment of disillusionment or discontent that merely reading books of fiction or supposed scriptures to find inspiration and truth, else vicariously viewing others’ explorations and adventures on TV or on the big screen proved insufficient means to satisfy my yearnings to experience or to satiate a want to know, and thus I decided that I had a need to endeavor the quest, and by the most quixotic and heroic means I might have need that I might find what abides behind life’s curtains. 
And so I began to live as a wandering renunciate before I truly knew what this meant or might imply, hitchhiking and train hopping and backcountry rambling on a simple and more or less innocent search for answers and quest for love both transcendent and terrestrial.  Thus began the ride of my life.  Visions and experiences that answered to my curiosity and were revealed to my searchings surpassed extraordinary, and indeed met with the sublime, and even Divine.
I have been tailed by a tornado in the badlands that bore the certain imprint of God made manifest, and have pursued an apparent apparition of the Goddess across the breadth of the continent.  I have crossed the threshold between life and death more than once, though still I breath, drink, eat, piss, shit, think, and even occasionally fuck, and thus by all appearance and common indicators, I am quite alive.  In the most recent third of thirty-six or so years lived I have experienced things most would assume the stuff of fairy tales or fantasy, mythology or merely a wild imagination.    
Yet here I sit, just where I sat some twelve years ago, and with little if anything overt to show for my years of questing, labors of love, challenges to the system and changes to myself.  I now have a PC upon which I type these words, whereas then I had a Mac.  This evening I pen (er, type) my early memoirs, whereas then it was my Master’s thesis I labored to complete.  Little else overt has changed, save that I am now long since estranged from then-wife and son, church and institution, I have lived over a dozen years more, and these days don a beret and wool overcoat instead of a thin cotton trench coat and ski cap.  Three fat dreadlocks also now dangle amidst the otherwise unknotted past-shoulder-length hairs on the back of my head.
The sun is setting behind the Snowy Range Mountains, and the oft-ferocious high plains wind is only a gentle breeze this evening.  I’m watching this rather dull spectacle (compared to the best or even average of Laramie sunsets) from the back patio at Coal Creek Coffee Company’s downtown coffeehouse and roastery.  A freight train is roaring past beneath the steel footbridge that spans the railroad tracks which reside between my vantage and the sunset.  This bridge links the downtown to the Near West Side, and purportedly is or at least was longest of its kind in the country.  Random pedestrians in wool coats and down parkas pass by both near my seat and strolling over the human viaduct in the background, faces only glimpsed between snuggly wrapped scarves and hats pulled low, and fewer I know now than I knew in days past in this small city on the high plains.
Said painted black steel and concrete span, occasional trains rumbling beneath, the derelict smokestack tower that stands ten stories tall behind, and people passing by in warm winter gear provide an excellent foil for the now dark gray clouds and fading light and subdued colors of this evening’s sunset show—or would it be the other way around?  Regardless, it seems to me at this moment, this picture painted in words might offer a poignant backdrop for you to bear in mind as you read on, dear reader, providing a scene that appropriately sets the tone for the tales to come in this text.
Before the beginnings of my wild and weird cross-country adventures, before I tried to make a break from the system’s sometimes subtle and subliminal hold, I would often sit at this very table laboriously researching and writing my Master’s thesis, “Non-Essentially Occidental:  Heteroglossia in the European Discourses on Islam.”  Back then I still held on to some semblance of the assumption that there was a comfortable place for me within “polite society” and inside the bounds of the popular consensual reality of Anytown, USA, and its various venerated institutions.
Never quite finished this thesis, and thus abandoned hopes of becoming a certified PhD professor-type.  Instead I decided to seek the truths of self and other (and “Self” and “Other”) outside of familiar text and tradition and institution, to take to the open road to search for evidences of heteroglossia (many tongues) telling different versions than the officially-sanctioned and academy-approved, and to find a more personally valid and abiding title or state of being than “Doctor” or “Professor.” 
In this loosed condition, wonderful and weird magic and mystery unfolded before my sight and other senses.  Wisdoms both beautiful and terrible were bestowed as the wide world opened doors to mysteries archaic as well as immediate, from revelations regarding obscured secrets of ancient myths and migrations of ancient Gods and their peoples to the manifestation of divine plays presented first-hand in my own life-lived.  Such accounts are the substance of this bound book, dear reader, presented for your entertainment, and perhaps for the enrichment of your own life-lived in this everyday world, where truth proves more than meets a mere two eyes . . .

Available in print or eBook !!!

Monday, December 1, 2014

What is Yoga . . .?

Cologne Digital Sanskrit Lexicon: Search Results

2yogam. (1. %{yuj} ; ifc. f. %{A}) the act of yoking , joining , attaching , harnessing , putting to (of horses) RV. MBh. ; a yoke , team , vehicle , conveyance S3Br. Kaus3. MBh. ; employment , use , application , performance RV. &c. &c. ; equipping or arraying (of an army) MBh. ; fixing (of an arrow on the bow-string) ib. ; putting on (of armour) L. ; a remedy , cure Sus3r. ; a means , expedient , device , way , manner , method MBh. Ka1v. &c. ; a supernatural means , charm , incantation , magical art ib. ; a trick , stratagem , fraud , deceit Mn. Katha1s. (cf. %{yoga-nanda}) ; undertaking , business , work RV. AV. TS. ; acquisition , gain , profit , wealth , property ib. Kaus3. MBh. ; occasion , opportunity Ka1m. Ma1rkP. ; any junction , union , combination , contact with (instr. with or without %{saha} , or comp.). MBh. Ka1v. &c. (%{yogam} %{i} , to agree , consent , acquiesce in anything R.) ; mixing of various materials , mixture MBh. R. VarBr2S. ; partaking of , possessing (instr. or comp.) Mn. R. Hariv. ; connection , relation (%{yogAt} , %{yogena} and %{yoga-tas} ifc. in consequence of , on account of , by reason of , according to , through) Ka1tyS3r. S3vetUp. Mn. &c. ; putting together , arrangement , disposition , regular succession Ka1t2h. [856,3] S3rS. ; fitting together , fitness , propriety , suitability (%{yogena} and %{yoga-tas} ind. suitably , fitly , duly , in the right manner) MBh. Ka1v. &c. ; exertion , endeavour , zeal , diligence , industry , care , attention (%{yoga-tas} ind. strenuously , assiduously ; %{pUrNena@yogena} , with all one's powers , with overflowing zeal) Mn. MBh. &c. ; application or concentration of the thoughts , abstract contemplation , meditation , (esp.) self-concentration , abstract meditation and mental abstraction practised as a system (as taught by Patan5jali and called the Yoga philosophy ; it is the second of the two Sa1m2khya systems , its chief aim being to teach the means by which the human spirit may attain complete union with I7s3vara or the Supreme Spirit ; in the practice of self-concentration it is closely connected with Buddhism) Up. MBh. Ka1v. &c. (IW. 92) ; any simple act or rite conducive to Yoga or abstract meditation Sarvad. ; Yoga personified (as the son of Dharma and Kriya1) BhP. ; a follower of the Yoga system MBh. S3am2k. ; (in Sa1m2khya) the union of soul with matter (one of the 10 Mu1lika7rtha1s or radical facts) Tattvas. ; (with Pa1s3upatas) the union of the individual soul with the universal soul Kula7rn2. ; (with Pa1n5cara1tras) devotion , pious seeking after God Sarvad. ; (with Jainas) contact or mixing with the outer world ib. ; (in astron.) conjunction , lucky conjuncture La1t2y. VarBr2S. MBh. &c. ; a constellation , asterism (these , with the moon , are called %{cAndra-yogAH} and are 13 in number ; without the moon they are called %{kha-yogAH} , or %{nAbhasa-yogAH}) VarBr2S. ; the leading or principal star of a lunar asterism W. ; N. of a variable division of time (during which the joint motion in longitude of the sun and moon amounts to 13 degrees 20 minutes ; there are 27 such Yogas beginning with Vishkambha and ending with Vaidhr2iti) ib. ; (in arithm.) addition , sum , total Su1ryas. MBh. ; (in gram.) the connection of words together , syntactical dependence of a word , construction Nir. Sus3r. (ifc. = dependent on , ruled by Pa1n2. 2-2 , 8 Va1rtt. 1) ; a combined or concentrated grammatical rule or aphorism Pa1n2. Sch. Siddh. (cf. %{yoga-vibhAga}) ; the connection of a word with its root , original or etymological meaning (as opp. to %{rUDhi} q.v.) Nir. Prata1p. Ka1tyS3r. Sch. ; a violator of confidence , spy L. ; N. of a Sch. on the Parama7rthasa1ra ; (%{A}) f. N. of a S3akti Pan5car. ; of Pi1vari1 (daughter of the Pitr2is called Barhishads) Hariv.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Keepin' it together forever . . . sanAtana dharma

Though sanAtana dharma is clearly to me key to the whole mystery,

clues and cues and parts of the puzzle are extant in every land and o'er every sea and play through the array of faiths and paradigms,
sometimes quite cleverly deployed in subtle symbolic and oft ironic hints


Shiva Linga and Omphalus

proffered by those who weave the webs that hold the show together and make it entertaining . . .

and worthwhile.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Surreptitious She Smiles

Surreptitious She smiles,
beguiling guiles
and so many guises.
Most often in Her eyes
She tells me She's there
in whatever woman's
glance or gaze,
though other (mostly) playful clues and cues
do betray Her presence too,
in this or that lovely devi
might pass me on the street
or sit nearby in a café or bar.

Sweetly She loves me,
when I am graced with Her intimacies shared,
Her kisses upon my lips,
round breasts against my chest
legs intertwined with mine,
and one in a way not unlike
when She and I were truly
Two that were One.

In every love song
are more than traces
of this our love.
Subtly or no the lyrics
are of our story true,
and every soul that is
both plays a part and sings along
and is that story too . . .

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

She is Every Ma . . .

Reflecting upon how beautifully gracefully She has shown Herself to me . . .
So many beautiful women who've conveyed to me transcendent love and beauty beyond (though certainly not excluding) romantic love. 

Playfully She has elicited my desire both base and for infinity and eternity. 

In her mudras and subtle spoken words, Her lovely form in dance and passion unfurled, Her body intertwined with mine at times, I sense Her through her, as She is always there in the beloved if let to be.

Her eyes telling of Love and hope forever, and through Her glimpses are glimpses granted me of possibility and promise. 

If mostly to date She's shown Herself as Durga, mostly "inaccessible" as Her name means, in fact She is always present and attentive to Her devotee, accepting of my admiration and duly admiring me when I might deserve. 

Sometimes it is through a lover, some amazing woman does show me of this Great Yoga,
Lovers yolked together through ages and eternity in so many poses and postures, faces and places and stations where We play our love play, She and I.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

brahman is God/Goddess; atman is the part of us each and all that reminds us that that is what we truly are, illusions aside . . .

Thursday, May 1, 2014

My People . . .

My people: the hippies, the yogis and yoginis, the righteous freaks, the punks, metal heads, the Grateful Dead and the Gratefully Dead, the Rainbow Tribe, the wrongfully oppressed, the humble farmer, the mystics true, those who fight for Family true, the bar flies with a wish for something better, the abused who deserve to be healed, the tribes who love the earth, the Ancient Divine, Devas and Devis and those devoted to them, Ganas, Maruts, Apsaras and Ghandarvas, the humble householder who truly seeks God, the vagabond wanderer who seeks the better than what we've made of it, the Warriors of Love, the singers and players who believe in the music, those who seek beauty true, those who won't accept the lies, ghouls and goblins and sinners who've surrendered to the Divine Good, those who believe in the Good Eternal, etc., sanAtana dharma bhakti !!!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mamasita and God who says "Moooo"

Pondering certain memes and meanings within commonly repeated colloquialisms, the subtle spells sanAtana dharma weaves into the daily conversation of so many people and peoples in so many tongues, which keeps them inadvertently tied by intonation to those most ancient wisdoms, those at least as close as humanity has to “eternal teachings.” The most obvious little sacred spell designed to keep humanity in tune with the ancient ways and vibrations: “God” is derived from the Sanskrit root go, which means “cow” as in the Holy Cows graze in the pasture and intone “AUM” backwards, and which grace humanity willing with their own milk. The simple fact that another creature, biologically unrelated to humanity save very distantly, essentially nurses us as if one of their own is at least analogous to the Providence of the Divine, caring for mere mortals so seeming separate from the Divine. Thus when people call on “God” using that English word they are invoking that ancient Deity worshiped yet in India in the actual form of the bovine beasty, and in a globally recognized expression of anthropomorphisized or transcendent Benevolence, in fact even overtly worshiped by most peoples' ancestors in some guise or other as Bull Gods and other Sacred Cows.

Every time Abraham and Sarah are named in a Hebrew prayer their speech cannot but be recognized as an echo if not occulted invocation of Brahma and Saraswati, the Creator and His Consort according to sanAtana dharma, and at least the namesakes for the Hebrew patriarch and his wife who indeed came from quite near Indus Valley Civilization before crossing southern Asia to reach Palestine. When a Muslim speaks the primary confession of Islam he or she is saying one of the kalima, a veiled reminder of Kali Ma, Black Mama Goddess of the Universe according to the teachings of sanAtana dharma. To the Muslim, “community” is Ummah, at least vibrationally invoking Uma Himavati, another form of the Goddess Mama of the Universe. Christians devotion to their Shepherd is more than analogous to Gopis worship of Krishna the Cowherd, a functional pattern applied again or copied from sanAtana dharma. “Yoga” is root to the English word “yolk,” as in the brace used to tie a horse or other creature to a cart or a plow. “Allah” without the “h” is one of Durga's names, thus intonationally Muslims are calling upon the “HIndu” Goddess of the Universe when they say their “God is good.”

When a crowd cheers, “Hooray!! Hoorah!!” their words echo as “Hari-Hara!!” in fact invoking Vishnu/Hari and Shiva/Hara who in Hari-Hara form are the Maintainer and Destroyer Avatars of God sharing One Body. When in the Spanish tongue a woman is called “mamasita” those syllables intoned invoke Devi Ma Sita, Wife of God Rama who is another form of Vishnu/Krishna. Devi Sita is an Avatar of Prithvi, Mother Earth, and is said by the Ramayana to be a small framed woman. So indeed in some guise Mother Earth is worshiped by the Spanish when they call someone mamasita/“little mama.” An Aztec Native American Indian calls himself or herself “Astika” which in India's sacred speak Sanskrit means “faithful one, or one who believes in the existence of God/another world.”

Despite whatever theological or cultural tangent, placed within the words and ways of common people everywhere remain means of tying the whole show together, to maintain those strands of sacred stories and names yet woven through virtually every culture and mythology which call upon the most ancient and abiding, sanAtana dharma. Thus despite overt grand differences between peoples, such spells spun by Lalitha or whatever Devi or Deva within whatever peoples' ways remind them or the spirit within them, however unacknowledged consciously, of their kinship and connections to the others and to the same ancient sacred stories and ancestral understandings of the Divine. At least over the last five to ten thousand years there is indeed a coherent and unified narrative of the drama and dharma of us all and our ancestors, and spells woven within everyone's words in every tongue, that has been and shall continue “keepin' it together forever,” sanAtana dharma.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Second Time I Was Murdered . . .

Chapter 2 from Memories and Musings of a Post-Postmodern Nomadic Mystic Madman
A True Account of a Murder: From Another Side
I suppose I have told this true tale enough times, I ought to find it an easy task to commit said narrative to writing. Nonetheless, I shall approach this written record of actual occurrences with all due diligence and precision as I endeavor to share a concise and hopefully entertaining account of a series of real events that occurred to me over the expanse of seven years or so, events that have inexorably altered my understanding of life and death, and indeed, of what is real.
The reception of a live storytelling (the mode by which I am accustomed to sharing this true tale) and an account to be read are necessarily very different experiences. A reader cannot see the storyteller’s facial expressions, hear intonations of a speaker’s voice, nor notice fluctuations in pupil size, breath or gestures as she or he peruses the print. The reader is thus left to other devices to evaluate the verity of what is read, and at most might envision an imagined rendering of the narrator in the act of storytelling to help assess the truth of words writ, assuming the writings’ style doth permit.
I understand that the content of this tale will be difficult to believe even for the most open-minded amongst you. I will attempt to keep such factors in mind as this true-life account of multidimensional and mindboggling implication flows from memory to fingertips to keyboard, and then to whatever medium to you, dear reader, and as I present my case with appeal to your deeper access to truth, free inquiry and discernment, as well as to your sense of literary pleasure.

Devotions in Yosemite
It was pitch black in the tall stand of pines engulfing the campground, dark pillars holding up a slightly less dark sky. I had a sense of invisibility as I began to chant in a deep, billowing and sincerely devotional manner, “Aum Namah Shivia, Aum Namah Shivia,” over and over, differing tune and tone, pitch and volume as seemed to suit the prana flowing through my form. As I attained a thoughtless trance-induced euphoria, a miniature-helicopter-like-air-chopping-sound brought me back to my earthbound senses at the floor of Yosemite Valley.
With the proficiency of an old west gunfighter drawing a sidearm, I retrieved my flashlight from whatever pocket, flipped the switch and simultaneously drew a bead on the mysterious culprit with a thin beam of light. An extremely large beetle with a rather extraordinary set of antennae lay motionless on the forest floor. In its descent to the pine needle-strewn ground, the bulky insect had missed my head by mere inches. Seemed certain the creature’s interruption of my impassioned intonations was indeed an auspicious sign—for lack of a better term.
Upon a closer inspection of this oversized bug bearing an intimidating set of mandibles, I realized its branching antennae were almost precisely analogous to the headdress on the Siva naTaraj murti1 depicted on the cover of a book which I was carrying amongst my belongings titled, The Only Dance There Is.
The two to three inch beastie bore armor that reflected or refracted an array of colors, glimmering on the surface of the bug’s deep black exoskeleton. Its two elytron (wing plates) and an armored sclerite (back plate) showed brilliant green and purple and blue and red under the narrow beam of light, leastwise in my recollections of the arrayal of colors vivid even under artificial illumination. The feathered antennae were black and branched out elegantly, likewise shimmering in the ray of light the flashlight projected. This beetle apparition held my attention for a number of minutes as I closely studied its colors and form before deciding to double-check my assessment of the antennae/sacred statue analogy.
I found my tent in the dark forest, pitched in Yosemite National Park’s only walk-in campground aside from those far from roads on backpacking trails. No reservation was required at this site, and the fees were reasonable. For a combination of these and other reasons, this particular place to pitch a tent or hang a hammock was notorious for attracting hippies, hardcore rock climbers, and various other fringe elements amongst outdoor enthusiasts.
At one time Camp 4 was completely avoided by the park’s transit buses merely for the fact that the people who were want to pitch their tents under the tall trees there had excessive amounts of fun—a clear case of discrimination. To offer an image to grant a glimpse of the raucous reveling this site had seen, I was told that during the seventies and into the eighties the tourists aboard passing transit buses often received a choreographed view of so many moons from far below the sky whilst driving by this locus of a somewhat wilder Yosemite camping experience.
In my cozy tent, sleeping bag already in place and a small Ganesha tapestry hanging above my pillow, I examined the photographic representation of a brass dancing Siva, a thin yet muscular figure surrounded by fire and crowned with a multi-branched headdress, four arms and two legs and posture in perfect yogic pose. I unhesitatingly concluded that the beetle’s antennae and the statue’s headdress were indeed more than mildly similar, if not nigh precisely same. Now I will concede, many features of religious representations are drawn directly from observations of nature. Nonetheless, the coincidence of my transcendental chant and the apparition of this beautiful beetle with the Siva Nataraja headdress was enough to convince me of the auspicious nature of what I had just experienced.
Still in a devotional mood and mode, I lit candles and incense, smoked some herb and began to chant “Ganesha Sharanam, Sharanam Ganesha,” an invocation of the popular Indian deity who is responsible for the creation and removal of obstacles, among other things. After a few rounds on the mala I wore round my neck, I stopped to examine my breath and enjoy the altered awareness that comes from meditative states generally, and specifically from the resonant vibrations of a voice’s voluminous Sanskrit intonations bouncing around a practitioner’s skull and chest—quite a nice “natural” high.
As this euphoria waned, I experienced a sense of loneliness, and quite naturally associated this with my dearth of female companionship. I had been separated (for a second time) from at the time still-legally-wife for better than a year, and had not experienced any sort of significant satisfying intimate relationship since our parting. The energy I had directed into the aforementioned newfound ancient practices had gone a good distance towards transforming these sorts of immediate desires. I had just attended a wedding, however, and I met a beautiful and intriguing European woman (I’ve forgotten her specific nationality—Spanish or Italian, I think) on a backcountry trail and again in the campground who piqued my interest and sense of want for female companionship.
In this mood and mode, I decided to ask via this divine remover of obstacles, represented (‘present?’ or perhaps better, ‘presented’) in the orange and brown and yellow died tapestry depicting said elephant-headed deity, if he might be so kind as to remove whatever obstacles might prevent me from a positive relationship with an attractive woman. “Nothing too committed, mind you Ganesh,” to paraphrase my thoughts, “I’m not even divorced yet,” though seems other reasons and events unmentioned and perhaps unmentionable had indeed already sealed that union’s cessation.

A Neophyte Post-Hippie-Era Hippie Goes to Haight-Ashbury
From Yosemite, I hitched a ride with a self-represented white-Rasta driving a rusty blue van to the nearest town with rail service, and from there caught a train to San Francisco—my first visit to the west coast since I was ten years old. I checked into the Green Tortoise Hostel, a lively bunkhouse in a neighborhood of strip clubs and trinket stores and a noted hub for world-travelers where one could stay for $20/night and feel fairly comfortable openly smoking marijuana (in the recreation room, at least) and sipping a beer whilst mingling with numerous and interesting world travelers. The hostel also served as a point from which one might embark on adventures to a number of destinations aboard one of a number of painted-green vintage greyhound-style buses converted to offer cuddle-puddle style sleeping accommodations for upwards of forty-three people.
I soon set out to explore San Francisco’s fabled hippy-mecca, the Haight-Ashbury district. Admittedly wearing rose-colored glasses (er, John Lennon style shades) as I walked up and down these streets, the once-homeland of the free-love, peace, and psychedelic movements, not to mention the origin of lots of good music, I scarcely noticed that the Grateful Dead were either dead or had moved to Marin or Sonoma County, that Janis and Bobby McGee were nowhere to be found (though Wavy Gravy was still hanging out), or that love-ins were just plain a bad idea with HIV a significant factor by the mid-1990’s.
It didn’t even annoy me that the price of herb on the street was rather steep. A “haighth” (a Haight Street-purchased eighth-ounce of marijuana) is often up to a gram light, else up to twenty-dollars higher than the price to be found in California outside of this particular cutthroat marketplace (unless you “know somebody”). I was also not yet so immediately conscientious regarding the ironies of the commodification of 60’s counterculture as I am now, and went about my days a very happy and high neophyte-postmodern-hippie wandering the Haight.
Blissfully exploring this famed district of the city by the bay, I soon discovered Golden Gate Park’s “Hippy Hill,” a locus for drum circles and lounging in the sun popular with longhair types and counterculture sorts since at least the Summer of Love. Emblematic of this hill’s history, some random dready informed me that an oddly shaped tree growing alone at the foot of this hill was made famous by a photograph of Janis Joplin sitting atop its branches. This tree is thus colloquially called “the Janis Tree.” The rather short and bushy tree is said to be just big enough for “a girl and her guitar,” though I’ve seen two or three climb out of this tree’s tangled branches—girls and guys and not necessarily guitars.
Other stands of trees surround the grassy hillside, home to a cadre of gutter-punks and the likes who are often the source of the infamously short bags of weed, and apparently not infrequently the perpetrators of violence after dark in this once gathering-place of peace protests and free-love. I made the acquaintance of a few of these and other regulars who hung out around the hill and at the Haight street entrance to the park, and thus maintained my supply of grass despite the steep prices, remaining comfortably high the whole time I was in the Bay area—as is only apropos for a recently-converted hippy’s first time in San Francisco.
On one particular evening I remained on the Hill until after dusk, enjoying the evening sky’s last light. As I began to make my way out of the park, I approached a shadowy grove of trees at the edge of the expanse of green grass. Though the sky was not yet without a reminder of the sun’s setting, the trees obscured what little natural light remained.
In what seemed a mere moment, a shadow-obscured male figure approached unseen from my left side, said something I cannot precisely recall after placing a pistol to my left temple. I felt two concussions as I turned to retreat, my vision suddenly pixilating to a narrow tunnel—not unlike experiencing any significant bang on the head—and I was abandoned of my consciousness far before I hit the ground.
Next thing I knew I was standing on the other side of this grove of trees, just off Hippy Hill, disoriented and bewildered, but without the expected holes in my head—and it was now daytime!!
What the fuck just happened?” I asked myself. “Did I dream that? ‘BANG-BANG?’ Did I sleep in the trees? I know I didn’t go back to the hostel last night . . . what the fuck?!?!” I didn’t even have a headache, and certainly no blood gushing out some hole or holes in my head.
I gazed around at the sunlit park setting and contemplated the absurdity of this most bizarre of situations, indeed quite dazed and confused (please pardon the cliché). After a few moments attempting to regain my bearings and composure, I noticed an attractive young woman sitting in an open grassy span. She was sporting a recently shaved-head and wearing a lacy white dress, and as her gaze met mine I decided to make my way towards the opening. Over the next few seconds, as I walked in the direction of this apparition, my cognizance of the preceding events faded from memory. Not until seven years later—perhaps to the day—would I recall the happenings of that odd evening, and specifically the percussive event which turned that nefarious night into day; led back to this lost memory by a mysterious woman, a mistress of disguise, who rather reminded me of this woman sitting on the patch of Golden Gate Park grass.
I sat several yards from this lovely figure in white and pulled out my notebook to write in my journal and work on some poetry. As I not so subtly smoked some sensimilla, I noticed she was taking note of me. A week or so later this first person encountered “on the other-side (?)” approached me during the Sunday afternoon drum-circle on Hippy Hill.
Hi!” she said with a warm smile whilst offering me a small flower extended in her right hand, “my name is Aan—Angela . . . ”
Nice to meet you, I’m Jeffrey.”
After half-a-moment of silence, I invited Angie to sit with me. She asked what I had been writing the other day. “Poetry,” I told her.
I write poetry too. I’d like to show you some sometime, if . . . if I have the opportunity.”
Sort of randomly, she also told me she was into “role-playing” whilst we sat on the grassy hillside, enjoying the wild rhythms and melodies of drums, flute, and whatever other instruments were engaged in the weekly improv sesh, and sharing bowls of herb and joints with others sitting round us. I admit, I presumed she meant by “role-playing” some sorta San Francisco fetish sorta somethin’. I soon took a different interpretation of this statement, however—excepting of course when she brought out the maid’s outfit complete with puffy petticoat one time . . .
Angie and I strolled to Strawberry Hill to ride a paddleboat around this hill’s moat, ate some Middle Eastern cuisine, then headed to her studio apartment, just off lower-Haight. The first thing I noticed as we entered her domicile was a large tapestry of Ganesh on the wall at the head of her bed!!
You might not believe this . . .”
I told her of my supplication to Ganesha in Yosemite several days previous, and she told of having made a similar request around the same time. I soon moved my things from the hostel and ended up staying with Angela for about three weeks.
A couple of interactions in our short but sweet relationship became important clues informing my endeavors to discern the meaning of a bizarre storyline, clues later pieced together that would vex my already broadened paradigms and expanded consciousness.
A few days after our meeting, Angie showed me some of her poetry, apparently typed on an antique typewriter (judging by the font) on plain white paper. Upon examining these words, I realized they were in fact Ani Difranco lyrics.
Very nice,” I said as I handed them back, silently contemplating any number of scenarios regarding these indie-pop lyrics presented as personal poetry. Is she a plagiarist? Is Angie really Ani—thus the mispronunciation of her own supposed name at our introduction? Is Angie role-playing as Ani Difranco role-playing as an anonymous person? On another occasion I asked her to play the guitar that sat in the corner of the otherwise nigh empty apartment. She replied that she was “trying to give it a rest for a while.”
After a few quite blissful weeks with this sweet and somewhat mysterious lover, I boarded the Green Tortoise bus for a ten-day cross-country trip to the east coast. After our parting, Angie apparently made a few attempts to contact me, and I likewise made a few attempts to call her when I was back in the Bay area. I haven’t seen or communicated directly with her since, however, unless a mysterious woman I encountered about seven years after this in the Bay Area was Angie, yet again playing roles . . .?

Revelations of Life and Death: The Golden Gate?
Many miles and experiences later, I was in California holding tickets to fly from LA to Delhi. I was staying with my friend Joe in the Sebastopol area, an hour or so north of the Golden Gate Bridge. We were passing through downtown at dusk on a balmy yellow-sky Friday evening when I intuitively sensed I should check out what was goin’ on at the bars. Tom, a friend of Joe’s, stopped the small sedan at my request and I hopped out and walked round the corner to O’Connell’s.
The chalkboard at the door touted the evening’s band, “D’Gin” or some such seeming cipher. I’ve revisited potential meanings of this playful appellation, and come up with at least three probable intentions: Dig-In, Da’ Gin (fermented juniper berries) and Djinn (genie), or some such clever derivation. I bought a pint of a local microbrew and danced my way towards the back end of the bar and towards the stage. The vocalist, a tiny little dready mama with a stellar voice, immediately made eye contact with me, raising one eyebrow to form a rather distinctive wrinkle on her forehead. She reminded me a bit of Angela, and was a perfect doppel to Ani Difranco—so far as I could recall either woman’s appearance.
Two of my friends from the area had fed me the information that Ani D. owned a house near Santa Rosa, was involved with a festival in Guerneville, and had been playing with an anonymously named band at small venues in the area. Ah, now everything comes into focus . . .
The band on stage was by no means amateur, and I recognized some of the songs as Ani D’s, though the very professional renderings were a bit different than any I had heard in recordings. The vocalist even executed a particular Ani stage move I had only seen performed as effectively by my good friend Star/Jessica, and of course by Ani D herself on video (had not yet seen her perform live, unless with an assumed identity on this evening in Sebastopol).
Danced till first set-break, then sat at the bar. The mystery vocalist sat down a seat away and ordered a beer. I complemented her music and introduced myself. She told me her name was “MeMe” or “MiMi,” pronounced like a repetition of the personal pronoun. The tenor of her intonation indicated an intended sarcasm, as if to say, “and you know that’s not my name.” We exchanged a few other pleasantries, then she abruptly turned her head in a manner rather like rolling ones eyes with the whole of one's head, and then walked backstage.
Later I smoked a bowl of some NorCal heady-nuggets (very good marijuana) with some guys from her band and a few random others in the parking lot behind the bar. When I asked one of the band-members his occupation, he replied, “Oh, these days my life pretty-much just revolves around MeMe.” The same sardonic tone seemed to convey the same subtle message: “and you know that is not her name.”
Next day I investigate. At Incredible Records I leafed through the sizable collection of Ani Difranco CDs. On the cover of a more recent release, a portrait of Ani with dreadlocks bore a more than slight resemblance to “MeMe.” An older album cover—from about the time of my SF affair with Angela—showed Ani with a shaved head, and indeed I perceived certain similarities between this photo and my recollections of Angie’s visage.
At a coffee house in Cotati later that day (or the next?), a woman I happened to engage in casual conversation mentioned a free Berlin show in Golden Gate Park. Still in investigative mode, I started to add stuff up: free concert by a powerful female vocalist from the eighties (think “Metro,” not “Take My Breath Away”), and thus a likely influence on Ani; Golden Gate Park, the location where I’d met Angela . . .
Didn’t find the show, but whilst sitting on Hippie Hill I noticed a short woman sitting to my left with a couple of openly affectionate lesbians in her company (fitting well respective M.O.’s for both Ani D and Angie—both self-avowedly bisexual). She looked directly at me and raised one eyebrow, displaying the same pattern of wrinkled forehead flesh I had noted on the singer’s face a few days previous. I made bumming a cigarette and a loaded bowl my excuse to investigate at closer range.
This woman, no dreads and only an inch or so of hair on her head, told me her name was “Slide,” then tossed her head away—like rolling one’s eyes with the whole of one’s skull—in the same manner as “MeMe” had done after our brief exchange at the bar. Hint: think of the TV series “Sliders” (plot deals with wormholes in time—gateways to other-dimensional Californias), and perhaps also pertinent, recall the female lead in Fight Club standing in “the power-cave,” takin’ a puff of a cig and uttering only the imperative, “Slide . . .”
Slide walked off into the trees, and I wondered if perhaps her head-tossing gesture meant I should follow. Uncertain, however, I remained seated, continued puffin’ with the others sitting there, then left the scene all the more intrigued as these strangely connected events continued to unfold.
Next day, again seated on the hill, I noticed a woman with the same body-size and shape who on queue stared back with the trademark raised-eyebrow-wrinkled-forehead-look clearly displayed. This woman had straight long brown hair, however, wore a non-descript light blue down jacket and blue jeans, and was in the company of some similarly conservatively clad college kids. She and I were the last two on the hill just after the sun faded. We exchanged a few slightly awkward pleasantries, then went our respective ways. I was quite certain this was the same woman as “Slide” and “MeMe.” I was quite baffled.
Third day sitting on Hippie Hill, I once again encountered a woman whose face and forehead and body seemed certainly to belong to the same woman, in yet another guise. This version was sitting in the midst of a gathering of SFSFs (I learned of this acronym of an appellation from some acquaintances whose gutter-punkish paths had lead them to the company of the “San Francisco Scum-Fucks”). This manifestation of said mistress incognito had long straight black hair, wore black patent-leather from unsnapped newsboy hat to knee-length shiny leather boots, and looked straight at me with the same characteristic facial expression as the previous three incarnations (for lack of a better word).
Again using shared smoke to gain a closer vantage, I sat three or four persons away from this sexy leather-clad mystery lady. I loaded a bowl to legitimize my continued presence amongst this rather savage tribe, observing with an attempt at nonchalance. A few other park inhabitants joined the flock, including a rather rotund black man that bore a startling resemblance to Forest Whitaker who reclined just below me on the hill.
I had encountered this fellow quite a few times over the previous few days. Upon the occasions of our paths meeting, he would generally approach me asking for money or herb. “Hey, ya’ got any weed? Gimme some weed,” he’d say with a whiney nasal tone, or the same spiel, replacing “weed” with “money.” In retrospect I recalled that years previous some random Rainbow hippie happened to have randomly mentioned that Ani D. and Forest W. were friends. Ah, now things come into focus . . .
Whilst reclined below me on the hill this fellow began to fidget and then began to gyrate his hips in a rather grotesque fashion. I immediately thought of the fat demon Siva stands upon in Nataraja pose. Following this intuition, I turned the sole of my right foot towards this fellow. He started to squirm as if suddenly very uncomfortable, then cried out, “SIVA!” and then stood to his feet and walked away. Just as I had thought! Ha, ha!! A few moments later, a senior member of the gang, short but broad and burly, approached me.
We decided we’re gonna have a conference now, and it’s time for you to move!!” he growled in a not unfamiliar, labored and deliberately low and gruff tone—the kind of artificially raspy articulation adopted by many crusty older homeless men or veteran A-campers (“alcohol-camp” at Rainbow Gatherings).
I’m actually comfortable where I’m at,” I responded, seated in half-lotus, and quite appropriately ending my sentence with a preposition, to which he followed with something quite like the imperative, “You better fuckin’ move or I’m gonna fuckin’ kick your head off!!”
You know, this is a public park, and if you and your friends don’t want to sit by me, you can move,” said I, not willing to cow within view of this mysterious woman, genie, goddess, or whatever she was, despite whatever hesitations and trepidations instinct or conditioning might be want to elicit.
The whole of the crew, with the notable exception of the mysterious femme fatale, then began to hurl their refuse at me. Luckily the projectiles were McDonald’s sacks and wrappers, plastic bottles and paper cups, and not glass 40oz. bottles, dirty needles or whisky flasks. In the midst of this barrage, the leather-clad lady leaned forward, looked my way, and said in a rather stern yet calm voice, “You should move.” I gladly took the opportunity for a graceful retreat, yet left this scene with more questions and few answers. Who, and as importantly, what was this being, appearing in so many different guises? though not by given evidences a shapeshifter, perhaps a djinn? a goddess (and possibly even with a capital “G”)? and certainly at least a masterful Mistress of Disguise.
Later that night at the Haight Street entrance to the park I was puffin’ with some random hippie when a small dready kid not much over eighteen stumbled out of the dark, bleeding from a few places on his face and carrying himself as if he had broken ribs.
Eight of ‘em jumped me! Eight of the motherfuckers jumped me and beat the shit outa me . . . all I did was ask for a cigarette,” he said, a few tears falling o’er bloodied cheeks from blackened eyes.
I wrapped a wool blanket around him, concerned he might go into shock in the chilly San Francisco evening air, and then tried to call emergency services. The injured individual then wandered off into the city night wrapped in the gray blanket before I could secure him some medical attention, to my slight dismay.
The next morning I made my way down Haight Street from my bed in the bushes deep in the park. A few blocks down Haight I encountered a young couple moving things into a moving van. They stopped me and asked if I wanted to make a few bucks. I obliged them, and spent somewhere near an hour carrying tables and chairs and TVs and so forth down a narrow flight of stairs. The fellow was moving back to the Midwest, Michigan or Ohio or some such. After emptying the apartment we all stopped for a smoke.
As we stood in front of the stoop and I had a chance to study faces, I thought for more than a moment that the female of the pair looked more than mildly familiar, save that she was three to four inches taller than the figure I had been encountering, and she didn’t quite give me “the look,” though had the short hair of “Slide,” a newsboy hat (plaid wool and not black patent leather, snapped closed) and she almost raised her eyebrow appropriately to present the by now psychically imprinted or leastwise well memorized forehead wrinkle pattern.
I walked away nearly certain I was delusional, thought it must be merely my poor mind was imagining this face’s repetitive apparition. Had someone dosed my morning coffee? Had I slipped over the fine line between insightfulness and insanity? genius and mental degeneration? I bought a cup of coffee and smoked a bowl to think it over.
That evening I was yet again sitting on Hippy Hill, taking no warning from the violence of the previous day and evening. The sun was nearly set, and there were at most a couple of other people remaining on the green grassy slope. I was about to get up to leave when I noticed the woman I had met whilst moving furniture earlier in the day. She was on the hill at about the same elevation as I, and twenty to thirty yards or so to my left.
She turned her head to look my way, and lifted one eyebrow to fully form “the look.” Because of the bend of her knees, the cuffs of her bell-bottoms were lifted enough to reveal that she was wearing elevator shoes (if the proper term for the then-hip super-thick-healed footwear) with THREE TO FOUR INCH SOLES!!!! I was NOT delusional in my earlier identification: it was indeed the same woman! She immediately stood and started down the hill towards Haight Street, towards the grove of trees (where seven years previous . . .). I decided I had to ask, needed to clarify, must understand . . . WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!
I caught up with her at the edge of the trees.
Hi! So how did the rest of the move go?”
Oh, fine,” or some such said she.
After a couple more unsubstantial sentences were exchanged, and before I had the chance to ask her anything of her “true” identity or connection with these other uncannily similar incarnations, I was suddenly blindsided by a blow to my left lower lip from a fist flying from out the shadows. Only mildly fazed, I managed to do some sort of fancy wrist-lock with my left hand as my shadowy assailant drew his fist back for a second punch, and then responded as automatically with three quick rights to his head. This was a rather uncharacteristic response, by the way, as I am generally non-violent by nature and I am not trained in any martial art.
Still grasping my assailant’s wrist as he was reeling from the punches I had delivered, he exclaimed rather dazedly,
Hey, that’s not fair! You’re not s’pose ta’ grab somebody’s hand, you’re just s’pose ta’ beat ‘em down!!”
Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t realize there was some unwritten code to street fighting,” I replied, rather more calmly than I would have guessed I would’ve, considering the situation.
But . . . those were some good hits!” he added, extending his hand almost as if not of his own will or volition. I grasped his hand, gave him a half-hug, and said, “Well, I love ya’ brother.”
Well, I don’t love you!” he said, retreating a step or two, perhaps afraid I might try to kiss him or something.
That’s OK, you don’t have to,” I said as I started to walk away. Of course the mystery woman had left the scene by this point.
A few steps into the trees and further towards the tunnel that leads to Haight Street another fist came out of the darkness, striking me in the same spot on my already bloodied left lower lip. I did not even stop to face this second attacker—among other reasons, because I assumed more black-clad SFSFs might materialize from out of the woods to take me on as a pack, as they had with the dready kid the night before.
As my head was buzzing from the combination of two punches, vision a bit blurred, a memory returned that shook me to the core: seven years previous and just before I had met Angela, it was not two punches, but two bullets that were delivered to my head at this very spot. I had been lured back to this site, perhaps precisely seven years after my initial altercation in this precise location, to have my memory restored—to be granted the realization that I had passed on to “the other side,” or some such shit. Overwhelmed by this bizarre realization, I quickly made my way down Haight Street, and I have not returned to Golden Gate Park since. Since and at that moment of realization knocked back into my head, I have sifted through many other memories and from various evidences have been given cause to wonder: has this sort of thing happened to me before? since? Indeed, after a good bit of retrospection and contemplation and reflection on certain past events, I believe and have good evidences it has . . .
I walked hurriedly down the nearly deserted street, still trying to put things together, tears more than once falling as my steps carried me down Haight towards the east. I checked into a hostel, and next morning took a bus to Cotati. As I hiked towards Sebastopol from the bus stop, I noticed a large and conspicuous banner hanging from a privacy fence next to the highway. It read, “YOU ARE MISSED, JEFFREY!” Yet another clue, hint or allegation strewn before my path, whether to clarify or misdirect . . .
For the next three weeks or so I stayed at Joe’s. Before this fateful stay in San Francisco I had already missed the bus to pick-up my passport in time to catch a train or plane or bus in time to get to LAX in time to board my non-refundable courier-flight to Singapore to then fly to Delhi to begin a trek to Mount Kailash, so I decided to go to the National Rainbow Gathering, a hippie thing held somewhere in the National Forest every summer since 1972.
To offer a glimpse inside the mist-shrouded and mysterious camps of these many and variegated magical peoples who migrate to alternating states’ wild places each summer for this celebratory rendezvous: wander with me now, if your imagination will allow, down a mountainous dirt road, sometimes only one lane-wide. You’ll notice stone cairns denoting that you’re on the right track, else indicating where to turn. At main gate you’ll be met by someone or other likely wearing tie-dies and uttering the traditional greeting “Welcome Home,” and likely offering a hug and maybe a toke off a joint.
Between parking and the main meadow you may encounter “A-Camp,” the only place where alcohol is acceptable at a Rainbow Gathering (one of very few basic guidelines or “rules” at Rainbow Gatherings other than common decency and respect). This is certainly the least mellow fire-circle to sit around at night. Said group might be described as not unlike bikers without hogs to ride and who also happen to have heightened environmental consciences,2 else as gutter-punks who left the gutter behind for a seat by a rushing mountain river, but couldn’t yet leave the 40oz back in the city. Bus Village(s) are obviously located where there is viable parking, thus also towards the outskirts, and are often site of a veritable art exhibition with VW Bugs and Buses and even sailboats soldered atop old school buses, as well as other modern gypsy-style hippy wagons custom-designed and embellished as if the certain product of an intense acid trip.
After a mile or two hike towards the interior of the gathering, you’ll notice an increasing density of tents and hodgepodge campsites with Buddhist prayer-flags or tie-died tapestries bearing depictions of Hindu deities or Jimi Hendrix or a Grateful Dead bear or peace signs flying from tree branches. Music from distant drums or from a flutist making merry whilst wandering in a nearby field of flowers or spilling out from a guitar held tenderly by some brother or sister kickin’ it by a smoldering log or the din of some random crew crying out “We love you!!!” in order to elicit the same peace-cry from some other kitchen or fire-pit circle, else some likely synchronized combination of these sounds meets your ears as you get closer to main meadow.
Kitchens begin to appear randomly amidst the forest’s kaleidoscope camouflage, complete with cooking-fires, countertops built of woven sticks, and sometimes earthen-ovens to bake pizza or brownies for the masses. Community fire pits also increase alongside the trail, and all sorts of beautiful people start to manifest out of the forest greenery and the shadows of tall trees. Naked earth-goddess-mammas wearing only glittery body-paint and fairy-wings walk by, gazing at backpack-clad newcomers with exceedingly dilated pupils and blissful smiles as they offer the appropriate “Welcome Home,” and often offer a bare-breasted hug to whatever random homecoming hippie. Keep in mind, however, this is no free-love fest in the late-60’s sense, and respect and reverence accompanies the nakedness here, through and through. Adults and children play in the field and forest, and wild people in many states of dress and consciousness sit and dance ‘round wild drum circles that often last all night.
If you pass by Yoga Meadow, you might see a certified tai chi master giving lessons for free next to an Ashtanga yoga instructor, likewise teaching willing practitioners an ancient healing art for no charge. You would almost certainly hear chants of “Hari Krishna . . .” if you passed near the ISKCON tent (they make really tasty if over-sweetened Indian food, and pretty descent chai, by the way), hymns to Jesus if you happen by “Jesus Camp,” or perhaps pagan chants to Mother Earth or a Hebrew prayer or random (or synchronistically spoken) Sanskrit mantras issued from some circle or other within the greater circle of the gathering site.
Laughter and kind greetings and the smell of weed are in the air just about everywhere, and an overall harmony generally ensues in the midst of so much diversity. I’ve never yet heard of a skirmish between the Jesus-campers and Fairy-Camp (gay/lesbian camp) at a gathering, nor of any pitched battles between Serenity Ridge (an AA/Twelve-Step kitchen) and A-Camp.
I admit I have yet to see a Halal camp pop-up at such an event, though I once happened upon a Kosher camp called “Jerusalem Kitchen” at a National Rainbow Gathering. Indeed, I’d imagine there’d be a much better chance of peace in the Middle East if you sat Jerusalem Kitchen down with whatever Islamic crew might consent to come to a Rainbow Gathering—“Mecca-Camp,” maybe (yes, there is certainly such thing as a Muslim-hippy). Simply fill a hookah with some good Lebanese hash and passed around some mushroom tea, and then let these peace-loving tree-huggers come up with the solution to the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. Else perhaps bring Israel’s Knesset together with the Palestinian National Assembly on a small tropical island and dose the falafel or matzo for a similar outcome—though likely with a higher dosage required.
In the somewhat-center of this site of several thousands camped together peacefully there is a large meadow with a “Peace-Pole” posted in the middle, symbolizing the central theme of these gatherings. Food is free here, though everybody’s s’pose to lend a hand where they can. Exchange of cash money is anathema here (unless to contribute to the “Magic Hat” fund for food and other necessities), and credit cards are not accepted. Trade-circle is the central marketplace, where blankets laid-out display hand-made drums, blown-glass pipes, hemp everything, tools and cool hippie clothes and chocolate bars—for trade only. Cannabis is the most stable currency (though that’s the case in the U.S. generally), weed is smoked freely and reverently everywhere, and psychedelic explorations are not discouraged—though drugs are not allowed.
Shanti-sena, or “peace-force” (à la Gandhi), made up of anyone and everyone at a gathering, keeps good order and deals fairly with conflicts. If any responsible adults happen to hear someone call out this Sanskrit mantra they are obliged to make a beeline to the scene of whatever conflict to help resolve, and might be noted that the mere intonation of these syllables is supposed to invoke peace. Nonetheless, the Fed’s can’t seem to stay away, sending in the LEO’s with firearms to harass the peaceful under the guise of “protect and serve.” These “forest-cops” with their side-arms are often told, generally politely, that we don’t much appreciate “guns in our church,” and these intruders are always preceded by calls of “Six-up!!!” to let others down the trail know they ought to extinguish and pocket all pipes and joints till the nuisance passes. Other Forest Service personnel who sometimes show up, biologists or botanists or water-quality surveyors and so forth, are generally received as less intrusive guests than the ones who think we need policing and who carry pistols into our peaceful assemblies and places of prayer.
I have actually heard of more than one “defection” from the Fed’s ranks to the freak-side. Indeed, I’ve been made privy to multiple reports of forest rangers deciding it wasn’t too late to “tune-in” and so forth, stripping off light-green uniforms and joining their long-lost family in a joyful reunion (often after having been offered a tiny piece of perforated paper or a chunk of chocolate covered fungus).
All in all, this rag-tag gathering of peaceful dissidents maintain a pretty tight ship, with no leaders and no designated or elected representatives, no centralized planning to speak of, and consensus as the primary “rule of order.” On the Fourth of July, upwards of twenty to fifty-thousand freaks stand in a massive circle round the “Peace-Pole” to utter the sacred syllable “AUM” (which is, by the way, the root of the Judeo-Christian “Amen,” and Muslim “Amin”—there is a subtly pronounced “ñ” at the end of AUM) intended to promote world peace and harmony.
By the time clean-up crew is gone, scarce a trace of these thousands is left to sully the wilderness scene, and even skeptical forestry bureaucrats and field agents are generally surprised that a bunch of pot smokers and trippers are so fucking conscientious and such responsible stewards of the land. No fire pit is left intact, shitters and compost holes are buried and concealed, trails unmade and reseeded with native seed, and every last trace of human habitation or litter is remediated or removed. You’d be hard-pressed to find even a single cigarette filter remaining amongst the natural forest floor debris by the time we’re all gone.
Anyways, a few days into my stay at this particular National Rainbow Gathering, which was held near Mt. Shasta that year, I was walking along the road at the edge of the site when what did I spy but a familiar small-framed woman with short hair sitting by a tree, singing blissfully to herself and any who might happen to hear her. As she noticed me approaching she ceased her song, reached out her right hand with index and small finger extended and exclaimed (one eyebrow raised in characteristic expression),
San Francisco says, ‘What’s up, yo’?!?!’”
Before I had a chance to formulate a response, she continued, “C’mere, c’mere, I got somethin’ for ya,’” beckoning me to approach with waves of her hand.
She rummaged through her belongings and retrieved something in a small square plastic package.
Here, you might need to give this to somebody sometime, er somethin’.” It was a reflective emergency-blanket, still in the wrapper!
Sit down! Sing somethin’ with me!”
I sat to her left on the side of the dusty road and attempted to recognize the lyrics of anything I might know as she tried out a number of well-known tunes, but to little avail—I’ve only a very few popular songs committed to memory. We abandoned this shaky endeavor as a couple of other hippies happening by stopped to chat. I stood and walked on as she conversed with these others, uncertain of how precisely to perceive this last (certain) encounter with said mystery woman.
By the way: just a little ways down the trail a fellow camper, wet from head to toe from some likely trip into the creek, just happened to asked if I happened to have anything to help him stay warm on his hike back to his camp. I gave him the still packaged and folded reflective-emergency-blanket and continued towards Main Circle, skipping-on-down the trail.

Afterthought for the still skeptical . . .
Mind you, dear reader, in case you had your questions: I was not under the influence of any mind altering substance during these encounters, save a bit of weed, and on occasion non-intoxicating levels of alcohol. Neither of these could have altered my perceptions to the degree necessary for this to have been some series of delusions or illusions—save as illusion is what all of human experience is at some level, as some religions contend. Only towards the end of my stay at this gathering did I very reverently receive some smoke of DMT (said substance having been derived from Valerus grass or the root bark of a mimosa tree, by the way), a potent hallucinogen which does have the capacity to produce visions potent enough to be dubbed “delusion.” Oh, and I also chanced to share in a cozy chat with Ram Das/Dr. Richard Alpert at his campsite—speaking of psychedelic spirituality and so forth—though didn’t try any of the goodies likely to be found nearby.
This narrative of events is true, as much as any set of experiences I have known. Many of the conversations writ here are quoted verbatim, and all are at least very close approximations of the represented verbal exchanges. I have examined many scenarios that might render these series of events in some other guise, and no alternative explanations add up as well as what I have faithfully represented in the preceding, humbly offered for your consideration, dear reader.3

1 A murti is a statuette or other devotional depiction of a deity; Siva naTaraja is Mahadeva—“Great God, The Destroyer”—as the Lord of Dance.

2 A-Campers tend to be among the last to leave “clean-up,” and can certainly be lauded for their efforts in separating recyclables from compost and other refuse in spite of (because of?) the “alcohol vibe” presented ‘round their space.

3 Perhaps I should note: certainly should this narrative become published—which I fully intend—then it is not an unlikely scenario to expect, that someone or other with inside information comes forward to help me to fill in the blanks, and if by some odd chance you are that someone or other, please feel free to contact me to tell what you know of this twisted tale’s truths and turns, else those principles of maya might help explain these events and experiences.


The previous is chapter 2 from a travel narrative titled, Memories and Musings of a Post-Postmodern Nomadic Mystic Madman.  Click below to buy your copy now !!