In his book “Animals and Psychedelics: The Natural World and the Instinct to Alter Consciousness,” ethnobotanist Giorgio Samorini proves that many animals deliberately alter their consciousness. His evidence includes robins that get drunk on holly berries and act “like winged clowns,” as well as goats hooked on caffeine and reindeer that seek out hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Samorini concludes that the desire to get high is a natural drive. Intoxication has served as an evolutionary force for some species, breaking down outworn habits in such a way as to improve long-term survival.
A pig’s orgasm can last for 30 minutes. Orangutans and macaques masturbate with sex toys made of leaves and twigs. The ladybird beetle can copulate for up to nine hours at a time, and males are capable of three orgasms in one session, each an hour and a half long. If forced to decide between having a bigger penis and living in a world where there was no war, 90 percent of men would pick universal peace. About eight percent of domestic rams prefer other males as sexual partners. The male members of the fruitfly species Drosophila bifurca are one-eighth of an inch long, but their sperm can be up to 2.3 inches long.
As soon as the male praying mantis begins coitus with the female, she bites off his head and eats it. An adult female elephant’s clitoris is between six and twelve inches long, and the spotted hyena female has such a large clitoris that she is frequently mistaken for a male. An oyster is usually ambisexual; it begins life as a male, then becomes a female, then changes back to being a male, then back to being female. A whale’s penis is called a dork.
Donald Duck comics were outlawed in Finland for a time because the cartoon hero never wore pants. Some dolphins try to have intercourse with turtles, sharks, and seals. Slugs are hermaphrodites with penises on their heads. Asian stick insects sometimes fuck for ten weeks straight. The slime mold comes in 500 genders, and at least 13 of these have to collaborate in order to reproduce.
I don’t smoke pot myself, but scientist Carl Sagan did. He thought the drug enhanced his creativity and insights. Sagan said: “If I find in the morning a message from myself the night before informing me that there is a world around us which we barely sense, or that we can become one with the universe, I may disbelieve; but when I’m high I know about this disbelief. And so I have a tape in which I exhort myself to take such remarks seriously. I say ‘Listen closely, you sonofabitch of the morning! This stuff is real!’” - Keay Davidson writing in the S.F. Examiner
To me this suggests the possibility that even materialist scientists, when they agree to alter their awareness, might perceive realities that are normally unavailable to their five senses.
"Aborigines openly and unaffectedly converse with everything in their surroundings—trees, tools, animals, rocks—as if all things have an intelligence deserving of respect … The Aborigines believe that communication happens primarily on nonverbal levels, flowing as continually as life itself."
According to the indigenous people who lived in the Americas before Europeans arrived, the world is populated with spiritual powers that take the shape of animals and plants and natural forces. In other words, there are many forms of intelligence, not just the kind that reside in human brains.
It’s possible to communicate with these other intelligences. We can tune in to their alternate modes of knowing and seeing, thereby expanding our narrow understanding of reality. To do that, however, we can’t rely on spoken and written language, but must be receptive to their non-verbal codes.
Most modern intellectuals scoff at angels, dismissing them as superstitious hallucinations or New Age goofiness. But not all deep thinkers have shared their scorn. John Milton and William Blake regarded angels as real and as fully worthy of their explorations. Celestial beings have also received serious treatment by literary heavyweights like Saul Bellow, E.M. Forster, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and Leo Tolstoy.
Composer Robert Schumann had extensive dialogues with his imaginary friends, Florestan and Eusebius. They provided valuable ideas for his musical scores.
U.S. Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize-winner W.S. Merwyn wrote a poem in which he recounted the counsel of his teacher John Berryman: “He suggested I pray to the Muse / get down on my knees and pray / right there in the corner and he / said he meant it literally.”
For much of his career, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Merrill was renowned for work that was well-grounded, lucidly crafted, and formal in style. But while assembling his sprawling mystical epic, “The Changing Light of Sandover,” he used a ouija board to solicit the input of disembodied spirits, including several archangels and the souls of dead writers W. H. Auden and Gertrude Stein. He won the National Book Critics Circle Award for that tome.
Do you have any imaginary friends like that? What do you talk about?
Pray to whoever you kneel down to: Jesus nailed to his wooden or marble or plastic cross, his suffering face bent to kiss you, Buddha still under the Bo tree in scorching heat, Yahweh, Allah, raise your arms to Mary that she may lay her palm on our brows, to Shekinhah, Queen of Heaven and Earth, to Inanna in her stripped descent.
Hawk or Wolf, or the Great Whale, Record Keeper of time before, time now, time ahead, pray. Bow down to terriers and shepherds and siamese cats. Fields of artichokes and elegant strawberries.
Pray to the bus driver who takes you to work, pray on the bus, pray for everyone riding that bus and for everyone riding buses all over the world. If you haven’t been on a bus in a long time, climb the few steps, drop some silver, and pray.
Waiting in line for the movies, for the ATM, for your latté and croissant, offer your plea. Make your eating and drinking a supplication. Make your slicing of carrots a holy act, each translucent layer of the onion, a deeper prayer.
Make the brushing of your hair a prayer, every strand its own voice, singing in the choir on your head. As you wash your face, the water slipping through your fingers, a prayer: Water, softest thing on earth, gentleness that wears away rock.
Making love, of course, is already a prayer. Skin and open mouths worshipping that skin, the fragile case we are poured into, each caress a season of peace.
If you’re hungry, pray. If you’re tired. Pray to Gandhi and Dorothy Day. Shakespeare. Sappho. Sojourner Truth. Pray to the angels and the ghost of your grandfather.
When you walk to your car, to the mailbox, to the video store, let each step be a prayer that we all keep our legs, that we do not blow off anyone else’s legs. Or crush their skulls. And if you are riding on a bicycle or a skateboard, in a wheel chair, each revolution of the wheels a prayer that as the earth revolves we will do less harm, less harm, less harm.
And as you work, typing with a new manicure, a tiny palm tree painted on one pearlescent nail or delivering soda or drawing good blood into rubber-capped vials, writing on a blackboard with yellow chalk, twirling pizzas, pray for peace.
With each breath in, take in the faith of those who have believed when belief seemed foolish, who persevered. With each breath out, cherish.
Pull weeds for peace, turn over in your sleep for peace, feed the birds for peace, each shiny seed that spills onto the earth, another second of peace. Wash your dishes, call your mother, drink wine.
Shovel leaves or snow or trash from your sidewalk. Make a path. Fold a photo of a dead child around your VISA card. Gnaw your crust of prayer, scoop your prayer water from the gutter. Mumble along like a crazy person, stumbling your prayer through the streets.
"Whatever it was I lost, whatever I wept for Was a wild, gentle thing, the small dark eyes Loving me in secret. It is here. At a touch of my hand, The air fills with delicate creatures From the other world.” —James Arlington Wright
Here’s astrologer Samuel F. Reynold’s suggestion for responding to the Grand Cross of four planets in the cardinal signs, which is happening now.
"Mars wants action while Uranus symbolizes how we seek to innovate or express our individuality. Pluto represents the desires buried deep within us, and Jupiter shows us how to seize opportunities for understanding and growth.
"As we’re caught in the tight red square of these four planets, tension could color Easter and the three days to follow. When you’re wound up from these planetary energies, it’s best to find a way to release the energy. And, since these planets are in the four Cardinal signs (Aries, Cancer, Libra and Capricorn) which signal the start of new seasons, you may want to use this event to begin something that you’ve been reluctant to begin.
"Furthermore, if you string together the clues from what each of the four planets represents, you might find your chance. You’ll see that it’s time to express your individuality (Uranus) with an action (Mars) that shows your deep desire for something (Pluto). You could be presented with an opportunity to reach for it (Jupiter).
"So think of the Grand Cross as not just a potentially stressful time, but as an X marking the spot for possible treasure."
"Swedes are shaking up their language with a new gender-neutral pronoun. The pronoun allows speakers and writers to refer to a person without including reference to a person’s gender.
"The majority of world languages already have gender-neutral pronouns. However, similar to the English language, Swedish has had pronouns for ‘he’ and ‘she,’ but not one that refers to a person without suggesting the person’s sex.
"Proponents of the new pronoun are eager to have a single word that describes a hypothetical person rather than the awkward ‘he or she.’ The word is also useful when referring to someone who does not identify with a traditional gender role."
From The Outlaw Catalog of Cagey Optimism, a list of positive emotions and states of being:
COMPASSIONATE DISCRIMINATION. Having astute judgment without being scornfully judgmental; seeing difficult truths about a situation or person without closing your heart or feeling superior. In the words of Alan Jones: having the ability “to smell a rat without allowing your ability to discern deception sour your vision of the glory and joy that is everyone’s birthright.”
INGENIOUS INTIMACY. Having an ability to consistently create deep connections with other human beings, and to use the lush, reverential excitement stimulated by such exchanges to further deepen the connections. A well-crafted talent for dissolving your sense of separateness and enjoying the innocent exultation that erupts in the wake of the dissolution.
SONGBIRD-INA-TREE. The cultivated awareness that daily life presents countless opportunities to be buoyed by moments of ordinary extraordinary beauty, and that these moments are most available if you perceive with your senses and not with your internal turmoil.
More from The Outlaw Catalog of Cagey Optimism, a list of positive emotions and states of being: http://bit.ly/Zdyxc9
Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow because even today I still arrive.
Look deeply: I arrive in every second to be a bud on a spring branch, to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile, learning to sing in my new nest, to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower, to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry, in order to fear and to hope. The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that are alive.
I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river, and I am the bird which, when spring comes, arrives in time to eat the mayfly.
I am the frog swimming happily in the clear pond, and I am also the grass-snake who, approaching in silence, feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin as bamboo sticks, and I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda.
I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat, who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate, and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and loving.
I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my hands, and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my people, dying slowly in a forced labor camp.
My joy is like spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom in all walks of life. My pain if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughs at once, so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up, and so the door of my heart can be left open, the door of compassion.
"I usually solve problems by letting them devour me," wrote Franz Kafka. That’s an interesting approach, I guess, and though it might work for a tiny minority of introverted, melancholy, hypersensitive artists, it’s probably not a wise policy for you. It may be better to fervently resist any temptation you might have to allow your problems to gobble you up.
Instead, why not be like a gargantuan sea monster in the midst of a perfect storm? Rise up as high as the dark sky and growl back at the thunder. Shoot flames from your mouth at the lightning. Become too big and ancient and wild to ever be devoured.
There was once a poor farmer who could afford to own just one horse. He cared well for the animal, but one summer night, the horse escaped through a weak fence and ran away.
When his neighbors discovered what had happened, they visited to offer their condolences. “What bad luck!” they exclaimed. The farmer replied, “Maybe. Maybe not.”
A week later, the fugitive horse sauntered back to the homestead, accompanied by six wild horses. The farmer and his son managed to corral all of them. Again the neighbors descended. “What great luck!” they exclaimed. “Maybe,” the farmer replied. “Maybe not.”
Soon the farmer’s son began the work of taming the new arrivals. While attempting to ride the roan stallion, he was thrown to the ground and half-trampled. His leg was badly broken. The neighbors came to investigate. “What terrible luck!” they exclaimed. The farmer replied, “Maybe. Maybe not.”
The next day, soldiers visited the farmer’s village. Strife had recently broken out between two warlords, and one of them had come to conscript all the local young men. Though every other son was commandeered, the farmer’s boy was exempted because of his injury. The neighbors gathered again. “What fantastic luck!” they exclaimed.