Saturday, December 6, 2014


Pounding Stone, San Joaquin River Gorge
(Note: the following contains a mix of topics from previous posts in a different context.  If you would like to hear a song cycle, otherwise known as a "concept album," beginning with a song about the dam, click on the title below.)

     Recently I dwelt in the tranquillity of the Earth Soul in the San Joaquin River Gorge, which might soon be buried underwater by a dam at Temperance Flat. To me and many others, a dam that would destroy a stunning ecosystem on public land represents a personal and social tragedy, as well as yet another indication of the absence of an ethos of stewardship in the halls of power. While lounging on a pounding stone in the river bottom and pondering this lack of stewardship, I understood why the looming destruction of the planet is essentially a spiritual problem.
     The concept of the Earth Soul, or “anima mundi,” is, unfortunately, unfamiliar to many. Known also as the “world soul,” the anima mundi has been described as an intrinsic connection between all living things on the planet: “This world is indeed a living being endowed with a soul and intelligence ... a single visible living entity containing all other living entities, which by their nature are all related" (Plato, Timaeus, 29–30).
     The idea of the world soul has surfaced in many philosophies and religious systems in different cultures throughout history. The Stoics, for instance, believe that it is the only vital force in the universe. Similar beliefs exist in systems of eastern philosophy, such as the Brahman-Atman of Hinduism, the Buddha-Nature in Mahayana Buddhism, and in the School of Yin-Yang, Taoism, and Neo-Confucianism.
     The experience of the Earth Soul often begins as a feeling of peace that grows more profound as you immerse yourself in the frequencies of nature. The longer you are in nature, in other words, the more you naturally tune your brain waves to the frequency of the Earth. The Schumann Resonance (known as the "heart beat" of Mother Earth) is on the average 7.8 Hertz.  Four accepted types of human brain waves occur at the following vibrations per second (Hertz):

Delta:    0.5 to 3 hz
Theta:      3 to 8 hz
Alpha:    8 to 12 hz
Beta:    12 to 38 hz

     Beta rhythm (also known as beta waves) refers to the frequency range of human brain activity between 12 and 38 Hz and represents an intense state of alertness, concentration, logical thinking, and memory. Since beta mode is the required mental state of the workplace, it is generally valued as the most productive state of modern human consciousness in terms of survival and success. Other brain wave rhythms, alpha, theta, and delta, associated with, among other things, imagination, spiritual connection, and intuition, are accessed through deep relaxation, meditation, daydreaming and immersion in the natural world.  
     Previously dismissed  as 'spare brain noise,' researchers have also examined a fifth brainwave that is highly active in states of universal love, altruism, and higher-level functioning. Gamma brainwaves are the fastest of brain waves, occurring at high frequency, and they relate to simultaneous processing of information from different brain areas. In order to access these most subtle of brainwave frequencies, the mind has to be quiet. The presence of Gamma relates to expanded consciousness and spiritual emergence, and because Gamma is above the frequency of neuronal firing, how it is generated remains a mystery.
     An individual during meditation can intentionally move beyond the beta rhythms of the surface mind to alpha, theta, delta and gamma brain wave frequencies.  Alpha brain waves (generally considered 8 to 12 cycles per second), produced when a person is resting, meditating, or reflecting, indicate a state of relaxed alertness, good for stimulating imagination and inspiring powerful ideas.  Theta brain waves (3 to 8 cycles per second), usually associated with the dream state, are produced also when a person is daydreaming, experiencing a flow of ideas, or performing a repetitive task.  Theta brain waves are also associated with profound inner peace, mystical knowledge, symbolic visions, transformation of unconsciously held limiting beliefs, physical and emotional healing, inner wisdom, and psychic abilities. Delta brain waves (0.5 to 3 cycles per second), are produced usually during dreamless sleep, and during meditation can also include deep access to subconscious material and a sense of oneness and pure being.  
     The “heart beat" of Mother Earth, at 7.8 hz, is on the border between Theta and Alpha brain waves.  In other words, The Earth Soul, Mother Nature herself, as well as meditation can induce a brain wave frequency where one experiences tranquility, intuition, visions, and wise inner voices.  I have found this to be the case over and over in my excursions into nature.  In fact, with regular meditation and experiences in nature, I have discovered that the subtle, psychic senses can open in a way that a mind stuck in surface consciousness and dominated by the media would find extremely difficult to believe. 

Lupine next to Trail: San Joaquin River Gorge

      In the film Cold Souls, Paul Giamatti plays an actor burdened by nameless anxieties who has his soul extracted by the “Soul Storage Company.” His soul, it turns out, resembles a chickpea. Unlike the character in the movie, I believed for decades that I didn’t have a soul, extractable or otherwise, until I experienced a series of visions during meditation. My spiritual emergence occurred unexpectedly: I began meditating purely to relieve stress. I had no interest in ideas of God or the soul and no desire to have visions or to expand consciousness.
     When I began meditating, I had a series of related visions. The first in the series was of a golden, equal-armed cross with an angel at each end. The second was of a golden plate and cup on a pure white tablecloth; floating in the cup a large pearl turned ceaselessly around and around. The third vision consisted of a plain, golden crown. Since at the time I was an agnostic with no interest in spiritual matters, my conscious mind took a long time to process what my subconscious mind was showing me.
     By that point in my life, I had experienced enough treachery and deceit to make anyone cynical for several lifetimes. I did not have any reason to feel hopeful about the human condition. I was pessimistic to the point of despair--if I had fallen asleep during meditation, my subconscious mind was more likely to manufacture nightmares than glowing, golden symbols. During the meditations, however, I was totally awake, but in a state of consciousness that I had never experienced before. My subconscious mind in the visionary state tapped into a realm that transcended my limited personality, presenting symbols of what to me at the time was an inscrutable optimism about our essence, what many over the centuries have labeled the “soul.”
     I have come to believe that the great tragedy of our time is a lack of understanding about the different levels of the psyche. I don’t mean to suggest that anyone will be damned for eternity for ignoring his or her own soul. That and other ideas about hell-fire and damnation have kept me and many others from even trying to understand and honor the psyche. I’m suggesting instead that we are losing valuable connections to the spiritual dimension, knowledge from within the timeless core of ourselves that transcends the limited physical senses and also provides opportunities for greater health on all levels of being. When I say, “honoring the soul,” I mean acknowledging all aspects of the psyche--which I have discovered is a far greater mystery than most psychologists would concede. Honoring the soul means acknowledging the vast potentialities of the psyche while recognizing that each one of us, when the veils have fallen, is essentially a magnificent spiritual being containing the inner seeds of abundance and harmony. Honoring the soul is also the first crucial step in honoring the vast, awesome web of nature and recognizing our place within it.
Fiesta Flowers and Lupine:
San Joaquin River Gorge
     My vision of the angels and the equal-armed cross has various esoteric meanings, but to me reveals the balance of elements and the integration of the individual personality resonating with this vast cosmic harmony. Water in the golden cup to me suggests spirit manifesting in matter. I have to confess that the pearl turning around in the water puzzled me for a very long time. Only after I reread the proverb about the merchant who gave up everything for the “pearl of great price” did I realize that the pearl in the vision symbolizes the soul in its various experiences within the material realm.  In other words, the soul forms like a pearl around the divine spark, the core of the psyche, through an evolution, containing the essence of many incarnations, and, like the wheel of fortune, keeps turning as it experiences and reflects the multiplicity of life, both in the subconscious mind (the part in water) and the conscious mind (the part in air).  
     I finally understood the series of visions over all in the context of the last, simple vision.  The crown symbolizes dominion and magnificence, the gold representing incorruptibility and purity. Together the visions reveal the spiritual magnificence, harmony, and abundance within the soul. These visions have a kind of simplicity that has taken me years to understand.

Imaginative Representation of Root Chakra

     Human beings, in esoteric terms, are physical, astral, mental, and spiritual creatures. Whenever a person first begins moving into the subtle planes during meditation, the mind often reveals subconscious content related to the aura, which is the subtle envelope containing the invisible energy centers known as the chakras. The primary chakras correspond to the spine and usually turn clock-wise. If you hold a pendulum made from a paperclip and a thread over a chakra, such as the stomach or heart center, after a few seconds the paperclip will start spinning around. Within the aura, the chakras extend outward into the astral, mental and spiritual levels. I was surprised to find that I can mentally tell the pendulum to spin only in the astral or mental or spiritual level of the aura, and the chakra responds to the command, just like a hand responds to thought. 
     The lower chakras are linked with an individual’s preservation instincts, sex drive, and personal power, the higher ones with communication, imagination, and spiritual awareness. The heart center, besides being the center of sympathy and love, connects the lower centers related to the physical realm with the higher centers related to the spiritual levels. Each of these chakras is associated with a state of being that corresponds to a particular sheath or "vehicle" of consciousness within the aura.  In other words, consciousness is not limited to the physical body. 
   As the mind becomes more adept at meditation (or ritual, if one prefers) the conscious mind becomes better at focusing on particular levels of the psyche. Complex color patterns are associated with the chakras in some traditions, but the subconscious mind responds to an arrangement of the chakras in a simple rainbow pattern, with red at the bottom representing the lowest chakra between the anus and genitals and violet representing the third eye chakra. Brilliant white, a combination of all the colors, is associated with the crown chakra, also known as the thousand-petaled lotus. These different vibrations are associated with the different levels of the subtle planes (besides space, the last frontier). 
     In this stage of evolution, what we currently consider normal consciousness in esoteric terms is an astro-mental state flowing with emotions, ideas, and images, in other words thought-forms, or for lack of a better term, thought-complexes. We tend to create reality with the force of emotion and the forms of the intellect, in other words. The physical senses generally are not nearly as engaged as they used to be even a hundred years ago.
     During spiritual practices, an individual can experiment with the different frequency levels of vibration that correspond to the higher and lower levels, from plant and animal frequencies to the frequencies of the angels and gods. The more one moves in either direction, of course, the more one experiences vibrations beyond what the average person considers within the normal range of perception and consciousness--and the more one begins to recognize the true potentials of the psyche. The old maxim, "Know thyself," means far more, I think, than most modern humans suspect.
     On a social level, frequencies other than beta brain waves tend to be associated with fuzzy head-in-the-cloud thinking and the inability to function properly in the real world, an attitude that has become a major obstacle both to connection with nature and to spiritual development. When not required to remain in beta mode by high stress jobs, people nowadays tend to slip into alpha and theta states under the influence of the mass media, which controls the flow of thoughts and emotions and tends to extinguish the potential for authentic spiritual experience. 
     I had the good fortune to experience the Earth Soul often on fishing trips when I was growing up. After practicing meditation for several years, I finally understood what it means to tune the soul to the heart beat of Mother Nature, explained by science in terms of the alpha and theta brain frequencies. 
     During meditation, I “drop into the void” for extended periods, and I have sometimes experienced a subtle order of existence that is “objective” in the sense that I envision what other seers have also experienced. Other visionaries, in other words, have also envisioned the symbols and archetypes of what Carl Jung has described as the “collective unconscious,” which to me is more accurately described as the “collective subconscious.”                                              
Baby Blue Eyes: San Joaquin River Gorge

     The Tree of Life is extremely helpful to the traveler into the unseen. Throughout history, cultures have created different pantheons of Gods and Archangels that represent the subtle forces.  In other words, a God symbolically represents a force or power that exists in the subtle spiritual dimension of the cosmos--and inside each human being: “As above, so below.”  One God might represent the force of expansion, another the force of restriction, another the power of thought, another the power of harmonizing love.  Jesus, for instance, is a Savior that finds his rightful place in the sixth sphere of the Tree of Life, known as Tiphareth, along with other sacrificial Gods.  
     Each culture has similar Gods because the same forces have existed inside of people throughout history. Different forces have been emphasized in each culture based on its needs.  One culture might emphasize the courage and energy and strength of Mars while another might emphasize the intellectual power of Mercury while another might emphasize the power of love and beauty represented by Venus.  Whenever a person contacts a cosmic force fashioned symbolically into a God or Goddess, that person is actually contacting an aspect of the energy of a sphere on the the Tree of Life.  Unfortunately most people do not realize that each individual, without a priest interceding, can access the cosmic force symbolically represented by a God or Savior, and each person can establish a channel or correspondence with that energy because the energy also exists within each individual: the microcosm (the individual) reflects the macrocosm (the cosmos).
     On the cosmic level, manifestation of all forms begins within the seventh sphere of the Tree of Life, a state of being known as Netzach, or "Victory"--a title which suggests the victory of natural forms flourishing in stunning beauty and diversity. Netzach is the sphere of the Goddess Venus. Dion Fortune, arguably the most influential Qabalist in recent history, once pointed out that any religion without the Goddess is "halfway to atheism." In common parlance, Earth is our "mother," and fortunately in much of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, at least, the Goddess undeniably still reigns, but many irreplacable ecosystems have already been destroyed or are in danger, like the San Joaquin River Gorge. 

San Joaquin River Gorge

     On the Tree of Life, the sphere of the Sun is just above (or, in terms of evolution--before) Netzach.  Known as Tiphareth, or "Beauty," the sphere of the Sun represents the Source of all life within the physical plane, and, because Tiphareth balances and harmonizes the energies of other spheres on the Tree, it also represents the cosmic Christ force.  Imagine a prism held up before the sun, breaking up the light into all the colors of manifestation.  This is the light of the Source, the One manifesting harmoniously and victoriously as the Many within the sphere of Netzach and the lower spheres.
     For me, spiritual emergence began with physical and mental purification. In many spiritual traditions, cleansing is a crucial step in the process of spiritual development. A person must eliminate negative energies from the body and the aura to progress on the path. Having many food allergies, intolerances, and chemical sensitivities, I first had to eliminate everything in my diet that made me ill or unable to think clearly. Then with a damp white cloth I mentally wiped away negative energies, revealed in various forms to psychic vision, in each one of my chakras while also forgiving myself and others. I felt purified after I dumped trash from my crown chakra for several hours, and I immediately had a vision of a many-petalled, brilliant white flower.  I thought at first that it was a stunning white rose with innumerable petals, but a voice in my head said, “Lotus.” I went on-line and discovered that the thousand-petaled lotus is symbolically associated with the crown chakra.
     Like Dion Fortune, I believe that there is no room for authority in occultism--or any other form of spirituality--but how I would have appreciated another soul explaining what was happening to me! I never once feared for my sanity, but I was many times deeply confused and fascinated to the point of fixation, only slowly piecing together an understanding through experimentation and by wading through many an arcane text. I do not claim to be an authority, but I have had enough experience to become knowledgeable about a subject that is foreign to most people in Western society.
Fiesta Flowers and Fiddleneck:
San Joaquin River Gorge
     In terms of energy frequencies, whether viewed as brain-waves or chakras, through experience I have come to believe that, besides quieting the mind during meditation or contemplation, purification and exaltation of consciousness are the keys to spiritual development and connection to nature.  I believe that cleansing the aura is essential in opening an awareness of the various vibrations of the psyche. Through experience, I have also come to believe that “following your bliss” results in the kind of exaltation and expansion of the mind that leads to spiritual emergence and enlightenment. For me, that means immersion in nature and the arts, both of which are associated with the sphere of Netzach on the Tree of Life.  Others, of course, find their own path. Through experience, I have come to believe that exaltation, inspiration, and expansion of consciousness, associated with Gamma brainwaves, leads to the Vision of Harmony and opens up the state of being known as Tiphareth, the Christ-center, on the Tree of Life. 
     Recently, in the fresh air and splendor of San Joaquin River Gorge, my mind relaxed.  I recognized once again that we are surrounded by field upon field of interconnected, divine energy.  My mind was tuned to the heartbeat of Mother Nature: The inspirations of the divine rise from the subconscious as much as from higher consciousness, from the Earth Soul as much as from heaven.
     Lack of spiritual connection with nature could soon lead to the destruction of the stunning ecosystem within the San Joaquin River Gorge. Lack of understanding about our own psyche and our own connection to nature could lead eventually to the destruction of the planet. Many of those in power can only see the river gorge as a storage container for a certain number of acre feet of water that would benefit private, vested interests, their contributors. Our politicians and the media do not appear to care that the gorge contains an ecosystem of interconnected, divine energy that belongs to the Earth--and to the public.
     As an activist, I have come to take the long view. As much as it would break my heart, the San Joaquin River Gorge might not be saved. But due to experience I know that we are all connected on a subtle, spiritual level, and I believe that through psychic resonance, where on the subtle levels the few make it easier for the many to advance, the more each one of us honors the soul, the easier it becomes for others to do the same and the more likely that as a species we will then be able to honor the planet and ensure our own survival.