rites of passage: newly edited and slightly tweaked.

My grandfather’s property was seven hours from were we lived, in Minong, Wisconsin. A town of dirt roads, dive bars, and ample pine-wood forests. A journey by car made traditionally once a year at thanksgiving. The time of year when families come together— for us, A time when professionals abandon trade and get back to nature. A time for fathers and uncles to forge men from boys. Its hunting season in the woods.

My grandfather’s property stretched across three-hundred plus acres of tree farm and natural forest. His soft and sandy driveway leads, past his log-cabin house, across a vast stretch of land—spanning fish farm ponds, natural lakes, and utter nature entrenched in season. On leisurely strolls across the forests one could come across an array of wildlife never seen in our own home towns. Garden snakes sneak across the trails, beavers grace the cold damp beaches, and white-tailed deer drink from pounds where no one sees.

All the men of my family have, in their own way, faced the coming of age trails of the modern day hunter. All young men must understand the trials that lay before him, if he wishes to learn the way of men, of the hunters.

First, he must bare witness to the gore of a slaughter in the bloody process of making venison meat that takes place in my grandfather’s barn. If he can recall the story, describing what carnage he has seen ,with lucid description—especially while his sister has a chunk of the venison on her fork, inches from her mouth—if he can describe it with that sense of lofty pride, he is battle-hardened. The young man must show the most extreme caution and respect in the presence of the powerful hunting rifles that the men of our family possess, he is vigilant to his caution . A young man proves himself and he waits. he waits for an invitation. An invitation to accompany a man and a rifle.

Lying in a guest bed in the drafty basement, I awoke to what I recognized to be the solitary sound of a grandfather clock singing its morning praise. Long and deep notes, instructing the morning light to step to its deep and wise melody. I looked up to see my uncle gathering some clothes out of a duffel bag. “Hey Nick, do you want to go? an early hunt?” I knew this invitation was of prestigious nature, and would only be offered once—I would not refuse it.

It was a cool Wisconsin morning, thick dew on the grass, stodgy humid air filing our lungs.

Two of my uncles and my older cousin were up and walking from the house with us. We whispered across the air, respecting the silence of the morning. Two groups were formed; one uncle, one nephew. each group was two men, one rifle. We set off on a circular path that surrounded the woods. I felt like a predator. my pray had materialized with the morning-dew, and I must find my encounter, else it dissipates into the air which birthed it.

Me and my uncle Scott made our way down the path along the lake, trudging our way across the trail towards a fox hole where we would sit and wait, testing our capacity for patient breathing.

Through the woods my uncle would point out critters that had not yet spotted us, and plants that I would have otherwise not noticed. He was a true woodsman. My family showed a respect to nature that was next to spirituality.

We stepped in line, and I followed command like a small soldier.  I eyeballed the gun more than I thought was respectful. I was attracted to it. its patterns came to life on the butt of the rifle. paths of woodgrain lines ran down from the stock and away from the trigger, and I saw creatures running down the lines–running from its power, running with no where to escape. the gun had a persona to it, like intent, and it began to frighten me, like it might betray us once we found ourselves deep enough into the woods. I began to wonder about the purpose of our mission.

We got to our Fox hole—a large dugout cavity in the earth that sat atop a hill, over looking a valley of grass that came at the edge of the deepest part of the forest. We sat comfortably in the orange clay, settled softly against the earth over looking our small kingdom of nature. We sat for a long time in silence. Now and again, he stared down the scope of the rifle, scanning the bevel where grass met trees. My stomach began to fizzle. Nerves were mounting up in my throat, and I knew I could not stop what was coming. I knew that the power of family heritage, legacy and a sacred right of passage had brought me to that place in time, but would it allow me to stand by and watch the blood of the innocent be spilled?

While I sat meditating on my thoughts and convictions, I was interrupted by a shift in focus that drifted across the air and lured my eyes back into nature. I must have felt her presence from across the many yards down into the valley. There in the middle of the grass, standing independent and beautiful, was a rather large female white tailed deer—a doe. She was elegant and majestic. It was clear that she had not noticed us, or the rifle that was staring her down. The fear began to melt me into a puddle inside the fox hole. The silence turned to  drawn in suspense. no one moved, and for a second I searched the land for motion to make sure the earth still spun. Why had my uncle not taken a shot yet? I looked over at him and for the first time since the doe appeared, he looked up at me. With very slow movement he leaned back and began to pass the rifle to me. I took it hesitantly. “I—I don’t think I can do it Scott, it’s a mother deer.” I stammered.

“We don’t kill the doe.” He stated with a half grin. “Just thought you might want a better look.” All of my fear melted down and settled in my body—cooled in my blood, it forged it self into a memorable conviction that would resonate into a strong ideal later in life.

With the rifle in my hand I checked the safety and choked up on the weapon, propping my face against the scope. I could smell the blond stained wood. I scanned the valley finding her once again from a new perspective. I was awe struck by the gentle magnificence of the beautiful creature. Her silky coat looked soft and touchable. I reached out with my left hand pretending to pet her. Her head was down sniffing or chewing at the dewy grass. Her gaze drifted up in my direction, and for a moment, I felt as if our eyes connected and I saw through her fierce awareness. Not long after that moment, she made her way back into the depths of the forest and we climbed out of the hole and back on the trail towards home.

Hunting has faded out of importance in my family. I will have most likely been from the last generation to be subject to this as a right of passage. Although in many ways I feel I failed the test that November morning, I gain something stronger than a passage into man hood; I gained a respect for nature and new found convictions about the respect for life.

Published in: on July 14, 2008 at 4:55 am  Comments (7)  

The Giggles perception… a look at heaven and hell

Explore with me—let us be the philosophers of this new age of unenlightened humans. Let us be the diplomats of consciousness.

I would like to explore the ideas of heaven and hell. I often ponder and converse about the ideas of God— often with the deepest of modern philosophers, only to be inevitably duped by the limits of infinity, but always enlightened, even if in the slightest. Today I would like to embark on a new idea. Explore the ideas of heaven and hell—or rather present an ideal. A theory if you will.

First we need some givens—some communion of excepted truths (even if these are not “given excepted truths” to your daily journey and spiritual life, but for nothing more than the sake of exploration).

Let us give a name (or symbol) to that little mysterious flame that we all too often refer to as consciousness. Let us use something familiar to modern philosophy and spirituality, although debatable itself, and call it the soul. What is important to note about the soul? Well, we do know that we more or less accept that this is the piece of us that is, well, aware of “us”. It is undeniable that the soul, as we will now call it, is some how connected to that intertwining, systematic lightning storm, embodied in a piece of meat, that we call our brains. If one was to question this they would need look no further than the simple phenomenon of ancient to modern psychedelics. Mother-Nature, in what ever form she exists, has had locked in the depths of science and chemicals psychedelic reactors that allow us to explore the depths of perception, and unlock some of the secrets of reality. Or as it may be, sedate our selves into “vegetablism”. The consciousness connection—the missing link between our embodiment, and our soul… the tangible elements of this life that can change our emotions.

Many a scholarly man has explored and written about the depths of their experience with psychedelics. True mad men such as Ken Kesey, the psychedelic politician of the 60s fascination with LCD, profound writer and astonishing pupil of life, Aldous Huxleycreator of such best sellers as Brave New World and psychology/philosophy essay The Doors of Perception —this list of philosophical explores of awareness would go on and on. The most astounding and telling side of the story of psychedelics is not its ability for it to change our perception of our environment, but (for the purpose of my point) it is its undeniable ability to make us feel some thing that, from the ancient times of Aztec shamans, to the time of modern recreational use, is profoundly and indisputably spiritual

Next let us define the simple concepts of heaven and hell (as I guess is the point of this piece). For all purposes of credit were credit is due, the concepts of heaven and hell are quite specific to the Judeo-Christian religion. It is a very easy to grasp concept, is it not? The greatest reward, inverse to the deepest accountability. The ultimate garden of pleasures and bliss, verses an eternity of your soul burning in a pit of burning red agony. For the Judeo-Christian concept heaven is the reward of the repented Christian who has except God into his life and asked forgiveness for his vast gamma of sins. Hell is the permanent purgatory for the soul of the un-repented sinner who has rejected God in his life. Most importantly we must note that in its current excepted idea, it is exclusively thought of as pertaining to the after life. Unlike its similar counter part in such eastern religions as referred to as a state of enlightenment or nirvana

Now let me tie some of this together while trying not to lose any validity or credibility… here we go…

For those of you that have ever experienced the spirituality of something that came from a pure tangible form (psychedelics being a most notable form of this) —for those that have ever experienced the madness of losing grips with the basic concepts of reality—or even a moment of emotional takeover. Your blood pressure sores mixing the hormones of your brain, stirring with the madness of the chemicals that make you tick. It’s a leveling experience to feel your self lose control on what ever level you may experience it (or a truly beautiful one, if it is the pleasant spiritual type of losing control that we are referring to). Either way we must let this be the evidence that our brains and or autonomy have a deep rooted stronghold on our souls. Some have made the point that our brains actually have many mechanisms, actual walls in our understanding, that protect us from ultimately losing control of understanding or surrounding reality. Time is the perfect notable for this point. Anyone that, through the help of psychedelics, on what one might call a “bad trip”, has ever lost the concept of time (or at least the ability to understand it) knows the importance of this primal understanding in quantum physics. I am sure there are many of these barriers that we would love to be able to break down and explore in an attempt to further expand our minds and spirits—but we also must accept that some of these barriers are necessary for having a productive existence on this planet.

Bringing us to our final philosophical cliché topic; what comes of our souls after we die?

What does come of our souls? We no longer have that piece of meat that holds our mind together, that seems to root us kindly in reality… those walls that hold our mind on a narrow path of perpetual productivity on earth. So what happens to our awareness of our selves individually if no longer trapped in an individual? Can we suddenly become aware of everything? Would we become exclusively aware of nothing? Of course these questions are more than likely infinite, and for now unanswerable. But I beg of you to ask a question with me… what of our specific state of consciousness upon being relieved of our vessels of flesh? What of the woman that lives her narrow existence, never questioning her depths, only obsessing of things social and trivial—things that will no longer exist to her ability to understand or effect. What of the man that puts all of his vast mental power into ownership and power of objects in a world he will eventually lose his roots, his base, his awareness of? Would there souls be able to handle the release into an awareness of everything (or nothing)? And if so, could you not call losing grips with the world around you, but not losing your ability of consciousness, for the rest of infinite eternity hell? And what if on the other end of the spectrum of “human spirituality”, if you could leave this limbo that we currently call existence, utterly and completely prepared to transcend your body… could you not call a release from your walls, and a plunge into intangible bliss and understanding, heaven?

Published in: on July 13, 2008 at 3:33 am  Comments (6)  

Photos of my Father

Like a transient emotion. An impish minion to the darkest gamut of human feeling.

The dark destroyer of lucid reality.

abstraction: fear of the awareness of self.

A physical change: to smash and crumble the content of ink and paper into my palm.

A chemical change: to burn this photo, the melting ink and paper like autumn’s turning altering its content into my skin.

Dear Journal,

Sessions are not going well. I am not reaching a breakthrough.

We have talked about my father.

I stare at this photo, letting my eyes dance in and out of focus…

I have his nose. Or he has mine. He looks more aged in this picture than I recall. His face is shattered with wrinkles, his jaw dusted with stubble. He looks proud in his stoic way, standing stolid in front of our old house. An unusual distance separates him from my mother. Mere inches of space show the dimensions of distance between them. His small dark eyes are a shadow of his even darker soul. Cold and with drawn, I don’t even know if I was a part of his world.

My mother was not the strong and independent type, but she was utterly unaware of any short comings. She needed my father. She found him while her flesh was young and springy and took full advantage of his weak anatomy. I have seen many pictures of my mother when she was young, stunningly beautiful, yet completely oblivious. My mother, it would seem, has always been beyond her biology, a creature of perpetual emotion. She longed to create the nostalgic dream of the TV family.

My father, for all history has shown me, has always been a work horse. Even as a young stallion, he spent every waking moment buried in a meaningless task. Project car after project car, never an unfinished task.

I don’t think his intentions were ever to have a family. He lived to work and worked for a reason to exist. I wounder if he ever found that reason after he left.


Published in: on July 2, 2008 at 10:56 pm  Comments (5)