Cleanliness and godliness


Devotees making the final approach to the temple, following initiation

Saturday 26 January 2013. The streets and park beneath Sri Balathandayuthapani hilltop temple in Georgetown, Penang, throb with activity, drums and amplified mantras. I and nine other volunteers, brought together under eco-activist banner Sampah Masyarakat, brainchild of Shyam Priyah, unfold from a hired van after the four hour drive up from Kuala Lumpur. Our first concern is the parked car we accidentally scratched manoeuvring around the dark car park. The second is that the overnight tent we were promised is nowhere to be seen. And the third is how close our camping spot is to the already overflowing portable toilet block. I wonder if I have made a mistake coming here. Perhaps the others are also wondering. Shyam is asking if anyone has any Panadol. She’s running a slight fever.


My mood worsens in the face of further little setbacks. We have one torch between us. The poles of the dome tent are broken. We give up on Shyam’s beach tent: someone can use it as a ground sheet. We decide the smaller members of the group should sleep in the van, the longer ones will have to take their chances in the park. It’s half two in the morning and we have to be up at six. We have volunteered to help clean up the trash generated by the festival.

For a few hours, I drift in and out of the music belting from the temple, which blends with the boom and clatter of drums and chants as group after group of devotees arrive at the foot of the 513 steps that climb to where they lay their kavadi offerings to the deity Murugan, spear-carrying vanquisher of Asuras, after hours of walking. I am too exhausted to crawl out the tent and watch, content to imagine timeless scenes. An explosion of India in Penang.

Dawn comes slowly. The groups dwindle, and with them the drums, but the temple music carries on, interrupted only by loudspeaker announcements. Practical information, probably, but in formal Tamil everything sounds like a mythic transmission.

Thaipusam is the annual Hindu festival commemorating the penance of Murugan, the vel (spear) carrying deity created by Siva from his own Shakti power in order to battle the Asuras. As with many Vedic accounts, tracing the story of Murugan/Karthika/Skanda/ Subrahmanya is somewhat complex. Brother of Ganesa, in India he is also known as Thamizh Kadavul, the God of the Tamils.

There is nothing much for breakfast. One of the volunteers – an Iraqi engineering student – has bought sugary muffins. In fact, we’re too tired to eat. A cup of tea would have been nice though. We raise our banner between two trees. It takes some figuring out how to tie the four eyeholes securely with only one piece of rope.

Thanks to another team operating a food waste reprocessing scheme, we are invited into what seems to be the police hut, right in the middle of the action. The banner is repositioned. Now it’s on the fence, beside the official Welcome to Penang Thaipusam sign, unmissable by anyone on their way to the temple. People are looking, wondering who we are. A Tamil man joins us spontaneously. Shyam’s sister and her husband arrive. The latter is in deep conversation with a man who later turns out to be a member of Special Branch. Questions were asked as to whether we were a political outfit. No, we’re just here to pick up the trash.

After a briefing from Shyam – separate paper and plastic from food waste; raise awareness; represent – we head out into the morning sun. The crowd is thickening by the minute. The gutters along the festival streets are choked with plastic bottles, styrofoam food containers, plastic bags and paper cups originating from a Nestle stall vowing to provide 1 Million cups for Thaipusam. Shyam wades into the queue with a biodegradable bin bag.

Reactions from the crowd to volunteers clearing up rubbish were interesting. Mostly people got the simple message. If you throw your rubbish on the ground, someone else has to pick it up. There were also dirty looks. Religion and politics coinciding to conjure an element of threat. Who are these outsiders at the festival of the God of the Tamils? Two members of our group carried placards: “Cleanliness is next to godliness” and “Would you throw rubbish on the floor at home? Then why on the street?” Perhaps there were those in the crowd who felt morally high-grounded.

The “cleanliness…” message was certainly apt in the vacant lot near the beginning of the festival parade. Here families gathered, chanting vel, vel while devotees received initiations, blessings, steel spears pierced through their cheeks, steel rings hooked into their backs, from which ropes and weights were hung. Then picked their way among mounds of rubbish – milk cartons, coconut shells, bunches of bananas – to carry their burdens to the temple. Many people walked barefoot.

I can understand the Tamil Indian point of view, as it was eloquently explained by one man. Thaipusam is a hindu Indian festival in a muslim country where Indian (and Chinese) civil rights are not yet equal to those of Malay Malaysians. Apart from Shyam, and the man who joined us on the day, the volunteers were neither Indian Malaysian nor hindu. There is something of a fault line here. A hairline crack in the peaceful diversity Malaysia has managed to sustain – with remarkably few interruptions – since the country’s inception. Hence the interest of Special Branch.

We volunteers were interested in masses of people gathering for some single focus – as they do at other festivals, at pop concerts, sports events and so on – and behaving irresponsibly towards their immediate environment. As much as they are temporary crises, such gatherings are opportunities for raising awareness, where even a token effort gets noticed by many. In today’s age of imminent, irreversible human ecological impact, no activity can be condoned – or sustained – that does not take this sword of damocles into account. At one level it’s a no brainer. Mountains of trash on the ground, someone has to pick it up. If deeper questions are asked, it’s no bad thing.

Indeed what has happened to spirituality if a spiritual task is undertaken – preparation of an offering, say, or an initiation – and afterwards the stuff is heaved into the nearest river? What if a family make their annual pilgrimage to the temple – or the mosque or church or whatever spiritual locus – and eat takeaway food in the temple grounds or the park outside or the beach on the way home and stuff their styrofoam containers into the bole of the nearest tree?

We are talking of course of the compartmentalisation of spirituality. A box is drawn around behaviours deemed to be spiritual – the done thing. Outside it, Spiritual is set to off. We can despoil the park, defraud our fellow man, beat our wife. The box – the shell, if you prefer – limits Spirit, which is instantly and obviously suspect. With spirit boxed, with the genie back in the bottle, we are prone to some dangerous confusions. Religion and culture. Religion and politics. Religion and race. We can say that religion itself is a confusion.

All religions trace their roots back to the words and actions of an individual. Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad. Thousands of years later, the actions are only words. Perhaps even minutes later actions are only words. Some of those words still carry great power. But some carry a different sort of power. Divine words are powerful tools. Tempting to use them, manage them, adjust them. Inevitable that something is missed, something withers. We are dealing with husks – husks refitted with something else. Religion has been hijacked.

And with a few twists and turns, collecting trash from the bole of a tree becomes a threat.

There is a way out of this mess. I take my hat off to Shyam and other activists (in one sense many of them, in another they are still so few) who go out of their way to raise awareness. And of course there are plenty of people – at religious festivals and football matches alike – who understand that stuffing your takeaway packaging into the bole of a tree is bad behaviour. But there are still plenty who don’t.

The prevailing mindset is that the environment is some sort of innate surface, a bottomless pit from which nice things like food and diamonds magically appear, and into which not nice things can be stuffed and forgotten about. If the prevailing mindset thinks about the environment at all. The prevailing mindset is one severed from the environment, from Nature. The prevailing mindset has been hijacked.


Shyam and team preparing for action

The way out of the mess is simply to reconnect. To rejoin the conversation with Nature. In a way, it’s a very simple thing. And when we do it we realise that Nature has been talking to us all along. The transmission never loses power because it is constant. You may have noticed words like ‘shamanism’ elsewhere on this site. Perhaps you know what I’m talking about. Perhaps you are skeptical. Perhaps you think I am secretly referring to some sort of drug, or making a walk in the park and a breath of fresh air into something complicated.

In any case, simply consider this: everything in our bodies – our skin, hair, eyes, nails, even blood – comes from plants or from animals who eat plants, or in some cases from animals that eat other animals that eat plants. You get the idea. Everything. Tea, coffee, sugar and biscuits. Petrol. We can say that it is we humans that have, over the ages, perfected agriculture and industry that we can extract – take – what we need, what we want. Sure, we’ve been ingenious. So ingenious that we are scraping the bottom of the bottomless pit. We can drill the arctic for oil and turn rainforest into golf courses, blow up the Atlantic Ocean and race speedboats on it the next day.

Are we ingenious enough for this little thought experiment: What if all those good things – tea, coffee, biscuits – are given?

I had forgotten my tiredness, and any irritation over tent poles a few minutes into the work. It was satisfying work, which is reward in itself, but look at this: Interesting that Penang Thaipusam culminates on Jalan Waterfall. The Sampah Masyarakat volunteers ended up at a waterfall outside town, where we bathed in sun and sparkling clean water. Freely given, and most lovingly and gratefully received. That is the spirit of the conversation with Nature. Indeed, that is the conversation with Spirit.


Sampah Masyarakat

Shyam Priah, My Khatulistiwa 



Green Knights and Wild Things

Viewing a map of the world with some friends the other day, half-seriously exploring our general decampment from “civilisation”, we came to the conclusion that there was almost nowhere left to go. Between us we had either lived or been born or travelled extensively on all of the continents. Our criteria were nothing special. A typical mixture of escapism, pragmatism and simple humanism. We wanted somewhere that would nourish our bodies, minds and spirits. Somewhere we might survive, in the mundane if not urbane sense, yet where survival would not mean desperation, scraping by at all costs. Somewhere we might enjoy walks, views, running water and singing air. Somewhere we might find inspiration from crackling fires and whispering woods. Somewhere we might share with likeminded souls. We were in other words hunkering after Where the Wild Things Are.

Where the wild things are

Where the wild things are

You will recall from the story – as with countless other fairy tales traditional and modern – that this is the place where we meet our own shadows, own them, befriend them, dance with them by the light of the moon. This is the place where light interweaves gracefully with dark, onto which fabric the soul projects its deepest desires, its deepest fears. A place which in turn projects a sense of order, a sense of place and relationship for all these things into the soul. We know from all the fairy tales that this place is of course the forest.

It is our place, in every sense.

In the sense that it is our original habitat. In the sense that it is still ours to own. In the sense that if we destroy it we destroy ourselves. For where then will we dance with our shadows? Maurice Sendak’s 1963 story is for children, but its message is for all ages. What will we be nothing left to the imagination, nowhere left unlit? Everywhere a zoo, a golf course, a theme park.

The forest is our place in every sense. It is the place of sense. It is ours in no sense – in no cence.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

This was the message of the Green Knight. Cut off my head only if you agree to suffer the same in a year and day. My head will grow back. Will yours? The adventures of Sir Gawain, then, are the adventures of humanity in its fall from grace, in its divorce from nature and headless galloping. In its great trial. The place of reckoning is the Green Chapel, the heart of the forest. There, the Green Knight shows Gawain mercy, but only after he has fully surrendered, honouring the original contract.

There is no getting out of this contract.

Which is something we seem to have forgotten only very recently, in the grand scheme of history. Since the Europeans turned up in Africa, in Latin America, in Asia, and with the same darkly ingenious manoeuvre produced pieces of paper that said the land – be it forest, mountain or pasture – was rightfully theirs by order of a king or queen the locals had never heard of. The locals were subject to those pieces of paper too. If they were seen by the conquerors as wild things, they were not befriended.

Among many others the 2008 documentary The End of Poverty traces our headless, heedless steps very carefully. From the birth of capitalism and globalisation as those nefarious contracts were issued, to the perilous situation ‘civilisation’ finds itself in now. Where vast numbers of people have no clean water. Where most people live in appalling poverty. Where monetary cabals of the North suck the South dry. Where the poor South in fact pays for the rich North. Where the machine seeks to commodify everything. The land we stand on. The water we drink. The air we breathe. The animals are animate flesh bred for burgers, and the forests have become plantations – renewable sources feeding our printers.

This is where it goes when there is nowhere for the wild things, when the dark is not in step with the light. When the dark in fact masquerades as the light. As God. As Good. As the future. As civilisation.

And when the dark masquerades as the light it is capable of tremendous Ironies. Such as the idea that civilisation is that which is not the forest. Civilisation tapers away from the great towers of ‘Light’. At its fringes ancient trees are cut down so that a family may survive by selling charcoal.

We have beheaded the Green Knight.

Who will honour the appointment at the Green Chapel?

Hysteria of Machismo

Preparing for a "shamanic healing" session

Preparing for a "shamanic healing" session, which will "cure" UK DJ Scott Mills of homosexuality

You might have seen the BBC3 programme “The Worst Place in the World to be Gay”, broadcast Valentine’s Day night. The programme can be viewed online until Wednesday 23 February 2011. The programme follows gay Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills to Uganda, where the death penalty may soon be introduced for being gay. Mills does a sterling job of not losing his rag face to face with a plethora of bigots and backwater thinkers, including the “shaman” shown in the picture above.

To me, a Westerner, native to the UK, which has seen huge progress in gay and lesbian rights in recent times – and let’s note, recent times – the fire and brimstone witch hunt hysteria of the Ugandan macho men and their animus-ridden women is of course abhorrent.  Particularly awful was the plight of one young lesbian woman. As a child she was observed playing with other girls in her own back garden by a neighbour, who proceeded to straighten her out by raping her. From this crash course in girl meets boy normalcy she became pregnant and HIV positive.

After visiting this unfortunate soul at a secret location, where she somehow carries on in perpetual fear, Mills went to see a witch doctor. The paraphernalia was immediately recognisable – clothing decked with shells and beads, the headband, the tobacco pipe and maraccas – at a quick glance it could have been the Amazon or Borneo.

Mixed feelings, shall we say, as I watched Mills treated in traditional manner – a limpia via the wetted feathers of a white chicken, water sprayed from the shaman’s mouth, water and fire passed around his body. The working assumption here: that Mills’ homosexuality would be removed from his body like any old mala energia. The fee is demanded up front – always a bad sign. And the shamanic diagnosis hinges on the idea – the unshakeable knowledge, as far as Ugandans are concerned – that homosexuality is learned, is an obsession, a perversion, a compulsion. We need not single out Uganda for its population of shaman charlatans, nor indeed for its institutionalised homophobia. At a quick glance, it could have been the Amazon or Borneo.

Mills only scratches the surface in tracing the source of this hatred. The two Great Books in circulation in Uganda crop up immediately. A group of school children outline the story of Sodom and Gomorra. They seem  puzzled, then saddened by Mills’ line of questioning, beginning to suspect that he might be one of these unfortunate, conflicted people. Mills is equally saddened by the children’s convictions. And depressed and frightened by the words of the pastor who convinced these children. It is wrong, unacceptable, inconceivable – one is impressed by his command of English – and then we’re into the timeless ‘arguments’ of penis, anus, and God’s intended function of these parts.

The main thing one senses from the Ugandans is fear.

And for this the pastors, imams and shamans alike are all responsible. Fear is control is power. Did we not see witch hunts very recently here in the UK over the whole paedophilia hysteria? Fear and sexuality together…A sexuality of fear for the macho men and their animus-ridden women, and a fear of sexuality for everyone else. Of everyone else.

But where did the pastors get their stuff from? Ironically, from those places where gay people now enjoy the most freedom: the US, the EU, the UK. And the imams? From the Saudi Wahabi-Salafi machine.

From God, they say. From God. It was Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.

The Religious Objection to homosexuality is this:

  • God made Adam in His image
  • God made Eve from Adam’s spare rib
  • And said to them, Go forth and multiply!


If you have capacity to entertain conspiracy theories – if that is not already too dismissive a label for what are, much of the time, quite rational attempts to understand the gaping holes in official accounts of events like 911, or Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt – then you may have already followed these mercurial threads to what we’ll call the Ultimate Conspiracy.

Key to this staggering theory are the famous Sumerian stone tablets, some of which comprise codices encoding the very ancient legend of Ea, aka Enki, the First Ruler of the Earth, son of Anu, Ruler of another world altogether, called Nibiru. Part of this story is the story of “the Adamu”, a creature sought by the Anunakin (descendants/followers of Anu) in light of their Project on Planet Ea-rth. Consensus among Ultimate Conspiracists, is that the Anunakin (directly translatable into the Nephilim, “Fallen Ones” of the Old Testament) arrived on Earth to carry out a mission of some enormity. Their home world/planet Nibiru was/is in dire crisis due to Ozone layer completion, and to fix this they needed gold, which they knew existed in quantities in the Earth’s crust. To get it out, the Anunakin task force needed a technology, a labour force, and Ea’s answer to this was the Adamu, a genetic creation, possibly, speculate the conspiracists, derived from Neanderthal Man or other pre-frontal-lobe-superdevelopment Man by some manner of genetic engineering.

Hence, they say, the quantum evolutionary jump to homo sapiens; hence Cortes’ extraction of gold on behalf of the King of Spain and the Pope from the coffers of Atahualpa; hence the disappearance of federal gold reserves from the World Trade Centre complex the night before 911, hence the invasion of Iraq; hence the ongoing shafting of the 99.9% of humanity by the 0.1%-and-shrinking lot secured in the billion-dollars-a-seat summit of the pyramid astral vehicle. They are, say the conspiracists, amassing the world’s wealth and lying in wait for Nibiru, the comet-planet of the God-Ancestors. A version of all this forms the backdrop to Luc Besson’s brilliant 1997 film The Fifth Element. Another surfaced more recently, warped in the mirror of contemporary capitalism, in 2009’s 2012.

Ironies abound!

God made Man in His image.

While the People of the Book understand this in (actually shamanic, elemental) terms of divinely aerated dust, Ultimate Conspiracists reveal that the Books actually refer – once you reverse engineer the Almighty spin – to the Anunakin’s creation of the Adamu clone subspecies. The Anunakin, we should note, are masters not only of interplanetary or interdimensional travel, but of genetics. We will see in a later article how to transcend all three super dimensions – time, space and genetics, in order to enter what the neo-Vernadskyist and neo-Mayanist Jose Arguelles would call the noosphere, what Carlos Castaneda called the Nagual, what we might commonly call the Spirit Realm, or even, the Heavens, or, of course, The Matrix.

The most (in)famous Ultimate Conspiracist is the late Zecharia Sitchin. By way of providing a quick overview of his work, try this, a screen grab of image Google results on the term ‘Sitchin’:

Google Images results for 'Sitchin'

Google Images results for 'Sitchin'

…work that is, needless to say (viz initiatix_02: sink or swim) in polar opposition to the Sumerian-studies mainstream. The differences, on the mainstream side at least, seem to hinge on Akkadian and Sumerian grammatical analyses of e.g. whether Elohim always means “gods” or whether it can also mean “God”. See e.g. for dogged counter-conspiracist arguments. You will quickly decide, I think, that enormous effort will be required to arrive at your own conclusions about the syntax and semantics and mythic references of ancient Sumerian.

Sumerian tablet from the 26th Century

Sumerian tablet from the 26th Century

Ultimate Conspiracist Michael Tellinger attempts reconciliation in his Slave Species of God thesis by distinguishing God and god – the latter being, once priestly spin has been reverse-engineered, not Ea/Enki, but his ‘Dark Twin’ Enlil, who had it in for the hapless clone species (us) from the start.

Alert readers will note that we have here another Dualistic forerunner of Good and Evil, God and Satan, Christ and Antichrist…

Initiatically we imagine – along with logoidal manipulation of priestly elites across the ages – ironic reversal upon reversal – Fair is Foul and Foul is Fair – Yin-Yang fish flipping over and over…about which, ultimately, we can say nought beyond the fact that they flip.

But the Theme of the Dark Twin is enormously important, and we will return to it in detail in the initiatix series, in the context of Shinto legend, where Ea has become Amateru, the Solar Deity, and his Dark Brother, Susa-no Wo, the “Banished One”, the anti-Sun.   For now, anticipating ironic transcendence, we simply observe that both Book and Ultimate Conspiracy stories exist.

Inversion of the original point – God made Man – produces not “God made woman”, which is a only a partial inversion, but

  • Woman made God.

And if you want to be really strict and also invert ‘made’, then

  • Woman destroyed God.

God made Eve from Adam’s spare rib

The refrain of Cesar Calvo’s marvellous and highly initiatic novel The Three Halves of Ino Moxo is “The first man on Earth was a woman.” Which navigates the obvious patriarchal fallacy that man came first, with attendant uterusless squirming of ‘from his spare rib’. According to Wikipedia:
The number of ribs was noted by the Flemish anatomist Vesalius in his key work of anatomy De humani corporis fabrica in 1543, setting off a wave of controversy, as it was traditionally assumed from the Biblical story of Adam and Eve that men’s ribs would number one fewer than women’s.[1] Variations in the number of ribs occur. About 1 in 200-500 people have an additional cervical rib, and there is a female predominance.[2]
In Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy, Eliade describes the classic shamanic rite/episode of psychic dismemberment. The would-be shaman is dissected by a spirit guardian, who picks methodically through his separated bones for ‘a certain one’. Without this bone, the person cannot be fully initiated as a shaman. Could this magic bone be the 1 in 200-500 extra rib? Take the extra rib’s extreme significance via the Adam and Eve story, and combine with Carlos Castaneda’s deep esoteric stuff about the energetic gender-bending of the arch-sorcerer known as The Tenant in the Art of Dreaming and it becomes a highly tempting idea.
But we must return somehow to Ugandan attitudes to homosexuality, and we seem to have swung, like Nibiru on its 3600 year elliptical orbit, a long way out from that. We return…
Inverting the original point produces
  • God made Adam from Eve’s spare rib

Which, given the preceding inversion, we might receive as

  • Woman made Adam from Eve’s spare rib

or more straightforwardly

  • Woman made Adam from her own spare rib

or more Ultimate Conspiratorially

  • The Anunakim cloned the Adamu from Eve’s spare rib.

With this last one begging the question of why they had to clone from a spare rib rather than a lock of hair or something. Indeed, this question throws the spotlight on ‘clone’…With eyes on Eliade, Castaneda, Sitchin and Tellinger and the Books all at the same time we might very well arrive at the idea that the Anunakin did not need titration funnels and arrays of test tubes and so on to work their genetic magic. Rather, they worked in the same vein as the classic shamanic psychic operation. Indeed – who are the spirit guardians that traditionally carry out these operations?

And said to them, Go forth and multiply!

And our Faithful Ugandans tend to see homosexuality as the inversion of this original mandate. Likewise pretty much every Theistic religion’s mandate against contraception. Yes we have gone forth and multiplied and look at the ecological impact! We note that the oldest known human remains are African and female – those of Genetic Eve.

Olmec head

Olmec head

Tellinger uses the argument that Olmec (ancient, pre-Aztec Mexico, c 1500 BC) stone heads depict African features and astronautical headgear, and the fact that Africa is rich in gold, silver, tin, diamond and other minerals, to generate the theory that Negroid Homo Sapiens were, if not the first then among the first, generation of Anunakin clones. The astronaut helmets, he offers, may in fact double as mining helmets: these creatures were created to mine the earth for precious metals to return to their masters on Nibiru.

The resonances of this – the historic enslavement of Africans, the continued existence of organisations like de Beers – are many and thought provoking.

What I want to say here – and this is controversial and worst of all risks alignment with Francis Crick’s ludicrous ‘idea’ that Africans are less intelligent than other human beings – is that we have here the barest, most half-baked germ of a clue to African attitudes to human fundamentals like the gay-straight issue.

If the African genome was the first – whether you go with Ultimate Conspiracy or Genetic Eve scientific fact – might it not follow that Africans are closer to the Multiply mandate and therefore more passionately against homosexuality. You will throw the Book at me, of course, and remind me that it is largely from US evangelical Christians that Africans have learned their hellfire attitudes towards the bumhole. (One wonders about attitudes to heterosexual anal sex.) But the ironic-transcendent position on this nurture versus nature retort is that it is not without genetic – perhaps “paleo-genetic” is more accurate – reason that Africa has been so influenced by the Book. We might go as far as to say that Africans, echoing their distant past as first generation slave subspecies, have more obedience built in.

And here we pitch ourselves – gay or straight – I ask you to look unflinchingly and honestly within yourself and I guarantee it is there – into the question of whether, given all of the above, they are right – homosexuality is wrong in as far as it as against the original Multiply mandate.

Please note, I am not now stating, after all this ironic transcendent madness, that homosexuality is ‘wrong’.

Symmetry Of Homosexual Brain Resembles That Of Opposite Sex, Swedish Study Finds

Symmetry Of Homosexual Brain Resembles That Of Opposite Sex, Swedish Study Finds

I am only looking at the other side of the argument, as we always must if we are to proceed. We need not, thanks to modern neuro-imaging, entertain the idea that homosexuality – even if it is not innate – is something that can be ‘righted’ psychologically. The image on the right shows amygdalae firing in the brains of hetero and homo man and woman – demonstrating how the homo pattern of either sex closely resembles the hetero pattern of the opposite sex. We’re back at nature versus nurture again, and in this case – sexual arousal – it may or may not be possible to parade sexy men and women (or children?) in front of babies in brain scanners.

But let us conclude!

Theistic Creation tells us that God made Man. We have inverted this in various ways, touching more initiatic thinking, to arrive at God made Woman and then Man, or, more strongly  God-Woman made Man.

(It sounds ridiculous to say it, because what we are talking about here is enormously mysterious and wondrous, but:) No wonder then, that there is a crisis of Manliness. A hysteria and a hysteresis. Manliness asserted by the shove of a cock, the fertilization of eggs. The catastrophic myth of man-milk, from those distant moments when first-gen frankensteins romped among transcendent-transexual fallen angels to the Chaotic present, when enactment of the Commandment to Multiply effects the transmission of HIV.

But this is surely an entirely animalistic version of events!

Are we not talking ourselves into the hands of the Beast?

“Answers” to be found in the forthcoming initiatix_06…
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initiatix_05: The Tama-no Wo

Preliminaries – initiatix_04: Shin-To, the New Tao.

We are at the Heavenly Court, listening to the Solar Deity, Amateru, explain how the eight sons of the Primordial Ancestor Amemiwoya, To, Ho, Ka, Mi, Ye, Hi, Ta and Me, aka the Kunitsatsuchi, aka the Amoto Deities descend from Above, forming the axes of an eight dimensional Logosphere. Rising to meet them from Below are the eight Anare Deities. At this most basic level, then, we have a rather simple and regular cosmovision.

The cosmos resembles a craggy mountain in form. It embraces the sun, moon and earth like a womb contains a foetus. The stars that shine in the night sky are like speckles seen through a baby’s placenta. And in the eternity on the far side of the universe, eight-coloured eight-fold banners stand at the eight extremities.

We note that 8×8 = 64, which is the number of hexagrams in the I-Ching divination system, but we are concerned here with the number 49.

In the realms of the cosmos, there are 49 divine positions, deities of creation who are also called ‘motoake’ (Deities of the First Light). At their centre sits Amemiwoya. Arranged at eight points around the Great Parent Deity, as if to assist him, are the eight Amoto deities (To-Ho-Ka-Mi-Ye-Hi-Ta-Me). Around them are arranged the eight Anare deities (A-I-Hu-He-Mo-Wo-Su-Si). Finally, in the furthest extremities are the remaining 32 deities, known as the Tamimemusubi.

We now encounter the Futomani Divination Chart, the hologram of this cosmovision.

"The Futomani Chart of Divination consists of a single deity at its centre, with inner, middle, and outer rings surrounding. Besides these, a total of 168,000 spirits serve the 49 deities."

Remember we are dealing with Logos here. Each deity is a sound, a phoneme, which can be represented by a letter in a phonetic alphabet. We shall meet the full 48 character plus one magical character Woshide (ancient script) alphabet of the Hotsuma-Tsutae, in due course.

But first I want to impress upon you the significance of these Descending and Ascending Deities of the First Light.

When we are born in human form, the seeds of humanity are sent down by the will of envoys who assist these original deities. They use these seeds to create souls (tama), which are tied to carnal selves (shiyi) using the ‘knot of the soul’ (tama-no-wo), with the help of the spirits. With this, we receive human life. The Anare deities protect our organs and inner workings, our blood vessels, and our voice. The Tamime deities protect our human appearance.

In other words, our cosmovision is not – like the modern scientific one of planets and solar systems and galaxies – an objective one. Nor is it purely subjective.

An objective cosmovision cannot describe the inner world. While a neurological map, no matter how complete or detailed, may describe the neurological states and changes your brain undergoes during the process of…heartbreak, say, it cannot describe how it feels. It might tell us that the amygdalae secrete unusually high levels of X, which might or might not be connected with certain frontal lobe patterns that might or not might not correspond to you remembering your lost love. But it fundamentally cannot, at any level of description or by any level-changing transformation – reduction, deduction, induction – say anything about the inner.

Conversely, your own personal account of the upset cannot be taken as an objective account. As Kant and Schopenhauer went to enormous lengths to prove philosophically, inner perception is never objective – indeed, perhaps no account can ever be truly objective. Our perception of the outer world is forever and fundamentally mediated by the senses, by where we place our attention, by personality, by emotional investiture in any given situation. We look with rose-tinted lenses, or bleakly, or with detachment. Honing detachment, we aspire to perceiving directly…but can we ever really see What is Ultimately There? We will return to this again and again.

The Hotsuma-Tsutae cosmovision, like any esoteric (shamanic) cosmovision, transcends the objective/subjective divide. Everything is Spirit, is Sound, is Energy. A rock or a tree or the Grand Shrine at Ise and the inner percepts/feelings of these objects can be described in the same language. Which is to say that the H-T cosmovision – like any true shamanic cosmovision – is holographic. Object and observer, as we know (objectively) from hard science, are inextricably linked. An electron is a wave when observed under certain conditions, a particle under others. The problem of observing anything is that the anything is affected by the observation. If you like, you can puzzle over what the world might look like when you are not looking at it. Later on, we will discuss not-looking, an important domain of the initiatic technique of not-doing.

Amateru’s cosmovision is entirely in accord with the classic three-realm shamanic cosmovision of an Upper, a Lower and a Middle world:

Cosmogonic Overview of the Tama-no Wo

Classic Shamanic 3-Cosmogonic Overview of the Tama-no Wo

The Japanese word for soul is tama, which also means ‘jewel’. The Tama is an eight-dimensional entity – let us think of it, for the sake of three-dimensional representability as a jewel with 8 faces – an octahedron. Incarnation, then, is the business of tethering this ‘descending’ jewel to the biomic dimensions, which offer ‘upwards’ 8 sockets for it to plug into. The resulting contraption is the Tama-no Wo, the Knot of the Soul. Once tied, you’re in – carnate, breathing, eating, shitting, suffering and perceiving. We will come onto the other sine qua non of biological life – reproduction – in the next release.

The Upper World here is, as Amateru told us in initiatix_04, the light part that rose, turning to the right (right-handed spiral rune of ‘A’), from the Big Bang of Amemiwoya’s First Breath. The Lower World is the heavy part, that sank, turning to the left (left-handed spiral of ‘Wa’).

A distraction:
We can now resolve any confusion re Heaven and Earth, when comparing H-T with the modern-scientific view of the Solar System. The Planets are Earthy – as in of the earth element – not Heavenly. Thus, all the bodies of the Solar System, apart from Venus and Uranus, spin anticlockwise – to the left. Google this business of planetary spin direction and you’ll basically get a nobody quite knows why kind of answer. Maybe Venus and Uranus (which spins almost on its side) were hit by something.

Radiotelescopes and so on can ‘look’ into the depths of Apparent Space and tell us, via the heavily mediated lenses of astronomy, particle physics and so on, that such and such might have or must have happened x million million years ago. We shall see – if not entirely clearly, the mystery is not yet solved! – what the Hotsuma legends have to offer.

So, we have the Upper World Above (as opposed to ordinary, physical above) and the Lower World Below (as opposed to ordinary, physical below). Our world is what is sandwiched in between.

  • Our world, the Middle World, the world of humans (and jaguars) is the meeting of Amoto and Anare deities.
  • Our world is the result of the tying together of Above and Below.
  • What happens in this Middle World is a function of the Knot.
  • What happens in your world, is a function of your particular Knot.
  • Wouldn’t you like to know how it is tied?

One last thing. Look at the peculiar rune reserved for the special sound U, which sits between Heavenly A and Earthly Wa at the centre of the Futomani/Cosmos. Officially, as a Futomani Priest, I must tell you that this special rune represents Amemiwoya, the Creator, He of that cataclysmic First Breath, First Sound. But does the hourglass shape not suggest a woman? And the round device inside it an unborn baby? And did we not already agree that the Creator was born?

  • Chaos is the Mother of Order
  • Void is the Mother of Form
  • The Mother is the Mother of The Father.

Think about that last one. Something of The Great Irony in there…

Next: initiatix_06: The King’s Speech

initiatix_04 : Shin-To, the New Tao

Preliminaries – initiatix_03: Fish can’t swim

Seal of the Japanese Imperial Household

Seal of the Japanese Imperial Household

At this point we encounter the mysterious Hotsuma-Tsutae:

an epic poem of more than 10,000 lines written in “yamato-kotoba”, an ancient form of Japanese. It tells the story of the “gods” who inhabited Japan in the Late Jomon, Yayoi, and Early Kofun eras (spanning more than a thousand years from the 8th century BC to the 3rd century AD). Its authors are given as Kushimikatama, Minister of the Right in the reign of the Emperor Jimmu, and Ohotataneko, who lived during the reign of the Emperor Keiko.

All Hotsuma-Tsutae quotes are from the English translation by Andrew Driver, courtesy of the Japan Translation Centre site.

The Hotsuma-Tsutae is initiatic mystery through and through. Its discovery is the stuff of a Japanese Da Vinci Code and, due to certain crucial differences from other ancient Japanese texts like theNihon Shoki and the Kojiki, it is discredited as a medieval hoax by mainstream Japanese scholars. Most Japanese people haven’t even heard of it. All very well and good, you should be thinking. Suffice to say, doubts about historical or geographical veracity are swept aside by its rich esoteric resonance.

You may have heard that in modern Shinto, contrary to every other system I can think of, the solar deity is a goddess. HT-savvy scholars believe Amaterasu to be a priestly invention at the behest of the Empress Jingu  (c AD 169 – 269), first empress of Japan. One entirely understands. Even if it is against our inversionistic stance, let us revert here to sun:male moon:female convention. In the Hotsuma Legends, the Solar Deity is Amateru. He is, as we shall see, a sage and decidedly Christ-like character. (Or rather, the Christ is a decidedly Solar Deity-like character.)

Furthermore, Amateru is not Of The Beginning or Absolute, but positioned in mythic history as one of the four children of the Divine First Couple, Isanami and Isanagi, initiators of the whole business of genetic procreation, themselves of the 6th generation of Heavenly Rule, making Amateru himself of the 7th. One of the deeply esoteric aspects of the HT – regardless of whether it is the ancient text it claims to be or some less ancient priestly concoction – is the sheer span of its genealogy. It is divided into the Rule of Heaven, from the beginnings of the cosmos until the accession to the Imperial Throne of the First Human Emperor Jimmu (c 509-571 AD), marking the start of the Rule of Man. This direct descent has enormous implications, as we shall see. We should note here the structure of the HT text itself. There are three parts: The Book of Heaven, The Book of Earth, and the Book of Man. We will be exploring the esoteric (shamanic) resonance of this, i.e. the classic three-tiered cosmovision of upper, middle and lower worlds. We shall shortly hear an account of the separation of the formless Before into the three worlds. It is of the utmost importance to the present moment. Why? The three worlds are once again coming together.

One of the most intriguing aspects of the Hotsuma Legends is that within their expanse of mythic time, the same events reported in established ancient Japanese texts like the Nihon Shoki and Kojiki explicitly involving Divine characters, are related (in HT) as the goings-on of Lordly but Earthly characters.

You will remember our discussion of Aquarius, the Sign of the Flood. We shall be most interested with those concerning Ryu-jin, the Dragon King, who rules the seas from Ryugu-jo, the legendary subaquatic Dragon Palace. The Nihon Shoki and Kojiki mention him as such, but in the HT his identity is craftily concealed: he is Lord Hadezumi, who rules from the Mizugaki Palace, somewhere near Udo, on the (western) coast of what is now known as Kyushu.

What are we to make of this encoding?

There are many conclusions we might draw:

  • that the HT is a milestone of priestly agenda
  • that the HT is a truly esoteric work, concealing the involvement of divine beings in earthly history by giving them earthly identities
  • that what come down to us as gods and goddesses were in ancient times ‘mere’ mortals
  • that gods and goddesses always work through mortal guise on the earthly plane
  • that all myth and legend, especially when ascribed historical actuality, are the product of priestly agendae
  • that all legends of divine intervention are, via priestly manipulation or not, human projection
  • that (with Joseph Campbell) all myth serves to generate a culture whose principal function is to buffer human consciousness from the Dreadful and Unfathomable Senselessness of Nature – the terrifying fact that it All Goes On, Birthing and Dying and Predating without End.

Transcendentally, we must of course take all of the above as the case. In the Final Synthalysis, anything which can be talked about does not exist. Conversely, That Which Is cannot be talked about. All myth, all initiations and inversions are ladders to be climbed (or descended) and then to be thrown away. Only ironies persist.

But we arrived here from the Fall of Babel.

Fallen, scrabbling amongst the shards of the Logos, we have ground them to dust, to atoms. (This, surely the thesis of Michel Houlebecq’s novel Atomised). At the end of semantics, we regain Meaning from Meaninglessness.

Castaneda fans will recall the story of don Juan instructing his students to carry a large dining table into the mountains and to set it up there, complete with crockery, cutlery and ketchup. Don Juan likens the table to the cognitive world of ordinary men, cluttered with its little conventions. The area underneath the table, he likens to the unconscious self. In a sweeping gesture he indicates the surrounding mountains.

This vastness, only revealed (apo-calypsed) once the Logos has vanished, fallen to dust, is the very vastness only the Logos can encompass.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God.

But not the kind of word you could Google; the kind of Word mountains are made of.

We are looking, you will recall, for the Logos, the original Sonic Handles of the Cosmos. To find them, we must return to times Before the Fall. Amateru himself tells the assembled Heavenly Court:

In the far and distant past, long before our court had come into being, when heaven and earth were not yet separate, and not even the sun, the moon, and the stars had come into existence, the universe was ruled by confusion that had no shape and no form, floating and swirling and bubbling around without end.

HT: Book of Heaven: 2nd Aya: Ame Nanayo Tokomiki-no Aya, “Seven Heavenly Generations and the Ritual Beverage.

The T(a)o, then.

Interestingly, Amateru – the Solar Deity – himself refers to ‘the sun’. This is a clue as to his esoteric identity. He is not, literally, identical with the Sun, but of some Direct Accord with it. Perhaps ‘Through the Sun’ is the best way to think of it. Amateru is, perhaps, an Age of the Sun, corresponding perhaps to stages of solar lifespan, or to revolutions of the equinoctial rising sun around the signs of the zodiac (hello Aquarius) or revolutions of the Sun and planets around the centre of the Milky Way or some even wider-field axis. We may touch on this later, when we visit the Maya.

But then, after an infinitely long passage of time, at last there started to appear a sign that this darkness of the universe would divide into a negative or female part and a positive or male part.


Let us simply note and bear with the value assignments of male and female here; we will transcend them later. Let us also note the paradoxical preposition ‘after an infinitely long passage of time’.

Before heaven and earth and man were separated, Amemiwoya blew the first breath into the swirling confusion and chaos. Then the skies quietly started to turn, rising in the east and setting in the west. Eventually, a heavenly pillar was formed in the centre of the swirling chaos. It split into two, dividing into a negative, female part and a positive, male part. The light, male part turned and rose upwards to form the heavens, while the heavy, female part sank down to form the earth.

HT: Book of Heaven: 14th Aya: Yotsugi norunoto koto-no Aya, “Prayers and Incantations of Succession”.

Let us again note and bear with the value/gender stuff. For here we have The First Word. That first animating breath. The Big Bang. The First Expression of the Infinite Ecstasy of Oneness. The Vedic Om. The First Sonic Handle of the Cosmos.

But where did Amemiwoya come from? This is the question – who created the Creator – that occupies the 600 or so pages of Gore Vidal’s magnificent (but surprisingly exoteric) novel Creation.

Into the midst of this [the formless] was born the Amemiwoya deity (the “August Parent of the Heavens”). When he blew his first breath into the bubbling, swirling universe, it started to turn more quietly and peacefully. At its centre stood a great column called Amenomihashira (the “August Pillar of the Heavens”), and around it the confused mass of the universe at last started to take shape.

HT: Book of Heaven: 2nd Aya: Ame Nanayo Tokomiki-no Aya, “Seven Heavenly Generations and the Ritual Beverage”.

So. The Creator of the Universe was born. Here is the fundamental answer to any complaints re value assignments to the genders. At the end of the day – or rather, before the Day Began – Amemiwoya was born…of a mother. The Great Mother, who is the Void, which is so Empty that it cannot help but give birth to Form. All Form is Emptiness – of the Void. Emptiness is Form, sooner or later. Do you see? There are many things we can take away in our initiatic goodie bag (or is it a baddie bag?) Perhaps most deliciously, that Positive (male, Heaven) was born of Negative (female, Hell).

Wait, you say. You have deftly (priestily) switched Earth for Hell.

Well picked up on. Let me simply say for now that we are talking of a classic three-tier shamanic cosmovision – Upper, Middle and Lower Worlds – which is not to be confused with a modern scientific cosmoview. What’s the difference? The modern view is objective (and therefore illusory), while the esoteric/shamanic cosmovision is subjective-objective, as anything esoteric worth its transmuted weight in gold should be. It is a map of the Inner World – not (only) a psychological map of the labyrinths of consciousness, but a Holographic map. In the HT’s cosmovision, “Earth” is the Lower World, which in our Fishily Polar, End of the Age of Pisces Duality, has been called Hell.

To continue this diversion:
The essential emanation of Hell is Temptation, which is, contra to the typically male and straight patriarchs who line the Way, female. Just as Void gives birth to Form, via Shaping Breath, via Sound, so Temptation gives birth to Purity (assuming, in the end, at least, one doesn’t just keep giving in). To flit rapidly to the Garden of Eden, we can immediately invert everything. That Adam was born of Eve’s spare rib, that the God of the Garden was in fact the Devil, who did not want to Come Down to Earth, that Satan is in fact God, the Promethean Descender and therefore Redeemer of the Earth. The old ‘God’ of the Garden was an old stick in the mud. Soon as the kids saw the Tree and ate its Fruit they were…Incarnate.

Now, being incarnate is, by all convention, the fundement of the human condition. It is human nature. And yet it was anathema to the God of the Garden. Who was it exactly who didn’t like humans? Was it Iblis, who was thrown down because he didn’t dig humans? Or has some kind of switcheroo been worked in? Do you see? Only by inverting everything do we begin to regain some sense of what the hell is being got at. And one inversion is not enough. It is only the first shove that gets the motor turning. Turning and churning, endlessly, which is the True Nature of the Universe – that which Turns.

I reassure faint-hearted readers here that this is not a Satanic tract. In any biblical diversion we are of course being priestly – precisely as priestly as anyone who has given word to the Fundamental Mystery: the Creation of the Creator, the Birth of the Creator, the Emergence of the Being that Blew the First Breath.

In the Void there are no polarities. There is neither Creator and Creation, nor Child and Mother, nor Female and Male, Light and Dark, Good and Evil. The fundemental mystery is the Two from the One: Duality from Unity.

But we came from the Fall of Babel, in search of Sonic Handles which might have been in reach of the Top of the Tower before it Fell.

The spirit of the female part divided into water and earth through the motion of the heavens. The air from the male part created the wind, and the wind gave birth to fire, giving the three elements of air, wind and fire. The three original elements of the male became round with fire to form the sun. The two elements of the female became hardened to form the moon.

HT: Book of Heaven: 14th Aya: Yotsugi norunoto koto-no Aya, “Prayers and Incantations of Succession.

Note the five elements: Water, Earth, Air, Wind and lastly Fire. And note, to divert once again, that it was due to his Nature as being made of Fire that Iblis (according to priestly agenda) refused to accept the sacred nature of Man, whose essence was Earth. We can – crazily quickly – say that it is Fire, the element of Iblis, of Hellfire, that Anima-tes.


these five elements of air, wind, fire, water and earth joined together to form the first human being.


This is fundamentallissimo:

  • That the Human Being is Composed of the Same Stuff as the Cosmos.

The name of this deity was Ameminakanushi (Lord of the Centre of Heaven). He begat children in all corners of the earth and sent them out to every land, where they became the primordial ancestors of all people on earth.


In the 2nd Aya, the narrative runs like this:

Now, the first deity born on this earth was called Kunitokotachi.

Simply note that Ameminakanushi and Kunitokotachi are one and the same.

Kunitokotachi begat eight sons, whom he sent out to rule the eight provinces of the earth. For that reason, the sons are known as the Yamoyakudari (“Eight Directions and Eight Descendings”). These are the ancestors of all earthly rulers, and are also known collectively as the Kunisatsuchi.

The eight sons were named To, Ho, Ka, Mi, Ye, Hi, Ta, and Me (abbreviated from their full names To-no-Kunisatsuchi, Ho-no-Kunisatsuchi, and so forth). And in this way, the number eight came to take on a sacred meaning in this ancient land. The eight sons also came to be known as the Yamotogami (“Eight Original Deities”), upon whose foundation the world was thought to rest.

We now have eight Syllables further to the mystical First (which we shall come to later).

An eight-dimensional Sonic Outline to Creation.

If this is sounding a little more…regular than you had thought, then again, well picked up on. Let us return to the 14th Aya:

The cosmos resembles a craggy mountain in form.

One thinks of the Andean Cross, the Chacana (right ->).

The Andean cross or Chacana

The Andean cross or Chacana

In the realms of the cosmos, there are 49 divine positions, deities of creation who are also called ‘motoake’ (Deities of the First Light). At their centre sits Amemiwoya. Arranged at eight points around the Great Parent Deity, as if to assist him, are the eight Amoto deities (To-Ho-Ka-Mi-Ye-Hi-Ta-Me). Around them are arranged the eight Anare deities (A-I-Hu-He-Mo-Wo-Su-Si)

Et voila.

We have arrived at the essential Sonic Cosmovision of the HT. 16 of the 49 Deities of the First Light. We note that they are Sounds. That is, just as they are of the cosmos, so the Cosmos is of them. According to the HT, these are the first 16 Syllables of the Logos, the 16 Solar Rays of the Imperial Seal.

Now what?

Coming up next:
We continue to listen to Amateru’s discourse on the cosmos at the Heavenly Court, where things will take a genetic turn…Remember the link I hinted at in Sink or Swim II between the Tower and genetics? Between Word and Genetics. Between Abstract and Carnal. A double spiral Fall. Splashdown in the Churning and Sexy Sea of Genome.

Next: initiatix_05: The Tama-no Wo.