I’m trying to remember the last time I let the salt of the Pacific Ocean dry on my skin. It has been years and was in another country all together (Fiji). Perhaps jet lag’s only benefit is that you are up at dawn and ready for action. If the baths had been open at 3am I would have gone then. But they were still quiet at 7am.
Returning to my mother the psychonaut’s house, I sit on the back porch with coffee and open my laptop with jellied arms -I used to be able to do 20 laps each morning but it started getting painful after four. Four! My feed is full having been away from the internets while crossing the whole earth in a plane yesterday. A flock of cockatoos screech, whorl and land in MMTP’s crow tree.
I know it’s her crow tree because she pointed it out yesterday and said “I better put some water out for the crows”. I laughed because in another context this would seem excessively witchy or emo and asked her why she was doing that and why was the water specifically for crows. She looked at me like she only just realised her oldest son is mentally retarded and said “because it’s hot”.
She never used to leave water out for crows in her old house which, while it is in more or less the same part of Newcastle, is on a different hill… one with a naturally occurring water source quite nearby. So this is a local ecosystemic response and it makes me think about the veritable flowering of comments, input and responses to Sarah and my recent discussion about animism.
And on that, can I just say that it’s lovely to see so many people providing feedback and opinions here or on their own blogs or on twitter or the facestalk page. Aidan is probably in the lead at the moment. (You didn’t know this was a precision-judged competition? Did I not mention that?) I want to pick up on a few of the comments and observations and take them a bit further.
Firstly, when it comes to spirit work, particularly as it pertains to offerings and the dead, let the system complicate itself. This is a design idea I lifted from permaculture: Most new permaculturalists want the whole thing from the food forests to the natural flora for the bees to the composting waste system to the aquaculture network all at once… and what happens if you try to deploy a complex answer is that the system will decomplexify first -ie collapse- before building toward its own complexity as it matches or manifests in its local environment.
Nassim Taleb says something similar when it comes to risk: The more complex your solution, the more fat tail risk it adds to a system. His example is GMOs -with which he is in a hilarious war on twitter that you should all follow. Specifically this monstrous ‘golden rice’ invented because of some apparent vitamin deficiency in Southeast Asia. Taleb’s solution: then give them vitamins! Don’t introduce a completely new, complex-engineered crop into an ecosystem and supply chain that has to feed more than a quarter of the world’s population. The overly complex solution adds a whole lot of risk that wasn’t there before and is not apparent in the history of the area/category.
How this relates to animism and spirit contact -particularly for beginners- is the example of MMTP and her crows. ‘Leaving water out for crows’ is not a piece of guidance you would typically offer to new home owners. So it is with spirits. Loading up right away on land spirits, bloodline dead, heroic dead, grimoire spirits you have or would like to have an affinity with, plant allies, animal allies is not recommended… people want to come jingle jangling out of the gate, dripping with charms and bones. I guarantee this system will decomplexify before recomplexifying. Sarah and I rolled through quite a number of spirit classes and approaches, some of which may be relevant to your specific situation, some of the time.
However, if you start simple and let the system -ie the ‘physical and spirit ecosystem of place’ complicate itself, then you are on better footing. For context, this is what I meant when I said I try to ‘trick’ people into spirit working beginning with some relatively benign ancestor offerings. It’s a low-complexity beginning that then builds out complexity for your ecto/ecosystem. All things being equal, in natural systems (which would include the spirit world in an animist model), increasing complexity is a sign of health. Initial complexity is a collapse risk. Be the vitamins, not the golden rice.
Funnily enough, it is this reticence to get more specific without knowing the individualised contexts which provides one of the under-examined benefits of animism as an explanatory model. On both Nick and Greg’s podcasts, I’ve previously been asked ‘how’ I think the spirit/extradimensional realm interacts with the human political landscape. You will all no doubt be aware of the conspiratainment fantasy belief in some kind of ruling elite in secret, occult relationships with ‘dark entities’ for… whatever reasons. Outside of a few isolated examples in history, this is not a very well supported hypothesis. A ‘wider ecosystemic’ interaction such as you might find in twenty first century animist explanations is a better match… ambivalent spirits interact with geopolitical hierarchies just as they interact with everything else; in a complex fashion for a multitude of reasons. And just as it is with the ‘initial complexity’ problem, it can be very difficult to be more specific without additional specifics, if you specifically follow me. So yes, there are probably demons wandering the halls of the Pentagon. That does not mean Cheney summoned them with his words, only his actions.
I was thinking about this yesterday on the plane (was it yesterday?) as I was listening to Greg interview Peter Levenda -after much pestering from me- on the Higherside Chats. This really is an episode you want to be a plus member for because the whole two hours is great. It was fascinating to fly over the sands of the Arabian peninsula -looking down on deserts and very djinn-haunted mountains- while listening to Greg and Peter talk about Sinister Forces and how they operate on history. An animist model introduces the appropriate intellectual framework -otherwise entirely absent in conspiratainment- for modelling these sorts of impacts. Peter’s Sinister Forces trilogy remains the first and the last word on how this might look in American history.
Which leads neatly to the final response to the show I want to comment upon.
Sarah replied to a comment noting surprise that I thought animism has yet to receive adequate philosophical consideration. Apologies for the confusion, I should have been clearer. There certainly are good bits of literature of animism talking to animism -some of which are mentioned in the comments thread- but by philosophical consideration I meant it has yet to receive its seat at the Big Table.
The Big Table has Materialism arguing with Idealism -with high profile heroes on both sides, such as Dawkins and Chopra. Then there’s Panpsychism which seems to be a poorly-constructed fudge of Materialism as a system designed to begin answering the Hard Problem of consciousness. If you look at the Royal Society debates or similar, it’s largely a case of presenting these two and a half options as the only ones around. Animism needs to get itself a Richard Dawkins and a seat at this Big Table because, of all the options, it better models psi effects, NDEs, spirit communication, unexplained biological effects like morphic fields… as well as UFOs and conspiratainment theories… as well as providing as good an explanation as any of the others (better than Materialism’s) for the creation and purpose of the universe. It absorbs all that AAT shit I love such as directed panspermia and the weapons signatures in Mars’s atmosphere without blinking and without really changing the rules of interaction for you here on earth now. Mars would have had/does have its own spirit world and particular rules of interaction with it, some of which has shown up in an incomplete fashion in the earth’s spirit world, etc. (As you might expect, Star.Ships deep dives into this sort of thing. If you want to piss off every single person you have ever met, you can call it ‘Ancient Aliens for anarchist animists’.)
As a model animism is genuinely the best fit for the most data when compared to the Big Table options. I can only assume it has yet to receive its seat because it’s unthinkingly considered a ‘devolved’ version of Idealism. So my prediction is we will see it at the Big Table over the next hundred years.
Something to look forward to.