• More Than Just Words

    For evil to triumph, it only needs that the good do nothing.

    If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

    If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

    The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists we will be. The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.

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This Blog Has Moved

This blog is now located, more fittingly, in the Centre of the Psyclone.

There you’ll find all previous posts from here and the Spiral Ladder archived, a separate section, Articles, featuring the most important and practical posts, as well as frequently uploaded content intended to open eyes, free minds, reclaim power and change worlds.

See you there.

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The New Updated 2nd Edition of Psyclone is Out!

From the new Centre of the Psyclone blog

Updated Psyclone 2nd Edition Cover

Not only that, but it’s free to download in a variety of formats for a limited time. If you’re looking for or want to give someone something more than entertainment or distraction, something that actually connects to usable information that improves and even changes lives, go download it.

Happy Xmas (War Is Over)

In 1969 and 70 John Lennon and Yoko Ono spread a specific message of peace around the world. American combat troops had been fighting in Vietnam since 1965, and around 45,000 Americans had already been killed by the end of 1969. Almost half a million US men and women were deployed in the conflict, and opposition to the war was growing as demonstrated by The Peace Moratorium, which was at that time the largest demonstration in US history with an estimated two million people involved.

Against that backdrop John and Yoko rented billboards in eleven major cities around the world and put up posters that read: “WAR IS OVER! (If You Want It) Happy Christmas from John and Yoko”.

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” is a song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono and released in 1971 as a single by John & Yoko/Plastic Ono Band with the Harlem Community Choir. John explained that what he and Yoko wanted to see was for people all over the world to come together on wanting peace. They wanted to see people talking about peace, working for peace, praying for peace, thinking about peace, publicising peace, doing whatever came to mind for the cause of peace.

They wanted people to get into the idea of “War Is Over” and to state it, believe it, shout it, display it. The idea was that if enough people believe that war is over then we will have a peaceful world. (Those reading this who think the idea is nonsense should bring their perception of what is possible using intention up to date with the scientific findings of The Intention Experiment, the first worldwide double-blind experiments on the effects of focused intent).

In the following video from Yoko Ono’s Imagine Peace, John explains his reasoning behind the action.

John Lennon is arguably the most famous peace activist of our time, and the War is Over – If You Want It campaign was a product of his vision and dedication to the cause. If he were alive today you can guarantee that he would be making himself heard and promoting a message of peace. Those who didn’t want peace got rid of John, but his legacy is still with us.

On the Imagine Peace website is the War is Over – If You Want It image in a variety of freely downloadable formats.  Download it print out and display in in your windows, at school, at work, and in your car window. Use it as your avatar or profile picture, send it as a greetings card.

Of all the songs regurgitated over the period, too often this one is conspicuous by its absence. Given its antiwar message and the fact that there has been a war going on fairly continuously since WWII, it’s little wonder that media controllers don’t encourage its being aired. Personally, I’d like to hear the song more often than I do, especially over the coming weeks. In fact, I’d like to see it reach number one in the charts this Christmas.

Hands up who wants peace! Me too, and I can’t think of a better way around this time of year than breathing life into John’s vision. His message was that it’s up to us, we have the power to end war. A message that needs to be heard again.

Download the image, share it, print it out. Again, I can’t think of a card more fitting or cool this Yule. Send in requests to the radio,  download the song.

Many of you will remember the successful move made by Facebook users last year to scupper the plans of the producers of the TV show X-Factor by displacing their contrived hit song with the more sincere Rage Against the Machine song.  The action restored my faith in people and the potential of social networks.

LETS”S DO IT AGAIN!

The easiest way I can think of is just do it yourself, and share the idea with your friends and people. There is a Facebook group with the theme of Make Happy Xmas War is Over (If You Want It) Christmas No.1, but I would question the need. We can act as a group without being ‘part of a group’. I say this suspecting that the men behind the curtain aren’t going to sit by idly while their tool is once more used as a rallying point, and even less so if that message is, like John and Yoko’s, one of love and peace.

Download the image, share it, print it out, put it in your windows at home and in your vehicle; use it as your avatar or profile picture for the season, send it as a greetings card, send in daily requests to the radio, download the song.

In John’s own words, ‘We can get it together. Get it?! Together!’

Peace.

 

Turkeys narrowly reject anti-Christmas motion

From the new Centre of the Psyclone blog

353-tukeysThe Turkeys of England have narrowly rejected a motion that promised to replace old-fashioned Christmas carnage with a bright, death-free 21st century future, due to strong opposition from traditional wings of the shed.

‘I’m not a self-hating turkey,’ said a retired bird from Ipswich and member of the Cage of Lay-it-ere, ‘but my mother taught me to know my place. We were told as eggs we could do anything we liked – accountant, racing driver, you name it – as long as we accepted that, one day, we would end up lying on our backs, feet behind our ears with a carrot up our arse, waiting for Gas Mark 5. I truly believe that if God had meant us to fly, he wouldn’t have invented basting, sprouts, cranberry sauce or the big glass oven shelf.’

Senior flock leaders voted overwhelmingly in favour of plans to replace the annual ritual of humiliation and carnage with a more vegetarian rite, but were narrowly beaten by representatives of the rank-and-filed beaks. Some opposing the idea believed it to be their ordained role in life to be ceremonially slaughtered and trussed up, while others felt the decision could not be made without consulting all poultry currently destined for the dining table, including turkeys within the fold who lived way, way outside the fold.

‘As English Turkeys we clearly can’t fly in the face of Italian chickens and Greek geese, or those very important birds, whatever they’re called, from Africa, or they might come over here and humiliate us by demanding to be eaten,’ gobbled an old black-feathered Turkey wearing a festive Italian chicken costume to emphasise how ridiculous all these foreign views might be.

However, the non-Turkey world has reinforced its stance that turkeys are ripe for the eating. ‘They’re just sitting ducks as far as I’m concerned’ said a metropole. ‘And no, I can’t pretend to have tried to understand their point of view or seen with my own eyes what they’re on about by visiting one of their Norfolk sheds. Not even the big pointy one in the middle of Norwich’

Rules of the Road – Principles of Spiritual Activism

Reposted from the Centre of the Psyclone

From the Satyana Institute

The following principles emerged from several years’ work with social change leaders in Satyana’s Leading with Spirit program. We offer these not as definitive truths, but rather as key learnings and guidelines that, taken together, comprise a useful framework for “spiritual activism.”

  1. Transformation of motivation from anger/fear/despair to compassion/love/purpose. This is a vital challenge for today’s social change movement. This is not to deny the noble emotion of appropriate anger or outrage in the face of social injustice. Rather, this entails a crucial shift from fighting against evil to working for love, and the long-term results are very different, even if the outer activities appear virtually identical. Action follows Being, as the Sufi saying goes. Thus “a positive future cannot emerge from the mind of anger and despair” (Dalai Lama).
  2. Non-attachment to outcome. This is difficult to put into practice, yet to the extent that we are attached to the results of our work, we rise and fall with our successes and failures—a sure path to burnout. Hold a clear intention, and let go of the outcome—recognizing that a larger wisdom is always operating. As Gandhi said, “the victory is in the doing,” not the results. Also, remain flexible in the face of changing circumstances: “Planning is invaluable, but plans are useless.”(Churchill)
  3. Integrity is your protection. If your work has integrity, this will tend to protect you from negative energy and circumstances. You can often sidestep negative energy from others by becoming “transparent” to it, allowing it to pass through you with no adverse effect upon you. This is a consciousness practice that might be called “psychic aikido.”
  4. Integrity in means and ends. Integrity in means cultivates integrity in the fruit of one’s work. A noble goal cannot be achieved utilizing ignoble means.
  5. Don’t demonize your adversaries. It makes them more defensive and less receptive to your views. People respond to arrogance with their own arrogance, creating rigid polarization. Be a perpetual learner, and constantly challenge your own views.
  6. You are unique. Find and fulfill your true calling. “It is better to tread your own path, however humbly, than that of another, however successfully.” (Bhagavad Gita)
  7. Love thy enemy. Or at least, have compassion for them. This is a vital challenge for our times. This does not mean indulging falsehood or corruption. It means moving from “us/them” thinking to “we” consciousness, from separation to cooperation, recognizing that we human beings are ultimately far more alike than we are different. This is challenging in situations with people whose views are radically opposed to yours. Be hard on the issues, soft on the people.
  8. Your work is for the world, not for you. In doing service work, you are working for others. The full harvest of your work may not take place in your lifetime, yet your efforts now are making possible a better life for future generations. Let your fulfillment come in gratitude for being called to do this work, and from doing it with as much compassion, authenticity, fortitude, and forgiveness as you can muster.
  9. Selfless service is a myth. In serving others, we serve our true selves. “It is in giving that we receive.” We are sustained by those we serve, just as we are blessed when we forgive others. As Gandhi says, the practice of satyagraha (“clinging to truth”) confers a “matchless and universal power” upon those who practice it. Service work is enlightened self-interest, because it cultivates an expanded sense of self that includes all others.
  10. Do not insulate yourself from the pain of the world. Shielding yourself from heartbreak prevents transformation. Let your heart break open, and learn to move in the world with a broken heart. As Gibran says, “Your pain is the medicine by which the physician within heals thyself.” When we open ourselves to the pain of the world, we become the medicine that heals the world. This is what Gandhi understood so deeply in his principles of ahimsa and satyagraha. A broken heart becomes an open heart, and genuine transformation begins.
  11. What you attend to, you become. Your essence is pliable, and ultimately you become that which you most deeply focus your attention upon. You reap what you sow, so choose your actions carefully. If you constantly engage in battles, you become embattled yourself. If you constantly give love, you become love itself.
  12. Rely on faith, and let go of having to figure it all out. There are larger ‘divine’ forces at work that we can trust completely without knowing their precise workings or agendas. Faith means trusting the unknown, and offering yourself as a vehicle for the intrinsic benevolence of the cosmos. “The first step to wisdom is silence. The second is listening.” If you genuinely ask inwardly and listen for guidance, and then follow it carefully—you are working in accord with these larger forces, and you become the instrument for their music.
  13. Love creates the form. Not the other way around. The heart crosses the abyss that the mind creates, and operates at depths unknown to the mind. Don’t get trapped by “pessimism concerning human nature that is not balanced by an optimism concerning divine nature, or you will overlook the cure of grace.” (Martin Luther King) Let your heart’s love infuse your work and you cannot fail, though your dreams may manifest in ways different from what you imagine.

I Know of no Reason Why The Gunpowder Treason Should Ever be Forgot.

(From the new Centre of the Psyclone blog)

A closer look at the Gunpowder Plot gives new perspectives on the account in itself and in relation to current events.

Most people in Britain have a vague awareness of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot, something along the lines of a man called Guy Fawkes was caught in the act of trying to blow up the Houses of Parliament, and was executed. That it is so vague is down to the fact that the details of the man, the incident and the situation in the country that led to the plot aren’t generally taught and/or discussed. The fact that the incident is given so little detailed attention is in itself suspicious. Over the years my suspicion has deepened to a point where I’m now convinced that the subject has been the victim of a long-running psychological operations (PsyOps) campaign designed to minimise the political lessons of the story. (PsyOps, for those of you who missed that class, have been defined as ‘the planned use of communications to influence human attitudes and behaviour … to create in target groups behaviour, emotions, and attitudes that support the attainment of national objectives…disseminated by face-to-face communication, television, radio or loudspeaker, newspapers, books, magazines and/or posters’.)

An example of the process in connection with the account of the Gunpowder Plot is how in the UK in the 1970’s the 5th of November was still known and referred to as Guy Fawkes night. By the 1990’s the collection by children of money for a straw-filled dummy wheeled around the streets prior to the 5th, the ‘penny for the Guy’, and the burning of the Guy on the bonfire, had been banned and the night no longer called Guy Fawkes Night but referred to by the establishment and media as Bonfire Night. Nowadays the night is called Fireworks Night and public celebrations are often just fireworks demonstrations. Bonfires are discouraged to a point where in recent years in London some people have gathered around a virtual bonfire projected onto a screen.

On hearing the night referred to as anything but Guy Fawkes Night I usually object and remind the speaker that the night commemorates an important occasion in British history and the death of a political martyr. As I’ve said in the article ‘Suicide Bombers and the Promise of Heaven?’ I am, very strongly, against the killing of innocent people, non-combatants, in the course of political, ideological, or any other kind of conflict. It is a fact that innocent people, non-combatants, would have been killed had the Gunpowder Plot been successful. That such an attempt was tried, and the sociopolitical situation that led to it, should not be forgotten though, particularly as it can help us to understand similar events and actions taking place around the world today.

The following section is summarised from this article from the Gunpowder Plot Society, one of the best sources of information regarding the man and the time.

fawks-group_copy

Born in April 1570 Guy Fawkes was the only son of Edward Fawkes, proctor of the ecclesiastical courts and advocate of the consistory court of the Archbishop of York. At around twenty-three years of age he left England for Flanders where he enlisted in the Spanish army under the Archduke Albert of Austria, Fawkes held a post of command when the Spaniards took Calais in 1596 under the orders of King Philip II of Spain. He was described at the time as a man “of excellent good natural parts, very resolute and universally learned”, and was “sought by all the most distinguished in the Archduke’s camp for nobility and virtue”. Tesimond also describes him as “a man of great piety, of exemplary temperance, of mild and chearful demeanour, an enemy of broils and disputes, a faithful friend, and remarkable for his punctual attendance upon religious observance”. His extraordinary fortitude, and his “considerable fame among soldiers”, perhaps acquired through his services under Colonel Bostock at the Battle of Nieuport in 1600 brought him to the attention of Sir William Stanley in charge of the English regiment in Flanders, Hugh Owen and Father William Baldwin. Fawkes severed his connection with the Archduke’s forces on 16 February 1603, when he was granted leave to go to Spain on behalf of Stanley, Owen and Baldwin to “enlighten King Philip II concerning the true position of the Romanists (Catholics) in England. England at that time was a society seething with sectarian conflict between Protestants and Catholics. Henry VIII, had broken with the Catholic Church over matters both political and marital. That break had led to the growth of Protestant power in England, particularly in the cities. The more rural areas of England were less inclined to enjoy the change, and violence followed as first one side, then the other, gained the upper hand. After Henry’s death in 1547, according to historian F.E. Halliday, “There followed a disastrous decade, a violent oscillation impelled by greed and fanaticism, out to an extreme Protestantism and back to a medieval Catholicism. Discord in religion and its exploitation for political ends were now to make the creation of order still more difficult.”

By the time James I ascended to the English throne following Queen Elizabeth’s death, the kingdom was populated by a large minority of Catholics who felt themselves unjustly oppressed, mixed amongst a Protestant majority almost paralysed by fear of Catholic intrigue from within and invasion from without. Unfortunately James’ attitudes only made things worse. James was an aspiring dictator, a man who believed himself to be an all-powerful monarch, justified in his regal splendour by the divine right of kings. “Kings are justly called gods,” he wrote, “for that they exercise a manner or resemblance of divine power upon earth.” Like God, he said, kings “make and unmake their subjects, they have power of raising and casting down, of life and of death, judges over all their subjects and in all causes and yet accountable to none but God only.” This belief that he was as a god within his kingdom, accountable to no man or law save himself, was a spark almost certain to set off a social conflagration.

James deliberately antagonised the Catholic minority. A new peace with Catholic Spain may have initially provided a fleeting sense of hope that conditions for Catholics would improve, but that turned out not to be the case. The continuing practice of recusancy, compelling Catholics to attend Protestant services or pay a steep fine, brought about great financial hardship as “farmers and laborers who decidedly preferred the old forms of worship, were deprived of their rites and ministers, and ruined by spies, pursuivants and bad neighbours, who carded off their goods under cover of collecting recusancy fines, till one by one they gave up the struggle and conformed.”

Catholics lived through an ongoing and fluctuating persecution. Priests said Mass secretly at times, more openly at others. For a time it would be dangerous to be a Catholic. At other times, and sometimes in other places, it was a mark of distinction and honor. Embodied in the Penal Code, the persecution was irregular in its working. “It was at no moment … completely enforced…. The degree of its enforcement varied continually in respect to persons, places and times.” wrote the British historian Trevelyan. Catholics, Trevelyan noted, “were made to confine their activity and influence to their own estates, by laws which excluded them from any post in national or local government, and even forbade them to travel five miles from their place of residence without licenses signed by neighbouring magistrates.” Intrigues developed including a radical party, led by the Jesuits, seeking reconversion of the kingdom, by the sword if necessary.

Early on, James had appeased the Catholics by renewing diplomatic ties with Rome. Many Catholics viewed this as a promise of toleration. Maybe the recusancy fines would no longer be collected. Such hopes, however, were dashed and even a group of moderate Catholics, feeling betrayed, hatched a plot to abduct the new king. The plot was relayed to the king by none other than the Jesuit faction in both a betrayal and a stroke of subversive genius. James, thinking as a result that he could trust the Jesuits, did finally implement a plan of toleration in response. Catholicism would be tolerated, so long as Catholics pledged their loyalty to the king and their numbers kept in check.

The Jesuits, for their part, had no intention of declaring their loyalty to the king. But more alarming to the Protestants was the sudden rush of formerly hidden Catholics flocking to services and gatherings that were no longer suppressed. “Whole neighbourhoods were alarmed,” Trevelyan noted, “by great gatherings of Catholic devotees…. James, terrified at the phantoms his first stroke of kingcraft had conjured up,” abruptly reversed course in his policies. “In February 1604 a proclamation appeared ordering all priests to quit the country; in August several were hanged by judges on the circuit, though without instructions from the government; in November the levy of fines from lay recusants was vigorously resumed; in December five men were mining a tunnel from a neighbouring cellar to the wall of Parliament House.”

The Catholic rebellion was hatched by Robert Catesby. Intelligent, industrious, and well educated, Catesby came from a notable family. A distant ancestor had served as councilor to King Richard III. When, with other Catholics, his final hopes for tolerance under James were dashed, he resolved to lead a plot to overthrow the government for good. This would be accomplished beginning with one remarkable act of violence by destroying Parliament and the king in an instant with a gunpowder-fuelled explosion. According to the Gunpowder Plot Society, an historical society dedicated to researching the uprising, “Catesby felt that ‘the nature of the disease required so sharp a remedy,’ and that the Plot was a morally justifiable act of self-defence against the oppressive rule of a tyrant.”

Of the co- conspirators Catesby gathered, Trevelyan retrospectively judged that their motives were pure. “They were,” he said, “pure from self-interest and love of power. It is difficult to detect any stain upon their conduct, except the one monstrous illusion that murder is right.” Among the men was one Guy Fawkes who, after serving with other English Catholics in Flanders, was skilled at siege warfare, and how to tunnel safely and accurately. Following his direction, the conspirators began tunneling toward the foundation of Parliament from the cellar of a nearby building.

The rest, as they say, is history, but still worth looking at in detail.

Modern day phraseology would describe Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators as terrorists. There is, however, another view that questions the old, simplistic one. Author Scott Horton notes in Harper’s magazine that, “Today Guy Fawkes is increasingly viewed as the heroic figure prepared to stand against an unjust and oppressive state, as a martyr and a victim of torture.” Dennis Behreandt comments in The New American that, “Until recently, Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators were viewed with scorn as traitors and criminals. But were they really? We should deplore the means they chose to effect their planned revolution, but we should use care in our criticism of them lest we indict ourselves. After all, less than 200 years after Fawkes, men like George Washington, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin did themselves first plot, then carry out, treason against the British king, and their violent revolution brought forth something unprecedented in history: a new nation uniquely conceived in liberty.”

Personally I can’t agree about the ‘conceived in liberty’ bit given the genocide of the American Indian and the condoning of slavery by the Pilgrim Fathers, but that’s beside the point being made here. Others described as terrorists today would consider their actions, as Catesby did, morally justifiable acts of self-defence against oppressive rule. indeed, the situation described by Trevelyan where people “were made to confine their activity and influence to their own estates, by laws which excluded them from any post in national or local government, and even forbade them to travel five miles from their place of residence without licenses signed by neighbouring magistrates” accurately describes the current situation for Palestinians in their own country. I see it as no coincidence then that people in Palestine are reacting in the same way as other “men of great piety, exemplary temperance, mild and chearful demeanour, and punctual attendance upon religious observances”

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This thought-provoking article, an excerpt from 9/11 Synthetic Terror by Webster Griffin Tarpley, discusses the Gunpowder Plot in the context of other state-sponsored terrorist actions, and identifies Guy Fawkes and his co-conspirators as unwitting patsies in a larger, successful conspiracy.

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Related is the film, V for Vendetta, the Wachowski’s screenplay adaptation of the graphic novel written and illustrated by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. Set in a near-future Britain under an oppressive right-wing government, the story centres around a mysterious revolutionary called ‘V’ whose identity is concealed behind a Guy Fawkes mask he permanently wears. V’s reaction to the fascist state is to try to waken the population up to their personal responsibility with a series of high-profile actions. I’m not a fan of the Hollywood film production model, and V has its share of cringe worthy Hollywood aspects. These are more than made up for though with some excellent  and inspired dialogue that is spookily relevant today. Below is an example:

As Moore asked in an interview in The Beat:” …What do you, the reader [of the graphic novel], think about this? Which struck me as a properly anarchist solution. I didn’t want to tell people what to think, I just wanted to tell people to think and consider some of these admittedly extreme little elements, which nevertheless do recur fairly regularly throughout human history.”

v_for_vendetta_copy_copy1

If there is one film you should put on your To See list it’s this one. V for Vendetta has been, to my mind, suspiciously under-marketed. This fits, as I see it, with the subtle moves over the years to distance the real story of the Gunpowder Plot from the public’s consciousness, moves I described at the beginning of this article as PsyOps manoeuvres.

It was for that reason I was initially enjoying seeing the Guy Fawkes mask being used and represented more and more in various political actions worldwide. Until, that is, it became obvious that the image, mask, and concept had been co-opted by more than one faction.  (It’s a digression from this post, but I have explained my thoughts and observations in An Anonymous Tip.)

I know of no reason why the Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.

The New Centre of the Psyclone Blog

This blog has now moved and has taken up residence in the actual Centre of the Psyclone