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The Art of Balance

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Christopher Hitchens RIP and Vaclav Havel too.

'Hitch' as he liked to be known inspired adoration and loathing in seemingly equal measure.  Simon Hoggart in yesterdays Guardian addressed this Janus like aspect of the man.

He was, to put it courteously, a trifle devious with money. When the late Alan Watkins left the New Statesman he helped raise £98 for a leaving present, a fortune in those days. Alan had asked for a copy of Gibbon's Decline and Fall, and was surprised to be given the cheapest edition. Hitchens cheerfully admitted that he had put the rest in his Abbey National account. He liked to organise big lunches and dinners; a hilarious one in Washington was to decide the "Osrics", named after the fawning courtier in Hamlet, which went to the most obsequious political journalist in that town – a closely fought honour, as you might guess. Hitch's technique was to say, "look, you're all busy, why don't you go back to work and leave a blank cheque with me …" I actually fell for that twice.
He loved to attack anything that other people revered. Mother Theresa and Michael Foot enraged him, or so he claimed. He called himself a "contrarian", taking the opposite view to the received wisdom, but I sometimes felt he was more of a "turnip" – a victim of "terrified you're not in the papers" syndrome. He adored publicity – admiration or vilification, it didn't matter. Yet his rejection of Islamofascism and support for Dubya must have taken courage, when you are the darling of the American left, such as it is.
But he could write. Heavens, he could write. He could drink three times as much as anyone else at lunch (four large scotches, followed by a whole bottle of red was typical) then when mere mortals would be in urgent need of a nap, he could produce a dazzling comparison between PG Wodehouse and Raymond Chandler, or a tremendous exegesis of Orwell's later works, or a ferocious assault on Churchill as a war leader. His book God Is Not Great is an astonishing example of sustained and persuasive rhetoric (I suspect his lack of faith was a great source of comfort in the final illness).'

In the same paper on Friday we saw:
Salman Rushdie took to Twitter to mourn the passing of a "beloved friend", writing "A great voice falls silent. A great heart stops." Richard Dawkins said he was "one of the greatest orators of all time", and called him "a polymath, a wit ... and a valiant fighter against all tyrants including imaginary supernatural ones." The former prime minister Tony Blair, who Hitchens bested in a debate over religion at the end of last year, said he was "fearless in the pursuit of truth" and praised his "passion, commitment and brilliance".

Sadly I am unable to forgive any who supported the Bush junta in their despicable Iraqi adventure and consider all involved in the Neo-Liberal imperialist antics of that period to have been guilty by association.  I dream one day we may see Bush and Blair in the dock to answer for their crimes.  That truly would be a great day for Human Rights!  How the dictators and their torturers would shudder in their cells!

Also this mechanistic materialism so energetically espoused by Hitchens, Dawkins, Crick, Diamond et al.  This sense of matter as inertly subject to the whim of evolutionary development.  The haughty dismissal of alternative medicine and all that is spiritual as infantilism.   What a sad bunch of born again atheists they really are.  He was a bit of a toff.  A poor Balliol toff with his donkey jacket in the 60's liberating the poor workers.  A metropolitan toff.  A name dropper.  But a bit of a dude as well.

But Hitch was a colourful and slightly enchanting monster, a great drinking companion and an excellent writer, and I guess in a world of letters that comes to seem ever more bland he'll be sorely missed.
Christopher Hitchens born 13 April 1949; died 15 December 2011

Breaking news today 18th December 2011-   Václav Havel, the dissident playwright who led the Czechoslovakian "velvet revolution" and was one of the fathers of the east European pro-democracy movement that led to the fall of the Berlin wall, has died aged 75.
Reports quoted his assistant, Sabina Dancecova, as saying Havel died at his weekend house on Sunday morning, and the news was announced on Czech television during an interview with the current prime minister, Petr Necas.
Necas called Havel "the symbol of 1989" and said he did "a tremendous job for this country".
Havel's state funeral is likely to draw a crowd of leaders, artists and intellectuals from around the world. Havel was a renowned playwright and essayist who, after the crushing of the Prague spring in 1968, was drawn increasingly into the political struggle against the Czechoslovakian communist dictatorship, which he called Absurdistan. His involvement in the Charter 77 movement for freedom of speech won him admiration around the world.
His commitment to non-violent resistance helped ensure the velvet revolution was bloodless. It also help ensured that the "velvet divorce" three years later, when the country split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, was equally peaceful.
Havel opposed the split and stepped down from his position as president in 1992, rather than oversee the process. However, he stood for the presidency of the Czech Republic early the following year and won. It was a non-executive position but Havel brought to it both moral authority and prestige on the world stage. He stayed in the position, despite bouts of ill health including lung cancer, until 2003.
His role in the east European revolutions of 1989 was second only to Lech Walesa's in Poland. As the twin inspirations of the pro-democracy movement, they were strikingly contrasting figures: Walesa a flamboyant, brash, working-class union agitator; Havel a soft-spoken intellectual from a well-to-do family, who was a reluctant politician.
He was one of a generation who came to political consciousness in the 1960s. Rock stars such as Frank Zappa were among his heroes and late in life he continued to sign his name with a small heart-shaped flourish.
His motto was: "Truth and love must prevail over lies and hate."

I recently interviewed a Czech woman and asked her if Havel was truly as great as he's made out, 'oh yes' she replied ' he was the greatest of men.'


A Sonnet for Whitbarrow Moor.


Soft is the wind on Whitbarrow this day,
As if it’s breath just blesses as it flows,
Follows sheep-tracks to ancient groves
Where the wild orchids and the juniper grows.
That’s where I burned old wounds in fire
And laid me down in arms of sculpted oaks.
As after that midge-ridden solstice rise
At Swindale Stones; it seemed the rising sun
Had pierced me with some wild, transforming touch.
I had to stop my ears up to the screaming
Of the grass, and by the fallen larch,
I sensed the terror of the Over-Soul:
A single, vast, and acute sense of pain.
In spectral mist howling out Thelema!


Ghost Story In Fragmento

It is only now, some twenty years after the event that I can bring myself to record the terrible events of that grim November night. Recently I found myself stranded at Southampton station having missed my last connection to London. I booked into a rather shabby hotel nearby fully intending to depart for London first thing in the morning. I could not have suspected that a late night conversation over a single malt would alter my plans so dramatically.
The owner of the hotel called Three Roods was a rather rough looking chap called Henry Diggins. I could see from his sunken eyes and the burst blood vessels in his face that he had too much of a liking for the drink. He was not the kind of man with whom I would normally engage in any deep conversation. So when he casually mentioned that he had been a pupil at Dauntless College in the nearby village of Romsey I was amazed and it was with genuine surprise that I explained that I too had been a boarder there and we exchanged memories like the survivors of some grisly accident bound together by shared trauma.
Diggins, it transpired was some years younger than I and when he remarked that he was the pupil who had stayed over on the Christmas holidays at the time of the Great Fire I was greatly intrigued to hear his story and he only too keen for the telling of it.

New motto of the Day: Grace Under Pressure

Grace is my favourite word. Grace under pressure is my motto and despite my clumsiness. Only the other day...It doesn’t matter.
There have been some very strange things happening in this neck of the woods of late. Me? I’m a watcher. I see what goes on-it is after all my purpose. It is what I have been trained for. To the untrained eye it might look like ordinary people going about their business but I know better. I have, as I say been trained to see beneath the surface of things.
Dr Chaudhuri is not a watcher. She thinks she is but clearly she is not. In my experience psychiatrists rarely are in fact watchers though clearly they are intelligent people. Very intelligent people or they wouldn’t be psychiatrists though there can be too much emphasis on that cleverness. The intelligence of a watcher is different. We must have endless supplies of patience.

Ramblings from old Notebooks Pt 1V

Dreams ideas and strange thingies

30/12/00: A fragment after watching Luc Besson’s Jean of Arc and lit like the film-dark and brooding. There is a barman-tall, swarthy insolent and arrogant looking. Long hair and a dirty unshaven face. He is completely naked and sports a huge erection and is strutting up and down behind the bar.

15/7/01: The Social Worker-first chapter done////
Reiko & Shinji/ The Questors/ Sea Kayak trip/ Barcelona trip/ Cephalonia trip/

20/9/01: Reading The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy on the train I am struck repeatedly by images of profound horror. The German officer sucking the eyeballs of the revolutionary out of their sockets and leaving them to dangle on their cords and the retelling of it with the blind man saying how he could see his chin and body from another angle which gradually dimmed as the cords and eyeballs shrunk like grapes.

A phrase from Prospect Magazine OCT 2000 “The void of Pre-Birth.” From essay The Eggshell by Paul Broks

Wherever was it that I heard that phrase? I just cannot remember. What was it now? The distribution of sadness as opposed to the distribution of blame.

The stigmata of perfectablility- From a documentary on Dusty Springfied-The trait of artists to always wish for everything to be absolutely perfect.

If I create nothing else but am at least declared to have been a good dad then I will consider my life to have been worthwhile. Lover, friend, husband-these are all important but Dad is best of all.

I do not believe in love at first sight. I believe that to be an error that confuses an immediate sexual or magnetic attraction with what arises from the slow casserole of relationship. Anything else is fast food. Now there isn’t even any time to fall in love.

Speed dating? Because they need time to do what exactly?


A day doodling in the Downs.

I went out for a bike ride on 'Rocky' on Monday. He's like his owner-a bit old and cranky and prone to unexpected breakdowns these days. He needs a lot of tlc and some new parts (again like his owner!). Being from Cumbria and now living in the South East one is continually struck by how, well...flat it all is. CIMG0595 But the rolling hills of the Downs are just a 10 minute ride from the front door and thus I ventured out to do a bit of exploring. It was beautiful and empty. I saw two people the whole day and hit the main path to Ditchling Beacon which is just beautiful gently rising singletrack. On the way I came across the Chattri War Memorial to the fallen in the first world war from India and Pakistan. Quite an amazing thing to see in the middle of nowhere. These were wounded soldiers hospitalised in Brighton who died of their wounds. CIMG0583 CIMG0584 The dome is the actual site where the bodies of the dead were burnt in accordance with their custom. CIMG0589 It was a beautiful silent and meditative space where I enjoyed a cup of steaming minestrone. CIMG0585 CIMG0588 CIMG0587 Heading off towards Ditchling I came across a rather splendidly handsome sheep with an impressive set of horns. She was not entirely happy about being photographed and, I think, suspicious of my motives. CIMG0604 The sense of space was amazing and much needed. I don't do well in cities! CIMG0596CIMG0597 Swinging back through Lower Standean I came upon a little piggery. CIMG0605 CIMG0606 These little beauties are where our bacon butties come from! It's enough to turn you vegetarian. CIMG0598 So there we go. You get out and ride and never know what you might come across.


The Archdruid Report: A Gathering of the Tribe

This is another great post from the Arch Druid of America, John Michael Greer. I think he's right. There is never going to be a wonderful river of cheap renewable energy-not now, that should have been planned for since the early 70's. No the oil and gas are on the way out and as fossil fules run out geopolitical instability will multiply. It's going to be a bug-out, survival future. Get a wood, Yurts and tents, a food and fuel stockpile, some allotment type vegetable production, a filtered water supply, dogs, horses, bicycles, windmills, solar panels and don't forget some weapons. Oh and a spiritual and ritual space. Mmmm...it sounds ok ish!

The Archdruid Report: A Gathering of the Tribe: I walk half a mile through a chill autumn morning to the bleak little cinderblock building that serves the old mill town where I live as a t...


The Dougans hit the recording studio!

The first two verses of Tony's 'The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight' recently chosen as favourite music for the Swiss Euthanasia Clinic. "It just makes you feel like you're making the right choice," said one recently terminated participant.


Saturday Poem: Bodhisattva Girl Binding Blues


The liminal spaces of the dusk and dawn
revealed her naked in her grace and power.
She was revealed to be a pure white swan;
then kissed me like a perfect alien.

That bodhisattva girl! She was the drum that
beat the measures of my fractured heart.
The cracks and fractures of those endless beats
 drained out the dirt from all my darkest dreams.

Precious as health and wise as moonlit woods
down she dove as deep as Langdale Tarn.
By lonely lakes practisingTai-Chi
till watching stars threw down silver spears.

Then they watched her wave her silver strings,
and bind me with them, to a burning wheel.


Fwd: Fw: 2 spaces left on Paint Your Art out

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: delcia Mcneil <delcia.mcneil@virgin.net>
Date: 15 October 2011 12:28
Subject: Fw: 2 spaces left on Paint Your Art out
To: Delcia McNeil <delcia.mcneil@virgin.net>

PAINT YOUR ART OUT!     two spaces left ...
painting by Caroline Steven
Paint Your Art Out workshop March 2011


Dear Everyone


for those of you who have been putting off putting paint to paper, exploring your creativity, or feel blocked in some way, this is to let you know that there are two spaces left on my next Paint Your Art Out workshop day on Sunday 20 November 2011 (10.00am – 4.30pm) in Muswell Hill, North London.


Just imagine having a day in a space with a small group where you feel safe and supported and free to express yourself. And imagine experiencing yourself becoming comfortably relaxed through hearing soothing music and gentle meditative words.  See yourself discovering whole new things about yourself.  Our theme this time is Painting Mandalas.  Mandalas (circular shapes) are symbols of both infinity and containment and provide a wonderful way into self exploration.  You do not need any artistic talent - just a desire to be open, explore, play, discover, develop, heal and learn.



  Recent feedback from participants:

"I liked the friendliness, and I enjoyed the new freedom I felt when I put brush to paper.

"Great fun, great depth"  "Brilliant, accessible and informative ... helped me be freer"

 "It was a spiritual experience for me; it has given me a release and a sense of optimism, wonder, anticipation, energy ..."  "This workshop feeds the soul."



Full details are on the attached flier.


all good wishes,



Delcia McNeil, CQSW, BA(hons), ITEC, DipTH, UKCP

empowering people with integrity
psychotherapy & counselling
dynamic healing
chakra psychology
therapeutic channelling
professional support
therapeutic art
015395 62420
07515 807366


The Archdruid Report: The Peak Oil Initiation

The Archdruid Report: The Peak Oil Initiation: I sometimes wonder what historians of the far future will think as they pore over what’s left of the records of our own time. It’s unlikely ...

October Poem-Anger Ritual in the Field of Dreams


I say: ‘Let’s get this out into the World!’
And you; a little scared, ask how it’s done.
And...with a wild war-cry I charge the bales!
A glinting sword cleaves the morning air!
Massed ranks of shitheads fall apart and flee
into the woods while I, grimly pursue,
slashing back and forth and widow-making
in the hay, and screaming all the while.
Your face breaks into smiles to see man’s rage
revealed without some covering cloak of shame.
And then you shout and charge...yourself in turn!
A swirling sword flailing in your hand
like a true warrior my son! That day
we slew our foes upon the Field of Dreams.


Random Musings

Crowley0025f3160ea7fe6b90fee24128b5d6aa410ImagesImages 1Eldertreemother Adrift! HOW THINGS SNEAK UP ON US. UP A LADDER WHOSE EACH RUNG IS WROUGHT WITH YEARS AND YEARNING AND TEARS, SO THAT WHICH YOU POINTED TO AND SAID (IN A VOICE THAT BROOKED NO OPPOSITION) "THAT NEEDS TO GO IN THE BIN!" was, in fact, the wisdom of all ages. The secret of the universe. The nature of all being.


Fwd: 'A Magical Evening' and lots more.....

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Hi Everyone!

I'm enjoying the summer and hope you are too. I'm very excited about my new Chakra Psychology website that has just gone on line and do encourage you take a look – www.chakrapsychology.co.uk  I was helped by a very special person in my team – Claire Bowen – thanks Claire for your skills and input – I can highly recommend her! (www.silverlanemedia.com).  
On Saturday September 10th I am taking part in a magical evening event at Nab Cottage, Rydal Water in the heart of the Lake District with my story telling friend and colleague Cindy Zudys.  Click here for more details …
I'm also excited about my autumn programme and some upcoming workshops that have been specifically requested by clients. As usual I am running these in both South Lakeland and Muswell Hill, North London.
Are you a woman who is single and would like to be in a relationship, or is in a relationship but really struggling?  Get help with this by coming to one of my Women & Relationships one day workshops … (Click here for more info)
Are you a healer or carer who finds it hard to say no and put your own needs first when you really need to?  Do you get tired and end up feeling resentful? ...(Yes? Click here to find out about my Rescuer Role Workshop)

This is such a common issue - click here to read my widely published article on this important topic.
Are you interested to experience and learn about the truly transformative power of the Chakras?The next Ultimate Chakra Psychology course starts on October 15 in North London and a one day Introduction to Chakra Psychology is in South Lakeland on 25 September …
   Contact Delciaat delcia.mcneil@virgin.net

concessions available for
low waged & seniors

Example of Delcia's Mandala Artwork
"The course has been brilliant for me, Delcia.  Something very powerful has happened as we go up the chakras. It's been a process of coming home to myself."   Suzanne,  psychotherapist
"Delcia's wonderful course opened up the spiritual, philosophical and psychological  aspects of the chakra system in a deep, meaningful way.  I gained profound insight
into personal behaviour patterns." 
Late Autumn is Mandala painting time – in South Lakeland and in North London! The great psychologist C.G. Jung came to realise that the mandala is the centre, the expression of all life and the path of individuation.  My Paint Your Art Out workshops are where we enjoy bringing meditation and painting together, and next time mandalas are our theme!  Read more by clicking the location links below:
London             Cumbria
Are you a healer-type who feels connected to a spiritual source that seems to speak to you?  Want to find out more? 
Click on the location links below to read more about my very down to earth Open to Channelling workshops this autumn:
London                Cumbria

Visit our new website and let us know what you think!

Nab Cottage

... is the venue for our Magical Evening in September! Visit the website for more information about one of The Lake District's most lovely guest houses!

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There the tree rises. Oh pure surpassing!
Oh Orpheus sings! Oh great tree of sound!
And all is silent,
And from this silence arise
New beginnings, intimations, changings.
From the stillness animals throng, out of the clear
Snapping forest of lair and nest;
And thus they are stealthy not from cunning
Not from fear
But to hear.
And in their hearts the howling, the cry,
The stag-call seem too little.
And where before
Was but the rudest shelter to receive these,
A refuge fashioned out of darkest longing
Entered, tremulo, the doorpost aquiver, -
There You have fashioned them a temple for their hearing.

Rainer Marie Rilke


Cycling in the Royal Parks? That's jolly contentious! Post from Cycalogical blog.

TUESDAY, JULY 5, 2011 Royal Parks Cycling Boris Johnson has backed opening up the Royal Parks to more cycling. Caroline Pidgeon (Lib Dem) of the London Assembly Transport Committee has also supported the move. Cycling is a leisure activity. Exactly the kind of thing parks are there for. However, the Royal Parks Agency, rather than taking a sensible view of cycling, seem determined to treat it like the British establishment used to treat homosexuality. They know it exists, they know that banning it is unrealistic, some of them even indulge in it themselves, but they think legitimizing it would get some people very upset. So they talk about it in hushed tones: "A shared-use pedestrian and cycle route trial on Studio Walk is currently being carried out from 2 August 2010 to 31 January 2012, in order to test its suitability as a permanent shared-use route." Oh, for goodness sake. Cycle routes through parks exist up and down the country. There's nothing unique about Kensington Gardens. What are they going to learn from a trial that lasts a year and a half? Yet every new cycle facility in every park seems to require years of planning, consultation and trials. (Mind you, to be fair, the Royal Parks Agency look progressive compared to some UK organizations like the Wimbledon Common Conservators.) Where the Royal Parks Agency really falls down is by failing to question the hegemony of motorised transport in and around the Parks. Why is it that to feel safe from traffic, cyclists have to go through a park? London doesn't have enough green space. That fact is self-evident if you go to St James's Park on any sunny day; it's absolutely solid with people. Yet there's a motorway (The Mall) going through the middle of it. To the south of the Park, Birdcage Walk is a highway with two lanes separated by a wide central reservation. Why can't the space be reconfigured to include a segregated cycle path? To the east of St James's Park, Horse Guards Road is massively wide: plenty of space for a segregated path there. To the north, The Mall is 6 lanes wide in places - surely space for a cycle path there? In fact there is one on the north side, but it's well hidden, weaves in and out of car parks and ends before Admiralty Arch, forcing all cyclists onto the road. The fact is there is plenty of unused roadspace on the periphery of St James's Park that could be converted into decent segregated cycle paths. Then there's Green Park. A reaonable segregated path goes alongside Constitution Hill, but that's the only cycle route that Green Park and St James Park boast between them. You have to ride very carefully along it as tourists tend to stray into it. There's no path parallel to Piccadilly, which has a central reservation that is coincidentally the width of a decent cycle path. The central reservation is punctuated by the sheep-pen crossings that pedestrians hate. I suspect there are quite a few cyclists whose desire line lies along Piccadilly, but don't fancy taking on a multi-lane dual carriageway whose designers had no thought for non-motorised road users. The effect of all this is that the Royal Parks, hemmed in as they are by streets that are absolutely hostile to anyone outside of a motor vehicle, are the only refuge from the danger, noise and pollution. If I were in charge of the Royal Parks, I'd be making the point that the Parks don't exist in isolation from the surrounding environment: the Parks should not be the only decent cycle routes in London, they should be part of a network. That way, cyclists wouldn't have to divert from their desire lines to get away from the traffic danger, and this would relieve pressure on the Parks. Of course, considerate cycling should be allowed in all parks. But as well as that, Boris Johnson should be telling his Tory friends in Westminster to make it possible for people to cycle with confidence on the roads.


The Art of Balance-BODY

This rather wonderful book came into my life when reading the impossibly productive Neil Gaiman's blog. Basically the message is: You exercise 6 days a week, at least two of the days are strength based training, you also need to cycle, ski, swim, run, hike, row etc. Do the time and you can live well into your 70's and 80's. You cut crap out of your diet and eat well. You watch your alcohol intake and you do not smoke. You need a heart rate monitor and you need to exercise in the three heart zones. You make a commitment to your relationships including with yourself. You have a disciplined spiritual and intellectual practice. You have a creative life. I'm also really enjoying Stephen Covey's '8th Habit' on audio at the moment and he spends a lot of time confirming how this physical training works for him. A lot of this is common sense but rarely applied to the training of ontological tantra wizards, spiral poets, necromancers, dragon riders or surfers on the breaking waves of extreme Cabalistic theory. Imagine if Magickal Lodges were run like supercharged companies on the very best principles of integral theory! Imagine if our families followed these principles! And our schools! And our lousy, shit-brained governments! And our dentists! Wow!


Aleister Crowley for President!

[From: Frater Abraxas] Getting high is a basic human right

Frater Abraxas spotted this on the guardian.co.uk site and thought you should see it.

To see this story with its related links on the guardian.co.uk site, go to http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jun/04/getting-high-is-a-human-right

Getting high is a basic human right

Saturday June 4 2011
The Guardian


Peter Wilby well expresses the arguments for why the "war on drugs" has not only failed but actually makes the problems created by drug use worse (Many agree, none act: to ease untold misery, legalise drugs [http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/jun/01/ease-human-misery-legalise-drugs" title="], 2 June). What he doesn't consider is that the "war" is not&nbsp;only wrong in practice, it is wrong in&nbsp;principle.

The right to intoxicate is a fundamental human right, as basic as the rights to worship or to engage in dangerous sports. It's not the state's business to tell us what to do with our leisure as long as we are not hurting others.

Virtually every society throughout history has used intoxicants; there is something truly grotesque about our leaders who on the one hand enjoy their own drinking and smoking, and on the other use the vast revenues they take from taxing these two drugs&nbsp;in order to pursue and imprison those whose taste is for an intoxication different to theirs.

Joe Morison


? While agreeing wholeheartedly with Peter Wilby's piece on the benefits of legalising personal drug use, I must protest against his slur on blind bluesmen. Blind Lemon Jefferson, born blind; Blind Willie Johnson, blinded as a child; Blind Blake, blind at birth; Blind Boy Fuller, blinded as a teenager by accident or disease; Sonny Terry blinded as a teenager; Blind Willie McTell blinded during childhood. No evidence of meths&nbsp;consumption there.

Ed Marshall

Scrooby, Nottinghamshire

? The Home Office's predictable reply to calls for legalisation of the possession of drugs (The drug laws don't work, they just make it worse: campaign calls for reform again [http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/jun/02/drugs-drugspolicy" title="], 2 June) was: "Drugs are illegal because they are harmful ? they destroy lives and cause untold misery to families and communities."

So does alcohol, gambling, and unemployment caused by spending cuts. Drugs are not illegal because they are harmful, they are illegal because no one in the government or opposition has the courage to assess this issue rationally and not from the perspective of the shrieking tabloid press.

Laurence Mann


? The law has failed to stamp out drug abuse: this is given as a reason to legalise it. Should we also decriminalise murder, burglary and rape, all of which persist despite the best efforts of the law?

Various things have been decriminalised since the 1950s. Almost all of them have become more common and more extreme with the removal of both criminal sanctions and social disapproval. In the case of the acceptance of homosexuality, divorce and the general sexual revolution, I'd say that this made us a better society. But would we be a better society if people consumed more drugs?

Most drug users know they are unwanted and have few prospects. Or else they are successful but under enormous pressure to stay at the same impossibly high level. Surely these are the social evils we need to fix.

Gwydion Williams


? Dope is the feedstock and pension fund of the judicial system, which is as dependent on drugs retaining their illicit status as the narco-gangs are for maintaining their business model. Try a reverse prohibition ? a 10-year window without criminal sanction for possession and licensed and taxed production ? to assess the relative merits of crime- or health-led policies.

Gavin Greenwood


? I have multiple sclerosis and have asked my consultant for Sativex on several occasions, only to be denied, or should I say deprived of it (GPs criticise NHS decision to deny MS patients cannabis-based drug [http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/may/30/ms-patients-denied-licensed-cannabis-drug" title="], 31 May)? Doctors have even told to me to keep it quiet that cannabis has helped to relieve my symptoms. I have found that a pattern of attacks two years apart has stopped when I commenced using the drug.

The postcode lottery is so frustrating. I have been told of another patient in the same county as me who has the drug on prescription, but I have been denied.

Name and address supplied



I like to think that mages are readers (Roger Zelazny, anyone?) and the malls are now full of (often bad and derivative) occult fiction (though Simon R. Green and Jim Butcher are very fun!). But right now I am really hooked on Kate Griffin's A Madness of Angels; one reviewer compared it to Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere as a depiction of magical London (high praise!), and I must say it is very wild stuff and very juicy prose and rips right along. The sequel Night Mayor is already out, and the third Neon Court is coming. This has spawned a semi-related series of YouTubes also documenting magical London: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kennh24ACKk Of course there are a lot of other arcane fantasies, Tim Powers has some great work (Last Call is brilliant, and his On Stranger Tides is the basis of the current Pirates of the Caribbean sequal). In the YA category Susan Cooper's Dark Is Rising series was arguably better than Harry Potter in some ways (and hers was first), and F. Paul Wilson's Repairman Jack series is reaching a pulsating climax.... but try A Madness of Angels and see what you think! Anyone else have recommendations? and remember that a lot of this is free at your local library.... ~Shade YouTube - Videos from this email


Fwd: Monbiot.com

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: George Monbiot <news@monbiot.com>
Date: 21 May 2011 08:06
Subject: Monbiot.com
To: heartofbalance@gmail.com


A Real-Time Experiment With Human Lives

Posted: 20 May 2011 01:40 AM PDT

We can now see what the impact of has been of the police decision to turn off Oxfordshire's speed cameras.

By George Monbiot, published on the Guardian's website, 20th May 2011

The experiment is over and the results are in. In April, Thames Valley police switched Oxfordshire's speed cameras back on. They had been off for eight months, as a result of the government's decision to cut the road safety grant. Then the police began assessing the damage. In the 31 days before the cameras were switched off (July 2010), the machines caught 2,286 speeding motorists. In the 30 days after they were switched back on, they caught 5,917.

As many residents of the county complained, between July 2010 and April 2011, Oxfordshire became a racetrack. The effect of the switch-off seems to have been felt far from the camera sites: as soon as motorists received the message that they were unlikely to get caught speeding anywhere in the county, they appear to have felt empowered to drive recklessly everywhere. Or so a more important set of figures might suggest.

In the eight months without cameras, there were 18 deaths on the roads in Oxfordshire, compared to 12 in the same period in the previous year. This was the first time the number of deaths on the county's roads had risen in four years. Serious injuries rose from 160 to 179.

These are not just numbers: they are real people; some dead, some who will have to live with devastating injuries for the rest of their lives. Reading the contents of websites which celebrate excessive speed – pistonheads.com for example – you would think it was just a game: evading the police, vandalising cameras, using clever lawyers to avoid getting fined. It's not. The consequences are real and horrible.

So far, the sample size is too small and the period too short to be sure that the deaths and injuries around the county are linked to the switch-off. The experiment would have to run for longer and be conducted over a wider area. Any volunteers?

Perversely, there are plenty. Undeterred by the results of Oxfordshire's grisly experiment, Staffordshire has now switched off almost half its cameras, for the same reason: a lack of funds, caused by the government's determination to end the mythical construct it calls "the war on the motorist". What it is really doing is allowing speeding motorists to conduct a war against everyone else: cyclists, pedestrians, children on their way to school, other drivers.

Worse still, the destruction of speed cameras by people who describe themselves as vigilantes continues unabated. Sixteen of Lincolnshire's 52 cameras, for example, have been destroyed by vandalism, in many cases by fire. In the Scottish borders, 19 have been burnt out since 2004. These acts are raucously celebrated on the boy racer sites.

Here's what a spokesman for the Lincolnshire Road Safety Partnership had to say about one of these burnings:

"That camera is protecting the standing traffic that mounts up at the A57 roundabout. At certain times of the day the traffic is backed up and people come down the hill at high speed and run on a bit. The idea of the speed camera is to slow them down so they can stop in time for the standing traffic that's ahead of them. And to burn that camera is just crazy – they're putting people's lives at risk by doing this."

So why are people burning cameras? Because journalists and others have promulgated a powerful and dangerous myth: that speed cameras are useless, and exist only to tax the public.

It doesn't matter how often or how comprehensively this myth is disproved. A study for the Department for Transport, involving more rigorous scientific methods than those just deployed by Thames Valley Police, shows that 19% fewer people were killed or seriously injured at accident black spots after speed cameras were introduced, above and beyond the general decline in accidents on the roads.

As for the stealth taxation story, the last figures I've seen, from 2010, suggest that the cameras cost slightly more to run than they make. The Treasury took £85-80m in revenues, with an outlay of £110m a year. This may have changed by now. (Why shouldn't reckless driving be taxed?).

Yet speed cameras are a much cheaper means of preventing speeding than any other. The Department for Transport reports a cost-benefit ratio of 2.7:1. The House of Commons Transport Committee found that "a more cost effective measure for reducing speeds and casualties has yet to be introduced."

But never mind the facts: the tabloid myth is what the people who have been snapped by the cameras want to hear. Instead of being a danger to the public, they are, journalists tell them, innocent victims of a government mugging.

At times the press coverage is so extreme that it amounts to blatant incitement. Here's what Jeremy Clarkson wrote in the Sun in 2007.

"As I drove down the M20 into Kent last Monday, I noticed that most of the speed cameras had been burned out by vandals. This is disgusting. It is ridiculous, criminal and stupid that the person who savaged these life-saving devices should target the M20 … and then stop. Why did you not keep right on going? I can think of six cameras on my way home that would be immeasurably improved with a spot of petrol and a match."

(Source: Jeremy Clarkson, 21st July 2007. Speed cameras have been burned out by vandals. The Sun.)

It looks like good clean fun, as Sarah Palin's placing of a gunsight over the state of Arizona did, until Gabrielle Giffords got shot. Incitement, particularly incitement which supports a false story that people want to hear, can have consequences.

More insidious than Clarkson's have been the efforts of Christopher Booker, who, through a grossly misleading use of statistics, has tried to suggest that speed cameras make the roads more dangerous. Writing in the Telegraph with Richard North in 2007, he maintained that a sharp decline in the death rate on the roads suddenly slowed down in the mid-1990s.

They attributed this to the government's attempt to enforce speed limits with cameras. But they failed to mention that deaths started falling sharply again in 2003, after the number of speed cameras had doubled in three years.

Similarly, they tried to argue that there was no evidence that cameras have reduced deaths even at the spots where they are deployed, on the grounds that the government had failed to account for a statistical effect called regression to the mean. The truth, they maintain, is that "speed cameras actually increased" the rate of accidents. What they failed to tell their readers is that the government had accounted for regression to the mean, and still found an average reduction of 19% for collisions which caused deaths or injuries after speed cameras had been installed.

I was reminded of this over the weekend, by Booker's pathetic attempt to justify yet another of his false claims in the Sunday Telegraph. Uniquely, as far as I can tell, two articles of his have been the subject of a long section of a High Court judgement, which damned his journalism as "unbalanced, inaccurate and just plain wrong."

Like all propaganda that tells people what they want to hear, Booker's false claims are likely to change or reinforce people's behaviour. So are Clarkson's and those of all the other journalists who tell people that they can act as they wish, regardless of their impact on others. The rest of us have a duty to try to correct them.


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The Wood Mouse contemplates Spring

Wood mouse andrew


The Mind...The Mind

Round and Round in it's deep green slime goes the mind...the mind


From 'Black Pearl' Ed James Eshelman

INFINITE POSSIBILITIES by Soror Meral Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law. The universe is made up of infinite possibilities. Each star or khabs chooses for itself certain events and thoughts, and makes up for itself a character or mode of behavior.The process of choice forms a layer of several astral or fine bodies. Finally, the whole complex is formed into a physical body which carries all that has been experienced in recent events of this life and in the past. The events of this life may be fairly easy to access when one probes as to the roots of certain behaviors; but far more difficult is the memory ofpast lives, and the karma that was generated there. No two stars could ever be the same. There are many marks on the final physical body to show how this might be. For instance, fingerprints are never the same; their variety is endless. Few folks realize how different every star is from every other star. Herein lies a great mischief. It may be that a certain earth character has built up what he or she thinks is a very fine code of behavior. This code is made up of what the earth person can see in the experiences of the present life, but fails to see or realize what karma there may be in the ideas that motivate him or her. Of course, the thinking process manufactures certain ideas; but nothing ever manifests unless the power of emotional push brings these ideas into actuality as something worked out on the physical plane. Hence, the code which this person may think is very fme (and which has built his or her character), the person seeks to impose upon others. To the mind of our person, the code of action and behavior has worked fme for him or her, and now must be used to guide the whole earth through compliance with it - because it is so wonderful, and could hardly be improved upon! This is called projection. We have labored long and hard to bring this fact of existence to your minds. One sees other persons through a fog of one's own ideas and behaviors. In the worst type of scenario, the experiences of the one person are imposed upon another, and sometimes on a multitude of folks. Just look at the events in the world around you. Projections are being imposed all the time upon nations, upon church groups, upon individuals - upon any sort of gathering. The one who has the most strength of character (and perhaps charisma) can sway a whole roomful of folks. Sadly, a great many persons are not aware of their own secret inner strengths, and are far from being aware of the particular characteristics of their own star. These folks are slaves to the will of a stronger personality. They are not yet free in the Thelemic sense. They hope to benefit from what is being told to them, and do not yet know that the will of one person sways them to do this or that, or to think this or that. This becomes even more powerful as a form of evil if the person who sways the multitude has built a prison of thought and behavior. In fact, this can be seen all over the world. The prisons are not just in other nations; if you look carefully, you will see they are in our own nation. They are not just in groups of other persons, they are in ourselves!

A lady of Mitylene?

1. 0 crystal Heart! I the Serpent clasp Thee, I drive home mine head into the central core of Thee, 0 God my beloved. 2.Even as on the resounding wind-swept heights of Mitylene some god-like woman casts aside the lyre, and with her locks aflame as an aureole, plunges into the wet heart of the creation, so I, 0 Lord my God!


Forthcoming title from Alan Moore

The Moon and Serpent Bumper Book of Magic by Alan Moore Share Alan Moore’s grimoire due in 2009 (or with the anticipated delays, 2010). Only 2 or 3 years to go… “Splendid news for boys and girls, and guaranteed salvation for humanity! Messrs. Steve and Alan Moore, current proprietors of the celebrated Moon & Serpent Grand Egyptian Theatre of Marvels (sorcery by appointment since circa 150 AD) are presently engaged in producing a clear and practical grimoire of the occult sciences that offers endless necromantic fun for all the family. Exquisitely illuminated by a host of adepts including Kevin O’Neill, Melinda Gebbie, John Coulthart, Jos? Villarrubia and other stellar talents (to be named shortly), this marvelous and unprecedented tome promises to provide all that the reader could conceivably need in order to commence a fulfilling new career as a diabolist.” via Top Shelf Productions


The Mindmap proliferates on the web. This is because it works. See a very good Chuck Frey posting here: http://mindmappingsoftwareblog.com/mmsb/wp-content/mmhp/Mind_Mapping_and_Human_Potential.pdf


The bully boy culture in the Catholic Church-A superb article by a retired priest-Eric Hodgens which I reproduce in full.

From The Age (Melbourne), Wednesday 5 January 2011: 13. Church needs to answer critics, instead it silences them The Catholic hierarchy has lost its way but refuses to discuss it. ERIC HODGENS CATHOLIC Church authorities recently censored an article posted on the popular website CathNews.com. The article, “Reflections on an Ordination Golden Anniversary”, was a reminis cence by a priest after 50 years of ministry. By midday, the link no longer worked. Inquiries revealed that a church “higher up” had prevailed on the CathNews editor to pull the link. As the censorship became public, it became the story. However, the main issue is not the censorship, but rather the view that the pulled article was arguing: that the church’s lead ership has lost its way but is not willing to discuss or even consider that there may be a point. This is precisely the mentality that got them caught in the headlights with the paedophilia crisis. They ignored, even demonised, the victims in order to protect the institution which, in this case, was indefensible. They seem to have an unhealthy institutional firewall against any criticism at all. When will they learn? Meanwhile, loyal Catholics have charged the bishops with compliantly following regressive Vatican policy which they believe is harming the church. It would be disloyal not to criticise. The Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) came to a climax in 1965 with its decree on “The Church in the Modern World”. This recognised the new soci ety that had emerged after World War II. It recognised that the modern secular state is not only here to stay but a very favourable environment for proclaiming the Gospel and, indeed, more in tune with the freedom of the Gospel than a state in which Catholic religion is established. Bishops tend to revert to established religion style when questioned or criticised. Hence the censorship attempt. German sociologist Max Weber taught us a century ago that bureaucracies tend to turn habits into values. Is that what has happened with priestly celibacy, women’s ordination and denying Holy Communion to remarried divorcees? These now burning issues were not issues in the old world. And what about homosexual love, IVF and contraception? Does forbidding them enhance the values taught by Jesus or simply stick to old rules out of habit? A vast number of loyal Catholics say it is time for review. “A vast crowd of priests and laity are alarmed at the bully culture of Rome.” A vast crowd of priests and laity who passionately love the Church are alarmed at the fundamentalism pervading the mentality of the Roman bur eaucracy and many bishops. They are alarmed at the bully culture of Rome — which surfaces in turn in the management style of so many bishops — and at the favoured status given to authoritarian move ments including Opus Dei, the Legionaries of Christ (now discredited and under reconstruction) and the Heralds of the Gospel. And they are alarmed at having a new and unsatisfact ory translation of the liturgy about to be foisted on them due to power politics at the top. This last confrontation may well backfire. Many priests are simply not going to introduce the new translation. They say that if the Anglican newcomers and the Latin Mass groups can keep their liturgy and language, so can they. Getting people to change their minds is always hard. Jesus had difficulty getting his message accepted. Maybe it is time for today’s church leaders to listen to the voices and reconsider. They might just be converted. Maybe there is no need to kill the story. The censored article can be found at tinyurl.com/2fu2n7c Eric Hodgens was ordained a Catholic priest in 1960 and retired in 2007.


Survivors Network of those abused by Priests-SNAP

This network(SNAP)has recently come to my attention via some comments on a previous blog posting and may be a support source for anyone abused at the hands of Catholic priests.


Downhill bike race in Chile is insanity at its finest!

heartofbalance@gmail.com has shared an article with you.


FOCUS & GROW! Spring newsletter

This is the spring newsletter from Delcia McNeil, a wise and rather wonderful healer, psychotherapist and visionary artist. I strongly recommend her workshops both in London and the beautiful Lake District.