2010 Kaua’i Trip: 2

by Richard Grossinger on August 12, 2010

Undines are denizens of the Astral realm but, being water, they can shape-shift into any motif they choose.  They ramble all over the Etheric too, and they likewise can step down further, take on physical form, and become human, though they never lose their undine quality.  When undines flow into human shape, they retain undine values and belief systems.  Any personality container for their energy is more or less incidental and carried by affect rather than sincerity.  Becoming physical, they seem to take on male or female personae, but they are merely play-acting at traits and motives, under social pressure and by mimesis.  That is, they cultivate human behavior but not based on human phenomenology.

Bill plans his next book to be a series of biographies and photographs of human undines.

Elemental energy has no morality, no contrition, no sympathy for the human plight.  It just wants to be, to frolic and flow, forever.

Undines don’t empathize; they are empathy.  They have no conscience, no purpose or meaning.  They do not ask the question, what they are here for—it is meaningless to them; they are just here and have always been here and will always be here.

They extend unlimited love but do not love individually or commit to partnership.  What is exclusivity of love or marriage to an elemental?

Undine women, though telepathic and sensual and often exotically beautiful, do not want to get trapped in bonding or partnering.  Their wave nature wants to flow.  Undine disinterest in commitment frustrates men who fall in love with mermaids who have taken on human form.

Do not become infatuated with a mermaid or, if you do, understand who she is!  Her flow is not personal; it is water, elemental liquid.

The human race will not always be here.  Undines are aware of that situation and they are in regular communication with those who will follow us.  They see our mischief and coming demise, so do not take our imperious reign on their planet all that seriously.

Our successors feel about the same in regard to our sojourn.

Undines have tails, yes, but—a key point usually misunderstood—not in their physical state.  In their physical state they look like other women (or men).  When they appear with tails, your hand will pass right through them (fishermen who encounter mermaids don’t always report that detail).  If you are a fish, you need a tail more than feet, even in the Astral.

When I presented Bill with Robert Sardello’s criticism that he is mainly interested in what we can get from nature rather than what we can give back or co-create with her, he responded that his is a magical system as per Bardon, a flagrant body-snatching walk-in; it is not an ethical or moral system.

The elementals as a group (including gnomes, sylphs, faeries, salamanders, etc.) have no qualms or any notion of what responsibility is.  They simply attract, as a magnet attracts loose metal.  If you approach them without a goal or a plan, they will suck you in and use you for whatever momentarily engages them.  They will turn you into them.  In that sense, they are very, very dangerous beings and it is foolhardy to invoke them and ask what they want of you because they will let you know in spades and then bind you into their service.  You have to approach them with a definite agenda and let them know right away what you require of them.

Many humans have become possessed or hexed by elementals without even realizing it because they treated them as rational beings with a scintilla of decency, fairness, and compassion.

In addition, some spiritual teachers, Bill continued, pick up a version of the same sort of elemental magnetic energy.  They don’t consider whether their practice (their Buddhism, their ritual magic, their aikido, their yoga, their asceticism, their guru-dom) is a good match—one size suits all—for someone else’s vibration.  They don’t engage in psychological or psychic transference or real transmission.  They simply attract, proselytize, entrap people in their system and personality; they are psychic magnets.

July 16 (Day 5)

There is a pernicious tendency on “vacation” to think that you have to keep doing lots of investigative or sightseeing things in order to justify the various investments, financial and logistical, in the experience.  This morning I woke up with that urgency at red alert, but I caught it at the bud and got underneath it.   Then I experienced the lovely base-level quiet of just being here.

It rained.  It rained early.  There were several storms—the first one a downpour from a luminous gray sky near dawn, playing percussion on the roof, followed by sunrise.  Then the cumuli piled up, and it rained again, a soft watering-can, droplets fluttering in the wind.  It rained and sunned three times before nine o’clock and then the day turned humid and mega-bright.

Being here in Kaua’i entails a dream-deep psychosomatic shift that I can feel without name or language, a transfer and transformation of energies at subcellular levels such that the subtle modulation encompassing me is re-toning my mind-body frequency.  I find myself reaching for beneath the bottoms of dreams and wanting to crawl in there and sink into forgotten sleeps inside sleep.  At moments I feel an ease of old tangles and core anxieties, not altogether, not even very much of them, but enough, perhaps just a suggestion of the way in which they would release if they did.

It always surprises me how uncomfortable it is to let go of something that itself is so painful that it hurts at some level all the time.  The act of letting go initially hurts more than the thing, which is why one rarely is drawn to the ordeal of letting go.

The osteopathic formula generally holds true—I go toward the pain, into the torque, feel worse, much worse; then a release comes.  Waves of anxiety swell and pass like a giant cloud dissipating in the sun.  I feel momentum going in the softer direction, even during the pain, even as pain.  This also has a homeopathic moniker: healing crisis.

Today it matches and is met by the morning rain.  It integrates the subtle vibration of this island in a way that seems intuitively right to me though impossible to confirm or make tangible.  And, again, it’s not that the tangle goes away; it’s that I feel it differently and experience its meaning and possibility in a new, hopeful way.  If possible, its grip is stronger and yet lighter at the same time.  It is stronger because I feel just how strong it really was, and it is lighter for the same reason.

Doing nothing is great.  Finding sleep anew at odd moments is great.

Lindy herself slept late and said she had amazing dreams.  Then she worked for the entire morning, so I went on three early walks and a noon one, and, in between, I lay in hypnagogic catnaps, all the time aware that I was trying to find or land in something elusive, something profound and receptive that I had lost somewhere along the way but was given access to again by being here.

Externally I explored the immediate neighborhood first—the adjacent condo apartments.  Its parking area had some rickety and loose steps leading down to our side of the turtles’ cove with an “at your own risk” sign.  I held the railing tightly in the rain, stepping over a hanging-loose initial stair.  As I reached bottom, I saw crabs instantly scurrying in their fashion over different-sized rocks and balls of black lava like a choreographed wind-up display until all motion stopped and no crabs were visible.

Returning to the street, I walked around several blocks.  I saw bumperstickers (mostly Obama liberal, anarchist, or save Koloa, save Kaua’i); papaya, banana, coconut, palm, and kakui trees; flags, flowers, beach rental units, plus the random activities of Turtle Cove: badminton, someone selling a car on a porch to an elderly couple, a gigantic dead toad on the road, the reflection of lavender flowers and blue sky in a puddle, giant butterflies, tropical birds in flight.  I felt periodic warm rain in gentle breezes.

At moments ordinary habitats reminded me of Hopis in Tuba City or movies of middle class native Polynesia or New Zealand.

All of this accumulated in a gentle aesthetic, like eloquent poetry or a didgeridoo concert.  In fact, certain repetitive bird sounds were reminiscent of the opening bars of a familiar didgeridoo piece.

On my second walk I went in the same direction in a larger loop and passed two beaches noted for snorkeling and surfing.  The surf was high, the light bright, and there was too much energy for me to absorb—more than I could receive without feeling too dense and small.  I sat in the rocks along the first beach, which was totally empty of players at this early hour.  I watched the action in slurps of surf that came up over the first tier of rocks and oozed into tidepools.  I stood just beyond the Pacific’s demise, though occasionally got splashed.  I noted fish, snails, crabs, but mostly the underlying pattern of sea around rocks.

The black lava on the beach looks as though its pieces could just be lifted up and removed.  Yet even small ones poking through the sand are attached to the mantle of the Earth.  They are not separate stones; it is one big lava flow.

The second and larger beach, Lawa’i, was already full of wetsuits, surfboards, and snorkelers, at which I stared as if a travelogue of Hawai’i.

On my third walk, I headed back up the road toward the market and took out my iPod and earbuds.  I was delighted that the angel who oversees such divinations immediately provided “Hawaii” by the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, a song that I don’t remember ever coming up before out of 2200 or so on my shuffle.  It made me chuckle.  Probably a coincidence, but a compelling one in a universe too big to map….  Probably not a coincidence….

Each of my three short walks was like a myth cycle comprising tension, apprehension, discomfort or stiffness of some sort, and then a release.  That’s why I got into doing them.  I could not have tolerated a second day like yesterday, laboring to achieve a high-profile tourist venue.  And I would not have gotten this level of depth.  So I kept walking and returning while Lindy worked at her laptop.

For my fourth walk I decided to try to get to where the turtles were.  The cove is their station; they come early with the tide and depart in late afternoon.  There were six or seven today, the largest number yet.  They are huge, yet they just float.  When their heads come above water, it is especially beautiful, as though geological ages are rushing past as we are the mere briefest of visitors to a cosmic event.

I undertook this outing a bit in frustration because I couldn’t interest Lindy yet in doing something more with the day.  At her suggestion (and to buy time) I was working myself into an irritable state by trying on the cottage’s snorkel equipment—a rigmarole with mask and tube in the mouth.  It seemed too overwrought and acquisitive of experience compared where I was.  I didn’t want to get motion-sick again, especially since I was carrying the last swim and the hairpins to Waimea Canyon in me.  Their aftermaths were creating a light latent nausea with a capacity for spaciousness and depth, a promising neural range and mindset.

It turned out to be a mistake to aggravate that mood by washing mouthpieces and trying to get them between my teeth.  I had lost a fragile equanimity and was experiencing vexed feedback loops.  That’s when I figured I’d try to visit the turtles as a way to snap myself out of it.

I knew that it was selfish and willful to bug the reptiles, especially for a narcissistic reason, as an antidote to irk and aggravation.  They are content doing what they are doing on their primeval turtle clocks, and they don’t need to be interrupted by a human amusing himself on human time.  Yet I also had a childish and vain disposition that they would understand my admiration of them and good intentions.

Ridiculous!  I have observed countless tourists bugging the turtles over several days now, and I have been quite pissed at all of them, even the sweet father and daughter who swam down the lagoon this morning in snorkels and dislodged the beasts by trying to say hello to them and then swimming with them as if it were “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”

Then there was the matter of getting to the other side of the cove.  A few days ago I tried the feat of climbing down vertical hillside through the foliage to reach the water.  I did make it to the bottom of the slope without serious mishap, but I ended up much too far into the freshwater for turtles.  Then my maneuvering to get back toward the saltwater left me with wet sneakers, relieved that I didn’t stumble and splash altogether.

During the prior two days, though, I had seen dozens of tourists on the rocks beside the turtles, including ladies in high heels with drinks in wine glasses and elderly couples with cameras.  I know they didn’t scamper down the hillside.

The answer turned out to be to follow the road along the cove to the boat landing—a ten-minute walk from our cottage—then to go down to the water and work myself back on the lava rocks into the freshwater stream by hopping from stone to stone.

While not a stroll in the park, it was only slightly more challenging than hopscotch.  It had been foolhardy not to explore the topography and just to charge down the hill.

Up close the turtles look older, more alien, and less friendly than from afar.  Their expressions are beyond diffident, but I wouldn’t call them either aggravated or serene, though they have qualities of both.  What they carry is not a human emotion; it is a mix of imperiousness, dignity, profundity, ferocity, wisdom.  I don’t mean that they are smart in a human sense, nor do I want to inflate them in anthropomorphic terms.  But they are massively intelligent.  Their wisdom is the wisdom of their species, their longevity and their acquaintance on a daily basis with the sea and its mysteries.

Their heads are like shaman masks, their eyes reading the cosmos at their own frequency of cognition.  The leathery necks and their movements of them suggest a model for E.T.

The sea turtles were not out of water long enough for me to tell if all of their splotches and bumps were their own tissues or attached crustaceans and other biology, but these beasts were as marked and hieroglyphic as Melville’s whales.  Their breath as they surfaced, raising their crania out of the water, was guttural and rude.  It had an audible hiss that sounded like rough industrial steam or Darth Vader.  It reminded me of their cousins the snakes.

I engaged with three turtles, and each had a distinct look and personality.  The largest was the most diffident and imperious.  It registered my presence slowly, unafraid, and responded finally by floating off such that I never saw the impulse to move and be gone.  A perfect t’ai chi ch’uan yield.

Its almost-as-large partner was never fully beached, so it gracefully propelled away with a light flip.

Further into the cove, a smaller, striped turtle tolerated my closer presence and allowed me to flatter myself with camaraderie as I edged right above it and knelt down to stare face to face.  No amount of psychic attunement in the Etheric or Astral, either along the usual frequency or off to the right side of the plane (where animal consciousness purportedly resides) gained me anything more than a sarcastic gaze.  Perhaps the animal remotely intuited what I was trying to do and viewed my shifts with disdain that I was attempting to intrude in its range.  Kind of like, “As if they weren’t bad enough doing their own stuff, and this one flatters himself that he can actually vibrate with us.  Ha!   Ha!   Ha!”

I reached down twice and touched its shell.  I was surprised at its lightness and aliveness, a bit like a drum.  At that gesture it sank a bit and seemed to levitate away, another perfect martial move, out of the handbook of “needle at sea bottom” or, more accurately “rollback left.”

The touch had been a discourteous imperialistic gesture on my part.

After a while, around 2:30, Lindy concluded that she had worked enough on her piece (spiritual activism for a Sufi chivalry anthology) that she was willing to try something else on the day.  We debated about experimenting with the snorkel equipment at the nearby beaches with rockier reefs, and concluded that neither of us was particularly drawn to the logistics or the activity, and it was getting quite blowy by then.  The wind was coming in great long gusts, calming, and then puffing hard again.  That reinforced our reticence, Lindy’s from concern about lack of swimming skill and mine from predispositions to vertigo.  So we selected the other option: Maha’ulepu, better known as Shipwreck Beach.

Ellias had recommended the place where Luminara and the children had gone while we visited; he called it the best beach on the south side of Kaua’i.  In fact, after their visit I had set out to find it but had given up a little way down a dirt road.  It was too late in the afternoon to be in that remote an area, and I wasn’t sure that the car could handle the surface.  The beach was far more inaccessible than I had presumed.

The journey to Shipwreck involves a series of abrupt transitions.  Going into this outing, I knew about the first few from my earlier foray: the road to Po’ipu Beach runs along a shopping center merging into a residential neighborhood.  Then, past the beach, the real estate gets increasingly more luxurious with top-of-the-line condos, a Hyatt complex, and a self-proclaimed pro golf course.  After the course, you drop, it seems, off the edge of the planet or at least of gentrified Po’ipu.  Virtually nothing out there is chaperoned.  Lava cliffs face the foreground, but the distance to them is imponderable.  The road degrades from pavement to dirt.  Smooth initially, the dirt becomes washboard and accordioned such that the car bumps freely from shoulder to shoulder.  On either side are long fields to the horizon, mixed agriculture, a dump site, and mines, but even the agriculture looks untended and experimental, as if someone set a field out to grow and would be back in a few months to check it.

Then the road deteriorates further to potholes, some of them fucking unbelievable, as though the car might get stuck for good in one if you were going too slow.  And it is impossible to gain any speed without feeling as though you might rip a wheel off.  I used low gear on the automatic and maintained something like two miles an hour—it was still jarring.

After a while, the surface got even worse, as it alternated between potholes and cragginess, as if three-dimensional barcodes of rock had been imprinted into the road.  All this time, the surrounding landscape grew more untended and barren.  We were tempted at several junctures to turn around, but even a U-turn looked difficult to negotiate.

The road we were on dead-ended into other roads twice with some uncertainty as to which way to turn, and we made ninety-degree guesses onto feeder trails.  Though there weren’t any follow-up markers after the first dirt road, the way to the beach was self-evident.  We passed beachy SUVs and jeeps and later-model cars coming in the other direction, a tight fit which consigned one to the right side of the road at half a mile an hour.  At the rockiest section, I rolled down my window and called to a passing SUV as to how far the beach was.  A jovial native Hawaiian teenager smiled back, “Not far.”

Lindy shouted past me, “We don’t have four-wheel drive.”

He responded kindly, “You don’t need four-wheel drive.  Mahalo.”

The whole trip from Po’ipu Beach to Maha’ulepu probably wasn’t three miles, but it took about twenty-five minutes.  Following Ellias’ directions, we passed through two gates, then we skipped the main parking lot and followed a narrow road out of it.  When we reached the beach proper, the activity in situ looked surprisingly normal for the remoteness: people cooking, tents for camping, eight or ten other cars.

Shipwreck was in truth a beautiful beach; it provided a zen moment, something like, ‘You really are in Hawai’i now.’  A wide-open vista of Pacific jumped the senses.  Fine sand alternated with rocky sections.  Faraway one could see different inlets in which surf was exploding.  By now the sky was a rich blue, sailing classic cumuli.  The breeze was sharp but warm.

Maha’ulepu was healing.  Everything muddled and vexed in me seemed to clear at once and gradually in the surf.  We stood there for about ten minutes, feeling the variation of the waves and getting the senses doused by water.

Strange as this might seem, a lot of old garbage swirled up to our spot: burnt wood, bottle caps, worn plastic, and a coat hanger, and yet it somehow didn’t seem to diminish the purity or overall healing capacity of the Pacific.  It was more just outrageous and sad and left a deep regret for how mindlessly (and maybe not so mindlessly) destructive my species’ habitation of this planet is, how dismissive its treatment of the goddess, how blind to the delicate matrix from which we were alchemized.

“Entitlement” is the operative word.  Epidemic narcissism.  Sociopathy.  I know it is impossible to stop this crud under the present rules of engagement.  What are you going to say to a billion Chinese and East Indians?  Nothing.  What about the hordes of Westerners and Japanese on vacation with beers and sunscreen?

It will come to its denouement eventually.

Then the feeling of the sea created such a sense of bigness that the entire evolution of life and consciousness fell into a vast perspective of compassion, acceptance, and neutrality.

Redemptive though the spot was, it made sense to get out of the eddy that was cycling and clearing junk.

We moved about two hundred feet down the beach, away from the main populace and a little past a rocky section, and there we found fresh sand and continued our bath in the surf.

I always get a lot out of just lying at the edge of the ocean.  I did it for hours at a time as a child on Long Island before the adults started sending me to those fascist Zionist boys’ camps.  I have returned to the sea, looking for that delight and wonder when possible ever since.

Until this moment Po’ipu no ocean was ever as warm and inviting as my natal Atlantic of the late forties, so I lapsed into Proustian mode.

I remembered our cottage on Beech Street, the time I got lost when my mother sent me two blocks back to get our Nanny after my brother’s baby carriage was stuck deep in the sand.  I walked past our house because the hedges had been trimmed that day and I didn’t recognize it.  By the time a construction worker found me crying and then drove me around the neighborhood to look for my home, my mother had a collection of policemen on the porch and was hysterical.  She wanted the man arrested.  But it was her error to begin with: I was only three and a half.  I can still remember the progression of feelings as I became aware that I didn’t know where I was.  I was still young enough that I switched into a cosmic sorrow rather than fear.

I remembered too the nearby house with the large lawn in which Uncle Nook and Aunt Alice lived, with Uncle Moe their occasional guest.  It was a splendid and magical place.  They always produced a round pitcher of pink lemonade and had the ballgame on.

More than sixty years later, I understand the script.  That friendly abode wasn’t where they really lived; it was a rental cottage too.  Nook and Alice were not relatives but my stepfather Bob’s college friends, and Moe was Alice’s brother.

My stepfather, Bob Towers, had just married my mother after running off with her and getting her pregnant.  She was still married to my father at the time of her affair leading to my brother.  Twenty-three years later she would similarly leave Bob for Moe Kornhauser; yet she only stayed with the wealthy recluse and supposed confirmed bachelor for somewhat more than a year before moving back in with Bob.  Soon thereafter, she committed suicide by jumping out her living-room window.  She was officially still married to Moe, so she died as Martha Kornhauser.  My brother, who was in a mental hospital at the time, got out after her death; he would become a street person on a vision quest for three decades until he too committed suicide, with a knife, thirty years and two months later.

The bittersweet imprints of these memories—our sensuous days at Long Beach with their unprobed malignancies and obscure romances imbedded such that they played as a dark fairy-tale in the mind of a child—left a mysterious and poignant residue of untold profundity and texture, impenetrable in its riddles and enigmas, omens and bottomless melancholy.

My own kids are now full-grown adults, busy in their professional and domestic lives, for this was so long ago as almost not to be of this epoch.  Even our times at the beach in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, with our baby son Robin in the early seventies are themselves an eternity ago—forty years.  Robin has a son older than he was then.

I scattered my brother’s ashes in the Atlantic in June of 2005.

In the Pacific at Kaua’i, it all feels present, immediate, charged with active energy.  That is why I like feeding myself to the procession of waves.  The more of it I feel now, the more I embrace and embody its grief in the irrepressible joy of sheer existence that overcomes loss and sorrow.  The ocean holds that capacity for me; it can rescue and redeem memory; it can find my lost bodies and primal hopes and desires and raise them into possibility again.

For growing up in Denver, Lindy is less familiar with the sea.  Despite our years in Maine and trips to L.A., this was possibly the first time she ever joined me sitting in the surf and receiving the waves.  Amazed at how she got pushed around, she could not suppress a childlike delight.  Though she didn’t want to stay in the water long, that one gesture of hers made our coming to Hawai’i a blessing.

Ocean water is of course a great healing medium, grounding and alkalizing (as David Wolfe reminded us).  Being in such a vast cradle, rocked invisibly and mysteriously by the unassuming half-moon, playing possum up there among the sunny clouds, is as simple and pleasurable as it is unconditional and absolute.  We don’t understand gravity, but it is omnipresent from the imperceptibly tiny to the imperceptibly huge; it rules every moment, every molecule and every cell.

We returned to Spouting Horn for sunset and saw some truly monumental geysers, the water hanging in the air before reappearing on the rock as if by magic.

Friday night.  Our upstairs neighbors are gone, but it’s getting noisy in a frat-row sort of way.  I learn later that an adolescent Southern California crew has hit the neighboring condo for the weekend; they turn up the music and smoke on their deck.  These actions invade our space.  Po’ipu might not have been the greatest choice, after all, during a weekend in Kaua’i.  Luckily they export their growing party elsewhere.

Our one dinner out was budget-breaking, so we are cooking our vegetables and sweet potatoes, eating the avocados and papayas, etc., from Hanapepe.  Yes, there are enticing restaurants in the vicinity, but we might as well not waste the ample stock we already have from the farmers’ market.

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July 17 (Day 6)

After a while, you just are someplace; everything isn’t gaga and new.  In fact, the earnest enthusiasms of my previous days’ epistles seem a bit artificial and over-revved now.

We went on a walk in the neighborhood in the morning and discovered some overlooked little beaches and beachfronts just a block or two from our cottage: narrow passageways in between luxury houses ($7000 a week rentals as announced by fliers in boxes outside).  Each alley led to a patch on the ocean, rocky or sandy and, by law, public-access.  We explored a couple of those such that, after a while, we saw the ocean peeking, glinting, and exploding everywhere.  I came away with a sense, incremental and cumulative over time, of the original global sea, omniscient and vast.  This is different from an intellectual knowledge and sequential viewing of the same phenomenon—a series of snapshots and ritual ebulliences.  It is more a deep absorption and collective internalization of the many views and scapes of waves and big surf, sky and clouds and horizon.  The deeper, subliminal image taking root has elements that are indigenous and archetypal, imposing a sense of Captain Cook Land, Mark Twain’s Sandwich Islands, old royal Hawaii, or even islets in the ocean of creation itself.

I realize now that I actually had to see Hawai’i to get beyond a cartoon cliché of hula kitsch.  That’s overstated, but it reflects a guilty truth.

What else on our walk? The distinctive style of local houses, not every single one but as a predilection toward a style—low and flat and square, thatch buildings made perchance of plaster and wood, elaborate peaked roofs that squat over the whole building like too big a miter, curling up very slightly at the perimeters with an elegant lilt, turning an ordinary bungalow into a small temple or shrine—a vague intimation of Pacific Northwest plank houses.  I have heard that the local law decrees that nothing can be constructed that is taller than a palm tree; I have also heard that the hoteliers get around it by greasing the palms of legislators so that the first floor doesn’t count.

Continuous sunshowers, ‘liquid sunshine’ proclaimed as a greeting by strangers on the road.  Maybe seven different weather systems whipped through by noon, ranging from hard rain to oven sun.

Our last stop on the walk was the cove across from our cottage.  Three diving schools were conducting lessons at the landing, so we had to thread ourselves among oblivious and piqued students and their teachers in order to reach the rocks and get a look at our porch from the other side of the inlet.

I had been there; Lindy hadn’t.  She chose to meditate on the sight and not hop on the lower-lying rocks to the turtle hangout, but I wanted another visit with the totem beings.

The big old guy was parked underwater in an indentation next to the shore, taking in the sun through the aqua.  He was placid today, indifferent enough that I was able to lie down on my belly on the rocks and eye him through the transparency.

I got a real sense of his presence.  His body was radically covered with barnacles and parasitic DNA like tattoos or badges of initiation marking his dominant elder status.

I had a strong desire to clean him.  What I thought was his strange agog left eye was actually a shell attached where his eye-socket was and completely covering any organ of sight.  I wished I had the training or gumption to remove the shell, but then I wasn’t sure there would even be an eye under there anymore or that he wasn’t at truce with the barnacle.  I didn’t want to interfere with a being so old and of such high rank, and I also didn’t want to get summarily bitten.

Once, he brought his mask and reptilian neck above the water, to take a quick husky breath, perhaps to deign notice of me, then return to siesta.

We spent the whole middle chunk of the day (five hours, counting driving time) visiting Ellias, Luminara, and the Lonsdale tribe at their home up the mountainside in Wailua.  Getting there, we lost the way.  The official mileage was under twenty but, as was becoming typical for Kaua’i, it took over an hour.  The main source of our confusion arose from three distinctly different streets beginning with the letters “Puu.”  On the mainland, that spelling would have been a gimme, but here it was orthographic commonality (I later remember that the street of our condo also begins with “Puu”).  Of course, all it ever takes is one wrong choice for all of the subsequent directions in a sequence not only to be rendered useless but to lead one into a maze of compounded errors that becomes hard to wind back out of.  We finally got to Puupilo and followed it to the house at the end.

Before we got lost on roads outside Wailua, we did manage to stop at ‘Opaeka’a Falls.  The moment was particularly rainy in a sunshowery day, and we stood in a warm downpour, staring over the ravine at the stately feng shui of descending water against jagged lava peaks—delicate silver on black.  Rain was traveling in a stiff wind across the canyon, adding emphasis to the elemental appearance.  It was a perfect moment to seek undines.  When I tried to change my frequency to the Astral while looking at the waterfall, I had a remote inkling of a laughing water gnome, akin to Istiphul or Amue.  But I wasn’t in an advanced enough state of practice or a sacredness deep enough for the queen to allow more than the quickest, wave-particle glimpse of her royal self.

The four Lonsdale children struck me again as visitors from an emerald realm or a distant galaxy.  They are enchanted as elves and yet as earnest and straightforward as monks.  Though Savitrie still didn’t voice any of her fabled French or Chinese when we were there, we were assured once again that she did so periodically, with an impeccable accent.  Despite the fact this was her cranky day she had a disconcertingly knowing twinkle in her eye.  Kalky hugged us and the other company repeatedly as he circled the patio, and then he, Allie, and Rafael engaged Lindy in a complicated game involving races, climbing trees, tumbling, dancing, and group embracing.

Their company was another couple who were invited to drop by while we were there, countercultural friends of Ellias and Luminara from just down the hillside.  Curtis McCosco is big soft man with a Queequeg visage who floated like a cloud or friendly ghost, a Mayan-culture expert/one-time Yucatan explorer/adjunct Hollywood technician on Kaua’I, before that a San Francisco digger who took his sixties calling East during the seventies to run a food project in Boston.  He had been on Kaua’i for twenty-one straight years and rarely left the island for the mainland.

His partner was KatRama, older than Curtis and as chiseled and tight a little wire as he was a cloud raccoon.  If he was a tropical snowman, she was a candelabra.  Long ago, as a child, she and her family escaped the holocaust by a back route, fleeing Germany by way of Shanghai and then, as the Japanese invaded China, La Paz, Bolivia.  This multiple escape across childhood was emblazoned in her otherwise unflagging joy, giving it a brittle spunk and buoyancy.  Now the couple conducts spiritual weddings with astrological readings on Kaua’i.

Oddly they met Ellias and Luminara because Curtis receives review copies of books from our press and happened to get the 2012 book written by Ellias’ disciple Mark Borax.  He doesn’t particularly fancy astrology, so he passed that one on to KatRama, the astrologer of the two of them.  She was so taken with it that she wanted to contact Ellias at once.  She called the number listed in Santa Cruz and got a voicemail saying “Aloha, I am in Hawai’i,” and giving the number there.  Only when she rang it did she discover that he was on Kaua’i, living three blocks from her sister in Princeville.  He has moved much closer to them since.

Curtis and KatRama shared the second half our time at the Lonsdales, during which our conversations ran along metaphysical, nostalgic, and New Age gossip tracks, re-evoking in particular the Summer of Love, but also a lot of 2012 stuff, Curtis’ particular long-time forte.  He had tried to make a documentary film of the Maya and their calendar as far back the seventies and now was a major 2012 blogger.

Ellias said that apocalyptic ideas interested him a lot, not because he believed in them but because he was taken with their energy.  He was speaking particularly of various recent “end of the world” scenarios based on the oil spill and methane exploding in the Gulf.

The conversation meandered through the esoteric nature of families, the karma of adult children, Kaua’iana, astrology, and the fake Intelligent Design crowd that uses 2012 as a Christian Fundamentalist trope.  The children, insofar as they participated, took it quite seriously and even supplied some free-association thoughts.  It was play, but on some level it was real for them.  The tone and the subliminal message, if not the transitory meanings, clearly touched their beings.

Curtis and Ellias were both in San Francisco during the summer of ’67, and they agreed that it was rightly named, not out of romantic or sexual love, though those too, yes, but actual love—love emanating from the universe.

“I came out from college at Binghamton to see what was happening,” Ellias recalled, “and it was like nothing I had ever imagined.  People were actually practicing love, loving one another.  What a thing!”

“I thought it was going to change the whole planet,” Curtis went on.  “I was wrong, but I was so young and naïve.”

“It did change the planet,” I offered, “but as a seed.  It is now everywhere, but the plants haven’t yet grown.”

“They called us ‘flower children,'” Ellias added, “but we were actually seed children.  It wasn’t flower time yet.  It was only planting time.”  He laughed at the notion.

We missed the whole thing,” I mused.  “Back then we were in a totally different context and frame of mind, stuck on the Hopi reservation, trying to do anthropology.  It wasn’t the summer of love there.  It was something far more cosmological and ominous, but part of the same larger vibration.  After all, what unfolds in decades for us subtends centuries and millennia of Hopi time.  And they reflected that end of the scale.”

“What was wrong with our assessment,” Ellias glossed onto that, meaning ‘as different from the Hopi,’ “was that we each thought that we were the center of the universe.  We each had such a powerful vision we thought it was the vision.  Whenever two of us got together, it was a kind of a battle to see who was God.  That ended eventually, as it had to.  I was a slave to my emotions then.  Since that time, I have learned to live from wisdom, from what I have learned, because without wisdom, you just react, you go in circles.  You believe whatever you believe, as though it is also real.  When you and I met in Vermont in ’75, I was just a bundle of ideas and emotions.  I had to learn to become the thing I was studying, and that took years.”

He spoke again, as at our earlier meeting, of his children as spirits rather than egos.  “I know their beings far more than I know their personalities.  In fact, I hardly know their personalities.  But that’s because I don’t read them only on an emotional level.”

As we departed, the children pranced around, hugging us goodbye again and again.  When I explained the origin of our Island Motors white clunker, Curtis remarked, “I love Joel, but I would never rent a car from him, ever.”

Tonight we resisted the temptation to go to the 12th Annual Sunset Ho’olaule’a at the Sheraton Kaua’i across the cove.  Instead we sat on the porch for a couple of hours, sampling warm breezes off the Pacific, watching clouds move and stars appear (Scorpio the proximal constellation).  We could see the turtles swimming before it got dark.

Then Planet Earth was marked by the lights of night divers, as we listened to their calls and splashes—flashlights over the rocks and phosphor glows in the sea.

A stream of car and bus lights headed to the free concert, as sounds of the bands wafted in the wind over the water or were blunted to the point of silence by the same wind, its thrashy miked rock not very enticing, yet oddly appealing as an intermittent buffeted note in the general night mix.

The mélée of the sounds made a pleasant John Cage adagio in the theater of Pacific astronomy, the wind the dominant and consummate instrument providing delectable sensations as well as myriad drums against trees and the cottage.  The darkness was penetrated with different degrees and kinds of light, moving and still—above, in, and across the water.  It was pleasant enough to sit there forever, thinking one’s own thoughts.  The breeze never stopped its entertainment, and that was finally more on our wavelength than it would have been to have driven into the rumpus across the cove.

It became a pathway to luminous, esoteric dreams.

As the hour turned late, sirens filled the air, alongside the music, as all of the ten or so officers rumored to police this island must have gone into action.  Earlier in the evening five of them had a roadblock outside of Po’ipu for breathalyzer tests.  We were waved through.

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July 18 (Day 7)

Last day in the south.  Sunday.  We went down the nearest alley and sat in a patch of ocean between two super-condos.  Public access was almost totally camouflaged there, but you might as well hide cake wrapped in a napkin from ants.  Several other people were on this small but exquisite sandy beach.  It rained on and off, even with the sun out.

Lying in the tide never loses its charm or sensuousness.  One of the supreme pleasures here is ten or fifteen minutes in the cool ocean, then a hot outdoor shower to wash off the sand.

In the afternoon we tried the shopping centers—Old Town Koala and then Po’ipu Village—expensive and tinselly—but Lindy likes to walk the stores at least once every place we go.

We were suddenly immersed in tourist Hawai’i.  Po’ipu Village could have been in Fort Lauderdale or Monterey, except that everything carried an air-cargo surcharge.  Crazy to buy something that was just flown in and then fly it back out, but that’s the human footprint in these paradoxical times.

Perhaps the most interesting moment, other than watching teenyboppers try on surfing gear, was inspecting the old barber’s chair and toilet in the open-air Koala Museum, little more than a flea market with a museum sign.

Fourteen turtles in the cove.  Definitely a record.  The previous high was seven.  I guess it was Turtle Sunday.  Five giant ones lay side by side, their shells drying in the sun.  They lazed around, swam, beached again.  One got caught between rocks and was flailing away with all four legs, making a distressing scratching sound, and I was going to rush down and save it (it would have taken me ten minutes to get to where it was), but Lindy convinced me it could handle the situation.  It wasn’t easy to watch it struggle nor was it in any way elegant how it extracted itself, but it did, and, projection or not on my part, I think it was happy to be swimming again as it bobbed up and down, water-dancing in celebration.

I spent a lot of the day watching the turtles and writing.  I was still absorbing vestigial car and ocean motion-sickness, slowed down and suffused with the relics and reflections of a lifetime.  I savored them in a light malaise—what Sartre perhaps meant by “nausea,” the world blending with the vestigial self and its vague ambitions.

Most things about my life I recognize happening to other people, more or less.  One thing I don’t is the way I get totally overwhelmed and spooked by sheer energy and situations—nothing in particular, at least nothing that can be tied to a discrete event that explains or legitimizes the feeling), just the sheer alien-ness and impossibility of life in this strange creation.

We are all of the same psyche and genome, so I suspect that this state is not as idiosyncratic as it seems, though I usually feel as though I am the only one in its purgatory and everyone else circulating around me is more or less of the world and hunky-dory.

A place can be wonderful and still too much.  There were plenty of moments on this Sunday when I preferred to be back home.  My internal life sends unexpected curves through each day, no matter where I am, and against an exotic backdrop, it sometimes can be hard to process self and landscape together.  The basic conflict is more profound and excruciating because the surreal landscape adds a soporific, dreamlike overlay.

It is a slight degree of undifferentiated anguish or disorientation, experienced silently while carrying on life as if normal, in the parody of shopping centers or merely interrogating the existentiality of objects in sunlight.  At once, it is a challenge and really an extraordinary thing, but so is its potential for rebirth.

This has always happened, at some level or other, even in childhood before I had a name for it and it was just “that feeling.”

I have to ride it through, even if it paralyzes or terrifies me.  On the other side of it, I tend to be refreshed, my perspective shifted, a different person.  There’s apparently no way else for me to shift except through the active core.  So the engagement with the shadow is a net gain.  It reminds me of an old homily: “He was ultimately on the side of the angels, but his way of getting there was enough to make the angels weep.”

Kaua’i has a distinct latent energy, and some of what I am encountering is the vibration of that broadcast.  On some level I feel as though I am receiving a high frequency, both disturbing and healing, joyful and desolate, and it alone is more than my consciousness can assimilate.  I process what I can, enough gradually to come out of my funk.

That is mainly what I have been working on today, using the tools and initiations I have accumulated over a lifetime—psychological, Buddhist, psychic, somatoemotional, yogic, imaginal.  All Sunday I am in survival mode.

What else?  Doing the laundry in the condo’s rusty coin-op machines.  Plotting out meals to finish up the last of the vegetables and other fare.  Striking up a conversation with the Hawaiian gent around the corner about his life up to the moment, then my life, the mainland, his bonzai trees.  It’s always good to get unisolated.  Humans feed off the energetic filaments of connection, even when they’re vague or superficial.

Watching the lizards on the porch.  Tracking the complicated bird calls (they get into your head like catchy tunes).  Trying to wake up all day.  Struggling with nebulous uneasiness: the noise, the heat, the brightness, bursts of wind, cars, leaf blowers in condo-land, constant tourist energy, imposed fun, all the land’s contradictions and anomalies.  In fact, I met the man watering his lawn because the operation of a leaf-blower right alongside our cottage was giving me a splitting headache, both physical and epistemological, and I went for a walk.

Our author William Mistele flew over from Oahu for an evening visit and chat— first, our eggplant-squash-papaya-spinach dinner, then a walk to the moonlit ocean.   His book Undines came out this month; it is a treatise on elemental water in nature and human personalities, the basic mermaid.

Bill talked about tracking down undines among men and women, mostly women, and interviewing them—human mermaids and mermen.  He was collecting their back stories and past lives in other bodies.  He considered the undine a previously undiscovered psychological type, missed by Jungians as well as Freudians.

I asked him why just water elementals, and he said because the other elements (earth, air, fire) are fully expressed and present in the contemporary world, but the water element with its timelessness, empathy, and neutrality has been pretty much lost.  Fire and electricity dominate the planet and its casino-capitalist culture, so water—the spectrum of undine and mermaid vibrations—is needed to balance it.

Bill is a quirky, mellow, story-telling dude, a notch younger than us.  What was most fascinating was his own autobio.  He was born and raised in a super-prominent, wealthy (and evangelical) Detroit family whose fortune was based on the conversion of the key twentieth-century elemental—the salamander: oil and gas (“Everywhere I looked in Detroit during my childhood I saw trucks with my name ‘Mistele’ on the side”).  His parents socialized with the Fords and Kresges.  He raced sailboats in his youth, was brought up to be the family lawyer or financier, at least to excel in conventional terms. His mother, for instance, pulled off a triple major, geology, economics, and meteorology, at Michigan, plus she had many later accomplishments—she was even present when the Wright Brothers tested their plane.  Bill feels that he has spent his life fleeing and honoring his past.  He has been in Oahu since 1982, married a Chinese lady, his empress and queen in previous lifetimes, he says, and he raised his kids there.

He has both a highly educated and a completely funky air, so it was as though I was being addressed on Berkeley’s Telegraph Avenue by a professor of philosophy and a gabby street person in one solicitation.

Over the years Bill has trained himself esoterically, first in Hopi shamanism (he learned the Hopi language, something I tried and failed to do in graduate school in 1967); then he mastered Franz Bardon’s system of magic.  A legendary Czech psychic and evoker of elementals, Bardon, according to Bill, chose explicitly to be born at a particular time and place, after World War I, to help confused and aimless humanity, to teach dissatisfied souls who felt they had been robbed of their divine birthrights.  To accomplish that mission, he walked out of the aether into some kid’s body, inherited his karma because that’s the way cosmic law works:  You take a body, you owe that body’s karma.  He taught his magic system from within the karma of the “stolen” body (he made other arrangements for the kid), so all the bad things—chain-smoking, illness, imprisonment—that were going to happen to that body happened to him.  But at least he got his teaching done.  Again, that’s the story.

Just another back story on a day of back stories and fairy tales: undine back stories, Bill’s life narratives and his past lives of mermaids, my own lingering shadows.  Such stories are not about whether they are real or make-believe; their point is only to be heard and experienced and to reveal things that wouldn’t be otherwise known.

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July 19 (Day 8)

This being our last morning in the South, I decided first thing to go into the water.  Bathing suit, towel…stroll down the street, narrow alley…beach.  The little stretch of ocean on Hoona Street is a gem; a rocky breakwater catches and dampens the waves, turning the last two hundred feet into almost a wading pool.  One can still watch the explosion of ocean on the rocks beyond.

How big a medicine the combination of light, waves, sound, and elemental energy is I didn’t realize (or need to realize) in my childhood.  I just drank it in with bottomless attention and capacity.  Now each oceanic encounter seems sacred, requiring modulation, care, restraint, or I leave myself too open and get more than I can ingest.  That is why lying in the waves is an internalizing practice more than a joyride.  That’s also why it’s good to think about mermaids, inside personality and outside in nature.

Bill came by at nine for an hour-plus of more undine talk; a few things stand out:

Before Bill left, he shook hands with me outside our cottage and solemnly passed on a transmission.  It rang true and also startled me for how clearly he was seeing Lindy and me.  He had an internal picture of our meeting and the forces at work.  Beneath our surface propriety and intellects, he said that he saw the many different fires burning in both of us and wished us godspeed in containing them.

It’s always a gift to have a teacher open truth lines behind the face of the world.

The subsequent transition to Noniland was a major one because it entailed geography, climate, and culture.  We went from the beach to the hills, from more sun and heat to more clouds and rain, but mainly from the American recreational manor with its industrial and commercial hubbub to the communal world with its silence, wind chimes, and prayers.

When we arrived, Nick Good was conducting a group circle for the dozen or so people working the farm, making the superfood products.  They were discussing productivity and work schedules and how to put their spiritual practices into the business.  They broke briefly to say hello and greet us, as we gradually got our stuff up to the second floor.

There has been a remarkable eight-minute-or-so alternation of rain and sun here such that it is baking hot and then the clouds burst in a downpour—sun then deluge, sun then deluge.  I was lying on the grass in the delectable heat when the first one hit.  I decided to continue to lie there.  I could see sunny sky off to either side, but thick cumuli were welling up and darkening above me.  Their droplets were so fat that I followed them out of the distance from the sky.

Making the panorama all the more complex, bees from the Noniland hives swarmed among the droplets, as though taking a bath too.

The sound of the rain on the tropical leaves was like a thin hollow drum or an awning—each leaf a distinct frequency.  In less than a minute I was soaked.  Someone up on the lanai commented afterward that they wondered how long it would be before I moved.  I said that I was mainly worried that Lindy would call for me to come in out of the rain.  “You can take care of yourself,” she snapped.

“It’s good ormus,” added one of the young guys, meaning good orgone: alkalinity, ions, electrical neutrality.  Ormus is a psychic alchemical element—technically (and metaphorically) monatomic white-gold nanoparticles or metals in an altered atomic state.

At Noniland there are great bananas everywhere.  Fresh out of bunches off trees and hung on the lanai, they have a sharper, more lemony taste than store-bought ones and are not quite so mushy sweet.  Most of you know that.  In fact, I did too, but I experienced these anew with beginner’s mind.

If all the books floating around in piles and pods in this house were assembled into an organized library, it would be a strange amalgam of conspiracy theory, tree houses, earth houses, radical architecture, sacred architecture, raw food, longevity, tribes, peak performance, and occult sci-fi.  I spent twenty minutes on a couch with David Icke’s recent book, illustrated luxuriantly in Disney color by Neil Hague.  It is basically the story (or myth or paranoid fantasy or what-have-you) of the captivity of the human soul and body-mind by a reptilian conspiracy embedded on the Moon in another dimension.  In fact, the Moon is asserted to be an artificial alien object, both a portal to elsewhere and a control center for the Earth.  Everything down here is ruled by the reptilian brain, which keeps humankind on a sensory download such that people are manipulated and separated from the truth and real energy of the greater universe.

This cosmology brings together the Illuminati, Bob Frissell’s Luciferian conspiracy, the Martians, Robert Anton Wilson’s Cosmic Trigger, the Trilateral Commission, the Rothschilds, the “Zionist Main Frame,” the UN, the Bilderberg Club, the Neo-cons, the so-called Demo-cons (updated to include Obama with a cartoon of the same puppet strings attached to him as to Bush), the tenth planet Nibiru, the war in heaven, the creation of the asteroid belt, the simultaneous rupturing of higher human consciousness, etc.  As a story, it is a mishmash, indulgently crazy and fake.  Then Hague’s illustrations are like some Satanic Alex Grey on ayahuasca cum Rube Goldberg, but they lay it out in Gothic splendor.  As a trope for the present state of things, it’s brilliant, innocent, and ecstatic: like our daughter declared of Bob Frissell once: nothing he says is true, but it’s exactly how things are.

When I asked people here about the book, I learned that Icke used to be a European football star and then he started doing this stuff a few years ago.  Though I’m not sure anyone takes him at face value, he is a Noniland icon, and the single copy of the book is well-beat-up, in prominent display on the lanai.

Community papaya salad, manna bread, and goat cheese—an afternoon repast.

This is a tree house too in a way.  The shower is set up high, looking out on trees and garden, so the sense is of bathing in a glade.

A girl downstairs is training the Hawaiian fire dance….

Lindy and I hiked up to the top-of-the-world meadow among the cattle and then walked a third of the way through the high grass to the nearby sacred hill.  It still resembles a castle in the Astral.

Trying to cook organic spinach pasta and organic tomato sauce at a raw-food place is not only embarrassing but a challenge.  No can-opener.  Finally Trevor stabbed the can successfully with a knife.

Raw pumpkin pie made by Magic.  Pau d’arco mint vanilla leaf tea.  The energy level picked up after dinner.  Of course, everyone is much younger than us, but people are people and we talked in to the dark with a candle, great Avocado stories, shared histories and pasts.

There was a white owl circling, and the waxing moon in the trees added to the enchantment.

One very sweet young girl with long braids and a strong, wise face named Layla is staying at Noniland because she was robbed of all her belongings while hiking on the island (there is a new epidemic here of meth-head crooks).  Giving her account on the lanai, she was astonishingly forgiving of them, alive in her practice of extending compassion and love toward the perpetrators, also toward the callous police whose attitude, she described, as pretty much: “So the little girl got careless and lost her backpack and cell phone; what do you want us to do?”

She seems completely clear in her heart and head, no spiritual bypassing or New Age acting.  She says that things were meant to happen this way because, if she hadn’t gotten robbed, she wouldn’t have ended up in Noniland; she wouldn’t have made all these new friends.

For a long while Lindy and I sat separately with Nick Good on the lanai, debriefing his view of Avocado’s whole scene as well as his own spiritual journey.  I realized, as I listened to him, that Avocado is this high-energy combo of imp, satyr, boy-child, shaman, healer, jock, one-time Iranian royalty (before the fall of the Shah).  With the raw-man not present, we got to see him through the other people’s eyes.  His reality arises in the distance, and he is more here for not being here.

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