On the night of January 8, 2012, under the full moon, the wolf moon, I walked The Kabbalistic Tree of Olympia and was pleasantly surprised that nobody else was using it. Accidental Initiations: In the Kabbalistic Tree of Olympia is set to be released on the spring equinox (March 20th) after which I doubt I’ll have this artifact all to myself for much longer, especially when the moon is full between sundown and midnight on the west coast (prime viewing times.) As much as I may regret this later on, it feels like the time is right for sharing this powerful magickal item at the center of our town.
A.I. is necessarily incomplete (since I am still learning about The Tree myself) which is why I began this sequel blog; to continue sharing my explorations with those who are interested in following my footsteps as a jumping off point for their own excursions into The Tree. This piece should be a chapter in the book, but it’s not, because Accidental Initiations ends where this sequel begins, and because magick only works if you are willing and able to trust it.
As I walked The Tree this month I received several insights which may be of value to my fellow seekers. Here they are…
1. The Value of Offerings
Just walking The Tree is an offering of your time and energy, and it is enough, but on special occasions, such as a full moon, the solstice, the equinox, or even a particularly difficult or important day, I like to make additional offerings to the individual sephiroth of The Tree. For this month’s full moon walk I took ten one dollar coins (gold in color) which have been on my altar for over a year. The coins were given to me by a longtime friend with whom I am not currently as close as I once was. In this regard, the coins symbolize more than just material abundance. They also symbolize friendship and tribal affinity.
As I walked The Tree, I placed one of these coins at each of the sephiroth, mostly hidden from view, but not so well hidden that some other traveler or person in need couldn’t happen upon them and put their fortuitous find to good use.
I placed the first coin in the cleft of the tree at the base of The Tree, like a key. The second coin was hidden on the Statue of Yesod. The third and fourth coins, I lay upon the circles of Hod and Netzach. The fifth coin was placed in the Tiphareth Gazebo, and was gone by the time I made my way back down. The sixth and seventh coins were placed, similarly to the third and fourth, on the earthen circles of Geburah and Chesed. I put the eighth coin under the grate in the Binah Swirl, the ninth coin in the brush in front of The Kether Seat, and the tenth coin I hurled into the abyss of Daath from the top of The Chokmah Mound. With each subsequent placement of my offering, I sensed and/or imagined the value of the remaining coins increasing.
At the bottom of The Tree I retrieved the key coin from the cleft of the tree and held it in my left hand for the rest of my walk, thinking of how best to put it to use. I had several ideas.
The first was to give the fateful coin to the one audience member whose question is chosen at the upcoming Sync Book event in New York City on January 31st, where I will be presenting a Radio8Ball Show with several of the Sync Book authors. This seemed to be the best artistic idea until a paranoid sync arose
I was being followed by a stoic (I know it’s a cliche’ but there is no other way to describe him) Native American man from the Geburah side of the park. I didn’t know if he meant me harm, or if he was inspired by my devotional attitude, or if he simply had to walk my way. I decided, after our paths crossed for the third time, that if he confronted me, I would offer him the coin and tell him where it came from. Once I made this decision, I didn’t see him again.
In the end, just as I was returning home I saw a ragged looking youth, picking up trash from the gutter and throwing it in the garbage outside of my apartment. This simple act of conscientious neighborliness inspired me and I called to him. When I held the coin out to him, at first he said, “No thanks,” but when I told him I was carrying it for him, he stopped walking away. He seemed to recognize that I wasn’t giving change to a beggar. This was a different kind of offering.
“Thank you, brother,” he said with big clear eyes, gave me a hug, and walked off into the streets.
Now the coin is somewhere out there in Olympia, making magick and good fortune for all who touch it.
This is the value of offerings.
2. The Value of Intentions
Intentions are present whether we state them explicitly or not. If we consciously walk The Tree we do so for a reason. This reason may be obscure to us, or it may be obvious. We may think we are doing it for one reason when in fact our true agenda is unknown to us. I have general intentions which are always present and specific intentions which are more timely. For example, the success of Radio8Ball is always an intention of mine while this week I was particularly focused on the January 31st event in New York City with Alan Abbadessa-Green, Douglas Bolles, Jen Palmer, Kevin Halcott, Kyle Hunt, Rammer Martinez, Peg Carter, Christopher Myers and Rogan Marshall. I’ll be hosting R8B and performing the music. My colleagues will be bringing a smorgasbord of syncsploration. And it’s all going to be filmed so it will be syncing long after I’m back in my Tree.
When I consciously lay my intentions out, as I did for the full moon walk, I usually try and come up with an intention for each chakrik energy center. Here is what I had for the 8th:
1st chakra – Root/Material – The success of my projects (R8B, The Sync Event, Accidental Initiations) leading to greater financial abundance and more freedom of action for me, and a brighter more inspired future for life and consciousness on planet Earth. I also sought to understand and resolve an issue at work that was troubling me.
2nd chakra – Sacral/Creativity – Draw the moon out from behind the clouds and receive a vision.
3rd chakra – Solar Plexus/Will Power – Bless the land with my practice and be blessed by it.
4th chakra – Heart/Compassion –Bless the people of the land with my practice and be united with my tribe.
5th chakra – Throat/Communication – Find the proper words to communicate my vision in art that inspires fellow seekers.
6th chakra – Third Eye/Psychic – Dissolve time and join with the timeless masters in an ecstatic dance of complete mind/body/spirit communion.
7th chakra – The Crown/Spituality – Open up to receive as much light as possible for the good of all.
I know this all sounds hippie as shit, if you read it with that in mind, which is why I suggest reading it with music playing. These are divine fucking intentions. They’re dirty and crude and feisty, but they’re not stupid or dark or adolescent. These are the intentions of an artist.
If you know what you want, then you know who you are.
This is the value of intentions.
3. The Value of Music
It will be a surprise to no one familiar with Radio8Ball that I almost always walk or run The Tree listening to music on shuffle; accessing sync via The Pop Oracle. Music’s inherent order; rhythm and melody, imbued with the artist’s lyrical vision, sings delicious paradox and tunes me to a divine order of things. It fills me with energy, propels me forward, and occupies my active monkey mind.
Here are some highlights from 01/08/12 Radio8Ball Show in The Tree of Olympia.
Try reading and playing Song A, then skipping to read the next section, and returning to this appreciation, to check in as each song ends. That is, if you enjoy reading and listening to music at the same time.
A: The first song to come up was Fountains Of Wayne’s “I-95” from their 2007 CD Traffic and Weather. Since a specific intention of my walk was the success of the New York Sync event on the 31st, and Fountains Of Wayne are from NYC, and the song is about the freeway I will be taking to get there from Boston, it felt appropriate. I’ll be taking a bus with my Mom and her boyfriend. Best dress warm and plan for traffic.
B: At the statue of Yesod, through the circle of Hod, Harry Nilsson’s song “Bath” from his 1968 album Aerial Ballet, came up with the optimistic refrain “I’m beginning to think there’s hope for the human race.” I was born in 1968 and, in order to reach the statue, one must descend into the park, as if into a bath.
C: As I reached the lake and headed south toward The Binah Swirl, AC/DC’s “Hell’s Bells” from their 1980 album Back In Black began to play. Scary, right? Not really. The Tree is a representation of everything; the dark and the light in balance. Getting tripped out and reactive to dark imagery is the same as getting obsessed with it. I took this song as a test of my faith and fortitude. There is a Buddhist parable about a seeker who encounters a dragon and, rather than running away from it, or trying to do battle with it, he throws himself into its mouth. The dragon is immediately transformed into the Buddha and the seeker achieves enlightenment. Likewise, I allowed the force of the music to fill me up, and I moved on up The Tree.
D: While crossing the bridge of Daath, Veda Hille’s song “Ace of The Nazarene” from her 2008 release This Riot Life began to play. Just like not getting too scared of “Hell’s Bells”, I didn’t want to get too Jesus trippy on this song, although it was tempting to do so. One of my nicknames is Ace, and Olympia is my Nazareth. Veda is a 1968 Leo, like me, and I’ve always felt brotherly feelings toward her. In this regard she is not only my Princess Leia, but also my Daath Veda. Listen for Ford Pier’s Townshend-esque Han(d) Solo blaster riffs on guitar.
E: At the Kether Seat, a run of Rilo Kiley and Jenny Lewis songs began with “Always” from the 2001’s CD Take-Offs And Landings.
followed by “Silver Lining” from Rilo Kiley’s 2007 CD Under The Blacklight (during which song the moon made her first appearance)
and finally “Happy” from the Jenny Lewis and The Watson Twins CD Rabbit Fur Coat her acoustic acid record from 2006, by which time I had reached the second Daath crossing.
Scott Taylor told me that Jenny Lewis is the granddaughter of Al Lewis, although I haven’t been able to verify this online. Having quite a few unverifiable relatives myself, I am choosing to enjoy believing Scott until it’s proven that Jenny Lewis is not Al Lewis’ granddaughter.
Al Lewis is most famous for having played the role of Grandpa Munster on The Munsters TV show in the 60’s. I only ever got interested in or impressed with him after I heard his radio show on WBAI in New York during the 90’s and early aughts. He was an ornery and insightful old curmudgeon who wasn’t afraid to speak difficult truths. Think borscht belt Studs Terkel.
Since I consider the second Daath crossing the grandpa spot, this felt very appropriate.
F: As I approached the Chokmah Mound Robert Plant and Alison Krauss began to sing the dirge-like “Polly Come Home” from their 2008 Raising Sand CD
and just as I reached the top of the mound and jumped up on the stone bench to cast my last coin into the abyss, “God Only Knows” by The Beach Boys began playing. This song which many, myself included, consider to be a perfect song/performance/recording was also the perfect song for the moment and simply opened me up, as well as the heavens.
G: While re-entering the lower realms by way of the bottleneck alleyway leading to the park, Tom Waits’ “Tango ‘Til They’re Sore” began to play. I used to host a Tom Waits Cocktail Club at the Bottleneck Lounge in Seattle. They fired me the day after my last big full moonwalk in The Tree, which led to my writing Accidental Initiations.
This song lent an urban edge to my descent, making it feel quite appropriate to lean against a dumpster and relieve myself. On the top of the dumpster was a dirty blue and yellow birdhouse that was so bright it in the moonlight it looked like something from an outtake of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
H: After several more hours of walking and syncing in the wolf moon light, the last song to play before I left The Tree was Prince’s “Willing and Able” from his 1991 CD Diamonds & Pearls, a song which syncs really well with all of my intentions.
Walking The Tree and being open to its magick is an act of willingness. Also Prince, the most able of rock stars, had recently come to the area to perform a show in Tacoma on December 19th. I had intended to go but instead got sick with a flu, which led me to begin a marijuana fast (as explored from Sobriety Is A Gateway Drug on in A.I.2) Prince, is a mercurial master of the musical arts. He embodies the complete musician. He resonates with my youth and with my own old lion battles for artistry in the face of boring corporate hegemony. And the song, well, it’s all about wealth. Recognizing your diamonds and pearls, and being willing and able to play them like an instrument that’s like a lover that’s like a god in a card game in the symbol’s mind.
“Watch me do my thing.”
This is the value of music.
4. The Value of Madness
The park where The Tree can be found is a magnet for “crazy” people. You might even think I’m one of them. If so, I’m one of the crazies who holds it together enough that I seem sane while deconstructing reality and putting it back together in my own image. Others are not so lucky.
There is a guy who regularly stations himself at the opening of the path from Tiphareth to Netzach, represented in the tarot as the path of Death, where he does some kind of frantic and furious martial art which is full of passion and entirely lacking in grace. He grunts and stomps his feet and lashes out at nothing I can see. People generally give him a wide berth. Since he’s usually right in the middle of the path, I have to pass him several times to complete my circuit. I think I pass by him closer than most. I don’t nod acknowledgement for fear of upsetting him, but I do send my heart in his direction as a blessing through my fear.
Earlier in the day, before walking The Tree in the moonlight, I did my usual rituals, which includes running The Tree a bit more robotically, though still with similar overall intention.
On the afternoon of the 8th he was at his spot. No surprise about that, but when I returned to The Tree under the full moon several hours later, just as I reached the Tiphareth Gazebo he rushed out to his spot and began his violent ghost fighting. For a moment I was frightened and then I realized that he was my ally, really The Tree’s ally, supporting me by challenging any demons which might threaten my good work.
As I put the coin down in the center of the gazebo I dropped it instead of placing it, so that he might hear, in the hope that he would be the one to collect it.
By the time I had navigated the circle of Geburah and arrived at Emma Page’s fountain, he was gone, and with him, some of my preconceived notions about reality.
This is the value of madness.
5. The Value of The Center
Before I descend into the park I notice two figures silhouetted in the Tiphareth Gazebo, lying on their backs, with only their knees visible. It was a sweet, romantic image, and I felt blessed by it and by them.
There was a time before I knew The Tree, before I accidentally initiated myself into consciousness of it, when I was one of those lovers, simply enjoying the energy of the place and the woman I was sharing it with. As I approached the central structure of The Tree which they occupied I blessed the fuck out of them.
Before I reached them, as I was leaving the circle of Hod, they got up and headed north into town. I saw that they were just kids, probably no older than sixteen, maybe younger. My heart pumped an extra beat. I wrote my book with the kids of Olympia in mind, so that we might have something more sacred than bad music, beer, and reactionary politics to unite us. They didn’t know it but I was doing it all for them, and whatever they were doing made me happy, as long as they kept it to themselves.
Meeting in the center is the best place, even if, and sometimes especially because, you don’t actually meet.
Every sephiroth of The Tree is connected to Tiphareth, the heart. Likewise, every aspect of our life, if we are in balance, runs through the heart. Feeling angry? Run it through your heart and it will come out less jagged. Feeling sad? Run it through the heart and it will feel less hopeless. Feeling horny? Run it through the heart and it will come out less desperate. Feeling scared? Run it through your heart and it will come out wrapped in courage. The value of the center is that it is always here.
Whether you have an external Tree to run or not, as long as you live, your heart is beating a welcome.
This is the value of the center.
6. The Value of Fire
Fire is my nature, which makes it a mystery to me.
The night before my full moon walk I got severely, and I think unjustly, reamed at my job. I felt set up to fail, misunderstood by my co-workers and my boss, and attacked by one colleague who I have only ever intended to support. My natural reaction to this kind of thing has always been to rage internally, and sometimes externally. In Accidental Initiations I write about an unjust situation in my life and it’s the longest chapter in my book.
Through much practice in and out of The Tree I have learned that my fiery nature is to be tended but rarely indulged. This keeps me from indulging it about half the time, which constitutes a major evolution. When I do indulge it, I try to do so consciously, like a warrior, not a worrier.
On this particular night I chose to welcome the injustices in my life as a focusing fuel. Whether I agreed with my mistreatment at the hands of others was unimportant. There was a lesson here which I hoped would be revealed by the time I got back down from my moonlight ramble. Like a good soldier, mine was not to question why but die and die and die and die and keep on going. For truth and poetry.
This is the value of fire.
7. The Value of Water
The night was cold but this didn’t keep me from splashing the waters of Emma Page’s fountain at The Circle of Chesed all over my face and neck and over my head, slicking back my mane. I slurped it up and spit it out and shook it off, like a thoughtless happy beast. With this final ritual in the nestling discomfort of the lower two thirds of The Tree I felt an exhilarating release. The world behind me fell away. The world before me opened up.
This is all I can tell you about the value of water.
8. The Value of Reflections
As “Hell’s Bells” began, I thought of my bar, where they play “Highway To Hell” on a regular basis, and a difficult truth emerged.
I heard the words of my boss, “You say that bartending is an honorable profession but I don’t think so.” and “We’re not sure if you even really are a bartender.”
I heard the words of my bar manager, “You’re like a used car salesman. You see people as dollar signs. Just stop screaming and doing jumping jacks and banging your mixing tin on the bar. It makes people uncomfortable.”
I heard the words of my co-worker, “Fuck you. If you pull this shit again I will mess you up. I don’t….(what she thought I had accused her of.)”
I knew they were wrong about me but they weren’t wrong. This is how they saw me. This is how many people must see me. A fake, a hyper-active huckster, and a conniving bastard who speaks of honor as a way of avoiding something. The very fact that this is the exact opposite of my intention and experience is revealing. That kind of polarity suggests balance, alignment, super-charged polarity.
Something welled up in me then. Something akin to love. These people were my temporary family. I could use their reflection. How they saw me told me something about them, yes, but what did it tell me about myself? How I saw them seeing me? For better or worse, at least in my own mind, we were in this together.
The boss was like the father, roughly demanding more from me than I thought I had to give. Terrifying me toward an excellence I didn’t yet understand. Claiming that our profession had no honor while behaving in many ways like the honorable men I’ve known; unconcerned about the opinions of others, hewing to his own code, surrounding himself with men of honor who are devoted to him.
The bar manager, like an older sister in a motherless home, annoyed at my boyish attempts to distinguish myself for the father, and protective of her little sister, my co-worker, who saw me as a threat for reasons I still don’t understand. These women had their reasons for mistrusting “men like me” even if I was way more, not way less than they saw me. At least I thought I was, think I am.
Like a real family, it felt as if I hadn’t chosen them but they were mine to accept as they were or quit. Quitting wasn’t an option. If I did I’d lose my unemployment, which is all that’s going to keep me in beans and internet until the next gig, should it come to that. I didn’t think I’d have to quit. I felt my days were numbered, so I readied myself for Hell’s Bells.
If you think this realization made me more confident to return to work the following week you would be wrong. The truth is it scared the shit out of me and woke up, not just my inner samurai, but also the smallest most insecure feelings in my crack of cracks. I didn’t, and still don’t, know if they will keep me on, or let me go, or if I have what it takes to change the way they see me or live with their vision of me. What was clear to me was that, if I could remain true to myself in the face of their critical appraisals of me, it would make me a better bartender, and a better man for the moon and for The Tree.
This is the value of reflections.
9. The Value of Addiction
When I reached the top of The Tree and The Seat of Kether I sat down, unzipped my jacket, stretched my arms behind me, and opened myself wide. As I did some presses, lowering myself to the ground and lifting myself up again, Rilo Kiley’s song “Always”, which begins with a Police-esque synth tone, followed by a surging band intro, started playing, but before it reached the vocals my phone fell off the bench and the battery came out. Silence. The time was 8:01pm.
Though the night was cold I took off my shoes. The chilly cement felt good against my feet. I pulled on my red stocking cap (a prize given to me by a fellow participant in an ayahuasca ceremony) and tied my orange bandana around my neck.
This is where I would, at a different time, have smoked some pot. I had some with me and rather than take it into my lungs, I tore off a small bud and placed it in my left hand. I then took out my lighter and burned it there like incense. As it smoldered and the smoke rose I was struck with a realization, but before I could put it into words, the ember reached my skin. It hurt and I closed my fist on it, putting it out. I felt immediate sympathy for my throat and lungs, which have taken in so much fire and smoke over the years.
Then understanding emerged. Addiction is a blessing because it gives us something to sacrifice for the greater good. If we were deeper people, more connected to the land, or each other, we might have to sacrifice things of value to make this sacred point. I thought of Abraham’s willingness to murder his own son, or cut off his own foreskin for YHWH. I thought of the enlightened Aztecs surrendering to the marauding Spaniards because the arrival coincided with prophecy. I thought of Lakota Sioux warriors ghost dancing into bullet fire, planting their blood like seeds in the ground. These were profound people with deep connections; therefore they were called to make great sacrifices.
We, however, are addicted scumbags, as I can hear Louis CK saying.
We, are not so deep. Our connections to land and each other has been so de-programmed out of us that losing family and land is second nature to us. Money, drugs, luxury, social position, intense sensation. I’m not judging, but these things own us at least as much we own them. Cars and gas and the ability to flush our refuse thoughtlessly downstream. These cheap and easy luxuries keep us small and sick, as long as we need them, so when we can find even a moment to try and break away from any of these, it’s probably going to be a good moment. A sacred moment.
During a fast, when I want to do the thing I’m fasting from, I remember why I’m doing it. If, for the moment, I can want to and not, it generates energy. More than energy. Power.
This is the value of addiction.
10. The Value of Miracles
Before I began my walk, with the late afternoon sky a deep blue behind her, I caught one glimpse of the moon coming over the hill to the east. Big and yellow and about to enter a veil of thick clouds.
By the time I entered The Tree after sundown the moon was only a glow behind a blanket. I had no doubt that I could draw her out before the night was through. This faith comes from years of practice.
At each sephiroth I turned and gazed upward into the murky night and found her hidden luminescence with an increasing sense of wolfish desire and confidence. Like a lover, I winked and beckoned and cajoled, with all of the playful patience in the world, backed by a natural urgency that felt more like magnetism than lust.
By the time she peaked out for the first time, I was walking the path from The Kether Seat to the second Daath crossing. Rilo Kiley was singing “Silver Lining,” a song which held totemic significance for me and my ex and future something, Robyn, with whom I first engaged the moon magick of The Tree before I knew what it was. In the moments prior to the moon’s arrival, a deathly vision from a nightmare arose before me.
The car pulled a U-turn and parked fifty yards ahead of me. The door slid open and the assassin emerged. By the time she revealed herself as a mere child about to go roller-blading with her mother, I had already surrendered to my destiny, the destiny we all share, if we are lucky, a good death. And then the moon was there, naked and in full view, winking at me from within a small opening in the clouds.
As I continued along the path and stepped onto the grating above the vortex-rich waters to empty my cup Jenny Lewis was singing “Happy,” the third randomly chosen song featuring this fellow psychedelic seeker of potentially trouble-making Jewish origins. Her voice and muse spoke for the silent moon in poetic paradox as I turned to touch the “Life Ring – Located Inside” where a lone winter spider sat in her web, guarding whatever portals lay behind her impossible existence.
This is when the miracles began in earnest. I walked slowly along the path toward the Chokmah Mound. Robert Plant and Alison Krauss singing “Polly Come Home.” Loving thoughts toward my difficult bar family rolling around in my head. My last coin in my left hand, where the burn of the marijuana incense still lingered. I felt empty and full and drawn and driven. Awake and in a trance. As I came around the last curve of the hill there was a stick, about three and a half feet long, sitting there as if consciously placed for me to pick up. I did so without stopping, without thinking, and took my place at the center of The Chokmah Mound. As the opening chords of “God Only Knows” began to play I leaped up onto the bench which sits atop a time capsule, intended to be opened in 2051, and side-arm hurled my last coin into the abyss.
I looked up and the clouds began to part. The moon shone with a piercing intensity and, without thinking, I began tracing a circle in the gravel around the bench with the stick, which now felt more like a staff or a wand, purchased with my ten gold coins. Yeah, it sounds weird, unless it happens to you. Then, it’s fucking awesome! Within the circle I traced mystical symbols, again without really intending to do so at first. As I did so, the clouds, which just minutes before had covered the sky, formed a circle around the lake, giving the moon her solo against a background of stars. I basked and danced and offered grateful prayers and felt the light, and knew that somehow, when the time was right, I could do it again.
This is the value of miracles.
XX – Final
People sometimes ask me,”Steve, how can I become a millionaire?”
I tell them that’s easy.
First, get a million dollars…
– Steve Martin
If you wish to walk The Tree in the moonlight, first devote yourself to it every day. Recognize the power of natural cycles. Make offerings. Set intentions. Listen to the music. Honor madness. Find your center. Tend your fire. Bathe in the water. Surrender to your reflections. Value your addictions. Make miracles.
When you fill your days and nights with magick I will meet you in The Tree and we shall see. We shall see.