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Allen Caldeira MICRO CHANGES - JAN/FEB 2019 Poetry

Special Leftovers

Written by Allen Caldiera

They have constructed the cocoon,
sparkling, diamond-body, fecund
sac of mottled clay, congealing
in a formless flotilla, the dew pearl,
a stamen for the light of moon.

And the soul is ferried
across the channel, a future fortress
for the fire-brand ball balancing
against the stem of mast,
basking in the lake before the river
before the castle, whose towers
it will rest in, whose apses
it will hover above while soldiers
work alembics and furnaces, shelter
windsacks and retorts, who press the ashes
of a phoenix cooked in clay into
the form of a future body, the form,
homunculus, fed by the blood of seven kings
and left to flower in the strike of daylight.

And the body is breathed, astrologers
operate breathwork automatons by the stars,
which haul fireworks to the shoreline, which stoke
the ember of an endless flame formed
from sunlight in their stomachs,
the priestesses and virgins flock
against shores, against the weight
of their hope, their longing for new days,
for re-born kings, for the unfurling
of the sail of the sun.

And the king unfurls his fingers,
tendrils of day, and embarks
in the memory of chrysalis,
the reconfiguration, molding of his body
in a soup thick like sap, mutable
like marble-mirrored light beams, hot as
fire on a wrung-dry forest floor, cold as
the shelterless northern wanderers in night.
“And where had I been when I was
there? How to know the body
if it is reconfigured ceaselessly?
How can one be himself when there
are infinite one’s to become? Is there a spark
is there a core? Is there any inkling of
immutability anywhere in”

And then a jolt –

the merchants
and soldiers, handmaids and schoolboys,
priestesses and plum farmers,
flower-haired, confetti-formed,
waiting at the shore to ferry him home.
MICRO CHANGES - JAN/FEB 2019 Poetry Sybrand Veeger

Heraclitus and “I”

Written by Sybrand Veeger

To the skies he cried,

Nothing is but fire!

Observing thus that everything is change.

He knew that God-or-Nature had but one desire:

To stay in flux, to stay in flow, to re- and rearrange!

Nothing ever stands, for the cosmos eternally will dance:

Being’s moves are both random and necessary,

For the beat is chaotic yet perpetually voluntary.

One never steps into the same river twice,

Whispered our Greek identifying parallel streams:

The river flows and so do I,

Observing thus that “I” is something else than what it seems:

There is no meaningful, purposeful or essential “I,”

Or a “self” to be developed as a self-contained existence;

Rather life’s basic playfulness is unwise to deny!

If at every instant “I” returns as another

and as an other,

Self is a ceaseless repetition of different others to discover:

If this morphing game is a play of masks

Like an inwardly theatre with no future, with no past,

We should conclude that self’s a stream                                                                       or a perpetual come-and-go,

That there is no truthful state that will one day lead the show –

So?

Unfold all masks!

Release all fire!

Let us play!

Let us dance! – to the cosmic beat’s desire.

Jonas Guigonnat MICRO CHANGES - JAN/FEB 2019 Prose

Under A Butterfly’s Wing

Written by Jonas Guigonnat

Finally, the night has come.

At this time inappropriate thoughts get a free pass. The unclear mind is ready for endless ambulations, accepting – with the quite welcome help of narcotics – the challenge of the unknown.

“The unknown?” one may ask with a grin.

If one dares ask himself what kind of knowledge, which truth, is irrefutable, it may take more than a lifetime to find any convincing answer. So far, humanity has been working on it for, let say, a millennium or 10, but still trying and still failing. (A large dosage of the narcotic is now needed)

Let’s try to follow that thought.

None is true, but does that makes things unreal? We see things, hear, taste, touch and smell them, but how do we know what things are? (Shit that’s a tricky one)

We need to know how to behave, to have an impact on the world and to reach our goals, individually and collectively. Tempting, the idea that with enough – or the “right” – knowledge, individuals may possess the blueprint to do just this.

But there is always a catch, somewhere, around the corner, waiting for the right moment to reveal itself. In this particular case, it is clear which one. Our dear old friend: chaos.

Photo By Ian Parker

The theory speaks about a butterfly in Guatemala and the effect of its battling wings. Where does it bring us? To a tsunami in Indonesia, or an avalanche in Tibet, who knows. That’s the torturous point – nobody does.

Those trying to read into the future fail consistently. Economists and their always “surprising” worldwide crises, historians and their surely speculative understanding of the past applied to the present, or tech-scientists trying to robotize the world and intelligence itself. The battling wings have done it again, brought confusion to humanity, showing that our lives are at the mercy of this butterfly effect.

Are you listening? Is it your heartbeat? Or maybe mine? Are you scared? Are we? If the butterfly possesses such a power, but that ‘we’, ‘you’, ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘I’ are not able to see it coming… What then?

Photo by G ambrus

To embrace the chaos seems the only option. Let’s take some more of that narcotic, but without brackets this time. Pupils dilated, on the edge of insanity, no emotion is strong enough to tame the roaming nothingness. Let the mind float until it finds an anchor, an illusion, a childly consolation for the impossibility of human understanding.

Each of our movements is a battling wing, every respiration, even the blink of an eye. The storm is thus coming from nowhere, everywhere at the same time. No rest for Chaos. The dance doesn’t have a start, nor a finish. The flow is constantly destroying human dreams, bringing them back to their essence; emptiness and superficiality. We build as if heaven can be reached. But what if the destination doesn’t exist, where is Babylon really going? In the silence of the night, nobody knows.

One may say that our hopes and strives are to forget, that none of our emotions, or perceptions count. There will only be smoke to chase, blurring every piece of reality. What if one dares to accept Chaos, divinity of permanent change, and its microscopic transformations that build and destroy civilizations? Then, the possibility of life will have many more meanings, asserting the realness of change and revealing the lie behind stability. The gods of nature may send as many butterflies as they want, we shall respect the force of their wings and maybe, only maybe, deploy our own.

Allen Caldeira Article MICRO CHANGES - JAN/FEB 2019

Subtle Tensions

Written by Allen Caldeira

You’re walking down a dark city street somewhere in Brazil. The brothels are around this neighborhood, and each person is a potential threat. Your awareness of this causes your body to tense, especially the neck and stomach. You see a man step out of a building up ahead and you instinctively jolt back just a bit. You imagine him stabbing you, threatening you, pushing you into the doorway to take your money.

Then you realize that you are holding tension in your body.

You begin to focus on releasing the tension, and wave hello. He waves back. You talk. It’s good.

This is a real situation (slightly dramatized), described to me by a shaman. He often encountered people he felt might threaten someone else, but connecting to the earth and treating people as humans first helped him immeasurably in these situations. His awareness of his body has helped him to see new ways in which we can look at the body as a system of tension, energy, and potentially compassionate presence.

Photo By Joshua Newton

Shaman Says

Shamans, from the Ineen tradition take their reality to truly be relative. No one paradigm or way of seeing is the “right” one. Still, they maintain certain values, such as “to come from the heart has more power than to come from the gut.” They don’t deny the gut, but they feel that to translate ideas through the heart and hands is more effective than to do so through the solar plexus alone.

Consistently the advice from these shamans is to “ground out energy.” What is this literally? It is paying attention to the feet/trunk* and releasing whatever emotion that would remove you from the moment. This comes with the intention of being fully present.

We encounter various situations in life that make us feel uncomfortable, that make some part of our body tense. In the language of chakras, you get a block in the chakras because of a perceived threat. There becomes a tension and less information can move through the cluster of nerve cells at that point in the body. You have a perception of potential threat there because of preconceived notions, ideas about how things are that are stuck inside your energy centers, directing you towards or away from any particular situation.**

People notice subtle tension inside your body. People notice if you believe they might hurt you or steal from you. People notice more than they are aware they notice.

The recommended practice to deal with tension is to connect to the earth. Imagine you are grounded and at peace even inside of an uncomfortable situation. The shaman was able to have genuine, polite conversations with people who he believed would have robbed someone else. He did this by grounding out his fear and replacing it with compassionate presence.

This Can Go Deeper

We all have various loops – habitual tendencies – inside us that cause tension. Something as simple as seeing a person or hearing water fall in a particular way may cause a feeling of unease. The tensions we carry have become so normalized, so much part of our being, that we would never consider them abnormal. And, tension is fine, the question is more of whether you have control over that tension, if you want that tension or not.

Most of us do not control our tensions – they control us, creating patterns and habituations that occur without end. How do you stop the painful patterns? By grounding through them, being present, and releasing. If we know that it is actually our own interpretation of a situation that directs its outcome, then changing our response to any given situation would lead us out of the negative pattern connected to it.

Photo by Brannon Naito

Be Aware Of Pain, Then Working With It

There are numerous ways to do this, but the underlying mechanism seems to be the relaying of the upper brain, the crown chakra, into the survival system of the brain, from the solar plexus to the root – tailbone, perineum, and feet.^* Translating the above to the below. To do this, one has to be able to free oneself of tension in literally any situation.

In the most general sense there is one method of action and one of cessation. To be active is to clear tension no matter what situation approaches you, and often produces and is produced by a more wild kind of being, much more connected to human tendencies. That is to say that when we become masters of our instinctual responses we can use them to be active in the world in a very direct way, which expresses itself differently for everyone. Cessation is much more what we hear about from various masters, you meditate for an extended period of time in a secluded space to gain mastery over the physical body.

Ultimately, these produce the same result:  your energy body and physical body come into a state of peace with one another.

Let’s Re-orient Back To The Shamans

The practices of the shamans include calling down a celestial, white or blue light which covers their bodies and creates a pure field. They often describe the light as being connected to the highest self, able to provide happiness and peace to a person’s deepest being. It makes energy flow more easily. And to connect that to the root chakra would be to find peace in life.

The tension that occurs in the body is what prevents the energy from traveling through the body freely – tension blocks flow. Tension is doubt, fear, anger, regret, sadness, etc. They aren’t necessarily bad, but they tend to block up energy flows. If you look for health and happiness it’s a good idea to clean them out. Qi gong practitioners have been doing it for centuries.^^

You can have clean energy centers all the time, and this would imply a very visceral experience of reality, one where you are receiving all of the information originating from the surrounding environment and internal environment. If one has the intent to come from the level of the heart, then that compassion will get translated down automatically through the nervous system. If there is dis-ease in the lower centers, the heart will have a harder time getting through in a clean way.

A simple practice to try is to let the white light come down on your body. Some describe it as blue-white or purple-white. I like to use pink. See what color comes to you! Stay under it with your focus until it feels right to finish.

Take note of the difference in body feeling.

Notes :

* Root chakra and all connected body parts – thighs, calves, feet, perineum, tailbone.

** You could say that this is how chakras (or even your energy field) becomes clogged up, something sticks. Why does it stick? Lack of letting go, lack of compassion, lack of asserting yourself, etc. I feel like it has to do with taking care of the physical body at a very deep level, listening to what it needs in terms of recurring constellations or patterns.

^* From experience, it seems that the tailbone, perineum, and feet at the primary points of energy focus. I have noticed huge amounts of electricity being released through the trunks of the legs as I release various fears, and this tends to come with varying levels of ecstasy. But the focus for me has primarily been at the bottoms of the feet and the tailbone/perineum. A friend suggests the big toes are the most direct link from the crown chakra to the root (it’s logical) and another suggests that it’s wise the give the heels just as much focus to maintain ground while moving forward.

^^ Qi gong has not been around for centuries, I refer to ‘Chinese energy workers’ – now typically Qi gong and tai Qi practitioners.

Article Contributing Creators MICRO CHANGES - JAN/FEB 2019

Brexit and The Policy Changes That Define a Nation

Written by Felix Faillace

So, here we are. Time for a big bowl of Brexit. At the time of publishing, Parliament is holding the vote and soon we will have made a long overdue decision on the toxic relationship it has with Brexit. It is a binary decision, a small change, one of staying or leaving, much like deciding to stay at a party for a while longer or catch the last train home. Except that the party is the EU and the last train home doesn’t let immigrants on board.

Where did this all start? Was it Farage, was it Cameron? Our answer lies deep in our glorious British history (God Save the Queen). From the late 17th century until the early 20th century Britain was the most powerful nation in the world, and by the end of the 19th century Britain ruled over 25% of the world’s population and controlled the global economy. Over the centuries, the Empire faded and a grand disparity developed between the memory of Britannia and the UK of today. In the face of modern challenges, we are left with a superiority complex in our national psyche, and the fact that we can now, in our situation, think we would somehow be better off without the EU, is baffling. Often we like to think that we dominated the globe because we are better than foreigners, but really it’s because we were better bankers.

Past Glory, Thanks to Immigrants

In the early 17th century the newly formed Dutch republic was able to fund the finest trade expeditions through the East India Company. They had established innovative economic instruments, such as the first stock market and the ability to issue bonds to the public, thereby delving into national debt. Holland dominated world trade for a number of decades, winning multiple battles against Britain in the process. However, on the 5th of November 1688, there was a crucial turning point in history as Willem Hendrik van Oranje, better known as William of Orange, landed on British shores and instigated “the Glorious Revolution” in which the Dutch noble took consenting control of the budding empire. Into his new domain, van Oranje imported the pioneering financial institutions of Holland and thrust Britain into the driver’s seat of globalisation.


Prince of Orange Landing at Torbay, engraving by William Miller after J M W Turner (Rawlinson 739), published in The Art Journal 1852 (New Series Volume IV). George Virtue, London, 1852

Today, we are once more at a crossroads in British history, and in the same way these noblemen committed treason and replaced their king, brave politicians must now disregard party loyalties and the “democratic” result of the referendum. There will undoubtedly be change; it is simply a case of whether it will be a return to sanity or a nosedive off the edge of Europe and into economic ruin.

By 1698 Britain had a thriving stock market and the state-funded East India Company was beginning to develop monopolies on the trade between Europe and Asia. Britain even had the money to emerge victorious over France, Spain, and Russia in the Seven Years’ War from 1756 to 1763. Both sides were fairly evenly matched but Britain was able to borrow funds, whilst all the French could do was raise taxes. This war was pivotal in European geopolitics, as the bulk of France’s colonial territories were given to Britain. This failure was felt most acutely by the poorest in France, setting the stage for the French revolution 26 years later.

Britain prospered as a result of the war and they had their financiers to thank for this. Yet most people in Britain perceived their prowess as a result of their innate superiority. They were not aware of the benefits of the stock market – all they saw were the headlines screaming “VICTORY”.

As the nation began to take control of world affairs, the toxic idea of god-granted supremacy began to take root in the British consciousness, a place where it has remained for over 250 years. Of course, the majority of the modern British public doesn’t understand that the glorious Empire was primarily a commercial free trade operation, and this is why it created so much wealth. It was first and foremost a single market, with a single currency, free movement of goods, services, capital and people, and with a single legal framework based on Common Law. Sounds an awful lot like the EU doesn’t it?

The Selective Memory of A Nation

Most of Britain’s success comes down to luck. We have been truly blessed by our geography. As an island, this country is far less susceptible to foreign invasions, and access to the sea allowed his or her majesty to literally rule the waves. This military security meant that Britain was able to focus on other endeavours, such as industrial innovation or improving domestic opportunities. The Magna Carta, Bill of Rights and English Common Law fostered political, economic and civil stability, at a time when other countries were finding their footing as nation states.

While in the 19th century the rest of Western Europe was busy unifying (Germany and Italy), fighting off revolutions (France and Spain) or modernizing from a feudal system (Russia), Britain had already secured a strong national identity and functioning parliament for centuries, keeping the Queen or King in check through heavy dependency on taxation. These are among the most easily identifiable reasons as to why Britain came to dominate, especially for a historian, but, throughout history, it was much easier for the average Brit to point to an inherent national and moral superiority.

For example, we have always ranted and raved about how we ended the slave trade. It is true; the British did blockade the West African coast throughout the early 19th century in order to stop merchants from continuing the trade, whilst being amongst the first European nations to abolish slavery entirely. These actions fully enshrined this effort and many Brits now point to these events as indicators of the morality and benevolence of the Empire.

Official medallion of the British Anti-Slavery Society (1795)

As you might guess, that wasn’t actually the case. In 1793 Britain engaged in war with France and the battles were fought in India, the Caribbean and the Americas, and Britain needed those native populations to support the war effort. Ending slavery was perceived as a move which would raise the overseas political capital of British rule. Slavery was also becoming less and less profitable as mass industry took over, with the slave populations deemed more costly and difficult to control. Successful revolutions had already occurred in territories such as Haiti. Even the forcible ending of the slave trade by the Royal Navy was mainly due to the fact that Britain did not want Brazilian sugar producers to gain an unfair competitive advantage through the use of slave labour.

Again, it was all about the money.

We must not delude ourselves into thinking that it was some moral epiphany that hit British politicians as they walked into the House of Commons one day and realised that enslavement is abhorrent. British authorities have a long tradition of downplaying “their central role in the transatlantic slave trade, while claiming credit for ending slavery.” They preferred to credit the change of heart to Christian lobbying groups such as the Clapham Sect, thereby making the government appear to be both pious and progressive.   

Throughout the 1950s and 60s, there was a steep increase in immigration from ex-colonies and this has led to a visible flaring of racial tensions when combined with the inferiority complex induced by our diminishing imperial might. The two have arrived on British shores simultaneously and led to a staggeringly ironic victim complex, whereby Brits feel colonized in their own land by immigrants from the old colonies. These migrants serve to help the British economy by taking often low-paying jobs and increasing the multiplier effect, never mind the long overdue justice in allowing them opportunities in Britain after centuries of colonisation.

The British public has not been capable of any level of critical introspection or reconciliation, rather remaining begrudged at our new position in the world, as we seek to regain control of our borders at extreme personal cost. However, this sentiment does not exist independently from other factors. It has been greatly exasperated in recent decades by certain economic policy errors, such as not joining the EEC in 1957 at the precise time when the Empire was dissolving.

“We love immigrants. They make great scapegoats.” Photo by Alisdare Hickson

Future Glory, Thanks to Immigrants

Failure to integrate the working class communities of Britain into our increasingly globalized world, followed by harsh austerity imposed on the nation’s poorest, has left many feeling disillusioned and eager to find a scapegoat upon which to drop their insecurities and anger. Politicians such as Margaret Thatcher have redefined the values of modern Britain and have given a legitimate voice to those disillusioned conservatives who simply wish to return to our imperial pre-eminence. However, going back to the old ways implicitly attacks those who represent the new Britain: the hundreds of thousands of economic migrants.

Nowadays, the glory of Britain can be found in our diversity and multiculturalism, but instead, we blame our problems on the social changes experienced in the wake of decolonisation. Many who voted for Brexit did so out of this sentiment. We wish pointlessly for Britannia, yet miss the crucial point that British power was based entirely on free trade and movement of peoples. What 6 words better describe the EU? Perhaps if we were better educated on the true nature of the Empire and not our innate supremacy, we would not have voted to leave the very organisation which continues its legacy.