Welcome into the vortex........

anarcho-shamanism, mountain spirits; sacred wilderness, sacred sites, sacred everything; psychonautics, entheogens, pushing the envelope of consciousness; dominator culture and undermining its activities; Jung, Hillman, archetypes; Buddhism, multidimensional realities, and the ever-present satori at the centre of the brain; a few cosmic laughs; and much much more....

all delivered from the beautiful Highlands of Scotland!

Friday, 12 January 2018

Uncoiling Aboard the Magic Bus

I have done very well, I think to myself. A good long walk alongside the river under a cold, low winter sun; visits to plumber, bank, outdoor shop, and supermarket all successfully accomplished. It is only when, with the sun almost gone, I step onto the bus home that I realise I'm whacked out.

I am third onto the bus, and spread myself and accompanying bags out spaciously over the seats. Yes, whacked out. I shall return home, to.... what? I could go to rest, a late afternoon siesta. Only it will be useless. I'll lie down for about two minutes, and it'll all start up. The whirring, chugging, rotating, deep down inside a part of the body that most people choose to ignore. It will build, and build, going ever deeper, over ten minutes or two hours. Finally, warm ripples of energy will take me over as they rise wave upon wave to the top of my head; or a silvery liquid will slowly make its way up the length of my spine. Or there will be an outburst, a spasm of energy, which will pull me half way down the bed.

It is good that I have the house all to myself at the moment! Even loved ones might find it all a touch disconcerting.

I take a look at my companions on the bus. All dressed up in their own particular ways for the cold outside. I am past comment, opinion, judgement: we are who we are, and that's it. My brain seems full of soft warm bliss, refusing to take part in such ways of thinking.

A woman gets on the bus with her daughter and younger son. The boy is in a wheelchair, physically and mentally impaired. The woman's purse snaps open, spilling coins all over the floor; the girl hurries to pick them all up. As we travel further, I notice the girl gazing out the bus window, alone in her thoughts and her world, while mother occupies herself with the boy. I wonder whether she gets enough attention from her parents, or whether she is unwitting victim of her little brother's all-consuming problems. CEN, it's called: childhood emotional neglect. Check it out.

There was a time when our bus route was proudly run on smooth-running, swanky electric buses. In recent times, though, they have been replaced by old, beaten-up boneshakers. Some double-deckers, even, looking as if they've been bought at bargain basement price in a London transport sale of goods from the 1950s. Today, we are rattling along, juddering and shaking as we go. The vibrations get things going: other than jumping off at the next stop, I have no option but to submit. I am taken over by a now-familiar feeling, a mix of unspeakable sweetness and near-despair. I can manage despair, and have come to respect it. Far better than feelings like certainty, which leave no room for growth.

As we continue to get tossed about on the pothole-ridden road, the sensations only intensify. I recall years gone past, when a great fascination was aroused by tales of teenage girls having orgasms while riding their horse. I'm sorry, girls, I take back my lustful delight. It's not always such great fun after all.

It's almost dark now, and we are nearing my stop. The afternoon's events flash through my mind as we turn the corner at the hotel into the final stretch of road. It's the thing to do, isn't it? The question. It happened twice during my little afternoon today, at the bank and at the outdoor shop. "Have you got anything else planned for the rest of the day?" seems the required question nowadays if a shop worker wants to keep their job. I sometimes mumble something about the day not taking up a lot of space in my future memoirs, while I stuff eggs and bananas into my shopping bag. Maybe one day I'll actually tell them. "Have you got anything much on for the rest of the day?" "I am going home, where Princess Kundalini may rise up in splendour. The lovely divine Shakti will meet in tender embrace the mighty Lord Shiva, and they will dance in tenderness and joy at the centre of my heart." One day, one day......

Photo: Andrea Davies

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Serpent Rising

For a while, I had intended writing nothing about it. Keeping quiet, aside from in communication with a few empathic intimates. It is, after all, rather specific, personal, to be handled carefully. But it seems that it will be around for a while - maybe for ever. So, unless 'hibernation' on this blog is going to turn into rigor mortis, I have decided that a few words, at least, shall be forthcoming....

Over the past several months, things have got turned upside down and inside out a bit. Everything has changed. I feel simultaneously in a state of near-constant bliss, and as if I have been chucked out of a spin drier at high speed. During this short period, the energy we may call Kundalini has been in process of activation and awakening in this ancient and battered temple I call my physical body. It has become a full-on immersion, shaping everything I do - or, more frequently, don't do.

Needless to say, this is not something I have consciously intended. At the same time, in retrospect, there might be some rhyme and reason to matters after all. What I have been getting up to in recent times is precisely the kind of thing to catch the attention of Kundalini.

Take these subjects. 'Sacred duality, the divinity of polarity'; the four elements in Tarot, and the corresponding four psychic functions in Jung; the sacred feminine, whatever that is, and the dark moon goddesses: blog posts over the past two years have been littered with references to these and similar themes.

Looked at from one angle, all of this seems a bit fancy. However, it has not - I repeat, not - been intended as philosophical and metaphysical speculation; neither has it been a playing with ideas and concepts. It has been my own attempt, the best I could do, to map out the inner processes taking place within my life, inside my own direct experience. Mysticism, not philosophy. One theme to emerge has been my reservations (which turned into a despising, really) about a life shaped and led by concept and thought. 'Mind', as commonly understood. Now these reservations have born fruit. I am immersed in Kundalini process, which is all energy, feeling, sensation: about as thought-and-concept free as you can get.

I have no intention of sharing the details of the unfoldment which has led to this point. However, the sacred aspect to duality has been a key for me. This is well communicated through the upper section of the Kabbalist Tree of Life, along with its corresponding expression in Tarot. Kether is top of the Tree, parallel with the aces in Tarot. It is Oneness, non-duality, Source. Then comes Chokmah, two on the Tree and in Tarot: Wisdom, the initial division of the hitherto undivided. Basic dualities: light, dark; masculine, feminine. And then Binah, the three: Understanding. The reflexive consciousness which sees the 'One as Two' and 'Two as One'. It cognises the sacred process.

It was an enormous transformation of consciousness for me to see this. Most of my adult life had been led with an assumption (conscious or not is irrelevant) of basic oppositionalism: non-dual = good, dual = bad. Escape this rotten world of dualistic sorrows, the samsara, into nirvana, the pure bliss of the undivided. This was the name of the game.

Kabbala and Tarot see things differently. Duality is just one tiny step from the top of the Tree. It manifests the attributes of the Godhead, if you will. Instead of being opposed to one another, the dual and non-dual are mutual reflections. To see this brings the divine into everything; it is everywhere. We could even venture that Oneness without duality remains a bit dumb. It possesses no means of seeing itself, of self reflection. It cannot be creative. The One needs the Two, just as the Two need the One.

So, once more, just in case any reader still hasn't quite got it. This is not philosophical speculation. I have no time for such things, really. It is an attempt, imperfect no doubt, to communicate my own felt experience through the limited medium of words. The point is that Kundalini appears to take a vivid interest in 'sacred duality', the union of opposites. This is actually formulated better in the western mystical tradition of alchemy than elsewhere, in my view. This esoteric tradition is replete with references to the two-in-one, the sacred marriage of the masculine and feminine, the twin flames, the rising serpent, and the like. It all comes clothed in obscurity, tricky imagery, partly because it is by nature esoteric, but partly also because its physical, body-based mysticism would have been met with hostility, to put it mildly, by western Christianity, were it to present in more simple formats.

Much of my life has been spent with a penchant for the weird, unorthodox, the offtrack, along with a corresponding aversion to much that is considered conventional, mainstream. It is as if someone or something in the Universe has finally called my bluff. "Oh you, with a fatal fascination with the bizarre and inexplicable: get a load of this."

Yes. Living inside this Kundalini process - I shall call it thus - is probably the strangest thing to have happened in my life to date. And it is not something that can be turned off. The alchemical process is a highly autonomous one, it seems: it 'decocts and putrefies by itself'. 'You' don't do Kundalini: it does you. Surrender, give yourself up, shape yourself as best you can to be a receptacle fit to receive: this is the only way to go. Not hugely easy for a little smart-arse like me....

A few notes for anybody wishing to find out more. Some of the more traditional Hindu-based literature on Kundalini I find, well, not exactly dishonest, but partial, one-sided. All those neat and tidy diagrams of chakras, nadis, third eyes, and the rest. While experience has demonstrated to me that these phenomena do exist, it's not in the orderly fashion often depicted. The unfolding is not, to our normal way of thinking, linear or rational at all. Not in my case, at least. Dionysus, not Apollo, rules the house of Kundalini. She - for Kundalini is a 'she' - is Shakti, the goddess, the deep feminine fully embodied.

Though obscure, some of the alchemical stuff is more real. The paintings and engravings. The best sources, though, to my mind, are often the first-hand accounts by 'modern western people', folk who have actually travelled the journey. Look for the taste of honesty and authenticity.

Twitches, jerkings, stretchings, spasms; spontaneous mudras; internal rerouting of sexual energy. All the strange symptoms of Kundalini awakening that you read about I have found myself reliving. Kundalini is not something for the mind; it is energy. I am aware of it reconfiguring my physical body, quite literally. Which is a  bit disconcerting, but comes laced with a heavy helping of bliss.

Living inside the Kundalini process feels a bit like living inside an unscripted miracle. Here on Pale Green Vortex we are in, not so much 'hibernation', as in 'Kundalini quiet time.' I shall leave it there for now.....

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

My Companions

Part One

During the early autumn of faraway 1976 I went on a three-week retreat organised by some Tibetan Buddhists. It was in Conishead Priory, then an enormous and rather dilapidated building in the south of the English Lake District. It had been recently purchased by the then Manjusri Institute, and the retreat was a kid-of inaugural event. For a variety of reasons, it didn't really work out for me. There was, however, one undoubted highlight of the retreat: the teachers.

The teachers - the gurus, as we are talking Tibetan Buddhism - were the sadly long deceased Lama Thubten Yeshe and the still-happily-with-us Lama Zopa Rinpoche. Together, they formed a brilliant double act.

The majority of the teaching was done by Zopa. He was, then, a slight and tiny young lama. His English wasn't too good, and he would do a lot of murmuring and muttering of the type that, I believe, only Tibetans can do. So 'receiving the teachings' was a bit of an effort in the first place. And once you had managed to receive them, the teachings did not exactly fill you with joy. Zopa majored on 'the vicious state of samsara'. Old age, impermanence, sickness and death. Death is certain while the time of death is uncertain. The nasty side of karmic consequence. The hot hells and the cold hells. You get the picture.

We young impressionable western students would all be on the verge of buying a one-way ticket into the mountains and jumping off the top of Scafell Pike when Lama Yeshe would breeze in. His grin stretched from one side of the spacious room to the other, while he laughed and joked: don't take it all too seriously, it's all a bit of a blast, really. We would all feel that life was worth living after all, in readiness for another stark dose of reality from Lama Zopa.

There was one time during those three weeks, and one time only, when I recall the normally deadpan Zopa having a really good laugh. He was talking about the need to remain mindful and aware at all times, and the perils of getting carried away, that sort of thing. To illustrate his point, he told a story. It concerned a poor, hard-working Tibetan peasant farmer. He toiled long, long hours in the fields beneath the harsh Tibetan weather in order to feed his family. It really was a tough life, and however much he strived, it was a constant struggle to keep his family fed and warm. Then, one day, his luck turned. He won a lot of money. The struggles were behind him. He was so happy, so excited, that he started to jump up and down with delight. He hit his head on a rafter and dropped down dead.

Zopa found this story hilarious. He couldn't stop laughing. Meanwhile, all we young, modern, nice, western Buddhists, looked at each other in disquiet and consternation. We felt distinctly uncomfortable at the great lama finding humour in such a horrible story. It was at that moment, I now realise forty years after the event, that Lama Zopa Rinpoche showed his true colours: he was a man of the serpent....

Part Two

I have two companions. They follow me almost everywhere I go. One is just behind me to the left, the other to the right. I sometimes consult them when there are things to do, decisions to be made, or when I'm not sure about the 'rightness' of an attitude I may have. I call these two companions Jesus Christ and the Serpent.

The image which has taken on the name of Jesus Christ may or may not correspond very closely to the figure who walks the pages of the Christian New Testament. I am not overly concerned with that; if you find that interesting, check it out yourself. To me, there is an image, a figure of imagination, who in my imaginal world goes by the name of Jesus Christ. That's all.

He exudes a softly radiant golden-yellow light. I notice that he is always smiling, though I sometimes suspect the expression is hiding a rancour or deep resentment. If I engage him in conversation, he speaks always of pity, love, forgiveness. He is indeed Love. He is the Light of the World. He feels sorry for other people; he seems not to feel comfortable with pain, sickness, death, the inevitables of life. Rather, he wishes to remove them, to erase them; to save us from our sorrows, our sufferings, our pains and lamentations.

He wishes to take away that which is part of us, our needles of pain, just as he cried out in felt betrayal to his father when he was in trouble himself. He has a keen sense of guilt, a feeling which he has passed on to many in the modern western world. His guilt and the ensuing feeling of charity is the inner emotional attitude which drives, for example, the readiness to allow all manner of human being into ones place of living, regardless of their true need, suitability, or worthiness. We feel pity, we feel sorry, we feel the great love of the Light of the World. We feel responsible for everything and everybody.

This imaginal Jesus figure comes with his own formula for living. It consists largely of a sense of guilt, sin, and salvation of the world. This inner emotional attitude gets easily transferred onto matters of our darling Mother Earth, where we all feel guilty for the mess around us, and so are easily duped into all manner of foolish acts and attitudes of 'salvation'. The guilt of this Jesus Christ makes us easy prey for manipulation.

He would also have me turn the other cheek, as the highest form of morality. Turn the other cheek, so that the dark forms that stalk the face of our lovely Earth can get away with blue murder without so much as a harsh word being said against them. Turn the other cheek, he says, and let the wicked go free.....

My other companion is the Serpent. Or he could be a dragon, like a Naga from Buddhist and Hindu mythology. Gold and black, tactile, sensuous, rippling with serpentine energy. He has huge bulging eyes.

Should I seek his advice, it often seems harsh, scary, unforgiving. He looks impassively, sees life as it is, and utters accordingly. He emanates a fierce love, shuddering and without compromise. A love which includes pain, the needles, suffering, death. He may even talk of the beauty of suffering, of its necessity. His presence evokes a mixture of awe, fear, and love in my own soul and heart.     

There is no place in my Serpent world for the Christ-like attitudes of guilt, sin, and salvation. She - I have used 'he' thus far, but surely the Serpent could be an underworld queen - finds these feelings tepid, signs of weakness; giveaways of personal power and energy. Instead, she embodies a certain kind of justice which is a reflection of the natural order of things. Punishment and revenge descend upon life when it strays too far from a certain sense of 'rightness'. Crowley's card of 'Adjustment' to replace the normal 'Justice' card in his Thoth Tarot is one which resonates deeply with our lovely Serpent.

There is no place for sentiment in the world of the Serpent. Emotion is rather impersonal, or transpersonal. Fiercely objective, unwavering. If the human species were to be totally destroyed because of its general foolishness, the Serpent would not shed a big tear, or lose too much sleep over it. 'Damaged goods is not worth bothering with' shall be her attitude.

In my own conversations, the Light of the World is first to jump to my aid with kindness and sympathy. But on closer inspection, I invariably find myself following the wise way of the Serpent.......

Images: Lama Zopa nowadays
             A Serpent, of course

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Notes From a Hibernating Mood (coming up for nuts, 2)

There comes a time in a man's life - at least in this man's life - when he becomes tired of many things. He becomes tired of thinking about everything. Of concepts, ideas. Views and opinions. He becomes tired of 'the world'.

I have done my homework - at least enough to get the overall drift. I have seen that 'the world' - that matrix of social, cultural, economic, and political matters - is not a random accident. I have seen that, although there have been a few ups and downs, and while the technology has moved on, still it hasn't much changed over thousands of years. I sometimes take the Romans as a pragmatic starting point, but the thing goes back much further really.

This matrix has no intention of resolving itself into harmony, peace, human fulfilment. If 'world peace' genuinely was a priority above all else, it would be achieved during the course of a weekend. No, the juggernaut requires conflict for its own survival. Conflict and ignorance - which is a polite, abstracted word for stupidity. It is abundantly clear that increasing stupidity is the name of the slave game. You only need to look for six seconds at how smartphones for eight-year-olds are quietly approved (poor bloody modern kids), while anything which may seriously increase a person's sense of self-fulfilment and knowledge is either suppressed, demonised, or made into a criminal offence. Direct contact with the sacred, the divine, is the biggest danger to the status quo, and is out.

Yes, I am tired of views and opinions. If the digital revolution has taught anything, it is that everybody has views and opinions. And if it has taught anything else, it is that nearly all those views and opinions are, in one way or another, toxic. I steer totally clear of the easiest channels of all for the public venting of toxicity - Facebook, Twitter, etc: 'social media'. But read even a well-considered article, be it in the mainstream or alternative, and the comments section will be full of vile crap spewed out by unhappy people.

I have lost sight of why I should have views and opinions about most stuff. It eludes me. I conclude that people do it as a means of defining 'who I am'. What sort of person I am. I don't like Trump, therefore I am a decent, tolerant, caring kind of person, who believes in equality and justice. All this sort of ridiculous nonsense. Ego-definition. This is who I am. I can go to bed safe and secure in my identity. As for me, I have no wish to play this game any more.

Views and opinions. It seems one of the lowest of careers, sitting in an office or at home writing down your own prejudiced opinions, then making money by getting them published in a newspaper. Why should I have views and opinions on things which I can not really influence? Why? Why? I find no answer. If I had young children, I might feel a bit different, because of personal responsibility towards a fledgling human being who needs my assistance in getting into nest-flying shape. Even windfarms, which I may fantasise I can do a little to change, maybe. But for the rest????

All this, I suppose, forms the basis for hibernation mode in the Vortex. I am over 'thinking about', and don't - or didn't - know where to go, apart from for a long walk in the desert. I tried to find 'another voice' but it didn't come. I have realised, however, since declaring hibernation, that there is a way which I like. I shall not write much on 'thinking about'. Instead, I shall focus on 'describing'. What actually goes on, what happens. The magic, the mystery, the beauty and the horror of what is actually happening is more than enough.


Thursday, 9 November 2017

The Geese (coming up for nuts, 1)

Quite a long time ago I lived in south London. The house was situated directly below a flight path. To Heathrow, or Gatwick, or both: I don't know. It was far enough away from the airports not to be over noisy. The night-time sky was lit up by the flickering and twinkling of planes full of people bound for far-off places.

Here in the Highlands, I now live beneath flight paths of a different order. It's the geese. Around now, late autumn, and again in early spring, especially March. The initial alert is often the sound of the distinctive squawking, which I can sometimes hear from even indoors. I will rush outside to catch a glimpse as they fly past in typical v-formation.

Recently the Highlands has been treated to some fine late autumn weather, and the skies have often been clear, resulting in some magnificent sights. It's not the typical animals that really get me: bears, eagles, mountain lions, whales and dolphins. It's normally plant-eaters that do it for me. Gorillas, orang-utans, rhino. Deer; and the geese.

To watch these birds fly overhead in formation is a strangely moving affair for me. I don't care much for where they've come from, or where they are going. The scientific data leave me cold. No. the mere sight of the activity is the thing. How they know what to do, where to go, their place in the formation. You never see geese arguing about who's going up front, or barging in to further their status as a special one.

There is something miraculous about the entire affair for me. What is it about the geese that brings me to tears? Maybe it is how they live through, surrender to, a power that is greater than themselves. They are in dialogue with their own living god, manifesting its unutterable magnificence. Unlike the vast majority of human beings. And that is enough....

Wednesday, 1 November 2017


It's Samhain. Over the years that I have lived in northern Scotland, I have become increasingly aware of the passing of, not so much the solstices and equinoxes, as the four intermediary festivals. Seasons and day length come and go so quickly in this part of the world; blink and you've missed it, fated to run three steps behind.

Samhain takes on a special significance. It is the transition from day to night, from light to darkness. Here on, for three months, we shall be living predominantly in the dark. Outer habits and inner attitudes must be reorganised, or it means trouble. For me, at least. If I am to have a really tricky time emotionally during a year, it will most likely happen between the beginning of November and the third week of January. You have been warned.

In keeping with the shutdown, much of the natural world goes into hibernation. Suddenly, almost overnight it seems, many of the trees are virtually empty of leaves. Nature goes minimalist. Many of the animals go into indoor, doing-as-little-as-possible, mode. Some go quiet and underground, while others hibernate completely.

Keeping in tune with this movement in the natural world, Pale Green Vortex is also going into hibernation mode. Like the squirrels, who reserve the right to pop out of their hideaway from time-to-time in order to uncover a buried nut or two, the Pale G.V. may jump into occasional life. But for now, that is the way.....

Since the blog first exploded into action some seven years ago, many words have been written. Things have been most splendidly active over the past three years. This has all been great: personally necessary, and for others entertaining, helpful, and sometimes annoying. I am quietly proud of what has taken place on Pale Green Vortex: it has tracked a good deal of my own journey through life during these years. But it's time to focus on other things, which are less amenable to chat, discussion, expression through reason and ideas (not that everything here has been especially reasonable!). The blog is not a particularly suitable medium for 'the inner work' at present.

As one of the occasional inspirations in the Vortex, Jim Morrison once famously sang: "The future's uncertain, and the end is always near." Let us strip the second bit of its nihilistic tone, and take it less literally i.e. that the present configuration is always up for changing. Then we have a suitable little anthem for the state of the Vortex at present.

See you sooner or later......  

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Eight of Swords

The Swords of Tarot. Often described as 'a difficult suite'; 'challenging'. It's a bit funny, really, when the Swords are what so much of modern western culture and civilisation is based upon.

The Swords are air. They are intellect, logic, reason; 'mentality'. Since the Enlightenment, so-called, these are the faculties that have been raised above all others as the way upwards and onwards. Science, the great religion of modern times, is sword stuff. Measuring is the sacred act; if something can't be measured on a funny device, it doesn't exist. Mentality is raised to the heavens, while the other faculties that Tarot and Jung alike present as aspects of our being - intuition, feeling, sensation - are relegated to the scrapheap of primitivism and animal nature.

You see, we are reflective, self-aware creatures. Our superiority, our distinctiveness, our personal and collective identities, all depend on our subservience to the Sword. To reason, our higher faculty. A serious rummage around the deeper, hidden layers of who we are reveals this all to be complete nonsense.

It is to his great credit that Jung, when portraying the four faculties which he considered went to make up the complete human being, did not arrange them in a hierarchy. 'Thinking' is not proposed as superior to the other functions of feeling, intuition, and sensation. He does not commit the heinous crime that much modern culture does, which sets out to cut off the human being from its 'totality', for us to identify with our mind, our reason, at the expense of all else. It is actually a thought control device, which effectively alienates folk from their own sacredness, their way towards  and connection with the divine. The 'scientific mind', the 'scientific world view', is a mind-f**k. Nothing but darkness will result.

There have been times during my own life when the cultural devotion to the sharp cutting blade of reason has done me in. Not all Buddhism is like this; but much of the way that it has migrated to the west has been characterised by a certain devotion to reason, to logic, to the brain sword. Unlike Christianity, which seems a bit based on blind faith and therefore a bit stupid, much modern Buddhism prides itself on its rational soundness, its conceptual efficacy. This was indeed one element which I initially found appealing, but which returned to haunt me in later years.

When I became a chairman of a Buddhist centre in west London, I would attend meetings of chairfolk from across the globe. These gatherings were populated by people with thinking faculty uppermost; people who would be at home with the cut-and-thrust of political debate, maybe, in interview on Newsnight. This is not, in general, the way that my mind works. I need to go away, allow something to digest for a week or a year, before coming up with a personal view. Time after time, the swordspeople would come up with an idea, a plan. I would sense there was something not quite right about it, but couldn't put my finger on it. As a result, I kept mum, only to find out much later that my doubts were indeed justified.

Buddhism in the modern west tends to appeal to thinking types, at home with concepts, at sea in feeling and instinct. So it was with great relief that I began to discover a few basics of Kabbala. Here, mentality is put in its place. It does indeed have its place, but alongside the other aspects of our being. Kabbala recognises, in particular, the vitality of feeling and of instinct. In this respect at least, I find it to be a kindred spirit. You cannot think your way to enlightenment, however much you may wish to. On this, Kabbala and Pale Green Vortex are in accord.

To return to Tarot. It is in the Eight and the Nine of Swords that the perils and tortures of identifying with mentality really come home to roost. Too much thinking, trying to work it all out. Trying to understand with logic and reason alone what cannot be comprehended in this way at all. The result: insanity......

"The tendency for analysing and considering everything, digging out a counter-argument for any argument there is....." "Empty thoughts and shallow sentences....." "The Prisons of the Mind....." "Only blessed stupidity can be self-secure enough to believe that thought is the only truth...." "Agony of Mind....." These are a few notes and comments on the Eight and Nine of Swords that I have rapidly compiled from a number of my sources. The 'much-maligned on Pale Green Vortex' Waite-Smith Tarot does a pretty good job of redeeming itself by communicating something of the mental trials evinced by the Swords. But there is even better......

The Eight of Swords from the Royo Dark Tarot I find a marvellous evocation of the pain and torture that we can inflict upon ourselves through overmuch misplaced sword activity, and where this can lead. A young woman in self-inflicted mental torture. Harsh judgement of our own thoughts and behaviour, no self-love, no self-humour. See where it can lead. Depend upon mentality to the exclusion of the other aspects of our being, and this is how we may end up. The self-wrought chains and manacles, the self-inflicted metal sunk deep into the head. This is a painting of deep compassion, I feel.

And I have said enough......  

Images: Nine of Swords from the Waite-Smith Tarot
             Eight of Swords from Royo Dark Tarot.