21. March 2014 · Enter your password to view comments. · Categories: MEMORIES DREAMS REFLECTIONS, NILES

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21. March 2014 · Enter your password to view comments. · Categories: MEMORIES DREAMS REFLECTIONS, NILES

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evening, feb. 3

i’ve tried to write about the pain and death, but it didn’t truly come out as i had originally envisioned it would.
it’s not really anything i could have imagined meaning all that much to anyone – (besides) my own damaged ego – or outside of the vedic / buddha scriptures and holy words by our past leaders of all subscription.
so, i’m not into tripping here over the subject matter. it seems idiotic to spout personal war stories. i’m probably being dumb here. i don’t know right now, ok?
maybe it will be good reading for you. i sort of doubt it amounts to much more than that. but i love you for daring me to try it. thanks!
you are a powerful magickal partner, and i am already carrying bruises (and smiles).

just thinking i should stick with rituals for now, as far as babylon goes.

so I’m going to sharpen my pencil and look for something new that I can sink my teeth into – something breathing, filled with love, and, of course…undead.

anyway, here’s ‘it’/

Babylon coven Chicago, Feb.3. 2014

Personal Mythologies Surrounding the Fears and Confusions of Death Experiences

A paper by coven member


Sri Krishna’s Remembering

“Many lives, Arjuna, you and I have lived,
I remember them all, but thou dost not.”
Bhagavad Gita, iv, 5

While discussing ‘personal limits’ in ritual with a few members of Babylon coven the other day, it became clear to me that I probably need to share a bit more of my own history, this so people could better understand my beliefs, limits and general mental state.

Yesterday, Amanda, a Babylon Priestess, listened to the yak of my personal pain issues, then suggested I try writing something about the subject, both as self-medication, but also as primer on who the heck niles is, anyway?

So I’m not sure where I want to take this, but I’m going to give it a quick and quirky try. Let me know what, if anything the following verbiage achieves; if you have opinions of it. Thanks.


To open this up with something that makes a bit of sense (at least to me), I need to address a big subject that has brought me to my knees on many occasions; namely Death.
Not like I’m dead, but the subject in general.

Let’s wax psychological for a minute.
‘They’ say the moment of orgasm is like “The Little Death”. If you have never heard this before, I’m sorry you had to grow up in West Virginia or Alabama.
Karma sucks.

But then, why do we fear that which we slavishly seek throughout much of our lives?
What’s inside the heart of that particular dichotomy, and who wrote the thesis on that weird shit, anyway?

Love and death are different aspects of the same psychic structure, a series of ‘dominants” that Jung labeled “the Collective Unconscious”; a wild – ‘everybody’s “all in” game’ – a very real shaking of the runes that spares no one in the casino called life from the glory and the terror of life’s flip side – those unnamable spooky things floating around over there above the Craps table in the corner!

We tend to focus on the issues and forms of which we are most afraid (or just plain dislike), while ignoring the spirit that flits along with us, (you and me and everything here on earth) spinning willfully around the galaxy on a fairly predictable basis and pattern.
Like it or not, you are biased – one way, or the other.

It’s called the Wheel of Life (the polar opposite of the Tibetan ‘bardos’ of death/rebirth), and everyone’s voting for the former versus the latter because, well, death just ain’t all that fucking hip.
But let’s suck it up a bit, and take a short journey down life’s (and death’s) pathways.
“As a man’s desire is, so is his destiny. For as his desire is,
so is his will; and as his will is, so is his deed; and as his
deed is, so is his reward, whether good or bad.
“A man acteth according to the desires to which he
clingeth. After death he goeth to the next world bearing
in his mind the subtle impressions of his deeds; and,
after reaping there the harvest of his deeds, he
returneth again to this world of action. Thus he who
hath desire continueth subject to rebirth.”
Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Amanda suggested I get into my own ‘spooky things’ and attempt to show myself and you all why I’m damaged goods as far as pain goes. It’s a great suggestion, but having to write it up isn’t all that terrific!
I’m hanging in on it, ok? I just ain’t liking it.

So let me start with a ‘witchy’ premise, seeing as we’re all Babylon coven family now.

One of the motivating premises of ‘becoming’ wicca is the luxury of becoming bonded with one’s circle partners / family, a connection as tight as any biological alternative could offer. Inside the circle we grow in constant fashion: waking up into adulthood, maturing with our mates and lovers, passing on our feelings and gnosis about the earth – the heavens – the Powers that Be. We celebrate countless rituals, with decades of cycles of sabbats of wild variety and taste and satisfaction. Our circle is small and yet expansive; we are one with our circle family, just as we are within the neighborhoods we live in out there in the public lands.

We nurture life and growth in all things good. We have compassion for our friends and lovers, our animal friends and our plantings of all variety. We heal whoever we can, and do supportive rituals for those who need to leave our circle for one reason or another; either for a different life outside, or through death.

Death is always one of the hardest degrees any initiate has to grapple with during their own life.

Death is the sacrifice that allows us to seek a new level of being, whether outside the fleshy limitations of ‘being’ and re-birth, or back again for another round of “Wheel of Fortune”.


Carl Jung, in his “Psychological Commentary” to ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’, says, “I must content myself with the hypothesis of an omnipresent, but differentiated, psychic structure which is inherited and which necessarily gives a certain form and direction to all experience. For, just as the organs of the body are not mere lumps of indifferent, passive matter, but are dynamic, functional complexes which assert themselves with imperious urgency, so, also, the archtypes, as organs of psyche, are dynamic instinctual complexes which determine psychic life to an extraordinary degree.
That’s why I also call them ‘Dominants’ of the unconscious. The layer of ‘unconscious psyche’ which is made up of these universal dynamic forms I have termed the Collected Unconscious.” (Go, Carl!!!)

I want to keep expanding outward, showing the correlations and the conjunctions—the oppositions and triads. But Amanda asked me to talk about myself. So, I cannot hide underneath pagan fairy-stones, Eastern gurus, and mistletoe kisses forever. (Or, maybe..?)

Buddhists and Hindus alike believe that the last thought at the moment of death determines the character of the next incarnation. As the Bardo Thodol teaches, so have the Sages of India long taught, that the thought-process of a dying person should be rightly directed, preferably by the dying person if he or she has been initiated or psychically trained to meet death, or, otherwise, by a guru or a friend or relative versed in the science of death.
Sri Krishna, in the Bhagavad Gita (viii, 6), says to Arjuna, “One attaineth whatever state (of being) one thinketh about at the last when relinquishing the body, being ever absorbed in the thought thereof.”
Our past thinking has determined our present status, and our present thinking will determine our future status; for man is what man thinks. In the words of the opening verse of the Dhammapada, “All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts.”
Likewise did the Hebrew Sages teach, as in Proverbs xxiii ,7, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”


Heavy physical trauma can easily trigger the archtypes Jung talks about.

These formless archtypes are with us throughout our lives, but they only trigger when we encounter an ‘issue’ that can turn the archtype into an elemental: a ‘form’, if I can use this here for now. (It’s complicated).

Triggering an archtype (so to speak) into consciousness always has life-changing implications, according to me, for what this is worth.

When a person goes through extreme physical ‘refinement’, be it through accident, devoted ritual, engagement of will, or a ‘death-state’, that person will never, ever be the same person they were prior to such (enforced?) ritual.

“Accidents happen.” Haven’t we all heard that? Too many times, I say!
Has anyone ever asked, “What are accidents?”

A Gallup Poll found that approximately eight million Americans
claim to have had a near death experience at some point in their life.

“It is highly sensible of the Bardo Thodol to make clear to the dead man the primacy of the soul, for that is the one thing which life does not make clear to us. We are so hemmed in by things which jostle and oppress that we never get a chance, in the midst of all these ‘given’ things, to wonder by whom they are ‘given’. It is from this world of ‘given’ things that the dead man liberates himself; and the purpose of the instruction is to help him towards this liberation. We, if we put ourselves in his place, shall derive no less reward from it, since we learn from the very first paragraphs that the ‘giver’ of all ‘given’ things dwells within us. This is a truth which in the face of all evidence, in the greatest things as in the smallest, is never known, although it is often so very necessary, indeed vital, for us to know it. Such knowledge, to be sure, is suitable only for contemplatives who are minded to understand the purpose of existance, for those who are Gnostics by temperment and therefore believe on a saviour who, like the saviour of the Mandaeans. calls himself ‘gnosis of life’ (manda d’hajie) . Perhaps it is not granted to many of us to see the world as something ‘given’.

“Indeed, the animal nature of man makes him resist seeing himself as the maker of his circumstances. That is why attempts of this kind were always the objects of secret initiations, culminating as a rule in a figurative death…And, in point of fact, the instruction given in the Bardo Thodol serves to recall to the dead man the experience of his initiation and the teachings of his guru, for the instruction is, at bottom, nothing less than an initiation of the dead into the Bardo life, just as the initiation of the living was a preparation for the Beyond. Such was the case, at least, with all the mystery cults in ancient civilizations from the time of the Egyptians and Eleusinian mysteries.

“Thus…the Bardo Thodol is…an initiation process whose purpose is to restore to the soul the dignity it lost at birth. Now it is a characteristic of Oriental religious literature that the teaching invariably begins with the most important item, with the ultimate and highest principles which, with us, would come last (!) …Accordingly, in the Bardo Thodol, the initiation is a series of diminishing climaxes ending with rebirth in the womb.”
“Psychological Commentary” (to The Tibetan Book of the Dead) by Carl Jung.


A male child, fifteen; back-seating it with his parents on a ride out to San Diego.
Reading lots of comics, short stories, with no interference inside that 1959 wide-winged Chevy Bel Air.
That child was me; an only child, lost within myself, speaking to my lost twin* (for another time).
California in July: splashing, sunning, Disneyland, ultimately boring.
Finally time to begin the drive back home.

We stop in the darkness of Amarillo, Texas, at a ‘motel’ for cars and tired drivers.
The place has a heated pool. Perfect.

My parents could use a few minutes to themselves. I can sense this.

It’s almost nine pm when I get into the pool.
I swim a few laps, then try the springboard.
I do a belly-flop, and immediately burst my appendix (although I don’t know this at the time).

I’m in the deep end of the pool, sucking water. No one is in the pool except for me.


I start sinking in there, my guts bursting with sudden pain and blood. Essentially, I’m beginning my dying ritual.
What I remember of that minute under water is that it felt really special; inviting.


I liked it – I wanted to stay there, wherever ‘there’ was.
Yet I knew I wasn’t absolutely sure, not yet.
Was this going to be my answer to life? (I am not trying to turn this into drama. Just saying.)

Grasping the overflow drain of the pool, I pull myself down to the kid’s end, where I’m able to crawl out of the pool and limp to my parent’s room.
Banging against the locked door, I collapse against it, going unconscious.

They drive me over to the Amarillo General Hospital (back when they still had wheelchairs made of woven pig-gut and real oak wood platforms to rest your recuperating feet).

They rip out my dysfunctional organ, keep me in a bed for 6 days, and force me to walk until I can actually stand up straight again.
My mom and I then take the Amtrak back to Union station, Chicago: survivors of that Texas voudou.

I can still recall the feelings I had while slowly sinking into the warm waters of that pool.

=== =============== ===
The Tibetan Book of the Dead, or the Bardo Thodol, is a book of instructions for the dead and dying. Like the Egyptian Book of the Dead,it is meant to be a guide for the dead man (‘person’/nk) during the period of his Bardo experience, symbolically described as an intermediate state of ‘forty-nine’ days duration between death and rebirth.
Back to me….
Same year, three months later; school’s in session. A chill in the air.
I’m hanging with my friends, perhaps a dozen, in the back yard of our neighborhood’s grammar school. It’s a Friday evening, just turning night. I’m wearing a very ’60’s polyester jacket. Fancy, very white.

We hear yelling and walk out onto the baseball field. A car comes racing across the yard. It’s filled with a bunch of very pissed-off hoods from Roosevelt High School up north of us.
They never liked us, and this Friday they want us to remember this. (we’d had skirmishes before at Roosevelt).

More of them are now jumping out of another car idling on Drake, a half dozen more running through the western gate, blocking any chance of our escape that way.
A few are carrying baseball bats.

I run past the incoming car and head north for Cullom Avenue.
But I’m cut off by two more guys on foot, who grab me and throw me down to the ground. As I try to stand, the one with the ball bat smashes it against the back of my skull.
I don’t know what to think. This is a very new and unique perception.
Time gets funny, and I can’t see very well all of a sudden.

I hear people screaming, along with the sounds of shoes running past me.
I can sort of see the field house back there, and manage to stand up after several attempts. The sounds around me start decreasing as I stagger towards a few of my friends.
They’re all talking to me, and looking at the back of my head
Then they’re pulling me by my arms toward St. Louis.
I can see they are talking to me, but I don’t know what they could be saying.

They escort me home, dropping me off at my parent’s front steps, then running away as fast as they can.
I climb the six stairs and open the front door.
When I enter the living room, my parents look like ghosts in the eerie glow of the black and white television.
They stare up at me for a moment, confused, I suppose.
Then my dad turns me around, and my mom staggers backwards into the couch.
I’m shedding blood all over the carpeting.

Martha Washington Hospital at Western Avenue and Irving Park Road.

Some time has passed, and I’m on a rolling gurney.
I’m basically looking up at the ceiling, sort of trying to ignore this sea of medical people surrounding me in blue and white uniforms.
Some of them have spatters of red on their clothes.
Nearby stand my parents, equally consecrated by their son’s bloody ordeal.
Both of them are half-hidden between folds of white theater curtain suspended from stainless steel piping.
I lay there, watching people come and go, observing the curtains opening and closing, revealing the various acts going on tonight inside this busy hospital circus.

Then other people arrive and cart me off; eventually sliding me onto an icy bed.
It’s an x-ray machine, and the coldness of the steel initially irritates me, but nothing seems to matter very much at this point.
Noises that I cannot ascertain or describe fade away.
A heavy x ray bib gets thrown across my belly, and people move my head this way, that way.
Then all the pain recedes, along with the last vestiges of sound.

Eventually I’m tossed back onto the gurney, wheeled back down the drab hallways;
a sack of blood and broken bone, lost to everything.

Now I’m watching my dad, who is pacing back and forth, staring down at the polished terra cotta floor.
He keeps blowing his nose, refusing to look in on me.
He was shell-shocked on the opening of the D-Day theater, and doesn’t do blood well.

My mom is alone, crying and pulling at the curtain some more, watching critically, carefully as the medical team frantically works on shaving my head, shoving needles of blood into my veins, cutting the bloodied clothing away from my skinny body.

I don’t feel a thing.

But I can see all of this quite easily, because I’m about twelve feet above all the action.
The entire scene is crystal clear, like watching tv with the sound turned down.

“Not good,” somebody says, the first thing I’ve heard in an hour or more.

I don’t know who said it, or what it means, but I’m taking it personally.

Maybe change the channel.
Leave this place.
I honestly don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing here.
Everything’s all new again.
I sense this is not a very good place to be, but I really don’t know what my options are.
I’m not feeling attached to very much at all.

Then my mother’s slipping up closer to me, down on the gurney there.
She reaches out to touch my hair – my bloody forehead; crying more and more, and whispering, “You’re gonna be all right.”

And that’s all it took, because I’m suddenly back in my body – just like that.
I’m looking up at her pretty face.
Then everything becomes terribly real again, and I hear myself screaming.
My head’s really, really hurting all of a sudden.

I was in and out of consciousness for a day or two.
They told my parents I’d probably lost half the blood in my body, and would not have survived another few minutes, had I not made it to the hospital.

Surgeons removed a smashed chunk of my lower skull and let my brain recover a few days before reattaching it. The piece never grew back right, but no one, including myself, can see that.

I spent almost two weeks (maybe 10 or 12 days – I don’t remember anymore) in that hospital. My parents visited daily, as did a few of my friends who were at Henry schoolyard that terrible night.
The police also came to interview me bedside, asking who were my attackers. I told them I couldn’t see anyone’s face; that I didn’t have a clue. They knew I was lying, but they also knew I didn’t want any more trouble from the Roosevelt punks by ratting them out.

When I was finally released and sent home, the entire back of my head and half of the top was wrapped in bandages; strips of cloth and tape holding my skull together as it mended from all the cracks and fissures.
My dad took me down to Maxwell Street and bought me a fedora hat (3 sizes larger than normal) because I was very self-conscious about the head dressing.
I believe the last bandages came off after 6 or 7 weeks.
I stopped using a walking cane around the same time because my balance suddenly returned – just like that.


That pleasant acceptance of giving myself up to the warm waters of that swimming pool back in Texas never left my mind. I can relive those brief moments anytime I choose to recall them. The episode is still a strange, yet welcoming memory.

Likewise are my strange journeys through the hospital.
The very real experience of watching the doctors and nurses working on me from twelve feet above my body is another pretty amazing experience, one I will never forget.

To this day, I believe that, had my mother not touched me and told me I’d be okay, I probably would have just gone on.

As to where I’d have ‘gone’, that is still a mystery to me.
But the thought was tempting, and I still recall having it, because I wasn’t exactly in love with my life on earth just then.

What is clear, is that I was certainly not the 15 year old boy I had been before my skull was split open. Something changed; something big and important, although to this day I cannot say exactly how that change shifted gears in my noggin.

My psychological processes and deductions were coming in on a radically different vibe, but it would be five or six years before I would begin to hear about issues like ‘astral projection’, ‘out-of-body experiences’, and the meditation and visualization techniques that would quickly
become such an important part of my still relatively young life.

Before moving on (no pun intended), I should point out a really great Wikipedia page, called Near Death Experience (NDE)…everything you ever wanted to know, or not, plus more!

“Against his will he dieth that hath not learned to die. Learn to die and thou shalt learn to live, for there shall none learn to live that hath not learned to die.”
The Book of the Craft of Dying (Compers Edition)

The God (in many pagan/wiccan belief systems) is often referred to as the Dying God, this because He is the traveler who brings forth the seed that is planted inside the Goddess, who is the Earth. He shows up in five distinct stages…… Birth (at Winter Solstice), Initiation / His youth and his growth as the days also grow longer (at Candlemas), the Young God – dancing with his opposite, the Maiden (at Spring Equinox), a maturing God marrying his Maiden (at Beltane), and the marriage consummated (at Summer Solstice), which brings about the death of the God.
He is then mourned at Lammas/Lughnasad, as well as at The autumnal Equinox / Mabon, where he sleeps within the Goddess’ womb. At Samhain / All Hallow’s eve he conducts the beginning or initial passages that will lead to rebirth (which resemble in startling ways to the deceased traveling through the mystical Tibetan Bardo’s), which last through Imbolg and culminate in His rebirth once again on the following Winter Solstice.


All ‘religions’ grapple with making ‘sense’ of this thing called death. Most people, from the first bipeds to my grandchildren, want little or nothing to do with even a conversation about DEATH!!!
All this while ‘religious’ leaders of all persuasions meet in small hotels, grimy pubs and dusty churches and temples to dress up, drink wines and craft beers while pondering the coming ‘Day of Judgment’ – that ‘forthcoming’ time when, supposedly, a huge number of the currently ‘undead’ will miraculously pop out of the ground and reanimate.
Oh, my….
At issue for many of these religious and ‘salaried ombudsmen’ is the question of what all these stinky dead people will look and smell like.
Nobody’s nailed this big question, nor will any of them address it: Do you come back dressed up in those old bones and rags that fell apart on you when you died, or does God (or someone else equally omnipresent) have a large warehouse of afterlife tailors in the ‘wings’ that will deck you out in fine new skins and threads? And, pray tell – do the reborn get a vote on any of this nonsense?
I don’t believe so.

“In recollection all former births passed before His eyes.
Born in such a place, of such a name, and downwards
to His present birth, so through hundreds, thousands,
myriads, all His births and deaths He knew.”
Ashvaghosha’s “Life of the Buddha”


When Socrates was facing his impending sentence of death, he was told there could be an optional, lesser sentence, should he choose to take it. Socrates argued his philosophy and angered his judges by accusing them of idiocy and commonality, which only added nails to the proverbial coffin.

As they handed down their harsh judgment, Socrates explained how murder at their hands was meaningless to him. Death had no terror; it was either perpetual rest or the chance of immortality – and even of communion with the great Greeks like Orpheus and Homer who had predeceased him. In such a happy case, he observed how one might wish to die and die again.
It need not matter to us that the Delphic Oracle is no more today, or that Orpheus and Homer may have been more than human, approaching mythical entities or elementals, even HGA’s.

The point is that Socrates was mocking his accusers in their own terms, saying in effect: I do not know for certain about death and the Gods – but I am as certain as I can be that you do not know, either.

This ends my rant on death, at least for now. nk