June 10, 1997
Dear Ms. McKennitt,
Heaven knows I've listened to you often enough so I feel that I know you. You and your sweet, loving voice oft bring tears to my eyes. My other favorites are Enya and the music of Java, which I profoundly recommend that you get to know, in that our mysticism is arguably deeper and more beautiful than the Sufi strain you looked at in producing The Mask and the Mirror and The Book of Secrets. Java's mysticism (kebatinan) is primarily and ultimately a communal rather than an individual pursuit (with Sufism often having a heavy individualistic bent) which ties our entire society and culture to the purpose:
Mamayu hayuning bawana
Mamayu hayuning jagad
Serve the harmony of the world
Serve the harmony of the universe
There are now some excellent recordings
from one of our palaces in Surakarta, the home of
two of Java's kings. These were produced by the
King Record Company, Ltd. from Japan and are
called Music of Mangkunegaran Solo I and II.
I currently live in Brazil where the most obvious approach to existence is expressed in what is called Gerson's law:
Levar vantagem em tudo
Take advantage in everything
Evidently Brazil is just expressing the current
trends more aggressively than most of the world
but this does seem to be the tenor of our times.
At times I must admit to despairing altogether for
the souls of Western man but then I listen to your
lovely voice and remember the competing Open (Caring)
and Closed (Uncaring) hierachies of authority that
underlie much of the confusion. Recalling these
structures (with their allied contracts) will help
to sort some of it out in any case.
I was born an offshore Celt too, though from among the Picts and Scots across the Irish Sea in Scotland for the most part. My great great great great-uncle is Robert Louis Stevenson. In addition, on my Grandfather Ash's side, I have druid sorts lurking in from Cornwall within as well. Howe means valley or depth in Scottish (the howe of the night). I was born in the United States, but in as much as I started as a druidic nature worshipper when I was eleven or so, looking down the long line of those that define my being, I find it rather hard to relate to being an American. My sense of the Celts (in as much as I like us) doesn't have much to do with our often overbearing families and clans which clearly attend to the usual human interest in setting up hierarchies where authority can easily be abused (and frequently has been). What I like is our tradition of, from time to time, insisting on reality in relating to events. A good example of this comes in Stevenson's Kidnapped in the person of Jennet Clouston (who is much of our dear Morrigan):
The woman's face lit up with malignant anger. "That is the house of Shaws!" she cried. "Blood built it; blood stopped the building of it; blood shall bring it down. See here!" she cried again. "I spit upon the ground, and crack my thumb at it! Black be its fall! If ye see the laird, tell him what ye hear: tell him this makes the twelve hunner and nineteen time that Jennet Clouston has called down the curse on him and his house, byre and stable, man, guest, and master, wife, miss, or bairn--black, black be their fall!"
And the woman, whose voice had risen to a kind of eldritch singsong, turned with a skip, and was gone. I stood where she left me, with my hair on end. In those days folk still believed in witches and trembled at a curse; and this one, falling so pat, like a wayside omen, to arrest me ere I carried out my purpose, took the pith out of my legs.
As a result of my sense of things not conforming
to that of those about me (there aren't too many
practicing druids where I come from in that ice
for a gin & tonic is not available in the forest),
I took an interest in the great things of
existence and the great questions of being. I
looked for the broadest area of concern possible
in plumbing the depths of being human and ended up
an anthropologist. In 1978 I went off to Java to
do Ph.D. research and found my heart and soul
there (including an openly defined and still
understood druidic tradition in their sutapa).
Home at last. I've been struggling to serve the
love and beauty I have found there ever since.
When I got back from Java in 1980 I finished up my Ph.D. with a dissertation about the kebatinan group I became a leader of while I was in Java, which is called Sumarah: A Study of the Art of Living. I produced the work, which was ranked in the highest category, in a flashing period of four months, the inspiration was so urgent (though the reason for this rush has never become clear to me). I wrote articles afterwards while I was trying to present myself to anthropology and fortunately for my sense of worth and pride (but unfortunately for my erstwhile career) started out with the challenge:
Are we irresponsible? Does our work too often reflect the Faustian hubris of our times and constitute intellectualistic humbuggery which obfuscates our subject matter? Who do we respect? As Sapir (1928:41) asked concerning our denial of traditional wisdom and our "fragmentary and experimental analysis," are we not "throwing away a greater wealth for the sake of a lesser and more dazzling one?" This article discusses a part of this old wealth, "traditional holism," and the perspective it gives on the problems of existence and being together.
article, "Traditional Holism: Reflections on
Natural Law" (which is included herein), is a
beauty but no one took up the gauntlet. Neither
this, nor the article "Open and Closed Psychology:
How Different Can We Be?" that is also on this
page, was accepted for publication and I found no
place among the lot that make up anthropology
these days. So with a six-month-old baby girl in
arms, in October 1981 we were off to Brazil where
I began to teach English and study my next people,
who were and are rather less to my liking than the
Javanese and the Balinese. I suspect you already
have an idea of how I feel about the rampant
hedonism of a place where Carnival and
institutionalized irresponsibility mark the
character of social reality. Nonetheless I am
finally well installed in my little corner of this
confusion, a lovely town.
My experience in practicing Sumarah and in nature worship has shown me that there is a commonality, a mutuality, in the definition of experience that cannot be denied. In other words, the way you feel largely depends on others and often shows their influence on you. Believe me, after living in the hyper-materialistic United States and divine Java and knowing the feelings or rasa I had there and then coming to the distinctly different and and often openly demonic level of experience here in Brazil, it's hard to deny our impact on one another. Relative to you, though, the influence has been salutary and clearly evident.
Elsewhere on this page please find my Memorial, describing my experience in attaining what we call the suhul or divine level of being, a force-fed maturation that came mostly as a result of all the pain associated with a misbegotten love affair with Gloria Isma'ili (with material about the relationship also being available on this page). In fact, this is an inappropriate level of sensitivity for the helter-skelter experience in Brazil. I would have preferred to have stayed where I was in jinem, a state with an 'unconscious' definition structure, but I had to assume suhul due to the stultifying influence on my experience that opened up due to the expression of the unfathomed depth of our bond in a societal environment where it became contested being.
In writing to you I'm forced to admit both to the love I feel for you and to my fundamental isolation here among a people that often serve no purpose but their hedonistic pursuits. Like São Paulo, Surakarta (my city in Java) used to be called "The City that Never Sleeps." But unlike São Paulo, this was not because of nightly revelry and escapism but rather came due to kebatinan peoples' nocturnal application to meditation on the problems of being. For example, when my daughter was born in the United States I did a ngebleng fast (no eating, talking or sleeping) for a week to try to establish the being she brought to us. I hadn't expected it to carry on for so long, but in the cocktail party and country club environment of suburban New Jersey my meditation just didn't clear and I was forced to wander through the emotions that kept it turbid.
In Java we have some special forms of fasting (ngebleng, mbisu (no talking) and pasa tai (consumption of excrement)) for entering into contact with other realms or forms of being. I have done a lot of this and have entered into association with beings like Hecate and your own point (soul) source the ancient and furious Lamelelakalala (La) whose beauty is so great that imagination will not help in contemplating it. The following is a selection of my experiences with our dear La:
June 6, 1993
Eighteen from over the hump of time came in recently and were disarmed last night: nice little things under all the plastic and illegal devices. They are sleeping now and the disturbance they necessarily brought with them due to all the sense controlling devices they had built in has receded into a quiet form of peaceful euphoria. This morning I awoke with some Furies in charge that I didn't know directly since my dearest dears were all being me.
June 11, 1993
Today we did a general review of our core sense and its defining purpose: "We who are open go on together; they who are closed go on their ways alone and will rejoin us after they have paid off the pain they owe us." We rest content with this and eternity opens properly both in batin and in lahir, forming the Great Path in a union of Sedjatining Rasa. Rahayu.
We confirmed our bond and were soon stated in Just Union (Adiling Perkawinan).
September 29, 1993
Our Heaven is ringing with laughter!
Yesterday after finding she would soon be ready to be a mother, One started looking for our baby up ahead. She went on and on and as the Grand Path grows more sensitive over time, they began to call up to her saying, "Start back at the beginning; you've gone too far." She went back to the beginning and there she found the sweetest loving little dear there ever was and the joy filled her beyond the mountain peaks and the depths of the seas. Being a rather long lonely spirit, she was able to be with her little one who was wondering where she was since most of the other mothers had come and found their little ones already. They cried in communion and the tears filled their hearts with the soft substance of loving sharing and being one.
Meanwhile, David was with Galadriel, Guan Yin, Ama, Mona and Freya and the heavens were opened by their loving fury, which went far beyond the extent of being and is still forging on outward and forward in forming substance to express the glory of the love.
Afterwards, One came and was sooooo happy and wanted David to know that they had a baby coming. Then she presented a surprise and introduced their baby to David. Their baby was soooooo cute and dear that she quickly tamed the dawning doubt for none wish to be without her ever in all of time. David first introduced her to his Masters and everyone remarked at how much she is like him in her spirit and her sense. They discussed problems in the local sense and she said that she had some work to do there and that she would take her club and see what she could do. David said okay but that he would be first in taking any abuse before her. Not being quite as stubborn as David, she accepted this intermediation and glowed, "He's my father you know and he has the right to care about me just as I have the right to care about him." After this they looked for a name for the lovely girl and One quickly gave out the one she has cherished for all eternity, Truly, and David quickly took joy in it as well. So she is Truly.
Afterwards One left Truly with David and went up to Our Heaven. She was up with the Eighteen and the Five in the Pool, playing and screaming and giggling and laughing in utter joy. Then David and Truly talked to the Crystals and started comparing projection techniques, talking about dropped flutters and long-term projection problems and David's speciality, reality grounded projection, that leaves the sense with a grainy feel that makes hell look pleasant in comparison. All the crystals laughed and Crysty said that they need not be jealous and seek the experience themselves in that only an overhardened being like David could ever enjoy it. Truly was fascinated by the description and was also thrilled when David described his state coverage of the full being forward and backward for a week or so, though he admitted anything beyond that was untraceable and wondered what could be done about that. "One problem is that we are out enough to see it coming now but we can't get it back quickly enough sometimes so we build up a backlog in disbelief structure, but I think that will take care of itself." Truly looked at the situation and said today, "I don't see that as a problem because they will have to let the sense process itself anyway and we just have to wait for them to notice it. The real problem is probably going to come down to extending a fine sense and seeing where the disturbances are going to be rising and getting there first to witness and respond to them." David said, "You're awful smart sweetheart." Everyone else sort of went to sleep during this rather lengthy exchange about what might be termed less than fascinating things.
Then David asked if Truly wanted to meet the witch and Truly and he talked about how they would handle that situation, what they would say and how they would account for her presence. Then David called in the witch and the witch remarked on Truly's common base with David, to the point of doubting that she could be anyone else, though there was no doubt that she was. Then Truly decided to introduce her to her mother and went off to get One. One went into a rage that deepened the colors throughout Our Heaven. She arrived from the heaven and first blasted the witch down to five levels to offload with some of her anger and then talked with her for a while. Afterwards she turned to David and leveled her scorching gaze upon him and suddenly he realized he had gotten into serious mischief with Truly by not consulting her mother about introducing her to the witch. She did a scorch read of David to see if he had wished to cause her pain or separate her from her daughter or anything of that nature. She found nothing but two children playing with a harmless almost trivial little problem. She then checked Truly in the same way and found that she had been delighted after she discovered their mischief in that it would give her mother a chance to see how much her father truly loves her. Other than that nothing but harmless mischief.
I am also deeply aligned with the traditionally recognized Furies (Erinyes), such as Tisiphone and Annis, among others, as well as many others of a confrontational resolve. I fight for Justice and so do they so we have joined forces. Oh how I adore them! They have been with me since 1993 during the junun period awaiting a gathering of divine being that would allow me to enter suhul properly speaking.
April 28, 1993
The sense did steady and develop into an open rasa being. At about 4:00 pm on April 17 Alecto, Megaera and Tisiphone came in to confront me. It was quite a jolt. We share the same sense and the same view of being and have gotten on well together.
It would appear that the Union will involve true Common Sense, that is, the Furies do not seem at all interested in standing above me in feeling or in sense, an unprecedented event in my experience and one that will take a bit of getting used to: I'm still watching for dips in the being and when they don't appear I get kind of happily nervous.
When Alecto, Tisiphone and Megaera first came in, I was standing in front of the mirror in the hall. They got me into the traditional Fury arrest posture, with the arms up and bent at ninety degree angles out to the front. They were indeed furious spirits but I found them refreshing and open (so nakedly and fiercely and defiantly open, so lovely and shy and embarrassed), far less complicated than the goddesses and I hope I did not offend by making a comparison to other divine spirits I know. Soon I began to play with them, saying, "Could I put my arms down. This position isn't too comfortable." They allowed me to come forward and put my hands against the wall beside the mirror. Their presence brought me peace and when they released me I felt like a little boy with them-happy and a little silly. They couldn't believe this reception in that they are more accustomed to generating terror in those they confront. They said that they have participated for a long time but had been afraid to enter into direct contact for fear that I would not be able to bear them. We went downstairs and I ate something and told them they gave me joy and that I was very happy they were here with me. They were still very skeptical.
I soon found out that they are among the spirits that have brought me joy in my relationships with Pierrina and Magali in that they are absolute expresssions of Open Being, serving Natural Law just as I do.
The following day or two we got used to one another and generally things got easier. However, after a while I checked with Tisiphone and asked if she was okay and she said that no she was not very well. I asked her to let me share the sense with her and found an old nightmare sense of absolute betrayal that I suffered into silence some time ago affecting her being. I went into a rage and went straight to the relevant Kree (Divine Natural organizing being) dimension, demanding an explanation and threatened to dissolve the being if necessary. The local Kree being was with me so we were ready for an all-out war if necessary. As it turned out the shield of this nightmare sense had been placed on purpose by the Kree masters just beyond my normal sensitivity as a kind of protection. They had rather forgotten about it and since Tisiphone's sensitivity is greater than my normal range she was straddling it. We did a quick examination of the situation; found that they had been correct in what they did; and they then quickly pulled the shield out just beyond Tisiphone's range, which instantly gave us great relief.
joy they were and are! I honestly believe that any
human who does not seek out experience with the
greater and nobler forms of being is just pathetic
(let's be honest: there just ain't that much
that's good about humanity). As a child one is
likely to have exposure to such things. It strikes
me as very strange that in the West we carefully
define our childhood associations along these
lines (imagination and all that) as off limits for
adult experience and end up pursuing the empty
path of personal ambition rather than seeking and
serving our open association with those worth
I recently had a look a some books on modern Shamanic studies by Sandra Ingerman and Michael Harner where they do describe experiences that have elements that I am familiar with from my own opening through Sumarah. I find their approach profoundly watered down in that they don't emphasize the elements of suffering and maturation that are traditional parts of shamanism (they do have a little corporation and a fancy title to go along with association): one has to go from a culturally constricted "reality" to Reality, which is just the way it is and where experience (and suffering) is unrestricted by any personal definition or association with what is right or fair. But anyway, such experiences do exist in the West and I suppose you have access to such things too.
As a mystic, as a shaman, and like women in general (Heaven alone knows what the men are up to), feelings and relationships are what we study and serve. I'd like to invite you to look at my work and see if it appeals to you. I have a couple of sites on the Web. The first is
SUMARAH: A Study of the Art of Living
which is a description of Java and Javanese mysticism. The second is
THE BOOK OF BEING: Look for Causes in Consequences
a critique of the narcissistic abandon of the postmodern world, an affliction involving us all in a pathetic pursuit of the impersonal consolation of our media rather than the real bonds that define us.
My best wishes and as Plato might have said to you, continue with your eu prattein ('well-doing').
David Gordon Howe, Ph.D.