Showing posts from 2020


Some information that’s out there but should be on the front page of every media outlet. The top one is Vitamin D , which ‘supports the immune system through a number of pathways’ An anti-heartburn medicine :  ‘She had tested positive for COVID-19 and developed a fever. Her lips became dark blue from hypoxia. She took her first megadose of oral famotidine on 28 March. The next morning, her fever broke and her oxygen saturation returned to a normal range. Five sick co-workers, including three with confirmed COVID-19, also showed dramatic improvements after taking over-the-counter versions of the drug, according a spreadsheet of case histories Tuveson shared with Science. Many COVID-19 patients recover with simple symptom-relieving medications, but Tuveson credits the heartburn drug. “I would say that was a penicillin effect,” he says.’ Nicotine: ‘There are biologically plausible pathways through which nicotine may impact SARS-CoV-2, but the clinical significance of these is entirely unc

Covid-19 thoughts from July Newsletter

COVID THOUGHTS Above - examples of what happens when your government is too brutal or stupid to care. Or both.  Meanwhile in the UK, we now have  stealth-eugenics:  ' Unlawful do not resuscitate orders imposed on people with learning disabilities .' This takes the policy of encouraging disabled people to kill themselves by stopping their benefits a step further. I mean, when I was a youth we were as bad as Rick in 'The Young Ones' for calling everything we didn’t like ‘fascist’. It’s no longer an exaggeration. Only those with their eyes squeezed tight shut can fail to see that we've  already  stumbled into fascism. Arm yourselves with magic my friends!!!

COVID-19 events from May Newsletter

For my Rune-Magic online workshop on 8th May I did a divination on the progress of the pandemic in the British Isles. It was a 3-rune reading, and the staves I got were Isa, Eihwaz and Kenaz. I found this to be very clear: death and lockdown, and the timescale suggested is till next Winter. In other words, it will be the end of next winter, early next year, before this pandemic has run its course.  WHAT'S WORKING? So, what is best practice now we've some evidence in? Sweden 's no-lockdown approach is  proving a complete disaster .   The coun try that's done  best so far is  Vietnam . ' Despite a long border with China and a population of 97 million people, Vietnam has recorded only just over 300 cases of Covid-19 on its soil and not a single death.' Their method included a rigorous lockdown early on, and then tracing contact s for th ose who turn up with symptoms.  The UK's  late lockdown is a dismal failure. We had the third-highest daily

COVID AND WORLD EVENTS from April Newsletter

As you may have noticed, there's some pretty strange stuff happening.  For a start, check  this  out, a self-reorganisation of the US states:  ‘Speaking on MSNBC, Governor Gavin Newsom said that he would use the bulk purchasing power of California “as a nation-state” to acquire the hospital supplies that the federal governmen t has failed to provide. If all goes according to plan, Newsom said, California might even “export some of those supplies to states in need.”  He said 'nation state'; that's maybe a sign of things to come. Other regional coalitions are forming too.  UBI :  Guy Standing writing  for  The Idler: 'A modest basic income is definitely affordable. Think of the billions being poured into the financial markets. Think of the fact that every year the Treasury operates over 1,100 forms of tax reliefs that favour higher-income groups to the tune of over £400 billion, according to the government’s own figures. As shown elsewhere, there is no need to r

My Mumufication

My passport to the afterlife in the People's Pyramid arrived a couple of weeks ago. When I die, (which I’m not planning to do in the near future) a sample of my ashes will be placed in the hole in the middle of the brick, the brick re-fired and then used in the building of a People’s Pyramid in Toxteth, Liverpool. I considered getting a berth for my ashes in a modern longbarrow such as this one . But as much as I love the long barrows, having done a few nights of exceptional magick in West Kennett, it feels as though that boat sailed about 4,000 years ago. At that time, my bones would have been buried under the floor of a chamber in which my kin would have danced and sung through the night of Midwinter, inhaling psychoactive herbs off of hot rocks. They would have emerged at dawn, renewed, ecstatic, their covenant with our ancestors renewed and completed for one more year.   No such option exists today, so instead my remains will become part of an art project, in an urban

Covid Special 2 from Chaotopia Newsletter

This is the Covid part of my last newsletter. You can sign up at COVID-19 THOUGHTS AND NEWS . No two days are the same. I brought forward the date of this newsletter because it's all shifting so fast, so there's no shortage of necessary new thoughts to fill these pages. I don't think I ever truly expected to see times like these, when the irreversability of the flow of human life is so obvious, when there is no turning back to what went before. None of what follows pretends to completeness. SPRING HOME BREW An old family recipe for the Spring: how to make Dire drink .   SOCIAL DISTANCING Be Like Odin, by Matthew Frederick (@putmyspellonyou) SCIENCE Last newsletter I featured a tune composed from the DNA sequence of the coronavirus. Now people are doing something similar with the virus's protein structure, and for a different purpose. Audio sequences are helping scientists get their heads round the complexit

Claude Lecouteux - Demons and Spirits of the Land

Image Lecouteux is a deep scholar who is interested in the mysteries, principally the European stream. I've read another of his books, The Tradition of Household Spirits, which was very interesting but quite different to this one. I never had a sense with that other book of his having a thesis, a particular thing to prove. In this book, he has: the way that numinous experiences of the natural world are the bases of gods, and that the layer closest to this cultural process is where we find spirits of the land. He then traces how they got mutated, particularly by Christian theology, into demons. Those of you who have wondered at such beings as elves and the various forms they are portrayed in will have some of their curiosity satisfied by Lecouteux's demonstrations of how such terms changed in meaning over the time of the Christian occupation. But it is in the cultural layers prior to this that he mak

From the March 2020 Chaotopia Newsletter Covid Special

I thought I'd republish this in my blog, so it's there for those who don't get my newsletter. ************* Welcome to Chaotopia in the season of plague. And thank you, all you readers, for signing up and reading these newsletters. It's gratifying to know that people find them worthwhile. In this issue you'll get more than the usual one-paragraph intro, and the lower sections cover things from more than two weeks ago, that are already part of another world. Here are some thoughts and a few resources I've gathered. I'm no youngster but this is a new and unique experience for me. The other plagues I've lived through, such as the early stages of HIV/AIDS, affected friends tragically, but this is the first one that's threatened everyone. Things really have changed; there's no going back to the old world. PLAGUE WARTIME When I was a child my parents used to say how much they missed the solidarity and community spirit of the war years.

An old Spring drink

When I was a kid one of the things I loved about April-May was the drink my mum made. A golden-brown liquid, fizzy and sweet and a little murky with yeast. She would pack me up a small glass bottle of it for me to take to school. Just as much, I loved collecting the ingredients. It'd be a family outing on the weekend, to somewhere the London suburbs started turning into countryside. We'd look for the four herbs, two of which were very familiar, one less so and one I'd never heard of till mum showed it me. Goosegrass Then there was the fragrant cooking up of all this greenery in a massive pan with the sugar and then the yeast, baker's yeast from the bakery spread on a slice of toast and floated on top of the lukewarm liquid. A couple of days later, it was bottled and left in the cupboard to fizz up a few more days. Mum called it Dire, and had different names for two of the herbs, names from her Northampton village. What I later learned was generally called Goo

Practical Neurology in the Home: Hacking The Default Mode Network

These thoughts come from a conversation with Mike Parker, a qualified Solutions Focused Therapist and originator of Liminal Coaching. In the course of discussing depression and his work we got into what the DMN is about. We are not neuroscientists, but two people whose background is in articulating personal experience and the technologies that we've found useful for navigating the immensity and weirdness of being human. Most of the opinions expressed below are from Mike. If you suffer from depression, you'll be unpleasantly familiar with the experience of depressive rumination, a state where you tell yourself bad things about yourself and the world and can't stop doing so. If you consume neuroscience interpretations, it's not hard to get the impression that there's a level organization in the brain that is responsible for depressive rumination, that you have a villain in your head.  This level of neural organization has been called the Default Mode Network.

A Crown of Runes and other books by P. D. Brown

P D Brown is an accomplished poet, storyteller and runestone-carver, whose recorded stories are available here . His published poetry includes The Hidden Door . This is a collection of retellings of Old Norse tales; many will be familiar to those who love the Eddas, but you've probably never read them in carefully-constructed modern English that echoes the atmosphere of the original poems. As he writes in the blurb: 'These retellings are in part prose, in a style of the spoken voice, for they were first composed to be told from memory to live audiences. The rest is narrative poetry, echoing the original use of verse-craft and "painting with the gift of speech".' Last year he sent me his collection A Crown of Runes . The introduction contains a very brief guide to the three main historical rune rows, and an explanation of the title. The poems in this book follow the Anglo-Saxon futhorc, so they are 33 in number. They are all in sonnet form, which consist

Philosophical Foundations of Neuroscience by M. R. Bennett and P. M. S. Hacker

This book was written by a neuroscientist and a philosopher. I am qualified in neither of those disciplines, so I can't give it a full specialist review. But it was written for the non-philosophical public, especially neuroscientists. I'm sure I'm not on my own in consuming interpretations of neuroscience, so here's my two penn'orth. Much of what scientists say about neuroscience is highly dubious; that's what this book is about - unpicking the meaningless statements that experts have made. The philosophy author, Dr Hacker, is a specialist in Wittgenstein-style analysis of statements and claims, and he is trying to return the interpretation of neuroscientific data to the terms of lived human experience, so that it actually makes sense in plain English. I've thought for a long time that there's a lot of nonsense in what are presented as the 'findings' of neuroscience. We get headlines such as 'yes it's true we really do (eg - '

Jeffrey Kripal's The Flip: Epiphanies of Mind and the Future of Knowledge

In about 1980 one of Robert Anton Wilson's books, I forget which, had a cartoon in it, of a hippie juxtaposed against a scientific looking type. The caption was: Hey man, are you only using half your brain? As an acidhead with a science degree, I liked this; it was part of the drama of early chaos magic, or at least that's how I saw what we were doing, combining the rigour of science with openness to magical experience. For too long, people had either been space cadets who'd believe any old flim-flam, as long as it had shiny bits and rainbows on it, or 'hard-headed' science types, who rejected anything they couldn't measure. So when I picked this book up (as the result of listening to Kripal interviewed by Gordon White), I was already someone who'd been there, done that and worn out the t-shirt decades before. And I wasn't much impressed with the first couple of chapters, in which he writes about various scientists who'd gone through some epiph