The Pagan Path

Those who wonder are not lost; they are trying to awaken! 'The Sleeper must awaken!'

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

'Social Distancing'; What the Actual Hell!

Before  I begin my 'rant', I want to make two things absolutely clear; I realize that I'm not going to make any friends by writing this & I'm not at all advocating unsafe or unhealthy practices, 'social' or otherwise! That said; let's begin..................

This is NOT just about the 'coronavirus'! Let that sink in............................... There is more at stake here than mere longevity of human life. If my readers are wondering what the hell I mean by that; I will readily admit that much of what you're about to read ( if you so choose ) strays into that shady grey area often termed 'conspiracy theory'! It goes without saying that there IS something to this 'virus', though one might well wonder if it is worthy of the 'hype' surrounding it! Okay, so while there might be a bit more to it, scientifically speaking ( depending on who's speaking ), a 'coronavirus' is basically no different than 'the common cold' ( 'rhinovirus' ). 'Conspiracy theorists' have targeted, among other things, the advent of the formidable '5G' as one of the main causes behind, not just the spread of this 'novel' coronavirus, but the very genesis of the dis-ease itself! The statement has been made that this particular 'virus' was first 'hatched', then released by a 'bio-weapons facility' in Wuhan, China, whether in response to trade embargoes, or some such other terrorist plot. Though this may be a bit overmuch, one has to wonder if there isn't something to this 'theory; in which case, we should exercise greater care! However, as there is no actual 'proof' of this sinister plot, while we SHOULD exercise great care, neither should we give into 'the Fear Factor' like so much of our great nation ( in particular ) seems to have done!

This post is NOT about 'Covid-19'!  Whatever one may think about the novel coronavirus that is currently running its course through some parts of our world, as a wise man once said, 'there is nothing to fear but Fear itself'! This is not at all to say that there is no cause for concern here, for there is MUCH to be concerned about, least of all, the health hazards involved in mere exposure to this 'virus', especially for those with an already compromised immune system. To those with a healthy immune system, there is really no more to be concerned about, in my opinion, than the care one should exercise anyway, when dealing with such health issues!  'As above, so below'; the more important matter at hand is not the 'coronavirus' itself, but what it is doing to our world, or rather, the travesty that is being 'foisted' on our world through means of it! Simply by saying 'through means of it'; it should be clear that, 'conspiracy theory' be damned, there is more, much More, going on than what first meets the eye ( it does not take much to realize how adept the governments of this world are at 'sleight-of-hand' )! Given this somewhat alarming fact, should we then join the majority of our fellow citizens & continue to spread the Fear as if we are spreading the 'virus' itself; 'are we contributing to the cause of this dis-ease'?!'

'Dis-ease' ( most often without the 'dash' ) is popularly defined as, 'a disorder of structure or function in a human, animal, or plant,'. Ultimately, it speaks of something that makes us, as a person, uneasy,' in essence, at 'dis-ease'! In that case, there is much in this world of ours, of daily occurrence, that puts us at 'dis-ease', or at least 'it should'!  Something that jumps to MY mind, humanly speaking, is of course, the abortion issue. This terrible issue happens to be the 'pet peeve' of many of our ( older ) generation, though it affects the younger 'generation' as well. Abortion, though, is not the main issue! Though it IS an important one, the main issue is one of 'the heart' ( 'from which come the issues of life' )! 'The Heart of the Issue' is where it all begins: when we have dis-ease in our 'hearts', it spreads like a virus to the rest of our body! By 'the heart', of course, I'm simply referring to the individual soul, that which, as human beings, makes us 'tick'. The True 'Heart' of the issue is that most people have forgotten who they really are! We are More than human beings; at our very Core, we are an inseparable part of the Collective Divine! Without getting into the cosmology of it all, we have, in the majority, forgotten that & so limited ourselves to simply being human, 'eating, sleeping & shitting'
( 'working' should be in there somewhere ) as the 'sheeple' we have been trained to be!

For 'sheeple', 'doing what we're told' is not even questionable! Oh sure, we 'LOVE' to complain about our misery, but when it comes down to it, 'that's just the way it is'; 'we can't change it, so why fight it?' Right? Wrong! Our first mistake, as individual souls ( human beings ), is forgetting that we ARE the Masters of our own  Destiny! As individuals, we ALWAYS have a Choice; 'Act or React'. We can either Act in Love, knowing who we are & where we're going, or we can React to the Fear, not knowing who we are, trusting to some benevolent ( or NOT ) Force outside of ourselves, leaving our Destiny & thus our overall health, in someone else's Hands. Now, before anyone has a 'hissy-fit', I'm not saying that to React to the Fear is in itself necessarily a bad thing; being assailed by Fear has become constituent ( though not necessary ) with being human! Again, we have a choice; 'HOW do we React to the Fear that assaults us on a daily basis ( especially in these turbulent times )?' We can choose to flounder in 'the Pit of Despair', giving in to the Fear, or we can choose to 'rise above it all', remembering Who we really are, that we are More than this Biology, More than Mere Humanity!

Being More than human means that 'we do NOT have to do what we're told!' ( 'shocking', I know, right?! ) 'SHOULD we do as we're told?' That depends on what we're told! Speaking from personal experience, even if we're told to do what is 'right & good', the tendency is often to do the exact opposite, though our natural inclination is to do what is 'right & good' ( I'm SUCH a rebel! )! However, if we're told to do something that we feel is wrong ( 'immoral' ), even if we're told it's for the 'right' reasons ( 'greater good', or some such bullshit ), we SHOULD NOT, DO NOT have to do it; 'as above, so below', there is ALWAYS a Choice!

At the risk of sounding negative, the dis-eaase which unnaturally resides within the human ( individual ) soul quickly spreads to the biological marvel they inhabit! Because we feel in our 'heart of hearts' that we are not doing what is 'right & good', because we have become 'sheeple', doing what we're told, rather than what we KNOW to be Just & True, we are thus conflicted, not only having forgotten WHO we are, but what IS Just & True! This 'dis-ease', or 'unease' can only be 'cured' by remembering Who we are & that What we are is Justice & Truth Itself! No vaccine will ever cure what ails us! It may for a time alleviate our symptoms, but it will NEVER bring us lasting peace from our dis-ease. No outside source, for that matter, can do so; as above, so below', the genesis of Truth is within, NOT without. Like any drug, what comes from outside ourselves only treats the symptoms; it cannot heal the disease; THAT comes from Within!

Namaste' & Blessed Be,
Charles Haddon Shank

Sunday, March 22, 2020

The Fourth Horseman Rides Again; the Fear Factor

'Again; I am not a scientist!' The best or worst I, or any of us can do is to do our research, taking the word of those who are accredited scientists, or else, those we trust who have, in their turn, done their research. From what I have heard, this particular 'coronavirus' ( COVID-19 ) is a bit more insidious than the 'normal' flu virus we are used to. Without trying to get into all the intricacies of the virus, unless we are scientists ourselves, we seem to have no choice but to take 'their' word for it: either way, we have a choice, give into the Fear Factor, or not. We should take necessary precautions, yes, but 'shouldn't we be doing that anyway?' ( especially around this time of year )

'No, I'm NOT saying there is nothing to be concerned about', that if we can somehow get past the fear, it ( 'coronavirus' ) won't affect us - like as not, some who are now exhibiting flu-like symptoms are infected, if not with the 'terrifying' COVID-19, with some form of the coronavirus. Taking the necessary precautions, such as doing what we can to keep up our immune system, washing our hands as often as we feel is necessary & generally staying away from large crowds, especially if there is much coughing or sneezing & sniffling going on, are several ways to safe-guard against contracting  anything, much less the 'dreaded' coronavirus ( COVID-19 ). 'Should we be worried, though, about what may come?' 'If we worry about it, does that necessarily mean that we've given in to the 'Fear Factor'?' Well, actually, 'yes'! Worry causes stress & stress is one of the biggest causes, if not the biggest cause, of dis-ease! One doesn't have to be a scientist to know that stress weakens the immune system. It's been proven to cause heart conditions ( palpitations, etc. ) When we stress about certain factors, the factors themselves, real or imagined, tend to become a reality. This would explain much of what is going on in the world today!

'Fear or Faith', especially among Christians, has become somewhat of a catch-phrase. During times like this, in particular, the tendency is to Fear, whether it's the impending demise of our humanity or the unknown ( ? ). Faith ( whether in Someone or Something outside themselves to save/protect them, or in their own ability, as far as that goes, to protect/save themselves )  is not necessarily the opposite of Fear. Faith, at its most basic, is belief. If one believes that this or that 'God' will protect them, it can be rather comforting, but on the other hand, to have that same faith in one's own ability to protect themselves, while it can also bring a certain level of comfort, it can bring an almost overwhelming sense of responsibility as well!

In this day & age, particularly here in the good ole' U. S. of A., the majority of Americans don't seem to do very well with responsibility. Take the seat belt law, for instance, How much sense does it take to wear a seat-belt if you're traveling at 70mph at night through an area known to be populated by deer ( or other wildlife )? For that matter, how smart IS it to be traveling at 70mph through an area known to be populated by deer?! Speed limits themselves are another proposition. The list could go on, but the point IS, the reason we have such 'laws' is that so many have given up their responsibilities. With responsibility, of course, comes freedom, or rather, vice versa; so then, when responsibility is given over to someone else, the federal government, for instance, freedom naturally follows!

Coming full circle, so to speak, how much sense does it take to exercise the usual precautions? We should be washing our hands, keeping our immune system up, etc., etc. anyway, but especially during 'flu season'! Because of the carelessness of people ( AKA, 'irresponsibility' ), we have what we now see, not only throughout the 'civilized' world, but in our own country. Not only is the CDC telling us what we can/should or can't/shouldn't do, but some areas of our own country are seeing indications of martial law! Certain other countries are in even worse situations. Intercontinental traffic, to whatever extent, has pretty much been stalled & there has even been talk of closing borders. We're hearing of mandatory vaccinations & some businesses are being forced to close up shop. All because of irresponsibility: if people would simply exercise responsibility themselves ( which some do, to whatever extent ), we most likely wouldn't be seeing the federal government taking the measures they are, or even the spread of the 'coronavirus' itself!

As before, conspiracy theories abound as to how this virus 'escaped'! One such story is that it came from eating an incorrectly cooked bat ( ? ). One might hear phrases like 'biological warfare' being bandied around! However this viral outbreak came about; the actuality of it is that what is happening because of it & the natural Fear it engenders around the world has brought much of the business world to a veritable standstill. Though this might prove to be devastating to financial markets around the world ( it's already had quite an effect ), the overall effect that it will likely have on the world's economies, to say nothing of our own, could in fact be beneficial.

With quarantine, mandatory or not, families are almost being forced to interact with each other! Yes, Facebook feeds ( (Instagram, etc. ) are still being blown up - my own feed, for a while, was at least 90% taken up by some sort of 'coronavirus' news or joke - but many people are taking refuge, not in work, but in each other. The effects of this 'outbreak', depending on one's overall health, may be detrimental, especially to the elderly, but in spite of this unsettling fact, they may, in actuality, positively affect personal responsibility.

'As above, so below'; the heartening realization that we are More than simple human beings, itself will bring an amazing degree of Freedom! Although the effects this novel 'coronavirus' might have on our human biology are definitely a concern, the Fear of losing oneself is no longer there. Since we are not just biological machines, the very notion that any mere 'virus' could kill US is rendered ineffectual. WE cannot be affected by this, or any other 'virus'! All they can do is kill the body, they cannot kill the 'soul'!

Again, since WE are in this biology for a reason, let's take reasonable care of our biological vehicles. Whatever one may think of their reason for being here ( or not ), if we begin to exercise more responsibility for our own actions ( health, etc ), Freedom will surely follow. With Freedom comes Responsibility & so, with the exercise of Responsibility, comes Freedom. Freedom puts Fear out the window, so to speak & vice versa. When Fear is not present, Freedom flows!

Namaste' & Blessed Be!
Charles Haddon Shank

Saturday, March 14, 2020

The Intentional Observer

Joe Smith was not your average..............well, 'Joe'! He had learned, in his relatively short life that to simply react to any given situation usually only made matters worse. By simply allowing other people to reap their own negative karma rather than trying to save them from themselves or worse yet, creating his own negative karma, Joe knew that it was best to just 'let it be'; to merely observe without judgement or even unnecessary concern; 'let the chips fall where they may', so to speak, allowing what he could not control to just 'happen' & focusing on what he could control. Joe had become what most people would call a 'nice guy'; so much so, in fact, that many perceived him to be quite naive, even 'simple',  As perceptions go, this was not a 'bad' one ( 'is there such a thing?'); Joe was arguably pretty 'simple'. Unlike the overwhelming majority of people in his little corner of paradise, Joe was learning that the more one simply allows life to 'happen' & to be what it is, not overly concerning ( worrying? ) oneself about whether this or that is 'wrong' or 'right', things seem to go a lot smoother with a lot less ( if any! ) stress!

Joe had a problem. Well, to be honest, most everybody else had a problem, but they tried like hell to make it Joe's problem! Since he had begun to simplify his life by one, not allowing things to get to him & two, by simply observing ( without judgement ) the actions of those around him, Joe had become somewhat of a pariah to certain people. Because he did not react to any given situation like THEY thought he should, Joe seemed to have become one of THOSE people, one who barely, if at all, registered on their collective radar. As it happened, Joe really didn't mind too much, as the energies of many of those 'certain' people did not match his own & quite frankly, bored the hell out of him!

It happened one day......................................Okay, this happened quite often; people seemed to enjoy getting in Joe's face. Before he learned not to instinctively act, to curb his Ego & to center himself before acting, Joe had been used to reacting to the actions of those around him, almost without thinking sometimes. After much 'trial & error', Joe realized that HE was the problem, not THEM. The more he reacted to their actions, which were often 'just' ( ? ) words, the more the perceived problem was exacerbated & more often than not, Joe ended up at ground level ( literally or figuratively ) looking up at both the sky & his 'accuser'! On this particular day, though, having figured at least this much out, Joe's 'accuser' had really backed him into a corner! Using Joe's 'simpleness', even accusing him of being a 'simpleton' ( or worse ) his accuser was not giving up so easily this time, determined to get a reaction out of him. As so often happened, when Joe simply responded with a smile & turned to walk away, he waited for the jolt from behind, which usually meant that his accused had fired off one last parting shot!

The shot that Joe had become so accustomed to never came. Joe never even turned around, in fact, he never even paused in his walking away, but he could feel the shift in energy behind him. This particular accuser had begun to understand as Joe was. Although this person still attempted to bother Joe every so often, they had begun to realize that, not only was Joe quickly losing interest, but it really wasn't as fun trying to get his goat as they had originally believed! As the days went by, this person made fewer & fewer attempts, till finally, Joe realized this 'energy had begun to change to the point where they could actually hold an intelligent conversation............................well, at least tolerate each other's company!

As Joe continued along his path, he began to notice that, strangely enough, it wasn't just this person or that one making fewer attempts to create problems for him! Of course, as he was figuring out ( he still had his 'issues' ), THEY weren't the ones creating the problems. The more he realized this & put that realization to the test, the more 'others' seemed to be realizing the same! Joe began to feel a calmness he had never known; not only was his life so much easier without the added stress of worrying about other people's actions, it would seem that he was spreading the joy!

The path that Joe had begun to ascend on WAS simple! Once he had learned that it was much better to observe without judgement, acting as he would without harming the other; Joe was able to live his life in relative peace. Oh, he still had his issues, don't get me wrong; 'every rose has its thorns', but overall, he was quickly learning that the more he practiced his new mantra, the more others were taking note & if not following suit, at least leaving him the fuck alone!

Joe was NOT a 'nice' guy! In fact, many people, meeting him for the first time thought him to be rather aloof, 'stand-offish', or even just plain 'a jerk'! Some even took his lack of pride, or Ego as something less than 'normal' ( whatever the hell that is! ), like he was a few sandwiches short of a picnic, so to speak. But those that knew him knew different! To know Joe was to love Him! He was not a saint ( whatever the hell that means! ), by any stretch of the imagination, but he knew enough not to respond in kind, unless it were kindness. Of course, he also knew enough not to count on that kindness, but he still practiced kindness wherever he went!

Getting to the moral of the Story, if Moral there be; be like Joe; 'spread that shit everywhere'! Even if you don't see an immediate return, keep at it! People may not, in fact, most likely WILL not, always return your kindness, but you WILL have planted a seed & with the right care, that seed will one day burst into new Life ( either that, or it will kill them )!

Namaste' & Blessed Be!
Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, March 09, 2020

The Fourth Horseman?

I hate politics! I'm referring, of course, to the corruptibility of politics & the way that they have, in modern times especially, become so tainted by selfishness & avarice. Politics is really not my cup of tea anyway, since government should be an individual thing, not one ( elite ) group of individuals telling another group ( usually larger ) how they should or should not act, how they may or may not live. To make matters worse, we have the Major News Media assaulting our eyes & ears on a daily basis, reinforcing the scare tactics used by the government of these United States to keep its citizens under their thumb. When I say 'scare tactics', I do not mean to discount or downplay the very real dangers involved in the ignorance or disobedience of whatever bullshit is going on currently. Speaking of the MNM, much or most of what we digest on the 'news' daily is likely blown out of proportion, though, as intimated, there is some amount of truth to it!

So we come to the latest threat, the dreaded 'coronavirus'! Again, this is not to say there is nothing to it, that it IS just a 'threat', so whether one believes the MNM or the 'real news' to be garnered from the internet, or whether one believes all the hype or not, it can't hurt to exercise great care when it comes to the possible contraction of it. According to this article, the common cold is fairly closely related to the coronavirus, both viruses affecting the upper respiratory system of mammals ( sometimes the gut ). Apparently, one could almost say that the common cold, or 'rhinovirus' falls under the umbrella of 'coronavirus', although the latter can lead to more serious illnesses such as SARS or MERS, for example. Some may find it interesting that this latest outbreak, simply called the 'Corona Virus' or even 'Kung Flu', originated in China, as did SARS. Interesting as well, to tie politics into the equation, is that the last number of 'outbreaks' seem to almost directly coincide with presidential elections of the past few decades!

So far, the most recent 'outbreaks' have apparently been devastating to some major financial markets & may even prove to be inFLUential in this years presidential election! In fact, there is a meme currently making its rounds on the internet right now which shows a direct correlation between the last number of presidential elections & the last number of 'outbreaks' that have gone viral. says this is false & generally misleading; so it may be, but keep in mind that is known to be fairly liberal ( whatever the hell that means ) when it comes to politics, so one should take all this with a grain of salt. However one chooses to process this information ( fact or fiction? ); it should be clear as mud that something sinister is going on here! As suggested, some have perceived a conspiracy behind, especially the most recent 'outbreaks' & whether this is true or not, it IS rather interesting that these 'outbreaks' are not far ahead of the 'vaccine' to cure or even prevent them altogether!

Yes, you guessed it; personally speaking, I AM one of those 'anti-vac' guys!  My personal opinion, which I have been working on NOT voicing, is that vaccines, for the past several decades ( up to 6-8 ), are much, if not most of the problem. Since Big Pharma began to show its true colors, both regular medicine ( medications ) & vaccines have been proven to be as bad as, if not worse than, the disease itself! Okay, so that may be a bit harsh & maybe a bit mislead ( misinformed? ), but how many medications on the market today, whether advertised on TV or radio, show a list of side effect roughly twice as long ( or more ) as the proposed benefits?! Whether or not these 'outbreaks' are engineered or not, there is no doubt that they have become a very real, or at least 'perceived' threat & should be taken seriously, especially if one must deal with the general public on a daily basis. However, the fear generated by these threats need not be, being based in this physicality, or biology!

Yes, when one gets right down to it, the heart of the matter, so to speak, this IS about the fact that we are More than this biology, this physicality! WE should not live in fear of what may happen to this biological machine! 'As above, so below'; yes, we should take them seriously, taking such precautions as are feasible in order not to contract this or any disease, but we should not worry about them to the point of joining in mass hysteria. Yes, wash your hands as often as is necessary, exercise caution when in large groups ( especially in public places ) & over all, try to eat as healthy as you can & live as cleanly as possible, but, on the other hand, these are things we should be doing anyway, right?!

When I discount 'Big Pharma', I do not mean to imply that all the scientists, all the 'worker bees' are 'in on it'! Probably the majority of them have good intentions for what they're doing. Right or wrong, they're trying to do their job to the best of their ability & seriously wracking their brains to come up with a cure for the common cold, or even for the various forms of cancer out there. This is not either to say that the benefits to the various medications, yes, even vaccines do not sometimes outweigh the alternative, just that when it comes to the big, faceless corporations known as 'Big Pharma', the 'bottom line' seems to outweigh ( by far sometimes ) the search for a 'cure'. Again, though, since we ARE More than this biology, we should know & rest in the fact that it is not so much what we put into our bodies that brings either health or disease, but how healthy or diseased we are in our very soul!

The individual soul, or the heart of the matter, determines whether we, as human beings, will manifest our fear in the form of disease, or whether we will live fearlessly ( though we take necessary precautions ), manifesting the Health that we inherently are. By saying that we are Health Itself, I do not mean that, as human beings, we are inherently healthy ( though that could be argued ), for this biological machine is prone to much dis-ease, especially when we forget Who we are, or otherwise neglect our physical 'vehicle'. No, by referring to our inherent Health, I'm simply saying that, as More than this biology, Health comes, not from without, but ultimately, from Within!

So, while this most devastating version of the 'coronavirus' ( Covid-19? ) is definitely something to be aware of, personally speaking, it should not be causing the stir that it is. It is because of 'scare tactics that this 'virus' is having the effect it is. On the one hand, you have the U.S. government, the Chinese government & who knows who else spreading terror & misinformation through the news media. On the other hand, you have 'Big Pharma' & the CDC using their own tactics to convince everyone that they're going to die unless they do what they're told! Again, this is not to say that it's all just one big 'scare tactic' ( Fear Factor? ), for even if the numbers are grossly misrepresented; if one does not exercise a healthy amount of care, an upper respiratory problem could definitely turn out to be fatal!

Modern politics is a real 'shitshow'! It is a fact that if one has enough money, enough political 'clout', one can get away with murder ( there, I said it; 'Are you listening FBI/CIA?' )! In politics today, who you know will only get you so far. It seems that the more you know about this or that person, the more political 'clout' you have. Speaking of murder, a popular 'theory' is that none other than our own government, the government of these United States, conspired against its own citizenry in releasing this & worse into the environment so that it, as well as 'Big Pharma' could profit off of the devastation that would surely follow. No accusations to that end here, though it would not really surprise me one bit!

To end on a positive note: although we should not discount the very real threat of this latest 'outbreak' ( however the hell it happened ), neither should we loose our shit over it! 'It is what it is' & if we give in to the fear, we are only giving them what they want, in essence, bowing the knee to them. 'As above, so below'; true health comes from within, not without, so while these medications & vaccines may seem to have the desired effect, if our heart isn't in it, as soon as the medication/vaccine runs its course, 'guess what?' The best we can do to avoid contracting this latest virus is to take care of these earthly vehicles, in essence, staying away from certain people & situations we know to be bad for us & washing our hands when we feel the need, things we should be doing anyway!

Namaste' & Blessed Be!
Charles Haddon Shank

Monday, March 02, 2020

The Darkest Place

Joe's twin brother Duane had just departed this life. Needless to say, he felt like he had lost a necessary part of himself, a feeling made even stronger since they were twins. They had just celebrated their 18th birthday with a bash that would make any high school grad proud! Not only were they celebrating their relative adulthood, but this was their last 'hurrah'; they were celebrating their freedom: 'no more school, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks'. Well, till college anyway, but that would be more like one big, continuous party, right?! They were both headed back East to go to college at the university that the Griswold men had attended for the last 4  or 5 generations. Everything seemed to be on track for this big transition in both their lives, so when Duane, seemingly out of the blue, took his own life, the train was derailed & life would never be the same for Joe Griswold, to say nothing of the affect that it had on his family!.

The Griswolds were an old North-central New York family. Generations ago, somebody must have come into a fortune, or maybe they had brought it over from the Old World; nobody really knew for sure. Whatever the case, the Griswolds had never had to wonder where their next meal was coming from. In fact, they were without doubt one of the most affluent families in their part of the world! Coming from generations of religious leaders, Mr. & Mrs. Griswold no doubt had great expectations of their boys, even though neither Duane nor Joe ( who was technically a little over a minute & a half older ) really wanted to have anything to do with the family religion, if indeed, with any of the family's traditions. They weren't even all that excited about attending the Griswold alma mater in the Fall, except that they would be basically on their own, far away from the watchful eyes of Mom & Dad. Even so, there were still plenty of uncles & aunts in that corner of the world to keep them on the straight & narrow!

On their tenth birthday, Joe & Duane had received the startling news that the family was pulling up roots in their home-state & heading for the warmer climes of Southern California. The boys, though they seemed to enjoy the change of scenery at first, especially those scantily-clad women who seemed to positively litter the beaches, they quickly learned to resent having been uprooted from their relatively simple, though rigid, life back in New York. Joe had begun to follow in his father's footsteps & attended religious training in California, but Duane had shown his latent rebellion right off the bat, refusing to have anything to do with 'those hypocrites'! Duane had always been the more outspoken of the two, voicing his opinion wherever & to whomever he wanted. He still knew of course, to approach his parents with a modicum of respect, especially when it came to questions of religion! Joe was ready to follow in the Family footsteps & planned to take several seminary classes when he got there, but Duane had his own plans. He had a mind like a steel trap & planned to continue his education in Physics: someday, 'who knows?' Maybe the Griswolds would have an astro-physicist in their midst!

To be truthful, even though Duane had his 'head in the stars', in a manner of speaking, his ulterior motive was just to get away from his family. Uprooted from his familiar childhood in New York, he & his slightly older brother had been forced to leave their comfort zone & settle into an area with a much larger & more diverse population. The schools they attended in this 'new land' were a whole 'nother story! Though they still resented the fact that they had been brought so far from the rest of their friends & family, Joe & Duane had both adapted fairly quickly, as far as appearances go, to their new environs. In fact, both boys seemed to excel, despite their obvious distaste for some of their 'neighbors'. Both boys got into sports, something almost unheard of in the Griswold family tree, though Duane was, by far, the most active. Needless to say, by the time graduation came around, it seemed that Mom & Dad's worries were over, for both their boys seemed to have assimilated well, almost as expected, Duane with his sports endeavor & Joe with his religious studies. ( They still weren't real pleased with Duane's choices, but at least he was still with them! )

Unbeknowst to their parents, both boys, however, were struggling, Duane moreso than his brother! The twins had never been really happy with having been dragged all the way out here, all the way across the country, just as he was becoming accustomed to the slower way of life, readier access to Nature & all their childhood friends. On top of that, to make things worse, both Mom & Dad worked most every day, so the boys were forced to attend schools about ten or twenty times the size of the one they were used to, plus, they had to fend for themselves till Mom & Dad got home later in the afternoon or evening. As you can imagine, as they surpassed their early teen-age years, they somewhat enjoyed the bit of freedom afforded them, but even so, these were some of their darkest moments!

As Duane dealt with his demons & fought to escape from his prison, Joe had his own battles to fight! Both boys had chosen different courses, or paths, but to their parents, they seemed happy enough with their lot in life. Joe seemed to be following in the footsteps of generations of Griswold men before him & Duane, well at least he would be attending the family's alma mater

The closer both graduation & the promised freedom of their 18th birthday got, the worse things seemed to get for the twins ( the parents had no clue ). Drama at school was only intensifying, so that by the time these events rolled around, both boys were ready to pull their hair out. As usual, Mom & Dad had no clue as to what was brewing under the surface & getting ready to boil over, most of all with Duane. Even so, the twins were able to keep it together, at least on the surface, until the party!

The Party! The Day of the Party had arrived, bright & clear, with not a hint of the troubles that were roiling just beneath a calm enough surface. The sunny California weather belied the darkness that had begun to settle in both brothers.  Mom & Dad, in a special remittance for their high school buddies, had almost graciously bowed out for the evening, trusting their precious possessions to a bunch of high-schoolers! In after-thought, probably not the wisest choice, but then, at least several of their teachers were on the guest list. They'd be good chaperones, right?! Well, as the case may be, alcohol flowed in abundance & the upstairs bathroom saw more than a few white lines being cut. The drug of choice though, at least on the lower level of the house, was marijuana, although, closer studies later showed that there was a bit more to it than that!

Joe never visited the upstairs bathroom, but Duane, once he followed his favorite giggling cheerleader up that long staircase, was never seen alive again! Joe enjoyed himself that fateful evening, though he felt more than one twinge of guilt & that he should have followed his twin up the stairs that fateful night. Later, after the effects of the party had worn off, he would feel, in full effect, the impact of what their evening of  'freedom' would have on the rest of his life. He would go throughout his new life, castigating himself for his choices that day, but the death of his twin would serve as Joe's wake-up call!

Joe ended up attending that university 'Back East', but he quickly cut all the religious studies classes ( or at least, most of them ) from his schedule. His parents, of course, weren't pleased with his decision, but 'Hey!', his twin, his best friend, had been ripped from his side, in the prime of his life! Plus, they were so bowed with grief that they barely seemed to notice, anyway. As Joe continued his education, he began to understand that Duane had conquered hid demons & broken out of his prison in the only way he knew how. In the process, he had unwittingly freed his brother as well!

Namaste' & Blessed Be!
Charles Haddon Shank

Width of Vision; This Infinitely Unfolding Universe

'Are we consciously witnessing the expansion of our universe, or is the universe simply observing the expansion of our consciousness?'

As I've said often; I'm not a scientist! Sure, I took the required course in school, but 'mere books do not a scientist make'! Science, in my limited understanding, is the Study of Nature. A true Scientist, therefore, would be one who studies Nature, or natural phenomena. According to some scientists, the known universe is expanding exponentially. This Wikipedia article on the 'Expansion of the Universe' might prove to be some interesting reading on that account. Here is a rather interesting quote, however, should my readers choose not to read the entire article ( I wouldn't blame you, it's pretty long  & WAY over MY head ); 'Based on large quantities of experimental observation and theoretical work, the scientific consensus is that space itself is expanding, and that it expanded very rapidly within the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang. This kind of expansion is known as "metric expansion". In mathematics and physics, a "metric" means a measure of distance, and the term implies that the sense of distance within the universe is itself changing.' 'The sense of distance within the universe is itself changing' tells me that, physically speaking, it SEEMS to us that the universe is expanding! Does that mean that the universe is actually expanding, or is it simply our perception, our knowledge of how vast our universe is that is expanding, or becoming greater, wider, if you will?

One question that might stump the majority of scientists is, 'did our Universe really have a beginning, or has it always been, like say, the Christian 'God'? 'Big Bang Theory' aside, there is no real way to prove either for or against either proposition! We weren't there, so it is only by our study, our observation of what the current situation is, that we can theorize as to how this, that, or the other happened, why & to what extent. If our universe has always existed, have the objects within that 'space' always existed as well? If so, how do we fit in? If not, what was their beginning & for that matter, what was our beginning? Yes, I was brought up to believe that 'in the beginning, God created.............', but is it really that simple? When 'in the beginning' 'the heavens & the earth' were 'created', was the Universe pre-existent, or does the Bible simply not record the creation of the Universe? Maybe its writers were simply not concerned about the natural order of things, but only about telling their own (Hebrew ) Story!

If we posit that the Universe was/is pre-existent, we might actually be approaching what could almost be called an 'event horizon'. In a pre-existent universe, the nature of both it & us would then come into question. If the Universe did not have a beginning, what's to say that we did ( except for the Bible & certain other books/stories like it )? If we did not have a beginning, then, 'as above, so below', that brings our very nature into question! Who ARE we? WHAT are we? Are we really just, as a cursory & careless reading of the above mentioned text seems to tell us, flawed & fallen human beings with an innate proclivity to fail, or do what is perceived as wrong? My readers should know by now that we are More than that; we are part & parcel with 'God' Himself ( or 'Herself' )! No apologies, but that WAS a bit of a 'jab' at the simplistic way I was taught to believe. Our nature, not as mere human beings, but as spirit-beings having a human experience is Divine, un-created & therefore infinite. This biology, as we've seen, was not built to last forever, for Infiniity ( or 'Eternity'? )! Although 'this biology' most concerns our humanity, one should note that it is just as true for much of what we perceive in the Universe, stars, for example. Our Sun, one of many billions in our galaxy alone, according to modern Science, is itself winding down. The existence of 'Black Holes' bears witness itself to such. The explanation I recall from my schooling ( concerning Black Holes & their formation ) was that they were the result of a 'supernova', sometimes termed the 'death' of a star. Further reading will reveal that these stars do not actually die; they simply take another form. As Einstein once famously said, 'Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.'

'As above, so below'. In much the same way then, though these biological machines, intricately woven as they are, will at some point wind down, sooner or later; we ourselves will never die, we will simply, as pure energy, pure spirit, if you will, simply assume a different form. Yes, one might note, the above statement almost surely assumes 'reincarnation', but, 'it is what it is'! In the cycle of existence, biologically speaking, there is 'birth, death & rebirth'. A bit simplistic maybe, as far as an explanation, because it's really not that simple ( or is it?! ), but we see this in all of Nature. After a forest fire, for example, we may note the 'death' of the grasses. It never fails though, depending on conditions, they always come back, usually sooner rather than later, greener than ever! In many other plants as well, we can observe this 'Cycle of Existence', also called 'The Circle of Life'. In actuality, both these phrases refer only to Biology & how it affects us in this physical experience; 'as above, so below', our true nature does not change, it simply takes on a new form.

'The first law of thermodynamics, also known as Law of Conservation of Energy, states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed; energy can only be transferred or changed from one form to another.' Energy, therefore, just is! Like the 'God' of Christianity, from Energy came to be all that exists! As human beings, we may rightly say, 'I create this or that', but really, all we're doing is transmuting, sharing, the Energy that exists in us, that IS us & manifesting it in another form. In the case of procreation through sexual intercourse, we're using our Energy to produce a copy of our own chosen form, that of a human being.

The Universe itself, being made up of Energy, has Itself produced billions upon billions ( 'to infinity?' ) of stars. There are also many planets in countless galaxies in this Universe. 'Where did they all come from? How did they come to be?' Again; 'I'm not a scientist' ( by ANY stretch of the imagination ), so all I can really say is that although, biologically speaking, they did have a beginning, at least, to our perception & they will have an end, they are simply a manifestation of Energy. It's probably not that simple, in actuality, but they, like us, are the result of transmutation by an Intelligent Designer. No creation or cessation of existence, just a new or different form!

As this Universe, then, unfolds itself to the naked eye, so to speak, we should understand that, as Divine Beings made of the same Energy ( 'As above, so below' ), we understand that we are, in fact, mirror images of 'Her'! Just as 'She' is always active, keeping things in motion, so we too, as human beings, are forever on the move, spinning off new & different things, manifestations of the Energy that is us. It has been said, actually, that the human body, in all its intricacy, is really a microcosm of the Universe. So then, it should not be too hard to imagine that these biological machines, our human vehicles, have been designed by the same Intelligent Designer that formed all that exists in the macrocosm.

As we live out our lives in these biological machines, these physical vehicles, let us always be mindful that 'as above, so below', when we study the Universe & note that it seems to be expanding, it should be a sign to us that, while our consciousness of the infinite reaches of the Universe is expanding, our consciousness of who & what we are may be expanding as well! Although the tendency for those who are becoming, or have become aware is to focus on the heavenly reaches of their Divinity, we must remember that while we are Divine, we have chosen, like Jesus the King of the Jews, to forsake that Divinity for a Time & live our lives for the good of all. Our biological vehicles have their own hidden Divinity & if we allow them, will manifest that Divinity in the form we have chosen. To quote the Hebrew Scriptures, 'the heavens declare the glory of God' ( Psalm 19:1 ). No matter your preferred interpretation/understanding of this oft-quoted passage, it is one of many Universal Truths to be found therein & so begs the question; 'can we, in these physical vehicles, do any less?'

Namaste' & Blessed Be,
Charles Haddon Shank