Sunday, April 18, 2021

Crossroads of the Soul by Worlds Within Worlds

Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world only, our own, we see that world multiply itself and we have at our disposal as many worlds as there are original artists, worlds more different, one from the other than those which revolve in infinite space, worlds which, centuries after the extinction of the fire from which their light first emanated, whether it is called Rembrandt or Vermeer, send us still each one its own special radiance. - Marcel Proust, In Search of Lost Time

Art is a veritable transmutation of substance.  By it, substance is spiritualized and physical surroundings dematerialized in order to refract essence, that is, the quality of an original world.  This treatment of substance is indissociable from "style."  - Gilles Deleuze, Proust and Signs.

Crossroads of the Soul was our quarantine album project. Worlds Within Worlds comprises a group of six individuals, Tito Rios, Niralee Kamdar, Nishit Gajjar, Sebastian Pulido Vela, Paula Galindo and myself.  The group name reflects the diversity of musical influences contributing to the sound as well as the connecting theme linking the songs: voyaging through space and time, the exploration of higher consciousness.  The music ranges from electronic, ambient, ambient dub, Andean folk, all variously enhanced with Brazilian percussion and samples from around the world.  It is released on the Cloister Recordings label.

1. Before Creation
2. Floating In Space
3. Bardo State
4. Crossroads of the Soul
5. Tiny Speck of Dust
6. Prasad
7. Kaleidoscope
8. The Burden of Illumination
9. Crown of Creation

Produced by Worlds Within Worlds.  Mixed and Mastered by Oz Fritz except Prasad mixed by Tito Rios

Special guests: Laylah Hali lead vocals on Crown of Creation.
                        EJ Gold - vocals on Floating In Space and temple bells on Bardo State
                        Anonymous Mullah - prayer call on Bardo State
                        Crows - on Bardo State
                        Mother whale with calves - on Kaleidoscope

Sample Material: International Free-Zone by Bill Laswell used in Bardo State

You can download the digital album in your favorite format for $7 here on Bandcamp.

All proceeds benefit the Institute for the Development of the Harmonious Human Being (IDHHB)

Crossroads of the Soul is a straight-up, old-school album in the sense that these songs indicate a sequential series that goes somewhere, from Before Creation to the Crown of Creation.  These tracks can be enjoyed individually, in any order; as a whole, it signals an intentional journey outside the boundaries of human experience, an exploration of the bardo space between where we've been and the direction we may be heading.  We even receive a little food along the way, some nourishment in the form of Prasad.

The title track has interesting symbolism and connotations with the archetypal cross at the core.  Legend has it that Robert Johnson went down to the crossroads and made a pact with the Devil to exchange his soul for fame and fortune as a bluesman.  This crossroads was Highway 61 and 49 in Clarksdale, Mississippi.  Johnson did find posthumous fame, but not so much fortune as he was poisoned the following year by the jealous husband of one of his mistresses.

Bob Dylan has also found himself a subject of this legend.  Minnesota friends of his at the time say he left Minneapolis as an average Woody Guthrie imitator and came back from New York a mere 6 months later with the talent just starting to unfold that would drive him to become the songwriter of a generation who would eventually receive a Nobel Prize in Literature and get compared to Shakespeare.  What happened, what changed, what transformed?  Dylan jokingly comments in the No Direction Home documentary about speculation that he followed in Robert Johnson's footsteps and made a midnight trip down to the crossroads.

The crossroads indicates a choice-point, a decision that can influence or determine the course of the rest of your life according to those legends.  According to Tibetan Buddhist legend, when the soul voyages in the Bardo following the body's biological demise, it comes across entrances to wombs which can lead to rebirth into another biological lifetime, a reincarnation.  It encounters crossroads between continuing through the Bardo to wherever it may lead, or ending the journey by taking rebirth.

In a completely different respect, yet still relevant to Crossroads of the Soul, we consider the cross as a model for the whole of Creation with the four legs extending infinitely in each of the cardinal directions and, perhaps, a rose at the center.  

The science fiction writer, Phil K Dick, gave an interesting interpretation of the cross:

"The blood and the cross are the highest point of this world (2-3-74).  The tears – 'of the repentant sinner' – turn to agape, as in Tears; the tears has to do with sin and atonement and Christ and the cross.  But all this (sorrow) is a gate to: love (v.Tears!) and love (agape) equals ecstasy; so tears of sorrow – the cross – are converted into the opposite; joy. Through agape, this is the goal and mystery of Christianity, this conversion; utter sorrow (Mitleid) to bliss (agape)."

2-3-74 refers to February and March of 1974, the period when Dick had a series of gnostic mystical visions and experiences. Tears capitalized and in italics refers to his 1974 book Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said, set in a future dystopia where the U.S. has become a police state after a Second Civil War.

Gurdjieff begins his epic science fiction opus, Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, with an elaborate, ornate rendition of the sign of the cross. The Qabalistic Cross begins an essential rite in Golden Dawn based magic, the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.  Aleister Crowley and his group performed this ritual everyday at their Abbey of Thelema in Sicily.

The song, Crossroads of the Soul, begins with a distant rhythmic and melodic guide track that sounds like it might be coming from a broken radio.  You hear the sound of the door to the Crypt at the Basilica du Sacre Couer in Paris opening into the main body of the song, changing the space, the road, led by the warm tone and melody of an Andean flute.  After the first chorus, the distant melodic guide track crosses the path, indicating a choice-point before the solar melody of the flute and accompaniment re-enters to guide the journey on. 

The palette of sounds comes from all over the world, the mix defined an overall architecture of these sonic worlds within worlds.  The shehnaie samples in Bardo State originated from recordings Bill Laswell and I made in Madras, (as it was known at the time) India.  Part of the chorus in Kaleidoscope is sung by Niralee and Nishit in a dialect from India I don't know the name of.  Indian instruments such as tablas and tanpura drones are used in Nishit's compositions.  Brazillian-style latin percussion and trap set gives the beat, rhythm and movement in some songs.  Tito Rios uses some traditional instruments from his Bolivian heritage in his pieces opening another mood and dimension of sound.  Different chambers of world sounds and sensibilities line the hallway of this journey through the album.

Kaleidoscope starts with a primitive beat, something you might imagine hearing at a Santeria ritual - a beat intended to take consciousness somewhere else.  It speaks of the Univocity that Gilles Deleuze promotes and attributes to Spinoza and others.  The vocals are chants; the electronics greatly contribute to an otherworldly atmosphere that feels like being in any number of Phil Dick novels or other science fiction constructs.  The chorus: All is one, only one is sequentially sung in English, Spanish and an Indian dialect to celebrate in song the richness of difference that speaks from the same voice.

The final track, Crown of Creation, suggests magick and mysticism:

Worlds within worlds infinitely expand
And contract themselves in nothingness
Let's find ourselves in nothingness

Let's ride the stars, it's all crystal clear
Every dusk has its dawn
As above so below, as below so above


Monday, April 5, 2021

The Starseed Signals by Robert Anton Wilson

 Magick keeps opening me and opening me and opening me ...

 - Starseed Signals p. 428 

The Starseed Signals 
A RAW perspective on Timothy Leary PHD
by Robert Anton Wilson 

This new 470 page plus book published by Hilaritas Press out of Grand Junction, Colorodo lifts the veil a little bit more on two of the most remarkable philosophers and experimental adventurers of the XXth Century.  Robert Anton Wilson and Timothy Leary explored, navigated and transmitted cutting edge, brain-change technologies and applications beginning in the 1950s going until the very end of their respective lives.   They both used their biological deaths to communicate very potent final messages. This book emerged out of one of the most prolific and creative periods in Wilson's writing career, the early 1970s, when he also wrote Cosmic Trigger I, Prometheus Rising and began work on Schrodinger's Cat.

The Starseed Signals arose out of necessity, the necessity to rationally and intelligently explain Timothy Leary, his ideas and research findings, at perhaps the most difficult time in Leary's life.  Behind the scenes in this book, Leary desperately negotiated for his freedom and life with the fascist Nixon regime under extreme duress in harsh prison conditions while simultaneously getting prematurely judged and condemned as a sell-out informant by the Left.  Misinformation and disinformation about Leary's situation abounded and part of Wilson's intention, it seems, was to set the record straight.  

Herein we find a story of real philosopher/adventurers like they had in Ancient Greece:  philos = brotherly love; sophia = wisdom; the story of two friends who truly loved wisdom to the point of endangering their own welfare in its service.  We find out that Wilson presciently compared Leary's position as a State target to Wilhelm Reich's earlier persecution and basically warned him in person that a similar fate might await (it did).  Leary brushed aside these dire concerns with his typical care-free optimistic good cheer mixed perhaps with too much denial for his own good.   

In these pages, Wilson presents Leary's case, his work and consequences, as objectively as possible beginning with the groundbreaking publication of The Interpersonal Diagnosis of Personality, "a study of comparative realities, the power politics of perception and emotion.  Its thesis, in colloquial terms, is that "ego" is a social conspiracy for which one person at a time gets blamed."  You will find no better explanation of Leary's groundbreaking pre-psychedelic scientific contributions to Psychology.  That alone makes this book a treasured historical document.  

The Starseed Signals was a lost work. RAW set it aside and moved on and the manuscript disappeared.  The story of how it got found and emerged to see the publishing light of day is told on page XI.  Some of this material found its way into Cosmic Trigger, The Final Secret of the Illuminati.  In some regards, this seems like the Bootleg edition, or the expanded out takes reel for Cosmic Trigger.  It gives a lot more background and context to what went on around the time of the creation of Cosmic Trigger, a book that changed my life.   It seems that because it never went through the final process of getting published, RAW's own editing seems less rigorous, more wide open i.e. a lot more left in, than in finished works like Cosmic Trigger.  

This seems an essential read for anyone interested in Dr. Leary's 8 Circuit model of Consciousness, this likely being the first of Wilson's ongoing lifelong exegetical presentations of this model.  I've found that RAW has a unique ability to take complex information and present it an understandable way to average people like myself.  He does that in this book not only with Leary's latest research and taxonomy of consciousness but, to greater or lesser degrees, with a variety of subjects: Aleister Crowley's Magick, LSD, Gurdjieff's system ( less so than Crowley's), longevity and immortality research, Wilhelm Reich, William Burroughs, Space Migration, and the consciousness of plants, among others.  The first two short paragraphs in the book alone references Aldous Huxley, Carl Jung, John Lilly and the value of skepticism. The 8 Circuit model gets the highest percentage of explanation with multiple iterations of it throughout the book.  

The Starseed Signals derives its title from a series of telepathic experiments that Leary and a few others did where they felt they received communication from  an extraterrestrial source of Higher Intelligence.  Independently, and coincidentally, RAW experienced similar contact phenomena around the same period of time.  Starseed also refers to the theory of Panspermia, that life originated in Outer Space, that the chemical "seeds" for life arrived on earth via meteorites.  Leary aligns himself with this hypothesis.

  Sirius, the Dog Star

The subtitle of this book, Link Between Worlds, ostensibly indicates the link between Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson yet this subtitle covers broad territory.  As a student of Magick, I took great interest in the presentation of Wilson's research into Aleister Crowley and how that connects with the Starseed subject matter.  

Naturally, The Starseed Signals transmits multiple signals.  One could consider it a frequently modulating carrier wave like a radio or television (tell a vision) station. The root of signals = signs.  Cabala describes a complex lexicon of signs (semiotics) and we know that RAW availed himself of this method.  I agree with Eric Wagner when he states in his Insider's Guide that one can find Cabala in all of RAW's books, this new find doesn't make an exception.  The praxis of Cabala also opens links between worlds.   

We discover that RAW had begun a book project about Crowley titled Lion of Light.  RAW leads off Chapter 8 (Hod = Mercury = communication)  with a quote from a poem called One Star in Sight showing where he got the title for the Crowley book project:

To man I come, the number of
    A man my number, Lion of Light; 
I am The Beast whose law is love
    Love under will, his royal right –
Behold within, and not above,
    One star in sight!
                                         - Aleister Crowley

The number in question = 666 which, under oath in a Court of Law, Crowley explained as the solar number 6 given three times.

One premise of magick and this book maintains that humans can make contact with Intelligence far beyond the human domain.  The proof of the pudding is in the eating of it; we can carefully and attentively observe the Starseed semiotics and infer whether such contact may have occurred with the invocation of this book much like a physicist might study the residual effects in a Wilson Cloud Chamber after bombarding it with energetic, sub-atomic particles.  Cabalistic semiotics that he wouldn't have consciously known about appears the same rationale Crowley uses to "prove" The Book of the Law came from a Higher Intelligence outside his own.

For instance, the very first word put down by RAW in Chapter One = "This;" the very last word in the book = "service" – the entire text lies between the words, "This service."  The Starseed Signals not only provides a service, in my opinion, it illustrates how to be of service both to self and to others.  Perhaps just a coincidence, yet I find it notable that "this service" = 69 by the Cabalistic method of Notarikon (transposing the initial letters into numbers and adding them).  69 can suggest mutual reciprocation, like the yin/yang symbol of the Tao, or connection, like the edges of a book – Finnegans Wake being a prime example.  The gematria of 69 = " a manger, stable; an enclosure;"  as in the edges that enclose this book.

On page 174 RAW makes a startling admission I've not seen elsewhere, he gives himself away a little more than usual:

"I also developed what occultists call 'inner certainty;' that is, I knew when this sixth circuit faculty was operating and could be trusted. ...

I have now developed a system, based on Crowley combined with Dr. Leary and Dr. John Lilly, in which any ordinary person can be trained to obtain similar results within six weeks, at least on a sporadic and occasional basis.  Further development of the sixth circuit, of course, requires further training."

Later, in a letter to Greg Hill published in the closing pages, RAW mentions that a collection of essays called Prometheus Rising is scheduled for publication.  Perhaps this contains the system he was referring to?  Although he recommends the first exercize  in PR be practiced for 6 months, not 6 weeks.

The Starseed Signals begins with an invocation of Nuit in the form of a poem by Arlen Wilson called Our Lady of Outer Space.  The Notarikon of the book's first phrase, "[t]his is a journey inward and outward..." = 111 which connects with the initials of Anna Livia Plurabelle, the name of the Goddess archetype in Finnegans Wake. A journey inward and outward also alludes to the Thelemic cosmology of Nuit as the infinitely large (outward) mating with Hadit, the infinitely small (inward).  And so on...  

Also of interest to me is the brief description of the group magick workshops RAW gave in Berkeley, the first I've ever heard about that specific activity.

This book begins with a quote from Leary that asks, "[w]hat will be the next step in biological and social evolution?"  One could say that the rest of the book attempts to answer that question along with much insight into researchers who consider it and their methods.  Shortly after, following the introduction and emphasis on skepticism, RAW states the intention of this book:

"But we do not ask the reader to accept anything here as dogma.
     If this book encourages further investigation and original thinking, it will have served its purpose; if it leads only to blind faith in the hypotheses it puts forth, it will have failed entirely."

Saturday, October 31, 2020

Magick Demystified Week 4 Supplemental Materials

I The Magus

The True Self is the meaning of the True Will
know Thyself through Thy Way.
Calculate well the formula of Thy Way.
Create freely; absorb joyously; divide intently;
consolidate completely.
Work thou, Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent,
in and for Eternity.

The Stele of Revealing

All titles by Aleister Crowley unless otherwise noted


4. Creating A Spiritual Guide by Oz Fritz - good summary of this course


1. The Pathworkings of Aleister Crowley - The Treasure House of Images - by A.C and J. F. C. Fuller
2. An Insider's Guide to Robert Anton Wilson by Eric Wagner
3. The Game of Life by Timothy Leary with contributions by Robert Anton Wilson


1. The Ninth Gate starring Johnny Depp directed by Roman Polanski
2. The Fifth Element starring Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich
3. The Wizard of Oz - original version.


1. Mind Games by John Lennon
2. The Song Remains the Same by Led Zeppelin - excellent description of Horus
3. My Sweet Lord by George Harrison
4. While My Guitar Gently Weeps by The Beatles
5. Like A Rolling Stone by Bob Dylan
6. A Love Supreme by John Coltrane
7. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony

III The Empress

This is the Harmony of the Universe, that Love
unites the Will to create with the Understanding 
of that Creation: understand thou thine own 
Love and let love.  Rejoice in every shape of love,
and get thy rapture and thy nourishment thereof.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Magick Demystified Week 3 Supplemental Material


The Universe is Change; every Change is the 
effect of an act of Love: all Acts of Love contain
Pure Joy. Die daily.
Death is the apex of one curve of the snake of Life:
behold all opposites as necessary complements,
and rejoice.


All titles by Crowley unless otherwise noted.

1. Where To Start - Oz Fritz
2. Gematria - Oz Fritz
5. The Wake World - A Qabalistic  Fairy Tale


1. Chicken Qabalah by Lon Milo Duquette (theory)
2. Son of Chicken Qabalah by Lon Milo Duquette (practical)
3. The Mystic Qabalah by Dion Fortune
4. 777 and Other Qabalistic Writings of Aleister Crowley
5. The Book of Thoth
6. Understanding Aleister Crowley's Thoth Tarot - Lon Milo Duquette


1. Stranger in a Strange Land - Robert Henlein
2. Masks of the Illuminatti - Robert Anton Wilson
3. Illuminatus! - Robert Anton Wilson (advanced)



1. The In-Laws (1979 version with Peter Falk and Alan Arkin)
2. Real Men (with Jim Belushi and John Ritter)
3. The Blues Brothers (with John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd)

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Magick Demystified Week 2 Supplemental Material

The Four Elements - visualizations from Initiation into Hermetics by Franz Bardon

Fire: Imagine yourself to be to be in the center of the Fire element, which in the shape of a sphere, encompasses the whole universe.  Imagine that everything around you is fiery.  Now begin to inhale the fire element through your nose and also simultaneously inhale through your whole body.  Inhale deeply with regularity, without compressing the air or straining the lungs.  

The physical and astral bodies must be like empty containers into which the element is inhaled or drawn in with every breath.  The heat of the element must be increased with every breath.  The heat and also the expansive force must continue to increase as must the fiery pressure until you feel fiery-hot.  

Start with seven inhalations of the Fire element, and with every successive exercise increase it by one inhalation.  As a rule, 20 - 30 inhalations should suffice.  Only those students who are physically strong and who possess a great deal of will-power should exceed that number of inhalations in accordance with their ability.  A string of beads can be used if counting interferes.

The next step is the elimination of the Fire element.  Inhale normally through the mouth, and exhale the Fiery element into the whole universe through the mouth and the entire body. The exhalation of the element has to occur as many times as the inhalation.  This is very important because after this exercise has been completed the student must have the feeling that not even the minutest particle of the element has remained within her.  Also, the feeling of heat that was produced must dissipate completely.  Eyes may be open or closed when doing this whole practice.

Air: Same as Fire only we have to imagine a different feeling. Imagine that you are in the center of an air space, one which occupies the entire universe; nothing exists for you other than that the space encompassing the whole universe is filled with air.  Inhale as before.  Every breath adds to the amount of air and with more air you fill the whole body. to such a degree that it resembles an air balloon.  At the same time you must imagine that your body is getting lighter, as light as the air itself.  The feeling of lightness must be so intense that eventually, because of its lightness, you no longer feel your body.  When finished, exhale all the Air element same as you did with Fire.

Water: Imagine that the whole universe is an infinite ocean and you are positioned exactly in the center.  With each total body breath, your body is filled with this element.  You must feel the coldness of the water in your whole body.  The more often you practice this exercise, the more distinctly you will sense the Water element. with its coldness attributes.  You must virtually feel like a lump pf ice.  Each exercise should not exceed 20 minutes.  In time you should be able to cause your body to become ice-cold even on the hottest summer day.  Exhale and banish the element as before.

Earth: Imagine that the entire universe consists only of earth and you are sitting in its center.  Do not imagine the earth to be a lump of clay but instead imagine it to be a dense earthy substance.  The specific attribute of the earth substance is density and gravity (heaviness).  As before, inhale this element.  You must be able, through concentration, to accumulate so much of this earth substance within your body that it feels as heavy as lead and, because of this heaviness, you feel almost paralyzed.  As always, exhale and banish this element when finished.  As with the others, the duration shouldn't exceed 20 minutes.  

You can make use of colors to assist the visualization:
Fire = red
Air = yellow
Water = blue, greenish blue or turquoise
Earth = green


All essays by Aleister Crowley unless otherwise noted.

1. Liber III Jugorum - training of the Will.
 - contains vibration of God names and the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram signs of the grades among other things.
3. Book 4 Part 2 Magick - essays on magickal weapons
4. The Training of the Mind Liber 913 - Ananda Metteya (Alan Bennett)
5. That Old Black Magick - Robert Anton Wilson


1. The Book of Lies (falsely so-called)
2. The Magick of Aleister Crowley - Lon Milo Duquette
3. Darkside Dreamwalker - E. J. Gold

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Magick Demystified Week 1 Supplemental Material

Be every Act an Act of Love and Worship
Be every Act the Fiat of a God
Be every Act a Source of radiant Glory

"Magick is getting into communication with individuals who exist on a higher plane than ours.  Mysticism is the raising of oneself to their level." - Aleister Crowley

Personal Transformation and the Work

Five minute and twenty-three second video by E.J. Gold


The Tree of Life

Recommended Books:

1. Cosmic Trigger Vol. 1, The Final Secret of the Illuminati - Robert Anton Wilson
2. Magick Book 4 Liber ABA - Aleister Crowley
3. Allow Me To Introduce, An Insider's Guide to the Occult - Lon Milo Duquette
4. The American Book of the Dead - E.J. Gold

Like every other science, both the subject and the object of the work increase as the work proceeds.

 - Crowley, Magick Without Tears, p. 501

Monday, October 5, 2020

Suzanne K. Fritz In Memoriam

July 29, 1936 - September 6, 2020

Survived by her three children, Oswald George, Mark Kendel, and Peter Eric Fritz

My Mom's best friend Elaine said that they would jump into Sue's silver Porsche two seat convertible at the beginning of a long weekend with the motto "Destination Unknown" and just drive.  Leaving Vancouver, Canada they might end up in Baja California or take a left somewhere along the line and do a little gambling in Reno.  She was doing this well into her seventies and eighties., sometimes going on camping trips by herself. Last year, at 83, she drove 1400 km from Vancouver to Nevada City, California to help celebrate my 60th birthday.  

It appears she had a similar sense of daring adventure about leaving her body, going on one final, from the earthly perspective, Destination Unknown journey only this time she won't return.  

Suzanne Fritz at age 29

Sue was born in Cleveland, Ohio to Charles and Germaine Kendel.  She was their only child.  Her maternal grandfather made a lot of money at something.  I was told it came from inventing the first smoke detector, but I can't find anything on the internet to support that assertion.  Her grandparents split up in the middle of the Great Depression with a million dollar settlement awarded to the wife.  My mother said she grew up in a socially privileged mileau attending Hathaweay Brown all-girls private school in Shaker Heights and later, Vassar liberal arts college in upstate New York.  She told the story that her mother, Gerry and Gerry's brother Ralph anticipated receiving a large inheritance when their father died, but he tricked them by leaving his fortune to charity.  Sue said she never saw that money so she never missed it.

Sue met her future husband, George Fritz at a physics class they both enrolled in at Case Western Reserve University.  George's working class family and background met with strong disapproval from her socially sensitive, domineering mother who did all she could to break up their union.  That conflict resulted in Sue not inviting her mother to their wedding held on January 31, 1959.  Gerry showed up anyway quite inebriated on booze and pills and made a big scene.  The following week, with Sue and George honeymooning in Quebec City, Canada, Gerry called up her friend, the Archbishop of Cleveland and attempted to get him to annul her daughter's marriage.  That went nowhere after either the Archbishop or someone from his office contacted my parents (I was already in her womb at that point having been conceived in late November, 1958) and learned that my grandmother was out of her effin' mind with the whole annulment thing.  Upon discovering my parents planned to name me after my father, he was OGF Jr., I would be the IIIrd, Jerry announced her refusal to call me by any variation of that name.  My parents compromised by giving me the nickname Mickey, a name I used until High School.  Sue's father, Charles, had the demeanor of a Taoist monk, his low-key demeanor keeping him above the fray.  I don't know what resolved things, but Gerry came to accept Sue's married life.  Her parents even helped out Sue and George by purchasing a modest home for them while my dad pursued his doctorate.  Sue put her own education on hold for about six years, resuming it in 1967 following the birth of her youngest child Peter in June of 1966.  She graduated with Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in November, 1967.

In the early '60s, Sue had the good fortune to work in the office of famed pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock author of Baby and Child Care, one of the best-selling books in history.  Spock was working at Case Western Reserve University at the time.  My mother said that he would often tell her what I was going to do next as a growing toddler and he was always right.

Both my mother and father loved the outdoors and getting out of the big city.  They camped across the United States on their way to California in the summer of 1967 then again the following summer in 1968 this time taking their kids and as much of their belongings that they could stuff into the family Dodge relocating our home to Palo Alto for a year where George did post-graduate research at Stanford.  We moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada in the summer of 1969.  Except for a couple years living back in Cleveland in the mid 70's, Sue never resided outside of Canada again, eventually becoming a citizen.

Sue split from my dad and left the family in late 1970 or early '71 largely over a dispute over her wishes for a career in social work.  George retained custody of the children, but Sue visited them frequently and took them on outings.  From my perspective, she changed overnight into a much more liberal parent.  It seems in retrospect that moving from out of my father's shadow allowed her to express and be herself more fully.  Social workers had very bohemian attitudes that influenced Sue.  Through her, I was exposed to the artistic, creative side of hippie culture at the ripe old age of 12.  She would let me listen to her albums - Goats Head Soup by The Rolling Stones, Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen and Hot Buttered Soul by Isaac Hayes are ones I remember.  She took us to see the film Easy Rider, that stellar soundtrack was one of the three eight-track tapes on endless loop for long car rides.  She once told me about going to and enjoying an Alice Cooper concert.

In the mid to late '70's she relocated to Vernon, B.C. in the Okanagan Valley, an extremely beautiful and fertile part of the world.  My brother Mark went to live with her there.  She continued her education along with her social work.  Sometime in the mid-seventies, she took a Neurolinguistic Programming seminar with Richard Bandler  for a few weeks that made a strong impression.  She showed me how she used techniques learned there with her clients and how it made a big difference in nonverbally  and quickly gaining their trust.  I believe she got a Masters degree in Psychology somewhere along the way, her Facebook page says she went to UBC.  Maybe I'll learn more about her life when they let me into Canada to retrieve her personal effects. 

Sue was delighted when some of the boys in the band I did sound for, Sargent, and I stayed at her house high in the hills just outside Vernon when gigging there in the early '80s.  We'd stay there for a week at a time on a couple of different occasions; she often brought up that time and asked about the band members later in life. 

That's the first instance of her supporting my audio engineering career. In 1984 I sold all my gear and moved to New York to attend the Institute of Audio Research and get a degree in Recording Arts.  I ran out of money about halfway through and began supporting myself with a job as a foot messenger when not in class.  Mom came through big time covering my living expenses for the remaining 4 or 5 months allowing for a more relaxed school term.  She always came out when I was working in her area, for instance driving down to Seattle to hear Meridiem (Percy Howard, Bill Laswell, Fred Frith, Charles Hayward) perform and meet them backstage.  In the fall of 2017 and 2018 she came out to the Vancouver shows when I toured with Simrit.  She loved the music and let everyone know with articulate, detailed comments to them personally after the 2017 concert.  In 2018, she volunteered to make the pre-show food run proving most helpful as we scrambled to work with some borrowed equipment following a break-in and theft the previous night.  

During the early 90's she began running a government funded center for mentally handicapped adults.  As the Chief Administrator, she got that running smoothly giving her time to invest in and operate a coffee shop in a Vernon mall.  Her friend Elaine said that she gave a lot of dubiously employable young kids a chance to work there, some she would have to fire, but that didn't stop Sue from giving others a chance, a throwback to her beginning social work days.  Her first job, in the early '70's, was at a place called Hull Home in Calgary, a residence for emotionally disturbed adolescents.  

I believe her center got defunded at some point in the 90's leading to a decision to retire to Vancouver, Richmond to be precise.  The coffee shop went out of business when Starbucks became all the rage.  She continued to stay active and socially involved, volunteering for political campaigns she supported as well as for the Operation Rednose program the government ran every New Year's Eve where people too drunk to drive could call and get a free ride from a volunteer like Sue.  She had an exercise regimen of swimming every day which terminated with the covid lockdown.  I suspect that played a major contribution to her body breaking down.

Sue and I in front of John Lennon's psychedelic Cadillac at Vancouver's World Fair in 1986.
We had just enjoyed a set of music by the phenomenal blind guitarist Jeff Healy.

The circumstances around her death seem quite revealing, I learned much by the elegant way she wrapped up her life and journeyed into the unknown.  The wrap-up began when she called in June to let me know that she'd been treated for blood clots in her arms and legs.  To my knowledge, this was the first medical issue she had to deal with in something like 15 - 20 years.  She stressed to me the minor importance of this condition, not to worry, she just wanted to let me know.  I accepted her report at face value and didn't worry.  I had been concerned about her after the first 4 to 6 weeks in lockdown after she mentioned being generally bored.  I've noticed from past experience that some elderly people who feel bored most of the time tend to enter the beginning of the end of their current human incarnation.  A natural inclination to move on to something else, why stick around if bored all the time stuck inside a declining body.  I asked if I should send her books to read and suggested watching films but she said she was all right feeling bored.  

In July she called with a diagnosis of cancer, but they didn't know what kind, possibly breast cancer.  From that point until about a week before she passed, the full extent of her medical condition remained largely unknown because not until then did I get a briefing from the last ICU doctor treating her.  Her regular doctor seemed to be on vacation for much of July and August which brought stress to her as she didn't like the substitute doctor.  About a week later she sent an email with the single sentence: "I have stage four long cancer" (sic).  I googled "stage 4 lung cancer" to see exactly what that meant and found out that this type of cancer rarely, if ever, gets diagnosed before reaching stage 4. Also, that patients can live up to 5 years with successful treatment.  Then I called and asked how she felt about that.  I expected an emotional reaction of some sort, but she went into an accelerated spiel of all the preparations she had started making for her demise - her and a kind neighbor, Linda, wise in the ways of service, had begun packing up all her belongings, and rented a storage place  to put everything. I was supposed to drive up within 3 months and get it all, her bank account would be signed over to me at some point etc. etc., all these plans.  I interrupted her at some point rather alarmed that she had jumped from receiving a  fatal, at some point, diagnosis to complete endgame and said, no that's not what I'm asking, how do you feel about the situation, how do you feel about death?  The question seemed to calm her down and she answered dispassionately, "I'm curious about it, why, are you going to convert me to something?"  It seemed quite remarkable to me that she expressed not the slightest trace of fear.  She told me that she was 84 years old, had done and seen a lot, was sick of seeing Trump on tv, there's rioting in the streets, she saw no reason to stick around.  That message stayed consistent, she repeated it again from her hospital bed and when my sister's sister Kirsty, a practicing MD in Vancouver visited Sue and had a heart to heart conversation with her about medical options, she indicated that she didn't want aggressive treatments like chemotherapy to prolong her life, she only wanted the remaining time she had left to be made as comfortable as possible.  Her last words to me were "I love you, I gotta go."

I've wondered how she was able to handle death so well, she wasn't religious and didn't have any meditation practices I knew about.  It was just the opposite for my father who appeared terrified the day before his final surgery, though he was much younger, 58.   Her psychological background and social work with adults and adolescents needing help probably gave her great training in dealing with high stress situations; how to stay calm when everything breaks down.

She told Linda that she wouldn't be alive past August, but she didn't communicate anything like that to me or my brothers always staying upbeat, she delayed communicating her condition to them until I insisted.  She seemed concerned that her death not be an inconvenience to anyone, that consideration always makes me sad when I think about it. 

Around August 9th I had the urge to hear a song called Sunday Morning originally performed by Nico and the Velvet Underground.  I knew it well, from the inside out having mixed a cover of it by HuDost about six years ago.  I listened to their version then got the V.U. version and had both versions on regular rotation; no idea why, at the time, that song came up.  Sue permanently left her body on a Sunday morning.  I felt ripped wide open but kept it together to get into my floatation tank to send her prayers and love.  At times I went into moments of intense weeping and grief before remembering that I was there to help her with the transition and that sadness didn't help at all.  I did feel moments of contact, at one point I thought I received a communication from her that she was doing all right.  Clearly, that could have been imaginary wishful thinking though it does seems consistent with how she approached death and other subsequent indications.  I've been doing the practice of attempting contact and reading every night from the American Book of the Dead which maps out the 49 Chamber bardo voyage.  I suspect the readings help me more than they do her, it feels good to do that for her, the least I could do for the blessed one who brought me into the world.