Monday, October 8, 2012

Absinthe Drunk and God-Mad


Recently, the wonderful drink of absinthe  has become legal in the United States, where I reside. 

When I was in college, my friends and I would order bottles of this famed liquor from places like The Czech Republic. We thought we were so counter-culture and in-the-know, at the time. Our bottles arrived at our doors in nondescript, brown cardboard boxes marked "Text Books." The DEA probably had too much on its' plate, worrying about cocaine coming over our borders and meth being made in bathtubs. So, I suppose that it didn't have time to worry about a bunch of artistic, rebellious and self-proclaimed bohemian college students sneaking in a bottle of barely-known and culturally outdated alcohol

Still, we thought we were quite the thing. In our minds, we were aligning ourselves with the likes of Pablo Picasso, Julius Verne, Henri de Toulouse Lautrec, Edouard Manet, Vincent Van Gogh, Hilaire-Germain Edgar Degas, Paul Marie Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde, Edgar Allen Poe, and Ernest Hemingway. We were following in their footsteps. How could greatness not follow?

Not everyone was invited to partake of this illicit drink with us, no. Sometimes, a bottle was procured for a special party (most often, Halloween) and only the very trusted were allowed to imbibe. Often, before our guests even showed up, the hosts and significant others toasted to a good and memorable party with a special tipple, the bottle then shuttled away and hidden under the dirty clothes in a closet, somewhere. Sometimes combined with our smoking sheesha out of a hookah, in our minds, we were living the bohemian dream of intoxication, intelligence and art.

If it ever came up in conversation outside the group, we were evasive about even knowing what the drink was, saying, "I don't know. Wasn't that stuff supposed to make you crazy?"

The absinthe that is now widely available for purchase in the U.S. is a somewhat lackluster version of the actual famed French product. Still considering ourselves to be intelligent, artistic, somewhat bohemian-type and experimental people, my hubby and I heard the news of absinthe, legalized, and decided to give it a whirl. We grinned and, like all good intellectuals, researched the products that we looked forward to purchasing at our local Discount Liquor. Sadly, the selections we found to be offered to us were not what we were expecting. The brands coming out were disappointingly low in the psychedelic part of absinthe, known as thujone. But we were not daunted, for long.

It came to our attention that, in the laws, a higher concentration of absinthe with thujone could not be sold, legally. However, under the law, one could procure a concentrated vile of thujone and add it to a high proof liquor (recommended to be 140 proof or higher). So, that's what we did. One little bottle of thujone and one big bottle of 190 proof alcohol later, we were ready for our experience.

There is a poem written by Oriah Mountain Dreamer entitled The Call. It is the middle of 3 prose poems by the same woman. Years ago, I found the the first prose poem, The Invitation, typed out on a plain white piece of paper at an underground rave. When I read it, it touched me deeply, so I saved it. I didn't know who the author of the poem was or how that poem came to be amidst a table of flyers promoting other underground parties, but there it was. I carried the copy I had of The Invitation everywhere I moved to. Occasionally, I would take it out and read it.

By and by, the years went on and I discovered that this Oriah Mountain Dreamer had written a book about her prose poem. After I bought and read that, I discovered that she had written not only two more prose poems along the same vein, but had written books about those two poems, as well.

In The Call, Oriah writes:

"Let yourself be one of the God-mad,
faithful only to the Beauty you are."

Ah, that phrase. It makes you pause, doesn't it. It didn't make me pause. I knew exactly what she meant the first time I read it. The reason, I think that the phrase 'God-mad' causes so many people to stumble is this: we're not used to being ecstatic within religion, anymore, and we're afraid of losing ourselves out there in "wakko" world.

I was raised with a shamanic upbringing. From the time I was very little, I've always been able to enter what people would call "ecstatic" or "meditative" or "trance" states. There wasn't really a word for what I was doing other than "journeying," but I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that The Great Divine Spirit that Dwells in Everything not only existed, but that I and everything around me was a part of it.

My creativity and my spirituality are forever linked. I create because I am a being who was created. I think all beings (even plant, stone, water, fire and wind beings) have that spark of the Divine within us that lights us up so that we can be beacons to each other. In this life, I'm using the spark of creation within me to birth new and positive into the world. 

On this subject, there's a beautiful song called "The Spark of Creation" from the musical Children of Eden. I love it, so here it is!  

If you don't feel the same way about spirituality, it's okay.

It doesn't matter, to me, what your religious or spiritual beliefs are. Even if you're an atheist, that's okay by me. It's one of the main principles in the teachings that I was raised with to respect and never to downplay anothers' experience (or lack there-of) with The Divine. However, I was raised in a native and shamanic tradition, so I tend to look at things and speak about them through that particular filter. I've also studied the religions of the world and gone to a Buddhist university, so when I write about spirituality, you might see me refrencing Ant medicine (for instance) and then using the term "samadhi." I'm just a mish-mash of experience and knowledge, so all parts play a role in my discussions.

In the times we currently live in, not a lot of people believe in being or allow themselves to become God-mad. To be God-mad, one "follow(s) unreservedly the impulse that comes from the moment of fully and ecstatically touching the beauty of the divine within and around me." It is the loss of the self into the beauty and oneness of The Divine until no distinction can be perceived. Many cultures have had instances where the revelers became God-mad. The bacchanalians of Greece and Rome being quite famous instances. But, today, not so much. 

To be God-mad simply implies that at some moment, you allow yourself to be taken away and moved by that spark of the Divine that exists within all of us. Occasionally, I am God-mad. Occasionally, I rejoice because I've been given this wonderful chance to be alive in this body, here and now, and I am thankful. Occasionally, I do strange things that others don't quite understand.

On the night that hubby and I decided to break out our "absinthe," the night felt special. "Maybe," I thought, "I'll write and something inspired will come out." Well, something inspired did come about, but it did not take the form of eloquent prose on the page that I had hoped for.  

As we commenced to drinking, hubby and I began to feel amorous. Giggles loosened from our lips by liquor turned into shy flirtations. 6 years together and we still flirt with each other. Flirtations turned to touches and touches turned to kisses. With out cheeks warmed to a blush from heady-strong licorice flavor, we made love.

After we were done, I stood in front of our bathroom mirror, freshly showered and looked at my hair. "Tonight is a momentous night," I thought. Something big should be done. In that moment, I strode to into our bedroom with purpose and declared to hubby, "I'm gonna cut my hair!" Hubby nodded his head and smiled at me, "Okay."

I had a vague idea of the style I wanted, so back into the bathroom I went. With my hair sleek and wet, I sectioned it off with small clear rubber bands. After I was done, I grabbed my sage, sweet grass and a pair of children's scissors and I headed outside. In our small yard in the middle of a city, I smudged myself with the smoke of the sacred herbs and offered a bit of tobacco in prayer under a moonless sky. From that moment on, I just let the Spirit move me.

In our small yard, in the middle of the night, I began to dance. At first, my movements were slow and measured, my arms moving through space. My steps slowly placed and lifted, placed and lifted, going through the grounded and earthy motions of T'ai Chi Ch'uan, the names of the moves poetry within themselves. Parting the Wild Horse's Mane. Grasp the Bird's Tale, Repulse Monkey. Carry the Tiger Over the Mountain. Hands Moving Through Clouds. Single whip. Within the flow of the T'ai Chi, my body writhed into the flowing and birdlike movements of bellydance. My arms became fluid, like snakes. The pop and lock shoulders and knees of jazz came out, as did the impulsive and strange modern and interpretive dance movements. The yearning of the body, the push and pull, the tight tension of opposites in motion. A sidelong kick. My torso, contract, then release. From named and structured movements, to flowing and ecstatic abandon, I danced in starlight.

I moved and danced like I hadn't been able to dance in years. All the noise of the city fell away. I heard no cars, no barking dogs. If people walked past my celebration in the alley that borders our property, I never noticed them. With eyes closed, the only thing I could hear was my own breath and the incessant ba-boom ba-boom of my heart, beating out its' persistent syncopation in my chest.

Sufficiently winded with my head spinning, I fell to my knees in front of the line of Leyland Cypress trees that edge our small yard. I offered prayers for wisdom and freedom to the 7 sacred directions (North, South, East, West, Up, Down and Inward) as I inhaled the trees' moist green perfume. Out of my pocket, I pulled the turquoise handled children's scissors and took hold of the first strand. Below each rubber band I'd placed in my hair, one satisfactory and sharp snip. Snip. Then snip. Snip. Resolutely, and with prayers of thanks, I entwined each section of snipped hair into the branches of the cypress trees. Let my brothers and sisters of the animal kingdom use these locks as they see fit.

I left one section uncut -- the section in the very back. I thanked Spirit for all the blessings that had come into my life and smiled at the star-smattered sky. Gathering up my sage, my sweet grass and my scissors, I went inside. Hubby had wanted a lock of hair for his medicine pouch. The final lock belonged to him.

My long hair before the cutting

He took the child's scissors in his hand and made the last, resolute snip. He evened the ends out and I removed the rubber bands, shaking my hair loose. We smiled at each other, hugged and, again fell to making love with abandon.

The next morning, I woke up and grabbed my camera. I flipped my hair this way and that, playing with it's new-found tossability. It turned out to be shorter than I'd planned, but I love it and have gotten so many compliments on it. Some of my friends have even suggested coming over and imbibing, together, then me cutting their hair. As I'm no longer as secretive as I was when I was younger (and there's not that fear of illegality of that particular spirit), I said "Sure!"

So, what do you think?

 Absinthe drunk and God-mad, I danced in an altered state. Absinthe drunk and God-mad, I cut my own hair for the first time in my life and offered my shorn ends to the natural world. Absinthe drunk and God-mad, hubby and I made love like teenagers.

We can celebrate our spirituality and creativity in many ways. Maybe bacchanalians aren't your style. However, there are so many experiences in this life that can transform any day from a plain old blah Wednesday to a day full of ecstatic joy. How you choose to express yourself in any aspect is up to you, but I will always suggest the method that brings the most joy, fun, harmony and balance.

Absinthe drunk and God-mad, I cut my hair and made some idle Wednesday in October into a night I will never forget. I encourage you all to take risks and have adventures in your life. You may surprise yourself at the outcome. Art is born from our experiences. But if you're going to imbibe, make sure the kids are taken care of and that you drink responsibly.

And, just so you know, there are a lot of us other free souls, out there who are wild with abandon and cut their own hair when the spirit moves them.

This is a lady I just discovered by the name of Leonie Dawson. I think she's just an amazing person and I can't wait to meet her! She's in Austrailia and here she is, talking about cutting her hair as a freeing ritual, as well.

My loves, tell me, what could free you in your life, right now? What would you do if you were truly free? In what ways have you become God-mad? Leave me a comment and let me know.

Until next time, my babies, remember that we are all visionaries. We just have to figure out where we excel!