Fairy Ring Happening for Peace Invitiation Poster (recto), 2006. Spray paint on paper, 24in x 30in. Edition of 20.

On September 9, 2006, a small cadre of creative Los Angelenos, concerned with the state of the world, participated in a multi-dimensional exercise in creating a psychic resistance to the Global War on Terror.


Readings:
Fairy Ring Manifesto
Calling Yog Soggoth
"Life at War," by Denise Levertov
Excerpt from
Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery, by Starhawk
"The Acid Queen," by Robert Hunter
Excerpt from "The Vision Quest of Charlie Stonecrist," by Charlie Brashers
Unicorns Against Torture
Printable version PDF download

Artists' Pieces:
Pax, the Goddess of Peace, by Jill M. Newman & Tom McKenzie

Chime Zone with Molly Roth,
by Steven L. Anderson
Stepping Stone Dribble, by test8
Peace, by Dave Deany

Photos:
Happening photos (under construction)
Al Herrmann's Flickr set


 

Readings for the Fairy Ring Happening for Peace


The Global War on Terror has been proposed as a new kind of war with a new kind of enemy, which is TERROR. This enemy includes not only Al-Qaeda and other small radical groups, but also those who support or are likely to support such groups, and people or groups who don't support the Global War on Terror.

As the Bush administration has argued on many occasions, the battlefield of this new war is anywhere in the world, even on American soil. But in fact, the battlefield seems to be much more broad and amorphous than merely a physical area--it exists in our hearts and our minds, this is where these global warriors have pushed the battle. In our hearts because they have wounded our spirits with the horrible torture of our fellow human beings, the destruction of the Constitution and the perversion of what we thought were good American values. In our minds, by use of lies, omissions, cover-ups, spin, bullshit and a total disregard for truth. A total denial of an empirical, verifiable reality, unless it conforms to the Bush administration's political goals. And a disregard for the legitimacy of an individual's or a community's subjective reality. The power of the Global War on Terror to make us doubt what we see in front of our own eyes is terrifying. Therein is the real TERROR, and to this we say NO!

We propose to take the fight against war and terror to the streets--the streets of our consciousness. We have no choice but to reclaim our own consciousness and to construct a collective, dissenting actuality.

The Fairy Ring Happening for Peace will serve as a tool for loosening the hegemonic grip of the Global War on Terror's reality and will bring a blossoming of real freedom and new possibilities of resistance.

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[Journalists are] in what we call the reality-based community, [people who] believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.... That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality--judiciously, as you will--we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

--An unnamed Senior Advisor to President Bush, New York Times Magazine, October 17, 2005
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The disasters numb within us
caught in the chest, rolling
in the brain like pebble. The feeling
resembles lumps of raw dough

weighing down a child's stomach on baking day.
Or Rilke said it, "My heart...
Could say of it, it overflows
with bitterness... but no, as though

its contents were simply balled into
formless lumps, thus
do I carry it about."
The same war

continues.
We have breathed the grits of it in, all our lives,
our lungs are pocked with it,
the mucous membrane of our dreams
coated with it, the imagination
filmed over with the gray filth of it:

the knowledge that humankind,

delicate Man, whose flesh
responds to a caress, whose eyes
are flowers that perceive the stars,

whose music excels the music of birds,
whose laughter matches the laughter of dogs,
whose understanding manifests designs
fairer than the spider's most intricate web,

still turns without surprise, with mere regret
to the scheduled breaking open of breasts whose milk
runs out over the entrails of still-alive babies,
transformation of witnessing eyes to pup-fragments,
implosion of skinned penises into carcass-gulleys.

We are the humans, men who can make;
whose language imagines mercy,
lovingkindness; we have believed one another
mirrored forms of a God we felt as good--

who do these acts, who convince ourselves
it is necessary; these acts are done
to our old flesh; burned human flesh
is smelling in Vietnam as I write.

Yes, this is the knowledge that jostles for space
in our bodies along with all we
go on knowing of joy, of love;

our nerve filaments twitch with its presence
day and night,
nothing we say has not the husky phlegm of it in the saying,
nothing we do has the quickness, the sureness,
the deep intelligence living at peace would have.

"Life at War," Denise Levertov, To Stay Alive, New Directions, 1971
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Magic is a word that can be defined in many ways. A saying attributed to Dion Fortune is: "Magic is the art of changing consciousness at will." I sometimes call it the art of evoking power-from-within. Today, I will name it this: the art of liberation, the act that releases the mysteries, that ruptures the fabric of our beliefs and lets us look into the heart of deep space where dwell the immeasurable, life-generating powers.

Those powers live in us also, as we live in them. The mysteries are what is wild in us, what cannot be quantified or contained. But the mysteries are also what is common to us all: blood, breath, heartbeat, the sprouting of seed, the waxing and waning of the moon, the turning of the earth around the sun, birth, growth, death and renewal.

To practice magic is to tap that power, to burrow down through the systems of control like roots that crack concrete to find the living soil below. We are never apart from the power of the mysteries. Every breath we take encompasses the circle of birth, death, and rebirth. The forces that push the blood cells through our veins are the same forces that spun the universe out of the primal ball of fire. We do not know what those forces are. We can invoke them, but we cannot control them, nor can we disconnect from them. They are our life, and when we die, decay, and decompose, we remain still within their cycle.

Yet somehow we human beings, made of the same materials as the stars, the eucalyptus, the jaguar, and the rose, we who inherit four billion years of survival have managed to create a culture in which the power of the mysteries has been denied and power itself has been redefined as power-over, as domination and control. Wielding that false and limited power, we create misery for each other and devastation for the other life forms that share this earth.

We are not particularly happy in this condition. We do not enjoy being the targets of nuclear warheads or developing cancer from our polluted environment. We do not enjoy starving, or wasting our lives in meaningless work, nor are we eager to be raped, abused, tortured, or bossed around. Whether the bosses enjoy their role is not the issue. The question is, How are the rest of us controlled? Or, even more to the point, How do we break control and set ourselves free?

Truth or Dare: Encounters with Power, Authority, and Mystery, by Starhawk, Harper Collins, 1987
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Few cultures have ever had as much of a vested interest in compartmentalized perception as technological society. Specialization insists upon informing individuals deeply but narrowly. And the organization of specialists from different fields has become the key to technological success. The "partial and culturally limited point of view" which has grown up in the West takes its shape mainly from the incubators of Aristotelian logic, Christian dualism and the concept of length. These great formative roots have in common an insistence upon division and fragmentation. Aristotelianism gave us a subject-predicate language, "with its tendency to treat objects as in isolation and to have no place for relations." Christianity, of course, insists upon the theology of God and the Devil, absolute Good and absolute Evil, Heaven and Hell, the Spirit and the Flesh. We have already noted the effects of the concept of length. Together, they provide the conceptual blueprint for the Western psyche--a blueprint the outline of which has been blurred by electronic media, physics and the tremendous insights offered by Gestalt therapy and general semantics, but which remains nevertheless the operative design.

It is worth noting, as several writers have pointed out, that what is existentially astonishing about the LSD experience is the "discovery" that, mentally, most of us have been operating within the confines of a quite narrow and sharply restricted level of consciousness. The dualistic image of the world, which is our culturally limited way of viewing things, is "real" only along the avenues of this one wavelength of consciousness. It is the Oneness of the universe which becomes apparent once the dualistic image to which the reticular system is harnessed has been dissolved or broken down. Again, this discovery can be made through less potent (and dangerous) drugs. It can also be made without recourse to drugs at all. For the consciousness which the drug experience offers is not unique; it is not "new;" it is not unnatural; there is nothing "freaky" or "far-out" or weird about it all, except in the context of contemporary society. The fact that such a holistic consciousness should be seen as being irrational reveals nothing except the degree to which Western civilization itself has become unnatural and freaky.

What do you "see" while stoned, whether on pot or acid or any other "hallucinogen," that isn't already apparent to a mind not locked in a conceptual cage? The attraction felt by drug users for ancient Oriental philosophies and religions is no mere coincidence. Through their drug experiences they have come to see a reality not split by Aristotelian logic or Christian dualism or operationalism. They see things as they were always seen long before the concrete perceptual foundations of the West were poured. The "culturally-limited" point of view stamped upon generations of Europeans and their colonizing children is suddenly seen, through the medium of drugs, to be the product of a "narrow and restricted level of consciousness." To those minds most conditioned by the Western version of consciousness, the attitudes induced by drugs seem appallingly regressive: the idea that "primitives" and "savages" and "barbarians" and "heathens" might have had a better grasp of reality than their white conquerors does not go down well. It makes white supremacy a cruel joke. It makes what we have been conditioned to think of as "civilization" something very close to a farce. Just incidentally, it renders every established political context meaningless, at least as meaningless as the artificial contexts established by economics.

The real fear behind the generally hostile reaction to drugs is that the insights offered by these drugs might be more valid than the insights offered by established authority, that what is called "hallucination" and "illusion" might in fact be a greater (wider, deeper, more profound) perception of reality than the ordinary. Suppose that while stoned you do see things more clearly and directly. Suppose that ordinary (that is, culturally-conditioned) perception is something like partial blindness, imperfect, distorted, incomplete. And now allow just the possibility that drugs might open your eyes wider, that you might be able through the medium of drugs to perceive things in a more complete manner, that you might be able to activate repressed or dormant perceptual faculties within yourself.... Immediately, one can appreciate the threat these drugs represent to the established order. It is an order dominated by people who have learned the tricks of surviving and flourishing inside it. If it may be thought of as an elaborate machine, it is a machine which some people have learned to operate, and these people, naturally, have risen to positions of power based on their ability to operate the controls. They understand this machine. They have a mechanic's love of its familiar intricacies. Anything which suggests the existence of another, more complex and pervasive machine, one whose functioning is not understood by the people who have learned to work the old machine (or reality) is threatening to them in the extreme. If a greater reality emerges and claims the minds of men, what becomes of the lesser reality? It will be consigned, inevitably, to the garbage heap. And with it, also inevitably, will go all those who depended on it for their power and authority.

We may understand the drug phenomenon better if we think in terms of the need for equilibrium. It was not until the advent of mass media that the operational mode of consciousness could penetrate every level of experience. At every point of contact with the world out there we found ourselves confronted with engineers. Our emotional responses had been fiddled with, tickled, trained. Every commercial sought to control these responses. Every government announcement had been designed to impress itself upon us at the deepest level possible. Subtle (and often not-so-subtle) manipulation had become the overwhelmingly dominant characteristic of the mass society in whose currents we found ourselves washed. Manipulation is pure operationalism. Almost nothing was said or done "in public" without a reason. The whole public sector had been turned into a fantasy world. Not incidentally, but fundamentally. And not despite "rationality," but strictly in accordance with the functionalistic imperatives inherent in our concept of rationality. It was to this world that we related ourselves, incorporating its distortions into our own systems. Even our "spontaneity," in part, had become based on emotional responses patterned on false memories.

Yet in its natural state, human consciousness possesses a "center," which is not a single point of identity but a psychic ecosystem of sorts. It was this system whose equilibrium had been massively disrupted by the full-scale intrusions of technological rationality, and it was this system which needed to right itself in order for identity, the touchstone of consciousness, to retain some basic intactness. Just as physically we require nourishment (real food) in order to survive, so psychically, we require real, substantial experience, real events, real people. Certainly, we still have much of that. But the servings of real experience, in relative terms, had shrunk drastically in comparison to the unreal experience with which we were daily confronted. The psyche was to become undernourished, its internal equilibrium was disrupted, and in order to regain that equilibrium, to replenish itself, the, psyche had to make some large re-adjustments. It had to become more adept at distinguishing real from unreal, in order to reject the toxic food of unreal experience. And it had to find ways of improving its immediate perception of things and events. Drugs, insofar as their use (as opposed to their misuse) assisted in the process of cleansing the doors of perception, enlarging them at any rate so that they were no longer contained within the artificial operational frame, were admirably suited to one of the essential psychic requirements of the times.

"The Acid Queen," Chapter 7 of The Storming of the Mind, by Robert Hunter, McClelland and Stewart Ltd., © Robert Hunter, 1971
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That is the prophet awaited in the dawn--some physically rich, elder relative, hallucinated in the dawn distance and approaching with his mesmerizing, transforming, fructifying gift. That is why we gaze for his headdress in the sky.

Hoping to discover in distance the creative principle that will recreate us. Hoping to absorb our conscious mind in a day-break star, or the lazy circles of a red-tailed hawk, so that our unconscious can come up and speak to us. For it is ourselves speaks to ourselves. We sit on the rim of canyons and gaze until we populate the distance with our fantasies. Products of ourselves, which we feed the distance, that it may, in turn feed us.

Hallucinations, if you will. Dreams. These visions are the language of what is deepest and truest in us. The voices of our essential identities.

These voices tell us who and what we are. These visions tell us how to live with the earth, water, fire, sky. Our minds are the puppets of our beliefs; our beliefs, the children of our psychic visions.

If we nurture the sky with honor, truth, compassion, we put a different set of puppet strings on our minds. It is ours to choose. With deliberation and consistency, we make our world what it is. Our spirit creates the world we live in.

If we are mean, we make our world mean.

That is the message of spiritual unity the distance speaks of.

Some are frightened, for distance, too lays claim to a part of the soul. Fire tries to hypnotize, water to tranquillize, earth to enroot; but distance tries to capture a part of ourselves. A huge prospect, come upon suddenly, startles an involuntary backward step and a breath jerked in. Protective gestures both. Preparations for an attack. But if we acknowledge those dreams, those hallucinations, those visions of ourselves, we can know.

And, in knowing, we create. Not just our world, but also our spirit.
With knowing, we create our own spirit.

We create ourselves.

By that creative principle in self awareness, we create ourselves.

Yes, Red-Twilight-Sky Boy, you are myself.
Yes, Grandfather Loon, you are myself.
Yes, Rainbow-Boy or Girl, you are myself.
Yes, Grandmother Turtle, who dug the primal mud from the primal sea and made the earth, you are myself.

Yes, Charlie Stonecrist, you are myself.

"The Vision Quest of Charlie Stonecrist," by Charlie Brashers. The Blue Cloud Quarterly, Vol. 22, No. 2, 1976.
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Artists' pieces from the Fairy Ring Happening for Peace

Pax, the Goddess of Peace, by Jill M. Newman & Tom McKenzie


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Chime Zone with Molly Roth, by Steven L. Anderson

Chime Zone with Molly Roth (Excerpt)
2:00 [ listen ]

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Stepping Stone Dribble, by test8

Stepping Stone Dribble (Excerpt) 2:00 [ listen ]

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Peace, Dave Deany, 2007. Ink on paper.


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