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CHAOTOPIA Newsletter 
April 2020
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COVID-19 THOUGHTS AND NEWS
No two days are the same. I brought forward the date of this newsletter because it's all shifting so fast, so there's no shortage of necessary new thoughts to fill these pages. I don't think I ever truly expected to see times like these, when the irreversability of the flow of human life is so obvious, when there is no turning back to what went before.

None of what follows pretends to completeness.

SPRING HOME BREW
An old family recipe for the Spring: how to make Dire drink.


SOCIAL DISTANCING
Be Like Odin, by Matthew Frederick (@putmyspellonyou)
 
SCIENCE
Last newsletter I featured a tune composed from the DNA sequence of the coronavirus. Now people are doing something similar with the virus's protein structure, and for a different purpose. Audio sequences are helping scientists get their heads round the complexities of the virus's spike protein, which is how it attaches to human cells. 'This, the researchers say, is faster and more intuitive than conventional methods used to study proteins, such as molecular modeling.'

TECHNOLOGY
A book called The Knowledge: How to rebuild our world from scratch came out a few years ago, but of course is having a popularity surge. I have it but haven't had time to read it yet, but it looks interesting. Even if you're not planning to build a toaster from raw materials, you may still be curious about what it takes for such a thing to exist at all.
 

SOCIETY

Now for the good news: Spain is introducing Universal Basic Income. Better still, 'the government’s broader ambition is that basic income becomes an instrument “that stays forever, that becomes a structural instrument, a permanent instrument”'.

In November 2019 David Graeber in Against Economics was wondering what it would take for the political world to come to its senses:
'Breaking through neoclassical economics’ lock on major institutions, and its near-theological hold over the media—not to mention all the subtle ways it has come to define our conceptions of human motivations and the horizons of human possibility—is a daunting prospect. Presumably, some kind of shock would be required. What might it take? Another 2008-style collapse? Some radical political shift in a major world government? A global youth rebellion? However it will come about, books like this—and quite possibly this book—will play a crucial part.'

That was just five months ago. Obviously, no-one in their right mind would have chosen the covid-19 pandemic as an ideal means to a better society, but now it's here, it'd be criminal not to make use of the opportunities it presents for change. Now we are seeing even the Bank of England admitting that 'money is just an IOU', and therefore the economic theory that has supported decades of neoliberalism is a fraud. 

The bad news: some governments are of course enjoying the new powers that they are taking to themselves to 'flatten the curve' of infection. Emergency powers acquired by those in charge are seldom relinquished willingly when the emergency is 'over'.

Following up thoughts on the theft of the commons, and why we need and deserve UBI, here's an excerpt from Prof. Guy Standing's The Idler article.
THE MAGICK

Bear in mind that authoritarian script when you are enchanting for the next stage of the world. We have to be careful about how we define an emergency and how we judge when it's over. What is an emergency? How bad does it have to get to qualify?

To answer that question, we need to keep in perspective the whole covid-19 pandemic, and the high probability of similar pandemics in the future. We need to understand pandemics as just a part, albeit a very big one at the moment, of the business of life and death.

I'm definitely not suggesting as some are that 'the economy' is more important than people's lives. If you need to sacrifice people who' ve become vulnerable because of a broken social contract, then you've got a broken society and some kind of mantra of economic growth is a symptom of that dysfunction.

Rather, we need to keep in mind how big a demon coronavirus is compared to other diseases, or, say, to road accidents. Or to bad government. After all, we've been sold a crock of crap with the 'War on Terror'; off the top of my head, the figures go something like this: you are seventeen times more likely to be killed by your own furniture than by acts of terrorism. In lipservice to that tiny extra risk we spend extra hours on pointless security theatre every time we catch a plane, and that's a pretty minor inconvenience when laid aside what some deranged authoritarians would like to do to us using covid as an excuse.

So when you cast your next spell for a better world, remember to consider carefully the freedoms we have now and which we stand to lose.


The Reverend Danny Nemu writes: 'And here we are again, with front row seats as the curtain draws back on the biggest #apocalypse since the Early Modern period!
'Keep your hands sanitised and your sanity handy as you dig into that panic-purchased apoca-poca-popcorn and enjoy the show.'
Danny is well worth reading. Follow him on Twitter
BREATHWORK 
As you no doubt know, I coach Connected Breathwork. I've been doing this since 1993, and I've had years of experience coaching via Skype, so I know how to make coaching work well online.

What can it do for you?
Connected breathwork has been described as ‘the science of enjoying the whole of your life’. It relieves anxiety and stress, improves your outlook on life, causes bliss states, puts you in touch with the profound life-energy of breath – and cures boredom!  A few sessions led by a coach should convince you of the power of this technique to let go of negativity, and fill yourself with life-energy.
You can book an online session here. Or simply email me at david23lee@chaotopia.com.
And concessions are available; if you are on benefits or low income, please ask. 

Here's a couple of Connected Breathwork exercises 

The Bliss of the Now: Twenty Connected Breaths.

Sometimes you may notice that you are not really ‘here’, in present time. You might be feeling lost in your thoughts about the future or emotions from the past.

With breathwork, we are cultivating ecstasy, which starts with being present, in real time, in your body. Try this exercise, as often as you like, to bring yourself into present time.

Sit and relax.
Pay attention to the current of your breath, connecting each breath to the next so that there is no pause between them - as soon as you finish breathing in, start breathing out.
As your exhale ends naturally, start inhaling.
Take four deeper breaths than usual, followed by the deepest breath you can manage.
Then repeat this cycle four times, giving you 20 breaths altogether, all connected, so there are no pauses or holds.
This brings you back into now, into present time in your body.
You can do it many times a day – but don't try it while driving, (at least not until you are used to the effects!)

 

Overcoming Insomnia
If you suffer from the kind of sleeplessness that’s a result of your thoughts racing, even when you’re tired, then this technique could bring you a lot of relief. 

Lying on your back, with your arms at your side, start doing deep, fast connected breaths. That is, a little faster and a lot deeper than your norm, and connected – which means as soon as you finish the inhale, you begin the exhale – there is no pause or hold in this breath cycle.
 
Keep this up until you can feel some dizziness or light-headedness, and / or some tingling in the hands and feet. This is the beginning of the special state of consciousness that comes about from connected breathwork. You should find now that your thoughts are less and less important, that your attention is focused on the sensations in your body.
 
Do this for a few minutes, then turn onto your side and curl up. The relative restriction of breath usually results in rapid onset of sleep.
 
Sweet dreams!

Archive of recent newsletters here
BLOGS
So busy with writing about Covid, I didn’t post this link to the IOT blog in the last issue. It's a complete history and how-to-use guide for the IOT's healing spirit, Kawa Pohr. This entity was 'created' in 1993, then discovered to have another kind of existence in 1994, then given a name which... oh just read it.
 
 
And the latest IOT blog post from frontline worker Soror Brigantia

'I find myself in a position of solidarity with other essential workers; the people who clean the hospitals and shops, shop workers, factory workers, care workers, steel workers, police and the postal services and the many many others who do jobs that run so smoothly we are not aware of their essential work. The unknown heroes of the crisis. It seems that some of our most essential people are the lowest paid, putting themselves at risk every working day for a pittance.'

Yet more from the highly creative IOT British Isles - the Kite's Cradle, wherein Kite uses the F-word:
 
 

OTHER THINGS TO READ
The Sheffield SF and Fantasy Writers' Group have various collections of work by members. Most of these are available on the blog's shop page. The next collection will contain the first publication of one of my Inspector Hound stories. 
 
MAGICKAL WORKSHOPS

Airy Fairy's highly successful series of magickal workshops will go ahead - online. Starting with Anwen Fryer on Making Runes and myself, Dave Lee, presenting Introduction to the Runes, this coming Saturday 18th April, at 6pm BST. This evening slot will enable people in other time zones to join us for the first time. More details to follow.
 
WORLD OF 23
VIRTUAL CAFE AT AIRY FAIRY!
You no longer have to live near Sheffield to come to the talks. I was one of a series of speakers this week at Airy Fairy's Virtual Coffee Mornings.  More to come.

PSYCHEDELIA


More psychedelic news than you can shake a mushroom stalk at: 
Most of it's US news, but there really is a lot of stuff in there.  

Psymposia are doing some good work getting the (bad) news out about the big money feeding frenzy around psychedelics now they are edging towards new legal status. And here's their mission statement:

I haven't listened to most of their podcasts. I just don't have the patience for podcasts, especially now I hardly ever drive. So I joined them on Patreon to help fund transcription of their talks.

Check out a related Fortune article here

'As the coronavirus pandemic demonstrates the failures of capitalism on a global scale, we plan to focus our lens on these issues as they relate to public health, for-profit medicine, clinical research, and criminal justice reform.
'The root causes of the mental health crisis and ongoing epidemic of deaths of despair are staring us in the face: namely health and wealth inequality. The story that psychedelic medicalization will revolutionize mental health, at some point in the future, simply doesn't hold up if its proponents continue to advocate for the status quo while failing to advocate for systemic social, economic, and political change in the here and now.'

You'll get the flavour from “Making  psychedelics  boring  again”. 
 
But not only boring. There are some really deranged scummers hovering round. Take for instance Christian Angermayer, the world’s largest psychedelic pharmaceutical investor and founder of ATAI Life Sciences, who calls to sacrifice public health for the sake of “the economy.” "Flattening the Curve is Complete BS". This is a man who wants to stay richer than anyone has ever needed to be, and he wants you to die for him.


Danny Nemu from Breaking Convention 2019, on Prejudice and Neo-colonialism in the Academic study of Ayahuasca.


OK so we're all in lockdown. But what about prisners, who get lockdown all the time? Life During Lockdown focuses on Willaim Leonard Pickard, the brilliant individual who is serving life without parole for making medicine.
 
And here's an article exploring the mystery of how DMT leads to such a coherent otherworld:
the breakthrough DMT state doesn’t present itself as a maelstrom of confusion and chaos — although this does typify the early stages of the experience — but rather fully realised worlds of crystalline clarity and replete with a diverse ecology of intelligent beings eager to communicate with the tripper. The switch from Channel Consensus Reality to Channel DMT is swift, efficient, and complete.


 
GENERAL WEIRDNESS
Actual proteins in stardust. Yeah, not amino acids, actual proteins. Proteins that split water.






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