Earlier in the evening he asked me if I wanted a dog for Christmas. Knowing I couldn't responsibly afford to take care of one I declined. Untrained, but raised unleashed, the dogs he had with him were good dogs, they listened to commands and were well socialized.
When I heard the gun shot I knew that the dog I turned down was dead.
I sat there for a long time, unmoved and unmoving. Up in North Georgia where I often spend time in the woods, I don't even kill scorpions when they come around, I let the spiders build webs where they will, and don't worry too much about what the forest brings forward no matter how inconvenient it is to my sense of security. Facing the death of an intelligent, lively dog that I could have saved by simply opening my door put me face to face with the visceral realities of life and death and the meaning of suffering.
To get angry or sad, would be to forget that every moment there are uncountable deaths from the dissolution of atoms to stars exploding in unseen galaxies. In between there is the insurmountable amount of suffering as conscious beings are torn apart by the ebb and flow of phenomenal existence.
Here in the Georgia night, there was a gun shot in the distance and a dead dog. A man shooting a dog for no other reason than the fact that he'd bred too many.
I just wrote a piece over on Reality Sandwich asking the question, who mourns the coming of the Kali Yuga? Thinking now on that dog, I have tears in my eyes, but I sit above the sense of pain at the pointlessness of it. It's Saturnalia after all, there used to be sacrifices of a much more direct kind, there's official and unofficial wars ripping apart the world right now, and there's a dog on some guy's compost heap...and I mean that literally, one of the folks who has lived in the area for a long time said that the compost heap in a place like that is essentially where everything ends up that doesn't need to go to the dump, dead dogs included.
In writing that Kali Yuga piece Camron Wiltshire, of Sacred Geometry International, asked me what the astrological components of the age are, to tell whether or not this is actually the Kali Yuga. I have no idea. Jeremy Johnson, a Contributing Editor at Reality Sandwich, said that he felt we're already in the Kali Yuga in relation to the title referencing 'the coming' of that age. He pointed out a post on his Tumblr feed with a quote from Mircea Eliade's book, Images and Symbols:
“The syndrome of kali yuga is marked by the fact that it is the only age in which property alone confers social rank; wealth becomes the only motive of virtues, passion and lust the only bonds between the married, falsehood and deception the first condition of success in life, sexuality the sole means of enjoyment, while external, merely ritualstic religion is confused with spirituality. For several thousand years, be it understood, we have been living in kali yuga.”
This is the same sense that Mark Stavish, Director of the Institute for Hermetic Studies, said he references the term to mark the material excess of our age. Stavish pointed out that he has "used the notion of the Kali Yuga as a wake-up call or contrast to the wonderfully seductive ideas of a technological paradise. As for astrology, there are several ideas floating around, and each needs to be addressed in their context. I think one of the easiest and most obvious contradictions is that of the Age of Aquarius being bliss and freedom when it is ruled by Saturn is one of those areas of inconsistency that I try to point people towards. Also the possibility that the world is really turned on its head in terms of values." Wiltshire, Johnson, Stavish and some others provided conceptual addendums to the piece. Another fellow, Daniel Gill, offered up some sources on a Vietnamese sorcerer whose work he is interested in, and whose philosophies have helped Gill conceptualize his own experiences. A few of the comments the piece received bore a randomness that made them koan like in trying to relate them to what was written, but that's fairly common in digital media.
In all that though, I'm still stuck on the startling crack of a gun shot in the distance, and the memory of a trusting, sweet dog running up to me that's probably now rotting on a heap of garbage waiting for the crows, maggots, ants and vultures to get the hint and strip it down to bone. This world is a complete trap my friends, a complete and utter trap. It's amazing, every second another distraction from the source of all being, even when we try to think about avoiding those distractions we distract ourselves defining the distraction. No avoidance of the 'world' is necessary, I'm not saying stick your head in a hole, but a proper view/practice is. Without it, the subtle seduction of false self and false goals is supremely elusive.
This time of fire and isolation is a beautiful opportunity, the deepest sense of loneliness if used properly is the poison that kills the root of illusion. There's a dead dog on a compost heap slowly moldering to bone and then dust, and that is the best mantra I can think of to meditate on if I want to get to the core of being. Somewhere in the truth of that, much deeper than I know, is the practice of Tantra. It also gives a sense of the alchemical art, that's why all those alchemical recipes have ingredients that are extremely deadly if used improperly.
As an anonymous Italian alchemist pointed out to me once, “people love to forget that Nature does not need us, that she is without space and time, and that her teachings are always actual and a mystery to us.” He also mentioned a very useful point, and he was very kind in how direct he was in providing this clue:
"The Dragon will not easily give access to the entrance of the Palace: it’s guarding a Princess and a Treasure. To be the Knight who may kill the Dragon does not mean to be simply a good man: you must be a real Knight, and a long and appropriate training, a veil, and a vow, should be performed as it was once upon a time.As I said in the article on Reality Sandwich, there is no fraud in this if you are truly looking to discover what is hidden in plain sight, if you seek to cheat the ferryman's fee you're still heading straight into the gates of death. Two or three decades of continuous study and practice, and there are no guarantees, yet we want a quick answer, or some conceptual solution that will give us entry to the palace of being. I've been chewing on that alchemists words for nearly 3 years now, and as simple, somewhat silly and obvious as they seem, it may take me a life time more to even begin to enter into what he really means.
That’s a real thing. The combat is real. Mother Nature enters your Laboratory, and that’s not to play around with good manners and wordly, nice, New Age mantras. You may risk your real life. Remember that Alchemy is an Art done with your hands, with minerals, in a small Laboratory. Forget those who speak of Self, Enlightenment, Spiritual bodies, Angels in the bedroom, Mystical Visions and so on. These things do of course exists, but not in the form we may think of; they will come in light with time, but after when they will sense that the student is currently walking on the ancient paths. And this may happen only after at least two or three decades of continuous studying, learning how to switch off Ratio and to live life with simplicity, silence, Love and compassion."
Now, however, I have a Christmas gift that I didn't even realize I'd accepted, and I'm dedicated to a dead dog shot by a guy for no other reason than that he bred too many, and that sweet, trusting dog can show me things about nature that I might not have otherwise accepted if I'd tried to conceptualize the pathless path.
David Metcalfe is a researcher, writer and multimedia artist focusing on the interstices of art, culture, and consciousness. He is a contributing editor for Reality Sandwich, The Revealer, the online journal of NYU’s Center for Religion and Media, and The Daily Grail. He writes regularly for Evolutionary Landscapes, Alarm Magazine, Modern Mythology, Disinfo.com, The Teeming Brain and his own blog The Eyeless Owl. His writing has been featured in The Immanence of Myth (Weaponized 2011), Chromatic: The Crossroads of Color & Music (Alarm Press, 2011) and Exploring the Edge Realms of Consciousness (North Atlantic/Evolver Editions 2012). Metcalfe is an Associate with Phoenix Rising Digital Academy, and is currently co-hosting The Art of Transformations study group with support from the International Alchemy Guild.
In collaboration with Dr. R. Andrew Chesnut, Chair of Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University and Liminal Analytics, Metcalfe's most recent efforts have been focused on studying the growing devotional tradition associated with Santa Muerte (Saint Death) in the Americas.