Category Archives: Christianity

The Enemy Within: Trump vs. the Deep State

A perfect time to post this message from Chris Hedges. I agree that with or without Trump, the path of imperial downfall and associated evils is unavoidable. Only a spontaneous, nation-wide violent revolution can change the course of this slice of history. Think Germany 1933, when Hitler was made chancellor. At that point, anyone could have been a Hitler. The time to prevent totalitarianism and ensuing bloodshed would have been a couple of years before and it would have required another bloody revolution. Likely Germany, then France, would have joined the Soviet Union. International banksterism and ascendant US corporate power wasn’t going to let that happen. They aided and abetted Hitler. Today they are aiding and abetting two ascendant powers: China and Russia as America is being abandoned to become the wasteland of the empire. Be that as it may, let’s look at what this article has to say.  Any highlighting is mine. (Sha’Tara) 

http://www.darkmoon.me
PUBLISHED ON TRUTHSEEKER
By Chris Hedges

Abridged by Lasha Darkmoon with brief commentary
November 11, 2019

(191111-The Enemy Within: Trump vs. the Deep State)

Is Trump an enemy of the Deep State . . . or is he secretly working for it?

“Trump committed political heresy when he dared to point out the folly of unchecked militarism. He will pay for it. The war between the deep state and Trump began the moment he was elected.” — Chris Hedges

Our democracy is not in peril. We do not live in a democracy. (It’s the image of our democracy (that) is in peril.)

Trump’s most unforgivable sin in the eyes of the deep state is his criticism of the empire’s endless wars, even though he lacks the intellectual and organizational skills to oversee a disengagement.

The deep state committed the greatest strategic blunder in American history when it invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq. Such fatal military fiascos, a feature of all late empires, are called acts of “micro-militarism.” Dying empires historically squander the last capital they have, economic, political and military, on futile, intractable and unwinnable conflicts until they collapse.

They seek in these acts of micro-militarism to recapture a former dominance and lost stature. Disaster piles on disaster. The architects of our imperial death spiral, however, are untouchable.

The clueless generals and politicians who propel the empire into expanding chaos and fiscal collapse are successful at one thing—perpetuating themselves. No one is held accountable. A servile press treats these mandarins with near-religious veneration. Generals and politicians, many of whom should have been cashiered or put on trial, are upon retirement given lucrative seats on the boards of the weapons manufacturers, for whom these wars are immensely profitable. They are called upon by a fawning press to provide analysis to the public of the mess they created. They are held up as exemplars of integrity, selfless service and patriotism.

LD: The trendy phrase “deep state” appears to be the latest euphemism for international Jewry and their elite non-Jewish collaborators in the big corporations and military-industrial complex. These include the generals, bankers, corporatists, lobbyists, intelligence chiefs, government bureaucrats, technocrats, evangelical Christians, and the fawning presstitutes of the main stream media. All these gentile sycophants of Big Jewry have one thing in common: they are all passionate Zionists for whom the state of Israel is sacrosanct. They would rather see America go up in flames than suffer the loss of a single acre of stolen land in Occupied Palestine. [LD]

(I would caution getting all twisted up over the author’s use of “Jewry” and “Jewish” in this context. This is not a lesson in political correctness, this is an exposé of anti-life elitist collaboration. Substitute “Zionism” for “Jewry” and problem solved. – S’T) 

After nearly two decades, every purported objective used to justify our wars in the Middle East has been upended.

The invasion of Afghanistan was supposed to wipe out al-Qaida. Instead, al-Qaida migrated to fill the power vacuums the deep state created in the wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen. The war in Afghanistan morphed into a war with the Taliban, which now controls most of the country and is threatening the corrupt regime we prop up in Kabul.

The deep state orchestrated the invasion of Iraq, which had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11. It confidently predicted it could build a Western-style democracy and weaken Iran’s power in the region. Instead, it destroyed Iraq as a unified country, setting warring ethnic and religious factions against each other. Iran, which is closely tied to the dominant Shiite government in Baghdad, emerged even stronger.

Then there is the fiasco in Syria. The deep state armed “moderate” rebels in Syria in an effort to topple President Bashar Assad, but when it realized it could not control the jihadists—to whom it had provide some $500 million in weapons and assistance—the deep state began to bomb them and arm Kurdish rebels to fight them. These Kurds would later be betrayed by Trump.

Next was Yemen. The “war on terror” spread like a plague from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Libya to Yemen, which after five years of war is suffering one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters. The financial cost for this misery and death is between $5 trillion and $8 trillion. The human cost runs into hundreds of thousands of dead and wounded, shattered cities, towns and infrastructure and millions of refugees.

Trump committed political heresy when he dared to point out the folly of unchecked militarism. He will pay for it. The deep state intends to replace him with someone—perhaps Mike Pence, as morally and intellectually vacuous as Trump—who will do what he is told.

The removal of Trump from office would not threaten corporate power. It would not restore civil liberties, including our right to privacy and due process.

It would not demilitarize the police or champion the rights of the working class.

It would not impede the profits of the fossil fuel and banking industries.

It would not address the climate emergency.

It would not disrupt the warrantless surveillance of the public.

It would not end extraordinary renditions, the kidnapping of those around the globe considered to be enemies of the state.

It would not halt the assassinations by militarized drones.

It would not halt the separation of children from their parents and the warehousing of these children in filthy, overcrowded conditions.

It would not remedy the consolidation of wealth and power by the oligarchs and the further impoverishment of the citizenry.

The expansion of our prison system and of black sites throughout the world, sites where we torture, would continue, as would the gunning down of poor, unarmed citizens in urban wastelands.

Most importantly, the catastrophic foreign wars that have resulted in a series of failed states and wasted trillions of taxpayer dollars, would remain sacrosanct, enthusiastically embraced by the leaders of the two ruling parties, puppets of the deep state.

The impeachment of Trump, despite the enthusiasm of the liberal elite, is mostly cosmetic. The entire political and governmental system is corrupt. Corporate lobbyists write the laws. The courts enforce them. There is no way in the American political system to vote against the interests of Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, AT&T, Amazon, Microsoft, Walmart, Alphabet, Facebook, Apple, Exxon Mobil, Lockheed Martin, UnitedHealth Group or Northrop Grumman.

We, the American public, are spectators. An audience. Who will be seated when the game of musical chairs stops?

Will Trump be able to hold on to power?

Will Pence be the new president?

Or will the deep state elevate a political hack like Joe Biden . . . or, God forbid, Hillary Clinton?

And what if the deep state fails?

The war between the deep state and Trump began the moment he was elected. Former CIA Director John Brennan and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper—both now paid news cable commentators—along with former FBI head James Comey soon would accuse Trump of being a tool of Moscow. Intelligence agencies leaked salacious stories about “pee tapes” and blackmail, plus reports of “repeated contacts” with Russian intelligence. Brennan, Clapper and Comey were quickly joined by other former intelligence officials. Their attacks were then amplified by former senior military leaders.

The Russia conspiracy, after the release of the Mueller report, proved to be a dud. The deep state actors, however, were re-energized by Trump’s decision to pressure the government of Ukraine to investigate Biden. Trump, this time, seems to have given his deep state enemies enough rope to hang him.

The impeachment of Trump marks a new and frightening chapter in American politics. The deep state has shown its face. It has made a public declaration that it will not tolerate dissent, although Trump’s dissent is rhetorical and ineffectual.

The effort to impeach Trump sends an ominous message to the American left. Its resources to destroy those on the left are nearly inexhaustible.

There are no internal or external checks on the deep state.

The deep state will further expand the social inequality that has thrust half of Americans into poverty or near poverty, strip us of our remaining civil liberties and feed the rapacious appetites of the military and the war industry.

The resources of the state will be squandered as the federal deficit balloons. The frustration and feelings of stagnation among a disempowered and neglected citizenry, which contributed to the election of Trump, will mount.

There will come a moment of reckoning, as there has during the last few days in Lebanon and Chile. Social unrest is inevitable. Any population can be pushed only so far.

Trump, in the end, is not the problem. We are.

And if the deep state fails to rid itself of Trump it will, however reluctantly, use him to carry out its dirty work.

Original source: Truthdig

“Trump, if he manages to survive, will get his military parades.
We will get, with or without Trump, tyranny.”
— Chris Hedges

The Age of the Dictators

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ ]

Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of an intervention that not only saved my physical life but sent me off on a 180 degree tangent from what I had been. That can only have meaning to myself, of course, or perhaps to anyone who may have been touched by some of the thoughts and ideas on expressing life which I have spouted quite regularly and annoyingly. After all, who wants change that turns all the known and relative comfortable on its head? Better to stick with the tried and failed, follow tradition. Tomorrow is “Good Friday” as declared by the Roman Church many years ago and subsequently adhered to by all of Christendom. That the concept was stolen from the very “pagans” the Church despised and massacred is of little consequence: we have a TRADITION!

That out of my way, I want to write a bit about some recent observations of the global political processes. Lots of noise and bloody foolishness bandied about as the overcrowded numbties of Earth increasingly go for the jugular over their beliefs and traditions. Not so different than previous slices of historical drama except that now we can “participate” in the processes globally through satellite feeds and the quasi-ubiquitous Internet.

I have noticed a serious difference however, and I call it ‘The Age of the Dictators.’

Man’s civilization is of course familiar with, and his history replete with, dictators but what makes this age different is the global and successful wave of political power grabbing by psychopathic and sociopathic billionaires or military leaders able to circumvent democratic constitutions written to prevent this sort of thing from “ever happening again.” Fledgling democracies established through compromise with totalitarian powers of business, banking and the social security state in the last couple hundred years are being systematically dis-empowered and disarmed by the returning totalitarians.

Temporarily sidetracked, the forces of dictatorship slowly but systematically burrowed into the democratic forms of government, buying stooges, corrupting ideals, installing preferred leaders, developing armies of constitutional lawyers to challenge existing laws that protected the people, particularly the most vulnerable: women, children, the working poor, racial minorities and changing rules that allowed all and sundry to vote, thus in a small way making their voices heard. The stooges of totalitarian power are now overtly active in eliminating free speech and destroying all vestiges of a so-called free press. More: in the USA in particular, 50% of the nation’s income is now barrelling like a train without brakes into the military and much of the rest finds its way into the pockets of its billionaires while a flaming racist and sexual predator rules the country from the White House.

War criminals, torturers, sexual predators, perverts, corrupt billionaires, these it would appear, form the preferred choice of voters in most democracies yet we know that it is ownership of the propaganda apparatus and manipulation of polls that have made this possible. Well, some of us know this but of course those who are trained to react to a ‘score’ as if an election was nothing more than a playoff take it at face value that their team won or lost the game and they’ll have to wait another four years to attend another playoff in which their team with better management, stronger or sexier players and richer sponsors, will have a chance to win.

That’s what democracy and the “popular vote” has become: sports teams, playoffs and a final score.

The conclusion was foregone when this began happening decades ago. No one can change the course of events now all hope and talk to the contrary. Unknown to the spectators of the democratic playoff game was a much more powerful team some have labelled “the New World Order” to be politically correct, to be sprung upon the bewildered spectators. It was funded and manned to crush all opposition and usher in the Age of the Totalitarian Dictators. It’s team consisted of the most mentally weak and morally corrupt psychopaths and the owners made the rules for the final playoff.

The people never clued in that “participatory democracy” did not begin and end at the polling booth but had to be a 24/7 commitment to an ideal. Too bad and so sad: goodbye democracies. Now we lose everything. Now we go to war against one-another and against our natural environment. Now we bleed, suffer and die. Now we pay the price for our apathy and woeful ignorance of the kind of forces that have always manipulated us to kill and die for their enrichment and entertainment.

Let’s follow the leaders and go out on the streets to cheer the final winners, our Dictators.

Our World is Essentially a Violent Place (or if you wish, How did I discover myself here from there?)

[scattered remembrances from   ~burning woman~   by Sha’Tara]

This may come across as a strange piece of admission but…???

When we are young we live as if we were immortal. That is a truism except that for some of us, we do not want that immortality which translates as eternity. It demands responsibility we have no idea how to deal with.

Some of us are born watchers, observers of our world, perhaps because at birth we partially broke out of the programming, or because it didn’t take. So what do we see, or to be more personal (and honest) what did I see?

I saw that the weak and the meek get the raw deal. Though I sometimes saw the other side of the coin what hit home was its dark side: the fear, the hate, the distrust, the anger – the IN-JUST-ICE!

I cringed when the parents fought each other and there was no place to hide except under useless blankets if I couldn’t get dressed quickly enough to run for the barn and hide among the cows, not for protection but for their warmth and so as not to have to listen and feel the “terror” taking place in the house, a terror that could quickly turn against me as the convenient scapegoat.

Then I got older and saw that the family squabbles resembled the world squabbles only these were on a much greater scale. I was learning responsibility too at the same time. More choices.

Mine, I judged, was a harsh world with little leeway in terms of forgiveness. You made a mistake, you paid a price, often way beyond the weight of the mistake. The same was true of nations and races; of the poor and for the powerless gender, all claims and propaganda to the contrary.

I so desired to do away with myself but what to do? I had a life and my religion stated unequivocally that if I took that life I was damned to exist in a burning hell for eternity: again, no escape, not even the warm flank of a milk cow there. I would stare at a pitch fork and try to imagine what it would feel like to be endlessly prodded by that as a punishment for something I had done out of despair millions of years ago. I would also know that despair was another mortal sin that was added to my punishment, of course.

So no escape, just choices. I saw and felt pain, my earliest recollection. Then I saw jealousy and senseless expectations. I saw injustice and how it nurtured fear, doubt, distrust, hate, anger and brutality. Where in that did I fit in? Nowhere, but since there was nowhere to hide from all of it, and as my knowledge expanded exponentially, I sensed a growing awareness of the essential brutality of the world and I was forced to make hard choices.

I saw two: I could choose to accept and suffer the arrows of injustice upon myself and for the most helpless of the world (I did not know that was known as being empathetic) or I could fight back. Fighting back meant using violence, no matter what word is used to hide that fact and using violence meant losing my heart. It wasn’t what I wanted but it seemed to be the only logical choice.

At the beginning of this journey and still much in the dark as to who I was and what I would choose to become, I chose anger as my companion and then violence just seemed to make sense. It took several years before I realized that my reliance on anger was eating me up and then came more guilt: was I committing suicide? I wanted to leave this world desperately but was I willing to risk the potential consequences? I had already sacrificed my heart to one choice, would I lose myself for eternity?

The frightened child had grown into an adult. I had learned to bluster my way into the adult world even if I felt I were an alien or something altogether weird. I hid my real thoughts and feelings and expressed only those I thought would make me seem normal and acceptable. I used ideas and words from books, magazines, the radio, songs, sermons, political speeches, and that seemed to satisfy people even though it polarized them. For a time I was a complete stranger to myself but at least I had some mental peace, a pretense of belonging and discovered I had accessed some power.

I might continue this and explain how I came to the edge of my own personal black hole and found myself inexplicably pulled out of it.

On Atheism, Religion and the Human Being

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

Very recently I ‘accidentally’ stepped into a burgeoning discussion on WordPress. The question was simple and innocuous enough: is a child born with an innate sense of God, or in a broader sense, the numinous?

To a philosopher, such a question is a very personal one. You think about it and you answer it according to your own remembrances, memories, and experiences. Sadly the question was going to be caught, handcuffed and dragged through the streets to be tortured by one particularly strident and defensive ‘ism’.

I suppose the question was custom-made to being hijacked mostly by atheists, and I should have been a bit more wary to even try to wade on the shore of that stream. The water was acid on my bare feet.

I’ve never liked atheism. I tried it for a few years and I found it to be a dead religion, devoid of awe, beyond short-lived awareness of pretty sunsets, flowers and waterfalls, perhaps the enjoyment of sex; devoid of joy, since true joy can only be known on that spiritual plane atheists abhor and denigrate every chance they get.

Essentially, you are born to die. You can be no more than a superior intelligent animal and all accomplishments are but the results of a pointless evolution which cannot lead anywhere since there is no continuity beyond a mindless material level. There is no purpose to life beyond propagating itself, again, for no purpose. Though atheism denies “luck”, that being a spooky goddess we do not speak of in fear of losing our atheist badge, in its philosophy everything is happen-chance.

Self-professed atheism is a recent phenomenon, at least in the Western White Christian World, stemming mostly from deliberately mis-interpreted works of Charles Darwin and his speculations on species adaptation which he called natural evolution.

Here’s the contradiction. While life is pointless, evolution is of foremost importance and it is everything. Everything we can conceive of today has evolved… from? Well, we can’t say ‘from nothing’ that being too uncomforably close to ‘creation’ so we’ll just invent some beginning. But it can’t be anything that could remotely be connected to the effects of “divine” intervention. The perfect atheist world has a walled border; a zero tolerance policy to infiltration or refuge seeking from any sort of spirit, or spirit thought.

Though it is absolutely pointless, nevertheless atheism allows conditions such as love, caring, compassion, even empathy. Somehow, as curious as that seems to me, such unnatural conditions evolved from the same “Big Bang” and resultant muck and mire soup everything came from. Why such conditions settled on mankind, along with their too obvious opposites such as hate, racism, misogyny, egregious violence and spreading bigotry, evolution explains it. How? Dare I say by faith? Indeed, my own discovery is that it takes more faith to believe in atheism than in deism! That naturally explains why atheists have to propagate their belief by force of demagoguery, just like their opposites, in Christian “fuddlementalism”.

If everything stems from evolution, then religion is a natural product of evolution, therefore anything “happening” within those sacred halls of mostly nonsense is also a natural product of evolution. Can’t be any other explanation. So, why are atheists so vehemently anti-religious since everything is a product of their belief system? Could it be because atheism is not “science based” but a religion in its own right, its tenets subject to change without notice? And they have changed, for example on the subject of eugenics, for which we have Hitler to thank.

I’ve always known that atheism is a counter-religion, a reaction to the extremes of primarily Catholicism and Evangelicalism. Countering means engaging on the battle field and the battle field requires missionaries.

In that regard, Atheism lost one of its most strident mouth-pieces and missionary: Christopher Hitchens, who died of cancer in 2011. In my opinion, if that’s the best Atheism can come up with to prove its point, it may as well throw down its sword and yield to its opponents. You lost the Cup, go home quietly, don’t break any hearts or any stained glass windows on the way, and thank you very much for a century of dubious entertainment.

“The vocal fervour of today’s missionary atheism conceals a panic that religion is not only refusing to decline – but in fact flourishing.” (John Gray, The Guardian)

Indeed, despite “the obvious” the world’s religious population is currently 85% of total population and that number is not only not declining, it is projected to rise in the next 40 years.

See also: https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2015/10/how-religious-will-the-world-be-in-2050/

Now I need to make a point here: religion(s) are not what matters in all of this. What matters is that we allow ourselves, and our children, the innate “right” to be spiritual beings. In that respect both, organized religions and atheism, are enemies of mankind as a full-fledged spirit-mind-body human construct. Both kill spirit, hence both deny mankind access to its ultimate claim to being a member of humanity.

The Machine Eaters

I don’t know how this is going to work; I forgot to add a comment and reason for reblogging Aishwariya Ramachandran’s latest post. Says it all and says it well. The post may be a bit long for some but if one is looking for quality and depth of thought, look no further.

Quoting the beginning of the post:

The Machine Eaters

by Aishwariya Ramachandran

Magpies burble outside frosty windows. Autumn sidles into view. I dreamed many things. Awakening is sharp on the spirit.

All the old heroes are dead and buried and pushing up wilting flowers, soot-covered, frayed at the edges, desperate for a clean breath in the sickly yellow-glow of the industry.

Red-faced oligarchs loot the coffers of citizenry taking human capital and freedoms of movement, speech, and association, running them through the great profit calculator prophet machine, the machine which conjures the specter of the invisible hand.

(This is one of those stories, mostly fiction but enough personal life included in to make it more than just fiction. It’s fairly long so I’m going to post it in three parts over the next few days)

[a short story by Sha’Tara]

I found out about him from some research I was doing, trying to piece together what happens to old people who end up living alone in rural areas, particularly in the central prairies-forgotten on homesteads of farms long ago fallen through the cracks of commercial viability.  He’d shown up on police records-a man looking for his wife in the city.  According to the records she had a daughter at the time.  His name is Peter Breckman.  Further inquiries revealed nothing else but that he’d returned to his farm in Saskatchewan, north of the Saskatchewan River, somewhere to the north-west of Prince Albert.

I was hooked.  I asked my editor for some long overdue vacation time.  There was no argument.  With several awards, including the Canadian Association of Journalists Award, and a possible Pulitzer for a book I’m writing based on my work in investigative reporting (including a stint in jail for not revealing a source) I was not to be argued with on that point.  The House wanted me happy and of course, working.

“You’re going to drive all the way into central Saskatchewan in October?  You’ve never driven outside Ontario, all on paved highways, except those two trips we took to Chicago, and I did most of the driving.  Why don’t you fly to Regina, take a bus north, rent a real four by four when you get to Prince Albert and give yourself time to explore the country, you know, before you’re buried under the snow or die in a blizzard while listening to Leonard Cohen?  Come on, give yourself time to flush out your quarry, and regale us with another of your tear-jerking prize winning stories of people down on their luck who somehow manage to see themselves through it all.  Look, if it’s money you need, or an advance, we’ll be happy to give it to you, Reed.”

Even in heels I have to look up to see his round face.  I notice his hairline is receding more and more and there’s graying at the temples.  We, none of us are getting younger, hah!  “I know Edward.  But I don’t need money; I need time alone to think.”

“Suit yourself, I know when my arguments are wasted.  But stay in touch will you?  Call, or email once a day-promise?”

I took a very deep breath, studied the genuinely concerned look on his face.  “No promises Edward, not ever-remember?  That’s why as long as we were together you were always free to be with anyone else also.  I commit only to my work.  This time is for me – alone.  I’ll call if something warrants it.  If something happens, someone will call, I’ll make sure of that.  I’ll carry a note in a pocket so when they find my frozen body under a snow drift by a clump of waxberry bushes, they can contact you on your cell.”

He smirked and that was done.  We kissed goodbye as two people who had been married for many years would.  The romance, if there ever was any, and it was more House’s gossip than reality, was long gone between us.  We were business partners and that suited me fine.

The next morning I finished packing my CRV and I headed west from Toronto, hitting the number 1 highway until I was about a hundred klicks from the city and then switching to service roads and secondary highways.  I waited until the landscape became utterly unfamiliar to allow myself to relax.  The land began to flatten and the roads became margin lines on the edges of graph paper, or so I imagined it would look from the air.  Here and there, small rivers or dry ravines with denuded clumps of aspen, cottonwoods or willows, graciously offered a break in the scenery and let me pass, lost to their own concerns.  Eventually I got around to putting a Leonard Cohen CD in the drive and I turned the volume almost as high as it would go, rolling down the side window and letting my feelings have their way and flow on the breeze.  I literally flew as there didn’t seem to be any speed limits, or if there were, they weren’t posted.

Somehow it was all very fitting for as I listened to my all time favorite Canadian poet and singer my mind began to form the outline of the story I was going away to dig up and write.  Yeah, I guess you could say that I am an archaeologist of sorts, digging up stories of ghosts not yet dead and giving them one more moment of light before the final darkness drives them away for good.  Ok, so I’ve read too much gothic fiction, but I like it.

As I drove along and played with the words of the songs, mixing my own with them, I became convinced that whatever I found out there would not only change my life, but give me a greater awareness of myself.  Here, in this endless land called the Prairies I would lose the City that had formed the city girl and this Changing Woman.  Here I would find another me, one more real than this one.  That was what I was after.  The story was to be the frame around my new face,  and I didn’t care whether the world was ever going to see that face.

I eased off on the accelerator and stopped more often, choosing my overnight stops carefully, frequenting restaurants that catered to the locals, mostly farm people.  I did not hide myself and attracted quite a few hopefuls.  I asked questions and they told me their stories which I surreptitiously recorded for the main story.  I needed background material as I knew nothing of this land or its people.  Which is a good thing actually as I had no preconceived ideas about any of it, except for the questionable I had gathered from the CBC, McLean’s and the National Film Board.  I had done my desk research but now I was in it for the show-down, so to speak.
I took five days to reach Prince Albert.  This is what they have to say about this town of 35,000 people:  Prince Albert is the 3rd largest City in Saskatchewan. Located in the broad valley of the North Saskatchewan River near the geographical center of the province where the agricultural prairie of the south and the rich forest belt of the north meet.  Much of Prince Albert is built on the sloping south bank of the North Saskatchewan River while the north bank provides a spectacular view of mixed forest, typical of northern Saskatchewan.
I set up my ‘office’ in a hotel and began to inquire as to the whereabouts of Mr. Breckman.  The police were the most helpful.  They cross-checked their old files with up-dated information and found me an address.  I didn’t tell them who I was and they didn’t ask why I wanted to know.  These people still trust strangers here and I was somewhat surprised but said nothing.  Soon enough, I thought, soon enough when they will become suspicious and closed like those of us in the big cities.

After two days of Prince Albert, I checked out but indicated I could be back, and drove across the North Saskatchewan river and headed north, then west into what seemed to me terribly empty lands with modern machinery parked in the fields and huge ‘farmsteads’ of barns, storage sheds, silos and modest homes holding up the grey sky and keeping a vigil over thousands of flat, empty acres of cleared land.  I passed a church with its front door gaping open, its steeple fallen down and a couple of weathered sheets of plywood nailed over the hole caused by the fallen construct.  Well, I thought, at least now the door is open to all, at any time, even if there is only dank mildew and darkness inside.  Beats religion anyhow.  I know Leonard would have a poem and a song to write about this place.  His words would be gentler than mine, perhaps.

I hit the dirt roads and eventually serpented my way down into a deep ravine and snaked up the other side, thankful that the road was dry as I had heard tales of prairie gumbo and I did not relish the thought of being stuck at the bottom of this twisty, steep and not too well kept road.  As I crested and leveled upon the flats again I saw my destination.  A clump of blue spruce and some ramshackle buildings with a broken and falling picket fence that had once been painted white, along the road.  Slowly, I turned into the rutted driveway, sides and center of the drive overgrown with coarse horsehair grasses and dandelions, a few still blooming.  My car being narrower than the normal, if rare, traffic that had formed this road, I had to use my four-wheel drive and some skill to not be thrown sideways.  I was to learn later that the best thing to do when driving over a deeply rutted road is to straddle the ruts and create a new set in between.  I am a city girl.  There are things you have to grow up with; that cannot be learned overnight, or even by observation.  Sometimes you have to accept your own ignorance, knowing that if the foot was in the other shoe, you’d be the one explaining and demonstrating the rules of the game.

Reaching what seemed like the end of the driveway, I turned off the engine and peered around without getting out.  I had seen some sad places along the way here, but this was the saddest imaginable.  There was an old Dodge van parked in front of a grey, sway-backed shack with a peeling tar paper roof.  The van had once been white but now was a mixed shade of green algae or mold and accumulated wind-blown dirt.  A weed with small, shriveled purple flowers grew from the windshield gasket.  It had a jack supporting the front struts and the driver side front wheel was gone.  All the others were flat and the tires were sun-baked and weather cracked.  From a broken window of the side doors a dog of indistinct lineage, age or gender stared at me without making a sound.  It looked strange until I noticed it only had one eye.  It seemed to be trying to smell me and I judged its remaining eyesight was not too good.  Safe to get out of the CRV?  I thought it was, but I was careful to open the door wide first, then put one leg on the ground, then slide slowly from the seat to stand beside the car, ready to jump back in at a moment’s notice.  The dog left the window and disappeared.  I waited and I heard it jump out of the old vehicle, heard a whimpering then it limped around the front and came slowly towards me.  It wagged its tail slowly, as if putting too much speed on it would detach it.  It approached me and sniffed, then just stood there until I bent down gingerly and petted it lightly on the head and behind the ears.  I don’t like dogs or pets in general and this was wild country.  I didn’t know if Mr. Breckman was even home, but likely he would be.  Obviously his supplies were brought in by someone as there was nothing around that was drivable.

The dog whined a bit and I felt sorry for the old thing but didn’t know what to do.  I walked to the shack, up the two creaky steps of loose boards and knocked on the door.  There was a shuffling inside and some indistinct words that may have been ‘Wait, I’m comin’ and in a few moments the door creaked open.  I saw an old man, old beyond his physical years I could tell.  A man who knew anguish and much suffering.  I introduced myself as Reed, the reporter from the “House.”

“Did you get the message I sent you about a possible interview?”
“Yes, the message was given to me. Sorry I couldn’t get back to you but I don’t have a phone. I’m Pete” he answered.  “I’m sorry about the state of this place but I don’t get around to doing much anymore.  My back just won’t let me.  Please come in if you care to and we can sit at the table.  Then you can tell me why exactly you’re here.”

We sat at a dusty table, on two old wooden chairs that certainly pre-dated my time.  A naked light bulb dangled from two twisted black and white wires that came from a hole in a yellowed drywall ceiling.  I was facing the man as he sat squinting at me, holding his head in his hands.

“Mr. Breckman” I began, but he waved me to stop.

“Please miss, call me Pete, or Peter, but forget the mister.  I’m no mister, just an old man waiting for nothing to happen.”

An interesting ‘tournure’ of words, I thought.  But before I plunged into my spiel I found myself wondering if I could do something for this ‘old man’ before me, or for the dog.

“Your dog, Pete, seems to be in great pain, and I think it’s very hungry.”

“Who, Bean?  She’s a great hunter, she doesn’t go hungry.”

“Pete, I watched her.  She can hardly move anymore and she’s starving, for food and affection.  Something should be done for her.”

“Ah, yes, I forgot.  She’s old and she don’t complain any.  There’s some chow stuff in the cupboard under the sink, I think.  D’you think you could get some to her, and some water too?”

I nodded and complied.  It was simple and heartwarming.  The dog was grateful to me and that was a first.  And so was the man I’ll now call ‘Pete’ for clarity.  I had some supplies in my car so without asking I brought in some fresh food and made us sandwiches.  Pete stared at me as I worked at the counter, wiping it as best I could first.  I was surprised to find running water, though not hot, at the taps and found a dish cloth that looked reasonably clean to wipe a few items of cutlery.  Then I brought out a couple of cans of Canada Dry ginger ale and we ate in silence.  I watched him eat.  He was definitely enjoying his sandwich and I felt gratified.  My heart was not just going out to the old man, but racing to him.  I wondered why I was so taken and accounted it to the emptiness of the place, being tired from my traveling and a degree of nervousness I was working to overcome.  My watch said it was already after 14:00 hours and the nearest hotel I knew of was almost two hundred klicks back the way I came.  I’d be driving back through unfamiliar country dirt roads with no signs, re-crossing those horrid ravines and if it rained, or sleeted as it seemed wont to do, I’d be in serious trouble unless I overcame my natural reticence of asking for help and pulled into one of those modern farms.  Surely, I said to myself, I can’t sleep here.

He had finished his sandwich, mine being half-eaten and he turned on the light.  To my surprise I saw a set of battered blueprints which I’d earlier taken as some kind of tablecloth.  He sighed, leaned his head in his hands again and stared at the drawings.  I saw tears welling up in his eyes, reflected by the light.

“Ahhh!” he groaned.  Then he looked up at me again and apologized.  “So sorry miss, but you have no idea how much your presence is hurting me.  You look like her.”

“I’m sorry Pete.  So sorry.  You mean I remind you of your wife?”

“My wife, yes, my pretty little Sally.  My life.  Yes, you do remind me and I suppose I’m an old fool who never made the effort to get over his love for one woman.  I only knew Sally, no one else.  We grew up around here and kind of became attached to each other.  She had a bad home life and ran away to our place many times.  Finally at sixteen, and me eighteen I couldn’t stand it that she’d be abused at home, so I went over there, threatened her old man and took her away.  We married in the church and lived with my parents for a short while, then we moved here.  Kids didn’t stay with their parents in our day, you had to make your own way in life.  There’s a quarter section here, not something you can live on you know, but you add on and add on and eventually you have a real farm.  It’s tough, those first few years but that’s why you do it young, when you have plenty of stamina and you know everything and you know you’re going to get what you’re after.  If you have a good woman behind you, it’s even more of a sure thing.  Sally was a good woman miss.  A very good woman, make no mistake.  But I think deep down she wanted more than life had given her and it didn’t look like we were going to hit the good times soon.  Ours was going to be a life-long struggle which eventually would be for our kids.  We’d see the results of our hard work in them.  That’s what I saw at any rate.  And I think that’s what she saw too, and she wasn’t as accepting of it as I was.”

He stopped talking and looked at me again.  He took another deep breath and stared at the blueprints.  I could see stains, cracked folds and rips in them.  How long, I wondered, had it been since he brought them out of wherever and put them on the table to look into his past?  For I had no doubt they were linked to his life with Sally.  How to ask?

“I noticed a set of footings to the side of this house out there.  Are these the plans for what was to be a new farm house?”

“You are sharp, miss.”  It was my turn to wave him to stop.

“Please call me Reed.  That’s what everyone calls me.”

“Oh yeah, Reed, that’s what you said.  What’s your full name?”

“My name is Jones, Reed Jones.”

“OK Reed Jones.”  He pronounced it heavily and deliberately, each syllable as if he was driving them with a sledge hammer.  “I should thank you for the fresh sandwich.  That was good food.  You’re much taller than Sally was, an’ your hair is longer and darker than hers was, and o’ course you’re much older than she’d been, but seeing you at the counter there, preparing the food, well, no woman’s done that here since she left.  I’m sorry.”

“That’s OK.  I won’t patronize you by saying I understand, but I can feel some of it.  I’m an empath-makes me stay one step ahead of the competition in my field, and the competition is fierce.   But I’m determined to be the best at what I do, whatever it takes to get there.  Look, if you’re tired or you want to stop, I can come back tomorrow and we can go on, or finish then.”

“Actually, if you don’t mind, I’d like to continue.  I feel much better when I talk to you about that time.  It’s like something clears up and I can see through it for the first time.”

“Well, I was thinking about the drive back to my hotel.  It’ll take me over two hours if I don’t run into rain, or sleet or whatever you call it here.”

“You looked at the sky when you went out, didn’t you?”

“Yes.”

“What do you make of it?”

“Well, it’s uniformly grey and the clouds seem a bit low.  But there’s no storm that I can see, or sense.”

“Well, let me tell you.  In about an hour it’s going to start to rain.  Then the rain will begin to freeze.  The first coulee you hit, you’re dead stuck at the bottom, no way out until you’re towed with a tractor.  Gets pretty cold out there, even for us who’ve lived here all our lives.  I don’t think you want to get out on that road this evening.  Besides, it’s October.  It’ll be pitch black in half an hour and I’d bet you’re more used to driving with street lights.”

“Yeah, driving in the dark with only headlights to go by is weird.”   I hesitated.   “I brought a sleeping bag and a comforter.  I could sleep here, maybe, somewhere.”  And I looked around hoping for that suitable ‘somewhere’ to manifest.

(end part 1 of 3)

The Sword, the Bow and the Staff – Part I – The Calling

(Continuing with the saga in which many thoughts are expressed and many things are learned. This is chapter 16. There are 25 chapters in Part I and 25 more following in Part II. I’m writing this because some of you may want to know how much longer you have to suffer through this, others how much more to expect of a journey and adventure through the unlikely possible, or should I say, the possible unlikely.)

Chapter 16
Return to the Cottage – Introducing Genti

Nothing much had changed at the cottage when the travellers returned after their days on the trail. The barn was partially re-thatched but the rest of the long roof would have to wait another season for grass to be harvested for the thatching. Sheep wandered about or slept in the lower field. Pigs squealed and grunted in their pens. Chicken and geese wandering everywhere presented more of a cacophony. Apart from the noise of the animals reinforcing the fact that things had more or less returned to some normalcy, more logs and branches had been dragged in and stacked in ingenious ways to shed rain and provide dry firewood.

They saw men, women and children about, intent on their various duties or their games.

“Why aren’t they acknowledging our approach?” Asked Deanna.

“I’ve cloaked us in a semi invisible veil. I want to test how close the three of us can get to them before they notice us. Advance silently and quietly.”

They were almost among the people and still no one noticed, not even the dogs. A young boy lobbed a rough-sewn pig skin ball and Lo reached for it and held it in the air. The children stopped running and stared at their ball stationary in the air. One girl screamed and the adults turned to see what was the matter. Lo dropped the ball and gradually made the three of them visible.

Children, women, men, all stared at the three travellers mouth agape. Lo addressed them and explained.

“As you probably already suspected, and talked about among yourselves, we are more than we at first appeared. I used this little trick to prove the point, beyond our fighting abilities and speed which you have observed and wondered about. All three of us are in fact wizards or sorcerers as you will. We are of those who fight for what is right, good and just whereas there be some of us who work on the opposite side of it. Now let me reintroduce ourselves to all of you if you would call out anyone near enough to join.”

They waited while the people of the cottage were assembled to hear what Lo had to say. He could tell they were eager for this revelation, very eager, but perhaps not as much as the priest in Glowmere would be if ever appraised of this. Would there still be a wedding or would that change to a public execution by burning?

The people being assembled and Ian MacGruder having nodded his assent, Lo explained.

“Some of you remember the old tales about certain wizards called the Alas, do you not?”

There were nods and “Aye, there be stories still told of such!” from some of the older people.

“Two of us here are of these. I am the ancient Alay Lotharic, hence my nickname, Lo. This woman is the ancient Alaya called Nah’La and is my bound and eternal wife, as I am her bound and eternal husband. Together now after a very long time apart, we seek out two evil wizards we have dubbed  the Betrayers that we may destroy them before they do more damage here, or cause more wars and plagues.

“This third member of our group, this young woman, calls herself Deanna. She is of the Elven race and possesses powers similar to ours and some that are quite, how shall I say it, unique. She met with us and joined us when we went down to that fortified village that is called Torglynn. She has voluntarily chosen to join our quest and to fight for the defeat of the Betrayers.

“That is basically the long and short of it. We intend, if it pleases you, to stay with you for a few more days during which we will discuss our strategy and learn more about each other and our combined powers. There is another powerful member of this group but he prefers to remain anonymous and unseen. You will however hear him howling in the night when he turns himself into a werewolf. I say this because should any of you encounter him you need have no fear and he will be able to speak to you. As long as he is nearby, allowed to roam freely and no attempt made to molest him, you and your animals are fully protected from either man or beast.

“If for reasons of your own you wish to meet with this person, Deanna will lead you to him. Be aware that if your intent is treacherous, all of us including the werewolf can read your thoughts. If the wolf senses betrayal he will kill instantly, without qualms or remorse. The same is true of the woman, Deanna, for she and the Wolf have a bond that only the Elven people and the Wolf Clans can understand.

“I leave you to think upon these revelations. Realize that I have just taken you back into your old memories, traditions and ways. Remember what you once were before you were enslaved by these new ways, by the new Roman God and his violent religion of conquest and enslavement. Remember and perhaps you may regain some of the pride in what you once were.

“If you wish, you may appraise your village priest of our presence. If he is wise, he’ll do nothing about it. If he is as ignorant as most are, and I suspect he is, he will seek to do us great harm in which case the harm will go to him and those who side with him and try to harm us. If our lives are threatened, know that we will fight and kill those who attack us, however many there be. Would you mind giving a little demonstration, Deanna?”

The young woman looked over the rag-tag group with her flashing green eyes, tossed her hair back, raised her arm and pointed at a large stone near a line of trees that defined the edge of the common yard. The stone measures in the neighbourhood of eight feet in diameter, and partially rose from the ground to the  height of a man. She opened her hand palm out. Two heartbeats and the stone violently shattered, it’s debris scattered over an area of several hundred feet, leaving a hole waist deep to a man in the ground.

A collective gasp escaped from many open mouths accompanied by silence. Looks of confusion, of fear and of certain admiration if not actual worship were turned to the three wizards. It was Nal who broke the spell.

“All right, all right! Look folks, I’m still Beanna here. I’m your friend, not a stranger. These things that have come to pass, I knew nothing of them when I lived with you some months past. I thought myself an ordinary lass then and except for my skin tone, my dark almond eyes, black hair and small size compared to you, I would have been the same as you. That hasn’t changed. My powers are not meant for any of you, though I do have a new ability to heal, as does Deanna. This we will do while we are with you. Bring us your sick, your lame, those who have chronic pain and I will heal them, I mean we will heal them. Now, we be starving after so long on the trail, is there food available?”

There was cheering at that. MacGruder came over to Nal and grabbing her, hugged her in his powerful embrace. After releasing her he said,

“Aye lassie, ye and yo’re companions air welcome among us. No one will tell the priest anything I swear, we hold our secrets well in these parts, o’ necessity. Ye were not braggin’ about the healin’ then? ‘Tis true you can do this?”

“Aye sir, we can, and we will.”

“Please call me Ian. An’ I forgive ye fer the meddlin’ in my affairs afore ye left. What ye said needed sayin’. There be new weapons being forged from those we took from our attackers an’ I understand the need for ‘em. I thank ye, lass.”

Nal could not reply. She was choking and tears gushed from her eyes. Apart from her mother, Lo and Deanna, she had known so little kindness or respect through her short years that any amount overwhelmed her. MacGruder noticed and added,

“Ye be a fine girl, Beanna. If ye be half as much a wizard as ye are a good woman, this world owes ye a great debt o’ gratitude already and will owe ye much more. Come, let’s find ye some food.”

He took her small hand in his huge one and led her into the dining area where many had already gathered and were standing and sitting, or busy serving. Lo was on a long bench with several men discussing who knows what and Deanna was engaged in what certainly seemed to be a very serious talk with two tall strangers. A tall young blonde woman was sitting quietly and primly next to the lady of the house. The food came her way and she decided her hunger took priority. She waited for a perfunctory grace to be said then fell to.

The meal was boisterous as such things go but most of the conversation was of the common sort. People’s health, the animals, the weather and in that respect much about the powerful storm that had passed so violently and quickly to the south, bringing lighting and thunder, a thing seldom seen in winter. Several looks were cast at the travellers at the mention of the storm but these said nothing more than acquiesce to the general consensus, that it was unusual.

When the meal was over, Ian MacGruder asked the travellers to join him in a separate and private part of the house.

“First then, I wish to acquaint ye with me own daughter just returned to us from the north where she attended a special kind o’ training place for some chosen young women o’ the clans.”

The tall, slim and quite blonde young woman entered the room accompanied by her mother, Jen and solemnly bowed to Lo and Nal but said nothing, just straightening up and standing as still as if she’d been a guardsman on parade duty.

“This here is Genti, our daughter of whom we are beyond proud. She has been training in secret to become a priestess against the edicts of the Church. Despite the dangers, she chose to enter into this vocation, stating that she did not want to see our old ways die while she could do something about it. Genti is a strong and very disciplined woman who has twice refused a very good match in order to pursue her vocation. I’ll not say more but leave the rest of her story for her and her mother to tell.

“Now I wish to discuss the matter of the healin’ ye said ye could perform on our people and that ye would. We be in serious need of this gift. Is there some particular procedure ye need done for this?”

Nal answered, “No Ian, just take us where we are needed and we will do what we do. I will go with someone you choose. Deanna, will you go along with someone else that we may double up on our efforts for our time may be short?”

“Certainly I will do that. Someone lead me on.”

It was Genti who spoke, in a low but penetrating voice,

“If I may an’ it please ye, I would accompany ye to t’ sick, m’lady.” She said to Deanna.

Though the words spoke of a deep humility they could not hide the power and authority in them.

That is the “healing time” that would be talked about for long years thereafter when a greater, more eventful thing took place at the MacGruders and surroundings of the cottage than had been the cowardly attack that had killed three of their people. The story would also speak of how a daughter of the clans became a great healer in that time.

Sick, lame, those hurt or maimed in accidents, all were cured, including one young man of eighteen summers who had never been quite right in his head and a blind child of three summers who received her sight.

We often speak of how joyful people are when they are delivered from an enemy, when a war is won and the fighters return home in victory. But nothing can surpass the joy of those who receive their people cured from terrible diseases for which they thought there would never be a cure.

Imagine the joy of that mother of the three year old blind child, to realize her child could see after the Glowmere village priest had accused her and her child of having sin in their lives and pronounced the child’s blindness as a just punishment from God.

Imagine if you can the relief also from the many who were dirt poor, when they discovered that the wizards would take no payment, either in gold or in kind, for their healing services. Yes, it was a time of great rejoicing at the cottage that led to three days of feasting, music and dancing.

When the celebrations began and it looked as if they would go on for some time, Deanna confessed to Nal that she longed to join up with Wolf whose lonely calls she had been faithfully following.

“I need to go to him and run with him. I want to find out what he has learned and done about his own powers and how he can help us since he insists on coming along with us. Of course, he would never leave me.”

“Go then Deanna. You’ve done a great service to all now and it’s time for you to enjoy your own life. Talk to me when you are ready to rejoin us. Now listen, you can’t just shuck your clothes here for me to look after and walk away. You’ll need to find a dry place to hide them and you’ll need to wear them when you return. You will remember the human taboos on nakedness, will you not?”

“I will try. It’s silly but it is their law. Warn me when the festivities are coming to an end and I will return.”

Hidden from any prying eye, Nal and Deanna hugged each other and kissed passionately, chests heaving with desire for each other.

“Go, go before we do more. I know you cannot regret but I might and I don’t want to. I love you and you know that. All of us are caught in our own love triangles with you as the fulcrum and it is a terrible burden but I feel it has its purpose and that will be revealed to us soon. Go, find your mate and play. I return to Lo and the things of men and women and wizards while you deal with those of wolves and elves and wizards. Ah, what a motley bunch we are.”

Reluctantly she turned and walked away, back towards the cottage. When she turned, Deanna had disappeared. She scanned the sloping land and saw the large black werewolf and his huge light grey mate running across an open area then plunging into the woods. Then came the distinct calls as both went about performing their territory claiming rituals. Nal felt her heart grow heavy and began to doubt that Deanna would ever return to her as a human being, if at all.

‘I am being a foolish girl, letting love confuse my thoughts. I must be to the things that now concern us most, to the great confrontation that awaits us.

‘O, Lo, I fear for us. Perhaps it’s because of what happened to me before that I harbour this fear, but it is in me. The fear of unavoidable pain and of death. I feel it coming, Lo.’

Did he hear her thoughts? Did he sense her loneliness and emptiness? There was no response from him as she walked slowly and deliberately back to the feast. She heard the music, then the laughter. Night once again began to claim his rightful share of time and Nal stopped to watch as the huge fire lit as a welcome beacon threw its baleful glare up the walls of the great stone building, drawing portentous shapes upon them.

‘Fire’ she thought. ‘Fire, I have seen so many fires already, too many and their colour drains me of life.’