Wednesday, May 01, 2019

This Eden Does Not Tolerate Cowards -- A Personal/Universal Review of Richard Power’s "I, THE DRAGON" (NSFW)

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 "His was the first language that worked on my body like yoga, a poetry that explained little and somehow still delivered me to heights of feeling! Reading 'I, the Dragon' is an experience of transformation, not just a retelling but an active process of reliving. Within its pages, Richard gives us the greatest gift possible: his life." -- Harrison Nir (@just_a_har) ⁣⁣

"The true hero must undergo a death and resurrection in order to progress. Richard has achieved this multiple times within his life, emerging each time to a higher level of understanding and release. His story is raw and penetrating and touched me at the depth of my being." -- Wendy Ellsworth⁣⁣

"Richard Power has written a dazzling book of great scope and meaning. It is a literary ouroboros - Power’s extraordinary experiences, confessions, insights, revelations, and epiphanies unite to serve his fearless pursuit of truth and his inspiring vision of the infinite." -- Susan Gammie

"This multi-dimensional book led my psyche into an awareness, as if inner doors kept opening into a homecoming of mysterious revelation. On the same note, the aha! moments I received when reading were inspired from the book's great practicality, rawness, and depthful wisdom acquired through direct experience, age and the courage to embrace the full journey of a mystical, inter-dimensional life." - Maalika-Shay DeviDasi

"I, the Dragon is equal parts intimate memoir, zen treatise and firsthand historical document. Across a life filled with both trauma and triumph, Richard Power has traveled the world, witnessed extraordinary things, met an astounding list of fellow travelers and emerged with a story—many stories, many of them remarkable—that is both resonant and beautiful." -- Kali Holloway (@kaliholloway)

"I'm so moved by your transparency... Your book is a gift. It will help heal many hearts. Including mine." -- Kim Amadril (@undertherug)

"It is remarkable and anchoring and fracturing, all at once. A shard of reality in these illusion-filled times." -- Jennifer Ruth Keller (@aplaceapart)

"Captivating, riveting. A wild ride of a read. The wisdom of an incredible man whose precious life was recovered from the heart and soul of a young boy." -- Helena Zera (@helenavyana)

[NOTE: Tales of profound child abuse trigger people. Politics triggers people. The bitter truths of life and human relationships trigger people. Sexuality triggers people. Revelation and occult knowledge trigger people. Freedom triggers people. "I, the Dragon" is woven together of all these triggers really.  It is tempting to write about the friend who first ghosted and then gaslighted me and my book instead of simply opting out of writing a planned review. Tempting too to write about the friend  who said nothing, not a word, nothing, in reflection, after being gifted the book as a gesture of respect and from the desire to share an artifact of a soul's journey. However insightful these stories might be, it is certainly healthier and more representative to focus on the many testimonials from those friends and allies who have been deeply moved by "I, the Dragon" and have felt it appropriate to share their feelings and resonances (see above for a small sampling). One such a friend, Kevin McLaughlin, an Irish comrade from Donegal, even took copies of both "I, the Dragon" and "Wyrds of Power: New Language for A New Reality" to a cemetery in Sligo and photographed them resting up against the tomb of the great Irish poet, mystic and revolutionary W.B. Yeats. And now my friend Emily Shurr has written this essay on "I, the Dragon." Emily is a gifted poet whose work I have encouraged, and her review of my book is itself a work of brilliance. She sent it to me six months ago, but I have held on to it until now because I wanted to do it justice by posting it here on Words of Power, and Beltane seemed the best timing. Om Ah Hung Benzar Guru Peme Siddhi Hung. Om Sri Matre Namaha, Jai Ambe Gauri, Jaya Shyaamaa Gauri, Jaya Jagatambe, Hey Maa Durga. Om Ah Hung Benzar Guru Peme Siddhi Hung. Om Sri Matre Namaha, Jai Ambe Gauri, Jaya Shyaamaa Gauri, Jaya Jagatambe, Hey Maa Durga. ... -- Richard Power]

This Eden Does Not Tolerate Cowards -- A Personal/Universal Review of Richard Power’s "I, THE DRAGON" (NSFW) 

By Emily Shurr

There is really no correct approach to a work of such magnitude and complexity as I, THE DRAGON. A short review of I, THE DRAGON is like a week in Paris. Overwhelmed with beauty and majesty, art and revolution, with just enough squalor to keep it really real, you just have to hit the high points and promise to come back soon. If only contemporary-Baroque novelist and epic list-maker Umberto Eco had known of this work, he might have been moved to extract an Exhaustive Comprehensive List of the sublime and instructive KEYS contained within this astonishing treasure trove. However, since I am not (today) (as far as I know) Umberto Eco, I will do things my own way and distill things into a few pithy and perhaps provoking paragraphs about which I have some personal perspective, hopefully tempting the reader to dive in for their own transformational journey.

I will play with centering certain KEYS on the page -- some are mine, and some are his.

Pay close attention, and try to keep up.

I’ll ramble. You’ll enjoy it. I’ll skip long sections. You’ll understand why.

For some stretches, my remarks will not seem to be held politely in a solid rhetorical container.

You’ll get it, by the end.

Need I say of this material that it is NSFW (“Not Safe For Work”)?

I include this warning for those who are too frail to withstand a trip to outer space or the Truth about the spiritual life, and for the many shackled to social norms and business as usual. Not only does I, THE DRAGON contain material that Hollywood will rate about halfway between R and X, it contains gigantic blows to the very structure of the Matrix itself. So in these respects, as in the original sense, it is “not safe for work” and should be approached as such.

And remember kids, your mind is your own! So feed it well.

When you have a moment of privacy, read on:

The structure of this memoir is held with dynamic flexibility via a contextualizing device which is also effective as a uniquely-positioned and rather fierce analysis of global and cultural affairs. It takes the form of a complex chronicle laid out for each chapter, including a historic timeline of world events alternating with deeply personal narratives, often in footnotes that go on for pages.

Our story begins with tales of horrific abuse and exquisite transcendence, told in waves and incantations. Statues and stones speak from across aeons, pouring the Presence of Archetypes into author and reader alike. Notice I didn’t say “Richard Power’s story,” because the cat’s out of the bag -- once made public, it belongs to all, informs all, touches all.

That is the magic of telling one’s story. It becomes everyone’s story.

It always was, through the magic of the akashic record / planetary egregoire / Zeitgeist / collective unconscious. But its potency is multiplied a zillionfold when it is told on purpose, told out loud, told to an audience, especially one who will understand and respect it well. And this telling, this autobiography is not some cheap celebrity memoir of rubbing elbows and surface gossip. This is deep and high, this telling. This is a wild precise elegant rampage of the Goddess Herself through a single man’s life -- a man who has carried fire for the whole world, and a man I’m pleased and honored to call my friend.

Figurine of Astarte with a Horned Headress,
Louvre Museum
Photo Credit: Marie-Lan Nhuyen

Long stretches of the early chapters are a cry and a call to sexual healing, for sacred sexuality, to repair the betrayals of abuse and sick separation:
  • “Making love became my religion, my mysticism, my sacrament, my altar, my temple. It was the mystery school in which I found myself by worshipping the Divine Feminine. I would meet Astarte over and over again, through all the women that I loved in the years to come. I did not know it was Astarte, I did not know it was the Goddess Before. It was real magic, real sex magic. Because it was not called “sex magic.” It was not conceptual. It was not an idea. It had no pretense. It was not symbolic. It was all vivid and true. It was primal. Animal. Every lover was just herself, and being just herself, stripped naked and fusing with me, her legs straddling my mouth, her nails digging into my scalp, her own eyes gazing back into her from behind my own, I experienced her as the epitome of truth, beauty, vulnerability and power. I knew only love. I felt only love. It was worship.” (I, the Dragon, p. 57)
One key piece of advice that is typically hard for a novice to fully take on board as s/he is just embarking with purpose on a spiritual project is this: As happens with counselors, caregivers, teachers, and spiritual guides, and mindful parents almost magically, here again with Richard’s book, his writing, loving, and living:

KEY: What I need, I receive when I give.

I remind myself and my reader to remember this maxim as an operating principle.
  • “In my teens and twenties and on into my thirties, I lived and loved like a resistant fighter or an escaped slave traveling on the underground railroad. Never staying in one place too long. Not because of fear of intimacy. There was nothing but intimacy in my love-making. What I was running from was the evil that had been done to me. It was hunting me. Night and day. It wanted my destruction. If it could not have me nothing could. So I kept out on the open road. I kept moving, figuratively but also quite literally. If I were to stay for too long, I would only bring the evil that pursued me down on my lover as well as myself. I had to keep running. I felt I had no choice. There were no words to explain it. I did not have the emotional intelligence or somatic vocabulary or technical psychological knowledge to articulate any of it. I just had to live and love on the run.” (I, the Dragon, p. 58)
In this passage, Richard is revealing to me the nature of my own running. In 46 years of life I have moved about that many times, and have gleaned both the joys and the pains of occupying each space, town, job, or friendship deeply and then taking flight, seldom looking back for long. Running from pain, from suffocating anxiety, from frustration, running toward home, toward self, toward deliverance and destiny. My story is different from Richard’s and my reasons for running lean somewhat more toward momentum than madness, and although I see the larger story and its dignity and rightness, I forget it at times, and the paragraph quoted above restores me to wholeness in my own narrative.

Sometime remind me to create a line of t-shirts with slogans adapted from Richard’s writings. My first T-shirt in the “Words Of Power” line will read “FERALLY BLESSED,” a phrase which applies to one of his early loves. We must appreciate Richard here for the capacity to ir/reverently attract and engage with lovers who could be thusly described.

Let me call to your attention some lovely bits of detail in these early tales of a young man’s travels: a statesman’s daughter stroking her sex with a fancy pen, a train trip through Spain with Canadian hippies, French pastries full of hash…
  • “In Tangiers, I ate warm, moist potato chips cooked on the streets. I rented a small room with a tattered mattress and battered box spring. I fell asleep in the late afternoon heat. I woke in the evening. The sun went down, and not only below the horizon, but within my own breast. The searing, red core slipped inside me, and was swallowed up in the heart's dark waters. There, the holy stellar fire penetrated to the long dim and encrusted center and an eruption occurred. A pyre was torched. The flames took many years to reach to the surface of flesh, thought, emotion and the rest of the swirling hallucination of the outside world. But even then I know somehow that in a bizarre, inexplicable, wholly secret way, the purifying conflagration had started at that moment. I wandered up and down the Atlantic coast of Morocco in a strange, mentally vacant state, bereft of human interaction, but in a different dimension, I felt as if a series of other centers had switched on and become operative, seemingly automatically or, as I imagined, by the remote control of some hidden circle of Sufis whose sphere of influence I came under there in North Africa.” (I, the Dragon, pp. 67-68)
Strangely, even though I’ve never been to North Africa, I know exactly what he means.
  • “Those dazzling streaks of holy madness emerged from the vastness of space and burned straight into my heart, leaving a feeling––very dense and sizzling––that propelled me forward through the years ahead. …….. Inside me, a kiss had been laid on the lips of wonder and emptiness arousing them from slumber. …….. I had begun to earn my stripes, and I vowed that somehow the rest of my life would carry that brilliance and immediacy––at whatever the cost. I have tried to keep true to that promise.” (I, the Dragon, p. 68)
(Add another t-shirt to my fashion line. This one reads “HOLY MADNESS.”)
This is the cry of the adventurer: Never to lose touch with awe and the inner wonder of every single new thing.


At this point I will allow myself a digression, not the first and not the last, in which I call to the reader’s attention the charming frustration of trying to decide how to refer to the author of the book I, THE DRAGON.
Solstice, December 2018

If we say “Richard,” we perhaps seem too familiar and, really, too individual in scale. This is a massive work of vast origins and vast effects and to distill it down to an individual human offering is, well, awkward. It is as if we were discussing The Republic and called its author by his localized name “Aristocles, son of Ariston, of the deme Collytus” (according to Alexander of Miletus, quoted by Diogenes Laertius, and referenced in instead of referring to him more effectively as the timely and timeless PLATO. Or if, in discussing popular culture, we said “Madonna Louise of the Bay City Michigan Ciccones” instead of saying MADONNA.

If we say “the author,” we seem perhaps too abstract. Which author? What author? The individual human incarnation sitting somewhere for hours and months, with pen and printer? The Great Author, the Author of All, the Creative Impulse, All That Is manifesting Itself through an individual’s pen? The ALL-in-All? You see, there’s too much room for confusion.
If we use the last name and say “Power,” something really entertaining happens. For a moment, the reader must stop reading and think: Wait, are we talking about POWER, as in THE ELECTRICITY or THE FORCE or THE SHAKTI or THE CAPACITY TO CREATE CHANGE? Or are we talking about POWER, THE MAN? … Well now. It is such an entertaining ambiguity precisely because The Answer Is Always Yes.

Therefore I will generally use each one, “Richard,” “Power,” and “the author” to indicate different voices he’s writing in, or perspectives he’s writing from. So do pay attention, and please, try to keep up.

To resume, then:

Our author Richard Power is Initiated by sound, by an LP of wolf calls recorded by Robert Redford. Then by mantra yoga from Tibet and Nepal. She, Vajrayogini, flipping chakras open like She always does when you ask Her right. Amen Amen Amen.
  • “There were seemingly random moments of sweeping majesty, epiphanies in which the Divine Intelligence tore away my unknowing. And at those moments, I felt the awesome power of everlastingness pervading the Immediate, episodes in which the shimmering waters of the lake were calmed and I could see the lost kingdom submerged below.” (I, the Dragon, p. 77)
Woah. Look out for this phenomenological description of the monuments at Tiahuanaco: “great mounds of fertile absence measured with ancient lengths of space.”
One night when the power goes out at Titicaca, weirdly mirroring an instance from Ginsberg, the text references huge swaths of history and eternity:
  • “That starry night cut into me like a great broadsword wielded by the very hand of God. My body shook with the nearness of an utter majesty. I felt the whole of civilization dwarfed by the pulsating limitlessness of this Being within whom we erupt and into whom we are reabsorbed.” (I, the Dragon, p. 80
Then we have this helpful encapsulation for the solo traveler, on being a perpetual adventurer, the lonesome ecstasies of such, and the sacred ongoing journey of wandering, a pilgrimage from place to place, for sure, and also a pilgrimage to those altars deep within the pilgrim himself:
  • “I inventoried the sacerdotal robes of the wanderer: ritual loneliness in great cities, brimstone excess of thought, two brooding, bloodshot craters of eyes, a brain spinning into monstrous, past-reaping silence. I was someone. I was no one. I was everywhere. I was nowhere.” (I, the Dragon, p. 82)
Upstate New York, In A Forest, Early 1970s.
Photo by Robert Hall
Richard (the individual now, see, living his earthish life) covered his apartment walls in cut out and torn out images, clippings, book pages. Haven’t so many of us done the same thing to have external stimulus in our inner sanctum? A buffer from the existential bleakness of spaces unloved by previous tenants, when all the life, all the spirit has been sucked out of them. We feather our nest with the written word, ideas, text and images. They look back at us, refract our ideas back to us, cradle our minds and shape our perceptions in a process that is once projecting outward and reflecting inward. They tell us of ourselves and they tell us of the world beyond the walls. I have written catalogs of my clippings from time to time and enjoy how he catalogs his:
  • “The apartment became a shrine to my troubled inner journey. I covered the walls with murals composed of newspaper clippings, glossy magazine photos, pages torn from books, postcards, and prints of paintings. I covered every inch with the shocking, the lewd, the mysterious, the violent, the exultant, the sacred and the profane–a beheading in Kampuchea, Patti Smith in a G-string, Munch’s Sick Child, the Martian volcano Olympus Mons, Gary Gilmore the night before his execution, Artuad before and after the insane asylum, amap of Saudi Arabia, Stalin at his desk, Hitler on the steps, a map of Los Angeles, several of Modigliani’s nudes, a cosmic egg, the dome of the blue mosque, a wall poster for Fellini Satyricon, a map of Bolivia, picture postcards of Pat Garret and Doc Holiday, Macchu Picchu (in sepia), Rimbaud at Le College de Charleville, an Olmec sculpture of a were-jaguar, publicity photos of Warren Beatty in Shampoo and Jack Nicholson in Five Easy Pieces, a map of the Isthmus of Tehauntepec…… ” (I, the Dragon, pp. 97-98)
It’s ecstatic, it’s bizarre, it’s frantic, it’s tender, it’s like Whitman gone wild.

Now and again Richard (the man, the writer, the Power) will drop a giant golden KEY into the mix. While I cannot in this brief essay list them all, I’m going to title this one:

"How To Dissolve, Obliterate, Transcend, Ascend,
and/or Otherwise Make Irrelevant The Hierarchy” 

And it goes like this:
  • "So let me demystify it with a jewel of insight I came across in the work of the great 20th Century Sufi saint, Inayat Khan (remember, he was one of Sam’s teachers): 'The whole secret of the hierarchy is in the expansion of the heart.' That’s it. Not in robes, not in titles, not in lineages, not in 'transmission.' Indeed, in spite of robes, titles, lineages and 'transmissions.' The whole secret of the hierarchy is in the expansion of the heart. The greater your capacity for love, the greater the container that your open heart offers the world around you, the deeper you move into the true hierarchy of the planet, and the deeper you move, the higher you ascend. That’s it, the whole secret – the boundlessness of your love, the fathomless depths of your compassion. Nothing more." (I, the Dragon, p. 114)
… BAM!!!!!! And there you have it folks, the one single Key to dismantling the power-over structures and struggles. . . Easier said than done, of course. Mileage may vary. Use with caution.
 And of course, while you’re learning to wield that unconditional love with skill,


The piece entitled “SUCKER” reveals so much, and so profoundly, about the familiar struggle to vindicate a loved one’s suffering, repair karmic bloodbaths, and in general deliver ourselves from other people’s problems. Seeking guidance on the right way to care for someone abusive, someone well past irretrievable, he visits the famous Jungian analyst Edward Whitmont who tells him: 
  • “Go home. What you must do is live. You must try not to become infected with the disease. You can do nothing for her. You must try not to become infected by the disease."  (I, the Dragon, pp. 121-122)
Again, and again, comes Power with instructions that seem pointed straight at me.
After decades of effectively denying the constraints and also the benefits of what most people would call my “proper social station,” after taking on the misdirected karmic burden of seeing how little money I could live on and still maintain something like productivity and something a little less like sanity (a tale which I will relate in other venues), Power launches this missile into my monastery -- this time on the diminishing returns of ascetic simplicity, the foolhardiness of disengaging from one’s own Real Red Road, mistaking one’s own life story for a punitive or misery-ridden obligation:
  • “I worked for minimum wage in a huge Doubleday bookstore downtown. I felt I wanted to slip below the surface and be dragged out to sea in the undertow. I foolishly hoped to simplify my life by narrowing it down to an ascetic point. I wanted to travel through the eye of the needle. But I rapidly grew so broke that I had no money for food.  (I, the Dragon, pp. 128-129)
  • I had experienced ecstasies, visitations and moments of great power. But the person I thought and felt I was had to die. Once that person had been executed, the corpse had to rot. I was forced to witness the slaughter and subsequent putrefaction of the cherished fairy tales with which I comforted myself.” (I, the Dragon, p. 130)
And though it may sting, this self-murdering, nothing short of total dissolution can make the next phase possible. Jai Kali, Jai Dhumavati, Hail Sekhmet, Thanks be to the Morrighan.


It’s very Whitman, this cataloging of American places and animals, happenings and turnings. A distinct and rhythmic kind of incantation, revering like Ginsberg did the pulsing permutations of life ever evolving on, above, and under the surface of things. And then….
  • “Turning on the radio, harpsichord music fills the warm, dark module. On the highway, no one can hear you weep. Walking on Point Reyes, at first I heard only the soundlessness of the sea and the wind; then, barely audible, I heard the dairy cows tearing at the tender shoots. The herd had a vast, deep presence. Their soft, brown eyes, their slow, holy gait. The shadow of a big crow moved over the bare hills. Suddenly, in rapture, a young cow galloped down the slope. Have you seen the clouds moving gently, yet irretrievably through the swelling darkness of the evening sky? Similarly, the whole of life is falling into the Buddha’s heart.” (I, the Dragon, p. 136)
This is a turning point, the moment in the narrative of this particular book in which the author’s voice shifts from reporting experiences and sensations and chronicles of history, to tuning into larger rhythmic cosmos-patterns and even (there’s no other way to say it) Poetry.

Here are a few more earth-shattering revelations ...

Goddess of Democracy, Tiananmen Square, June 1989
Photo Credit: Ed Huang, Source: IUPUI

And now we see the turn of Power within himself is complete, the turning inside out and the calling to something other than running from pain:
  • “The Voice woke me up in the pre-dawn darkness that winter morning to tell me to pull myself together, it was telling me to get ready, to prepare, to close my eyes or turn away from the horrors and follies of the world, it wanted me to know that something vast, something mind-blowing, something incomprehensible was underway and that no one would be able to explain it or rationalize it or become comfortable with it in any way. The Voice wanted me to know that the Planet as a whole, and human civilization in particular were entering a period of awe-inspiring upheaval, chaos, barbarity, a time of reckoning beyond most imaginations (although not mine). And it just wanted me to be ready, to track it all as best I could, and to understand my tracking as a kind of prayer, a kind of meditation, a kind of healing. It just wanted me pull myself together and be ready. And to remember, always remember, whatever went down, however unthinkable, remember Khidr’s lesson to Moses that day. I was to apply it to my analysis of geopolitics and governance, I was to always whisper to myself, “Khidr is in charge of all the governments of the world,” in other words, it is impossible for me to see how this is all going to work out, but it is already written, and it is something beyond ideology, beyond reasoning, beyond rationality, and all I can do is follow the moving hand as it writes, yes, follow it to the end however bitter, however blissful, however, whatever. And that’s when my work really began, my work on the planetary level ...” (I, the Dragon, p. 144)
And so what of this Khidr? Another key to understanding or transcending the hierarchies, I say.
  • "The function of Khidr as a 'person-archetype is to reveal each disciple to himself... He leads each disciple to his own theophany...because that theophany corresponds to his own 'inner heaven,' to the form of his own being, to his eternal individuality... " (I, the Dragon, p. 142, quoting Tom Cheetham's The World Turned Inside Out: Henry Corbin and Islamic Mysticism)
Khidr's mission consists in enabling you to attain to the Khidr of your being …

And this is the first time I’ve ever come across Khidr. I like it that it homonyms like “kidder”. A high angel, or a force not beholden to any hierarchy, with a sense of humor. What a kidder! What a Khidr. Pulling each up or down by his or her own thread of self, of kundalni, of shakti… of darkness or light, or whatever unique mix… not beholden to a government or man-made hierarchy… a Higher-Self facilitator, a stern and joking Shiva creating poles and causing verticalities.  Can He be trusted???  This moment marks another kind of turning point altogether, a trans-dimensional one. It is the moment when the inversion becomes evident. When Shakti and Shiva determine to turn us inside out, it seems they often present the turning as a sideways movement. And when Power in his meditative state reveals a kind of sense-making turned inside-out, in which “every horror is a gift, every joy is a test" we know we are hearing from the Sideways Power.


If we say that an overage of shiva/consciousness/masculine is marked by a hyper-concentrated verticality and an overage of shakti/energy/feminine by a hyperdiffuse horizontality, then the “balance,” (not the right word, there is no such thing) will be found in neither-no







This, I propose, is THE Z AXIS. Just as the Z axis in geometry takes us out of the two- dimensional flat-plane x-and-y grid and into three-dimensional depth and volume,

this Sideways Power likewise

catapults our capacity for experience and effectiveness

into unforeseen, previously unimaginable

activation and clarity.

No more can we be beholden to or constrained within a simplistic dualism of shakti/shiva; no more caught in the oscillation between feminine and masculine; finally we graduate from the spiritual infancy inherent in verticality/horizontality. We now enter a totally new way of seeing from all sides, from every angle. To hold opposing viewpoints as equally true and not true without breaking a sweat, to see both sides of a debate and the larger context too, to openly inhabit what the psychologists call “cognitive dissonance,” physicist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn calls a “paradigm shift,” and F. Scott Fitzgerald (and so many before him) call “the mark of a first-rate intelligence”... This marks an ever-deeper turning into Power’s unique view, beyond the hedonist-nihilist divide, as everlasting Void is permeated with sweetness, and anguish becomes its own surprising source of liberation.

In a footnote, a gorgeous explication of the ebb and flow of depression and ecstasy…..
  • “Important to note here this particular deep depression, the one in my mid-thirties, ironically alternated with a period of intense spiritual ecstasy states and great poetical inspiration, I literally toggled back and forth between the two states. It is not as if one were real and the other was not, it was not as if one invalidated or undermined the other, not in the least. They occupied the same space. One would rise up and the other would subside, but both were flowing in and through each other. There was no disconnect. There was only the absence of a third force, a balancing, mitigating, apportioning, transubstantiating force. It would be supplied later, in the “Death Planet” years. I still had farther to fall. Meanwhile, the Bhakti ecstasies kept me alive, kept me going, kept my inner flame lit.” (I, the Dragon, pp. 148-149)
… Yeah, yeah, I know the feeling. Beyond the bounds of madness and sanity, etc.

Here is Power as the Aghori, building ornate mansions in the cremation grounds.

Out of these catastrophes, great gardens arise.

  • “Ignore the opinions of others
    Let the rumors of your foolishness spread far and wide
    None of it matters in the least
    Busy yourself with burning all of the furniture in the house of your mind
    When the job is finished, dynamite the foundations
    And bulldoze the lot.” (
    I, the Dragon, p. 149)
And here:
  • “When the walls are torn down
    You live in ruins and wonder which way to go
    Jesus couldn’t wrestle the infinite, nor Job escape the truth
    However you imagine it to be, you are wrong
    Be still
    Stand open, empty
    Like an archway
    In the courtyard of love.”
    (I, the Dragon, p. 149)
These are the stirrings of a mind ready to stop making sense and start making love. (Another good T-shirt.) Already the body has been through this sequence; now, it’s the mind’s turn to do love-magic, with the whole human experience and the whole world as its object of affection.

Available in Both Black and White and Full Color Editions
Yes? Everyone with me so far?

On periodic waves of depression, and the salvific effects of reading:
  • “I did not surrender to the undertow. I decided to read my way back to the surface of the Earth. I made it into a discipline. I chose the books intuitively, without reflection. I would go to the bookstore. (There were still brick and mortar bookstores everywhere in the 1980s.) I would let my feeling direct me to what was next. And I would read each word of every page, from beginning to end. That was most important, to read every word and turn every page. The turning of those pages was like a thread with which I wove the fabric of a new internal reality. I kept a list, I added each book I read to the list, but only after I had read every word of every page. These books spoke to me from inside of the mysteries. They offered up raw power from those unseen dimensions into which the great writers lead us whether they themselves understood or not. The list, like the books themselves would tell me a story from inside the story of what was happening to me: Goethe's Sorrows of Young Werther, Flaubert's Temptation of St. Anthony, Tales of Hoffman, Gerald Nerval's Journey to the Orient, Flaubert in Eygpt, Parsifal, Tristan, Silmarillion, Lord of the Rings, Hollow Hills, Crystal Cave, Pilgrim's Regress, St. Francis, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Aspects of the Feminine, A Third Testament, Nibelungen, Egil's Saga, Beowolf, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Divine Comedy, Rossholde, A Perfect Spy, Bram Stoker's Dracula, Beetohven, Brothers Karamasov, A Celtic Quest, The Individuated Hobbit, biographies of Tolkien, Martin Luther King and Albert Einstein, Richard Wagner as Poet, Revelations of Divine Love, The Virgin and The Gypsy, Farwell to Arms, The Fox, Ramana Arunachala, Plumed Serpent, Aaron's Rod, The Sun Also Rises, The Once and Future King…” (I, the Dragon, pp. 149-150)
And on poetic dreams:
  • “I knew then that Solomon’s Temple had been torn down. Those of us who still lived were on our own. Father, I heard your voice deep within me many years ago. I went into the dark hills and waited for a sign. From eleven to twenty-five, I searched for it. You drew me forward, but offered no guidance. You stirred me to leave sanity and security behind. I did your bidding. But no sign came. You never rescued me. You allowed me to wreck the social engine and burn the human map. You abandoned me. I heard your laughter. I felt your taunting. You wouldn’t cut me any slack. You wouldn’t relent. You never allowed me to settle down into the pastures where the others found homes. You exhorted me to curse the tribe. You abandoned me. No dream attainable, no hope tolerated. I was utterly alone, but with the passion still flowing. Now I hang by a frailest thread. Or is that also an illusion? Perhaps I am sewn through with the golden fibers of Eternity, and therefore immortal and indestructible. For a week or so, I felt beyond fear, loss and ruin. But suddenly, I am paralyzed with embarrassment. I feel the nearness of utter dissolution. I can’t do the work I’ve taken on. How will I pay the bills? How will I live to grow old? What kind of life will I lead if I’m weakened, destitute and without a foundation in the material world? I just wanted to sleep, or lie down quietly to drink in the silently roaring, darkly radiant vastness of the Unspeakable. Am I mad? Am I damaged? Or is your divine power tearing down every structure so that I’m left naked, broken and ready for the grave of the flesh that is the womb of light?” (I, the Dragon, pp. 150-151)
It’s moments like this, in which so much is revealed, the depths of suffering and the heights of ecstasy in the same moment, that show us what the narrative of a life driven by Spirit really is. The lead-in to a life story (and sometime the whole life story) is a gradual experimental accruing and then stripping away of everything that our souls are not, in preparation for a life beyond death, of sorts, a great shedding and releasing of karmic accretions, and a taking up of more and more WIDENESS of perspective, BREADTH of loving, EXPANSION of possibility and INTEGRATION of learning, insight, skill, Soul-stuff. Soul-activity. Love. Creation. Dynamism. Responsiveness.

Consider this reflection on the closing and release of life, the samadhi, of his spiritual teacher, San Francisco Theosophist and Vaudevillian Joe Miller:
  • “... his consciousness seemed even more powerful and expansive than before the stroke. He knew just what he had already known, but from a deeper, bigger place––life is a deathless oneness, he confirmed, everyone is inextricably interwoven, harmlessness is the only power, joy is the inevitable end ... It was and is the eternal reality—it is occurring here and now; it is the truth of our being, but we do not see it because we are entangled in a web of thoughts and emotions— a web of our own weaving spun with the thread of false selfhood. Who are you really? Dive into the heart, allow yourself to slip beneath the surface of the waves and drown in that love. Take a gentle, in-drawn breath into the heart and let unconditional love flow out to everyone. Slip into the space between one thought and the next––what’s there? Embrace that shining vacuity like a moth wrapping its wings around the candle’s flame. Can you feel the great procession? Can you savor its sweetness?” (I, the Dragon, pp. 152-153)
I can’t copy-paste as much as I’d like to into this review. I’d keep you here for hours. But every few pages, something stands out as worthy of sharing and repeating and rereading and talking about. . . many, many times. We will be cataloging and discussing how to use its many Keys for the coming generations.

Of Joe and Joe's friend Sam Lewis (another "madzoub") Power writes:
  • “Their message was direct and universal: Spiritual truth is simple awareness, and spiritual power is unconditional love.” (I, the Dragon, p. 155)
Once again Power tells my own story, with this Sideways incision into the conventional narrative formations. We are side-stepping, or completely escaping, the bland and unevolved sense-making rules which would like us to decide whether a turn of events is either comedy or tragedy, either romance or devastation, either light or dark (but never bothatonce):
  • “My life unraveled while simultaneously I tasted fame and fortune. I lost my mind while simultaneously I functioned at peak performance professionally. I shattered my heart beyond restoration while at the same time I lived and moved from the depth of a great passion. I saw deeply into the future of the nation and the world while simultaneously I was hopelessly blind, mute and paralyzed, slumped in the doorway of a burning house unable to save those I loved or even crawl across the threshold to save myself.” (I, the Dragon, p. 169)
It seems safe to say that the book as a whole is a DEMONSTRATION of the principle -- the KEY -- that wild openheartedness, radical vulnerability is the way out of perpetual pain, the way to dissolve the power-over model, the ANTIDOTE to separation and hierarchy, and the great leveler.

I knew this when, for a time after the death of someone close to me, I could ONLY relate to people at the level of their deepest pain -- and I could relate to EVERYONE at that level, so I felt EVERYONE’s deepest pain… and that began the exponential refracting deepening of my compassion and tender understanding for human frailty -- including my own.

Power’s Message from Archangel Michael should be calligraphed, framed, and hung on the wall of sacred gathering spaces, spray-painted on all the walls of streets in San Francisco, tattooed on the backs of lovers and warriors, recited during family gatherings at Easter, Christmas, and Thanksgiving:
  • “I am thy shield, I am thy sword, I have walked with you since before time began, therefore no harm can come although you emerge from shadows beyond the comprehension of mortal beings, fear not, for I have already crushed the dwarf of failure and sin, you cannot be destroyed although much of what you have clung to must be ripped away, fear not and do not forsake yourself or surrender to anything which cannot be felt in the heart, do not move, do not hesitate, do not move, listen to the inner voice, it says nothing, it has fallen silent before the throne of God, rest and let go, you have already arrived at the end of the road, there is no farther to go, only lay down your burden and release the prisoner, don't fear, don't wait, be still, nothing of value can be taken from you, it was all lost long ago, the kingdom has already fallen, the wind sweeps away the refuse, the last of the flame burns what you mistook for the treasure, don't move, don't try, listen, forgive and surrender to the force that is sweeping over you, there is no turning back, the sun will rise, night falls, there is a light that can only be found in utter darkness.” (I, the Dragon, pp. 177-178)
I really can’t think of anything to add.


Alongside the author, the reader is availed of myriad spirit allies -- animals, angels and archetypes.

Raven and Crow, Bear, Wolves… the Goddesses Durga, Kali, and Morrigan, Gods Krishna, Hanuman, and Odin… and on and on ...
The Fourth of the Seventh Beast

Again I can’t be comprehensive, but here is a sample, on Crow:
  • “That which understands and articulates the light in the dark and the dark in the light. Sacred to the Morrigan and to Odin. Crow medicine for me was the vehicle for entering into deeper dimensions, and higher dimensions, the crow energy was the beginning of my moving on, a shifting between worlds, the Intelligence of the Shadow awakening, and Emotional Intelligence, which permeates both Light and Shadow, these two Intelligences, Shadow and Emo, interpenetrate each other, they intersect, although they both extend into different directions, beyond that space of intersection.” (I, the Dragon, p. 257)
Now don’t mistake this for a quaint revelation of the psycho-cosmic transmission of a little black bird. We’re talking about messengers from the “beyond” who are also denizens of the “above,” of the air and sky -- integrating light and dark, seen and unseen, known and unknown. We’re talking about the “LIGHT” as EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE and the “DARK” or “shadow” as EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE, TOO. And more specifically, this little black bird, can therefore affect an utter inside-out-and-sideways-turning reframe of what is universally (in the barbaric “civilized” world) taken as a “normal” “healthy” understanding of light and dark.

The LIGHT as the flow of emotion manifest across inner & outer realms, and SHADOW as the flow of ALL THAT POTENTIALLY IS across inner & outer realms.

Because really:

What is called Shadow is just Yet Unknown or Yet Unexpressed.

And Mystery can never be mastered.

In a superb pages-long footnote, we are admonished:
  • “And what you need to understand is that there is a table of correspondences for Yin and Yang and there are numerous errors in almost any version you might come across. One of the errors is to include morality on it at all, light and dark, Yin and Yang.” (I, the Dragon, pp. 259-260)
Reader, please, right now, if you remember nothing else, ethicist and agnostic alike, take this reality on board as deeply as you can.

The long saga of Cola the Cat works well as a stand-alone story… A friendly, accessible introduction to the Mysterium. Cola the Cat, whose tail shakes with shakti, who loves Hendrix and Coltrane. The matriarch and sorceress cat. And Power’s new access to a different kind of global intelligence network, the mystical feline correllary of his geopolitical sphere:
  • “I had somehow how stumbled into the global inter-dimensional cat network, in which each individual cat served as a node, and all information passing along the network would invariably be passed and be shared through and with every cat linked in to the network. To say “linked in” is somewhat misleading, because actually each cat was literally one of the links or nodes on the network. The vastness of the collective cat consciousness was accessible to me. I was in.” (I, the Dragon, p. 262)
How a shaman’s familiar offers protection…
  • “... she took over my protection along a long stretch of my journey, during which I was in grave danger, physical and emotional danger. I could not protect myself, and in an unspoken way, I probably didn't want to protect myself. I could have died then, it might have been called a stroke or a heart attack, but it would have been grief, and shame, in truth, I would have died of a broken heart.” (I, the Dragon, p. 264)
This is so really poetic, and so literal. Have we not all known times in our lives when cats have carried urgent messages for us? For me, all have been cats belonging to friends: Blender, a resilient traveling Calico, who slept by me for some months and even once visited my bed to remind me of home when we were in different cities. Two ultra-fluffy Maine Coons with huge eyes, who explained to me how to soften the armor of their host (not that I ever got the knack). Brando, another Maine Coon who told me very clearly to look deeply into the dark and be quite assured by the truths I saw there.

Here, too, are tales of poison initiations by scorpion, brown recluse, black widow. Dark medicines, animal and chemical.
  • “These substances, Psilocybin, Peyote and LSD had actually performed psychic surgery on me.” (I, the Dragon, p. 265)
Primal Goddess. Judy Chicago's Dinner Party.
Brooklyn Museum of Art.
Let us take Power’s admonition to heart, to utter these two words like an incantation that will bring about new evolution of human beings and planetary consciousness:
  • “Yoga and Tantra are about relationship, intimacy and alignment, they refer to conscious engagement in one’s own evolutionary processes. Yoga is the path of deepening and enriching relationship, intimacy and alignment within one’s own five bodies, working the flow of the life force and the ways that life force flows through the five bodies, and the valves with which our own intelligence can modulate the flow of life force with one’s practice. Tantra is the path of deepening and enriching relationship, intimacy and alignment with other beings, with one’s own karma and with the mundane world as a whole. The art of living and dying, the path of sex and death. There is a yoga for every aspect of human incarnation. Bhakti is the yoga of the heart, the yoga of feeling. Jnani is the yoga of consciousness, awareness, the yoga of the crown and the third eye. Karma is the yoga of action in the world, it is the yoga of doership, the yoga of deeds. Hatha is the yoga of physical culture, the yoga of the flow of the life force itself.” (I, the Dragon, p. 288)
Then an Absolutely glorious explication of spiral progress in a life: The spiral as past, present, future (past present future past present future past present future in iterations ever ongoing)... The individual awareness as center and circumference. Flashes of shifts in perception, depth, understanding, and integrating them. Again, so much fuel for thought here, so little time to explore it all. And if you’re lucky and aware…
Yoga Tree, October 2013.

  • “Imagine personal consciousness as moving in one direction, forward in time. Experiences appear ahead of it, you pass through them, and then they are behind you. If you turn around you see them, if you look ahead of you, all you see is what lies ahead. I move forward, one foot in front of the other. The present is a moving target. It moves with you, you move with it. The past flows out behind you as the present moves on, the future is ever-approaching, closer with each step, but also ever-receding, as what was the future becomes in turn present and then pass through you to flow on behind you as the past. This is the experience of the individual in this life. If you begins to open up to the shamanic, the mystical, the yogic, the tantric, the occult, or the cutting edge of the scientific, you become aware this is journey of one foot in front of the other is on a track which is seemingly the circumference of a circle. The deeper one goes into the shamanic, the mystical, the yogic, the tantric, the occult, or the cutting edge of the scientific, traveling on this track along the circumference of the seeming circle, you become aware of the center, it is there by definition of course, where there is a circle, there is both a circumference and a center. But it isn’t just a conceptual knowledge, you can sense the center in relation to the circumference, you can feel it. That center exercises a certain sway of your psyche. Along the way you find yourself turning to it. The further one goes into the shamanic, the mystical, the yogic, the tantric, the occult, or the cutting edge of the scientific, into Bhakti, into Jnani, into Karma, into Hatha, one begins to have flashes of broader, sharper, fuller, higher, deeper dimensions of consciousness, realms beyond the merely individual. These flashes are of various durations. Sometimes they are almost instantaneous. Sometimes they last for some minutes, or an hour or two. Rarely more than a day or night. Each of these flashes changes you in both subtle ways and not so subtle ways. Sometimes these flashes place you inside the center, sometimes these flashes give you an experience of actually expanding to feel at one with the circumference itself, sometimes these flashes will even give you the experience of being both the center and the circumference all at once. Meanwhile, though, you keep moving forward, one step after another. Ever-approaching the future with each step, ever-moving through the present with each step, ever-generating more of the past with each step. Along the way, you integrate the flashes that come, they inform your forward movement, incrementally they change the sense of what you are moving through, and even the sense of who and what you really are; and these flashes and their residual impressions are integrated, one develops an increasingly more sophisticated relationship and an increasingly more dynamic alignment with both the center and the circumference as one proceeds along the track of individual existence. This is the path. All of this integration, relationship and alignment reveals that the circumference is not in fact a closed circle, it is actually a spiral, and it opens into the next spiral. Moving in the course of your journey from one spiral to another and then another, on and on, is moving, deeper and deeper, higher and higher, from one octave to another. This spiraling from one octave to another is our spiritual evolution. But sometimes there is an event of a different order, of a different nature, sudden, as if from elsewhere, as if a switch is flipped on a console in the command and control center of the universe itself. That’s what I refer to as the Reboot ... [Making available] more power, more bandwidth, more functionality, more resiliency. … It is re-engineering the bioplatform on which it runs, actually upgrading the five bodies to whatever extent possible given the wear and tear of time and karma. Its vastness has not diminished, its all-pervasive translucence has not dimmed, it has shown not any instability. Fear comes, desire comes, sadness comes, frustration comes, confusion comes, grief comes.” (I, the Dragon, pp. 291-292)
Now pay close attention. If you haven’t paid attention during The Reboot, I’ll wait until you’ve read it again. Just deeply take it in. This is vital, life-saving information for cosmonaut and mendicant alike.

Dante Gabriel Rossetti's
"Damsel of the Sanct Grael" (1874)

On Transgender and Ardhaneshvari:

This deserves another whole series of essays on “dazzling permutations of gender” as a KEY to our present era’s evolution. Stay tuned: I will write more on this in another context, weaving together Keys from Richard Power’s I, Dragon and from Megan Rose Woolever’s expansive work on Spirit Marriage.

On existentialism and intimate relationship with self and other:
  • “I should acknowledge that I barely feel human anymore, I never really did, of course, but in spite of my alien nature, I did feel that I was living within the human experience. But I don’t feel that way now, it is different. I wouldn’t say I am “beyond” the human realm, that would infer a sense of superiority which I don’t really feel or intend to communicate in any way, nor would I say I am “outside” the human realm, because that would imply an isolation or separation that I do not feel, I would simply say it is more like I am “different” utterly, irretrievably different, other.” (I, the Dragon, p. 304)
On relational models:
  • “Monogamy is an unsustainable model. Polyamory is an unsustainable model. Celibacy is an unsustainable model. Yes, it is a quandary. What to do? How to be? The only sustainable model is a relationship of relentless authenticity – toward your own self, moment to moment…… All of it is predicated solely upon that authenticity in relationship to yourself, moment by moment, day by day – meaning you are constantly adjusting, constantly re-calibrating to maintain authentic relatedness to a self that is ever evolving.” (I, the Dragon, p. 305)
We may say that celibacy can be focusing or scattering. Monogamy can be focusing or scattering. Polyamory can be focusing or scattering. It doesn’t depend on the model. It depends on the situation and the people involved and everyone’s energies and skills in caring for self and others, mindsets around bonded security and love-scarcity, and so on.

Are all relationships contextual? And if the context is a constantly gigantically changing self, then what? How to keep up? M. Woolever has described a desirable kind of “project-specific” relationship, deliberately defined and designed to work for a specific purpose or project with a certain duration. For people like our author, blazing through culture and evolution and gender and across the globe again and again for decades at a time, perhaps, we aren’t meant to dedicate ourselves to one mate for ever. Or even a polyamorous “pod” for ever.
  • “Any genuine sustainable relationship would have to be mirrored triangulations, two beings establishing and maintaining authenticity in relation to themselves, while at the same time, establishing and maintaining authenticity in relation to each other. Because healthy beings are evolving constantly, each instance of such mirrored triangulation would be utterly unique and ever changing. The re-calibrations required to sustain such authenticity are ceaseless. Viewed this way, human relationships become like Coltrane's music or Einstein's mathematics -- sublimely surprising and excruciatingly exquisite. Love chooses to be a mystery. If you want to be with her, you must let her have her way with you.” (I, the Dragon, pp. 305-306)
Burning Man 2017

Is everything situation-specific? I remember twenty years ago, completing a Master’s degree in Religion & Ethics at Yale University, wondering whether Ethics was invariably, always and altogether situation-specific. Now I don’t quite believe that. That’s relativism in excess, taken to the point of nihilism, to the flatness and hollowness of a bleak post-modernism.
Now, with more experience, I know: I must come from somewhere. I must choose some kind of identity-center, some awareness-container and anchor-within that gives me an orientation to what “I” actually believe is actually “good” in each situation. For “Ethics,” this means an ongoing reexamination of values and principles, and attuning to the needs of the moment. To be explored in a future writing... And every step of the way forward in a life story created with consideration. (See also: A few paragraphs below and elsewhere in this essay, recurring questions of the practices which make body-mind, heart-soul union alive and available.)

And so. Could it be (impossibly, simply) that I get to decide what I want to create, how I want to be in relationship, what project we will be working on?

If so… What shall I choose? Let’s say I decide to envision the Garden of Eden and re-create it again and again in various spots around the world until… What? And what happens after that?
At this point, the reader will notice, we may become either trapped in or liberated by the “Tyranny of Choice” and the Sartrean urgency to make sense of a world in which there are no longer any viable or trustworthy external rules to follow.

I was going to say that quite possibly the only way to keep spirit alive in a postmodern / poststructuralist landscape is to feel our own hearts and loins throbbing and by golly, live out from that place of passion and compassion as much as we can… and it’s much more complicated than it sounds. And this is where Richard Power’s remarkable dedication to Yoga and yogic practices comes in. There is so much to point to here that this topic deserves its own special essay (or book, or interview series) on Richard Power as yogi and tantrick. Because the answer to the question “How does Richard not flip over to the Dark Side?” AND to the question “Is all Ethics relative?” lies in the practices of a certain kind of Yoga, not a specific lineage or set of asanas, but the ongoing disciplines of deepest UNION (“yoga” is Sanskrit for “union,” same as the origin of the word “yoking”) of body and mind, heart and soul, inner truth and outer deed.


And then we have Richard’s “the Morrigan’s White Raven” episode. Gorgeous, vital, timeless. I won’t even try to distill it. Really, you must read it yourself for the full medicine to take effect. Don’t deny yourself this experience. What is described is utterly central to understanding what it’s really like to participate in the most ambitiously ecstatic of Dark Goddess’ blessings.
Just here, for the record, an admonition never to scorn nor underestimate the potency or the demands of the hedonic path:
  • “In an Eden that does not tolerate cowards.”(I, the Dragon, p. 317)

And then this:
  • “I am here to tell you that this world is unspeakably beautiful and it desperately needs you to bear your unique witness. Gaia has circumambulated Sol sixty-three times since I drew my first breath. I was on walkabout in the wilderness before I knew my own name. I have seen all of this life, I have heard and felt the best and worst of it. And I promise you, whatever the cost, whatever the consequences, it is always worth it to stride on into the unknown, there is no other future. Love and valor have gone ahead of you, they are waiting for you there. You will not find them elsewhere.” (I, the Dragon, pp. 324-325)
. . . And here, I weep. It happens sometimes when I receive a blessing so profound that it dissolves long-entrenched defensive ideas about the smallness of the self and the irrelevance of an individual life story. 

A Non/Local Aside: In Orlando, Florida, where I currently reside (not far from the house where Kerouac typed the sequel to Dharma Bums on a scotch-taped typewriter scroll, and a bit farther from where Hedy Lamarr lived out her final days, receiving an award from the Scientists’ Guild for her invention of the encoding technology which today allows cell phone towers to communicate), there was nearly three years ago a shooting, a horrific martyring of 49 souls at a transgender-friendly nightclub. I won’t go into the details here, but they were instantly assumed into angelic realms for sure. Their deaths, otherwise awful and senseless, made it urgent for the whole community to suddenly evolve with great determination into a city pepperd with “We Will Never Let Hate Win” and “Love Wins” and “UNITY” and “LOVE” and rainbows painted on every municipal surface. The slogan “YOU MATTER” has become a widespread meme, the friendliest meme that ever was. It repairs trauma and comforts the lonesome everywhere it goes. We hand it out on little red cards and spray-paint it into every mural.

  • “What are these psychological and occult dangers? Prescience, apperception, empathy, forbidden knowledge, "Top Secret" access to the akashic record; yes, to see, know, hear, feel what really happened, what is really happening and what probably will or will not happen, it is all maddening. Careening through this quantum universe, doing what one can to rescue or redeem, while all you do is unraveling before your sightless eyes. To be hopeless and yet called upon to inspire hope; to imbue others with fearlessness in spite of one's own voracious fear; oh yes, and talking to "adults" as if they weren't children. A time lord knows, sees and feels too much.” (I, the Dragon, pp. 325-326)
Movie Poster - Jean-Luc Goddard's Alphaville (1965)

There are stirring, exciting sections of cultural enrichment here that exposes the reader to major works of art and music, and to their psychological and evolutionary significance. A magnificent culture-imploding sequence of Bowie’s Blackstar album, his death, Prince’s death, and Beyonce’s Lemonade album and video/movie; the gender-blendy sexuality of Bowie and Prince, and the mega femininity / Cosmic Mother-ness of Beyonce.
And long catalogs of important and moving compositions of art and music.
  • “At certain critical moments in my evolution, some work of art, maybe a piece of music. maybe a painting, seemed to somehow find its way into my psyche, to serve as a vessel of alchemical transformation.” (I, the Dragon, p. 345)
In the next edition of I, THE DRAGON I hope there will be color plates of Kahlo and mp3s of Coltrane. Why not even a comprehensive playlist? Readers will want to perform their own occult rites and celebratory pujas to the accompaniment of these great works.
Richard details the orchestration of the lovers who gravitated to him on the waves of Satie.
Really now, who among us can write such episodes of friends and loved ones and lovers and fortunes and teachers who came to us attracted by the orchestrations of Lord Lakulish, Sri Vidya, Yoni Shakti, Tantrick Witchery and sheer sensual magnetism?

In an indescribably lush passage about music and sex and heroism, he describes pieces which are infused with, and which infuse the listener with, “a particular strain of heroism.”
Here is a partial Mp3 playlist, to get the Second Edition started --

Bowie - Blackstar album
Beyonce - Lemonade album
Coltrane - A Love Supreme
Debussy - danse sacree danse profane
Elgar - cello concerto in e minor op. 85
Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez
Prelude to Wagner’s Parsifal
Non piangere liu from Puccini’s Turandot
Satie - Socrate
  • “These works traveled inside of my psyche, and with each listening they would build one or another chapel along the way, far ahead of wherever I was at that moment, they would bury supplies for me, nourishment and medicines, fresh bandages, and yes, weapons. These pieces of music somehow put me into touch with some mysterious strain of heroism that could survive the fall of heroism itself, some profound secret of tragedy that would allow a soul crushed by tragedy to somehow reconstitute itself from the ash and embers of its own funeral pyre. When music comes to you on its own, seeming to know something about you that you don’t even know about yourself, I encourage you to spend some time with it, listen to it deeply. It will likely reveal some secret message intended just for you.” (I, the Dragon, p. 347)

I think my favorite episode of lovers is in relation to Erik Satie’s Socrate and the women who come to visit Power inside that “small etheric pavilion” that the music creates within & around him... at least one was in possession of a roaring waterfall within her ...
  • “When music comes to you on its own, seeming to know something about you that you don’t even know about yourself, I encourage you to spend some time with it, listen to it deeply. It will likely reveal some secret message intended just for you.” (I, the Dragon, p. 347)
The same goes for books, I say.

I’m skipping over his serious reflection and chronicling of Burning Man, the Trump office-taking, the outing of sexual abusers, the re-rising of feminism, #MeToo, Wonder Woman, the Handmaid’s Tale, and other signs of the always-controversial Transformative Feminine’s unmistakable intervention in human affairs ...
Equinox, March 2018.

  • “You don't get to choose the path of sorcery. It chooses you. From among some forsaken band of warriors, hemmed in, with their backs to the walls. And you will know when sorcery chooses you. Your shield will turn to ashes, scattered in the wind; your sword will erupt in the flame and melt into a warm sacerdotal wine spilled on the stone floor of the ruins in which you stand. And then when you will reach for your dagger, you will find only its ungraspable shadow. Yes, you will be defenseless, and naked. Yet, you will remain there, hemmed in, with your back to the wall. And still, you will be expected to lean forward into battle. With no weapons, no defenses, and no hope. That is the moment in which sorcery is born. Will you fly? Will you become invisible? Will you move like lightening? Or will you fall and perish, only to find yourself rising again some time later, alone, resurrected, after all your attackers have abandoned the field wrongly thinking themselves victorious? That is when you discover what sorcery is and what you are in relation to it. That's when you learn what real power is, and what real knowledge is. In that desolate moment, you will see more dimensions to this reality than you had seen before, and once you realize that these other dimensions do indeed exist, you will begin to move in and through them. You will also learn that there are other powers, unspeakable powers, that lie hidden under the wrap of powerlessness, powers that you will find for the first time only in utter desolation. Afterward, you will be able to bring these powers forth into all of life, into the throes of the delightful as well as the throes of the desolate, into the process of birthing beauty just as much as vanquishing ignorance. This is inter-dimensional knowledge, inter-species knowledge, elemental knowledge, trans-temporal knowledge, knowledge that is action, action that is knowledge. On this path both knowledge and action are communication, and communication itself is both knowledge and action. But none of this alternate universe, none of this real world, none of it, will open up to you as long as you still have other options available ...” (I, the Dragon, pp. 390-391)
  • “There is a savage sublimity within you. Sooner or later, it will erupt. And when it does, the lava pouring from its dark core will engulf all of your lesser dreams in one vast life-changing vision, again and again. ”(I, the Dragon, p. 391)
  • “The dragon within you knows the truth of this world. Hatched in the nest of sorrows, it fed on the flesh of its unknowing until it knew. Ageless, it sets fire to the corpse of an age; ageless, it births the next, where you took your first step. Not in space or time, but in that love being which pervades and envelopes both. You will have so much to say, and to share, but no words, and so little time. Whoever you are, wherever you stand, or fall, or kneel, or crawl, whatever beauty you hold in your hands, it is priceless, and fleeting, you must pass it on before it is lost forever, it will only be a whisper of what you saw, only the shadow of what you felt, but it may be enough to ignite the next smokeless fire in the throat of the next dragon birthing the next age from the womb of its mistress Maya, dripping in blood and placenta. This is the truth of this world.” (I, the Dragon, pp. 394-395)
These blessings are unending. Each one contains myriad others. They open into themselves in a fractellating way. So many, so thick, pouring like complex spiced honey, I obviously can’t address them all here. Tackling the nature of Evil, page 395. Obviously a gigantic topic, one which most professional ethicists actually avoid. How to access Grace in no uncertain (deeply uncertain) terms, page 400. A closing Feast with goddesses Grace and Gratitude, guests Anger and Bitterness, the Seven Beasts and the Five Richards, page 404. Nothing like it in all of literature.

ALL THIS WISDOM coming through one of the most lucid and comprehensive philosophers of our time, concrete and passionate enough to gather-in and center the most wildly diffuse mystical perception… and the unparalleled geo-political analysis of a career intelligence professional.

 I don’t know how else to put it. Subtlety escapes me.

These Keys, these lessons, these ever-relevant blessings and curses, stories and poems are nothing short of


I, THE DRAGON is available in both black and white and full color editions via

Completed on the Harvest moon, on the eve of the Autumnal Equinox 2018, corresponding with the announcement of the Stripper Pride Parade in Las Vegas, Nevada, the birthday of Richard Power, the release of Maya Luna’s Tantric spoken word album, a short distance from Jack Kerouac’s, at Sachi’s Sacred Ground in Orlando, Florida, USA.

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Emily Grey Shurr
About the Author: EMILY GREY SHURR hates to assign such an individual name to such a gigantic report. It smacks of immodesty and simultaneously of bashfulness. But there is really no better option. She could consider using her occasional nom de plume MATENGE PROVENSHEARS or her nom de kaula HARA AMRIT, but this is a matter for more earthly and more individual commentary. So, Emily Grey Shurr it is. As for her, where to begin? Contemplative poet, Ivy League social philosopher, highly trained evolutionary, occasional rabble rouser, Southern Belle, meditation teacher, educated by Jesuits and rednecks, orators and cosmonauts. Fortune 100 organizational development consultant, Time-bending project manager, Left-handed Shakta, resource mobilizer. Available now for dialogues with fascinating people:

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