Facing multiple inescapable cascading crises, we are being forced to 'wise up'. Called to look very closely at why things have gone wrong and will continue to do so, and to deeply consider how not to repeat the same mistakes.
I am, as I'm sure many of us are, morally disturbed by what is happening and what is to come. We have fallen into a deep trap of our own making. It's imperative to confront where we have gone wrong from a place of deep integrity and humility. Thus we make the darkness conscious. Space can then be created for redemption.
In my youth I was nostalgic for an era I had just missed, the hippy era of the Summer of Love and the brief period which followed it until Altamont and the Manson Family punctured that fragile rainbow bubble. I listened to music from that era obsessively: Tim Buckley, CSNY, Hendrix, Sly and the Family Stone... I had the VHS of Woodstock and nearly wore it out, particularly the incandescent performance of 'Soul Sacrifice' by Santana. I was even more fired up when I heard that both Carlos Santana himself and the drummer Michael Shrieve were coming up on mescaline as they took to the stage. It literally feels like they are burning a new reality into existence with every note. This was my religion, my communion.
I had the opportunity to experience my own 'Summer of Love' too - that of 1989, the original rave scene in the UK. Phoning numbers from bits of paper blu-tacked onto walls outside urban nightclubs, following directions to fields near the M25 (the ringroad which circles London). Getting out of the car and not knowing if you would hear music or police sirens (sometimes it was both).
I was 19 and the MDMA was pure. When sober, the music sounded terrible: sterile and industrial, like an early Nokia ringtone. My friends and I were into 'proper' music played by men with guitars, not this plastic shite. Once the 'E' kicked in however, it became a wave, sweeping the crowd into deeper and deeper states of bliss. A collective synchronisation emerged in time to the pulsating music. Something clicked inside me, inside all of us. There was a method to this madness.
We glimpsed the world that could be, a world that most of us have borne at least brief witness to. Where wordless harmony calls the tune and our eyes are fixed on the same light beyond the horizon, a light that comes from a place deeper than our differences, deeper than our conceptions and descriptions. The place from where stars are born, and new civilisations.
How can dancing together in a field on drugs produce this experience? The deepest of my life up to that point? I can only say that it came from a level below, or above, where words are found. The level of the body. Of a timeless tradition, a muscle memory of some knowledge which repeatedly emerges into history.
Having seen this new reality something had been awakened in me. And yes, of course it was the drugs. But equally, of course it was not only the drugs. The drugs and the music and the dancing outside in farmers' fields until the dawn created the 'set and setting' that allowed us to glimpse a deep human coherence. Many people were lost along the way... the drugs were not the point, but they made them the point. If only it were that simple. I almost became one of those casualties, but that is another story for another time.
Those who were terrified by this emerging potential tried and mostly succeeded in stamping it out. They saw, as we did, that it would be necessary to overturn the status quo for this new reality to come into being. The only difference was that we thought it would be worth it, and they determined to resist it completely. It is understandable; they stood to lose their power if they allowed themselves to be carried away by this wave of new energy. And for those so poor that power is all they have, this was a serious matter.
So music itself was criminalised in the UK - specifically music 'consisting of a series of repetitive beats'. This is still the law today. If more than three people gather together and put on that sort of music, which, let's face it, could apply to almost all sounds people use to dance to, they can be rounded up and put in gaol. This is what we were up against. People were gradually herded back into the world of alcohol, casual sex, and 'superstar DJs'. You can still dance, but on our terms. And please use the drugs we get a kickback on, not the ones we don't.
Having had this experience I went through several years of depression and physical illness. The world was grim, prison-like. The idea of 'jobs', 'bosses', 'wages', even academia, which could have potentially been some sort of haven for me, repelled the senses and made me want to go away and hide for a long time. Personal relationships were a shitshow or next to non-existent. Loneliness cast a long shadow.
My obsession was, during all this time, how do we get from here to there? It still is, even now that I have integrated many of the demons, thanks to meditation and Holotropic Breathwork. Exactly what is stopping us? Are the odds stacked against us; are we fallen, cursed? Or is it merely some sort of engineering problem? Are there Dark Forces out there conspiring to stop a world of harmony, care and cooperation coming into being? Or do we just need better tools for coordinating? Or all of the above, every last bit?