The Re-Enchantment Dialogues, Part 3: The Migratory Essence

I apologize for not posting the past few days. One of my cats- Ootschka aka Orange Cat- is terminally ill and it's been very stressful and upsetting for me, as are the usual freelancer tax-time follies. Ootschka was a real trouper for a while and her illness allowed us some very deep bonding experience. But now she's suddenly stopped eating, and seems to be looking all of the time at something the rest of us cannot see.

I've been through this a lot-- Mrs. Wibble and I have always had lots of animals (we had 8 cats and 4 dogs at one point). But this seems to be particularly hard. It may be because Ootschka has bonded to me so strongly-- last week she slept with her arms wrapped around my hand like a kitten-- but also because I've been exploring the deeper realms of my unconscious through visualization and meditation (as well as beginning some creative projects which we can discuss later), which has tied into our discussions recently.

So I've been wide open in a way.

But the injustice of it all is painful as well. She's only nine years old-- the Wibbley One and I gave each other Ootsch and Tricky for our 15th wedding anniversary -- and she's always been the sweetest thing you can imagine, unlike our other cats who can be real brats sometimes. Our vet-- who's also our friend and neighbor-- fell in love with the Ootsch and told us it's always the sweet ones who get it the worst.

Ootschka in her kittenhood.

Doesn't that just figure? It's as if this fallen world-- and its blind, insane, idiotic demiurge-- delights in torturing the most innocent. A while back I wrote of how my world was shattered when one of the boys in my extended family of theater brats died a violent and unexplained death three days after Christmas. Nothing was ever the same again for our little tribe.

It was then that a long-held suspicion that there was something fundamentally wrong with this world became a certainty.
I was eight years old.

The day before 9/11 my best friend called to tell me that his cancer has returned after the doctors had told him it was in remission. In the chaotic autumn of 2001 I watched him suffer and wither away in agony; a big, strapping, whipsmart and cocksure 32 year-old, and I saw that same look. The look of someone who sees something the rest of us hope we won't be seeing anytime soon. He died at the beginning of 2002, a year that would end with Joe Strummer dying. Just before Christmas.

All of this would be too much to bear if I didn't know-- and I mean know-- that these physical bodies of ours are merely vessels for energies that are eternal and immutable. I don't mean 'ghosts'-- I don't think that these energies define themselves as "Chris Knowles" or "Ootschka" after the physical body breaks down. A lot of who we think we are is a construct of genetics and environment and really has no bearing on this essence.

OK, so maybe we haven't figured out this soul thing yet- how long did people theorize about the atom before it was discovered? Forever, maybe? And we still haven't figured out what consciousness is either. Maybe this migratory essential energy I'm talking is the source of consciousness, and genetics and the rest of it is just frosting. Think about it.

Read it.

I can't recall exactly how now but I remember having all of this basically wrapped up when I was in my early 20s. I read an Alan Watts book (called appropriately enough The Book) and basically settled a lot of questions that vex other people. Then it became a question of which part will I play in the great drama.

This might be why my attempt to return to the Church wasn't successful. I wasn't interested in being Chris Knowles after I died, sitting around and telling Jesus how awesome he is for the rest of Eternity.

Of course, those of us who have had experience with certain entheogenic compounds also have seen Eternity-- or at least some glimpse thereof-- and aren't so troubled by it. Getting over that existential fear was the basic purpose behind the Mystery cults. Hopefully, we can get back to where we were before the drug warriors and-- let's be blunt here-- Timothy Leary mucked everything up.

There are certainly plenty of other things to be troubled by, but worrying about what will become of this energy-- which I believe is essentially migratory-- when Ootschka or you or I shuffle off the old mortal coil is not one of them.

I realize this is an extremely incorrect belief since we're supposed to have left all that behind along with truly fine art, meaningful philosophy, and teenagers that can construct a complete sentence, but tough shit. If any of this causes skeptics and atheists to think they're above me, below me.

One other powerful lesson I've gotten is perhaps a kind of refresher course in the power of compassion, which means shared suffering. When we care for those who are suffering it not only helps ease their pain it also lifts up something deep inside us.

Our mechanized health care system has lost sight of this, as med schools pump out doctors with the bedside manner of plumbers. The next great wave in health care science will be the rediscovery of compassion, whether the skepdicks and the so-called "quackbusters" like it or not.

Now if you all will excuse me, I need to go spend some time with Ootschka.

NOTE: I'll tell you what- since I've already been crossed off Richard Dawkins' Darwinmas card list, I'll do you one further. I wrote about this here a few years ago, but I'm beginning to suspect that animals at least definitely reincarnate. We lost Mister Bones- the big old Bostie up top there- a few days before Christmas (of course) in 2004 and we were devastated.

And then a couple years ago my son was driving home with his girlfriend and felt as if he were being summoned to the same store where got the Bones. They went in and left withthis little maniac of Bostie- a girl-- who couldn't have been less like the Bones at first blush. But since then she's become his spiritual doppleganger and has the same attachment to me that I suppose her previous incarnation had.


  1. Hey Chris,

    Thank you so much for this post. Me and my girlfriend have a black cat called Holden. He had a little brother once, called Ralphie. I only met him a few times and he was smaller and frailer and sweeter than his older brother.

    Ralphie got really sick and died years ago, but was very close to Sarah. Holdy was upset for a while, maybe because he often teased and bullied his little brother.

    But Sarah swears she can feel Ralphie around her sometimes, most often when she's falling asleep in bed. She swears she can sometimes sense him curled up at the end of the bed by her feet.

    'Skeptics' might say she's imagining it; caught in that place between dream and waking, but I think there might be more to it. The place between dream and waking is a powerful place.

    Thanks again for the post. I'll send Ootschka my love.


  2. My god man! To see the cover of that book, The Book, just rattled my mind. I can directly trace my path to discovery with finding that title by Alan Watts some 17 years ago (lord has it been that long?). Coupled with the fact that your anger over your cat triggering themes in VALIS, I must say that the whole messersact is supremely ordered. I'd most definitely place sharing a pint with you on my list of things to do before I log out of this fierce domain my friend. Thanks again for the broadcast, it's a niagra of illumination.

  3. Chris,
    I almost mentioned homeopathy in the Gnosis of Pain post you linked to recently, but this is as good of a place as any. I've been shocked by how drastic and immediate its curative effects truly are--but the one caveat is you must select the correct remedy or it is worthless. Homeopathic philosophy is actually based on many of the ideas of Emmanuel Swedenborg and its founder, Samuel Hahnemann, initially discovered it after being horrified by the barbarity of contemporary medical practices of his time. I think you may be a bit too generous with your statement that most doctors have the bedside manner of plumbers. In truth, most modern medical treatments are so dangerous that, in my opinion, many people who are downright sociopathic have been drawn to the medical field because lack of compassion is almost a requirement for treatment, or at the very least a willingness to pull the wool over your eyes. That isn't meant to disparage the hard-working doctors out there who do their research about holistic treatments but frankly they are in the minority.

    Anyways, I ordered a homeopathic remedy kit awhile ago and have since used it to treat a cat with some serious chronic health issues. To give an idea of how bad it got, this past spring he had stopped eating and after a few days of this stood up and started hemorrhaging all over the floor from an infection. After staying home to fuss over diagnosis for an hour or so he was back to normal and I never had to bring him to the vet. So, if you're interested, you may want to check out because the site has free remedy finder software that is extremely thorough. Homeopathic philosophy itself is quite engaging as well although it is necessary to look for older books because the newer ones seem to be beholden to quackbusters or similar so the most important information is gone. Good luck!

  4. At this point I'm theorizing 3 fundamental attributes to existence: Consciousness, Awareness and Attention. I don't have any helpful comparisons or metaphors to explain this as human language simply won't allow any further elaboration and there's no point in stretching my monkey brain to explain the unexplainable.

    I'm thinking maybe our 3rd dimensional reality is an experiment or a simulation of sorts and it's just not complete yet which is why everything seems to suck so much. It's still in the stages of optimization and we are billions of individual feedback meters that have a direct link to pure consciousness energy (or some alien scientist's lab)

    In the meantime, ask yourself these questions: 1. What is attention? (how does what we pay attention to affect our consciousness and our awareness?) What is consciousness? What is awareness? How do they interact? Are these the three interactive principles which would allow for a reality to take shape?

    I don't know the answer to any of these questions.

  5. Hi Chris. So sorry about your cat. I currently live with 3 cats. This is 57x around writing. I have been attempting to write a story about a dog who mysteriously appears in my small secured city backyard that has 6ft stockade fence all around it and one way in. A scared to death, white dog with one white eye. It actually happened about a month ago which inspired me to expand on the truth with some fiction of my own added. I sent a few paragraphs I had written to a friend for his opinion and he wrote back (10/11/12)(dig that date.)today agreeing with what I wrote regarding my no longer wanting anymore dogs/pets because it got too hard outliving loved ones every 15 years or so and having to put them down when needed. He told me a story on how he lost his dog last winter and his daughter wanting another dog and how he told her exactly what I had written at the time she asked. I finish my correspondence with him on this subject (as well a synchronicity) and next thing I do is visit your blog here and this is what you are writing about.
    It all speaks so loudly for itself. I didn't expect to have my mind blown on 10/11/12 in fact I didn't even realize the date until I read your blog heading. Consider it blown(and that ain't easy...considering my entheogenic experiences in the past.Very Cool.
    My synchro-mystic sympathies to you and yours.

  6. Oh! And by the way...not to sound too paranoid. I was always suspect of Tim Leary's association/debates later on with G. Gordon Liddy (the king of black ops.) Too chummy for my taste and coincidence studies.
    Mucked up on purpose I always suspected.

  7. OOPs! 10/11/11 LOL. I'm rushing things a bit lately I guess. Hey like I said...(and stole the phrase from you blatantly) I've been around the sun 57x. Still a cool date. Wait until 11/11/11!
    Keep smiling. I will send some positive energy to your cat.

  8. essentially migratory - beautiful phrase, in this context, which resonates in the bones. our intrepid point of awareness, travelling the never ending realms of the universal consciousness. compassion, like forgiveness is all about the person performing said deeds. its not them its you(me). Tommy, some very interesting concepts in there man! I am very fond of the work of 'Tom Campbell' whose trilogy "My Big T.O.E - theory of everything" deals with many of these concepts and gives a comprehensive explanation of how consciousness is the universal ground of experience and postulates our purpose is to lower the 'entropy of our individuated consciousness', which is essentially to become more loving. If you are not familiar with his work i am confident you would find it interesting. Great to have you back posting more regularly chris.

  9. Thanks for this beautiful and poignant post. Wow. You are being blasted open. Prayers for Ootschka,and you.

  10. deaths around christmas...maybe they're just returning to the sun as it's 'reborn' on solstice. swift journey, little orange cat. compassion, & sitting the watch, is deeply underrated in our culture.

  11. 'Only the good die young'. At the rate I'm going, I may live forever. But my little buddy, Muppy, is long since gone. 'Muppy the puppy'. Never intended that to become his 'official' name, but you know how names can stick. And so do the memories.

    So, Chris. This is a different kind of post from you.

    What if you are right about the existence of the energy / consciousness essence as the substance of our existence. But what if every human, or dog, or cat lifetime is the gestation of a unique and individual soul ?

    And what if a degree of suffering, ultimately culminating in the shedding of the mortal coil, is as complimentary to the full development of that gestation as winter is to summer, night to day, and rain to sunshine. And what if the Great Cause is anything but blind, insane, or idiotic. (Now, if you were to suggest 'stubborn' as another adjective - no argument, though 'resolute' might be a more positive term.)

    But consider,

    Why give us music ?

    Why give us color vision ?

    Why give us sunrises and sunsets ?

    And then in Genesis :

    "Of EVERY herb of the garden you may partake."

    Myth or not, a plethora of delicious and incredibly varied herbs do exist. And some of those 'herbs' are pretty fine, you must admit. Can't help thinking, "would this be the doing of a total 'bad guy'?

    Why giveth and taketh away babies, and yes dogs and kitties, too? To torment us? Or to give us such fulness of heart that even sorrows expand ?

    And how should we ever know compassion without pain, or joy without anquish ? Oh yes, I know, we hate it, as surely we must.

    Suffering. It sucks man. That's the point. The knowledge of 'good and evil' is knowing how good good is, and how much evil sucks. And, God, does it ever. But the promise it that it won't be 'for'ever. But even that makes it no less shitty.

    I hope you might find some meaning in this poem. If it offends in any way, please be sure nothing is further from my intent.

    There are those who must deny
    all that they cannot descry.
    Rather, would they close their eyes?
    Lest the seeing mystifies?

    Others, who near just as blind,
    Thru the pow'r of their own mind
    Seek e’er for their ‘holy grail',
    never ‘specting they might fail
    At last to grasp and define
    all Truth within the atom.

    Yet who knows the deep, deep Wisdom
    – more than we can fathom –

    Of that Great Cause as is o’er all
    lesser causes, seeming random?
    For such Great Cause as is o’er all
    lesser causes, seeming random -

    Must be a Mind, and have a Heart,
    Of beauty, pure, and handsome.

  12. So sad to hear about your cat. She reminds me a lot of Thomasina.

  13. had to play angel of death to my 12yr old beloved maine coon, wooki... last spring.

    hugz to you, ootsch, and family.

  14. dboy - His work definitely influenced my current, ever-changing view of things. Glad to see someone else is a fan. I like that he merges science and spirituality in a way that doesn't denounce either, but supports both and ultimately says spirituality is the way to truth.

  15. Sorry to hear about Ootschka,Chris.
    I don't know if you have ever heard of a book called "Cleo" by Helen Brown,but if you haven't I think you and Mrs. Wibble would find it quite a good read.I met Helen at the Byron Bay Writer's Festival in August this year through a series of synchronous events,and after more synchronous events after meeting her decided to read her book.A book I probably would not have bought or read under normal circumstances.
    I wrote about it here on my blog where I have uploaded You Tubes of her being interviewed about the book on national (Australia) television.

    Also if you get the chance to see the movie "Red Dog" I think you might like it also.

    Cheers / Daz

  16. I'm with you and many of the other commenters. My normal "mode" has always been skepticism, but when a beloved cat passed on (back in 1997, when I was first discovering Santillana and von Dechend's Hamlet's Mill), I spent a few hours afterwards with the most certain felt sense that there IS something that survives. The stars set, but they rise again. I don't think that feeling has ever returned with such strength since, but it's something that will always stay with me.

  17. Dear Chris,
    I hope your little kitty is resting easy and that she will pass through the fire as peacefully as if she were jumping up to her favorite high place. I send you and Mrs. Wibble and your children hugs and I sympathize and empathize. I have my little doggies too, one of whom is 15 and on cancer treatment drugs. He's doing well now but...

    Many thoughts and loving energy for you all, Delorus

  18. Dearest Chris, A little orange feral cat came my family's way in the summer of 1984. Shackled with the rather unoriginal name of Morris by my mom, we grew up together, and bonded to such an extent that even though I lost both parents in February 2001, nothing has shaken me like losing Mo in October 2003. To this day his passing remains the only time in my life I have ever been physically right there for the passage of another creature. Who knows what forges the bonds of kindred spirits between two living things? I remember reading somewhere that death is like removing a thick, filthy, hot, worn-out garment on a stifling summer day and skinny dipping into a cool, refreshing lake of brilliant light. Isla Paschal Richardson wrote "Grieve not, nor speak of me with tears, but laugh and talk of me as if I were beside you...I loved you so. 'Twas heaven here with you." I hope you can find some comfort in knowing you are not alone from such words, and from providing such obvious comfort, care and love for one of God's creatures that share this veil with us. You'll never forget Ootschka, but that's as it should be too, or how would we all ever recognize each other again? Take care Chris, and remember how many thoughts and prayers you both are in as we all roll into the mystic.

  19. Chris, I'm so sorry to hear about your cat. I've had so many cats, and each time one passes it's a blow, they really do become a part of your extended family. I have two cats currently, and the youngest, and the slightest, is the sweetest animal I have ever encountered, very gentle, and endlessly patient. I could relate to your description. My thoughts are with you.

  20. You guys are great- I really appreciate it. It's a great help.

    Ootsch has her bags packed and is getting ready for the Reincarnation Room. She's sleeping on the bed with Mrs Wibble now and looks very content, though weak and very very frail. Her breathing is very shallow. I spent a lot of time with her today, giving her ice and talking to her. It was strange because Fruit Wrinkles was on the bed and she usually isn't and she's becoming more and more like her previous incarnation every day. I don't think I gave reincarnation much thought until she came around...

    It's so strange how we bond with these animals, isn't it? But they teach us so much and because their lives are so short they teach us compassion. It's no surprise the Egyptians thought cats were so close to the gods.

  21. Chris-- my thoughts are with you. I have four cats and two dogs myself and I have been through your situation several times. It never, obviously, gets any easier... but knowing that you gave an animal a wonderful life (and a dignified and compassionate death)helps. God knows it not like that for many stray animals in our disposable society.

    I firmly believe that animals are great teachers (they've taught me more about compassion than almost anything I can think of)and are fellow travelers in their own funny and inimitable way.

    Peace be upon both you and Ootschka.

  22. Sorry about your feline. The quote about praising some gob for eternity was spot on. Live in the now and leave all the guilt obsessed tomfoolery for those too timid to explore the heliosphere of an occult nature. Compassion is key for every soul. Dennis

  23. Chris,first,sorry to hear about your cat. My wife and I, but especially my wife, love animals and are very attached to our 2 dogs, 1 cat, 1 bird, and 1 hamster. She feels that they can, but especially our cat and our Westie, can predict earthquakes. My wife has become good at predicting them when she notices that they are acting different or weird. She can usually predict them now within 72 hours based solely on obeservation. And it isn't necessarily in our area (Southern California) but the major ones around the world.

    One thing I have noticed also about our cat is that she does stare at vacant spots on occasion. She is busy doing something, then all of a sudden she is transfixed by something--my wife who is more in tune with things like this says she can see things we can't. So I totally empathize with you and your wife. I too have become attached to our cat Schuster (we had a cat named Simon who disappeared suddenly). She seems to gravitate to me. She has been on deaths doorstep more than once and managed to survive--but there will be a day...

    It is interesting to note the depth of feeling this particular blog has brought out and the deeper connections it reveals. Well, here's hoping Ootschka makes a recovery.

  24. Chris, without knowing the history of your cat's illness, just wanted to share that once we had a cat that stopped eating and was wasting away. The general vet told us it would cost thousands of dollars to treat and that she'd probably die anyway. We took her to a cat specialist vet who said, "She just needs a feeding tube." Apparently it's not something that a lot of generalists vets know much about. The condition was called fatty lipidosis, and it causes cats to stop eating for no obvious reason. It was a pain in the butt to deal with (the tube is actually inserted under the skin) but that was 4 years ago and that cat is happy and healthy today. If you feel that Ootschka still has some life in her and is not quite ready to go, maybe a cat specialist could help.

    If she's already gone, then I send you sympathies and admire your deep love for your sweet little critter. I've had pets come back to visit me from their afterlife as well, so I'm sure it won't be the last you'll experience of her.

  25. Something about this really bothers me.

    I love subways. I love the bright lights and sounds of casinos. I love driving (but not commuting.) I love bars open at 7am and alcohol. I love fast elevators and tall buildings and giant screens and booming bass. And these things I wouldn't want to trade for all the bliss in eternity.

    A line from The Master and Margarita really stands out to me, said by Satan,
    Shadows come from trees and living beings. Would you strip all these things from the world to live out your fantasy of bathing in the naked light?

  26. Chris, and everyone too

    Don't miss this. Not that you haven't read all about NDE, and already formed your own opinions.

    These are comments by a neurosurgeon who experienced his own NDE. Blew all his 'scientific' preconceptions away.

    May be very OT and timely to the context right now.

    As one who doesn't imagine I have it all figured out yet, I welcome any in-context thoughts and observations on this.

  27. I like the fact it took Eben Alexander seven attempts to explain his NDE and none of them were satisfactory. - Interesting article.

    Chris, I'm so sorry to hear Ootschkas not well, I'm sure she'll be eternally grateful for the care and attention your giving her. I hope she pulls through.

    I've heard of children who can recall and describe in detail their past lives as people but not as animals. I wonder if anyone recalls being an animal such as a cat in their past life. Maybe cats can only get reincarnated as cats.

  28. I want to thank all of you again for your kind words. Poor little Ootsch has cancer, and is hanging on simply because I think she doesn't want to disappoint us. She's barely eating but is enjoying her favorite treat which are ice cubes. The kind of love you experience at moments like this is so pure and keening it hurts, but in many ways is a gift as well. We are all so numbed these days that we often forget the reality of mortality. I think these animals we share our lives with sort of strengthen us to deal with the crises that come our way.

    Thank you all again. Remember that life is fleeting and those you love should know it every day.

  29. Beautiful sentiments, Chris. I've met a few small animals that turned out to be Bodhisattvas in disguise.

    Then, last Fri., I came across a small dog dying in the wet street. Ugly little pug that I'd seen strutting around like he owned it all. It's odd, but I can contemplate the suffering of the world, I can imagine the birth and death of galaxies, but it's the passing of such a small thing that challenges any faith I manage to muster in the goodness of God. The God who doomed the dinosaurs so we could be; who supposedly set his own son up to be killed.

    Pretty cold comfort, if ya ask me.