My father tells me this story:
He did LSD in the A-frame cabin he built with his own capable hands just after he returned from Vietnam. Dropping acid was a nightly ritual for him, after which he would walk to the massive oak tree on his property high in the mountains in Northern Idaho. He would drape himself in a bow, dangle there, wonder at the stars, and contemplate the universe before returning back to the cabin and my mother.
I was conceived on such a night.
I’ve been working with survivors and veterans of World War 2 for several years, and carefully witnessing the stories of those who did not survive. This whole war thing has been an epic odyssey into history and humanity, an anthropological alchemy that I have only expressed at about 5%.
I’m witchy. Esoteric. Sensual. Electric. I sit for hours at a time and I contemplate intimacy, pleasure, and beauty while marinating in thoughts of archetypal being-ness and va-va-voom.
I constantly ebb and flow within the spectrum of broken → benevolent wholeness of the wounded masculine and feminine energies.
That is my fascination with war.
It is a tunnel into the schism of brokenness, to an extreme.
I ‘see’ life, and DO life, in ways that are unusual. Intense. Not always welcome. Definitely not mainstream.
Being a human is a supernatural experience for me, an honest to goodness holy whackadoodle WTF from time to time.
Let’s just break it down this way: at the same time I collect war relics, study Nazis, and search for the remains of missing soldiers KIA … I paint vaginas, study Jungian thought, research ancient astrological sciences, and relentlessly ponder the broken places in the energetic frequencies of masculinity and femininity.
For me, war + death + love + sex + creativity + humanity are all the same thing, wrapped up in a fascinating wad of beauty, darkness, choice, and possibility.
CLOCKWISE: THE TREE, MY GRANDPA BILL IN HIS COWBOY BAND, MY FATHER AROUND THE TIME I WAS CONCEIVED, MY (MANY TIMES) GREAT-GRANDFATHER ANDREW.
Back to my father …
He is a mystic and a hermit. A self-taught artist, poet, and musician. He sees things most humans don’t bother to take the time to see. He lives in the woods somewhere in Oregon, where he paints hyper-realistic masterpieces and keeps himself pretty hunkered down and away from humans. He hangs out with his best friends: his wife and his dog Meatball. He volunteers at the VFW and is a pallbearer for any of the local veterans who require that last tender shoulder.
Before that cabin up in Idaho, and before I was born, he did his time in Vietnam. Honestly, I don’t really know much about his experiences over there. Except that he came home traumatized and deeply affected. I have stacks of the songs and poems he wrote before and after his service, and his service didn’t bring him any kind of fulfillment.
It certainly did bring more trauma to the family line.
His father, my Grandpa Bill, was a mystic who also kept to himself. He read Edgar Cayce in like, the 1950s, while drinking beer and ‘blowing shit up’ in his post-war garage in Southern California. On the weekends he’d go up into the mountains and pan for gold.
Before that, my grandpa was in the Pacific, giving the best of himself (and the worst?) in hand-to-hand combat with the Japanese. His experiences would traumatize him for life.
Before that, he was in a cowboy band called Sons of the Golden West. They toured around and played their music.
I’d give absolutely anything to sit at a show, tapping my foot, and beaming my heart out at my Grandpa Bill.
You see, he hopped a hobo train at around 13 years old. He jumped on somewhere in Kentucky and rode west, til he hit Los Angeles. Then he hopped off and made a life for himself.
I have a photo of the Sons of the Golden West, in their matching cowboy shirts and hats. Handsome. Smiling. I want to reach out and touch my grandpa. Hold his hand, and tell him he is about to go off to war. Ask him to tell me his stories. All of them. I don’t really know more than I’m sharing here.
That actually breaks my heart. I think me and my Grandpa Bill would have understood each other in that silent knowing kind of way.
I sat at his grave a few years ago. Just the two of us. Six feet of dirt between us, but we found each other under that Southern California sun.
80 exact years before my Grandpa Bill set foot in the Pacific, his great-grandpa Andrew set foot with his troops in a little town called Gettysburg.
He was a medium. An actual one. A mystic. A seer. And he was a sergeant in the Confederate Army.
And that day he undoubtedly saw some of the worst sights one can never unsee. I wonder what it was like for him. As a seer. To see those things.
I’d like to know.
And somehow, I already do.
It only recently dawned on me that there is some kind of swirling DNA ferocity that propels me into my own eccentric combination of war + mysticism.
As it turns out my obsession with war is my birthright. My legacy. My inheritance from these misunderstood magicians with the gift of sight, who saw things they didn’t want to see.
The thing is, I didn’t meet my father until I was 18, and didn’t know my Grandpa Bill who died that same year, and I obviously didn’t know our great-grandfather Andrew. We are talking a total download of DNA here, complete with inherited traumatic memory and supernatural overlays. My mystic forefathers have passed it on to me.
I don’t even know what it all means.
I just think it’s beautiful … hanging out here with my heart wide open to these men, somewhere down a cosmic-ish rabbit hole of mysticism + war with my magical, weird, wonderful warrior grandfathers.
It’s funny. As soon as I realized all of this I felt a swoosh.
As soon as I recognized that my dad and grandpas didn’t have a *choice* …
But I do … ?
… I think it might be just the right time to come home from the war.