Phytomphalos

Copyright © 1996, Jonathan Ott

All Rights Reserved

(Salta, Argentina 18 June 1996)

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the Eyes of others only a Green thing that stands in the way. Some see Nature all Ridicule & Deformity, & by these I shall not regulate my proportions; & Some Scarce see Nature at all. But to the Eyes of the Man of Imagination itself. As a man is, So he Sees. As the eye is formed, such are its Powers.

William Blake – Letter to Dr. Trusler (23 August 1799)

Psychonauts or cosmonauts, they come from the Milky Way, aboard Anaconda-Canoe, our primordial parents — the Desana call her Gahpí Mahsó, or ‘Caapi Woman’— ascending the mighty rivers of the Upper Amazon, fecund serpents of the soil, even to the hoary Rock of Nyí on the Pira-paraná; there, on the Equator, so they say…there, to people from the planet. From beyond the Milky Way they came, psychocosmonauts, Anaconda-canoe-borne on Ahpikondiá, the River of Milk, where the House of the Waters stood, there to people the planet. Anaconda-canoe also bore a precious, verdant cargo; exotic plants, some say, from beyond the Milky Way, just three—cassava, ipadú and caapi—to sustain our bodies, minds and spirits.

Here is the real Trinity, of this we can be certain; for our lives, like most life on this planet, hang on threads of plants, green leafy lifelines ’twixt planetary dust and stellar fire—not on the whims of some wizened, graybeard god, thronenthralled. Phytalchemical wizards conjuring life from streaming photons and dancing dust-devils, even out of thin air—such are our projenitors…how right the Tukanoan Indians were, to reduce the essentials of our creation to those three plants, succor for body, mind and spirit, our Phytotrinity, our PHYTOMPHALOS. Cassava root, succulent, starchy, to stoke the electron fires that roil our blood and sweeten up our brains; ipadú, toothsome coca, energy – ensconcing, leafen love, to strengthen our bodies and nourish our minds; and caapi or ayahuasca, heavenhalm helix, strand of spirits, genelike gyre of generations untold, guiding our hearts, here and now. This is our true Trinity, of which is woven our warp of blood and bone and sinew, as surely as our weft of culture, art and history….of such leafy stuff are we made, there can be no doubt.

Some say the River of Milk was the Jordan, not the Pira-paraná, or the Ganga Yamuna, or Mississippi, for the universe is indeed wider than our views of it, but the milk is the same, wash shores it might; ’tis the milk of plantly kindness, freely flowing from the roots of the Cosmic Tree, PHYTOMPHALOS, where the very heavens turn…Nyí or Delphi, doesn’t matter; Mimirs Well, or Fountain of Youth, or Water of Life, or Lake of Milk…Soma-Milk, birch-maiden breast-borne, it’s all the same font of culture, Tree of Life, PHYTOMPHALOS, our connection to Pangæa, without which nor are we. PHYTOMPHALOS grows not in some geocircumscribed garden, nor in Eden nor on Parnassos, nor indeed the shores of Saryanvat—not merely—but upon ’most every square millimeter of Our Lady Gæa’s splenderous body, all sacred ground, our Paradises bound only by her vaporous breath (and just barely), by thin air; the cherubim-gate-guarding flaming swords, nought but ignorant ego and pious prejudice, paltry human stuff.

Some dare call our natural paradises artificial, our one true religion an inferior form of mysticism—O, pitiable, foolish young men! Nothing could be farther from the truth, no lie bigger. What could be more natural than to sip culture direct from Mimir’s Well, as our foremothers did and whence it first flowed, even as our fellow creatures do all ’round us; what could be more artificial than to forsake experience in dogma’s favor—dogged, doggerel dogma, musty, fossilized humanstuff!—to fell PHYTOMPHALOS and erect a temple in its gardeny glen; yea, hew coarse beams and hack poor pews of that very living umbilicus, O, and ghastly coffins, too; then bury our dead in the sacred ground our foolish actions defiled, desecrating it? Talk of heaven! Ye disgrace Earth! William Blake called our natural paradise The Garden of Love, and wrote of its human despoilation:

And I saw it filled with graves,
And tomb-stones where flowers should be;
And Priests in black gowns walking their rounds,
And binding with briars my joys and desires.

So the artificial became natural, the truly natural, artificial…the lie was consumated and or college of artificer-augurs solemnly proclaimed black to be white and white black, when humankind once trusted its eyes and lenses as PHYTOMPHALOS provided. Shut out from the natural paradises, the way even to the artificial blocked by tolltakers and foolish dogmatists, humankind was bereft in a wilderness of its own making, burning or beatifying the few who still found their way back. A wise being called it the end of life and the beginning of survival….from natural paradises to artificial hell…falling into history, the nightmare from which we are all struggling to awake.

But PHYTAMPHALOS had sunk its roots deep into Pangæa, far deeper than the rotting veneer of humanstuff, deeper even than we might dig, down into the human brain, profounder than thought, even to the strata of instinct and desire. There it set its seeds, year after year; generations passing like the moons, ages blowing in the winds, æons adrift on a river of time, whose thin current slides away, while eternity remains, washed clean by the years…..there, on the ever shrinking frontiers of human habitation; here, in the very shadow of the church, in the biggest humanscape on the shining face of Pangæa. We die, our cultures die…the very words we weave worlds of perish, but PHYTOMPHALOS persists in many of its protean forms, for it is the very texture of eternity, woven not of words but the stuff of stars, the divine afflatus breathed into it by the solar wind, fiery star stuff made cool, green life in the watery alembic of the bluest planet in this corner of the universe…..We are indeed like giants plunged into the years, we are that roiling and sonorous, yet shallow, thin current that slides away over the sandy bottom of eternity in which PHYTOMPHALOS has sunk its roots. Whether we choose to founder, or navigate this Amazon of the Æons, we cannot resist its fearsome course, no Anaconda-Canoe bears us upstream.

Phytalchemical, phyteternal, sepultered even beneath the slow, steady accretion of sixteen hundred annular rings of human folly, protean PHYTOMPHALOS, indifferent to history, loving even the shadows, an artificial, archaic, anarchic; yet nurtured its kine, set its seed in subhistorical strata of Lady Gæa’s lush loins, even in human history, faint fossilized frondprints on the strands of our words, fabric of our reality, on that repertory of wood-notes wild. Could we but attune ourselves to the faint descant that rises from them, we could hear the ethereal echo of its icaro…listen, yes, you can hear it still….a whisper on the night, sighing in the trees of language, leafy rustle of solar wind afflatus…windsong, treesighs, whispering on the night…soothsighing, songsaying, windsighing whispery on the night eternal….there is the soothing music of this Gæan sphere, sensous, sonorous soothsong.

Casting its siren song on the winds of language, setting its seed in subhistorical, subneural strata, PHYTOMPHALOS endured, plantpatient, strong; ever ready for that magic moment when some manimal communicant, awestruck, headbowed, with trembling fingers should touch the tender petals of its fecund fragrant flower and bid them open, for long hours to inhale the aroma of its peculiar dreams into a marveling and bewildering being. Phytalchemical plantpatient pedagogue, protean stuff of stars, font of language, culture, art, windwhispers sighing in its leafy branches, ages blowing in the solar wind over the shallow stream of time, years washing eternity into its siren song, dusty delicate danceprints on the windblown fabric of our wordwoven worlds, divine afflatus lofting languid longing Lorelei lovesongs, loin-lush logos lambent on leafy limbs of language, soothsighing soaring icaro…rotting veneer of foetid humanstuff so much fertilizer for its omnigæan roots, compost of culture. And all the while we die…we cultures die…we wordwoven worldweft wordweb windwhispers wither and waste away….way, awaste away, awhence we came, windy dust, wafted along a milky river of suns, down to a starry sea.

Amazon of the Æons, torrent of time…corporal canoes caroming chaotically in Chronos’ current and cataract, colossal giants plunged into it’s course, ceaseless current of years, cataract of centuries cascading….sliding over sandy shoals semptiternal, down the milky river of the galaxy, its bottom pebbly with stars. Heavenhalm helix, genelike, generations gyring like moons, ages blowing æons adrift, Tree of Life, roots sunk deep in the astral bottom of time, tendering its trenchant trunks to tether our timetossed triremes….corporalcanoes, mindmasts flying spiritspinnackers ….running ever downwind, reaching to that milky haven of heaven, its bottom pebbled with stars, solarwind stardust, setting sail on a swirling sea of suns.

Stalwart phyteternal PHYTOMPHALOS, plantstrong, protean puissant….laughing logos lustral on its leafy limbs…tendering tethers to timetossed tomorous triremes….wizened Oaxacan wisewoman, logos leaping from ladylush loins, language loquacious on the loinlush ground…windwhispers soothsighing…treesong timbreternal tethery tendrils….leafy living logos lying latent, listenerlonging.

Listen…yes, you can hear it still….icaros echoing eternal on the solar wind….phytalchemical pedagogues, phyterternal….plantpatient starstuff…heavenly haven pebbly with suns…starshine on aqueous alembic harboring heavenhalm helix….stardust asail on a milky river of time….PHYTOMPHALOS, plantpersisting, fragrant fecund flowers opening to our tremulous touch, nectarneeding…tendriling tethers, tendering treesong silken on the nectary night….listen, O, listen…can’t you hear its dulcent song? All you have to do is listen, and dream…logos lofting on the solar breeze, listenerlonging…logos leaping loquacious from the loinlush landscape….logos lambent over Æon’s
Amazon, Ahpikondiá. Milky river of stars…timetossed triremes reaching for home, running downwind to a heavenly haven, starstriving.

O, listen,do….treesong windwhispers soothsighing, tethertendering….solar wind lilting leafen logos…nectar wafting on the starmilky night…treesighs stirring in the branches of language…ambrosia welling up from the deepsunk roots, anchored in the starsandy subtrate of time, astral alembic of æons, everflowing milky river. Listen, yes, and dream…drink dream draughts of astral amrta…drink, dream to its insistent icaro….rilling riverine reveries, starbottomed….

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