Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Sun Temple—Part 2

s my visits to the Battery became more frequent, the idea gradually grew in my mind that I was perhaps performing a kind of ritual. The first part of this ritual was similar to a physical and spiritual cleansing: I would first engage in very vigorous exercise—weight-lifting and calisthenics—all performed with no rest between the sets, in order to achieve an increased heart-rate and circulation. For an hour and a half or more, I would struggle and strain against the weights until I reached a state of exhaustion, and my heart, lungs, and muscles were pushed to the limits of their capabilities, and my blood was pumping vigorously through my veins and arteries.

The next element on this path of initiation was the liberating effect of climbing aboard a bicycle and leaving the stifling confines of my dark and damp prison of an apartment far behind me, emerging into the sunlight and skimming across town on my way to the Hudson in a state of wonderful anticipation. I always approached the Battery by the same route—as if following the dictates of a carefully prescribed spiritual path or labyrinth: left on Cooper Square—right on Bleecker—left on Carmine, (which after two blocks becomes Clarkson) then left on Washington — right on West Houston, past West Street, through the underpass, and left on the Hudson River Greenway, which ceremoniously takes me all the way down to the Battery. It is when I reach Clarkson Street that a spell overtakes me, as the city relaxes and opens up, and the river begins to be felt.

I then add the next element to this equation: the sacrament—the flowers and fruit of the Cannabis Sativa plant—the brother of man—derived from potent and exotic seeds which had been obtained under the most difficult and harrowing circumstances, deep in the Hindu Kush, by a fanatical disciple of this most complex and mysterious of all intoxicants. These same seeds—harvested from legendary strains that had been in existence since antiquity—were then brought back to America to be grown and cultivated with a scientific precision and advanced technique derived from years of exacting practice and study. The product of this extraordinary effort sat before me on my humble kitchen table: the fruit of this most benevolent plant, glistening with sugary flowers—green and yellow, and shot through with white and orange threads—a most commendable achievement! These and other treasures of the Eurasian nomads were now in my possession.

Now, as is well known, Cannabis, whether smoked or ingested, has many strange and remarkable effects upon the human mind and body, and not the least of them is that it acts as a dilator on the blood vessels and arteries—that is, it opens them up, (unlike tobacco, for instance, which has the opposite effect of constricting them). As you will recall, my blood vessels were already opened all the way up, so the addition of the dilating effects of the Cannabis has an extraordinary effect on my system. The flow of blood and oxygen to the brain is increased many times over. Also well known is that vigorous exercise produces its own euphoria, as endorphins are released into the blood, and Cannabis also provides this benefit, so a synergistic effect is produced by this potent combination of the two. The resulting euphoria that is bestowed upon a healthy and robust individual using this method can scarcely be imagined.

The aforementioned Clarkson Street[1]—usually deserted, and with no one to interfere with the ceremony— is where I smoke the sacrament that is often prescribed for the treatment of Absentmindedness. Born upon the smoke that is as old as religion itself, is a most benevolent visitation, as the silvery fruit of that divine plant is released into the blood, generating orange and gold sparks of recognition, as man is once again reunited with his dear brother, in a ritual that had already continued for three millennia by the time Herodotus encountered it. The sky opens like an immense bubble, as the world expands and pulses with saturnine colors and a powerful current courses through my body as I give myself over to the intoxication of the sun.

There is always a temptation to linger on Clarkson—that moody street that encourages reflection and digression—but the imperative of the sun and river remind me to move on. Infused and inhabited by the essence of the being that is at once a God, a plant, and a sacrament, I move away from Clarkson's tranquil embrace and resume my journey towards the river.

I turn left on Washington—right on Houston, and then move through the cool darkness of the underpass—emerging into the light, and with the sun on my back—cross the highway. At this point the river is still hidden behind the pastel green façade of the Port Authority buildings—but they suddenly come to an end and the great Hudson appears: a shattered mirror where the sun’s face has broken up into a million facets that dance white-hot on the water’s surface, creating ever-changing kaleidoscopes in a blinding display. I am overly susceptible to the effects of these mesmeric and ever-changing patterns, and as my mind locks onto them, I am shot through with white and orange currents that burn like magnesium through my synapses. I begin to feel a light-headedness that threatens my equilibrium, and as I pull my gaze away from the river, I can still see the patterns of the solar sparks on the surface of the roadway. All of my cares and concerns dissolve as the Hudson flows alongside me as I continue down along the path that runs alongside the river.

The Battery—that great slumbering theater—once again appears in front of me as I pass by the abandoned Pier A, its paralyzed clock hands revealing the exact moment of its death, and its dark and shuttered interior hoarding a wealth of ancient secrets. I walk out onto the broad expanse of the Promenade, where the heat of the sun can be felt most strongly. It is a kind of platform that announces your supplications to the Sun—a place to perform your salutations. My body feels young and strong, and gladly soaks up and absorbs the heat of the solar bath. The white surface of the Promenade is the reflection of the sun’s face and radiates its heat upwards—generating sparks from glistening sugary flowers—all shot through with white and orange strands.

Under the influence of the Liberator of Sin, the quizzical expressions of the tourists remind me that "to be a little happy is suspect, and to be very happy is quite sinful", and I also fear that I may have angered the city officials by proclaiming myself a god and introducing these strange rites to the general population.

The immense weight of the harbor at high tide commands our attention, the tourist boats rocking back & forth as the water churns and boils, and the steam colors my thoughts with rare and antique hues. A sparkling cenotaph appears before me: decorated with a carved swag of foliage and flowers, and with my own story inscribed: I am Euphoria! I can hear and feel the hot water rushing in under our feet deep beneath the Promenade, splashing and gurgling around the piles and stanchions, finding its way in through a million tiny cracks and crevasses—then exploding up—ten feet in the air— through the small circular grates set in the roadway: a spouting whale that delights the sun's dark and gold-colored children who cavort around them. Seven generations went past while I marveled at the debauch of forms and colors, and a Chaldean priest whispers into my ear:

"It is a plant that grows on the highest summits…the birds carried it 
from there in all directions…it makes the beggar's mind as exalted as 
that of the rich."­

Slowly, almost imperceptibly, these sun-scape divinations begin to wane, losing a good deal of their flame in the process, and with them my thoughts begin to cool, as Great Neptune’s Daydream[3] is tinted by an obscure nostalgia that creeps in with the tides, and seeps in stealthily right beneath our feet. 


[1] Clarkson Street, which runs east-west, was at that time untouched by modernization—it was still part of the old Manhattan, with its 19th Century warehouses, loading docks and cobblestones. There existed a peculiar emotion on this street which never failed to resonate with me… a peacefulness that offered a respite and invited contemplation.

[2] Dhalla, 1938

[3] Great Neptune’s Daydream, A Wastrels Book of Verse, Solaric Press, 1911 

/// Battery Park /// Cannabis /// Sun Cult ///


  1. ... and is there more to follow?

    1. Yes, much more—I realize I made an error: I neglected to add the "To be continued" at the end