Tag Archives: Isle of Wight

Didj journey with Joe Caudwell, Newport IOW

Experiences from a didgeridoo and ocean drum journey led by Joe Caudwell on the eve of Saturday 11th March 2017, at Newport Unitarian Hall, Isle of Wight.

I’m on a small beach, a sunny day with fairly calm seas, and there’s a very large tree just going up the slope from the beach inland, towards a lightly forested area. It is maybe an oak, or perhaps a banyan (I might be in Indonesia).

There is an opening in the trunk, and I enter in and out a few times. I’m taken back into the sea a few times. Eventually I enter and it’s like a dark walkway for a little way, and then things start going very fast, with lots of blue colours swirling.

I come out by a large crater. There are a few people around, who are all shape-shifting (their faces open up to reveal metal etc). I start falling into the crater, which has a dark slightly bubbling mass covering the entire bottom. I am hovering but falling slightly. I see more faces.

Things trail off from this point – I slowly come back to the room, hearing the Didj and drum, and think I’m not supposed to have come back yet.

I’m soon back at a beach – a different beach though, but very close to the first one, similar energy. I’m not quite so relaxed for a little while, and I’m going quickly from one image to another. At one point I consciously think I should be meeting an animal or something, and a lion comes along, but he doesn’t do anything, he just lies down. I see lots more shape-shifting people. A lot of them are trying to freak me out, like ghosts, but I’m feeling fine, feeling very safe.

One thing leads to another, and I’m at the top of a massive gorge, really high up with sheer faces. I start falling down the side of it, and an absolutely massive bird appears, like a pterodactyl (dinosaur bird). The bird takes me up to the clouds, and then we keep bobbing up above the clouds and then back down into the thick but gentle clouds. We soon start gliding above the clouds, and it’s like a beautiful landscape up there, with high faces and whatnot.

There’s a big old sailing ship, like a pirate ship but not pirates. It’s sailing the clouds.

For a brief instant, Shirdi Sai appears, as he looks on my shrine (like this:)

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Sri Shirdi Sai

Then the clouds become an ocean, with massive massive waves, towering so so high, and yet the boat is able to deal with it. We go up massive wave, then an even more massive wave, and so on, until I turn around and we allow the waves to take us where they’re going.

We end up on the beach I first started on. I’m in the woods up the slope from the beach. There’s a big brick elliptical arch, a little bigger that the wooden arch we installed at Somaskanda Ashram in the temple last summer. It’s a beautiful sight, and I’m stood there just staring up at its shape for some time, in this nice familiar wooded setting (the woods are very local at this point, probably the woods on Headon Hill, Totland).
I have a friend come to me, who I heard a few weeks ago came very close to losing her life in a freak accident in the sea. I will get in touch – it’s been a few years since we communicated, and it felt like an important meeting in this journey.

Soon there is the call to come back, I go to my tree and go through the opening, there are a few shape-shifting people trying to stop me, going along a very long walkway, and Joe begins talking before I get to the other side of the walkway (I assume I got back okay – I could see the light…).

I talked to Joe about the shape-shifting, and about the boat in the sky. He says it all sounds like the celestial realms – the shape-shifting people maybe being ghosts. If I weren’t so needing to have a snooze now, I’d take the bus over to Yarmouth, where there’s apparently a big tall boat moored up, which could have a link with the boat in my journey.

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Journey to the centre of being

It doesn’t matter so much what you do. The cause and effect will happen. The opposite will always be invoked, no matter how good or bad.

I had quite the internal crisis on Thursday night. I’d been to badminton club in Ryde, and lost every match except for the singles I played at the end of the night. The whole night I was feeling uncomfortable, feeling something odd going on energetically in the hall. It was like as if everyone was asleep in some way and something else was there.
I left feeling internally in pieces, pulled apart from the sense of stability and solidity that normally guides everything for me. I took my shoes and socks off, cranked up some music, and walked slowly through Ryde to some skips, and then to my bus stop. I felt as if everyone around was suddenly against me in some way. I got thoughts of where I could go and live instead. I thought of Bristol, South Wales, Switzerland, the Pyrenees, and Indonesia. All places where I’ve felt a feeling of freedom to be. It felt kind of urgent.

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I feel asleep on the couch trying to write about everything. I woke at 5am and went to bed for an hour, before I had to get up for work. I was still in pieces.

It had rained a lot, and was raining a little when I got out. I got my feet soaked when I got off the bus because my shoes don’t resist water. I got to work. I was told a few minutes after starting work that I hadn’t clocked in. I had clocked in, but it hadn’t registered so – normally this means missing morning tea break as a result. The supervisor said I’d clocked out accidentally instead of in, and everything was fine. I went through the first few hours in my own world with my assembling job that I was going for a new time record for. I was going so fast.

At tea break I spoke briefly to Mai, a lovely Thai lady. She pretty much just wished me a really pleasant weekend, we didn’t have much time for talking about anything as she was on the earlier tea break and had to go. The energy was soft, and loving. Everyone on that table was soft and loving.

I went back to work, and started conversation with my neighbour, a new guy, Phil, that started a few weeks back but had been repositioned next to me the day before. We connected strongly. He came to the island from Manchester because he has family here. He’d like maybe to start a business around his cartoons he draws. He doesn’t know where to get started with publishing. He’s a quiet man, and gives the impression of being very reclusive. But his energy is warm, and loving.

After work I needed to go to Newport to pick up a piece of wood for a miniature door carving I agreed to do for a dementia project. Phil got on the same first bus, and there were a couple of other colleagues that we sat upstairs with. The energy was fantastic, like we all shared in this club of living together at the factory.

In Newport I got the wood and went to Independent Arts, to see the project assistant. She was really excited by my enthusiasm to take this on, and said she’d like to put my progress on their website, and have a grand unveiling of the door on the 24th April. I felt feelings of real adequacy. I felt, for the first time since leaving Somaskanda Ashram, that I can call myself a carpenter again. I realised that I do have the skills and ability to do this project.

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The good vibes wood

I went looking for tools, and ended up buying some online. An investment – a jigsaw and a rotary tool. The rotary tool would take quite some time to sand it, but I can give the time. I will cut it with the jigsaw, then plane to a decent thickness, then carve patterns in with the rotary grinder. I can do this because I was carving into a meteorite rock with a rotary tool at Somaskanda. I am skilled.

I left home just after 7pm to go back to Newport for an Amnesty International meeting with Lucy. I heard from Tārā who told me all about Somaskanda – the first news I’d heard in quite some time to a place I feel so very much connected to. We met in Newport and talked briefly before getting to the meeting. I’d told Lucy I’d had a hard time and wanted an evening of good vibes.

The meeting was hot, way hot. I took my jumpers off but was still really hot. We were the youngest there by a long way. Most were very much retired. The Isle of Wight Amnesty group was set by Derek Stirman in 1962, 55 years ago. He was in the meeting. We were told he keeps quiet nowadays in the meetings as he feels he can’t contribute anything anymore because of his age, but that it was completely because of him that the group has been going the whole time. I felt like I was meeting a living legend.

They talked about different prisoners that they’re trying to help, and different events they’re putting on. I’d been quiet most of the time but ended up agreeing to promote some of the events, and I wrote a birthday message to a prisoner in Morocco about football (I was told he likes hearing about football and so I told him briefly what’s going on at my club, Newcastle United, with all the good vibes Rafa Benitez has invoked). I marvelled at the stone fireplace, and especially at the beautiful long stone shelf that stuck out of it. As a stoneworker myself, I saw this as something really accomplished and beautiful.
We left, it was raining a lot, and quickly the chair of the meeting picked us up and took us to Brading.

I suggested us going to the Kynges Arms pub on the high street, an Oldy Worldy pub I’d always wanted to go to but hadn’t been in yet.
We went in and immediately a girl came running over to Lucy and gave her a big hug. An old friend she hadn’t seen in a few years, since being her bridesmaid. The universe brought them back together here.

We sat at another table by the window with our drinks. There was an old well in the middle of the table. I was flabbergasted. The universe brought me back to the living waters.

Everything was all good vibes. Lucy asked me if I’ve ever done any building work, I told her about my first ever proper project I’d managed, and completed with David within our time limit, of building the shelter for Nandy. Of course Markus and Swami Narayana didn’t tell us their thoughts on it, they tended to keep their praise to particular planned-out moments. But it was brilliant. And it was David’s first ever building project (he didn’t tell me until after – I’d assumed he had some experience). He absolutely loved the project, and that’s what it’s all about in the end really. Loving what you’re doing. It really shows if you love it.

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Nandy Boys

I said about wanting to do face masks sometime. I hadn’t had a face mask since I was 17, but always found them so relaxing. Lucy said she makes face masks, but normally they’re for ‘girly nights’ and realised how much of a gender stereotype that is. We agreed that I would be seen as gay by other men if I spoke of wanting to have a facemask. It’s a desire for relaxation, and for some reason it’s seen as extremely deviant for a man to want that. It brought my mind quickly back to the Amnesty meeting, when a call-out was made as to if anyone would lead up a Pride project to do with Amnesty on the island, and the chair specifically looked at Lucy and myself, and we both stayed quiet. I hadn’t ever considered myself within that grouping, but there are so many things that make me stand out from the ‘man’ stereotype. I feel uncomfortable when other men are sexualising women in any way (and this includes even ‘chatting up’ women at events based on their looks), and don’t actually see myself feeling an attraction to anyone based solely on their looks. I sleep cuddling teddy bears every night. I wear hippy trousers that are only sold in women’s sizes. And for years in the past would be confused for being a lady, because of having long hair and no beard. But then I feel that all people, regardless of sexual leaning and what have you, should have every right to feel ‘pride’ in being whatever feels natural. Whatever feels natural.

We left, Lucy caught her bus, and I had a brilliant puja at my shrine. To bed, and a night of crazy dreams, lots of disturbances throughout. But I’m here now. I need to retreat away sometimes, but will continue to affect things around me even if I have retreated. Sometimes a retreat is the most powerful action, or is the only thing that feels right.

And I feel all vibed up. The crisis of Thursday night brought a lot of things up. I doubted everything I’m doing. Now I’ve been given signs that I’m doing all the right things. And that’s all I need.

Do you have no memories to recall your testaments?

It doesn’t matter how much older I get (it won’t sound like much, but I’m 27!! 27!!!! I was thinking about ten years ago doing silly things with friends, just being a little more reckless and wild and stuff… And really, that’s ten years ago. I’m not like that now, it seems).
But it seems I can never be too old to listen to some Boston Street Punk at the loudest possible volume, dancing away to it as every single part of the music makes my heart jig a little, way up high on Brading Down.

I think I can do this forever.

And the pieces of life that I’ve picked up, of that life that I seemed to maybe be living before I moved into my 14½ months of monastic life, they’re almost like postcards from the edge. I’m a torn apart person, in many ways, and it’s really a very good thing.

I’m not pushing myself towards doing anything other than daily walks, and often really long ones. I’m officially looking for a job, but a job will come when the time becomes right for it. This is a sacred Isle. I’ve come pretty much from a sacred mountain to some of the best places in Britain to be by the sea. I now begin my search for lost springs and holy wells, on the island. The local history society have anyway stated their interest in my plans, and said they’d definitely consider publishing it when it’s written up. It’s about living life, not searching for something that doesn’t feel so right. The job search can be a terrible thing, especially having to effectively falsify yourself in order to meet someone you don’t knows ideals. It’s selling out in many ways. I’m an unforgiving prick and I’m just living the bastard’s way.
Swami Narayana said that he thinks I’ll never be the bread-earner. It’s probably true. I think I’d much rather live happily in poverty than unhappily in luxury.

There’s no punk whatsoever on the island. This is quite limiting, especially in that I’ve different at least 6 months craving to stumble around in the middle of the dancehall crashing into everyone with lights everywhere and the beat totally absorbing, a trance of fast words and trembling basses and so so much energy. There’s folk here and everyone dances, though. Which is pretty good too. But the place needs something edgier. Punk, reggae….astro-trance….

And so I’m 27 years old, and living on this crazy island with my mum. I banned myself from leaving until I get some money saved up and a driving license. Mum told me a lot of people ‘need’ me, here. Need my help.

I’ll bring them since punk.

Sri Kamala Lakshmi, Vasudevaya

I feel somehow heartbroken.

Walking back up the hill, the moon and Venus ringing their bells, I collapse in a heap against the snowy bank. I cry out the words ‘Sri Kamala Lakshmi, vasudevaya…Sri Kamala Lakshmi, Narayana…’. It’s the only thing that helps. Things lift somewhat when I offer it all as a manifestation of goddess Lakshmi. It’s all it can be, to have this much of an effect. Om Sri Kamala Lakshmi, I bow at thee lotus feet. I surrender all to thee. You send my life in the sweetest of directions.

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So I sit here, momentarily in an empty Swiss mountain Shiva Shakti temple house, listening to the Kamala Stotram…because it’s the only thing that helps. I guess I’m kind of processing all of what’s happened not only over the weekend, but over the last few months. Dozens of shooting stars. And then, just communicating in the most natural sense. Om Sri Kamala Lakshmi. Om Sri Kamala Lakshmi.

It’s partly because of her that it was made impossible to even contemplate a monastic future in my life. We worship Lakshmi in the temples, and Lakshmi tells me that I need to fall in love in the deepest sense possible in this incarnation, and that needs to be shared with a young lady sent by Mother. And very occasionally in this life I’ve got the hint that that is how it shall be, sometime, in life. I’ve done pretty good at keeping the people I’ve felt it with close to me in life, as good friends, and when the time becomes right Sri Kamala Lakshmi shall create the connection. There is nothing I shall do, except for always always offering it, in the temples and at my shrine but also internally and in nature. There’s nothing else I can do. I am an instrument of the divine – I am always doing things how I’m given the messages they should be done. And it pains me a lot now, as this feeling is so strong there, but the time is yet to be quite right.

Whilst the time is not quite right, I am given the inspiration to delve deeper into dancing. I imagine myself becoming a 5 Rhythms dance instructor in the future, and I must dedicate my life immediately after leaving Skanda Vale to the 5 Rhythms. At times it will be all that I have in the world to keep me going. But that doesn’t mean that life will be empty. The rhythms give so much fullness to life – as everything else kind of falls away, and the clutter gets cleared.

And yet, I also have to have a partner in life to do this with. I also get the message that I can’t go through this alone anymore. I need that total bodily and spiritual support that few can possibly offer, but Mother will make the offering..

The mountain temple is empty now. Today we had 15 of us here. The puja was immense. The last few days have been full of incredible pujas. Last night I absolutely sung my heart out to Lord Subrananya, Skanda Kartikeya, and had it not been for the air being so dry I’m sure I’d have been crying away whilst singing. I don’t know what made the connection so strong. And then Anja has been singing mesmerising bhajans to divine mother, and today Andreas sung his Shiva bhajan and I saw somehow all the energy being directed towards the bottom of the road that I will be moving into in Brading, Isle of Wight. Lord Shiva has given himself there already to get things ready for me!!!

Bhajelo Ji Hanuman! Oh Friend! Remember Hanuman!

So I carry on. The hardest is yet to come, I see it right in front of me, and I’ve just got to give absolutely everything up and trust in it all being alright. Because it always has been before.

The only difference now is that there’s a really very pretty girl close to my heart, who I’ll be departing from maybe for a long time when I leave Switzerland in a few weeks.

Bhajelo Ji Hanuman! Bhajelo Ji Hanuman!

Life inside a nutshell

I see this crop circle, and the adjacent land-scraping board that was used by its artists. And it reminds me of the deeply meaningful search for those earth energies that seem a little missing from these days. I feel this amazing amount of comfort, like feeling God welcoming me back in life after being away a while. Like receiving a hug that would caress each flap of this heaving heart. Like as if everything’s okay anyway. Like showing me what’s next.

I needed this time at Skanda like I needed my thumbs whilst travelling. It’s a part of me, and in this time in life is central to everything that seems to depict my regeneration.

The winds tickles and rolls across my neck, a gently warm early summer salty breeze. The lobby grasses dance to the breasts played by the tree branches. A fox lives on these downs, sliding along in the direction of the end of land. The sea lit up by small and big boats dotted across, and glistening still from the last of the dusk. I’m overjoyed to be here. This evening, these few minutes, this is my holiday for the year. Alone on this hillside, with all of nature for company, I can feel the bliss of the moment easing off the strains on my tired heart, and everything tingles a little. Time stops still.

I’m days from leaving on a 2-day road journey with a monk and a dog to a small temple above the alpine line in Romansch Switzerland. We will work tirelessly for 7 weeks on building this temple, getting it ready for its inauguration in October. I’ve just spent almost all of the last year building the extension to the Sri Ranganatha temple at Skanda Vale, in a heavy, forested valley in heartlands north of Carmarthen, Wales. I almost lost an eye, or stability, but through it all have been gradually feeling more and more stable. The last year has been of growth. When you build a temple, the physical structure is not what you’ve built. That’s what the materials and money and energy built. But you build inside, a structure that Milaripa built and moved over and over, committing himself so fully and then so selflessly to it as he had no other choice. He’d developed unfortunate karma, which led him to his very fortunate karma. I’d almost burnt a house down, with myself and two dogs inside, sleeping to my side. And down went the internal structure that had been built. And it needed to be rebuilt. So it’s absolutely no coincidence that I’ve been building temples for the past year.

But I get these signs of the completion approaching soon. Every so often I get a clear feeling that there’s a world waiting for me somewhere.

Back in the crop circle, I half-dream of interacting with God. It doesn’t matter how long or how many times you’re in a temple, it seems, you’re still going to have your deepest experiences at unpredictable yet clearly intuited times. I’d felt guided up to this field, or something up here, so so strongly, for the whole walk upto this point. I talk with God for a while, and it’s like talking with an ultimate kind of caring force, that will always lead me in the right ways no matter what. I share my anxieties, and desires, and generally just what I’m feeling inside. Then I remember clearly asking about love. How would I find someone to be in love with again, to share life with in one way or another, when it feels so much like I go solo with it all and surely girls would be put off by that, or by my absurdities in general. I grow wild long hair that makes a lot of people think I’m a girl anyway, and surely……. And I’m told to just focus on the love that I’m able to give through and in everything, and that love will always attract the right people. And it’s like the most incredible fireworks display is going of in my heart and I am so full of joy.

We get thousands of people coming to Skanda Vale to be close to God. Sure, we’ve got the monastic discipline pretty much sorted. And sure, there’s energy there, it’s a powerful place. But I’ve never found God outside of myself. I don’t know if it’s possible to do so. And I’ve had continuously intimately close experiences of God ever since receiving the heartbreak of a very lonely relationship breakup over 9 years ago. And I wouldn’t give it up for anything. And this is where it gets complicated with my relationship with the ashram. I’ve found myself getting complacent in the ashram life. The building work is strong, but spiritually I’m feeling somehow more and more disconnected from the possibility of the completely random encounters with God.

And yet, I sit here rushing past middle England on a First Great Western to Swansea. My holiday is over, and it’s time to go back to work. Switzerland is calling, but God is unpredictable. God is between the lines of Streetlight Manifesto songs on their new album The Hands That Thieve. God is inside crop circles. God is in the views of glistening sea, and in my sisters voices, and in precious moments just being with myself. And in going along with things that just feel right.

I was taken through the village of my childhood and adolescence. A village where I felt like I really lost myself, and where I felt like I really found myself. And it felt incredibly surreal to be back, after 8 months away, and yet not even stepping a foot out of the car. We went down the same road that I walked up on dark and wet early evenings in December after being with my first girlfriend, lovestruck at fourteen. And the bench that I sat at whilst listening to Rise Against, Dancing In The Rain, frustrated to the point of emotive anger by my second girlfriend on my seventeenth birthday. I’d walked off by myself, leaving her awkwardly with my mum and brother, as desires for freedom broke me down. And I’m and about a pub in a near village that has been closed down for 5 years after a terrible murder there, and am asked details about it and fed intensely graphic information that I feel hurting something inside me to picture, and say that noone actually knows anything about it because everyone chose to keep out of it as much as possible. And I remember running from sounds in the woods with James when we’d have bonfires in the woods, with good reason, finding out later on that the owner suspected that it was us all along having the fires but never quite catching us. A place where dreams were made, but the sleep perpetuated beyond dreams.

And I walk down the hill of the down, and reach the park of Brading, and realise that this was where I was always meant to be based, this would be where I would live for at least some time. They say it’s a haunted old little town, but maybe it’s actually just the strong presence of God in this place.