Thursday, June 9, 2011


It was 102 and 103 degrees here in Minneapolis, Monday and Tuesday respectively. It was about 50 degrees Thursday morning. The culture is so screwed up we've gone and given nature a bi-polar disorder. People were complaining about the heat, but I remember clearly the seven consecutive weeks this winter, when the temperature never climbed above freezing. Wednesday was gorgeous, and evidently a Mexican gray wolf at the Minnesota Zoo thought so too, escaping his confines through a hole in the fence, and then leaping another fence, eight feet tall. If you happen to be near an eight foot wall, the height of most interior residential walls, imagine a gray wolf leaping over it, keeping in mind that this particular gray wolf lived its entire life in a cage. How much do you suppose this wolf wanted to be free? The zoo said the breach in the fence was caused by an unusually heavy snow load. I know the last snow in the Twin Cities finally melted on Wednesday, but that was once a small mountain on the Midway Stadium parking lot, piled there by the city of St Paul. Few seem to be asking the obvious question: you guys don't check your fences? They shot and killed the wolf. Better to die the way he did, than to die old, in a cage.

For long-time readers: the city went and ripped out every one of the Regent serviceberry shrubs I wrote about last July. To replace them, it appears, with long rows of identical variegated ornamental grasses, like the typically sterile, homogenized retail/commercial landscaping in a seventh-tier suburban parking lot.

I was in a dark place when I published the last post. The negredo of the alchemists, the fertile shit of birth and regeneration. There is nothing attractive or pleasant about it, though from the alchemical perspective, it is necessary, and the true creative source out of which all gold originates. This came back to me as I was sitting on the patio at the Birchwood Cafe in the Seward neighborhood, one afternoon last Saturday. There were two women sitting at a table near me, a crone, and a young, beautiful West African, speaking French. I was hostile to the world, but the weather was mild, I was softened by the mixed cultivar and wild flowers on the boulevard, so I sat there with my coffee, closed my eyes and drifted into the cadence of their conversation - though I do not understand the language. The West African seemed to key with my attention, and became more and more animated, joyous in her expression, and my spirit was in turn lifted.

The Goddess has been good to me in many ways. I have come to see women as manifestations of the Goddess; of course, to say so, that would mean that men are manifestations of the God - and each of us manifestations of both, by degrees. That's not easy for me, as I'm inclined to think God doesn't have much credibility at this point, so much that is ugly having been done, is being done, in His name, with such great success. Still, I have come to see the friction or interaction between these opposites, the feminine and the masculine, as the engine of creation. Out of unity, harmony flows. Starting with oneself.

I had been asking, of myself, of the Goddess, what is the point? Why am I here, in this house, on this land, without the means to pay for it? What really am I doing? In the summer of 2008 I called out to the Goddess, offering myself up in service. Shortly after, I met Val Kyrie. That fall, I walked away from this house, and my life here, to be with her and her kids. Since, I wrote a book, I have educated myself about the economy, about plants, about the soil, about the nature of existence, I have returned to this house where I wrote another book. I continue to educate myself. That no one understands what I am doing or why I do what I do, has been a great distress to me. What is the point of any of it, any of the advances I have made in my interior life, in my body, if the world is indifferent, if there is so little return on this investment, beyond my own satisfaction, that what I am doing I know to be true to myself?

I've been feeling the shamanic call. I am desperate, in fact, to test what I have been hearing about psychedelics. The doors of my perception are in dire need of cleansing. I planted the olilioqui, but only three of the 36 seeds I planted germinated. I would like to try three grams of mushrooms, but I don't have the means right now. There are no known psychedelics native to Minnesota, and I don't have the kind of friends who have access to the black market, and I don't really want the plants or the shrooms if I don't know where they came from. My attitude is, if I can grow it, then I should be able to consume it. My government says I can't, making it fundamentally illegitimate. Being fundamentally illegitimate, however, has never stopped any government from oppressing, not least this one. So what am I to do?

I've been spending my evenings listening to Terence Mckenna on youtube*. He has become like a mentor to me. I have never heard any man speak so eloquently, so intelligently, so gently and so profoundly, about the human experience. Like many, I thought I was alone in my thinking until I heard Terence speak. That he is likely unintelligible to most has little to do with Terence. I found a recording of a woman asking him about heavenly blue morning glory. The seeds were his first psychedelic experience (though don't go out, buy them and consume them, as they apparently make you nauseous, and many seed companies soak them in poison.) I've grown those! I'm growing a lot more now.

Then I learned reed canary grass, Phalaris arundinaceae, is a source of Dimethyltryptamine, DMT, also known as the spirit molecule. Reed canary grass is one of those noxious invasives that has come to dominate the landscape, which is ironic if the word about DMT is true. That would make Minnesota something like the promised land. I sang to it as I clipped the leaves on the shore of Minnehaha Creek. I found a juicer at Savers for $3.77. The first round, the juicer bounced around until one of the latches broke. The second round, the second latch broke, the top flew off onto the floor, plant fibers were flung around the kitchen, and the cutting apparatus spun through the air, landing in a cast iron pan at about 100 rpm/second. The juice is drying in the oven at 170 degrees.

I was working this afternoon, mudding sheetrock at a jobsite when I decided to call my father. He was not well, having just gone through a difficult surgery. Twice now, people have come to him, asking about me. Evidently, because they saw me on tv, a local news station having interviewed me about the city trying to condemn this house - which he is currently paying for. Ominously, he told me not to do anything else to bring him any more trouble than he already has.

Though he was referring to the house and yard, I started thinking about my books, and this blog. I haven't shown anyone the second book, and I'm not sure I'm going to. I write as much with the sword, as I do for healing. I have tried to be honest. I have tried to be clear. I have tried to be entertaining, and courageous. I have endeavored above all not to take myself too seriously (not always with success, I think). I had conceived of this blog as a means to help others navigate these difficult times. Most of the response has been positive, which I am immensely grateful for. That said, my friend Chad asked me recently how many page views there have been. I said 9,000. He asked, "A day?" "Since I started." "That's nothing," was his honest if not entirely accurate reply.

I meant to bring healing to the world, and I have, by healing myself. I had thought to share that. I had imagined the books I've been writing as a trilogy, as a kind of guide, not as a path, but as a challenge, as a means to help the reader give him or herself permission to follow what he or she knows to be true to him or herself. I had thought to use the proceeds to re-build this house as a model of what is possible off-the-grid. It is also true, that any success would likely meet with equal or greater force by dominators and righteous oppressors. I am not afraid. But there is little support in this world for radical anarchist gorilla gardening shamanic alchemical hermeticists in service to the Goddess. And any trouble I encounter, though it come from the blind and the cruel, will be seen by my father as a betrayal on my part - and it has never been my intention to harm him. I have wanted to write a book since I was a child. I have written two; I am thinking of them now as a sacrifice unto God. As to the Goddess, she will remain, I suspect, as she has always been toward me, mostly indifferent.

I will continue to heal. To heal the land, to heal this house, and those I come in contact with, who are open to it. I will continue on the shamanic path, in service to the Goddess. I will continue to work to take this house off the grid. But I think I will do so now, quietly. This blog has been fun; I'm going to miss it. Thank you for reading. Blessings to you, and those close to you,

William Hunter Duncan

* I leave you with this from Mckenna. This is as clear a delineation of what I am and believe, and who we are, as I have heard from anyone. Timothy Leary introduces him. You are welcome to skip the Q&A, though there's gold there too, especially at the very end.
aka Terence Mckenna: Unfolding the Stone


bz said...

William, I only recently discovered your blog, but it is one of my favorites. I'll miss reading it.

barefoot gardener said...

Well, shit. I was just getting settled around here, and you're moving on...

Good luck, Goddess bless. And I mean that. She isn't as indifferent as you may believe.

petere said...

I first heard your name on your comments at The Archdruid, which led me to your blog. How can you go wrong with a name like William Hunter Duncan? It has big time star quality. I so appreciate all your honesty and truth that you express about your feelings without any fear. You are one of a kind and a sensitive, beautiful human being. Give your self more credit. We all go through bad times and the thing to remember is that bad, difficult times don't last forever. It's ebb and flow, give and take, up and down. That's the rhythm of life. The main thing is that you be true to yourself and what is important to you. F... everybody else. Many brilliant, different thinking people have been misunderstood as you feel you have. Maybe that's the price of brilliance. Being a landscaper and horticulturist I enjoy hearing of your gardening exploits and you inspire me. Please don't stop your blog, we all want to hear of your next adventure.


Jeff Z said...

Thanks for writing what you did and being brave enough to speak your mind, Hunter.

Darkness doesn't last forever, and I believe there are shamen out there looking for apprentices. I get the feeling you'll write again someday soon and I'm looking forward to reading it.


Thardiust said...

What led me to your blog is the fact that you write well and speak your mind truthfully while doing so without trying to push a hidden agenda on someone or sell a product. I’ll still keep visiting Off The Grid whenever I get the chance just in case you change your mind about blogging.

Best wishes,


William Hunter Duncan said...

Thank you all for your kind words. I feel remiss for not responding sooner, and knowing you will not likely see this. I feel immensely grateful for each of you, that you have read me and heard me. Blessings on your path. I hope as I am posting again, we can continue this journey together.