Introducing Evolver Editions
This feature was originally prepared for Origin magazine and ran in the June issue. If you haven't yet seen Origin, with its enlivening mix of celebrity and consciousness culture, we encourage you to do so.
As an author, I wrote books exploring psychedelics, shamanism, and indigenous prophecies of this time. In my work, I combined my own personal journey and visionary experiences with philosophical reflections, studies of anthropology, cultural history, and other areas. I sampled ideas from Terence McKenna, Walter Benjamin, Carl Jung, Nietzsche, Barbara Marx Hubbard, and others. The books generated incredible response from readers -- a deluge of emails.
I realized that people reached out to me because there was no media outlet or cultural forum where they could express their ideas fully, and connect with a community that shared their interests. This led me to start Reality Sandwich with Ken Jordan, Jonathan Phillips, and Michael Robinson in 2007. As the site grew in popularity, we realized that our audience wanted to find each other and build communities. We launched Evolver.net to facilitate these community connections -- there are now 45 groups that we call "Evolver Spores" meeting up across the US as well as globally, through our non-profit initiative, The Evolver Social Movement. We also offer live, interactive, educational webinars with luminaries such as Starhawk, Ram Dass, Graham Hancock, Alex Grey, and many others through Evolver Intensives.
One goal of Evolver is to inspire people to connect with transformative ideas and practices that can take a variety of forms, such as permaculture projects, local currency initiatives, lucid dream workshops, women's groups, men's groups, bioremediation initiatives, and so on. We have seen our Evolver group in New Orleans spearhead a project to use mushrooms -- mycelial mats -- to leech out sludge left by the Gulf Oil spill. Our groups in Baltimore and Long Beach have been actively involved in creating new complementary currencies that help build community -- and so on.
We promote a culture of transformation that changes people from being passive, often cynical, consumers to passionate, pro-active participants engaged in bringing about the changes our world requires if we want our descendants to flourish. One major inspiration is the work of the great design scientist Buckminster Fuller. Fuller believed we need a design revolution to reconstruct our social and technological systems following the symbiotic, ever-unfolding principles that nature uses.
As part of our ongoing adventure with Evolver, we recently launched a new publishing imprint, Evolver Editions, in partnership with North Atlantic Books, a Berkeley based publisher. We have already published books I consider groundbreaking, including Manifesto for the Noosphere, the last work of the Mayan Calendar visionary Jose Arguelles; Sacred Economics by Charles Eisenstein; and The Secret Tradition of the Soul by Patrick Harpur. We also published an anthology of essays on what form a regenerative economy could take, What Comes After Money?
Below you will read essays from a few of our authors, introducing their work. I hope you will check out Reality Sandwich and Evolver, sign up to join our community, read these extraordinary books, and become part of our ongoing evolutionary experiment.
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The Electric Jesus: The Healing Journey of a Contemporary Gnostic
By Jonathan Talat Phillips
If you told me a few years ago that I'd write a book about Jesus, aliens, and ayahuasca, I would have laughed my ass off. As a secular materialist, I thought only direct political action made any real change in the world. But all of this changed after George W. Bush won a second term as president. With an estimated three species going extinct every hour, it seemed impossible that either a Democrat or Republican could rescue us from the deep cauldron we are boiling in. What we needed, I considered, was a "Galileo-type paradigm shift," something that would completely alter the way we looked at the world, and ourselves.
That's when the Chinese curse, "May you get what you wish for," happened to me. After taking MDMA on my 30th birthday, I started seeing energy fields (auras) around my friends, trees, even office furniture. Suddenly, I no longer viewed people as separate protoplasmic bodies, but rather giant balls of interconnected energy. Previously, I had sneered at spiritual seekers. Why did Buddhists waste their time sitting on pill-shaped cushions when they could be out chasing skirts? But, seeing was believing, and I had to at least admit that there was more to heaven and earth than my Gen X philosophy permitted.
To my surprise, I became interested in Christianity, especially the stereotypical halo imagery, which looked much like the energy fields I was now seeing. I felt the old mystics and visionary artists passed on a message: "No, you're not crazy. We're seeing this stuff too. Just follow the breadcrumbs if you want to learn more." So I investigated Christianity's origins, discovering it was much more diverse and mystical than what's been handed down to us.
Textual evidence of these early "mystery schools" reveal that many of them utilized a radical initiation process for harnessing energy in order to achieve "gnosis," direct knowledge or experience of the divine. I soon noticed that Christian icons mimicked spiritual symbols found in many other cultures -- including the Tree of Life, serpent, dove/eagle, and Star of David -- drawing an energetic roadmap of our evolutionary potential.
But I didn't want to just study these secrets and symbols academically; I wanted to experience them firsthand. The book is first and foremost a mystical detective memoir depicting a harrowing personal journey marked by underground ayahuasca ceremonies, out-of-body experiences, kundalini awakenings, prankster spirit guides, shape-shifting extraterrestrials at Burning Man, and miraculous energy healings. Along the way, I chronicle the rise of an incredible international movement awakening to "The Matrix around us." These po-mo evolutionaries have taken the red pill and are actively building transformational systems and communities to address the immense global crisis (and perhaps planetary initiation) facing us.
As cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead states, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." I pray she's right.
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Codex of the Soul: Astrology, Archetypes, and Your Sacred Blueprint
I initially began my healing training in 2003 with courses in Zen Shiatsu, Thai massage, Reiki 1 and 2, and Qikung during my pilgrimage through Asia. In my travels, I discovered patterns of energy which repeated all around me in the people I met.
A series of synchronicities and serendiptious experiences guided me to studying astrology and working with many different astrological systems. I began by investigating the Mayan Calendar and working with Mayan elders in Guatemala. My astrological training then expanded to include work in the schools of archetypal, Shamanic Astrology, soul-centered Evolutionary Astrology, Relocation Astrology, and now Human Design.
Over the years, these archetypal languages have informed and guided me, prying open pathways of deep self awareness, empathic relating, understanding, and personal empowerment. I was compelled to teach early on in my studies, mostly at festivals and yoga studios in various cities throughout the United States, synthesizing astrology with other embodied, experiential practices, such as dance, chakra meditations, yoga, and chi kung.
After teaching my first online course in astrology, I realized that the multimedia way of presenting my material appealed to people living in a complex and busy world. This then translated into creating a book which could offer a reference for those seeking soul-guidance and a living language that could be expressed through many different means.
The ideas presented, and the tools offered, simultaneously allow the reader to detach enough from our personalized dramas in order to objectify our experiences and gain perspective, while also giving us specific tools with which to engage more passionately with our sacred script. The correspondences of signs and planets to areas of everyday experience, such as styles of dance, music, and film, also bring the language of astrology down to earth in practical and embodied application.
One essential understanding presented in Codex is the recurring experience of rites of passage: initiation cycles which affect all of us at the same ages of life. This awareness has ramifications across all aspects of society: education, relationships, child-raising, and building intergenerational dialogues. It also suggests the importance of regular life-review periods to integrate our spiritual lessons while embodied in this life.
At this critical time of global consciousness shift, Codex of the Soul: Astrology, Archetypes, and Your Sacred Blueprint is an important contribution to the awakening of the individual human to its multidimensional nature. It is a navigation of the full spectrum of the psyche and the various deities and forces battling, playing, and dancing within each one of us.
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Nothing and Everything: The Influence of Buddhism on the American Avant Garde 1942 - 1962
By Ellen Pearlman
Nothing and Everything explores America's relationship to Eastern thought during the 1940's to the early 1960's in the creative worlds of literature, poetry, music, performance, dance, theater, installation, video, mixed media, painting, and sculpture. At that time life itself became a legitimate artist's tool, echoing Zen Buddhism's emphasis on enlightenment at any moment. Many learnt about Buddhism from the books and groundbreaking public classes taught at Columbia University by Dr. D. T. Suzuki, the famed Japanese scholar and translator. Previously unpublished writings from those who were present include the first abstract sculptor in America Ibram Lassaw, the poet Jackson Mac Low, as well as interviews with numerous individuals, revealing for the first time the unique ideas that forever changed American arts.
The book follows the musician and composer John Cage, Suzuki's most famed student at the Cornish School in Seattle where he first heard about Zen from Nancy Wilson Ross's prescient 1938 lecture "Zen Dada." Cornish is also where Cage befriended Mark Tobey and Morris Graves, Zen influenced painters of the Northwest school, and met the dancer and choreographer who became his lifelong collaborator and partner, Merce Cunningham. After his studies with Suzuki at Columbia University, Cage taught experimental composition at the New School for Social Research. His students included George Brecht, Dick Higgins, Allan Kaprow, Jackson Mac Low, Al Hansen, and Japanese composer Toshi Ichiyanagi. From Cage's ideas on chance, indeterminacy, silence and spontaneity sprouted the art movement Fluxus, the birth of "event scores" and "happenings." Participants from Fluxus and other groups mixed with the artistic ferment sprouting at the Judson Church in Washington Square, while parallel movements in post-war Japan were occurring with the Gutai, Hi Red Center, and Group Ongaku.
The Club, founded in 1948 on 8th Street in the West Village was an informal meeting place for abstract expressionists to debate theories of painting and sculpture. It was at The Club, a "who's who" of the downtown art world, that the Japanese artist Saburo Hasegawa, friends with sculptor Isamu Noguchi and painter Franz Kline, lectured on Zen. Both Hasegawa and Kline also published works in the Japanese magazine of contemporary calligraphy Bokujin-Kai (Human Ink Society).
Nothing and Everything re-creates the seminal 1957 meeting between Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky and D. T. Suzuki just hours before Kerouac's book release party for "On the Road." The visionary experiences of Ginsberg and his relationship to the nineteenth-century poet and artist William Blake is explored in light of the Beat artists' search for a "New Vision," as are Kerouac's forays in the San Francisco literary world, and his friendships with the Buddhist poets Gary Snyder and Philip Whalen. Also mentioned is the first Tibetan Buddhist lama who settled in the United States, Geshe Wangyal, who was brought over by the Tolstoy Foundation, and his meeting with the young Beat poet and co-founder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University, Anne Waldman.
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These Evolver Editions titles, and more, can be found at http://www.evolvereditions.com.