The Rhythm of the World
by Jake Block
There is a natural rhythm to life and a beat that drives the earth and all of its inhabitants forever forward. You can hear it in the dark silence of caverns far beneath the surface of the earth, where the only sounds are the gentle flutterings of bats’ wings and the throbbing of your own heart. Is it in the winds as they howl as well? Is it in the patter of rain on a tin roof, or the gentle gurgling of a mountain stream, or the crash of waves upon the sand? Yes, it is in all of these places and none of these places, dependent upon the the ability of the listener to hear and to perceive.
In actuality there are many rhythms, and each individual finds the cadence that suits his life and follows that beat all of his days. It is the beat of the drum that forces the rigid lock-step of the militarist… or the frenzied rhythms that haunt the minds of souls gone mad… of the gentle beat that stirs the soul of the romantic, Most are stirred by a set of particular rhythms that bring them back into synch with the rest of society, harmonious and interactive, like a gently weaving melody in the Wagnerian epics. Occasionally, there is a discordant; not necessarily “wrong,” just out of step cadence with the grand rhythm. It’s a distraction, when noticed, like the ragtime of Scott Joplin when intertwined with the harmonics of Rachmaninoff.
Those who gravitate toward the world of alternative religion are quite often discordant notes in society’s melody. One of the main comments and complaints that I receive from those in the “occult world” seeking my advice is that they feel so “out of touch” with the rest of the world, and that people just don’t seem to understand them. I tell them, “You feel that way because you ARE different and people DON’T understand you.”
Those of us who find ourselves outside of the mainstream of society are a different breed than those who plug away from 9 to 5 in search of the ever elusive “American Dream.” We are, for the most part, free thinkers, which is in direct opposition to the herd mentality that is all pervasive n the world today. We often bristle when we hear “Thou shalt not,” and prefer to make our own rules as we go along, based on what we feel is good for us and for those within our relatively close circle of friends. We tend to be, although this is a relative statement, more lenient in our attitudes toward societal norms and deviation from the norm by those we see as being “different,” like ourselves. We become a major counterpoint fo the rhythm of society, unable to integrate in to the whole of the score, yet impossible to ignore.
In the workaday world of those who make up the greater part of any society, there is a tendency to the norm. By this, I mean that if twenty-five people are standing on a corner and the “don’t walk” sign is flashing, most will stand there, even though there is no traffic or obstruction to prevent them from crossing the street. While some individuals may cluck and sigh, muttering that they have better things to do than wait for some damned traffic light, the individualist or free thinker will look at the situation, recognize the negative risk, and cross the street. Others may follow his lead, but the majority will be content to stand and wait for the signal, to move as a herd.
The sight of someone who is out of step is unnerving to society as a whole and they are likely to be met with derision and, in some cases, open scorn. This is often the case with those of us in American society who reject the Judeo-Christian philosophy and openly espouse a different path to personal fulfillment. We quite literally can become alone in a crowd and ostracized by those with whom we once enjoyed an association and friendship. Through this ostracism, the outcast’s friends and associates are once again absorbed into the societal whole and their commitment to their personal ethic and ethos, resulting in a strengthening of the society’s aggregate belief system. The rhythm of the world is intact and all is right with the world.
But still we exist, discordant as hell (in the consciousness of society as a whole), real as can be, but unfathomable to those locked into the rhythm of the world. Given that we are unassimilable, and given that we provide a counterpoint to the beat that drives their world, we become a power that must be driven out or buried.
Thanks to the prejudicial and quite often inaccurate press that the “occult world” and “alternative religious choice” has received over the years, society as a whole tends to see the world of alternative religious choice as a spider’s web of iniquity, laying in wait for its sons and daughters. While not one shred of tangible proof has ever come forth, thousands upon thousands still believe that Satanists are stealing thousands of children and using them in rituals, and that witches are hair-warted crones who stir cauldrons full of noxious potions and are bent upon world domination under Satan. As rational human beings who have (or should have) studied such phenomena, you and i know that this is hogwash, but for those who’ve learned of life under the omnipresent “Big Brother” of television, it’s slickly packaged and commercialized gospel.
We, of course, know what the world of alternative religious choice actually is… and what it has become for society. It is the boogeyman of the media. It is the last-gasp justification for fundamentalist charlatans who fleece their flocks to pay for their own iniquities and extravagances in the name of God. And it is an equally unsavory cannibalization of our own at the hands of those who would bilk those who believe. We’ve seen what the unscrupulous can do, and we’ve seen the “New Age” fall into disrepute at the hands of a few whose modern day “gypsy-cons” have tainted the world’s opinion.
But still we believe as we believe, and in refusing to swallow the party line hook, line and sinker, we are forced to move away from the herd and into a world of our own creation. Quite often, it is a solitary world of loneliness, study and introspection, punctuated with moments of euphoric revelation.
Decades ago, Alice Cooper put out an album entitled Alice Cooper Goes To Hell, dealing with his alcohol dependency and successful detoxification. One song, Nurse Rozetta, contains the line, “I got no friends and I got no home. They want us holy men to live alone.” It’s quite appropriate for those of us who have chosen this path.
We march to the beat of a different drummer, and despite the protestations of those who see our world as a threat to their serenity, we can no more change our natural rhythms than we can change the natural order of the universe. We are driven, just as they, to an irresistible rhythm that is, for us, natural. Quite often, our rhythm puts us at odds with friends and family and we can become outcasts even amongst those we claimed to be our own. C’est la vie. For everything lost, something is gained in knowledge, wisdom, and in personal freedom. The rhythm gives as well as takes.
Musically, the world has been driven by free thinkers and dreamers who can point the way with their lyric and score. They speak of love and joy and freedom, and they speak of a better world to come. My mind sometimes drifts back to a song by ABBA (OK… so it’s disco…) that puts things into perspective quite nicely.
“Like a roller in the ocean
life is motion;
Like the wind that’s always blowing
Life is flowing;
The world and the universe are in a constant state of flux and motion. There’s a new day dawning, and I think that you and I will play a significant part in it. We have seen the changes that can be wrought in but a few short years when those who desire personal freedom and vow to shake off the chains that have enslaved them. And in the end, it is not the lock-stepped militarist that brings the world of freedom, but the free thinker and the radical who marches o that “different beat.” And the beat goes on… and on… and on…