Stepping out of the taxi, you are enveloped by that classic London smell. A curry of traffic exhaust fumes, soil, trash, tobacco, rubber and battery acid. The acute busy-ness of the city moves around you as if you were an obstacle to get by. People of every shape and size and color coalesce in this cosmopolitan city. Everyone is speaking English again, but with an accent. Of course, I have to remind myself that here, I am the one with an accent. The sporadic squeal of brakes is its own symphony as the red, double decker buses and black cabs come to curbside, seeking out passengers.
There is nothing boring about London. You can never get bored here. From its cosmopolitan social scene to popular landmarks to historical tours to social events to world-class museums to galleries to theatre shows to sporting events to giant food markets, London is nothing short of diverting. London is intense, vibrant, fast paced and busy. Everyone is in a perpetual rush somewhere.
People carve out their lives here by finding their part of the city and securing a personal routine. The people they know, the tube route they take, the place they work at, the flat they sleep in, the market they shop at, the pub they drink at, the café they get their coffee at, the park bench they sit on etc. On top of this, every city has its “zones”. But London takes this to a whole new level. Each zone of London (and the neighborhoods that belong to them, such as Soho and Notting Hill and Shoreditch and The Square Mile etc.) is like a different village; the collection of which adds up to one large metropolitan city. And people definitely select and identify with their specific zone and their specific neighborhood.
To walk in London is to have one foot in and one foot out of history. The thought form of this city’s rich and very dark history is still so active, it is not actually in the past. Instead, modern life is simply happening like an overlay on top of everything that was. It is a very hard place to be for an extrasensory. For an extrasensory, London is the city of horror. The wailing from the workhouses can still be heard. Gruesome executions can still be seen on a loop on many of the city bridges and in Kennington Common, close to the oval tube station and Lincoln’s Inn fields and Smithfield and Tyburn and Charing Cross and Fetter Lane and Old Bailey Road and Old Palace Yard and on Tower Hill and so many more. The imprints of so many tragedies like the Plague and various battles and the train crash that happened at Harrow and Wealdstone station and the fire that occurred just south of the London Bridge and several World War explosion sites are permanently imprinted into the places where they occurred. So many human remains, many of which date back to the roman empire, populate the grounds beneath London. They excite archaeologists and pose issues for developers. The ebb and flow of the different populations that laid claim to this place and that buried their dead (so many dead) in the soil here, just under the modern pavement you walk on today, means that the city is literally built over the top of bones.
London is the city of ghosts. It is haunted AF. So many thousands of years of killings and deaths happening in bad ways… Ways that leave a residual thought form that is very much not at rest. And these thought forms do not dissipate like they should over time. Instead, they are as manifested today as they were at the time of their death. It is as if some other source of energy, such as dark earth from the roman times or clay soils that retain more water (and therefore more memory) is keeping them charged and active. The city’s history, combined with its steam age buildings, ghostly alleyways, still backyard gardens, gloomy weather and ravens picking at things in the dirty streets, gives the fabric of London a definitively spooky vibe.
The dominant negative vibration of London is: Pretense. Pretense is a huge issue for the English in general. Pretense is an attempt to make something that is not the case appear true or an attempt to make something that is the case appear untrue. Some examples of pretense are: Pretending to be friends with someone that in reality, you don’t like. Denying that you are upset and saying that everything is fine. Claiming to be an expert in something that you are not. Deliberately leading others to believe your marriage is good, when in fact, your husband or wife is cheating on you and you know it. Or dressing and speaking and acting as if you are a member of the royal court, when in reality, you are a waiter in a restaurant. The people here really struggle with being honest with themselves and honest with others. Pretense is a way of behaving that is intended to deceive others. A person only slips into pretense when they believe that what is true is not acceptable or will prevent them from getting something they want or will lead to some consequence that they think they can’t handle. The process of socialization in childhood is particularly extreme here. The kind of strictness around what is acceptable and proper and what is unacceptable and improper is so intense that as adults, the English are absolutely governed by their shame.
This shadow of pretense can lead the people here to behave in a pretentious way. Many people conduct themselves with a borderline snobby assumption of dignity and self-importance. There is an intense jockeying for status in London. Culture in England is hierarchical. It is hardly possible to enter a room without entering into an automatic struggle regarding social position and rank.
The shame that makes the English slip into pretense also makes it a challenge to reflect things to them. The English desperately need the medicine of honesty and truth, even if it is improper and even if it is embarrassing and even if it hurts. At some level, they sense that they need it and that it can bring relief. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have such a huge fan base here. But it is not particularly easy to do what I do here. In fact, the first time that I ever came to London and did my first breakdown of London and of English shadows for the people here, it was not received well. Many people could not understand how me doing that was FOR the people of England instead of against them. It was taken by many as an insult. They started to fight against not only my energy diagnosis, but also the idea of doing an energy diagnosis all together. In their mind, the proper thing to do when visiting someone else’s country is to say nothing but good things and be positive about them, even if one has to lie and omit.
To generalize, when I try to make the people here aware of a truth that is painful, embarrassing, shameful or improper, they immediately turn against it and try to fight that it isn’t the case. And thus, I have to work through miles of resistance before being able to deal with and provide solutions for what is real. Here, what is real is not ok and therefore, it can’t be acknowledged.
The amount of tightness that is built up in the internal system and within a society itself when a person/society spends so much of their time denying what is real and pretending and posturing is unsustainable. It makes social interaction as draining and stressful and therefore unwanted as it is wanted. But it brings people to the breaking point. As a result, in direct defiance of the strict, conservative rules that organize life here, you also see the emergence of a huge counterculture in London. And being here, you start to understand it. When you come to England from somewhere else, and find yourself immersed in the cultural suppression, it is common to become afflicted with a feeling that I like to jokingly call “impulse turrets syndrome”. For example, randomly, while sitting in a calm restaurant, you might get the impulse to topple a table over. Or you may feel the sudden impulse to start screaming. Or you might feel the impulse to just walk over and make out with someone. Essentially, the pressure against all the ‘improper things’ within you, makes them and any impulses associated with them suddenly arise.
The dominant positive vibration of London is: World Pulse. Humanity is spread out around the world. When people collect in different places around the world, different cultures arise and these different cultures create their own realities. Visiting them feels like you are stepping into a distinct other world. Each possesses their own distinct ‘flavor’. When you travel to visit these other human worlds, you immerse yourself in them and suddenly, the other cultural worlds you have been to before feel like a memory. Or perhaps a totally different life. Most societies feel like a bubble that is cut off from the rest of human society and from the rest of the world. London is the exact opposite.
Close your eyes and imagine that there are Ley lines that connect all of human society around the world. Now picture that the many different cultures (that together add up to humanity) had found a place to settle along these Ley lines. Now imagine London at the center of these Ley lines of humanity. It is connected to every human society. Being in London, you can feel the entire world. And not because it is so diverse. There are cities in the world that are more diverse. It is because it is like a center point for the web of humanity. Anything that happens in London, pulses out to the rest of humanity, especially information. And anything that happens in any other part of the world is felt in London. Walking in this city, you can feel every other part of the human world. Off in the distance, you can feel all the people in the other places like Dubai and New York and Mexico City and Sydney and Sao Palo and Istanbul and Tokyo and Shanghai and Lagos etc. You feel always connected to the rest of the world here. You have your finger on the pulse of the entire world. If you are a person who likes to ‘keep up with human society’, there is no better city in the world. I actually find it surprising that the city of London has been able to maintain such a thick cultural flavor of its own given that it is so connected to every other culture in the world.
Coming back to London this time, I am in shock. London is famous for its gardens and parks. A lush, bellicose green made possible only in places like this that are so often held under a blanket of cloud cover and consistent precipitation. Instead of that familiar lush green, right now the grass is the same tawny color that you see when the grass is dried out in the American deserts. The vibrancy has been sucked from the waxy green rose bush leaves and they are wilted. For the first time ever in England, when I went for a walk in the park, each step I took kicked up dry dust. It was surreal and unsettling. London is caught in a sweltering heat wave that has been breaking records and that the vegetation in England is not accustomed to.
But so much of London is ever the same. Of all the things about London, its famous street markets are my favorite thing. Today, I let myself get lost in the twists and turns of Borough Market; a quirky food market quivering with energy and life. There has been a market on that site dating all the way past the 12th century. Today, it is a crowded, bustling collection of stalls, each selling a specific gastronomic delight. This one sells vinegars, that one sells preserves, this one sells aged cheese, that one sells Turkish delights this one sells breads that one sells fresh seafood. Gourmet street foods from all over the world are prepared right in front of you, in enormous cast iron skillets and woks. Each item has a story to tell and the vendors are eager to tell it. It is a celebration of food and a showcase of gastronomic excellence. You can go to Borough Market and taste the whole world. And eating there connects you to the places that the food comes from and to the people who made it. The smells of Borough Market assault your senses. A fetid waft of oyster hits you and then a waft of spice and oil from falafel frying and then a waft of slightly skunky, earthy hops from beer being brewed and then a waft of putrid rot from garbage and then a waft of custard that is warm and gentle and sweet. But at a market, you want your senses to be assaulted. You want them to be insulted and delighted. You want the possibilities to overwhelm you. You want to try everything, so as to find those treasures that you will be talking about to all of your friends.
There is a place in Borough Market where people take their street food to just sit and eat; on a section of light, wooden stadium style stairs. The pigeons perch on the metal beams overhead there and land to wander through the people, searching for morsels that find their way to the ground. I sat there for a time, listening to the lullaby of their cooing and sharing a ‘build your own cobbler’ with the friends I visited the market with. I watched the people on every side of me in their complete contentment, each eating their chosen delight. Each having nowhere else they would rather be. Ironically, the difference that is inherent in cultural foods erases the differences between people. No matter where people come from, everyone can agree upon good food and everyone can lay aside their quarrels to appreciate it together. The Borough Market is a venue of absolute living beneath the blackened brick of the railway viaducts and iconic art deco meets industrial style architecture.
Properly overstimulated, I am now sitting in the little backyard garden of the place I rented here, with ivy climbing the garden walls on all sides of me, sipping from a cup of chamomile tea. Aside from the fact that the garden bench that I am sitting on is dry, it is a decidedly English moment. And I have arrived.
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