To everyone on social media,
If you care at all about your online security and your friends'...
Please, please stop clicking on those game-app-posts that promise to show your true personality traits or spirit animal or whatever if you just touch the month-gemstone-leaf etc....
Those are actually apps created by random third-party developers. When you click on them, you are giving them permission to access ALL the metadata from your account. That's all your photos, posts, likes, friends, contact info, and personal info. The apps require this permission to do whatever calculations they claim that they will do to give you the result they claim they will give you. That's the way they work, and it's not a bug. It's a feature and a normal function of the system.
In the good (very) old days, there were probably a few of these inventive new "games" that were legitimately for fun. But these days (for a long time now) almost all of these apps are actually just phishing for your data. They will scrape all the public and private and hidden data from your account because you not only gave them permission to do so, you basically requested it by clicking them to show you your whatever...
They will then use that huge chunk of data profiling you to target you with their ads in the best case scenario. More often than not they will also sell your data to unscrupulous third parties for inclusion in everyone else's spam marketing lists and phishing hit lists. In the worst case scenarios your data will end up in the darker places of the web and used to hack you, or set up fake accounts to phish and hack your friends or spread disinformation, etc., with your name and face...
This all happens quickly and quietly in the background while on the surface they simply confirm that you are indeed a Lion or a Raven. And they will always tell you that you are 10% Bitch and 997.5% Beautiful Badass. Always.
Well, I'm here to tell you straight up that YOU ARE 1,007.5% PURE BEAUTIFUL BADASS.
Now go and prove it to everyone by showing the confidence and self-awareness to not click on those scammy apps.
Stay safe and beautiful and bad, all in the ratio that fits you best--
Last night I went through what some people would call a direct psychic attack. Basically, some unfriendly external spiritual entity (ghost / demon / alien) jumped on me and forcibly tried to either enter my body, remove my spirit from my body, or both, I’m not really sure which... This assault happened to be during a dream state, but I experience these kinds of attacks at least once every several years and sometimes during a waking state...
The few times this has happened while I was awake and actually walking around have been, well, awkward. I get something like a nerve tingle followed by an intense feeling of being invaded, and I have to pause for a moment to marshal my inner forces to give some pushback. It’s always a little weird, and not always successful, in which case I have to deal with it again later in a dream state...
Which is usually completely nuts. When such entities try to push or pull me around while I am in a dream state, it instantly activates some very deep-seated (and personally shocking) preservation instinct and I react with this total tooth and nail fight for survival. It’s very “physical” and it’s extremely violent. And because it takes place in a space outside of normal waking reality, it plays out something like Neo vs Agent Smith in the Matrix sequels mixed with a little Spiderman vs Venom... It’s absolutely intense and all-encompassing.
Anyway, this is something I get to deal with every now and then, and while I am not entirely sure why such entities still want a piece of me, I do know how I learned to put up such an all-out vicious fight. That’s from the decades I had spent “partnered up” with a dark vampiric entity of my own subconscious inviting, which is a story for another day...
But back to last night, as soon as the new entity started pushing and pulling, I could feel myself instinctively start to switch into full-on berserker mode... but then something different happened. I went suddenly (and surprisingly) calm. I just relaxed back down into my body. and then started channeling reiki energy--
I’m a real-life reiki master, and I use it pretty much constantly in my daily life. So I guess this habit finally settled deeply enough into my subconscious that it sprang forth at this very helpful moment. Now, it didn’t explode out of me doing 3d8 radiant damage or blasting the foul fiend back to hell, or anything dramatic like that. That’s just not how reiki works. But it filled me with something like contentedness and immediately diffused the tension, and as the aggressive energy dissipated, the entity itself just sort of released me, and flew off or faded out... and I gently woke up shortly after, uninhabited by any extraneous spirit-beings.
The strange, unpleasant context aside, it was a happy surprise to find that I may have progressed beyond the need for that brutal instinctual fight & flight reflex. Not that it hadn’t mostly protected me for all those years, but it had its costs to my mental wellbeing and general sense of goodness and balance. And because it was rooted in uncontrolled fear, it clearly turned over control of my reactions to these external entities who could simply pounce and elicit an epic deathmatch battle at any time.
Now it seems I have turned the page on that to a more grounded and peaceful way of handling these situations, one that I have actually been working on for a while and grateful to have finally been able to so deeply embody--
And if this calm filling-up with grounded contentedness was able to dissipate such a full-frontal psychic attack, it may offer you a way to deal more pleasantly with the common everyday negative energy vibes people throw your way, without resorting to “toxic positivity” or mental shields that often get the job done but tend to be passive-aggressive and isolating in their own turn. Obviously, from my own story here, that’s easier said than done. But it could be a gentle goal to work towards--
If you’re interested in hearing more about experiences like this and discussing them more deeply, check out my live group Q&A sessions each month on Zoom
For most people, the idea of cohabiting with giant huntsman spiders sends shivers down their spine. But if you frequent this blog, you're probably aware of my acquired fondness for these eight-legged inhabitants of our home. Over time, they've become less like intruders and more like roommates, chasing down and managing pests in their own unique way. A harmony, if you will, has long been established.
But as it goes with nature, ecosystems are complex and constantly shifting. Enter the solitary spider-hunting wasps, an entirely new dimension to our indoor food web. These wasps, equipped with potent stingers (almost equal to the infamous Murder Hornet), have a singular mission: to incapacitate spiders and use them as hosts for their eggs. While they have zero interest in interacting with or harming us humans, they have a gruesome fate in store for our huntsman spiders --becoming a live buffet for their emerging wasp larvae.
This scenario places those like me, who have an inclination towards holistic living and a deep respect for all life, in a bit of a conundrum. How does one navigate the situation when a higher-order predator enters the scene? The wasps, after all, are merely following their instinctual programming. But, there's also our emotional and ecological investment in the resident spiders at play here.
One could argue that the introduction of a new predator might balance the ecosystem further. Perhaps the spider population was growing too large, and nature found its way to introduce a control. Or, it could simply be an incidental migration of these wasps into a new territory rich with prey.
Regardless, the dilemma remains: do we protect our beloved spiders or leave them to their natural fate?
For me, the answer is a gentle nudge. Recognizing that both species have their place in the grand tapestry of life, I opt for persuasion over force or inaction. Whenever I spot these wasps, I carefully usher them out one of our many windows. This protects our spider companions and encourages the wasps to go back to exploring hunting grounds beyond our walls.
Even so, I do think it's also important to understand that every individual's situation and comfort levels are different. Some might choose to allow nature to take its course entirely, while others may intervene more directly by outright killing the wasps (and probably the spiders too, actually). It's a personal choice, grounded in the unique relationship each person shares with the world around them. And I’m not going to be too judgey about this...
It’s just a reflection of the intricate dance of predator and prey, of life and death, of balance and change. And for holistic nature lovers, our role often shifts between observer, guardian, and participant. It's a beautiful and sometimes challenging dance. But always, it's a reminder of the interconnectedness of all living beings and the delicate threads that bind us together.
...and even as I wrap this up, I notice a mantis standing there on the windowsill looking expectantly outside as if to say, I forgot how I got in here, but would you mind letting me back out there-- and so I will.
It is possible to adapt our fears so that they serve us rather than dominate us.
Today on the drive to one of the schools where I teach English, I rolled down my window to enjoy the fresh mountain air. Unfortunately, I also startled a giant huntsman spider (literally the size of the palm of my hand) who proceeded to scurry from the window column just behind me and scamper back and forth across the inside of the front windshield looking for a way out of his predicament...
Luckily for both of us I've spent the last several years building up an immunity to giant huntsman spiders, so I was able to calmly find a wide turnout on this narrow, winding mountain road and stop safely. He was totally flipping out, looking desperately for a place to hide and finding none on the wide expanse of the front glass. Fortunately I was able to reach across the car to open the passenger door just as he started to drop down, and he jumped right out.
Unfortunately, because I had stopped on the opposite side of the road, this put him right on the edge of the roadway, and because I prefer not to drop off passengers directly into danger, I got out to find a way to coax him into the bushes on the shoulder rather than crossing the street and getting run over... Well, he wasn't willing to climb onto my boot (understandably I suppose) for a walkover, so I looked around and found some random bamboo branch to scoop/chase him in the right direction. In the end, my stowaway and I were both saved from high-impact deaths and I happily arrived just in time for my first class.
If you detect a whiff of affection for my unwitting passenger, you wouldn't be wrong. I do actually admire and respect these gentle but impressive giant spiders that share my environment and home. But it definitely wasn't always the case. In fact, I used to be terrified of all spiders as a child and young adult, and killed them on sight, without mercy and no questions asked.
So what changed? How did I trade such a common spider phobia for my current calmness in the face of giant arachnids? Well, there were certainly stages to the process...
First of all, there was an odd but practical decision to be made. I went through a pretty serious goth phase during which I thought authentic spiderwebs made for excellent room decor. And of course, having authentic spiderwebs decorating ones house means that there must be some real live spiders dwelling there at least part-time. So I made an uneasy alliance with the smaller spiders that as long as they stayed (and decorated) in the corners, they could live. If they ventured out into the living spaces I frequented, they would be killed immediately. I also began carefully researching which spiders might actually be safe so that I could sort out the truly dangerous ones and continue killing them with extreme prejudice.
Along the way, through research and simple observation I learned some things about their lives and habits and the fact that, like my predatory pet cat with mice, they kept the local fly population down. Slowly, I began to get used to them and got lazy about enforcing my territorial death sentencing. Around this time I also became a vegetarian and eventually began thinking that if I was changing my diet to avoid killing cows, I should also probably start applying that same logic to the smaller creatures in my environment...
By this time I was moving out of the cobwebby-style goth and into more glamorous goth stages and instead of killing the spiders whose spinning services I no longer required, I was catching them in a glass and relocating them outside where they could continue to keep the local environment pest-free and I could feel good about not murdering them unnecessarily. This kind of constant close contact with them helped retrain my physical aversion to them so that I could calmly scoop them up without any fear or loathing. I had befriended the spider.
This process came in very handy when I ended up moving to Japan where lives the giant huntsman spider. These spiders are confrontingly huge and shockingly fast. And they are everywhere. They don't spin webs but just hide out in corners and then suddenly run across the floor or wall or ceiling... I was certainly intimidated. But I had already researched what creatures are dangerous in Japan and these monsters are definitely not on that list. So I knew I just had to reapply my previous training on a larger scale...
Through research and observation I found that they are actually pretty much blind and they run after things that vibrate the floor like bugs, or my feet. So yes, they do sometimes run at my feet aggressively but as soon as they notice that I also happen to carry a big shadow they instantly retreat with equal speed from whence they came. And if I try to move them off with a broom, they rear up and try to look like big baddies at first, but on the second try they give up, flop over, and pretend to be dead, just big and dead. Oh, and they eat cockroaches, which are also big and everywhere here...
So by the time I moved out here to the mountains of Japan, where relocating each individual spider would be a hugely pointless waste of time, I had made my peace with the giant huntsman spider. Now we coexist in a kind of partnership with them eating the more unpleasant pests of the humid summers and me providing them with plenty of corners to hide in during the cold winters...
So what is the point here? Well, first perhaps something about how a reasonable concern about something as dangerous as black widow spiders needn't prompt us to also kill cute little helpful jumping spiders on sight. And how that can be logically extrapolated up to more intimidating but equally harmless creatures as well (including, umm, the infinite variety of humans).
Second, fear itself. Fear can certainly help keep us safe, but it can also harm us. My old fear of spiders could have just killed me on the road if I hadn't already dealt with it. Yes, that's a rare case of serendipity, but fear can easily push us into poor choices in the mundane situations of daily life, and it can limit us in some of the life-changing opportunities that do sometimes come up.
And finally, adaptation. I adapted to living with spiders (and a lot of other creatures actually) through the practical realities, then research and observation, and then familiarity. It is possible to adapt our fears so that they serve us rather than dominate us. Each fear and each person will have a different process, and some will probably benefit from including therapy of some kind... But if you have some fears that are limiting your life, consider processing them too. It can be so freeing--