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Capitalism, Neurotypicality, and the War on Consciousness

“Within myself I know I am Different” — Cora Anderson

My magic, my poetry, my politics, and my medicine all arise from my experience of the world as alive — and that experience is a product of my divergent neurobiology. 

My senses take in torrents of information that sometimes overwhelm my capacity to process them, making me miss things that would seem obvious to most, but at other times (and sometimes simultaneously) make me aware of subtle presences in the world that elude others’ attention.  My brain process processes information in non-linear ways that make it easy for me to perceive patterns and connections in the world but difficult to complete a step-by-step process like paying the electrical bill.  I have a complex relationship with language — sometimes loquacious and poetic, other times completely non-verbal.   When I speak in metaphor, people tend to take me literally, and when I speak literally people often assume that I am speaking metaphorically, because my baseline assumptions about the world differ from those of the vast majority of people around me, and they always have.

In Ireland at the height of British occupation, these traits might have branded me a changeling, dangerous for ways my existence suggested something old and strange, associated with the mythic predecessors of my people who also fought against invaders from over the sea.   In the terms set out by contemporary neuropsychology, I am defined as Autistic, an identity I simultaneously embrace, as it links me with a community celebrating and sharing its experiences and struggles, and struggle with, because it emerges from a discourse that pathologizes my existence.

For much of my life, lacking a context for understanding who I was, I struggled to conform to the patterns of behavior I saw in the culture around me, and to translate my thoughts and my language into terms that conformed more to dominant discourses — be they academic or colloquial (though often I failed to register the proper register and found that my tendency to weave theoretical concepts and academic language into conversation made me socially awkward, and my inability to believe in or practice objectivity and to keep poetry out of my prose made me a poor academic.)  Now that I am embracing my Autistic nature, I am discovering that, in many ways, it has made me a born rebel against capitalism and monotheism.


“The only war that matters is the war against the imagination.” — Diane DiPrima

The colonization of land is made easier and more efficient by the colonization of minds.

The outlawing of language and religious and ceremonial practices and the indoctrination of children in the language and religion of the occupying powers was a fundamental feature of British capitalism’s colonial expansion into my ancestral homeland of the Irish Gaeltacht and my current home on unceded and still occupied WSANEC territory.   The schools my kidnapped Irish ancestors were forced to attend were the model for the schools kidnapped Indigenous children in British Columbia were forced to attend until the 1990’s.  (And the shut down of the residential schools didn’t mean an end to the institutionalized indoctrination of Indigenous children, they were simply replaced by foster homes and juvenile detention centers.)

This was an attempt to eradicate ways of thinking that prevent people from participating in the brutalization of each other and of the living world.   Terrence McKenna said

The real secret of magic is that the world is made of words, and that if you know the words that the world is made of you can make of it whatever you wish.

It follows that the remaking of the world requires a remaking of language — something the colonizers understood.   Capitalism depends on commodification, the process of turning parts of the world into objects which can be traded in the marketplace.   But you can’t commodify a forest or a mountain if people call it by a name which recognizes it as alive.  Patriarchy depends on the enforcement of gender roles.  But you can’t enforce patriarchal gender roles within a culture that has no words that denote gender, such as the Tlingit, unless you rob people of their language.

So the process of colonization requires either a process of forced conversion and inculturation — the liberal alternative — or a process of eradication.   In both Ireland and North America, British capitalism, engaged in both.   But forced inculturation was more cost efficient than mass slaughter and also left the colonizers with a labor force to extract value from stolen land.

Now, as a white Autistic person with strong language skills and usually passable social skills who has successfully evaded any institutions more brutal than public schools and an Ivy League college (I am not counting brief stints in county jails for civil disobedience), nothing I have experienced is remotely close to the devastating violence visited on Indigenous people.   But, there are parallels.  Autistic people are taught to modify our language and behavior to conform to cultural expectations.  Those of us who can’t are frequently institutionalized.   White upper and middle class Autistic people are medicated and pathologized.    Poor Autistic people and Autistic People of Color are locked up and brutalized and criminalized — a process which begins with modified jail cells in schools for “unruly,” overwhelmingly Black and Brown, children.   And there are also neo-eugenic moves to eradicate us — from efforts to identify and eliminate the reasons for our existence in the hope that no more Autistic people will be born; to the leader of the world’s most well known “Autism Awareness” organization/ anti-Autistic hate group, Autism Speaks, talking on camera, in a film the group produced, about fantasies of killing her Autistic daughter (who is seen in the background, clearly within earshot, as her mother speaks); to the actual murder of Autistic children and adults by parents and police.


“Culture is not your friend.” — Terrence McKenna

What’s so threatening about Autism?

In its commodification of all things, capitalism views bodies and minds as instruments of production and reproduction, and values them accordingly.

Psychology, psychiatry, and neurology, like all forms of medicine under capitalism,  serve primarily to maximize worker productivity.  They give rise to pathologizing discourses of “neurotypicality,” which Autistic scholar Nick Walker succinctly summarizes:

The pathology paradigm ultimately boils down to just two fundamental assumptions:

  1. There is one “right,” “normal,” or “healthy” way for human brains and human minds to be configured and to function (or one relatively narrow “normal” range into which the configuration and functioning of human brains and minds ought to fall).
  2. If your neurological configuration and functioning (and, as a result, your ways of thinking and behaving) diverge substantially from the dominant standard of  “normal,” then there is Something Wrong With You.

It is these two assumptions that define the pathology paradigm. Different groups and individuals build upon these assumptions in very different ways, with varying degrees of rationality, absurdity, fearfulness, or compassion – but as long as they share those two basic assumptions, they’re still operating within the pathology paradigm (just as ancient Mayan astronomers and 13th Century Islamic astronomers had vastly different conceptions of the cosmos, yet both operated within the geocentric paradigm).

The psychiatric establishment that classifies Autism as a “disorder”; the “Autism charity” that calls Autism a “global health crisis”; Autism researchers who keep coming up with new theories of “causation”; scientifically illiterate wing nuts who believe that Autism is some form of “poisoning”; anyone who speaks of Autism using medicalized language like “symptom,” “treatment,” or “epidemic”; the mother who thinks that the best way to help her Autistic child is to subject him to Behaviorist “interventions” intended to train him to act like a “normal” child; the “inspiring” Autistic celebrity who advises other Autistics that the secret to success is to try harder to conform to the social demands of non-Autistics… all of these groups and individuals are operating within the pathology paradigm, regardless of their intentions or how much they might disagree with one another on various points.

Like any oppressive discourse, discourses of neurotypicality hurt everyone.  They constrain the words and thoughts and behavior of Autistic and non-Autistic people.   My friend jim mcdonald recently suggested that we should replace the word “neurotypical” with the word “neurodomesticated,” which conveys the reality that discourses of neurotypicality are really all about enforcing compliance with social and cultural norms.

But Autistic people are especially hurt by these pathologizing discourses, and their accompanying hierarchy of functionality, which seeks to identify and define us in terms of our ability to operate within capitalist culture.

Those of us who are able to at least partially pass as neurotypical for the duration of the average work day are defined as “high functioning” Autistics, and are tolerated as useful eccentrics, especially if we are willing to focus our brain’s unusual capacities in ways that generate wealth for others.  The computer industry, for example, celebrates and exploits a certain kind of Autistic mind because its capacity for pattern recognition and systems thinking makes it useful in the realm of programming, and people in love with numbers can write code into the wee hours of the morning without taking a break if they are given the right working conditions.  (Not all of us are in love with numbers, the gifts and fascinations of Autistics are as varied and numerous as we are.  Mine lie in the realms of plant medicine and political and social analysis, and I have been fortunate enough to find a college which will pay me to speak endlessly about my obsessions to students.)

Such passing takes its toll.   Chronic stress and trauma associated with being Autistic in a neurotypical world contribute to the high rates of anxiety, depression, and autoimmune conditions among Autistic people.   The internalization of pathologizing discourses and the hypervigilance associated with trying to maintain a performance of neurotypicality exacerbate these problemss.

People who are more visibly Autistic — less able to hide the repetitive behaviors most of us engage in to ground ourselves in a world that is always changing around us, and the “stimming” behaviors that we use to create stimulation strong enough to override sensory overwhelm — are defined as “low functioning.”  But they too may prove useful if they can be given work to perform out of public view.

At the bottom of the ladder are Autistics who don’t speak, commonly labeled “severely Autistic.”  A person operating outside the realm of spoken language is hard to bring into compliance with standards of thoughts and behavior.  Recently, assistive technologies have allowed some non-speaking Autistics to type, often writing with a clarity and power that give lie to the assumption that they possess no human consciousness (the lie perpetrated by the founder of the abusive methodology most commonly used to instill compliance in Autistic people.)

And then, there are those of us who are tired of functioning and refuse to comply, and we threaten the whole game . . .


“Loyalty to their kind/ they cannot tolerate our minds/ and loyalty to our kind/ we cannot tolerate their obstruction.”  — Jefferson Airplane

Many of us whose ways of thinking and processing diverge from the narrow confines sanctioned as normal by discourses of neurotypicality have begun celebrating and embracing our difference.  I see neurodiversity — the wide and wondrous neurological and cognitive variation among humans (and other sentient beings) — to play the same role in the realm of consciousness that biodiversity plays in ecological communities.  Cultures that foster neurodiversity are healthy and resilient, like biodiverse ecosystems.   Cultures that enforce neurotypicality are brittle and susceptible to sudden collapse, like the monocultures created by industrial agriculture.  I am proud to be a stubborn weed in the wheat field of capitalist culture.

Ibby Grace, Nick Walker, Michael Scott Monje Jr., and Melanie Yergeau have coined the term “NeuroQueer” to describe people who, inspired by the work of Queer communities and the Queer Theory that arose from those communities, actively resist, subvert, and defy the expectations the dominant culture places on the behavior, thoughts, expressions, and appearance of Autistics and other neurodivergent people.    By carving out spaces for ourselves and each other, NeuroQueer people begin to break the stranglehold a culture of enforced neurotypicality has on everyone’s consciousness, creating the possibility for new expressions an new experiences.

The ways of thinking that emerge from unbound Autsitic minds tend to be subversive.  In an interview about Autism and Akido, Nick Walker says:

[. . . ] many people seem to wrongly equate systems-oriented thinking with a rigid, mechanistic attachment to superficial order. But the two are not at all the same. In fact, the sort of systems-oriented thinking at which many Autistics particularly excel is in some ways incompatible with the rigid mindset that is addicted to the imposition of artificial and static forms of order.

Autistic systems-oriented thinking, developed to its fullest potentials, means insight into the rich depths of underlying patterns and structures, the beauty of the deeper levels of natural order beneath surface realities, the beauty of the Tao.

It’s not fussy anal-retentiveness, it’s a deep and joyful mysticism, a meeting of the intellectual and the spiritual.

This spells trouble for capitalism, which needs to keep bodies and minds compliant in order to maintain production, and needs to maintain


“Witches were the first ones to walk into the darkness outside the edge of the campfire.  They made weapons.”  — Victor Anderson

What does this have to do with magic?

The changeling is the mythic archetype that most closely represents the experience of the feared, despised, and misunderstood Autistic child, the witch at the edge of the woods represents what that child can grow into — a strange and powerful being living outside social norms who is the defender of the wild and the source of otherworldly healing and power.    As my friend and fellow Autistic herbalist, Kiva Rose writes:

My desire to be an herbalist bloomed from the oldest of stories, those where a witch lives at the edge of a deep, dark wood. She may be beautiful or she may be ugly, she may speak with a siren’s voice or cackle deep in her wrinkled throat. It doesn’t matter, it only matters that the forest holds her to itself like a beloved child and that she speaks the names of the plants and animals as if they were her confidantes and lovers, sisters and elders.

The people from the village fear her. The townsfolk cross themselves when she walks past them on her to way to treat an ailing grandmother. They question her humanity and her religion, but still they creep to her door deep in the night to ask for a cure for their baby’s croup or a wound that won’t heal. She may serve the community, but no one would mistake her as one of them. This healer archetype speaks of otherness in a primal, and sometimes frightening way. We see pieces of it in the story of almost every witch to appear in European and North American fairy tales, from the hag-like visage of Baba Yaga to the beguiling beauty of the queen in Snow White. So often the antagonists of our moral tales, these powerful women refuse to fit into society’s molds of what is good, safe, and proper. They stand, frequently alone, at the periphery of community and consciousness. Wrapped in a shadowy cloak, they embody the fierceness, hungers, and otherness that incites both interest and fear. It is the habit of human social groups to demonize what is outside of them, and thus it is of great importance for there to be interface between what is inside, familiar, and comfortable with that which is outside, unfamiliar, and potentially frightening. We need the witch in the forest for her healing is raw and close to the source of the First Forest, the archetypal darkness from which humanity was birthed.

There is still a place in the story for the other, for the witch and the wildwood. Without these elements the story of healing in our cultures would lose both power and depth. We need those who live within the communities and heal through familiarity and kindness, and we need those who keep to themselves and bring something less known to the table. Above all, the earth needs diversity, and we all have a role to play as the story of life unfolds along the brambly, winding path.

The witch at the edge of the woods is magnificently NeuroQueer.   Hir strange manner and hir defiance of social norms are part of hir power.  So is hir relationship with the plant, animal, and spirit realms — the kind of relationships that many of us NeuroQueer people excel at creating, since a lifetime of trying to translate our sense of the world into a language shaped by a culture  that assumes realities we don’t experience or participate in gives us practice in bridging the communication gap with beings whose consciousness is radically different from our own.

Historically, the  witches at the edge of the woods were early capitalism’s worst nightmare.  Church and state collaborated to eliminate them through torture and execution in order to cut off sources of forbidden knowledge — especially the knowledge that plants and animals and rivers and stones were alive and speaking to us.   The knowledge that the world was alive was the largest obstacle to separating people from the land and employing people to exploit the earth’s “resources.”   Even after most of our forebears were killed or driven into hiding, the witches at the edge of the woods haunted the culture as the villains in fairy tales and folklore.

Now, at late capitalism’s twilight, witches are reappearing at the edge of the woods.  Our homes and our cars are filled with animal bones and jars of strange botanical brews.  Sometimes we speak in poetry, sometimes we mumble incantations, sometimes we sing old ballads in uncanny tones, sometimes there are no words at all.  We know our history and have learned its lessons.  Our bodies and our minds cannot be domesticated or colonized.  This time we will not be burned.  This time our queer power will break the spell that created the illusion that the world was dead.    We have returned to bring back our forests.  We have returned to re-enchant the world.

Sean Donahue

instagramcapture_edc36932-d0dc-4eff-b259-7381fd88c18bSean Donahue is a highly neurodivergent wild forest creature who defies the seelie/unseelie binary. He lives on traditional Klickitat territory in Trout Lake, WA and has an herbal practice in Portland and Beaverton, OR. He is an initiated priest of the BlackHeart line of the Feri Tradition of witchcraft, and carrier of the Green Wand.


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    • Thank you! I would love to hear more of your thoughts when you have the time and inclination. I will be editing and expanding this in the coming months.


  1. I love this piece. I identify as an HSP, which is not classified as a disorder by the WHO (yet). So I’m basically privileged enough, although I couldn’t continue on my academic path, because I wouldn’t conform to structural norms and ways of thinking within the teacher’s training. I’m still working in education, but took a different branch, one where my empathy and understanding are more appreciated. My best friend/heart sister is autistic, so is her oldest son. Although our brains are different I can find a lot of similarities between HSP and autists (and also people that are diagnosed with ADD, frequently a co-diagnosis with autism). One of the cruellest assumption about people who are labeled “autistic” is that they lack empathy. This couldn’t be further from the truth which is that they are capable of an empathy which is extraordinary. Also when they learn to express their inner beauty, there is no stopping them and they translate it into the world. We don’t empathize with ways of thinking that originate from violence and oppression, but why should we? Not accepting hierarchical structures that make absolutely no sense and only serve the purpose of feeding a status quo doesn’t help the world. Thanks for making me aware of the term “NeuroQueer”, it seems very fitting. Being a witch in training (the trees and insects being my teachers) this text really encouraged me. Thank you!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I loved this piece, thank you.
    I found it interesting that you mentioned patterning and understanding structures because I see my strengths in thinking along those lines. I am not autistic that I know. I studied animation at uni because I loved motion in pattern and cycling patterns, and worked on experimental pieces that showed things which did not exist anywhere other than in the mind, such as optical colour blending or a figure moving in a static pattern that was not discernible in independent parts of the art work but showed up when film is projected at the 24 frames per second. I love it but never took classes for money or commercial work, just for myself and my personal stimulation.

    I tend towards random comments.

    One thing- in the article the quote ” in loyalty to their kind they cannot tolerate our minds; in loyalty to their kind, we cannot tolerate their obstruction” is taken ( with the exchange of the word ” rise” to ” minds”) from a book by John Wyndham called Re-Birth, or The Chrysalids anywhere else. It’s about mutant children who have telepathy in a strict fundamentalist culture that forbids mutants of any kind to exist. Great book, one of my faves.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you! And ah, now I must read the novel. Its also entirely possible that I botched the transcription and Jeffferson Airplane may have said “rise” too


      • They said “minds”, you didn’t botch it. They actually had permission from Wyndham to use lines from his book and for the title of the album, but changed the one word.


  3. Have you written about the place where poetry arrives from? the Lyrical mind that rhymes as easy as it breathes, and why these words are different from the rest, to clearly see such meaning in being… from the freestyling rapping to the deep crafting of witches, why, what, where from is this power of rhyme? When I am doing my work, taking women with me into the blood mind, there is tone that arrives, a resonant that I can feel that lets me know… I am there, and then I can bring Her with me… When I was younger, I had a whole three months where everything that came out of my mouth was in rhyme, and it eventually dissolved my whole world. I found the other end of that “time” but have quested for a balanced return to that state ever since. I have sought mention of it… anywhere… but I have found almost nothing of the natural rhyme as a state of mind. Have you? Could you point me to those that perhaps have shared such a vintage?

    Liked by 3 people

    • I haven’t yet in prose, an interesting and daunting challenge! The text that, to me, comes closest, though approaching it indirectly, is Denise Levertov’s _The Poet in the World_

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You have opened my mind to new realms of possibility in understanding, & connection with, my computer scientist son, who is taking a divergent path leading from ADD deep into the forest of “psychoses.” Like yours, his insights are profoundly thought-provoking & startlingly original. What you have written so beautifully above makes perfect sense when applied to our daily task of divining how to survive & coexist in a world where functionality for capitalistic ends is the only generally accepted norm. Our own present reality is another world entirely– remarkably beautiful, imaginative, peaceful, & loving–but very solitary & far removed from the madding crowd. Thank you for your lovely Mother’s Day gift!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Thank You! This article is just beautiful and I noticed it was posted on my birthday so this is like receiving another gift this year. Thank you so much for sharing your profound and concise incites, so very much appreciated!


  6. Great piece.

    I’m not on the autistic spectrum. I find it to be a tough situation because, on the one hand, I have no idea what “normal” would look like except on the outside. On the other hand, my mental illness, my curse, my bat in the belfry is a Beast that will kill me in one way or another. Fierstein nailed it in my opinion, “All it wants is to get you alone in a dark room and kill you.”

    I think both varieties of European reductionism are wrong. My Beast can’t be reduced to mere anatomy, chemistry, and behavior. Nor is it the hand of a dualistic supernatural devil acting on idle hands. But I think psychology lost something when they tried to claim enlightenment–now described in terms of fitness, flexibility, heart-rate, and biofeedback–without a big picture that included asuras of delusion, beings of liberation, and those of us who can’t pull ourselves into enlightenment by our bootstraps. Most people can’t, and, quite explicitly, we’re not supposed to.

    Which is a long way of saying that between the religious right, mainstream psychology, and the commodification of religion that important ideas about human suffering and diversity have been erased.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Absolutely . . and lost with those ideas are the maps made by others wandering the same territory. My hope is that we can individually and collectively recover those maps.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. This broke open my heart today. I have wept, and having wept, I will remember my language, for now. Thank you.
    Love, a city witch (they come to me for healing. this. this outsider-ness and status. the contrast. the ‘you are weird but good weird’ and the ache of being so much more than what I allow them to see. the ancient skin of the earth is my bone, my wisdom is just this. change in all things. all universes in all things. I know this like I know my own teeth.)

    I love you. I see you. Keep writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I wept. Thank you. Love, a city witch

    They come to me. They come to means grant me status in secrecy. Obfuscated. The irony or healing in plain sight, under the thinnest cloak. I want you to see me. I do not want to re-live the burning times. I want to walk with you and place your hands in the heart of God/s, soil, air. I will show you the heartbeat of a star in your pulse. I am patient. I will wait, if you are willing. I am heartbroken. I am yours. I am here. Again. I am here again, this time for the greatest work. /: xxxox

    (I think I failed at my first post, so I called this is. however, if I have posted twice, I will come fix it later). Thank you for your writing. THANK YOU

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am changed by this work, these words. Neuro-domesticated versus neuro-feral concept is so ripe and radical. Love it. The witch on the edge if the woods reminds me of the image of the madwoman in the attic, an image of women writers, poets, hysterics, used to marginalized creative women. Being a mad pride advocate through the Icarus Project (which is an organization that could spotlight your work), I seek the metaphors that fit and enhance my view of creative folks. Thank you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am so glad I waited to read this until I could take it in slowly. This is brilliant and beautiful, Sean. Thank you.


  11. My son and I are bipolar–we were dx’d on the same day, him at 7 and me at 47. While I felt betrayed by my biology and genetics, and felt that I wouldn’t have had a child, had I known beforehand. I know diabetics who’ve made such a decision, and one woman who was so affected by the Cuban Missile Crisis in the early 60’s who swore she would never produce her own “hostage to fortune”. I felt that my son’s dx was my genetic fault, but I later found out that it runs in my husban’ds family as well. The only good I could see in this was that he would have one person who knew what the moods felt like, and model how to handle them.

    I don’t know, now that he’s no longer a juvenile, what level dx he’d have, but mine is devoid enough of hypomania that I’m either an NOS or “only” cyclothymic. Aside from this, both of our brains work differently than the neurologically typical. Neither of us have any problems around autists, as our thinking patterns are not all that different. I understand enough of autistic behaviour to know when to cease being a possible over-stimulation–and I’m reasonably good at observing and perceiving things that the neurologically typical don’t even notice.

    I’m a compulsive infoholic, and stuff goes into my input organs (eyes and ears, primarily) and is stored, unconsciously, in my internal database to be useful at some later point. Since I don’t know what might be useful, I make no judgement about what goes in–but I keep being able to link apparently unrelated bits of data to answer a random question. I also can run strings of tangents off what someone is saying, and come up with something that many folk find incomprehensible, not connected, and offputting. I find myself annoyed because allegedly intelligent persons can’t follow the tangents without the entire string being described. My son gets frustrated as well, and one homeless man we help, whose brain worked faster than most around him in his youth, and who might be tagged ADD today, shares this. He is sharp as a tack, but made a number of bad decisions (his words) in his younger years. He’s a great reader, so books I’m not keeping are offered to him.

    My son has always had quite the vivd imagination, which we’ve always enjoyed. His teachers, not necessarily so much–what was going on internally was more interesting than the task at hand in school. When he was in pre-school, aside from liking to help younger kids (still true), he would drag any child who didn’t resist into his fantasy games, including one young autist whose mother thought it helped her son with opening his own imagination.

    He’s always been curious in ways that didn’t mesh with contemporary mainstream education. When he’d ask questions we’d give him as much info as he was willing to accept at the time. When he had an observation, it always seemed to be beyond his years.

    One assignment he had for a module I can’t recall asked him to discuss a fictional boy who was deemed autistic. My son asked for help, because he didn’t understand how to do the assignment. There were individual examples of the child’s behaviour, none of which struck my son as odd, because we each have had similar ones, which we discussed. We both concluded that it was the accumulation of these behaviors which resulted in a belief the child was autistic, not that we found that all that different from us.

    I’m not sure if all this makes my son or me neuroqueer, but I like the term. I certainly own the label neurologically atypical. I’ve been “a little odd” all my life, and I see little reason to change.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Of late, I hear about genetic engineering to “fix” autism, and it makes me angry. Autistic minds work differently, and I see that as a GOOD thing. I do not want to live in the world of It, in Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time–and “fixing autism” feels too much like that to me.

    I can understand helping kids on the autism scale deal with the neurologically typical world, but making them just like NTs is just wrong. Give them skills to “pass” as ordinary, but let them be who they are when they want to skip on the passing thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. That J. Airplane quote is originally from “The Chrysalids” by John Wyndham, a post-apocalyptic novel about a fundamentalist-survivor society that kills any children born “different” from the biblical definition of human and what happens when a group are born with telepathic abilities but no physical abnormalities.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. This reminds me a lot of what people have found about the roles of traditional sacred puppeteers and performing artists, where performance and spiritual life are much more entwined than we tend to think of in the West. …Both vital to the life of a community insofar as these people mediated between humanity and the divine, but marginalized and suspected as not quite human themselves in the process.

    There’s a great book called “The Puppets of Nostalgia” by Jane Marie Law if you’re interested, about this dynamic specifically in the Awaji Ningyo tradition in Japan.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. My heart was racing just reading the title and my hands started their movement and i was afraid,just yet,to read this.

    Thats a good start.


  16. Sean:
    Well, this is a breath of fresh air. I’ve got a nephew who is autistic, into computers, and always had the sense that he was far more associative than I was (although I am in tech). There are just all these random pieces that he enjoys mashing together, while I’m always heading straight to the endpoint. But I always had the sense that he was connecting into a gestalt in formation around digital reality, rather than connecting to ancient energies.

    This may be off-putting – well, let me get around to that. The thing that is tantalizing to me is this sense you have of connecting to those ancient energies. We’ve turned nature into a garden, but the forces that it expresses are incredibly pitiless, in many cases. As a Christian, my sense is that we’re supposed to help them work together harmoniously. They hard part is that what is “harmony” from a human perspective has absolutely no point of contact with a bloom of phytoplankton, except maybe on the most basic level of life force.

    I agree very much with your analysis of capitalism (“One cannot love both God and money”, as Jesus famously said). I’ve spent most of my working life offering therapy to organizations that have succumbed to self-destructive behavior. I’ve also associated with Pagans, but most of them were working with energy that had been humanized. I’ve been looking for a long time for a community to which I can lend my good will that are seeking to get as close to life as they can, specifically with the goal of helping it hang on until we finish growing up. Do you have any suggestions?


    Liked by 2 people

  17. Thank you for sharing this piece. It’s brought together so many of my thoughts from the last 2 years in which I’ve been doing personal work on my diagnoses with Aspergers and Anxiety disorders, studying psychology, and working towards learning how to farm in line with the living earth and soil systems and fight the abusive system of economics. This piece was moving and insightful. It touched my spirit. It is just what I needed to read at this point in my life. I greatly look forward to reading more of your work as you share it.


  18. I was diagnosed with all kinds of labels, autism, schizophrenia. And since a few years ago I quit trying to be normal and beginning to find myself. I feel witchcraft is pulling me all my life, it nearly destroyed me, and I can be so afraid of it. In the same time, I love it and my curiosity is much stronger than my fear. So, there we go again. Thank you for this beautiful work of art, accompanying in my journey, giving me hope and inspiration in the time I need it. Thank you, thank you!


  19. Brilliant and true. An HFA is fine when they are writing complex code, but not when they can deduce truth from patterns in the con game of capitalism. That’s subversive.


  20. Sean, I am not a pagan or a Marxist, but I found this fascinating. I have been thinking about the concept of “neurotypical” and the general conformity of our industrial age. Could you please explain to me (or maybe some commenters can) more about the blogpost which was written as a response to the NYTImes article? It criticizes a lot, but I don’t have the background in the issues to understand what’s behind the anger towards “The parents, the teachers, the therapists and researchers without a clue who are celebrating “recovery” because in their heads they’re defining autism as a fixed set of permanent inabilities—”. This is confusing for me. One, because as I said I just don’t have the backstory, and two, because the few parents and doctors etc. that I know who are working with/parenting/helping people with autism are kind-hearted, well-meaning people, and the parents especially are working like dogs to do something extremely difficult and demanding. Can you please explain more? Thanks, Rachel

    Liked by 1 person

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