by Dan Green
With the first year anniversary of David Bowie’s death and instant cremation upon us, I thought I would also add to the vast commentaries that have surfaced over that period. One burning question that has, to all intents and purposes, often addressed in a serious tone is could he, indeed, masking perfectly within his interests and portrayal of all things alien, have actually been an alien? The perfect cover? Is such a question, I hear many cry, even valid?
His interest in all things occult is well documented. Here was a soul searching to understand the Mind and in particular that troubled aspect we know so little about, schizophrenia, who took to looking inward by following Buddhist practice, and of course there was the most troubled period of his life mid seventies when his addiction to drugs ought have earned him casualty status.
I’d like to take a slightly different angle on this and try and relate how the occult may have worked Bowie, and not the other way around. My commonality with him starts at Samye-Ling the Tibetan Centre-cum- monastery up in Dumfries, Scotland. Note instantly the near proximity in the place name Dumfries and Tony Devries, Bowie’s once manager. Bowie and his American Producer Tony Visconti visited the Centre, we gather, in 1967, and I was also drawn there ten years later.
Pic 1: David Bowie in his final year.
Both Bowie and I clearly had (and in my case, have) a strange Tibetan entanglement. Some would automatically explain this as reincarnation, a subject David had an early interest in. Me, I’m unsure especially having the understanding that if we go back far enough then modern day ‘recycled’ atoms – what we call ‘Us’! – will have spent time in people from our history, potentially allowing our bodies to contain atom from perhaps even kings and queens from centuries ago. Jesters too! This certainly opens up the possibility of re-activating a DNA from a historical figure. Anyway, enough of this Quantum Theory digression.
When you mention Bowie to anybody around and about in the 1970’s, his character creation Ziggy Stardust will be cited synonymously. Bowie reckons he bagged the Ziggy title after looking through the window and noticing a sign above a Tailors shop during a train ride, me I am more inclined to think he arrived at it by way of the word ‘Syzygy’, ( syZYGY = Ziggy) meaning the conjunction or opposition; the period of the full or new moon. Both phases are now under scientific scrutiny in connection with the real phenomenon of ‘moon madness’. Far better Bowie chroniclers than myself (I think of both Nicholas Pegg and Peter Doggett for example) have assisted us in realising that first and foremost David saw himself an actor and then perhaps painter, or at least these were his preferred aspirations. Somehow in the middle he became one of our most talked about rock and pop stars.
Pic 2: Ziggy Stardust
It seems like Ziggy was a challenge or a bet and that David had set out to prove that he could manufacture a rock star, once achieved then kill him off. Which is what he did, leaving him with, what next? Bowie has stated that in order to stave off fear of an impending madness that he always thought was awaiting him through family genetics, he would have to replace it with ceaseless, creative output, turning to cocaine for assistance.
Bowie’s family comprised of, in addition to his half sibling and admired mentor Terry who eventually took his own life, two schizophrenic aunts and another institutionalised for mental illness. It is a fact that although certain drugs including cocaine don’t directly cause schizophrenia, their misuse may trigger symptoms in people who are susceptible.
So much about madness is included in many of his songs and pointed out by many researchers some of whom have gone to great lengths to try and interpret the lyrics of these arcane songs. Sometimes they are blatantly obvious and others time rather subtly hinted. At the time of his mental health crisis in 1975 the occult became the theme of his Station to Station album, the stations referred to being the Sefiroths of the Tree of Life in mystical Jewish Kabbalah. 1975-76 saw Bowie peak with cocaine induced psychosis in which he had continuous episodes of hallucinations, a symptom of schizophrenia.
Pic 3: Young Bowie with his troubled half brother Terry
My own feelings are that Bowie’s early interest in Tibetan Buddhism never completely left him and amidst major he grabbed at it as a hand rail for stability when it suited him or when he found it easier to. Perhaps the ‘Crazy Wisdom’ of the Vajrayana School permitted him to behave in the fashion that he often did, freeing him up for the full gamut of sex, drugs and rock n roll without it being any breach of Buddhism. This, to the uninitiated, may need an explanation! And I will be careful what I do say.
Vajrayana can illuminate the way you perceive your reality, given that we all create our own. It is indeed an illusion, and once you have genuinely, earnestly and honestly earned the right to have experienced that knowledge through meditative wisdom then you can behave how you wish as long as you KNOW your lifestyle to be so, an illusion – the trick is in knowing you are in the Matrix but also knowing that you can, having mastered the illusion and not being attached to it, unplug your real ‘Selfless Self’ when required. This appears to have been the way for renowned and controversial Tibetan lama Chogyam Trungpa, one of the first Teachers in the West (who had stayed at Samye-Ling also) and who died aged 48 from alcoholism, no stranger either to sex and drugs. Another tactic is to experience the illusion full on, indulging in both dualistic opposites of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ to burn them out and be free from all attachment. Not for me, but was this Bowie’s lifestyle?
Pic 4: The Vajrayana Diamond Vehicle
A little bit about this ‘Illusion’ thing. Of course this life is real. Have anybody punch you in the nose and you’ll know so. What is meant is that it isn’t the ONLY reality. Basic facts from physics remind us that our body is comprised of 7,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, atoms (who counts these things!), and that all atoms from which everything is composed of never actually touch each other, for as electrical charges, like opposing magnets, they ensure a greater repulsion coming from the closer they get. You are, can you believe, infinitesimally suspended upon the chair you sit reading this blog and not actually making contact with it! Now, if that isn’t crazy wisdom….
Back to Bowie and how he demonstrated harboured quirkiness or a glitch in his Matrix, as a Grim Reaper by proxy. After appearing with his long time friendly foe Marc Bolan on Marc’s own TV show in September 1977 Bolan went on to die in a tragic accident. Perhaps a clue to what would transpire is that at the end of the show Marc off camera clumsily fell off stage. Similarly, after appearing with Bowie on his USA show, Bing Crosby died soon afterwards in October from a heart attack. In Marc’s case – real name Mark Feld – he hit a tree whilst a passenger in a drunken driven car. I think his destiny was always auspiciously encrypted in his surname; Feld = ‘felled’, past participle of ‘fell’, to cause to fall. The word ‘Bole’ means the trunk of a tree. Another Matrix glitch involved death involved Mark Chapman who shot John Lennon. Bowie was also his other candidate we have since learned, but instead, his final choice was to be a sixties icon rather than a seventies.
Pic 5 & 6: Bowie with Crosby and with Bolan
In a lot of early interviews both in the music press and on TV Bowie would always be mentioning two key words regarding himself, and these words were ‘alienation’ and ‘fragmentation’. You will find both also mentioned in description of schizophrenia, so there is little doubt that Bowie did view himself as awaiting this state to one moment possess him. Whether he may have clinically had the condition, which can vanish for good as easily as it appears, we will never know. His famous album cover of his post-Ziggy creation Aladdin Sane (obvious pun; ‘A lad insane’) has his face with that famous streak across it. This might easily be a portrayal of the lightning bolt flash symbolically associated with Vajrayana. With both schizophrenia and Tibetan Buddhism never far from his mind (pun intended) we should really take at least a brief look at any correlations between both.
As many students of Buddhism, lamas included, have related, Vajrayana practice can be dangerous if not overseen by attendant and guiding Teachers, (of which I have and have always). Given that the rising ‘Serpent power’ of the primal energy of Kundalini from the base of the spine is part of the achievement of this deeply profound meditation, often bizarre side effects and behaviours can manifest out of control. Vajrayana, the ‘Diamond’ or ‘Thunderbolt’ vehicle (recall Bowie’s ‘Diamond Dogs’ album) can place you sitting in the clear light and middle of the Diamond Heart Jewel, (Mind) in timeless space, watching the many aspects that come off from its facets.
Pic 7: Aladdin Sane?
As we are discussing shift in consciousness, and remember the Tibetans have categorised 49 such levels, the practitioner really must be in control of the practice. To lose this control, or hand rail, could quite easily invite one into front row seats to the pyrotechnics of the Unconscious Mind, and what we call schizophrenia may well be one of those seats. An out of control temporary schizophrenic state might well be a raw and therefore undesirable level within those forty nine. Until neurology and psychiatry ever understand what schizophrenia is and how it occurs we must not shame those who have part of full life time battles with it.
However arrived at, as a natural creative expression, drug induced or assisted with a wavering level of adjusted consciousness desired or otherwise, Bowie, electing to stay within the music biz and most likely enforced to do so by his legion of expectant fans, was adept in alternative thinking and would often act this out theatrically on his live shows and certainly within his lyrics.
So what about his ‘alien’ status, this man who fell to earth, and what I meant about the occult working him? Certainly he qualifies as an ‘alien’ if only on his ‘alienation’ grounds. For those expecting androgyny to play a part as you might with any self respecting Starman, heed the words spoken by his Japanese clothes designer Kansai Yamamoto; ‘He has an unusual face, He’s neither man nor woman’.
Pic 8: The Man Who Fell to Earth
I met Bowie in June 1978 during his stay at the Gosforth Park Hotel, Newcastle, at the start of his world tour. He actually gave me a scoop – his song ‘Life on Mars’ is about parallel dimensions. The previous year I had already made an energy connection when had taken the time to personally handwrite a response to a speculative correspondence I had left him backstage at a show when he played keyboards for his equally troubled friend Iggy Pop. Sometimes in our personal time line even a brief encounter with an individual, often a stranger, can both achieve and hide something that we can never really understand the significance of. You can never know in this Mystery of Life what has actually occurred during those moments of energy interchange, DNA links, and being in each others’ aura.
I have no doubt that, at least, my 1978 meeting was in some way a part of both our Tibetan entanglements. Was the occult working through him? It’s a bit like one of those scenes in old spy movies when the agents coyly sit next to one another on a park bench seat whilst hiding behind a newspaper each only for one to whisper to the other out the corner of his mouth, ‘The pearl is in the soup’ and await the confirmed response! Bowie’s support for the Tibetan Cause lasted well into his life often venturing into controversial water such as his 1997 recording of ‘Seven years in Tibet’ recorded in Mandarin and dedicated to Hong Kong before their handover to the Chinese.
Pic 9: Bowie at Gosforth Park Hotel, Newcastle 1978
In my own life I have had to recognise a Tibetan ‘intervention’ and involvement in my research into all things mysterious , the current conclusion suggesting I have located a most powerful power point on the globe – an activation point for communication with other levels of consciousness within Time-Space. Very alien. Was a destined meeting with Bowie a brief Quantum Entanglement? If you take a close look at the cover of his classic Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars album you will see Ziggy waiting under a sign that reads ‘K. West’. Whether he contrived this or whether his Unconscious Mind did, either way it visually suggests that he WAS on a ‘Quest’. The word ‘alien’ comes from Latin ‘Alienus’, alius, meaning ‘other’. I can qualify him as the ‘alien’ many of you might want him to be, by the following explanation.
Pic 10: Bowie ‘s Hidden Alien Quest
Without moving too deeply into lengthy explanations of Tibetan mysticism, it will be sufficient to explain that a ‘central channel’ connects vertically from the crown of the head to an area in front of the spinal base of which strategic points down this straight line highlight seven focal points or ‘energy wheels’ usually called chakras. This ‘Vajra’ body is a collective system of channels, energy ‘winds’ – the energy serving as a mount for various dense and subtle states of consciousness – and ‘drops’ –used in the generation of great bliss – that can be activated through Yoga Tantra. It is down this central channel that various burst of energy can be directed outward, referred to by the Chinese as Chi energy. It is by direct reference to these energy winds coined by the Tibetans that leads us to an alternative antiquity and the word ‘Aeolian’, pertaining to Aeolus, in Greek myth the God of the winds, and from which comes a word even more familiar to New Age clientele, a corruption of ‘Aeolian’ becoming the modern day ‘alien’ as in science fiction. If David Bowie was a genuine practitioner of Vajrayana Tibetan Buddhism, then he might just have been such an alien after all.
Pic 11: The Vajra Body
Apart from our Samye-Ling commonality, two other entanglements with Bowie are my recent growing friendship with USA ‘Night Vision’ radio host Rene Barnett whose ancestry goes back to the alleged ‘extraterrestrial’ line of the Frankish dynasty known as the Merovingians, via Clothilde and Clovis, and whose surname is exactly that of David’s first wife Angela; also that his dance and mime artist teacher Lindsay Kemp, like myself, was born in the small North East town of South Shields. Incidentally amongst one of David’s long lost and unreleased missing titles from the mid-late 60’s was a song called ‘Lincoln House’ reflecting where I live now, in a house in Lincoln in the East Midlands.
Oh, and from the culmination of my work over the last thirty years emerges the reoccurring presence of a dagger. Was it coincidence that Mr David Robert Jones chose the surname ‘Bowie’ to lead him along his quest? The name, I’m sure you know, comes from the 19th century weapon created for James Bowie, a pioneer in the Texas Revolution. It was of course…. a dagger knife.
Copyright 2016 by Dan Green