Blair has posted the December 2016 Tool newsletter:
(A phrase using both a descriptive genitive and an objective genitive… that’s from ME, and not the season. Just so you know.)
TOOL FAN GETS IT RIGHT!
I don’t know who turned on the Fox News in my apartment on Thanksgiving, but there he was – Jesse Watters – the guy who goes around to events like a Justin Bieber concert and asks ‘random’ people basic history questions that they usually struggle with and most often get wrong. Well, during a Thanksgiving quiz about the Pilgrims, when everyone else was predictively clueless, a dude wearing a TOOL tee shirt nailed it right on the head! After giving the “to escape religious persecution” history book answer to the question, as he was about to enlighten Watters (I’m guessing) with the whole Prince Henry St. Clair voyage to North America, aided by the Knight’s Templar and the Zeno sea charts, he was cut off (I’m guessing), thus keeping the lemmings in a state of utter bliss. Looks like he f**ked with the wrong man-on-the-street this time! And in case “Watters World” does a segment on Christmas – boy, do I have some news for the critic (who might think that candy canes are shaped like a ‘J’ for Jesus) about the true origins of traditional Christmas motifs (in case he didn’t read my December, 2000 e.v. Tool Newsletter). Anyway, congrats to the Tool dude… and to Watters: Happy Holidays!!!
WHAT’S GOING ON WITH THE BAND?
Although I don’t have any additional news about the progress of the new record (good by!), the band will resume their rigorous writing/arranging schedule the first week in January. (To clarify, by “rigorous”, I mean 4 days a week.) However, there is some info about the writing process in an interview with JUSTIN in “BASS PLAYER.” I take it that you already know about the rumors floating around of a major Tool show in 2017. Needless to say, at this time, I CANNOT confirm anything as being official. You also have read the news on the APC Facebook Page about their North American tour in the SPRING, including festival dates and a show at the Hollywood Bowl to get things started on a good note. And while on the subject of MJK, take note that his recent biography, “A PERFECT UNION OF CONTRARY THINGS” debuted at number 10 on the New York Times books hardcover nonfiction bestsellers – quite an achievement for those involved.
As for ADAM, well… he now has a third member for his future band, so congrats to him (and Korin) for that. However, please don’t ask me when their debut album will be released, as I don’t have any timetables yet. I doubt that it will be in 2017, though. Moving on to JUSTIN, check out my recent news post about “BANDWIDTH”, his new joint project with Scott Kirkland from “The Crystal Method.” They recently did a remix together of the PUSCIFER track, “Simultaneous” that’s included on the “MONEY SHOT YOUR RE LOAD” album (www.offwhiterecords.com). Also, watch their recently remixed “FOALS” track entitled “What Went Down” on Youtube. Best of all, Justin told me that BANDWIDTH are currently working on original material. That leaves Danny. Volto! will be performing at Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach, California on SATURDAY, JANUARY 7th. If I hear anything about him doing a NAMM appearance, I will add it to the news section.
“We’re at least closer today than we were yesterday to a new album.”
That’s true my positive thinking friend. And with nuclear proliferation, massive solar flares, global climate change, deadly viruses, large-scale migration, poop-odor repellent commercials, fake news stories, and (still) celebrating the resurrection of Jesus with tales of a bunny laying chocolate eggs (that’s right, Bill), it’s a good thing that it’s closer.
Q: “Curveball, curveball, what ball, where is the ball?”
All I can say is that I am standing in the batter’s box kicking at the dirt near home plate. I’ve got my helmet adjusted and have tightened my gloves. I’m wearing both shin and elbow guards, and there’s lots of pine tar on my piece of lumber. Although the pitcher can reach speeds in the 90s, I’m still looking for that wicked curve…
Q: “I was just wondering? Is there any trick to figuring out when these killer Tool posters are going to be listed? I keep seeing my dreams flash right in front of my eyes and then nothing. I think its great that they are listing some of these treasures that I didn’t even know existed, like that Hawaii poster. Anyway, I hope all you and everyone in the tool family have a great Holiday.”
They sell out really fast, and when I say that there is a very limited number available, were talking about 2 or 3 of each one. If I was to give a heads up saying that they would be in the store at a particular time, it would still be hard to get one because some fans have alarms that let them know when something changes or is added to the site. One person had such a sophisticated system, that he was able to purchase a one of as kind item of Tool memorabilia before it was completely listed in the webstore!
Q: “Blair, I’m curious. As Christmas fast approaches, I found myself wondering what it is that the members of Tool may be interested in Gift wise. Not that I am planning on running out and spending what little money I do have. However, if You were to decide you were going to go out and buy each member a gift that each one would appreciate and enjoy, what would they be?”
You can’t purchase it, but as for Maynard, Adam, and Danny, I would guess that what they want most is good health and well being for their loved ones. With Justin, pretty much the same, except that he might also want a Sikorsky S-76C helicopter to go salmon fishing in Alaska. That or a massive sailboat like the “Mirabella’ on which to enjoy his poached salmon. However, the best that I could probably do would be to get him a box of festive British Luxury Christmas Crackers from the veryfirstto.com website, and hope that inside is the winning ticket for an Aston Martin or, maybe, an impressive yacht.
Q: “I know you work hard on the newsletter and I appreciate this. In fact, the newsletter is what I’ve looked forward to all of these years. I hope the December newsletter comes out soon.”
Thanks! Well, I better get busy if I want to have it up on X-mas day – so that you can read about the “Santa Code” (that I first wrote about in the December 2000 E.V. Tool Newsletter, but have now expanded). If you do read it, make sure that you also read my disclaimer at the end!
In my December 2000 e.v. Tool Newsletter, I suggested a connection between ancient shamanic ritual ceremonies involving the use of the hallucinogenic fly-agaric mushroom, genus Amanita muscaria, and traditional Christmas motifs, with the emphasis being on Santa and his helpers. 16 years later the Internet contains numerous articles about the Santa-Amanita analogy that are essentially the same as my earlier work, although some of the researchers have added a few new elements. Towards the end of my original article, for the sake of clarity, I repeated the list of connections in the shamanic origins of Santa Claus and holiday symbols, adding that it included everything but Santa’s Ho! Ho! Ho!, and that I was working on that! Soon after, I had the idea that this involved the shaman’s deep-throated chant – that which helped induce the necessary altered states of consciousness for his otherworldly journey. However, I later realized, unless it was just an incredible coincidence, Santa’s Ho Ho Ho chuckle hinted at the complex pharmacology of the Amanita muscaria mushroom, namely the chemical structure of ibotenic acid and muscimol.
For those of you who are not familiar with the “Santa Code”, here are some of the more significant connections between ancient shamanistic rituals and modern Christmas iconography:
CAP ON HEAD, SUIT THAT’S RED
First of all there is the obvious association between the mushroom’s distinctive colors and that of Santa’s attire. Amanita muscaria has a red canopy with white flecks, and Santa has a beard of white and coat of red. When I first pointed this out in the 2000 newsletter, some readers were quick to respond with the Santa Claus-Coco-Cola advertisements of the holiday season, stating that Santa’s original robe was green, and later changed to the corporate colors of the soft drink company. However, despite the jolly one’s Coke guzzling image, the evidence clearly shows that long before the existence of the Coca-Cola brand, Santa was often depicted in his familiar red suit (for example, in the morphing artwork of caricaturist Thomas Nast.)
THE NORTH POLE
Ethno-botanists have traced the widespread use of Amanita muscaria for magico-religious purposes to the forest-belts of the northern latitudes (near the Artic Circle). In the Santa Claus mythology, this coincides with his northern residence and the elves’ secret workshop.
THE DECORATED CHRISTMAS TREE
An important feature in the Christmas tapestry is the decorated evergreen tree. Amanita muscaria is a denizen of the conifer forest, which it has a symbiotic relationship with. It was a mystery to the ancients (and early mycologists!) how the mushroom suddenly sprang from the earth-womb under the tree without apparent seed on dewy mornings. This unique mode of conception was believed to be the result of the spermal emission of God. The silver tinsel draped in festoons on modern Christmas trees is emblematic of God’s spermatozoa, which drips from above, and is scattered as celestial dew under the tree from which the sacred fungi spontaneously appears. The star or angel that crowns the Christmas tree represents the luminaries of the heavens; in particular, the radiant morning and evening star (Venus) whose fertilizing astral rays produce the seminal fluid (again, dew) that ‘miraculously’ brings about the ‘Virgin Birth’ of the fly agaric, genus Amanita. The twinkling multicolored lights that adorn Christmas trees are symbolic of the flashes of intense colors experienced by the bemushroomed shaman as part of its potent entheogenic effects.
Amanita muscaria is easily recognizable as the toadstool abode of elves and fairies in European folklore as is depicted in numerous Victorian era illustrations. Frequently accompanied by the shaman’s spirit guides, the mushroom is also discernible in cave petroglyphs and encoded in old world church frescoes. The mushroom’s notable affinity with elves also figures prominently in the Christmas tradition as Santa’s little helpers and the bustling activity at his secret North Pole workshop. In the shamanic rituals, gnomes and elf-like entities are the vivid constructs encountered during the visionary voyages of those who partake of the mushroom’s powerful hallucinogenic properties. During such heightened states of awareness; the celebrants receive the ‘unwrapped’ gift of extraordinary visions and hidden knowledge.
FLYING REINDEER AND SANTA’S SLEIGH
Among the shamans and tribes people in the Artic and boreal regions, one of the preferred methods of imbibing Amanita muscaria is to drink the urine of reindeer that browsed on the mind-altering fungi. According to some ethno-botanists, chewed mushrooms passing through the animal’s digestive system (and kidneys) both reduced negative side effects (delirium, nausea and seizures) and increased the efficacy of their entheogenic effects. The psychoactive decoction doesn’t, however, prevent the intoxicated person’s facial features from becoming noticeably flushed with a ruddy glow as they commune with the spirits. This unpalatable method of consuming Amanita muscaria – along with the telltale side-effect – may be the source of Santa’s flying reindeer, and of one in particular, Rudolph, whose nose glowed bright red as he guided Santa through the foggy night in order to deliver his gifts. In the shaman’s spirit-journey, the “foggy night” refers to any visual distortions and neural turbulence experienced while being transported into an alternative realm of consciousness by the mushroom’s wondrous properties.
STOCKINGS HANGING FROM THE FIREPLACE MANTLE
If not consuming the reindeer potion, the shaman ingests the diced “Flesh of the Gods” after the mushrooms have been dried in a leather pouch suspended near a blazing fire. A reminder of this Siberian religio-cultural practice is the holiday custom of Christmas stockings hanging from the fireplace mantle.
SANTA COMES DOWN THE CHIMNEY
Santa’s unorthodox mode of entering one’s house by climbing down the sooty chimney is symbolic of the shaman’s spirit body’s descent into the underworld (collective unconscious) in order to access the gift of inner vision.
Although their origin is still shrouded in mystery, traditional red and white candy canes hanging from the Christmas tree bring to mind the decorated ritual staff that is an integral part of the shaman’s regalia. The staff is the physical representation of the axis where two realities join, and functions as an energy conduit or mediator between the physical and spiritual realms. Such magical wooden staffs are often adorned with talismanic carvings and topped with jingle cones or pine rattles.
SANTA’S BELL RINGING FOR THE SALVATION ARMY
The time for charity and helping the needy has its likeness to the duties and function of the tribal shaman.
GINGERBREAD PEOPLE AND GUMDROP COTTAGES
The ubiquitous Christmas cannibalization of the gingerbread people confection (as well as eating the shingles from a candy cottage) hints at the ultimate shamanic secret – although it would be unwise to comment further, even should one be starving for this esoteric knowledge.
There are several varieties in the genus Amanita that might be mistaken for Amanita muscaria, some of which are poisonous and even deadly. Therefore, proper identification is crucial, especially for anyone planning on consuming them.